The Power of Love


Today is the fourth day of 2011 and maybe today I can shake off the doldrums that started on New Year’s morning when my parents said “goodbye” and drove away. One might think that after almost two weeks of family visiting, we would be happy to get our house and our lives back to normal, and I suppose, on some levels, that is true. momOn a deeper level though, we just felt sort of empty. Steve and I both wandered around, restless and unsettled for a whole day. We stayed busy on days two and three so it got easier but it was clear to both of us that this Christmas season had given us something we had been missing. We even identified what that something was. We felt loved.

It’s hard to admit that in our day-to-day lives we are missing feeling loved. We have each other and we are almost always together so, in truth, every day IS filled with love. Not to mention the dogs and yes, even the cat, who share themselves so freely with us. brother-dottieAnd still, we feel a lack. Facebook can be fun but it is a sad replacement for authentic relationships, and sometimes it just serves to point out all that we are missing. We have made new acquaintances in Texas but sometimes that isn’t enough, and real friendships take time.

Last year was a hard year for our extended family … much acknowledged estrangement and more lurking under the surface unaddressed. My faith in family was shaken. Maybe this is why it has been so hard to drum up motivation to update this site. I want to tell happy stories and show off beautiful pictures. And I want to feel like it matters … that people care. I do know that my mom and sister appreciate the effort. And even a few of you lurkers out there have let me know it’s time for an update. Is it wrong to want more? (Yes, that is a rhetorical question.)

Okay, enough. I don’t want to dwell in this place and I’m not looking to be reassured. I just couldn’t bring myself to recount the activities of our days without acknowledging some underlying sorrow for a change. Thank you, Mom and Dad, and Michele, Shaun and Steve, for filling the end of 2010 with love. May 2011 be filled with even more. Love. It’s powerful stuff.


Winter Solstice pics with Mom and Dad out on the pontoon are on facebook. Too bad my brother and sister didn’t get here in time for lake weather!

Life at the South Rim

Dottie looking over rim of Grand Canyon

We never unhitched the truck during our four day stay at the South Rim. Morning and night, we hiked to the rim from Mather Campground. As usual, Ginger rode like a queen in the jogger, which also carried our coffee and breakfast, or dinner, and the camera, tripod, extra layers, flashlight, etc. Mid day, dogs stayed in the trailer while Steve and I biked or took the shuttle buses around the Park. Not a bad system!

I can’t help but wonder how many tourists left the Grand Canyon with photos of our dogs with the Canyon as mere backdrop. Grand Canyon is more dog-friendly than most National Parks. You can’t take them down into the Canyon but they are allowed anywhere on the Rim Trail. During our daily sunrise and sunset pilgrimages, the dogs seemed to draw as much attention as the light show on the canyon walls. On our last morning, I stepped away to … ahem … use the facilities, and returned to find my family ringed by women … petting my dogs, chatting up my husband, and snapping pics of the whole entourage.

Birds were a definite highlight, with “life” birds ranging in size from the tiny Pygmy Nuthatch to the huge California Condor. Western Bluebirds, White Breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, and Ravens were a common and constant presence in camp. Out at the Rim, hawks (Cooper’s, Red Tail), falcons (Peregrine, American Kestrel), Turkey Vultures and more Ravens were the norm. We saw a couple of mature Bald Eagles flying high overhead but our condor sighting was the most exciting. California Condor 33Though Condors are increasing in numbers, thanks to captive breeding programs, they are still endangered and rare. We wouldn’t have noticed “ours” if two women hadn’t stopped us to point her out. She was sitting on the cliff edge, just below the rim, and they thought she was a bald eagle because she was bald! I think they were a mite disappointed to learn that bald eagles aren’t bald but it was mitigated when they heard how special it is to see a California Condor! At a glance we may have dismissed her as a Turkey Vulture, but for the large tag she wore on her wing. Back at camp I did some research and learned that #33 is a 14 year old female, born at the LA Zoo, and released at the Grand Canyon. She is mated to #87 (condors mate for life) and has produced one chick. This year she missed mating because she was sick with lead poisoning, a common problem for scavengers feeding on carrion shot with lead ammunition. Two other breeding females were lost this year due to lead poisoning, but #33 was fortunate. She was captured and taken to a rehab facility in Phoenix where she was successfully treated. Yay!! May you live long and prosper, #33! And may I get better binoculars for that rather momentous birthday that is looming large!

More Grand Canyon photos are available at this facebook link.