Wednesday, January 14, 2015

To ski or not to ski?

At my advanced age, I am wondering if I should give up skiing.  I am on board to chaperone our upcoming Diocesan youth event, Snow Slam.  To be honest, I am well past the age of being comfortable sleeping on a church floor, so am sure this will be my last such event.
 In my early twenties and being a fairly athletic person, I believed a friend's suggestion that I could handle the blue slopes after only a morning of ski class.
(Thanks Kathy B!)  After a terrifying fall and the subsequent impact of several (also unskilled skiers) hitting me, I took off my skies and walked down to the bunny slopes.  Vowing never to ski again!  

Years later, a kind friend, Ken C., suggested that, if he could ski having suffered from polio, certainly I could ski with two legs the same length.  He undertook coaching me into being a fairly competent, though still tentative skier.  I never attempted the black runs and only a few blue, but loved the greens.  In my forties and fifties, I did not spend much time skiing because of work and family obligations (and because being an introvert made me treasure the times my husband would take the children skiing and I could have a weekend to myself!) My friend, Margaret, is still skiing and is amazed that she can ski for free at the age of 70.  She insisted she could sleep on the floor with me (although her husband is insisting they stay in a hotel!) and she may just shame me into taking my last runs down the hills!  We will see.
Maybe the fact that men have beards makes them ski longer? Image Via
For an interesting article about why women give up skiing at an earlier age than men visit the Out There Blog.

I am wondering, if you are an older skier, at what point might you decide to give it up?  When I fell (tripping on a speed bump in a rain soaked parking lot.. but just walking) and broke my arm last year, I decided perhaps I should give up my roller blades and I gave them away.  Should people on Social Security and Medicare begin to be a bit more careful?
Or should we just deal with the consequences of falling?  What do you think? 

However, a new generation is growing up to love skiing!
My two and a half year old granddaughter, Eliza, is fearless!
Eliza's first lift ticket

It is always more fun with a friend

How far down?
Are we there yet?
Okay, I'm ready!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fergus and Merribelle, Sandia Mountain Fairies

Below you will find a transcribed letter from Fergus and Merribelle, forest fairies, who visit our house in the summers when our grandchildren are in residence.  Although I have tried to photograph them, they are very shy about having portraits made, but here is image that looks a lot like a young Fergus...

The Pear Blossom Fairy

Thu, February 4, 2010

Embroidered by Annisa Lam

Dear Sara,Caroline and Eliza 

We received Sara and Caroline's letter today.  It went to our former address in Puerto Vallarta where we spent last winter.  The fairies there forwarded it on to us.  I had forgotten to tell GG that we planned to spend this winter in Mazatlan instead.   We found a lovely fairy family who were willing to rent rooms to us "norteno hadas" (that means "northern fairies" in Spanish.)

Their home is in an no longer used tower of an historical old house...
This is a very large and busy city compared to our summer home in New Mexico.  It is noisy all day and much of the night.  However, Merribelle  is very interested in the theatre and the Angela Peralta Theater has lots of performances that we are attending.
Fortunately, it is warm in Mazatlan most of the time, and the theatre staff leave lots of windows open to catch the breezes.  We can't very well purchase tickets since most adults have lost their magic and cannot see us, so we fly in through the windows. Tomorrow we will see...

 In February, we will go to see
And then in March

Sara and Caroline, we were very glad to hear from you.  To answer your question, we will not be able to move to California, because Merribelle has sisters in New Mexico that she doesn't want to leave.  However, we have found two fairy families who are spending the winter in Mexico that might consider your house and fairy garden for their summer home.  One couple currently spends summers in Golden Gate Park.  They had a close encounter with a mean dog and are considering a move to a less public home.  The other couple is expecting their first baby and wish to find a human family to live with so their baby can observe human children.  GG tells me that Albany is warmer than San Francisco which would be better for the baby as well.  They will both visit your house when they return North in May. Hopefully one of these families will like your new fairy garden.  GG tells us that you might be visiting New Mexico sometime in June and we are looking forward to that visit.  

Eliza, the Winter Fairies, that stayed briefly at your GG and Pau Pau's house in December tell me that you are growing into a fine young lady.  Perhaps we will see you as well this summer.  Remember that fairies like human children who are happy and well-behaved but they stay away from children who hit and bite and yell.   

Now we are off to the beach where we spend most of our days... 
I want to learn to sail, but so far we have not found anyone who makes fairy sized sailboats.  

See your soon.

Love and Fairy Kisses,  Fergus 

P.S.  Merribelle has learned to make tamales.  She likes to make them filled with shrimp.  Yum!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Morning on the Mountain

Photo by Heather Gaume, Clouds over the Sandias

Photo by Heather Gaume, Mist on the Mountain
Most mornings here on the mountainside, it is possible to experience a glimpse of the grandeur of creation, in a constant dance of weather patterns.  This morning it is misty and cold and I am running the generator to charge the batteries in our off the grid house.  How glad I am for this merry little noise maker!  Twenty minutes and there will be enough charge to keep everything running for this day even with the clouds hanging about the mountain on the east and the ridge on the west of our house blocking the sun that the solar panels require to work.

And while on the topic of the grandeur of creation, I want to mention that I found "The Theory of Everything" to be a very compelling movie.  After my busy days in town, I rarely make it back to town to see a film in a theater.  

The movie is based on a book written by his first wife, Jane.  It chronicles the story of their marriage and Stephen's astonishing intellect and courage. Jane, played by Felicity Jones, lights up the movie with her love and Stephen, brought to life by the young actor, Eddie Redmayne, becomes real and approachable, rather than the towering brilliant mind so universally admired.  

Jane is a person of faith, having grown up in the the "C of E" as she puts it on meeting Stephen for the first time.  That would be Church of England for those of you who missed the reference.  I attend the Episcopal church, the American branch of the Church of England.

Stephen is most definitely not a person of faith, but rather a scientist.  This brings an interesting tension into their otherwise seemingly invincible marriage. 

"In considering the beginnings of the universe, Stephen has concluded that there is no need for a creator, that the laws of science allow the universe to come into being on its own.  Modern physics leaves no place for God in the creation of the Universe, Stephen Hawking has concluded.

Just as Darwinism removed the need for a creator in the sphere of biology, Britain's most eminent scientist argues that a new series of theories have rendered redundant the role of a creator for the Universe.

In his forthcoming book, an extract from which is published exclusively in Eureka, published today with The Times, Professor Hawking sets out to answer the question: "Did the Universe need a creator?" The answer he gives is a resounding "no".

Far from being a once-in-a-million event that could only be accounted for by extraordinary serendipity or a divine hand, the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Hawking says." - From an article in Time Magazine.

This morning, not possessing a brilliant mind but gazing at the mountainside, my heart screams out in disagreement.  Perhaps our universe did not need a creator.  Perhaps the laws of physics were not set into place by a creator but "just happened."  But I still know that God exists.  I don't know how or why, nor do I really care, not being a theologian, but I feel an abiding, deep seated need to worship.  Stephen worships creation.  I worship the Creator. 

However, just because I disagree with Stephen's conclusions, doesn't mean I would wish for you to miss this movie.  He and Jane's lives are fascinating and inspiring.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Put your money where your mouth is"

Full disclosure  This blog post is my opinion and does not represent anyone else's, especially my husband's.  Although I am guessing what he might think, he has not read or approved this post.
This Bible verse,  

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

has been used many times through the years by preachers to illustrate the folly of relying on your own resources, rather than God to create a fulfilling life.  Others writer's think that the heart is the seat of the emotions. So what the verse is saying might be "where you invest your resources (money, time, etc.) shows what you really love."

Photo via
My husband, Norm, really loves rivers.  For him, they are fonts of life, the arteries of the heartland.  Spiritual places where all God's creatures are drawn for water, for habitat, for life itself.  Mankind builds its homes and businesses along rivers.  Rivers supply transportation, energy, and irrigation.  Not just for man, but for all species.

Over this past year, my husband has been drawn into a battle.  The battle is over whether or not to dam the Gila river to provide more water for irrigation of the ranches and farmlands of southwestern New Mexico.  This battle has been fought before.  Several better options for diversions were discarded due to the enormous costs and technical difficulties of the terrain.  Lord knows the drought has made water issues paramount in many people's priorities and the idea of diverting water from the Gila is once again on the table.
Photo by Steve Harris

'The latest threat stems from an amendment to the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act, which provides $66 million of federal money for any water-related purpose in southwestern New Mexico, and encourages the state to divert 14,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Gila River and its tributary the San Francisco River. If used sensibly, this funding could provide the financing for critical water and waste-water infrastructure and municipal and agricultural conservation needs. New Mexico may receive an additional $34 – $62 million for a “NM Unit”  to consumptively use Gila River water." - Allyson Swick, The Gila Conservation Coalition. 

Norm is convinced that this diversion will provide very little reliable water for New Mexicans at an enormous cost, both financially for New Mexico taxpayers and environmentally for the endangered species that depend on a free flowing river.  So he is fighting to educate voters about this issue.

August 26, 2014

Gila Wilderness

Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic

It is not an easy fight.  It brings to mind David facing Goliath. 
On one side (the Goliath side) is the Interstate Stream Commission backed by the State of New Mexico' coffers and lawyers, the ranchers and farmers in the Gila area who stand to benefit from more water, financiers who are eagerly hoping to privatize this water project, Freeport McMoRan, the U.S.-based natural resource company with an industry leading global portfolio of mineral assets, significant oil and gas resources and a growing production profile who own a quite a lot of land and water rights in the area, 

and the construction and engineering firms who must be salivating at the projected billion dollar cost of the project. One could wonder if the recently replaced State Engineer and ISC Secretary, Scott Verhines' company, Occam Consulting Engineers, might be one of those who bid on this project? 

On the other side is a rather smaller (but growing fast) group of concerned New Mexicans, most of them from the four counties that surround the Gila, who are worried about the damage to their way of life, the endangered species that would be affected, and their pocketbooks, should this diversion be built instead of spending the money on what they consider to be better options for water projects.  Oh, and a bunch of "enviros and boaters" (as one interested party impugned about folks who were not agreeing with him that this diversion would be good for New Mexico.)  

Also in the "David camp" is my husband, Norm Gaume, a former director of the Interstate Stream Commission, who is putting up a good deal his retirement account for the legal battles ahead. As my dad, when playing poker, used to say, "put your money where your mouth is."    Norm filed a complaint that the The Interstate Stream Commission was not following the provisions of the open meetings act.  The state has sued us back.  "The state claims Gaume’s open meetings act allegations were unfounded, and that as a result he should have to pay all the agency’s costs associated with the delay – airfare for the state’s consultants when a meeting was canceled at the last minute, the cost of agency staff time spent defending against his claim and attorneys’ fees spent fighting him in court." -John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal.   

Should the judge agree with the state, at stake for us personally is about $100,000.  Understandably this makes me worried and upset.  However, I have always believed in standing up for what I believe is right, so I am supporting Norm because I believe he is right.

At stake for New Mexico taxpayers is about one billion dollars, minus the $66 million provided by the federal government.  You do the math....

Now the issues become:

              Do we, as New Mexicans, care about our rivers?
              Do we care about endangered species?
              Do we think that government should be open and transparent?
              Do we think that government agencies should be held to telling the 
              Do we think we should be allowed to weigh in about how our tax  
                 dollars are spent? 
To read more, visit The Gila River Conservation Coalition and Norm's website The Gila Wild Defense Fund

One of the lead counsel for the Interstate Stream commission asked our attorney, "what does Norm want?"

I think he wants for the Interstate Stream Commission and staff to return to a more professional stance.  I think he wants them to pay attention to the advice  the experts they have hired have given them rather than ignoring that advice or worse, lying about it.  I think he wants them to consider less expensive ways of increasing water supply for southwestern New Mexico.  And I think he wants them to conduct business openly.  I think he would also like for Governor Martinez to appoint commissioners who have some education and expertise in the highly complex issues they must consider. 

What do I want?  I want what is best for New Mexico. (Okay, I also want not to lose $100,000 in court.)

Idealistic?  Well, yes, but don't we all want a better government?  And maybe a pristine river for our children and grandchildren where they can experience trees, birds, snakes, amphibians and fish that the experts the I.S.C. hired said would vanish without a free flowing river?