Great Big Beautiful Clouds



My father took red roses to my mother’s grave today. I went with him to buy the roses—plastic, long-stemmed copies of the real thing. Artificial baby’s breath round out the bouquet, which he put in the marble vase where her ashes lie.

Whatever remains of my grandmother and grandfather since they died, years ago, now lie near my mother’s grave. These are my father’s parents, not hers, and my father’s name is already etched in the tombstone he will share with my mother.

To be truthful, I doubt that my mother needs the comfort of proximity to her in-laws now.  I like to think that she is unencumbered by protocol and customary expectations in her new form. She lives wherever and however she wants and she is energetic and youthful and pain-free. She is not lying below the ground.


Cemeteries are for the living. Spirits long gone do not live below earth except in the form of rooted oaks and baby acorns or the iris clump that started from bulb taken from my great-grandmother’s garden. They lie in the wisp of white cloud against sapphire blue skies, dipping and swirling to touch the mountain top. They can be heard in wind moving through the pines and in birdsong that plays before the rest of the world awakes.

That hummingbird I hear just now may be my mother. I can imagine her flitting around, saying hello with a trill of noise and a flash of velvety green that I see from the corner of my eye.

Or she might be riding on one of those great, big beautiful clouds.

No matter which, I know she’s there.




I took these pictures of clouds on a visit to the ghost town of Caribou, Colorado.  

There is more about Caribou in my post on Through the Lens of We.

And if you missed out, I hope you will check out the photography and thoughts at some of my other posts there: 

No Matter Which Way

True Blue

Of Sunshine and Leaves

The Future Lives in a Cloud

How Things Began


All in a Blog’s Time, My Pretty

Spring Morning:  Lucky Dog Ranch

Spring Morning: Lucky Dog Ranch


In the excitement and diversion of launching Through the Lens of We, I paused for a moment and thought about the beginning of my musings as Winsomebella.

I started scribbling here just about two years ago, during a visit back to the cabin at the Lucky Dog Ranch. I had moved to the Denver area but I returned for a weekend to care for the place, to scrub and paint and open it for summer. But when an uncommon steady rain interrupted planned outdoor chores, I got diverted and started writing.

I was still quite tender about the Ranch when I started this blog.

You probably could tell that then. I wrote about life in a log cabin at an altitude of 8000 feet on 40 acres in the midst of acres and acres of national forest. I wrote about the Ranch tempting me with its wild hand of new adventure and how my hand was weary and slapped silly by the poor results of a long marriage. I wrote about moving there when my marriage had gone under for the last, ugly time and how it felt to live alone for the first time in my life, at the overripe age of a few years past 50.

You can see its place in the vastness in this picture.

You can see its place in the vastness in this picture.

I wrote about plowing snow with an ATV; about shoveling earth to divert run-off water to irrigate the meadow properly; about wielding a chain saw and rather handily cutting brush for fire mitigation; and how I eventually took the time to cook a meal-for-one that did not involve Cheerios. I recalled that aha! moment when I first realized that the clutter and mess I had blamed on a husband and two sons for nearly 30 years was actually my mess and mine alone.

Saturday night at Lucky Dog Ranch

This view is one of the reasons it’s called The Lucky Dog Ranch.

My body ached at the end of long days of hard work. But my heart may have pumped its greatest clarity there, at night, in my bed, as I stared at the stars.

My what-next plan hatched during a very long night about four years into my Ranch adventure.

I was thinking: What might happen if I traded my plow for a bicycle?

Surely, I’d breathe easier by giving up 3000 feet in elevation. Without a couple hundred inches of snow to plow, I’d have time instead to dig more deeply into me. Maybe without the burden of a sixty-mile round-trip to the grocery, I’d find a way to feed my soul. Instead of spending my remaining years and energy trying to figure how to irrigate the far meadow, I could work on that never-quenched thirst in me.

I’ll give you some hands-down big advantages of the old life: solitude, space, view, quiet. All that, plus the smell of sage after the rain, the sight of elk grazing in a greening meadow in spring and the satisfying chill of making the first and only tracks on a bluebird powder day.

But, I was tired. Tired, I thought, of small town living–fearful of a life filled with repeating fundraisers, dinner parties, service clubs, card groups, book groups and people. I was overwhelmed and under-energized by the work it took just to keep the “ranch” afloat–though afloat is not the right word to associate with a property in high desert.

What played most in my decision to leave the ranch, however, was the gradual realization that a place built for shared retirement and visits from grandchildren was not as appealing as a place for me to live alone, as me alone.

Dogging at The Lucky Dog

Dogging at The Lucky Dog

I miss the Ranch some days.

Besides the view from the deck, I miss people who made me feel very much a part of community, even if I was living in solitary. I miss the ones who popped up in the aisles between produce and bakery and along the meat counter or in line at check-out. I miss the conversations I had with them about when it might rain, I miss their persistent pitch to buy cookie dough to support 4-H and I miss the various versions of buzz about the ornery lady with the ugly metal barn who lived down the road.

I miss the very kind neighbor who kept track of my whereabouts and made sure I made it home and had not ended up in a snow-filled ditch without cell signal when the wind blew in two feet of snow in the span of a work day. She knew there was no one at home waiting for me and that no one would notice if I did not return when I should.

But she took the time to check on me.

That kind of neighborliness can be hard to find in the city.

I still visit the Ranch now, carefully planning my visits to avoid big snow storms. I have lost the urge to irrigate the meadow to an out-of-place and unnatural green. The plow waits alone in the garage. And now more than one chair waits on the deck for visitors.

In my new life, I am not over-committed to dinner parties and service organizations and book clubs and card groups. I have the perks of convenience, amenities, urban vitality, lower gasoline costs and two granddaughters five minutes away.

Here, I don’t have a view of the stars from my bed.

But if I walk just around the corner, I see the peaks of Evans and Pikes and Longs and in only a short drive, I am in that outer crop of Rocky Mountains that hints of better things to come.

And now there is a new tent and sturdy four wheels to explore more of those mountains and see a whole new vision of stars.

The tent which will take we Lucky Dogs to new adventures.

The tent which will take we Lucky Dogs to new adventures.

Which should be interesting since it will be the first time I have camped since I was in my 20s.

This may bring new adventure for me and new fodder for Winsomebella.

All in a blog’s time…… dear :-).

One of the nicest things that came from giving up my plow for a bicycle is the time to dig deeper and muse with words and pictures that quench and feed me.

And to share with you and you with me, in a new version of neighborliness.

Thank you for coming along—I’m really glad you do.



(P.S. I hope you’ll enjoy my occasional alerts for new postings at Through the Lens of We, like this one from yesterday: Into the Mystic.)

Wandering Heart

I have won the lottery if one thinks that seeing beautiful places is worth more than all the money in the world. Opportunity and a little luck have combined with circumstance and I am wandering again.

Last week, Montana and Glacier Park. This week, Big Sur and Yosemite.

I am delirious.

My head is centered by home. But my heart, it is a wanderer.

Here are some pictures I took of Montana and Glacier, via Instagram. Which adds a bit to the dreaminess.

I am off to cash in more winnings to share with you soon.

Till then, I hope you find beauty along the road you travel.

“That’s why I have to go back

to so many places

there to find myself

and constantly examine myself

with no witness but the moon

and then whistle with joy,

ambling over rocks and clouds of earth,

with no task but to live,

with no family but the road.”

—-Pablo Neruda