Venice, Italy and Lake City, Colorado

My husband and I were in Venice, Italy this October, just 24 days before the worst flooding in 50 years. I really connect with Venice. Venice is a delicate island ecosystem and it reminds me of home. My husband and I live at almost 9,000 feet above sea level, in the tiny mountain village ecosystem of Lake City, CO.

Last October began an unprecedented snowfall for us that continued through May. According to our local weather man Phil, we received approximately 55″ from November 2018 thru February 2019 and approximately 43″ in March of 2019!!! (Which beat the 1906 record)

Unprecedented avalanches followed. It was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see where we had just been walking around Venice, was now flooded. This past winter, it was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see, about 20 minutes after I had driven out of our valley, an avalanche pushed down the mountain and into that exact same spot where my car had been.

And oh yea, as I write this, it’s been snowing for 24 hours now.


This November 30th picture is a month or two ahead of what I’d say is ‘normal’ for the river on our nature trail to look like.

Many Venetian churches and museums have flooded. We were recently enjoying the historic beauty of St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, which have since flooded. The damage the salty sea water does to centuries old mosaics and buildings won’t be known for a long time yet.  In Lake City, our sheriff’s house was destroyed by an avalanche as he and his family slept – mercifully, everyone lived.

More than 20 million visitors visit Venice each year, compared to its permanent population of 55,000. Lake City has about 300 permanent residents. In the summer our population swells to around 3,000.

Venice has seen loads of cancellations. Many would be tourists saw the floodwater footage and decided not to go to Venice. The waters have subsided, and most of the museums are open again. The city is as beautiful as ever — even more beautiful, locals might say, with its current lack of visitors. I understand the beauty of having your home to yourself; as it gets tiresome being inundated with visitors. Our mountain’s natural peacefulness returns when the visitors finally leave.


But the Venetians have suffered devastation, and what they need now is to be busy with visitors — people need to make money to survive the losses they’ve had. If tourists decide not to come, people who desperately need money will suffer, because Venice is based on tourism.  





This past year Lake City was expected to be devastated with flooding as the unprecedented snowfall melted – thankfully the flooding didn’t happen. Still, tourism was way down and businesses suffered as would be visitors listened to the reports on national news and newspapers, of probable floods.


It’s late November now and it is cold. Our glorious Indian summer days are over. Highs of 32 and much lower will be the norm, along with the onset of single digits and negative temperatures. But dressed in warm layers, with calm sunny, blue sky days, bringing up firewood, walking with the dogs in the mountains, our days are generally delightful and cozy.




However, as I write Lake City is not having a cozy day. It’s just nasty outside – windy cold – an awful combination. It has been snowing all day today. Prayers Venice will not continue with flooding rains. Prayers we are not having another harsh, very snowy winter!




Our little sheltie girl Joy out walking today.


Too often visitors come to Lake City and don’t show respect for our environment as they ‘forget’ / don’t care / think it would be fun to see a bear – and they leave food out on their grill or campfire or in their non-bear proof garbage container. They don’t care about the noise or the carbon footprints they make – it’s their vacation! Likewise visitors have been offensive in Venice with swimming in the canals and  demonstrating  private, bedroom behavior, in public places – like under the Rialto Bridge. It’s not just your vacation – it’s home to some of us!


Good and services are much more expensive in remote places like Lake City and Venice, where everything has to be brought in. Though cold, I can imagine how beautiful Venice would be at Christmas. Though cold, Christmas in Lake City is adorable and romantic. It is neither easy nor inexpensive to live in these secluded spots. However, for some of us this is our choice, our home and we feel blessed.


“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift

Living in the Mountains

Celebrating Thanksgiving and Being Grateful

IMG_4898.jpgCelebrating Thanksgiving and Being Grateful

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving! I love that there’s a holiday centered on being grateful; with no pressure to send cards, buy presents or even decorate. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It’s interesting to me to think about people all over our country doing the same thing – sitting down to a feast of turkey, cranberries, potatoes and pies – with friends and family and being grateful.

As life changes, so do holiday celebrations…when Bruce and I were 1st married we lived in Tulsa, OK and our parents lived in Ft. Worth, TX. As young newlyweds we were so glad for the ‘breathing room’ between us and our parents.  Generally, we didn’t really even notice that there were other people in the world. We went to Ft. Worth for either Thanksgiving OR Christmas and totally enjoyed having the other holiday completely to ourselves.

David, our 1st born, was a January baby – after his birth we started going to TX for ‘all’ the holidays. Decades later, after parents could no longer have the family gatherings at their home, we were the host for numerous years; until we moved. A cousin then took over hosting. Eventually, Bruce’s folks were in their 90’s and too fragile to take out. We then went to the ‘retirement center’ where they lived and finally, it was just Bruce’s dad.

Howard died in late October 2017. We were too spent that Thanksgiving and ignored a potential invitation. Last Thanksgiving, 2018 it was again just the two of us and I felt – kind of sad, missing the gatherings we use to have with more people.

I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with other people. I thought of our widower friend Don, being alone, as well our new friends, Sylvia and Bill. Everyone was pleased and accepted quickly. For various reasons, after some back and forth, it was finally agreed that we would all go to Sylvia and Bill’s new home for Thanksgiving. Daughter Terry has just moved back to Lake City and she brought friends Mike and Parker to Thanksgiving dinner.

Sylvia, your daughter, Terry, is so like you: vivacious, interesting and pretty, too. I felt like I just made another girlfriend! Thanks Sylvia for all of your wonderful, delicious efforts and warm hospitality! It was fun!

Today it’s really, really snowing – hard and long. All of us Lake City folks, living here at 9,000 feet, are doing the same thing – dealing with the snow. I’m thinking, those of us not removing the snow with a vehicle and plow, we are using some of those extra calories we stored up yesterday.

I am thankful for healthy bodies and being strong enough to move snow and bring up firewood. And yes, I am thankful we get to live here! And too – as in a romantic comedy, but this is my life, as we are shoveling snow my husband of 42 years calls out to me, “I love you Julie!” Aw!!!!!

Something else to be incredibly thankful for is our local veterinarian; knowledgeable, personable Linda – who also makes house calls!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I was able to text with Linda and she communicates that the medicine we need for Joy, our sheltie, is in the picnic basket between their garage doors – I love living in Lake City! This morning, before it was really snowy, Linda came to our home to check on Joy. Thank you again Linda!

I am also really grateful for my readers – thank you – thank you!

Do you have dogs? What kind? How’s your veterinarian situation?  How was your Thanksgiving? What are you grateful for?


“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift

Living in the Mountains

Overcoming Osteoporosis



Listen Up!

Had Osteoporosis

Now I Don’t!!!



I am not telling anyone what to do. This is simply information I have gathered, made as straightforward as I could make it,

along with my experience:

I am (my birthday was days ago) 63-year-old, Caucasian, female, who has always been physically active. I have never been a smoker or drinker, and have a healthy body weight and healthy eating habits.

When I was 60 I freaked out when I was found to have osteoporosis. I didn’t like the idea of being on medicine – it has been my observation that too often medicines, especially over a long period of time cause horrible side effects. Also, as much as possible, I want to be in control of my health and change any part of my lifestyle as needed, rather than pop a pill.

I live in a little mountain village and have a good, personal relationship with my health care provider – so that I am not just another patient who gets the standard treatment – because that’s not what I want.   

***I know where I made my health mistake – I wrongly thought that with my healthy life style I could forgo supplements.  

Information on taking supplements varies. For me it is vital to take supplements along with my healthy lifestyle to maintain my health.


When I calmed down I heard that I was just over the line that marks having osteoporosis. My health care provider agreed with the advice I had from my good friend and retired nurse Judy – take 2 calcium daily, 1 in the AM and 1 in the PM making sure vitamin D is included. Keep up my healthy active lifestyle and healthy diet.


Just FYI an OB/GYN I saw in a nearby town automatically thought that the pharmaceutical recommendation of being on meds for osteoporosis for 2 years (before making a new assessment) was the way to go. ***She and I had just met and did not have a close, individual health care relationship as I do with my health care provider here for years – vital to me.


***Yesterday I got the report from my bone scan 2 days before, that I no longer have osteoporosis!!!


Osteoporosis is a disease in which there is loss of bone mass and density.

Risk factor for osteoporosis that are uncontrollable: gender, age,  and ethnicity

Women are 4-times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.

After age 30, bone mass naturally begins to decline with age. 

Caucasian and Asian women are at the highest risk for the development of osteoporosis.  

Risk factor for osteoporosis that are controllable: smoking, excessive drinking,  underweight, lack of exercise


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): A BMI of less than 18.5 means that a person is underweight. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is ideal.


Calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds (lb) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. When using a handheld calculator, if your calculator has a square function, divide weight (lb) by height (in) squared, multiply by 703, and round to one decimal place.


Two easy BMI calculators below



Researchers have shown a direct link between smoking and decreased bone density.  


Research has shown that regular consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of developing osteoporosis.  Consuming more than four alcoholic drinks per day may double the risk of osteoporosis related fractures.  In the United States, a standard drink is defined as 12-ounces of beer, 5-ounces of wine, or 1.5-ounces of distilled spirits.



Studies have shown that women who sit for more than 9-hours per day are 50-percent more likely to have a hip fracture compared to those who sit less than 6-hours per day.  Bone, like muscle, becomes stronger with exercise.  The stress of exercise stimulates bone cell activity.  Exercise also promotes balance, which can decrease the likelihood of falls and fractures.


Two types of exercises may help prevent osteoporosis:  weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.  Examples of high-impact weight-bearing exercises are dancing, hiking, jogging, and tennis.  Examples of low-impact weight-bearing exercises are elliptical machines, stair-step machines, and walking on a treadmill.  Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises are lifting free weights, using elastic exercise bands, and lifting one’s own body weight with pull-ups or push-ups.  Walking is the best exercise for me. I walk with our dogs, in our mountains, on and off throughout the day(s) I also keep hand weights in my bedroom window seat and lift them 3x’s off and on throughout each day. I do a video of Tai Chi. I climb stairs and carry firewood, etc –


At least 30-minutes of exercise most days of the week, provides the greatest benefit to bone health. I wear a Fit Bit.


In addition, the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports some medicines may cause bone loss.


Life is hard enough. Aging is hard enough. Being healthy and strong is everything (to me) doing all I can to stay as healthy and as strong as possible is vital to my happiness! I am getting up from the computer now and bring up firewood and going walking with our dogs again on our nature trail. *Life is Good!

How about you?

Venice, Florence, and Rome

In October 2019 Bruce and I went on a Rick Steves Tour Group to Venice, Florence, and Rome

 Burano, an island off Venice, Italy

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -St. Augustine

Venice was founded over 1,500 years ago on 117 different islands that are linked by 150 canals and 400 bridges.

Venice: uniquely picturesque, absorbing, romantic, historic, a pioneer, and definitely a survivor.

I find it fascinating that the current buildings are built on the original wooden piles!  How can that be – well, the wood is secured because the soil is so water logged that there’s no free oxygen in it, so there’s no decay.

To make the islands fit for living, Venice’s early settlers drained areas of the lagoon, dug canals and supported the banks in preparation for building. On top of these stakes, they placed wooden platforms and then stone and then the buildings.

Venice is at constant risk for flooding. The city has survived Napoleon, and two world wars. When the plague struck, Venice invented the concept of quarantine. What a survivor!

Michelangelo’s David

This centuries old original sculpture of the David is in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, created in marble between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo

Being practically alone with Michelangelo’s David was a tender hearted, mind-boggling experience.

Some interesting little know facts about Michelangelo’s David:

Michelangelo created David from a piece of marble that had been  discarded by other sculptors. The block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces proves the cliché: one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

 Agostino di Duccio gave up on a project using the block, after which the marble was untouched for 10 years. Then, Antonio Rossellino tried to work with the block of marble but also gave up on it.

The block of marble had been waiting for 40 years when Michelangelo was up to the challenge of carving the marble. 

Also, something like 8 million visitors a year tread through the Galleria dell’Accademia to take in the sculpture of David. Studies show that all this foot traffic creates vibrations that are tearing at the centuries old marble.

Our Rick Steves tour group in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Many more ponderings to come…

What’s a “Good Day” for you?

What a great day – My son and his wife were on a conference trip with their engineering NASA jobs. I was helping with my grandchildren. My son surprised me with an outing to the Japanese gardens and feeding the koi fish like we did when he was little – so thoughtful!

A Good Day

People are always wishing us to: “Have a good day!”

Good days for me have encompassed exquisite, rare opportunities like getting to see the aurora borealis in Alaska, visiting Paris in celebration of my husband’s and my 40th wedding anniversary, watching a total solar eclipse and flying over frozen landscape in a hot air balloon. Good days for me have encompassed everyday joys like a walk in the mountains where we live with our dogs, accomplishing something difficult like learning, yet one more thing connected with technology or enduring a challenging hike and always – reading a book I can’t put down. 

What constitutes a good day has certainly changed over the decades; hasn’t it? I remember – maybe you do too – when what made me have a happy included: no homework, my favorite babysitter, something I liked for dinner (perhaps spaghetti or grilled cheese) and watching a favorite TV show, like Bewitched or Gilligan’s Island.

Around that time, when I was about 8-years-old, TV and food played a huge part in my delight; as did spending time at my Meme’s. Summers at Meme’s were the greatest since I got to spend several days at a time there, without any parents! Spending the night meant being treated like a big kid. I was scared in front of the television watching The Twilight Zone with my aunt who was 4 years older than me. Sometimes I close my eyes at the really scary parts of the show and she would make fun of me. But the opportunity to be a big kid was worth enduring being teased.

Just Meme and I would have breakfast in her cozy kitchen.  Suzy the Siamese cat rested on top of the refrigerator, twitching her tail while watching us. I enjoyed warm buttered toast and hot tea with cream and sugar while watching The Beverly Hillbillies on the little portable TV.  I was sure there was no better way to start the day.

Meme had a great big above the ground swimming pool that was so deep; it was up to my shoulders! She’d bring out party sandwiches in the shape of triangles with the crust cut off and celery stuffed with pimento cheese. We’d eat right in the swimming pool!

Meme’s screened porch was one of my favorite places to play. Her elephant ears grew up against the porch creating a snug environment. I’d read or dress my paper dolls and Meme would slip in with a bowl of cherries or strawberries, respecting my quiet place.

When I was old enough to go on walks by myself, walking soon became my favorite activity and an important part of a good day. Walking our collie dog, Duke was so satisfying. Duke was a great listener and always up for a walk. I liked our alone time.

By third grade part of a good day was a trip to the library or walking to the neighborhood bookmobile. Having a new book to read or having uninterrupted time to read a book I couldn’t put down, that’s been a much loved part of a good day for me since childhood.

As a child, my favorite books were often Nancy Drew mysteries or stories about the lives of the saints. Regularly in my catholic school we’d have to give a report on the books we read. Classmates were clamoring for the books I described.  The lives of the saints were particularly fascinating; as one saint drove a nail in her skull to endure suffering for sins. Another saint was waiting to be torn to bits by a lion while she gave birth. The guard laughed at her birthing pang cries. She responded that she would not cry out loud in the morning when she was being torn to bits by lions. Periodically my mother got telephone calls from classmate’s mothers wanting to know what kinds of books was I was reading and where did they come from. I simply replied that I got my books from our school library.

Seldom was I the center of attention; so it was an intoxicating feeing having the whole class listening to me tell about my book. That is when it (be it subconsciously) occurred to me that the written word is powerful.

Having a reader tell me that they were moved my something I wrote is an exciting feeling that makes my day. The recent day spent alone with my 2-year-old granddaughter and I discovering each other was especially wonderful. A few days ago I spent the day with two 1st graders. It was a busy, tiring, exhilarating and very satisfying day. A good day sometimes involves getting together with one or more girlfriends. Good friends, good conversation and good food is always fun!

Yesterday my daughter telephoned and we talked unhurriedly about numerous topics important to us. It was part of a good day. She is having her first taste of ‘motherhood’ as she is presently staying home full-time with her 3-week-old foster son. It’s always good to know my daughter or son is thinking about me with a call, text or email.

Visiting my daughter when she was at Brandeis University for graduate school – she’s dressing her puppy warmly for a cold day

For me a good day can involve many things, of which walks with my dogs and time spent reading and writing are often a part.

Today was a fun day with my husband. We drove to Montrose to get more supplies for our sunroom that he’s building us. It’s a long drive. We talked. We listened to podcast. After getting our building materials I picked out some colorful flowering plants for our deck. We then enjoyed a tasty lunch at our favorite Montrose restaurant, Daily Bread. We don’t eat out often, so it’s a treat. I very much enjoyed my cup of mushroom soup and my crab and avocado salad at this mom and pop café. When we got home we walked our dogs and I enjoyed playing with my flowers. I checked on a friend’s cat which meant I got to do a kindness and make an animal happy. I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about Meme and writing this blog entry (and remembering the theme songs to Gilligan’s Island and The Beverly Hillbillies!) It’s been a good day!

As you journey through life I wish you countless good days. What makes a good day for you?

Celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary in Paris

Our Adorable Mountain Village


As I write, a few days ago was the annual celebration of volunteers in our community! There are volunteer positions available to coincide with every gift & talent given human beings: from working with children, to working in gardens, to working to promote the arts, to the always traditional baking cookies & more – much, much more. A few folks make a more than part-time job from their volunteering & some, like yours truly, mostly stick to one area.

Easter Fun

As our little village gets ready for Easter, volunteers will help staff hide 1,500 eggs for the outdoor hunt – oh I see we are counting the snow to hold off.  In order to give all the children to best chance to find eggs there are different spots to hunt for different age groups.

All Are Welcome   

It seems especially appropriate that at Easter it is traditional that our village holds a community breakfast & a community worship service – ‘cause God love us all – God says ALL are welcome – ALL – just 2 commandments – Love God – Love each other –  JUST LOVE

Our Amazing Road Crew

This winter our little mountain village had an unprecedented amount of snow. It’s been very hard to deal with so very much snow. And it keeps snowing several times a week. The unprecedented amount of snow has caused avalanches.

 Snow – Snow and more snow – too much frick’en snow

In this season of too much snow our road crew has been the best ever

Mud Season

When you live in our mountains with snow you know about Muddy March. In this year of unprecedented snowfall we are having Muddy April. I feel sure that Muddy May will follow. Muddy June will not be a surprise.

Talk about child-like joy – making lemonade out of lemons – I love having captured this kindergartener playing in the mud in the middle of town!

Mud Season

Feeling So Alive

We just walked our first Gold Hill (a ‘low’ mountain called a hill by locals) walk of 2019!!!

This is a favorite walk of ours, especially on the shoulders of the seasons when the visitors haven’t yet arrived; as we have it all to ourselves!! You don’t live up here if you enjoy crowds!

This winter our little mountain village had an unprecedented amount of snow. It’s been very hard to deal with so very much snow. And it keeps snowing several times a week.

 Snow – Snow and more snow – too much frick’en snow

But this morning – it was beyond fabulous & not snowing when my husband & our canine kids waked Gold Hill under an ocean of cobalt blue sky that we had all to ourselves!

Hope, our border collie was blissfully flying from mountain peak to mountain peak

Joy, our sheltie was contented to find puddles of snow to make puppy dog snow angels

This walk, in these surroundings, under this blue, blue sky – just makes us feel so alive!! So happy to be alive ~

Crystal Peak

Making snow puppy angels


The term “Baby Boom” is used to identify the huge increase in births following World War II. Baby boomers are those people born between 1946 and 1964. I am a baby boomer. I am 62 years old. I find this time of life reminiscent of adolescence. My body is doing weird stuff. So many things don’t make sense. There’s so much to learn.  Of course THE difference is that puberty is the beginning. When did we go from “I’m 13 AND ½”  to “I won’t be 50 until 9:33 PM”

According to Google, some younger people say that you are old once you turn 59. Somewhat older people say that old age begins at 65. Old age refers to ages nearing or exceeding life expectancy, which in the United States is 78 years

We say “it’s just a number” yet we do what we can to look younger than ‘the number’

I plainly remember when I realized that everyone died. Death wasn’t just something that happened to my great-grandparents for some unknown reason.

Clearly, if not before, then by the time we are in our 60’s we hear the tick-tock sounding. Everyone wants to go the Heaven. No one wants to die in order to get there – it seems that seldom is anyone ever ready to die, not even the old folks.

I think it’s important to remember we are going to die & that it may not be as far off as we would like. We have a finite number of days. Do what you need to do. Do what you want to do. Live all the days of your life. Personally, I like to feel as good as possible; so I find it rewarding to life as healthy a lifestyle as is doable for me. Regular exercise, food choices & portion control really do make a difference!

What will I leave behind…will any part of the world be a better place for my having lived –

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… Thoreau

Living in Nature with Dogs

When I wake up every morning, I smile and say, ‘Thank you.’ Because out of my window I can see the mountains, then go hiking with my dog and share her bounding joy in the world.  – Carole King

Exactly – getting to live in the mountains is somewhat like being on vacation all the time & getting to live with our dogs up here is joyful & spontaneous. Our dogs aren’t just part of the furniture; they are closely connected to us.

Living inside nature gives me a sense of peacefulness and joy. I raise the shade in our window seat this morning and I delight in seeing the curl of the moon & Venus over our snowy valley.

Our dogs Joy (Sheltie) & Hope (Border collie) wag good morning.  They know that soon we will go for a walk in the mountains – how delightful! It’s a scientific finding that both nature & dogs are big time antidotes to stress – so we must be hitting the jackpot living in nature with dogs!!!

Just stepping outside is a spontaneous adventure with our dogs – walking our nature trail, our border collie Hope sees geese on the opposite side of the river. Crouching, she moves catlike & then pounces forward, delighting in the geese taking flight. Joy throws herself into a mound of snow & rolls around in childlike glee.

Most days have an underlying spontaneity to them because we live within nature – I pass Blue Mesa usually twice a week. I’ve seen a fox crossing the area, ice fishermen in action, sailboats floating on sunlit sparkles, ice skaters and sometimes I just have to get out of the car & take pictures – the beauty makes my eyes fill & my heart beat faster – it’s exciting & always feels new.

What are your positive experiences with nature & dogs?

Thank you.

I wish you peace, julie

Forgiveness & Trust

Since my husband & I live in such an extraordinary beautiful area, it is not unusual for me to have my camera with me. I took this photograph 4 years ago while hiking near our home in rural Colorado. It reminds me of a page that could have come from my Catholic religion book in the early 1970’s. I graduated from Nolan Catholic High School, in Fort Worth, TX in 1974.

Deep thinking and genuine conversation are important to me.  Perhaps because it is Lent forgiveness has been on my mind. Earlier today I emailed a few friends on the topic of forgiveness and was so touched by their replies, I thought more people might want to join the conversation…

So forgiveness is the topic…

There are people in my life whom I feel that I have forgiven – in that I no longer continually think about the wrongness they did against me (I use to turn their transgression over & over in my mind until I almost enjoyed the hurt; like picking at a scab.) It feels so much better not to do that – I can now get the event & them out of my mind

– BUT I don’t trust them –

And for me there is no (real) relationship without trust

Esther Perel is a Belgian psychotherapist who says that the person who hurt you / betrayed you has to apologize for that before healing can begin to begin  – nothing is more important than that  –  they have to acknowledge the remorse they feel for having betrayed / having hurt you before healing can begin

Life is too short & too important for anything other than authentic connections

Forgive & live healthier

Be cautious with your trusting heart

Your thoughts –

How do you see forgiving someone – how does trust enter in with forgiveness

Please pass this blog to others: Catholics, non-Catholics, nature lovers, deep thinkers, dog lovers, other people you think would be interested

Thank you. I wish you peace,