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Weekly Photo Contest: Water

 

All right, so I’m a week behind, but I still wanted to share this photo. I traveled to Zion National

Falling water at Zion's Emerald Pools

Park last October with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s

Team in Training. Besides the official hike we had plenty of time to

explore on our own. This picture is from the Emerald Pools trail. It’s a fairly easy hike that takes off from the main lodge and is therefore very popular. Because we were there in the off season (arguably the most beautiful time of year) there was plenty of room to pause and let the intense light and cool spray surround me.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Home as Self-Expression

Winter vacation this year was a working vacation, helping my two brothers and my sister-in-law Jeanne finish getting my parents’ Patagonia (AZ) domes ready to sell. The three of them have been working almost 24/7 since August to bring out the best in this home. The homes my parents lived in, most of which they have built themselves, have always been an expression of their lifestyle and values, starting with the sketches they made at Antioch College of their dream home, a log cabin in the wilderness. The Patagonia domes were their final creation, encompassing their love of the natural world, their love of light and color, and their determination to tread lightly on this earth.  My brothers and Jeanne dedicated these months to making sure that this last expression of our parents’ life together would be preserved and appreciated by just the right buyer. My daughter and I spent about ten days helping them put on the finishing touches: painting, building a retaining wall, and stripping and re-waxing the kitchen floor. Now it’s officially on the market, and somewhere out there is just the right buyer. Just like a job search, it only takes one–the trick is finding that one.

Our real estate agent has produced a virtual tour that does the dome much better justice than the pictures I have here. Check it out at http://www.3cim.com/opb/tour.do?method=viewTour&id=1294200946328

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Domes, Uncategorized

 

Help Us Find a Cure!

Once school starts I barely have time to  come up for air, but here I am again. We only have two more weekends before the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training hike in Zion National Park on October 2nd. Training for the hike is the easy part. It’s the fund-raising that is my biggest challenge, and that of course is the most important part. That is what moves research forward and supports patients and their families. We have made so much progress since I was young. Back then leukemia was a death sentence. Now most of the 3000 children diagnosed with leukemia this year are expected to become  five year survivors. However this year over 54,000 people will die from cancer this year, and each death will affect a large circle of family, friends, and co-workers.

I am raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society because my first encounter with cancer was watching the struggle of a 5th grade student, an only child, and her parents as they rode the roller coaster of hope and fear that is leukemia. We at her school helped the family raise money for a bone marrow transplant, and then for a second one, and in the end attended her funeral and gave what support we could to her parents as they learned how to be the parents of a child who would never attend high school, never walk down the aisle, never give them grandchildren. The school where I currently teach lost one student to cancer last year, and another student and one of our teachers are still undergoing treatment.

Whether your life has been touched by leukemia or some other kind of cancer, or whether you have been so blessed that you have not had a close encounter with this disease, please help by visiting my fund-raising page. (See the link to the right.) Research for any cancer helps combat all cancers. Every donation, large or small, helps new research that builds on the success of research funded in previous years. You can be part of this long chain of hope.

Yesterday was one of those beautiful Colorado days where the sky is such a deep blue that people who have never seen it think photographs have been doctored. Friday night’s winds had cleared out all the smoke from the Fourmile fire, and everything–plants, rocks, and distant hills, glowed with intense color. A few of the aspen on Twin Sisters Peak, near Estes Park, were just beginning to change color. Here are a few pictures–undoctored–to enjoy before you click that donation button.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Small Donations

Every donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, no matter how small, helps us towards our goal of finding a cure for cancer. In fact, some of the most memorable donations are quite small. Back when I was training for the cycling event, before I broke my thumb, I was riding along a city green space trail wearing my shirt that says, “Ask me why I’m riding.” Two rather scruffy young men, engrossed in conversation, were walking side by side blocking the trail, oblivious to my repeated, “Passing on your left!” I was just about to brake when they finally heard me and jumped out of the way. As I sped past, gaining speed for a small uphill stretch, I heard a shouted, “Why are you riding?” They were the first ones to respond to the message on my shirt, and when I stopped and explained my mission they pulled every last bit of change they were carrying to donate.

Another donation came from a friendly mail carrier in Longmont when we were delivering phone books. The phone book routes are based on mail delivery routes, so we crossed paths several times. The first time I saw him I was parked in the ample shade of one of the maple trees that line the older streets of Longmont. The mail carrier was loading his bag for the next stage of his route. “You learn fast, parking in the shade,” he called out.  Susan was helping me deliver that day, and when we met up later I found out that she, too, had chatted with him. When she had explained that we were not earning money for ourselves but for the LLS, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a small donation.

The spontaneous generosity of complete strangers in a chance encounter is what makes these two donations special. Another memorable chance encounter happened on our training hike yesterday. We were hiking the trails of Mt. Falcon Park, starting from the east side, and had just finished ascending the 2000 feet to the remnants of John Brisben Walker’s dreams.  Walking along the trail with their three humans were two beautiful black dogs with rather unusual coats that caused some speculation about breed, so of course we stopped to chat. Once that had been cleared up (Was it Weimeraner and Setter? Don’t ask me, I’m not very doggy) conversation turned to why we were hiking. The response was unexpectedly emotional, because Judy is a cancer survivor. That’s her, fourth from the left, and her friend Andy (Andrea) had been part of her journey from her diagnosis on. (That’s daughter Abby holding the leashes, and I hope I spelled everyone’s name right.) When Judy mentioned that she wished the LLS had a baseball cap, because she usually wore one when she was hiking, Zoe (our coach, who must be taking this picture since she’s not in it) pulled one out of her pack and gave it to her.

The day was already on my list of best training hikes, but there was more good in store. First, wild raspberries. I always love eating the smaller but intensely flavored wild fruits, and I spotted a whole gully full of raspberry bushes.

Last of all came Janet and Lee. When I switched from the cycling event to hiking I wanted an “Ask me why…” element in my fund-raising, but a T-shirt doesn’t work when you’re carrying a pack. I needed something that could be attached to the back of a pack, easily moved to a different pack, and that was lightweight and waterproof. I worked on the problem for a week before I came up with the answer–a mouse pad held on with two of those hook-and-fuzz fasteners they make for keeping computer cords organized. This was the first hike I wore it, and I also carried my business cards (with fund-raising page and blog addresses). I gave out several cards to people we encountered, and Zoe gave me a push towards a bit more assertive asking–a call to action, not just a look if you want to. We were almost back at the parking lot when a mountain biker sped by, calling out, “Why are you hiking?” but not stopping for an answer. When we arrived at the parking lot, there she was, asking us to help her out. She and her friend Lee had parked their respective cars at opposite ends of their day’s ride, but she had left her car keys in his car. A few of us drove Lee to his car while the rest of us had a chance to sit and answer Janet’s question. Janet is a research scientist working on childhood diabetes, so she understands the importance of foundations in making progress against disease. She explained how satisfying her work is now that her lab is closely connected to a clinic, and she can see the research she did a few years ago directly helping patients today. Both she and Lee donated on the spot. So, for the last three weeks I’ve been walking the streets both training and fund-raising, and yesterday I walked the trails both training and fund-raising.

 

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Studying Neighborhoods

When you have a job like delivering phone books you begin to notice the differences in how neighborhoods are designed and built. The routes we have completed or begun so far have covered two very different neighborhoods. Two routes were in an older neighborhood near downtown Longmont. Two others, including the one we are working on are in a newer upscale division in Broomfield.

It’s pushing 100 degrees out there today, so Susan and I bailed on our second Broomfield route after only 13,600 steps and 155 deliveries. (That’s only counting my steps and my deliveries.) That comes out to about 88 steps per delivery. I didn’t keep the statistics from the Longmont route we finished yesterday, but I can guarantee that we would have gotten a lot more deliveries out of 13,600 steps. Evidently one thing that people want in an upscale home is a long front walk, preferably with at least five steps. And of course there are beautifully landscaped strips dividing one lawn from another so a shortcut from one front door to the next is usually out. One street I delivered to this morning had all the main entrances on the side, only reachable by walking all the way across the front of the house and around the corner–and then all the way back and down the driveway, then haul the cart to the next driveway and repeat.

The other advantage the Longmont neighborhood has over Broomfield is SHADE! Both sides of almost every street in that area are lined with towering shade trees, mostly oaks and maples. It was easy to find a shady parking place every time we moved our cars, and we lugged our carts through frequent patches of shady coolness. In Broomfield there are plenty of trees, but they’re so small that they only shade part of the car, and the small patch of shade may have moved before we delivered one cart load of books.

The two neighborhoods had some common features. First, addresses can be hard to find in either type of neighborhood. I picked the Broomfield neighborhood off the map because all the curvy streets and cul-de-sacs indicated a recent development and I thought there would be some consistency and logic in the addresses. I was partly right. At least there were no tiny run-down strip malls with apartments above the shops, large old houses split into an indeterminate number of apartments, and garages way at the back of the lots turned into granny apartments, all common in the older Longmont neighborhood. However, there were just as many illogical house numbers in this newer development. There were numbers out of sequence. There were odd numbers on one side of the street that fit in between the even numbers two blocks down on the other side instead of directly across the street. And as if it wasn’t confusing enough to have a lane, a street, and a drive all with the same name, there was one crazy place where a lane and a drive shared a short connecting street and a tiny cul-de-sac with a landscaped island in the middle. There was no clear division between the lane and drive, and the address list had half the houses listed in the wrong one. One house number was found in both the lane and the drive.

I also noticed that in both neighborhoods there are many homeowners who love flowers and gardens. The front yards and porches of Longmont are decked out with flowers and vines, many of them spilling over the front walks, leaving only a narrow path. The beautifully manicured lawns of Broomfield show the stamp of individual gardening homeowners showing their love of symmetry or spontaneity, roses or ground cover. One home even had a lush vegetable garden that was so beautiful that it fit in with all the neighboring flowers.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Delivering Yellow Books to Cure Cancer

Thank you to everyone who has joined me in efforts to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (If you haven’t donated yet and want to help, go to http://pages.teamintraining.org/rm/zionpark10/pcunningha.) I am working hard to match everyone’s donations with my own fund-raising efforts. For the next two or three weeks that will mean delivering phone books to homes and businesses around the Denver metro area. The Yellow Books hire nonprofits to do the deliveries as their way of supporting fund-raising in these tough economic times. So when you see those bags of sometimes unwanted phone books on your doorstep, know that sometimes something good is coming out of the process. (Pictures to follow when I find my camera.)

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Self-Publishing thoughts

A colleague recently introduced me to Salon.com, a news & entertainment Web site, but forwarding a link to an article about how internet self-publishing opportunities will affect not only the publishing industry but also the experience of readers. (Article at http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2010/06/22/slush) In “When anyone can be a published author” Laura Miller, a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, points out that without the editor’s function of wading through reams of manuscripts to find the worthwhile ones, readers will be faced with that daunting task themselves. In the end they will rely on various online sources to steer them towards worthwhile reading. In other words, if traditional publishing does disappear, as some believe is inevitable, the same functions will be performed by a different set of people. Whether the result is better or worse is still up for grabs.

My first experience with non-traditional publishing came from my family. Somewhere in the family archives I hauled back from Arizona is a copy of my grandfather’s self-published book that trained his photofinishing employees to produce the best possible prints for Cunningham Studios. He used the most innovative training technique of the time, self-paced instruction, in which content is broken down into small increments and learning is reinforced through frequent questions on recent concepts. This self-published training manual served its purpose, meeting the needs of his business.

My father, too, has self-published, most notably the various volumes of his cruising guides to the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) still available at www.gerrycruise.com. Dad was not one to sit around waiting for someone else to believe in his ideas. He was willing to put forth the money and effort to do it all himself, including marketing. For years he and Mother had their regular annual circuit of West Coast boat shows and other sail gatherings where they manned the Gerry Cruising Charts booth and gave slide shows and talks about the Sea of Cortez. The most challenging part of this endeavor was dealing with printing costs. When the business started Dad would pay for a printing run, paying up front, and then hope to make enough money selling that stock to order a new print run. Any corrections or adjustments had to wait for the next printing. As computer technology became more sophisticated and came down in cost he enlisted the help of friend David Parker and later my brother Peter to do more of the layout and printing himself. Had they only been dealing with the 8 1/2 x 11 cruising guides it would have been simpler, but their printing operation also had to handle the larger format charts. Making a profit was a struggle, but self-publishing enabled Dad to share his passion for cruising the Sea of Cortez.

Tomorrow: Publish on demand using Blurb.com.

 

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