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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 21feb26013 / Pati Temple (1951-2013)

Pati Temple

Wild mustangs and McElmo Canyon progressives lost a great advocate with the passing of Patricia Ann Draheim Temple at Trail Canyon Ranch in Montezuma County this past January. She and her devoted husband David were partners for 38 years and together ran Trail Canyon Ranch.
Wild Horse, Spring Creek Herd, photo by TJ Holmes
Pati and I served together on the BLM’s Southwest Resource Advisory Council, and we became friends – both for our shared care for wild horses and environmental sanity, as well as our love of Colorado’s open spaces and wildlands.

I know I speak for a lot of good people in Southwestern Colorado when I say that’s she’s going to be dearly missed.


-for Pati

She whirled a big lasso
& roped us all in

Took a shine to wild
mares & mustangs

Loved Trail Canyon
Ranch & its mysteries

Gave David a full mug
& most of her life

Shared the overflow
in McElmo & beyond

Her love a gust of wind
galloping through your hair

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 21feb26013 / Poetry & Writers on the Western Slope

Cally Conan-Davies performing, David Mason listening

David performing at Cortez Library

DAVE MASON … Colorado’s accomplished Poet Laureate and his dynamic Aussie wife, Cally Conan-Davies, were the featured readers at a well-attended poetry reading at the Cortez Library last week. Montezuma County residents turned out in force to hear the duo alternate readings as they inspired the crowd with personal vignettes, narrative delights, lyric love poems and playful interactions … Kudos to librarian Kathy Berg for once again making Cortez a magnet for poetry performance in the Four Corners.

ERICA OLSEN … In attendance at the reading and the potluck reception for the poets afterwards was emerging Four Corners writer, Erica Olsen. Her first book is newly out from Torrey House Press, Recapture & Other Stories … As author Kevin Canty explains, “Erica Olsen gives us the dream life of the Southwest in this striking collection, a landscape told in language as spare and pungent and exacting as the desert itself. A swift and lovely debut from a writer of real gifts.”
Erica Olsen

ERIKA MOSS GORDON … Speaking of new writers, this intriguing Ridgway poet with a similar first name has a great website, “unlearning through poetry”, and is coming out with a chapbook soon, Of Eyes and Iris … Watch for it.

Erika Moss Gordon

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 21feb26013 / Regional Recycling at Critical Juncture

Recycling bales at SMARTS Park (San Miguel Area Resource-Recovery Transfer Station)

After taking up Jonathan Greenspan’s invitation to visit Telluride's SMARTS Park single-source recycling center in Illium, I have to say I was impressed. No, it wasn’t a slick, glitzy sight. It’s an industrial park, and sorting trash into recyclable components is anything if not messy. Plus, citizens regularly drop off all manner of unwanted trash after hours, some of them thinking it’s a county facility, which it is not.

But clearly it’s an essential public service. If our county and the communities of Telluride and Mountain Village are serious about reducing carbon impacts, keeping our waste stream out of the landfills and re-using what can be salvaged is critical. And it’s a focus for more than a handful of jobs – scarce commodities in this economic climate.

Still, trying to do the right thing environmentally is expensive and difficult in our isolated region, far from major shipping points. There’s a chance to get some major grants to upgrade our capabilities for recycling in the region, but the community needs to figure out how much it wants to deal with trash as a major focus of reducing our carbon footprint

Greenspan has put a lot of time and money into keeping our recycling options open in the region. But it’s not going to survive without financial support from county citizens.

We’re at a critical juncture in our ability to do more than landfill the waste we produce in this county. And we’re also at the most dismal point in 30 years for local government funding. How we’re going to afford to do the right thing is by no means certain. But to take a step backwards in regional recycling would be a terrible shame, even as we claim to want to work towards a sustainably resilient mountain community.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Talking Gourd / 14feb26013 / Mary's Chapel Yurt

Clumped snow on canvas
makes a full luxurious slide
behind & above me

like a zipper’s sweet tug
resistance, sparking
fricatives of liquid ice

until teased over the
precipitous edge’s leap…
Slipped silk, cut short

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 14feb26013 / Hope for the Elephants

Jo Norris at the 2005 Shroomfest parade

Trout Lake homeowner Jo Norris of long-time Shroomfest and Arizona’s Rim Institute fame will be special guest facilitator for a learning journey to Kenya with the Foundation for Global Leadership, entitled “Hope for the Elephants,” Aug. 23-30, 2013.

The trip will feature visiting with traditional Masai people and witnessing elephants and their threatened habitat first-hand, along with the amazing wildebeest migration.

At 80, Jo is an elder, wisdom keeper, leader of ceremony and an expert in facilitating groups to connect the depth of the journey experience to the deeper aspects of one’s soul. Jo has spent her life focused on healing the planet and humanity.

For more info on this experiential adventure, contact Jo directly at <>

Monday, February 18, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 14feb20613 / Taking a Winter Poetry Tour

In rural communities, we all wear lots of hats. One of my many, in addition to public servant (or politician, if you don’t particularly like my service), potato farmer and basketweaver, is as Poet Laureate of the Western Slope (a title that I will relinquish at the end of March when a new Laureate is named at the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale). This last weekend I got to wear the poet beret a lot, with a Green Party nod to my role as rural elected official … Thanks to my lax attention to many things in the wake of Mary’s leaving, I double-booked a student lecture in Boulder last Thursday in the afternoon, together with a poetry reading later that night in Colorado Springs with Wendy Videlock of Grand Junction. Which meant the Wends and I had just enough time to make it to the venue, while negotiating rush hour traffic on I-25 – always dicey … 
Dr. Patricia Limerick

It all worked out. We got to Boulder’s Center of the American West in time to lecture in Dr. Patricia Limerick’s history class on New West/Old West settler conflicts (cell tower, gun control, uranium mill) … Then we rushed to the Springs, making it just in time for a well-attended, paid Visiting Writers gig at Colorado College’s Palmer Hall. The most gracious Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason invited Wendy and I, and he hosted us for a lovely after-the-show dinner at Jake and Telly’s Greek Taverna. The Numæan wine was superb, and the table talk exquisite … Friday morning we spoke at Dr. Genevieve Love’s Colorado College poetry class … 

David Mason at Karen Chamberlain Fest

Although not before we’d made an en route impulse stop at Montague’s Parlour on Tejon St. (easily one of the best coffeehouses in the state). A coffee break that stretched into deeply absorbed thoughts, and we were promptly late for class … Love had done amazing prep. The kids had read selections of our work and written up questions. It was great fun sharing our thoughts, the two of us, Wendy sitting in a chair, speaking softly like the Sibyl of Cumae, and old Paleohippie pacing and pontificated like a mad beatnik bard … Wends and I next repaired to Wooglin’s Deli for an outdoor madcap chat & chew with Dave and his new wife, the amazing Cally Conan-Davies – a wildly wonderful Aussie poet herself … They both will be appearing this Friday, Feb. 15th at 7 p.m. at the Cortez Public Library – a reading I’m planning on attending … And then the adventure took us to Salida, where Barbara Ford and Laurie James sponsored Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer , Danny Rosen, Wends and me as “Birds of a Feather” for a lovely performance that drew a good-sized crowd and lots of friends – a nod to the sorely missed Sparrows Poetry Festival of years past, a Salida institution now defunct … 

Wendy Videlock in action

Former Denver Poet Laureate Chris Ransick attended, along with Denver’s Kit Hedman, Crestone’s Peter Anderson, former Tellurider Doann Houghton of Nathrop and the usual Salida crew of Craig Nielson, Lawson Eddy, Lynda La Rocca, Felice and some impressive new voices (an open reading preceded the show, and three special guests came after) … By the time Wendy and I made it back to Montrose, and headed in opposite directions, I was driving into a blizzard, Dallas Divide blowing horizontal, the tarmac snow-packed and dangerous.


The Talking Gourd / 7feb26013 / XLVII

Off to watch the Niner-Raven matchup
Ulama on the big screen. A spectacle

Coliseum style. Live video clash
of East Coast versus West Coast

Old Word European versus
New World Post-Mayan

Oglesby’s Cowboys versus Yankees
The Illuminati versus Anonymous

Taking a silly macho entertainment
break from the daily diet of disasters

Rooting for gladiator proxies
after skirmish within battle after war

where the winner takes all
& the rest are liars & terrorists

Like all the faithful -- sometimes winning
& sometimes learning how to lose

Ulama players

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 7feb26013 / Producer Responsibility Organizations

Baled aluminum block at a PRO facility

We used to call them recycling centers. But eleven European packaging waste management groups -- ”Producer Responsibility Organisations” -- have issued a manifesto on Extended Producer Responsibility for how best to manage waste with the packaging industry and the public … 1) EPR organizations should be owned by the obliged companies and run on a not for profit basis … 2) There needs to be strong governmental support and monitoring … 3) There are many advantages of having one rather than multiple organizations in each country [that’s for the European Union, in U.S. substitute “state”] … 4) The EPR organization needs to be set up in a way that ensures sustainable financing … 5) The EPR organization should contribute to packaging optimization and waste prevention … The eleven organizations have announced that a new association will be launched in spring 2013 in Brussels to carry out the EPR principles outlined in the manifesto ... Imagine if we could get producers to take responsibility for their packaging in this country and help support the recycling of the waste stream they create in order to sell their products.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 7feb26013 / Gun Control hearing in Norwood


The San Miguel Board of County Commissioner gun control hearing in January was surreptitiously filmed via cell phone by Norwood Post editor Patrick Coleman who’s posted the meeting on YouTube.

After listening to our Norwood constituents and Telluride's Mayor Stu Fraser, I thought this contentious an issue deserved another hearing up in Telluride, or no county letter at all. My colleagues didn’t agree. To me the letter went too far. As written, I voted against it.

I believe a large percentage of this county believes the recent Sandy Hook tragedy demands some form of gun control action. And I would have supported a call from San Miguel County for mandatory background checks for all gun sales, retail or private. That seems like a prudent and reasonable regulatory change.

But, beyond that, I think gun control is a very polarizing issue in the West, where gun ownership has been traditional and customary. I’ve been having some very interesting discussions with folks from both sides of this debate on Facebook, and I’ve learned a lot.

I just wish we as a nation, as fellow citizens would seek better compromises on tough issues like this, rather than simply pitting advocates against opponents

Check out the crude video at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 7feb26013 / Obit for the Mountain Gazette

As poetry editor and contributor for this gonzo extreme sports version of glossy newsstand Outside, I loved what M. John Fayhee was doing heading up this irreverent but insightful magazine. It’s sad that the financial folks have pulled the plug and we lose another wonderful regional print publication

Adieu, hard copy MG, at least for now (if or until someone else comes to the rescue and resuscitates this valuable organ of mountain communication).

According to the Facebook site, they're looking to figure out this hiccup, and are continuing an on-line version

Monday, February 11, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 7feb26013 / Poetry Ascendant after Imbolc

LAUREATE ON TOUR … As my two years as the Western Slope’s first poet laureate will come to an end with the Third Annual Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale next month, I’m delighted to take a poetry tour with my friend and rising national poetry star from Grand Junction, Wendy Videlock … We’ve been invited by the state poet laureate David Mason to come to Colorado College in Colorado Springs where he teaches, and give a campus performance of our work. We’re both excited to do that tonight, Feb. 7th … As it happens, I also have a guest lecture slot in Dr. Patricia Limerick’s Center for the New West class at the University of Colorado at Boulder this same day. It will be my third year coming to speak to her history students on Western Slope politics from a Green perspective (not at county expense). It’s a chance to dip a toe in the academic world that once intrigued me so as a student at San Francisco State College (now university). And apparently the students, as least, find it intriguing … Then Friday, Feb. 8th, Wendy and I will join Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville and Danny Rosen of Fruita for a poetry performance in Salida’s Steamplant at 7 p.m. Legendary North Beach poet Jack Mueller of Log Hill Village, whose new book Boxwork is about to be published by Lithic Press, will be performed in absentia. The show’s called Birds of a Feather, and references a poetry festival called Sparrows that happened for many years in Salida … And in case you missed it this week, the Talking Gourds Poetry Club meets on the first Tuesday of every month at Arroyo’s here in Telluride. Rosemerry and I are hosts, and we try to pick themes and favorite writers to read, and encourage others to do so as well. It’s free and open to the public, not just for poets.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 31j13 / The Talking Gourd

Climate Change

If it’s at all odd
the weather this year
on Wright’s Mesa’s uplifted shores
it’s gotta be the chill
before the January thaw

Ferns & transplants
can tolerate summer swamps
but a cold spell
clamps down on bones
like a box turtle’s jaw

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 31j13i3 / Confessions of an Energy Pig

Well, I keep chipping away at my energy consumption piggyness. My latest San Miguel Power bill for December at my ramshackle Cloud Acre home in Norwood shows a total kilowatt hour (kWh) usage for the past 12 months of 6,708 kWh, with a monthly average of 519 kWh

That’s down from a total usage calculated in February of last year at 10,580 kWh, with a monthly average of 881 kWh

Compare that to my December bill two years ago of 11,452 kWh and a monthly average of 954 kWh, and finally to my bill for August three years ago when I had a whopping total yearly usage of 16,118 kWh and a monthly average of 1,343 kWh

Getting conscious of my energy use and working to reduce it, I’ve been able in three years to cut my energy guzzling by more than half. Imagine the carbon footprint savings we’d have if everyone in the county could start getting energy conscious?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 31j13i2 / Gun Control

Photo from Radically Christian website

A hot button issue, red/blue conflict written all over it. Or is it? I find myself, living in Norwood for some 30 years now, having watched my neighbors, most of whom have guns, be respectful, not harm anyone and not negligently allow arms access to their youngsters, so I’m having a hard time endorsing a letter supporting Pres. Obama’s gun control measures in this country, when this is the same president who’s using drones to kill terrorists and terrified children in foreign nations, in open violation of the U.N. Charter (why host an international alliance if you aren’t going to honor its charter?) 

Okay, that was kind of a non-sequitur. But I think we have to face up to the facts. Ours was a nation born in revolution. We owe our independence to a citizenry who threw off the yoke of a King and founded a democratic union wherein they had the right to bear arms – not just for hunting or for sport but for self-defense and against ill-doers or (goddess forbid) a government coup.

Yes, I’ve walked for peace in Telluride on the 11th of almost ten years’ worth of months. I deplore state violence beyond our borders, except for the most egregious situations – of which ‘Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan did not qualify in my book. And as a commissioner, I’ve sworn an oath to uphold and defend our state constitution, as well as our federal one.

But I also think, as Americans, we have a responsibility to defend ourselves, families and friends and a duty to defend our nation. Let’s start giving our society new tools to prevent mass killings (mental health programs, youth mentoring, etc.) rather than taking away our rights to defend ourselves.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 31jan26013i1 / Jill Stein, Pres. Obama & Drones

Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein

 I told my friends I wouldn’t start criticizing Barack Obama until (and if) he won a second term. I voted for him a second time, even though the Green Party had a wonderful, competent and visionary candidate in Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts. But it feels like we’re still semi-trapped in the social and economic collapse of the Bush/Reagan dynasty, and it was important to move this nation off center right, and back to center left. I think the swing won’t be complete until the Dems regain control of Congress.

Then will be the time to mount a hard push to the left to enact a New Green Deal like Stein was advocating – putting America back to work with a Full Employment Program to be co-developed locally and nationally; moving towards green energy and sustainable small businesses; regaining public control of our domestic monetary policy; abolishing corporate personhood; instituting regulatory safeguards for voting rights; championing local control over federal pre-emption, defending civil liberties; and financing new programs by cutting military spending in half; closing our 700+ American military bases around the world; and starting a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.

But with the president formally inaugurated into a second term, I have to raise my voice in public opposition to his use of drones -- officially UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) – a program begun under the previous administration and continuing now into Obama’s second term.

Extra-judicial state murders of suspected terrorists, with its collateral damage of civilian casualties, is illegal, unethical, and just plain wrong. It violates the U.N. Charter, and constitutes a thumbing of Uncle Sam’s nose at international law – just like the previous administration used to do. If George W. Bush should have been charged on the world stage for war crimes, and Ronald Reagan likewise for his Contra War in Nicaragua, funded by covert illegal drug smuggling, what should we do with Barack Obama’s drone strikes?

According to the website Global Research, an estimated 800 or more innocents have been killed by UAVs in Pakistan, including up to 168 children, and only 22 Al Qaeda commanders. And according to the Council of Foreign Relations website, by 2010 there had been 79 drone accidents, costing $1 million each

 Maybe we ought to stop trying to limit Americans’ citizen access to guns, and stop slaughtering innocents in drone attacks world-wide. Just because we don’t see it, don’t read about it in the corporate media, and it doesn’t happen to us or our neighbors doesn’t mean a terrible thing isn’t happening -- paid for by our tax dollars

Former President Jimmy Carter has come out publicly and voiced opposition to Obama’s drone assassination policy. So must we.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Up Bear Creek / 24j13iTG / The Talking Gourd

The Death of a Fly Fisherman

After his death
she tidied his desk,
all but the vise
which she lovingly left,
his last fly untied.

-Kyle Harvey

Up Bear Creek / 24j13i3 / GJ Art Mag

The amazing Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer at a reading in Grand Junction

Kat Rhein of Wild Kat Media has published a second edition of the Grand Valley’s premiere regional art, media and poetry guide. There are marketing sections on all the local hotspots surrounding Grand Junction, luscious photographs of impressive artwork, arts-related stories, and a selection of regional verse from place-based poets.

To get your own copy of what are quickly becoming collectors’ items in their own right, or to learn more, visit and enjoy the work of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Malcolm Graeme Childers and Frank Coons.

Up Bear Creek / 24j13i3 / Sheridan Celebrates Anniversary

100 YEARS 

It’s wonderful celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Sheridan Opera House, although it didn’t start out that way. Originally the Segerberg Theatre when it opened as a “picture show theatre,” according to the Telluride Daily Journal of July 2, 1913, the name was later changed from a theatre venue for silent films to an “opera house” and a mainstay on the state’s vaudeville circuit. There were several earlier opera houses in Telluride, both long gone. Opera houses not only hosted performances and lectures, but they served as community centers for dances and fancy dinner parties … The surviving Segerberg/Sheridan has become the town’s cinematic landmark, thanks to the annual Telluride Film Festival and its international following. And blossomed as well into an intimate performance showcase, “Telluride’s living room,” thanks to the Sheridan Arts Foundation.

Up Bear Creek / 24j13i2 / Tamiflu to the Rescue

Sad Things by Diego Kricek Fontanive

It didn’t seem like a big deal. Gorio was home sick last Monday [Jan. 14th] with a headache, bit of a sore throat, cough (but no fever). And then Tuesday. But when it stretched into Wednesday, I took him to the clinic. And glad I did, because he tested positive for the flu … 

Both of us got Tamiflu pills (for which Don at the Apothecary Shoppe in Nucla saved us mucho dinero, as those little drug cures cost a pretty penny). And we stayed home all week. Him in bed, and me sorting through Mary’s things and being caretaker single dad. Lots of chores at Cloud Acre – wood heat means hauling logs from the shed to the stove and keeping the fire banked and burning, hauling water, preparing meals, washing dishes, shoveling snow -- the list of rural Wright’s Mesa what-to-do’s goes on a spell … 

I did get Saturday off to visit friends up from Shiprock for a dip in the pool at Ouray. But missed Sunday’s 49er game, which was tempting (especially as I love it when they win – Giants in the World Series and now the Niners in the Super Bowl – what a year for the Bay Area!) … Friday there was this dinner party in Telluride, but Gorio and I watched movies, played games, stayed up late and slept late … 

Sometimes being sick is the only way to slow the world down and sleep a lot.

Up Bear Creek / 24jan26013 / item one

On the trail of the Trogloraptor

SPIDERS … Like snakes, I was afraid of spiders as a young child. We lived among black widows and my mom even got bit by one, hiding in the sleeve of a jacket she put on. She was sick for days … But meeting an herpetologist at Pinnacles National Monument in California, I learned to love snakes – recognizing the danger but respecting their power and beauty. And after 30 years living in Norwood on a property with many old outbuildings and in a house with many resident spiders, I’ve come to an arrangement of sorts. I like to say, they don’t bite me and I don’t kill them. Both of these statements are true, although there may be no direct correlation between them. However, in my own magical worldview, there is. And I take great care to escort spiders out of my home (where a good number provide fly-catching webs, eliminating one of the area’s summer pests).

My success in doing so relates in no small way to making use of that wonderful humane spider trapping tool, the BugZooka – an air gun that sucks up spiders and lets you relocate them outside, unharmed … Having become a fan of spiders now (one of the great Diné feminine deities), I was delighted to learn in a recent issue of Science News of the discovery of a whole new family of spiders, Trogloraptoridae. Tens of thousands of new species are discovered every year, but finding a new family of critters is very rare. These new specimens sport big, three-part claws and spikes on curved feet and measure about three inches with feet extended. So far, this spider family has only one genus and only one species. It was discovered by cavers in southern Oregon, and was dubbed Trogloraptor (“cave robber”) marchingtoni (for amateur spelunker and deputy sheriff Neil Marchington). However, specimens have also turned up in the redwoods of Jedediah Smith State Park in California, and may be a second species of the genus Trogloraptor.