pennie life

pennie photo
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March, 2011

Hi All . . . not sure where to start, but here goes . . .

Crazy, wonderful us.

Stacey, Mara and I are at what we hope is the tail end of a very good winter, with plenty of snow for skiing and fun. I say “hope,” as last April and May we were still seeing snow and chilly temps around CB . . . seems like summer didn’t start until mid June.  But the ski area’s seen over 300 inches of snow this season, and while we don’t have that much at our house (we’re about seven miles down the valley and seven or eight hundred feet lower than the ski area), the snow’s been waist deep in the yard and the snow blower’s been getting a pretty good workout this winter.

The snow around our house in early March.

Mara and Stacey getting Mara ready for her first day of kindergarten.

Carving up a pumpkin last Halloween.

Fake bear attack.

Mara’s in kindergarten this school year and seems to be a happy camper with her new educational opportunities.  She goes full day, gets three recesses and seems to be off to the races with her reading and writing, and really enjoys getting to hang out with her friends all day.  Mara will turn six on May 20th . . . six, already? we keep asking ourselves?  It’s a blur and probably will continue to be until we wake up one morning and suddenly she’s eighteen and heading off to college . . . time’s blazing by. 

Call me a push-over, but this is one of the sweetest birthday cards I've ever gotten.

Mara’s a fashion conscious, sociable, thoughtful, good kid and, as you can imagine, likes to go-go-go, with either something to do (right now) or a plan for getting together with a friend in the very near future.  She’s way into her arts and crafts (our pantry is as much an arts and crafts storeroom as it is a food storage place these days) and Mara retreats to the pantry often to either close the door and work in private or drag out the paints and construction materials to work on the bigger projects.  She’s way fun to ski with, able to get around to more and more of the places on mountain that Stacey and I go.  Our family ski days have evolved from casual runs on the Painter Boy lift to tight trees and runs on the North Face.  We’re just trying to enjoy our time on the mountain with her, ‘cause we know it won’t be long until she’s too fast and too interested in skiing with her friends to hang with Mom and Dad. 

In the last month, Mara has rarely missed an opportunity to ski the trees.

She's lucky that she's small and fits through them!

Mara and Stacey getting a bite to eat after a morning of skiing.

Dance class . . . Mara's fifth from the left.

All ready to go before dance recital. Mara's on the far right.

Stacey coached Mara's soccer team last fall . . . Mara's third from the left in the back row.

Mara attends dance class once a week and Daisies another afternoon a week (Daisies is the precursor to Brownies, which must be just a Girl Scouts of America ploy to get as many little girls selling cookies as soon as possible) and played soccer last fall.  Mara also likes going for motorcycle rides with me and zipping around on her own little motor bike . . . we’re looking forward to doing more of that this summer.  We seem to be a bicycling and motorcycling family, so no point in waiting to get her started, I guess. 

While she's already tested out her crash gear on a few occasions, Mara has no fear of leaning her electric motorcycle into the turns. It's an Oset bike and really cool in that it fits her pretty well (she'll grow into it over the next year or two) and is easy on gas! We were riding at the college in Gunnison last weekend, where there was little snow and even less traffic in the parking lots and on the sidewalks.

Mara and a few friends having some fun at the rink in the neighborhood where we live. Mara's on the left.

The kids favorite game was getting a running start and then diving for a big slide across the ice. Mara's going for it.

Stacey is working as a special ed aid at the school in Crested Butte.  She earned her teaching certificate in the late nineties, but put it on the back burner, going into sales at Crested Butte Mountain Resort instead.  With Mara now in school, Stacey’s hoping to get the opportunity to teach in Crested Butte or Gunnison, and is paying the necessary dues to get a full-time classroom position.  With the tough competition for teaching jobs around here and the forecasted budget cuts, it may be a few years before Stacey gets her opportunity, but we’ll see how it goes.  The special ed kids that she currently works with are challenging, but she’s hanging in there, enjoying working in the same building as Mara and volunteering in Mara’s classroom when she gets time. 

Mara and Stacey riding up the Red Lady Express lift for another day of fun in the sun and snow at the ski resort.

Stacey’s also been getting out skiing a good amount this winter with her friends in addition to getting out with Mara and I, so that’s been nice. When not at school or skiing, Stacey works a lot with Mara on reading, writing and math, and rarely misses out on the teachable moments.  Just in case you were thinking that Stacey might be bored with all of her free, spare and extra time, she’s also waiting tables at one of the Crested Butte Mountain Resort restaurants a couple of evenings a week.  Stacey’s been working at Crested Butte Mountain Resort for 23 years in a row now (yes, ever since she was ten, for those of you who just started doing the math).  After 25 years on the job, the resort gives employees a free lifetime ski pass, so Stacey’s planning on putting in at least another couple of years working in some capacity for the resort.  So my dear wife’s plate is quite full these days. 


This winter and past year have been pretty status quo for me.  For a dad with, what in this part of the world is a good, salaried job with benefits, I still make time to get on my skis or bike and get out to have some fun.  The back country has been really nice for much of the winter.  Hiking up the mountainsides around Crested Butte has kept me sort of fit, while coming down the mountains skiing powder cures just about anything that ails me.  I’ve enjoyed being able to share more and more of things I like doing with Mara . . . she’s getting more adventurous and able every time I turn around.  She’s been a fun snowmobile riding partner when we’ve had the opportunity and this summer I’m looking forward to sneaking her off for more father-daughter only adventures and camping trips. 

The father-daughter powder sledding team.

Out for a mountain bike ride at the ski area last summer.

Guess who likes driving the boat? I need to get her trained in so that she can pull me skiing :)

Last summer Mara and I had an afternoon together, so we rode the Silver Queen lift up and hiked to the peak 12,162' peak of Crested Butte Mountain. Mara did a great job, climbing to the top unassisted and the views from the top were pretty impressive.

My job in the I.T. department at Crested Butte Mountain Resort continues to provide the career opportunities and sanity balance that (for the most part) fits me, so I’ve been pretty content to stay there.  I’m the manager/administrator for the phone and radio systems at the resort, and have primary responsibility for the resort’s copper and fiber infrastructure around the mountain.  I’m also taking on more of the data network responsibilities, learning about switching, routing and firewalls every chance I get.  It’s varied, interesting work for the most part, with pretty regular hours unless we’re under a project deadline, and I can usually make time at least a couple of times a week to get out and ski in the winter or mountain bike in the summer.  I still keep a side business of photography and web work going.  I have several active web clients whose sites I maintain for them and I almost always carry a camera (or two) with me as I come across interesting and/or gorgeous things to photograph pretty regularly.  The always-connected social media scene (i.e. Facebook) makes me pretty crazy, so you it’s nothing personal, but you won’t see many appearances from me in that neighborhood.  But I have a blog that the ski resort contracts me to maintain where I post photos and commentary about the ski area and/or town four or five days a week.  I take on the occasional sports or real estate photography jobs as time allows, too.  While it gets harder and harder to find the time to keep the side work going, the photo and web work are a necessary resource for the family and good creative outlet for me.  You can check out my blog by clicking here. You can check out some of my photos by clicking here.

Powdery turns during a back country run down Mt. Emmons a few weeks ago. The snow was soooo gooood.

The ski area closes the first weekend in April and from there I’m guessing, with the weather we’ve had so far this winter, we’ll continue to see cold and snow through April and into May.  Once things get warmed up and melted out, we’re looking forward to another summer of fun and camping, with a good chunk of time skiing at Blue Mesa with the boat.  We also need to get our act together and make the trip down to Albuquerque to see Stirling, Jen and meet Holden.  Thinking about that, we want to extend a wide open and standing invitation for swinging up and seeing Robb, Stacey and Mara if you’re going to be in Albuquerque or anywhere else near by.  It’s only about four and a half or five hours down the road and a beautiful drive between!  Seriously, if you’re ever going to be in the neighborhood, we have an extra bedroom that’s always ready for you, so don’t be shy. 

Up and skiing.

Mara and Stacey are ready for tubing action with friends at the lake.

Ever heard of Bishop's Castle? It's west of Pueblo, Colorado, and is the castle that John Bishop has built by hand over the years. The place was a little nutty, and you were definitely on your own in terms of safety, but it was way interesting to check out. Thought you'd enjoy these pictures of our visit there on last summer's vacation . . .

Climbing up the steep, exterior stairs.


The view looking down from the highest tower. That's Stacey and Mara looking up.

Some interesting steel work, for sure. If you're ever looking for something a little different and off the beaten path, check it out. Those uncomfortable with heights and lack of railings, need not apply.

To wrap up, I apologize profusely for being so lousy at staying in touch with all my cousins and relatives.  I wish I were better at keeping up, but . . . errrrr . . . well, you get the picture.  But we hope your families are doing very well . . .  have a super spring and fun summer!

Stacey, having extra, spare, and, of course, already unutilized time is painting Mara's loft in the late hours of the evening. Talk about a good mom . . .