About Family, Family History, and Proximity

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 by Vince.Puzick

My childhood home was at the north end of Colorado Springs. Not the Historic Northend as some of the new street signs read. Further north than that.  Where Cascade Avenue basically came to an end cutting through fields of yucca and prickly pear cactus and few trees.  The north end. Nothing really historic or glamorous about it.  Just the outskirts of town.

I grew up bordered by my father’s family.  Aunt Millie. Aunt Mary.  And when I was still a baby, Grandpa Nick and Grandma Eva.  Aunt Dorothy — who had married my Uncle Steve.  For some reason, a reason I hope to discover or at least hypothesize in this current writing project, all of the Puzick clan stuck together and carved out a little niche of four households barely a half a mile apart.  Not only within walking distance, but, if the wind was blowing right, within shouting distance of each other.

Not so with my mother’s family.  She and her siblings — two brothers — spread out from their South Dakota and Wyoming childhood homes and pursued their independently from one another.  Reunions with them seemed special because the times together were infrequent.  Cousins were born and got so much bigger since the last time we saw each other.  Little kids grew into teens then adults.

So we had this great and immediate proximity to the Puzick side of the family.   Not so much with the Wertenberger side, my mother’s side.  And so with this proximity we knew the Puzick story.  The coal mining side.  The immigrant Serbian side.  The German side was distant.  Less intimate.  Overshadowed.

And the richness of a family tapestry cannot be fully seen in the threads of one texture.  And so this writing project is the other thread.  to be continued …

So you’re a native!  So what …

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2015 by Vince.Puzick

I was having breakfast a few weeks ago with a new friend who recently moved to Colorado Springs, and during the conversation I said “I’m a native.”

“You’re the second or third person I’ve talked with in the last few weeks that pretty quickly points out that you’re a native of Colorado Springs.  Why is that?”

It’s an interesting question.  In our very mobile population, it is almost expected that people will move to different parts of the country or, living in a city with five military bases such as Colorado Springs, different parts of the world.  When I ask, I’m usually expecting the answer to “where are you from” to be something other than Colorado Springs.

So from my friend’s response, my blurting out that “I’m a native” must seem, what, a little prideful?  Does it come across as creating difference – “you’re new, I’m a native”?  — and therefore maybe a little arrogant?

I have pondered why it is important to express, blurt out even, that I am a native of Colorado Springs.

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Perhaps it is out of nostalgia.  I remember when … the north end was not even “The Old North End.”  The north end of Colorado Springs was basically north of Uintah Street, or maybe even north of Fillmore.  The north end ended where Nevada Avenue merges onto I-25.  Rockrimmon was simply the site of the old Pikeview coal mine and, more when I was growing up, high school woodsies and keggers.

Penrose Main on Cascade Avenue was simply Penrose.  The 13-story red and white building was the only Penrose Hospital in town.  And Penrose was a visible and meaningful landmark in the town.  Until the Holly Sugar building was built in the early 1960’s, Penrose rose up out of the tree-lined streets of the north end like a beacon.  One could always orient one’s self by finding where he was in relation to Penrose Hospital.  And when it is your place of birth, it grounds one in familiarity, foundation, reassurance.  Coupled with the fact that I was born there, Penrose was also where my mother was trained and as a nurse and then employed for some 40+ years.

The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo breakfast was a small town event.  So was the 4th of July gathering in Memorial Park.  The population throughout the 1960’s was only around 90,000 residents.  Today, the 4th of July event draws more people than that to the Park.

I remember when the Manitou Incline actually had a train car that pulled people the mile up.  Those were saner, simpler times.  And Jones Park was a hiking and backpacking experience where you would not see another hiker (and mountain bikes were not even invented) for the entire weekend.

Does it just come down to nostalgia?  Maybe it is just due to the fact that I am getting older faster and reminiscing more often and more deeply.  The old and familiar of Colorado Springs still serves as my anchor despite the changes.  I love walking down Tejon Street despite the loss of Michelle’s ice cream, Lorig’s cowboy boots and hats, Hibbard’s pneumatic tubes where your payments zoomed out of sight and where the elevator was tended by an elevator man.  I love the presence of the Fine Arts Center even though I do not take advantage of the richness of it as often as I should.  Despite my own liberal leanings, I think NORAD is awesome, the Academy is beautiful, and Fort Carson (where my uncle worked) is pretty cool.

But maybe my blurting out “I’m a native” is also about roots and place, about the rootedness in where you “grew up.”  When I told my friends in California, after living there for all of the 1980’s, that I was moving back to Colorado Springs, they thought I was crazy.  (I’m sure it was, ironically, native Californians who mostly responded with this disbelief.)

But there is something about waking up with the sun-reddened granite of the Pikes Peak summit greeting you on fall mornings that lingers bone deep.  (It is also knowing “Pikes Peak” has no possessive apostrophe and being OK with that despite being an English teacher.)  It’s knowing the effect of the chinook winds, that today’s snow may be gone by sunset tomorrow.  Or even later today.

It’s knowing that despite living in the most conservative of all counties in Colorado, we weathered Proposition 2 twenty years ago. It means we can enjoy a rich arts community even if it feels tiny at times.  It means despite our growth, we can enjoy nature experiences within our city limits and wilderness experiences within an hour’s drive.

So, yeah, I blurt out that I am a Colorado Springs native.  It’s a statement that says welcome to what I have known for many years, and it serves as the segue into the near-apology of “I know, things could be better here.”  Maybe it’s a bit protective of a life that once was and is not the reality today.  Maybe it is an invitation that says let’s continue to create a space together that has all the closeness of a small town but the richness that 400,000 people may bring.

“Tending to” Regrets

Posted in Observations with tags on December 30, 2014 by Vince.Puzick

Over the last several months I have been thinking a lot about “regret” — both the concept in the abstract and two specific regrets I have somehow managed to tote along in my life for quite a while.

There are two competing perspectives, it seems to me, about “regret.”  One school of thought holds that you can’t escape having regrets; they’re part of our human make-up.  When we look back on our lives at different points, we wonder “what if” or question a decision made along the way.  Friends around me have said, “There’ll always be regrets. No escaping.  It’s human.”  I’m not a believer in “everybody does” or “it’s part of being human.”  What’s the spiritual solution to the mental obsession of regret?

Another school of thought says “get on with your life, no looking back, no regrets.”  As that great philosopher of the late 1990’s said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.”  Rafiki, from The Lion King, then goes on to say “You can either run from it, or learn from it.”  The Swami Sivananda may have influenced Rafiki’s thinking:  “Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future.”

The question that has been running around my head, then, for the past several months, is how do you get to that place of “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”?  Of course, the past is past and what is done is done.  I get that. But just saying it doesn’t end the thinking or sometimes the downright obsession with the regret.

In 1975 (yes it goes back to the summer I graduated from high school), I was denied admission to Colorado State University.  My math scores were too low to be admitted into the College of Forestry and Natural Resources.  CSU recommended that I attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, take my math and other general ed courses there, and then transfer to CSU.  I decided in June of 1975, while working at the Colorado Outdoor School in Vail, not to pursue that path.

Instead, I worked in a factory for a few weeks and then re-applied to CSU as an Undeclared Liberal Arts student.  And I was accepted.  I went for one semester and withdrew again.  During the next 13 months, I worked the night shift at another factory.  When we got off at midnight, I would go home (usually after a stop at the Tam-O-‘Shanter Pub on Garden of the Gods Road) and write for two hours or so.  I’d write poems, short stories, one act plays usually based on my experiences in the factory and the people with whom I worked.  Motivated by the desire to write, I decided to return to Colorado State as an English major.

33 years later, after some minor turns and some major changes (like getting sober 31 years ago), I have been committed to my career in education.  It has fulfilled me and I would like to believe that I have made an impact in people’s lives over the past 28 years devoted to this honorable profession.

So, where is the regret?

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to learn to fly fish — which has meant hours spent in nature, in the mountains of Colorado, in the natural resources we are so fortunate to enjoy within such close proximity to our home.  It has rekindled my inner young adult’s spirit:  the guy who backpacked nearly every weekend from 9th grade through high school, who cross-country skied in the Colorado winters, who had two summer jobs of outdoor leadership after graduating from high school.  The 20-year old’s voice keeps whispering to me “what if…Fort Lewis College… Colorado State.”

And over the past two and a half years, I have the had opportunity to write a blog for a local fly fishing shop.  As I have developed my own fly fishing skills, I have had the opportunity to interview fly fishing guides, to write about some of the spectacular experiences Jannetta and I have had in some of the most beautiful country in Colorado.  I have had the opportunity to advocate, at times, for the preservation and conservation of our natural resources, specifically cold water fisheries and wilderness preservation.  It’s probably the most sustained writing I have done —even in its sporadicalness — over the past several (many, many) years.  So the young adult factory worker, the one who was motivated to return to college to study the craft of writing and literary arts, is passing me mental notes:  “what if … you had pursued writing more aggressively after CSU rather than heading into the field of education?”

Grace Slick captures the essence of my two somewhat interwoven regrets:  “When you get older, it’s not about what you did that you regret; it’s what you didn’t do.”

As I write this, I see the beauty of my own life right now: the rich profession I have enjoyed for nearly 30 years;  the opportunity to spend considerable time in the outdoors pursuing fly fishing (more than a hobby or pastime and closer to an obsession) AND with the person I love; the chance to write about that obsession, er…interest on a frequent basis.

(Amazing how writing will do that — reveal some truths about one’s own life.  I’m not dissatisfied with what my life looks like and still …)

In studying “regret” — not the kind that could be defined by past actions (because two things can happen with those:  karma or making amends) but the type of regret that can be defined as inaction or not accomplishing something — I have discovered this:

Henry David Thoreau writes “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret is to live afresh.”

I have probably attempted to smother the sorrow of not pursuing the academic path offered by CSU’s College of Forestry and the sorrow of not pursuing more aggressively my own desire to write.  Thoreau’s comment to “tend and cherish” is more how I try and live today. His admonition to not “smother your sorrow” is, for me, right on target.  It has never worked for me to try and stifle, smother, or deny my human emotions.  Why do that with feelings of regret that surface?  The question becomes: what to do with them?

“Tend and cherish” until it becomes a “separate and integral interest” sounds like detaching (with love) from the regret while also realizing its essence.  For whatever reasons that a profession in Forestry or a more active engagement in writing did not materialize (addictions, then lack of focus, then lack of resolve), the “integral interest” is still with me.  Who we are and what we know at a given point in our life form the foundation for our decisions made at that point. I think that what remains, the integral interest, will need to take a new form than they may have taken 30 years ago.

The road down the College of Forestry & Natural Resources and the road down total immersion in writing are still seen from my rear-view mirror.  Any regrets that have traveled with me, stored away in the trunk of the car, can also allow me to “live afresh” on this road I have traveled.  They don’t have to be smothered but, instead, freed to bring energy into this day.  I think their essence will be part of my recovery as the two converge to meet on the banks of a river.

William Shatner says “Regret is the worst human emotion. If you took another road, you might have fallen off a cliff. I’m content.”

As am I.

My brother. The cop.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 23, 2014 by Vince.Puzick

My brother retired a few years ago from being a cop.  He served the Colorado Springs community, his hometown, for 30 years.

I learned a little about police work watching my brother.  He worked the bar detail for awhile checking places like The Wagon Wheel on (what was then) the east part of town and then he’d drive over to The Cotton Club in downtown Colorado Springs.  Bar owners liked him.  He was fair with them.  Wanted to protect their business, their livelihood. He worked his way up through the ranks becoming a sergeant and then working undercover on drug detail.  He once described police work as hours of routine and monotony interrupted by very intense, life or death, adrenaline-pumping action.  Arriving on the scene of a bar fight, or busting through a door with a suspected meth dealer, armed, on the other side gets your attention.

As a cop, his interactions with the public were almost always in high stress, unpredictable situations.  You don’t roll up on the scene where humanity is showcasing its finest behavior.  You get a tainted view of humanity, I suspect,  because you constantly view its underbelly.  It’s the nature of the job.  And it takes its toll.

My brother was a good cop.  And by that, I mean he was skilled at what he did; he was respected by his peers and by cops who served under him in his sergeant command.  And he was a good cop, an ethical one.  He lives by a strong moral compass.

And this writing is not some unexamined, younger-brother-admiration of his older brother.  We argue.  We don’t see eye-to-eye.  My brother, 15 years older, is a product of the 1950’s.  He is on the conservative end of the spectrum.  My liberal leanings are fodder for an argument in which he always seems ready and willing to engage.  I both admire his conviction to his beliefs and wince sometimes at his unwavering adherence to them.  I suppose it is true with all of us — “conviction to” borders on inflexibility. ”Seek to understand” sometimes doesn’t exist.

I have thought a lot about him over the last several months.  I have thought a lot about cops.  I have thought a lot about community. About humanity.

I have thought a lot about Eric Garner and Michael Brown.  I don’t understand … I’ll just leave it at that.  I don’t understand.  How they both died, unarmed, by the hands of  cops for apparently pretty minor crimes.  How their resistance to whatever the cops were asking them to do escalated so quickly that they were dead within minutes of the interaction.  And I have thought about Tamir Rice who, at 12 years old, was shot within seconds of cops arriving at the park where Rice was brandishing an Airsoft pellet gun.  Or playing with.  His naiveté and kid-innocence tiptoed up to adult realities he could not really know.

Three black males — 12, 18, 43 — dead on the street.

And I have thought about cops being shot at lunch, like the two in Las Vegas over the summer, and, more recently, the two in their cruiser on a Brooklyn street.  I don’t understand.

Our view is skewed by the color of our fellow man’s skin or the hue of his uniform.  Are we all becoming profilers — racial, ethnic, religious, gender, occupation?  Our reactions toward and interactions with others are based on perceived and preconceived roles rather than relationships.  Perception is reality.  The cop in blue or the black man in a hoodie.  The cop.  The black man. Threat.

We see an icon, an image, a caricature.  We have lost touch with our humanity.  We become transfixed with seeing images of a black kid hugging a white cop not only because of racial implications in the photo, but maybe because of the touch.  Arms around each other.  Body to body.  The humanness. When are we ever this close to another human being, particularly those we may see as a threat?

The creation of more dialogue to build understanding and relationship won’t guarantee a fix.  But the absence of dialogue, the lack of effort to build understanding, surely guarantees no progress. The human voice touches.  Art touches.  Literature touches.

The cop.

My brother.

A White Guy Talks About Privilege

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 by Vince.Puzick

Back in the early 1990’s, I was teaching a night course at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  After the 7:15 class, I was heading to my car along a dimly lit sidewalk that ran along the side of the library building parallel to the parking lot.  A young woman, maybe around 20 years old or so, was walking in the opposite direction.  As we approached each other, her eyes quickly darted up to meet mine, then she looked straight forward.  Her body seemed to tense up, she clutched her books and bag closer to her. I wanted to tell her nothing to fear here.  But of course she walked in a fear in that dark night that I did not experience.

I’m a white, straight male.  Because of those biologically determined facts, I have been privileged in social, economic, and professional ways. Privileged.

Coming to a level of consciousness of my privilege was a process for me.  It was an awakening rather than an epiphany.  As with other awakenings, it was in fits and starts, not a steady progression from unconsciousness to consciousness.    Don’t most awakenings — spiritual, ethical, moral — happen that way?  How many of us have a “burning bush” experience?

In my late adolescence and early adulthood, I was too caught up in protecting my own emotional security and physical survival to be aware of “privilege.”  After my father left when I was 12, my mother, a Registered Nurse at a local hospital, and I moved from our large Victorian house to a two-bedroom apartment.  Three years later, due to the economic challenges from being a single mother, we moved to a basement apartment.  Six months later, we moved again. It’s difficult to be conscious of privilege when you’re struggling to hold it together.  Perhaps, too, it was because of my last name which isn’t very American sounding.  I had to pronounce it repeatedly for teachers; I had to spell it out;  I had to explain its nationality.  It may be difficult to be aware of privilege when, as an adolescent, you are shaping and explaining your very identity.

But I do not offer that as an excuse or a justification for not being conscious of my own privilege.  I offer that to suggest that coming to consciousness is, more often than not, a process of accumulated experience, a dialogue with others, and an education which may come in a variety of forms.  In fact, William G. Perry’s work on intellectual and ethical development would support the idea that as people grow and mature, they pass through clear stages of moral, intellectual and emotional development.

On my journey to understand the privilege of my white maleness, I had to experience some degrees of “otherness.”  Of course, that in itself is quite a challenge.  In my early adulthood, though, I deliberately created opportunities to be in the minority for even the briefest of times.  I have been the only white male in a college course on Afro-American History. I have been the only male in a course on Women’s Literature and Literary Criticism.  I have been one of a handful of straight males at gay and lesbian events, the most remarkable being a poetry reading and subsequent discussion with feminist and lesbian poet, Adrienne Rich.  I have been the only white male in a bar, the Shadowglen Lounge, in the mid-1970s.

These experiences offered opportunities for discomfort — emotional and cognitive — that enabled me to reflect on my place in the world.  Granted, these singular experiences do not begin to replicate the day-to-day experiences that women, minority, and gay or lesbian people endure each day.  But they were an attempt for me to hear the experiences and perspectives of not being male.  Of not being white.  Of not being straight.  Hearing the life stories of others, or others’ responses to pieces of literature, or their non-white, non-male, non-straight perspectives on our own country’s history allowed me a new perspective on my own.  As Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, whom I read as a graduate student, writes, “No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.”

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was engaged in a handful of conversations both online and face-to-face about privilege.  My contributions in those conversations were often shot-down.  I was misinterpreted as arguing that white males are victims.  I was accused of not taking responsibility for my own actions.  I was vehemently ridiculed for not acknowledging the benefits I have from my privileged position in society.  So I stopped talking and buried my interest in being in the conversation.

I am not a victim, certainly, of my white maleness, but I am a victim of a society that tolerates, fosters, and gains from a social, political, and economic system that privileges one over another.  Again, Friere, says “[The oppressor] cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have.”  I inherited, was born into, a system that I can only work to change.

So my silence is not healthy for me individually.  The silence of any group is not healthy for us, societally, and in a larger context.  I cannot undo my white male straightness.  I’m “stuck” with what I was biologically dealt.  No biological solution, however, exists for a social, political, racial, and economic problem.  The solution isn’t found in silencing any group.  Yes, I need to listen more to hear.  I need to reflect more than respond or react.

Dialogue and conversation means that we are going to say the wrong thing.  It means we are going to be misunderstood.  I read somewhere recently that white people cannot understand or talk about race and racism.  I disagree.  Perhaps for too long we have had a monologue or disingenuous dialogue.  We all need to move toward gaining a new understanding.  How will new knowledge be gained if dialogue is denied?

Paulo Freire writes that “A word for so long a time attempted and never spoken, always stifled in inhibition, in the fear of being rejected — which as it implies a lack of confidence in ourselves — also means refusal to risk.”

The risk of any missteps in getting to a new and deeper level of understanding has to be taken, though, because the consequences of no dialogue, no conversation, are too great.  Those consequences get people shot, communities burned, countries fractured.

On Belay: Some Thoughts on Risk-Taking

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2014 by Vince.Puzick

I’ve been thinking about risk-taking a lot lately.  I’m not much of a risk-taker, it turns out, despite the fact that I am the youngest child in my family and according to some infographic I saw on Facebook (second only to Wikipedia for credible information), the last born child is a risk-taker just naturally.  But I had been thinking about this even before that contradictory chart appeared on my newsfeed the other day.

Risk-taking — taking a chance, a gamble — means working without a net.  Rock-climbing without a belay.  It means the mutual fund is made up more with your Aggressive Growth Portfolio instead of Money Market.

It seems there is this continuum of risk from low-level to high.  At the low-end, there is a certain confidence that “I won’t fail” which moves to “If I fail, I’ll be protected” (the belay rope will stop the fall) and then moves to high-level risk which is that “failure is not an option,” I’m operating with no protection or “If you don’t die, what’s the failure?”

But if you can’t fail or there is protection if you do, what sort of risk is that.  It’s rock climbing by walking on an undulating forest-service road.  It’s tight-rope walking on sidewalk cracks.  Low-risk is low-pay off.  Low-risk is low consequences.  Not much of an adrenaline rush if you’re tightroping the curb.

When I was younger, in my twenties and thirties and before parenthood, those seem to be the days for risk-taking.  Leave it all and backpack through Europe.  Move to the mountains and backpack, cross-country ski, write, go with the flow.  Work to live not live to work. The yearning was there but I couldn’t step out on that tightrope.  I couldn’t make that first move on the rock face.  It felt too freestyle.  You have to have two things to freestyle:  nerve and skills.  You need guts and at least the self-perception of enough skill to survive.  It takes some brashness.  It takes tip-toeing up on the side of rash, cavalier.  You can’t hesitate.  You can’t question.  “Do I dare to wear my pants rolled?”

Adulthood, parenthood, responsibilities and bills to be paid seem to sandpaper off the urge (or is it the opportunity) for risk-taking.  You can’t take unwilling — or even unknowing — hostages with you on that tightrope.  You can’t let them piggy back as you scale that rock face.  Can you?

So I look around at my comfortable home, my loved ones who share it, and the respectable professional life I have pursued.  It’s a nice life.  Fulfilling.  Pretty safe.  It won’t win any gold medal at the X-Games.  No Extreme sport, this life.

But just once I’d like to climb without a belay.

Lessons Learned from Aspen

Posted in Observations, People, Teaching on June 9, 2014 by Vince.Puzick

Aspen sat in Row 11, Seat 14 at the Dodgers vs. Rockies game on Sunday.  She captured our attention when she passed the row she was sitting in and her grandfather (we think it was her grandfather) started calling her name.  She was on the stairs about at row 3 when she heard him and made her way back, a little sheepishly, to her seat which was directly in front of mine.

I’m guessing Aspen is about ten or eleven years old.  Her multi-colored stocking hat was sort of sassy, distinctive and gave me the impression that Aspen may be a bit of a free spirit.  She had a little black bag with some sort of colorful images on it, too, that she kept her things in.

I’m always a bit intrigued by young children at ball games. Sometimes they just don’t have the patience to hang in there and watch a game for two or three hours.  Baseball is particularly challenging, at times, because the action can be so far away.  At other sports events, basketball and hockey, you can feel more intimately connected with the game because of proximity to the players and action. The extra-curricular activities, little shirt giveaways and contests, help keep spectators entertained at time-outs and slower moments of the games.  At Coors Field, they do a nice job with the big screen to keep us entertained.  And people watching at baseball games is fun.

As we settled in to the game this rainy Sunday, people huddling together to pretend it really wasn’t so damp and chilly in early June, Aspen and her grandfather also settled into the afternoon.  Aspen sat at the front of her seat, sort of on the edge of her seat, as the game picked up.  She never leaned back in the seat as she watched the game and did a little people watching of her own.

Every now and then as the game went on, Aspen and her grandfather would get into some conversations that appeared a little, for lack of a better word, “intense.”  And this is where I had my lesson from Aspen. Again, she did not sit all the way back in her seat.  She only sat about half way back. When her grandfather talked, she turned her torso one-quarter of a turn so she was facing him a little more directly.  I could not see her grandfather’s face or hear the content of the conversation.

As her grandfather spoke, Aspen’s eyes narrowed a little and stayed focused on his eyes. Sometimes they scanned his face.  But her eyes stayed attentive.  She’d nod.  Her nod reminded me of my own daughter’s action when she was about that age. A nod that said “I get it … keep telling me more. I’m with you.”  She would add a word or two in the conversation.  Then she would be attentive again, listening.

I was reminded, again, once more, of the power of listening.  Attentive listening.  Watching Aspen reminded me that active listening is done with more than ears.  It is a whole body act.  She listened with her ears, for sure, under that multicolored hat.  She listened with her body turned toward her grandfather.  She listened with her eyes, glued to his, scanning his face, attentive and engaged.

In many ways, I was glad I could not hear the content.  Aspen’s lesson was about listening behavior, the physical act of listening.  You can learn a lot from an eleven year old who is curious, inquisitive, engaged.

Oh, one last important lesson from Aspen on this cold, rainy day.  Start the day with Dippin’ Dots.  An inning later, make the move to cotton candy. (She had a great strategy: don’t take the plastic wrapper off;  instead, eat the cotton candy one finger-pinch at a time by reaching up under the packaging from the bottom.  It keeps the cotton candy undisturbed, and, if you get tired of eating it, you can then save it for later.  Aspen didn’t need to save any for later.)  And then to finish off the game, warm yourself back up with a hot chocolate.

After all, you only live once and you are eleven.

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