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I was talking on the phone the other day with my sister, a philosophy professor. When I told her that six months of pandemic-forced isolation was steering me toward a “nobody cares if I’m on this planet or not” mood, she said, “That’s nihilism and that’s not good. ”

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(Note: this column is written in honor of the 31st Annual Estes Park Rotary Duck Race, which takes place tomorrow, September 19.)

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A great many of us in the Estes Valley community are sickened by the Estes Park Health proposal to close the Living Center and evict its 29 elderly residents. Closing our beloved Living Center would not be in the best interest of the community. It is clearly not what the community wants. It …

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After writing a depressing column about how tired I am of all the negative energy weighing heavy on our poor planet and her inhabitants, I decided it would be better to close the document, file it away, and start over. But I spent hours on that column and now it’s late and my deadline looms.…

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This week I discovered there is a Box-Hoarders Anonymous after all. It ends up there are lots of us out there who have never met a box we didn’t like. Members of B-H Anon don’t hold meetings and they don’t have a list of steps to overcome their obsession but they certainly provide support! H…

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Most people undergo the challenging experience of relocating at some point in their lives. I’ve moved nine times, including when I was too young to remember—and not including the boomerang moves back into my parents’ house for three summer months each year during college.

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Ask a kid what his favorite game is today and he’ll say Pokémon (yellow version, of course), Call of Duty, Minecraft, Civilization, or something else that sounds more like a job than a game. But these are games and they play them while sitting in front of a computer screen.

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A lot of us have taken up meditation as a regular exercise since the big undesirous virus forced us into social deprivation. Meditating is supposed to bring a sense of peace, calm and clarity. With our planet spinning on a slow-motion tilt-a-whirl, we can all use a healthy dose of each: peac…

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Sometimes we wake up and think life during a pandemic isn’t so bad. We hop out of bed, skip to the kitchen to make coffee, and when we take that first tongue-tingling sip, we wonder what delightful surprises the day will bring. A life of isolation is glorious, we think, because we get so muc…

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When we started this isolation-by-pandemic back in March, we had to figure out what to do with all the extra hours that came knocking on our door. We invited them in and made them feel welcome. We played games, did puzzles, played duets on the piano, I tried lots of new recipes (and many old…

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My Aunt Bobbie turned 87 this past week. She is Mensa-smart, has a master’s degree in library science and spent her life collecting books. For this, I am forever thankful, because her favorite gifts to my family over the years were books. (They were our favorite gifts to receive as well.) Sh…

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Warning: The first part of this column is not for the weak of stomach. Read at your own risk. Unless you’re 13. Then you should definitely read it.

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There are three books I keep close when I write this column. The first is the American Heritage Dictionary, which I have mentioned in this space several times in the past. I received my edition from Grandma Ward as a high school graduation gift. Taped to first page is the gift tag which read…

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After I submitted last week’s column for publication, I worried I might have offended the Y chromosome population. I said they, as a whole, didn’t carry the label-reading gene that is ever so important when grocery shopping. Sure enough, I heard from readers either supporting my theory or de…

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When I grocery shop I want to go alone because I don’t like to be rushed. You see, for me grocery shopping is a form of entertainment. Call me zany, but I like it.

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Recently there have been protests and riots taking place across the country—no, across the world—after George Floyd was ruthlessly murdered by a white cop. Of course the riots have been violent. Torched cars, burning buildings, broken glass, tear gas, rubber bullets, insults and profanity an…

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We are 85 days into the coronavirus stay-at-home lifestyle. Lots of people have decided they’ve had enough and are ditching the cautionary measures. They’re going out to eat, socializing without masks and hanging out closer than six feet apart.

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We’re almost halfway through 2020 already. Can that be? Being homebound for more than two and a half months made that time simply vanish from the calendar. All I have to show for those days are a couple of homemade masks, a collection of recipes I tried, and a lot of steps recorded on my pho…

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I rang up Dan the Banjo Man today. I haven’t gotten together with him since March 16 when we gathered with friends to play some tunes. We Zoomed as part of a poetry salon one Sunday in April, but other than that we’ve dutifully kept our distance.

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We spend all day every day alone, for the most part. We don’t talk to the people in the grocery store, often because we don’t recognize them with their mask on. Or is it that shaggy hairdo? We see someone sort of familiar but we’ve never known them to wear sweats, or go without makeup, or be…

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In order to lighten up the sense of doom hanging over us like a black cloud these days, I reran a column last week that originally appeared in the Estes Park News on September 7, 2007. In it, I provided a code to create unusual new names for each of us. Just as 13 years ago, several readers …

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In the middle of National Poetry Month I received a request to rerun a column from 2007. Carol H. thought we could stand to “put some laughter in our days. ” So here it is, a column from September 7, 2007, with some changes to make it current.

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There are only a few days left of National Poetry Month 2020. Each week throughout the celebration I have run poems that somehow related to the unusual times we are living through, caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Throughout this surreal time I have found solace in poems and …

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Easter, the time of rebirth and a sure sign of spring, has come and gone. We look out the window and scan the landscape for her; for flowers and budding trees and flitting, flirting birds. But that’s not what we see. Instead we turn up the furnace, huddle under the afghan, and watch the wind…

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In the mid-1930s people listened to a radio program called Cowboy Tom’s Roundup, which is where Tex Ritter first sang a rousing version of “Bread and Gravy.” My dad learned the song as a Phi Kappa fraternity brother at the University of Iowa back in the ’50s. There are more variations to the…

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Once upon a time, songwriter James Taylor recorded words that continue to resound with those of us who have lived in the Estes Valley for many years: “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” But a pandemic? Give me a break! Wait a minute—I guess our governor has done that with the “Stay-At-Home”…

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It is National Poetry Month at last! I’ve been eager for it to get here. We need the diversion so we can escape momentarily from the daily doom closing in on us. But before we get into the poetry, I have three thoughts about hand-washing:

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With fresh fruit, mushrooms and spaghetti noodles in my cart, I was in a long line at the grocery store, staying a smart distance from the man in front of me. No one was talking except the woman behind me, who was on the phone. The only things she had in her cart were two 4-packs of toilet p…

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Our favorite sweet old guy, Bob Brunson (may he rest in peace) sent me an email in April 2014 with the subject line, “Clever Gems. ” I hung onto it all this time, knowing at some point we would all be in need a few Clever Gems to add some sparkle to our homebound days.

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I can see the headline now: “Woman’s Face Attacked By Her Own Hand. ” The story would be tragic, about a woman who—like all of us—had been told to keep her hands away from her face. She managed to resist the temptation by sitting on her hands, putting socks over them, and holding spoons in e…

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What would the world be like without sound? Would we mind it? Would we miss the far-off rush of traffic if there were no planes, trains and automobiles? What would go through our minds if we turned on the radio and heard nothing? What if we stepped outside and all the birds stopped communica…

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My high school sponsored a Sadie Hawkins dance every year. I spent months prior to that night imagining which boy I wanted to invite (I had a crush on so many!) and wondering how I would ever get up the nerve to actually ask him to the dance. I recall going to only one of these girl-ask-boy …

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LaRue Bell was your average middle-aged dude walking down the street on a cold, snowy Wednesday in February. But that changed in an instant when he ran smack-dab into a parking meter and somebody happened to catch it on candid camera.

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A universal heartstring resonated last week when I talked about dealing with my parents’ belongings. There was an overwhelming response from readers and I am sorry there isn’t room to share all of the stories I received. Here is a random sampling:

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It was halfway through 2018 when we moved my mom and dad into an independent living community, downsizing from their 4-bedroom home of 45 years where they reared five children, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and marked their milestone 85th birthday (Dad) and 80th birthday (Mom). W…

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The scenario is more or less the same in small towns, bedroom communities and urban neighborhoods alike: a group of people gather for an in-home get-together. The men tend to assemble in a living room while the women make final touches on their culinary contributions in the kitchen. The host…

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Who is Ed? He keeps popping up in my texts. He didn’t used to, but something’s changed and there he is, appearing at the most inopportune times. I have not invited him into my private texting world and I want him to go away.

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Normally I am not a night owl. I like to go to bed relatively early and rise to get the worm. But as I’ve aged, my mind has developed a—well—a mind of its own. It doesn’t want to spend the dark hours sleeping. There’s a lot to think about and it wants to do its job in the wee hours when ever…

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I haven’t sent out my own Christmas cards in years, but in November I spent several hours preparing cards for my mom to mail to her list of recipients. I used her address book to locate family and old friends. (What a valuable record of her social history and genealogy! Not only could I foll…

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My arms were full of sundry gubbins (that’s a fun word for stuff) when I headed to the car: a wrapped package for an ornament exchange, several grocery bags to go in the trunk, a couple of CDs, a plate of cookies, a cup of coffee. I could barely manage to hit the garage door opener button wi…

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Christmas is only five days away. Rudolph is polishing up his red nose, thinking that perhaps Olive, the other reindeer, may find it attractive. Frosty can be found dusting off his old silk hat after spending the night in jail for jaywalking. Did he think he’d get away with it when the traff…

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Before we get into this week’s thunking, let’s have a little history lesson: In 1863 President Lincoln wanted to give thanks for the success of the Battle of Gettysburg so he pronounced Thursday, November 26, 1863 as Thanksgiving Day. He called upon his countrypeople (that’s the inclusive fo…

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We had a game plan for Thanksgiving: drive straight up the middle and don’t stop until we get there. But Old Man Winter took the opportunity to remind us who wins every time, with his first downs coming one after the other in the form of cold and ice and snow. At the last minute he showed me…

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Last week I questioned the ambiguous chestnut. Who has ever eaten one? Where does the chestnut tree grow? What good are the nuts, really?

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Next week we jump with both feet into the blizzard we call The Holiday Season. I get dizzy dodging the many holiday thoughts bombarding me like snowballs thrown by nine-year-old boys. For instance:

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Rarely do I spend three columns on the same theme but this week is an exception. I am devoting a third column to the topic of the dictionary. Then I’ll be finished with it, not only because the subject will have been thoroughly explored but because the d key on my keyboard has all but retire…

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We were on a bus, trying to nudge our way through the crowded streets of Al-Karak, Jordan. Faded yellow taxis, old cars and practical work trucks (not the monster pickups that Americans drive) were wedged higgledy-piggledy in the intersection and nobody was getting anywhere. A horn honked ev…

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This week you are in for a treat. Sharon Kay Beyer is back as a guest columnist, sharing her story of home, sweet home: