Saturday, January 26, 2013

Indian Peaks Winter - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Indian Peaks Winter" Colored Pencil

The Indian Peaks are buried under deep snow on a cold, December morning. The evergreens appear black during the winter as they contrast starkly against the fresh, white snow. Navajo, Apache and Shoshoni Peaks take on a golden hue that compliments the bright, blue sky. It's the perfect time to be snowshoeing through the pristine basin, one of my favorite places in Colorado.

Recent glacial action has sculpted the young mountains unveiling serrated ridges and an intimidating shark's teeth profile. The place was sacred to the Paleo-Indian people who traversed the high alpine passes thousands of years ago. Not long ago, the Arapaho tribe would migrate up from the eastern plains during the warmer months to hunt and fish in the bountiful area.

To honor those early inhabitants, many of the peaks are named after western, Native American tribes. Seven summits are over 13,000 feet and more than 50 turquoise lakes dot the landscape. They are dazzling remnants of North America's southernmost permanent glaciers. Each summer the profusion of wildflowers attracts a multitude of visitors. The sweet fragrance is intoxicating but I still prefer the unique beauty of a snow-covered landscape.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abert's Squirrel - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Abert's Squirrel" Colored Pencil

Exhibiting no fear of heights, an Abert's Squirrel is perched on a limb high above the forest floor. It's a warm spring morning and the cautious squirrel needs to collect pinecones for an early breakfast. The large, bushy tail and long ear tufts are the distinctive features of this endearing creature. Compared to the rowdy, little red squirrel, who thinks it owns the forest, the Abert's is quite charming.

A story about the simple life of a squirrel may seem tedious but we can learn much from its interesting and complex partnership with the ponderosa pine tree. Also known as the tassel-eared squirrel, it is strictly confined to ponderosa pine forests. The tree provides not only a home but also most of its diet. In exchange for food and shelter, the squirrel spreads fungal spores around the tree that are beneficial to the pine's health.

The squirrel has to manage its fragile resource wisely because if the exploitation becomes too extensive, the tree will go into defense mode. It will produce extra terpenes (chemicals that give pines their scent) to ruin the squirrel's appetite. The tree's reaction evicts the squirrel but at the cost of reduced vitality and a slower growth rate. In other words, they need to get along in order for each species to thrive. Just like any prosperous relationship between plant and animal there must be some give and take.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Blog Award probably originated in Germany
A couple of weeks ago I learned that my friend Judi Salzillo from 50 & Fabulous nominated Impression Evergreen for a Liebster Award. What's the Liebster Award you may ask? The Liebster is a form of special recognition that bloggers bestow upon their fellow bloggers. A way for us to share the work of our favorite independent publishers. The tradition appears to have originated in Germany and keeps plugging along like some kind of indestructible chain letter. If you choose to accept the award there are some tasks that must be completed to make it official. Here are the rules as Judi explained them to me.

1.  Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2.  Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3.  Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (no tag backs)

4.  Copy and paste the award onto your blog.

I like the concept so, despite the extra work, I've decided to play along. Plus, this will give me a chance to show my appreciation for the support I've received from some very talented individuals. My blog is a family project and I couldn't keep up without the help from my wife, Judy and the unique input from my field agents (children), Theo and Lukas.

50 & Fabulous - Judi is a fun-loving mom of three whose site details the ups and downs of daily life on the east coast. I'm not sure exactly how or when our paths crossed but she's been a loyal friend. Her posts are always entertaining and often humorous with topics ranging from cooking and gardening to baseball. She is also a very good photographer. Thank you for the Liebster Judi, you can guest post on my site anytime.

Questions asked by Judi and my answers
1. What is the one food you can't do without?
2.  One thing you want to do before you die?
    Visit the Louvre museum.
3.  What is your favorite hobby and why?
    Fantasy football with my son because it makes the NFL Games more fun to follow.
4.  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
    Galapagos Islands.
5.  What book are you reading now?
    The Pig and the Dragon.
6.  What are you looking forward to most in the New Year?
7.  Favorite meal when eating out?
    Chicken Soft Tacos.
8.  If you have one 'do-over', what would it be?
    I have no regrets - don't look back.
9.  What is your favorite movie and why?
    Lord of the Rings because of the jagged mountains and beautiful horses.
10. Who is your favorite TV character?
    Dean Winchester from Supernatural
11. If you had a day to do anything you wanted to do, what would you do?
    Mountain climbing in the Sneffels range near Ouray, Colorado.

Random "Me" facts
1.  I played college basketball
2.  I coach youth soccer
3.  I ride horses
4.  I don't like scary movies
5.  I love listening to music
6.  I live in Colorado but I don't ski
7.  I like to go shopping
8.  I collect football cards
9.  I read non-fiction books
10. I'm very superstitious
11. I've been married for 23 years.

My Nominees for the Liebster Award:

CASLworks - Stefan, Carlos and Francine are awesome! On their site you'll find art, photography, poetry, writing and you can even get your horoscope. They are true Renaissance People. Their string of posts about the benefits of blogging is what inspired me to start my own online journal. I'm very grateful for their unending support and encouragement.

Zen For Zoey - Zoey writes original articles about entertainment and the movies. She crafts monumental posts that are validated with incredible research and her own personal experiences. She's also a really good photographer. Zoey is one of the nicest people I know and has been very supportive of my work. Thanks, Zoey.

Pre-Columbian Americas - Zoe is an excellent writer that is an expert on the history of pre-contact MesoAmerica. Her work is well researched and extremely intelligent (she's way smarter than me). Through her historical fiction novels she tells a fascinating story about the rise of the Aztec Empire. Please check out her stunning site.

Watercolors by Luisa - Luisa is a fantastic artist who works in transparent watercolor, something that is very difficult to master. Believe me, I know. It's amazing how she captures the air and light of the California mountains in her paintings. Her site features these beautiful jewels of art.

colorsandpastels - Claudine is a pastel artist based in Luxembourg. She's one of my favorites and a great friend. Pastel is another medium that's very unforgiving so I really respect her talent. I don't always understand the language written on her site but the images speak for themselves. Her oceanscapes are magnificent.

Susan's Headspace - Susan's blog documents her wonderful encounters with nature. She observes the birds and wildlife of her region in intimate detail. I frequently cross paths with Susan on twitter as she is a prolific tweeter. Thanks for all of the retweets. Susan is also an excellent photographer.

Hundred Book Pile-up - Cindy is a retired teacher and a superb writer who reviews children's books on her site. You'll also discover posts about her garden, quilts and writing. She is a self-published author and I loved reading her middle grade fantasy book The Pig and the Dragon.

Questions for my nominees
1.  Where were you born?
2.  What is your astrological sign?
3.  Where do you live now?
4.  Who is your favorite artist?
5.  What is your favorite bird?
6.  What is your favorite movie?
7.  What is the one thing that you absolutely could not live without?
8.  If your life was a motion picture, what would the title be?
9.  What's something you've never done but have always wanted to do?
10. Do you collect anything?
11. What inspires you?

A good summation of the Liebster

Step four, copy and paste the award onto your blog

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Search and Rescue - The Joplin Tornado

"Search and Rescue" by Dustin Miller

Guest post by Dustin Miller

On May 22, 2011 an F5 tornado hit the small city of Joplin, Missouri. It cut a path a half-mile wide and destroyed one third of the city. More than 150 people perished in the catastrophe. I live about five miles south of Joplin but I was lucky to be excluded from the tornado's path. During the time the tornado was wreaking its havoc, I was unaware of what was actually happening. I stepped outside and all I saw was black sky to the north. I ran inside to turn on the news. I not only witnessed the tornado live but I also began to realize the magnitude of the situation.

I could not believe the destruction I viewed on television. I felt so bad for the people in Joplin that I wanted to go help. However, the authorities kept stating that they did not want anyone coming into the city. It was too dangerous and there were too many people there already. I felt horrible because there was nothing I could do to help.

After a few days, I was finally able to reach my church in Joplin where they were sending out groups to help with the cleanup. I was placed with a group of four other volunteers. Two of them were from Kentucky, one was from Alabama and one was from Arkansas. I could not believe that people would come from such far distances to assist complete strangers and sacrifice their time, money and energy to help a community they were not even a part of.

We were sent to the southwest part of Joplin close to where St. John's hospital was hit. When I saw the neighborhoods surrounding the hospital, I was awestruck. The destruction was rampant. It reminded me of an apocalyptic war movie. The area looked like a military battlefield ravaged by high-powered weapons and bombs.

We drove around looking for families that needed help. It did not take long. We got out of the truck and began picking up limbs, debris, pieces of their house and belongings that were scattered across their lawn. We spent all day cutting branches and trees that had collapsed in the yard. We made only a small dent in what the family needed to accomplish to recover from the aftermath of the storm but they were very grateful for our assistance.

The painting I created was in response to the many heroes who reacted on that infamous day in Joplin, Missouri. I wanted to pay tribute to those extraordinary individuals who came out from all over the country and sacrificed so much. I wanted to honor the men and women who risked their lives in the search and recovery efforts to help victims in a time of extreme need.