Colorado


Have You Seen the Painted Ladies?

     “The painted ladies are migrating.”        Puzzled looks prompted our biology teacher to describe the butterflies he’d noticed.        Sure enough, as I drove home that afternoon, I glimpsed a smallish orange and black butterfly wafting along. Then a few more and a few more, all fluttering north. Unreal! As a lifelong Puebloan, I’d lived in the path of the great painted lady migration for 35 years and never noticed. That evening, I shared the news with my mother. She’d seen no signs of a butterfly migration in her area of Colorado’s Grand Valley. […]


From Hero to Rat-Bit Crack-Up 2

After my Mile High Lab Rat book launch, we wheeled the scientist photo props back toward the van. Unfortunately, one of the cart wheels hung up on a sidewalk crack and upset the load. The crash was gentle, thank goodness. Nothing broke, but one of the live rats in the terrarium bailed. The rats were breeders on loan from a raptor center and highly replaceable—I’d guess, but I didn’t want to find out. Also, the college staff had been so accommodating in hosting my book launch party. Introducing a rat infestation to their campus seemed seriously shabby. I’d tried not […]


How Pueblo Community College Metamorphed a Lab Rat into an Author

Not long after becoming Pueblo Community College’s science lab coordinator, I saw a notice that the Packard Foundation was offering small grants to boost preschool learning programs. I’d just left a preschool teaching job, and I’d been admiring the lab gizmos and thinking how much kids could get out of experiencing them, so I had a brainwave: wouldn’t it be cool if we could check kits out to teachers, so every kid in class could have a set of bottles full of magical but harmless chemicals to explore? I talked to my bosses Regis Opferman, who approved the project, and […]


Great Read Coming Your Way 2

In 2002, I started a mystery novel set in the science lab where I worked. I wrote and rewrote so long and hard, it got stuck in my computer and wouldn’t even try to find its way out. Finally, lockdown gave me time to coax it through the maze, and Mile High Lab Rat will launch on March 31st. After all my efforts to make it thrilling, it needs readers to thrill, so I hope you’ll try it, love it, and spread the word. 


Critter Fix

Inches from my head was a critter scratching, skittering, gnawing, hellbent on creeping me out and doing a fine job of it. I wondered if it was looking for a secret passage through the propane tanks, storming the storage compartment under our bed, or using the headboard as a jungle gym. Wherever the intruder was, it was not the nature I’d come to commune with. Other pests we’ve picked up  over the years have been more considerate-except that mouse that built a nest on our pickup’s engine and started a family overnight. The festive looking light strings I noticed under […]


Civil War and Plague Isolation Survivor 2

When the American Civil War broke out, Jacob Evans joined the northern army, hoping to help save the Union. He was a teenager when he marched off with his regiment. They were rugged men battling fleas and lice in huts made of logs and dirt.  Worse, when officers weren’t savvy enough to order the latrines to be dug downstream, sewage leached into the men’s drinking water. Many of the soldiers came from isolated farms and had little immunity against diseases we now immunize for. One sick soldier could wipe out a camp in short order. Ninety-five men died of disease […]


Colorado Mother of the Year

In 1884 Tom and Alice Glover drove up Colorado’s Grand Valley in a covered wagon to start a new ranch along the banks of Parachute Creek. Alice held their baby daughter Queenie. When they arrived, Tom pitched a tent for the family to live in that summer. Once the camp was set, he found a couple cowboys to help him build a ranch. While the men were building, Alice was on her own to make the camp a home. On wash day she carried water from the creek to heat in a kettle over a fire. She made her own […]


Batty Bird

As I cooled my trail-weary feet in a Colorado mountain stream, I noticed a small creature flitting above the water about tree top height. A glut of recently hatched gnats no doubt inspired the critter’s erratic hover.  The flier was bat-sized, a little small for a bird, and its flight was bat-like as well.  Yet the evening seemed too early for bats.  I watched for several minutes trying to distinguish bat or bird and finally got the right angle to see that the head was bird-like. Shortly after that, as I sat beside our camper, something flew just over my head and apparently clung briefly to the side […]