I’ve nearly recovered from our Colorado adventures, so I’m diving headfirst into a long overdue project. I’m moving all of the websites I manage to a new web host and updating them. I’m excited, because I’ll be able to do much more in this space soon, and I’ll say goodbye to those pesky video ads at the bottom of the posts.
I can’t wait to get back to blogging after what feels like quite awhile away. So I’ll pack things up, move, unpack, and decorate as quickly as possible. (It’s probably not a good time to mention that I’ve just now been blowing the dust off and unpacking a couple of boxes in our garage from our actual move to our house in 2008. No worries, this one will go much swifter.)
When all is done, things will look a lot different around here. In the meantime, please pardon any dust or noise and check back soon for a new and improved New Urban Habitat!
It’s the time of the year for counting blessings, and I’m ever so grateful to all of my readers and virtual friends who stop in here to read and connect. So thank you for your patience during this transition.
We made it home after a wonderful, whirlwind trip to Colorado, and I managed to not even take one majestic mountain photo for you. I didn’t bring my (heavy) SRL Canon with me, thinking that our point-and-shoot would do the job. With two little ones, two carry-ons, one suitcase bursting with clothes, and another sagging with 50 pounds of books, this seemed like a magnificent compromise in the airport. However, the moment we got into our rental car and wound into Turkey Creek Canyon, I longed for my camera. Even more so when our point-and-shoot charger failed us. Fortunately others have recorded bits and pieces of the book events, as evidenced above. That’s me in Boulder presenting at the Center of the American West, courtesy of Allen Best.
Both events were such magical nights that I’m afraid I can’t do them justice. I was honored to share the stage with such a number of distinguished and entertaining readers. If ever I need to produce an audio book, I know some folks who I will call first. The event in Salida, which I somehow managed to plan and execute, was crowded and hummed with an almost palpable electricity. I talked to more people than I usually see in a month, many of whom I’ve known my entire life. And I loved every single second of it. I can’t believe what a beautiful, generous town I grew up in.
And then to speak and then read on the stage with the likes of historian Patty Limerick, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs, former High Country News publishers Ed and Betsy Marston, Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher, and so many more at the Center of the American West on my dad’s birthday was such a true honor that I haven’t quite digested it even more than a week later. Afterward I got to spend a couple of days with my almost eighty-two year old grandma and see all of the cousins who I played with for weeks out of every summer as a kid, as well as their big, beautiful families.
And to top it all off, I went to the Colorado Public Radio studio in Centennial, where a plate-glass window revealed the Front Range aglow in sunshine, and talked with Ryan Warner about my dad and the book. You can hear that interview here.
Now, we’re home, and I find myself in that dazed, but slightly frenzied state that descends after a big project is done, when a million ideas for what’s next start churning and you’re not sure which one to pluck out. I’m both missing Colorado and all of the excitement of last week and enjoying the quiet, calm rhythms of home. It helps somehow that the normally soggy Oregon weather has turned Colorado-like — icy and sunny, with bare bone branches twisting into blue sky.
I was taken aback for a moment at both events when I saw the speakers’ copies I’d sent out weeks ago, now with notes scrawled in margins, multicolored post-its jutting from pages, covers bent back. It is theirs now, this book I created that was once just an idea flitting through my mind. Like any long journey, I’ll never be the same as when I set off on it so many months ago, and it feels both glorious and bittersweet to be at the end of it. In some ways, it’s like saying goodbye to my dad all over again, except I feel like I know him just a little bit better after spending this long year with his words.
You can learn more about Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies at edquillen.com/anthology.
Last week, we launched my dad’s anthology into the world. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, we started with a huge archive of columns — more than 1500 of them — and created a book. It was quite a journey from there to here, and I’m glad I embarked on it for so many reasons. Most of all, it feels great to honor my dad’s career and preserve some of his writing in a form more lasting than newspaper archives.
Leading and completing a big project, especially one where I got to collaborate with lots of interesting people — has been super satisfying. I got to sharpen lots of skills, including copy writing, copy editing, proofreading, fundraising, public relations, graphic design, and XHTML and CSS coding. I’ve also gotten a lot of practice waiting in line at the post office with two little boys, who strangely transform into bouncing balls of energy the moment they step into public buildings.
After I catch my breath, I’m excited to tackle another publishing project. I’m hooked!
Later this week, my family is heading to Colorado for a couple of book events, including one hosted by the Center of the American West in Boulder. You can learn more about the events and the book here. I’ll likely be away from this space for a couple of weeks. But in the meanwhile, you can find a column by me in Colorado Central Magazine if you live in that area, and look out for the new YES! Magazine to hit the stands. My short feature about Portland’s food carts will be in the winter issue.
We are just two weeks away from launching my dad’s anthology … and we are busy! But we’re also having a blast. After working in many corners of the book world for more than a decade, I’m completely hooked on publishing. I’ll have so much more to share with you about the process once I have a moment to catch my breath.
This weekend we managed to take a morning off to make our annual trek to choose the perfect pumpkin. I hope you too are getting some opportunities to enjoy this beautiful season.
This weekend we harvested all that remained in our three sisters garden. The boys and I dug out the ten-by-ten plot and planted it at the beginning of May on a bit of a whim, and I wrote about our adventures in polyculture in June when it was in its infancy.
Since then we watched a few heirloom corn plants shoot toward the sky. Spotted rattlesnake beans twisted up their hardy stocks, and half a dozen varieties of spiky squash plants covered the ground beneath them. The soil in our plot wasn’t great, but we harvested loads of zuchinni and summer squash and at least a dozen winter squash. We ate many rounds of green rattlesnake beans and let the rest dry on the vine for cooking beans.
We eat a lot of beans around here, and it was an educational process to grow them ourselves. Beans are such a humble and inexpensive food; it’s easy to take them for granted. But once you spend an afternoon hunched over a bowl shelling them, you’re less likely to do that.
What a thrill it’s been to watch what was a patch of weeds last April transform into a robust and beautiful garden. And because beans fix nitrogen in the soil, we’ll hopefully see even bigger harvests in our plot in future years. I definitely understand why this sisterly trio has such a rich history in the Americas.
What have you been harvesting this fall? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.