The joy of aging’s repeats

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COLONOSCOPY … There’s a lot of O’s in that word, and perhaps fittingly. After my fourth with the good Dr. William “Bill” Ranier last week, his nurse gave me internal photos – a nice touch, if you ask me. Got to see the round muscle hole of my colon up close, polyps and all … Since Dr. Ranier had closed his Cortez office and clinic and had moved his practice to San Juan Hospital in Monticello, he had reminded me of my five-year deadline, and so I’d scheduled it for a weekday last month in Utah … My anesthesiologist there was surprised to hear I watched the operation my first time with Bill – in Cortez some 20 years ago. Back then I was still in my “bring-it-on”-let’s-see-what- the-world-offers-next mindset. It was interesting, if uncomfortable and a bit tedious. I learned getting knocked out and sleeping through the operating room procedures made the experience less onerous … In fact, it wasn’t much more inconvenience than three hours of a drug-induced nap, no pain except for a intravenous needle poke, and a touch of mind fuzziness on waking up … Bill stopped in to tell me he’d found two polyps which they will have tested and I will need to come back in a couple weeks. Last time I had a couple polyps too. Happily, they were benign. However, my brother died of colon cancer, so I went from a big C every ten years to one, post-polyps, every five years now … The hardest part of the whole thing — as a night owl — was driving over at 7 a.m. in the morning from Norwood to Monticello. And that after waking at 4:30 a.m. to drink 16 ounces of water mixed with Suprep (sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate and magnesium sulfate) with an additional 32 ounces of just plain water in the next hour after. It cleans one out. Real clean. Having to drive, half asleep, after numerous trips to the bathroom – as we say in this country, although these trips had nothing to do with bathing – was daunting.

BOTANY … On my way back home after a night out in Monticello, I stopped in the divide between Big Gyp and Disappointment on a little side road that takes one to a site where I once found lots of the rare Gypsum Valley cat-eye … Hailed as a new species by the University of Maryland botanist James L. Reveal (“best known for his contributions to the genus Eriogonum”) in 13006 [2006 AD] and named by him Cryptantha gypsophila. Unfortunately, an earlier American botanist, Edwin Blake Payson, who had written a monograph on Cryptantha spp., had used the name Cryptantha gypsophila in a description of a taxon now known as Cryptantha paradoxa. Under international nomenclature rules, even though the original name of a valid new species didn’t stick, it can’t be used again as it’s in the chain of lineage in the Linnaean system … So, in 13010, the dean of Colorado botanists William A. Weber (currently 101 years old) teamed up with Univ. of Colorado Museum of Natural History Associate Ronald C. Wittman to correct the error and rename Revel’s new species, Oreocarya revealii, honoring Reveal in the process … It’s a lovely white-throated little pincushion bush, found in the near barren grayish gypsum hills of the West End – formed geologically amid the Paradox member of the Hermosa Formation – and in other barren shale substrates … As a plant, it’s similar to the more common Cryptantha paradoxa, but can be distinguished in the field by its glabrous (“smooth, especially having a surface without hairs or projections”) upper leaf surfaces … Regrettably, I had one of my “most embarrassing moments,” as a county commissioner inviting Jim to come speak at the Wilkinson Library about his new discovery over a dozen years ago. Inexplicably, I failed to show up. Somehow the event had gotten lost in my haphazard juggling of a busy political schedule. As a long-time member of the Colorado Native Plant Society, I was horrified. Reveal felt snubbed. Plus I’d missed a talk I was deeply interested in … Reveal has since passed away, but he let nature lead him to understand and describe another rare plant in San Miguel County. In fact this one is really rare. With the highest endangered ratings globally and in the state, the Cushion Bladderpod, a yellow-throated pincushion of a plant endemic to Colorado and endangered globally and statewide, is known only from San Miguel and Dolores Counties. Reveal named this one, and the name has held, Physaria pulvinata. There’s a population not far from my house in Norwood, actually, and I visit it occasionally to make sure it’s still doing well.

PRE-RIVER FEST PARTY … Had a great time in Dolores last month at a party one of my friends hosted – meeting all kinds of people who remembered me from years ago. One year I emceed the Dolores River Fest. Since I never got invited back I figured I hadn’t done a very good job, but someone said they change emcees every year. So that was nice to hear … Val at the lumber yard was gone, so I couldn’t buy any wood, but I loaded up on old sawdust that I used for my compost toilet. … And then I got to visit Trail Canyon Ranch in McElmo Canyon (www. treesoftrailcanyon.com), where master arborist David Temple gave me a marvelous tour of his tree farm. So many unusual varieties that do well in our climate. I got one large tree and a couple small ones. If you want special trees for your landscaping needs, David is the one to contact. I got a black walnut cultivar and I’m very excited to see how it does. It almost dulls the pain of losing three 15-year-old spruce, a 20-foot narrowleaf cottonwood and significant die-off in my elms and coyote willows to last year’s drought.

BROKE DOWN … Of course, my trusty Nissan decided to die in Cortez on my way home. Thanks to CJ of Mancos Towing, I got a jump that worked. But I only got as far as Dolores, when – turning on the lights – the pickup lost all power again. And I couldn’t get it to jumpstart going down a hill. Figured it was the alternator, not the battery … So I called AAA again, and CJ came and rescued me a second time. If you need help for a vehicle down south of us, I’d highly recommend Mancos Towing. Drove me up to Telluride, where I left the vehicle with my new trees in the back (hoping it wasn’t a freezing night, and it wasn’t) … In the morning, the battery took a jump again, and I made it to Norwood, where the Nissan didn’t need an alternator, but merely a good cleaning of the battery terminals and it’s working fine … Ah, the adventures of living in the mountains.

Art Goodtimes writes from San Miguel County, Colo.


THE TALKING GOURD

Rutted

Why do I keep doing
the same thing over
and over again,
expecting change,
something different
to happen?
Haven’t I figured out
that the same thing
results in the same thing?
Why am I afraid of doing
something different,
something I haven’t tried?
Is it change that I fear,
or am I afraid of what
changes change’ll bring?

—Ed Brummel
Salida, Colo.

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From Art Goodtimes.