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2 • November, 23 2011 • Durango Living Holiday Edition


INSIDE It’s playtime!

Publisher Richard Ballantine General Manager, Newspapers Ken Admundson Vice President of Advertising Paul Hay


Design Manager Brady Sutherlin Editor/Designer Karla Sluis Photographer Hal Lott Advertising Design/Prepress Mitchell Carter Georgia Davenport Jennifer Dickens Janelle Farnam Laney Peterson Michelle Uhl Tracy Willbanks Advertising Sales Darryl Hunt Karolann Latimer Shawna Long Rob Lillard Chuck Jillson Corrin Oxnam Adam Adimoolah Cora Younie The Durango Herald uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special magazine publications. However, all general information comes from a variety of sources and may change at any time for any reason. To verify specific information, refer to the organization or business noted. To see the online version of this guide, click the link at:

A publication of



The pleasure is all yours: Explore the passionate hobbies of five Durangoans


Home for the holidays: Special events make for a spectacular “staycation”


Cowboys & skiers: Veteran rider describes the thrills of skijoring


Go ski racer, go: 73-year-old enjoys Nordic competitions, just for fun


Stop, chop, stew & brew: Herbalist describes alternatives for cold and flu


Made in Durango: Gifts under $100 created by locals, for sale in local shops

watchers: Durango Bird Club 28 Sky members share camaraderie, curiosity



Warm fuzzies: Volunteer is drawn to helping pets at local animal shelter


Chile, in everything: Southwest cult classic adapts from freezer to plate


with the flow: Produce food 34 Grow indoors in winter with hydroponics to shine: Homeowner adds 36 Time highlights to labor-of-love building



The historic East Third Avenue home of Guy and Kathryn Gervais is festooned with holiday lights in December 2010. See the story on Page 36. Photo by Hal Lott

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 3


With two (or more) Durango jobs, You’ve worked hard all year. Now what to your wondering eyes should appear?

Play days! M

ost people describe their job in a calm, matter-of-fact tone; but when they talk about their hobbies, there’s a big change. Their faces light up, their eyes sparkle – sometimes they even get a little breathless. Hobbies do more than just fill up free time: They make us come alive. We’re all different, and the following pages show that personality fits the passion like a lock and key. Some find joy in competition and adrenaline, like the heart-pounding winter sports of Nordic ski racing or skijoring. Others are drawn to quiet, meditative work such as reading or knitting. Many people enjoy being of service, like the volunteer who works with shelter animals. But there are common threads in

the pursuit of pleasure. People are attracted to the state of creative flow. Fly fisherman Buck Skillen describes this as “a significant passage of time can go by without any real awareness. I get completely lost.” Curiosity is another common drive. Humans are hard-wired to learn, and hobbies bring out the burning desire to know a subject in depth, such as birds, herbs, home renovation or the intricate parts of an old steam engine. Victorian Aide Society costume maker Carrie Foisel describes her interest in history as an absorbing game: “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.” We hope you enjoy putting your own pieces together. Happy Holidays! f

4 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

– Karla Sluis


A hand-knit Santa figure is one of Sharon Greve’s holiday creations. She knits three to four hours per day and donates a lot of her work to Durango charities.

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 4

November, 23 2011 • Durango Living Holiday Edition • 5


S o c r


pleasure is all yours In their free time, many Durangoans love to (re)create. Their handiwork is as big as a train engine, as tiny as a baby sock, or as limitless as imagination inspired by a good book. We explore their passions in the pages that follow.


Stories by Malia Durbano,

Durango Living Writer

Photos by Hal Lott

Knitting keeps her connected


haron Greve loves to knit, crochet, embroider, weave, do pen and ink drawings, watercolor, grow and paint gourds, garden and just be outdoors. She squeezes all this in around the activities of seven children and 17 grandchildren with her husband of 30 years. She loves fiber, and began knitting while in college 53 years ago. She was already crocheting, and she was thrilled to learn to knit in an occupational therapy class at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. While waiting in line for dinner at the school, other girls wanted to learn, so she taught them. “Back then, there was only Red Hart yarn that was wool and acrylic,” she said. “Now there is so much more variety in textures and blends. Yarn is made out of silk, linen, hemp, yak and camel. There are so many more books on the subject and new techniques.” Knitting is woven into every area of Greve’s life. She is a charter member of the Four Corners Knitting Guild that was formed in 1989, and wrote the group’s newsletter for nine years. She is a contributing columnist for The Country Register, which is a free newspaper available in crafting stores in 47 states and four Canadian provinces. Although she has a Ph.D. in knitting, affectionately defined as Projects Half Done, she says she’s always learning new things. “There are new circular needles and magic loop needles, which are helpful for making socks,” she said. Greve designs her own patterns for items and enjoys sharing techniques with women of all ages and skill levels at their Fun Ladies Knitting Club, which holds meetings on Wednesday nights at Yarn on Second Ave. She believes that charity begins at home: Greve knits for everybody. She has knitted sweaters for Africa, hats for chemotherapy patients at Mercy Regional Medical Center who are losing their hair, blankets for Southwest Safe House, and clothes for teddy bears that the police and sheriff’s department hand out to children for use in crisis intervention. The list also includes: donating items for fundraisers for Music in the Mountains, Christmas presents for seniors at Sunshine Gardens, baby blankets for the hospital, and items for the Red Cross to give to families whose homes have burned. Extending her needles around the world, Greve’s group sends yarn, needles and patterns to help women make clothing for their families and start cottage industries. Greve loves the mental challenge of following the patterns and doing the math, but at the same time she considers knitting to be a stress reliever. “It’s so rewarding to see the finished products and know they will be useful to the recipients.” Greve accomplishes all this in three to four hours every evening in lieu of watching TV. f

6 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

f “It’s so rewarding to see the finished products and know they will be useful to the recipients.”


Sharon Greve knits at her home in Durango on Oct. 25, wearing a sweater of her own creation. Below: Greve’s bear pattern required advanced knitting techniques.


so to ed nd ill he .”

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 7


“The more I learn about the history of this area, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”

She has a vintage flair


Carrie Foisel, Victorian Aide Society member and costume maker, stands outside the Strater Hotel on Oct. 27 wearing her handmade outfit.

8 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

arrie Foisel’s hobby began in 1997 while she was homeschooling her kids. She and a friend were looking for a fun way to make history interesting. She found that dressing up in period costumes as a member of the Victorian Aide Society was a great way to present history in 3-D. “I’ve always loved history, and have been interested in historical costumes forever,” she said. “We do lots of research and teach accurate history to people. We don’t have to embellish: Durango has a rich history.” The Society does walking tours of Durango, explaining the history of the town and buildings. “It’s exciting to tell stories to tourists or groups from the high school. I like to make history engaging – not dull and boring.” Group members have chosen to study one particular person and learn as much as possible about their life. Foisel finds it really exciting to meet actual descendents of the people they are depicting. She loves hearing personal stories about individuals who lived here so long ago. The hobby has maintained her interest over time. “The more I learn about the history of this area, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. I love learning about the people and what their life was really like.” The approximately 40 members of the Society all share a love of history. They participate in one or two events a month and publish a quarterly newsletter. Foisel says one of the best benefits is to associate with people who are like-minded. “We have so much fun,” she said. Because the focus of their group is local history, they only travel as far as Pagosa Springs, Cañon City or Silverton to seek out relevant activities. They have decided to resurrect Silverton’s Step Back in Time Victorian Ball in June. “Silverton is like the town time forgot. It’s the ideal place to dress up and pretend you’re living in the 19th century,” said Foisel. While historical reenactments have become popular lately, and the vintage clothing can be purchased online, Foisel likes to make her own. She researches, designs and sews her own beautiful, authentic replicas of period clothing. Foisel includes aspects of her hobby in both of her jobs. She does industrial sewing for Holt Sheet Metal, creating a fiberglass filter that goes over a drum in one of their machines. Her other job is taking photos of people in the same period costumes she wears at Thru the Lens Fine Portraits. She would be happy to share her passion for regional history with anyone who expresses an interest. “Come to one of our events. It’s kind of addictive and fun to wear the clothing.” f

Train buff gets hands dirty


eorge Niederauer didn’t realize that what started out as a casual hobby on Saturday mornings would soon take over his life. He is now president of the Durango Railroad Historical Society. Over the course of a six-year project, he spent thousands of hours restoring the now-famous Engine #315. Niederauer had enjoyed working on model trains as a hobby during his 34-year career as a nuclear engineer. Working on the full-size train gave him an opportunity to really get his hands dirty. The project began in 2001 and ended in August of 2007, when they fired up the engine for the first time since it had been retired in October of 1949. “We took the whole thing apart, every nut and bolt, and every piece of wood was restored or replaced,” said Niederauer. “We restored the whole engine, plus the exterior of the train.” Over two dozen people helped in the restoration, including children and grandchildren of the core group. He said it was a good experience for his own grandchildren. Many of the retired men who participated in the restoration brought talents and skills from their careers. There were metal workers, wood workers and welders. They also got some expert advice from the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge staff and from the Colorado Railroad Museum staff in Golden. “The learning process also included doing some things over again that weren’t done properly,” he said. Niederauer enjoyed many hours of work and fellowship with the other train buffs, especially in the last two years when they were putting things back together. The men enjoyed the camaraderie and challenge of the project that captivated their interest. They also participate in model-railroad clubs in the area, including Pagosa Springs and Bayfield. The hobby takes Niederauer all over the world. Switzerland has some of his favorite narrow-gauge railroads, and he has also visited the National Railroad Museum in York, England. The group has had requests to restore other engines, but Niederauer said, “the first time was purely for pleasure – the second one is a job.” He’s participated in lots of projects in his career, but none that were as long as this one, and none that made him so proud. “Nothing was as exciting as seeing that engine actually run again. The steam engine era was very romantic, and the historical significance continues to captive me,” he said. After the project was over, Niederauer wrote a book about the restoration, the engine itself and the history of how the technology was developed, called Locomotive 315: The Lives, Times, and Rebirth of an 1895 Steam Engine. (Copies are available at Maria’s Bookshop, or visit http:// for more information.) Niederauer and the core group that worked on the project take the locomotive and the tender, which holds the water and the coal, on runs between Durango and Silverton or Chama and then from Chama to Antonio, Colo. “We are restoring a few freight cars to preserve them for the future, but they are a lot simpler than an engine,” said Niederauer. Continuing the hobby helps him maintain a better quality of life both physically and mentally. The satisfaction of a job well done and leaving a legacy for future generations keeps him going back for more. f

Niederauer fell in love with trains at the age of 4, when his older brother received a small Marx O-gauge freight train like the one pictured below.

George Niederauer leans against Engine #315, which he helped restore after taking apart “every nut and bolt” from 2001-2007.

Photo courtesy of Bob Keller

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 9



Hooked on fish & flies

“Fly fishing is the only thing I’ve ever done where a significant passage of time can go by without any real awareness.”


Buck Skillen ties a fishing fly at his Durango home workshop on Oct. 26. He enjoys the challenge of finding just the right combination of colors and textures to mimic specific insects.

uck Skillen has tied over 9,000 fishing flies in the past 13 years. He loves the challenge of figuring out exactly which fly will attract a fish and make it bite. Typically he ties flies in the winter, because the rest of the year “there’s too much going on,” and he would rather be out fishing. He is out on the water a couple of times a week from between two and eight hours at a stretch – the time varies. “Fly fishing is the only thing I’ve ever done where a significant passage of time can go by without any real awareness,” said Skillen. He is surprised when he looks down at his watch to take a lunch break and five hours have passed. “I get completely lost and engaged in the natural world.” Skillen has been actively engaged in fly fishing since 1987, when his brother-in-law began to mentor him in the art. He had been interested in it for a while, but with a busy career and family, he never really had time to pursue it. Now that he has more free time, he’s hooked. “It offers me the opportunity to bring a spectacular looking creature to hand, and then release it unharmed.” Skillen is driven by continuous challenges. “It’s a lifelong learning process. Every time I’m out there, I learn something new, or re-learn something I forgot.” He analyzes where the fish are, what fly to use and how the water flows. He says the art of fly-tying involves choosing the correct feathers, fur and synthetic material to mimic the kind of bug or critter you are trying to imitate. While he enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow Trout Unlimited members and often guides tours to teach other fisherman, Skillen prefers to fish alone. When fishing together, Skillen says men compare notes on what flies they are using and what the fish are eating, but they don’t talk much while actually fishing. The true lure of the activity is solitude and engagement with nature. Skillen shares his love of fly fishing with Bayfield Middle School students on the San Juan River as part of their outdoor recreation program, and also donates fishing outings to area nonprofits. Skillen also works part-time for Duranglers on Main Avenue. Traveling with like-minded individuals who share the same passion has taken Skillen to beautiful fishing spots such as Christmas Island, Belize and South Andros in the Bahamas. On group trips with Duranglers, he caught fish in British Columbia and on the west coast of Florida. For those considering the sport, Skillen suggests getting some good instruction in casting, or taking a fishing clinic or a guided trip through Duranglers. “Early instruction helps to get started up the learning curve and develops confidence, which makes the sport more enjoyable. Just getting out there and thrashing the water can get pretty frustrating.” f RIGHT: Skillen created this fly, a Chocolate Flash Midge Pupa #20, which is about onetenth the size of a dime. The fly is typical of what fishermen use on the San Juan and Animas rivers during midge hatches in the fall, winter and spring.

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Avid reader Lourdes Carrasco, a retired FLC literature professor, sits in the sunroom of her Durango home on Oct. 26 with her beloved Kindle.

Books are a lifelong love


ourdes Carrasco has been an avid reader ever since she can remember. “Reading is like eating – you have to do it to live. It’s my passion,” she said. “I remember reading biographies at ages 15 and 16. I loved reading about kings and queens. I was fascinated with historical fiction. It was not dry, and had a little spice.” Reading opened her eyes to history and geography, and awakened a desire to travel. She has been to Latin America and Europe numerous times. “Reading and learning about other cultures is responsible for my choice of career as literature professor,” she said. Carrasco is retired after 26 years as a professor of modern languages at Fort Lewis. She couldn’t imagine a better vocation. “How wonderful that they paid me to read and teach!” Carrasco grew up in Mexico City and taught at the University of Utah for two years before coming to Fort Lewis. She is married to Steve Harris and has a grown daughter in Michigan. She reads an average of five to six hours per day, sometimes late into the night. “On weekends, I just want to read all day and not do anything else.” She says she can’t imagine getting bored with reading. “There are so many benefits to reading. You can escape and go into other worlds and other lives. It’s continual growth. I learn a lot about and understand social issues, and it inspires me to act and commit myself to social issues here. I get involved with the depth of the characters and learn why people do what they do.” Carrasco hears from students, who tell her how she’s impacted their lives by instilling a love of reading. “It has been contagious. I read absolutely for enjoyment. Ultimately, it all comes to that.” She has been trying not to buy any more books. Last year she donated hundreds of books to El Centro at Fort Lewis. “It was really hard, but they had to go make somebody else happy. Now, I use the library and download books onto my Kindle. I love my Kindle. It’s like a library, and you have an archive. I have 215 books in this little compact unit,” she said. “I travel a lot, so it’s convenient; and I can buy a book in the blink of an eye.” Carrasco encourages everyone to explore other worlds through reading. She said the circumstances she reads about and the characters from different cultures have impacted her life tremendously. f

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for the

Holidays Have a spectacular ‘staycation’ with Durango’s special events

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LEFT: Buckley Park glows after the annual Sing with Santa & Tree Lighting in 2010. The event is a feel-good caroling parade down Main Avenue – usually with dogs and children wearing festive reindeer antlers or Santa hats. At the end of the parade, the crowd cheers wildly as the park’s giant pine is lit up for the first time. OPPOSITE PAGE: A shopper examines woven baskets at the Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair at the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Dec. 3, 2010. HAL LOTT/Herald photos


Nov. 23: Cascade Canyon Winter Train The train begins its winter schedule, turning around at Cascade Canyon. Visit www.durango for more information.

Nov. 26: Dec. 24: Holidazzle Holidazzle festivities kick off Nov. 26. More than 75 businesses in the Central Business District are offering gift drawings, with sign-ups being taken throughout the five-week promotional period that began Nov. 15. Call Pam at (970) 375-5067 for more information.

Nov. 25: Sing with Santa & Tree Lighting Celebrate the coming of Christmas by meeting at the train station, then carol your way to Buckley Park to view the community tree. For information, visit


shops while you enjoy refreshments, carolers and a visit from Santa. Call (970) 375-5000.

Dec. 4: Durango Choral Society’s “A Traditional Family Christmas” A Traditional Family Christmas, the annual holiday extravaganza features all three DCS choirs participating in a special celebration of our Southwestern heritage. Show starts at 3 p.m. at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. Visit or call (970) 247-7657 for more information. Dec. 24: Bar D Wranglers’ 29th Annual Christmas Eve Caroling The Wranglers invite you to join them at local restaurants and at the hospital. Call (970) 247-5753 for more information.

Dec. 2-4: Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair Find unique handmade gifts at this kick-off to the holidays. Friday 12 to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 25th Street and Main Avenue. Call (970) 247-2117 for more information.

Dec. 2: Noel Night Fulfill holiday wish lists in Durango’s unique

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 13

HOLIDAY EVENTS Nov. 23-Dec. 29:

The Polar Express The award-winning book comes to life on this magical journey. All passengers will enjoy the Polar Express story on the way to the North Pole. Hot chocolate and a treat are served by a personal chef, and guests sing Christmas carols on the return to Durango. All kids aboard the train receive a special gift from Santa. Visit www.durangotraincom for more information.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve

Torchlight Parade Polar Express actor George Celebrate the New Year with a Swift says it’s time to board torchlight parade down Purgatory the train in December 2010. Mountain, followed by fireworks in the base area. Event is subject to change. For details, visit www. or call (970) 247-9000.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Presidential Train Enjoy a festive evening excursion onboard a turn-of-the-century Presidential-class train. Entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. Visit or call (970) 247-2733 or toll free at (877) 872-4607 for details and reservations.

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f Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 15


“ fast horses, and he could ski” I had

Part Old West, part mountain chic, skijoring is a mirror of Durango. A veteran rider describes the thrill. By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


ombine Colorado cowboys and hotshot skiers with a whole lot of snow, and what do you get? The wild ‘n’ wooly sport of skijoring. Someone, somewhere in the past thought it would be fun to get pulled on skis by a rope attached to a galloping horse. Apparently, “waterskiing” at 30 miles an hour on snow wasn’t exciting enough. Modern equestrian skijoring races now include an obstacle course of jumps, gates and a kind of medieval jousting for rings. Skijoring comes from the Norwegian word skikjøring, which means “ski driving.” Tim McCarthy, a local skijoring rider, is driven to compete in the sport, year after year. He grew up in Durango and lives in Aztec with his wife and five children. He cuts firewood – his title is “wood merchant,” he said, laughing. His wife and daughters have all been involved in skijoring events. As a former bull rider, he admits he’s an adrenaline junkie, but he also enjoys the camaraderie of the sport. He says opponents will often help each other with gear, or lend a strong arm if needed. “Everybody is working together. It’s a sport where there are no enemies, and no one is mad if you have a faster skier or faster horse.” McCarthy first tried skijoring in the ’80s at Purgatory during Snowdown. “I met a guy named ‘Dirty Don’ Hinkley. Somehow or another we got hooked up at a bar,” he said. “I had fast horses, and he could ski.” He remembers that the first organizers thought they had “killer jumps,” but they were only two bales of hay high. Professional Rob Conaty, who toured events around the country, came to Durango and showed them how to build the real courses, with jumps that are 5 feet high.

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HAL LOTT/Herald photos

“It’s a sport where there are no enemies, and no one is mad if you have a faster skier or faster horse.” “Those guys are rockin’ over those jumps now,” said McCarthy. “If you’re on the end of that rope, you kind of catch up with your horse. When you come flying off that jump and land, I’ll tell you what: Air comes out of every hole.” Skijoring has been a Snowdown event for at least 25 years in Durango. Early in its history, it was held at the county fairgrounds when there used to be a horse track. McCarthy said a couple of the years there wasn’t enough snow, so the event was held at Purgatory and Vallecito. Last year, it was held for the second time in Silverton in late February. McCarthy said Silverton welcomed the races with open arms. The town shut down and held the event on a carefully groomed course on Blair Street. Many businesses and sponsors “went all out,” to support the event, McCarthy said. Silverton will host the event again this year, which is tentatively set for Feb. 18-19. Youth and locals are encouraged to participate, and they don’t have to go over jumps on the skier-friendly course. McCarthy also praised

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Rider Tim McCarthy on his horse Rolla pulls skier Dale Womack during the Silverton Skijoring Competition on Feb. 13. The team was sponsored by Horizon Environmental and Bent Elbow. Womack had just come off the 5-foot jump at right, and is seen carrying some of the rings that he “jousted” with a stick. Below: Jeff Dahl rides with a young spectator. community sponsors for keeping the event running, including local businesses in Silverton and Durango. McCarthy has always been the rider half of the skier-rider pair. He currently pulls pro downhill racer Dale Womack. When asked if he ever considered being the skier, McCarthy is straightforward: “I’d rather be duct-taped to an Amtrak. Look at what they’re doing!” Skiers carry a small stick and hang on to a tow rope similar to water skiing. Horses are trained to pull and accept the presence of ropes and a skier behind them, and to remain calm in racing conditions. The teams are timed through the course, and speeds can reach up to 30 miles per hour. Penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, or by missing or dropping any of the rings attached by magnets, which they try to capture with the sticks. McCarthy said skiers also have to learn to take the slack out of the rope similar to waterskiing. “You can find the fastest horse, but unless you’ve got a skier behind you who can handle that speed and the ropes, you’re in trouble,” he said. “In the early days, we learned a lot about that initial snap. The guy on the end of the rope sometimes takes a beating.” McCarthy has competed in events regionally. A big event is held in Leadville every year since 1949, and the skijoring national championships are held in Wyoming. He has never considered going pro, because there’s not enough money in it, he said. It’s “strictly a hobby.” “You get together with the guys and gals that do horse racing and skiing. You spend a weekend where everybody plays hard and rides hard, and then you come home,” said McCarthy. “It’s all about the fun. We go with a good attitude, ready to ride.” f Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 17



“What really motivates me is when I see my results are faster than my competitors’ times one or two age divisions below me.”

Photo courtesy of Diane Legner



ski racer


Diane Legner, 73, competes in Nordic ski competitions – just ‘for the fun of it’


LEFT: Fitness professional Chris Grotefend, left, watches the form of ski racer Diane Legner as she works out with suspension straps at the Durango Sports Club on Oct. 26. TOP LEFT: Skiers follow a trail at Vallecito Lake. Legner is a Nordic skiing instructor and the president of the Vallecito Nordic Club.

18 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

By Chris Grotefend

Special to Durango Living




iane Legner is a great representative of Durango’s bumper crop of outdoor aficionados. She has lived here for five years – relatively new to the Durango area – but she’s a longtime Colorado fun hog and Nordic ski racer since the ’70s. She’s a pediatric physical therapist, a Pilates instructor and a Nordic skiing instructor. She is also the president of Vallecito Nordic Club. Her former husband is responsible for getting her hooked on classic and skate skiing when they lived in the Winter Park/Frasier area. Her favorite place to ski is the Rendezvous Trail system in West Yellowstone, Montana. As she progressed in the sport, she started realizing her affinity for the long, marathon-type ski races. She has had some great results, both in national and world championship age division racing. Legner is funny. She has an “out here for the fun of it” style. She competed in America’s most prestigious race, spawned from Norway’s oldest race, the Birkebeiner in Wisconsin. She was just hanging out after the race when she happened to hear her name announced over the loudspeaker: She had won her age division. The same thing happened at the World Championships in Lake Placid. She had not expected to do so well and was very pleasantly surprised by her second place in age division Worlds. At 73, Legner is scrappy, too. “What really motivates me is when I see my results are faster than my competitors’ times one or two age divisions below me,” she said. Her most favorite moment on skis was while racing in West Yellowstone with a longtime best friend and fierce rival. They were neck and neck, battling it out as usual, when she heard a man say, “Let’s see who wants this the most.” Diane kicked into overdrive and beat her Norwegian rival for the first time in a 10K race. Consistent with her off-the-hip style, she has never been meticulous when it comes to her training. She spends a great deal of time outdoors, hiking and biking in summer because she loves it. She uses a lot of resourcefulness in her training methods. It is not uncommon to see her doing big step-ups on a fallen log, bounding up a hillside or carrying rocks just before the racing season. In recent years, she commented that her Pilates mat work has helped her maintain strength. She now uses the gym on a more regular basis. Diane teaches at the Durango Mountain Resort Nordic Center. She encourages people to get lessons and hone in on proper technique and efficiency. “It just helps with overall enjoyment of the sport,” she said. At 73, Diane says she’s just getting started enjoying competitive skiing and believes she will always naturally stay fit. “I just love to go outside and play,” she said. Diane said she still feels strong, but what she was lacking was the “snap” she remembered when she was (a little) younger. With a personal training plan, she discovered five classic/skate specific gym exercises using new modalities that are popular in the fitness industry. Diane lacked power. Power = Strength + Speed. Exercises with a staircase, sport cords, and a TRX (suspension straps) helped mimic ski/skate specific movements that worked on the stretch reflex, where power originates. Diane said the new training techniques helped her take her Pilates mat work and apply the proximal stability it creates to skiing. Diane lit up like a candle when she saw how closely these exercises could mimic exactly what she wanted to improve. Here’s a little prediction: We will be hearing more stories about surprise announcements about winning races on the loudspeaker.

Chris Grotefend is a fitness professional at the Durango Sports Club. He has been an instructor/trainer for more than 20 years, and he teaches all class formats, including SkiFit. f Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 19


Durango clinical herbalist AnnaMarija Helt measures herbs in her home office Oct. 26. “Herbs are cheap, and they’re accessible. You don’t have to have a fortune to be able to maintain your health,” she said. “I love the science behind it, the folklore, gathering and growing them. It will take you over. That’s one of the things that attracted me to this field: You learn until you die.” For more information, visit Helt’s website at

Stop, chop,

stew& brew By Karla Sluis

Herald Magazine Editor


ombies are still staggering around Durango a month after Halloween. These people aren’t undead: They’re doped up with Nyquil or Theraflu to treat this season’s nasty flu bug. Over-the-counter medicines dry up nasal passages and block a fever, but at what cost? When sick people should be home resting, they often medicate and force themselves to go to work in a fuzzy-headed haze. This spreads illness to others and may prolong the misery. Is there an alternative? Anna-Marija Helt says yes. She’s a clinical herbalist with a Ph.D. who offers private wellness consultations, classes and apprenticeships in Durango. Helt believes herbs can be used to prevent colds and flu, and ease many symptoms better than drugs. She held a free community workshop on winter health and herbs in early October at Zuke’s in Durango. The tickle of a sore throat or suddenly achy limbs are red flags that incite most people to take action against illness. Helt says this reflects Western medicine’s approach to “wait for the fire, then put it out.” Herbal remedies begin before the first sniffle. When winter’s chill sets in, it’s time to stop and chop, stew and brew. “Western medicine can save your butt,” she said. “Where we lack is on prevention. Americans spend a fortune on health care, and they’re still sick.” When loved ones or co-workers are hacking and sneezing all around you, that’s the time to mount an offensive attack – even if you feel fine. Helt’s arsenal begins in the kitchen. She says garlic is “phenomenal” as one of the most potent edibles. Raw or pickled garlic is antimicrobial against viruses and bacteria. Cooked

20 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

Durango herbalist recommends alternatives to cold & flu drugs HAL LOTT/Herald

garlic loses this property, but it still boosts the immune system. “Maybe with extra garlic no one wants to be around you, so you don’t pick up the viruses,” said Helt with a laugh. People who are sensitive to garlic can try mushrooms such as shiitake, which have a similar antiviral, immune-boosting effect. Other preventative herbs are echinacea, thyme, mallow, hollyhock, elderberry and osha. Helt says osha is over-harvested, so she doesn’t like to use it as much as other plants. Bears like to dig up osha in the spring and eat it, she said, speculating that they may instinctively know it will build their immune system after a winter of hibernation. Helt recently moved from coastal northern California, and has lived in Durango for nearly a year. The shift from moist, cool conditions to Durango’s four seasons has altered her approach to herbal treatments. “Here we have real seasons. In the winter, I might do more warming herbs to stimulate circulation and the immune system,” she said. “It’s also dry here, so the mucus membranes get dry. It’s easier to get inflammation because of the low humidity and dust, so moistening herbs help.” When a cold or flu virus hits full force despite the best preventative efforts, herbs may be a better choice than pills in a box. “A lot of medications can prolong an illness,” said Helt. Those annoying symptoms are working to boost the immune response. For example, decongestants help stop a runny nose, but they are very drying and can make a person susceptible to getting another cold, said Helt. Mucus is running for a reason: It helps things get flushed through and out and protects the layer of tissue underneath from microbes. Herbs that help decongest a clogged nose are: horseradish, peppermint, cloves and chamomile. Spicy

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foods like green chile also help ease congestion. (See Page 32 for Jess Kelley’s recipes, which feature this Southwest staple). With the flu, a fever serves a purpose: It rids the body of infection. Helt said if a fever is lowered with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acteaminophen, it weakens the immune system’s response. This may add days to the recovery process. Helt said a fever usually needs medication only if it gets high or lingers beyond a day or two. (Babies and small children need to be monitored carefully, because their fevers can rapidly spike to dangerous temperatures.) Catnip, lemon balm and yarrow are examples of common garden plants that can help cool a fever. Individual herbs or pre-made cold and flu formulas are available in many Durango stores, such as Hummingbird Herbals, Dancing Willow, Root & Branch, natural-food stores, and even in your back yard in the winter. Helt says the chemicals in pine needles are an effective expectorant. But a little education is in order before you begin chewing on the Christmas tree. “A lot of these herbs are really safe, although some have contraindications,” she said. “If you down a pack of Sudafed, you’re in trouble. But you can’t overdose on thyme.” She urges people to learn about herbs before taking a do-ityourself dose. She suggests taking a class or reading a book before experimenting with picking and eating herbs. Some plants are poisonous. As a practitioner, Helt said individuals don’t always respond to herbs in the same way, so if she is working with a client she will tailor a formula that works for them. Here’s a shocker: You should rest when you’re sick, which will increase the effectiveness of herbs. “Stop working. Don’t go running,” said Helt. “If you relax, it will give your immune system a chance to respond.” f Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 21




Made in Durango By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


hen the economy gets tough, the tough local artists keep going. The urge to create is not diminished, but it takes a bit more creativity to make a living through art. Durango Living honors the hard work of our town’s many talented crafters and artists on the following six pages. We chose items for three categories: ceramics, jewelry and textiles. Each individual item is under $100 for budget-minded shoppers who want to keep their holiday dollars circulating in the local economy. Some of the artists agreed to be photographed in order to show readers the person – and personality – behind the art. This is only a small sample of the variety of handmade objects that can be purchased in local shops and galleries in downtown Durango. Many business owners make a point to support Durango-area artists and start-up crafters who sell their work as a side business. “We’re lucky to have so many artists here. It’s exciting to showcase what they can do,” said Michael Thunder, who uses local ceramic pieces to serve tea at the White Dragon Good



Feelings Tea Room. The small space is at the back of There’s No Place Like Home, featuring textiles and jewelry from local artists, which he co-owns with Deborah Demme. For some of the people featured here, selling their work is their primary income. For others, a passionate hobby became a fun part-time job. Art and crafting is a family affair for a few of the artists. Check out the photo of Taeya Camp, 3, who happily agreed to model handmade hair clips and “Baby Legs” tights made by her mother, Megan Camp. Later, three generations of the Dyer family arrived in the studio together: Pam Dyer with daughter Kelsey Reeder and 3-month-old granddaughter Abigail Reeder. Pam helped Kelsey put on an ivory wool shawl she knitted as a wedding present, hand-spun from the wool of the family’s sheep. On the shawl, Kelsey displayed one of the delicate beaded pins she makes and sells at Yarn. Durango is a small town, and this was made evident when Jennifer Floyd was walking to the studio. She pointed in surprise at Katie Burford, the Herald’s assignment editor. “Hey, she’s wearing one of my headbands!” Local artist met local customer: Good feelings all around. f

Mark Jaramillo, owner of The World According to Mark, holds his “straw mug” ($33). His blue dinnerware set is shown on the facing page. ($99 for the set)

LEFT: a chip availa

22 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday


BELOW: Chyako Hashimoto holds her Zen Garden wall hanging ($80). More of her earth-toned work is shown below, middle image: Yunomi, Japanese teacups ($10 each); salad bowl ($15); and square plate ($10). In the bottom right corner is her decorative Heart Sutra Vase ($80). Her work can be purchased at the Holiday Durango Farmers Market on Dec. 10, or at YUNOMI Pottery Studio in 4B at the Smiley Building.

RIGHT: Jackson Blaisdell holds his large pitcher in turquoise, available at The Earthen Vessel ($52).

Photos by Hal Lott

LEFT: Kurt Glover’s hand-thrown pottery, including a chip-n-dip platter, cup, bowl and large jar, is available at Earthen Vessel Gallery for under $100.

f LEFT: Donna Rowe’s high-fire stoneware fish platter, decorated with slips and glazes, can be purchased at Earthen Vessel Gallery ($89).

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 23



LEFT: Emily Lloyd of VioletMae Design holds her reversible purse. Below is another one of her handmade designs ($42-55), which are available at There’s No Place Like Home and Spaaah Shop. RIGHT: Catherine Wagner wears a handknit boa ($65), for sale at There’s No Place Like Home. BELOW RIGHT: Felted bags made by Mary Walls of Pagosa Peak Fiberworks ($50-54) are for sale at Yarn.

f ABOVE RIGHT: Jennifer Floyd of Cartwheel Clothing models one of her reversible headbands ($8). She also makes reusable sandwich bags, above center ($10), and reversible belts, left ($35). Her work is available at Maria’s Bookshop, Sprout, Dancing Willow Herbs, April’s Garden and Durango Discovery Museum.

24 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

RIGHT: A line of stuffed animals ($30-35) by JoAnn Nevils of Colorado Comfort is made using vintage fabrics. At far right, Nevils wears her handmade Bindle Bag ($35). Kids Rock carries her products. BELOW: Taeya Camp, 3, models hair barrettes ($10 for set, also shown on opposite page) and striped “Baby Legs,” ($12), made by her mother, Megan Camp. The products can be found at Sprout.



ABOVE: Baby hats ($16-17) are made by Linda Rippon and can be found at Kids Rock. LEFT: Also at Kids Rock, “Mountain Mama” Diaper Cases are made by Kendall Rapp ($12.99).

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 25



BELOW: Nancy Juliana of Juliana Designs wears her multi-gemstone and leather necklace ($92) and sterling chandelier earrings ($88, close-up at right). She is the co-owner of Beads & Beyond. LEFT: Kelsey Reeder wears her red shawl pin ($15-18, with five additional styles shown below, center), which is available at Yarn.

RIGHT: Painted fabric beads made from recycled materials ($9 for beads, $3 for ribbon necklace) are made by Mary Walls of Pagosa Peak Fiberworks and are for sale at Yarn.

RIGHT: Kelly Baldwin models her sterling silver donut necklace and earrings ($44). ABOVE: Her amazonite and silver necklace ($60) and earrings ($48) are available at There’s No Place Like Home.

26 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

RIGHT: Megan Boyd models her antique brass and mother of pearl necklace ($37.95) and amethyst, pearl and crystal earrings ($17, close-up shown below). Her jewelry is available at Beads & Beyond.

f BELOW: Tracy Belt wears her sterling silver spiral earrings with a freshwater pearl ($60), which are available at There’s No Place Like Home.


Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 27

ANIMALS “There’s always something to learn about birds: different plumages, or you can study behavior. They are fascinating.” – Susan Allerton, longtime birder and Durango Bird Club member since 1988

Eagle eyes needed

Durango Bird Club members share camaraderie and curiosity

Sky Watchers By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


urango Bird Club members flock together for a simple reason: They love birds. They enjoy talking about them, watching them and – especially – identifying them. The group meets quarterly and holds monthly field trips. The annual membership fee is a mere $1. They met Oct. 28 at the Durango Wildlife Museum to discuss future outings and watch a bird slide show of a member’s trip to Florida and Texas. The room was filled with oohs and aahs as birders saw the unfamiliar species. Some slides inspired a bit of banter, and books were passed around in a goodnatured race to find birds’ names. “Sure, we debate a little bit,” said Riley Morris. “But it’s all fun. Birding together is social. It’s nice, because there are more resources when you go with a group rather than by yourself.” Birders share an intellectual curiosity and an appreciation of the wilderness, according to member Jane Pedersen. “It’s like fishing. You don’t know what you’re going to get. I like the surprise of it,” she said. “And it’s a different way to explore the outdoors.” DBC President Heather Morris said she

believes Durango is the oldest bird club in the state of Colorado. She says the group is not affiliated with Audubon, although they do participate in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. “This is not a political group. We’re doing it just for fun,” Heather said, noting that all levels of experience are welcome in the club. Some of the experienced members contribute to ongoing research projects, such as Pedersen, who works on a hummingbird monitoring project at Mesa Verde. Veteran birder Susan Allerton, who has been a DBC member since 1988, is working on the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas Project, a six-year effort to study and record habits of nesting birds in the region. The Durango area is a great place to begin birdwatching, and winter brings different species and plumage (feather coloring and pattern). Riley Morris said people may not be aware of the variety of species. For example, there are 15 types of ducks at Pastorius Reservoir, he said. Other common winter birds are: hawks, eagles, juncos, flickers, chickadees, pine siskins, scrub jays, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Some birders are competitive and fixated on “life lists,” marking off as many species as possible. Members say the DBC is more laid back. “I can see a chickadee 10 times a day and still be excited,” said Pedersen. f

28 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

The Durango Bird Club welcomes the public – especially those with sharp eyes – to be spotters of bird species during the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The goal of the event, which is Dec. 18, is to count as many different local species as possible in a given area in one day. The club is also planning a field trip to spot bald eagles on Jan. 14. Many eagles spend the winter along the Animas River. For more information, visit: http://groups.


Heather Morris, president of the Durango Bird Club, hold a taxidermied mallard duck next to Riley Morris at the club’s meeting at the Durango Wildlife Museum on Oct. 28. “We’d like to get younger members new to birding,” said Riley. “We’re not a high-intensity bird club. We keep the politics out of it.”

Winter birdfeeding

The cold season is a great time to put out seed, suet and heated birdbaths for birds, according to Janet Kenna, former owner of For the Birds. She sold her business to Kristi Streiffert on Oct. 27. “This was a way to combine my passion and interest into a business,” said Streiffert, who is planning a grand re-opening after Thanksgiving.


f Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 29



Helping pets at shelter gives volunteer

Warm Fuzzies By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor



Jessie Morgan walks a dog down Main Avenue during the 12 Dog Days of Christmas event in December 2010.

essie Morgan has a soft spot for animals. She has been a dedicated volunteer with the La Plata County Humane Society for about four years. Last year, she participated in the 12 Dog Days of Christmas, an event where older “Lonely Heart” dogs are sponsored by businesses and walked around town with the goal of getting adopted. Last year, Morgan walked a black mixed breed dog, Ping. “It was snowing and he had the jingle bells on him,” she said. “He loved the attention and getting out of the shelter.” There’s a feel-good end to Morgan’s effort last year. Ping, renamed Boomer, was adopted and found his “forever home,” according to Jonell Jones, public relations/web manager for LPHS.

30 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

“A lot of people will say they don’t like going into the shelter because it’s so heartbreaking,” said Jones. “This is a way to see the pets and see their personalities, and get some good exposure in the community.” Morgan also volunteers by fostering kittens. She estimates she has had 20 litters over about four years. Morgan says fostering is important because kittens need interaction with other pets and humans to be properly socialized. She says it’s hard to give kittens back to the shelter, but there are great rewards for her effort. “I have them for the best part of their lives. They’re so cute. They’re discovering life and curious. It’s fun, and they are joyful to watch,” said Morgan. “I do get attached, and it’s hard to let go; but you’ve done a service.” f


“(Fostering animals) is fun, and they are joyful to watch. I do get attached, and it’s hard to let go; but you’ve done a service.” Save money, help animals The La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store has a huge collection of holiday items, including gifts, decorations, stocking stuffers and cards. “It’s not official, but I like to say we’re Durango’s favorite bargain department store,” said Mary Thomas, senior assistant manager at LPHSTS. Thomas says it’s great to reuse and recycle holiday gifts and get a bargain while you help the animals next door. “We get nice things,” said Thomas. “I get all my Christmas gifts here, and I haven’t had a complaint yet.” LPHS Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sundays 12-4 p.m. The store is located north of Wal-Mart next to the shelter at 1111 South Camino del Rio.


HAL LOTT/Herald photos

ABOVE: Santa ho-hos at his lap full of Lab during Pet Photos with Santa in 2010. The event is a fundraiser for La Plata County Humane Society. This year it will be held in the afternoon on Dec. 3 at Creature Comforts and Healthy Hounds & Fat Cats; and on Dec. 10 at Pet Haus and Paws & Playtime. Photos cost $15. LEFT: Boomer was adopted and found his “forever home” in Durango during his walk for the 12 Dogs Days of Christmas event in 2010.

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 31



Cult classic of the Southwest adapts from freezer to plate

Chile, in everything


Green Chile & Shrimp Tortilla Soup Recipes by Jess Kelley

6 sprouted corn tortillas ¼ cup grapeseed oil ½ cup chopped onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 medium jalapeño seeded, veins removed, chopped 1 can green chiles, or a portion of your own 4 cups chicken broth, or homemade chicken stock 1 can fire-roasted, organic, diced tomatoes, undrained 1 can organic corn ½ teaspoon salt 1½ cups deveined shrimp

1 ripe avocado ½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese (or mild cheddar) Chopped fresh cilantro 1 lime, cut into wedges Put tortilla on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 200 F for 10-15 minutes to dry them out, then cut into ¼-inch wide strips. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet and fry the tortilla strips in the oil, until lightly browned and crisp. Remove the tortilla strips from the pan and let drain on a paper-towellined plate. Add the chopped onions into a soup pan


with a little oil, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped chiles and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the broth, tomatoes, corn and salt. Increase the heat to high, heat until the soup begins to boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until heated through. To serve, pit, peel, and cut the avocado into 1-inch pieces. Divide half of tortilla strips among 4 individual serving bowls; ladle in soup. Top with avocado and cheese; garnish with remaining tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

For more recipes, see Page 38 32 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

By Jess Kelley

Special to Durango Living


nevitably, one September afternoon a year my husband and I spend a few hours cleaning green chiles at my in-laws house outside of Madrid, New Mexico. The chiles are always pre-roasted, purchased from a roadside vendor, and come in big black trash bags. Wearing medical gloves, the still warm, slug-like peppers pulled from the slimy depths must have the waxy outer skin, seeds and stems removed. Then servings of them are divided into sandwichsized plastic bags, and stacked in the freezer until a recipe beckons their presence. Ever since marrying a New Mexican, I’ve become indoctrinated into the culinary cult of the green-chile obsessed. You’d think I would have resisted, since I’m originally from the spice-barren land of Maine. On the day my husband proposed, I was chopping some of these nightshade-family vegetables for an egg breakfast, and then made the mistake of putting in a contact lens (a story he fondly likes to retell). Over time, I learned the importance of washing my hands twice after handling chiles. I’ve also noticed that green chile is a splendid addition to just about everything: muffins, bread, soups, dips, casseroles, eggs, burgers, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, repeat. Durango has its own slew of green-chile cult members. Perhaps it’s our proximity to the spicy little devil’s New Mexican homeland (Hatch is a mere six-hour pilgrimage away). Or perhaps it’s a genuine addiction. The chile’s active component is capsaicin (pronounced “cap-say-uhson”), and a 1998 study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded that in the brain, capsaicin causes stimulation of catecholamines and release of endorphins. This neurological effect is similar to those caused by consumption of alcohol, or certain narcotics. But here is one instance where rehabilitation and support groups are not necessary: The health benefits of this spicy pepper abound. Clinical studies have shown that capsaicin is effective for the relief and prevention of cluster headaches, migraine headaches and sinus headaches. Researchers have also discovered that capsaicin not only has strong antiinflammatory effects, but that it may actually lead to a cure for certain intestinal diseases. Don’t stop there: Capsaicin has even been found to have an anti-proliferative effect on prostate cancer cells. With stats like this, a second serving isn’t such a bad idea. Diners in and around Durango won’t have a problem finding green chile on local menus. The Durango Diner makes a wildly popular green chile sauce, which can be immediately enjoyed on eggs or purchased in a jar and taken home for breakfast the next day. The Ore House offers their steaks served “Ranchero Style,” meaning topped with melted cheese and Hatch green chiles. And who can resist the Green ChileArtichoke Dip at Carver’s? But for those of us whose freezers are filled with elk meat and green chile winter after winter, it’s time to think outside of the Simply Simpatico recipe suggestions. It’s time to cook beyond the it’s-been-done-before pork and green chile stew. This winter, it’s time to renew your vows to green chile, and give the pepper some new avenues to stretch its spicy legs. Jess Kelley is a Master Nutrition Therapist in Durango. Visit her website at www.durango f

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 33



Marcy Miller, owner of Blue Sky Hydroponics, shows off vibrant parsley and rosemary plants growing indoors in her shop in Durango. The store, formerly called Big Tomato on north Main Avenue, is now located on Florida Road behind J.Bo’s Pizza & Rib Co.

Grow with the Flow

Produce food indoors in the dead of winter with water-based hydroponics By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


ere’s the straight dope: Hydroponics is not just for marijuana growers. “People are always thinking our store is just about growing pot, and I say ‘No!’ Come in and see the food you can grow,’” said Marcy Miller, owner of Blue Sky Hydroponics in Durango. Miller said she has been in shady stores in Denver where marijuana was the obvious focus, but her store is different. “It’s a place where Grandma could come in and ask questions. We want people to feel comfortable,” she said. Miller is passionate about producing food using hydroponics, an indoor water-circulation method that allows plants to be grown without soil. The water is carefully monitored for proper pH, and liquids are added for optimal growth. “With hydroponics, the plants don’t have to work so hard for nutrients,” said Miller. They can hang back in their easy chairs.” Miller said some people “don’t dig it.” They think it’s too chemical or complicated, and that’s OK – they’re better working

in the soil, she said. However, when produce is expensive and the local-food movement is strong, it’s hard to argue with homegrown strawberries and tomatoes in January. Flavor is another good motivator. Out-of-season crops often taste mushy and bland. Grown indoors, a hydroponic tomato can be harvested at the peak of ripeness, and according to Miller the taste is the same as summer sun-ripened. “Over the winter, it really makes sense to grow fresh vegetables,” said Miller. Outdoor vegetable gardeners face numerous challenges here, including a short and unpredictable growing season. Hydroponics is a way to grow your own food in an economical way. Miller formerly worked in landscape maintenance, and says she worked with high-end clients who would spend $3,000 to put in a tall fence (to ward off deer and other wildlife) and raised beds (to work around poor-quality or rocky soil). For the same amount of money, she said the clients could have used a basement space and grown food year round. Any vegetable except root crops can be grown with hydroponics. Fruiting crops

34 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday


such as tomatoes are more challenging and take longer to cultivate. Miller recommends that beginners try growing lettuce and other greens and herbs first because they’re easy and quickly ready for harvest. Hydroponic systems can be as big as an entire basement, or as small as a kitchen shelf; but you can still grow food in much less space than it would take growing outside in the soil, Miller said. A starter 1’x1’ square system that holds four to five lettuce plants or one tomato plant costs $60. An eight-plant system takes up a 3’x3’ space and costs $250. The units are “not testtube looking scenes,” said Miller. Most look like pots. She uses clay pellets in place of soil. Hydroponic plants do need monitoring and upkeep, but Miller says for her that’s part of the fun. “You can be Mother Nature,” she said. “I have to do some pollinating and keep it really clean, and keep the dogs away. But it’s pretty slick.” Miller said ripe strawberries on a snow day taste fantastic, and she enjoys the sustainability of producing her own food. “Plus, it’s just good for your soul to see something green in the middle of winter.” f

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 35



Time to


Homeowner highlights his labor-of-love property By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


fter all his time and effort, Guy Gervais has a good reason to bedeck his home with reindeer and white holiday lights. He’s proud of the finished product. He and his wife Kathryn live in a lovely brick building on East Third Avenue, which was built by Charles Peters, the manager of an electric plant, in 1895. Gervais agreed to the strict and exacting guidelines of preservation work because the house is part of a National Historic District. In 2004, the house was in need of attention. Gervais stepped up to the task. He painstakingly rebuilt the porch to historic

standards, using a jigsaw to carve all the fine details of the white “gingerbread” trim that frames the house and gives it a traditional Victorian look. Gervais did a considerable amount of historic research on the house. He even met with some of the people who remembered growing up in the house, and faithfully reproduced the porch from their memories and a photo from 1941. As many remodeling projects go – especially with Durango’s older homes – one challenge led to another. Gervais realized the brick arch over the front door needed to be rebuilt. “I did it myself, but I had to teach myself how to lay bricks,” he said. “It’s not easy.” The Gervaises faithfully put up holiday

36 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

lights every year, along with many homeowners along East Third Avenue pictured on these pages. Gervais said he misses the luminaria display that used to light up the median of the historic street. But he says the avenue is still beautiful when it’s lit up. On a crisp fall evening, with leaves still swirling around, Gervais was accommodating – even eager – to stop what he was doing and show a stranger off the street his home’s unique quirks. He waves aside praise for the time it must take to give the house that golden holiday glow. “It doesn’t take too long to put them up now. It’s down to a science, although we tweak it a little bit every year,” he said. “It’s worth the effort.” f


LEFT: Guy and Kathryn Gervais’ home on East Third Avenue twinkles on a December night in 2010, along with other homes in Durango pictured on these pages. East Third is a good place to start on a drive to see holiday light displays.


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Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 37

Green Chile Recipes Southwest Baked Eggs

1 red onion, diced 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil ½ teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon ground red chile powder 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic diced tomatoes with juice 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained well 1 small can sliced black olives 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles, or some from your own collection 6 organic eggs ½ cup grated Mexican cheese blend Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish Preheat oven to 450 F. Coat one large casserole dish with grapeseed oil. Rinse beans in a colander while you sauté onions with remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground cumin and chile powder and sauté 2-3 minutes more.Add tomatoes with juice, drained beans, half the can of drained olives, and diced green chiles to the pan with onions and let cook at very low simmer about 20 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly thickened. Spoon a small amount of the tomato-bean mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish (use about half the mixture.)

38 • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Durango Living/Holiday

Continued from Page 32

Carefully break the eggs on top of the tomato-bean mixture. Spoon the rest of the mixture around eggs. Bake the casserole about 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are starting to look set but are still fairly wet-looking. Remove dish and change oven to broil. Sprinkle cheese over the top and put dish back in close to the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Remove and garnish heavily with cilantro and remaining black olives. Serve with salsa and tortillas.

Green Chile Cornbread

1 package Bob’s Red Mill Cornbread mix 1½ cups milk (rice, almond, dairy) 1/3 cup melted butter 2 organic eggs 1 can organic creamed corn 1 can green chiles Follow the package instructions, and then add the creamed corn and green chiles. Add mixture to a wellcoated (use butter) 9x9 non-stick pan (or you can use a muffin tin). Bake at 375 F for approximately 20 minutes or until a knife can be pulled from the middle without debris.

Durango Living/Holiday • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • 39

What goes around…

…comes around to make our community stronger. Make a holiday gift to your community

Pennies can be powerful – especially in tough economic times. Our area non-profit organizations and charitable agencies have seen dramatic declines in their donations. This is where the La Plata Electric Round Up Foundation steps in to help. The Round Up Foundation is the non-profit arm of your electric cooperative, overseen by a volunteer board with community representatives from all LPEA districts. Round Up is funded when members opt to “roundup” their electric bills to the next higher dollar amount (an average of 50 ¢ per month).



R | 970.247.5786

It may not seem like a lot, but collectively all those pennies add up, allowing Round Up to then offer grants to our very wor thwhile community agencies suppor ting seniors, children, the homeless, the hungry and more.

Please sign up to add your pennies… It takes merely a few minutes to sign up and contribute to something big. Call LPEA today, 970.247.5786, visit and click on the Round Up icon, or complete the form below and return it to LPEA. ❑ I understand a little will help a lot, YES, please round up my monthly electric bill. ❑ I’d like to do a bit more, please round up my bill and add a monthly donation of $


Name: ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Electric ser vice address or LPEA Account Number : _________________________________________________________ Phone Number : ____________________________________________________________________________________ Email address: ______________________________________________________________________________________ Please return this form to LPEA with your monthly payment or mail separately to: LPEA, PO Box 2750, Durango, CO, 81302-2750. *Please note, your donations23,to2011 Round Up are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. 40 • Wednesday, November • Durango Living/Holiday

Durango Living Holiday Edition  

Durango's publication about life in town and around Southwest Colorado

Durango Living Holiday Edition  

Durango's publication about life in town and around Southwest Colorado