Q & A with Colorado author Kent Haruf

A Colorado native, Kent Haruf is the award-winning author of five novels including “Plainsong,” published in 1999, which became a national bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Award and The New Yorker Book Award; it won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, The Midland Authors Award, The Salon.com Award and the Alex Award from the American Library Association.

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An Overview of Distilling

 By Tyler Grimes

For those who don’t know the distilling process, most of the local distilleries would likely be willing to give a basics 101 course. Here’s a brief overview of distilling and some of the differences between spirits, starting with single malt whiskey:

1. Malt barley is placed into a mash tun, and basically made into beer. Lenny Eckstein says whiskey starts as a “bulked-up porter.” The enzymes in the grain break down, the starch is converted to sugar, and the runoff is collected. Only a portion of the beer – “about 60 percent,” says Boathouse’s Jerry Mallett – goes on to become whiskey; what’s left over is beer and soaked barley. Many distillers keep the beer they make, but legally cannot sell it.

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The Trouble With Words

By Martha Quillen

Lassie is crying and agitated. “What’s wrong, girl? Are you trying to tell us that Timmy is in danger again?”

Forget Lassie and all that whining, barking and carrying on. Some fictional pets are far more erudite and even tell their own stories. There’s a new book out, Love Saves the Day, narrated by a cat, and a modern mystery series as told by Chet the dog. A dead dog addresses his owner in the poem The Revenant, and just a few years back, Enzo Ferrari, a canine philosopher, hit the bestseller lists with The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Last week a woman said to me, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if dogs really could talk?”

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Regional News

Drones over Central Colorado?

Residents of Central Colorado may be seeing more air traffic in the form of drones, the unmanned aircrafts used by the U.S. military for surveillance and weapons deployment.

In late February, officials from Lake and Chaffee County met with John Huguley, a representative of a state group which wants to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration to allow Colorado to test drones in commercial U.S. airspace.

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Inner Old Man

By John Mattingly

Someone told me the other day that I needed to get in touch with my inner child.


I neither have – nor have I ever had – any interest in being a child, especially when I was one. At every age, I wanted to get older: old enough to walk, go outside, run, ride a bike, drive a car – not to mention drink a beer, serve my country, date a girl, get married, start a job, and eventually be old enough to know better.

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Places: Swinging Rock

Swinging Rock has been a tourist attraction in Chaffee County for years. The random geological occurrence seems to defy the laws of nature and provides a great view as well.

Just outside the former ghost town of Turret, a short and slightly strenuous hike will get you to the rock; and if you happen to have a burro in tow, you might even be able to reproduce the iconic postcard image show here.

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State House Update

by Christopher Kolomitz

69th General Assembly

A Democratic-led Colorado House and Senate have tackled a handful of hotbed social issues during a furious first three months of the 69th General Assembly.

Limits on the size of ammunition clips, gun background checks for all, approval of civil unions for same-sex couples, and granting in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students have all been approved by lawmakers. The session ends May 8.

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News from the San Luis Valley

By Patty LaTaille

Political Upset in Center

The voters of Center recalled the mayor and two town trustees in a special election on March 19, while one trustee retains his position after the recall election over efforts to improve the town water system.

Mayor Susan Banning was recalled by a 253-218 vote, and trustees John Faron and Maurice “Mo” Jones were recalled by 252-206 and 243-209 votes, respectively, as noted by Center Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian R. Samora on Wednesday. Trustee Julio Paez, was retained by 10 votes, 235-225.

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Getting out

By Hal Walter
When I use the excuse that I don’t “get out enough,” what I really mean is I don’t get out of Custer County enough.

Over time this actually becomes a problem. Driving skills deteriorate. Social skills vanish. Anxiety around people and crowds increases. I think a lot of it stems from working alone most of the time and not having enough social interaction.

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Slim Wolfe

I can remember when printing a photo was less common than it is today. Newspaper columns, ads, flyers and business cards hardly ever showed a smilin’ face, and readers had to form whatever thoughts they might according to printed words. What a hardship! I haven’t seen a doctor’s or dentist’s diploma on the wall lately, but I guess they feature prominent faceshots where they used to list the school and the degree. So I’m putting the world on notice: if anyone thinks I rate an obituary when I croak, be kind enough to use a photo of my gnarly hands, not my face. It’s my hands which have done whatever might be worth remembering.

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The New Spirits of the West

By Tyler Grimes

Colorado has been known as a beer-brewing mecca for years, and recently that trend has shifted to micro distilleries. In early 2011 the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had issued 18 distilling permits in Colorado. In November, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida received the 38th permit in the state. The distillery on 1st Street opened its doors to the public on March 2, becoming the second distillery in the valley. Deerhammer opened in Buena Vista in February 2012, and two more distilleries hope to open this spring: Two Guns in Leadville, and Boathouse Distillery in Salida. The boom in craft-beverage making has certainly made its way to the Upper Arkansas River Valley.

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Bill Forrest: Inventor, Climbing Legend – 1939-2012

By Patty LaTaille

When I was asked to write a story about Bill Forrest, I hesitated briefly. Having met Bill during an interview assigned by The Mountain Gazette, I spent a number of fascinating hours listening to his stories and poking around his workshop filled with all sorts of innovative climbing devices and snowshoe models. He introduced me to his wife Rosa, and so began a friendship of shared meals, chance meetings and a memorable snowshoe adventure at Beaver Creek, in which Bill in his ever gracious manner shoveled out my Subaru not once, but twice from neighboring snow banks.

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An Avian Symphony

By Tina Mitchell

It’s spring morning, and I’m out with the dogs shortly after sunrise, heading to the low ridge to the east. It’s a peaceful time for us humans and canines. But once I shift my awareness, I can hear the air crackling with communications. “DEE-DEE-DEE.” (Mountain Chickadee) “CheeriLEE-cheerio cheeriLEE-cheerio.” (American Robin) A repeated dry hiccup-like sound. (Gray Flycatcher) “Zeedle-zeedle-ZEE-chay.” (Black-throated Gray Warbler) “Chup-chup-ZEEEEE (Spotted Towhee) Male songbirds of all species sing as if their lives depend on it. And, in a way, they do.

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