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"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."
– Stephen Hawking  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 1 January 2020  

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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  Sacred trees, art & hummingbirds
  By Bill Radford

   For Mark Bissell, it's the place he has always called home.
   
   For Angela Bissell, its like being on vacation every day.
   
   For visitors, it's a relaxing, rustic family getaway.
   
   Mark Bissell’s parents bought the property in Black Forest in 1951; the old log cabin is still at the heart of the now-expanded house. Except for going to college in Boulder, where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree, and spending about 10 years teaching in the San Luis Valley, "I've spent my whole life here," Bissell said of the family ranch.
   
   His dad, Leonard, an artist, had his own advertising agency. His mother, Emily, was instrumental in forming School District 20, where Bissell was the director for facilities and planning before retiring a few years ago; he also taught art in D 20 schools for a decade. Throughout his teaching career in D 20 and elsewhere, he coached basketball, baseball, football and hockey.
   
   Over the decades, he has seen many changes in the Forest.
   
   In the old days, Bissell said, "It was a real community." Life centered on school, church and the community center, and it was so far out in the sticks that other people stayed away, he said. "You'd basically wave to anyone on the road because they knew who you were and you knew who they were."
   
   Development, of course, has come to the forest; many of the kids Bissell knew grew up on ranches that have since been cut up into developments. But he understands why people want to come to the Forest. And he understands that things change.
   
   "Do I like it? Not really, but you accept it."
   
   He has a barrier of sorts against that wave of change. Much of his land is protected under a conservation easement through the Palmer Land Trust, which limits any future development. So, when he passes the land on to his heirs, "It keeps them from chopping it up,” Bissell said. Not that his two sons have expressed a desire to do so, but it removes the temptation, he said. And anyone can be tempted "by a lot of money,” he added.
   
   How much land does the family have? "I like to tell people, I have a quarter section, and let them figure it out,” Bissell said.
   
   He met Texas-born Angela several years ago at a conference of business professionals; they're practically still in the newlywed phase, having married just two years ago.
   
   Was it love at first sight?
   
   "For me it was, but it took her a while to come around," Bissell said.
   
   But Angela Bissell said she quickly found him intriguing. "After our first kind of date, he was such a gentleman. That was something I had always wanted in my life was a real, true gentleman. He ended up being my knight in shining armor,” she said.
   
   Angela relishes the tranquility of life in the Forest. "I had a friend who said I love coming to your place because it's like being on vacation. And it totally is."
   
   And, for some people who visit, it really is like being on vacation. The Bissells operate the Hummingbird Cottage, a two-bedroom guesthouse next to their home, as a short-term rental. They've only been doing so for a year, but the cottage has been occupied 80 to 90 percent of the time, Mark said –- and they have earned stellar reviews on Airbnb.com.
   
   "What a beautiful space, and everything I could have needed was there," according to one review. "I loved sitting on the deck with my coffee and seeing deer and hummingbirds right in front of me."
   
   For Angela, it's a bit like having a life-sized dollhouse with the chance to redecorate depending on the season. They've made the cottage cozy, but added some modern conveniences while also reflecting the family history, she said.
   
   "And I'm very particular," she said, "I won't let anyone else clean it. I'm just so picky, and it has to be absolutely perfect."
   
   Guests who wander the grounds will come across a pond, abundant wildlife and some unusual trees. The property is home to many trees believed to be culturally modified prayer trees; the oddly angled branches are the result not of nature, but of labor by Ute Indians. The area near the pond was likely a winter encampment for Ute Indians, the Bissells have been told.
   
   Guests also might stumble across an artist at work. Mark is a potter, and his studio is near the Hummingbird Cottage.
   
   For Mark, making pottery is a form of relaxation. "I like the tactile feeling, working with my hands." He sells his pottery only one time a year, at the annual Art in the Park in Loveland in August. He used to hold sales out of the house, “But it’s too much of a hassle,” Mark said.
   
   His dad was a skilled sculptor and painter. "He could do anything," Mark said. But Mark said he has always focused on pottery. "My dad had modeling clay. I'd always take his modeling clay and work with it."
   
   His grandfather was an artist of a different sort; he was in the performing arts and was "big in vaudeville,” Mark said. That artistic spirit — “it's in my DNA.”
  
Angela Bissell said living in Black Forest is like being on vacation every day.
 
Mark Bissell is a potter and has a studio on the property and a kiln outside the studio. Photos by Bill Radford
 
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  Chew-Chew truck buys Descar’s
  By Leslie Sheley

   Deanna Johnson, the owner of the award-winning Black Forest Chew-Chew Gastrotruck, has purchased Descar’s Roadside Bar & Grill; and is planning to reopen the restaurant as the Black Forest Bistro in January 2020.
   
   Johnson and her all-female crew won the Food Network’s People’s Choice award for Food Truck of the Year, three years in a row: 2017, 2018, 2019.
   
   Johnson bought the property in Black Forest because she didn’t want to be in a strip mall; plus, she added that the building has history and character — and it’s in Black Forest, where she lives.
   
   The Black Forest Bistro will be open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, and Johnson is planning a Sunday brunch, which she hopes will be a draw for the churchgoers. The bistro will offer the same menu as the Chew-Chew food truck for the most part.“Part of the menu will stay the same and just like with the truck, part of the menu will change from week to week,” Johnson said. “It keeps people wondering what we will have that week; and for me, it’s fun to plan.”
   
   Johnson said she eventually plans to offer 13 local craft beers on tap, plus wine and cocktails. She said she has already talked to a few local breweries that will help them create their own unique bistro beer.
   
   The ambiance will appeal to families and single people — and it will be a good place for date night, Johnson said. The double-sided fireplace will keep it cozy in the winter and the patio will host musicians during the summer. In the future, she said they will host special events. She also wants to display artwork from local artists.
   
   People have already called to make reservations, Johnson said. However, she said she hasn’t made plans for the opening festivities.
   
   She said they will use local suppliers when possible and already she has a local “pickle person.”
   
   The Chew-Chew Gastrotruck will be parked at the bistro for a few months after they open, while they settle in to the new restaurant. They will be back on the road late spring or early summer.
   
   “We’re going to be bringing award-winning food to the Forest, with the crew everybody loves and some new faces as well; and we’re so excited,” she said.
  
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  AARP Black Forest
  Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 meetings

   President Roy Rozak would like to invite anyone who is interested in participating in community projects and enjoying camaraderie among friends to attend a meeting or join the Black Forest AARP chapter. Call Ray at 719-495-6767 for the details.   
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  No fee senior social
  There is no senior social in December

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no-fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
            
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.” Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
  
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The Black Forest Women’s Club meets every second Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. The group will meet again in January.   
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  Black Forest Christmas tree lighting

   The annual Black Forest Community Center Christmas tree lighting/potluck/entertainment event is Sunday, Dec. 8, at 5:45 p.m. at the Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Road.
   
   The evening will start around the Christmas tree in the northeast corner of the Log School Park at 5:45 p.m. with the tree lighting and a couple of Christmas songs. The past Keepers of the Forest are encouraged to attend. The potluck will start at 6 p.m. in the center. (Bring a favorite dish to share.)
   
   The Black Forest Players will be performing a one-act play “Amahl and the Night visitors.” This was originally written as an opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti. It's the story about the three kings' journey to Bethlehem, following the star, and how they stopped fpr the night at a poor widow and her crippled son's house. It's the story about a miracle that takes place during their visit. If you want to know more about the story, come and see! 
   
   The evening’s entertainment will also include a harmony group called Fusion from Pine Creek. Remember this fantastic chorale group directed by Dan Jepson from years past?  There will also be a community Christmas sing-a-long, including, of course, the Twelve Days of Christmas!
   
   Contact Carolyn Brown 719-495-3127 for more information.
  
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  The Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild fall show
  Photos by Cara Lord-Geiser

   
Wendy Thompson, a member of the guild since 2013, straightens books at one of the numerous vendor booths at the guild’s 55th annual fall show and sale at the end of October.Trish Boatner, second year guild member, greeted visitors and helped guests sign in and also provided boxes for shipping.Jewelry, children’s clothing, seasonal decor and baked goods were just some of the items available for purchase at the Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild fall show.

   
  
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