When I hear people say that they are lucky I don’t really believe it. I don’t believe in luck. Fortune yes, but not luck. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel particularly lucky but I do feel fortunate, especially when I assess the basics.

I breathed a lot of good air this year and had me some delicious water coming right out of the ground. I got outside and floated some rivers. I walked and explored the Crystal River Valley and the Fraser Valley. I spent countless days with my loved one and my dog. I laughed and played. Yes there was some wave riding and swimming with turtles.

Don’t get me wrong. All these fortunes came to me against a backdrop of sadness, challenge, hurt and hard work. Nothing worth having comes easy and my fortunes are no different.

I hear that focusing on the good stuff eventually trains the mind to enjoy that good stuff instead of missing out on it while it’s happening. So I’ve been doing some of that. I’m still a novice at noticing so I will not impart advice on mindful living. I’m fortunate to just keep on going.

I expanded my reach this year, getting way outside of my comfort zone by taking work at KFFR Community Radio in Fraser. I’m certainly grateful for that opportunity. Getting local voices on the air is what I’m into. I also have the opportunity to use my voice thanks to Mike Turner and the Winter Park Times.

Jumping into a new community headfirst is frightening at best and terrifying at worst. But I have been extremely fortunate. Almost all of the folks I’ve come across in my capacity as radio guy from Carbondale have been a real pleasure. People are super welcoming and appreciative. Whaaaat?! That’s why I’m still spending at least three days a week commuting to Fraser to play with my new friends at the radio station.

Don’t tell anyone about Fraser.

You wouldn’t know it but the Fraser Valley has more musicians than a high school band competition. You can’t take a left without bumping into someone who plays drums, guitar, bass, raps or all of the above and more. There’s even a world class, brand new, state of the art recording studio (Eagle Wind Sound) tucked in little old Winter Park.

My buddy Parks Thompson was the first person I met in Fraser. Everyone knows him and he knows most everybody. He is an insane rapper, extreme skier, barista, style mogul and unapologetic, dedicated marijuana spokesperson and enthusiast. He has no problem exercising his rights. His ghoulish video for his new song, “Zombie Baked,” shot in Fraser and available on YouTube, may crack you up and make you gag, too. I’m not too into guns but Parks and his sidekick “DJ Rye Bread” are as close as anyone in Fraser gets to being gangsta, so I guess I don’t mind some weaponry in the video.

I’ve made new friends from ages nine to 79 and I  appreciate you all for being so welcoming. Housing has been shared and when there was no house available I hunkered down in a secret aviary in the woods where I camped out. The mornings swarmed with birds and slanting sunshine. Now I get to stay in a place that welcomes my dog even more than me.

My tendrils advanced into Rangely this year where I became engaged as a recording engineer and artist at the Tank Center for Sonic Arts (Tanksounds.org). The Tank, a 1930’s era steel water tank with a potential to hold 1,170 tons of water, was moved (probably) from Loma and reassembled in Rangely around 1964 but was never used to hold or treat water. It turns out that the foundation under the Tank was not up to the job so it sat empty.

A chance encounter led recording engineer Bruce Odland to the Tank where he discovered its sonic potential. Now musicians go in there and try to make beautiful sounds in a dark chamber that echoes for 40 seconds. I’m loving the Tank.

I will gather with friends in Redstone, Colorado on Thanksgiving and raise a toast to my good fortune. I will toast my daughter in Seattle and my mother and brothers. I will toast to you, dear reader and wish you the very best and long life.

I will remember Katie Lee, my dad and others who have fallen under the cruel deadline of time. Damn!

This year I started a podcast (steveskinner.podbead.com) where I interviewed some interesting people including Katie Lee. I was very fortunate to call her my friend.

Next year I hope to rage in the Tank and drive KFFR like it’s stolen. Reach Steve at nigel@sopris.net.