Sunday, January 27, 2013

No Winter Whining: Off to the Races

Winter Colors

Early in the week, we went for a late day drive. Hubby wanted to show me a field where the afternoon before he had seen full of Canada Geese. He had heard the geese fly over, so he followed them to see where they bed down for the night. He came home nearly breathless after seeing thousands upon thousands of geese. As they migrate south, Norther Colorado is the destination location. Of course the next night the geese had chosen another field elsewhere to bed down.  Headed home we drove into the sunset. I had hoped for a clearer shot of the silhouette of the freight train. None the less, a beautiful sun set.

And certainly we have no reason to whine when we can spend the day hanging out with these two handsome lads. Jacob participated in the Boy Scouts' Pinewood Derby. He and his dad built the pine car. Jacob took 3rd place in the Webelo division and will race again in the district competition. Little brother Nathan wanted to race his school bus, but there wasn't a division for buses.

An impressive collection of hand crafted pine cars that could weigh no more than 5 ounces. I loved the car with the Angry Birds green pig.

Here is the tract. It really is high tech because it times the cars and calculates each car's speed in terms of real cars. Jacob's was clocked at 203 mph. Wow. Way to go, Jacob.

Each car raced four times. I can't tell in this photo which car is Jacob's. He will have to tell me which one his is.

This is NOT a good sign--watering in January. If there is to be any winter whining allowed, surely Colorado gardeners and farmers should be allowed. No snow this winter means no water this summer. Denver is considering going to Stage 2 Drought which means water restrictions. Here, our town may call for water restrictions, too. Fortunately we have access to well water. Today hubby watered the new hydrangeas that we planted last summer and the other small bushes that were new last summer. While we have had 0 temps, the ground is not frozen just very dry.

I am linking up with Heather at  Life is A Garden. Join on the fun next Sunday to find the color in winter, the joy in the season.

Can you believe that we are entering the 3rd week of the semester? I have my research classes looking for research topics on the Signs of the Time. I explained to them what events defined my college days: the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, Viet Name War, bell bottomed pants, Sonny and Cher. I asked them to think about how their college times will be defined. I am curious to see what they come up with. The advanced writing class themed Issues in Education is half English majors. Love that. They will explore problems in education. And the Intro to Lit: Cinderella. I love my job. I will have Mondays off this semester, or rather Monday will be my day to stay home and grade. I like not having to get up on Monday morning.

Thank you all so much for you kind thoughts on my mother in law's post.

Have great week.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Our family's last grandma passed away last night. Actually she has been freed from endless, shapeless days that she spent in her nursing home. She is free now to wander Heaven's gardens, and I am sure that she will be looking over our shoulders come spring as we begin to plant our garden.

Violet, my husband's mom, was 82. She had spent the greater portion of her life on the farm first owned by her parents and then she and her husband took over the 80 acres where they farmed and milked cows until the early 1980s when they decided to sell the farm land and eventually went their separate ways.

Violet had had small part time jobs. She wrapped Christmas packages during the holidays at the local western wear store, The Stockman, in Greeley, and she worked in a small sandwich shop later. When she found herself alone and needing to support herself, she went to work at MacDonald's as the hostess keeping the dinning area clean. Violet was a hard worker, a perfectionist, and took pride in keeping her Mac's Lounge clean. She made friends easily, was cheerful and pleasant, and made the customers feel appreciated. She also did volunteer work at the Goodwill so that she could qualify for food commodities. She lived with us while she worked at Mac Donald's trying to get on her feet, trying to find her place as a woman alone. She came home one day from her shift at MacDonald's and posed a question: Should she quit MacDonald's and go to work at Goodwill where she would make less per hour, but she would have benefits? We liked the idea of benefits. Thus began her eleven years working at Goodwill where she made friends, served customers, and kept the shelves neatly stocked.

As an only child and then a wife, she had never been on her own. Now with a good job, she was able to rent her own apartment, buy her own car, and have a good life.

She loved to garden, so she kept her little garden on her second floor apartment balcony. She grew gorgeous geraniums and beautiful petunias and healthy cherry tomatoes.

To make extra money, Violet sewed and took her goods to craft shows. She would spend hours upon hours hunched over her sewing machine stitching aprons and children's cloth books, both of which were printed on fabric and sold on the bolt. But her pride was her kitchen hand towels that she cut in half and sewed tops to the half towel so that the towel could be snapped to a drawer handle. Over the 20 some odd years, she made thousands of items and traveled to hundreds of craft shows.

Violet was stubborn for sure, but that quality made her strong and helped her endure the hard times in her life. She was always there for her friends ready to help them out.  But the last two and a half years were really just a long, slow decline for her. While her body remained fairly strong for so long, her mind just faded away. It was just very sad to watch her wither away, but even in the nursing home she made people laugh.

The oldest of her ten great grandchildren will have good memories of their great grandma Violet. They were lucky to have a great grandma for so many years. My grandma died when I was 12, and I have missed her all of my life. I never knew my other grandma and met my great grandma Riggle when I was about 4. But these grandchildren will have many memories to cherish.

Despite the sadness that we feel, we do understand life's passages. We can now rest easy knowing that Violet is not alone anymore, not living in an odd place among strangers. She spent her thoughts lost in probably the best years of her life, her teen years. She would tell us that as soon as she got her driver's license she could leave that place she called school.  She would complain that her clothes were too old. It took us awhile to realize that she didn't recognize her own outfits because they were clothes for an old woman, not clothes for her, not for a teen-ager.

Tonight, dear Violet rests.

Thank you for letting me honor Violet here in our virtual garden.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Winter Whining

Jen over at Muddy Boot Dreams has linked up with Heather at Life is Like a Garden and These are My Colors looking for winter color  and posting No Winter Whining on Sundays. They have invited the rest of us to look for the color in our winter scapes. I do believe that our Canadian friends have more snow that we do, at least here on the northern plains of Colorado. While we don't have much snow and the weather has been rather warm and mild, there still really isn't much color in the garden with the snow mostly melted. Instead we see brown. A lot of brown. Take a look.

Most of snow has melted and the weather has been mild as the afternoon sun today warms the garden beds.We have been talking about what we will plant and have signed up for a class at the Ft. Collins Nursery on "How to Raise Killer  Tomatoes." Hard to realize that it is still January.

Do you recognize these brown beauties? Asparagus. The plants planted late in the summer did so well. I have high hopes of a few tasty sprigs in the spring.

Here's a spot of color. The girls begged to be let out, so we let them wander the garden for a bit. They must be guarded because there is a red tailed hawk that lurks about. They do love roaming free to peck and scratch and take dust baths. Happy hens lay tasty eggs.

The golden boy, Sundance looking radiant in the winter sun.

He enjoys a bit of of a dust bath, too.

Midwinter we have colored eggs. Easter eggs year round. Tasty Eggs.

What sort of color are you finding in your garden? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Okay guys. I am sitting here watching the news and about the only thing the news has to talk about is the playoff game between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens tomorrow at Denver. Now I am not a die-hard football fan--games make nice background noise for reading, grading, and naps--, but just for fun I guess I will go orange as is the rest of Colorado until Broncomania ends either with a loss during the playoffs or a Superbowl win. In the dead of winter, what else is going on?

It is bitterly cold and it snowed a bit today. There is a bit of a breeze that could easily create blizzard conditions. I spent most of the afternoon playing with my camera. Hubby is in Denver for the evening, so I will retreat to the craft room in the basement and play some more.

I go back to work Tuesday. This semester I will be teaching Tuesday and Thursday and tutoring in the Writing Center Wednesday and Friday. I will have two college research classes, one Introduction to Literature, and an advanced comp class. I feel good about leaving the house to back to work. It was cleaned Wednesday, including the ledge on the wall that separates the living room from the kitchen--we call it the Cat Walk since Mo Cat occasionally finds his way up there to have a walk about. The garage got a bit of a cleaning to make room for a new freezer, and the refrigerator got cleaned out and scrubbed. The laundry is caught up. I am getting bored.

I am enjoying your posts. Everyone is in the mood for spring, posting great pictures of beautiful flower dreams. Elaine over at Ramblings at Rosebank worried about blogger's block then wrote a beautiful post about hyacinths, telling the Greek myth about how the flower got its name.  Go check out her post, especially if you haven't meet her yet.

Well, folks, this is all I got at the moment. Thank you for indulging my team spirit.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year

I celebrated my birthday over the Christmas holiday. I try to not to make such a big deal over my birthday. I don’t need presents, though I do enjoy pretty cards. Just a Happy Birthday wish from dear friends and family is sufficient. This year’s birthday was a sweet one.

On my birthday I had an appointment downtown to get my nails done. After the manicure, I stopped at my favorite little shop Blooms and Heirlooms to wish the proprietress, Ann, Merry Christmas. The bell above the door gave a little jingle to announce my arrival as I said, “I just stopped in to wish you a “Merry Christmas." I could see Ann was behind a line of hanging vintage dresses near the florist cooler. She stepped out from behind the clothing with a beautiful bouquet of flowers laughing. “I have something for you.” Laughing more, she added, “I was just getting ready to deliver these to you.” “For me? Who would ever send me flowers?”  We had quite laugh over my well-timed stop allowing me pick up my own special delivery.

My dear daughter Heather in Denver had planned for a week to have birthday flowers delivered to me at the door because she was sure that I had never had flowers sent to the door, (She was correct). Dad had instructions not to let me leave the house. Of course I spoiled the surprise when I dropped in to the little florist shop to say “Merry Christmas.” I carried my own flowers home and called Heather to thank her. She was most disappointed that I had not been surprised at my front door. But as I told her, this makes a much better story.

And I was also crowned a queen Christmas Eve. The youngest daughter Jennifer is the crafty one. She made crowns for her little girls for Christmas, finding the pattern on Pinterest. Mine is special. She used the lace that I purchased in the antique store in Haworth, England (home of the Bronte Sisters). On my last trip to England, I knew that a little baby was its way, so I was looking for English lace for a christening gown. This lace is actually crocheted edging salvaged from a set of pillowcases. I found it in basket of sundry laces and brought it home with the purpose of adorning the christening gown Jen would make for her first baby. I gave the last little bit to Jen to make crowns for the girls, but there wasn’t enough for two, so I received my own crown, designating me queen.

My daughters are sweet young women and I love them. Thank-you, girls.

Now that Christmas is neatly packed away and the house has been returned to its daily functionality, there is little to do. I am on break until January 15 when I return to the university. One bright spot in the month is the parade of gardening catalogs. The first, Dutch Gardens, has already arrived. The wish list has begun: I want one of each.

Josephine would be beautiful climbing on the blackberry arbor that we built last fall. 

Helen Sever also caught my eye. We have a very nice collection of daylilies that we purchased from Oaks Daylilies when we lived at the old house and moved them all to the Garden Spot. It is hard to resist adding more, especially pink ones. I could order this entire page of pinks.

Actually this year my strategy will be to shop early at the local nurseries before the inventories are exhausted to get the must haves that I seem to miss every year. Top of my list is a bleeding heart. I had a beautiful one at the old house. Should have dug it up because the new owners dug it out. Killed it.

As for projects, the front circle is a priority this year. It is a large area and left to itself, it grows so unruly and wild. The self-seeding pernials such as the rhudekia have left their corner at the front, seeding haphazardly where ever they wish. Worse, however, are the weeds. I just couldn't keep up with them last summer. So I will start early this spring by laying down a nice treatment of Preen, a premergent for annual weed seeds. That will be a start.

We have had various plans for this space, but we have come to realize that the plan has to be simple, not work intensive, and one that will control the weeds. The worst offenders are thistle, and not just one variety, and bind weed. Both are nearly impossible to get rid of and require multiple treatments of Round-up. The space has to be treated early, too, before the noxious weeds form blooms which rapidly form seed heads.

We have high hopes for 2013 unless we suffer from one of these fears: Triskaidekaphobia or Trideckaphobia. Do you suffer form either one of  these phobias? Do you fear the number 13? Let’s hope not; otherwise 2013 could be a long one.

As for me I will embrace 2013 because 13 is my number. My social security number ends in 13. My husband and I met on Friday the 13th. Our marriage certificate ends in 13. My wedding rings have 13 stones (by coincidence), our second daughter was due on Dec. 13. My current driver's license expires this year.

So I shall embrace 2013

It was quite fun to see everyone’s beautiful Christmas displays, decorations, and to read about everyone’s Christmas celebrations. Now we can get back to gardening and sharing our garden plans, hopes and dreams. January is pretty blah. I call it the month of crummy snow. We had snow Christmas Eve which is still on the ground. It has been so cold that the snow has not melted only become hard and crusty, dirty, and icy with little moisture content. So let the seed catalogs roll in, while we keep each other company by filling our posts with beauty and inspiration as we wait for the dark days of winter to pass.

Just Blog It.

Happy New Year,  Friends

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