Thursday, May 31, 2007

Family Tradition


Milo and I headed down the driveway shortly after 7 this morning.  The air was cool and crisp but at least it wasn't snowing.  As we neared the fork I noticed 2 hot air balloons in the sky below.  Yes, this is one of the places you can look down to see something flying in the air.  Milo has informed me that the bears are out and about.  He is running with his nose to the ground, stopping and sniffing more than usual.  Bob passed us in the school bus and the kids all waved. 

 On the return trip, just out in front of fire station #1, we met the mayor, Chris.  He was telling me a story that I would never repeat in a public forum when he abruptly stopped and announced that Lori was driving up behind me.  "Watch, she'll flip me off" said Chris.  I turned around just in time to see her lower her hand with a big smile on her face.  As she drove by, it looked like she was hiding a little chuckle.  "She does that to me every time she sees me on the road" Chris said.  "Her dad did that before he died, just a friendly salute between friends I guess.  Lori doesn't mean anything bad by the gesture.  She's just carrying on a family tradition".  With that we parted.

The annual Flap Jack Fling will be held this Sunday at Fire Station #2.  We'll start serving around 10.  The price went up a dollar this year.  Even with the price increase, it's a bargain.  That will give folks a chance to catch early church services and then join us.

Be safe and watch out for the bears.



Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lake Norman


4th hole, par 3 Lake Norman Country Club

Milo, Malcom and I took our daily morning walk on this cool, crisp spring day.  It snowed last evening.  I wasn't very happy about seeing the white stuff but I do live at 7,000 feet above sea level.  Janice and I had tickets to see Celtic Woman at Red Rocks Amphitheater last night.  It was raining when we left.  It was still raining when we arrived just in time for them to close the gates, keeping anyone for driving into the parking lot.  The show has been postponed until June 28th or a 2nd added show on June 29th.

Milo was a little miffed at me last week.  I left him again for a trip to North Carolina.  I was invited to spend my birthday with my best friend, Chris.  Our birthdays are close (His is today 5/24) and we try to celebrate them together.  We had a great time together.  I was lucky enough to meet a fellow j-lander.  Sharon, from Golf and Other Stuff, drove up from South Carolina and spend a day with Chris, his wife and myself.  We all loaded onto Chris's boat and spent the day on Lake Norman.  Sharon is a lot of fun to be around and kept us laughing. (even though she thinks I am 10-47).  The day ended  way to soon.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

All in a day!


I tried to squeeze in all of my obligations yesterday and seemed to accomplish everything I wanted to do.  I woke up in the Marriott hotel in Kansas City at 2:30 in the morning.  Arriving at the airport at 4:30 gave me plenty of time to catch my flight to Denver.  I arrived in Denver just before 7AM and by 9:30 my lovely wife and I were enjoying breakfast.  We then went shopping for a new dress for her.  She wanted to look beautiful for the afternoon wedding...I'll get to that in a moment.

I left our house just after noon.  At 2:00 our Boy Scout troop began our Eagle Scout ceremony.  One of our Scouts, David T. was presented with his Eagle Scout award.  He worked very hard to accomplish this and I am very proud of him.  For the leaders, there is very little recognition for the time and effort involved.  the recognition comes when a young man walks forward to receive his award.  We all hold our chests out a little farther.  The ceremony was over at 3:30 and I left to join Janice at the wedding.

Boulder is situated at a unique place on the North American continent.  The Great Plains meet the majestic Rocky Mountains in our front yard.  The snow capped mountains give birth to many small streams that grow into rivers.  These small streams run down canyons and then flow out onto the plains, merging to become the mighty Mississippi River.  A few people are lucky enough to build their homes on the banks of these streams.  The native cottonwood trees line the streams and often frame an absolutely beautiful view of the foothills and mountains in the distance.

Yesterday, our fire chief Steve, and his beautiful bride, Wanda, exchanged their wedding vows on the bank South Boulder Creek, the stream that emerges from Eldorado Canyon.  It was a warm spring afternoon with scattered white clouds above the mountains.  The huge lawn was partially covered with a large white canopy tent.  There was a portable dance floor in the middle of the covered area.  Dining tables were set all around the dance floor with the buffet and bar at one end.  A beautiful flower garden of poppies, hyacinths, and other spring flowers surrounded the lawn.  Over 150 people attended.  Many of us ate and danced until the music stopped around 7PM.  As the guests left, a small group of our Sunshine neighbors gathered on the deck above the creek.  We continued to enjoy several bottles of wine and conversation as we watched the sun set.  Tired but still enjoying the evening, we left for home around 9:30.  Photos

May I wish "Happy Mothers Day" to all the mothers out there in j-land.  A special wish to my own, wherever you are.  I know the good Lord is taking good care of you and my father.   I love you and miss you very much. 

Smiles to all,


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sunshine Garden Club


Our Sunshine neighbor, Dr. Tracy (PhD) and I found ourselves on the topic of mountain gardening last summer.  Just after she and her husband, Tim, moved into their new home, I had offered her a Columbine (Aquilegia ) for her garden as a house warming gift.  That gift has sparked many a great conversation.  Tracy is originally from Virginia and is use to having plants galore.  I have 5 years of horticulture training;  I taught a class in home landscaping and authored a publication on gardening in the high altitudes of Wyoming.  Between us, we could talk for hours.

Sunshine has a very short growing season. Our last frost is usually around the 1st of June and the 1st frost is around the middle of September. We are in the USDA hardiness zone 3.  Besides having a very short growing season, we have other things that make gardening in Sunshine a challenge.  Critters!  The deer, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits love our flowers and vegetables.  These challenges have brought the mountain gardeners together. Tracy thought it would be a good idea for all of us frustrated gardeners to join together and form a garden club.  We are still in the talking stage and I'm sure it won't be long until we are organized. 

Gardening tip from our friend Deb  Do you know that if you sprinkle blood meal around the plants the deer won't eat it

My youngest son, Michael, has asked me to write a book about gardening and home landscaping for him.  He wants something he will be able to pass on the his children. 

 Before I take on that task, I wanted to put together a few thoughts for our mountain gardener friends in Sunshine.  If you are outside the Sunshine area, please remember that these thoughts and ideas are designed for our particular area.  It may seem strange to most flat landers that we do not plant our annuals until late May or early June.  Gosh, we had 3" of snow on the 24th of April this year.

Gardening tip:  I like to watch the weather forecast in the spring.  I have found the perfect time to put down fertilizer is just before a spring snow storm hits.  When the snow melts, it gently soaks the fertilizer into the ground.  I have always liked to add 20-10-5 (NPK) to the soil in our climate.  NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.  In this case the fertilizer would be 20% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% Potassium.  The nitrogen promotes shoot growth, the phosphorus promotes root growth and the potassium helps keep the plant healthy.

I have spent the last two months dreaming and drooling as I pondered over seed catalogs.  I have drawn out plans on how I want to lay out my vegetables.  I have made a list of the annuals I would like to see growing in my few flower beds.   I can tell when the ground is no longer frozen by watching the rhubarb (genus Rheum).  This subterranean prelude always gives me hope that the snow will soon be ending and spring is near.  When the little red nubs start showing, the ground is no longer frozen and it's time to start preparing the soil.

Our soil is basic in nature.  I like to add peat moss.  Even though it is generally very damp in the spring, July and August can be very dry. The peat moss, although lacking in nutrients, helps the growth of the plant by holding the much needed moisture.  For nutrients, I pay a visit to my girlfriend,Chili.  If you live in Sunshine or have followed my journal, you know Chili is my neighbor Holly's horse.  Years and years of mucking out the corral have left a rather large pile of aged horse manure.  Although not as good as cow manure, it is an excellent source of nutrients.  My BIL Mike, does not use it in his vegetables, fearing any nasty germs it might carry.  I found the flower beds love it!

Pruning, why do we do it?  There are three basic reasons we prune:

1) To cleanout dead, dying, diseased and broken wood.

2) To eliminate over crowding.

3) To thin out, shape and train the plants growth pattern.


 The broad leaf trees and shrubs have not yet leafed out.  Now is the perfect time to prune all but the flowering trees and shrubs.  The flowering trees and shrubs get pruned while they are still dormant.

To fully understand the process of pruning, I must first jump into a little botany.  I promise to keep it simple.  There is no need to cover the botanical term for Red algae in this forum.  (In case you are wondering, it is Rhodophycophyta.)

The stem growth takes place at the apical meristem.  This is is located at the buds and the nodes.  The nodes do not usually become active unless the bud is destroyed.  In the diagram above, if you want the branch to grow up, you would prune just above the node on the lateral stem pointing up.  In this case, the stem would continue to grow, causing the new branch to grow in an upwardly direction.


This is an example of a 3 year growth pattern showing the proper place to prune a small, flowering tree.

If I waited to purchase my favorite annuals at the proper time to put them into the ground, I wouldn't haven't many choices left.  The folks in Boulder can plant a full two weeks before I can.  The early shoppers pretty well pick over the choice plants before I am ready to plant.  I have built a cold frame.  This allows me to purchase the plants and keep the healthy until it is time to plant them. A heat tape keeps the plants warm on those early spring nights when the temperature drops below freezing.  During the day, I open the top doors, allowing the plants to acclimate to the outdoor temperatures. 

Tulips and St. Francis in my Sunshine garden.