When Iris Eyes Aren’t Smiling….

…..and no, that isn’t a typo in the title. I didn’t mean Irish; I meant iris. You know, those lovely spring flowers that are trying so hard to bloom (given that it’s nearly the end of May) but it’s just too darn chilly. So if they had eyes, they wouldn’t be smiling, and that’s for sure…..

Yesterday’s temperature reached a mere 40 degrees. I think today’s high temperature isn’t going to be a lot better. Most of yesterday, the precipitation was in the form of rain, at least in the Denver area. The reality, however, was that it looked like rain that really, really wanted to be snow when it grew up. And by 8 o’clock last night, it was fulfilling its dreams. Big flakes of snow were falling on the ground. And this is our back yard this morning. You can see the little ptach where the petunias are huddling beneath the snow…..

I finally broke down and covered up the two garden plants that don’t like freezing temperatures that I had optimistically planted anyway: my jalapeno plant and my basil. My perception of basil plants is that they are like cranky old women who don’t want it too hot and don’t want it too cold. You know, persnickety, like me. I was smart enough to only plant two out of my three tomato plants, and the two that I planted are in a pot that I have pulled up next to the house, where they are huddling together against the nearly-freezing temperatures and the falling snow.

I was wondering how unusual this weather is this late in May, so I did some research. I learned that while it’s not necessarily typical, it isn’t all that unusual. May is the wettest month of the year on the front range, with an average of 2.12 inches of precipitation in the form of either rain or snow. The snowiest May was in 1898, when there was a record 15.5 inches of the white stuff and climate change wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eyes.

Apparently the cold temps are also not even close to record breaking; the coldest temperature in recorded history for May was 19 degrees, and it reached that temperature twice — once in 1907 and again in 2013. It makes 40 sound almost tropical.

What this weather does to me is make me want to huddle with a blanket over me and watch movies about horses. Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and War Horse. If you are ready to call the authorities to haul me away to the funny farm, I will assure you that while I WANTED to watch all three of those movies, I only watched War Horse. Not that I wouldn’t have watched the other two had they been available to me and I didn’t have a few other things to do.

Things like eat Indian food, because what sounds better on a chilly May day than warm and spicy tikka masala and naan, followed by delicious hot chai latte? I was even able to talk Bill into joining me. He munched on his tandoori chicken, probably pretending that it was a Five Guys burger.

I have no doubt that springtime in the Rockies will finally arrive for good, probably sometime in early June. Stay tune for my complaining about thunder and lightning and tornadoes at that time!

Putting the Swiss in the Chard

Yesterday after church, I went to yet another garden center in search of Swiss chard. You know, Swiss chard, that colorful leafy plant with tender leaves that are delicious to eat, if you are one to eat greens. I am a first-class greens eater.

The thing is, I have gone to four or five different greenhouses, and there was not a Swiss chard plant to be found, or any other green for that matter. I was afraid I was going to have to make do with the one chard plant that I planted last year, which came up again this year. I guess greens tend to do that.

But this time I was met with success. In fact, there was every kind of lettuce you could imagine, kale varieties galore, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach. While I intended to only buy one plant (after all, Bill doesn’t eat his spinach or any other green), but chard is so  beautiful that I bought two. I will enjoy the leaves all summer long and into the fall. The more you cut, the more you get…..
Colorado is looking at much cooler temperatures this next week. In fact, one woman I encountered while at the garden center sadly said, “I don’t know why all these people are here. It’s supposed to snow on Tuesday.”

I hadn’t heard, but that didn’t stop me from planting my chard. It did, however, stop me from planting the tomato I picked up the other day, bringing my total tomato plant count to three.

I love to go to garden stores this time of year. The people wandering around the stores have the look of addicts awaiting their fix. I’m certain that I’m not the only one who goes to the store for a single jalapeno pepper plant and leaves $200 later with everything ranging from zucchini to lilies. The only thing that saved me yesterday was the fact that there were so many cars at the garden store that I had to park in the street a block-and-a-half away. That didn’t deter me from getting two plants instead of one.

Saturday I took Cole and Mylee to see the Detective Pikachu movie. As an aside, I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the two of them in their Pikachu outfits. They were adorable. As a consolation prize, here is a photo of Detective Pikachu himself…..

Anyway, following the movie, we went back to our house, where Bill was busily working in the yard. He suggested that perhaps I needed to plant the $80 worth of petunias I purchase a week ago.

I brought out my little spade, and both Mylee and Cole were on it like flies on flypaper. Mylee, in particular, planted petunias like her life depended on it…..

Not only that, but when we finished our planting, she took her spade and began working on weeds. She outperformed the yard man I overpaid to do the same thing. Next year I will hire her at a much more affordable rate, even considering the cost of all the Oreos she can eat.

Saturday Smile: Channeling Kramer

There is an episode of the television classic Seinfeld in which Kramer begins working at a company. He isn’t hired. He simply starts coming into the office every day, attending meetings, hanging out in the lunchroom. It’s a very long time before anyone figures out that he wasn’t ever actually hired…..

Heather told us a funny story this week about our 6-year-old grandson Micah…..

Micah and his brother Joseph attend a day camp all summer long. It’s a wonderful camp with all sorts of activities. It is, in fact, the camp that their mother Lauren attended as a child. Horseback riding is one of the activities that can be chosen. Heather and Lauren elected not to sign Micah up for horseback riding last summer.

The thing is, he kept coming home talking about horses. Heather said they merely assumed that all of the kids had some sort of contact with the horses. At the end-of-summer party, one of the camp counselors began telling Heather and Lauren just how wonderfully Micah rode, and how excited the camp was that they had signed him up for horseback riding.

Well, the thing is, Heather told them, we didn’t sign him up for horseback riding.

It turns out that Micah — in Kramer-like fashion — had simply started going to the horseback riding activities, and the camp counselors all assumed he was signed up.

As they drove home that night, Micah told Heather, “Mom, don’t sign me up for horseback riding next summer. I didn’t like it that much.”

That boy will always make me laugh.

Have a great weekend.






Friday Book Whimsy: Cemetery Road

You can count on a few things when you pick up a Greg Isles novel. It’s going to be lengthy. It’s going to be violent and include a lot of pretty, well, imaginative sex. It’s going to take place in the south, probably Mississippi, in the most corrupt town imaginable. And you aren’t going to be able to put it down.

Cemetery Road, the author Greg Isles’ latest offering, fits the bill perfectly.

Marshall McEwan left his hometown in Mississippi after college, with no plans to return. He becomes a well-respected Washington D.C. journalist. Unfortunately, his father becomes ill. McEwan comes home to try and save the newspaper his father published for years.

It takes no time before he starts up an affair with his old girlfriend, a gorgeous woman named Jet, who happens to be married to a childhood friend who saved his life in Afghanistan. It also takes no time before he becomes immersed in the corruption of a group of men called the Bienville Poker Club. These men have gotten into bed with a group of Chinese businessmen who have invested in a huge project that could be held up by the murder of one of McEwan’s closest friends, an archeologist who has discovered historical evidence of Indian tribes in the very land that is to be developed.

Chaos, corruption, murder, and general mayhem ensue, leaving in its wake a town nearly destroyed by its very existence.

Isles is one of the best mystery writers around, which is why I’m willing to read books that I would otherwise put down without a second thought. I finished the lengthy book in a day-and-a-half!

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughtless
Last Thursday, my sister Jen commented on my blog post. I really liked today’s post, she said. But I missed Thursday Thoughts. That made me laugh to myself, because I had completely forgotten that it was Thursday. In fact, since we got back to Denver (two weeks ago tomorrow), I have barely had a minute to think at all. My days run into each other. I have scarcely cooked a meal. I haven’t even picked up a cloth to wipe down my dusty furniture. Maybe next week will be the time when I will finally feel like things are settling down. Of course the down side is that I will have no excuse for not dusting my furniture.

Springtime in the Rockies
I made my way to my favorite garden center on Tuesday to find still largely empty shelves following the Mothers’ Day gardening extravaganza. Nevertheless, I still was able to figure out how to spend a couple of hundred George Washingtons on garden plants. Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the afternoon putting a few of them in the ground. Today is the day that I plan on making sure that the flowers are in place and the garden vegetable plants are properly in the ground. I’m hoping to have a few extra hands — grandchild hands — to help me…..

I got this photo yesterday afternoon from my daughter-in-law, in which she explained that Mylee had taken the day off of school because of sniffles. Apparently, however, she controlled the sniffles long enough to enjoy a dessert about the size of her. And judging from the smile, weeeelllll, I’m a touch suspicious…….

I don’t know whether she was able to eat the entire thing, but I do suspect she enjoyed a day off alone with Mommy.

Birthday Blessings
Today is actually Maggie Faith’s 11th birthday. We celebrated last night, however, in pure French fashion, thanks to Allen and Emma. Not many girls get raclette for their 11th birthday celebration, and bake their own birthday cake!…..

Thinking Back

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from one of my very good friends. Attached to the email was a letter that a mutual friend had sent to her to forward to me, as she didn’t have my email address. The date of the letter was January 28, 1978.

Apparently, in packing for a move, this friend came across a variety of letters and photos and other mementos that she had saved for, well, at least 40 years. For the record, I am lucky to find a single lock of my son’s baby hair. I take after my mother in that I rarely save memorabilia. Often to my chagrin, I’m afraid.

The particular letter was two pages of fairly small, and remarkably neat, handwriting. My handwriting. Again, for the record, I complain about addressing envelopes containing Easter cards for my grandkids. It KILLS me to sign my name to a check. And yet, I wrote a two-page letter to my girlfriends, something I think I did very often back in those days.

This particular letter was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, as I said, it was written in the neatest cursive handwriting possible. If this letter was placed in a time capsule and opened in 2035, whoever opened the envelope would without hesitation say, “This letter was written by a girl who attended Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade in the 1950s,1960s, and 1970s.”

Except for one thing. Let’s see, in 1978, I had just graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.S. in journalism. And yet. AND YET, I insisted on not capitalizing anything but the first word of every sentence. Names were not capitalized. Proper nouns were not capitalized. I was apparently channeling e.e. cummings. But even while channeling the famous poet, I was unable to not capitalize the first word of each sentence. It was like I could feel Sr. Calista’s looming wooden ruler.

The second interesting thing about the letter was that it was written in part as a thank you note following my marriage to my first husband. A marriage that, if you asked me today, I would tell you there really wasn’t a single happy minute. #bigfatlie, because according to this letter, my husband and I were living a life of complete contentment. Quite honestly, I think I was telling the truth. I think the reality is that we actually did have some happy years. Well, maybe happy months.

It was a fascinating study in sociology to read this letter from so long ago. As I read, I kept trying to remember this young woman of only 25 years old, who, at that point had lived most of her life in Nebraska. She seemed someone totally foreign to me, what with her excitement over the casserole dishes (with baskets!) that these two friends had given her and the shower massage head that she and her new husband had bought with their wedding money. It is just kicks, this strange woman wrote to her friends.

But here’s the thing that struck me the most: this letter — written 40 years ago — still exists. I could still hold it in my hand. While it was difficult to recognize myself, it was solid proof of my life back in 1978. I don’t think emails or texts or tweets or Instagram posts will ever meet our needs in the same way.

And imagine that these women are still friends even today…..

It’s a Pronghorn Deer, Stupid

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
Where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day. – Dr. Brewster M. Higley

One of my major takeaways from our visit to Antelope Canyon was that songwriter Dr. Higley didn’t know an antelope from his Siamese cat. And neither did the white people who named Antelope Canyon. In fact, the young Navaho woman who guided Bill and me (along with 12 or 14 Japanese tourists) through the amazingly beautiful slot canyon could scarcely keep from rolling her eyes as she explained that antelopes are indigenous to Africa and parts of Asia ONLY. Not the United States. What the white folks who named the canyon saw, she explained with a sparkle in her eyes, were pronghorn deer.

I’d like to argue that they might just have thought that Pronghorn Deer Canyon didn’t have the same ring, but I’m pretty sure she is right. They were just boobs.

Antelope Canyon is located very near Page, AZ, located smack dab in the Navaho nation that makes up much of northeast AZ. The Navaho people call it Tsé bighánílíní, which means ‘the place where water runs through rocks’.

Antelope Canyon has long been on Bill’s bucket list, and for good reason. So we decided to make our way back to Denver via the famous canyon as opposed to our usual route.

Antelope Canyon is called a slot canyon because the canyon is made up of sandstone that has been eroded over the course of a very long time, creating very narrow passageways. In fact, the canyon continues to erode, ever-changing when the rains come. It never stays exactly the same. Because of the nature of the canyon and its particular geology, tourists are not allowed to wander through the canyon on their own. That privilege ended a number of years ago when an unexpected rainfall sent water roaring through the slot, killing a number of people. Now, tours are provided by the Navaho nation, upon whose land the canyon lies. And believe me, based on our experience, the tours are interesting and much better than going it alone.

I was surprised early on when our guide told us that we could touch the walls as much as we wanted, but (obviously) we couldn’t write on the wall. It didn’t take me long to realize that the reason we could put our hands on the wall was that the walls change all the time — every time it rains.

Our guide not only told us of the history of the canyon, but used our individual cameras to take spectacular photos that most of us would have bombed…..

There are numerous tours available, all offered by Navaho-owned companies. When Bill made the reservations, he sort of closed his eyes and picked one. It happened to be one that seemingly was geared towards visiting Japanese tourists, of which there were many. It worked fine for us, however, because they had their own interpreters, a good thing because our tour guide likely was no more able to speak Japanese than I.

The tours of Antelope Canyon are available year-round, as long as it isn’t the rainy season. The colors of the rocks and the light that filters through the scant openings changes based on time of day and time of year. The land is sacred to the Navaho tribe, which isn’t surprising at all.

Antelope Canyon is nature at its finest and God’s handiwork at its best…..