I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Spring Challenge

I have a friend who lives in the Carolinas, in an honest to goodness antebellum house.  I have never visited, but would love to see what she and her hubby have done.  We knew them back when we were all in the Air Farce, stationed in the UK. They were the consummate antique hunters. They had some amazingly beautiful furniture. We still have the piece they found for us.  It is a coffer….like a giant foot locker on legs, that they used to store clothes in.  It is carved on top and all around the sides and is made of Bog Oak, so is very dark.  If I remember correctly, it is about 300 years old.  It sits under the main window in our house and I have put a piece of glass on top and all my plants are on it.  I love that piece.  It has a lot of memories.

Anyway, She also has a blog and she is doing a Spring Challenge.  You can read her post and see her pictures here, but this is what she says:
The Challenge
Everyplace has it’s own unique sign that Spring has finally arrived.
I will show you three pictures for examples.
I want you to post a picture, a paragraph, or even a poem, describing your idea of the ultimate sign of spring on your own blog. Then leave a comment on this post with a link to yours.

So that is what I am going to do.  Keep in mind that the three pictures I am going to post were all taken on the same day.

These fall off our Silver Maple every spring.  I think they protect the leaf buds.

These fall off our Silver Maple every spring. I think they protect the leaf buds.

This was taken in the morning.

Is it starting to snow?

Is it starting to snow?

This was taken a couple of hours later.

Yes, yes it is.

Yes, yes it is.

This was taken around 2 in the afternoon.

These are the two signs at my house that Spring has arrived. Those bud protectors falling off the Silver maple and snow.

I love living in the Rockies……:)



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Sleeping in the Rain

Today I was rummaging through my under stairs closet looking for an old tarp to use so I could finally sleep outside in my hammock and I came across something else.  My very first tent that I bought all by myself.  It was a Sierra Designs Starlight and I loved that tent.  It started my mild obsession with tents.  It was a single-person tent, it was coffin-shaped and bright yellow and blue and easy to set up.  It had mesh screening on the roof so that you could look up and see the stars. It also had a matching yellow rain fly.  Those were the days before “low impact colors” were popular…..:)

When I worked for the YCC (Youth Conservation Corp) one summer in the 70’s, I had a long commute to work, so I bought the tent.  There was a campground near one of the areas we were working on, so I pitched my tent and me and my Alaskan Malamute stayed there for two weeks at a time.  I was a vegetarian at that time, so bought a wild food identification book and added to my diet what wild things I could find.  Once, I found one brown thing called a Pinesap that wouldn’t kill you if you ate it, so plucked it and threw it onto my soup.  I learned that just because something can be eaten, doesn’t mean it tastes good.  That was the exception to the rule tho, and I happily added Morel mushrooms to my supermarket basics.  Another time I invited my crew over for dinner and had spaghetti.  A dubious look came into their eyes as I expounded on what was in the spaghetti.  No one died – but no one ever came back for dinner.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take my dog with me to work.  Her name was Talia and being an intelligent animal, she got bored.  I had to tie her up when I was away and it must have been agonizing to be outdoors and not able to investigate all the wonderful smells.  One day, I came back from work and found that she had destroyed my beloved tent. Huge holes in the bottom and the rain fly was half ripped off.  I couldn’t sleep in it, so had to go home and take the long commute to work the rest of the week. That weekend I bought some blue ripstop nylon and began to sew. I was able to fix the rainfly with no problem, then I ran out of nylon.  Being from a camping family, we had plenty of it lying around, but most of it was scraps.  There was black, red, grey, green, white and blue.  So I did the rest of the repairs with those scraps…..and a lot of seam sealer.  My tent now looked like a patchwork quilt. I didn’t care, it was waterproof.  While I was sewing, I decided to add some extra touches.  I made little bags to go on the inside of the tent and I added a design to the door of the rainfly.

comet door

comet door

Artfully initialed bag. My initials were CED.

Artfully initialed bag. My initials were CED.

repaired floor

repaired floor

Anyway, the tent lasted for several more adventurous years.  Then I joined the Air Force and got married to a non-hiking man who is a wonderful cook.  I still managed to collect tents tho.  We did primitive car camping instead and I learned that “primitive” is a relative word….especially in relationship to cars.

Anyway. Obviously not finding a square or rectangular tarp that would work for a hammock, I bought a vinyl rainfly for 7 bucks at Sportsman’s Warehouse along with 50 feet of paracord.  I am now ready to sleep in the rain tonight.



Sleeping with the Animals

So now that we have thwarted the skunks, I find we have raccoons as well…..  Still signs of digging, just not as much damage and not every night. Raccoons can climb. Fences are useless. Grow a garden with good organic methods and you find out what kinds of wildlife thrive in urban environs. Do ‘possums live in Colorado? At least I haven’t had to weed hardly at all this year…

I went out and bought a cool outdoorsy thing last week.  It is a camping hammock, so no wooden spreader bars that make the hammock unstable.  It is made from rip-stop nylon and the design is only a couple thousand years old…  I hung it between the maple tree and the outside deck post.  It is very comfortable.  It sways in the breeze. I can lie on my side and my back, but not my stomach. You don’t lie in the exact center, you lie crossways or diagonal, so you are more flat. Here is a better explanation. I would like to sleep in it.  It has been raining every night since i got it. I haven’t slept in it yet.  Perhaps the other reason I haven’t slept in it has been the garden raiders.  The hammock is further away from the house and quite low to the ground.  I don’t really fancy waking up to find a baby skunk or raccoon curled up with me. However.

Last night I was sleeping on the back deck and wake up this morning (it was raining) to find that the  2 container plants had been dug up/gnawed on.  The lovely Jade plant is no more. My Basil has been shortened a good deal.  Anyway, the point is that while I was sawing logs, the critters were right next to me…like a foot away and they had to practically walk on me to get to the plants. They didn’t wake me up and they didn’t bother me either.  So, with that in mind, I only have the rain to worry about.

I shouldn’t be worrying about the animals anyway.  We camped a lot when I was a kid. Growing up on a Ranger Station in the Cascades meant we camped most of the summer and into the fall.  Two week hikes were not uncommon.  Sometimes we stayed at lookouts or guard stations or with trail crews, but mostly we were alone. Just our family of 5 wending our way through the mountains. I loved it.  I love the hollow sound the ground makes when you are up high. The pink alpenglow in the early morning. The sound of snowmelt and the rushing green silt water.

I never remember being threatened by animals.  We saw cougar and deer, beaver and marmot, and of course all the birds, but we only heard stories about bear, we never saw them.  In fact, the animals I remember best are mice.  We encountered them at one of the guard stations. It was a floating station on Ross Lake, next to the dam.  I remember those little buggers running around on top of our sleeping bags. All night long.  It got real tiresome. Kinda funny….out in the wilderness we were never bothered, but in a man-made structure we were overrun with mice. My mom made sure we never stayed there again.

In an interesting side note, one of the kids I grew up with turned those floating guard stations into a floating resort. I’m trying to convince my hubby we should go there some time.  i think it will be fun and I know we won’t have to worry about mice this time.

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poetry and body images

A few years ago i wrote a rap-poem.  I have a friend who is a comedienne and she supplied the opening line which is, “If I wanted to make mountains out of molehills…..I would have had the surgery by now.”  Her name is Sara B. Sirius and she will be here all week…..

The poem is as follows.

Dear Ms. Fashion Fairy,

I quit. I’m not trying or buying into your arbitrary codes and modes of thinking.  Unblinking, I will look at myself, not put myself on your perfectionist shelves.  Let me explain myself, my plain jane face and body….. my straight-ness.  Ya see, I  am the kind of woman a man looks at….in the face.  No saving graces bounce and trounce the male mind and eye.  My forays into the departmental elements end up in a send up of the “Wish it were true” body fashion image.  My bra’s bear names like “Barely There” and “Featherweight.”  …..Obviously, I am still in training, been maintaining that budding figure for 40 years.

See, I like to hike and poet in wild tribal attire. Dragons and slogans are more my style.  Pink?….. sinks my spirit and all those feminine curves miss the corner on my straight frame. But try and tell that to an industry whose industry is busy portraying false body images. Don’t you know that all a woman has to show are flat abs and thin thighs, that dancing on a narrow fashion plate is du’rigour for the vigorous well thought out woman?

Their fickle fashions trashes the honest shape and their solution is to push you into a padded push-up bra. Wearing those well-rounded perfectionist things means I trip and skip over my own body, bumping boobs like I’m a stranger to myself.  Padding through narrow aisles, past racks of underwire torture devices–– I decide to buy duct tape.  The last time I attempted such under-attire, the wires broke and poked in unusual places.  An art gallery!  There I was making Picasso faces among still lifes with vases trying to save my ribcage from serious damage.

So, let me break it down for you Ms. Fashion Fairy –—— go screw yourself –

I refuse to be fused into what an image-obsessed business is trying to forge on mass-market masses.  I don’t need or seek approval from what some dumbed-down, over-sexed fashion factory tries to tell me what to wear.  I swear we don’t need ten-year-old girls getting in a swirl of jeans that says “Juicy” on their behinds, all the while crying about rising child molestation statistics.  We should be going ballistic on this, not implicitly buying into this lie.

So stay away from what some candy-coated spandex think tank is trying to sink you into.

Don’t let fashions fragment you further into freaky foxed-out boxes.

Don’t be a slave to that which spews forth tricky impossible images of physical perfection.

All y’awl, even the guys,  make your own choices.  Better yet, buy a sewing machine and start ……. a rebellion.


I suppose I should explain myself a bit.  I was the only daughter of a Forest Ranger. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. I had two younger brothers and all the kids on the Ranger Stations were boys. We had no TV, no outside influence. My mom was something of a tomboy herself. I was always climbing trees and hiking, playing in the woods and my playmates were boys. My parents allowed me to date when I turned 16…..Only no boys stepped forward to play the romantic role, they were too busy being friends.   With  two exceptions, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized women could be funny. I had grown up around boys and just figured I was one of them. I absorbed their ideas and idealizations and jokes about women.  I thought all girls talked about was make-up, clothes and kids. I did not want to hang around with them.

So what does this have to do with the poem?

One of the reasons I was able to hang with the boys so much was because I did not have those curves, I was not beautiful, I was what Lucy Van Pelt of Charlie Brown comic fame called a “Raving Cutie”…:) I was always being mistaken for a guy, even in college. When I went skiing and got on the chairlift with strangers, you could always tell the moment the guy figured out I was a girl.  Talk about awkward moments….

What I think this did was to free me from a lot of the “things girls do” ideology. I didn’t learn to manipulate, I didn’t like frilly pink stuff, I hated romance novels, I pretty much got along with everybody, catty remarks went right over my head. Now, I am not saying that all women do/like things like that, I am saying that kind of behavior was the expectation of the boys around me. They didn’t treat me like a girl and I didn’t act like one in their eyes because, (I think), I didn’t look like a real girl, one they would date. All a matter of perception and expectancy.

About a decade ago I was with a friend of mine who is beautiful. (Yes, I finally grew up and am happy to say I have a lot of  female friends.)  She has generous curves, gorgeous eyes, very intelligent, and a lot of fun to be with. One of the perks of being with her is watching how she affects the men around her. Taxi drivers take us places for half price, men give her things all the time, she could be trying to steal something and they wouldn’t stop her, they would help her…. All because of her shape.  She elicits something in them and they are always trying to impress her.  Sometimes they are very stupid and sometimes they are very funny. All of which is to say, nothing like that has ever happened to me.  I get doors opened for me all the time, but that is about it.  Am I jealous? Maybe. It sounds like it, doesn’t it…. but you know? I like being me.  I like having guys treat me like a person and not trying to impress me. I like knowing that I have guy friends who like me for who I am, not what I look like. And I dislike the fashion industry for saying that kind of thinking is wrong.



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Chicken Stories!

Tomorrow I am going on the “Take a Peak Chicken Coop Tour”.  It is a self-guided tour and there are almost 40 coops in the Colorado Springs area to choose to see.  I love chickens, had them while growing up, but can’t have them now because one of my neighbors doesn’t like animals, and that means I can’t have them because he will protest…..and one protest means you can’t have them. I saw a “stealth chicken coop” that looked like a child’s play fort which I considered making, but then, my kids are grown and gone, so why would I have a child’s play fort?  I have offered to share the eggs, but he won’t budge.  No Chickens.

My family raised “chooks” for about 10 years along with a couple of pigs and some Black Angus cows.  We had a variable number of them, because my dad would get mad at them for scratching in his organic garden, especially in the spring, and kill a few.  (They made lovely dinners.) We had a few favorites amongst the rest and those are the ones I remember best.

Mrs. Yellow was a yellow hen and a lovely mother. She had one failing though… We had a small grape arbor and never did anything with the grapes, so they would fall off the vines and rot.  Every year, Mrs. Yellow would wait until the grapes had fallen and were rotten and then she would eat them.  I swear they made her drunk.  She staggered when she walked back to the coop at night.

Brussels was a yellow and black hen and she got attacked by a fox who managed to bite her on the back before my parents came running out and scared it off.  My mom sewed her back up with a needle and thread.  She recovered nicely and lived a long and happy life.

We had a Barred Plymouth Rock/Banty cross rooster whose name was Little Peep.  He was the friendliest rooster I have ever known.  He would court my mom and I….drag his wing in circles around us.  He never did that for my brothers or my dad. He came to us via a friend who had chickens and this little rooster was getting beaten up by the other rooster, so we took him. He was our first chicken and we didn’t have hens.  He was miserable for a bit, then somehow discovered that down the road a mile away, were some hens that didn’t have a rooster, so he walked there……every day….past a house that had a German Shorthair who was trained to hunt birds. After the day was done, he walked home again.  The bird-dog never got him. Eventually we took pity on him and got him his own hens.

Once, during a really bad blizzard, we went to the barn to feed the animals and found Little Peep almost frozen to death.  He had fallen in Curley’s (the pig) water trough. We picked him up and ran back to the house.  Mom turned the oven on low and stuck him inside.  Pretty soon there was crowing coming from the oven….:) He lived in the house the rest of the blizzard and we paper-trained him in that time.  He was an amazing little creature.

My brother raised about 50 chickens once for his 4H project.  We had a big coop that was on the property with a big run and that was where those chickens lived. The small family-owned chickens lived in the barn in the old dairy. He had one rooster who was called Early.  Early was a mean-spirited rooster.  He was the exact opposite of Little Peep. He seemed to go out of his way to attack you.  One Sunday I was late getting into the car for church because I had to feed my brother’s 4H chickens.  That rooster had chased me and flown up at me and scared me to death.  I was wearing my church clothes too! When I finally got into the car, covered in hay, I got yelled at for being late. I defended myself, “How would you like to be attacked by a 40 pound chicken?” Everyone laughed. Luckily the 4H project came to an end shortly thereafter.

This same brother was something of a pyro. He could set anything on fire. Most of the time it was the wood in the fireplace or getting a campfire started, but once he set the big chicken coop on fire. it was before the 4H project and it was a fine morning and the hens were all free-ranging down around the big coop.  He got them into the coop and then lit matches to “see how the chickens would react.”  They reacted by doing nothing, so he got bored and left.  At that time all 3 of us kids were working at a raspberry farm near our house, picking the berries. About 11, just before we were to take our lunch break, we heard sirens.  Everyone rushed to see where they were.  They seemed to be coming from our house.  My brother went white, and rushed out of the field and ran home as fast as he could and tried to help the firemen put out the fire in the…you guessed it…big chicken coop.  It didn’t do much damage as the firemen were called early enough, but he didn’t play with fire again for quite a while.

Anyway, I hope to have some fun tomorrow and hear some new chicken stories.

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My Date with a 6 Year Old……better than most.

I am going to post something other than my usual rants about gardening and experiments and tell a story.  I hope you like it.

A few years ago, I was baby-sitting the very imaginative son of some friends of ours. I am going to call him Bob.  They were out on the all-important “Mommy-Daddy Date”.  It was near Christmas and this young boy and I were having a great time.   At that moment in his life, he was fascinated by sharks, so we were telling shark stories and drawing sharks and imagining what a shark Christmas would be like.  (The tree would be hung with seaweed and have those luminescent fish hanging on it…)

After a while, he grows still and quiet like he is thinking about something important. Then he looks at me and says, “Can we go out for a movie sometime?”  I say, “Sure!” and that seems to satisfy him.  We go back to playing, adding aliens into the Christmas shark mix. (They would arrive in their underwater spaceships and sing alien Christmas songs.) His parents arrive, take him home and I go to sleep.

A few days later, I get a phone call.  It is Bob’s mother and she says, “My son would like to talk to you.” in a bemused sort of fashion.  Bob wants to talk about our date.  He wants to know what movie I would like to see. I suggest “The Water Horse” and he agrees that it would be a fine choice. He then wants to know when would be a good time.  After everything is arranged, he politely hangs up.

On the appointed evening,  (a real date is in the evening, no day-time show for him)  I go pick up Bob for our date.  His dad gives him a twenty dollar bill as his mother is putting him in the car seat. They stand in the driveway and wave us bye-bye.  As we drive away, Bob starts singing a song he made up for the occasion.  “Going on a date with Tanta Carol…..going on a date with Tanta Carol…”  (Tanta was his version of Aunt…I wasn’t blood related, I was an auntie by choice…he chose me.)

When we get to the Theater, he politely holds my hand as we cross the street.  I have to pick him up, so he can reach the ticket window and pay for (he called it “ordering”) the movie and get the tickets.  He then opens the door to the theater and lets me precede him into the building.  Holding hands once more, we find our movie and settle into our seats.  Just before the movie is about to begin, he leans up to me and whispers, “Just hugging, no kissing.”

What a gentleman!

And the story isn’t done!  There is more amazingness!

When the movie is finished, we make our way back to the car and talk about the parts of the movie we liked best.  Once in the car, he regales me with a story he made up, just in case I was bored.  I assure him I am having a wonderful time, even without the kissing.

I drop him off at home and head for home myself.  I had a great evening and even tho we never went on a real date again, we had quite a few play-dates.  My fave was drawing with chalk in the driveway.  We had a whole alien space-battle going on.  It was awesome.

He let me win.