Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eleven Years

We celebrated our eleventh anniversary recently.

Some years we plan a significant celebration and some years we plan a small celebration. This year we went to La Posada for breakfast on the weekend prior to our anniversary. We had talked for several years about La Posada, a railroad hotel in Winslow designed by Mary Jane Colter. The hotel is being refurbished and is on the registry of National Historic Landmarks.

I assumed the trip would be short; breakfast, a few minutes of browsing and return home. We were gone six hours and could have taken longer. While wandering around the grounds and the hallways we met artist Tina Mion who owns the hotel with her husband. Many of Tina's painting are displayed throughout the building. Her descriptions of the histories behind some of the paintings made them more interesting.

La Posada Entrance.
Julie leading the way into La Posada.

La Posada Hallway.
One of the refurbished and decorated areas of La Posada.

On the day of our anniversary I was working on something and needed to know the date. I asked Julie and she wasn't sure and suggested I check the calendar in the kitchen. I guess this isn't surprising since about eight years ago we began discussing the date of our anniversary and neither of us were certain so we had to check our marriage certificate.

Julie on our eleventh anniversary.
Julie on our eleventh anniversary.

Me on our eleventh anniversary.
Me on our eleventh anniversary.

We had a small celebration that day by driving to town for lunch.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monsoon Garden

I've turned off the irrigation to the garden. The monsoon season has begun and is doing well so irrigation is needed for a while. Hopefully a long while.

I read somewhere that we have a 50% change of rain on July 4 because the monsoon season normally begins about that time. We get one half of our annual precipitation between mid-July and mid-September so the next seven weeks are critical.

Thus far the season is great.
  • 7/3 - sprinkled
  • 7/4 - .02
  • 7/5 - .23 then .02 in another shower
  • 7/6 - .02
  • 7/7 - .015
  • 7/8 - .09
  • 7/9 - .33
  • 7/10 - .30
  • 7/11 - today the rain forecast was 60%
At our garden gate we're received 1.005 inches of rain in one week.

What's in the garden?

Fruits and Vegetables
  • Parsnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Beans - 4 varieties
  • Kale
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Radish - 2 varieties
  • Summer Squash - 2 varieties
  • Winter Squash - 6 varieties
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons - 4 varieties
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Peppers - 5 varities
  • Tomatoes - 5 varities
  • Potatotes - 3 varieties
  • Turnips
  • Peas - 2 varieties
  • Carrots - 2 varieties
  • Cabbage - 2 varieties
  • Lettuce - 4 varieties
  • Arugula
  • Pak Choi Tatoi
  • Endive
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Corn Salad
  • Chard - 2 varieties
  • Cauliflower
  • Amaranth - volunteers in the aisles from last season
  • Basil - 2 varieties
  • Cilantro
  • Chives - 2 varieties
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Sage
  • Parsley - 2 varieties
  • Hibiscus - potted and on a summer vacation from the sun room
  • Bougainvillea - potted and on a summer vacation from the sun room
  • Zinnia
  • Nasturtium
  • Portulaca
  • Alyssum
  • Iris
  • Day Lilly
  • Hollyhocks
  • Unknown - 2 packages of collected seed that I failed to label

Both the monsoon season and the garden are doing well. As am I!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Long Weekend Trip

Last weekend, the weekend of July 4, Julie and I took a leisurely trip to Colorado. I took a vacation day on Thursday so we had five days of leisure, four traveling and one at home.

The first day was windy, extremely windy. The open terrain gave the wind a clear path. It was difficult to talk because of the wind noise so we turned off the intercom and rode with our thoughts. We rode for a few hours leaning a few degrees from plumb to be able to travel on straight level ground. We've traveled the road several times but I forgot about one stop sign at a cross roads. The air was filled with thick red dust blowing across the road. When we exited the cloud we were just a few yards from the stop sign.

Stopping for eye drops.
About 45 minutes south of Shiprock we took a break to retrieve eye drops and a bottle of water.

For the first night Julie made reservations in Mesa Verde National Park. I was surprised there were vacancies available on short notice on a holiday weekend. I guess the heat and remoteness of the park doesn't attract a large crowd. The drive from the park entrance to the lodge was about 45 minutes. Part of the drive is a twisting and turning climb to the top of a mesa that provided broad vistas. After checking in we had supper at a window table in the dining area. I had a dish called the three sister which was a puff pastry containing corn, beans and squash. Julie has a pasta dish with spinach, mushrooms, pine nuts and dried cherries. Both were excellent. There was no cell service available and we had a room without a television so it was a quiet contemplative evening.

Mesa Verde Ruins.
Mesa Verde Ruins.

The next morning after breakfast we rode farther into the park, visited the museum, watch a video and stopped at a few overlooks. Due to Julie's foot surgery and restricted ability to walk we didn't visit any ruins. I read there are over 1,400 archaeological sites in the park. We discussed another visit in the fall when we can explore some of the several miles of trails.

After leaving Mesa Verde we traveled east to Durango then turned north to Silverton, Ouray and Ridgway. At a roadside stand in Silverton we bought cherries, two varieties, sweet, fresh and tasty. The road between Silverton and Ouray is called the million dollar highway. We climbed over 13,000 feet where the air was cool and snow remained in shaded spots. The road twists and winds through the mountains around turns without guard rails and drops of hundreds of feet. It was a beautiful ride.

Hot Springs Cat.
Hot springs cat taking a nap in our room.

Originally we had reservations to camp at Orvis Hot Spring just south of Ridgway. Julie called to see if a room might be available due to a cancellation. No luck. A couple days later she phoned again. Success! This was about our sixth visit. On previous visits the resident aging cat seemed so fragile. He was old, decrepit, slow and had long matted hair that was thinning. He looked as if he might drop dead at any moment. This time we encountered a new cat, a young healthy friendly cat.

Telluride, Colorado.
Telluride, Colorado.

We had planned two nights at the hot spring but could get a room for only one night so we decided to cut our trip short by one day and return home by another route. We stopped in Telluride for lunch and an hour of wandering the streets. The temperature was pleasant, everything was deep green and snow melt was flowing from the mountains. It was a radical change from home and the remainder of the ride. Later in the day we stopped in Shiprock, New Mexico, to get something to drink. The temperature was 98 degrees, a dusty, brown, dry 98 degrees

Window Rock.
The window from which Windrock took it's name.

The previous evening we made reservations in Window Rock which is on the border between New Mexico and Arizona. This was our first time in Window Rock. Before leaving the following morning we searched for and found the namesake, looked at the memorial to the Navajo Code Talkers and read many of their names inscribed on bricks surrounding the memorial.

It was a great trip. By the time we arrived home we had ridden 903 miles. As we neared home we began discussing another trip. We're planning a Labor Day trip to St. George, Utah with stops in Bryce and Zion national parks. We can make a loop of part of the trip and may include a stop on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

One reviving trip in our memories and another to anticipate.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer Slump

I enjoy blogging and have no plans to quit. I like writing about good things Julie and I experience and recording odd things I encounter. It amuses me to relate some of the dumb things I do. (Lately there have been several things to relate.)'s summer! Translated that means the sun is up longer, the weather is warm and I have a strong need to be outside away from a computer. I'm in my annual summer blogging slump.

I am grateful for those who've contacted me and regularly check for updates. Thanks to Beverly, Karen, AC and Tim.

Following, in random rather than chronological order, are a few pictures and short summaries of some events since the rhubarb pie.

Antelope Squirrel.
Antelope Squirrel.

One of the cats caught an antelope squirrel, brought it in the sun room and turned it loose. It was unharmed, healthy and fast. It immediately found refuge under the counter behind a water barrel where we (cats, Julie and I) couldn't reach it. It cried continuously for hours in a pitiful voice. Julie suggested setting a live trap. About 24 hours later it entered the trap. This was the squirrel that tipped the scales. The cats are banned from the house unless we open a door and grant entry. They can get into the utility room but not the main part of the house.

The weather is warm so they spend each night outside. About the time of the squirrel incident at dusk one evening I saw two horned owls circling low in the back yard. I went out and saw Maggie in the center of the circle. I called her in to safety. The next evening the owls returned. We haven't seen them since. Owls are the main predator for cats. Their talons have a crushing power of 250 pounds.

Rain Gauge.
Rain Gauge.

We somehow learned about an opportunity to become weather spotters. We arranged to attend an orientation class at the NOAA facilities west of Flagstaff. The training was excellent. We stayed for an optional session on lightning. We received a rain gauge which has a scale of 1/100th inch. Less than a week after installing it on the garden gate we had rain, the first rain in months. Three one-hundredths of an inch. Not much but welcomed.


We took a trip to Jerome with some friends. This is the trip that we planned in April when we had a pulse-increasing flat on the motorcycle. This time some friends went with us. They have a Ural which is a Russian motorcycle with a sidecar. It was a good trip. We stopped in Sedona for coffee and had lunch in Jerome.

Last weekend over the holiday Julie and I took a trip on the motorcycle to Colorado. The trip was about 903 miles. Hopefully, maybe, possibly, I'll write about that trip and include a couple photos.

Cows outside the sun room windows.

Early one Saturday morning about a month ago we walked to the mail boxes. On our way home we passed two cows. I jokingly said "Don't follow us!" About mid-day we stopped work for lunch and sat down in the sun room. A short while later I noticed movement. The cows were in the back yard.

I snapped a couple photos and drove them several hundred yards from the house. They came back just as I was about to take a shower. Armed with a red broom Julie drove them off this time. I understood their plight. When she gets the broom the cats disappear as do I.

Julie sending the cows on their way.

Unfortunately, one of the cows stepped on a hot water solar collector that I bought and stored in a area where I thought it was safe. The tempered glass shattered. I can use the collector but will have to install it in the greenhouse that I'll build this fall.

Early Spring Garden Under Frost Cloth.
Early spring garden under frost cloth.

The garden is growing. I planted it late and covered it nightly if the forecast called for temperatures low enough for frost. On two occasions the forecast was wrong and the potatoes were bit. They came back but one variety isn't doing well. I enlarged the garden this year. I planted pumpkins, squashes and melons in recessed beds around the fence. I added about ten containers, a screen covered lettuce box and an elevated bed headboard to support pole beans. We've been giving away arugula, a variety of lettuces, spinach, radishes, Bok Choi and other greens. We've eaten our first tomato, a Green Zebra. Julie bought the plant at the first farmer's market of the season.

I had one major blunder. I filled the three garden cisterns and had 7,500 gallons of water. I wanted to measure the amount of water I use this year. One evening after work I was using a hose to water a few items while talking with Julie's brother-in-law who was visiting. I placed the hose in the rhubarb bed in preparation for walking to the end of the row and turning off the water. It's not a valid excuse but we were talking and I'm in my sixties and I'm a male which means I can't multitask. The next evening when I got home I noticed a large wet area in the garden. I estimate the rhubarb got about 3,000 gallons of water. At two cents a gallon that was a $60 mistake. I don't mind the cost but now I'm obsessive. I turn off the water, close the gate, open the gate and check both hoses again. On the bright side I double check only once so I'm not too obsessive.

Compost Pile Temperature.
Compost pile temperature.

I reworked my compost system this spring. I removed the commercial bins and created containers using wooden pallets. I've monitored the piles almost daily. One pile reached 163 degrees before cooling to about 140 where is stayed for quite a while. When the temperatures dropped below 120 I turned the piles and watered them. Last time I checked the temperature was about 144 degrees.

In early spring we visited the arboretum near Flagstaff. It was cool and not much was growing or flowering but it was an enjoyable outing. The highlight for me was the animal presentation. A man who (if my memory is correct) works with a state agency had three birds, a snake and a wood rat. All had been injured and couldn't be returned to the wild. The animals and his presentation were fascinating. Julie asked to touch the snake but some laws, regulations or something made that a no-no.

There's been another significant experience. Julie had foot surgery about a month ago. She developed a toe that elevated and didn't touch the floor or the sole of her shoe. She learned that had she seen a doctor as soon as it first elevated that it might have been possible to fix it without surgery. But, it was too late. A section of bone was removed and a pin was inserted to keep the toe aligned.

Oh, yes! I went for a hearing test. Moderate to severe hearing loss. Hearing aids? That's the question. The answer is pending. Do I really want to hear all of the pervasive noise pollution. That question is easy to answer in the negative. Hmm? I'm still pondering when to get hearing aids. Did you know that insurance companies classify hearing aids as "cosmetic devices" and do not pay for them? Julie and I are fortunately. Our insurance will pay a substantial amount toward hearing aids.

That's a quick update of events in our world. Life is good as it should be.