Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's a Blackhawk Helicopter

Yes, friends, that’s me all up in the cockpit of a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, because I am so naturally awesome that way. (I’m smiling because I don’t actually have to fly it.) The helicopter came up from Buckley Air Force Base in Denver as part of our local Memorial Day observances. The pilot—a woman, woot woot—set this big bird down in the grassy area of a nearby park on Sunday morning, no doubt sending the kids at the playground into a frenzy. It was pretty dang impressive.

I do wish Blackhawks such as this one could fly only humanitarian missions, but, as we all know, we’re not there yet. Until that time, I am so profoundly grateful for all the men and women the world over who put their lives on the line in the defense of freedom.

Oh, and to the guy who clambered in and out holding an open can of soda: 1) what were you thinking? and 2) you should probably thank your lucky stars that you didn’t spill any.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fun: Photo of the Week

This plant–which is nearly as tall as I am, though that’s not saying much—is growing in front of my neighbor’s house. It is rather common, though not often used in landscaping. If you don’t recognize it, here are a few hints:

It is a perennial that grows from a rhizome.

It has large toxic green leaves and edible red stalks known as petioles.

It is a vegetable, but in 1947 it was legally classified as a fruit in the U.S. for regulatory purposes.

It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Varieties of it grow in many different climates around the world.

It was first brought to the U.S. in the 1820s.

Its name can also mean a dispute or fight.

It has inspired a fad diet.

It's known as the Pie Plant and can be used to make wine. But I like it best in a crisp. Yep, it’s rhubarb. And I’m the only one in my immediate family who will eat it. 

Have a great weekend! Let me know if you bake a rhubarb pie :-)  Mmmm...pie.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gypsy Horses

I drove up north of town on Saturday for an open house at the Irish Rose Farm, home of these beautiful black and white Gypsy (aka Irish Cob) horses. These small draft horses were originally bred by the Gypsy/Romany/Traveler people (in Europe, Ireland, and the British Isles) to pull carts and wagons. 

The horses are known for their easygoing temperaments and long, thick manes and tails. The folks at the Irish Rose import, breed, and sell the horses, most of which also have confoundingly unpronounceable (to me) Irish names.

Due to the previous night's rain, conditions were unsuitable for the planned jumping demonstrations, but it was still fun to see the horses and the bowtop gypsy wagon (also known as a vardo or living wagon).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Field Trip: Niagara Falls

I hear that no trip to Buffalo is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls, which is only about half an hour away. Thank goodness I was able to get there, or I would have had to slink away in shame. It was one of the most spectacular sights I've seen, right up there with the Grand Canyon and the sparkler bomb my neighbor set off on a very memorable Fourth of July. 

Here are five fun facts about the falls and a few photos for your Friday: 

Niagara Falls State Park, established in 1885, is the oldest state park in the United States.

The park's landscape architect, Frederick Olmsted, also designed Central Park in New York City.

3,160 tons of water flow over the falls every second. (Not minute. Second. Wow.)

Four of the five great lakes (Huron, Superior, Erie, and Michigan) drain into the Niagara River.

In 1885, a horse-drawn carriage ride around the falls cost $1.00 per hour.

(For more info, visit the Niagara Falls State Park website.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Buffalo Shuffle

This past weekend, I shuffled off to Buffalo, New York, to cheer my sister on as she received her Master’s Degree. It was a fun adventure, as I’d never been anywhere near that far north and east in the United States. The food--we ate Jamaican, Greek, and of course hot wings--was good, the people were friendly and funny, and we were quite lucky that the weather was beautiful. Spending just over one day there, with not much time to explore, made me wonder how Buffalo compares to Fort Collins. Here are some quick facts:

Anchor Bar, home of Buffalo Wings
FC:  1864
Buffalo:  1789

FC: Choice City, Fort Fun
Buffalo: Queen City, Nickle City

FC:  5,005 feet above sea level
Buffalo:  619 feet above sea level

Average precipitation:
FC:  14.5”
Buffalo:  38.6”

Average clear days:
FC:  300
Buffalo:  54 (How do they stand it?)

Population (2010 Census)
Nancy Rubins' canoe art at Albright-Knox Gallery
FC:  143,986
Buffalo:  261,310

Population percent change 2000-2010
FC:  +21.4%
Buffalo:  -10.7%

Mean travel time to work, in minutes:
FC:  19.3
Buffalo:  20.2

High school grads, age 25+ (2006-2010):
FC:  94.6%
Buffalo:  80.6%

Female persons (2010):
FC:  50.1%
Buffalo:  52.1%

View from my hotel lobby
Land Area, square miles: 
FC:  54.28
Buffalo:  40.38

Persons per square mile:
FC:  2,652.8
Buffalo:  6,470.6

Median value of owner-occupied housing units (2006-2010):
FC:  $241,600
Buffalo:  $65,700

Professional sports teams:
FC: none
Buffalo: Bills (NFL), Sabres (NHL), AAA Bisons

Craft breweries (listed in BeerAdvocate)
FC/Loveland/Longmont: 13
Buffalo/Rochester: 12

Higher Ed:
FC: Colorado State University, Front Range Community College
Buffalo: 3 SUNY Institutions, 5 private colleges

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Five: May Days

Here are five things I love about the month of May:

Celebrations: Son #2 and husband have birthdays, then comes Mother’s Day, and the month winds down (and summer kicks off) with Memorial Day.

Weather: The days warm up—sometimes too much; today is almost 90 degrees—but the nights are still cool and comfortable.

Blooming things: Iris, bleeding hearts, even dandelions…though I prefer not to have too many of the latter in my lawn.

Planting: I can get seeds in the ground and flowers in their pots, and it will be weeks before I have to battle garden pests and July heat.

Baseball: The big leaguers are back at it, and so are my boys. Even though games four evenings a week mean our dinnertimes are crazy until late July, it’s still so much fun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Snakes on a Trail

While out on a walk recently, my friend and I came around a bend and stopped short at the sight of two large--as in four- or five-foot-long--snakes stretched out across the trail. We'd seen rattlesnakes there before and assumed that's what they were. Not wanting to try tiptoe around them (snakes are way too quick and bendy) we stood for a moment discussing our options.

Then, using our Sherlock Holmes-ian powers of observation, we noticed a few things. The snakes' heads were smaller. Their skin, although generally the same colors as a rattler's, was shinier. And, lo and behold, they had no rattles. (Okay, so not Sherlock Holmes's best day.) They also didn't seem to mind moving on out of the way as we approached. Rattlesnakes tend to be a lot less cooperative.

When I got home and described to my husband what we'd seen, he told me they were bull snakes. My friend's husband told her the same thing. How did they know this? Is it a guy thing? I have lived in Colorado my whole life without seeing one. But now I suppose I could scratch it off my bucket list, if I had one. No doubt that a bull snake sighting would be somewhere way down the list, maybe between eating a cricket and seeing that movie where the snakes get loose on the plane. (What was it called again?) Oh, well. We get what we get. 

Bull a.k.a Gopher Snake


Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo of the Week

I'm still short on words after the A to Z challenge. But a picture is worth a thousand of them, so I'm set for today's post, with words to spare. Happy weekend!

My local greenhouse is ready for patio season!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A to Z Thank You

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog for the A to Z Challenge. I appreciate each view, comment, and follow, and I feel as though I have actually met many of you in person. Your posts made me laugh, made me think, and, on more than one occasion, made me blink back tears. 

I did the A to Z Challenge for the first time last year. Even though I had a great experience, I thought I didn't want to do it this year. But I jumped in at (almost) the last minute, and I'm so glad I did. My blog had been feeling stale to me. I wondered if I wanted to keep it going, and, if so, what form and direction it should take. But now I am reminded that my blog can be whatever I want it to be.

Even though April is over, I'm not done with A to Z. I'll continue to make my way through the list, and I look forward to reading many more posts.

Blog on!