Thursday, April 23, 2015

Something to Smile About

My sister, Jean, arrives today for a five day visit, which is certainly something to smile about.  I haven't seen her since I left Maryland last June and I'm so excited that she'll be here! We are heading down to Colorado Springs to have some fun.  

I'll give you a report early next week; meanwhile I hope you enjoy these photos of the lovely tulips blooming in our front yard. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

In the Land of Legalized Marijuana

In November of 2000 Colorado passed Amendment 20 which legalized limited amounts of marijuana for medical use.   Twelve years later voters passed Amendment 64 which legalized limited amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

I knew this when we moved here but didn't think much about it until I saw ads like this in the local paper...

and signs like this, though so far only in neighborhoods frequented by CU students.

The law requires medical cannabis users to register with the state and have a registration card.  Recreational users must be at least twenty-one and may only purchase one ounce at a time.  Should you be wanting to visit Colorado and sample the wares there are rules you'll need to know and follow.  

Neither medical or recreational marijuana may not be consumed in any public area including a cannabis store.  In addition, cities and towns may decide not to allow the sale of marijuana, so you can't get it everywhere, just in the communities that have allowed its sale.  Boulder and Denver do, but many places do not.

I was invited to accompany a friend who wanted to buy some cannabis to use as a sleep aid. He wanted to try it and see if it helped with his sleeping problems so he took the "recreational" route rather than the "medical."  The store he chose was in a typical strip mall type of shopping center.  We were greeted by a receptionist who listened to my friend's description of what he wanted, checked our ids, and directed us to wait in comfortable seats.

Medical and recreational sales are quite separate, so our next step was to enter the recreational sales wing of the store.  There we saw some educational displays about the available goods and talked more in depth with a salesperson who was young, attractive, and quite hip.  (No photos of staff allowed; sorry!) 

My friend knew that he wanted an edible product and selected gummy bears laced with a small dose of cannabis.

They came in a child proof bottle with a notice to "Keep from children." 

The sales rep gave instructions to "start with 1/2 a gummy bear about two hours before bedtime, increasing to one if needed." And "not to take with alcohol," which seemed odd since I thought dope smoking and beer drinking often went hand in hand at parties. But admittedly my personal experience is very limited.

Later my friend reported that his sleep greatly improved when he took this drug.  Having sleep problems of my own, I tried half a bear to see if I had equally good results.  Alas, no.  Gummy bear not withstanding, I still woke up after two hours and tossed and turned for a while before getting back to sleep.  Perhaps smoking some cannabis would be more effective, but there's no way I'm smoking anything.

Except for the store signs and advertising and an occasional mention of use by someone in conversation, I haven't seen much evidence of marijuana use in my daily life here.  Once walking home from the University I followed a skateboarder who was illegally smoking cannabis on the street, and just the other day I smelled some as I walked downtown, but that's not bad for living here ten months.   Of course I'm not young and not traveling in those circles where cannabis is on the menu.  

In addition to teaching Paul to not drink until he's older we now need to teach him not to use cannabis until the legal age of twenty-one, if ever.  But that seems a small price to pay for living in a community where people aren't arrested and jailed and have their lives ruined for possession of what is, after all, just another drug with its good uses and misuses.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April Snow

The storm that hit here Thursday and Friday did give us three inches of snow and a couple inches of rain. 

We're in the middle of a busy weekend, but I thought you might like this photograph of the snow-frosted Flatirons...  

...and this cute photograph of Spikey and Fetcher on opposite sides of the patio door yesterday. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Before the Snow Comes

The day before the snow comes --four to seven inches are predicted on Thursday--is a good time to take stock of the yard cleanup we've managed to do in the beautiful weather we've had the last few weeks.  We were lucky to buy a house with an established lawn and flower beds.  They just need some tending to get them looking tidy again.

Here's the front yard showing the beds by the door and the deck.  

In the front yard is a heart shaped bed with red tulips planted by the previous owner in memory of her mother.  It had gotten a bit overgrown...

 ... but we've got it weeded out now.  That's the kind of tidying up we're doing.

On the College Avenue side of the house the Sumac had sent up a bunch of suckers and the lawn had died by the driveway.  

Ben cut out the suckers and is reseeding the lawn. 

Ben got rid of the grass along the metal edging strip by the perennial bed and reset it.  Getting rid of the grass in the bed has been a slow job but we hope the coming snow will moisten the ground enough to make digging it out easier.  It's been very dry here this spring, so the coming snow is quite welcome.

The bed by the driveway has been weeded out and mulched...

...and the raised beds in the back have been cleaned out and readied for planting.  The yellow flowering shrub you see is a new currant bush we just planted.  It's a native area plant so we hope it will do well.

Ben and I like to garden together but the big lifting ends up in his court.  For example, he has been resetting all the stones that line the beds.  It's a hard job but it makes a big difference.

Since this is our first spring in this house it's been fun to see what we have.  I was so pleased to find out that we have a lilac bush and also a flowering quince, two plants we had back in Maryland. (The quince is the orange/pink bush you see by the bench.)

There are many mysteries.  I know the blue flowers here are Grape Hyacinth, but are the deep purple ones Vincas?  I've never seen purple ones before.

And today I spotted this beauty by the front door.  I'll have to see if any of our neighbors know what it is.  So many things to learn!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Street Photography

I'm taking Ricky Tim's "52 Week Photography Challenge",  an online class teaching design, camera basics, and Photoshop.  I'm enjoying it quite a bit, though some weeks the challenge can be daunting.  This week, for example, we were asked to go out on a public street and take photographs of people passing by.  Ricky referred us to the street photographs taken by Vivian Maier and Henri Cartier-Bresson and then we were off, out into streets, markets, parks, and other public areas to take photographs.   I went to the Boulder Farmer's Market and took about fifty images, of which these were the best.  

The image below focuses on the couple on the right.  But their son was off to the left eating some ice cream; see him in the striped shirt?  

When he noticed me I gestured with the camera and he broke into a big smile and I caught this image which is the one I uploaded to the class Smugmug account as my challenge photo for the week.  You might think his parents would be upset when they realized I was shooting him.  But I smiled and said "Such a cute kid," and they smiled back and agreed and that was that.

One of the surprising things about shooting at the Market was that hardly anyone paid any attention to me.   It probably helped that I was an older female, and therefore basically invisible and that the market goers were generally well off and at ease.  

I learned that you have to be quick to catch street action.  People are walking, biking, skateboarding, all in motion and you have to shoot quickly but calmly to get good in-focus pictures. 

In the class we've been learning various Photoshop techniques and all these images have had some PS editing; cropping, color adjustments, and cloning (to eliminate unwanted blemishes or parts of the images).   It was a fun challenge and I hope you enjoy seeing the results!  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When the Vultures Come Back to Boulder

Do you know the old song When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano?   I've been remembering it this week as we've watched the vultures return to Boulder.  They migrate out for the winter, around October, and return the first of April.  Their reappearance is one of the sure signs of spring, and most people around here are happy to see them arrive.

For some reason they like to roost in a tall spruce tree about a block from here.  When we go for a walk up 6th Street (we are on Rose Hill Drive, an extension of 7th Street) in the early morning or early evening, we can see them swooping into "their tree" and gathering for the night.  In this photo there are only three, but trust me, in a few more weeks there will be about fifty!    

This picture gives a better idea of how they look when they are in the tree. 

I don't know if any other trees in Boulder attract the vultures, but I do know that our neighborhood is well known for harboring a big "kettle" of the birds.  Here's how one write up referred to this phenomena:  

"If you'd like to get up close and personal with our local turkey vultures, head over to the West Boulder neighborhoods near Flagstaff Mountain.  This area is a longtime home base to a huge kettle of turkey vultures, particularly on 6th Street between College Avenue and Baseline Road.  Take an evening stroll through this neighborhood and look up at the upper branches of the big oak trees.  When you spot them, be sure to thank our spring cleaners for all they do!  

You may be thinking "Aren't vultures those buzzard birds that eat roadkill?"  Indeed they are! And you may also be thinking "Oh, gosh, what a mess they must make pooping all over the place under that tree."   And indeed, they do make a terrible mess!  

So I was glad to see them return to the same tree and not to one closer to us.  Last fall, for some unknown reason, they spent one day in a tall spruce tree owned by our next-door neighbor, and I was a bit nervous that they might decide to choose that tree to roost in this year.  So I was very glad to spot them circling above their old haunt on 6th Street, and applauded them when I saw the first wave roosting there for the night.  

The vultures are interesting and it's fun to watch them flying in those big circles overhead, but I think we need to change the subject now!  

Here's two nice photos Ben took the other day.  

Me, looking happily au natural...

...and the first Flatiron, always a wonderful sight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2015

On Easter we had plenty of daffodils...

...and tulips and chocolate.

While I made an Easter cake Ben and our friend Lotus went on a new hike up the back of Flagstaff Mountain.  They came back raving about it.  Lotus stayed for lunch (more grilled lobster and fresh mushrooms from the farmer's market) and afterwards posed for Ben with the tulips.   Doesn't she look great? 

Once I was done with the cake I went on a hike with Paula and that handsome dog Gus up in Chautauqua, and later we went up to Paula and Ray's for dinner.  Ben had ordered a "bread bunny" from Great Harvest and we put a pot of dip in its tail and surrounded it with veggies, which made a fun appetizer.  Paula's mother, Pat, and her nephew, Nathan, were at dinner also and we enjoyed seeing them again.

Ray made a Chinese stir-fry lamb dish while Paula made Bok Choy.  In the midst of cooking  they kindly posed for the camera.

Paul was very excited about the cake!  The green Peeps were Paula's addition, and they looked mighty cute.

Why don't we have chocolate cake more often, Mom?  

Ben was so excited about the new hike he'd done with Lotus he was eager to do it with me.  So yesterday we hiked it together.  It was something to get excited about, being a five mile round trip hike that starts with a gradual 7% climb up an old road built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corp to connect Boulder Canyon to Flagstaff Mountain.  The hike, called the Chapman Drive Trail, has been closed for some time due to right-away issues and also severe damage to the road from the September 2013 floods.  You can see the deep rutting the water caused on the right side of this photo.

We loved walking through the peaceful pine trees and seeing very few other hikers and mountain bikers on the trail.

Once at the high point you take a path that loops down the mountain side to rejoin the road further down.  The views of the Indian Peaks from the path were quite scenic. 

Ben pointed out this pretty wildflower which was growing along the path.  Once you started to notice them, we spotted many more.   I don't know the name, but they are lovely, aren't they?