Sunday, July 31, 2011

No Candles Please

Saturdays are the day to go to Boulder's Farmers Market. Always like the balloon man's tiara. It is different each time I go the the market.

It's that time of year when garden produce is arriving in abundance. With several vegetable stands carrying a variety of garden produce, I have to make sure I don't end up with more than I can eat in the next few days. Carrying a bag, I left with peaches, Ranier cherries, cucumbers, small white turnips, and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family. Kohlrabi is not a big seller -- and rarely found -- since few people know what it is. Great sliced and eaten raw, for me it is a great treat. Get it while it is in season.

From the farmer's market, I went to a gathering at Eileen's house. Since Vanita was in town, it was a good place for family to get together and eat and chat. One of the kohlrabi was introduced to the gathering. Sliced and laid out along with other appetizers, it disappeared quickly. After a dinner of BBQ pork and plenty of trimmings, I offered the cheesecake that I brought in honor of my birthday.

I contemplated getting candles for the cheesecake, but decided that a fire permit would be required for that many candles. That would complicate the whole day.

Good day and I survived to see July 31st.

Note to all for the birthday wishes: Thank You.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo Observations

Mushroom on a side street in Denver. Since the only mushrooms I eat are found in the grocery store, I passed on the opportunity to do a taste test on this harmless looking specimen.

The frequent rain fall and cloudy days have made for hot and humid days. That has provided some spectacular cloud formations. Captured a few of them with the camera. Here is one taken overlooking the Platte River Valley near 15th Street in Denver.

To get exercise, every other morning (very early before the heat) I head to nearby Jim Baker Reservoir where I walk around twice to get about a three mile walk. On the south side of the reservoir and about 100 feet away is a rail track. During my walk, frequently a train will pass. Some are coal trains headed for power plants along the Front Range. Others are mixed freight trains with tankers and box cars and open flatbeds. Once I saw an Amtrac train headed to Union Station in Denver.

That close to the train tracks, the unusual sounds make me wonder about my safety. Could those wheels seize up and the train accordions and one of those cars hits me. Okay. So that might be a bit dramatic.

However, no one on the train engine can hear that one wheel that seems to be going kerlunk kerlunk kerlunk. Kind of like the bearings are shot. Or another carriage seems to be squealing down the track -- metal against metal. Sounds like lubrication might be needed.

A sound like that coming from Silver Slug would be a warning that something was seriously wrong. Instead, today the sound was plop plop plop when it sounded like it was a flat tire. It was. So I changed the tire. Jeesh. That is hard work. Had to get out the owners manual to find out how to do that. It's been years since the last flat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easily Entertained

My iPad is old. Really old. It was one of the first out the door at the Tucson Apple store in April 2010. However, it is in use daily for browsing the internet. It is also used for reading from the many sources for ebooks. In addition to ebooks from the usual vendors, the ebooks include several nature reference volumes for birds to reptiles.

Life and the iPad can't be all serious. The iPad games downloaded include Scrabble, Solitaire, Chinese Checkers and several others. The addiction is Scrabble. A game at least once a day -- either on the iPad or the iPod Touch.

Entertainment is also an app category. Very little entertainment on my iPad. However, a most recent download was Talking Tom Cat 2. When I started the program, it didn't take long before I was laughing so hard that I started to tear up. Living alone there is no one to wonder what is so funny.

Everyone should laugh a little (a lot) every day. If you have an iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch), treat yourself to a laugh and download Talking Tom Cat 2. It's free.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Body Maintenance

Maintenance is a good idea with all possessions. That includes this 70 year old body that I occupy. Body maintenance was one reason for an extended stay in Denver. Went to the dentist. No repairs or replacements required. Just a cleaning. Had the eyes checked. No change since the last visit five years ago. Still need +150 reading glasses. That's all.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mini Book Review: Outliers

Outliers: The Story of Success  by Malcolm Gladwell

With examples of the Beatles, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, the author weaves a great story explaining how right place right time, focus to the exclusion of life, and lots of practice is behind the success. It didn't just happen.

An inspiring read allowed me to look back at my own life. Right place right time allowed me to get into data processing in the mid 60s. Loved programming and with lots of hard work, it was a great 35 year ride to retirement.

Another personal look back was in high school when I took up the trumpet in the school band. Didn't enjoy it and my lack of focus with little practice produced the expected results. Fortunately for all, I dropped the instrument and band.

After reading the book, I look at individual success very differently. There may be some opportunities, but the final result is individual focus and lots of hard work.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Editor Needed

A tie up in traffic gave me a chance to look a second time as I realized there is something wrong with the wording on this sign.

To respect the sign's wording, on Thursday, the traffic should move left.

Lots of thoughts come to mind; lowest bidder created the sign, sign made in China, results of USA education system. OR...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

International Collection

Too many shirts to launder them all at the same time. It has been done, but this time as I was putting the shirts on hangars, I noted the country of manufacture. It is an international collection of Hawaiian shirts in my closet.

Country of manufacture included Guatemala, Indonesia, Macao, Hong Kong, India, St. Kitts, Korea, etal. Once my curiosity was started, I began to wonder whether any had been made in the US. Took a lot of looking, but I did find two that were made in the USA -- Hawaii. Imagine that.

Didn't have to go to Hawaii to get those shirts. Without a bridge, it is hard to get there with Silver Slug and Wandrin Wagon in tow. Those shirts were acquired at thrift stores. Sometimes with a senior discount.

Considering the number of shirts, it is quite obvious I don't subscribe to a minimalist philosophy -- at least for Hawaiian shirts. More likely, it appears that Wandrin Lloyd has a Hawaiian shirt addiction.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Railroad Memory

Wandrin Lloyd was an eight year old standing in the Green Bay railway station awaiting the train which was arriving with aunt Lyla who came for the funeral of Grandma Jo. That train locomotive was black, huge and very loud. Standing as close to the station and behind my father, that locomotive was larger -- and scarier -- than any farm machinery I had every seen.

That was the memory that came to me as I toured the Colorado Railroad Museum and took photos of this engine. The wheels on this trail were about five feet in diameter and there were eight drive wheels for the monster. The cramped space of the museum didn't allow a different perspective of the engine. I was hoping for a small child to come by as I was taking this photo. No luck.

Perspective is tough. This would have been a good time for a self portrait standing in front of these monster drive wheels.

Sometimes the wheels of rail cars need to be replaced. The one time used wheels seem to gather in one particular location. Or perhaps this pile of wheels is the "spare tire" collection.

Many of the railway cars and locomotives at the museum were narrow gauge examples. There were a few standard gauge trains including the monster in the first photo. Wonder how they got it into the museum.

In keeping with the historical nature of railroading with steam locomotives, a water tank was on one railway track. Not visible is the sign that identifies location of the water tank as No Agua. Appears to have been moved from New Mexico. The sign indicated No Agua was 308 miles from Denver and 99 miles from Santa Fe. That would place No Agua north west of Taos across the Rio Grande River.

Have to wonder why a place called No Agua would have a water tank for the railway.

Just Wondering.... Does a railroad museum have any interest to the children born in these early years of the 21st century. Could this railway museum and its rustic examples of railway transportation may become nothing more than raw materials for recycling into a 21st century transportation vehicle.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Riverside Cemetery

Wandered around Riverside Cemetery in Denver in search of the unusual or perhaps an epitaph. Didn't find an epitaph. Of course there are over 67,000 graves here. That would take a lot of walking. The hot day kept me from doing much walking.

Perpetual care doesn't appear to be part of the cemetery. There is no lawn, but a carpet of green weeds as a result of the recent monsoon rains that have passed through Front Range Colorado. There are a few live trees with just as many skeleton trunks of one time living trees.

This photo may have been in the "high rent" district. The marble and granite monuments were huge and there were obelisks -- some taller than others -- marking several family plots. There were other areas of the cemetery where the grave stones were unimposing limestone and disintegrating sandstone.

The marker with the Arabian statue was for the grave of Addison Elton Baker. He owned a livery stable in Denver.

Finding a human statue in the cemetery was a surprise. Usually, such statues are in city parks or along a boulevard. Col. James K Archer "...was an Irish businessman who built Denver's first gas works and introduced gas lights in 1871. He also built the first piped water system in the City, and founded the Denver City Water Company. Col. Archer was instrumental in bringing the Kansas Pacific Railroad to Denver in 1870." With that resume, I wonder why his statue ended up in the cemetery.

There may have been other unusual grave markers in the cemetery. However, this block of sandstone for Lester Drake was most unusual. Could the width, height and depth of Drake's mining cabin been exactly this size. The front of the marker was about eight feet across.

Yup. Been out wandering and found a cemetery.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rain Continues

Yesterday was the sixth day of heavy rains in and around the Denver area. Highly unusual monsoon pattern for the Front Range.

Lots of opportunities for clouds, rain and sunset photo ops.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Denver Downtown Walk

A quiet Sunday morning is a great time to tour downtown areas without the hustle and bustle of the office towers' white collar workers. As an overcast morning, it was a great time for photo ops.

Beginning with some flowers in a planter.

Walls of older buildings provided a bill board space promoting businesses and their services. These signs may date to 100 years ago when horse drawn carriages and wagons provided transportation. In addition to hardware and lumber, blacksmith services were also provided to make things of iron for the customer.

There are also modern day signs. However, they are not painted on the wall, but a bill board provides this advertising. Although not really visible in this photo, there is a rope hanging from the top of the building to the bottle of Crown Royal. Crown Royal purple is my color.

Along the 16th Street Mall, it is neat and tidy. Where does all the human detritus go. "Hiding" in an alley off the Mall I found where it all goes. And not very neat and tidy.

Here are towers of the old and new. The Daniels and Fisher tower built in 1911 was the tallest structure in Denver at that time. The tower behind was complete in 2010. That new tower is about function. The old tower has an Italianate character.

New buildings were under construction during this economic down turn. At the same time, maintenance is done on the old construction. Here it was the stone of the Mall requiring repairs. How about this latest design in hard hats.

The good part about this walking tour is that I was able to get some much needed exercise.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Monsoon Moisture

Although I've been parked in Westminster since the first of June, I still marvel at the predominance of the color green. Sounds like I've spent too much time in the brown and tan desert southwest. Sure there are green cactus, but that bit of green is only an accent color.

Summer monsoons moved in from the southwest three days ago. Each afternoon dramatic skies develop with dark clouds against a blue sky. Soon clouds are overhead with strong winds, sheets of rain and sometimes hail. Inside the Wandrin Wagon being pelted by hail is not pleasant as I try to decide where to take protection from the inevitable hail that will come right through the roof. Convinced the hail must be the size of a baseball, I check out the window to see half inch hail.

The clouds and rain start early afternoon and after three successive showers, the attempt at a memorable sunset was poor.

When returning home one afternoon in the middle of a downpour, I stopped at a grocery. In the parking lot was a convertible with the top down. There was no point getting soaked walking to the store so I got out the iPad and played a game of Scrabble. Once the rain stopped, I did my shopping and returned to Silver Slug to find the convertible had already gone. Rats. I had hoped to see the nonchalance of the driver sitting in a puddle of water behind the steering wheel.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Trail Ridge Is Open

Trail Ridge Road (US Hwy 34) through Rocky Mountain National Park was opened late June. Usually open by Memorial Day in May, this year it took longer than usual to remove all the winter snow accumulation. Additional late snows hampered the progress of the snow blowers to open the road by Memorial Day.

Rich was the tour driver which included Tricia (Rich's niece) and Keith from Connecticut. I chose my Canon G11 camera for this journey. Bad decision considering the wildlife seen along the way. Could have used a telephoto lens.

Before getting ahead of myself, how about Tricia and Keith standing atop the snow on June 29th.

The wildlife included deer, moose and elk bulls in velvet. This herd of cow elks was close enough to the road to allow a photo op without a long lens.

We were headed in the direction of that ominous sky. Soon it was slush balls and small hail pelting the car.

After a lunch at the Grand Lake Lodge we headed back to Loveland. Soon after entering the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, we were passing through the willow swamps where we spotted several bull moose and a cow moose and calf. Without a telephoto lens, this is the best I could do.

There were lots of scenic photo ops for "post card" qualification. There were many to choose from, but for me the angles of the distant mountain and foreground trees made this the most interesting.

In closing, how about a wild flower photo shot.

Thanks to Rich for making the drive and allowing me to gape and awe at Nature's beauty in Rocky Mountain National Park.