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Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I tried to post this on July 31, but Blogger had a mind of it's own and wouldn't let me arrange the photos where I wanted them, so I am posting late. ( Edited to say: I see that since it was saved as a draft on the 31st, it is dated then, although it wasn't published until August 1.)

July 31 was my 71st birthday. I was happily surprised by the arrival, about noon, of my daughter Kat, Greg and Evan, to help me celebrate this weekend. Evan, age 7, entertained me by blowing up a balloon and letting it go to fly all around. He would also blow it up and then hold the end tightly to let the air squeal out while he giggled and wiggled.

Kat, Evan and I picniced at Centennial Park on the Arkansas River in Canon City, where Evan fed the pond ducks and threw rocks into the river until the wind started blowing so hard everyone rushed to our cars and left the park. We had planned on picking up my Mom from her assisted living home to go celebrate with ice cream, but it was blowing so hard we were concerned about taking my tiny, fragile Mom out in it, so we went to a drive thru and took the ice cream treats to her in her studio apartment. She told us about what happened on the day I was born and other old memories. When we arrived we noticed that one of the patio tables behind the home was broken.

When we got back to my house we started to drive into the driveway and were shocked to see that the far side of the carport was filled with half of the big Russian Olive tree from the front yard. We had noticed quite a few small limbs and branches that had blown off of trees, on our drive, but had no idea of what was waiting for us at home.

When we moved here 6 years ago this had been a very small tree laying on the ground in the front yard with the root ball half out of the ground. When we began to remove it, a neighbor told us that a dust devil had blown it down the previous summer, but it had continued to stay alive with green leaves. We waited until Spring and it began to leaf out, so Joe pulled it upright and staked it so it would stay in that position until the roots that had pulled out of the ground took hold again. It so enjoyed being watered and fed and generally loved by us and the birds that it grew fast and furiously. Last summer Joe was able to take off the wires and stakes.

It had gotten so tall that I wanted to get it pruned back and keep it a smaller tree. Earlier this summer the tree trimmers who trim trees that grow into the power and phone lines came by and trimmed the half of the tree that impacted the lines. This left it quite lopsided and we then realized that we needed to get the other half of the tree pruned by professionals when the season was right. Todays wind took care of half of the remaining tall limbs so now will have fewer limbs to be pruned. I just hope that there is enough there to make an attractive shape.

I know that many people consider Russian Olives to be noxious weed trees because they have begun to naturalize along our creeks and rivers, but they are an attractive tree with their silvery green leaves and the sweet smelling spring flowers (which I am happy to say, I am not allergic to) and the birds love this tree. Since I have planned this garden to be attractive to the birds and critters, that makes the decision for me.

I wasn't able to post the following before because of a vexsome virus that infected our computer, in spite of Norton. Our computer guru, son Greg, has managed to take care of it for us:

The late summer monsoons have given us some amazing weather; this past week we have had three late afternoon severe thunderstorms with heavy rains, flash flooding, winds, and damaging hail in the area, in addition to lesser thunderstorms the other afternoons.

Our daughter-in-law, Jennie, who is a librarian has just accepted a position with the state prison at Limon, which is close to Byers, and has been attending the Department of Corrections (DOC) Academy in Canon City, so we have been showing her the area during her time off. Last Sunday afternoon we took her to the most well known attraction in the area, the Royal Gorge, with it's "world's highest suspension bridge" over the 1000 foot deep gorge, and many other attractions.

When we were halfway across the bridge (it is a long bridge), walking, a high wind and thunderstorm hit us from the west. We were soon soaked to the skin but pushed on valiantly to the south rim, where we and many others took refuge in a t-shirt shop until the rain passed over. I had heard that when the wind came down the canyon the bridge undulated, but had never seen it. Believe me, it undulates.

With my weak legs, I had taken my mother's old walker with a seat and basket (it was way too high for Mom so we got her one fitted to her small size), because I didn't feel that I could manage that much walking otherwise. It worked well with my oxygen in the basket, and the seat when I became fatigued. I was pleasantly surprised that I managed the whole escapade much better than I had feared. Joe does all the refrigeration for the eating places at the Gorge so he knows the maintenance and facility supervisors, and one of them wanted to get me a ride back across the bridge with a Park Ranger, but I wanted to continue walking.

On the way back across the bridge we heard the sound of rushing water and looking over the east side of the bridge we saw a large gully running full of runoff water from the entire south rim. It was full of mud and rocks and bright red, since that is the color of the earth here. It rushed down the whole 1000 foot cliff, bouncing from crag to crag until it fell in a huge waterfall into the river at the bottom. We then saw one of the rafts coming down the river from the west. When they saw the waterfall, they stopped and the guides checked it out and then they went ahead and paddled on down the narrow area where the water was running into the river. With a lot of skill and know how they got thru just fine and continued on toward Canon City where they would disembark, probably at Centennial Park.

We were so wet and cold and could have grumbled that the storm had ruined our outing at the Gorge. Instead we were exhilerated and glad that we had a chance to experience something that most people don't get to see. I managed to get a short video clip of the rushing water with my Canon Elph camera. I hope this works, I've never posted a video before.


Sande said...

Happy Birthday, Fran. Sounds like you had a very lovely day with family. It doesn't get better than that.

jenclair said...

Happy Birthday!

Allison Ann Aller said...

Happy birthday, Granny Fran!
I'm so glad you weren't scared on that bridge. I would have been!
The video worked fine and I think I heard your voice at the very end..

Micki said...

Happy belated Birthday, Fran. Wow, what an adventure you had.

Kay said...

Happy birthday to you! What an adventure! Makes it one to remember.

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday! Thank you so much for stopping by my lil blog! I am playing catch up after the injury and just now getting back to all the lovely comments that were left for me.

You mentioned about the Russian olive trees- I love them- the scent in the spring when they are blooming is wonderful and bees love them! I wish you could still plant them here in co- but I heard they are on the banned list now!


Barbara C said...

Happy Birthday Fran! I'm glad you had such a an exciting outing. I think a 1,000 ft hight undulating bridge would've kept me on the sidelines, but you're much braver than I am.