Green Day

Same dog, different day...
It looks a bit more like September around here again. Happy Autumn, everybody!


Prematurely White

Maybe our dog is just as perplexed as we are.

Pix: Continuing September Snow, 9.23.09

Snow Flowers

Today in the garden ...

The clouds on the Peak are threatening more snow and the leaves on the aspens are still green. It feels like summer and winter just had a head-on collision. And I'm wondering, "What happened to autumn?"


A Garden Picture.

It's the last day of summer, and my garden is covered with snow.
Does this seem right to you?

Sunday Thought

Today's thought is an ancient poem, and famous. Most all of us have probably heard it read at a hospital room or during a sacred service. Some parts of it can probably be retrieved from somewhere in the cobwebs of our childhood brains. It's a sketch of God, written by an Israeli king who had been a shepherd as a boy. The words are a comfort and hope, and they come from David, the poetic warrior who has been described as 'a man after God's own heart.'

Today's Sunday Thought: Psalm 23, from the Bible.

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness

for his name's sake.

Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Tonight's Quote

"The gym is an oven full of music, sweat, and disappointment."

Isaac, (8th grade) giving advice to his younger brother Lucas, (6th grade) before his very first middle school dance, tonight.

Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate in a heavy orange bag. Arm and Hammer. I just bought a 12 pound bag of it at Sam's Club. I'm not kidding. 12 pounds of baking soda. And it cost a little less than 5 bucks.
It's a personal test. I'm conducting a cleaning trial. The heavy duty bag of white powder is going to start helping me clean my house for less money and in a greener fashion. Until today, I was really only familiar with three ways to use baking soda; for baking, as an open-box deodorant in the fridge, and as a really awful form of toothpaste. For the trial, I am going to start using it as a cleaner/booster for my sinks, floors and laundry. If this works out, it'll mean saving a bundle of money on cleaners. I'm only cautiously optimistic.
Consult the Experts. Before starting, I had to figure out how to properly use the stuff. So I went to the Arm and Hammer website. Apparently since before the Civil War, people have associated Arm and Hammer with baking soda. The original company is over 155 years old. The logo -- the familiar hammer-wielding arm of Vulcan, the fire god -- was the idea of the founder Charles Church and his sons back in 1846. Since their family business was one of the first companies to go green with recycled paperboard boxes in 1907, it makes sense that they'd help me out with some earth-friendly instructions.
From their peppy web tips you'd think there are roughly a billion uses for baking soda -- too many to read in one sitting, really. So, in case you are interested, I'm going to hone the list down to 10 and post it below. Some of the suggestions are frankly kind of amusing. I mean, who knew baking soda was an effective body exfoliant??? Maybe I'm just the last to know.
I'll keep you in the loop on how the Baking Soda trial goes. And if you have any tips or advice, by all means, leave a comment! In the meantime ...

10 Ways to Use Baking Soda

Freshen Sponges
Here's something to soak in! Soak stale-smelling sponges in a strong ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda solution to get rid of the mess and bring in the fresh (4 tablespoons of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water).

Food Safe Surface Cleaning
Don’t season with chemicals. Clean your food prep area with natural, food safe ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda instead of harsh cleaners. Sprinkle ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda onto a clean damp sponge or cloth and wipe clean, rinse thoroughly, then dry. Great for counters, stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, microwaves, plastic containers, lunch boxes, back splashes, oven tops, range hoods and more!

Extinguishing Fires
Did you know that ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda can help in the initial handling of minor grease or electrical kitchen fires? That’s because when ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide, which helps to smother the flames. For small cooking fires (frying pans, broilers, ovens, grills), turn off the gas or electricity if you can safely do so. Stand back and throw handfuls of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda at the base of the flame to help put out the fire -- and call the Fire Department just to be safe!

Cleaning Pots & Pans
Eliminate the heavy burden of scrubbing pots and pans! ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda penetrates and helps lift off baked-on, dried-on foods. Shake on a generous amount of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda, add hot water, and dish detergent, let sit for 15 minutes and wash as usual. Keep a Shaker by the sink for convenience!

Fruit and Vegetable Scrub
An apple a day - cleaned the safe way! ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda is the food safe way to clean dirt and residue off fresh fruit and vegetables. Just sprinkle a little on a clean damp sponge, scrub and rinse. Keep an ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda Shaker on your sink for everyday use!

Chlorine Bleach Booster
For thumbs up whites with less harsh chemicals that tend to damage clothes add ½ cup of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda with a ½ cup of bleach (instead of the usual 1 cup of bleach). Do you smell a cover up? We do! Adding ½ cup of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda instead of using a full cup of bleach will reduce smelly chemical odors too!

Deodorize Your Laundry
A hard day’s work or intense workout make for tough laundry needs. Just a ½ cup of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda in the rinse cycle neutralizes and eliminates harsh odors. No perfumey cover-up, just clothes that smell naturally fresh and clean.

Facial Scrub and Body Exfoliant
Are you a fan of the self-tan? Before applying products that give you a ‘glow’, give yourself an invigorating, yet gentle, facial and body scrub with ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda. Removing dead skin cells will leave your skin soft and smooth, perfect before application. Make a paste of 3 parts ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda to 1 part water. Rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate the skin. Rinse clean. Gentle enough for daily use!

Soothing Foot Soak
Here’s a great way to start your home pedicure. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda in a basin of warm water and soak feet. Gently scrub with a paste of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda. The hardest part is deciding which color nail polish you’ll use this week!

Mouth Cleaning
Clean up your mouth! * Use ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda to help keep teeth clean and white! Sprinkle some ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda into your palm, dip in your damp brush, and clean those pearly whites.

All Tips taken directly and verbatim from Arm and Hammer's Informational Website:

Kitchen Wars

It has to happen, sooner or later. The kitchen must be conquered.

When the garbage disposal continues to vomit into the sink
When the fridge opens, and I involuntarily reach to catch whatever might be falling out
When I wander into the pantry and wonder if the food is being held hostage by the chaos
When the pots and pans are stacked so precariously that none can be retrieved without a deafening crash.
When there is not one matching lid for any of the plastic food containers, and a wild pile of both.
When the dishwasher refuses to fully rinse anything on either rack
When there are unrecognizable things lurking in the freezer
It's time to do battle.

I have spent the last few weeks, in short sessions here and there, reclaiming my kitchen. One cabinet straightened here, one pantry shelf there. One pile to Goodwill here, one sink conquered there. Little by little, it's been a slow gaining of ground, and happily, I finally feel like I've won the war. So, this week, in honor of the Kitchen War, the next few posts will be ... well... something from the kitchen.
'Come on back!



"Caution: This sign has sharp edges. Do not touch the edges of this sign.
Also, the bridge is out ahead."

10 Reasons to Hate Voicemail

I have a phone aversion. The phone is not my friend. And, it's a little awkward to talk about. Because, if I admit how much I hate talking on the phone, my friends and family will assume I'm talking about talking to them. It's a tricky phone line to walk, because you will end up thinking you shouldn't call me ... ever. It's a hard thing to speak, because conversation is the lynch pin for relationships. And relationships are the engine of a life lived in community. But the phone ... 'not so much. Admitting a phone aversion is like declaring a hate for all animals, or permanently refusing to eat any form of solid food. These are things normal people just don't do.
Practically speaking, there are reasons. My hearing impairment makes everyday conversation an extremely visual process. Like most hearing-aid-wearers, I rely on facial expressions to understand context of message. And, I need to lip read in order to communicate confidently. Obviously, lip reading isn't really possible on the phone. So, for me, communicating on the phone is the audio equivalent of a legally blind person driving without glasses.
But, it's not just about the hearing. It's something fundamental about talking a lot into the small device. It's weird, but I know I'm not alone in this. And because people matter a whole lot more than my phone aversion, I make it work. Sometimes, a long conversation just needs to happen. Sometimes, it's important to check in and make sure things are ok. Sometimes, I need to be reminded to bring a snack, or be at an appointment. It's true.But there's one phone-ish thing that I can't seem to get functional about.
Voicemail. It's the business of messages that make me an official Phone Stooge. I curse the day the first answering machine was invented. This makes me sound like a total technology throw-back. Like, now, I should start lamenting the loss of 8 track players and video cassettes. But, this is one invention I do not celebrate and will not miss. Answering machines are an enemy of my self-esteem. They sneer at me and taunt me as incompetent.
Again, this is awkward to talk about without making someone feel bad for perfectly natural voicemail or message-leaving behavior. It sounds rude. But, frequent caller friends know: Don't leave me a message. Text me. Call back later. Send an email. Anything but voicemail.
So, just in case there are masses who need me to speak a collective angst, I will post my list. Here is my list of 10 Reasons to Hate Voicemail.

Ten Reasons to Hate Voicemail
  1. The blinking red light makes me feel like I'm in trouble.
  2. I never know what's waiting for me in the message box.
  3. People get mad if I have it, and don't respond quickly.
  4. People get mad if I don't have it, and can't be reached.
  5. I still can't figure out how to retrieve my cell messages without dialing a password.
  6. More than 4 messages and I'm paralyzed; After 4, nobody is getting a call-back.
  7. Setting up a new voice mailbox is like asking for extra homework and no credit.
  8. Nobody ever leaves a happy message.
  9. Messages are business, questions, or reminders. What's fun about that?
  10. Voicemail is a technical master and I refuse to be a slave.
There you have it. Dysfunction exposed. Maybe I can start my own support group, and the opening mantra will be "Hello, my name is Kelley and I am a recovering phone stooge."
Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Then and Now

The Colorado State Fair finishes up this weekend, down in Pueblo. The first time we went to the fair as a family was back in 2001. All six of us smashed into one of those trailers where you dress up like robbers & outlaws and a photographer snaps a couple antique-looking old-fashioned pictures. This week, we returned to the photo trailer and put on the costumes. 8 years later. Can you spot the differences?



3 Bears

Pictured below are the bears that wandered through, yesterday. A mom and two babies -- black and cinnamon. They emptied our neighbor's feeders and lounged around long enough for us to stand around on our patio and enjoy a good long look.
Thanks to Tina for the great pictures!!

Smoke Signals

"That's not clouds. It's smoke."

This haze blew in today after traveling around 800 miles. The smoke is a sky trail from the forest fires that are now burning in California. Somehow, the world feels closer-in when the breeze from a distant disaster blows through your front yard.
I remember back in 1980 when the ash from Mount Saint Helen's volcanic eruption blew across Chicago. I was walking to school and watched planes from O'Hare fly through the haze. The smell of airplane gasoline mixed with the fog of a crisis that had traveled around 1500 miles to cloud us in. It felt like a faraway volcano had sneezed danger right into our back yards.
There is something right about sharing a common fog when something bad happens. There's something communally good about searching the clouds only to be reminded that fellow humans are losing their homes ... or worse. It forces us to squint at the sun and remember why it's hard to see clearly.
Every human being shares the sky and tragedy. Both are common property to us all. So, I guess there's just something right about sharing the smoke.

Picture taken from my front porch around 3 pm today.