Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Back Yard Archaeology

Well folks, the snow from the blizzard has pretty much melted off. Here's how things looked at the height of the snowfall.

Yes... that is a three foot fence you can see just peeking out on the left side of the photo. You can also see my "hail house" in the background.

The hail house performing its duties last summer
The snow was so wet and sticky that it didn't go through the wire mesh, it just stuck on top. I was a bit afraid that the weight might collapse the frame, so I got out and cleared it off. It was too thick and heavy to scrape it off with a broom, so I had to get under it and push upwards. I was a tad bit scared that the whole thing might collapse with me under it, but both the hail house and I emerged unscathed.

And in typical Colorado spring storm fashion, the snow has pretty much all melted off. The only patches left are areas in the shade like this one where the neighbor's snow removal guy piles all of the snow from her driveway.

Anyhow, we seem to be in a pattern of weekly snowstorms now, pretty typical of Colorado in the springtime. Thankfully most of them have only left us with a few inches. The weather was nice this morning so I decided to take advantage of the soft wet soil, and relative warmth to go out and pull a few dandelions before the next round arrives this afternoon.

Whenever I'm out working in my yard, I like to think about the people who lived on this land before I did. A mere 150-200 years ago this area was populated by the Navajo, Apache, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Ute people.

Ute encampment near modern day Florrisant, Colorado

While I know it's not likely to happen, I can't seem to shake the fantasy of finding an arrowhead or some other artifact left by the previous inhabitants.

So anyhow, I plunged my trusty weed wand into the soft soil to break the roots of one of the plants deemed undesirable by modern society, and when I pulled up the weed with a clump of soft dirt, I noticed something a bit unusual. At first I thought it was an oddly colored root, but as I cleared off the dirt I discovered this little guy.

Not exactly the kind of "Indian Artifact" that I'm always hoping for, but interesting nonetheless.
Poor fellow seems to have lost his pony somewhere along the line - I dug around a bit but didn't find anything. I did bring him inside and clean him up though.

I'm not sure how old it is - I would guess 1960's or 70's maybe? I wonder if toys like this are still considered socially acceptable. I would hope not.

Errrr... Ummm... never mind - I just found these and hundreds like them for sale on Amazon - sigh.

It sort of boggles my mind that our ancestors were able to convince themselves that this was "empty land" - as if the people already living here were somehow invisible, or less than human.

I can't help but wonder what future archaeologists will make of the things our culture leaves behind. If some of the predictions are to be believed, the world might be a completely altered place 150-200 years from now. Will there even be a civilization then? What will they think of the things they find?

Strange object of worship?
Well anyhow, the flakes are falling again and I have taxes to do...

Flakes beginning to fall.

So I'll leave you with the song that's been running through my head since this morning's discovery:

What do you think future people will think of us?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pick a Season, Any Season!

Soooo... CatMan and I went for a 45 mile bike ride on Monday. It was 74 degrees and even with my super duper zinc oxide sunscreen, I got a bit of a sunburn. It felt more like summer than spring, and I was starting to think that I really should go find a groundhog to kiss...

Seriously, it's been sooo warm and mild for weeks really... Well, we did have about 6 inches of snow last week, but it melted off in a day or two and the beauty returned quickly. I was actually chuckling yesterday because I was tripping over my boots and snow shovel as I was heading out to hang the laundry wearing my shorts and tank top. The flowers were blooming and things were just lovely...

The Crocus coming up

Buds on the lilac bushes

The first tulips blooming

Not sure what these are, but they're sure pretty

The garlic and green onions were up...

Garlic coming up

Green Onions - I even harvested a few
... and I even managed to get my spinach and peas planted - which, they say one should get done by St. Patrick's Day around here...

Snow Peas all planted...

Spinach and Chard in the ground...

But... it is springtime here in the Mile High City, and that means.... Be Ready for ANYTHING!

As the media is fond of reminding us, March is our snowiest month, but somehow I thought perhaps this was the year we'd skate through... but alas, mother nature wasn't quite done with us yet.

Anyhooo... it's a full on blizzard here.

This photo was a few hours ago, there's more snow now as it's coming down at the rate of several inches per hour. Hard to tell exactly how much is out there since the winds are whipping it into crazy drifts - I'd guess 8-10 inches so far. The airport is closed, the highways are closed, the schools are closed, and a good chunk of the city is without power. Oh my!

And it's that wet, heavy, spring snow that sticks to everything. Seriously, the screens are coated with so much snow that you can barely see out. The cats are a bit confused about where their view went...

... but hey, they'll just have to share...

Well... I guess the peas and spinach will get a nice shot of moisture to help them sprout... They do call them "snow peas" after all!

So I've cranked up the furnace, and I'm settling in for a cozy day of doing taxes - oh the joy! I just hope we don't lose power.

So how's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Four Things

OK... well, June over at Live and Learn did one of those cute "Who am I" posts...  "for the lack of motivation to get up and clean the kitchen." And since I'm always looking for an excuse to avoid cleaning my kitchen, I figured I'd take a whack at it. So here goes:

Four names I go by: Ummm... well, let's see, Cat, EcoCatLady, Almighty (long story), and Booper (my mother used to call me that - imagine my horror when I'd be on the softball field and I'd hear from the stands "C'mon Booper!!")

Four tunes I adore: What?!? I can only choose four? Well, this fluctuates on an hourly basis, so I'll just tell you what's playing in my brain at the moment. "Anything Goes" by Cole Porter, "Colorado" by Chuck Pyle, "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz (God knows why), and most especially "La Vie en Rose" by Edith Piaf (Because CatMan and I are working on an arrangement of it - and I've FINALLY got the lyrics down... Woo Hoo!!)

Four things I hate: Well... I think I covered the food aspect of this fairly thoroughly in my last post, so I'll keep it to non-food things. Getting out of bed (it doesn't matter how much sleep I've gotten, I'm always comatose in the morning), telemarketers (scum of the earth!!!!), greed, loud noises - I mean things that go on and on like chainsaws or snow blowers or jack hammers.

Four Places I have worked: Insurance Agency, Music School, Summer Camp, HOME! :-)

Four Things I Love to Watch: Cats, Movies, Figure Skating, Football!

Four Places I have Visited: Hawaii, Southern France, Norway, Midland, Texas (why? God Why?!?) 

Four things I love to Eat: Hmmm... I think I covered this pretty well in my last post, but actually, there I was going for things I enjoy that others dislike. In terms of stuff I just plain love it would have to be: Pastel de Tres Leches (OMG - it's a Mexican traditional dessert - sponge cake soaked in a mixture of evaporated & condensed milk, frosted with whipped cream and topped with fresh berries. OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!), Drunken Noodles (Thai specialty - of the eat until your stomach hurts variety because it's SOOOO good), Smoked Salmon, Dried fruit

Pastel de Tres Leches

Four favorite drinks: San Pelegrino sparkling mineral water, Cafe au Lait, Green Tea, and I loves me a good Margarita!

Four favorite shows: Hmmm... I think this means TV shows, which I don't really watch - but in terms of shows I've enjoyed over the years it would have to be Northern Exposure, The Wonder Years, Star Trek (mostly Voyager and TNG), and Stephen Colbert

Four favorite Plays: Eee gads, well, I'm not really a "play" kind of a girl, so I'm gonna substitute movies here. Once again, it's hard to pick favorites but here goes: Tootsie, 12 Monkeys, American Beauty, & Some Like it Hot

Some Like it Hot

Four things I'm happily anticipating: SPRING!!! (well, actually summer more than spring, but since spring is the gateway to summer...), my next bike ride with CatMan, playing in the garden, eating breakfast (it's only 1pm...)

Four things I am dreading: Doing my taxes, doing maintenance on the database for one of my websites, cleaning up the basement, the election and the incredible yuck that comes with it

Four items on my bucket list: Well... I totally suck at this sort of thing - I'm not a very "goal oriented" person. But let's see, I'd like to visit the small towns in Italy where my great-grandparents came from, I'd like to complete a "century ride" (100 miles), I'd like to someday have a fireplace or wood burning stove, and I'd like to host a music party at my home some day

Four people I think will respond: Ummm... whatever. As June said, whomever else happens to be avoiding some sort of chore!

OK, so now it's your turn! You could leave your lists in the comments or make your own blog post - if you happen to feel like avoiding more productive things, that is! :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Mysteries of Human Taste

So recent events have set me to thinking about taste, and how incredibly varied it is from person to person. Different folks have remarkably different ideas about which things are pretty, which things sound good, and especially, which foods we like.

This fact was brought home to me recently when my parents were having me over for a birthday dinner. My step-mom wanted to make a fancy dessert and was calling to make sure that it wouldn't cause any allergic problems for me. She was excitedly telling me all about the custard that she had planned, and I tried to sound positive, really I did, but honestly, I just hate custards.

Apparently my voice gave me away, and we settled on something different - which also turned out to be something I'm not terribly fond of - crispy cookies... not sure why, but I just am not a big fan of crispy sweet things, I think they should be soft and chewey. But I was very polite and ate a few remarking how good they were.

But I just find it very interesting that different people have such different ideas about what does and doesn't taste good. I wonder why that is? Does it have to do with associations we have with the food? I'm sure that's part of it, but I think there's got to be something more.

CatMan and I once stumbled upon an article about "supertasters." Apparently different people have different numbers of taste buds. And the more you have, the more strongly you experience flavors. Well, we both counted our taste buds and discovered that while I fall into the "non-taster" category (fewer than average number of taste buds) he is a supertaster (with WAY more taste buds than most people have.) Hmmmm.... No wonder we have such a hard time agreeing on which foods taste good!

But I think the differences extend way beyond the number of taste buds. I remember when I was a kid we did an experiment in science class. We each got a little piece of paper laced with quinine and were instructed to lick it and describe the taste. Lots of the kids reported that it just tasted like paper, but to me it had an incredibly horrible bitter taste. Well, apparently this is genetic - some people can taste quinine and others can't.

It all makes me wonder what other differences there are in how we actually experience the taste of our foods.

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to compare lists of things that we like and dislike, just to see if anything interesting surfaces. So here goes.

Foods I dislike:

  • Chocolate Ice cream - it's sooo bitter! But a chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce is delicious.
  • Potato Chips - they just taste like grease to me
  • Custards of any kind (especially flan - yuck!)
  • Black licorice or anise (seriously - people eat that voluntarily?)
  • Wintergreen or "winter mint" - "blicky mint" I call it
  • Wasabi Mustard - eeeeewwww!
  • Peanuts and especially Peanut Butter (sometimes OK as an ingredient, but I can't stomach them plain)
  • Pears (mostly because of the texture, but I'm not a real fan of the flavor either)
  • Milk (except for in certain very specific situations)
  • ANY artificial sweeteners - how can people stand them?
  • Granny Smith Apples - they literally make my teeth hurt!

Foods that others seem to dislike but I enjoy:

  • Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts etc. (CatMan complains about how bitter they are, but I totally don't get it - they taste sweet to me)
  • Lima Beans (buttery and delicious)
  • Sweet Potatoes (my Dad HATES them, but I think they're yummy)
  • Vinegar - I think most foods are improved by dousing them in a hefty dose of strong vinegar
  • Salt - I crave the stuff - seriously, sometimes I think I need a salt lick - maybe my chronic low blood pressure has something to do with this?
  • Grapefruit - most people I know won't eat it without sugar on it, which I totally can't understand because it's yummy the way it is
  • Coffee - My mother hated it, and so do many of my friends, but I think it's yummy!
  • Tea - especially green tea - Another thing that most people I know like to add sugar to, but I love it plain.
  • Soy Sauce - I think I could drink it straight, but CatMan really dislikes the flavor
OK, that's all I can think of at the moment.

Looking at the list, I'm a bit puzzled - there are things on there that I think taste good, but others I know think taste bitter. Meanwhile there are things I dislike because of the strong bitter taste (anise, wintermint, wasabi) that other people don't seem to find bitter. Very interesting...

Anyhow, I'm curious to know, what's on your lists? Any theories about what factors are at play with this stuff?