Thursday, August 16, 2018

On the street where I live

  

It’s the middle of August and last Monday morning a lone white car showed up, parked close to my house and the man inside it just sat there…waiting. Before long others showed up and before I knew it the narrow street that borders my house to the west was swarming with bodies wearing flourescent vests, ready to go to work.  They brought with them all sorts of big machines that I can’t name properly but that were capable of cutting holes in the concrete street, breaking it up into huge chunks and scooping it into a dump truck to be hauled away. Crash, bang and rattle. The work was hard, looks dangerous and was loud enough that all of them wore earplugs. Soon they were busy digging deep into the street to reach the old water main.

That was the day I’d planned to haul away two big truckloads of branches from my backyard but the chances of even getting a truck into my driveway but I thought the chances of even getting a pick-up truck into my driveway were not looking good.  I was wrong. The workmen were gracious enough to allow my friend and his truck to pull in and even helped us to load it, not once but twice. No doubt hey were happy to have us out of their way as soon as possible.

Replacing the 100-year-old water main on my street is going to take several weeks and during that time I will have no access to my garage. It is a tiny price to pay for the privilege of observing these workers from Connell Resources as they go about their business. They are on the job by 7 a.m. and don’t leave until well after 5 p.m. They pause only for a lunch break during a long hot day of strenuous work. When one of them noticed me hauling my groceries from my fairly faraway parking place, he offered to help.

They are self-sufficient, having brought along a porta potty, ice chest, and even a big trash bag.  They seem so skilled at their work. Eventually they will remove all the concrete from the street and when the new water main is in, they will replace the surface with asphalt. I can’t imagine how all that process will go, but I am anxious to watch as it unfolds. By then, I’m betting we’ll be friends.

It seems like such a whole lot of work and effort to update this utility. And my street is only one block out of a whole city that must be suppied with a  reliable supply of water.

I will never again take the flow of water from my faucet or my shower or my dishwasher or my washing machine or my toilet for granted.






Friday, August 10, 2018

The Mountain Avenue Mile

Billed as a “community run,” the Mountain Avenue Mile in Fort Collins more than lives up to its billing. It’s all inclusive featuring divisions for fun runners, a children’s competitive race, open males and females, a “beauty and the beast” division for men and women over 40, and a 4-person relay.

The race was started, and for many years organized by Jane Welzel, a nationally-known runner who made her home in Fort Collins and devoted much of her time and energy to supporting running. Her life was cut short four years ago, but two races and a track workout she established continue in her honor.

I love this race. It starts a block from my house on Mountain Avenue. It’s held on a weekday evening in August. Runners gather to enjoy each other’s company and to cheer each other on. The course goes east on Mountain Avenue toward town for most of the way, then takes a left turn to finish close to a small park. Party time at a local restaurant follows.

Long distance runners don’t often get a chance to compete in a one-mile race. Going all out is a different, and at least for me, a pretty painful experience. But how much fun! I had quite a few years’ “experience” (as in more than 40 years) over the youngest of the 37 over-40 runners, but no matter. It was a kick to participate.

2018 drew the largest field ever. Thanks to the loyal volunteers of the Fort Collins Running Club, the Mountain Avenue Mile is here to stay.

Eight-year-old Riley posed with her mom, Andrea before the start of the kids' competitive race. She did a mile in 8:40!

Below the open men get ready to go. The winner did the mile in 4:32.


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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Bounty

The generous season has begun. Apples are falling off the tree, begging to become applesauce or apple pie; the cucumbers are hiding out under big leaves and growing way too big; the tomatoes are ripening all at once; the green beans need picking every day; the basil needs trimming and converting into pesto. I won’t even mention the squash that has seen fit to take over my compost pile--way beyond its assigned territory. And all the while, the weeds are following suit—growing like crazy overnight.

Such a bounty. And it all comes at once.  I’m thinking our job is to harvest all we can, process and freeze as much as we are able, then share with friends and neighbors before we dig in and devour what’s left with joy and appreciation.

This time of year, I don’t go to the grocery store as often. My diet changes. I get a kick out of making meals from what my grandson calls “yard food.” It’s not always his favorite fare as he leans toward burgers and fries. But it is only temporary.

Soon leaves will fall, frosty nights will put an end to the growing season and the massive growth in my backyard will disappear. It is was great fun while it lasts, made more precious by the fact that it will not be around for long.


Year-round garden bounty might be a bit too much to take!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Family Reunion

Last Saturday afternoon I had the special pleasure of enjoying what had to be the world’s shortest-ever family reunion. It occurred in the middle of a Frontier Days rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My four children, Kristin, Kurt, Jeff and Jeni, watched some pretty spectacular bronc riding and steer wrestling while spending a little more than an hour in the same spot together. Kristin orchestrates a week-long gathering for every rodeo performance for her employer, Century Link, who sponsors a box each year. Kurt recently left a 10 year stint in Tokyo and moved to the wilds of Cheyenne. Jeff came from Florida to facilitate a Disney Institute program at Colorado State University on Monday, and Jeni, on her way to an Ag Task Force meeting in Los Angeles that very day, left Fort Collins and took a quick detour to Cheyenne on her way to the airport in order to make the family gathering complete.

Brief and chaotic as it was, there was something special, something touching and memorable, about our coming together for me. These kids of mine are all in their fifties now, all deeply involved in their work and in encouraging and supporting their collective dozen children as they mature and make their own ways in the world.


I felt incredibly lucky to be present with them all as a background of blasting music and shouts of spectators did their best to drown out our words. No matter. What was important was knowing that we were all there together.



Kristin Lee, Jeni Arndt, Libby James, Jeff James, Kurt James

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lookin' on the bright side

The other day I was looking through Bill Moyers “A World of Ideas,” published in 1989. It is billed as conversations with thoughtful men and women about American life today and the ideas shaping our future.

In the course of talking with historian Barbara Tuchman in the Watergate era, Moyers said to her, “You said that the American presidency has become a greater risk than it is worth. You said, “It’s no longer my country right or wrong, but it’s my president, right or wrong, so that the loyalty has been transferred from the country to the man, from the institution to the incumbent.”

And Tuchman responds, “No man can support that now. The only person whoever did was George Washington, who’s my example of a true hero… She went on to say that an earlier revolutionary hero, William the Silent of the Netherlands, is supposed to have said, “It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere.” She thinks that is a wonderful sentiment and notes that the Dutch revolt against the most powerful empire of Europe took 80 years.

Washington had faith in Providence, Tuchman says. He believed that no matter what we’ve suffered and what is going wrong, Providence will bring it right, as it so often has before.

It is comforting that while we tend to despair over these times, they aren’t new, times have been worse, and if we are to believe George Washington, Providence will prevail.


Meanwhile, it is glorious summertime. Make the best of it.