Saturday, July 12, 2014

Thumbs Aren't Green Yet!

Lloyd and I are not gardeners.  We've made a half-hearted attempt a couple of times over the years.  We love fresh produce but just didn't have the time or inclination to make gardening a part of our lives.  This year, for the first time in over 44 years, Lloyd is not working, we don't have a bunch of kids around making demands on our time and energy, and there was just no excuse for us not to try to grow some stuff.

Not wanting to dig up our yard in case this foray into earthiness didn't 'take', we opted for container gardening.  And since arthritic knees don't like to be crawling on the ground planting, weeding and harvesting, we were thrilled when we found some hip-high planters that I could plant, weed and harvest without even bending over (it pays to be short too).

Here's what we came up with.

These are my yellow beans...lots of yellow beans.  On either
side of them are tomatos in large pots.
I kind of went overboard on the beans. I thought that if I bought a packet of seeds, I should plant them all.  So I did, and they all grew.  Luckily they'll freeze easily.

They're already flowering and starting to produce little beans.  Its a very exciting process, don't you think!

Green beans are growing here.  That little green gauge in the center lets us
know the state of the soil - dry to wet.  We water accordingly.

Our third container is growing carrots and onions.  I know, I know...the
carrots need to be thinned.  But I hate pulling the little babylings out.
Every time I go out to admire them I take a few out so maybe soon
there'll be room enough for some nice sized carrots to grow.

Our three tomato plants are doing very well, each one producing
multiple fruits.  I'm in a quandry though.  Lloyd and I love green tomato chow.
Should I pick the tomatoes while they're green and make some of the
delicious pickles, or let them ripen up.  It's early in the year so there's
lots of time for them to become red, but then I won't have my chow.
What to do, what to do...

We have two pots with strawberry plants.  The one on the left was pretty
much destroyed by hail several weeks ago, but it's trying valiantly
to make a comeback.  The smaller pot contains strongly, healthy
looking plants which are starting to produce berries.

Lloyd and his friend spent from 10am one day until 2am the next day
builting this brick planter, lined with a wooden box.  It's a beautiful
piece of work.  Next year Lloyd wants to grow squash in it, but for
this year we decided to add some color to the yard by planting some
bright and happy flowers.

Purple Petunias

Beautiful Geraniums

Black Petunias, which look purple to me

Pink Petunias

And sunny Marigolds
We also had some beautiful multi colored begonias in the planter too but they didn't fare well during the
hail storm and sadly are no longer photo worthy.

All of these planters are located along our fence where they get plenty of sunshine.
Next year we'll add another one or two along the back of our garage you can
just see there in the lower right, behind the new pink hydrangea bush.  Assuming,
of course, that we want to continue this venture next year.  I rather think we

To the left of the first planter here, Lloyd planted two rose bushes, flanking a potentilla which we thought was dead.  Lloyd went to work cutting all the dead branches off and came to the center of the bush where there was some green showing so he left it there and it seems to be making a comeback.

Pink rose, potentilla and red rose

And last, but not least, my hydrangea.  I've wanted one of these since I first saw them years ago on a trip to Vancouver.  They seemed to be growing everywhere but I had never seen them before.  I sure hope this one survives.
So, with the exception of a few shrubs, that's the extent of our garden this year.  I feel pretty sure that next year will see it expanded and enlarged, with greater varieties of flowers and vegetables.

How does your garden grow?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sinister Seven 2014

No, the race was not named for my kids...although it does seem like a good nickname for them collectively.

The Sinister Seven Ultra Marathon and Relay is an annual event in the Crowsnest Pass in the Canadian Rockies.  Its a killer of a course where the runners go up and down and around mountains, splash through multiple river crossings, often run into cougars and/or grizzly bears, fight pain and fatigue and finish on an incredible endorphin high that only an ultra runner can I'm told.

When some of our kids decided last year to take on the challenge of this year's Sinister Seven, I cringed and started to worry.  Some of them had never run before...of the team of seven, three had never raced.  But they all started training...running through the cold of our Alberta winters, the heat of the summer, and everything in between.  Here's the lineup before the run began.  I was reminded to mention that the team got their name from my blog, Pat's Ramblings.  They called themselves the Ramblers, knowing full well I'd blog about them.

Our nephew, Noah; SIL Greg, Daughter Mary, Daughter Sara,
SIL Curtis, and son Michael.  For Noah, Curtis and Mike, this was
a first-time run.

Lloyd and I weren't there to see the first three runners off so I don't have pictures of them except for some I stole from Facebook.  Noah did the first leg, running 16.5km (10.25 mi) and got the team off to a good start (they did the Sinister Seven as a relay).

 Second up was our big chiropractor Curtis who looks like he'd be more at home on a wrestling team.  He completed his 16km (9.94 mi) in great time.


We arrived just as Mary completed the third leg of 35km (21.75mi) and Sara set off on the fourth leg (17km (10.56mi).

Mary finishing with daughter Amy photographing

Mary had the most frightening encounter of the day.  As she was running up her mountain, a huge grizzly bear came out onto her trail about 30 metres ahead of her.  Mary immediately turned around and started running back down the trail (they were told never to turn your back on a bear but fear takes over reason).  She met three male runners coming up the trail.  They formed a group around her and making as much noise as they could the four of them went back up the trail, effectively scaring the bear off.  She said that really got her adrenalin going and she made excellent time finishing her leg of the relay.

The best picture of the day is the one of Mary finishing her leg and passing off to Sara, and telling Sara about the bear.

"You saw WHAT???"
Sara's expression (turquoise) says it all.

I'm going to say right now that I have more pictures to post of Sara than of any others because with the length of the legs and the timing, hers was the only leg Lloyd and I were there to actually see coming in.

She did two legs, the first one was 17 km (10.56 mi) followed immediately by a 29.6 km (18.39mi) leg. She ran from around 5 pm until 1:30 am, through mountains and rivers and mud.  She relayed pictures to us via her cell phone along the route.  She was still fresh after the 17 km and after five minutes of blister bandaging, shoe changing (running across rivers tends to make them wet!) and gulping down orange segments she was off again.

Surrounded by family and friends, Sara is getting her blisters treated

because running in wet shoes is hard on the feet.

Fresh oranges and she's off again.

She almost lost her shoe in the sticky muck.

It was very frightening having her out on the mountain in the dark.  The runners had small headlamps on their foreheads that just allowed them to see the ground immediately in front of them.  They didn't see a hill looming until they were on it, a river in front of them until they were in it.  And of course the light in the middle of the forest attracted all the bugs in the area.

This is a selfie she took.  It's incredibly dark except for the light on her forehead.
Not my idea of fun.

 When she made it to the transition area after midnight, Greg was waiting there to begin his grueling 36.2 km (22.49 mi) leg.  I can't imagine beginning a race on a mountain in the pitch dark.

This picture was taken while we were waiting for Sara to
return after her first leg.  Greg is pointing over his shoulder at 'his' mountain.  

His run took him around the base of the mountain, up into the forest and beyond, into the snow that you can just see above the trees, and around the smaller mountain behind the first one.  When he finished just after 6am he claimed it was the best run of his life.  Runners!!!

Greg finishing 

Then it was Mike's turn to finish up with the final 10.7km (6.65 mi) leg.  His run started with a steep long climb and an even harder run down into the valley but he did it like a pro in great time.

A colorful finish to this year's Sinister Seven

And congratulations from those who matter most.  He's his
boys' hero now.

Our Super Seven Sinister Seven Runners with their medals
Curtis, Sara, Mike, Mary, Greg and Noah
Way to go guys!

This final shot sums it all up.