Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day ~ A Time of Remembrance

Memorial Day,
day of remembrance,
was first set aside in 1866 as a day to remember those soldiers whose lives were lost in the Civil War.
It was celebrated on May 30 each year.

I remember as a child that we sometimes called this day Decoration Day.
Over the years, I think the meaning of the day has evolved.
Some see the day as a day to honor those killed in the service of their country.
Others see the day as a day to remember those whom they have lost to death.
They remember them by visiting their graves and leaving flowers.
Others see it as the beginning of summer and celebrate it by having a barbecue.

Memorial Day
Evergreen Cemetery

In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday designated to be celebrated each year
 on the fourth Monday of May.
I found a short video about the history of Memorial Day that you might find interesting.

For me, and for many of my family members, Memorial Day Weekend is fraught with sad memories.
Five years ago, my daughter's life ended in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 29, 2010.
This day fell on the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend.
It seems we always have two anniversary reminders of her death.
The actual date, and the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

This year, I found myself alone on Memorial Day.
Jim had to work.
Family did not gather as we sometimes do because of busy schedules and bad weather.
I chose to spend the day remembering those no longer with us by visiting the cemetery alone.

My mother asked me to leave some flowers on her mother's grave.
I was so touched when she told me how she wished
 she could take some flowers to her mother's grave.

I never knew my grandmother, Lulu Castle Townsley.  
She died from breast cancer at the age of sixty-seven in 1941,
 four years before I was born.
An independent woman, she homesteaded by herself in Northern Colorado before she married my grandfather at the age of 35.
Throughout her life she worked very hard to support herself and her family.
As a child, she made bread for the family while her own mother worked when her father died when she was nine years old.  Mother told me her mother had to stand on a chair to reach a counter where she would knead the bread.
Lulu Castle Townsley had to fend for herself as a homesteader.
She drove a horse and buggy across the plains to town, Pine Bluffs, Wyoming,  with a hoe beside her in the wagon which she used to kill the rattle snakes that would get entangled in her wagon wheels.

She was forty-two years old when my mother, her only child, was born.
She worked throughout my mother's childhood as
a milliner,
a cook,
a caretaker and cook for sanatoriums for TB patients,
as a seamstress.

Even though I never met my grandmother, she has always been a strong role model for me.
My grandmother was born 141 years ago and has been gone for 74 years.
It makes me so sad to think that my mother only had her mother for 25 years.
I have been blessed at age 70 to still have my mother with me.

As I stood at my grandmother's gravesite, I told her that her daughter, 
my mother, is still here with us in the land of the living.
She will turn 99 years old at the end of the week.
I told my grandmother not to expect her to join her anytime soon.

My mother comes from pioneer stock,
yet she is a very modern woman with old fashioned values
 who always stays up to date in all that is going on in the world.
She is an amazing woman.
I think her mother would be very proud of her.
I know I am.

Albert, Lulu, and Alberta Townsley
Woodland Park, Colorado

My mother
Alberta Townsley French
December 2014
age 98

Today, I left flowers on the graves of my maternal grandmother, my maternal great-grandmother and her son, my great-uncle.
All are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado

My father and my daughter are buried not far from the other family grave sites.


I didn't get over to the other part of the cemetery where my paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles are buried.
I explored the older area of the cemetery because of its historical significance.

General William Jackson Palmer,
who served in the Civil War,
and then founded the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is buried in this cemetery.

I love all of the old structures on the grounds of the cemetery.
This is the old chapel that located just to the north of where General Palmer is buried.

As I got out to take a photo of the chapel, I saw a blue bird sitting on top of the  commemorative plaque in front of the building.
He flew away before I could get a better photo of him.
Can you see him?
At first I thought he was a small robin.
Then I saw his blue feathers and wings as he flew off.


Nearby, is this interesting sculpture.
The inscription reads,
Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
But to support them after.
~ William Shakespeare
from "Timon of Athens" (act 1, scene 1)

Today, as I spent the day remembering those no longer with us,
I also was reminded of those whom have supported me throughout the past five years.

One of Julie's dear friends ran the Boulder Boulder.
When she finished the race, she posted how Julie was with her during the race.
Her post was a reminder of how many dear friends Julie had in her lifetime.
Those friends will never know how much their love and support has meant to me and to her family.

I also think and remember so many of my dear friends and family members whom have been there for me during these past five years.
Many of you are blogging friends whom I have never met in person.
You have walked with me through many dark days.
You have spoken words of encouragement and love.
You have helped me find healing.
You have listened to me far more than I have listened to you.
You have supported me.
You have not left me to flounder through dark days alone.
Thank you.
I love you all.
It is good to have a day of remembrance.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Springtime in the Rockies

When I think of spring in Colorado, I think of nouns like
or adjectives like
unpredictable, capricious, and fickle.

I consider myself an authentic Colorado mountain girl.
I was born at the foot of Pikes Peak,
and graduated from high school at the foot of Mount Massive.
I know I should not be surprised if it snows in April, or in May, or even in June.
I've seen it snow on the Fourth of July in the mountains.

Today, I live at 6,659 feet above sea level.
The air in the morning is a bit nippy and brings back memories of spring days in the mountains when I was a young girl and living at 10, 152 feet above sea level.
I wish I had words to describe how that cool breeze coming down my valley from the mountain feels.
All I can tell you is that it whispers to me that it is 
springtime in the Rockies.
That is code for:  Expect anything from cold, to rain, to sunshine, to hail, to snow all in one day, or even all in one hour.

I have never planted annuals before Mother's Day.
In fact, I usually don't plant  much of anything until we are at least half way through May.
Several weeks ago, my daughter asked me what to do about aphids on her rose bush.
She sent me a photo of the plant.
She lives in Utah.
She'd already trimmed the rose back and it had a few buds.
I never cut back my roses in Colorado until mid May.


Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~ Sydney Edison

When I lived in Pueblo, Colorado at 4,692 feet, I planted sooner than I do where I now live.
To be honest with you, I wasn't even sure I would plant anything this year.  
The deer, the rabbits, and the climate have caused me to
rethink everything I ever knew about gardening.
If card carrying members of the Colorado Master Gardeners came by my house right now,
they'd make me turn in my certificate that says I am a master gardener.
Let's just say that gardening where I now live is a big challenge for me.
Venturing out into the yard last week, when we finally had a break in the rain, I went looking to see how the perennials I had planted last year were doing.
I could see that my neighbor's peonies were up several inches as I looked out my window, so I was anxious to see what mine were doing.
I'm always so excited when I see peonies peeking out of the ground in early spring.
The peony I planted last year did not come up.

The poppies have not come up.
The larkspur did not come up. 
I don't even have blue flax coming back.
It looks like the hyssop didn't make it either,
nor did the lavender plants.
I tried just planting a few things last year as I get to know my new gardening space.

The deer had eaten huge chunks out of the dwarf Alberta spruce I'd planted.
It is all so disheartening.

At least the clematis was coming back to life and growing like crazy.
Also, I was thrilled to see that some of the lily of the valley I transplanted from my mother's yard last spring are coming up.
The original beginning lily of the valley plants that I dug from my mother's yard had come from my grandmother's yard in Colorado Springs over forty years ago.
As I dug up the plants,
transported them over 300 miles,
and planted them again,
I felt like I was bringing those much love plants home and reestablishing my roots in my hometown.
Lily of the valley bouquet for my mom.
Flowers from her yard.
May 2014
Thank goodness those plants at least made it.

Even with all the vicissitudes of spring weather,
and with my feelings of defeat when it comes to establishing a new garden in what sometimes feels like a hostile  gardening environment,
spring conjures up dreams of gardens yet to be.
On the first day that I felt like driving and being out and about after my recent pacemaker implant,
I headed off to the garden shop.
It is spring.
I had to dig in the dirt.

I'm going to try again this year to get something established around here that looks somewhat like
a semblance of a thought and care went into the landscaping around my home.

I loaded up potting mix for planters even though I don't particularly like to plant in planters.
At least the hanging baskets and such can't be reached by the deer and rabbits.
I then bought some feather meal.
They say that is good for discouraging the deer from nibbling while also giving plants some nitrogen.
I couldn't find Deer Scram that Kathy at Kathy's Peace told me to buy,
so I bought the highly recommended Bobbex Deer Repellent.
By the time, I had some garden soil, fertilizers, and deer repellent, I had already just about broken the bank when it comes to my "flower money."
It is still early, so I didn't want to plant much yet, but I did get some creeping phlox and candy tuft to plant along the stone wall next to the house.
I also bought some peony bulbs.
I haven't given up on those yet.
Everyone else around me is growing peonies, and the deer leave them alone.

As I head into spring, I will be writing a new chapter in my gardening biography.
Let's hope it is not a short chapter full of disappointment and discouragement.

A Spring in My Step

I feeling so much better now that I am a bit over three weeks out from getting a pacemaker.
Today, I did my first exercise class.
I went to a Zumba Gold class.
It was so much fun!
I'm still not allowed to wave my left arm in the air over my head, but I was moving my feet as fast as I could while I tried to do the steps.
My heart behaved and my recovery after the exercise was excellent.
I felt great.
The goal of Zumba Gold is to build cardiovascular fitness, coordination, flexibility, and balance.
I need all of that!
My hips and thighs told me I had not exercised recently,
but my mind told me it is good to have fun moving to the music.
Have you ever tried Zumba?
Do you enjoy it?

What do you do for exercise?
I love to walk.
I also like group exercise better than working out on machines.
I like to do Pilates and really enjoy doing Pilates on the reformer.
Have you ever done Pilates?
I've done it for years.
You'd think I'd be better at it by now.
I'm not much of a yoga fan, but I do enjoy restorative yoga.
I hope to go to that class tomorrow.
I can hardly wait until I'm released to get in the pool again.
In three more weeks I can get in the pool.
I love to do water Pilates.
Have you ever tried that?
It is really fun.
At my exercise club, they even have water Zumba.
I think I'll try that soon.


As I write, the rain is steadily hitting my roof overhead.
We are supposed to have rain for the next few days.
That is ok.
In Colorado, we are also prone to drought.
I am thankful for the rain.
Soon, I hope to be out there digging in the dirt again and starting another year of learning how to deal with new environmental challenges in the place that I now call home.