First hike of 2014, finally

Sweet little hike today in Echo Canyon, in nearby Colorado National Monument, 1.5 miles out, so a 3 mile round-trip. This hike isn’t listed in the brochure handed out at the Entrance Stations, but it is listed in the newspaper-like Visitor Guide. So blessed to have this preserved beauty in my backyard, 15 minutes from home.

The snow is almost gone, melting and running in a small gurgling stream in the canyon. It seemed such a magical sound today, like a little tinkling ditty announcing Spring is NEAR! It was surprisingly not really cold, so I had fun dipping my Chaco-clad toes in it frequently.

There’s a little up-and-down across No Thoroughfare wash and some slickrock at the start, then the first bit of the canyon has a well-defined trail which degenerates into wash-bottom stumbling, or slogging in the rivulet of snow-melt like I did today. My favorite ol’ turquoise Chacos were perfect, comfy, and suited to the conditions today. I’ve subjected you to some funky singing here, the song was playing in my brain-radio, so I decided to share. “)

[note: Having trouble getting youtube to upload my videos from my phone today. grr. I’ll add them as soon as they’re up.]









Thoughts on Zimmerman/Martin

Time to back away and look at the bigger picture, dig a little deeper than our first gut reactions and assumptions. There are two sides (or more!) to every story – the Media has chosen their one-faceted version with handpicked bits of information tailor-made to direct the conclusions of the easily manipulated and it has worked, dividing our country more and more. Most people seem to have jumped on those meager, twisted “facts” and made outrageous leaps and logic-bereft outcries. Both men have more to their ‘stories’ than we will EVER know. Both men made bad choices that night.

For anyone to state unequivocally that Martin was an innocent kid strolling through his Dad’s neighborhood with Skittles and iced tea in his pocket and that Zimmerman was an overzealous vigilante out looking for a young black person to shoot is idiocy.
For anyone to state that Martin was a drug-addled hoodlum out to steal and rob and do horrible things and that Zimmerman was a heroic beacon of justice protecting his neighbors from evil is equal idiocy.

Both these statements are simplistic and polarizing and would be indicative of each individual’s own prejudices. To choose one narrative over the other and stick to those stories as if one’s life depends on it is foolishness of the highest degree. WE DON’T KNOW THE WHOLE STORY AND WE NEVER WILL.

There are atrocities carried out every day, in this country and others, that are massive orders worse than this event but so many are ignored and buried on the back pages of today’s media all because they don’t fit the agenda of the day – which is overwhelmingly biased and twisted.

Who will advocate for the massive black-on-black violence?
Who will advocate for black-on-white violence?
You don’t know anything about these issues?
Why is that? Ask yourselves.

Look deep to bring out your own prejudices. Examine them before you leap onto any media-driven bandwagon with all your heart and soul.


Finally, words from

“Did the jury make the right call? I just don’t know. The reality is that, above all else, this was an extremely complicated situation with both individuals involved operating from a sense of fear. Trayvon feared he was being followed and George feared another home invasion in his neighborhood. Did it all happen the way the trial painted it? We will never know. We can’t really know, and that is terribly unsettling.
It’s unsettling because we want to close the book. We want answers. Outsiders came looking for a story or looking for a fight. We who live here just want this to be over. We want justice served and the spotlight gone so we can begin to put the pieces of our fractured city together.

As long as the nation peered into our little town they sought for one thing: a villain.

The news, the talking heads, the activists, they just wanted a monster. They wanted someone to blame, someone to hate. They tried to paint George Zimmerman as a hotheaded, racist, wannabe vigilante. If that wasn’t sticking they tried painting Trayvon Martin as a reckless, drug-using thug looking for trouble. Both were horribly wrong, but more people watched, and more people seethed.”

An afternoon visit from a new friend…

This fall I declared my intentions to overwinter my outdoor potted plants, mostly geraniums, without cluttering up my house (not the ideal place for plants such as these, anyway), so I set out make a “redneck” greenhouse. I have a roofed deck on the west side of the house, one side of which gets nice south sun on winter afternoons, so I planned an attempt to close in a small area under this roof to keep my posies from getting frost-nipped during winter. Working with a small budget I purchased a poly tarp and a few plastic drop-cloths, then poked around and found some scrap lumber at home.  I had made good progress over several days in assembling these materials around some stainless work tables I’d acquired inexpensively a couple years before, using a staple gun to attach tarp and drop-cloths to the rafters and the decking, leaving insulating spaces between the inner and outer walls of plastic.

Riley, my 80 pound ‘love-sponge’ Boxer-mix canine, was loafing inside the house on the couch on this sunny Fall day.  I was puttering around the project area making adjustments and revisions, nearly ready to bring the plants inside my new creation when I heard, quite nearby, the raspy meow of a kitty-cat.  Since I’m a big softy for a lost animal I looked around to locate the cat (which is an interesting process for me, with one deaf ear – I can’t tell where a sound is coming from at all!!! I look ridiculous, assuredly, swinging my head into varying positions and trying to tell “is the sound louder with my good ear here… or here… or maybe here… hmmm, maybe if I step this way…”). So, anyway, I was a bit concerned for the cat because there are many dogs in the yards around me and also a fairly busy residential access road right outside my back gate. After some seconds of head wagging and odd-ball movements, I determined that the sound seemed to be coming from just outside the yard, near the road.

I stepped out the back gate, calling, ‘Kitty-kitty.”  The meowing was definitely louder, but I didn’t see the creature immediately.  Then, a beautiful white cat tiptoed out from behind a shrub, in that quick walk/half trot that cats with intentions employ.  She headed straight toward me, meowing plaintively, as if to say, “Oh, there you are! I’ve been looking for you!”  Well, my heart melted! I knelt and held my hand out as she approached with no fear, indeed with such eagerness that an observer would’ve thought we were previously acquainted; she rubbed her head against my hands, then allowed me to lift her, purring warmly.  She quickly grew restless in my arms so, putting her back down on the sidewalk, I invited her into the yard where surely she’d be safer than near the road, appreciating that my dog was in the house – he has no love for cats… well, maybe as chew-toys.  She followed me in willingly and unhesitating, accompanying me to the deck where the ‘construction’ was going on and proceeding to make herself right at home – rubbing against my hands as I worked, twining around my ankles, chasing moths in the corners, carefully investigating all dark corners and high spots, a loving purr rumbling if I picked her up to rub her ears. Her dark blue eyes made frequent contact with mine, by her initiation, as she entreated me to give her lavish love and attention. She stayed near me while familiarizing herself with the area in- and outside my makeshift greenhouse on the back deck, ‘talking’ to me frequently, usually seeming to say, “I’d love for you to stroke my beautiful white coat!” which invitation I obliged, often wrapping my arms around her slender body as she sat on the work table in front of me, surprised at the allowance of this enclosing move. I continued to work on my structure as she lolled in the warmth of the sun-warmed space – such a lovely thing it was, to share the warm fall day with so enjoyable a companion.

Feeling more than a bit guilty about the attention I wasn’t giving my resident oh-so-faithful companion, Riley, I went to bring him out, making sure that Kitty was not in immediate sight. When Riley was young, we had a momma cat and her kitten for a short time. I kept them confined to one room for most of the day and let them explore the house  a while each day. Riley would sit on his bed as they sauntered by, shivering and quivering because he had learned early-on that momma was not to be messed with! I think to this day he’d like to get back at ALL cats because of her ‘mistreatment’. So, that in mind, I was careful about his approach to our guest, keeping a finger looped under his collar.  Shortly before Riley came to meet her, she was lying on the work table on her back allowing me to scratch her tummy; when I watchfully let Riley enter the greenhouse area, he immediately saw her and his eyes clamped on to her movements.  She, on the other hand, was oblivious to him, so much so that I had to physically turn her head in his direction as she clambered from one surface to another.  She looked only mildly surprised, or maybe just mildly interested in him as another adoring worshipper, but, regardless, went on with her explorations.  When Riley’s nose (or teeth!) got too close, she half-heartedly batted at him, and though it seemed that she would be willing to engage in play with him, I knew better and I pulled him back.

Wondering if I was on the brink of a new family addition, I eventually escorted Riley out of the greenhouse and sat with him on his bed on the deck and waited for Miss Kitty, as I’d begun to call her – very unoriginal, I know –  to come out, as I knew she would, to see where we were.  She appeared and I let her sashay out of sight around the corner of the greenhouse before I released the again-quivering Riley thinking, silly me, that things would be calmer outside.  He shot after her as fast as his arthritic joints would allow (not fast at all…) there were some scrambling sounds, some huffing and puffing, many leaves were scattered into the air and the cat was gone, under the fence before I could get up (these things take a bit longer these days). Worriedly and a bit regretful, as I had become quite attached in our short acquaintance, I scampered (okay, hobbled) to the back fence to see her skitter off up the sidewalk and slip under another fence, back to her own life again, presumably.  Riley was somewhat triumphant and perhaps a bit frustrated with the outcome.  I was just a little lonely without the presence of the lovely visitor.  I gave Riley a “Good boy,” because he is, after all, and we headed into the house… the sun was lowering in the sky and the day was cooling.

I hope to be blessed with another visit soon, but for now will content myself with the memory of the afternoon visit from my new friend.

The Stand-off at the Redneck Greenhouse

Starting out… an introduction.

So here’s where I introduce myself… always a good place to start:
I’m KJ Gardner* and I live in Western Colorado with my husband of 30(mumble) years and one golden-honey-colored, gray-muzzled, Boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Riley. Our son, our only kiddo, is a college student in Montana, 700 miles and eleven hours away (but who’s counting); all three of us miss him every day and are a bit lonely in the emptier house. [Update 2014: He’s set to graduate this spring. Wow.]

I’ve worked off and on for many years as a Florist (there’s a teaching subject for a long blog! For now, I’ll jsut advise you never to say, “How fun! You get to play with flowers all day!” ), with a 3-year stint as a “Plant Maintenance tech” – which sounds like I was fixin’ pipes and moppin’ floors! But actually what I did was tend and maintain live plants at businesses; from the Airport to the Credit Union to the local Red Robin. I dragged (okay, rolled) a green water tank around with all my tools-of-the-trade – trimming, dusting, polishing, and of course watering.  Most people at these places called me “the plant lady” or the “flower girl” – nice, huh?  :p  I made some good friends in that job. Also was a substitute bus driver for a few years just before my son was born – you remember how we treated subs in the classroom? Yeah, it’s worse on a bus when they’re all sitting behind you…

Gardening is a favorite pastime of mine – organic, sustainable, environmentally aware. These can be buzzwords or they can have real meaning, depending on how they’re used.  But I’ve used the word ‘Garden’ in the title here because of the wider meaning of a gardener as a nurturer, and carried that further to mean someone who cares for not only their specific garden in their local environs, but who also cares for the earth – the only Garden we have in which to live, work, play and thrive. So, in that spirit, I hope to share information and thoughts on how we may more carefully and thoughtfully maintain our ‘Garden’ – and ourselves, as caretakers.

I’ll be posting on other topics that I am excited about, concerned about, passionately interested in… environment, justice, music, faith, animals, hope, maybe a few political petitions or opinion pieces. Plus some posts on my meanderings – hiking, jeeping, travels…

Through all this, I hope to find a voice that is meaningful, humorous, realistic, and one that people will find interesting, informative and inspiring.

*My “pen name” – you won’t find that name in the phone book (well, you might, but it won’t be me!). Wait, do people even use phone books anymore? Okay, modern version: you won’t find me by googling.