Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Tomato

Our growing season is way ahead of schedule here. Waaay ahead. Our corn is already mid thigh high. The peonies were all a month ahead of time and distant memory. But yesterday we had our first full sized, ripe tomato. I don't think I've had very many tomatoes from this area even in July so to have one in May is incredible.
I should have taken a picture but Ralph and Char and Marilyn had it cut up and on grilled hamburgers before I thought of it.
We all spent an enjoyable weekend in Normal Ill at their Granddaughter's high school graduation. Good times and great party. Really neat folks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No Groaning Please

A man takes his goldfish to the veterinarian. The vet asks "What seems to be the problem here?" The man says "I think this goldfish might have epilepsy."
After peering into the bowl a little while the vet says, "He seems normal to me."
The man indignantly said, "Sure he seems normal, thats because you haven't taken him out of the water yet."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fairy Dusted

I'm really getting to adore this modern technology. I spent years trying to tell people that all they had to do in order to use email was get a computer, sign up for a dial up connection and they'd be in. I was always thrilled when I got something from one of my brothers or sisters. "Look," I'd say to Marilyn. "We got mail and best of all it's free." It didn't cost us a thing. Yeah, right.
Now I get my email both at home and on my not-so-smart phone. Every few minutes during the day I now get unbelievable deals right in my pocket, all kinds of new and different ways to save money on shoes and siding and furniture and the latest joke to be circling the globe.Just yesterday I was huffing and puffing while hoisting a sweep auger into a grain bin. Then it happened, I got an advertisement for a "spot cooler" on my phone. How did they know I was sweating?
I also received notification by the newspaper in Omaha that texting or sending a picture with your smart phone is not the best way to contact a 911 operator. Yes, I stared at the grain bin wall for a bit. A picture! How would you accomplish that feat? "Dear 911, in the attached photo please find the picture of my right hand and notice also that it is no longer attached to my right arm. Please send an ambulance." Later in the hospital you'll come to realize that it's a good thing you're left-handed or you couldn't have sent the text.
I was warned about even wading off into the dark and murky waters of smart phones. My sons use them but when I called and said, "Dan, Marilyn and I can buy one and get one free, what do you think?" After a long and awkward pause he said, "Uh, Dad, there's a pretty steep learning curve when you go to these phones. Are you sure you have the patience for this?" Then I yelled, no, spoke forcefully into the phone and said, "What the heck is that supposed to mean?" I'm not sure but I think he quietly said to himself, "precisely."
We've been inventing new words ever since we made the plunge. I will tell Marilyn, "Your phone just Droided you," alluding to the deep voiced "DROID" the phone makes when it needs to inform me that I have a text or an email from some place like "Mens Big and Tall." (No, I'm not tall.)
I had to change my notification sound to something besides Droid because I couldn't always hear it when a machine was running, so I experimented and settled on a tone with various tinkling sounds. The tone was titled "Fairy Dust." So, of course Marilyn will bring me my phone as she did just now and says, "Here, your phone just Fairy Dusted you." That better not have been a giggle I just heard as she walked away. It's also sort of embarrassing to be standing with a group of farmers at the elevator and have someone say with alarm, "What was that?" "Cliff, do you have Tinker Bell in your pocket." I tell them, "Look, at least I can hear it."
In my earliest recollections, I recall going with my parents who were born in 1905 and 1907 to visit some of their elderly friends. Otto and Lilly lived way back in the hills and were neighbors to my folks at one time. They fairly marveled at the new technology, just as I do today. Their new-fangled communication device hung on the wall and had a hand crank on the side. The crank was the "notification" device used to "Droid" the operator who may or may not be in bed depending on the time of day or night you lit her up.
The question is whether or not we're making progress. This coming from a guy who remembers a time when we all didn't need to carry a personal supply of high priced water with us at all times or a smart phone.
The progress is indeed questionable in societal terms. I now get phone calls from my sons at the Body Shop that goes like this. I say "Hello," and then a customer walks into their shop and the reply is, "I'll have to let you go Dad. I'll call you back." Calls like that are hard to explain to your wife. "That was Tom calling to say he doesn't have time to talk."
When I was a lad if someone was on the phone, it was important. "He'll be with you in a bit, he's on the phone, it's long distance." "Oh, long distance, I can come back another day."
Now everyone's on the phone, it's the reason we have nothing to talk about when we get home at night. "Yes dear, I know that, remember, you called me and you sent me a text about it."
This day is now complete; Marilyn just rushed out the door to go to work and texted me that she loves me. I was fairy dusted just as I heard the door slam shut.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Follow Up!

 Click On:
To watch the short video produced for and about my buddy Ralph by the Arbor Day Foundation.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

The News

On Thursday night last, we were blessed with a visit from Ralph and Char Campbell.
We went out to eat at a local eatery and the next day they traveled to Nebraska City where we caught up with them Saturday noon. It is the national headquarters for all things trees. The actual home of Arbor Lodge and a kind of sojourn every person in the forestry business wishes to make one day.
Ralph is recently retired from the Colorado Forest service after an illustrious career that found him eventually focusing on urban and community forestation.
A few months back we got word from Char that Ralph would be getting an award from the National Arbor Day Foundation at a ceremony and that we were going to be invited so please save the date.
That awards ceremony was Saturday night at the Arbor Lodge and Convention Center in the middle of an expansive display of trees that is home to the Arbor Lodge and Farm.
They do a good job of keeping this a special night for the award recipients. They give out about 15 national awards to big corporations, states, and a few special individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of tree planting and forestry. Ralph was one of those.
The reception was impressive enough and I was in awe of Ralph as he worked the room. He seemed to know almost everyone there by name and there was a lot of back slapping and congratulations to him by his colleagues.
The full scope of the importance of the award Ralph was about to get didn't hit me until the lights went down, the spot came up on John Rosenow the long term Chairman of the Arbor day foundation. He spoke briefly and presented the first award. The lights went down and a 3 minute video on the accomplishements of the  first recipient came up on the big screen. A slick presentation indeed and then they announced the man seated directly in front of Ralph. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. That right there got my attention. Ralph has hit the big time. Nothing changed my opinion of that as representatives from big corporations, cities, civic groups and a few individuals all received a nice video presentation and took thier moment in the lime light.
The program said:
Retired Urban Forester Ralph Campbell of Westminster, Colorado, will receive the Frederick Law Olmsted Award in recognition of his lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at the state level. A 35-year veteran of the Colorado Forest Service, Campbell was an active leader in urban forestry. He helped establish Colorado's Urban and Community Forestry program, and later helped develop the Colorado Tree Coalition, which has received 425 grants worth $650,000, and matched them with $7.5 million in community contributions. He has also sponsored seasonal tree planting for underprivileged youth in the Denver area. In 1995, Campbell was named an Outstanding Performer by the Colorado Forest Service, the highest possible honor.
Above is Ralph accepting the award on stage from the CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation. The below pic was taken after the banquet.
We were treated like royalty by the fondation simply by virtue of being in Ralph's party. The group below are all colleagues of his who took the time to travel from all parts of Colorado and Nebraska to pay tribute to Ralph.
Below is Ralph and Char in front of  Arbor Lodge originally owned by J. Sterling Morton. Following that was a picture taken immediately after the banquet in the lobby. We found this coffee bar with a big mirror and so the image is a kind of relection of the four of us.

                                                     Ralph, Cliff, Char, and Marilyn
We were glad to be included in this event. The two Campbells are kind of 'understated' folks but when pressed a bit by me, Char admitted, "Yeah, this is a pretty big deal." After seeing Ralph's peers at the awards ceremony, that being companies, Governors, States and Giant Corporations from all parts of the United States and around the world I could see this was the real thing and we were once again proud to say, "Yeah, we're with the Campbells."
I suspect the video they showed that night about Ralph's work will eventually be put up on Arbor Dar Foundations website and when it does, I'll let you know.