28 February 2017

Orange flowers add zest to gardens


Orange adds zest to your flower beds, borders and container gardens. If you're looking for some extra pop in your garden designs this year, consider adding some juice orange flowers or foliage. You need not be a Denver Broncos fan to appreciate the tropical allure of this color.

17 February 2017

Vermicomposting, a small set-up with large returns


If you want something for your garden or houseplants and for our environment, consider vermicomposting. A small set-up fee of less than $100 will yield returns of highly nutritious worm castings for your plants and at the same time will reduce the amount of trash you add to the landfill.

What's more, vermicomposting takes up very little space, so it's perfect if you live in an apartment and don't have access to curbside composting.

In researching this article for The Denver Post, I met a man who shared all his secrets for successful vermicomposting. My article includes a helpful video.

And don't worry, a healthy vermicomposting system has no odor or pests. And the worms do not escape.

30 January 2012

Visit Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum in Vail

Mention that you’re from Colorado, and one of the first questions you might field is “Do you ski?” The state of Colorado is synonymous with skiing; and Colorado has produced some of the world’s best skiers, coaches, and alpine resorts.
Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame in Vail, Colorado, showcases an educational and entertaining look at the history and heritage of the snow sports in the Centennial State. Located in the Vail Village parking structure, the nonprofit museum does not charge admission, but appreciates donations and members. Stop in any day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to gain a historic perspective on the development of the ski industry in Colorado, followed by snowboarding.
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum collection includes charming vintage photographs, early ski outfits, and rustic equipment. You’ll appreciate how much your skis, boots, and poles have developed.
The museum educates visitors about when and how skiing debuted in Colorado, various recreational and practical applications of skiing, and the development of snowboarding.
A tribute to brave veterans, the museum dedicates an area to the 10th Mountain Division, a skiing branch of the U.S. military that played an important role in World War II.
The Hall of Fame spotlights outstanding skiers, riders, and developers.
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum also includes a wonderful gift shop with ski and snowboard related merchandise: ski posters, decorative items, and books. You’ll find copies of my new book, “Laid-Back Skier” for sale in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum, and proceeds from book sales benefit the museum and hall of fame.
And you’ll find much more information on Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum’s cool website.
The museum and the website honor that special something inherent in the human spirit, the spark that inspires us to play in the snow, harness gravity, and rise to the challenges of the mountain.

Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame
P. O. Box 1976
231 S. Frontage Rd. East
Vail, CO 81657
Open Daily 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Free Admission, Donations Appreciated

25 October 2011

COLORADO COLLEEN: I Heart Prairie Dogs

I'm a Denver-based writer, and have reported extensively for The Denver Post on the natural world in a former series titled "The Nature of..." One installment - "The Nature of Prairie Dogs" - taught me how important prairie dogs are as a species supporting dozens of other species as wide ranging as spiders to burrowing owls.

Pictured, a black-tailed prairie dog. Image courtesy of We For Animals.

I also was amazed to learn that prairie dog communications rank as complex or moreso than dolphins' "language." Prairie dogs keep their colonies tidy and live in community, in addition to being cute as can be. And their link to Bubonic plaque or broken legs on livestock is highly exaggerated.
Therefore, I just joined WildEarth Guardians in messaging my gratitude to decision makers for having the wisdom and foresight and compassion to relocate a colony of prairie dogs. Here's the text:

"As a supporter of WildEarth Guardians and policies established to protect wildlife, I am writing to urge you to support the relocation of prairie dogs to Rabbit Mountain Open Space.

Prairie dogs are a central part of grassland ecosystems in North America, creating vibrant landscapes of life on western prairies. They are recognized as a keystone species and greatly enhance the land they inhabit by aerating and turning the soil, providing meals for predators, and creating burrows that shelter a host of other animals including snakes, cottontail rabbits, burrowing owls, beetles, and salamanders, to name a few. The nutritious vegetation in their colonies is kept neatly trimmed, providing fertile foraging for grazers such as bison and pronghorn. These important creatures should be preserved, and I support Boulder County's efforts to relocate them out of harm's way. Additionally, I appreciate my tax payer dollars being spent to improve our communities by creating healthy wildlife populations for future generations instead of poisoning or eradicating them.

I applaud Boulder County Parks and Open Space for working to implement non-lethal prairie dog management, and I support this relocation effort."

Wag your prairie dog tale.

Colleen Smith gardens in and writes from a historic neighborhood in central Denver.

Her second book, "Laid-Back Skier," was just released in September 2011 and is available through FridayJonesPublishing.com or Amazon.com.

Her first novel, "Glass Halo," was a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize.

Please feel free to post a comment here: I'd love to hear from you. ~ Colleen Smith

• Find Friday Jones Publishing on Facebook and "Like" our page.

• Follow FridayPublisher on Twitter. Wag your tale!Share/Save/Bookmark

27 September 2011

Why I Published My New Book: "Laid-Back Skier" When Books Are Going Downhill

Yes, I've read all the abysmal news about the post-literate age and the demise of printed books. In fact, all those discouraging words served to inspire my new book"Laid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life."

Of course, snow skiing inspired me, too. As I carved turns, I began crafting this new book's text in my head. All the while, I envisioned a charming book in three-dimensions, with luscious eco-friendly paper pages and colorful illustrations between hard covers.

I'm trained as a writer, and I've made my living as a writer. Consequently, books are an integral part of my life. They have been since I was a wee one. In fact, in my baby book, my mother noted that "book" was one of my first spoken words. My mom told me I always loved to be read to; and she related more than once that whenever she tried to skip pages - turning more than one at a time to rush through a reading - I always busted her.

"Laid-Back Skier" is for people of all ages and not for skiers only.

I hope mothers and other adults will read "Laid-Back Skier" to their children or grandchildren. I intend this book for "skiers, riders and snowflakes of all ages." The vocabulary might include a few words kids won't know, but the book will provide an opportunity to learn. Besides, they'll be captivated by the playful pictures, anyway. For Friday Jones Publishing, Denver artist Patty Leidy did 38 original illustrations.

"Laid-Back Skier" will delight adults, too. I hope this book reminds adults of the tactile pleasure of sitting with a book, turning pages, relishing full-color illustrations reflecting the text, reading. Yes, reading! An actual book!

"Laid-Back Skier" is a quick and easy read with special features.

If you're like I am, reading is not as easy as it once was. We've created an ADD culture with head-spinning distractions bombarding us constantly. "Laid-Back Skier" takes that into consideration. Intentionally, I kept the text very simple with only one sentence per page in the body of the book. Just about anybody can read this book and recall the joyful accomplishment of reading a book cover to cover.

To add to the practicality of the book, I added a skier's journal and a skier's packing list.

"Laid-Back Skier" is my second brainchild brought into the world by Friday Jones Publishing, my independent publishing company. Last September, Friday Jones Publishing released my first novel, "Glass Halo." While the books' subject matter varies greatly, both books present artful design and attention to graphic details that make quality 3-D books worth preserving even in the 21st century.

"Laid-Back Skier" is available through FridayJonesPublishing.com and Amazon.com. Coming soon to a bookstore or boutique near you! Thank you for helping us wag this tale. Share/Save/Bookmark

26 September 2011

Architecture: Santa Barbara's New Airport Evokes Old Missions

The old Santa Barbara airport terminal was probably my favorite in the United States. With arched windows, octagonal tower, wrought iron, and a red tile roof, the little old open-air airport charmed me and made me feel I was in another country--especially the baggage claim area--so I was sorry to see the old terminal go.

At top, Santa Barbara's old airport, September 2010.

But Santa Barbara's new airport terminal also includes appropriate, pleasing Spanish architectural charms, too. Riffing on the old Santa Barbara Mission at the heart of this splendid enclave on California's central coast, the new airport includes architectural elements from the centuries old Spanish churches. Outside, the white stucco rises to a peak reminiscent of a steeple. Inside, wood trusses are stenciled with colorful patterns that call to mind the handiwork in California's old missions. A cheerful palette of vividly glazed ceramic tiles jazz up the risers of stairways.

Above, Spanish tiles decorate stairways in the new Santa Barbara Airport.

As I checked my bags, when I lamented the loss of the quaint, old, stucco building, a man at the counter told me it would be preserved as a museum. I'm glad that idea got off the ground.

And, architecture aside, I'm glad to fly back to Denver from Santa Barbara, rather than LAX, which also happens to be currently under much needed renovation.

"LAID-BACK SKIER" is the second title by Friday Jones Publishing. Friday was my beloved dog and remains my muse. A three-legged shelter rescue dog with health issues her entire life, Friday was diagnosed with cancer at age six. In an intense, alternative medicine clinical trial, she lived to age 15.5 people years, exemplifing an indominable underdog spirit.

For more information, visit FridayJonesPubishing.com and see LAID-BACK SKIER tab. Wag your tale.Share/Save/Bookmark

14 September 2011

LAID-BACK SKIER: Ski Bunny Illustrations by Patty Leidy, a Facebook Friend

Here's a link to a gallery of "Laid-Back Skier" illustrations by Patty Leidy - see her self-portrait at right.

Below, one of the earliest ski bunnies by Patty Leidy for "Laid-Back Skier."

And here's the tale wagging of how these ski bunnies came to be:

When I was preparing to publish my first novel, "Glass Halo," Jesse - one of the Friday Jones Players - opened a Facebook page for me. I was upset. I had railed against Facebook without really knowing what it was. "I don't have time for Facebook," I argued. "Besides which, I like my privacy."

Jesse gave me one of his sage young adult looks and said, "If you want to sell this book, you have to have a Facebook page," he said.

Jesse is wise, so I said "Okay." But I left the Facebook page dormant for months.

Until another Friday Jones Player, Josie, told me, "You really need to get into Facebook." Josie is wise, too, but I dug in my heels. "Things will happen on Facebook that you would never expect," Josie said.

So I jumped into the Facebook vortex. And how! I post regularly now, and I enjoy Facebook, I admit. Jesse was right: Facebook helped sell my "Glass Halo." My first novel reached readers I knew only through Facebook.

Moreoever, I met the illustrator for my second book - "Laid-Back Skier" - on Facebook. I'm not sure how Patty Leidy and I got connected, but I began noticing her "Cafe Neurotic" comics on Facebook. I loved Patty's style and the fact that she is a fan of bacon and cupcakes. Her gags made me smile and sometimes even LOL. Mostly, I admired Patty's artful drawing. Genius flows through the ink in her pen.

When I figured out that Patty lived in Denver, as do I, I messaged her about the possibility of commissioning her to do some drawings for the ski book I envisioned. Yes, she was interested!
At our first meeting, I explained my idea for "Laid-Back Skier." She showed me her sketchbooks: Moleskin books filled with doodles and drawings in a wide range of styles.

Patty and I began meeting at the coffee court outside Nordstrom in Cherry Creek North.We worked through some initial drawings, but Patty's first sketches of people--tho' expertly rendered--were not matching the playful spirit of what I had in mind for "Laid-Back Skier's" messages that apply to everybody's ups and downs.

One day, on the first of the month, I posted on Facebook one word "Rabbit." Saying "rabbit" on the first of the month is a common British superstition to bring good luck.
Patty saw my Facebook post and shot me a message of a single word: "Bunnies!"
"Ski bunnies!" I realized, would be perfect.
Patty hopped to and drew some initial bunnies to set the style. I knew we were on to something better than the humans. We met several times to collaborate on the bunnies, their fur color and eye color, their attire, equipment, actions, and the general gist of alpine landscapes. We created scenarios to illustrate the truisms I'd written to compare alpine skiing to life.
Along with ski bunnies, we added foxes, birds, and even a rare lynx. In the end, Patty completed 38 illustrations for "Laid-Back Skier." Each is adorable and expertly rendered with expressive faces, dimensional shadows, and creative coloring.
Here at Friday Jones Publishing, we all have our favorite illustration by Patty. The cumulative effect of the illustrations plus all the other elements of design and the truisms in "Laid-Back Skier" should bring a smile to reader's faces - even if they've never ever been on skis.
Which is the case with Patty Leidy, making her illustrations even more impressive.
Wag your tale, Patty Leidy!
And thank you Jesse and Josie for dragging me into Facebook. I'm red-in-the-face about my initial resistance.

P.S. To contact Patty Leidy about commissioning artworks, e-mail her at
Patricia Leidy hkit1@mindspring.comShare/Save/Bookmark

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