Monday, August 29, 2005

Statue springs to life with pumpkin vines

I haven't seen this, might have to stop by. Not particularly a fan of statues, but the man himself is remembered for his good deeds.


Hot days and afternoon monsoons have had a magical effect on the statue of Nick Venetucci — the celebrated pumpkin man of Colorado Springs memorialized in bronze on the lawn of the Pioneers Museum downtown.

Almost overnight, the statue seemingly came to life as large pumpkin vines sprouted in the flower bed that surrounds it.

The vines have obliterated pansies planted earlier in the summer, and they’ve given birth to gourds that swell with each afternoon shower. Today, the vines are kneehigh on the statue honoring the Security farmer.

It’s a pose thousands of area residents would recognize: Venetucci smiling amid growing pumpkins. Before his death Sept. 7, 2004, he became a legend for giving pumpkins to area schoolchildren over a 50-year period.

“It really looks great,” said Matt Mayberry, museum director. “It’s such a fitting tribute to Venetucci.”

Mayberry is eager to see the small green fruit on the vine grow and ripen into the large, orangish-yellow pumpkins that were Venetucci’s trademark.

Some of the vines are spilling onto the sidewalk, and others are slightly obscuring the three bronze children who surround Venetucci in artist Fred Darpino’s sculpture.

Again, Mayberry thinks it only adds to the effect.

“It really looks great with the kids there in the pumpkin patch,” he said.

Others agree, including Suzanne Royer, who spearheaded the “Pennies for Pumpkins” campaign that raised more than $100,000 to pay for the statue.

“I love it,” Royer said.

Another fan is Bambi Venetucci, who worked side-by-side with her husband at the farm and was his partner in the annual pumpkin giveaway.

It was Bambi who coordinated the visits of school groups, social clubs, senior citizens and others — upwards of 50,000 a year — to the farm to gather free pumpkins.

She has made several visits to the statue since it was unveiled last October and is tickled by the growing vines.

“It’s a beautiful tribute,” she said. “And I think it’s wonderful people are still so caring and interested. He loved his community, and it’s so nice to see they love him, too.”

So, just who is responsible for the pumpkins, anyway? Neither Royer nor Bambi Venetucci knew the answer.

And it wasn’t the city gardners who planted them, said Paul Butcher, director of the Parks Department.

“We don’t plant vegetables and fruits that can be consumed,” he said.

Could it have been magic? Maybe a little pumpkin dust sprinkled in the dirt?

Actually, it was Beth Kosley of the Downtown Partnership.

“We planted pumpkin seeds at the request of the museum and the artist,” Kosley said, noting how the vines are really taking off. “I’m a little worried we’re having too much success.”

No way, say Mayberry, Royer and the others. Their only fear is that the pumpkins might disappear.

“We’re a little bit worried,” Mayberry said. “We’ll just have to see what happens. It will be great if we can get to middle or late October and have bright pumpkins in there.

“We’ll have to see how the public reacts to it.”

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On other notes - I watched the series finales of The 4400 and The Dead Zone last night - they were good!

Later this week is a birth anniversary for Imam Musa Kazim (as), 7th Imam (as). I think it is Wednesday. People don't give him the respect and attention he is due, as is the case for many of our Imams (sa). There is a lengthy biography of him for sale at the Khoei bookstore now. I got a copy but I haven't read it yet, because I'm trying to work through the Imams' biographies in order.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Jeff Foxworthy on Colorado

Some of the favorites:
You know you're from Colorado when...

1. You switch from "Heat" to "A/C" in one day.
2. You know what the "People's Republic of Boulder" means.
3. Your sense of direction is: towards the mountains and away from the mountains.
5. You're able to drive 65 miles per hour through 13 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without even flinching.
6. You take your out of town guests to Casa Bonita even though you would never go there otherwise.
8. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
11. You can drive over a 12,000-foot pass in 4 feet of snow, but can't get to work if there are 4 inches of snow.
12. You know the 'correct' pronunciation of Buena Vista and Pueblo.
15. You have surge protectors on every outlet.
16. April showers bring May blizzards.
17. 'Timberline' is someplace you have actually been.
18. You know what a 'Chinook' is.
20. You know what a 'fourteener' is.
21. But you don't know what a 'turn signal' is.
24. You know who Alfred Packer was.
30. Thunder has set off your car alarm.
33. You think a red light means 3 more cars can go.
37. You know where the real 'South Park' is.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I took my brother's kids yesterday up to school and painted my classroom - well at least the two big walls - I didn't bother with walls with chalkboards and other stuff. When I picked them up, they told me they had to be at a baseball thing at eleven so we had to work really fast. They helped some both in painting and in making a big mess! :) The walls are painted and I think that part is fine, but there is also some paint on baseboards, floor, student desks, etc., that I guess I'll be trying to work on some over the next several days.

In the evening I picked them up again to go to a geocaching event - it wasn't actually caching, but rather a meeting/picnic of southern Colorado cachers discussing some upcoming games/events. The kids played on the playground, adults sat around and talked to people they already knew from online but never in person before. Just as it was ending, the rain came - I love this weather!

Tomorrow it is official - back to school for teachers - although I've already been working in the building three days I still have a lot to do to be "ready", but at least I am closer than before. But tomorrow insha'allah everyone will be back. And we'll have to sit in lots of meetings.

With all my travel this summer I didn't get to the gym regularly. After my last trip end of July, I haven't been to the gym but a few times, plus at all these conferences and meetings it is hard to avoid not eating well. So now I have to motivate myself to go after work when I'm tired several times a week - that was my plan to begin with, but now I've got to make myself stick to it!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Madrassah, Grad Party, Board Retreat

Saturday I went to the last Madrassah session for this term up in Denver. I got reimbursed for my gas which was really great - 150 miles a trip adds up! I guess it is starting up again for a new term in September.

Saturday afternoon was the Master's Degree party. It was nice, my mom did a nice job putting it together, and Tonya and the kids helped with the food and decorations the day of the party. From my school Jen and her husband Dave came, and Nancy and her husband Bob came - those are both math teachers. Anne and her husband Rick came and Marie came - Anne is the school front office queen and Marie is the data processor. Dave Ulmer came, he was my cooperating teacher at the school when I did my student teaching. Laura and Byron came even though they just flew in from the East Coast, which was really nice - Laura gave me a nice purse. Derek and Heather came as well. Some of mom's family and Jeff's guests of course came, too. And Mark and Irma from CSEA came. I think that's everyone.

Yesterday and today I was at the Board Retreat up in Florissant. It was a cute place we stayed at. I felt we had a productive meeting and we had a lot of fun. The geocaching game was a hit, everyone seemed to like it. I took a ton of notes as Secretary. The rest of the week is more CSEA stuff - tomorrow is the AR training and Friday is the New Teacher Orientation. I think I'm going to axe painting the classroom, I'm just out of energy and time. But we'll see. I'm struggling a bit with the sudden and early end of summer juxtaposed with the beginnings of excitement for a new year.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cachin' and Gettin' Soaked

Yesterday I spent the whole day caching with Haily, my niece. That is what she asked for as 'payment' for watching my birds when I went to L.A. We started about 8am and picked what we wanted to do off the Internet. Then we loaded up an ammo box for a multicache we went out and placed. I had three fake rocks that could hold micros, so I came up with the idea of a "shell game". The first coordinates takes them to one of the rocks. Inside is a card with two coordinates on it and they have to pick one. It takes them to one of the two other rocks. Inside again are two coordinates and they have to pick. One would take them to the cache and one would take them to the third rock. Depending on the choices the make they may have to do more walking or less and make have to make three stops or four. So, we'll see how that goes.

We found two new ones in my neighborhood - not first to find, but third, which still isn't bad. Then, we went and found one in a neat quiet park west of highway 115 that had cabochons in it. The guy who owns the cache polishes and cuts semi-precious stones like agates and jaspers. We left various toys and goodies and choose two small red agates. We went over to a jewelry store that does custom work in the southgate shopping center - the one with the Schlotzsky's and Sylvan called Berges. I let Haily pick out a setting for her stone in silver, she chose a pendant setting, and I chose a ring setting. So that will be her birthday gift, insha'allah.

Then we went on to try a newer cache over near Quail Lake. The coordinates kept pointing to the middle of the lake. So we checked what I'd written down and I'd left out a number and Haily had just filled a zero. So, not having the right coordinates available we had to move on to another cache. But, we had a nice walk all the way around the lake. It was a bit nostalgic for me because I used to live in the apartments right next to the lake and would walk around it in the evenings sometimes.

Our last cache of the day was a micro over by the old airport. It was a tiny keychain size toothpick canister covered in camo tape hanging in a tree in a hotel parking lot. We found it right away.

It took all day for that because it took awhile to set up our own cache, we stopped at Dairy Queen for blizzards, and it took us awhile to find the park for the Cabochon cache since we didn't know the neighborhood.

Today, I ended up doing cache-type stuff again. Mark Hampson, the VP of the union board, and I went up to Florissant to set up a caching type team-building game for the board retreat this weekend. We set up three mile and a half courses with six stations. So, the teams will be about six people, and they will have to use a gps to get the first station, find a hidden plastic baggie with the next coordinates, and so-on. The baggies also have letters in them that they will have to unjumble to solve a puzzle. But it was pouring rain today. So we spent a few hours trudging around in mud and wet trees and grass and got soaked to the bone. My jeans were so wet it looked like they'd been soaked in a tub for an hour. :) So it was a bit chilly and wet, but fun. At the main hall of the place we're staying, there were these humming bird feeders and they were literally swarming with humming birds - dozens of them. I love the sound they make when they fly, and they're so pretty. Even though these weren't the pretty-colored ones, they're still awesome. We headed out early so I was back home by 1. I fell asleep in the afternoon - man is it going to be an adjustment going back to a rigid schedule trying to get everything done and still get more than 5 hours of sleep, which just kills me. :)