Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back in a Few Days

This is a self-portrait of me, my van, and the open road. Okay, Okay, I took the picture in the church parking lot while waiting for Char.

But, tomorrow I’ll be on the open road heading for Nebraska. I MUST make this trip. The first day I will be visiting with some friends. The second day and night, I do have work obligations. But, on the third day, a few work obligations and then more friends.

I’ll be back next week with pictures and stories to tell. Have a great weekend.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Three Speeches

I worked for a number of years for a guy who taught me a lot about trees, about people, and about public speaking. He once told me there are three speeches; the one you prepare, the one you give, and the one you wish you would have given.

I was recent asked to attend an Arbor Day program. Okay, no big deal. I was then told as many as 1,200 people may attend. Okay, I’m a little nervous but rarely do these events draw that many people. I usually just jot some notes when I get there, but for a large number of people, I prepare a speech. I even got some highlights from the city forester.

Come the morning of the event the people started showing up and just kept showing up and showing up and showing up. 1,300 people signed in and they estimate a few hundred more didn’t. Okay, now I’m nervous – really nervous.

The Mayor started talking and I realized he was giving the details of Arbor Day. That’s okay but it was also the first half of my speech. I crossed out the first half my speech and started to sweat a little. The City forester spoke next. What did he talk about? All the highlights he has given me about the cities program – that was the second half of my speech. Okay, now I’m sweating – a lot.

While I’m crossing out the second half of my speech there is a whisper in my ear asking if I could stretch my speech to double the time I was asked to talk. Seems like the ceremonial tree hadn’t arrived. Stretch it out? I don’t even have a talk!! “Yeah, sure, no problem,” was my ‘official’ answer.

Now, it was my turn. Walking to the podium, looking out at the crowd, I wondered what I was going to say.

I started talking about a tree planting we had done the day before with first and second graders and how planting a tree just might bring out the kid in all of us. To be honest about it I really don’t remember what I said but it must have been okay. I had to stop four times while the audience applauded. I wish I had taped that speech.

So, there are three speeches:
The one you prepare: it was a good speech.
The one you give: I guess it was a pretty good one.
The one you wish you would have given: that would have been the one I prepared.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Another Reason to Plant Trees

We are still celebrating Arbor Day in Colorado. We'll be doing it for the next few weeks. Right now is a real busy time but I hope to be back checking your blogs shortly. Also, at this time of year, I receive many tree stories from friends around the state. Got this one a day or two ago.

I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit, and his ancient one-ton truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His face was wreathed in smiles, and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So, I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

120 Minutes

One hundred and twenty minutes, that is what it takes to get from an area in Colorado where the lakes are still frozen and the mountains still have plenty of snow to . . .

. . . a place where the orchards are in full bloom. These are apple trees displaying their splendor. Just a two hour drive from the snow-covered mountains.

Just another reason to love Colorado.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Estate

First, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Easter.

Most people don’t know this but the real estate market actually started on Easter. That is when the first house was put on the market. You can view it by clicking here. Click the scroll bar once and it will automatically scroll down. Also, turn on your speakers.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Daughter of Ralph

Daughter of Ralph has been leaving comments on my blog. That’s all right, I mean, “daughter of Ralph” does have a much friendlier ring than say . . . Son of Sam.

Recently this was posted:

daughter of Ralph said . . .
Cliff, can’t someone else want to hear about his wonderful daughter? Why do you assume that it was me?

A few things struck me as I read that. First, please notice each and every word is spelled correctly. That’s her mother’s genes coming through. Next, seems like her and Cliff are turning my comment section into their own little chat room. That’s okay - at least I’m getting comments. Then I always get a little startle when I realize she is about to graduate college. This IS her last year – right, daughter of Ralph?

Then the floodgates open. Top of the list is after just 26 more years of “easy monthly payments” she’ll be mine free and clear! But, it has been worth it. I mean as you study this picture you’ll notice she has mastered the culinary skills needed to make Macaroni and Cheese after just a few short years of college. And, unlike another well-known cook who has her own TV show, magazine and book, daughter of Ralph has done it without serving any jail time.

Well, better get off in case daughter of Ralph and Cliff want to chat.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gifted Kids

Char and I raised our kids the best we could. We taught them to do what they want to do, take a few risks, enjoy life, and to use their talents.

They are both gifted, each in their own unique way. Recently they teamed up to make their first record. Get the Kleenex and turn on the speakers and listen to it here.

Okay maybe they didn’t record it – but they could have.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


It’s April in Colorado! Well, actually I imagine it is April just about everywhere. But, in Colorado, we celebrate Arbor Day in April. Arbor Day, that one special day set aside to plant trees. We have turned it into a month long thing. It’s full of school programs and tree planting events – it really is a lot of fun.

Arbor Day was started in Nebraska by J.Sterling Morton. This is the home where the Morton family was raised. Let me answer the question right now – no, foresters do not make enough money to afford houses like this. But, if you are a forester or a tree person, this is the Mecca. This is where it started. The funny thing is every time I go there, every time I stand on the steps of the house, every time I walk down that brick driveway, it does kind of renew me. It’s not a religious thing rather it is a renewal thing.

When in Nebraska go see it, it is worth the trip.