Thursday, June 30, 2011

the Colorado trip was a blast

I'll attempt to give a brief recap of the family reunion.  It was held at a mountain retreat at the foot of Mt Princeton near Buena Vista CO.  This is what we saw from our lodgings - pretty nice to watch the sun rising behind it. 

That's my guess anyway, I don't get up that early.  It was fun watching my granddaughter's getting right in there to help with the cooking and cleaning.  Everyone was required to take a turn at the domestic duties.  Not surprisingly they were right there to assist with mixing the batch of 96 brownies.  

That may be because whoever did that assignment got to clean up the bowl and super-sized whisk.  

There were some dirty faces afterwards, but happy ones.

Chocolate is such a good motivator.

She Devil did pretty good being cooped up in the canned ham most of the time while there.  She did get to meet Wallace, the Spanish water dog, and gave him a proper warning. He was a bit jumpy after that.  We spent most of Monday just visiting and meeting some of the family members we'd not yet seen in person.

Tuesday we went to the hot springs to soak in the hot water and play on the water slide.  There were different pools with different temps and I loved the one at 103 degrees the most.  The river was running too high to allow us to venture out into the other spots, it just wasn't safe.

Wednesday a brave group of us went on a white water rafting adventure.  We had lots of safety lectures and a three page consent form to complete.  I rented a wet suit, shirt, jacket and booties for the trip and was glad to have every last bit of it.  They are not as figure flattering as you might think - I felt a bit like a harbor seal.  It's exhausting wigging into these and even worse when you find out you've put it on inside out and have to do it again.  You definitely want to use the potty before putting all this gear on.  By the time they added the huge life vest and helmet I felt like a three year old bundled up in a snowsuit and sent out to play...except you can't hardly move or breathe.  Each raft has a guide who does the steering and calling out of paddle commands. I wasn't needed for paddling, thank goodness as I got out of breathe just getting in and out of the bunk bed from the thin air.  All I had to do was hold on to a rope, brace my feet and pray.  I've rafted before in the Wolf River, but I've never experienced class III and IV rapids.  Now I understand why they send a guide with you...yikes!  When I got back from the rafting we started to head for home.
We were getting pretty tired that evening and finally saw a small sign for camping and pulled in.  At first I wasn't too sure, it didn't look like much, but we were beat.  After checking in at the "office" which involved $20 cash and no paperwork, we were told to take whatever site we wanted.  Hmmm.  How to choose?  Do we go over closer to the bikers or stay on the other side with the abandoned RV's.  We decided on the abandoned area and set up next to a nice smoldering pile of garbage.  And us with no marshmallows!  
The following morning the alarm cat went off at 6:30am and we broke camp and started driving.  We continued driving until 9:30 pm when we arrived home and just left the ham in the driveway and stumbled into bed.  There's nothing like the feel of your own bed.

Long Live the Queen of the Road

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Leaving Colorado tomorrow

It's our last day in Colorado Springs and probably the last quiet day we'll have a while, so we slept in and then went to a wonderful little Mexican restaurant across the street that boasted "serious Mexican food" and they meant it.  It has been in the family for six generations and everything is prepared fresh.  I stuffed my face like a true Weight Watcher gone wild until I actually hurt.  Sorry Becky.

Then we went to Best Buy so Left Brain could buy a Sirius XM radio unit to take with him to Alaska.  That will help to make the six days of driving more tolerable for him.  He really got hooked on it from having it in my van.  I found "Robin Hood Men in Tights" in the $5 bin so had to pick it up.  These are the kind of movies I enjoy running while I sew, allowing me to audibly enjoy the movie and just look up at the good parts.

On the way home we stopped at Garden of the G-ds, which is an awesome formation of red rocks that you can drive through or hike through.  I really wanted to get out and walk as we've mainly been sitting or sleeping since we left.  It felt really first.  Call me crazy, but 80 degree heat with little or no shade at this altitude just isn't compatible with my system.  We watched some rock climbers and cut the walk short to get me back.

We also put the AC on for She Devil when we leave her - never us...just for her, so I climbed right into my bunk when we got back and savored the coolness until things stopped spinning.

Most of the afternoon was spent sitting in the cabana and reading and watching people walk their dogs and cats.  Well, one Siamese cat anyway.  It walked very nicely on a leash.  She Devil enjoys hanging out with us on a tie out, but I'm not so sure she'd "walk" with me.  Never thought to try it before.  I'd prefer getting one of those cute little pet carts to push to take her with me on walks.  I think she might prefer that also.

We just had some yogurt and berries for supper and that was plenty after the huge meal at lunch.  We'll go to bed early tonight so we can pack up in the morning and head over to the family reunion.

Long Live the Queen of Lower Altitudes

Day two of the adventure

We settled into an RV Park near Garden of the G-ds in Colorado Springs and spent the first night recovering from the long day of driving.  This may be how I lose weight - just by sheer exhaustion...too tired to eat.

In the morning we set up the Coping Cabana and I straightened up the area a bit. 

She Devil celebrated by taking another nap.

Left Brain put together the new charcoal grill I purchased for use in the canned ham as it appeared to much narrower and the legs fold underneath, making it easier for storage.
It's nice to  have charcoal grilled food after a long day of relaxing.

We went out to find the Cog Railway for a trip to the top of Pike's Peak on Friday since the race to the top is on Sunday and it will be way too congested.  

We started out at the entrance to the road where you can drive up, but I encouraged him to turn around and we found the depot for the railway station instead.  

Not having reservations, we took a standby number and luckily got on the noon train.  

It's a really pretty, albeit steep, ascent to the top of Pike's Peak with lots of scenery to enjoy.  

Our guide pointed out the road the cars can drive on and the hairpin turn the Japanese driver took last year at 76 mph. 

He made the entire ascent in just over ten minutes.  Yikes!  I asked her if any the drivers go over the side during the race since there are no guard posts or anything and she just smiled and said "yes".

We only had a brief amount of time at the summit before we needed to reboard the train for the descent.  They made it very clear that if you were not there on time you would be walking down.  Thirteen miles at an extremely steep grade didn't appeal to me.  So, we went in and found the donuts I love up there first (they taste just like my Grandma's and this alone was worth the price of the trip), grabbed a soda and found a small booth.  We proceeded to inhale three donuts each, gulp our soda and get into line for the bathrooms. This was lunch.

I had a short span of time to snap some photos, one of which was this one.  Katharine Lee Bates (not to be confused with Kathy Bates) was inspired by the scenery at the top of Pike's Peak.  

It was interesting trying to photo things up there as I was weaving around like a drunk. 

The thin air really sent me for a loop.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Long Live the Queen of the Donuts

Friday, June 24, 2011

First day of our Colorado adventure

We packed in a lot of hours on the road the first day, but managed to remain civil to one another.  The hardest part was getting through Nebraska.  I swear that is the longest state and possibly the most boring.  We did think about picking up one of the hitchhikers just to liven things up a bit, but there wouldn't have been a spot to put him anyway.  

But it's always fun to find those little out of the way cafes with the local charm.  This was way up there on that scale....not necessary an honor.  I got the Randazzle burger which was a hamburger patty, I'm pretty sure...but not positive...with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.  It was served with a scoop of mashed potatoes the size of a softball and everything swimming in gravy.  Yummm....gag...gag...gag.  I feel my arteries closing up!

This establishment also serves as a night club.  The lady who greeted us, took our order, was vacuuming in the back and putting together salads for another table may possibly be the exotic dancer at night also.  Small town.

While we were there I noticed the various trucks and vehicles - mostly trucks, pulling up to the gas pumps.  Now this is something I've never seen before, so I found it interesting.

We entertained ourselves with Sirius radio and finally settled in for the night in Waco Nebraska.  That felt a bit eerie to me, but I'm sure it was just the name.

The next day we headed off for Colorado Springs for three days of leisure before hooking up with the family.

Long Live the Queen of the Road

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A poem

I attempted my hand at poetry to put yesterdays drama to verse.'s a long car ride, there's lots of time to work on this stuff.

Twas the night before take off and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, especially my spouse.

The camper was already hitched to the car,
the journey starts early - the distance is far.

We went to sleep early to assure we were rested,
for a family reunion where strength may be tested.

Left Brain fell asleep quite quickly as normal,
I flipped and I flopped - my sleep is hormonal.

When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
with crashing and banging - what could be the matter?

I flew from my bed while he slumbered on,
He'll sleep through anything - I'll brave it alone.

I flipped on the switch to the lights for outdoors,
I'm wide awake now and onward he snores.

Out on the deck rolls the big metal can,
the one with the fish food to keep close at hand.

And there was the culprit, the big bad buffoon.
I knew it!  I knew it!  It's that big fat raccoon!

So clad in a towel and slippers I went,
outside with my broom - I'm a woman hell bent.

To retrieve the cans and the fish food they keep,
and go back to bed and hurry to sleep.

Long Live the Queen of Poetic Nonsense

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ready to Roll!

We went to bed nice and early in anticipation of a restful night of reinvigorating sleep to prepare for a long day of travel.  Left Brain dozed off immediately, as usual and I flipped around for a while trying to settle down. 
Crash!  Bang!  Clatter!  Holy cow, batman...what was THAT!  Left Brain just kept snoring through it all.  I think sometimes he pretends to be asleep so he doesn't have to deal with it.
I left the warmth of my bed to slink down the hallway to see what was going on outside.  I flipped on the outside lights to see if the coons were in the feeder.  Nope.  Bang!  There it is again.  I turned on the outside light on the deck and there he was...a raccoon was wrestling with the metal can that holds the fish food.  So, I wrapped myself in a towel I keep by the door for the hot tub, shrugged into my slippers and grabbed the broom.  Out the door I go, a woman on a mission.  The coon went as far as the steps and glared at me, so I scooped up the metal cans and ran back into the house.  
Such nighttime drama.  As I laid there trying to get to sleep I started wondering if a person could contract rabies by touching something a raccoon may have drooled on and then rubbed their eyes or something.  After debating both sides thoroughly I got up again to do a thorough hand washing and went back to bed.  Again.

The morning started out calmly with last minute errands to prepare for departure and Left Brain learned that if you turn the refrigerator in the canned ham on to battery overnight it will run down both it's battery and that of the car.  I finished getting things prepared while he jump started the car.
We put our trust in the GPS when it directed us to a campsite after driving for eight hours and it took us into downtown Lincoln Nebraska...during rush hour.  Needless to say, there was NO campground there.  We did consider the mission for a bit as we were both getting really tired and hungry by now.  But we both managed to remain civil and optimistic as we continued down the highway.  There didn't appear to be anything until we saw a sign for a campground and a gas station, both which were sorely needed.
We managed to find a campsite at the Double Nickle Campground in Waco Nebraska.  They also had a bag of ice and french dressing for sale.  We got situated and I prepared a nice salad with some curried chicken salad and an egg salad sandwich.  Then we found out they had wireless internet.  Oh happy day!
So, it's over and out at the Double Nickle and we'll continue heading westward to a campground near the Garden of the G-ds.
Long Live the Queen of the Road

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the power of small things

We were having a lovely conversation on the deck Father's Day, or trying to anyway.  The noise was incredible with all the tree frogs and toads who were wishing their dad's a hoppy father's day also.

It's hard to believe that such a tiny creature is capable of such volume, but when I think of babies and short men trying to act macho in a bar, I guess it's not so surprising after all.

I love the way the whole throat swells up to create the vocals they sing out.  It's quiet tonight, must be too many sore throats to sing again right away.

The canned ham is on the move again tomorrow for our first adventure as we attend a family gathering.  The landing pad was completed today before the thunderstorms hit, so it has a place to roost when it returns.  I am so glad THAT job is done.

So, depending on internet availability, energy level and time....the blog may be a bit hit and miss for a while.

Long Live the Queen of Family Ties

Puppy pads - my new best friend

The battle of the litter box has been waging for a long time now, but I think I finally have She Devil outflanked.
We have tried the regular ones, the huge ones, and the small one inside of the huge one in an attempt to keep her gifts inside the box.  But not our She Devil...oh no, she likes to think outside the box.  And to do her business outside it as well.
Well, I think I have it figured out.  I found a massive litter box with high sides and a lid (with charcoal filter) so there's only one way in and out.  No more tossing of litter on the floor and walls.  She is an exuberant litter tosser.  No more standing in the middle of the box and aiming her tush over the edge.  Well, almost.
She still prefers the walk in, or most the way in at least, and letting nature take its course.  This used to result in a lot of carpet cleaning outside her box.
A bath mat was placed on the outer edge of the box to catch the litter and droppings.  She just saw that as the place to squat and not bother with the box at all.  I wish I could say the poor old thing is just confused but it is my contention that's she's one diabolical cat.
So....I have discovered the pads for housebreaking puppies.  Now one of these is outside the entrance (the ONLY entrance and exit) to the litter box.  It works great.  She did miss the other day....well, I'm not sure if it's a miss or where she's aiming...and all the liquid stayed on the puppy pad.
I was able to just fold it up and add it to the litter bag with the other gifts left properly inside for me.  I think I may have this problem nipped in the bud after all!
Of course, she'll find some way to destroy my plans...I'm sure of that.
Long Live the Queen of the Litter

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

We had a major thunderstorm last night with heavy rains.  The pond is all brown and muddy since I had just redone the bottom pool and there was all that exposed soil to wash in.  I'm only hoping this has also settled the gravel pit on the landing pad so I can start to lay down the patio blocks....again.  I do love to do things over and over again.
I was too tired to have supper last night so Left Brain and I just had a large bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit and granola.  The scale reflected nicely this morning as a reward for hard work and little food.  Now if I can just keep the momentum going!
We'll grill out tonight with our son to celebrate fathers day and then start packing in earnest on Monday and Tuesday for our Colorado adventure.
It's the gathering of all the Keeffe clan for a long overdue family reunion.  We are becoming the oldsters in the group now and will certainly be revered as the beloved elderly wise men and women we are.  Yeah...right.
Long Live the Queen Jester

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Left Brain and the Frogs

Most of the day today was spent working in the gravel pit.  When I came home yesterday I saw a Volkswagen sized pile of gravel waiting for me.  My initial thought was that they had overestimated and I envisioned hauling lots of it to the back where the trailer was stored.  Well, at least I have a place to put I plunged in.

After moving the pile from the driveway to the landing pad I drove my car over it once and then took the lawn tractor and ran over it several times to pack it down.  I swept up the driveway but was too tired to hose it down.  I'm hoping for rain tonight.

Then I went to the pond where I had to move one of the pools to prevent back splash in the one below it.  Not a big project, but another one of those things that needed to get done.  The job went smoothly and without my falling into the pond.  Actually I was so hot and tired I didn't care if went for a dip or not.

Once that was done I ran the hose into the pond to replace water that had been lost and cleaned the pump filters.  How much filthier could I get anyway?  Well, since I'm totally disgusting...I might as well spray the Liquid Fence.  My neighbor told me she spotted a doe with two fawns, so there's a new generation that needs to be taught not to eat my plants.

This was when Left Brain came home and we chatted a bit and then I went off to finish spraying.  I was enjoying the sounds of nature, especially the frog that must have been happy I got the waterfall running better.  

Then I heard the strangest frog call.  I just couldn't place it.  There must be a mating pair because there was definitely a frog serenade going on.  When I got back to the deck I found Left Brain making the frog calls.  Then the other one would answer him.  Back and forth they went.  Great.  Now I have some love struck frog after my husband.

Long Live Queen of the Frogs
Summer is coming soon and the lilies are starting to put on their show.

It's enjoyable to have perennials for every season so there's always something blooming.

This year seems to be producing exceptional plants and blooms like I've never seen least in my yard.

Even though they bloomed while I was out of town, I was thrilled to have two blooms on the pink lady slippers, and I see some more plants starting to develop.  It's my goal to have a colonization of these before I need to visit them with a walker.

I did get to enjoy my granddaughters application of wildflowers in her hair decorations.  She tucked them into her braid all the way around and it was quite stunning.  It's great to have nature loving kids in my life.

The vines are climbing up up up and lots of buds are forming.  And the roses!  The scent is heavenly and the blooms are bountiful.

And now it's back to the gravel pit to finish the landing pad for the canned ham.  I can almost walk upright it's time.

Long Live the Queen of the Shovel

Friday, June 17, 2011

Close encounters of the wild side

The wildlife in our area are brazen...there's just no other word that describes them well.  In our own backyard we have a raccoon that is a regular 5:00 PM visitor to the bird feeder.  I guess he's showing up for the "early bird" special.

He'll scope out the seeds on the ground and then looks both ways before shimming up the pole, using the squirrel baffle as a booster seat to get comfy.  Then he proceeds to scoop up the seeds until he's full.

Tonight, just for variety I provided dessert in the form of miniature marshmallows.  I opened the window and tossed them at him, or to him as he saw it.  The bounced off his furry body (I do have good aim and could be considered lethal with marshmallows), then he'd see where they went and gorge himself.

At one point he reared up and chewed with his mouth open (just no manners at all), exposing chewed up white fluff.  

He looked totally blissed out and appeared to be laughing...he also appeared to be rabid with the frothy white drool around his mouth.  I half expected him to ask for a cup of hot cocoa to go with them.

My friend, The Duchess, had an encounter of a different kind with a deer sighting.  It had the audacity to take a bite of her Linden tree...ain't nobody messes with the Duchess's Linden tree!  She girded her loins for battle.... well, actually she slipped into her clogs and pulled on gloves and grabbed the deer repellent.

When she told me this this I had fears that she was applying this like mosquito repellent, but she soon made it clear that she knew to spray the plants.  She charged out into her yard armed with the repellent and approached the deer.  Nothing.  She started yelling at the deer.  Nothing.  She started clapping her hands at the deer.  He bowed to her applause.  This was really making her mad.  

Then he started to paw the ground and stamp his feet.  Oh, that was unexpected.  He followed up with snorting.  Now she was having second thoughts and proceeded to back up and run into the safety of her house, but not without a mad, frenzied spraying of all the trees and plants within her path.  She was a woman with a mission and even though the deer was taller and bigger than she was, she was not going to be undaunted.

Long Live the Queen and the Duchess

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sitting in the back

We have found that while traveling on our recent camping trips, She Devil is very content to sit in the back seat.  

In the past she has insisted on being held, which causes intense neck and shoulder pain.  For me, not her.  

I don't know why she has settled for this, but I am are my arms, shoulders, neck and other achy parts of my body.

She did ask to ride shotgun on the way home from the last camping trip, but I told her there were weight and height regulations and she didn't qualify to ride in the front seat.  When she researches this on the internet and finds out I made it all up she'll be ticked...but for now it's working.

Long Live the Queen of B.S.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June customs

Clay camp was a hoot today, but we need to wait until things dry before firing and glazing, so it will be a while before photos are ready to post.

June has continued to be a popular month to be married based on old customs.  In the 1500's many people took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good yet in June.  However, they were starting to smell a tad, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide body order. Hence the custom of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

This is also where we began the custom of placing flowers on the casket at funerals.  Many funerals and wakes were held in the home before the funeral industry cashed in on grief and things could get a tad ripe before the burial.

Since many of the roofs back then were thatched, there was nothing to really prevent things from dropping into the house.  This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That's how canopy beds came into existence.

And that's been our trivia session for the day.

Long Live the Queen of Useless Information

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back from the camping trip

There was no internet while camping, so the blog has been put on hold until now.  We set up our campsite on Thursday and enjoyed a quiet night before getting the grandkids on Friday.  The weather was cool and a little damp, but sure beats the 100 degree heat we had before leaving.

On Saturday we went to the Chippewa Valley Renaissance Festival, which was a convenient 10 minute walk down a dirt path from our campground.  The girls had their fancy long dresses and it was cool enough to wear them, so we had a great time.  In the photo above they offered the girls chocolate coins to help them find a husband since they were "getting on" in age (10 and 8).  As soon as we left they asked if they could just eat the chocolate instead of finding a husband.  That's my girls!

I had the honor of introducing the 10 year old to my favorite performer, Zilch the Tory Steller and she was able to grasp most of the skit and I do believe he has a new fan now.

Left Brain was in danger of whiplash from turning his head so quickly to view all the sights of the fest.  

How do they keep those dresses on?

Performers walking the path to the fest grounds.
Many of them were camped at the same camp gorund.

This was the first time Left Brain and I shared the queen bed that is made up from the dining table and cushions.  It was more comfortable than we thought, but we're used to a larger area with She Devil hogging space.  Part of the night my face was smooshed against the fridge while one foot was braced against the sink to keep me in bed.  Other than that, it was just fine.

Sunday morning started with my stepping in cat poop on the throw rug.  She Devil had a cling-on that apparently let go about that spot. Not a good way to begin the day.  We spent some time at a park to let the kids run and then took them back to their parents and returned for one more night in the canned ham.

Monday we made our way home and having forgotten a food dish for She Devil I found that my kippas work quite well for that.  I always keep my stash in the car in case I run into a shul somewhere.

After arriving back home and unpacking I went to Menards to pick up the first 50 of the retaining wall blocks I'd purchased to make the new improved landing pad and got those set in.

Today I went back twice to get 100 more to finish the job and then shoveled the dirt from the first landing pad into the new outer edges created by the second wall.  This will create an extra garden area as well as offer some support in case we veer off the area where it needs to be parked.  Now I can order the gravel and shovel it into the center area and we're almost done.

Tomorrow is an all day clay camp for grownups where I hope to pick up some new skills for my art work should I ever be able to return to creating things.

Long live the Queen of the retaining walls

Friday, June 10, 2011

the canned ham is on the roll again!

ooops!  just a tad short here.
We are taking our first trip of the season with a camping adventure with the grandkids.  Four people and a cranky cat in a small metal camper in the heat.  This ought to be fun!  

Left Brain and I will enjoy the first day of camping alone to set up the campsite and get everything situated and brace ourselves for the girls.  Then on Friday we'll pick them up and have our first adventure.

On Saturday we will spend the day at the Chippewa Valley Renaissance Festival with the kids - so that should be a good time.
Then it's back home with him on Sunday as they have things arranged for Monday and Left Brain and I will take one more day alone in the canned ham to recover.
Those first outings are always fun, figuring out what you forgot, where can you get it, or can you live without it.  Wish us luck!

Long Live the Queen of the Campground

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to garden in intense heat

We've been setting some records in our little area lately with temperatures in the upper 90's and hitting 100.  Wow, that's too hot to work in the garden you might say.  Nay nay I would reply.  You just have to pick when and where you do it.  You just need to think cool and pack a lot of water.

On Tuesday it hit 100 degrees,  so I worked in the pond.  I'd been wanting  reduce the visibility of lower spillway, so I dropped it down lower, creating a higher waterfall above it and a nice little planting area near the water level.  

This helped to hide the ugly black plastic somewhat better.  When it's this stinking hot, it's the perfect time do this type of work as I have my feet in nice cool water (and muck, mud and G-d knows what else).  

Need to squat to reach that rock, no problem....ah, how refreshing.

The fish didn't seem to like me in their area, but they shared nicely.  

Once the foliage catches up again, it will look great.

On Wednesday I decided to transplant hostas and some ferns since it was only in the 90's.  

The service man told me I needed to move the ferns away from the air conditioner, so I dug them out and relocated them in the back where nothing grows in the dry shade.  

Then I moved the archway forward and replanted the clematis. 

Now the air conditioner can work without all those plants trying to smother it.

After that I tackled the big guys on the back slope.  Thankfully, Norwegians are designed for working on steep slopes and I managed not to fall off the hill at all.  I planted the new hostas I had purchased at Garden Fest and dug up and divided a huge clump of koussa regal.  I figure if I can handle being out in this heat, they can handle being transplanted.

Then I added a sunshade to the arbor by taking a long panel I had stashed in the basement and weaving it over and under all the slats and stapling it on the ends.  With my new blue sling chairs and black side tables, it's starting to look cozy back there.  Now if I ever get a chance to actually SIT there, that would be nice.

Long Live the Working Fool Queen

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The landing pad held...mostly

Hey Left Brain, help me out here!
It was a fine day the day the canned ham came home.  We cautiously backed it onto its new landing pad and lo and behold it held.  It was barely wide enough and not nearly long enough, but it's up there.

I had built this based on the measurements on the website since I didn't have the ham to measure and forgot that the wheels are about 14" out on both sides.  Ooops.  Also, that the tongue adds a lot of length to it.   Ooops.  The back end hangs waaaaay over the back edge.  But it's there for a bit.

We will take it out this weekend to camp with the grandkids and then a week later to a family reunion in Colorado.  Arrangements were made for a house sitter and it was comical to see a man that large ask if She Devil would be going with us.  I swear, the bigger the guy the more they seem to fear her.  We assured him that she'd be gone and then he was okay with it.

When we return I will begin rebuilding the new and improved landing pad for the ham.  Bigger...wider...longer...with some gravel for stability.    And I was afraid I'd have nothing to do this summer.

Long Live the Queen of Manual Labor

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The short life span of a peony

This is a photo of a tree peony bud that was taken on June 3rd.

I only have three buds on the entire plant.  But they are huge and beautiful for the brief span of time they appear.

This is the same bud the following day.

You can almost see these things grow, they develop so fast.

Unfortunately, they also disappear way too quick.

How they know to bloom right before a thunderstorm that will destroy them, I don't know.

This year they have all bloomed one a time, so I'm glad I had lots of photos last year when they all bloomed at the same time.

Here's a photo I took and applied a dry brush filter to.  I love the dreamy feel it has to it and it's one of my favorites.

Well, I'm off to see what else is blooming this morning.  I worry that if I skip a day I'll miss somebody's special moment.

Long Live the Queen of Peonies

Monday, June 6, 2011

The tortoise and the hare

It was a hot, sticky, humid day so my friend Ms M decided it would be a perfect day for a convertible ride to the refuge to photo the hills covered in purple lupine.  It was a beautiful sight to see...from the comfort of a moving convertible.

However, when we emerged from the car to set up tripods and ready the cameras we were immediately attacked by deer flies.  Apparently they had widened their food groups from deer to sweaty females and I swear one of them had a tiny napkin around its neck as it leered at us.

We proceeded along the path, in open sun since Ms M wanted to get some "color".  She achieves a magnificent bronze color in this kind of heat...I'm more prone to heat stroke.  Since I opted to handhold my camera and skip the tripod for this trek I got to act as the horse tail and alternately smack myself and then her with the towel for fly protection.  We continued our self- flagellation  as we moved briskly through the open prairie, and I must admit I was smacking her much harder than I was myself.  I can't help it, it felt good and each swat was accompanied by a mumbling of "stupid idea...stupid idea".

We got our shots and moved even more briskly to the safety of the car.  Well, a convertible isn't really safe from bugs, but once we got rolling we could at least outrun them.  Now we needed something to soothe ourselves, some kind of medicinal balm....we needed ice cream.

There was nothing in the tiny town we passed through - the one place offering ice cream was closed.  Bummer.  So we headed to the locker plant where they have really good ice cream.  Closed.  I refused the concept of gas station ice cream bars just to be whiney so we ended up at the Frosty Mug.  Soft serve - yuck.  So to make the best of it we decided to have a sundae.

Our sundae of choice is the turtle sundae, but they don't serve that.  They have a tortoise sundae.  Now that's odd.  I've never heard it called that before, but what the we both ordered tortoise sundaes.

Toward the end of my feast I discovered a long hair.  It may have been mine as it was long and gray, I sincerely hope so. you have the real story of the tortoise and the hair.

Long Live the Queen of the Deer Flies

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hostas abound

The hostas are bigger and lusher this year than ever.  

It has helped that the deer have not yet discovered the abundant salad bar waiting for them.

These are behind the house and viewable from the family room.  It's nice to look outside in bad weather and be able to enjoy them.

There was a time I thought hostas are boring and avoided them as just being green blah things.

I was so wrong.  

It's nice to have plants whose foliage is the main attraction since most perennials don't have a long bloom time.

The leaves have a variety of size, texture and color.  

It's hard to pick a favorite when there is so much to pick from.  

Those with a bluish tinge invoke a feeling of peace and calm, while the bright bold yellow and green add some light to the dark corners.
I don't think of myself as a collector, some of my favorites are the older varieties such as 'sum & substance' and 'kousa regal'.

The ferns and pulmonara are a natural choice to place with them, they add another texture and bloom for some color.

Another of my favorites is the huge leaved astaboides tabularis.  You can almost see this grow day by day when it comes up in the spring.  

I like the maidenhair fern placed near this one and the false solomon seal in between them.

The sprinkling of columbine and shooting stars add little bursts of color to punch it up.  Aaaaah.  So many little time.

Long live the Queen of Hostas