Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The back of the house

We all kept working as a team that long hot day and at least it was shady in the back of the house.  I found all kinds of decorative items and hooks hiding in the weeds.

Once this was cleared out I parked two more of those big hostas Kelly generously provided and added three heuchera to act as a backdrop for the "praying hands" hosta.  This way it will be right as they exit the backdoor and can see it often

Steph cleared out the daylilies and cleared out the grass to provide a space for mulch in front of them to keep the grass down.  While digging through the lilies I spotted my old concrete bird bath.

These lilies are so nice to view from either inside the porch or outside - they came from her great-aunt's cottage

Deciding that the teenage sanctuary being developed on the east side of the house could benefit from a water feature, I had her hand it over the fence to me.  Left Brain is going to add a gate in this location for us soon to allow for easy access.

With the purple hanging chair gone there is more room for seating on the patio.

Now...I think that old swing set needs to go away soon.

They never should have gotten me started.

Long Live the Queen of Gardens

Friday, July 25, 2014

Patience has its rewards

We took Emily and her friend, Lucy, to their Improv class in the nearby town of Osseo yesterday and found the doors locked.

Since we were a bit early the girls walked across the street to check out the garage sale going on.  Emily scored with the perfect shirt for the Harry Potter fan that she is...a Hogwarts shirt!

Not only the perfect shirt for her but it was a great fit as well.

Since we were near the Osseo water tower that I've admired, I snapped a photo of it as well to add to my collection.

They finally were able to enter for their class and we all departed with something unexpected.

Andrea kindly reminded me that if was in Photoshop Friday.  Ooops.  It's been a crazy week with planting and painting at the house and I lost track of time.  My rendition has not even been started yet, so this will be shelved until next Friday.

I also forgot to submit my photo to my friend Karen's blog...again.  Who would have known that being retired could be so exhausting?

Long Live the Queen of Serendipity

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The May Flies have Hit!

Back in the old home area we sometimes have an invasion of the winged kind...may flies.

I'm not sure why they call them mayflies since they usually show up in July, but that's their name.  When you grow up near the Mississippi river it's an annual event.

My childhood memories are of seeing the snowplows come out in the summer time to shovel their dead and dying carcasses off the Mississippi bridge.

Left Brain has described driving the bus back and hitting a swarm of them, making him stop several times to clear the windshield so he could see.

The swarm this year was large enough to show up on Doppler radar, this video covers it nicely.

They are an eerie sight, and thankfully one that is short lived as mayflies have no mouths.  Nope...their only purpose is to hatch, breed and die.

I'll leave you with this lovely image shared by a friend of mine who decided he really didn't need to put gas in his car that badly.  Nope, no filter was used to create this disgusting's all due to them.

Long Live the Queen of Mayflies

Returning to my Roots

When we left our home and my fabulous flower gardens , I turned my back on gardening forever.  At least that was the plan.  In retrospect I think I was fearful that if I did any gardening right away I'd be filled with remorse at having parted from my beloved gardens.  

Last year Left Brain took on the task of constructing an outdoor storage shed in the kids back yard. This year his project was to scrape and paint the trim on their house

Our daughter started buying some plants for the perimeter of the shed; however, with both of them working and raising two fabulous daughters, planting is often pushed to the back burner.

 Since Left Brain was busy with his painting project,  I dug out the gloves I keep in the geocache bag and soon found myself digging away in the dirt creating some flower beds.

In about three hours I had managed to dig out a garden bed about two feet deep around the shed and put in the shrubs and plants that had waiting for their new homes.  Left Brain helped by hauling over bags of mulch we found here and there and raking the dirt from the lawn.

Our daughter was pleasantly surprised when she returned home from work to see everything in the ground and mulched.  I took the chance that she would approve of their locations and if not, well my motto is "you can always move it".  To me the crucial factor was to get them out of the pots and into the ground so they could thrive.

the west side awaits inspiration

Now the fever has been rekindled and I found myself clearing weeds from the west side of the house and wondering what could possibly go in there.

It finally clicked in my brain that this was a golden opportunity for me.  

I love to design and start new gardens, but not maintain them.  

Here was my chance to create something new and then drive way and let them deal with the weeding.  Sweeeet.

My other favorite part of gardening is the shopping for plants and hardscape.  After getting my daughter's assurance that she trusted my judgement completely, I headed out with my credit card in hand in search of new treasures.

the trellis on the side of the shed

The back of the shed just begged for a trellis and clematis, so I was thrilled when I spotted this fun little guy hiding in the dark back corner of Lowe's.  

He started out black but with a can of hammered metal bronze plant he dazzles with his new look.  

a view of the back of the shed and the west side of the house

For the west side of the shed I'm thinking a bush clematis for the standing trellis she inherited from my gardens of the past.  It's been fun seeing all my favorite garden art objects resurface in their new home.

Since the thin walls of the shed would not hold the weight of her window boxes, I bought four shorter shepherds hooks and cable tied the boxes to them to create a free standing arrangement.  Eventually the shrubs will cover their bowed legs.

the front of the garden shed with the plants installed and window boxes up

The narrow part that runs between the house and the shed is shady and a favorite place for the dog to run through, so perhaps I could use the bricks that I found to fashion a little pathway.

Next mission:  the west side of the house!

Long Live the Queen of Gardening

Monday, July 21, 2014


spider web on our awning
Left Brain and I are the type of people that like to arrive on time, if not a bit on the early side. 

We've always felt that those who habitually run late are showing sides of rudeness.

As a consequence we have often arrived too early for an event or party and find ourselves parking a block or two away reading until the actual time of the invitation arrives.  

More than once we have had concerned homeowners approach the car to ask if we are all right, but I think their real concern is that we were casing the joint.  

If there was a thing as "fashionably early" we would qualify for the term.  As a result of this lifestyle we often find ourselves waiting, but last Saturday was the worst experience I've had in a long time.

Now, you have to keep in mind that I sometimes forget what date it is and what state I'm living in.  Heck, on a bad day I'm not sure of my name.  

The plan for Saturday was for Left Brain to drop me off at pickleball and I would play while he continued working on scraping and repainting the trim at our kids house.  I reminded him I wanted to be there for the very beginning of play because people tended to peter out around noon and nobody every stays until the 1:30 end time.

Heeding my advice, he dropped me off at the YMCA at 8:28 so I could get right in and start to play.  I was so excited the night before I could hardly sleep.  

I smiled and waved goodbye as I headed into the YMCA with my pickleball bag, money and Kindle Fire.  The Fire was in case he was late in picking me up at the agreed upon time of 12:30.

I handed the lady at the front desk my money and held my left hand out for my wristband when she looked at the clock and said I was a little early.  Pickleball doesn't start until 10:30.  Ooops.  I was remembering the play times from our stay in Florida.

Hoping to catch him before he got too far I frantically called Left Brain on his cell.  Straight to voice mail.  Tried it a second time with the same result.  Even tossed in a text message as a desperate measure.  He's gone.  I now have two hours to wait until people show up to play.

Trying to make the best of it I settled in on a nice hard plastic molded chair and attempted to enjoy reading my Kindle.  I tried not to look at my watch too often, but figured the time would fly by as I can get easily lost in a book.  The current story I was reading wasn't that good, and perhaps having the comfy chairs at home is a factor in the "time rushes by when I'm reading" sensation.  Five minutes had passed by. Groan.

After a seemingly unbearable wait it was finally 10:30 and I could now pay and really go in.  I'd only have two hours to play so I planned to play hard and get a good sweat going.  One of the other players was there, an 82 year man with a wicked forehand smash and we started to warm up.

Finally we took a break and he went out to the front office area to see if anyone else might be coming.  I took a second stab at the book, but sitting on a bleacher seat seemed even more uncomfortable than the rigid plastic torture devices in the open seating area.

Eventually another lady showed up and we went to work getting her warmed up so when the fourth person arrived we could get a game going.  Finally!   

After about 15 minutes it was becoming obvious that no one else was going to show up and they decided to leave.  It's now 11:15 and I have a little over an hour to wait until Left Brain comes back to rescue me.

The lady at the front desk was gracious and refunded our money since we never really got to play.  I took that money and since I still had a lengthy time to wait used it to purchase two pieces of the foulest pizza I've ever had the displeasure of eating.

Finally my knight in shining armor drove up and rescued me right on time and we headed home.  En route to the RV we stopped as the crossing arms came down and the lights were flashing at a railroad crossing.  We got pretty used to this while staying at Goose Island and were prepared to wait it out.  And wait we did.  For all six engines of the train to pull their long heavy load...from a dead stop.  We're talking slower than a Friday night in a one-horse town.

When we arrived back at our shady haven I opted to return to bed and take a short nap, hoping to wake up a second time to a better day.

Long Live the Queen of Anticipation

Friday, July 18, 2014

Photoshop Friday

Thank goodness my friends in Bloggerland are on top of this, I'd forgotten it was Friday.  The week has been crazy busy and I haven't been on my computer for a couple of days now.

I've been frantically working on some quilt projects for my daughter using the kids t-shirts and old baby clothes.  Of course I had several quilting projects of my own going at the same time, so nothing much else has gotten done around the RV.

My granddaughter, Kiersten and I went kayaking on Thursday and then I took over a gardening project at our kids house and got reacquainted with being filthy from head to toe.

So today we took it easier.  I had a massage at a place nearby and then after grabbing some lunch went shopping for a trellis and more plants for the side of her house.  When I got home I unloaded the plants and watered them, and then spray painted the trellis with a hammered dark brown metal paint to make it look even more smashing than it already did.

Now I'm wondering if the campground would mind if I planted a small hosta garden between our site and Jim and Kathy's.  It would be nice to return to a little shade garden each year and watch it grow.  

But I are the images for Photoshop Friday!

The original image

Edna came up with this sweet garden scene:

Andrea submitted this alternation:

I came up with two images, but neither enlarged very well:

Long Live the Queen of Full Living

Next Friday's image will be this little princess:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Geocaching explained

I've been getting some interesting questions about this sport of geocaching and I'll try to explain the process a bit.

Geocaching is searching for a hidden item by using coordinates.  Your success or failure is logged electronically.

You can use a handheld GPS unit or a smartphone to find these hidden treasures, but first you must register your name with to be able to play.

Using the website you locate caches in your area to hunt for.  We have the premium membership which opens up more possibilities for us.  What we are looking for is a cache hidden by someone who monitors and maintains their hide.  

There are several kinds of caches, from teeny tiny ones to large ones, some are virtual and others have multiple stages before you can locate the final one. 

 All will have a paper log on which to sign your geocaching name, although it may be very tiny.  You still need to show your find online before it officially records your success.  We've now found about 86, which is not many for having done this a couple of years.  For each 10 you find you allowed to cast one "favorite" vote.  Many have found thousands but we just don't take it that seriously.  It's just something to do in a new area for fun and help us learn more about where we are staying.

It can be anything from the tiniest container where tweezers are needed to extract the log.  These can be magnetic and appear to be a screw in a sign - very tricky to locate.

Larger ones are often camouflaged snap lock plastic containers or military ammo boxes.  These will often hold what is call SWAG, which stands for Stuff We All Get.  

It's just little trinkets and junk usually, but sometimes people will include Pathtags, which are special collectible coins you have made up special with your name on them. 

You are welcome to take any items you desire, but good etiquette dictates that if you take something you leave something in exchange.

The bigger caches are where you find travel bugs.  These are a coded dog tag thing that is again registered online.  When you find one you register the fact online and then carry it to another area and register where you dropped it off.  The owner of the travel bug gets an email at each activity and can track how many miles it has traveled. 

I have a special love for these because it's something I can play with.  Since we are always on the move I cannot set up a cache as there would be no way to maintain it or make repairs.

Travel bugs can be found in caches to take and move, or just to discover.  We have one on the back of our car.

  They can be worn by pets such as the "log my dog" ones.  Hmmm....I wonder if the kids would allow us to buy one for our granddog, Zeke.  I'll need to ask them next time we see them.

They can be worn as a shirt and act as a moving travel bug.  Why don't I have this shirt...I love this kind of thing?  Must remedy this at once!

When a brand new cache is sent out into the world there is often a first time finders reward, often a silver dollar or an item of more value than usually found.

 Serious geocachers will have alerts set up to notify them of any that show up in their area and go to hunt for them immediately...often in the dark of night.  I've had friends that have run out in their pajamas in the middle of the night trying to score these and have had to explain to the nice policeman why they are manhandling the newspaper rack.

The caches will never hold food items or anything with a scent since that would attract animals that would destroy them.  They can be hidden in remote areas where you have to climb up hills or even swim and dive to access them.  These are at a level we don't even bother with. 

Some are hidden in plain sight in high traffic areas.  In this case there will be a warning to avoid muggles.  Muggles are those who don't have a clue what we are doing and if they locate the cache are likely to throw it away or destroy it.  I can't help but smile at the Harry Potter reference.

The caches have a name, description, log book activity and sometimes hints to assist in their location.  Sometimes the name is a hint as well.  Often times you can glean some info from those who have left logs as to how they found it.  No direct information or photos are allowed and those are called spoilers.

Occasionally you will hunt for long periods of time and not find anything.  If those before you have also shown they were not able to locate the cache, you can give it a status of "needs repair".  This alerts the owner that perhaps they need to visit it again and see if it's still there.  It may have been destroyed by Muggles or animals. 

When starting our search we use filters to locate ones we are interested in.  For instance, in addition to showing what difficulty level we desire we can add things like "those that have been found in the last 7 days", this makes it more likely that the cache is still viable.  You can also search for those with travel bugs to narrow it further.  This is something I've done recently as I picked up a travel bug in Indiana that I've had waaaay to long.  You are supposed to drop them within a week to 10 days and I'm way over the time limit.

this is a sample of a travel bug we launched earlier

It's a fun game in it's own right and the side benefit is that you get to know an area and often locate places you would never have known existed without having played along.  It's also a good excuse to stop for lunch or get ice cream for a break.

So, I hope that this has answered a few of those questions for those who want to know.  It's a fun sport and I highly recommend it.

Long Live the Queen of Travel Bugs

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Wedding in the Campground

You just never know what you'll stumble across here in Ham Lake Campground.  The most recent odd thing was a huge tour bus from Ontario pulling in.  How odd.  We found later that they were looking for a place to dump their tanks.  Good idea but RV's have hoses for that and buses need to drop straight down, so that didn't work out and he wove his way back out of the park.

Then we had a wedding take place the next day.  This was the marriage of one of our park guests grandchildren.  Yup, her grandson married her granddaughter. 

It's not as freaky as it sounds, they aren't actually related by blood, but they may have met at a family reunion.  

The initial plans were for the ceremony to take place on the "island" which is actually a peninsula but due to the threat of rain (and horrendous bugs) it was held in the pavilion instead.  This was a good call since it started to drizzle right after the ceremony was concluded.

I'd been listening to our neighbors, Jim and Kathy, practice for this event.  It's always fun to watch the two of them perform.

I used the Lords Prayer music sheet clipped to their stands as the background for this photo.

This couple obviously has a good sense of humor as can be seen by the wedding cake.  
Did I mention there was a purple and red theme to the wedding?

There were several people blowing bubbles after the bride and groom exited the pavilion and this little girl was just so sweet I had to snap her photo.

I took advantage of following the lady doing the official photos to land some of these shots by the tree and lake.

It is a lovely area for photos here and I recalled with some nostalgia the shots I took of our family last year in the same area.

Then I took the photos and made a collage out of them.

There was an RV named Tahiti parked very close to the pavilion and I wondered if that was where they might be honeymooning.  I guess they could then say they honeymooned in Tahiti and it wouldn't be a lie.

Long Live the Queen of Weddings

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In Search of those Geocaches Again

Since our efforts were thwarted the last time we attempted this, we took off this time on our bikes in search of those elusive geocaches.   We noticed that several of them were only accessible from the bike path near Bunker Lake, so we decided to pursue them on this fine day.

We parked near the Activity Center and took off for the first one, just over the road and off the bike trail.  This is going to be so easy!  Or so I thought.

Let me explain...we are wussy geocachers.  I am not willing to walk through thorns, weeds, bugs and G-d knows what venturing into the woods for something we may or may not be able to find anyway.  I really thought the ones along this route would be what we call "park and grabs".  Oh well, maybe the next one will be simpler.

Nope.  The next one required another journey into waist high weeds with nettles, so we passed on it also.  And so it went with the majority of the others...into a swamp, into poison ivy, etc.

On our way back to the car we entered Bunker Hills and at first I thought we'd have to pay the $5 entry fee, but the nice man at the guard shack explained that was just for cars...bikes and walkers could go right on in.  Yippee Skippee!  Now we can target some of the caches within the park itself.

We almost had one when I read the description stating "don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees..." when I noticed all those wonderful three leaved plants.  Remembering a trip to the ER with welts from a previous brush with poison ivy I slowly backed up and admitted defeat once again.

Finally we found a "virtual cache" and could claim one victory at least.  A virtual cache requires locating the spot and then answering a question to prove you were really there.  At least we didn't have to wade through noxious weeds or swamps and battle insects to get this one.

On the way back to the parking lot I stopped to photo the beautiful gardens by the Activity Center.  I had to have some kind of victory today!  The photos that accompany this blog today are those from this gorgeous area, all of which were captured with the use of my Samsung phone.

Long Live the Queen of Flowers

Friday, July 11, 2014

Girl with the Pearl Earring

My blogger friend, Hannah Dove, who is an artist commented that my remake of the little girl reminded her of Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring, so I had to see what they looked like next to each other.

Hmmm, perhaps if I dressed her in a similar manner? I see the similarity!

Long Live the Queen