Tag Archives: Columbine

Spring Continues (while I lose my mind)

May has been a crazy month. (I don’t even have my May Box out yet!)  Saver of Bugs graduated from college last weekend (and all that entails).  In addition, for the past three years she has been taking stuff to school without bringing anything back (she spent the summers at school doing research).  Weekend before last, I went up and brought a van load back (turns out it was cheaper for me to make multiple trips rather than rent a truck).  And after graduation, we loaded our van AND my mother’s smallish van/SUV/sport vehicle(?).  Now it’s time for sort, sort, sort, pack, pack, pack.  She’ll be moving to Philly the first week of June (pretty sure).  And she’s disappearing for 5 days to meet up with schoolmates for a last group LARP (small GRRRR).  Someone just shoot me, K?

My poor garden is now a garden of knee-high weeds.  But there were some survivors of the harsh winter.  So I’m taking my pleasure where I can get it.

I had my son cut down the Butterfly Bushes to 18 inches.  Knowing my passion for Preying Mantis's, he collected all the egg cases he found.  I put them in various pots in the driveway near the garden so they wouldn't get crushed underfoot during my weed raids on the garden.

I had my son cut down the Butterfly Bushes to 18 inches. Knowing my passion for Preying Mantis’s, he collected all the egg cases he found. I put them in various pots in the driveway near the garden so they wouldn’t get crushed underfoot during my weed raids on the garden.

My Snow-in-Summer survived the winter and apparently some of the Mantis's have hatched.  There is a wee exoskeleton on one of the flowers.  The flowers are roughly the size of a dime.

My Snow-in-Summer survived the winter and apparently some of the Mantis’s have hatched. There is a wee exoskeleton on one of the flowers. The flowers are roughly the size of a dime.

Pink Catchfly!  This will be a new addition to my garden.  Wilted and partially dead on the clearance rack, I paid $1 for it.  It has bounced back quite nicely!

Pink Catchfly! This will be a new addition to my garden. Wilted and partially dead on the clearance rack, I paid $1 for it. It has bounced back quite nicely!

Star-of-Bethlehem.  You never stop learning with plants. This tough little bulb came with the house and self sows itself around the yard from time to time.  In all the years we have lived here, I never knew it closed up at night.  I'm digging beds for tomatoes on the side of the house and as the sun set behind the trees, the little flowers closed right up!

Star-of-Bethlehem. You never stop learning with plants. This tough little bulb came with the house and self sows itself around the yard from time to time. In all the years we have lived here, I never knew it closed up at night. I’m digging beds for tomatoes on the side of the house, and as the sun set behind the trees, the little flowers closed right up!

Like my Snow-in-Summer, this beautiful Columbine was a bird poop volunteer.  It has self-sowed itself all over my garden in gorgeous clumps of blue.  I look forward to this flower every year and I'm soo glad it survived the winter!

Like my Snow-in-Summer, this beautiful Columbine was a bird poop volunteer. It has self-sowed itself all over my garden in gorgeous clumps of blue. I look forward to this flower every year and I’m soo glad it survived the winter!

My first Iris of the season!  It was difficult to take this guy's photo with the wind blowing it every which way!  I was thrilled to see how well these survived the winter. They were a gift from my next door neighbor.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimers and after the death of her husband, her health declined rapidly and she is now in a facility rarely recognizing anyone and spending most of her days in bed.  It's heart breaking.  But she loved her flowers and I'll always remember her sitting in the grass pulling weeds and snipping spent flowers.

My first Iris of the season! It was difficult to take this guy’s photo with the wind blowing it every which way! I was thrilled to see how well these survived the winter. They were a gift from my next door neighbor. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and after the death of her husband, her health declined rapidly. She is now in a facility, rarely recognizing anyone and spending most of her days in bed. It’s heart breaking. But she loved her flowers and I’ll always remember her sitting in the grass pulling weeds and snipping spent flowers.

Another Iris from my neighbor.  This poor thing got bent down to the ground somehow and was curling up to the sun to bloom.  Both this stem and the previous one are now in a vase in my kitchen perfuming my air with their lovely scent.

Another Iris from my neighbor. This poor thing got bent down to the ground somehow and was curling up to the sun to bloom. Both this stem and the previous one are now in a vase in my kitchen perfuming my air with their lovely scent.

Another garden denizen going about her duties.

Another garden denizen going about her duties.

A gift from crow friends.  A message is winging its way here.

A gift from crow friends. A message is winging its way here.

A lucky shot of our crow friends all together.  We have had a pair making their home here for years.  Late last summer one of the adults went MIA leaving a lone parent to raise 4 young.  I'm not trained enough to be able to tell who's who, so I don't know if this is the parent with a new mate and one of her young from last summer, a parent and two young, or just three of last year's kids.  They are very interesting and intelligent birds.  They are also quite skittish this year so I've been having trouble getting a shot of them together.

A lucky shot of our crow friends all together. We have had a pair making their home here for years. Late last summer one of the adults went MIA leaving a lone parent to raise 4 young. I’m not trained enough to be able to tell who’s who, so I don’t know if this is the parent with a new mate and one of her young from last summer, a parent and two young, or just three of last year’s kids. They are very interesting and intelligent birds. I love watching them work together.  They are also quite skittish this year, so I’ve been having trouble getting a shot of them together.  I will be keeping an eye out to see if any young are brought to the yard this year.

Wish me luck on keeping my sanity over the next couple of weeks.  If life would just pause long enough for me to handle moving crap only!

Spring Is ‘Working On It”

Spring is having a hard time here.  Cold, cold, cold!  I tried to remove all the leaves and dead things from the planters outside three days ago (54 degrees out) and found out that while there is mud in the yard, the planters are still frozen solid. *sigh*  But there are a few bits of spring struggling forward.

While we still have no Red-Winged Blackbirds and the Juncos haven’t left, the crows have returned.  Last year we lost one of the parents that comes here every year to have their babies.   Just one parent was left raising 4 little ones.  I don’t know how to tell the males from females, so I don’t know who survived.  But one arrived here with a larger, obviously younger bird.  Jet black and full-bodied, he/she is full of life.  The question?  Is this a new mate or one of the children who survived the winter?

This is the older bird.  I have not been able to get a picture of the younger bird.  He/she is very observent.  The least little movement is noticed. Like me sneaking to a window to try to get a picture.  Even though my windows on the back of the house are second story.

This is the older bird. I have not been able to get a picture of the younger bird. He/she is very observant. The least little movement is noticed. Like me sneaking to a window to try to get a picture. Even though my windows on the back of the house are second story.

While I was doing some yard work, I was thrilled to find that the spring flowers are coming up.  Sort of.

One lone crocus.  Hopefully the warm weather will inspire more.

One lone crocus. Hopefully the warm weather will inspire more.

Look what I found when I cut down my Japanese Blood Grass!  A wee columbine of a type I thought had died.  Evidently a seed took root!  This columbine is short with red flowers.  Can't wait!

Look what I found when I cut down my Japanese Blood Grass! A wee columbine of a type I thought had died. Evidently a seed took root! This columbine is short with red flowers. Can’t wait!  (OOOOooooo, can you see the hyacinth peeking next to the columbine?)

And in looking out my kitchen window I finally saw a sure sign that spring truly is on the way.

The American Goldfinches are finally turning yellow!

The American Goldfinches are finally turning yellow!

But then the day before yesterday…

Surprise!  I woke up to snow again!

Surprise! I woke up to snow again!

And I leave you with a very spring like mug that I’m drinking tea from while dreaming of flowers!

100_6035

 

How Could I Forget The Iditarod? The Last Great Race On Earth

Random Thoughts

 How could I forget the Iditarod?  I have followed this annual dog sled race off and on since it began in 1973.  More on than off, but college, small kids, and cable TV issues interfered here and there.  Thank heavens for the internet.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Iditarod, The Last Great Race on Earth, here are some quickie facts:

  •  The Iditarod is run from Anchorage, Alaska (Which is actually the ceremonial start.  The official start is in Willow just outside Anchorage.) to Nome, Alaska.  The Iditarod is around 1000 miles.  It differs a little between the Northern Route (run in even years) and the Southern Route (run in odd years).
  •  More than 50 mushers enter each year.  Only experienced mushers can participate and must have completed three smaller races in order to qualify.  No one convicted of animal neglect is allowed to participate.  If the Iditarod Trail Committee feels a musher is unfit they will not be allowed to compete.  This holds true during the race.  Last year one musher was pulled because it was felt that a cut he got on his hand was too severe to allow him to continue.
  •  There are 26 checkpoints on the Northern Route and 27 checkpoints on the Southern Route.  All mushers must check in to these checkpoints in order.
  •  All mushers start the race with 16 dogs on the tow line.  With 66 teams this year that’s 1,056 dogs on the trail.  They must finish the race with no less than 6 dogs.
  •  Mushers are allowed to drop dogs at the various checkpoints but must check in with all the same dogs they left the previous checkpoint with.  If you lose a dog out on the trail, you’re done.  One musher has had to scratch so far this year because a dog got loose when a team in front of him stopped suddenly causing his dogs to bunch into a ball.  The dog got loose as he was untangling the lines and, spooked because of the mess, took off.  The owner has flown in to help catch her as she has been seen hanging around a nearby town.  It is the dog’s third Iditarod.  It has been reported that another dog is loose, but no word on whether it has been caught or if the musher has had to scratch yet.
  •  Vet checks are required for the dogs before the race and are also inspected when a musher stops to rest at the checkpoints.  Like with human athletes, no performance enhancing drugs are allowed.
  •  During the race the mushers are required to take one 24 hour layover anywhere on the trail, one 8 hour layover along the Yukon River (a difficult and often nasty portion of the race), and one 8 hour layover at White Mountain, just before the last hard haul into Nome.
  •  Dogs burn about 5,000 calories a day.  This along with the need for regular hydration means that the mushers must stop regularly along the trail to feed and water their dogs.  This entails building a fire and melting snow for water.  The mushers are required to carry a pot that holds no less than three gallons of water, but it still takes a serious chunk of time to get the dogs fed and watered.  Did you know you can burn snow?  You have to add water to the pot to avoid this.
  • The fastest winning time is 8 days, 18 hours, 46 min., 39 sec.
  •  In Nome, at the start of the race, a lantern known as the “Widow’s Lamp” is lit and hung on the Burled Arch. This lantern remains lit until the last musher arrives safely in Nome, which takes anywhere from 13 days to thirty.

Well, so much for a few facts.  I love this race and could go on and on.  Here are some links if you want to get caught up (the race will probably end on Tuesday).

The official website:  http://iditarod.com/race/?vid=22246   I like to read the news stories here as they often include local cultural and historical facts.  They also have some videos you can watch even if you haven’t paid to be an Insider.  The ones I recommend are “Run Dogs Run” just to see a bunch of dogs doing their thing and “DeeDee and Her Wild Ride” to hear one veteran woman musher’s account of a bad day.  I can’t get a link to each individual video so you have to scroll through the Insider Videos to get them.  DeeDee is under Trail Stories.

The second site is the Anchorage Daily News http://www.adn.com/iditarod/#   The articles are good as well, but I really love the daily photo montages.  Usually around 35 photos of life during the race that day.

I would really love to see Martin Buser win his 5th Iditarod, but his dogs caught a bug and aren’t moving as well.  Mitch Seavey was the first into Unalakleet today.  It was a comment on how bad the travel was that both he and Aaron Burmeister were running single leaders on their teams coming into Unalakleet. “What’s that?” you say.  When the going gets tough, the mushers put their tough guy lone wolf type leader on a single lead out in front of the rest of the dogs.  This is the dog that gets the job done and prefers doing it alone.  “Quit” isn’t in their vocabulary.  They not only help “marshal the troops”, so to speak, they also have to have an instinct for the trail.  Knowing the best line of travel and where the trail is in a white out situation is invaluable to the whole team.  It takes a lot out of them being out in front on their own, but when it’s nasty, that’s where they prefer to be.  A good lead dog is priceless.

Life At Our House

Yay!  Saver is home for Spring Break this year.  A special treat as there is a good chance she won’t be home for the summer again.

Play practice is continuing for Spider Bait.  He is playing John in “Peter Pan” this year.

Out In The Yard

Small Iris coming up.

Small Iris coming up.

The crocus are coming!

The crocus are coming!

Hyacinths are peeking!

Hyacinths are peeking!

A wee bonus of a volunteer Columbine.  I just hope it isn't anticipating spring's arrival.

A wee bonus of a volunteer Columbine. I just hope it isn’t anticipating spring’s arrival.

Crystals

They look pretty much the same as last time, so no comparison shots.  I can tell you trying to set this picture up was a bear because they are all nice and smooth and didn’t want to play nice with each other.  They are now in the polish cycle and should be out on Friday.  WooHoo!

This is what they look like when you open the tumbler.

This is what they look like when you open the tumbler.

Nice and clean.  Polish here we come!

Nice and clean. Polish here we come!

Mugs

Nuthatch

Nuthatch

Other side.  Lenox Winter Greetings Everyday

Other side. Lenox Winter Greetings Everyday

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Giro d’Italia and Miscellaney

Random Thoughts

Woot!  The Giro d’Italia starts tomorrow!  I cannot wait!  I found out Universal Sports was offering online viewing for $19.99 and I whipped out the credit card.  Squee!!!  Bike racing ‘live’ in the livingroom!  (Hey, 3 weeks of fun for less than a stop to eat at Subway!)  For you non-bikers out there, this is the first of the Grand Tours (the other 2 are Le Tour de France in July and the Vuelta a Espana in August).  Even though this race was started in the late 1800’s this will be only the 95th edition of the race (It’s kinda tough to hold a race in the middle of a couple of  world wars.).  Three weeks, Denmark to Milan, of exciting, grueling bike racing on the flats, through the hills, and over the mountains.  Who will win? The race is wide open this year with no clear favorite.  Take a peak at this 3 minute teaser:

http://universalsports.com/2012/04/23/viewers-guide-2012-giro-ditalia/

Also coming up on my b-day next week (May 13) is the Amgen Tour of California.  They are supposed to be streaming it for free.  I cannot wait!  Yes, I know I said that already.  I’m going to be spoiled for choice.  The Tour of Cali is  a 1 week stage race held up and down the state, finishing in L.A.  The favorite for the race, Levi Leipheimer, who has won it 3 times, was hit by a car a while back and sustained a fracture to his fibula.  He has returned to training but has been having a lot of pain, so he doesn’t look likely to participate.  Levi came in second last year to teammate Chris Horner, another rider I like and follow.  When Levi realized he couldn’t finish first he began helping Horner, who was higher on GC.  One of my favorite moments from last year was the 2 of them crossing the finishing line on Mt. Baldy with their hands clasped together over their heads.  It is a tough year for me regarding this race because Levi and Chris now ride for different teams.  Who to cheer on?  Here’s a 2 min promo for Stage 1 given by Levi and a couple of shots of him and Chris (in yellow) crossing the line last year are in the first 20 seconds:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3W9ypZyTTw

** Subject Change**

Do you know  what I don’t like?  Lightning Bolts that zap right past your window with a “Flash, Crack, Kaboom!” all at the same time, popping you six inches straight up off the mattress and rattling the walls and windows.

*****

This quote jumped out at me:

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”  – George Sheehan

Life at Our House

Nothing exciting to report.  Spider Bait will be working this weekend and tearing his hair out trying to get a German-class video project done.  Saver of Bugs is in the middle of finals and has been hardly heard from.  (You still alive out there, babe?)

Fur Babies and Other Friends

I have to share an exasperating way in which I have been trained by my cat.  My black cat (see photo top of page), Raven, is a big baby.  And, yes, like all my critters – spoiled.  You see how he is in the picture?  He would ride around on me all day if I let him.  He is also a wuss.  We always said if a real mouse showed up, the mouse would chase him.  His favorite ‘prey’ are feathered toys or plastic milk jug rings.  He has a special ‘meow’ he uses when he ‘hunts’ and sometimes he likes to bring you his prize in the middle of the night.  This, of course, is met with a “Knock it off” followed by a boot off the bed if needed.  I do not play with animals while trying to sleep.

Raven is also our Great Black Gnat Hunter.  He can find and hunt even the tiniest of gnats.  However, about a year or so ago (I have time issues), Raven decided to graduate to bugs.  I found this out one night when he jumped up on the bed meowing he had brought me a prize.  There was a small amount of light coming into the room and I could see he was holding his head funny while patting at the bed.  Hmm, that’s different.  So I grabbed my flashlight to see what he had.  Oh, Joy.  It was a -live- wolf spider.  I think I managed a new land-speed record getting out of the bed.  Yikes!  But I didn’t think anything further about it, ’cause how many times do wolf spiders get in the house?  Then one night he hits the bed meowing ‘Prize’ and starts chasing it around the bed.  Light doesn’t move as fast as I did that night.  This time he had one of those 2-3 inch hairy centipedes, hundred-leggers we call them.  EEEEEWWWW!!!!!  That one grossed me out.  So I am now trained to sit bolt upright in bed and start turning on lights whenever I hear ‘Prize’ coming from my cat.  (Hey, Saver of Bugs, what kind of conditioning would they call this now?  I think in my day is was Adverse Conditioning.)

The night before last I heard ‘Prize’ from Raven but he was still in the doorway, so I swung my pillow in his direction and hissed ‘NOOO’ at him.  So he hunkered down in the doorway and ate it.  My BFF says that when a cat eats a hundred- legger it sounds like they’re chewing rubber.  I guess that’s as good a description as any.

You know what’s really creepy?  Every once in a while when I make the bed, I’ll find a spot on the bed spread covered all over with little legs…

Out in the Yard

Our header today is another columbine that is just coming on in my yard.

And I grabbed these 2 photos as well:

My geranium starting to bloom

One of my Rhododendrons

Mug of the Day

Woot! DONE!

Random Thoughts

I HATE this time of year.  With a passion.   To top it all off, I was soooo sure that the college financial crap was due the same day as taxes.  Oops.  Nope.  They were still due on the 15th even though it was a Sunday and taxes were due on the 17th.  AND my daughter had popped off to LARP for the weekend (6-ish hrs away) and she hadn’t done her taxes either.   Did I mention how much I hate this time of year?  Did I mention how much I love Skype?  We pulled some bull sessions on Skype, each working on whatever, able to ask each other, “Do you have this?” or “What do I do here?” just as if we were in the same room.  I love Skype.

Once upon a time I was an organized person.  I knew where all the paperwork was and taxes were filed early.  I want that back.  To that end, I dug out some envelopes and file folders and sorted what paperwork I had found and had done.

They are now in my ‘full of out of date stuff’ file cabinet.  But they are where they should be.

“Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Edward Young

And to march myself forward tomorrow:

“To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.”                                                     – Harriet Beecher Stowe

So here’s to being “great in little things”.

Life At Our House

Last night was one of two spring Concert Band concerts.  We have been listening for weeks to our son say how bad it was and no one was doing well and no one needed to come to this concert, blah, blah, blah.  So we really didn’t tell anyone to come but insisted we were coming, get over it, we’re supporting the band and it’s just us… you get the picture.  Are we allowed to smack our kids over the head with heavy objects?  Because it was one of the best concerts of late (there have been some truly bad ones not too far back), the music choices were great, my MIL would have loved it, and I just want to smack my kid.  So we had our say in the car along the lines that he was being entirely too picky (there were 7th graders and one 6th grader playing with them) and we’re inviting people always from here on in.  He, of course, thinks we’re nuts for liking it.  Sigh (of aggravation).  However, the one ‘fun for everyone’ part was this awesome tie he got for Christmas (I wish I could show you how spiffy he looked, but he doesn’t want to have his face on the blog):

Fur Babies and Other Friends 

The animals were being very uncooperative today about having their pictures taken.  But I did get a lucky shot of Jake stress yawning at me.

Out in the Yard 

Between the weather and the taxes I did not get to play outside this week so far.  But I have bunches of ‘in the yard’ posy pictures.  I even grabbed a couple after dinner tonight.  Here is one of my favorite flowers and the header tonight – Columbine.

Crystals

Did you know Petrified Wood is considered a crystal?  Petrified Wood is fossilized wood.  This is where the organic material has been replaced by minerals, usually agate, chalcedony, or quartz (all crystal material).  The most common sources  are the USA and  Madagascar.  The astrological association of Petrified Wood is Leo and it is associated with the Base Chakra.

Petrified Wood is another calming crystal.  Good for de-stressing and mental balance, it is also good for the bones and can help with arthritis.  It can help access past lives and help look at periods of Time in fresh ways to help with life lessons.  Just holding it in your hand and looking at it is amazingly soothing.  Hold Petrified Wood or place as needed on body.

(I apologize for the flash spot, but I could NOT find a way to photograph this without shine!)

And my mug for tomorrow will be:

Have you guys figured out yet that I like flowers?  🙂