Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meet Charlotte

This is Charlotte.  Isn't she beautiful?  She's a garden spider, or Argiope aurantia if you want to be technical.  Not harmful to humans, only to bugs, I love having garden spiders around.

When we lived on Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD, I had to grow my tomatoes in pots on the deck because we weren't allowed to have vegetable gardens in base housing.  One summer, a garden spider took up residence in one of my tomatoes.  Over the course of the summer, we watched her grow from a small spiderling to a very large adult.  We named her Charlotte, after the main character in Charlotte's Web.  In our house on base, I had a big, open kitchen/dining area that exited out to the deck.  When the weather started getting cooler and the tomato plants were starting to suffer, I brought them inside and had them under grow lights in the dining area until the last of the tomatoes ripened.  And Charlotte came inside too.  It just seemed rude to kick her out of her home, and we'd grown kind of fond of her.  I watched her carefully, and she never left her web.  We tossed in bugs for her from time to time.  She actually lived another few months, then one morning, I found her in the pot where she'd fallen when she died.  She'd simply come to the end of her life cycle.  So, through the years, we have called all garden spiders Charlotte, and we are always happy to see one making a home somewhere in our flowers.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This was my lunch yesterday...straight from the garden to my plate!  Well, the squash did make a slight detour through the skillet with some non-stick spray, salt and pepper.  Perfect!

So yummy!  I love my garden!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Ta-Daa!  Here it is!

I think we are about finished with the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden...for now! Click here, here, and here to see how things have changed.

Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden

Look at this rose bush! This is the second blooming since we planted it, and it's amazing!

We have lots of different perennials planted that just need to grow and spread, and some that have not bloomed yet, but will yet this season.  While we wait for that to happen, we have put in some annuals to help fill in the gaps.  Over the next few years, this garden will grow and change, and I'm sure it will be tweaked here and there, and I would like to find or make some kind of memorial plaque, but I haven't decided exactly what I'd like to do as far as that goes.  I've kicked some ideas around, and looked at some things, but nothing seems just right yet, and I don't mind being very picky about it.

Did you notice that the landscaping rocks inside the garden are gone?  They just weren't working, so we moved them out and filled in with dirt, then put in many more plants.  I'm sure Grandma Rose is up in Heaven approving the change, and probably saying, "I told you so!".

Love you and miss you, Grandma!

Monday, July 16, 2012


As I was watering my flower garden Friday evening, I didn't see a large bumblebee just going about his business, and accidentally watered him, too.  Poor thing was soaked and tried to fly, but just went bump, bump, bumping along the driveway, then stopped and just sat there.  I felt bad for the poor thing, so I let him crawl up onto my hand so he wouldn't get stepped on or something while he couldn't fly.  I wasn't afraid of getting stung, these bees are pretty docile.  I wasn't grabbing at him or trying to hurt him.

Poor drenched bumblebee

So I went on with my watering as the bee just crawled around a little bit on my hand.  As he dried, he would get his wings going a few times, but still wasn't able to take off.  Then finally, he was dry enough, and made a bee-line (har har) out of there.  I hope he wasn't too insulted by his unscheduled bath!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

From the Garden

I am so excited!  This evening I got to harvest the first ripe tomatoes of the summer!  They are on the small side, but the plants are loaded with many more tomatoes that are quite a bit larger and nicely sized for slicing.

As soon as the picture was taken, the smaller of the two was washed, wedged, and eaten.  There is nothing like summer's first taste of garden tomato.  It is heavenly!

We have already been enjoying sweet banana peppers for awhile, and tomorrow I think I will be able to pluck the first of the yellow summer squash.  Soon we will have lots of cucumbers and bell peppers; both red and yellow varieties.  I can hardly wait!

Ah, garden's bounty.  It doesn't get much better than this!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

This is the teeny tiny little camper my friend, Gwen, bought last week.  If you hadn't already, you can read about our trip to Cheyenne to pick it up here.

Previous owner showing the camper to Gwen.

It is 13 feet long, but that includes the tongue, so really the camper has only about 10 feet of living space. Isn't it just adorable???  It definitely is one of the cutest things I've ever seen.  It's in really good condition, and just needed some minor repairs, some cleaning, and things like new tires.  Even so, it was a very good deal, and it is just perfect for Gwen and her two dogs. The entire thing only weighs about 950 pounds, and is designed to be pulled by a small 4 cylinder car.  Gwen will pull it with her Jeep.  Can't wait until we can all go camping again so she can try it out!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dry Dry, and Answered Prayer

I have talked about how hot and dry conditions are right now, and about all of the fires because of these conditions, in a couple of previous posts (here and here).  Our county, and many counties and even states, around us have extensive fire bans.  For our county, if it has anything to do with fire or could cause a fire, it's probably safe to say it's banned.  This includes things like charcoal bbq's, all fireworks including the town's show, and some activities that keep some businesses from being able to fully function.  Anyway, the fire danger is extreme, and so are the bans.

On Tuesday, Chad and I went with a friend to Cheyenne to pick up a camper she'd purchased.  As soon as we got out of town and away from irrigated lawns, it was very obvious as to why we've got these fire bans.  Suddenly we'd entered a completely different landscape from what we are used to seeing this time of year, and it didn't improve the entire trip.  Cheyenne is about 4 hours away, and that was a long drive through the dry dry desert.  We saw the evidence along the way of some of the large wildfires burning, with huge columns of smoke visible in the morning, and smoke so thick in the afternoon on our way back, that it was more like fog.  Whole mountain ranges were obscured and seemed like they'd just disappeared.

It was scary to think about how easy it would be for a fire to start in our county and quickly get out of control.  We did see where some grass fires had been, but fortunately they were put out before they'd burned more than several acres.

Usually, things are still green and growing this time of year.  But not now. This was our view for several hundred miles:

There's no decent food growing for livestock, there won't be any good hay crop this year, even the sagebrush is shriveled, and it's some of the toughest stuff out there.  It is sobering to see the landscape.

Then, yesterday and last night, we had a bit of a reprieve, and certainly an answer to prayer.  We received over half an inch of rain from passing storms!  I know some of the surrounding areas got even more rain.  I hope the active fire areas near us got a good drenching!  Along with the rain, we have much cooler temperatures today.  It's not enough for our dry dry desert to fully recover, but every drop counts, and it was good to see our parched land get some moisture.  Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful rain!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Smoky 4th

Yesterday was the 4th of July (and my mother's birthday, you can read about it here), and we woke to extremely smoky skies.  While we don't have any fires burning in our immediate area, we are surrounded by wildfires, some of them very large; one has reached 250,000 acres burned, and still going.  Chad and Megan were scheduled to run the Firecracker 4 Mile race at 7 a.m., but due to the extreme smoke, I didn't want Megan having to breathe that (I didn't want Chad to run in it either, but he was determined, and did run the race).

I went outside just before 7 a.m. to place a few flags around the yard, and snapped a few quick photos.  The sunlight was eerie and red from the smoke, and I imagined this might be what it looks like on Mars. Just that short time outdoors had me coughing, eyes watering, and head pounding.  When I came back inside, I smelled like I'd been in front of a campfire all night!

Our red, smoky morning.

The camera cannot do justice to the color of the tree. It was glowing orange, and looked like it was on fire.

Thankfully, as the morning went on, the wind changed direction and cleared out much of the smoke, so we were able to enjoy some time outside.

Later, as the sun set and the moon began to rise, we were treated to a cool sight.  The moon was very orange from the smoke in the air, and looked a lot like a block of cheddar cheese.  Since the fireworks show was cancelled in our town, seeing the beautiful moon was our 4th of July nighttime celebration in the sky.

It was sort of a strange 4th of July, but overall, it was a very pleasant one.  How was your 4th?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Mother

Yes, today is not only our nation's birthday, it's my mother's birthday! She's our own personal firecracker!

There was an ice cream cake.

With lots of candles, but not quite 71 candles!

She got them all blown out!

She even got a little exercise! There is a small wooden block on the deck...the rest is explained in the video:

Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you!

Happy Birthday, USA!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blah About Blogging

Well, here I am again.  The point I always reach when I decide to start a journal.  The point I reached several years ago when I started this blog in 2007, then quickly forgot all about it.  The point of feeling blah about blogging.  I don't know if it's because I'm just bored from "hearing" myself through blogging, or if I'm busy and just don't want to spend a bunch of time blogging.  It might be that the weather has been so hot with many days over 100° (we've reached the "dog days of summer" in June), and the air stinky and thick with smoke from fires in our state and neighboring states. It feels like both things are making my brain and motivation bone numb.  What, you don't have a motivation bone?  Well I do, and usually it's working much better than it has been lately.  Maybe it's a combination of things.  Whatever it is, I really do feel sort of blah about it all.

Why do I care if I blog or not?  Well, partly it's just a finish what I started thing.  Also, a certain lovely cousin of mine outed my blogging (she really is lovely, I don't mean this in any sort of sarcastic way), making it harder to just drop it again, since I've literally had people from all over the world reading my posts.  I do really have things I'd like to write about, like how we're nearly done, except for a few minor finishing touches, with the Rose McLaughlin Memorial Garden (it's undergone a lot of changes, and is very nice, if I do say so myself), pictures to share, and a few other things.  But, it's all sort of feeling like homework to me right now, and not so much fun.

So. Since I am feeling so blah about blogging, I guess this post will be my great insight for the day...week...or longer.  I think I'll take a walk around the blogging block, and see how I feel.  Who knows?  I just might get my inspiration and motivation back.