Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Zonkey see, zonkey do

Tessa and the zonkey: zebra dad; donkey mom
columbine rescued from old house
rescued iris  I thought I brought over my lavender colored ones but no sign of them
blue jay tile which cost more than my hand tiled shelf it is resting on
irises from Josh's father-in-law
sun coming through my glass pretties this morning

I finally updated to Windows 10 hoping that it has superior security as I am unable to download anything without being hijacked by various viruses. Not sure I like this platform. It has taken me a while to find stuff and I can't open any of my videos so no, I'm not a fan.

The drought continues with perhaps some relief in 2 days but the weather has been good for biking. 108 miles in 8 days. Sunday found me on the road by 6 am. Blissfully free of traffic. I thought I would encounter deer but no, I am more likely to on my runs. I did go by sandhill cranes who make such primitive noises. Late at night Steve looked out the window and saw a coyote lurking through our backyard lit only by the moon and my solar flying pigs. No time for a photo.

On Memorial Day, we had a BBQ here with all our kids, their kids and spouses plus a father-in-law. I wish I had planned better so I would have spent less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the kids outside. We made Moscow Mules. I also wish I took more photos ( I took none!) A good photo: the 5 kids trailing Naomi trying to get the soccer ball from her. Also the grandkids all on the patio sucking on red, white and blue popsicles turning their tongues blue.

It was nice though. People seemed to get along and the weather was perfect.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Succulent birdcage

we went to a massive greenhouse sale yesterday where they had good prices on succulent plantings. In the winter, this will look good suspended over my bathtub

I have pinks of various colors blooming
pond is now surrounded by tuberous begonias. Once they grow a bit more, it will look nice

irises rescued from the old house finally bloomed. Wished I brought back all the irises
I have a huge area of evening primrose that has just started to bloom

In the beginning of the week, the forecast was for thunderstorms for 5 days straight. Instead, we have had only about 10 minutes of  light rain. They were only right about the heat: hot and humid. It has been an effort to keep things watered. Good thing water is free (except for the electricity to pump it up).
This has been sort of a boring week. All my friends are either gone or too busy. I did see two of my granddaughters on various days. I have been gardening quite a bit. Still much needs to be done. I made more flower baskets that need to grow to fill in. The pesky squirrel noticed the fresh orange slice on the oriole feeder and went for it. Licked  off every drop of grape jelly too. I haven't seen the orioles in a few days. Hopefully they didn't disappear along with the grosbeaks.
I've biked over 72 miles this week along with running quite a bit. I will be in shape.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Squirrel and orange

Super senior day at the Salvation Army. Will put this hand carved wood plate above the cabinets in the kitchen where it will match

One of the 6 or so planters I've made this week
The frog pond: note frog statue and frog planter. Still need to add stuff to this. Solar water lilies still work
dried up oriole orange..yum
Maya this morning
And last night. She hasn't quite got the hang of alternating force on the pedals. When she pedals backwards, the bike stops

Now it is summer suddenly with temps in the high eighties to 90s. It was only 40 degrees when I got up Monday but with the very low humidity, the temps skyrocketed 45 degrees. I've been trying to keep my new plantings moist until they have enough roots to fend for themselves.

Running, biking, gardening, running after Maya has been exhausting. We finally filed our appeal to the State to protest the over assessment of our property by the local yokels. The local board did cut the base half way between their outrageous assessment and what we paid but we want it down to what we paid. That is the definition of 'market rate'. For a while, Zillow was adding $1000 a day to our alleged market value though now it is only $500 a day. Are market prices rising that much in Michigan? Nope. For instance, the house that we backed out on has increased in value only about $3000 versus the $120,000 of this house. What is different is the township. One township's assessor is realistic and the other crazy pie in the sky.

 We will go out tonight. Yay!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Moscow mules

two of my mule mugs

Allie was thrilled when she found the garage sale bike I got for Maya. She instantly proclaimed: My bike!
Preparing this took forever Notice two huge rhubarb plants and some kale that didn't go away. Now has 48 additional plants: Swiss chard, a variety of peppers, squash, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes. This time I gave the plants plenty of room
chestnut blossoms . The hummingbirds have been seen on them instead of my feeders
The other team didn't show up for the game Maya is number 2
garage sale art. These are original paintings. Look good in the bedroom

I almost slept through the night last night! Gone are the days in which I will close my eyes at night to open them  when it is light out. Usually I need to amuse myself with podcasts so not to disturb Steve, waiting impatiently for dawn. I assume that I slept 9 hours straight because I was exhausted with all that I did this weekend.
I was on the road before 7 yesterday trying to beat the traffic and the north winds that would intensify as the day progressed. I had meant to go 30 miles but at the farthest point I realized that I miscalculated and unless I made some major route changes, it would be closer to 40. I ended up taking some dirt roads, which fortunately weren't in bad shape whittling the route to 32. Long enough for the shape I am currently in. It was a good ride. Riding north as the sun came up to my left, the bright light flickered through the trees like a strobe. In susceptible people, this could set off seizures. I only saw a few deer but in a long stretch, I saw plenty of horses and a few peacocks.
The day before after a morning of both running and biking, I spent more than 3 hours clearing the vegetable garden to plant my vegetables. I really hate bending down for so long. It was a sore body I took on my long ride the next day. As I lay on the couch recovering, Steve asked me if I would like him to prepare me a drink (he rarely asks this). Sure. I let him surprise me. Unbeknownst to me, he got me a set of Moscow mule mugs and the ingredients. I love ginger and lime combinations. His mule was much tastier than the last few ones I had at bars recently. Anyway, it really hit he spot.
We also cleared out the pond, a disgusting job. I haven't set up the waterfall yet because I need some shade loving plants to go around it. I made a few flower planters, a much more enjoyable task. Way more needs to be done including clearing a patch of all things, buttercups. They are very hard to get rid of. A new plague for me.
A new bird appeared at my bedroom feeder: a hairy woodpecker, which looks just like a downy (of whom I have 4 regulars) but is about 2 inches longer and has a much larger bill. I was afraid to move to get the camera as they are much shyer of people (downies ignore me).
The wrens are back checking out their old house. They are quite plain but sing so nicely. They don't come to the feeder but were very efficient picking off invaders in my garden. The swallows haven't come back to their old nests but are patrolling the yard for bugs too.
We did get a visit from Josh and Allie yesterday, a good day to be outside. Her bangs are now covering her eyes so her early baldness is over.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A dragon and an elephant

My dragon pedestal. Josh likes dragons. I bought it thinking it would be a good platform for a dragon statue I had given him but now I've become attached despite Steve and a friend saying it is ugly

hand carved Ghana elephant
adolescent grosbeak still hanging around
where to put this?
pretty hand thrown dish
Finally we have some nice weather so I have been bicycling and running a lot. What I should be doing is draining the pond to replace the fetid water with clean before mosquitos breed. We needed work done on the house (yep, the year warranty is up and things break down: garage door opener, sump pump, some shingles, door jamb) but my friend who had leukemia came over with her handy boyfriend(who did much of the work on The Albatross) who fixed all except the roof. I went to a garage sale in a fancy neighborhood. Fancy houses generally have nice stuff and tend to price things  low so yay. I got a bicycle for Maya among other things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When pigs fly

solar flying pigs mobile. They change colors at night. Yes I am easily amused

This cutie visited this afternoon

She likes to dress up. Her head is covered with about 30 tiny braids
the azaleas are blooming
Out on my runs and bikes, I smell the sweet aroma of lilacs and honeysuckle. The Cooper's hawk is still visiting her nest; the orioles, grosbeaks, and various woodpeckers are still visiting though the crowned sparrows have gone north. Maybe tomorrow, I will plant some vegetables.
All the Moms are off on their own adventures but I still have a few friends left here to keep me occupied. Yesterday I went shopping with one of them and later had lunch and visited with another. Tuesday evenings I have Maya. Last night went much more smoothly than they previous week probably as she was tired from soccer practice and  running around here outside. She made a special point of trying to be compliant. She likes her routines; must have Greek yogurt with fig butter in the evening and waffles with plenty of syrup in the morning. Before practice, she asked her mom for an 'ugly' muffin at McDonald's. Huh? You know the one with eggs and cheese?
Rare dinner out with the hubby tonight. Perhaps I will have a Moscow Mule at the Happy Hour first.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Coloring for adults

We were given a choice of crayons or colored pencils

colorers at work
Maya's braids
female oriole Not as pretty as the male below
oriole, red wing blackbird and woodpecker

It is the middle of May and it was snowing. I did put my newly planted pots on the porch but for the flowers in the ground, well I hope they are all right. It never got much warmer than 45 degrees and it was windy to boot so no long bike ride. I will battle traffic today instead. I did run a long way perpendicular to the winds through the woods.
On Saturday, between rains, we did go to Maya's soccer game watching from a parked car. Most of the girls played in winter coats. She and her step sister were missing in action at the beginning of the game. They were following one of the earlier versions of the much revised schedule. It was halftime by the time I had Dontae bring the girls. Maya played goalie. Still clueless but maybe she is just too immature for this. Her mama usually was one of the best on the field.
Josh and Allie came over Sunday morning. The basement comes in handy when it is too cold to play outside. She can finally pedal a tricycle.
Coloring with the Moms in the middle of an upscale grocery store while drinking cheap craft beers was fun. All the tables were full though we saw, big surprise, hardly any men.
My maybe chicken, maybe turkey of the last post was neither. It is a guinea fowl which is a type of partridge. They are kept around as they love to eat ticks keeping chickens clean plus they are easily tamed. Still it was a surprise to find it strutting down a subdivision street though it would have been a short fly from some nearby farms.
Last night was spent learning the ins and outs of Ancestry.com while of course, drinking wine. I haven't learned much yet that is new except my uncle who killed himself was much younger than I had thought. His brother died on the same day of natural causes 56 years later. It will be a month before we get the results of our DNA testing. Should be interesting.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Chicken or turkey?

WTF? This strange creature I found strolling a neighborhood while I was biking yesterday. It seemed fairly tame making cooing sounds as I closed in. Some runners passing by shouted 'turkey!" but I haven't found any turkeys online resembling it. It was big enough to be a turkey and has the long bare neck of one.  I have found chickens with the same colors (my hairdresser has one but without the other features). The genome of chickens seems much more malleable. Zillions of diverse breeds versus maybe 7 of turkeys. Like cats versus dogs. Cats really don't vary a lot versus the different dog breeds.

lilac season. I brought some inside to fill the house with their wonderful fragnance
cardinal couple. Often they seem to be kissing passing food from one to the other
I have at least 2 possibly 3 males. They sit just a foot away from me outside my bathroom window. They are amazingly tiny
This speckled grosbeak is a teenager. His tan feathers will turn black once he is mature
Let's check out the oriole feeder if the 3 feeders I set out specifically for the hummingbirds aren't enough

Foiled again by the rain and cold and wind. Will all that I planted yesterday survive the possible frost tonight? Finally made myself do some gardening work yesterday after a long bike ride. Much needs to be done though I tell myself I really didn't do a whole lot here last year until June and things looked fine. What was I doing instead? The workmen finally had left  The Albatross so I spent a week scrubbing and fixing things up to prepare it for the market. This involved a lot of gardening. I see the buyers aren't much into lawn care or gardening. I wish I had transplanted a lot more of my stuff as nothing is being taken care of. It's been almost 6 months since The Albatross was no longer our responsibility, such a relief even though we gave it away practically. Should not have caved to their incessant demands. Oh well, spilt milk.
Will the weather be better this afternoon for a run? Drier, warmer but with more wind. Then off to a Mom's night out.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Morels and masks

Aren't they pretty? Someone gave me them at my cooking class. I will fry them in butter

My wall of masks. Top is a plastic and cloth mask bought in Venice: middle two Indian metal and the bottom is a ceramic mask bought yesterday
rhubarb flower growing. Some say I should cut it off so the energy will go into stem production
sunrise today
another male tags after him whose plumage isn't as bright. His yearling son?

According to the forecast, thunderstorms were to begin at 9:25 so I ran and biked early only to find that they will come at 3:30 instead just as the sprinkler system guy comes. As our outside tap leaks, Steve has shut the outside water supply off, which is a real pain to get the few things I have watered so I hope this is not cancelled.
Morels seem to grow best in Michigan. I suspect we have some in our communal forest that I have yet to explore due to alleged presence of ticks. Ticks seem to be latching on to people who haven't even waded through underbrush this year. But someone in my cooking class says that this year, there were a bumper crop of morels in her yard. And they are big! There is a toxic look alike called the false morel which has a larger stem to head ratio. True morels are hollow inside versus being full of some white cottony substance so I will check that out before consuming.
Subject of our class? Herbs. She tried to incorporate as many as possible in our pasta primavera and various sauces for fish. We were given mint sprigs to plant at home. Not needed here. Since we had a mild winter, some plants came back that normally would have died: kale, a bit of the Swiss chard,and rosemary. Also the cilantro reseeded so I have a zillion plants. Never can have too much cilantro. There is actually a gene for the ability to taste cilantro. For those who lack it, cilantro tastes like soap. I am a taster though so yay.


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