Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Centus: A Sock Full of Money


Just like the last several weeks, Jenny has given us a challenge where we can't actually use a word in the writing, but must convey the word in our 100 word creation. 

The word this week is:

TREASURE

I have chosen to continue my story. Funny, but I normally don’t care to read serial stories, and I didn’t intend to write one, but... sometimes the pen takes me into uncharted territory!

My first chapters were inspired by the words:


.... and so the story continues:

She marched resolutely from the auction building with single-minded purpose. The sock containing bills and coins bumped against her leg. Her precious cache she collected through the year: change from grocery purchases, loose coins found in the dryer,  and the $20 bill she discovered in the pocket of her winter coat. She spotted the pony in a dusty corral amongst a small herd of decrepit, dejected souls. Her heart ached. She wanted to buy them all. A man wearing stained overalls stretching over his rotund abdomen advanced. She ignored his stench and announced,  “I must buy that pony.”

To read other responses to Jenny's one-word prompt, visit her site by clicking below:

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's a Sunny Day

They never fail to put a smile on my face...







Last year I planted just a few sunflowers. This could have been momma to this year's crop. 


The variety of colors and sizes we have this year is so much fun to see. This year's seeds are going to be scattered near the fence along the road. The deer will probably eat them, but won't it be fun to see a few happy faces of those that escape as you drive by each day?!




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Deer in the Night

The deer have been plaguing us, and the plague is just beginning. The scorched prairie grasses around us offer little browse for the deer, so they boldly ravage our shrubs and gardens...and our new trees. They are eating things deer aren't supposed to like to eat - but those things are green and growing. The living plants have chlorophyll that works its magic, turning sunlight and water into sugars. The dried grasses no longer manufacture sugar, and probably don't taste nearly as yummy... to a deer.

Mr. Dreamy likes to 'hunt' the deer at night - with a flashlight. He steps out during commercial breaks, stalking the deer and chasing them off. Last night, the doe would not be chased away. She jumped the fence and stood her ground. (Sadly, we didn't have a camera that could do the job... but I found images that sorta look like what we saw!)


When Mr. Dreamy turned, he discovered why. Her twin fawns were trapped in our yard. They were too small to jump the fence, as momma had done, and too large to crawl under it. So momma waited for Mr. Dreamy to leave.


Mr. Dreamy turned his back, and the fawns disappeared! Evidently they hunkered down in the grasses or the clumps of wild current. They did a fabulous job as Mr. Dreamy could not find them, even with his very bright flashlight.

Momma hung around. When Mr. Dreamy left, evidently she returned to the aid of her fawns. And, since there are no deer in that corner of our yard this morning, I can only assume she escorted her youngsters out the gate.

Perhaps I should check with Santa about bringing a trailcam for Mr. Dreamy.... nawwww, it might be too upsetting to see just how many deer visit our flowers.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

.... and Two for Trees

.... we decided to visit just one more tree farm. This one was on the other side of the city,  a bit more than an hour from our home. We had seen the farm on a recent RV trip and it looked like it had a huge selection.

We were on our way again....

We were not disappointed. We were escorted around the property on a golf cart. The tree farm/nursery covers 35 acres of land! The fellow taking us around was knowledgeable. Most of their trees were 50% off. We were looking for limber pines and Canada Red cherry trees. The limber pines were too large for us to handle, and the delivery fee would be far too high since we lived so far from the tree farm. But, he showed us some nice-sized, easy enough to handle, Austrian Pines. They would perform as nicely as the limber pines... so, we picked out two. Then we went to see the cherry trees. We selected two multi-stem branching trees. Then... we stopped by to see one more tree. It was love at first sight. We purchased a Downy Hawthorn.


Do you see why we fell in love?

We found our trees: nice quality, and nice price. So, they were a little smaller than we wanted, but we would be able to plant them ourselves, and save even more money. Win. Win!

The trees were bound and wrapped for transit.


Personnel from the tree farm loaded them in our truck.


Mr. Dreamy cranked up his lawn mower on steroids
to unload the trees. 


The next morning we started the process of planting.
Oh no!


Our soil is clay. It has been baking in the sun all summer.
In 15 minutes we were able to dig out a few 'bricks',
but we didn't make much headway.

Time to bring in the big guns...


It worked well!


The trees are planted and they are looking great!
Now, they just have to grow.... a lot!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trees for Two

It seemed like a reasonable idea when Mr. Dreamy suggested it. After all, he had seen some trees at a "Big Box Store" that looked pretty nice and were decently priced. If we planted some trees in front of the new garage, it would break up the bigness of the facade and it wouldn't look so... so... BIG!


Off we went, looking at trees. 
The trees he had seen were a nice size, but they hadn't been watered properly and the leaves were already beginning to curl. We were both angry that the store had failed to take care of the trees. The folks in the garden center just shrugged their shoulders, saying they could only water first thing in the morning by city ordinance, and they'd let the people who do the watering know that the trees needed to be watered.

We went on down the road
to a beautiful garden center. Their trees were 25% off their rather high retail price. They were lovely, and certainly something to consider.

We went on down the road 
to another garden center. They didn't have the specific type of tree we desired, and their trees were only 10% off. The trees they had that we were considering were large balled and burlapped trees. The planting charge would be 1/2 the cost of the original price of the tree, on top of a delivery fee.

We went on down the road.
The next stop was at a struggling garden center. We had to climb up and over dirt piles, and negotiate a trail between puddles to maneuver between and among the rows of trees. There were "sold" tags on the trees. We couldn't find prices. It was unbearably hot. We went inside the building and found a price list. Finally a worker (the owner?) came over and went over the prices with us. The "Sold" trees had been sold to their nursery. He supposed he should take those markers off. The trees were not a bargain and there would be no discount for planting and delivery.

We went on down the road...
And so our afternoon progressed, stopping at two more tree farms. We came home. We were hot. We were tired. We had numbers swirling through our heads. We talked trees that evening. We settled on what we wanted to buy, and where.

But....

(to be continued)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Centus: Ethereal

Ah, Jenny is toying with us once more. Evidently she had so much fun giving us just one word to write about last week, that she has done it again! We must write about the word “ETHEREAL”, but we may not use the word in our response. In addition, Jenny has challenged us to use exactly 100 words.

Last week we wrote about "Forbidden".  Several readers suggested they wanted to know more about my response. I guess they wanted the next chapter. So I decided to continue on that theme. Let's see where it goes!


His touch fluttered lightly on her arm. Dust motes danced in the mystical shaft of sunlight playing on his hair. The slight boy wore faded overalls and tracks from tears fractured the dirt on his face. She saw the anguish of loss in the depth of his blue eyes. “Thanks for tryin’,” he said, in a soft, breathy voice. She wanted to say something, but he was gone. She wished to put her arm around him and give him a reassuring squeeze, yet he had vanished. She left the auction arena, clutching the sock filled with odd bills and coins.


To read more responses to Jenny's challenge, click on the image below.

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scene Along the Road: Bison

Question:
What did Mama Buffalo say to her son when he went off to college?


Answer:
Bison!

These cute little (?) fellas live just down the road from us. The majority of the pasture isn't visible from the road, so it is rare to actually see them. Up until last week I thought there was only one calf. It was a pleasant surprise to see two of them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Flight

OMG! I did it! 
I left the nest.
I flew!


Hey, where'd you go?
How did you do that?
We wanna come, too.



C'mon.
You can do it.
Just flap your wings!


If I can do it,
you can do it!


Last one out of the nest is a rotten egg!


I'm coming.
Wait for me.
I think I can.... I think I can....



Swallows in McCall, ID in July.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

While You Were Out

Long, long ago.... before I blogged.... before I moved.... before my baby went to college... we lived in a little house in the big woods. We had lived there forever!
My bedroom was boring. It had off-white walls. It had off-white carpet. It had off-white vertical blinds. It was bland. It was blah.
It was B-O-R-I-N-G!




My hubby and my son were planning to go off on a class trip for a week. I began planning and scheming, too. I was going to transform the bedroom into a country cottage. The minute they stepped out the door, I went to work! First stop, big box home improvement store to buy paint, hardi-plank exterior siding, plantation shutters, wood trim, nails and screws, and scrapers, and brushes, and all of those other things that are needed for renovation.


Next step, move the furniture and cover what couldn't be moved. (I discovered that our wonderfully comfortable double coil mattress was impossible to move. You might ask why I hadn't noticed that when vacuuming under it... eh?!) For days I painted. I sawed. I hammered. I sanded. I sewed. (Later, I wondered whether sitting around, reading books, watching movies and eating chocolate chip cookies might have been just as more rewarding!)


I was exhausted. I burned the midnight oil.
I performed physical 'man' labor.
But...
it all came together in the end.


The room had a new paint job. The interior walls and the top of the exterior walls were painted "Jekyll Island Clubhouse Terra Cotta". (It looks a tad bit more pink in the pictures than it really is.) The exterior walls had hardi-plank siding placed horizontally. The siding has subtle wood grain so when you see it in person, you notice the texture. There is a piece of molding on top of the planking which allowed me to prop pictures on it and display small bric-a-brac. 


I installed plantation shutters on the windows, sewed valences for the windows and the sliding door, and created a bed skirt with the same fabric. The fabric looks like old blue and white mattress ticking and the pleats are tied with ribbon the same color as the walls.  I built a shelf for the TV (how laughable, now, with our flat screen TV's - but remember... this transformation took place a while back!)
I loved the transformation.


Mr. Dreamy wasn't quite so sure he loved it. At least not at midnight when he got in after a long day of travel, turned on the light, and thought he had walked into the wrong house! Later he admitted that it was a nice surprise. But, I've noticed that he hasn't left me home alone since then. I guess he's afraid of what I might do while he is away!



Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Centus: Verboten


Jenny has a different sort of challenge for us this week. First, she has challenged us to use exactly 100 words. I always try to hit the word count on the head, so this isn't new for me. However, there is another twist to her prompt. We must write about the word “FORBIDDEN”, but using that word in our writing is verboten! I added another angle in my response.... see if you notice it!



Despite the dissonance clanging in her head she timidly raised her hand... just a bit. Enough. Her gesture was acknowledged. Babble swirled through her brain; Ben's stern words intermingled with the monotonous chant of the auctioneer. She was torn; obey her man's edict that she could not buy, or follow her heart. She raised her hand again, counting her money. The words swirled above her, out of reach.  As she left the arena, a small hand touched her arm, “I'm sorry. Thanks for biddin’ on ‘em,” said the young boy who earlier had been lovingly brushing the old, broken pony.



You can read other responses to Jenny Matlock's challenge by clicking on the link below:

Jenny Matlock

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bizarre Beauty

As I separated the trees weeds from the forest flowers and found my garden, I noticed a few plants that had not succumbed to the urge to grow taller and reach for the sun. A few others were sprouting 'babies' - a reaction to the stress of being crowded by weeds, or so I thought. They were pretty in their own right.

Alien plants.


Some showed variations in color.



Others put up small plants on stalks,
instead of petals.



Do you recognize my plants gone wild?
They are my Echinacea purpurea 
also known as purple coneflower.


After having spent a little time with my smartest friend, Google, I now know that my plants have been infected with a bacteria called phytoplasma. Phytoplasma are small, parasitic pathogens of insects and plants. The insects, generally some sort of 'leaf hopper', acquire the bacteria in juices they when they feed on infected plants, and then inject it into new plants. The plants can live for several years, but generally are not as hardy as uninfected plants. I found it interesting that one of my plants has some stalks that are infected and others that show normal development. I do think that stress was a factor in making my plants more susceptible.  Now, I have to decide whether to remove the diseased plants, or see if they can overcome the bacteria. Since the disease can infect a number of plants, I'm leaning towards a humane end.

The information I found about phytoplasma came from the Phytoplasma Resource Center. Their Web site included a list of symptoms. These are symptoms I noticed on my plants, including links to the Resource Center's images:

Phyllody - development of leaf-like growths in place of normal flower parts (image 1) (image 2)

Virescence - development of green color in place of normal flower color (image 1

Witches broom - abnormal, excessive proliferation of axillary shoots resulting in a broom-like growth (image 1)

Yellowing - leaves loose normal green color, becoming yellow (image 1)

Little leaf - development of abnormally small leaves (image 1)

Proliferation - abnormal growth of numerous stems (shoots) (image 1)

Stunting - overall reduction of plant height due to shortening of internod


Bunchy top - shortening of internodes at and near the tip of a branch, resulting in bunched growth at the end of the branch


Nature never ceases to amaze and delight me!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And, On the Seventh Day

Just one week ago a tractor came by 
and carved out a flat spot on the edge of our pasture.


A large auger, and young guys with long-handled shovels,
dug some holes.


The crew rested while they waited for inspection
and the concrete delivery.


Over the week, these piles of wood and metal....


were nailed together,


and moved,


and lifted into place.


The steel siding was screwed into place.


The roof was attached, and the doors were constructed and hung.


Our storage building was completed.


Now, if we ever need to store some of that hay we saw on our journey, we will have plenty of storage space!

Almost Home

When we left California it seemed that our trek across country would never end. Now, as we approach our final destination in southern Florid...