Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scene Along the Road: Windy

Oops!


We Dreamers wonder how often blades of the wind turbines collapse under the load of excessive winds that are frequently experienced in eastern Colorado. This was the second that we saw within afew miles of each other. 

We also saw these collapsed storage units. I found this picture on the Web, with a comment that they were damaged by winds in 2015. Wow! That must have been a lot of wind!


Monday, May 30, 2016

Flag Day

We enjoyed a sunny morning on Memorial Day. The flag came out to honor all of those who have served to protect our freedoms.


"Flags" of a different color also waved and nodded in the gentle wind. Although these aren't really "flag" iris, they are beautiful. But wait, what is the deep, dark purple iris doing in the middle of the yellow and white iris? We seem to have a rose among thorns!

This iris bed is one of several we have on the property. Since we moved in and began to water, the iris have proliferated. In 2014 I dug up this bed (and wrote about it). I exchanged iris tubers with Gail, "At the Farm". Is this one of her's? How strange to see this iris pop up amidst the existing yellow and white iris. Regardless, it is gorgeous. I will enjoy watching the blossoms over the next week. 


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! Chapter Two


Gypsy, what does the sign say?




It says they have seen a bear in the campground, 
and to be really careful.

Well, of course. 
Anyone can see that there is a bear in the campground. 
Look over your shoulder. 
What do you think that is?


 Stupid humans.

We went camping with friends in our Rocky Mountain Allegro club this week. A few freeloading bears decided to poke around the campground for some easy pickings. Or, maybe they just wanted to live the lifestyle, as this YouTube video shows.



The wildlife folks came in with two different traps, and caught the bigger of the two bears. Evidently he was the ringleader.


Once the big guy was trapped and taken away, the wildlife folks seemed to think campers wouldn't need to worry about bears any longer, and the traps were removed

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Italian Job

I went on a "drive" with the Mini5280 club. We met in a commuter parking lot on a Saturday. 33 Mini Coopers. Different colors. Different styles. Each car as unique as its owner.

My car is the fourth in line. I'm wearing a red "Mini" hat.
I am in awe of the President of the club. He was a mountain bicycler until he had a bike accident that left him a quadriplegic. He met another wheel-chair bound fellow who drove a Mini, and discovered that driving a Mini brings back some of the excitement of riding a mountain bike. (He has some use of his arms and can drive a car outfitted with hand controls.) The President plans weekly drives. Each one as unique as the Minis that are in the line-up.

Recently, the drive wound through the front range of Colorado. 


We followed each other on some fun, twisty-turny roads. 


We drove for about two hours, then descended on a local Sonic for lunch. It was the perfect day. Sunny and not too hot. More Minis joined us and we began the trek to the new Schomp Mini dealer in Highlands Ranch, CO.


There is nothing "Mini" about this dealership. It has the largest building of any dealer in the US.

I'm there.... somewhere!
The club was given an exclusive tour of the new building a few days before it opened for business.

According to our tour guide, these hoses dispense everything, including ketchup!
The highlight of the tour was our "drive through" tour. By this time we had collected 68 Minis, and we drove through the parking areas, drove into the service writer's area, then turned and drove through the service department at the dealership. It certainly was reminiscent of the movie, "The Italian Job"... well, sort of. At our fastest, we were only going 10 mph... not racing through, and we didn't go down stairs... and we didn't go up and over viaducts. Regardless, we had a great time!

I couldn't find a way to embed the video that was produced (using a drone camera). If you are interested, you can copy and paste this URL to see our drive:

https://www.facebook.com/SchompMINIColorado/videos/1058791204204796/




Monday, May 23, 2016

Do I Need a Twelve Step Program?

I think it is a disease.

Acquisition, that is.

It may be some sort of addiction.

In December I put up a post about finding an Elna sewing machine. The type of machine my mother had, and on which I learned to sew.


The machine actually worked! Having had a sewing machine catch on fire because it hadn't been serviced regularly, I decided to take my vintage 1956 machine to a sewing machine repair guy who loves working on vintage machines. He said it was a sweet machine, and that it works wonderfully, but needs a drive wheel to work a bit quieter. On my way home from picking up the machine, I made a quick stop at a thrift store.... not to shop, really, but to use the restroom. (It's and old lady thing. I had to go. I knew where the restrooms were located. No one would question my running in there. And, did I mention, I had to go!!) Afterwards, I walked around the perimeter of the store, and....

Oh. My. God!!

There's another green case. Another Elna!

This machine had a tag from a repair shop saying the motor needed to be replaced. I plugged it in. Funny, but it ran. It was noisy, like my other machine, but the motor was running, and the needle occasionally went up and down. I showed the tag to the sales clerk. I am almost embarrassed to say that she cut the price of the machine in half since the tag said it needed a motor. This machine was born the same year as the other, and after ordering drive wheels, I took both machines back to Bob, the repair guy. They are still there. He tells me he is about to get to them!

In the meantime, after lurking on a quilting Facebook page, I kept hearing about Singer Featherweights. I asked Bob, the repair guy, about them. His face lit up. He loves them. My little brain began to think about little machines and how wonderful having a very tiny, small, lightweight machine on the motorhome would be a wonderful thing. I began haunting eBay. And, as I wrote earlier, I won an auction and received a cute little machine.

I mentioned my new acquisition while visiting my sewing machine store, and the sales clerk asked if I wanted another one. Hmmmm, said I, my new one might need parts. Hmmmm, said I, the price is really, really, good. Hmmmm, said I, why not?!

So.... I now own two Singer Featherweights:


When I pick up the Elna machines from Bob, I'll drop off the Singers, and have him clean them up and help me decide which machine is the best, or rob Peter to pay Paul, cannibalizing one machine to help the other. Or, if they are both good, then maybe I'll sell one.

I can't wait to begin sewing with any of my vintage machines. Their heavy, solid metal case and works is reassuring. They are little work horses. Giddy-up... let's get going!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Well, maybe I'll just talk about Tigers. I saw one the other day. In my garden. I'm not kidding!! There I was, turning the raised garden beds. A painstaking chore. I had to step on the shovel, yank the handle down, pull out a wad of dirt, turn it, sift through it and pull out the weeds (roots and all) and start over again. I shoveled load after shovel load.

Boring! 

Back breaking! 

Bothersome! 

 I was on my second garden bed for the day. I estimated I had 5 more rows to dig up, when suddenly..... (cue "Jaws" music)

I dug up a Tiger! 

A Tiger Salamander, that is. Oh, and yes, this little lady gave out a little girly sort of squeal (and then ran to get the camera!)


This wasn't my first encounter with the species. I caught one in a trap when we lived in Black Forest. I was amazed that a critter I associate with moist, dank places actually lives in the arid area of Colorado. Both of the salamanders I encountered were in burrows. It seems that they move in when rodents move out. Hooray! This is great news! My voles may have already decided to move on!!!

And, I guess there are worse things than digging up a Tiger Salamander......

I placed the salamander near a hole in another part of the garden.
He happily slithered and slipped into the hole.
See his tail?

.... digging up half of a Tiger Salamander! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sleep My Child


Do you mind?


I'm trying to sleep.

I'm exhausted!



Afterall, 

I spent all morning mowing your lawn.





Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cussler's Last Stand

I have read every Clive Cussler novel featuring the character of Dirk Pitt. Back in the day, Clive couldn't write his novels fast enough for me... I was always waiting for the next adventure to be published. Clive's novels always feature a unique, vintage car that is usually driven in some sort of wild chase, or that has a key role in each story. One of my favorites was "Treasure", where the characters elude their pursuers by racing down a ski slope in a 1930 Cord L29.

Clive Cussler with his Cord L29
Photo from Internet
Recently we Dreamers joined the Mini5280 Club on a trip to Clive Cussler's museum. Clive used to live in Colorado, and his extensive collection of restored cars is housed here.


The collection features cars from 1900 to the 1960's


This 1956 "Woodie" belonged to a gold miner who used it to drive it to his gold mine in Montana.
It has been restored to its original colors.


This '36 Ford Cabriolet Hot Rod was featured in "Atlantis Found".
Clive found it in immaculate condition and transformed it 
into a hot rod, like the one he drove in high school. 


This car was in "Crescent Dawn"
I loved seeing all of the cars. They were all so beautifully restored, 
and most were very colorful. 

But I have to admit, my favorite display was the 
1936 Pierce-Arrow V12Berline, which was featured in "Inca Gold"


It certainly wasn't very colorful, but it's navy blue had a deep shine to it.
What I liked most is the 1936 Pierce-Arrow Travelodge Trailer that was towed by the massive Pierce-Arrow. 



It was so pretty inside!


The museum visit was great fun. The museum houses about 70 cars,  a bit more than half of Clive's collection, and the cars are rotated in and out. Many of the cars were restored by Clive and his son, Dirk. Only 17 of the cars are featured in Cussler's novels, so he has a lot of writing to do to cover his entire collection!! 

Outside of the museum there was another collection. A collection of the Mini Coopers driven by club members.  Dreaming (in pink) is looking over the Mini herd. Her new Mini is in the back row, you can only see a bit of its black top, just over the top of the red and black Mini in the center.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

or
how not to sell something on eBay

In 2003 Lynne Truss wrote a book entitled, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. She included the following story in the book to illustrate how important punctuation is to comprehension:

“A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife annual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.” 



Periodically I run into a punctuation faux-pas, and think about this story. (Caveat: I probably make many, many errors myself. I really don't claim to be an expert!)

A few weeks ago I was perusing eBay for I had decided that I would like to find a Singer Featherweight sewing machine to take on the motorhome with me. It would be the perfect machine to use where storage is limited, and it would at least allow me to piece quilt blocks and do some basic sewing. In just a few days of watching numerous auctions of Featherweights, I came to realize that these vintage machines have quite an audience. Most machines in working order were selling for more than $300, and had lively bidding wars going on with each machine having 20-30 bids as the price climbed incrementally higher. Except this one.


As I was looking through the lists of Featherweights I noticed that this machine hadn't any bids. The item remained at the opening bid listed by the seller. No takers. If one were to glance quickly at the listing and the picture, I think I see why. The picture shows the case and two other things. The listing implies that the item to be auctioned is that which is pictured, a case and those "accessories". However, had the seller put one of the 6 other pictures up as the opening picture, one of the machine, and had the seller put a comma after 1946 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine 221, Case & Accessories, he or she may have garnered more bids and sold it for a higher price. But heck, I'm happy! My new "old" machine has arrived,


and it is sew[sic] beautiful!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Battle Lines are Mown

My vegetable garden has been overrun with voles. These mice-like critters tunnel through dirt and eat seeds and roots and plants. They showed up in one of my raised beds last fall. I tried a few traps, but gave up, figuring I would deal with them in the spring. That was a mistake. A HUGE mistake!

Source: Wikipedia

Wikipedia tells me:
"They can have five to 10 litters per year. Gestation lasts for three weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. As a result of this biological exponential growth, vole populations can grow very large within a very short period of time."

So, here is a Math problem for you....

Dreaming noticed voles in her garden at the beginning of August, and for the sake of this problem let's say that at that time there was only Daddy Vole and Mommy Vole. If they had 8 cute little baby voles (litters range from 5-10), half of them were girls, and Mom and the girls subsequently had one litter of 8 more cute little baby voles every month...  and those babies joined in the baby vole production the next month, how many voles would be plaguing Dreaming by May 1st?

It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. It makes my head hurt just looking at the mess in the garden and thinking of the battles to come.

Look at the holes in my raised bed.
The dirt from the bed was moved outside of the bed,
I think to give them safer access to the garden.
Voles are active all year long. When snow is on the ground, they create "runnels" just under the snow.
I don't like to use poison, having dogs and a cat in residence. And, I like our hawks, and would hate to poison them or cause collateral damage to other wildlife. So, according to Mr. Google and the Colorado Extension information, my best plan of attack is to make the extended vole family uncomfortable in my garden, make them decide to move elsewhere. Voles don't like open spaces, knowing that Mr. Hawk may be around. So, I have to keep the grass trimmed very short around the gardens. I need to pick up all clippings, so the vole varmints can't hide or tunnel under them.

As I began to clean up the garden I started thinking about where the vole varmints might go once they decide this area is to exposed. Uh oh. Voles LOVE trees. They like eating the roots. They like eating through the bark and killing the cambium layer underneath. They kill trees. Trees fight hard to live in this area of Colorado. They are precious. We coddle them. I changed my focus and began cleaning a wide swath of grass around the trees closest to the garden.

Grass is cut short around the trees, and I have raked up all mulch.
I'll just have to water a bit more often this year.
My next attack plan is to "plant" traps if I find any new tunnels or burrows. My attempts at trapping failed last year, and in the past I have had little luck, but I'll try again.

Black Box trap that I used for Pocket Gophers.
I don't know if they'll work with Voles.
I guess I'll find out!
If I still encounter problems I can also block their access to the garden beds by burying 1/4" hardware cloth 4" in the ground and having it extend 18" in the air. It sounds like work to me! But... the battle lines are drawn. The battle lines are mown. I dare you Voles, to cross that open area to get to my vegetable. This is war!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trapped

Upon returning home in the fall I discovered that we had a cat in the barn. I named the cat, "Stormy" because the first time I put all the pieces together and knew I had a cat in residence was when I could see the kitty prints in the snow after a storm. Stormy is truly feral. He loves hanging around the horses, in fact, he follows Malachi around the yard, and bats at Malachi's muzzle when he eats. But, he runs from me. Mr. Dreamy caught the first picture of Stormy using a long lens. 


I surprised Stormy when I went to get hay one morning. He stared at me, trying to decide if I was a threat. I was able to snap a picture with my phone before he dove behind the hay.


I call Stormy a "he" because the majority of yellow tiger-striped cats are male. The gene for yellow tiger stripes is located on the X chromosome. A female cat would require the gene for yellow tiger stripes on both of her X chromosomes, whereas a male only needs one.

While we were traveling our house sitter sent me information that Stormy had kittens. Oh my! Stormy isn't a he, he's a she! Sadly, all kittens died. But, I realized that my little Stormy needed to be spayed so we didn't end up with unwanted cats. 

There is a wonderful agency in Denver called the Divine Feline (formerly operating as the Feline Fix program). They provide traps for people who are interested in having feral cats in their area spayed or neutered, with the understanding that the cat will be returned to his or her environment and released. 

I used the services for several barn kitties I have had in the past. If the cat is a pet, the agency charges $40-$50, and provides vaccinations for $10. They paint tattoo ink on the incision of female cats, so if anyone else takes the cat into a vet or similar agency for spaying, not knowing she was spayed, the vet will see the mark and know the surgery had already been performed. If the cat is feral, the surgery is performed for $20, which includes vaccinations. The ear of the cat is tipped so even from a distance one can tell that the cat was fixed. My previous cats were treated as pets. Stormy will get her ear tipped, since I don't think she will ever be a pet.

I drove into the city last week to pick up a trap. I took away Stormy's normal dry food and water. I've been putting yummy, smelly food and water in the unset trap for several days, moving it further back each time. Stormy is a sucker for gourmet cat food! She went into the trap each time and cleaned up the food. 

Traps at the Divine Feline
Wednesday evening I set the trap, and within 45 minutes I had a cat! She was not a happy cat. She growled at me when I came in and covered her. Thursday, she had a date with the doctor.

This is one mad cat!


I set out early in the morning to make the 30 mile trip into downtown Denver to drop Stormy off. 
I received a call when Stormy was ready to be picked up later that day. 


The volunteer reported that Stormy was a sweet cat but was very frightened. 
She was spayed, received her vaccinations, and her ear was tipped. 
The vet told me that Stormy was in heat.
It was a good thing we were able to catch her so quickly!

We returned home and after a night shut in the garage to sleep it off, I opened her kitty door and had a brief kitty "sighting" later in the day. 

Mission Accomplished!





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shed

I saw this on FaceBook. It cracked me up!


Sadly, it's true. 
I guess that's why I found it funny.

Tucker leaves hair around the house all of the time, regardless of the season. Of course, it's worse in the spring and fall when he "blows" his coat. I can brush, and brush, and brush. Tucker can birth several puppies worth of hair every night, and it still comes out. 

Every morning I pick up tufts he left behind in the bedroom. 
Every day I sweep up dog hair tumbleweeds in the hall.
There are patches of hair in the grass outside.

Our solution is to take him for a "de-thatching" (that's what you do to your lawn when you rake out the old, dead grass) twice a year. It doesn't stop the shedding, but it gets rid of the worst of it in spring and fall. 

Today was the day for Tucker's semi-annual doggie spa treatment. Tucker gets "furminated" and then gets a shampoo and conditioner treatment, a brush out and time in the drying kennel.

BEFORE

I think we got our money's worth this year. Not only was Tucker full of dead hair, he had romped in the wet grass and mud in the morning after our hail storm!

AFTER

Funny, he looks furrier now than he did before!!!


Scene Along the Side of the Road: Farms

Our drive through central California seemed long and frankly, boring. However, the monotony was broken by observing the produce along the s...