Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Week with Aunt Bonnie...

The planets aligned last weekend and I was able to attend a wedding between two of my past students and watch my nieces rodeo.  The wedding was wonderful.  Several students  I had taught also attended the celebration and my heart was filled with joy to see them successful and with families.  One of the students I had taught 18 years ago.   She was adamant that our program changed her life.   I am forever thankful to be a part of so many amazing people's lives.   The girls did great at the rodeo and both qualified for the state high school rodeo.  I am very proud of them both.  I had not been to a 4-H rodeo for a long time.  It brought back many memories. 

On the long 5 hour drive home, Aunt Bonnie is notorious for stopping to take photos with the beautiful South Dakota landscape in the background.  It was the golden hour for photo taking and there is a reason they call it that.  

The next morning started with lots of coffee, as we got back pretty late.  We were in no hurry.  The day was spent hiking in Spearfish Canyon, a picnic in Spearfish Park, feeding the fish and ducks.  Then a fun afternoon playing in the creek.  Next year, when the littlest is a bit older, we will get tubes and float the creek.
The next day we did our annual hike.  This year I was anxious to try the new hiking trail between Lead and Deadwood.  It proved difficult to find the trailhead in Lead, but then the trail was very well marked.  We had a picnic at the Powerhouse Park in Deadwood and then went up and down Deadwood Main Street.  There are several nice shops and of course ice cream.  We waived to everyone on the KELOland Sky Camera.  I guess we had quite an audience.  After a little relaxing back at the cabin, we went to the neighbors to pick raspberries.  The girls were lucky enough to pet a baby bird that was flying around the berry patch.  
We always spend one day making projects.  Uncle Kelly made frames for the older girls and they glued corks on one side and the other was sprayed with chalkboard paint.  the littlest ones painted their names and added some bling to their little chalkboards.  They all painted rocks.  Rock painting is a tradition and then they leave rocks in my flower beds for me to find.  It always brings a smile to my face.  
The girls went to my school with me on Thursday, so they could meet my students and see where I worked.  (The last time the two oldest went to my job, they met the young lady that was married in Huron.  When the young lady found out my nieces were in Huron we were all invited to her house before we left for home.  They were happy to see each other again.   She showed them a video of the elephant she used to ride in Thailand.) When we returned home it was kitchen time.  The oldest made chocolate raspberry jam. The middle one made grandma's banana cream pie.  The third child made a strawberry pie with a chocolate crust.  The littlest made a blueberry pie.  We all reminisced about reading Blueberries for Sal at Grandma's.  

The last day was spent fishing.  We haven't had much luck at the fishing hole this year, so I anticipated some bored kids in about 1/2 hour.  That did not happen.  I put the littlest's line in the water and before I could take 3 steps she caught a catfish.  It was non-stop excitement.  We caught 11 fish.  They were pulling them out left and right.  Time flew.  Before we knew it we were late to meet their Mom and Dad at the Day's of 76 Parade.  Luckily we made it in time and they watched the parade with their little brother.  

That was this year's adventures.  I count my blessings.  It was a fabulous week.   Not only did I get to spend some quality time with the nieces, but I realized what an impact my job has on the lives of so many young people.  It made me understand how important the time spent with family and friends really is.  Laughing with the girls and reminiscing on our adventures, while making new ones is very fulfilling.   I am a lucky woman and thankful for everything.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018


I'm enjoying this July.  Time on the porch is well spent observing what is happening in the world around us.   I noticed this moth the other day.  It sat under this leaf for about an hour before it got sick of my attention and flew off.  

 This is my favorite book.  I have had to replace it twice.  I loan it out and it never comes back.  If you ever get a chance to read it, I highly recommend it.  Daniel Blajan does an excellent job of capturing how I feel about gardening.   The peas are going crazy.   My husband and I shuck them and Ella begs for the pods.  She thinks they are delicious.

My flowers are doing pretty good, all things considered.  The bees and butterflies are plentiful.  We are slowly recovering from hailstorm.  We have had 2 and a half inches of rain this July.  That is unheard of.  Usually we don't get any rain in July.  Everything is very green.  

I found a great deal on some metal chairs.  They are the perfect addition to the rose garden.  My greenhouse is flourishing.  The pumpkins are climbing out the top.   My sweet corn is much taller than knee high. The deer ate my lettuce and the leaves of my beans.  The beans seem to be recovering.  My peppers are doing wonderful.  I am very happy with the strawberry spinach.  It hasn't bolted and tastes delicious.  

 My hummingbird is back.  I am not certain if it is the same one from last fall.  It could be, as it is roosting in the same same tree as the one that stayed until late October.  I wish there was some way to know for sure.  

Today was foggy and cool.  While sitting on the porch a doe wandered by.  Can you see her in back?  July is moving along.  I wish it would slow down.  Next weekend I have the nieces.  I am excited about our upcoming adventures.   What are you looking forward to in July?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Savoring the summer...

I finally have some flower photos.  Between the deer and the hail things were looking grim.  I didn't even have crop insurance.  Luckily, I have a few surviving blooms.  These planters along the sidewalk have managed to bloom despite deer decimation and direct hail hits.
Above is my husband's favorite peony and below is the ever fickle Topaz Rose.  The evening sun plays across the petals beautifully.

The William Bafflin rose is always a stellar performer.

My vegetable garden is holding tough.  I'm even getting a few strawberries.
We have had numerous butterflies this year.  Many different species, but all are hard to sneak up on.

Really all I have blooming are peonies and roses.  Not that I am complaining, just explaining why that is all the photos are of those two flowers.

Ella and I have made it a point to slow down and savor the summer.   Life is short and summers are even shorter.  We spend as much time on the porch as possible and putter around the garden in between sips of lemonade.  When it gets dark enough I sit in back and watch the fireflies float in and out of the Aspen trees.
How have you been savoring the summer?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Well that wasn't much fun...

Mother Nature can sure be cantankerous.  Friday wasn't a good day for her and in turn it wasn't any better for us...
 That, my friends is some extremely large hail.  Not just a few here and there, but as you can see below we received a plethora of extremely large hail.

 We received quite a bit of damage.  There are holes in our garage roof and huge dents in the cabin and barn roofs.  The garage also sustained broken windows and shutters. My garden art did not fare well.  All of my bird feeders took a direct hit.  Anything that was wire and was hit by the hailstones, folded like a cheap suit.  The bird house I made lost it's roof.  Thankfully, nobody nested in it. If you look below, you can see it completely broke out 1/2 inch wood slats from my swing.  Just imagine if it had hit someone in the head.

 I am also thankful that my husband was home and Ella was in the cabin with him.  The photo above is the tarp that covers her kennel and it provided no protection.  My husband said it was terrifying.  He kept waiting for the stones to go through our cabin windows, there were tornado alarms going off on the cell phone, and he wasn't certain if a stone wouldn't actually go through the roof.

 Every plow truck in our little community looks like this.  Yesterday, when we drove to the store to get a new mailbox (ours took a direct hit and there isn't much left) we saw many vehicles that looked as bad or worse than this.  I couldn't imagine being caught in your vehicle during the this storm.  I should have been coming home about the time it hit.  Instead I was at work planting some cherry trees with the students, again I am thankful.  In many places there are two to three inch divots where the hail hit.
It doesn't matter where you live, Mother Nature has something to remind you she is in charge: Hail, tornadoes, volcanoes, blizzards, hurricanes, fire, or flood.  With her there is always a reminder that with the good there is also some bad.  I am just thankful nobody was badly hurt.  Things are replaceable, even my favorite bird bath.  To leave on a positive note, these little buggers are baby flycatchers.  Every year she nests in our paperbox.  Lucky for her, we don't get the paper anymore.  Flycatchers are notorious for nesting in bad spots, but these little fellas are safe and sound.   Hope the weather is a little nicer in your neck of the woods.  Let me know if you have ever been through a hail storm with hailstones that big or bigger.