Monday, August 15, 2022

The Tree Limb is Finally Gone - Cleanup Has Been Completed

You might remember the big storm we had a few weeks ago that deposited a branch of my neighbor's Silver Maple onto and into my upper back yard, damaging two trees of mine and making a huge mess. That happened on the 19th of July. Our neighbor was really decent about the whole thing - paid for it to be removed professionally so that the fencing was left undamaged and our trees got minimal damage as well. That removal finally happened last week, and DH was on a ladder with his chain saw Sunday morning trimming off damaged limbs. It was really now or never - Renaissance Festival starts this coming weekend and our Sundays are spent there until the Fest ends on October 2nd. 

Here's the Mulberry tree now that it's been trimmed. It 
has room to breathe again, and even though it lost a lot 
of branches, I think it will pull through just fine. 

The fallen limb had been braced up with lumber and lots of nails by Chris (our next door neighbor) and DH. Almost all of the wood was from Chris, so I need to get that returned to him. We had a single piece of our pressure-treated lumber that DH used, which is now back in the garage. So ... DH was up on a ladder with the chain saw, then he cut up the branches he trimmed off, and we cleaned up. 

The Crab Apple tree also got a trim, some 
of the branches on the far side had some damage. 
It just missed getting slammed by the large 
branch that fell from Chris' tree, so it was quite 
lucky. The lumber in the background is the single 
piece that we had provided. It's now back in the 

We loaded up the pickup with all of the cut branches and limbs and drove everything over to the local compost. It turned into a 2-3 hour job, but it looks 1000% better now. The upper back yard is once again our own. Our Mulberry tree took a beating, but I like how it looks now that it's been trimmed. The Crab Apple tree escaped most damage by about a foot or two - rather amazing - but the baby Crab Apple had a shock, and we're not sure if it will make it through the winter. 

We had a huge pile of brush and branches to take 
to the compost center. Fortunately we have the 
pickup truck, and the compost is actually quite 
close to us, so we just piled everything into the back 
of the truck, used some bungee cords to keep things 
under control for the drive, and off we went. 

Nonetheless, we have reclaimed our yard once again. After we had returned, we settled onto the patio for a relaxing couple of hours with drinks and hummingbirds. Despite the fact that the garden has been a disappointment this year (insects and moles - it's NOT been a good year for our flowers), it's still a welcome haven from the rat race of our daily lives. So, all things considered, we had an excellent Sunday and are ready to jump back into the work week. Only a bit over two weeks until Sharon arrives, and I have LOTS still to do inside, although the house is starting to look pretty good. 

Just a reminder of what came down into the yard on the 
night of the 18th of July. This single huge branch broke off 
Chris's huge Silver Maple and crashed directly into our 
yard. You can see a bit of the bracing the guys did to keep 
it steady and immobile on the far right side. 

Have an excellent Monday and I'll be back tomorrow. Slava Ukraini. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Dragons - Yesterday's Clean Was My Dragons, So I Photographed Them

I dearly wanted to share a video with all of you, one that I took yesterday afternoon while decompressing in my garden. This crazy hummingbird came to my feeder and flitting about and drinking, but then it actually settled down on the feeder and it stayed ... for 2-1/2 minutes! At least 30 seconds of which it was perched, like a sparrow or chickadee, just sitting there looking around at the scenery. Quite bizarre and unlike any hummer behavior I've seen up to this point. I was filming the whole thing on my phone, but because it's such a long clip, it's a huge file and it isn't transferring properly. I'll have to look into how to minimize the size of the file to get it moved over so that I can share it with you. 

Five humans have managed to capture a green dragon by the 
leg and put it in chains. But is it really captured? I have my 
doubts they'll actually be able to hold it for long. 

Yesterday I devoted myself to dragons. I was going to shampoo the carpeting, but I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for that task, so I cleaned, dusted, and photographed my dragons instead, doing a few repairs while I was going through them. I have two that I'm bringing to the shop with me today. Dragons that need my Foredom flex-shaft equipment to get adequately repaired. The UV glue seems to work well, although it took a bit of getting used to - where to put the glue and how it would best be used. Instead of sharing my hummingbird video, I'll share a few dragon photos instead. 

This dragon is an excellent example of a sea dragon. I have 
quite a few sea or water dragons in the collection, but this 
one is quite striking. DH and I used to take a dragon and 
a sketchpad and each draw it for an afternoon's activity. 
I'm pretty sure this is one that I've drawn in the past. 

I didn't have the energy to set up the larger white-box, so I used my travel box instead. It's not the best background, but at some point I'll set up the full array and take photos of all of these again. Counting them up, I have 46 McFarlane dragons, and two that need repair before they can be photographed. That makes 48 total in that series, and there are other dragons on my shelving as well. I guess I'm rather enamored of dragons. Anyone have one who is eating them out of house and home? Apparently I've got a colony - LOL. 

This frost dragon looks cold and icy. I think 
I have at least one more dragon from the 
cold reaches, but since dragons are cold-
blooded, they tend towards warmer climates. 

I'm still heartsick. I'll share some dragons with you and call this done for the day. I hope you have a good Saturday and good weekend. It's hard to believe that Renaissance Festival starts next weekend! The summer is drawing to a close. Slava Ukraini. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Devastating News - Kei Died Last Night

I just read Red's post, and I'm devastated. Keiless, my friend from Cape Town, South Africa, died last night from advanced lung cancer. We'd been on-line friends for years, more than a decade I'm pretty sure, and chatted on and off in private exchanges every now and again. I actually had a card on my desktop with her address paperclipped to it, just waiting for me to fill it out and mail it to her. I'm going to miss her - a lot. 

It's odd how friendships can be made and grow into rich, fulfilling exchanges, with people we've never met in person. How these days we can glibly say "I have a friend in South Attica, or Croatia, or any number of other places," and it's true; although we've never traveled there nor exchanged a hug. But we've exchanged our experiences, our highs and lows, and our achievements with these people whom we call our friends, and they, in turn, have enriched our lives. 

It's really hard to see through my tears right now, and I know I'll be thinking of her throughout the day, and for many days to come. I'm sorry to have a sad post today, but not every day will be filled with joy and optimism. Sometimes life gets in the way, and sometimes death closes the door. Mitakuye Oyasin. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Hawk, Lillies and Prayers for Kei Again

I'm going to have to make a bit of time to write today because the latest prompt for LJ Idol is due tomorrow and I don't want to be eliminated for not having put out a tale. I know the direction I want to go with this prompt, it came clear to me yesterday but I didn't have any time to devote to it. Yesterday was a VERY busy day, and I didn't get half as much done as I wanted to do. Still, I got the majority of things I needed to complete done, so all things, it was a good day. 

Can you see my hawk? It was letting me get quite 
close to it, while it carefully watched all around it. 
It was very aware I was there, but didn't seem 
bothered by me. 

Most important to me was getting my hummingbirds restocked on nectar. I should have done this late Tuesday, I knew it was low, but I did it on Wednesday afternoon and the greedy little things had just about eaten it down. I got that restocked, however, and settled down in my chair on the patio to watch the feeder for a bit when I saw it - one of my two hawks, perched on a branch in my upper back yard, cool and comfortable. 

After a little while, it shifted a bit. Now you can 
see the white speckled breast of the hawk as it 
looks over towards the neighbor's yard. It left to join 
it's companion shortly after this photo. 

I actually was able to get fairly close to it before it switched to a different branch and I returned to my chair. So I'm sharing a couple of hawk photos with you today, as well as a photo from the garden. We don't have much in bloom right now, but the lillies are quite lovely, so I thought I'd share those. 

We don't have a lot blooming right now, 
in fact, this year has been extremely 
disappointing because the ground 
squirrels and moles have really done a 
number on the yard. But the white 
lillies are blooming right now, and 
they're quite lovely. 

Shortly after I resettled on the patio, I heard the second hawk call to the first one, and saw them fly off south after prey they had spotted. It's too bad they're not into mole diving. I sure could use something to go after the moles that are eating up my yard this year. I've never had such a bad year for moles and they're digging everywhere. It's more than likely the main reason our plants have had problems this year. 

Please continue to send positive thoughts and 
prayers to my friend Keiless who is still 
in hospital after more than two weeks, and 
still doing poorly. We need lots of positive 
prayers. I'll know more at the end of 
next week when a mutual friend flies over 
to be with her family in this difficult time. 

Have an excellent Thursday. I'm off to the pool for my final swim of the week. I'll be back tomorrow and as always these days, Slava Ukraini. OH ... and please continue your prayers for my friend Keiless who is still in hospital and still NOT doing well. Another mutual friend will be flying out the end of next week to see her and help her family during this difficult time. I'm holding them in my thoughts and prayers and ask for you to also spare a kind thought for Kei's recovery and return to her home and loved ones. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Pushing Boundaries - Welcome to Life

It's Wednesday, laundry day, my "day off" and my next day of getting some cleaning done before Sharon arrives. I know that my major cleaning days are my Fridays because I have less scheduled items to do on that day, but I'm still going to spend some time in an attempt to get the house looking good before my Bestie arrives in three weeks. THREE WEEKS -- OMG! I find it hard to believe that the State Fair opens in two weeks, and that my summer is coming to an end so quickly. 

Which of the four seasons is your favorite and why? For 
me, although the heat can be oppressive, it's Summer, 
followed closely neck-in-neck by Spring and Fall. Winter 
falls far behind for me - I'm not fond of shoveling and 
the cold temperatures. 

It's odd, but I suspect it's true for all of us. When we look back on our personal history, we couch it into terms of the season(s) we love the best. For me it's always been the summer. Even though I was an ice skater (never that good, but quite enthusiastic), my skating was primarily done in the summers, while I was in Aspen. The rest of the year I was occupied with school and even though I had a membership (for a short time) at my local ice rink in Denver, it never felt comfortable to me the way my rink in Aspen did. 

Looking at a map, it doesn't look as if the skating rink I 
used in Denver is still open, but that's not surprising. It 
wasn't well managed, and we are talking 50 years 
ago. I just remember it as an unwelcoming place, quite the 
opposite from my ice skating rink in Aspen. 

When I think back on things, it's quite obvious that my parents made every attempt to give me access to the things I truly enjoyed. I got a variety of memberships to swimming pools in the summer months and to places such as the ice skating rink in the winters. I even had a few trips out to Aspen in our "off seasons" or after we had sold one or both of our houses up there. On those occasions I was living with my Aunt who moved up to Aspen permanently in the late 1960's. 

I learned to ski on Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, 
Colorado. It's a great mountain for that - some 
really nice beginner slopes. My Aunt gave me an 
old set of her skiis and boots. They were REALLY 
old and I probably would have enjoyed skiing a 
lot more with a better set of skiis. But, these were 
what I had, and we didn't have money for rentals. 

The visits, of course, were wonderful and I loved spending time with my Aunt and cousin. I was only up there in the winter once and had the opportunity to learn how to ski (I skied VERY poorly), but it was my summer visits that I still remember best, especially one where my boyfriend/fiance Seth came up and joined us for a few days, then we hitchhiked back to Denver together and I caught a bus home from the bus station so that I was telling the truth and right on the schedule for when I was due back home. I was naughty that way - always pushing the boundaries. 

I don't think I was much different from any other 
teenager trying to push their boundaries, but having 
Seth meet me in Aspen for a few days while my 
Aunt was out of town and I was visiting my 
cousin was VERY naughty of me. Still I planned 
it out perfectly and my folks never suspected at all. 

So today, ask yourself. Have you ever pushed your boundaries? What was the result of that push - did you learn something about yourself? Was it a positive outcome? If not, did you learn something from the experience that turned it positive despite the negatives? That, my friends, is life. Welcome to the show. I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with a slightly cleaner house, as I progress towards Sharon's arrival on September 1st. Slava Ukraini. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Busy, Busy, Busy - How Can I Be Two Places at Once?

Busy day today, and apparently DH thinks I can be in two places at one time *sigh*. If he'd use his brain, he'd know better. 

I can't exactly wake him up when I'm still in the water. 
Damn, I really wish he'd use his brain sometimes! 

I awakened and when I was heading downstairs, noticed a note on the stovetop asking me to wake him one hour before we have to leave to drop his truck off for servicing. That would be 6:00 am. But I'm still in the pool or the shower at 6:00 pm. So no ... that's not going to be possible because I'm not home to wake him. 

I can't shift through time, nor would 
I particularly want to. I would just 
like for him to actually USE his damned 
brain. Now it's looking like he'll be 
closing the store right when my family 
reunion will be held. I've sent a message 
to the organizer to see if absolute 
dates have been set yet, but I'm NOT 
missing the reunion. Nope - not for 

But of course I can't tell him that, because I'll be at the gym and he didn't think to discuss this with me when we were both awake last night. STUPID ... my life is surrounded by STUPID. Argh! So I have absolutely no idea how I can accomplish this one. All I do know for a fact is it's going to be a VERY busy early morning. 

Today is going to be busy enough, without having 
to play Mom to DH and wake him at the appropriate 
time (which would be about 6:00 am). 

It'll also be a rather cold early morning for the next few days - so I'll be running out to the pool fairly quickly. The water will be wonderful, but the run back inside will also be rather fast. Temp for today's swim should be hanging around 60F (15.5C) and that's chilly with a swim suit on, even if it is a full coverage skin suit. 

But, it's a swimming day, and that's a busy day, so I'm signing off here and moving along. Have an excellent Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow. Slava Ukraini. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

I Need to Vent - Checking My Calendar, I'm Going to be VERY Busy

Here it is, another Monday, the beginning of another week, and another new prompt for LJ Idol. I'm a bit disgusted with LJ Idol right now. It's quite obvious that stories are not voted on because of their merit, and that some people have a cadre of outside friends who will vote for them, no matter what. I fully admit that I have three outside friends who are kind enough to read my works and vote for them, and I appreciate each one of them. But my friends also are voting because they feel what I put out there is tight, cohesive, fits the challenge, and is good writing. If not, they would let me know because that's the kind of good friends they are. 

It's not SUPPOSED to be a personality contest, 
but it certainly seems to be one. That's very 
disturbing to me - I think the writing should be 
voted on by merit - how cohesive is the story, how 
much fluff could and should be edited out of it, 
and how well was it told. I've been up against 
some powerhouse writers over the years, and 
there are some excellent ones in this group, which 
is the only thing keeping me in it. 

It seems, however, that this group, a group I really wanted to believe was above that, is actually more of a personality contest, not a writing contest. That's a great disappointment to me, although not entirely unexpected. I am the new kid, and that's only going to carry me so far. I've now got two strikes against me, and that both saddens and angers me because I know what I've written has been strong, cohesive, and (usually) well edited. I'm certainly not expecting to hit everyone's buttons every week, but I'm also not going to push on friends and family to vote for me either. If I did that, I would make it nothing more than a beauty contest - a Miss America in words. I've done that, and it's not as much fun as many people think it might be. 

In 2007, Miss Teen Colorado won Miss 
Teen USA. That didn't happen when I 
was participating. Of course, I was also 
participating in the days of B/W photography, 
bathing suit competitions (which I was 
glad I didn't have to do), and many ridiculous, 
rather sexist attitudes. 

When I was in High School, I was a finalist for Miss Teenage Colorado, the precursor in many ways to Miss Colorado, which was a stepping stone to Miss America. I didn't come from a pageant background, I only gave it a shot because the first step to getting into the running was passing a day-long standardized test of basic subject matters - history, mathematics, English and other school subjects. It was a pretty rigorous test, and I wanted to see how I matched out against others of my age group - curiosity, mostly. 

Standardized testing really isn't a great indicator of 
subject matter knowledge and/or intelligence. At the 
time I was in school, it was mandatory and used 
often, so I was curious how I would rank compared 
to others of my general age. 

Well, I passed the test. I don't know how high or low I placed, but I was one of the 20-25 who were moved on to the next level which is where we actually had to perform for the talent portion, answer questions, and parade in evening gowns. We were all photographed, interviewed, and televised for the dance portion, and it was fun. It was a good time. I played the cello, of course, and I made it through the semi-finals to the finals. Mom made me a lovely deep blue velvet evening gown and I once again did the required song and dance stuff. The eventual winner wasn't me - LOL. It was a truly lovely girl who read a poem for her "talent". She got to go to the nationals, but I don't think she got any higher. Me, I returned to normal life as a high school student once again. 

I wonder if a system of ranked voting might not 
work better in this instance. Each participant 
being limited to five votes per time, ranking them 
in their votes and submitting them to the moderator 
who would then crunch the numbers to come up 
with a winner for the challenge. 

Why does this come to mind? Because after the initial examination, the judging was subjective and not really based on talent. I didn't really mind, because I wasn't into the whole "pageant" aspect of it, but part of the prize would have been a scholarship for college and my parents could have used that assistance. That's the way I'm feeling about LJ Idol right now. I'm gritting my teeth, thinking about the next prompt, and contemplating pulling out of the competition completely, because the voting seems to be based on number of people each contestant knows who will vote for a contestant's story, not actually reflecting the person's writing skill. 

I just needed to vent because I'm a bit 
upset at the format. Still, I walked in eyes 
wide open, and have no-one but myself 
to blame. So I'll continue until I'm 
either voted off or simply don't have the 
time to participate and pull myself out. 

OK, I've now had the opportunity to vent, and that's what I needed to do. Now I'll do a re-set in my life and look at the current prompt (lalochezia, for those who might be interested), and think about whether I want to continue writing for the group or not. I'm coming to the busiest time of my year now, and my time will be quite limited. Do I have the desire and the ability to put my best out there when I'm crunched for time? I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I love writing, and I love writing to a prompt, so I'll at least do the current challenge, but I have to think seriously about whether I can or even want to continue on with the group right now. On that note, I'm out of here. Have an excellent Monday and I'll be back tomorrow.