Sunday, July 31, 2016

That's the Way Summer Is

The week was a busy one; thus I totally missed posting last week.

That's the way summer is.

I took a couple of days to go visit my dear friend in  northeastern Colorado, a two hour drive away. She is still recovering from her shoulder surgery, so we didn't do much other than having lunch in Sterling, visiting my favorite junk store and a trip to Walmart, but that was plenty. Since I have an account with Ancestry.com, we looked up her long lost relatives one evening.

Back home there were weeds to pull, laundry to do, and a dollhouse to finish. All week I had planned on going out to the garden to take photographs. The gladiolas were blooming. The zinnias were opening up. I needed to pull the second crop of rhubarb, planning on making rhubarb jelly. The tomatoes were coming on strong, despite a seemingly rough start. I had picked the first of the zucchini before they became foot-longs.

I kept putting off the photo session. There would be tomorrow.

That's the way summer is.

We did pick the first of the tomatoes, surprised at the little orange ones. Did we buy them instead of the Sweet One Hundreds that we usually buy, we asked each other? Too late to worry about that.  I finally tried out a Christmas gift, a peeler/slicer that attaches to my Kitchen Aid mixer. Handy gadget. I made spaghetti zucchini and onions for a stir fry. Next time I use the gadget, I'll take photos to show you.

                                          

We had a lovely meal. I actually cooked. Lasagna with sauteed vegetables. And garden fresh tomatoes.

With dinner over, we settled in to relax for the evening, despite the dark clouds gathering in the northern sky. The weather ladies had warning of severe storms. At 4:00 Cheyenne, Wyoming (30+ miles north) had golf ball sized hail. The Head Gardener began watching the clouds. So often those storms miss us. I was visiting with my friend on the phone when I heard a loud bang. I called out to the HG asking him what the noise was. Before he could answer there was another loud bang, and another, and more. By then I was off the phone, looking out across the lawn watching the golf ball sized hail stones bounce on the lawn, crash into the side the side of house, pound the trees, slam into the barn roof. The sound as they hit the roof of the house was deafening. They came down with such force that I had never seen before, nor had I ever seen hail so big.




                   The Hockey Puck                                                                  The Gum Ball





The Egg



The garden wasn't totally destroyed, but looked pretty ratty. We were surprised that there wasn't more damage.  The big stones don't do so much damage to vegetation because there weren't so many of them.


     






The boys rode out the storm. When it was over, they wandered back out to pasture, backs wet from standing in the rain, making me think that they may have stood out in storm because of the racket that the hail made as it hit the barn. Sundance doesn't like loud noises. The old Ford didn't fair so well. While we don't drive it much, it still has full insurance coverage, so we hope the insurance company feels that it is worth it to fix it. It still have has plenty of miles left.

    

. . . But that wasn't the end. A second storm hit after 10:00 P.M., causing worse damage and destruction. This one brought the pea sized hail combined with hard rain and wind that shreds everything.

 
    

 I've waited all summer for the Glads to bloom and waited patiently for the Heritage raspberries to ripen. The peaches and the apricots are turning color. I was so hopeful that I would harvest my first fruits. They are so close to ripening. The peaches are very small, but there were a lot of them. The apricots looked like they were doing so well, and then the storm.


The water lilies bloom so vigorously. The gold fish have finally come out of hiding after being terrorized by the green heron that visited early in the summer. The hail reduced the lilies to shreds. Perhaps they will recover before summer's end. After all there is always next summer.

While the center circle doesn't show much damage, certain plants didn't fare so well, like the corcosmia.


We wait all year long for our very favorites to bloom for only a few short weeks. Such is the way it is for gardeners. The pale pink lilies are rare in the garden with only 3 plants. Look at them now. Gladiolas are always a crowd-pleaser and we tended them so carefully. 


Looking like lumpy snow next to the courtyard water fall, the hail shredded everything there, too.


The zucchini that was so delicious for supper that night will have some healing to do, but it will recover.


The rhubarb looks so sad, but I'll pull it, cook it, and eat it.  It will recover.

That's the way summer is.

  

The peach tree and the apricot tree survived the first round of hail. Those giant hail stones don't do so much damage unless they hit you on the head. A few fruits were knocked to the ground.

As back yard gardeners, we tend to take these weather conditions for granted. Weather happens. Can't stop it; can't change it. We do have to put it all in perspective for there are far worse things that can happen. We don't make a living farming, so we just have to get it over it, giving thanks for our many blessings and remembering those who suffer real loss, weather related or not.

That's the way summer is.

On a happier note, we gained a new family member. Meet Hazel.

Oldest grand daughter Ellie decided that she needed a dog, despite the fact that the family has two dogs, a doberman and miniature Schnauzer. The Head Gardener suggested that she look online at Pet Finder where he found Boone. She found a cute little dog and wanted to go see him at the pound despite the fact that her parents had already told her no dog. I was once again A-Foot while the SUV was getting its computer fixed, so I spent the morning with the girls which included a stop at the Humane Society to see the little dog.  The girls had already told me that there also a parakeet there, so I prepared. How could I resist? I couldn't. She is a young bird probably less than 8 months. She doesn't have tail feathers, so I think she has had her first molt. Parakeets older than about 8 months have a white ring around the iris of their eyes; Hazel's eyes are still all black, so I assume that she is very young.

I asked why she was surrendered, but there was little known except that someone found her, which means she must has been caught in the wild, probably escaping her home. She has her forever home now.

As for the little dog. His record recommend that he not be placed in a home with children under 12. Mom lucked out this time, for she has 3 girls under 12. Ellie took the rejection well, but I know she was disappointed. Cute little dog, just not suitable for children.

That's the way summer is.



Already the kids are getting reading to head back to school. They have a few weeks of freedom left, but it seems like the summer has just scooted away. For me now that I am retired, the days just come and go. The end of summer signifies not much more than cooler weather and fewer weeds.

That's the way summer is.

We have another full weekend ahead. The HG has a 10 year class reunion on Friday, 1964-1974. I may go for I began my teaching career in 1970 here and the school is just down the the street. Saturday is the Ault Fall Festival Parade. I'll take lots of photos of the HG pulling the museum committee's float with his tractor. Then we will celebrate Lucy's 8th birthday. So lots to do this week. 

I am excited to be linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for her first Mosaic Monday on August 1st. I've even added her badge to side bar. Join us, won't you?

Thanks so much for visiting. I've been trying to spend time reading and commenting, but I get busy.

That's the way summer is.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Busy Life



Welcome Friends. It is hard to believe that half of July is spent. We have had a busy week, spending way too much time at the car dealership trying to figure out what's wrong with the computer system in the SUV that provides some of the necessary functions. It's Ford's Sync My Ride that has the GPS, map, radio,  iPhone hook-up, and back-up camera, accessories that I have become dependent  upon. The car still isn't fixed and I will have to make another trip this week to get the part installed.

Anyway.

We harvested the cherries from the North Star Dwarf Cherry tree. It was loaded this year. Who does not love fresh, hot cherry pie? 




From  tree to pie takes quite a bit of work.  For the pie, I hand pitted only enough cherries to make the pie. Our sweet college student who lived us was coming for lunch, so I wanted to bake a pie.


The rest of the cherries had to be pitted so the I could freeze them. I searched the Internet for a cherry pitter and finally came up with one at the local Ace Hardware store. I give it a B-/C+. Still better than my thumb. And messy. 


We also harvested the garlic. I pulled a few onions, too, so see how big they were and pulled up the radishes, too. I was so surprised and impressed with our garlic harvest.


While not all the cloves are this big, the garlic did quite well. We The Head Gardener planted three varieties last fall, not labeling them, so I don't know which variety this one is. I have started using the garlic and it is very stout. Just the way we like it. Hopefully I have enough to last the year.


My last post generated a lot of discussion on holly hocks, for they are a garden favorite. I had this one in the center circle that took up too much room, blocked the sprinkler head, and chocked out the mallow legitimately planted. The holly hock found its own way to the spot, so I had the HG dig it out. As the photo on the right shows, it's sibling remains. It is next to go.

We did take a weekend off for a short camping trip with the granddaughters and their parents. There is nothing like parking lake-side at 8500 feet. Not used to the altitude, I had to take it easy at first so that my body could adjust to the thinner air. If you vacation in the Colorado Rockies, do remember to give yourself time to adjust to the high altitude.





A wonderful view from the dinning table. Now this is living.





Our home away from home: gas stove with two essentials, a cast iron skillet and a coffee pot.
A queen size bed for to a good night rest with crisp, white sheets.
 

A cozy sofa





This was Boone's first camping trip. He is such a rowdy boy that instead of camping with us, he has been sent to doggie day care. Now two and half years old, he is better behaved, so he got go along. He was a very good boy.




He even learned that water can be fun. The little girls taught him how to fetch a stick from the shallow shore. At first he wasn't too sure of the water, but it didn't take too long for him to realize just how much fun water could be.




I took my current book, Philipa Gregory's fictional history about Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Anne Boleyn gets all of the attention, but Catherine was an amazing queen. Of course, I took my gardening magazine along, too.




On Saturday we went for a short drive. Colorado mountain scenery just begs to be photographed and this scene was meant to be shot in black and white. Can you believe that this is an iPhone photo?



While this may look like a sunrise reflecting on the lake or maybe even a sunset, I am actually facing east and the sun is setting behind me, reflecting off the the clouds onto the water.

We took a hike a long one shore of the lake. The caretaker of the property has placed birdhouses all over the woods. This birdhouse was hollowed out of an old tree branch and wired to a fence post. The Tree Swallow will fly right in the small round opening to feed her babies.



All morning we have been watching this young bald eagle as we walk along the lake shore. The kids first saw it scoop up a fish from the lake for breakfast. Now hours later, it is perched atop this dead tree. As we have been watching it, I am sure it has been watching us as we made our way around the lake--giving us the eagle eye.


Using my 300 mm lens, I was able to get a reasonably good photo of the cormorants lifting of the water far across the lake.


What a privellage to get to spend time at the lake, even for such a short time. Nature's beauty always refreshes the sprit. The weekend went by quickly and once we got home the sprinkler system was started to water the thirsty lawn and the newly planted sod. +90s F. Hot. July is always hot.




With Shey and her friend coming for lunch, I had fun setting a pretty table for our guests on the patio.

In the garden, things are happening.




The giant alums done blooming look really cool with irrigation water dripping off of them.


So does this baby's breath. Can't wait for it to blooms. There will be tiny purple flowers on these delicate thread-like stems.


My favorite time photograph the garden is at the end of the day when the sun is nearly set, giving a soft, warm tone to the plants and photos. The point on the center circle is in full bloom. July blooms include these wonderful Prairie Rudbeka and blanket flowers.


I have worked hard to get this part of the center garden to fill in. I began with a nice selection of the Black Eyed Susans and blanket flowers, adding this yellow daisy two years ago. At a distance it is a lovely garden, but close up the plants are smooched in together and plagued with bind weed that winds itself around nearly every stem. We worked on cleaning it up and it looks better. 





These rudbeckias were at one time the size of a tea cup saucer, but as they have seeded and reseeded, they get smaller each year. I also had some really deep brown ones. I miss them.



The birdhouse in the center circle is in need of repair. The front if fell off, revealing the nest upon nest that the English sparrows built.


Lucifer haunts the garden too. This corcosima is one my favorites simply because of the splash of brilliant red that has. Butterflies and hummingbirds also like it.



July is day lily month. I like this dark one just at  the edge of the patio.


I leave you with the gorgeous echanisia with the swallowtail that has been dancing through the yard the last few days.



These are the days that I live for. Sunshine. Lovely flowers and butterflies. 

But I must add how saddened I am at the terrible event in Dallas, Nice, France, and today Baton Rouge. I cannot image. I don't want to imagine. Unfortunately, I must think about the suffering and pray for those who suffer in the worst ways. 

Have you heard? I promised Maggie at Normandy Life that I would help spread the news: She will be hosting Mosaic Monday. I am so glad. Judith was so wonderful as the MM host, especially in the very early days when I decided to venture out of my little blog coccoon and join in on the fun; when I needed some help to navigate the technology, she so kindly guided me through my first post. And I made new friends. Some of you I met there. So I'll be with Maggie. I hope you join us. 

 Elinore competed in her first swim meet. She has been working for the last five weeks with the swim team. This is her first year. I am so proud of her for she really is out of her comfort zone. While not the fastest swimmer, she certainly gave all of her effort and swam very well. 


Thanks so much stopping by and leaving such sweet and generous comments. I've not kept up with the blog so much, but I know that you all understand. I've started walking early in the morning instead of getting on the computer to start my day. Funny how I seem to have more energy now, nor have I forgotten you. So thank you for staying with me. I appreciate that very much. Have a fabulous week.