Sunday, January 31, 2016

Spring Dreams

The house is very quiet this morning. The HG packed up his ice fishing gear and left me Friday. He will be back sometime today, so I am on chore duty. Boone went to doggy day care because he is still a challenge to look after.

We had  a bit snow last night and this morning it is very cold, 27 degrees F with a chill, brisk breeze. The sun is shining, but the breeze will make it feel colder. I don't mind so much going out to feed the horses and hens, even in the cold. They are always so appreciative. Much of the snow that has been on the ground since Christmas has been melting, so the spots where there isn't any lawn or mulch are very muddy. I am so thankful that the HG got the graveled path between the barn and chicken house finished so that I don't have to slog through the mud.

Pop looks pretty grumpy this morning as he walks away from me with his little ears laid back, translated, "I' not in the mood. Its cold and I'm hungry. I want my breakfast now.'' He'll soon be 27, so I guess he can be grumpy his wants.

Even muddy and shaggy the prince is always handsome.  He'll turn 21 this spring. 

The water leak was found and repaired. Monday's Mosaic, neither pretty nor romantic, tells the story.

 The HG hired a leak finder fellow to come find the leak. After listening to the pipes in the basement, he was fairly certain where the leak probably was. He had an odd instrument that he carried in his hands along with headphones. Some place out by the barn, he added a gas of some sort to the water line then listened to the line just beyond the garden wall at the back of the house where he suspected the leak was. As he told us, water travels down; gas travels up, explaining why we had to hire hime because the HG could never find any wet spots in the snow covered ground. Once he had the leak isolated, he had the HG put his ear close to the ground where he cold hear the gas hissing out of the ground. That will be $350., please.

Next, the HG had to find a plumber with a really big digger. He called a few locals with not the best results: none answered their phones. Finally a plumber called back with the name of a company who could help. A father-son team showed in the afternoon with their Big Digger and we had water by the end of the day, well worth the $600+.  

We will have a ness to clean up this spring. They did an excellent job of removing the pavers that shape the wall for the garden and took great effort not to destroy any plant material. While we could have saved the sod, we decided not to take the time to cut it out since the ground was frozen. We will replace the sod next spring. On a more cheerful not, there were pesky perennial weeds that I couldn't seem to get rid of in between those pavers. I don't think they will be much of a problem this spring.

The leak, by the way, was caused by faulty workmanship when the line was installed in 1996 with a wrong sized PVC elbow which had not been primed properly before gluing. We are left wondering what else may go wrong underground.

Even though Spring won't arrive for a while, Spring Dreaming has begun. I hope the catalog companies, Dutch Gardens and White Flower Farms, along with Better Home and Gardens' Country Gardens newest issue don't mind me featuring them in my post.

I have always been successful with the dinner plate dahlias, so I will add them this year. In theory and good garden practice each tuber should only grow one dahlia to get the largest size, but I never prune off the other buds, opting for more but small blooms. Do you prune to get the dinner plate sized bloom?

Which is your favorite color? Always shades of pink for me and maybe a yellow one, and white.

Gladiolias are another favorite and do very well in the vegetable garden. I have to remember to plant them in stages so that they don't all bloom the same week to prolong the color. I love to cut them and bring them in. I'll chose a rainbow of color and hope to plant about 50.

I am wanting to expand my collection of lilies. I am looking at the pink L. Specious Rubrum. And more Asiatic lilies, too, especially the star gazers. 

Will I order from the catalogs? I don't know. Lillie perhaps because the varieties are hard to find in the garden centers and they will be shipped at the appropriate time for planting. 

I am getting excited to plant. Are you?

More snow for tomorrow. This time the weather people predict (and that 's all they can do) a Massive Storm. 12-18 inches for Denver. Maybe we will get some, probably a skiff. We get all worked up over nothing.

Now that holidays are over, I have started work on the Blue Farm House again. The third level will have the nursery with some naked babies, twin a boy and a girl, with an older sibling in the crib and a music room. I have updated Ann's Dollhouse Daydreams blog, featuring the American Girl type dresses I made for Christmas gifts. You can keep up with dollhouse progress by email if you sign on. I don't tend that blog much, but visitors are always welcome.

I am intrigued with idea of creating a music room. My grandmother had a baby grand piano, so this will be a tribute to her. Right now I am just playing with how to design and decorate. 

This week includes a  routine major medical screening procedure for the HG, one we all endure every so often, a trip to Denver next weekend; while he attends a meeting, Heather and I will visit Norm's Dollhouse store. I'll clean another hidden spot in the house, the hall closet perhaps, and do more Spring Dreaming. 

Have wonderful week and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


My daughter, Tree Hugger Heather (her self described job description), shared with me that she gave her friend an adult coloring book. Silent for a moment before I ventured a comment, I finally asked if she didn't mean a coloring book for grownups? We began laughing, unable to resist wondering what an adult coloring book might contain and then quickly changing the subject. As a student of language for most of my life, I seldom miss an opportunity to scrutinize how people use and misuse language, even correcting them often, especially my daughters, neither of whom are English majors.

In the dark evenings of winter with pitiful television programs, crochet projects gone wrong, and a book I have set aside missing, I found my own self coloring in the coloring books that I have for the granddaughter, but really how many times can you color Cinderella's ball gown or a dwarf or goofy looking Disney horse?

So I moved up. Bought myself one of those grown up coloring books at the super market. Tedious. All those teeny, tiny little circles and triangles and swoops to fill in. I gave up. The book wasn't a total waste since it did have some nice flower images that I enjoyed coloring. I then searched the web, looking for flowers to color.

We are all going through anxiety waiting for spring to arrive, so let me share with you my Grownup Coloring pages found on Super Coloring website. I've had fun printing my own pages then using a handful of colored pencils to entertain myself, creating pretty spring flowers then getting them prepared to share.


Last week's post on my cameras seemed to resonate with others who seeming have taken the same journey as I. We would all agree that the age of technology has given us so much more freedom to enjoy our photography and endless ways to share our pictures. What fun we have. I left the last post with the question about how we use technology to put the final touches on our photographs to fix their imperfections and to get them ready to use or place on the blog.

The daffodils show the final product of editing, disguising the not quite so in focus photo on the right.

How do you edit your photos, make your mosaics, or fix less than great photos?

Here's what I do.

I placed each page on the refrigerator and used my iPad to photograph them because I wanted to use Waterlogue on them to turn them into framed water colored art.

Color Bloom effect
No effect

Once I got my Waterlogue image, I Apple's Air Drop feature that allows me move the iPad photos through the air from one Apple device to another, in this case from my iPad to my laptop. The images go into iPhoto.   From there Picasa recognizes the images, automatically importing them. I cropped the photos on the iPad then made a quick mosaic using another app, Photo Collage and added a nice frame in that app.

Picasa, a free Google program, has pretty much replaced my Photoshop program that I have my desktop computer. I now regret spending the money on Photoshop Elements II because I jut have not been able to master it. I love the point and click ease of Picasa and the apps. 

Vibrant effect of Waterlogue for a softer look
Color Bloom effect on Waterlogue emboldens the color

I think I like the columbines the best. The Rocky Mountain columbine is our state flower. They grow in abundance here at the Garden Spot in abundance, freely seeding themselves both the wild color as well as other varieties. I had fun coloring them, enjoying the pretty pastels colors, but I really like the water color effect.

In Picasa I made the mosaic and added a frame to dress up the collage.

There is a wide range of apps and programs, such as Pic Monkey that I know many of you use. I have played around with the free app, but haven't purchased the full program yet. Regardless of which program you use, editing photos is fun and easy, taking us to places we never dreamed of years ago.

Such fun, isn't it on a winter's day to play.

In reality we aren't having much fun because the house is without water. Thursday we noticed that the water pressure was very low in the kitchen sink. Since it has been so cold, frozen water pipes are quite a possibility. The Head Gardener began checking the outside water faucets on the outside of the house and out at the barn. He checked the water meter which is on the far east boundary of the property across the hayfield out by the back alley. The little needle on the water meter was spinning, so he shut off the water, called the city, and called our plumber, but first we have to find the leak. There is a company that will come find the leak for us--at a price, of course, and they are booked up until Monday morning. With the warming of the weather, frozen pipes are thawing. We are not alone. Nor has the HG been able find the leak. In the morning when he feeds the livestock, he turns on the water at the meter, I shower, clean up, do dishes, gather water for the rest of the day and he waters the horses and hens. And the same again at night. We are fine, but we are reminded that how much we take for granted our modern conviencences such as running water, electrical power, abundant food, shelter. A comfortable life. I can't help but think of those poor folks in Flint, Michigan and am thankful. 

After being under the weather since Christmas with a sinus infection and the bad weather, I hadn't been out for days, so today with the temperature above 50 degrees F, I went for a walk, ending up downtown window shopping the antique shops. You can tell which ones are Bronco fans Tomorrow Denver Broncos play the New York Patriots for conference championship and the trip to Super Bowl. Payton Manning VS Tom Brady. It will be exciting. Nerve wracking. 

Puddles of water, frozen, icy snow, and sunshine on Main Street

Froggie and Fairy Girl in the front courtyard pond side looking like they are they ready for spring to arrive. They have had a cold winter, but there is more to come. I'll do some coloring, try to work out my crochet dilemma, find my book or another one, study the garden catalogs that are arriving, make garden plans, and dream. 

And clean out another drawer.

Thanks so much for visiting. If you haven't tried a photo editing app and have the tools, find a free one to get you started. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

All About the Camera

Let's talk cameras, today. I am always in awe of my blogger friends' photography, imagining that you  have state-of-the art photo equipment and always wondering "how'd they do that?" when you show us astounding photos on your blog. Sometimes we mention the camera we are using, even embarrassingly mentioning, "oh by the way, I forgot my real camera, so I resorted to my iPhone or Android."

 I thought it might be fun to trace my photo journey, for we have all come a long way.

Photo compliments of eBay

I began taking photos very young. My mother would let me use her camera dating to the 1940s. I have vague memories of the pictures that I took with this camera, but it was the family camera for a long time. Of course, we didn't take as many photos as we do today and they were in back and white. We'd shoot a roll of film and mom would take it to the local pharmacy to have to film developed, which usually took a week to get it back. 

Some of the photos would be blurry. Some would be under exposed or over exposed. But we were thrilled and didn't know any better, nor did we have the equipment to edit, fix, or repair a bad shot. 

eBay photo
My next camera was Kodak Instamatic, a Christmas gift.

eBay photo

It was an upgrade for sure because it had flash and I could take photos inside.

I had pen-pals and we wrote a lot of letters back and forth and exchanged a lot of photos over the years, I sent photos mostly of my horses and cat.

I bought my Pentax Spotmatic used for $125.00 when I had my first teaching job in 1971. I used it for decades. It went every where with me, capturing my life, preserving so many memories. 

I knew all about film speed, ISO, aperture, depth of field, shutter speed. I didn't know about the auto vs. manual switch, though it has that feature. I always shot in manual, using the internal light meter to get the correct exposure. For the most part, the camera never failed me.

I learned a lot about photography from my pal who was doing rodeo photography. I tagged along with her often, though I was never brave enough to get into the arena to photograph the bull riders. She was slim and quick on her feet and clever enough to talk the ring supervisor into letting a woman into the arena. She was good.

My Pentax traveled to England twice, Ireland, and Scotland with me. I purchased a second camera to travel with, a small point and shoot Nikon that was lighter to carry and easier to use, For the third trip to Scotland and a return trip to England I went digital.  I loved the little digital point and shot that had 8 mega pixels, but I also traveled with the Pentax.

Well, now, you all have probably taken that same journey moving from camera to camera as the technology changes so quickly. I put away the Pentax to begin the digital journey. Eventually I made the big step to the Cannon Rebel, a DSLR (digital single lens reflex). While we don't have to hassle with film anymore, we do need the technology to create our photos which means a computer, apps, and an ability to keep up with the always changing technology.  My DSLR is 12 mega pixels and I have fallen behind in that race, one that I don't really feel the need to keep up with, nor can I afford to. My Pentax lasted me for 30 years. Now as technology advances, we could be buying a new DSLR every few years. Nikon advertises a wireless one, making uploading from anywhere to anywhere easy. Do I need that technology? And the new cameras have 18 mega pixels, but can the naked eye process that finite imaging?

But let me tell you about my new fav. Look at this gorgeous thing. I am no longer apologizing for using my iPhone as my camera because it does so much so well. With an 8 mega pixel camera, it produces crisp, clear photographs. We upgraded our iPhones just before Christmas and aside for other features of a smart phone, the camera is my favorite feature.

It was easy to take photos at the auto repair shop to text to the HG. They tell the story of this love affair:

A new heart for an old truck. The heart break at the end of the year when the Head Gardener's beloved needed a transplant. 

As for the photo with the triangle signifying a movie, the iPhone 6 has a new feature. Using the Live feature, the camera captures a bit of movement in the still or the dog fetching the frisbee, but for a sick pick-up with it's parts removed, not so much. So I have to remember to make sure that the feature is turned off. 

Cruising through Old Town in Ft. Collins taking photos of the city wearing her Christmas finery, looking like a starry night.

Another favorite feature of the little phone camera: shooting in panoramic view, allowing me to get the entire village in one shot.

The camera takes a crisp, clear close-up of my favorite kids in the village.


An impromptu photo of a gorgeous sunset.

And a perfect picture of daffodils (except for the off center doily):

No, I'll no longer apologize for using my smart phone photos on the blog. I might not even mention it anymore. 

Now, I am interested in knowing how everyone edits their digital photography. This will be a fun discussion.

You left interesting comments on the last post about cleaning out the clutter. One more drawer down; this one in the craft space. Right now the junk is in a box waiting for sorting. 

I like this look better, don't you? These are my scrap booking projects neatly saved in their own containers, begging for me to get back to them.

January continues to eek its way across the calendar. We have been somewhat house bound with the snow on the ground and bitter cold temperatures. The gardening catalogs are starting to arrive. Our eyes are always larger than our garden spots, aren't they. It is exciting to see the new cultivars. Have you found any favorites yet? 

Wishing you a happy week. Thanks so much for your generous comments. 

Oh, I almost forgot. I've updated Ann's Dollhouse Dreams blog where I show the doll dresses that I sewed for Christmas. Take a peek. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Shred This; File That

There is always so much to do in January. I have started the year determined to get rid of excess, so I am going through every drawer, closet, box, and container to get rid of the unnecessary, unused, and the I forgot where I put it stuff.

 I am throwing way old electronics and technology: cords, floppy disks, cassettes, and devices. I am donating the usable and giving the girls a chance to claim their childhood items. I want only what we use with regularity on the selves and our most treasured items.

When my father-in law-died, I searched all of the usual places for the CD that I had made of him for his 80th birthday to show at his memorial, but I could not find it. I found it yesterday along with other Cd's that hold priceless photos. Now I know where they
are--for the moment.

I started my purging rampage in the office, nearly wearing out the shredder by clearing out a lot of excess paper work that we don't need to keep, so that I can start collecting this year's stash of important documents. Two things struck me as I sorted piles of Important Papers to File,  Don't Know if I Need to Keep this Paper, Papers the HG Needs to Deal With, Papers to Throw Away, and Documents to Shred:
  •  First, the amount of useless documentation that Medicare generates for my monthly reports on my health status.whether or not I have had a doctor's appointment that month. The home owners/ auto insurance is just as much of a nuisance. I have tried to go paperless with some of the bill senders, but I haven't make it all the way yet. Then I'd have to spend the same amount of time cleaning up the email. 

  • Next, I became annoyed at the fact that I have to shred anything that has our names on it for fear that someone might go through our trash. What a pure waste of time. 

Today I will pack up the Christmas village.  (If the spirit moves me) I am hauling all of the Christmas stuff downstairs where I will sort and purge in the next few weeks. 

We will be getting new flooring this spring, starting with the kitchen in a few weeks. While replacing the kitchen flooring will be a project, it will be a piece of cake compared to the rest of the rooms on the main floor when it comes time to replacing the carpet because all of the furniture will have to moved, so I am clearing clutter to make those projects a little easier.

What else is a girl to do on a snowy day? And we have had plenty. Though the sun shines, it has been very cold. We did reach 40 this week, so some melting took place, but we had more snow on top of old snow. The HG spent an hour with the tractor to clear our driveway and the neighbor's driveway.  With all of the snow and ice melted on the asphalt, I went out to shot some photos for this week's post and Mosaic Monday. Looking south down our road, the landscape sparkles white, catching sunlight that adds a million little prisms.

The snow fall began Christmas Day with temperatures falling to near 0 F. Our neighbor Robb cleared the driveways after the first snow. We love our neighbors. Thank you, Robb. Of course men love to run their equipment. Big boys with big toys.

We had more snow again this week. Now it was the HG's turn to remove snow. He used his tractor to scoop and push. Once the snow is removed from the black top when the sun warms it, what is left will melt.

The pasture sparkles in the late afternoon sun. I tried to catch the dazzle, but didn't. Not even a rabbit track in the snow. I am left wondering if that has anything to do with the big hawk I saw the other day in the neighbor's wind-break? I know. Hawks have to eat, too.

I am always surprised at how Mother Nature piles the snow on even the delicate branches of the Korean Lilac in the court year?

 Thus Monday' mosaic:

I finally removed the glass top to the coffee table on the patio before next snow came. It an inch of ice on. Now it looks a bit like stained glass window, only all white. I rather like it.

There's too much snow to take down the Christmas decorations. Besides they look very pretty and natural in the snow. I love the way the snow has piled up on the angel's halo, but she keeps playing her heavily music anyway.

I'll be linking with Judith for Mosaic Monday. Join us.

Have a great week. 

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...