Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lighting up Life

Greetings. One would hardly know that we are in Colorado this week, for the weather is mild, sunny, and while not especially warm, dry. And at the moment, no wind. Looking east across the yard and the acreage, the trees and buildings are silhouetted in black against the orange glow of the not yet risen sun.

And so begins the day.

It is so dry here that the ski areas west of Denver are still manufacturing snow, rather than relying on Mother Nature--not deep powder yet. Texas friends and relatives had more snow last week then we have had in in two months. Children awoke to a blank of snow. My great nieces and nephew built a rather respectable snowman, too, complete with his A&M scarf. (Representing Texas A&M University.) So the weather here is hardly frightful, as the song says.

Inside a flurry of activity. The tree is up and the Christmas village is assembled. The tree is pink and gold, as it has been for many years. I use the same decorations year after year, including the pink bows that I tied a few years ago. The tree holds a collection of Victorian era dolls, crystal-like ornaments, and this year I added the beaded garland, which really made the tree look richer and finished. I love the warm glow of the light from the tree, especially at night.

The same with the village. The colorful lights not only light up the house, making it dazzle, but the Christmas lights all over town bring joy.

 I haven't begun baking yet, and will do only a little. Our annual Santa party is this week, so there is plenty this week, so I do need some high sugar treats for the kids. Since the party is right after church, we will have a chili lunch with a vegetable tray and a fruit tray, hoping that the kids will fill up on healthy food before the cookie plate.

This week's mosaic is simple--I seem to be in a rut as all or my mosaics seem to look the same, recently. I need to take some serious photos, but I am not quite done decorating, so I'll have more to share next week.

Along with the pink tree and a much reduced village, I have my bright red poinsettia that my neighbor, Carol, brought me. It is one of the very large ones from the garden center where she works. What a nice surprise when she showed up at the door with this lovely plant.

After using Collegit 3 Pro, I am not particularly happy with it. I find the templates limiting. I much preferred Picasa and was sad to have to finally give it up. Perhaps with more practice with Collegit, I will master it and be able to present more creative mosaics. Nor are photos of very good quality. My iPhone camera doesn't seem to produce the sharp, clear photos that it used to for a couple of possible reasons: I have dropped the phone a couple of times and/or I am not allowing enough time for it to focus. Who knows? I need to better.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'll be sending this post over to Maggie at Life in Normandy. Join us there.

Have a great week. I will be wearing myself down shopping this week and getting ready for Santa's visit on Sunday. Have great week.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Elves, Deer, and Dolls

I am up early this morning, starting my day by trying to meet the Mosaic Monday deadline for posting. I had thought to do it last night, but I could hardly stay awake. We had a busy week, still haven't done any major Christmas shopping, that will come in the next few days, I fear. I have started some decorating. Would you like to see?

As long as the weather holds, Lily comes over once a week to 'work' Pop, as the girls riding instructor told her to do. Both Ellie and Lucy have their own horses now. I need to introduce you to the girls--their mares. Since they only have a two stall barn, Pop an Sundance stay here. Lily would love to have Pop at home with her. He is such a good boy, so patient and gentle with the little five year old. He's a good sport to play Elf Pop.

 The President General of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Ann Turner,  has an American Gil doll and chapters all over the country are sending her an outfit for her doll's wardrobe.  Our Overland Trail DAR Chapter will be sending one of the dresses that I made. The dress is the one on the right end. The outfit includes the dress, pantaloons, the apron, bonnet, and black lace up boots. It is indeed a honor. I am not sure where the outfit will be displayed or what will become of it. I had inquired last year about how to go about making the dress, and no one could answer my questions, so I made up four little outfits and took them to a meeting, and one was selected to send to the national president's project. This dress represents the 1870's prairie life of a young woman who would have lived in Colorado as the state was joining the union in July 1876.

The dolls, I jokingly say, are rescues from the thrift store. The one on the left is a Madame Alexander doll with long blond hair and the other one is Target's Our Generation. I love this doll with her freckles. I paid less than three dollars for these dolls that were in great condition. I always have a hard time trying figure out why these beautiful dolls get donated. When I see one I buy it. The last one that I found, I gave away to an age appropriate child. I do enjoy sewing for these little girls and they always reward me with a smile.

I used to set up a little table with my special dolls gathered around having a Christmas tea party, but as the the grand children became toddlers, the dolls were too much of a temptation to play with. I used my mother's antique child's tea set, which I loved to display, but I haven't put the dolls out in years for fear that things would get broken. The children are older now and the dog seems to be leaving things alone, too, so I have brought the dolls out this year. The scene isn't done; this is what I have so far. The table and chairs belonged to my mother-in-law when she was a child. It is one of my favor things. I keep it in the kitchen along with the little child sized cabinet complete with a plastic Barbie tea set. Even my youngest grandson likes to serve tea.

Meet my girls: The one on the left sitting is a thrift store rescue, probably 1950s or '60s, the little doll sitting on the table is a '50s baby doll. The next two are Lee Middle dolls, Little Boy Blue and an little angel, though you cannot see his wings. I had to replace them because the cat chewed one up. The doll in the back is the only doll from my childhood, Susie. The other doll seated was my sister's doll.  The angel is Barbie.

(The iPhone photos are blurring. Sorry)

I purchased this My Size Barbie some time ago. She has always presided as the "mom," but this year she is an angel. I have always wanted to make her an angel, so I purchased wings at Hobby Lobby and made her gown out of a pillow case by making slit in the bottom and arm holes on the sides, and binding them with seam binding and adding Velcro to close the back. Because Barbie gets tossed around and stored in the closet most of the time, her hair is tangled mess, so I washed her hair yesterday using a cheap shampoo/conditioner then lathered it heavily with a cheap conditioner that I had in my bathroom cupboard. Her hair combed out beautifully.

The reindeer at one of the garden centers in Ft. Collins are another Christmas tradition. The girls have quite a story, but I save that for another time. They are, however, old--one is in her twenties. They were both born and raised on a ranch in southern Colorado. They are owned by our neighbor who works at the garden center and they are boarded a the back of the garden center year round. We had hopes that she might bring them here to graze in the pasture, but moving them is very stressful for them.

We didn't put out our Christmas lights last year, but this year we actually enjoyed doing the little chore. The trees are growing and require more lights than what have. I may have to buy more next year. We load up the golf cart with our supplies and begin our work.

The Center Garden gets the Angel and the deer

We light four trees out front--I need to use a better camera.

The corner welcomes guests and I hope puts a smile on travelers.

And that, my friends, is the week that was. The sun is up and it is time to tackle the rest of my day. Thanks so much for stopping by. Join me at Life in Normandy for Mosaic Monday. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Liquid Silver

We had an unseasonably warm day for end of November, post Thanksgiving when our Colorado weather ought to be raging, according to some. The high 80 miles to the south in Denver broke a record with 81 degrees, the new high for the date. No wonder when some vacation here they decide to move here only to be shocked when Colorado's weather gets it revenge with sub zero temperatures and blowing snow. Tomorrow will be another day with cold weather promised.

Speaking of Denver. We took the grandsons home Wednesday after having them for a few days. Jacob and the Head Gardner spent their quality time deer hunting while little Nathan kept me company. He has become great friends with the little boys next door. While Nathan is the city boy living in the Cup de Sac, John plays hard and rides a kid sized four wheeler. It has been a challenge to keep Nathan off of the machine, but with the permission of his mother and under the supervision of John's mother, Nathan took his first ride.

These machines pose a certain risk, but the main rule is always safety first and with mom's supervision, John gave Nathan good instructions and Nathan had a good time. I hope we didn't get something started. 

We dropped the boys off and headed home at the height of rush hour just as the sun was setting behind the Rocky Mountains. We were on an over pass with a spectacular view of the city skyline and while the orange tinted clouds over the mountains in the western sky were spectacular, I chose to photograph with my iPhone camera the eastern sky above the city, a delicious pale pink and pleasant blue. The photos taken with the live action feature on now look bit blurry and the reflection of the sun is not quite as spectacular, but the colors are pretty.

The glass buildings looked like liquid silver, shimmering in the late evening sun. Denver is growing so fast as illustrated by the number high rise cranes used to stack one floor on top of another. While I am not a city girl, I do enjoy the beauty of the city. 

I've been laid up for the last couple of days with a bum knee. It is feeling better tonight. Tomorrow I am off to the university to tutor. It is the last week of the fall semester. I'll limp my way into the building. The Head Gardner returned to the corn fields of eastern Colorado to help with the last fields of corn and then I do believe he will retire from his second career. 

So. It is quiet here again. Have you begun your Christmas decorating yer?  I put lights and garland on the fence out front Saturday. I decided that this year we would light the place up, having skipped last year, so I decorated the corner of the fence, but the lights are not yet plugged in. I love Christmas lights, but it is a lot of work to hang the lights and the weather has to be warm, too. The HG will have his work cut out when he returns by the end of the week. My Christmas tree won't go up for a couple of weeks yet. I always feel the pressure to get things decorated, but I really don't need to hurry, do I. 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Linking with Normandy Life. Hope to see you there.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fall Lingers On

The house is quiet this week. The Head Gardener has our fourteen year old grandson out in Eastern Colorado deer hunting. My 8 year old grandson is here keeping me company. He is very good company, too. We have stayed busy. His favorite thing to do is go down the road to the Rec Center and swim. I enjoy swimming, too. He also enjoys spending time with the the nine year old boy next door.

As you can see, "Welcome to the Garden Spot has a new look--a temporary one. I dumped Picasa because I have so many photos that it bogged down. I just updated my Mac laptop os and the Photos Ap has been improved, but still does not offer a collage maker, so I found one in the App Store, Collageit Pro, only $9.99. I downloaded the free the version first to try it out, finding it limiting, but liking it, so I decided to buy the Pro version.

If you have a Mac, you might like it. I have tried some of the on line collage makers and sometimes they are very slow and I am cheap so I didn't want to spend the money for on line access. So if you are Mac user and are looking for a new collage maker, I think you should take a look at Collageit.

I could name this mosaic "Signs of the Season" with the skim of ice on the surface of the pond and the Canada geese moving from one field to another by the thousands, honking and talking to each other along the way. Then Nathan hanging upside down to show me his new trick on the swing set on our way to feed the horses and hens, bit of morning sun filtering through the  pine tree. Last, the odd looking thing attached to the chimney on the play house is a bird house that John and Nathan built and installed. John is quite the little character with his power tools.

The merchants around town have their Christmas decorations up and this is my favorite window at a little Antique store here in our little village, Blooms and Heirlooms. Ann creates the prettiest Christmas trees. I love this all white display with pretty tree and the lovely white deer statures, but my favorite is the beautiful angel. Ann purchased a mannequin and found a very inexpensive wedding dress at a thrift store for the angels beautiful gown. The photo really isn't that good because of the glare on the window and sometimes I am thinking that my phone camera doesn't focus as well as it should.

I wish you all state side a Happy Thanksgiving. Will you be cooking? This year Jennifer will prepare the dinner. I'll make the pecan pies for our son-in-laws. I nearly fainted when I saw the price of pecans, but I make the pies once a year. My goal is not to over eat. I promise. 

Thanks for visiting. Join us at Mosaic Monday with Maggie at Life in Normandy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

EEEK! A Mouse

A Flight Plan

It has been a slow week. The Head Gardner came home from corn harvest late Friday and left again early this morning. The weather has been decent for the harvest crew--over a hundred miles east of us--but problems with the machinery breaking down have slowed down the combining of the corn  this year, robbing the farmers of precious work time.

My husband apologizes for being gone for so long, but I told him that I get along okay. The first couple of days, I am lonesome, but as the hours pass and the days go by, I adjust to him being gone--knowing, of course, that he will return. So he left again early this morning, leaving me to keep the home fires burning and doing the chores.

So imagine this: Boone found a young, wounded pigeon in the barn and took it to his master. Surprisingly, he dropped the poor bird and the HG was able to rescue it. He put it in spare dog crate in the chicken coop with food and water then left, leaving me to tend yet another critter. After a few days the young pigeon's leg wasn't tucked up inside the feathers. And one day he was walking on it. Now more active, the pigeon had kicked wood shavings into this food and water, so I opened the door to the crate and reached to give him more food and fresh water. Before I could do anything, the bird took flight, flying into my face and out the the door and into the wild blue yonder.

I called the HG to tell him that his bird had flown the coop, afraid that he would be upset since the night before I threatened to turn it loose since it was better and he asked me to wait until he got home. He took it good naturally, laughing and thankful that the bird healed.

Talking to Mice

With the weather turning colder, little critters come in looking for food and shelter. With hay, grain, and chicken feed there is an endless supply of food for little scavengers. I began stressing mid-day about what I was going write about for this week's post. There really isn't anything very interesting going on here at the Garden Spot. Over the years, I have photographed and written about everything there is, so I am sometimes hard up for topic. So here is what I came up with for this week with inspiration coming while I fed the horses. I always take my phone with me, mostly in case I should fall and need to call for help. 

Here then is Monday's Mosaic:

(Just so that you know, photos are not in sequential order)

Someone did not put the lid back on the can that holds the chicken scratch. So when I reached into scoop up the grain for the hens I was surprised by movement.(Photo top right). The HG got distracted and didn't finish filling the gain bin with the cracked corn and left and= open bag of corn next to the open storage. So I scooped corn into the trash can, filling it up so that little mouse could escape. What a lucky shot of him sitting the edge of the trash can. I had time to take my phone out of my pocket and take two shots.

Bottom left: Sundance has a new stall mate, a mouse snacking on--never mind. You know. The mouse is out there every night waiting for some grain to fall on the floor. Once again I was able to get photos, even with a flash. Risky using a flash--Sundance tends to not like a camera flash, but he remained calm. In the second photo you have to look really really close to see the mouse down in the lower corner.

So. That's the way it is here this week. How are things at your house?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Birthday

The Boone Doggle turned four Halloween. It's hard to believe that he has been with us for nearly four years. You may well have been with me when I posted about his coming home back then. We had lost our dear, sweet Max and had decided that we really couldn't replace him, so we would not get another dog. The Head Gardner, however, just had to look and you know what happens when you window-shop--or surf the web--you find something, and you go buy it. He found Boone on Pet Finder. com at a kennel in Grant, Nebraska just the other side of the Colorado boarder. In the photo, pictured with his brother and three sisters, Boone was the big male in the back. Gerald called and said, "I want that one, the male in the back, sitting tall."

We drove the two +hours to Nebraska to pick up him. Today he is the Crown Prince of the Garden Spot. Big. Strong. Fast. Smart. Funny. Sweet. Stubborn. He loves to chase the rabbits, play with the grand kids, and harass the poor cat, Mo.

The collage shows him sleeping on the sofa, only because it was his birthday. He even got a Birthday Cake, now his favorite toy that we have to take away from him or he will shred it minutes.

He is a handsome dog, that dark chocolate color with the ticking on his chest. He is across between a weimaraner and a German Short Haired Pointer. He has the build of the weimaraner--larger than the the typical short hair. but he has the color of the short hair. 

He came home with us February 10, 2014.

It was love at first sight at the little animal clinic that also did dog adoptions. He was one of a litter of 13 pups, five of which were surrendered for adoption.

He was so cute and such a handful. His very favorite thing to do: Steel my sock and give it up only when offered a cookie. I said he was smart.

The Head Gardener is still out east working corn harvest. Because we don't have a fenced yard and Boone is inclined to run off, he has to go to the boarding kennel while his daddy is gone. It is a long spell for him. 

It is hard to believe that November is ticking away. The weather has changed dramatically here in Northern Colorado. We are expecting snow all night. 

I am glad to be back blogging. I'll be joining Maggie at Normandy Life. See you there. 

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Back to the Neighborhood

Hello Friends, I have returned. I had not planned on a blog break, but it happened. I ran out of things to say and there didn't seem anything new or interesting to write about. I posted my very first post 5 August 2010. We had been here at the Garden Spot for just a little over year and there was a lot of gardening to write about. It took a long time to build up a nice list of wonderful loyal readers whom I began to consider as friends. We have shared so much over the years, but then some of the bloggers have dropped away, going to Instagram, and I still have not made that move.

Blogging is hard work and time consuming. I was having a hard time coming up new and fresh ideas, but Picasa failed me because I have so many thousands of photos in my iPhoto library and with the sharing, they are all on my all of my devices. I took all of the years of photos off of my iMac hoping that they would disappear from the iPad, phone, and laptop--I am little technology heavy. Picasa does not store photos, as you probably know, it merely imports what is already on your drive and with nearly 18,000 photos on my lap top, Picasa bogged down and I said, "I'm done" so I delete Picasa from both of my computers leaving me without a decent collage maker. Yes, I know that there are others out there that I can use, but I want free!

Beginning to feel guilty because I have been gone for so long, I decided to get back to work--writing the blog. I used my iPad's collage app and made up a mosaic for Monday Mosaic, and I am back in business. Nor have I stopped writing. I have been using my writing time and more to write fiction. I started my first novel just before Christmas and the story didn't end with the last line of the novel. So I wrote a second, and now I am finishing up the trilogy. What will I do with my masterpieces?  I don't know yet, but it has been a life long dream to write a novel. When I worked--teaching college students how to write a decent academic essay--I didn't have time to do my own writing. So now I do. My friend is also writing children's fiction and we daydream of the possibilities of publishing and I said, You know what? At our age, what do have to lose?  Our lively hood no longer depends on the success of our writing. We can write to please our inner need to tell stories and if we get published, well that is just the icing on life's cupcake.

So, A summery of the last two--almost three--but who's counting--months at the Garden Spot:

Fall has come.

I am still tutoring  at UNC in the Writing Center, helping the college students with their writing concerns and visiting with my friends. I tutor two hours on Tuesday morning.

Lily and POP: Lily is now five and in kindergarten two and half days a week. She goes to school on Tuesday and Thursday and half a day on Friday, so on Wednesday she and mother come here to work their horses. 

On of Lily's favorite parts about working with POP is picking out his hooves. We play with the horses  and have lunch and sometimes go down the road to the new recreational center and swim.

Jennifer works Sundance, but has discovered the cause of his limp that he has had for some time. I thought he had injured his shoulder slipping in the mud, but the vet has diagnosed him with arthritis in the joint just above his hoof line, so he is on medication for the inflammation. It has helped some, but she isn't sure if she will be able to ride him. 

Tomorrow is Halloween and we get really crazy. We all have with witch's hats, so we went to our DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) meeting wearing our hates. We get smiles and comments, but wonder what the ladies are really thinking. Heather lives in Denver so when these two sisters get together and we all go to Target--well you can see why I disassociate myself with them. And these photos are tame.

For those of you who follow the dollhouse blog, I have a dog for the house, a German Short Haired Pointer, same color as our Boone.

The Head Gardner finished some landscaping around the water garden. We had extra red rock, so he put it around the pond to give a nice clean look. The weeds will pop up next year--we take on the battle sometime later.

Next year I may hang pots on the trellis. 

You have all seen this froggy who dreams pond side in the front courtyard.

But you have not  met this handsome dude. In the middle of the night I heard a bull frog, most certainly. I grew up listening to the bull frogs. I'll share some bull frog stories later--remind me if I forget.

He is not a large frog. We don't know where he came from. Did a bird carry a frog egg in and deposit it and he has been there all along? Or did he hop in, traveling a long distance to find a home? We do know that he will move on probably because the pond is lined with heavy plastic and he will need to burrow in to hibernate. I enjoyed his song while he was here.

We took a drive out to our friend's wheat from in Northeastern Colorado. He is planting the last of the winter wheat. Now the Head Gardener is helping the Anderson Brothers pick up bird seed--millet. We have a skiff of snow today. I hope it is dry out there so that they can be done and he can come home Wednesday

My last three photos were taken by my granddaughter, Elinore, who, by the way, is 11 today. She will soon be taller than I am. I let her take my Cannon Rebel around the Garden Spot and these are among my favorites

She has a good eye and nice sense of composition. 

So, there you have it friends. I'll be around to visit. It's nice to be back in the neighborhood. 

Of course I am linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fair Time

August is the month of agricultural celebrations where farmers and growers, bakers, and makers of things display their hard work. The crowds come from all around to step back in time to the ways things used to be and get a glimpse of the present.

The first weekend in August is always the busy one with two celebrations: The Ault Fall Festival and and Lucy's birthday.

Behind the scenes where the parade participants gather before the parade in the parking lot behind the high school. Grandson Nathan and his little friend love riding on the float for Ault Historical Museum.

The Head Gardener revs up his vintage tractor to pull the float.

Nathan and his friend and mom Heather waving to the crowd.

The festival always has a display of vintage machines. I had to photograph the old Maytag wringer washer. My mom used one for many years and when I rented my apartment in college my landlady let me use her wringer washer that sat next to her automatic washer. Here, now, is my new Maytag. I am so thankful that I don't have to go back to the good old days. 

At the end of the parade, we walked around, came home, had some lunch, then it was time to party with Lucy to celebrate her 9th birthday with a beachy theme. She looks more like a California surfer girl, doesn't she?

The same day,  Mom is at the country fair with Elinore and her pet rabbit, Peter, participating in the 4-H fair. Peter seems relaxed amid all of the action of the fair.

Peter is an old rabbit, one that has surpassed his expected age. He lives in Ellie's bedroom and is a pampered bunny. She is now ten and has had Peter since she was two. In his first competition, he was judged on rabbit qualities, he scored rather low, 9th out of 10. Not too bad, considering that he was old. I loved what the Judge kindly said to Elinore: "He is old, but nice and past his prime."  I had to laugh and answered, "Much like grandma. Old but nice, and past her prime."

Instead of entering 4-H competition, Lucy entered her photograph in the open competition in the county fair. She used my Canon Rebel with the 75mm-300mm telephoto to take the photo of Sundance and the wild rabbit above her.  As we strolled around and looked at the photos and wondering why certain photos won the ribbons and others didn't, a lady who heard our conversation joined in, explaining that she had watched the judging.  She told Lucy that the Judge really liked the photo of Sundance and it might have placed had it not been out of focus just a bit.

The fairs also have home arts competitions. This display caught me quite by surprise, the tea tables.

This one was the juvenile winner

And the senior grand champion.

Meanwhile back in the rabbit barn, Elinore is doing the required housekeeping to keep her area clean.

The midway, or carnival, is the best fun. I took the younger sisters out to the midway to ride a couple of rides. The merry-go-round first. Didn't get photos because I stood with the girls on the ride.

Lily takes a nice drive

while Lucy flies high.

Finally, Ellie's showmanship competition, the last of 50 exhibitors. Here the young 4-H-er is judged on her knowledge of rabbits and how well she handles the rabbit. This was her first competition, so she didn't quite know what to expect, so didn't place. She is looking forward to next year and shopping for younger rabbits. Nice and younger rabbits in their prime.

Dare I show the biggest eye sore of the Garden Spot?  That piece of real estate in the front to the house. We cleared out the dead bushes in the early summer and then let it go to weeds--not on purpose. Yesterday we finally came up with a plan. Mow the weeds, spray the weeds, till the weeds under and replace all with sod. We decided to reduce the 10 foot wide space to a 4 foot wide space, reasoning that grass is easier to maintain than garden. I am waiting for the tiger lilies to fade then I will transplant them.

And thus ends another week at the Garden Spot. Today we are taking nice drive to Estes Park, to the mountains for a bit of lunch and shopping--or looking. I love for you to join us in the Colorado Rockies. I'll take photos. 

Have a fabulous week. 

Just a Hint of Spring with a Dose of Cuteness

It's not safe to say that Winter has made his exit. He's still hanging around waiting to surprise us. We know the routine: freezing ...