Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthdays are fun....

The cards keep coming...and more fun, 22 people posted a birthday greeting to me on Facebook!
(Including greetings in Swedish and Danish no less.)
Cats in hats are always extremely appropriate subjects for birthday cards don't you think?

The fragrant hyacinths perfumed the air that was filled with good wishes for the upcoming year.

Two bit of extra fun: A card that had a mysterious letter "M" on the envelope.
It was mixed in with family gifts and I had no idea what it was all about.
Turns out my son thought "M" was plenty of letters to let me know that it was a card to his "Mom".
Busy guy, my son. Those extra two letters to spell out the whole word would have totally slowed him down.

The second big laugh:  Daughter Laura has often heard me sigh over the uber cute ruffle bottom 
baby panties; I have on more than occasion expressed a wish that such panties were available in big girl sizes.

Frenchie and I both thought this gift was fabulous!

I will spare you a photograph of my be-ruffled and bowed bum. You will simply have to guess when I might be wearing them under my skirts or even jeans!

Laura also supplied me with a vast collection of blooming teas.

Speaking of blooming...the forsythia next door is budding nicely.  Down in the valley they are in fully glory but up here in the cove they are just beginning to peek out.

A few more sunny days like we had today and they will unfurl and proclain spring has arrived!

The first widespread wild flower is going great guns alongside the roads.

Pretty stuff...

The blossoms are very unusual and can only truly be appreciated up close.

The coral center is hardly noticeable until viewed up close.

To say nothing of the side blossoms complexity.

Cool, huh?
The flower is a Myrtle Spurge. 
Pretty and interesting as they are, they are most unwelcomed in these parts.

Pretty -but extremely invasive. Myrtle spurge can crowd out native habitat for wildlife.
It poses danger to adults and children, because of it’s caustic latex sap.
This sap causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when ingested.
If the sap comes in contact with the skin, it causes redness, swelling and blisters.

Oh wonder folks don't usually get up close and personal with this flower!

Myrtle spurge was introduced as an ornamental plant because of it’s deer resistance and adaptation to dry soil. Commonly used in landscapes as a border plant, it takes over and spreads like crazy! Oddly enough, it is still popular in area nurseries, yet listed as noxious and even illegal to cultivate in some surrounding states.

During the next few weekends locals will glove up and try to erradicate as much of these plants as possible.
Well, I am glad I was able to photograph them without making any contact with my skin.

Around the area plants are awaking and greening up nooks and crannies here and there.

The tree buds alternated between carrying ice and sunlight.

Any snowfall quickly turns into a soft foamy like covering and vanishes at the slight ray of sunshine.

Up Little Cottonwood Canyon I spotted a waterfall splashing over mossy green growth.

I wanted to try out various camera settings to see how they would change the look of falling water.

I  afraid I really don't see much difference between the photos.

But the experiment gave me reason to park and hike across the road and enjoy the waterfall's sound and the beauty.

That's a good enough reason to park and walk a bit, right?
I would have poked around some more but there were all kinds of signs announcing various wide places in the road as Avalanche sites (each of which had an assigned name), and the declaration that NO parking or standing was allowed between Nov 15 and May 15.

Maybe if I had been wearing my ruffle bum panties I would have been brave enough to flaunt that warning.
But since I was instead clad in a rather dorky black powder suit, I yielded to directions and headed back home.
Like a sensible woman that I (sometimes) am.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Lovely Visit

We had a special treat around here the past week: My Mom flew in from San Diego for a visit with us Salt Lake City family members.

The first two days she was here it snowed non-stop.  That was just fine with her and with me.  We sat by the kitchen window or the living room window, watching the snow fall and chatting away.
Friday night Bernie grilled salmon outside on the barbecue while the snowflakes fluttered about him.

Saturday evening we all attended church and went out for Indian food.   My dad doesn't like Indian food so when we asked what kind of restaurant Mom would like to eat at after church, she quickly asked for Indian.

Sunday we lingered over the newspaper,then Bernie went to Jeff's to watch the Master's golf game on Jeff's huge television.  The weather was clearing a bit, so Mom and I drove to Temple Square to enjoy the flowers.  It was still pretty chilly out; it felt good to go back to Jeff's house and watch the end of the Master's golf game cuddled up under heated blankets.
 Jeff and Rachel then hosted us for a delicious scallop dinner. 

Yes, Meowsie and Cheeto were most happy to visit with Great Grandma Dustin.   Cheeto was happy to keep an eye on the dinner preparations while we all visited around the kitchen counter.

I did mention we got a LOT of snow the first few days of the visit, right?
Like eight inches of wet whiteness.
My quest to photograph individual flakes resulted in a few respectable shots.

(Sometimes I kind of like the ghosty clear flake photos.)

Snowflake shapes relate to cloud temperature rather than air temperature.  I really like the kind of flake that looks like stars with little tree like wisps on each spoke like the one in the first pictures, and I was pretty puzzled by the thick coated shape snowflake that were falling at one point.

Turns out that is a rimed snowflake crystal, the kind of crystal formation that creates graupel, a word we had never heard before and yet have come across several times in the past few days.

THIS website has been my inspiration to attempt to photograph snowflakes, or at the very least start looking at snowflakes to see if I can identify them like I do with flowers in the summer.  Since it snows here so much of the year I might as well enjoy snow in every way that I can.

By Monday morning we had sunshine again.  The crocus in the garden looked so cute popping up through the snow rapidly melting on the ground.

Obviously it was time to get out sand see at least some of the 230,000 daffodils blooming at Red Butte Garden.

The grounds are quite steep in places and the walkabout is a good distance.  A free wheel chair was provided for us as my Mom has a permanently broken tendon in the top of her foot that makes long walks very difficult.
Jeff was able to take some time out of his work day to join us; he has become quite a gardener himself over the years and we all enjoyed reading the various plant tags to learn a little more about the plants that grow in the new place we now call home.
(Gardening in Utah is very different than gardening in coastal Southern California, just in case you didn't happen to know that!)

It is still very early in our spring season.  The pruned roses are still just sticks and thorns, but the quail bobbed around to make up for it.

We thought this was an interesting growth...and had no idea it was an up coming peony bush!

I find it most helpful to take pictures of the plant labels for future reference.

Another kind of peony.  Isn't the twisted leaf formation interesting?

It was a pleasure to let Jeff steer us along.  He knows the garden very well and knew which paths to take that would avoid the need to climb stars. 

The bare branches against the cloudy skies were artful in themselves, but I confess I am more than ready to see blossoms and leaves again.

Another week...or two...or maybe three the garden will be fully in springtime, right?

But on that day, wintry snow still competed with the spring flowers.  The snow couldn't win over the flower fragrance though!

I did see one butterfly flapping past us
 in the breeze and lots of bees and one very proud magpie strutting by.

Snow capped mountain in the distance, and snow filled daffodil beds:  These kinds of seasonal conflicts add to the dismay of living far apart.  We would have loved to been able to set a date to visit the garden again in a couple of weeks.  I guess pictures will have to serve for that visit to happen.

We were astonished to see a bonsai Fig tree inside, bearing full sized beautiful figs.

Oh how tempting to keep returning to the garden on my yearly pass and snatch the figs when they reach the peak of ripeness.
We wondered which staff members have already staked a claim on each fruit!
Wonder if they could be bribed?
(Wonder how the fruit got pollinated inside too.)

After Jeff left us we drove down to IKEA to do a little "look-see".  Mom was able to find a light weigh bedspread, I got a couple of small items as well.  Lunch of a Swedish open faced shrimp sandwich was the perfect light meal for mid day.

Bernie had worked all day, but had snuck out to a bakery to purchase a dessert treat for our dinner.  We had first seen chocolate porcupines in Switzerland, and hadn't indulged in one while we were there.  He decided we should finally give one a try.
I hardily recommend that everyone add a chocolate porcupine to their dinner menu plans as soon as possible!
He also created some delicious home made pizza combinations; a nice and easy meal for all of us to enjoy.

I did mention we got a lot of snow while Mom was here?
We took a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday morning to both enjoy the scenery and to get breakfast at Silver Fork Lodge.
The snow pack completely filled the lodge's front windows.

It is a favorite restaurant of ours year around.  Their sour dough pancake starter is over fifty years old!

The fall colors can be seen outside during the fall, and the cozy fire is just a perfect place to dine during a snowy winter day.

In summer time humming birds buzz about one's head when one is dining outside; that lures us to come there for a meal when we are out camping in August.

Tuesday we had Flickers visiting outside.

One can always count on plenty of birds to watch while dining there any time of the year.

(Gotta be quick though...those birds won't stand around posing all day!)

Mom's last night with us was Tuesday and it was decided that my birthday would be celebrated with her on that night.
My dinner choice was the Aristo's Greek restaurant that we used to regularly visit when we would come up from Texas to visit Jeff.
Somehow we had not been there since we had moved here ourselves; the moussakka was every bit as good as I had remembered.

A huge serving meant plenty left over for the lunch the next day too.

Bernie selected a French wine to take along from home.
I am not a huge wine fan, but this bottle was delicious.

Bernie had also ordered a Chantilly Cream Cake for us to have as dessert back home.
Oh it was a light as a feather!

Gifts from Mom and Jeff were opened; while others were saved to be opened and enjoyed on my birthday proper.

(While we were at IKEA I had purchased a few bottle of Swedish Easter soda, a drink the Swedes called Paskmust. 
Apparently "Grandpa Lindquist" had concocted the recipe back in 1910 and it is reportedly available and consumed only at Easter.
It is made from barley and hops...and we tried to figure out what it tastes like.
Sort of like a combination of Dr. Pepper and Pepsi, but not sweet was one description we came up with.
Worth a try...I liked it quite a bit!

Bernie had the birthday candles read to go.

I did blow out the candles and made a wish.   Bernie re-lit them on my slice of cake.

Do birthday candle wishes count if you blow out candles two days before your birthday?
I guess I will just have to keep blowing out candles over the next couple of days, wishing for different things each time to find out the official birthday wish granting time policy.

I forgot to mention my other dessert guest.  Rachel had a class she had to attend that evening, but Jeff felt that Cheeto should be included in the party. He swung by his house after dinner at the Greek restaurant to pick up my grandcat for a visit.

We got lots of laughs over the resident cats reactions.  Bitsy kept creeping up to placid Cheeto and staring at him.
Clearly she knew he was some kind of animal, but surely not a cat!
Eventually our cats sat on the stair steps looking intently down on Cheeto.  We haven't seen their eyes so big in a really long time.
(That's Bitsy's eyes glowing in the background.)

Cheeto is a really good sport.

I think Jeff is a really good daddy to his cats.

(Tate:  I am not going to look again. Is that thing gone yet???)

Then the visit drew to a close.  One last hug and off to the airport.
Each visit is sweet in its own way, and sad when it ends.
We plan to be out in San Diego soon so it wasn't quite so hard to say good bye this time.
So as I write this on my actual birthday, it is snowing again.  I was born at three minutes to midnight so I am enjoying knowing these are my last hours as a 56 year old.
It has been another good year

Thanks Mom for visiting us, and thank you for being my mother!