Saturday, May 21, 2011


It feels heavenly here today.  The sun is out, the birds are singing.
Maybe I was raptured!
Maybe there are birds in heaven!
Birds like Mourning Doves, with rainbow like neck patches glistening in the sun: Surely such will be in heaven one day, right?

Other birds out there this morning:
Black-headed grosbeak: Love their song!

Our see-see-sweet calling Lazuli Buntings are regulars at the feeder right now.

The puzzling Dark-eye Junco, grey headed race (apparently Juncos plumage comes in a lot of variation so it took a while for me to figure out why my Dark-eyed Junco didn't look like Dark-eyed Juncos usually look.
Here's their call

Such a handsome bird!

Mirror images?
Not quite. Maybe a duet from you two later?

Love that soft chubby tummy!
Love their song!

Mrs. Lazuli Bunting perched in our neighbor's blooming apple tree.
I am tempted to print some kind message in the blank spaces in the shot, like "Happy Spring!"
Or not....

The Downy Woodpecker's giggle like call cracks me up!

In yesterday's rain, he was having a "bad feather day"...looked a bit like a punk rocker.

A Pigeon-Toed Siamese.
Doing her best as a cat to rate mention in a bird post.

Let me tell you, there is nothing like clicking on bird calls with four cats in the house. 
They come a-flying into the room and look around madly trying to figure out where that noisy bird is sitting.
It is really a pretty cruel joke on them, but oh so funny. 
Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 20, 2011

See See Sweet!

They're back!  Lazuli buntings are at our feeder and making our 37th day of rain (and snow in the mountains) tolerable.

They have the sweetest song too.  Of course they are a finch, and most finches do sing sweetly.

The understated females arrive at the feeders first, then the guys swoop in.
Wonder if the females yell "Dinner's ready!" and convinced the males that they had cooked up all those delicious seeds?
And look!  Two couples!  Dining with friends.  Isn't that nice?
Apparently they sit together as couples instead of splitting up into girls/guys at the table like so many people tend to do.
(I had forgotten from last year that a group of Lazuli Buntings are called a Mural, or a Decoration, or a Sacrifice. How could I have forgotten those options?)

They would perch in the blossoming apple tree across the way.  My ten time zoom point and shoot couldn't quite pull the tiny three inch bird into sharp focus, but I am hoping to get a better shot today.
Blue birds nestled in white blossoms: Visual bliss!

Another kind of bird popped by...

And one male decided to try the grub at the other bird feeder. He was smart, this ploy gave him a reason to get out of the rain!

I think this post would be incomplete without a link to a recording of the bird's song.
(No funny business with the link like there was in yesterday's post...grin!)

Click HERE  and scroll down half a page to listen to the lovely Lazuli Bunting song.
Like the bird says:  See-see-SWEET

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Odds and ends...

Neighbor's cat, the same one that got stuck in our car overnight during Halloween.
The cat is usually quick to scat when it sees me now.  I always want to take his picture before he skedaddles, and the other day I got camera lucky for this shot.

FYI: Princess Beatrice has her quirky Royal Wedding hat listed on ebay for charity.
She had Philip Treacy design the thing, at an estimated cost of 2,000 British pounds.

As of last night, just before 9 pm the hat was going for $32,900 USD. It is for a good cause; feel free to bid up!

(I have a feeling that hat is beautiful up close, and would have looked stunning if Beatrice had had her hair pulled back smartly when she wore it.)

Maybe it was all that attention directed towards the UK during that wedding that can be blamed for our current deary rain: It has rained unabated here now, just like it supposedly does over in Jolly Old England.

I am not amused.

The rain is seriously getting on my nerves.
I wish the cold gloomy weather would inspire me to bake or something. All it is doing is making me feel like going back into hibernation. Knowing there will be no new episodes of NCIS until next fall isn't helping either.

What I really need is some nice weather and a chance to go on a picnic.  Cook up a bunch of great food and head out for some dining al fresco...wouldn't that be nice.

Happily, I got my copy of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook cook book just the other day. As the book's introduction reads:

"No matter which way you look at it, wonderful things happen when people are given the opportunity to gather around the table—a chance to nurture and build relationships, fellowship and encourage one another and create a place of refuge for those who have had a stressful day."

That is SO true.

I want to leaf though through the absolutely beautiful MGCC cook book until I can select the perfect recipes to put together a menu for a perfect picnic once the weather gets nice.

But I am not really envisioning a relationship building meal "gathered around a table" in this case.  I am thinking more a blanket on the grass sort of event. 

It really doesn't require a table to "nurture and build relationships, fellowship and encourage one another and create a place of refuge for those who have had a stressful day", does it?

This dilemma is exactly why everyone should own several cook books.  I do happen to own another cook book, written in 1963;  I have personally have owned for about twenty years. It was written by famed food critic Mimi Sheraton, and it is scandalously entitled "The Seducer's Cookbook" .  (And yes, you can still buy it on Amazon too...)

In the book are several recipes suggested for put together a menu perfect romantic picnic. The author kindly notes however that in the case of some picnic parties, such as the one depicted in Manet's famous classic painting of 1863, entitled Luncheon on the Grass, (also known as Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) no menu planning may be required at all.  And talk about relationship building and stress relief:  I'll bet attending Manet's kind of picnic would be simply amazing in those regards. 

For those of us who would rather be out in the wild on a warm sunny day than be stuck at home in the kitchen, I think Sheraton's cookbook observations are just the thing.*  Summer will eventually come.  Some day...

with a slight paring down of the guest list, of course!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Useful info: Not!

Proof of yesterday's snow, as seen upon our neighbor's apple tree blossoms.

We got about an inch, but it swiftly melted away.
Today is to be re-run of yesterday with gloomy cold wet weather.
Around here we calling this season "The Winter That Will Not Die"

An update on yesterday's post.

Bernie did see the doctor last night.
Take your pick, it may be:

Spider bite

Or ????

Since the foot is slowly doing better, the doctor has decided to wait to see if there is another attack like this one before pursuing additional testing.

(And let's all take a moment here and pray that Bernie never has another attack like this one OK?)

My back is still tweaky but slowly getting better with ice and motion.

Laura is off to the estancia to ride horses and eat carne somewhere in Argentina.
Jeff and Rachel are home; they said they had a fine time in So Cal...and the $1,000 insurance deductible to repair the damage from reversing into a car parked behind them and the loss of an expensive pair of sunglasses at the airport will not be considered against the pleasure of the visit.

Vacation bliss: I am just glad it is over!
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When it doesn't all go as planned.

This is how I have been feeling:  Steady on The Rock, but everything around me has been pretty wild.
I took this picture up in Big Cottonwood Canyon the day before we flew to San Diego, last Thursday, with high hopes of seeing all of Bernie's sister's family at his niece's wedding.
That side of the family has mostly relocated to Kentucky; the gathering of the clan in San Diego is not likely to happen again any time soon so Bernie and I determined that we would make the trip out.

Such good intentions.
Ever heard the expression: No good deed shall go unpunished?
I think that is a horrible expression.
It is especially horrible when it comes true.

There were subtle warning signals going off in my head about the trip: It was awfully soon to be leaving again just a week after our week's vacation in Southern Utah.
My dad had just finished a grueling series of radiation treatments and a surgery for a persistent skin cancer on his scalp.  He was feeling just rotten.
My mom was not at the top of her game with a minor infection that was stubbornly refusing to respond to antibiotics.
As much as I wanted to visit them, I also knew a visit is often stressful to those who aren't feeling too great.

The picture above:  Grape hyacinths taking over in front of a weathered shed, a few blocks from where we live.
Most of the year the yard is filled with dried up weeds, but a few weeks a year the scene becomes simply spectacular due to the owners totally ignoring and avoiding any sort of yard work whatsoever.

Bernie and I had to run some errands before we left town and treated ourselves to a refreshing visit to a local nursery. It was a warm sunny day...and I happened to look up and spotted another "circle rainbow around the sun".

I made a point of pointing it out to everyone who was nearby.  The nursery workers had never seen such a thing jokingly asked if it meant that the end of the world was at hand.
The circle persisted in the sky for over an hour.

The next day we packed our bags and drove to the airport. 

A stop at Starbucks at the airport made me smile. 
 What matters most...for some the answers are one thing, and for others something else.
Maybe some folks would allow that the thing that matters second most actually is coffee sometimes.

The flight to San Diego was uneventful, save a rambunctious toddler in front of us and two people seated behind us with coughs that had us fearing that lungs would soon be sailing over our heads.

It was pretty gruesome. 

Bernie's folks picked us up at the airport. While we waited at the curb, we looked over the area where several kinds of palm trees shivered in the brisk seaside breezes. 
When you grow up in Southern California you usually stop noticing palm trees about the same time you begin to walk.  It takes leaving the area and coming back to start noticing them again.

It was warm enough at Bernie's parent's home that we soon were borrowing swim suits and taking a leisurely dip in their pool.  Sitting in the sunshine and chatting away felt awfully good....
Jeff and Rachel were also in town for the wedding. They were staying with Bernie's folks; we moved into Laura's place as she was off to Texas to be in a friend's wedding before she flew off for a week in Argentina.  My parent's had insisted that her two cats stay with her while she was gone.

Around four that first day we went over to my parent's house for dinner.  Jeff and Rachel were already there.  My dad was feeling just awful, and I felt so bad for him.

Dinner was enjoyed, then my dad took his cat outside for some garden time. Jeff joined them...and a few minutes later Jeff came inside to show me his hand where my Dad's cat had bitten his hand.
Jeff was upset...and a few minutes later the cat bit my dad's hand too.
Needless to say, this was very upsetting to my dad.  Rufus is a biter, but had never bitten him before.
I chalked it up to too much excitement for the cat:  there were seven of us for dinner and usually Rufus just has Mom and Dad in his relatively quiet life.

Bernie and I left shortly after Jeff and Rachel did, and drove to Laura's place.  As we walked up to her condo, Bernie said his toe he had bumped it or cracked it or something. 

I lost no time climbing into bed and was quickly fast asleep.  Bernie was next to me.  Or so I thought.  An hour after I was asleep he was wide awake and dealing with a foot that was so sore he felt like he was going to start screaming.  He took some pain killers, tried ice, tried hot soak...nothing. Just pain, stabbing, shocking non-stop pain all night long.

He didn't wake me. I was quite surprise to wake the next morning and find that he was in the other room sleeping.  He told me about what happened.  We looked at his foot, which felt fine now, thinking maybe he had gotten a spider bite while he was out by the pool, that being the only time he didn't have shoes on. 

There was no bite mark.  Just a slight pinkish cast to his lower foot, slightly warm, but it felt OK now.

The next day, Friday, we regrouped at Bernie's folks house.  Jeff and Rachel were game for a trip to a winery...this is kind of funny as Rachel is from the heart of the California wine country near Sonoma and such.  What could San Diego wineries have to offer compared to what she is used to?


Thunderheads were building over the vineyards that last Thanksgiving we had seen in golden hues.

Bernie seemed to be doing fine....

Wine tasting is OK, but sometimes I think the people who write up wine review really go a flavor too far.
Bright plum (???)
White pepper (not black, not red....white.)
Rosey perfume
and Blueberry (maple and blueberry???)

Tasted like, um, wine to me.

The winery has now planted a nice assortment of bougainvillea vines around the entrance. I checked out all the labels and imagine that soon the entrance will be simply spectacular.

Back at my in-laws: I wandered through Barbara's garden enjoying her flowers.
She said this flower was a volunteer; she doesn't know what it is called and neither do I.  It sure is interesting though.

Her iris are a joy....

Next year's persimmon crop is in bud...

Birds were singing everywhere.  Blissful sounds!

Barbara has hedges of fuchsia growing against a fence.

I do miss fuchsia and bougainvillea sometimes.
Well, back to our good deed punishment.
We went out for a nice Mexican dinner, visited awhile longer then once again drove back to Laura's condo, where we strongly missed the presences of both our daughter and her kitties. 

I went to back was hurting and starting to spasm, which often happens  when I fly.  Some how plane seats and my body just do not work well together. Or maybe it is just the stress of getting going, hauling luggage, etc etc.

Bernie fell into bed too, exhausted as he had not slept at all the night before.
Two hours later he woke me up.  His foot was excruciating.  We called Laura back in Texas; waking her up.  She suggested a pain reliever and sleeping tablet that she had on hand, it should be strong enough to knock out an elephant.

If only....

Bernie spent another night in agony, and his throat was sore from trying not to yelp in pain.

I woke up with my back in felt like I had an arrow stuck in my back that shot shocks out with my every move.

It was Saturday.
And we had a wedding to go to in a few hours.

Scratch that plan.  Another call to Laura gave us the name of the best emergency department in the area.  Nearly five hours later Bernie had four medications, two injections and two possible conditions: Cellulitis and possibly gout.

The wedding had gone on without us; Bernie's parents and our kids calling us to see how we were doing right up until the ceremony began.

We stopped at a pharmacy to fill prescriptions; the pharmacist had just left for lunch.  We should return later.

Back at the condo we both fell asleep.  I awoke first and headed back to the pharmacy.  They were closed for the night!


Bernie was NOT happy with that bit of news.  A swift call to the hospital informed us that the pharmacy chain would have the prescription in their computer; we just needed to find an all-night branch to contact to get the prescription filled.

Thank you Lord for allowing me to live during a time when GPS on cell phones are able to talk me through a drive to a totally unfamiliar area of town, with a back that was so painful that changing lanes required Lamaze breathing techniques.

Bernie gulped the four meds, and I confess I helped myself to the heavy duty pain killer he had been prescribed.  It helped make me woozie enough that I could sleep.
It didn't help Bernie at all.  He spent another night considering the possibility of using a large kitchen knife to part his foot from his body.

A call to his Dad the next morning let us know the carnage had continued: Bernie's mom had fallen ill that night too and was in bed basically out cold.
Stress related stomach upset. 

Sunday passed with us mostly trying to stay unconscious too. 
Monday we were to fly home.  Much prayer was requested of a few dear friends, and Bernie was able to slip on a flip flop and I was able to grit my teeth long enough to get home.

Bernie was to fly to St. Louis today on business.  That's cancelled. His business teammate injured himself this weekend too...and also had to cancel his trip.

Barbara is OK now.   My back is still in spasm.  Bernie is doing better, and will see a doctor here ASAP.

The Kentucky clan is Facebooking that they are arriving back to their homes.
Laura emailed that she arrived safely in Argentina.
We will pick Jeff and Rachel up from the airport later.  We hear they had a really great week in San Diego.

Outside our kitchen window the skies are misty.  Fresh snowfall is to be seen up on the mountain, while below the apple tree has gone into full bloom during the few days we were gone.

Across the street the foothills also are snow dusted and the temperatures are dropping here.  As strange as it all seems to see, it actually is good news: the colder temperatures have slowed down the mountain snow melt rate preventing local flooding.

The sun isn't going to win over these clouds.

Four houses down there is a festival of flowering trees that seemingly are determined to ignore the gloomy weather.

Tate checks it all out...he would like to go out and play too.
The reflection in the glass around him probably reflects his idea of a great way to spend the day: outside!
Not going to happen Tate.
I think we are pretty much going to be hunkered down for awhile.

The run off stream at the foot of our garden is making a lovely watery sound that aided quite a bit to our sleep last night.
Like the little bird in the center of the stream in the first picture, I am just hanging on today and trusting all will be just fine despite a lot of choppy water that seems to be about us just now.
There may not be rainbows out today, or circles of colors around the sun that  can barely be seen.  Sometimes that is just the way it is.
This season of trials will pass.
Such seasons always do.

Minor update: It is snowing at our house now.  Can you believe this???