Monday, December 31, 2007

Start of my garden...

My sister wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it for a while and couldn't think of anything. So we kept talking and I mentioned I wanted to get some apple trees for my spring planting. She said that she would buy them for me for Christmas, and I thought that was a great idea. I figured it'd be a late Christmas present and it would arrive in the spring.

One day in late November, I got this long skinny tube in the mail. Inside were two sticks wrapped in newspaper and plastic with a label assuring me they were Macintosh apple trees.

I had no idea what to do with them. The ground was frozen and my pots were all packed in the garage.

Mom came over and showed me that I could water them through the plastic and wet the newspaper to keep them moist.

Ummm...they've started sprouting.

I hope that they don't suffer for not being dormant. I plan to get one of the big pots out of the garage and plant them in a few days when I get some potting soil. I'll put them in the ground in spring.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Wow - its been hectic! And I'm still not done with Christmas! My two daughters are coming in January, so we will have another holiday with them. I'm leaving the tree up and the wreath on the door. I also still need to send out the cards and a few gifts I didn't manage to mail out before the big day. And of course, I'm one quilt behind in the gifting arena, but I'm almost done with it!

On the homefront, Flint goes in for his operation on January 4. As we suspected, the ligament has torn completely, no healing there. The leg is atrophying from lack of use and his front left leg is taking the brunt of weight causing the elbow joint to bow out. I don't want him old and arthritic before his time so the operation must be done. It will be hard for him. Flint and Echo have never been separated. I'm hoping he'll bounce back quick from this necessary evil. Here they are dressed for Christmas:

I received lots of lovely gifts. My family and friends know me so well! I received fine teas & a special mug, candles, meltaway mints, BigFoot slippers, perfume, an antique cheesebox with Santa handpainted on it, lovely clothes, dishes, books...and so much more. The love and cameraderie of my family and friends is deep and genuine! Here's a pic of me wearing some of my gifts:

Yes, those ARE my new drop seat pajamas. And BigFoot slippers (our family has a joke about the Missouri Monster - MoMo - a BigFoot spotted about 4 miles from here a dozen times since the early 70s). I guess this brings a whole new meaning to Psalms 31:22 - "...she dresses in fine linens and purple gowns..."

I loved reading the cards and letters from distant family and friends. And the pictures! The kids are growing, going to college, and just WOW!

All in all, a lovely holiday for our family and friends. My only regret is that I didnt' get all my Nativities out, however, here is a sampling of what I managed to find in the garage!

From left to right: Stained glass Nativity, Old World Nativity with candle behind, small olive wood Nativity, Mother-Of-Pearl Nativity, tiny soapstone Nativity, wooden contemporary Nativity, and a Mikasa crystal Nativity.

And to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cold nights...Gothic Nativity

My sister lives in Oklahoma and works as a breakfast hostess at an Inn. With the ice storms cutting power all over Oklahoma people streamed into the inns and hotels all over the state. Margaret told me her boss felt so bad because he had to turn people away because there was no room at the Inn.

Pa was worried that the power would go out so he told us to crank up our heater so when it did it would take the house longer to cool off. Thank God we did. The first day stayed fairly warm - sweaters and thick socks kept us warm. The second day the temperature dropped to 57 degrees inside.

Flint isn't as well insulated as Echo so I tossed a blanket over him to keep him warm.

I received this Nativity last Christmas. It is a music box and plays "O, Holy Night." I believe it is based on an old masters painting because the gothic arches and the roman scrolls remind me of that look.

"I," said the sheep with curly horn.
"I gave him my wool for a blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn,
I," said the sheep, with curly horn.

From the Christmas carol "The Friendly Beasts."

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7

Ice, ice and more ice...

The ice didn't stick around for long, thank heavens! It was a messy cleanup for Richard. He had to cut the limbs that fell into pieces before he could get it off the screen house. Sadly, the screenhouse will need a new canvas roof.

Here's a picture of the grass standing up tall and iced over. Amazing. It makes this crunchy sound when its walked on.

Flint's little feet don't have hair between the paws like Echo's do. Also, with his cruciate ligament torn he has difficulty keeping his balance. So I put baby socks on his feet and secured them with my hair bands. He had better traction than Echo and I did. We slipped and slid down the hill and he trotted to Mom's without a problem. I have to be careful to take them off right away, like wet mittens, they will freeze to his feet if the temperature drops.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Littlest Nativity...

My tiniest Nativity was bought once again by the girls. It is carved from soapstone by artisans somewhere in Bangledesh, I think. It might be different country. It didn't come with any source listed like most of mine do.

This is not all one piece - the figures are a different color soapstone than the stable.

"Unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord."

The ice storm cometh...

The ice storm hit last night. Today we went out to look at everything...all was well until the wind started blowing.

I took this picture because I thought it looked a little dangerous...

And five minutes later we heard the first branch go down...thirty minutes after that the second one fell.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A lovely Nativity...

Richard spent the day putting in the closet rods. He also built a shelf over the rods for us to tuck away things we don't use too often.

I unpacked boxes. I found the Christmas china and plenty of other kitchen things to put away. Most of it went into the china hutch since I don't technically have a kitchen yet. Richard repaired the door that was broken on the hutch, too.

I also rearranged my sewing room to what I believe will be the best configuration for quilting and writing. And daydreaming by looking out the window. My computer desk is right in front of one now. I stored more fabric in one of the baskets but will have to move it later. I still need to find the other baskets.

We also dragged in the Christmas boxes and put the tree up. I fiddled with the lights until I had 3 working strands. We are slowly putting ornaments on. Richard and I have a lot of nostalgic decorations from our various travels. For the last ten years or so the girls have decorated the tree. It is strange for us to once again be doing it all by ourselves. I also put the garland and poinsettia lights on the entertainment center which will serve as my "mantel" this year. Everything looks lovely.

This is a Nativity that my daughter Jenny bought for me. It is made entirely of mother-of-pearl. This Nativity is slightly larger than the palm of my hand.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Common Ground...

Today we went in to our small town for a day of beauty and relaxation. Mom got a pedicure, manicure and facial and I got a massage. Afterwards the salon ladies told us once again about a little restaurant down the road called Common Ground. It is an organic/herbal place with excellent food.

So we decided to go.

The building is renovated with many rustic highlights - lots of old barn wood, scraps of unusual trees, and home crafted seating and tables. All the wood was polished to show its natural glow. Except for rounding and sanding rough edges, the tables and benches were slabs of wood in whatever shape they were born in. The seats and the dividers between were old stable and barn wood. The lights hanging over each table were bushel apple baskets turned upside down. A lot of thought went into making it aesthetically pleasing in an old, old Renaissance tavern-like atmosphere.

All the fresh food is grown on a commune farm nearby. The rest is ordered from organic growers around the country.

Common Ground is owned by the commune members who live and adher as closely to the Bible as they can. Their name comes from a passage in Acts about Christians seeking a common ground for peace.

I spoke with our waiter (who, like the others is a volunteer) and he was glad to share his way of life and ministry with us. He told us of their peaceful approach to work with their hands and live a quiet life. He knew every grass that goes into the animals' bodies, and they grow food as organically as they can. Several members have outside jobs to supplement the farm, but they eat well he said. Considering the food I was eating I can see why. The cook was fantastic.

I ended up buying some of the special tea he served us (Yerba Mate) and a 50 pound sack of organic whole wheat flour. I also brought Richard one of their excellent sandwiches. He declared he had a new favorite restaurant!

I plan to visit often and I hope to go see the farm one day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My dogs, Christmas and Nativities...

Today we started hauling boxes into the house. Most of the furniture is in here, a little dusty and worse for wear. Now we have to empty the boxes. In the old days opening boxes was like Christmas - the anticipation of being surrounded by my things was fun. Now its a little tedious. We packed in two stages this last time selecting some things to go in storage while the house was for sale in Texas. Because I was in a rush I didn't bother with some labeling. Its disconcerting to open a box expecting dishes and find plant stands instead!

After lunch I decided I was taking a nap! Naturally Flint and Echo have to take one with me. The lump on the other side of the dogs is me. Echo slung her foot over Flint's neck so Richard took a picture!

And since this is the Christmas season and my favorite holiday, I'll be sharing some of our traditions.

One of my hobbies is collecting Nativities from around the world. I've decided to share pictures of some of the ones I own. I know they aren't true representations of how Jesus came into this world, they're simply cultural interpretations. Regardless, I see Christ's birth as a celebration and if our representation isn't perfect at least our hearts don't deny the event. So I collect Nativities. I leave some around the house all year and others only come out at Christmas. My goal is to one day have them on display year around.

My friends have taken to finding unusual representations for me. One year I was ranting to Bun-Chu (my daughters' college roommate and one of my "adopted" daughters)how the Nativities always have the shepherd but never the flock! Usually only one or two sheep are in the Nativities. Luke 2:8 says that shepherds were watching their flocks - and a flock is way more than two!

Bun-Chu makes little tiny dolls out of felt, beads and other things. Each year for Christmas she gave me pieces to the Nativity she was making for me. The first year I received the Holy Family, the stable and the manger. Each new year, she added one component to my Nativity. The wisemen, the camels, the animals. In 2004, she gave me the last of the Nativity. I opened the box to find one hundred sheep. Ninety-nine were white sheep. One was black. Here is the entire Nativity. The black sheep is just in front of the camel too the right on the lower shelf.

I am praying as I find the Christmas boxes that my sheep are unharmed.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stormy Weather...

We woke up early to the threat of thunder, lightening and rain. Richard went out to burn the boxes I'd unpacked yesterday. I meandered out to watch him work. He was concerned when the wind picked up and started blowing bits of fire around so he got a bucket of water and put the fire out.

I watched the wind move across the property from one side to the other. The oak trees started waving gently and the leaves fluttered and dropped in the wind. Richard called me over to look at the clouds above the house. They were piling up on one another so fast! I rushed in to get the camera.

I think its a great shot!

Almost as soon as I snapped the picture the rain started in earnest and we ran into the house to watch it through the windows.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good Day and Bad Thing...

On Friday, Richard accompanied Flint, Echo and myself on our morning walk. As usual, at the top of the hill I turned and began a slow jog back down. The dogs followed with Echo outpacing us easily. I looked over at Flint just as he stumbled, righted himself and began running again...on three legs. I thought he got a rock or splinter in his left rear leg. When we got home I cleaned his paw real well but didn't find anything. Bruised muscle, I thought.

That evening he was still limping, so I gave him one of the arthritis pain meds the vet had prescribed. We watched him all day Saturday but he didn't seem in pain. Sunday he was putting weight on the foot. On Monday we headed to the big city with my parents. That evening when we came home, Flint was once again not using the leg at all.

Yesterday we went to the vet.

Flint has torn his cruciate ligament. The vet gave us a higher dose of pain/anti-inflammatory meds, and suggested a two week wait for the joint and muscle to "settle down." After that will be an evaluation and possible surgery to correct the problem. 10% of cruciate tears heal themselves. The other 90% require surgery.

The vet, in manipulating the entire leg without Flint acting like there was pain, made an interesting comment. He said that it is possible that Flint's dysplasia may have been a partially damaged ligament and that Flint's little jog simply ripped it the rest of the way. If Flint goes in for surgery in two weeks, the vet will take X-rays to determine if this is true. I will be extremely relieved if this is means my dog has a lot more healthy years without hip joint worries.

I couldn't capture the sunset the other day, but today, when I took Echo out for our walk/run I managed to get shots of another perfect sunrise. Its so nice to see God's handiwork!

The color of the sky, the bronze/pink/golden clouds, the whisper of the road between the trees...a perfect shot that makes me rejoice that "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world."

The shot of the daytime moon between the branches of a big pine tree was just too perfect to miss.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy...

Richard and I have been so busy with the house! It seems we slipped into fall without hardly knowing it. Leaf colors on the lake were very pretty but each time we headed to town I forgot a camera. Actually, leaf color everywhere was nice. Here's a shot from the front porch towards the road.

Echo, Flint and I have been walking up the road every morning, about a quarter of a mile. We see the school bus driver most days. I'm working hard to keep Flint much slimmer this winter because the dysplasia is aggravated by weight. I've been making both dogs run all the way home. I'm hoping our little sprint will help me drop some pounds, too. LOL

Today we got to the top of the hill and the most perfect sunrise was coming up. The sky was blushed pink at the horizon and the sun was a big orange/red/pink ball. Just above it was a jet vapor trail tinged the same colors. The tree limbs were hanging just right below. I rushed home to get the camera and drove back up the hill to take the shot and by the time I got there, the perfect sunrise was gone...

I always thought Ansel Adams was a little arrogant because he and his assistant sometimes spent hours setting up a photo shoot and then often, AA wouldn't even take the picture because it wasn't "perfect." Now I know what he meant. The play of light and color in a given landscape only lasts seconds sometimes. Sigh. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flint & Echo's Halloween!

Happy All Hallows Eve!

Flint insisted that this year he wanted to be big. He wanted to be debonair. He wanted to be dangerous! He wanted to be Bond, James Bond.

Echo thought about Flint's request and decided that she wanted to be sweet. She wanted to be good. She wanted to be cute. She wanted to be an angel!

My dogs. They have minds of their own.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas Gifts...

If you're looking for Christmas gifts for the readers on your list...My two books are still available as e-books in several formats and as print copies.

"A heartwarming Christmas tale of kindness and spiritual discovery."


If Dea Lacey can find sanctuary she might live in peace. But will the family homestead be the place, or will it bring more turmoil to her and the boy she's taken as her own son? Jesse McTavish struggles with the fact that life continues even when love is lost. When Dea presents him with his son, his first reaction is to shut himself off from more grief. Can he let this boy into his heart?

Click to order: HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Friday, October 26, 2007

In the fields...

We've taken to walking after dinner with the parents. Usually, we walk to the bridge and hang out there looking for beaver on the creek, but occasionally we stray down other roads. The Mt. Olive Church road beckoned and we headed that way. Off to the left is a U.S Army Corps land pasture which is leased to farmers to take hay. We wandered along side for a while and then went into the pasture to look for the cave in the hillside. Naturally, we had to play on the haybales. (grin)

Yes, it was that cold, to me! About 45 degrees, I think. The dogs were disconcerted that I was way up there and went all around the bale looking for a way to jump up to be with me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ARRRRRRGH! Another snake!

We were walking up to Mom and Pa's for dinner and there in the road was a dead baby ringneck snake! It was black with an yellow/orange ring around the base of its head. EWWWWWWWW!

Echo and Flint are enjoying the daily morning walk up the road. I try to do it most mornings because Echo is so energetic she needs to work out the kinks and Flint needs the exercise to keep his joints from locking up. We walk up a slight incline which he does slowly, but he usually runs/trots ont he way back because we're going downhill. Whatever, its still good for him.

And on another note - this picture says it all...while Richard and I slaved at tiling the laundry room Echo and Flint sat in the chairs in the living room and watched TV!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Another SNAKE!!!!

Richard and I were working in the house (or at least, he was. I may have just been talking). Anyway, he asked if I could make him some lunch. I came in and made him a sandwich and some chips. I opened the door of the 'Stream to go out and there below the steps was ANOTHER SNAKE!

At that point, aside from the snake, the ground was now littered with Fritos corn chips. I screamed, it slithered and chips flew everywhere.

This one was a Western ribbon snake - black with 3 yellow vertical stripes running down its body. It was about 4 feet long and the width of a cafe curtain rod.

So I holler "SNAKE!" and Richard comes running. He chased it away...right around the corner of the 'Stream and UNDER it! ACK! He took the flashlight and looked for it under there, but its gone. I told him the snake is probably sitting in a wheel-well which every smart mouse has already figured out is an excellent entrance to the food in here...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Butterflies are free...

I'm pretty sure its a meadow fritillary...apparently butterflies have a couple broods a year, some nesting until late October!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My book...

In my family, Christmas is a special time of year. For my extended family I wrote this short story about one of my daughter Jennifer's escapades. The story is now in print! To buy a copy, go here:

Enjoy reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Richard and I are still eating dinner at Mom and Pa's because we don't yet have a fully functional kitchen. When we walk down there we usually take the dogs. Echo and Flint hang out in the fenced yard Pa made for them. It surrounds the house and encompasses the underside of the deck. On hot days the dogs hang out under the deck. Otherwise they have free run of the yard.

On nice days we generally eat on the deck. Yesterday was no exception. Any leavings from the meals are tossed over the fence to where the squirrels and raccoons gather in the late evening to feed.

So after dinner Pa tossed the corn cobs over the fence. Only he missed with one.

We were chatting about religion, death, politics and taxes when we heard this crunching noise.

Flint had found a corncob and was busily gnawing the leftover kernels off.

My dog. The nutjob.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Insect life around the homestead...

A stickbug was wandering around on the garage door. This is one of the largest I've ever seen.

The butterflies are still hanging around but the population is decreasing. Richard found this one on the side of the house.

Polygonia interrogationis or The Question Mark butterfly. Apparently on the underside of the hindwing is a small silver question mark, hence the name.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A lot of people have asked me how I zipped through menopause virtually unscathed by any side effects. Well, about 8 years ago, a doctor told me I was in peri-menopause. I'd heard the horror stories. So I decided that since I was entering that state I'd do it as gracefully as possible. I didn't want the body tenderness, the bloating, the moodswings and the hot flashes. I began experimenting with all the herbal remedies I found from various Internet boards and my own herbal books. I tried Dong Quoi, Vitamin E, various "estro" vitamins, senior citizen vitamins, etc. Some things would get rid of a symptom or two, but none of them got rid of all of them. I kept experimenting for about 2 years before I finally hit on the formula. Every morning, take one each of these vitamins and herbs.

1 "estro" vitamin - Sam's Club sells one, but not all of them carry it. If its not there, get the bottle of senior vitamins - its excellent, too. The price is way less expensive than any drug store. Get the Member's Mark GENERIC. None of the big brand names have all the ingredients needed (unless things have changed).

1 Vitamin E - 1000 mg. Again, Sam's Club sells them pretty cheap.

1 Evening Primrose Oil - 1000mg.

1 Vitamin B-Complex - make sure ALL the B vitamins are present - Sam's Club sells a good one, as does the commissary if you are military.

2 cranberry tablets daily for feminine health

It takes about 3 weeks for ALL the symptoms to disappear. However, I noticed a difference in how I felt by the third day.

You can skip the regimen for up to THREE days but symptoms will return.

DISCLAIMER: Ask your doctor before beginning any vitamin or herbal routine. Check for any drug/herbal interactions at any of various websites and with your pharmacist. Here is a popular website for drug interactions:,4109,,00.html

I am not responsible for any side effects, discomfort or dangers you may encounter by making the decision to follow this regimen without a doctor's and a pharmacisit's recommendation or authorization.

Monday, September 10, 2007


So we took a walk yesterday morning to clean up the rocks in the road. The county grader doesn't do a good job and we needed the exercise anyway. Along the way down Mom spotted a tiny black snake. About 8 inches long and half the width of a pencil. On the way back, we saw another one the same size. This time it was dead, run over by a car.

Richard and I had shopping to do so we went off to do it. Mom asked me to pick up some Murphy's Oil Soap for her. When I came home I walked to her house. When I got to the private road between our properties Echo bounced a deer. I yelled at Echo to stop and she skidded to a halt. I was watching the deer because it had stopped, too. It was staring back to see if we would chase it.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Echo start to edge around me. She swung in a wide arc and ended up in front and to my left. I snapped my head around to give her The Look (Which usually stops dogs, kids and husbands in their tracks).

Right below my foot as I was stepping forward was ANOTHER snake. Only this wasn't a black snake. This was the size of a pencil, but about 15 inches long...and THIS was a baby copperhead.

I stepped back and watched the snake. Echo stood in front watching me. The deer stood close to the forest watching both of us.

Being a singer has its advantages. I filled my lungs with air, pushed up my diaphragm and let loose with a nice, healthy holler. "DAD!" I screamed. I could hear his music blasting out of the garage and I was afraid he wouldn't hear me. So I screamed again. He yelled back "What?" I hollered back "COPPERHEAD!" There was this long moment of silence. Then, "I'll get a shovel."

He came up to the road and as he planted the shovel, the thing moved TOWARDS him and under his boot! He stepped back, planted the shovel again and the snake coiled and struck the shovel. Typical copperhead behavior - they are aggressive. Pa killed it with the shovel blade.

In the entire time I've lived here a year and half or so...I've seen one snake. IT was a black snake, too. It was standing between Echo's legs about two weeks ago too terrified to move. Echo had no clue it was there.

To see THREE snakes in one day is a little disconcerting. Copperheads normally have 5-10 live young in their second nesting season August to October. I shall be wearing my boots from now on.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Go, Go, Go...

I've been very busy since I got back from Houston.

We've had to hunt all over for bathroom fixtures, get paint and many other small things for the house construction.

Mom and Pa took a break from all the running around and wandered to the bridge one afternoon to check the sights. This skunk was on the side of the road. Notice his nearly white back? His head and feet are black but the rest of his body is white. Mom was able to get some good shots with Pa's new camera. This is the best one.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


The chair, which is faded, worn and torn in places, is about 25 years old. I had decided to get rid of them when Echo claimed one as her own. Flint claimed the other one. Since I didn't want my good furniture in the house until we're further along with building, the chairs were a natural choice to bring in. Echo immediately claimed hers!

Flint likes laying on the floor and staying cool. Notice my refrigerator in the background. We had the electrician run the wire and receptacle so we could plug it in. The very hot summer meant lots of cool drinks and my little camp fridge was getting overworked trying to keep the liquids cool. Hence, the big fridge came into the house. Its great because we can also store food and snacks in it.

In other news:

I zipped down to Houston to help my daughter and her boyfriend move to another apartment. It was pretty tough work, even though she hired movers to take the big stuff! I lost 7 pounds (much needed weight loss!) and toned up pretty nicely. So I am happy.

The apartment they got is much nicer, in a prettier neighborhood and bigger, too! So they are happier, too.

I took several scenic routes to get there - driving through Arkansas on Highway 71 - who KNEW the state was that pretty? I thought it was only known for those family trees that don't branch and the Hill(ary) Bill(y).

I also made note of the signs - I'm a sucker for imaginative advertising.

On a billboard with directions to a quilt shop: "Scream until your husband stops the car!"

On a church sign: "Pastor told me to change the words on the sign. So I did."

On the curving mountain highway: "Road ahead is steep and curvy, drive carefully." - NO KIDDING! The good news is that EACH curve was marked with plenty of yellow signs and the speed limit you should do as you rounded it. And the scenery! That section of the Ozark Mountains is one of the prettiest places I've ever seen!

And lest we forget - The Joy Juice Liquor Store!

There were resorts in the National Forests there. Some cute names on some of them.

Winding Stair Resort
- sounds pretty! This was also the name of a forest there.

The Last Resort - a misnomer. There were at least three other resorts on either side of it!

Bear Woods - Ummm...if there ARE bears in the woods, not sure I want to stay around for them.

Then there were the eating establishments - Arkansas restauranteurs seem enamored of names with the word "hole" in them.

The Catfish Hole Fine Family Dining - I'll take your word for it.

The Crawdad Hole - No thanks!

On the return trip I came through Oklahoma right up the state line on Highway 259. Very pretty through the Piney Woods of Texas and lower OK. I enjoyed both drives. Not a lot of traffic and some seriously beautiful scenery.

And I didn't take a single picture! I was so busy at the apartment and then wanting to get home, I just forgot!

Along about the time I crossed the state line it was getting dark and I wanted to be home. I dropped the hammer and cruised at 85 mph for a bit, then called husband to tell him I was in the state. He advised slowing down because of the deer-in-the-headlights issue. Sigh. I slowed down. I rolled in at home around 10:30 pm. 15 1/2 hours to return. It only took me 13 1/2 hours to get there! Despite the winding switchback Highway 71, its a shorter route.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Color My World...

Being in the woods means that nature surrounds us. The past few weeks have been butterfly and moth season. They are all over the place! The variety is incredible, too. We've noticed at least 6-10 different kinds flitting around the property.

Actias Luna, a species of Saturniid moths. This Luna moth is one of the rarest seen or collected in North America! Sadly, the poor thing had a broken wing. The next day when we went to see how it was faring it was gone.

I chased this butterfly for 3 days with the camera. Every time I snuck up on one as soon as I clicked the photo the danged thing would flutter off! I had lovely shots of my gravel, my grass, my cedar deck and my dirt...but no butterfly. I went out to take a picture of the new steps and when I returned to put the camera away there it was sitting on the gate. I got that sucker this time!

This is a Red-Spotted Purple Or White Admiral Butterfly. The designation of "OR" is because the White Spotted Admirals and the Purple Spotted Admirals will hybridize when they are found together and the "new" butterfly has characteristics of both parents! This one is definitely a hybrid as I've not found photos on the 'Net of any looking exactly like it. It has one more red spot on each forewing than the pictures I've found. Its blue/green hindwing also is very irridescent. (I have no idea if I spelled that right and I've got other things to do so I'm not looking it up. Just call me ignorant and be done with it).

Flint is normally a white dog. Not cream, not tan, white. In the heat he went and rolled in the dry, dusty dirt and Richard was so surprised that Flint was now BROWN that he took this picture. I brushed him out later and my white dog came back.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Coming home...

Mine and Richard's next car...NOT!

All I could think of was the line in the song, "CONVOY" - "a bunch of friends of Jesus in a chartruese mini-bus..."

And on the back window of this little gem it said "Soul Of Jesus Savior" and something else I wasn't able to get close enough to read (tourists were all around it). The driver was wearing bib-overalls with no shirt, had long curly blond hair and a red kerchief hanging out his back pocket. He carried a straw hat in one hand. He ignored everyone at the rest stop as if we weren't there. My take was that he was free as a bird and enjoyed flaunting it. Some of the other comments I heard from fellow travelers were not as discerning and a couple people shied away as if the machine had leprosy. Only God knows for sure.

Vacation in Washington DC...

So, off we went to Washington DC and various relatives and friends there.

This is me and Darlene discussing the issues (grin) at my daughter's place. Darlene is my best friend from Mississippi. I've moved a number of times and have a best friend from almost every place I ever lived. Multiple best friends are a bonus - they live all over and I can visit just about any direction and run into one!

This is my favorite cousin, Eileen, with me. Again, I have multiple favorite cousins all over, too. Keeps the peace in the family! LOL

We decided we had to do the usual thing in DC - visit the Smithsonian...and the Aerospace Museum is always on our list of fun things to do there. Richard played with his camera and took photos of the various planes, rockets and space ships.

Part of the Aerospace Museum has been commandeered by the Museum of American History while it is undergoing renovations. The museum staff selected several famous exhibits to place in this new small space. One was the signpost from the television series "MASH." I lvoed the show so had my picture taken by it.

Our real goal was to go see the new Museum Of History Of Native Americans. This dance dress was one of the featured displays. Although the museum was very interesting we didn't enjoy it as much as we had hoped. The bottom two floors were a museum store - and many of the items were made in China or by non-Native artists. There was some new jewelry by Native artists which I loved. However, nowhere in the museum was a display of any of the wonderful silver/turquoise/shell/stone jewelry of times gone by. There was a restaurant on the bottom floor, too. It sold food that the Native Americans used for cooking. That was pretty unique and the food was good.

The remaining two floors had some displays but a lot of them were on an interactive television wherein you touched the screen and it would show a picture of what was on display in drawers locked below the displays. If I wanted to see TV I'd have stayed home and watched the specials on PBS and the History Channels.

My other issue was that about half the displays were about South American Natives...and except for a reference concerning kinship, one of the largest tribes in America was pretty much under-represented - the Navajo. There was no active display of anything Navajo that we could find. Also - Zuni, Hopi and the Cherokee had little or no representation. The only Cherokee with a small display concerned the North Carolina survivors. No mention of the Oklahoma Cherokee at all. A lot of Native American history - the Five Civilized Tribes, The Trail Of Tears, the famous men and women (where were Sarah Winnemucca and Elaine Miles?) weren't mentioned or represented at all.

That said - It was interesting to see the various tribes represented. Just wish there'd been more representation from our United States of America tribes.

And of course, outside the Smithsonian...Richard calls this the "VOTE FOR MERRY STAHEL FOR PRESIDENT!" picture. All you know what to do. LOL

Vacation with Todd

We decided we needed a break from housebuilding so we took off for a vacation. We had three goals. Richard, Mom, Pa and I went to visit my baby brother in Ohio. Then the parents went on to meet some friends from West Virginia to camp. Richard and I continued our journey to visit our oldest daughter in Maryland.

Here are some photos of the week we spent with Todd...

The first night out we camped at Leiber State Park in Indiana. There was a federal property nearby where people could picnic so we went to check out the waterfall and the old covered bridge there. VERY PRETTY place.

When we got to Todd's, he was so proud of his new custom bike that he wanted to show it off. I, being the intrepid soul that I am, insisted on being taken for a ride. And hey! When a body is riding a custom chopper, one MUST have a do-rag of one's own, dangit! We had a blast going around the block! Not something I could do every day, but sure was fun.

Todd, me, the bike and my do-rag. Note the granny eyeglass necklace (yes, I lose my sunglasses all the time, its the only way to keep them safe!).

Todd took us to the Botanical gardens which were lovely. They had a whole room dedicated to bonsai. This willow tree is about 25 years old. They had one tree in there over 100 years old!

While at the Gardens, they released a new crop of butterflies in the sanctuary. We chased all over taking pictures of various ones. Richard took this stunning shot with his new digital camera.

Todd also took us to the Motorcycle Museum. It was pretty interesting although the museum really focuses on Moto-Cross. Still, there were some pretty interesting and unusual bikes in the place. I believe this one is an Indian.

And I got to see my best friend from Guam, ElizaBeth. We had a great time with them catching up on our families and all the passing years' events.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Driving around...

We like to drive around and get to know our new home. Someone at one of the shops told us the Swinging Bridge was now open to foot traffic. Mom and Pa have lived in this area 7 years and this is the first they've been able to check it out. So we all went together.

That round building off in the distance on the cliff is the Truman Dam Visitors Center. The water is an arm of Lake Of The Ozarks.

Mom and Pa wander across the swinging bridge. This bridge used to be the only one across to Warsaw and CARS drove on it! They closed it to cars sometime in the 1960s. Its only recently been repaired and able to handle the tourists walking across to the other side.

I stood on the side and told Richard I was going to jump! Jumping on the bridge makes it swing. Pa and I tried to get it to really sway, but we could only get it to move a little. We need more volunteers. (grin).