Friday, October 29, 2010

Playing Around

I've been playing around with the Blogger Design templates this evening and rather like this one. The colors are to my liking; I am, at heart, an "earth-toned" person.  Besides, I like this particular header background; it seems appropriate now that the ducks and geese are arriving in our area.

It's easier to make changes to the template than I realized and, as fickle as I am, this may not be the last change. 

I would welcome your comments and opinions of the newly selected design.

Other Stuff

I've been a busy bee. It's time for another rubber stamping group activity sponsored by myself and my stamping partner.  In a week's time, 22 ladies will meet to make four cards each of six separate Christmas designs.  I'm responsible for preparing the materials, sample cards and instructions for three of the designs; my partner will do the same for the other three.  My card designs required that I cut almost 900 separate pieces of card stock, plus 88 pieces of ribbon.  The designing and cutting are done, thank goodness; all that remains is to assemble the pieces for four of each card and put them in "baggies" for distribution to the participants. 

In other stamping activities, I made a fancy-dancy 50th wedding anniverary card (much, much more complicated than my usual designs) for my sister and her husband in Virginia. I putzed around with it for almost 2-1/2 hours trying to make it look like I had envisioned.  I hope they like it; I'm not likely to make another one of the same sort for some time -- if ever.

Also, I'm trying to design a variety of masculine "Thinking of You" cards. My grandson "M" shipped out last week to boot camp at the United States Coast Guard training center in Cape May, NJ.  I think he needs mail from his grandmother every week.  He is 19, is Gardening Daughter's only male child, and bears part of my name.  No, he's not a boy named "Sue." His middle name and mine are the same -- Allen.

[My mother had already decided what my first name would be, if I were a female child, (which I was) but was struggling to find a middle name that she liked for her first born.  She was so relieved to be delivered of me after 48 hours of labor that she chose the last name of her attending physician (Dr. George W. Allen) for my middle name.  It's caused all sorts of confusion over the years, especially among government officials who think the "Allen" in my name is my maiden name. I often have to pull out my birth certificate to assure them that it's part of my given name.]

We haven't heard from "M" except for the obligatory form letter letting us know that he arrived and giving us his mailing address.  I hope we have a newsy letter from him soon; I'm anxious to know how things are going.   The only advice I gave him before he left was to eat the food that was set before him when it was set before him. I suspect that he'll need all the energy he can get. He's tall and very slender and could use a few pounds on his frame.

It's finally turned "chilly." I had to turn on the furnace for a while this morning. When I awoke, the temperature inside the house was below 60 degrees. That's too cold for me and the cats.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, wherever you are.

Friday, October 15, 2010

These Boots Were Made For *

I have a lovely next door neighbor, the one I've mentioned before who was so kind to feed me during my illness earlier this year. She and I visited across the fence the day I was going to work in the back yard (yesterday's post). She expressed concern that I was wearing sandals because she had observed several snakes in her back yard, and had killed one she described as a "ground rattler" on her patio. I eased her mind by assuring her that I would dig out and don my snake-resistant "rubber boots" before beginning my tasks.  I'm happy to say I didn't observe any snakes anywhere in my yard, but there are some unmowed areas where they might be lurking.  I suppose it doesn't hurt anything to be cautious.

 My person, as seen by a charitable observer, would be described as "matronly." I'm well padded from my shoulders to my knees, but that's where the padding stops. I still have trim calves and ankles (I think), and long and extremely narrow feet.   Both my father and mother had very slender feet and, evidently, I  inherited a double dose of  genes which resulted in my having "spaghetti feet." I've never in my whole life had a pair of shoes that really, truly fit.

I used to dream of running away to Italy and ordering ten pairs of custom-made shoes, a luxury which has been denied me, so far, and with no prospects of it happening in my lifetime.  I make do with what I can find, locally and on the Internet, but even a 4-A (slim-slim) shoe is still far too wide. I must have been behind the door when God passed out size 7-B feet. 

Gardening Daughter also has skinny feet, but not quite so narrow as mine.  When I was responsible for keeping her shod, it was quite a challenge to find shoes for her that came anywhere close to being a good fit. My other two daughters can buy shoes almost anywhere, as their feet are "normal."  I'm jealous.

As you might imagine, my boots don't fit my feet, either. I have to wear three pairs of socks just to keep them from falling off.

*someone with wider feet

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Even More Stuff and Junk

I was able to work in my yard for several hours last week, a sorely-needed task. The front yard, which I had mowed the week before, was still in pretty good condition, relatively speaking (it has its problems.)  Other than a light shower earlier this week, it hasn't rained for quite a while, and it's the time of year when grass slows its growth, anyway.

The back yard was another matter. I could have fed several head of livestock back there.  I've often thought that city living has its drawbacks, since a nice nanny goat would be of great assistance in keeping the area trimmed down.  It took two sessions, with resting between, to get it all trimmed and mowed, but it looks much better.  I noticed that in areas where the grass/weeds don't grow, the earth was like dust. When I finished mowing I got out the sprinkler and ran it in several areas long enough to put down at least a half-inch of water.  I hope my plants appreciate the impact that's going to have on my water bill.

Until the last few days or so, the hummingbird feeder in the back yard had been taken over by honey bees, which swarmed the openings in great numbers, several hundred at a time. They would completely drain the reservoir in a few hours. I was able to observe them closely without fear of attack; they were too busy feeding to pay me much attention. 

I don't mind feeding the bees; the hummingbirds that had been visiting have fled for more southern climes. I don't know why they "wussed" out after a few days of low temperatures in the high 30 degree range; if they'd waited a few days they could have experienced record-setting high temperatures for October -- eight or nine days in a row in which the high temperatures were in the 90's.  So much for Fall!

Due to lack of rainfall, there's not much color in the neighborhood trees.  There is a red-leafed dogwood a couple of doors down, but you can see from the photo above that the foliage has been stressed.  My own poor Japanese Maple is so tatty-looking, with brown, curled up leaf edges, that I haven't bothered to take any photos.  I've watered it many times over the summer, but the leaves have still suffered heat-shock.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Real Things of Beauty

Rose Bouquet

Gardening Daughter (GD), as you might imagine from my previous mentions of her, is a lover of flowers.  She has taken a part time job, which she enjoys very much, with a small local florist.  Her boss was invited to attend a seminar sponsored by the largest wholesale florist in our county, and she, in turn, invited GD to attend with her. 

My daughter enjoyed the seminar, which lasted almost a whole day, and was very interested in the presentation of one of the featured demonstrators, a commercial rose grower from Ecuador who is trying to create a market here in Arkansas.

GD was quite taken with the Ecuadorian roses, a generous quantity of which she was able to bring home.  She brought me the arrangement pictured above, which is no more than a bunch of roses in a vase; nothing more was needed, in my opinion.

The grower maintains 10 hectares (almost 25 acres) of greenhouses in which nothing is grown but roses.  What a heavenly place that must be.  I can only imagine what it must look like when the roses start to bloom.

One of the roses (a separate photo below) is the largest I have ever seen.  It does not have quite as much "rose" fragrance as the smaller ones (which are not "small" except compared to this one), but it is remarkable for its size.  I wonder how many of these beauties grown on one plant?  I placed my gnarly hand to the side of the blossom to show relative size.  A huge flower, is it not?

The red roses are particularly beautiful. There must be hundreds of petals in each bloom; I've never before seen a rose with so many. Photo below.  Observe how the petals swirl.

I've had the bouquet for an entire week and all the flowers save one are in excellent condition.  The huge rose has opened up even more, and while it's not as beautiful as it was the day it arrived, it is still lovely -- hasn't shed a single petal.

Amazingly, although the cats have been very interested in the flowers, they haven't taken any actions which would damage the flowers.  That's not always the case; I've had several bouquets in the past that have been picked apart in a few days, despite much scolding.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend.