Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Difference a Day Can Make

My friend Becky mentioned several months ago that we should enjoy another plant shopping trip to Wichita this spring.  Several weeks ago, we decided on today. .April 30.  Even though we drew the short straw and got to take Camille with us. .we had a GREAT day!! We did a lot of shopping!! And both found some new plants for our water features. 
I also found out this week that our carpenter would be arriving to work this weekend.  Happened to be that he started today. 
So THIS is what my bathroom looked like this morning when I left. . 
Pretty naked!! 
And when we got home this evening. .a few things had changed!! 
Including the location of the light switch. .which now sits on the floor next to the toilet hole. EWWW. 
Some extra large holes in the wall. .to accomodate the new one piece shower unit! 
If you look cleeeeeaaaaarrr to the back of the photo. .you may notice the chair I am currently sitting at as I type on my computer! 
Leisurely soak. .anyone. . .Anyone??? 
A lot of house guts are ready for a dump. .mmmm. .no pun intended there! 
Too bad I didn't pick up another can of Pledge in Target today. .
I think I'm gonna need it!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh, My Achin' Back

  We had a superb Easter weekend.  Wonderful weather. .lots of activities. .great food. .family fun. .and joyous church services!! The kids are getting too fast for me to get pictures at the egg hunt!! Cami (who doesn't have a shy bone in her body) decided that she was too shy to hunt eggs Saturday.  She finally got going and I got a picture or two before she was done. .and by then. .
Devin had all the loot out of the eggs he found. .so the only photos I got of him. .was with his loot. .which included $7 in gold coins and a kite! Great huntin'.
Easter egg coloring was a family affair this year. .even dad got in on the action.  We made tie-dyed eggs.. which were pretty. .but very messy!
We turned those eggs into Bacon and egg sandwiches for supper tonight. .only half the batch left to eat now!
How sweet is this!! Aside from a family dinner Sunday evening, and church from sunrise until lunchtime. .I had a lot of garden time! 
I worked on cleaning out the greenhouse. .I've plugged in all the marigold and zinnia plants.  I started several packets a month ago or so. .I have better luck with spacing and germination when I can control stuff. .like the weather!  Probably 40-50 plants of each.  I also planted some mammoth sunflower seeds last night when I thought it really might rain on them (it did. .finally. .1/2 inch last night. .the first real moisture in months!) Today, as Cami napped, I hauled 4 wheelbarrow loads full of my own composted material to the waterfall.  I haven't been totally happy with the way the fast falls resevoir has looked after installation.  Thankfully, I had several large rocks that needed relocating. .so I shoveled on the dirt. .and added rock for retaining the soil. .to make the soil line even with the water fall.  I added a few more rocks to make a couple stair step planting areas on the way back down toward the pond.  NOW, it looks like it has always been there!! You'll note in the top photo, that you can still see a bit of the plastic. .but I am hoping to pick up a flat rock in Wichita this weekend, foam the underside of it, and have the water come over the top of the stone.  We'll see how it works out!  I will love the new planting area. .and so will the earth there. .it has been terrible soil, and rock hard. I transplanted some of the zinnia plants to grow in the compost enriched soil.  And hope to add a few short grasses to it to add some winter interest.   
The miniature hostas planted last fall are coming up, as well as the toad lily. This small garden sits beneath the large elm tree on the east side of the pond.  I left black plastic at the bottom of the bed, and added soil to the top. .I did poke a few holes for a little drainage.  I am hoping that this method will keep the soil moister for the hostas. .without rotting them. Can you spell. .experiment?? 
LOTS of mulch has been dumped on!! I've hauled home 40 bags. .and think I might still be a little short. I can't believe the difference in the soil where the old mulch has been deteriorating over the last few years. It really doesn't take much mulch to put around on the existing beds. .it's the new areas that I keep digging up that are consuming the most mulch! The line of grasses along the sidewalk are blue fescue.  I also ordered a number of native wildflowers from High Country Gardens which were planted along the pond and sidewalk and within the bed shown above.  They are doing well, and I can hardly wait to see what they will do!
We've been working REALLY hard to get some grass to come up where the dirtwork was done following the sidewalk endeavor. .as well as the HUGE stump he pushed out of the ground.  It's been terribly hot, dry, and windy here for several weeks. .until the last few days. Finally some grass is sprouting!
Things are starting to bloom here!! The white spirea bushes in the first picture are beautiful! I transplanted all three of them from the rows of spirea that my mother in law encloses her yard with.  We snagged 3 small ones and you couldn't even tell where they were removed from. .but they make a nice impact on my yard! The pinks are blooming. .this one is firewitch. .in its second blooming season. I love the bright pink next to the bluish foliage! I cut a few to put in a vase with some blue flax for dinner last evening. Lovely! By the way, it's xeric!! (doesn't need much water. .which is great around western Ks!) 
Here's a new columbine that I had to bring home from Lowes a few weeks ago!! I intended to dig some clumps from a friend, until I read that they don't transplant well.  This will add a punch of bright color to my shady north flower bed of hosta. 
Speaking of punch. .The same trip to Lowes rewarded me with the ability to check off a "wanted" plant from my new notebook.  This is Burning Heart bleeding heart.  It is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!! 
I also moved a couple of succulents out of the greenhouse. My friend Jennifer salvaged them, frostbitten, from the local nursery last fall. She knew I loved plants and brought them to me.  After cutting off the areas that died from the cold, they made a great comeback! I put this one in an old pressure canner that has been taking up space in my yard.  
The varigated one went in an old enamel bucket.  I think they will be happy on the deck! I can't wait to move my houseplants out. .but will have to wait till night time temps warm up just a bit! The veggies are sprouting well!! We have potatos, beets, carrots (a first for us), onions, swiss chard, and cilantro coming up in the garden.  I put out lots of basil plants today (purple and sweet). Grant and I will have to thin the beets out this week. .and the carrots soon too.  It's hard to believe that school will soon be out. .and summer will be in full swing! Wishing everyone a terrific week!! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed to His Father. ."Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours, be done Luke 22:41. He was asking God, His Father to spare his life, praying so earnestly that his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. I can hardly even imagine that, can you??
Today, I'm thankful for Jesus' great sacrifice.
I'm thankful that He has risen from the dead.
I'm thankful that, because of His gift, I will see Him in heaven one day.
And I'm thankful to live in a nation in which I can unashamedly call on His name. .or worship Him as I please!

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast!! For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Halleluiah, Halleluiah
Christ our Savior has risen today!!
Happy Easter everyone!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I LOVE Bah-stan!!

. .Where, instead of "parking the car". .they pawk the caw!!
What a GREAT place!! There wasn't a great opportunity for me to take pictures. .we were in class early and not out much.  The trolley photos were taken through the old dingy plastic sheeting (since it was SO cold out, they left them down).  Mostly, I will ramble a little about the trip between the photos. .so enjoy the pictures. .and skip the rambling if you like. .though I promised to share the heartwarming tale of my praying 8 year old and the new friend. .and I must tell the tale of the crazy shuttle driver!
I'm not a real traveler. .though I LOVE to travel. .I am totally novice. .and not really in the know about lots of travel etiquette.  This was probably my 5th plane adventure.  I love to fly too! And I've mentioned before my tendency to just jump into things and think about it later?! The feeling that I got while walking to the plane Tuesday was "Oh crap. .what have I gotten myself into now???"
As I got off the plane in Boston, picked up my luggage and walked out of the airport. .I was completely overwhelmed at the number of people. .buses. .shuttles. .taxis. .and my lack of knowledge.  I ended up with a delightful taxi driver that gave me much history as he drove me to the hotel. .in a dialect that prevented me from understanding much of what he said!
Devin was SOOO concerned about who I was going to hang out with while I was there.  He asked me several times before I left if I would make a friend while I was there.  I assured him that I would certainly meet some new people, and it would be fine.  The first question he had for me the night I left was whether I had made a friend or not.  Of course, just having gotten there. .and not being in contact with people, I blew him off reporting to him that I had not yet been to class to meet anyone.  He was satisfied with that answer. 
Wednesday found me immersed in lectures all day. .and brain dead by day's end. (the lecturing was intense and fast) I was feeling overwhelmed and tired. .and frustrated that I hadn't met anyone "in depth" enough to eat supper with.  And this is where the story gets neat.  After talking to Jeremy for a few minutes in the middle of his "end-of-day" work responsibilities. .I decided to wander around in the mall area.  As I left the hotel to enter the mall, I noticed a younger woman heading that way too. We made eye contact and smiled at one another and I wondered if I should ask her whether she had been at the conferences (I didn't notice her there. .but there were a lot of people). I realized how utterly ridiculous that would sound. .so I kept quiet and ended up stopping off in the Barnes and Noble for a while. .I suppose killing time while trying to get the gumption to decide whether I wanted to try lobster for one. .or eat at the food court and go home. 
I put my brave face on and headed for the seafood restaurant.  I was able to seat myself in the bar portion of the restaurant. .and walked past a few open seats to find one further in the back.  As I was sitting down at a table. .I looked up and saw the girl from earlier at the table next to me.  The funny thing was that. .from all those people in the mall. .she recognized me from the hallway too and invited me to join her. .
and the rest was history.  She was the type of person that I felt like I had known my whole life! We both enjoyed incredible lobster dinners and talked for well over an hour.  When I called home later and talked to Devin. .His first question was if I had "been to school." Second question was whether I had found a friend.  When I asked Dev if he had been praying for me to meet a friend. .His reply was an emphatic "Yes!." I could sense his quiet satisfaction with the answer to his prayer!! And I was well pleased too! Samantha works in college health as well as women's health in Pennsylvania.  She has a vibrant personality and was so enjoyable to talk with over leisurely meals that 1 1/2 hours slipped by the second day and we were nearly late back to classes from lunch. 
The meals were sensational!! I did try a plain steamed lobster. .as well as a lobster roll (which is like chicken salad. .except with lobsta). .clam chowda. .swordfish. .polenta. .a couscous side dish with fennel. .as well as food from Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs.  I checked a lot of food off my dietary bucket list of things to eat in my lifetime!!
Aside from the long days in the classroom. .we enjoyed a night visit to the top of the Prudential building. .where the Boston night pictures were shot. .an evening strolling around Newbury Street (a high end shopping area full of quaint little boutiques and interesting restaurants). .as well as a trolley tour of the city.  A law was passed in Boston many years ago. .that you could do anything you like to the inside of the tall condo-like buildings. .but you could NOT change anything to the outside. .including the old wooden signs.  Those buildings have been changed into apartments and shops. .and as you walk down the street. .people sit outside on their steps and visit. .I was reminded of Sesame Street several times!! What a fun place to see!
The trolley tour was a narrated historical tour. .and the driver was a great story teller.  I made a vow that I would return to Boston someday to see some of the history at more leisure.  They dropped us off at Quincy Market. .a large indoor/outdoor shopping market with tons of souvenirs and dining. .where we enjoyed dinner and some shopping. 
Saturday found me ready to get home!  Which is how I ended up in my shuttle driver mess.  I had a reservation for a shuttle service to pick me up and return me to the airport.  As I walked out of the hotel a couple minutes early, there was a shuttle already there.  It wasn't until she had my luggage loaded that she said she would take me (even though she wasn't the one scheduled to pick me up) and would call the company in a few minutes to tell them she had me.  She had a very scattered and disorganized demeanor (which I figured out about the time she turned onto the street from the hotel).  She had a GPS monitor hooked up which kept advising her to turn left. .which she never did. .at that point I was getting a little nervous.  About that time my cell rang. .and the shuttle company was on the other end wondering where I was.  Still oblivious to the fact that this was going to be a real problem. .I reported to the dispatcher that one of their shuttles had already picked me up. .Silence. .UH, which shuttle was that???? The driver told me the number of her shuttle and I relayed the info to him. Unhappy tone. .nice reply. .hung up.  Great.  By this time, we were at a different hotel to drop off a couple that had been in the van when I got on.  As the driver closed her door, they started laughing and wished us (another NP was on the van headed to the airport too) luck. .and let us know that we were in for the trip of our lives.  Instant stomach ache on my part! As the driver got back in and pulled from the curb, her phone rang.  Now whether she had it on speaker phone. .or that dispatcher was yelling so loudly that she didn't need speaker phone. .I don't know. .I do know that she was probably relieved from her position later that day.  He chewed her out quite royally and we were all mortified!! The other girl tried to smooth things over and the woman started talking. .all the while her GPS was still saying Turn left. .turn left here. Being polite, I asked her if she had grown up around Boston. .Heck NO. .she was a bus driver from New Hampshire who had just been coming to Boston on the weekends for the last couple months to drive the shuttle for extra cash.  Now I could feel the vomit at the back of my throat!! (I should also probably mention that she had already asked me twice what time my flight was. .and once asked me if I was going to make it there on time. . .W-H-A-T???) I was sure that I would totally miss my flight and be stuck for another day (since it was the last flight back to Wichita Saturday) The last straw was when we passed some famous landmark and she says "Oh good. .I know just how to get to the airport from here. .it will be 5 minutes." I passed out and didn't wake up until she kicked me out on the curb!
Truly. .the whole experience was blessed!! I learned a lot. .and found out that I know a lot (which is always a good thing). The food was to die for. .and I have accumulated a new friend and colleague for life!! Hope you enjoyed the rambling stories. .If you haven't been to Boston. .and the opportunity arises. .jump on it!! You won't be disappointed!! I promise!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reach For the Sky!!

So, I made it home last night LATE!! Apparently, I missed a LOT of wind. .and I was glad.  I have some photos of the city to show you all later this week.  But this post was going to be quicker to wrap up.  I mentioned last week that we had made very little progress on the few projects that we were working on last Sunday.  One of which was a trellis for these two red honeysuckle vines. 
This is about their 4-5 year. I initially intended to weave them through the balusters as far as they would go.  BUT. .it is really hot on this west deck during the summer in the late afternoon and evening hours as the sun sinks and sets. I have been thinking on how to add a trellis to extend up toward the roof  for the last year or so.  A few weeks ago the idea hit me!!
I had a couple of old iron bedframes. .one of which I moved to the front garden to be more of a focus. .
and this one. . .
It's location in the garden just wasn't working out for it's benefit.  Jeremy studied the area last Sunday for a while and decided that putting a metal frame around the headboard and then attaching it would probably work the best.  
He reported that he was planning to work on it when I called him from the Boston airport yesterday afternoon as I was leaving.  A little nervous that I wouldn' be home to supervise. .I was excited to check everything out this morning before church.   
I think it turned out EXCEEDINGLY better than my expectations!! You see the honeysuckle is already tall enough to reach! 
I picked up some of the sagging vines and twined them up so they will continue to scramble upwards. .
and stop taking up my garden soil below!! 
Hoping that soon, we will have a nice shaded sitting spot!! And THEN. .I have the cutest little idea in the back of my curled head. .consisting of some clear plastic hose. .a little galvanized tub. .a spitter and pump. .and some small water plants. .SHHHH! Don't tell him. .I'll have to have his handy self too!! We'll have to see!! The one in the magazine was TOOOO cute! 
In about another week. .this honeysuckle will be bloomin' plentifully!! Maybe that will entice some hummer action!!
Looked like lots of things were getting flower buds!!
This lilac SMELL was absolutely divine!! If you scratch and sniff your monitor. .
just maybe you can catch a little scent too!
Glad you stopped by today!! Come back soon to hear about my adventures in Boston!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hey. .Hey!!

Just making a quick check in.  Thanks to everyone for their prayers for safety! I made it to Boston Tuesday after very uneventful flights.  I learned how to bravely navigate a Taxi service, survived a very lonely first day/night.  I have an endearing story about my 8 year old and his wish and PRAYER for his mom to find a friend!! I will totally share it with you when I get home.  I met a great woman near to may age last night at dinner (where I DID enjoy my first lobster EVER!) The conference is INCREDIBLE!! And I am having a ball. In the meantime, I learned how to use the internet via Tristan's IPOD at the airport. .but it doesn't work in my hotel. .unless I want to pay $10 a day. .which I don't.  This internet access came from the hotel lobby for free. .so I wanted to let everyone know that I'm safe. .and learning. .and having a great time!! Continued prayers for a safe time and great education are appreciated!! Love to all!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Let the Parade of Color Begin

My favorite part of spring is the daily changes. .evidenced in the vegetation. .the animal population. .and even in the humans!! We've had a great weekend of work and discoveries! Jeremy, Grant, and Devin took the new dragsta to the race track Friday night and Saturday. .they had a great time. .and the rest of us did too! Tristan enjoyed hanging out with a buddy and Cami and I did lots of naturing walking. .and enjoyed everything from up close and personal observations of rabbits. .to hunting down the bluebird. .to watching the butterflys play "tag you're it."  We saw our first Monarch Thursday.. and have seen several since then.
I made a list encompassing Fri, Sat, and Sun. .of all the things I wanted to get done. Most of it got checked off. I think my favorite project of the weekend took about 10 minutes.  Grant helped me move my rock bench from the fire pit to pondside.  After a few days I notice it is really enhancing my view out of my front windows.
Cami liked it too. .a relaxing place to rest and watch all of our little goldfish. .who are becoming quite active again. 
We have some blooms. .and love them all. This is a flowering crabapple tree. The trees are still small. .but I can envision the impact of eye candy they will be as they mature!! The blooms are VIBRANT! Indeed, one is dead. .so we will have to replace it next fall (that's our personal preference for planting trees).
These were new to me this fall. .they are anenome (windflowers) They are so low to the ground. I thought they would be taller. .but both places I put them, they are still seen well enough. .Cami is about the only one who can get low enough to determine that they have a nice scent.
The hosta are making appearances.  I have about 6 in the bed north of my house.  I also purchased 3 miniature varieties last fall to put into a bed next to the pond. Those are coming up as well. .I can hardly wait to see what they will look like as they grow.  I put plastic under the soil in the bed to keep it moister. .and then worried all winter that the plants would rot! Saturday morning I worked on the north shade garden. .removing lots of misplaced (by the chief gardener around these parts) Maximillan sunflower. By the time I had shoveled those out, and planted the new red columbine and "burning heart" bleeding heart it was 90 degrees. .and only 10:30 a.m.! Did I mention how hot the weather has been?  YIKES!! With a stiff 45 mph wind. .That's Kansas-style gardening at it's finest!
The purple creeping phlox is scattered around the south side of the house. .and will probably be transplanted somewhere else sooner or later. I have not had good luck with things growing there. .and am in the process of giving up on that spot for a few years. It's HOT, and shaded, and dry. .not a good combo!
I love these darling little grape hyacinths. .they are in the new rock garden between the waterfall and the house. I planted a few succulents there today too. I overwintered some 1/2 price ones in a flat pot in the house.  I saw a cool magazine photo and tried to recreate. .theirs was TOTALLY better. .but mine survived!Some cobweb hen and chicks and a couple other varieties of hen and chicks went into the ground from the pot.
Many of the tulips are blooming now. .though with the wind. .they aren't surviving that well!  I also did a lot of bed cleaning, compost hauling, mulching, weeding, and plant dividing.  Another highlight of the weekend was a plant swap with a coworking gardener friend.  I dug several plants that she didn't have and traded them out for several plants that I didn't have.  I got a number of different colored daylilies. .and the start off an oakleaf hydrangea!! Which fit perfectly in the hole vacated by some Nandina bushes that I moved to a sunnier location Saturday morning.  The bark on Pat's bushes peels and gives a great winter appeal. It's now right outside my bedroom window. .and I can't wait to see how it does! 
I went over some projects with Jeremy today. .none of which worked well for us. .but hopefully in the next few weeks we will have a new trellis made from an old bed frame (when I divulged my vision to him. .the idea for building it from HIS vision has got me really excited! Much better than what I even had planned) and a new path from leftover rock to the greenhouse from the west deck.  I think I left them enough projects to keep them out of trouble this week while I am gone.  Tuesday I fly to Boston for a conference.  I am thrilled because the conference content is AWESOME!! And one of the speakers is the author of a book that I have been using since college!! Unfortunately, I am geographically challenged and a baby to boot. .so the only real sightseeing I will do, will occur on Friday evening from a trolley tour that they have set up for the conference participants.  I will get to glimpse the tourist historical sites that I will hopefully drag my hubby back to one day.  Please pray for my safe travels. .the well being of my children. .and the sanity of my husband!!
Fresh lobster. .Come to Mama!!