Tuesday, June 30, 2009

She's Back!

Well, sort of back. I'm here and there and in and out...

I have rather a lot to report on, actually. I've been given a toy to review, and will do so in a little while. I almost lost my cell phone at Wal-Mart.. but got it back, bwahahha. (that's the story, you'll have to wait for it). I've also accepted a 1000 word challenge from the Omnibabe, with whom I'll be rooming when I go to Blogher in Chicago at the end of July. Yep, Chicago again. Three flights in a 12 month period, and all to Chicago. Go figger.

I've also been looking for some things on sale, and perhaps, that's where I'll start for now.

If you'll read back a bit, you'll see that 'Pup, my dear husband, surprised me with a trip to see some places we'd always wanted to stop to see, but hadn't. And, that he'd indulgently allowed me to fill up the van with plants put in places you'd not think plants would fit. Such a gift! I think it's one of the nicest I've ever gotten.

So, now, HIS birthday is coming up in August. I need something he'd like, and I might have found it. After Ike hit us, 'Pup is even more determined that we'll not suffer through an extended power outage such as we had after that storm. We're buying batteries. We'd like to be buying a generator, and, truth told, that's not out of the question...however, baring that purchase, I think he'd like this multi use radio, solar powered lantern/phone recharger.

We had several flashlights and radio combinations that worked as you wound them up, and they helped light the darkness quite nicely. I know 'Pup wants one of the weather radios, because he's been lingering by them whenever we pass one. He's always been aware of bad weather, more so than I am.

By "aware", I mean that once he woke me up out of a deep sleep to tell me that our power might go out because there was a thunderstorm on the way, so if I woke up and it was dark, I shouldn't be too worried.

I turned over and went back to sleep.

I must have snored a little because I got a poke in the back that woke me up.

"Oh, you're awake!" said he.

I just blinked at him and thought about what to say that wouldn't be too....truly indicative...of how I felt at just that moment. I'm grumpy when someone doesn't let me sleep.

'Pup has learned that by now, and instead of waking me up when he is next to me, he'll now try to talk to me at 4:30 am from across the room or just inside the doorway. Problem is, I answer back sometimes, but have no real memory of what I said or agreed to do. All I remember is feeling a bit grumpy that my sleep had been interrupted.

Sometimes, he sends the dogs to wake me up. I won't threaten them. He takes advantage of that fact.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. His birthday present. I think I'll get him one of those radios.

Turning the crank should keep him busy long enough for me to get some sleep.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hiatus

I've been a baaaad blogger. No post for two fricken' weeks? That's a record for me, and one I hope never to break.

What can I say, between starting the summer work hours at the tutoring center and the extreme heat (ya'll.. 10 days at or above 100 degrees F!), just kinda sapped the words out of me.

Not that starting Facebook and Plurk helped any....

There needs to be a 12 step program for Farm Town. I'm addicted.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Birthday Present

It is a wise man that buys his wife flowers. It is a wise husband of a gardener that buys her PLANTS.

'Pup and I used to have several members of our family that lived out towards Austin. This last month, the last of them came into Houston. 'Pup's older brother (challenged) had been living alone, but was lonely and wanted to be near family. He's now living with Pa-in-law and, we hope, they'll be able to continue to do so for a while.

But with that last family member, went the last chance to stop at all those little nurseries, art shops, antiques and other... interesting spots that we'd promised ourselves that we'd get to "someday".

Or, so I thought.

'Pup surprised me with a quick trip to Elgin (that's as far as we got for the day, it was brutally hot), where I picked up some plants at a couple of places I had really wanted to stop at for a long time. I wanted to post pictures of the places, but somehow, I just can't seem to get the pictures I want posted.. maybe another post.

At any rate, this is what we ended up with:

Plants tucked just about anywhere a plant could be tucked into and still allow 'Pup, his brother and I to still sit in the van.

These are part of the pictures of the nursery I wanted to brag about. I was able to get them loaded. Also missing is a picture of the bro-in-law. Sigh... another post.

Seriously y'all... Elgin. Main drag through town. You can't miss this nursery. The plants were healthy, numerous, varied and wonderfully priced.

I wonder if 'Pup would be willing to take another trip for our anniversary?

Ya never know!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

You Never Know What's Gonna Happen

'Pup was on the road the weekend I was in Chicago and witnessed an accident. The primary car involved had rolled over several times, and was...not in prime condition. 'Pup, and many others, stopped to see if they could render aid.

He said the first thing he saw was an 18 wheeler driver hop out of his cap with not one, but two fire extinguishers, one small, and one huge. (Which reminds me, ours are old and need replacing.) He stood near the wrecked car, ready if need be. Fortunately, they weren't needed.

Then, things got interesting. Several of the men who'd stopped had reached the car and were checking on the driver. He was alive, and trapped and struggling to get out. The five men, none of whom probably had ever met, worked as a team and got the driver out remarkably fast.

About that time, 'Pup had gotten the side door of the van open and was hauling out some bottled water and some blankets. No sooner had he done that, then another man ran over and asked if anyone had any water. 'Pup called him over, the guy loaded up with two cases of water and three blankets and ran back to where the driver was laying on the ground.

Turned out, one of the men had been a medic in one of the armed services, and was a paramedic. He was assessing the driver's condition when everyone was startled to hear, "We've got another one over here!"

Turns out that there had been a passenger in the car as well, and he'd been thrown out of the car. He was, miraculously, up and walking around!

Right about the same time, a rather large woman stopped and hopped out of her car. Dressed to the nines, she hiked up her skirt, and was trotting across the grassy median towards the accident. In high heels, she was moving with a lot more speed than you'd have guessed she could rev up too. 'Pup said it was an...unforgettable... sight. She turned out to be an RN, and she yelled at the men to GET THAT GUY DOWN ON THE GROUND, NOW!

She had a voice that carried enough authority to flatten a hay barn, and that passenger was placed down flat on the ground and was held there until she was able to get to him and run her assessment.

Amazingly, he seemed unharmed. Other than a few bumps and bruises, he hadn't even been knocked out and was coherent, if a bit argumentative. He was feeling no pain, having been pre-anesthetized by an unknown amount of beer. They let him sit up, but not walk around.

'Pup said all of this couldn't have taken more than about 1o or 12 minutes. The police, called by several of the on lookers got there about 15 minutes after the accident, accompanied by a fire truck, two ambulances and a tanker truck full of water. It's been a dry spring, and I suspect that the rural fire departments have been doubly concerned about grass fires.

After that, 'Pup decided it was time to move on and, though he's looked, he's not found any news about the event. When he drove me to my birthday surprise, he did note that you could see where the accident had taken place.

The accident reminded us that we needed a new first-aide kit and to restock our water. As of June 1, it's now officially "Hurricane Season", so we'll be reviewing and redoing our stash. Ike taught us: more water, more batteries and ice earlier, rather than later. It also taught us that we need to practice with our camp stove.

We'll be watching for some things to go on sale, and be ready with a wish list.

Emergencies are funny things. They never happen when and how you expect them to....

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Uhmm, Where Am I and How Do I Get There?

Note the above title. It contains the exact phrasing (as near as I can remember it) of what I said a couple of times while I was in Chicago. The reason I can remember it pretty well is that it is a phrase I often say.

Yes, I got lost a time or three. I have no sense of direction and navigating down a sidewalk was hard enough without having to figure out where I was going. Without some extra help, I'd have never gotten to some places.

Frankly, I could have used a GPS. What brand, I wouldn't care too much, though I've heard some good things about Tom Tom GPS systems. Price would be important, as I don't like to buy things at full price.

There's just something about the word: sale. It gets my heart to pumpin' and blood to warmin' and brain a'turnin'. Yeah, I likes me a sale.

How much do I like a sale? Too much. I will claim to have inherited the affliction, as my mom used to say that her cars were trained to read Garage Sale signs and follow them automatically. My new pickup isn't trained yet, and might never be. I'm always working when the best hours of the sales are on. (And don't think I've not complained about that.)

I'm a real sucker for plant sales. Especially if I see a rack of neglected plants that I think are worth trying to save for a tenth of their normal price. It makes me happy to adopt struggling plants and only spend two dollars, especially now that I have my pickup and it's so easy to get them home.

Humm...wonder if 'Pup's surprise is gonna have anything to do with plants?
Maybe he's taking me fishing? No, he doesn't like fishing... and he's said it was something we both liked to do. He does like sales, so that's a possiblity, we might go shopping.. but that doesn't seem right.


This is driving me crazy.

Birthday Surprises

'Pup has a surprise planned for me tomorrow. All I know is that it involves a day trip, to somewhere we've never been, but wanted to go, that I can wear jeans and he wants to get there before noon. Oh, and his brother can and is going with us.

Ah, just got a further hint. Seems it's somewhere we've gone in OUR dreams.

This is sounding interesting.

He's got to give me more info on what I need to wear, however. The man has no appreciation for the subtleties of women's clothing and women's shoes and would blithely take me in jeans to somewhere I'd want to be wearing a skirt and good shoes.

Conversely, he'd also take me, dressed in a skirt and heels to go fishing.

Dang, I wish I could figure this one out. He's usually not NEARLY this good at keeping a secret.

Oh well, it's GOT to be a better day than last year's birthday.

My last Birthday was a little more "exciting" than I want to repeat.

Friday, June 05, 2009

My New Camera

I LOVE my new camera. It's a Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS. It is a high definition camera and has the ability to not only take some dandy videos, but is able to do panoramic shots as well. And, it does macros beautifully. I never thought anything would take the place of my old Nikon in my heart, but this camera is coming close. The only thing I still like better on the Nikon is its ability to swivel to point the camera lens up or down as you watch the screen. Still, the Kodak has 10.1 mega pixels as opposed to 4 for the Nikon...so there's a trade off.

I'm still learning how to best use this camera. During my recent trip, I took pictures and played with different settings. I believe others could testify that I kept saying "GREAT HEAVENS, I am loving this camera!"

One of the things I've learned about this camera is that it is a bit of a memory hog. I never thought it possible, but I may actually need more than a 2 gig card for this beast. Until now, I'd never even come close to filling up a 1 gig card, but I now understand why the higher gig cards exist. In addition, I think getting a card that is a HDSD card , one that is made to handle the high definition that this camera is capable of, is something I need to consider. That's why I am going to be ordering these:

Seriously, together they're only $25. That's about a third less than you'd pay for ONE or the other, both together at that price is a
sale price (Buy.com) I'm not about to pass up.
(Don't you love this macro!)

Yee gads, I love this camera...and I keep wondering if this Smoke on the Prairie would grow down here....

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Chicago Botanical Gardens

What better way to make a Texan feel welcomed than to have some bluebonnets on hand? The garden was full of lovely spring flowers, but they are almost secondary to what is really going on in that grand garden.

There are trees here. Trees in every shade of green imaginable and in every shape and size. They are so beautifully placed.
There are fountains,

and lakes

And waterfalls to provide music.

Visions everywhere that remind you just how wonderfully the world is made.
And then,

There are those flowers who dwarf everything. I'm not sure what these are, but I wish I'd a garden big enough to do them justice. Wonder if that's what the world looks like to an ant?

Seriously, growing these in your garden would get the neighbors to talkin'....

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I Hosta be Crazy...

Going to Chicago has awakened a sleeping beastie deep inside my psyche. I am experiencing that most dreaded of all gardener maladies....Zone Envy. I envy, oh, indeed, how I am lusting for some of the plants grown in a more temperate climate...

It's all about the hostas, baby.
You see, I seem incapable of growing a hosta to more than about 4 inches high before it is eaten down to the bare nubbins by snails. (Oh, how I hates me some snails!)
I'd blamed it on the damp, cool, wet springs we have... and yet, Chicago was cooler and wetter than home and it had these incredible specimens.
I suspect the Biltmore Estate has a hosta or three as well. Someday, I'm going to make it to Biltmore. Thing is, see, after seeing Chicago's gardens, I fantasized about having a home there to garden in.. in the summer. I've been north of Chicago in the winter, and that was more than enough for me. Summer, on the other hand, might not be all that bad.
So, would a visit to the Biltmore have me looking hard at Wilmington NC real estate? Me, who has also a desire to someday visit the Outer Banks?
Perhaps not. I don't really like moving, and I suspect I don't have the energy, or even the life left in me to make another garden from scratch.
But a girl can dream. And I'm dreaming about HOSTAS.

Some Spring Fling Scenes

It's amazing to me, sometimes, how many little dramas are going on around us, that we often don't see.

I have a feeling this baby grackle(?) is feeling like the world is a lot larger place than he'd figured on...I hope his parents found him. This was at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. More about that later.

When some of us from far flung places got to Chicago on Thursday (because we'd never have been able to make the early Friday activities if we'd come on Friday), there was a welcoming door opened for us. McGregor's Daughter, her lovely sprite of a girl child and her VIS were there to show us how a private garden could be such a lovely work of art.

It was like a preview of the things we'd be seeing in the grand public gardens. I am always dumbstruck when I see just how GREEN things were in Chicago, when things were so very, very, WHITE there not so long ago. I'm also amazed at the sight of so many big hosta with nary a bite taken out of them. I do like hosta. I wish I had a tinker's chance of growing them to this size before the snails and slugs feasted on them.

And, how come my clematis aren't blooming much yet? Okay.. they're only a year old, and they need time to establish....

Truly, the only thing nicer than the garden was the company and the welcome we got. Thank you for starting our Fling a little early and letting us see your garden in real life.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Light in a Dark Place

As of June 1, the hurricane season is here. One part of me wants to think, "Hey, we got hit last year, we're probably safe this year." (cause, see, we usually have a hurricane or tropical storm once in a decade or so).

Problem is: Hurricanes don't do calendars very well, and one can't be sure when THEY figure a new decade has started.

So, 'Pup and I are getting our hurricane kits ready again. Mostly, we'll just be adding the stuff we used during the Great Black Out right after Ike. We will probably add more batteries and an extra candle or four. The candles aren't only for light. In fact, after dark, we wouldn't use one for light inside the house... BUT...with no power, it's sometimes very nice to have a nicely scented candle around for the...uhmm.. "arrangements" one has to make when the water is out too. We did use one, for the "arrangements"... putting the candle on a non combustible plate, inside a shallow dish of water. It helped. It really did.

Note to self, add a couple more bags of kitty litter to the hurricane kit too. Scented.