Thursday, May 31, 2007

A & W Update

My first trip to the A & W this summer. We go to Spring Valley for our A & W treats. This A & W has been in business for over 50 years.

Rick used to take me there when we first started going out in high school....can it be over 30 years already??

The nice thing about A & W is that it never changes and they still have the best root beer. Papa Burger is still hanging out in the backyard like he was in the 70's.

This is my kinda' man!

Another Invitation for You

I was intrigued by the responses to Mary's post revealing blogger "habitats." It was fun for me to get a tiny glimpse into other people's lives.

I'm going to digress a bit here as to work my way towards your invitation.....I worked at an art gallery/custom picture framing studio from 2000 to 2003. Because of my employee discount and bonuses at that job, I have lots of framed art on my walls, in every room (including bathrooms). Because I feel that art is such an important part of my life, I would like to invite you to share your favorite piece of art.

Here are some guidelines:

1) It can be any type of art: a framed print, a quilt made by your great-grandmother, your child's glittery, painted macaroni poster from kindergarten, a picture you painted, an outdoor sculpture in your garden. It just has to be your one favorite piece.

2) Tell me the story about why it's your favorite or what special meaning the art has for you.

3) Please send your photos and stories to me by June 16th at my e-mail address: rjknits at msn dot com

In celebration of the summer solstice, I will post your responses on my June 21st blog entry.

I look forward to hearing from you!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's a lovely summer-like afternoon (with no wind, for once) and when I went outside to light the grill my motorcycle was sitting forlornly in the garage because Rick had taken his out for a ride while I'm supposed to be making supper (instead of blogging).

I could just hear my bike crying to me, "Ruthie, don't you love me anymore? We haven't been anywhere together for almost 2 weeks. Maybe we could go the A & W for an ice cream cone after supper?"

2005 Honda VTX 1300

It's going to be a beautiful evening, perfect for a trip to the A & W. I do love my bike and will try to make it happy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Hair Day

I went down to Stewartville for a haircut today. I was long overdue. I had initially made the appointment for yesterday and the salon called me at work to say my stylist was going to be gone and would it be OK to reschedule for today. "Yup, that's fine," I said, knowing that one day couldn't make it any worse.

I know my hair's too long when I have to start using the curling iron to style it. At 4:30 in the morning, messing around with my hair is the last thing I want to do. During the summer, the curl never holds in the hot/humid weather anyway.

I got my stylist to take these "Before" and "After" pictures.
Yikes--look at that double chin! Time to cut back on the rhubard cake and peanut butter cookies!

A couple years ago I switched to the short, spikey style. I really like this style. It's easy, fast and fun, plus when it's the short and messy style, gray hairs don't show as much!

Now that my hair is short again, you can see my little butterfly tattoo better.

After my haircut, I stopped off at the Stewartville Public Library to return my overdue books and pick up some new ones. I like Stewartville's overdue policy--they have a grace period of almost 10 days. I could go on-line to renew my books, but I usually never remember.

Now I only have to decide which book to start first!

Here's a picture of my blue Crocs. After hearing from so many people how comfortable they are, I decided to try a pair. I wanted to get pink ones, but they didn't have any in my size, so I went with this more conservative blue color. It's hard to believe that a plastic clog can be so comfortable, but they really are. The sole is so squishy it's almost like walking on a marshmallow. They're pretty dorky-looking, but I will sacrifice vanity for comfort any day of the week.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No Inspiration

I kept waiting to be struck with some sort of inspiration for a fabulous blog posting for today, but nothing's happened.

Someone at work e-mailed me a really cute movie of dogs doing silly things and I wanted to share it with you, but I don't know how to add movies to my blog.

The last of my brain power was used up on these peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
Granulated sugar

(that's right, no butter or flour!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine peanut butter, brown sugar and egg in medium bowl until well blended. Add chocolate chips to the dough and mix well. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Dip table fork into granulated sugar. Press sugar-coated tines of fork in crisscross fashion onto each ball, flattening to 1/2-inch thickness. Repeat dipping fork into granulated sugar to prevent it from sticking to dough. Bake cookies on middle oven rack until set, about 12 minutes. Let cookies stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Remove cookies with spatula to wire racks and let cool completely.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies (depending on how much dough you eat before baking!)

If you're going to a potluck or just need to make a quick batch of cookies for a treat, these are really good....nice and soft. They won't last long!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Trip Around the Yard

I mowed the lawn today, but before I started I grabbed the camera and took a little trip around the yard on my trusty John Deere. Here are some of the things I found.

I found another mourning dove nest. This one is built much sturdier than the previous nest I found.

Here's how the "Grassland Bird Nesting Habitat Project" is looking. The grass has grown to about 8" in the unmowed areas. (I sure like not having to mow this!) There are lots of birds in this area and I'll be anxious to see if the Dickcissel I had in the area last summer comes back to this area again this summer.

Here are the baby bluebirds. They should fledge a little later this week. You can see some of their blue feathers starting to grow in. There are only 3 little ones left. I'm not sure what's happened because the last time I checked I couldn't get the Mom to leave the nest so I'm not sure how many were there at that time, but I know there were 4 hatched.

Here's a wren nest. She's nesting in one of my bluebird boxes. She has 3 eggs so far. They stuff the box with sticks, but the area where the nesting actually takes place is lined with grass and then feathers. This is the first time I've been able to see where the little wren sits and incubates her eggs. I also have another wren nesting in a house hanging in one of the apple trees. I sure like listening to them sing!

Here's the one squirrel who visits my yard. Earlier this morning I put a whole bunch (more than a dozen) of pecans in the shell out in this tray. She took every single one and buried them all in the yard.

While I was drinking my morning coffee I watched this little female hummingbird outside the dining room window. I have seen 2 females trying to use this feeder, but only 1 can be there at a time and I wasn't able to get a picture of both of them together.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

2 More Jobs Done

I completed two more projects on my list of things to do today: Cleaned out my little pond and got most of my garden planted.

My little pond is a small wading pool. I decided to go this route because it was inexpensive and for me, easy to maintain. Today I got it all cleaned out and refilled with clean water. I have an extension cord buried in the ground from the house to the pond and this is where the pump plugs in. It's definitely not up to code, but it works well for my situation and I'll pull it out whenever we move away from here. In previous years, I've had the fountain going through a birdbath basin so there was a place for birds who wanted to bathe. This year I've decided to leave that basin out and just added a small chunk of log instead. This will give the goldfish something to hide under and also provide a means of escape in case any little critters or birds fall into the water. I put some plants in there and it's all set. The fountain provides a nice running water sound. The water should be warm enough by tomorrow to put the goldfish back outside. I hope they like their new home.

I got my garden plot cleaned out, tilled up, and planted. Rick got me this little tiller a couple years ago and it works just great for my little garden. Plus I can carry it and start it all by myself.

I divide my garden into 9 sections. I have planted 3 tomato plants and 1 plant each of red pepper, zucchini, and burpless cucumber. I don't have anything for the 3 middle sections yet, but I would still like to put in some lettuce and onions. For now, I've just put down the landscaping fabric to slow down the weeds a little bit.

We really like tomatoes, so I always plant lots of them for eating and canning. I will freeze the zucchini and peppers that we don't eat right away. I've never tried planting cucumbers before, so I hope these turn out. My garden is organic. In the past, the birds have taken care of any bugs, because I've never had much problem with insect damage.

I got some really nice heavy-duty tomato cages -- 54" high. It's really windy up here and once the tomato plants get big and heavy, one good thunderstorm will usually blow them over. I think these tomato cages are going to work out really well. I got the bunny deterrent fence installed around the garden perimeter also.

All of my highbush cranberry bushes are blooming, plus the ox-eye daisies. It was very fragrant working out in the backyard on these projects today.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Flower Planting

I've finally gotten the spring planting fever. I went plant shopping yesterday and today and spent almost half a paycheck on flowers and garden plants!

I've got most of the flowers into pots. Some of them I put out on the deck. Most of these are to attract hummingbirds.

I have a couple of window boxes on the front of the house and I'm trying something new in them this year....different colored flowers with a vinca vine in the center. We'll see how this goes....I tried the vinca vine once before and it's just too windy up here and the vine kept blowing away when it got long enough to cascade over the planter.

I've got some flower pots out in front of the garage. Again, I'm going with lots of different colored flowers and some kind of viney green plant in the center. This area only gets early morning sun, so I'm going with some plants that hopefully will work well with shade.

I picked up some ivy geraniums also. Here's a pot with some really pretty dark red blossoms that will hang under my deck.

These other pretty pink and white ones are going to Dad for his birthday gift tomorrow. (Act surprised, Dad, if you read this before your birthday celebration tomorrow!)

I picked up a flat of red impatiens that will go in the flower bed along the front of the house. I ran out of time for planting today, but they will be in the ground before the weekend is over.

Here are some plants for my vegetable garden: 3 tomatoes, 1 pepper, 1 burpless cucumber, and 1 zucchini. My garden plot needs some work, so that project is also waiting till tomorrow or Monday.

I bought some new water plants and I have to get my little pond cleaned out and filled up also this weekend. It's a pretty small pond, so the wet/dry vac makes this task pretty quick. I'll get clean water in there, put in the little fountain, put in the plants, and then when the water warms up a bit, my goldfish can go back outside. They're getting really sick of swimming around in their little tank in the dining room.

Over by my little pond I also have a decorative pole with a hummingbird feeder and today I planted a purple wave petunia to hang on the other hook. Behind this pole you can see the giant jade plant I got from my dad. Because the jade plant is a succulent, it lives in my basement during the winter.

This is a huge plant and Dad got it when he first started teaching school, so it's probably about 50 years old!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is Dad's 74th Birthday. He's already passed his "three score and ten," so considers every birthday after that as bonus time here on earth.

Dad was born and grew up in Wisconsin. He is one of 6 children (1 brother and 4 sisters).

Dad went to college with the intention of becoming a Lutheran minister. An illness during college set his studies back and so he got his degree as a school teacher. His first teaching job was in Chicago, Illinois at St. James Lutheran School where he met and married my mom.

When I was about 3 years old and less than 2 weeks after my sister was born, Mom and Dad packed up the family and we moved to Wykoff, Minnesota, where Dad became the principal at St. John's Lutheran School.

Last year, Dad celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Lutheran school teacher. Dad is officially retired now, but still works at school as an administrative assistant. All of us kids had Dad as a teacher during our grade school years.

Dad is a pretty snazzy dresser and gets dressed up for work every day. He has an extensive collection of neckties!

Back in the late 90's, I used to take my knitting to Scandinavian craft festivals, and Dad would go along as my show assistant. The festivals were during his summer vacation and we had lots of fun at these shows, listening to fine Scandinavian music, eating great Scandinavian food, and visiting with all the nice people who stopped by my table.

Here's Dad chatting with a Viking at the Hjemkomst Festival in Moorhead, Minnesota.

A few years ago, Dad discovered a lump in his neck that turned out to be a cancerous tumor in a salivary duct on the right side of his face. (Dad was a smoker for many years.) Surgery was performed and after recovery, Dad had to undergo many weeks of radiation therapy. This was really hard for all of us, but especially hard on Dad, and there was a while where we thought he might not make it.

Mom and Dad have a strong Christian faith, so in addition to their prayers, many of their friends at church, his own kids, and his "kids" at school, spent much time praying for Dad's recovery. God heard our prayers and Dad recovered from most of the complications of his surgery and radiation. We are very thankful to still have him with us.

In January, Dad had a hip replacement. He still walks with a walker, but doesn't have the pain he experienced prior to that surgery.

Charlie (Phil's little boy), Brother Phil, and Dad at the Sacramento airport getting ready to come home from our visit to California.

Dad is slowing down a little bit now, but wow, 74 years! I can only hope to make it that long. So, Happy Birthday Dad, and because I don't say it often enough, I Love You!

Here's a sweater I made for Dad a couple years ago. It was a very cold spring and he got to wear his new sweater on Easter Sunday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Baby Birds and a Storm

It was sunny, really windy and warm today. When I was out filling birdfeeders after work, I noticed this spotty little fellow sitting on the edge of my garden plot....very cooperative and not at all camera shy.

He was about 20 feet from the evergreen tree containing the nest and when I checked the nest, sure enough, there were only 3 left, so this fellow is definitely in a hurry to see the world. Here are his siblings, still content to stay at home. I suppose there's much more room to relax in now that there are only 3 left at home.

After supper, a line of thunderstorms moved into the area. Here are some of the ominous looking clouds. We listened to the Twin Cities news and saw pictures and stories of the severe storms they'd had earlier in the afternoon. Fortunately for us, these clouds only looked scary. They didn't bring too much rain or wind, and thankfully no hail at all.

I'm kind of a cautious wimp when it comes to storms, but living here up on the top of the hill provides some excellent views of incoming weather and I can always grab the pets and quickly dash to the safety of the basement when that siren starts to wail.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How About Those Pets?

We are ruled by pets at our house. Since we don't have any children, these pets have become our furry substitutes. We currently have 2 dogs and 1 cat living in our house. I am the lenient parent and Rick is the strict one. I let them get away with more naughty things than Rick does, so they usually come to me first for treats and they always prefer to sleep next to me, so I'll take that as affirmation that they love me more!

We finally broke down and got a king-size bed so there was room for everyone.

Daisy was a good sport and always played very nicely with Sophie.

Daisy is our oldest dog and she turned 14 last month. She has finally started to calm down a little bit, but get out the gun and she's prancing around and barking because she thinks it's time to go hunting. She's getting a little hard of hearing (Rick thinks it's just selective to my voice) and takes some medication for urinary incontinence, but for her age, she's in amazingly good health. We don't know how much longer we'll be lucky enough to have her around and we cherish every day we have her.

Daisy was also a good sport when it came to Penny's silly games.

Penny is our next oldest pet. She was 11 in March. I got her from a co-worker who lived on a farm. She's been a pretty good kitty and gets along really well with the dogs. She loves to eat and unfortunately she's somewhat overweight for which the vet always scolds us.

Penny gets a tablespoon of Fancy Feast every night on the counter so she doesn't have to bother me when I'm making supper.

Our youngest pet is Sophie (also a German Shorthair). She will be 10 in October. I think Sophie is awfully cute, but she definitely isn't as smart as Daisy. She's had a multitude of health problems since she was a puppy and I've spent a fortune on her, but every day she makes me laugh with something goofy that she does. She loves food of any kind and chasing squirrels.

Sophie is always hungry and will go to any length to get to that last bit of kibble!

Sophie has the really annoying habit of sticking her nose under the covers and rooting around like a pig until she has all the blankets pushed down to the bottom of the bed and then she lays down on the jumble of covers.

I have worked with lots of different people and it was interesting to me how people who didn't have pets or didn't like animals would react to stories the rest of us pet owners would tell at work or coffee break. One of the women I used to work with wouldn't eat any treats that I brought to work because I happened to mention one day that my cat goes on the kitchen counter.

Penny has her food and water on the dining room table so the dogs don't eat it. When people come over to the house, I always have to try and remember to take it off the table so people who aren't pet owners don't get grossed out. I always like to see picture of other people's pets sitting on the chair and eating food at the table, because I know how it is to be owned by pets and it's nice to know that I'm not the only person who allows (encourages) this sort of activity.

Daisy, Sophie, and their cousin Shelby waiting for treats.

These pets are always happy to see us when we get home--even if we've only been gone for 10 minutes, they eat anything we give them, they don't complain when it's too cold to go potty outside, and we will never have to buy them a cellphone!

Monday, May 21, 2007

At-Home Monday

We were going to turkey hunt this morning, but I have been unable to shake my virus of last week and coughed most of the night, so Rick went to work and I went back to bed till 7 AM. We had an early morning rain shower, so that postponed lawn mowing till about 10:00.

When I went out on the deck to fill the birdbaths, here's what I saw across the highway:
Think your job sucks? How'd you like to be these guys painting this watertower? We had sustained winds of about 20 mph all day. I looked through the binoculars but couldn't tell if they were wearing any safety harness or not (one would certainly hope so!) They were using what appeared to be 6 foot poles with a paint roller on the end. I look at this water tower every day and never noticed that it needed repainting. Talk about doing a job that no one hat's off to these guys.

Riding around on the lawn mower always give me a chance to see what's going on in the yard. Sometimes a bird will fly out of a tree and that gives me a clue as to where a nest might be. Today I found this mourning dove nest. Mourning doves build the poorest nests! They need to be trained by robins. I put my hand by this nest to give you an idea of how shallow and small it is. We're supposed to have strong winds again tomorrow, so for the sake of the eggs, I hope Mother Mourning Dove plans to spend most of the day sitting on these eggs or they'll probably blow out of the tree.

As I rode past the robin nest near the garage, I checked to see if the little ones were still in the nest. There were a couple of loud robin confrontations with bluejays and grackles last week, so I was uncertain whether the babies were still there, but on this picture you can see they are, and just about ready to fledge. There are 4 of them, but the fourth one is snoozing behind the biggest one sitting on the right side of the nest.

There are baby grackles everywhere. Hopefully with them leaving the nests, this will slow down some of the fecal sac bombardments we've been receiving. The tree swallows are lining their nest in the gourd with feathers, but no eggs yet. There are a couple of house wrens in the yard. I checked 2 different houses and it appears that they are getting a nest ready in each of them.

Back to work tomorrow. It's been nice to have 4 days off in a row.