My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Friday, June 27, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Thunderstorms & Toadstools

I've only got a couple of sky photos from this week, so I thought I'd also toss in a couple of photos of some very weird mushroom/toadstool interlopers I found in our front flower bed this morning and see if anyone out there might help me identify them. I've never seen anything like them growing here before, and they seemed to spring up out of nowhere during our overnight thunderstorms (magic mushrooms, maybe?) Anyway, I thought "Thunderstorms and Toadstools" was a much nicer title than "Mushroom Clouds," though I confess that was the first title that popped into my head! :-)

It's been a week of unsettled weather, to say the least, and unusually humid for our usually dry climate. I took this first photo Wednesday evening as the sun was going down behind the mounting storm clouds - I thought the contrast of the dark clouds against the sunlit blue sky was striking. I suppose those three white streaks of varying widths are crepuscular rays, but they didn't look like any sunbeams I'd ever seen before...


After several days of flirting with and skirting our area (but wreaking havoc in neighboring ones, as well as with my sinuses!), last evening the thunderstorms got down to business. We were surrounded by severe thunderstorms that were trouncing those in their path with large hail, high winds, heavy rains, and a lot of lightning, and we were under a severe thunderstorm watch all evening. I'm sure it was thanks to the fact that BW and I ran our Defcon 5 Storm Drill late that afternoon - bringing everything inside that wasn't actually rooted in the soil - that all we ended up getting were some breezes, gentle rain, enough thunder to make our dog Tess nervous, and an amazing lightning show in every direction. Oh, and these very ominous skies...

The little white specks are raindrops, lit up by my camera's flash

Hey, it's Friday. There are skies. You know the drill… 

Now about those toadstools. There were about half a dozen of them hiding beneath the foliage of one of our violas and one of our bergamot plants. They were growing at the very base of the plants, in a couple of cases so entwined with the plant stems and roots that it was hard to extricate them without digging up part of the flowers. I was just weeding the flower bed yesterday and swear they weren't there then! 

Here are the two largest ones, which measured about 3" tall and a little over 4" wide...

Shown with one of my beloved Merrell Mix Master Glides for scale! :-)

And here is what their stems and gills look like (you can see a stem of the bergamot plant, whose roots were entwined with the toadstool)... 


So, anyone know which agaric (gilled mushroom) these might be? I tossed them, of course, but it would be a shame if it turned out they were edible, especially since we're planning to make this for dinner tomorrow! :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Canada Day to our neighbors to the north on Tuesday, eh? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Nailed it!

I could admit that I'm a frazzled day late with my SkyWatch Friday post. Or...I could claim that I've intentionally timed posting this beautiful sunrise to sync with today's Solstice! Yeah, let's go with that second one and pretend I nailed it!

Sunrise from our patio, 6/15/14

The day of that sunrise was also our next door neighbor's birthday, and since Carol had contributed greatly to BW's birthday earlier this month, we decided to surprise her with a cake. I'd seen this one on Pinterest,…


thought it looked fun and fell for the old "shoot, that looks easy!" trick. And it might have been, except that #1, cutting jicama stars freehand is harder than one might think, and #2, when Carol replied to our birthday ecard at 7:45 that morning, she mentioned she was heading to church and as soon as she returned they were leaving to spend the day and evening in the mountains. So yikes, instead of having most of the day to make her cake, we only had an hour! I'm sure we looked just like the frenzied chefs in those sadistic TV cooking competitions (much as I'd rather think I bore a striking resemblance to the gorgeously unflappable Chef Chloe!)

Anyway, after feverishly hacking and hulling and peeling and carving and impaling with toothpicks various fruity raw materials, we ended up with this rather pitiful yet somehow still deliciously festive birthday offering:


Though probably a candidate for one of those humiliating, sarcastic, hysterical "Nailed It!" epic fail collages, at least Carol seemed pleased with it! (Of course, it helps that I didn't show her the photo we were working from!)...


June has certainly provided us with lots of excuses for celebration, starting with my seventh "Blogiversary" on the 4th, several birthdays beginning with BW's on the 6th, Father's Day (and Carol's birthday) last Sunday, our 26th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, and now Summer Solstice! Whoo-hoo, party on!!!


Partying - yep, nailed it! ;-)

No fails here ~ just skywatchers around the world nailing celestial photography:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#26! Whoot!

To us!

Hard to believe that 26 years ago today we were eating cake in Abilene, TX. :-)


I put together this anniversary post as a surprise for BW, and also to record some favorite photos and memories from that day. If you'd care to follow along, there will be cake at the end. (Yeah, that's what they promised me, too. LOL)

This photo of me with my mom is one of my favorites. I don't know what made us laugh, but it was a nice moment captured by our wedding photographer, Tom Miller...


Poor mom was going through an ugly divorce (my father wasn't welcome, nor would he have attended if he had been - life wasn't all sunbeams and glitter back then), but she flew to TX from Maine and put up a brave front. And I think she looked very pretty in her blue dress!

Our wedding colors were blue and apricot - those are Texas Bluebonnets in my bouquet (I still have most of them, now in an arrangement beneath a painting of bluebonnets). 

And in this corner, wearing the apricot dress :-) my sweet mother-in-law to be, Marilyn…


Members of the wedding party are asked to do such silly things sometimes. My matron of honor (oh how she hated that title, but she was married so "maid of honor" was out!), Anne Worster, was a great sport with a fun sense of humor, which were both big reasons I enjoyed her friendship AND wanted her for the job! Here she degrades herself by having to pretend to adjust my garter, all the while having to listen to me warn her through gritted teeth that if she so much as snagged my expensive, glimmery panty hose, I'd kill her graveyard dead and bury her in her MATRON of honor dress along with her stupid bouquet. Okay, I wasn't really a bridezilla, but I was admonishing her through clenched teeth not to snag my high-dollar hose (which she didn't - proving I chose my matron of honor well!)… 


Some other cool things about Anne were that she was a USAF Academy grad and a KC-135 tanker pilot (we met during Inservice when we were stationed at Dyess AFB at the same time in 1987). Also, she was 6' tall, another descriptor she hated, preferring to tell people she was 5'12". (Told you she had a great sense of humor!) At 5'8" myself, it was refreshing to have a female friend taller than I! 

The "something new" item a bride is supposed to wear lest awful things befall her (or whatever) was covered by the dress, shoes, earrings, flowery hair comb, and those shimmery ho$e. My dress, btw, I bought on sale from JC Penney following their annual spring wedding extravaganza at the local mall, where it had been worn in the wedding attire fashion show and hence was marked down to $120. I loved its look and didn't have to have it altered, but did have to get the makeup dry cleaned off it before and after the wedding, and then I sold it for $100. I was not, as you may have guessed, a sentimental, starry-eyed bride who had dreamed of her wedding since she was a little girl and subscribed to Extravagant Weddings magazine. And don't let the traditional June wedding fool you - I preferred the idea of an outdoor October wedding - my favorite month - conducted by a JP, but acquiesced for the sake of BW's large family, heavily populated as it was by church-going school teachers whose summer vacations made it easier for them to attend June nuptials. BW and I paid for our wedding and never bought into the subliminal message from the wedding industry that the more money you spend on the wedding, the happier/longer the marriage will be/last (the funeral industry has a corollary one that we also don't buy into, reckoning we'll be just as dead for just as long if we spend a minimal amount on disposal of our earthly remains, and our sendoff will be better appreciated if the bulk of the money goes toward liquoring up our mourners). We wanted our wedding to be low-key and simple, saving the big bucks for things that would last longest - our rings, these photos, and our honeymoon trip (more on that in a bit!) Anyway, my practical nature expressed itself again when I covered the somethings "old," "borrowed," and "blue" all in one item - that snag-happy garter, which my mother had worn in her wedding (and we all know how THAT turned out! Good thing I'm not very superstitious)… 

Which left the "penny inside the shoe" business, deftly handled for photographic posterity by my soon-to-be father-in-law, Jack...


Meanwhile, BW wasn't off the hook when it came to having to stage silly pre-wedding photos like this one (co-starring his best man Mike), feigning worried jitters over the fast approaching end of freedom as he knew it (lol - definitely feigned. RIGHT, HONEY?)… :-)

Capt. BW looked so handsome in his AF Mess Dress, but was every bit as handsome 
in the flight suit he was wearing the day we met.

After the procession up the aisle, the vows, the rings, and the kissy-face stuff, Tom photographed me checking our marriage license for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors (I wouldn't be surprised). No, actually, with our delightful presiding Methodist minister, Rev. Ed Lang looking on, we were just making sure our documentation was legal and proper, knowing we'd need it to obtain passports someday. :-)

Rev Lang was great fun, able to put even a heathen like me at ease! :-)

So after the main event, here we were with our small-in-number but high-in-quality attendants ~ L-R: Groomsman Steve "Bull" Durham, usher SRA Rob Peterson, bridesmaid Leslie Fahrner (BW's sister), us, matron of honor 1st Lt. Anne Worster, usher MSgt Al Dostal, best man Mike McRoberts...

(I'd wager that not many wedding parties this small contain both a Bull Durham and a 6' tall female tanker pilot!) :-)

After our photographer insisted on taking a gazillion more photos of us with various permutations of our attendants and family members, we finally got to attend our own reception! Where, it turned out, there was more work to be done - like throwing stuff. NOW we're talkin'! :-)

My new sister-in-law Leslie, with her willingness to pull hair, rip dresses, and tackle her very own cousins or my boss to catch that bouquet, did just that. Beware of syrupy sweet sounding single southern belles, they can turn into savage fiends when wedding bouquets are airborne!

Well, FINALLY! The cake I was promised! (Hey, I was lured to this brouhaha by the promise of three things - the groom, the ring, and the apricot-filled cake!) :-)


Of course, even this (and that first photo on this post) was staged. We only got the bite we had to shove into each other's mouths (what IS that? We don't do that at meals in married life!) before we were dragged off for yet more photos. By the time we really WERE permitted to get some cake, we were horrified to find that the woman who'd volunteered to cut it had sliced it in big wedges like a birthday cake, and so the wedding cake that was supposed to feed everyone did no such thing (plus we're pretty sure we saw Bull take seconds and possibly thirds!) We sprinted for the chocolate single layer Bachelor's Cake but it was long-gone, as we knew in our hearts it would be. So we had to feed our famished selves with nuts and mints. At least our cake server had known to save the top so we could do that other odd tradition of putting it in the freezer to enjoy on our first anniversary. (Hopefully it didn't knock any galaxies out of alignment when we cheated and secretly ate half of it as soon as we could, putting only the other half in the freezer for the next year - desperate times call for desperate measures!)

Meanwhile, while we were busy trying to shake the photographer and procure food, vandals were defiling our getaway car! :-) Fortunately, someone with a Kodak Instamatic (from the look of it - this digital age has spoiled us so!) caught them in the act... 


That is Mario (as in Andretti), a 1975 Fiat Spyder convertible that BW surprised me with that Easter! Mario was a manual with no 3rd gear, but we drove him with the top down to Alamogordo, NM and back that summer and it was a blast, bugs in our teeth and all. I loved that car. One of our wedding ushers, Al, bought it for his teenage son when we had to lighten our load to move to WY, and that rotten boy blew up the engine not two months later. Poor Mario.

Well, we can't go out on that tragic note. So, as promised, I'll leave you with some honeymoon anecdotes. BW's house was filled with visiting family and my mom was consoling herself in my apartment, so we stayed that night in a fancy-ish hotel across from the mall, where we attended the movie "The Seventh Sign." I love scary movies, BW doesn't, but he got his June church wedding so I got to pick the movie! Too bad it sucked, but the hillbillies sitting right behind us, who loudly pointed out every obvious revelation (pun intended) in the film were plenty entertaining ~ we still imitate them whenever someone points out something painfully obvious. I'd forgotten to pack my sneakers so I had to wear my white satin wedding flats with my shorts and tank top. I also left the baby's breath in my French braid and was still wearing my jewelry. The ticket seller asked if we'd been in a wedding that day. Forgetting about my getup, I said, "Yes, ours! How did you know?" If only the hillbillies had been there to point out the obvious to me then. LOL

A couple of days later, we drove to Dallas where BW's folks lived, and stayed with them for a mini-honeymoon at Six Flags Over Texas and Wet & Wild Water World. While at Wet & Wild, we were in a looooong line for one of the more popular slides, which required grabbing an inner tube from a water-filled trough to ride down the twisty slide. We must have stood in line in that TX heat for half an hour before we even got to the inner tube trough, when three soaking wet boys of about 10 who had just completed their slide down the ride for which the rest of us patiently, sweatily waited, ran up and cut in front of the couple in front of us. The first boy grabbed the woman's inner tube just as she was lifting it from the trough and then started to dart away to cut in again at the head of the line! Oh no you dih-int! It was a purely reptilian reflex when I wrested the inner tube from his thieving hands and used it to bop him on the head. As he and his friends stood there agape, I handed it to the woman from whom it had wrongly been swiped and told them to get their delinquent, pilfering selves to the back of the line. I'm not certain, but I think there was applause from the line behind us. I do remember that BW said to the couple in front of us, "That's my new bride, Lalu of the Jungle!" with pride and affection. :-) 

BW took three weeks of leave later that summer and we drove up the western slope of the Rockies to Glacier National Park, where we rendezvoused with Mom and some of her old friends who lived in Whitefish. One of her friends took us water skiing on the icy cold water of Whitefish Lake. Well, everyone else skied ON the icy water (BW and Mom being skilled water skiers), but it was my first (and so far, at least, last) time on water skis so I spent most of my time IN the icy water. But it was fun! Mom's friend had just taken Kiefer Sutherland and Emilio Estevez (then aged 22 and 26, respectively) water skiing the day before. They were staying in a nearby cabin on the lake and apparently lacked for a ski boat. I was glad they weren't there to witness my pratfalls that day! After our stay in Whitefish, we returned with Mom to Havre and enjoyed a visit with my grandparents before heading back to Texas via the eastern slope of the Rockies - which brought us right through Sheridan on the Interstate, though neither of us recalled anything about it later! It was that trip, however, that convinced BW that relocating to the Rocky Mountains was a good idea, and a year later we sold his our house and moved to Wyoming. And the rest, as they say, is history - in the making!


Sure is! We're looking forward to the next 26 years, which are bound to be at least as interesting and fun as the first 26! Happy Anniversary, BW, you're the BEST!!! xoxo

Friday, June 13, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Cloud Capers

Late May - early June: 'tis the season for capering clouds in Wyoming's skies. Some seem to have a more sinister intent, like these two thunderstorm clouds that appear to have formed a darkly nefarious alliance as the sun set behind them...


while others are simply naughty. I took this photo because of the unusual "fin" erupting from the cloud. The streetlight was merely an intrusive annoyance that I planned to crop out - until I noticed that it looked like the cloud was mocking the streetlight behind its back! There's nothing like a skylarking cloud pranking a streetlight to add sudden mischievous charm to a photo! :-)


Enjoy more skylarking skies at:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Birthday Boy, Blooming Blossoms, Big News!

I may not have been blogging lately, but I have been gathering blog fodder! And now I finally have an opportunity to start sharing from my stack o'goodies!

The first bit of news (not the Big News of this post's title, that's coming up in a bit) and main reason for my absence lately is that BW had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on May 15. He had a large, hook-shaped bone spur in the shoulder joint that had badly damaged the bursa and was fraying the rotator cuff - though fortunately the tendon had not yet torn. They removed the spur along with most of his bursa (which will regenerate). 

Other than having wisdom teeth pulled, this was BW's first surgery and he was NOT impressed. The anesthesia really did a number on him and it took him a couple of days to recover from it. He had to be at the hospital at 6:30am and we thought he'd be home by lunch, but they weren't able to release him until 4:30 - and even then, he was still a pretty sick and stoned puppy. He was also unable to do anything with his right hand (and of course he's right-handed) for a couple of weeks, which made me one busy woman! I think BW missed being able to cook most of all, while I seriously missed his ability to mow! :-) He goes to PT three times a week and does an hour of strengthening and mobility exercises at home on the other days, and though he's still limited in what he can do and still experiences pain (especially after a session with the "physical terrorists"), his recovery is going well and he's able to do a lot more now. Hence my ability to finally blog a bit! :-) Because of the physically strenuous duties of his job as a UPS man, he won't be released to return to work until at least July 7th - and he starts 2 weeks of vacation the next day! So I'm getting to enjoy the daily pleasure of his company, and staying up late watching Netflix is making us feel like kids on summer vacation! :-) In fact, the surgery and time off for recovery gave him time to reflect on the wear and tear his job of 23+ years has on his body, our financial situation, and our priorities - and he decided to retire on July 31st! So at most he has nine working days left. He can hardly wait to start using this clock! :-)
It will really hit home when Christmas rolls around. I was not terribly surprised by his decision - last Christmas at UPS was an especially grueling one, and we were both pretty sure he didn't have another one left in him. Since he worked as a part time driver at Christmas for two years before going full-time, this will be the first year of our marriage that he won't be a UPS man at Christmas (except for one year when he was in USAF Reserve training in Texas and didn't make it home to Wyoming till Christmas Eve!) So I anticipate finally getting to experience a very different sort of Santa than the one I've gotten used to…


As if all that weren't enough, yesterday was BW's 55th birthday. Although we'd had more exciting plans for it, the day was rainy and windy, he had a PT appointment that was particularly painful, and I was down and out with a headache. So it was a subdued celebration (we'll make it up this weekend), that wouldn't have amounted to much of anything were it not for our neighbor Carol bringing him chocolate zucchini muffins (which she made with pumpkin instead of zucchini, because only Carol would be brave enough to make a recipe in spite of lacking the main ingredient! lol) with the frosting from this recipe, and a festive cupcake balloon!...

The eternally boyish BW!

Like I said. :-) He's almost always this happy, too - when it's not Christmas! lol

Loved the adorable silicone cupcake cups Carol used! 
Despite having feet the cupcakes couldn't outrun us and were a memory by 1pm. :-)


And in non-BW news, it's been an incredible spring for flowers! We never got a typical big spring snow that so often wrecks the tender buds, and maybe because of that the flowering trees and bushes have been the most prolific, perfumed and pretty we've ever seen! We also got lucky - we may not have had a big snow, but we did have a very destructive storm in late May that clocked wind speeds of 75mph, but it arrived just after the peak of the flowering crabapples (less than a week after I took the photos below) and just before our roses bloomed! Here's how our beautiful rosebush looks this year, with more than half its blooms still yet to open when I took this...


Here's a neighbor's amazing crabapple tree, looking dressed for a wedding...


Another neighbor's crabapple, so pretty in pink (how I wish these were scratch-n-sniff, the beautiful fragrance all up and down our streets was heady stuff!)...


And the pinkest crabapple of all, this one (of several) in front of Sheridan Physical Therapy where BW has his sessions...


There are several more blog-worthy goodies left in my stack to share, so I hope to get more blogging done this week between planting more flowers, mowing more lawn, running more errands, and several more appointments! I will definitely post at least a SkyWatch Friday post if nothing else… so stay tuned, and have a great weekend!

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"