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Abducted by Aliens

Shhh. I only have a few stolen moments here at the console. I tried tapping out SOS, but I can’t remember if it is dotdotdot-dashdashdash-dotdotdot or Dashdashdash-dotdotdot-dashdashdash? Will anyone reply if I tap out OSO?

We have been abducted by aliens.

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They have taken over our bodies. Our minds are hanging, suspended, in some sort of fluid. God, I hope it’s not formaldehyde!!

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They got to Donald first. Made him purchase an old VW Van.049

I should have known. He would never give up tent camping. He believes in sleeping on hard ground. He’d never give in to this: comfort camping!! He loves his Ford Explorer. (if you type “Ford Exploder into Google, it automatically pulls up “Ford Explorer”. I wonder why that is…??)

Then there was this:

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It’s not the new roof so much, as improvement to the house. Supposedly, I signed off on this. I hate to spend money. I hate salespeople. This means being a grownup. This can’t be.

But if you need further proof that an Alien is living in my body, scroll down…

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No, not that! That’s a hokey 1950’s movie about body snatchers! Pea Pod People. It was supposed to scare you.

No. I want you to see my cell phone.

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This is my cell phone. It doesn’t have Internet and it takes a photo about the size of a pea. (Peas and pea pods are obviously on my mind). It works perfectly fine. I can call people when I turn it on. Occasionally, I read a text message. I delete anything that has to do with Internet access. It has served me well throughout the past 10 years. I HAVE NO REASON TO CHANGE PHONES.

And Donald doesn’t even have one.

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But THIS showed up in my hand recently. Android powered. Camera, video, and Facebook capable. Apps. Email.

Shhh. I think they are coming…

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Do *not* tell me the sign is misspelled. I know. I do not care. The apostrophes are in the right places. No, I do not know what possessed me to misspell the sign. Get over it.

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This. Brian (my sometime soon-to-be son-in-law) said, “It smells like a Vietnamese fish market.” He’s Vietnamese (well, he’s Canadian. That’s close, right?).

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We counted at least 11 in one clump, 7 in another, and one on the far side of the yard. I’ll let the reader do the research: Voodoo lily. Dracunculus vulgaris. It’s an amazing plant in the arum family. Don and I found it in the yard of a rental we lived in, back in 1983-84. When we moved, we dug it up, filled in the hole, and transported the bulbs. The Lily loves the yard we have now – it’s been transplanted 3x and spent one year in storage when we were homeless.

It blooms on June 7, every year.

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June 7, 1980. Donald & I got married. This is the first year we have hosted a “stinkin’ barbecue” to go with our anniversary, even though we have discussed doing it for years. And years.

We invited only family, so if you didn’t get an invite… Hey, we tried to keep it simple.

Chrystal & Brian came over. Then Don’s nephew, his wife, and their three daughters – all of whom we are just getting to know. I knew Don’s nephew back when he was just a little kid, but there have been long stretches of not being in contact, so this is really a sweet thing to have them come over and join us. The girls are adorable.

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I turned around, and my camera had been hijacked. Chrystal wandered around taking garden photos with it.

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A candid of Don (Brian’s legs in the foreground).

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Oh, thanks. A candid of me. Friend Kate is in the purple next to me.

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Awwww. Harvey candid.

We put the dogs in kennels because one of Don’s great nieces is terrified of dogs. Our dogs love kids, but between them, they weigh 160+ pounds. That’s a lot for a kid who is afraid of dogs.

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“Who could be afraid of me…????”

Isn’t that the saddest face, ever? And, actually, Chrystal spent some time introducing the dog-shy great niece to Harvey. Maybe next time, we could ease Harvey out into the crowd. Then Murphy.

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Why put our dogs into kennels when guests are at our home? Let me tell you why: it isn’t about our ego. We want our dogs to be safe and we want the child in question to have a good experience with dogs. Our dogs are spoiled. They can spend half a day in their little kennels while we party a few feet away. They have water and shade. the little ones pet them through the bars. It’s a much safer environment than having the dogs loose to beg for food, run after little girls who are running, and bark loudly (scaring kids and adults).

It’s common sense.

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Chrystal handed off my camera to the oldest great niece (10). I didn’t even blink. Chrystal acted as tutor, showed her how to wear the camera around her neck, how to use the settings.

I must be getting old. this didn’t faze me. $500 camera in the hands of a 10 year old I just met.

I know. My own kids just fell over, dead. I wouldn’t let them touch my 35 mm SLR (the one *I* dropped and broke). But I just let some random 10 year old handle my DSLR.

She took the photo of the log (above), a couple selfies that I can’t post because she is not my child (but I will send them to her), some random mystery photos (not sure what she was looking at – a hummingbird??), and one of the Voodoo Lily.

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That is a great shot.

Moreover, she decided she wants a camera of her own. *Score!* Child found an interest because formerly uptight adult person decided she was too old to be uptight anymore.

I am so glad I have dropped those reins. I think my grandkids taught me that: loosen up. You only have the now. Kids grow up too quickly. Cameras don’t cost as much as an ER visit. Or bail money.

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Next year, we may invite more people. It won’t be a landmark anniversary year, but we are feeling confident in our ability to host a small party. Don barbecued 6# of country-style ribs, plus a few hotdogs and hamburgers to order for kids. 3 kids, 8 adults. Nearly 90 degrees (WHEW!!!) outside.

I won’t bore you with the details of the wedding 35 years ago. But… There was a cattle drive that we all got stuck in. My niece (flower girl) interrupted the wedding vows to ask her mother a question. Don’s cousin arrived late in his beat-up car with the hole in the muffler. There was a dog fight. I banned everyone from tapping the keg before the vows, so my mother-in-law tapped the hard liquor. There was a salad bowl that got run over three times. Someone named Justin filled my car with rice (we never did get the rice out of the windows, so when you rolled or unrolled them, you could hear rice rattle around inside). The State Police drove by three time because they were having a party in Union. just 5 miles away. We all drove home (drunk) the other direction (except my in-laws). My maid of honor got sick in my sister-in-law’s car (no, changed her mind when they stopped to let her puke). My mother-in-law’s future husband got pulled over for DUI AFTER he spent another hour or so at the bar in Unity with the State Police. And it did not rain on my wedding because I asked God (begged, pleaded, bribed) for a nice day on June 7. It resumed raining on June 9.

And my mother thought the wedding cake was made with buggy flour because the trees overhead dropped all kinds of critters onto the cake before we cut it. And ate it, because my mom didn’t mention the bug part to us until the next day.

And my brother’s date to the wedding was named Dorcas. If you didn’t get that, you didn’t have a brother in the 1960’s who called you, “DORKUS!” all your life.

*** I highly do NOT recommend getting behind the wheel of an automobile when intoxicated. If I were to do it again, we’d have slept in the park and driven home sober in the morning. Driving home that night was among the STUPIDEST decisions ever.  I am ashamed to admit we did that. ***

 

DIY – Jaci Style

Quick! What do you do when your husband says, “Here’s a bucket of mixed concrete. I didn’t need the whole bag.”

Uh-

“Maybe you can make a bird bath,” he adds.

Uh-

Grab a bunch of roundish-rocks, a handful of rhubarb leaves, and haul the 5-pound bucket over to a bare spot in the yard. Pile the rocks in the center so they form sort of an inverse bowl shape (no need to be perfect) and place the rhubarb leaves (face down) on top of them, covering the rocks as well as you can. The shovel as much of the wet mix onto the leaves, patting the surface with the back of the shovel. (Wear gloves – I had some on when he handed me the bucket.)

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I put an old lawn chair over the wet mound to keep the dogs away from it. The stuff my husband used is a quick-set stuff you can buy at a hardware store for less than $5. It fills a 5-gallon bucket. He added enough water to mix it thoroughly and used half of it to set a post in the ground. The rest was my bonus.

It hardened overnight despite the rain – it was pretty much hard to the touch before I went to bed on Sunday. But then we had two days of rain storms and I didn’t get back out to it until yesterday.

003It wasn’t as heavy as I fear it would be, but I did need to lever it up enough for me to get my fingers under it to flip it. Some of the rocks fell out easily, but several were wedged in a little tighter.

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I actually had to use a screwdriver to lever three of these rocks out. The lip of the bowl is embedded with filbert shells, but that’s easy enough to clear off.

Or not. I found the rhubarb leaves aren’t so easy to peel out, either.

The self-help video I watched (after I did this, of course) made that step look easy, but then she added, “Or you can let Nature remove the rhubarb.” So maybe she had a bit of a problem peeling the leaves off, too. (She was making stepping stones and was prepared for the process with a bed of sand, a level, and damp burlap. I punted.)

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I stuck my foot into the photo for size comparison. It’s a nice-sized bowl. I got as much of the rhubarb peeled out as I could, but Nature will have to take her course with what is left. I’ll pick at the hazelnut shells, but some of them are probably embedded for the life of the bird bath (or whatever I decide to use the bowl for).

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I filled it with water after I noticed I had a hole in the side. I wanted to see how long it would take to drain out. It’s actually a slower leak than I expected.

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My mind has been running over this. If I was going to use the bowl as a bird bath, I would have to find a way to repair that. But if I were to use it in a home-made waterfall…

We’ve talked about building a waterfall feature in the back for years. There’s already a natural stone in place that collects a little water…

That will be another DIY post, and probably a long time from now. Meanwhile, I have a leaky home made bird bath, created with very little planning (as in, thinking on my feet).

Comments welcome. :)

 

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Pansies & nasturtium blossoms in a vase.

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Nasturtium breaking ground in the garden.

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Hummingbird visitor.

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She’s a coy one, always buzzing us when we step out onto the front porch, but disappearing if the camera comes out, There are about six hummers using the feeders out front, and I’ve been refilling one every other day. Anna’s hummingbird.

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Different female hummer. Anna’s hummingbird. I love this funky ceramic feeder I found at Goodwill – and so do the birds.

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There were four little fluffs following around a mama red-breasted Nuthatch today. She’s teaching them to feed themselves in the suet feeders.

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Friendly little fledglings – I walked right up to the tree and put my hand out. One almost hopped onto my finger! Came so close that I felt its feathers.

That is just so amazing.

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I took this photo to take down to the local bird shop. That squirrel is eating insect suet laced with hot peppers – all the things that are supposed to keep squirrels out of the suet!

*The Not Excited Category*

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I weeded around my bottle brush a little today and found a number of the leaves on the ground with ragged holes cut into them. Flipped the leaves over and discovered this.

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This is a Flea Beetle. No, it’s not a flea – it’s a beetle that resembles a flea and it can hop, but it doesn’t suck blood. It eats plants.

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There is, apparently, a lot on the Interwebs about these critters – and I’ve never even heard of them before! Wonders!

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Darling thing.

Weekend Photos

I spent an hour on my front steps, trying to coax the camera-shy hummers out of the rhododendron. I’d put the camera down, and they’d come out, chirping madly at me and buzzing my head and back. Bring the camera up to take a photo…zoom! They were off.

The result is: no hummer photos from the weekend.

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But there was this fungus…

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It was a very interesting jelly fungus.

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Cactus, wire, and a rusty hoe.

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Last year’s yucca canes.

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A baby spider on the foxglove.

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Dermestidae beetle (varied carpet beetle) on the peony.

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My licorice ferns

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And a strange u-turn in the skies.

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The airplane was at such an altitude that it had to be coming south from Seattle and was turning back north to Seattle.

Interesting.

 

I got sunburned. 020But I also got this whipped into shape for the summer, and the sunburn was worth it. No, not Murphy – I’ll never get Murphy “whipped into shape. He was just doing a trot by when I took a photo of the island. Handsome guy, Murphy, but it’s the flower bed I am proud of. It’s just about the last of the existing flower beds to get weeded and trimmed before I start on the new flower beds. It is also where I was working when I conveniently forgot that sunblock exists. OOPS.

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There’s a story behind this corner. We have a brown rat that has taken up residence under the house. I hate rats. Brown rats are somewhat less obnoxious than Norway rats (in that brown rats are a native species), but they are still a pestilence. This particular rat had an escape hole dug into the corner of the yard here. I buried it today. We’ll see how long before the rat digs itself out. Next weekend, I buy hardware cloth and bury it in the corner.

I dug up my (fuschia vulcanica?)(rubra grandiflora?) trumpet fuschia. I can’t kill it, so why not? I’ve grown to hate it. The hummingbirds love it. If it survives this location, it can stay. It grows 3-4′ in height, is very woody, dies back every winter. I have to dead-head all the old wood stems. It takes up a minimum space of 3-4′ wide. We will see who wins: me or the bush.

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I just had to take his portrait. He comes to the bird feeder by himself every evening. One lone, lonely, band-tailed pigeon.

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My husband bought the squirrel feeder for me two years ago. I figured out how to hang it to the tree this year (I took apart an old hanging planter, used cup hooks on the feeder and the chain from the planter, plus an existing nail in our dying pine tree. Squirrel (and jays) love it.

013I redid the black-cap border with a bamboo trellis. This year’s berries will be on the vines pointing eastward (the green). I will train this year’s vines to grow onto the bamboo & next year’s berries will be harvested there. Black-caps are native berries and my go-to favorite for standing and eating by the hands-full. I will be a little piggy if the blossoms all turn to berries. YUM!

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This just amazes me. This year, I purchased seeds and will expand the small spring patch of “poached-egg” flowers. Sadly, they are a spring-only plant and even the green dies back after the blooms fade. But: oh-my-gosh when they are blooming! Love, love, love! limnanthes douglasii010

Starflower. Trientalis borealis. It came as a surprise bonus plant with a maple my husband procured from the wild. This is the first year that it has bloomed in such profusion. I love native flowers.

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When my mother died, my father dug up all of her irises. He had relegated them to a gravelled spot in the shade behind his motor home. He hated irises; my mother loved them. I inherited them via the US Mail. This is my favorite.

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This is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. I can’t have a horse, but I still have my WARNING! sign. I paid a pretty penny for that sign. It guards my Russian sage. The chair provides a support for the sage (of sorts – the sage usually outgrows the chair by summer’s end. I have a love/hate relationship with the sage, but the bees love it and it isn’t too invasive. Like the fuschia, it dies completely back every year and I have to cut all the woody stems back completely before the new growth comes on.

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Can you say WOW? These are my two favorite rhododendrons. The fuschia one is a bush I have another love/hate relationship with: it’s placed directly in front of our front door & the steps. It is too large for the location and covers up the house number. I end up hacking it back every 5 years or so. It is a relatively new rhodie, maybe 20-25 years old? Just very poorly placed, but a stunner when in bloom.

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This rohododendron is as old as the house, I think. It’s 20′ tall, thick, healthy. The bumblebees – all of them, but especially the great big ones – love it. You can stand next to it when it is in bloom and all you can hear is the buzzing of bees. I hated rhodies in general until I met this bush/tree. This one changed my mind and heart.

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My baby hostas! I planted them … four years ago? Five? This year, I placed the mushrooms strategically: I can put slug bait under the homemade mushrooms (two flower pots) and not worry about poisoning birds and other critters. The slugs buy into it and leave my hostas alone (mostly).

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11 years ago, I planted a few day lilies in the grass out front. It’s city right-of-way, but not in danger of ever being paved. If you have a spot that you can’t really maintain but you need some color in… Daylilies. They are weeds. We keep these in line with the lawn mower. In return, they give us several weeks of summer blooms and a lot of low maintenance green.

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If you read my last blog post, you know about my crow that thinks he’s a raccoon. We have named him “Bones.” Bones brings a chicken bone by nearly every day and drops it into the front birdbath. It soaks most of the day until it softens enough for Bones to break into it and peck out the marrow. In the evening, I wash everything out of the birdbath so other birds can use it. Bones apparently thinks the birdbath is his own self-serve diner.

Ugh.

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Four years of neglect and my husband finally cleared the veggie garden space. We are going to have a garden again! He put a lot of sweat into this: blackberries and crabgrass had taken over. I’m surprised my rhubarb (center) survived! Very excited to have fresh veggies again.

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So this is my next project. I have all the flower beds in shape & only need to do a touch-up weeding project in them over the summer. This bramble pile, haven of the brown rat, and scourge of our landscaping – this goes. That’s a pile of Himalayan blackberries, noxious nightshade, and invasive English ivy. There’s also a variegated holly stump under there. Maybe a rat nest. I don’t care: the welding gloves will come on and I hope to reduce this to a new flower bed by summer’s end.

Wish me luck. I’m getting old for this kind of radical gardening. I’m starting on it the next nice day we have.

 

 

 

Warning: Gross Factor

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This. I came home to this. Bread floating in the bird feeder, murky water, and a chicken bone with the marrow pecked out.

Pretty darn sure that wasn’t a raccoon’s work. Not that we don’t have raccoons, but…

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This. The culprit. But this is an After photo. I didn’t see it bring the chicken sandwich in. I just cleaned up after it.

And a good thing I did, too.

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Mr. Spotted Towhee was waiting for a clean bath.

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Mr. Towhee apparently walks on water.

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He also falls sideways into the water. He was sober.

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He got very, very wet.

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Then the crow came back with more food to wash.

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I get the “why” when the crow is washing off undigested almonds it found inside a dog turd.

But if it’s going to carry the dog turd that far… couldn’t it just eat it out of my sight? Leave the bird bath for other birds?

And what was it with the chicken bone and the bread?

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Do crows drool?

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This has nothing to do with the post, I just thought it was a funny photo of a crow’s – well, er, um – bum.

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