Saturday, July 31, 2010

Great Find, Hubsy!!

...while patrolling his vegetable garden this morning, Hubs' was able to get several spectacular shots of this Spicebush Swallowtail, basking among the foliage. Lovely butterfly, isn't it?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Such a Strange Summer...

... I just happened by chance to catch this lavender sunset a few days ago. Lately, it's been hot and dry. But suddenly, we had a dramatic sunset and some rain....prairie summers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Unexpected Combination... already know, I am the lucky recipient of extra plants from the Big Garden Next Door; for years, at "plant dividing time", I stand around looking pathetic and lovely extra plants come to live in my yard. Every gardener needs to find homes for their extras, as well. The Banana plant was such an addition; I got the bee balm myself (and it has spread all over the yard). But I like this photo: the South Pacific meets the American mid-west.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

After at least 5 inches of rain overnight...

....last Friday, construction equipment was flooded with water along a little stream near the Kohl's store where I shopped. According to Tom Skilling, our local weatherman, we had the wettest July on record and the 7th hottest. Most of the month it was a bit dry--right up until it rained that night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Other People's Business Again....

Last January, I noticed this bright blue ranch-style house on a drab cold wintry morning; it's amazing the transformation from the same vantage point with the change of the season. I did not realize the house and the sky are nearly the same color in the top picture: it looks like a 1950's real estate advertising fantasy. (The home-owners always keep the place looking colorful and seasonal.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grand Island, NE sunset....

...we found a pretty great place to pitch the tent for a night while travelling through Nebraska.
Grand Island has a little county park which was once a festival place for the German settlers back in the day; we have camped there several times, especially since non-electric sites were very reasonable. The park borders the town's "settler's" museum area, which is large; it contains old cabins, homes, a church and old fashioned stores and barns. We've never had time to go to the museum, but did capture this subset one lovely evening before turning in to our tent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

...If you turned your head, you could see this....

...and I still want my coffee! I am conflicted: I love these sights and adventures once in a while, but generally I enjoy my little routine back home in my plain vanilla little life. Matter of fact, plain vanilla is my favorite kind of ice cream. I have evolved a method of brewing coffee that can't be made better. So I really miss it when we actually do travel.

Sunrise Over Denver....

...peering out of the tent to the East, yes, Denver is down there. One of the prettiest shots and views from the 2005 summer near-death march to the mountains. Where's my coffee?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, adorable....

...just great!! Bloggsy--the 2005 Version. I would do anything to sit down, even having a picture taken!! We (I) discovered that the straps of the backpack were not soft enough; my shoulder and collar bones were making blisters ( !! ) That's why the classy towel arrangement. This was the second day of the hike.

Hubsy....the 2005 Model

...after a couple of days of difficult (for me) hiking, he still looks fresh as a daisy. This was taken in one of his favorite spots in Colorado.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Before there was "Barb-b-blog....

....we still did things. At an entrance to the Moffat Tunnel in Colorado in 2005, I decided that even I could point and shot this darn big Nikon. I like to take photos of infrastucture-stuff and this fills the bill. It was a misty evening; behind me there was a small settlement of old wooden cottages that served to house the people who needed to work or maintain the tunnel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Bug Hunt...

...Flower-Girl enlists the help of Blonde Guy on one of her legendary catch-and-release Bug Hunts. She and I, earlier, were lucky to catch the show as a cicada emerged from it's crispy brown shell. She knew about the shells, of course--the kids chase one another around with them all the time--but now she's seen the process. She knows, too, that the cicadas make the screaming noise we hear this time of year. I've also been teaching her how to hybridize the daylilies; she will receive several of my "crosses" from last summer to plant in her yard.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Surprising Newly-Weds' Activities....

...with many and varied interests, Amethyst decided it wouldn't hurt to understand how to go about changing the oil in the car. So, on the hottest evening of the year, the two of them were under the car, on the hot driveway! It was a dirty, sweaty job; currently they are enjoying cooler and more pleasant times on a N. Atlantic cruise for their honeymoon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The kids are all married off now....'s Blonde-Guy with L'il Pearl and Brown-Eyes with Amethyst; taken at the Celebration of the New Kitchen at the home of my niece, the Flower-Girl. It's time now for me to get busy, focus, get things done, stay busy, stay motivated, exercise, be creative, read books I've delayed reading, write books I've delayed writing, read the manual that came with the Nikon....ya know
wait for grandd.........c...h...(meanwhile enjoying the dickens out of having that little niece)

Spotted Cucumber Beetle...

...I should mention this to Hubsy, since it's a garden pest. It's a shy (camera shy) bright green beetle with black spots and looked striking as it nestled inside a vibrant orange daylily. Sort of like a rectangular green lady bug.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Reading...

Among the various activities this summer, including the recent wedding, gardening, biking and working out, I also like to read for pleasure. Last summer I made a moderate dent in the works of William Faulkner.
This summer started with "They Fought Alone" by John Keats (not, of course, the English poet). It tells of the experience of Lt. Col. Wendell Fertig, who commanded a major resistance effort against the Japanese on the island of Mindanao during WWII. Several hundred un-surrendered American soldiers (many had been mining engineers on the island prior to the war) as well as many thousand filipinos, improvised an active resistence during the period 1942-45.
My great-uncle was among them and one of a relative handful of Americans killed during the period; I am trying to learn as much as I can about it. ("Relative handful" does not include the thousands of American and British military and civilians who died in captivity, I should add.)
I've always enjoyed Robert Graves novels (like I, Claudius) so this summer I've got "Count Belisarius" and "King Jesus". A great storyteller with scholarly knowledge of the ancient world.
And I've got a recorded book of Robert Crais "L.A. Requiem", a detective novel I just happened to find. I've been taking long long walks as part of my exercise program; audio books are great for that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beautiful billowing cumulus thunderhead...

...visible in the Northern Illinois sky last Saturday enroute to the wedding. Pardon the light poles.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back to Bees and Beebalm...

Back to the Rehearsal....

L to R: A Bridesmaid, L'il Pearl's Mom, Flower-Girl and Mom AND Our Bride in her usual incarnation: studiously learning something from her lap-top, a textbook or else reading from a fiction book for her own amusement. (I am a book-junkie, too.) When she took her vows on Saturday afternoon, she DID NOT have a book in her hand, however; her shining eyes were full of light and smiles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

...I almost forgot I took this photo for Ruby Tuesday. My neighbor's prettiest daylily!

Our Bride's Mom....

...and dear friend.

The Flower-girl is charmed by Alice's Faery Garden...

...and wants her Mommy (an able gardener, as well) to make her one for her house. Every Faery Garden is an individual work of creativity; Flower-girl is now old enough to help make her's.

The Flowergirl and her Mommy... took three shots to catch the exuberant Flower Child in a half-way dignified pose; this one worked and Mommy looked lovely as well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Brown-eyes grows up...

...he confines his adventurous nature to occasional mototcycle and airplane rides (he pilots). He's on the right, with him is L'il Pearl's dad. Pearl and the blonde-guy were enroute.

Our Bridesmaids....

....and one little niece, making her second appearance as flowergirl in her cousin's wedding.
The young ringbearer, son of Chris' college roommates, arrived later. The kids got along perfectly and had a wonderful time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random photos from "Reheasal in the Garden"...

....a.k.a. our back yard; vitally important to the progress of the evening, our Bride, Amethyst and her father. Brown-eyes and Amethyst have known one another since high school, part of the same group of friends. It turned out the kids really needed this rehearsal even tho the wedding party is small. "Music....? oh, dear....", but it all came together beautifully by the time of the ceremony.

Happy Day 1.2

Mr. D's Happy Day...

...ordinarily, none of us would cheer the removal of one of the neighborhood's venerable old trees, but the big silver maple south of the Garden-Next-Door was a tragedy waiting to happen:
deeply "branched" with huge heavy limbs in all directions including over the house. It had rot in the trunk, was hit by lightning in recent years: we had a micro-burst a couple of years ago which luckily did not hit this block or the tree would have fallen. The new homeowner chose today, Brown Eyes' wedding day to have the tree removed, much to the joy of Mr D, who has wanted it gone for thirty years.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Portrait of a Big Sister.... we prepare for our "Rehearsal in the Garden" event this evening; I am told that Alice's Mommy was safely delivered of a lovely baby girl about 90 minutes ago. Alice, it is planned, will meet her tomorrow. (I know, but will not disclose the name on the blog). Ask Alice.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just who IS getting married, anyway???

...I've posted this image before, taken probably summer 1986. That's Baby Blonde Guy, our youngest and his acrobatic older brother, Brown-Eyes (for lack of a better blog handle); about 6 years old. So he's going on 31 now and will marry the Lovely, Brilliant and Talented Amethyst (her blog name and also her birthstone) on this coming Saturday. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bye-Bye for now....

...Alice has moved on to perhaps one of the greatest adventures she will know: the anticipated arrival quite soon (maybe Friday) of her new sibling; her wonder-world will never be quite the same, tho certainly more fun and interesting. As for our family, this week-end we will celebrate the Wedding of Our Older Son to yet another Amazing Young Lady! I did not know there were two such wonderful girls in the world, let alone to have them both in the family!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time to resume the circuit...

...for now, Alice is finished looking at the Faery Garden. She's ready to move on to the making of
Hollyhock dolls--tho she doesn't know it yet. One of those lost arts passed down to children in the days before the electronic wizardry they have now. (Tho I love my computer, too.) She seems to be most interested in the flowers that are at eye-level to her. Alice is a born entertainer; she can keep a roomful of grown-ups' attention while she plays with her toys, chatters--you should hear what her Mommy calls her "evil genius" laugh--quite a surprise.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Babies and Cameras....

...I noticed when my niece was this age that sometimes she did not appreciate those visits when I, eager for posterity, would follow her around with my Nikon, clicking away. It's a larger sized camera, for one thing; maybe it makes them nervous. Alice was just a bit like this; she glared little baby-daggers at me at one point and turned her face away from a shot or two. But the presence of the camera did not spoil her appreciation of the Faery Garden; the image above was the only time I asked her to "pose" for the camera by showing me the ceramic bunny in her hand.

High Quality Time and Entertainment.... took Alice about 10-15 minutes to thoroughly explore the Faery Garden, encouraged by 5 adults (one with an annoying, clicking camera!!). Mostly, she looked at and touched the garden "props": ceramic, plastic and glass houses, animals and "water"; later on, she will appreciate the plants. Alice already knows the names of some. She already understands about the "gnome" that moves about the garden; finding him is part of her garden routine (once she's had enough berries!). Across the driveway, at my yard, I have placed a large plastic toy T-Rex among the ferns and hostas; if prompted to go see the dinosaur, Alice will scamper over to point out his location. On Alice's suggestion, I have started moving T-Rex around the yard, just like her Grandma's gnome.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

She's touching "history"...

...Alice marvels at the small, pretty objects inside the white picket fence; she tries to name them and the colors she sees. The adults coach, encourage and smile. She does not now understand that the fence is a treasured family heirloom, made by her deceased great-grandfather when he was a boy--perhaps 85 years ago. The little fence was made by him as a gift for his own grandfather; maybe to demonstrate his developing carpenter skills (he was a professional carpenter, as it turned out.) So, the fence was first owned by Alice's ancestor, born likely in the mid-1800's; it returned to it's maker to be passed down to his daughter (our Gardener), spruced up by her Hubsy and placed here for the innocent delight of the little child. (Oh, and us.) American family traditions; one of the many reasons to have a Great Independence Day!

Center-piece of the Summer Afternoon Party...

...the past few year's, the Creative Gardener's been working on Faery Gardens: little patches of garden placed at attractive levels for children, perhaps. Using tiny varieties of hostas and other plants as well as delightful brick-a-brac and lots of imagination, minature worlds of fun come to life. The purpose of the day's gathering was to show Alice the new Faery Garden, hidden away deep in a secret corner of the Big Garden (actually, in a thin sliver of side yard, just outside the media room and next to the air conditioner unit; but since the border on the s.w. corner of the garden is so densely packed, you have to walk all the way around the house to reach it.) Remote, if you are 2.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just another sweet little expression image...

...and also, to show off this year's Major Construction in the Big Garden. The wood slices will serve as pavers for a path in front of the blueberry patch and behind the new Sun Garden at the east end of the yard. Those big spaces between the pavers will soon be filled in with wood chip mulch; it will look very rustic, I think. The sun-loving plants that were put in the ground earlier in the year are doing beautifully.

A look of Wonder and Awe?

...or perhaps just hopeful anticipation for the next blueberry to be popped into her mouth. Alice loves fruit, especially those berries and watermelon--and of course, chocolate, when she can get some. And she is reserved and dignified for so young a girl: try as I might, I could not get a picture of her actually eating the berry--almost as if she understood this was not as lady-like as she would wish to appear.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Here is our Alice and her Mommy...

...yes, I realize she is a bit---no, a lot younger than the Alice in the books and movies. Her Wonderland is a bit different, as well. She's only two and just coming to awareness of the life that she has and the way she fits into the world around her. And she is so fortunate that she is surrounded by real love and nurturing from her family, immediate and extended; oodles of humor, warmth, energy and intelligence. When she comes to visit Grandma and Grandpa at the Big Garden Next Door, she heads for the raspberry and blueberry patches in the backyard as soon as she can; she just eats a few as she's picking. You can see the evidence on the front of Alice's little top.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

All on a lazy summer day....

...the next few posts will feature a modern day l'il Alice in her own little Wonderland with her Mommy and Grandparents in the Big Garden Next Door---this is pretty adorable!

The Last Butterfly of our Season was Freed Today...

He is a spunky male version of a Monarch--see those little black spots on the under wings--that means he's a Boy. He was anxious t...