Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summertime and the living is good

Where did June go? If I'm not at the computer writing, chances are I'm doing something like this:
Sorry for the teeny-tiny photo -- it's borrowed from Facebook.

I took the plunge last month and splurged on a new kayak and all the equipment. I LOVE it -- there's absolutely no buyer's remorse on this purchase. I even found a local paddling club that meets on area lakes once a week.

I also seem to be on a fitness kick. (Probably because I'm feeling great these days -- the migraines are on hiatus!) I'm on week 6 of the Couch to 5k running program! If it wasn't so dang hot, I would be running a 5k toward the end of the month. There's a 5k in Joplin this weekend, but it's a night run. With my balance issues, I have a hard enough time walking in the dark -- so running is probably a bad idea. Even if they do have glow-in-the-dark t-shirts for participants!

Just a glimpse of summer 2011. Lots of things are still on deck, including a week at Camp Barnabas, road trips and a few other developing things. Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grrrls Weekend!

^^Target Field -- from our Friday night seats!
After much waiting, planning and hype, Grrls weekend 2011 is now one for the history books. And what a great time!

Our hostess with the mostest was Brenda's genius sister, Alissa. She pointed out that perhaps it was a little weird that our "girls" weekend included not one but TWO baseball games, a "boy" movie (Hangover 2), beer and pizza. But we balanced it out with pedicures, shopping, s'mores with strawberry frosting and a LOT of laughter.

^^My pampered toes! I get a pedicure once in a blue moon.

Alissa planned to pick me up at the MSP airport and told me to watch for a maroon Ford Taurus. Easy enough, right? You'd think so. Right about the time she texted me she would show up, she did. She stopped the car in the second lane and waved, looking right at me, and off I went for her car. After trying to get the door to open, I took a closer look at the brunette in glasses and realized that, ummmm, it wasn't Alissa! Oh, dear.
I simply waved, mouthed I'm so sorry, tucked tail and RAN back to the curb. Not two minutes later, Alissa shows up. I approached her with a bit more caution.

The new Twins stadium is magnificent. I don't think there is a bad seat in the place. And there were almost no lines for anything -- because the vending was so well planned out. There weren't even lines for the women's bathroom -- which is important when beer is so easy to buy!

^^View of downtown Minneapolis from our Friday night seats. I used to work in the tall building on the right!
It was pretty neat to visit some of my old stomping grounds. I saw a lot of familiar places, and a lot of new ones. Can't wait for my next trip!

^^Brenda, Sara & I

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When hummingbirds attack...

OK, not really. But wow are the hummingbirds I've been hosting quite friendly. Or aggressive -- I'm not sure which! Unfortunately, I ran out of nectar yesterday AND forgot to pick up more today. So I have some angry hummingbirds stalking my patio, wondering when I am going to refill their feeder.

I've been trying to capture the hummingbirds with the Nikon. It's pretty challenging! Sometimes I end up with an empty frame, or a frame with just a bird tail in it. Other times, you can barely focus on the blur of hummingbird. I've had a few "almost" great photos. I either need a faster camera or slower hummingbirds!

^^ blurry. That could have been a great photo!

^^ This one's my favorite so far.
^^ Belly flop?

^^ I also like this one because it's capturing the motion!

Monday, May 23, 2011


What a night last night. And what a day today. Unless you live under a rock, you should know by now that Joplin, Missouri, was leveled by a devastating tornado Sunday night. As of this evening, the death toll was 116 -- making it the deadliest tornado in United States history since 1953.

Here in McDonald County, 40-odd miles southeast of Joplin, we were under a tornado warning for about three hours. Somehow, we missed the hail, high winds and tornadoes and only got rain, thunder and lightning. We are now flooded in (again) with more rain on the way. But it doesn't seem right to complain, when we are safe and sheltered here with food, water, electricity. Internet and television, even! (Although my local channels disappeared around 5 p.m. today and I missed the House season finale. Again, can't complain -- that's what reruns are for!)

I was in Joplin Saturday afternoon to stock up on paper for scrapbooking night at church and a few things for my upcoming "grrrls Hangover weekend." (Inside joke; we are NOT planning on having actual hangovers, just seeing the movie.) It's hard to believe that many of the places I drove by on Range Line Road are gone -- Home Depot, Academy Sports and WalMart. The hospital where a friend's baby was born 5 (or was it 6!?) years ago is the one that took a direct hit. Several people I know have lost everything, while others are fine with minimal property damage. Facebook has been quite amazing, with people checking up on each other, tracking down friends via other people's pages, and pages set up to coordinate recovery efforts.

If you can help via services or money, do it! If not, keep the Joplin people in your prayers, as well as the search and rescue folks, law enforcement officers and medical personnel etc. who are out there trying to find more survivors despite some downright nasty weather. God bless them all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More blooms

I was all set to brag about a fan letter I received at the Connection magazine office in tonight's blog. Yesterday, the art director let me know that there was a letter addressed to me at the office in care of the magazine, so I stopped in the office today, very curious to see who it was from and which story it was about. And if it was actually fan mail -- or perhaps hate mail from an angry reader.

Unfortunately, it was for a different story. I had humble pie for lunch. Oh, well!

It's chilly today, and we had some rain, but there was a short window of sunshine. Baxter and I took full advantage of it and took a walk. I even remembered to bring the camera and snapped a few photos. Gotta love the Ozarks!

This is the first coneflower that's "bloomed" in my garden. It's a little bit early in the season, or at least that's what I told myself -- it's kind of a sad, scraggly little thing:

Sad, huh?
The Cosmos is coming up awesome. This is the first year I've planted it -- and I am definitely planting even more next year! Here's what the mature seedlings look like:

I've also solved the mystery of "what IS that?" from this spring. I had about four plants sprout up in the garden & could not figure out what they were. I hadn't seen this plant sprout in my garden before, and I hadn't planted anything new in the fall. Now that the flowers have bloomed, I figured out it was a bachelor's button! I planted those seeds eons ago and they have finally thrived. Crazy plants.

And, finally, the clematis is flourishing this year! I cannot wait for it to bloom. With my luck, it will explode with blooms when I am on my Memorial Day weekend getaway!

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Flowers

(Disclaimer: these gorgeous pink flowers are long-gone. Hopefully, there will be another round of flowers from this azalea bush soon!)

April showers bring May flowers. So very true, as usual. The garden is exploding with green and goodness. We had a ton of rain, and then some hot weather, which made everything pop. Now it's been unseasonably cold -- but I can't complain too much, as we will be sailing into hot, humid weather very soon.

My days lately have been spent in front of the computer, typing away on gardening articles, a top-secret copywriting assignment for a Chicago design firm, and articles for the July issue of Connection magazine. And since I have a short attention span/tolerance for sitting at my corner desk for more than an hour at a time, there's also sunny breaks on the patio or out in the yard. I throw the ball around for Baxter in-between weeding out the flowerbeds.

Since I spend so much time on the computer and writing, the blog has gone on the back burner. I am considering making it more of a picture-a-day posting with "real" blogs here and there when life does take me out of the hollow and into the real world. There are a lot of exciting things coming up on the calendar: trips, projects, goals and adventures.

These seedlings are now thriving in the garden, along with some cosmos! I'm not quite sure if the bee balm will survive -- much less thrive. Time will tell, I suppose. The ornamental kale is all in containers and is growing a bit slowly. Hopefully they will be...well...ornamental by fall! I need to update my flower photos and document how well things are doing -- as well as what's not thriving. Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Connection

The May issue of Connection magazine is out & it's a really good one.

Check out one of my articles about the historical Powell Bridge on my portfolio.

You can also download the whole issue here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Drying Out

Above ^^^ the west creek crossing.
We survived the floods! Surprisingly, the water did not get much higher than in the video I posted on Monday. We got a lot of rain -- I'm not sure what the "official" measurement was, but it was around 10 inches.

Today, the sun is shining and everything is drying out. The creek is calming and receding -- the low-water crossings were crossable via pickup yesterday (although I would not have driven my car over any of them!). I even hitched a ride to town to pick up the May issue of Connection magazine, drop off some photos at the newspaper office, get my bones cracked at the chiropractor and stock up on coffee and other necessities at Walmart.

I've been busy putting things back in order -- moving drenched plants into the sun so they can get rid of some water, filling the birdfeeder, re-planting my azalea. I ran out and dug it up during the rains because the water was threatening to come up and drown it. Yes, I am a wee bit paranoid.

Some more photos of the flooding: Above^^^water overflow from the creek into Thomas Hollow Road, just east of my house.
Above^^^the overflow coming down the hill behind my house, through the pasture and into the road.
Above^^^Thomas Hollow Road (flooded) on the right, the creek on the left!
Above^^^the east creek crossing -- the debris marks how high the water came up.
Above^^^Baxter in place (for scale, you know) at the east creek crossing. Note how the concrete has shifted. Not sure how bad it is on the far side. Surprisingly, the county road department was out fixing the crossing early Wednesday morning!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Floating Away!

We are being washed away here in southwest Missouri. It's been raining since Friday, and the creek is rebelling. All I can do is watch (and move my car, dig up some plants) and take pictures and videos. The rain keeps on coming down.

I shot this video at about 9:45 am Monday, April 26. I figured I better post it while I still have electricity and an Internet connection. It started pouring rain again as I finished the video. I'm just hoping we don't break any records and that the water doesn't get any higher than my front steps (and into the house). Nothing to do except wait and watch.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Colder Weather

Talk about being "stuck in colder weather." The Zac Brown Band concert at Mulberry Mountain in Arkansas Friday night was, to put it nicely, a mess. And not just because of the weather (40 degrees, windy and misting is not the best weather for an outdoor concert).

I had a great volunteer opportunity come up for the concert. Because it's a national campaign and was supposed to be coordinated by a nonprofit organization, I hesitate to put the actual name on the blog. If you're a Zac Brown Band fan, you should be able to figure it out. Anyways, the opportunity meant I could sell my concert ticket and still get into the concert. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

I arrived at Mulberry Mountain around 4:30 p.m. -- the main gates opened at 10 a.m., and the gate into the concert area was supposed to open at 3 p.m. When I got there, they were very organized with the parking -- it was pretty painless, considering there were thousands of people there already and more on their way. (The fact that I could not find my car afterward was my own fault!) After parking, it all fell apart. There was a long line at the concert area gate -- an hour and a half after it was supposed to open. The line just got longer and longer, stretching out over the Mulberry grounds as the evening went on. The crowd had been expected to be about 13,000 strong if that gives you a clue about the size of the line. I'm pretty sure the food and beverage vendors and t-shirt sellers inside the concert area were just about as ticked off as the concert goers. Everyone was wet, cold, and at the end of their patience threshold. And I didn't even get the volunteer t-shirt I was promised. Not that I did it for the dang t-shirt but I was just not impressed with anything I saw that night.

Lucky me, I didn't have to stand in line -- I bypassed the line to go to my volunteer area. Which turned out to be two bare tables out in the rain -- no cover or light whatsoever. Nowhere to hang a banner (which was actually very cool, but nobody got to see it). The person representing the nonprofit was a no-show. There were about a dozen volunteers there, and we tried our best to do the mission we were there for, but it was kind of difficult between the weather, the ticked-off people STILL waiting in line (many who had been drinking all afternoon).

The concert organizers finally opened the concert gate at 7:30 p.m. -- a full half-hour after the concert was supposed to start. And Zac Brown didn't even start playing til about 8:30 or 9 p.m.! While it was a good show, it was nowhere near as good as it could have been (not to mention dangerous with the 30-40 mph wind and rain). I'm pretty sure ZBB won't be coming back to that area again, much less for that production company. There are a ton of complaints online about the way it was handled. I can't say I blame people -- most of them shelled out $40 a ticket plus $10 a car for parking. I know I am going to be wary of any even put on by this organizer in the future.

So that's one of the two volunteer experiences I've had go awry this week. What's that saying..."no good deed goes unpunished." Yeah, that would be it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Dogwoods are simply my favorite tree. Spring blooms, fall color, cool shapes. They have it all. Someday I will get around to planting one in my yard!

And of course no photoshoot is complete without one snap with Baxter in it! The pose is 100% his.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Full Bloom

Sorry for the absence! I got knocked sideways and upside down by a migraine last week and am finally catching up on everything that went on the back burner.

Around here, things are in full bloom! Yesterday, I mowed the lawn for the first time this season. Lots of goodies are popping up in the gardens. It's fun to watch things grow. I'll be sowing seeds in a couple of days -- we are inching toward the last frost date. I do have a few seedlings started in a tray -- bee balm, lime zinnia, ornamental kale and calendula. But. (Yes, there is a but.) I neglected to bring the tray in one night -- the ONE night we finally got a heavy, ground soaking, drenching rain. Needless to say, the tray and seedlings got watered very well. The seedlings have been drying out in the sun the past two days, and I'm happy to say that it looks like they are not only surviving, but there are a few more seedlings popping up! I dodged a bullet there.

The tulips didn't do so hot this year. Actually, they were kind of sad. I have more than 100 bulbs in the ground and had maybe a dozen actually bloom. Hopefully next year will be better! I did get a few photos of what I did have.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hello, April!

April's come in with sunshine and warm temperatures. I finally got to cross off a big item from my to-do list: finish a semi-new flowerbed.
I've neglected this spot in the front yard -- closest to the road -- for years. An old bed with just wild irises, I never really weeded it or made it into an actual bed with borders. Until today!
Here's the before, with the layout marked out so I could see what it could be. There were a LOT of overgrown, crowded irises in there. And weeds.
And now here it is with the irises (mostly) thinned out and spread around. I found yet another bunch of tulip bulbs that needed to be planted, and those are in there -- they should do well in the spot.
I'll probably put in a bunch of zinnias and four o'clock mix, as those love the full sun.
I suppose that now that it's April 2, I should sit down and finish my taxes. Fun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Out like a Lion

I truly think we are going backward in weather, instead of forward! March seems to be going out like a lion. It was supposed to be in the 50s today, and it didn't even hit 40. I know, boo-hoo. My blood has thinned out considerably since moving south. Even Baxter is not enjoying it -- he's been snuggling up to me more than usual, even when the electric blanket is on! Amazing, considering he was in the doghouse the other day. (That's what happens when you roll around in a rotting armadillo. Ugh.)
For those of you who can't wait to get your hands on the Connection magazine, there's a .pdf file now available so you can check it out. Be warned: it's a big file to download with 24 megabytes.
Just click here.

I'll be scanning and sharing one of this month's articles on my portfolio blog later this week. May's articles are taking precedence over almost everything else this week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Almost April

We are back into cold weather! I'm hoping my tulips (which are almost ready to bloom) survive this cold snap. We had a hard freeze warning for Sunday night/Monday morning but seem to have dodged that bullet. I have a box of goodies from Gurney's Seed & Nursery that is ready to be planted -- they shipped them a few weeks earlier than the "safe" date for my zone. The salvia and lavender plants are dormant bare roots and should be ok, but the pampas grass, butterfly bush and licorice mint must be planted -- yesterday. They will be going into containers this afternoon and I will just have to hold my breath that they survive in the front porch!

I got this awesome encyclopedia in the mail from GoGardenGoOnline over the weekend:
Nearly 800 pages of gardening knowledge!

And then I picked up the April issue of Connection magazine:

Spring is coming, even if it doesn't feel like it these days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carried away

No, not carried away by the wind, although it feels like that. I can't, in good conscience, complain about the wind, that is small potatoes compared to what the folks up north have gotten! Carried away by an out-of-control green thumb. I'm not sure it's because I've been feeling really good lately (knock on wood) or the writing I've been doing for GoGardenGo has inspired me to do more, but I am indeed doing a ton more this spring season.

All four flowerbeds are weeded and prepped. A new climbing rosebush is planted. The clematis is pruned back, trellises are secured to the house (and I have plans to add on to those). Seeds are waiting to be sowed, and I should have a shipment coming from Gurney's in a few weeks with some goodies! And I'm making a semi-new bed in the front yard. It's not brand-new -- there's a spot by the driveway that has a ton of irises and even more weeds, and I've been "meaning" to make that spot into a real flowerbed. For years. And this year, I'm doing it. I've got the perimeters laid out, stepping stones in place and need to weed and etcetera to pretty it up. Come summertime, I'm hoping it will be chock-full of zinnias and purple coneflowers! I'll be weeding and adding soil/compost tomorrow if the weather permits.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

Whew. We had a gorgeous spring day today, with temperatures hitting the 80s! After church, a catnap and finishing up some much-needed gardening, I finally got the motivation to sit down and scan some of my favorite articles that I've written for Connection magazine.

Wanna check it out? Lisa Florey

I weeded out and prepped two of the smaller flower beds today and planted a ton of gladiola bulbs. Can't wait for those to bloom! My main flower bed is popping:

The allium aren't doing as well as I would like them to (I should have divided them last fall!). I have a huge clump of daylily that desperately needs to be divided, as well as some great spots of purple coneflowers. So excited! I've made it a goal this year to not let the weeds take over. Of course, it will help if I stay home in June instead of going on a cross-country road trip!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Saturday is a day I will never forget. It was the first -- and hopefully last -- military funeral I've ever attended. A Monett native, Spc. Christopher Stark, was killed in Afghanistan, and his funeral was held at a park near where I live. Since it was open to the public and I felt that the least I could do was show support for the family, I decided to go. I'm glad I did.

If you've followed this blog, you know I've written about Westboro Baptist Cult (yeah, yeah, it should be "Church," but whatever) here and here. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court voted that the WBC's funeral protests were/are protected under the First Amendment, and I knew they would have their sights set on this fallen hero's funeral.

Apparently, so did a lot of other people in the Monett community. The family invited the Patriot Guard Riders to town for the private visitation, public funeral and private burial on Friday and Saturday. Dozens of law enforcement agencies stepped in to help with crowd control and to try to ensure a peaceful goodbye. The State Highway Patrol, Monett Police Department, and Barry, Newton and Lawrence County sheriff's departments also had a high-profile presence.

And while my blood pressure went up just thinking about the hatefulness of the WBC, and I kept an eye peeled for them -- I did not see a single protestor. Apparently, only a handful showed up, but they were kept far away from anyone who cared, especially the family.

It was amazing. Law enforcement closed the Jolly Mill Road that led to the private park that was chosen as the funeral site (how they "screened" people going in, I have no idea!). Nearly 400 Patriot Guard Riders escorted the hearse and family to the funeral. Hundreds of civilians, veterans and active duty servicemen showed up. There were flags everywhere, the sun was shining and there was enough of a breeze to make the flags stand at attention. It made me proud to be an American.

I snapped a ton of photos of the Patriot Guard Riders as well as a few scenes before the funeral.

There was a giant US flag that served as a backdrop for the speaker's platform.

After the funeral, I headed out to Monett and was amazed (yes, I have used that word too often today) at the number of people lining the highway holding flags.

I wish we didn't have to have so many military funerals, but if we must, I wish they could all be as patriotic, peaceful and supportive. Godpseed Christopher Stark, and may God grant your family strength and peace as they deal with their loss.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" :: Philippians 4:7

Saturday, March 5, 2011


You know it's spring when the lightning, thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches arrive. Last night, we had our first official spring thunderstorm. Watching a red blob move into my area, I was just thinking about getting up and unplugging the phone line that juices up my cable and internet.

Unfortunately, I was too late. Just like I wrote in Fried nearly two years ago, I took what felt like a direct hit. The lightning hit so close to the house that somehow it turned on my elliptical machine -- which runs off a battery. Baxter was not a happy camper. Neither was I, as the strike fried my cable and internet receivers. Oh, and my wireless modem. My old-school circa-1990s television, amazingly, lives on!

On the bright side, my phone company service guy came out within a couple hours of my "secretary's" call and fixed everything! Well, except the wireless modem. I'm on the internet via the broadband cable. And I'm calling the electric company first thing Monday to see about getting some sort of surge protector for the signal lines. I did have a $50 surge protector from hellmart, but it fried almost immediately. There has to be a better solution than shelling out money every time we have a lightning storm!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Green Thumb

You know it's springtime here when you spend more than half the time outside, just because it's absolutely perfect weather. I haven't cleaned up my kitchen from Tuesday's remodeling project. It's been way too nice outside. I have priorities...obviously!

I have full-blown spring fever. I got a head start on the gardening season by weeding and prepping my main flowerbed yesterday. All that's in there now are daffodils, daylilies, allium and tulips! I should have cleaned off the stepping stones before I snapped the photo, but you get the idea: Just a few more weeks and I can sow seeds and watch things grow. We've had 70-degree temperatures two days in a row now, and I'm getting spoiled. It's hard to believe there's snow on the ground in my home state -- and they will probably get at least one more snowfall before spring officially arrives.

But here -- here things are slowly beginning to bloom! I saw some daffodils blooming when I was running errands today. **Bliss** I also made two impulse purchases at Lowe's: a climbing rose and a bag of gladiolus bulbs. Both in red. I have to wait another two weeks or so before I plant the glad bulbs and also need to figure out the best spot for the roses.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello, Spring!

Ahh, the last day of February! It was a little chilly today -- if temperatures in the 40s are chilly for those of you reading this from up north! But spring IS on its way, if the daffodils, tulips, irises and alliums popping up in my yard are any indication.
This still qualifies as a tulip picture, honest! The dog just wanted to be in the photo and, well, I'm a sucker for that face. Look behind his right front paw! See -- tulips!

Of course, it wouldn't be spring without a snake "incident." I'm proud to report that a) I didn't scream or even squeal when I saw it and b) I even took a close-up photo of the little bugger I found in my front patio this afternoon. Apparently this guy hitchicked in through one of the potted plants I moved inside for the winter. At least, that's what I'm telling myself (because alternate scenarios include that snakes can get IN my house on their own or there are a whole bunch of baby snakes in there...shudder the thought).
A snake is a snake, and I ain't touchin that thing.