Monday, August 27, 2012

Spider, spider in the web..... and the threes

This AM out on yard and garden patrol I spotted a new addition to the front of the house, between the snowball and hydrangea shrubs, right over the bayberry bush.  A 6 foot by 5 foot spider web of magical symmetry and proportions.  This was a job for the bigger camera, not trusting in my smaller Nikon.  I was unsuccessful in capturing that entire web, that lacy intricacy did not show up.  But I did snap several great spidery shots and immediately posted to Facebook so that my California expert entomologist friend, Baldo would identify type of spider

Spider from belly side  with center
web criss cross to his left
I am still awaiting Baldo"s reply but I think it had to be a Steeler's fan because he definitely sported a black body with yellow pattern, his legs had a reddish tint.  Notice the past tense, because he is no more.  We watched him for quite a while and saw him move so very fast to catch the smaller bug that was caught in his sticky web and the bug was gone in an instant.  This was a very inexpensive 15 minutes of entertainment as we both stood looking.  Imagine how long this guy spent  weaving that huge web.  And how do they produce the  web netting?  There is a lot to question in this act of nature, and after I post I may do more web browsing, or Baldo may let me know more than  I can question.  This spider  was big  over an inch and a very full body and had a  very long reach with his legs, if that's what thy are called.  There is likely a entomological term, but they are legs for this post.  We considered letting him stay in place, maybe he would eat mosquitoes which are reappearing with the reappearance of our warmer temperatures again.  But when  Jerry said, "we don"t know what he you want to keep him?" I knew it was curtains for the spider. 

Here he  goes head first down the web

 I am not squeamish about them, but I am very allergic to spider bites and watching this guy's actions gave me pause.  Fortunately I did not step that way to trim the snowball bush, I'd gone to the other side where I could more easily reach the back or I'd have been entangled.  It was on the return trip from mission accomplished of the offending branches into the house siding  that I caught this artistic endeavor.   

He seemed all too eager to show his belly while in the web.  In fact all I got were side and belly shots, until.....we sprayed him with spider shot from the can.  He teetered and tottered in his web and then it was all over curtain call for the spider and the web.  The web was very tacky and sticky and Jerry used  a rod to dismantle it.  Even that  caught the sticky. 

Another belly shot, a bit fuzzy in focus
We did put him on cardboard for  the viewing and that way I was able to finally capture his top side up.

Repose of the Steeler fan Arachnid
If you saw the photos on Facebook, sorry for the duplication,  but I am  posting  near the phone awaiting a call from a plumber.  This is the 2nd day of the three's.  You know how things happen in threes, or so I have heard.  Well yesterday  after I showered Jerry heard the downstairs  toilet gurgling....a quick check found it filling.  I went off to church and he said he was puzzled  but  thought he had it.  He did not.  Long story very short, we have a clog in one of  the two sewer drains from the house.  Jerry rented a snake and has dumped drain unclog to no avail.  So although we have  running water, we cannot use it.  We  figured we could move the motor home up the driveway out of the shop and  use it for toilet and running water--hah, wrong again.  It has only been a couple weeks, but for some reason  it would not start, the battery is not charging, and Jerry could not locate a relay!  Bingo  that's the third thing, the relay, and there  should end the plague of the threes. 

Well, we wanted to avoid triple time pay for a plumber on Sunday  and so we waited until Monday and we are still waiting.  The plumber who said he's be here by noon is two + hours late.  I only hope we are not started on a second phase of the three's. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Goodwill hunting

Shelf of some  birds and other collectibles
Kat Mortenson mentioned the subject of this post today, so I lifted it because of timeliness; yesterday I delivered a back seat full of stuff to Goodwill, the same pile that has been sitting and growing in the guest bedroom for a couple weeks, since company departed and I have had the clean out itch. I even took it for a ride the other day running errands and forgetting to drop it off.   My purging  mood coincides with our upcoming city wide sale over Labor Day.

 I personally do not ever hold a garage, yard or estate sale because I have no patience to sit all day to earn a pittance. This means I donate lots to charity efforts and leave the selling to them.    I much prefer being on the other side of the hunt, the hunter rather than the prey, if you will. I have no patience for bargain hunters who haggle for sport--if something is marked $1, they want it for 50 cents, if it's marked $10 they want it for $5 and so on. I much prefer shoppers to hunters. I have never been one to quibble barter like that and so do not get along well where haggling is expected. If I think something is too expensive or more than I want to pay, I just walk on by. Not so with hagglers, who consider it a sport. Sometimes they are quite insulted when one does not engage.

Now to me a sale is different from an auction where bidding is quite fun.  But a sale is a sale, and the most I have done is ask, "Is this your best price?"  Sometimes it is sometimes, I am surprised by a discount.

Guest bedroom where there is once again room to
 walk by the foot of the bed
This imminent sale is an opportunity to remove the huge love seat from a guest  bedroom and truck it to our Church where they will host a sale that weekend.  The love seat belonged to MIL and I thought it would fit in the guest bedroom and offer guests  a place to sit  in their own privacy.  Despite Jerry's warning that it was too big, I insisted and  it was lifted and shoved into the corner.  He was right and the loveseat crowded access to the far side of the bed for almost two years.  So I admit (these things take time) that he was right and get it out of the house.

The thrill of the hunt is something that still surfaces from time to time and Friday after shedding at Goodwill, I took the time to browse inside.  Hey, you never know what you will find and I had time to kill, I am after all Teofil's granddaughter, so maybe I need it someday and will be happy I have it.  Read about Teofil elsewhere on this blog, and at
Friday's Goodwill finds
I spent a whopping $5 at Goodwill and added  four to my collection of birds and one angel.   The most expensive is the lower right hand, robin, "Made in Occupied Japan" and for which I paid $1.49.  The angel is plastic of a sort, but interesting and will play in the angel band at Christmas, she  was Made in Hong Kong.   I believe the upper right duck is Lefton China which is often not marked and which has a Lladro type finish.  The Mallard is ceramic but painted brightly, no maker marks, but I recognize it as likely from the 1950"s or so.  And the white swan is bone china.  Not a bad gathering, and  I was pleased as could be, nothing too big and there is room on the bird shelf with my others.  

1973 Musical Owl plays
Sunrise Sunset
When we moved here and became even more avid bird watchers, I began to notice that I did have a small collection of birds to which I have added over the years.  I was thinking it started back in 1973 when Steve gave me this musical owl which plays Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, but then I reached onto the shelf and saw my oldest bird--a yellow plastic bird whistle that I had as a child.  It holds water and then makes a lovely tweeting sound as you blow on the whistle and the water gurgles. It kept me very entertained back in simpler times.   My grandparents had canaries and I remember loving the songs, so they found this plastic whistle for me.  It has to be about 63 years old and still works.  The plastic markings have faded and there is no longer different color paint on its beak or legs, but still there it is. 

We just never know when  a possession will lead to a collection, but over the years of  gifts, inheriting, auctions, estate sales, and thrift and Goodwill hunting we can build collections.  Earlier this week another blogger asked if I have any collections that are out of hand, not yet, although Jerry might disagree. 

My old childhood canary whistle

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When you start to notice things

Door off the sun porch, 4 season room has been bugged
 A friend and I have gone buggy this year, she knows who she is....2012 is our  self proclaimed year of the Lady Bug .   I'm not sure how it all started, maybe with the pins, maybe with a comment maybe because the bugs are red and black and that was our high school colors and we will be celebrating a 50th High School Reunion in PA in September but it has been fun and we still have months to go.  She even found a ladybug hose for me, which is quite welcome outside this year where we had to water more than ever before in a MN summer.   

Now others who have become aware that I will buy most anything tasteful, because we are  rather diva-ish in our ages, with lady bugs on it are helping me, looking out  for all things ladybug decorated.   A long time dear friend  from CA recently sent me unannounced two pair of great ladybug socks, one pair to share with my other buggy pal because Sandy knows I like to share.  That generated a comical episode as I dashed off an email thanking Carlie for the socks.  My gratitude set her to head scratching because she had not sent me any socks since  winter when the 3 "monkey" matched style buggy knee hi's arrived, perplexed, she  emailed right back, "I must be losing it...."   My quick look at the package receipt showed it had been purchased by Sandy in CA and so the fun began.  Confusion and laughter. Jerry pitched in to say, "..don"t admit anything, just let her wonder until we get to PA in September." But I'd already fessed up.  After I called Sandy she explained she'd sent  two pair, one for my friend which was interesting because that is what I thought I would do when I saw two duplicate pair, but at first I wondered why Carlie sent me two pair.   

For a short respite I had given up, I could find no more lady bug things at least nothing I thought tasteful enough to  add to our mutual collections.  So I painted a couple stones to send her.  I have not painted stones for many years, something I did back in CA when a group of friends mutually declared we would only give home made gifts.  Wanting to indulge in something different, I painted sayings and roses on stones. 

Now our lady bugs, are showing  up in the most unexpected places.  I mailed a herd of bug items off  forgetting I had something else on order which arrived the day I mailed the first group.  Our lady bug phenomena has gone to another level, analogous to what happens when you buy a certain color or model vehicle and  then see it on the road.  Did you ever notice how that happens, suddenly that car is all over the place. Where before ladybugs were hard to find amid decorative items, they are now showing up. 

This is one of our favorite brands of ice cream.
And the Lady Bug flavor was irresistible
Caramel and chocolate swirls, two delicious additions to vanilla
  Last night I served  Lady Bug ice cream.  I have no idea why the Cedar Crest brand so named it and I cannot send this to Carlie, so she will have to just see the photo on this post.  This was new to me and I am wondering how many more lady bug related or named items will show up in 2012, Year of the Lady Bug.  I do have another ladybug project underway which will take  time as I am adjusting and tweaking a design.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wall is done and all's wall

Just a couple buckets and a barrow to take
The great wall of Morrison 2012 is complete
Yesterday was the finale of our 2012 construction with the ruts in the lawn repaired, reseeded,  hay thrown to keep it damp and the wall looks on silently.   We seldom to never use the bottom patio which is off our downstairs TV/rec room, the door you see to the far right in the photo. So I'm thinkin' that maybe next year will  add a big gazebo and a place to sit and enjoy the lower back 40.  I know if I mention this  the more practical side of this household will ask me just when we would sit there since we sit little while we are home and we travel 5 months or so out of the year.  That is more logical and then there are the MN state birds aka mosquitoes which discourage outside sitting, that is why we have that finished 4 season room that you see jutting out from the house above the wall.   

Side of the wall
The crew did a great job, cleaned up after themselves and we are completely satisfied.  It was a good solid week of work for 4 men  and sometimes only 2 for a couple hours.  The entire neighborhood has been coming over to admire the great wall.  I suppose we should host a party there below and let everyone get an eyeful. 

I was surprised that all the river rock which is atop each layer has a whitish cast, but the landscaper assured me that will wash off when the rains come or when the dust settles off.  He said that depending on where they purchase the rock, the shadings are different ranging from this whitish to  reddish to a blue tone.  Oh if he had given me my choice I"d have taken red or maybe blue, just to see the different effect. 
Here they  spread hay over the newly reseeded back
lawn where the bobcat had grooved ruts

This is one project that ran almost exactly as planned once they started, which was a month later than expected.  The other evening I was sitting out back and watching a flock of robins gather in, almost meet and discuss and then trot up and down the  equipment ruts in the lawn.  I have not a clue what mesmerized them but as we watched the flock divided up went all along, both tracks parallel and  one after another side by side, back and forth a couple times,  wished I'd captured that photo.  There is always something amusing to see watching birds.

Scattering hay over new seed at driveway end
  I was very impressed with the clean up the crew did of the driveway  and even the front street.  It reminded me of my Polish grandmother mopping herself out of the kitchen to go to mass on Sunday mornings.  Neighbors commented on how these guys clean up after themselves.  Our next door neighbors are still in upheaval with their move in tasks and mentioned how they envy that our project is done while their entire front lawn is still  a disaster from the digging to hook up to the city water and sewer system.  They have just had their  driveway and sidewalk redone where the concrete had been damaged.  I teased her and said, that we had to have something torn up too so that they did not get all the attention on the cul de sac for construction or destruction.

Shoveling off the dirt and debris from our side
driveway as the crew completed street
Jerry had no complaints about this crew's workmanship which is a big deal.  Usually there is something that does not quite measure up to the way he would do things or not.  This is a local construction company, Beuhler and they have a solid reputation around town.  Yesterday as they were tidying up and loading the last of their debris, I snapped some photos that have Jerry caught in the act of his overseer role.  It almost looks as though he was watching closely with a baseball bat ready to use it if there was something not to his liking.  You can see him posed in the photo below overlooking the end of the project.   The "miniature" lilac bush, Miss Kim took a good whacking out of the  bottom of herself and I will have to get in there soon and  trim her back.  For several years she has needed an adjustment and we never seem to get to her, so this is a good opportunity.  Miss Kim does not know that she is supposed to be a miniature, planted by the previous owners of this place, she thrives and is way overgrown.  She is to the left in the photo below of Jerry at the top of the wall.  

Overseer with big stick

New wall, something to be happy about.  New trellis also below the house.

It's wall over a transformation  Especially when compared
to how it looked just a week ago,  hooray!
This is how it used to be, it had seen better  days. 
  Those solid blocks of Winona stone were all hauled off, which seems a
waste to me who loves to repurpose things, but no one wanted them, least of all us.
And last as  I harvested more apples from the backyard tree, I saw this wonderful bird's nest, sans eggs or occupants.  There is always something going on in or back yard.  Maybe I can catch other critters and see what they think of the new arrangements.   
Birds nest in apple tree. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Great Wall and apples

Day 2 the semi delivered  the blocks for the wall
If you have seen my Facebook postings, you know that we are under major construction mode again with the back wall of Morrison being replaced and our stimulation to the local economy goes on.  Similar to every other construction project, once it is done it will all be worth it but mean time there is a dandy mess.  A new  highway appears across our back 40 carved by the man  on a Bobcat.  

He assures me  that after it is all done I won"t see a trace of it, so I assume that means it will be  smoothed, patched with seed and sod and once again smoothly green.  They apologized for disturbance of our once bucolic backyard, a haven for birds, fox and deer.  I can imagine the conversations amongst the critters in the evenings, "whoa!  What goes here..., the wall is down, what's up with that."  After day 1 I did see deer tracks along the dirt pathway.  That stymied their ascent up to the front so they detoured around the neighbor's who watched them hesitate from her sunroom.  She told us about this the next day, said it was very comical as three deer, a doe and two fawns ascended the back hill and began to observe almost quizzically before shaking their heads and taking another route.  This is the home where the deer...roam as long as it is not near to my roses.   
Block and dirt mover and road builder

These men work hard and have had two younger grunts at all times but the straw boss and the other seasoned man do not have a need for a gym at all, hauling and lifting 80 pound blocks keeps them in tip top shape.  The 50 year old did admit today that he did not know how much longer his body would continue at this labor.   That's the dilemma of those engaged in hard physical work, the physical labor takes its toll on the body and unlike politicians, bureaucrats and those who have sedentary jobs, the physical laborers usually have a shorter career span which raises their ire when talk of extending the retirement age arises.  All well and good for the sedentary but not so for the others and unfortunately the ones with the bright ideas know naught about hard exhausting work.  but that's another soap box.
At the end of  Day 1, much was torn down
Rut highway across the back 40
 The wall construction  has saved $$ on bird seed  because the birds have been discouraged  from hanging out at the feeders until after the crew leave.  This one chirping sparrow was not dissuaded.  Sometimes the cardinals fly by with an over the shoulder glance, but they are skittish about noises so they move for other quieter food, available at  neighbors feeders.  Te natural grazing is abundant in summer so I am not concerned that the birds are going hungry.  We usually fill our bird feeders twice a week but this week only once and you can see there is still plenty of seed in this feeder.  About 5:30PM the gold finches return in mass and fight at the thistle feeder, and the wood hatches and chickadees return and give dirty bird looks toward the house.  Angry bird faces are comical.  
The bird is called a chirping sparrow

Day 1 wall destruction  Tossing 80 pound blocks like bean bags

Day 2 making sure the drain lines are perfect and the walls are straight
One benefit of this nasty heat that has enveloped us along with the entire Midwest, while damaging the corn crops is that the apples seem to be having a go to town season.  We have two small apple trees in our back yard and have not ever before harvested more than an apple or two.  Of course we do not work these trees, leaving the apples to do their own thing and letting the squirrels and deer feed on the small round green globes.  But this year, weather aside we have a bumper crop of apples.  And they are delicious, juicy and just right.  When I was a child we had a huge crab apple tree in our backyard that hung  alongside the roof outside my bedroom window.  Before I developed an adult like fear of heights I would crawl out the window onto the roof and get crab apples which I tossed at the neighbor boy; I wonder whatever happened to Harry Roper.  He was older than me and if he knew I was doing that he never told on me.  I know because  my mother would have walloped my backside a good one.  So I like looking up into the apple trees these days and thinking about those antics as well as anticipating biting into  a juicy apple.  Notice that waspy looking nest in the tree something we did not see until I took this photo...
Just two of our great apples this year.  I am
very pleased with this photo, also on my
Facebook page
Clump of apples on limb

Apple tree with abundance

End of Day 3
It is about time now to photo the results of the end of Day 4.  They will not have this project completed until Monday but this shares on blog land what has been my Facebook focus this week...and  already I am considering what to do next, like the addition to the lower brick patio so that we can enjoy this wall....Jerry is not listening to  me.  We could come out that small back walk out door from the TV/rec room and sit and watch the fireflies out along the pine trees.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peevish with Blogger, spammers and other trivia

Lately it has been a chore to post  Blogger, so I am wondering WTH is up...fellow Blogger users are you having the same trials?  I know one is because she posted so.  Rolling and stuck screens and  "not responding"  error messages.     Blaaaaaach!  I have been far too busy lately to share much  but now our guests have departed (hallelujiah) and some semblance of what used to be normal returns.  Outside the wall de and re construction is on day 2. 

And another thing, I was convinced to remove the word verification for those wishing to comment on this blog direct after several other bloggy pals said it was cumbersome and discouraged comments and possibly blog traffic. Ok so it has been gone.  My traffic has not increased and some still send email, not using the net direct.   Lately though I have been getting  strange occasional spam messages.  These comments  are usually over  complimentarytoward my writings but written using poor grammar, spelling and cumbersome phrases.  They are always posted anonymously and then invite me to see their blog.  Well I do not click on their blog link and mostly I am "flushing" these, thank you for the term and advice, Ticklebear.

I suppose these are relatively harmless net surfing's and so far no damage done.  I am considering reinstituting the must be approved for all comments before allowing them to show on the blog.  That would preclude these strange  postings. 

Today I received an internet scam warning from our ISP.   Every time I read one of these I am amazed at the gullibility of folks.   It did not advise the source but basically, you receive an email from someone who claims you have ripped off, invaded or violated their email and taken their photos.  This is being targeted toward college students and the University of Wisconsin has published a warning on their website.  Apparently when the unaware try to respond by clicking on the email or replying, they are hacked. This sounds like a regurgitation of the scheme last year using fake Facebook the way, beware on Facebook game sites and responses.  I am a heavy user of Facebook but easily ignore games and applications there.  Here is the site at Blaze that describes this scam on hacking....

Months back I got an email alert thanking me for sending  $60 via Pay Pal to Shane Peterson.  Whoa, sez me, I didn't do that.  So I checked my Pay Pal account online which did not show such a payment.  But feeling a bit uneasy, I  called Pay Pal and the phone rep. immediately knew why I was calling. They had over 3,000 such calls the same day for what was a giant spam scam out of San Jose, CA  that  most Pay Pal account holders received.  It was to entice the unwary to respond and there by be hacked.  What a strange online world!  I use my delete button easily and especially with emails from those I don"t recognize.  If it is  legitimate they can contact me again or by another method.  I have never been a fan of the SPAM in the can and will run the other way if offered the same, so I suppose the very word "spam" and "scam" are enough to cause my nose to turn up.

There is a proliferation of online sites to educate oneself about the dangers including this onguard on line which shows a dot gov address, presuming it is government sponsored.  I do no know about that but it does share information for the uninformed.

There is also a site that identifies the Top 10 Internet scams and how to ignore them...

Be safe out there....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ben Franklin nails it

Family visitors, from CA
"Guests like fish smell after three days...." Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac  along with  other wisdom and wit.  I have known fish to smell on first contact and the same with company within the first day.  On the other hand, I have known fish without any odor and company that could move in and stay as long as they wanted... This visit from family is a mix. 

I call this,  Checkin' it out online!
Jerry's younger brother and family (wife and 13 year old daughter) are here from Riverside, CA to visit their  95 year old mother who is in the local nursing home.  It is their first visit in four years so it is  a good thing they came to see her, although I bet she makes it to 100.   Both BIL (brother in law) and wife are high school teachers and exemplify why there is limited hope for education.  they are dedicated  liberals, a union supported lifestyle and of course political discussions are off limits here for this visit as we are more conservative.  But somehow these opposing viewpoints bubble into conversation.   and then it  truly becomes a fish of a different odor. BIL preaches equality, or tax the rich and make it go farther.  What?  Farther than where?  This stinks.  SIL is a nice person who finds life amusing all the time,  chatters constantly and translates whatever is happening in front of her simultaneously to whoever is nearby.  Sometimes this is amusing sometimes not.   BIL well, he kind of ambles while the wife flits.  Everything is an adventure, an experience to SIL.  Like the clothes line I use becoming a photo op because she"s never used one and thought Sophia (daughter) must experience this. We've done some interesting things like the trip to the Shrine of Guadalupe in the hills of La Crosse, dinner at Tom Sawyers with cheese curds and home made chips, and local sights.   But this is the small town, not big cities, they will compensate by spending nearly a week in Chicago from here,  really.  To each their own .
Then there is their 13 year old who is a very quiet big girl.  They do everything in a trio, or in a herd, my term.  The niece masks her boredom well but when I suggest that they might consider bringing along a friend for her on travels, they gasped.  What and dilute attention?   I feel some sympathy for this child forced to hang with old people for two weeks and that includes us as well as her 50 something year old parents.  We see underway another stifling of any independence or ability to think or fend for oneself.  Mom  hovers with consistent advice of what to do say, not do,  even where and when to sit.  This morning I turned my head to laugh when mom said to her, "Sophia say good morning to everyone...."  "Good morning everyone" responds Sophia.  Is this  the new way that families behave or is this a late stage parenthood clinging to adolescence to perpetuate and define itself?  I admit I do not understand it this business of being the child"s friend, their cohort instead of their parent.  But then I'm done with all that.

I am tired because the weather had been unbearably hot and  this visit  has meant  my thinking for three additional people who are bewildered at best and self confident in ignorance at the worst when visiting the SNF  and MIL, what to do/not do/ and so on.  Gads, you are supposed to be educated people, read up on dementia.  One of SIL's funniest  and yet sincere questions was  "how do they float" when seeing the huge  barges filled with grain being shoved down the Mississippi.   Some of these questions need no answers.  We did have a  fun time at the Winona Great River Shakespeare Festival Saturday evening where I laughed for almost two hours at "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged" a spoof, a farce and all over ribald hilarity. Jerry opted to stay home and spend the evening watching Olympics, but I did enjoy it. 

To top it off I had a dermatologist appointment today to remove a growth from my left shoulder top, not a cyst, not a mole, nothing malignant they are sure, but an unsightly and uncomfortable lump that was unsightly and  annoying.  I can spend the rest of the day icing and lounging, chilling.  We have plenty of room in our home, beds and baths for all, but some how I feel older when it comes to tending to it all......maybe that's it I'm older.  It's  not easy and so it goes.... or I need to adopt Jerry's attitude, "expect nothing and not be disappointed..."
Here stands Sophia with 3 generations of underwear,
hers, her mom's and her grandma"s (MIL) whose laundry
I do while we are at home not traveling.

I conclude this post withhout further airing of dirty laundry!