Summer of the Hummer!

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A few evenings ago, as I was sitting in a chair in the living room, I noticed a little humming bird sitting atop the shepherd’s hook that holds a pot of petunias on the back deck. As soon as I grabbed the camera, the little birdie just *knew* I was coming and took off!

Well, I sat back down, and as the dusk was beginning to settle in for the evening, the little hummer appeared once again on the bracket. I slowly picked up my camera, and shot the picture through the French doors of the dining room. If you look carefully, you will see the tiny bird sitting at the top!

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As I watched, the rain began to fall rather hard, but the little hummer was unfazed by the weather. In fact, that little hummer sat out there until it was nearly dark! The above picture is of the potted petunias.  I make mention of these because, in my ignorance, I placed them previously on my south-facing front porch. The only problem there is that the porch is quite shaded by a stand of trees in the front yard. When my parents came to visit at the beginning of July, my poor petunias only had one lonely flower! After rectifying my mistake, the plant took off and is full of beautiful purple, white, and red flowers! Hard to believe my northern exposure back deck supplies so much more sunshine!

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 This summer has been so surprising as far as hummingbirds go. I usually made about 2 cups of nectar for them in years past. This would last about a week, and I usually ended up dumping some of it, as I changed it out once a week.

This year, I am making well over a quart of nectar twice a week! Those little hummingbirds seem to have multiplied and brought the whole family with them! I have never seen so many before. This morning, as I was relaxing in the hot tub, I saw four hummers feeding on the back deck feeder.  This was a first!  And the NOISE! Hummingbirds tend to be very territorial, and when another comes near, they often squeak and flutter and dive bomb one another! It certainly provides a great deal of entertainment…..rain or shine!

Wordless Wednesday

I thought perhaps I had better do a little explaining about my entry today!  The previous entry in my blog is about our little adventure to Niagara Falls, New York.  Although it is said the views of the falls are better on the Canadian side, the American side is pretty impressive, too!

As one follows the path to the falls, there is one point where there is perhaps only about 5 feet separating you from the crest, shown in this picture. I only wish I could add the awesome sound that should accompany this picture! So, here it is, the crest of the falls!

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More Adventures in the Niagara Frontier

After our relaxing stop along the river, we were feeling rather hungry. Mark and Ben had seen advertisements for the Texas Roadhouse Grill , so we made our way there. Although the place was loaded with cars at about 3 in the afternoon, the overall experience there was not stellar.  The fare was OK, but not outstanding.

After eating, I popped over toBJ’s, (which happened to be located in the same shopping area) and picked up some groceries that we needed from there. As an aside, they carry their store brand (Wellesley) red potato salad that is SO good! Of course I picked up a container of that!

Off we went……this time, headed for one of the wonders of the world…..

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Yes, even though I have seen Niagara Falls so many times, it still remains a great wonder to me!

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Just look at these little sparrows, hanging out just a few hundred feet from the falls! They were so complacent, I am surprised no one stepped on them! They were taking little dust baths and picking up tiny pebbles.

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Looking across the Niagara Gorge, there is Canada! About midway down the picture is a ledge where many yellow raincoat clad people are overlooking the gorge.

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And here is a boatload of folks riding up to get a closer look at the Falls. (and getting VERY wet in the process!)

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As the boat cruised closer, everyone nearly disappeared in the mist.

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After walking around the park awhile, Ben and I began to head back to the truck. I stopped to take a couple of pictures, and while I was stopped, a woman came over to me and gave me one free adult admission to the Cave of the Winds.  After discovering it was handicapped accessible, I told Mark he and the kids should take the tour! Mark decided this sounded like fun, so he and the kids went over and got their yellow ponchos so they could descend.

I had NO idea what this excursion was like, but when they recited the events that transpired,  I was nearly ready to get out and *kiss* the ground! Seems the tour begins with an elevator ride down 180′. Did I ever mention my claustrophobic tendencies?  As Mark went into a full description of the adventure, I was so glad no one insisted I tag along…..I think I would rather have ridden the roller-coaster at the theme park earlier in the day!

As I was walking around a bit, I came across this statue with the beautiful arch in the background. The statue commemorates the Yugoslavic inventor, Nikola Tesla. The arch behind him is  a re-creation of the original entrance to the first hydroelectric plant built in the world. (it was inauguarated in August of 1895.)

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After I went back to the truck, Mark whistled and there he and the kids were….decked out in style in their lovely yellow frocks! As an aside, anyone taking the tour gets to keep not only the fancy yellow poncho, but also a pair of sandals!

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 Mark and the kids resurfaced at about 8:30 pm, and we began our journey back home. We stopped in a town north of Buffalo so I could run in and grab Mark a couple of steak burritos….a memory that takes him back about 25 years ago when he was attending University of Buffalo. Surprising that the business still remains!

We got home a little after midnight, and as you can see, we had *quite* the full day! Now, back to relaxing! (for real!)

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Yesterday’s Adventures

Yesterday morning, we  were up and at ’em for an early start to our day. We had decided on Saturday evening that we all needed a little break from the busyness around the house.

We were off and on the road shortly after 8 am. We headed west and stopped by Darien Lake Theme Park.  We arrived at Darien Lake at about 10:30, and the kids and I went inside the park.  I am so *not* an amusement park type of person, but Ben conned me into riding on one of the more “mild” rides.  That accomplished, the kids went on the more daring rides as I followed along with them, waiting at the exit gates. We were there until about 1:30. then we headed on towards Buffalo.

We thought perhaps a ride along the river would be relaxing, and it surely was!  We passed by a marina where there was a nice boat launch and this proved to be a wonderful vantage point to take some pictures of activity. I am unsure if this is actually Tonawanda Creek, or part of the Niagara River.

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 Everywhere we looked, there were two things…boats and geese!

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 While we saw many docked boats, there was also a great deal of activity on the water. We saw small boats and boats that were nearly as big as our house!

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 And, of course, the Sherriff was out looking about to make sure that all were playing by the rules of water safety!

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 When Mark pulled into a parking space, he told us “Shhhhh” as we hopped out of the truck…..seems the guy parked next to us knows just how to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon! (he is located in the lower left of the picture) Ahhhhhh…….

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Mark had encouraged me to step on out onto the dock to take some pictures at the same level of the boats. Great idea….NOT! As I gingerly bounced out, I was totally unaware that the dock was of the *floating* variety! Only when I stopped to capture some shots did I realize that my land legs were swaying about. Since the ride was a bit “bumpy”, I opted to move back to dry land! Ben loved the motion of the dock! I caught the following picture, which I love.

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Yes, Ben was waving so long, but our adventure was not over…..not yet! We still had some ideas about how to relax some more!

And, Who Is This God We Serve?

OK, I know this header is a little unusual and I had planned to comment about our day yesterday, but *something* has pre-empted that entry, and I promise it will come later today!

Let me begin with several days ago…Michelle and Ben are so excited about Kingdom Bound. Kingdom Bound is a *huge* event in this area; it is the premiere gathering in Christian music, drawing many of the hottest groups in the Christian realm. Michelle asked Mark to call together a family meeting so we could decide when we would be able to attend.  Of course, the kids wanted to see the more “rowdy” groups than Mark and I would choose, but being adults, we could compromise some. As it worked out, with the cost of attending being rather high, we decided we would attend Tuesday evening.

All of that changed this morning! And, in one phone call!

Our *local* Christian radio station (Local? This station broadcasts all over New York and Pennsylvania, as well as on the internet!!!) has been having a contest offering 4 full passes to the 3 day Kingdom Bound event.  This morning, as I was dialing, I felt this tremendous surge of excitement that is inexplainable. The first call was busy. Second try, busy. Third try, I heard I was (the ****fortunate***) 7th caller! This is when the “trembling” began and I breathed a prayer, asking God to help me not to suffer “brain freeze”.  The contest involves answering 5 questions correctly in 60 seconds. You may pass if you do not know the answer to any questions.

I cannot remember all five questions, but I do remember answering 7 for the number of years a dog experiences to one of our human years, the toal of 1/2 and 1/8 is 5/8, and the spelling of afghan is “a-f-g-h-a-n-“.  I passed on two questions that I SHOULD have known….Da Vinci painted Mona Lisa, and Peter’s occupation before being a disciple was a fisherman! The two other questions I correctly ansered have evaded my memory….Well, I DID win four passes, and I am STILL shaking and totally amazed.

But, then again, why should I stand amazed?

I made the call from my cell phone, thinking it would take too long to walk to the land line.  I gave all of my pertinent information, then went “live” for the questioning.  Michelle had her radio on in her room, and when she heard my voice, she came running into the bedroom, making me feel even more pressured!  Yikes! After I won the contest, the guys at the station were talking to me, and believe it or not, although my phone said “connected”, I could no longer talk or hear them!Amazing. Simply amazing.

The cost of the evening passes for us to take the kids was going to be over $100. That is a considerable amount of money for a family living on social security. After Mark suffered a spinal cord injury causing him to become paraplegic eight years ago, he has been unable to work. He cannot sit in a chair for long before he needs to lie down and several other issues make it impossible for him to go to a job.  I do have a small soap business, selling supplies to other soap makers, as well as selling some of my own soaps. I don’t say these things for others to have pity on us, but as a testimony of God’s goodness to fullfill the desires of two kids who have been wanting to go to Kingdom Bound for the past two years, but we were unable to work out the details….

And so, this is (yet another) day of praise! Praise that He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills is loving enough to provide such a wonderful luxury to this family!!!!

Hmmmmm….

Looks like someone (Mark) was fiddlin’ with my blog! I hate that ugly blue header at the top! I guess it is OK, because we just got new cell phones, and he was playing with settings, trying to get them to work. Oh, the cell phones we picked up are not really like phones. They are more like computers!

This was one of those days that one keeps waiting for the skies to clear so as to wander outside. It never really happened, though! I worked around the house this morning and afternoon, then made lunch. Lunch was very well received. I wish I would have taken a picture, but I just completely forgot!

I made a pizza that was so yummy! If you have a membership to Sam’s, I got nearly all of the ingredients right there! Sam’s has ready made frozen pizza crusts that are the same ones they use for the pizzas they sell at the snack bar.  They are huge, but they are really good!

Here is what I did:

I took the pizza crust (frozen) and set it on top of the cooktop on a pizza pan. Then prepared some chicken strips. (also from Sam’s) These are restaurant quality Perdue strips that have a breading on them. Although there are no instructions on the box, we bake them at 400 degrees for 13 minutes, then flip them and bake another 13 minutes. As I put the chicken into the oven, I also placed a pizza stone in to heat up well.

When the chicken was nearly done, I spread about 1 cup of Litehouse Bleu Cheese dressing (Sam’s) on the crust. I then sprinkled on about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (Sam’s) and 1 cup of Frigo shredded mozzarella cheese (Sam’s) on the crust.  Because the Blue Cheese dressing is very mild, I used a grinder I picked up at Aldi that was filled with pizza spices on top. This added *so* much good flavor!

I took the (now cooled) chicken and cut it into bite size pieces. I placed it into a bowl and added Frank’s Hot Sauce to give it that Buffalo Wing flavor. Because the chicken is coated with breading, the Frank’s really fills into the little nooks and crannies. I sprinkled the chicken (I forgot to say I used a total of 4 pieces) over the top and placed it into the oven (375 degrees) on the stone for 15 minutes.

GLORY! That was one terrific pizza….and it took longer to tell how to put it together than it did to PUT it together! It didn’t last long, and even Michelle had two pieces! The price I paid for this was that it kind of spilled over and went into the bottom of the oven. Guess I should have placed a large pizza pan underneath on a lower shelf! Live and learn. So, of course then I had to try out the self-cleaning oven. And, glad to report, it worked swell! The downside was that although it never got much past 64 degrees outside, we had to run the whole house fan to keep the fumes from choking us! So, we all shivered with glee when the oven was sparkling clean! (4 hours later!)

After this excitement (please pinch me…I cannot believe oven cleaning is *exciting*, is it?) I wandered outside to take some pictures. Or, so I thought….

The winds were blowing so that it was impossible to even think of taking pictures! I did find one very sturdy  Thistle that held its own against the wind and cooperated. As I snapped, guess what…..Wheeeeeeeeee…..it MOVED!

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 After feeling distressed by the wonderment of this day, Ben and I went for a walk in the woods with the Scotties. That turned out to be the highlight of the day. No particular reason why, I just enjoy the woods and would rather be there than most other places! Especially places like kitchens!!!

Got Rain?

OK, so if you are missing your rain, we might just have it here. We had a couple of real downpours throughout the day~

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 During the first downpour, the gutters became quite useless and the plantings in front of the house got a heavy-duty watering!

 It rained for about an hour or more, with the downpour easing off a bit after about half an hour. Then, we were rain free for a period of time.  During the rain, I had things to do that caused me to run in and out in the rain. I was getting so chilled-to-the-bone that I crawled into the hot tub for a little while.  As I was sitting in the hot tub, I heard thunder beginning to rumble, so I got back out again…….

In time for round two!

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This was the scene looking out the french doors in the back of the house. Needless to say, those gutters were NOT functioning. I stood there, stunned, watching the raindrops bounce about a foot into the air as they landed on the deck and hot tub! 

My plants will not be needing any watering for a couple of days….