“D” is for Ducks, Dogs, and “D”lightful!

Our weather lately has been very unpredictable…the forecast calls for scattered showers…but, in reality, it is more like, “flip a coin” to see what weather one will get! This method is just about as accurate as the actual forecast!  Not the weatherman’s fault….there have been little “cells” of weather scattered about on the weather maps!

Today, I left the house with a list of several items we needed from the grocery store.  It was a terrific day. We had a few sprinkles here and there, but the bulk of the day was just blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and all of the elements to cause a daydreamer to get lost in deep thought….

This is a view of the lake from the top of our road. It really is a great view!

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This is the “main drag” where much shopping in Canandaigua is situated. It is called Eastern Boulevard.

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This blonde sitting in the passenger seat was SO gorgeous!!!

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A beautiful day means a quick trip to see what is happening down at the lake…

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Okay, no more words….these photos can speak for themselves. Enjoy!

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Grandma Cookie’s Birthday…

Or, Angus’s BIG day!

Yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday. But, we never call her just plain “Grandma”, you see…

Because….

My mother-in-law is a Dog Lover, extraordinaire….

So, as far as our Scotties can tell, she is Grandma Cookie, the “one who spoils us and loves us and gives us many, many cookies!” (doggie treats)

Angus had no idea it was a special day…..

And, this is how I found Angus when I came downstairs yesterday morning…..

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As I worked around the living room, putting things away, every now and then, Angus would awaken momentarily….

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But he spent about 2 1/2 hours in the basket, sleeping! (I forfeited actually laundering the clothes, as I just didn’t have the heart to steal the lad’s comfy bedding!)

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And, a little later in the morning, we asked Angus if he wanted to “go for a ride in the car?” He jumped and danced about, ever ready for a ride!

When we pulled into Grandma Cookie’s driveway, Angus was nearly jumping out of his SKIN!

We all wished Grandma a Happy Birthday, then got out. We brought Grandma some presents, and some pretty flowers…..

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 For Grandma’s birthday, the kids and I worked around her yard. We weeded, then spread some mulch on some of her garden beds. The kids pulled down a bunch of wild attacking grapevines that were making their way from the woods behind her house. Then we all cleaned up….

And Grandma ordered a couple of pizzas for dinner!

Angus and Murphy were waiting in the truck. It was a cool day and it was perfect to leave them in the comfort of the plush seats to curl up and sleep. But, when we went around the back of the house, where Angus could no longer see us, he began to “sing”!

Not wanting to annoy Grandma’s neighbors, I went up and got both Scotties. They were so excited and so happy. Until Angus spotted…..

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THE OWL!!!!  All I could figure is that the eyes on this thing are so large (and scary), Angus must have thought it was real! (My mother-in-law bought this lovely owl to keep the robins from building nests in her electric awning mechanism! And, it has worked for three years to keep them away!)

As soon as Grandma Cookie sat down, Angus jumped up and took what he considers his “rightful place”!

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I tell you the truth….you could almost see Angus smile as he sat upon Grandma Cookie’s lap!

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And, as he looked down upon his “no account” tiny brother, Murphy!

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After the pizza and cake and a very nice time sitting on Grandma Cookie’s patio, it was time to get back in the truck and head home! Angus took his seat in between Mark and me. Then, Grandma had Mark open the door to say good-bye……

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And Angus hopped off his seat and ran over to Grandma Cookie!

See this face?

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Angus is plainly telling us to take Murphy, and LEAVE! HE will stay with Grandma Cookie!

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As you can see, Grandma Cookie was enjoying this nearly as much as Angus! She really loves the little boy!

We did get Angus to finally come with us, with a promise that next week, we will visit once again!!!

Diversions…

Okay, let’s admit it. We adults don’t always practice what we preach.  Oh, c’mon….if you are 100% honest, you just know that you “sometimes” hope the kids won’t catch you doing something “wrong”! Take for instance…..

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Yup, last night, when I was supposed to be getting ready for bed, I stretched out on the bed and played several games of Bubble Breaker in the dark! It was just sooo addictive!(and, it was “only” 10:33….not quite bedtime!)

This morning, I realized that I hadn’t really pressed the Panasonic camera as far as taking photos of bugs, hummingbirds, and things like that. So, instead of being a good example and working before playing,  I wandered outside to take some photos! Hey, I AM an adult after all, right?

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Michelle giggled as I resized the photo above and saved it as “bumm, bumm, bumblebee bum”!  I couldn’t believe how deeply that little bumblebee was working, gathering pollen, and nearly disappearing!

And, speaking of “bums”….

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I am totally embarrassed to show a photo of my kitchen as it is a MESS! We had planned to remodel it last summer, but the plans fell through. I guess Mark thinks I am not quite capable of doing the work myself, even though I am quite confident I could do the work.

Having said that, here is what I should have been doing…namely, washing those dishes sitting in the sink….you cannot see all the ones sitting on the counter!

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Yes, but……(said in my most “whiny” voice)

How can I do dishes when *that* window is just above the kitchen sink? You know, the window with the hummingbird feeder hanging nearby?

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That happens to be a male hummingbird, by the way!

So, how can I possibly reprimand my kids when they are enjoying their diversions?

How Do We Top Yesterday?

This evening, I called my mother and talked with her for awhile. As we chatted, we agreed that yesterday was such a wonderful Father’s Day. We had such a great time, and we were all able to just relax and enjoy one anothers’ company. I think we realized just how hard that is to do sometimes, sitting in a restaurant! And, ever since I was just a little girl, I remember being told that food always tastes better when it is eaten outside!

As we headed east after our outing last evening, we, the kids, and even the Scotties felt so relaxed. Mark saw a sign that pointed out a scenic overlook along the road, and although we must have passed it many, many times,  he pulled off so I could take a picture!

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This is along the “Southern Tier” of New York, and I love driving this road, as there are rolling hills from the eastern section clear across to the western section.  When I was staying in New York City several years ago, I used to look forward to driving “home” to visit my parents, as I never wearied of the beauty surrounding this highway!

As we exited off the highway, this is the last big traffic light we encountered. The rest of the way home, we passed through tiny communities with only stop signs or flashing single lights.

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Iwanted to take so many photos through the window, as we were passing such gorgeous scenery! The sky was spectacular with the most amazing clouds!  The problem is that our wonderful journey left its “mark” on our windshield….there were bug “remains” all over the entire window!

I have come to really enjoy taking photos out my window….the truck has those big side mirrors that take in a considerable amount of scenery behind us. I could have kicked myself for not having the camera ready as we passed a car pulled over with an officer writing a speeding ticket.  That would have been so cool in that mirror! Ah well….

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This farm, located south of Naples, is in such a beautiful setting.  Even though the hills are fairly steep, it seems we always see the cattle standing on them!

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The photo above shows the contrast between the pastoral setting of the farm and the towers up on the hills, set up and awaiting the “blades” to become modern “towers of power”….

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We were getting closer and closer to our home, and the closer we came, the darker the skies became. Foreboding skies telling of the storms to come!

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We were awakened sometime during the night by the most tremendous storm! The lightening was making the Bristolwood appear day-like and the thunder sounded as though it was booming right next to the house! Murphy startled at one point, nudging me as though he was frightened!

Today was just a day of unwinding. I had several orders to pack and that took some time.  It was another beautiful day, weatherwise.  I worked on the hot tub, filling it with a fresh supply of water.  Although we were under a threat of severe thunderstorms today, they never showed up, and we enjoyed perfect temperatures and bright blues skies.

If this was the way the entire summer panned out, I might just be a convert!

The Incredible Father’s Day Picnic

Today was Father’s Day here in the good ole’ US of A and we had made plans to get together with my parents and brother, Randy.  We usually go to a restaurant and enjoy a great meal together, but today, I had asked my parents if they might like to have a picnic instead.

Since we don’t like leaving the Scots at home alone when we travel away for several hours, we tried to think of a place where the dogs could come with us and not be a bother. My parents also bring Fritz with them when they are gone for long periods of time, so I came up with a totally unique idea for a different Father’s Day celebration!

When we have visited my parents in the past, I always took notice of a very beautiful rest area along the highway. This particular area has lots of trees (for shade) and very nice picnic tables, along with restrooms.  We stopped once just in amazement that the state had made such an oasis for  weary travelers! As we tried to think of a good place to meet, this rest area became my number one candidate!

We met at  1 this afternoon, and at first, my father was concerned that perhaps using a grill might not be allowed at the area. There was a man mowing the grass, so Mark directed me over to inquire whether grilling would be allowed or not…What I encountered was so totally unexpected, it really surprised me!

The man stopped the mower to speak with me….he said we could use the grill and make ourselves comfortable. 

I had packed two crates for the Scotties, as I figured they might like sitting in them on the tailgate where they could see us.  Since it wasn’t real hot when we arrived, we left the Scotties in the truck and we put Fritz in one of the crates and lifted him onto the tailgate.  He was perfect as I grilled hotdogs….he curled up on a little blanket and watched us! We had such a nice little feast….hotdogs (big 1/4 pound Kosher ones!) macaroni salad,  and chips. For dessert, there was cheesecake (with strawberry topping) and a banana cake I had made from scratch. (had to use up those bananas before they got any blacker!)

The caretaker who was such a nice man, came over and talked to us for several minutes. He was quite taken by little Fritz…as he left, he told us to have a “good time!”  We did have a good time indeed! The only problem is that I completely forgot to take photos!!! Can you believe it?

As we drove past the rest area, I tried to photograph it. You can get the idea…it really is more like a park than a rest area!

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We ended up staying at this little place until 4 o’clock! The weather was extraordinary and we could not have planned a more beautiful day! The temperature maintained a very comfortable level and the trees shaded us from any sun that might have tried to peek through!

Here are a couple of photos of clouds that graced us today….

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I still cannot believe that I didn’t get photos of the day….but then again, perhaps it is futile to try to capture the perfect day with a camera….

Home Again, Home Again!

Well, I was going to write about “today” (Friday), but as I was loading photos, the clock struck midnight, indicating that today is now Saturday!

So, yesterday, we took the kids and two of their friends to Darien Lake Theme Park for the day. This past week was “Homeschool Week”, in which homeschoolers are encouraged to come for a day or two. (or, a week!)

Before the friends arrived at our house, I watched as a tiny little male Hummingbird kept landing on my (terribly in need of a painting!) shepherd’s hook that I hung the Petunias on. He would sit there and preen himself and just look as though he was rather enjoying himself!

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These pictures were taken through the French doors, and they are terrible. Every time I tried to catch a male at the feeder, he would fly away. The females really are much tamer and more sociable!

For my readers not familiar with exactly how tiny a hummingbird really is, here is a photo that might give one an idea of their size in comparison with the big world! (the male is sitting at the top of the shepherd’s hook!)

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The kids arrived at the house and I fed everyone tacos before we left. We were on our way about 12:30. By the time we arrived at Darien Lake, the temperature had soared to about 88 degrees. We had some brief thunderstorms pass before we left and instead of cooling things off, the air seemed to grow thicker with intolerable (to me) humidity. To my surprise, Mark dropped the kids off and asked what I would like to do! Aha! The heat was getting to him as well!

We took a quick drive to Buffalo. Buffalo seems to be famous for two specific foods. The first is Beef on Weck, and the other is Buffalo Chicken Wings! Mark had read that Duff’s had been voted as the best wing establishment in all of Buffalo….so, he thought we should check it out!

Mark loves lots of fiery sauce coating his wings. He usually orders them “wet”. This time, he just ordered 10 wings….5 “medium”, and 5 “hot”. I picked them up when they were ready, and I was surprised at the warning label stapled on the bag! (so was Mark!)

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The wings were very good. And, they came with some baby carrots, celery, and bleu cheese dressing.

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We drove back and took the kids for dinner. Afterwards, they went back to the park until about 9:15.  While we were at dinner, there were majorly powerful thunderstorms passing through the area. We went in the restaurant and as we were sitting there, the power went out for a few seconds. Hmmm….I am beginning to wonder….seems like that happens a lot to us lately!!!

We got home at about 11. A very long, hot! day….at one point, the thermometer in the truck read 95 degrees!  Getting home feels soooooo goood!

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I haven’t been this excited  in ages….

This morning, I took the screen down in the kitchen window (it actually fits inside the casement window….so it is removed from inside the house) and washed it. It had a lot of dust and the “fluff” from dandelions and cottonwood trees on it.  And, while I was at it, I washed the window so sparkling clean, one would hardly know there was glass in it!

After finishing the window, I grabbed a really fancy stool we bought Ben for Christmas and placed it near the counter in the kitchen. I then fixed myself as quietly and non-conspicuously as possible upon the stool…..

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I have never been so pleased with any hummingbird photos I have taken! I can’t believe these came out so crystal-clear, through the window!

As I waited for a male to venture on by, I realized that the females are far less timid than the males.  The males could see me in the house and would light on the other side of the feeder.  I certainly will continue to try to capture a male, as they are stunning with their beautiful bright red “collar” which dictates the name of this species…Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.

A Fine Day, Indeed!

This morning as I bounded out of bed, I felt something I haven’t felt in days! It was chilly!  I cooked the Scottie boys some chicken and rice (yeah, nothing like cooking up a storm before 6 in the morning, eh?) and took them outside. I watered all the outdoor plants, then did some household tasks that seemed so much easier with the cooler temperatures!

The day began to heat up quite a bit as soon as the sun peeked up over the hill above us.  Around noon, the kids took a break from schoolwork to take a dip in the pool. They were having fun, when they suddenly began yelling, very excitedly! My heart jumped a bit, as both of the kids were yelling….

As I raced to the door, they called out to grab my camera. Thankfully, the Nikon was all charged and ready to go! I picked it up and went to the back deck. The kids called out that there was a Swallowtail Butterfly in the Petunias.

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 If nothing else, my kids know their mom very well. Ever since our trip to the Butterfly Conservatory on May 31st, I have been on the lookout for butterflies here around our home. I think this is probably the same Swallowtail I see all the time, but it dips and dives so neurotically about, I never seem able to capture the thing! It was a task getting these photos, as every time I came to focus, it would see me and flutter away…..

Mark and the kids left this afternoon to go do a bit of shopping in the city.  I was going to go along, but my stomach was a little topsy-turvy, and hey, it really doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of alone time, anyway!

I decided to take some refuge in the camper, as I really enjoy spending time there. I took my camera, my purse, (which always has cables and a card reader in it!!!!) along with Mark’s Dell computer, oh, and Murphy! with me. (Angus went shopping, don’t you know?) I set up my little office on the table in the camper when I realized that Mark was missing my photo editor on the Dell.

Well, since I couldn’t resize and upload my photos as planned, I decided to lie down on the couch and take a little nap. Of course, the phone rang and Mark asked for a shopping list from me. Harrumph! Easily distracted, after the phone conversation ended,  I just had to snap a photo of the shadow the mini-blinds were casting on the little decorative curtains in the camper. Cool, huh?

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Then, Murphy the Magnificent decided we should go out and take a little walk around the yard to look at squirrels! As we wandered around a bit, my eye spotted something bright red amongst the weeds behind the house. Could it be?

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Yes! Delicious tiny wild strawberries! As I picked a few, my mind went back to when I lived in the country several years ago and a friend and I spent several hot and sweaty hours, picking enough of these tiny little berries to make exactly one small batch of Strawberry Jam! It certainly was a labor….but even now, I remember the sweet taste being unlike the huge strawberries cultivated in the fields.  A very sweet memory!

Murph and I went back out to the camper to gather up all of my little “office” components. As I sat at the table, folding cables and putting things away, Murphy the Magnificent jumped up on the couch beside me. Murphy really is on the very “slight” side for a Scottie. They are typically stout, almost to the point of seeming “chubby”. Not Murph….he is skinny and wiry and full of the dickens!!!

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Yeah, if you enlarge this photo, I tell you, you will see the boy’s bottom lips stretched into a delightful little smile, revealing his pearly whites….cannot even imagine what we did before Murphy! 

And…if Mark was to have read my blog entry from yesterday, he would have told me  1) I focussed wrongly 2) time for another eye examination. He would be wrong on both counts, as I was using a bit of artistic license (I think I want to spell this the UK way, as it is “C”‘s all the way round.) Being an American means that we do things our “own way” including making people very nervous about not being able to spell very well! I noticed in just the short time we were in Canada, that they never diverted from the English English.

So….my Grandmother’s peony, remixed, today, with the Nikon…and, in focus. (making the flower appear more “harsh”!!!

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Refreshment and Inspiration

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As I walked around outside this afternoon, contemplating today’s entry here, I passed my kind of skimpy-looking peonies.  Every year,  I always think about digging them up and replanting them in a sunnier area, but as the summer progresses, and the activities increase, I forget all about them.  By the time autumn arrives, the poor peonies are but a memory….a forgotten one!  And each spring, as they faithfully reemerge, in spite of my mistreatment,  I smile when I see them, as the plants originally belonged to my paternal grandmother, who passed away in 1972.

One of the high-on-my-list of priorities this morning was to call a person who had ordered some supplies from me.  Shirley is a teacher who also makes soap and candles, which she and her husband sell at craft fairs. She has been a customer for several years….she and her husband raise Golden Retreivers to be used by the disabled for helping dogs.

I called Shirley and she answered the phone. I explained what I needed, and she asked me to repeat one of the things I had said.  She then went on to tell me the horror she and her family had endured….

One morning, she had been feeling badly. She explained that she never takes sick days, but the previous two days, she had taken off. Her husband left for work, but after getting to work, he sensed soomething might be wrong, and returned home to find Shirley in a weakened state, and “garbling” instead of speaking.  Her husband called for an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital where she remained for three months.

It seems Shirley had the flu,  of which she was unaware. After getting to the hospital, she went into a coma for three weeks.  She was then semi-conscious for two more weeks. This illness left some nasty scars….the hearing in one of her ears is totally gone, and she will be fitted with a hearing aid for the other.  She said she also experiences “eye flutters” and her balance is somewhat unsteady.

As Shirley disclosed the events she had endured, it became obvious I was talking to a very strong woman! I told her this, and she said that is what the doctors had told her as well! The doctors had initially explained to her parents that Shirley’s life was hanging by a thread, and if she were to pull through, her life would be spent as a vegetable.  Shirley confided she had a secret desire to pull through for one particular reason…..one of their Golden Retreivers has cancer. Moca was given about 6 months to live……but, that was 2 years and 3 months ago! Shirley had to make it back home to her special boy!

What an amazing woman Shirley is….and, she told me that although she anticipates being in a wheelchair because of the unstable balance, she plans to return to teaching this September.  I was so inspired by her story, and what an incredible person to know!

It was only after I uploaded the peonie picture and began writing about Shirley that I realized Shirley resides in the little town where my grandparents settled and raised their eight children!

I began looking through the photos I hadn’t removed from my cameras and I found this one….I took the photo from the kitchen of our neighbors’ house. At first, I was disappointed that the hummingbird was black against the trees, but as I looked at it, I really began to like the silhouette appearance of the bird!

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We have been having such a heat wave, it has been grueling just doing things like cooking and laundry and household chores. Add the frustration of a sick dog, and I thought I was going over “the edge”. After the vet visit yesterday, both Scots are fine and fit as fiddles.

When we got up today, the clock on the kitchen stove was flashing “12:00”.  I set the proper time on it, and off went the electricity! It popped back on again, but this was repeated about 20 more times throughout the day!  It was totally impossible to work on the desktop computer! We are in awe that none of the appliances blew up with all the surges on and off! Mark called the power company and they sent two fellows out a little after 5. After talking with them, the power remained on! They had explained that with the weather as it was today, a limb might be bouncing on a line, causing the power to go into the limb and causing shorts.

Our weather? Well, the forecast was for strong, damaging winds. Thunderstorms with heavy downpours and lightening. We were also under a tornado watch until 6 this evening. As it worked out, none of the above happened in the Bristolwood. We did receive about an inch of rain and the wind blew, but not vigorously!

I went out with the Scotties early in the evening, and the air was fantastic! Not only had the temperatures plummeted to much more comfortable levels, but the humidity was gone! 

As Iwalked the boys, I spotted a deer standing on the crest of a hill by the road. I was so excited…it was such a perfect photo op….but, my cameras were in the house, and my hands were gripping two rambunctious Scotties. They had not picked up the scent frm the deer, so I quickly took them back to the house and grabbed my camera.  As I walked down the driveway towards the road, a large truck was making its way (very noisily) up the hill. The deer became frightened, and hid in a small growth of bushes. I watched and the last photo is the deer in its hiding place. Not a good photo, but the poor little thing was so disturbed as the truck roared by.

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It was not a busy day by any means, but a rather strange one as it turned out!