Moving Right Along…

It seems like life is building a head of steam and plowing right along….faster and faster each day!

We “borrowed” a car from a dealer yesterday to see how it might work out.   One of Mark’s goals is to have a car that if he decides to go out by himself,  he will be able to without depending on anyone to help him in and out of the car.  For this reason, he had considered a minivan,  but then decided we might be better off with all wheel drive.  I think there are few minivans with AWD, and if they have it, they might be pretty pricey.

We borrowed a 2011 Subaru Outback and it seems like it might just work out.  The trick is to put the backseat behind the passenger seat down.  Mark can then transfer into the car, then reach out and disassemble the wheelchair and put the pieces on a blanket in the backseat.  It is a little tricky, but we think it just might work.

Mark and I went out this afternoon to Penn Yan.  I wanted to make a recipe from that awesome book  I bought, called Slow Cooker Revolution.  The recipe called for 4 teaspoons of Curry Powder, but like Mother Hubbard, my cupboard had none!  I wanted to drive the car, since I hadn’t tried it.  Mark agreed to take a spin to Oak Hill over in Penn Yan.

We were surprised at the fuel economy of this car…it is rated 22 MPG, city, and 29 MPG, highway.  Well, since there are no “highways” between here and Penn Yan,  but hilly, rolling country roads,  we were surprised that the average miles per gallon is about 29.4 since we got the car!  We have been driving backroads and that means some stopping and starting, just like city driving!

We got home later than we thought we would, and I hurried to make my Curried Chicken in the crockpot.  Instead of taking several hours,  I turned the cooker to high and left it there for an hour.  The chicken was fully cooked in about 3 1/2 hours. (I turned it back to low for the last 2 1/2 hours. ) The recipe turned out well and everyone liked it.  Another winner! LOVE that book!

Well, one photo tonight…..this one was taken for my daily photo journal…..Murphy, the model.

Oh, and one funny true story from this morning….

Ben said he got bored last night, so he decided to make a “man” sitting in the chair in the living room.  He used some tubes to make legs, covered by a pair of his gray socks.  A pair of Michelle’s boots on the legs.  Shorts and a shirt, stuffed with pillows, and a pumpkin on top for a head.  The pumpkin wearing a baseball cap. 

I carried Murphy downstairs as I do every morning.  As I rounded my way off the stairs and turned toward the living room, poor deceived Murphy just about had a heart attack, seeing that “MAN” in HIS living room.  My eyes had been a bit bleary…plus, it was on the dark side….but the first thing I saw when I looked up was the pumpkin head.  Murphy!!! What a nutty little dog…..trusting his eyes instead of his “sniffer”! It was very comical, though! (Sadly, Ben took his effigy apart this afternoon before I photographed it….it really was pretty good!)

And thus begins Autumn in the Bristolwood

Oh my….last night, we had some showers.  This morning, we had some clearing going on and the sky was blue for awhile.  The sun came shining through on the leaves, lighting them up like sparkling gems on a Christmas tree!  How could I not photograph them?

Isn’t it amazing that as leaves are dying, they put on a magnificent show of color?  They sparkle….they dazzle…they are just so incredibly breathtaking!

Even though there is a bit of a haze, you can see well across the valley below to the hill to our west, and how its colors are showing.

As I was walking back from getting the mail this morning,  I looked up on the majestic White Oak tree that sits near the end of the driveway.  The oaks are funny…they don’t care to change color as quickly as the other trees, nor do they like to shed their leaves!  Often, oak trees will keep many of their rust-colored leaves well into the winter months!

The colors of Autumn…serene, peaceful, and warm.

These are the leaves from ash trees. As I scurried about in Rochester while Michelle was at school on Tuesday, I saw these piled up along a curb at the plaza. 

And finally, the Mums in front of the house.  I bought these at Home Depot a couple of years ago and set them next to the hot tub.  I planted them just before winter and they have grown to a huge bush,  filled with thousands of blossoms! 

Little by little, the change in the seasons is taking place and I am soooo loving it!

And they called it Puppy Love!

As I was about to upload yesterday’s photos to archive them,  I looked at them closely. 

Yesterday, as I visited with the young man at the farm,  as he told me about the puppies, he lifted some of them out to show me their personalities and tell me about them.  As he lifted the pup he called “comical” out, I captured this photo….

Just look how she is snuggling up next to him and looking oh, so content!!

When I got home yesterday, what a wild time I had!  Since it was eleven o’clock,  I had to quickly think about lunch.  I grabbed a package of frozen chicken thighs and placed them in cool water in the sink.  I had made some delicious Butternut Squash a few days ago….I cooked it in its shell with some 7up in the crockpot.  When it was done,  I scooped it out, adding two tablespoons of brown sugar,  1 tablespoon of butter and then plopping in about 2 tablespoons of whipped cream. I meant to add whipping cream, but I had used it all up for topping pumpkin pie.  So, I just added the whipped cream instead!  I made a quick Greek style salad and then grilled the chicken thighs.

As I placed the chicken on the grill, I thought it seemed a little “funny” acting, but Ben reassured me everything was fine.  About halfway through cooking the chicken, the tank just gave up the ghost!  Argh!  Ben quickly brought a new cylinder and hooked it up.  Phew…so much cooking drama!

As we sat on the back deck, eating lunch,  I nearly lunged off the deck when I saw a black butterfly in the weeds.  Quickly grabbing my camera,  I raced to the flowers….(why does my family react with such surprise when they see me in this mode of operation, anyway?)

Can you see this?  This little wounded warrior is actually missing a HUGE section of its left wing!  How it manages to even fly is beyond me!  So,  the next time you are feeling down….defeated and unappreciated,  just remember this little butterfly who passed through the Bristolwood!  Damaged,  misshapen, and deformed,  this little butterfly still rises up….and flies!

A very interesting chance meeting…

I forewarned the family I was going off for a little photo shoot this morning, I was excited!

I got a later than planned start, but it was “that kind of day!”.  The skies were bright blue, the temperature, mellow, and the sunshine was generous! I don’t know if everyone feels like I do, but when I get a block of time to take pictures, I am so happy!

I stopped at a graveyard not too far from home to see the marker for one of our neighbors.  Barbara was such an amazing woman!  She seemed like nothing could get her down.  They had built a cute log house across the street from our house a few years before we moved here.  Barbara was always knitting something and she encouraged me to take up the needles!  She got sick a few years after we moved in and they moved to Henrietta.  Barbara began to suffer memory loss and slowly, she became totally at a loss….I cannot imagine her husband without her…..he loved her so dearly.

I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I was off once again.  I did have to stop at a vineyard to take a photo of the remarkable grapes dangling in bunches like prize jewels!  Oh, how I love grapes!

Once again, I dared not linger, so off I went!  It is a shame not to have an entire day when everything was as beautiful as today!

I knew where my destination was, but wasn’t exactly sure how to get there!  As I drove down the country road, it soon became obvious that all I needed to do was follow “the trail”.  The area I refer to is Mennonite and Amish country.  Many Mennonite families have moved to this area and the houses, farms, and scenery are vastly improving! 

Soooo, you might be wondering,  What is she talking about?

I wanted to photograph this….

and this….

I didn’t photograph the church, but it is a large, plain white building.  It is surrounded on three sides by stalls where families “park” their horses and buggies.  It is so beautiful to see.  As I drove past the building this morning,  the doors were open to let the fresh air inside.  I could see a small room separating the sanctuary from the road outside.  On the dividing wall were pegs and the ladies hung their black bonnets there.

I believe this is a Mennonite church.  I am unsure how the Mennonites are divided.  I know the Amish have many “flavors” as one of my Amish friends says,  but I do think the Mennonites have Old Order and more progressive orders as well. 

I began making my way back homeward, but had made a mental note of a particular farm where I saw some miniature horses in a field.  I love horses and these were so little…they caught my eye and I wanted to see if I could capture a few pictures of them.  The farm where I saw them was a Mennonite farm, so I figured I could snap away without any problems.

As I was taking photos, I saw a figure walking toward me.  I looked up and saw a young fellow coming my way.  I told him I wanted to take some photos and he was agreeable.  As I snapped away, he talked about his little horses and told me all about them.  They belong to him and he absolutely loves them! He even told me about how he used one of them to take his two younger sisters to the schoolhouse up the road.

5 month old Firefly and Chess the mare


These horses are quite tiny….Chess, the older mare, cannot stand more than three feet tall!

As we talked, I could see the young man’s shepherd in the distance.  He told me she had puppies and when I asked to see them, he took me to the pen where they were kept.  OH MY!!!!!

Yeah..CUTE!  There were seven of them, total, but it is impossible to capture all of them together!  They were so sweet!

See that little pup in the center?  She was described by the young man as “comical” with her half and half face!  She was also the first of the pups to be claimed!  They will be going to their new homes this week as they are eight weeks old tomorrow.

The pups were kept in a very nice area near the barn and as I looked around, I saw little calves in pens.  Someone once told me these calves are designated “veal calves”, but when I asked,  the fellow told me no, they are isolated so they will not pick up any sicknesses or diseases from their mothers or any other animals in the herd.  He said they will be turned out with the others in a few months when they are strong and healthy.

My, they were so cute, too!

Two days old!
Five days old.

I had promised to be back home again around ten-thirty. As it was, I didn’t arrive back until eleven.  What a wonder-filled visit….totally unexpected, but so much fun!

Oh, and as an aside….the young man told me the reason he was not in church was because he was minding a cow that was going to calf today!  Ah, life on the farm….

A bit of disappointment….

Michelle has been planning to attend her friend, Erika’s eighteenth birthday party today for over a month.  The girls chattered on and on about it last month.  Unfortunately, Michelle came home on Friday evening and said she didn’t feel well.

Yesterday, Michelle spent the entire day in bed.  By evening, she declared she didn’t want to sleep anymore.  However, she did.  This morning, she arose and was kind of excited about the party.  She took a bath and got all dressed up, but as she sat down on the couch, she leaned over, saying she just didn’t think she could sit up.  As I looked at her, her eyes said it all….she really was in no condition to go to a party.

I talked to Michelle and told her she had better stay home.  She went outside for a little while, making a noble effort to wish herself well, but it just was not to be.  She came inside and eventually walked upstairs, looking quite forlorn.  I felt so bad for her,  but the weather was chilly and drizzly.  I really could not imagine a party being very much fun in those conditions, particularly when on isn’t feeling well.

Mark and Ben and I went on to Canandaigua, leaving Michelle home with Murphy.  I called to make sure she was okay.  She hasn’t had much of a fever, if any, but she is just feeling terribly run down.  When I called, she asked us to bring her home a meal from Arby’s.  They have a new (insanely!) hot chicken sandwich that Mark had coupons for. I asked Michelle if she really likes ultra-hot and she said it might chase away any of the bad germs!

While we were at Arby’s earlier, we had some fun with a flock of ducks that had waddled their way over to the truck to beg for goodies.  I don’t make it a habit of feeding them fries, but they were such beggars, I could not resist!

I suppose I could spend hours with ducks…they are so cute and these appeared to be tame.  They kept coming around and making their little duck noises, making it impossible to ignore them!

One of our stops was Wegman’s, and as we were pulling into the parking lot,  an ultralite passed by overhead!

When we left home, it was cool and drizzling rain on and off.  When we got to Canandaigua, it was beginning to clear and the sky would eventually end up rather blue, as you can see above.  I had also spotted a hot air balloon off in the distance, but it was so far away, the little Canon would never catch it.

As we were ready to go back home, the sky was clouding up all over again.  It was beautiful, while it lasted!

Not many opportunities today…

I went along with Mark today to take Michelle to school.  This was a very long day, leaving the house at about eight-thirty this morning and returning home at seven-thirty. 

Mark talked about going somewhere for a nice lunch, but with the temperature rising to the point that it felt hot in the sun, we couldn’t leave the Scotties in the truck.  So, we sat a lot in parking lots and ran quickly in and out of stores while one of us remained in the truck with the boys.

On the way home this evening, the sun was beginning to set pretty low in the sky when we spotted a roadside stand with fresh produce.  We stopped and I got some great looking pie pumpkins.  They are so good and when used in baking, the flavor far surpasses any canned pumpkin.

I placed my pumpkins in the back of the truck and when I was about to get in, I saw *her*!  What an aboslutely sweet and innocent face this cow had as she looked at me as though wanting to tell me something!

Of course, her beckoning look drew me nearer!

My, she was such a charmer!

As we were about to pull back onto the highway, I hollered for Mark to stop!  The sun was now shining bright streaks of light, illuminating pumpkins offered for sale on the most brilliantly green grass!

Yeah, the colors were enough to make my heart want to sing! 

I love visiting farms….I only wish I could spend a great deal of time at one, taking photos to my heart’s content! Michelle is going to attend a birthday party Saturday that is near farm country.  Who knows?  Maybe I will have some good conditions to get more “farmy fotos”!

Whoa, why does it feel like summer is back?

I must admit….I was feeling quite happy to think that the summer weather was behind us.  But, not so!  Well, I would be happy if the heat was behind us, I mean…..but today turned quite warm!   I wasn’t alone, as Mark mentioned it was “pretty hot” too.

I decided after my lovely outing yesterday, I would seek out some beauty in my own yard.  I really didn’t have to look too hard, as we have some nice autumn colors arriving in the front garden!

I bought a pathetic-looking little pot of daisies at Aldi in late May, I think.  The little pot contained a rather poor excuse for daisies, but at less than three dollars, I decided to test my own green thumb.  It was only after I got home I discovered the little tag saying that the plant was an annual.  Phooey….I love perennials…the less work digging and planting, the better! (my motto!)  Well, about three weeks ago, the pathetic plant turned into a sweet little bush with an abundance of bright, sunshiney yellow flowers!  Oh my, they are so attractive! And, I remember that the tag on the plant also declared the plant would attract butterflies.  Oops…kinda late for that, but it is enjoyable for anyone giving it a look!

Not a great shot, by any means, but I wanted to capture the bright yellow color of just a few flowers rather than showing the whole thing. Also gracing the front garden are some mums.  I have two colors….rust, and a deep red.

The mums are just flowering now, although there seem to be zillions more buds coming!  The rust mums are so pretty and I waited until a streak of sunlight highlighted them to shoot the photo above. The dark reds are also filled with buds, but they seem to be coming out a little more slowly…

The geranium I set on the stairs out in front of the house has been blooming like crazy! I moved the pot onto the stairs as I thought perhaps it wasn’t flowering on the porch for lack of sunlight. For once, I had the right idea!

This afternoon, I wanted something cool to post on my daily photo journal.  I was getting a little frustrated….since the sun is setting lower and lower in the southern sky,  our house is getting less and less sunlight through the trees. Because there is less sun shining on the flowers,  there are no butterflies or even bugs for that matter!  Seems everything packed their bags and left!

Soooooo…..I began a stroll down the driveway.  As I walked along, it struck me that I was being watched!  A quick glance around in front of me and to my sides revealed my little “spy”!

See?  Little bugger thought I would not notice him standing there in the shadows!

My walk proved to be a good move!  I got down by the road and there were several tiny yellow butterflies just flitting about from flower to flower. 

As you can see, I actually caught this little butterfly with its wings partially open. I never saw that until I put the card in the computer!  I have never seen one of these butterflies with its wings opened before!

In the above photo, you can see that this butterfly doesn’t have the black-tipped wings.  I am still at a loss to identify the first butterfly.

Yeah, be still my heart!  The little butterfly opened wings even further, revealing all its beauty!  Now, I didn’t fiddle around editing these photos. They are just as they came off the card. Never mind that these little critters were hanging out at my most favorite flower of the season!  I simply stood my ground, snapping as quickly as I could, hoping for at least one good shot!

We are supposed to be getting some rain and I hope, cooler temperatures again. So, as my UK friends would say, I am pretty “chuffed” at my butterfly shots today.  So, if you are reading this and happen to be from the UK, can you explain the word chuffed?

A long but fun day!

Today Mark asked if I would take Michelle up to college.  I love taking the trip, but I had to hurry! We got there and I dropped Michelle off….I was left with six hours to do whatever I wanted.  I pulled into a parking lot and sat looking at a Rochester area map.

After looking a little, I spotted Mendon Ponds Park.  That is a great place to visit in the winter, as the birds will light upon your open hands to take seeds.  Well, it isn’t winter, but I was hoping to see something!

I drove over to the park which really isn’t very far from the college. I took a few photos of flowers and there were some awesome Monarch Butterflies.  Unfortunately,  I only brought along the little Canon camera today and left the Nikon home. Every time I tried to capture a photo of the gorgeous butterflies, they would flutter off. 

I did see a doe and three fawns.  The fawns were fairly large and one of them bolted off.  Because they were so far off, it was impossible to get a good shot with the little camera. I was feeling rather forlorn when a young woman came up to me carrying a wee owl perched on a leather glove.

I found out the owl is a Saw Whet Owl and it had been injured when a car hit it.  The girl told me about a marvelous display of owls, kestrels, a golden eagle, a bald eagle, hawks, and even a bobcat in the park.  I followed her over to a little cottage where you gain entry to the “wild wings” area.  It was incredible seeing these beautiful creatures.  They had all been injured and the park took them in and offered them a life protected from the wild.  I was a bit dismayed to hear the bobcat’s tale, tho….a woman had gotten the cat as a kitten, and had it declawed.  Because the cat has no means of fending for itself in the wilds,  it also came to live at the park. 

Here are some photos from today.

I could have spent more time at the park, but a busload of rowdy teens from a local school arrived and things got a bit loud! Okay, so I did have other things to do, too!  Someday, I would love to visit the entire park….it is fairly large and I have seen only a tiny slice of it!

As I was getting ready to leave,  I noticed horses off in the distance.  I walked over to see and was able to observe several mounted police officers working with their horses.  It was so nice as the horses were varied in color and size.  One of the horses that was new to the team was a huge Belgian.  Such beauty watching horses move along so smoothly!

Oh my….this was so much fun.  I love seeing nature and this park offers a nice little selection. What a great way to bide time.  Now, I cannot wait for winter when the birds come out once again!