Saturday, July 31, 2010

Miscellaneous This and That

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

We released eight butterflies yesterday -- one was a bit of surprise. She cooked a little faster than expected, and hatched in her Gladware container. Thankfully, I went upstairs for an envelope last evening and found her, or she probably wouldn't have survived the night.

Releasing them all was a bit chaotic -- DD didn't get to handle them as much as usual, but they did seem attracted to her. Here are a few photos:







We had more females than males, which was a good thing, IMHO. One female can lay thousands of eggs -- lets repopulate the species!

There should be three emerging today (unless we get another surprise). Things are really moving now!

DD got a special request for book thongs at her DistinctivelyDD store as well, so I spent a significant amount of the day uploading a couple dozen new items (earrings, bracelets and book thongs) and still have another dozen or so to do.

One of my fave things was this bracelet:



I'm not sure why I like it so well, but I really do!

Didn't have a lot of time for much else, but today they're all gone boating, so I'm hoping to catch up. I should be able to visit with y'all today, too! First, though, Dakota has a play date with an agility friend at the local dog park shortly, so I have bid you adieu.

Have a great day!

====================




You Are Ambitious



You have your eye on the prize, and knowing you, it's probably a different prize every week.

You have a laser focus when it comes to achieving your goals, and you stay on task.

More than being a hard worker, you are a smart worker. You can always figure out a way to get what you want.

You don't just climb up the ladder - you skip steps. You break every rule that you can.



LOL.... that's mostly right :-)

=================

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Quick Note

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

This post will be short today... lots of stuff is going on with me, personally and in my family (nothing bad, just busy and mentally exhausting) and I'm feeling overwhelmed.

In Pillar Place: Monarch, we're expecting 5 - 6 butterflies to hatch today. I moved all the nearly ready to pop chrysalis' to The Box yesterday. Check it out:



We have them all named (ha -- not like they'll stay put after they hatch ... but we'll do what we can):



Yes, my very official butterfly box is an old Avon delivery box. See, anyone can raise butterflies. You don't have to have fancy stuff. I have votive holders, Gladware and old boxes. *G*

Have a good day!

=====================




You Are French Fries



You are friendly and easygoing. People can't help but like you!

You are always welcome wherever you go, and people crave you more than they'd like to admit.

You are extremely fun loving. You try not to think about responsibilities whenever possible.

You are rich in personality and spirit. You have a lot to offer, but you never let it go to your head.



Um... maybe some is right, but not so much.

=====================

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This, That and The Other

A bargain ain't a bargain unless it's something you need. ~ Sidney Carroll

For those of you on Google Reader -- this WAS posted yesterday, but I remembered Elaine was coming by, so I pulled it. Bonus: you get yesterday's post AND add-ons for today :-)

Moving on ...

I had my cranky-pants on Tuesday and had to make a concerted effort to be pleasant. It must have worked, because at one point DD said, "Did you wake up in a good mood?" -- understand, I'm not exactly an effervescent person, even on a good day, lol. So, I guess my acting skills are still working!

The dog was full of it too, so we swung by the dog park on the off chance someone was there with their dog. There were two guys there with a pointer and a German Shepherd mix -- both really active, good-natured dogs. And the three of them ran. And ran. And ran. And ran. Finally, Dakota flopped down on the ground and refused to move. I figured that was our cue to leave! LOL...

We went to the dog park again VERY briefly yesterday as well. We were a little early for a nearby appointment, so killed fifteen minutes there. This time there was a Wheaten Terrier and a little mutt terrier, both of which were utterly disinterested in playing. Dakota gave it her best try, but was ignored while they simply wandered around and sniffed. :-(

The weather has been so pleasant lately. Still warm, but less so and less humid as well. It's been nice to be able to get outside with feeling as though my innards were cooking. Today, they're calling for rain off and on all day. We already had one little cloudburst, which was very nice. We desperately need it, so bring it on!!

I'm still working on my writing. I haven't been saying much about it because it seems as though every time I mention a project by name, or in any detail, I hit a wall! Not that I'm superstitious or anything (nope, not me).

FlyLady is going okay, too, except I have to admit that I don't get up and get dressed first thing in the morning (which is one of her basic rules). I can't. I get up before the crack of dawn and DH sleeps for another few hours. Other that that, I've been keeping the sink clean, doing other cleaning in 15 minute bursts (I love my timer!!) and mostly staying on top of stuff.

The timer thing really works when I apply it.

DD has been writing reviews for the Aurora site. The first couple, I interviewed her about the books and wrote up the review based on what she said. This last one, I opened up her other reviews, reminded her of our basic "rules" (opening hook, positive closing, very little synopsis -- tell us what you did or didn't like, not what the book is about ... we post the blurb, so don't need that) and let her go. It took her three days of working a couple hours each day, but she presented me with a review yesterday that was really, really quite well done. Except for a couple grammar/punctuation issues, it's turnkey! I'm so proud.

I can't believe we'll be starting back to school in a month. I also can't believe she's in junior high. Where does the time go? We're going to hit Staples for some back-to-school office supply shopping (I have an office supply fetish, I really, really do. Just walking into the store makes me all tingly). One good thing about homeschooling -- I buy her clothes when she needs them, not at the whim of the calendar.

I remember when I was little, I used to have a budget of $100 for my back to school clothes shopping. That included undies, shoes and socks! I usually ended up with something like one pair of pants, a few shirts and a dress (plus "necessaries"). Can you imagine spending only $100 today? I went to Kohl's a couple days ago (after we purged DD's clothes, and I realized she had ONE pair of pants/capris that fit her!) to get DD some capris. Oy. Vey. She's in women's sizes now, and the prices kill me.

Ah well. Them's the breaks.

Do you like shopping for anything in particular? Anyone else have an office supply fetish? What do you remember about school shopping from when you were young?

=========================




You Are SPF 15



You enjoy the sun as much as most people. You aren't outdoorsy, but you enjoy the outdoors from time to time.

You tend to limit your sun exposure. A little goes a long way for you, and you don't like to overdo things.

You are strongly prefer indoor activities, away from bugs and the elements.

And if you're going to be outdoors for too long, you always seek out the shade.



That's pretty much right.

Welcome Guest: Elaine Cantrell

Give a big "Howdy!" to Elaine Cantrell!

Tell me five things I probably don’t know about you and that most folks wouldn’t guess.

Okay, I'll begin with a story about my grandfather. I hope you won't be shocked, but my grandfather was arrested for operating an illegal still. Back when Grandpa was alive lots of country people made their own liquor out of corn. It was illegal, but people did it all the time. Anyway, Grandpa went to visit a friend at his still, probably to make a purchase, and the friend left for a minute to go and get a jar. The authorities arrived and arrested Grandpa for operating the still. He never did tell on his friend.

My grandparents had eight children all of whom married and had children of their own. When the clan got together the place swarmed with children. The older grandchildren made up a ghost story to tease us younger ones. They said there was a baby buried in Grandpa's front yard. At night the baby's ghost went from window to window crying to get in. That story scared us to death. For a long time none of the younger children would go into the front yard. My mother finally found out why and straightened out the older grandchildren in a hurry. You didn't want to make my mother angry. Brrr.

I always thought my mother was the arbitrator of good taste, but if you look at our old pictures you'll see that she made a few mistakes. Imagine a Princess Leia hairstyle in 1960. I was going to let you look at that picture, but I was afraid you'd hurt yourself laughing.

My cousin is a minister who lives out of state. Once when he came home for a visit he preached at the little church that my grandparents attended. He said that as he stood in the pulpit the church doors opened, and my grandparents walked in. They had been dead for twenty years, so this was somewhat remarkable. He even described the dress that my grandmother wore. I have a picture of her in that dress sitting on my desk. Personally, I don't doubt this in the least. They were always partial to him because he was a minister.

One of the funniest things that ever happened to me was the time my friend and I got trapped on the water bed. We were out shopping and decided to look at some water beds. They had one set up for people to try, so we both sat down on it to see what we thought. The problem was that we couldn't get off of it. The mattress was lower than the bed frame, and with nothing but rolling waves underneath us we couldn't get up. Of course part of the trouble was that we had started to laugh so hard. We finally used the waves to give us a little boost and managed to get off the thing. We still laugh about how funny we probably looked.

Finish this sentence: My favorite comic strip is (was) _____because _______.

My favorite comic strip is (was) Garfield because of the way that fat, cynical cat looked at the world. Right now I don't really have a favorite.

Write me a paragraph using the following three words: Camera, Silver, Mask

My heart pounded and I puffed like a steam engine. I finally had him cornered. I raised my camera and tiptoed toward the dining room. Wait a minute. What was he doing? He was staring at my silver coffee service as if he intended to pour himself a cup of coffee. Oh no! He'd seen me! He was staring right back at me. Aw, how cute. That mask across his little face was adorable. If I'd known how much I would enjoy having a pet raccoon I'd have gotten one years ago.

2010 has been a good year for me. Return Engagement which is my absolute favorite book ever was released in July by Whiskey Creek Press at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com. I liked my characters so much I’ve finished a sequel and have the last book in the trilogy almost finished. Also, I have a Lachesis release Kara’s Change Of Heart coming in a few months.

If you’d like to read a little bit of Return Engagement, you can read the first chapter at the publisher’s web site. Just click on the book’s cover.

Here are some of my links. Do friend me on My Space and Facebook, and I’d love for you to become my blog follower.

My web site: http://www.elainecantrell.com

My blog: http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com

My My Space Page: http://www.myspace/elainecantrell

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000153041486

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

5 Things

If you cannot answer a man's argument, all it not lost; you can still call him vile names. ~Elbert Hubbard

That quote is just cuz I thought it was funny...

Because I'm coming up blank on what to write (I lead a dull life and the pillars are still cooking) ... seen at Dru's and Maria's (and other places I can't remember):

5 things always in my purse -- I actually carry a fanny pack -- purses make my back ache.

Cell phone, lip balm, credit card, driver's license, nail clippers.

5 Things always in my wallet -- I don't carry a wallet... hmmm. Nope, can't answer this one.

5 things always in my refrigerator
Chocolate soy milk, apples, romaine lettuce, orange juice, eggs

5 Things always in my closet
Jeans, shirts, dirty clothes hamper, shoes, robe

5 things always on my desk - I seldom actually use my desk (long story), but ...

Cup with writing utensils, plant, notepad, external hard drive, file folder with receipts.

What about you? Actually ... I'm curious about purses and shoes, etc. I'm so not a girly-girl, and have fewer pairs of shoes than I have fingers, and use a basic fanny pack -- ONE, in black and don't change it out to match my clothes.

What about you? Are you a girly-girl? Do you collect shoes? Have a purse for every outfit? Never leave the house unless you're perfectly put together?

=============================




Your Colors Are Bold



Your colors are bright and vivid reds, oranges, blues and yellows.

You are a high energy, passionate person. You stay happily busy.

You live for excitement. It's hard for you to turn down a thrill, no matter how small.

You think the world is a great and amazing place. You're thankful for each day and for every opportunity you are given.




About 65% right.... not real big on vivid colors OR thrills, thank you very much.

==========================

Monday, July 26, 2010

Contests and Winners

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. ~Bill Watterson

First off, Chrystal is the winner of "Kiss Me Before I Sleep"! Chrystal, email me your mailing address at authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com and I'll get that out for you.

Next, there are some cool contests going on that I thought you might like to know about.

Eloisa James is giving away a Nook on her Facebook fan page. She needs 1700 more fans for her publisher to give one away, so go forth and "like" her!

Speaking of Nooks -- The Long and the Short of It is giving away THREE starting next week!! The general info for our Third Anniversary Party is here, with more info coming on August 2nd.

The very talented, very funny Dee Tenorio is guest blogging on Whipped Cream Erotic Romance and is giving away a copy of her book "All or Nothing" to one person who comments today. How easy is THAT?

There are probably more, but it's early and I'm still on my first cup of coffee...

=======================

We had a quiet weekend, which was nice. My DH had to work some ridiculous hours (overnight on Friday and then a good chunk of Sunday). It's so frustrating because it makes him a very grumpy man. Weekends are his down time, his unwind and turn back into Dr. Jekyll from the Mr. Hyde he becomes during the week.

I'm truly grateful he has a job, but I sure wish he had one he actually LIKED.

DD is starting to hit the "I'm Bored" portion of the summer. If it wasn't so blasted hot we'd be doing a lot more. I promised her miniature golf (but not in 100 degree weather), I'd like to take the dog down to the park for walks and let DD play on the equipment, a road trip to Trader Joe's in Tyngsboro (but we'd want to take the dog and she'd cook in the car), a road trip to one of the other libraries that actually carries romance books, practicing agility with the dog outside (though I may set that up today).

This weather is killing us.

========================




You Are an Astronaut



You are not normal at all, and you could never do well is a typical office job. You are too brilliant for that!

You have a strong sense of adventure. You really want to see the world... especially from space.

You don't just dream big - you also do big. You are willing to work hard to get the career of your dreams.

You are a very talented and special person. You seem to succeed at every project you undertake.




Um .... 50/50, I guess. Mostly the last part.

======================

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Control

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage - pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically - to say 'no' to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside. The enemy of the 'best' is often the 'good.' ~Stephen Covey

Life's been feeling a bit out of control lately -- like I'm dog paddling like crazy just to keep my head above water. I'm a big fan of routine and to-do lists and what-not, and lately none of that has happened.

I'm sure that's partly because DD is out of school, so we don't have THAT routine. I'm not entirely certain what's contributed to the rest, but I do know that I found a thick layer of dust on my bedroom dressers, and mildew on the rubber lining of my fridge -- two big indicators that I haven't been cleaning house as much as I should (just doing the "top" layer: dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping and keeping the clutter down).

So... I'm doing FlyLady again. Going to get my calendar organized starting August 1st, have planned a few "fling boogies" and got a new battery for my timer.

That timer is also going to be used three other things: weeding, writing and blog hopping. Every day.

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday morning during my walk (we walked just over an hour, the dog and I) and she mentioned wanting to walk, but having too much to do. I said she could take fifteen minutes out for a quick walk ... and as I said that, I realized that the same holds true for me and all the things I don't manage to get done during the day (like weeding, writing and blog hopping). Better, the timer really helps keep me focused, so I actually accomplish more in a shorter time.

I'm feeling much more in control, and I like it.

What about you? Are you more routine or spontaneous? What do you do in order to get what you need to get done daily, done? Any hints?

=====================




You See Success in Your Future



Five years from now, you'll be on your way to achieving your goals.

You have a plan in place to get everything you've ever dreamed of.

Ten years from now, you will have achieved many of your goals.

You are driven, motivated, and hardworking. There's no reason you can't reach for the sky.



Hope that's right!

======================

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Blog About Nothing

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~Dorothy Parker

So ... I was trying to think of what to blog about today, but my life just isn't that interesting. This morning, for some unknown reason, I was thinking about all those reality shows that follow people around in their day-to-day lives, and decided mine would be a flop.

Here is Marianne cursing at her computer.

Two hours later, Marianne takes the dog out to pee.

Fifteen minutes later, Marianne sweeps the floor and does the dishes.

One hour later, Marianne starts dinner.

Woo hoo! Pure excitement!

My friend, Judy, decided to help by giving me topics.

"Pets I've had and why I loved them"

Yeah, not going there right now... we're dealing with Dakota's best friend having cancer and just plain getting old. She's a 12 y.o. lab mix and every day with her is a blessing because we know there won't be many more. So, I'm not prepared to think of my own pets I've loved and lost right now.

"If I had a million dollars, I'd..."

Move.

There ... easy peasy and makes for a really short blog.

"Ways to Annoy People in the Checkout Line"

I'm usually the annoy-ee not the annoy-er, but my biggest pet peeve is screaming kids that are then pacified by the adult giving them whatever they're screaming for. GAH.

Okay, moving on...

"Things I feel neutral about."

Um.... nothing really. I tend to be pretty passionate about everything, whether I'm for or against.

Why live if you don't have passion?

So, I guess I have nothing to blog about today. Sorry folks.

*G*

What are some topics YOU can think of?

======================




You Are the Middle Toe



You are naturally very aggressive and competitive. You go for what you want.

You like to get ahead, but there is nothing traditional about your approach to success.

You use your creativity and your wit to your advantage. You are a flexible thinker.

You have a lot of inner fire and strength. You harness your passion well.



Yep, mostly right!

====================

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cleaning, Pillars and Win a Book!

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Read on to find out how to win a hardback book...

The weather has been quite nice out here lately -- still warm but far less humid and bearable. Unfortunately, now Dakota is a bit under the weather (on our first walk of the day yesterday, she plodded sedately at my side the entire way. Dakota is seldom sedate), so we haven't enjoyed it as much as we might have.

I have done quite a bit of weeding, so that's something. And, yes, I actually enjoy weeding. It really makes me feel like I've accomplished something. I can look at the results and feel good about it.

Speaking of which, I've been watching the show "Hoarding: Buried Alive" which is a bit like a car accident that you can't look away from. But, every time I watch a show, it inspires me to clean and purge my stuff. This week, I gave DD (who has shows a frightening tendency to be a hoarder -- she attaches memories and emotion to everything she owns, including trash. She had used tissue paper crumpled up and stuffed away in a drawer that she didn't want to throw away because it came from a gift "Grandma gave me.". I want to get her a new comforter for her bed. The one she has is eight years old, torn and has some stains. "I love this comforter, I don't want a new one, I'll feel awful if you get rid of it." Oy.) ... so I gave her a paper grocery bag, sent her to her room and told her not to come out until it was full of stuff to give away or throw away.

Then I did the same thing. To look at our house, you wouldn't think we have that much stuff to get rid of. My house is pretty well clean and uncluttered (my DH is a neat freak -- I fall somewhere between DH and DD, lol). Still, I found plenty to fill my bag.

We went to Goodwill yesterday and donated four bags of stuff and DD's old bike (that was amazingly painful for her, but she managed), and then a bag of books to the library. It felt WONDERFUL.

I'm also purging my own bookshelf, and thought I'd offer some to you folks if you're interested. I'll give away at least a book a week (sometimes more depending on what I find) and I'm only giving away books that are new or like new.

So ... today I'm offering a hardback copy of "Kiss Me While I Sleep" by Linda Howard.

Here's the blurb:
Efficient and unapologetic, Lily Mansfield is a hired assassin working as a contract agent for the CIA. Her targets are the powerful and corrupt, those who can't be touched by the law. Now Lily is playing a deadly, unauthorized game, seeking her own vengeance, compromising her superiors and endangering her life. Fellow CIA agent Lucas Swain's orders: either bring her in or bring her down. Yet he too is drawn into the game with Lily Mansfield, dancing on a tightrope, trying to avoid a major international incident while battling a tenacious foe dogging their every step. Vigilantly watching her back, Lily doesn't see the lethal peril directly in her path . . . or that loyalty has a price.

If you want this book, just leave me a comment -- you can say other stuff too, but mention that you'd like to throw your name into the hat. I'll draw a winner Sunday and announce it on Monday.

Good luck!

========================

In Pillar Place: Monarch, Omicron hatched. Another boy, apparently shy because I had a terrible time getting a picture, and I never did get a really good one:




We have well over a dozen pillars who have started cooking in their chrysalis', and another many who are still eating like pigs. Yesterday, I found yet another egg (unbelievable!), so we're up to "V" in the hurricanes (we named the one before Ulysses, because they don't have a U hurricane name, and the last egg is Virginia, because their name -- Virginie -- was too weird).

I imagine things will be fairly quite over the next week or so, but they we're going to be buried in butterflies (there are worse things *G*).

=====================




You Are Alive and Energetic



You are most comfortable when you are mixing things up a little bit. You like novelty in small doses.

You are drawn to harmony and compassion. You value commonalities over differences.

You have a deep and interesting inner world. Your thoughts are vivid and interesting.

You believe that if you look closely enough at people, you can appreciate them more... flaws and all.



About 75%...

=====================

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Tussock Moth Pillar That Ate New Hampshire

We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics. ~Bill Vaughan

In Pillar Place: Monarch we released two more butterflies yesterday (both males -- see how thin the black lines on their wings are?). Meet....

Pi:



and Rho:


Omincron will most likely hatch today, and then we'll have a wait for the other mass of pillars-now-pupae that did their thing yesterday.

I was absolutely blown away by the sheer numbers of Milkweed Tussock Moth pillars we found yesterday, and had to take a picture. Unfortunately, I'm still only able to use my cell and it kept wanting to focus on the scene behind the pillars. Here's what I got.

Mass #1 -- these guys only just shed their "baby" skin (which is a pale yellow and not nearly as fuzzy) and are hanging on to the stripped milkweed leaves for dear life:




Here's another batch of slightly older ones we found under a leaf -- as they grow, they become more solitary:


And here is a batch of babies .... I wish you could see them better. I really need a new camera:



That's what we think our little orange eggs are going to turn into... good thing they're cute, or we'd be a little freaked out by the sheer numbers.

=======================




You Are Complicated



You have many sides to your personality. You aren't exactly the easiest person to figure out.

You are quirky and apt to contradict yourself. You are constantly evolving and changing.

You have a unique take on life, and unlike most people, you're not too optimistic or pessimistic.

You appreciate novelty and uniqueness. Most of your favorite things are acquired tastes.



About 50/50 ....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Piffles and Pillars

Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well. ~Marcus Valerius Martial

Thankfully, I seemed to have turned the corner with my cold and feel almost human this morning. Yesterday I felt *okay* cold-wise, but was completely exhausted to the point I ended up taking a nap (something I almost never do). I'm truly grateful that, for the most part, I'm quite healthy and when I do get sick it cycles through quickly (I felt the first hints of this cold on Saturday, and I'm already pretty much done). Still, I wish I didn't get sick at all. It's really a pain.

The worst part about being sick THIS week is that it's been pretty nice out. It's still quite warm, but the humidity has gone down so I would have been able to get outside. I was hoping to go play tennis with my DD, do some weeding (dear heavens... the weeds are taking over), maybe some nice long walks. None of that has happened.

Maybe today.

======================

In Pillar Place: Monarch, we should be seeing two more butterflies today. Pi and Rho are both getting dark. Last night they were gray, and I'm sure this morning they'll be black. So, YAY.

As of last night, we had TWELVE pillars on the roofs of their containers, apparently ready to make their pupae, and two more that were acting like it was about time. In ten days or so, we should have a mass monarch hatching!

We've also found three more eggs (I swear, we aren't even looking ... they things are practically jumping out at us) and we've also accidentally picked leaves with *other* eggs on them. Since I felt rotten about doing that, we're hatching the eggs inside and the putting whatever comes out of them back outside.

So far, one set of eggs hatched. They were some weird looking bug that gave me the shivers. I swear they looked a little like miniature scorpions, only they had six legs, not eight. :::shudders:::

Those babies went outside ASAP. Blech.

The next set of eggs are these lovely orange ones all massed together. I'm fairly sure they're milkweed tussock moth eggs, but I could be wrong. We have TONS of those critters outside our house, to the point I almost can't harvest from my own milkweed for the monarchs and have taken to stealing from other patches that aren't covered in critters.

I'm quite glad that the larger pillars are making their pupae, because for the last day or two they've each eaten 3 - 4 large milkweed leaves a day. 4 x 14 pillars = a whole lot of work for me.

========================




You Are Rock-Paper-Scissors



You are very smart and mentally inclined person. You like games that test your brainpower.

You are good at noticing patterns and making predictions. You can size other people up well.

It may not seem like there's a lot to what you do, but you have a strategy for everything.

You tend to think through every decision you make carefully, but you're also sure not to over think anything.



That's about 95% correct. Weird.

====================

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Welcome Xi

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In Pillar Place: Monarch, we hatched our first butterfly. Welcome Xi:



We released her (we can tell she's female because of the really dark black lines on her wings) around 4 pm yesterday, not realizing that a MASSIVE storm was headed our way. We had incredible high winds, lightning and some rain. The winds were unbelievable, though, so hopefully Xi found a nice, thick tree to hide in for the duration. We lost power for a few minutes, but apparently there are downed trees north of us and a few thousand folks are without power because of it.

I'm glad we got rain, but the wind I could have done without.

===================

We've been seeing the cat outside quite a bit -- several times yesterday. I'm actually giving some thought to "keeping" it. I've wanted an outdoor cat for the chipmunk/vole/squirrel problems we have (though it would mean not putting out the bird feeders again.

If I do decide to "keep" it, I'm going to trap it, get it fixed and vaccinated and then re-release it. Might set up a nice weather proof dog house and feed it now and then (not too much if I want it to catch critters). We'll see. I ran it by my DH and he didn't say no ... so...

=====================

I'm still sick. Feeling dopey. Need to respond to comments from yesterday. I was hardly on the computer yesterday because I had a massive sinus headache. I even laid down for an hour, which is very unusual for me.

I hope I'm on the upside today. We'll see...

======================




You Are Trustworthy



Of all the types, you are the most responsible and loyal. You take your duties seriously.

You thrive when you are able to do something practical and productive. You hate to waste your time.

Some people say that you are a bit neurotic or cautious, but you believe it's better to be safe than sorry.

You do your best to live a engaging and important life. You want what you do to matter.



That's about 75%...

===================

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stuff(ed Up) and Nonsense

Physical ills are the taxes laid upon this wretched life; some are taxed higher, and some lower, but all pay something. ~Lord Chesterfield

Thanks for the kind wishes yesterday. I won't say I feel better today -- in fact, health-wise, I'm probably worse (stuffed up, coughing), but at least I'm somewhat alert. Yesterday morning I was flat out exhausted. I'm hoping today is my "bad day", the hump you have to get over before you get better. My family and I are pretty healthy, typically, so when we do get sick it comes and goes quickly.

We're still praying for some real rain here. Haven't had any significant rainfall in our town in several weeks, and though they're predicting thunderstorms this afternoon (and I'm glad for what we get ... I AM), there's no "rain" on the forecast for the next two weeks.

I've been lax about getting outside and doing much of anything lately because of the heat. I'll do quick 5 - 10 minute forays, maybe weed a bit, and then back in. As a result, I've forgotten to put my milorganite down in the veggie garden. And yesterday, I paid for it.

My tomatoes that I said were as tall as DD? Not anymore. Deer came and munched them all down. Most are *maybe* two feet tall, some are even shorter. And, with the except of DD's Sweet 100s, he got them ALL.

*sigh*

Last night I was upstairs reading and DH ran in: "Did you put your milorganite down?"

"Yes, why?"

"The deer just walked out of our backyard and across the street."

I haven't looked yet this morning, but I hope it worked. I don't have many tomatoes left!

Speaking of wildlife, it appears we have a feral cat living in our backyard. We've seen it off and on, but assumed it lived with someone and was just visiting because of the bird feeders -- we have LOTS of birds, chipmunks and red squirrels, a kitty buffet. It's gorgeous looking, a gray tabby with white paws, but yesterday DD saw it climb under one of our brush piles. And then, early this morning I saw him lurking under DH's snowmobile trailer, which is parked out back for the summer.

Poor kitty.

I'm going to keep a lookout, and if we keep seeing him, I'm going to set a trap and see if I can catch him. It's no life for him to be out there -- especially in the winter. I wonder if folks are just leaving their pets behind if they have to move? We won't be able to keep him, no matter what -- DH is not a cat fan -- but I can get it to the shelter.

I've been tending my SILs garden for her this week and discovered that she has squash borer worms. The base of two of her squash plants is split and has "frass" coming out (looks like wet wood pulp). So, I dug into it a bit, and spraying my poison (BTW, for those of you who know I prefer organic gardening ... this "poison" is actually an organic pesticide of sorts and doesn't kill beneficial bugs, except bees so I keep it off the flowers. It doesn't harm mammals either.) into the slash. I don't know if it killed the wormies, but I can hope.

So far, I haven't seen that on mine, though I need to go out and saturate the nylons on mine with that stuff again.

And that is my exciting life. How's yours?

====================



You Are Mushrooms



You are down to earth and practical. You appreciate hearty foods and people.

You are very grounded. You aren't unnecessarily fanciful, and you appreciate the little things in life.



You are in tune with nature and the world around you. You appreciate the outdoors and animals.

You are likely very handy and good at doing things yourself. You're the type most likely to make your own pizza.



Okay... it's always a little freaky when they nail me on these quizzes.

================

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Short Note

Well... my DH was home sick for part of the week last week, and it looks like he shared. I fought a sore throat all day yesterday and this morning feel a bit like I've been run over by a truck.

So ... that's all from me today. I only got up because the cat and dog needed care. I think I'm going to go lie back down now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nothing To See Here ....

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend. ~Zenna Scha

Nothing new here. It's hot, we have pillars (found yet another new one yesterday ... sheesh. We named him Quentin, since the hurricanes don't have a "Q" name.), my garden loves the weather (even though I don't), I'm already giving cucumbers away (we eat 1 - 2 a day and are harvesting twice that).

I did spray and dress my squash yesterday. I also squished a squash borer moth, little bugger. Hopefully I put the nylons on my squash in time, but I plan to saturate the socks with that poison regularly, so if eggs DO hatch underneath, the worms should die before they can do damage.

I actually harvested three squash -- but I can't have too much squash. Unlike cucumbers, I can freeze squash. You can only eat so many pickles.

In any case, that's all for now. A boring weekend (no, I'm not complaining... there's nothing wrong with boring!) and not a lot to say.

Have a great weekend!

=====================




You Are an Intense Person



You are thoughtful and responsible. It's rare that you find yourself in a bind.

You are naturally low energy. You have to nurture yourself in order to cultivate endurance.

When you get tired, you slow down at first... but then you usually get a second wind.

You are happiest when you reflect on what you have to be thankful for in your life. Happiness is a choice.



Mostly right :-)

======================

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Really Good Book

A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good. ~ Samuel Johnson

Thanks to all for your comments on books yesterday -- I'm actually reading one of the best books I've picked up lately. Mary mentioned it in her comments, and I'd just picked it up from Carina Press a few days back because it sounded like a hoot. It's "Exclusively Yours" by Shannon Stacey, and the author has an absolutely fabulous voice (especially if you're a fan of romantic comedy -- this book isn't "comedy" per se, but it doesn't exactly take itself seriously, either). I'm only about 60 pages in, but I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open last night and then laid there and thought about the thing, and can't wait to open it up and read some more. Provided something awful doesn't happen, this will end up being one of my favorite books of the year so far.

Thank heavens. It was such a breath of fresh air after the last two that I read.

So, THANK YOU Shannon Stacey. I owe you, big time.

=======================

Hey ... if you didn't notice, I've been responding to your comments IN the comments section. I'm trying to be better about doing that, and am getting over twice a day to do so. Because, yanno, I appreciate you all swinging by and saying "howdy". I'm also almost caught up with visiting the folks I was behind on (I missed you!). I wish I had hours a day to blog hop. I really do enjoy it.

========================

So, yesterday I went to the dollar store for pantyhose to wrap the stems of my squash plants. They didn't have any, so I bought these incredibly chincy trouser socks in a gawd-awful shade of puce that are pretty much the same texture. This morning, I'm going to spray the pogees out of each stem with my poison -- in case there are already eggs there (so when they hatch, when they start eating they should die) and then wrap the stems in the socks. I'll have the best dressed squash on the street. With any luck, I won't lose my squash plants this year. :::fingers crossed:::

========================

In Pillar Place: Monarch, I found two more butterbabies yesterday while harvesting food for the OTHER twenty-five. Cuz, yanno, I needed more to tend to. One of them did a Kamikaze leap from his leaf (monarch pillars do this for protection -- but they attach a web first). I saw him dangling there, in mid-air, so nabbed him. Another was on the back of a leaf ... he's not looking too healthy, so I'm not sure he's going to survive.

We also have HUGE numbers of Tussock Moth caterpillars. They hang out together for the first few days and utterly decimate milkweed leaves. Once they're a bit bigger, they move out on their own, and are just the prettiest looking things. I know I've posted pictures of them before, but I can't stand it... don't you just want to pet them? (And, yes, I actually DO pet them when I find them. They don't seem to mind).



====================




You Are Shampoo



When a problem comes your way, you jump at the opportunity to solve it.

You're especially good at "cleaning house" and making sure a tight ship is being run.

You find it easy to let go of the past and move on with your life. You're a big believer in fresh starts.

You don't leave a lot of room for junk in your life. If something doesn't suit you, you're eager to toss it to the curb.



Um... yeah. That's about 85% right. I'm not so good at letting go of the past, but the rest? Right on! LOL...

====================

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Frustrated...

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

Twice in two days I've started reading books that I ended up putting down after just a chapter or two. While it's a shame these books didn't have better editors -- editors who would tell the authors what NOT to do and help them fix it (because I think both stories had potential) -- reading poorly constructed books really helps me write my own stuff. It's always easier to see errors in other books.

The first book was chock full of telling. I remember when I first started writing, I didn't understand what people meant when they'd say, "SHOW, don't TELL". I had to have it spelled out for me (very slowly and using one syllable words). Now, though? When I come across it, especially when it's as blatant as this book (which surprised me, honestly, because the publisher usually sends out good stuff), it drives me wonky.

In this case, we'd see something like the H/H having dinner. Sexual tension sparks are flying back and forth despite their distrust of each other -- all nicely written and SHOWN. And then, in case we're too stupid to get that, the author would write something like, "Martha was terribly attracted to Jed, but simply couldn't trust him because of his job."

If this had only happened now and then, I probably could have overlooked it. But it was constant and I finally couldn't stand being hit over the head with the obvious any more. Book was closed and deleted from my Nook.

The second book, a romantic suspense novel, had great potential The author is clearly talented with wordsmithing, which is the only thing that kept me reading past chapter two.

In chapter one, we start with a bang. It's interesting and exciting as a good suspense should be. It introduces the Big Evil -- in this case a wacko stalker -- and it all takes place in the dark which really made it even scarier.

Then came chapter two. This one? A day in the life. La-de-da. She did this, she did that, got a Christmas tree, put it up, decorated while listening to music. The next chapter? Her friend shows up for Christmas. They have a snowball fight. The go out for dinner. ... ...

:::bangs head on keyboard:::

I kept waiting for something to happen. Oh, the heroine would occasionally think she saw something in the shadows, but that would take one line and then be gone and we'd return to a moment by moment run down of her very average day.

Broke my heart, because I really wanted to like this book.

IMHO, in a suspense book you need to keep the tension high. Maybe you don't have to have it front and center on every page, but it needs to be just behind everything, poking now and then, rearing its ugly head and keeping you waiting for the bogeyman to leap out of the shadows.

So, this book was closed and deleted from my Nook.

Why has a book disappointed you recently? And, any good newly released romances you can recommend for my reading drought?

============================

All is quiet in Pillar Place: Monarch. Well, actually, it's pretty noisy -- they're LOUD when they eat! -- but not much is happening except eating, pooping, and growing. Just like human babies. *G*

============================




You Are Brilliant



You see patterns and meaning where other people see nothing. You have an amazing mind.

You are often the smartest person in the room, but you don't let it go to your head. You are quite humble.



You like to think, analyze, and challenge. For you, there's nothing more boring than people not open to ideas.

You are always changing your beliefs and theories. Your brain is extremely flexible.



Hmmmm... That's about 60% right. At least that's the number my amazing mind came up with. *G*

==========================

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Random Thoughts from a Random Mind

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself. ~Marlene Dietrich

It's raining! Color me happy, happy, happy. It's supposed to rain on and off all day long. I'm so thrilled. :::happy dancing:::

I've been watching the female crab spider we have outside. At first, I thought she was hiding underneath the milkweed leaf to hunt (they don't spin webs, exactly, they wait for an insect to get near and then - WHAM! - they nab it). She's there every day, legs outstretched just looking like she's ready to grab something. But I finally looked closer and realized ... she's guarding her egg sac. The tip of the milkweed leaf is folded over and then sealed with webbing, and she backs up onto it and guards it. The sad thing is that she'll die before her babies are born. I was worried about her eggs over the winter (I'm feeling very "Wilbur-ish"), since the milkweed dies down, but I discovered that they hatch in summer (which means I won't have her to watch much longer) and grow to be about 5mm, then overwinter in the ground as spiders. I hope I get some again next summer. They're fascinating.

Yesterday, while walking Dakota, we encountered the Schnauzer at the end of the street again. I don't think I mentioned our last encounter with him a week or so ago, but it was ... interesting. He came charging out, barking and posturing as always, and I had Dakota on a short leash behind me (because he attacks her) and was slowly backing him into his driveway like I do when -- BAM! -- Dakota slipped between my legs and attacked! I guess she'd just had enough of him and gave this low-throated bark-bark-bark and lunged. He lunged and we had an old-fashioned dog fight on our hands. Thankfully, all it took was me yelling at them to knock it off, but it was a little dicey since my dog's leash was wrapped around one leg (why she had to got THROUGH my legs, I have no idea).

In any case, when we saw him yesterday, he was about 100 yds away and started barking. I refuse to be forced to not walk anywhere on my street, so I put Dakota on a short leash (and warned her very sternly to be good this time) and walked around the circle. That's when the most incredible thing happened -- when we got about 75 feet away he shut up. And at about 50 feet he slowly retreated into his driveway, watched us walk past with nary a yip, and let us pass completely unmolested. He's always been afraid/cautious of me, and won't challenge me, but I guess Dakota putting him in his place finally showed him that we weren't to be messed with.

I told DD -- that's the perfect example of a bully. He picked on Dakota as long as she was weak. But the moment she showed her strength, he backed down. Fascinating.

I've picked five nice, long cucumbers from my garden (I grow the burpless kind that are long and skinny, with few seeds) and have about a dozen more that will be ready in a week or so. My squash is growing like crazy ... BUT... I saw another squash borer moth yesterday, so don't expect it to live much longer. I've been spraying the base of it with an organic pesticide that will kill the worms if they ingest it and it doesn't affect beneficial bugs like ladybugs (though it will kill bees, so I've been careful not to spray the flowers and pulled all the blossoms from the base of the plant). I don't know if it will work or not, but I'm doing the best I can. These stupid borers are the only bugs I can't "pick" and it frustrates me to feel so helpless.

In Pillar Place: Monarch, all the pillars are growing like weeds. It's truly amazing how quickly they grow! While getting food for them yesterday (had to pick TEN milkweed leaves), I found two more teeny, newly hatched pillars, so we have a new Upsilon and a Matthew. 25 monarch caterpillars. I'm a little afraid to look for them at the library ... but we have to go there today to drop off/pick up books and it's become a bit of a compulsion to at least glance at the milkweed.

We have four pupae thus far: Xi, Rho, Pi and Omicron. They take 10 - 14 days to emerge, and Xi became a pupa on the 11th ... so earliest will be the 21st. I can't wait.

I'm so thrilled it's cooled off outside.. and there's a break in the rain for an hour or so, so I think I'm going to take a walk! YAY!

Have a great day.

========================




You Are Mild



You get as many thrills as wild people do, however your thrills tend to be more of the laid back variety.

You believe that the deeper you get into something, the more you enjoy it. And you need calm to do that.

You are one of the least superficial people around. You have intense and passionate interests.

You don't get bored easily. How could you? There is so much to learn about and think about!



Yep ... that's quite true.

====================

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Busy Monday

All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing. ~Maurice Maeterlinck

So, yesterday was Monday (yay!) and things sort of got back to normal. Since DD doesn't have school, and it's SO hot outside, I need to find things (besides watching TV) to keep her busy. Yesterday she did some scrapbooking, so that was good. Today, I'm encouraging her to make more items for DistinctivelyDD (I posted some new stuff last week, but we really need to build up the numbers again).

In Pillar Place: Monarch, Rho, Pi and Omicron are now pupae. Monarch chrysalis' have to be the most beautiful things, with the shiny gold accents and smooth green exterior. Amazing, don't you think?


Sadly, we had our first casualty of the year. Every morning I open all the containers, do a poop dump and see if they are alive and if they need food. Yesterday, I found Upsilon, brown and hard, on his leaf. So...RIP Upsilon. Monarch pillars have an odd tendency to die for no apparent reason, so this doesn't surprise me, but it did make me sad. I was really hoping for 100% survival this year.

But then, I also almost did one in myself! DD had taken it upon herself to moisten the floral foam, but she did it TOO much and there were puddles on the bottoms of the containers, which is very bad for a couple reasons. One, these pillars are sill nearly microscopic (maybe 1/8" long and thin as a straight pin) and would drown in a drop of water. Two, because it's so warm, when the containers are closed they would act as a greenhouse and have condensation all over -- which could rot the little pillars.

So, we were pulling out the leaves, one by one, and using a paper towel to dry out the containers. I'd have DD hold the leaf while I dried and on one, Gaston's, when she handed it back to me, I accidentally brushed where the pillar was!! I looked at the side of my hand, now covered in tiny pillar poop (it looked like someone had peppered my hand) -- no pillar. Looked at the leaf -- no pillar!! Looked at the table -- no pillar. But I was holding it up near the edge, so DD started looking on the floor. For a tiny, opaque pillar with a little black head.

Shockingly, she found him. Now, we had to figure out how to pick him up because he's too small to use fingers, to fragile to use anything hard (like tweezers). I finally settled on using a small, soft cosmetics brush to "sweep" him back onto his leaf. It seemed to work, and he was crawling around last I looked (last night), but this morning when I check, we'll see if he was hurt more than he appeared.

There's endless adventure in Pillar Place!

===================

It rained yesterday! Okay, only for about ten minutes, but it dumped the whole time. Still, when I went out about an hour later to check the mail, I looked at the garden around my mailbox, and it was dust dry with all the flowers wilted! I filled up a small jug and carefully poured water on the most delicate of the flowers there. Mostly there is seedum and portulaca, which is pretty drought resistant, but I also have clematis and petunias, which are not.

We're expecting more significant rain on Wednesday. I really, really hope they're right.

===================

I was utterly swamped over in LASR/WC/Aurora yesterday, and didn't get to visit blogs. I'm missing everyone!! I'm scheduling blog-hopping time today, dang it, and will swing by soon. No writing yesterday either. It was all work, all the time.

===================




You are a Rubik's Cube



You are engaging and popular. People are drawn to your colorful personality.

As much as they try, people can't stay away from you.

And while you seem easy to understand, people can't figure out what direction you're coming from.



Oh yeah, that's me -- Miss Popularity.

==================

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Ramble ...er ... I'm Versatile!

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. ~Edgar Allan Poe

Lookie! Liz Fichera has awarded me the versatile blogger award. I've often said that I tend to ramble ... perhaps I have too many things I enjoy, or it could be that I just talk a lot (just don't ask my husband which he thinks it is). In any case, I was quite flattered (thanks, Liz!).

The Versatile Blogger award does come with a few strings attached, though.

They are:

1. Thank the folks who gave you the award and and link to them;
2. Share 7 things about yourself;
3. Pass along to 15 bloggers (and link to them); and
4. Pay it forward: Comment on their blogs to tell them they are now recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award.

So ... okay ... here goes.

Seven things that I haven't mentioned before. This it tough, because I'm honestly not that interesting.

1. There are very few foods I won't eat... but lima beans are one of them. When I was little I can still remember my dad setting the timer on me and I had to eat them by the time the timer went off or get punished. And I would sit and cry because I didn't want to be punished, but I would NOT eat lima beans. Still won't -- but there's no timer involved anymore, thank heavens.

2. I have a very low tolerance for repetitive noise. If someone ever wanted to torture me, they'd only have to tie me up in a room with a dripping faucet. I'd lose my mind (what's left of it, anyway) in no time at all. The worst part of this is that my DD is a fidgeter and will often sit and just ... tap. Her foot, her finger, her pencil or whatever. Drives. Me. Nuts.

3. I always wanted to be a veterinarian growing up. But, after high school, I decided I couldn't face eight years of college. It's one of my great regrets.

4. I can't NOT multi-task. I watch TV and work on the computer. Eat and read. Have twelve windows open on my computer. Cook dinner and clean the house. Doing only one thing makes me crazy. Doing nothing? Would send me to the funny farm. My DH doesn't understand why I don't want to go somewhere isolated on a vacation and just veg. :::shivers:::

5. I spent several years of my young life living in the boonies with no power, phone or running water. I learned how to milk goats, wash clothes on a wash board, how to garden, raise chickens and ride horses. I also learned how to do homework by lantern, how to take a spit bath in the winter and that it's really cold in the middle of the night when you have to potty and the outhouse is 150 feet away. And now, my DH doesn't understand why I don't like to go camping...

6. I have a deep-seated fear of swimming in natural water. If I *have* to swim in it, I won't touch bottom unless I'm wearing shoes.

7. I love rodents. They are so incredibly cool. Sadly, my DH does not feel the same... but I plan to outlive him, so I'll be an 80 y.o. lady with pet rats. Ha! I'll be the crazy rat lady. *snort*

Fifteen Bloggers? Dear dog ... okay (:::deep breath:::), here goes:

1. Diane Craver
2. Dru
3. Groovy
4. Allie Boniface
5. MJ Fredrick (Mary!)
6. MaryC
7. Keri Mikulski
8. Melissa McClone
9. Jennifer Shirk
10. Brandy

ACK ... my blogging time is nearly up for the day. I'm calling ten blogs "close enough", and nominating anyone who comes to my blog to comment today and isn't on the list. Okay? *G*

==================

In Pillar Place: Monarch, Xi turned into a chrysalis, Pi is in a "J" and Earl hatched. We also found another egg (I SWEAR, I'm not looking, but when I'm picking food, I check for them and they're everywhere!!!), so we're now up to 24 monarch pillars/eggs.

I expect to have another mass hatching today.

==================




People Are Drawn To Your Passion



You are intense about every thing you do, and this intensity inspires people around you.

It's clear that you care deeply about the others. You make everyone feel like they're your best friend.

You are always doing great and interesting things. You leap into action.

And while you're busy, you take time to connect and re-connect with others. You are very thoughtful.



Um... not so sure about this one...

==================

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Busy Day At Pillar Place

And the case of butterflies so rich it looks as if all summer settled there and died. ~ Philip Larkin, "Autumn"

First off, I have to say our "rain storm" was a bit of a bust. It poured all around us, especially south (lucky Boston), but we got little more than a dribble. There's a slight chance of some thunderstorms today, but for the most part there's not more rain in the forecast for nearly two weeks.

We're dying here. Literally.

====================

Pillar Place was pretty crazy yesterday.

In Pillar Place: Monarch -- we had THIRTEEN eggs hatch. Yes, you saw right: THIRTEEN. Things are going to be REALLY busy in a week or so, keeping up with the hungry pillars. We watched three of them actually hatch (all the while wishing for a magnifying glass). It's pretty amazing. Check out this video:



This photo (borrowed from this blog post on raising monarchs -- which has some incredible pictures, if you're interested) shows just how tiny the eggs are:




In other Monarch news, Xi is hanging from his roof in a "J" and should be making his chrysalis very soon. Our first baby is growing up! It was so fast. We found him as a little bitty pillar only ten days ago, and he's already becoming a butterfly. It's amazing how quickly they grow.

In Pillar Place: Swallowtail, we got a bit of a surprise last night! I went to check on Xi because he'd been on his roof, and I glanced at the swallowtail box and -- there were two butterflies inside! The pupae had never turned black, so it was completely unexpected, and they'd probably been there all day. It wasn't as though we could release them anyway, due to the general cool, overcast and damp day, but I felt a little bad about them being cooped up all day anyway.

So, that's the last of our swallowtails. And, incredibly, it's the first season we've EVER had without any casualties. No pillars dying, no butterflies hatching with disabilities. How wonderful!

So, hopefully it'll clear up and be sunny in a few hours so we can release these two. Do you suppose they'll send a postcard?

=======================

One more day of DH's vacation and then we're back to normal here at the homestead. Actually, it's been remarkably calm and relatively stress-free for a change, so I haven't minded the disruption in routine.

We've gotten all of DD's curriculum in the mail, and are awaiting the delivery of the DVDs. She's agreed that we should start early, doing only a day or two a week in August, just to get back into the swing of things slowly.

She's taking a typing course this year, so that's exciting for her. She's always amazed at the fact I can type without looking at the keyboard, lol. I told her that I learned to type on a circa-1900s manual typewriter (remember that typewriter, Mom?) and in high school "upgraded" to an IBM Selectric. I remember days and days of learning how to type on carbon paper, and ... remember White Out? Ah.... the days of no computers. PCs weren't commonly available until I was a junior in high school, and even then it was ones like the Commodore 64 (with 64 megabytes of memory -- which was HUGE then). Ahhh... the memories.

So, my DD is in junior high this coming school year. Seventh grade. How did that happen??

=========================

I've recently discovered that there are blog posts not showing up in my Google Reader. If I haven't visited you recently, that's probably what happened. I'm trying to go through my list on reader one-by-one to get to folks who've posted and I've missed, but it's remarkably time consuming. I haven't forgotten or ignored you. It's just a technology fail. Sorry!!

==========================




You Should Move To a Better Neighborhood



You really don't have the personality for moving. You only move if you should.

You tend to worry about what might go wrong, so moving should be a clear upgrade for you.

You would might rest easier if you were in a safer part of town closer to more services.

Consider upgrading neighborhoods or home if you can. A homebody like you should have nice home to live in.



HAHAHAHAHAHA.... neighborhoods don't get much safer than mine. This cracks me up. And I *love* moving. Love it. I get itchy if I don't move every few years (so, yeah, I'm REALLY itchy now).

It needs to say, "You should move out west so you can be closer to family and friends who matter, and so you wouldn't have to deal with Japanese beetles and deer flies any longer."

Why doesn't it say that?

=====================

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This Ain't Nothin'

The man who doesn't relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on. ~Elbert Hubbard

We found two more monarch eggs yesterday -- and we aren't even looking! I found them while getting food for Xi and Pi. I had purchased some new containers at the store, but I'm out AGAIN. We're now up to 22 monarch egg/pillars. Dear heavens.

We're expecting rain today. YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!

Maria Zannini is having a blogfest -- she's sharing some of her fave blogs (she shared mine yesterday :::blushes:::). If you're looking for aome cool new blogs to visit, you should check it out.

That's it from my neck of the woods, except for this video I feel I have to share. I love the meaning in it -- whenever you think your load is heavy, remember it could be so much worse.

This Ain't Nothin' by Craig Morgan ... my new fave song:



Have a great weekend!!

======================




You Are a Realist



You are a down to earth person, but you know how to have your fun. You strike a good balance.

You see the world clearly, and you're good at anticipating problems. You are very proactive.



You are sophisticated and classy. You don't try to grab attention, but you always get plenty of it anyway.

You are rich in personality, spirit, and probably even wealthy. You never flaunt your advantages.



First part, absolutley. Second? HAHAHAHAHAHA... no.

=====================

Friday, July 09, 2010

Observing Nature

Drinking nature is an unquenchable thirst. ~ Berri Clove

I'm sitting her with monarch pillar, Xi, watching him munch. It's truly amazing they eat as much as they do -- he's about two-thirds grown, and is going through two HUGE milkweed leaves a day.

We found eight more monarch eggs yesterday -- I don't have enough containers, though, so need to go out and get some more Gladware-type containers. Lots of people raise monarchs in one huge box, but I find that it's easier to put them each in their own so the chrysalis isn't disturbed. I also prefer a plastic container so the milkweed leaves stay fresh and moist (I also put a bit of floral foam at the tip of each stem to help keep the leaves fresh -- yes, I spoil the pillars).

I'm encouraged by the number of eggs we're finding this year. And, once we can get back to the library (if it's ever not 90+ degrees outside), I suspect I'll see even more.

Here's a picture or two of Xi I took this morning... isn't he gorgeous?




And a photo of one of the five swallowtail butterflies we released a couple days ago (it's on my DD's swimsuit):



We have the coolest spider outside on one of the milkweed plants ... it's a female goldenrod crab spider: pure white with a little splash of red. She's fascinating to watch.

In fact, IMHO, nature is fascinating. Sometimes I think people just don't bother to notice, but I've found that my DH is starting to get into the groove. This morning, he watched Xi eat for several minutes, and then later as he was getting his boat ready, he noticed a small green spider spinning a web on on of the metal fixtures and stared, then commented on how perfect its web was. I had to wreck the web to move it, but I was still tickled that DH had stopped long enough to observe and be interested.

Have you taken the time to watch nature lately? It's pretty amazing.

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In other news, they're predicting a LOT of rain to hit us tomorrow. Yay! The only problem is, there may be flash floods in some areas. Still, it's going to be a HUGE help. Unfortunately, the hot weather will return after the rain.

I picked my first squash yesterday. My cucumbers are getting huge. So ... while this heat has been drying things out tremendously, it's also causing things to grow (we won't talk about the weeds ... it's just been too hot to get outside and weed, so things are a little crazy).

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In writing news, this story is going really well. It's been fairly easy to write, which must mean it's the one I'm supposed to be working on. Setting the timer for 20 - 30 mins each day has been helping, too. It keeps me focused AND gives me a goal to strive for.

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You Are Egg Sushi



You aren't the most adventurous person in the world, but you're trying to step out of your comfort zone.

New things tend to freak you out a bit, especially if they are very different from what you're used to.

You prefer to take baby steps whenever you undertake something challenging. Too much at once can overwhelm you.

You tend to be cautious and disciplined. You think through every action you take, even if evaluating your options slows you down a bit.



That's about right...

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Watching a Miracle

I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. ~William Hazlitt

Yesterday, when I went out to bring in my clothes from the line I saw my first live monarch butterfly. I hollered for DD and she came tearing out. I said, "I think it's a female... look how dark her lines are."

And then came the most amazing thing: she started laying eggs. I swear, seeing nature up close and personal feels like witnessing a miracle. We held very still and watched as she fluttered around, selecting just the right leaf (she only chose the healthiest milkweed -- one side of mine is in the direct sun and isn't doing as well, but one side is in almost complete shade and is near the faucet so stays pretty damp and cool and is thriving. She fluttered around the unhealthy milkweed, but always came back to the good plants) and then she'd land, curl her little butt around and ... POP... out came a tiny egg.

Here's a YouTube video I found showing a backyard butterfly doing just that:



In any case, we gathered most of her eggs after she was done (she got chased off by a Fritillary -- who knew they were territorial? I hope she'll be back). It was a little dicey collecting the eggs because our milkweed blooms are absolutely covered with bumblebees (it sounds like a distant motor outside with all the buzzing), but we pulled in nine. I'll check again today.

So, along with Xi, Pi, Omicron and Rho (all of whom are growing like weeds) we now have: Sigma, Tao, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega, Alex and Bonnie (who share a leaf). We ran out of Greek Alphabet letters and have moved on to the 2010 Hurricane names *G*.

Another swallowtail has hatched this morning -- we've lost track of who is who, so ... we'll let her remain nameless. Only two left, but I'm all but positive one is going to overwinter. Her pupa is a completely different size and color than the others. We'll see (I really hope not).

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No rain yesterday. There's a 15% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon, so we'll see... really, our best chance comes on Saturday with a 50% of rain off and on all day. Then it clears up again, so I really, really hope it pours on Saturday.

So far, my garden isn't dying (I do admit to cheating and watering my spinach and swiss chard that's in pots). :::fingers crossed:::

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You Are Cheerful



You are a friendly and welcoming person. You know how to make the best of a bad situation.

You tend to think most about yourself. You can't help but look inward and introspect.

You are open minded and tolerant. You believe strongly that people should be allowed to do their thing.

You have the most fun when things are simple. You don't like making a big fuss out of anything.



About half and half, I guess...

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