Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Garden Update (and a Macro)

We just got home last night from a long weekend camping at Inks Lake State Park. I had a wonderful time in spite of having a migraine on the first day. I just hope that others do not mind the fact that I may not be around 100%. I am learning to just go and have fun and if I come down with a migraine (or something else), to just deal with it and pray that the others understand if I disappear into the tent. Why let health issues stop you from having a good time if you can. I did enjoy the rest of the time visiting with family and observing the kids run amok. I was not up to taking pictures though. Maybe next time we go and yes, we are going back to this particular park.

My Pathetic Garden Produce

I went out early this morning to tend and water the garden. I discovered some bell peppers were ready to harvest. One of them (the nose above) is yucky; but, the other two (the eyes above) may be okay. While out there, I noticed an insect that I had encountered in Houston in my attempt to grow tomatoes. It was an aphid and these particular aphids will suck the life (moisture) out of fruits and plants. I believe that is what is wrong with the yucky bell pepper – it may have been attacked by an aphid. Ugh!

I will have to research natural insect control and try again in the future. I may not have to resort to using natural insect control as we have lots of beneficial insects that eat aphids around here. So far, I have only seen one aphid whereas I had dealt with dozens in Houston that totally destroyed my tomato crop before I could even attempt to do insect control. We will see in the future as I still have a few bell peppers maturing. I prefer to keep my garden as organic as possible; but, aphids are hard to control. At least, the ones in Houston were. I am not going to let problems I encounter stop me from trying to grow a garden. I am determined to keep on trying in spite of them and find a solution(s) that work.

While weeding, I pulled up some fern-like weeds around the onions as there are some similar ones growing around on the property. To my shock, they were immature carrots (the smile in the face above)! I thought none of the carrot transplants (from seeds) had survived. It was growing practically right beside the onion; so, it is better that these particular carrots are gone. The only thing I can think of is that a particular hard rainstorm pushed a carrot transplant underground and towards the onion and it survived and tried to grow from there.

The marigolds in the center of the plant bed are flourishing. The two strawberry plants are gorgeous. I just have not been able to harvest a single strawberry due to the mockingbirds. (I actually witnessed a mockingbird land in the garden bed and eat part of a strawberry.) I do plan to plant more strawberry plants in the future after I build some screen protectors. The potatoes I planted are stunted. I will try a different method next time. All that is left is the onion and the bell pepper plants.

Since I was not here to do a Macro Monday, I will leave you with a macro picture of an beneficial garden insect that was on the siding beside the back door.

Praying Mantis; 06/25/2013

This one was approximately one inch long. Most of the Mantis I see around here are brown. Maybe this particular Mantis will work its way towards my garden and eat that aphid I saw. (I was not able to kill as it got away from me.) By the way, I have seen HUGE walking sticks around here, I observed one “walking” and it would rock slowly as it moved! I should have taken a picture of two; but, they were in a bad spot to take pictures. If I ever see one in a good location, I will try to take a picture of the mega ugly insect.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Charles Warren Hodsdon

Charles Warren Hodsdon (on left); 25 years service in Customs

It has recently come to my attention through the family grapevine that this man, my great-Uncle Warren, went home to the Lord back in May. I was greatly saddened to hear the news; but, I know he is in a happier place now. He holds a special place in my heart along with his first wife, Aunt Nellie, and my Gram (his sister and my father’s mother).

I rarely talk about personal things because I, for the most part, am very private. I also would never want to willingly hurt anyone that I love dearly. But, I am in a place in life where I feel freer to talk about the things that matter to me most. I will keep this as short as possible because I know no one likes a long read. Because of this, please know that there will be many gaps in this story of mine.

Unbeknownst to many, my grandmother indirectly saved my life. And, my Uncle Warren and Aunt Nellie helped saved my sanity. All three were lovely wonderful godly people whom God knew I needed most in a particular point in my life.

If it was not for Gram’s invitation to join her at a Christian youth camp in the summer of 1979 where she was a cook and for my folk’s agreement to let me go as long as my mother went along for the ride, I would not be alive today. Yes, you read that right. I was planning to kill myself because there was no way I was going to step foot into high school (grades 9 – 12) and repeat the pure living hell I went through in junior high (grades 6 – 8). I was in a deep dark place of despair without any kind of hope and I think no one truly knew what was going on inside me except for Gram who saw through many things.

The trip to Maine in the summer of 1979 changed my life. When I heeded God’s prompting and gave my life to the Lord in spite of lingering questions, I immediately was at peace deep within my soul and I then knew that I could not kill myself as God would consider it to be murder (of self). So, I put those plans aside.

I met Uncle Warren and Aunt Nellie at the youth camp (they were heavily involved at the time), they invited me into their home while my Gram and my Mother continue work as a cook in youth camp. Those (camp and at Uncle Warren's place) were the best weeks of my young life. I have many wonderful memories. They showed me unconditional love and the ways of the Lord. They were by no means perfect; but, they knew God and walked with Him to the best of their abilities.

Side note: I returned to Uncle's homestead in 1984 after first year of college. I suffered from extreme depression at that particular time and I knew I had to get away. They helped me return to myself during that summer. They gave me a safe place to just be and to heal. I know many in my family, including my folks, did not understand why I wanted to be there for most of the summer; but, it was what I needed to do and where I needed to be at that time in my life. My uncle and aunt seemed to instinctively know that I needed to be left alone and just shown unconditional love.

I am ever thankful to my great Uncle Warren and Aunt Nellie for putting up with a girl that loved them, to hang around learning new things and helping around the place. And, most of all, tag along fishing with him. He later told me that he enjoyed having someone with him who loved to go fishing whenever he went on those trips.

If only I could fly, I would go to Maine in a heartbeat. But, my fear of flying and the panic attacks have become way too much for me to handle. {I have not flown since June of 1999.) It would take something great to get me to step foot onto a plane once again.

Anyway, I needed to tell my story. I know Uncle Warren is having a grand time in heaven with all the loved ones who have gone before him.

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same. - Flavia Weedn

~John Taylor
Uncle Warren, I'll see you later.

{note: the first picture above was given to me by my beloved Gram eons ago}.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Macro Monday (Garden Spider)

Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia); 6/16/2013

Garden spiders are typically orb web weavers with the addition of fancy smancy signature web art (zig zags). I have not seen such gorgeous signature web art in years and this one was absolutely fabulous.

This little garden spider built its web in the oddest place – the upper corner of our back porch. I could not see the details of the spider itself with my naked eye due to its tiny size. I set my camera with macro lens on a tripod because the sun was setting and the wind was blowing. I knew I would need stability and my hands are not so stable these days for slower shutter speeds.

Below is a crop to see the spider to see its details :

Speaking of garden spiders, I saw one out back in the field in the morning of June 4th while wandering keeping my eyes on the cats (they are allowed out under supervision).

Front; 6/4/2013

This is what it looked like when I spied it in the tall grass and weeds. By the way, this is what I typically see -- the signature web art is not as fancy as the one I took of last night (first pictures above). It is more simple with only a single zig zag below the center.

{Cropped to see details of spider}

Back; 6/4/2013

I went around to the backside because I felt safer (ha!) to get closer and take more pictures.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Update on Rescued Kitten

The kitten now weighs 1 lb and 10 ounces and is approximately 6-1/2 weeks old. She just got her first shots yesterday and took it rather well. She hates being in a box when traveling in the car and sits rather calmly in your hands and/or lap gazing out the window which I think is extremely odd for a cat.

The quarantine ended last weekend. We built a temporary gate with netting to allow the cats and kitten to see and smell one another. It took a little time; but, kitten is now free to roam all over the place when I let her out of the room. The first time kitten tried to engaged Chessie, she (Chessie) hissed and thumped her on the head twice (with no claws). It was kind of funny because kitten reacted and rolled away from Chessie. There has not much trouble since then except a little hissing here and there when kitten wants to play.

On the other hand, Gracie reacted with fear and aggression. She just did not know what the kitten was. But, over several days, Gracie has come to relax around the kitten; but, she will not let kitten get near her. If kitten pushes her boundaries, there will be much screeching, hissing, and thwapping from Gracie. The first few times this occurred, I would panic and check out the kitten; but, not a single injury happened. So, it is all show on Gracie’s part and it works.

I am now at the place where I can just let the kitten out and run about. It’s so funny when she dashes madly about and suddenly realizes she is heading Gracie’s way and puts on the brakes. I witnessed the kitten hind come directly over her head once. Too funny. Gracie takes those experiences in stride now. She does lie down and watch the kitten play; but, she doesn’t want anything to do with it.

And oh, my two big cats have turned into thieves. They LOVE kitten kibble! Sheesh!

Anyway, here are a few pictures I took on June 12th. Ignore the mess. She has toys scattered and just adores that packing paper she found. Apparently, Gracie loves the packing paper too. We also gave her the edges of those floor mats to chew and claw on. Dan plays with her using one of these things and my goodness, kitten goes berserk ofen leaping in the air! Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordy Wednesday {Hidden}

Do you see it? No? Let me get closer…

How about now? Maybe? Still can’t figure it out?

There she is!

Gracie loves to lay down in the weeds (wildflowers to me) and watch the birds coming to the feeder. No, she does not attempt to go after them. She is just content to lay there and watch.

I have to confess that she often gives me a scare when I look up looking for her because she blends in so well among the weeds. The downside is that I have to comb her upon returning indoors because dandelion seeds get embedded in her fur and she is never happy with me when I comb her.

By the way, some wildflowers (weeds) were finally cut down last weekend around the house. We left some still growing at the side and the back. Chessie is much happier with the yard; but, I think Gracie is out of sorts. She now roams further to get to taller grass/weeds which makes me nervous.

{Pictures taken on May 17, 2013 with my practically new telephoto lens}

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kitten Misadventures (and a Video Clip)


{To see a larger image, go here.}

The kitten was moved to the office over the weekend and is so much happier. She has plenty of room to romp around in. She no longer sleeps in the cardboard house I made her when we first found her. She now sleeps anywhere she pleases including on the windowsill. And, boy can she jump! She is also a climber.

Well, the kitten had her first misadventure this morning. I did my usual routine which is leaving her food and and then eating my own breakfast. I then went to check up on her and to give her a little of me time. When I opened the door to the office, I heard her screaming. I was like "what's wrong?". She did not appear and I could not find her. This is the huge disadvantage of being profoundly deaf as I cannot tell where sounds are coming from.

At first, I thought she somehow got herself trapped in one of the boxes underneath Dan's computer desk. So, I ripped them open one at a time and no kitten was to be found. I was beginning to panic and texted my husband.

I then decided to use Gracie, my huntress, as my pointer "dog". I let her inside the office. She immediately got a bead on the kitten and hissed. It was in a completely different area from where the boxes are and from where I thought the kitten was trapped. I went to where Gracie was looking and looked for the kitten.

Imagine my shock upon discovering the kitten inside the basket of the paper shredder! It is extremely similar to the one pictured above. I never dreamed of this happening to a kitten!

The only thing I can think of how she managed to do this was she climbed the basket itself and her own weight caused it to pop open. Once she got the top, she must of hopped inside the basket which then caused the basket to close. Nonetheless, I was very much relieved upon seeing her and rescued the poor thing. I thank God for Gracie.

The basket of the shredder is now taped shut. When Dan gets home, I am going to have him put the shredder inside one of the closets.

So, there you have it - one misadventure the kitten had so far. I am praying that no more misadventures occurs down the road of time.

Here is a little bit of cuteness to leave with you guys. It was videotaped by Dan with his iphone either last Thursday or Friday.