My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Friday, July 27, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: Moonfruit :-)


You've probably heard of Starfruit... well, this is Moonfruit! :-) 

Not fully ripe yet, but a sweet treat for the eyes nonetheless. 

Feast your eye on more treats in the sky at...


And have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ABC Wednesday: A Bonanza of B's


B is for:

A Bentley (or more specifically, a Bentley's hood ornament and badging), parked outside a local bistro...

I like how the branches are reflected on the bonnet
(It's a British car, so I reckon I'd best use the British word for hood!)

This is also a Bentley...

A Bentley who barks
(but barely, because Bentley's a good boy!)

Speaking of barks...

I like how the bands of sun & shade crisscross the bands of bark

A whimsical birdhouse spied on a walk...

I wonder if, when they get home, the buckaroo birds who live here 
belt out Gene Autry's song, "Back in the Saddle Again." :-)

And speaking of birds and houses, here's a Red-winged Blackbird on the cattails behind our new house that's being built (we hope to move in before the end of August)...


I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds 
than of cherries, 
and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. 
~Joseph Addison, essayist and poet (1672-1719) 

Be sure to visit ABC Wednesday for more bevies of Bs!
(especially behold the brilliantly bewitching Breathing Bridge!)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Home is where you hang your hardhat...



No, we're not hanging our hardhats (or any hats) there yet, though when this project started we thought we'd be about to move in by now. Such is new construction.

And such is trying to keep up with blogging about it ~ I can't believe my last house update post was three weeks ago today! But it doesn't mean I haven't been documenting the progress. Progress that hasn't been without glitches, such as window and door trim preventing vanity drawers in two bathrooms from opening fully, traffic flow issues requiring a post-installation kitchen island redesign, and a broken pump on the Sherwin Williams' tinting machine (it really does matter how much raw umber ends up in your paint samples!) The vanity drawers vs. trim battle is the latest one being waged, and though it's frustrating, we're optimistic it will be won. Again, such is new construction!


So, picking up where I left off on July 1, here's photographic evidence of some of the progress to date...

When we ride our bikes to the job site, we take this route through a quiet neighborhood and down the walking/biking path behind the house. That way we can sneak up on our contractors. ;-) It also affords us this fun view...

The back of our future house (in the middle), 
taken from the not-yet-paved neighboring walking trail.

On this holiday visit to the house, we were pleasantly surprised to see that most of the interior doors were hung! Here BW celebrates (with the door to our master bedroom behind him) by hoisting our master bathroom tile sample in lieu of a frosty mug of beer. Unfortunately, the celebration was premature since by our next visit to the house, all the doors had been removed and have been leaning against the walls ever since (we know not why). Oh well, it was fun while it lasted! 

The laundry room (over BW's right shoulder) now has a tiled floor, 
but the master bath tile sample remains just that - a sample.
That floor will be done when the shower tiling is complete.

If this guy had a pair of shorts and a face,
and were holding a tile and sunglasses,
he'd look a little like BW! Only not as tan. 
:-)

The next week was an exciting one, as Todd's Uncle Kirk came down from Montana to start our tile work. (He's my favorite of all the guys who have been working on the house). Here is the kitchen floor in progress...


And here it is, completed and grouted, and now with kitchen cabinets placed on it willy-nilly as they await installation...

Both upper cabinets in the corner will have glass doors

Sometimes it feels like things take forever to get done, but sometimes we'll go out in the morning to find a scene like the willy-nilly cabinets, only to return after lunch to find something like this...

The island re-design I mentioned has yet to be implemented,
but involves eliminating the raised breakfast bar on the right.
It would stick out too far and impede traffic flow from the garage.
The raised bar in front (facing the great room) will stay.
You can't always know things when they're ideas on paper,
you have to see them come together in reality first!
Then you cuss and find a fix, which is often a better idea anyway!

After Kirk finished the tile floors in the kitchen and front entry, he moved his operation upstairs...

The guest bathroom floor, which has since been finished
and isn't nearly as gold-colored as it appears in this photo

...while the hardwood floor guys got started in the living room...


It takes a lot of equipment to install wood floors! (they're finishing up the dining room in this photo, and have now finished that, the hallway, the half bath and the study. They plan to sand tomorrow and start staining on Tuesday)...

Note the masked windows ~ the painters got in on the action too, 
though so far it's all been prep work. 
Exterior painting is scheduled to start this week.

Here's Uncle Kirk prepping the master bath shower stall for tile...

It's halfway done, but I'll wait and show it to you finished.
Poor Kirk has had to work upstairs in 100º outside temps.
There's no a/c nor blown-in insulation in the attic yet,
and he can't use fans while he works 
because they'd dry the thin-set and grout too quickly.
I'd be wicked cranky, but he always stays cheerful!

And here's the most recent photo, taken just yesterday morning when we went over to slap our paint samples (now with adequate amounts of raw umber in them) on the walls. The maintenance-free shakes were just installed in the gables Friday afternoon, and the big red dumpster was moved so they could prep and frame the driveway for concrete (being poured Monday). So I finally had an uncluttered view of the front of the house and took advantage of it!...


In addition to the Challenge of the Vanities (let's hope it doesn't turn into a Bonfire, lol), there's a more complicated problem we just discovered that needs to be fixed - we're just hoping it doesn't cause significant delays. (I'll write about it as the details of the solution and its repercussions are made clear). Meanwhile, the hardwood floors and master bath shower are being completed, the driveway's being poured and the exterior painting is getting underway this week, our kitchen appliances are being delivered Thursday. And before the month is out we're also looking forward to seeing countertops and plumbing fixtures installed, the stone mason's arrival to finish the garage and front porch, interior priming and painting, and everyone is rooting for the HVAC guys to return and install the air conditioner! So stay tuned for more updates! :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: Daybreak


Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
~Maya Angelou~

Morning has broken like the first morning,

Blackbird is singing like the first bird...

Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,

Praise for them springing fresh from the world...
~Cat Stevens/Yusuf

Enjoy this new day, your weekend, and more lovely skies at...

And for some absolutely amazing time-lapse sky photography, watch the full-screen video at the end of this article...

(photos by Brad Goldpaint)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ABC Wednesday: An Accidental Garden


admit, I'm appalled that another round of ABC Wednesday has been announced already! I seem to be able to start out pretty ardently (and with the best intentions) at the beginning, hang in there fairly well through the middle, and then my spare time, efforts and creativity appear to fizzle around the letter T. I'm ashamed. Oh well, nothing better to do about it but to just attempt the entire alphabet once more. (Which I'm already doomed to abandon yet again, with another move to make in a month or so! Ack.)

A allows an especially appropriate opportunity to share with you an accidental garden (accidental as in "unexpected;" the garden itself was well planned and 19 years in the making!) that BW and I came upon during a bike ride last Friday.

This sign beside a pretty house's curbside mailbox attracted my attention as I pedaled past, and so we went back to read it...


The homeowners happened to see us from their window and came out to greet us. And so we met Al and Jackie, were allowed past this second, more intimidating sign on the gate to the back yard, and got to spend a lovely hour touring their 1/2 acre of appealing gardens beyond...


Half an acre of gardens is a big area, but luckily we had the accommodating services of an additional tour guide to assist. This is Artemus ("Artie" for short), who Al and Jackie were babysitting for a friend...


One of the first things that caught our eye was this lovely apricot tree. We weren't even aware you could grow apricots in Wyoming!


Here's the very zen-like Asian garden, complete with waterfall...


Jackie told us that a friend made the big wind chime from an oxygen tank!


This is their newest garden, "The Color Garden," created this year. Taking advantage of an abundance of free tires made available to them, they spray painted them various colors, added more colorful goodies, and created an abundance of cheery, whimsical rainbow hues to this area of the property...


Al makes all the wood creations, including this invitingly shady alcove, perfect for enjoying a  book and a refreshing beverage (like, perhaps, an ale!) on a hot afternoon...


The shady alcove is adjacent to Jackie's fairy garden, with its arbor and cavorting fairies (designed by Jackie and made by Al), caught in the act of mischievous fairy antics...


The Fairy Garden is reached via this alluring footbridge...


There are also a Victorian Garden, a Vegetable Garden, a Secret Garden, and many more flowers, shrubs and fruit trees. All those gardens and plantings require abundant agua, for which Al and Jackie drilled a shallow well. In Wyoming, water wells must be registered and named, so they named theirs "Aquarius 66," after the Water Bearer sign that Jackie was born under and the year they were married...


And what respectable garden would be complete without an arch but amiable gargoyle grotesque* to protect it from anyone arrogant and foolhardy enough to not abide by the Area 51 sign that admonished them not to enter?...


Good thing we had an invitation! :-)

Now avail yourself of my advice 
to visit all the other As in this new round at...


*My thanks to Barbara for the information in her comment about the difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque! I didn't know that a water spout (or lack thereof) set them apart. But I'm having a very hard time calling something I think is so cute "grotesque!" :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Carnival in the clouds


Today's the day the annual carnival packs up and hits the road. So I took this photo of the Ferris wheel, with the Big Horn Mountains beyond and promising rainclouds above, on our way to the new house last evening...


I see nothing in space as promising
as the view from a Ferris wheel.
~E.B. White


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Velocipedes, Jammers, & One Cool Dawg


This week has marked Sheridan's big annual shindig, when the rodeo and carnival come to town along with a crush of tourists, visiting family members and locals who moved away but return to town during this week like swallows to Capistrano or salmon to their spawning grounds. On Friday most businesses shut down early (if they opened at all), and Main Street is given over to events like a pancake breakfast, bed races (which are exactly what they sound like they'd be), and a parade, after which everyone heads to the bars, the carnival and/or the rodeo. Though we've attended in the past, for the last decade-plus we've avoided it like the plague. It's always hot (99º was the high on Friday), crowded, noisy, and filled with a lot of animals being forced to do stuff in the heat and noise that I doubt they'd ever choose to do if given a choice. Which, of course, they aren't. Anyway, it's not our thing (though I admit to being slightly tempted by the carnival rides!), but that doesn't mean we didn't get our own little private parade sneak preview early Friday morning...

It began with BW running past me, hollering something unintelligible in his exuberance, as I sat at the computer. He was so excited he had a hard time expressing what he'd seen that had him so excited and that he wanted me to come see. (It didn't help that he didn't know the name of what he'd seen!) It turned out it was our somewhat distant neighbor Rich, riding by on his velocipede, all dressed up in period clothing! By the time I got outside to see him he was hurtling past, down the street and around the corner and out of sight, and it was too late to grab my camera and get a photo. But wouldn't that have been great? Augh, curses!! Anyway, here's a simulation of what we saw, though Rich's clothing was actually much cooler-looking (Rich is actually quite cool - he's also a hot air balloonist! And clearly born a century too late)...


But, as it turned out, all was not lost! For shortly after the missed velocipede photo op we took the dogs for a walk and got another parade preview, on a nice, quiet neighborhood street, when we came upon this 1925 Glacier National Park touring bus getting ready to head for the parade route...


The owner (whose name we weren't told) lives in Billings, MT and drives his restored Glacier Park bus in parades. So maybe this was one of the two that were in the 2009 Rose Bowl Parade

(You can see a photo of it in Sheridan's parade, where it placed 3rd in the Novelty float category, by clicking here. It's a little more than halfway down the page).

A closeup of the logo on the bus door
The Rocky Mountain Goat is the official symbol of Glacier National Park

The bus also sports this beautiful license plate

If you've never visited Glacier National Park, I urge you to do so (soon, before its eponymous glaciers vanish completely!) Glacier is, in my opinion, the most beautiful of our national parks and well worth a visit. And guess what? You can even take a tour in one of the restored buses (1930's models), nicknamed "Jammers" back in the day because of the distinctive sound their original standard transmissions would make as the drivers jammed the gears going up and down the mountain roads. And a tour of beautiful Glacier Park in a Red Jammer is more fun than a hot, crowded parade any day! And probably safer and definitely easier than riding a velocipede. :-)


Meanwhile, as the heat drags on and there's not a glacier in sight, Tessa has been finding ways to stay cool. Like sleeping with her head in the communal water dish...


 ...forcing Willow to complain, "Mooommm! Tess is hogging the water dish again!"


After a little intervention by Mom, all is well...


Until Tess hogs the coveted space in front of the evaporative cooler...


"MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!"

Have a great weekend and

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"