Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summertime on the patio

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Our patio area in evening

It’s back to work today after a pleasant “weekend,” our two days coming during midweek.  Can’t say we did anything exciting, but we do enjoy our days off just “be-ing.”

We’ve started playing chess again, usually at least one of the nights we’re off.  See the table in between the chairs in the photo above?  Turns out it’s just the right height for a chess table.  As we progress through the summer months, you may just find us set up on the patio for a match or two in the evening.  Right now it’s still a wee bit on the chilly side for that, so we’ve brought the table indoors and have the chess set on it.

Flowers in front 06052018

Residents in our community are not allowed to plant in the flowerbeds, but we can place pots around.  Flamingo now has a bit of company and color to the front of our townhome.   Folks have all sorts of decorations, potted plants and bird feeders in their flowerbeds and on their patios.  It’s fun to walk around and see what everyone has.  I’m pleased with ours this year.  Last year being our first summer her, we really didn’t do much with our area.  This year, however, it’s cozy, cheery and pleasant.

I’m grateful that we do have a patio area where we can just step outdoors instead of a typical apartment with no immediate access to the outside!  We feel we have the best location in the community located on the far side.  Our entrance and patio area are both very private.

One needs to remember that whatever one puts out on the patio, one will need to bring in once Winter starts to appear.  The plants will succumb to Mother Nature’s chill and the decorations will be stored in our garage.  Put the Summer things in and bring the snow shovel out!

Clematis 06052018

At our site in New Jersey, I had a lovely clematis.  Have been wanting another and found this cutie the other day.  Repotted it and am hoping the blooms will indeed be the dark violet/purple color.  Should find out pretty soon, as there are a couple of blooms waiting to open! 

Roma tomato plant 06072018

The newest – and probably final – plant addition this year is a Roma tomato!  We’ll see how that does.  If it and the cherry tomato plant produce, we’ll have tomatoes galore!

It’s June, but feels more like April with the exception of about 2-3 days of temps in the high 80s.  No complaints about that, but thinking it’s going to be a short summer!  Realistically, we have about 2.5 more months of “summer.”  With the arrival of September, it’s anybody’s guess.  We could ease into a nice autumn phase or … it might just start snowing with Winter fully upon us! 

For now, it’s enjoyment of the sunshine and warmth!

Hope your days are sunny and pleasant!

Ya’ll stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wrapping up May

We had a lovely 4-day mini vacation, staying home but making day trips.  One of those included an outing to Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.   We’re fortunate that so many state parks are just a short drive from home!

Weird – I notice the date on my post about the Itasca State Park outing is May 16.  Really?  We were on vacation from the 21st through the 24th, and the trip occurred during our time off.  Looks like Blogger was off about a week on that post.  I’ll be curious to see what date shows up for this one.

We wandered over to Park Rapids one day, just because we could!

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We strolled down the main drag, stopping in a few shops here and there.  Just playing tourist a bit.  The population of Park Rapids is just around 4,000, so it’s not large by any means. 

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That’s not traffic in the middle of the street; it’s parking!

I had not seen a Ben Franklin store in … well, I just don’t remember.  It’s been that long, and I had no idea there were still any in existence.  Just had to duck in there for a wee look around.  It contained literally just about everything!  It was like stepping back in time a few decades.

One thing we did notice was the high cost of goods, even in Ben Franklin.  Yikes!  I wonder if that is because it is such a small town and is pretty much geographically away from everything.  There is a Walmart there, but we didn’t see it.  Park Rapids does have community activities and festivals, and I bet during summer months it is busy due to its proximity (there ya go, Sue!) to Itasca State Park.

At any rate, it was a nice run for the Wee Beastie and for us.  Yes, it really was that cloudy in the photos!

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Our patio with some new additions this year.  The yard crew will be around soon to mow the grass.

Raining somewhere 05252018

It was raining somewhere on this evening.

Sculpture walk 05222018

One of the pieces from Bemidji’s 2018 Sculpture Walk.  (The website has not been updated for this year yet.) In addition to the sculptures, there are various painted dogs throughout downtown this year.  This one was, of course, outside Lucky Dogs, a hot dog café!

We’ve resumed our usual routine of work and life after a pleasant respite.  It was good to get out and about, but we also enjoyed just hanging out at home and truly relaxing. 

There is another vacation in the planning stages, this one a #MNbucketlist item for yours truly!  We’re looking at doing the Highway 61 North Shore drive in early Fall.  As former full-time RVers, this is not a massive undertaking, but will take a wee bit of planning. 

Looks like fun!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Day Trip to Itasca State Park–Mississippi Headwaters

Itasca SP 05162018 8

Dave had a bike ride this morning, and then we hopped in Wee Beastie for a run of about 35 miles south on Hwy 71 to Itasca State Park.   As you can see from the photo above, this is the origin of the Mississippi River! 

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There is a small beach there, and we both put hand in the water.  Cold water, that is.

We could not have asked for nicer weather today!  I think we peaked at 85 F, which was warm but comfortable.  I took along my “real” camera, but didn’t use the telephoto lens.  At least the camera got out of its bag for an outing!

Itasca SP 05162018 7

Here is where the water spills out of the lake and begins its journey as the Mighty Mississippi

Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park, having been established in 1891.  It’s pretty large at more than 32,000 acres and more than 100 lakes.  You can read more about the park’s history here. 

We parked at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, strolled down to the headwaters and then walked the Schoolcraft Trail.

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There’s a café and gift shop at the Center, but it’s still too early in the season for them to be open.

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The 2 “dots” in the center of this photo, those are birds on the lake.

After completing the trail, we drove the Wilderness Drive, which is a 10-mile, one-way loop.  It begins at the Headwaters Center and brings you back to the main park office.

Itasca SP 05162018 11

To the left of center is a good-sized beaver dam!  Biggest one we’ve seen in the wild.

We also saw a porcupine, but by the time we got close enough to get a really good look, he/she was meandering back into the forest.  Oh well, at least we can say we’ve seen one in its natural environment!

Another reason for moving this far north is the fact that we are so close to several state parks.  We hope to get out and make use of that proximity throughout the months of good weather.

Back home a few hours later, relaxed, and fed with leftovers from yesterday’s dinner.  Getting out for a wee day trip – out in Mother Nature – makes me feel like I’ve had a real weekend.

We have a short work week of 4 days starting tomorrow, and then we’ll be taking a wee staycation of 4 days.  I already have another couple of day trips in mind.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We talked about a cat …

We talked about getting a cat, as cats are permitted in our townhome community. 

I’ve lived with cats before.  Funny, cats don’t live with you; they condescend to allow you to live with them.  Ha!

One of the cats I cohabitated with over the years was Rocky. He was indeed a Soul Mate.

Rocky in leaves

Can you spot the cat?

He was such a character, a playmate, my buddy, and exhibited some dog traits in being my protector.  And I was his Mom, his companion, his playmate, his protector.

When someone would come to the front door, he would run to it and growl.  On a few occasions, he positioned himself between me and dogs, growling.  Yes, a cat did that!  We would play … him up in a tree at about my eye level and we would play peek-a-boo … him “hiding” behind a branch and then “peeping” out.  Oh, those were just some of the shenanigans we had!  Often I would wake up with Rocky sitting on my chest, watching me.  Yeah, okay, probably because he wanted me to get up and feed him, but …

Rocky Christmas 1986 on Chantilly Lane

Rocky – Houston, TX – circa 1986

I have lived with cats – usually more than one at a time - at different points in my life throughout the years, starting in my college days.  Here’s a few …

Toto in Houston in 1984


Samantha 01


Rocky, Toto and Samantha were offspring of the cat who resided at the baseball park in El Paso where I worked. Their sibling Napoleon was also part of my life during that period.

Quita and Snookums

Quita (left) and Snookums (right) circa 1990– These 2 were bonded and “adopted” off the street during a cold Winter in Houston. Quita showed up early one Winter morning.  Fed her “just once” because it was cold and she was pitiful. Well, she again appeared with Snookums, the next day.  The rest was history.

Red September 2000 in Brenham

Red (Brenham, TX, circa 2000), who abandoned his former home (complete with tags) where he wasn’t getting what he needed.  This boy was the “thorn in my side,” the perpetual “awkward teenager,” one minute with my hand in his teeth, the next instant gently touching my face with his paw.  I was “his,” as he so obviously indicated once by marking me!   Never a dull moment with Red.

Each of those feline companions have left a paw print on my heart, but … Rocky and I had a connection that resides in the spiritual realm.

So.  Dogs not being permitted in our community, we have been tossing around the idea of bringing a kitty into our home.  I even was looking at cat supplies in Walmart yesterday.   I cruised the local shelter’s pages of adoptable cats.  Yikes!

It has been 13 years since I have shared my home and life with a cat.

I’ve spent some time researching different setups for the litter box.  Did you know there is furniture for housing a litter box?  There are systems with which you can (supposedly) train your cat to use the toilet.  Want a laugh?  Check out this YouTube video of a woman’s attempt at toilet training her kitty.  Best outright laugh I’ve had in a while.  You’ll “get it” if you’ve lived with a kitty.

However.  Much like attempting to configure space for a dining room table with no success, there simply is no practical place for a kitty litter box.

Yes, folks, it boils down to that.  The litter box. 

I’m still toying around the with idea of volunteering in some capacity with our local shelter.  Looks like that is the most viable option at this point.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I Miss Being a Doggie Mom

Yes, I miss being a doggie mom. 

Maggie Happy Face Sikeston MO 2010

Maggie Mae Barnes shared Life with us from 2010 until October 2016.

Most days I’m okay with a dogless life, but hey, it’s Mother’s Day.  No card “From the Dog” again this year.

It is by choice at this point in my life that there are not paws heard in our home.  One of the reasons we chose this senior community is the fact that dogs are not permitted.

While that means our home is without a canine presence, my heart simply can no longer withstand seeing others treat their dogs in ways we would never dream of doing with one of our own.

Our dogs were family, and we treated them as such.

That being said, if management were to reverse the no-dog policy, we’d be hightailing down to the shelter.

Baby 02192009

Baby, who shared Life with me – and then us – for about 12 years until crossing over The Rainbow Bridge in 2010.

Maggie was the child Dave and I never had together.  Baby, on the other hand, spent most of her years with me before Dave’s entrance on the scene.  She was my protector, my strength, my playmate, my Soul Mate.  She truly had more of the protector instinct in her and less of “being the child.”  Perhaps that was the Shepherd in her makeup. 

Maggie had health issues off and on during her life, and required quite a bit of care at times.  Baby had no health issues her entire life, except those associated with age in her last year.  She was pretty much “rock solid.”

Maggie had the innocence and spirit of a child.  Baby was a wise Old Soul and, although playful and silly, she tended to look after me probably more than she needed looking after.

Perhaps that’s why Maggie felt more of the “child” and why I’m missing her particularly fiercely today. 

I’m fine, really, and this will pass. 

I’m so very grateful for the years with Baby and Maggie, for the memories and love I carry in my heart now and always. 

I can just picture the two of them together in the Afterlife.  I am positive they are together and having fun, restored to youthfulness and health.

I know, absolutely know, that they will be waiting for me when my time comes to cross over The Rainbow Bridge. 

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!