Incredibly and unseasonably hot today - a humid ninety degrees, and a record high for this date here. My thermometer reads 82 degrees right now, at nearly 1am.
There's a nice breeze though, and a big, beautiful, bright white night-before-the-Harvest-Moon moon hanging in the sky.
Tomorrow night the moon is full, the first full moon after the equinox: the Hunter's Moon, Wine Moon, Singing Moon, or Elk Call Moon. Or the Harvest Moon. Whichever you call it, I'm sure it'll be beautiful. I love full moons.
Course, it means tomorrow will be a strange day at work; it seems like it always is when there's a full moon.
Same here today too - we had a nice, long drought-quenching rain last night, and today was much cooler, with sunshine. It was perfect weather to ski in the morning and work outside in the yard the rest of the day.
Moved a ton of bricks, (so it seems to my back), and hunks of concrete, (to which my back can attest), and shoveled a load of compost outta the back of my pick-up. I'm working on the vegetable garden, and turning it into three smaller beds - one containing the blueberries I moved - instead of one large garden. In went a yard of mushroom compost - I am determined next year to get veggies out of my patch of sand.
I started a "secret" garden for LX and BP, who wanted a tree-house, but are not going to get one anytime soon. The plans LX drew for her garden are about elaborate as the tree-house blueprints she drew....both involve waterfalls, bridges, and things only possible in the mind of an imaginative child.
I'm starting simple - a patio of pavers, and a few plants planted around it; that's all I could muster after the vegetable garden rehab.....and all I wanted to spend right now. Everything was free.
Saving up for next week: the RV trip north to the upper Mitten and the Traverse City area. Let's hope the trip is not a remake of the movie.
We've been busy preparing for our vacation the last couple of days. We are picking up the RV Monday, and heading out bright and early Tuesday morning come hell or high water. Budget or no budget!
ARGH!!!! Michigan's constitution is the only state constitution that says that the state will operate on a balanced budget, and that budget must be completed by the end of the fiscal year, (kind of ironic when you consider that fact that our state tax and unemployment rate is among, if not the most highest in the nation). The fiscal year ends midnight on Sunday, and still no balanced budget.
If a budget is not agreed upon by that time, a lot of state services, agencies, and such will cease to operate come Monday morning. Including the state parks. Our reservations for the trip are at one of these parks; one of the most beautiful in the state. In my in-box this morning was an e-mail from the reservation center saying to make contingency plans.
I wonder what the Traverse City Walmart parking lot looks like this time of year?
I'm on vacation; I'm on vacation. Picking up the Beast RV today, packing up, and heading out to the Traverse City State Park early tomorrow morning.
Yep - the state budget passed this morning, after a little more than four hours of government shut-down. The closure of the parks was minor in comparison to the other agencies and programs that would close, of course. Imagine this: Thirty thousand and some government employees out of work, and the unemployment offices closed. Stressed, wondering when and if their employment would resume and how they were going to put food in the mouths of their families. Those who smoke, (which, from experience, is nearly a necessity to calm nerves when stressed), could not buy cigarettes once the stores ran out of their in-stock supplies. Or liquor. The rioting that would ensue would run out of check because the State Police would be among the unemployed.
Ok - that's a bit far-fetched.
Plenty of RV parks were available as contingency accommodations because we are staying during the week and not the weekend, but my image of them is probably skewed - flat wastelands without trees, tin-cans packed in bumper to bumper and gaudy awning to gaudy awning. And of course, a bonus to staying in the state park is that there is a system of trails that runs through the area, and directly into Traverse City - only a two mile bike ride away. This'll come in handy for plenty of roller-skiing and for the girls and I to sight see and shop while Hubs takes the van to the many fishing spots in the area. Yep, we are taking two vehicles, and yep, Hubs thinks he's gonna catch a big one; the salmon and steel-head are running this time of year. Hubs is not a fisherman by any means, but likes to throw a line in occasionally.
Twenty-four hours to go, and lots to do before we caravan out, and up to the top of the Mitten.
I heard an NPR story about your state budget, Gams, and got worried about your trip. Was very glad that all was resolved. Have a fabulous time!
My rose bush is doing something strange. Since I planted it, years ago, it has never gotten more than chest-high on me. It now has new growth on one branch, making it about 6 1/2 feet tall! And there's a bud right at the top. I have never see it anywhere near this tall before. Very odd. Nice, but odd.
I've got a rose bush that does the same, Siren...every year. Its twin sits in the same garden and is fairly well behaved, staying at its supposed three feet height, while this one sends a number of canes shooting out at at least six feet or more. I'm continually whacking it back because those long arms reach into the walkway to snatch at whoever walks by.
Ah...home from the RV trip. Actually, an RV is not for driving. That sounds funny - but true. Getting from point A to B maybe, then parking the gas-hogging beast while motoring around in something more economically friendly. (it was nice having a bathroom right there though, and not having to walk down to the public one at the campground with only a small beam of a flashlight to guide the way in the middle of the night).
And we did a lot of motoring; we were glad we decided I'd follow in the van. We did the fingertips of the Mitten, (the upper part of Michigan's lower peninsula). We camped in Traverse City, drove along the coastline through Charlevoix, and Petoskey, and on to Mackinaw. Then back the other way, to spend a day in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Oh my god, damn, it's beautiful. Unbelievable. I swear I was standing at the edge of the earth.
A lot of the trip was nostalgia for me - we always camped up in that area when we were kids. It is some of the most beautiful country in the state....mostly untouched except for quaint little towns and resort areas along the coast; farms, orchards and vineyards; galleries for all types of artisan creations.
Pictures and details...you asked for them, (didn't you? anyone?), and whether you did or not, you shall receive them...it bits and pieces so not to bore you all at once. BOLL. I prefer to deliver a slow agonizing torture. First round already up in the "Useless Facts" thread.
This was such a fabulous trip, there'll sure to be more to follow. Fair warning. Skimming is allowed.
Yikes, it turned cold! We seem to have bypassed fall altogether, and gone directly from summer to winter. And it rained all day yesterday....meaning no glide for me on my day off. Pfft. The rain and wind has stopped, and there is a perfectly gloomy October sky out this morning, with just bits of sunshine peeking through the clouds making the changing tops of the trees sparkle golden.
Outside activity limited to the porch yesterday due to rain, I took the opportunity though to add to the gnarly, twisted branches and mini-white pumpkins on the railing; I twined in some bittersweet vines with their gold and orange berries, hung the Boo-Bells, and took down my wind chimes and put up Rattling Skeleton Man, who danced a wild dance for me in the wind.
Oh, and I do need to get the drill out and hang my Witch sign that I bought on vacation...rode with the damn two feet or more thing in my carrying bag slung over my shoulder for four miles on my bike. A cool thing and I had to have:
Eeeew, yesterday was one of those icky, blicky days. I was at work for about an hour, and got the call from school. LX: Mom, I wanna come home.
No arguments on my end; I knew exactly how she felt. After working outside for ten minutes, the pressure in my head made it feel as if my eyes were going to explode. Neat trick, but just a couple of weeks early for Halloween.
A Sinus Pain Sufferers Worst Nightmare: A rapid forty degree drop in temperature, followed by cold, damp weather.
Oh, the pressure!
More of the same today. Off I go armed with Double Super-Duty Extra Strength Ibuprofen, and Twentyfour Hour Relief Ten Million Milligram Allegra.
I love autumn, I do. And this is typical autumn weather - weather we should have been having weeks ago. A gradual ease into it would have been nicer though.
Scarecrows always seem like a symbol of fall, especially around Halloween, which is odd if you think about it, (this is just me thinking in my head as I type), because autumn is harvest, and the scarecrow's duty would be done. Maybe it's a time for them to party, after a long, hard summer tending the crops.
I love scarecrows - the odder the better, and I have a cool little book that has pictures of some really odd ones. We drove through a tiny town on the way home from our vacation that had scarecrows everywhere lining the streets - so many, and the town was so small that I wonder if the scarecrows outnumbered the people.
This year our town had a scarecrow contest among the merchants. This one won first place.
Psst...they're both scary, but the actual scarecrow is the one with feathers and a blue ribbon.
It was a dark and stormy night......which led into a dark and windy morning.
Wow! Quite the range of weather emotions here. Yesterday started off pouring down rain - cold and harsh. The rain cleared by mid-day, and we enjoyed the most gorgeous of warm, sunny fall weather. It turned humid by evening, and by nightfall storms blew in off the Lake. Thunder, lightning, rain, and tornado watches were issued. The brunt of it missed us on the lakeshore - thank goodness - and it blew inland.
But left the wind behind. CRACK! I now have a big chunk of maple laying in my front yard. Sniff. Poor guy is lop-sided.
No time now to clean-up the body-parts; the mailman walking down the sidewalk today will just have to walk around the limbs.
Gotta run. Enjoy the Fall day; watch out for falling leaves - attached to falling branches.
The sunlight looks different this time of year; I can definitely tell that it's fall. But today I saw my first tangible sign of it. I work on the 11th floor of my building, and our office has a spectacular view. Every year, I watch a particular little tree which is always the first tree to change colors. Today I noticed that the little tree is turning red, from about half-way up to the crown. And once again, it is the first tree in my view to change colors. Nice to know that some things don't change.
A perfectly rainy and gloomy morning to start off my last Saturday at work for the season. It's still dark and black outside without a trace of the moon.
But dang - what a beautiful moon it's been the last few nights! Big and full, shining bright, bright white one night, and orange the next as it rises over the ravine, and is visible through the maple's autumn gradually diminishing canopy. I carried BP, who has a thing for moons, freshly out of the shower last night, outside to show it to her. It was one of those creepy Halloween moons - obscured one moment by fast moving gray clouds passing over, and then brightly visible the next. You could almost imagine a howl in the distance, or a witch on a broomstick flying overhead. We ooooed and ahhhhed at it, and the costumed ghouls entering the newly-wed's house across the street for a Halloween party added to the creepiness.
Yes, that moon has been gorgeous, Gams. My mom and sisters and I will call each other to make sure we've goen out to look at "La Bella Luna", as they called it in the movie "Moonstruck".
And I'll tell you something else that's beautiful this time of year - our waxy begonias. They're prettier than they've been all year, the leaves lush and green, the blossoms plentiful and lovely. They love this fall weather.
You know, Siren - I've always thought of wax begonias as old lady flowers: old-fashioned and kinda boring, and only bought by little old ladies who come into the nursery tediously picking out flats and flats of them. I've always planted the latest and greatest fresh-from-the-trial-gardens hot new annuals....which usually don't live up to my expectations.
But I've seen what wax begonias do. They grow in either sun or shade, never need dead heading, can take drought, and handle neglect.
Sounds perfect for my yard, and this year I tried them; two pots on the front porch, a big pot on the side porch, sitting in a wicker chair so rickety it will only handle a flower pot and not a butt, and a bigger blue glazed pot, to brighten the little shade garden where I watch the birds at the feeder and in the bird bath.
All summer all these pots sat neglected, receiving little sun, little water, and even less attention. And they looked beautiful...bright spots of color where years before there had been none. The pots on the porches faded just about the time Scrappy came. I tried to get her take home the hanging basket of ivy and tuberous begonias - also a very forgiving plant, but not so forgiving that it can handle the double-danger of not being watered and colder temperatures. It was looking done for the season by the time I tried to pawn it off on Scrappy - thinking it may get an extension on life through her warm winter.
But it, along with the other porch pots and flower boxes made it into the compost heap last week.
But the blue pot in the shade garden is still an overflowing big, beautiful mound of pink, odd and almost out of place with all the autumn color going on around it. And while most other things are dying back for the season, this thing actually seems to be growing.
I'm hooked - wax begonias it is for me from this year forward.
I hope this has nothing to do with them being an old lady flower.
BP and I saw the most amazingly beautiful thing tonight while trick or treating.
It was a warm night for the end of October - the kind of night every kid dreams of....no need for a winter coat to cover up Halloween costumes. A warm, but a rightfully gloomy and cloudy night. It was just dusk when the rain started. Not enough to get us soaked, but just the right amount to leave a misty veil of wetness covering our hair. It stopped nearly as soon as it started.
"Mom, why are the trees glowing?"
They were glowing! When the rain stopped, the clouds cleared just before the sun sunk down. Before it completely disappeared, for a few moments it turned everything orange....the sky, the trees, houses - everything glowed orange.
"Look!" one of the many ghouls roaming the streets exclaimed, pointing to the sky.
And in that orange-colored sky was the largest rainbow I'd ever seen.....no, two rainbows - a double!
Definitely one of the best treats I've ever received on Halloween.
Just in from the porch, having a morning coffee with gloved hands wrapped around the hot mug, hoping it's hotness keeps my hands from freezing. It's 33 degrees outside.
But "Wow" - it's pretty! A heavy fog makes the autumn-colored trees across the street behind the neighbors' houses seem white-washed, while the maples standing in front of my house seem brighter than they have been, all dressed in yellow. Leaves are falling on a frost-covered lawn, and all is quiet except for the birds chirping at the feeder.
Today was supposed to be my last day of work for the season, but I asked for it off to attend a class here in town. Actually, my last work week until spring was a non-work week; I only worked one day. Too nasty weather to work in outside on Tuesday clung to me, dragging me down under it, and I, in turn, dragged BP down with me - we stayed home sick and under the covers most of the week.
Autumn always fades this way for me - like the vine whose bright gold and orange berries signifies the season, it's bittersweet. Love the job - love my winters off. Right now I'm in the middle....hoping to get out to enjoy the remainder of this gorgeous, favorite season of mine before it's gone.
I read about bittersweet berries in the book "Joy In The Morning" by Betty Smith (one of my Top 10 all-time favorite books), but I've never seen them. Ever since the heroine in the book decorated her table with bittersweet, I always wanted to, as well.
I am worn out from 3 especially long days at work. But tonight, I had the best dose of medicine I can think of: an acoustic concert from one of my favorites, Joni Harms, a terrific cowgirl singer. She played a restaurant gig last night, and a party I attended tonight. So, I got 2 nights of her music - what a treat! Even got to chat with her a bit, which was marvelous. And then it got even better: she asked me up to sing a song, and then sang harmony with me! I'm still amazed by that.
Joni has a ranch in Oregon where she produces horses and - get this - Christmas trees. Acres and acres of them. Large crews come in and harvest the trees, which are bound up with nets, then hauled away by helicopter and placed in refrigerated trucks. They harvested the trees at Halloween, to be enjoyed this Christmas. Isn't that something?
I've got bittersweet, Siren, twined to the rail on my front porch along with some twisted vines and mini-white pumpkins, and the same in a little centerpiece on the dining room table.....not nearly as nice as the book's heroine's decoratation, I'd bet. My friend insists my decorating style is a Martha Stewart on Crack look.
I'd send you some bittersweet, but the berries are too fragile to make the trip. We've got an over-abundance of it climbing the electrical poles, mulch bins, and trees at work. The vine is a monster that can't be tamed - the showier oriental bittersweet which is on an invasive species list rather than American bittersweet which in contrast, is on the threatened species list due to over-harvesting.
Wow - how cool is that?! What a treat of a weekend it sounds like you've had, and one you'll remember for quite a long time! Getting up on stage and singing - I completely admire that.....both being able to get up in front of people, and singing. I can do neither. Yay for you!
Christmas trees harvested in October; I never knew they were cut that early. There are a few Christmas tree farms around here, but when we drove up north in early October, we passed a lot of them. One of those weird things that amaze me going way back to my kidhood: seeing, like a field of corn, the trees lined up like soldiers in formation, rows and rows of them. I like to look down those rows of anything planted and see the brown earth, striped with green whizzing by.....if you drive by fast enough, you can almost see the curve of the earth. Or at least I've always imagined it that way.
I bet your table decoration looks just fine, Gams. In the book, she just bought some branches of bittersweet at a florist, and put them in a vase on her table.
I was reading that the price of Christmas trees will probably go up this year because of the drought. We have never bought a tree. We traipse out into the pasture and cut a cedar tree. We look for all the usual characteristics: uniformity, color, shape. An abundance of blue berries or even a bird nest are bonuses. We used to go to neighbor's property to cut a tree. I can remember bouncing through their field, winding the truck through the trees, looking for just the right one. We'd often stop for a visit at our friend's house after the hunt. Of course, we kids were always disappointed by the tree our mom approved of, always sure it was too small. But we invariably had to cut a couple of feet off the top of the tree, just to get it into the house.
As they say round here, 'it's cold enough to freeze a monkeys bum'.
Around here it's said, "It's as cold as a witch's ti....", or "It's as cold as a well-digger's @ss in the Klondyke"....mostly said by just Hubs, I think. Then there's Calvin and Hobbs, 'it's booger-freezing cold'.
No freezing body parts here yet, though I keep waiting for it to warm up a bit before I get my bum out the door; I have cold feet, it seems.
One of my favorites is not an "as cold as..." but an "as bitter as..". Here we go:
Bitter as an old maid's memoirs.
~an original from my dearly-departed friend, Leon, who was, as they used to say, "a card". Many years after his death, we still quote his one-liners, which we call "Leon-isms".
A pumpkin pie is cooling on a wire rack on my table. It's my dad's favorite, and I'm glad to make it for him. Smells soooooo good. It's the smell of autumn baking - nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin. I found a recipe that features all those ingredients and more - apples, pecans, and cranberries. If you'd like to try this "All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake", here's an article containing the recipe. I'm going to make it sometime between now and Christmas, once the Thanksgiving goodies are gone.
Sometimes, it seems as if Mother Nature can't make up her mind. It's like she rummages through her closet, deciding to go for a completely different look than the one she'd been wearing, and not quite deciding which outfit to wear, she puts on a mix-and-match thing.
Monday, I raked Autumn to the curb and watched the leaf-sucker-upper truck with its flexible mechanical arm unceremoniously vacuum her up and haul her away to rot on some huge compost pile. I wrote once that I wanted to be the driver of that Cat-in-the-Hat-like truck. Gabbin laughed at me, saying it wasn't a very aspiring thing to be, but I've had a fascination with it since seeing it slowly roll down the street our first Autumn spent here. Can you imagine the fun, moving the arm to suck up huge mounds of leaves, and everything else in your path. Ooops, there goes a ball, a tricycle; kids should learn to put their things back where they belong. A Hyundia....you're not supposed to park on the street this time of year anyway; snow lanes, and I just saved the owner a ticket. It's probably a good thing I'm resigned to the other side of the leaf pile.
And I suppose wanting to drive the leaf-sucker-upper truck would be like a child wanting to "help" around the house: the fascination would soon wear off once it became a job.
So, instead I help provide the leaf-sucker-upper truck guy a job. Actually, I don't mind raking leaves; I like it, in fact. It's an Autumn ritual, lasting only a few weeks during a too short season.....not like the it-takes-forever-and-I-just-did-it-the-day-before-and-the-day-before-that-too job of emptying the dishwasher - one of LX's chores, and she used to like doing it....before the job became assigned to her.
I've felt like I've been in a race against time with the leaves this year. The leaves changed late, and the leaf-sucker only sucks to the end of November. Time after time, I raked; tarp load after tarp load, I hauled to the curb. There were too many to mulch with the mower; I'd end up with a thick confetti carpet covering the lawn, instead of the pre-mulched leaf shag carpet.
Finally, the three sugar maples were bare. But there was still the matter of the two big Norways - one right outside the kitchen door, and the other in the ravine. Last week they were still green! Mid-week though, they finally gave up the green for gold, changing overnight it seemed, and dropping their leaves just as quickly, until I had another thick shag carpet staring at me Thanksgiving morning.
It was my plan to get out there yesterday. Mother Nature grew bored again though, and decided it was time to do some redecorating. The snow started during our Thanksgiving dinner, and lasted through out the night, burying the leaf carpet in a blanket of white.
She was not quite finished though, and another layer was added atop the white for a splash of color....the remaing leaves fell on top of the snow until the splash turned into a flood.
Instead of raking leaves, I threw in the rake, and put on ice-skates instead. The ice-rink opened this week, and the girls and I spent the afternoon there yesterday.
I want to drive the zamboni.
Mother Nature redecorates: 8am-ish
By noon, she's laid the new shag carpet.
She even decorated the Christmas tree in silver and gold.