Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"All dressed up and........"

The saying goes, "all dressed up with no where to go". That is what happened with Angela on Saturday night. She'd been shopping that day, finding these shoes and "just had to go home and dress up" so that all of us could see them "as they should be seen". :) I guess she did get out, but only as far as our house and then on to Anna and Mike's, who had Melissa, Anna's sister from CA, staying with them. I'm sure she will find a more "special occasion" than just wearing them in the neighborhood. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

"A Full Saturday"

On weekends, we have our normal routine of morning coffee, breakfast, hot tub, and then slowly get into the day, doing whatever we have planned or "winging it". This past Saturday was one filled with plans AND "winged" things. As I posted yesterday, Franklin and his family stopped by, just as we were heading out to "America's Best Flowers" nursery/greenhouses. Neil, who designed our deck, had given us a gift card to this particular nursery, as a "thank you" for choosing his company to build the deck. It is outside of Cottage Grove, WI, and neither of us had ever been there. The place was HUGE! There were possibly up to 15 greenhouses, filled with plants and plant related things, plus all of the perennials, trees, and shrubs that are located outside of the greenhouses. We spent a lot of time looking around, picking up numerous plants, etc., and of course, spending more than we had originally thought to do. Thank goodness we don't go shopping together too often! :)
Here is Don inside one of the many, plant filled greenhouses. The variety of colors was almost overwhelming.
After dropping the plants off at home, we went out to "The Bruce Company" to look at what they had in the line of deck furniture. We sat and tried many chairs, but nothing "felt right" (including the prices). By then it was late afternoon, and we'd not eaten since early morning, so we decided to have an early dinner and went to "Cheeseburger in Paradise", out in the "Greenway Station" shopping center, in Middleton, WI. :) We had such a terrific meal......and margaritas, that Don just had to "rest" on the way out of the restaurant. :) (or was he just trying out another type of deck chair?)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Franklin, Mariana, and David"

We had a surprise visit from Franklin, his wife Mariana, and their new baby son, David. Franklin works for Rob, our neighbor, so that is how we came to know them. They are wonderful people. Mariana looks great! You would never know that David was only born a few weeks ago.Here is a closer look at David, who basically slept through his entire visit, opening his eyes occasionally and then drifting back to sleep immediately. I LOVE babies! :) We've not had any newborns in the neighborhood since Simon, Jonathan and Maniphone's first son, was born. They then had the audacity to move to North Dakota not too long afterwards, and then produced another son that we get to see too infrequently! :) Thankfully, they have purchased a vacation condo here in Madison and we'll be able to see them more often. Yea!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"The Yard and Greenhouse"

I have been busy in the greenhouse this week, potting up plants for the deck and for around the yard, in general. I had to buy all of my plants again this year because the ones I had sown in the greenhouse are not large enough to be used this spring....maybe this fall though! :) The weather was too cold for them to germinate (even in the greenhouse), although they are now growing strongly.

Most of the vegetables I plan on having are in pots, as they were last year, but I also plan on trying some pole green beans against the side of the house, and actually planting them in the ground (what a novel idea!). :) I do have some Sugar Snap Peas I could try as well, but I started a batch of those in a pot early in the greenhouse and they are doing excellent. So excellent, in fact, that I noticed blossoms on them this morning. I moved them outside last week, along with the lettuce that I had started in 2 pots, and I soon will be picking both for eating.

The strawberries plants are loaded with berries and they continue to have blossoms, so we will have many strawberry desserts soon. :) The raspberry plants, this spring, seem to have the best growth ever! They have filled out and are taking up the entire space given over to them, plus a bit more. :) I think that I will move a few of the runner plants, and replant them to extent their bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Zack's Deck Debut"

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, so we felt it was time for Zack to venture out onto the deck. This was his first time this year. We had bought a new play stand specifically for this reason and had gotten him used to it by having it available for him to climb on from his main cage. That proved to work and he did so well until he decided to use the open door of his cage to climb up to the top of his big cage. We will not be having that happen again, because he doesn't want to come down, and he gets a little too big for his britches, so to speak, when up there. :)
He did very well, eating, drinking and playing with his toys, until Don came out the front door carrying Zack's old outdoor perch, which Mary, another neighbor, is going to borrow to see if her bird will like using it. Why the appearance of the perch (or Don) startled him, we have no clue, but he took flight, gliding from the top of the deck, down to the edge of the driveway, slightly into the street. This scared the begeezers out of Don, so Zack will soon be getting another visit from the vet to have his wings clipped again. They had been clipped during his annual checkup, but the vet had said then, he was in the middle of a molt, and would possibly need to be clipped again in a few months. Turns out....she was correct. :) Talk about adding confidence in our vet! :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

"The Weekend Activities!"

Unfortunately, I do not have any new photos to include in today's entry.

The weekend was busy, beginning with Don attending the Michael Feldman radio program, down at Monona Terrace, with Woody, a friend of ours. I stayed home. :)

After the show, they picked me up, and we went out to lunch. We went to the "Flat Top Grill", across from the new "Sundance" theater at Hilldale. It was our first time at the Flat Top and we enjoyed it very much. It is a place where you go through a "food bar" and pile everything into a bowl that will later be stir fried together for your meal. Vegetables, fruits, meats, sauces and spices, were up for grabs, making the decision of what to include a very hard one, especially since it was our first experience doing this. We all chose well and enjoyed our individual concoctions. :)

After eating, we wandered across the street to check out the new Sundance theater. Woody had been there for the opening, so became our tour guide. :) It is very nice and I do think we will enjoy going there for a movie, or to try Peet's Coffee Shop, the bistro, or the roof top bar.

Don went for a "trike" ride on his new Sun "Tadpole, that afternoon. I stayed home because I felt my knees needed some time off from riding, since we had gone riding 2 days in a row and they have to have time to rebuild their strength. It turned out to be a good time for his "testing" the trike on his own, seeing what it could do without having to constantly wait or slow down for me. :)

Saturday night became another "Happy Hour" on the deck, with Rob, Andy and Angela, along with Lonny and Charlie, stopping by to enjoy the company and margarita's. :)

Sunday was a lazy day, with an enjoyable cookout over at Lonny and Charlie's that afternoon. The weather cooperated, even though it was cloudy with hit and miss sunshine, sprinkling only a little, mid festivities.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Trike ride"

Neil, who designed the deck, stopped by yesterday to take care of a few things that he had seen when he was last here. Talk about being thorough! We didn't even know they needed taken care of! We invited he and his wife, Nancy, to a Friday night "Happy Hour", so hope they will show up and enjoy their work with us. :)

Don and I went for another "trike ride" yesterday afternoon, but this time headed towards Monona Terrace and downtown Madison, coming back through Union Terrace and using the bike path along Lake Mendota. The trikes did as well on the packed earthen path as they do on asphalt. I am happy to say that the only time I had to get off and walk my trike up a hill was when we started out. The angle off of our street into the park to get onto the bike path is too steep to do with the length of my trike. I tried, but the front end of my trike lifted up into the air.........if that is the only place I can't make it up the hill, then I think I am doing pretty good. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Before and After"

I've know I have posted photos of the new deck, but hadn't shown "before and after" shots. We are still in awe when we walk out the front door. For us, it is like walking out into (onto?) an outdoor room. I am looking forward to getting some pots of flowers onto it for some color.
We now have all of the furniture that we used out front before on the deck, but also hope to do some shopping to see if we can find some other pieces that would be more permanent than the "folding" chairs.
I have moved the cement bench into the backyard, next to the greenhouse. I've also been spading up the ground on the street side of the deck and plan on planting some shrubs soon, along with some of the spring bulbs that I hadn't gotten into the ground last fall. I'm not sure what to expect from them.........
The tulip display was disappointing this year for some reason. I had planted some bulbs 2 years ago and they did fine last year, but were mostly non-flowering this year, only leaves came up to show where they were. I'm thinking that it is perhaps because the soil is so depleted of nutrients, that they lost some of their vigor. Thinking that, I plan on amending the soil where I plant anything new as well as giving the established plants some fertilizer. The daffodils that were planted last year all came up and blossomed.........they, too, will get a side dressing of fertilizer in hopes of a repeat performance next year.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Fruits of our yard"

This spring promises to be a good one for the fruit producing plants/trees. Although hard to see in this photo, there are 3 dwarf blueberry bushes that I planted last fall. Each one made it through the winter, leafing out nicely with a few blossoms on each plant. A little side dressing of organic fertilizer and they will be set for the season. I do want to plant a few high bush blueberries this season, too. I want to experiment in our almost totally shaded backyard and plant a few to see if they will grow and produce back there. In the wild, blueberries grow in the woods, so I hope they might in our shady backyard, too.
I planted our dwarf peach tree 3 years ago and it has a few blossoms this year. Hopefully, the blossoms were pollinated and we will have a couple of peaches from the tree this year.The strawberries are loaded with blossoms again this year. It looks like it will be another good year for having fresh strawberries on a daily basis. :)
This is my new cherry tree. I planted it last fall and it made it through the winter with flying colors. There weren't any blossoms this year (luckily I didn't expect to see any). I'm not sure how many years it takes before it will begin to bear fruit, but I think it may be sooner than the larger fruits, like the peach.
This photo was taken 2 weeks ago and now the raspberries (red) completely fill the space. This will be their 3rd year of producing fruit, and promises to be a bountiful one. We also have a seedless green grape but I didn't take a photo of it when I took these, since it hadn't started to leaf out yet. It, too, is doing very well this year. Hopefully, this will be the year we see grapes. It was planted 3 years ago as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Don's "Tadpole"!!!

We went on Monday to pick up Don's new trike that he'd ordered a few weeks ago. He'd ridden my trike and liked the feeling of sitting "in a recliner" while riding, so researched trike recumbents online, and decided on Sun's "Tadpole", the same manufacturer of my EZ3 recumbent. His wheel configuration is different with the 2 in front, sits lower to the ground, and has 24 gears, but the trike has the same seat as mine.

Rob was outside when he got home with it and took it for a spin. With the 2 wheels in the front, it does not have the tight turning radius that mine does. It is a much faster trike than mine, but then any trike would be faster than mine with me pedaling. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

French Market Bag

I knitted and felted this "French Market Bag" (pattern by Polly Outhwaite) for a childhood friend, Debby, who lives in Florida. I had to wait until she received it in the mail, before I could post it on the blog, not being sure if she checked the blog regularly or not. I had finished it prior to leaving for Michigan, but it wasn't completely dry before I left, so had to postpone sending it until I returned home. I sent it on Saturday and she received it on Monday! I guess the postal service IS doing a good job, eh? :) I thought I would include the before felting photo as well, just in case some of you are not familiar with the felting process. Felting (washing the piece in hot water and using the "heavy duty" wash cycle), will shrink the piece to about 3/4 of the original pre-felted size (1" of knitting equals 3/4" of felting). The pattern is very easy and seems to go fairly quickly, especially when you change colors a lot as in Debby's bag, although, that does mean a lot of ends to weave in. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Friday's Happy Hour"

Friday, the day I returned from Michigan, was the "normal" day for the weekly, good weather, "Happy Hour". This day proved to be no different than what we now come to expect for "Happy Hour", although, from what has been said about last week while I was gone, there seemed to be a "Happy Hour" on a daily basis! We started out with Don, our neighbor Rob, and myself, but were soon joined by other neighbors (Mike, Anna, Charlie, Lonnie, Bridgett, and Renee), and also friends (Barb, Geoff, and Jim). Of course, Jillian and Copper, our dogs, were in attendance, too. :) Unfortunately, other regulars, Andy and Angela were unable to join us. "Happy Hour" became "Happy Hours" while we enjoyed good company, drinks, pizza, and wings. :)

We look forward to many more good times. I'm sure we will be doing more rotating of where "Happy Hour" will be held , since Rob has his deck, Lonny and Charlie have theirs, plus their back patio, Mike and Anna have an outdoor patio, and there is also a new deck on the back of Andy and Angela's house, too.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Back from Michigan!

I had a nice week visit in Michigan, staying at my parents (my sister lives next door). I took my new trike so that my sister could try it out. As you can see from the photo, she wasn't the only one who took a spin on it. :) Dad used to be an avid cyclist but had to give it up a few years ago due to health problems. He told me on this visit that bicycling was one of the things he misses most of the things he used to do. Surprisingly, even with his breathing problems, he was able to do very well on it. My sister liked riding it as well, but she had problems bending her knees enough to be able to ride easily. We had hopes that the recumbent would be the answer for her being able to ride again.

My sister had a stray cat that she has been feeding for awhile now. She had noticed that the cat seemed to be getting very "fat" and planned on taking her in to be "fixed" so that she wouldn't have kittens, but that time just hadn't happened yet. Since I was visiting and could help her out by taking the cat in for her (although, I told her she should just let her have them), she made arrangements for me to take the cat in on Monday morning. After catching the cat and putting her in the cage Sunday night, she hesitated, remembering that the night before the cat had come from the same place in her horse barn that she had come from this night. Sandy got a flash light, went to look, and found 3 kittens. We aren't sure how old they are, but seem fairly large so they possibly could have been born sometime earlier in the week. While talking about the new kittens with some of her customers on her vending route, she may have places for 2 of them already. :)

Friday, May 4, 2007

More Deck and Flagstones

Tom, the deck builder, had to leave early yesterday, otherwise the deck would have been completed. It is close enough that one could say it is, but he has a few trim pieces, some top railing, and a couple of other little things to finish.

We are soooo happy with the results! Neil, the "Main Man", brought us the design that we had talked to him about, but had also brought this design, too. After seeing this one, we went with it, since it was so much more/better than what we had envisioned.

The flagstone path was completed as planned yesterday, too. Here are Nancy and Nick working on it, almost having it completed when this photo was taken. They seeded grass around the stones and scattered straw on the area, too. A very complete and well done job! They both seem to enjoy their jobs.....Eric and John have done well in hiring them. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Deck and Flagstones!

Looks like today will see the finish of all the work that has been going on around here. The deck will be done today for sure, according to Tom, the builder.

The flagstone pathway that got started yesterday, should also be completed. As you can see, all the flagstones have been laid out and sunk, and today they take them out and layer sand/gravel beneath them.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Deck Progress

The deck continues to be the daily subject matter. We are so happy with each days accomplishments. I think that there is a good chance that they will be completed tomorrow. I head for Michigan on Friday, so I hope they are. :) Unfortunately, I will miss the first official "Happy Hour" on the new deck........unless, of course, it rains!!!! If it doesn't rain and there is a "gathering", I'll just call it "unofficial" because I wasn't there. :)

We are also having a flagstone pathway laid from the rain garden steps, out to the greenhouse and chicken coop. The flagstones were delivered yesterday and work begins on the project today. Hopefully, it too, will be completed tomorrow.

My trip to Michigan is to help my sister, Sandy, take our Mom the the Blossom Festival Parade, an annual event, that to my knowledge, our Mom has only missed once in her 85 years. She has always loved it and looked forward to it. Hopefully, she will remember this and will cooperate when we pick her up from the nursing home. :) I will be staying a little longer than I had originally planned, so that my sister can go up north (in Michigan) to visit my sons, Patrick and Sean, a day earlier. They have kayaking planned and who knows what else. :) I hope the weather cooperates then, too.

Here is another view of the deck. My plan is to plant some Azaleas or Rhododendrons in front of the deck on the street side. The cement bench will be moved to the backyard and the mulched bed of flowers will be extended to underneath the deck, and possibly along the lot line (Rob's side of our house), to the "step down" from the deck leading to the side and backyard. Those decisions will be made after we see what it all looks like when the deck is completed.