Monday, June 30, 2014

"Garden Photos the Last Day of June, 2014........."

My two "Golden Grape" Heritage tomatoes in their hanging pot.

Another Heritage Cherry Tomato, "Sun Gold".

One of the 3 blueberry bushes I planted last year with several Strawberry plants throughout the bed, too.

I replaced one of the dwarf peach trees, planted this Spring, that did not come out of dormancy, with this Dwarf "Moongold" Apricot.  Also in this photo, in the background to the right, is the other Apricot, "Moonpark", replacing another peach tree which also didn't break dormancy.

An overview of raised garden beds, now behind a 2' tall metal fence.  Previously, the long, low bed was surrounded with plastic netting, which I found does not deter rabbits.  :(  I had extra seedlings of Summer Squash, which I planted in pots and meant to have on the deck, but after seeing one of the blossoms nipped off by "presumably" a chipmunk, I decided to set them behind the wire fencing, too.  Unfortunately, now I know that nothing seems to be able to stop chipmunks from going where they want to.  :(

A closer view of one of the 2 Zucchini plants in the far left raised bed.  Looks like I will be picking this one very soon!  I swear it developed almost overnight!  :)

One of several Summer Squashes "soon to be ready for harvest"......

Here is a photo of the entire 8' long, 4' wide, and 2' tall raised bed with the 4 squash, 2 each of Zucchini and Summer Squash in the back, 3 Dwarf "Green Martian" Heritage Tomatoes in the middle, 6 Kale, with Bush Green Beans surrounding the Kale.  More Bush Green Beans are to the side and behind the Squash, too......definitely being overpowered.  :)

Our 5 "Sugar Baby" Watermelons.  My "hope" is that I will be able to train them to climb the trellis and that the developing watermelons can be tied to the trellis using lengths of old shower scrungy netting, like little "hammocks".  ;)

A view of the 5 Heritage Peppers and 4 (2 each) Heritage Tomatoes......

And last but not least, in the end bed, is one of my small Strawberry patches.  The new metal fencing so far is keeping the rabbits at bay, but it does not stop the chipmunks from getting into and taking bites out of or running away with my strawberries.  My plan is to soon build a tiered strawberry planter which will be entirely enclosed with removable sides and top in hopes of protecting next years harvest.

Here is an overview photo of the other 8'x4'x2' raised bed.  In the foreground is a mixed bed of Dill and Garlic bulbs (which are not doing well), behind those and on the left are onions (a mix of red, white, and yellow), with Brussels Sprouts behind them.  As you can see, the rest of the bed is planted with Cabbages and climbing along the left side and rear are Sugar Snap Peas.  The Peas were labeled as "Bush" but I found they still needed support to climb.

Here is a close up of the "Sugar Snap Peas" showing both flowers and "soon to be harvested" pods.

On the deck we have one container of Heritage Tomatoes.....1 "Hana" and 1 "Wild Thyme", both of which are considered green tomatoes when ripe (although there might be some striping of orange, yellow, or red), and numerous pots of Sweet Basil.  Not shown are my pots of Chives and Ginger root.

If it weren't for losing some Strawberries to the chipmunks, and earlier, whole Broccoli plants to rabbits, I would be completely happy with my garden this year.  But as my cousin, Barb, says, "They have to eat, too"!.  ;)  All I can do is work with what I have and hopefully, by next Spring, "Learn from this year and work out the glitches".  :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Abigail Playing T-Ball....."

Don and I drove down to Brethren on Tuesday evening to watch Abigail's T-Ball team play.  It was a bright sunny day....perfect for the game.  :)

When Julie wasn't needed in the dugout or infield, she came and sat with me in the stands.  Don, of course, was documenting the event by taking photos.  ;)

Here is Abigail up to bat.  Each member of the team gets to bat once each inning.  Each team does this and each team member gets to bat until he or she hits the ball, then they run to first base.  Bases are usually loaded and when the last team member bats, it is always a home run and everyone completes the run around the bases.  I don't remember how the game was played when my boys were small, but I definitely like it played this way.  The innings are played somewhat quickly with the kids involved constantly, leaving little room for boredom to set in, plus it is a good learning experience in that the team members learn where to run and where to throw the ball once hit.  Competitiveness isn't an issue at this age, in my opinion, but being involved in the game constantly is.  I'm sure other people might disagree with me.  :)

Abigail's coach is out there at home plate encouraging each and every team member, helping them with their batting stance, making sure they run towards first, and congratulating them as they head to home plate.

Patrick helps both teams by standing near second base and giving encouragement to whomever is second basemen.  Abigail had that position during one of the 3 innings.

After the game, we all met up at "Traks" (, the local restaurant.  Our friend, Maniphone, who visited recently from North Dakota, had given me a necklace for Abigail, which we had brought along that evening to give to Abigail after the game.  It is a beautiful bead necklace with a small metal heart hanging from its center.  Here I am opening its clasp so I can hang it around Abigail's neck.  Abigail loved it and sends her thanks to Maniphone!  ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Exploring Southeast of Traverse City......"

Don and I decided to take a drive and explore the area Southeast of Traverse City, which has numerous small lakes in close proximity to each other.  We are familiar with some of the lake names because when we were seriously looking for a home, we found several houses for sale in the area while checking the real estate listings, but when we found the listing of this home, we knew it was "The One".  :)  We figured it was time to become more familiar with that area and what it has to offer, so since it was a beautiful day, off we went!

On our way there, we would be passing Grand Traverse Academy, which has the type greenhouse we want for ourselves, although it is a much larger one that we hope to eventually purchase, which makes sense since they use it for classes.  They are manufactured by a company in Colorado called "Growing Spaces" (, and are designed for year round growing.  Don had found the company online and we have read everything about them.  While reading some of the comments on their site, I had learned of the Academy's greenhouse.

So......last year after I moved here and Don was still in Wisconsin.......Patrick, Julie, and Abigail visited me and while here, I had mentioned the Academy having one of these greenhouses.  When we were " out and about" that day, we drove over to look at it.  The school has since done some more work around the outside since I saw it last year, adding the raised beds.  They actually are in the process of this work but had managed to complete a couple beds and plant some vegetable seedlings, which "I assume" they had grown in the greenhouse for this purpose.  It will be a great experience for their students to actually see what their Spring sowing has produced when they get back to school in the Fall.  I "assume" that when/as the produce is harvested, records will be kept and used during subsequent lesson plans?

As I mentioned previously, this greenhouse is much larger than the one we want, but it is exactly the same in style.  Inside each of these greenhouses has a large water tank inside, sized according to the greenhouses square footage, and designed to moderate the temperature fluctuation inside, keeping the greenhouse warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer, allowing for year round growing conditions.  Once we get our "Must Do's" done around here, then it will be time to get serious and order one.  :)  As the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait" I am patiently waiting.  ;)

After leaving the school and while driving around one of the small lakes, we saw a deer cross the residential street ahead of us, so I slowed down hoping we could see where it was going, surprised by its appearance in the middle of the day in a "neighborhood".  Its destination was not far from the street.......its goal was to snack on someones excess bird seed that was scratched by enthusiastic birds from a bird feeder and located in their front yard, several feet from their house!  As far as we could tell, the only inhabitant in the house aware of it being there was a cat, guarding its domain from the windowsill.  :)

She showed no fear or concern that we had stopped our vehicle so close to her buffet, but continued to calmly eat.  She was still munching away as we left.........

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Summer Solstice Picnic....."

We were invited to a Summer Solstice potluck picnic at the Neahtawanta Inn, which is out on Old Mission Peninsula.  Don and I had stayed at the Inn a few years ago......the year Don had ridden his bike from Madison to Traverse City.  Unfortunately, the Inn had a fire last year and had been closed until recently, when it had been reopened.  The restoration makes it look like the fire never happened, as it looks exactly the same as when we stayed there.

The "official cake" of the evening.  ;)

When Don and I arrived at the picnic, we walked down to the beach and helped begin work on a "stick man" which was to be burned later in the evening.  The main figure was built on the beach, then set at the waters edge for completion.  Laura and Gabe were the brave souls to work in the water......

Here is what the structure looked like from up at the Inn level.  It still had to be "filled out" with more flammable materials, which were on their way.......

Laura and Gabe once again got into the water to help fill out/stuff the "soon to be"........"Burning Man".  ;)

The "Burning Man" is now ready for his big moment in the Summer Solstice.......

Fortunately, Don was able to capture the moment when the "Burning Man" was lit, but he went up in flames so quickly and became unsteady, that he fell to the shore in a heap, burning brightly and resembling nothing more than a normal bonfire.

We had a great time at the picnic and enjoyed meeting some very nice people.  Surprisingly, the mosquito population was not out in force.  The day had been cool and the evening saw even cooler temperatures, so I guess the mosquitoes found warmer conditions elsewhere...........THANK GOODNESS!  ;)

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Plant Giveaway"

I don't know who these nurses are, but I sure am happy to see them taking some of the vegetable plants I gave our neighbor, Tami, to take into work with her.  Tami sent this photo in an email saying that the plants were a "highlight" of their very stressful shift at the hospital.

I was afraid that it may have been too late for people to take plants home with them, thinking that most gardeners may have already planted their gardens, but I guess it goes to show that "there is always room for one more".  ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Last Night in Traverse City......"

Don and I met Maniphone, Jonathan, Simon, and Henry at Poppycock's ( for dinner in downtown TC and their last night here.  It was another enjoyable dinner with them and afterwards we all strolled a bit looking at shops, and couldn't resist going into Kilwins Fudge Shop ( and making delicious and decadent purchases.  :)  Leaving the shop, we took a moment to sit down and enjoy the small park between buildings before continuing our "window shopping".

Our next stop was more than window shopping at Diversions (, where Simon and Henry found a couple of hats they could not live without.  ;)  So wearing their hats out of the shop, we proceeded to our car where we said our goodbyes, with wishes for a continuation of their wonderful, fun filled vacation as they headed to Chicago, IL for a few more days of fun and excitement, before flying back to their home in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Don and I hope they enjoyed their time here so much that they will someday come back to do more exploring.  We'll keep our fingers crossed for that to happen.  ;)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Friends Visit the Traverse City Area!"

Maniphone, Jonathan, Simon, and Henry, former Madison neighbors of ours who now live in North Dakota, flew in to Traverse City for a visit.  They arrived on Saturday, stayed in a condo at Grand Traverse Commons (, and left yesterday for Chicago, driving through horrible rain almost the entire way, arriving safely at their hotel where they will spend a few days exploring and having adventures.  :)

Don and I met them at the airport Saturday, "escorted" them to Grand Traverse Commons, unloaded the car, checked out their condo, then headed out to eat.  We took them to one of our favorite places, Sleder's (, where both Simon and Henry kissed "Randolph the Moose".   :)

The following morning, they drove out to our house, seeing it in person for the first time.  The next 2 photos are from our "driveway cam".  Don had walked down to the end of our driveway and road so that the kids would see him and know exactly where to turn.  Jonathan parked the car at the house and then headed back along the driveway to meet up with Don as he walked back to our house.

Then a short outside tour began before we showed them the inside of the house, knowing that once inside, Maniphone and I would stay inside, avoiding the mosquitoes and to make lunch.  While we took care of lunch, Don took Jonathan, Simon, and Henry on a walk through the woods over to the airport and back.  :)

The boys had played on this hammock when they had visited Madison, too.

Part of the outside tour prior to lunch included the little studio, too.

After the boys returned from their walk, Maniphone and I put the finishing touches on lunch which was homemade pizza.  Yep, we did good.  ;)  Here are Jonathan and Maniphone as we wait for the pizzas to bake.

After lunch, the kids went back to their condo to have a little bit of "downtime" before meeting us later at Interlochen Center of the Arts to experience "The Drum Circle" planned for that evening.  Of course, it was scheduled at a time when our area experienced a bit of rain.  Luckily, there was room on the stage and under an eave for spectators to sit, watch, and listen.  I, however, chose to stay in my audience seat under my umbrella.  That is me in the green shirt and black umbrella up and to the right of Jonathan's head in this photo.

Here is their view of the Drum Circle........

To be continued.....

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Traverse Colantha Walker Dairy Festival"

Don and I attended our first of the annual Traverse Colantha Walker Dairy Festival ( at The Grand Traverse Commons.  It was a beautiful day, both in bright sunshine and temperature, and the attendees all seemed to be having a very good time.

We had met Sue, of "Boss Mouse Artisan Cheese" (, when we attended a "Cheese and Beer Pairing" at Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City, earlier in the year.  She was asked to be this years "Queen of the Festival", so I, of course, had to have my photo taken with her!

As we arrived, the entertainment began.........."Belly Dancers"!  These were 4 of the performers, which totaled probably a dozen or so.

The stilt walking balloon crafter was quite popular, too.  (The "interesting" angle was not intended.......)

While I "parked it" and enjoyed people watching, Don took a walk.......and quite a few photos, too.

His considerable walk took him out to the barn and vegetable garden area of the former asylum, which is one of the main components of why the asylum, "back in the day", was pretty much self sustaining.  Below is the new Visitors Center with the historical dairy barn in the background.

The Festival came about to honor the memory of "Traverse Colantha Walker", the World's Champion Cow.  I could be wrong, but I "think" her records for milk and fat production still stand.

I took this photo of her off of the web.....

Here is a photo of her honored resting place........

With a close up so you can read the details.....

The walk from the Commons festival area to the barn area is not a short one, but Don said a very pleasant one.  He also saw these sculptures in one of the picnic areas........

Arriving back at the festival area, he took a number of photos of the "pie eating contest", too.  Ready, set........

And GO!

We enjoyed ourselves very much.  Don got to mingle and socialize, and I got to "people watch".....and chatted a bit with a few festival goers, too.  ;)