Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back in the Saddle

It's been a while since I scored a thrift store bargain ... haven't had the time or inclination (or the space) to do much shopping recently.  While I was out and about earlier today, I decided to make a quick cruise past my favorite thrift store ... and struck gold.

Two chairs, perfect size, AND with matching ottomans on casters!

I flipped these babies upside down and inspected each of them thoroughly.  There's no brand label that I could find, but they're sturdy and comfortable and in really good condition.  I also sniffed them all over to see if there was any tell-tale stinkiness.  Finding none, I practically skipped all the way to the cashier to pay for them.

I have been looking for a matched pair of club chairs for a while now.  I figured I'd come up with ottomans later, as I thought that any chairs I found at a decent price CERTAINLY wouldn't come with ottomans.  Patience pays off, and this set is perfect!!! 

Next ... I have to clear my sewing room out enough so I have room to work on the slipcovers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Day at the (very chilly) Beach

We got home from our two-week trip to Alaska late Saturday afternoon.  (It's been two days, and I'm just now to a point where I can sit here at the computer and get caught up on things I've missed while we were away.)  I downloaded my Alaska photos last night, all 1600+ of them, and it's going to take me a while to sort through them and get them into a form that I can share them with anyone.

In the meantime, let me take a few minutes to show you how my husband and I spent our anniversary last Thursday ... in Barrow, Alaska ... the northernmost point in the United States.

Yes, Folks, those are chunks of ice!  (I was told that the water temperature was about 34 degrees.  It was cloudy, and windy, and the air temperature was about 50.)

While we were planning this trip, one of our goals was to find a way to get across the Arctic Circle.  As it developed, this plan evolved from a step across the line at the Arctic Circle into a day trip to Barrow ... dipping our feet into the frigid water of the Arctic OCEAN.

It's a coincidence that our adventure in Barrow fell on the day of our anniversary.  To mark the occasion, we HAD to take pictures as we waded in the frigid water.

Thirty-two years together ... and I love this man more every day! 

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Snapshots from Alaska

Good Morning! (at least it's morning here in Alaska, four time zones behind my usual Eastern zone ... jet lag will probably cripple me when I get home.). Today we are in beautiful Talkeetna, just outside Denali National Park. We plan to have breakfast, then hit the road to see what Denali has to offer.

I have a few photos here on the iPad that I can share with you. Something is going on with the photo gallery, and my camera and my iPad are not talking to each other right now ... I plugged my camera into it on the second day of the cruise, and the process is still spinning in a loop trying to download the second photo ... which isn't there because I unplugged the camera right when I noticed what was happening. I know it will probably be a simple fix, but I'm not wasting vacation time to find out how to do it. That can wait till I'm home.

My favorite day on ship was our sail through Glacier Bay. It was late in the day before I thought to capture a few shots with my iPad camera, so you will have to wait till I'm home next week to see the best stuff.

As we left Glacier Bay, I went inside with my book (which is here in the iPad) and sat in one of the ship's lounges to read, relax, and enjoy the retreating scenery.

The views throughout our Alaskan travels have been awe inspiring. Our first night on land was in a B&B outside of Anchorage, and this was the view from the upstairs loft.

We have four more days to travel and absorb the wonders of Alaska. Each of them is packed with things to see and do. I have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful state!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Vacation

Greetings from a coffee shop in Juneau, Alaska!

Internet access on our cruise ship is really expensive, so I will probably be mostly be unplugged till the cruise portion of our vacation is over ... maybe longer. I had planned to sit and blog in the evenings, but that is not going to happen. When I get home in a couple of weeks, I will share everything we have done and share my photos of the amazing things we see.

I have so much to tell you!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

North to Alaska.

Greetings from Vancouver! We flew here yesterday, on the first leg of our trip to Alaska. It was a long day. We left home at 3:30am, flew from Virginia to Seattle, loaded up into a rental car, and drove to Vancouver. The scenery on the plane ride and the drive was beautiful.

Final preparations for this trip were WAY more work than i anticipated. First, there are the pets that need cared for. Ruby is staying with my parents, and Daniel and the cats are home with a whole team of caretakers.

It took me all week to pack. I was laying out outfits and other assorted bits, editing and rearranging things so I had enough for two weeks away ... but not too much. Having to pack ship clothes, land clothes, warm clothes, dressy clothes .... for this girl that lives in jeans and flip flops .... it was an ordeal.

The cats, especially Maggie, knew that something was afoot. They are not going to be happy with us away for so long. (our daughter is there, but that's still not the same as having us home). To be honest, I will miss them, too.

Daniel is feeling pretty well right now, so I am only a little bit worried about leaving him in the care of family and friends while we are gone. There are lab tests outstanding for him, and the vet has promised to get a message to me when the results come in.

I am going to work really hard to relax and enjoy myself during this trip. Alaska is someplace that I have always wanted to see, and we will see a LOT of it during the two weeks that we are there.

More to come as Internet access allows. (all photos in this post were taken on Thursday, while I was trying to pack my suitcases. Maggie had planted herself on my clothes piled on my bed, and Daniel was chilling on the floor.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rooting Roses Update

It's been a while since I have given you an update on the cuttings that I have been rooting in the window of my basement workshop. Most of them are doing really well.

I told you about going to Florida last month for my uncle's funeral. I brought home three cuttings of my Aunt Vicki's rose, Louis Philippe. All three of those cuttings rooted. I was fairly certain they would ... China roses root pretty easily. (I also took cuttings of a lovely pink Bougainvillea, some of which have also already rooted.)

Yesterday, I potted Aunt Vicki's cuttings into individual pots. Look at these lovely little root balls! (Notice how some of the roots are coming from the slits in the stem ... This is why the slits are there.)

The cuttings that I rustled in May from the huge Noisette at the abandoned house in Spotsylvania have done pretty well. Out of about a dozen cuttings, I have two that produced roots. One of these is stronger than the other, so I have great hope for getting at least one plant from this.

I have cuttings from a large 'Shailer's Provence' in downtown Fredericksburg. Three of the five cuttings produced roots, and these are now in individual pots, too.

A garden friend shared cuttings of his 'Green Rose' ... which he has had in his garden for 40 years ... and he got as a cutting from a friend's garden. Six of eight cuttings rooted, two of these plants died, but the remaining four plants are doing great.

My only total failure so far this year has been a big one. The one rooted cutting of Mrs. Sharpley's red rose didn't survive. It produced a nice crop of roots, and I had every hope that it would grow into a healthy plant ... but it never grew shoots or leaves and the little stem turned brown and died. I hope I get another chance to help save her rose.

All of this potting is in preparation for our upcoming trip ... two weeks in Alaska. The baby roses will stay with my parents while we are gone, so our daughter doesn't have to worry about forgetting to water them.

I will leave you with a picture of Aunt Vicki's rose ... already growing new shoots!

Now I have to go finish packing. (This is another iPad post ... I'm getting better at this!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trying This With My iPad

I have spent three days researching various options for posting to my blog with my new iPad. Most of what I have read suggests that I will need a text editor and an external keyboard to type and format text and an app to make it all work.. I don't WANT an external keyboard, and I imagine that I can format text just fine without a separate editor, and I definitely DO need an app for importing photos. I downloaded Blogsy, the app that has the best reviews online, and that is what I am using to produce this post.

The most difficult part of this learning curve has been figuring out how best to add images to a post. The above photo of Ruby was first uploaded to Flickr via the mobile FlickrStackr app. Doing that allowed me to drag and drop the photo into this post. It may not be perfect yet ... But it's a start.

Stay tuned to see if I can refine this process. I'm going to publish this now ... wish me luck.

(edited to add) Now I'm going to try to edit this post after publishing it. I cannot figure out how, or if, I can do this in Blogsy ... So I am using the regular Blogger editing window without the app. In the edit window like this, the photo above is showing up as a long, long link URL (which makes sense, since Blogsy has to use images that reside on the web). For the first time this week, I feel confident that I can take this iPad with me to Alaska and blog and share at least a portion of what we see and do there. I'm not quite jumping up and down and clapping yet, but I'm close.

*** edited again***. YAY IT WORKED!!!!! Now I'm clapping!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Snapshot ... Breakfast ... and an iPad Question

On Sundays, I like to sit down to a better-than-average breakfast. This morning, I made my own 'country' version of Eggs Benedict ... Two scrambled eggs on an English muffin, topped with creamed chipped beef. (It's not the healthiest breakfast, but I like it and it's fine as an occasional treat.)

I took the photo of breakfast with my new iPad.  I wanted to produce this post entirely from my iPad, but I discovered that the Blogger web interface won't give me a button to upload photos. (so I emailed the photo to myself and now I'm doing this on my laptop.)  I had hoped to use the iPad to blog and share photos of our vacation later this month.  Do any of you blog using an iPad, or do you know someone who does?  Is there an 'app for that' that you recommend?

The weatherman is predicting storms for this afternoon, which should signal the end of this awful heat wave. It's another thing to be thankful for.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Humming Along

Earlier this morning, I was out on the back deck with my camera, enjoying the play of sunlight in my shade garden.  This garden is planted around our pavilion, which we built to take advantage of a bit of high ground underneath our ancient pecan tree that shades almost our entire back yard. 

Considering the devastation of the fallen oak tree that is still in our front yard, I was using my time outside to recharge my emotional batteries by enjoying the peaceful view toward the back of our property ... feeling thankful that this tree was spared any damage in last week's storm.

"Thankfulness" has been a theme for me for the past few days.  Though some things seem bleak, I have much to be thankful for ... my blessings far outweigh my challenges ... and I am grateful for that.

As I stood there, leaning against the house watching the play of sunlight through the garden, I noticed a small movement in the pecan tree.  Do you see it?

Sitting there on a small tree limb, watching me, was a tiny female hummingbird.  She stayed there while I slipped back into the house to get my telephoto lens, so I could try to get a better photo of her.  I had no time to set up my tripod, so I tried to hand hold the heavy lens as steady as I could.

Perhaps my next challenge will be to photograph her at the feeder ... that can be a challenge for another day.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the kind words and concern about the situation with Daniel.  I got a call from his Internist yesterday afternoon with the cytology results from his biopsy, and we are still no closer to finding an answer to his illness.  The biopsy was benign, but it showed enough small lymphocytes for his Dr. to entertain the possibility that Daniel may have a low-grade small-cell lymphoma ... which apparently, is difficult to diagnose.  I had my heart set on finally getting a real diagnosis with this latest test ... it's hard to keep my frustration under control.  Next week, I will talk to the doctor about more tests he is recommending on existing samples (both extra tissue and blood that they took while Daniel was there on Tuesday) to see what to do that has the best chance of discovering what Daniel is dealing with.

I will end this on another note of thankfulness ... even though Daniel is sick and we don't know exactly why or how to treat him, he is comfortable and has a healthy appetite ... these are two blessings that I am NOT taking for granted.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Feeling Powerless

By now, everyone in the US (and maybe some of you in other countries) has certainly heard about the widespread damage and power outages caused by the storm that swept through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic last Friday night.  The news said that we were hit with 90 mile-per-hour straight-line winds.  Our electricity has been out since then ... and we are not yet on the power company's schedule to repair the power line up the road, which has a tree laying across it.  The company says that we only have 151 houses on the line, and we have been skipped in favor of repairs that will affect a larger number of customers.  I guess I understand their priorities, but it still sucks for those of us who are now in the FOURTH day without power.

Without this little piece of equipment, I'm not sure what we'd do.

Our generator has enough capacity to run our well pump (so we have water) and it has four electrical outlets to power a limited number of essential electrical things in the house.  We are using it for our basement refrigerator and freezer (where the contents of the kitchen fridge are now), a lamp in the family room, multiple fans, a radio, and the TV and DVD player.  We are living life in a maze of extension cords, paying particularly close attention to how much power we are using so we don't overload the generator.  We have no air conditioning ... with temperatures hovering in the high 90s each day, we are uncomfortable but we are managing.

Our power came back on at about 3:00 this afternoon.  (I wrote the above part of this post earlier this morning.)  I saw the crew working on the line under the downed tree up the street, and I stopped to thank them.  Four days with electricity were definitely a challenge.  The a/c is doing a fine job of cooling the house down, and it's WONDERFUL to go into a room and be able to flip on a light!


The storm was responsible for a particularly heart-breaking loss for us.  Our largest oak tree in the front yard, the big beautiful tree closest to the house in the line of three trees beside our driveway, is gone.

The fallen trunk of this tree is almost as tall as I am.

My hands are shaking as I write this, because I still can't quite believe it.  This feels like a death in the family.  As the tree went down, it took with it a majority of the limbs that were left on the damaged middle tree ... so that one is going to have to be removed, too. 

The landscape in front of our house now looks incredibly empty.  I am so used to seeing the huge crown of this tree filling the sky ... the bare patch of sky in its place looks so out of place. 

I have shown you this tree many times in the past ... it was a supermodel in the world of trees.     

What it looked like this spring before it leafed out.

Now it's a heart-breaking heap.

My favorite photo of the three trees in a snow storm.

The same angle today.  The picnic table is smashed under the tree limbs.

This huge tree is going to require a tree crew to remove ... and the reputable tree crews are out clearing powerlines and removing trees from people's roofs, so our heap of tree will have to wait for a while.


Daniel hasn't been feeling well.  For the past two months, we have been running him back and forth to the veterinarian for tests ... which have resulted in a confusing list of symptoms, none of which point to a diagnosis.  He has been x-rayed, ultrasounded twice, had needle biopsies and blood tests.  Through it all, he continues to lose energy.  Fortunately, his appetite and attitude are good.

This morning, we were at the specialty vet to see an Internist for a needle biopsy of his spleen.  (While I was waiting, I used their wi-fi to catch up on work and email.)


Preliminary results from this latest test may have our answer. The vet thinks that Daniel may have lymphoma in his GI tract. His review of the samples were promising enough to forward them to a pathologist for further review. He told me to expect to have results on Thursday ... I will probably be holding my breath till then.


I'm not at my best unless I feel like I have some control of my life.  With all of this going on, the lack of control has been a recipe for serious stress.  I'm doing the best I can to find a way to deal with each of these situations. 

We have power again, so there's no more living in the dark. 

The tree is gone ... I can't put it back ... I have to make peace with this.  It will take some time.

  Daniel is comfortable ... he continues to enjoy his food ... and I have every confidence that we will figure out what is wrong with him.

... like I said ... feeling powerless ... but working on getting the upper hand again.
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