Saturday, August 28, 2010

Got Milkweed?

The Monarch butterflies have landed in my yard.

DSC_5213 (There are four butterflies in this picture.  Do you see them all?)


The Monarchs sometimes stop at the Purple Coneflower but what the really love is the Milkweed.


The Milkweed plant is a a favorite of the Monarch.    I planted it so they would come to visit my garden.    


This milkweed is like a magnet for them.  I saw seven Monarchs sitting  on this plant at one time.


Monarchs are travelers.   They migrate in the fall to spend the winter in Mexico.  


Milkweed is easy to grow.   If you want to attract Monarchs to your garden, plant some.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Water Ball

My brother-in-law, Ben, is running for Sheriff.    Some of the family got together a few weeks ago to help him campaign.   We were in a parade in the small town where Ben, my sister Tonja, and their five darling daughters and one spunky son live.


It was a busy weekend for Ben, he spent most of it at his booth at the fair.

It was up to the rest of us to represent him at the events in his hometown.   The festivities in Ben and Tonja’s  hometown raises money for the volunteer fire department. 

I’ve previously written about the cow plop, which we attended again this year.     However,  this year, I’ve got something much more exciting to report about than a cow pooping.    This year, we formed a team for the water ball competition.   We were the only non-fire-department team.  Ben’s volunteered for the ambulance for fifteen years and we participated with gear borrowed from the Rescue squad.


If you’ve not seen a water ball competition before, it’s  kind of like tug-of-war, except you aren't pulling a rope with your hands, but instead pushing a ball with water.


Teams of firefighters (or in our case, three clueless sisters and three men with muscles) spray a fire hose at the ball to try to get it to slide along the wire to the opposing team’s side. 


One member of the team stands on the side lines and gives directions on where to aim the hose;  back back back , up up up, down down down.    


The team member in front gets to control the hose.


The one in the back keeps kinks out of the hose so the water pressure stays high.


The rest help control the hose. 


We all got our turn being in front.    When the referee says go, it’s time to run forward as quickly as possible to get the water on the ball,


Out of the ten teams,  I only saw one other team that had a female member.    We were definitely a minority, and the underdogs.


We just kept going.  


At one point, a competing team quickly got the ball over to our side and then turned their hose straight on our team.


I happened to be in front for the spraying.   I couldn’t see anything.  I couldn’t  stop laughing.   I couldn’t remember how to turn of the hose.

There are no pictures of this because everyone on the sidelines was running for cover as I sprayed the spectators in front of the bar.     I had no idea I did that until someone told me later.


  It’s really hard to see with a fire hose spraying you.  


We were all soaked through from our head to our shoes.    


We were doing quite well.   The crowd was cheering for us.  


Before we started, we were doing this mostly for entertainment.


Once we picked up that fire hose though, we took this competition pretty seriously.

DSC_5107 (2)  

I guess it paid off.  We came in third place in the competition!   

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wild Flowers

Some things surprise me.


Like when, in the middle of the day, on a camping trip, my brother says “ Get in the truck,  I’m going to show you some daisies.  There are a lot of them, you’ll probably want to bring your camera.”

DSC_4801And then he drives down a logging road until he finds the spot.   It would surprise you too if you knew my brother.


Or maybe not, because in other ways, it doesn’t surprise me at all.   It reminds me of my dad.   That is very much something he would have done.


It’s funny how often I see my dad in the actions of my brothers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mom’s Garden

My mom has two nice vegetable  gardens.    One is next to her house.



Her big garden is down the hill from the house.


She  has  a number of tomato plants on the deck.  Some of them are huge!   She’s also got assorted herbs tucked into her flower gardens.


You never leave mom’s empty handed during the summer.   She even cleans it up before she send it home.       She had a great system for cleaning the potatoes and carrots before she packed them up for me.


It’s nice not to have to bring all the dirt home.


I came home with carrots, potatoes, cabbage, rutabagas, onions, rosemary, dill and oregano.    The rosemary smells like heaven.

I passed on the zucchini.  It seems to be the one thing that I can grow in my own garden.     I did bring home a couple of loaves of zucchini bread;  my daughter is delivering it to my son and his girlfriend in Seattle this week.


My mom says she loves to work in her garden in the mornings between 6:00 – 9:00.     Gardening is good for the soul.

Those vegetables are also good for my pot roast.   Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Latest Buzz


These flowers were planted for my brother-in-law Jeff’s bees.

A few weeks ago, Jeff let me dress up in some protective clothes to get close to his bee hive.

DSC_4110 I was pretty excited about it.

Jeff started the smoker. The smoke helps to calm the bees.


Calm bees are good.


Jeff, my mom, and I traipsed back to the hive. My sister Lynn and my nephew Kevin followed to take pictures. They were wearing shorts and tank tops. Really.


The first step was using the smoke to calm the bees.


DSC_4154 DSC_4158



The bees build honeycomb and fill it with honey.



The female bees do all the work. They have about a two mile range to gather pollen. The drones are the males and their job is to mate with the queen. The queen is in charge and lays eggs.

If I were a bee, I’d prefer to be the queen.

DSC_4182 (2)

I’ve been fascinated by honey bees since I was young and my dad had hives but I’ve never been this close before.


Jeff is very knowledgeable about his hive even though it’s his first year of beekeeping.

If I’d remember half of what he said, this would be a much more interesting post.


DSC_4180 That’s my latest buzz.