Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random photos from Archives

Every now and again I thought I would pick a photo from my archives. This is a favorite of niece Megan being taken on a ride at the farm of one of father-in-law's sisters in North Dakota. We were there for a family reunion back in the summer of 2002. I may have even shared this before during the lifetime of this blog.

Megan is on the four-wheel drive with two second cousins, there is a dog running just ahead of them, a wagon-wheel mailbox and a stop sign that says, "Whoa!" Did I tell you how much I love North Dakota, not only the State but the people I met there? One of these days I hope to go back for another reunion.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A poem about trees and another about Jalapenos, along with a ramble.

Very Tall Trees
Laura J. Bobrow

One day I stood under a very tall tree.
The leaves were so high I could hardly see them,
And I'm certain the leaves couldn't see me.
"Well," I thought, "I'd like to be higher."
So I went and got the wheelbarrow,
A rickety old box and a rubber tire.
It took a lot of thinking to get them arranged just right,
And they almost reached to the very first branch....but not quite.
So then I got a telephone book, the watering can and chair.
And when they were altogether, I said to myself, "There."
I said to myself, with one foot in the barrow.
"I'll just climb up this tree and go visit a sparrow."
There's no trick to balancing on a rickety old box
If you know how to rick when the rickety box rocks.

"If mother could see me", I thought on this tire,
"Why where on earth are you going?" she'd inquire.
And I practiced my very most I-Don't-Care looks
As I stood on one hand on the telephone book.
But then when I got to the watering can,
It wasn't as easy as when I began.
I had one foot on the handle, and one on the spout,
And I wasn't afraid, I was looking about.
I waved to the birds. I breathed some air,
And I could have made it up onto the chair,
When along came the breeze,
Which tickled my knees,
And I started to sneeze
And kerplunk! I fell down as nice as you please.

Which is what is the matter with very tall trees.

The Cardinal thinks humans should grow wings.


The first photo was taken at Meadowlark Gardens, the second is of our son Brad many years ago when we were with my family in England. I have shared this photo before and decided to revisit it for this poem. The third one of the Cardinal was taken when he settled on a branch out back.

Gregg and I ran errands on Saturday and during the evening we were invited to attend the surprise going-away party of that little boy in the tree, now 31 years old, as he is getting a promotion and leaving his present place of work. All his friends and colleagues decided to throw him a party at one of his favorite restaurants. The party didn't start until around 9.30 p.m., the guest of honor didn't arrive until ten. It was fun chatting to all the people we see on Facebook after Brad has posted photos of their out-of-hours get-togethers. We felt like we already knew everyone and have met several at Lisa and Brad's wedding. Lisa used to work there also, and that's how she and Brad originally met.

The restaurant stays open all night and the party went on into the wee hours but we left around 11.30 having had a wonderful time chatting with everyone. Such nice, nice people and they are very much like a family. It was super to see how our son and daughter-in-law had such a close bond with the people they had worked with. I'll have a photo to share in the next day or so.

I made the mistake of drinking two or three cups of coffee and did not sleep very well. Sunday morning I couldn't jump out of bed very quickly, still feeling very much in the land of fog. Gregg, who spent many years in his navy days being used to the constant rumblings and the hum of engines on ships, and at one point slept under the deck where jets were continuously landing on the carrier, can sleep on a line-post. He got up after a good night's sleep and a short while later surprised me with breakfast in bed bless him, serving up a few slices of previously cooked steak that he had sau·téed with the eggs, left-over asparagus from lunch a couple of days ago which I had forgotten about, along with toast and topped off with a glass of orange juice. I told him he is getting to be quite a good chef as he is a great experimenter in the kitchen when he has the time.

We drove over to Lisa and Brad's to drop something off a couple of hours later, had a quick chat with them before going our separate ways. We talked about the party. Son will no longer be working with his friends, but thankfully they have both formed lasting friendships.

For dinner Sunday evening I thought I would make a couple of dishes to go along with the Grilled Chicken Fajitas, which I never got round to preparing because of the silly thing I did. One word, "Jalapenos!" Holy moly, wish I hadn't! Only because I joined the ranks of people who didn't wear gloves while seeding the darned things, thinking a jolly good hand-washing would suffice. Don't believe it, use rubber gloves! In my defense I can't remember ever making anything with jalapenos before. We jokingly said - sort of - we might suggest to the supermarket produce manager that he hang a warning notice in very large letters over his ruddy hot peppers.

To give you a quick clue what went on, realizing I got off pretty lucky after later reading about other people's experiences - and we were finally seeing the funny side of things, probably out of sheer relief - Gregg came up with this poem. The two dishes were Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. Simple ingredients and easy to put together you would think, but read Gregg's poem.

Denise: "Peppers, eyes!"

"But I washed my hands FOUR TIMES!!!

"Think how horrible if I had not.

Weird feeling, eyes burning,

Hot spots on forehead.

Eyes on fire!"

Yes I was breathing a sigh of relief after I had spent half an hour dunking my head under water in the bathroom sink, doing a pretty good impression of a snorkeler. I basically had a delayed reaction from cutting up and removing the seeds of two jalapeños. I thought I had taken all precautions. After each time I touched the hot peppers I washed my hands in hot soapy water, and I did this four times. I had already told Gregg all about the dangers of touching eyes after using hot peppers, especially the seeds. About half an hour after our meal I was yawning my head off, I sat down thinking it had all turned out lovely, and without thinking and such a classic no-no, I rubbed my eyes. Who knew? After I had snorkeled my way through that sink full of water, and after drying my very wet head, strange heat sensations that I've most definitely never experienced before crossed my furrowed brow. I also noticed that my fingertips were a bit numb and were feeling the same kind of strange heat. What the heck!

I really did get off lucky because I went on the Internet and found that I was not alone. Amazing how many people out there have had the same thing happen to them. First of all if it had been as bad as some of these poor people had to deal with, I would have called the doctor, a walk-in clinic or as a last resort gone to the ER, but I found it interesting. You can click here to read one very long thread from Great Britain, and click here where one lady had a nasty experience and gives some advice.

Now, after all this, would it stop me from using jalapeños again? Probably not but I certainly would take every precaution, like using those rubber gloves -that seems to be at the top of the common sense list. The result of the two dishes, the Guacamole and the Pico de Gallo, they were excellent and I will post them sometime, that is if anyone is brave enough to make them. It was actually the Pico de Gallo that I ran into trouble with. Tomorrow I will make the Grilled Chicken Fajitas that didn't make it to the table, because I was otherwise engaged diving into the bathroom sink. Plenty of left-overs from both dishes today.

Picture this, an image of Gregg and myself wearing Industrial Strength Welders masks and gloves while eating dinner tomorrow. Maybe I can get him to write another poem?

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I don't have all the names to these flowers but I identify those that I know.

Rose by any other name.....

Purple Meadow Rue
Thalictrum Dasycarpum
(origin Taiwan, China, Midwest US, Ontario and Arizona)

I had previously misidentified this as Common Thyme, but thanks to Pat over at Pat and Jerry's blog, and much to my surprise, she identified it correctly as Lavender.

I had found the Thyme marker at the bottom of this plant and automatically identified it as such. There was no scent of lavender that I have in my bar soap or oils that I use at home. Lavender is one of my favorite scents and I love looking at the plant at our local nurseries, but I have obviously never seen it in full bloom, thinking those thin stalks of lavender were their tiny flowers.

That's what I enjoy so much about this meme, I am always learning and there are so many of you out there who are only to willing to help me along. Please don't stop, I welcome the corrections. It's the only way I learn.

Steve from Out on the Prairie blog identified the above as a Water Horehound, a plant with a square stem and is part of the mint family. Thanks Steve.



Stephany at Foggy Mountain blog told me this was a Dianthis. Thanks so much Stephany.

TODAY’S FLOWER’S was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli Jr.
The link to will be opening later on today.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Brief History of the English Language

I found this interesting learning a little bit more about the land of my birth. I discovered the article while reading the George Mason Students' Magazine, and have added it word for word.

A Brief History of the English Language.

If you had decided to come to Britain in the year 450 to improve your English, you would have totally wasted your money.

Firstly, you would have had a hard time finding anyone. The population of Britain at this time was a little over 400,000, The people were isolated in settlements and between them were huge dense expanses of forest populated by wolves, bears, beavers and wild boar.

Secondly, if you did find anyone to talk to you, you would only be able to recognize a very small number of the words we know today. The language you would be listening to was mainly Celtic.

'The Celts' was the name given to the isolated populations of people then living in Britain. They were descended from the ancient Iron-Age hunters who walked across the land bridge from France thousands of years before. Over the centuries the language had become fragmented and specific to the individual populations, with the result that there was no simple unifying language spoken by everyone.

Life in Britain was soon to change forever. Across the channel our green and pleasant island was being greedily viewed as a highly desirable living space and shopping centre.

The first invaders came from Jutland, in the northern part of Denmark. They landed in the south-east and settled in what are now the counties of Kent and Hampshire. The Angles soon followed from the south of the Danish peninsula, and entered Britain along the east coast. They settled in Northumberland and East Anglia. Not being happy at being left behind and missing out on all the fun, the Saxons and Frisians decided to follow their continental cousins across from Germany, and from 477 settled in various parts of southern and south-eastern Britain. We still refer to these parts of England as Essex, Wessex, Sussex and Middlesex.

The invaders called the Celts 'wealas' (foreigners) from which we get the name 'Welsh'. The famous British friendliness and hospitality had not yet been born, so the Celts couldn't be bothered to be polite; they ended up calling the invaders 'Saxons' regardless of their origins.

Over the next two hundred years the population of Britain either migrated to Devon and Cornwall, crossed the sea to Ireland and the Isle of Man, or to Brittany in France, or integrated with the visitors to create a group of people known as the 'Angli'. To this day there are similarities between the Cornish, Breton and Gailic languages.

Only a handful of Celtic words have survived to modern times.


crag deep valley

torr peak

brock badger

dunn grey

eccles church (as in the town of Ecclestone)

caer fortified place (as in the city of Carlisle)

penn hilltop (as in the town of Pendle)

There are also a few Celtic-based river names:

Thames, Avon, Exe, Usk and Wye.

Added note: as it usually does when I come across anything I find interesting, I go on a google search to learn a little more and came across another article that was very similar. A small part of it states:

"Old English (500-1100 AD)

West Germanic invaders from Jutland and southern Denmark: the Angles (whose name is the source of the words England and English), Saxons and Jutes, began populating the British Isles in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. They spoke a mutually intelligible language, similar to modern Frisian - the language Northeastern region of the Netherlands - that is called Old English. Four major dialects of Old English emerged, Northumbrian in the north of England, Mercian in the Midlands, West Saxon in the south and west and Kentish in the Southeast.

These invaders pushed the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants out of what is now England into Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland, leaving behind a few Celtic words. These Celtic languages survive today in Gaelic languages of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Cornish, unfortunately, is now a dead language. (The last native Cornish speaker, Dolly Penreath, died in 1777 in the town of Mousehole, Cornwall.)

A very interesting article. You can find that here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Red-winged Blackbird

Many of you will recognize this as a Red-winged Blackbird. I saw him at Meadowlark Gardens a couple of weeks' ago. I can't remember the first time I saw one but it was at Huntley Meadows and I was mesmerized by those red epaulets with a touch of yellow. I had a few stop by my bird feeders a few weeks ago, the first time in our garden but they haven't been back since. If you click here it will take you to a page where you can see clearer pictures and learn more about them, and also hear their bird call. I didn't think I would ever learn any kind of bird call at one time, but I heard his before I actually saw him and I knew what it was immediately. I guess it all sinks in eventually.

At the moment I am enjoying several bird calls as I have the patio door open and they are talking to each other. So relaxing to hear them chatter.

The sun is shining and the weatherman said it was going to get up to 90 degrees today. It is 72 as I type at 8.05 a.m. There is a tree out back and its branches overhang our deck a considerable way. We were asked if we would like to have them trimmed but both Gregg and I love looking at them and it gives you a feeling of being in the middle of a wood. It's also a great place for birds to hang out. I suppose once the branches start hitting the house then we will have to have something done, but not now.

Gregg left this morning after I had fixed him pancakes for breakfast. He said he thinks he might be getting home earlier today. We were both awake at around five. I'm still a wee bit tired but am heading for the coffee pot, and I think I may pick up my book for a while before I start the day. I am reading "Losing Ground" by Catherine Aird. It is about a Detective Inspector solving crimes in in a small town in England. The author is new to me and I have only read about a dozen pages but it promises be a very interesting read.

Okay, off to the coffee pot I go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lisa's Graduation

Lisa and Brad
Last Saturday we attended our daughter-in-law Lisa's graduation where she got her post-graduate degree from George Mason University. It was a wonderful celebration which we were delighted to be part of. There are a lot of photos in this post but I whittled down a lot as it was hard to decide which ones I should share.

We settled down in the auditorium waiting for the students to arrive. Gregg is sadly noticeably absent in all but the above as he was taking all the photos. A poor excuse but the time went by so quickly and I was apparently focused in every other direction, that I did not realize this until we got back home and started looking through the photos. The self-portrait above was taken by me. I should have gotten Gregg to take it as his arm is longer than mine and I have a giant head, a grimace and a double chin but hey, I'm not vain says she with a rye grin. As it is the only one we have with Gregg and he always has a lovely smile, it's in here.

There are a few photos that Brad took and a few that I took but most of them were taken by Gregg. Oh and I forgot to charge my pocket camera's battery thinking no problem, I have my cell phone which takes pretty decent photos. Except that when I looked inside my purse I had left the phone on the charger at home, thinking how well organized I was being at the time. I managed to take a few shots with my good old standby but then the battery ran out. Pfffffff.....rolling my eyes and shaking my head with a note, try not to run out of the house at lightning speed because you remember how awful the traffic was last time and you arrived 15 minutes late when Brad was graduating. Wouldn't you know it the traffic was light this time! Silver lining and this is for Gregg's benefit, at least I didn't take a tumble running down the stairs into the garage.We arrived half an hour ahead of the students.

Below is Lisa's Mom and Lisa's brother John, with his wife Kenzie sitting in the middle.

We were right behind them but sitting next to Lisa's Dad, so I took a photo of them talking.

A view of the opposite side and by this time the students were just about seated.

Arrow points to Lisa.

A closer one where she is sitting just off center to the left with pink sash around her neck. She is sitting next to one of her professors who has a floppy cap and a yellow tassle.

A little further away....and then my battery ran out. Over to Gregg.

Below at the podium is the President of the university. I thought the speeches were all excellent. Second left is Retired Admiral US Coastguard Thad Allen who gave the Commencement Address.
Outside with hundreds of others trying to connect with their graduate. Here's Brad looking for Lisa and I am looking in the other direction. Brad is always easy to spot as he is usually at least a head taller than the crowd. This has stood us all in good stead over the years.

No sign yet....
but we know she's on her way.

At last, here she is being greeted by her Mom and Dad.

It is an exciting time. I actually tried to delete that hand in Paint Shop Pro, the one that is growing out of Brad's head but try as I might I couldn't get it done without it looking horrible, so the hand stays. Lisa's brother's profile is on the right of the photo.

So very happy for her. All that hard work has paid off.

With brother John......

and now with John's wife Kenzie.





Time to get out of the sun and head for the trees where it was pleasantly cooler, at least a bit. It was the first hot and humid day of the year that I can think of, at least that we were out in. Above I was hoping that giving my camera a rest might allow me to take one more smidgen of a photo, but no joy there.

Gregg decided to take a few shots under the trees after he had gotten us all in the shade, so here's Lisa and Brad. By this time Brad has one heck of a bad headache. Gregg would say, "He is his mother's child." Of course when he's stubborn he's Gregg's child.....just kidding Gregg and Brad! Mother's have got to explain themselves clearly haven't they, especially if English with kind of a dry, quirky sense of humor anyway?

Brad, Lisa, John and Kenzie, four young people I am happy to call Family.

John and Kenzie are newly weds, only having gotten married a little while ago.

By this time we had arranged to meet the four of them over at one of the area restaurants for lunch and had separated for a brief spell. Gregg got very artsy and decided to take a picture of his ticket.....

and me.

Beforehand we had met up with Brad at our house and he drove us over in our car and was leaving with Lisa of course. When we left we forgot to ask for our car key back, so Gregg called him - what did we do before cell phones? Obviously not doing very well in the 'rememberer' department today. They were making their way over to another car park on the opposite end of the university but fortunately they hadn't gotten very far and came on back. As we spotted their arrival Gregg saw this as another photo op and took a few shots as they were walking over. By this time I was sticking my head in the car to start up the cold air.

They gave us our car key and we drove them over to theirs, then we met up for lunch along with Kenzie and John.

Lisa's Mom and Dad had had to go to a Bridal Shower of some very dear friends, so unfortunately they couldn't join us.....

but they very kindly invited us over in the evening where we enjoyed the company of other members of Lisa's family, her oldest brother and his wife, and their two young children. Lisa and Brad's nieces and nephews are all adorable but I didn't want to share their photos without the parents' knowledge. This is the only shot I have from the evening, Lisa's graduation cake.

Congratulations Lisa, way to go! The day you and Brad met was a very happy one for us.