August 2008

There is something about blogging that I cannot figure out.  You should see my “blog fodder” file.  It began before I was ever blogging because I thought I might start.  There are ALL KINDS of post ideas in there.  It has barely been touched in the 10ish weeks I have been blogging.

My “draft” page has unfinished posts in it, too.  Posts that I WILL finish (some of them need to be soon), but when they have been written, something just did not click.

Then there is my “blog fodder pictures” folder.  Pictures go in there that are for imminent posts.  I resize them to not take up so much space and put them there.  There is a folder unto itself inside the picture folder that I made last night for the post I was going to do then which was a follow-up to Thursday’s SkyWatch post.  (I was going to show the sky in all directions.)  I knew what I was going to say, the pictures are ready, so WHY IS THAT NOT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT???  I wish I knew.

I was taking my weekly, blissful bath (there will be a whole post on that–soon, I  hope) when something screamed into my brain that I CANNOT post the rest of the sunset story, but I have to post this recipe.  What is that about?  Someone please tell me this is just the way blogging is, and that it is not that I am just a lunatic wasting my time preparing something to let it fall by the wayside.  PLEASE!  (Or tell me I AM a lunatic and I need to seek some kind of help.)

So the sunset story must wait.  When whatever demon muse told me to do this recipe, I decided to save the sunset follow-up for a later date when my skies are the same every day.  They will be a beautiful, deep blue, but still the same every day.

So now that you know what is NOT here, I hope you enjoy what IS here!

I found this recipe more than 15  years ago.  I think it was in a Taste of Home magazine, or one of the food periodicals from that publisher.  I cannot give more credit than that.  I actually have a name with it, but without being able to contact said person, I am not sure if she would want her name on the internet, so I will withhold it.  (If it is YOUR original recipe, please leave a comment as such!)

This is a recipe I would not dream of making without my own fresh garden produce.  What is pictured used my tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and parsley.    (Home-grown tomatoes are a must, the other ingredients can be from the store, but it is a bonus if they are not.)  I make it once or twice a summer, and I have never, EVER made it without at least one–usually several–recipe requests.  I believe that is why the demon muse screamed at me to post it today, but I am not sure why it could not have waited until next week.

Without further ado, here it is:

Gazpacho Salad

4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 (2-1/4 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
1 tsp. salt


1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbls. chopped fresh parsley (I like Italian, or flatleaf, best)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin

In 2 qt. or larger class jar or bowl, layer 1/2 of the salad ingredients in order as given in recipe, topping with 1/2 of the salt.  Repeat layer.

In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients.  Pour over vegetables.  Cover an dchill several hours or overnight.  Makes 10-12 servings.

by Louise Cannon

Note:  I really despise the font I have been using, and it is hideous for displaying recipes.  I apologize.  I have played with my font and found things I like, but I cannot do things I like when I start in WordPress.  If I start in a word processing program, then copy and paste it, then add pictures, I get crazy, unwanted space.  My blog guru figured this out for me, and apparently the only way I can combat this problem is shell out some cash to have a self-hosted blog (with non-blog-technical ME at the helm) and hire a designer to do what I like, and possibly someone to even help me keep it doing what it needs to do.  Although I would LOVE to do those things, that is not a priority for my cash at the moment, so recipes must be done as above with too much space in them.  But if I brought them in from another program, there would probably be more space, so I guess we just have to deal with it.


EDITED:  My blog guru changed my site while I was taking a nap!  What could be better than that?  I LOVE it!  Do you?  I have been meaning to change my header picture anyway for the next season, so this is perfect.  It is so much more “me.”  Thank you, Ducky!  I think you should do this for a living!


click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

I was driving home BY MYSELF last week and saw this sunset developing,  It was not spectacular yet.  I got home and watched a little more.  After a while, I decided to drive to a spot to get some good pictures.  It is not often that I have the freedom to just go somewhere and take pictures.  (Sunsets happen at bedtime, and although Prince Charming takes care of bedtime for the girls, I still need to be there most of the time for my part–song for each, hug and kiss–in the nightly ritual.) 

So I drove, with my dog, because there was thunder in the distance, and he did not want to be left home alone.  (After we got there, I think he wished I had left him.)  After parking, I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes slowing spinning in circles, taking pictures in every direction.  I was in the middle of an amazing view.  There were vibrant colors in every direction.  There were storm cells with lightning in two directions.  There was rain falling (but usually not hitting the ground–the darkness in the foreground of the sky in this picture is rain) in several directions.  I had 12 pictures left on my memory card when I was finished. 

What to pick?  I picked one of the last ones, not because it was the most spectacular, but because it does not really look real.  This picture does not look real to me, but it did not look any more real when I was out there.  It was even LESS real there because I could see the entire scope of sky.

I love New Mexico skies!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus

by Louise Cannon

This post is in response to a prompt from Kelly at *Weekly Anamnesis.*  I like Kelly’s word prompts to help me think of something to write.  She is not picky about when someone uses a word.  It can be an old word; this one is.  The word I chose is “Use.”  Anyone is welcome to use her prompts.  Just go there and follow the instructions.


This is a crayon. 

Crayons are used from childhood to color pictures.  The most common uses are coloring pictures in coloring books or drawing and coloring on blank paper.  There are other things that can be done with crayons for the more creative and artistic like melting the shavings to make psychedelic backgrounds, but for the most part, they are just used for coloring.  On paper.

A few weeks ago you may remember we had guests at our house.  The numbers varied as some came and went, but on the last night there were six.  Six meant that my two children and one other child slept on the floor, and one adult had to sleep on a futon in our loft.  This is not a major event, but it does involve moving the futon away from the wall.  Five of the guests left early in the morning, and due to our children still sleeping and the other guest not leaving, we left the futon down and away from the wall, as putting it up would have made too much noise.

Chicklet has a friend, Tyler, who lives behind us.  They are the very best of friends, only 17 days apart in age.   (Both are 4.)  They play together a lot.  Their older sisters are also best friends, so it works well.  All four kids are experts at scaling the wall between our houses and are often at one house or the other.  (This is with parental permission.  We have been through, and put a kabosh on the just-coming-and-going-as-the-children-please-without-letting-their-parents-know-so-the-parents-do-not-completely-flip-out-wondering-where-their-little-cherubs-are.  Yes, it has happened, more than once. But not more than once per child.)

Checking out a spider

Checking out a spider

Tyler came to play with Chicklet the morning after all the guests left.  The rules are usually, “Play outside or play upstairs” as this Mommy has piles of work to do and cannot do it it two little children are tearing around the room near her or asking her a thousand questions.  So when he arrived, over the wall, they raced upstairs.  When it was time for him to go home, a couple of hours later, I did a cursory check to make sure the upstairs was not carpeted with toys.  Once they had cleaned to my satisfaction, Tyler went home.  But here is what I missed (not the intended use of the crayon):

Chicklet has only written on walls once before, and that was a Chic’s prodding, and it was with much more washable markers (but do not think that brought any less consequences).  Chicklet has never really been into writing on walls.  I asked her about it, and she said Tyler did it.  I asked her if she helped, and she said she did.  She got in trouble and that was that.  Until… Tyler’s mom told me he had written all over another neighbor’s very nice, toy piano with markers.  So I told her about the wall.  Apparently this was a new trend with him (culminating with his finding a crayon in their house last Sunday and use-ing it to color the walls as he walked all the way from upstairs to downstairs.  She talked to him about crayons on our wall (he was shocked and amazed that his mom could have any idea what happened in either neighbor’s house), and this is the conversation that transpired (Chicklet confirmed its accuracy):

Tyler:  Here is a crayon, let’s use it to color on the wall.

Chicklet:  OK, you can do that.

Tyler (After coloring is mostly finished):  Do you like it?

Chicklet:  Oh yes; it’s pretty!  Why don’t you do some more?

Tyler (silly grin):  OK!


Here is an example that is a little more constructive (at least to me).   Remember that I have a business to do with rubber stampng and teaching people to stamp?  Well one of our products is “rub-ons,” which are adhesive decorations that can be “rubbed on” to all kinds of surfaces. 

images copyright Stampin' Up!

Obviously cards, which is what I do most, but they can be used on glass or wood or fabric (I love to put them on ribbons that I use to decorate cards) or metal…  just about anything.  This picture is a pendant that was made by decorating  a large washer from the hardware store with rub-ons and embellishing with some beads on the string.

But when I went to my Convention, I came up with a brilliant idea (that I am sure someone else has come up with, too, but I have not seen it, and since I get my ideas from other people a lot, I am always excited when I come up with something on my own), and that is to use them for decoration with pedicures! (Not their intended use.)  I do my own pedicures.  (I am too cheap to pay to have them done, and too ticklish to tolerate them very well.  Deirdre and I had one together in New York before we went to Bermuda, and she laughed and laughed at me because I was clutching the armrest, doing Lamaze breathing, trying to hold still while they did that rough thing on my feet.  I keep my feet in VERY good shape so I do not need to get pedicures.  I had that one done because it was at winter’s end, and I was going on a cruise. )  So I do my own pedicures, but I cannot paint cute little designs on my toes.  I have tried stamping on them, but it usually comes out sort of blurry.  Then it hit me to use rub-ons!  Lucky me that we got some with our make-and-take kits at Convention, so I tried it there.  I works BEAUTIFULLY! 

When I got home, I ordered more rub-ons to do some samples.  The light blue with brown is a Christmas bell.  The skull and crossbones was actually a surprise favorite.  I do not like black nail polish and do not like skulls and crossbones, but I thought it turned out really well.  That one is dedicated to Stacie because she loves Skulls and Crossbones.

























Here is how this works…  After your nail polish (not top coat) is dry… VERY dry… cut out a little rub-on and stick it on.  They come with a popsicle stick tool to rub them onto surfaces.  On nail polish, it sticks almost by itself, but I rubbed a little.  Apply top coat thinly and quickly.  One of mine smeared a little because I went over it too much with the top coat.  If you want more top coat, apply it after the first coat dries.  I used O.P.I topcoat, and the rub-on lasted as long as my pedicures normally last (3-4 weeks).  I do not know how long it would last without a top coat, but I believe it would start to get scratched up quickly.  As it was, it did not get scratched or marred at all.  And it came off easily (easier than the nail polish) when I removed it to do my next pedicure.

I love this!  Rub-ons come in sheets that have all kinds of different sizes of decorative images.  It is easy to use up the big ones on all kinds of projects, but the little ones sometimes just sit there.  This is the perfect way to use them!


by Louise Cannon

Well, it’s award time again.  I got two surprise awards back-to-back a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting around to acknowledging them publicly and passing them on.

But first, a GIANT Congratulations to Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor and Klaus at Virtua Gallery who have both just had their 1-year Bloggaversary or whatever it is called.  These are two very different blogs, but I love both of them.

I began reading Mrs. G before I started blogging myself.  Most of the time she writes in a way that gives me one of the best laughs I will get all day.  She does, however, get serious periodically, and she is always logical and blunt.  Exactly my type of girl.  If you have never read Mrs. G., really, it’s worth the time, especially if you need to smile.

My fortune was good that Klaus found my blog very quickly after I began.  It was probably through Sky Watch Friday, but whatever it was, it was good because his is one of the best photography blogs I have seen, and his pictures are not only beautiful works of art, but so inspirational.  They inspire me to take better pictures and go find more birds and other natural things of which to take pictures.  Plus he’s an all-around funny and blunt guy.  (Can you see a trend here about things I like?)

OK, hope you check those out, but the rest of this post is about checking out other blogs, too.

click photo to enlarge

Now to the awards.  Reiterating that my “award policy” is that I do not necessarily follow the rules and you do not have to follow the rules at all if you get one from me.  You need feel no obligation to pass these on, display them on your site, or even acknowledge them.  I am passing them along because I like something about you or your blog.  If you do not like it, then just ignore it.  I personally like to pass them on because I LOVE to tell people about blogs I like!  But what you do is up to you!

The first award is this:


It’s from Lara at Laras Welt:  Photos From Romania and Austria and Other Ramblings.  Her blog always shows life.  She has done some wonderful series on festivals that make me feel like I am right there seeing the bright colors, dancing to the music and smelling and tasting it all. 

This one is going to:

Chrome 3D at Cloudbusting.  Another blog I followed before I started my own, and always an inspiration to see what he has seen in the sky.  He says right on his site not to give him awards; he doesn’t pass them on.  That’s fine with me, but I want to acknowledge him anyway.  He also leaves great comments on my posts that make me laugh a lot of the time.  And he’s blunt.

Your EG Tour Guide at East Gwillimbury WOW! The blog is aptly named.  There are a lot of WOW! photos there.

Lisa at Lisa’s Chaos.  There’s no telling what might show up on this blog, but there is a lot of nature photography.  Recently there have been some absolutely fabulous dragonfly shots.  Go look!

The Fish Whisperer from Picture This and XStreem Fishing.  He is an excellent photographer who lives in a beautiful place and takes pictures of it all.  What really inspires me at Picture This are his reflection shots.  Not every post is reflections, but he does a lot of them, and they are all amazing.  He also leaves me encouraging comments.  Sometimes I think I throw garbage up on my site, and maybe it is, but he says nice things about it anyway!

Pietro Brosio at Pietro Brosio Gallery.  Brilliant photography with some original artwork thrown in periodically.  In his photography, it is evident he has the eye of an artist.  Terrific stuff at that site.  Also an encouraging commenter.

Shimmy from Shimmy Mom. Shimmy blogs about her life, and it can cover anything.  She is funny and nice.  When I was traveling in her area, she gave me weather updates.  I was going to give her this award anyway, but then she gave me the one that is below, and here is what she said:  “Louise at Potted Frog who always has a bright outlook on the things in life. She is an avid visitor who always has a kind comment. And her posts maybe long, but they are always good.”  Prince Charming laughed out loud when he read that.  Shimmy, you are just too cute for words!

Julie from Sydney Eye.  Fabulous photos.  Perfect Haiku to go with them.  Encouraging comments.

TSANNIE from The Tombstone Chronicler.  Another “expect anything” blog with lots of great photos.  She is from my home state (as is Lisa from above), so that makes her (and Lisa) extra special!

RuneE at Visual Norway.  The blog name says it all, except it does not say the photography is excellent.  I love the glimpses into life and scenery in Norway that are on this blog.  Also says nice things about my posts and pictures.

OK, I realize I mentioned comments a few times above.  If I said something about your nice comments, please do not feel under pressure to continue!  I appreciate what you have done, but I know making it public like this sort of puts the pressure on.  Forget about it!  Just thank you.

click photo to enlarge

The next award is from Shimmy Mom.  I already talked about her above, so I will just show you the award and tell you who gets it from me.

Madge from It’s A Mad Madge World.  First, I love Madge.  Second, she is funny.  Third, she gave me my first award.  Fourth, she has things like: “It’s National Madge Is Going To Post Every Day For The Next 37 Days Month Which Is More Than A Month But What The Hell It’s My Blog Month OR NaMaIGoToPoEvDaFoThNe37DaMoWhIsMoThAMoBuWhTheHeItMyBlMo”.  You just have to love that.  (And I am not chiding that I have not seen a post in a few days. That whole school starting thing knocks the wind out of you–well at least it does me.)

Maria from One Day in Hania and Organically Cooked.  Oh my goodness have I learned so much from this woman’s blogs.  She gives detailed descriptions (with pictures) about all kinds of things pertaining to her life in Crete, and her cooking blog is just amazing.  Although she is Greek and grew up in New Zealand, and I am a midwestern American, we have a lot of common background.  OK, not everything (I didn’t get stuck in a foreign country for months due to outbreak of war when I was little), but more than one would think.

And last, but never least is Deirdre at ReluctantFarmChik. I have referred to her before as my “best” or “dearest” friend, but said those were not exactly the right words.  (Neither of our personalities support “dearest” with one another.)  So saying she is a “joy” to me is sort of in the same category, but in all honesty, she IS a joy to me.  She just started blogging, and I love it because it is just her personality coming through her stories.  She makes me laugh.  In real life she makes me laugh and pushes me places I would never go on my own.  Hanging out with her always means special privileges. And even though she is sometimes tough, she is NICE.  She treats me like family.  (Better than some family!)  Oh, and she’s blunt!

I hope you take a moment (or a few) and check out some of these blogs.

by Louise Cannon

Note:  The magnolia photos were taken in June in my neighbor’s yard.  None are blooming now.  And they do not enlarge when you click on them.  No idea why.
Mom's Donkey

Mom's Donkey

Yesterday I went to a funeral.  It was for a man from my church who suffered from a stroke about three weeks ago while recovering from a long illness.  He was a funny old man. 

It was the second funeral I have attended since my mother passed away in early December of 2006.  The other funeral was for a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly.  He was like a grandfather to Chic and Chicklet, especially Chicklet (who we have previous established has special relationships with men).  His funeral was in our church.  The one yesterday was in a funeral home.

Yesterday’s funeral had a couple of things that I thought were unusual.  The first was that there was a social time afterwards in the funeral home (which is what was completely new to me) that had appetizers–potluck style.  Chicklet was with me, and the service had already cut severely into her nap time, so I dropped off my dainty tidbits and left.  The other thing was that the during the service, the funeral director pulled every card from every floral arrangement and had the greetings read to the entire group sitting there.  Although I was not offended by this, I can think of a few reasons why that might not be a good idea.  It also took a very long time (cards were being pulled as the reading was happening).  We were already well past an hour of actual service, and Chicklet (age 4) was about fed up with quietly sitting still.

But through all of this, I did not mind being at the funeral home…

Funerals are not something I like.  OK, who likes them?  But I detest funerals.  By the time I turned eleven years old, I had been to well over 25 funerals that I could remember.  My father’s aunts and uncles were old.  My parents helped out old people.  We just seemed to be connected to a lot of people that died, and I had my fill of funerals at an early age.  Personally, the necessity of funerals had escaped me.  I have never thought I needed a funeral for closure.  To me they are mostly a time of misery.  A few forced laughs to check the flow of tears periodically, but overall not something necessary in my world.

Funerals are, however, necessary for most Americans, so whether you like it or not, when someone dies, there is usually going to be a funeral.

When my mom died the funeral was three days after her death.  Due to the circumstances of her death, and knowing what she would have wanted, my father, my brother and I decided to do it quickly and simply with no fanfare.  My mother’s family did not appreciate this at all and made the whole thing a big ordeal by their interference.  Their wishes were not granted.  (This is a completely different story, but they spent a lifetime making my mother’s and father’s lives miserable, so I was pretty firm about not bowing to their desires.  It was just their desires, and I knew it was against everything in which my mother believed.)  Since that time they have on their own done things to make my mother’s passing more to their liking, but at the time it was not at all to their liking. 

I was not with my mother when she died.  I knew she was going to die, and I had been there eight days before.  Had she lived I would have returned four days later, but I did not live close, and it was not possible for me to be there the entire time.  As we were driving back to Missouri after we learned of her passing, we got countless phone calls from my mother’s family, my mother’s caretaker and my father’s family all telling their side of whatever story and why we should do this or this or that, or complaining about some other party that had been calling us.  As was often the case before her death (years before), everyone was mad at everyone, and I was supposed to fix it.  At this time I probably was the logical person because my father and brother had been in the thick of things until the end, and neither of them had the emotional stamina to deal with selfish people.  Because selfish is what they were.  The reasons given why we should do this or that was never in consideration of my mother, her husband or her children.

Apparently, these people will never learn that it is unwise to order me around.  Making absurd demands of me, especially at a time like this, meant that I would do the exact opposite, if that was possible.  The only reason those people got anything the way they wanted was that I was on the road when my dad was at the funeral home, and he caved to one demand–to have a funeral.  (I would have had a private graveside service, which is what my mother wanted.)

Funerals are never pleasant events, and they tend to bring out the worst in people.  I do not think that was the case with my mother’s funeral because her family always has their worst on display.  For some crazy reason my mouth would still drop open at their unbelievable selfish behavior (shouldn’t I have been used to that after 41 years living around them?), but they were no different at the funeral than in daily life. 

Since I hated funerals, I was truly dreading this one.  I did not want a bunch of people comforting me.  The circumstances of my mother’s death (she had a 9-year illness that rendered her unable to take care of herself all those years) meant that I would have to put on the fake smile to many insincere people offering condolences.  Maybe some were truly sorry about our loss, but many ditched both of my parents when my mother’s illness began.  I have always been honest (brutally honest in the opinion of some), not false.  Politeness in this case would call for being deceptive, which I not only dislike, but think is wrong. 

The funeral went better than expected.  The family room at the funeral home was open to my dad, my brother, my mother’s caretaker, me and my family.  The other family was irritated that they were prohibited from being there, but their irritation was more than fine with me.  When it was over, I was relieved and just happy to be done with it…

Back to yesterday.  As I sat in the funeral home, I was comfortable.  It was not anything about it specifically (the sound system was bad, the decor was extremely dated, the service was too long and had odd additions to it), but just being there.  I thought about it the whole time I sat there and finally came to the conclusion that it was comfortable because I connected it to my mother.  The last time I had been in a funeral home, it was for my mother’s funeral.  It was after her life ended, which had not been so wonderful for many years, and she was finally at peace.  The last time I saw her face (with WAY too much make-up; she did not wear makeup at all) was in a funeral home.  Seeing her lifeless form was not a comforting experience, but the last time I saw her face before that, it was wracked with pain and pleading eyes.  She could not talk for several years before her death, but her eyes communicated quite clearly.  Near the end her eyes spoke of fear, pain and “PLEASE LET THIS END!”  So I guess when I saw her again, she was at least in a restful state.  No more pain.  No more family garbage.  Just rest. 

So as I sat there yesterday, I suppose my reflections were what they should have been at my mother’s funeral, had that time not been laced with so much emotion and family political posturing.  I had time to process and be comforted.  It was nice.

by Louise Cannon

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

After last week’s SkyWatch post, I wondered, “What can I find that is as spectacular?”  The answer is that I can’t find anything.  And I guess if I could all of the time, it would cease being spectacular.  Right out of college I lived in Iceland for seven months.  There was little daylight for more than four months of the seven.  There were amazing sunrises and sunsets, and that is all we saw in “daylight;” the sky was always pink or dark.  I remember the first time in the spring that I saw blue sky–the sun was up long enough to not have pink sky.  At the time, it seemed the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

This week’s SkyWatch is just a happy cloud behind some of my cosmos flowers.  What cloud wouldn’t be happy looking down on those cheerful blooms?

Cosmos are one of my favorite flowers.  The first year I planted them (on a whim), they were so prolific and beautiful that I made Prince Charming make a whole flower bed dedicated to them for the next summer.  I love this picture because of the cosmos, but also because of the deep blue sky, and very white, happy cloud.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus


My regular readers may have noticed my posting frequency has decreased.  I thought this might happen once school started.  It did.  There is nothing I can do about this crazy schedule.  I know you do not sit on the edge of your seat waiting for my posts, but just wanted to let you know what was up.  My first priority is reading your blogs, so if I have time to post when that is done, I work on it.   But there are lots less “available” hours in my day now than there were in the summer.

by Louise Cannon

Exercise is something I am good at. I have always been active, but since moving away from my home state and becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I have forced exercise into my routine. I do not need exercise buddies or people to encourage me. I do not need gym memberships to motivate me. I just need a few essential items, and I am good at being motivated to get it done.

My exercise involves walking/running (pushing 50-105 pounds of jogging stroller, depending on who is in it), biking (dragging a bike trailer, again 50-105 pounds), rollerblading (with jogging stroller) and weight lifting. I do all this mostly because I get bored doing just one thing. Our housing development has about fifteen miles of exercise trails, and I know every nook and cranny of them. I have created different routes that I take to fill up the allotted time so I have the chance to see different things each day. Most of the time I have no problem getting four 1-hour+ workouts in each week, and sometimes more. (The more depends on my schedule, which is tight.) My point is that I get it done. I do not make excuses; I just go and exercise.

However, I have not exercised regularly since the end of last November. Since Chicklet’s birth (more than four years ago) and subsequent first year of misery (for Chicklet and me), my exercise has involved a weight loss goal. Since I am not a dieter (I eat quite healthy most of the time, but I like eating), exercise is my key to weight maintenance. When I stopped exercising last November, I was within four pounds of my goal. I do not even know where I am now, but it is a far cry from four pounds!

December made exercise impossible because Chicklet and I both got sick. It was cold then, and when we are coughing, it is not reasonable to go out and exercise. Unfortunately, my sickness turned into bronchitis, which lasted until I finally went to the doctor for it at the end of March. Thus, all winter long I was not exercising. (I plan this winter to try to find a gym that will let me join for four months so my exercise is not weather-dependent in the winter.) In mid-April, I started exercising again, but could not get back into the routine of it. School was nearing an end. There were constant field trips (which I faithfully chaperoned having a daughter in Kindergarten), Science Fairs, Art Shows (I am the volunteer art teacher at my daughter’s school, grades K-8), etc. Not having an established routine, it was too easy to not establish one then. I managed to exercise enough to damage my ankles a little, though. I had encountered this injury before, but it got better, and then it happened again. My body does not like it when I run. I personally do not like to run, but walking does not seem like enough exercise, so on “walking days,” I tend to run a lot of the time, which ultimately messed up my ankles royally.

The ankle pain was actually debilitating. I should have gone to the doctor. (I should have gone to the doctor two years ago when I first noticed it.) I resisted because not all of my medical experiences in New Mexico have been worthwhile. I thought that they would tell me one of two things: 1) Deal with it, or 2) You need surgery. I was already dealing with it, and I had no interest in surgery. (Recovery time from surgery would mean an even longer period of no exercising which would fully derail my exercise momentum, etc.)

In late May, while in Missouri, I reinjured the ankle twice. The second time I was running in an emergency situation, barefooted, and actually crumpled on the ground because the pain was so bad. (Thankfully, the emergency fixed itself.)

After returning home, I reinjured it repeatedly, 2 or 3 times a week. It got to the point that I was falling a lot because the ankle was so weak. If I would step on something uneven, it was not strong enough to hold me up. It would hurt less to fall than to strain the ankle more. Each injury would mean about a day of basically no walking. I finally decided to go to the doctor before our trip at the end of July. I was going to be walking in a Convention Center (totally forgot about hiking), so I could not be worried about 2 or 3 bad injuries a week. I walk better on heels (which is what I wear at Conventions) because of the angle at which they put my foot, but a fall from heels is worse. So I went. My General Practitioner referred me to a podiatrist, but I could not get in until after my trip was over. But she gave me a splint that she thought would make it possible to hike while we were in Zion. It worked! (Obviously, if you are a regular reader, you have seen a few of the pictures.) We hiked about half of every day, and I had very little trouble. I could not believe how much difference having the stability of a splint made. It was then that I decided I had been a true idiot in not going to the doctor sooner.

old splint in Zion National Park

old splint in Zion National Park

The podiatrist gave me a different type of splint. It has a little bubble in the arch area that can be inflated to comfort level. This is a much better splint than the first, but it doesn’t work well with sandals at all.

So Monday I decided to try walking again for exercise. I had managed to hike half-a-day for three days in Zion (albeit at a 4-year-old’s pace). Surely I could do it here. I went on a level, shorter trail–a loop around our development that is two miles, and starts about 1/4 mile from my house. There are lots of places on this loop that I could cut it short if I was having trouble. I DID have trouble, but of course not until past the last short-cut. My ankle did not hurt, but this time it was my foot, because I use it differently due to the ankle injury. It was not horrible, just tired. The worst thing was that I forgot to take my camera.

new splint

new splint

Today I went again, and the foot was better. I remembered my camera and think I got some nice photos, but have not checked yet. It just feels so good to be actually moving around again. I really do not LOVE exercise, but I love how I feel when I do it. I cannot go tomorrow, but I will go again Friday, and if all goes well, I might try roller-blading next week. I cannot bike right now because the hitch on my bike trailer broke right at the beginning of this problem, and I need to shell out some big bucks for a new trailer. (Which I am willing to do because I use it a lot, and it is worth a lot to me, but I have not researched well enough what I want/need. The last one was only $99 at a resale sporting goods store. A lucky find.)

What is the point to this story? When I had bronchitis, I should have gone to the doctor sooner. I waited four months. After going I was cleared up in two weeks. When I hurt my ankle, I should have gone to the doctor. Even with just a splint, I would not have continued with new and repeated injuries. (I have to go back in a week to see what the next step is on the ankle. The splint is not a permanent fix.) I am all flabby and feeling less-than-perfect and have lost all my momentum, just because I did not want to go to the doctor. I am the opposite of a hypochondriac and never want to rush to the doctor at the slightest problem, but maybe there is some good ground in the middle somewhere.

Ya think?

by Louise Cannon

Each weekend David McMahon at Authorblog asks a question and asks readers to answer it on their own blogs. This week’s question is here.

The question is: Are you a nervous traveller?

Most of the time I would say that I am, but if it is a car trip and I am not driving, I am not nervous at all.  However, if it is a trip in which I am going to be driving all day with just my girls, then I am nervous.  I have no idea about what I am nervous , but I usually have difficulty sleeping the night before the big trip.  It is a strange phenomenon because I do not mind driving.  Just my neurotic uptight personality, I guess.

But my real nerves come when flying somewhere.  If it were not that flying is so fast and convenient, I would probably never do it.  I actually used to love it and had no fear whatsoever, but sometime in my twenties I was in a plane (a Cessna something-or-another with one engine and six seats, though I would not have volunteered to have the 5th or 6th seat!) owned by the company which employed me.  This trip was an all-day journey from southwest Missouri to Michigan and back, the purpose being to pick up two passengers in Michigan.

The trip began wonderfully.  I loved flying, and it was exciting because it was going to be a stormy day.  The weather radar showed cells building all around us.  On the way to Michigan, I sat next to the pilot with headphones on so I could hear what was going on.  Periodically we would get close to some cells, and turbulence would cause us to gain or lose a couple hundred feet of alititude at a time.  We were being buffeted like a feather in the wind, and it was exciting.  I would watch the radar and hope we would get closer to more cells.  I imagined myself taking flying lessons. The clouds we flew among were enormous, and the combination of their beauty and the bouncing made the flight seem like a surreal amusement park ride.  I was enjoying every second of it.

After picking up the passengers, we headed back.  I was relating to the passengers my exciting version of the trip so far and telling them how much fun I was SURE the return trip would be.  (Famous last words.)  We all settled in with our own good books and water handy.  Small squeals were heard when we hit good bumps.

The number of cells around us started increasing rapidly, and it came to the point that we were constantly in cells, trying to avoid the worst ones.  Still having entirely too much fun, I was hoping we could not avoid them because it was such a blast to bounce around in them.  The clouds were no longer pretty, however.  They had closed around us to make the scenery little more than grey.  Then, through my headphones, I heard we were headed for a tornado.  Now I have always wanted to see a tornado; I grew up right next to a “tornado alley,” but had never seen one.  But the nerves started to intrude at this point.  For one, it was so stormy and cloudy, that I did not think we would be able to see it unless we were IN it.  As much fun as the bumps were, the tornado did not seem like something that would be fun.  I suddenly was thoroughly unimpressed with slipping through the air with no visibility.  (And all thought of flying lessons bounced out of my head somewhere along the line.)

We never saw the tornado, nor did we get caught in it.  But my cavalier demeanor had already diminished, and it seemed there was no end in sight to the storm.  We were continually bumped and battered.  I was not terrified, but it was not exactly pleasurable anymore.  Then there was the Giant Bump.  Our little plane that had been previously flying with wings parallel to the ground was now flying with wings nearly perpendicular to the ground.  We apparently lost altitude during this as well because I remember all our water bottles being suspended in mid-air for what seemed like 3 minutes, but I know it was probably less than ten seconds.  The pilot did not “right” our plane in less than ten seconds, however.  Again, time was standing still, but it took more than a few seconds to get us flying level again.  I remember seeing the determined look on his face as he put all his strength into holding the plane as steady as he could.

No one knew, but my head was a mess the rest of the flight.  I prayed repeatedly for a safe landing, pretty sure my prayers would not be positely answered.  I watched the radar like a hawk to see what was ahead.  The pilot requested a different route because ours was so dangerous, but there were no. other. ways.  The storm had grown into a massive severe thunderstorm so big that going around it would mean running out of fuel.  My white knuckles clutched the armrests as we made our way home.

When we got below the clouds, it was calm.  I could not believe we had endured such turbulence and came into such relative calmness.  I did not kiss the ground when we exited the aircraft, but I wanted to.  The pilot who always had a terrific sense of humor said, “Cheated death again,” as we pulled up to the terminal.

Since then I have never liked to fly.  It is a necessary evil, and I do it, but without the least amount of joy.  I do not drink, but I always get on a flight and say that I am ready to take up drinking.  It is usually better than I expect it to be, but my nerves have never completely subsided. 

But what makes it worse is all the sounds and smells on commercial airliners that have no explanation.  When I am on a plane and hear a loud noise, then smell smoke, and no one bothers to say anything, am I supposed to just think all is fine?  Am I the only one on the aircraft that is concerned at that moment?


The last time I flew was with Prince Charming to Winnipeg for our 10th Anniversary.  One of the sounds I heard was an alarm bell.  No explanation.  If it is not something worthy of alarm, one would think they might not make it sound like a 5-alarm fire.  Another sound was the captain pushing his “ding” button for some kind of signal to the flight crew or possibly the passengers.  It is my opinion that there should be a card in the seat pockets that gives the meaning of all noises and signals.  To me, a briefing of what noises mean what from the flight attendant rather than how to buckle my seatbelt might be useful.  When that “dingy” noise happens five times rapidly, that sounds a little like some sort of trouble brewing to me.  What is different about when it happens four times than when it happens five times?  What if it is only twice?  Call me crazy, but I want to know what all that means! Maybe if we knew, we would all be screaming in a panic.  (I wouldn’t because I panic quietly in my head–but just as violently as those screaming loudly.)  But I cannot help but think that if I knew what those sounds meant, I would be a little calmer.

Because here is the strange thing.  Although it was a bad experience on the little Cessna that made me terrified of flying in the first place, I would still prefer to fly in it than a big jet.  At least on the little plane, I can see the instruments and hear the radio traffic and know everything is fine.  Clearly everything has been fine on the big jets as well (or I would not be here writing this), but NOT knowing at the time ties my stomach in knots and makes my knuckles ache from clutching the armrests so violently.  Probably the right answer is Xanax, but I have never tried that.  I am pretty sure if I did, I would be a vegetable upon arrival.

What I really want to use is a transporter like in Star Trek.

by Louise Cannon

Today a new hummingbird showed up at my feeders.  It caught my attention because the regular hummingbirds were making a racket, like hummingbirds tend to do.  I went to see what was up, and saw glistening rust and orange.  All day long I tried to get a picture.  I do not have time to sit and wait, but finally I got a pretty good one.  My thoughts are that is is a Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus.  There is something somewhat similar called Allen’s Hummingbird, but that one has more green, and I never saw much green on this one.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

This bird is a real dazzler in the sun!  Apparently they live in the northwest U.S. and southeast southwest Canada in the summer, but migrate to Mexico for the winter, so we were lucky enough to see the little traveler.  I hope I can get a better glimpse, and picture, before it heads out.  I have no idea how long it will stay.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

For a short time while waiting for the hummingbirds to get close enough to photograph, I took pictures of the herb flowers in my garden.  The hummingbirds like to get nectar from the lemon balm flowers.  I also have cosmos in the herb garden and took some pictures of that.  The cosmos pictures turned out OK, but I like an older one I have better, so I am putting that up.

This cosmos picture was taken in early morning light, and I liked it because of its shadow.  I did not realize until I uploaded the photo how interesting the other shadows in the picture were.  The extra shadows are from my late Weeping Cherry tree.  (I will probably do a full post on the tree soon. ) It was dying suddenly when the picture was taken, leaving it without foliage which made the nice shadows.  I cannot really explain why I love this picture, but it is a favorite from my own archives.

The last picture is of a Desert Willow bloom.  I love these trees.  They grow anywhere and very quickly.  When we moved here six years ago, I thought it was a bush and trimmed it as such in the Spring.  A year later I learned it was a tree.  It is a bushy sort of tree, but it is already taller than the roof of our first floor.  It will not be giant, but it is even now a very nice size. 

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

The Desert Willow blooms are full of nectar, and they “rain” it all the time.  It always feels cool when walking under one in the summer because of the mist of nectar.  This particular tree rains its nectar on my garden.  This morning I was picking jalepenos for a batch of salsa, and all of the peppers were covered in nectar and quite sticky.  The plants were also covered with aphids, and that was not as pleasant, but they came off easily when I cleaned the peppers.

The salsa recipe I made today is from Lynn at the Vintage Nest.  You can go here to find the recipe. 

When I made my first batch this summer, I used the following recipe:

Huachuca Salsa

4 lg. ripe tomatoes, diced

1 green tomato, diced

8 green onions, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

2 or more jalepeno peppers, minced (I am a pepper wimp, so I usually remove the seeds unless the peppers have no heat at all.

1/3 c. olive oil

2 tsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate to let flavors blend. 

This is my favorite summer salsa.  I make salsa once or twice a week when I have my own tomatoes and try different recipes all the time, but I come back to this one at least a couple of times every year.

Lynn’s salsa is much different.  It is sweeter and has some interesting nuances of flavor.  Go make one of these.  I swear you will have it devoured in no time!  (And you don’t need to bother with chips if you don’t want to.  A spoon is just fine!)

by Louise Cannon


click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

Yesterday morning I was catching up on my Google Reader when I looked up, and outside.  It was one of those fiery sunrises.  I jumbed up, grabbed my camera and raced to the back yard for pictures.  (The second picture is from the back yard.)  While back there, I could see the color wrapped around from East to West, so I ran to the front to get more pictures.  The wrong lens was on the camera, so Prince Charming assisted for a quick change, just in time to capture the above shot. 

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

Some of my previous sky posts have received comments that the picture looks like something from a science fiction movie.  I agree.  I like science fiction and see that in the sky often myself.  But this one…  well, I think this one (the first picture) might win the science fiction prize of all my sky photos.  It actually reminds me of some of the the bad special effects from the original Star Trek series.

The last picture was as the color faded into morning.  As is often the way with sunrises and sunsets, it happened quickly.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.  You will not be sorry you did!

by Louise Cannon

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