flowers


My memory does not tell me why I got side-tracked last summer with presenting my summer vacation, but I did. Now is the time to finish it. (And who is going to complain about some warmer-weather pictures?)

I left you at Red Canyon, outside of Bryce Canyon. From there we went to Cedar Breaks National Monument.

We go to this place every single summer. I have a convention every summer in Salt Lake City which is why we take these family vacations to western National Parks. The very first year we passed through Cedar Breaks, and we always return because it is so beautiful. The wildflower meadows are a place that we must get a picture of our kids each year. The times of year we have gone have varied which means the flowers have varied at lot when we have been there. But it is always a wonderful sight, and perfect for pictures of little girls.

(I must warn you that friends and a fellow blogger have been there as well and have not had the spectacular weather we seem to be blessed with. The elevation is over 10,000 feet, so weather can be unpredictable, but it has always been spectacular for us. There is a big ski resort in the area for winter visits, but leaving toward Salt Lake would scare me to death if the roads were bad.)

This is the big attraction--the "breaks." It reminds me a lot of Bryce Canyon, but not so many hoodoos. This is looking right into the area.

This is looking left in the same area.

Thankfully they had a quick Junior Ranger program here because we are always passing through. The Junior Ranger program is really a good one. It not only teaches children about the area and nature, but about being responsible with nature.

A week earlier or later and one would see completely different colors in a field like this.

I am sure these are not uncommon, but Cedar Breaks is one of the few places I have personally seen white thistle.

The wildflowers alone would be reason enough to detour here every year, but the "breaks" in the background make it absolutely spectacular. This is one of my favorite places I have ever been.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Part 1 is here.

These photos are from the 2007 Mother's Day hike as the prequel post.

The spring parent-teacher conference for Chic’s first grade year was also useless. We got Ms. J’s fake smile and the fake “she is a joy to have in class.” I am sure not everyone thinks these things are fake, but I have really, really good perceptive powers, and I know. I did ask a question about Chic’s best friend who I knew from art class to be a complete airhead. I was concerned about this friendship because Chic is NOT a complete airhead, and I did not want her to be trampling someone (even unwittingly) because that someone might not have the wits to not be trampled. Ms. J assured me that Chic’s friend was one of her brightest students.  This seemed quite strange to me because the girl was only somewhat creative in art class but could not follow a simple instruction to save her life.  I chalked it up to my not being properly perceptive when it applies so close to my life. (Which is not true, but I often do not trust my powers of perception when it involves me or those directly related to my life.)

Now to the fifth parent-teacher conference, October 2009. Chic was not-quite-8 and was in second grade. We had 20 minutes of the fake smile and fake “she’s a joy to have in class” garbage, but Prince Charming and I had other issues to discuss, so we said, “What is going on with math class?” Ms. J sputtered, then said Chic was much too immature and that she would have to call in the math teacher to explain. (We have 2 teachers for grades 1-5. Ms. J is Chic’s main teacher, but the other teacher, Ms. A teaches math, science and social studies.)

Let us back up to the school Open House in September. I had to be in the art room the entire time, and Prince Charming had a prior appointment (the date changed), so at the end I asked Ms. J how Chic was doing. “Just fine,” she fake-smiled. So I asked Ms. A, the math/science/social studies teacher, who I respected much more (at least at the time). She said she wanted to talk to me because she wanted to move Chic to 3rd grade math; she was completely bored in 2nd grade math. I do not know how much math has changed since I was in 2nd and 3rd grade, but I remember 3rd grade math being a LOT more involved than 2nd grade math, so I expressed concern about the concepts missed in 2nd grade affecting how she would do in the 3rd grade class. (Mind you this was not accelerating her, but just advancing her work in one class. I have no problems at all with this. I really have no problems with accelerated work in most classes, but keeping them with classmates their own age is important to me.) Ms. A assured me that neither the 2nd or 3rd graders were where they should be (there was no team teaching before, and Ms. J does not excel as a math teacher), so Chic would not miss anything. She was already as advanced as far as the current 3rd graders. I said I would need to talk to Prince Charming, but unless I spoke differently in the next 2 days, I was in favor of it. Ms. A said she had not discussed it with Ms. J, but she would.

This picture in dry, dry New Mexico could pass for one taken in wet, wet Iceland.

After a week I started asking Chic about math. She made no indication that anything had changed, so after two weeks, I asked Ms. A about it. She said she had talked to Ms. J who said that the students made fun of Chic for being so good at reading, and it really affected Chic, so she was not in favor of moving Chic up. Ms. A told me she would wait until the quarter was over. I again expressed concern about 3rd grade math and starting too late in the year with it and was again assured that the 3rd graders were so far behind that it would be just fine.

At this point I started talking to Chic about the problems at school and also about math. She was bored with math, and she was a little afraid of how the other kids might treat her if she moved, but she wanted to move anyway. We talked about how to deal with bullies and why people make fun of other people, and she was prepared for the change. Also I spoke to the principal about the problem (since talking to Ms. J is useless and often detrimental and Ms. J seemed to not be curbing the ridicule in the least), so the principal singled out Chic a couple of times to call attention to and reward her academic excellence. All systems were “go.”

I knew the quarter was over because I had to turn in art grades. Nothing changed which is what led us to ask about math at the PT conference in October.

To be concluded… Tuesday, February 2. (Yes, February is almost here. Maybe I should take the Christmas flowers off my front door.)

It was 19 degrees this morning which means these wonderful cosmos are now gone, but through September and most of October, they just make me happy.

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To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Today I am taking a break from my Utah trip more than a month ago to show you a place we found this weekend due to letterboxing. We have been hunting boxes for over two years and started planting boxes this past spring, but we had never been to a letterboxing event before. This one was nearby, so we went, and what a good time we had!

El Rancho de las Golondrinas is a place I might have never known about were it not for this event. (The way a lot of places are–we find the COOLEST places by letterboxing.) We arrived late, and I am not terribly into people pictures, so this post just shows a little of what I saw. Because we were late, we really only had time to find boxes, not explore the museum, but we will go back; it is a very cool place.

This event also brought me face-to-face with the first person I have ever met through blogging. I actually knew of her family before blogging due to letterboxing, but that connection made us notice one another in the blogging world. So I met Rapunzel from Laughing Orca Ranch as well as her children. She has a picture of that (I pray she does not post it; I’m horribly non-photogenic!), but I did not get one. But for a much different (and more thorough) view of this incredible museum, go to her post here.

So here is what I saw of the museum in the midst of my frantic efforts to find 12 letterboxes in a very short amount of time.

This flowerbed with zinnias was right inside the entrance. I liked the picture having the flag in the background.

This flowerbed with zinnias was right inside the entrance. I liked the picture having the flag in the background.

This is probably my favorite photo from the excursion, but unlike Rapunzel, I LOVE fall! (Although her grudges against it are reasonable.)

This is probably my favorite photo from the excursion, but unlike Rapunzel, I LOVE fall! (Although her grudges against it are reasonable.)

I have no idea what kind it is, but I love the blue underneath this lizard. (And I always try to get lizard pictures when I see them.)

I have no idea what kind it is, but I love the blue underneath this lizard. (And I always try to get lizard pictures when I see them.)

The area had water, thus it was greener than where I live, and had big trees. Lots of good trees to climb. My daughters loved it!

The area had water, thus it was greener than where I live, and had big trees. Lots of good trees to climb. My daughters loved it!

This is the view in one direction from a hilltop. It was quite picturesque. (I should have taken pictures every direction, but we were in a hurry.)

This is the view in one direction from a hilltop. It was quite picturesque. (I should have taken pictures every direction, but we were in a hurry.)

This is a working mill. (Not working the moments we were there.) My daughters were smitten with the frogs in the mill pond. I was smitten with the building.

This is a working mill. (Not working the moments we were there.) My daughters were smitten with the frogs in the mill pond. I was smitten with the building.

Wildflowers always require a picture. I saw these only in one small area. I believe the are "Butter-and-Eggs," Linaria vulgaris.

Wildflowers always require a picture. I saw these only in one small area. I believe the are "Butter-and-Eggs," Linaria vulgaris.

I believe this is a Viceroy butterfly. If I had a butterfly book I would look up its range. I know Monarchs; I grew up where they were abundant, and have several pictures of them, and this one just did not look exactly like a monarch to me. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I believe this is a Viceroy butterfly. If I had a butterfly book I would look up its range. I know Monarchs; I grew up where they were abundant, and have several pictures of them, and this one just did not look exactly like a monarch to me. Please correct me if I am wrong.

This cottontail arrived when I met Rapunzel. Apparently it was RIGHT behind me, but I missed that part. I liked the sun through its ears.

This cottontail arrived when I met Rapunzel. Apparently it was RIGHT behind me, but I missed that part. I liked the sun through its ears.

There were two old churches at this place. The history of the entire place is quite interesting.

There were two old churches at this place. The history of the entire place is quite interesting.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

The photos below have nothing to do with this post. I had no pictures to put with the post, so I just took a series that I was pretty sure would never make it to SkyWatch Friday. This is a sunrise about 3 weeks ago. The pictures were taken within about two minutes and I think include the view from every direction from my house.

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Before I started blogging, I hesitated quite a long time to do it, even though pressured to do it by two of my cousins. The main reason was time. I  knew I did not have time. I still do not, as evidenced by my irregular posting and visiting. But another reason is that I thought it was a bit narcissistic. I thought WHO CARES about the daily happenings of anyone else.  Before I dove in myself, I spent several months reading other blogs. I realized they are not all self-absorbed. (I do not read the ones that I think are.)

However, I have been thinking about my blog lately because one fairly regular reader and commenter once said something like “whatever your blog is about.”  I laughed (I often laugh at his comments; he has a wonderful sense of humor whether or not he means to be humorous.) because it is true.  My blog has no theme. I knew it would not, but it is glaringly apparent when compared to the blogs I visit. Most could be categorized as something. Mine cannot. It is about me. It does not get much more narcissistic than that. And this post will probably be the worst yet. Thank you to all you who come here even though the topics are so varied and there might be three sentences one visit and an epistle the next. And for putting up with me.

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Today I did not really want to say anything about September 11 because so many others have. I also find it irritating how something so tragic that drew a nation together for a few days (or an afternoon?) is now often used in a political sense to tear it apart. (Certainly not everyone, but I have seen plenty of  “Remember 9/11, and be sure you remember why this event makes me right in my political opinions.” I have seen this from opposing viewpoints. Can we just remember a tragedy without being disparaging?) I rarely mention politics in  this space because I hate politics. I hate extremes. I think all sides have extremes. I think the extreme left and the extreme right both want to take away freedom–just in different ways that appeal only to them. (My viewpoints make both sides upset, so if I really got into this, I would likely alienate my entire readership.)  I hate statements that have little other purpose than to be inflammatory. I hate it when people can dish it out but cannot take it.  So I choose to avoid the topic entirely–most of the time. Which is why I was going to avoid any mention of 9/11.  But something compelled me to tell my part of that day’s story. I was pregnant with Chic. I was at work. The tiny television in the Conference Room was on for people to watch the horrific scene over and over. (I am personally not a fan of watching the same tragedy over and over.) Then the Pentagon was hit. Just a couple of weeks before that Prince Charming had been doing an internship at the Pentagon. (Leaving my pregnant self home alone much of the summer.) What was horrible before was real then. But real for me was not, and will never be, what real was for the people who lived and worked  in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that day or who lost someone. They know real. The rest of us just speculate.

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In my car today, on the way to drop off some stamps and to pick up Chic, I suddenly started crying about my mother. There is  nothing special about today in relation to her, but maybe I was thinking about the 9/11 loss. Chicklet was talking to me, and I could not even speak. When I started blogging, I thought I would write a lot about my mother. About her life. About her death. About her 10-year dying process. But I have written very little. Some days I want to just unload it all. But part of me is afraid. The few times I  have discussed her before, the reactions have not been at all what I expected. My reason for wanting to share her story has to do with lessons learned. It is not about me at all. I do not want sympathy or consoling words. I want people to understand what happened and why. I guess I do not know how to say it in a way to make people understand, or else I am not ready. But today, I missed her.

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Last Friday (or Saturday, I don’t remember when it went up) I did a post and said I would see you on Monday. I did not. The day had several totally unexpected things happen (I spent most of the day in front of the computer working on things for Art Class), but ended well (and also unexpectedly) with an afternoon/evening with our “gaming friends” playing Settlers of  Catan–Cities and Knights. (And have been behind blogging since.)

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Now for some more random (and hopefully lighter than the first two sections) things…

1– I  have decided I do not like cooking much right now. Nothing has changed, really, but I get SO. MUCH. ACCOMPLISHED on days I do not cook. I am great at multi-tasking, but I think I hate it. When I cook, I want to focus on cooking. When I cannot focus on it, I think I would rather not do it at all.

2– Our electricity has been flashing lately for every thundercloud that goes over. I realize this is common in some parts of the country (southern Missouri, for example), but it is not common here. And it is starting to get on my nerves because I am at a computer so much of the time.

3– I have two times a day when I can think–really think. Those times are when I exercise and when I cook. (And cooking might involve so many other things that it does not count.) But I am thinking about a post relating to my aerobic activity which is biking (usually to school, but sometimes in the neighborhood). It will mostly be a rant, but I cannot get it out of my head.

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4– My husband is gone. He will be gone most of the weekend at a seminar related to his position at church. I hate it when he is gone. (For many reasons not the least of which he is not here to have water boiling on the stove to add to my bath when it gets cold–because I do not like running water in the tub because the wait for hot water is too long.)

5– Tonight’s bath is scented with Black Amethyst from Bath and Body Works. I was not into that scent much during the heat of summer, but I am liking it a lot again now. (Have I told you how absolutely glorious September is in this part of the country?)

6– My biggest project of the week has been doing my taxes. No, not estimated quarterlies, but the ones that were due on April 15. The last few years we have filed for extensions (even though we always get money back) because I do not have time to do them (and Prince Charming, forgive me, is useless in this area). But they have NEVER been this late. If I were married to Daryl (which I think is impossible because neither of us are lesbians, though neither of us oppose them and their relationships, and who also has a wonderful 9/11 post today), she would have divorced me by now for how long this has taken. Prince Charming is just happy he does not have to bother with financial things.

7– I really, really, REALLY do not like word verification on Blogspot. Really.

8– When I grow up, I want to be her.

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The Good:

Yesterday was crazy, but the craziest part was the part spent in the jury assembly room for a federal district court near downtown Albuquerque.

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My summons came quite some time ago. I begged off for having two children and no daytime childcare. No one cared, but I never got called to appear… until yesterday. I begged again, saying I would have to bring my 5-year-old with me. No one cared.

So yesterday after doing some of my weekly work at my church which I normally do on Wednesday, Chicklet and I went to the jury assembly room. Chicklet had a backpack stocked full of necessary items for surviving an undetermined amount of time quietly. Lots of small toys, coloring books, food and most importantly, her “home blanket.” Chicklet had also been made to understand very clearly about quietness and sitting still and in the courtroom she would have to be dead silent.

After checking in, we happily found a sofa where we spent the next two hours. Probably 45 minutes of that two hours was a very nice, very polite man doing an orientation for us. He was truly a jewel of a man because all but a couple of the questions people asked were the type that had I been in his place, I might have snapped, “Did you not listen to what I have been saying for the last 15 minutes?” or “Did you read ANYTHING we sent to you and gave you today?” I must say this man and his staff were efficient and friendly. (Quite an unusual thing for my part of the country, actually.)

I had a feeling once we got to the court room they would let us leave because there were strict rules prohibiting things that caused distractions–things like gum-chewing. I was thinking Chicklet could be a much bigger distraction than the rudest of gum chewers. But she was being SO good. I knew she could not be that good for a whole trial as she would get too tired to behave properly, but she was so good yesterday, I began to fear they might not send us home.

A lady (friendly and efficient) came in and said they were getting ready to go, but she needed to see two potential jurors first. I was one of them. They dismissed me before the courtroom! We had been there two hours, but got to leave and were home in time to get a quick nap in before going back to school to pick up Chic. When we left Chicklet almost threw a fit was a bit disappointed because I had prepared her for the courtroom and we never got to go, but all in all, this was GOOD!

But it is even better. Usually I am not home on Wednesdays. That meant that this week I would not be home TWO days which totally wreaks havoc on my schedule since I am always busy and working on something. But everything I usually do on Wednesday got moved to Tuesday this week. Usually that would have been an inconvenience, but after being gone all day yesterday, it is so lovely that I am home today! I choose to believe that God was looking out for me. (Yes, I believe in God. If you do not, that is fine. Call it the Universe or something.)

The Bad:

I need to lose weight. OK, a lot of people do. And I am not the poster child for obesity, but I am also not skinny, or thin, or even close these days. In fact, I weigh my all-time high–which I have only weighed once before after some very specific circumstances. The bottom line is that I like to eat and for the past two years, exercise has been sporadic due to bronchitis, ankle injuries, bronchitis, more ankle injuries and more bronchitis. But the past summer has been good. My aerobic activity is exclusively biking now (does not do further damage to my ankles) and I made Chic start biking on her own so I did not have to pull her in the bike trailer. (She more than doubles the weight of just Chicklet.) The goal was to prepare Chic to be able to ride her bike to school while I go along with Chicklet in the trailer.

We have yet to ride to school since school has started, and we only got to do one trial run before it started. This means I am not getting enough exercise. (But I am eating as if I am!)

So last Friday, we were set to bike to school. First, Chic’s bike had a flat tire. (We Prince Charming had not changed her tubes to the self-sealing kind which are necessary for this trip.) So I decided to do it anyway with Chic in the bike trailer–it’s only half the 11 miles since I drop her off. We were headed out early, and Chic started talking politics. (She’s 8.) I got so engrossed in this conversation (trying to explain things without clouding her opinions with my own) that I missed the turn to where we park to start biking. I did not realize this until about a mile later. It was too late to go all the way back, or we would be late to school, so I thought of a place we could park closer. When I turned, Chic realized she did not have her backpack. I had no choice but to go home. THAT was a disaster. The school traffic near our home is horrendous. (The last two mornings it has taken me 13 minutes to go half-a-mile. I live about 8 miles from Chic’s school, and the drive is 40 minutes.) I knew we would be late if we came back that way, so I went another way–hoping to save time so I could just go back home and bike with Chicklet. Traffic the other way was horrible, too. I nearly witnessed 4 separate accidents. (People here are not known for polite driving.) There was unexpected construction, and it was just a mess. I was wondering if God was trying to tell me not to bike that day. (I decided, possibly stubbornly, that it was something more evil that did not want me to exercise.)

Late to school. Late home, but I decided to bike anyway–even though Fridays are extremely busy days, and that one was worse because we were having guests for dinner the next day. We got loaded up and headed out. I was a big ball of stress, and when I was rounding a corner early in the ride, I almost wrecked. I did not know what was wrong, but my bike was sliding. I got off, and saw this:

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The trailer had caught the edge of a curb and flipped over, and I dragged it through the rocks. Chicklet was not moving or making a sound. I could see rocks inside the trailer by her head which had to hit the ground. This was a BAD accident. Someone who had seen it driving by stopped to help. But all was well. No major damage. Not a scratch on Chicklet who is the type to screech at the top of her lungs for the slightest thing. So the bad turned out good.

The Beautiful:

Recently I got gifts from two separate blog friends.

First is from Leia of We Love Luna and Bonjour Luxumbourg. I love ALL this stuff. I love that it is cute and is in French. There is even a little book in French to read to my girls.  Can I read French? No, but I’ll learn enough to read that book about that cat. Go visit her. Luna is a gorgeous cat, and Leia is all kindness.

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Also, Fishing Guy sent me this beautiful example of his photography, in the nice frame. He even printed something else in case I wanted to change it. (Why would I, but how nice is that?) Go visit him, too. His blog has always got something different on it.

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And the rest of you just make me happy with your nice comments and generous visits. You are all beautiful.

I know, I know. You are waiting for pictures of my recent trip. But we just got back last  night. I am in the throes of laundry and unpacking. I have not even glanced at half of my pictures yet. There is plenty of time. Today must be quick, so I thought if my Crepe Myrtle bush was this interesting to me, it might be to you.

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We bought it three or four years ago. I thought it was a deep, medium-pink like the pink in the picture above. But it has always been red. (Also like in the picture above.) When it first bloomed I was slightly disappointed because I had something that I did not plan on  having. But I soon  warmed up to it because I like things unusual and different, and I have never seen another one with red blooms.

But this year the bush decided to put on a different kind of display. The  blooms, both pink and red above, are from my bush. But the one below is as well. Some blooms are white. After three of four years of only red, I have no idea what would make this tinting and shading happen, but I find it intriguing and quite pretty. (If you have an idea what causes this, please enlighten me!)

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My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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