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.

2009.10.29.SWF.CosmosAgainstSky

click photo to enlarge

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

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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!

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.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

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!)

click photo to enlarge

lick photo to enlarge

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!

This post is a meme hosted by  Sonia at Leaves of Grass. This is not the first time she has hosted Ecological Day (I have been aware of it at least twice before), but it’s my first time. Pop on over and see what everyone else is posting this month! I think it will be fun. Most pictures in this post will enlarge when clicked (and likely worth it.)

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Our mountain on the way to school

Our mountain on the way to school

Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.

Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.

My shadow while riding

My shadow while riding to school

Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.

Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)

The mesa with golden morning sun.

The mesa with golden morning sun.

These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

"Russian Olive" with copper fruit. I've never seen that before.

Russian olive with copper fruit. (I've never seen these in copper before.)

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

I have to be honest and tell you I never thought I would post a rainbow picture for Sky Watch Friday. Rainbows are spectacular, but from my perspective really difficult to capture in a way that shows anything about how wonderful they were. And I am not saying these pictures captured what it was really like, but I like them anyway.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

During “monsoon season” here in the desert southwestern United States, we have lots of rainbows, and this year there were even more because the season (which is still going for some crazy reason) has been much longer than usual and the frequency of clouds and light rain more than usual.  But although there are a lot, they are fleeting. The rain is so isolated and sparse, that rainbows seem to last not long at all. Often I do not even get a picture, let alone have time for it to be a good one.

But this rainbow was unusual. It was a “full rainbow” covering 180 degrees. Those have been rare in my life. And it lasted a long time. I decided to drive for a better view, and got one somewhat better, but my lens wouldn’t even capture the entire thing. But the EXPERIENCE was the wonderful part. I watched it change for a good thirty minutes. I was just getting ready to pack up and head home when I realized how low the sun was in the sky. So I stayed for a spectacular sunset as well. (I am not showing you the sunset because I do not like to put too many pictures up for SWF, and I will be needing archives when this monsoon seaon ever ends!)

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

May your weekend be as brilliant as my rainbow!

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

 

It is time for some awards. I love awards for two reasons. My FAVORITE thing about them is passing them on because I love so. many. blogs, and I like to share that with others. The other thing I really like is hearing the nice things other bloggers said to me when they gave each award to me. Who doesn’t like that? But for me, it is strange, because I HATE attention in real life. HATE. IT. I hated my wedding showers and my baby showers. I just do not like being the center of attention. But it seems that when a computer is in the middle, it is fine with me.

My apologies to the people who gave me these awards that it has taken so long to get this post together. That is part of my charm… RIGHT? Also my heartfelt thanks to all who gave me these awards. I cannot tell you how these surprises (every single one has been a surprise) make me smile.

And before I get to the actual awards, I will remind you of “Louise’s Award Policy.”

-I am changing the rules, so you can, too!
-If you receive an award from me, it is up to you what to do with it. I do not notify people in comments that they have received an award, therefore they may never even know they got one! I tend to nominate people on a much higher plane than myself, so it is often likely they do not even read my blog. SOOOO, if you happen upon an award from me, you can take it or leave it, display it or not display it, pass it on or not, acknowledge it or not.
-If you have received the same award from someone else, see the above rule. No one is making you take this.
-If you have received an award from me before, see the rule two above this.

The Award I begin with is the one I got the longest ago from Antigoni’s Diary. But let me tell you why I like HER blog! She lives in Greece, and she has fabulous ocean pictures! OK, there is a lot more to her blog than that, but those two qualifications would win me over without the rest. (The rest is fabulous, mind you, but I’m just sayin’…)

Here is who I am passing this award to:

Quintino at … lenses and vision… for amazing photography. Amazing.

John Theberge at Maine Nature Photos.  Flowers, bugs, scenery. All excellently shot.

Marvin at Nature in the Ozarks. Marvin does not “do” awards, but I cannot help it. His posts are amazing and so educational.

Yrsa and Chrome3D at 4 Seasons in Southern Finland. I love the photography in this blog and the subjects which they choose to photograph.  Chrome3D has his own blog which is not into awards, so this one might not be, either, but again, I cannot help myself.  I want YOU to know about this blog!

Woman in a Window. This woman is an excellent writer. She creates imagery that makes a story larger than life, but it still feels like real life. She talks about real life, but in an incredibly eloquent manner.  Definitely. worth. reading.

David at Authorblog. David will probably not believe I am giving him this award because in my comments more often than not I jokingly make fun of his wit. This is a blog I read before I began blogging myself. It is the blog that let me to SkyWatch Friday, which is how I found (directly or in a round-about way) most of the other nearly 200 blogs I read.  This is a “brilliant” blog because it is so multi-faceted.  He is an excellent photographer (and traveler, so we see many things). He has ludicrous news stories. He writes limericks. He devotes a post every day to other bloggers. The list goes on.

And finally, Jennifer at Thursday Drive. Another amazing, poetic writer.  She writes about life and things beyond life. She is the reason I joined the blososphere.

The next award is from The Fish Whisperer from Picture This Digital Photography. This guy is so nice to me! And his blog is incredible. I love his photography, and he lives in Fiji. That is so completely foreign to me, but it has water, and water is VERY GOOD, so I love HIS blog, too!

Then I got the same award from Denise at An English Girl Rambles and also from The Fishing Guy. I love Denise’s blog because there is some excellent photography and commentary and actually, I like the same thing about The Fishing Guy. And I have already told you about the whole country music thing with The Fishing Guy.

 

Below are the people/blogs who get the above three awards.  If you get one, you can claim any or all (or, of course, none).  And to be honest, if you are reading this, I want to pass it on to you because you are not likely to be reading this unless I have read your blog, therefore I like your blog.  But there are still a few for which I will make special mention (because it suits me at the moment):

Morgan at Stumble, Survive, Smile. This is a very new blog from a very open and honest girl about life. She knows how to write about it, and I love reading it. There is just something about reading honest, heartfelt writing about life that is so appealing.

TBNIL at Traveling, but Not in Love. This guy makes me laugh. Not all his posts are funny, but most have a humorous side to them, and he knows how to make it that way. If we were to meet in real life, I am sure we would have very little in common.  He is much younger than me and his lifestyle is completely different (mine is pretty boring in comparison), but he is just fun to read.  REALLY fun. EXTRA fun. Go read! (And if you comment, check back in the comments for his worth-reading replies.)

Rich at Championable. A raw look at life. His posts are short, but powerful. Often funny, but often not. But there is always a funny element in the sign-off…  Even you…

Deirdre at ReluctantFarmChik.  OK, I JUST gave her an award, but I LOVE her.  I LOVE her blog! It is still new, but it is getting even better with every post. She is funny. She is worth being in your reader! (And if you have not been there yet, you must go to hear about Prince FARMING.)

Mrs. Chili at The Blue Door. I found Mrs. Chili by reading her comments on other blogs. I LOVED her comments. She was always sensible.  Always sincere. Her blog is the same way. She covers a lot of territory as her life covers a lot of territory, but she is a genuinely wonderful person who writes an open, honest, sometimes controversial post. But she is not a controversial person, so even those posts come out pleasantly, even if I happen to be in the other corner from her! Mrs. Chili is a wonderful, remarkable woman.  (And it doesn’t hurt that she has 2 red-headed daughters!)

I was making a list so I could do this post, and there are ten more blogs on my list, but I know if I list too many (may have already), no one will take the time to check them out.  I really hope you do, because they wouldn’t be up here if I did not really believe they are worth it.

And again, if I were to list all the ones that I can say, “I love your blog” to, it would I am sure be anyone reading this. I read yours because I LOVE IT!

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 a word from previous weeks, which I have done before.  But today I am using “Smelly” which is actually this week’s word. Anyone is welcome to use her prompts.  Just go there and follow the instructions. I love to see what different people write about the same word prompt.

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click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

When I first saw Kelly’s word this week, I thought of several things about which I could write.  I have an incredible sense of smell.  The problem was which thing relating to smell should I address?  I had several ideas, but was not sure I wanted to go down those paths.  Then I thought of another post I have been wanting to do for a long time, and it involves “smelly stuff.”  I had it planned for last Friday.  But last Friday was not a good day for me.  Fridays are always busy–probably my busiest day (which is why my usual Friday post has been sporadic since school started), but last Friday was the worst yet.  So no post about smelly stuff.  No post at all. And that post will have to wait because for ME (not you, but this is my blog), that is a Friday-specific post.  I will try again next week.

So that left me with what should I write about for Kelly’s prompt?  I still cannot really decide, so I will just tell you a few things about me and my wonderful sense of smell.

Having an acute sense of smell, as you can imagine (or know if you have one, too), is not always good.  In fact, sometimes it is very, very bad.

Like the time I was on a six-hour flight to Iceland a week after having my wisdom teeth pulled.  I was still a little sick from the anesthesia.  (Anesthesia and me are not the best of friends, although I would suffer through the effects of it every dental appointment if allowed.)  I am pretty sure this was after I learned to be afraid of flying, and the flight was more than a little bumpy.  It was bumpy enough that my ginger ale was sloshing over the side of the cup. 

Icelandair in earlier days (I do not know about now) was a wonderful airline, except that it was crowded.  They would cram six seat across when most planes would have five.  And I think cram four rows where most airlines had three.  Something like that.  On this particular flight, there was not an empty seat, and there were a bunch of demanding people on board.  I do not remember where they were from.  All I remember is that they were continually making demands from the flight attendants, who were bouncing around bringing them this and that.  My ginger ale was gone, and I had politely asked for more.  They forgot about me in the mess.  (I LOVE Icelandair flight attendants; it was not them that was the problem.) 

In addition to this, I was in a middle seat.  I would never get a middle seat now.  NEVER.  But then it could not be helped.  On one side of me was someone who should have purchased two seats.  I had about half of my seat available for my use.  (A six-hour flight, mind you.) And on the other side of me was a girl who was smelly. She was thin, and we could have shared some space, but I know she had not showered or bathed in more than a week.  (Or maybe she had just finished a marathon and had neglected cleaning up.) Remember my queasy stomach?  This was not a good time to have a good sense of smell. 

Waiting for more ginger ale, I sat and sat and sat and watched things bump and slosh. My nausea increased.  I turned the air full force on me in hopes of relieving some of the sickness, but to no avail. Finally, I realized I had no choice but to make my way to a lavatory. This was long before “September 11,” and the line for the lavatory was at least 15 people long.  Knowing I was good at holding back throwing up, I was still uneasy about the line.  I took the bag in the seat pocket in front of me with me. 

Time was irrelevant as I stood in that line. I have no idea how long I was there. I only remember focusing on things other than how I felt. I actually felt the smallest bit better after getting away from the smelly girl, but things had gotten too far before I left.  When I made it to the lavatory, I threw up.  I was proud for not doing it in the aisle-way (which would have caused a chain-reaction if anyone near were anything like me), but I had never done that on a plane before. 

Feeling enough better to survive, I returned to my seat, climbed over the sleeping, smelly girl and sat on the half of my seat that was left due to the very large sleeping man next to me. Unfortunately, I never sleep on planes.  I wish I could, but sleep always eludes me. As I sat down, the flight attendant brought my ginger ale. The rest of the flight would be better…

When women are pregnant, often their sense of smell heightens. For me, I knew every time I was pregnant before any test would show it (other than a blood test) by the things I smelled. It is no wonder women get morning round-the-clock sickness those first weeks (16 weeks for me) of pregnancy. Every time I remember smelling cows when I knew the nearest ones were several miles away.

But having a keen sense of smell has some benefits. I can smell my roses when I am coming up the street from someone else’s house. When visiting my family in Missouri in May, I can smell the honeysuckle hundreds of yards away.  What an intoxicating scent that one is! Scents I love can completely change the course of my day.  My days are stressful, but the right candle, my favorite perfume, the bread baking in the oven, rain or a million other beautiful smells can nearly make me forget my stress.

Hopefully, this Friday will clue you into my “smelly stuff” post.  It really is not about “smelly stuff,” but that plays a part which is why I was going to use it with this prompt.  It will be a fun one when I get to it.  It has something to do with Prince Charming, so be on the lookout.  (I am pretty much duty bound to get that done this week now, am I not?)