Monday, June 30, 2008

Mellow Yellow Beauty ...

I have arrived at the point where I am so infatuated with the architecture of the first homes here, that I never leave home without the Nikon, and I never go to town without searching for at least one awesome place. This home, directly across the street from the Immaculate Conception rectory, where I took piano lessons as a child, swept me away. The beautiful ribbon trim work is green and it's just another example of an individual placing great value on the upkeep of the home's originality. I'm overwhelmed by the beauty in my newfound interest here and have a deep appreciation for being able to see what I see, through eyes that have been away for a long while.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

No Friends Like Old Friends ..

Ron, Mom and I went to a brunch this morning celebrating my very first girl friend's marriage to a great guy named John. Shelly is second from the right and these are her four sisters; Judy, Debbie, Mary Ann and Marlis Thronson. They have three brothers; Jim, Jack and Jeff. Jim passed away, as have their parents, Norm and Lenora. But their family is still growing strong ... there were babies there. I love that !

Two houses occupied the space between our childhood homes. Shelly and I invented the peanut butter and mustard sandwich. You've never had one? Extra crunchy Jiff and French's, please. There were stories of me threatening to cut off all her hair ... and Jeff and my brother, Randy, getting into the Ex Lax.

Lenora was a pro at raising children by the time Mom had her three. Mom recalled her advice today, that they could never be friends if Mom didn't learn to butt out of all the little problems between us kids. Mom had great respect for her from that point on ... no doubt.

Later this afternoon Mom and I drove down the alley behind those four houses on 3rd Street, Southeast. They really haven't changed that much. All four are the exact same color they were back then. I was totally transported back to that place in time, and it was easy to go with it. It felt normal ... not the least bit dysfunctional. Sometimes I wish I had never had therapy : )

Today ...

is a great day in our backyard.

You Too, Can be a Gardener ...

North of Watertown is the Community Gardening spot. If you want to garden and don't have a place, you can use a piece of this lovely spot to do with as you wish. There is even water that you can hook your hose up to. What a great idea this is ... I have no idea who owns the property but it's either the City of Watertown, SD, or a very special individual. I will definitely venture back for veggie photos. Have I mentioned that I love my home town?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

First Class ...

I adore old houses with character. The person who lives here obviously has a sense of style. But I don't really have a feel for their financial position ... I like that.

When I first saw the house I was infatuated with it's gingerbread qualities and detail. Then I saw the porch ... chair, milk can, and the flower frame ... all just so perfectly placed.

The paint job is obviously very old. I'd say the colors were bold choices back then. I want to meet this person ... talk about class.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not So Cowardly Lion ...

I've been doing quite a bit of driving around town and have seen some pretty amazing architecture and gardens. When I saw two of these lions on each side of the stairs to this house, of course, I had to get a photo. The detail is unbelievable, particularly the mane. Click to enlarge ... his tail is wrapped around his hind legs and his eyes will get your attention !

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two All Beef Patties ...

This is Jessie's plate ... we were at Lake Kampeska last weekend while they camped out. Only a guy can get away with serving himself both a burger and a hot dog. Or is that one of those "Brat" things ? It's mystery meat to me ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lupin Love ...

This is an amazing plant ... every morning I check to see how far up the color has opened. I'm so grateful for retirement ... I don't EVEN have time to go to work.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm So Bummed Out ...

I just heard that George Carlin died of heart failure. What a drag !

Optical Schmoptical Soprano Osteospermum ...

If you focus on the center of the 'Spermum bud it will switch back and forth between caved in and protruding. Don't ask.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Over the Past Fifteen Years ...

I brought a tour to it's end while going through Aix en Provence to buy this carnivale mask ! Lynette, Kelly, and Tirey: Thank you for your forgiveness !

My new blogging friend, Karen, at huge faith in me, so here goes ... I totally zoned on the invitation earlier this week from Suz at So this is for you both and thanks girls, this is a fabulous opportunity to reflect.

I haven't seen you in fifteen years. These are the the things that I need to catch you up on:

1. Ron and I had been married 13 years in 1993 and I was 37. Let me save you the math ... I am 52. We had finally finished renovating our 1930's house in West University, a prosperous Yuppie city within the city of Houston. We were living a very nice life as both of us were still working in the oil business and making a ton of money. I invested in the Sportswear, Shoe, Handbag, and Jewelry Markets.

2. I worked my way up in the oil industry from receptionist to Assistant to the President of Glickenhaus Energy, an independent oil and gas exploration company backed by Seth Glickenhaus, a famous Wall Street tycoon who is almost 100 years old and still goes to work every day. We founded a "spin off" company called Cresent Petroleum, to re-enter wells drilled by Texaco in the 1950's in Chocop Field, Peten, Guatemala. We had an office in Guatemela City which was managed by an old friend of Ron's, Juan Maldanado, or fondly referred to as "One Mile an Hour". I was able to travel there a few times and climb the Mayan ruins ... an incredible experience I will never forget. Coming down was the bomb! We stayed at a lodge deep in the jungle and the electricity went off at night. I don't even want to know the names of the animals that bounced off the roof while we tried to sleep. On a somber note, we hired an ex (?) CIA agent to manage the operation in the field. Upon returning from Chocop to G City one bleak day, his plane ran out of fuel and crashed in the mountains. Monte Overacre and two other employees were killed. If you google his name you will find a very interesting article from Mother Earth magazine. I was interviewed for the article but asked to remain anonymous. I'm not so sure that Monte was not still with the CIA and that this was a U.S. covert operation to monitor Guatemala's drug trade. What experienced pilot runs out of fuel ?

3. I studied art, photography, and portrait photography at the Glassell School of Art in Houston under Sally Gall and Rob Zeibel. But prior to taking photos, developing and printing them, I was fortunate enough to be forced to study many semesters of the prerequisites: Visual Fundamentals, Art History, and the History of Photography. I have treasured these art basics over the years and I am grateful that I fit this very important learning into my busy Houston life. My first 35 mm camera was a Yashica that I bought when I was 18. I have always taken tons of photos. My greatest love is portrait photography.

4. I became Muzz, Ron's family's name for Grandmother, to my step daughter's three awesome grand daughters, Anna, Emily and Meghan. They live in Nashville. When Ron was a child he could not pronounce Grand Mother so he said Grand "Muzzer", which became Muzz. My step son and his wife adopted two beautiful children from Russia, Ian and Liliya. They live in Houston. Being a Muzz is a cool feeling. Oh my God this is four already ... hmmm.

5. I went back to school at the University of Houston as an adult. After graduating from High School I immediately went to work in the oil industry ... a great move on my part. Prior to acceptance at U of H, I had to take about a million semesters of math in order to take College Algebra.

"In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra." -Fran Lebowitz

Thank you, Fran.

6. I started my Quick Books accounting business to have something to do to bring in some money, yet maintain my freedom for courses. Today I am retired other than my one client, my friend, Mark Green, at in Houston. We are totally automated, paperless for the most part, and it's the best job I have ever had in my life. I travel to Houston every few months or so to maintain the position and spend time with family and friends.

7. I became addicted to English Composition while at U of H and took all of the writing courses I could. I wrote many papers about my life and things going on around me. I often threaten that one day I will pull those papers out and publicize them. They are fun, sooooo me, as in absolutely nuts, and they will make me famous, I assure you.

8. My father, an alcoholic, passed away from a heart attack 8 years ago. He and my mother were separated at the time, after 44 years of marriage. When you ask her about it today she will tell you, "I was a slow learner". Bless her heart, she has made up for it and then some, by living life to the fullest and having the most fun she can have. She hunts and fishes with my brother, Randy, who lives in Pierre, SD, and is a guide. Randy owns a bar there called Whiskey River Outpost. Dad and I were in the midst of a stand off at the time he died ... a stand off that started with an argument over a pressure cooker.

9. Ron and I traveled to Europe two years years ago this month with my best girl friend, Kelly, our best gay friends, Jim and Tirey, and the choir of their church, Bering United Methodist of Houston. The choir had scheduled appearances through Italy and France and our first stop was the Italian Riviera's Cinque Terre. Not too shabby! We then traveled to Provence and the French Riviera. One of my goals this year is to put my photos on Flickr.

10. My baby sister, Wendy, died suddenly from an aneurysm two years ago next month at 46. A life defining event, it has taken all of the strength, faith, and courage I can muster up to get through this loss on a daily basis. We were so close. There is a huge piece of me missing today, yet a huge piece of me has been found. Her death prompted our move last year to 3.5 acres outside of my home town, Watertown, SD. Ron and I wanted to retire but did not have a plan. I felt a deep need to be near Wendy's daughter, Catherine. We had a cabin here on Lake Kampeska for 10 years and he always loved it. Prior to moving here I only missed two summers here in the 37 years that I lived in Houston. Catherine and her husband live a mile from us and my Mom lives in town. It's family first here ... I have 30 plus cousins within a 10 mile radius and they are awesome! We are living a life that is totally different from what we have been doing all these years. Every day is an adventure and other than Wendy not being here in the physical sense to enjoy it along with us, everything is perfect.

I tag Jilly, Karen, Jo, Eric and Pod

Saturday, June 21, 2008

HollyGoLightly Hock ...

This is the hollyhock I planted in my garden. I'm sure I have mentioned before what an absolute kick it is to be gardening in Zone 3 for the first time in my life. I pulled the botanical drawing from Wickipedia. Look how the leaves match exactly.

Yesterday I went garage sale hopping with Mom and Catherine. I bought a milk can for $5 that might have something to do with the base of our mailbox which needs replacing. I also bought a mosquito frying bug light for $2.50 and a pair of JCrew black flip flops that have never been worn for 50 cents. Ruby stole last year's pair and only one has surfaced. And those rubber gardening gloves ... she loves those too.

As we speak, Cat and Jessie are putting in the bathroom and closet floors downstairs. He gave us the "Family Discount". Like I said, I love my life.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Perfectly Pink Paeon and His Pupil ...

The peony is named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine and healing. Asclepius became extremely jealous of his pupil, Zeus, who saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into a peony. Talk about your juicy Luv God Triangle! Thank you Wickipedia!

I saw the first peonies today, while on my way around Lake Kampeska to the nursery, for an extra 2 or 7 bags of mulch. The scent was fabulous. I'm looking for my favorites, the dark maroon; although, the yellow centered one is pretty incredible! I have all three in my garden, as well as the white.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

He Loves Me ...

A painted daisy bush in my garden. The photo really doesn't do it justice. It's on the verge of being neon and I haven't boosted the color at all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Out of Africa ...

I had been working outside since about 9 this morning. When I came in at 3, Out of Africa was just starting. I was able to listen to it while I got a few things done, then watched the last hour. What a fabulous movie. The costumes are unbelievable and I think I may need to hit EBay for the soundtrack. Ron is mowing ... I love my life.

Last of the Lilacs ...

It's been a fabulous year for the lilacs. We have 21 bushes that line our driveway. They are still fairly small but in n a few years they will be stunning. It's nice to think of how beautiful it is here, and the fact that it's just getting better and better. There is lots to accomplish both inside and out. A true work in progress.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'll Have the Egg Salad on Wheat ...

"And bring me another one of those 10 mg Valium ...Thanks".
This is Mom after her angiogram this afternoon. She's fine and has no blockage. But her blood is going the wrong direction in her pulmonary artery. Very rare.
And she told me where her cash was hidden before she went into the O.R.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For TGI Sky Watch Friday ...

This is the view from the front of our house, looking east, at about 9:20 pm tonight. The sun was setting behind the house and had a strip of clouds running through the middle of it as well as through it's bottom. I love the way it lit just the tops of the trees and sky.

We're Not in Therapy Right Now ...

we are in real life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hershey's Kissable ...

This is the first of the irises that I transplanted last spring from my cousin, Marlis's, garden to mine. It belonged to my Grandmother, Marie Van Sickle, and was moved along with lots of others, from her garden to Marlis's after she passed away. I moved lots of day lilies as well and it's a great feeling to have things here that at one time belonged to her.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Honorable Mention ...

This is Etta Tarbell, from the Mount Hope tour on Saturday. She was the first white woman to homestead Watertown, along with her husband in 1878. She was a mere 20 years old, a newlywed, and became good friends with the Native Americans. She said they would gather at the back door of the drug store she and her husband owned, and that they helped each other tremendously. Mr. and Mrs. Tarbell first built their store at the lake as that was where the town was supposed to be. But the railroad ended up stopping where the town is now, about 5 miles east of there. The store was taken apart and hauled in with a team of oxen, where they relocated on Kemp Avenue. There is a marker today at City Park on Lake Kampeska where Mr. and Mrs. Tarbell first built.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Horse Drawn Hearse ...

We did something historically interesting yesterday ... The Mellette Foundation hosted walking tours of Mount Hope Cemetery where most of our founding citizens are buried. At their graves were actors dressed from that place in time, and they spoke of themselves and the city. Watertown was a booming place back then, as it is now too. Eastern South Dakota consisted of the most prolific farming country ever developed in America. Trains left here daily, pulling railroad cars loaded with corn, wheat, barley, oats and hops. They then headed for all around the US, and eventually most places around the world.

Watertown's firt hearse was on display. It carried the coffin of Governor Mellette, the last Governor of Dakota Territory and the first Governor of South Dakota. It also carried my abusive childhood dentist, Dr. Wiles. What a jerk!

I took this photo without realizing the headstones were even in the background. That's why I like it. I wasn't trying to do a number on you, or myself. One of the horses that pulled it is also buried at Mount Hope. He has a horse head headstone.

My sister, Wendy, who passed away suddenly two years ago, is buried there as well. It was great to do something fun regarding Mount Hope. My regular visits there are usually with a heavy heart, but yesterday was very different.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Double Bubble Trouble ...

These are two of my five Grand Babies, Liliya and Ian, who were both adopted in Russia by my step son Brad and his wife Ann. Aren't they adorable, and aren't we a family who has been blessed ? Photo by Brad : )

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Half a Million Ransom in my Blood Line ...

"I just want people to know my history" ! quips Ruby Thursday from her porch on Wednesday.

I used to work for a man in Houston named Grant who owned a beautiful German Shepherd named Sammy. Sammy was given to Grant by Tina, his ex girlfriend, when they parted ways. A few years down the road Grant was diagnosed with cancer and T moved he and Sammy into her home. It was then that I began working for Grant, managing his interests in the oil business as well as his insurance matters.

The day Grant was released from MD Anderson after having a tumor removed from his brain, he and T flew to Las Vegas to be married. He named her as his beneficiary of an investment account that had $500,000 in it. Things did not go so well between them or with Grant's health and he took T off of the account. The night before he was to leave Houston for Boca Raton, Florida to be near his family and live out the remaining months of his life, T kidnapped Sammy. The ransom was the half a million dollars in the Aegis account. I did not know where Sammy was hidden but in tears I begged T to return her to Grant. She would not, and Grant told her she could keep the F ing dog because he wasn't giving her the $500,000. Grant left town the next morning with his son, and headed to Florida.

Two weeks later, during the night, our phone rang and it was T. She had had quite a few cocktails and said I could come get Sammy. And so I did. The next morning Sammy and I left on a road trip for Boca Raton. I shared my Subway tuna sandwich with her and our friendship was sealed. We spent the night in Tallahassee with Ron's sister, Karen, and arrived at Grant's the next day.

Grant lived another 9 months, with Sammy at his side when he passed away. Two days later Sammy flew back to Houston on Continental Airlines. Grant wanted us to have her when he died. Ron and I were at Freight Claim when her kennel came down the shoot. Around her neck was a bright purple bandana decorated with little white dog bones. We left the airport wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, but it all worked out. Our cats, Cubbie and Lucy, lived in the laundry room for several months, but eventually got over it.

We had Sammy for about 5 years before she came down with an illness and we had to put her to sleep. It was a Thursday and that's why Ruby is Ruby Thursday and not Ruby Tuesday. I cried all the way to Montrose Veterinary Clinic that I would NEVER have a dog again, that I would NEVER let myself get that close to an animal again, that I would NEVER put myself through that again. Saturday morning I woke Ron up at 7:00. I remember the house feeling soooooo empty without her. I asked Ron if we could go to the Kennel, Heidelberg, in Spring, Texas where Sammy was from. He wanted to know if I was crazy. I said yes, we got dressed, and headed north.

We picked out two 4 month old puppies that we liked the best, but one of them was really growing on us. She behaved as if she was already ours, and of course she was. As it turned out, her father was Sammy's nephew. And that is the story of the $500,000 in Ruby's blood line!

I should mention that not too long ago T was accused of tampering with evidence in her ex brother in law's murder trial. The charges were dropped, but her sister is now serving a life term after having been found guilty of the murder. Apparently P dressed up like T and traveled to his home state, hid behind a tree and ambushed him when he came out to get his morning paper. T supposedly went to P's house and got the gun and the wig and hid them. During the trial, P said some things that indicated T may have been the guilty one. I don't think anyone is really sure ... and don't I lead a life full of interesting characters ?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Newest Boyfriend ...

Red is for smokin' hot. It's Nicole Kidman's husband, Keith Urban. I took this pic off of his new greatest hits cd. I think I'm in love ... but I would shave him before I let him go. Hmmm ... maybe not.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Maple Tree ...

adores coming to life after the long, cold winter. I like the bark as much as I like the leaves. After a year here I am amazed at how quickly things grow once the temperatures warm. It's a good day and I love my life. I am happy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008