Saturday, July 20, 2013

Michelle Mail

When I least expect it, (link) Michelle arrives in our mailbox, always bringing warm smiles.
How gorgeous is her photography, after just one year of classes?!
Needless to say, this shall be framed and then displayed in a most prominent spot.

Her health has been challenged, once again. She needs our hope and prayers.
 G-d, I love that girl. Everyone else does, too.
Please join Team Michelle.

Friday, July 19, 2013


The kids had planned to return to camp, today, but the morning air was even more stifling than that of the past few days.
So, Camp Soll was in full swing, once again.
They worked hard on the old bulletin board that shall be rehung in the newly remodeled playroom. I'm especially pleased with this, as my only input was to provide supplies. They planned and executed without supervision, to produce a real keeper.

They love to mix a few primary colors to make gorgeous shades of this and that. Gavin named one of the above "Sandy Beach".
Pretty clever. Can you guess which one it is?
 The three kids were very entertaining, with antics that included the big-island raft. That thing has paid for itself several times over.
When Brian arrived at pick-up time, Gavin told him that he'd "hit the jackpot" of worms, to take to their campsite for some serious fishing. 

It's nearly 8:00 p.m. and outdoor temps have only dropped to a still-hot 84 degrees.
Just color us tropical!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pool Break - Art Time

It's almost two years since we shuffled off to Buffalo to spend an amazing weekend with our Tee-cousins. Joe had gathered souvenir slate from the shores of Lake Erie, to bring home for my art projects with the GrandLoves. Well, it certainly took long enough to whip out the oil paints and get to it. Yes, I said, "...oil paints..."!! We'd always stuck to wash-away water or acrylic paints, but this endeavor called for permanent colors. Whew. That was tricky. I digress...

After hosing and drying the stone, Gav chose to do a drawing of Angry Bird. Aubs opted for a rainbow. I'm sure Hunter and Chloe will make unique choices of their own, when the opportunity arises. Meanwhile, how brightly does my garden grow.

As Birthdays Go

Yesterday morning, I awakened to the promise of a hot and steamy July day, just what I'd asked for to celebrate turning... ahem... well, you know! The morning temp when I hit the great outdoors at 6:30 a.m. was the exact number of my new age. Of course, that temperature reached 90, before the day was through. Years truly do fly by, but thankfully not at that warp speed!

Joe took the day off, as he always does when my day falls midweek. Really. What do you do with a Tuesday?
Well, a few surprises fell into place.

Deeply grateful for the fact that I still have Joe after our scary episode this past winter, I tapped into that gratitude even further during the morning cruise he executed. Yep, communing with Nature on Wanaksink Lake can only cement one's appreciation for life's blessings. No ocean liner here. Just a little kayak to transport us to an inner peace that is sometimes lost in the worldly shuffle.

A poolside lunch and cooling swim set the afternoon in motion. Bri came by with the kids and Kell joined us later on, for some wet and noisy fun that lasted till almost dark. Time truly does fly when you're havin' fun, so we arranged for a sleepover and two days off from camp. They'll be here momentarily, so with no further adieu, I just want to extend my loving thanks to all who celebrated
July 16th with me...

Included with no less gratitude are friends and family members for loving phone calls and cards, as well as my virtual pals across the pond, who always seem to remember.

I am touched.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inside Looking Out - Our Spotty View

It's 8:30 p.m. real time and nearly dark. But look who came by just moments ago for a little snack, affording me an awesome photo op. Joe and Mambo watched the show, as well. Which of us is the most curious?
We wonder.
 Were it not for the picture window separating us, we could have reached out to pat them. 

The Blues

It has been decades since we've had blueberries growing in the yard. Actually, they once occupied the woodsy trail between our house and another, where the boys' friend lived, at the time. Brian, Christian and Tommy were very young, when there were enough berries to fetch for morning muffins or pancakes... or for a snack, after they'd finished working on The Fort.
Then, the berry bushes simply disappeared.
Jump ahead "a few" seasons. Tommy is 42, Brian soon turns 43 and Christian's almost 40. Surprise, surprise!!
The blues have propagated themselves alongside our driveway. No need to wander in search of them. Thing is, we're wonderin' if the black bear y'all met last weekend will harvest them, before we do?? And though the fort is long gone, maybe the boys would like to come for berries 'n' breakfast?

Great memories are made of this.


Years ago, I'd read that simple garden moss, another gift from Mother Nature, has monetary value. Florists use it to line plant 
baskets. It is occasionally scarce and salable, but not this year. Rainwater encourages its self-propagation and growth. This morning, it caught my eye in a front (cultivated??) bed. So pretty. A little Photoshoppin' allowed me to incorporate the gorgeous day lily, just one of today's many blooms. Sheer perfection in a simple flower and garden green.

Gotta love summertime.

Elusive Old Sol

Summer has always been too short, for my liking. But a few weeks ago, it seems to have gotten even shorter - psychologically, anyway. You see, I was organizing photos of the GrandLoves, when something occurred to me. The year begins and ends with winter. It surrounds spring, summer and fall with its chill. Pictures taken now simply need mention of the year, to date them. But wintertime photos? They need month and year identification, especially in the fast-growing world of children. Does this make sense? Ah, yet another way to calculate the brevity of the season. Then, factor in this year's particular stretch...

We're headed into another heatwave, which is actually just fine by me. Thing is, it's due to arrive with yet more rain. Not normal rain, mind you, but rather torrential downpours, thunder, lightening and high winds. Ugh. I detest being Vitamin D deprived. 
Not fine. But our begonias are lovin' shades of gray.
I did manage to catch catch Old Sol, this morning. Yes, I did. At 5:45 a.m. Trust me, he was there. Behind the trees. Peeking out.
Thing is, he seems to have disappeared again, half an hour later. 
But there's hope...
This is Real Time. Color Me Sunny, please!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hot Off The Hook

This one is to fill with all things pink for beautiful Baby Grace, born on June 24th.
Congratulations, Yvonne and Todd! We are so very happy for you.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy 40th, Kelly!

Aubs and Gav got in on the action, helping to execute what turned out to be their Momma Kelly's favorite part of our gift to her. It was tough to keep the canvas under wraps, literally, while we waited to extend wishes for the happiest of days and years. 

All the good wishes come with lots of hugs 'n' lovin', as conveyed by our GrandLoves. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Adobe How-To

My Fourth Flower Flag has prompted a few how-to questions. Here's the deal:

First step was to take individual pictures of star and blooms. In Adobe Photoshop Elements, an inexpensive program, I then did some selecting and copying to isolate the parts of each photo necessary. Each was repeatedly pasted onto a "new" page and the star changed in color. Sizing and aligning everything was a breeze, as was filling the background to unify the end result. With text added, my project was done. Really. It's simple, but success does take practice and familiarity with the options available. But hey, there's nothing to lose - not even a sheet of paper. 
Go play. That's my best advice. Photoshop is one of my favorite toys. :-)

Birds Of A Feather

Upon our return from Pittsburgh, we noticed the still-full hummer feeders and obvious lack of traffic. Nary a bird. Sure enough, all the wells were contaminated by huge ants of the disgusting black variety. Never a problem in previous years, we attribute the excessive population to the ongoing monsoon season we've experienced. Whatever. Down they came, to be purified in a healthy solution of bleach. I told Joe, "That's it! Let's put them away for the season and let the little guys feed from flowers."
But he was crushed and missing the sideshow on the patio. 

Gran in portrait on wall, as well as 
on right in photo with her sister, Mamie

In a lightbulb moment, I remembered the stand that came with the very same "Gran's bowl" often featured on CMI. Joe was skeptical, as I proceeded to rig the new station. I'd already consulted a virtual acquaintance who maintains a very interesting wildlife blog. One of her suggestions was to spray Pam on supporting shepherd's hooks stands. I did just that, creating a slippery ascent to sugar-water.

 Nothing last evening. But early this morning, I noticed a hummer... then two... then several. 
I fetched NIK, returning to find our resident catbird perched on the nearby bench.
"No," thought I, "there's nothing here for you-of-different-feathers."
But I'd forgotten about the birdbath. Cat, our very first customer, winged his way to a long drink.
Double happiness for Joe, who had added the pretty bath to our garden.
A peaceful way to start any day, wouldn't you agree?
Color Me
A GrandLove Connection
Birds of a Feather

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pittsburgh Part Four - Home, Sweet Home

We hit the road very early yesterday morning and breezed home. Well, that is if you can call seven hours of driving "a breeze". Be that as it may, we had lots to talk about, as we reminisced about the love-fest we'd just enjoyed.

Pennsylvania looks something like the above picture for hundreds and hundreds of miles. We learned of the Wilds, by Googling as we drove through the area. Talk about the green, green grass of homeWowAll the rain we've experienced of late has turned forests into tropical lushness, clearly meant for the poet's eye.

As we pulled into our driveway, we spotted the Flower Tower through trees separating the back and front yards. We headed straight for it, astounded to see that in just a few days, it had finally really taken off. 
Moments later, Joe excitedly called me to see a bear in the neighbor's yard. Separated by our fence, we watched him go from woods to food scraps three or four times. We're not thrilled that they entice wild animals so close to our home, but I must say it was intriguing to watch Blackie steal a bagel, run back to the tree-line, sit to munch and then repeat the process several times more, before heading back into the woods.

Pittsburgh Part Three - A Great Moment for The Trerotola Girls

The Trerotola Girls, as Khrista so confidently, comically and affectionately referred to herself and her sisters, are so unique from each other. At the core, though, each has a heart of gold and the ability to express love. And so, Khrista toasted her sister and cemented that core. At the same time, she paved the way for Maddy's confirmation of similar thoughts and a warm, sisterly welcome to Ryan.
Great stuff! Clearly a happy highlight.

Love Grows.

Pittsburgh Part Two - The Event

Ah, the emotions of the day were simply beautiful, from deep and thoughtful to indescribably joyful. I loved this moment, captured as Nicole took Dale's arm for their long stroll down the aisle of the exquisite cathedral.
Even fun-loving sisters, Khrista and Maddy, looked to be contemplative, as the ceremonious part of the wedding began. Not a soul was neglected. We loved seeing our Cape Cod pals, Adelina and Garreth, out of beach attire and jazzed up for their special roles as junior bridesmaid and ring bearer. Sweet Nicole even included Mom, along with her beloved grandparents, in a reading for those no longer with us. Their presence suddenly became nearly tangible. Thank you so much, Nic; Joe and I were so very touched. 

Contemplation quickly turned into excitement for the bride and groom and their new beginning. Smiles erupted. Just look at happy Bonnie and whimsical Dale, as they paved the way for the newlyweds.
This photo seems to depict a radiant Nicole and determined Ryan.
Then, it was time to party at the most gorgeous reception. And how sweet it was! Guests were treated like royalty, as every little long-planned detail came to fruition. We were invited to fill souvenir bags from the long, elegant candy table, an exceptionally popular attraction that seemed to be saying, "Let the sweetness of life linger."
A visit to our table resulted in a permanent glow.
That Kiss