Friday, August 26, 2016

Grateful to the Wizard

It has taken two weeks, but life is looking a little rosier for me, thanks to a little help from my friends.  

Now, really, life hasn't been THAT bad, but losing more than 300 photos taken during a once-in-a-lifetime family-oriented experience can be painful. 

I was surprisingly calm that night in the hotel after an extended Irish wake, which included an afternoon on Lake Michigan with a yachtful of cousins and their families and a lovely dinner afterward. 

What could I do?

Scream.  Cuss.  Jump out the seventh-story window directly across from the rather tall John Hancock building with my camera and laptop.

Chicago had enough sirens screaming through its downtown streets throughout our stay.  I didn't need to cause any more to go off in the night. 

So, I just sat there dazed, quietly contemplating how awful this really was. Then, I managed to say quietly (for me) to Bill, "I just lost 350 photos . . . they are gone." 

Low, low moment, as I may have mentioned a time or two. 

The next morning after confessing to the cousins what I'd done, another cousin told me she had lost her camera.  I think she may have eventually found it.  Earlier this week, yet another reported that she had just deleted EVERY SINGLE PICTURE and VIDEO on her cell phone.  

Her dad asked later if she had looked in the "cloud."  I'm not sure if she found them, but I do know she hasn't jumped out of any windows where she works in downtown Chicago.  I know this because she is still posting on Facebook. 

Okay, what to do.  What to do. I reported in an earlier post that my first tactic was to contact my friend and former student and photographer extraordinaire Chris Pietsch from Oregon who follows the Ducks wherever they go with his cameras and video equipment. 

As an aside, I must mention that Chris took his daughter to Georgia this week where she'll be doing her sophomore year of college.  She's no longer an Oregon/Idaho Pietsch.  Now, she's a Georgia PEACH.  

I thought that was clever, so if you don't chuckle, that's okay.

Anyway, Chris got me started on the road to emotional and mental AND physical photographic recovery.

He told me about a program to download.  After purchasing it, as reported before, I reCOVERED 25 photos from that very special day. 

That tiny victory gave me the strength to march on.  

If I can get 25 photos of those 350 back, surely there's a brilliant geek aka wizard somewhere who can provide me an added bonus.

Well, folks, turns out my first inclination was on the mark.  

In past postings, I've called Joel Whitaker, owner of Laser Image, Inc. in Sandpoint, a wizard before because he works on my computer equipment AND he built the computer I'm using to write this post. 

Not that it enhanced Joel's brilliance with all things puzzling and geeky, but he also grew up in the outskirts of Chicago. 

Well, Joel kept at it for the past several days while I keep reminding St. Anthony that he could come around and maybe come around again several times. 

Joel worked his magic, sending me a note the day before yesterday with bad news first---he needed a bigger thumb drive for my photos cuz they went over a big and then the good news, "I've got hundreds of photos for you."

I decided to remain calm and a bit cautious before jumping seven stories into the air into a hotel room.  After all, we don't have any buildings here seven stories high, but we do have Schweitzer.

Maybe I could jump that high with absolute glee when I saw those images first hand.

Well, I have, and after a few little bumps along the way (my photo program does not work for them and a few dozen were "corrupted aka ruined," but I have photos.

And, I've been posting them to the Aspell family group page, and people are happy and I'm beyond ecstatic. 

The jumping for joy as high as Schweitzer will have to wait, but for now, my mental and emotional health near full recovery----just like those photos.

So, I posted a few today, just cuz I can.  Thank God.  The day spent with my own family along with our extended family in a beautiful setting for a beautiful reason will now have a few more visual reminders of all those very special moments. 

And, for anyone local, if you see Joel, patronize Laser Image, Inc., and tell him a very grateful Marianne sent you.  

He's something else.  

Happy Friday. 

Bill Short is one of just two of my mother's first cousins still living.  At 91, he's still a phenomenal storyteller and a wonderful man. 

Cousin Rich, on the left, is the first of the second cousins I met back in the early '90s when Mother reconnected with her long lost family from Chicago.  He's visiting with Dave, a brother-in-law to another cousin and an avid polo player from Chicago. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ruff Ruff Ruff! Meeeeoowww! Yay Yay Yay !!

I attended my first Panhandle Animal Shelter benefit luncheon yesterday.  I'm hoping it won't be my last. 

The event--set in a stunning location on the Pend Oreille shore just west of the Long Bridge---featured a potpourri of familiar faces, creative table displays, live music, fun items for auction, great food, and oodles of fun, packed into three quick hours. 

Hodge Podge at the Lodge, they called it, and what a gala it turned out to be!  

A friend named Kelli invited me an my daughter-in-law Debbie to join her table group. Each table had a theme, and, in each case, the decorations were exquisite.

Besides all the festive moments spent visiting with each other, we also heard poignant stories of people and their beloved pets, reminding us of the very reason we were there.  

Panhandle Animal Shelter, according to executive director Mandy Evans, has taken on a new approach to situations where owners run into problems providing care for their dogs or cats. 

No shaming, she says.  

People often run into obstacles in their lives, and sometimes it's best for those pets to be re-homed.  Empathy in these situations is vital and much more powerful than shame.

The shelter has seen a positive difference, thanks to this philosophy.  Panhandle Animal Shelter also frequently receives high marks for its approach and its facility from outside experts.  

Mandy also showered great praise for the team of volunteers, board members  and donors who keep the shelter running and maintaining high standards.

Yesterday's lively live auction, along with a silent auction, and even a brief interlude for out-and-out donating generated thousands of dollars for the Panhandle Animal Shelter, along with enthusiasm, fun and pride among those in attendance. 

Twas a perfect day, a perfect setting and a perfectly lovely and phenomenal experience---truly the "cat's MEEEOOOWWW!"

Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!  

     On a final note-----to P and C:  go maire sibh an lá! 

54 years! WOW!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flowers and Feline

Let's talk morning glories. This year has been a year for new faces among my usual clumps of flowers.  

The usuals----geranium, pansies, marigolds, various daisies, batchelor buttons, clarkia, echinacea and the rose bushes---have put on some nice displays around the Lovestead this year, but it's been fun to get acquainted with and learn about new species.

My first-ever Butterfly flowers have added some nice touches around the place, and this week, we've seen the first of the morning glories. 

I planted a package of morning glory seeds for the first time ever because I read that it's a good idea to combine morning glories with the mysterious moon flower, which a friend and flower expert gave me this spring.  

The moon flower opens its delicate yellow blossom in the dark and hangs around for a day or so before wilting.

My research suggested that planting morning glories with moon flowers would be a good idea to ensure constant color. 

So, that's what I did-----knowing nothing about morning glories.

Long after I planted them and began to see the seedlings maturing, I was curious to learn when to expect the blossoms.  

In that particular research, I learned that it might have been a good idea to plant this species earlier in the year and, more importantly, to sow the seeds in an area where the vines could extend.

Duh! I had no idea morning glories were vine plants, which explains why I just plopped the seeds in a pot with the moon flower and another pot containing some butterfly flowers.

Well, the vines are extending, and who knows where they'll go around the deck.  I really don't care because I've been thrilled this week to see those first lovely blossoms opening up in the morning and making the day that much more glorious. 

With this knowledge and enjoyment, I'll probably find some more appropriate locations for both the moon flower and their morning glory buddies. 

As mentioned before the learning curve gardening and goofing around with flowers continues to keep us on our toes throughout a lifetime, so this year's morning glory error will be remembered and next year I'll probably screw up with something else. 

For now, I'm loving the excitement of checking the flower spots every single day in hopes of discovering something new and beautiful. 

Which brings to mind.  Can someone tell me the name of the interesting flower in the photo just below Mr. Festus.  

Festus, by the way, loves the flowers as much as I do.  Last night he was out and about while I was on my evening stroll, and the blueberry bushes were providing him much pleasure. 

Back to that flower---experts, please enlighten me.  Those blossoms started showing themselves just a couple of days ago, and I have no idea what they are cuz earlier this season, I just threw seeds wherever there was room and kept no records.

Some people are meticulous about keeping records and about planning their gardens.  Not I.  My funky tendency toward general disorder and never ever really knowing what's gonna come rising out of the dirt makes gardening all the more interesting.  

Guess that's all for this Wednesday.  Enjoy the day and maybe even go smell some flowers

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August Splendor

                                                                                                                    ----Pat West Photo

The splendor of August showed itself in many ways yesterday, including this beautiful shot of Lake Pend Oreille and the river by my friend Pat.  This was taken from his home on Lakeshore Drive.  

Pat is accruing an impressive collection of spectacular sunset shots like these, and just like the phenomenon I experience out here in Selle, no two views of the same glorious scene are ever quite the same.  

That's what makes photography so much fun. 

Over here in Selle farm country, yesterday was the perfect day.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  

That meant considerably more energy than usual from dawn to dusk, along with pure enjoyment of moving from one project to the next. 

A trip to the dump with a couple of bags of dated freezer veggies, etc. provided the opportunity to see turkeys crossing the field on scenic farm just north of our landfill. 

Turkeys are busy crossing in lots of places, I've noticed.  We have a flock oldsters and youngsters that leaves our woods every morning just about chore time, making their way across our hay field to Meserve's and eventually over in to Gary Finney's place. 

Yesterday morning, when I walked out to get the papers, they were having a meeting with three deer right at Meserve's driveway.  I kinda think turkeys and deer have a kinship because this morning, just after watching our turkeys, I spotted a deer racing through the hay field as if to catch up with the "early" birds.

This morning, after seeing our flock, I watched another group cross Taylor's field, coming from Gary Finney's woods.  Twould be nice to know where all those turkeys spend their day before making the pilgrimage back to their overnight quarters. 

Anyway, back to yesterday.  The comfortable weather made it actually fun to work with the shelter in the dog run where I added some support its roof where snow had caused one frame to cave in a couple of years ago. 

Of course, I had help from Liam.  At least, this time the project was totally driven by his "straying" from the "stay-home" rules.

Even my domestic side enjoyed a little action yesterday with apple peeling and a subsequent apple pie, which did not sit long before sampling. 

Today I'll probably grind up a couple of those zucchinis from the garden.  My friend Kathy came by Sunday and ONLY TOOK TWO.  But, in the case of zucchinis, "givers can't be choosers."  We've got to feel damn lucky that we found someone who wanted our extras.

While picking the squash for Kathy's visit Sunday, I discovered underneath those big prickly leaves that several acorn squash are reaching maturity.  

Now, I don't give away those squash.  Love slow baking them in the oven with butter, brown sugar and maybe a little maple syrup.  Definitely yum, yum. 

After yesterday's productive day, which included Bill spending part of the pleasant evening checking out the best way to start on a new stall in our barn,  it looks like another one ahead, beginning with a crisp, fall-like weather.  

My only concern about the cooler temps is that my sweet potatoes may stop maturing. Maybe some extra TLC to keep them warm at night is in order.  

Other than that concern, I'll take this weather any time. 

Happy Tuesday.