Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Raining kittens and puppies

It’s raining like we're somewhere other than Utah.  

Although the mountains get a lot of snow, here in the Salt Lake Valley we average about 16 inches of precipitation a year. In Ohio, where I grew up, and in Oregon where Jim lived for about 30 years, if you plan an outdoor summer event a "Plan B" location is a must, because it just might rain.  

Here you rarely need a Plan B. When it does rain, however, it seems to come down in torrents, causing mini flash floods along street gutters.

Yesterday it started raining hard, then tapered off to a soft rain most of the evening.  Last night it rained softly and it's been raining off and on all day.  More rain is predicted for next week.

Soft, warm rain.  Unusual and kind of nice.
Rain clouds coming over and next to the Wasatch Mountains' Mt. Olympus, as seen from our front yard in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pie and Beer Day

Last night we got back to Salt Lake City, where we have a house. For the last three weeks I've been visiting my Mom in Ohio; I also went to my high school reunion and got to see my son who lives near Cleveland.  While I was in Ohio, Jim took a two-week trip to Oregon and Washington in the motor home (First ever solo trip! Although when you've got the dog, you're never alone) then flew to Ohio and we spent a week there together

As we were waiting for our connecting flight from Denver yesterday, our son-in-law texted this photo of our car’s outdoor temperature reading with the message “Welcome Home.” 

If you can't read that, it says "104F." When the plane landed at 8:30 it had cooled off to 102.  Like they say, it’s a dry heat.

Today we are celebrating “Pioneer Day," a state holiday commemorating the arrival of the Mormon pioneers.  As the story goes, on July 24, 1847, Mormon leader Brigham Young (who was ill with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) peeked out of the wagon in which he was riding, got a glimpse of the Salt Lake Valley, and said something along the lines of ‘This is the place.”   

A few years ago I first heard someone jokingly call the celebration “Pie and Beer Day."

Apparently the sloppy enunciation caught on, and along with the official Pioneer Day parade, fireworks, 10K et al, there are several Pie and Beer Day celebrations. The simply named “Beer Bar" -- which is exactly what its name says and is partially owned by the Modern Family Actor Ty Burrell -- is having one, and daughter Ashley took me and the kids to a different Pie and Beer Day party this evening. Ours had key lime pie, blueberry pie, cherry pie, pizza pie, and a variety of home made beer including root beer.

If your relatives didn't push a hand cart across the plains and up and down the mountains, then celebrate Pie and Beer Day.  It's the festivus for the rest of us.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I love a parade (and a reunion)

Yesterday Jim and I went to my 45th high school reunion of the Wellington, Ohio, High School class of 1969.

Jim, who went to high school in Yakima, Washington, was a good sport about meeting and talking with a bunch of folks he didn't know. Everyone was warm and welcoming; it was good get together.

Today we went to the Wellington Cheese Festival. Click here to read a post I did last year about the festival, which celebrates Wellington's one-time position as the nation's largest cheese producer. This year we also got to watch the parade.  Main event:  20 pieces of farm equipment courtesy of Wellington Implement Company, which is celebrating its 85th year in business.
Twenty-seven of the 100+ people I graduated with attended our reunion.  Photo courtesy of Mickey (top row, third from left) whose spouse must have taken the pic. Mickey and his committee did a good job of planning the event, which was held at the Wellington Reservation, a local county park. I'm in the front row, second from the left.
Turns out that using a "water color" setting on my camera (like I discussed in my last post) is not a good idea with a large group.  My former classmates and I all look like cartoon characters. Note to self:  use the water color setting only for close ups of individuals and scenery.
A Case tractor leads Wellington Implement equipment in today's Wellington Cheese Festival parade.  Wellington Implement sells tractors, combines and other big machines plus smaller equipment like riding mowers. 
The local 4-H band makes an appearance at the parade.
No cheese festival parade is complete without cheese heads on horse back...
...and you also apparently need a mini guy driving a mini John Deere.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Water Colors

After I apparently left my point-and-shoot on an airplane plane in March, I started looking for a replacement camera.  I wanted a light-weight one with a strong zoom lens I could use while Jim and I kayak.  

I did some research and purchased a Sony Cybershot DX HX50V.  It's a little heavier than my old point-and-shoot, but its 30X zoom is great. My Mom's neighbors (here in Wellington, Ohio, where I'm visiting) have mules, and I took a photo of the mules that looks like I was ten feet a way. In reality, the neighbors live about an eighth of a mile away.  Mom said I should share the photo with the neighbors, but I was concerned doing so would also announce "Hey, I can take close ups of everything at your place!" (Neighbors: I was just practicing and won't aim my lens at you again. PS: Your mules are darn cute.)

At the moment I'm experimenting with camera settings I didn't realize were on my Cybershot when bought it.  These settings make photos look like oil paintings, water colors, illustrations, and more. I'm getting rather addicted to the water color setting. Some examples are below. 
This photo of me and my Wellington, Ohio, high school friend Sally is one of the first photos I took with my water color setting.  We're having our 45th year high school reunion tomorrow; when I posted this photo on Facebook some of my class mates said "Bring your camera to the reunion -- we'll look  like the youngest 45th year group ever."  It does smooth out the lines. (Sally looks this good with or without the water color effect.)
Son Paul (who lives in Lakewood, Ohio) and me.
View from Mom's back yard.  Ohio has beautiful clouds.
Another shot taken from Mom's back yard.
Visitors Center at the Wellington Reservation, which is part of the Lorain County, Ohio, Metro Parks System and where my high school class will hold its 45th reunion.
Another shot at the Wellington Reservation.
Two mourning doves in Mom's lilac bush.
Baskets of hanging petunias on the town square in Wellington, Ohio, where Mom lives and where I grew up.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Japanese beetle is the new thistle

Last summer when I visited my Mom in Wellington, Ohio, I pulled about 1,500 thistles from her yard.  This year the thistle population is down -- having more to do with a springtime "weed and feed" application than my attempt at thistle dismissal, I imagine -- but her property is infested with Japanese Beetles. Hundreds of of them. Maybe thousands.
Mom tells me since she moved to the farm in 1945 she has never seen this particular bug. I've never seen a Japanese Beetle before, either (they haven't made it west of the Mississippi so we don't  have them in Utah -- yet) and at first couldn't identify the clumsy pests whizzing around my head, flying into the side of the house, and then seeming to almost accidentally land on plants. I thought "Gee, these bugs are actually kind of pretty," as they have iridescent copper bodies and green heads.  But good thoughts quickly evaporated when I realized how voraciously they were chowing down on Mom’s plants.  The larvae live in lawns and eat the roots of grass, so they kill lawns, too. 
After some research I put up two pheromone-baited traps; some claim pheromone traps make the problem worse by attracting even more insects, but we thought we'd give them a try.  I’ve also been hand picking bugs and sprayed the rose and some low-hanging tree leaves with an insecticide. I hate insecticides and have never used them on my own plants, but the bugs are so thick I felt compelled to make a careful application.

My Ohio brother and sister-in-law tell me the best way to knock these pests in the head is to treat the lawn with milky spore, which will kill the larvae -- but that can't be done until next spring.

In the meantime, I’m catching beetles. I’d rather pull thistles.
Damage to my Mom's ornamental plum tree after just three days of beetle chomping. The miniature lilac bush to the immediate right is completely unscathed as Japanese beetles only eat certain plants.
A threesome (in more than one sense of the word, it appears) of Japanese beetles on my Mom's linden tree. So far they are eating the leaves of her ornamental purple plums, a rose bush, and this linden.  Supposedly the beetles like hibiscus too,  but we're hoping they don't touch Mom's beautiful Kopper King.