Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Using Your Imagination...

Today is an exercise that involves using your imagination! 

Why you may ask?

Well, because I've had an adventure that did not involve a camera.

Incredible, I know, I know!

Yes, I left home the other day without my camera, and I missed out on one of the greatest photo opportunities because of that!

So.... because I don't have any pictures to tell this story with.... you're just going to have to use your imagination!

Shouldn't be difficult at all really... I'll just describe the events of the day, and you are free to fill in the details as you please....

It all started with a trip to town with a bunch of girls. We were just going to town to visit some of the local shops in the downtown area that always seem to beckon us as we hurriedly passed by on our way to do more important things like grocery shop! 

Well, today, we left the grocery shopping to the end of the day and went through some of the shops in the downtown river area and just enjoyed "window shopping."  None of us really had any money to spend, but it was just nice to get out with the girls, and see the sights.

Later, after we had done some window shopping and all the stores were closing, we made our visit over to Walmart to pick up a few necessities before heading back home.

On the way home, the sun was just starting to slide behind the purple-hued mountains, and this was when I began to realize the folly of having left my camera at home.  It seemed like every bend in the road brought a different view of the clouds, the sky, and the sun over the mountains, and it was simply enchanting!  The girls were all getting into the game now.  All of us were agonizing over the lack of the camera. 

Most of the time my family just looks at me with this puzzled wondering look when I begin to take pictures.  My husband thinks that once you've got one picture of a sunset....  that's the only one you'll ever need... but, he patiently puts up with my love affair with the clouds, skies and mountains here in Idaho.  Maybe one day... he'll remind me to bring my camera in case I ever forget it again!

So, this is where your imagination must take over. I'm sorry to report that I have no pictures of the compelling ball of fire that we faced driving home with the slideshow view in front of us that  began showcasing one incredible view after the other with rosy, peach, lavender and frothy pink colored clouds sashaying across the purple mountains with the sun's ball of fire slowly slipping down to the other side of the world.

At one point, I distinctly remember the black hue of the mountains overshadowed by the blazing hot orange colors of the sunset, and it was so unique that all the girls were crying out "Look LOOK LOOOOK!!"

Sadly enough, this event was not even the most distressing part of my camera dilemma. 

We were just about to turn into the driveway to drop the girls off at their home, when I spotted something in the bushes just ahead of the turn.

My heart jumped and sank all at the same time.

It jumped because I realized it was a moose feeding there on the side of the road.

My heart sank.... because.... I didn't have my camera!

I don't believe we have EVER been this close to a moose in all the time we've been here in Idaho.  We were able to just pull off the road, right across from the moose and just sit there with our four-way blinkers on (to warn oncoming traffic) and just watch this magnificent creature eat his way through the weeds in the ditch.

Then, I remembered that I did have a camera with me.  It was my cell phone camera.  Now, I don't have one of those fangle-dangled 'smarter than you' smart phones.  I just have a plain-Jane phone that does basic phone functions like sending and receiving calls. But, it does possess a camera in it, although I've never had much luck taking pictures with it.

You'll see why here in just a minute.

So, I pulled out my camera phone, and tried to get a decent picture of the moose.  But, the moose was too far away even at that close range.  With my plain-Jane phone... I could have been miles away for all the good the camera was able to do.... you could barely see the moose and it looked far off in the distance when in reality it was just across the road.

So I got a really bright idea.  I decided I would try to pull up a little closer to our friend here, and see if I could roll down the passenger window long enough to get a better picture.

Did anyone ever tell you that photography can be dangerous business?

Well, it is.  But, I wasn't scared not in the least.

After all, I was in my van that had already been totaled by an incident with an elk a few months back... and still running strong.. so... I wasn't worried.

I turned the van into the driveway across the road, right next to where the moose was.  I was hoping, really hoping that he would just ignore us, let me get my picture, and let us continue on our merry way.

But.... no.....

Obviously the moose wasn't reading my mind...

As I pulled up next to him, and rolled down the window....

He had had enough.  He had glanced our direction once or twice while we sat on the side of the road and watched him.  But now... he wasn't happy.

He took one look at my camera phone, and off he went.

It was amazing to watch him run off.... his big gangly legs that were somehow quite rhythmic and determined in their efforts to get away from us.

He turned sharply away from us, and ran straight into the backyard of some unsuspecting people, I'm sure.  He didn't waste any time at all disappearing into their backyard. 

And so, I didn't get the picture I wanted either.  I did "snap" a picture, but that's exactly what the picture looks like, a snap and a jiggle.

But, in case your imagination really hasn't gotten into gear, and you just want to see the pictures I tried to take with this plain Jane camera phone... here goes.  

So there you have the sad pictures of our moose sighting. 

And here is the picture that I tried to take while maneuvering a car across a highway, rolling down the window, and trying to take a picture all at the same time... no wonder the moose hightailed it out of there! 

So, I think I've learned my lesson... my camera goes with me and my purse, wherever we go.  It just proves to anyone who wants to hear, that you just never know what lies around the corner here in Idaho...  and it's better to be prepared... than not!! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Has Arrived!

I think I can safely say that spring has finally arrived! We have had a glorious week of absolutely beautiful sunshine!  Most of the snow is gone now from the mountains around here, although there is still a bit of that white stuff hanging on in the really far off mountains.

We went for a hike this past week.  The sun was still trying to come out when we left, so we had dressed in layers, which is always a wise thing to do.  It wasn't long until several layers were coming off, and I really felt like spring had arrived when I was able to do that!  Before, when we were hiking... hat, gloves, scarf... all the winter garb was still part of our attire,because the wind was still quite nippy.  However, on our hike today, all the extra layers came off, and it was nice to feel the sun warming our skin!

 My friend has a lovely backyard that is a squirrel and chipmunk haven.  She has feeders set out for them, and I was able to get a close-up picture of one cute little fellow who sat still long enough for me to snap his picture.

As we started on our hike, we noticed other signs of spring... like ants!

It is kind of hard to tell in this picture, but this is a mound of pine-needle covered dirt that the ants had busily pushed up around the bottom of this tree, and were just swarming it, busily working.  They were wood ants, and we left them alone to continue their hard work.  I know if my son had been along, a stick no doubt would've found its way into their midst just to stir them up. 

We turned a different direction today, heading across this open flat land.  It felt wonderful to be outside today, with the cool spring wind blowing, and the rays of sun warming our faces. 

The dogs were enjoying the sunshine too, it just felt so good to be alive and outside enjoying the day! 

Looking at the mountains in the distance, you can see that the snow is mostly gone, although there is a patch or two of snow hanging on. 

We followed an old trail that took us back into the woods.  The trees and underbrush were all bright shades of green.  Walking through the pine woods, we inhaled deeply of the marvelous scent of the pine trees and underbrush. 

The trail in the woods soon ended, and we began to follow a tree line and a fence line overlooking the valley.

It was time to stop and refresh ourselves with some water.  The dogs were very glad to get a drink too!

As we walked along the tree line, we noticed a whole line of trees that had terrible damage to them.  Evidently a straight line wind sheer had come through, and taken out hundreds of trees.  It couldn't have been too long ago, because the downed trees were still green and leafed out.  We wondered if it happened a week or so ago when the wind storm came through that knocked out our electricity for the night.

Another picture of the damage down to this whole area of trees that was in a line.  Everything in the line was down and damaged, although you can see the one tree that was spared - amazing! 

We continued our walk through the woods, enjoying the sprinkles of sunshine across our path as we walked. 

We came out of the woods into the valley where evidently hundreds of trees had been planted in recent years.  You could still see the white capped mountains in the distance. 

A picture of Hoo Doo mountain.  It is always a landmark for us when we are walking, because at the top of Hoo Doo is a cell phone tower that serves as a landmark. 

We came upon this huge mud puddle, so big, it was more like a little pond!  Cheetah was estatic.  She ran and splashed for several minutes in the puddle.  We stood back out of her way.  She was having so much fun in the water, cooling off. 

I tried to get a good picture of Cheetah in the water, but she was moving so fast, and splashing around so much, I didn't get a great shot of her, but you can see how much fun she was having! 

We were near the end of our hike, and finished up walking through some dense underbrush to get back to my friend's place. 

When we arrived back at her house, she checked her watch that tracks our steps, and we had walked about 12,000 steps in a little under three hours.  That sounds like a lot of work!  Then she checked how many miles - 6.3 miles and we had burned 450 calories.  Having that little watch is a handy dandy tool!  It sure makes you feel like you've accomplished a lot when you get to hear the statistics! 

After my friend arrived back home, she went to check on her other dog, Angel.  I've met Angel only once as she is 15 years old, and has been sick for a while.  Apparently Angel had taken a turn for the worse in recent days.  I received an email later from her that said,:

"A couple days ago it was time, and my beloved Angel, at age 15, was put to sleep in my arms. My home has a huge hole in it, not to mention my heart. What a faithful, precious, wonderful dog. A protector (in spite of her fears), hiking buddy, traveling companion, friend. What a blessing she has been! She is deeply missed and will always be missed.   Most of you knew Angel personally and can share good memories with me. I’m grateful for that, and am thanking the Lord for her and for all of you in my life.  That said, am doing mostly OK, with much prayer & loving support and hugs from friends around me. Having other pets is also a big help, with their warm furry bodies to hug."

I was saddened to hear of Angel's passing.   Our animals bring so much joy and love into our lives, and when they pass, it is just like losing a family member.  I know my friend's heart is heavy and sad over her loss, although of course, she is thankful for the time she did have with this special dog. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our Four-Pawed Guardian Angel

I was leisurely getting my day started this past Sunday morning, reading my Bible, and enjoying a steaming cup of hot coffee.  I had gotten up to refill my coffee, and to open the window blinds and let the sunshine in, when some unusual movement caught my eye.  I leaned forward to get a better look... and this is what I saw...

Our sweet escape artist and her darling little one out on the lam... and our guardian angel Annie, watching carefully over them.  I watched them through the window for several minutes, just to see what was going on.

Annie kept looking toward the house as if she knew I was watching, or perhaps she was hoping I'd catch her in the act of such great honor and devotion to the cause. 

Momma and baby were trying their wings out, and seeing how far they could go with their new freedom.  I decided it was time to quit watching, and take action.  I quickly dressed and walked slowly outside.  I knew that if I appeared excited they would perhaps run, and I didn't feel like running cross country this early in the morning.  I went and filled up a half can of goat feed and began to shake the container and walked slowly toward momma.  She ran up to me!  Wow, this was easier than I thought it would be.  She followed me right into the pen, where I was able to safely confine her and baby again.

Now, the job was to find out how they escaped and bring this scenario to a resolution.  Hmm. Looks like Annie played a big part in the escape.  She had dug a hole and gnawed through the chicken wire towards the bottom edge of the pen.  Momma Ginger had spotted this as her opportunity to eat some green grass, and help herself to the hay behind the shed.  She didn't waste any time!

Momma Ginger wasn't too happy with me, after she got back in the pen. 

She wasn't happy with  me because I stayed in the pen with her and little Rascal. 

I sat on an overturned feed bucket and quietly talked to her and Rascal.  She just looked at me with great concern.  She didn't want me anywhere near her baby.  However, I didn't listen to her, and neither did Rascal.  It wasn't long until....

Rascal had warmed up enough to me, to come and try to suck my finger.  He kept nudging my hand and sucking my fingers as if he thought there was something good there... lol!  I could feel the baby teeth in his mouth, but they didn't hurt.  He took my finger and kind of twisted and jerked it, as if he couldn't figure out why there was no milk coming out!


I continued to sit there and pet him when he would allow.  He jumped up into my lap once or twice, and then was off again, running back to Momma.  Ginger kept warning Rascal to stay away from me. 

Finally though, he jumped into my lap, snuggled his head into the crook of my arm, and relaxed.  I began to pet him and rub his ears, behind his head, and rub his tummy.  It wasn't long until he was arching his head and rolling over so I could get all the places that needed to be rubbed.  His eyes closed, and for fifteen minutes he stayed in my lap, snuggled and sleeping.  Ginger came over a couple of times, sniffed me and Rascal and "baaaaed".  Rascal just ignored her, and continued snuggling wtih me. 

After about 15 minutes, his power nap was over.  He got up, and jumped off my lap, and continued to hop and run and kick his little legs all around the pen.  He had just stolen my heart!  He came back to see me a few times. But, then his belly must have started growling.  Off he went to get a drink from the source that really did provide his milk.

With all the action over, I realized that all our pets, Annie, Cosmo, and Simba had been patiently watching.  Simba was exhausted with it all, and just decided to go to sleep right there.

Cosmo stayed on duty.  He was quite concerned about all the excitement.  He wasn't sure what to make of it all.  He kept whining and crying while he saw me holding little Rascal.  I think he was jealous.  Poor Cosmo.  He just doesn't understand that love has no boundaries, and just because I love little Rascal and Momma Ginger, doesn't mean I don't still love him too... but I don't think he understood our conversation.  He just was happy when I emerged from the goat pen, and gave him some loving too. 

I had made some money bread for breakfast and had it cooling before all the excitement began.  Somehow it seemed fitting that with all the monkey business we had going on this morning, that we had monkey bread for breakfast.  Not a bad ending to all the excitment!

... and the money bread never even had time to get its topping of icing before it was halfway devoured.  In fact, the icing never made it to the monkey bread... it disappeared with just a few crumbs left ... a tasty ending to all the monkey business going on ...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dazzling Double Rainbows

We had a spring storm pass through here a day or so ago, and it brought with it the most amazing colors in the sky.  With the storm, came some very heavy winds, along with hail mixed with rain.  The kids were on their way home from town and were crossing the Pend O'Reille River and saw a scary sight.  They saw a cloud shaped like a V dip down and almost make contact with the water, before it lifted back up.  It was quite a storm!  In fact, the high winds were the worst part.  The tall pine trees are very top heavy, and with any kind of heavy wind, it can cause the tops to bend over, snap and break. 

While the kids were making their way home cautiously, they did see one tree snap in front of them, but thankfully it did not cross the road.  They did make it home safe without any trouble.

However, back here at home, our power had gone out almost immediately when the storm began, and it stayed off for a long time, in fact, it took the power company until 2 in the morning to get it back up and running . A downed tree had caused the power outage. 

Here are a few of the pictures I was able to take of the storm, and the magnificent colors in the sky afterwards:

After the storm had passed, the sky turned this purplish-blue color, and I looked outside wondering if a rainbow would show up.  I was on the telephone with a close friend, and she probably had to cover her ears when I spotted this rainbow in the sky!

The kids and I ran to the side door of the house, and this rainbow was SO big, you could not fit it completely into the view of the camera! We backed up as far as we could, and still... the rainbow was so large, it spanned such a great distance, that you could not fit the end to end of it into the viewer of the camera!

See how the end of the rainbow seems to be on the far right tree, turning the tree trunk into a rainbow of colors ! Wow!

It wasn't long until we spotted the second rainbow appearing, very faintly in the distance.  The first rainbow was huge!  It was the widest rainbow I'd ever seen.  Most I've seen are faint, and rather skinny, but this one was huge, and then the second rainbow next to it formed quickly.

Still trying to fit the entire rainbow into my camera... just not possible... but you get the idea!

A handful of the hail that came down out of the sky in a sort of cold fury!

After the storm had passed, the ground temperature was warmer than the cool air that had moved in, thus creating this mist rising from the ground to meet the cold air, causing the world to have a dreamy, misty glow after the fury of the storm had passed.  I decided to jump into the car with my camera, and take some more pictures from different horizons of the colors left behind from the storm.

It was getting dusk, but the skies were still billowing out their magnificent display of colors.

A rear view shot of the colors in the sky behind me, mixed with the raindrops left behind on my rear view mirror. 

The purplish-peach colored clouds overshadowing a home in the valley. 

What a riot of beautiful colors!

One lone stalwart tree against the backdrop of Hoo Doo Mountain.

You can see the mist from the warm ground rising to meet the colder air off the ground in the mountains.

Dusk was beginning to move in quickly, and the colors were fading fast.  My camera was trying its best to keep up with my demands for more pictures!

I rounded a corner, and saw why we had no power... a downed tree over the power line.  The fire truck was parked close by to warn oncoming traffic of the danger ahead.

Running out of daylight, there were still a few magnificent shots ahead...

Mount Spokane in the distance overshadowed by heavy clouds.  

A whole herd of deer crossed over the road in front of me.  When they saw me slowing to get a picture they dashed off into the meadow, their white tails waving and flashing as they ran.

 The best shot I was able to get at this distance, with Mount Spokane in the far background, and the sporting, frolicking deer in the open meadow, now completely ignoring me and my flashing camera!

When I got home, this is what awaited me... old fashioned lanterns being pulled out of their dusty storage and being put to good use.  Still no electricity. 

The sickly sweet smell of the lamp oil in the lanterns soon filled the house.  The oil lamps burned bright with soft shadows blinking on the ceilings. 

We also pulled out some new more modern lanterns that were battery powered.  Their light hurt my eyes.  You couldn't look directly at this lantern, for if you looked away, all you could see were bright and black spots in front of your eyes!  These are very very bright lanterns!

A comparison of the two.  The difference is oh so vast.  Soft shadows were made by the oil lantern, while bright light that hurt your eyes streamed out from the battery powered lantern. 

We spent the rest of the evening with our lanterns in the living room.  Each of us grabbed a book and began to quietly read together.  It was a taste of what it was like to live without electricity.  Taking a lantern with you to go down the hall to the rest room.  Walking in to a room, and instinctively reaching for the light switch, and then realizing it didn't work.  Opening the refrigerator door to find it dark inside. 

The kids and I talked about what it would feel like to live this way all the time.  Made for very interesting conversation!  It was a wonderful evening that we spent together. 

We went to bed in complete darkness. Not even the moon was out.  It was very still and quiet... and nice!

When the electricity came on at 2 in the morning, it startled me, when everything went to beeping and humming.  No more quiet darkness, but night lights and alarm clocks blinking, and outdoor lights beaming. 

It was nice while it lasted!  The blazing colors in the skies, coupled with the two magnificent rainbows, and the quiet evening spent with  my children after the gusty storm had blown through was wonderful. 

Perhaps there is a lesson in this? Even in the storms, there is a certain wild beauty and joy that can come forth after the storm passes.  A good lesson to ponder!