Thursday, May 30, 2013

In which Maddy downloads pictures from her phone....

We went to a garden center today and Maddy (much to the annoyance of an elderly couple, who kept grumbling about "these kids and their dumb gadgets...") snapped some pictures. Getting them from her phone to this blog, however, proved a challenge.

"Well, finally, It downloaded all of them, though," she said.

"Wow. Where was this one taken?" John-John said.

"Down where I used to work," she said. "Let me find one of the building."

"That's the building - this one was taken a couple of months later. It doesn't look like that anymore, though. That tree is gone. Hurricane Irene took part of it down and the October snowstorm later that year finished it off. I felt really bad. It was such a pretty tree."

"What's this?" Shel said, wide-eyed. (Of course, he's always kind of wide-eyed!)

 "Severe thunderstorm. I don't know if my phone did that or it was from the sun shining on the cloud, but it's pretty cool, isn't it?"

"And here's why we were having the severe thunderstorm. Look at the temperature that day!"

Shel did. "Two hundred and forty-four degrees ?!"

"That's the estimated gas mileage. The temperature is at the top," Maddy said with a laugh. "However, I think the car seat was about 244 degrees. I burned my butt sitting down on it wearing jeans."

"I think this was a different storm. We were on top of a hill, so we had a good view of things."

"There were also a bunch of chickens. That rooster in the middle was almost three feet tall. I think they're the only thing I miss about that place."


And now for the garden center pictures. Me, of course. We were hoping to get more pictures than we did, but the place was kind of crowded.

Maddy wanted to get a picture of me with the frog and the morning glories, but had to settle for just the frog and the morning glories.

These are some of the inhabitants of the koi pond in the greenhouse.


Back home this evening, we went outside for some cool evening air and a few pictures...

These I like, for obvious reasons.

We lucked out and missed a line of severe storms last night, so the peony finished blooming out.

Along with the rhododendron. Yes, that's the house. No, the picture isn't doctored. That thing is ginormous....

 Almost ninety degrees today and what is Emmaline wearing? *facepalm*

"I'm just not comfortable in skimpy clothing," she protested.

"What's skimpy about short sleeves?" John-John said.

We're going to get this girl in a bikini before summer is out. Shhhh, don't tell her that, though....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In which I become the first Hitty to climb Mt. Everest - sort of....

Dateline: Everest - on this, the 60th anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent to the top of the world, I, Caroline, find myself just below the summit on the Hillary Step. Progress is slow...

Okay, okay, not really. But you have to admit this rock in the garden really looks the part, doesn't it?

"Caroline, we'd better head back in. I think I heard thunder..."

John-John hates thunderstorms.

"It's a jet. See, up there?"

"Let's go back in, anyway. Please?"

Seriously, though, after reading Into Thin Air, I'm not sure I'd actually want to climb Mt. Everest. Maddy said she's love to actually see it for real one day, but from the ground.

It does look pretty from the ground.

Maddy: "There's the route Norgay and Hillary took..."

John-John: "What the heck kind of color is that?"

Maddy: "Turquoise. My first car was the same color."

John-John shook his head. "That must have been easy to find in a parking lot."

She laughed. "Unless something parked in front of it. It was a little itty-bitty Geo Storm. About the size of one of your Mini Coopers."

Is it just me, or is he too cute? No wonder Shel wants to marry him. Now if they'd just pick a date - hint, hint hiiiiiiint......

And one last shot of the mountain....

Monday, May 27, 2013

In which we spend a quiet Memorial Day....

I know it's been awhile since I updated - it's been a little busy here. Maddy and I were planning on taking a bunch of pictures when we drove over to Cold Spring for the grand opening of her friend's new salon, but the weather didn't cooperate. By the time we left A Twist of Fate, a nasty thunderstorm was bearing down upon us, so we hightailed it home instead of playing photojournalist. Next time....

Anyway, remember that rhododendron? This is what it looks like now and it isn't even entirely bloomed out yet. Maddy was just standing at the bottom pointing her camera up for this shot, and she's five feet tall. I bet the rhododendron is about thirty feet at the apex. John-John said it was the Mount Everest of rhododendrons.

While we were getting this shot, we kept hearing an annoyed "mew - mew - mew" coming from quite close by...

We finally tracked it down to a catbird way up near the top of Mount Rhododendron. We're not sure, but it looks like a female on a nest. Maddy said it wouldn't be the first time they've built there.


Meanwhile, in the back yard...

A treehouse would be nice right about here. Maybe one with a hot tub...

"Caroline! Get down from there before you get hurt - ow!"

Emmaline was okay - she just tripped over a root.

The rain didn't wreck all the peonies....

 And John-John and Maddy have finally figured out that the vine taking over the old TV antenna on the back porch is in fact the grapevine her father tried, and obviously failed, to get rid of because it wasn't producing grapes. It looks like it's going to have plenty this year. If we're lucky, we might even be able to get a few before the birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc., eat all of them.

On a more serious note, Maddy is trying to think of something to contribute to the auction the members of Hittygirls are putting together for the Oklahoma tornado victims.

"I don't think I'm good enough at making dresses yet to make any for the auction," she said. "Making a Hitty is out - I'm not a carver and I think they really want a wooden one."

"How about a quilt?" Shel said. Maddy, Val and I all jumped - none of us had heard him come in the living room.

"Sorry..." He looked sheepish. "But this one came out nice."

"That's not my pattern," Maddy said. "I don't want to use someone else's."

"Make a pattern," Val said. "Maybe like a heart or a whale or something."

"Or a ship," John-John suggested from the other room.

"That would require me learning how to draw first," Maddy replied.

I don't know about them, but I think we're onto something here....

Monday, May 20, 2013

In which it's a good and very bad day...

Here in New York State today was lovely.

So lovely, in fact, that I decided to hang the laundry outside to dry while I waited for Maddy to get back from an unexpected trip to pick up the newly-repaired lawnmower. I knew it wasn't too far, so I wondered what was taking her so long. Valentine said she must have gotten stuck behind a school bus.

"You hung the unders outside to dry?!" Emmaline sounded rather shocked.

"Yeah, why not?"


"I hung them out behind the house, for Pete's sake. It's not like a ran them up a flagpole or anything." Although I actually thought the image was kind of funny.

Emmaline didn't look reassured, but she didn't say anything else about it. "Who's Pete?"

"Pete Townshend," I said. At least he's the only Pete I know of....


Maddy got back about forty minutes later.

"What took you so long?" John-John said, running to hug her when she came in.

"Not yet, sweetie. My hands are dirty..." She went to wash them.

Turns out that although she'd gotten the mower to the repair shop without any problems, on the return trip it decided it was going to slamdance all around the back of the Rogue. After slowing for a changing stoplight had sent it sliding far enough up the folded seat for the handle to smack the back of the front seats, she'd stopped at a garden center and bought a big roll of the heaviest twine (rope, really) she could find to tie it down. John-John said that she had it tied up like Marcellus Wallace and all she needed was a ball gag to complete the image. Maddy laughed but I didn't get it. John-John promised to let me watch Pulp Fiction someday when Maddy wasn't around to find out...


Anyway, that was the good part. About an hour or so later we were idly watching TV when Pinky said, "Hey, look. I think they've got a tornado forming in Oklahoma."

"Hmm, that's a rope - no it's a - holy crap, look how freaking big it got!" Maddy said, stunned.

"That's a wedge tornado. Really bad news..." Pinky said. "Oh my God. I've never seen one get so big so fast..."

Meanwhile, the helicopter on TV was having to fight to keep from being sucked into the storm, even though it was several miles away.

All we could do was watch. It was terrifying, but we couldn't look away. It just kept getting bigger and bigger...

And bigger....

And bigger....

"I never saw one like that. Not even when I was stormchasing. That thing is surreal..." Pinky finally said.


It's just been getting grimmer and grimmer all night and now there's another storm about to hit them, although it doesn't look like a bad one. We're trying to figure out what to do here to help. While I'm working on this entry, Maddy's texting a donation to the Red Cross. She said that right now, that and healing wishes are all we can send to help...

So we're sending lots of healing wishes Oklahoma's way.....

Monday, May 13, 2013

In which it shouldn't be this cold outside and we dream of Venice....

 "Forty degrees? Are you kidding me?" Alas, despite my best hopes, there was nothing wrong with the thermometer. It's just cold outside tonight.

"Did I tell you it snowed on my birthday once, when I was little?" Pinky said. "It actually stuck for awhile, too. At least on the grass."

"When is your birthday again?" Shel seemed almost afraid to ask.

"This Friday," she said.

"Great..." I don't think that was the answer he wanted.

"Is this where all those beads you got came from?" John-John, meanwhile, was looking at a book.

"That's it," Maddy said. She went to a bead show this weekend and bought a bunch of Venetian glass beads from one of her favorite sellers. She said they usually hold it at a nearby hotel, but this time it was in the rec center on the other side of town.

"Wasn't that where they saw the moose a couple of years ago?" Shel said.

"I don't know if they saw it or thought they saw it," Maddy said. "A friend of mine said that the police were all over her yard and a couple of the neighbors' yards looking for it, though."

"Did anyone think to check on Camilla Parker-Bowles' whereabouts at the time?" John-John said. (He's strictly Team Diana, even after all these years...)

"John-John, that wasn't very nice," Pinky scolded.

"You're right. I shouldn't say things like that about a moose." He looked contrite - sort of.

We tried to get some pictures of the beads, but they didn't come out so well....

Not much better. Maddy said the blue bead came from another show - the one the day before Hurricane Irene. She said she bought a LOT of stuff that day, anticipating that she might not be able to attend the next day. She was right - the show was cancelled within five minutes of opening after the hotel started to flood out thanks to a nearby stream overflowing its banks. Nobody was hurt, but it apparently caused enough damage to that particular hotel's bottom floor that it hasn't reopened since. (The bottom floor, not the hotel...)

And no, John-John and Shel haven't set a date yet. I think John-John said his mom is coming over from England soon. If I remember correctly, she's originally from California, but moved to England after she married his dad, who passed away about five and a half years ago. I think poor John-John really wishes he was here...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In which we try to talk Emmaline into a makeover...

"Hey Maddy, look at this!"

She looked over my shoulder. "Luggage for Dolls? Looks complicated..."

"Not really," I said. "Of course, I'm going to need about twenty of those. Along with someone tall, dark, handsome and willing to carry them for me..."

"You're a diva," she said with a laugh. I have a feeling that means I'm not getting either one....

Maddy and I both thought that Magnolia's dress was an antiqued version of one of mine, but it's not. It's close, though.

I showed her the moose Shel - hey, Val, we're over here!

(At least this photo's only off center. My sister is the Red Queen of photographers - when she starts taking pictures, if's usually off with everyone's head...)


Anyway, I showed Magnolia the moose John-John got me. He said that Maddy told him there was one running around here awhile back.

"Although I don't know if anyone confirmed Camilla Parker-Bowles whereabouts during that time," he added.

"John-John, be sweet," Maddy said. "That wasn't a very nice thing to say about the moose." They're both still Team Diana after all these years.

I looked over to see what he was doing.

"Emmie, just try it on," he was saying. "It's going to look good on you."

"I don't know..." She looked dubious. "It's awfully  - bright."

"So?" Jade said. "What's wrong with bright?"

Emmaline just looked uncomfortable.

"Give it a try. The color's going to look good on you," Jade said. She and Maddy share an eye for color.

"See? I told you it would look good. It's much more flattering on you than the gray."

I still don't think Emmaline was convinced.

Someday, we'll get her to smile.....