Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mandala Photoshop Play

It's been awhile since I have done a mandala.  So this one was daffidils and I used some Photoshop filters on it and played around a bit.  It was very therapeutic as Lady K was napping and I had a moment of quiet.

And Savvy, I know what you are going to say about it already!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Focus Redirected

As with most things in my life over the past year or so, I think I am on one path, only to find that things have changed and I am following a completely different one.  I thought this summer would be all about sewing on my quilts.  WRONG!

After coming back from MisCon over Memorial Day Weekend, Texter is gearing up for next year.  I had originally thought about volunteering there, but forgot until too late.  This convention focuses on science fiction, fantasy, and horror in writing and the arts.  The writing end had caught my attention. But next year is ON!  Terry Brooks, an extremely well know author in the fantasy realm, will be the featured author.

So what does that actually mean?  It means that instead of sewing on quilts, I will be, once again, engaged in creating cosplay outfits.  Savvy is extremely interested in coming down and we will use that as her vacation next year.  She and I will be going as the Black and White Mages from Final Fantasy.  So there are a couple of capes involved with under dresses.  And as with all good con goers, we can't just have one costume - so looking toward steampunk for me and possibly Lolita for her.

Then comes Texter......

This is Dr. Who from the 12th season.  See the scarf.  It was actually the shorter one.  It 'grew' by the 16th season.  And that's what is on my needles right now.  Luckily, it is super simple, just knitting only, but that's the main part of her costume for next year.  I have actually knitted myself a long scarf before, but not this long.  Yesterday was spent finding yarn (only 1 skein of each at the present time) to match the colors and jotting down the pattern of rows/colors.  

What is going to be fun is that I will also be recreating this scarf a second time for Lady K.  Of course, I am not going to make a 12 foot plus scarf for a toddler, so I have making it 1/4 the size.  I will be only making it 14 stitches wide rather than 56 (I'm using worsted weight yarn.).  And then on the stripes I am only doing 1/4 of the number needed on each color - or close enough.  I think it will be so cute to see her as a baby time lord.

Because Terry Brooks will be there and one of the things you can do at this convention is to submit writing prior to the convention for critique, I will be working on my novel(s).  I also will be working on my cookbook since I also plan to use it in my portfolio for school.


other costume pieces
summer dresses for Lady K

Of course, I am not foolish enough to think everything can be accomplished by the time school starts in August.  Nope, this is my list of things for the next 11 months, until the con next year.  I will keep posting on my progress.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tizer Panorama

Right now I am in one of those really crabby moods you get into when you go to pay bills, especially when paying online, and everything is just wonky and doesn't work.  What you thought would be an easy (labor-wise, not pocketbook-wise) job, turns into hair-pulling aggravation.  And at the end you realize you still don't have any money!

So I had put together this panorama from Tizer photos I took on Saturday and decided I needed to 'zen-out' a bit and breath.  Or as Savvy would say "calm your tits".

I am standing at the top of a slight slope down into the garden area.  This is at the entrance to the gardens.  In another month or so, I'll do it again so you can see the garden at full bloom. 

Now to go tackle getting paint chips to match colors for a scarf and find yarn and buy a few groceries for the weekend.  Then I'm coming home and hiding in my room, watching a DVD of "Rosemary and Thyme" (a show out of Great Britain) and knitting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lady K Photoplay

I actually got up this morning planning on doing a post about the picnic Lady K and I had at Tizer Botanical Gardens on Saturday.  But then I got to 'playing' and created these from the pictures I took. (Actually, I did them in between finding my keys Lady K found and ran off with and picking up the pens and markers she threw out of my desk drawer.)

The above is a couple of techniques I have tried before.  This time I combined them together.  At Tizer they have a couple of carved, wooden bears which hide the sprinklers.  Actually, I erased the sprinkler here with Photoshop (just like the models erase pounds and years!).
This one is utilizing a film strip template downloaded from  I then placed images of Lady K in there, converting to black and white and adding some graininess to them to make them a little bit more vintage looking.

This one, once again courtesy of  He provided the 'actions' to be used in Photoshop, I supplied the picture to make this look like a photo album page.

There are some more videos I want to play with today, but they will have to wait until after work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Warning: Crossroad Ahead

Charlaine Harris has written another home run of a series and I can't wait for the next installment!

Midnight, Texas is just a wide spot in the road populated with a very diverse group of individuals.  Each one has a secret and Manfred has just settled right in the big middle of them.  As things become clearer and clearer to Manfred about his fellow residents, there is a murder, with fingers pointing in all directions.  Just as it takes a community to raise a child, this community gathers around itself to find a killer.

I have two problems with this book.  One, the other two books in the trilogy aren't out yet.  I can't wait!  And second, that just like the Sookie Stackhouse books this will be optioned for TV and then be ruined by adding sex and other garbage not in the books.  I can see this on the screen, but only if they leave the damn thing as is.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Balcony Gardening

I am lucky that in this apartment we have a long 'entrance' that is exposed to both to the east and south.  This way, I get sun here almost all day long.  Which is great for growing things.  Hopefully, come fall/winter, I can offer enough protection that they will last a bit longer than normal.

The first thing I 'planted' was a handful of strawberry plants I had dug up while weeding at Tizer Botanical Gardens.  I was told I could have then and since I hate throwing plants away, I brought them home.  They are in a potato 'bag' filled with potting soil.  Over the past couple of weeks, with the warming temperatures, they have taken off.  Granted I won't be canning from this little patch of strawberries, but we will have a couple dozen off them.  This is fun, especially since it's been years and years since I have grown strawberries.

Yesterday, I got my pots and the rest of my tomato plants.  I am really amazed at the number of what I consider 'heirlooms' available on the commercial market these days.

I have seven tomato plants:

Mortgage Lifter
Pink Brandywine
Cherokee Purple
Lemon Boy
Sun Sugar Cherry 
Black Cherry
Juliet Grape

I have grown all of these in the past.  Lemon Boy has always come through for me, regardless of where I planted it.  Sun Sugar is a branch of Sun Gold and they always put out tons of cherry tomatoes.  Black Cherry, another great producer.  And every time I have planted a Juliet Grape, I am overrun with tomatoes.  Guess the people at work will be getting some cherry and grape tomatoes this year.

I do have two pots, a bit larger than these, where I have planted Scarlet Runner beans on one side of the pot so I can train them up the railings.  Then I have Sugar Snaps in the front of the pot.  Not enough to really do much with, but enough that I can snack on a few.  I also dropped a couple of nastursiums in the tomato pots so they will grow over the edge and hang down.

In the next week, I will get a couple of pots for herbs.  Thinking one for mints and another for herbs - rosemary, chives, thyme and basil.

Now when we give directions to the house, I can say "look for the plants".

(The above picture was taken early - like 7am early.  My two gardening helpers.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Holter Lake Birds

Saturday was a 'bird fest' for me while out on the lake.  While going through the canyon area, swallows were flying overhead, hopefully snapping up some of the big, black bugs that were swarming around the boat if we slowed down enough.  There were rock doves, aka feral pigeons, too.
So here's a brief photographic tour of the birds of Holter Lake.

There was the Mallard couple.

Then the golden eagle soaring overhead.

The large, apparently unoccupied, nest on the cliffs.

Cockroaches and Canada geese will survive any world-wide disasters.  They are everywhere!

No, not a bird, but a deer walking across a very steep and slippery slope.

The gull whose dinner we interrupted.

American Coots, I believe.

Duck.  Haven't figured out what kind (yet).  But he kept flying by, low over the water, making several passes.

And my bald eagle.

I didn't get pictures of the swallows.  Or the pelicans that were coming in before the rain and nightfall to roost.  Pelicans and seagulls in Montana still throw me.

So I can't wait to make it back to Holter.  Hopefully then I will have some 'fishy' photos.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Holter Lake

Friday night's sunset was wonderful.  One of the advantages of a west-facing balcony is you get a front row seat - literally - for great sunsets.

Texter and Lady K had been gone for a couple of days at this point, staying with a friend.  She called Saturday afternoon early to let me know they were going for a boat ride around Holter Lake and wanted to know if I wanted to go.  Faster than a speeding bullet, I was in the car and on my way.

Holter Lake is about 40 miles away from Helena on the way to Great Falls.  I have passed one of the camping areas numerous times on my way to/from Great Falls.  Lady K was all for the boat ride.  She is going to be a roller coaster riding kid!  She was on the boat and acting like she had done it forever.

But the scenery on the lake is fantastic!

From where we left at one end of the lake, we went from a large, open area into a 'canyon' area.  The lake twists and turns back on itself several times.  What I really wasn't aware of was that the lake lies at the end of the Sleeping Giant and 'dead-ends' into the Gates of the Mountain.  So I got to see Gates of the Mountain by entering from the back side and then back through again.

When seen from the 'front', it looks like a solid piece of rock in front of you.  But then as you move closer you can see where it opens up onto the main part of the lake.  Lewis and Clark named this area and it is easy to see why.

One thing I really liked about the whole Holter Lake area, is that along the length of it, there are several places you can stop and camp and they have basic toilet facilities.  And the fishing is suppose to be really good.  I am trying to wrangle my way into a fishing trip.  I've never fished for walleye or trout before.

The whole length of the lake was really clean and lovely.  It would be great to stop somewhere along the shoreline and camp for a night or two.  Can't wait to go back.  (The wildlife, i.e. mainly birds, will be highlighted in my next post.)

But we had to hurry back to the boat ramp, out running the rain.  Lady K was so tired by her time on the water, she napped all the way back in the speeding boat.  Shows how concerned she was by a boat ride.

On the way home, with the rain behind up and to our left all the way back, we were treated to this sight...

A double rainbow.  We could actually see the entire arc of the rainbow.  This side was in the rain and the other side was in the light.  Texter was taking a ton of shots on her phone and this one is from my phone.  Unfortunately, both our cameras were in the back of the car.  

A lovely ending to a lovely day!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Yellow Warbler?

This jaunty fellow was trilling away on my hike in Trout Creek Canyon.  And I think it might be a Yellow Warbler, but not sure.  Birds should come with visible id's!  Or at least come closer so that I can get a better picture so I can better identify it when I get home and pull out my Birds of Montana and Sibley's.

However, I do know this one.

This is a large raven who had established a territory along the path and was very disgruntled we had intruded and interrupted his meal he had down the slope a bit.  Until you see them really close, it's hard to imagine how big a raven actually is.

But I would have loved to see who had built this little jewel.  I know it was probably last year's nest, but I would liked to have seen who called this home.

There was a nest I really DIDN'T want to come in contact with.  Luckily, it was well off the path.

Finally, something else winged and out and about.  I think it is a Mourning Cloak.

During the hike I heard a woodpecker.  I am ready for another hike on Trout Creek to add to my bird and beast count.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trout Creek Canyon Thursday

With the full moon staying in the sky until well after sunrise, it was going to be an outside kind of day.  So with Lady K and Texter off elsewhere, I put in a couple of hours of gardening.  Poor Amani (the dog) hadn't had a good walk in a long time (my fault).  I decided since it was a nice day to  head out for a hike where I could let her off the leash to run and frolic.

Trout Creek Canyon Trail is right by the first Helena Hikers location is hiked, about a year ago.  Hanging Valley Trail was a death march for me.  But Trout Creek is nice enough and easy enough I will be bringing Lady K so she can toddle along and be packed too.

For the most part, the trail is beside the creek.  At the start of the trailhead, you are walking up into the canyon, but it's not a 'straight up' hike, it's a nice gentle sloping trail.

As you are in a canyon, you look up onto some really interesting mountainsides.  I wish I had paid more attention in my geology class so I could know a little more about what I am actually seeing.

Trout Creek twists and bounces down the hillside as you hike along.  There are a couple of bridges over the creek.  It ends about a mile in as far as the 'finished' trail is concerned.  It then continues on for a couple more miles until it hits a farm road.  Amani and I only did the first mile of it.

For only being two miles, she probably walked, jogged, investigated and checked out double that.  Needless to say, she was a pooped pooch.  I need to get her out more often.  She does good staying nearby and comes pretty well.  So more hikes in the future for her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday in the Garden

After barely making it home in time to clean up and go to work on Monday, I am finally getting a chance to sit down and take a deep breath.

Mother's Day here in Helena had been cool (ok, cold) and overcast and just downright dreary.  But Monday dawned bright and beautiful, if only getting into the 50's.  I headed out to Tizer Botanical Gardens to get into their vegetable garden after 3 days of pruning roses.

(Note:  I apparently did something to the settings on my camera and the following pictures are terrible.)

After 55 years of gardening in the South, where putting in potatoes in February/March is the norm, I really wanted to get involved with the vegetable garden so I could learn how to cram everything into a 90 day (if we're lucky I'm told) growing season.

And while it only drizzled at times in Helena, a little further south and a little further 'up', there was snow on the ground when I arrived.

I set about cleaning out the herb garden area first, tidying it up and getting it ready for planting to fill in the gaps.  Despite the chilly temps, once I was out working in the sun, I had to dump the jacket and just go with shirt sleeves.  Some of the thymes winter over pretty well.  I was inhaling the lovely, herby smell as I weeded and trimmed back dead branches.  I felt like throwing myself down on top of it and just rolling around, like one of the cats.  The chives in the middle area...I have my eyes on them for picking the blooms for some chive vinegar this summer.  Makes a lovely purple/pink vinegar and will use it for cooking and making salad dressing.  The bee balm seems to over-winter well too.  Lots of clumps of it and can't wait for it to start sending up flowers.

Then I got down to the 'real' gardening....planting veggies.  In one area there are four 4X10 raised beds and I had enough time to get one of them planted.  With temperatures forecasted into the 70's by the end of the week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday will see me spending most of the day in the garden with my hands in the soil.

 So far, there in the first bed there is the following planted:

3 Bonnie Mega Cabbage
4 White Cloud Hybrid Cauliflower
4 Packman Hybrid Broccoli
2 Dill
17 Butter Crunch Lettuce
4 Bright Lights Chard
45 Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions
27 Golden Beets (seeds)
6-1' squares of a combination of Royal Chardonnay Carrots and Hailstone Radish

Belva is pretty much letting me do what I want to do in the garden (so far - she hasn't witnessed the havoc I can make), so I am pretty much going with a square foot garden technique in the raised beds.

When I go back next, if they haven't gotten to it yet, I will be planting peas and beans, corn, potatoes, and tons of other things.  I just about died when I was told I could pretty much take what I wanted from the nursery, I just have to write it down.  Why didn't she just tell the drug addict that the drug store was unlocked and open!

I also will be starting on the containers for my front entry way (faces east and south) and my balcony (west facing) in the next week.  I have one container with strawberries in it that I pulled up at Tizer.  They are setting some blooms already.

But my day at Tizer started out with this jaunty little fellow.  I wish the picture was better.  I will do better next time since it looks like he will be nesting here.

A little nuthatch.  So neat and clean looking and just hops up and down the tree.

Off to have dreams of soil and transplants and seeds and flowers and 'dirty' things!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Baby is Legal!

Twenty-one years ago today, Texter very impatiently made her way into the world.  I say impatiently because she didn't want me to be fully dilated before making her appearance.  And things haven't changed a bit since then.  She is my 'have-to-be-doing-something-or-talking-to-someone-every-minute-of-the-day' child.  And now has a child of her own.

She is sometimes willing to go along with my ideas.

Such as going cherry picking and being sent up the very shaky ladders.  

I can sometimes talk her into modeling my creations - but usually only if they are for her.

And for someone who is so social and wanting to be out there, she is remarkably camera shy, so my pictures of her over the years are limited. 

While her sister went 'noble', she stuck with the masses - and knew them all by name and were friends on Facebook and phone.

And while our relationship hasn't always been the smoothest, she is a very loving and caring person.  She just doesn't do housework very well.  Or understand that the cute puppy isn't going to stay small forever.

Happy Birthday, Texter!