April is the cruelest month

Well, in my opinion,  April is really the most mixed up of months.

We have had such a mix of weather and experiences this month. Just crazy! Planning for DH’s retirement,  listening to accounts of the very complicated house move for DD’s family, hearing about DS’s exotic work and travels…

Combine this with medical and dental appointments, lots of garden cleanup from the Christmas ice storm… WOW! Then major flooding, and today powerful winds that knocked over the bird feeders, alarming the dog.

On the bright side we have small flowers in bloom, tiny tips of Bloodroot emerging, and almost all the dirty snow has melted.

And so I’m here to share some update photos with you all:

Real life miracle survivor friends…one year later! March21-2014SueSharon

Warmth returnsApril6-2014SunnyDay6

The future playhouse for the grandchildren1981929_10152265232550255_318479720_n

Making memories before the moveApril9-2014

Sold and packing up….April11-2014Moving.5

New sweater ready for Ivy

March19-2014knitting

Games made and laminated for the young ones. Some fun new books arrived for them as well.April10-2014Scavenger-Hunts

First bulbs emerge
April11-2014Snowdrops April11-2014WinterAconites

Flooding as the snow melts all around…April13-2014FloodingTowardHouse

The overflow channel where a muskrat was frightened awayApril13-2014FloodingOverflowChannel1

Lots of cleanup necessary this year… and so DH bought himself a chainsaw and some protective equipment.
April9-2014sawing1

SPRING!April13-2014Spring!

And this because it is so beautiful!10013929_10151955491027522_6793402652551585310_nEvery day brings more excitement!

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And then…today’s surpise.

April15-2014Snow3*

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A Tiny Post With an Added Surprise!

It is 52F here today! What a treat. The snow is melting slowly, which I hope means no flooding of our creek. I have seen a robin, and that is GOOD!

March31-2014SnowyView

The experiment continues: my huge pots of bulbs that have been shivering in the garage for months now, without a break, are now soaking up light and moisture on the potting table in front of the garage. I know it will be cold again, but I think they can deal with that. The test will be to see if they emerge at all, or if the constant bitter cold killed them.

March31-2014FirstBlooms1

My husband brought in a bit more wood from the barn. We continue to enjoy the heat of the wood stove, but the quality of the wood is very low by now. We’ve been using it for 5-6 months straight! Soon it will be time to tidy up large branches for stacking in the barn. They’ll need to age for a couple of years though, so next year’s wood will have to be purchased.

The earth is soggy and squishy. Rubber boot weather at last!

*****

PS! I brisk walk out in the now 55F world revealed a few exciting bits!

March31-2014FirstBlooms3March31-2014FirstBlooms2March31-2014FirstBlooms4March31-2014LysimachiaBeaujolaisThis Lysimachia beaujolais mais have survived the winter! I certainly hope so.(http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b417)

On the negative side, there seem to be voles everywhere….

March31-2014VolesEverywhere*****

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The Creek in Spring…

We spend a good bit of time observing our creek in Spring, checking on the ice thaw. There has been serious concern this year because not only have we had an extremely cold winter without a break, but we also had a huge ice storm with major tree damage. A quick thaw would produce a very messy ice jam under our bridge, the only access to our home. Flooding could be a serious problem.

Two days ago we had sunny weather which melted some ice “islands” and produced a few open spots where ducks appeared. I knew they were Mergansers, but I wasn’t certain what kind.  And so today, as we returned from town, we spied the pair of ducks once more. This time it was clear that they are Common Mergansers. The male is much more handsome than in the guide! Google gets credit for this photo!

March-29-2014Common-Mergansers

There were also Canada Geese flying overhead. And then I spied motion in some grasses. Was it a nest? No… It looked like a young bird reaching up searching for something. Wrong again. Gradually my husband figured out that what I thought were grasses were in fact a Great Blue Heron bending over and attacking a huge fish. My guess was that the fish was 12 inches in length, DH guessed 14 inches. Methodically the heron turned the fish over, held it in its beak, then hopped across the creek to a snowy spot where there were more grasses. And then, it gulped the entire fish down. The heron’s slender neck became very thick, and bit by bit, the heron crouched down, then stood still, watching our car cautiously.  We watched him for another five or so minutes before leaving his space.

Of course I did not have a camera in hand. This Youtube clip is very similar to what we observed today.

Nature is amazing!

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Back to Frost Patterns…

March 24, 2014

March24-2014Frost5

March24-2014Frost1

March24-2014Frost3

March24-2014Frost4*****

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Imagine!

March18-2014playhouse1

This old playhouse is on the property of a house my daughter and son-in-law hope to buy. It brings back memories of a playhouse I visited many years ago on a sheep farm in New York state. I was about 5 or 6 at the time and had never experienced anything like it. It was two stories tall with an interior staircase. There were two rooms downstairs. There were dishes and forks and spoons, a sink, and blankets as well. There were books too. It confused me. There was little imagination in my upbringing…and I wasn’t sure what to make of this place for children only. The ceilings were low and adults did not fit well inside.

I now think it would have been so wonderful, if only I had been a different kid! Ivy, my granddaughter, is the kid I would choose to have been. It would be lovely if this became her hideaway! She would have to share with her brothers, and I can imagine trouble there… but perhaps I don’t know them well enough. Maybe all three could learn to share wonders together. I hope so! I can imagine Indy and Pepper, the dogs, wanting to visit here as well. Malcolm the cat may have to remain indoors for safety’s sake.

There is also an old chicken coop to rebuild… Lots of excitement if things work out! If not, something else will appear and the seeds for a spot for a hide-away have been planted.

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PS: Most of the inspections have been completed and they are keen to move ahead with the purchase. This is the view of the house. They can’t wait to get out there and make it home!

March22-2014QuadraHouseThe house has been inspected and it has many small things (dry wall, base boards, etc…) that need doing, and a couple of larger things (vent in attic, fan in bathrooms, dry out the basement), but overall nothing that is a large concern. It has LOTS of indoor space and 5 good-sized bedrooms! Even better, it’s on 7.4 acres, with lots of BIG trees! There are fruit trees (plum and pear for sure), and 2 large hazelnut trees. “Now I need some chickens and a veggie garden!!!”

And this is the barn. It is very solid and hasn’t had animals in it for years (“doesn’t smell at all”).

March22-2014QuadraBarnThey expect the fun to begin in early May, around the time of Ivy’s 5th birthday party.
Best wishes!
*****

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And So it Begins!

Ivy will be 5 in May. This week she has been traveling with her family, preparing for a big move to a new province. Although she is having a wonderful time, she definitely wants to be sure to be back home for her birthday!
In the meantime, the family is visiting lovely new places. Here is one of them.

March14-2014.IvyLeoForrestandParentsMarch14-2014.IvyLeo March14-2014.IvyLeo2 March14-2014WayneLast night Ivy wrote her very first story! “Once upon a time…” I hope there will be many more of these stories!

March14-2014.IvyStory

Tonight they hope to locate a hotel with an indoor pool. Lots of fun for all. Will they decide on a new home tomorrow? Such excitement!

To be continued….

*****

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By girls- for Everyone!

I’m a fan of A Mighty Girl‘s site: http://www.amightygirl.com/

Here’s one reason why:

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Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were graduate students at Columbia University’s School of Architecture in 2010 when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. In one of their classes, they were assigned to develop a new innovation to help with disaster relief. Many students focused on designing shelters but, after speaking to a relief worker in Haiti, the two discovered that an often-ignored need following disasters was access to light. The pair focused on designing a solar-powered lantern and spent several years refining their design. Now their inflatable, waterproof, and solar-powered light — called the LuminAID Solar Light — is being distributed to those in need in several countries.

Their unique lantern is designed to meet the needs of people in the aftermath of a disaster but many outdoor enthusiasts have also become fans of its innovative design (it even made National Geographic’s 2013 Gear of the Year list). After being charged in the sun for six hours, the LED light provides up to 16 hours of light — a feature that not only makes it more eco-friendly but essential in emergency situations when batteries are hard to find. Due to its inflatable design, it also provides diffuse light like a lantern so it can be used to illuminate a room or tent. Moreover, since disasters often involve water, Stork and Sreshta made it waterproof and able to float.

They also made sure to add a sturdy handle to the light because, as Stork explains, “We heard that in the tent cities people really wanted something they could easily take to the latrine at night, so it was very handy to have a handle to carry it around.” And, because they can be packed flat, 50 LuminAID lights can be shipped in the same space needed for 8 conventional flashlights — an especially significant difference when humanitarian organizations are sending relief aid in large volumes.

When the two young social entrepreneurs founded their company, LuminAID, they used a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to raise the capital needed for their first batch of 1,000 lights. They have since created a Give Light Project where for each light purchased on their website, the buyer can donate a light to one of four project sites. Over the past year, they have distributed more than 5,000 lights across projects in 15 countries and their current campaign supports NGO partners working in Haiti, Ghana, India, and the Philippines. As they grow, they hope to expand their reach by working with large, international aid organizations.

As the LuminAID has gone from class project to a real relief tool, the pair are more driven than ever to get it into the hands of those in need during disasters. As Sreshta explains, “conditions once the sun goes down can be very unsafe, especially for women and children. After the earthquake in Haiti, there were many cases of violence, kidnapping and rape. Light is a basic human need, but [conventional technology] costs too much to ship and pack as part of disaster relief.” Now, thanks to the work of these two creative innovators, more people will have access to the gift of light during the darkest of times.

To learn more about Anna and Andrea’s invention and how to buy/donate your own LuminAID, visit their website at http://www.luminaid.com/. They can also be ordered via Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/1cC4LcA

For a wonderful book about female innovators and inventors throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women” for readers 8 to 13 at http://www.amightygirl.com/girls-think-of-everything

Or, for younger readers age 4 to 9, we highly recommend “Rosie Revere, Engineer” about an budding young inventor at http://www.amightygirl.com/rosie-revere-engineer

A Mighty Girl also has a section highlighting stories that feature poverty and hardship as a significant theme. Such stories provide opportunities for parents to discuss these topics with their children while also helping to foster children’s empathy for people living in difficult circumstances. Learn more at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/poverty-hardship

And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section at http://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math

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