Time warp: November edition

Weasley is still adorable. When he is not running around like a maniac, he enjoys sleeping on the sofa or one of the many beds upstairs.

Cleo is still plump and this picture amuses me. Those boxes are still not unpacked and Cleo is going to be really grumpy when I finally get around to seeing what's in them (the labels say 'knick knacks' hence why they're still not open).

It snowed a little bit, and didn't last long. This was obviously before I'd finished cleaning up the container gardens for the season. I've since taken care of those and stashed the pots in the garage for next year.

Another shot of the snow, and some of the leaves were still on the trees. Those have since fallen, and I've raked everything into an impressive leaf pile behind the swing set.

This is not my cat. I went to Austin TX for the annual ESA meeting and got to hang out with Brooke, Christian and their cats. I'd heard so much about Donny and Zoey that I definitely wanted to meet them before I left.

This is my cat. Cleo is enjoying the new cat tree that lives in Josh's office. She is especially fond of the cat hut on the third level.

Kerry sent us delicious Swiss chocolate!

Weasley on the little table in the kitchen. It's a good thing he's cute.

More cat hut, this time with Weasley.

The dining room is finished!

When my parents were here in September, they finished painting the dining room for us. I finally made a decision about what kind of rug to get for under the table (Flor carpet tiles in grey Mod Cow), and we put the room back together.

There are only two chairs at the table, because if we put the rest of them there Cleo and Weasley have too many ways of getting onto the table while we're eating. They have terrible manners.


Kitten updates!

Weasley was cleared for integration into the regular population back in early September, and he's been terrorizing Devo and Cleo ever since.

One of his first meetings with Devo, while he was still in bathroom quarantine.

We let him have extended play time in Josh's man-cave when we got home from work. Turns out, Weasley loved attacking socks.

Weasley discovered the joys of sleeping on the sofa.

Cat TV!

Devo is a good pillow when he's not being bitten.

Cat TV again. This is from the end of September and you can see how much bigger he's gotten.

'What? No, I was not just biting his face.'

Weasley stole my fork.

And finally, getting into some packing peanuts.


Don't all fairs come with free kittens?

Yesterday, as part of my job, I drove down to Mission for the Todd County Fair. The weather was awesome (especially for August in South Dakota), and I loaded up the car with insect nets for the kids program. The fair was tiny, but full of the regular fair activities - petting zoo, snow cones, 4H exhibits. There were a few things that I hadn't seen in quite a while, like the cake walk. I think the last cake walk I experienced was in elementary school.

I brought home a ton of cool insects to add to my work collection (giant robber flies, a lubber grasshopper, lots of other grasshoppers, what I think is a velvet ant - the kids did a good job).

There were also free kittens.

I know. No kitten is ever actually 'free.'

This one came home with me.
This is Weasley. I'll be calling the vet on Monday to get him an appointment to make sure that he checks out health-wise, and get him started on his shots. Currently, he's living in the downstairs bathroom with the claw-foot tub. He's maybe 4-5 weeks old, so he's pretty dang tiny.

Devo, on the left, for scale.
Obviously, I wasn't planning on adopting a kitten yesterday but he was in for a tough life in Todd County assuming he avoided the fates of some of his litter mates (unfortunate run-ins with water and dogs). He did well on the car ride home, and stayed in his box as long as my hand was in the box too. For being the progeny of outside cats, he is super friendly and has an incredibly loud purr for his size.

This is also the smallest cat I've ever taken care of. Cleo was about 4 months old when I got her, so she could already handle stairs. Devo was an adult (and now he's a grumpy old man). For being so young, Weasley does already have a handle on the whole litter box thing which is awesome.

Devo is trying to pretend that none of this ever happened.



Well, so much for July.

I spent quite a bit of time on the road last month for both work and a short vacation. For work, I went to Sioux Falls, Brookings, and Rapid City for a combination of Youth Gardening and Master Gardener workshops. If you're every in Brookings and it's a time of year when things are blooming, definitely stop and visit McCrory gardens. We had a Master Gardener training there and it was so easy to find perennials to talk about and not at all hard to find bees and other pollinators.

After over 6 months of living in South Dakota, I made the trek back to PA for my sister's baby shower. The flights out weren't too bad - I went from an exceptionally tiny Buddy Holly plane in Pierre, to an actual large 7something, back to a smaller regional plane into MDT. Flying into MDT never gets old, because someone (usually a kid) will always ask their parents if that really is Three Mile Island. Yes, yes it is.

PA was delightfully lush and I hit a stretch of days that were cool and mostly not humid. The gardens at my parents' house, Tudek, and Kerry's were all jungle-sized, or at least far bigger than anything I can grow in South Dakota.

My trip was packed full of things to do, including a road trip to Lancaster to see Jess and Garrison Keillor. We caught his summer tour at the American Music Theater and had a blast. Somewhere in picture #7 we're in the mezzanine section forgetting the words to 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.' Like I was going to remember the line about trampling through the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

Now, I'm off to Saint Paul, MN for a meeting that conveniently coincides with the other ESA. This will be my first time in MN outside of the MSP airport.


Rapid City highlights

I finally made it to Rapid City!

My parents came with me and did some touristy things while I attended the North Central branch meeting, but I did have time in the evening to go out with them and visit things like the best real fake dinosaurs:

The dinos have a great view.
We found the highest concentration of graffiti in South Dakota:
You have no idea how surprised I was to find a Tardis and a Dalek.
We visited Prairie Edge and I bought three clay chickens and ogled the Italian glass bead display:
They were so well organized!

All beads.
I also had the best strawberry pie that I've ever encountered at the Colonial House restaurant:
Imagine Way's strawberries cut up and swimming in fresh, homemade strawberry jam in a flaky pie crust. I'm pretty sure this would win at Memorial Day.
We also saw Mt. Rushmore, but that deserves it's own post.

Home improvements: Dining room edition

I've been working on redecorating the downstairs, beginning with the dining room. This picture will explain why I'm starting here:
Pink walls and green wallpaper. The white stripe is the only thing that's left of the chair rail.
The dining room has two stained glass windows, and I'm using them as inspiration for the room. I already painted the accent wall indigo (which matches all of the indigo shirts I own). Josh was nice enough to remove the chair rail for me, which was really awesome because it turned out to be attached to the wall with 3.5 inch deck screws.
The evening of the Fourth, I decided it was time for the wallpaper to die, so I peeled off the top layer. Today's mission is do remove the rest of the wallpaper, wash the walls, and spackle the holes left by the three painted over drywall anchors.

I ordered carpet samples from Flor, and we're going to pick out some for a rug in the dining room and also in the living room. We need something to go under the new coffee table.
Note Devo on the small sofa, melting into his usual spot. I don't know why I keep calling it a sofa when it's really Devo's own giant kitty bed.


Because I can't resist fruit in bulk, I contributed for a case of peaches with this week's basket.
This is most of the case. There were only two peaches that had to be sacrificed to the compost gods.
The rest of the peaches, plus some of the other fruit from the basket. Yes, those butternuts are from about a month ago.
You are not a peach.


Cat curls

Step 1: Acquire a Cleo.

Step 2: Lift the Cleo.

Step 3: Make a Cleo beard.


The mythical exterior shot of the house

So this is the front of the house.

And this is Josh after he snapped the spatula handle off while helping to make scones.

The day of planting many things

Today I planted native perennials in a butterfly garden at the Oahe Downstream Recreation area. Mom and I also went to the local greenhouse and bought more plants to beautify the large, raised bed garden on the south side of the house, and the former sand pit by the back door. I really should have taken some better 'before' shots, because then you would appreciate the 'afters' even more.

The south garden. It doesn't look like much from here, but before it was full of  tall weeds and at least two year's worth of grass. Dad was digging out the clumps of turf and transplanting them to bare spots in the lawn.
One half of the garden is for the perennials that we discovered while weeding (some Sweet William and a milkweed) and I added in some herbs (parsley, basil, and dill).

This is the super spiky yucca plant. It's quite happy there and I have no intention of moving it.

A close up of the Sweet William. Apparently, every time Dad tries to grow it in PA it gets eaten by slugs. It's generally too dry for slugs in South Dakota and I am totally OK with that.

The other half of the garden has some vegetables (kale, swiss chard, and zucchini). This area gets what I think amounts to full sun over the course of the day so I'm trying out the veggies here to see what happens.

This is essentially the sidewalk before...
And this is the sidewalk after. There was a disintegrating sidewalk here and a pile of pavers by the garage. Dad used the pavers to build a new sidewalk over the old one and it looks a lot better.

We took two planters full of sand and cigarette butts and  made them planters again. This one has varieties of Coleus and lives on the front porch.

This was the sand pit. We added more soil, a flat of Portulaca, and the second planter to spruce it up.

I put this planter together with live wire grass, geraniums, and something called Persian shield.

The garden snail actually has a decent domain to watch over.

This is another planter I made that lives on the back deck.  At this point I don't remember everything that's in there but the grass is baby King Tut, there's a Medusa ornamental pepper and lots of Lobelia.

Mom made this planter with succulents. It will live behind the kitchen sink during the winter.

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for their help beautifying the outside of the house. Not many people take gardening vacations, but I'm glad they did.