15 September 2017

Feline Friday with Rory in Texas!

 We just returned from a very fun trip to see our daughter in Texas. Although Spouse visited in April, I hadn't been there since Thanksgiving. So it had been a very long time since I'd seen Miss Rory!

 The last time I was there, Rory wasn't too sure about me. But this time, she remembered that we are friends! She was super friendly and gave me a real Texas welcome! :)

 Rory loves going out on the balcony with her harness. Bailey has tried to take her down the stairs and out into the grassy area behind her apartment building, but Rory is afraid to do that. So for now, they stay on the balcony. As you can see, she's taking in all the outdoor smells!

  Look at that little face! And those whiskers!

Rory has quite a wardrobe! (Sadly, I've been ordered not to buy her any more clothes...) If she's running wildly at bedtime, Bailey puts a t-shirt on her and she settles right down. It's like a Thundershirt, but much cheaper!

  Seriously, every time you turn around, Rory is doing something cute. As cats go, she's extremely active. Of course I'm comparing her to Lily, who is extremely inactive. :)

Glamour Shot!

  Bailey brought home the band's tenor drums for repair. Naturally, Rory had to inspect. :)

She's just the most precious kitty and a wonderful companion for our daughter. Love them both to pieces! :)

09 September 2017

Summer Camp Album Project Finished!

For the past few months, I've been trying to work on my humongous backlog of scrapbooking. I've made some good progress on my own projects, but I recently took a break to make an album for my daughter covering the summer she spent as a Unit Director at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan back in 2014. 

In 2013, she was counselor at the same camp and created an album about the experience. That album turned out so well that we bought all the supplies at the time to make the second album. But recently I could see that she just wasn't going to have time to make the album, so I offered to finish it for her. After all, I'm in the business of Getting Stuff Done these days! :)

This ended up being a very fun and interesting project. It was the first time I've made an entire album for something I didn't personally experience! That slowed me down a bit and made the journaling part harder, but it was still a very enjoyable and doable project.

Luckily I had the first album to look back on and I basically followed the same format, starting with a collage on the cover page. I kept the pages simple so I could finish it up quickly and fit as many in the binder as possible!

The first challenge was photos -- or lack thereof. After the camp season ended, I had ordered a set of staff photos as I knew we'd need them for the album. Otherwise, I didn't have any pictures other than the ones I'd taken when we visited for a long weekend.

To make it easier, Bailey uploaded her pictures from her phone and Facebook to a shared folder on Google Photos. She made a few notes on each image and sorted them into logical categories.

When I printed the pictures, I put them in the same order as her folder and used her notes to help with the captions. The album starts with the staff training at the beginning of the summer and then goes through all four camp sessions and breaks. I used tabs (Becky Higgins Project Life dividers) to separate each section.

I made several traditional pages for this 12x12 album and also used a lot of pocket pages of various sizes. Thank goodness for pocket pages! You can fit so many more pictures in an album this way!

Look at this caterpillar they found on a picnic table! Those are not stick-on googly eyes -- that's his real face!

Another challenge: Bailey had a milk crate full of memorabilia from camp which needed to be worked into this project. I sorted through it and pulled out a few (actually a LOT) of pieces to add to the album. This is a piece of artwork made by one of her campers.

You can tell she's her mama's daughter...she saves a LOT of this kind of stuff! She even pulled down the laminated signs from her cabin wall and I added them to the album, too, along with programs, notes, and music.

Working with these photos made it almost seem like I was at camp myself! Can you be homesick for a summer camp you never attended? I think yes!

This project ended up taking me a bit more time than I anticipated, but it was totally worth it to document this wonderful leadership experience. Making this album gave me the opportunity to reflect on how the skills she gained that summer have helped her get off to a great start in her career as a music educator.

 I'm so glad to have this album done for Bailey to enjoy for years to come! :)

08 September 2017

Feline Friday: Boyfriend Calling

Every once in awhile, the Friendly Neighbor Kitty comes calling.

He stays for awhile, too, often nibbling on the catnip I planted just for this purpose.

Over the summer, Neighbor Kitty and I have talked about Lily being an Eligible Bachelorette. Of course, I've explained that he and Lily could only visit through the window.

Neighbor Kitty has taken this notion into consideration, as he would actually rather meet in purr-son. Nope, that's not going to happen, I explained. Safety first! :)

Hmmpf, he grumbled, and trotted away.

After giving the matter considerable thought, back he came. Seems Friendly Neighbor Kitty decided that he could work with a little "window shopping" and was ready to chat with his new girlfriend through the glass.

Lily? Oh, Lily...where for art thou, Lily dearest?

Alas, Lily is playing hard to get. Her busy nap schedule cannot be interrupted, even for the most attractive of suitors!

01 September 2017

Feline Friday with Rory

 Our daughter's kitty, Rory, just couldn't be any sweeter. But she's not a "sit on a pillow" kind of cat. Nope. She's a busy, curious, active kind of cat and because of that, there's never a dull moment!

For example, every day when Bailey gets home from work, the bathroom drawers are open.




It's unclear exactly why Rory's duties include DDP (Daily Drawer Patrol), but she obviously takes her responsibilities very seriously. If the drawer is large enough, she'll even go behind it for further inspection.

When she gets home, Bailey reviews Rory's work (i.e., pushes in all the drawers). :) Of course, Rory is paid for her services with lots of cuddles.

Rory is always on the lookout for additional areas that need her services. No spot is too high for her to reach.

She has super sonic whiskers that allow her to detect areas that need her expert attention!

Aha! Here we see that the shower curtain rod seems to need some closer inspection.
With measuring complete, it's only a matter of time before Rory adds one more duty to her daily patrols! :)

25 August 2017

Feline Friday

 So after last week's Dog Incident, I vowed not to take Lily outside again until she was properly secured. But day after day she was crying at the back door, begging to go out, so I resurrected her old harness to see if it would actually fit. With a little adjustment, it did expand to fit around her neck and chest comfortably -- enough that I felt OK taking her out into the backyard.

 Then I remembered the problem with this harness. It's a small dog harness, making the distance between the neck and the body loops too short. As such, the loop that extends around her body ends up under her arms (yes, I call them arms). :) It's not tight at all, but you can tell it's not super comfortable.

She doesn't walk much in this harness. Of course, she might just be lazy. :)

 Shockingly, Lily even plopped down in the middle of the grass, something she never does!

Then it was back to the cool cement for the rest of our outdoor session.
Just because we go outside doesn't make us outdoorsy! :)

18 August 2017

Feline Friday

First, let me say that Lily and I are both OK. But we had a Big Scare this week, and I learned an important lesson!

Here's what happened:
Early last evening, I took Lily out on her leash for a walk around the yard. She still won't walk much on the grass, so we ended up in the driveway which seems to be her favorite place. She was rolling around on the cool cement and generally enjoying herself so I sat down next to her. We were positioned near the closed garage door with our backs to the street and our view blocked by plants. I was enjoying the moment with Lily, oblivious to the world around us.

Then I heard voices of people walking in front of our house. Lots of people walk by our house and Lily ignores them. We live on a corner lot and often people pass by on their way to the park. 

But in an instant -- and I mean an instant -- everything changed.

I glanced around to see The Biggest Dog I've Ever Seen on the sidewalk at the base of our driveway. He was accompanied by The Smallest Dog I've Ever Seen. Both dogs were on leashes held by small children, with the father trailing along behind. 

For a split second, I thought Lily and I would remain very still (read: FREEZE) and let them pass. Her back was to them, and she seemed not to notice. Lily has encountered dogs before and doesn't seem to get rattled by them.

But then the little boy leading The Biggest Dog I've Ever Seen shouted, "Don't bark at the cat!" which unfortunately was a rallying cry. The dog began barking furiously and lunging up the driveway toward us, resulting in this:

Lily started to run and began jumping wildly, all claws extended and engaged. I was holding her leash, and somehow she dragged me across the cement before I could scramble to my feet. If startled, Lily can slip out of her collar so once I had her in my arms, I hung onto her for dear life.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the little boy and his dad struggling to hold onto the dog, still barking furiously. 

As soon as I had Lily in firm grasp, I ran around the corner and into the safety of the garage as the dad shouted an apology. My quick response was "Oh, no problem! I should have seen you coming!"

Lily ran into the house, collar and leash still attached, and hid under the bed until I offered her a handful of treats. I bandaged my knees and knuckles, scraped raw and bleeding from the cement.

Of course, "Oh, no problem!" was not quite accurate. I don't even want to think about what might have happened if Lily had slipped out of her collar and ran, or if the dog hadn't been restrained. I fear that the sight of a running cat would have been too much for the dog to resist.

I don't fault the people with the dog at all, although I wish the little boy hadn't drawn attention to Lily. I absolutely love dogs, and if Lily hadn't been with me, I very well could have ended up chatting with the them. I'm very grateful that they were successful in keeping the dog restrained.

The fault in this situation is mine. I'm always alert when I'm outside with Lily, watching for loud vehicles and keeping her close to the house. Had I paid attention when I initially heard those voices, I would have seen the dog rounding the corner, and could have immediately picked her up and shuttled her inside. But I let my guard down last night, and it could have ended very badly.  

In addition, I've been planning to buy Lily a new harness since she outgrew her old one, but I just haven't gotten around to it. She needs something she can't slip out of in the event of an emergency like this one. We won't be going outside again until she's properly secured.

Although we're both OK, I'm pretty sure both Lily and I lost one of our nine lives!

13 August 2017

Prairie in August


We are fortunate to have a few areas of prairie running through our neighborhood. The largest area features a path which makes it very nice for an evening walk or bike ride. Over the years, the prairie has undergone restoration by experts and finally the real native Iowa plants are beginning to thrive.

 Each time you walk through the prairie, different flowers are in bloom. You'll see bunnies darting in and out of the protective prairie cover, with birds and butterflies hopping from flower to flower. 

There are weekly prairie walks with a local expert who points out plants of interest, such as this milkweed. There are several species of milkweed thriving in the prairie now, which makes it a perfect stopover for monarch butterflies.

 The leaves on this large plant are cupped and hold water after a rain. You can see birds, bugs, and butterflies stopping by for a sip.

One of my favorite flowers is Queen Anne's lace. It looks delicate but is actually extremely hardy. 

 On our recent walk, I spotted this False Indigo. It was interesting to see it in bloom as I now have one in our garden, along with a few other native prairie plants.

I'll leave you with this thought for the day:

11 August 2017

Feline Friday: Baked Goods Shenanigans

Recently, Spouse and I picked up a raspberry strudel at the grocery store, something which we never do, but it was the weekend and we indulged our sweet tooth (teeth?) just a little bit. When we lived in Chicago, we used to buy strudels quite often. Of course we were younger and smaller then! :)

For some reason, we totally forgot to hide the raspberry strudel from Lily. Within minutes of its arrival, she was up on the counter inspecting it.

 I shamelessly allowed this naughty behavior to continue for a bit because I wanted to see just how far Lily would go. Answer: ALL THE WAY, if allowed!

I watched as she pawed at the plastic cover.....

...and even bit it!

Over the years, she has perfected her arsenal of techniques, allowing her to access most any type of baked goods!

Had I given her enough time, she would have knocked it to the floor in hopes that the lid would pop open to expose all that raspberry goodness. :) As reference, I will point you to the Cornbread Muffins Incident.

After watching for a few seconds, I reminded Lily that she was engaging in naughty behavior and gently removed her from the counter. 

And yes, I did give her just a tiny taste of raspberry strudel, for all of her trouble. :)