Friday, July 31, 2009

Hummingbirds

Mark's mom and step dad have been out of town the past week, so we've been going out there to take care of the cats, and more importantly, the hummingbirds. There are five feeders set up, and the birds consume over two gallons of sugar water per day! There are literally hundreds of hummingbirds out there, zipping and diving all around you as you sit on the porch. I spent some time trying to photograph the experience, but these pictures don't do it justice. They are everywhere!

Here's a video clip from last summer...you can hear the hummingbirds fussing at each other!

video

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Visitors!

We've been lucky enough to have had a couple of visitors recently. After we got back in town from Rochester, Mark's college buddy Chuck Barney, and his family visited St. Louis. The first night we went to Schlafly's Bottleworks, a regular favorite of mine and Mark's, where we had a great dinner. The second night we went to the famous St. Louis "Hill", home of lots of Italian eateries. Chuck and Leslie used to live in STL, and their favorite spot on the Hill was Favazza's, so we joined them there for dinner. I had never been to the Hill, it has just been one of those things we hadn't accomplished yet, but we will definitely go again!

Here's Leslie, me, Mark and Chris at the entrance to Favazza's. Great food!
After Favazza's, we headed to the City Museum. This is a place within the city of St. Louis that is owned by a sculptor. He takes "junk" from within the city limits and has tranformed this 11 story building into a playground for adults and children alike. It is hard to describe...part Tim Burton scenery, part Alice in Wonderland, part The Cat in the Hat, and a lot of other types of fun thrown in. The roof of the building is filled with slides, a ferris wheel, cat walks, and a school bus which hangs over the edge of the building very precariously. Yes, you can go inside the school bus, and even open and shut the doors, although they are safely caged in. Here are Chuck and Leslie at the back side of the school bus. I did go in, but not all the way to the front!

Here we are standing in the fountain at the top of the building.

Here's a two story slide that Mark and Chuck slid down...
Here's Chuck coming out of a claustrophobic's nightmare...it is corridors and rooms that get increasingly smaller the further in you go, and it is all pitch black. I got about halfway in, then bumped my head and decided it was time to back out!
I think the most amazing thing were these "gerbil tubes" that ran throughout the building, inside and out. Some of them were several stories above ground! Mark worked his way through one of them....

City Museum was quite a crazy place to spend an evening, and I can't wait to go back once I'm completely recuperated!

The following night we went to the Cardinals game. Here's a great picture of Pujols up at bat that I stole from Chuck's Facebook posting. I don't have the telephoto lens to catch a shot like this one, but it is definitely on the "wish list!"
Unfortunately, the Cards lost again. I have yet to go to a winning game, and beginning to think I'm a jinx!

The last day of their visit Leslie bailed due to a severe allergic reaction to something (she was pretty miserable during the game, but a great sport about it!), and I didn't figure I was up for all the walking, so Chuck and Mark went and spent the day at the farm. We really enjoyed their visit and are thinking that we will brave the climate of Minot, North Dakota (their home) sometime next July, when there is hopefully no chance of snow!

A few days later, I had an old friend from Warner Robins come into town for a visit. Joyce and I met in fourth grade and were good friends throughout school. We have been in and out of contact through the years, but had reconnected through Facebook. She realized that I was in St. Louis, and let me know when they were headed into town for a visit. We met down at the Arch for the day. She had her twins, Aaron and Jenna, her sister, Mary, and both her parents with her. Her mom is 88, and her dad is 91, and both of them were excited about their opportunity to get to the top of the Arch! We had a great visit, and I am so glad I got the chance to spend time with them! Here's the Arch...I continue to be amazed each and every time I go there for a visit. I have finally gotten past the point of being terrified of the ride up and the height of the arch (although it took many times!), and truly enjoy the vistas.
Here's Joyce, her dad, Aaron, Jenna and Mary getting into "the pod" for the ride up.
And here is the Rutherford clan at the base of the Arch.
I welcome any and all visitors, I love being a tour guide, and learning more about the city with each visitor!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rochester/Buffalo, NY

Mark and I were off again, this time to Buffalo and Rochester, NY. Mark was giving a talk to the University of Buffalo, and we scheduled in a few extra days to visit our friends Mike and Allison. Mark worked with both Mike and Allison years ago, and I've had the pleasure of getting to know them as well. We started straight from the airport to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, the origin of buffalo wings, a favorite of mine. Here we are with our huge plates of wings! I wasn't brave enough to order the suicide wings, but did get the suicide sauce, tried it and lived to tell about it. Mark was brave enough to try the hot wings, and didn't think they were too hot. I'll have him eating fresh jalapenos before too much longer!
The next day we went to the Homearama, similar to the Street of Dreams that they have in Atlanta. It is a cul de sac of McMansions, decorated to the extreme, supposedly to give you ideas for your own homes. Lots of pretty things, but the one thing that got to me was this stenciled phrase in one of the largest homes....While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.... Who are they kidding??!! The whole idea of the show was for you to buy more things!

Conveniently placed in front of one of the homes was Ronald McDonald, and of course, we just couldn't resist... Mark ordered in lobsters from Bar Harbor, Maine for dinner that night. We did that last year and it was such a blast! Doesn't Dr. Mark look like such a happy camper, lobsters in hand?
Trying to figure out if we're eating boy lobsters or girl lobsters....can you tell they are all scientists??!
Allison has an entire collection of lobster themed tabletop items she brought out for the occasion. It is so festive! Here's some pretty fuschia blossoms from a plant on her deck...gorgeous! This colt was born just a day or two before we got there on a farm close to their house...we kept driving by to look at it, it was soooo cute!

The next day we had a leisurely lunch Aladdin's, a restaurant on the Erie Canal. We were able to eat on the porch, but I needed my sweater.
Here's a view of the Canal from the walkway outside the restaurant. Then we headed into the Finger Lakes region of NY to do some wine tasting. Such a scenic drive!Rooster Hill winery....I really liked their rooster statue! Enjoying the wine and scenery!
That evening we took Mark back to Buffalo to begin his two day visit with the med school. He actually bought a shirt and tie, although I wasn't quick enough to get his picture in it! I went back to Rochester with Allison and Mike, and the next day Allison and I had a fun day of shopping for countertops, tile, and other things for home decorating. The idea of building a house is getting more overwhelming everyday!
Allison brought me back to Buffalo in the evening, and the next day I was on my own...always dangerous! I decided to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but the only one open for touring that day was a ways from the hotel, but no problem, they were happy to order up a limo for me. It ended up not being a cheap ride! (And that's all I'll have to say about that...)

This is Graycliffs, a house built as a lake home for the Darwin Martin family (unfortunately, I don't think we are related!). They also had a FLW home in the city of Buffalo. This house is still undergoing renovation. The exterior is completed, but the interior and landscaping is still being worked on, and I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside. Here's a view from the front, coming in on the drive...the house on the right is the guest house, the main house is in the shadows of the trees.

The left side of the main house A view of the water feature from the front door looking out onto the pond.
The downstairs is almost entirely glass, with windows and doors staggered along both sides.


The back of the house from the edge of the cliffs.

A view of Lake Erie from the back yard of the house.
And a picture of the stair tower that went from the top of the cliffs down to the beach. There were 87 stairs from the house to the beach below!
Mark and I met back up at the airport for the flight home. It was thankfully uneventful until we were told that we would be delayed because Air Force One was taking off from STL, and we had to wait until it was out of our airspace. We got bumped by the President throwing out the first pitch for the All Stars game. It was nice to finally get back home!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Arkansas/Fourth of July

Two days after my surgery, we went to the doctor for a quick post op check, then we were headed to Lake Norfork in Arkansas. Ryan and his family came from that area, and they gather there every year for the Fourth of July. It was a chance for us to not travel so far and be able to see Sara, Ryan, Emery and Hailey, as well as join in their celebrations. We had a blast! The only regret is that I could not get in the water due to my stitches, but I enjoyed hanging out on the dock, visiting and watching everyone else have fun. Ryan's mom, Nancy, had head cook duty, but I helped when I could. She did a wonderful job keeping us well fed! Here's Mark and me waiting for dinner outside in the picnic area.

The Many Faces of Emery
Of course, when I'm with Emery, it is non stop picture taking. She's so fun to photograph!! She doesn't do the typical thumb sucking baby thing, but tries to stuff her entire hand into her mouth. I think if she keeps it up, she will soon be successful!
Sara had this same pouty expression as a baby. It came from her paternal great grandmother, Mattie Horne, and seems to be carrying through for several generations.
Emery also inherited excessive drooliness from her mom and uncle. I'm not sure which side of the family that came from, but she (and they) always had a trail of drool behind them. Here's a picture of her in action.Emery loves to be entertained!
Peaceful baby sleeping. She is an expert sleeper!
After the first day on the dock, Mark and Ryan got bath duty. Emery didn't seem to mind the kitchen sink at all!

We then headed to Fred's, the local catfish eatery. Gotta have catfish while in Arkansas, and Fred's is a great place to get it!The second day on the lake, we got a boat ride. Lake Norfork is a beautiful lake, run by the Corp of Engineers, which limit development on the lake. Lots of great shoreline, unblemished by houses, docks and people.
While on the boat ride, we went to the bluffs, a favorite jumping spot. Mark promised to jump, but thankfully Troy and Ryan decided to join him. I was pretty sure he was safe, but felt better that they were in the water to rescue him if not!
Before the jump...its a long way down!!Ryan first....
Then Troy....
Last but not least...Mark. This was one moment I was thankful for the stitches, as Mark would have tried to get me up there as well otherwise!
A jubilant Mark after getting back safely in the boat.
The rest of our time was spent just hanging out on the dock.
Here we are with Ryan's parents, Donny and Nancy. I can't think of two better people to share a grandchild with!
Emery making friends with her second cousin, Allie.
Emery really enjoyed being in the water. Nancy enjoyed being in there with her!
Poor Hailey wasn't allowed on the boat dock. She did a great job of spending her time in her momma's car, peacefully content. Ryan and Sara let her out often to swim, and she enjoyed her time in the water.
There was quite a fireworks show put on the evening of the Fourth. All the guys get together and buy out the local fireworks store, then they put on the show. It was better than the city fireworks we had driven to the night before!