Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Visitors!

We were blessed with more visitors this past weekend.  Mark's friends from Rochester, Mike and Allison, came for the weekend.  They were Mark's friends first, but I definitely count them on my friend list as well!  Mark picked them up at the airport Friday night, and I drove into St. Louis and we met up at Mark's lab for a great view of the Balloon Glow.  It was less than ideal picture taking conditions, but I was able to squeak this one in.  Note the Energizer Bunny and the Bud beer bottle hot air balloon!  We then headed to Schlafly's Bottleworks for a great dinner and then a long, LATE drive home.  I was very happy that Allison was keeping me company in the car.
The next morning we headed to Onondaga State Park for a cave walk.  Mark and I went there once, years ago and remembered it as being impressive.  This time we were really impressed!  My camera did a great job of capturing that cave feeling, and I was able to get away with not using a flash for many of the pictures.

That evening we headed to Wenwood Winery, which is in a very picturesque river valley. It is an old dairy farm off a long dirt road.  They have turned the milking barn into a music stage and have great outdoor seating.  We were able to watch a passing storm with lots of lightning effects off in the distance and music playing in the background.  Good times!
The next morning we headed out early because there was a flashlight tour of Cathedral Cave, also at Onondaga.  I was better able to photograph the bats (because there were more of them!), but the rest of the photography was only limited to flash, and not as impressive.  Cathedral Cave was great because we were much closer to the cave formations, and having only flashlights was a really cool way to tour a cave! 

And on the way back to the car I found some really pretty dogwood leaves starting to put on a fall show.
Later that afternoon we took a long hike around the property.  Mike and Allison are both photography enthusiasts, so they were very patient with me as I did my endless snapping.  (Mark is very good about that, as well!).  We found a coral fungus...
a silly toad that seemed to think it was his portrait day....I must have taken twenty or more shots while he didn't move a bit!
some adorable little mushrooms...these were no bigger than a matchstick!
some wonderful fall asters...
a gorgeous butterfly, who again decided it was portrait day and he should be cooperative...
and lastly, some pretty little moth who was hanging onto some dead Queen Anne's Lace.  He was also being very cooperative until Lucy came along and scared him off!  The animals were being very agreeable with me on this day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Nifty Keen Housewarming Gift!

Mark Haskins and Becky Craik sent us this very cool houswarming gift.  It is a fancy weather station, and we are loving it!  It does wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, time, temperature (with wind chill and dew point) and humidity.  I know more about my current environment than I ever have before!
I had to add this photo because we also got these rocks from Mark and Becky.  Many of the houses in Philadelphia are made from this type of stone, and it has flecks of mica in it that make it sparkly.  I thought it was very pretty and Mark mentioned that they had had some work done in the basement and some of the stones in his basement were removed and in his back yard.  My Mark told him how I collect rocks from places we have been and he offered to let us take some home.  We went out there with a flashlight and picked two rocks off of the top of the pile, put them in my trunk and carried them to SC, then home!  They found their perfect spot on the porch to reflect the sunlight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busy Bees

Mark has been a busy bee these past few weeks.  I've teased him about being an Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going and going and....

First outdoor project was placing cedar logs to edge the driveway.  In the course of cutting the monster logs for the porch posts, we ended up with a few extra.  Mark also had to cut several for the clearance for the power line to the house.  So, in an effort to put them to good use, he decided they would be nice to "edge" the driveway (don't most people just use bricks?).
Next project up was moving the huge boulders that were left in our front yard after construction.  Mark decided to build cairns with them, only slightly larger than your typical cairns!  These make a nice entry way into the one day more landscaped area of our yard.
Then for Labor Day we tackled the garage, one more time!  I WISH I had gotten a picture of it when it was totally packed full of boxes, furniture, doors, windows, appliances and all the things that have slowly worked their way into our house.  We felt we were ready to do the final clean out, at least until springtime.  Several boxes made their way into the basement for further organizing, and other things made their way into the basement because the mice have already started moving into the garage and I didn't want blankets, photos or books shredded by nesting mice.  Most things have finally found a home in the house, in a place where they will be used or admired.  We have taken a large load to Goodwill after we had moved it to the house, but I guess that is to be expected.  I still have a huge pile of school stuff in the basement as well.  Most is specific to elementary or to special ed, so it isn't pertinenet to my current job.  Since I'd like to get back to elementary and/or special ed, I'm not ready to get rid of much of it at this time though.  I have no plans to show pictures of the mess in the basement!  The garage is now ready for Mark to build his workbench, and I think he's out buying lumber as I type so he can start this next project!
My favorite of his recent projects has to be the bookcases!  We realized we had both given away all of our bookcases before we moved out here.  We also got rid of a lot of books, but we are both book fans, so they have already started accumulating.  With no bookcases in the house, books were some of the last items left in the garage, but we quickly decided where we wanted bookcases in the loft.  Mark has built these shelves on both sides of the loft, and while I think we will need more book space, this is a great start!  I love the open backs on them, but Mark is wanting to put a back on the shelves.  We are going to live with them open for awhile before we decide.
While he's been working hard on this multiplicity of projects, I've been trying to get used to my new job, reading curriculum, grading papers and the other daily stuff of life.  However, Saturday morning I did get busy and finally mounted some photos in the house, which was a big excitement for me!  I want to have photos in places, but honestly haven't quite figured out what type of photos and where.  This was one spot that we decided could be "busied" up with a wall collage.  While all these photos won't be staying in this spot, they will definitely have a frame somewhere in the house.  I need to buy more photo prints, especially in the larger sizes for this wall.  I do feel like I got a good start though!