Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where does the time go?

According to my calendar it is September 23 ... where did the summer go? The last time I posted anything here I was still pruning the trees, and now I am open for the fall apple season. I am amazed at how fast the summer passed! But, for those of you with a vision of me floating down the river on the pontoon with a fishing pole in my hand, or in a hammock reading a steamy novel, I thought I should update you on what the summer brought to the Apple Ranch.

I will start by saying that I have a new found respect for the owners of all those cute and cozy bed and breakfasts! I will admit that over the years I have often eyed aging Victorian beauties and dreamed of transforming them into an amazing B&B. I now realize that I am not up to the task. The months of May, June, July and August brought weekly visitors, as we prepared for the August wedding. As the months passed we jokingly changed the name from the Apple Ranch to the Apple Ranch B&BLD (bed,breakfast, lunch, & dinner, to the Apple Ranch RV Park, to the Apple Ranch Retirement Home & dog park. I am sure there were some guests that felt a more appropriate name might be Bette's Big Stone Lake Work Camp!

Over the summer, and with the help of many hands, there were several transformations! We did some major landscaping to the yards, and with the donation of about a hundred perennials from my neighbors Jon and Floyd Thieman it looks amazing. An arbor was added to the front yard for the bride and groom to stand under. The house now has a second bathroom, which we have talked about adding since we bought the place. The decks were stained a lovely shade of green, the front porch was finally finished, complete with a ceiling fan and a monster fern, the barn was rid of 5 years of excess "stuff", and the orchard was topped, pruned, fertilized and mowed to near perfection. Many thanks are in order ... First to my awesome friend Pam, who not only worked tirelessly every time she came, but also for being my sounding board when things went less than perfect, and to her husband Jerry who let me "borrow" his wife for much of the summer. To Jim Skeffington, father of the bride (yes, my ex) for taking the lead on the bathroom, and spending a couple of weeks here making it happen. (It is AMAZING by the way) To his wife Jan, who not only shared her husband so freely, but even agreed to move some medical treatments to Ortonville so she could be with him. To Kurt and Shae, for doing everything from dock duties, to construction duties, & from lawn work to handyman jobs. There is no one on earth that has better sons! To Jon, my friend/neighbor/tenant/Ranch hand for landscaping, heavy lifting, and always being available to help a damsel in distress. (You have no idea how many things can break in a week) There are more, but we'll get to them when we get to the wedding part.)

So, enough blah, blah, blah from me... On to the pictures, in no particular order:

The trees blossomed the first week in May this year, which is about average. The trees were full and lush with beautiful pink flowers. Then the temperatures fell below freezing for about 10 nights  in a row. The blossoms that normally last about a week stayed around for almost three weeks. I'm still a bit of a novice, so I'm not sure if the problems that followed were due to damage to the blossoms, or the fact that the bees refused to leave their hives. In the end, it doesn't really matter what exactly happened - the end result was that there was very poor pollination, and thus the apples are pretty sparse this year. (It is always something ... next year's problem will probably be an excess of apples)

In May the days were spent doing yard work, gardening, and helping Jon & Floyd pack their belonging . The evenings were devoted to wedding invitation creation. Although in a former life I designed and made invitations on a regular basis, it's been a while, so the project took longer than I expected. I think we were all pretty happy with the end project, so I'll add that to the successful project list.

Those of you that have been to the ranch are familiar with my pal Maizee, a rescue Lab/Retriever mix that came to live with me last October. In June Maizee had a joyful reunion with her sister, who lives with Jon's friend  Scott. (Maizee is on the left) There was no doubt that they recognized each other right away!

I've barely started, but the clock is ticking, and I do have other chore to get done. I'll make a real effort to get back here very soon to show off a few more photos!
Get out and enjoy the fall!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Here ya go ... a ridiculous amount of brads. I just couldn't make myself stop!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Older than dirt ...

Yesterday was my birthday ... whoopee! The highlights of the day were talking to the grand kids! Ava sang me a sweet rendition of Happy Birthday, and Sam demonstrated his counting skills by counting to 58 in multiples! I spent a lot of time on the phone ... literally hours! I talked to or got messages from 9 of the 10 kids, so that's about as good as it gets! Brian & Joann brought me a beautiful batch of fresh asparagus from their garden, and my neighbors Jon and Floyd made me a special birthday dinner and a chocolate cake!
All in all, about as good as it gets! Oh, & I treated myself to a rather splendid trip to Lou's, the local greenhouse. ( I was there for 2 1/2 hours - I'll let you imagine what I spent)
In the digi world, I received the most beautiful card from my friend Mary Hampson, who lives in the UK.
She has been helping me the past few weeks on some technical help with the 3 blogs I was designing, especially the one for the local cancer support group. She is a real genius when it comes to computer stuff, and also a wonderful designer. Check out the 3 blogs and see the amazing blinkies that she created for me!
If you have a blog and want a copy of one of them let me know! I'll help you get it set up!

Believe it or not, the fishing opener has come and gone! Most years it has been a major holiday at my house, but this year it turned into a major work weekend. I can never say enough about my amazing family! The saying "many hands make the load light" hardly begins to cover it! This year I had Shae, (my son), Kurt, (step son & very close friend), Kari, (daughter) & Jim and Jan (ex husband and his wife). And yes, we are all family! Here's a few shots of what was accomplished ...
Dock in -

Trailer loads of branches that I had cut were piled on trailers and burned -

And a couple of shots of the lovely spring flowers that are popping up!

Nearly bedtime here, but I wanted to share a couple of my favorite layouts from the last couple of weeks ...

One about the flood -

One about my love of/ addiction to caffeine

And a few of the Grand kids!

That's it for tonight, but I will sleep better knowing that this poor neglected blog finally has a new entry!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's official ... Spring has sprung!!

Wow ... I am really bad at this whole blog thing! I guess I need to add it to a list somewhere ... comb hair - check, brush teeth - check, write in blog - ya right.
In any case, spring has officially arrived! Yesterday I took 11 wood ticks off Maizee, and 4 or 5 off me - a sure sign that it's spring in Minnesota. The flood waters have finally gone down to an almost normal level, and I guess I need to post some photos of what it looked like around here. I am still counting my blessings that I emerged almost damage free. Kurt came for the Easter weekend and helped me pull the plastic and wet insulation from the basement, and clean everything up with bleach water. Inside all is well - outside, not so much. There is so much debris all over the yard that it will take forever to clean it up! Oh wait - I don't have forever. There's going to be a wedding here in August! So why can't I stop playing on my computer and get to work? (I blame it on Hummie)
It's also pruning season. As always, that's a slow go. We have had a few really nice days, and I can accomplish a lot when it's nice out. But while most of Minnesota has experienced above normal temps and sunshine it's been mostly gloomy and cold here. And wet ... let me repeat that... wet. Even wearing my tallest Wellies I need to change pants 2 or 3 times a day because everything is so soggy and muddy, and I won't even mention what Maizee looks like! My living room looks like a tribe of grade school kids have been building tents. Every possible surface is covered in old blankets and towels, hoping to save what is left of my aging furniture. The folks from HGTV would have a stroke! Ok, back to the pruning ... I was working out a formula. If I could do one tree every 2 hours, x 300 trees, = 600 hours. Oh ... that's not going to work - by then the trees will have bloomed, and have apples on them. ah well ... another year of a lick and a promice.

The ice officially went out on Saturday, about a week earlier than normal. The open water has brought me several new neighbors! I have several pairs of Canadian honkers, and Mallards that must be nesting on the shoreline, because they spend their days gliding back and forth, driving Maizee crazy. I need to do some research and find out how to teach her that the birds are our friends! Before long there will parades of fuzzy babies learning to swim out there, and I would be heart broken if she hurt any of them.

Ok ... it has reached 40, and the sun is shining. I must drag myself out to the orchard! On the bright side, I downloaded South of Broad by Pat Conroy onto my ipod last night, and I am excited to listen to it! (all 21 hours) It's been on my to read list for a long time, but I just keep moving it to the bottom of the pile.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What do you do out there every day?

I know it's hard for people to understand my life right now.  I appear to becoming one of those crazy cat ladies, sans the cats. I rarely leave the house, and except for my nightly visit with Pam, I can go days without even talking to anyone. But right now it suits me, and I know that if the mood strikes me my family and friends are only a phone call or a short drive away.

Normally I am motivated to keep very busy... gardening, doing yard work, pruning, canning, crafting, etc. I always feel like I need to acomplish at least a couple of things everyday. But this month, my motivation seems to have abandoned me. This could be due to the five or more feet of snow on the ground, or maybe because of the nasty fall I took. I didn't mention the fall to many people - it would just give them another reason to say I shouldn't be alone out here. But when my dear friends the Tschetter's heard about it they came to the rescue as usual! Miriam, who happens to be a massage therapist, came over and gave me  a 90 minute deep tissue massage. I will admit that I accused her of using hammers and knives at the time, but the relief was amazing. Two days later, & I almost feel healed. JoAnn came to keep us company, and dear Brian attacked all the nasty ice build up on the sidewalk & porch for me. They even brough me a couple of jars of a special herbal cream for Finn and his poor dry skin! I am so blessed to have such giving friends!

What I have been doing this month is finally trying to learn more about Photoshop Elements. It's the program I use to do my scrapbook pages, and although I know the basics I have wanted to know more for a long time. I subscribed to an online group - Hummie's World a couple of years ago, but at the time we were driving to Willmar everyday for treatments, and there just wasn't time. So this winter I'm giving myself a "get out of work mode" pass, and I'm spending many hours a day trying to teach this old dog some new tricks.
Here are a few examples of what I'm learning :

How to create a "faux" layer mask to extract a photo

A new technique for cutting papers, and using a photo as a background

Using brushes! Always wondered what those dang things did!

Adjusting photos so they match better, using opacity, recoloring grid lines

recoloring papers & elements so you can use them with more photos. (very cool!)

I could go on, but insted I think I'll go make another scrapbook page. How cool would it be to have all the Christmas books done before the orchard blooms this year? (Shhhhhhhhhh ... don't tell anyone!)

So I'm not really much of a blogger ...

So much for good intentions! The blog for the Walk of Hope has been up for a while now, & I'm not sure if anyone even looks at it. And really, why would they? I don't even know if there was a February meeting while I was gone. It's tough getting the news out when you don't have it. Ah well, on a brighter note the facebook cause now has over 80 members. Not too shabby for a months time.
Note to self - quit whining & do something about it.

So, since I last stopped here February 11th has come & gone. I chose to spend a couple of weeks with Shae & Marisa helping out with the kids, knowing that it wasn't a great time to be alone. It was an unremarkable day. There were tears, there were smiles, but mostly just a sense of emptiness that I seem to carry with me. I can't help but wonder if the day will ever come when I will go a whole day without thinking about Jerry, and how much I miss him.

Friday, January 29, 2010