Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's Official

Yup, it's official.
We're too big to fit into the overhead bin and must be checked through as luggage.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Favorite socks.

Nice, big glass.

A little splash of Bailey's over ice.

And a little extra cream, because it's better that way.

Mmm yeahhhhhh.
Grandma loves her calcium.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yeee Hawwwwwww

Thanksgiving Eve and it's snowing right now..........but just a week ago it was sunny and breezy, perfect weather to hit the trail and get a little dust on our jeans. So my lil' cowgirl pardner, Miss V and I pulled on our boots and headed down the road to Rich and Sally's place where we found the fine and friendly pony, Socks, saddled up and ready to go.

She jumped into the mini- saddle like a pro, stuck her boots in the stirrups and off we went.

Any seasoned cowpoke will tell you, it's all about you and the horse. When you swing into the saddle there is a communication between rider and horse that requires no words.

Her grin pretty much says it all.

Although astute observations are occasionally shared.
"Grandma. There sure is alot of big poop out here."

Yup, honey. That's why we wore our boots.
But isn't it a fine day to be a cowgirl.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wings and Things

I promised Victoria a day of Lego's, Play-Doh, blocks and making cool stuff with snippers, stickers and stamps but suggested that if she would trust Grandma, I had something extra fun in mind for the morning. With a stash of crayons and a sippy cup of apple juice handy, we buckled ourselves in and headed up the road a bit to the Reiman Gardens Butterfly Pavillion in Ames.

It was our first visit. What a cool place to hang out on a cold morning!

The Pavillion is a domed, high-ceiling sort of botanical center with tall, exotic tropical plants and a diverse resident army of butterflies of every size, color and shape. As you approach the building from the outside you can see them flying around inside amongst the treetops but their flitting images beyond the glass are only the gentlest of hints as to the magic that lies beyond the pavillion doors.

This is Mr. Shaw.

Mr. Shaw is a docent at the pavillion, knowledgeable in all things winged and fluttery. Before one can enter the pavillion there is a short list of rules that all visitors must review. Entrance to the world of butterflies is through a lock system of two sets of doors. In addition to the safety of curious and wandering butterflies, the door system is a security feature required by the FDA. Apparently some exotic little butterflies can carry exotic little things out into the world on their little wings and feet.

But don't feel bad for them. Life as a butterfly at the Reiman Gardens Butterfly Pavillion is pretty sweet.

Here is where it begins.

When you first enter the buildings, there are several butterfly nurseries behind huge plates of glass where you can stand and observe all sorts of cocoons and chrysalises (chrysalii???) in various stages of development. There were several butterflies hatching at the time of our visit.

Butterflies are seemingly peace-loving, harmonious creatures as the various species are hatched in common nurseries. Apparently the main thing on the butterflies mind, once hatched, is to spread it's wings and grab a bite to eat.

This fabulous giant moth hadn't reached his full wing capacity yet. Most of his neighbors had long since hatched and found their way into the pavillion where they were enjoying the plants and some nice sunlight from the windows.

And long, cool drinks.

The pavillion is a magic place for a wide-eyed 3-year old.

The larger the butterfly, the more trusting they seemed. While the tiniest residents flitted around like sparks on the 4th of July, the larger species seemed quite comfortable with close inspection. While we were not allowed to reach out and touch the butterflies, lest we damage their powder-coated wings, it is permissible to let them land on you and, when coaxed by a docent, they even feel safe and content enough to sit for a time on a tiny finger.

The butterflies have a great life in the place. Overhead misters keep their habitat warm and steamy. Down amongst the plants and flowers is a small pond and random watering dishes.

Cool use for a scrubbee, huh??


The butterflies are obviously healthy and happy in their little world. Entertaining and even comical in the way they flit and dance throughout the place, I raised my camera several times to get a group shot-----but the little things just move too darn fast and are perfectly camouflaged against the variety of plants and flowers.

There are at least 15 butterflies in this picture, if you click on it and see it larger, you can see some of them more clearly.

But the best way is to see them up nice and close, something you can easily do inside the confines of the pavillion.

We stayed for a long, long time.
Holding the attention of a little person for that long is a credit to the entertainment skills of the butterflies. For those who tire in the heat or just want to sit and enjoy the color bursts around them, there are cozy benches throughout the pavillion.

But some of us were just too busy checking out all the pretty wings to sit in them.

It's hard to beat Lego's and a great collection of stamps and stickers at Grandma's house, but I think the visit ranked right up there with good stuff we'd definitely like to do again.
"How was the butterfly house?" Daddy asked when he got home from work.
Victoria told him it was a great idea.

Me and my Grandma spent alot of time looking up.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I have two roomates.

I gave birth to one of them 25 years ago. She's cute as heck and lots of fun but pretty much rarely seen in person, with the occasional wrinkled towel or missing bottle of Frappuccino as the only tangible evidence of her actual existence.

The other one was born some years later on a Marine Corps base in Virgina and came to me via short stops at Camp Pendleton in California and an old brothel-turned apartment in Kansas City, Missouri. Yeah, Mr.Binks the Cat has led a pretty interesting life. The two of them are great friends.

The subject today is the health of Mr.Binks, specifically his runny nose and sneezing. The physical symptoms developed this spring. I was worried and dutifully took him to the vet. After the expected pokes and prods, the vet confirmed Mr. Binks had allergies or perhaps a virus, neither of which would be cured by any drug. The diagnosis and conclusion took about 5 minutes.

We were trapped in the vets office for another 20 minutes as he sternly lectured me on the state of Mr. Binks physical presence, specifically his girth and weight of some 23 pounds. Clearly, he implied, without specifically accusing me, you are guilty of overfeeding Mr. Binks and he needs more exercise.

Well don't we all.

I took his advice to heart and agreed to the suggestion of my children that perhaps the answer was to invite a younger and more soulful, playful and energetic roommate into our home as a companion for Mr. Binks. So we got a kitten. Adorable. Playful. Energetic. Just what the Dr. ordered. All of us envisioned that the hours that I am gone for work each day would be hours of endless play and excercise for Mr. Binks. Yes, the pounds would melt away, he would be long-lived and all would be well.

I can't deny that the two of them were cute as heck together.

They actually looked like father and daughter. After the first few hours of hesitation and hissing, it really seemed like the whole thing might have been a great idea. There were a few cute and cuddly moments.

But they were precious few.

Over a period of 2 weeks the new little kitten went about doing what little kittens do. Running, jumping, climbing, hopping (like a rabbit, that is why I named him Bunny)and generally frothing up mayhem around the place until Mr. Binks was just about driven to the edge. Mr. Binks hates to have his tail touched. Bunny the Kitten discovered this and spent hours and hours each day hanging from it. She waited until he was sound asleep and then would pounce on his fat tummy, an activity that she clearly found delightful enough to repeat over and over. He was not quite so amused and after a week or so, he started hissing. Eventually I heard a few little help-me squeals from the furry Ninja-kitty and I knew Mr. Binks had endured enough of wearing hanging kittens as some kind of ornament.

Bunny the Kitten did not discriminate in her play and hung also from Sara and I. From our ears as we slept, from the backs of our heads as we tried to watch tv. She stalked us from beneath chairs and left multitudes of tiny scratches and bites all around our ankles. I showed up at work one morning looking like I'd been on a date with Edward Scissorhands. My hands, wrists and arms were a maze of scratches all of which matched nicely, the scratches on my neck, cheeks and ears. Both Sara and I took to sleeping completely under the blankets with our heads wrapped and covered in self-defense.

I don't understand it. Years ago I had a houseful of kids, cats, dogs and a variety of other furry things in cages. I went about my business, did the laundry, cooked dinner, got everyone off to seemed to work.

Not sure why it worked then and it doesn't now, but I know one thing for sure. It doesn't. Bunny the Kitten went back to live with her furry little brothers and sisters. I wish her well and bet she'll grow up to be a really swell grown-up cat.
Just not on my watch.

The dilemma then to engage Mr. Binks in some sort of aerobic activity and shed a few of those pounds the vet is so worried about. How, I had asked him straight-out, do you get a sleeping cat off the couch and into an excercise program?? Just pick him up and throw him on the treadmill????

I'm not sure we've found the final answer, but I bought Mr. Binks a new buddy that he seems to like alot. And the cool thing is that his new buddy doesn't hang off his tail, hang from my nostril while I'm trying to sleep or bite Sara's toes when she's walking up the stairs. He doesn't fight at all.

I'm no veterinarian nor expert, but I highly recommend a floating scouring pad in the sink as a great (and cheap!) companion.

Mr. Binks still has a girth-problem.

But he is blissfully happy as the sole and reigning King of the House.