Every Day Life

It seems as though I only get posts done any more of vacation and travel. I assure you that is not all that I’ve done the past year or more!

Let’s see … a few highlights of the past few months.

I. My family was home for Thanksgiving. We ate our meals in our mom’s garage. We were thankful for beautiful weather where we could do this with the doors open.

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I found an idea on Pinterest that I used for the centerpiece. It’s a little hard to have a center piece with tables set up like this so we set up a card table in the center. The pumpkin is a little big for the size of the flower arrangement but otherwise I was pleased with it.

The flowers came from a local florist. Most florists will sell flowers by the pack or stem if you want to arrange them yourself (or if you’re like me and usually only want a few or have waited until the last minute to look for anything). Some grocery stores carry beautiful seasonal flowers but the 2 we have here don’t have a very good selection for a varied bouquet.

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The jars for the candles came from HERE. I wanted them in time for a supper we host (See more info below).
My nephew is a pilot so we were able to enjoy an afternoon of flying over the local area.

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There was, of course, a necessary stop at Cafe Euro on our way to the airport!

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Along with volleyball, we played this game. I don’t remember what it’s called … Air 4-Square? 🙂

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One afternoon we helped my sister and her family do some cleanup around the house they bought. They usually host a wiener roast over a fire at our winter family gatherings so we ate at their place. My 2 oldest brothers were in charge of them the meal featuring their favorite cooking methods … Dutch oven and grills.

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Pineapple upside down cake. So yummy!!

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II. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, the companies I work for hosted the 4th annual apprecation supper at our facility for the local public safety officials/employees (police, sheriffs, fire depts, EMS, Air Evac, etc.). My co-worker and a committee do all the planning and other businesses sponsor the food and money for door prizes. If you want to bless your local officials, this is a fun way to do it. And they are always so appreciative.

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III. December is usually a busy month but since our family was together in Nov, I didn’t need to prep for that. Also, I design a calendar for church and for work I managed to get that done right before Thanksgiving too. Maybe I should’ve waited a little because I found a few errors. Grr! Double-checking and triple-checking doesn’t always find them. It was fun to be able to have time to help my sister and her family with some painting at their “new” house. They have done a lot of work to the house and it is fun to watch the transformation!

IV. We had a little quieter Christmas with a few siblings coming in from out of town plus local family. The week between Christmas and New Year I spent on Tybee Island. That deserves a post of it’s own!

V. January at work brings a lot of end-of-year things. Such as:
Getting out W2s for one company, payroll related forms (quarter and annual) for one company, 1099s for 4 companies (all under the same roof), annual corporation renewals for the same 4 companies, business license renewals for 2 companies, sales tax reporting for 1 company.
I’m always afraid I will forget one of them. I think this year I’ve got everything done on time, although as I was putting 1099s in envelopes last week I said, “Why do at the beginning of the month, what you can dread doing all month?!!” 🙂 Yes, I suffer from acute procrastination.

VI. I got to spend a weekend in Pinecraft, FL with a couple of friends. The oddity of Amish in paradise, as it were, (since beauitful, tropical city of Sarasota feels a bit like paradise) always cracks me up. I was as touristy as the next person, walking to Dutchmans for an early supper of Amish dressing/turkey/pot roast/dinner rolls, then strolling to Big Olaf’s that night for some ice cream. I will say this, though, driving to Long Boat Key and finding a quiet public beach access is more my speed than the busy Siesta Key beach. If you’re not familiar with Pinecraft, here is an interesting page to read: http://amishamerica.com/visiting-pinecraft/#contread
This is the first time I saw the battery powered 3-wheeled bikes (trikes? for some reason I only think of tricycles as a child’s small trike. I guess that is the correct term though for the big ones as well.). I was crazy seeing people humming along busy Bahia Vista street on these things.

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Waiting for the Pioneer Trails busses to come in.

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I made shrimp and grits for Sunday lunch.

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Oops! There was more travel pictures! 🙂

Montana – Part 4 – Thompson Falls

The last few days of our trip were spent in Western Montana. One of my dear friends from my days at Northern Youth Programs, Lisa, and her family live in another beautiful part of Montana. The live in a valley between two ridges. As we approached their area, we began noticing more and more dear. It was dusk Sunday evening when we arrived and the dear were everywhere!!

Backing up a bit …

Leaving the Fairfield area, we enjoyed the views of the light covering of snow that was quickly melting.

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Heading southwest we went through an area where houses are few and far between. Lois mentioned that she feels like she might be on the moon. I totally agreed.

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The closer we got to the Roger’s Pass at Continental Divide, the patchier the snow was.

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Until we started climbing to Roger’s Pass, the snow was thick and wet!

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There was pretty much a beauty overload the whole trip!

Check out the overpass below. It is for wildlife to cross the road.

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We could see a little smoke hanging in the air to the west.

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Our only full day in Thompson Falls area, Lisa took us around to see the local area, something both Lois and I love doing!

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There was a lot of vibrant colors in the towns!!

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It was quite amazing to us to see all of the wildlife just wandering around town. How would you like to eat a picnic lunch at the park, surrounded by these?

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Lisa had to drop something off for a friend, and there was a buck in a yard down the street.

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We took a walk on over the area where the hydro dam. We noticed several Bald Eagles flying nearby.

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I noticed an eagle dipping down toward the water and it was one of those moments that I was glad had my camera ready!! You can see the fish toward the bottom left of the photo. I didn’t notice it until I was editing the photos.

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He flew off to enjoy his spoils and soon there was a group of crows around him, offering him help with eating it.

Lisa’s friend, Sadie, invited us over for supper and apple cider making … brewing … pressing. Yeah, that’s it, pressing. I guess that’s how you say it. Either way, we made apple cider after supper. It was an interesting and delicious experience!

The setting of their place is amazing!! This view is from their back porch.

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And they, also, have deer wondering around the place.

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Sadie tried to get the buck to come closer but the extra people around made him a little skittish.

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The cider was SO good!! Here’s a photo of the biggest and smallest apple I could find from the boxes we were processing. This was an off year for Lisa’s trees.

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I wish I could’ve been out during a time when the Milky Way was at the best viewing location. I think this happens in the spring/early summer for the US. This is only a fraction of the Milky Way. The lack of light pollution in the west makes it a great spot to see a maximum number of stars.

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On our way out the next day, I finally saw some bighorn sheep grazing near the road.

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The ladies took us to one more hot springs in Paradise, MT. You can find out more info here: Quinn’s Hot Springs. This has a total of 5 outdoor pools, most of them only a few degrees apart, except for the one pore-closing, hair-standing-on-end one that gripped it’s icy fingers around your ankles (me) or your neck (my cousin Anne who shrieked her way through a dip every once-in-a-while).

(Photo from Visit Montana.com)


We flew out of Missoula, relaxed, rested up, and ready to get back home (for the most part). If a vacation feels like it could/should go on longer, it must have been a good one!!

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Montana Part 2 – Hot Springs & Ghost Towns

Our cousins had some fun planned for us when we got there. We ladies left on a 2-day excursion to a hot springs near Boulder. They were very gracious and offered to stop any time I saw a scene that I wanted to shoot. I tried not to abuse the offer and shot quite a few as we were on the road as well.

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Butte in the distance

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As we were driving along a fairly busy highway, Carol noticed a coyote running along, about to cross the road. We turned around and observed/chased him for a bit. He stayed along the road so I was able to get some good shots of it.

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Some abandoned buildings that probably had tales to tell.

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We stopped in Helena, the capitol of Montana, for a little shopping and then an ice cream stop at a carousel with hand carved critters.

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We ate a delicious picnic lunch at Tizer Gardens, a lovely setting beside a stream.

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Most of the summer flowers were past and the fall colors were coming in.

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There was a vine climbing all of the place with cottony looking “blooms. Before they turn cottony they look like this:

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This is later. It is a clematis variety.

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There are multiple areas in Montana where this hot mineral water comes out of the ground (between 120 and 182 degrees according to sign above). At this particular spot, an inn was built in the early 1900s. An Olympic-sized pool was constructed and people came to enjoy the warm water. Hot tub water is usually around 105* so they definitely have to cool it off for you to enjoy it. More information on Boulder Hot Springs.

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Each room is decorated or themed differently. We stayed in a room with a queen bed and a day bed with a trundle bed with a private bath.

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Lest you wonder if we swam in this pond … we didn’t. 🙂 They have several indoor pools. One was around 105* and the other was a chilly ??* degrees. I didn’t take any indoor pictures because the humidity was crazy and I didn’t want to subject any of my electronics to it.

There was an outdoor pool that was the perfect temperature to enjoy for a long time without getting too warm. Later that night we were in the pool for several hours after dark. We heard an elk bugle in the distance.

We grabbed supper in nearby Boulder at one of the 2 or 3 restaurants open that evening. The burger doesn’t look all that big or marvelous in the picture but it was about 5″ across and was very good!!

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Here’s how big the calzones are!

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Here we were introduced to the huckleberry flavor. The soda machines in the corner there include a cream soda machine. I don’t know what other cream soda flavors they have because I’m sure the huckleberry flavor stood head and shoulders over any other contenders. We kept our eyes open for anything huckleberry after this. They are small berries looking similar to blueberries. They grow in the mountains and apparently like higher altitudes best. I’m sure you have to watch out for bears when you pick, as they love berries best! Too bad the berries like cold weather. I think they are much better than blueberries!

Back to the inn … this is what’s left of the original Olympic-sized pool. An earthquake damaged it in the 1930s.

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We had breakfast included with our lodging. They are all about health and had this fresh fruit, yogurt and organic granola for the start of our meal. We then each had a loaded omelette.

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It was fairly quiet while we there (middle of the week) and we were some of the few who stayed overnight. I’m sure weekends and summers the place is humming. The following weekend they were expecting a busload of people. Lots of locals come and enjoy the pools without the lodging.

I so wanted to see a ghost town while were out west and found out about one that wasn’t too far away, Elkhorn. It had been a silver mine that had 2,500 at the peak of its existence. It was a fairly well-established town. Several epidemics hit the mining town and we were able to go to see the grave yard which was high up the mountain overlooking the town. Not sure why they had it there.

Many of the buildings were gone or in the process of going. This one section of the mining operation.

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Another mine entrance:

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The town more or less died when the railroad ceased to service this area and later all the track was taken up.

There are still people living here and there modest houses with green metal roofs that had us wondering if we had the right place for a brief minute.

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Looking down on the town on our way to the graveyard.

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One tombstone only said “Mother”.

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There were several buildings we could go into. They’ve been preserved

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Look at the layers of wallpaper!

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We were told there was a resident who could tell you all about the history of the town. We didn’t take time to talk to him but we saw his interesting place.

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On the scenic ride out of the ghost town.

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We arrived home so very relaxed and rested! It was a delightful 2 days!


Weekend Trip + Callaway Gardens

It’s time to shake the dust off of this blog! A lot has happened since I last blogged but I’ll blog later about those life-altering things.

This past weekend my Mom, sister and I decided to take a trip to see another sister and family. We had a long, lovely weekend with them! They own/run a deli and I’ve never been there over open hours so we left Friday in time to eat lunch there. Yum and yum!

We enjoyed the brilliant fall colors on the way up. The south had a dry fall, as well as early cold temperatures. These 2 combined to make a more-colorful-than-normal fall foliage. At my sister’s place, they had 2 trees that we oohed and ahhed over! We don’t have that brilliant color in our corner of the state.









On Saturday we ladies headed to Callaway Gardens. The fall foliage was past it’s peak here as well but there were still spots of color. The weather was sunny and cool and we were glad for extra layers. Our first point of interest was the Birds of Prey show. They brought out 2 owls and 2 hawks. The handlers had them fly over the audience throughout most of the show. It was interesting and fun as ducked out of the way.

Would you say he had his eye on me?


He actually had his eye on the handler behind us who was putting out meat scraps for him, but …. his flight path took him right over my niece and I and twice the tip of his wings brushed the top of my head.


This is a Great Horned Owl.


They also had a Barred Owl:


He looked a bit less intimidating and mostly sleepy.

There was a Red-Tailed Hawk:


We walked to the chapel in the woods just in time to hear the organ music that is played Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There is a big pipe organ and the player did it justice. The music rang throughout the park.

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The stained glass from the inside:


Dogwoods in stained glass.


The organ pipes.



My niece’s friend works there and was able to spend an hour with us. She took a picture of our crew.


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More of the park:





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And in case you’ve been wondering what an armadillo looks like, here is one that was rooting around beside the path.


He was so tame I could’ve petted him. I could hardly get him distracted enough to get a picture without his head buried in leaves.


A beautiful camelia.

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The horticultural center, where-in were tropical greenhouses as well as arid ones.








This is a Full Moon Maple and if I lived in the right growing zone, which I don’t (boo-hoo), I would plant a couple of them. The leaves had varying shades of red, orange and yellow.


There is also a butterfly house. You can see cocoons, some nearly ready to hatch, some in the process of hatching, and freshly hatched butterflies waiting to be released into the very warm and humid atmosphere of the tropical butterfly house.






One more pretty fall scene from up the road from my sisters’ house.


I didn’t take any pictures of the delicious food we had all weekend! We ate at a southern home-cooking restaurant at the edge of the park on Saturday and they had the cheesiest mac and cheese ever!!!! Way delicious!! Sunday night my sister made a Laosian noodle soup that my stomach is still begging for!

Happy Fall, Y’all! Well, I guess it’s more like winter. Tonight the temps are dipping into the 20s here in south Georgia. Brrr.

This one is for the Birds

So after many posts about travel, here is a post from my own backyard. 🙂

We have two bird feeders that have been getting a lot of attention, both from the birds and us. When we have some time to relax and the sun is shining nicely (it didn’t happen very often at the same time this winter), our backyard is a favorite place to do both. From the quantity of pictures, one might think I’m stalking the birds. From the evidence of extreme skittish-ness in the cardinals, I think they’d agree. However, the number of cardinals has risen in the last week or 2 and they’re much less frightened. Guess they’re fattening up before heading north.

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Because I have pictures for so many different days, this could be a lesson in lighting and how it affects the warmth/coolness of the photo.

The finches are bossy little things and are often scolding at each other.

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This is a bird flounce if ever I saw one!

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In yo face!

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They eat about 10% of the seed and the rest gets tossed to the ground.

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I had moved the feeders close to my bedroom window so I could shoot out of it without them seeing me. It worked sometimes.

I’m nowhere near a bird photography expert, but they love to have something to land on. In the next shot, I had raked together some pine needles, pine cones and branches to burn in the fire ring. It made a  nice landing spot. Our grass is not very green yet but it’s greening up fast.


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See the bird below with a little red color, Lois thinks it’s a finch. This was the only time I saw it. It looked funny, like there was something wrong with it.

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We have this post that Lois put the decorative spool thingy on and planted a vine, the name escapes me at the moment, and the land there often. Makes a beautiful picture!

[lighting: female cardinal in shade, late afternoon sun in background]

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[lighting: midday overcast – you can see filtered light hitting the leaves]

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Wow! That’s quite a difference in those last 3 shots!

Same lighting as 2 shots ^^  but the finches barely stand out.

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A birdbath is another place I can occasionally catch them. In this case, they’re here because my presence disturbed them from eating and they’re to wary to back to it.

[lighting: birds in shade, late afternoon sun on background]

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The male looks rather upset. It’s the same male as the shot above this. His feathers fluffed up give him a different look.

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Can you find all of the cardinals. I was this from some distance and only saw the males. Once I zoomed it in, I saw the females as well.

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There are 6 birds in case you’re wondering.

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There’s a little rain falling in the next one.

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Tuesday night I was catching some late evening (overcast) light and noticed a different bird come flying in.

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To the naked eye it looked like a robin but acted rather aggressive.  A couple of seconds later, a second bird flew in and then I thought I knew what they were.

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A pair of Baltimore Orioles migrating north. However, going by pictures here, I’d say they are Orchard Orioles. But, what I thought was the female doesn’t look anything like the female on that sight. It was getting close to dark so it was hard to get a good shot. Plus, they only stuck around a few minutes and we didn’t see them again.

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So what are some hobbies/ways of relaxing you enjoy?