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It’s great having the boys home again after their first year back at school but I’m finding that I have to get used to the new noise level again. Boys don’t walk down the stairs. They charge like a herd of elephants. They don’t quietly “fight”. Tempers flare and things get loud and action packed until they both start laughing (usually!). They want to shoot things and blow up things and watch things that have shooting and things blowing up in them. It’s all too much for this mama who loves peace and quiet sometimes. The solution is to get away for short breaks. That’s another way of saying going for a walk. It’s then that I can think and plan and calm my agitated nerves.
Saturday’s time away took me to the Mariposa Butterfly Festival followed by some time at Grant’s Woods Conservancy. Of course, I brought my digital camera. That little piece of technology doesn’t charge like a herd of elephants or break out into raucous wrestlemania. It quietly stays in my hand until I want it and then does its best to do my bidding. Refreshing!
The butterfly festival was geared toward younger children mostly. I didn’t mind that except that I didn’t have any children, young or old, with me. Grant’s Woods Conservancy was more to my liking. No one was there probably because of the big signs up saying that bears had been spotted in the area recently. I lingered a little. Just long enough to regroup and get some pics of serenity to go back to when Ultimate Fighting starts for real in the house.
The old car is parked in Grant’s Woods. Even though it’s not a natural part of the scenery, I love it and couldn’t help going snap-happy on it. I was even more excited to figure out how to make a collage out of the pictures. It’s not a great collage but now that I’ve fiddled with the idea, I think I’ll try making collages more often.
Well, the fighting begins again for the umpteenth time today and so has the opening and closing of doors. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a revolving door on this place.) The natives are bored because mean ol’ mom has banned them from technology for a spell and boredom usually translates into war of some sorts. That’s life with boys.
My sister has four sons. My brother has three. And I have two. None of us had girls. Even the caterpillars I bring into our home seem to follow the pattern. For two years now, we’ve reared monarch caterpillars and both years the end result was a beautiful male monarch butterfly. (It’s easy to tell male and female monarch butterflies apart. The males have two dark dots on their hind wings that the females do not.)
I did some searching to see if there were any differences between boy and girl monarch caterpillars. It seems there isn’t. The only way to tell what gender they are is to dissect them. There is a difference between the genders in terms of the pupa stage though. This is what a female chrysalis looks like:
This is what a male chrysalis looks like:
(Pictures from http://www.mymonarchguide.com, an informative site written in ordinary vernacular for less scientifically inclined people like myself.)
Danaus, my caterpillar, looked like this in the morning:
The next time I looked I saw this:
I looked carefully for that indentation but I’m not seeing it. I am concluding therefore that the male trend in the family is continuing. I should know in twelve to fourteen days for sure. For now, that pretty emerald chrysalis with its threading of gold is hanging safely on a bulletin board in P’s room.
Most of the time I think that D and I are very different but if I really think about it I know that we are somewhat alike; we just manifest our likenesses differently.
We both like to create. I arrange flowers and paint furniture and hang pictures. He makes guns out of lego and rockets out of bottles and ballistic gel out of gelatin powder.
We both like to take stuff that isn’t working for us and tweak it so that it does. I spray paint frames to match my decor. He spray paints his guns and gun attachments to make them look more convincing.
We both like to take pictures and post them. I like to snap all sorts of things and put my best work on Facebook and this blog. He likes to make videos of his latest experiments and put them on YouTube. On occasion, he wants to be in the pictures and he knows exactly how he wants to look. It’s then that I’m commanded to do his bidding. Today I said “yes” to the world dictator wannabe and came up with this series of pics which I must say I kind of like despite their leaning towards violence.
One of the things I love about summer is that it’s such a colourful time of year. The birds. The butterflies. The flowers. Even the insects. They’re just bursting with reds, blues, yellows and purples. Such a contrast to the drab hues of winter. I’m a big fan of colour and am happy to incorporate it in my home.
The living room got a small dose of yellow.
There’s nothing like fresh flowers to perk up a room and it’s even better when those flowers come from clippings out back and cost zero dollars.
Our bedroom got a hit of bright pink.
These peonies would have just flopped over in the garden. By snipping some of them and taking them indoors I can enjoy this vivid shade inside and out. It probably took me less than ten minutes to put both of these arrangements together. Such a simple exercise to put a smile on my face.
D. That’s him standing in front of a neat line of golden helmet motorbikes looking his usual cool and confident self.
I just had to take a pic of those neatly lined up bikes because…well…I like things neatly lined up.
D doesn’t really care if things are neat or lined up. He’s perfectly happy to live in chaos. It’s one of the things we butt heads on. Maybe it’s because we are so different that I was happy to let him take pictures at the Orillia Air Show yesterday. I hope to find common ground with this one. Something we can have fun with without butting heads.
I really wanted pictures of the Snowbirds. It’s not often that they give a performance in a little city like Orillia. I knew my camera wasn’t up to the task though. It just doesn’t seem designed to take distant shots or pics of things moving twice the speed of sound. On top of that, it seems to have a permanently smudged lens where the smudges show up really well when you try to take shots of sky or water. I wasn’t very hopeful for amazing shots so it was good D was the one doing the shooting. His enthusiasm more than made up for the shortfalls of my camera. And he did get some decent shots all things considered.
I’ve been noticing milkweed pretty much everywhere I walk and have been casually checking for monarch eggs on the leaves. For the last two years we’ve reared monarch caterpillars, watched them cocoon and then marveled when the adult butterfly emerged. I’m eager for the experience again this year. My not so secret hope is to have a girl butterfly come out. Our last two attempts have yielded males. My search today was rewarded. I didn’t find teeny eggs; I found a good sized caterpillar happily chomping away.
S/he is now on the kitchen counter where s/he’ll be observed daily.
Last year I named my caterpillar Chloe. That seemed a little silly when he emerged and clearly showed the world that he was a male. I’m picking a name that is less gender obvious this year: Danaus. (If you know that’s the monarch butterfly’s genus, 10 points for you.) It’s a good name for a girl or a boy. It’s especially good for a girl though.
Hi zigged. He zagged. He went full throttle.
We held on for dear life. I screamed.
It was Uncle G’s birthday and he decided to take us tubing.
The boys went out first.
They had a blast.
The girls were up next.
That’s us looking all confident as we got started. I think Uncle G was trying to flip us. It didn’t take long before the girls were screaming so loudly, we could be heard all the way back at G’s house. (His parents were there to tell us.)
The laughter started before DA even got a turn. My Moto Moto is so barrel-chested he wasn’t even close to getting his life jacket on properly.
Didn’t stop DA from bouncing around like a feather weight when he hit the wake.
The night was beautiful so we stayed out and tubed while the sun set.
We would have went swimming too except us gals were grossed out by the millions (literally!) of mayflies coming up out of the lake. It was a feast for birds, fish and bats but not so atmospheric for us. We ended the night by eating dinner at almost 10 p.m., recounting tubing tales and admiring D’s windswept look. O.K. It was only me that admired D’s windswept look.
Wish my hair looked that great after being whipped around a lake at insane speeds.
The calendar told me today is the first day of summer. The weather is in total agreement. All that sunshine and blue sky just begged me to come outside. I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I selfishly went for a two hour leisure walk and just soaked in all the beauty around me. The laundry wasn’t done. The dishes are still piled up on the counter. There were more productive things I could have applied myself to but I’m glad I went. There’s nothing like a walk in the country to recharge my batteries. Of course, I didn’t go alone. No. I brought my trusty camera with me and happily crawled in ditches to take pics of all the special things lurking there. Enjoy!
It’s Father’s Day so this past week I’ve turned my artistic side to making cards for two very important people. I’m not sure my dad will get his on time. Sorry dad! This will let you know what’s coming.
My dad loves trees. I think that must be where I get it from. I think the big tree on this card represents my father and the little tree is me. I’m a lot like my dad I think.
That’s the general inside message in the best printing I could muster. Of course, I wrote more just for my dad.
DA was quite happy to let me make a card for his dad. He knows I like doing stuff like that and he likes how my cards turn out.
DA is a lot like his dad. The two of them love, love, love planes. My version of a plane isn’t scale model correct but it is fun. That’s the whole family smiling out of the windows. This is what you see when you pull the tab by the “dented” tail of the plane:
DA liked that part. Hopefully his dad will too.
And here’s the general message inside.
DA will have to personalize it with a message of his own for his father.
Happy Father’s Day!
I like to eat and DA loves to cook. It’s a good combination. Usually, we take the boys into consideration when planning the menu but on Friday D and P got invited to a pool party. While I zipped them off to their fun DA started having fun in the kitchen. He was in the mood for Spanish cuisine and had settled on a paella. What a treat to have a homecooked meal with just the two of us.
That’s us. DA is getting used to me snapping pics all the time. I don’t have a lot of pictures of Louis and that’s something I’m sad about. I’m determined not to make that mistake again so I’m always trying to get pictures of us doing the most ordinary things together just so I can rejoice in the fact that I have someone who loves me to do ordinary things with.
We chose a lovely Spanish rose to accompany our al fresco meal.
I had never had mussels or clams before so this meal was a bit of an adventure for me. DA had never cooked with saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, before so it was a bit of an adventure for him too.
Can you tell from what was left that this meal was a winner? Yeah. I can get into mussels and clams (and escargot and imported Spanish chorizo sausage and jumbo shrimp and chicken thighs too – this paella had them all!)