Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lessons Learned – Scotch Broom

A few years ago, my husband and I were riding in a bus filled with soon-to-be cruise mates from all over the world. We were on our way to Vancouver, British Columbia to board a ship bound for the Alaskan glaciers. Having lived in this area all our lives, hubby and I were surprised when we heard someone comment about the “pretty yellow flowers” all alongside the freeway.

Scotch Broom, or Scot’s Broom, is a very invasive plant and is classified as a noxious weed. It has pretty yellow flowers, yes, but it is aggressive in its growth to the point of pushing the native plants out.  As well, we’ve always thought it was one of the biggest allergy and asthma aggravators in our area. Turns out, it’s only a mild allergen. It takes the rap for the main offenders this time of year, alder and grass. 

The plant is native to Europe and North Africa. Urban legend says it was brought here on purpose. Sadly, that legend is true. Scotch Broom was first introduced in Washington State in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant. Now, it’s widespread from British Columbia, Canada, down through California, U.S.A.

Scotch Broom spreads by flinging its seeds for yards. Each seed (and there can be 12,000 per plant) tends to remain viable for up to 80 years. The only way to minimize its effects is to hand-pull, mow, or put a goat to work eating it. Thankfully, goats apparently do not have allergies.

As for the nice passenger on the bus, we jokingly told her she was welcome to take it all home with her. Then we filled her in on what a pain this shrub is for a lot of folks. She sagely chose to leave it behind.  🙂

So here’s my question. Do you have Scotch Broom creating havoc in your area? Or another noxious weed that sets you to sneezing as we all think Scotch Broom causes us to each May?

Ah-choo! I hope everyone is enjoying their Spring!

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Book Review – Comanche Flame (Madeline Baker)

As you can guess from the cover this is Historical Romance. Dancer is a half breed Comanche. He’s wild and free, making his living by his gun. The Indians are still a force to be reckoned with and his people are still a strong tribe though he hasn’t been ‘home’ for a number of years.

When a spoiled rich kid challenges him, he tries to talk him down but finally the kid gives him no choice and ends up dead. Witnesses testify that it was self-defense. But it’s a no good with the kids father who owns half the county. He wants Dancer to pay.

On the run Dancer comes on a brother and sister in trouble. Jessie and her brother are almost to their destination and a new life when four men break into their camp and kill the brother and are about to do worse by Jessie.

Dancer leaves them dead and taking Jessie eludes the posse on his tail. He’s a loner but Jessie changes him and sparks fly as their first attraction grows. Both fight against it heightening the tension of the story.

Dancer is a bigger than life hero. Jessie is his match, raised in the east with a gentle upbringing she grows into a woman of incredible strength and courage.

The settings are rich and varied including the scene’s in the indian village. There’s some violent scenes and Ms. Baker paints vivid pictures. It’s a fast paced read with believable characters.

This is Ms. Bakers first book. It was written in 1992. I googled her and found that she has number of books out. I love it when I find a new author and even more when they have a backlist. I’m looking forward to some good stories. Click here to visit her site.

Celebration Time

Here in the UK, you’d have to be a hermit not to know the country’s celebrating big time right now. In June we have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and in July we’re hosting the Olympic Games.

Not liking crowds too much, I’ve always been a sort of armchair enthusiast to these events, but this week I found myself smack bang in the middle of one. I was working in Bath on Tuesday, which just happened to be the day the Olympic Torch came to the city. With a colleague I went, a little reluctantly, to see if we could find a place to watch the event. The temperatures were soaring, the crowds were gathering, so we gingerly made our way to where we thought there’d be more space.

As we waited a few parade-type buses passed by, accompanied by a police escort. Everyone was in such a great mood, and soon we were really enjoying ourselves. As we waited, a fabulous party atmosphere built and people were chatting and laughing together.

We hadn’t realised or planned it, but were were very close to where the torch bearers would exchange the Olympic Flame, which gave us a great opportunity for a photo of the next runner as he stood patiently waiting for the flame to arrive.

Then we heard an amazing roar and along came Olympic Champion, Jason Gardener, holding the Torch high so everyone could see. By this time, my colleague and I were well caught up in the atmosphere, flag waving and shouting along with the best of them. We must have screamed like banshees at one point, because Jason turned to where we were standing and I got this great shot. You can just see the flame by the side of the church.

Having had such a fabulous time, I might even be tempted to venture out and join the celebrating crowds again sometime 🙂 How about you? Do you like to join in local/national celebrations?

First Run Fever – Television Finales

Well, have we all gotten through the finales of our favorite television shows? How did it go? Did you like how they turned out? Or worry about where the cliffhangers left things?

I’ll talk about a couple of mine. First, Survivor: One World. For me, this 24th season was the best one yet. I didn’t start off feeling that way. I was embarrassed to be a woman the way the women were falling apart. But I have to give them credit. They re-grouped, strengthened their resolve, and maintained that strength while the men de-constructed—BIG time. The guys even gave up tribal immunity to the women. They went to tribal and voted one of their own out when it should have been the women sitting there. Crazy!

At any rate, the finale ended up with 3 strong female competitors and I’d have been happy with any of them winning. However, since this was the first time the person I picked on day one WON, I’m ecstatic for Kim Spradlin. And maybe, just maybe, I’m getting better at picking winners? Now if that Lottery ticket would just pay off, eh?

Another series I watch are the naval crime shows NCIS and NCIS:LA. Both left off with very intriguing storylines and I’ll be tuning in come Autumn to see how they resolve this.  SPOILER ALERT: If you watch these shows and were aghast at Ducky’s collapse at the end, I’m happy to report that on April 30, 2012, TV Guide reported David McCallum signed another 2 year contract for NCIS. It just wouldn’t be the same without Illya Kuryakin/Ducky there.

Hubby and I picked up a new show this year. Person of Interest. I would have watched this show simply because local actor Jim Caviezel stars in it. But the plot is also unusual and the stories have been different enough that each week is fresh and exciting. The basic premise is that a man built a computer that spits out the names of people who are in trouble. What you don’t know is if they are the good guy or the bad guy. They’ve surprised me a couple times so far with that one. And they left it with a huge hook that pulled me in even further. I’ll be a couch potato, come Fall, if this keeps up.

For now, though, it’s re-runs and time to catch up on my project lists and the movies we want to watch. How about you? Are you shows over for the season (if you watch TV)? How did they turn out? And what will you be doing with your time over the summer?

Foreign Film Recommendation

I like to watch foreign language films and I took the time to watch two this past weekend. I enjoyed them both even though they were quite different from each other. The one I want to tell you about is quite a lovely little romantic story. It’s called Bread and Tulips.

It’s the story of an Italian woman who is on vacation with her family. They are on a bus tour and the bus leaves her while she’s in the bathroom at a rest stop. She’s been a housewife. She has a husband who is a loud mouth as well as a cheater. He’s not nice to her at all.

When she ends up waiting over two hours and they haven’t come back for her, she decides to hitchhike home. On the way, after chatting with the two people who offer her rides, she decides to go on to Venice.

She spends a day in Venice, then misses the train home. On her way to the station the next day, she stops at a florist shop where there is a help wanted sign. She takes the job and stays in Venice for a while.

This was a wonderful tale of hope and I loved it. I also enjoyed the Venice scenes. Having been there, it was a neat addition to my enjoyment of this film. Here’s a link to the imdb info.

If you haven’t watched a foreign film, try it. It’s a whole different experience. Surprisingly, you won’t feel like you’re reading, the stories are usually so riveting. Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you like foreign films, too, give me some recommendations.

Seasons of Creativity By Valerie J. Patterson

Being a creative being, I consider myself to be in tune with nature.  The beginning of each season inspires me, recharges me, and ignites my creativity.  I love fall.  Nature settles down for a long winter nap.  Everything becomes dormant and … well gray once Autumn’s dance is over and the colors have faded from view.  Outside my mother’s kitchen window is a massive evergreen whose strong limbs reach heavenward in praise of God.  It turns a fiery yellow every autumn and then gracefully loses its needles.  It’s the only evergreen I’ve ever seen do this.  It’s an incredibly gorgeous tree.  My pastor’s wife loves winter trees, the pose they strike as they wait for new life to spring anew is beautiful to her.  Because of her, I’m looking at trees in a new light these days.  I have found that she is right.

Winter intrigues me.  It covers everything with a frosty white that is the epitome of purity, and being clean, and pristine beauty.  I have to have the winter of my year every year.  It’s in my creative blood to see beauty in starkness, I think.  Besides, I love that moment where I breathe out and the winter wind blows my breath back onto my glasses and causes them to fog over.  That’s the moment I know winter has gracefully arrived and said hello to me.

Summer fascinates me.  The sun chases away the moon for a few extra hours each day.  There are lovely aromas in the air from flowers to bar-b-ques to sunscreen.  My favorite scent of summer is the ocean.  That cool spray that washes over hot skin and leaves behind a trace of salt water and the aroma of the beach.

But spring enchants me.  When the first bursts of life spring forth in shades of green, brilliant hues of flower blooms, and babies of many species, I want to sit very still and capture it all with my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my mind.  I don’t just want to admire it, I want to be part of it if only as a bystander.  The dormancy of winter virtually explodes vital life in springtime where I live.  I can sit beneath a tree and experience the faintest caress of a breeze on my face and arms and it always carries with it fresh, new scents that I would miss if I didn’t stand still and wait for it.

I see God’s creative hand in every season, and I know that He gave me just a teeny bit of that creativity when He made me, when He crafted the designer original that I am … that we all are.

I don’t think I could live where there weren’t four very distinct seasons.  Perhaps it would stifle my creativity?

What inspires you?

Until next time, I hope you all are well and enjoying the fresh vitalization that spring delivers.

~Valerie

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NEW CALF

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I seem to be getting slower, it must be this amazing sun that we are seeing. Always lots of work to do on the farm and we seem to be outside later and later, or maybe we are getting slower … Continue reading