Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Yellow Jacket Wasp

Lately, the cat has been on a roll. In one week, he captured and killed four deer mice that were either brown or gray and proudly left them on the rug. The cat bringing me mice he hunted, it's almost better than a boyfriend bringing flowers. What a surprise! Thank you, cat! Of course I gave the dead mice the royal flush down the toilette, and then, for all of his good mouse hunting, the cat gets a kitty treat. I don't condone killing anything, but the mice populations have been out of control here, and mice carry Hanta Virus which causes Hanta Virus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) that is known to be fatal. Hanta Virus is real common in the four corners area. Plague is rare, but does come back as mice carry plague. Mice carry all kinds of bad illnesses for humans so I think, being a great mouser, the cat had a job well done.

A few days ago, the cat was meowing loudly so I ran to the door to check on him. He was holding a yellow jacket wasp down over the air conditioning vent. He blocked the wasp. I looked down and saw it. At first I thought maybe the cat was stung? The yellow jacket wasp had a missing barb. I lifted the cat and checked him, but he was not in any pain. A sting from a yellow jacket would be extremely painful. The cat was not stung.

I wondered if the yellow jacket had stung something else and was waiting to die? It's Fall now, and many of the insects that thrived in the summertime were dying off. I was looking. Maybe he had one of those paper nests somewhere nearby. I looked around the vent and in the concrete, but there was not any paper nest. The little yellow jacket wasp must be far from home and dying. The cat was fixated on the bug, maybe the cat would eat the wasp the way he ate flies and crickets. The cat kept trying to paw the wasp out of curiosity.

The queens have bi-lateral black dots on their thorax. This yellow jacket is a male because the dots have been fused into long black waves on the thorax. The yellow jacket is smaller than a queen. Queen wasps are larger and have thicker wings. This is a worker that is at the end of life.

What I think happened is that the male wasps mate and die around Fall - about right now. Maybe he mated with a queen wasp and was in the process of death. It's the short life-cycle of the wasps. He is dying. New queens will live a full year and nest for the winter, and have new wasp larvae in the Spring, and the cycle repeats. This little yellow jacket was on his way out.

When I was little, I had no allergies to bees. I used to catch honey bees and wasps by their wings. If you get their wings very closely, it's harder for them to sting. Every now and then I would get stung and curse. When I was a child, I liked playing with insects. I had grasshoppers, ants, and flies and bees. I would play with them. I would catch them and put them in a glass bottle, and watch them for the day, and then let them go later on. I was kind of curious like the cat. I liked catching preying mantis, walking sticks and potato bugs. I would show everyone my treasures. I've grown up since then. I still like sharing. I still consider bugs to be my little treasures.

Here are some pictures of our wasp friend. Things are changing. He's had his time. I brought the cat in the house and let the little bugger die in peace. I guess once he got free of the cat, he probably flew away some place else and died. Next Spring I'll see all the new wasps that fly around, maybe one of the wasp's sons, it won't be long and there will be another year to sip flower nectar. I hope these pictures make my little wasp friend blogger famous so people never forget nature is just amazing.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Failure of New Blogs to Thrive and Why My Blog Might Fail

Around June and July 2015, the views for my blog started to become minute. I did the same amount of work, but had less clicks on my stats. This was troubling for me to work the same pace and have less traffic on my blog. Am I blogging for nothing? I think at first I blamed it on the summer. No one is going to sit around in front of a computer screen when everyone is vacationing and spending their time out in the sunshine. It's good weather and happy times, and no one wants to do any cooking right now or crafts or even care to look at what I'm doing because they are at restaurants eating out and too busy with recreation this summer. I also had a few other things happen. I went on my own vacation to San Diego, and spent some time in the mountains too. It was a great experience. It broke the monotony of sitting in front of a computer screen trying to come up with my next best idea by spending the summertime outdoors.

I took a break. If readers want to take a break from me, then I need a break from them too. I went a few months without any posts. I started to come up with excuses... I would blog today, but the sun is still shining. I would blog today, but I need to clean my house first, and do laundry and dishes and wipe down everything... and vacuum. I would blog today, but I probably won't get very many views. I would blog today, but I can't think of anything good to write about. I make excuses after excuses. I must be the queen of excuses because I sure know how to procrastinate.

Fall is here, October 2015 already. The leaves are changing colors. The clouds are forming, and icicles happen in the frosty mornings. We have had monsoon rains and flash flood storms. This is the change. I'm feeling the air is cooler, and it's harder to sleep at night because I can't sleep when the air is cold. Right on schedule, I am getting a few hits on my Facebook of my blog, a few more clicks on my blogger and I have added nothing special in months. Surprised? That's nice, and I go about my day, but everyday, I'm getting a few hits here and a few hits there. The readers are back. It's time to go back to work. It's time to celebrate.

The summer was a real test for me. I kept thinking that my blog was a stupid idea, a real waste of time, that I should just quit. I had people putting me down. My own mother was saying that I should do my blog this way or that way or never post anything about my family on my blog, no pictures of family, and don't do this and don't do that. No, no, no, no, no, no... everything you do is wrong. Shut it down. Wait a minute... I write this blog, and it belongs to me. If you don't like my blog, stop reading it. Go write your own blog.

I get haters. Boy, do I get haters. Especially when the blog is doing well, there are so many people that instead of creating their own blog or setting their own goals, they want to tear me down. As much as I like to forget about the haters, that too, has taken a tole on me. My love life takes a tole on me. My daughter takes a tole on me. Lack of money and anxiety take a tole on me. The death of my loved ones takes a tole on me, and it drags me down until there is nothing left. I feel like nothing, like I can accomplish nothing. I never was anything, and I'll never be anything - those are frightening and dark thoughts. Those have kept me down.

Perception is everything. Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you gotta make lemonade. Having a positive attitude can turn it all around. As I go along, and giving up is a reality, something inside tells me, "It's okay. Don't give up. Instead, give your blog all you got." Have a positive attitude. Failure is temporary, the views are there. It's going to be alright. No need to scrap this blog, everything is perfectly fine. Every blog starts at the bottom.

I am in fact my own worst enemy. I am the one that has antagonized myself into thinking that having a great blog cannot be done or that this particular blog will never be great. It can be done. I see plenty of blogs thriving, and surely with a little effort and time, my little blog can thrive too. If I have a dream, I can continue to move forward if I am willing to work hard and put forward the effort it will all work out in the end. Do I keep working or give up?

Well, of course, I keep working. I'm still here. I don't mind taking one step back to take two steps forward. That is still progress. I must remind myself from time to time that I am moving in the right direction. It's okay to take breaks. It's okay to have a life outside of blogging. Sometimes those breaks make a person come back stronger, and that's what I need right now. For other bloggers that are struggling, don't worry about all the negativity. Keep moving forward, and you're going to take it to the top. Failure is your tool for success. Use it wisely. Always, always believe in yourself.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grandma's Grave

I can't think of a more beautiful resting place. The grass was so green all along the way, and the tall Cottonwood tree that hoovered over the gravestone gave a good amount of shade. She is buried at the Enoch Cemetery. It was only $250 for the grave plot. Many of the people buried there were highly decorated, even having iron benches for their loved ones to sit down. Each spot was very well maintained. I felt happy. My grandma was cremated like she wanted, and her husband, Larry, made her wood box to hold her ashes. My grandmother was very religious and she loved angels. She got a nice gravestone. My Aunt Kathy picked it out.

What was my grandma like? She was a dying breed of people that came from the old school. She thought of everyone else before herself. She put her friends and family first. Even when people were cruel, she never had a mean thing to say, and never held any contempt for anyone. She had a heart of gold. She worked hard everyday, cleaning the linens and folding everything so nice. She kept her house immaculately clean. Her wood floors were mopped regularly and smelled of pine. Her counter tops were always wiped down, and her dishes were always done. Her generation was one of women that worked in the home, and she was an excellent house keeper. Her floors were vacuumed and her beds were made. There was always good food in the kitchen. She loved to cook and entertain. She loved classic movies and talking on the phone. Big crowds of people would gather together on her back porch. She was very much loved.

She always had a dog, ever since I could remember, she loved having pets. The dogs I can remember her having... Barney, an old Lab... Shotsee, an Australian Shepard... Chi-chi chihuahua... Sasha, the Yorkie... Buddy, the mutt... and her last dog I remember was Gracie, a chihuahua. After grandma died, Gracie was crying by the chair. I told everyone that was the chair where grandma used to sit and pet her. Everyone felt bad for the poor little dog. I believe Larry's family took Gracie. She was a small dog, and no trouble at all.

Grandma had a hard life. When she was a child in Portland, Oregon, she contracted polio. Polio isn't something that people are afraid of now because now there are vaccines, it's very rare that anyone in the U.S. contract polio nowadays, but back in the day, there was no vaccine, and she was one of the unfortunate ones that ended up hospitalized. She survived polio, but part of her leg and arm muscles no longer functioned. She was badly crippled the rest of her life.

Her father, William Hostetter, was part French, part Native American from Omaha, Nebraska. I'm guessing the Indian tribe is probably Sioux or Pawnee, that's most likely what he was, a half-breed of something. My Great-grandmother, Margaret Fox, was directly from Ireland, pure Irish, an immigrant, and she always said, "don't borrow trouble..." They were a very poor Irish family that borrowed everything including the money to move to America. Great Grandpa William Hostetter drove trains for the Union Pacific, and they met because Margaret Fox also worked for the railroad as a way to pay for her coming to America. My Grandma Patty was raised in a traditional family where the man was the boss. The woman's duties were the household and the children, and the man's duties were to have a career and bring home the money.

My grandmother wore glasses, had surgical scars, and wasn't very pretty as a child. She had endured a lot of criticism having polio. Her house was quarantined for polio. When she was a little girl, she did not have many friends to play with. No one was allowed around her. She developed more closeness to her pets. When she became older, she turned out to be very beautiful and friendly. She married her Navy sweetheart my Grandpa, Frank Dale McKittrick, from a German-Irish family. They had a real Catholic wedding.

By the time my grandmother was 23 years old, she already was the mother of five children. She was disabled and only had use of one arm due to her polio, and she never once filed for welfare. It is a wonder to me how a woman could raise five children with one arm. Her husband was deployed on the submarines. Every few years she switched bases and moved all across the U.S. Many of the things she did in life, she did on her own, including moving from military base to military base. When my grandfather returned from Vietnam, he had some symptoms of PTSD. Back then, they didn't have a diagnosis for the stress that military soldiers went through. They called it "shell shock." He was active in Vietnam, and returned home from war a changed person. War had left him traumatized. He turned to alcohol and became abusive to his family. They divorced in California.

Grandma spent most years of her life in San Diego, California, raising kids and grand kids. She always had ice cream at her house. There were spaghetti dinners and barbecues, and lots of fun times. She was very much a family person. She loved her kids and her grand kids. She lived to meet many of her great-grandchildren. She had a full life and a good life.

The last three years of her life, she met Larry Chynoweth. I introduced them. Larry's dog, Cola, had run to our house for scraps. I took the dog back to Larry, and discovered that his wife, Billie, had recently died. Larry was not doing well as a widow, he was extremely sad. Grandma was lonely. I thought the two of them would be happier together. Larry was a funny man. He liked jokes, had a good sense of humor, and my grandma liked to laugh. Grandma liked to cook, and Larry liked to eat. They married a few months after I introduced them, and enjoyed their golden years. They were both very thankful that I introduced them. They shared many happy years, and had many adventures.

Grandma died in a failed heart bypass surgery. The surgery went as usual until the cardiologists tried to take her off the machine that pumped her heart. Her heart failed to pump on its own. She stayed on the machine for three days, and then her vital signs started to crash, and she was dying. By the time we got to the hospital, my grandma was in a drug induced coma, and we all got a chance to hold her hand and tell her that we loved her, and "good-bye." My mom was holding her hand when she died, and my Aunt Kathy held her other hand. I think my grandma got her way. I think she wouldn't have it any other way, with her family near her at her death. Though I think she would have gone the Indian way and gone off to a field to die instead of dying in a hospital bed. Her last hour of life, everyone was around her.

After she passed, we had to go through her items. She kept oddities in the house, some needlework that her mother embroidered. They weren't riches to anyone else, but more of sentimental value. She had some costume jewelry and some nice pearls. She had gold watch, and some things that my grandpa brought her back from Vietnam. Other than that, it was typical things that she held onto over the years.  She was a great lady. There was not a dry eye at her funeral. We all missed her. It was a good day to see her grave well maintained. She would have loved it.

Thank you for reading. It was nice to share a little about her life. I hope I didn't bore you to death. It was my perspective. I guess it's that way. My mom said when she dies she wants to be cremated too. My mom wants her ashes to be dropped across the mountain property that she owns (for the record). I don't. I want to be embalmed and set in a coffin. I want a gravestone like my grandma's. I guess everyone has their own way to go. It was an emotional day. Thank you for reading.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Over-watering Your Garden

Last Thursday, August 6, 2015, we had some good company. Richard and Sabrina Nunnery came up from San Diego and were driving through. Their daughter, Sarah, who lives up in Salt Lake City, just gave birth to a baby boy, Maddox. They passed through on the I-15 North and then came back down on the I-15 South and gave us a good visit. They brought grand-daughter, Mercedes, with them who is about Nicole's age. I brought Presley too so the girls Mercedes, Nicole and Presley could play together in the yard, and the adults could carry on a grown up conversation in the kitchen.

We started talking about gardening. I mentioned that my tomatoes were not doing so well. I thought maybe July had been too dry and windy of a month to promote any plant growth. I had watered the plants daily. Sabrina said, "You're watering them too much..." That never dawned on me. I guess I expected that tomatoes would need the same amount of water as my flowers, but they don't. I noticed that when I came back from San Diego (gone a week), the tomatoes and flowers appeared to be happier. I was not there to water them. I admit that I have a tendency to hover. I'm a total helicopter mom, maybe a little over kill. My daughter is extremely independent little girl. She doesn't hug or kiss me good-bye. She just runs off. I'm one of those that like, not in a desperate way, but in an overly energetic way cannot understand the idea that "less is more."

I think that "more is more," so I go on about my duties as if doing more will make everything all better, but it doesn't. There's a point where you've got to Kenny Loggin's it and be the Gambler, "Know when to hold them, know when to fold them... Know when to walk away, know when to run..." It's all about timing and amount of water. That part I'm horrible at! I should know that I should stop hovering. All that over-watering is killing the plant and backfiring. I went to San Diego, and the plants were doing great when I got back. Maybe I need to get a life. Maybe I need to go on vacation more often. The plants are happier when I neglect them more.

Happy Neglected Marigolds 

I have been getting little yellow tomato blossoms. I really want to have some home grown garden tomatoes this Fall so it might be in my best interest to let things go a bit. They won't die if they go without water. There's no need to pick and pull at things. Sometimes it's better for the plant if you just take a deep breath, exhale, and leave them alone to do their thing and grow.

Not just plants, kids too should have their room to grow. I always try to cook everything for Nicole. I cook full meals too. She eats two bites and then throws the rest away.  Hours of work cooking and she only eats two bites? My goodness, this is tragic. She is 10 years old. She knows how to make herself a snack. So now, instead of hoovering or cooking all day long, I tell her, "Make something to eat for yourself." She looked at me funny, and didn't really know what to do. After awhile, Nicole got hungry and made herself food. She didn't need me to cook her a four course meal. She could find something to eat all on her own. She knows how to cook simple things, but I always buzz around her, doing everything for her that she has no idea how to do things for herself. I realize how unhealthy this "hoovering habit" of mine is. I must end Nicole's dependency on me so that she can grow and learn to be self-sufficient, that she can make herself a sandwich and a cup of juice.

I am self-sabotaging myself by doing too much. Although I believe some people like being spoiled occasionally and waited on, it's important that I check myself before I wreck myself. I'm too much in GO mode that I don't understand the word STOP. My tomato plants were slumped over. I know when leaves turn yellow it means that the plant has too much water, but the soil looked dry and so I watered it again. I should not have done that. Now I'm experimenting more with maybe letting the dirt dry out. I realize that tomato plant roots spread themselves out and hold water well with in the root. This is my advice to gardeners... of course don't leave the plants too long without water, but know when to stop. Your garden and your whole life will be better off.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wild Flower Mix IV

Finally, I get to see what these pretty flowers that I bought from Dollar Tree look like. This was actually taken in middle of July, but I have been running around this summer, taking a break, and just not getting back to posting all of my photos. I must say I am very pleased with all of the beautiful colors that have bloomed. Though it took several months (April-May-June-July, about 3 1/2 months) to get to see these colors it was well worth it. I'm posting so that you can see.

Most of the colors of the wildflowers ranged from white, violet, and blue-purple. The oddity, I think, was the little orange flowers. They were tiny in comparison, but brought quite a lot of color to these planters.

Just to go on about how hardy this wildflower mix is, I left for San Diego for a week, and came back home, and they were still doing great. They can go a week in the hot July sun without water. That's pretty crazy, but these plants must store it in their roots. This whole experiment that I had with wildflowers cost me $1+ tax, which is just nothing. Anyone can do it. Even if you're not a very good gardener, these plants seem to thrive very self-sufficiently. Give it a try.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Dancing in the Pioneer Day Parade

 In order to dance for Dance Magic in the Pioneer Day Parade, we had to buy the shirt that matches everyone else. We had to buy a few more things: black shorts, white tennis shoes, and a yellow bow. Not to mention the other parts that needed put together like hair, nails, and make up. Dancing can be like a sport; it's very demanding. Not only is dancing physically demanding, it is also visually demanding. I definitely felt the pinch because everything is so inflated price wise. It seems like the little things cost so much. Each mom is trying to make their kid feel more adequate by buying them nicer things. They are curling their daughter's hair or painting their nails. I wondered how many thousands of dollars that all of the parents paid just to have their children march down the street? It seemed like when it was all added up, there must have been a great deal invested into all of the kids. Most of the kids that dance come from middle class families. Each of the parades that the kids go into is quite an investment.

Clapping Hands and Marching Down the Street

I am new to this. I've never had Nicole dancing in a parade.We were supposed to meet between a two block area between a local gas station and a local hotel. We parked far out because the street was shut down, and then we walked uphill to the Dance Magic parade float. We arrived on time, and there weren't very many kids there. After a few minutes of waiting, there were fifty or sixty kids, and by the time the parade started there were about 100 or more kids that were riding the parade float or dancing. I was able to get a short clip of Nicole's dancing. It was a breezy, sunny day. By the end of the parade, Nicole was sweaty and hot from dancing. I was very proud of her. 

American Flag on Pioneer Day

The day did not feel very hot, especially to those that were sitting in the shade, but when a person moves to the sunny side, it can be ten degrees hotter. When it's hot and the kids are dancing under the bright sun, they work up a sweat. I cannot stress how important it is to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Many of the kids were exhausted by the end of the dance. This picture of Main Street in Cedar City, Utah is the same location of the Main Street that was remodeled by Amy Grant on a show called "Three Wishes." Many of the light poles, trees, and other external structures were improved and have become more mature from years ago. Some of the city events have attracted quite a lot of media and tourism. It's a real honor to have Nicole dance in the parade.

I apologize for July being so late posting. My views have been down mainly because I believe that people have just been busy playing and having fun in the summer sunshine. It's been cooling down now and so I'm catching back up on my blog posts and will have more to report. Thank you for being so patient with me. I will be more prompt with my posts.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Great Aunt Fay's 90th Birthday Party

Some of my first childhood memories were shaped by the adults that modeled excellent behavior. I have been very fortunate and blessed to have come from such a great family with great mannerisms and such longevity. I am very fortunate to still have my Great Aunt Fay living today. When I was a child growing up in San Diego, I was much closer to her. With distance and years gone by, we see her less and less. It has been over 10 years since I last got a chance to see her and talk to her. I felt very strongly that this may have been the last time I will ever see her. It was very hard day for me because in my mind, I knew that "hello" really meant "good-bye."

Great Aunt Fay and I

After this picture, Aunt Fay wouldn't do any more pictures. I think she had enough because she ran out to her car, didn't say "good-bye" to anyone, and drove away. I did not personally see her, but family members told me that she was crying pretty hard.

The theme of the birthday party was a peacock theme. This might sound a little odd, but to my family the peacock theme made perfect sense. Up a tall cement stairway on the hill in downtown San Diego, that's where Uncle Pat and Aunt Fay lived together. When you opened the door, there was Uncle Pat's chair that he sat in and greeted people, and to the left side there was a long couch for visitors to sit. Above the couch was a great big colorful peacock wall sculpture. Everyone used to stand back and admire their peacock wall hanging. A few years back, there was a partial house fire that burned various items, the colorful peacock wall hanging was one of the items ruined. It was a reminder of their life and marriage.

Pat and Fay Lowry had 59 years of marriage.

The Birthday Planner, Aunt Kathy Martinez

The gold necklace that Great Aunt Fay wears has a picture of the late Mr. Lowry. My Great Uncle Pat, who passed years ago, was married to Great Aunt Fay for 59 years. They were only a few months shy of celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary when he passed. To some people 60 years of marriage is little unheard of, but back in the day it was more common. Uncle Pat and Aunt Fay had no children. It was not physically possible for them, but they had wonderful family with children all around them. They were very much loved.

When I saw Aunt Fay again, I couldn't help getting a little teary eyed. At 90 years old, she braved San Diego traffic and drove herself to Alpine. She brought her best friend with her. She wanted no gifts. She said that she was not going to say "good-bye" that she intended to just leave.

Here was the best part of the party. It still brings a little tear to my eyes.

I think this is most likely the birthday party of the year. I hope to be there to celebrate Great Aunt Fay's 100th birthday if she makes it that far. I really think she could because she drove to the party in San Diego traffic. Aunt Fay is very alert. Her sense of humor and love for life makes me believe that she could go another 10 years or more. It's been awhile since I posted, but that's because I have been on vacation to San Diego. Thanks for reading, and thank you for being so patient with me. I'm home now, and it's back to the grind. We will post more again soon.