Flowers, bugs, and yarn, oh my! Also, road trip!

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(Interesting note – when I wikipedia’d “Casablanca Lily,” no page matched that description, but this came up in the search results with 96.4% relevance. I just thought that was amusing)

Unlike Tricia, who surely has to win the award for Rockin’ Knitting-esque Gardener ever, I’ve kind of let certain aspects of my yard (not “yarn,” like I originally typed :)) go to hell. We had the misfortune to move into this house right as my gardener-phase was waning, so we planted a bunch of stuff that first fall and spring and then haven’t kept up with it since, mainly because Travis works a lot of weird hours and I started quilting. The area behind our garage alongside our house is about the worst of it, and we desperately need to just clear the whole thing and turn it back into grass. But there are a few bright spots in there – crocii, daffodils, and hyacinths come up in the spring, we have one trillium that grows, although we haven’t been able to spot its bloom in the past few years, there’s a hosta, and then there are our 2 Casablanca lilies.

We planted three, but I’m not sure what ever happened to the third. I followed the advice of my mom, who very wisely advised me to plant a Casablanca lily directly outside our bedroom window. Fortunately, this is one of the two that survived (and the other is just maybe 5 feet or so from the first). It blooms even though it has to contort itself past the fleet of volunteer maple trees that compete for the sun. And this year, amazingly, both Casablanca lilies, although bent way over to reach sunlight, look healthy.

Normally, around the same time that the lilies bloom is the dead middle of summer, and the temps are so hot we have the house closed up, the shades drawn, and the AC cranked (mostly because of Toby, who seems to handle the heat the worst of the 5 of us). This year, we’ve been lucky. The past few days have been pleasantly cool – even today, I think the high temp was 80 – so we’ve had all the windows open and the outside breezes blowing in.

Our bedroom smells phenomenal. The Casablanca lily has a scent that’s probably best described as a floral vanilla. It is very strong. Only the lily that’s directly outside our window is currently blooming, and it only has 2 or 3 open blooms – there are a lot more on that plant that are still closed, and the other lily hasn’t opened at all yet (the picture at the top is taken of the other lily). There are a ton of closed blooms on that one as well, so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to smell like once more start opening. It’s absolutely intoxicating. I think it’s supposed to start getting a little warmer, so if I turn the AC on, I’ll just have to have it on during the day, and then open the house up at night, if only to have the smell come inside.

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Had a few interesting bug visitors today. This monarch butterfly was just hanging out on our milkweed for about an hour.

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But my favorite was this really cute red bug, who was also on the milkweed. I don’t know what kind of bug it is, I can only hope it’s not Killer Poison Death Bug or something. It was awfully cute.

Red Bug Takes Over the World

On the spinning front, I combed up about 4 ounces (a little less, actually) of these balls last night using bits and pieces of stuff I had laying around.

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Then I spun this.

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I took advantage of it being unblocked to shoot this photo.

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It looks like tempting yarny-brains to me, so I may see if I can get Travis to crop a new banner out of it for me to replace one of the animal ones on the blog. 🙂 Mmm, brains…

On the vacation front, as of right now, we’re kind of thinking about Missouri. Travis and I went camping there several times, I think 2 or 3 times when I was in college, and one other trip in the fall of 2000, I think we spent 2 nights at Meramec State Park on our way back from Colorado. We had Toby on that trip. That was the last time we headed out west (west past the Mississippi River, at least), since the next year we moved to Ohio. Travis has 2 weeks of vacation set aside for this year, and as much as I would love to go further west (or northwest – trust me, we’ve looked and looked at the page in the atlas with the Boundary Waters on it :), it’s too hard on the dogs to pack that much driving into 2 weeks. I’d really like to head out to New Mexico, or back to South Dakota or the Gunnison area of Colorado, and we may do that next year. We could space the driving out a little – maybe camp 2 nights at a halfway point, so the dogs wouldn’t be in the truck a ton 2 or 3 days in a row. We have a cap on the back, there are screened in windows we can open for fresh air, they have a bunch of blankets to lay on, and Travis even rigged them a fan as well, so they’ve got it pretty good, but Toby seems to get really stressed/excited. We’re still not sure if she’s freaking out. We know Bela does, but she just kind of curls up in a little ball and hides, unless we’re at a stoplight, and then she stands up and barks at things. But Toby just sits with her head peeking into the passway between the front and back of the truck and pants. And sometimes she starts breathing really hard. I think it’s because she knows she’s going somewhere fun and can’t wait to get there, but it could also be because she’s really freaked out. Either way, she’s stressed out, and then it stresses me out.

Anyway, the first state park we’re thinking about camping at is about a 10 hour drive from us, according to Mapquest, which isn’t so bad, since we may hop to Muncie first and spend the night with Travis’ mom and Bob. I think that would cut about 3 hours off of the long day of driving. When I wasn’t being impeded by the cat, I was looking at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which is pretty much smack in the middle of Missouri.

Missouri has an awesome state park system, and the Mark Twain National Forest is managed similarly well, which is one reason why I’ve always wanted to head back to Missouri. One example – Missouri features photographs of every single campsite in their state parks on their website. How cool is that? You can see in advance if the campsites are packed obnoxiously close together (which hasn’t been a problem we’ve ever encountered there) and if there’s plenty of shade or what. Also, their rules about dogs basically come down to “Dogs are welcomed, as long as they’re on a 10 foot max leash and their owners are responsible and pick up their poops.” I can deal with that.

We’ve normally camped in the south-eastern part of the state, and Lake o’ the Ozarks is further west than that, so that’ll be fun. We’re thinking about maybe spending a week there, because it looks like there’s a ton of nice, little trails that won’t overly exert us or the dogs, and then spending a week at Roaring River State Park, which is in the south west corner of the state. Roaring River also has a bunch of nice little trails, but is conveniently adjacent to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. And frankly, I’m the type of person who, even if we can’t head really far out west this trip, is going to take the chance to at least drive over the border into Kansas and Oklahoma just to say we did. Arkansas is pretty cool, too – we’ve camped there before as well, and there’s a lot of neat stuff in that area of the state. We actually mined for diamonds once in Arkansas! Neat!

Normally, Travis and I (mostly me) make these big plans for vacation, and then something catastrophic happens (hurricanes, mudslides, forest fires, miscellaneous acts of god) to make us change our plans at the last minute – and I mean at the last minute. We’ve changed our vacation plans before the actual morning that we’ve left on vacation. Fortunately, we never make reservations anywhere. So if we actually wind up going to Missouri this year, it’ll be kind of a surprise. But this last minute change-of-plans thing has meant we’ve wound up with a bunch of state atlases from states that we’ve never been to yet: New York, Vermont, New Mexico, South Carolina (okay, we’ve been there before, but not since we had the atlas). I always like to get a state atlas for where we’re going to spend the most amount of time on vacation, because the state atlases have just about every road that exists in them, and also a nice big section in the beginning about all sorts of fun and weird and outdoorsy things there are to do in that state. Ironically, we do not own the Missouri state atlas yet, but I think I’m going to order it in about 2 seconds. Although why Amazon chooses to pair it together with the state atlas of Utah is beyond me. If it was paired with Arkansas, I would buy them both. Why won’t they cater to my whims?

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