Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jason the Conquerer

I've come to the conclusion that men and women are wired differently. I know - I should have reached this conclusion by the age of 3, or at least 5, especially given the crazy situations that my male cousins would get into, i.e. "Mark's on the roof again!" or something of the sort.

But seriously - here is my latest example of how differently we are wired:

The last time we were in Grand Teton (last month), Jason saw a book in the visitor's center called "Mountaineering in the Tetons", and just had to have it.

Since then, he has read it cover to cover, and from what I can gather has become very inspired by crazy men from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They were crazy men - no ropes or modern equipment. Jason is now regularly talking about free climbing and mountaineering up colliers (we can't agree on the spelling, and since we don't have the book with us here in Jackson, can't check it).

Now, he sees a mountain and is planning how to climb to the summit.

Me? I see a mountain and I think "Oooh. Pretty." and that's where it stops.

This morning, we hiked about 8 miles before noon, and a good half of those miles were straight uphill.

And it was gorgeous.

But we ended up a third of the way up one of the Tetons before Jason would consider coming down. I wasn't going to hike any further in the snow. Jason was thinking, "Well, we've made it this far, let's just keep going."

Check out this video to see where we were:

I love my husband. I love that he needs to conquer. I love that his need to conquer pushed me up a mountain to this kind of view today.

But geez... left to my own devices? I'd take a flat hike with some wildlife viewing, and looking at the mountain from the base. "Oooh, Pretty."

That's why we're so good for each other. I keep him from trying to summit, and he keeps me hiking up the hill.

A metaphor for marriage, don't you think?

Chasing Jason up the mountain.

And the funny thing is, I heard the same conversation from another family on the same hike. The father and son immediately plowed up the snow covered mountainside, headed at least to the waterfalls above. The mother and daughter decided to sit on a rock and wait for them.

Then.... the mother in all her guilt decided to go, hollering at her husband, "Wait up, honey, I'm coming!" Her husband, 100 feet above her, turned around and yelled, surprised, "Really?"

I bet she didn't regret going at all, and I bet going with kept her husband and son from doing something stupid.

See? Balance.

Tomorrow? Jason must Conquer again. :) "Oooh. Pretty."

Taken yesterday by a stranger at the top of Signal Hill in Teton. For the record, I got dressed FIRST that morning... Jason copied me. And yes, our matchy-matchy outfits are gross.

On an early part of our hike today, at the lower falls, when I was still easy to convince to keep hiking upward.

At the top, ready to start down.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More than a week?

Since I've blogged?!

Seriously - the days have FLOWN. We're in the last few days of our first round of guests here at the ranch, and life has been a whirlwind.

The guests are great people and fun to be around. Man, am I tired, though! Because I'm such a zombie still, I'm going to save a REAL post for a few more days and just show you some more of the things that make me happy around here. :)

OH! The flowers finally went out last Wednesday, and look GORGEOUS, dahhhhling! And I got to go for a horse ride with our wrangler (Savannah) today while the guests were all off on a fishing expedition.

And it was sunny and didn't rain today. :) Life is good!

Small update: After dinner, one of the dogs, Buddy, got his leg stuck and we think it's broken in multiple places. They've run him into town to the Emergency Vet, but I'm really worried about him. He's an old golden retriever with arthritis, and the sweetest dog. I'm partial to him after sharing the bunkhouse with him for two months. So... please say a prayer that sweet Buddy will be alright. Thanks!

The red, white and blue window boxes ready to go out on the lodge.

The Pink and Purple window boxes ready to go out on the Deer Creek Cabin.

Heirloom tomatoes, fresh from the garden. :)

Happy Zinnias - do you see the little stars surrounding the center?

Little Tristan's outfit this morning - THREE skirts, and under the skirts and fuzzy jacket, two bathing suits and a pair of too small leggings. My kind of girl! (I love it when they pick out their own outfits!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Indy's Big Adventure

Most days this past week, I've spent minimal time in the greenhouse and garden. Almost everything in there is ready to go outside on Wednesday, so as long as I water and deadhead the spent blooms, I can spend the rest of the day getting cabins and the outdoor kitchen ready for guests.

Indy is still leash-bound, since he can't get it into his brain that behavior off-leash = freedom. We're doing this to protect him - this is a wild place, and there are many, many things here that could kill or seriously maim a city dog. Plus, there's so much property and wilderness - he could get lost and never find his way back.

Okay, you get the picture. Indy LOOOOOVES to be outside (especially when it's sunny) and to bake himself. So, when I go to do housekeeping tasks for hours on end, I leave Indy in the garden and leave the Greenhouse door open so he can go in and out, get some water, chase the chipmunk, watch the horsies, and just have a good ol' time. It's much better than being cooped up in the cabin! Everyone on the ranch knows he's not allowed off-leash, and people go in and out of the garden all day long, whether I'm there or not.

Well, on Friday, someone walked out of the garden and left the gate open. Just before lunch, I headed back to the garden to check on him, only to have Darius pull up in the golf cart and tell me that he found Indy running around outside with the tennis ball in his mouth! He told him to get back in the garden AND INDY WENT! You have to understand - this is a HUGE step!

I get to the kitchen to help with the final lunch set-up and Mitch and J.W. come in and tell me that Indy followed them around for a good 5 minutes, and since he was having so much fun, they just let him have his freedom.


Fast forward to that night, I'm ready to take Indy back to the cabin after an afternoon in the garden. I have his leash in hand and think, "I wonder..."

So I open the gate - he darts out. I call him. He comes back! He darts off in another direction. I call him. He comes back! He takes off again. I call him. He's..... GONE! I chase him for twenty minutes, Jason heads toward the horses and the fishing pond on an ATV; I hop on another ATV (a spectacle in itself) and head towards the road.... and finally find him running full speed chasing something I can't see. And that turkey... I call him, and he turns and runs right back to me! Now - we haven't mastered "dog on ATV" like J.W. and his dog Lucky, so I leave the ATV blocking the driveway and walk Indy back.

He's still leash and garden bound.

But he wants you to know he had a GREAT time.

Questions about flowers

I've had a lot of questions - on this blog, by email, in person - wondering how I know enough about gardening to be running a greenhouse and garden of that size.

Here's the truth: While I have a green thumb (thanks, Mom), a lot of what I'm doing here is new to me - I'm growing flowers and veggies I've never grown before! What makes it all work is my stubborn refusal to fail at anything I do. I'm too much of a perfectionist to fail. Add to that a healthy dose of research before we left California, and a resource book that has saved my bacon more than a few times and I'm making it happen! The bosses are really happy with the garden and greenhouse, and the flower baskets and planters will all finally go out in a few short days. Fingers crossed that everything comes into bloom and looks beautiful for our first set of guests!

This is the best book on Gardening that I've read in the last few months, and can be found in most libraries! Check it out!

Anyhow, here's what I've observed in hopes of encouraging some of you to get out in your gardens, whether you have a black thumb or a green thumb. (And please, take all of these with a grain of salt, I'm no expert, just a hobbyist who's been thrown into the deep end!)

-Start small. Take on a planter or a few small terra cotta pots, and work on keeping those alive first. When you've kept those alive for a few weeks, and it doesn't seem overwhelming, add another planter or a few more pots.

-Water deeply or not at all. Most planters and pots do not need to be watered daily (unless you live somewhere very hot and/or dry), but when you do water them every other day or every third day, water deeply. When your soil immediately absorbs (within a second) the water you put on it - your soil is dry and your plants are thirsty. Water more deeply. But for God's sake, don't drown your plants - they'll rot. And if it's exceptionally hot and dry or your plants start to droop - water them, please!

-Try some easy veggies. Lettuces are easy, although not in the heat of mid-summer. They're a cool weather plant. All of you in LA, try them in late October through June, or choose one of the Red or Green Salad Bowl lettuces that are more heat resistant, and make sure they get some shade at some point of the day. You can pick the leaves as needed and leave the plant to continue to grow - Bonus! Make sure you squash any slugs you find! If you like Radishes, they're a quick, satisfying and undemanding crop. They don't take up much space at all, and within 25 days of them putting up their first leaves, you harvest them. :) Or put a pot of tomatoes on your back patio. They are delicious and bountiful during the summer! Plus, homegrown tomatoes have SOOOO much more flavor than the ones you buy in the store!

-With flowers, I've found these to be pretty easy:
*Geraniums A perennial in Southern California - they'll produce blooms for years without much fuss. Just deadhead - or remove - the spent blossoms. And the plants themselves have a really neat smell.
*Pansies are great in Spring or Fall. Their cheerful faces will make you smile. Just find them some shade during the heat of summer!
*Petunias Require a lot of deadheading, but a healthy petunia plant will bloom profusely and just requires you to water it. Plus, petunias can be found in a rainbow of colors and many different sizes. I like the ones that really spread and crawl!)
*Dahlias make me happy. They have bright bold colors and will bloom for months. Easy to care for, and they like being in pots! Bonus - since they're technically a bulb, cut them back when they're done at the end of the season, and they'll come back next year!

-Try an herb pot - herbs like their soil drier, less rich with nutrients, and don't like to be fertilized. And make sure they get plenty of sun! Water every few days. Start with Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano. They're easy to care for and it's so convenient to snip fresh herbs instead of settle for dried. :)

-Buy yourself a nice pair of gardening gloves. It's amazing how much braver they'll make you in the long run. I'm not afraid of getting into anything with my heavy duty gloves on!

-Go to a real nursery or garden center. NOT the ones at Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc... Here's the reason - a nursery or garden center generally has employees who may ACTUALLY KNOW something about gardening or be able to help you and answer questions. Plus, I've found that the plants from these places are usually healthier!

-Use organic fertilizers. They're healthier for you and our environment! If you don't compost (and I assume most of you don't), then this is my FAVORITE fertilizer: WORM POWER It's made from the castings of worms - and my plants LOVE IT. I use the worm power shower (it's a tea), and within a few days the plants go crazy from it! (Note: I love and use this product, and am not by any means a paid endorser!)

-Be patient. Growing anything takes time!

If I can do it, so can you. And I can tell you that I have accidentally killed a couple of plants along the way. There's always something to be learned from that, too! Did you over or under water? Does it need more sun or shade? Is it root-bound? Figure it out!

Let me know if I can help you in any way!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What Makes Me Happy

If you read my blog you already know it's been a rough/busy week or so. Instead of harping on that (cause who wants to hear it anyway?), I thought I'd share images of some of the things that make me happy around here! (And truth be told, even when it's a bit of a crappy week, we're still VERY happy here!)

Visiting Yellowstone and Teton with Jason.

Hiking to places like this!

Crazy looking zucchini from the garden.

Hammocks and lawn chairs around a fire pit.

Cosmos. Ain't she sweet?

Fat, happy sunflowers.

Seeing all these blooms every day.

Blue Bachelor's Button Cornflowers like this little guy.

Green leaves returning to trees.

Clean cabins ready for guests.

Fat little Robins that make me feel like Mary in the Secret Garden.

And these guys...

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Cabin!

Okay... It's not perfectly spotless (and truthfully in life is anything ever perfectly clean), but here it is!
View from the front:

The next four photos are clockwise from the front door:

Looking in from the front door

Walk in closet and shelving:


Sink (that's our little water heater underneath - super hot and enough for one LOOOONG shower!):

So that's our little cabin! We're really happy in it!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Excuses, excuses

I'm full of them today. Excuses, that is, as to why I'm not blogging as often and haven't yet posted photos of the new cabin.

As I've already said this week (broken record, I know), it is busy, busy, busy time here on the ranch. I have about a week and a half left of crazy season, and then life mellows out once the guests start arriving. This is really the busiest time of the whole summer for me, and I can't wait until it's in my rearview. I'm not one to wish away time, but I'm just wiped out.

Then, I just keep waiting for the cabin to be perfect before I take pictures of it for you. I realized yesterday that this would never happen, and planned to take the photos tonight irregardless. Unfortunately, our water heater went kaput and I had to pull everything out of the bathroom so they could fix it. It's still not really back together (busy....) and I refuse to show it in this state. So... I promise you will have photos in the next few days. I'm sure you were waiting with bated breath. (And our water heater is working brilliantly now! Hooray!)

So those are my excuses. I promise I'll get over them.

In the meantime, go check out Jason's blog and see what he was up to today - it's a rodeo activity called Double Mugging and involves my husband wrestling a steer. He says it's like playing football again. J.W. says that he took to it like no one he's ever seen - no fear, no hesitation. Jason was built to tackle. I didn't get to see it this time (same ol' excuses) but I will make it a point to capture it on camera for you next week. :) (Also, ff you go and visit his blog you'll get to see some photos of the delicious food we've continued to be spoiled with!)

And check out this awesome zucchini blossom on the massive plant I have growing in one of the beds in the greenhouse. It's gone bonkers! This photo is about a week old and there are many more blossoms and 4-5 inch zucchinis on the plant now. Very cool. :)

We're finally being blessed with some gorgeous weather (short sleeves today, and sandals after work!), so we're headed into Yellowstone tomorrow to hike on one of the open trails. :) Gotta go really early to get through Sylvan Pass before they close it!

Check back later this week for Cabin Photos (promise) and some basic gardening tips for those of you who don't think you have a green thumb!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trees sometimes fall...

...on people. Some are lucky, some aren't. Today, we were lucky ones. Jason was walking past this tree and CRASH - here it comes, striking him on the shoulder on its way to the ground. I didn't see it, just the aftermath, but I am so prayerfully grateful that he is okay. That really could have been disastrous, and it makes my heart ache to think of what could have happened. He's just fine, although I think he might be a little sore tomorrow. (His biggest complaint are actually his allergies - they've knocked him for a loop! What a way to celebrate our 8 month wedding anniversary - with a husband who wasn't killed by a falling tree. I'll take that - allergies and all.

It's still crazy busy here on the ranch. Thank God I have some help with the housekeeping, but there are still not enough hours in the day. I'm exhausted! The one thing I AM doing is being ferociously protective of my free hours. I start work at 8 and I knock off at 5. Period. I don't care what has to be done, I'm off in my free hours. :)

Thought I'd update you on the flower pot I've been posting photos of. The photo on the left is from April 28 and the one on the right is from today (June 2). No blooms yet - we haven't had enough sunshine lately, but I'm hoping and praying everything starts to bloom soon, since all the planters and pots have to go out in a week and a half! Isn't it amazing how quickly plants grow?

I'm so sorry I don't have the mental energy to write more today. I do have a few posts stewing around in my brain still, but today I'd be doing them (and you, I think) a disservice since my writing would not be up to par.

Love and hugs from the Hawkeye!