It’s going to be a beautiful day for geocaching!

Sunrise from Sparks, NV

Sunrise from Sparks, NV

Sunrise from Sparks, NV…cool clouds.

Sunrise from Sparks, NV…cool clouds.

Same sunrise, only from UNR and about 20 minutes later.

Same sunrise, only from UNR and about 20 minutes later.

Birds and Flowering Trees ~ 18 March 2015 ~ Sparks Marina


And…a squirrel nose.

And…a squirrel nose.

Steam Engine 844 ~ UP150 Express in Sparks, Nevada

The Union Pacific’s steam engine No. 844 was in Sparks, Nevada yesterday…and I took the day off to go see it! Most of the photographs are taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150 in Film Grain mode.

No. 844 is traveling 13,000 miles through 15 states as part of Union Pacific’s 150th anniversary celebration. The tour makes its next stop in Ogden, Utah, on Saturday, September 22. From Ogden, the UP 150 Express heads to Sparks, Nevada, for a stop on September 26. The sixth leg of the tour will conclude when No. 844 anchors a huge, two-day signature event in Old Sacramento September 29-30 that will include free excursion train rides and free entrance into both the California State Railroad Museum and Sacramento History Museum.

The traveling exhibit takes visitors back in time using the latest interactive touch screen technology to illustrate how Union Pacific supported communities as they were established along the way as the transcontinental railroad was built. The interactive experience culminates with the modern Union Pacific Railroad, which transports goods American businesses and consumers use every day.

Steam Locomotive No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad. It was delivered in 1944. A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger. When diesels took over all of the passenger train duties, No. 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska between 1957 and 1959. It was saved from being scrapped in 1960 and held for special service. The engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific’s ambassador of goodwill.

Grey Hawks ~ Nesting Pair in Sparks, NV

We were playing horse shoes (yes, I lost again…skunked once) at a small park in Sparks, NV along the Truckee River when I heard some loud squawking in the trees overhead. I finally found one of the squawkers who was calling out to her mate, he was sitting in the pine tree not far away.

Me thinks they are a pair of nesting Grey Hawks…more like I think they are Grey Hawks, I know they are nesting as I saw the nest. 🙂

And the big guy she was talking too…

The nest is on the lower left corner…

Quilt Blocks ~ What I’m Working On

The same day that the quilt contest voting started at Ben Franklin Crafts…they called me up to say I won March’s quilt blocks! Woo Hoo!

Every month you buy what looks to be almost a 1/8 yard of fabric for 99 cents and make a quilt block. Then you bring it back in and your name is put into a basket. First day of the next month they draw a name.

Here are the blocks I won…

The fabric was that lime green floral one. Can you pick mine out? I’ll give you a hint…it’s the brightest one there! Me thinks I will take mine out and just use the other nine…put the not so bright purple one in the middle of them all.

Here is April’s fabric:

And here is my block so far…I um…hmmm…sorta ran out of the fabric before I could finish the block. All I need is 3″x3″! Sheesh.

Mystery Quilt Finished

I finished binding my quilt entry to the Ben Franklin’s Mystery Quilt contest. The one that you had to make a 40×40 quilt incorporating the fabrics given to you along with any additional fabrics of your choice.

One thing I learnt while making this…if you’re going to add a border onto the back, you better make sure it’s the same as on the front! That way when you go to quilt you don’t have a line down the middle of your back border. (Quilting by sticth in the ditch…would not matter if I did it by free motion!)

Big Sigh. I’m learning. 🙂

For the top I used 9 crazy nine patches and four pinwheels, turned them on point and then added two borders. I used all of the fabric in the binding…as the back too. I kind of like the back more so than the front…simple and clean. Unfortunately…I goofed on the thin blue border. The front is 35×35 while the back is 35×34…and the finish size of the quilt is 37×37.

First Day of Spring in Northern Nevada ~ March 2009

After begging for last Friday off from work…I spent the whole day in my yard! And while my body revolted on Saturday…it felt VERY GOOD! Especially with it being sunny and 70F (then it was blowing & snowing and 40F over the weekend!)

Started at 7am in the back patio cutting the 6′ dog-eared cedar fencing down to 63″ (I had painted them the night before)…I needed to make a 4 foot section of fence to replace the tree/shrub my husband cut down on the side of the property. Took me about an hour to put it all together by myself…if you don’t look hard enough you can’t tell it’s a bit crooked. 🙂

Four Foot Section of New Fence ~ Right Side.

Four Foot Section of New Fence ~ Right Side.

After getting the fence up I headed to Lowes to pick up some things I will need for the drip system. I didn’t get all I needed to do last year, so will finish it up this spring. While there I HAD to make a detour outside to look at all the new plants that came in. I bought some small containers of herbs ~ dill, lemon thyme, spearmint, oregano and something else that escapes me at the moment. Also some cabbage and broccoli.

Called my mom to see if she was home and if she wanted to go with me to G & G Nursery (I can’t find a website for them, but here is a map with some reviews) with me to look for blueberry plants. So I swung by and picked her up…found the blueberries! Yippie! G & G Nursery has 3-year old Blue Crop and Berkeley plants…bought 2 to go with the one my mom gave me from her yard. Also bought the last of the elderberry plants (the berry one and not the ornamental ones…they have lots of those).

While looking at which blueberries to buy I spied a wee Blue Atlas Cedar in a 10 gallon tub…with no price on it. He told me that I can get it for 30% off if I wanted it…I said I wanted it, but would have to wait until I get paid. My mom bought it! 🙂 THANKIES! (Remind me to remind you that you already bought me an early, very early birthday present!) So we loaded up the car with the plants and swung by my house, unloaded the Lowes and G&G Nursery plants then hopped into the pickup to go get the tree.

I now have a Blue Atlas Cedar in the front yard!

I now have a Blue Atlas Cedar in the front yard!

See all the river cobbles around the tree? Well those came from the hole I dug for the tree…I told you last year I think a river ran through my yard. I’m pretty sure if we looked at old maps that it would show the Truckee River meandered through my yard pre-1915!

I also planted the 2 blueberries (plants in corner…with blueberry from mom’s house), 1 elderberry (right side) and 2 jasmine plants (left side) in the corner where I put up the new part of the fence. I’m hoping that if I build some hay houses for the jasmine that they will live through our winters…gotta give it a try!

Blueberries, Edlerberry, and Jasmine.

Blueberries, Elderberry, and Jasmine.

I’m debating on planting the herbs in the middle…probably in a small raised bed. Or they may go up front with the Blue Atlas Cedar. Right now they are in the old wash sink in the side room of the house. And since cabbage and broccoli are cool weather plants, I went ahead and planted them in the back raised garden beds.

Also planted ~ a packet of Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds that I found at my local Lowes in Sparks… these are for the Great Sunflower Project I told you about last week.

Lemon Queen Sunflower Seeds

Lemon Queen Sunflower Seeds

Around 4pm I wandered back into the house and realized I didn’t take anything out to make dinner…nor was I in any shape to go out and get something. Luckily I had a bag of leftover ham in the freezer…and some lentils in the pantry…chopped up an onion and a green chile, put that and the lentils and the frozen ham into my cast iron pot, poured some chicken broth over the whole thing. Then crawled into the shower.

Very sore on Saturday…but I wouldn’t ever trade a day like Friday for anything but another day just like it! 🙂 I get a lot done with my husband at work and out of my way! LOL!

The Great Beet Massacre of Sparks, Nevada

BULLETIN NEWS FLASH! Woman Found Red-handed Massacring 16 Beets in Sparks, Nevada! Ohhhh!!! The HUMANITY of It All! Stay tuned for details!

That would have been the headline on the evening news if anyone saw my kitchen on Saturday afternoon…my first attempt at making Pickled Beets.

What was I thinking? I’ll tell you one thing I was thinking…Beets are pretty hard to peel! It’s not as easy as it sounds! And messy! I’m soooo glad my husband was out of the house when I massacred the beets!

First I boiled the beets for about 30-40 minutes…roots intact with about 2″-3″ of tops.

Then put them in a cold bath. Once somewhat cooled I cut off the root and tops…then pondered how to skin’em. I read that you could just slip the skin off after boiling them. HA! They lied! My sink looked like this when I was finished…

All I kept thinking was “those damned beets are gonna stain my wood floor and 80 year old sink!” Thank goodness for bleach spray.

Then I sliced them about 1/4″ thick…

During all that ~ I had simmering (after a boil) on the stove a pot of sliced onions, apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, salt, and a bag of pickling spices.

Which was then added to the beets and then simmered for 3 minutes before adding to the canning jars…took 40 minutes in the hot bath due to high altitude adjustments. Was able to get 5 pints out of it all.

Oh yeah…made 5 more pints of Kosher Dill Pickles too. We ate all the ones I canned from the garden!

ACER saccharum ‘Green Mountain’ Maple

Meet our new member to our front yard ~ a very handsome Green Mountain sugar Maple! I’m all ah’giddy! I’ve had my mind set on a new tree for the front yard for over a year now. Back and forth between a fruitless Mulberry type or a Maple of some sort. Then I settled on I WANT COLOR IN THE FALL! So the Maple won out.

Then came googling Maples. I wanted a flashy tree for October ~ and came up with October Glory. I had my heart set on that one…seemed it would be perfect for our yard. But…there weren’t very many of them in the Reno/Sparks area. The nursery closest to my house had a few, but wanted $140 for a 15 gallon tree. Kept calling around and found one in Reno for $76. Better price.

Called the next closest nursery to my house, Rail City Garden Center. They did not have the October Glory, but did have two other sugar Maples that I might like. One being the Green Mounatin sugar Maple.
They had 3 of them for $76.99…since I would rather give a local nursery my money we went there to take a peeksee.

The Green Mountain Sugar Maple, ‘Acer saccharum “Green Mountain”, is a very handsome deciduous tree with leathery leaves. This showy tree is upright and oval in shape. This tree is noted for its improved performance in dry restricted growing areas such as areas close to pavement. The Green Mountain carries all of the characteristics of the Sugar Maple with the strong limbs and the gorgeous fall color and the seeds are inconspicuous and causes no significant litter problems.

The Green Mountain is used for wide tree lawns, screens, shade, and as specimen tree. It is also good street tree. The leathery leaves and durable foliage resists heat and drought. Sugar Maple is among the most shade tolerant of large deciduous trees. Like other maples, its shade tolerance is manifested in its ability to germinate and persist under a closed canopy as an understory plant.

Anyhoo…Rail City Garden Center has BEAUTIFUL 15 gallon trees ~ and they were 30% off! Our tree cost us $53 ~ bought it, they tagged it and held onto it for a day while I dug a hole. We figured it would take a day to dig the bloody hole since there are so many rocks in our property. But someone must have actually dug them out of the lawn as I didn’t hit rocks until I was about 15″ down. YEAH! It’s standing nice and tall now out front.

My upper back arm muscles (triceps?) are killing me now from pulling up the lawn…a yard circle with 8″ of dirt attached to the bottom is hard! I wanted to keep it in one piece JUST IN CASE we dug into pipes (which happened to the first hole…ran into some very old looking metal pipes, not sure what they were so I re-filled the hole and started over again).

A Weekend in the Juniper War Zone

I’m very, very, very tired today. And my arms and legs look like I was in the middle of a cat fight…and lost. My hands are swollen and hurt…carpal tunnel will be hurting them for a few weeks. 😦

It’s amazing how much work we’ve done, yet have soooo much more to do. So far two truck loads and 26 trash bags…at least one more truck load and many more bags to go. There are two Arborvitae to take out, one more juniper and lots of trunks.

I’ve sketched out in my mind what we will do in that area once finished…immediately in the corner next to the church will be plants like Flutterby Bush, Russian Sage, and Lavender…then there will be an area left open facing the street for a future drive pad…then a Fruitless Mulberry tree.

Yesterday while taking a break I was just staring into that mess when five of the “teenager” scrub jays went to investigate. They loved the trunks…great place to crack open their goobers. And the black cat across the street had the funniest confused look on his face…staring up and looking around where, I’m sure, he used to lay in wait, under cover, to attack birdies.

It boggles my mind why ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would plant junipers! There are so many prettier shrubs to plant ~ like butterfly bushes, forsythia, barberry, hydrangea, lilacs!