Friday, October 21, 2011

It's More Like a Black Thumb

As last spring rolled around, we were so excited to head outside and plant some beautiful greenery for our curb appeal. After some dark mulch was added around the bright green plants and cacti, we felt like we had a welcome and maintained look for people as they walked up to our house. I went outside on countless occasions just to see how well everything turned out. It was pretty!

And then summer happened. And all but two of our gorgeous plants headed to the happy hunting grounds. We even managed to kill off a cactus. How does that even happen!

A month of record-heat temperatures, that's how.

Luckily, since it's cooling down, we decided to risk it again by planting some new things in our front patch just yesterday. And by "cooling down," I mean it was 101 degrees. We visited a local nursery and found lots of beautiful and hardy plants that could handle drought and high-heat situations. Since they face south and might not get water every day, we figured we needed all the help we could get.

The survivors were the Natal Plumb and one Barrel Cactus. They still look brand-new, though neither grew very much since being in the ground. Our big guy this time around is a Texas Sage. We filled in the other holes with a Little Johns and a Boxleaf. I refuse to pay $30 for a cactus, so I headed to Home Depot to buy a few smaller cacti to fill in the rest of the space. For about $40 total, we were able to completely redo the front walkway to our home!

I love how it looks, but I'm already scared that things will die. We have such a hard clay in this dirt, which is native to Arizona and probably contributed to the killing of our spring plants. To prevent this from happening, Hubby mixed in some dry grass clippings to keep the dirt broken up and loose. This will hopefully allow the roots to grow and spread in a healthy manner instead of being stopped by the clay. In addition, planting now will give the plants the entire winter to become hardy enough to stand up to next summer's heat. We purposely picked plants that don't have to be covered for frost, either. For those two nights a year. I love living in Arizona!

Should we call it lazy landscaping? We want maintenance-free but beautiful curb appeal. Is that too much to ask?!

While we were working outside, I cleaned all of the windows. These three receive the most brunt from summer storms, so they had lots of hard water stains and dirt ready to be removed. My mom's old trick of newspaper and vinegar worked, and then I polished with my glass cleaner and some paper towels. It looks amazing, and I love being able to see outside with having to squint through the water spots!

We sure love having this home. And we love being able to make it our own. I don't know what we'll do if these plants decide they are too good for this world. Concrete might be my next solution!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And the Week Goes On

We all know the highlight of my week was eating at Leatherby's Family Creamery in Salt Lake City. The original plan was to go to Utah on Tuesday, so my hopes were crushed when it got bumped back a few days. I kept thinking about their caramel sauce and loads of toasted almond ice cream. Luckily, I was able to get that goodness in me on Thursday! I made a special exception for my no-sugar-during-the-week goals to make room for the best caramel sauce I've ever tasted. And I've tasted a few in my day.

But there I go getting ahead of myself because it's my favorite topic!

We left Omaha around 10:00 AM after sleeping at the Country Inn and Suites not too far from the airport. The flooding that we experienced on our visit here this past summer has subsided slightly. At least I could see most of the freeways not covered in water this time! When Big Boss arrived, they convened in the conference room to decide the next location. After half an hour of tense deliberation, Denver was agreed upon for our next stop. Phew! That's what we fueled for, so it worked out! The flight took about an hour and a half to go from flat Omaha to beautiful mountainous Denver. We landed at the Metro Airport on the northwest side of town.

Though he said it would be just a few hours here, we actually stayed for over five. These are the moments that I really wish I had a nook or Kindle. I don't dare leave the airport because Big Boss could arrive at any time. And I hate watching television to pass the time. I wish I had a bunch of books at my fingertips without having to carry them around all week. It's on my wish list for sure, even though Hubby doesn't think I would use it!

My passengers came with a sweet surprise...the best peaches I've ever tasted in my life. We ate one on the flight to Salt Lake City, and I was simply in heaven. If peaches tasted like that all the time, they would certainly be my favorite fruit (don't worry, Red Grapes. You're safe in that highly-esteemed position forever). We stole one of the passengers to treat him to Leatherby's after we landed. Luckily, they have a little-known location just a few miles from the airport. With road construction (in Utah?! That's new...), the twenty-minute drive felt like an eternity to me. I had been talking this ice cream up all week and could hardly wait to share it with Terry and Sean. 

I split a grilled cheese sandwich and fries with Sean before we each ordered our own ice cream. Sean opted for a hot fudge sundae with a hidden banana inside. Terry ate a pastrami burger and still managed to polish off the Allan's Black and Tan. So impressive! I had my usual...Karen's Small Sundae with toasted almond ice cream and more caramel than most people can handle. It was worth the wait all week...and everyone agreed that it lived up to my constant bragging about this place. I love Leatherby's. Period. If I lived closer to one, I'd be in a lot of trouble.

After a few hours in Salt Lake, we were surprised with the announcement that we were headed home! I flew right over my hometown and then waived to my sister's house outside of Richfield. Did you hear me fly over? We landed shortly after 10:00 PM. in toasty Phoenix.

Omaha - Denver/Metro - Salt Lake City - Phoenix

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Not Minot? Freezin's the Reason

Wednesday morning came bright and early. The passengers arrived an hour late, but it gave me a chance to talk to the FAA guys who fly a Learjet 60 around the western states to test the Navaids. Pretty cool! I loaded their bags when my passengers finally arrived, and we were on our way to Fargo! We were originally heading to Boise, but he called just a few minutes before arriving that morning and changed his mind to North Dakota, eh?

We were in Fargo long enough to grab a quick bite to eat at Applebee's. They brought an extra passenger with them for our next flight to Minot, which was back-tracking about forty minutes. It allowed me to see some beautiful, flat country. It's way better in the non-winter months! I have never landed at Minot, though I've flown over it a time or two. The Air Force Base there flies B-52 of my favorite-of-all-time airplanes!

Side Story: my childhood dentist said they would draw up fake transfer papers for people they didn't like in the Air Force. The worst place they could think to send someone was always Minot! They have ropes tied between the hangars so people don't get lost in a blizzard and die. One can only withstand negative sixty degrees for so long, after all! I don't miss living in North Dakota, though I really enjoyed my time spent there. Looking back, I don't know how I did it!

After just an hour in Minot, and watching three Army Chinook Helicopters take off (too cool!), we were on our way back to Fargo to drop off our extra passenger. We only shut down one engine, opened the door, and sent him on his way. We were soon airborne again and on our way to Minneapolis.

We flew through some rainstorms and landed at Anoka Blaine County Airport on the north side of the city. It was pouring rain during our entire stay. We had a chance to run for a quick dinner and found a neat sandwich shop. Which Wich will certainly be visited by me again! Big Boss called and wanted to be picked up further south at the main Minneapolis airport. I have never been here in a private airplane. but this airline terminal has some of the best people-watching I've ever seen. Since I lived in Grand Forks, all layovers were spent in KMSP. What a neat place!

After getting our passengers, we were on our way for our last stop of the night. We arrived in Omaha shortly after 11:00 PM. The hotel had entered our reservations incorrectly, so it was frustrating waiting for them to fix their problem. Half an hour later, I was the last one checked in and off to my room.

What a day! Seven cities over 18 hours.

Spokane - Fargo - Minot - Fargo - Minneapolis/Anoka - Minneapolis - Omaha

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Mild Day Indeed

Tuesday was much better than Monday. Although my passengers were about five hours late to the airplane, and that could have been precious time for sleep at the hotel, we had a pretty easy day of flying. I think this is first time in almost five years that Big Boss only flew once in a day. 

They had quite a bit to see in Seattle, which is why they were so late in arriving at the airplane for our next trip. We flew just forty minutes east to the other side of the state...Spokane. I love this stop. It's beautiful! And the leaves were beginning to change! My Mom used to do her school shopping here as a kid when they lived just over the border in Ideeho. I always feel closer to her in Spokane. I don't know why!

I'm pretty sure my mouth was agape when Big Boss told us to get rooms here for the night. They had about five stops to make in town (and in some surrounding towns as well), and it was already after 6:00 PM by the time we landed. I kept their bags and took them to the hotel for them, and we were soon about three miles away at the Ramada for the night. I was so tired...lots of sleep debt from yesterday's flying. After a quick bite at one of my favorites, Old Spaghetti Factory, it was back to the hotel for some shut-eye.

I knew the alarm was going to sound way too soon for my liking, so I hit the hay pretty early.

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