Oct 4, 2015

Ponderize- I love the Lord

I've always been blessed with a believing heart and most of the time obedience is easy for me. I realize the great truth that the Lord will bless me when I obey His commandments.

Today in General Conference Elder Devin Durrant gave us two challenges... tonight I want to talk about the second one (but the first one is excellent advice also).

He introduced his made up word-

(And anyone who knows me knows I love made up words!)

So in that spirit of obedience I accept the challenge! I want my *packets of light* to increase. I want my confidence to wax strong. I want to enjoy the blessings of having a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

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And why have I chosen this scripture over all the thousands there are to choose from? As part of my commitment to increase my spiritual strength I will go back to my paper scriptures instead of my electronic scriptures. So tonight I opened my scriptures at random and found these words- already loved and highlighted from an early time.

Prayer has always been a great comfort to me and I bear testimony that the Lord hears and answers our prayers...

Do we always get what WE WANT? Thank goodness, no. The Lord, in His wisdom, guides us down the path He wants us to tread... carrying us when necessary.

Sep 28, 2015

Grammie's Helper

This fall I have the blessing of having Fiona and Liam come to my house every other Monday. I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoy this time with these sweet babies. There is just something magical about have being with grandchildren one on one... but to have them at my house is even sweeter.

I bought a flat of strawberries at Ream's on Saturday evening and put the directly into the fridge. This morning I noticed that a couple of the boxes had a *hairy* strawberry in it and needed my attention. After putting Liam down for his morning nap Miss Bitty and I tackle the job of strawberry washing.

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Call me silly, but I don't just rinse my strawberries. I like to  put them into a sink of water and swish them around. *Nona* helped me put them into the cold water... some got the dump and others got to go in one at a time. Of course there was a liberal amount of tasting.

This little girl (who JUST turned two) speaks in complete sentences, just like a big person. It always blows me away that we have conversations!

When we'd fished all of the washed strawberries out of the left sink and into the waiting colander I pointed out to Miss Nona how dirty the water was and that is why we wash them.

Without missing a beat she said, "Looks like they pooped in the water!" Bwahahaha!

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Since all I planned on doing with this flat of berries was to freeze them for *Grammie's Shake-its* our job was soon completed. Such a happy day.

Sep 23, 2015

Alpine Loop & Cascade Springs

Last week was, well, let's just say... stressful. I was in the final preparation for the Primary Sacrament Meeting presentation (which I'm in charge of), did Grammie-duties three times, bottled spaghetti sauce, forgot and, fortunately remembered, that I needed to come up with the printed program for Sunday's meeting, remembered in the nick of time that I was also getting the popcorn treat for Sunday's reward sharing time, planning and having 3rd Sunday Grammie Dinner, plus lots of other things I'm forgetting like walking, mowing, etc.

So when Monday morning dawned I was READY for a little R and R! I suggested that Gordon and I make the annual Alpine Loop drive (that my Dee-Lor-EE-Ous and I used to make) in his 1990 Reatta convertible... the best way to enjoy that drive!

As we were leaving Gordon hinted that perhaps we should bring Harley, who heretofore has been banned from a ride in the classic car! He was DE-lighted to be included and behaved himself like a very responsible doggy-boy in Poppa's special car.

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There are so many happy memories on this drive... most of them with DeLoris, but also a fair-few with Gordon. It is just one of those drives that makes my heart happy.

This was always our first photo-op, looking back down at Sundance.

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The colors are more muted this year. Perhaps we were a little too early. Maybe we will have to go again.

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Gordon asked if I'd like to take the detour down to Cascade Springs. I always love this sweet place.  The first time I remember visiting here was in August 1981 with Gordon.

As I walked the trail that loops around the three different areas of Cascade Springs I was taken aback by a memory...

This beautiful trail...

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used to look like...


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"On Sept. 23, 2003, a prescribed burn to treat 600 acres of oak woodland near Cascade Springs on the Uinta National Forest went out of control, resulting in a 7,828-acre wildfire that sent smoke into the Salt Lake City-Provo area for a week."
2005 was the year that DeLoris and I started our annual tradition of driving the Alpine Loop together. I loved that first trip so well that Gordon, Buddi and I  repeated it a few days later and revisited Cascade Springs. I was grateful, this year, when I realized that the forest had regrown!

The upper springs always amaze me... all of this water just appears out of nowhere!

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As I was looking at the comparison photos I recognized that I had this same shot now, looking down into Cascade Springs...

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and 10 years ago.

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If you'd like to read more of my adventures from this annual tradition, just click on the Cascade Springs tag below the post.

Sep 15, 2015

The *Joys* of Home-Canning

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The following diatribe is somewhat tongue-in-cheek (I think!) but if this was my first experience with home canning it would also be my last.

I've worked for the last 6 hours to *put up* 8 pints of spaghetti sauce. Of course, these tomatoes came from my garden so that 6 hours doesn't include the time it took to have turf-war with the neighborhood swine-deer or the planting;  then the picking, washing, sorting and initial cooking done last night.

I put the pot of hot tomatoes in the garage last night to cool so the only thing I had to do this morning is send them through the Vitorio, add onions, celery, garlic (oops, forgot the garlic) and spices. The first setback arrived when I knocked the half-full pot of tomatoes off the counter (bending my good pot!) where they shot across the floor in a tomato tsunami and spattered all over the cabinets.

Gordon: Are you ok? Do you need help?
Joanie: No. Yes, bring me the two old pink towels from under the bath/laundry room counter.
Gordon: Sure sorry that happened.

Insert scene of Joanie spatulating, wiping, mopping, and cleaning cabinets and floor. Then a trip down to the the laundry sink to soak the mess out of the towels.

Joanie: Please help me remember to turn off that water. (Exit to dungeon to get onions while starting to feel frazzled.
Gordon: No problem. How long will that be?
Joanie: Until it is half full: about 5 minutes.

Insert more cleaning and chopping in the Ninja (thumb still intact!)

An indeterminate time later...

Gordon: Dam!
Joanie: I could have done this! (maniacal laughter)

Good thing I have quite a supply of old towels under said laundry sink counter to clean up the flood on the floor!

Cook and stir. Watch. Repeat. Continue cleaning all of the implements used to make this mess sauce.

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Tell me again... what is so wrong with buying that case of Prego spaghetti sauce?

Oh! I remember! It's because I love how home grown tomatoes taste and there is nothing like it.

Sometimes I wish I'd never tasted a home-grown tomato!

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Aug 16, 2015

Tomato-snatchin' Swine-Deer

This post has been two weeks in the writing... not that I've sat at the computer for 2 weeks, but the incident that perpetuated this post happened two weeks ago today.

I've learned a wonderful truth... if I keep moving DAILY I don't hurt as much. I used to *take Sunday off* from taking my walk but soon realized that those are the days that I REALLY hurt. Welp, I love walking enough that adding a 7th walk each week is, frankly, a delight.

So, Sunday a fortnight ago, Harley and I were just returning from our evening stroll. As I rounded the corner into my backyard movement in the tomato patch caught my eye. I caught two 4-legged thieves in the act of pilfering my prized tomatoes. (I'd noticed a partially eaten tomato a couple of day before and thought, stupidly, that it was the birds!) THEY were surprised at my untimely return and bolted, not towards me and out of harm's way, into the backyard... from which there is no escape! (Dun! Dun! Dun!)

I brandished my dog-deterring, fly swatter, sans the swat, and challenged, "And now what are you going to do?!" They stared mutely back. I loosed my fierce hound-companion on them. They quickly sized up the situation and decided that this Grammie looked less intimidating than said fierce hound and bolted past me and sailed crazily over the newly erected fence and existing hedge meant to keep THEM out and ran home to their mommy.

I waved my swatter-less swat again and hollered, "And don't come back!"

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I suppose that it was too much to hope that they would actually leave my open tomato patch alone, even though they've never ventured there before. This meant, you guessed it, more fence building.

My original plans from nearly two years ago had included this section that closes off the raised garden from the side parking area but I had hoped that I was really finished with the fence. No such luck.

I got another section of hog-panel and made a temporary fence whilst I build the new, TALLER section.

The first order of the business was posts. I measured and the center post, at 8 feet, landed right behind the beautiful boxwood bush on the left (pictured below).

WELL, THAT WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! I've nursed these babies for 10 year and they were finally filling the measure of their creation.

Plan change! I trussed up Bush 2 and Bush 3 like a couple of big fat Christmas turkeys and dug the center post hole between them.

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The weather has heated up (it is summer, ya'know!) so I didn't work as fast this time. I took 3 days to put in 3 posts. That used up most of week 1.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I got a surprise visit from my niece, Jill, and her family. They've never been here before and wanted the 10 cent tour. When I showed them the partially constructed fence Doug, her husband, suggested that I carry the picket area at the same level as the first section of fence and then go taller from there, keeping a more cohesive look. I loved that idea!!

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Saturday I completed the second gate that leads into the raised garden all by myself (remember I had a great teacher). But when it came time to hang it I called son-Kevin to the rescue me again. He brought Chloe and Ethan and they had a wonderful time climbing Grammie's new fence and finding *hidey-holes* under the grape vines.

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Monday and Tuesday this last week I finished the fence off. I'm so pleased with how it turned out. The other thing that is an unexpected bonus is that, since I am slow, the new wood is taking on a wonderful patina in the elements. I like it so well that I'm not going to stain it, but seal it in a couple of weeks when all of the new wood is burnished red.

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Gordon points out that the deer can still jump over the lower fence into the backyard and then into the garden. I just hope that the swine-deer don't figure that out before I get something tall planted along the inside of the backyard fence.

Keep it on the down-low for me, OK??

Aug 3, 2015

34 Years

This morning dawned cool and rainy, always a rich August blessing in our desert. We got 200% of our August rain total TODAY! As I prepared to take my walk (yes, in the rain!) the thought flashed through my mind, *The heavens weep.* I immediately replaced it with the thought-


I rejoice that my precious Tony and Amanda are safely in the arms of our Heaven Father, freed from the trials of this life. They wait patiently for our joyous reunion.

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I mentioned on Amanda's birthday that I'd been praying for, and received, relief from the years of debilitating grief. As this 34th anniversary day has approached I've offered that same prayer and continue to feel my Father's loving support.

After my morning walk I headed to the Provo Temple. I can't be sure, but I think that I've been each year on this day (or the next) all but the 2 years I was visiting in California. It is a wonderful, spiritual blessing to be able to serve there.

I've also found that it is helpful to stay busy so I spent the afternoon helping Camille get ready for her 9th year of teaching!!

Gordon texted me that I'd received flowers from my dear friend. She has been so thoughtful and kind in sending this yearly remembrance!

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What I hadn't expected it this...

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A sweet and thoughtful gift from my Temple friends, the Mechams.

Of course these gifts made the tears come... but not the sad kind... the grateful kind! These are some of the beautiful tender mercies of the Lord as He works through the hands of His faithful children.

I am so grateful to be at this end of these 34 years! I'm grateful for the understanding that has been given to me. I'm grateful for the healing... which often seems so slow and painful. I'm grateful to know that I will be with my Tony and Amanda again! I'm grateful for my wonderful family who loves and supports me but most of all understands that this is a difficult time and gives me the extra patience I so desperately need.

I want to bear my testimony, once again, that I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. He will never give me more than I can withstand. He will carry me through the darkness until I am able to walk and be whole.


Jul 26, 2015

These Women... My Besties

About thirty years ago these two women moved to Palmdale CA and into my heart.

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APRIL 4, 2014
Stuart & Stephanie's wedding
Pauline moved to Palmdale in March 1985. She found out I was pregnant with twins and decided right then that she wanted to be my friend. I'd never had anyone *choose* me for a friend before, let alone someone who was prepared to help me through a very difficult situation... three babies in 21 months.

Holly moved in before that in 1984. She had a tiny boy, Tom, just 3 months older than Spencer. She lived just around the corner and we were walking buddies.

We had our yearly Christmas Eve party at Auntie P's house, worked together at church and were there for each other through all of the highs and lows that come to everyone. We were the constant for each other in that changing sea of life. We've seen the good, the bad, the ugly... and everything else in between!

Pauline, Holly and Sonja all have birthdays at the end of the year and started having a yearly November girls-get-away. A couple of years later they invited me to come along. If our friendship needed more cement, this was where it was formed.

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Fast forward to this last week. My besties, sans Sonja, came for our girls old-lady get together (we don't have to get AWAY anymore!). We had the most delightful time. These wonderful sisters-by-choice loved on my babies, who now have their own babies.

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JULY 24, 2015
Provo Temple to Temple 5K WALK/run
Holly said it best just before she had to leave for home.

"We have history!" 
We love each other! 
Now and for the next 30 years!

OMSH! I am so blessed to have this once-in-a-lifetime sisterhood with these marvelous friends and SISTERS-BY-CHOICE!!

Jul 20, 2015

Through the Garden Gate

Don't you just love it when a finished project exceeds all of your expectations? Boy, I sure do! As I was looking for fence ideas I ran across a gate on Pinterest. The minute I saw it I KNEW that was MY gate!!

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It was one of those pins that make me a little nutty. It is to someone's blog in general rather than to a specific post. But, no worries, I knew we could pull it off even though this was all I had to go on.

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You see... I have a secret weapon! My Kevin can build anything! And it's a bonus that his triplet brother, Ryan, normally joins the project! These boys men work together very well.

I wanted an arched top, but no arched bottom (too much temptation for a little dog). I traced the hearts and Kevin used his grandpa's old jig saw to cut them out with precision.

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I'd like to say that this project went really fast. The actual building did but I didn't have everything as rounded up as I thought beforehand so there were some last minute errands to get those lose ends.

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And what did Nikki and I do while the guys were gate building? I had a project of my own and Nikki is always glad to help out.

Thursday night was a Relief Society activity where one of my neighbors taught us how to make pizza on the bbq! OMSH was it ever yummy! And since this Sunday is Grammie dinner I knew I needed to do a repeat! I hussled up and found some unglazed terra cotta tiles at a local tile store to use on the grill as pizza stones. Compare them at $3.50 per 12"x12" tile to Williams-Sonoma's $29.99 for 4- 4"x4" tiles!

But now I needed the individual sized pizza peels. I asked Kevin if he had the tools to cut them out. Silly me, of course he did. (grandpa's jig saw!) So after a demonstration on technique I took over the cutting. And sanding!

Gordon insisted that I use a dust mask ("I don't want my baby to get sick") and I'm glad he did. For good measure I added my ear plugs.

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Nikki did over half the sanding of the 18 pizza peels.

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We made the dough earlier and by the end of our work day we were anxious to try out our newest creations! This easily rivals any restaurant pizza I've ever had!

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And look at my beautifulness! I am so very, very pleased with my completed garden fence and gate.

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Jul 13, 2015

Play to My Weaknesses

Now I know what you are thinking, "There goes Joanie getting all *dylexical* again and mixing up sayings!" I know that the saying is Play To Your Strengths, but this Grammie has learned how to accommodate her weaknesses!

Twenty months ago, as winter was closing in, I knew I needed to get Fernando off the street for the winter. I cut down two sections of fence that went along the sidewalk so I could park him on the large expanse of concrete that, in a former life, was a basketball court. As I put up a temporary fence I told myself that, come spring, I would get my boys over here to help me build a new fence.

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NOVEMBER 9, 2013

Somehow that never happened with babies being born and people getting married so I decided to take on the project myself (said the Little Red Hen!) I started thinking, measuring, drafting a plan, shopping out options and thinking some more!

The last week of June into July was blisteringly hot... everyday was in the high 90s to low 100s. Well, I may be crazy... but not that crazy! I don't do well when it gets that hot. Very fortuitously, on Monday-last the weather turned overcast, cool  and with daily thunderstorms! I headed out to Home Depot to buy my posts, 2x4s, cement mix, rebar and various fasteners.

Weakness #1-
Even though I've lost 25 lbs and walk daily, I'm not all that strong.

I ASK FOR HELP! These two young men cut my rebar into the proper lengths. Thank you James and Andrew! I also got help loading my 2- 4"x4"x8' posts, 20- 2"x4"x8' and 4- 60# bags of cement mix (no way could I handle 80#ers on my own!). Incidentally I asked these fellow if they were in the witness-protection program before posting their faces! But beard-man looks a little sketchy to me!

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The first thing on my agenda was to dig the post holes.

Reference previous weakness-

I knew I couldn't use a post hole digger with my rocky ground. I soaked the area the night before and then used my shovel.

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I remembered that when Kevin and Ryan built the fence in the background of this photo they staked the posts in the holes to keep them level. I'm a quick learner! I mixed up the cement and carefully filled the cardboard sleeves (thank you, Brad, for that idea)

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While the cement cured I reworked the sprinklers and added a couple of new heads. Sadly I had to take up part of the rock path... that is another job for another day!

I decided that I wanted to go with 34"x16' hog panels but that meant I'd have to cut those panels to fit on my own. I bought the panels at Cal Ranch but not before I got a bolt cutter and went outside to make sure I was strong enough!

Yay little-Grammie! Your arms aren't so weak after all!

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My next problem was how to fasten these fatty-hog panels to the frame. Fastener fail #1! I couldn't use my new pneumatic crown stapler! (Return pneumatic crown stapler)

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What to do? What to do?

I needed a way to hold the panel in place while I hammered in the fencing staples by hand. So I cut some shims to hold the panels up while I hammered in the fencing staples.

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But what happens when it is an awkward angle? I've never had good hammer skills!

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I used some of the dandy screws that Kevin used to mount 2x4 brackets when I built the other fence.

I started by the path and worked steadily *around the horn* to the shed. It occurred to me that I would want a second gate over by the shed that I hadn't originally planned. This time I was in the process of loading cement mix at Home Depot into Fernando by myself  when a female worker called someone to help me. I really could handle it. I was surprised at how my strength had increased in the 5 previous days of work!

I was feeling quite happy that I hadn't encountered any rock-a-dons in digging the previous holes... I got smug just a little too soon!

This was rock #1!

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This is his happy *little* companion! And they both came out of the same, now quite large, hole! Are ya kiddin' me??

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Each day the thunderstorms drove me inside for a brief respite... I was grateful for that! Saturday's storm was a true East-cost downpour!!

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When I went back outside I notice that this poor dragon fly hadn't managed to get out of the storm! Poor baby! I pick him up with my gloved hand and put him safely in the currant bushes.

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When dusk fell Saturday evening I had all of the posts in and panels hung except a tiny piece that spans the breach between the raised garden and the shed. I was tired but oh-so-pleased with my week's work.

Sunday was a much appreciated day of rest. This morning I built the tiny section seen here and added all of the small pickets and top header.

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As I was returning a tool to Dennis another neighbor stopped to talk. When he asked what I'd been doing I showed him my fence. He couldn't believe I built it all by myself.

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Yes, it did make me feel good to see his admiration. I'm so grateful for parents who taught me and a sweet son-Kevin who also teaches me how to be a good builder. And I am ever so grateful for my strong and healthy body! I count my good health as a dear blessing.

You will have to come back (or perhaps sneak over to Pinterest) to see what I have planned for the gates. I am so very excited to build them!!

Jul 4, 2015

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

I discovered, quite by accident, one day that the trail referred to as the upper canal trail is actually a portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The happiest part of this part is that it's only a short UP-hill jaunt for me access it.

I usually only walk a small portion but THIS-day I wanted to explore uncharted territory. And can I just say how much I love Google maps? I love knowing where I am on the map! (You know... the little *You Are Here* circle?)

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I successfully maneuvered the transition from my regular route to the continuation of the trail. Last fall I got off on the wrong trail and had quite the mountain goat adventure.

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And Harley? Oh yes! He is my partner in crime. He loves our daily walks but he especially appreciates THIS route because it is the only time I let him off the leash to explore. I talk to him like he's a little child, "You stay where you can see me or you will have to go back on the leash!" Interestingly enough, he seems to understand and only rarely goes beyond my sight.

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Several times this trail merges with the power line road. But for the most part it is narrow like the photo above.

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I spotted this happy little face brightening up its little corner of God's masterpiece. I'd never seen one of these before (except in my niece's photos from her nature walks).

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The first hour we were in the shadow of the mountain and it was quite comfortable. Soon we emerged into the hot July sunshine.

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These are my new *trainers*. I absolutely love the Go Walk by Skechers!  They have saved my poor plantar fasciites feet.  I credit this wonderful shoe, in various colors and styles (*if the shoe fits, buy it in every color!), with helping in the healing of this last bout (well, that, and losing 23lbs!)

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We hiked 2.6 miles north-west along the trail when I could see that the trail was diverging more from the houses just below and the next opportunity to get off the trail wasn't until 970 N. Since I didn't want to make that long trek back through town we turned around and started back the way we came.

I knew there was a shortcut back down to the houses so we alternately took deer trails, and did some slipping and sliding down the dried grass hills to the street.

Oh Snap! I knew wrong! See all of the squiggly streets about a third of the way down the trail?

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Yeah, let's get a close up of that! I was shooting for Spring Creek Dr instead of Spring Oaks Dr. I didn't want to go up that step climb again (You can even see how steep it is on the map!)

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We (read Grammie) just didn't have the energy to take that long asphalt detour so we mountain-goated it again... only this time I slipped on my bum (hey, not so bad) and then another slip that pulled a muscle in my thigh! But, not to worry, I still had over a mile walk home so I worked that stiffness right out!

The happy news about this alternate route is that it got us back down to sprinkler water. Our water was all drunk up! Harley drank his fill and I filled my water bottle. (Note to self... take your camel-back next time!)

We were both glad to get back home and take a bath; well, Harley not-so-much. It wasn't until evening, when I saw him licking his front paw and investigated expecting to see a fox-tail I'd missed in the bath.

What I saw was...

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I've only seen this once before on a dog when we took Amber to Vasquez Rocks and she wore blisters on her little padlettes on the sandstone!  Poor Harley! I felt so bad!

By bedtime these were MY stats for the day...

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Harley easily did one third more with all of his up & down and  back & forth. Poor boy had to take a rest day today...

but no rest for the Grammie. I had my 10,000 steps by noon.