Monday, May 26, 2008

Sorry, No Blog This Week

This weekend has been so hectic that I just don't have it in me to write a decent blog. I've got all sorts of pictures and interesting things to tell but it would end up being a chore. So, I'll post these nice pictures from my garden and makeup for this next weekend.

Bye for now,


Monday, May 19, 2008

Springtime ! !

So far this has been a long and cool Spring. There are still a few daffodils blooming and the migrating birds have decided to stay in our gardens for weeks. Here are some of the most colorful.

The petite Indigo Buntings and graceful Catbirds.

A couple of pairs of Scarlet Tanagers - what a fantastic color combination.

And the Baltimore Orioles - all kinds of them. I wish I had a camera with better zoom because these pictures don't do justice to these lovely creatures. And what they all love to eat is cheap grape jelly! We've gone through jars of it, filling the empty orange halves.

Apple Blossoms on an old tree that has only a few limbs left. Each year another part of it dies and I had my doubts that it would bloom again. But, the little bit that is left is gorgeous!

The harbingers of Spring! I didn't plant any of these and they have been here for ages. Most of the lilacs are the size of small trees and are mixed in with all sorts of other trees and shrubs. They also smell great but are nearly overpowered by:

The half acre of Lily-of-the-Valley. The scent is so strong that sometimes I get a sick headache if the wind is just right and I'm working in the Vegetable garden nearby.
These flowers are some that you wouldn't normally notice. They are tiny Barberry flowers and smell wonderful. The color contrast is very pleasing.
Remember last Fall I'd purchased grapes and berry plants only to find out via the Internet that they weren't hardy in my Zone 5? I planted them anyway and am so pleased that all of them survived the winter. There are 3 types of grapes and a thornless blackberry.

The grapes are growing very slowly and I can't imagine that they will become mature enough to bare fruit by the end of the season. But I know absolutely nothing about growing grapes, so I'm going to let nature takes it's course.
The Thornless Blackberry is coming a long really well and I have a feeling it will have to be "managed" closely.
This weird collage was my way of laying out a planting scheme for some daylilies and lilies
that I'd ordered on a whim in late winter. As usual, I'd no idea where they would go but decided on the lower tier of the vegetable garden. They are all mostly pink or close to it because they were in a special Siloam collection. Siloam is the name of a lily breeding company which has bred many of it flowers to sport darker "eyes".
I got the idea to cut the pictures out of the Gilbert Wilde catalogue, separated them according to height - the four pictures go into the top box of the garden - and made a pleasing design. I don't think the yellow colors would go well with the pinks so they, and the very dark purple daylily were put up near the rock wall.
The green onions look great!
These showed up on an old compost heap. I planted these parrot tulips in the Main Garden ten or twelve years ago and thought they died out! I have no idea how they got way over to the other side of the yard. But aren't they pretty!
All three of these plants are in the mint family. The first is Catmint, the second is Lamium "Yellow Archangel" and the last is the dreaded "Creeping Jenny". That's what I call it but I'm sure it goes by lots of other names - some that are unprintable!
My Spring Viola show. They are so cheerful after this long winter.
Here's Thea licking Garm's face and Garm saying "Get this goofball away from me, Mom! She's driving me crazy!" Thea had her checkup today and was a pretty good girl and tomorrow is Garm's turn. Thea is on a diet now and has to lose 5 pounds and in a few weeks has to go in to have her teeth cleaned and a loose one pulled. A yearly checkup with lab work, etc. can sure add up. And the dental visit will cost quite a bit so we are going to use our "stimulus" checks on the pugs. I can't think of a better use for them!
A few more plants I got at the garden center:
A blue (annual around here) Salvia, and some pretty petunias,
white Impatiens for Steve's planting area and Pony Tail Grass.
It is still very cool here in the evenings and I don't want to plant the Impatiens or Coleus just yet, but this upcoming four-day holiday weekend I'll get most of my containers done and maybe go on a Family Outing. I'm surely looking forward to the time off!
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work,
But when they seldom come, they wished for come.
William Shakespeare - Henry IV, Part 1
Bye for now,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Happy Mother's Day To All ! !

The weather may not have made for a good Mother's Day, but we still managed to have a great time here. My daughter and family came over for a spaghetti dinner and an exchange of gifts in celebration of being Moms.
I was given the fantastic hanging basket of maroon coleus (one of my most favorite foliage plants) and lysimachia nummularia "Aurea" and the rustic three-decker bird condo. It's for decorative purposes and I liked the fact that the craftsman had used porcelain insulators (once used on transformers) for the perches. We are not sure where it will be placed this summer. I also received a cute little fuzzy teddy bear from Sierra and three wonderful cards from Adeena, Tony, and Sierra.

Outdoors our yard has brightened considerably. On my photo-walk I came upon a small amount of these guys:

They are morel mushrooms and are considered by many as a gourmet treat. I picked a small bowl full and sauteed them in real butter with a touch of salt and white pepper. Ahhhhh - just excellent!
Here they are soaking in cold salt water for an hour or so to get rid of any debris or critters hiding in the intricate folds of the caps. They are so odd to me because they are completely hollow - not like other mushrooms I'm used to.

I've a tiny little garden under a willow tree called strangely enough, The Willow Tree Garden. (My gardens don't have cool names like the British seem to come up with for their gardens - mine are just mundane and are descriptive of the physical location.)
Anyway, the Willow Tree Garden has pretty much escaped the ravages of deer and rodents (so far!) this year and have a lovely showing of tulips.
The Lamb's Ears and Artemesia set of the green foliage and bright tulips nicely.

Growing all through the little garden is Lamium maculatum "Chequers" . It's very pretty, but has to be controlled or will take over the world! The bees and pollinating insects do love it.
Most of the daffodils in the back yard have faded but there are others to take their place.
Some of the few Virginia Bluebells I have growing against an old woodpile. In the background are Lily-of-the-Valley nearly ready to bloom. Aren't they a very fresh green color?
Above and below are two types of species tulips that I have no name for.
On cloudy days they close up and show another color.

The Back Garden (see, another very imaginative name!) and paths have wilder flowers...

Trillium don't even look real! Just too perfect!

The leaves of the Bloodroots are so unique that they wouldn't even need flowers to be noticed.

White Columbine, Jack-In-The-Pulpit, and could someone please tell me what this yellow-flowered shrub is? It looks like Honeysuckle flowers but the berries are light green and striped and look like a gooseberry, but taste awful! The shrub is about five or six feet tall and covered with flowers.


In Steve's Planting Area (someone please find me a Thesaurus !!) the Pulmonaria doing very well.

I especially like the different colored flowers on one stem. And when blooming is over, the speckled foliage looks great all summer.

Emerging stems of Tradescantia "Sweet Kate". The grass-like leaves take on a chartreuse color and sport blue-purple flowers.

Yikes!, I know another daffodil photo. It was just to pretty to pass up!


This is what's ahead of me. As you see the "tiny seedlings" have gone nuts and need to be planted in their respective containers. Some of the ground cover Petunias are blooming. Trouble is the weather is not cooperating. We've had touches of frost lately and I've been taking these in and out of the garage. Or, if there is a strong north or northeast wind, which seems worse than anything, they are easily battered. I'm hoping by next weekend the temperatures will become more steady and I can get going with my containers. I can't wait!! (Weight loss update: 28 pounds and counting!!)


The healthy being craves an occasional wildness,

a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite,

his own little festival of the Saturnalia, a brief excursion from his way of life.

Robert MacIver


Bye for now,


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Really "Interesting" Things About Me

Last week Gina of tagged me (among others) to answer a few questions about myself. I asked Ashley (granddaughter) to give me completely unbiased help with some of them. Sometimes another pair of eyes can make things clearer - or should I say more honest?
We had a lot of fun with this and hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
1. What were you doing ten years ago?
Working where I work now, but doing probably the worst job there. I ran a large shear and cut and fabricated fiberglass barriers for the internal workings of the transformers. I had to work 10 hours a day and the 4 X 6 (some were bigger) sheets were really heavy to lift and got heavier as the day wore on. After they were cut to the specific size, I'd have to punch holes in them according to a print. I also had to work with 4 X 6 sheets of pressite (it's like heavy cardboard) a lot. The job was (and still is) the lowest labor grade in the shop! The worst thing about this Insulation Fabrication (fancy name for it!) job was that I screwed up my lower back and right sacra joint permanently. I was off on medical for a month but they really have never been the same. Ugh!
2. My "to do" list./What I've actually done.
Reply to my penfriend, Jane, who lives in Bristol, UK. Give the pugs a bath. Take back to Pet Land the $100 worth of FrontLine I bought without realizing we already had some in the refrigerator! Move the plot along and build up my character's stats on my latest video game.
Well, Jane's letter is still sitting in my imagination, the pugs are smelly, PetLand still has my $100 but ...... as of 4 a.m. last night my character is kicking ass!! Priorities???
3. Snacks that I enjoy?
Big Macs (yes, to me they are snacks - that's why I'm on a diet!) . Diet Coke - doesn't drinking one cancel out the Big Mac??. and peanut butter (natural, of course). Sometimes I just take a spoon and eat the stuff right out of the jar when I wake up during the night! (Ashley says she does the same thing too - I think there's a genetic predisposition.) Oh, yeah, can't forget: anything sweet - I have dreams that I'm in a room that has tables full of cakes, pies, bars and cookies!!?? and I'm trying to eat them without other people seeing me. Sometimes I'm just stuffing them into my mouth with two hands. (Oh, that is a really embarrassing thing to divulge!)
4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire.
Pay off our house, take care of all of my family members, buy a home in England, Wales, or Scotland (or all three!) and live there part time, fence in our property, have a pond dug with a stream and waterfall, get more pugs, finance all kinds of animals rescue programs and sanctuaries, make sure all of my charities and organizations (PETA, Greenpeace, ACLU, ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, FFR, Animal Defense League etc. etc. ) get sizable donations each month (and set up a trust of whatever it's called for them when I'm gone), hire a full time chauffeur, add an addition to our house (two bedrooms instead of one!), fix the fireplace, get new carpeting, and hire someone to install a railing on the basement steps!!! - my sister is sure Steve has taken out a huge insurance policy on me since he can't seem to "get around to doing it. " (Oh yes, have a nice room set aside for playing video games.)
5. Three bad habits. (Ashley was very helpful with this one!)
Being too quick to anger and jumping to conclusions (I'm working on this, really I am!). Acting like a know-it-all and getting on my "high horse" (this particularly bugs Steve! Ugh it would bug me too!!) And lastly, like Gina, I swear too much. Because I work in a factory (27 years) and am only one of three females that work there, I've tended to pick up all the nasty talk. It does come "trippingly off the tongue" much too easily with me. It's kind of unseemly on a 57 year old Grandma!
6. Five places where I've lived.
I've lived in Muskego, New Berlin, West Allis, Milwaukee and Waukesha. They are all in Wisconsin and in about a 15 mile radius! I wonder what Freud would have to say about that???
7. Jobs that I've had.
Oh boy, I had to get into the "Way-Back" machine (any one remember the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show??) for this one. A summer stint at the local, very small grocery store (hated it 'cause my mother had set the whole thing up without even asking me.). Order typist at a metal fabrication plant (first "real" job and I liked it). Clerk at the fancy YMCA (fun and got to use my artistic and literary skills but the pay sucked, big time - it's non-profit). Accounts receivable clerk at a diesel truck dealership (it was fun meeting all the drivers but I am really bad with numbers. My cashbox would never balance at the end of the day and I'd toss some of my own money into it to make things "right".) Accounts receivable clerk at a steel tubing factory (my father worked in the office there for 40 years - that's how I got the job. Hated it! - Numbers Suck!! You'd think I'd have learned that by then.) Secretary at a printing company (loved it, but was mysteriously and very unceremoniously fired - to this day I can't figure out why but it sure threw me for a loop (those SOBs!I refuse to let go of the anger!).
And now - drum roll - the last 27 years at Cooper Industries: secretary (boring), material handler (fun, just got divorced and guys were falling out of the sky into my lap!!) , insulation fabricator (see above), final assembler (fun and challenging but not made for a short, out of shape, woman in her 50s! Lots of great workmates though.) and lastly Utility Operator (an office/shop job perfect for a short, out of shape (but getting better) woman in her late 50's who has 6 more years until retirement!! Yeah!!!)
So, this post is a lot of my "outside" life as I think of it. Hope you like it.
Life is a "zero-sum game"; we are gamblers playing with limited
stakes against a house with infinite resources. We must eventually go under.
We can only strive to hang on as long as possible, have some fun while we're at the table,
and, since we happen to be moral agents as well,
to stay the course with honor.
Stephen Jay Gould
Bye for now,