Monday, May 14, 2018

Another Hodge Podge Post

We have rain today: luscious, sweet, wet rain. I love Rainy Days and Mondays! But not the with the bleak sadness that the Mammas and Papas sing about. Colorado proudly boasts of more than 300 days of sunshine and since we are a mile high (well, except for out here on the prairie) we are closer to the sun, and we have a dry, arid climate. This is our rainy season and by mid June the rain will have all but disappeared, so we love the rain.

Today's post will be a hodge lodge of things. I didn't post a last week because I came home from the state convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Colorado Springs with a miserable cold and I was pretty low functioning all week. I had taken lot of the spring blooms to share with you, so I will share them now, enjoying their beauty one last time since the blossoms on the flowering trees have faded.

I'll begin with reviewing a new kitchen gadget that finally arrived last week. I don't know what you would call it or even where I ordered. I first saw it on my Facebook and I loved the concept: you stack your salad fixings in the green tray; place the slotted domed life on top and slice away, cutting all the ingredients evenly and nicely.

The idea is a really nifty one, but as you can see my vegetables were not sliced all the way through. I'll not give up on the thing. I think next time I need to tip the knife instead of cutting through with a level knife. I'll get back to you on that.

Into the Garden

Once Spring really began to get serious, the flowering crab trees burst forth with a beautiful display of color. One of the first things we did the first fall we moved here was to plant tulips beneath the trees and they, too were very showy.

The tree will fruit out with tiny little crab apples. I don't use them, but the birds like them.


On the south side of the house, the dwarf North Star cherry trees are in full bloom. We planted the small one last year.


I took a lot of apple blossom photos. This the second apple tree, the one that in a good year will produce an abundance of apples. We have avoided so far a hard freeze, so we should be good--but then this is Colorado. As I stood under the tree shooting photos, the hum of busy honey bees collecting pollen was all around me. The neighbor has hives next door, so I hope his bees are happy.

Next to the apple tree and planted the same time as the little cherry tree is our hawthorn. It should have white flowers soon. 

The lilacs are in full bloom, so I picked a few and cut the last three daffodils. The dinning room smells so sweet. 

Garden Visitors

The migrating birds are arriving. This fellow, the black headed grosbeak may be here all summer.

We have two male western bangers and two females. They are so colorful; and they, too, may stay most of the summer.  The bullock's oriel has also arrived. One male so far. They will feed on grape jelly (in the little containers in the newt photo) all the while they are raising their young.

We have have ponds and lakes all around us full of red-winged black birds that have found free food.

The aspen trees out front are blooming. There are three different warblers that are heading to the mountains that stop by for refueling. I've not quite identified these two birds: the top one appears to be warbling vireo. 

While this one is most likely a yellow rump warbler. It is often hard to get really clear photos of the birds. I use my 75-300mm and it has a hard time focusing on what I want it to.

And no doubt that this one is the yellow warbler. Yesterday was quite a day to photograph so many different varieties of birds. Most will migrate not the Colorado Rockies, or maybe some of you in Canada will see these little guys. Often you will hear them first. 

I love to photograph Froggy. He has grown so big. I saw a giant heron this morning on my way to the rec center. He was siting pond side of a sump pond that collects irrigation water. When I first was him, I turned the car around and came home and got my camera. He was still there so I got some pretty good shots of him. I doubt that there arena fish in the muddy little pond, but I do fear that the creature might discover my water garden and get my koi or Froggy. The gold fish are all hiding at the bottom of our murky pond, as the did last year when the frog first showed. up.

A quiet week with lots of yard work planned. The Head Gardener has returned from his tractor job and has told his friends that he will not be available for corn harvest. We really have plenty here to keep him busy. He will leave Thursday on his annual guy fishing trip. I've not written about #1 Granddaughter Ellie's new 4-H rabbits, a pair of red rex. The are so cute. She will be showing them in Wyoming Saturday and has invited me to go, so I'll have a blog topic next week! There cheers.

No Mosaic Monday this week.  I've joined three groups on Facebook for miniatures and dollhouses, so hopefully the Ann's Dollhouse Dreams Blog will be getting more traffic which means that I will have to keep up over the. I've enjoy seeing you there, too, if you have a moment. 

Aside from the shameless solicitation for the my other passion, I am so glad that you stopped by. Thank you. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Good Housekeeping or How to Get Out of a Mess

When you see the Big, Mean Green Machine on my page, you know that the Head Gardener has taken off his gardening cap and put on his farming hat. He has answered his call to duty to help the Big Farmers out in northeastern Colorado get their farm ground ready to plant corn and millet--I suppose. Acres and acres. Thousands. Here's a text that Farmer Dave and I shared Sunday:

Me: Gerald is doing online training for his job this week, learning how to strip till by watching You Tube. He should be prepared to do a good job. If he doesn't, fire him.

Dave: Maybe I should study too. He'll know more than I do. Pretty Simple. Turn at the ends and watch the computer drive rest of the time. (and text).

Me: He's over qualified then.

And so the texting went.

The HG has done other farm work for the farm, but not strip tilling; looks pretty simple and boring. 

Lily came last week with her mother for Sundance's vet check. His pelvis break has healed, so now he needs more quiet time to for it to strengthen and then she can start walking him. Lily rode Pop. He is a very good boy for her. Can you believe that this boy is 30 and does not suffer from the health issues that the bigger horses have. He is amazing. Blind in one eye, but he enjoys his time with Lily. She is one happy five year old.

Spring flowers do mean need April showers which have been sparse here lately. These tulips filled up with water from the sprinkler system in the front courtyard.

The fruit trees are beginning to blossom. This one is an apple tree. It bears mushy, yellow apples that my dad called 'summer apples' or maybe they are cooking apples. They are good to eat, but usually fall to the ground before I pick them and the birds peck them and the horses gobble them up. They bruise and turn to mush easily, but, boy, is tree pretty in the spring.

And now for your housekeeping Tip:

When I took the clothes out of the dryer, I found this mess:GUM. Totally my fault. I had no idea as to how to clean it, so, of course, I googled it. There were several remedies, but I chose to use cooking spray, which loosened the gum. Then I used a one of those plastic scrapers used to dislodge stuck on food from a pan or dish. Some of the gum came off, especially the big wad. Next the instructions said to run old, damp towels in on medium heat in the dryer to collect the residue. Instead I washed my bathroom rugs that are nice and shaggy and old. And WhaLa. The drier came clean.

And that is the week that was and is at the Garden Spot. So glad that you stopped by. 

Let's see what is going on over at Maggie's. 

Join me at Mosaic Monday. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


I didn't want to be one those are those folks who don’t take down their Christmas decorations at the end of the holiday season. You’ve seen the houses with the lights still strung around the gutters, gussets, and chimneys. You’ve wondered how the neighbors could leave the mini twinkle lights draped around the tree branches. You drive past the house everyday wondering why they don’t clean up and put things away. The Head Gardener always get our Christmas lights down and packed away mid January or even sooner, but me? Not so much. The one thing that I am in charge of lingers and lingers until after Valentine’s Day. Makes sense to me. Red is the color of February. Valentine’s Day. Right? And evergreen is a year round kind of plant material. After all the Garden Spot has a dozen giant pine trees. The truth is I just kept forgetting to take down the Christmas wreath. 

For the past several weeks, as we leave the house thought the front door, a little bird--a house finch--would fly out of the court yard. We inspected the front of the house but couldn't see any place where a bird could possibly perch, much less nest. Then Sunday when I walked out the front door I caught sight of the little fellow fly out of the Christmas wreath. "Great!" I thought thinking that the bird had probably made a mess in my wreath. Karma for not getting it put away. So I looked at the back of the wreath and instead of a mess, I found a nest with two little babies.

You can't see the babies, but they are there and I will keep you up dated on their progress. So the neighbors and passer-bys can say and think whatever then want. The Christmas wreath will stay up until the Finch family is done with it.

And then the weather has not been Spring’s normal temperament. I’ve been wondering if Old Man Winter has been pushing his own agenda, refusing to give up his power to the energetic, warm-hearted tender lass, Srping. Oh she has tried to assert herself. Much to her own credit between cold winds and flashes of snow, she has offered a few sprinkles of rain and moments of sun, which really haven’t been enough to lure me out into the garden with much enthusiasm. But Sunday was so beautiful and there are those annual chores that must get done early. So I followed the Head Gardener outside, feeling the warm sun on my face and taking deep breath of fresh spring air. We were ready to get down to work. 

The daffodils have been spectacular this year, but they have had a bit of struggle, surviving wind, frost, and dustings of snow. While I bemoan the fact that Spring has been so cold, the flowers have flourished. They have been in long enough that the clumps are all thick and lush with blooms. I worry each year too about the my precious Eastern Redbud because we have had others die after the winter. But look, she is blooming. We still are not frost free here--not until after Mother's Day, so we are holding our breath, hoping that a major frost does not kill the buds on the fruit trees. The apricots are beginning to bloom, showing three blooms, the peach trees are still sleeping--trying to wake; the cherry trees are all budded out, including the new one that we planted last year, and the apple tree we hope will have branches heavy with apple. Hoping. The hawthorn that we planted last year survived the winter, and will have beautiful little white flowers shortly.

We are doing better at getting our trees to survive the winter. Here in Colorado it is not the cold that kills trees, but the lack of water. Our winters, while cold, are often very dry with little snow. We may have one huge storm all winter and then little moisture the rest of the season, so the Head Gardener must water the young trees mid winter, sometime a couple of times to keep them going. 
Tool of the Month

Black and Decker  20 V Max Hedge Trimmer

I have planted several clumps of ornamental grasses. The front center circle has three clumps that have grown so big that I can't use nippers anymore to cut them back by hand, so last fall I purchased the hedge trimmer.  The chore is much easier now. First we tape the clump tightly with duct tape and then cut below the tape to get a nice smooth cut. Works great. Not only did we trim the grasses, but we also cut back the peonies and other plants that needed last year's growth removed.  The trimmer is batter operated and I am glad that we have added it to our garden tools.

Now the front point looks cleaner. I still need to do more cleaning and maybe even redesigning the point. It gets pretty messy in the summer with bind weed that takes over. The grasses will grow and wave in the breeze and we will enjoy them.

Last week I bemoaned the fact that my iPhone photos were out of focus. I discovered that I was uploading them with at the lowest quality so when I tried to upload at best quality, they essentially wouldn't upload. I had 13 photos that I wanted to used today, but the uploading stalled last night and I decided that I will use my Canon for the blog photos. Any suggestions on the phone images?

Well, I suppose that it is time to start my day. I tutor at the university Writing Center today, so I need to get day started. 

Thanks so much for visiting. Join me at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday--a fun place to be.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Turn Left at the Blue Whale

The Summer of 2012 we were spell bound by the horrific wild fire that was destroying thousands of acres of beautiful mountain forest just west of where we live. We worried for friends who had built their log cabin home on the top of a mountain. We had spent time helping them work on building their dream home. While they built the home, they lived in a house trailer with their two young children, living a frugal life with a windmill and generator to provide electricity and they hauled water up the mountain. The young man cut down trees for his home, hand stripped them, log by log of the bark, and built his home. We had visited them only once when the home was completed when they had a picnic to thank everyone for their help.

And  then the fire years later. It took everything but the house: a shop with tools and a garage with a vintage corvette. We had taken a couple of drives up into the mountains to see the burn damage, but had not visited our friends, so yesterday we took a nice Sunday afternoon drive to visit them. I took photos with both the iPhone and my Canon. For some reason my phone camera does not take very good photos anymore--probably because I have dropped it too many times.

Their turn off the main highway is an easy one: turn left at the blue whale on to Whale Rock Road (I actually took the photo on the way out).

And then we begin the long six miles ascent to the top of the mountain on narrow, windy lane. My anxiety level rose just as quickly as the road climbed the hill. In the previous trips, the dense forest hid the steepness of the hill side below road. With my acrophobia in full bloom, I clutched the arm rest on the door of the pick-up as we slowly wound our way up the mountain.

In between anxious gasps, I was overwhelmed by the damage that the fire had caused. A once lush, green pine forest was gone, leaving behind a stark, barren landscape for miles and miles and miles--as far as the eye can see. 

The forest floor flora has recovered, but with such a dry spring the wildflowers have yet to bloom, though it is early yet for them and with a goodly amount of moisture wild flowers will be spectacular and the mountain sides will be lushly green with charcoal black accents.

Wildlife has returned to the barn forest, but our friends made note that the deer are eating the new baby trees that are sprouting. Deer for some reason, our friend had read, need pine needles in their diet, even if just baby pines.

The fire burned so rapidly that it skimmed over the ground and burning trees only enough for the heat to kill those that didn't actually catch fire. Even ground debris didn't burn up only got scorched. And that to me was the sad part that the fire didn't really clean up the forest debris, only made it look worse.

At the top of the mountain, the foot hills sprawl eastward to finally meet the city of Ft. Collins and beyond to our home out on the prairie, and on a clear day--a really clear day-- as far Nebraska. With the forest now cleared away, the network of roads is easily seen as some hardy souls return to the mountain life, a much altered mountain life.

Our friends loved their mountain home that they worked so hard to create and the place where they raised their children. They returned after the fire, but our friend admitted to being angry for a long time, now he seems to have accepted the altered landscape and will not leave his home.

Our friends were lucky not lose their home because 50 other homes were burned. They have accepted their altered landscape and still enjoy the view. Looking northeast to Wyoming on the far horizon.

Meanwhile back on the prairie at the Garden Spot, I went out to take photos of the garden, and of course the hens wanted out, but I took their photo instead.

Look: asparagus. Two spears won't go far. A nice nibble. The other clumps have yet to send up shoots. The rhubarb will be ready soon, too.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated you kind thoughts last week. Thank you.

I am linking with Maggie for Mosaic Monday. See you there.

PS After a long absence from working on the dollhouse, I'm posting on Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, too.