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. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Just a little Patience

Spring is having a hard time taking a foothold here in northern Colorado. She has been so slow to emerge or maybe I am just being inpatient. It seems colder and dryer than in years past or maybe I am just impatient.

The daffodils are blooming, but they have had to endure freezing cold and a light blanket of snow, but they are hardy and preserve, looking gorgeous and beautiful and make my heart sing.

The Easter Bunny found his way--I marked the trail so that he could leave plenty of eggs for the grandkids to find

The sprinkler system had its trial run this morning, but not without a lot of drama. The Head Gardener went to turn on the pumps for the two wells that supply the irrigation water last week only to find that the electrical meter had been tagged and disconnected last fall without any notice to him as the HOA president or any of the other five land owners in our little community. The meter has been replaced and the pumps are working fine. Everyone is ready irrigate.

The winter birds are still hanging around. The little downy woodpecker enjoys the suet and we had  new visitors who stopped for only a day or so to rest, I guess, a pair of crossbills.  We have fewer cotton tails because either the hawks or the great horned owls or the fox family that has returned are all working together to control the bunny population.

So that is Spring here at the Garden Spot. 

Spring this year has brought our share of sadness, too. A special cousin only twenty-nine passed. A few weeks later an elderly aunt found her way home and the next day her son who had been her care-giver joined her. And our neighbor died suddenly last week, too. We will have to look after her husband. He will need some extra attention. 

Sundance has been released from stall rest. He was getting worse. You know how your feet feet swell when you don't get up and move around, well, the same with horses. He was having signs of edema in his belly, his shoulders, and his neck, so the vet said to let him out of the stall so that he could walk around a little more and he seems to be doing better, but he still limps. 

Here's wishing you a great week full of daffodils. 

Thanks for stopping by. 

Linking with Maggie at Life in Normandy. Be sure to join us there.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Lavender, It Is

Question: How soon do the March winds have to arrive in order to declare that March has come in Like a Lion? Yesterday was so lovely with the warm sun that I sat for a few minutes on the bench by the water garden watching  my gold fish sun them selves at the surface of the murky winter water discolored with the decaying fall leaves that blew in over the winter. The fish hung there in the water so languid that I was able to actually count them. I reached 30 then gave up on the skoal of fish too clumped together to count. Looking more like carrots floating, I was glad to see that so many had survived winter.

In a few weeks when it warms up, the pond will be drained; it will get a good cleaning. The water lilies will be re potted, and a UV light will be added to help control the rampant allege growth that we can't seem to control otherwise. We are slowly emerging from our winter cocoon and I will transition from the indoor activities like sewing to pruning roses and cleaning up the flower beds.

I'd like to share with you a few photos that I took at the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) meeting Saturday. One of our chapter members is World War I buff and presented a program on the "Hello Girls."  Have you hear of them? When President Wilson, an isolationist, decided to join the war in Europe, one of the many needs to get the American military ready to go to war was improved battle field communications. So a call was put out to women who were telephone operators (Who does not remember Lilly Tomlin's act as a 1950s switchboard operator and her snorting 'One ringy dingy'). These young women, however, had a far more serious job: battlefield telephone communications, sometimes serving only five miles from the the battle field.

Our speaker, Laurie Button, brought along some of her WWI memorabilia that she has acquired as an avid collector. The two pieces on the left top and bottom are most interesting, known as trench art. The little toy airplane is actually a spent shell casing that a soldier in a more quiet moment fashioned into a little airplane. The larger shell casing below is a casing that would been ejected from a large cannon type gun. While it was still hot after being fired, the soldier would decorate it. How interesting is that?

The top right photo is what we might refer to as a locket. On the outside cover it has the soldier's initial engraved on it, but open it up and there is photo of a lovely young lady. He is girlfriend perhaps? Laurie explained that rather than a locket, it is a case to hold the soldier's dog tag. As Laurie tenderly held the locket, she pointed out that the ribbon that once perhaps was worn around a soldier's neck had been cut off. She noted that she had a very bad feeling about the little case.

Update on Sundance

We have very much appreciated your kind thoughts and concern for Sundance. He was examined last week by yet another vet to get a third opinion on the broken pelvis diagnosis. This vet performed a more physical examination--I will spare you the details--, she determined the location of the break and determined that it had not yet healed which both are good indicators of possible good healing results. She prescribed six weeks of confinement to limit the horse's movement and a powder to add to his food to help stimulate bone growth. Fingers crossed.

Needles to say, Sundance is a\not a happy camper confined, especially when he sees his stable buddy Pop hanging with the horses in the next pasture or when he sees Boone running the back fence looking for feral cats and running off the fox. Sundance would like to be running with the dog.

His stall got a bit of a make over. The Head Gardener purchased a nice rubber mat for more cushion and added fresh wood shavings. Sundance does not like change, but he didn't make a big deal out of new flooring.

Jennifer is applying essential oils to the area where he is injured to help calm the pain. She has learned that the there are no equine pain medications because they cannot metabolize them, so many horse people are turning to essential oil blends to help manage pain and inflammation

Jen is doing her research to see how to use essential oils. First she let's Sundance sniff the oil to see which one he prefers. If he does not like the fragrance he will turn away or shake his head or blow the smell out of his nose.

The sniff test: 

Even Pop got a chance to choose his favorite. Lavender seemed to be the oil of choice. To apply the oils, she mixed them with coconut oil then rubbed the oils in her palms and massaged them into Sundance's pelvis. The oils can also be applied to the horse's lips. As in humans, when applying essential oils only a single drop may be enough to get desired results. 

Special powder to stimulate bone growth (Os-CAL for horses, I call it), essential oils to make his feel him better, and now a shot to help his joints manufacture lubrication fluids.

He is a very good boy as he stands quietly to get his weekly injection.

The wind still howls, as it will most of the week. We are under a red flag alert, meaning that the with the lack of significant moisture and wind as a contributing factor, there is great concern for wild fires. Now blowing here 35 mph, I'll be staying inside.

I hope you have a wonderful week full of good things to do. Thanks so much for stopping by. Join me at Life in Normandy for Mosaic Monday. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Spy Cam

Hoot Hoot. We hear the owls late at night, sometimes in the middle of night, or in the earl morning far before dawn. Rarely do we see the giant horned owls, but occasionally we have what I like to call a Harry Potter moment when we see the owl take flight from its high perch in one of giant Ponderosa pines. As the owl flies through the dark of night, its white underneath gleams in the dull yard light on the pinnacle of the barn roof. My heart takes a leap at the thrill of getting even a fleeting glimpse of the majestic bird of prey.

Owls, as nocturnal creatures, are really hard to find, but they leave behind sign. So when the Head Gardener found these odd looking things on the lid of the box where the irrigation valves are located, he knew we have a second species, a barn owl perhaps. Owls spit out pellets that contain, for lack of better description, the indigestible parts of their prey such as bones and hair. Here at the Garden Spot the owls are likely to eat small birds, mice, and voles.  Wearing a glove, he collected the ones that were on the lid and in the grass located beneath the peak of the barn roof. The owl must perch on the peak of the barn roof to enjoy his meal or to digest it.

Last year the Head Gardner built a nesting box for either barn owls or the horned owls, which ever needed a home. He hung it just outside the barn above Pop's stall, hoping to attract a pair, but the box remained empty, so he decided to moved it to a more private place, high in the tree when we see the great owls perch. He decided that the stall area for the horses had too much traffic for the owls. I should have documented the installation of the nest box, but I didn't. It was ugly, requiring a very tall extension ladder, a rope and pulley system, and of course, a safety belt. Now I ask you, should any 65 year old grandpa be climbing trees and hoisting heaving boxes for creatures to maybe nest in? Apparently so. 

Of course, Boone gave the nesting box one final inspection and his ARF of approval before it was installed.

It is doubtful that we will have any takers this year since the owls begin nesting as early as February, so they have probably already found suitable accommodations. Next year, perhaps.

 Our next step was to determine what sort of owl is depositing it pellets, so we invested in  a game camera that is now located on the side of the chicken house to photograph what might light on the barn roof.

Here is brief sequence of the first 24 hours. Nothing interesting.

Hmm. A stranger wearing a hoodie and ball cap. Oh. It's the Head Gardener.

The camera takes a photo when it detects movement. You can see the boys standing outside their stalls.

More Movement: Boone. 

There's that hooded guy again.

Who knows how long it will be before we see an owl. The weather is bad. Snow. Cold. Wind--which also activates the camera to take a photo when the pine tree limbs move, so the HG will move it so that it does not take unnecessary photos. And I hope that we don't run out of mice or voles. 

This next photo was taken and edited by my friend, Patty Lang. She and her husband spent the weekend with us and we were looking at her collection of photos. She uses an online editor, Smart Photo Editor, which lends her wonderful special effects that take her photos to the next level. I believe that this photo was taken on a very foggy morning at Confluence Lake in Delta, CO. It is an interesting photo because if you know geese you will recognize the white geese as domestic ones, the two grays with the hump nose are domesticated Chinese geese, and the one wild Canada goose. You have to wonder why he is with the domestics.

There are a dozen captions that go with this photo. What would you say about the photo?  I'll post them, if you want to suggest a caption.

Well, thank you for visiting. I appreciated your concern and good wishes for the horses. They are all old and we can sympathize with them. I wake up many mornings stiff with sore joints from the arthritis that is settling in. Sundance is now on a injection of some sort--a cortisone type drug that will help his joints produce lubricating fluid and an anti informatory tabled "For Dogs Only." So far Sundance has not begun to bark yet, but he is moving more easily and we hope pain free.

I'll be linking up with Life in Normandy Mosaic Monday. You will find we at the bottom of the list. 

Have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Happily Returning

 Happy Valentine's Day

Greetings. Yes. I have been neglecting my blog and you. I miss my little community of friends and wish I were more disciplined to do my weekly posts. I will try to be a little more diligent, friends.

It's mid February and we are in the grips of a Colorado winter, thankful for the moisture since the Weather People--those pretty, sweet, smart young women who deliver the grim weather new reports with a smile, outside in the elements, dressed in chic winter coats and faux fur hats--reminded us of the reality of a warm (?) dry winter who remind us that we are officially in a drought, dreaded news for us here in the northern part of the state who hope for green pastures and abundant hay in the summer. Thus we have snow on the ground, not a huge amount, but it is a mere eleven degrees out there with bright sunshine that promises to warm up the day, with more snow in the forecast. We remind each other that it is February; it is winter; and it is Colorado. But enough about the weather. It will change in awhile, anyway. 

My first mosaic pretty much shows what I have been doing: Sewing for the girls, the 18 inch ones. I do enjoy sewing for them because they are are patient with the fittings and always love what I make for them regardless of the color or style or fabric.

The two dolls pictured are Target dolls, Our Generation. Both rescued from the dreadful toy bins at the thrift store. The price of these dolls is climbing. Last year I picked up a couple of Madame Alexander dolls for two to three dollars; the cute little red head was fifteen dollars. You will not find American Girl dolls in a thrift store either. Used, you will find them on eBay and Craig's List. 

If you want to know more about the patterns, email me and I'll be glad to share them with you. The first dress and the American Native dress come from a book of patterns by Joan Hinds. This book has dresses of the decades beginning in 1700 through 1950. The patterns are very easy to sew. They come on a CD and are scaled to print out the perfect size.  The little Edwardian dress pattern comes from a website specializing in doll clothes: Pixie Fair. Click on the link to see the pattern. The site also offers free patterns. You order the pattern then download it and it prints to the correct style. 

I buy most of my fabric at the the thrift store when I see a piece that calls out to me. I am acquiring quite a stash. I am also trying to use up my stash of notions and materials that I have collected over the years. My sister-in-law gave me a piece of doe skin leather that I will make a more authentic American Native dress. For this first one, I used faux suede. It was a very easy pattern to sew. I still have to finish the little moccasins. I've purchased a dark complected Madame Alexander doll on eBay with long black braids as my native doll. She'll be here tomorrow. I can't wait to meet her. 

I also need to catch you up on the equine members of the family. The boys are doing well, sort of. We noticed that Pop, the pony was shying at shadows, stumbling, and not quite sure as to where to go sometimes when he had his UV protective mask on. One day as Jen helped Lily ride, the light caught Pop's left eye just right so that she could see a cloudiness in his eye. The vet confirmed that he is blind in that eye and partially blind in the other eye. She says that blind horses do quite well and with Sundance as his buddy, he gets along very well. In fact, Doc Autumn told us that he has been blind for a very long time and that he probably had the condition long before we got him. He turns 30 this years and still has spunk.

Sundance, the golden boy, has more problems that poor Jen is trying to sort out. Basically he is lame. She has had a chiropractor work on him, put him an arthritis medication for dogs only--but also prescribed for horses--, and now he is on butazoline. Once used in humans for gout and arthritis, it is still used in horses for inflammation. But he has a lameness in the right hind quarter that suggests two problems: sciatica or even a cracked pelvis that will take months to heal. He will a begin around of shots soon to help his joints make lubrication fluid. Jen is heart broken. She had hoped to be able to ride Sundance with her girls this summer.

Ellie and Lucy both have horses now at their house. Ellie's horse has problems, too, that we are trying to figure out. Right now Jen is researching the possibility that Honey might have stomach ulcers. The horse's stomach can be scoped with may or may not locate the ulcer and it is an expensive procedure, so she is trying to figure out how to help the mare get to feeling better.

Horses are big animals and when they get sick or injured, it is often expensive to diagnose and treat their problems. Surprisingly, they are treated with much the same medications as humans are such as omperzole for ulcers, for example. Such treatments for horses are very expensive, so Jen is looking for alternatives, wanting to find homeopathic ways to heal Ellie's mare.

With Spring just around the corner, we are beginning to think ahead to spring gardening. While we have more snow yet to come, with March our heaviest snow month--if you can believe that. 

That that winds up this post. I'm joining Maggie at Life in Normandy for Mosaic Monday. See you there. 

Have a fabulous week. Thanks visiting.