Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The head gardener is off on his annual hunting trip which means that I am on chore duty. Come help me do the morning chores.

Most days I am an early riser,  getting up about 5:30 AM. I make coffee and settle in my easy chair to read my blogs on the iPad while the Head Gardener sleeps in.  When I am on duty I try to keep his feed schedule at least in the morning, so I go out about 8:00. Sundance is usually in the corral waiting. He calls to me, telling he how hungry he is.

"Come on boys, can't you give me a smile this morning? You are going to be featured on the blog," I say to them as I try to get their attention. I want them both looking straight at the camera lens, ears forward, joy in their eyes, but they only have one thing on their mind: breakfast.

The boys know the routine.

Pop gets Senior Glow, a low carb pellet. His former owner told us that he is prone to founder (a condition that could permantly cripple him caused by too rich of a diet), so he gets a low carb feed and grass hay. His pasture time is limited, too, and he has to wear a special muzzle that limits his access to fresh greens.

Sundance gets a small amount of a high carb grain mixture of oats and molasses.

They each get a flake of home grown hay. Both cuttings of hay this year were exceptional. Sundance will finish his breakfast and head to the pasture, while Pop will stay in his stall until 2:00 when I let him out to graze in the pasture.

Next the hens. We are down to eight. We lost one last week. They are getting on in years so they are not laying very many eggs. From 8 hens we are averaging 0-3 eggs a day. We are not prone to put them in the freezer, so we have think about getting chicks next spring. We can only keep 12 hens according to our covenant. 

Scratch--simply cracked corn. They have mash in the hen house. 

Dew clings to garden in the early morning. The crisp, cool air hints at fall. Today will be sunny, mild, and  about 70 degrees. 

As a kid, I always dreamed about a barn with stalls for my horses. They were pastured, fed hay only during the winter. Our barn was an 80 year old milk barn where I kept my gear, but not my horses. These boys have it made. Sundance  now 18 and Pop is 24,  will live out their lives in peace, both spoiled princes.

I'll repeat the routine around 7:00 PM.

The rest of day will be filled with cleaning, reading, daydreaming, laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, did I mention daydreaming?

Now back to reality. There are chores to be done.

Thanks for visiting. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's Up with Gertrude?

The quiet that had befallen town has lifted as the freight trains return. I hadn't really missed the WooooHooooot of the trains as they blast through town. I don't know just how many trains a day power through town or how many at night, for that matter. Let's just say that the Rio Grande's main line through Northern Colorado has heavy traffic.

They blow their whistle at each intersection, as required by federal law--long, steady woooohooooots that seem a bit overdone. Sometimes the noise can be quite annoying and very loud, especially if we are on the phone or want to hear something on TV. Other times the trains run through town barley noticed, and so I was a bit taken a back when I realized this afternoon that I had not heard a single train whistle in a couple of days.  Late today the first train hauling new automobiles eased its way south through town on the siding, making room for the freight train roaring north on the main line. The trains were back in business.  With the amount of flooding south of us, we are sure that the train tracks were compromised. The freight trains haul any number of things: train loads of  factory new cars, mile long trains of box containers double stacked arriving on the west coast from China to be distributed to the rest of the country, coal trains, trains pulling oil tankers, hazardous materials, and yes even lions, tigers and, bears when the Barnum and Bailey Circus comes to town (Denver).

As the trains resume their regular schedule, are they the metaphor that life will be getting back to normal for those thousands who have lost their homes in Northern Colorado? Oh no. Not so quick. For many, life will never be the same.

This morning the housekeeper came to help me prepare for the carpet cleaners coming tomorrow. With the dog and one cat now gone, it is time to freshen up the house. It takes lot of work to move furniture, put away nic-nacs, and de-clutter. I sometimes wonder why I am so driven to collect, for all that I collect only collects dust.

Then I spent part of the afternoon in the garden in the fresh air. I love this pink rose. While not as big as it was or colored the same as when I bought it, I still love to take its picture. Soon Jack Frost will steal its breath away. She is my sweet one.

I filled up the back of the Ez-Go with weeds pulled only from the garden beds around the house. Noxious weeds: thistle, wild lettuce, button weeds, dandelions.  Jack Frost can't come soon enough  for them. They have quite worn out their welcome.

And would you look at Gertrude Jekyll! She must be in a terrible snit for she has barely bloomed all summer and grown to nearly 8 feet, I'd guess. I stand 5'2 and she towers over me and the rest of her sister roses. The other David Austins are growing tall and not flowering. What's with them? I bought Gertrude because she was such a gorgeous pink rose and I love the way her flowers open.

Winchester Cathedral, a David Austin, seems to be behaving nicely, although I think the blooms should be bigger. I love the whiteness. This rose is not growing gigungous as are the other David Austins. I must do some reading to see what I am doing wrong with them for they certainly are not compact plants like the tea roses and they were a big disappointment this summer. They are growing tall and not blooming.

New to the Garden Spot this year is this Echinacea, Big Sky Sunrise. I have several varieties here and I have waited all summer for this one to bloom. It does not yet look quite like its name tag, but I think I am going to like it.

We also dug potatoes. I'll have pictures later. I really like home grown potatoes. I made a wonderful Tuscan type soup with the first that we dug--the baby potatoes. It was a very simple soup that I dreamed up myself--well sorta. Not having the ingredients for potato soup (lots of bacon and a ton of Cheddar cheese), I lightened up it up with less milk and more chicken broth and added Italian sausage and fresh parsley to the baby potatoes. I didn't even cut them up. The soup was hardy, tasty, with a fewer calories and fat than my over-the-top potato soup that ends up being a cheese and bacon with potatoes soup. the lighter soup tasted much like my favorite soup at Olive Garden, the Zuppa Tuscana.

And so as the sun sets on another good day at the Garden Spot,  

We give special thanks for our good fortune and the blessings in our life as we worry and pray for our friends and neighbors whose lives have been turned upside down and may never be the same again. The toll has been great with nearly 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed, hundreds of bridges and miles upon miles of roads washed away. It will take Northern Colorado millions of dollars and years to repair the damage, much of which probably won't be really restored. I mean, how do you rebuild a home on a piece of property that was totally swept away down the river? So far only 6 have been confirmed dead with 2 missing and presumed dead, although the death toll may raise as search and rescue of the stranded has now turned to search and recover bodies. Pray for those who are lost.

Let the rest of your week be full of sunshine and joy. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Judith at Lavender Cottage has offered a photographic challenge: Windows and Doors, so I thought I would give you a look from the inside out:

My View on the World

The view from my kitchen window: the courtyard with the little water garden, the rose garden, and the horse pasture. 

From the office: the weedy center circle and the new houses that are being built across the street. 

From the guest bedroom: the back yard. I have taken down curtains and sent them off the cleaners, so the window looks rather bare.

And that is my view on the world: my peaceful, quiet Garden Spot.

Strange Visitor

Inside, it is a different story. Yesterday while I was cleaning and hubby was revamping the pantry closet, I found that we had visitor. Actually I got quite excited because we rarely see praying mantis in the yard. I know that we have a few, but we don't see them much. So how did it get in the house?

Did it climb out of the pan of garden vegetables? I had washed them and sorted them, so I don't think he came from them. Who knows? Anyway, he went back to the garden where he belongs.

On a side note: last night before I went to bed I checked the window wells for toads. I rescued one huge one and 5 babies. They have to be removed from the window wells or they die. One escaped from the shoe box that I was trying to put them into. It hid under the couch. But he came out and hubby caught him. No photo. Use your imagination on this one. 

Night Lights

We had a very long day in Denver Thursday that ended at the Denver Aquarium where we attended a financial planning seminar. Before the seminar, we had free access to tour the aquarium. I was so excited because I had never been there and it is very expensive to visit. I didn't take any photos of fish; fish are fish and we had little time to hang out with them. But I did play with the camera when we returned to the car at the end of the evening. It had rained on us all day, so the clouds were heavy, wet, and low. I am not sure just what the tower is that I photographed, it might be at the amusement park Elitche's  just behind the aquarium. The skyline was so beautiful. I do need to learn how to take night photos, but I rather like my fuzzy, out of focus photos.

The front of the aquarium.

On a final note, here in Northern Colorado we are so distressed; while the Garden Spot is not under water, much of our Weld county to the south of us is. I am sure that you have seen the news reports on national news about the flooding in Boulder, but that flooding was just the beginning. Let me tell that it is bad. Really bad. Some of you have been to Estes Park in the mountains. Now 17 miles of the highway in the Big Thompson Canyon has been destroyed as a wall of raging water forced its way down the canyon. Estes Park main street was under water. I am talking three raging rivers: Cache La Poudre, Big Thompson, and the St. Vrain, all feeding into the South Platte River on the south east side of Greeley. Thousands of acres under water. Roads and bridges wiped out. And more rain on the way. This part of Colorado received 6 months of rain in 24 hours or less. Red Feather, a mountain community, received 13.8 inches of rain in a day. Lyons, another mountain community, has been totally isolated. If you want to read more and see photos, go to 9news. com. We suffered drought last summer and most of this summer and raging fires. Now more rain than, really, I have ever seen. Today thousands are wondering if their life will ever be the same. They have lost everything. They could use your prayers.

Hope you are all well and safe. Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In the Pink

We had rain along the Front Range last night. The Denver area had feet deep hail--a lot of hail. I have never seen so much hail ( in the news). Here we just had nice sweet, rain punctuated with thunder and lightening, a very nice way to end the heat spell that wore out its welcome. As I posted on Facebook today, one of things that I am enjoying about retirement is the luxury of being able to go out to the garden early in the morning after rain instead of rushing off to work.

I came back from the garden with the egg basket full.

And a handful of white onions. We planted 3 varieties of onions: white, yellow, and red. I think that the white are the best if their odor is any sign. I cut some up for salsa, crying all the while. The whites did the best given that they were in the part of the garden that didn't get watered as much as it should have.

The garden is still in the pink: by the house, cosmos, hibiscus, dianthus , and a sweet rose.

Fondly called around here Heidi Biscuit, this lovely hibiscus has survived the horse manure top dressing. The leaves still show the signs to the over fertilization and the blooms are not as big as they should be, but she is lovely, none-the-less.

Growing in my little succulent garden, the dianthus have bloomed all summer long with vigilant dead heading.

I love this rose. It is just the perfect shade of pink.

The garden still blooms pink, too. The only zinnia to survive the cultivator has been so lovely and a joy to watch grow.

Uninvited to the garden, this gorgeous dark pink cosmos has popped open here at the end of the summer. Next year I will plant more. I love cosmos. So do bees and butterflies.

Decorators know that a dash of red adds panache to a room and to the garden too. One volunteer zinnia found her way into the garden.

Hiding from prying eyes, the sweetest little red strawberries.

In the courtyard, the red rose continues to please. It will bloom until the first frost.

Back in the house, getting ready to make salsa, I washed up the vegetables. All cleaned up, the peppers look nearly perfect.

Is there something wrong with me when I get so excited over onions?

I grow egg plant just because they look so pretty in the garden and they are so easy to grow.
Now what do I do with it?

These are California red bells; they don't do so well. They tend to rot on the vine. At first I thought they needed more water. Then less water. But before they reach any sort of maturity, they develop brown sores that just begin to eat away at a healthy pepper. Do you have the same problems?

This one might survive. I remembered that last year I picked the Cal reds while they were still green to let them ripen on the counter. We will see what this one does.

I spent part of the day making salsa to use up some of the tomatoes, onions, and peppers. To this batch I added jalapeno and Anaheim to give it a punch. The first two batches I just used green peppers since my jalapenos and Anaheims didn't do well. I bought some from the farmer down the road who had better luck than I did growing fabulous peppers.

With my work done for the day (so I declared), I retreated to my craft room where I can spend mindless hours making stuff. Another perk of retirement: I can do whatever I want. 

I have been working on a glittered house Christmas village, but last night I decided make a haunted house. It turned out so cute that I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting on my Cricut machine pieces to make five little haunted houses for the grandchildren. 

Tomorrow we make a trip to Denver, so I am glad that I finished the salsa. There is still work to be done in the garden; hopefully, I can get out later in the week to do some weeding and clean up. It is supposed to be cool all week with more rain. 

We love rain.

As I close tonight, rain falls again. My friend Cymber who lives in Hawaii posted this on Facebook today. I don't think that she will mind if I close tonight's post with her inspiration:

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes

Good night all, and thank you for visiting.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hot Hot and Hotter.

It is pretty quiet here at the Garden Spot. We are winding down the garden. I have a pan full of tomatoes on the kitchen counter waiting to make into salsa, which I will do tomorrow. I have photographed tomatoes until I am quite uninspired and there is little else inspiring in the garden to write about either. Life is pretty mundane, so I default to the grandkids and Sundance.

Just doing the chores. 

Even Lily thinks she needs to help. 

Horse stalls cleaned. Now time to feed the fish.

We are hoping that the heat wave fades out this week as the weather man promises. It has been in the 90s all week. I have great plans to wash windows on the outside, but it has just been too hot and I can't seem to get up early enough to beat the heat. I even bought a new window washer. 

Hope you have more going on in your garden than what we have going on here. Anyone planting spring bulbs yet? 

Have a great week. And Thank You for visiting.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...