Friday, June 29, 2007

and... there's more..!

These plants also came from Target'. Had no idea as to what I was gonna' do with them but loved the colors and couldn't resist. Lo and behold! I came home from work to find this nice basket sitting empty by my gate! (Thanks Angela and Eileen...and Gloria) It was meant to be!
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potting mania

Last Saturday I showed up to work 2 hours late because I went to a "potting clinic" at Windmill Nursery. Andrew did a terrific job of showing us how to make lovely filled ceramic pots as well as hanging baskets. We all loved the hint of using a plastic bag (with holes punched in the bottom) to hold the potting soil in a fiber-filled don't see the plastic bag once its done. The plants appear to be growing out of the moss or fiber liner and don't require quite as much watering. Another good "hint" is to use LOTS of water soaked moss in hanging baskets. He used a whole big bale of it to do the basket he's working on in this photo. He also used almost all of a large bag of Monrovia potting soil. (Or was it E.B. Stone?)

Since I had to dash off to work, I didn't get to hang around to visit with the other crazy pot-headed people in attendance nor did I get to buy more plants from Windmill until the following Monday. Hopefully Andrew and his cohorts will put on more fun events. We may all just become The Windmill Gang. (Not that we aren't already, but we don't all know each other yet.) ;>)

Not to take anything away from Windmill but to take less away from my checkbook, I mosied into Target last week too. Found this wonderful "Ruby Penstemon" for $3.99, gallon can, and the pretty coleus for $1.98, sixpack.

The Cordyline in the goldish pot was from that "bad place", Walmart, for cheap. The "profusion apricot Zinnias, the Ipomoea "sweet Caroline", the "Terra Cotta" Calibrachoa and the "Caribbean Sunset" Cuphea varia are all from Windmill Nursery. The little corkscrewy thingies I think came from Jo-Ann Fabrics last summer. I just knew I'd find a use for them someday!

The tall terra cotta pot has more fun stuff from Target in it. The tall greenish one is Cape Fuschia (Phygelius x rectus) and the other is a hybrid Dahlia.
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

More "But I thought they froze to death!"

This Persian Shield (Strobilanthus dyeranus) froze down to a mere brown nub last winter too. (too, as in that was the point I was trying to make in the following post only when I edited, I removed that part! and I can't remember how to get to the "dashboard" to its being done this way! So there!) Actually, my POINT was that though the plants looked totally dead in February, they are all looking absolutely smashing now, in June.'Sheesh. I'd better just go to bed.
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Jack Frost did quite a number on this Justica aka Jacobinia carnea (Brazillion Plume Flower) It is pretty well sheltered by a large palm tree and an olive tree too. Plus it is near the house. It usually sails through winter with nary a care but then, we don't usually have extended periods of frost. The Bird of Paradise that lives in the pot that candle holder is poking up from turned totally brown and mushy. Lo and behold! It currently has a 24" tall new leaf. (hmm. shoulda had a picture!)

36" away from the Jacobinia grows another of Mom's favorites; the Justica brandegeana (Beloperone guttata) aka the Shrimp Plant. (that is not a snake. just a bungie cord to keep the plant from laying on the sidewalk) I suspect that both of these will be too tender for the climate of Corvallis, which is zone 6 according to Sunset. We are zone 14 according to Sunset. Didn't we used to be zone 8? and didn't I used to be 42?
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The Peabody Saga continues

So Peabody and the white rooster returned, looking for non-existant mates early last week. I managed to drag some of that awful orange plastic fencing over the top of the old chicken pen and got "the birds" to go in for yummy snacks. Since I didn't have the "roof" secured yet, I didn't attempt to slam the gate. They would have escaped and never, ever ventured near that place again. Last evening, after the rooster had gone to bed in the tree tops, Peabody made a break for it. Down the driveway, over the gate, and into the middle of the street where, lucky for her, drivers actually stopped. Luring her back across the road wasn't working (not to mention that I was barefoot and clad in my cruddy gardening shorts and a top that wasn't made for someone well past her prime, not to mention her ideal weight.) She has not yet returned. It wasn't very nice of her to leave the rooster behind. Do you suppose that the folks down the road bribed her to lure the rooster away from them?
One of my neighbors from about a mile away happens to be a customer at the place I work. She was in today and mentioned that she saw a peahen on our street..."she was in front of the wacky garden lady's place." "Just where would that be?" I gamely asked. "Oh you know! The place with all the flowers in front." The place with the red gate?" "Yes!" Oh dear. Guess that makes me the wacky garden lady! yikes! It could be worse! :>) One wouldn't want to be known as "That old bitch." would one?! Anyhow, I will secure the "roof" to the sides of the pen tomorrow just in case she returns and then maybe, just maybe I can catch her. There is a peacock waiting for her...but she needs to be caught in order to get her to him. I should record a peacock's call. Betcha that would get her attention!
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Yesterday Phoebe-dog inadvertantly spooked the doe and a fawn from the bushes. The fawn streaked off to the west, Phoebe and I came in the house, and DOEreen stalked the cat. Dawson-cat had not left the steps and was not about to relinquish his space. DOEreen took one step closer then turned and walked slowly away. When I opened the door, Dawson leapt up from his crouched position and dashed back inside. These aren't the greatest pictures but give me a break! They were taken through the antique glass windows of the kitchen!

DOEreen looks a bit scruffy. She probably has ticks, oh joy, plus she is shedding. No doubt wormy too. She should be plump from eating all my shrubbery. To tell the truth, I don't for sure know if this is DOEreen or her yearling. Would a yearling help protect a fawn? I don't know the social structure of deer. Can't see an udder, but then an udder wasn't visable on the doe last year and I know for a fact she had a fawn.

She does not run from me but other than giving her her space, I have deliberately tried not to "tame" her. She will stand as close as 50' away and watch me intently. Wild animals should remain so. They just get into trouble when they learn to trust humans. Never trust a human!
This morning's surprise was the sudden return of Peabody, the peahen, and a white Bantam rooster who'd run away from home years ago. Peabody left in March, right after the last of the banty hens became a late night snack for a raccoon. I rather suspected that she had headed north, lured by the siren call of banty roosters at a neighbor's place. That would also be the place to which ran (flew) this white rooster...3 or 4 years ago, at least! He'd been penned with others but figured out how to escape...and then vanish. A few weeks later the neighbor came down to ask if I was missing a rooster. Or was it months? Anyhow, he's back. He is looking for hens and she is looking for a peacock. We have one lined up for her but need to catch her to get her to him. I wonder how tame the peacock is. Maybe his owners could bring him over and we could lure her into a truck, or trailer or cage with him. I wouldn't mind getting a hen for the rooster except, if memory serves me, that's how I ended up with 13 roosters and 12 hens 9 years ago! Besides, I don't wish to anger the neighbors. I hope they stay long enough to clean up the snail population which has been growing since the poultry left.
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Saturday, June 09, 2007


Last week my brother, his daughter, and I flew from SAC to PDX, then boarded a train for Rugby, ND. We were in Portland long enough to meet up with a friend and have lunch with my son. The weather was beautiful. Portland was beautiful. Portland always feels like home, even though I only lived there for a few years. We met up with our friend and my son again on the way back.

The flight was fast (an hour and 20 minutes or less) and the train was, well, not exactly slow. We were doing 79 mph across the middle of Montana. Saw a Bald Eagle, lots of antelope, deer, bison, horses, sheep, cows...But it takes ALL DAY to cross Montana! Very pretty country. Lots of sky. Have not been able to get that song line "somewhere in the middle of Montana.." out of my head.

This first picture is of the gravel road Grandfather Voeller's farm is on. Grandpa has been gone many years now but our cousin Dennis lives on it. The driveway into the farm is on the left. We may have seen or heard a total of 6 vehicles, including tractors, on this road during the 4 days we were there. We heard but one plane; a crop duster. It was silence punctuated by bird songs, an occasional whinney, and the distant drone of a tractor, and our chattering and laughter. Mostly though, it was bird songs. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I fully understand why our Aunt Marie left Sacramento every summer to spend time "on the farm". Its 15 miles SE of Rugby and if not for the nasty winters, I'd be very tempted to move there.
The view from the farm house is of many of the trees our Uncle Walt planted in the 1960's and '70's. I gather some of the locals thought he was nuts since he planted trees on what was very good farm ground but the birds and the 4-leggeds have been elated. I kicked myself daily for not taking my binoculars, my Sibley's Guide, my wildflower book, and a tree book but I think those all give me a good excuse to go back! At night the fireflies come out. Like magic, they appear and dissappear, wafting off across the grass and into the bushes like little fairies carrying lanterns. I'm pretty sure the twinkles in my cousin's eyes are due to the fact that fireflies are in them. ;>)

Yellow seems to be the popular bird color. The trees were filled with yellow warblers and American goldfinches. Almost every pond, lake, and swale had large populations of yellow headed blackbirds. There were also black capped chickadees, nuthatches, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, barn swallows, purple martins, tree swallows, and a large variety of waterfowl. I must learn my waterfowl! We also spotted the two wild turkeys that recently showed up and a male pheasant.

Grandpa's barn was built in 1907 and painted in 1912. Or thereabouts. I'm sure either my brother or my neice will correct me if I am wrong. Last year I dreampt that I was walking up the stairs to the the loft of this barn and my late father met me on the stairs. He said "You have no idea how difficult it was to arrange this family reunion." All my late relatives were dressed in their best clothes and were milling about in the loft. So of course I had to go check out the barn. I had been on the farm back in 1959 but had not set foot inside the barn until this time. Other than the stairway being to the rt instead of to the left, and the fact that it went to the side instead of towards the back, the loft appeared as it did in my dream. Sans deceased relatives of course. And in my dream, the loft was not all dusty and filled with debris.
It was a bit eerie when my cousin told me that the stairs USED to be on the left...

This is a view of "the lake" that Dad always talked about. They used to pick choke-cherries along the lakeside. There is an earthen dam across one end of the lake and a beaver house out in the bigger portion. There are an awful lot of lakes in North Dakota. Maybe LAKE is too big a description. Ponds? Swales. Depressions, that are ALL filled this year due to an extraordinary amount of rainfall. Now that I've seen the area from ground level, the Google Earth photos will make more sense!

Today I must return to the real world and go back to work. The trip was wonderful in that we met and/or re-met many of our cousins and second cousins, our 90 year old aunt, and various extentions of our family shrub (believe me, its not a TREE), we sort of connected with our roots, and we were able to enjoy silence of the very best sort. My brother and I didn't kill each other. I got to know my neice better. I realized that when I move, I will not be happy in a town, even if it is Corvallis. I will need some space. A half acre minimum. But that's another story....
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