Friday, May 28, 2010

It rained last night, accompanied by thunder and lightning and a very bried power outing.  This AM I was wondering why my answering machine was blinking.  When I activated it, this very strange voice came on and said, "Time and derring not set.  You have no messages."  I'm not kidding, that is exactly the way it sounded.  When I first got the machine, I got this message all the time.  Finally I figured out what it was saying - the work is day, not derring.  I do wonder what language the voice usually speaks - not English, I think!

Anyway, we needed the rain.  My gutters were cleaned yesterday, just in time.  They flushed out a bunch of leaves and dirt and left it in a bag for the trash pickup.  The rain was NOT accompanied by hail, as they had threatened, so all my flowers are looking good.  I have only two more pots to fill, but they are hanging baskets, so I will have to buy more plants.  Gee, too bad, HAVE to buy more plants!  What a hardship!!

I'll be off line for a few days, but will be back in business next week.  Hope everyone enjoys the long weekend and that the weather is good.  It will be lovely here, although getting hot again by Monday.

We often forget that Memorial Day is not just a holiday.  It's a day when we remember our military people who gave their lives for our country.  I willl be thinking those who are currently serving in war zones, as well. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So far, so good.

This week, I've tried to be careful of my back.  On Monday, I went to aerobics, only to find that the class was on break - starts again next week.  So, having all that free time, I went shopping.  I bought garden soil (3 bags) and potting soil (2 bags) and just a few more plants.  Also, thistle seed - not for the garden, but for the goldfinches.  When I got home, I, put on my back support,  got the wheelbarrow out and carefully, transferred two bags from the car to the barrow, carefully unloading it out back.  Repeat.  I haven't opened the garden soil yet, but I've gotten into the potting soil.  So far, no back problems.  However, today I bought two bags of mulch.  They are bigger and therefore much heavier.  They are also, still in the car!  I'll have to get help with them - probably Patty will lend a hand some evening this week.  Meanwhile I have more or less organized which plants go into which hanging baskets and have some of them planted and hanging out front.  There will be a couple under the deck, as well.  Heavy shade there, so not as much watering required. One basket will contain fuchsia.  I love the look of this plant, but have not had good luck with them.  They require watering every day.  I'm hoping that being under the deck, they won't dry out so fast.

The bush with the white blossoms is, I think, a syringa (however that is spelled).  It has a sweet smell and it's in a pot right by the door from the dining room to the deck, so I enjoy it any time the door is open.  I don't recall the names of the plants in the two wicker hanging baskets.  I bought them because I was looking for trailing plants.  I'm not sure if they bloom or not.  Guess I'll find out this summer.  The yellow plant that is growing in the front garden is yarrow.  It was very sprawly, so I put one of those odd-looking metal ring things around it to try to contain the blossoms.  Next year I must remember to put the ring thing on before the plant gets so tall!  There isn't much else blooming out front just now, but the lilies are budded and will be gorgeous in another week or so.

Since I am feeling fine this week, I"m back with my regular schedule - taught ceramics on Monday, went to the class where I am a student this morning.  MAD chorus rehearsal tonight.  Church library tomorrow AM.  Dentist tomorrow afternoon.  Pottery class at Montpelier Arts Center Wednesday PM.  Hospital gift shop on Thursday.  Last week, someone was asking if I would like to play bridge once a week.  I could actually fit it into my schedule, but I think maybe that would be the straw that broke the camel's back!  I do need a couple of afternoons when I can do something in the garden or around the house!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

more plants - yikes!

I think I need to join 'gardeners anonymous' if there is such an organization.  I obviously am addicted to buying plants!  Yesterday, Patty and I drove to another nursery - Homestead Gardens.  This is a huge nursery, the biggest we've visited so far.  They have a wonderful selection of plants and who could resist?  Not me!  I got one of the bushes I want for the back yard - a pink butterfly bush.  Even managed to get it into the ground before the rain yesterday evening.  I bought a couple of other perennials and several trailing plants for some of my hanging baskets.  Patty bought a pink dogwood tree!  I thought about getting one myself, but have decided not to put a tree in the backyard.  Instead I will get a crepe myrtle which can grow quite tall.  However, the selection will be better in a month, so I'll have to go back.  (A real hardship!)  We were almost sure that the tree would fit in my van and it did, but it pretty much blocked the rear window.  The tree moved a bit every time we went around a corner, so I kept seeing leaves in the mirror.  However, I drove carefully and we got home safely.  On the way home, we stopped for lunch at Bob Evans.  They serve breakfast all day.  I love those kind of places.  I had waffles with strawberries, sausages, and a fruit smoothie.  Not a very healthy lunch, but I did eat a salad for dinner last night.

At home, Patty managed to get the tree out of the trunk, with difficulty.  The root ball was very heavy.  Luckily our new neighbor was outside and he carried the tree over to her house.  Of course, now she has to plant it. Digging holes in our soil - clay with rocks - is no picnic!  That's one of the reasons I am not buying another tree.  I did plant one in the front yard some years ago.  Once was enough.  It's supposed to rain all week, I think, but I am hoping for a break some afternoon, so that I can get more topsoil spread and get the rest of my plants into the ground. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

more gardening

Yesterday, I finally got most of the flowers planted into pots.  Some of the plants should go into the ground, but that bed in the backyard isn't ready yet.  It needs more topsoil and I'm not quite ready to test my back on lifting heavy bags of dirt.  So those plants went into pots and will wait a while to be transferred into the ground.  Actually, they will be fine in pots all summer, but need to be in the ground before winter.  Anyway, my deck looks much better, with only a few items to dispose of or clean up.  I took some photos of the new plants and will post them in this blog.  Of course, these pots will look better when the plants are larger and the flowers in full bloom.

I've been entertained lately with the antics of young squirrels on my bird feeder.  The feeder has a tray that is made so that anything heavier than a cardinal perching on it will close the feeder.  The bluejays have figured out a way around this.  They manage to hover in place, with a mad flapping of wings, just long enough to grab a seed and then fly away.  There are at least two that can do this trick.  The squirrels, however, cannot figure out how to get those seeds.  They gingerly crawl out on the pole that holds the feeder, then they climb on the roof of the feeder and try to reach the seeds without sliding off.  No luck!  Most of them manage to leap back onto the deck railing, rather than falling all the way to the ground, although, some of them have fallen to land unhurt.  It's only the squirrels born each spring that even bother with this feeder.  Their elders have learned that it's impossible, but the young'uns have to try.  I can't get decent photos of them, because if I get close to the window, they leap off.  And the flash reflects on the window.  You'll just have to imagine very frustrated and indignant squirrels, doing acrobatics on the feeder.

Today, we are off to another nursery.  They said they have pink dogwoods.  We'll see.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

back to normal - whatever that is!

Today, I'm able to spend much more time sitting at the computer or at the table, so I think my back is almost as good as before.  (Unfortunately, it will not be 'as good as new'.  We never get to go back in time to when we were twenty-something and all body parts worked properly, even when we stayed up all night!)  Anyway, I'm getting back into my usual schedule of ceramic classes and volunteering.  Haven't tried aerobics yet.  Maybe next week. 

I have a couple more ceramic pieces to show.  I don't have any more Raku pieces because we didn't actually do any Raku firing on Sunday.  I was at church all day, from 8 AM until 2 PM, helping with the used book sale.  When I got to the site of the firing, Gary (the instructor) said that no one else had brought anything, so he had cancelled that firing.  We will do another one in June, so my work will get fired eventually.

I was at church again today, helping to sort through the books we did NOT sell.  We made over $800 on the sale, so it was a good one, but we had a LOT of books there are many leftover.  Since we have no storage space, we are donating them to various organizations, including a prison, a yard sale sponsored by an animal rescue group, and the gift shop at the hospital where I work.  We will try to sell some to used book stores, and the rest will be given to one of the local thrift shops.  Hopefully, we can find a place that will come and get them. In the past, I loaded up my van and took them to a shop, but I no longer am willing to carry all those boxes.  Boxes of books are HEAVY! 

I was thinking about doing some more potting of plants on the deck today, but it's not a very nice day to be out there - overcast and cool. I think I'll stay in and do some house cleaning.  Goodness knows the house needs it.  I'd always rather be working outside, so the house gets a bit neglected.  I'm not real fussy about the house.  Things are organized, but there is dust on the shelves and bits of grass and dirt on the floor quite often.  Life is too short to waste a lot of time on housework, I think!

Monday, May 17, 2010

rainy weather

This will be quick, with no photos, because I have to leave in 15 minutes to head over to Church for a Council meeting.  We meet once a month.  I'm still not sure how the system works, but I guess I'll get used to it after a few more meetings.  I really don't want to go out tonight.  I'm tired and on rainy nights, I just want to stay home.  However, duty calls. 

We are supposed to have more rain tomorrow and Wednesday.  Then Thursday, of course, it will be warm and sunny.  I knew that would happen, as I will be working inside all day.  Oh well, at least I won't be able to go back to digging in the garden and messing up my back again.  If the weather is nice, the temptation to just dig a few holes will be irrestible.  So I guess it's a good thing it will be rainy on the days when I have free time at home.

I bought local strawberries today.  They are delicious, especially on top of pound cake and topped with whipped cream.  Mmmmmm good. 

Today was a good day for mail too.  Last Saturday, I got 6 letters asking me for money.  Six in one day!  I know that I have never given to three of them.  Probably won't give to the others, either.  Tonight, as I was fixing dinner, someone phoned to ask for money.  I'd never heard of the organization, so I turned her down.  Where do they get my name?  However, today's mail was great - two personal letters!  That almost never happens.  Of course, now I owe my brother Jack and my friend Bonnie letters in return.  But it is great to hear from family and friends.  I really prefer letters (or email) to phone calls, but I"ll stay in touch however I can.

I have to stop now and get ready to head off to church.  I hope I wasn't supposed to do anything for this meeting, because I didn't do anything.  Guess I'll soon find out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a boring week

The week was boring because I spent most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday lying on the couch with a heating pad on my back.  I read two books a day, did several crossword puzzles, read the newspapers and made a few phone calls.  Today, however, I went to the doctor very early (7AM) and got a prescription for a muscle relaxant and some exercises to do to strength my back.  I used to do all those exercises, but it's really boring to exercise alone, so I quit a few years ago.  Guess I'd better go back to them.  Anyway, today the back is better and I can manage the stairs without pulling myself up by the railing.  Hopefully, improvement will continue.  And I will resist any gardening for a few more days!  There are a lot of plants waiting to be put into pots or into the ground, but at least it's been cool and rainy, so they aren't suffering.

Above are a few photos of things I recently made in one of my pottery classes.  The tall object is a rectangular vase.  The mask is a dog of indeterminate breed.  The little dishes are really too small to be very useful - 3 inches in diameter - but they were fun to make and I like the colors.  I have no idea what I will do with them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh my aching back!

I really messed my back up yesterday.  I had felt fine on Saturday, so thought I could do a bit of gardening Sunday.  On the way home from church I stopped at Home Depot and bought two small bags of potting soil and, of course, a few more plants.  Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to get them planted into pots for the deck.  I dumped out the old dirt and carried it down to where I am trying to level off the flower bed.  I had just gotten to the point where I would fill the pots with new potting soil, when I got a sharp pain in my back.  I quit right away, but it was too late.   As a result, I spent the rest of the day and the evening and most of this AM flat on my back.  As soon as I finish this blog, I am going to lie back down on the couch with the heating pad.  Nothing hurts when I lie down, but getting up is another story.  However, I am better this afternoon - I can walk around slowly.  It's my own fault, of course.  I knew I should have waited another few days, but I was so eager to get those plants into pots and get the deck arranged for the summer.  Maybe by next weekend.....

I have to tell you this, cause I think it's really funny.   As I was editing this entry, an ad popped up on the screen.  It said something like, "Get rid of sciatic pain in one week!  Contact us at ....."  Was this just a coincidence or does some computer somewhere read the blogs, find key words and provide appropriate ads?  I will not be contacting them, however, as my pain is usually gone in less than a week all by itself!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

how to spend too much money

Yesterday, Patty and I went to Benhke's, our favorite plant nursery. We looked at the dogwood trees, but their specimens were pretty sad ones. All the good ones sold out early, I guess. I didn't buy a tree, because I am still trying to decide what I want to plant back there. After the trees, we went into the shrub section. They also had a section on native plants that was interesting. Still didn't buy anything. However, next we visited the perennial area - a huge area, partly under shade. I managed to resist the hostas (I have a lot of them already.) and the ferns, but I did buy a wood lily, to replace the one that died over the winter. I'll try to put this one is a better location. Once I started buying, I had trouble stopping. I knew I wanted a few different iris. The iris had just about taken over the front flower bed last year, so I moved a bunch of them and gave many away. Yesterday I bought a wonderful dark blue iris, one in a warm brown shade and one that is both gold and brown. I don't think I can put them in the front, so I guess they will go into the new flower bed in the back. It gets a lot of sun because the tree is gone, so the iris should be happy there. I bought some other odds and ends - perennials and annuals. I hope to get some of them planted today, but my back is still giving me trouble, so I will have to limit my planting to pots or holes already dug!

On our way home, we stopped at Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. We both love that place, but try not to go too often. I'm sure the concoction I ate had at least 1000 calories! It was worth it - strawberry ice cream with strawberries, banana slices, graham cracker crumbs and white chocolate chips. Yummmm.

I hope to talk to both my kids today, as it is Mothers' Day. I talk to Kate nearly every Sunday, but catching Steve at home is a bit trickier. I can never remember if AZ is 2 or 3 hours behind us. They don't go on DST, so sometimes it's 2 hours and sometimes 3. Once, I woke him up, so now I don't call until afternoon, AZ time.

After we got the plants home, Patty and I drove back to downtown Laurel to see what the Main Street Festival was like this year. It had lots of food tents, quite a few tents from local businesses and some crafters selling mostly jewelry. We agreed that it wasn't anything we would go out of our way to attend. However, it was a beautiful day, not too hot, so it was good to be outside walking around. This AM, I discovered that I am sunburned on the back of my neck! It never occurred to me to put on sunblock, and actually it was cloudy when we started out in the morning. I guess I need to be more careful, although at my age, my skin has been exposed to so much sun that I don't suppose a bit more will matter.

Friday, May 7, 2010

a work in progress

I'm going to put up some photos from my gardens. Mostly blooming plants, but also the decorations on two trellises. No vines on either trellis so far, although there will be morning glories on the one in the front yard (the white one). I know this because they were there last year and I can see the little seedlings coming up already. Once you get them started, morning glories are a very aggressive vine. They were everywhere last year, but I tried not to let them go to seed in some places. Hopefully, this year they will just grow where I want them. This AM, I worked outside for a couple of hours. I did some more enriching the soil in the back and dug a hole for the clematis. Believe me, when you have clay soil, digging a hole even a foot deep and wide, is a real accomplishment. Haven't planted the clematis yet, but will do so later today, perhaps. In the process, I managed to pull a muscle in my back (the same place that always gets pulled.) I really wasn't doing anything that I thought was strenuous. Obviously, my body disagreed. Oh well, back to the painkillers!

The bush with the dark pink blossoms is a budeleia. I'm rather uncertain how to spell its name and spell check doesn't know either. Anyway, it's a lovely plant, except that it has a rather straggly growth pattern. Long waving branches going off in all directions. Still, it is spectacular when it blooms. The other flowering plant is the blue clematis, which I may have shown before. The color isn't quite true - actually it's darker than the photo. I didn't take a photo of the new, dark red clematis, but it actually has one beautiful bloom on it now. Unfortunately, it won't get planted today, as I can barely walk now (4 PM). Hopefully by tomorrow my back will have improved enough for me to continue gardening. Back to the photos - the other two are show the trellis in front (white one) and the one in back. I haven't decided what to plant to grow on the one in back. It's on the deck, so the plant will have to be in a pot. I had a honeysuckle there for the past 8 years, but it wasn't doing well and finally just about stopped blooming. Maybe not enough sun. So, I'm not sure what vine to try next. Perhaps I'll just leave the trellis as a privacy screen and put more little gardening things on it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

for gardeners only

All I have blogged about recently is my flower gardens. So, if you aren't interested in gardens, skip this blog.

Yesterday, I stopped at another garden center and looked at trees. They had lots of dogwoods, even a few pink ones, but sadly, I've decided I don't have the space for one. They don't get really big, but anything with a 20 foot spread is too big for the space I have. So, back to the drawing board. I could put a Japanese maple in the space. They are relatively small and slow growing. They don't have colorful blooms, but the foliage is wonderful. I saw one I really like, with multi-colored foliage. It costs more than I wanted to pay - close to $2oo. I'm always afraid to spend that much money on a plant, because it may die. However, I think I may do it anyway. I will look a bit further to see if there are any tall skinny trees available. I don't want another arborvitae, I already have one of those and it also was damaged in the big snows we had.

I did manage to haul all the bags of soil and etc. around to the backyard on Sunday. Now all I have to do is dump the new soil and mix it with the clay that's already there. It shouldn't be too hard on my back, I hope. Once that is done, I can plant a few things. If it doesn't rain this afternoon, I hope to get to work out there.

I took some photos of my iris, but at this point I can't get Blogger to upload them. Ok, obviously I did get it to work, but I had to go into edit mode to do it. However, I can't get the photo of the coral colored iris to be right side up. You'll just have to turn your head! LOL I've had other troubles with Blogger recently. I can't cut and paste text within my blog. I don't know if it's my server, Blogger, or something to do with Windows 7.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

back garden progress - slow

Yesterday afternoon, we went searching for dogwood trees. Not in the woods, but at a nursery. Unfortunately, they were practically sold out. We hope to have better luck with some other nursery. Didn't have any pink ones, which is what Patty and I both want. However, we did not come away empty handed. Fat chance of that! I bought a lovely dark red clematis and something for shade that I have never seen before - bigleaf goldenray (Ligularia dentata Desdemona). I'll post a photo of it. It's really cool with red stems and big leaves. Will have yellow blossoms later this summer. I also bought some annuals, nothing unusual - marigolds, coleus, and purple heliotropoe. This nursery is fairly expensive, so I restrained myself, somewhat. Now, I need to get out and put my purchases into the ground. The backyard plants will have to wait until I get the soil amended. Using the wheelbarrow, I have hauled the bags of manure/hummus around to the back. The other bags are much heavier and I may need help with them. I'm not sure I can even lift them into the wheel barrow. If it doesn't rain today, I will find out.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Update on saga of back garden

Yesterday, I bought 4 bags of soil with gypsum, to ammend the clay soil out back. Patty helped me get the bags (2 cu.ft. each) out of my car. We piled them on the front sidewalk. They are still there and will be until I can borrow a wheelbarrow to haul them around back. I cannot lift the bags, so will NOT be carrying them through my house! Today I have added to the stack, with 4 bags of manure/hummus - supposed to be good for plants. I think I probably also need some vermiculate to lighten the soil. That, however, I will be able to lift, as it weighs practically nothing. I did work out back a bit this AM. I've loosened up the clay soil and moved the plants that were in the area being worked on. Not much else I can do until I get the wheelbarrow, which I hope to do later today. Frankly, if it gets to be 90 degrees outside, I don't think I will even try to work out there.

I'm getting my outside decorations back out. Yesterday I renewed the paint on some of the little watering cans and small tools that I hang on a couple of trellises - one out front and one in back. At this point, nothing is growing to climb on either trellis, but last year I had morning glories out front and I suspect they will be there again this year. They seem to multiply each year, so I'm pretty sure I will have more than I can use. Luckily, I like them, as it would be hard to get rid of all of them. I've also been digging out my birdhouse collection and repositioning them on my deck railing. I don't have nearly as many as last year - perhaps there is another box of them down in the storage room. I will have some new ones to put out, as soon as I get them painted and decorated. I did hang some small ones on the plum tree out front. They are totally useless as bird houses, as they are way too small, but they look cute hanging there.

Later today, Patty and her mother and I are going to a plant nursery to look for dogwood trees and check out the other stuff. Even if I don't find a tree, I'm sure to buy something. I have a hard time resisting plants in the spring. This AM when I went to Home Depot to buy some bags of hummus, I ended up with 6 plants as well. The plants are ok to buy, if you get them soon after they arrive at HD. After a few weeks, they don't look as good, because they don't take good care of them. I just bought annuals - geraniums, snapdragons, a sweet potato vine and something with little blue flowers (I've forgotten what it is). Most of them will go into pots out front.

We have a ground hog living under the front steps again this year. Actually he is under the steps next door, which is vacant at the moment. Patty and I are hoping to fill the space under the steps with stones in order to discourage the beast. Ground hogs are voracious eaters and will destroy our flower beds. We've been lucky for a couple of years, but this one is a juvenile and hasn't found a proper den yet. We want him to go elsewhere - soon!