Monday, June 23, 2008

My New Favorite Song

I heard this on the radio while I was yard-saling last week. It brought back some nice childhood memories. I also need to tell you all about my fabulous yard sale finds. But that will have to wait until after I have prepared for a stressful meeting tomorrow.

Click here for the song. It's by Peter Himmelman.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Outside Stuff

Here's our new patio furniture. We like it.

Here's the herb and vegetable garden next to the garage that Stanley's mom planted in early May. The big bunch of stuff in the back is daylilies, which came up all on their own after the thaw, but Stanley's mom transplanted a few of them to bring them all together. Apparently they will bloom this summer? Right now it just looks like very thick blades of grass. And now the herbs. From left to right: tomato, tomato, lemon balm (smells awesome), rosemary in back and spearmint in front, serrano pepper, rosemary again, serrano pepper again, cilantro (with the tomato cage; it's like three feet tall, who knew?) and tomato again.
Not visible, but denoted by the tiny orange flag on the right half of the photo, is some basil that didn't make it through one of the last cold nights. It looked like it was going to bounce back, so I flagged it so we wouldn't accidentally bury it, but then it just totally gave up and died. But the nice thing about plants is, you can always go out and get another one. Which we did. Two, actually. Purple basil and spicy basil. They are doing pretty well.
I photographed them off center because another plant that you can barely see, if at all, is a clove of garlic that sprouted in the kitchen, so I shoved it in the ground last week. Since then, it appears unchanged. I think it's going to become compost.

This is a mosquito sucking blood out of my foot.
They were really ferocious a few nights ago, but tonight they are not too bad.

Have a great weekend! I've got lots of little home and yard projects planned, plus I scored on some yard sale items yesterday, so I should blog about all of this, but I have vowed not to spend too much time on the internet this weekend, so something has got to give.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Blues... in birds, not moods or musical genres. Today's entry features birds with blue feathers. I do have some other ideas of what to write to you about besides birds, but bird entries are just more likely these days because I tend to be sitting on the sofa when I'm at my computer, and a bird I've been waiting for will stop by, and my camera is right there, so I take a shot at the bird, and then it's easy to just plug the camera into the computer and away I go with more bird blogging.

A blue jay arrived as he does every week or so. Just prior to his arrival, there was a massive evacuation of all sparrows and finches in the vicinity (usually those are the only birds in the vicinity). Then within seconds, in zooms the Godzilla of feeder birds. He's fast and heavy so he really gets the thing swinging when he lands on it. There are other birds as heavy or heavier, but they just hop around in the grass or hang out in the trees. I admire his audacity.

Speaking of hopping around in the grass, here is (I believe) a common grackle, which ironically, comes by rarely. I think he's neat-looking with his shiny dark blue neck and his piercing yellow eyes. He always shows up with a few of his friends.

Good lord it's gorgeous today. First sunny day in quite a while, and warmest in a while as well: upper 70s. Adding to my sense of how gorgeous the day is is the fact that I had spent the last few days prepping for a meeting this morning, and it's over, and it went okay, and I don't have to think about it again...except that we have another one this Tuesday. But whatever! Tonight I'm taking it easy.

I hope you are, too!

Monday, June 9, 2008


At long last, the elusive black-capped chickadee.

And before you can rub your eyes in disbelief, in a flash, he's gone.

I stayed home from work for weeks, glued to the window, just to get him on film.

Congratulations to Julie, who e-mailed me with the correct answers to yesterday's contest, the rules of which included guessing the correct number and species of the animals in one of the photos. Julie wins kudos, brownie points, and bragging rights. Well done Julie! Kudos! Brag away! I'm in contact with the Girl Scouts re: your brownie points!

The correct answers (as far as I know) were: Three. Mourning dove (bottom), house finch (feeder), and grey squirrel (lower right, only part of the tail is visible).

Update: The ferns are still alive.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mulch, Stumps and Weeds

I'm just not blogging, what's wrong with me?

I'm learning more about plants, weeds, and gardening. Every time I go out in the yard, there is something new. For example, the photo below shows an adorable stalk, about 18 inches tall, that came up in the front yard recently.

Maybe you recognized it immediately, but I had never seen anything like it. I love the tiny heart-shaped leaves. Correction: fruits. I tried to figure out what it was by googling "tiny heart-shaped leaves" but all that came up was something about hostas and it's not a hosta. Or it's not hosta. Whatever. Then I realized that they seemed to be more like seedpods than leaves, so I changed my search, and BINGO: shepherd's purse. The wikipedia article uses rude euphemisms to imply that it is a weed. It "grows in gardens, lots, fields, waste grounds and embankments". It doesn't "get along well with others". Well, I'm not pulling it up. It's adorable. Plus, apparently, it controls bleeding when taken internally. What better plant to have in case of emergency.

We may have a bronze birch borer in our birch tree; there is some die-back in the upper crown and most birches around here succumb to it if not thoroughly watered, and there was a drought last summer so chances are it is weakened. We had it chemically treated and also put this ring of mulch around it:

We're going to add something so it doesn't just look like a donut. Perhaps a rock border and some potted plants. We are also going to bury a soaker hose under the mulch at some point, so we can easily give it a really good overnight watering every week or two during the summer. AND (we will do anything to save our birch) at the suggestion of the arborist we are going to ask the city to plant a tree on the boulevard (the grass between sidewalk and street) to help shade the lawn so it doesn't dry out too quickly. Ours is the only house on the block without a tree on the boulevard, so there probably was one there at some point.

Note the cluster of tall green plants in the foreground on the left, directly under the trunk of the tree. I know, it's hard to see. But I'm keeping my eye on it; it's very weed-like, but it's sort of acting like it's going to get up to a certain height and then bust out with a flower. I'm pulling up very few weeds for that reason. I would hate to uproot an orchid or something, out of ignorance. So instead, I let my yard go wild, out of ignorance. The arborist pointed out a couple of plants and said "those can come out". He didn't specify that they are weeds, or that they are dangerous or poisonous; but I assume they are weeds, and thus, undesirable. Some people see a weed and think, "hard to kill". I think, "easy to grow".

CONTEST: How many animals are visible in the above photo? Be the first to tell me and win kudos and brownie points. Name the species, and you will also get bragging rights.

Below is an experiment of mine. There were some ferns growing on the side of the house, and I kind of like the look of them, and the deck needs some decoration but I don't want to spend money on plants only to have them die because they are the wrong choice or because I don't have a green thumb, so I transplanted three ferns to a pot.

It's a pilot study to see if I can keep an outdoor plant alive. I did my best to maintain similar conditions to what they had originally: in the shade, on the north side of the house, in the same dirt they were growing in before, with some other cute little weeds to keep them company, etc. There are rocks in the bottom for drainage. I even threw in a worm, for Christ's sake. I also left some ferns undisturbed in the ground where they were, as a control group. If my potted ferns don't make it and the undisturbed ones do, I'll know what killed them. I killed them. Out of ignorance.

Did you notice the stumps? Yes, we put wheels on stumps. Instant patio furniture. They can serve as plant stands, end tables, footrests, etc. The wheels keep them off the deck so they don't trap water and so that they are easier to move around. Here's the big one, which is great for sitting. It really did benefit from the added wheels:

It's kind of rustic and even slightly embarrassing, but I love it.

Also pictured above is my lavender plant, which is flourishing, and the hummingbird feeder which I put out about 4 days ago but haven't seen any hummingbirds yet. I'm going to keep changing out the water every few days anyway.

I hope you are having a nice Spring! It's been really overcast and rainy for what seems like weeks. Tomorrow is the first day in a long time they aren't forecasting rain.

I have a lot of reading to do and I'm not doing it, and I can't figure out why.