Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Egg-sperience

I was watching a rerun of Castle last night and one of the detectives was trying to balance an egg on it's end.  Another detective asked why and the first detective said, "It's the Autumnal equinox and you're supposed to be able to stand an egg on it's end."  The second detective said, "Bro.  That's only a myth!" 

Boy, was he right.  It IS a myth. The equinox has no effect on an egg.

After all, I can balance eggs ANY TIME OF THE YEAR.

In the 80's I was writing a short story (SF) and the crux of the matter was that something only happened as long as an egg stood on its end.

Not knowing any better (that myth thing), I grabbed some eggs from the 'fridge so I could see how long an egg COULD stand up.  That way the story would have some truth.

Eggs balanced - 6/1986
Out of a dozen eggs, I think I stood up maybe 4 eggs.  I left them on the counter to see how long they would fall over.

Eggs balanced - yesterday
A week later I finally TOOK them down because they were in the way.

So, yesterday after Castle, I grabbed some eggs from the 'fridge and voila!

How egg-citing that eggs still have legs.  LOL

(P.S.  I never finished the story.  That the eggs stood so long totally messed up the plot. *heh*)

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**  Since 1986 I think I've figured out how eggs can stand up and why the pointy end is better for balancing, in case anyone wants to know...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Are you kidding me??

Woke up this morning, made a cup of tea and headed out to the sunroom.  It was just getting light.

I opened the French doors, stepping in and .... shivered.  Huh?

Looked outside and checked the thermometer.  Wha?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

Went back inside and re-acquainted myself with the comfy chair in the living room. 

To add insult to injury, while in the chair - the FURNACE CAME ON.  Seems over the past days not getting much out of the high 50s, low 60s the house had cooled down enough to kick on the heat this morning.

I'm SO not ready for this crap.  :-(

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bird watching

Some days are better than others.

As you may know, I leave a 'wild place' behind the pine trees near the golf course.

I only mow once or twice back there each summer.  The grass gets long and other things take hold.  I find lots of golf balls back there, especially since I added that additional length of snow fence.

There are lots of wild flowers and grasses.  Lots of fireflies and hoppers.  Oh my yes, lots of little green hoppers.

I watched a PBS program called "My Life as a Turkey" and remember it whenever I walk back there.  In the show the turkeys just loved to walk through grass and feast on hoppers.  I always think, as I straighten the fence, collect balls, pick up sticks, etc. that turkeys would like this place.

And guess what.

They do!  At least one did.

I was drinking morning tea around 8 a.m. and gazed out toward the pine trees.  Saw something.  Something ... different.  It didn't move and I didn't have a good view.

I stepped out onto the deck and lo and behold, a big wild gobbler out there just behind the pine trees in the deep grass.  And it was grazing on hoppers.  It slowly walked back and forth, catching bugs left and right.

I settled in watched him for a good 30 minutes.  It not only ate hoppers, but pulled seed heads off the spirea and some of the more mature grasses.

Where did he come from?  Who knows.  Did he walk in?  Fly?

Eventually a mower came in the golf course and the bird leisurely came out from behind the pines and entered the ring bed.  He walked along the far edge, pulling at dried milkweed, investigated the asters and then headed further up the hill.

There is a clump of long grass (probably perennial rye) right at the tip of the ring bed and he grazed on that for a good 10 minutes, stripping all the seeds.

Then he headed back south, exited the ring bed toward the house, and meandered along the side of the property.  At the front of the lawn he pecked at one of the burning bush a bit, then crossed the road, heading toward the very-well manicured neighboring lawns and the also well-mown monastery beyond.  Don't think he'll find much forage there, I'm thinking.

Well, watching that big bird was a very well-spent hour.  Luckily the zoom on the camera did a pretty good job of capturing some of the action.

He had breakfast.  I had breakfast. And now we're both off to the rest of our day.  Can't speak for him, but I'm having the chimney cleaned today.  Winter's not that far off.  Gotta get crackin' !

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A rolling stone....

.... gathers no goodies!

In my first Spring here (2003) I began pulling all the big paver blocks that surrounded the house.

The blocks had become a barrier that kept rainwater from flowing away from the house - and into the basement so they had to go.

But where?  I'd figure that out later.  For the meantime, I just stacked them along the edge of the driveway turnaround.


They are still there today!

It wasn't long before I decided I loved the wall effect, the separation of driveway and lawn. I extended the wall both ways with large pots and festooned the top of the wall with lots of annuals.

In 2008, I decided to add a border bed behind it and for the first year I grew castor bean plants. Over the years I tried different things behind the wall.  A couple of years it was all tomatoes.  For a long time now it's been a zinnia bed.

Meanwhile, the wall itself has matured.  When I initially stacked the blocks, some of them had bits of moss on them. 

Now, a decade later,  the moss is thriving, lending a sense of time and stability.  The wall gives the area a sense of permanence, even gravitas if you will.

And it's not just moss.  In the 2nd pic your can clearly see the blue/green glaze of lichen on the adjoining block face.

The concrete mushrooms and toad have sat in the same place from the get-go and now that weather has changed the pH of the concrete, lichen is spreading over the surface while moss is snuggling up at their base.

Who doesn't love a rock wall?

Just another case where nothing was planned, but the results are just great.

"Temporary" block starage - 2003
How about you?  Any accidental achievements you'd like to cop to?  :-D


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bonus blooms!

Having grown 2 cukes vines up the deck gave me a surprising bonus.

The consitent watering and scheduled fertilizer produced more than just long crispy cukes.

The zins, cardinal flower and hardy hibiscus obviously shared in all that care.

I've been here since 2002 and I've NEVER had such tall plants.

The zin is over 60" and growing.

The cardinal flowers are taller than that.

And the hibiscus?  There are stalks now at 105" (nearly 9' !!).

The display is marvelous, inside and out.

I certainly don't need blinds on that bay window this time of year.  Wow.

Hey, I've posted a roundup of this year's veg harvest on the Vegetable page.  Lot's of pics....


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sunroom window view

There is no doubt in my mind. Snapped from the sunroom window this morning.

*click* to enlarge and better focus

The Zahara zinnias are here to stay. Goodbye Cut-n-come-agains. At first the Zaharas were small and weenie and didn't seem to attract any pollinators.  But now that the native bee populations have increased, there are bees and butterflies applenty on these blooms.

Yep, these mounding beauties just get better every week. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue !

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breakfast at Epiphany's

You may want to grab a favorite beverage and settle in.  This may take some time.

This morning, while having breakfast on the deck, I had a couple of epiphanies.

First, a confession.  In my last post I might have come off like I know what I'm doing.  And sometimes I do.  But only about 15%.  The rest is mostly luck.  Oh I take full credit for bed layout and hardscape stuff like fences, hedges, trees, etc.  The stuff I referred to in the post:  Wax on, Wax off  - the table setting.

But the stuff that makes the gardens ultimately a feast for the eye (the dinner on the table, if you will) is usually unplanned, happenstance, not-what-I-meant-but-hey-I'll-take-the-credit, and luck.  And timing.  And more luck.

Like the crabapple bed:  Luck AND time.  It took the past polar winter to kill off much in that bed and 5 years for the trees to grow taller and dense.  I was ecstatic when, in May,  I  realized I could create the shade bed I originally planned!   Until then the bed was never 'right' and I had to make do.

Lots of things bit the dust over the polar winter: lavenders, agastache, the rest of the mums,  little 'fill in' stuff.  I had a lot of angst at first, then I realized what I also had a lot of new canvas to work with.

Fortunately, I didn't jump right in with a can of paint!  I resisted the urge to repopulate.  Instead I worked on hardscape to keep me from shooting myself in the foot. (See, I DO learn from my mistakes!)   I had the privacy fence extension to deal with.  The swing bed expansion project.  Family matters to contend with. Things that couldn't be done in one swell foop, but had to be worked on gradually.

In the meantime, I'd sit and think.  And this morning, between the 1st cup of tea and the 2nd, I had an epiphany.  You know it's a really good one when you freeze in mid-motion and catch your breath.  Yes.  I thought.  Oh my gosh, YES!  Why didn't I realize this before?

(Background.  In Wax on, Wax off I had decided to move all the plants out of the Arbor garden and turn the whole thing into a fenced-in vegetable bed.  That thought has steered me all summer.  I let the bed go.  I didn't care.  The crabapple trees blocked that garden view from the deck anyway so I didn't see the mess. I was going to dig it all up in Fall and go from there.  However, I did want to dig up and share the Dutch iris, the daffodils, the peonies with others before Fall.  Never did.  Wanted to.  Just didn't.)

And this morning my persistent non-involvement with that garden crystallized.  It wasn't one thing that held me back, it was my subconscious making a list that I couldn't see.  This list:

1.   I liked looking at the Arbor garden from the improved (and improving) swing garden.  With less deer damage this year, there actually were blooms to enjoy.  And the tall hibiscus blocked the neighbor's picture window. (I idly thought cuke vines would also do that.)

2.  Crabapples are prone to red cedar rust, causing them to loose leaves during the summer.  By early August the Arbor bed started showing through the crabapple trees and could be seen more and more from the deck.  And there were those blooms still going. (Looking way better than tired, end-of-season veg plants.  And there are maybe 2 more months to see the Arbor.)

The arbor bed seen through the thinning crabapple leaves this morning.
3.  I'd finally realized why I hadn't been digging stuff out of the Arbor bed over summer.  That bed is HOT.  No shade.  Blazing sun 10 hours a day.  A sunny flower bed with infrequent maintenance is one thing, but a vegetable bed needs attention every day!  I don't do sun well anymore.  I avoid that bed.  (And I wanted to fill it with vegetables???)

4.  I now have another 40' of privacy fence, a couple of panels which get lots of sunshine.  The current veg in front of the original fence did well, especially with the addition of a handy water barrel.  The fence is close to the house.  The Arbor bed is further away.  The walk to the fence is over even blacktop and a bit of lawn - easy access to electric and hose water.   The Arbor bed is downslope and uneven lawn.  Uneasy access.

Lots of plant potential along the fence!

Okay.  All this zipped through my head in a couple of seconds, but I felt like I'd relived most of the summer.  I was pooped. Ya get a bit disoriented after a brainstorm.  Wow.

And I know this is all true because it feels so right.  Turning the Arbor bed from a lovely flower bed to a work-a-day veg bed was just not right.  It seemed LOGICAL, sure.  It seemed the best way to thwart the deer.  I actually didn't see any other way to have flowers in front of the fence and veg protected from the deer. But logic turned out wrong. (It only involved the garden, not the gardener!  Spock would not do well in landscaping...)

But I CAN have the best of both worlds.  And it's SIMPLE.  Simple is always best.  I can have a French garden along the fence - flowers AND veg.  I can repopulate the Arbor garden with deer resistant stuff.  And next year, screw all that netting that drives me nuts.  I'm putting up electric tape around both beds.  And turned way up.  Ah, I love the smell of singed fur in the morning!  Woohaha.

Ooops, still running on adrenaline.  Best to sign off, calm down, and go wash the dishes.

And enjoy the window view with new perspective.  :-D