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Archive for March, 2007

There was a challenge on a couple of blogs to show pictures of our garden shoes.  I’d love to join in that fun, but I just don’t have time to make portraits of my shoes.   They are on the ends of my legs and quite busy. 

We did a lot of work today.  I was going to plant my carrot seeds, but in spite of the beautiful sunny day, the ground is saturated from all the rain we got yesterday.   My rain gauge showed about one index finger knuckle of precipitation fell in the last 24 hours.   Anyway, no sooner than I entered the vegetable garden than my eyes were drawn by the asparagus bed, which resulted in this,

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which we consumed for dinner this evening. 

In between those two events, we stacked the firewood lengths we cut yesterday in the wood shed, and then cleaned the area up.  We raked twigs and leaves and sawdust and goodness knows what all else up from under the elm and mock orange bushes where one of the bird feeding stations is.   While I did some weeding and thinning in the vegetable garden, as well as removing the row cover from my peas, Jim finished pruning the vineyard.  Between us we got all the canes picked up and piled on the burn pile.   We took a beer break, and then we ran through most of a tank of gas in the chain saw cutting a couple of piles of elm limbs into firewood lengths. 

Then it was almost time for dinner.  While Jim was cooking the country style ribs, I whiled away the time very pleasantly pulling henbit, bluets, some kind of mallow, wild oats and violets out of my day lily, rose and clematis bed.  I got out the camera and wandered around for a while.   The biggest news of the day is in the front flower bed sort of off to the left of the front door:

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The daffodil is named “Ice Follies.”  The yellow tulip is Tulipa sylvestris, the other I have no idea, although it came last fall when I ordered 15 different species of wild tulips.   Unfortunately, I did not put labels on them when I planted them out, I was way too busy to take such an elementary step.  The squirrels found some of them to be quite tasty morsels, so I have a lot less wild tulips out there than I was expecting.

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These frilly beauties are growing in the labyrinth.   One of my projects for the labyrinth is to completely outline the whole pattern in daffodils.   Whenever I thin the clumps of bulbs in the display garden, I make up bags for my friends and clients, and plant the remainder in the labyrinth.   So, the ancestor of these gals is in my front flower bed.   These young ladies are travelling incognito, because their mama arrived in a naturalizing mixture that came from Daffodil Farms (now a subsidiary of White Flower Farms in Connecticut).  Aren’t they something?

Then, we had some dinner.   It was really very good.   The ribs were perfect, and we were making a comparison of three different barbecue sauces.   Of course, the asparagus was wonderful (only if you like asparagus).  Along with that, we had baked potatoes.   Simple, filling, delicious.

After dinner, we went out and watched the flocks gather, talk about their days, and fly down to roost in the cedar wood.   Absolutely stunning.   They are no longer all flying in one group.   The grackles have segregated themselves from the redwinged blackbirds.  The noise of the thousands of birds all talking at once is indescribable.   In spite of the cacophony, the individual voice of an irate robin scolding the 50 grackles that had the temerity to land in HIS tree is distinguisable.   Once I focus on him, I also hear three or four cardinals,  calling to each other across the yard from one plum thicket to the other.   Suddenly a blue jay’s raucous call breaks through; then suddenly from high above all of them, the thin rusty cry of a red shouldered hawk pierces through, and all the birds fall silent for an instant.   After the awed acknowledgement of her presence, the noise begins anew.

Then the sun went down,

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and all became quiet.   Venus pierced through the high thin cloud cover, and soon the moon will sail up there to join her. 

In between all of that, we threw the dog toy about a billion times for Ruby, and when we were too busy to throw it for her, she would tear around the yard with it all by herself, shaking it, throwing it, rolling around with all four legs waving in the air, and generally wearing herself out.

I’m off to take a bath and soak.   I’m sore.  Maybe tomorrow I can get pictures of my shoes. 

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We spent the morning pruning the vineyard.   If it hadn’t been raining, we would also have sprayed it with Bordeaux mix, an antifungal spray made of copper sulfate, sulfur and lime.  It isn’t as effective as some other sprays, but it has the virtue of being acceptable in organic viticulture.  The vines are already beginning to break dormancy, so it is more than time to get them pruned.   Tomorrow night we will probably burn the prunings.   It is important to burn them rather than compost them.  It keeps you from  propagating fungus and pests. 

I also pruned my rose bushes today.   They have joined the throng and are breaking dormancy.   Everything around here seems to have been paying attention to the equinox, for the daffodils are in full bloom, the plums and apricots are blooming merrily, and the apple and pear trees are putting out buds.  I hope and pray that the weather gods do not feel compelled to send us a hard freeze now that all the fruit trees are firmly convinced that it is spring.  

We have managed to plant the trees we ordered to replace the two elms we had to remove from the front yard.   It made me very sad to have them cut down, I hate to remove mature trees.  Their roots were badly damaged by the city putting in streets two years ago, the drought conditions in the ensuing years made it so they have never really recovered from that.   The ice storm was one blow too many.  So, we ordered a sunburst locust, and a shademaster locust, and they both came last week and are safely in the ground.  Not a moment too soon, apparently, they are already sending out leaves.

I was just over at Charlotte’s blog being amused by her description of the spring festival traditionally held in her town.  I particularly liked the concept of arresting and burning the snowman.  I was interrupted by quite a ruckus going on in my front garden, so I went to check on what was going on.

Undeterred by the rain, a trio of male cardinals were having a vociferous discussion about who was going to be worthy of the favors of a lovely young lady cardinal, who was watching the proceedings coyly from my smoke bush.   I am sorry to inform you that the discussion deteriorated into fisticuffs.   Apparently that was not to the lady’s liking, for she flew away as soon as the combatants engaged in battle.  With no one to fight over, the boys went back to foraging busily in my rain-soaked garden.

The showers we have been enjoying all day broke off long enough for me to run out and take a few portraits of my narcissus collection.   There are others in bloom, but I figure that I don’t want to bore my readers wtih too many frilly flowers.  I will probably break that resolve as soon as the double daffodils start in, they are too special to ignore. 

The first picture is of my front garden with the walkway to my door.  I am particularly pleased with the way the grape hyacinths are making drifts of color to set off the narcissi.

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Following are a few of the ladies up close and personal.   I apologize for some of the dirty faces, it has been raining steadily all day and some of them have had their faces plastered in the dirt.  I had to shake the water off and prop them up to get their pictures at all.  If you put your cursor on the picture, the label will give you the species names.  The first one was a sport that showed up in a daffodil collection I bought years ago.   I have not seen it listed in any catalog.

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Last, but not least, I have been trying for several days to get a decent picture of the forsythia bush that is blooming its heart out in the White Dragon’s garden.  Finally, I think I have done it justice.

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And there you have it:  Just a little taste of spring in the Ozarks.

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Catalogs

“We gardeners have always had trouble heeding Henry Ward Beecher’s sound nineteenth century advice, that we not be “made wild by pompous catalogs from florists and seedsmen”

Michael Pollan wrote that in Second Nature, a gardener’s education, a collection of essays by him published in 1991.  If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it.   It is thoughtful, amusing, and informative.    Jim and I were so taken by the chapter wherein the above quote is found that the phrase “made wild by pompous catalogs” has become a regular member of our lexicon.

Since I do order seeds and plants from catalogs, and we do tend to buy things on line and from catalogs, this house receives a plethora of print material begging us to buy this or that product.  It is a rare day that the mail does not contain at least one catalog.   I recycle all the paper after I am finished with it.   I keep a file of current catalogs in case I need to get floating row cover, or beneficial nematodes, or some other product not available in our small, benighted community.

Yesterday I received a catalog from a company called Canadian Mountain Holidays.  Appropriately, it arrived in a plain brown envelope, because I found it to be almost pornographic in tone and content.   Forty pages of seductive pictures of a section of the Canadian Rockies that is pristine and unspoiled, made available for your hiking and viewing pleasure by means of helicopters.   This is called Heli-hiking, and they also offer Heli-skiing in the winter.  If you can’t find something you like to do offered by this company, they include a sheet of advertising for 16 other companies that are also offering luxurious guided “trekking” all over the world.

This particular company promises to entertain you in the Columbia Mountains, a section of peaks and ranges just to the west of the Canadian Rockies.   The pictures lay out beautiful views of mountains, flower strewn meadows, glaciers; two page spreads of luscious beauties, designed to entice you, to make you pant for the experience of putting you there, making you lust for the experience. 

The literature boasts that you will not bother any other hikers with the noise of your helicopter transport, because there aren’t any other people out there.   Why?  Because it is too remote, and too rugged.  “Only the most inspired and stubborn backpackers are able to bushwhack their way to the eloquently lonely heights that we attain with ease, thanks to our helicopters. . . . Very, very rarely we may see a hiker in the distance; almost always it’s just splendidly us.”   (Emphasis is theirs.)  So, very, very rarely they disturb the peace and tranquility that some stubborn and inspired backpacker has worked very hard to attain.   And that makes it okay, I guess.

The company swears that they are committed to being low impact.   They mention in their catalog that they keep track of where the wildlife is, and plan their flights so they won’t be disturbed.  They mention that they have garnered several awards for sustainable tourism.   And it is true that entering an area by helicopter is very low impact, it doesn’t even have to touch the ground to let passengers off or take them on.

Here’s the kicker.   The cheapest “experience” they offer is three nights accommodation in one of the luxury lodges they maintain, and 2 1/2 hiking days, cost a measly $2102 US dollars per person.  A family of four can have a really wonderful 3 day vacation for a mere eight grand.  If that same family wants four days out there, it’ll only be another four thousand dollars. 

Maybe I’m just jealous. 

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Catching up

The blackbirds are in town.   The flock is making its customary rest and feeding stop on its way north.

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Both of these picture were taken right in my back yard yesterday during a rather spectacular sunset.   The flock is mixed: brewer’s blackbirds, redwinged blackbirds, grackles, and brown headed cowbirds.  It consists of thousands of birds.  Every tree in the area is laden with birds just as the trees in the close-up picture is.  It is truly an amazing sight.

During the day they scatter all over the area to forage.   At sundown, they gather on the trees around this neighborhood.   A block and a half away is a small lake that has been here since before Lebanon was established.   It has a large area of cedars and brush where the flock sleeps at night.   It is amazing to watch them swirling around, a tornado of birds, all vociferously discussing the fact that it is bed time, exchanging the news of the day, discussing whether it is time to start heading farther north.   As dusk transitions to dark, the swirling cloud lowers over the cedar woods, settles in for the night.   I imagine that if you walked through the area at night, every tree there would be laden with birds.

When they leave, which will probably be in a few days, they will leave a few individuals behind to nest here.  I generally have two or three pairs of redwinged blackbirds, and two or three pairs of grackles nesting here and using my feeders during the summer.   I like having the grackles.   They are quite efficient bug-eaters, and form almost military phalanxes across the lawn as they march across in search of their dinner.   They are quite good at eating grasshoppers and june bugs, so I like them a lot.  It doesn’t hurt that they are quite handsome birds, with their iridescent blue heads and long graceful tails.

The flickers are back, looking for a place to rear their young.  This means I have started plinking at the starlings to keep them from pre-empting the cavity the flickers are interested in.   There is a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers also searching for a home site.  Night before last we heard a pair of great horned owls in the tree outside our bedroom talking quietly to each other.   I am hoping that they decide to utilize the loft of our barn as a home.   Them, or a pair of barn owls.   I’m not choosy.

My peas are almost an inch tall now.   Soon it will be time to remove the row cover and mulch them, and let them start climbing their fences.   The little lettuces I planted at the same time as the peas are starting their first set of true leaves, time to thin them.  I need to get my carrot bed ready, but I’ve been running around in my activist phase and not playing gardener.   Tomorrow.   Maybe.

Today we planted one of the replacement trees we bought for the front yard where we had two elms removed.   The other will go into the ground tomorrow.   Jim has worked hard today, digging a hole for the tree, moving dirt.   I cleaned up the extra rocks that came out of the hole, hauled dirt for the planting, then mulch after the tree was settled in.  It looks very small.

We had a fire all day yesterday.   Much of the brush that was too big to run through the compost grinder and too small to really use as firewood got burned.   It was still going this morning.  I was hoping it would still be hot enough to get rid of the prunings from my raspberry patch.  I went through it in a big hurry today, suddenly realizing that the canes were no longer dormant and had not been cut back yet.  But there has been a small rain, and the fire has died down too far.   Manana.

I had a lot of “catch-up” work to do in side, too.  The house needed vacuuming, the bathroom had to be made suitable for clients to use.   All my house plants were accusing me of being a bad mother and withholding water from them, so I had to remedy that situation.   Now I have three loads of laundry to do.   Somewhere in there I’d like to spend a little time reading.   But first I have a fiddle lesson to deliver.

There were five massages to do today, one of the people wanted to sauna afterwards, so we got that fired up.   I’ll be keeping it warm this evening so that Jim can use it when he gets home.  The detox will be good for him, plus it is extremely relaxing.   He has been doing amazingly well today, not antsy or irritable at all.   I know I am not supposed to praise him, but I am so proud of him.  I have never been a smoker but I have been around a lot of people who were and wanted to quit, so I am aware of how hard it is.   I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will take this time.

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Several hundred people gathered in Columbia, Missouri this afternoon to demonstrate in favor of peace.   The weather could not have been better:  it was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low fifties (Fahrenheit), a light breeze added a little zing to the atmosphere.

It was a heartwarming sight to see the diversity in the group of people who are willing to make themselves heard on this most important subject.  The formal groups who actually registered with MidMissouri Peaceworks, the organization who sponsored this event, included Catholics, Baptists, Unitarians, Veterans, Moslems, Teachers, and Pagans.  Additionally, there were many people present who were not affiliated with any particular group.  I saw people of every color, people of every age from babes in arms to very elderly, I saw handicapped folks in wheel chairs as well as kids on skateboards.  A few very well behaved dogs attended also.

MidMissouri Peaceworks has been sponsoring peace demonstrations and marches for several years now, and for the first time this year they got large enough that we were allowed to walk on the actual streets of Columbia rather than just on the sidewalk.  The march was provided with a police escort, who were there to make sure that nobody got run over and that traffic flowed smoothly around the marchers.   Some of my friends who have been present at every event mentioned that this was the first year that there was no opposition present.  As I walked, many cars passed us honking, waving, making peace signs and giving us the thumbs up.  Unlike our experience in Camdenton yesterday, I did not see a single person who disagreed with us during our march.

I marched with my beautiful drum, and drummed enough today that my first two fingers on my right hand are slightly bruised.  No big deal.   Compared to my left leg, that is small potatoes.   All my friends think I should take a picture of the half healed bruise and abrasion it carries, but I don’t think I need to post any more trauma pictures.  It is healing nicely, although still quite sore. 

Ultimately, I did finally figure out what message to put on my sweatshirt.  On the front it read ‘”Blessed are the Peacemakers. . .” Jesus’.  On the back, I painted ‘”. . .For they shall be called the children of God.”  Matt 5:9’.  I got a lot of positive response to that message.  The irony of me, a free-thinking born-again pagan, wearing a Bible verse was not lost on me or my friends.   But the message is appropriate, and I was thinking more of my audience than anything else.  

It came to me as I was on my way home from purchasing the garment I intended to transform into a wearable sign.   I was reflecting on my “Cady Cheese Company” sweatshirt.  That made me flash on the scene in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” where he is giving the sermon on the Mount and the people in the back of the crowd are confused, hearing that section as,  “Blessed are the cheesemakers.”  I thought to myself, “another cheesemaker for peace,” and then I realized that that verse was the perfect message.  Being a peacemaker is so important and good we even award a Nobel Prize for it. 

It was a long drive, but Nancy and I had a good time, it was really great to have all that time to talk with her uninterrupted.   Just a little side benefit of all this peace marching ahs been the chance to connect and socialize with my friends.

When I got home, Jim told me he had bad news for me.   He announced that he has decided to quit smoking.   This is only “bad news” in terms of the next few days when he is going through the worst of the nicotine withdrawal.  I have my orders.  I am to act like nothing is happening.  He doesn’t want advice, sympathy, praise, encouragement, or any of that.  Just my tolerance of his moodiness.  Wish me luck, I know it will be a difficult few days, mostly because I will want to offer sympathy, praise and advice.  I love him, and I am very proud of him wanting to do this thing for his health and future.  so I would hate to murder him while he was in that transition.

May the Force be with you all!   Pray for peace, speak out for peace.  Enough people have died, already.

  

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