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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spring Hinting at Summer

It has felt wonderful to be working in the garden this week. I work a while until I lose my breath and leg strength, then I sit at the patio table with my feet up on the stool and drink water for a while, while enjoying the view of what I've accomplished. The problem is there is so much more that needs to be done.

Here is how the back dooryard Lavender Garden and Patio, that I built last Spring, look a year later. I love the California Poppies that reseeded themselves all over the area, but I wish that the German Chamomile that I seeded last spring, and this, would come up and bloom with the poppies. I look forward to the Lavender blooms later in the year.

I planted a couple of catnip plants between the house and patio and have to cover them with an old metal refrigerator basket, that Joe dug out his his stash, so that the cats can't roll on the plants or eat them down to the roots. I have a big plant of cat mint in the same bed along with some Mexican Tarragon, but the cats aren't as compulsive about the catmint. I wish I could grow real French Tarragon, but it doesn't winter over, so I just have to use it like an annual, and bring it into the sunporch in a pot in the winter.

I've gotten various kinds of tomatoes, peppers, tomatillas, marigolds, and zinnias transplanted into the veggie garden, and the spinach and mesclun lettuces are seeded. It is so late this year because we kept having frost even after we were having temps in the 80s during the day. We even made it up to 95 this week, (it is not normal for us to have such hot weather this early in the spring, and I'd just as soon it stayed in the 60s and 70s, but I don't get a vote in the matter) and it doesn't seem like we should have any more night frosts. The other unusual weather issue this spring is the nearly constant high winds (we're all sick of wind, but you do what you gotta). Don't you love the circular designs of the tomato cages against the squares of the raised gardens?!

The kittens are running all over the yard, now and even learning how to climb the, so far, leafless Catalpa tree by the veggie garden and Lilliputian Prairie.

I finished cleaning out my miniature Prairie Pond yesterday and have the fountain running, but have lost the fountain head that makes a pretty bell shape of the water, so need to find another to take it's place, and get some pond plants to help keep the water fresh. I will not try any more goldfish, since Slytherin Garter Snake ate them the year before last. He (they) can find his (their) own fish in the irrigation canal out back. I refuse to run a snake sushi bar.

After taking and processing these photos on the computer, I went out to change the water (please note the green hoses so prominent in all my garden photos; without irrigation this area is the Great American Desert in shades of tan and tawney. A lot of my gardening time is taken up in moving the sprinklers from place to place each day. Luckily, even though it is so dry down here, we are beginning to get the runoff from the large snowpack in the high mountains, so have plenty of water to irrigate.) To get back to my original thought, a small dust devil (whirlwind) had blown through the patio and knocked over the umbrella table, breaking a couple of favorite collectibles, an old crock that GranPoppa used to feed his market rabbits in the 50s and a very unusual heavy clear pressed glass pitcher, that was probably a give away with juice or something like it many decades ago.

I cleaned up the mess and can't gripe, because it is so small compared to what our near and far neighbors have been going through with bad winds recently. Last Thursday a unusual large tornado blew through several small towns in Northeast Colorado and damaged over 500 houses, plus destrying 100, with one life lost. Then in the past couple of days a young couple from Rocky Ford (where I was born) were killed in Kansas when their car was blown from the highway into a wheat field but one of a rash of tornadoes in that state. The our neighbors in Asia have gone through such a catastrophe that it is almost impossible to conceive of such damage and loss of life.

The very nature that gives us so much joy can also be the cause of terrible pain and suffering. I choose to continue to appreciate the peace and satisfaction that working in the garden provides to me. Praise the LORD who giveth and taketh away!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Empty Motor Home Syndrome

Haven't felt moved to post this month. As time seems to move faster, I find that I move slower, and I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, physically and emotionally. The symptoms that led to hospitalisation last summer with suspected heart failure, which turned out not to be heart failure, have started again, and I can't seem to find the energy to do the things I want to do (quilting, gardening, etc.), let alone those I don't want to (house cleaning). The doctors and I are working on plans to improve my health again (stopping the Lipitor removed the symptoms for several months, but now the Crestor, that took it's place, seems to be doing the same thing again). My Googling has shown me that some people just can't tolerate the Statins and that seems to run in my genes, since a cousin has the same problem. So what do we do about high cholesterol?

Which brings me to the subject I chose to write on tonight. A few months ago a cute, small, calico cat started coming to my back door for food. Soon she looked like she had swallowed a basketball. One day the basketball was gone and we assumed that she had had several kittens, probably under the house through the hole that had been dug by our visiting skunks or raccoons. One night a horrendous smell (like burning rubber) drove us out of the house, and after checking everything out, the police and volunteer firemen determined that nothing was burning; a skunk had evidently met Mamma Callie and her kittens under the house and when she attacked the skunk all stink let loose. We are still fighting the smell in our house, there simply is no product out there that will remove that particular scent, you just try to air it out, spray a lot of Febreeze to cover it, and let time take it's course.

The next morning I saw Mamma Callie walking through the back yard with something in her mouth, a kitten; she was moving them from the skunk and odor into the old motor home stored at the back of our lot, which we had hoped to fix up and use when we got around to it. (Joe has promised me that some day he will give me a Round To-it). I kept checking the inside of the motor home for evidence of kittens but saw and heard nothing. Finally, several days later when I checked again, I discovered Callie feeding 6, yes, six, kittens; a yellow striped, a silver gray. a solid black, a calico, and 2 black ones with white feet and tummies. They were quite shy and ran away and hid whenever I tried to visit them.

I kept waiting for Momma Callie to bring them with her to the cat bowl, and when she didn't, and I figured they were old enough to begin eating cat food, I took some dry kitten food with kitty tuna spread over the top to the home and left it in the middle of the floor while I sat on the back couch and watched. Callie started eating and calling the kittens who came out one at a time and started eating as if they had been eating cat food forever. Since my Aunt Emmy wanted 2 of them and the others will have to go to the Humane Society to be adopted out, I started spending time with them and playing with kitty toys with them each day after I fed them to socialize them. They still ran if I tried to pick them up, but if I kept still they would come around sniffing at my shoes and ankles. I was finally able to pet them while they ate and was even able to pick some of them up and pet them.

This week the kittens were 8 weeks old, and started coming out of the motor home to play around the garage/shop, lavender garden and back door patio, and even eat a bit at the back door cat dish. We decided they were ready to be adopted out so my cousin Verna brought Aunt Emmy down from Colorado Springs to pick up her two; she had chosen the yellow one and the gray one. In that way that cats have, they knew something was going on and I had to wait a long time for 3 of them to come out and start eating. Luckily, the yellow and gray ones were there as well as the little miniature calico cat, but they were wary and kept running to hide when I tried to pick them up. Finally, with Joe's help, I was able to get the little yellow one picked up, it was terrified, but when I took it to Aunt Emmy, who was sitting in the shade of the carport on her walker with a seat, she put it under her over shirt and petted it and it calmed down and went to sleep. The little gray one hid so well we could not find him, so yellow had to go home in the carrier by herself, until we can catch the gray one to join her in their happy new home.

So, this soft hearted cat lover, is beginning to feel Empty Motor Home Syndrome. The yellow was one of my favorites and there is a large void where she used to be. Momma Callie spent quite a bit of time calling around the carport (where she last saw little yellow) this afternoon and evening, so I'm sure she can tell that one is missing, also.

Verna and I figured that the other little kittens were huddled somewhere, quietly talking to each other about the horrible trolls that carried away their brother and were probably eating him.

I would love to adopt Mamma Callie, but from day one she has made it clear that she hates my cats, she attacks them any time she has a chance, and even tries to attack them through the glass or the screen of the doors. She is sweet and friendly, and would love to live in the house, but my cats are so terrified of her they are afraid to stick their noses out the door anymore, and any time she can she runs into the house to find them, so she needs to be adopted by a household that has no other cats; she also needs to be spayed, as much as I love kittens, I hate to see so many unwanted and abandoned cats roaming around creating more cats.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spring is Springing!

This is the view of Florence from the bridge over the Arkansas River entering town from the north. The haze in front of the Wet Mountains is dust, I'm sorry to report, stirred up by the almost continuous high winds that have us concerned due to the low humidity and fire danger. (To see this photo better you really need to click on it to enlarge.)

The trees with more new leaves are the introduced species from back east, to make the prairie more homey when the pioneers began settling here. The tall, less green, trees are the native cottonwoods along the river (they know that we can still have freezes and snow this time of Spring, and wait to put out their leaves. The green haze on them are quite large, sticky buds). Our only native forests on the prairies were the Riparian forests along the rivers and streams. The foothills here tend to be covered with sparse forests off small Juniper, Pinyon (Pinon is the Spanish spelling with a tilde ~ over the "n")
Pine, and scrub Oak trees. As a native of the prairie I am passionately in love with the great old wide leaf Cottonwoods. Our native forests are up in the mountains and consist of mostly evergreen trees, pine, fir, spruce, with swaths of Aspens (more Poplars related to the Cottonwoods) at the lower levels.

The local apple orchards are starting to bloom just in time for the Canon City (the "n" in Canon also has a tilde ~ to make it sound like canyon rather than canon as in the Civil War) Blossom Festival this weekend. The carnival is already running, the rodeo starts Friday evening, and the parade is at noon on Saturday. My Mom is going to ride on the Friendship House float in the parade wearing a sun hat.

Blossom Festival begain once upon a long time ago when the main industry in the area was fruit orchards. Now that fruit is shipped from California, Arizona, Florida, Chile, and even Australia we have only a few remaining orchards but we still celebrate our heritage. One of the important activities of the Festival is a high school band competition with bands from as far as Texas, but mostly from Colorado. This photo is of my favorite old gnarled Apple trees in the orchard 3 blocks north of Toad Haven.

Here is the first Toad Haven California Poppy to bloom this year, from a volunteer plant seeded from my new back door patio garden last summer.

I really like this Daffodil from a pot I picked up at WalMart a few weeks ago; It is such an attractive flower with the orange trumpet that I will find a spot for the bulbs in the garden so I can enjoy them each Spring.

This old fashioned purple iris is from the clump that were here when we moved in. They were not happy then because they had been neglected without being watered and the ground around them had been trampled into the consistency of concrete. I dug many out and moved them to other areas when we built the new sun porch and carport, and this few next to the yard light post, surrounded by paved patio and path are now quite happy and blooming.

Since most of the garden is still pretty drab with just short perennial shoots through the soil, these little flowers sure brighten up my days.