Saturday, April 30, 2011

Flowers of the Day

Gina, Matt and Devin spent most of the day at the Amish School Benefit Auction.
G. came home with a haul of beautiful plants, purchased at very modest prices.
For example: the hanging baskets of tuberous begonias were $7.00 each!

Some of her purchases spread out in the shade: lupins,
rose-pink salvia, mallow, delphinium, vervain--and "parsley enough for an army!"

G. is very fond of Gerberas--I grant they are colorful and cheerful, but always think they look almost artificial.

G. is chaffing at the bit regarding the wait for closing on their house, very anxzious to be establishing a flower garden.
M. is concerned with turning up a space for veggies, as there is no existing kitchen garden there, although some sophisticated landscaping has been done.
Their dooryard will be shadier than ours, at least near the house.
The sellers have given permission for the garden to be started prior to closing.

In our dooryard the first of the peonies opened today.
J. staked and tied the top-heavy bushes earlier this week.
It does seem that wherever I have lived a deluge flattens the peonies just when they are at their peak.

There seems to be an absence of the ants which usually coax the peony buds.
Instead the peonies are populated with ladybugs.

A pink peony bud.
I wonder if this is the variety Sarah Bernhardt.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All Serene

I beleive the wind and rain abated soon after midnight.  I wasn't conscious of hearing either whenever I roused slightly during the night.  Morning dawned beautifully clear and sunny and I was up early.
It was cool, a good time to make a fire in the fireplace to take away the sense of chill and damp.
M. did some online research today re the frequency of tornados which have actually touched down in Adair County---only 15 recorded since 1933.
This should be reassuring news for daughter G.
We appreciate the inquiries for our safety.
M. and G. announced they had a very restful night in their make-shift beds in the basement family room--it is very quiet down there, and of course dark.
G. woke to see Teasel peering down at her from the staircase above.  [G. and Teasel are finding their way into a relationshp--wary on Teasel's part as she has not in the past liked G.]
J. is battling the head cold which I enjoyed last week, so he slept in this morning.
G. and I took the car and headed to the Catholic Charity shop which opens early and closes at noon.
We had a good rummage which produced among other things, 2 pair of dressy trousers for G.--tags still on, brands that are very pricey when purchased in a department store.
The County Library is along the street from the charity shop, so I took G. there to get a library card.
I'm less than impressed with the library selection of books, but they do have inter-library loan service.
Our next stop was at a local furniture store.  We looked at the pretties, but agreed that we are both happier with "found furniture" for the most part--treasures which can be refinished and repurposed.
Our last stop before getting the inevitable groceries at Wal Mart was at the
recently opened Good Will Store.
I found a dainty blouse made with all the tucks, tiny ruffles of lace and inserts such as I used to make for myself and for G. and her cousins back when the Gunne Sax label was all the rage.
We came home to find that J. and M. had given up on us and gone out for a buffet lunch.
The weather was so wonderful that we quickly ate leftover chicken/vegetable soup, stripped all the beds and pegged linens out to billow in the wind.

During this wet spring we're glad for J.'s garden plan of leaving strips of mown grass between the planting rows.  Although the soil is wet, we can scrape out a trench with the hoe and tuck in seeds.  I planted 1/2 # of green beans late this afternoon and J. put in a short row of sweet corn.
The cucumber and melon seeds are up, as well as the Swiss chard we planted last week.
Many of my tomato plants are out-growing the head room in the cold frame.  We're hoping that by late tomorrow it might be dry enough to set them out.  I have smaller seedlings waiting their turn for the cold frame.
J. took me round to see that he had staked up a Double Knock-Out rose which had been leaning and staked and tied up the two huge pink peonies.
I grieve when these lovely seasonal flowers get hit by rain at blossom time.

A peaceful bucolic scene--the view down Big Creek valley late this afternoon.

Rain-battered but still lovely--rosa rugosa Blanc Double de Coubert.

Rosa rugosa Hansa.

This clump of aquilegia is just coming into bloom.

We made a trip to South Fork on Tuesday, to introduce M. and G. to the cluster of Mennonite shops in the area.  I bought this dianthus at the greenhouse there--it is called Strawberry Parfait.
Speaking of strawberries: M. called us just before supper to look out the window at grandson D. who was carefully inspecting the progress of J.'s ripening berries!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stormy Green Twilight

It has rained intermittantly for the past 24 hours.
[As if we needed more rain!]
There have been frequent tornado watches this spring for several Kentucky  counties including the one where we live.   We've been told that it is rare for a tornado to touch down in this area, although "straight-line winds" can do damage.
Twilight tonight was painted in the strange eerie green hues that attend stormy weather.
I used several different camera settings for the following photos--none of them quite capture the reality of the rapidly shifting light and clouds.

The skyline looking south down Big Creek Valley.

The last rays of daylight struck up a shimmery haze.
Note the puddles in the grassy area of the back yard.

A wider "landscape" shot of the valley.

Rain-battered flowers hold their colors in the green dusk.

A final photo of the Big Creek Valley taken just as the rain broke again.
Daughter G. who is a decidedly dramatic personality, has been anxious about the possibility of a tornado
sweeping in and, as she puts it, "hurling a telephone pole through the front window of the motor home."
She, M. and their 2 dogs and 3 cats have been domiciled in the big motorhome which is parked just outside under the maple trees.
G. insists that the nightly wind and rain are buffeting the motorhome and keeping her awake with fears that she will be blown away to kingdom come~!
J. follows the progress of storms with an on-line doppler site, really monitors it during severe storms.
Rather than reassuring G. that all is likely to be safe, he has this evening been teasing her.
This has resulted in her moving the 3 cats into the spare bedroom to sleep with grandson D.
They have been keeping me company as I type.
G. has made herself a cozy space in the basement family room which she considers to be a safe refuge.
She has piled the daybed with a duvet, one of my woolen blankets, extra pillows.
She brought in her small radio and tuned it to a low-key all night station.
Her books are stacked invitingly by the rocking chair and the lamp is turned on.
Oh yes, since their mattresses and box springs have been stored in the family room she has laid down a mattress for M. and provided him with a quilt and two pillows.
J. is now teasing her that if the wind blows tonight we shall all move downstairs and sleep with her.
I daresay we could take down the kettle and make midnight tea!
I am not a person who enjoys storms.
In the year and a month that we have lived here there have been some torrential rains,
some wind, a very brief hail storm or two.
Each place we have lived--Vermont, Wyoming, and now Kentucky--has its own climate issues, spells of weather that call for a bit of planning ahead, dealing with whatever the elements bring us.
When we read of natural disasters in other places there is always the guilt-tinged relief that our own homes are spared. 
Tonight I can be thankful that the roof doesn't leak, the basement drain is unstopped
and we have room for everyone to sleep comfortably in this little house.

Thank You for Loving Cats!

I have told the cats that stories and photos of them seem to prompt interested and sympathetic comments from my readers.
They feel this is only to be expected;  what, after all, can be of greater universal interest than the doings of felines?
And, aren't they the most photogenic of creatures?
[Rhetorical queries, of course!]
I am warmed by your comments and find it interesting that so many of us take to our hearts the cats and dogs and horses belonging to our blogging friends--folks and their pets whom we will likely not meet in person.
The delight [and the heartache] of living with pets is surely a matter of wide-spread empathy.
Time at the PC is a bit limited just now, so I take this way of responding to the comments
on my recent posts.
The cats and I appreciate you all!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Garden Photos and an Essay for Easter and Springtime

Therese Bugnet open on this Easter Sunday morning.

The red stems are an added beauty of Therese Bugnet.

The spice pinks are perfuming the entire dooryard.
[Dooryard is apparently a term recognized only in New England, referring to the more civilized area around the house as opposed to the rougher pastures or fields. I wonder if the British use of "garden" to refer to the outside area around a house may be an equivalent.]

Is this 'squill?'  It grows here and there in the grass from tiny bulbs.
I moved some last spring into the edge of the flower strip.
This group flowered since D. mowed the grass last Sunday.

The mauve clematis has bloomed.

Pinks and blue salvia.

A large bee enjoying the salvia.

An afternoon rain [again!] pummeled the roses.

Rain-sparkled rose.

A mayfly poised on a peony bud.

A lovely butterscotch iris unfolds.

Pink pleated leaves on the old grapevine.

The herb garden which Delila helped me to create.

Wire surround to protect the bluebird house from the curiosity of Willis.

The rather nostalgic essay which I wrote today to share with friends and family as an Easter greeting can be found here at CM.
It contains thoughts from a Christian perspective mixed with memories of springtime rituals.

The Continuing Story of Willis the Cat

It wasn't enough that J. tends to spoil Willis.
Daughter and son-in-law have now taken up for him in a big way.
G. finds him and carries him out to the motorhome on rainy days so that he can keep her company while she curls up to read.
Willis seems to have been born with a 'front and center' personality.
His morning escapades found favor with the editor of our local on-line magazine
You can read the whole story, complete with two more photos and Ed's funny comments here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

About Cats Who Do Messy Things In Inappropriate Places [A Rant]

This is Raisin, our nearly 13 year old beloved cat.
Raisin was the smallest of a large litter of kittens born in our niece's tack barn, offspring of a stray purebred Siamese and an itinerant tom-cat.
Raisin has always been beset by what our vet called a "delicate digestive system."
To put it more plainly, it is a rare day when she doesn't barf at least once.
Raisin has tiny little cat bones and is waif-ish in spite of having been presented with every possible variety of cat food, including pricey gourmet kibbles and dainty tidbits in small tins.
She prefers morsels of steak [with sauce] begged from J.'s plate or a spoonful of ground beef which he has warmed in the microwave.  When offered the tinned treat dished out to the other cats, she is inclined to rear back from her saucer in horror at the mediocrity of the entree.  On occasion she will condescend to lap at a dollop of strained chicken meant for human babies.

In defense of Raisin it needs to be noted that she usually announces an incipient bout of vomiting with a loud and mournful "Wah, wah, wah---merow, ow, ERP."
If we are in attendence the mess can be deflected from a rug, the edge of a cushion or chair. When taken by this affliction in the small hours of the night she is usually considerate enough to leap down from the bed.
This saves the quilt, but presents a hazard when one unwittingly walks across the bedroom in the dark.

Lately our daughter and son-in-law's two small dogs are often in the house.
The cats have on the whole accepted this--not with pleasure, but with huffy resignation.
Raisin has been spending hours in the middle of our big bed rather than napping in her favorite livingroom rocker.
This forenoon, daughter G. headed into our bedroom to view herself in the big mirror.
"Eeeeuuuugh!" she yelped. "Mom, there's a pile of cat puke on your bed!"
The bed was, of course, empty of felines. Raisin, who had been there moments before was sitting in the hallway.  Sitting there gulping.

I have a streaming head cold and have felt rather sorry for myself since last evening.
The prospect of stripping the bed set me on a rant.
J. summoned by my stuffy wails, declared that ,"Nobody SAW Raisin do it, so she probably didn't do it!"
[Is it obvious where his sympathies lie?]
G. and I snatched off the quilt, the light-weight blanket, the top sheet. The offending stuff had soaked through to the bottom sheet and all the bedding needed to be laundered.
I plodded downstairs to the laundry with the hastily wiped up quilt, G. followed with the bundled sheets.
Later I pegged the clean quilt on the line to whip in the breeze, staunching my drippy nose with one of J.'s handkerchiefs as I bent over the laundry basket.
G. pegged out sheets and pillowcases, helped me spread clean linens over the immense bed.
Raisin has now taken up her spot on the fresh bedspread--flanked by Charlie and his daughter Jemima--all on my side of the bed.
It is a good thing that we adore our cats.
[Wah, wah, snuffle, sneeze!]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Walk Around the Dooryard

A green-white clematis unfolds.

The strawberry patch in bloom.  Wet weather has prevented me finishing the weeding.

How many days until we pick luscious strawberries?

Pink-tinged leaves unfold on the ancient grapevine.

Iris buds are plump and swelling. One stalk by the clothesline is showing blue-black bud tips, but there is just enough breeze that my photos blurred.

The dogwoods are past their prime, but still have an airy prettiness.

J. and M. have both purchased and set out brag size hothouse tomato plants being sold at the Yoder's store.
Meanwhile my raised from seed tomatoes have all been potted on and most are enjoying the sheltered warmth of the cold frame.

Yarrow buds are still fuzzy white.

Blue salvia.

A full-blown clematis.
I love the pinks with their blue-green spikey foliage and the masses of fragrant flowers.
These are not quite true to color in the photo--their real colors are deeper.

Aquilegia opening in the shady strip on the east side of the garage.

The early pink peony.

This aquilegia has daintier flowers.
I had a lovely blue one planted in my struggling Wyoming flower strip--planted in memory of
my blue-eyed Oscar cat.

The papaever somniferum have come up in clumps in spite of my efforts to sprinkle the seeds about in bare places in the second border.
I can't decide whether to risk moving some of them [I seem to recall that they resent being repositioned]
or let them crowd their way to flowering and [hopefully] setting seed.

The new herb garden at the edge of the carport.
Delila Yoder helped me to do the final deep digging and install the weed barrier fabric.
We moved plants from other spots in the gardens. 
I hope to buy several more varieties of thyme and a lavender or two.
Delila contributed anise hyssop which she says will be loved by butterflies.
The weather has veered between several warm muggy days, a sharp thunderstorm last evening and a broody morning which turned to a cool and sunny afternoon.
Although it is frustrating having the ground too damp to work, everything is bursting with growth, including the weeds.
J. gave up on the trench he was preparing in the lower garden for the asparagus roots.
He opened a strip just beyond the track that leads to the barn.
We all pitched in to plant the crowns late on Monday.
Yukon Gold potatoes went in yesterday, as did short rows of beets, carrots,
Swiss chard and several hills of cucumbers.

Willis was too involved in his nap to follow me around the dooryard. He has appropriated this tapestry covered stool which ended up on the front porch.

Therese Bugnet is covered in buds.  I hope I can locate my collection of vintage
china jugs to hold a few fragrant blooms.