Archive for the 'flowers and gardens' Category

Not Ready for Reality

flowering succulents

Oh man, it’s January in New Jersey. We still have a pandemic. It is glorious sunshine out there but you can’t fool ME – I KNOW that we’ve reached our HIGH temperature for today. It may LOOK lovely out there but it’s 37 degrees but will FEEL like 30 degrees. Ugh. Too cold for a walk even if I could. And I can’t because I injured my back a week or so before Christmas. I have no idea how I did it, when I did it. I became aware of someone stabbing a knife into my side repeatedly. I looked to stop them but didn’t see anyone but myself. There was definitely someone sticking something incredibly sharp into my side. Turns out I seem to have an absolutely text-book case of costochondritis. If you follow that link, you will see that the authors had an interview with my then-future now-current self and got the description for the ailment. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you are not into links, the short story is that my rib and its associated cartilage had a parting of the ways (for no discernible reason), and I need to wait until they decide to get back together. My brother-in-law (retired doctor) diagnosed me and told me to take it easy and rest. No problem, I thought. It’s the time of year when not much is happening. I’m not doing much. So I kept on walking my mile on my treadmill each day and, yes, sad to admit how stupid I am, kept doing my little try-to-get-started arm exercises. Well. It turns out that walking and arm exercises move your rib cage. I kept that up for 5 days or so after my diagnosis until I nearly passed out from pain New Year’s Eve day when I went to make the sandwiches for the soup kitchen. At that point I decided that maybe walking was NOT such a brilliant idea. Hey – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

kitchen bay window full of happy succulents

I’m doing much better, I am happy to report. Last night I actually managed to sleep in my BED, instead of the reclining chair. There is only ONE position where there is no pain, which gets a bit much for all the other parts of my body, but I did make it through the night, thanks to the ever-present heating pad. The cats have been quite considerate and both they and my husband allowed me to sleep late – all the way to 9:30 this morning!! Even better – the coffee was still hot when I got downstairs. ๐Ÿ™‚ That is one of the most wonderful things about working from home – my husband brews the coffee every morning. Even when I get up early to do the sandwiches, when I come home he has made enough that there is hot coffee waiting for me. Ahhhhh.

WC on Red Couch – All is Right in the World

White cat is doing well also. As with so many things now, having an appointment with the vet is a production. Two pages of questions to answer about the pet, waiting in the parking lot in the car until you can bring your pet to the door. You hand over the animal and go back to your car. You will field calls from the doctor as your pet is examined. Finally you are allowed to pay (I forgot to ask if my husband had to give that over the phone or if they allowed him in to pay). I had a day full of meetings and I was still not lifting any weights (see above – care and treatment of costochondritis) so my husband took her in. Another mark on the plus column for working from home. Yes WC is old, arthritic, kidney issues, thyroid issues caused by the kidney medicine but for being 18+ years old, she’s in good shape. The doctor told my husband that WC was sitting in the doctor’s lap and that WC is a “beautiful cat”. Note to my sister: Maybe if YOU told WC she was beautiful she’d stop tormenting you. *grin* WC was probably frozen in fear. Unlike my dogs, who loved the vet, none of my cats have ever been able to relax and go with the flow. I’ll never forget the time one of my girls turned and sank her teeth into the vet. He had to pause the exam while he got stitches.

Soaking up the sunshine

I may be going stir-crazy by having to stay home and inside so much, but the succulents seem to be quite happy. I brought in as many as I could fit in the kitchen bay window. On gray days, which are VERY frequent in NJ in the winter, I turn on the grow light at the top of the window. On sunny days they get a few hours of direct sunshine. They are flowering and thriving. It does give me joy and satisfaction to see them all snuggled together, very green, very happy. Once a week I try to get them into the sink and give everyone a good soaking. Three of them are quite heavy so they don’t always get the sink-treatment. Even so, they look happy to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

October Garden

There is a rule that I have learned to follow: Never Blog When You Are Angry. I’ve actually passed through Frustration, Anger, Resignation and I think perhaps I’ve reached Indifference. All in only 3 days! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know I don’t quite have the right frame of mind to write about hiking in Sedona. My choices were food or flowers. I decided to share the last flower photos from October.

Some of the flowers simply knock my socks off with their beauty. That pink & white closeup is of one of the Cosmos. Then there is the splendor of a stand of goldenrod.

The bugs seem to agree with me that Butterfly Weed is wonderful, but they prefer eating it to viewing it. I’m told those bugs are something like “leaf stripper” or “spine stripper” or something. I couldn’t bring myself to do a bug search. I started but was creeped out totally by the pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a Fall Surprise! There was something growing in one of my big pots. It had wintered over. No sign of flowers but looking at the leaves, and the pot it was in, I was sure it was a flower. I waited all spring, then all summer, took off for Arizona – still no flower. At one point I’d even cut back some of the stalks since there were no flowers. I came back from vacation and there were FLOWERS! Purple with a yellow center. I think they must be some sort of mum. They are a welcome surprise and oh so pretty!

I hope you enjoy these pictures. Today is rainy and cold. Tomorrow is more rain all day and temperatures dropping into the 30s at night. That means if I’m going to bring in any plants, I need to do it now, in the rain. Sigh. Only the succulents. I’m giving up on all the others. And I’m NOT bringing in the succulent with those long, dark, HURTFUL spikes!!!

False Starwort

Yes, Ahuva, There ARE Hummingbirds

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile (18 months or so), you know that I had no recollection of ever seeing a humming bird until I took a trip to Phoenix in 2019. My husband and neighbors had assured me that there WERE hummingbirds in NJ, but I couldn’t even picture what they looked like, much less bring up memory of having seen one. Finally last fall I actually SAW a hummingbird among my canna lilies but failed to capture the moment in a photo. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

This year has been extremely disappointing as far as seeing butterflies. I have a garden full of pollinator- and butterfly- friendly plants, and I’ve had fewer than 10 sightings of butterflies. Lots and lots of bee-type insects, and moths, and some scary looking wasp-type things, but very few butterflies. I was thrilled to see a goldfinch feasting on my flowers a few weeks back.

Then a few weeks ago I saw a hummingbird! It was enjoying my firecracker plant (cuphea ignea). Note to self: plant more firecracker plants next year! I was sitting on the front steps and a movement caught my eye. It moved so quickly. Thank goodness my phone camera compensates for my shaky hands and for my inability to focus well. ๐Ÿ™‚ I snapped frame after frame. I got as close as I could, loving every moment of watching the bird. I know these photos are not great, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Wings faster than a camera lens

Quick Thinking

Rose mallow

Ah, my husband has gotten SO WISE in these last few decades. ๐Ÿ™‚ He has learned that it is NOT a “soft word turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) but a WITTY reply averts annoyance. Our stove – our beautiful, 2-yr old, 6 burner stove – is having a problem. One of the middle burners does not light. Not only is it not lighting but I noticed it was causing a different burner’s lighter to spark. Hmmmm. I cleaned all the burners, then turned them on one at a time to see if the difficult one would light properly. It did and was fine for a few days, but started sparking again today, instead of lighting. We stood in front of the stove discussing it and that probably a good cleaning would resolve the problem. Then my husband said “We have a warranty on this, we could have someone in to take a look at it”. Ahhhh, that famous “we”. “We” means *I* will end up calling, *I* will end up arranging my schedule, *I* will do what needs doing. I looked at him and said “We?” Pause. “We?” “Weeee?” He looked at me and grinned and said “We – Woman Extraordinaire”. Okay, he wins. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s really hard to argue with THAT response.

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

It’s getting exciting around my house these days. The mushrooms are very persistent. My neighbor is as determined to NOT have huge mushrooms in her yard. I went out the other day to assert my dominance over my yard. It was close but I believe I won. My neighbor was out, dealing with HER yard. All this rain. It’s a shame we can’t share it with California. Our grass is growing 5 inches a night, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ The rain encouraged the mushrooms to mount a foray. Overnight – 3 large mushrooms. I have my neighbor so well ‘trained’! I pointed out the mushrooms and she said she hadn’t pulled them yet because she wasn’t sure if I’d taken pictures!!!!! Love it! I ran and got my camera, took the picture and thanked her. I told her that her yard was getting lots of exposure on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way – the mushrooms are gone again. We are expecting rain the day after tomorrow. We shall see what happens. Ball is in their court! Stay tuned!

Progression

August 14
August 24
August 25
August 27
August 28
August 30
September 2
September 3, after the rain. The rose mallow has opened!

Find A Better Way

I get it – I have a garden too. I don’t want the hibiscus flowers bitten off my plants. I’m not fond of deer poop in my front yard.

Mama and babies

But let’s be real for a moment. Whose fault is it that the deer have no place to live anymore? Who has insisted on developing just about every little wooded nook and cranny? Our local roads are already over-crowded. We’re driving out ALL the wildlife.

We used to have raccoons, deer, possums, ground hogs, skunks and the occasional fox. Admittedly I’m not fond of some of those, but they are nature, and I DO love that even here in suburbia wild animals can survive. Then we began overdeveloping, using lawn services with their poisons, trapping animals because they are inconvenient for our gardens. Some of us admitted defeat and changed what we planted. Also an option, right? In any case, it’s been years since I last saw a fox or a skunk. I haven’t seen ground hogs in quite awhile either. The last possum I saw I think might have been injured. Deer, we have lots of deer. So I plant a lot of deer-resistant perennials and annuals, and make sure that my tasty treats are surrounded by such things as marigolds and peppermint. I use hot chili powder as my animal deterrent.

Took this through my front door – do you see Mama? Just right of the blur.

Now there are many people in the town who claim the deer are a nuisance. The deer are raiding our gardens and spreading disease. Oh, and we humans aren’t spreading disease like crazy (ahem – covid19? remember? and I’d be willing to bet that the people complaining about the deer could be the same population that refuse to wear masks). There was a town meeting. The decision? Shoot the deer.

Walking down the driveway on the neighbors’ property (lots of weeds there)

You have GOT to be out of your minds. This is the most left-leaning town in the state, I swear that must be true. Green green green. KILLING defenseless animals is your solution? Who ARE you??? How about some non-violent tactics? The deer are all over town because they are HUNGRY. FEED THEM!! Feed them with birth control in the food. I checked. That is a solution that does produce results. Or perhaps it is better to call it a solution that leads to NO results.

Saying hello when I pulled up in my car across the street.

There is a mother with 2 fawns. I know her well. They are hanging out when I pull up in my car. They nibble the bushes along my driveway. I see them cruising down the street when I am driving. Yesterday I was on my way home and I saw one of the fawns at the side of the road, hesitating. I waited. It crossed. I waited some more. Sure enough, Mama came across. I waited and there came Fawn 2, hustling to catch up. I LIKE seeing them. I get the downside of too many deer. But these days – omg – do we REALLY need MORE violence? Can we not just stop and enjoy for a few minutes, the beauty of nature and wildlife?

What is Mama hurting by eating some leaves?

Almost as Good as a Butterfly

I am still lacking many butterfly sightings. I saw the monarch butterfly one more time a week or two ago. Last night I saw the blue swallowtail as I watered the plants. Other than that, mostly moths. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ All my butterfly-friendly plants, and so few butterflies. Yesterday I was gazing out the front door and saw movement in the hyssop. It was a goldfinch. Can you see it there, all the way on the right? Not a butterfly, not a hummingbird, but still a joy to behold. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wrong Analogy

The mushrooms were NOT part of The Force. My mistake. We know that ultimately the good side of The Force triumphs over the Dark Side. Sometimes you can’t tell until the end of the story who is really a hero or not. Evidence: Darth Vader. My next-door neighbor and her weeder are the ones in Red 5 and the mushrooms were the Death Star. ๐Ÿ™‚ No more Death Stars.

Obi Wan KenMushroom

Or:

When You Run the Lawn Mower Over Mushrooms

โ€œIf you strike me down, I shall become more powerful plentiful than you can possiblyย imagine.โ€


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