Animal Hospital

I have NEVER wanted to be a veterinarian. NEVER. I don’t really have a problem with elderly sick human beings, but sick animals sends my stress-o-meter to outer space (because “sky-high” was insufficiently indicative). And yet, here I am.

see how the left wing is not fully unfurled? he’s on the bromeliad

The butterfly cannot fly. My son and I learned on one of my Arizona excursions, when we went to Butterfly Wonderland, that emerging from a cocoon is a precarious experience for butterflies. Although it’s “natural”, it’s not necessarily without complications and problems. My butterfly appears to have had a bit of an issue with his emergence. And I am pretty sure that he is a “he” given the source material on the internet. 🙂 And my sister (the true source). His left wing is damaged and he cannot fly. I figured this out yesterday because I kept finding him lower and lower within the kitchen, even when I’d moved him back up higher.

the lovely aluminum foil blockade – where is that butterfly????

When he landed in the kitchen sink, my husband wanted to “put him out of his misery”. I’m not sure butterflies have misery or existential despair. I rejected the proposal and told my husband to get the butterfly up onto one of the succulents in the bay window. Note that *I* wasn’t going to touch it. Eeew. It’s still all and all a bug. So the butterfly was deposited on the one non-succulent – a bromeliad that flowered beautifully last year but has done zilch since then. However that bay window overlooks both the sink and the dish drainer and I did NOT want to deal with another incidence of sink butterfly. I got out my aluminum foil and lined the edge of the window, making a barrier/landing zone for when (note: when, not if) the butterfly falls out of a plant again. He appears able to walk, and walk UP things, but the flying is not going to happen. Please – someone – how long do butterflies live??? I’m really NOT loving the aluminum foil. I’m really REALLY not loving the anxiety and stress of trying to find him when he is not visible. I went to take a picture of the lovely aluminum foil arrangement and I CAN’T FIND HIM.

i’m sleeping. i’m very comfortable.

And there is WC. Sigh. WC is old and sick. But NOT miserable enough for us to assist her on her way to her next incarnation. We are miserable enough that I personally am ready to leave her and my husband and see what my next life will be, but BC has nixed that. WC is very arthritic. Deaf. Weak. Wobbly. Starving to death (literally – her thyroid is burning food as fast, if not faster, than she ingests it. Yet she’s also extremely picky about the food as in – “yeah, I ate that flavor 30 minutes ago, what else do you have?” I’m grateful that she is still heading for the litter box, and remembering basic training, but her success rate is diminishing. We blame all the digestive upheavals on her, not BC, but I concede that might be unfair.

what? you DON’T sleep at an angle?

Every few days my husband and I say “I think she’s REALLY failing now.” We exchange sad glances, agree to wait 24 hours, and go on our way. The next day WC not only gets up on the couch, she gets up onto the BACK of the couch. She plays with the red laser dot. She yells at my husband to go sit on the couch and watch tv so she can snuggle up next to him. She is NOT ready to transition. I can’t transition her if she is still going about her daily routines, checking out events (when there is sufficient vibration or visual clue for her to know something is happening). Every day I run an analysis: am I being more cruel or more accepting? When is it abuse as opposed to loving and accepting a family member’s issues?

She might be “just a cat” to some people, but she’s our WC and we love her. That means I have to support her decision to not go gently into the night.

I still have a sweet little kitten face when I want.

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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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

You Were Warned

Subtitled: You Had LOTS of Time to Prepare

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Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.

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One of my “rescued” canna lilies. LOOK at how gorgeous it is! and the orange spots on the yellow leaves!!!! Moral: ALWAYS rescue canna lilies

I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.

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SOME of us prepared. Tucked everything against walls, into corners, heavy side down

Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.

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Removed all the hanging sculptures, did tuck down those brooms after seeing this photo. tucked away potential flying missiles. PREPARED

My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.

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There is a butterfly in there!!!!

How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.

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Vindicated and satisfied! This monarch butterfly spent several minutes flitting from one butterfly weed flower to the next. There was a carpenter bee there as well.

I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! 🙂

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I love the clarity of this photo. 🙂

 

Caught in the Act

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Painted Lady butterfly

The black swallowtail butterfly has been much more cooperative than the orange and black butterfly. The other day I managed to catch a few photos of her, although she moves so fast! She is much more aware of my presence than the black swallowtail, which allowed me to get close enough to take several decent pictures. This butterfly moved every time I moved. All the photos are just that bit out of focus, but I think she’s a Painted Lady. Now that I’ve gotten this close, I’m wondering if it is this butterfly I’ve been seeing or if I really was seeing Monarchs earlier in the season. Maybe I’ll have another lucky day and will be able to catch her, or other butterflies in the act! I’m happy to see that they are enjoying the zinnias as much as I am!

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Wings folded

I love the tropicana canna lilies. They are simply stupendous. I was listening to a garden show this morning that was explaining how I should dead-head the flowers, but it sounds a bit tricky. Apparently the new flower is growing right next to the old flower and if you cut in the wrong place you lose the new one. Sounds too risky for me to try. She was also giving instructions on how to dig them up to over-winter them. Sigh. I suppose I SHOULD try to do that – the plants are so expensive, and I do want them every year. But by the time it’s digging-up time, I’m really “over” my garden. 🙂
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I have also figured out that what I thought was the false starwort is actually the butterfly weed. And what I thought was the butterfly weed is probably some huge weed weed(you can see it behind the cosmos and zinnias and to the left of the canna lilies – it’s green 🙂 ). I guess the false starwort died. I started reading to see what I’m supposed to do with the huge butterfly weed seed pod. Apparently I should harvest it, which seems to be easy but messy. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so confused is that I tend to buy very tall plants – ones that grow to be 3 feet or taller. Butterfly weed does NOT grow that tall. It’s possible that at the point when I planted everything I knew that and knew what I was doing. 🙂 I must have ordered them because I wanted to support the butterflies. 🙂 That’s actually ironic, because I NEVER see butterflies over in that part of the garden. I guess they don’t like marigolds.
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I KNOW that I bought, planted and HAVE the Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop). I’ve posted pictures of that here. I also know that I planted things where those 2 huge weeds are growing. I’m waiting to see if they flower – it looks as if they might. But they are NOT false starwort by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s the bottom line – they will flower and I’ll decide whether or not they stay, or I’m going to pull them out.

Mandevillas Climbing High

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The mandevillas are LOVING this summer. Either it’s the weather or I bought superior plants this year. They have both reached the top of the 8 foot poles and are still growing. Not only are the vines and leaves growing, but both plants have been putting out an abundance of flowers. I love it! I think maybe next year I will find more room and plant more of them – maybe build a wall of mandevillas somewhere.

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The little canna lilies I planted way back in April in the pots have been very disappointing. I am FINALLY seeing one of them put up a flower shoot, but the others have only leaves, no flowers. The hibiscus has also disappointed. 😦 I’ve been putting hibiscus into the front pots for several years now, and I’d say this is the worst crop ever. I can’t even blame the deer this time – I’m not seeing any evidence that they’ve been chomping. I guess they are disappointed, too.

This green plant highlighted against the brown canna leaves is (supposedly) butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It’s very tall, but I don’t see a single hint of a flower anywhere. I’m pretty sure it IS what I planted, since I have 2 of them, exactly where I think I planted the butterfly weed. IMG_1501I can’t imagine this plant being at all appealing to a butterfly. I’d almost think that what I thought was the Bolton’s Aster False Starwort was the butterfly weed except that does look like pictures of the aster. If the weather ever cools down sufficiently for me to get out there and weed, maybe I’ll be able to figure out what that plant is. For now I’m calling it butterfly weed. So there.

I do love canna lilies, mandevilla, hibiscus, and gladiolas. They are so bright and cheerful. I’m disappointed in the colors I picked for the dahlias this year. They seem to be very dark, and they are getting lost against the bushes. Most of them have not yet flowered so perhaps I planted some light ones as well. *smile* I really don’t remember what I planted. I just go crazy buying plants and shoving them in the ground and hope that it will look good later when they bloom.
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Seeing is Believing

front gardenwith curly grass
Yesterday I walked about in my bare feet, toes digging into the still-wet earth. The last week has been wonderful for my psyche – the plants are coming back!!!! I walk out each day and simply STARE at the green leaves and the yellow and purple crocuses. I have things coming up where I know I planted something new last year. what is this?Unfortunately, the little sign is gone so I’m not sure WHAT it might be. I have other long-loved perennials pushing through as well. I know what they are by where they are, because I don’t always recognize the new growth. Last year I planted the curly grass (you can see it in the top picture) and it made it through the winter. I’m a little sorry I put it where I did, because there is typically a large planter in front of that spot so most people won’t see it unless they are looking at it directly.

lemon thyme wintered overIt’s also exciting to see how many of my herbs wintered over. In one of the pots I have either lemon balm coming back, or sorrel. Or maybe it’s a weed. *grin* I’m waiting to see. It also appears that both the bay and the rosemary might have made it through the winter as well. I usually lose both of those and have to buy new ones, but they are both still fragrant and supple, even if I’m not seeing new green yet. I can always hope. 🙂 The photos show the lemon thyme, sage and chives that most definitely wintered over.

The crocuses pushed through and the daffodils are all showing buds. I had more poppies but I do not have much luck with them. I’ve planted them several times yet they don’t seem to thrive. There’s only one showing at the moment. I noticed the Monkshood is coming up along the driveway. I try not to plant poisonous plants, but I ordered these last year anyway.yellow crocuses It was such a mild winter that I’m wondering if my canna lilies might come back. They never have in the past, so I’m not really expecting them this year either, but there does seem to be something happening in that general region.

Two weeks ago I needed more reassurance that spring would really get here. As I mentioned in the last post, I’d bought some bulbs and tubers. I also placed an order with my favorite online nursery, Heritage Flower Farm. I’ve mentioned before that I ADORE Rudbeckia laciniata var. hortensia, or as they are in the vernacular, the outhouse plant. *grin* Insult them if you wish, but they are gorgeous and a group of them tall and proud in the summer sunshine is a sight to behold.

sage wintered overWhen I’m ordering plants I try now to stick to perennials. I’m trying to save both dollars and my energy. If it’s going in the ground, I want a perennial. I’ll put the annuals in the big pots. I always want to find flowers for the pollinators – trying to grow native plants. I have very little area that is full sun, so I need plants that will also tolerate shade. And I like tall, bushy, wild-looking plants. Some people do color-themes, but I like a riot of color. Every time I say to myself that yellow is my favorite flower color, I realize that I love orange too, and there’s a lot to be said for red, and you need white to bring out the contrast, and purple picks up the colors in my awnings, and blue is spectacular. You can see why I have LOTS of colors. They are all the best. 🙂

here come the poppiesThe rest of my current order from Heritage includes Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop, Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed, and Boltonia asteroides False starwort, Bolton’s aster. The Butterfly weed is to encourage the monarch butterflies that still exist in our area, and it grows 2-3 feet tall. The hyssop blooms later in summer and is blue, when a lot of my late summer is orange and yellow. It grows 3-5 feet and does not require full sun AND the deer don’t like it. Given how often I’ve come home and found a handful of deer grazing on my neighbor’s lawn, I try to find things they DON’T like Chives wintered over(and hide the things they do like behind those). The Bolton’s Aster is new for me. I was intrigued by the description and height (6′): “cloud of profuse, spectacular small white daisies cover this 6 foot tall Midwestern native. Exceptional because it flowers in fall”. I’m not sure yet where to plant this. I think I may need to dig up some more of my lawn. 🙂

Soon. Soon. Soon. Digging in the dirt, removing the debris and weeds, preparing the beds. Soon.