All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weebles Wobble And, Yes, They Do Fall Down

I did it! I finished Bed No. 1 – well, it is as finished as I can do right now. Yes, I will have to add some more to it, but I don’t quite feel the urgency as much any more as I did before. It took quite a few bucket loads with the skidloader to get all the mulch put down, but a couple lows later – as there was a lot of shoveling and forking, and I was done.

Bob and I had gone to Farm & Fleet yesterday and as long as we were there, I wanted to pick up the obelisks that I had wanted for my birthday. No one got them for me, so as a little present to myself, I picked them up and an even greater gift was that they were also on sale. Yippee for me! Bob, on the other hand, did not find it amusing because we already had a cart full and I was able to get one on top of the cart – sort of looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it did the trick. That left him to carry the other one. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for him, that stopped me from doing any other shopping.

His frustration, however, did not stop there. Once we got to the car, we then had the daunting task of trying to put these towers of frustration into the car. By sizing them up, I knew they were too long to lie in the back seat. Bob didn’t think so (because women are usually wrong about things like that!!), but he quickly found out this time he was wrong. Then he tried to stick them in the trunk and the bases were too wide to go in that way. After a little constructive "criticism," I told him I thought I had it figured out, to which his words were – "you bought ‘em, you had better figure it out." My reply was simply action, not verbalization. I opened the back door on the driver’s side and put the back seats down, slid the "towers" in (we had already stacked one over the other) and, finally, they were in. All it took was just a little womanly coaxing and ingenuity.

He also had a couple choice words to say about the fact that I had picked up a couple pink flamingoes, but my old ones were faded and the sticks were too bent and it was time they hit the flamingo retirement home; so I had been in search of a new set of younger birds and I just happened to find them there. I told him, everyone knows, every garden has to have a set of pink flamingoes! It is just natural, common sense. I now had flamingoes to roost in my gardens again.

After we stopped to eat at the Draft House in Verona and shortly before we left, sister-in-law Faye and niece, Jessica, came in and we visited with them for a bit, and then we headed for home. Once unpacked, I wanted to hit the flower beds again.

Bed No. 1 needed its final weeding before I could do anything further. I grabbed my trusty little cooler with my gardening tools inside that I also use as my stool to sit on when I am weeding. I can only kneel for so long because of the screw I have in my right knee from my ACL/MCL surgery. It lays on the bottom of my knee when I am kneeling and hurts badly when knelt on, so a little stool does the trick. My cooler does double duty. I can also put my camera in there to take pictures when I want.

I was just about done with weeding around my tulips and some of the bare spots that I had left for some future plants to call home when Bob came back to see how I was doing. I actually had my back to him as he was first approaching but then had picked up the cooler to change to another spot when I spied him. He was trying to sneak up on me to scare me, but fortunately for me, he didn’t. So, as we were talking, I moved to a spot on south end of the bed and set the cooler down on a mound of mulch that I had placed earlier around one batch of tulips. I plunked my butt down and was intensely looking for the roots of some weeds when I put my head up to say something, straightened my back and then the dang-dest thing happened – I feel backwards and thought that would be it – just a little tumble backwards. But, no, I did a full tumble – ass over tea kettle. If I would have been graceful about it, it would have been a practiced tuck-and-roll. NOT!! This was a full backward head over heels topple that left me sprawled out on the grass, with dirt and red mulch stuck to my backside. I looked to Bob hoping that he would have a sympathetic look on his face, but I knew better. As he exploded into laughter, my first thoughts were that he was either going to have a heart attack from laughing so hard or pee his pants. (I was secretly hoping for peeing his pants but then I figured I would have to clean that up, too.) The first words were, "where was your camera when I needed it?" To which my reply, luckily, was that it was right next to him sitting on a lawn chair and fortunate for me he didn’t have it in his hands. His next words were, "it reminded me of a Weeble tumbling over." Hahaha!! Not funny!! Well, not comical as I toppled over; later on, I could laugh at it but I can quickly get over it. Bob, on the other hand, can’t. In fact, even today, Bob still bursts out in laughter and says, "I don’t know what I was thinking about needing a camera, because it is still stuck in my mind and I can’t stop laughing about it." Ugh!! I have to admit, though, that I bet it was quite a comical thing to see.

As he slunk away to start milking, giggling to himself like a little school girl, I finished up weeding and then headed to get the skidloader. Just as I was finishing up I was starting to go into a low and knew that it was supposed to rain that night or in the morning, so I wanted to finish things up. I got one more bucket full and grabbed the fork and started pushing mulch around until I was happy and just about ready to fall on the ground. I had just enough energy left in me to safely crawl back into the skidloader, put it away and still be able to walk to the house. Once I got my low under control, I went back out and pushed the mulch around a little more, and then set out my obelisk. The flamingoes also found a little spot to in which to roost.

Again, as with Bed No. 2, I am pretty satisfied with this bed. I can’t wait to see the blooms from all the plants in this large bed. Although, it is, as I said, quite large, it will be a nice break to the bean field once that matures behind it. Usually, there is corn that is planted in there, but this year it is beans so from the road that goes past the farm you might be able to see some of its glory once it, too, matures.

The only thing, hopefully, that you can’t see from the road, is a middle-aged Weeble tumbling over. Hmmmmm . . . what was that about Weebles – oh, yea, Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down.

I guess no one ever told them that once they get to be a certain age, their wobble and tumble turns into a very unbecoming tuck-and-roll.

I Confess -- I'm An Addict

Question: What do I have in common with a crack addict, an alcoholic and a gambler? The answer: Addictions. I am going to confess to everyone that, yes, I, too, have an addiction. I feel and know what it is like for the crack addict to want/need that next fix, for the alcoholic to drool waiting for his next drink and the gambler who is all consumed about when and how to place the next bet. Mine, is Spring and getting dirt under my nails! Bad, huh?!?! – take me away now!!

I get a craving, a bad, bad craving once the snow starts to melt and Spring is on the forefront. There is a storm brewing inside and it is waiting to explode. I love to be out in my gardens, (that is unless it is 110 degrees outside and new congregations of weeds have moved in to greet me) They can sing their hallelujahs somewhere else because I absolutely hate weeds. But yet I certainly seem to still have a little place in my heart for them. Take yesterday, for example. One of my new beds got ahead of me – okay, a disclaimer here, there are more like three beds, but yesterday I had one bed that I wanted to concentrate on. Anyway, before I could get it mulched, a new village of weeds had sprung up. I am sure they moved across town from the last bed I cleaned out and thought this looked like virtuous ground to hang their hats. I let them for a week or so and then it was time to Clean Up Dodge! Marshall Dillon would have been proud of me.

I had gotten back from helping plant flowers/perennials on the graves, mowed the yard, needed more gas to do the rest of the farm, and decided before I ran to town to get gas, I would tend to Bed #2.

I know what you are thinking. Why does she call it Bed No.2? Simple, my dear Watson. Last Fall I dug up three of my back yard flower beds – all three were looking pretty pathetic. So I had Bob roto-till them up and I planted between 250-300 tulips, allium and muscari bulbs. This Spring, I am happy to report, they all came up.

The beds are distinguished as follows: Bed No. 1 is my oblong 30 ft. x 8 ft. bed running north/south along the west end of the back yard. It is individualized by the colors in the pink/purple/lavender families.

Bed No. 2 (my project yesterday and today) is an oval shaped bed approximately 15 ft. x 12 ft. running north to south on the east end of the back yard. Its makeup are colors of red, white, blue and yellow accent.

And, Bed No. 3 is an oblong bed along the fence line of the south end of the back yard approximately 15 ft. x 8 ft. running east to west. This bed is pronounced by colors of yellow, orange, salmon, and apricot. Now you will understand my madness when I talk about my beds in the back yard.

Back to Bed No. 2. I decided this was to be my bed of choice for the day to clean up. It already contained some exotic lilies that I had planted a couple years earlier that I left in there last Fall along with the tulips. After my birthday, I put in the following plants that I received from Casey/Nika and Brady/Jenne for my birthday: Annabelle Hydrangea (white), two Longsfield Twin day lilies (red/yellow), and Hot Papaya coneflower (red).

Now I needed to weed around those and the tulips, so I pulled out my little cooler that I use as my stool which also contains my gardening tools and went to town "cleaning up Dodge." What a wonderful feeling that is once you have accomplished something like weeding it out completely! Euphoria sets in . . . along with an aching back. Next, the plan of action called for running to town to get gas for the lawn mower and making a trip out into the country about 5 miles from town to a great nursery called The Salad Garden to see what other perennials I could find and add to my beds.

Pongo and I jumped in the car and headed off to the Land of Oz. I needed a fix and I needed it quick and now!! And, oh what a fix I got! Visions of sugar plums could not have been sweeter than what I saw. After a careful and meticulous scan of the inventory, I grabbed a wagon and started picking up what I wanted, concentrating carefully on what each bed needed and already had. In the end, I walked out with the following for each bed.

Bed No. 1 already had a Mistical Pink Mist coneflower, three Cote de Azure Asiatic lilies (purple), Meringue coneflower (green), Rose Returns daylily, two Pink Double Delight coneflowers, and three Oriental Lily mix daylilies (purple/pinks). I picked up two Wine ‘n Roses Wiegelas (deep pink flowers w/dark purple foliage), two Pow Wow Wild Berry coneflowers (hot pink), two Obliqua Pink Turtle Heads, and three Wartburg Star Hardy Asters.

Bed No. 3, already had: three Cappuccino Tango lilies, Limelight Hydrangea (lime green), Sundown coneflower. I chose three Sundown coneflowers (orange). Notice the slip-up here! Yes, I just bought three more of what I already had – the Sundown. But these are so pretty, that won’t bother me a bit. I always say that you should plant in groups of three, so one extra is not going to hurt. It will just add to the beauty!

And for Bed No. 2, my current project, I opted for: two Fireworks Fountain Grass (burgundy striped), two Lo & Behold Blue Chip butterfly bushes, Songbird Bunting Columbine (blue), Songbird Goldfinch Columbine (yellow), Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass (white) and a lime green Heuchera. The bed also already had six Exotic Mixed Lilies.

As soon as I got back from the nursery and after getting gas, I unloaded the car and set off to position my plants. Once I had them situated, I dug into Bed No. 2, as I wanted to get this one finished off as best I could. With the plants in, I could now see where I still had areas that needed planting, but since it was starting to get dark, I figured I would have to mulch in the morning and that night I would have sweet dreams of what other plants I wanted to put in this bed.

Today we were planning on going to the Green County Dairy Breakfast, unless it was raining. I decided that I better get an early start outside because if we went and in order for us to get there in time before they finished serving, I would have to be in the barn by 7:00. So I headed outside around 6:00 to do the mulching on Bed No. 2. I pulled the skidloader out and could feel that rain seemed imminent. I called Bob and asked him what he wanted to do. We decided with it looking like rain, we would forego the Dairy Breakfast but would do some errand running instead. Okay, that left me a little more leeway on my morning.

I scooped up a big load of mulch and as careful as you can be with a skidloader full of mulch, headed into the back yard, hoping not to do too much damage to the grass along the way. Two skidloader buckets later and a lot of shoveling and forking later, I am done mulching. And, I have to say it looks marvelous. As you can see, it even now has some visitors -- my garden gnomes have found a new home.

It just needs a few garden ornaments to finish it off and about two or three more plants in the back and Bed No. 2 can be put to rest. Oh, yes, I have to say, she looks so pretty, like a shiny new penney with its copperish-red dressing of mulch. Now I have to wait for all the plants to start to bloom. Fortunately, I think I can do that because I know it was all my own blood, sweat and tears that went into it. That is a good feeling. It may not be the prettiest thing to anyone else, but to me, it is that feeling of accomplishment, like looking at your newborn baby cradled in your arms.

It is a rush. My high -- that feeling of closing your eyes, rocking on your heels and then. . . wait for it, here it comes . . . ta-dah . . . aaaahhhhhhh . . .there it is. Yep, I can feel it pulsing through my veins right now. Now, I think, this is what every addict seeks – that high and final feeling of euphoria.

And the finale – I open my eyes and my high puts a big, ole’ smile on my face.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Old Lady Might Just Be Getting A Little Too Tired And Cranky

I’m having visions of flowers springing up all over! Yes, the tulips I planted last fall came through amazingly! I am quite happy at the crop that sprouted this spring and at how well they have lasted throughout the ups and downs of temperatures. (See some pictures of my tulips, above). First, we had a weekend of 80 degree weather in late April that got every bulb revved up for the countdown to bloom time. Then, as usual, we slid into some unsightly weather after that. But undaunted by the extreme temperature fluctuations, the variations of tulips and muscari proved to rally against all odds. The alliums are up but haven’t bloomed yet, so that will be lovely to see, also. And my daylilies have grown and are showing they are ready to start stretching their wings, too.

A couple weekends ago I also got out and did my first lawn mowing of the season. I followed that up by trying to use up some of the mulch from last year and spread it around the Spring bulbs that came up in those beds that had not yet been mulched. Now that I can see where everything is planted, it is time to mulch. So I had Bob order 15 yards of mulch today. He thought that might be too much since last year we didn’t quite use everything, but then I reminded him I had three beds that I didn’t mulch at all last year because I was going to dig them up in the Fall and replant them. I’m assuming he just didn’t want that big of a pile staring him in the face again. As I am also sure, he remembers quite well from last year when we grabbed the skidloader, wheelbarrow, some rakes, pitchforks and gloves and set out to mulch, that we (errr, me) had a bit of a problem in keeping my blood sugars under control. It was such physical work that it kept sending me into lows every half hour. So he tried to take the brunt of it (and I am sure he will remind me of that again this year when we start putting down that mulch again).

In the past I have usually used lots of cocoa bean mulch. If it wasn’t so expensive and/or could have gotten it in bigger bulk than just bags, didn’t bio-degrade so fast, wasn’t bad for the dogs (if they eat it), then I would love to continue using it. It smells so good after it has been put down and it looks marvelous! But since after using it for just a couple beds, I can turn my pocketbook upside down and nary a single coin will fall out – I think is better to stick to a $400-500 40-yard load of shredded/colored wood mulch.

The dilemma I have this year is my rose bed. We are supposed to be putting in a new septic system – that is, if we (hmmmm....more like, Bob) ever decide on the final project contractor, etc. (I suppose I have to start throwing out a “honey-do” list again.) The plans that were drawn up puts the line from the house to the holding tank going right through my rose bed. Nonetheless, what I should be doing right now is digging up that rose bed and replanting them – so I guess I have to put that on my “honey-do” list and Bob’s “helper-honey-do” list.

When I mowed that first time this year, I cleared out some areas that I hadn’t mowed in years up above the “white heifer barn.” It is quite hilly so there were a lot of trips up and down a slope that is not meant to be mowed sideways. By doing these areas, I added a couple more hours to my mowing time so I am now looking at being out there for a good 6-7 hours at least.

This past weekend was a little bit harder to time the mowing because it had been drizzling on Friday and Saturday. But by Sunday I knew I had to mow what was now looking like a hayfield because it couldn’t wait any longer. The nice warm weather from last weekend combined with some rain made everything grown expeditiously. Yes, I do mean everything. The weeds sprouted like crazy, too. I started mowing and only got the front yard done had just started on the back yard when I was having problems shifting the mower. I shut her down and went and got Bob who crawled under her to get a peek at what she was being so cranky about. That is when he noticed all the oil that was covering a lot of her underbelly. Then we noticed that streak of grass that I had just mowed had a shiny shimmer to it (oil!!). We pushed her to the front of the house and took the cover off to see her oil-slicked guts. Bob then started her back up again and a spray of oil came off one of the hydraulic hoses. Initially, when I first explained what was happening and he first came out, he told me he thought the hydrostat had gone and she was done. I was beginning to get sick thinking about it. But now he thought, hopefully with either a new hose or alternatively soldering or welding the hose that was on there, we might be able to get by. So we were going to have to wait no matter what until something could be done with that hose.

Nevertheless, I desperately need to mow and have nothing to do it with at the moment. Hopefully, Bob will pick up the part today, be able to put it in and I can mow tomorrow. If the welding on the part doesn’t work, to put it bluntly, we’re screwed; the next step will be getting a new lawn mower.

My baby (Cub Cadet lawn mower) has certainly served her purpose well. We bought her (you will note that yes I am referring to her in the female sense as she has been a workhorse – hence it is a she) . . . anyway, Bob bought her about 17-18 years ago. I remember the day he got her from Studer’s in Monroe. I was appalled that he/we paid $2,000 for her at the time. She was used then – we figure she must now be about 30 years old – not sure what that makes her in human years – does this count like “dog years”???? hmmmm . . . but she has given us very little problems. She came with her own tiller and she has definitely paid her “rent” by the work that she has done.

The problems now are that she leaks hydraulic oil a little (a lot more after she blew a hose last weekend), and she might be a little cranky to start once in awhile, but heck what woman isn’t!!!! hahaha!!! What she likes is that she gets a good workout in the Spring, Summer and Fall months and she gets to vacation all Winter. (I’m thinking I like her job already!!) Yes, I might have accidentally rammed her into a few trees once in awhile just because I was trying to get too close, but a good headbutt every once in awhile hasn’t knocked any significant screws loose – or at least any that she has shown me cause to be concerned about.

I’m hoping that with this new little minor transplant we have for her, that she won’t give up and want to take a permanent vacation. If so, I don’t blame her entirely – especially since now she has to put up with Wolfie who likes to run around in front of her, taunting her, when she is trying to get some work done. She hasn’t had to put up with a young, pesky (outside) dog before, so maybe she might be thinking it is too late to teach old dogs new tricks.

Frankly, girlie, I’m hoping not.