Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our Pets

Yes, our pets.
What a topic.

We've had Chelsea the longest...going on 12 years now.  She was a "gift" from our son.  Chelsea was about to be taken to the pound in Utah where our son was visiting.  He phoned us and asked us if we would like a dog, as this little dog was so nice.  We had recently had Kim's cocker spaniel, Buffy, put to sleep after his long life of 16 years.  But how could we say no?  Besides, we had a safety net; Casey's friend's mother said she would take Chelsea if we didn't like her.

And just look what we ended up with....half husky, half corgi is what we were told.  And she was adorable.

Chelsea has been a great addition to our lives.  We estimate her to be around 14 years old so we don't expect many more years from her.  But she's been great.
She's mostly deaf now, and likes to sleep, a lot.  But she's been tolerant of our chickens and many cats. She's been a sweetheart.

Then there's Jessie.

Jessie was a stray kitten from next door.  He came to us three years ago.
Jessie is a large cat, but a big scaredy cat.  He's a lover, not a fighter.  And he's also a drooler.  Pet him and you'll get wet.  He is by far the shiest of our cats.

The cats next door just wouldn't stop making babies.
Felix was our next adoptee.
How could we resist???
Just look at this guy.

But, I'm sorry to say, I probably pulled Felix away from his mother too soon.  And I don't recommend it.  But the result was a sort of bond between he and I.  Felix was quite needy when I brought him home and he got into the habit of sleeping across my neck at night.  Which he does to this day.  I have to admit I love it, as it feels like a warm scarf across my neck at night and is very comforting.

He also enjoys rides on my back/shoulder through the garden.  (Not sure why, he's just weird I guess.)

Felix is a smaller sized cat but he has the cajones of a much larger cat.  He stood up to Scarface upon his arrival to our household.  Something none of the other pets have EVER matched.  So never doubt Felix's courage.

And then there's Frankie.

I never should have adopted Frankie. (The clipped ear is a consequence of neutering at the pound for a feral cat/mother combo.)
But just look at those eyes!  Those beautiful blue eyes.
Frankie was one of the seven kittens we rescued, along with their parents, and had spayed/neutered and adopted out.
Just look at him as a kitten and tell me you could have resisted him.

My first mistake was in naming him.  Don't ever, ever, ever, name a kitten you intend to give up for adoption.  Because if you do, you're dead.  Well, not dead, but you're not going to give that kitten away are you?

And why "Frankie" you ask? (If you have to ask you've probably never heard of Frank Sinatra.)

Give me a little credit for not also keeping his cousin, "Francine".  There was never such a beautiful pair.
But I sucked it up and adopted her out. (I know, it wasn't easy.)

Frankie was a spit fire when we caught him as a kitten.  No longer.  He is a WHINER, all caps intended.
Frankie will wake you up in the middle of the night, not with a love pat, but with claws out, crying. And what does he want, you ask?  He wants you to PET him as he EATS.  Yes, you read that correctly.

And finally, Scarface.

Yes, SCARFACE.  We did not name him.
Our son did.
Scarface is now ten years old.  He was on his way to the pound when I told my son to bring him over.
This is a dog who doesn't like other dogs.  Or strangers.  Or children.  Or cats.
A dog who will bite, and has bitten.
A grouchy dog.
A dog with problems.
He was supposed to have had a home but it didn't pan out.  Our son needed to move on with his life;  I get it.
I just couldn't get Scarface ending up at the pound.  So he ended up at our house.  (How many parents out there end up with their children's pets????)

And he has managed to fit in somehow.  Now he is "my dog" and Chelsea is "Kim's dog".  Scarface has managed somehow to fit into our lives and into our hearts.
He tolerates the chickens and has learned to tolerate the cats, exception being scaredy cat Jessie.
Kim and I are accustomed to his peculiarities as he had lived with us prior to his arrival ten months ago.
We don't expect many more years from this grey boy, but we intend to make his final years comfortable.

Look how brave Felix is.
He enjoys playing with Scarface's tennis balls.

Check out our pet chickens in the sidebar to the right.
How many pets do you have?  How many stories do you have?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Playing in our Garden

Kim and I have one especially prolific garden bed right now.

It is overflowing with coreopsis, lychnis coronaria, black eyed susans, ratibida columnifera, larkspur, yarrow, and white and pink sweet peas.

So Kim and I hang around and participate in another favorite pastime of ours;  photography.

There were two bumble bees buzzing around that afternoon.  It was the pink sweet peas to which the insects swarmed.
Click on the pics to really see them up close.

I never thought of bumble bees as having tongues. But you can just make it out in the photo below.

Kim likes to shoot from a distance for that great depth of field which blurs the background nicely.

I enjoy the close ups my little point and shoot camera offers.
You can just make out the dragonfly in the photo below.
I think it is a Twelve Spotted Skimmer.  Probably female.

Anyway, it was fun.  Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The View From the Front

I'm happy with our front garden again this year.  It takes a lot of work still;  weeding, deadheading, etc, but not much watering, which is nice.  We water it about once a month during the summer.  (The phlox under the birch tree close to the house are the exception.  They get a weekly watering.)

That's Oenothera missouriensis (Missouri Evening Primrose) blooming right front.  The Russian Olive tree  (Elaeagnus angustifolia) on the right belongs to our neighbor.  The three Sweet Gum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) on the left are ours.

Closer to the house is a patch of foxtail lilies (Eremurus).  Kim dug up the bulbs last fall and spread them around a bit.  Also represented in this photo is Russian Sage, some gaura, a Mock Orange shrub against the house, a tall yarrow on the right, and in front of it is some garlic Kim planted.  There are also two beds of tomato plants crammed in there.  The large tree belongs to the neighbor.
Everyone falls in love with the foxtail lilies, as we have.  If you plant them, try to plant something nearby to take over after their foliage gets ugly.  But their blooms are worth it.

The bright orange/yellow is of course gaillardia along with some blue flax, penstemon and mullein.
Kim set the bird bath out front this year.

The bright red valerian looks great against the fence.  More Russian sage here, a red hot poker, there's a lavender plant in there also.

I've forgotten what these little daisy-like flowers (weeds?) are called but they fill in well and look nice with the magenta colored Lychnis coronaria.  The iris are taking their time coming back after Kim divided them.  They usually really help to fill this space.

One of my favorites is the callirhoe involucrata (winecups).  It spreads around but is never invasive and is a great ground cover.

I also really like this perennial foxglove.  I believe it's digitalis goldcrest, but I lost the tag.  It's short, but sweet.

Other plants stuffed in the front yard are miscanthus sinensis (porcupine grass), a globe willow (sadly on its way out), viburnum lantana 'Variegata' that the cats sleep under, ornamental oregano, sedum, a scotch broom shrub (gift from a friend long ago), the occasional stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather grass), Karl Foerster grass, liatris punctata, baptisia australis, and a Desert Four O'Clock (Mirabilis multiflora) which I'll have to post pictures of later.
Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, I love driving up our driveway during the summer months.  There's always something new going on.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gifts of Spring

My friend, writer, speaker, gardener and fellow blogger at Seasonal Wisdom, Teresa O'Connor, featured our garden in her article on creating a certified wildlife garden.

You can read her wonderful article at Craftsy.  And hey, she quotes me!

In the meantime, our Laburnum, or Golden Chain Tree, has bloomed this spring!

I'm excited because we've had this tree for quite a few years now, probably ten, and rarely do we get to enjoy it in all its spring splendor.

The main reason we usually miss seeing these blooms is due to a late frost happening here in Boise, which eliminates any chance of them.

You can read all about Golden Chain Trees here, including the fact that they are in the legume family, fussy to grow, and indigenous to Southern Europe.

Those blooms do look like pea blossoms, don't they?

It's a tough tree to photograph since it's still small.  But in the photo above, the tree is just to the right and above Scarface's butt.
I'm certainly thrilled we continued to give this tree a chance.  We've been well rewarded.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Universe 101

"We come into this world a whole human being.  Ready to learn, ready to accept, ready to love, ready to enjoy our life.  What we are taught can change us either in the best or in the most harmful of ways.  It is our responsibility to stay true to our core self and to keep our core whole.  If we are wounded, we are able to repair it successfully with minimal scarring if taught how to do so properly."

I was fortunate to meet the author of Universe 101, Monica Ortiz, seemingly by chance, at a talk she gave here in Boise last year.  I attended the talk with my daughter and stayed for the free meditation offered afterwards.  That was when I had a real encounter with Monica.

Monica is an unassuming, petite woman.  But she is powerful.  And full of love.  After the meditation Monica took it upon herself to question me a bit further, then, with my permission, she relieved me of a huge emotional burden.  I don't know how, and I don't care, but when I left that building I felt such a sense of freedom that I could barely drive.  It was stunning.

Universe 101 is a book I wish I had read in my twenties.  I think it might have saved me much anxiety and pointed the way to a healthy lifestyle.  My life as a child was filled with fear, distrust, hate, negativity, confusion, and more fear.  After leaving my childhood home I spent years going to therapy, trying desperately to find my way in a world I couldn't comprehend.  I didn't know how to make friends.  I didn't know how to be true to myself.  I didn't even know what was important in the most basic sense.

In her first book, Monica offers a road map to life.  In two words;  live honestly.

Read Universe 101 for directions on how to do so.  It's straightforward and an easy read.
I look forward to her next book.