Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Bulb Festival

Plopped down in my morning coffee spot, massaging sore muscles, contemplating the last 27 things to do on my spring cleanup of the gardens. Hoping to get all creative and stuff. Surely I could invent a good reason not to do any of that today. 

When a woman ran past the front of my house in a wedding dress. 

Screaming: Wheee! To the cars passing by, honking their horns. Jumped up, took a look around, hoping to see another runaway bride. 

My cute town does not have an overabundance of runaway brides. It’s Running With Ed weekend. A 26-mile relay race, to benefit local schools. 

Lots of people happily running a marathon - many in costumes. Didn’t realize that May is almost over until I saw the sprinting bride. 

The race became my really good excuse. To not do any more hard gardening work. To sit there and clap and cheer and wonder why most of those runners were smiling. 

It's always a curiosity to me. Who in their right mind would willingly run 26 miles? I wouldn't do that. Even if zombies were chasing me.

But I'm nearly finished with a marathon of my own making. 

Raking and weeding and planting and mowing. Spring clean up is hard, hard work. Taxing muscles that spent a whole lotta time reading books during the long, cold winter.

Maybe that's what they mean. When people say: Pick Your Poison. 

If you find a passion, it feels like fun, even when it’s backbreaking labor. Or. It feels like fun right up until the day you rip off that wedding dress and say: I don’t wanna do this anymore. 

Which is what I did. When I ran out of steam and hired a landscaping service to collect all the broken tree limbs and other stuff I raked from the garden beds. The guys removed an entire flatbed trailer of debris. 

May, in the mountains, is always known as Mud Month. Once the snow melts. After our epic winter with 400+ inches of snow, we're dealing with some serious mud!

It's been an exhausting few weeks of playing in that mud. Spring clean up. 

Some of it heartbreaking, badly damaged fruit trees. The disappearing act of quite a few flower bulbs (ground squirrels gobbled them up.) 

The Willows are gone. Nibbled right down to the dirt. The moose were starving during this long and difficult winter. It's fine by me. Happy to donate Willows to this worthy cause. 

During an extreme bout of cabin fever, I decided to spend oodles of money on a completely inappropriate patio set.  

* If you look real close, you can see the muddy footprints on the white cushions. White. What was I thinking? Dog, Charlie, happily approved of my design.

The gal who published that book, Do What You Love & The Money Will Follow, clearly did not take into consideration a career in gardening. Well. I suppose most people don’t call it a career; they call it a hobby. Some days I call it an obsession. 

I visit flower festivals and then I want to make my own backyard equally beautiful.

Did you know that USA gardeners spend $50 billion dollars a year? I think most of that is me.

I don't love spring cleanup, or weeding, but I do love planting. Digging in the dirt. Shopping for brand new beauties at the local nursery. Always have. 

Just as soon as I saw I was nearly done with all that hard work, I instantly decided to take on more hard work. :) Placed an order for more waterwise perennials. 

Because that’s what being a gardener is all about, don’t you think? The power of positive thinking. The belief that this year, oh this year, this flower season is pretty much guaranteed to be marvelous!

This Spring has been a little disappointing. Dull grey skies, plentiful rains. As if we needed more moisture after our epic winter snowfall. It’s a miracle anything survived. Including me. 

So far, my gardens are showing zero enthusiasm toward the merry month of May. 

Which is why I thought you might enjoy these photos from The Bulb Festival. This last photo could be a dead giveaway, as to where I was ~ when I was tiptoeing thru the Tulips.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Aftermath

We’ve been very busy. Watching the snow melt.

Time has this annoying habit of moving on - caring very little about my opinions on the matter. 

Moving quickly when I would much prefer time to stand still. 

Moving at a snail's pace when fast would be good. Great, even. Let's put this long, cold winter behind us. 

We had 400 inches of snow this winter.

I'm happy to report that Spring has arrived in the mountains. You can hear it with the cheerful serenade of returning songbirds. We’re back! What’s for breakfast? 

Maybe a Finch?

Even when you’re buried beneath mountains of snow, you can see that Spring has arrived. Feel it. A warmer morning light, a softer, gentler breeze. A kinder angle to the glaring sun. Bluer skies. 

In the ditch, the driest area of the property, tiny green Daffodil shoots are popping up in the mud. Always makes me smile when I see how much growing happens beneath the deep drifts. Snow is a fine insulator. 

The view from my window. The view from up here.

You can also tell it's springtime by the “Urgent! Avalanche!" warnings popping up on my phone. [Argh. Will this ever end?] 

And then it did. End, that is.

Two weeks of exceptionally warm weather, snows rapidly melting. Spring has arrived! As indicated by the new warnings on my phone: “Urgent: Flash Flooding!” 

I'm showing you a picture of my living room ↑ because I am so very proud of this old house. It weathered the plentiful storms. Roofs collapsed, from the weight of the snow, on newer homes, near me. But this place. The oldest house in the neighborhood. Did just fine.

And, of course, the dog ran away. The most predictable sign of spring. 

6-foot fences in our backyards are no match for 15+ feet of snow. Charlie glided easily over the fence and kept on running. Embarking on a life of crime, he returned home with this chicken.  - >

That was the funniest part of this epic snowfall winter. All the neighbors making the same - daily - announcements: Lost dog! Lost dog! 

They're not lost. They're up on the sledding hill, having the time of their lives. 

So that's what's happening in my neck of the woods. Just sitting around, watching the snow melt. Wondering when, if ever, those Daffodils will start to bloom.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

Home is where the... snow is.

It melts on this sunny deck but don't let that fool you.

We have 400 inches of snow. 

We set that record while I was searching for some sunshine in Arizona. [With zero luck, I might add.] 

It's a lot deeper on the other side of the mountains ~ 5 miles west, as the crow flies. Although crows are way too smart to be hanging around here.

Snowbird has 700 inches of snow. No need to get out the calculator. I did that earlier this morning. I mean it's not like I have anything better to do. I'm stuck indoors. Because it's still snowing. 700 inches = 58 feet of snow. 

Snowbird received 5 feet of fresh snow in the last 5 days

Snows have reached the roof level.

It's snowing sideways right now ~ a bitterly cold wind battering this old house. It's almost April. It should be springtime. Crocus should be blooming. Maybe they are blooming! Do you suppose they do that? Beneath this mountain of snow.

I imagine you're not the slightest bit interested in my snow report.

But I just have one last thing to say: Enough Already! 

Okay. Two things: I'm glad I don't live in California ~ it's even crazier farther west.

Indoors ~ things are a whole lot prettier. Shock of the world... Everybody survived. 

As in all the houseplants left to fend for themselves during the 6 weeks we were gone. 

I don't know what possessed me... well, that's not true I know exactly what possessed me. I just hate to see all my little annuals die in the first freak freeze which happened in October. To save them, I dragged one of the outdoor planters indoors for the winter.

At first I felt kind of foolish. But I gotta tell ya... That planter is keeping me sane. 

It's so nice to have my morning coffee with these pretty little Pansies. ↓

Geraniums don't know how lucky they are. Rescued from the garden last autumn. ↓

Happy little Daisies, planted by seed. ↓

Easy to grow Kalanchoe. ↓

Did you know Kalanchoe (K. blossfeldiana) can live for a hundred years? Why yes, indeedy, they do. So stop throwing these grocery-store cuties away. They're perennials. Give them a chance to re-bloom. You'll be glad you did.

AND! Tulips!! 

I always keep a bag of Tulips in my refrigerator. Force the bulbs indoors for a little bit of Easter color.

√ It's really easy to 'force' Tulip bulbs. You basically take them out of the refrigerator and say: Okay do your thing. They'll flower with or without soil. But, of course, they appreciate a drink of water.

This year, I planted my Tulip bulbs - indoors - in the planter - before I left on vacation. And for once in this gardener's life, these flowers did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Filled my house with glorious spring colors.

It was a pretty wonderful welcome home to see them all blooming.

After I climbed over the 6-foot snow drift blocking my front door. :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

The I'm Not Kidding Ghost In The Attic

We've driven as far south as we can go - without a passport - and it's still snowing.

↑ 11 miles from the Mexico Border.  ↑

When we embarked on this Let's Head South to Warm Up, impromptu road trip, I packed two suitcases. One for hot weather - one for warm weather. Bit the bullet, got a pedicure, prior to my departure. Couldn't hardly wait to put my sandals on.

Packed three whole items for cold weather. Confident I'd be escaping the snows very, very soon. Been living in a filthy sweatshirt and a pair of dirty jeans for a couple weeks now. The only warm clothes I have. I haven't been warm since we hopped in the car, eager to leave winter far behind.

It makes sense that I'm suffering through a super snowy winter. I live high in the mountains in a ski resort.

It does not make sense that the father south we drive, the colder it gets.

After departing chilly Sedona, we headed much further south.

Tombstone was a ghost town. Which makes sense ~ seeing as how their biggest attraction is shooting each other every hour, on the hour, at the OK Corral. 

I suppose the lack of tourists stems from the fact that it was so freaking cold there nobody felt like cheering on the Gunslingers. 

This is a major thoroughfare and a two-way street.

From Tombstone, we headed farther south, to Bisbee.  We were lost the whole time we were there. I'm still laughing that it took us 30 minutes to find a restaurant that was only 1/2 mile away! 

*  FYI ~ once we did find Cafe Roka (sign in the photo - I think I hold the Guinness Book of World Records for u-turns, while on vacation) it was the best meal I've ever enjoyed.

The town gets much prettier when you drive around the corner. 

Bisbee is an eccentric, artsy, ghost-loving community. Which sounded like kind of a crazy claim to fame. Oh, lookee there! Isn't that cute? I thought to myself, when I saw that Bisbee was listed as one of the most haunted places in Arizona.

We came to stay at this lovely 100 year old mansion. ↓

When the weather cooperates, it looks like this vs. the top photo in this blog post. When it's covered in snow. 

When I booked this place I envisioned me in Donna's glorious garden. Me in a tank top, sipping lemonade, and photographing her lovely flowers... and... what? 

Eleven miles from the Mexico border - it was 18 degrees the day we arrived.

Look up! Complimentary wine but you must climb to rafters to retrieve it. :)

I fell in love the moment we walked inside. Have always dreamed of having a country kitchen in a wonderful old home like this one. Sans the ghost.

Yep. Pretty sure it was haunted. 

That's crazy! YOU are saying to yourself at this very moment. 

I'm a light sleeper - woke in the middle of the night, hearing footsteps. Figured it was Hazel (I picked up a friend at the Phoenix airport for the last half of this journey.) But then I heard her snoring in the next room. Which is right about the time I remembered why I don't travel with her that often.  :)

Footsteps. In the attic. And no dog.

Even when he's bored to tears, while I'm working on my computer, Charlie never leaves my side.

Charlie refused to come upstairs in that house. 

He's been by my side every day for the last 8 years. We sleep together every night. 

But Charlie wouldn't come upstairs to sleep with me while were staying in that house. Flatly refused. Which felt so very strange. Until I heard the spooky visitor in the attic in the middle of the night.

So there you have it. Truth in advertising. Bisbee really is a ghost town. And there's absolutely no need to book one of those super popular ghost tours the town offers. Just book the place I stayed in.

* If you don't believe me, believe in Charlie Waffles. He was smart enough to sleep downstairs on the couch.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

The Story of the Vortex

Flowers! Outdoors! Oh yay! We've finally driven far enough south for it to feel like spring. 

What do you mean this Airbnb is $1,000 a night? It was $125 bucks a night when I last looked! 

It's the Super Bowl! Everybody is coming to Phoenix the weekend you want to be here! What???

Not being a football enthusiast - and even less so after I saw how the Super Bowl was destroying my travel budget - by inflating the rental prices in Phoenix...  

We took another detour on our Let's Go South to Warm Up impromptu vacation. 

Headed to Sedona. 

Vortex areas in and around Sedona are said to bring about self-awareness and spiritual healing. 

Native Americans believe that a spiritual transformation occurs more easily in Sedona because the veils to other dimensions are more translucent and accessible. 

Found the perfect place. A room with a fabulous view.

I had a 'spiritual transformation' the moment I pulled into town. No snow + the first glimpse of some outdoor flowers. In case you're wondering... I live in a ski resort and we've had 300 inches of snow during this insane winter. I love snow. But I also love leaving it far behind.

I've visited Sedona 14 times ~ and yet I've never spent any time, at all, in Sedona.

Not just a view. A view and a fireplace. Which helped with the disappointment. Because it was freezing here, too.

We used to travel to Sedona every spring. 

Brought our horses to the Caballos del Sol ride, where we could forget about the mountains of snow back home ~ while trotting through those breathtaking red rock canyons. 

When your travel buddy weighs 1,400 pounds (I love saying that because it instantly lets me off the hook when I think I should go on a diet) you're not allowed the luxury of leaving the horses behind, driving into Sedona, and doing the one thing I always wanted to do there. 

Shop. The stores are amazing and I'm pretty sure I could find all kinds of things I don't need. Like this! ↓↓ 

I have absolutely no use for this. But it's turquoise! 

Sedona is speckled with vortex areas - each radiating its own particular energy. 

The vortex, in downtown Sedona, is incredibly powerful. You feel yourself pulling your credit card out of your purse. Oftentimes you have no idea why. 

The excitement over 'no snow' lasted all of one day.

The True Story of The Vortex

Do you believe in magic? Divine intervention? "Woo-woo" experiences? Yeah, me neither. 

√ Although I thought it was rather magical that I managed to score a place to stay in Sedona, at the last minute, with a stunning view and a fireplace!

Science plays a huge role in how we view the universe. Yet. There are times when I wonder if we behave cautiously - claim certain oddities couldn't possibly be true - because we don't want to embarrass ourselves by admitting we believe. Subjecting ourselves to ridicule because of our beliefs. And also because lots of really cool things are downright impossible to prove. 

Or. Are they?

Sedona really does feel as if it's 'alive' with a special type of energy.

A long time ago, I visited Sedona with the gal who would ultimately become my freelance business partner. We had argued for almost a year on how to make this work. Young and strong and very fit at the time, we hiked to the top of Cathedral Rock. 

* I would not recommend this. Go shopping. That's loads more fun.

At the top, we rested, dangling our legs over the ledge, talking about The Freelance Business. The one we couldn't agree on. The problem-solving ideas flowed out of us, like water from a teapot. In the span of 30 minutes, we solved all the major roadblocks. And we have not swayed from that business plan in 25 years.

When we got back to town, we had drinks in a local bar. Still in awe that we figured this all out so easily, we mentioned this to some of the locals. They nodded their heads, saying: Oh, yes, clarity of thought. That's a big one up there. 

So, yeah, I don't know. Maybe that's all the proof we need. Strange, magical things happen all the time. Becoming a freelancer vastly improved my life. Allowed me to retire early. If we can credit a big, red rock for that clarity, I'm perfectly happy to do so!

Friday, February 03, 2023

I Never Know Where I'm Going ~ 'Til I Get There

Bryce Canyon in Winter.

Covid taught me sit still. Which is pretty darn hard to do! When you're plagued with nervous energy as I am. My Grandma used to call it The Wiggies. Always restless. Can't sit still. She understood because she was the same way. That's why I was a perpetual traveler. Until Covid demanded I sit still. 

Then Delta Airlines clinched the deal by showing me just how absolutely horrible airline travel has become, post-pandemic.

These days we much prefer road trips.

Queen's Garden in Bryce.
Oh my gods it was cold there! 

All I did was give your Mother a nudge out the door. < That's what I assumed Lou might tell my daughter when they filed the Missing Persons report. 

Laughing about that when Charlie & I were the only two slip-sliding down the icy Navajo Trail. Bryce was the first detour on our impromptu road trip - to warmer temperatures.

Coffee and donuts are quite popular in Kanab, Utah.
I could live here forever.

It all started when Lou, who lives in sunny San Diego, called me up, mentioning that he was desperate to do some skiing. [I live in a ski resort.] 

I was desperate to get as far out of the snow as we could drive. After one brief phone call it was all settled! He could be my house sitter and we could take a road trip to Bisbee, Arizona.

We always stay in the wonderful Cameron Lodge, Navajo Nation, on the outskirts of Marble Canyon.

I've traveled this road so many times. For most folks, it's a one-day drive to Phoenix where you are pretty much guaranteed warm weather. [Though most folks never take the backroads.]

And I always do it alone. Perhaps that's because I'm 1) anti-social, 2) prone to detours, 3) willing to stop every 5 minutes to take a picture.  #1 - definitely not. Yes, to #2 and #3.

But it's much simpler than that. I just don't like people bitching at me. 'Normal' people would be pacing around that silly coffee shop, in Kanab, nervously checking the time on their phone. "We’re behind schedule! It will be dark soon!" < You’re an adult. Why are you afraid of the dark?

Charlie Waffles needs a bath.

These days, I prefer to travel with the one guy who never complains. Who greatly appreciates 3 detours in one long day. And is perfectly happy with whatever crazy notion pops into my head.

You won't see a sign directing you to this overlook. 
But if you drive 75.6 miles from the donut shop, you'll see the turnoff.

Cuddled up in our hotel room, in the middle of nowhere, listening to the microwave spin and hum, cooking one of our emergency meals (that I always pack, because I'm not a complete dummy,) I smiled. Thinking about Janet. And her spaghetti alfredo, in Croatia. She brought that pre-packaged meal with her from Park City. It traveled across Italy. And France. Waiting patiently in her suitcase. Just in case we encountered a situation when it would come in handy. And it did. 

That’s probably why we're such great friends. Sometimes I feel as if we’re the last two people on the planet (that I know) who appreciate these wild lands. And enjoy the magic so easily discovered, when you embrace those 'inconvenient' detours.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Amaryllis - January's Best Blossoms

The view from my window. The view from up here.

 * lilting holiday music * Oh, the weather outside is frightful.. Normal

For the first time, in 7 years, we are experiencing an absolutely delightful, normal, cold, snowy, winter. 

And I gotta tell ya.. it is bringing me back to life. This break in the severe drought began long before the snows arrived. Utah experienced a monsoon season this summer! Albeit short, but who cares? It's a positive. Good news is hard to come by, these days. 

This is a $10 dollar flower bulb, purchased from Home Depot.

Indoors - everything is also normal. Well. As normal as it can be around here. When you live in a ski resort, experiencing the "Best Ever!" snow and your tiny mountain town has blossomed with an extra 80,000 people who showed up to ski. 

Never mind the fact that they don't know how to ski. This is instagram-able! So they booked a flight.

This variegated Amaryllis is one of my favorites. Another $10 bulb from HD.

I'm sure you've seen them. The boxes and boxes of Amaryllis bulbs adorning the shelves of the [aptly named] big box stores around the holidays. 

Like most fabulous blossoms, they do not care that you prefer instant gratification.

However! They are most definitely worth the wait. [Approximately 6 weeks after planting day.]

I saved this Amaryllis bulb. She was growing in a box in the store when I found her.

They are the most impressive bulbs. 

Amaryllis are so eager to bloom, they often grow, and blossom, without sunlight, soil or water. 

You've probably seen that, too. After the holidays, when the bulbs who weren't purchased are still sitting in the dark boxes, inside the store. Oftentimes you'll see a tall stem, with a large flower bud on top the stem, forcing her way out of the cardboard container.

Like this gal!  👇  I saved her. The minute I gave her a sunny window + a desperately needed drink of water... she decided to become a tree:

Pay no attention to that can of dog food next to this pretty flower. 

The cost of these stunningly beautiful houseplants - each flower is twice the size of my hand - is about $10 bucks.*

So if you see one struggling this time of year - Save Her! You'll be glad you did. And so will she.

Amaryllis petals sparkle in the sunlight.

If that sales pitch is not enough incentive for you to save a struggling bulb, here's one more. 

In the sunlight the petals sparkle - as if covered in fairy dust.

The beautiful view on my {filthy} kitchen counter.

* If you are already an Amaryllis aficionado, then you probably know that nursery grade bulbs produce even bigger flowers. Therefore they are considerably more expensive. American Meadows is a great resource for them. And, no, they did not pay me to say that. Every Christmas, a gardening friend of mine gifts me with one of their bulbs. Thanks, Hazel! My premium bulb hasn't bloomed. Yet.

Happy January Gardeners! Let's make it a pretty one.

Amaryllis bulbs will re-bloom. (Though they rarely bloom as prolifically as they did the first time.) I'm far too lazy to do this but here's how: Set your bulb flower pot in a shady spot in your garden. Leave her out there, all summer, until after the first light freeze. Snip the greenery. Store in a cool, dark box, or closet, for 6 weeks. Then bring her out, give her a sip of water and watch her do her stuff. (Probably 10 weeks to bloom time.)