Thursday, October 30, 2008


I hear them whispering behind my back. Nosy neighbors, witness to crimes unimaginable. And, now they're stirring up trouble:

"It's murder I tell you, murder most foul! This killing spree began early in springtime. We saw with our own eyes how she tortured those little flowers...

There was Death by Dehydration (RIP beloved Canterbury Bells.)

Death by Shameless Neglect! (I'll never forget you, Lord Baltimore.)

Death by Strangulation! (Who's got time to pull all those weeds?)

Death by Scary Critters! (No tippy toeing through the tulips for this little lady.)

Death by ignoring which growing zone I actually live in!
Goodbye my little cabbage. The icy fingers of a frosty night squeezed the life right out of you [and the rest of my heirloom veggies.]

Suddenly, without a sound. Without a warning of any kind...

A crime of passion that should have the neighbors gossiping well into the next decade.

The premeditated murder of every jolly little houseplant that had bugs or refused to bloom... Such senseless brutality!

I did it!

I was a lazy, lazy gardener this summer. Forgetting to water, forgetting to weed. I didn't fertilize my flowers even once all summer long. I planted a lot of goodies but my lazy ways upped the body count, big time.

flowerpowerhg3 In loving memory of all the little flowers who died waiting for Kate to turn on the sprinklers. I promise to do better next year.

PS: Happy Halloween :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feed 'em to the Birds

So you hosted your first (and probably last) Come As You Really Are Halloween Party. And, everyone from the neighborhood showed up.

Including Fat Bob in a pair of Superman tights. At which point, the rest of the crowd decided tequilla shooters might be a good idea, after all. And, then... well... no point in reliving the gory details.

It's only natural you'd want to put this behind you as quick as you can.

Salvage something from this disaster by disposing of the evidence in an environmentally friendly manner.

Lighten the burden on landfills. Chop up those Jack O'Lanterns and feed them to the birds. They love it! Any leftovers can be tossed into the compost pile.

What's that you say? You don't have a compost pile? Maybe you should start one. It's a whole lot easier than bagging up dry leaves.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here's to Sir Isaac Newton, inventor of the cat door.

I sometimes wonder if Newton's apple story is just that - a story - and he pondered gravity because he watched how his own cats defied it. Whenever I get that paranoid feeling I'm being watched, I look high up in the Ponderosa Pines and there I see my Buddy, perched at a precarious level, peering down at me with those Velociraptor eyes.

My neighbor has a mean 90-pound dog and I have a 10-pound cat. On the day I was cornered by this vicious, growling dog, my 10-pound whirling dervish flew off the porch and lit into my attacker. Buddy sizes up dogs on a confidence scale. This one never knew what hit him.

The problem with cats is really a problem with us. They're smarter than we think. Indoor cats get bored pretty easily and toys hardly ever do the trick. Try planting a little catnip. Indoor cats need chloryphyll in their diet. (Which is why they often destroy your house plants.) Mauling a catnip plant is a lot of fun for a bored kitty. (It’s even more fun if he thinks he’s not supposed to!)

Start catnip, by seed, in a sunny window. Sweet-tasting oat grass and Kat Grass make for good grazing, too.

Or, grow it in the garden. Seedlings need moist soil, but mature plants are very drought tolerant. (Harvest when it reaches about 1 foot tall.)

There are lots of exotic varieties though Nepenta cataria, common Catnip, has been voted best of breed by cats everywhere.

I recently discovered that Buddy is a Tuxedo Cat! Meet Bud's doppelganger.

How you behave toward cats, down here, determines your status in Heaven.
- Robert A. Heinlein

* Velociraptor, meaning speedy thief, was a small meat-eating dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bad Dog Takes a Walk

Oh, boy... I thought to myself as I was fighting on the phone with an unrealistic client. These days, everybody wants something for nothing. My workaday world has become so tiresome...

Then the 'Uh Oh!' sound that alerts me to new emails grabbed my attention and... my perfectly horrid rotten day turned out to be quite magnificent.

The email was from KC ~ who suggested bagging everything on today's agenda and marching to the top of the world. As in hiking the very steep Church Trail in Millcreek Canyon. It's pretty much straight up and down so maybe that's why they call it the Church Trail.

You can...
* Hike all the way up to Heaven.
* Or! Meet your maker when you have a heart attack half way to the top.

Me & Bad Dog doing what we do best: walking downhill.

In the Rocky Mountains we are blessed with beautiful wildflowers though I gotta tell ya... nothing compares to a perfect Autumn day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Orbits, Oxhearts & Little Finger Carrots

In spite of gloves and a warm sweater, I shivered as I harvested the last of the carrots. It's been near freezing at night for over a month, now, though a deep layer of mulch keeps my little, round carrots toasty warm.

In spring, I planted heirloom Oxhearts. (They look like golf balls.) In July, I planted Orbits (smaller, like gum balls.) The Orbits ~ which mature in about 60 days ~ are really fun to grow. This winter, I'm planting Little Fingers: super sweet mini carrots for indoor window containers.

My audience is not fiercely opinionated on what makes the perfect carrot, though they think you're nuts if you chop the tops off.
I hate carrots. Strange, but true. I've tried them raw, baked, broiled, steamed, buried under a mountain of brown sugar. Nothing snapped my socks.

Daughter, L, recently demanded to know how she could have sat at our dinner table for 18 long years and never been served a carrot. As an adult she's tasted carrots in all sorts of delightful dishes and she loves 'em. Which has me wondering if a switcheroo did, indeed, happen at the hospital way back when.

* The smaller the tastier when it comes to carrots.
* They'll keep forever in the fridge with adequate moisture. Try wrapping store bought carrots in a damp paper towel, then store in a ziploc bag.
* If you, like me, are too often served carrots, ask for a pony for your birthday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Handling the Heebie Jeebies

Hot Travel Tip: It's really cheap to visit Florida during hurricane season!
Weary of Wall Street shenanigans, we decided to get out of town for my birthday. (I'm 39! Again!)
We flew to sunny Florida, where everyone is rich and retired. Surely they won't be bitching about the economy...
Wrong. These days there's no escaping discussions of money & politics. Though (surprise!) global financial collapse seems to be that proverbial straw that has some people rethinking their Republican ways.
As we sat there talking politics (I wasn't talking politics; I was too busy drinking all their wine,) I kept hearing these words: common purpose, common good. Better for the country as a whole...

Wow. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be on the winning team this year.
Why so political?
I came home to lots of emails from people asking me who I'm voting for. Like they really thought I'd vote for Palin simply because she's a woman. She kind of looks like Bush in drag to me.

I don't care about gender. I don't care about race. I'm for animals and clean energy and living within our means. I am voting for Obama. So now you know.

You might also want to know that I was a Republican for many, many years. Back when they cared about the environment.

We spotted this big gal resting near the sidewalk as we were walking home from a fun day at the beach.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wunx & The Dahlias

Think you've got troubles?

How would you like to be Wunx? This poor, little Master Gardener labors day in and day out on her gardens...

But she lives across the street from Dahlia Dave. He's not a Master Gardener. So, clearly he doesn't know a damn thing about gardening.

And, yet.... he is totally kicking her ass! :-)
Dahlias are something we dare not touch. They are incredibly beautiful. But, like most beauty queens they are far too high maintenance for anyone who still has to work for a living.

Dying to grow Dahlias? Start with amended soil, consistent doses of fertilizer, daily trimming, coaxing and TLC. Oh, and by the way... After all that work, you still gotta dig 'em up before it freezes and coddle their little butts all winter long.

Leave it to the Witless Wanderer to discover a quick, clever way to enjoy their magnificent beauty without the toil and trouble. She talks her neighbor into growing them!

He's big into Mums, too:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Biscuits as Big as my Head

In a grand effort to ignore how the world is collapsing around me, I drove down the hill to the legendary Ruth's Diner.

The second you slide into your chair, they kindly hand you a plate of the most glorious fluffy biscuits known to man. Bonus! They're free.

Hmmm... I quietly thought to myself. If the stock market tanks any further, I'll be fine! I'll just tag along with my friends who still have jobs and eat the biscuits.

I was lunching with my 2 favorite Master Gardeners and their distraught patient, Mimi. Mimi is not actually the patient and that's probably why she is holding up so well. Her favorite tree, however, is heading to the promised land.

Well, that's not officially true.
  • Only 33% of us believe the Norway Spruce is a lost cause. [KC, you are such the cynic.]
  • The other 2/3 of this expert opinion poll [of 3!] are vacillating between chop it down and leave it alone.
Calling all Tree Healers. Mimi's beloved Norway Spruce has, indeed, seen better days. This 60-foot beauty is crammed into a very tight spot. Construction completely limits her root expansion on one side. The side that should receive and hold the most water, since it's on a steep hill.

The wood is strong, though the bark is splitting.

Sap seeps from the split bark, yet we cannot see visible pest problems.

So... how do we save this tree?

The impressive artwork in this blog post is courtesy of our new-found friend, (and clearly a nature lover!) Erica.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pickwicks, Puppies & Tête-à-Tête

Tuffy is worried about the economy. So am I.
"We're waiting for economic clarity." So says my favorite client after he canceled all the freelance projects I had on my list for this fall.

Aren't we all? I grumbled to myself as I pulled on my boots, hit the trail and tried to walk off this latest in a series of setbacks.

Desperate for good news. It came in the form of the UPS guy. My first box of bulbs arrived with 100 little mini Daffodils. (Tete-a-tete.)

Pickwick Crocus that (allegedly) blooms true blue.

Plus, 24 Darwins. Which didn't feel like such an extravagant purchase a month ago.

Darwin is the only Tulip I've found that truly behaves like a perennial ~ popping up with predictably pretty flowers, year after year.

Yeah, yeah... I swore I'd never plant another Tulip bulb but I just couldn't resist. I've got a thing for orange all of a sudden.

So, I confiscated some chicken wire from Almosta Ranch. Dug a big hole, layered it with wire mesh, filled it with soil, tossed in the Darwin Tulips and covered it with more wire mesh. Who knows? Perhaps this grand effort will keep the critters from eating my bulbs.

Last year's trick, sprinkling Red Pepper Flakes into the soil, didn't even slow them down...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gold Lake

At the end of a dirt road, high in the Colorado Rockies, is a little place called the Gold Lake Resort.
We descended upon this joint to help birthday girl, M, celebrate the big 5-0. That's just not possible, is it? That we're this old?
Well, M is that old. I certainly am not. And, I never will be. 'Cause I don't have birthdays anymore. So, there.

Roscoe, Chance, Blue & Ginger took us on a grand tour:

Television is redefined at Gold Lake ~

Come sunset, we relax in front of the 'TV' sculpture that perfectly frames Bald Mountain.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Purple Asters: Last Daisy Hurrah

In Autumn, Purple Asters is the name of my game. They are happily blooming in every nook and cranny.

What's so great about Asters? Well, if you're dreading the onslaught of winter, they're just about the latest 'Daisy' to bloom in the garden.

They're good eats for our favorite hobos... traveling bees, butterflies, and birds.

I've heard rumors that Asters come in white. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want a fall blooming white flower when we're inches away from a long, snowy winter but, what do I know...
Free Flowers!! Most of my Asters are wild. They began as weeds. After I discovered how pretty they were I promoted to them to flower status.

Natives worth nurturing: Blue Woods Aster, New England Aster, New York Aster.

I asked the waiter standing outside the door of the steakhouse to find a corner table for "me, my colleague and the butterfly."

"Right away, sir," responded the waiter, acting as if there was nothing extraordinary about a butterfly dropping in at a steakhouse... Read the rest of this marvelous story.

* What you need to grow Asters: Sun.
Yup, that's it. They grow in dry, wet, clay, sandy soils, too cold to imagine Canada and too hot to handle New Mexico. The Migrating Monarch Magazine recently reviewed them as the 'perfect flower dinner for a long road trip!'