Monday, February 23, 2009

Phal Pals

Been tryin' to be good. Very good! With my Orchid care. She's in a nice bright spot. Gets a drink every Monday. Should I get the wild idea to meddle, there's a post-it note reminder on her flower pot telling me to: Back Off.

The Rules: Don't move her. Don't touch her. Just consider yourself lucky she's not dead yet.

I'm an orchid newbie. Haven't a clue what I'm doing. Though I'm firmly committed to keeping her alive longer than the last one.

That wasn't too hard to do. Knocked the last one off her pedestal the day after I got her. Couldn't face the disaster of that busted stem so I tossed her into the compost pile and remained in denial for months.

This big girl has been blooming for 5 weeks, now.

Each week a new flower joins the party. Seven passionate purple blossoms. Two buds to go.

I doubt I'll ever be one of those purists who tries to coax them into re-blooming but she is a definite bright spot in this long and dreary winter...

* Newbie observation: That long, weird stem of hers keeps growing and producing new buds. When I brought her home, she held 6, dropped 1. Now we're up to 9. :D

** My gal pal, Phal Pal, is a Phalaenopsis Moth Orchid. Allegedly one of the easiest to grow. But, then they've never known me on a good, clumsy day.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trouble @ the Top o' the World

"The distinguishing mark of true adventure is that it's often no fun at all while it's actually happening." - Kim Stanley Robinson + Maxine, Irene & Bad Dog*

Me & Bad Dog on top of the world.

This week's Friday Afternoon Club required snowshoes, poles and LOTS of complaining.

I find it very comforting to bitch, non-stop, all the while I'm walking uphill. (Try it. You might like it!)

In fact, on this brutal, 2-mile trek up the side of this mountain, I invented a couple of brand new swear words!

But, it wasn't until we took the The Short Cut Down that I fully developed Tourettes Syndrome.

We were tired, impatient and... oh, okay... maybe just a little bit stupid.

Because we got this bright idea to slide down the mountain on our rear ends. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Plus, that would HAVE TO speed things up so we could get to dinner quicker.

It was a blast. Right up until we hit the ledge, could go no further, and realized we had to climb all the way back up... in snow deeper than the dog.

Choo to the rescue. This poor, unsuspecting hiker stood at the top, giving us moral support, for the better part of an hour as we climbed back up to the trail.

* Learnin' somethin' new: On this hike we discovered our Mothers had christened both of us with the most ridiculous middle names. Mine is Irene, KC's is Maxine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monstrous Delphiniums or Dainty English Ladies

On the sorry day I kick that proverbial bucket I'd like my epitaph to read:

Now ya tell me.

Seems like all the really good information arrives the day after there's no turning back.

Take last night, for instance, when I lovingly planted 15 cups of Pacific Giant Delphinium seeds. Nurseries display dwarf versions of these monsters every summer. Tempting, tantalizing blossoms are a guaranteed sell to any gardener with a weakness for blue. (They come in other colors but who cares?)

Pacific Giants ~ which grow as tall as me ~ bloom every July in my Traveling Garden. The garden doesn't actually travel. I do! Some folks collect bumper stickers. My Grandma collected goofy little spoons. I collect plants -- as in bringing home something special that reminds me of where I've been.

I purchased my first Pacific Giant Delphinium at the Tillamook Farmer's Market in Oregon ~ where I was told emphatically that they would never take to my mountain winters but they were wrong.

I'm pretty much sold on them. Or, at least I was until this morning. That's when I got online and discovered a new group of gardeners who are tearing out all the Pacific Giant Delphiniums and replacing them with English Delphiniums.

My immediate response was "I gotta get me some of those." But nobody sells them. And, when did Pacifics become hum drum?

What gives?
* Delfinio Mezcla Gigante Pacifico - Pacific Giant Delphiniums - USDA zones 3-7 - put forth an astonishing 4-8 foot tall display of bright blue flowers in July. They are typically sold in mixed colors but if you're a mean Mom like me, you can remove the white, pink and lavender so you are blessed with a heart-stopping true blue bonanza.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Must Love Livestock... ?

I just wasted $3.99 on that romantic chic flick, 'Nights in Rodanthe' and I want my money back.
Love In a Mist: Crazy little heirloom.

Like everyone else in the U.S. of A, I was at a Superbowl party a few Sundays ago. Mine was extra interesting because it was hosted by a man I've had a crush on for far too long. [He's tall and handsome so, naturally, he doesn't even know I'm alive.]

I don't watch Superbowl for the commercials. Nor do I care for the game. I'm in it for the food! I've been a tenacious little calorie counter all year long. The only time I get to misbehave is when I'm at somebody else's house!

To my dismay, there wasn't much food. And, the other guests seemed genuinely interested in watching the game, though that gave me ample opportunity to snoop around his house ~ unsupervised!

My first big observation was that his place was spotless. [I fondly recall the last time my house was spotless. It was the day before we moved in.]

Then I noticed he didn't have any pets. No cats, no dogs, not even a goofy, little hamster. I am DYING to know how you can raise kids and not get suckered into owning pets. I blame my current menagerie on my daughter's persuasive powers.

Pet people are easily understood:
  • Dog lovers are messy, loyal and loud.
  • Cat lovers are tidy, smart and a little more independent.
  • Horse lovers are absolutely wonderful. Perfect in every way.
And, me? As usual I cannot be labeled. Or squeezed into a specific category. I love all animals (hamsters, not so much.)

Nigella damascena 'Love in a Mist' is a pretty heirloom perennial masquerading as an annual. She has this weird foliage that tries to out-do the true blue flowers. After bloom, she produces insane seed pods that add great texture to the garden. She'll also reseed until you throw in the towel. But, that's a story for another day...

Monday, February 16, 2009


Painted Daisy ~ the first of my seedling army has sprouted!

From the indoors, looking out, it's a pretty day. Particularly if you're hard of hearing.

Bright blue skies... intense sunshine.

I've squeezed about 100 seedlings into the big, bay window. Each morning, I see a new green sprout peeking out of the soil.

The sunshine had me dreaming up all sorts of adventures for this [day off!] President's Day. That is, until I heard the loud roar of the wind.

Followed by the windows rattling. A thumping sound. Something is banging against the side of the house...? That can't be good.

1 lonely Tomato and 99 flowering perennials. Give or take a few dozen that will more than likely croak. Fingers crossed it's not my tomater.

If my little seedlings make it until planting season, hooray. I'll have a brand new garden.

If they don't, that's okay, too. Because they accomplished their primary goal ~ warding off cabin fever.

Thanks to plentiful storms, February can be a volatile month. So, it's kind of fun to dig in the dirt and plan for warmer days.

Upcycle! Leftover drink cups from the 4th of July party make great seedling containers, providing the depth seeds need for long, strong roots.

There's no real digging in the dirt going on here but then you already knew that, didn't you? Peat, perlite and vermiculite make a nice, loose soil-less soil that holds more oxygen, retains more water and has more nutrients than the stuff in your backyard. I like Jiffy seed mix but I DO NOT like Jiffy Peat Pots. They're too small and the mesh wrappers don't naturally break down in the soil.

* Here's a pretty good reason why I hate wind.

Friday, February 13, 2009


"We all need beauty. Places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." - John Muir

It pretty much depends upon the daily dose of vitamin D. If the sun is shining, chances are I'm surviving winter. When it's cold and icy? Down right nasty? Then I'm parked in front of the computer searching for cheap flights to Hawaii.

Note how Bad Dog walks politely behind? He's no dummy. Even with snowshoes the going is hard work. Best to leave this trail blazing to KC, the human.

Days like this, I'm not just surviving. I'm thriving. Lovely fresh, untouched powder blanketed our winter wonderland.

This week's Friday Afternoon Club took us deep into the snowy woods on the No Trespassing! trail. I won't tell you where it is, but judging from the tracks it's a pretty popular place.

Lilting from beneath this deep blanket of snow comes the trickling sound of running water. A happy, babbling brook serenades us all along our path.

That's the 1st sign of spring. The second? Tiny buds speckle the branches of all the deciduous trees.

Tired of winter? Perhaps you're looking at things all wrong. A walk in the woods can easily boost your spirits. Quit yer bitchin' and give it a try. :D

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dahlia Dilemmas

Looks like a Zinnia to me.

If Wunx and I can ever get our butts in gear, we're planning to build a website for the Utah Dahlia Society. Wunx is a designer and a web programmer and all sorts of other geeky things!

So, I happily partnered with her on this project knowing full well that 99.5% of the hard work would rest smack dab upon her shoulders.

My job would be to come up with a snappy tag line and then take a long lunch. I don't know that it's all that challenging or professionally rewarding being the writer. But it's certainly efficient!

So, last night I thought I'd put forth 5 of the 10 minutes I intended to invest in the web site and that's when I began to see the error of my ways...

Did you know there are over 50,000* named varieties of Dahlias? Including 3 of them in this blog post who have yet to be identified?

Fun facts to know and tell!

Dahlias may look bold and beautiful but they're wimps in disguise.
  • You have to dig them up in autumn or they'll freeze their little toes.
  • They are highly susceptible to hungry buggers.
  • They need a lot of water, fertilizer and TLC.
  • Last but definitely not least - they don't grow well in my clay soil. The whole reason I volunteered for this gig was because I thought they'd give me a few bulbs!
Knowing now what I know about Dahlias I've decided to stick with the Dahlia impostor in this blog post. Because she loves clay soil, winter slumber and an inattentive Mother (aka gardener.)

Can you tell which of these flowers isn't a Dahlia?

* The 50,000 varieties of Dahlias could be 20,000 varieties, depending upon which website you visit. Fingers crossed it's the latter...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

1 of Life's Little Lessons

Wednesdays are rapidly becoming my favorite day of the week. That's the day I drive down the mountain, to the lower valley, to learn some new tricks.

Self-help gurus always tell you to dive headfirst into something brand new in order to escape your deep blue funk. I can't stand self-help gurus! Why take advice from someone who has things all figured out? That's so rare it's suspect, if you ask me.

I dislike advice givers for the same reason I cringe at those [alleged] self-made millionaires in the infomercials. They all claim You, Too! can be rich ~ if you'd simply mail them a check for $29.95. (Whoa. If you've got so much money, why do you need mine?)

But, I digress...

This is Tina!

She's kind of a bad ass.

And infinitely more stubborn than I am.

We have a battle of wills every Wednesday afternoon. Sometimes I come out on top. Most days she trots off feeling quite superior.

I drove down there yesterday, hoping for good moods and a good lesson. I don't really need riding lessons, I'm a pretty good rider. But I've learned that with any extreme sport... skiing, horses, life, love... it only gets dangerous when you get sloppy.

When I got down there, I instantly knew something was wrong. The horses were fighting in the corral. They were kicking each other at the hitching post. They were all mad as hatters and that's when my trainer mentioned the mares are in heat.

I had to laugh. It suddenly dawned on me that we all have moods. Highs and lows, ups and downs. And, if we don't, well then it's probably because we stopped breathing.

PS: What do you do when a 1,200 pound girl starts to PMS? Get out of her way.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts grow as happily in Alaska as they do in San Diego.

So, I'm strolling around the blogosphere this morning and it seemed like half the people I visited were in unhappy moods. Some blamed the economy. Some the weather. Others didn't have a clue why they were so grumpy. In this last group I've found my kindred spirits.

Hard as I try, I cannot conjure a good excuse for feeling so down in the dumps.

Other than the sorry realization that TIME & BOREDOM are two of the most destructive forces I've ever encountered.

My biggest meltdowns always come when I have too much time on my hands.

I could take a road trip.
Clip on the skis and hit the slopes.
Give into Bad Dog's pressure and go play in the snow!

Instead, I've been wandering aimlessly around the house over-thinking every aspect of my life. Beating myself up over bad decisions. And, that's more than a little ridiculous. Because once you reach the ripe old age of 40-something you're pretty much guaranteed to have made decisions that (in hindsight) weren't very smart.

Now I know this will sound unbelievably shallow but hey, it's probably good to be at one with my own true self. So I confess: Reading the myriad of complaints from other people made me feel a little bit better.

So, my thought for the day is that maybe there is something to that 'safety in numbers' idea. And, as Omegamom so eloquently wrote: Some days it's just comforting to know I'm not alone.

If you've been wearing your heart on your sleeve, treat yourself to this beauty. (I know I plan to!) Dicentra Spectabilis, Bleeding Hearts, USDA zones 3-9, are shade lovers that put forth cascades of heart-shaped flowers in early summer. They're exceptionally easy perennials to grow and if you ask them nicely they'll even flower indoors.