Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pies, Puppy Love and Forcing Pretty Flower Bulbs

Trust me. You're gonna want to see these bright bloomers, indoors, come February.

Woke to the first truly cold winter morning, and since I have a partially house-trained puppy living with me, we were outdoors, in seconds flat, to prevent an accident that could ruin the day.

Loud crunch of ice beneath my feet. I soaked in the sunlight, dressed in a long coat and hat, to hide the fact that I'm still in my jammies.

And, I intend to stay in those jams for several more hours! Savor a cup of cowgirl coffee and gently ease into the day.

Which is just one more reason why I love winter. (Quiet season for this horse and flower lover.)

I guess if I died and came back as a flower, I'd be a Tulip. Because they only flourish after a prolonged deep freeze. And, I need winter to recharge my batteries.

Or, maybe not. Tulips are weak and I'm a survivor.

So, I'd probably be an Allium bulb.

Forcing Allium bulbs requires 12 weeks in your refrigerator.*

Critters don't eat Allium bulbs. They're aromatic members of the onion family.

Allium Schubertii is a favorite Allium bulb of mine. Though I prefer growing her indoors, where it's easier to appreciate her odd, delicate, flowers and stems.

Plus, my morning hair is almost as crazy looking as the Allium Schubertii bulb before I take a shower.

Well, here it is, a few days before Thanksgiving.

I've spent the week in my hand cast. [Having elected to break that hand by trying to fix the garage door.]

During which time I have not improved any left-hand writing or typing skills.

However! I have wrangled the dictation app on my computer into submission and I'm really enjoying the insanity of talking to my computer and seeing what it types. (As I am doing right now...)

Store Tulip bulbs in the crisper drawer of your 'frig for 8 weeks. They'll bloom indoors in a sunny window.

I'm assigned pies for the big Thanksgiving feast and I absolutely hate making pies. Because it always begins with perceived failure on my part. 

I have never been able to beat Pillsbury at the pie crust game. Their pie crust tastes better. So, no matter what type of pie I'm creating, it goes into a store bought crust and that, somehow, feels wrong when you're preparing for the ultimate, annual feast.

Paperwhites DO NOT require forcing: buy 'em, plant 'em, love 'em.
But, I did go buy the goodies for Maple Pecan, Sweet Potato, and a Sky High Apple Pie. That should teach the powers that be not to assign me Thanksgiving pies. Because nobody is getting pumpkin on my watch.

I've never actually tasted pumpkin pie. It's too brown and gushy, I'm pretty sure I would hate it. Whenever I admit that, some weirdo scoops up some pumpkin pie - onto their fork - shoves it in my face and says: Oh, give it a try.

Like I'm gonna do that. During flu season.

Hyacinth are the easiest bulbs to force and their fragrance is sooo delightful.

So, anyhoo back to those bodacious bulbs.
Now's a good time to tuck some away in your refrigerator.

Not to plant next to year. To enjoy in February when nobody - including me - has an ounce of love for the never-ending winter.

With any luck, the picked over remnants of autumn flower bulbs are marked down to a dollar a bag at your local Home Depot. [Or whatever big box store is near you.] So, buy a few and let's have some fun.

Tulip skin hats on these indoor coming attractions.

* If you get online you'll find a plethora of websites providing laborious detailed instructions on forcing flower bulbs.

Step One: Turn off your computer. Laborious instruction makes me crazy because it is very discouraging to new gardeners.

If you're nervous about forcing bulbs, plant these Mexican Shell Flowers. They do not need forcing and they'll make you look like an indoor gardening rock star!

I force bulbs every winter. Here's what I do and it works like a charm:
  • Store bulbs in a paper bag (keeps the light out) - in the crisper drawer of your freezer.
  • Remove any fruit from that crisper drawer.
  • Ignore those bulbs for 8-12 weeks. 
  • Haul 'em out. And, watch 'em go hog wild.
  • Easy peasy. 

Uh.. but just to be clear. Don't try forcing peas. :)

Hope you're all having a marvelous weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2015

1 Arm Bandit

Tip: Soak your orchids, once a week, for 30 minutes, with a tsp of basic fertilizer - they'll happily re-bloom.
I wake, wincing in pain. Pop two of the killer pills, fall back onto the bed. Awaiting a miracle and marveling, once again, at how effective painkilling drugs can be.

"I'm all busted up.
Broken bones & nasty cuts.
Accidents will happen,
But, this time I can't get up."
- Green Day

How do those pills know where to go? And, if they are so adept at racing through your body to fix painful problems... why can't we invent one for my badly damaged pride?

Death Bed Tulips from my darling daughter.
Spent the better part of Thursday in the ER. Stitches, pins & needles galore. All because my garage door broke. And, Little Miss Independence, here, thought she could fix it! You know, skip that dang repairman! Save a buck.

Instead, the panels of the garage door snapped together wrecking a perfectly good right hand in the process.

It's Cactus Time! I love this peach color...
Ever been in shock?

I think this was my first time. Panic. Terror. Staring at the bloody mess that used to be my hand. But, the weird thing is I didn't feel any pain. So, I think that's shock but I don't know for sure.

Super fond of the traditional hot pink variety, too.
Thankfully, there is an emergency room two blocks from my house.

I can do this. I said to myself.

I can do this. Repeated it several times. As if talking to myself is some kind reassurance? Words to make this cowardly lioness a wee bit braver?

But, I did it. I wrapped the hand, got in the car, and drove myself to the emergency room, where I stood there shaking and crying and covered in blood.

And, then.

Wait for it.... {and enjoy the massive concern my wee pup feels for my condition.}

Wait... for... it.... {and observe the guilt trip from the lazy arse cat who sleeps 23.5 hours per day.}

The [alleged] doctor took one look at my bloody appendage and says: Oh, this is way too serious for us! You should go to the hospital! Do you know where it is?


Tip: Photograph your groovy flowers in front of a turned off t.v. Makes a great, reflective background.

So much for that Hippocratic Oath.

But, nothin' drags you back into the real world quicker than a lazy, uncaring, unfeeling, medical professional.

Shock be damned, off I went to the real ER where they stitched me back together and told me I'd be as good as new... in another 6 months.

Until then it's just me and the iPad. And, my 4-legged nurse.

Here's hoping you all had a better weekend than me. :)

Friday, November 06, 2015

Pal O Mine

Softly falling, fluffy, flakes of snow... the kind that tickle your nose and melt when they land... accompanied us on our morning walk.

A grey, silent morning along Poison Creek (terrible name for such a pretty place.) The only sound is that of a scampering puppy dashing back and forth through the tall grass. Playing hide & seek.

I love deep autumn. It is vastly underrated. Brilliant leaves have given way to a world of golds and browns. Textures taking center stage. A chill in the air that inspires you to move farther, faster.

I didn't see any of this last year. I didn't 'have' to. As in 'have to' get out there, 4 times a day, and walk a sweet, rambunctious puppy. When it's cold. Or, rainy. Or, snowing, as it was this morning.

"Oh, my gosh! Puppies are so much trouble!" exclaims nearly everyone who's met this new pal o' mine.

Well, that's precisely why I got him. Besides. Who could resist this mug?

I just celebrated another birthday. Birthdays are awesome! You get cake and presents and you're queen for a day.

Then some idiot asks you what's on the agenda for the upcoming year. Now that you're older.

And, there it is. The downside to birthdays. Once that sugar high wears off from all the cake and ice cream, you're left to deal with the dreaded truth: I'm not getting any younger.

What to do?

Confront my demons?

The inertia of old age is a slippery slope.

As I thought about this coming winter... I realized it would be quite satisfactory to slip into last year's routine of a crackling fire, a good book and a bottle of wine.

Or! I could move more.

But, it's hard to hoist my heiny off the couch when it gets dark at 5 p.m.

So, I purchased my very own Energizer Bunny! Who doesn't drink wine. Who'd rather eat books than read them. And, who thinks lolly gagging around the house is a waste of a good day.

Plus, he's always up for a road trip.

Meet Charlie. Charles Joseph Reginald Barkley, Junior. (Because no one can agree on the best name for this darling.)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Story of the Traveling Plants

This Hollyhock began it's life in South Dakota in my Mom's Garden.
I took the Hollyhock seeds with me to Minnesota, planted in my first Garden.
Then I took the seeds with me to Park City, Utah, planted in my next Garden.
And, again, when I moved to the ranch house.
Now these seeds are on the move again...

'Tis Labor Day weekend and I was up early harvesting the slowest growing tomatoes on the planet. They are still green and this is my fault* because I've completely ignored the veggie garden all summer long.

Too busy moving plants.

Helianthus (best to divide these plants and grow from roots.)
Last November, I rented the ranch house, where I used to live. Moved back into town, into the 2nd house, I've owned forever, where I began gardening 12 long years ago.

Tiger Lilies (best grown by seed.)
It's all part of a convoluted plan to sell both houses ~ and I wanted to sell the city house first.

But, when I got here, I was shocked and appalled at all of the damage long term renters had inflicted upon this poor, little house. So, the garden budget was diverted to fixer upper tasks, instead.

(Be careful with this gal. She grows easily from seed & will take over your garden very quickly.)

Back to those traveling plants.

I have spent the entire summer going back and forth from my old house to the new. I've got my trusty bucket. My handy dandy garden fork. And, half an acre of pretty perennials to choose from.

The jungle that is my wildflower garden.
I go back to the old gardens, on the old property every week. It's kind of like I'm shopping, but not nearly as much fun as drooling at all the goodies in the nursery. :)

But, it's saved me a fortune! I stroll through my old gardens picking and choosing: I want you. And, you. And, you, too! I dig up a few of my faves, take them back to town and transplant them into my 'new' gardens.

Daisies (best as a transplant) and the last of the Columbines (better planted from seed.)

I'm over there digging in the dirt, pleased as punch with my selection of chosen transplants when I realized... Hey! I remember you. Turns out I was bringing some perennials back to the city house that got their start there 12 years ago.

Because, you see, I was broke when I moved into the ranch house, too. So, I was, essentially, doing the same darn thing - just driving in a different direction. Stealing perennials from the city house and transplanting them out at the ranch. :)

* Some perennials do better when transplanted by root, others by seed. Hollyhocks, in particular, prefer to grow from seed.

On other items of national importance... This was a much, much happier week than last.

Played hooky from work (always a fun thing to do) and took another ride in the Faerie Forest. At 9,000 feet elevation, autumn has already arrived.

My horse absolutely loves exploring new trails. In fact, she was having so much fun on this ride I decided to film her with my iPhone. So, hop on Sable and take a virtual ride with me:

Tomato Tip:
Did you know...? If you remove a couple of tomatoes from the plant the others will ripen quicker. More plant energy going to fewer fruits speeds up the process. Removing leaves and suckers help, too.

Most gardeners don't need to bother with that. But, this high up in the mountains the nights are already dropping below 50 degrees (F.) Which can be the kiss of death to a homegrown tomato. If it stays chilly at night, the plant will convert it's sugar production from fruit to vine (in a grand effort not to freeze to death.) And, you'll end up with tomatoes that taste almost as bad as the ones in the grocery store. :)

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

This, That, and The Other Little Thing

Big Love: Sable is so tall, I need to stand on that truck tire to get into the saddle. 
But, I don't care. I love her.

Enjoyed some much-needed horse time, yesterday, with my best friend. Here she is, standing politely at the barn door, waiting for her oats. I would imagine that most folks visiting this blog are garden gals, not horse people.. so plz allow me to point out an interesting tidbit about this photo.

Look close -- she isn't wearing a bridle or a halter. Because she's not tied up; she never is.

The gates to this boarding facility are wide open, and she could run away, but she won't. Because she likes me! And, we're a team. (Plus, I've got opposable thumbs and I know how to unlock the oat bin.)

 Cowboy Bob photo-bombs our ride through the Fairie Forest. (Me & Sable, left.)

Lots of folks, who consider themselves 'horse experts' have been very critical of me for giving her this amount of freedom.

One guy, in particular, burdened me with an extra long lecture on why that was a terrible thing to do.

Sable & I are members of the 'Between the Ears' club. A national group of horse lovers who photograph all the amazing places we've been, and sites we've seen, between the ears of our beloved horses.

When I asked that guy why he never lets his horses run loose... even if they're fenced in on their property. To graze on the grass in their front yard, or whatever... he replied:  

Because we couldn't catch 'em when it's time to put them back in their stalls.

So, lemme get this straight. I'm doing it all wrong because my horse actually likes me and won't run away? 


Note to self: 

I spend way too much time listening to critics. 

And, not nearly enough time messing with their heads.

I would also like to point out that... Roy Rogers could just whistle for Trigger and he'd come a runnin'. So there.

Good Eats!
This big bumble is having the time of his life!

I slept outside Thursday night! Purely by accident! :-)

Returned home after 2 days of meetings...mentally drained, laid down on the couch -- out on the deck -- to enjoy the pretty flowers and listen to the birdies sing. Woke hours later to a near full moon.

That was so cool!

This week was 2016 marketing plans meetings - where you sit for 2 days in a windowless room and try to come up with a good idea.

Hardy Lobelia is a great, late bloomer for your garden.

I'm - allegedly - a marketing consultant but since I specialize in web-only advertising, they all think I'm a computer programmer. And, nothing I say, or do, will ever alter that opinion.

* I could try to educate them.. but, in my little world... nobody ever listens, or learns.

More Hardy Lobelia -- if you don't care for red, the purple is absolutely stunning. (Pay no attention to how badly that fence needs painting. :)

Being typecast drives me crazy & I've been thinking about that ever since the PR person cornered me at the end of those two long days ~ at the precise moment when everyone was eagerly packing up their stuff to leave.

Seriously? You've been sitting here for 2 solid days and now you need some of my time? Well, my Mama always told me to take a compliment whenever, wherever I could get one. This gal clearly values my opinion! So, I agreed.

Turns out her smartphone was acting dumb and since I'm a computer programmer (in her mind) -- she wanted us to go have some wine and fix this thingamajig! {Sheesh}

Now, you can't just have wine in Utah. 

There's a law against having that much fun. (Alcohol must be accompanied by food.)

So, we ordered some appetizers and waited for what felt like forever for that wine to show up - all the while she was explaining, in painstaking detail, what was wrong with the blessed phone.

I knew exactly what was wrong with it (one does not need to be a computer programmer to fix a damn phone) so once I got her to shut up I took the phone and began to re-set that thingamajig. And, then! She pissed me off...

"So, Kate, do you have a boyfriend?" She asks.

What am I, fourteen? I thought to myself. I politely handed her back her phone and explained that I had no idea how to fix it. Which was a big, fat lie.

Still mad about that!

And, in the grand scheme of life, it is such a little thing!

To everyone but me.

I guess I'll just end up going to my grave -- without having landed on the ultimate, snappy comeback to the most commonly asked question in my life.

Nobody wants to hear how I can train a horse to do what she's told without those ropes and ties that bind.

No. no. The only item of interest is why in the world I have chosen not to get re-married. Isn't that kind of bleeding obvious? I didn't want to.

Seems to me that by the time we reach this 50-something period of our female lives, certain things shouldn't matter. Women could be handed more respect. Without ageism. Sexism. Stereotypical Stupid-ism raising it's ugly head.

Admittedly, I'm sensitive to that question because I have to answer it all the time.

So, I just thought I'd throw this silliness out into the universe ~ in case any of the rest of you have situations like this that make you kind of bonkers. If you have a snappy comeback I'd be delighted if you would share....

Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful week in the garden!

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