Infrastructure and Aliens

During the late fall and early winter, Kevin (MLG) and I continued to make improvements to the garden. By that I mean that I would have half of an idea, and ask him about it, and he would improve on the idea and actually do the hard work of making it happen.

And here’s what I mean by Aliens. No, not Sophie, although she is a rather strange little dog. See all that dead dry stuff at the top of the stones? Remember when that was a cascade of pretty green wire plants? Yes, the aliens are those stinkin’ moles or voles. they just love tunneling along next to the rocks and so I think they completely destroyed that plant. It is pretty hardy, so I am waiting to see if it might return. Also, see all those little white fences haphazardly placed in the middle of that bed? That’s my version of trying to keep Noah out of there. It seems that its become one of his favorite digging places. I bought a pack of plants at Costco, and so I planted bleeding heard, astilbe, and a fern in there. Its a pretty shady bed, so hopefully these plants will do well. I also bought some stuff at Costco that is supposed to bother the breathing/nasal passages of varmints, so I sprinkled some in there. I noticed as I was sprinkling that it smelled slightly of garlic. So sure enough, when I let the dogs out, they were very interested in smelling it. For some reason they have never been interested in smelling the moles.


When my BF was visiting last summer (doing my post-op care) she had the idea to widen this bed and add an extra row of stones. EXCELLENT idea!! I’m very happy to have more room for planting here. Right now I have daffodils and tulips that I got from John Scheepers in there.


At the beginning of this bed, we had the fringe plant. It wanted to grow bigger and bigger, and I didn’t like it there anymore, so Kevin dug it up and moved it to the back of the garden. Now I’ll have room for some pretty annuals there. Right now, of course, more tulips.


And this narrow front bed. Something I actually did myself. I had an herb garden there. But I never used the herbs, and they were a MESS. I pulled all of them out, and Kevin put some kind of border thing to keep the bricks in place. And now I have a place for pretty plants when I drive up. More tulips right now (John Scheepers had a great deal on tulips last fall 🙂 )


Okay. This front bed… I called it the prison garden. Because to keep Noah out of it, we had it very tightly guarded. So guarded that I couldn’t even get into it to weed or garden or anything. That was bugging the daylights out of me. So I stopped at Home Depot yesterday and bought two kinds of fencing. I am going to have Kevin choose which fence to use and have him reinforce the fence because otherwise, Noah will still knock them down (this just happens to be the place he loves to stand and bark.) But now I will be able to get in there. I planted a couple of the astilbes and ferns here because between the honeysuckle and the cherry tree it is mostly shaded.


Ah. What is this a picture of? Well, in that empty spot there was a HUGE Rose of Sharon. I didn’t think it was worthy and had been thinking of removing it. Well. When I went over there to inspect, the moles had completely eaten the roots away, so that made my decision easy.


And, here I removed that rose that always grew into the oak tree. I think either it was a rogue rose or  maybe it got too much shade. Either which way, it went home with Kevin who loves to rescue plants.


And lastly. This is the infrastructure that probably pleases me the most. As I’ve said many times, the ground where I live is very rocky. So this area between my back stairs and the chicken coop was very uneven, and I would stumble a lot when walking out there. I discussed with Kevin, and between the two of us we came up with the idea of using some of the free mulch that the tree guys had left in my back driveway. Kevin put a nice little border there to contain it, and I just love walking out there morning and evening. Very nice and even and soft to walk on.



Some of this stuff is very discouraging to me. Especially those varmints. But on the other hand, I remind myself that a garden is always a work in progress, and most of what’s happened is just an opportunity to change and improved the garden. I’m excited for spring to arrive and to get new plants to make it all pretty again.


Just in Time for Winter

I’ve said several times that we’ve had an unusually mild winter. A few weeks ago, things started blooming.

My little flowering quince that I “bonsai’d” last fall:


Daffodils started appearing:



A few hyacinths started popping up:


And of course, violets, one of the earliest harbingers of spring:


The pink camellia has even put out a few blooms:


And my heuchera? Usually it is just sticks at this time of year. It never stopped blooming!


I bought a 15 pack of primroses from Costco and have been enjoying their cheerful color when I drive up. Its been warm but so dry that I have had to water several times already.


And of course last fall I planted 80 tulip bulbs and I think about 50 daffodil bulbs. They have all started popping up…


Just in time for winter. We have a week of weather predicted with temps in the 20’s at night and snow and ice predicted. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen…



Today is exactly six months since I had my knee replacement surgery. And sure enough, just like so many people reassured me, I am feeling pretty great. Its amazing to me how much stronger I am with just one knee being in better shape. Carrying 50 pound sacks of animal feed is not such a big deal any more.

Starting probably a week before Christmas, I started taking longer and more vigorous walks. Three days a week, I take the longer walk, go up and down my back stairs 5 times, and do my P.T. exercises and stretches. The other three days I go to the gym and do the weight machines, and I have steadily increased my time on the bike–now I’m up to 40 minutes.

Last week I had some work done on my car, and so I told my friend that I would meet her at the end of my road. Its only a mile and a half, but it includes that big steep hill. I haven’t walked up that hill for a couple of years. And it was not bad–my knee felt great!

I’m so grateful to all of you who took the time to write and encourage me with your own, or your friend’s experiences.

Just because I haven’t included pictures for a while, here’s a couple of the dogs.

Chloe and Zoey sharing their bed-perch:


And Bessie looked so funny relaxing in her fireside perch, I went to take a picture, and of course, Sophie photo-bombed it. She can hear a camera from a mile away!


Merry Christmas to All!


This year the word I seem to use most often is relaxing. I say to others, “I hope you have a wonderful relaxing Christmas!” I wish the same to all of you, my friends.

For unto us a child is born,

Unto us a son is given,

and the government shall be upon his shoulder.

And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,

The Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

This ‘n’ That

I got lots to talk about. First, I thought I’d share a few more pictures of the trees changing color in my yard. It was a very short season of color, but I enjoyed every moment of it.


Red Emperor with Lemon Lime in front:


That’s the dogwood to the left. Even if it doesn’t bloom in the spring, it is always beautiful in the fall.


Recipes and foodie ideas. Lately I’ve been trying out some new recipes. I saw an old picture on my computer which looked like I was trying to make some cranberry-pecan scones. I looked through my blogs, and apparently I never posted anything about it. So I did a google search for cranberry pecan scones and came upon this recipe. When I saw it was from Prevention magazine, I thought it might be slightly healthier than other recipes. It wasn’t as low cal as I usually try for, mostly because it had more nuts and cranberries than I would usually add. I LOVED this recipe. I realized at the end that it had absolutely no sugar in it, so I made a small amount of sugar glaze to put on it at the end. Of course I made a few substitutions. I actually didn’t have enough pecans, so I used walnuts. And I didn’t have whole wheat flour, so I ground some oats in my mini food processor and used that instead. I really like the way oats taste in baked goods.

Then a couple of weeks later, I wanted some real banana nut muffins. And I found this recipe.I liked it too! The title said they were healthy. Once again I ground oats to use as the flour. I did use about 1/4 cup of regular wheat flour. Oh, and I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted honey. But I did make a note to myself that they were too sweet. So I will try again without the honey after I finish all of these.

I’m eating more eggs. I like them scrambled for dinner with some onions, potatoes, spinach, and sometimes a few bacon crumbles.

One day I wanted some salsa. And even though I haven’t made it for ages, I suddenly remembered how easy it was to make. I put two roma tomatoes and one slice of onion in the mini food processor. I added salt and pepper and some cilantro, and then just a bit of balsamic vinegar. YUMM!!!

Sunday I had my sister and her husband over for a pre-Christmas dinner. I get occasional emails from a dietician, Vincci Tsui. She has changed from a “diet” dietician to a HAES dietician, which is interesting. Anyway, one day she mentioned this gingerbread cake. It caught my eye because the recipe was from a famous quilter who used to be a food blogger. So I made the cake. It was moist and delicious. I did not make any substitutes for this recipe. I found a buttercream recipe and iced it with that.

Well, its Christmastime and for me that means baking a few things. I forget how much I enjoy baking. To keep things under control, I limit myself to making one kind of cookie and one candy (which is always my grandma’s cinnamon walnuts.) This year I found a recipe for traditional scottish shortbread, which seemed exactly the same as the one our grandma used to make. You have to work all the butter into the dough with your fingers. Which takes a long time. Anyway, they came out perfect. It was a fun gift for my sister–two of our grandma’s favorite confections. I also made my mom’s favorite fruitcake. I know. Nobody likes fruitcake. But honestly, if you saw the recipe (lots of butter) and smelled the house (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and brandy) you would like it too! Its not so filled with that stupid fruit. I only put some of the cherries, and dates and pecans in it. And then you put a little brandy on it every day for two weeks (or until you have to take it to your mom’s.)

The takeover. I have a small log holder next to my wood stove. But several years ago, the girls claimed it as the best most warmest spot in the house. So I made a pillow to fit in it for them. Bess usually occupies the spot (because Sophie would rather be on my lap) but occasionally Sophie gets first dibs. I couldn’t believe it when Bess very gingerly stepped up onto the throne in an attempt to takeover the spot. There was no fighting or carrying on. Just a gentle takeover.




Well, that’s quite long enough for now. If I don’t post again, I hope you all have a Wonderful Peaceful Merry Christmas.


Yep. Its that time again. Today’s my birthday. The celebrating started on Friday 🙂 I went to see that movie, Wonder. Its so good–not just about the little boy, but about the whole family.

Here’s some things I’ve learned this year.

Its good to be flexible. You know how I like things the same, and I like my plans. But if I can be a little flexible, and be willing to change plans without getting all in a dither, that’s a good thing.

One day before the big quilt show in October, I was getting dressed in my hotel room. I was going to meet my BF there, and also probably see other people I knew. I was, as usual, feeling a little insecure about how I looked and wishing I weighed a lot less. And then I had an idea. I got completely dressed, and before I looked in the mirror, I said out loud, “I AM SIXTY-THREE YEARS OLD!!” And then I looked in the mirror, and thought I looked fabulous. I can’t tell you what a difference this has made to me. Try it–whatever it is, your life experience, being the mother of four children, or just your age–try it. There’s no reason ever to be unhappy with how we look. That reminds me of another post I’ve never written–“looking for beauty in all the wrong places”… there is beauty to be seen everywhere in the world. Trying to find a pair of jeans that makes our butt look better IS NOT where we should be looking for beauty.

I feel great. My knee is still improving, and my heel finally stopped hurting for the most part. I am starting to challenge myself, especially aerobically, in my walks and at the gym. Noah looks up at me as if to say, “what’s the hurry?”

Building a “luxury” chicken house and yard, and letting myself get more chickens than is necessary is the most fun present I’ve given myself this year. I just enjoy all the parts of being a chicken farmer. I am getting a lot of eggs now, and I will probably start giving some to the local food bank. I have a couple of other ideas about selling them, as soon as the chickens regulate their egg size a bit more.

Sometimes following a recipe is a good idea. I finally re-made that Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal  WITH the pumpkin in it, and its delicious 🙂 A friend of mine told me she makes her oatmeal in the microwave, using old fashioned oats. You just have to use a super big bowl (because it will boil over) and microwave for 4 minutes. Yumm. I’m eating oatmeal again.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to have a fun birthday day, doing what I most enjoy doing 🙂