Garden Report

The cherry tree! I remembered how, when I worked, I would take a walk on my lunch break, and go and stand underneath these two beautiful cherry trees. Those two trees were the inspiration for me to buy this tree. So I went out and stood under my cherry tree and tried to get some good shots. This is a flowering cherry (no fruit) and the blossoms are huge and fluffy. And pink 🙂

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I got a better picture of the fringed tulip. These were spectacular. I will be getting more tulips and daffodils from that John Scheepers company. All of the bulbs I ordered grew and bloomed. The daffodil, Narcissus Golden Echo, lasted forever! I went back and re-read the description, and one of the things they said about it was that it was “incredibly long lasting.”

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Then I walked over to get a picture of the lily-flowering tulips.

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I found a few pansies that Noah had not plundered!

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I turned around and thought that I’d take a couple of long views of the garden to share with you. the Japanese maples just glow in the early spring.

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And lastly, encouraged by Shelley’s new purchase, I bought myself a bougainvillea! Put it in one of my leftover big pots, and placed it near the fence. MLG even pruned up a couple of low hanging oak branches so it could get more sun. It will be an annual here, because it is not frost hardy. We had one when I was a kid in the Bay Area, and it covered our entire porch! I loved it.

Oh, and I couldn’t get a picture of it without the “Pile of things we might need someday” in the background… if the bougainvillea grows well, it might be able to hide that pile 🙂

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And that’s the garden report for the week. A garden this size takes a lot of time in the spring. I have spent a lot of time weeding and pruning and raking in the past few weeks, and very little time planting. I’m definitely getting quite a bit of that functional exercise!

P.S. I have to share a couple of pictures of the little girls. Every day I spend some time in the studio. The girls seem to enjoy spending time in their beds snoring while I stitch. Sophie, Bess, and Chloe got new sparkly collars. I looked at tons of collars, and finally figured out that the customized ones with their names on them were the most economical option!

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Little Fuzz (Zoey) likes to have a bed all to herself if possible.

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Something New!

Last Saturday I did something I’d been thinking about for years. I went to a bonsai class. Now I’ve loved bonsai since I was a kid. And when I moved back to California in 1986, I took classes from a bonsai master while I was in the Bay Area. Then I moved up here to the foothills, where its hot and dry all summer. Between the heat and the deer, I eventually gave up on my bonsai. Periodically over the years, I would buy little trees, and in fact I have quite a few right now still in pots. But bigger pots, where the roots won’t dry out so easily.

There’s been a notice on the checkout desk at the local nursery for years–bonsai class fourth Saturday of each month. FINALLY, I remembered to copy down the phone number, wrote it on my calendar, and actually went to the class. One of the motivating factors was this new drip watering system that we’ve put in. (That’s the royal we–MLG actually put it in.) When I was buying parts for the system, I saw “misters,” and actually bought a package. Those would be perfect for bonsai, I thought.

Anyway, off I went to bonsai class, and it was more wonderful than I could have imagined! The flyer said the teacher had some nursery stock for beginners to buy. I pictured a table with about 5 straggly plants on it. NO! He had probably an acre of bonsai trees of every type and style. Of course, the first two I picked out were “not for sale” and $300.00. Then I settled down and picked out a nice little tree for $20, including the nice pot! It is a Norway Spruce.

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There was a young woman there who was so friendly. We ended up sitting together and chatting quite a bit. (Side note: she is a world class power lifter–her deadlift is 440 pounds when she weighed 130 pounds!!) I went looking at more trees with her, and picked up a little Dwarf Persimmon, just because it was so cute, for only $5.

The teacher was excellent–gave two demos, and then spent time with each student individually. He is about 70 years old, and has been passionate about bonsai since he was 14 years old! He told the story of going to the state fair as a kid with his sheep, and seeing a bonsai master giving demonstrations, and said he spent more time at the bonsai booth than in the barn! There was also a man there who had a lot of experience with bonsai and we chatted a bit. He mentioned taking his daughter for horseback riding lessons in a nearby town.

This whole experience was so energizing, I can’t explain it. After I left, I had the thought that I was going to ask Dr. P if I could take horseback riding lessons after my knee heals! Another childhood interest that I gave up on. And the next day, while sitting in church, I had the thought that I might get a cello, and re-learn how to play. I played cello from third grade through being a senior in high school, and then foolishly sold my cello. Although, thinking back, I’m not sure it was foolish, because it might have sat and collected dust for many years…

Anyway, I don’t often try new things. There is only so much time in life for various interests. But this was such a great experience, I just might be more open to new experiences in the future.

More Scientific Stuff

Another issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter arrived. And I discovered that I am just like those darn scientists–I have theories, and I love it when other people agree with me!

So. I have pondered forever and a day about why we as a nation eat too much and so many of us fall into the obese category. I just can’t get on board with those who vilify certain food groups. Having been in the countries where they can ONLY eat grains, that can’t be the problem. And I had come up with a theory–it had to be the ABUNDANCE of food available in our country.

One of the things I’ve thought about lately is that ITS STILL THERE. Here’s what I mean. You can convince yourself that sugar is the devil. You can abstain from sugar, and you can even get to the point where “sugar is too sweet.” (I did this and thought this on a diet in my late 20’s.) Guess what? Thirty years later, sugar is still there. And it still calls to me.

Related to my abundance theory:  In my last diet attempt where I lost 25 pounds in a year, I noticed that limiting the amount of food I keep in my house helped me to limit what I ate.

So, last week the Healthletter arrived with a large review of many dieting trials,   concluding that no one method of diet restriction or food group elimination worked very well. Their theory at the end was the extreme availability of food in the marketplace seemed to be the main cause of obesity in the world today. I loved that they agreed with my theory of abundance. Now, their emphasis was on the availability of highly palatable processed foods–you know, that fat/salt/sugar combo. But I say that its just the extreme abundance of all foods. I am living proof that you can overeat really healthy foods.

This morning I looked in the fridge. I have a lot of fruit right now. And I get a feeling of pressure that I need to eat that stuff before it goes bad. I have a lot of lettuce. Ha! I can hear you all thinking, “she’s gone off the deep end. You can’t gain weight from lettuce.” No, but you can gain weight if the way you want to eat it is with a lot of higher calorie tasty mix-ins and some really great salad dressing.

I don’t really have a solution for this problem, except to think about what you need vs. what you want when you go to the grocery store. You don’t have to get ALL THE FRUIT on this trip. It’ll still be there next week when you go back to the store.

The Garden and the Chicken Coop

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Let’s start with some pansies! I got so tired of Noah (and now Chloe) eating all the pansies that I decided to haul this big pot outside the fenced yard. Better to feed the deer than be irritated at my dogs. I found a little piece of portable fencing to try to protect it from the deer. Within a few days, there were a million blooms!

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I am so happy that the lilac is blooming so well this year. Last summer MLG, with my direction, did quite a bit of pruning. They say that lilacs don’t particularly like pruning. I guess we did a good job!

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Most of the blooms are too high for me to touch, but this is the best its bloomed in years. I am happy.

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And now inside the yard and to the right. Those tall plants are the money plants. They are way taller than I thought they would be. Their blooms aren’t anything spectacular, but its nice to see blooms early in the season. I like the shape of the plants and the leaves are very pretty.

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Here’s a close-up of the fringed tulips in that bed.

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The flowering cherry is blooming.

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And the Japanese maples look so pretty when the leaves first come out.

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I can hardly wait for these foxgloves to bloom!

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Another view of more Japanese maples. You can see my car there, and a truck behind it.

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The truck belongs to J. the Contractor. Yes! The time finally arrived for the construction of the chicken coop. He and his helper were here for an entire week working on the house and yards! Here is the coop with the first yard that was built between the wood shed and the coop.

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Nest boxes can be accessed from the outside, and are built at just the right height for me–no need to bend over 🙂

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Nest boxes from inside the coop. The rail in front can be removed for easy cleaning.

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And a little ramp for the chickens to get outside each morning. There is a sliding door (that I can close from outside) to keep them safe each night.

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I started worrying that the yard we planned would not be big enough for the chickens, so I asked J. to build a second yard behind the coop. Both yards are connected by a simple gate. You can see my house behind the coop, so you know where its located. I like that I will be able to look out my kitchen window and my studio windows and see the chickens.

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And I thought I’d end with a lovely neighborly story. My neighbor is a wonderful gardener. Over the years she has shared many vegetables with me. This year she planted a lot of tulips. And twice, before a big storm hit, she has gathered some tulips and brought me a beautiful bouquet.

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I wanted to show you the white interior of these dark tulips–so dramatic! Tulips last a long time in the house–who knew?!

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Those Scientists!

Even though I don’t write about it much any more, I think about diet and losing weight and healthy living all the time. I watch you tube videos, read online and magazine articles, and sometimes even buy a book.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I get exasperated at those scientists! They are so gung ho on their theories that they present their information as FACT. They seldom use the word theory in their presentations. So even though you may watch two doctors giving two OPPOSING presentations about the best way to eat and lose weight, both of them will be presented as fact, not as theory.

I listened to one UC doctor who said that sugar was the enemy. His concluding thoughts were reasonable–stop drinking sugared soda. Then I listened to a very popular doctor who thinks that fasting is the solution to all our problems. As a nurse, he made statements of “fact” over and over that I know to be untrue. And aside from his enthusiasm for fasting, he actually adhered to a paleo diet.

Then, I decided to buy the book “Body Respect,” because I realized that I was having issues with feeling very poorly about myself and I did not like that. The title was something I was looking for. However, the author, who is also a doctor, presented pretty much the same message that she has in her previous book (Health at Any Size.) And as a doctor she presented many “facts” about why being overweight does not affect your health. To be fair, the goal of this book was to try to convince health care workers to be more compassionate in their care of the overweight person. But being very overweight does take a toll on your health, IMO. Also, to be fair, just reading this book, which did not really teach me anything new, did manage to calm myself down about how I feel about still being overweight.

And then I got my Nutrition Action Healthletter. Before I got it, I had thought that I would say that I still appreciate Marion Nestle’s advice about healthy eating. And there was an interview with her about how scientists can be swayed by industry funding and their own points of view! One quote from her: ” All researchers have intellectual conflicts of interest.” 

Bottom line: Read a lot, but don’t believe that everything in print is truth. Experiment and find out what works and doesn’t work for you. Later this week I’ll write more about what is working for me now in living the healthiest life possible at age 62 🙂