In The Garden

Since I came home from my quilt show a week ago, I’ve spent more time working in the garden. It seems like there’s a lot of catching up to do… my new drip watering system has made the weeds very happy :/ Here’s some photos of what’s happening. These are plants that seem to be enjoying the cooler weather we’ve been having.

The front flower bed. We’ve enlarged this bed a bit, and when winter comes, we will add more soil to it. When we first put it in, it wasn’t raised very much, and so there’s not that much good soil in there. This is what I see when i drive up to my house, and I enjoy seeing all the color.


I got a tuberous begonia, which mostly enjoys a cooler coastal weather. But since I got it in September, it has actually bloomed a bit for me.


This bed is past its prime, but like I said, the cooler weather has given some  of the flowers renewed vigor. Especially that one volunteer nasturtium.


Here’s the salvia with the rudbeckia(?). They’re a little crowded now, but they will both do so well next year.


I mentioned that this hydrangea turned green when it was past its prime, but then a month later the blooms turned pink. This bush is very rangy, but the flowers are so beautiful and last for so long, its worth it.


I got another dwarf flowering maple (abutilon). I love these crinkly blooms.


And here’s the zinnias, which you can see are crowding that rudbeckia. So very cheerful, and these blooms last a long time too!


And that’s the garden report for another week. Have a happy and safe weekend.


Something Different

Now don’t get all freaked out. This past weekend I went to the big Reptile Show in Sacramento. For over 30 years I’ve seen the billboards for this show as I drove to work. And every year I thought about going, but never made it. My brother LOVES reptiles, and had a variety of different snakes and lizards growing up. When we had our pet shop together, we always had a few snakes in the shop. I’m not afraid of snakes, as long as I know what they are, and know they are not poisonous. So anyway, this year I finally went to the Reptile Show!

There were a ton of vendors, and this is how they displayed all their baby snakes for sale–in these plexiglass cases. Weird, huh?


They had a huge educational exhibit of poisonous snakes, and I took careful pictures of each one to share with my brother. They are pretty creepy, so I won’t show you any of them–they had some of the most poisonous snakes in the world from Australia, and they had a huge Black Mamba. Over 40 poisonous snakes were on display!

But then I wandered around all the vendors. I found this one beautiful snake, and started talking to the guy who owned it.


He started telling me the story of how he developed that color, and I have always been interested in color genetics. And then he let me hold one of the babies!



I said I hoped this guy got a lot of chickens for dinner after putting up with this for two days.


I really like little alligators and crocodiles. When we had the pet store, I had a little Caiman (relative of alligator) for myself for a while. This is a Dwarf Crocodile.


They even had a couple of booths with these meat eating plants for sale!


And like I told my friends, that is enough reptile show for me for the next thirty years. But I’m glad I went.

On the way home I treated myself to a visit to a bead store. I have quite a few beads, but when I worked on a recent project, I realized I needed some more brightly colored and sparkly beads.


That was a really different weekend for me. I usually talk myself out of adventures like this in favor of staying home and doing what I enjoy most–quilting, working in the garden, and going to the gym.

An Excellent Day!

But first! I have other things to share with you. My blog life is somewhat divided. I have this blog, and then I have my quilting blog. But sometimes things overlap. I have been working for the past month on a big event. I was invited to teach my quilted embroidery and be the “guest artist” at Quilting in the Garden, which is held at one of my favorite nurseries, Alden Lane. I wrote about the event over on my quilting blog, in case any of you want to see more. It was a wonderful experience. Getting to share 40 of my quilts with the hundreds of people who came through was really special.


Here is part of my quilt display in their greenhouse:

IMG_3784 2

My sister came over to the quilt show and brought me two huge boxes of velvets and silks. When I got home, I went through them and divided them into 4 piles: for me, for my BF Robin, for the thrift store, and for the garbage. The garbage pile got thrown on the floor, and Sophie claimed it. “My treasure,” she says. This is what she does when anything new and even semi-soft lands on the floor. She sat on that pile for hours, until I finally picked it up and put it in the garbage. Don’t feel sorry for her, there are only about six dog beds that she can choose from to sleep in.


Chloe was Robin’s favorite when she visited. And so I started sending her a morning snapshot of Chloe, especially because I won’t let her get in my lap in the morning, and she does her best to get as close as possible–she must be touching me.




Okay, so today…. The day started out bright and early at 7am when Kevin arrived (MLG) to help with some chores. My neighbor (who’s been my neighbor for 29 years) is moving, and so she offered me some furniture. I don’t really have that much room, but I like this pine chest. It will be nice to have a place to display a few things without them needing to be dusted all the time.


And this green leather chair with wood carving–her parents brought it from Italy! Its so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. I’m not a huge fan of green, but its not a bad green. I had to move some furniture around yesterday to get these things to fit in my house.


Then it was on to other chores. My neighbor also gave me a LOT of oak wood for my wood stove. Kevin measured it at one and three-quarters cords! I am all set for winter this year! While Kevin was working on that, I decided that this was the day to clean out the chicken house. It didn’t actually smell bad (when it gets wet is when it smells bad) but I wanted to clean it out before the rains come. It was a big job, and I was exhausted when I was done. But it looked so nice with fresh shavings on the floor. Later in the afternoon I ran out to see if the chickens were enjoying their clean house. This is what I saw–they kept coming in and out the door and staring at the floor. I texted Shelley a picture and she came up with the perfect caption: “THE FLOOR IS LAVA!!” Silly chickens.


And then I turned around and looked at my nest boxes again. I WAS SO EXCITED when I realized that one of my chickens laid her first egg. I had just been telling Kevin that two of them were early egg layers and might start at four months (which is exactly how old they are now.)


Its such a nice little egg.


And then I came back inside and pretty much did nothing for the rest of the afternoon 🙂



Well, I went out in the afternoon hoping to get some good chicken photos. They are hard enough to photograph, with their constant movement, but the afternoon shadows did not help. Next time I’ll try earlier in the day.

After I found a home for the first two roosters, this guy appointed himself king. He is smaller and so his crow is higher. As long as he behaves himself, I might let him stay.


This is one of my French Maran hens. I say hen with great optimism. She has a pretty pronounced red comb and wattles, but I googled Maran hens, and some of them look like this. Fingers crossed she never crows!


The little king better watch out. These two boys are a lot bigger.



Baby continues to do well. She is an eating machine! Trying to make up for lost time, I suppose. I still think she is one of my prettiest chicks. I love her soft silver color.



This is baby’s big sister. She is a darker blue color. Very pretty also.


Buddy likes to stand quite close to me. See how his comb is different than most chickens? That is called a rose comb.


And just another of the cochin hens. This week I changed over from baby feed to layer feed. High hopes that a few eggs will be coming soon 🙂


All the chickens like to take turns standing on these pots that I left in the coop. Its really interesting to watch the feather development on the roosters. If only they didn’t crow and fight and want you-know-what all the time, I would love having roosters.


I am still really enjoying  being a chicken “farmer.” I just love watching them, and I even enjoy cleaning up their house a bit and doing those farmery things.

The Long and Winding Road

Recovery–I’m finding its a long and winding road, with lots of unexpected twists and turns in it. My knee hurts… haha. I guess that’s how its supposed to be. But with those amazing pain meds, I was deceived into thinking that I ALONE was going to have THE MOST AMAZING PAIN-FREE RECOVERY from knee replacement surgery.

Anyway, here’s some of the unexpected things I’ve discovered along the way. One day a few weeks ago, my knee started hurting. So I touched it. It was WARM! My other knee was cool to the touch. I went a whole night tossing and turning, thinking there was an infection starting. In the morning I consulted Dr. Google. Oh. That’s how its supposed to be–the red cells are in there working to repair everything. As a nurse, I probably should have known this. And I am still wondering–was that the first time I touched my knee????

Here’s another weird, but good side effect. My tastes are changing. I don’t like my coffee as strong, so I started using the thrift store Mr. Coffee to make my morning coffee–just right. And I don’t want coffee in the afternoon at all anymore. Along with that, I don’t like the taste of my protein bars any more. This is good, because its a habit I’ve been trying to break for a while. I found this old recipe for Banana Split Bars, and I do love it–all natural foods. If I’m really hungry in the afternoon, I’ll have one. I also like them for breakfast. I follow the recipe exactly (I know, unusual for me.) But I can see how it would be easy to vary the add-ins. I do cut them into 12 bars instead of 16, which makes them 190 calories.

I went back to physical therapy, to a different therapist. What a difference! And they are giving me quite a workout. Although I only have to do the exercises once a day, instead of three times a day. I was having trouble with what I thought might be my hamstrings. When I went for my check-up, the doctor called it tendonitis, and said to just wait, it might resolve of its own accord. When I went back to physical therapy, I talked to him about this. I had started to have an inkling that it might be more related to my back problems. He agreed with me, and he altered some of the exercises to be easier on my back.

After the surgery I had to take a big aspirin for 40 days to prevent blood clots. And during those 40 days I couldn’t take my meloxicam, which really seems to work for my arthritis. A week ago I got to start taking my meloxicam again, and it really does help with so many of my aches and pains. Even my back has calmed down a bit.

Then one day over a week ago, my heel started hurting. I mean, REALLY HURTING. I had plantar fasciitis 26 years ago, and it was MISERABLE, and I was afraid that this is what had happened to my heel. My heel still hurts, but I don’t think its plantar fasciitis (thank goodness!) and my PT agrees with me. But if I stepped on a rock and bruised my bone, it will take a while to get over. (Oh, and have I complained about how long it takes anything to heal at my age??) Its my right heel, so that makes walking just hunky dory with my knee and my heel hurting on the same side.

Another thing that’s different? I feel like I am doing remedial exercise. When I think about what I used to do before the surgery, and what I do now? Its just pitiful. But on the other hand, I am doing those darn knee exercises every single day, and adding in a short walk, or going to the gym to get on the bike (no resistance) for 10 minutes, and getting in the pool for 10-15 minutes. I am still doing my same upper body weight machine exercises.

You can see why I was avoiding talking about my knee and recovery. This is just one long complaint-fest. But maybe it’ll help someone else who has had or is contemplating knee surgery.

And Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

Here is a big long picture-heavy post to catch you up on the garden and the chickens! The garden hasn’t exactly suffered this year (since we put in a watering system,) but it hasn’t had my full attention either. Next year will be a better year in the garden. Here’s what’s blooming this week.

The Zinnias are finally starting to grow and bloom more. Behind them is the gaillardia, blue salvia, and a geranium.


A nice mandevillia vine. MLG built me a little trellis for it to grow on. They are not frost hardy so it will be an annual. Most of the plants I buy are either six-packs, or a gallon sized plant for $7.50. To me that is a nice price for a summer’s worth of blooms.


This is a new plant for me. It looks like I plopped a bouquet in the garden. It is a rudebekia Prairie Sun. Huge yellow flowers. Its supposed to be a perennial, and I thought it would look nice between the wild pink rose and the small blue perennial (don’t know the name but the bees love it.)


Here it is in context:


Liriope. I have several of these, and several were transplanted this year. This one is doing the best of all of them.


And now for the chicken report! I was glad that I had the chickens to amuse and distract me after my surgery. I loved going out and sitting and watching them in the late afternoon. Chickens are attracted to anything red, and I think they have a sweet tooth too, so they really love watermelon. Since they are still so young, I am careful to not give them too much fruit. Do you see who is in the very center of that picture? BABY!! She is doing so well. Goes in and out with the big girls, and doesn’t let anyone pick on her. She knows to just stay out of the way.


Buff Orpington, with a Dominique behind her:


New Hampshire Red:


And here is Baby in action. She seems to know how to get exactly what she wants. She looks the situation over, and chooses the path of least resistance.



Speckled Sussex. I am still a little hopeful that this is a hen that just has a rooster-like appearance.


This IS a rooster, darn it! Both of the polish chicks turned into roosters.


These are the Delaware chickens. I really like their delicate lacy black neck feathers. They seem to be very peaceful chickens.


All the chickens take turns sitting on/standing on/laying in these pots.


Pretty sure this guy will turn into a rooster. He always comes and stands by the fence right where I am sitting on the other side. I started calling him Buddy. If I keep a rooster, this will be the one.


Can’t you tell by Baby’s stance that she is saying, “I’m cool. What’s that over there?” I am so happy with all the forward movement she’s made by herself. I’ve even seen her get up on a lower shelf to roost the past few nights.


And now you are all caught up with the chickens. Today I stopped at a nursery and got a few more plants to fill in a few places in the garden. What can I say? I like pink. These are snapdragons, a Pentas, and dianthus–small, but has a definite carnation smell!


And a Vinca–three colors in one pot!


And that’s the garden report for this week.


Best Friend

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest factors in the success of my post-op recovery was having my best friend, Robin, here to help me. Robin and I met almost 30 years ago, when both of us were avid spinners (spinning fiber into yarn.) I made luxury fiber blends of pretty colors to sell to spinners, and Robin had a fiber and yarn shop attached to her big barn, where she sold to other spinners. One day she approached me and asked if I would be interested in selling my fiber to her at a wholesale rate so she could stock it in her shop. I sent her a very complex (some might say convoluted) list of how much/how discounted I could sell it for. And so we began a little business arrangement. We still laugh about that selling list that I sent to her. Then one day Robin sent out a flyer for a “Fiber Retreat” that she was going to have on her farm, with classes and everything. I worked up all my nerve, and called her and asked in a squeaky voice if she would be interested in having me teach. I didn’t know until years later that I actually asked to be paid more than any of the other teachers! And so for several years we spent a week together (along with about a hundred other ladies) on her wonderful farm. One day, Robin’s husband was given tickets to an Elton John concert. He had no interest in going, and so Robin asked if I wanted to go with her. Did I?!!!! Boy, that was a fun night. And then one day I asked Robin if she wanted to come down to my house for a visit. Robin came in, sat down, and started talking all about her family and life. Robin still remembers the surprised look on my face. Whoa, were we actually going to talk about something other than fiber and spinning and knitting and weaving? And that was the start of our friendship. That was also the weekend that Robin brought a special coffee cake. And my two dachshunds got up on the table TWICE to eat the coffee cake. Robin dubbed them “the bad little girls.”

Robin and I have so many things in common–our love of fiber-related arts (we both transitioned from spinning and knitting to quilting,) our faith, and a good sense of humor.

So when Robin, who cares for her husband, her parents, and her grandchildren, offered to come and take care of me after surgery so I wouldn’t have to go to a rehab facility, it was a big deal. I had so many little worries. I think my little worries were my way of dealing with the bigger situation–I wasn’t at all worried about the surgery or the outcome of the surgery. Instead I concentrated on all the little things–

  • would my dogs be brats when Robin came?
  • would I be in a lot of pain and be crabby with Robin?
  • would I be able to bend down to feed the little girls, or even pet them?
  • would I be able to get into bed by myself and into the shower by myself?

The list of little worries went on and on. And almost all of them were unnecessary. Yes, my girls were brats when Robin came. But fortunately, Robin likes dogs. Surprisingly, I could bend down to feed the dogs and pet them after just a couple of days. I could get into  bed by myself, and I got into the shower by myself. And Robin was wise and let me do the things I enjoyed doing–“cooking dinner” which sometimes involved thawing pre-cooked frozen shrimp and microwaving ears of corn. Before she left, I was feeding the dogs by myself. And the pain was so much less than either of us had anticipated that we were able to enjoy each other’s company and have a little fun. There was a LOT of sitting and watching movies. Robin brought lots of little quilty projects to work on.

Before my surgery I had found a nice nightgown at Walmart for only $5! Robin went to Walmart, and got me a second one, and got herself two of the same. We called it our post-op uniform 🙂



Chloe adopted Robin. She stayed in Robin’s lap, and Bess stayed with me, to keep the fights to a minimum. Zoey also got her fair share of Robin’s lap time.

By the time Robin left, I was ready to take care of myself. I called my “babysitter” and told her I wouldn’t need her to help me (I had arranged for my doggie babysitter to come and help me after Robin left.)

After Robin left, I saw Zoey sitting in the dining room staring at Robin’s empty chair. And then she trotted over and jumped up to look out the window to see if she was coming back. It was so cute.


Finding friends is not always easy. And finding a best friend like Robin is a treasure.