Thursday, July 29, 2010

Announcing Our First Egg

We are thrilled to announce the historic arrival of the first egg to be laid at Meadowsweet Cottage!
At 6 o'clock this morning, one of the Blonde Bombshells proudly declared she had a surprise for us. (No rooster was ever louder than our hen laying her first egg!)

The nest box was empty so I thought I was mistaken about hearing an egg-laying bawk.  As I refilled the chicken feeder, I happened to glance up and realized the silly girl laid her egg on top of the coop!   Which of our four hens?  We suspect Norma Jean because her comb and wattle are largest and reddest.  Not because she's my favorite, not at all.

The egg is a lovely deep brown, very petite in size compared to our large store-bought eggs.
Do we scramble our petite beauty and divide it three ways for breakfast tomorrow?  Or do we wait for two more eggs to be delivered?

Proud chicken mama,

Joining My Romantic Home for my best show-and-tell ever!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Yesterday I spent an excruciatingly long day emptying a storage locker for my cousin...a locker that had a few treasures like family photos and heirloom furniture as well as seven giant black plastic bags of trash...a locker that smelled like mouse droppings...a locker that sucked in the summer heat while spewing dust on every bodily pore I possess..a locker that is now empty...

Last night I found myself thoroughly grateful for a patient and very strong husband, a cool shower, a fresh nightie and clean damp hair.  Simple pleasures.

I'm a rejuvenated

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tiger and Water

Abiding by the thought that Mother Nature doesn't make mistakes with her color palette, I'm happy to make an exception to my mostly pastel flower garden.

This is my wild Tiger Lily. Yes, she's ORANGE. And she's in my garden. Me, the gardener who get annoyed when gold flowers are marked as yellow not orange. This orange lily has a sentimental hold on me though.
Every good flower has a story behind it and this is hers: My dad collected the originals of these tiger lilies in the mountains of Tehama county. One of my early memories is of these six-foot giants blooming in my parents' garden in the East Bay. My folks transplanted them to their next home where they awed passers-by in our front yard further inland for forty-six years. The Queen Mother brought some descendents with her when she moved to the Truckee Meadows where they now greet visitors at her front door. Mine are scattered in random places around our cottage and my sister has an amazing display in her backyard in Oregon.

My dad used to say they bloomed for the Fourth of July--true in California, but more like the Fourth plus a week here in Nevada. Usually anyway. This year they bloomed two weeks later than usual, which says something about our super-late frosts and recalcitrant spring.

As a kid, we loved to pick of these little bulblets which grow along the stem.  We also loved to pop fuchsia blossoms before they opened. (There are some things that are just irresistible to kids.)  At least we didn't blow dandelions puffs anywhere near the Queen Mother's garden.
Nowadays I grab these bulblets (they're extremely large this year), pop them into a ziploc until they chit, then find a place to plant them be it in a pot or in the ground where they flourish and get bigger every year.

Back to the pastels--Lilypad Pond hosted a record-breaking four waterlilies in bloom yesterday. I know it's not a lot, but Lilypad is a very petite pond. 
I think they look gorgeous after our thunderstorm.

This yellow gal is the shyest bloomer--those striped pads in the upper right corner belong to her.
Even a grey day and a little Picasa magic can't bring out her true yellowness, but she is colorful. You'll just have to take my word for it.

And then there are the tall phlox.
Do you see any pink flowers? 

Any merest hint of a tiny bud?
Me neither.  I saw lots of pink and white phlox blooming on our morning walk so I know it's time. Time for some tough love, that is.

Dear Phlox,

   This is your last chance.  Bloom, or else.  You've been warned.


Garden lovers need to swing by Jami's for beautiful flowers and bounteous veggies and tales of evil trespassers at the

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flat Earth Society

I feel like I fell off the earth. Only tumbling off a spherical celestial body complete with gravity is not easy, so I joined the Flat Earth Society because it's much easier to just walk off the edge into blog oblivion rather than chartering a rocket.

I like--no, actually I love--blogging and I've never contemplated ceasing. But when I caught myself plotting a post about my suitcases (tapestry, black leather, 70's yellow paisley, periwinkle canvas) and my cosmetic cases (one's turquoise flowers and the other is Pendleton wool plaid, and I take them both with me when I travel) I knew something had to change. I mean, really, a post about my split personality in suitcases? Pathetic.

And I found myself "cheating" by planning posts around blog parties on days when I'd rather write about something that inspired me or made me cry or tickled my funny bone. And I didn't want to overload you lovely readers and followers with two posts in a day, so I chose the no-sweat option. It's such an easy-peasy slippery slope into blogger hell, isn't it?  Now a post about blogger hell...THAT would be interesting. Not that I am, but it's got my brain buzzing with ideas...

And during my unscheduled break (which some of you kind souls attributed to my achieving wondrous summery feats of craftiness and botany), I let slip some weekly traditions that I truly enjoy.  I think I've worked off my funk and eliminated some kinks and gotten in touch with me, the real me, the slightly anal-retentive, irreverent, glass-half-full, silly me.  I'm back.

I'm back on a day of thundershowers and four waterlilies gracing Lilypad Pond .  (Look! Two pink, a yellow and a white!  All at one time!)   
'Cause it's the ordinary magic each day brings that thrills me and sets my heart singing.  Even though the thunder isn't exactly thrilling a certain sensitive golden retriever.

Off to check the Bombshells to see if the expression "madder than a wet hen" has any truth in it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My First Picasa Mosaic

A little knowledge is much more fun than ignorance. Prettier too.
I finally Googled "making mosaics with Picasa" after drooling over yet another wonderful blogger mosaic.  Link Number Three were these instructions which were so easy to follow. 

Can I just say that TechBliss Online is truly well named?  And that I'll be visiting them again this evening to try some more tips? 

I can't wait to fine tune my photos next time and then mosaic them.  (Someone was in too much of a try-out-her-new-toy hurry to do a proper job the first time.)  I'm aware that I get drunk on enthusiasm, novelty and learning new things and my maturity level crashes.  Maybe I need a Designated Internet Driver?

My trusty crystal ball has begun showing me glimpses of puppy mosaics and pond mosaics and chick mosaics and, yes, I think I even see a family photo mosaic somewhere in my future.  Oh and it's also showing me hungry menfolk waiting for me to cook dinner.


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Guideposts --Week27

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Celebrate quirkiness!

Join Tracey's quote party here

Friday, July 09, 2010

Hollyhock Lottery

Welcome to my part of the Garden Party!

You sow zinnia seeds and you know exactly what you'll get. Ditto for sweet peas and cosmos and coreopsis. But hollyhocks from a neighbor? Unpredictable at best.

I planted the seeds and watched them grow for two years, hoping for a pleasant surprise. (Keeping my fingers crossed that one would be a clone of my long-gone favorite pink hollyhock.) Just this week they've started to bloom and I'm finding out what colors they are at long last.

First to bloom: a neon yellow/chartreuse.
Interesting color is the wrong place--it clashed with the apricot- and peach-colored roses in the same bed.

Result: a hard-hearted gardener removed it.
Then some wonderful colors appeared like a pink touched by orchid--a keeper.
and a berry red
right next to a peach hollyhock
which is an usual combination but really works (for me anyway).

Sadly the one hollyhock that was growing like a refugee from the rainforest turned out to be a color I call Dead Red
A maroon so deep that it's almost black. Those dark colors just don't appeal to me and the rhododendron underneath seems to be happy to breathe freely and gather a little sunshine now that the hollyhock is gone.

So, I'm still hoping for one nice sweet pink to make me smile, but I'm happy that most of the colors so far are playing nicely in the garden.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Grace Is Not My Middle Name

I managed to construct half of a chicken coop and assemble a hand-me-down hammock stand without instructions on Tuesday, but I couldn't walk across the Queen Mother's yard without spraining my ankle. Coordination is seriously not my strong point.

I'm following the RICE protocol and I'm especially enjoying the Rest and Ice part. I can park myself and the ice bag on the sofa and catch every show on HGTV without feeling guilty. Or nap. Or read a paperback novel. Hey, it's part of my rehab!

I'm not happy about losing part of my summer, but it could be worse. It's not swollen much and has minimal bruising, and I'm grateful I didn't break it. Yes, it hurts a little to walk on it, but it's not bad enough to need crutches. Walking is down to the essentials and the absolute worst is that the phone is NEVER near me.

One unusable ankle hasn't prevented me from entertaining a young visitor thanks to neighbors the same age and our ping-pong table. Oh, and with help from Kharma--she'll do her extensive repertoire of tricks for anybody holding cheese rewards! And I got a surprise--my incredibly creative friend was visiting Tahoe and decided to visit the Biggest Little City's antique hot spots on a whim. There's nothing nicer than lemonade and a leisurely summertime visit with a friend.

Well, it could have been nicer if my ankle hadn't prevented me from personally showing her Junkee.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Treasures and Thugs

I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Yesterday my desktop tossed up a story by the Wall Street Journal about "Garden Thugs". Some of them I've never grown or even seen, but I found I own seven(!) of the purported thugs and I can't say that I've had trouble with any of them. Ever.

Maybe it's because I live in a rigorous climate. More likely it's because I'm a gardener to my fingertips (literally). My hands are my second favorite gardening tool, right behind my most useful gadget, two observant eyes. True gardeners are the hardest-hearted folks in the world--we pinch, pull, transplant, cut down and poison ruthlessly.

I paid a small fortune for my cerise-colored bee balm so I was naturally thrilled to learn I planted a hellacious spreader.
I'm forewarned so I'll keep an eye on it, but at this point I just hope it survives since I managed to kill a previous attempt.  I bought it to attract hummingbirds and I hope they discover it soon.

Among the seven alleged baddies is one of my favorites, sweet woodruff. I love its fingered leaves and delicate bitty white blossoms. I actually like the way it spreads and it's never ever been hard to discourage from any given area.

I might not grow Dame's Rocket if I lived adjacent to wildlands where it could spread, but in my cottage garden (with an eagle eye out for stray seedlings) it's a well-mannered purple addition to my spring flowers.

My honeysuckle is always happy to be trained and trellised.  It's sheltered many bird nests over the years as well as entertained little girls who've learned to extract that precious drop of nectar.  I keep after the stray tendrils, of course, but that's not a hardship.

I'm hoping that my small-leaved English ivy eventually does grow enough to let me create a faux gate, sort of a Secret Garden look.  I'm wondering how to get it to climb a wood fence.  Meanwhile it's one of the few things that have survived a dry area patrolled by eight active dog paws and I think it looks a whole lot nicer than dirt.  I didn't have any trouble getting rid of it in Southern California when I inherited a plant, so it should be a lot easier here in Nevada if it forgets who's boss.

Trumpet vine is on the no-no list too.  Ha! Apparently they've never let chickens loose near one--mine is barely hanging on despite frequent watering and protective armour.  Of course, mine is still a youngster but should it survive my hungry flock and eventually flourish I'll have to protect it from our harsher winters which have a way of eliminating even mature vines. 

I'm keeping my silver maple small--I don't want too much shade in the yard, I just want a little separation from my neighbor's porch light.
So far it's taken my pruning in stride and is just the size I want it to be.

Meanwhile I'm wondering why periwinkle (my official number one bad guy) didn't make the list or feverfew which certainly seeds as readily as Dame's Rocket although it pulls easily or elm seedlings (officially dubbed "weed trees" around the cottage for their ugly growth and difficulty to eliminate) or my evil white violets
which obviously spread rapidly as soon as my back is turned. Or lawn grass, for heaven's sake, which always seems to be on a mission to grow into my flowerbeds. I seem to have my own, completely different, list of garden thugs than the Wall Street Journal.  You might too.

Maybe compiling a national list is hubris since each zone is bound to have it's own villains and winners.

And I suspect that anyone with a kind heart will struggle with strong-willed plants.  A gardener, like a parent or a dog custodian, has to set and enforce limits.  A little tough love now goes a long ways to keeping the peace in the future.

Going after my own bad guys and joining in the Tuesday Garden Party a just day late (yikes),

Sunday, July 04, 2010

My Guideposts -- Week26

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Fourth!

Come join the fun at Notes From A Cottage Industry