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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beans, Bindweed and Burns' Bonie Bell

Yesterday Mr. G and I celebrated our  forty-fourth wedding anniversary. Actually, celebrated isn't the right word.  Mr. G worked on getting the drip pan off the car so he could see whether the leak that he discovered  the day before was coming from a hose or the radiator.   Unfortunately, it was coming from  the radiator.  At least now we know what  we'll be  getting each other as an anniversary gift.😞

On a happier note,  the  eighteenth bean  seed  finally decided to show itself. We now have 100%  germination! The second piece of good news is that we got a nice soaking rain. You can almost hear the plants  breathing a sigh of relief.  They much prefer rain over tap water and seem to  perk up and stand straighter after a nice rain.  Of course, the weeds also love a  soaking rain- as evidenced by the growth spurt the nasty things put on  during the night.  My nemesis for the last few years  has been  bindweed. It is nigh on impossible to eradicate, and reading  that its roots can extend and run more than 20 feet below the soil and that its seeds can that remain viable for as long as 50 years is not very encouraging. I  avoid using herbicides so have been diligently hoeing and digging it out where I can and cutting  it off at ground level  when it's too close to other plants to cultivate. By cutting it off at soil level I'm hoping  to deprive it of the light necessary  for photosynthesis so it will  eventually weaken and die.  I'm pretty sure, though, that the stuff is so persistent that it will  outlive me by a decade or more!

I'm hoping that once the ground dries a little,  we'll be able to begin  working on the second  herb and flower bed on the  other side of the rose arbor. The plan is to relocate the wood hyacinths to the front yard and replace them with iris and shasta daisies from another section of the back yard, where  they'll be joined with some Mexican and Jerusalem sage and  other ornamental herbs and a few flowers. That's the plan, but it could get scrapped or changed like so many of my schemes and  best laid plans that  as Robert Burns wrote, "gang aft agley."

In homage  both to gardening through the seasons, and to  a relationship that has  endured and flourished for  forty four years, I'll leave you with Burns' poem/song,  Bonie Bell.  It seems appropriate, both for its recognition  of the changing seasons and the constancy of  love.

The smiling spring comes in rejoicing, 
And surly winter grimly flies; 
Now crystal clear are the falling waters, 
And bonny blue are the sunny skies. 
Fresh o'er the mountains breaks forth the morning, 
The ev'ning gilds the Ocean's swell; 
All Creatures joy in the sun's returning, 
And I rejoice in my Bonie Bell. 

The flowery Spring leads sunny Summer, 
The yellow Autumn presses near,
Then in his turn comes gloomy Winter, 
Till smiling Spring again appear. 
Thus seasons dancing, life advancing, 
Old Time and Nature their changes tell; 
But never ranging, still unchanging, 
I adore my Bonie Bell.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back to Beans, Blooms and Blogging

Back  to blogging after a  ten day break. Yesterday was another chemo treatment day and today is the day  I begin to emerge, steroid flushed red face and all, from yesterday's  afternoon lethargy. I did try to get as much weeding done in the garden as I could before going for treatment, and while it's been very slow going, I may actually get things sorted and in shape before winter!

Today's post will be picture-heavy with some of the exciting developments in the garden. First- the Maxibel French filet bush beans.   I though they would NEVER pop their little heads up, but they finally did- at least seventeen of them did, which gave me a ninety-four percent germination rate. Not bad, but I had hoped for a hundred percent. Here is a pic of  a bean that  popped up and is just beginning to raise its head and look around.

Pretty soon, the others followed and  there were two squares of  beans showing their leaves.  Here are the beans in one square with their marigold next-door neighbors:

 Here's a pic of the three square foot beds so far with the beans, some peppers and tomatoes in the first bed,  Swiss chard, peppers and tomatoes in the middle bed, and  some leeks and herbs in the far bed.  There are a few blueberry  bushes, an asparagus bed and abundant  weeds just out of view. Eggplants,  a zucchini (just one-  I don't want to over-feed the squash bugs again this year) more tomatoes, peppers, parsley, and odds and ends are in containers on the deck along with some herbs, flowers and  tropicals from the greenhouse.  



One of the Tiny Tim tomatoes in one of the the Earthboxes  already has some yellow blooms forming! I always get so excited when seeds I've planted begin  to grow and blossom.
Here are  a few pics of  blooms and blooms-to-be  in the garden  and on the deck, plus a pic of the Danish pastries I  made to celebrate spring!

I hope your spring and your gardens are filled with the promise and hope that exists in a garden.  And that the weeds and plant eating bugs are at a minimum.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Planting Time

The veggies are planted- well most of them, anyway!  We've had lovely weather for the past few days and I have  taken advantage of it by spending most of my time playing in the dirt.  I've  been really disappointed with my seeding this year- for some reason  several things  didn't germinate well at all, and  of the ones that did germinate, they  died  shortly thereafer.  I have no idea what  went wrong,  since I  used the same method that's been successful in past years, and  the tomatoes did do very well, but  everything else was a disappointment-  although  a few of the  Slim Jim eggplants  look pretty good, but none of the  white fingers eggplants   came up.  So yesterday we  drove  to  Julian's Hardware in Sylvan Springs and bought Swiss chard, some pepper plants and a few other odds and ends, including a bale of ProMix.Yesterday and today I've  planted bush beans, set out the chard,  tomatoes (three varieties),   peppers,  eggplant. a squash (again- I never learn-  this is probably yet another sacrifice to the   squash vine borer gods).  Only one squash, though- an heirloom zucchini. I also  set out  some thyme, Greek oregano, purple basil, sweet basil, dill, and weeded the  earthbox  filled with  weeds, sage and chives. Now all three little  square foot beds are planted and  I've used up almost all my containers.

We  brought all the plants out of the greenhouse today, which also involved weeding some pots, repotting  some plants and  some  doing drastic pruning on the  lemon verbena, pineapple sage and some of the   tropical ornamentals. I'm hoping to finish up with the potting and repotting tomorrow and getting the deck all  straightened and spiffed up. Mr. G   used the pressure washer on some sections of deck that had gotten   nasty looking over the winter- primarily from the  leaves that have fallen, leaving stains and debris.

 Maybe tomorrow I'll have some pics to post, but tonight I am happily exhausted and about to turn in for the night.



Thursday, April 06, 2017

Hail? No. To Chemo We Go

I am happy to report that we made it to my chemo treatment without running into any of the really nasty weather. It began thundering and lightning here in the wee hours of the morning followed by  a lot of rain, but thankfully, no hail, and  the rain actually slacked off a little as we drove to the  clinic. Other  places around us weren't so lucky. There was  quite a bit of hail damage, and some trees were blown down in the surrounding areas. Of course, Agatha and Victoria,  having the good sense to come in from the rain, wouldn't venture out into it either before we left.  I finally lifted Agatha  and put her out, but she refused to move  out from the eave of the house. We had visions of  coming home to a stinky mess, but  there was actually little evidence of accidents.

 We left a little early because of the weather and took the back route in case there was any construction or flooding going on  along our usual route. I signed in at the clinic ten minutes early and was called back to the lab almost immediately for my blood tests and vitals. My blood pressure was  a little high, but that's not unusual. My white blood cell count was a little better than it has been and I haven't needed any of the Neupogen shots this go round, maybe because of the shiitake mushrooms I ate Tuesday night. Some research studies have shown that  shiitake mushrooms do boost immunity and I would love to  have  more of those lovely white cells  coursing in my veins so I could  get out  and be around people more often without risking catching something.  I should keep shiitakes on my grocery list. Oh- and I've gained another pound- I now weight a whopping 93 pounds! Maybe it's actually muscle from the gardening I've been doing, and the yoga. I'd much rather think of it as muscle than flab, and I've read that even elderly people can actually  build muscle mass with the proper nutrition and exercise program.

From the lab I was sent over to the infusion room, which had fewer patients  than  normal, probably because of the weather. I took my usual seat near the restroom  and by 9:30 AM was hooked up to the bags hanging from my pole. I always make sure that I have a book or video ready on my Kindle Fire, but so far I've been unable to read or watch anything. I keep dozing off once they hook me up to the diphenhydramine and  don't get really active again until the last bag (the Camptosar/irinotecan), is hooked up a few hours later  when I'm  up and dragging my pole to the restroom every ten minutes it seems, to unload the fluids that have been pumped into me. I will say that   my speech wasn't quite as slurred  yesterday as it usually is.  I keep meaning to ask what the cause is, but I suspect it's a combination of  side-effects from the drugs and the  dry mouth resulting from the atropine injection.

I was finally unhooked around 1:45 PM and we headed home, with the sun brightly shining. I was glad to have my sunglasses with me, especially since it was so  dark and grey  when we left home that I questioned whether I would need them at all.

Once home, Mr G  scrambled an egg for me and brought me a cup of coffee. I went to sleep and slept almost all afternoon and into the evening, waking up to eat some chicken soup and toast. And then I went to bed for the night :-) Today I'm up  but not about much and am having the  red face, hot   steroid flush side effect. Actually the red face is an improvement over   yesterday's color, which was its usual post treatment zombie gray pallor. The wind  was blowing early this morning.  It was whistling around the corners of the house and sounded like a nor'easter. As I gazed out the front door this morning, I saw that the rain yesterday had washed  everything clean, revealing the  myriad shades of green on the  trees as they are donning their spring finery and swaying not so gently in the  wind.



Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Stormy Weather

This will be a short post tonight.  We are expecting some very nasty weather tomorrow with  thunderstorms, possible  baseball size hail, and the possibility of tornadoes. Schools all over the state have already announced that they'll be closed tomorrow, and the governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of storm damage. Of course,  Mr. G and I will be on the road  since I have a chemo treatment scheduled for tomorrow morning unless the   clinic decides to cancel, which isn't very likely. Wish us luck- the idea of  driving down the road in heavy rain with lightning flashing  while being pelted with humongous hailstones  is not exactly my idea of fun.  That's one of the things I like most about being retired- not having to drive out in all sorts of  horrid weather.  Well,   not having to drive in it most of the time, anyway, except for days like tomorrow. I'm glad our dogs aren't too terribly upset by storms, and usually hide out under the bed during the worst of them,  but I still hate  the thought of them being here alone for  six hours or so tomorrow, especially with the possibility of  tornadoes.

There are very few  flowers left on the dogwood.
Tomorrow's rough weather should   take care of the remaining few. I mentioned in yesterday's post that  the ground under the tree was  littered with petals.  here's  a pic of the  petal snowfall.
If you're in the path of the storms, stay safe and dry and   if you hear the sirens go off, get to your safe place  quickly.  I hope  things aren't as bad   as  predicted,  but  it's better to be prepared, or as I like to say,  it's a good idea to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. So here's hoping for the best for all of us.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Before the Rains Came

Since  my last post I finished weeding the veggie patch-  including the asparagus bed and   the  row of blueberry bushes. I left the  clump of  curly parsley that had run away from its mother and taken up residence between the blocks in the retaining wall. I also put up part of  the white fencing intended to keep the dogs from using the  area as a  doggie litter box. If only there were a fence to keep weeds out!

As I was weeding around the blueberry  bushes, I was about to   dig up one of the many clumps of wild garlic when I noticed something strange about it. Clinging to the leaves was a badly battered luna moth  with its wings in tatters. I   lifted the  clump of garlic and relocated it to what I thought was a  somewhat protected area, hoping for I don't know what. When it began to rain, I went to check on the moth and saw it trying to flap what was left of its wings. I moved it into  a pot of jasmine in the greenhouse and it began to climb on the  stems. When I went to check on it the next morning I couldn't find it. It may  be in one of the other plants or it may be  dead by now, poor thing. I have no idea how it ended p with its wings  torn, and even though they have a short life,  it seemed a cruel way for such a beautiful creature to  make an exit.

 The rain  has given me a chance to work inside, so I've  been vacuuming, mopping and  doing laundry, all of which has  made me even  more sore than the  weeding made me! My hip and shoulder have become completely discombobulated and some  movements send nasty little electrical  shocks down my leg. So in between that and the   dull toothache like pain  in my arm  when I  move my shoulder in a certain way, I decided to skip yoga class tonight and give  the joints and muscles another day or so to recuperate.

We had some torrential  rains  complete with  a  sound and light show and very high winds  in the early hours this morning. The ground under the dogwood tree is littered with  white petals and there are very few flowers left on the  branches. I took this pic  before the rains came.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Weeding Saga Continues

The weeding continues.  I've been working on the square foot veggie beds for the last two days.  I got one and a half  done yesterday and  one and a half  done today, plus a few of the pathways between the beds. That leaves the asparagus bed and the blueberry bushes  that are being overtaken by weeds.  I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I have also discovered that every ant in Jefferson County, and maybe even  Walker County, just up the road, has taken up residence in my veggie beds and those nasty little  things bite. I did some unspeakable things to them today,  dousing them with boiling water.  I always  feel guilty about doing that, but   we just cannot coexist peacefully I'm afraid.



Now if only I could believe that  Mother Nature  isn't planning some nasty weather surprise, I  could begin planting. But I just don't trust the  fickle lady and fear that she had been sending us these  days  with temperatures in the 80s just to lull us into thinking it's safe to plant. And as soon as we do plant, she'll  zap us with a late frost. I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of all those folks I know who HAVE  gone ahead and planted. 

I'm hoping to get   the weeding finished in the veggie area tomorrow before the rains come. That is, if I can actually move tomorrow-  every joint and muscle in my  body is voicing discontent in light of my recent activities. Doe this mean I'm getting old, or is it just that  I was too sedentary over the winter?