Friday, April 30, 2010

Gossipy Daffodils And A Snobby Tulip


Just in case you were wondering if these flowers like each other...

An Update On Clair

Welcome to another edition of ferrety Friday where you get to learn about ferrets and all their ferrety ways. But today, instead of writing about other ferrets and their ferrety-ness, I’m going to write a little about my own ferrety ferrets. Well, actually, I’m going to write about one of my ferrets, Clair to be precise, and what’s been going on with her since she came into our lives.

So.

I wrote awhile back about Clair’s story; how she came to be with us, how abnormally thin she was when she first arrived, how she trembled like a leaf whenever we picked her up or held her and how sickly her bowel movements were. I’d assumed at the time that her diet had been poor or that she’d been depressed, which readily happens with ferrets that aren’t given sufficient play time out of their cages or ferrets whose owners don’t socialize enough with them. I’d also discovered that a) no one had time for her anymore and b) there were a lot of other pets in the house, including a big dog that may or may not have caused her stress.


Basically, I concluded that Clair had suffered benign neglect. The owners didn’t mean to mistreat or neglect her; they just didn’t have the time or motivation to provide proper care. She’d been, for lack of a better word, ignored. And because of that, because her needs had been overlooked, she had deteriorated physically as well as emotionally.

Then we stepped in.

Clair has been with us since Friday, February 19th and, since that time, she has literally thrived. Not only has she put on a significant amount weight, she’s now completely fearless when we pick her up and she always scurries over to be hugged, kissed and petted. Her fur is shiny, her eyes are clear and she’s as full of beans as her playmates Nacho and Bailey are. She is just plain happy to be here. Even the vet that she’s been to twice already for some vaccinations has commented on what great shape this little fuzzball is in. “The food you’re feeding her must be good quality”, she said. “Yes”, I answered. “But she’s also very much loved.”

I’ve never heard from Clair’s previous family since we brought her home, even though the lady who sold her to me asked if her daughter (who was the official owner) could come to my home once to see where Clair is, and to be able to say good-bye to her (Clair was sold without the daughter knowing). I not only provided the mom with the necessary contact information, I also sent her, in an email, the web address for my blog, so she can virtually visit Clair now and again. You know, just in case her or her daughter missed the little fuzzy. But I haven’t heard anything from them since that first day.

Anyhow.

I don’t really care one way or another about Clair’s previous owners or whether they ever think about her or even miss her somewhat. Clair’s health – physically and emotionally – has improved dramatically since she moved in with us. And that’s all that matters.

Let’s wrap up.

Clair, it’s all about you today, so you’re the only one that will comment this week. What do you have to say?


Ah, music to my ears; a happy little fuzzy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tulips Are Still On Their Way

I know, I know; it hasn’t even been a whole week since I posted about the tulips being on their way, and here I am again. I can’t help myself, you guys. Spring is my favourite time of year, and every pretty flower that shows itself is a celebration of the renewal of the outdoor botanical world.

So.

This is where the tulips are to date:






They’re so close to opening; so wonderfully close. Even the foliage is amazing.

Obviously I’ll be back with more photos of these lovely bulbs. Lucky you...

Today's Trivia - Assorted

Ready for another week of interesting but totally useless information? Of course you are.

So let’s get to it...


1) The strongest muscle in proportion to its size in the human body is the tongue.

2) Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. (Did someone actually do this?)

3) The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the males head off. (Scary... )

4) Butterflies taste with their feet.

5) Elephants are the only mammals that can't jump.

6) Starfish don't have brains. (I know some people like this. )

7) Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

8) Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2-6 years of age.

9) Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil.

10) Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating.

11) Stewardesses is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.

12) The Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters.

13) More people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes.

14) Certain frogs can be frozen solid, then thawed, and survive.

15) Cat's urine glows under a black light. (Someone actually thought to try this?)

16) A rat can last longer without water than a camel.

17) If you toss a penny 10000 times, it will not be heads 5000 times, but more like 4950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom. (Something to keep in mind.)

18) If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

19) It's possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs. (Now, where can I get me a cow to try this out?)

20) Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history.
    Spades - King David
    Clubs - Alexander the Great
    Hearts – Charlemagne
    Diamonds - Julius Caesar.



Now, wasn’t that fun?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Any More Plants? But Of Course!

Oh come on, people; what kind of question is that? You didn’t honestly think that I’d given up on bringing home any more plants, did you? The garden centers are brimming with all kinds of botanical goodies, and since I’m a botanical junkie, well, need I say more?

Plus, I’ve been saving money all winter for this, not to mention the fact that I have the home’s entire landscape to build. Let’s just say that it’s a garden extravaganza!

So, let’s get to the plants...the new ones...

1) Sempervivum tectorum (Hens and Chicks):



I love indoor succulents, so it’s not surprising that I would love them for the garden as well. I bought two of these lovely plants to add to the back. I’ve never grown something like this outdoors before; it’ll be a new experience. But despite my lack of experience, they’re worth a try since they’re so adorable. I don’t know what kind they are; the tag just lumps them all together and calls them “assorted”. If you know what kind of Sempervivum this is, please let me know.

2) Lychnis x arkwrightii 'Orange Dwarf’


This lovely plant has mahogany foliage and promises orange-red flowers midsummer. I picked up a couple of these, and since they enjoy a sunny spot, I added them to the new area in the back.


3) Dianthus carophyllus 'Golden Sun'

What garden would be complete without some pretty carnations, especially the ones with golden-yellow blooms? Certainly not mine. So I picked up two of these:


And added them to the new section out back:


4) Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade’


Ah, yes, black-eyed susan... This is my pride and joy of the week; a plant that will grace my backyard with large golden-orange daisies from mid-summer to fall. Does it get any better than this? I picked up a couple of these and planted them in the new section:



That’s it for the plants, but before I end this post, there’s one more addition that is extremely important:


It’s Smiley the gnome! See how happy he is in his new home? Such a cheerful little fella. His buddy, Chuckles, is just a few short feet away; and just as jolly.

Oh, and finally, this is what the new flower bed looks like to date:


It’s really coming along nicely. Just a few more plants and it’ll be completely full.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Snowdrop Anemone Getting Ready To Bloom

Last year, not too long after I moved to my new city, my friend Joy gave me some beautiful perennials for my garden, one of them being Anemone sylvestris; also known as Snowdrop Anemone.

Well, the other day, as I was snapping photos around the garden, I noticed that this lovely plant is getting ready to put on a show with its lovely blooms:



I am really looking forward to seeing these delicate flowers open; it won’t be long now.

Sweet Spiced Baby Carrots

Carrots have never been my favourite food, but since they are packed with vitamins, I do try to make some now and again for the family. Very few recipes interest me when it comes to these vegetables, so when I run across one that I believe everyone will enjoy, it gets added to the ‘family favourites’ binder.

Below is a tasty carrot recipe I ran across in Canadian Family Magazine (April 2010 edition) that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did.


Sweet Spiced Baby Carrots

Serves 6
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 ¼ 1b whole baby carrots (peeled and trimmed if with stems), halved lengthwise if thick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ cup each orange juice and water
2 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp each salt, and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

1) Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add carrots and cumin; cook for 2 minutes.


2) Add remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered on medium-low for 20 minutes or until carrots are fork-tender.


Nutrients per serving:
89 calories, 5 g fat, 52 mg calcium, 36 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 1 g protein.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chuckles The Gnome Has A Friend

Our happy gnome, Chuckles, has been complaining that he just can’t keep up with the garden; it’s getting much too big, he said, for a little guy like him to handle alone.

So we got him a friend.

Introducing Smiley:


Isn’t he just the handsomest gnome you’ve ever seen? What I especially like about him is that he’s just as cheerful and lively as Chuckles is. [grin]

Now that there are two of them, I expect the garden to be kept in good order.

No slacking off, boys. And no wild gnome parties at night!

My Mother

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life."

~John Burroughs ~


My mother and I talk on the phone about once a week to catch up on each other’s news; she finds out how we’re all doing in our new city, and I get to hear about how she’s faring on her own since my dad passed away. She hasn’t visited our home yet in our new city, but I’m hoping to get her down here this summer. It’s not that she doesn’t want to come; it’s that traveling is more difficult for her now. As she gets older, but especially since she’s been widowed, she is much more reluctant to be away from home, even if it’s only for a weekend. Her home, her routine and her familiar surroundings are her sanctuary. Her friends, her shops, her church and her doctors are all nearby; this gives her a sense of security and peace of mind. So for now, the phone is our way of sharing news and information.


As I get older, I begin to realize that there are a lot of qualities my mother has that I never quite noticed before; qualities that I appreciate more and more as the years go by. In addition to being upbeat, sociable and extremely generous, my mother is one of the most down-to-earth people I know. She has never focused on material objects or status to bring her happiness. Instead, she has always found joy in the simple things in life: her happy marriage, her children and grandchildren, her garden, her knitting, her church, the closeness she shares with her siblings, nieces and nephews, her few but good friends, and her community. She’s never owned or cared for designer clothing, expensive furniture, fancy cars or a big house. She never wore makeup, frequented fancy hair salons, sprayed on expensive perfume or slipped her feet into high-priced shoes. Not only has she never cared for any of these things, she’s never understood the need or desire for them. Or felt deprived in any way because she didn’t experience them. It’s something she doesn’t think or worry about. And because of this, she’s always been happy; completely and utterly satisfied with her life.

Lately, when I speak to my mother, I’ve begun to notice things I didn’t notice before: the way she lights up when she talks about the antics of the birds that she feeds in her backyard (something she’s enjoyed for years); how animated she becomes when she describes a meal she prepared and how wonderful it turned out; how upset she is when she talks about a TV show she watched about children starving around the world; how excited she sounds when she talks about the upcoming garden season; how thrilled she is that a loved one called her or dropped by for a visit. I have essentially discovered, after so many years, and as if for the first time, just how genuine and simple my mother is. And just how much it means to me to have a role model like her. I suppose this ‘discovery’ has always been there, because now that I think about it, never in all my years (not during my childhood, adolescence, early adult years or now), have I ever seen a materialistic side to my mother or heard her moan or groan about not having this, that or the other thing. She’s always been modest, authentic and extremely content with her life. And now that she’s getting older and fully aware that she’s at the last stage of her life, every now and then she’ll mention what a wonderful life she’s had, especially the years with my father, and how peacefully and contentedly she will leave this world when her time comes.

The other day, I was telling my husband just how much I admire and cherish this side of my mother; that if I could inherit anything from her, it would be her simple, happy and spirited nature. That being able to find happiness in the simple things in life is the most wonderful way to be. That being in a state of perpetual contentedness is the ultimate goal in life. That I’d like to find myself in the same state as her when I reach the last stage of my life; perfectly satisfied with the life I lived with no regrets and no bitterness.

After all, what could be more gratifying than to leave this earth with your spirit and soul utterly at peace?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Splish, Splash, The Blue Jay’s Taking A Bath

Earlier today, I wrote that Mr. Blue Jay visits daily in hopes of being tossed some peanuts.

Well.

He also comes by regularly to take a bath. I took some photos through my kitchen window of him bathing to post on this blog. I laughed through the whole thing because he seems to be really enjoying himself.








Once he’s done, he flies up into the maple tree to preen his feathers.



The backyard birds and their antics are very entertaining. I just love it!

Mr. Blue Jay Is A Daily Visitor

I’ve come to adore the blue jay that visits my backyard daily in hopes of being tossed some peanuts. He’s not only visiting every day, he’s actually gotten quite comfortable with us.

He starts by landing on the deck:


Then he hops closer:


Until he’s close enough to be able to peek inside the house and see if any peanut-throwing person is around:



Sometimes, he flies over as soon as I step foot into the kitchen, as if he’s watching from a distance (do blue jays have binoculars?). When I mentioned this to my daughter, she said “He’s a stalker...” Har har har... :)

He’s gotten so bold with his visits that I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts tapping on the window at some point. Hmmm... Perhaps I should add a doorbell for him.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Got Me Some Fruit Bushes

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call them fruit bushes quite yet. They’re more like twigs. But it’s a start.

I picked up three different types – blueberry, raspberry and blackberry – and I have to confess to you all that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Not only have I never grown any type of fruit before, I haven’t taken the time to educate myself completely on what’s involved. Yes, yes, I’m botanically irresponsible.

[shrug]

The other thing is that in my rush to place the ‘twigs’ as quickly as possible into a bucket of water so their roots wouldn’t dry out until they were planted (it was a very warm, summer day, you know), I didn’t pay attention to what fruit ‘twig’ is which when I unwrapped each one and dunked it in the water. This means I have no idea what’s what.



Can anyone tell from the photos what each one is? I believe that the thickest twig is the raspberry, but I’m not entirely certain.

In any case, we’ll have to see what happens as everything grows. What the heck, it’ll be a surprise! Won’t that be fun?

Saturday Silliness

This is an old favourite, but it still makes me laugh out loud. Enjoy!


Excerpts From A Dog's Diary

Day number 180...

8:00 AM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 AM - OH BOYI A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 AM - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 AM - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 AM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 Noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 PM - OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

1:30 PM - ooooooo. bath. bummer.

4:00 PM - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!


Excerpts From A Cat’s Diary

DAY 752- My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair.. must try this on their bed.

DAY 766- Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768-I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo". What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer". More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of "allergies". Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774-I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time...

Friday, April 23, 2010

More Cool Plant Purchases!

I’ve been having the time of my life this past week, picking up pretty plants, taking them home and adding them to my (no longer completely empty) garden. Since we moved here last June, I’ve been planning for this by researching about plants and learning as much as I can about them. And by putting some money aside a little at a time to create a garden budget that I can work comfortably with. Well, all that work is now paying off nicely. My main focus is perennials because of their long term investment potential. Not only will many of them last for many, many years, but a lot of them will make babies that I can share with other gardening friends (that means you, Joy!) and that I'll be able to transplant to other areas of the garden.

So, what’s new this time?

Well, these four plants below...

1) Phlox ‘Drummond Pink’



According to the tag, this is a new plant, which doesn’t mean very much to me since I haven’t grown any type of phlox before and haven’t gardened outdoors for over a decade. Still, I thought I’d mention it. Also according to the plant’s tag, I should be expecting brilliant pink flowers with dark, pink centers on narrow, dark green foliage. Sounds good to me.

I bought two of them and added both to the new flower bed.


This is what the new area looks like so far.


2) Hemerocallis ‘Little Grapette’


There was no way I could resist this pretty daylily with its grape-purple petals. I can’t wait to see it in bloom.

I added it to the front of the house, at the corner of the planting area, where it can receive some sun.


3) Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’


I have never seen this plant before; it is stunning. It’s supposed to make some pretty flowers, but I’d be happy with the foliage alone.


I added it to the front of the house where there’s minimal sun since it prefers shade, and because I want to show it off to the neighbourhood.

2) Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’



‘Jack Frost’ is the highlight of my week. I can’t believe I found this plant that I adore. It has the most stunning foliage, and it’s perfect for those shady locations. I bought two and added them both to the front of the house.

This is what that area looks like with the new plants:



It’s obviously in need of a lot more plants, but with the three hostas starting to grow (I planted them last year) and some bulbs I picked up a few weeks ago that I’ll be adding in a couple of weeks, it will slowly fill up.

And if that’s not enough, I’m going to have to force myself to drive over to a gardening center to pick up more plants. I won’t enjoy it, of course.

[grin]