Monday, June 28, 2010

The Cutting Garden

This spring I planted a bunch of flower seeds, and called it my cutting garden.
I like fresh flowers in the house, all the time.

I planted 90 gladiola bulbs. They looked really nice, up until last week's 3-day tropical deluge and subsequent flooding. They still look nice, in their abstract-looking array.

I really did not anticipate these zinnias flourishing as well as they are.
Talk about maintenance-free!

I planted 3 varieties of sunflowers, all in three long rows.

I think this one is called Chianti. Or maybe not...
This is a Lemon sunflower.
And the ever-popular Giant Russian sunflower.
They will grow to 10', given the right conditions. (read: no more flooding.)
I did not plant this cosmos bed this year; these flowers re-seeded from last year.
That's MY kind of gardening!
My volunteer plants.
Who knew a petunia would volunteer, in the midst of zinnias and sunflowers?
Again, MY kind of garden! In my cutting garden I have also planted a late row of ornamental gourds and another row of New England Pie Pumpkins. I anticipate that they will be spreading their tendrils about the time that these other flowers are finished doing their thing.

I neglected to photograph my birdseed garden. On the south edge of the cutting garden, I broadcast handfulls of birdseed, just to see what would happen. What happened was that birds came and ate a lot of the seeds, but I have random sunflowers and things such as millet growing - and very appropriately, growing over Manley Peacock's burial plot.

But that's a story for another day...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree.

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago;
the second-best time is now."

We are big on planting trees. I think it must be an Armstrong thing. That spouse o' mine, growing up in South Dakota and Australia... But, I think I caught the plant-a-tree virus upon saying, "I do." We, that spouse o' mine and I, have planted trees every place we have lived. Here? More than 63 trees. (And I have not added up last year's or this year's.)

We have a number of oak trees waiting to be put out somewhere. We started them from acorns. It's pretty easy. The hard part is keeping the bunnies and grasshoppers away from them. A few years ago we were walking the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., and there were a kabillion acorns all over the place. So we gathered them up (not all kabillion), and brought them home to rural Kansas and planted them. And they grew. And grew. They were our Capitol Oaks! But, alas, the bunnies got ahold of them before we even knew we HAD bunnies.

These oaks are native, from K-State University campus acorns. Not so note-worthy, but also not bunny-eaten...yet. And, since Daughter #2 lives just a jaunt from the D.C. Capitol grounds, I have it in my mind that she can deliver us 2010 Capitol grounds acorns for our 2011 Oak Tree Project.

Daughter #1, plus that spouse o' mine, a niece, and a nephew-in-law were chatting this weekend about our oak trees. (in miniature, at this point.) And I lamented that nowdays (omigosh, I AM LAMENTING ABOUT NOWDAYS. I MUST BE GETTING OLD.) people do not plant for the future generations. No fine oaks lining drives to be enjoyed 50 years down the road (and no pun intended on that,), no wonderful pine trees or chestnuts or other elegant and slow-growing trees.

Someone's sitting in the shade today
because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

-- Warren Buffett

We see "instant-gratification" landscaping, like ornamental pear trees, or little-bitty shrubs. The landscape people must know as well as I know, the slow-growing trees are the ones which will last for generations. Not these little piddly shrubby things - they grow fast and die early.

Here is a really brief-and-by-memory list of some of the trees we have out out here on 15 acres, in the past 8 years: consider all plural:

Pine (lotsa varieties!)
Cedar (yuk; but...a great windbreak for Kansas winter winds)
Most likely more that do not come to mind off the bat.

In a way, it's sad to think that someone two generations from now will reap the enjoyment of our horticulture. I would LOVE to see our place 100 years from now.

But you know what? It feels pretty good, knowing we did our BIG PART for the future.

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. ~Welsh Proverb

Friday, June 18, 2010


I am a tough girl in most respects. I can walk, run, swim, ski, XC ski, bike 50 miles on my 50th birthday, climb a name it - I am usually game enough to try.

This heat business, though. When I am standing in line to pay for things in a garden center and SUDDENLY I have a mood swing the likes of, oh, say, Mt. St. Helens two decades back, then I suspect my system has gone awry. But, no, I climb into my car and the thermometer reads in the TRIPLE DIGITS and I feel a wee bit justified.

Then I head to a grocery store where everyone seems to be moving in SLO-MO, except for me, because in my head, the music is playing Let's Get This Party Going (and in my head, that means get the stuff and get outta here!!!!) and I feel like ramming every single one of those slowpokes SMACK in the rear so that they get the message: move LOTS faster or get out the the way, bucko!

Where did my snow go? And my sleet? The darkened afternoons?

Methinks this might be a slow and painful summer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


  • Safety from floods and tornadoes
  • Green things everywhere
  • 2/3 of our brood home tonight: safe homecoming of the College Boy
  • Air conditioning
  • Good smells wafting from the kitchen oven: BBQ chicken and things
  • A happy husband home from his testosterone bike ride ("Ride with the Guys")
  • A pretty good cello lesson today
  • Relatively free day tomorrow, only taking College Boy in to have wisdom teeth removed in the early morning, and equine vet out in the afternoon to do West Nile and rabies and what-not.

Monday, June 14, 2010


After losing 14 Runners (ducks) without so much of a remnant bill or webbed foot to explain their disappearance, I said, "No more ducks. Ever."

That was 4 weeks ago. Yesterday I ventured out into the Darwinian Garden, and discovered a kabillion microscopic grasshoppers in the leaves.

Omigoodness. What to do? What to do? I am such an organic soul...

I hit Craigslist, and 3 hours later, we are the owners of 5 mongrel ducks.


Friday, June 11, 2010


Tonight is a new moon: no light. So! If you are a star-gazer, then this is the night. (Or if you are like me and often awake at 4:00 am, then tomorrow is your morning.) Go out and gaze. Some early mornings I sneak out and tilt my head upwards, identifying those constellations I learned many a year ago. I search out satellites. (You know, this is really something - 40 years ago no one would have said "I search out satellites.") Of course I am always on the lookout for falling stars. Why are those so exciting?!

The big news this year is the research being done on Titan - one of Saturn's moons. Saturn has 22 moons. Titan is the 2nd-largest-known moon in our solar system. (Planets rotate around the sun, moons rotate around planets, for those of you who have "delete-file" that part of your HS Biology facts.) Lots of research is being done on Titan, and much of it is very interesting. I leave it up to you to read up on it all. Sorry, no links today.

Some scientists are looking at Titan, some are at task with small particle physics, some are measuring sea ice, and others, fast-growing cells (i.e., cancer).

How fascinating. And reassuring. There are lots and lots of people studying all sorts of things that I myself cannot manage in my oh-so-busy 50-year-old lifestyle.

Thank you, scientists.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Helen Thomas

I have always admired Helen Thomas.

I am sorry she is resigning. Being forced to resign?

And just the other day, I said I kept politics out of this blog.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

What's New?

OK, so here's what's in the news:

Israel has seized a Gaza relief boat:
Can't go there, because I refuse to politicize this blog. But I have mighty strong opinions.

Relief wells are last hope to stop leak:
Yeah, but again, so out of my control, why think about it except in prayer. And I have been praying and meditating.

Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says:
I am 50, I am pretty darn happy. As I was at 40, 30, 20, and, I think: 10. Maybe I'm not liking the "Van Valkenburgh family downturn-thing-of-the-mouth" I noticed soon after 50, but it's not something I am looking to surgically alter; I love genetics, OK?

The Gore separation:
I don't like the Gores. But so, so sad that after 40 years, they choose to separate? So sad. I am in mourning for their relationship. Could care LESS about his nonsense, and perhaps hers. But so sad for their marriage.

A search was under way on Mount Rainier Saturday for at least 1 climber buried in an avalanche:
So upsetting. This could be your kid, my kid, anyone's baby.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC has a 2010 winner, and I cannot even tell you who it is. I would just like to insert that as young student, way back in the 70's, I LOVED the Spelling Bee. I was fairly competitive, and thoroughly enjoyed my competition. This was way back before students actually spent time (hours?) studying for the Bee. When I did it, it was just a fun Friday afternoon competition to see who could be the best speller. This year's winning word? "stromuhr” A stromuhr is a medical device used to measure the amount of blood moving through an artery.

2009's winning word: Laodicean, means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics.

So let's hearken back to:

1975: Winning word: incisor
1976: Winning word: narcolepsy

OK. Enough. So much for spelling.

Any HAPPY news? Well. Not for his family, but for the rest of us, who knew this great man for decades, and know him in his history and again as he has passed:

John Wooden
What a great man.

We can celebrate his life, and learn still from his teachings!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

Oh my, a week has gone and I have shifted from Wordless to Wordy Wednesday. But this is just a lapse, I think.

On the gardening front: my rows of lettuce, we cannot keep up with. I am delivering lettuces (I planted many kinds) to friends. If you are within delivering distance, kindly let me know, because these rows are inclined to bolt in the heat. Bolt, as in go to seed, not bolt, as in the silly ponies when a horsefly gets them BAD.

Speaking of flies, they are BAD. Daughter #1 mucked the big stall and spread lime and fresh shavings, in addition to hanging two of those NASTY fly things that attract flies, and then they cannot find their ways out, and so it is up to me to toss the NASTY things in a couple of weeks or so. I think it beats pesticides, though.

Back to the gardening news: my tomatoes look dandy. In fact, I have volunteer tomato plants as well as planned-for ones. So my already-uneven rows of tomatoes have taken on a bit more of a meander. And in-between some of these, MUCH to that Spouse 0' Mine's consternation (because he is a BioSystems engineer, {read:agri- and horticulture} and this CLEARLY is not engineered, at least by man or woman), I have fennel bulbs popping up and thriving. This, I explained to him and will to you, too, is because it was a really, REALLY windy in rural Kansas, that day that I planted fennel. And so it is all over the place.

But that's ok! Because this is a Darwinian garden. Good things will thrive.

And let's reflect once again on the horseradish I planted 2 years ago. Which was tilled under by that Spouse o' Mine last year when I was in, I don't know where...Breckenridge? He called me to ask where my garden was going to be, and I replied, Where it has always been. And he proceeded to till the DAYLIGHTS out of my garden, and put grass seed down. After 26 years of marriage, we STILL get our signals crossed. That, and we are simply not garden-compatible. (Could the Marriage-counseling pastor, 26 years ago NOT have asked us about our gardening inclinations? I ask you.) Well, my word, I digress. The tilled-up horseradish from two years ago is popping up everywhere in my garden. EVERYWHERE. It's like kudzu. At least the leaves taste good in salad, and we both know that because we have had quite a season of fresh horseradish leaves in our salads!

Birds in the spring: I hung 4 beautiful ivies out on our "old porch" this spring, and now is the time to transplant the ivy into my shade garden. But, alas, a nice little bird couple made a nest in one of the ferns, so now I waiting for the tiny cheep-cheep-cheep sounds to mature and then be gone completely, before I move the ferns. I have even been leary of watering that fern.

And the hummingbirds are keeping me entertained in our grotto! They perch high in our old trees, and then swoop in for a feed or a fight.

Other bird news, not good, not good at all, is that all 14 of my little Indian Runner ducklings have gone missing. They are gone, gone for good. Whether they were stolen or scared off or whatever, we never found any remains, and that just makes us wonder. Predatory animals leaves bits behind. But out of 14 ducklings, there was nothing. I told that Spouse o' Mine, I am out of the duck business. And very sad to say that: I just killed a big old grasshopper tonight; the very reason we kept ducks in the first place.

Human maternal news is such that Daughter #1 moved back from Atlanta this weekend, and Daughter #2 moved to Virginia this weekend. The College Boy comes home in two weeks. He is happily anticipating driving home by himself, and has already made his itinerary to: Drop down from Washington state, take Highway 101 to see the Redwood forest, drive through Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, and home to the Flint Hills. What a fun adventure!

Cherry season is going on right now, so the orchard growers are busy and so are we.
And that's a good thing.
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