Tag Archives: gardening

Fall into Autumn

Moving from September into October is a delightful fall into autumn in Phoenix. September is still hot. It’s a nasty remnant of summer hanging on past its prime. But October is one of the best months here. Still balmy, but not hot. Sunny days, but sometimes the sky is a little overcast. The snakes are getting ready to hibernate, and the rabbits and quail are old enough to watch out for predators.

The gardener thought it was a good time to put in a couple of new cacti. Within a day of planting one of the cacti developed black spots on it. He ended up agreeing to cut off the limbs with the spots, and they gave him some smaller plants to make up for it. I don’t think that was a great solution. I would have preferred a new plant because I worry about contagion and because now we have a maimed cactus. But he can’t let any plant go to waste. He treats them like the living beings they are.

Then his years-old barrel cactus (it’s not a regular barrel cactus, but some sort of barrel) fell over (it’s fall! it’s fall! sorry). He’s grown that baby into what he says is a $500 plant. But now look at it. So sad. He propped it up, and the man at the landscape store told him it might live. Looks pathetic to me.

What happened, I guess, is that the gardener planted it in the right spot years ago, but a new company came in and worked on the irrigation. They “fixed” it to the point where too much water was hitting that cactus. Because it was near the wash, we aren’t around it when the water came on, so we didn’t know that was happening.

But now that it’s getting cooler (70s and 80s), it’s much easier to work outside, so the gardener is happy about that.

Speaking of fall: pumpkin ice cream bars! I kid you not. I got them at Whole Foods. Vanilla wafers and pumpkin ice cream. That reminds me that I need to look for the pumpkin butter I got last year. That stuff was so good on the gluten-free bakery’s yummy bagels. Don’t try to make me feel bad about pumpkin. I was eating cold pumpkin pie and Cool Whip for breakfast long before you ever thought of it! (News flash: the bars are making me sick which shows me how bad my lactose intolerance is getting).

Felix seems to be ok, but I am taking no chances. I watch for his business on the potty cam every day. Tiger is getting sub q fluids to help her system deal with kidney disease. That makes me feel bad for Pear who is 4 years older and has had kidney disease at least as long as that, but gets no fluids. However, at 19, I think Pear would prefer to just lie in comfort on “her” couch, rather than be hauled off to the vet’s office twice a week. Sloopy Anne does not seem to be throwing up now that I put her on hypoallergenic food (we’ll see if that continues). Kana and Perry are ok for now.

I’ve been puttering (pottering for some of you) around with my writing lately. Continuing to tweak the memoir that looks WAY different than it did a couple of years ago. Revising poems and sending them out.  I might take a look at some old prose pieces, too, and see if anything can be done with them. This feels like where I am right now: refining, not originating. And that’s ok. It takes less energy, but is still rewarding. That is a good thing in this time of much busyness in business, as well as family and cat stuff going on.

There are only three months left to reach my 2019 publication goal. Luckily, I have a new poem up which I posted about on Saturday. Here it is: BEHOLD THE NEEDLE at Thimble Literary Magazine.

If you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, L’Shanah Tovah! If you celebrate fall, Happy October tomorrow. Friday is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. He holds a special place in my heart. The animals and the environment, you know. Make it a great week.

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Adding this fun update. Remember when I wrote about my music box? According to Robyn who blogs at Holding to the Ground it was in January. She took me up on my request that you guys write about the secret life of an object! It’s a wonderful piece–enjoy and see if you don’t get ticked off at her mom, too (by the way). The Secret Life of a Clock Radio

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Filed under #AmWriting, #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Writing

Catchall: a receptacle for odds and ends.

OK, here is my catchall post. Last year at this time my father had just passed away and I had my second set of hummingbird babies to look after. Mac, my oldest cat, was dying.

Since the hummingbird had laid her eggs outside my window two years in a row, we were hopeful she would return this year. I suspect she too has now passed away. Her nest is empty and disintegrating.

Why is this woman putting a watermark on this ugly photo, you might ask. I would ask that, even if I didn’t articulate it. Answer: just cause. It’s part of my turning over a new leaf goal.

If you think this is the only abandoned nest around me, think again. There are at least two more.

nest 2

If you haven’t seen this video about a hummingbird, it will start your weekend off right!

What else is happening (or not happening) in my life?

Flowers are happening, thank goodness.

The above flowers are a sample from a decorative pot. We have these in beds, too. After realizing that a lot of colors (pink, purple, pastel, YELLOW) don’t look well with our gold-toned stucco, we found that by putting a variety of strong colors together–reds, oranges, burgundies, rusts, blues, whites–that they look great!

Lots of cactus flowers this year, too!

The reason I leave a lot of the gardening to my live-in gardener is because Arizona gardening can be dangerous. This is just one reason why.

These agave thorns have messed up my gardener more than once. Very very painful.

Although I pick up my mail outside amidst the flowers and empty nests, I bring it inside to open it (usually). Yesterday I got a “catalog” from the symphony with next year’s options. Look at this.

Shostakovich and Cello right next to each other! I don’t think so. Not after my last experience with both. I wrote about it in Hypersensitive to a Sound?

But the good news is they are performing Vaughn Williams. Woot!

Another item that came in the mail was a lion costume for my cats. It looked so cute online, but when I got it I saw that it wasn’t for cats at all, but for kittens. To try it on Felix, I had to add a long piece of velcro under his chin. And it doesn’t look near as cute as in the advertisement because it needs a tiny kitten face so that the “mane” overwhelms it. But Felix is very good humored and let me fool around with it anyway.

So what else is new around here, you might ask? Well, you might not, but I will ask it for you. Just . . . so . . . I . . . can . . . show you the new resident at my house!

 

Yes, we are fostering Slupe!!! I couldn’t let her stay at the shelter any longer. TWO YEARS. She has her own room for now, with a view of bunnies, birds, and lizards. I will write more after she’s been here a little longer.

Everyone, have a lovely weekend. For my American peeps, Happy Memorial Day. Keeping those I’ve lost in my heart.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Art and Music, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Inspiration, Writing

Am I Producing Leaves or Flowers?

Lots of ideas for blog posts have crossed my mind lately. Then they have kind of walked in reverse back out of my mind. Everything seems “deeper” than I can handle currently.  You should see how cute Kana is sleeping next to me, by the way. I figured out how to keep her from annoying Tiger who sleeps in the corner of the window seat: I put a big piece of two way tape across the opening where Kana would lie to intimidate comfort Tiger. Tiger can walk over the tape to get to her safety spot, but Kana can’t lie there without discomfort. So far, so good!

I just noticed that the two hibiscus bushes that flank my front door have gone in different directions this year. In the past, they looked very similar. But look at them now! Let’s call this one A.

And this one will be B.

Hibiscus B has a thick head of dark, glossy leaves, but few blossoms. Hibiscus A is rich in blossoms, but the foliage is lighter-colored, less shiny, and sparse.

Maybe something went awry in the gardening (see my live-in gardener about that).

Or maybe it’s a metaphor. If we’re busy making leaves, we don’t have enough energy left for blossoms. And if we’re sprouting blossoms like crazy we neglect our leaves?

What have I been up to lately besides work? Well, more work. And some writing. And doctor appointments–catch up time of the year, ya know.

Only question is: am I producing leaves or flowers right now?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape

Between Arizona’s Dry Winter and Hot Summer, We Get an Ideal Spring

My latest short memoir piece was just published by Six Hens. This nonfiction story was very difficult to write and even more difficult to think of publishing. Called “Boundaries,” it’s about a time when my boundaries were invaded by someone else–and just at that vulnerable season of puberty.

“BOUNDARIES” AT SIX HENS

It’s a glorious spring here in Arizona, so I snapped some pix of what I see outside, just to remind me when I’m inside.

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All of these beauties survived the freezes this winter, with a little help from the humans. Hubby and I covered them with old sheets and freeze cloths every time the temperature dipped.

Starting to write again TODAY. Thanks for the motivation last week!!!

If you like the Arizona landscape, I do have a few poems that touch upon that subject in Doll God.  Haha, I haven’t plugged my book in awhile!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Publishing, Writing, Writing Talk

Writing Sometimes Means Getting Up Off the Chair

Spring in Arizona is glorious. We never did have winter this year, but I can tell it’s spring because there is a nest of baby quail behind the house. All but two of them hatched yesterday. A large and messy nest weighs down a flimsy Palo Verde branch overhanging the wash. I watched the bird fly back and forth to the nest, but the bird was so small and my vision so limited that I couldn’t make out the type of bird.

We also have lots of blossoming shrubs and trees and vines. Bougainvilleas are one of the more distinctive blossoms.

Living in the southwestern United States, I expect to see Bougainvilleas as backdrop to certain settings, especially around the walls of Spanish and Italian style stucco houses.

Bougainvilleas are apparently native to South America, but they have made their way to Arizona and California–and to the Philippines and southern European countries.

They are well-known for their distinctive reddish (but not red) color. The shade differs a bit, according to the sunlight and the soil. They come in both vine and bush varieties.

My husband and I decided we wanted to buy a few new bougainvillea vines, and the company delivered them to us. The place we wanted to put them is not only across the driveway from our other bougainvilleas, but on the same wall as our neighbor’s plants.

So it was important to match the color. Not a problem, I figured. To my knowledge, all Bougainvillea plants were the same color. (I always envision how gorgeous they are against white stucco near the beach in San Diego).

The plants that were dropped off at my house, though, were an orangey shade. They completely clashed.

The company exchanged them. For a hot pink color. I couldn’t figure out how it could be so hard to select the right color when all the Bougainvillea between the Pacific Ocean and New Mexico were the same color.

I checked the internet. Apparently there are over 80 different Bougainvillea plants

So I got off my writer roots (that’s the body part you use to plant yourself on the chair at the computer) and hauled myself to the nursery–armed with a twig from ours, a twig from my neighbor’s, and a twig from the hot pink so-not-right plants.

The man who helped me at first showed me to a section of Bougainvillea. I matched my “swatches” the best I could, but nothing seemed quite right. I said, “I want the color of San Diego Bougainvillea.” He just gaped at me.

I felt as if I were in that scene from Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream HouseI was Myrna Loy describing paint color to her gape-mouthed painters:

I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong!

When Myrna Loy is done with the full description, the painters say:

Mr. PeDelford: You got that, Charlie?

Charlie: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

Mr. PeDelford: Check.

That was how much my flower man cared about the color I needed. I hemmed and hawed and sent him on another errand.

In a few minutes, Ryan (an everyday hero) stopped by to help me. He brought me to another section of the nursery. All the Bougainvillea, vines and bushes, were the right color. And they were 1/3 the price of the other colors. Go figure.

What I learned is that when you want the correct San Diego color Bougainvillea you want to buy “Barbara Karst Bougainvillea.” That’s all you need to know. Those will be the perfect ones.

My new vine matches my neighbor's boughs.

My new vine matches my neighbor’s boughs.

Now I want to know how one goes about getting one’s name on such a well-known flower. And who is/was Barbara Karst?

Do you have a gardening tip to share?

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Filed under Arizona, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing