20 May 2015

Better Nests and Gardens

Better Nests and (Beaten) Gardens: May Edition

Last week while I was wandering the yard looking for my reading glasses- you know, the ones I put in a "safe place" so I wouldn't lose them- I spotted this beauty hanging from the shed.

Of course I had to bring it in to take its picture. Fortunately all the babies had flown the coop already.
It's a paper wasp nest and the "leaves" around the edges are truly like a very fine paper. Very delicate yet it held up nicely to being knocked down with a board (it was over my head, what can I say?) and brought inside. 

How can something that has a brain the size of a pinhead make this? Isn't nature amazing?

One nest got me thinking about another so I took some pics of this beauty, too.  Found it on a walk.
I think it is a hummingbird nest. Tiny and perfect.

Again, how does something with such a teeny tiny brain know how to makes something this exquisite?   A perfect little house.

And in the garden arena....well, it's not good.

Monday we woke AGAIN to snow/slush/hail. That fun was followed by a full day of rain. The cilantro and tomatoes on the back deck were swimming when I got home. Really. The back stroke, I think.  (The basil succumbed to the freeze. I have a basil stalk with no leaves. Does not bode well for pesto...)

I do have a few blooming flowers that survived the trauma. The potatoes have sent a couple of sprouts up.

The tulips....

...Which are blown but still lovely.  Hey! Is that a bee peeking out up above?

They are/were double tulips. So luscious. (And isn't "luscious" a perfect word? An ideophone. )

And this is about to do something? What is it?  I don't know. One of the bulbs from my WalMart 200 bulb pack.  Related to agapanthus or garlic?

Maybe someone can identify it and its friends next week when it blooms fully.

And no, I never found my glasses. They are somewhere in the 2 acres surrounding the cabin.
They will turn up. Eventually.

(For the edition of Better Hovels and Cabins, click here.)

18 May 2015

Meet the Neighbors: Part Two

Meet the Neighbors: Part Two 
(the really, really new neighbors!)

A coupe of weeks ago I posted about our neighbors, Martha and Maizie.

Maizie on the left, Martha on the right.

Maizie and Martha were pregnant. Appropriately, on Mother's Day they had their babies. Martha was first, having twins early in the morning. Maizie was a bit of a slacker, having her twins sometime after dark on Sunday evening.

 So meet the babies.
Personalities intact and over in the yard grazing when they were three days old.
Martha's babies have "stick-up" ears.

 Ella Mae with her Mona Lisa smile

 Howard, larger than the others and a larger- than-life personality also.

Maizie's babies have Nubian ears, they hang down. 


and Flossie. 
She's the most delicate of them all. 

Because they are goats they do goat things like butt heads:

Howard and Ella Mae

 And frolic...

And nap...

But most of the time this is what they do:

Welcome babies!

13 May 2015

Won't you come into the garden?

Won't you come into the garden? 
I would like my roses to see you.*


A garden update.
Sunday morning my garden looked like this:

Happy Mother's Day?!

Yep. About four inches of snow and everything underneath about to bloom.
I was a bit panicked, thinking everything would be dead. 
Fortunately, I was wrong. 

I have daffodils...

And the tulips are just starting to bloom...

I find it interesting that last year I bought expensive bulbs at the garden shop and they pretty much did nothing. This year I bought a cheap 200 bulb pack at WalMart and they are all up and  blooming like crazy. Not sure what the lesson is there or if there is one.


Last year's tulips- no blooms, hardly any foliage.
And they actually look better this spring than they did last.
The volunteer grape hyacinth is going to town though.

I think I can, I think I can .

And this is going to be my pride and joy. I just know it.  These are my peonies although I am pinning all of my hopes on that larger one. Doesn't look like much but it was here when we bought the cabin and I have been working on getting it to grow ever since. We made some missteps like over mulching it. And last year it got divided and I was afraid that would be the death of it.
I LOVE peonies. They are my most favorite flower ever.  I have dreamed of owning an actual plant that produces actual peonies. That would be Heaven! And yes, I know.  I could just run down to the garden store and buy a grown up plant and I would have peonies and life would be perfect. But not yet. I want THIS peony to produce.   I may be asking too much but I'm not giving up yet.

Overall the garden has flowers with more to come.
I realized that the swing, which has been there since we got it a few years ago, was blocking my view.
The fact the swing needs refinishing did not help.
Also, no one ever sat in it because it was too far from the house to engage in a conversation with the porch sitters, but also faced the cabin which was silly. There's nothing but views and pretty surrounding this place- why look at the cabin?

 This bed used to be empty except for the logs and wagon wheel.
It's a big bed, takes a lot to fill it.

So the swing has a new spot and I can see the flowers from the house. 

 It needs a flowering pot on the end, I think.
All in good time. 

View from the swing.
This is where the deer graze every morning. 
And this is a much better view than staring at the cabin.  Look! Even the weeds are getting in on the action. Blooms in the grass....

What makes it a weed? 
I think these are pretty.

Crossing my fingers that was the last snow.  The tomatoes got burned a bit as did the basil.
Hopefully they will pull through and do what they are supposed to do.

I am ready for Spring!!!

*Richard Brinsley Sheridan. One of my favorite quotes. And there are roses in the garden,  just still very tiny.  

09 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Happy Happy Mother's Day!

I am incredibly lucky to be the mommy to these guys.....

 Bunny and Belle

Me with my Big Guy.
Yes, my hair was incredibly short.

And incredibly lucky to have this woman as my mommy...

 Me with Jean Mom at the bus station in Mexico City in 1973.
We were headed to San Miguel de Allende. 

Many people tell my I am a very strong woman, whatever that means. Basically I think it means I am very much like my mom.  I look like my dad but I won't take crap from anyone. That comes from my mom. 

She allowed us kids to have a gazillion pets. A baby goat, many snakes (that were always escaping in the house), an opossum, raccoon, mice, rats, guinea pigs, cats, dogs and caimans. But never a horse...I've taken care of that now, though. 

She let me go 1000 miles away to school in Mexico when I was 18. I asked her how she could have allowed me to go so far (pre-cell phones or actually ANY phone availability and pre-Internet access) and she said "O! Well, we figured it was one of the safest places you could go!"   Mexico's reputation has certainly changed in the last 40 years. 

She was a Girl Scout leader for umpteen years, supported me through flunking 5 years of Spanish (I'm pretty fluent now but totally didn't get it in High School), and taught me to sew, paint, create. 
She totally was (and is) my example of how to get a business to do what's right.   My kids used to say I was so embarrassing when I got into the "May I speak to your manager, please?" mode but now I hear them say  "O, Mom, I had to act like you today. That store was trying to take advantage of me."
Thanks, Jean Mom!

So happy Mother's Day Jean Mom and your present is running a little late. Sorry. 


I'm also fortunate to have been a second mom to so many of the kids' friends. Rachel wins the prize for being the first to wish me a Happy Mother's Day for the last 3 years. And she's not my kid. Love that. Thao used to have me listed as her mother on Facebook. Love that, too. Ford, Parker, Dillon,  Lawrence, Brian, Taylor, Sarah, Danielle, Gabby, Jenny, Lizzy, Hannah, Jessica, Rachel, Thao, Makayla, Mailee, Shelby-I'm proud to have you all as my children. Love all of you. (And sorry if I left a name out....you know moms, they always forget one kid's name when they are trying to rattle off names.)

And happy happy day to all of my friends that became moms before I did or right along with me. They were and still are my source of so much parenting info. So kids- if I have screwed up, please place some of the blame on Diana, Liddy, Cherrilla, Martha, Megan, Cathy, Nell and probably a few other moms I can't place right now.  It takes a village....


Also, I promised an update on the garden. Except we have had rain all week and nothing quite got to blooming. We need just a bit of sun. But I am not complaining. Colorado can always use rain. And then today we got...wait for it... snow. And it is still snowing!

The back deck, and it is still coming down. 
Another inch has accumulated in the time it has taken me to write this post. 

So there will be a garden update next week IF I still have a garden. I planted so many things this past week. The tomatoes and basil got covered but all the other plants are having to fend for themselves. Cross your fingers.  


Also. A VERY happy birthday to Liddy and Nancy, who are both celebrating today.   And happy birthday to Nancy's daughter, Sydney. How special is that? Having a baby on your very own birthday!

* photo credit Christine Meeker Studio

06 May 2015

Meet the Neighbors

Meet the Neighbors....

When we bought this cabin, the property had not been cleared for probably ten years. Scrub oaks covered everything. Because fire is a real and constant threat, we did fire mitigation which is basically clearing the land of all the growth near the buildings.

Scrub oaks that have been cut down like to grow back. We've paid to have the yard weed-eated (eaten?) (eatered?) a couple of times but it's expensive and they never do a very good job. It's a lot of land to weed eat and mowers are useless because of all the stumps.  It's been suggested that a herd of goats would do a better job.

Well, guess what?  Last Fall we had goats move next door!

The neighbors.
Also known as the new lawn crew. 
The cut the grass AND fertilize.
Full service. 

These nice goats live on property that has trees and no grass. Our yard has tons of grass. Grass that needs eating.  And goats love to graze. Do you see where this is going?

I invited Martha and Maisy over to visit. And graze.  They came on leashes.

And ate. And ate. And ate. They've been coming every evening.

This is Maisy. She is a Nubian goat. A little more skittish than Martha.  Also a pickier eater. She prefers the plants that I don't want eaten, like the daffodils and the flowering shrubs. Maisy likes to vocalize. "Maaaaaaaaaaaa."

And this is Martha. She is part Alpine goat and part something else unknown. She's very laid back and is basically an eating machine. Bless her heart.
(Both girls are dairy goats. Their owner is going to teach me how to milk them!)

And if you think Martha is a little plump, you are correct. She's pregnant, as is Maisy. They are both due any day now. Next week there will be kids out in the yard, too! I am so excited because there is just NOTHING cuter than baby goats.

And goats are curious. I was holding the camera by my side and apparently the camera strap was irresistible.

We have other four footed neighbors, up the hill a bit. Also curious but not near as social. 

Alpacas. Not llamas.
The light brown one's name starts with a B but I can't remember any more than that.
Next to him is Gideon and the white one is Summit.

The alpacas' owner went out of town and asked me to just check on them, make sure no one had escaped.  These guys are pretty self sufficient. Hay, water and they are good.  

But alpacas are very skittish. These guys won't even come to their owners unless they are holding a pan of grain.  And Bunny and I wanted to get up close and personal with them. So the owners told us where to get the grain...heehee!

Anyway, Bunny and I went over and visited, grain pans in hand.

Bunny was pretty tickled when they came up to her. Aren't their faces fabulous? Love their different hairdos.

I was pretty tickled, too. (I know, I know, stand up straight.... goodness! awful posture here.)

And lucky. Usually they won't let you touch them but I guess Summit was so interested in the grain that he forgot to scoot away when I put my hand out. Or maybe because I had my tongue out concentrating, he got confused. Hard to say.

While these guys don't come mow the lawn for us (although they would probably like to) they are still entertaining. Occasionally I hear them alarm which sounds like someone is being murdered. The first few times I heard them I ran up the road expecting to see a mountain lion with alpaca parts dripping from its mouth. Nope. Just some silly alpacas playing and making noise. 

I commented on Facebook that the "Alpacas are alarming again" which started the most fun word play ever with two friends. We made it through the entire alphabet. 

The baboons were bleating before.
The cattle are cooing constantly.
And the dogs dug determinedly.
The elephants had eaten everything.
The falcons had forgotten facts.
The goats gloated gluttonously.
The hogs hurled hummus.
And iguanas ignited illegal incendiaries.
The jaguars juggled jaggedly!
The kangaroos kept their kalamata kabobs in the kennel.
The leopards licked lollipops.
The manatees mingled in the muck.
Nancie nibbled on nectarines.
Octopi occupied Ontario.
Pandas parceled packages.
The quail quelled the quibbler quickly.
(With a bonus Q in Spanish:  El quetzal quiere quietud del quĂ­mico.)
Rockin' rabbits ruminated over the rutabagas.
The sloths are still snoozing.
Tigers tickled the terrified toad.
Unicorns are unilaterally united under the ukeleles.
Vultures voraciously vomit their vitamins.
Wolves want worts.
Xenopus xeroxes the x-rays.
Yucky yaks yodeled.
Zippily the zebras zapped their zippers.

Are your neighbors that inspiring? 

(We also have bunnies and chickens behind us, along with cats across the street and plenty of dogs. But the goats and alpacas are special. That's why they get their own post. )

04 May 2015

Flowers in the House on a Monday

Flowers in the House....May Edition

Good Monday morning!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

I spent mine in Denver with my wonderful friend, Diana, who is back from China finally.
We ate at a great little Mexican food restaurant on Friday night (North County in Lowry) and she had a tiny dinner party on Saturday night.   I am loving home entertaining more and more...little dinners here and there. Not big production dinners but tiny dinners with a few friends. We watched the running of the Kentucky Derby while drinking Mojitos which are really Mint Juleps sans the bourbon and silver tumblers.

On the way back to the cabin on Sunday I stopped at a couple of the big box home stores and bought flowers. Hoping I got some deer resistant ones! We shall see.   Also picked up tomatoes and herbs. Between the tomatoes that are going on the deck and the potatoes in the garden, I should be able to satisfy the requirements of No. 39: Grow a Vegetable from Scratch.

So later this weekend I will have an outdoor garden update but for today, I snipped a few flowers and plopped them on the kitchen table. I'm linking up with Jane at Small but Charming for Flowers in the House, her first Monday of the month celebration of flowers, so you can visit her page and see all kinds of glorious flowers.


That bunny is left over from Easter- I  figure he works just fine for Spring.
Hey look! There are flowers hanging outside the window, too!

Lantana, Grape Hyacinth, Mexican Heather and Daffs...
all from my garden.
(Or soon to be from my garden once they are planted.)

Check out the other Springtime flowers over at Small but Charming.
And check back with me later in the week for a garden update and a visit with my neighbors. 

01 May 2015

Humility Block? Intentional? Personality?

Imperfections: Humility or Personality? 

I finished my little commission quilt. I guess it can be an extension of No. 8: Make baby quilts again.

So much fun.

Five old flannel shirts, well worn, well loved and a bit tattered, were the basis for this quilt. A toddler boy will be the recipient, the great nephew of the shirt owner. Isn't that a lovely idea? Loved shirts going to a loved child? Recycling at its best.

 Five shirts.

 Cut up...

New fabric was purchased for the trim and the backing.

Twenty four squares, 48 triangles sewn into blocks, then strips, then a quilt front.   One little triangle was added that was completely different, not from the shirt fabric.

Made into a bunch of triangles.

The reason for that?

I have always heard that the Amish believed that only God can create perfection, so they always added an imperfection in their quilts.  The Amish make beautiful quilts, colorful and precise, completely hand quilted.

Well, imagine my surprise when I looked up Amish quilts and discovered that the "only God can create perfection"  line is a myth.


I'm  sticking with the myth.

I learned my lesson once. A beautiful quilt, made for my nephew, with every little corner meeting perfectly, was almost complete, only needing a few threads trimmed.  The colors were uniform, nothing out of order. Hand quilted. Perfect. I was so proud of it because it was definitely the most precisely made quilt I had ever sewn.
Trimming those threads, I cut a hole  in the backing.  Yep.  A big ol' hole.   Had to patch it with a little fabric heart to cover it up.

That was the last time I made a quilt without a mistake.
I don't want to test the fates/God/gods/whatever.

Now they all have a quirk. This one has that different piece of fabric, unrelated to any of the others.

See that piece of green plaid up in the right hand corner? 
Intentional mistake.

A couple of the corners don't meet perfectly.  Not intentional, but it gives the  quilt personality.
And I will take personality over perfection. Is that humility? Or acceptance?

I don't know and I don't care.

A little quilt, imperfections and all, will warm and comfort its new little owner.

Cozy Polar fleece backing, a couple of pockets for treasures, 
and soft, broken-in flannel for the front. 
Perfection in its own way.