Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A "from the top" perspective

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a "from the top" perspective.

A "from the top" view helps me capture unusual images of my garden.

I'm looking straight down on these perennials and love what I see.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Single blooms

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for single blooms.

Large floral bouquets usually catch my eye when I survey my garden. This afternoon, however, single blooms are the celebrities du jour.

Here are portraits of some of the loveliest "stars."

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garden visitors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for garden visitors.

A pair of tiny, yellow-chested birds (finches?) frolics in one of many cat mint bushes. I think this is a couple - the more intensely colored male is at the top.

Birds, bees, butterflies. Daily, my summer gardens welcome them all.

(Note: To date, no visiting bee has stung me. I think bees know better than to annoy the gardener.)

For these blessings, I am thankful.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A small but perfect harvest

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a small but perfect summer harvest.

To my delight, the Swiss Chard plants in my edible garden are growing quickly. Each evening, I pick a large handful of leaves for my dinner salad or stir fry.

The rhubarb looks ready to harvest - will have just enough for a pie, a crumble or jam.

Finally, we're ready for homemade Mojitos thanks to a bounty of sweet mint and endless batches of my special fresh herb-rich marinara sauce thanks to the thriving rosemary, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme and lovage.

Top to bottom: mint, rosemary, lovage, sage
For this blessing, I am grateful.


T's Recovery

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for T's recovery.

He made it through Wednesday's surgery and two annoyingly restless nights (well, annoying to me).

T post-surgery - finally falls asleep after the ordeal

This morning, the veg examined the wound and changed the dressing. So far, so good.

The best news for T, our furniture and us: As long as he leaves his bandaged leg alone, T does not have to wear the dreaded Elizabethan collar.

T sleeps with new bandage, sans Elizabethan collar
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 20, 2011

My favorite gardening companion

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my favorite gardening companion.

T at 14.5 years
On his best days, T hobbles around the backyard, favoring his right hind leg. His arthritic hips hinder his mobility. He no longer races along the fence line or fetches a favorite toy or reacts to a teasing squirrel. Not that he doesn't want to. He just can't, and he knows it.

While I tend my gardens, he no longer follows me around the yard. Instead, he stands on the patio and watches from afar. More like the lord of the manor than my supervisor.

T turned 14.5 years old on Saturday. Elderly by Labrador Retriever and human standards. he still walks with S twice a day - usually two very slow laps around the park with an occasional journey along the trail, alley or main road. T has walked around that darn park tens of thousands of times.

The owner of the pet food store always reminds me that T's longevity is a testament to our love for him. Only the best for T, I always say. The best food, the purest water, the finest treats, the softest blankets, the most hugs.

T's longevity also means that he is susceptible to old age infirmities. Last week, at his annual exam, we learned that the "cyst" on his foreleg is a sarcoma. The "veg" (our term for veterinarian) assured us that T is strong enough for surgery, so we scheduled the procedure for this Wednesday, June 22. If you like or even love T, please pray for him, the surgical team and us.

For this very special blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

My dad

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my dad.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Cambell, Hallowed Ground

My second Father's Day without Dad. Last year's remembrance was especially difficult - he died on May 15 so my grief was fresh and familiar.

This year, I'm doing better. I think about him daily - good thoughts - especially while I'm tending my gardens. The special place in my heart reserved just for Dad-things, however, is still quiet and sad, awaiting just one more happy memory.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.
Liatris in full bloom
For this blessing, I am thankful.


Monday, June 13, 2011

A blooming garden

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a blooming garden.


My gardens are abloom. Nearly all the perennials survived our cold, very arid winter.

I'm not sure my dad would have enjoyed my eclectic, drought tolerant garden.

My friend, Elsie, however, would have been delighted.

Edible & Perennial Garden

North Garden
North Garden - shady section near house

North Garden - fence corner

Blue Flax


Columbine - white


Snow in Summer

Mat Daisies (closed buds)


For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

A really good sale

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a really good sale.

As you may know, I am trying to "fast" clothes buying this year. So far, in 2011, I have spent less than $25 on clothes (an all-time low for me).

Today, however, I stopped by one of my favorite thrift/consignment stores where the selection in small and extra-small sizes is usually quite good. I ended up buying a few things at bargain prices:
  • 1 Banana Republic long sleeve cotton blouse $.75
  • 1 pair of new Worthington grey trousers for work $2.00
  • 1 pair of new Fabrizio Gianni black stretch capris $1.37
  • 1 Sara Arizona black rayon cardigan $2.00
  • 1 black camisole - $.75
Now I have to get rid of 5 items from my closet. You know the rule: buy one item, give one away.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 03, 2011

A good night's sleep

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good night's sleep.

Most days, I operate in sleep-deficit mode.

Occasionally, I get a good night's sleep. I define this rare phenomenon as follows: duration exceeds 5 hours of  uninterrupted slumber; I wake up naturally.

Perhaps tonight is the night.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Elsie, 1933-2011

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Elsie, 1933-2011.

  From an aunt, long ago: 
"Death has come for me many times 
but finds me always in my lovely garden 
and leaves me there, I think, 
as an excuse to return."
~Robert Brault

Elsie - writer, teacher, philosopher, historian and gardener extraordinaire - died unexpectedly on May 15. The annual  Horticultural Art Society plant sale for which Elsie managed several key functions, also ended that afternoon. She wasn't there, however. The June HAS newsletter reported that she did not feel well on Saturday and left the sale early to go home and rest. She died the next day. 

I didn't volunteer for the plant sale this year, although Elsie called and asked me to do so. I just didn't have the time or energy for this extracurricular activity. I regret that I did not return her call.

Elsie's death caught me completely by surprise. I missed the announcement, missed her funeral, missed saying good-bye. I know the plant sale volunteers will miss her at this year's celebration picnic. Picnic early birds could enjoy a small glass of her fresh strawberry or peach daiquiri, spiked, of course, with a splash of white rum.

Elsie encouraged me to be adventurous with my plant selections and inspired my small but interesting perennial edible garden. She was a tireless and generous resource for horticultural information. Now, we will no longer be able to say, "Ask Elsie."

My dad died last year on May 15. Now, sadly, Elsie's name joins his on my calendar.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Warm dirt

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for warm dirt.

Friends in San Juan Capistrano are already enjoying a bountiful harvest of homegrown tomatoes. To date, I haven't planted a single vegetable which means I am way behind in Southern California time but right on time in Colorado Springs.

I bought one cherry tomato plant. That's it for this year - I promise. I don't know when I'll plant it. The Master Gardener at the nursery reminded me not to do so until the nighttime temperature is consistently above 40 degrees. Tomatoes need warm dirt. At nearly 7,000 feet in altitude, we're not quite there. Maybe in a week, or two I'll have warm dirt. If not, I will forget about tomatoes this year and indulge in organics and heirlooms at the Farmer's Market - much easier but less fun.

Next weekend, I will finally get to plant eggplant and my all-time favorite Swiss Chard in the garden plot. In pots, I will transplant Globe basil and hot peppers. I now wish I had bought the beets - love the greens in salad. I will look for more Japanese eggplant, hot peppers and herbs, and maybe one zucchini.

And, in case you're wondering, here's what's already growing in my edible garden:

Nearly ready for harvesting:
  • Rhubarb

Already harvesting:
  • Chives
  •  Tarragon - my "secret" ingredient in pasta sauces, delicious raw in salads

  • Sage
  • Lovage (has a mild celery taste - easy to grow - hosts swallowtail larvae)
  • Mint (for homemade Mojitos)
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary - grown in pots, over-wintered indoors
  • Oregano - grown in a pot, over-wintered indoors

  •  Jerusalem artichokes - perennials, have never harvested (keep forgetting - don't ask why)
  • Shallots - forgot to harvest last two years; planted more this year

For these blessings, I am grateful.