As the azaleas drop the last of their flowers, it’s time for the Serbian bellflowers (Campanula poscharskyanato) to put on a show. The bellflowers started to flower last week, and now they’re producing color in earnest.
The plants are small, so I placed several under the azalea’s canopy. They took a few years to establish, but now the star-shaped flowers push their way through the azalea’s foliage when the azalea finishes blooming.
The bellflowers are a beautiful shade of purple to almost blue. We have several growing along the front of our living room window as well. They’re easy to grow, and unlike the azaleas, they bloom for some time.
I tried to get Lindy to look up at the camera, but she wanted no part of it. I snapped the photo anyway. Lindy adds charm to any picture, face-on or otherwise. She’s a sweet cat with a lovely disposition.
It’s Friday evening as I write this with an eye on the weather. We’re forecast for a 70% chance of rain on Sunday. We’re all doing our version of a rain dance, hoping that the wet weather materializes. Here’s hoping my next post is full of rainy day garden pics.
I hope you enjoy your weekend ahead, rain or shine.
It’s the autumn equinox here in the northern hemisphere, or in simpler terms, the first day of fall. It’s also our wedding anniversary.
Today (September 23) sees the 2019 autumn equinox, the moment when the planet’s northern hemisphere swaps with the southern hemisphere to become the one furthest from the sun.
Autumn is a good time to reflect, especially in the garden. While the perennials remain robust year-round, summer annuals are closing up shop.
We had a second year of disappointing tomatoes. Despite my best efforts planting the EarthBoxes with fresh soil and fertilizer, moving them to a new location and ensuring they got full sun, production was blah. My garden mojo took a hit.
This stripey variety took months to set fruit. While they look interesting, I didn’t care for the thicker texture. All in all, one plant produced half a dozen tomatoes. Sigh.
This was also my first season without pumpkins. We’ve relied entirely on the squirrels to plant them each year, even if their planting methods are unconventional. By the time I fully noticed, it was too late to plant on my own.
I had brief hope. After amending the mix in a planting box with heavy, sandy soil, a few pumpkin plants appeared. It seemed unlikely that they would amount to much, but while I was traveling in July they took hold. Alas, they didn’t establish in time. Although the plants became vines and proffered a few blooms, there was no time for setting fruit.
On a brighter note, I received this gorgeous yellow calla lily in a pot last year. Mike transplanted it for me in the front garden and it’s spreading its proverbial wings.
It’s flowered twice and is now showing off its interesting seed pods as the plant goes dormant.
Our garden is densely planted now, requiring careful thought when a new plant joins the mix. This calla lives in the shadow of the Magnolia tree, not far from the deck. I love the cheerful display.
Nepeta, also known as catnip or catmint reseeds every year. It’s an herb, pleasing to cats, and humans alike. It produces a subtle scent in the garden unless of course, you’re a cat.
Our cats become quite possessive of the plant near the patio, though Mouse likes to visit the plant in the side yard as well. We all have our favorites.
As the temperatures change, the nasturtiums return
End of season for the pink hydrangea
Succulents and nasturtium
Anemone in full bloom and really tall this year
The path is passable once again
As for anniversaries, I married this wonderful man 24 years ago today.
It was the first day of autumn that year as we wed on the grounds of Wente Brother’s winery in Livermore. The day went by in a blur, so I’m grateful for the photographs that help solidify the memories. I’m grateful for Mike every day and for our life together.
I’m grateful for you, too, dear reader, for continuing to show up and read my posts.
I started teaching myself how to crochet earlier in the year as a way to relax. I follow quite a few crafty bloggers, and several of them excel at crochet. Was I missing out on all that fun? These clever crocheters seem to pick it up and put it down as casually as a grocery list. I’ll even venture to guess that a few of you have a hook dancing in your lap as you read this.
I learned to sew at the age of six and our mom taught us the basics of knitting a few years later, but crocheting wasn’t part of her repertoire. I learned how to make a chain, and my skill set ended there.
It’s been slow going, but crocheting is as relaxing as I knew it would be, after I mastered a few knots. The book-learning bores me to tears, but once I get the hang of a stitch, my shoulders drop and the soothing rhythm I craved takes over.
During a comment conversation on Tall Tales From Chiconia, I offered to send Kate a couple of large crochet hooks in a size she couldn’t find at home. Kate graciously offered to make me something in return. I know she’s pleased to have a pair of plastic crochet hooks in sizes N and Q, but I’m over the moon at what she offered in return: this gorgeous, handcrafted tool roll in all my favorite colors!
Crochet Hook Tool Roll
Opened Tool Roll
Tool Roll Interior
Gorgeous color and texture
As I cast my eyes on this lovely thing, I keep reminding myself that it’s a tool roll, not a museum for lonely crochet hooks. The heat will pass, our busy kitten will mellow and I will sign up for a class to further my skills so that I can continue with this relaxing craft, turning out something I don’t mind bringing out into the light of day.
That said, and in the spirit of Jan’s garden post, here are the meager beginnings of what I hope to call craft one day.
My rectangle looks like a necktie
Practicing with scraps of yarn
The end of the skein
My uneven blanket
Tension seems okay but then this
Artsy photo to make it look like I know what I’m doing
Thank you once again, Kate, for this beautiful, thoughtful gift.
Lindy likes my new hobby
Mouse is fine with the hobby, as long as he still fits in my lap.
I miss that word. It’s fun to say and wonderful to experience. Without so much as a backward glance, I’ve decided to welcome it back into my life. Who says you can’t choose a word of the year in March? After all the start of a new season is just around the corner.
I will continue to resist, volunteer, and make my voice heard, but I’m also going to focus on the positives, the synergies and the serendipity in life, no matter how small.
Here are a few that make me smile.
I enjoy playing Words With Friends, a kind of online Scrabble. Most of my friends are high-scoring players, so though I often lose, I’m improving and enjoying the challenge. I played the word “Tui” in a game with my smart and clever friend Mary Elizabeth who wasn’t familiar with the word. Then a few days later she found these gorgeous tea mugs. Serendipity! ) Thank you once again, ME.
New Zealand Tui mugs from Mary Elizabeth
About a year ago, Marlene who blogs at In Search of It All sent me a stunning, machine-embroidered gift. Isn’t it lovely? I debated turning it into a pillow or framing it, so I just let it be for a while. Then I realized that the colors worked beautifully with a small throw pillow in the some-times guest room. (It’s my son’s room but he’s mostly away at college). I ironed the edges and hand-stitched the embroidery to the pillow. Perfection! When my son came home from college for the summer, I planned to store the pillow in a closet. On a whim I took into our bedroom. Serendipity! The colors go beautifully. Thank you once again, Marlene.
Embroidered panel, left, made into a pillow and modeled by Mouse the Cat, right
The third and far less interesting moment of serendipity arrived in a large plastic bag. It was part of the packaging for our new printer. Long story, but I’ve been meaning to make a cover for a mobility chair that lives in the garage along with dust bunnies and bugs. I bought it for my mom in her declining years to help get her to her medical appointments. I kept it after she passed and my sister was able to use it when she first returned from Iowa (she has MS). Last year it came in handy for outings when I was recovering from surgery. And I’ve loaned it out several times to a neighbor who’s had many surgeries herself.
So back to the printer bag. It’s an odd size, wider than a large trash bag but not that tall. On a whim I tried it out on the mobility chair, and you guessed it, serendipity! It’s the perfect size and shape. It saved me the trouble of making one, it kept the plastic bag out of the landfill, and I like that it’s clear.
Mobility chair with custom-sized cover
So how about you? Do you look for these special moments in your life?
Lindy wanted to be including in this post. She insists that this shoe box is the perfect size for her girlish figure. Ah…serendipity?
It’s been years since I napped in public. It was much more common in my youth. I could fall asleep anywhere: curled up in a chair at the college student union, at the beach with friends or on a wide swath of lawn with a boring textbook close at hand.
The idea of sleeping under a tree seems idyllic, but in reality you get twigs in your hair and bugs in the wrong places. Unless of course you’re a cat.
An afternoon snooze on a warm spring day
Though her senses remain muddled, Slinky Malinki, my shiny black kitty is still with us. She found her way out the back door into the garden this weekend, and settled herself in a cool spot of green under the maple tree. She spends most of her time sleeping, but her appetite remains good. She grooms her coat to a lovely shine.
Slinky’s cozy little nest
She’s the grand dame of the house, keeping Lindy and Mouse in their place, even with her limited vision. If either one of them gets too close, she takes a random swing in their direction. They’ve learned to give her a wide berth, even though they are more than twice her size.
Mighty Mouse in the garden
Lindy keeping a respectful distance
Living with Slinky reminds me a lot of the toddler years. She wants in until she’s out; then she immediately wants back in. I close the door, leave the room and she starts howling to go out again. She walks out the back door, takes a few steps, and then she wants to come in. I can hear her howling at me now to open the door once again. I’m outwardly patient, but weary as well. She’ll be ready for another nap soon.
We have a cat fountain indoors along with a small water bowl near Slinky’s favorite sleeping spot. No matter. She wants to go outside and drink from the cold water in the bowl on the steps. She relieves herself in the garden, even though she has a litter box. She uses that too…or the floor when the mood strikes. She’s officially crossed over into high-maintenance territory, leaving me feeling weary when the day is through.
Whoever said “dogs have owners, cats have staff” knew what they were talking about.
A few of my friends let me know that today is National Cat Day. Of course every day is cat day around here. We currently reside with three delightful felines. On occasion, that number has swelled to six. It never drops below two. Once we went to the Humane Society and adopted a cat, but most of the time the cats find us. They’re all former strays, or occasionally kitties that decide we offer better care, kibble and karma than they’re finding at home. Everyone is welcome.
I love all animals but I’ve always had a strong affinity for cats, probably because it’s what we grew up with.
Here is the current lineup:
Slinky is our senior cat, or so we think. She arrived as a somewhat feral stray. It took a long, long time to gain her trust, but she’s made remarkable strides over the years. She’s a tiny thing at only six pounds (3 kilos), with shiny silky black fur that shines in the sun and beautiful, albeit weary, green eyes.
Slinky looking leery
Lindy came home with us from the Humane Society on our son’s 8th birthday. She was around three then, putting her at 13 today. My husband says she’s part dog, because she comes when called, displays all the mellower characteristics of a dog and at 16 pounds (7 kilos), she’s bigger than some of the pooches on our street.
Lindy with my son
Mighty Mouse (named by the family that adopted him) pretty much lives at our house. He’s about five years old, full of energy and makes us smile with all his antics. It’s hard for me to understand why he’s allowed to roam, but we do our best to keep him safe, warm and fed. He spends his nights in a cozy bed in our garage or in my son’s room. He eats here, sleeps here and likes to play and “box” with Lindy. She puts up with him, and keeps him in line when necessary.
This photo exemplifies Mouse’s personality
We adore them one and all.
Do you live with a cat? A dog? Perhaps birds, fish or reptiles? I can’t imagine life without animals. They make my world go round.
Happy National Cat Day!
My Cat Hero:
Alicia Snelen Koberstein has spent most of this year promoting understanding about, and support for, a colony of feral cats who live on the shores of “Cat” Harbor on Catalina Island. She’s coordinated volunteers to help trap, neuter and return this colony of cats, in addition to providing medical care where needed. She’s arranged boats, coordinated flights to relocate a few of the high-risk cats to a sanctuary, while raising funds for food, shelter and veterinary care. She’s my hero.
If you’re interested in supporting this colony of cats, you can make a tax-deductible financial contribution, go to http://www.aprl-socal.org/ and click “Donate”. When you reach the page to confirm the amount, look for the link that says “add special instructions to recipient”. Click on that, then type “Cat Harbor Cats” so that your donation will be directed to them instead of going into the general fund.
Yesterday was busy from stem to stern: carpooling, walking, working and the usual day-to-day activities. It was also unseasonably warm, a day begging to be spent outdoors.
I took the spare minutes that I had and sat on the back steps.
Wishing I had my camera, I spotted five hummingbirds sunning themselves on the bare branches of the fruit cocktail tree. Delightful. Then a pair of mourning doves swooped down, foraging in the earth under the tree.
Now I *had* to grab my camera.
Once back outside, the birds had moved on but a squirrel took their place.
Lindy followed me outside and settled into a sun-warmed layer of leaves beneath the Acer. Mouse followed and had a long drink from the garden fountain.
Lindy enjoying the warmth under the Acer tree
I prowled the garden, making mental notes:
Remember to grab some twine and attach the Abutilon to the fence
Call the arborist and get a quote for pruning the fruit tree
Check the weather forecast for rain as things are looking dry
Staple the wooden slat back to the fence
Bring in one of the oranges as an offering to the indoor rat, missing in action
Orange: side one
Orange: side two
Five minutes probably turned into ten. The garden absorbs me and I lose all sense of time. The camera grew heavier in my hands. Reluctantly, I headed back inside.
What would you do with an extra five minutes today?