Results May Vary

pair-of-snails

A pair of voracious snails

The expression “results may vary” always make me laugh. Since the early days of advertising, we’ve been sold a bill of goods.

  • One size fits all (ahem)
  • Guaranteed results (or your money back)
  • New and improved

and so on.

Do you ever find yourself applying these terms to everyday life?

Mine would go something like this: I’m going to head out into the world today, knowing full well that results may vary. I’m going to shrug into my one size fits all sweater, which is actually a size large…just in case. Life does not come with guarantees, but if it did, I might be able to get compensation for that big bruise on my shin.  (My life’s mantra: slow down, Alys, slow down!) And finally, far from being new and improved I would like to offer up a more accurate slogan: Old and improving.  I like the idea of being a better person with the rise of each day, but there is nothing new about the four step maneuver it takes to get out of bed.

These same advertising slogans have been rattling around in my head when I’m in the garden. One example:  I planted an old packet of broccoli seeds figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained. A small cluster of seedlings sprouted giving me hope. I thinned them to a respectable number and waited for the plants to take off. They’re not dead, but they’re not growing either. The seedlings remain in a suspended animation weeks after planting. Results may vary.

broccoli-seedlings

Broccoli Seedlings: Grow baby, grow!

Last summer I planted our fountain with succulents. It’s a long story for another day, but suffice it to say that is one expensive planter. I’m not well versed on the variety of succulents available, and the nurseries provide scant clues. The pot might say “two-inch succulent” or “four-inch succulent” which tells me nothing about growth habits.  As you can see from the photo below, it’s not a one size fits all proposition. The plan was to have the center plant gradually grow up, while its companions to the left and right gracefully trailed over the edges.

copper-planter-with-succulents-september-2016

Copper planter with succulents, September, 2016

copper-fountain-planted-with-succulents-nov-23-2016-10-13-am

Copper fountain planted with succulents, November, 2016

Nature is as nature does.

As for “guaranteed results or your money back”, I’m pretty sure there is a disclaimer for acts of god or nature. There are no guarantees when it comes to gardening. You can plant a seed, water it, and hope that it grows. Have you seen those seed packets? Those plants are amazing! I’ll buy a hundred, and grow produce for the entire neighborhood. I’ll have vases of gorgeous, fresh flowers scattered throughout the house. It’s guaranteed!

tulip-bulbs-in-packets

Tulip Bulbs: So much promise, so little return

Darwin knew what he was talking about. It’s all about survival of the fittest. I plant seeds, and they refuse to grow. I plant bulbs, and the squirrels dig them up and either eat them or toss them on the deck. Seedlings pop through the soil but then snails eat them in the dead of night. Plants that overcome these obstacles, must contend with birds, squirrels, rats, drought, stink bugs, fungus, scale and sometimes this careless gardener who forgets to water a dried out pot. Guaranteed!

Finally, new and improved might mean pesticide-laden seeds. I like to garden old school: heirloom plants and seeds in a pesticide-free garden. As I mentioned earlier, old and improving.

seed-packets

Beautiful Illustrations of hope and promise…guaranteed!

And that, my friends, brings me back full circle. Results may vary. Sometimes that’s a wonderful thing. My entire front garden self-seeded once again, with Nigella, California Poppies, Cornflowers and Sweet Peas. They seem impervious to the recent frost. They’re lush and green, planted by nature, watered by recent storms and back by popular demand. Now that’s a slogan to celebrate.

Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. Stephen Leacock

If you were running an ad campaign for your daily life, what would you say?

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Sombody’s Watching Me

Do you remember the hit single from the mid-eighties I always feel like, somebody’s watching me?

I snapped several photos on a recent hike, and the song’s lyrics came to mind.  I watched the video, and promptly developed an ‘earworm.’  Since the tune is rattling around in my head today, I thought I would share Rockwell’s lyrics with my photos from the trail.

spider hole

Who’s watching?
Tell me who’s watching.
Who’s watching me?

orange rock

I’m just an average man, with an average life.
I work from nine to five; hey hell, I pay the price.
All I want is to be left alone in my average home;
But why do I always feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, and

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy.
fairy house in the woods
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Tell me is it just a dream?

When I come home at night.
I bolt the door real tight.
People call me on the phone I’m trying to avoid.
Well, can the people on T.V. see me.
Or am I just paranoid?

missing tree roots

When I’m in the shower.
I’m afraid to wash my hair.
‘Cause I might open my eyes
And find someone standing there.
People say I’m crazy.
Just a little touched.
But maybe showers remind me of
“Psycho” too much.
That’s why. . .

missing tree roots closeup

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Who’s playing tricks on me?

spider web

Who’s watching me?
I don’t know anymore . . . are the neighbors watching
Who’s watching?
Well, it’s the mailman watching me: and I don’t feel safe anymore.
Tell me who’s watching.
Oh, what a mess. I wonder who’s watching me now,
(WHO?) the I.R.S.?

DSC_0057

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Who’s playing tricks on me?

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I always feel like somebody’s watching me.

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I can’t enjoy my tea.

spider web closeup

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
I want my privacy.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Stop playing tricks on me

Read more: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Three Dogs: Clever, Sweet and Knotty

This is Titus. He’s a Doberman Pinscher by breed, but clearly a retriever at heart.  I fell in love with him on the trail last week when he ran by carrying…a log!

titus with stick

Titus the Clever

He’s still a puppy, just a month away from his first birthday. According to his companion, Monique, Titus is quite fond of sticks.  He carried this one around like a twig amazing all passersby.

Isn’t he clever?

titus without stick

Titus drops his stick

I meet plenty of dogs along the trail, especially when I’m walking with my friend, Karen and her dog, Dylan.  Dylan is number one, but it doesn’t hurt to flirt now and again.  No worries, Dylan.  You’re still the apple of my eye.

Isn’t he sweet?

Dylan

Dylan the Sweet

Last week I encountered the most unusual dog of all.  You might even say he’s knotty.  We stood eying each other for quite some time. I even snapped a picture to be sure I wasn’t imaging things. Back home, pictures downloaded, there he was clear as day.

Isn’t he knotty?

dog tree

Knotty Dog?

Never a dull moment on the Almaden Quicksilver trail.  That place has gone to the dogs.

Halloween Countdown:

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Blog Love: A beautiful piece of embroidery from the talented Marlene Herself at In Search of it All.

Birdhouse Gourd: Open for Nesting

After all the worry and fuss about drilling holes in my precious gourds, the first of two is open for nesting.  My resident handyman drilled a bird-sized hole on the front of the gourd, two small ones at the top for hanging, and drainage holes below.

dried birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse gourd: open for nesting

birdhouse gourd opening

Closeup: The opening should be the size of the bird you want to attract. We want to attract all the cute birds. That made it easy.

holes drilled in bottom of gourd

Tiny holes in the bottom allow for air circulation and drainage. Nesting is a messy business.

It’s amazing  how soft it is inside, almost like downy wool. I wasn’t expecting that. The walls of the gourd are thick and sturdy. It’s no wonder a bird might call this home.

I threaded a piece of florist wire through the top and I’m having fun hanging it from various trees. We’re months away from nesting season, but I’m glad to have one ready to go.

Several of our trees are deciduous, so they won’t provide adequate protection for a nest, but I do have a couple of ideas.  Our orange tree is fairly dense and in fact, houses a large nest from a few years back. The Star Jasmin vine in our side yard is another possibility. It’s so dense you can’t see to the center.

Mama birds know best, so all I can do is provide the medium and hope she likes it. Maybe I’ll write her a little note that says ‘pick me! pick me!’ and leave it on a branch nearby.

dried birdhouse gourd

Mama Bird Wanted: Inquire Within

In the meantime, I’ll hang the beautiful gourd in plain view. As nesting season draws near, I’ll tuck it away in a  tall, densely foliaged tree with hope in my heart while listening for the song of baby birds.

Do you have nests in the trees nearby?  Do you offer nesting material for your feathered neighbors?  Photos also welcome in the comment section below.

cat and seeds

Hmmmm…they do look a bit like cat treats.

birdhouse gourd seeds and gourd wall

This shows the thickness of the dried gourd. Bonus: look at all those dried seeds from inside.

Disneyland: If it Walks Like a Duck, and Talks Like a Duck…

Well…turns out it’s really a duck.  Disneyland is known for its cast of characters: Mickey Mouse, his trusty companion, Pluto and larger than life Donald Duck. They’ve entertained children for over 50 years.  Can you guess my personal favorite?

That’s actually a trick question.  My favorite ‘character’ at the Magic Kingdom this week was, in fact, a duck.  Isn’t he cute?

Mallard

Male Mallard (or Drake)

Female mallard (hen)

Female Mallard (or Hen)

He put on a show for as well and *bonus* no line! He chased his female companions in a circle around the flowers, reminiscent of an old Laurel and Hardy movie. They quickly tired of his game and settled down with a weary eye. I wish I had video of the antics. We were in giggles.

According to my research, the Mallards are past mating season, so perhaps the chase was simply practice for next season.

We eventually glimpsed the official Disney characters along with a gaggle of five-year-old princesses. My 13-year-old male companions only had eyes for roller coasters, but even they slowed down for the Mallard show. Keeping it real at the Magic Kingdom is what makes this gardener smile.

Female Mallard (hen) in the flowers

Not much camouflage here

A pair of beauties

A pair of beauties

Quack-quack!

 

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The birds aren’t the only ones laying eggs this time of year. I happened upon a newly hatched ‘family’ of spiders today.  I put family in quotes, because honestly there were hundreds of them. They look big in the pictures, but they are as small as a pin head.

I was clearing dried leaves around the orange tree, tossing them into the compost bin. As I reached for a dried branch, I saw what looked like tiny flowers caught in a web. The ‘flowers’ however, were moving in different directions. Good thing I withdrew my gloved hand when I did. Our neighbors would have heard me scream like a B movie actress in a horror film.

ferns with spider web

Ferns under the orange tree

Ferns...at little closer

Ferns…at little closer

Ferns...closer still

Ferns…closer still

I grabbed the camera and took several shots.  Video would have been better, but I’m still not well versed with this camera.baby spiders on fern 4-18-2013 12-47-11 PM

spiders up close 4-18-2013 12-46-40 PM

Spiders up close: look, Ma, no hands!

Lindy came over to investigate.  It’s not every day she finds me sitting in the ferns.  Once I  turned the camera in her direction, she went all feline on me and gave me the cold shoulder.

Lindy near the ferns 4-18-2013 12-47-58 PM

Lindy Lu

I have an interesting relationship with spiders.  Indoors, they creep me out.  I humanely remove them with my spider-catcher, and set them loose in the garden.  Outside, unless they’re bigger than a quarter, I’m usually okay with them.  When startled, however, I freak out.  It’s the strangest thing.

How do you feel about spiders?  Are you indifferent?  Did you pass out at the first photo?  Or are you as fascinated with nature as I am?  Maybe all three.

Summer Camp for Sunflower Seeds

They’re not really at summer camp but it looks that way, doesn’t it?

Flower House

Sunflower Camping

Keeping the sunflower seeds in the ground long enough to grow is an ongoing effort.  They’re simply irresistible to squirrels.  It took three tries last year.  I finally came up with a contraption made from small, sliding window screens locked on the planter boxes on the deck.

This year I wanted to plant seeds in a new corner plot so I needed more coverage.  I ordered a pair of pop-up tents, also know as mini-greenhouses, from a company called FlowerHouse. They’re staked in place, with rocks for added weight. They seem to be working. So far.

Mighty Mouse and green house

Mighty Mouse stands guard

I bought assorted flower and vegetable seeds last month at the garden show. They came in the prettiest packets. The corner plot, tucked up against the sidewalk, includes sunflowers, violas and forget-me-nots. The purple and yellow are a nice complement.

Garden show Seeds

Franchi Sementi S.p.A

I’m already seeing poppies blooming all over the neighborhood, so wish I had planted mine sooner. I added some new color this year, so it will be exciting to see what comes up.

Renee's Garden Cosmos and Poppies

Renee’s Garden Cosmos and Poppies

Pruned Lavender

I hard-pruned the lavender, making way for sunflowers and cosmos.

This bed is a diamond in the rough. Once the lavender comes back, along with cosmos and poppies, it’ll be gorgeous.

Cosmo seeds 2012

I scattered these throughout the garden. They were beautiful last year and a favorite with the birds.

I hard-pruned the lavender to remove the dead wood below, then tucked in a few seeds in the newly open space.  I had high hopes the critters wouldn’t notice. Silly gardener.  Of course they noticed.  So, I’ve put my proverbial eggs back into one basket, the tiny plot that reminds Boomdee of a camp site for squirrels.  Nooooooooo!!!

I'm on it!

I’m on it!

Smashing Good Time?

I had a smashing weekend, which is to say I smashed several fingers in the fire door leading to the garage. Heavier than usual winds blew all day. The draught created by the wind pulled the door closed faster than usual, smashing three of my fingers in the process. I went down on my knees, the pain was so intense, but I’m on the mend now and extra vigilant around that door until the winds subside. My dear friend C. stopped by with a card of well wishes and two comfy pairs of gardening gloves. Isn’t that the sweetest? Between finger-smashing and the news out of Boston, this thoughtful gift was a bright spot in my day.

Thank you

A sweet gift from a dear friend

Sending love and healing energy back out into the world.  Thanks for joining me on the journey.