11 May 2021

Hungry Guys

Oh, how I love tulips! But tulips are not a good thing to try to raise in deer country.

A few red and yellow tulips came with the house. I added some pink tulip bulbs Lizard bought in lieu of a bouquet for my first birthday in the then-new (but used) house the following year, and I later bought a few fancy parrot bulbs to incorporate when we finally received permission from the homeowners association to remove the grass and replace it with a drought-tolerant flower garden. Within a couple of weeks after planting my very own tulip bulbs, a bear dug up and (apparently) ate them all! The whole bulbs! Then deer ate all the remaining tulip blooms the following spring before I really had a chance to photograph them.

I learned deer think of tulips the way we humans think of candy. Or brownies.

I love wildlife. I don't mind feeding (some) wildlife. But having critters devour my garden before I can photograph the fruits of my labor is not so much fun!

I have learned to be content with daffodils and irises, which area wildlife don't crave. Perhaps that's their okra... Ha ha ha! I have learned to plant deer- and bunny-resistant flowers and bulbs if I want to get more enjoyment out of my garden than critters can claim. (Although I've also learned deer and bunnies will eat plants they don't like when they are hungry.)

I haven't often been able to see tulips in our backyard in the past because the deer make fast work of the new flowers before I can get home from work. Now that I'm working from home, I got to see nearly the full spectrum of tulips in my backyard last week. One of my friends had told me years and years ago that all tulips will turn yellow with time. Another friend begged to differ. I don't know if all tulips turn yellow, but I had some pretty awesome combinations this year I don't remember seeing in years past. (Of course, it may be that the deer ate the various hues each year before I got to see them.)

I snipped three of the prettiest tulips so I could snap some photos against the bluebird sky. I planned to take the good camera out after work that afternoon to shoot a few more photos, particularly of a pink tulip with a dramatic black hexagon at the bottom and a red tulip with what could have been the outline for an intricate black and yellow snowflake on its bottom. I was tempted to cut more blossoms for a vase inside the house, but I thought taking more than three would be selfish.

These guys, however, had different ideas. They apparently scheduled a business luncheon when I couldn't be watching out the window, and they devoured every single open tulip! They even pulled up a bunch of bulbs, but apparently their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. The unearthed bulbs were left strewn about the yard.

The scattered bulbs have been recovered and buried in containers on the porch. I'm going to have tulips next year, and no one is going to eat them!!!

10 May 2021

Snowflake Monday

I get to see most of my grandkids in person next week for the first time in 15 months. Dinosaur Egg snowflake are in order. And a BUNCH of them. So I needed something quick and easy. And small because I have been collecting some special mini river rocks for them to add to their gardens.

I had planned to name today's snowflake after our biggie March snowstorm (a little late, right?!?), but a tiny snowflake doesn't seem to do justice to a big snowstorm. (We got about 34 inches at our place, and the storm is now Colorado's 4th deepest snowfall accumulation!)

So I looked up the previous storm warranting a name, and Winter Storm Viola left us 24 inches in February. That also is the name of one of my grandmothers, so I'm delighted to be able to use her nickname for today's snowflake!

We were watching one of the Star Trek reboots as I worked up the prototype snowflake. I made a mistake I didn't catch until I was pinning it to allow the glow-in-the-dark glue to dry. I guess that's what I get for being a traitor… allowing my true Trekkie nature to glow on May the Fourth Be With You Day!

As a result, I had to make another snowflake to photograph for this blog post. I made a few changes and kind of like them better than the original snowflake. So I am including both versions here.

I also added an iridescent bead to the second version. Now I'm going to have to look up glow-in-the-dark pearls because I think I might be doing this more often with my popcorn center snowflakes! I've always loved using beads in snowflake centers, but a glowing bead would really make this baby pop on the Christmas tree next winter!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 3.75-4.25 inches from point to point, depending upon which 3rd Round you use
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

SPECIAL STITCHES:

Popcorn Stitch (pc)

Work 5 dc in designated st, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc.

Winter Storm Vi Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: [Pc in ring, ch 3] 6 times, omitting last 2 ch of final repeat; 1 dc in top of starting pc to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 3), in next ch 3 sp work (1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc)] 5 times; ch 3, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 5 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Original Round 3: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), 1 dc over post of dc directly below, [sk next ch 3 sp, in next ch 3 point work (1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc, ch 10, *1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc), ch 3] 6 times, ending * on final repeat, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5; bind off. Weave in ends.

Altered Round 3: Ch 7 (counts as 1 dc and ch 5), 1 dc over post of dc directly below, [sk next ch 3 sp, in next ch 3 point work (1 dc, ch 5, 1 dc, ch 15, *1 dc, ch 5, 1 dc), ch 3] 6 times, ending * on final repeat, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

06 May 2021

Quarter Flimsy

ready, set, go

The first quarter of Lizard Toes is on Ringo, ready to be quilted. Why didn't I get it done???

I dug deeply into my green batik stash to create a 12-inch by 49-inch braid for the backing. This means I didn't finish a WIP in April. I haven't given up hope yet I might be able to finish two this month to make up for it, but, even without the finish, at least I'm making progress. Lots of things are vying for my attention, and Lizard Toes just doesn't scream at me loud enough, I guess!

One very exciting thing, in addition to using up scraps for inserts in the back quarter panels, is using up four baby quilt-sized and lap quilt-sized batting leftovers that have been hanging around for up to three years for the four quarters of Lizard Toes. I will have a couple of days of no computer access next week, and I'm thinking I might be able to do the hand-sewing then to finish up the quilt, if I can finish quilting the individual quarters in time. That's the goal. But I'd like to do green batik inserts for each back panel, so it really depends how fast I can finish them. And how good I am at breaking free from other commitments...

I recently picked up a couple of Chili Smiles charm packs because I thought they might make a fun project for Lizard to try to take up quilting again. (He LOVES them!) I'm going to have to start over from scratch in teaching him, but I don't mind. I actually look forward to it. He wants to try another rag quilt, so I cut 84 coordinating Kona solid charms and about 30ish batting squares. I used up a BUNCH of batting pieces for what I've done so far, but I will need to do more for Lizard to have enough to finish his quilt. But, perhaps that will take a while, and I can go back to my own quilting for a while. Fingers crossed...

The garden is calling, and thankfully, I didn't have to build the second tier raised beds that now grace our backyard. But I did have to measure the beds Lizard built before Parkinson's took away his math prowess, then do the math so I could buy the wood, then draw pictures for the Young Men who volunteered to build what I could see in my head but have no idea how to construct myself! I still have to put chicken wire in the bottoms without cutting myself, then fill the upper tiers with shredded cardboard I've been saving specifically for this project, branches and twigs the wind has piled up for me to use specifically in this project, all of last fall's leaves I saved specifically for this project, and dirt I haven't bought yet. Then the bunnies will still be able to nest and dine in the bottom tiers, but the top tiers are MINE! I don't think the bunnies will be able to jump that high. I hope!

And then there's that unfinished landscaping project. I think we've finally taken care of the leaky window well for once and for all with some tube extentions that direct roof runoff to the French drains and some silicon patching of a leaky gutter and downspout. And not a moment too soon! We've had rain (and snow/rain mixes) every couple of days for a week straight now. Much needed moisture. But I haven't had to bail the water out of the basement for two weeks now! Can you hear me squealing with joy? Can you feel the earth shake when I dance my little raindance jig?!?

Now I'm trying to edge the border between the landscaping and the rocks that surround our house with more hollow bricks that make perfect planters. When I first began hauling these bricks from our little truck to the backyard last summer, all uphill, I often had to have help because the weight of each brick hurt my back so much. But I must be getting stronger; I can make eight brick trips now all by myself before my back begins telling me to stop.

After placing bricks one at a time and making sure they are level, I dig up volunteer grape hyacinths, as well as any other flowers that will be homeless when I complete terracing the sloped section of the landscaping, and I plant the flowers inside the bricks.

My brick border may not look like a masterpiece right now, but next year, when hopefully everything is done and the flowers are comfortable and productive in their new homes, it's going to be fabulous. I will hide the black tube against the border with river rocks. Hopefully when I get done, it won't look like it was done by an amateur.

I have to redo the flagstone "stairs" I built last year because the red sand eroded over the winter and spring, and the stabilizers I used beneath the flagstone are not big enough to withstand the erosion. I also have to lay a bunch more red sand and build more terraces that won't wash away. But I should have four months of good weather, so it doesn't seem overwhelming yet.

It just makes my longarm, my sewing machine and my crochet hook very, very lonely!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

04 May 2021

Out with the Old

I always try to put my indoor plants outdoors too soon. Every year. Never fails.

I had so many tomatoes still on the mature vines in my container garden last October, I decided I'd bring the huge pots inside and let them winter in the basement. I kept grow lights on them. They produced plenty of blossoms, but the basement just wasn't warm enough for new little tomatoes. However, most of the blossoms didn't fall off. So I thought perhaps they would set once they got some glorious 70-plus-degree spring out on the retaining wall.

Things were going well in March as I moved seven big pots and six little pots in and out each day (because the nights were still too cold). A warm but vicious wind took out three of the big, mature tomato plants. I replanted those pots with new seeds. April brought a bunch of snow, so everything had to stay inside for a few weeks again. I began putting all the tomato pots, including the new seedlings, on the porch and on the retaining wall during the day as soon as moisture began falling in the form of rain instead of snow. (We even had our first lightning bolts of the year!)

The mature tomato plants apparently had had enough. They did not survive the second day, which featured a garden-boosting gentle drizzle nearly the entire day.

I was somewhat bummed at first, but they'd been damaged by the windstorm, too, so it would have taken them a while to begin producing if I didn't change them out. Plus, there were those pesky little white flies, which apparently didn't care for the cool basement but celebrated and reproduced heavily once they got some outdoor weather again. They don't seem to mind the wind at all. And somehow, they hang on!

Lizard suggested I dump the plants AND the soil when starting over so not to spread the white flies to the rest of the porch containers. So out went that dirt!!! Now I have four new varieties of tomatoes planted from seeds (beefsteak, giant Belgium, Roma sauce and black plum), and I should be able to leave the pots on the porch now for the rest of the year (or at least until the first overnight frost of autumn). Because it could take the seeds a couple of weeks to sprout, an overnight freeze at this point won't really hurt anything. (Although I will keep an eye on the weather just in case we do get a really chilly night.)

I've decided I'm not going to try to grow tomatoes in the basement again next winter. We did get a beautiful flower about once a week in the rail planters I'd also brought in, but overall, especially with all the physical therapy going on in our house, the basement experiment resulted in mostly greenery and just wasn't worth the time, effort and space.

I got more mushrooms than flowers all winter long! But heck, they can be photogenic, right?

The seedling tomatoe plants, of course, came in at night until it was warm enough for them to thrive outside 24/7. All were planted from seed on the porch last April. None matured enough last year to produce any blossoms. Each managed to survive my inattention while Lizard was in the hospital for 14 days during the hottest days of August. (My neighbors watered them for me.) All the seedlings are on the porch now, and all but one seem to be happy. It's even warm enough now to keep the amaryllis plants on the porch.

The smaller tomato pots spent the winter next to the living room window. They did not begin blossoming until a few weeks ago, but they appear to be healthy. The jury is still out on whether I will bring them in again this winter. Given that tomato plants are productive only a couple of years, it might be worth starting over each winter. So the pots may come in next September or October, but with fresh soil and new seeds.

I ended up having to start the pepper plants I brought in for winter over again, thanks to spider mites. One new plant began producing blossoms in about February, but I've had only two pepper so far. We have wintered potted pepper plants next to the living room window for going on 12 years now. This was the first year I can remember such a small winter harvest. I had to buy peppers at the grocery store twice during the winter!!! (I used up my frozen stash.)

Last week I decided to start the porch peppers over again, too. Just in case the white flies had taken up residency, I dumped almost every pot on the porch, flowers and veggies alike. It's been years since I've started outdoor pepper plants from seeds. This year's planting includes Golden Macaroni, Sweet Banana, Ancho/Poblano, Serrano (our favorite), and Joe E. Parker Anaheim peppers.

I don't know what was in most of the flower pots. Now they are planted with Balloon Flowers, Brachycome, English Daisy and Stokesia. The bare parts of the ground garden are planted with cheap dahlia bulbs, cheap gladiola bulbs and six varieties of cosmos (Daydream, Candy Stripe, Picotee, Pink Pop Socks, Sonata and Sweet Sixteen). For the last three years or so, I typically have nothing but sunflowers in August. Perhaps this year I will have a full spectrum of pinks along with the sunflowers that are already beginning to poke through everywhere, including between the French drain rocks and in the driveway seams and cracks!

Columbine, Delphiniums, Lupine and Spiderwort are my garden favorites. I have three of each that come up again every year, thank heavens! This year I have a few volunteers I've spotted here and there, and a couple have been transplanted because they got started in no-grow zones. I also sprinkled new Spiderwort and Lupine seeds strategically throughout the ground garden. I've still got one more package of delphinium seeds I intend to plant somewhere in my new landscaping.

The bunnies won't stay out of my raised-bed gardens, so the Young Men from my church will be building a second tier of raised-bed gardens to install above the existing beds tonight. They've planned this for several weeks now, and it has snowed every single night they planned! Today we're just supposed to get rain. We'll soon see if May can keep the snow up in the mountains...

I'm wondering if I can incorporate a few more raised-bed gardens into the tiered landscaping I'm trying to achieve. But a new deck will have to come first. It will be much smaller than the one we had to pull out shortly after we bought the house. The old deck had not been maintained and was beyond repair. I ended up going through one of the steps. So we removed the entire thing and have been exiting the backdoor via a homemade brick stairway that is far too dangerous now for Lizard.

One of the biggest replacements in our lives this spring has nothing to do with the garden.

Our trusty, loyal 4 Runner is gone. My son was beyond thrilled to adopt the 433,000-plus-mile, 22-year-old time travel device. I'm happy I didn't have to sell it, and my son promises to take photos for me of the odometer each time the zeros turn.

He sent me a message on night one, after just sitting in the car for a couple of hours, sharing all the memories my Yota lightspeeded into his soul.

You know, I looked it up, and there are not many fourth generation 4Runners on the road, still running, with that kind of mileage. Plenty in the 200,000 range. But only a handful above that. Mine, oops, I mean, HIS is one. Everything I saw said if you're going to run up the odometer that high, Toyota is the brand you'll need.

I don't know if the new (used) wheels will provide that kind of longevity, and boy, is it difficult to get used to no clutch! Nevertheless, I do think Sooby Doo is a good car, and I think it will serve us well.

Take a gander at the newest member of the Snowcatcher family!

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