Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tire Garden Today

Some of the dirt in the tires has sunk.  I knew it would because it had shredded leaves and wood shavings.  We've had almost as much rain so far as we all of last year.  We had 3.5 inches over the weekend.  Today I topped off some of the tires with more topsoil and replanted the strawberries in those tires so they wouldn't be buried under the new soil.  The strawberries I replanted have really good roots that weren't there when I planted them. 
I volunteered this morning and worked on my tire garden this afternoon.  I got my steps in:)

Iris - 3


Monday, April 29, 2013


#4 Yellow with golden brown. Back left: lavender; back right: peony

 #5 Fuchsia; background: knockout rose
#6 Light purple top, dark purple bottom

Hoses on the Porches

Today I decided that I need to turn the water on the front and back porches and connect the hoses so I can put the baskets and flower boxes out. Last year I was able to get a teenager to do it but he can't come over for another couple of weeks and I wanted it now.  So I crawled with a flashlight to get to one of them and had to scrape along on my stomach to get to the other.  I decided while I was doing it that I should call the plumber and have him put the turn off faucets where I can reach them without crawling because I might just keep getting older and older and my knees really, really hate crawling.
Then I spent forever trying to get the hoses untangled.  I got the coiled hoses from Lee Valley.  They are really nice except they will tangle up all by themselves.  It is possible some vandal is coming and the porch and messing them up, but I don't see why one would bother.  I think one of us must do it.  Anyway, I spent over an hour trying to get one of them untwisted.  I didn't succeed.  I came inside and ordered four 75-ft hoses that are supposed to not tangle, not kink, and are light.  They are like pocket hoses but called something else.  I have a 25 ft pocket hose in the green house and like it but I didn't see a 75 ft version of that one so this is something else.
I hope it solves the problem of providing cardio-vascular exercise when I use them.  I should know Wednesday.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Travel Vest in Use

We went away for a long weekend and I wore my travel vest.  I still used my travel purse because the vest is when I'm out and about.  The purse is for use in the car, hotel, wherever.  The vest worked perfectly.  I loved not having to drag a purse around and not trying to jam everything in my jeans' pockets. 
The vest is comfortable enough to not even notice it.  I weighed it and at that time it weighed 3.5 pounds without the camera.  My camera is small and doesn't weigh much but it stayed in my purse until I thought I might need it.  The kindle also stayed in my purse most of the time but would fit in one of the pockets if I had felt the need of having it with me.
I even wore the vest over my housecoat because the earbuds and my ipod were so conveniently placed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spirea, Japanese Maple, and Dogwood

In the foreground the spirea is beautiful.  It has just opened and the frost we had last night didn't hurt it.  Behind the spirea, the top of the Japanese Maple shows.  Behind that, the dogwood is still blooming.
It looks like spring, but it's still chilly.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Crepe Myrtle Cuttings

Some of the cuttings are tiny and some are larger, but they've been in the tray for four days and still look decent.  Maybe they'll survive. I trimmed a branch that was aimed wrong on one that I had rooted and planted alternately with my double pink knockout roses.  I'll trim more when they are taller.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Didn't Do the Candy

I didn't make the diet candy I'd planned to make.  I didn't do much of anything today.
I weeded some.  I took lavender cuttings.  I took some in the autumn but none of them rooted.  Since I was cutting the lavender back, I decided to try to root the pieces I trimmed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Scarf Color

I'm going to have to make ruffled scarves every now and then or I will forget how.
I really like this yarn, Sashay Golden:
The glint of the metallic gold doesn't seem to show up much in the picture.


I have started collecting columbines.  A lot of people like them and I am going to give them a try.

Food Idea

I have a bunch of sliced almonds, sugar-free chocolate chips and a microwave.  I wonder if that would make a decent snack (low-carb)?  I might try cream in a small batch and a little vanilla or almond extract.  I think I'll try that tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Irises Are Starting to Bloom

Last year I used a permanent marker to try to identify my irises when they weren't blooming so I could share particular colors with other iris lovers.  The permanent marker wasn't very durable.  So now I'm marking the greenery with the acrylic paint that is intended for birdhouses. I'm numbering them so I don't have to decide how to indicate colors.  I'll just match my numbers with pictures.

 3. This one is more a peach color than shows up here...or salmon.  It is lovely against a Japanese Maple.
1. This one is fairly short and is dark purple all over. It is the first to start blooming.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Bird

I know for sure the red bird in the middle is a cardinal.  The bird on the left that is a mangy red is something we've had before.  The two birds on the right are new though.  The bill is like a grosbeak. I looked in the bird book and couldn't decide what it is.  The color of the male is kind of like a gold finch, but it is huge compared to a gold finch and the beak is wrong.

The House With...

We live out of town so when I'm trying to tell people where we live, I name the road, which side of the road, and the color of our metal roof.  My husband does it that way, too.
I was at the hair salon and my hair dresser was telling somebody where I live.  She gave the name of the road and said, "It's the house with all the flowers."
The other lady said, "I know where that is!"
I absolutely loved that:)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Asparagus Today

We've been checking at our favorite nursery for asparagus.  They kept saying they had it ordered, but it hadn't come in.  So Larry found some at Lowe's and we bought three packages.
We've never planted it before, so I don't know anything at all about growing it.  But I'm pretty excited about getting some.  I like the idea of planting it and having it for years.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strawberry Mystery

I have been working very hard to get my strawberry tire garden prepared for spring.  This morning when I checked them, some of the tires had no strawberries at all.  One had one chewed to the crown.  I found some holes around the base of the tires, so I don't know if something burrowed up from the ground and pulled them down or if something ate them from the top. It is very discouraging for them to disappear and not have a clue what did it.  At this rate, I won't have any plants left much less fruit later in the season:(

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hummingbird in Japanese Maple

Larry took this picture with his camera.  It was cold today but we still had hummingbirds.

Spring Weather

We've had several days in the 80's and yesterday I put away my winter clothes and got out my shorts and t-shirts. Last night we got almost two inches of rain and today it is in the 40's. We are supposed to have frost tonight.
Two ladies at the hair salon today were talking about roof damage to their homes.  Lots of wind as well as rain.

Rain Washed

The pollen has been very heavy recently.  I spent a bit of time yesterday sweeping it off the porch.  But we had rain forecast for last night so both of us put our vehicles in the driveway instead of under the carport.  The pollen washed off them:)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Layers of Color

This picture isn't as wonderful as I'd hoped.  The Japanese Maple shows up well, but the clump of purple irises barely show up.  The Japanese Magnolia is quite faint in the picture, and the dogwood trees are so far in the background that they don't show up at all.  The forsythia blooms are not showing up but the leaves are.  Well, green is a color, too. The spirea isn't blooming yet, but it's covered with buds.

Tec Vest problem

I carefully arranged my earbuds through the little channels so they are convenient and out of the way.  This morning I wanted to use my ipod and realized I did NOT want to take my earbuds out of my vest and do NOT want to wear my travel vest every day.  I do want to use my ipod every day.
So I have spent an hour and a half looking for my new, still in the plastic earbuds.  The ipod comes out and back in the vest easily.  So I just needed two sets of earbuds.  Well.  I found the second set, finally.
Also, the vest is very attractive zipped up with nothing under it.  But those inside pockets mean I would have to undress to get to some pockets.  I guess I won't wear it without a tshirt. Good thing I noticed it at home:)
I have a money/document pouch that goes under my clothes.  I was traveling in England alone once.  I stopped at a B&B where they wanted to see my passport.  I had to go to the bathroom to get my passport.  Clever, huh?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tec Travel Vest

This vest is very comfortable.  It has 17 pockets.  The outside ones zip. The inside pockets either zip or velcro.  I am wearing my ipod (the earbuds have little channels to keep them handy), my kindle, phone, metal case with swipe cards, and some other stuff I like to have handy.  The weight is distributed across my shoulders so my hands are free without the annoyance of a backpack or purse. I still have pockets that are available.  My camera pocket is empty because the camera is being used:) 
There is a pocket for glasses with an attached cloth for cleaning the glasses.
There is a pocket for water that I haven't filled although if I were wandering about I would have food and water stashed. 
I could have gotten a larger size but I'm keeping this one.  I think maybe my next one will be larger (if I were layering for colder weather I might want more space)  and red.
The material is lightweight with mesh inside.  I am pleased with the construction.

How Long?

I went to pick up my thyroid medication which I have been taking for about fifteen years.  There was a red sticker on the thing I'm supposed to sign.  It said not to take anything with calcium, iron, antacids, for four hours after taking the thyroid medication.  I have been taking my calcium tablet about an hour after the thyroid pill.
When I got home I looked to see if that warning is on the pill bottle itself.  It isn't.  It was on the thing I signed and returned to them.
I don't know if it has been there all along and I haven't noticed, or if it started showing up when somebody else picked it up for me and signed for it.
That is annoying.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Columbine Bloom Spikes and a Hummingbird

This is the first year I've had columbine plants.  Well, I planted some somebody gave me last year but they were blooming so I didn't think they would come back this year and it takes two years for them to bloom.  So when I had the plants, I still thought I'd have to wait another year for blooms.  I guess last year counted because I am going to have blooms soon.  I wonder what colors I have.
We saw our first hummingbird today.  Larry immediately went inside and mixed up some food for the feeders.

Uncertain Tomorrow

I learned when I was ten that planning ahead works sometimes and doesn't sometimes.  A drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit the car in which my mother was a passenger. So a lot of things didn't register with me because I didn't think they applied in the real world.  Eating healthy, not smoking, exercising...none of those things help if a drunk runs a stop sign.  I was ten.  I didn't rationally decide that.  I just knew it.
Well, it also applies to getting brain cancer or many other kinds of illnesses.
Today I saw a woman who observed in my classroom several times for one of her classes...field observations? She observed and took notes several times.  She is nine years younger than I am.  She is dying.
Well, just in case I live forever, I would like to still be ambulatory. So I still got my five miles in today.
I still ate healthy.  All of my decisions aren't bad.  But I don't believe in being completely strict with myself because living a long time isn't worth giving up everything that I like.

Monday, April 15, 2013

More, More, More

Today I planted more plants, painted some of the tires red, weeded, watered my little strawberries with miracle gro and generally enjoyed the tee-shirt weather.  Today is the first day I've been able to do without a light jacket.
This amaryllis is blooming now.  The others have been in the basement and are bleached-looking.  They already have bloom spikes showing, though. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


A friend gave me a male and female hardy kiwi.  I looked it up to see whether it wanted full sun or partial shade.  When I looked it up, it turns out that it is invasive and termed "kudzu of the north."
But since it makes something edible, I'm having a problem deciding that it is a bad thing.  Yes, I saw the pictures where it ate a field and some trees.  I don't know how long it took, but I doubt it was ten minutes (which is about how long I think it takes kudzu or even wisteria or honeysuckle to spread.

Short Wildflowers

 These made patches that are visible in the yard and even the driveway.
 The little grape hyacinths are in the yard, too. 
 Violets are along the road.

 Two-toned violets
 purple violets
I plant a lot of flowers, but I enjoy a lot of the little wild ones, too.
Dandelions grow here, too.  I've spent a lot of time over the years digging up dandelions.  But since we've moved here, I've decided that Permaculture's take on plants with long tap-roots are my friend in this hard clay soil I'm trying so hard to amend.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Six Deer and a Rabbit

I finished the blue tires today.  I didn't know if I could manage to do it because Larry kept thinking I needed to see something so he would come by with the gator and show me something interesting.  Our neighbor's horse had foaled and we went to see the new baby.  My pear trees have blooms for the first time. 
I also saw six deer and a rabbit while trying to get my 10,000 steps in. I weeded about 45 minutes and walked around seeing what is blooming today that was only showing buds yesterday.
It was a beautiful day.

My Garden

 My garden has usually been flowers.  I haven't decided I don't like flowers anymore, but I'm trying to branch out into fruit that is on my low-carb diet.  I planted six brown sticks that claimed to be blackberries.  All six have leafed out and are apparently blackberries:) The t-post next to it is ambitious-looking, but the blackberries will need to be staked and wire will need to run from one t-post to another. Also visible is a garlic plant.  I planted about half a pound.  I've never planted garlic before and I don't know if we can eat that many. Larry claims not to like it and wanted me not to eat it.  I told him it is health, on my diet, and I actually like it so he'd better eat some, too. 
 I am painting the blue tires now.  I painted some yesterday and hopefully I will paint the rest of them today and tomorrow.
 The strawberries I planted in the tops of the tires are already putting on blooms.
 I'm weeding a little each day, too.  My hybrid tea roses look full and healthy.  The weeds in the flower bed look like a lot of trouble to weed, but the mulch helps keep them easy to pull out.  We've had so much rain lately that I haven't been able to do much at a time because I've also been working on the tires.
 Weeds, roses, stepping stones, drip irrigation
This is a patch that I've weeded.  The little things in the area will grow and look better, but right now I'm satisfied with how they look with no weeds.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Larry Walked, too

We went to the state park today and walked about three thousand steps. He walked on the porch 400 steps.  The pacing on the porch wasn't a lot but it's the first time he's paced and talked to me. Maybe he'll do it again.

Fun Steps

We went to a nearby state park today.  I'd been there before, but they've really done a lot of work on it since I was there a year or so ago.  For exercise there were paths that are easy to walk along, wide enough for two to walk side by side. 
There were information signs along the way.  I didn't get a lot of steps in but I got some flights of stairs on my fitbit:)
Next time I'll take my camera.  The soft greens of the trees, purple redbud trees, the river, and dogwood trees beginning to open made it an especially nice walk.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fitbit Message

I got a message on my computer saying my battery in my fitbit was low and I should put it on the charger.  When I put it on, it registered a full charge.
While I was on vacation recently I got 10,000 steps each day.  Since it didn't kill me or put me in the hospital, I decided to change my New Year's Resolution from 5,000 steps per day to 10,000 steps per day.  I haven't managed it every day, but I have 9,500 average for the last seven days.

Oreck Floor Cleaner

We moved into our house in 2010 around Christmas.  At the time I bought a floor scrubber put out by Oreck.  Well, today I finally used it.  I usually spot clean and it looks pretty good to me.  But today I decided the grimy, greasy lines next to the stove wasn't coming up with just wiping with a paper towel so I mixed some pine sol with water, sprayed it down and went over the kitchen with the brush part.  When I finished that, I put the pad (not shown...in the washing machine) and cleaned it again.  It got every bit of the grimy build up beside the stove. It was easy to use, too.  I won't wait so long next time.  Maybe next time I'll rinse it, too.  I have two of the pads and both sides can be used.  I love ceramic tile, but the slick kind is slippery so we got the kind with some texture.  I've cleaned that kind with a scrub brush before and decided I needed a floor scrubber.  I was very pleased with how easy it is to use and what a good job it did.

Smart Pot Problem

I put my tulips in smart pots and was very pleased until I noticed one had a hole in the side a little larger than a golf ball. I showed my husband and he said he thinks the lawn mower threw something through it.  He also thinks we can put something on the inside to prevent soil from coming out through the hole.

Low-Carb Dinner

Pastrami, cream cheese, and a Kosher dill spear with cole slaw was my dinner.  My husband had that, a pile of olives and a boiled egg with his.
The slaw was different from usual because I didn't have sugar-free pickle relish but I did have sugar-free chow-chow so I used that.  I think it was better than the pickle relish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Planted Grape Hyacinths Today

Hyacinths now border three sides of a bulb bed I started last year.  It doesn't look great but it doesn't look dead.  I think I can get enough hyacinths to finish the fourth side from where they've seeded themselves in the yard.
It is supposed to rain heavily so it should help the hyacinths I planted and the thirteen cypress trees Larry planted today.

FCE Visit

I've seen some really good stuff that members of FCE did.  FCE is Family Community Education. I went as a visitor to a meeting today and was not at all confident that I could participate.  I don't know where they do their cool stuff but it wasn't at the meeting.  Members have to go to meetings or make up missed meetings by going to other meetings.  I am not wild about meetings.  I like to do the stuff but I don't like meetings.  And they didn't do anything at the meeting. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gulf Shores

 After wearing my cashmere turtleneck and a jacket in Birmingham for the first four days of the trip, it was lovely to be on a sunny beach at Gulf Shores. People were swimming and sunning.  It would be impossible to get a picture of a person, beach, and water in some places.  Gulf Shores has one of the best public beaches I've visited.
Beautiful and calm, nothing like the Atlantic side.

Flair Tulips

I planted two smart pots with fifty tulips in each.  I planted twenty-five, put a layer of soil, and then twenty-five more, and topped it off with more soil.
I've done that before with hyacinths.  I used a prettier pot and put it beside the front door of the house where we were living at the time.  There was just a small covering so it got plenty of sunlight and the fragrance as we went in the front door was wonderful.  It also looked lovely.
I don't know if these will bloom again next spring.  The guy I ordered from said I would have to treat them as annuals to have tulip blooms in the spring.
I told him about the smart pot and my idea that the drainage would be wonderful, the chill factor from the wind would provide the coolness they need in order to bloom.  He still said it won't work.  I guess I'll find out.

You Didn't Lie!

Today I was in the lunch line at the hospital cafeteria.  I spilled a little water and asked for a towel to get it up.  The lady behind me said not to worry about it, she makes messes all the time...really big messes.
I got to the cash register and heard a commotion.  I looked back and she had about five towels cleaning up a mess.  I asked her if she'd done that.  She said she had knocked her whole glass over, ice, sticky stuff.
I said, "You didn't lie!"

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wild Grape Hyacinths

We went to Pebble Isle Marina today.  Between Camden and New Johnsonville, grape hyacinths were growing wild along both sides of the road....lots and lots of them.
The Blue Heron Grill was closed which was disappointing.
This afternoon we drove to a field that isn't planted right now.  We have wild hyacinths growing there. Usually we forget to go until they aren't blooming, but today we managed to get there in spite of the standing water in the fields.
 It doesn't look like a lot but wet dirt is really heavy.


 When I was in the third grade I lived in Fairhope and I loved it.
We visited Fairhope specifically to go to the Gumbo Shack.  It has been written up in a couple of places and was on a tv show.  The gumbo was the featured item.  But I adored the raw oysters. 

There was shade overlooking the bay.  It was a lovely day.  There is a rose garden that will be wonderful when the roses are blooming, but they are healthy and full of the burgundy new growth.
The shady sidewalks and peaceful streets made it a pleasant place to visit.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Finished the Yellow Tires Today

The strawberries I've planted in the tires are doing nicely.  I've ordered another bundle because I want three in each tire.
Tomorrow I'm going to paint the blue tires.
I want to get all the tires planted before I plant the daylilies around the outside.
This afternoon we went to the field where we have wild grape hyacinths. We'll dig some up and move them closer to the house tomorrow.
They don't show up well from far away, but I really like them.  They grow well in the fields, the yard, and flower beds.  I planted them around the hyacinths in some places. They don't bloom at the same time though.

Birmingham's Botanical Garden

The botanical garden in Birmingham wasn't what I expected, but I got a lot of steps in that day and we were outside.
The cafe was really nice though.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Overestimated My Enthusiasm

When I decided to paint my stacks of tires, I bought one disposable paintbrush per quart of paint.
The first day I had that wasn't wet (it rained 19 days last month), I painted one tire in each stack green.  I threw away the green brush and the can.
Today I painted half the tires yellow and decided that was plenty.  I put the paintbrush in a ziplock bag and will hope for the best tomorrow.
The green tires look better than the yellow ones so far.
On the bright side, I walked over 9,000 steps because it was better than painting tires:)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Flowering Trees

 This is a nectarine blooming.  The peach trees aren't blooming yet.
This is a Japanese Magnolia.  It isn't fully open yet, but the promise is lovely, too.

Three Springs

Here in Tennessee spring is happening...early spring.
We drove south to Birmingham and spring is a couple of weeks farther along than it is here. The zoo, botanical gardens, people's yards, and entrances to malls and nice subdivisions are beautiful to me.
Mobile, even farther south than Birmingham, is farther along in spring.The azaleas, swamp azaleas, dogwoods, friscatta, English dogwood, Bellingrath gardens.
Then coming back up to Tennessee we saw it all in reverse.
I love spring.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Zoo Visit

It was a really great day to go to the zoo.  The weather was fantastic and there's nothing like going with a happy kid who is pleased with everything.
It has been gray, cold, windy, and rainy in Tennessee, but Birmingham was sunny and still cool.
It was easy to get 10,000 fitbit steps that day.
Today I'm back in Tennessee.  Rainy, windy, cold.  I haven't come close to 10,000.  I'm close to 6,000.  Maybe I'll make it before I sack out.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10,000 average!

Richard has been with us for a week.  He has a fitbit, too.  I've averaged a tiny bit over 10,000 steps over the last seven days!  They've been fun steps, too! Some were at the Birmingham Zoo, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Bellingrath Garden, Fairhope, Gulf Shores, and sometimes just walking around the hotel...and around and around.