Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kermit's Toupé

I've got a new favorite plant.

It kind of looks like a bad toupé for Kermit the frog, doesn't it?

It's Irish moss. I never thought I could grow it in Alberta; but the lady at the nursery tells me otherwise.

It isn't - and never will be - visible to anybody from the street or yard. There's too much sun in that area, except for directly behind the cedar tree. The only place that you can see it is if you hang over the side of the front porch, or else walk through the middle of the garden (in which case your legs will be chopped off at the knees.) This moss is only for me to enjoy. It's just a little spongy blob of vibrant green with a few white flowers that are so small you can barely see them. And yet, I keep going back to it. I have great hope for this plant.

The plan is for it to spread out and fill in the corner behind the cedar in the front garden. In doing so, it'll block out the weeds and hopefully convince the neighbourhood cats to use the facilities next door. I'm still a bit doubtful that it'll live, but I figure that it's worth an experiment.

In the meantime, Mother nature seems to be on board. Ever since I planted this moss, we've gotten nothing but rain.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Himself is feeling cranky today.

If he had five toes instead of four, the middle one would be sticking out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An upgrade to the Toad Abode

Last year, I found a toad in my front garden. This is good, because toads are great indicators for the environment. They're very sensitive to chemicals and pollution; so I figure that if I've got one living in my yard, I must be doing something right.

This toad was hanging out in the garden that used to be directly under where my front porch now stands. I transplanted all the plants to the garden at the front of the yard, but the construction seems to have scared him away.

In an effort to attract Mr Toad or a friend (They're all Misters to me - what kind of female wants to look like that?!?) to come back to the gardens, I installed a Toad Abode in my back garden. I read that toads like to hang out under clay pots, so I "planted" one for him. If he ever used it, I didn't see. So, I read up on attracting toads and came to the conclusion that the Toad Abode was getting too much sun.

So, last night I planted him some shade.

That's Lamb's Ears. It should grow over the top of the pot, and down the sides; and you'll never find a softer plant. I hope Mr Toad likes the upgrade. I'm thinking that if I was as small as he is, and I had access to leaves like that, I'd wrap myself up in one and sleep the summer away.

Warning - Tangent!

Did you know that lamb's ears used to be planted along the paths to the outhouses, back in the day? There's a reason for that, my friend. Those cute little white kittens have never produced anything even half as soft.

Speaking of toilet paper... Last year, as they do most years, my parents went south last winter. I got the job of watching their house while they were gone, and decided to make the best of it by using their exercise equipment while I was there. Except, after I'd been there enough that I'd used the facilities a few times, I started to run out of TP.

I knew there had to be more in the house, because my mom is an incorrigible stockpiler. She and my dad live alone now; but you'd think she was stocking up for a family of 13 before the Great Depression, the way she stock piles things. So, I knew there had to be some. I checked all three washrooms, the linen closet, the pantry, the basement and even the garage. I could not find the TP.

I asked people where they store their extra TP and I got all sorts of suggestions. I looked all over the house again and again, but I never did find it. I could very easily have brought a roll out from my own house, but I'd gotten my back up by then. It had to be there! So, I emailed my dad and asked him. His response?

There should be some leaves outside.

Maybe I should plant some lamb's ears at their house too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear Mr Robin

Welcome to my yard!

I'm thrilled that you've come to visit. I'm so happy to see you, I don't even mind that you've been crapping all over my fence and deck. I have one request, though:

Please don't eat all my strawberries again this year.

The chair are here. The Chairs are here!


The chairs finally arrived today. I don't have to eat while sitting on the sofa anymore! (Not that I won't...)

The light fixture over the table is new too. Pretty cool, eh? Even though it's quite different from the other fixtures in the room, I think it goes quite well there.

And, it kind of matches the globe on the mantle in the living room too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The secret stash

In addition to the contents of Tallulah's toy box, which is admittedly kind of obscene, she's got four balls that are reserved for a special game she plays.

These balls are stored in the cleaning closet.

Dogs aren't allowed to take things from the cleaning closet.

She roots through, selects her favorite, and discards the others. Don't worry about the discards, though. They'll get their turn.

Balls all get carried to the chair first.

That seems to be priority - get as many balls to the chair as you can before the Mama notices.

She's got to hurry, or she'll get caught!

Notice the Little Dude trying to get in on the game.

He'd like to play too, but he's too short to reach the shelf, and his mouth is too small to hold the balls.

Plus, he's kind of slow. By the time he's half way down the hall, Tallulah's already deposited all the balls on the chair, and has picked one of them to settle in with.

This is where the Mama usually catches on to the game. She tells Tula what a terrible, rotten dog she is, and puts the balls back in the closet.

Her fingers are kind of slippery, though, and the balls have been known to fly across the house as a result. Sometimes the balls will slip 2, 3, 10 or even 20 times.

It's a good thing Tula's around to bring them back for her.

It Occurs to Me

You know how, on forums and blogs, how people's names tend to get shortened to the initials of their "handle"? Rural Rambler - RR. I used to be Winter's mom (until a coworkers became snoopy). That was shortened to WM all the time.

Where the Fur Flies? WTFF

It's like I'm so mad I have to drop the F bomb twice.

Shame I didn't think of that earlier...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden Pictures

This is for you, RR. I show these begrudgingly because I'm not happy with the gardens this year. I feel like I've put more work into them than ever, but they're still more than a month behind. This is one of the gardens in the front yard. I'm refusing to take pictures of the other one until it fills in some more.

Part of my disappointment is my own fault. When I plant new gardens, I tend to buy small perennials. It saves money, but leaves me feeling impatient for them to fill in.

More changes planned for tonight. One of those $5 astilbes that I just planted has died, and the plant between the cedar and the delphinium has outgrown its allotted space. The astilbe is going to be replaced with lambs ears, and the mystery plant is going to a neighbour. (This reinforces my rule - don't buy plants unless you know what they are and what they'll do. )

Funny story about the neighbour. She's a great person, she really is. But she has killed every plant that I've ever given her... and I've given her a lot.

I have a personal hangup that I can't throw away or deliberately kill plants. To me, even though I know better, it feels like I'm killing a living being with thoughts and feelings. My way to get around that is to move them to the neighbour's garden. With her record it's almost a certain death sentence, but it helps alleviate my guilt. She is thankful, her gardens are fuller (for a while) and she does try to keep the plants alive. So, I give them to her and let nature take it's course. In doing so, I no longer feel like the plants death is my fault.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good Day

Ever have one of those days when, for no particular reason, you're in a really good mood? That's one of those days for me. And then, it seems like because of my good mood; everything's going right.

  • Got through a day full of conference calls without
  1. Falling Asleep
  2. saying something to embarrass myself.
  • Played a really funny practical joke on a coworker.
  • Managed to get out of another task, which - while not technically my job - I always get stuck with and hate. AND, I managed to do so in a friendly manner that didn't tick anybody off or make me get mad.
  • Laughed a lot

After work, I went to the nursery nearest my house and had a ball. I've decided that I want to be a professional plant shopper when I grow up. Maybe even a professional landscape designer, as long as somebody else does the dirty work. It's a shame that I live in a climate that doesn't support year round gardening.

It was spitting when I went to the nursery, so the place was like a ghost town. There were two ladies that work there who didn't mind the rain, and who walked around to help me pick what I need. Not only were they really happy, cheerful people, they were full of good advice.

Two new trees (one pretty darn small, but cheap) and a a trunk load of perennials, I was done. The rain's coming down a lot harder now, but I'm still tempted to put them in the ground. I can't wait until a few years from now when they've grown in. My low-maintenance "I'm only putting plants in so that the cats don't crap there" garden promises to be beautiful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Coffee Ground Cake

This is perhaps a story that you might have had to have experienced to truly enjoy, but to me it is a story that will be told for all times. My friend Kat told me her part of this story as we drove down the highway at 120km/hr. I really should have pulled over because I laughed so hard that I cried; and I could barely keep my eyes on the road. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.

A bit of a background...

Not to be overly modest, but I have the recipe for the best chocolate cake ever. It's to die for, and everybody who has sampled it agrees. The trick with this cake is not in the making of it; but in finding a spring form pan that fits inside your slow cooker, where it's cooked. It's flour-less, and is almost like a very rich, very thick and creamy mousse. It's made with good quality dark chocolate, and Kahlua and coffee. Decadent barely begins to describe it.

About a year ago, Kat - who I wish lived a lot closer to me than she does - had come for a visit. We went shopping, and when we came upon a spring form pan that was 6" in diameter, I handed it to her and told her she had to buy it. I think it's a reflection of our friendship that she did so with no questions asked.

Later that night, after we'd gone to a late show, we'd just been served our (very) late dinner of nachos at the Toad & Turtle. Kat asked me what the pan was for, and I told her about the cake. We decided then and there to abandon our nachos, and we headed off to get the ingredients at the only grocery store that was still open. We stayed up half the night, making this cake; but we held strong and went to bed without sampling when it was finally done.

The next morning I sent the entire cake and the recipe home with Kat. This was a blatant attempt at bribing her husband, so that he wouldn't object our having another weekend together again soon. She served it to the family, and reported back that the cake is, in fact, just That good.

Not long after that, Kat's parents were to arrive at their place for a visit. Kat wanted to impress them, so cooked an elaborate dinner that was followed by the Best Chocolate Cake.

I can just picture her now, proudly slicing up and dishing out the cake, then sitting down to watch as everybody took their first bite.

She was expecting a look of shock upon first bite - the cake's really that good - but I don't think she expected the sort of shock that she saw. Nor did she expect people to chew quite so much. They chewed, and they chewed, and they chewed.

Something was definitely wrong. Kat took a bite, herself, and discovered that the smooth mousse cake was actually really gritty. That's when she realized her mistake.

It seems that she'd been a little too literal when the recipe told her to use a cup of strong coffee. Rather than brewing very strong coffee and using that, Kat had mixed a cup of coffee grinds into the batter.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Having bought my home in a new subdivision, I love that I got to start landscaping my yard from scratch. I've had a few false starts, and I've had to make a few changes, but it's been a labour of love. (There's still a long ways go go.)

My biggest disappointment in living in a new subdivision has been the lack of wildlife. I'm sure that's because there are so few trees or bushes. What few trees are around are very small. Most of my neighbours have what I call Bowling Alley lawns... flat, green rectangles of pristine weed-free lawns. If there are any gardens, they are small rectangles of annuals, directly in front of the house, beside the front door.

My front yard is very different from the ones around it. It's got curves, gardens and (small) trees; but it never did get any sod. I chose to spend my money on rose bushes instead of sod that first year. That was probably a mistake, since what grass I do have is pretty sparse; and now it's too late to lay down sod without ripping it all up. I've been seeding the lawn regularly, but it's still got a ways to go. I also refuse to use chemicals. I keep it all mowed to help prevent spread of any weeds, but my lawn is more like a mowed meadow than the lushly sodded lawns around it.

Yesterday, I was mucking about in my gardens and was out there for a couple of hours. It was just about a perfect evening. The weather was gorgeous. The dogs, who had been confined to the front porch were staying (relatively) quiet, and a few neighbours had stopped to say a quick hello as they walked past.

One of my jobs yesterday was to dig out the clover.

For the record, I like clover. It's pretty, it smells nice, and it's a great source of nectar for bees. The only reason why I was digging it out is because I know that my bowling alley-loving neighbours frown on my weeds.

I'd managed to dig up about half the clover when movement caught my eye. It was a wild rabbit behind me. It was on the opposite side of the garden as me, and was happily nibbling on my lawn. The dogs had a clear view of it, but oddly didn't bark.

I sat perfectly still for a while, not wanting to scare it away, but eventually wanted to get back to work. So, I shifted over a little bit, turned around and abandoned the clover to pull weeds from the garden, while still watching the rabbit. My movement didn't seem to bother it. In fact, it moved a little bit closer.

This went on for a while. I kept working, and the rabbit hopped closer and closer, munching on the lawn. Eventually, the ultimate goal became clear; and that was the clover. The rabbit eventually worked up the nerve, and came within a few feet of me to have a taste. It was so close that I could almost reach out and touch it. It stayed there for a while and munched on the clover as I weeded. I was amazed that my moving around didn't scare it away, but it stuck around until I'd almost finished with the weeds in that garden, and then it hopped away.

I decided then not to dig up the rest of the clover after all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Bug Killer

'Tis the season for there to be bugs in the house. It doesn't surprise me, with all the plants that I bring in, and hanging my laundry outside. I'm not a big fan of bugs, though. My general rule is that nothing with less than 2 or more than 4 legs is allowed in the house. This rule should be easy to enforce, with my own personal in-house predator.

Isn't he fierce looking?

You'd think he'd be all I'd need to keep the creepy crawlies away, but you'd be wrong. I found a spider near the back door last night after work. I happened to be holding the cat at the time, so I put him down beside it with the expectation that he'd deal with it in an expedient manner. I was wrong. He looked at the spider, then he looked at me. If he could talk he would have said "You're right, there is a spider there. You should do something about that" and then he walked away.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Games we play

For some reason, neither of my dogs will eat out of a bowl. They both grab some kibbles and walk away to eat them. In Cotton's case, he takes one kibble at a time, and goes over to the rug and eats it before returning for another. Tallulah grabs huge mouthfuls of kibble, and chews with her mouth open as she walks wherever she happens to be going. The result is a trail of kibble and crumbs where ever she goes.

Tallulah's OK with that. She doesn't mind the mess. Cotton's OK with that, because he'll find some food nearby when he gets hungry. Me? I feel like it's a constant chore, cleaning up the kibble.

And if I clean the floor, that's the best way to guarantee that Tallulah will eat some more. I've tested it a bunch of times. I have never managed to finish vacuuming the floor of the whole house with Tallulah loose, and not have her leave a trail of kibble on my freshly cleaned floors. I've even tested it enough times that I know that on average, Tallulah will drop 10 kibbles on the floor - not including crumbs - before I put the vacuum away. The only way to get around it is to lock her up while I do the cleaning, but that would spoil the fun.

I'm pretty sure that Tallulah's screwing with my head when she does this. She's smart, and she's got a sense of humour; and this sort of thing is right up her alley.

That's OK, though. I know how to get even.

Tallulah Belle Poodle is a pretty bomb proof dog. There isn't much that she doesn't like, and there's even less that she won't tolerate. But, as much as she doesn't mind having kibble all over the floors of the house, she can't stand to have kibble below her raised bowls. It drives her nuts!

She circles the bowls, she digs at them, she barks at it, and she doesn't stop until the kibble is gone. She has, more than once, knocked over a bowl full of food and the accompanying bowl of water, just to gain access to a stray kibble or two underneath.

So, when she comes in while I'm vacuuming and spreads kibble on the freshly cleaned floor, I don't say anything. I wait until I'm done, I put the vacuum away, and then I gather up all the loose kibbles and put them under her bowl.

Kinda like this:

These are the games we play around here. We're easily amused.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My favorite room

I'm not a person that likes clutter. I like things neat and simple, but I'm also a person that likes to buy stuff. That presents me with a conundrum.

This was especially problematic when, after living with minimalism for years, I bought a house with built in shelving everywhere. At first, the shelves stayed empty because I didn't have the sorts of things that one would display. I didn't have things that I wanted to display. Or look at all the time. Or Dust.

Over the few years that I've been here, though, I've gotten over myself. I've found that it's fun to change up display shelves, and show off a little bit of myself. In the public areas of the house, I'm still pretty careful. Things need to be tasteful, and represent the Me that I want people to see.

Not so in my den. Somewhere along the way, I've given myself permission to be real in my den. I try not to be messy, but I don't worry about what people see when they look in here. In doing that, I've made this my favorite room.

First, it's cluttered. There's not a spare square foot in here. There's two dog beds, a white fluffy-sized crate and then there's all my crap. The pets' stuff is probably worth more than all of mine. Nothing in here cost much. Most, I've picked up over the years, and adapted to my needs.

First, there's my books. These are the books I love, not the books I feel that I should read. While I have read and enjoyed many classics, you won't find them here. This is where you'll find my collection of favorite bubble gum books. If you look closely, you'll see two sets of Harry Potter.... They're just that good. (Actually, I bought the second set for my nephew, and am giving him one each time that I see him.)

Himself is up there on top of the book shelf. That's his favorite hangout; I suspect because of the window above him. We live on a corner, and that's a great spot for him to watch the world go by. (I planted a lilac tree underneath that window a few years ago. It's only about 5' high now; but I'm looking forward to when it gets bigger, and am hoping that it will attract birds for the both of us.)

See that airplane? My dad gave that to me for Christmas, the year after I lost my pilot's licence. I'm pretty sure it's meant to be hanging on a little boy's wall, but it will always have a special place in my home.

Below is my Mickey Mouse phone. I got it when I was in Junior high. It has a 4' cord between the handset and the base. It doesn't mute, redial, remember anybody's phone number or have call display. But dangit, nor does it have batteries that go dead on me every time I turn around. If we ever have a natural disaster, I'll be the only one on the block who will have a working phone.

Every direction that I look, there's something special.

There are poodle portraits on the right. That's Tallulah on top, and my first poodle Ellie on the bottom. They seem really dark in that picture, but they're not.

Well, the one of Tallulah isn't. The picture of Ellie isn't exactly a masterpiece, since I took it when I was a kid. I took the picture of Tula 4 years ago. Those were the only two years that that bush they're in front of actually bloomed; so I call it the poodle bush. Most people, including my mom, can't tell the dogs apart in those portraits unless I tell them.

That plant was 6" high when I bought it. It's the first plant that I bought for my first apartment. It blooms all year round. I don't have a clue what kind of plant it is.

Why yes, my dogs have a toy box. Don't they all?
(That was my great, great grandfather's toolbox back in the day, before they got fancy and started adding lids. It's probably blasphemy to paint it like that; but I had a need, and my dad showed up with it one day like that. I hope great, great grandpappy approves.)

Behind me is Tallulah's bed. No, she hasn't been bad. She likes to point towards the corner when she's playing with her toys. I guess she doesn't want them to escape.

Above is Winter's portrait. Sometimes, when you see a picture, you just know it needs to be blown up and framed. That's one of those.

I'm running out of room on the bookshelf, so I think I'm going to build some floating shelves in that nook. ... leaving room for the poodle and her bed, of course.

I'm still on the lookout for a portrait of Cotton. I've got a space reserved for when I find it. It'll go on the other side of the bookshelf, next to the closet door.

Oh, and the reason that you don't see Cotton in any of these pictures? That's because he's with me, on my lap.

Go Bert!

I talk a lot of smack when I'm driving. I've been known to drop an F bomb or two while behind the wheel. I ask people what they think they're doing, or where they're going. I tell them to get out of my way. One thing I say, though, doesn't make sense to a lot of people.

Its explanation is one of those things that sticks with you for life, and (while meaning very little to most) means so much to those who understand.

"Go, Bert!" actually has a funny, if somewhat alarming and bittersweet explanation.

Growing up, I had the fortune to live on an acreage about 15 minutes out of the city. Our place was across the highway, and down the road a ways. A rancher had sold off a parcel to be subdivided, and it was this new subdivision where we lived. My parents were actually the first to buy and build there, and for a long time there was only about 10 other houses.

Being a country kid, I had to make friends where ever I could. There were a few kids my age nearby, but we weren't above popping into adults' homes for quick visits either. Bert and Mary Hall were an elderly couple that lived nearby, who we visited often. (The lollipops that they always had on hand may have encouraged those visits... probably.)

Anyway, Bert and Mary were already as old as dirt when we moved out there. Bert was blind and Mary was deaf. They were still independent, though. They lived in and maintained their little Cardinal-built house, where they'd lived most of their married lives and had raised their children. And they drove a classic black Thunderbird, which was still in mint condition.

They probably shouldn't have been driving. And I say They, because driving was a team effort for them. Being a traditional couple, it was always Bert behind the wheel. Bert was blind. Not totally, 100% blind; but blind enough that he couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of him. Mary was the navigator.

Driving into town, back then, wasn't a big deal. It was a 2 lane gravel road that didn't get much traffic. However, to get into and out of town, you had to cross a 4 lane, divided highway.

Bert and Mary would tootle down the road in their shiny black Thunderbird, and they'd come to a stop at the highway. There, they'd sit and wait until Mary gave Bert the go-ahead. And, if you happened to be stopped behind them (or sometimes on the other side of the highway) you'd hear the cue for Bert to cross.

When the way was clear, stone deaf Mary would beller at the top of her lungs: "GO, BERT!"

And Bert would put the pedal to the metal, and they'd tear across the first two lanes of the highway. Then they'd come to a screeching halt at the median, and wait for the way to be clear to cross the next two lanes. Mary would yell "GO, BERT!" again, and they'd rip across to the other side, into the city... and somehow manage never to be in an accident.

So, if you happen to be a passenger in my car (Or maybe if I'm a passenger in your car.) don't be surprised if you hear it. Anytime the way is clear and the driver ahead of me isn't moving ahead, that's what I say. I picture the Thunderbird at the side of the highway, and I can hear Mary calling out.


Monday, June 15, 2009

My smile for the day.

I love a good deal. It totally makes my day when I get one, which I did today.

I finally decided which light fixture to buy for over the new dining room table. I saw it in one store, but had been speaking with a lady at another store. They don't have it, but can bring it in. She said she'd give me a deal if I bought it from them. So, I called her today and asked her how low she could go. She knocked $100 off the price of a $300 fixture!

Holy Crap! So, I put in the order today and the new light fixture should arrive in 3 weeks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mousie Getter-Outer

The new table arrived this morning. WOOHOO!

It's a solid oak celebration of circles. Ain't she a beauty?

I love it. I really do. I have a confession to make though. When the delivery men arrived and set it up, they handed me a form where I had to sign that I'd inspected the table and found no damage. As I walked around and around the table, looking for damage, a thought popped into my head.

"I'm going to need the mousie getter-outer"

When Winter was a kitten, he found great joy in shoving things into small spaces. He particularly enjoyed shoving things in the 1" space between the floor and the bottom of my sofa. Anything that he could get his paws on, from anywhere in the apartment (and then house).

Cat toys, kitchen utensils, hair clips, pens... Whatever he could find - and believe me there was a lot, because the bugger figured out how to open the drawers in our first two homes - he'd carry it over to the couch, drop it onto the floor, and then shove it into the crevice between couch and floor.

The only problem was, he always felt immediate remorse after shoving his toys under the couch. After all, he couldn't play with them when they were under the couch. So, he'd then begin to start swiping under the couch (and shoving things deeper), looking under the couch and crying pitifully for me to come rescue his toys. And the crying would go on, and on, and on.

The couch being so close to the ground, I couldn't reach under and retrieve anything, so I at first I moved the couch around a lot to perform the rescues. Eventually, I got smart, and started to use an old tension rod that used to hang curtains in one of my many former homes. It was about the width of the couch, and just barely fit underneath. I'd shove it underneath the couch, sweep it from side to side and in doing so, rescued the toys (and everything else). That tension rod was put to use multiple times, every single day; and it wasn't long before it was christened the Mousie Getter Outer.

I think Winter was about 5 years old before he got over this hangup of shoving things under the couch. Without really noticing, I used the Mousie Getter Outer less and less, and then I eventually put it away; and then I forgot about it.

Until today. The base of that table sits on three little ball feet. It's a couple of inches off the floor, and it occurs to me that the space underneath of it could very well make a popular hangout for cat toys.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

When I was going to going to college, I bought a table off a friend. She got it at second hand store, so I was at least the third owner. For $75, I got the table and 5 chairs. I've had that table now for about 15 years.

It's moved with me many, many times, and it's been painted at least three different times. Sometime around year number 5, a spill in my storage room destroyed the leaf insert, so it has only sat 4 since then.... which is OK, because sometime around the same time, the fifth chair broke.

Tomorrow, the replacement arrives. (You can't see this, but I'm doing the happy dance.)

The thing is, I'm kind of sad too. I should be (and am) embarrassed to show you a picture of the mess on that table; but that's what that table does best. That table is the only piece of furniture or surface in my house for which I don't have to be careful. Sharp objects, paint brushes, dirty gardening tools... it all just gets chucked on the table. Because I don't care if it gets damaged.

When the new table arrives tomorrow, a lot is going to change. As much as I'm going to love my new table, I think I'm really going to miss the old one too.

ps - yes, those lilacs are dead. That's another thing that table is good for: storing crap until I get around to taking outside to the garbage or compost heap.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Repeat after me

It is a waste of money to stock up on perennials before the end of season sales start.

Please remind me of this next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

Every year, I get all excited and want to go out and buy boatloads of plants. Most years I do. Every year, only a month after gardening season starts, I stock up AGAIN on even better plants and rock bottom prices.

Case in point:
Last year, I bought three astilbes that were about 4" high. They cost $12 each. They didn't survive the winter.

This year, I bought three astilbes that are about 2' high and full. They cost $5 each, and at that price I don't care if they survive the winter.

I guess it's like any discount shopping: you've got to be willing to pick through the junk to find the good stuff. Plants and colours are limited; but I've never been a person who believes that gardens should be colour coordinated anyway.

I also bought four (Count them 1-2-3-4) peony plants. I love peonies. I think they're the perfect plant for the back yard, because they're full, they've got beautiful blooms and they're green all season. Even better, at the end of the season I can hack them down to the ground. (Plants in the back yard must be able to disappear over the winter so that Tula and I can romp in the snow until our hearts are content, and not worry about what we're trompling.)

I held back, and wouldn't let myself by annuals yet, but they're dirt cheap too. I just need to plant what I've got now, and then I can fill up again. :)

Off to go plant stuff....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Himself hasn't been himself lately. He's gone from the funloving, crazy cat he normally is to having periods of extreme crankiness. The crankiness is usually directed at Cotton, and there have been times that I've been worried for Cotton's safety, because Winter is so cranky.

Yesterday, I was all set to take him into the vet (for the forth time); but today he seems OK. He's swearing a little bit more than normal, but mostly he's just hanging out.

Feeding Himself is becoming something of a chore. He believes, deep down to his soul, that if he can see the bottom of his bowl, the remaining food must be tainted. He won't eat anything once he catches sight of the bottom of the bowl, and I can't always stay ahead of him. And yet, all it takes is me adding a few scoops of kibble and he's happy to gorge himself once again.

Canned food is slowly being cut from his diet. I had to reintroduce kibble because he was losing too much weight. Now that he's on kibble, the canned food just sits there and dries out. It used to be that he'd eat the canned food right after I'd served it, and then later when I sneakily flipped it over to make him think he was getting a fresh serving again. Lately, he won't touch it unless I feed him by hand. ... Not that he doesn't like canned, because he spends an hour each evening, sitting on the top of the fridge and calling out for his canned food to be served to him in the manner of which he has become accustomed. Once I finally break down and hand feed him, he's all good once again.

Spoiled brat. Lucky for him that I love him.

Monday, June 8, 2009

If you wait long enough...

... the answer will come to you.

I've been replacing the ugly light fixtures that came with the house. It started last year, when I decided that I was going to stay in this house, and that I should decorate it with things I love. (Previously, I was very careful not to let anything be too feminine, too bold of a statement or too ... anything.) Then, I decided that I was going to stay and I painted my front porch purple. That made it official.

Next, I started on the light fixtures. In my great room (living room/dining room/kitchen) I took out two sets of track lights and replaced them with two chrome fixtures that are all about the wow.
I found the first one in San Diego, while I was travelling with Katie. I didn't buy it then, but wished I had from the day I got home. So, when I found it again here in town, I snapped it up for above the kitchen island.

I decided then that that Sparklies are a Very Good Thing.

After that, I found this fixture, and added it to the collection, above the fireplace in the living room.

The problem has been finding a fixture to go between them, above the dining table. The only thing I'm certain is that the carboard-fake-stainless steel ceiling fan has to go.

I figure I can go one of two ways... I could get a fairly ornate fixture that can hold its own with those two, or I could get something very basic and fairly plain that will slip into the background without competing.

Oh, and if I could find something that didn't cost too much, I might feel a little less guilty about the first two.

About six weeks ago, I found an inexpensive fixture at Home Depot. It's Chrome (like the other two fixtures). It's round (like my new soon-t0-be-delivered dining room table). It isn't white (not a big fan of white), it isn't black (cat hair magnet!) and it doesn't have any soft material (cat hair and dust magnet). The price was reasonable, so I bought it. I didn't loved it, but I didn't dislike it. I figured that not everything can be the star in the room.

Except, six weeks has gone by and that fixture is still in its box, in the garage.

Today, I decided that I'd made the decision by not making the decision. If I didn't like it enough to hang it after six weeks, I don't like it enough to keep it. Tomorrow, I'm going to throw myself on the mercy of Home Depot, and hope that they'll let me return it after having it for so long. (Worse case scenerio, I figure they'll give me instore credit. Since I, personally, shop at Home Depot enough to support half their staff, I don't think that'll be a problem.)

After that, the search is on. I need a chrome fixture that's modern, and whimsical, and affordable. And apparently, I needs to call my name really, really loudly.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cat in the box

Winter loves boxes. It doesn't matter how small they are - he'll find a way to squish himself inside of them.

Because Winter seems to love boxes so much, I make a point of bringing them into the house, and leaving them around for him to play in. It cracks me up; and always makes me run to get my camera.

I wonder sometimes if Winter is thinking: The feeder lady loves it when I get into boxes. She leaves them around the house, asking me to get into them. Then, when I do, she takes a picture every single time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Toes for Cheese

I started dremelling Tallulah's toenails about a year ago. I read up on it first , and prepared myself for a big battle while she adjusted to the noise and vibration of the dremel. All that was unnecessary, though, since Tallulah's pretty much bomb proof.

I'm pretty sure that her thought process goes like this:

"You want to dremel my toes?"

"Can I have some cheese?"

"Oh.... OK."

And she sits calmly while I work on her toes.

I took some pictures of the process.

Notice how raggedy those toenails are before they get dremelled. I'd question how they get that bad so quickly; but my nails look almost as bad after a few hours of gardening.

I tried to take a picture of the dremel actually working on her toes, but, sadly, my third arm hasn't grown in yet.

You'll have to trust me that Tula sits quite still while I hold her paw in one hand and work the dremel with the other. The look on her face tells me how put upon she is, but she's still fairly cooperative.

After I finish a paw, she gets cheese.

Wait - where'd the cheese go???

Um, yeah... that cheese disappears pretty quickly. It took more than a few attempts, and quite a few pieces of cheese before I managed to get a picture of her actually taking the cheese.

Here we go...

After I finish dremelling each paw, I give her a piece of cheese.

(Considering the lightning fast way that she sucks the cheese back, that's the best picture I'm going to get of it. So, please go ahead and pretend like I got the angle right... and that I didn't cut off most of her head in the shot.)

And then, VOILA! We have short toenails.

'til tomorrow. Generally, it only takes a day or so before I start hearing that ticky ticky tick when she walks around the floors.

Oh, and for the record, Cotton would like you all to know that there isn't enough cheese on God's Green Earth for him to ever cooperate while I do his toenails.

That's why it's sooooo important to have a good relationship with skilled groomers.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'm changing the look around here. I liked the polka dots, but didn't like how the contents were mushed into such a skinny column, or how the text was so small. This look isn't quite as fun, but I think the layout makes more sense.

The invasion

EEK! Mice!

Aren't those little mice great?

I found them at a store on Whyte Ave, during yesterday's trip to Edmonton. I was tempted to buy a whole herd of them, but managed to hold myself back.

Instead, I bought three. ... Three Blind Mice.

A bit of a verbal ramble...

A year ago, I had my ceramic tile floors replaced with porcelain tile floors. I was told at the time that porcelain is more durable than ceramic. In fact, the sales lady mentioned that if I dropped my frying pan on the floor, the frying pan was more likely to be damaged than the porcelain tiles. I didn't really believe that, but if porcelain is stronger than ceramic, then great.

Porcelain tiles were installed. LOVE them. I love the looks of them. I love that they aren't slippery at all like ceramic. I love the way the colour and pattern hide the dirt. Mostly, I love that they were (finally) properly installed. However, I haven't really given much thought to the durability of the new floor after it was installed.

Flash back to last night: I dropped one of the new mice onto the porcelain floor. Right there, in front of God and everybody. (More importantly, right in front of the kitchen island - where everybody would see the damage.) I swear, time came to a screeching halt as I watched that cast iron mouse falling to the ground. I was sure that there'd be a big chip on my floor as a result. But there wasn't. Instead, the top of the mouse's
cast iron head fell off. The floor is completely unscathed.

The poor little mouse had to have a lobotomy.

Don't worry, though. The glue dried clearly, the scar is almost invisible; and the little mouse is happily scurrying around with his little friends once more.

Big score for the porcelain floors. (Although, I do think I'll continue to hold off on chucking of my cast iron frying pan at the floors just yet.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The unmade bed

Confession time: I don't usually make my bed. I've got all sorts of excuses (not a morning person, don't have time, I'm going to get back into bed and mess it up again...) but the truth is, I just don't usually bother.

That's for my own bed. The bed in my spare room is always made up with fresh sheets; or at least I try. Lately, it hasn't been looking so neatly made up. Lately, I keep finding the bed in my spare room looking something like this:
I live alone; so who keeps messing up the bed?

I found the culpret. The other night I was on my computer, and I heard digging. I called out and told Tula to stop digging, and she did. I didn't think much of it, but a while later, I went to track her down and found this:

Miss Tallulah Belle Poodle isn't as sweet and elegant as she'd have you believe. Her mama was. I met Tula's mama, and she was as dainty and ladylike as any poodle should be. However, I think those genes may have skipped Tula's generation. Or, maybe they just skipped her...

Either way, she likes to root around like a pig in dirt. She especially likes to root around blankets, and toss pillows in the air. And, she's in firm agreement with Winter the cat that cool, crisp cotton sheets are a whole lot more comfortable than the tops of comforters.

So, now you know. You know why my dog knows the command "stop digging" well enough that she'll follow it from across the house, and while out of sight. And, now you also know why lately this single girl has been washing two sets of sheets twice a week.

And maybe... I've just happened upon the best excuse of all for why I don't make my bed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not the best plan I've ever had.

I've been reading a lot about earth-friendly gardening. Everybody says that well rotted manure is a great natural fertilizer that won't adversely affect the environment. So, I sucked up the courage and bought a few bags of sheep poop. (According to my latest favorite book, Ecological Gardening, sheep poop is the best because it has the most nitrogen.)

I'm kind of squeamish, so it took me three weeks to work up the nerve to use that stuff. Finally, yesterday, after digging in a new garden along the side of the back deck, I opened up a bag and worked it into the soil. Surprisingly, the stuff is just like topsoil. I don't know that I could tell the difference between the two without the labels.

Cotton can tell the difference.

I took the dogs in to be groomed today. After I brought them home, I did a load of laundry and went to hang it out on the clothes line. Normally, I leave the dogs confined to the dog pen; but decided to let them run loose in the yard. It took Cotton about 2 seconds to zero in on the new garden. As I unwittingly hanged my laundry up to dry, my sweet smelling, clean white dog was around the corner rolling in, rooting up and I suspect munching on the sheep poop in the new garden.

So, 45 minutes after I'd shelled out $100 to have the dogs groomed, I had to give Cotton a bath.

Methinks the remaining sheep poop will be used only in the front yard, where my dogs don't go.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Unanswered question

I took this week off as vacation time, and have been puttering around in the gardens and yard. Yesterday, I stained the top railing of the deck. Just the top, mind you... the banisters are already done in cream. The board along the top of the railings, I decided to stain with some leftover purple stain from my front porch.

(It's not that bold of a colour, really. It's a very greyed out purple and does not resemble Barney in any way.)

After I finished up and put the paint & supplies away, though, I was faced with a mystery: How does a 10" dog get paint on his forehead when the only thing that was painted was 38" high???

Good thing that the dogs are going in to be groomed tomorrow. With any luck, I'll get the floor of the deck finished before they get home.