Monday, June 29, 2009

Cicadas and lightning bugs

Last week while I was driving home from work,  I found my street covered with lightning bugs, so busy with their flashing that it made the street all sparkly. I had never seen them covering a street before. It was very pretty. But as I made my way up the street, I hoped I was not crunching too many of them. :-/

Now that it's hot out, the lightning bugs are everywhere and making up for lost time. They are driven. Sometimes I see them high up in the trees and on other nights they are all low to the ground. This year there seems to be a heck of a lot of them.

Last week I also heard my first cicada of the year. I am one of the few that loves the sounds of cicadas because they're just so darn enthusiastic about everything. And I love lightning bugs because of their clumsy flying and what they have to do to get attention. I think they're completely unaware that absolutely everyone can see them but the one they are flashing their lights for. "Look at me, look at me, whoooooooaaaa........sorry, lady." But put the two of them together? Oh my, that was something. It seemed like there was one lightning bug for every square foot in the backyard and it didn't take long for Violet and me to want to get away from all that activity and get indoors. 

This is a short video of my completely neglected backyard. I don't think you can see the lightning bugs very well but trust me, the air was thick with them. The cicada? Oh, I don't think you can miss that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peony update

Once again, a complete row of peonies was successfully removed by one driven turtle over a period of a couple days. You can now start to see how the ground gets compacted where that one turtle (who is not Cathy Jean) stomps back and forth during the day until those peonies are gone and out of his way for another year. When it rains, water flows down the two little gullies created by the opposing pairs of turtle feet. It's frustrating...but it's also kind of funny, I guess you can look at things from two points of view at the same time. Errrgh. Turtles. Actually, just one turtle (who would never be Cathy Jean).

The backyard is really looking awful because I haven't spent much time in it this year and besides, it's been so darn hot. It's almost July and I am still potting up bulbs which should have been potted up in....oh.......April at the latest. Oh well. Things will grow if they want to grow.

I never have much luck with petunias but I'm trying to grow them again this year.  I do have a lot of luck with golden lysimachia however. I remember seeing this plant for the first time on a water garden tour covering an entire backyard slope to a pond. It was memorably lovely. Lime green is one of my favorite colors and I think any color that gets itself next to it is the better for it.

The pansies are still blooming but they're soooooo tiny.

Another plant that is predictably pretty without much attention is Crossandra. It's sold as an annual but you can bring it indoors for the winter and it is a perfectly good non-complaining houseplant. This one is called "Orange Marmalade (the plant on the left is a caladium)."

This is a close-up of another variety of crossandra I bought last year. The flowers on this one have have more yellow in them.

Orange flowers are very pretty to me. The tawny daylilies are now winding down and even though they're the most ubiquitous daylily there is, I still really like them. 

This calla lily almost looks like it's got a lit cigarette in there. I guess that's appropriate because callas certainly have a garden porn aspect to them. :-)

Every year I try to get as much orange into the garden as I can, as well as lime green and purple. These three colors are the core colors for my garden every year.  I hope to really get started on that poor garden soon.... and also to keep four determined turtle feet off everything that gets planted. I'm thinking there are a lot of broken garden dreams ahead for me but for one turtle (who will never be Cathy Jean), this looks like this is setting up to be one fun summer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Remember these from about a month ago? The stinky voodoo lilies?

I guess the flies did their job because I now have seedpods. 

And it didn't take long for the spotted stalks to come up...

Even some precocious unexpected baby stalks came up. It takes a day or two for all of them to spiral out their fronds.

I now have whiskey barrels full of these things. It took only a month to go from flower to full grown plant.

At the end of this summer, I could have hundreds of these things. Hundreds. 

A couple years from now...oh, I could have thousands of these things. Thousands. My present little plot on the prairie is going to look like something from the set of an old Outer Limits show...if it doesn't already. :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bright eyed

That's what I saw when I brought the turtles their breakfast this morning...Michael Ray and Cathy Jean, side by side with their front legs on the plank, two very happy and bright eyed turtles enjoying some sun before it got too hot.

But as soon as I set the plates down, Michael bolted for his tomato and strawberries and I missed my photo opportunity of the two of them (I cannot believe I'm about to say this) being cute.

Different story when I got home and it was 100 degrees outdoors, or something like that. It was horribly hot so the turtles got themselves and their area hosed down while they tried to keep cool in the shade.

But in the meantime, Violet could not get enough of the horrible heat. Her fur was all puffed out so I could describe her as being bushy-tailed. However, for being so bushy-tailed, she was not about to move from her sleeping box any time soon. There is nothing she loves more than to be heated up to the point of being combustible. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another busy day for a turtle

Because when it gets hot outside, you know what turtles do...

They get going.

And we're off! 

To get through, on and around the peonies...and as fast as possible.

Take a loop around the rose bush...

Push, push, push...

 And we're through! continue the figure eight to the other side of the trampled peonies...

...flattening those remaining pesky peonies to the ground.

Almost home...

A few more steps...

...and just one lap around the kerria shrub before it's time do it all over again...

...for hours. However long it takes to get those darn peonies out of the way.

But sometimes you need a short watermelon break.

It's hard work but very satisfying to one turtle when he gets it all done.

And if a turtle has to do something, he's going to do it. This is the year where I finally gave up protecting the peonies and maybe both of us will be the better for it. That's what I'm hoping. :-/

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The land wasn't exactly calling my name...

...but it did have my initials ("O" and "K" are the first two letters of my last name).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My year of living recklessly...

Earlier this year Brian called to let me know he had just gotten out of the hospital and that he was on his way to living at a mission. He wanted to say good-bye and then said the reason for moving to the mission was that he had no money and that he hadn't eaten in days...oh that was just ridiculous so I asked where he lived and drove over and took him out to lunch and then we went grocery shopping and then when I was in his apartment dropping off groceries, saw that he was sleeping on the floor...with no mattress after having surgery just a week before. Gawd. That night I went to Target and got him an airbed. And so, I was introduced and then pulled into the life of Brian. And it really was sort of like a Monty Python movie because things kept getting so bad and sinking to such levels of worseness, Brian's life had really become a very dark comedy. 

But Brian's now in a halfway house and is doing great and has a job and boss he really likes. I'm so happy for him. And even happier that he didn't get either of the first two jobs he interviewed for (one was at a slaughterhouse, the other at a pesticide plant). I think Brian is in the best place he could possibly be to get his life back on track. Dick told me to be careful when all this started. I told him that I was always careful and that I was not a reckless person...that I actually could use more "reck" in my life. Dick said, "Trust me, you have plenty of 'reck.'" 

The thing is, all of Brians' decisions about whether to do something or not do something had all caught up with him in one dramatic week. And the reason I'm thinking about him, is because maybe Dick is right. This seems to be a year of dramatic ends and starts for a lot of people I know and maybe, me too. A lifetime of decisions and non-decisions that finally lead to something unexpectedly. Why do I say that? Well, Meg and I were driving around having fun imagining all the possible places we could live in the country and then we found some land that must have a spell on it because it compelled us to return again and again and again.

And then dammit, I put in an offer for it. 

And dammit, now it's mine.

For the past week I have had the worst case of buyer's remorse. What the hell was in my head? The economy stinks. It's going to be bad for a long time. My employer announced that staff would be reduced 6-8% by the end of the year. And I'm old!!!!! I'm out of debt and now I'm getting right back into it big time. Really big time. And if I have a job at the end of the year, will I have one next year? How much more reckless can you get?

I've been trying to sleep as much as I can in the past five days so I can avoid thinking about what I have just done and whether I even want to proceed with this land ownership thing. Everybody who knows me says this has been my dream, to live in the country, have more animals, garden on a grand scale, that kind of thing. I had to ask myself if that was still my dream.

But look at this...

And this...

...and this. It is soooo beautiful.

They say you only live once....but then, Susan Boyle finally got her dream and it nearly killed her.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Michael's favorite sleeping area in the house...

...even though he's outgrown it. If you look carefully, you can see that not all four legs of the stool are touching the ground because one determined turtle was going to sleep under that stool no matter what. Michael used to fit easily under it but not anymore. He's slowly turning into a doublewide.

Even though it's almost summer, it's sometimes a little too cool at night to let the turtles sleep outside so I bring them in for the night. Cathy usually puts her head under the hem of the drapes. That's all she needs to feel safe at night--have her head covered. But Michael needs to explore a little bit until he finds the best spot and usually it's under this stool. He might take two trips into the bedroom to take a look at what I'm doing (trying to sleep while listening to those four restless little feet stomp on the wood floor) but he eventually settles down to something. 

And in the morning, I let them out again. 

They get to have their sleepovers in the house just for a few weeks in the spring and the fall when I can't leave them out overnight because of the low temperatures. Normally they'd be put in the basement but that's so depressing after they've spent some time in the outdoors and had their freedom. It's rare for them to have an accident in the house this time of year, probably because it's not that hot out yet and their little cold-blooded systems aren't fully revved up. We have had some accidents but they're so uncommon, it's worth the risk to keep them upstairs. Besides, I don't enjoy carrying a squirming 20 pound tortoise into the basement. It's starting to get dangerous. Ha ha ha.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Being watched

This morning I was out in the backyard trying to find Michael so I could serve him his breakfast. Cathy was easy to find, she had crawled into one of her favorite sleeping areas under the deck. But Michael???? I couldn't find him anywhere so I started lifting up groundcovers and such to see if he had buried himself somewhere. And yes, yes he had. And had a great view of me bending over and looking under practically everything in the backyard...twice... while he just sat there.

Once I found him, I went indoors to get his salad (I had just served Cathy) but when I came back outside, he was gone. Errrrgh. This time my search for him did not take too long. I found him in the area where I've been potting up all my plants, just sitting there, sort of pretending he couldn't see me and I know he was thinking I couldn't see him.

But I knew he was taking it all in.

Violet has seen this a million times and knows that she's going to have to witness this routine a million more times for months and months to come. For her, this is setting up to be one long summer.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oh that Michael again...

Today I was busy potting up plants and while doing that, I kept running in and out of the house in search of everything I kept forgetting to bring outdoors...the pots, the bulbs, etc. Lots of back and forth. I finally had everything I needed and was sitting on the deck steps potting up something when I realized that Michael had appeared from somewhere and was giving me a look. A long look. And once he knew I had finally seen him, he stomped off.

I knew what that look meant. That was a late afternoon tomato request. So I went indoors to get him one...

...and here is an action shot of him racing back to get at it.

And in just a few seconds, complete satisfaction. Michael Ray loves his tomatoes.

And I love to watch turtles eat.

Turtles however, don't like it when I do that. But because Michael Ray had a really good tomato in front of him, there was too much enjoyment on his part to even think of hiding from me. I watched until he had enough of his tomato and then enough of me.

And then he was off...probably to find Cathy Jean so he could gloat.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh, I think it's going to be a difficult and trying summer...

I just have that feeling............and why?

One overturned pot (and not a small one, that pot is 14 inches wide at the top)...

Two overturned pots (a little smaller but definitely not a lightweight one)...

And a turtle-wide trail that goes right through the middle of some growing plants. The turtles could have walked on the grass just beside all those plants but no, those pots ready to be overturned in the immediate distance were too compelling.