Monday, August 31, 2009

Autumn yellow (even though it's still August!)

Sunday morning I woke up to see Cathy Jean and Michael Ray sleeping nose to nose in the dining room but before I could get my camera, Michael had bolted for the back door. After letting him out, I had to go look for Cathy Jean because she had bolted in the opposite direction. I found her in the bedroom thinking she was completely hidden after she tucked her head under the bed. Anyway, the two of them were not going to cooperate for any future picture taking so I thought I'd head out to that land in Kansas and maybe prune the neglected weeping mulberry tree and tidy up the earth around it, maybe mulch...

This picture of the little tree that survived when the house built near it burned to the ground two years ago was taken in May.

And this is what it looked like on Sunday. Can you even see it??? Gawd.

I pulled up some of the ragweed (which was about 8-9 feet tall) but a couple plants filled a lawn bag and made absolutely no dent in the landscape. Pointless to even think of continuing. And besides, the oenothera that was almost covering the tree was so pretty.

As was the goldenrod.

There were lots of busy bees.

And one busy skipper butterfly who was looking a little ragged.

Yellow was definitely the color of the day... the sunflower state.

I think I'll wait for a couple frosts to happen before I start cleanup. I think everyone will be happy with that.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Insect girl

This past week has been so pretty as the weather transitions into fall. The sky gets bluer every day and the air almost seems crisp compared to what it should be at this time of year. If you could cut the air with a knife, it wouldn't leave any crumbs....well, maybe a lot of crumbs if it was truly crisp...oh, forget the's just d*mn pretty out there.

On Saturday I decided to visit the Kauffman Memorial Garden because I've been driving past it twice a day to and from work for years and have never stopped to take a look at it. I will have 20+ acres to do something with and I have got to start researching what to do with all that space.

The grape leaf anemones were in bloom and true to their name (anemone robustissima), looked um, robust. Bees and butterflies were very busy with them.

The garden is set up with four parallel walkways, two alongside the long center water feature and two on the outside. I walked down this outside aisle and was happy to see some milkweed in bloom because I was wondering if any native plants were included in this garden. As far as I could tell, this garden was full of the same old, same old when it came to what was planted.

I wasn't sure what the planting theme was with the garden because all of a sudden...banana trees.

The garden had a lot of the typical things you find in everyone's landscaped frontyard such as wax begonias and dusty miller...two plants I just despise. I was kind of getting bored with the whole thing although I have to admit it's unfair to judge a garden at this time of year when everything is winding down. I am appreciative of the rows of magnolia trees. They must look absolutely fabulous in the spring.

I decided this was not a gardener's garden. This was just a very pretty place to get away during the day, maybe eat your lunch, and then get back to the office. Pretty, but nothing I wanted to duplicate.

So I decided to get back to my own garden, as sloppy and unkempt as it is. And my bugs can be a lot more cooperative when it comes to picture taking because the insects in this garden were fast flyers! At least I managed to get a photo of one little skipper butterfly...

So here's what was going on in my garden. A spider was running around somewhere completely naked because he left his clothes on this four o'clock.

A jumping spider was on the kitchen door trying to get inside the house again.

He then surprised me when he suddenly leapt between a space in the decking. I think he saw this parasitic wasp.

Maybe he leapt because he saw me. Jumping spiders get really fed up when I follow them around with my camera.

And then there are these sweet little things. I know leafhoppers are supposed to eat leaves but these guys have yet to leave any holes in the calla leaves.

For some reason that garden stayed in my memory because it really bothered me that there was nothing in it that spoke to me...until I saw this close-up of one of the sculptures after uploading it onto the computer. That shadow makes her look like she has an extra set of arms...and with four arms and two legs...she could be an insect girl.

Success. I found inspiration. The first thing I want in my future garden is an insect girl sculpture and if she could be part of a fountain, even better. :-)

And the things you will never find? I can definitely say you'll never see dusty miller OR wax begonias.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Turtle sleepover

The last couple nights have been unusually cool (in the 50s!) so the turtles have to come in for the night. Cathy Jean always goes right to sleep wherever I put her but Michael has to take his time to see what's new in the house, or something, and may take an hour or two before he chooses where he wants to sleep for the night...usually at the side of my bed.

When I wake up in the morning, I look over the side of the bed and this is what I see. An alert turtle ready to go.

Once Michael sees I'm up, it's time to turn around...

...and start the day.

So let's...



"Hey! Lady! Did you just go back to bed?"

I can't sleep in when there's an impatient turtle in the house so I make my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth while Michael makes his way to the kitchen door. Something's going on out there.

The smoking cat and the black cat are having a heated verbal discussion about something.

Fight over.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Where IS that woman??????"

Okay, I'm finally ready to go outdoors so I grab Michael and set him down at the base of the deck steps where he proceeds to climb over whatever is in his way as fast as possible (and with as many stomps possible) to get to his favorite spot in the yard.

Almost there...


For a turtle, he sure carries a lot of drama around with him.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Possible weed solution?

Oh, it wasn't enough to just imagine something as silly as leaping wallabies in the landscape, I had to take the next step and Photoshop them in to see what they would look like. The only realistic thing in this photo is Violet's definite lack of enthusiasm.

Wallabies in Kansas. Total silliness. But it sure would be fun to watch them take down all that giant ragweed...with Michael Ray and Cathy Jean's help of course.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In May, this is what the land looked like...

Two months later, this is what the land looks like if you just continue your way along that cement walkway (there used to be a house on the property several years ago but the house burned down).

I have just identified the incredibly tall weeds that are doing such a good job of growing.

Giant ragweed. Giant. Like capable of growing 17 feet tall!!!!! And I'm sure there was quite the pollen cloud that I probably would not have survived if I had managed to get out there this month. Gawd. Sort of makes me thankful that my little car was not capable of the trip.

But I'm still working on getting that new car and am anxious to get out there again, even if I have to wear a hazmat suit to protect myself from killer pollen and ticks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More thoughts about cats...

Well, I can claim most cat stories are boring (well, unless they're up to something really bad...for some reason, naughty animal behavior is always a compelling thing for me), but I don't want anyone to think that I find cats themselves boring! So not true. There's just something about watching a cat as opposed to hearing about it. I think just about all cat stories require a good visual to make them interesting.

My cousin posted this video on his Facebook page a couple days ago. I had seen Nora the piano playing cat before (and she's wonderful) but was not aware that her music career had stepped up a couple notches. Oh my, what a talented cat. A Lithuanian composer/conductor took it upon himself to create a video duet with the piano playing kitty and.....well, grab a cup of coffee and just slow down for five minutes and watch. If I told you about it, it might be a mildly interesting one sentence story, but watching the "CATcerto?" You'll be positively enchanted. :-)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A story about a cat and a girl and a worm

One of my favorite things is to unexpectedly catch sight of the backs of two little pointed ears peeking out from behind something knowing that attached to them is a blissfully sleeping cat. This morning I saw Violet's little ears peeking out from behind the sheets of the unmade bed. She was enjoying her second nap since waking up earlier in the morning (!!!!). I couldn't get a photo of her (or her ears) from behind because when she heard me coming, she woke up, turned her head and shot me one of her looks. Violet is well aware of any camera sneaking up on her. But I did get a photo, just not the cute one I was hoping for but cute enough for me...even with her scowl and the fireballs being shot from her eyes.

As smitten as I am with my cat who can tolerate half of about anything, I cannot think of anything more boring than hearing a story about someone's cat...mine included. What is up with that? You can always find something interesting in a dog story because they are so enthusiastic about everything and they are capable of doing things that are so entertainingly astoundingly awful (I'm thinking of Renee's dog Dondi and his penchant for finding nasty things to grab and then try to eat on his walks...maggoty dead moles...frozen phlegm on the winter sidewalk...poop cigars...). Talking parrots almost always have a good story. Even turtles can have a blog dedicated to them and have people actually interested in what they do or don't do every day. Go figure. But for some reason, cats just are not compelling subjects for stories...if you want someone to stick around for the end of them.

But I do have one.

Cathy Law lived in a house that had a garage attached to the basement. In the basement was where she kept the cat box. Cathy Law came home one day, parked her car in the garage and when she walked through the door to the basement, the first thing she saw was a worm lying outside the cat box. Cathy Law put the worm in a jar, grabbed the cat and headed immediately off to the vet. The vet examined the worm and then he examined the cat. His diagnosis? That Billy Law, Cathy Law's cat, would be fine but he wasn't so sure about the earthworm.

Ba dum da dum. :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Waiting for meteors

Last night I went into the backyard to try and watch the Perseids meteor shower. It was cloudy, the moon was out, the trees were big, the porch lights were on....but despite all that, I was feeling hopeful because I just got a new set of binoculars. This was also the first time I had ever set out to look for a falling star. And since it might take a while, I lay on my back in the grass (because the binoculars turned out to be kind of heavy) and hoped that I would not be interrupted by possum traffic. Luckily Violet came over and settled herself on top of me to act as lookout. I was now in business.

I got the binoculars focused and searched and searched the sky, the small part I could actually see. I then fiddled with the focus. I then decided to just focus on one star and be patient. Maybe some more fiddling. Finally a star started moving. How exciting! It made all sorts of circles and jiggles in the sky and I was awestruck....for minutes on end. For minutes. And more minutes that started to add up to big parts of an hour. Then I thought, these things aren't supposed to go on this long. If I was watching a meteor, why wasn't it moving in just one direction and if it was a fireball, why wasn't it burning up or doing something besides wiggling in the sky? I set my binoculars on another star. It started the same wiggly jiggly dance. So did the next one. Damn. It was just my bad focusing skills. I never saw anything worth anything and since the number of mosquitos that found me were equal to the number of stars I could see in the sky, Violet and I ran back into the house as fast as we could.

Anyway, the only reason I'm writing about this non-event is so that if I check this day in my blog one year from now, I will remember to go to that land in Kansas and watch the meteor shower there. And if I manage to get a new car this weekend, I might just go out there and do that. :-)

I'm not sure why but I decided to do a Google search for fireballs and look what I found:

It's true. Amazon really does sell everything. With free shipping too.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I finally found somebody who likes to be photographed

...and it wouldn't be this guy.

And it wouldn't be these two either...

This one kept an eye on me until he noticed I had my eye on him and then he quickly scrambled to the other side of the leaf. When I tried to look for him again, he always seemed to be on the other side. :-/ I wondered if all the leafhoppers had left the sage growing in the side yard to spend some concentrated time together on these calla lilies.

Almost. There were still a few leafhoppers resting on the sage leaves but just a few. I was right, most of them had moved to the backyard to hang out on the calla lily leaves. However, the ones that remained on the sage leaves were pretty calm compared to the ones on the calla's... although they were still not too happy to be photographed. Just more comfortable with the leaf they were resting on and a little unwilling to give it up.

...but then, that's kind of a smile, isn't it?

The real reason I was in the side yard with my camera was so I could photograph the seedheads of the northern sea oats, a grass that is native to this area. A couple years ago my friend Carol had given me a small plant from her garden before she moved to Des Moines. One year later that small plant got big. This year.....huge!!! It is such a pretty grass and the flat seedheads are so pretty when they flutter in a breeze.

When Meg and I were out on the land in May (I really should come up with a good name for those 21 acres.....The Galloping Tick Ranch? Ha ha ha) I thought I had seen bamboo starting to grow but when I looked closely, I noticed that it was instead a big area of northern sea oats. It didn't look like much back then in May...

...but a couple months later, they definitely filled in that space.

I told Meg she needed some for her garden so she set to work trying to dig out a small plant to take home with her. While Meg dug, I continued to take pictures of things and when I returned to where she was digging, she started to laugh because she had been waiting for me to discover something near us which I was completely missing every time I walked by with my camera. She had to drag me over and make me look.

Well look, the property south of mine has lots and lots of horses. Miniature ones.

And they must be used to having their pictures taken and told how darn cute they are because look.

And you just have to wait a second, and Gawd, they manage to get even cuter.

Apparently an audience is a compelling thing to a horse.

They lined up like iron filings to a magnet (well, except for those two on the right).

Just another wonderful nice thing about that land. If I can't get anyone to face my camera when I'm out there, I can always trek on back and enjoy a good staredown with some horses that seem to enjoy a good staredown themselves.