Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Barns and snow on the mountain....

I had a request to show more sides of the barn that my Dad had built for our young boys many years ago. I explained earlier in another blog that the cat thinks it is a great for her day long naps. She is an old cat so sleeping is her main job. We have noticed that when it gets really warm she just moves down to the lower floor. In this picture you can see she is looking out ot the haymow door. She gaurds our property to keep stray neighbor cats at least fifty feet away from the front door.
So maybe this winter I can finally bring it in and put it in the basement. The barn was simply made but the boys sure used it for a garage and storing blocks.
When I was a kid on the farm, my folks would visit the neighbors whose last name was Deao. Ella Deao loved to garden and had a traditional flower garden. She had a very long row of snow on the mountain and in front of that was alyssum. She would give me starts for both of them but it would take more than a miracle for me to get them to grow. I believe she had moss rose also. They also had a many armed bracket that held from handles, the cone shapes that were the headlights from old model T fords. They would plant geraniums in them. I can get a picture of that in the future as I have a neighbor who has one of those still today. I just thought of that just now. Anyway, the goutweed is a weed to some people but I love it on the north side of the house where it is shady and dry all summer. It is a great ground cover. I like the colors and textures of the plant.
I planted some basil plants today. They had been started from seed and neglected due to my absent mindedness. They were in the spare room, hanging on and I finally planted them in the ground. I have a cactus story to tell you about after I get pictures. Salvage everything and throw away nothing. that makes for a lot of stuff. Thanks for reading........
Oh yes the raspberry pie is wonderful. We are going to buy a topping for today.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Everything is growing....

I spent the entire morning working outside. The wind was great as it kept me feeling cooler than it actually was. Mowed the larger part of my yard. I do it in two days anymore, as it breaks up the time outside and I don't mow all in one time. I put down newspaper between my tomato plants and put down the grass clippings. Two of my fellow bloggers I follow do this and I think it should work great. Planted a few petunias that were suppose to be on special, but they hadn't told the master computer yet, but I was ok with it. I fertilized today as I never get around to it and just had to do it today. I have three rain barrels on my property so I can get quick water fills from watering can and am not paying the city for water. Oh yes, I picked red raspberries. The photo is the batch that I picked two days ago and today I picked the same size container and filled that one to the top. I need to work with my raspberry patch so I will have to research how it is suppose to be set up. I bought one plant three years ago at a fundraiser sale and I now I have these plants that are producing. They seem to be on the ground rather than stand up so I need to see if I need to stake them. I didn't say that my wife is making me a pie this evening. Wow that is like having pie made with gold.
My wife planted the area in front of our Art Gallery sign and the plants are just now really filling in to look good. I fertilized them and need to water them more often.
I have a covered gate and this is what you see when you look through the trellis. The hostas are only a year old so they are doing well.
Last fall Della's dad who was living with us had me plant this for him to keep in his window in his room. He had to be farming even when you are 98. Now that he is gone, I built this shelf for it to help shade it and maybe get it through our hot summers. In the middle of the end plants is a pink one and it will bloom this year. Thanks for reading.......

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday rambling again........

Stella D'oro is always a good tough lily to plant. I move it everywhere and it just settles in and blooms. I need to take an update photo of this as it has twice as many blooms now.
Marigolds were my favorites for a long time but I could never get them to grow as well as my mom could. She really watered her plants and they would get to be large bush shapes. Mine are getting just the natural rainfall and I need to start carrying water out there to them. I like that they take the heat so well. There are a lot of varieties out there and one that I saw in Grand Marias, Minn. is a variety that has a lot of small little flowers all over it. The flowers are half the size or smaller than the normal sized marigold. I can never find that in Iowa but it grows well in Grand Marias in their hanging planters along their streets.
This is the planting that I have in one of my new found granite ware antique pans. I found the granite ware in my dad's garage, who knows where it came from but I like it.
When I take pictures on my side porch, I am always snapping around an item that I guess I should explain that sits on my porch. My dad was a farmer and he made a barn for my boys to play with when they were young. They stored their blocks in it and also parked cars and trucks in it. When the kids moved out to go to college I took it to school so the art students could draw it. When I retired from teaching, I had to bring it home. I had set it out under a tree last summer and our Yellow Kitty loved it and slept in it. Over the winter I brought it to the porch to take to the basement, and Yellow Kitty liked it on the porch and was in it all the time, so it stayed out on the porch. I guess it is a permanent fixture there even though I am not sure it looks that good there. So when I snap stuff, you see it in the background and now you know what it is. Thanks for reading....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kansas City revisited.....

When you visit the Country Club Plaza in KC there is a large fountain at the entrance to the area. It was created to honor the man Nichols who build the area. It is a large circular fountain with these small people riding backs of fish that are spraying water onto the large horse sculptures with riders. It makes a loud sound as there are four of these shooting water and the center piece is also spraying water.
This is one of the four large horses in the fountain. Behind that sculpture is a white church that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I assume it is one of those things he designed on paper but never visited, as he had done for a lot of his lesser commissions. There is meaning behind all of the horses in the fountain but I haven't researched it.
West of Des Moines, is a new mall called Jordan Creek Mall. It has been created to mimic the Country Club Plaza. The architecture of the area is highly restrictive to be of the Palladian Style though instead of the Spanish architecture. Palladio was a Venitian architect that created the arched windows and triangular capped towers. Some of it includes Greek influence in it's stle. All of the building in the mall area for miles around are all designed like this. Wal mart was forced to break rules and create a conforming facade. I guess Home Depot and Applebees did the same. They couldn't have their trade mark design. One filling station going up right now has Roman columns. It is actually a Casey's convenience store, gasoline, and they usually look like brick and barn structures. The restaurants from the Plaza are all now up here also.
We spent the last two days in downtown Des Moines viewing a large arts festival. Our capital city has spent a lot of money on the area and I think that the inspiration has come from cities like KC. Des Moines has come a long way from being a farmer's capital to being quite a busy, bustling city. We ate at a Spagetti Works downtown and the whole area was crowded on Friday night. The arts festival was inspiring for us as artist. We saw a lot of work that we liked and some that we scratched our heads over as to their merit to be in the show. It was way too hot for the event but was fun to attend. Thanks for reading......

Friday, June 26, 2009

My friends, I guess......

The tree that the raccoon lives in is outside of the dog fence and a row of bittersweet bushes. I thought she was gone. She usually takes off across the street and goes into the farm field then timber and doesn't return until fall. My border collie barks at things that go by but when he is looking up, it is a squirrel or the coon. Well, she hasn't left yet as I discovered last night and one of her offspring is sitting there on her back. It was 91 degrees or more and at eight o'clock last night they must have been hot.
I am not going to complain, because I would never harm her or her young, but I don't have a single fish left in my outside water feature. I should not be so dumb but I thought since it is a buried stock water tank that it would be too deep for her to get to the fish. I am dumb, and I probably won't quit beating myself up over this but she and her young one has eaten them all. I really thought she had taken off, as I hadn't seen her for a month. I know that she feeds off of the neighbors cat food on the porch. My two koi and three large goldfish are not there anymore. I hadn't been monitoring them as we were gone a few days, and some say during mosquito season, just let them eat larvae, you don't need to feed them.

To add to my dismay, I do remember that raccoons swim, so she probably just went in, hand fished them out with her nimble little claws. It is all my fault for putting them out there. Well, I feel that I won't put fish out there anymore. I might by some twelve cents, feeders, and see if she is still hungry.
I will stop the whine now and tell you that I was out all morning staking up oriental lilies, regal lilies, and some phlox. I got the path cleared a little so one can walk down it again. The plants have gotten so top heavy in areas that they needed to be tied up so they won't get drowned out at the next rain.
I mowed the dog's backyard and pruned and cut back the wild, Iowa rose. It has day lilies growing at their base and I think I can still get them to bloom by giving them some light. I need to pick raspberries for a pie. I planted a red raspberry plant, bought at the library plant sale, and now four years later I have a lot of plants. I may have to pick once and freeze them and then pick again to get a pie.
The tomato plants in Iowa are growing in this heat by leaps and bounds. I have glads up and my pepper plants look like they are going to make it. It feels good to get trimming done and weeding done.
I took out a very old juniper evergreen today to the disgust of a large garter snake. It had become shaded from a tree and a fence and it was almost dead. I only had to cut it out with one stem and the whole thing came out at once. I never did see where the snake went but I am glad to get the juniper out of there.
Well, cloudy and hot today, 85, and we are heading to the arts festival this evening. Very large event, set up in the streets of downtown Des Moines. Artist from all over the country are featured. We will be taking water bottles with us as it won't be too cooled down by four o'clock. Thanks for reading. . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rambling around the yard......

I just returned from southern Iowa, push mowing a yard that was overdue by a week or two. It is 91 degrees and I a wonder how the rest of our summer will be. If it continues, it will reinforce my pity party that I have about growing flowers in Iowa. Some years I just close down the garden and say I will not plant an annual ever again. Perennials can handle it but they are all just drooping right now with this heat. One plant that picks me up is the snapdragon. They love it hot. They are doing very well out at the corner of my property and the marigold is holding it's own.

I moved this rose from the south of my house because of the heat and it is doing alright next to a shaded area in the pm. I will carry water for it tonight to keep it blooming.

I moved this from southern Iowa and it is doing very well. I noticed today that I had left a part of it at my parents home and it was blooming down there also in Osceola.

On my photo blog is another picture of my neighbors cactus bed. It is enjoying the heat and keeps spreading along the south side of her garage. One other thing that is benefiting from our heat are my tomatoes. I think they have grown six inches the past couple of days.

My lilies are starting to open up. I need to tie them up as between all our heat we are getting large rainfall amounts. The lilies won't stand up in such wet soil and even my phlox in on area have decided to just lay down. Thanks for reading......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time to play with toys.....

I am fifty-nine years old and I can still enjoy all that there is about toys. When we were going through the Narnia exhibit, they finish it all off with a little shop with things to buy that help you to remember your visit. I have antique toys but this train was a British replica of the train used to transport the children from London to the country during WW 2. If you don't know the story, kids were sent off to sponsoring families not always relatives, for them to get away from the bombing in the city. The Narnia story is based on the experiences that the children have when they live with a professor in an old mansion. They travel into the land of Narnia through the professors large wardrobe.

I will mention John and Iva all the rest of my life. They were step Great Uncle and Aunt who were actually like grandparents to me. The lost a boy in the war and he is buried in France. They were like an experience of visiting the real Living History Farm. When you visited their house it was really going back into time. They had a large metal bucket next to their refrigerator full of cast iron metal toys that all kids played with when they visited. When they moved from the farm I got to take about a third of the contents home with me. This train was in the bucket. It has a 1904 patent date on it but I don't know much about it except that it use to have a windup mechanism in it. I painted it as a college kid, and the Antique Road Show would be scolding me and calling me an idiot, but it was a rusty mess.

This next piece looks like one that would connect to a fire wagon. I have never looked for it at antique store but it probably is out there. I painted it too so it's value is only one of great memories to me.

I have many more and I will show more as time goes by but I thought this trolley sort of related to the theme. It actually looks like a trolley and it has a place to connect something to it like another car, but now I think it could of been a horse drawn trolley. Again I haven't spent time looking for it but I know there are others out there somewhere like it.
I keep a lot of my toys in the oat sprouter that came from John and Iva's home. I look back at the things these people have given me and I really don't think they even could have know how much they meant to me. They lived in a farm home that they had built, close to Hopeville, Iowa and they are buried in the Murray Cemetery, the same as my parents. Thanks for reading.....

Oat Sprouter, what is it? Check this out.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Union Station, KC.......and Narnia

About ten years ago, the train station, Union Station was restored and opened to the public. It is very large similar to all of the ones around the US including the one in Washington DC. The building itself is very impressive to see but the different featured exhibits that they have there are very interesting. A few years back they were sending the Titanic exhibit around the country and we saw it there. It had real items from the Titanic that had been brought up and they had recreated the state rooms that people stayed in while traveling on the boat. It was fantastic and eventually we saw a similar exhibit here in Des Moines at our science center. The basement of the Union Station is large and they have a permanent science center down there as well as a theatre and other exhibit space.

If you are not a Narnia fan, you can just stop reading here. When we were visiting there they had the Narnia Exhibition. It was created to display all of the original costumes of all of the actors and authentic props from the two movies, Narnia and Prince Caspian based on the books by C.S. Lewis. They tied the exhibit into science related teaching. It was a very nice presentation. They showed how they made the shields and swords. They had the actual street light of the opening scene and did I tell you that we had to walk through the closet doors to get into Narnia. A model of the castle used in the shooting of the second movie and scenes of the actual set show the most remarkable large set I have seen. They didn't do a fake castle scene with computers but had an actual castle set created. When they made the first movie they had a forest with snow it was an actual set up inside of a very large building with trees and rocks. Need I say that Disney spent millions without a worry knowing they would quadruple their money.
The one remarkable exhibit was the actual scene set up of the little beaver house. The whole scene was there and all their little props. If you want to see over 250 costumes, flags, swords, large chests of gold items, hundreds of actual props,walk through the effects of a snow machine and view how they created the movie on many digital screens, it is worth your time to see it. It was a very creative exhibit of a very creatively made set of movies. If it comes to a city near you I think you might find it interesting. Thanks for reading......

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day...

One never thinks about reaching the age that you talk about your father who is now in your past not your present. My dad has been gone for eight years now. It gives one a lot of time to remember and maybe more understand his life and how it has affected mine. My dad was a farmer most of his life. His experience of the war gave him a great appreciation for the world around him and he loved to travel. He gleaned creative ideas from others and had no fear in trying to make things. He built with wood, making houses, garden windmills and never had a doubt that he couldn't do it. He is the one that gave me the confidence to created with wood. It is a drive to make things from wood for me just like my painting drive and growing plants. He gave me that confidence to work with wood by being a model of a self-trained carpenter. I posted the photo of the birdhouse that I created recently, an example of something my dad would have tackled with confidence.

My father-in-law passed away a few months ago and I had to include a photo of him, 98 years old, at the bottom of the ladder, checking up on me. As I built the new porch he really desired to be young again, and to be helping, maybe even bossing, but he wanted to be a part of it all. He always used the same joke, should I shake the ladder?

As I continue to create things whether paint pictures, growing gradens, or building with wood, I follow a history of making things, creating new things for self enjoyment and for the pleasure of others. I appreciate that I could follow in my dad's footsteps.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pink oldie....

When I bought my 1903 house,, in 1976, I was twenty six years old. I didn't know much back then but I have observed and learned things about the house the past thirty one years. The house originally was built on a flagstone foundation. Some time in the thirties they decided to put a basement under the house. It was made from the fired clay ceramic brick. They put the basement under the most of the house but the kitchen did not get included in that. So the flagstone foundation is still there. All around that kitchen area grew this rose on the west and north. I can't really call it a bush like a floribunda but it spreads by it's roots. In 1985, my wife and I added a large room for an art gallery and studio that sits to the north of the kitchen. I opened up the wall with a very wide doorway so it looks from the inside like a natural transition. Anyway, I had to destroy the roses on the north and I worried about the ones on the west as they didn't seem as strong. But they have done well.
The rose is one time bloomer and has a very light sweet scent. In most years I cut it all the way down to the ground. Last fall I didn't get that done so I have blight, white scale, whatever all over the leaves. I will cut it back this year for sure to stop the blight. I see in the last few years that it has now crept around the corner of my kitchen to the south side of the house. If I let it go, it will fill in quickly.

A footnote on the kitchen is that it was build originally like a summer kitchen. It had screen doors on the north and south of the room to allow air to move through the room. Outside against the original siding one can see the outline of the chimney that once stood there for the old stove that probably sat in the kitchen. I am thinking that the chimney standing there probably kept them from putting a basement under the kitchen wing. Enough of that history stuff for today. I like to see how the way things use to be. By the way, when them built this house, they also built another one just like it across the street but in a reversed mirrored copy of the very same floor plan.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Escape to Kansas City....

While in Kansas City we always have to hit the Country Club Plaza. The shops are exclusive and the buildings are amazing. There at one time was a building that was a dime store with it's Spanish facade. When it was closed the Barnes and Noble went into it they created a building with three floors of books and a basement for music. Escalators are at the one side of a wide opening in the floor actually four stories high. It is a neat bookstore with a large supply of art and garden books.
Gardeners would love the area as they have well tended landscaping and gardens all around the area. It is very formal styled planting that matches the Spanish style but they use common plants to create all of their borders. Begonias do well down there in close tight borders with their automatic watering systems. Japanese Maples are prevalent, and the sound of the fountains makes the whole area special. I became 85 degrees by noon and I didn't get a single close-up picture of the flowers, but we may return in another month as there was a special gallery opening at the Nelson-Adkins Art Museum that we want to see.
Notice in the above picture there is a bronze sculpture of a warthog. At one time when the McDonald's was there one could see Ronald McDonald outside done in bronze. There are sculptures in the fountains and free standing sculptures everywhere. I sound like a travel agent for this area but we do love it. I think it is far enough south from where we live that they have a climate that allows outdoor dining, a more laid back lifestyle and a lot of old buildings and history. Just above the hill from there is the town of Westport, a couple blocks away is where people bought provisions before they took off on their covered wagons to head west. Thanks for reading.....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Been to Kansas City....

Thank you all for the well wishes for my wife and me. We have been spending the past few years taking care of someone else, so for our twenty fifth we took a few days and went south to Kansas City. Returned tonight and had to turn on the air conditioning. We had a heat index of 97 degrees here today. It is going to take a few hours to bring the humidity down and the temperature donw too. Country Club Plaza, the tower above, is one of our favorite places to visit and I will tell you all about the three days of a great break. My wife got us cheap prices through hotwire.com and we stayed at the Crown Westin. Out of our range totally at a normal rate. Went to the art museum, Union Station, and the Crown Center shopping area. We had a great time and I have plenty of blog material now.
Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Danger, Will Robinson.......

When you are busy it always happens, something comes forward and demands your attention. Sunday evening I was trying to wind down from a very busy day and just have a restful evening. I went in to feed my fish and found that the 55 gallon fish tank was leaking. Now in an old house like mine I wouldn't get too concerned, but....the tank sits on an antique credenza-like piece of furniture. I cut down, removed the legs off of this buffet to make it a low long piece of furniture. It didn't ruin it's design, but ruined its value of course, I was very young then. Anyway, the tank is leaking so slowly onto the hardwood piece of furniture and would eventually hit the oak floors below. It already did enough damage from seepage that apparently it had been going on for a few days, that I will have to sand and refinish the entire top. It is hard wood so it gives me an out. If it had been softer wood I would be in trouble.
To immediately solve the problem, I went to the basement and brought up a twenty gallon tank and set it up immediately. I used about ten buckets of water from the original tank, dipping and carrying, then carried water from the kitchen sink to finish filling it. I didn't want to shock the fish with all new water and have them go belly up on me. I netted the large cichlad and four other smaller fish plus an algae eater and successfully transferred them to their new home. I had already taken out the two koi and four goldfish last week and put them outside.
I put a garden pump from a water feature into the leaky beast, and pumped through a garden hose out the dining room window the rest of the water. Right now I have just raised the tank up and put it on blocks so I can continually run a fan blowing air on the wood. I don't think I can even start to refinish it until it is totally dried out. I may have to take it out into the hot sun in another week and let it cook. I really think that I caught it soon enough to keep it from having any warp damage. So at nine at night I finished my rescue, salvage mission. I wasn't expecting so much excitement. The fish like their now home sitting next to the cockatiels but the birds aren't too happy about it. When I have refinished the buffet I will show it to you. It is a beautiful piece and am glad I will be able to save it. Thanks for reading....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

25 years......

Oh my goodness, it seems like it was just yesterday. My wife, Della, and I were married in 1984 on this day the sixteenth of June. I will not show you any after picture of today as these two photos make us look pretty good, why spoil it. We were married in Della's home Lutheran Church, that was a beautiful stone, European Gothic building. We had a traditional wedding as was done back then with a reception in the church basement.
After the wedding, we drove my 1979 Chevy Malibu to Colorado for our honeymoon. It seems things have changed so much since then. All of our parents are gone now and the boys are out of state, one married and another to be married in August. We are ready for our next phase in our lives though, as we have an empty nest and an urge to travel. Thanks for reading.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Local Wonders......

When God wishes to rejoice
the heart of a poor man,
He makes him lose his donkey and
find it again.

I just finished reading this book called Local Wonders, Seasons in the Bohemian Alps. It was written by Ted Kooser. He was born and raised in Ames, Iowa which is near here where I live now and as an adult lives in the Lincoln, Nebraska area. It was a fascinating book to read for me as I am an old farm boy from southern Iowa. I lived for four years in Sidney, Iowa near the loess hills next to the Missouri River, when I first started teachingf. I am very familiar with the area that he now lives. Loess hills are called bluffs by the local people and they run the full length of western Iowa along the Missouri River. The place where he now lives is an old farmstead in a hilly area, east of Lincoln. The area was originally settled by Cechaslovakians and the area is still filled with descendants.
I could identify with the book because of the country life style he and his wife are living, the snakes, raccoons, and coyotes. I also attended Iowa State University where he makes references of his family life as a youngster living on Kellogg street. He is near my age so his descriptions of relatives are humorous and similar to my own family stories. His Grandmother once got an electrical shock from a radio, so he describes her phobia about all electricity. The Christmas tree had to be placed on the glassed in porch and the lights were not allowed to be turned on except Christmas eve and only for an hour. He laughs at how they had to thaw out there presents from Grandma before they could enjoy them. His relationships to his dogs, snakes, insects, road workers, mailmen, townspeople and history are interesting.
I also find it interesting to hear of the ways of life of people from that Nebraskan area and how he copes with it. None of their ways are bad, they are just so traditional for living in this century. Kooser was originally a business executive and is now a poet and author. His ability to find appreciation for everything living in life and to laugh at all of those who take themselves way to seriously. His battle with cancer has made him look within and also look throughout and view life as clearly as possible, as it has passed by in the past and as it passes by now.
The honest truth, I bought the book for a dollar, I wanted to paint a picture of a truck like that on the cover, and I thought if it read well, what a bonus. It did read well. So it was a win, win situation. Thanks for putting up with my book report. ....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday at K-Mart

Went to do a little shopping at the Mall and stopped by K-Mart. I have a problem area where my saved seeds weren't so successful in germinating. I bought more zinnia seeds to fill in the blank spots. When it is all grown in I will show you my zany flower garden, before and after.

I also picked up a sedum that reminded my of my youth. We carried water for drinking to our house when I was a kid on the farm. I would be the one to do that twice a day, and one had to walk through a garden gate to get to the pump. Right below and inside where the gate stood, the previous owners of the farm had a metal animal water container planted with these sedum plants that bloomed yellow. One time only each year in the spring. To a kid, it was always magical that strangers had left something that I could continue to enjoy. Back then it was rare to go to a green house, ever, in southern Iowa so that plant was more than just a novelty, I couldn't imagine where they would have found such a plant. I bought the plant for that memory of almost fifty years ago. I now have to figure out a good spot for it to keep it alive.

Happiness is buying an umbrella for your patio set. It was greatly marked down, a little cheaply made, but light weight. I want to take it down and put it up with ease so the weight of it was important to me. Our winds are just too strong to leave it up all the time and let it flip the table over onto the concrete patio. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Granite enamel pan......

I found this stray enameled pan out at my late father-in-laws farm. It looks like it has been driven over and also has oil residue in the bottom of it from an oil change of a vehicle. I found the deep purple violas to put in it and then picked out some impatience plants to put in with it. I looked at it today and wondered what was I thinking? One plant needs sun and the other needs shade. The colors don't work well together at all. Oh well, I am leaving well enough alone and just see what happens. My little elf doesn't seemed to be too worried about it. Thanks for reading......

Friday, June 12, 2009

Geraniums, red and white....

I was at the bookstore yesterday and browsing through the different garden books and found one about planting in shade. Before I go any further, I wanted to issue a correction. I had heard the British guy on Victory Garden say that you could separate hostas any time of the year. I wrote that in one of my blogs. Now I have read in this garden book that only early spring, once they were up, and late fall was the best time to transplant. I hope I didn't give anyone an idea that would cause them problems. I do think when we are having rainy season so late this far in the summer that I will go ahead and separate one that is crowding out my red peony. My neighbor needs a few more filler plants and I will find somewhere to put some. The book was encouraging new gardeners not to think their hostas were dead as they do come up later that most foliage plants. I will probably go back and buy that book but wasn't in the mood at the time. A Larry somebody had written it and there was a lot of good information in it, then I can give you the author and the whole title. Planting in the Shade sounds familiar.

Also I was able to review some information that I thought I knew but wasn't positive about it. Garden Design ran an article at one time about a person who collected geraniums. But they were nothing like what I thought they should be. Once I figured out that they were actually called Hardy Geraniums, I went out and bought one. Sadly the white one is not that showy, as I have since seen some very colorful ones that are out there. The positive thing about them is that I have transplanted it many times and it is very hearty. I never lost a one and the Iowa winters don't effect them at all.

The other variety that Iowans flock to stores to buy is the Garden Geranium. I don't have much success with them in Iowa as the heat means you have to baby them a lot. If they get too dried out the blooms fail right away and then your are waiting for the next blooms which takes a long time. I have a planter full of these geraniums though that I will share pictures of later on when they are fully blooming. It was a project that my father-in-law had going on all winter. I took it outside after he passed away and it is regrouping and ready to start blooming again. I am keeping it in the shade somewhat out of the heat and will watch it with a watering can forever.
I have done a lot of weeding the last two days and now we are ready for more rain coming from Nebraska. It should be here in about an hour. More water, more weeds and more grass which keeps me busy. Thanks for reading.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dogs a waiting......

When I am working in the backyard it is mandatory to have the dogs out there with me. They don't like the mower noise but I was running the weedeater and that doesn't bother them. Barabus, Barney, is always first in line to get in the door. No one can move fast enough for him but he tolerates our slowness. He is a very kindhearted dog and actually patient even when he doesn't want to be. We bought him from a rescue organization when he was seven months old and he was young, thin, and scared of everything. He still has a lot of fears.
Button is our ten year old poodle. He just had a new clip with scissors and he is looking very sporty. Button is our baby and could tolerate being held, carried or on our laps twenty four hours a day.
The two of them are like Mutt and Jeff but do love each other. They are a team at keeping the cats away from the yard and any squirrels or birds that might wander in to the yard. The yard is fenced in so it is nice to let them just wander and be free.
In the photo you also get a good shot of my grass laden tennis shoes. I can't wear them into any house after the weed eater has splattered on them.
I got a lot of things done outside today, cutting down a dead cherry tree, mowing the orchard area, trimming the entire back yard. I am kind of stiff and sore tonight but it is good to get the work done.
Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Milk strainer.......

I worked in this area today planting iris from other parts of the garden and pulling weeds. The circular item is an old milk strainer. It is so rusted out and can't be restored so don't worry I am not recking an antique. My dad had one or two cows that he milked while I was growing up on the farm. There were four boys in the house to feed so it was cheap milk. Dad hated to milk when he had worked all day in the field or whatever and then had to stop and go milk the cows. Our neighbors had many cows so they had a mechanical separator that would separate the cream from the milk. As it would spin it would have different spouts that the different parts of the milk would pour out of into containers. On the top of the device was the strainer, that had a filter placed in it each time to take out any foreign items. Sometime the cows tail would switch flys into it or loose hay leaves or the farmer could get debris dropped into the pail. With the strainer, that was the initial cleaning stage before the rest of the processes happened.
My mom just had a separator like the one in the garden and after the milk was strained she would put the milk in large gallon jars and put it into the International Harvestor refrigerator. As the milk cooled the cream would separate itself and form at the top of the jars. We would do two different things before drinking it. We would pour off the cream as best that we could then stir the milk to redistribute the cream left over into the milk before drinking. If we wanted rich milk to drink we just automatically stirred all the cream back into the milk and poured glasses for us to drink. The cream was heavenly on pie or warm chocolate pudding. I took for granted that it was good on cereal as I guess I never noticed the rich creamy milk. Eventually my dad just quit milking. As the two oldest boys were out of the house, my mom just started to by milk at the store. Of course at that time there was only straight milk to buy and none of this one or two percent stuff.
Anyway back to the garden part, the weather has been too cool and too wet to allow the marigolds and snapdragons to take off and grow. The flower bed sits on top of an old stump area of a very old silver maple tree that had been cut down four or five years ago. Thanks for reading. . . .