Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Midway through the 2015 holiday season

Santa had an especially stressful Christmas this year.  All the rain, lack of snow and, of course, more children than ever kept the poor old guy working nonstop for months.   The first of January, he decided to take a little relaxing vacation fishing alone in the wilderness.  I happened to catch these photos of him as he canoed down the creek trailing his fishing lure.  

I love winter mornings in my kitchen,  sipping tea, eating a muffin and watching the birds at the feeders.  We have several inches of sleet on the ground so the birds are desperate to find food.  The peanut feeders attract some of my favorite varieties.  I have these feeders up close to the windows so I can see them clearly.

Woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, blue jays and others are constant visitors to the suet feeders.  The same birds that like peanuts like suet.    

This is by far the best bird watching investment I've ever made.  I don't plug a lot of items, but this Brome 1024 feeder has gone far above and beyond all my expectations.  I bought this feeder about 10 years ago and it has spent every day of those 10 years outside, summer and winter.  It has a lifetime warranty but I've never had to replace a broken or damaged part.  The feeder has been squirrel proof mounted on my post with a baffle.  It has never broken or cracked altho it has blown down several times in very strong winds.    A three quart fill up lasts all day.  I was tired of replacing feeders that fell apart in one season or less.  This feeder has solved that problem at less than $10 a year.  It is the only feeder I've tried that attracts cardinals as well as finches, woodpeckers and occasionally the blue jays.  Severson Dells a local conservation site, has these feeders in use year round.

The days after Christmas are always a bit of a let down for me.  I'm taking down the Santas, the wreaths, the garlands and little trees that I put up with such love and care a few weeks ago.  Wishing you all a happy New Year and hoping you stay cheerful through the dark cold days of January.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

By chance the sun peeks out beyond the clouds. But the low temperatures have numbed my brain. Losing what wit I have to deal with crowds. My best excuse will be that there is rain. ~ Audrey Christophersen

The howling winds, the biting chill
Of wintry nights reign vales and hills 
All songs are ceased, trees in tears 
Gone are all autumnal hues and mere 
Some wounded leaves scream under-feet 
As I tread and thump on a dreary street
Rayless moon peers at the bleak world 
Specter shadows of bare boughs on bare earth 
Stand palsied blades of grass and some roses shrunk 
Grey sunrise, days in blanket of haze cold and stern 
Memories of summer, spring's visions 
For bright morns we all wish and yearn
Solstice sun beam in Newgrange ancient dark 
In somber cavern hope shines with a bright spark 

~  Yasmeen Kahn

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

 Spent time with family members I don't see nearly often enough.  We celebrated at my sister's house so I avoided some of the cleaning and decorating.   


This year my Christmas cactus has switched holidays.  It’s blooming over  Thanksgiving.  

Matilda enjoys sharing the sunny window with my plants. This is the one year anniversary of her arrival at my house.  She is doing well and finally gaining some weight.

My sister's family dogs Maggie and Ludie waited politely while we ate our holiday dinner.

One of my favorites for left over turkey or chicken:

Mom’s Turkey a la King     

1 ½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen carrots thawed
1 cup frozen peas thawed
½ cup chopped red or yellow pepper
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning or both
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fat free cream or milk
2 cups cooked turkey cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook vegetables, set aside
Melt butter, add flour
Add seasoning and all liquids
Cook until bubbly – cool 2 minutes
Stir in veggies and turkey
Add salt and pepper
Heat thoroughly

Serve over Pepperidge Farms puff pastry shells, biscuits, rice or noodles.

If desired, add additional chicken broth to thin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. James Lowell

Since my last post we have had our first snowfall of the year.  From green grass, blooming flowers and fifty degree temps to 10 inches of  blowing show and 14 degrees.  It's dark at 5:30 in the afternoon and dawn is just spreading its morning light at 6:30.  

Snow wars.  

The dogs love the snow.  Cold doesn't phase them.  

I wasn't prepared and all my bird houses were still outside.

The garden is covered in a heavy, white blanket.

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Went to a movie couple  Saturdays ago.  It was the first movie I've seen this year that I really liked.  De Niro is great.   Just a happy movie with none of the usual misery that passes for relationships, no shootings, explosions, murders...  Go if you get a chance.

More photos from earlier when the garden was at it's peak.  Better late than forgotten.

Pretty in pink.

New clematis already blooming.

Pretty Leaves

Somebody's on my roof.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ― Aldo Leopold

Beginning the fall corn harvest.

Fall is my favorite season.  This wasn't the best year for fall color.  It was so dry, many of the leaves went from green to gone. Still I love:  Crisp, cool weather; Gold and red leaves; My favorite sweaters; Hot chocolate in the morning; Apple cider donuts; Bugs are gone; Long walks down country lanes.  

Maple leaves turn black in the courtyard.
Light drives lower and one bluejay crams
our cold memories out past the sun,
 By Annie Finch

 Every day the Jays show up shouting for their peanuts.

Queen Ann's lace and chicory on a bright fall morning. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Every twig, every branch, every blade of grass Every surface that one can see Has been adorned as though from high above As though diamonds are now given for free.

Poem by Wisconsin poet Christine Kysely

Hard freeze last night.  Sad to see the flowers die  back for the season.  I won't complain.  Some people have 5" of snow and other people have waist  high mud flowing through their homes and burying their cars.

I went out before the freeze and gathered armloads of blooms and shoved them into vases.  A couple more days of summer indoors.

This is a shot of the last day of the 2015 garden,

Good old iris Immortality looked fantastic this fall.

I still have lots of garden pictures that weren't published.  I think I'll just continue to show them through the fall.  Nice to revisit the garden in the cold months.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

How sociable the garden was. We ate and talked in given light. The children put their toys to grass. All the warm wakeful August night. - Thomas Gunn

The garden is winding down.  Another week or two and we will see a killing frost.  I love the cool, dry air of autumn.  I will miss the fresh tomatoes and sweet corn but I'm not sad about the end of the season for flower gardening.  I'm ready for a change. 

Below are a few shots of favorite plants that bloomed in the late summer.

These are my first Magic Lilies.  There are so many affectionate names for this plant.  Surprise, Magic, Resurrection, and I'm sure others as well...   I found these at the Klehm plant swap this spring.  They were a mass of broken, limp foliage that did not look too promising.  Anyway, I caged the foliage to keep it up off the ground and it remained greenish for several weeks before it disappeared.  I had forgotten them completely when suddenly like magic they reappeared.  

What dreadful hot weather we have! 
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.
-  Jane Austen  

Phlox is a favorite

The new varieties of phlox  are healthy and long blooming.  I love the impact those big, bright clusters make in my garden.

Tempest is on chipmunk patrol.  I wish he would catch a few.  My yard is like Swiss cheese.