Friday, July 30, 2010

Urban Transplant: My Confused Relationship with Nature & Wildlife

I'll just confess this right off. I'm an urban transplant, and I have a confused (perhaps disturbed?) relationship with nature and wildlife. I grew up in the Chicago area and well knew bricks and billboards, rats and railroad tracks, alleys and used car lots. That was the extent of my wilderness adventures, nature, and wildlife.

But I live in a fairly rural area of the country now, with 9.3 people per square mile. (I have yet to see any of those .3 people!) When I grew up, there were 9 of us humans in a 2 bedroom flat! That means that here, there are plenty of opportunities for critters and nature to make there presence known, and mostly, they're baffling to me. You've heard of some of them: there were the bird events that happened around my house, and now the pumpkins planted by squirrels invading our stairs--(Remind me to talk to the paper carrier about an alternate route to my front door--like maybe a parachute drop!)

And I've mentioned in the past how this plant:

came to live in my office from another office, creeping in through the wall along the ceiling, and stretching across my ceiling, then dying in the neighboring office! I plopped its end-parts into a pot, and it's been living happily in my office ever since.

Now it's doing this:

It's going to bloom! I've only seen it bloom once before in the past 20 years! And once it blooms, it has these large allium-like blossom with the most dazzling fragrance that permeates the whole office. But again, there's that troubled relationship: I have to watch the blossoms like a hawk. . . It may bloom for months and months, but each blossom has it's own "expiration" date, and suddenly drops from the ceiling, usually on some startled Unsuspecting's head. And the blossoms themselves break apart into hundreds of little pieces, all with this sticky, gooey, "I-want-to-glue-myself-to-your-soil_and-Propagate!" substance.

I'll keep my camera handy, to show you the progress of the Invaders across my front steps, and the Invaders across my ceiling!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Gift of the Flat Tire

I want to thank all of you who took the time the other day to post such caring, compassionate, responses to Bonnie's death. It helped Doug and me very much to know that Bonnie had so many fans! Your thoughts, words, and prayers were very much appreciated, and it just warms my heart to realize how many good, compassionate, people there are.

Bonnie's last day was a good day; I pestered her a bit to wake her up around 1:00pm. I knew her sleep wasn't particularly peaceful anyway; she seemed to be twitching in pain a great deal. She hadn't eaten much of her breakfast, but I wanted her to have a chance to eat the roast beef I had for her. I warmed it up, and the aroma got her quite interested! She came trotting into the kitchen, and I gave her the roast beef, mixed with her favorite dog treats!

I was about to eat my own lunch, but couldn't. The rain had mostly let up, and I thought, why not? I took her for a walk in the drizzle. It's been a long time since she got to go on a long walk, mainly because I was afraid I'd have to carry her back! And for about 40 minutes, she was totally blissed out! I let her lead the way, (sorry, neighbors), and tagged along under bushes, across lawns, around dumpsters, up to any tree she wanted (and there were so many!)

On a "regular" day, I would know that she would suffer for this walk later; it was not going to be so today. . .

When it rained much harder, I took her back home, where Doug met me, and he had a chance to feed her whatever treats, sausage, or cheese she wanted. Finally, it was time. . .

We went out to my car with her, and it had a flat tire! It's strange how your mind will work. . . my first thought was, "Well, then Bonnie doesn't have to go!", but I knew that wasn't true, and would not be fair to her, given what her life was now like.

We took our other car, and for Bonnie, I do think the process was so fast, that she was not distressed.

And Doug and I were unbelievably grateful for the flat tire! As Doug and I drove home, we knew we could stop crying because we'd have to deal with the flat tire! Normally, we would have called Road Side assistance through our auto insurance (if you don't have this, stop reading now and check with your insurance company! For about $8 a year, most auto insurance policies will provide tire repair, jump starting, emergency lock-out and towing. It's so worth it!)

But we wanted to change the tire! It was so wonderful to have to dig out the manual, have to figure out how to get the jack out of the back, how to raise the car, and how to get the bolts off. These are things that I used to do, way too many times, in my younger years, with my old junkers. Now, in my "mature" years, with my old junker, I call Roadside Assistance, and forgot how.

We brought the tire to Firestone, got the nail removed and put the tire back on our car. It gloriously took up two hours, all together, and it was so welcome, such a fine, concrete, task to preoccupy us! I strongly recommend a flat tire (preferably NOT in winter) for anyone under similar circumstances (but I don't want another one tomorrow).

And because I don't have a photo of the flat tire, here's a photo from the garden tour:

. . . or three.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eulogy for the Best Dog Ever

Turn back, Time, for this brown shadow
Give her one more lap around the yard
One more chance to escape out the front door
One more chance to drool a fur soaked ball into my purse
One more paw placed on a lap for comfort and one more look
from soul-full, ocean-deep eyes.

Goodbye, little friend,

The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie
November 1994 - July 27, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Could Almost Forget There's Ever a Winter!

In "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," C.S. Lewis uses the phrase,". . . always winter, never Christmas. . . " How sad that would be! And how sad if "always winter."

In July in Grand Forks, I could almost forget that winter exists!

I sure wouldn't mind if this were MY garden!

They say that parts of the world that actually have winter have won a biological lottery of sorts; countries without winter have a much great struggle with disease, water supplies, agriculture. . .

But, oh! The glories of summer!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rocks & Weeds on the Garden Tour

Sometimes the things you seen on a garden tour aren't exactly the gardens themselves.

Sometimes, there're cool weeds. . .

. . . and nice rocks. . .

. . . a bridge and a river. . . .

. . . .but of course, there are the flowers. . .

. . . and very pretty gardens:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Squirrels' Revenge: It's not Zucchini!

You may have noticed that we seem to have this love/hate relationship with the critters around our house. Remember last year the Cedar Waxwing attack? Followed by the dead squirrel in our driveway, followed by a never-before-seen(nor since) duck patrolling our driveway.

And then, there's the recent infestation of FLEAS, thanks to the rabbits in our yard. (Poor old Bonnie.)

And Doug has been thinking long and hard about shooting things with that pellet gun. Long and hard.

Well, we thought we had a renegade zucchini plant invading our flowers along our driveway. Or maybe it's a plant I couldn't remember planting. But Doug thought some more. . .

. . . while looking out at the farm, from a garden, on the Grand Forks Garden Tour. . .

. . . and then, he figured out what this was!

He figured out that this, creeping up our steps, is NOT a renegade zucchini plant, but a pumpkin patch! And he remembered the squirrel that last year tore apart our Halloween pumpkin at the top of our steps. . . . and planted a crop of pumpkins!

Well, let's see what happens next!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Double Rainbow Guy Should See This Garden Action!

Remember Double Rainbow Guy? Just think of his ecstasy if he saw this!

I think this next photo could use just a little vignette added. What do you think?

And then I thought I'd play with a Rustic EZ Action on this one:

And Jess' Hazy Days one on this:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Garden Treasures

Thank you, everyone, for the kind words about Bonnie yesterday. She's more comfortable today, every once in awhile shows a little burst of energy, but is sleeping much better. I can tell many of you have also had wonderful dogs gracing your lives and in your hearts. I've had to check out a few videos today to find "tricks" to get your dog to take their pills, though!

Here's a few more flowers from the garden tour (best viewed with Safari or Firefox. Come on, Google Chrome; get with the color management!):

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Glorious Gardens and a Sick Bonnie

First things first: We've long known that The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie, at 15 3/4 years (96 according to the vet) is not likely going to live much longer. We take each day as "extra," as icing on the cake.

But it was still hard, Thursday, to take her to the vet with what we thought was a little toe nail problem and be told that she probably has foot cancer. In one of these photos you can see that her foot is quite bandaged and it's very hard for her to get around now. But oh! How she tries to follow us!

We're giving her a pain killer, watching her carefully, because if she's not comfortable and in quite a bit of pain, then we will say our final goodbyes to her. I don't know what she knows; I don't think she has an understanding as to why she's hurting. But she also doesn't have to "stare into the sun," as Yalom would put it, knowing that her death is imminent. She probably also doesn't quite know why we're letting her eat anything she wants to right now. Usually, we're quite careful, because long ago, we learned that her allergy to human foods meant much itching and scratching, but these days, treats are plentiful, and we're happy to give them to her!

Life. And it has such wonderful joys as well. Here's a few more photos from the glorious Grand Forks garden tour. How can there be this color in the same lands that has stark, soul-wrenching ice and snow?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Magical Garden Tour

Doug, Ute,my sweet and wonderful Nikon Buddy,and I all took a magical garden tour today. Any garden tour is magical, but we floated around in a giant soap bubble, gazing at all the beautiful gardens:

Grand Forks is special! (Please, no fact-checkers.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can You Understand Why I am MORTIFIED by the Double Rainbow Guy?

Imagine how embarrassing it might be to play this video in your office, thinking you have the volume turned way, way, down. . . but NO-O-O-O, apparently the secretary in practically ALGERIA can hear it!

And on an equally blissful note, here's a few photos from a wedding this past weekend. My daughter, Dianna, and her good friend, Jess, were there:

Yum! What a great idea! Custom M&Ms for the wedding! I want a reason to create some custom M&Ms!!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie would like to Address her Fans

The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie would like her fans to know about a book Angela just finished reading: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson,
"At first, I didn't think Angela was going to like this book. It looked like it might be a tad laborious and slow-moving, but fortunately, she seemed to 'take' to the book fairly quickly, which helped put a damper on all her wander-lust, antsy, I-want-to-run-away-to-Mt.-Rushmore-itis. *sigh* The power of a good book. . . .

The book is about Major Pettigrew, a 68 year old stiff-upper-lip, very proper Englishman, living in Edgcumbe, St. Mary. His circle of acquaintances consists primarily of other members of his social class, who believe themselves to be the Upholders of Propriety, but are mostly petty, crass and mean-spirited. His world view is called into question when he meets and falls in love with Mrs. Ali, a Pakistani woman and shopkeeper. Predictably, his investment in upholding "standards" starts to crumble, and he has to confront his own flaws, and views about what makes life good and valuable in his particular world.

(Me and one of my Fans)

His changes in perspective are challenged by his rather self-interested son, who sees his own hopes for a fatherly demise and a convenient inheritance being threatened by the Major's new love. Roger is not a bad son; he's just overwhelmingly self-absorbed until he has his own awakenings.

Being good at my dog-dom, I watched Angela carefully as she read this book. She laughed--not that great gusto, good dog kind of laugh, but those subtle satisfied-amused kind of laughs that humans have. She liked the language. She liked understated things like "Already there was an awkward intimacy, as if he had stumbled against her body in a crowd." . . . and then the English guy getting all hot and bothered and tongue-tied and distressed. And then, "He searched for the right word, recoiling from 'intimacy' as if it were sticky with lust." Yeah. Lots of action there! Give me a rabbit to chase! Dog courtship is most definitely more straightforward, but you probably don't want to hear about it!. But Angela likes this stuff, so I indulge her. . . .

Or this, "It is a fact of life, I suppose, that the younger generation must try to take over and run the lives of their elders."

Or this: "Part of a larger crisis in the culture, of course. My mother always blamed it on decimalization."

Or this, a real thigh-slapper: "But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?" "My dear boy," said the Major, "Is there really any other kind?"

???? People! Imagine MY social status in my neighborhood if I tried to court my doggy friends this way!

But I love my people, and if you're anything like them you MIGHT like this book! Angela did!"

Ms. Bonnie