"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Monday, July 25, 2016

Enlighten Me


I need my avid readers to enlighten me - "masterpiece" I read in the reviews.  I must have been sleep reading (or just a big dummy), but I am not going to re-read this book to try and find the masterpiece inside.  If you have read it, please talk to me and tell me about it.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Toot Toot


This is for the two or so guys that read my blog.  I know, from having a son, you like things that go vroom or putt putt along, all those endearing little sounds boys make.

I pass this little vehicle, or whatever it is, on the way to town when I'm at the farm.  It is just the oddest thing.  It reminds me of the cardboard boxes I used to climb into and turn into cars.  The days and life much simpler then.  I have never seen one driving on the road.

My friend Monique, recently went to Paris and reminded me of scenes we witnessed too while in Paris.  These smallish cars (I drive a pick-up truck) would pull up to the curbs to parallel park and would literally bump into the cars in front and in back until they wedged into a parking place.  I and my friends simply stood with our mouths gaped open; couldn't believe what we were witnessing.
If someone did that in America, they'd face stiff fines and a ticket and big insurance bills.  That is if you are lucky and don't make someone mad enough to elicit road rage.

This little vehicle is old.  The top was peeling and tattered.  I didn't want to tarry too long and couldn't get a front shot or risk being run over by traffic.  

Sorry ladies.  If only there were some pretty wildflowers growing alongside.  I'm off to can bread and butter pickles; the last thing I am canning this year.  



Is anyone having trouble with blogger?  Mine is acting up and I fully expect my blog to go poof.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summertime Slugs


This time of year, in the state where I live, it's miserable outside.  Here I am.  Just kidding.  Buzzy is feeling it too. 100 degrees in the shade turns me into a wet noodle.  Drains all strength.  I guess that is why they take siestas in Mexico.  If you don't get out when the sun comes up, you'll have to wait until midnight to do anything outside, then fight the mosquitos.  

Of one thing I am sure.  Henry James didn't come from Oklahoma.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wild Week In The City


Hot days, but bearable on the porch.  The mother Mallard and her nine ducklings came strolling by, didn't care I was sitting on the porch after pulling weeds.  They waddled by me and hopped in the goldfish pond, diving and drinking and enjoying the water.  They have stopped up my new filter/pump, but that's another story.



They won't all fit in the pond soon.


I went to get more cracked corn as they strolled to the feeder.


The night before, a strong storm came through and knocked out the electricity for two hours.  The heat is what woke me.  Everything got a good watering though and it was nice on the porch.  Until another storm came through before noon.


You can just see it begin to rain on the lake.  Before too long, tornado sirens were going off, the wind was blowing 90 mph, rain coming in circles and sideways; I have never seen a more severe thunderstorm.  It was like a hurricane.  Tree limbs were coming down and I feared our roof was going to blow off.  The house was popping and cracking.  Lightning and thunder like I've never seen.


Unfortunately, I could not capture the degree to which it stormed.  You can see one of the neighbor's branches down and some in the water.  We had branches down in our yard, but a twenty foot long tree fell across the lake from us and floated in front of their dock.  That is, until it was swept over to our side.  I wanted to signal the neighbors to come get their tree, but didn't.  They also lost another large part of the tree in their yard.

More than a hundred thousand homes were without power for days (not us thank God as I couldn't bear that heat.) Trees are down across the southern part of the city.  Every house has some down.  Roofs were damaged and blown off, brick walls came down, fences down and a house nearby burned to the ground from lightning in minutes.  Even though the rain was drenching, the wind stoked the fire and it was consumed before the fire department arrived.  Within thirty minutes, the storm had passed.  All week, chainsaws have been cutting up trees.  Everyone with pickup trucks can haul their trees to a local pasture.  I don't know what those without a truck are going to do.  I've looked at the roof and no damage, so thankfully, we were let off lightly.  We still have a few limbs high up in the elm tree that are hanging, but I don't think there is any way to pull them down.

And, no I didn't hide in a closet, but I did stay inside.  It was pretty scary.  My little wind chime glass balls were whipping about.  One broke.  I was sorely tempted to run outside and tether it down, but was afraid I'd be struck by lightning over a twenty dollar wind chime.  



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fleur de Lis


They're everywhere!  I have planted Stella d'Oro day lilies and have a few orange ones, but I've never planted any others.  My mistake.  These orange speckled ones are some of the last of the lilies to bloom and I have been waiting and waiting to see what they were going to look like.  First of all, all blooms hang downwards, unlike all the others, and the stalks are 5 feet tall.  Then they opened.


The blooms all hang downwards like Chinese lanterns.  They are gorgeous.


And did I mention they are all huge flowers.


One of my very favorites.


They are really unbelievable.


This one had white speckles.



Isn't this one a beauty.



These are large also.


What can you say but gorgeous...


Sigh.


Okay, I lean toward pastels, but pretty just the same.


These are whoppers and I do love the deep salmon color.  And, all the lilies are planted in multiples the reason I say they are everywhere.


Finally, does any one know what those tall purple flower spires in the background are?  They look like phlox on a stem about 5 feet tall.  They are also everywhere in the garden and I just love them.  As I said in a previous post, the only thing I can squeeze in are seeds.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Well Hmm


  Who is included in this cookbook with more than 350 fellow cooks/gardeners from all fifty states?

Well, take a guess.  Alice Waters perhaps?  You'd be right. Maybe Thomas Keller too.  And moi?  My fifteen seconds of fame (I wish it had been a little more exciting than this, but then I'd be greedy, so never mind.) I did see it in the cookbook section of Barnes and Noble so that was a little kick.

A percentage of the sales of this cookbook went to benefit Second Harvest, the largest charitable organization against hunger in the U.S.

They selected my dill pickles.  I've written the recipe in a post before and these are the best you've ever tasted.  Funny thing was, when I got my copy of the book, the recipe was unrecognizable (is that literary license?).  And, they used my business name, Wild Child Designs, from my business card which had nothing to do with my pickles, for the title of the pickles.  A catchier recipe name perhaps?  Would they have been selected for inclusion if I called them Dull Pickles?  I guess they can do whatever they want in publishing.  Hmmm....


The amounts of ingredients were altered and instead of alum, they substituted grape leaves.  I've never done that.  I do grow the peppers, cukes, dill and garlic, but I have no idea how these pickles would turn out since the recipe is so different. Anyway.

My husband brought gallons of pickling cucumbers up to the city house on the fourth.  Problem is, all my jars, spices and canning equipment are at the farm plus I've been babysitting an 18 month old angel for the last couple of days.  Guess I'll be giving this bunch away.

So, come on now.  Tell me about your 15 seconds/minutes or days of fame.




Monday, June 27, 2016

My Gracie Girl


My beautiful girl Gracie.  It has been a bittersweet weekend.  I've been trying for a couple of years or more, to find a forever home for her and Brownie, though I had no hopes that anyone would take Brownie because of Brownie's advanced age.

Gracie showed up at the back fence as a yearling.  Dark gray and dappled with a dark mane and tail, she was a sweetheart and came regularly to see me.  The neighbors that owned her are the worst -  all I will say about them.  They neither fed nor cared for her.  So, I started feeding her over the fence
and fell in love with her.

Brownie showed up a few years later.  Her owner from down the road didn't want her and she had been on her own for years, wandering.  I had to start feeding her too as she was the alpha, and would eat Gracie's food.  So, now I was caring for two horses.

The neighbors were divorcing and asked if I wanted to buy Gracie.  We fenced in five acres, built a stall and tack room and brought Gracie to live here at the farm.  She and Brownie would call to each other and were inconsolable.  Brownie is skittish and I had no way of bringing her here except for cutting the neighbor's fence.  But, I did still feed Brownie.  

Brownie did finally find her way over and we put her in with Gracie.  They've been together several years.  Gracie is now eight and Brownie about thirty.  

With my husband's health problems and my joint replacement and other issues, it has become so difficult for us to haul hay (at $16.00 a small bale) and feed bags (at $12.00 a forty pound bag) for protein pellets and bags of oats.  I won't mention they love graham crackers, apples, peanut butter and carrots.  I've spoiled them rotten.

Three forever homes fell through for Gracie.  I was not going to let just anyone have her as they often end up on a truck bound for Mexico to be slaughtered and sold for meat.  Don't get me started.

Well, I found a forever home this weekend.  Gracie is huge, white with dark skin and they figured she must have some draft horse in her as she is so large.  They said they'd ride her and if she wouldn't, then she could just graze the pasture. That is what I wanted for her.  Nothing expected from her; just to live a peaceful life; no one abusing her or neglecting her.  And, they asked if they could take Brownie too.  There are angels still among us. They are only about a half mile away as the crow flies.  

The farm is quiet now.  No more fowl or horses.  It is as if the farm has a golden transparency over it.  Makes me sad to know the end of farm life is nigh, sort of like the many dilapidated farm buildings and barns I see around here.

I went out late last night to look at the stars, as I do every night when I let the weenies out one last time. I was surrounded in total silence.  
I cupped my hands and as loud as I could, I called Gracie Girl.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Citrus


Most of you know I have a large citrus collection - my pride and joy.  I've kind of become a citrus hoarder as the greenhouse in winter is overflowing, to say the least.

I returned from quite a long stay at the city house, and what did I find?  Several dead trees and the ground covered in citrus flower petals at the base of every pot.  There was to be a banner crop this fall. They had not been watered and in high summer temperatures, it is an every other day task.

This is my Australian Finger Lime tree.  It has never produced (in 3 years) and this year it was covered in little purple flowers.



So, there were no more flowers and the leaves were curled and drying up, but look what I discovered this morning.  My first crop of baby finger limes.


This is what the finger lime looks like when ripe.  It is full of large vesicles filled with lime juice.  They can be used on salads and I don't know what yet.  I'll have to look for recipes.  I can't wait to taste them.




Friday, June 24, 2016

Oh My Aching Feet


I would love to show you more of my flowers, but decided to throw you a curve instead.  Kind of like Brexit??? Don't get me wrong.  I don't know if the leaving is good or bad, but the stock market right now is making me think it wasn't such a good thing, but what do I know. Anyway...

If you are old enough, you will remember going to the shoe store (where we used to have to buy shoes) and climbing up the steps on this machine to get a possibly lethal dose of - RADIATION?

These shoe fitting fluoroscope machines were actually built in the early 1900's, but they became commonplace after the war in the forties.  Every shoe store had one.  It was fun to see the X-rays of your foot bones and the more times you did it the more radiation you received.  So, if you were a little brat like me, you kept climbing up on it.

It became known that people were being given extreme radiation exposure; the doses had large variations between the machines.  Bone cancers and genetic effects were being logged and by 1953, the US FDA banned them, but some were still in use as late as 1970.

A college physics professor of mine told me if I had used one, I should be monitored for cancer.

I saw a restoration show in 2012 and they tested one of these machines for radiation before they started to tear it down.  The meter reading was off the charts.

Just thought you might like to know this little factoid.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Home


I've been thinking of others' posts about being away from home, whether from illness, vacation or necessity.

I am a homebody.  Even at the new house, it has become my home and I find such peace here; don't go many places unless shopping and such.

Though I love the thought of traveling and watch many travel shows (and I am fascinated with Mt. Everest and why anyone would want to climb it), but when I do travel, I usually find myself counting the days and longing for home.  I posted this prose before and thought about it this morning.  I think I heard it on Call The Midwife.

"Home is not simply a mark upon a map any more than a river is just water.

It is a place at the center of a compass from which every arrow radiates and where the heart is fixed.

It is a force that forever draws us back; shores us up.

For where the home is, there lies hope, and the future waits

and everything is possible."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summertime


"Summertime......and the livin' is easy" - unless you live where I live.  It is blisteringly hot this week.  We were spoiled by a late, cool and wet spring and we are now paying the price.  I think yesterday, we were the hottest in the nation according to the heat index and with the humidity, it is steaming.  The news was showing eggs frying on the street.  I can function outdoors when the temperatures are in the 80's, but not in the high 90's.

It will be a two shower day and right now, I am fiddling around thinking of things I need to do indoors.  I planted this morning and fed the waterfowl which left me dripping in sweat and dirty.  So, I'm clean and drinking a glass of Bigelow's raspberry, hibiscus and rose tea.  Won't be able to drink hot drinks until fall.

I don't even want to go back to the plant store and/or get out to run errands.  How did they live before air conditioning?  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Smokebush Tree


I was driving in the city the other day and saw this smokebush tree.  I have never seen this color before.  It is called Royal Purple.  

It is lovely and I'd love to have one, but alas, no room.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Haiku Duck


This is what I woke to at the city house last week.  They were all splashing and diving in my little goldfish pond.  I loved the moment.  In the next, the weenies barked and the mother flew over the edge and onto the lower lawn, quacking loudly to her brood to follow her. It is an eight foot drop and I thought, oh no, there wasn't any way, but all nine babies hopped onto the rocks and leapt over the edge in free fall.

If you remember, her eggs were snatched by something in the spirea bush.  Another mother lost her entire brood in one day.  Like the travails of Jemima Puddle-Duck, nature and farm life can be cruel sometimes, a fact Beatrix Potter herself observed.  This mallard mother is a good one and seems to be caring for them.  She brings them back many times a day.  So, I've named her Haiku.  Why? I don't know.

I don't really understand haiku poetry, but do appreciate the ability to be succinct; say what needs to be said in as few words as possible.  

Here are a couple of haikus for you.

In the sharing 
of simple pleasures
we become closer still.


Sitting by the lake
watching the ducks swim about
comfort in nature.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lily, Lily, Rose



A favorite plein air painting by John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.  He painted this at the same time every evening over a two year period. The carnations have come and gone, but right now, lilies reign supreme at the city house.

I am impressed that the former owner planted perennials in succession so the blooms just keep coming.  I am filling in with annuals then need to mulch.  The only lily I can identify is the calla lily.  Can't wait to see what the others that haven't opened look like.









Okay, here is a rose.  She planted the same kind around the house.  I think they might be Drift roses or something like that.  I've already deadheaded them once.  Not a sign of blackspot.  At the farm, I've tried every rose and they all get blackspot, whether I spray or not.


Don't have a clue what this large plant is.  At first I thought it ghastly, but it is growing on me.  I hate to admit it, but I do not like large blooms, as on poinsettia plants, Bird of Paradise, glads, hibiscus... But, 
I do love moon flowers, roses and hydrangeas, so never mind.  

I read a funny story once about Truman Capote opening his apartment door to an armload of poinsettia plants.  He shut the door and said that he didn't even want to know who would send a plant like that.  Since they are for sale around my birthday, I get loads of them.  Some even sprayed with glitter.  I've finally gotten family to stop buying them for me.


This is what I shall be doing today.  Braiding onions and pickling the ones that don't have a stem.  Happy day to all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Weed Or Not


I listened to many of you and abstained from pulling up plants I did not know about.  It is hard when they are small and not identifiable. This beauty is a moon flower and has a lovely scent, but even better, it blooms throughout the summer and early fall.  Nearly the size of a plate, the large plant is covered in these flowers that only open at night.  I took this shot on a cloudy, early morn.  It is also called Angel's Trumpet.


I don't know what this shrub is, but there are several in the gardens and it is very pretty.


This little garden is off the patio next  to my bedroom on the upper level of the back yard.  There is about an 8 foot drop down to the lower level of yard and gardens that slopes down to the lake.  I have to be careful not to roll down the slope.


Remember those teeny goslings a couple of months ago?


What big babies they have become.  Nearly as large as their parents though they still have downy patches. Eat like little goats.  Quite friendly and unafraid, though I'd prefer they stay in the lake and not on my lawn.


These small doves come to eat seed on my windowsills and are very friendly.  All the wildlife seem to be used to humans, unlike their country counterparts. Many kinds of birds.


And here are my new pretties.  The garden center said they were chimes.  What?  Glass balls?  I only bought one, but had to go back the next day for two more.  Rule of threes?  Odd numbers more pleasing or the symmetry?  Can't remember.




Off the subject, but since I always tell you I never learn, well, I passed on this large zeppelin though it pained me to do so.  It is only the second one I have ever seen and I have always wanted one.  They would only come down 10% and I choked at the price.  So, maybe I shouldn't pat myself on the back.  I would have bought it for the right price.  Sigh.