"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, 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


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......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.