Thursday, June 25, 2009

Critters and Our Stories About Them

We have had some new visitors this year. We put out a squirrel feeder in the fall in the back yard on our fence post. There were never any "patrons" and we never actually saw any squirrels back there. Sometimes we would see a chipmunk, but not often. So, after I potted up all my container gardens, I kept noticing dirt on the ground around them. I investigated to find that there were little holes in the dirt! There were apparently squirrels and chipmunks digging in them! This was happening in the front and the back. I wasn't sure how to handle this, so of course I googled. The websites all said that they are either looking to eat your bulbs (there weren't any in these pots) or they are looking for moisture. SO, I figured we were kind of inviting them in with all of our bird feeders. They said that the best way to deter them from digging in the pots and garden beds is to sprinkle red pepper flakes, like you see at the pizza places, on and around the pots. They say that you have to re-do this every few weeks because the smell wears off. So, we bought a huge thing of red pepper flakes and it has been working. But, I can always tell when they have worn off, those little stinkers. The website also suggested that you could provide them with a source of water. We also moved our squirrel feeder from the back to the front and attached it to our tree (see the picture of the feeder). Of course, the first Saturday after we moved the thing, we got up and went into the living room to see 2 squirrels sitting in our bird feeders out back! I wish I had gotten a picture before we scared them off. So, we made a home-made squirrel feeder for out back that consists of a piece of wood with a screw through it and a big hunk of nut suet stuck on there and bought a baffle for that shepherd's hook. It does look like it has been gnawed on, but not much. I even put a big hand ful of out good bird seed on there to attract them. The bird seed was all gone today without much missing from the suet thing. Oh well. The front squirrel feeder gets emptied every other day. I also put bowls of water out for them all, one out back and one under the tree out front. Of course our front porch looks crazy with red pepper flakes everywhere, but oh well. I am sure you have wondered what all the red dots were in all my plants.

One day last week, Scott was in the living room and heard a scratching at the back door. There was a squirrel scratching as if he wanted in. Both cats were sitting there watching him like they weren't sure what to think. Then, he ran over and got in the chair closer to our potted vegetables like he was thinking about climbing in, and decided not to. Finally, he tried to climb the shepherd's hook and ended up inside the baffle and wasn't sure what was going on. He kept climbing down and back up. Very strange. I wished I had seen it first hand, but Scott got pictures of him on the shepherd's hook.

We have a couple of beautiful sunflowers growing in our garden that were lovingly planted by a chipmunk or a squirrel. We always have them growing out from under the bird feeders, but I pull those up. These weren't in a bad place, so I let them grow. Here is a picture of the one that was blooming as of yesterday. You can see that there is a taller one behind it. It was starting to open up today. So pretty.

The other day, a chipmunk kept scary me while I was working in the garden putting out pine straw. Apparently, he travels from one side of the garden to the other in the drainage pipe that runs across the back of the garden. I heard him running through there once then suddenly it was quiet, so I just tried to ignore it. After I had just had enough time to forget about the noise, I hear it again and suddenly a chipmunk comes running out of the end of the pipe closest to me and runs across the walkway into the other side of the garden. I screamed out loud...then felt silly.

Okay, last critter story:

So, when we put the squirrel feeder under the tree, we noticed that the squirrels seem to like sunflower seeds and peanuts much better than the corn, which ended up on the ground under the tree. Scott asked me if the corn would grow, and I was like, nah!

Yesterday, I went out to pull weeds, dead head things, and water the pots. I walked up to the tree to check on the caladiums to realize that there were lots of things growing that weren't supposed to be.

I recognized the sunflowers trying to pop up from the squirrel food, but there was a new weed that was coming up that I didn't recognize.

This is what it looked like.

So, I pulled it up and this is what was attached to the end...a piece of corn! Great! There's corn trying to grow under our tree!

This is the face I made before I got down on my hands and knees and pulled up as many of them as I could find (both the corn and the sunflower seeds).

Needless to say, we are going to buy some in-the-shell peanuts and mix them with sunflower seeds and that is what the squirrels will be getting in the future.

Short Update

We have decided to take our house off the market. We are tired of always having to keep our house spotless, and honestly we weren't doing that great of a job. Not that we don't intend to keep our house clean, but not so perfect that it doesn't look like anyone lives there. That's too much stress for this long. Plus, I am tired of disappointment. We don't feel like God is ready for us to move after all.

The thing about having really smart friends is that they say things that are so logical sometimes that you wish you'd thought of it. That's what happens when your husband is a Georgia Tech graduate. Our friend Eric had a good point on my last post where I talked about my WW progress. He said that if you are going to compare your weight loss to someone else's, you should base it on the percentage of your original weight instead of how many pounds you have actually lost. If I look at it that way, I have lost 1-2% more than Scott. That makes me feel better.

Please be praying for my Aunt Bobbie. She had cancer many years ago that has been in remission. I month or so ago, they found that the cancer has returned in her spine and her liver. She has been at home after for a few weeks, but she is now back in the hospital. Bobbie is the sibling closest in age to my dad, who is the youngest of 5.

Gardening update

Tonight, we moved the shepherd's hook that is in our front garden holding the bird feeders and the hanging baskets. You couldn't really see them from the street because of the gladiolus that are growing so tall. I had considered doing away with those at the end of this season because of that, but I have gotten so many compliments on them from my neighbors in the last few days, I don't think I will. We still needed something for the clematis to climb and it didn't seem to like trying to climb the shepherd's hook anyway. So, we got a trellis-type thingy to put there. We moved the hanging baskets over to the side of the garden to add color to that side. It looks good. I'll take pictures soon. It's too dark right now. We are rewarding ourselves with popsicles as I type. It makes it more difficult to type, actually. I have added a picture of the gladiolus as of yesterday. For reference, there is also a picture of me standing behind them. I am 5'1.5" and some of them are taller than me.

We still don't have ripe tomatoes on our tomato plants, but the green tomatoes are pretty big. Does anyone have ripe tomatoes yet? Our green bell peppers are getting pretty big. We already picked 3 jalapenos and have a bunch of blooms on them now. Yay. This is a picture from a couple of weeks ago. I don't know why I haven't taken a more recent picture. All the plants have just about doubled in size. I have been trying to go the "organic route" and I bought this organic fertilizer. I think it is freeze dried poo because p-u! Seriously.

Last Thursday, we took the day off work because we were just exhausted from everything that happened last week with Meme. We slept until we woke up with no alarm. Then, we both went and did things we like to do: Scott went to play disc golf and I went to the Growers Outlet. I couldn't help myself. Last Saturday we went to get a couple of plants to fill in the big pot where a couple of things had died. The lady that runs the place told us that the next Saturday was their last day to be open for two months. I started to feel all nervous like I might be missing out on something that I need. I mean, some of the things I planted weren't doing great, what if I decide to replace them? Plus, I knew things would be super cheap. So, I had to go. I am sure you understand. Anyway, sale is an understatement. I did not pull up anything that was still alive. I am going to let the plants in front of the gladiolus work on growing for the rest of the summer. However, I had planted some calla lilies over on the garden on the other side of the walkway to our front door and they died. I think I should have watered them more. So, I bought 15 new guinea impatiens to put there, then I really wanted something to grow under our tree, but it provides a lot of shade, so I ended up getting 12 caladiums. Plus, I figured I might as well get something to go in front of the canna lilies. I really wanted some daylilies, but they didn't have any. I got 11 dragon wing begonias. I hope that they all do well. So, that is a total of 38 plants. And, these are the "6-packs" you can buy for cheap at the big box stores, these are 2-3 inch pots. My grand total was $15.52! I ended up with too many new guinea impatiens, so I had to create some more container gardens with them. They say that the first step is admitting you have a problems: Hi, my name is Marcy and I am addicted to container gardens! Ha! On the back porch, I now have 10 pots of flowers and 4 potted vegetables. In the front, I have 2 hanging baskets and two potted plants. Um, that's a lot.

Here are the canna lilies and you can see the little dragon wing begonias surrounding them. They are supposed to get pretty big. I really hope they do.

Here's a close up of the begonias.

Here are the caladiums under the tree.

Here are the new guinea impatiens. They are supposed to really fill out too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The End of a Generation

My grandmother, Meme (Mary Kate Haney), passed away early Tuesday morning, June 16, 2009. Meme had been sick off and on for several years now and she never really recovered from the pneumonia she had in February. She also had ulcers and was being given medicine to try to control those. Apparently this medicine stripped not only the bad bacteria causing the flare ups of the ulcers, but also the good bacteria in her stomach. This caused a disease called C.diff infection. I had never heard of it, but it is apparently common in hospital patients. My grandmother had been in the nursing home for a little over 3 years. I am sad to lose my grandmother, but in a way, I am not sad. She struggled with why she was still living after watching her parents, her siblings, her husband's siblings, her only child, her husband, and finally her closest aunt who was in the nursing home with her up until a few months ago, pass away. I know that even though she had a steady stream of visitors, she was often sad and lonely. She had arthritis in her hands and the pain was terrible. She was going blind from an eye condition called macular degeneration. She also suffered from dementia, which can be very disorienting. I would always tell her that God knew His plans and she was on this earth for a little longer for a reason that only He knew. While I know she knew that, I am sure it didn't make it any easier.

Many of you have called, sent me emails and messages on facebook, and sent cards. Many of you have prayed for us during this time. Some of you even made the long drive out to Dallas to visit with us at the funeral home. It was all appreciated more than you will ever know.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lunch Time Ramblings

I have so many random thoughts all the time, I figure that is something to blog about. So, here goes:

This past Sunday, Scott was playing disc golf and he put a big hole in his shoe. Apparently when he makes is "approach" he scuffs the side of his left foot on the pavement and he wore a hole through his shoe, through his sock, and scuffed up his big toe by the time they were done playing. Needless to say, he threw those shoes away and went to buy some new ones on Monday. Then, he went to play disc golf on Tuesday and figured out how to not scuff his toe. You live and learn I guess. Our friends Mike and Erin from church were with us at the park. Mike played disc golf with Scott and Erin and I walked with the boys (well, two of them rode bikes, two of them were in a stroller and one was in one of those carrier thingies). We had never been to Lenora Park until they told us about it. We love going over there now. It is so close to the house. We are also really glad that we sometimes get to go with Mike and Erin and get to know them better.

We have some jalapenos that look like they might be big enough to pick. I need to google when you are supposed to pick them. I can't wait until we have bell peppers and tomatoes that are ripe. Mmmm...I can just taste a yummy BLT or some pasta salad (yeah, that pasta salad comment was for you, Shana).

Just as an update on my Weight Watchers program, I have lost 18 pounds as of last Friday. I weigh myself every Friday when I get home from work, before I eat dinner, of course. I still want to lose 12 more pounds. I have been doing the program since the beginning of March, so that's three months plus a week. I am basing what I need to weigh based on BMI. It seems like every website I find tells me the same healthy BMI and calculates it the same way. However, when I look up how much someone my height and age should weigh, I get varying answers. Some of them are way too low, in my opinion. Scott is eating the same things I do when we eat together and just basically eating whatever he wants when I am not around, but I think he is trying to be a little better than before. Plus, he plays a lot of disc golf. He has lost 16 pounds. I am really happy for him. But, it is kind of annoying that he has lost so much weight and he still goes to Burger King some times. But, I think that across the board it is easier for most guys to lose weight than it is for women. I wonder if guys agree with that. (I know there are only a handful of guys that read our blog, so let's hear it from you!)

Scott and I are trying to get ourselves on a regular schedule each week that includes exercise, studying for him and various administrative stuff including church finances for me, individual Bible reading/study time, and a family devotional. We have really helped ourselves out by sitting at the table to eat every night instead of sitting in front of the tv. Once the tv comes on, it is hard to turn it off. We have gotten way behind on So You Think You Can Dance and In Plain Sight, but that's okay with us. We really need to get our priorities in order. Thankfully, we have both been working a pretty normal schedule at work. We are blessed to have jobs. I am still enjoying my job for the most part. My boss and coworker (there's only 3 of us in our little group) and I get along really well, so that's great to me.

Alright, lunch is over. Have a good day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good Fajita Recipe??

Scott and I want to make steak fajitas some time this week. I am kind of wanting a new marinade for the meat. Any ideas?

Fun with Flowers

It feels like I really don't have much to say on here lately. Truly, I don't. I think I am becoming a boring person. I have been enjoying the product of all this rain we have had this summer so far (I think that we skipped Spring, really, and that's okay with me). Last year, I purchased some daylilies at the Growers Outlet and then when I got them home I divided them into 3-4 plants each, so I had six up front and seven out back. They apparently were not impressed with the division, so they never bloomed, so I wasn't 100% sure what they would look like. Well, they have thankfully come back this year and they just started blooming this year! Yay! Here they are:

The ones in the pictures are the ones in my back yard. Those tall things back there are gladiolus and behind that is the crepe myrtle that we planted a few years ago.
Last year, I went a little nuts with geraniums. The Growers Outlet had some beautiful pink ones and I had purchased a couple of reddish/pink ones from Lowes or Home Depot and they were so pretty, I hated the idea of them dying. So, in my Gardening Month-by-Month in Georgia book by Walter Reeves (and some other lady whose name I can never remember), it gave instructions on how to save plants like geraniums that are kind of hardy. So, I pulled them out of their pots and put them in paper bags and went out there once every month or so and sprayed them with some water during the winter. Lo and behold, they started turning a little green and one even put out a bloom before I could even get them back into pots. All but one of them has survived and they are all looking great (well, except the one that has not shown any signs of life that I need to replace). Here is are some pics of them right after I pulled them out and snipped off all the dead "limbs" and some pics I took various days in the last week:

Those are the ones out back. There is a geraniumin the middle of that rectangular pot, but it is really crowded in with the petunia's and daisies. I like to see a full pot of flowers. There's only one geranium out front that is from last year, you can see it in the first picture looking like a dead stick:

It's amazing to me how fast these flowers grow. Most of these pictures were taken last weekend and the flowers are already blooming more and getting bigger!
I was afraid that none of the geraniums would really be what they were last year (shame on me), so I bought two new ones to put in my hanging baskets because I feel like those should be really pretty since they are so visible from the street. They were just babies and they only cost a dollar (or maybe less) at the Growers Outlet. My hanging baskets are doing great! These pictures are from last weekend and they are even fuller (more full?) right now. You can see in the close up that the daisy I planted in one of them is starting to bloom. I planted them both with the exact same flowers, but the daisy in the other one has not started blooming yet.

You can see how tall the gladiolus I have in front of the shepherd's hook have gotten. There is a clematis climbing up the shepherd's hook, but it's really hard to see from the other side because the gladiolus are so tall. I guess I really didn't plan that out that well. Oh well.

I haven't really put anything new out by the mailbox or under the tree. I planted some Lantana by the mailbox last year as well as a clematis. One of the lantana and the clematis are coming back up, so I think I will just be patient and let them do their thing. I have planted some annuals in the front garden but they aren't really exploding like I would have liked. Hopefully they will start really getting huge like all the books say they will, but we shall see. The yellow flowers are called Melampodium and the furry red, orange, and yellow things in the very front are called Celosia. I don't have a picture of the mailbox area as it looks right now, and I am too lazy to run out and take one, so that will have to wait for another post.

That other pot is on our back porch in between the two chairs we have out there. There's another one sitting on the concrete right in front of it, but it's full of all my "leftovers" and a daisy that decided to come back up this year, so it's not as beautiful and carefully planned out. I may combine it into the large green pot that is sitting behing my long planter on the back porch so that they both look more full. It was kind of a last minute thing, too. The clematis and daisy that were in there from last year were started to come up sitting in the garage, so I just added some other stuff in there with it. The geranium I put in there is not doing anything and I had put two Melampodium in there, but they apparently didn't like it in there so they died. Sad times. It looks kind of sad if you look at it closely. I will put a picture so you can see. Please don't laugh.
Our vegetables are getting little babies on them, too, but that will also have to be for another post as this one has gotten kind of long. Sorry about that. I hope it isn't boring for you to read about my flowers. But, I am a big fan.
Have a great week!