Monday, June 29, 2009

The Garden

Mi Casita!

I haven't posted much about my gardens, even though they've always sucked a lot of time from me! But that's okay. Gardening is like hiking: work, but fun work. When I first bought my house in 2004 (egads, in August it will be 5 years!!) it had one small garden along the front enclosed porch. Now, I have several: Front and side house flower gardens, a flower garden in front of my shed, potted gardens on the back patio, a Strawberry patch, a Blackberry (blackcap) patch, a raspberry patch, a Bean patch and my main veggie garden.

My strawberries are done for the season, but while they were here, they were wonderful. :o)

I have to say, strawberries are hard to grow. You constantly monitor them for the right time to pick, but it's a race against the field mice and voles, too. My patch is now 4 years old. Last year I thought they might be giving up the ghost- they produced SO POORLY. I think I got 5 berries the whole season, and mice got them before I could pick them. This year the strawberries had a comeback and I think it was the best season yet!! I had a nice after-work-snack every day for a couple weeks. Mmmm.

And now that Strawberries are done, Blackberries (Blackcaps) are up on deck!:

I love my Blackberry patch, even though it is wild,shaggy and messy-looking.

My favorite flower used to be Peonies. Now it is Euphorbia:

The "common name" for this plant is "common spurge" but Euphorbia sounds so much better, don't you think? If you run your hand over the plant, it is as soft and silky as velvet. And it grows in a big yellow soft mound. This pic was taken a few weeks ago in May.

Now who doesn't love Hens N'Chicks? And blue hippos??? I planted these in May too. They are a bit bigger now.

I have two Pontatillas (sp?) in my flower gardens along the front and side of my house. I love the little flowers they sprout!:

Bright red Easter Lillies. Mom cleaved these from her Lilly Patch, and gave them to me. Last year (their first year) they barely grew, but now they are going strong and I hope they continue to spread along the front of the shed!

Lavender. I don't like many herbs (I prefer salt on my food- salt, salt and more salt) but I have a 3-year old lavender plant, an oregano plant that WILL NOT DIE, and chives that also WILL NOT DIE. The Lavender is the only herb I have that I am trying not to kill on purpose lol. So fragrant and beautiful.

Okay. Now on to the veggie gardens! These are Italian Pole Beans growing up the fence in the backyard. The fake owl did not scare squirrels OR birds away while the beans were tiny, I might add. But I keep it there because a)I like owls. A lot. and b) it's a nice yard decoration.

My tomato plants, growing on the back patio. I just discovered last year that I like tomatos, so I planted three. Not sure what variety, maybe beefstake? Beefcake? Something like that?? Also a few petunias in there, as well as a pot of Chives.

My pathetic back veggie garden. This year I planted the first weekend of May, since the last part of May is WAY too busy at work. In our region, they say to plant no earlier than Memorial Day weekend so I was pushing it a bit. Most of my plants survived the on/off May cold snaps, but my Bell Peppers did not, so I had to buy some new seedlings. In the ground, as of today: 4 bell pepper plants, 4 brocollie plants (can I eat the leaves? Is that what Brocolli rabe is??), 6 brussell sprout plants, 2 rows of peas, and 4 purple Kale. I also have 2 cantalope plants that seem to have sprouted again from last year's seeds. I don't have the heart to kill them, even though NONE of my cantalope were edible last year. The reflectors and pathetic 1-foot-high fence is to keep the dogs out.

And we'll end this post with photos of Bee Balm, such a FUN flower. You can use the leaves in tea too, I guess:

Baby bee balm!!

Erie Canal Walk

This morning we went back to the Erie Canal (have the day off from work) to find the Green Heron we saw there last week. It was a pretty hot morning, so we didn't get far. I made the mistake of bringing Lucy with us, which slowed us down significantly, but even so it was HOT and MUGGY. Yuck-o. We don't do well in the heat.

Even though we cut our walk down to almost nothing, we did see some cool stuff. A swimming muskrat:

A woodchuck in a tree (I would never have believed it if it weren't for Mel's post from a couple weeks ago!):

I googled it, and apparently woodchucks will climb trees to escape predators or eat tasty leaves/berries/bark? Bizarre.

Lots of beautiful wildflowers were out:

And my favorite critter from the walk... a gray catbird! He was quite interested in us and sang us a lovely song as I snapped away. Unfortunately most of my pictures focused on the leaves in front and not the bird, and therefore the bird came out blurry. This was the only good one. :o(

Despite the heat, Cliff had a good time. Lucy was SO happy and excited to get in the car and go for a ride, and was excited to START the walk, but her energy petered out really fast. Next time, she'll have to stay home I think.

Man, I am still LOL'ing about that woodchuck...


Sleepy Lucy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nothin' But a Good Time...

So on Friday, my good friend Kelly and I (and her hubby Mike!) went to go see Poison, Def Leppard and Cheap Trick in concert at Darien Lake. Cheap Trick canceled out (at first we heard that the lead singer broke his nose, but then heard their airplane was stuck on some tarmack and unable to take off). That stunk, but we had come for Poison and DL, so WE weren't disappointed, although some people really were.

We had awesome seats. And the concert ROCKED. I haven't seen many concerts in my day, but this one clearly took the top. Poison was my FAVORITE band when I was in middle school. I had such a crush on CC, the guitarist. :o) They played all their greatest hits, and dare I say they were even BETTER in person than on tape?? Well they were. For instance, "Talk Dirty to Me"- not one of my favorite songs of theirs. But live? Holy shit. And "Nothin' But a Good Time"... perfect song to play after a hard day in the office? That song is great anyway, but Brett, CC, Bobby and Rikki just fricking hit it out of the park!!! What an awesome, awesome show. Poison alone made the $150 tickets worthwhile!!

Then Def Leppard... and they were simply fantastic. I saw them last year at the State Fair with Kelly and her hubby Mike, and this year they didn't disappoint either. Imagine thousands of people standing on their seats, dancing in the aisles and screaming to "Let's Get Rocked" and you'll know what I mean!!!!!

I would totally go see this show again. Even if tickets cost $200 I would find a way to go. That's how good it was. Just fricking awesome.

But not to be outdone. Thursday evening, the day before this concert, my parents and mom's cousin Melanie and a friend of hers went to go see GORDON LIGHTFOOT in concert in Utica. Wow. Okay, I know what you're thinking. Culture shock, right? Gordon Lightfoot and then Poison and Def Leppard? Well, Gordon is another favorite of mine. It started as a youngster when my brothers and I would ride to Heckinger's Lumber in Dewitt and Dad would play his Gordon Lightfoot tapes on the tape deck. We'd listen to "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" over adn over and over. "Play it again Dad, play it again Dad!" we'd yell. And Dad, me, and my brothers John and Jeff-all crammed in the cab of his pickup- would sing the haunting lyrics and just imagine that huge ship getting swallowed by waves in Lake Gichagumee. So fast forward to 2009 and I get to go see him in concert!!! It was a great show. It wasn't dancing in the aisles/screaming bloody murder like Poison and Def Leppard, but it was absolutely wonderful in a calmer, more peaceful way LOL. Gordon's voice has changed over the years so it wasn't that deep melodic voice you're accustomed to, but it was fantastic, just different than his CD's. He played a lot of tunes I didn't know but the culminating song was, of course, Edmund Fitzgerald. And he was a great showman, joking with the audience and telling some tales about how his songs got written.

Here's the funny part. We stopped at my Grandpa Mack's house before the Gordon concert- he lives a few blocks from the theater. Let's just say Grandpa is not a music person. "You drove 80 miles to listen to jungle music?" he kept asking. LOL!!! Mom, Dad and I tried explaining that Gordon Lightfoot was a folk musician. "Bah!" Grandpa replied. "It's all jungle music." Dad leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Jungle music? If only Grandpa knew about you going to see Poison and Def Leppard!" ROFLMAO. Yeah.

Two weeks, and Whitesnake (and Judas Priest) are coming to Canandaigua, and I soooo want to go. I LOVE Whitesnake, they, Poison and Motley Crue were my faves in middle school. "Still of the night! Still of the night! Still of the nigggghhhhttt..." Well, we'll see.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Home, James...

Our wet camping trip is over! Time to go home. The pups were asleep before I even finished packing up the car. Camping is so much fun, but SO much work. The packing/unpacking. Keeping the campsite orderly. Wet and soggy EVERYTHING when it rains. The laundry afterwards. And Jen forgetting to bring her medications... oops. She will be paying for that for the next week. But otherwise? We had a grand ol' time. Two weeks, and we will be in the Allegheny Mountains of Penna! Woot.

Trip to the ADK Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths

Our last day of our camping trip, I loaded up Lucy and Clifford and we drove 15-20 miles north to the little hamlet of Paul Smiths. There is an Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) which, I take to mean, has a swanky center and lots of well-maintained and documented trails. Because of this, I've never visited before. It seems kind of tame and domesticated...well, I'd rather be out on the trail without other people. But what was appealing this year was that the VIC had a variety of very short trails that would be Lucy-doable. So we went. And I am very VERY glad we did. What a fantastic place!!

I chose the Barnum Brook Trail, a .8 mile long loop, for our hike with Lucy. She started out a bit stiff at first, but then once her joints warmed up she seemed fine. It was overcast and a bit muggy, and towards the end of the trail her breathing was pretty loud (nowadays she pants as loud as a locamotive- a sign of old age?) but she was alert and seemed to enjoy herself the whole time. Her back end is really wobbly, but the trails were so well maintained, she didn't have any trouble at all (no rocks or roots to stumble over)!

The Dynamic Duo-

The Trails had informative signs along the way which unfortunately I couldn't stop to read and study (Clifford sulks and begins his "under the breath whining", which is the most annoying type of whining EVER). And Lucy can't hear well any more, so the only way I can get her to stop is to somehow put pressure on her harness (tug her) which makes me feel bad. So I let her and Cliff lead the way and gave the Interpretive Signs a longing glance as we went by. I know, I know. I'm a sap.

There is a muskrat swimming in the photo below. We sited him from an observation deck, overlooking a bog (or was it a marsh? Or swamp? There is a difference... I think it was a bog). He's in that middle channel.

At the end of the trail, Lucy was more than happy to get a drink from her sippy cup and snooze in the back of the Scion, while Cliff and I did another trail. This one was about 1.1 miles. I forgot what it was called... Forest Ecology trail, maybe? It was a bit more hilly but Cliff took it in stride and was very confident (unlike our hikes this weekend on the FLoodwood Loop, where he was nervous).

The sites were glorious. Fern and moss-covered forest floors. Wet, green forests surrounding black holes of water. Huge bog expanses covered with green grass, mahogany flowers, and red rubbery plant nubbies. Twisted, gray trees. I felt like we were walking through Middle Earth or something- it was spectacular. Thankfully the rain held off, so we could thoroughly enjoy the trip.

Anyway, if you get up to the Northwest Lakes portion of the Adirondacks, I HIGHLY recommend the VIC. I would totally go again. What a great place!


Thursday it poured ALL DAY LONG.

Friday was threatening, but we decided to "chance it." Mom and Dad have kayaks, and Dad rented me one from Rollins Pond (thanks Dad!). After giving the dogs a thorough workout, we donned our lifejackets and headed on our way.

It was pretty dark, and it drizzled a bit. We went up Fish Creek to Copperas Pond, Little Round Pond, and then eventually Floodwood Pond. It was a beautiful trip and we saw LOTS of wildlife.

I should note that these photos were almost all took with a telephoto lense, but even so it was amazing we could get as close as we did!
Young wood duck! I have NEVER seen wood ducks before....

An Eastern Painted Turtle, basking on a log in Fish Creek...

And Loons! We saw tons of loons. Thanks to my telephoto lense, I could get quite detailed shots...

A River Otter!!....

Whitetail Deer...

Black Duck family...

Another Black Duck, snoozing along the Creek...

Another Loon...

And I couldn't tie things up without this picture. Yes, blue skies made an appearance! It lasted only an hour or two, but was a nice end to the day.