Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Growing

My garden is growing very well. Hooray!


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More Cat Therapy

This picture was supposed to go on the "Cat Therapy" post.

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Crape Myrtle

When we first moved here I was very happy with how green and lush everything was. There was quite a variety of vegetation. But there did not seem to be very many flowers blooming. There were a few daylillies (which I'm not crazy about) and a handful of standard annuals in flower beds, but not much else. I thought "do flowers just not grow here? Is there some weird bug that eats all the blossoms?"

Then, a couple of weeks ago, the crape myrtle all burst into bloom. And it turned out that half the bushes and shrubs and small trees in town were actually crape myrtle. All of the sudden Okahoma was exploding with every riotous shade of fuscia tempered with a fair amount of soft cream and pale purple.

This is my neighbor's crape myrtle bush:



Crape myrtle is really groovy stuff. It kind of reminds me of lilacs except it has no smell and it blooms much longer. Apparently lilacs don't like it here, but I can live without them as long as there's plenty of crape myrtle around me. And there is, thank goodness. It was really amazing what an emotional boost it gave me when my whole world burst into color the way it did. It's a lot easier to deal with pregnancy exhaustion and a quirky house that wants more money than you currently have and kids that are acting up because of the adjustment to yet another move and all the other things on my plate when you've got a friend like crape myrtle.
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Compensations for the Heat

Summer is not my favorite season of the year. I'm just not crazy about the heat. One of the reasons I had such a hard time emotionally when we first got here was that I knew that Oklahoma has hot summers and we were on the cusp of three long months of stifling heat. It helped a lot when we had a long cool rainy spell around the 4th of July. Now it's hot every day again, but it hasn't hit 100 yet and I'm managing okay.

I have to admit though that the summer heat produces some extremely wonderful results. Tomatoes love it and I love tomatoes. Also, watermelons love it and I can't even begin to express how much I love watermelon. The yellow-bottom secret I learned last year has continued to provide us with marvelously sweet, juicy, crisp melons and we've been eating them like crazy. A local store has been selling them for $3 each which makes it even more wonderful. Cheap, sweet, juicy, cold, and healthy! There's nothing better on a hot July day!



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Cat Therapy


I don't know how the Badger did it, but he managed to choose cats for the boys that perfectly compliment their personalities.

Bean's cat is extremely playful and frisky and Bean spends hours romping around with him and laughing hysterically when he climbs up on his head and shoulders. An active cat is just what Bean needed.

Fish's cat is very sweet and shy and mellow. She doesn't frisk much. Fish can sit for a long time just holding her and petting her and that's just what Fish's tender middle-child heart needs.

The cats seem very happy at our house and we are all very happy to have them!
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Birthday Portrait of a Fish

I took some portraits of Fish the morning of his 7th birthday. I thought you might like to see some of my favorites.




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Fish's Dream


When he was two his favorite movie was "Chariots of Fire." Apparently playing it over and over for him at a very young age has really affected him. He dreams constantly of running like the wind.
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I See You, Toad!

We have so much fun with the toads around here. Bean and I like to turn off all the inside lights at night and then turn on the porch light and watch the cats chase moths and the toads hop around. One of them used to live under the "doghouse," which we recently moved to a more suitable location. He wasn't too pleased with being discovered so he has since relocated, but if I see him again I'll let him know that I have a picture of his old home for nostalgia's sake.

One thing that I think is funny: the cats will catch and eat the small frogs that live near the house but they coexist peacefully with the toads. I'm glad because I really like the toads.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Is It Possible to Live Without the Internet?

We were having so many problems with our internet that we just decided to cancel it. It may be awhile before we get another service. Blog posts will be more infrequent than I'd like, but you know me-- I'll find a way to get something on here every now and then.

If you comment, I have to approve it before it goes on the site. It may take awhile before comments appear. I'm sorry about that-- I really appreciate all the comments I get.

The garden is growing well and the kitties are settling in. So am I. It's really starting to feel like home. The July weather is hotter than I'd like, but there's plenty of very good and very cheap watermelon for sale in the local grocery stores, and that is a pretty good compensation.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Boots are Back!

Last night I was thinking about the missing boots and shoes-- they have to be somewhere! I said a prayer that they would somehow turn up. I don't know why I didn't think about praying about it before-- I guess it seemed too trivial.

This afternoon I walked over to the mailbox and saw my neighbor to the west mowing his lawn. I've met most of the neighbors but I hadn't met him yet so I introduced myself. After exchanging names and such, he said, "I've got some shoes and boots that belong to you." He proceeded to go into his garage and come back with all five missing articles. It was his dog that was filching them. They were in pretty good shape, too.

At this very moment the Rabbit is tripping around the backyard wearing a pink shirt, a green diaper, no pants, and her pink and green watermelon boots. Oh, I am so happy to have them back again! The girls are pleased too. Roo is telling everyone that it's because Mommy said a prayer. It's a good reminder to me that when you have little kids nothing is too trivial for prayer. Even when you don't have little kids nothing is too trivial for prayer.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Come see!

To all my dear readers who use google reader or bloglines-- come on over to my actual site and see its new look!

When we got the job in Oklahoma I thought I was going to go back to calling my blog "Little Birrd on the Prairie," but our part of Oklahoma isn't very prairie. I definitely don't feel like Little Birrd on the Prairie. So you'll have to come over to my site and see what I put in the blog header....

Late Tomato Plants

When you go to buy tomato plants for your garden six weeks or more after most everyone else has planted their gardens you're in for an adventure.

I was at Lowe's on the last day of June. They had one rack of vegetable plants left. It was pushed over to a dark corner and it looked awful. Most everything was dead or very nearly so. I wasn't sure what else I was going to find elsewhere though, so I took a look at the tomato plants. Their leaves that hadn't shriveled up were a pale sickly green and the fruit had blossom end rot really bad. The lady said I could have them for a dollar each, and I bought two. I figured I could handle a $2 experiment.

I brought 'em home and plunked 'em in the ground and they're doing great. They've got lots of new growth and even some new fruit growing. They're starting to lose their sickly color.

A few days later I was at a popular local greenhouse. He was about to close for the season but he had quite a few plants left. The contrast between these plants and the Lowe's plants was amazing. They were super leggy, but they were so healthy-looking-- dark green leaves and nothing shriveled or rotting. Obviously these plants had been well cared for. I bought two tomatoes and a pepper for $4 to 5 each. I couldn't wait to get them into my garden because I knew they'd outshine the Lowe's plant in no time.

Here is a picture I took right after I planted the greenhouse plants. The two Lowe's tomatoes are in the upper left. The greenhouse tomato is bottom right and the greenhouse pepper bottom left.


The greenhouse plants went into transplant shock right away. For a couple of days I didn't even know if they were going to make it at all. You can tell from the picture that while the greenhouse plants have superior coloring, they are sad and floppy whereas the Lowe's plants are pale but perky.

It's been a few days and I think all my tomatoes are going to be just fine. I go out there and talk to them a lot to encourage them. It's been years since I've had good tomato plants of my own and I've missed them so much. As a child I took garden tomatos for granted. As an adolescent I hated them because they were work. As a young married living in Idaho I learned to care for and enjoy them but again I took them for granted because they were easy to grow there. Then I went several years without them and I realized just what a treasure they are.

Grow, little treasures! Grow big and strong and fruity! I'm craving bruschetta!
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About the Cats

Perhaps some readers are wondering how I feel about the new additions to our household. Here are the facts:

Fact #1: I adore cats.
Fact #2: I am highly allergic to them.
Fact #3: The Badger grew up with cats and has always wanted to have one
Fact#4: I have always told the Badger that someday I would be thrilled if we could have an outdoor cat
Fact #5: The Badger doesn't like cat hair in the house so he thinks an outdoor cat is a great idea
Fact #6: Because of the allergies in my family, I have never had pets except briefly some gerbils when I was eight or so. We've been talking about puppies and chickens and horses and goats and all this stuff and the truth is I have no idea how to take care of any animal, even a pet cat. Because of this I would never have initiated this myself. And when the Badger first brought the kitties home, I was a bit anxious-- what do we DO with them? How much food do we give them? Where will they sleep? How often do we have to check on them?
Fact #7: The Badger is a cat expert and our cats are very well-taken-care-of. They are settling in quite nicely in their box of old shirts in the garage. The little one was a bit traumatized at first and didn't eat or drink for quite awhile, but she seems to be getting over that. She's still much shyer than Flinch though.
Fact #8: My kids all now live in the garage every waking minute of the day. They are filthy and happy.
Fact #9: Going out to the garage to do my laundry and being greeted by two small beasties is extremely jolly. There's a unique pleasure there I've never experienced before. I've been aware my whole life of the affection people feel for their pets and the emotional satisfaction they get from them and I know this is as commonly understood in America as the flavor of vanilla ice cream, but this is my first real taste of it.
Fact #10: I love the cats as much as my kids and husband do!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Early Birthday Present

The Badger left the house this afternoon and didn't return for several hours. When he finally showed up, he had a mysterious cardboard box with him. It had airholes in it. He called to the boys to come see their early birthday present. They came running with tremendous excitement and they weren't disappointed.


Fish's cat is a girl and he is currently calling her "Marian" (at first it was "Frank" but they he found out it was a girl.)


Bean's is a boy and he immediately started calling it "Flinch."

I think this is a day they will remember forever.
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Classic Fish

This kid sure has a way of expressing himself.

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Did You Know That Toads Chirp?

Toads make the most surprising little chirpy squeaky noises when boys have been chasing them and catching them. It's probably their "I'm feeling trauma" noise. But you can't stop a boy (or a girl!) from catching a toad every once in awhile!

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Lovely Trees

I just love it that there are so many trees out here where we live. We have a handful on our property, but there are wooded areas all around us. Birrds need trees to feel properly at home, so I am very grateful for them.

We have this gorgeous tree out in our pasture near the stable. I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but it has a lovely shape.


Our pasture slopes down quite a ways. Our property line ends right at the bottomland where the creek is. Cottonwoods grow along the creek and look really pretty in the evening sun.
Between us and the creek is a small pasture where our neighbor keeps three delightful horses. (You can see their little metal shed in this picture.) My kids adore the horses and go down to the bottom of the pasture to pet and feed them frequently. Little Roo has gotten over her terror of horses and likes to tell me about how King's mouth tickles. And the Rabbit escapes and trots down there every chance she gets. When she can't get out, she goes up to her room and stands on her changing table to look out the window at them and shout "ohses! ohses! OHSES!!!!" for hours on end. Lucky for her, her window has the best pasture view in the house. I wonder if I give her a Audubon tree guide if she will identify my beautiful tree for me while she's up there!
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Mud Babies and Missing Shoes

My critters love to dig in the dirt and mud under the elm tree.


And doesn't my Rabbit have a marvelous smile? I love it.

I have to tell you about the boots she's wearing. When we moved here I bought the children each a pair of rain boots-- they weren't cheap and I had a long list of things to spend money on, but I prioritized this because I figured they were going to be pretty essential living in the country. And I'm really glad I bought them. Except....

The Rabbit likes shoes and she likes to put on someone's shoes-- anyone's shoes-- and wear them for awhile and then take them off and leave them wherever. This isn't usually a problem in the house, but when she gets out into the yard it's a different story. We are missing 3 boots (including one of the ones you see in the above picture) and one of Bean's fairly new every-day sneakers and we are pretty sure what happened to them.

There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood and several of them wander free. In general we like them. However, we have very good reason to suspect that either they or the local raccoons are nabbing shoes our kids leave on the lawn and taking them off to who-knows-where to chew or bury.

It just kills me to think of both the Rabbit's darling new boots and one of Roo's all chewed up and in a muddy hole somewhere.

On the positive side, this MIGHT be what finally teaches my kids to be responsible for their belongings. They have been in the habit of leaving stuff outside all the time and now they've realized they can't do that or they might not ever see it again. This is especially true with Bean, who probably left his shoes outside himself (and didn't rely on the Rabbit to distribute them for him). He is sorely missing being able to wear his sneakers.

If any of you see an armadillo or opossum wearing two watermelon rain boots, one strawberry one, and a size 4 dark grey and yellow sneaker, please apprehend him immediately.
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Learning and Growing

In our homeschool lately, Mondays have been our day for science. Today when I picked up our Biology book I discovered we were on the section about plants-- what they're made up of, what they need to live, and how they grow. With all the gardening we've been doing recently (the kids have helped a LOT) this was perfect! After reading about how plants grow we ran outside to the garden and discovered this:


The kids were wild with joy. So was I. I love it when my seeds actually grow. Every time I put these little shriveled, dried-up things in the ground I think "is this really going to work?" and I never get tired of the thrill of actually seeing them sprout.
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A Late But Good Start

Even though we moved in a little after most people plant their vegetables, I was bound and determined to get a vegetable garden in the ground this year. We have a long enough growing season that I am pretty sure we ought be to able to grow quite a few things even with a late start.

When we first got here I wasn't really sure how it was going to happen. We were so swamped with unpacking and I was still feeling sick. Then our new friends the Ogdens lent us their tiller and slowly things started to happen. The Badger was working the day shift the last half of June but he would come home in the late evenings and get an hour of yard work in before it got dark. He had to till over the plot four times to get rid of most of the bermuda grass and till in the peat moss and manure I bought:

and in the end there was still some bermuda grass, which I am sure I am going to be cursing all summer as I weed, but it's a great little garden plot and I love how it's situated so I can see it out my kitchen window. And the evening the final tilling was done I realized that having the garden made me finally feel connected to this place and excited about living here. Oh, yay!



The next morning early Bean and Roo and I filled it up with seeds: pumpkin, canteloupe, green beans, cucumber, and I can't remember what else. Not a lot of variety, but I'm just happy to have anything at all! I was also able to pick up some tomato plants and other potted misc.

I was worried about the seedlings getting baked to death in the summer heat, which hit us full-force the last week of June. We planted on the 30th of June and then all of the sudden on July 1st the temperature took a downward turn. This last week it's been more like the end of May than the beginning of July. And there's been PLENTY of rain (got rained out of all 4th of July weekend plans...) I'm sure my garden appreciates this and so do I.

So this is a picture of my garden this morning. Doesn't this look so charmingly rural, with the stable and shed in the background and my diapers hanging on the fence to dry? (Love my sun-dried diapers!)

Maybe I was born to be a country girl after all!
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