Saturday, July 28, 2012

On mattering

As Cat said, "keep doing what you're doing.  It matters".  Here's my "hummingbird garden" it didn't really start as a hummingbird garden, but that's what it has become.  The hummers, so far, have no complaints.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My 3 cats + a few kittens

All three cats - Ivy and Quazi in the grass and Mama on the fence.
Most of you already know that I have two cats (Ivy and Quazi).  And most of you probably know that after we came home from Santa Fe, we had another cat living in our back yard.  Since she was nursing and since I was trying to get her to bring the kittens around so we could a) socialize them and hopefully get them adopted and b) get them all fixed, I started feeding her some food whenever she came around (which tended to be at 7:30 am and 7:30 pm).  Unfortunately I think two of the kittens may have died (it's been 2 weeks since I've seen them)[Update at 9:30 on 7/26: At least one of the other kittens is also still alive - I saw it this morning, but it is uber-scared of the humanoids; there won't be any getting close to that one for a while].  So which means that in about another 2 weeks I'll be catching the feral cat (Mama) and the remaining baby to get them fixed.

The biggest problem with feeding Mama is that my cats don't like each other, much less other cats.  Ivy is a bitch, and Quazi is a bully. Though he's a selective bully - he tends not to harass other black cats nearly as much as those that are other colors; plus he tends to be pretty good around kittens - he doesn't like them, but he won't attack them either.  And while Quazi will actually follow after cats, Ivy tends to leave them alone, as long as they don't come near her.

Mama - this is the closest I'm allowed, and yes, I was carrying food - otherwise she runs the other direction.
Kitten - a very bad photo.  He's scared of the camera so I can't get all that close.  On the plus side, he's much less scared of us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My non-garden garden

Considering that I didn't "do" a garden this year, it's really quite surprising how many plants I have - 2 lemon balm, the parsley and garlic chives (not shown as they're in the other garden) are carryovers from last year, but the rest are all new.  Obviously I don't know the meaning of "I'm not doing a garden this year."

F1 Black Jalapenos are my jalapeno plants that I grew from seed from Renee Studebaker - they came from a plant of hers that was apparently a reverted black pearl pepper.  Considering that 2 of the plants have regular green leaves and 2 have the purpled leaves, I think it will be interesting to see what we do end up getting from them.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Wait, could it be?! could the plumeria finally be getting ready to bloom?  Stay tuned!  How exciting!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Santa Fe Yards

Juniper and Chimisa (probably among other things) hiding the semi-circular driveway.
Whilst in Santa Fe, it became pretty obvious (at least in the art district - I can't really speak to any other area), that grass in yards was uncommon.  My husband paid attention more than I did and said that of all the places we walked by, only 2 had grass.  It was a good experience because he's been telling me for a while that yards can't look good in a "normal" setting if they don't have grass ('normal' means living in a house and you can easily walk from your front door to your neighbor's front door in less than 2 minutes).
While I think yards without grass look perfectly fine, I do believe that it's much more difficult to have your grass-less yard look apropos and be accepted by the neighbors when you're the only one on the block to have no grass.  But he claims that it is totally all about the grass - so to have him say afterward that the grass-less yards looked good (nay, better) than the grassed yards is a major step forward in my plans to remove even more of our lawn in the future.  (Also, and slightly related, I can't wait for Pam Penick's "Lawn Gone" book to come out next year)

Shawn taking a breather at one of the two yards with grass.

I was actually surprised by how many plants I knew, but of course there were still plenty that I didn't recognize (naturally, all of those pictures are out of focus).  It seemed like day lillies were very common, as well as California/Mexican poppies and hollyhocks.  Not super common: cacti.  Surprising.  To me at least.  Of course there were places that used annual plantings in pots for color.

A picture of Shawn taking a breather - again.

Obviously, wide paths were very popular (I would suspect they'd have to be when you're running an art gallery out of a house).  My sister took more pictures than I did of plants and yards and art and everything, so hopefully she'll post some of them somewhere in a public-type forum so I can link to them.

A good use of Iris.  I don't remember any other places using iris, or if they did it was an iris plant here or there, not any groupings like this.

Almost all of the yards were walled in with adobe walls - they weren't necessarily tall (at most 4'), but they did make everything seem much more like "This is my little space and I will do with it what I see fit."  Which I think allowed for all sorts of different plants and designs.  I don't know why, but I figure it's a little tougher to make yards look like they fit in when you're having to account for what your neighbors are doing as well - for example, thinking back and realizing that there were only 2 yards with grass, it would be very easy for the grassed yards to look out of place when they're surrounded by non-grass yards, but I didn't even notice them, which just means I was looking at each yard as a clean slate.  And I think that is directly attributable to the walls separating each of the lots.

One of the few places that had something out for the birds (a disappearing fountain).  Naturally, it's a piece of artwork and is for sale.

I was very impressed by the amount of flowers planted along driveways and alleys.  It was almost like "I have 1' x 5' of space - I can plant stuff here!"  These types of locations are where most of the hollyhocks and California poppies were.
An alleyway with the ever popular branch fence.  My Grandma told my sister and me about how she used to make dolls out of hollyhocks as a kid.

If you care to look at all the other photos from the trip, you can view the Carlsbad Caverns/Guadalupe Mountains photos, and the pictures of the family in Santa Fe.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park (from our first night camp site).  Our camp site was between the two tents you can see in this picture - if you embiggen, you might see a little red dot about half way between them, that is Shawn sitting at the table next to our tent.
Some flower in the camp ground

Over Father's Day weekend, Shawn and I went to Santa Fe to see my family. My parents and sister live in Denver, my grandparents live in Tucson, and so my parents decided they'd meet in the middle. Shawn and I were invited after they had determined they were going to Santa Fe. We decided to drive (flights were really expensive for some reason), and spent a night in the back country (i.e. we carried all our crap 4 miles straight up a mountain, slept for the night, and then hiked back down).

This is the "poof flower" plant.  I don't actually
know what it is, but I call it "poof flower"
I took my SLR, but didn't take it on the actual backpacking part of the trip because when hiking up a mountain, one should not be carrying an extra 2.5 pounds of weight just because you may or may not want to take "pretty photos."  At first, I thought this was a dumb idea - I could have carried the camera.  Then we got to about mile 3, it was 99 degrees, the hike was entirely in the sun, and we were still hiking UP; that was the point when we both were telling ourselves "just put one foot in front of the other, just keep going."  When we finally got to our camp site, we pulled out our sleeping pads, threw them on the ground under a tree and promptly slept for 2 hours.  We got up and I made the ill-advised decision to hike a quarter mile back DOWN to the point where the trail veered to the camp sites to take a photo of a blooming agave with my husband's cell phone (what was doubling as our camera for the backpacking portion of the trip).  And then I had to hike back UP.  I ended up taking another hour long nap before dinner.
Acacia (?) -  These things are freakin' vicious.  And of course
one of our tent stakes was right next to one of these things, so not
only did Shawn and I both end up with scratched up hands while
setting up our tent, we also ended up with holes in the tent when we
took it down the next day.

And that is why I am glad I didn't take the SLR with me up the mountain.  Though Shawn did see what I can only assume was a ring-tailed cat.  I say I must assume this because SOMEONE wasn't paying attention to all the taxidermied animals at the visitor center when we checked in.  So the description I had to go off of was "well, it looked like an oversized prairie dog.  But with a long tail.  More like a house cat than a ferret."

The reason why I call the "poof flower" plant "poof flower"

So, instead, you get to see the photos from  around our camp ground when we first got to the Guadalupe Mountains - We have a policy of not backpacking the first night if we've been travelling all day - especially when we'd have to hike 3 miles and we've been in a car for 9 or so.

Ferny tendrils right next to our camp site pad.
Of course I generally have no idea what all the different plants are - okay, that's not true, I was able to make a guess as to the spikey plant that ripped a few holes in our tent (and our hands).  Oops.  I'm also pretty sure that the plant below is a thistle.  Look at me go.

Thistle plant by where I parked the car.
While the trip was hot, the hike was tough, and the pack was heavy, it was a VERY nice area and I highly recommend visiting if you have not done so already.  Wildlife (aside from lizards and birds) are few and far between (or maybe I'm just not observant in the slightest), but the vistas more than make up for it.