Friday, March 27, 2009

Garden tours

Laurel in the garden near Sugar City, Idaho
May 14, 1954

We never planned on giving garden tours when we began upgrading the garden upon my retirement from education. It has been a joy and so rewarding to have time to study and attempt to container garden in the Arizona desert. Now I find myself teaching once again, showing and telling others what has worked in our garden. And even better, meeting more of my neighbors as the color and projects draw them into the garden.

I always remember loving gardens. As you can see, I was hefting a garden hoe at less than 2 years of age. My parents' Idaho garden was huge. It bordered the length of the entire lawn. A hay field lay on the other side of the fence (a snow fence to help control blowing snow.) Every Spring, my father would disc it with his tractor and harrow. We would go to the Sugar City Merc, owned by my great uncle Emery Thomas, to buy the seed in bulk and by the pound. We brought it home in brown paper bags with the seed type printed on the bag. The corn patch of many rows made a great place to play hide and seek as it grew taller than we were. We ate peas by the mouthful right out in the garden. We were also allowed to pull the carrots and radishes at will. We were also expected to weed and hoe and harvest.

It made my heart glad to read of Michelle Obama and her White House garden this week. As I studied their garden layout, I imagined it must be as large as my parents' garden, although I might be remembering it through my little girl eyes. I also liked her comment that the whole family would be expected to do weeding, including Barack.

Laurel in her garden, Bountiful, Utah in 1978

When possible, I always sought to have a garden. I had a small garden in back of the detached garage when we were BYU students living in the basement of a house which bordered the garden of the Hugh B. Nibley family. Their garden was one to match that of my parents. Mine was small enough that I could mentally count each plant as I attempted an out of body experience during my first try at natural childbirth. My garden in Bountiful was fairly large and run across the whole backyard. Glen rented a sod cutter to cut me out a spot where I could plant my heart out. Utah summer gardens seem to grow at will. Gardening in Arizona has proven to be more of a challenge as I had to become seasonally adjusted over the years, planting a winter garden and a spring garden then resting during the hot hot summer. Here are a few shots of what caught my eye this morning.

Pomegranate blooms above the new garden gate.

Glen's golden coins which made it through last summer and are blooming again!

Glen's first lily of the year

Laurel's first day lily of the year

Don Juan climbing roses from under the arbor.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Coming up for air

We just returned from the doctor's appointment and the results of the CT scan. Glen feels like he came up for fresh air. I feel full of thanks to my Father in Heaven. I consider this a tender mercy and an answer to our prayers. Not only had the thumb size growth on Glen's kidney not grown any larger, it no longer had its own blood source. Thus, no need for surgery at the present time and it no longer appears cancerous. They will do another CT scan in a year to monitor things.

Glen feels like a dark cloud has lifted, one he has been been under since last August. As we entered the doctor's office this morning, we walked past a young man in a wheelchair, hair gone with the puffy face of one fighting cancer and his father following behind for support. I thought, "Oh please, don't let that be us in six months." It was so sobering and sad. And then Glen's doctor bounced into our examining room, "It's all GOOD news!" Good news that let Glen know he is back in the swim. I won't ever again make fun of him when he snorkels in the pool :)

Thank you everyone for your moral support and prayers as well!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some green for St. Pat

Today I'm cooking something that I have never fixed before, corned beef and cabbage. The veggies are simmering right now and I will soon add wedges cut from the above cabbage, cabbages that I grew myself!

Glen walked in and said that all I needed was a baby in the cabbage patch. The baby wasn't near, but her picture was. Doesn't Julianna look great in the cabbage patch?

Do you think that we could give Anne Geddes a run for her money?

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coleus up high

Remember the post where we had planted all of a Saturday and there were still tables of plants left? Forward a Saturday to Glen's planting marathon. He has been planning putting the coleus up high for some time. He purchased the posts, the baskets, wandered the yard trying to find the best location, bought out the coleus and sweet potato vines at A & P, and then recruited me.

By the time I exited the house in my favorite gardening hat, he had already set up planting central. Tables for plants - check, wagon of potting soil and amendments - check, buckets for mixing - check, water soaked sponges - check (a necessity for any in the sky planting in sunny dry Arizona), slow release fertilizer - check, and planting implements (including Laurel) - check.

We were a team. He mixed the soil for and planned each layer while I soaked and squeezed each little root ball before sliding each plant in its preordained hole. Glen almost forgot to take his before shots, so we had planted out one basket before fetching the camera.

Isn't it lovely? It will be fun to watch them slowly fill in. If they can make it past our forecasted heat wave this weekend, they should be beautiful.

Luckily, the selected location gets morning sun and afternoon shade, so that should help.

Here is an after shot taken on Sunday morning. You may find this hard to believe, but he planned it out very well. There was a plant for each hole with just one sweet potato vine left over. Amazing! Even more amazing is how many plants there were. Anyone care to take a guess?!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Newspaper Blues

After the birthday party at Sweet Cakes and the free concert of Irish music at MAC, Raymond and I took the long way back to the car. (Did you know that a drinking straw can be a clarinet, flute, or gun depending on the music playing or what aircraft is flying overhead? Even more impressive, those new "Cars" type Crocs can also be a violin.) We were checking out the bronze sculptures (no display of new sculptures this year - no funds - all this budget cutting can be overwhelming!) This bronze boy hawking the Tribune made me sad. While Raymond mimicked the poise, I thought about the demise of newspapers. So far this year we have subscribed to the Tribune, then added USA Today when it got thinner and thinner. Now we are back to the Arizona Republic, also getting thinner and thinner, that home delivery of the Tribune is no more. USA Today was part of our budget cutting. Will anyone else miss a paper with breakfast and the discussion which follows? It's more social and interesting than clicking around on the Internet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Janae!

Henry and Raymond sang the "Happy Birthday" song to their mother today after lunch at Sweet Cakes. It was before the sugar cookies with colorful sprinkles that we substituted for cake. The cookies made us all happy. Henry was already happy, he smiled at all the passersby through the window.

Rebecca Janae was born on the 70th birthday of the Girl Scouts who were formally organized on March 12, 1912. A Girl Scout Troop visited our home days after her birth to award Janae an honorary membership into Girl Scouts and a baby quilt which they had made in honor of both birthdays.

Years later we came across the birthplace of Juliette Low, who founded the Girl Scouts, while wandering the lovely streets of Savannah, Georgia. I demanded photos even though Janae had never taken advantage of the free membership. (Sorry to have caught you with your eyes closed.)

Juliette's home was lovely, as is she in this portrait, and it was purchased and restored by the Girl Scout organization in 1953.

Hopefully Janae has most of her babyhood pictures in the photo albums now in her possession. I found this one where I am holding her in front of our Midway home shortly after we moved from Bountiful. The upstairs window that you see was her bedroom window. I spent many moments sitting in my rocker in front of the window rocking my little girl and enjoying the beauty that is Midway.

We were soon in Arizona instead. Janae and David had accompanied me north for the 80th birthday of my Grandfather George in Idaho. We stopped first to visit and collect Grandma Velva. I love this picture of my mom with her grandkids. Janae had just turned "2" as Grandpa's birthday was on March 20th.

I have always been so grateful for "my only girl." There are many pictures like this one, stair step pictures with Janae as #4. I don't know how that felt for her, the only girl in a family of boys. I was the oldest of a family of girls with just one brother. I do know that she has brought joy to my life and that her spunky personality has kept me entertained over the years. Still does, check out her blog!

Happy Birthday Janae!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Flower and garden weekend

That is Glen looking through his new/old garden gate at the end of a potting marathon yesterday, but our flower and garden weekend really began on Friday afternoon when we attended the Southwest Flower and Garden Show at the Cardinals Stadium in Glendale. I had never been to the new stadium and Glen thought it was a good opportunity for me to see it. We enjoyed the walk and the plant displays. We bought books and food. What's new! We were excited to find these two books which are specific to our locale:

Month-by-Month Gardening in the Deserts of Arizona
by Mary Irish

Extreme Gardening, How to Grown Organic in the Hostile Deserts
by Dave Owens

You are welcome to borrow them if interested. As for the food, we cooked for the missionaries last night and they had Red Lobster type cheesy biscuits with their steaks. We purchased the mixes and seasonings at a booth at the fair and baked them in our new drop biscuit Lodge cast iron pans. Yummy!

This is what Glen was potting yesterday, his dwarf citrus trees. The old basketball court has officially been retired. Now we have more room for container gardening. He was expressing his gratitude that he had been unable to find a basketball standard that fit the mounting holes of the old one years ago.

This was my project, I planted out two of these colorful pots. I had managed to revive the lime green coleus in the green house, my sometimes plant hospital.

After working hard, this was what did not get planted. Glen has big plans. I can't wait to see the finished product.

On the way home from the stadium, we stopped at Tempe Marketplace so I could check out the paper lantern covers at the World Market. Since the Nate & Nichelle fiestas with paper lanterns, I have been smitten. Aren't these lovely with the leaf design. The fiesta was across the back fence this weekend. The neighbors strung lights and had a party, so the missionaries had music and happy voices to accompany their steak dinner.

By the way, mashed potatoes are so fast and easy in the new multicooker (electric pressure cooker.) I peeled and quartered the potatoes ( a dozen), added 3 inches of water and they were done in 10 minutes (with no minding the pot which will still boil over which means you also have to clean the stove.) I mashed them right in the removable cooking pot. I didn't read the directions carefully, so hadn't drained off the water. I added the milk and knew I was in trouble, so I just hit the brown button, brought it to a barely boil again and added a package of instant garlic mashed potatoes. Problem solved. I roasted the garlic cloves wrapped in foil with olive oil in the oven as I baked the biscuits. Please share your ideas, successes, etc., when using your pots so we can use them for more than rice and beans. Check out Emilia's success with corn on the cob on her blog.

Have a great week and keep Glen in your prayers. CT Scan #2 is tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Welcoming garden gate

Andrew and Glen have been busy. Andrew has built the beautiful garden gate entrance to the backyard which also provides support for the pomegranate tree that Glen has been envisioning for years. We kept the old gate because it has "old age character" just like us. We do plan on giving it another coat of matching stain.

(Children, how many times do you think you have stained, water sealed, etc., this gate?)

Doesn't it beckon you to come on in?!

This was a before picture that I found from a year ago.

Thank you Andrew!