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Ok, first of all ~ no snippy comments from the peanut gallery on how long it's been since I've posted in my blog. But if you look at the entry before this one ..... well, it was just SO hard. Better now that we have Bailey. But I digress ......
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this topic. At our Master Gardeners' meeting today, everything was humming along nicely until someone (could it have been me?) brought up the subject of Tater Day. For those of you not in the know (and that would probably be ALL of you), Tater Day is a 160+ year tradition that falls on the first Monday in April. It was originally intended for farmers to come from far and wide to trade sweet tater cuttings and general merchandise. It has since been taken over by the city of Benton, KY and has deteriorated into a carnival/parade/flea market/free for all. Think bad tube tops and corn dogs. So all that being said, some of us that are locals only recently (5 years or less) started making some teasing comments and one of the serious locals (lifer) took offense. And I mean he REALLY got upset to the point that he dropped the "F" bomb in mixed (gardener) company. So who is wrong? As usual, I can see both sides (although I do recall making a comment about three teeth:). Is a local automatically entitled to be the authority on all things traditional? Is the newcomer trying to wrest control of the entire county away from the locals and turn it into Lambeau Field? Can't we all just get along?
You know, I recall a little birdie on GG that told me there was going to be no end to disagreements in group atmospheres and that INCLUDES Master Gardeners, and at the time I just couldn't credit it. Well, as usual, that little birdie was right! Thanks for the warning, YG!!
To all of you, for listening. I am leaving now to take Sindee for her last ride. Please hold me in your thoughts this morning. I know you have all been there too, so it helps to tell you about it. This is SO not easy, but she is almost 17 years old and I don't think she has had a happy day since we lost KeyWee three months ago. Twice in one year is rough, but I have to do this. This will be our first time without a pet for 18 years. I feel lost.
Three hours later ~ ok, she's with her sister now. Thank you ALL SO MUCH for your kind words. You can't know how much it helps. I am hugging you all in my mind. I will be alright ~ someday:)
He flew into my workshop (door open, red hanger, bad me), got tired, and then expired ~ well, almost. Mark picked his completely weightless body up and brought him to me where I was dutifully reclined on the front porch. His tiny bead-eyes blinked open and closed sooooo slowly and his little cottonball chest moved slightly. I felt like an oaf cradling his fragile form ~ like holding one of those spun glass ornaments that ALWAYS break no matter what you do. I reached for the nearest feeder and sat down with the little guy in my lap ~ what to do?? Let's try to get him to drink. Ever so carefully, I placed the feeder on my lap next to his head and directed that little needle beak into position ~ nothing. I let him rest a minute or two and tried again ...... did I see his throat move? Yes!!!
After a few sips and some more resting, he started to become aware of his surroundings. Uh-oh ...... who IS that big oaf that's got ahold of me? Now he's going to try flying but is definitely not ready. A couple of failed attempts (one that had him clinging to the front of my t-shirt just under my chin) and I thought about moving to lower ground. So, I carefully moved the entire operation to the front lawn where he could fall on the soft grass if need be. More attempts but no cigar. More nectar and more resting. Suddenly, an idea ........ placed him into the bottom tendrils of my moonflower vine and found him a good place to park, feeder right there next to him. Now I wait.
After the longest half hour of my life remaining perfectly still (I am not good at that) and losing around 15 pounds in the boiling hot sun (hey, he was parked under a shady vine) I thought about dashing into the house for just a second. In and out ......... he's still there, eyes closed, snoring lightly (ok, not really). Bending down to get a closer look, he shot right past my nose and into the highest tree. Prognosis ~ positive.
Epilogue ~ now every time I see a male hummingbird, it's just got to be him. None of them land on my chest though.
No ~ I am still and always will be "KeyWee" and I will wear the name proudly. But the reason for me being KeyWee has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. My little gray puffball has gone on to greatness. I always believed she came back just for me anyway, and she did a damn good job of it. She was my heart and I will miss her SO much, but that is selfishness on my part. Her almost 18 year old body was just plain wore out.
Anyone who tells you how quick, easy and painless this will be is full of baloney. It was the hardest two seconds of my life. At less than four pounds, she was gone in an instant. But the week of preparing myself mentally and emotionally is something I don't care to repeat ~ and I will HAVE to ~ Sindee is over 16 and heading in the same direction Give me strength.
So I feel like I have bled out through the eyes today. But I promised I wouldn't let her go it alone and I fulfilled that last promise. I wouldn't trade the years we had together for anything, even if I had known it would end like this.
ETA ~ KeyWee was my half Yorkie half tea cup poodle. You can see her picture in the GG photo gallery "Pets" forum. Scroll down to the thread "The Real Keywee". Hey, Keeyers, hope you found your "bunny".
Ok, well sometimes I can't sleep. It could be (no, really??) the menopausal thing ~ hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety ~ the fun never ends. So I need some head games to play while I wait for that short little snore that leads me back to the land of nod.
Let me see ........ can I name all the plants in my landscape? Starting with "A" (and cheating by using both common and botanical names) I try to find a plant that I own for each letter of the alphabet. Come to find out, that from azalea to zinnia, I have EVERY single letter covered, except (you guessed it) "X". In fact, some letters have more than one entry. So either I have too many plants or I have too many plants:
Queen of the Prairie
To name a few. Who else can play this game? I am willing to bet there are a lot of you that have the alphabet covered more than once. O is for obsession.
Oh I am a nasty bad blogger ~ no entries since December of last year. Some of my thoughts seem way too unexciting to even take the time to put into print.
That brings about the topic of "goals". Unfortunately, where I work we are required to attend a monthly video conference with the Home Office (affectionately known as the HO). It seems to be the purpose of these conferences to either a) make the HO seem all warm and fuzzy with the lowly State Office Secretaries or b) put me into a coma ~ whichever occurs first. This week's topic (you guessed it) "goals".
Needless to say, us office gals have pounded this topic into a lump of bad bread dough. First, we attempt to reason WHY they want to know ~ what is the purpose behind the questions AND what type of answers do they expect to hear. Then we try to come up with a reasonable goal (sure as heck better be work-related, right?). Let's come right out and say that after 35 years in an office, I no longer have (or do I bother with) any work-related goals. If I still needed to reach a goal to do my job, I would say that ship has sailed. Either that or I have had some pretty clueless supervisors.
So ..... my goal is not work-related. It has more to do with vigilance in the garden than in the workplace. And since I have to spend more time at work than I do in the garden, my goal is more difficult to reach and maintain.
It is apparent, I am a "hands-on" kind of person and I don't appreciate lofty speeches and theoretical discussion when I could be "doing". Doing what? Almost anything besides cooling my heels over a video conference based on the unlikely occurrence that any of this increases productivity. Give us a raise for crying out loud. We are a tad past the pep rally stage.
Tell you what ~ I am going to stick my neck out and question authority ~ been a habit of mine since 1970 or so. Since it is a sad fact that these conferences result in very little feedback, i'm going to be the one to start. Wish me luck.
Thanks for all the comments! I was really using the blog as a sounding board to help clear my thoughts before making a complete fool-of-self in public.
Yeah, I would retire but the money is nice (the lottery would be nicer!). Yeah, I guess they could fire me but I planned to be really polite and well-thought-out. And yeah, again, Carolyn ~ the staples of life, the really important stuff! Thanks to all for being my "ears".
UPDATE ~ drat, tricked again. The goal was a thinly veiled attempt to get US, yes us as in office secretaries, to make a goal of recruiting and building our sales force. What a ............. oh, good grief. It's always all about money ~ too bad they don't share more.
Picture it ~ a crisp December morning just before sunrise. The eastern sky tinged pink and gold, the winds still. An out-of-the-way church parking lot in Marshall County Kentucky quickly fills with vehicles and groups gather here and there to murmur puffs of white breath into the silent morning. It's a myriad of characters ~ mostly aging hippies like me, I suspect. Eyes search the sky for signs of UltraLite planes. Cameras and binoculars are at the ready. Yes, after a half-hour wait ~ THERE!!! On the northern horizon, three UltraLite planes, a guide plane, and the distinctive "V" formation of ...... but wait, thirteen cranes, there are supposed to be fourteen. Ah, there he is ~ one straggler, following the last UltraLite like a small soaring tail light. For a few seconds, stunned silence as everyone takes in the splendor of the scene, then cheers, applause, tears.
This is an Operation Migration flyover viewing ~ led by an organization that has taken on the mind-boggling responsibility of making certain that yet another endangered species does not disappear before its time. There is so much more to this endeavor than meets the eye in a five-minute flyover. If you take the time to view their website, you will see what a labor of love this truly is. So much is involved that I will not write it out here in my blog, when they have done a beautiful job with the website.
Certainly take the time to look at the field journal and see if you are on the migration path and can take the opportunity to view a flyover. Trust me, I am not a crazed tree-hugger and have never heard of this organization until this week. It is a truly memorable experience and puts a load of perspective on your life that you may not even have known was there.
There weren't many dry eyes in that cornfield this morning, and none of us could quite explain that feeling. For myself, I believe it was true happiness at seeing that kind of freedom and commitment up close. Thank you, OM!
I have found that it does me precious little good to spout off botanical plant names if the only response I am going to get is the blank stare of death. Now don't get me wrong ~ do I know all the botanical names for even half the plants in my garden? Heck, no. Do I know a few? Yeah, maybe.
Some of the best gardeners I come in contact with (you know the ones where your eyeballs fall out on the ground when you see their yard) have no clue as to the true names of plants. Nor do they care. But ask them how the plant performs, when it blooms, if it self-seeds, spreads or does other strange planty things, and they know.
Since moving to another gardening zone, I have heard it all. It sometimes takes three and even four tries to figure out what plant is being discussed unless you're standing right on top of it. And even then a disagreement can arise. So what do I do? I cave. "No, you're right ~ it's a yellow rose of Texas, a naked lady, a snow-on-the-mountain." Whatever great grandma called it, we're going with that. Because in the long run, the name is meaningless, if you can't learn something about the plant (and get a start of it from the owner!).
It's great to know the "real" name if you're doing research and that's what the internet is good for. Then again, some gardeners I know don't even bother with that.
What's in a name? Everything and nothing ~ depending on your perspective. Me ~ I'm after that free plant, I don't care what you call it.
In two words ............ I passed!!!!
Whew ~ what a relief, I was sooooo nervous. But not only did I pass, I ACED it!! Yay, me. Now trust me, I will probably not remember half of what I had to know to pass this thing, but the point is that my brain still works ~ who knew?
The exam was about 10 pages, 120 questions ~ but you were allowed to skip questions if you were unsure. There were some extra credit questions at the end, but since most of these were (?) KY Sports related (I think they were supposed to be a joke) I didn't know any of them. Basketball coaches??? Please ............
So to those of you who held on to those good thoughts for me and this test, a big THANK YOU for your confidence. All in all, I am SO glad I took this class, held out to the bitter end, and made it through the exam. Don't you think I'm a better person for it??
Well who woulda thunk it??! The illustrious State of Kentucky does a pretty durn good job of attempting to keep everyone informed, IF you know where to look. This state's college of agriculture website is an endless wealth of information, not only for the horticulturists and master gardeners among us, but for the simple Joe Gardener just searching for answers. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed.
So now, if someone asks me a question and I don't have the answer (more often than not), I know exactly where to tell them to go. So if anyone cares to take a peek, it's www.ca.uky.edu. The information there will be most pertinent to the west Kentucky zone, soil chemistry, weather conditions, etc. There is also a comprehensive weather link that is practically minute-by-minute. Pretty cool.
All of this makes me wonder just HOW in the heck anyone gets along without the internet anymore? Is it bizarre behavior that I check certain favorite sites FIRST thing in the morning ~ sometimes even BEFORE coffee. Heavens, what kind of lunacy is that??! Please understand, I am FAR from being a technical or electronic wizard of any description, but I simply have WAY too much fun on here.
Ok ~ I hijacked myownself. If you have nothing better to do this week, please, please, PLEASE send up a good thought for me for Thursday's Master Gardener final exam. Methinks I am making much too big of a deal of this but test-taking has fallen way down on my you-have-got-to-do-this list. At my age, it's very hard to pretend to be a pimply, scrawny, test-anxious teenager again. Same chance as me sqeezing into hip huggers and a tube top.
And soil chemistry ~ probably one of the most important classes of all in the series. If you know your soil composition and what is has and what it lacks, you are definitely in business. Plants need nutrients to grow, thrive and repel pests and disease. Bottom line ~ get your soil tested. Have I had my soil tested? No. Will I have it tested now? Yes. This little step can make all the difference in how your plants will perform.
OK ~ I am off of my soapbox for the week. Now can I bend your ears about this week's news? Gonna make this S&S (short and sweet). We had to say a final goodbye to our red doberman (Toby) this week. And at the age of only eight years, this was a really "sucky" thing to have to do (for lack of a better word ~ that's how we feel). Her back legs have been bad for a few years due to some torn and irreparable tendons. Well, last Friday night she did it again (that dang stray cat led her on). Spent all last weekend trying to haul her 97 pounds around ~ she had all she could do to get up. The saddest thing I have ever seen was her out in the yard, laying on the lawn because she KNEW the steps were just too much for her. Needless to say, Monday's visit to the vet was all bad news ~ nothing to be done. What's more, the vet said that Toby was hiding the worst of the pain as only dogs can do. Mark took her in, so when I got home from work ~ no Toby.
Dang ~ sucky.
And IPM (Integrated Pest Management). That means that some genius will introduce eighty billion Asian beetles into your area to eat aphids ~ which works fine. Just one teensy-weensy little problem. The Asian beetles have NO natural enemy. Well guess what? The aphid problem is solved but now there's an Asian beetle problem. Ack ~ the system needs a little fine tuning.
Kudzu is another example. Oh, it's soooo pretty. Gee, it grows easily and *oh, wait* really, really fast (where did you park the car honey?). Introduced here by another genius for its ornamental qualities, it now covers millions of acres south of the Ohio River (oh, guess what again? ~ it's been seen north of the Ohio now too). It also harbors soybean rust, which is not a good thing either. But hey, I like kudzu and have often considered planting some ~ maybe.
Once again, today's MG instructor was the soul of wit. It's my firm belief that funny stuff is easier to remember. He also managed to take the edge off of standing in the garden center and trying to decipher the thousands of bottles, bags, and boxes of pesticides that you have to choose from when problems arrive. Bottom line ~ read, read, read the label, and he means ALL of it.
Something tells me that it's Fall. Today was productive in the Fall clean-up category. Plus, the 9-1/2" of rain we received over the past week made many jobs so much easier. I even took the time to organize my workshop, hang basil to dry, sort all my pots according to size, and neaten up my compost pile.
I think tonight calls for a nice warm pot of jambalaya ~ you with me??
Our Master Gardener class took a field trip to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee. GO if you get the chance. There is something for everyone.
Not being a big city fan, getting through Nashville was the hardest part of the day, and I wasn't even driving. But it was worth the traffic jam headaches.
Cheekwood was built in the 1930's as a country estate by the Cheek family (her maiden name was Wood). Being founders of the Maxwell House Coffee concern, money wasn't an issue. So wouldn't you build a four-storey 30,000 square foot limestone albatross with 30' ceilings and a wisteria arbor big enough to park a semi in?? Not to mention that the lady of the house was obsessed with water (didn't get enough coffee, I guess) so there are ponds, reflecting pools, fountains, manmade babbling brooks and waterfalls, grottos, if it could hold water, they built it. Surrounded by 55 acres of gardens and paths, with spectacular views from every single window, it's hard to imagine ever living in such a place for a small potato like me.
Since we only spent part of the day at Cheekwood (two hour drive each way) we didn't see it all. They have at least 14 individual types of gardens and a mile-long sculpture walk. The Japanese-style garden has an unbelievable bamboo corridor that puts you in a completely different world. Each and every garden has a theme and is designed to look good from every viewpoint (just like my yard, yeah ~ right). A lot of money goes a l-o-n-g way.
The mansion is no longer used as a residence but was donated to the community by the Cheekwood family in 1960. So now the house is an art museum. They were currently displaying a collection of Faberge eggs. Knick knacks not being my cup of tea, but still impressive.
So if you get the chance and are in the Nashville area, do go. The gardens were still awesome in October, so can you picture June? The $10 price of admission is worth the experience. Oh, and all plants are labeled ~ there were a LOT I didn't recognize (Zone 7).
SO ........ only four more MG classes to go. Big test on 11/15 ~ wish me luck!!
Conflict? What conflict?? We ain't got no steeeenkin' conflict!!! Then why-o-why were we subjected to an hour-long lecture on how to deal with conflict in human relations? Gardening and WHAT??
Now I realize that the program is new in our area, but I am still puzzling over what gardening and conflict have in common. My only issues are with weeds and grass, oh ~ and Japanese beetles ~ now THAT'S conflict. So what did I learn? How to deal with an angry Master Gardener who got left off of the tour bus.
Well, here I go sounding negative again, and that is entirely NOT my intent. I am really meaning to be funny and I always love to look at the humorous side of things. Sometimes that involves making presentations appear silly, but in truth, the talk was very informative and reminded me a lot of real life. Although I have little to no conflict in my life (not because I strive to avoid it, but simply because I don't care what people do) the whole speech made me feel sorry for people who have to deal with it on a daily basis. My hat is off to those of you conflict-dealers and I hope digging in the dirt soothes your soul.
Speaking of presentations, today was the day. We each had to give a five-minute talk on a topic inspired by an extension office brochure. I chose hummingbirds. Since my nickname is "Machine-Gun Kelly" (for my 90mph speech pattern), I couldn't figure out how for the life of me I was going to fill up five whole minutes. In seventh grade, I was required to repeat an entire speech (tres humiliation) because the teacher said I spoke so fast, no one got a word out of it. With this ages-old lesson in mind, I made an attempt to s-p-e-a-k v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y and DING ~ the bell went off before I even finished my thoughts. Whew ~ glad that's over with because it was a mandatory part of the course.
In other news ~ it's COLD!! Nights are heading into the 40's and days are still in the 70's. Great fall clean up weather. The hummers are gone for the year (sob) so feeders are down, cleaned and stored. Time for the Canfield Experimental Garden site preparation. Every fall, I prepare a new bed and plant ALL the seeds that I have received in swaps with you-all and others. Seeds that I want to overwinter outdoors are planted and labelled, and in the spring ............ can't wait!!!
Oh boy howdy, this was (and I am being polite here) dull.
To give credit where it is due, the instructor is famous for his work in plant pathology ~ one of the nation's best in fact. But that doesn't make every brown spot on every piece of fruit an exciting adventure. Poor man ~ he was SO enthusiastic. At many points, it was all he could do to move on to the next slide because the one at hand was just so chock-full of dazzling potential. As much as I hate to say that if you've seen one brown spot, you've seen them all, that's what it was beginning to feel like after three solid hours of brown spots.
Given the mind-numbing white noise of this topic, this girl is determined to learn at least the basics. How else will I be able to help those poor pest-ridden gardeners of Marshall County? They are depending on me to get them through the worst of it. Unfortunately, the answer and cure to many, many icky-looking diseases with urpy-sounding names like gall, blight and rot, is to simply get rid of the infected plant and start anew. Not what the home gardener wants to hear. Another deeply held secret is to not buy sickly looking plants in the first place (guilty).
Of some interest to all you gardeners will be the world-famous "disease triangle". The more I thought about this neat little object, the more I can see the sense in it. In short, you cannot and will not have disease on plants without the three "legs" of the triangle: 1) a susceptible host, 2) a pathogen, 3) the proper environment. If you have all three of these, someone's going down. But if even one is missing, you are winning the war. There now, don't you feel all smart and stuff?!
So despite my drooping eyelids and a class that exceeded its 3-hour limit, I feel like a stray thread of information may have worked its way into my already-crammed mind. Like I mentioned to a fellow student, at this stage of the game, I adhere to selective learning (as in only what I have an interest in), almost as if my mind knows that it doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of time to deal with knowledge it doesn't want and won't use.
Oh ~ I did learn one thing that I absolutely refuse to agree with and probably won't practice. Don't save and/or swap seeds ~ NOT!!! According to the pros, they can spread disease far and wide. That's like saying don't go to Walmart in case you get a cold. Saving seeds, swapping and trading both plants and seeds is one of my greatest joys and I refuse to give that up. It's a risk I'm willing to take ~ sue me.
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