Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
fall planting diagram
It seemed like everything I planted this fall was just disappearing into the dirt and I had no idea what was down there. I bought more bulbs than usual this year (partly because of a memory lapse of mine). So I went ahead and made a diagram. Today I finished up the plan and then went out to plant a few more of the bulbs (in their pre-planned locations!) and I realized that it is now more pleasant to work inside on the diagram than to go out in the cold and wind and work in the garden. The diagram was alot of work and I don't know if its worth the time in the long run to plan. I appreciated articles on Voices recently regarding planning. My planning may even be shorter lived than Rumsfield's, which some say was effective for about 3 weeks (though I think my objectives are for a better purpose).
Saturday, October 28, 2006
pretty in pink
Friday, October 27, 2006
what kind of dog is he?
"Oh, is that a Portuguese water spaniel?" "Looks like a Spanish water dog." "But Portuguese water dogs have much curlier fur." I get all sorts of questions at the park. I've never heard of a Portuguese water spaniel or a Spanish water dog. So I looked them up this morning.
I can't find any mention on Google about a "Portuguese water spaniel", though I think the name is being used interchangably with Portuguese water dog. There's an American water spaniel, an Irish water spaniel, a Dutch water spaniel and a French water spaniel (Barbet). Listed as water dogs are: Portuguese water dog, Spanish water dog and Romagna (Italian) water dog. All of European ones are fairly similar curly-coated water retreivers that share characteristics with poodles. (American water spaniel origins seem to be different.) I like the pictures and descriptions below so I've copied them here:
Spanish water dog: A little smaller than a PWD: 26- 44 lbs. 15"-19.5". Always curly, and of a wooly texture. Can form big cords when long. They should never be brushed or combed to allow the natural cords to form. Colors are white, black and chestnut in their different shades, solid or bi-colored. Picture link. The SWD is primarily a herding dog. Most recently it is being employed by the Spanish Government as a bomb and drug detection dog as well as a rescue dog.
Romagna water dog: A small-medium sized dog. Coat is dense and curly, of woolly texture. Color is white, brown or orange, solid or bi-colored. Over centuries, as the marshland habitat of this dog was drained, the breed's unique aptitude for searching for truffles became apparent. It has become very efficient at locating truffles, which is it's modern function. It is the only breed with this aptitude. (I wonder how they do with chocolate truffles!) Picture link.
History: It seems like the Spanish, Portuguese and Romagna water dogs have a common origin. They are an ancient breeds whose exact origins are not precisely known. One theory suggests that the dogs’ ancestor was a wooly-coated dog that originated in North Africa and were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors during their occupation (710-1036). Or they might have come with the barbarians from Asia. By 1100 a wooly-coated shepherd dog existed throughout the Iberian Peninsula and was primarily used to herd goats, sheep and other livestock. They also worked at game and waterfowl retrieving, and as assistants to fishermen.
Portuguese water dog: (I love this description from the PWD club of America site.) Known for centuries along Portugal's coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day's work. The PWD is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion and alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed has two coat types, curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The PWD provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness. (Wow! An awesome dog! That's my Skippy!)
Thursday, October 26, 2006
i think this is a mum
Well, I guess I must have planted this, but I don't remember. It surprised me last week with these frilly purply pink blossoms. I like the way mums "naturalize" in my garden. They come back taller and weave in with the other plants looking like they belong - rather than the tight mounds of freshly bought plants.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
walk in cleaveland farm state forest
Skippy and I went for a long walk today in Cleaveland Farm in Rowley MA. A cool bright day. The leaves are beautiful. I have read that this year there is a bumper crop of acorns. It is also a great year for oak leaf colors. I don't remember oaks with so many different colors. Reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Unfortunately it also seems to be a bumper year for ticks. (I think for the same reason as the acorns - it was a mild winter and lots of rainfall this summer.) We have been doing lots of "tick-checks" of Skip, who kind-of enjoys this extra attention, I think. We found at least 5 or 6 little ones.
Friday, October 20, 2006
planting fall bulbs
A couple of weekends ago I started planting my fall bulbs. I thought I'd get them all in, but it turned out to be a bigger job thn I realized. I planted 75 bulbs in my front and side yard and then decided to take a break and do the rest next weekend. I thought I'd wait to post this until I finished planting the all bulbs, but I'm not getting to it very fast. The rest are still sitting in bags. Hopefully I'll finish this weekend.
To plant the bulbs I did like I've seen my dad do. (he's a Dutchman who was in the bulb import and gardening business - and pretty good at planting bulbs. In past years I guess he has planted mine for me, so that's why I thought it was easier .... ) Anyway, I laid the bulbs in the grass next to where I wanted to plant them. I set out piles of the number and type I wanted to plant. Then I drove the shovel in to a good 8 inches, lifted it to the side an inch, then slipped in 2 bulbs per shovel. I repeated this to plant a nice clump of 5-8 bulbs. (I've also seen my dad scatter handfuls of bulbs and then plant them where they fell for a natural scattered look.)
I also realized that I was unable to remember what I was planting where. So I decided to put together a garden plan. I diagrammed my whole yard, front and back, using a combination of powerpoint and handdrawing. I figure this may be useful for other plantings. Its on the computer, so I can reuse it in future years by deleting this years bulbs.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
These coleus and salvia are in pots next to my back patio. They will be one of the first to go with the first light frost we get. Some years I have taken cuttings of the coleus and potted them up. I just stick a short (3-5 inch) piece of the growing tip of the plant into dirt and water it well. Most cuttings sprout roots. They do well over the winter in a sunny window. By spring they are a foot tall, bushy, and perfect for planting out. I don't think I'll do that this year. Its really pretty easy to buy nice varieties as plants in the spring and skip the effort and save the space over the winter. But, in past years, it was nice to feel that I was bringing a part of my garden inside and saving it through the winter.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
small white aster
Friday, October 13, 2006
Pumkins on my front steps
Since my garden didn't grow any pumpkins I bought several, as well as a little scarecrow. This is my front doorway decorated for autumn. The squirrels usually find my pumkins after a couple of weeks. I figure they'll eventually just give the two on the posts a little push and they won't even have to chew through the rind.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Skippy sits on the steps
This is how Skippy likes to sit. On the steps like me. He sits and watches us grill or garden. Such a silly puppy.
Today I brought him to see his veterinarian. She said his ears look good. The infection has cleared up well. So that was good news. She gave me some instuction on washing out his ear canal, which I will do if the outer ear looks dirty. She also filled out his form for therapy work, so we're all set for our evaluation in December. She said his ears look good, his diet seems good, he looks good. Its nice to have a healthy puppy!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Orchids moved indoors
Our nights have cooled off and are regularly below 50, so last weekend I moved all my orchids indoors. I have a big metal plant stand that I collected all my orchids onto. I put the stand in a sunny south-facing window. Its next to my fish tank, so it can share their light and humidity. The orchids have done well outdoors over the summer (though only one of about 4 dendrobiums bloomed). The winter is the difficult season for them. They are on the edge of drying out all season. I am not good at remembering to water/mist. I am hoping a few cattleyas will bloom. I have one that always blooms, some that used to bloom but haven't recently, and some that I've never seen bloom. I will have to remember to fertilize them again soon. Though orchids should be fertilized weakly weekly, I rarely remember to fertilize - maybe 3 or 4 times a year. Well, I've also heard that orchids prefer neglect to overcare. Still outdoors are my ficus and citrus trees and my Christmas cactus. They'll come in when we get frost warnings. I think the cold air is good at removing any bugs that were on them.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Dinner on the patio
A perfect ending to a beautiful day. Our weather here this Columbus Day weekend has been just great. Clear skies, highs in the 70's, upper 40s at night. This dinner included grilled steak, pesto on pasta and tomatoes with fresh mozarella cheese and basil. I also continued my quest to find the perfect garden vege to dress-up a martini. Tonight's version had a very hot sweet banana pepper wrapped around a cocktail onion. I highly recommend it! Marinating the hot pepper in gin must have cooled it off because it didn't seem too hot at all - just right. (Or maybe it was more the gin numbing my taste buds... whatever....)
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Walk at Willard's Wood
Today was one of those awesome fall days in New England. Skippy's walk ended up being close to 3 hours. He went swimming several times, played in the mud, rolled in all sorts of things and just generally had a great time. I was in awe of all the colors and the beautiful air. I suppose our color is at about peak here this weekend. The browns and golds and yellows are just so nice. Especially against a clear blue sky.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Today I followed a group of four therapy dogs (and their very attentive handlers) from Caring Canines as they visited a group of elderly residents at a nursing home. First the dogs took care of their business, then did a 10 minute meet-and-greet where they gleefully barked, sniffed and generally said "hi" to each other. Quickly they were down to business. As a working pack, they went to a meeting room where about 15 elders waited to see them. After brief introductions by the handlers and a few tricks by some of the dogs, the dogs all went around the room and visited with each of the residents. Many of the residents knew the dogs, as they visit about monthly at this site. Small dogs sat in laps, large dogs on the floor. Elders patted the dogs and talked with the handlers and each other about the dogs, dogs they once had, and all sorts of topics. The visit was about 45 minutes of very focused attention by all on the dogs. It was obviously an event the elders had looked forward to.
I am hoping that Skippy and I can participate in a therapy dog group some day. I think Skip will need to work on being calm with all that attention. He'll have to resist the urge to jump up and grab all the snuggles he can get. Half of this will be my direction, half is him being more used to similar situations. Skip and I are now signed up for an evaluation, which will probably be in December or January.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
A pair of white-crowned sparrows hopped around my backyard and all day today. They made the nicest soft chirping sound. I enjoyed listening to them as I worked at my computer by the open window. I was pleased to get a somewhat clear photo of the male. A pair of white-crowned sparrows often winters in my yard. They just arrived here a day or two ago.
Skippy and I "applied" for a pet therapy job today. We'll see if we get hired. I told them that Skippy is a real good snuggler! A 50 pound lap dog. We applied to Caring Canines, Visiting Therapy Dogs, Inc., a Boston area pet therapy program.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Wood ducks through a scope
This picture is a little old, but one of my favorites. On Labor Day weekend, Skippy, my parents and I took a walk to an out of the way pond. While Skippy explored, my Dad set up his scope and we looked for the ducks. Sad and disappointed after finding none, we packed up to leave. And just then a group of about a dozen ducks flew down. We got a great view of them. The males were still in their breeding plummage. Beautiful! I was amazed that my point-and-shoot camera could see them at all through the scope.
As always, I like to look things up: Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) are found in forested wetlands and nest in tree cavities. They are considered by many to be the most beautiful of all water fowl. They were hunted nearly to extinction in the early 1900's, but have recovered well and there are now well over a million in North America.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Dew on the grass
I was surprised to read that Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a native New England vine that is not considered invasive in our region. Its leaves are among the first to turn red and orange in the fall. These leaves were glowing with the sunlight reflecting off the water behind them.