June 17, 2009

Cactus Crazy 2009

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 10:15 am by czygyny

cacti_2009A

They are at it again! My cacti garden is bursting with blooms!

MyFirstEchinopsis

Here is the one that started the Echinopsis collection, tentatively identified as ‘Stars and Stripes’.

Pink&red

A nice combo of pink and Schick hybrid  ‘Hot Lips’ red.

PalePeachyPink

This one, I call ‘Pale Peachy Pink’, is a creation of my very own! It can take many years to get from seed to blooming plant.

PeachyPink

Not too sure, but I think this is another of my creations. I am not a good records keeper, much to my detriment.

Lemony

This yellow beauty came from Home Depot. It has a light citrus fragrance.

Pink

This is another of my seedlings. It differs somewhat from the original parent “Stars and Stripes’.

Icarus

Here is another Schick hybrid, ‘Oracle’, an electric fuchsia and red combination I so love in cacti flowers.

Opuntia_Santa_Rosita

Not just Echinopsis are in bloom. This Opuntia Santa-Rita looks like a color pumped image, but its delicate purple and blue colorings and its light yellow blooms look great against the backdrop of a purple variegated barberry.

Astrophytum

Lastly is this sea urchin lookalike, Astrophytum. Its very pale yellow flowers with their red rings look like eyes looking back at you.

Only lasting a day in most cases, these cacti flowers are worth rushing out in the early morning to drink up their incredible and fleeting beauty, and they live through my colder than Redding winter temperatures, with the added bonus of not needing much water in the summer, but they do need afternoon shade.

If you would like to try your hand at these beautiful Echinopsis cacti, take a look at these beauties!:

http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/Schick/catalogindex.html

April 9, 2008

The ‘sweetest of springs’, continued

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:26 am by czygyny

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I’ve been wonderfully busy with my garden these last few day. The rock borders have to be pulled out and reset, thanks to the phalanx of gophers and moles that invade my borders. This year I sprinkled ‘Mole-Max’ underneath the rocks as placed them, and poison bait at intervals for gophers. The bait is the most effective means I have found for control of gophers in the yard, but the most hazardous, so I use it with caution.

I’ve been out and about with my camera, as you can see, here are a few images to share:

Below is another miniature dwarf bearded iris. It has the yummy appearance of lemon meringue pie!

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Wood hyacinths with a phlox background.

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Striking red tulips

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Apple blossoms

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The sky-blue MDBI in my rock garden

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My ‘bonus’ bulbs, Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’ from a Breck’s double daffodil collection.

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The sturdy and striking Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ . These flowers almost qualify for my ‘Thug Garden’, the penal colony for aggressive and overpowering plants. I pull up a lot of these every year, but I leave some where they are, since they go well with my Dianthus pinks (seen in the background) that grow nearby.

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And, last but not least, my favorite little ceramic lamb amongst golden Sedum. She is a flea market find. The kids laughed and called her ugly, but I think she looks quite happy in her little patch of plants.

 

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It is another fine day for working outside, I hope to finish up the area down the driveway, and then it is just one more strip to weed and my front yard is done!

Then I need to get started on my veggie garden, because I have been invited to write a column about growing edible plants for Doni’s website! That will mean that my veggie garden will have to be every bit as tidy and eye catching as my yard! It is still too cold to plant, it was 30° this morning, but it won’t be long. We have already purchased some of the tomato and pepper plants. Time to bring out the seed boxes, too. I have lots of seeds, with more on order.

Happy growing!

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February 10, 2008

Learning to take it a day at a time.

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:10 pm by czygyny

bug-enjoys-her-solitude02.jpg

Well, my scanner isn’t the greatest, the vignette at the top and bottom is a bit cheesy, but that’s what I get for not shopping smarter. It’ll work for now.

I sat down to paint this picture with rocks in mind. I forgot to bring home the image I wanted to use as a guide, so I just sketched a bit and started painting. It isn’t a very large image, about 5″ x 7″ or so. The little child sitting absorbed in the scenery is a very young version of the woman in the previous illustration. She’s something of a wild-child with odd abilities she doesn’t quite understand. I put her sitting there, enjoying the sound of the water and  the smell of the forest .

Just what I would like to do.

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Today has been a wonderful early February day. It was almost 70° today, wispy cirrus graduating to a high overcast that softened the shadows in the gardens. The robins are here, blessing us with an occasional sweet song. Meadowlarks are polishing up their lady-wooing music. Those vermin, those English sparrows are chattering away-brigands who chase away my phoebes from their mud nests. Starlings are high up in the trees doing their stand-up comic routine. If you are good at listening, you will hear them imitate frogs, ground squirrels, red-tail hawks, even squeaky doors.

I had the pleasure of working in my garden today. I divided up my strawberry plants and made another 30 foot row. The whole vegetable garden area, all 40′ x 70′ of it has been tilled, now comes the time to plan and plant. The stevia and the yacon both seem to have made it through the cold weather. I have started seeds for the stevia, that natural sweetener. I hope to sell them when they are big enough. Most of that garden is bare and awaiting the next season. Swiss chard and carrots are still edible, even the potatoes that escaped harvest last fall are trying to sprout. Little bright green beet seedlings have volunteered everywhere.

bitmap-in-daffodils.jpgI saw my first daffodil bloom today!! The true promise of spring has arisen! My most diminutive ones bloom first. They are only 6″ tall, and they were so beautiful sitting next to my gold and purple johnny-jump-ups. I have invested in a number of different kinds, each one blooming in its own time. Not much else is attractive right now, except for the crimson leaves of the nandina, but oh so wonderful to be outside and handle soil and plants, listen to birds, smell the early sweetness, watch baby lambs cavort.

Tomorrow, its back to my little bit of hell. I really sort of hope I am the first one laid-off when the time comes. Unemployment insurance isn’t much, but it’s a start. My supervisor, whom I have been friends with for so many years, is very sad at the thought of me leaving. We had hoped to retire together. Never did we think that we’d be faced with such an agonizing debacle as what we are experiencing today. She has been going through a lot of heartache and this is just a double portion more. I have been encouraging her to get her own resumé together and start looking for something better. There is always a job for a good manager and coordinator. Armed with the skills she has, she surely has a better chance of good employment in this community than I face, that’s for sure.

But, all that is hours and a good sleep away. I think I’ll go back outside and enjoy the remainder of a very lovely day.

January 18, 2008

Wandering the Path of Indecision

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:00 pm by czygyny

ladybugA week spent and still no closer to knowing what I want to do for a career. I also haven’t figured out how to make my art images crisp and clear on this blog. My little lady bug looks like he’s a bit moldy.

Its funny, I have been involved with advertising for over 25 years, half of that doing my craft on computers, but I sure haven’t kept up with the electronic age. Heck, I had never even read a blog until the week I created one, just last week!

Where I work, we went through the online tutorials for creating Flash ads for our online department, and then we never really got to use it. I would be hard pressed to create a completed file in Flash, today. But, this place was always sort of backwards in their operation. We became involved with PCs instead of Macs, CorelDraw instead of Adobe. Both choices worked great–for us–but trying to send out any files or receive ads from other sources proved a frustrating task until Acrobat came to the rescue.

Now, we are trying to switch horses in mid-stream, they’ve purchased licenses of the Adobe CS3 for us, even despite the fact they’ve told us they’re outsourcing our jobs. So, let’s see, we have inexperienced mid-and upper management trying to garner points upstream-without regard to the employees, revenue down, bad company image with the public, an axe hanging over the whole creative department, revamping what was a well-oiled, well-developed, smooth-flowing work path, all the while doing it in a new graphics program.

Sounds like a good plot for a movie. Except for the prerequisite love interest. I don’t have a clue about any of that because I don’t pay attention, but I’m sure that is in there somewhere. 😉 I know its not me!

It makes it doubly hard to think about new things when at home there is so much to do. We spent the whole day, yesterday,  rototilling with a rented tiller. That adventure is worthy of a post all unto itself.

We arrived at the rental place towing a trailer, but the tiller comes with a trailer. After going home to drop off our trailer, we get back to realize that neither of us have our driver’s licenses, nor our cell phones. That made it hard to get the tiller rented, but we managed to get it set up. Then, when we went out to hitch it up, we realized we didn’t have the right size ball hitch for the trailer. We leave to go home and get one, but made it part way back home to realize that we don’t have the needed 2″ ball, anyway. Back we go to the rental place and cancel the order, because I am getting a bit frazzled at this point. Half an hour later we are back at the rental place after finding a ball, close by, at Harbor Freight. Finally, after all that, we get home and my mother came and told us, in tears,  she couldn’t get her brand new Honda Civic hybrid started, nor could she get the garage door to the shop open so she could use her old car, so she missed her doctor’s appointment. She couldn’t get ahold of us because we didn’t have our cell phones! Argghhh!

This is the sort of drama I was trying to take a vacation from!

But! I can say in all honesty, even after that comedy (and tragedy) of errors, it turned out to be a wonderful day, frayed nerves were soothed, apologies made (for all the bickering and short tempers), the day was beautiful and we were able go get a lot accomplished. When the day was done, I wandered back at the corner of the property, and sat up on the old iron and wood bed of my ancient 45 Chevy dually, and watched the lengthening shadows and golden sunlight glow on the line of cottonwood trees, the pink hued willows at the creek, and a gibbous moon in the darkening sky. The sun set on a good day, after all.

While taking my turn at the tiller, I came up with some ideas for making money from the garden, growing dried flowers and decorative grains for the florist market, perhaps growing vegetables for the local farmer’s market. Anything to keep me home.

columbineI think I would rather sell all my possessions than to go back to work, that’s how much I hate that place now. Trouble is, I really don’t own a lot of expensive things. Most of my wealth went out the door in my troublesome 10 year marriage, along with a lot of other people’s money. Ah, I tried to warn them not to loan my ex any ‘seed’ money for business ventures… Perhaps that is also why I balk at starting my own businesses. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from his vain attempts. But, the taste is bitter, yet, the situation I face at work. I want to succeed, I need to succeed.

Everybody wants me to stay home. Can I pull it off?

iris

January 16, 2008

A Blustery, Blissful Day, Away from Care and Strife

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by czygyny

annual-boxes02.jpg
I find my fun in ways most folks don’t. I would rather dig holes than watch television, pull weeds than shop, and a day spent outside is a day well spent, indeed.

Today was such a day, a beautiful, sunny day. And it would have been perfect if not for the incessant, frigid, upwards of 40-50 mph, winds! Our wicked winds come from the north. Blasting, piercing, drying, static-producing, skin-withering, migraine-inducing north winds.

In the winter it drives through your clothes like icy needles, in the summer it heats up with a vengance as it sweeps down the mountains. The only good things about our north winds is that it keeps the frost at bay, and drives all of Sacramento and the delta area’s pollution back where it belongs. Hey, keep your rice stubble smoke down there with you, where it belongs! Oh, yeah, it’ll dry your clothes on the line quite nicely, if you’re one of those, like me, who love the smell of line-dried clothing. Even if you end up with scratchy towels, just bury your nose in it and breathe in the fresh. Other than that, it is right up there with the sound of dirt-bikes for irritation quotient.

So, today we were out in it all day, cleaning out areas that have been in need of work, finding enough stuff to make a dump run. It was a fine day for ridding the property of the last hidden caches of leaves, the piles that have eddied behind storage sheds, stacks of pots and in between buildings. The wind has dried them out nicely, and when I pointed the leaf blower at them, the fierce breeze took them far away. A simple, and somehow satisfying trick.

My poor face shows the effects of the day-long exposure to the screaming zephyr, bright red, wind-chapped cheeks. Not so good on 50ish flesh, makes me look I’ve had a drink, or two. That wind is still howling and beating on my darkened window, envious of my warm, calm room, trying to find any entrance to spoil my comfort.

Things I have hanging on the outside of my house bang and thump, the little metal and plastic lock on the electricity meter goes ‘tap, tap, tap…’ like a tiny bug-sized woodpecker. That one, of course, is right outside where I lay my head to sleep. Today, I saw quite a few trees that the wind and storms have leveled in just the last week. Thankfully my four stately valley oaks were not among the fallen. They raged and screamed in the wind today, shouting and waving about, their bare branches offering little refuge for the birds milling in the fray.  I think they’ll be glad when the winds die down, too.

The picture above is from my garden last year. This is one of two raised-bed annuals boxes I built out of 2″ x 12″x 20′ pressure-treated wood. They are four feet wide, just the right width to be able to tend to easily, yet wide enough to make a visual statement.

I stick with this theme every year, although I might try something a bit different next year. I would like to have this one much like it is, in bold reds, yellows and purples, but I want the other one in more pastels than I have been able to find in the nurseries. Time to thumb through the ever growing stack of seed-catalogs. Boy, once you get on ‘the’ list, then the catalogs just start pouring in!

Starting my own nursery will be another possibility for a new career (or part of many other money-making-stay at home projects). I need to find out what certificates I need to acquire and any other legal stuff I need to know. Perhaps that AA in Ornamental Horticulture I received 30 years ago will finally come in handy? I have hundreds of different types of plants, just the cactus collection alone has at least a hundred different kinds, then there are the perennials, succulents, shrubs, house plants, terrarium specialties, natives, herbs, etc. Something to think about. Mail-order might be the order of the day.

Echinopsis cactus
Who wouldn’t want to have these lovely cactus flowers in their garden? This echinopsis is planted right in the ground, and has weathered 22 degree nights. When it blooms it is a knock-out! It requirements are a well-drained soil, sharply draining gravel mulch around the bases, and seem to do best when crammed in between large well-set rocks. They grow much better in the ground than I can get them to grow in pots, and given filtered, dappled afternoon shade.

Tomorrow more great fun is planned!

We’re rototilling!