Monday, June 29, 2009

Here's what I've been up to lately

Granted, the "before" photo is a few years old. It certainly didn't happen overnight. But the most recent change - painting the garage - did have a major impact. I'm pleased. It's pretty much what I envisioned. Our little sanctuary in the backyard. Still working on getting a bit more privacy from the alley and the neighbors backyard (chain link fence), but I expect to get there before the end of summer.

I'd never really gardened (or landscaped, if you can call it that) before I met Joe. Never had my own yard to nurture. Joe's family has the gardening gene firmly planted, but it's not something I knew much about. So, of course, I set out to learn. And each year I plant something new, dig up something old and move it, trade plants with friends, attempt to grow things from seed, paint something, search for bargains and alternative garden decor. I've received garden gifts from family and friends. Spent countless hours weeding, digging, shoveling pea gravel, and painting. I've hung candles and lit them all just to see what kind of magic candlelight under a night sky can bring.

It's an amazing thing, planting something in the earth and seeing it grow. Yes, the fruits of labor. Watching the bees buzz from flower to flower, enjoying the sweet smell of trumpet lillies on a summer evening. Their scent wafts through the bedroom window at night...intoxicating.

Butterflies frequent the butterfly bush, the birds pick at the sunflowers. Fireflies flit about in the evening above the freshly cut grass. Sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? Not quite, but close enough, I suppose. It's somewhere to escape to when the day is done.

So, that's where I've been these past few weeks when I've been short on blogs. I'll be back with more soon.

Happy Summer!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wild Kingdom

I love my backyard. I love the garden that we've cultivated over 5 years or so. Love sitting on the swing on a warm, or even cool, evening. But there's another's wild. Over the past couple years we've been feeding some of the wild cats in the neighborhood and they come to visit. We've never been able to get very close to them, but this season they seem a little braver. We've seen three litters of kittens over the past couple years. One neighbor, who since moved away, rescued several of them. And, yes, we should probably attempt some feral cat rescue/release program. It's on my list, the meantime, we like to make sure they get food and water. And shelter when necessary.

Recently we discovered the latest litter of kittens. There appear to be three. Maybe 6 weeks old. All adorable. Momma cat comes around regularly and I mentioned to Joe a while back that he/she was a bit paunchy and maybe...sure enough...and he is a she.

So, I've been able to get a few pictures. And some video of our visitors. Last week momma cat and the babies were making themselves quite comfortable in our backyard garden. Momma reclining underneath the swing, one of the kittens sleeping sweetly on an old pot, and another underneath a rehabbed birdbath planter. Oh, how sweet.

We had several storms over the weekend, and I haven't seen the furry family since then, but I hope they found shelter somewhere. After all, they don't spend all of their time in our yard. They are indeed welcome visitors, though.

We've got some squirrels in the hood, one famous from a Hallmark card contest entry/finalist of mine. And, of course, lots of birds...finches, cardinals, chickadees, and more. Last year there was a very large possum that happened by. I'd never seen one that big. He'd been eating well, I guess. And there's a neighborhood skunk or two. Joe always worries that he'll go out to feed the cats and there will be a skunk waiting for dinner instead. I keep wishing a deer, or a moose, or something like that would show up sometime. Wouldn't that be exciting? But I'm happy with the wild cats sleeping away the afternoon on the cushion of our backyard swing, or underneath a shady plant.

I have hopes of finding a cute little dog house to add to the garden. One that would give shelter should one of the cats need a bed for the night. I could paint it to blend in nicely with the flowers and greenery. Joe thinks I'm crazy.

What else is new?