Sunflower Feeders

A successful season of growing these giants is way over.
The stalks are gone from the beds and are now bulking up the burn pile. 
My favorite super hero, Garden Guy*, composted and, AND! put the flower beds to 
sleep under a thick layer of leaf mulch. Ahhhh!  I love you Garden Guy!

*Formerly known in an earlier career as Diaper Man, this superhero visited our home
 every weekend and took on the nighttime diaper 'dooties' so I could get some sleep.  
The work of a superhero is never, ever done!

I harvested* the heads, and they relaxed on the picnic table for a few days, then 
went on to dry in the greenhouse.  It didn't take long for the tufted titmice to find them - 
those birds must buckle on their smartie pants every day.

* Flower gardeners like me take any opportunity to use the word harvest to get a 
temporary leg-up to the Vegetable Gardener League. 

So I moved them out for all the fall birds.  
A super cheap and all-natural birdfeeder, the thick stalk makes it easy to ram it between 
tree branches or in metal plant hanging hardware (below).
You could lay one right outside on a window ledge for a front-row, birdwatching seat.
Sparrows can't seem to hog a hanging seed head for their tribe - big bonus!


November Closings

The gardens are almost 'put to bed' for the season.  
The perennials are trimmed to the ground, and the annuals have been yanked.
We've added umpteen bags of compost and all that has to be done is a thick blanket of leaf mulch.
This seems like a bigger job every year, and for the first time, I'm thinking 
maybe I'm to old to keep this up with all of this.
The gardens were my distraction during the intense years of childrearing.
The boys wanted to be outside and were happy to follow me around, 
digging in the dirt, swatting leaves with sticks and occasionally tasting a worm.
Yes ... it happened.

* I am completely in love (gushgush) with these photos of the morning sun on fall leaves. All I had to do was juggle the dials a bit and set the camera on the patio. Press the button and check the result - each photo a great surprise. Photography is so much easier now than the film days when each shot mattered since it cost dollars to develop. 

But now my occupations are mostly indoors and no one is coaxing me outside 
to play. And so the gardens are not as well tended as in years past.
We actually took one out last week; moved the plants we wanted to keep 
and threw the rest on the reject pile.  It was a relief to see bare space where 
a garden had been - isn't that sad?! 

** Is it sick that I'm happy to know that all spiders have frozen?  This guy lived, rent free, in the Lily of the Valley patch for at least a month.  Pretty generous of me... I think I've earned some grim glee at their passing.

*** I was sitting outside looking up into this HUGE sweet gum tree with My Youngest. "Remember how we used to sit out here and read Lord of the Rings, Mom? Those were great days!"  The words of a teenaged son can be brutal or blessing, and they seem unaware of either effect. I'm savoring these as a special blessing.


One Man's Trash ...

SO I walked away from a yardsale with a huge box of old gourds. 
Is it odd that I felt like I had just struck gold???
You know I have a love affair with gourds. Maybe better described as 
a secret longing, since my efforts are always foiled by evil mildew

A brown and barefooted old fella said he just throws out the seeds and the vines take over  some 
small trees in his backyard. In the winter, he said he just  yanks the gourds down and 
throws them in the shed. He acted like he'd never heard of powdery mildew and
 let the box of gourds go for $2. I danced my way to the car.

I've fiddled away lots of happy hours with those gourds these last couple of months. 
They have to be soaked, then scrubbed with furniture stripping pads to remove the 
outer 'skin'. Beautiful designs emerge - it's the coolest thing. Every one 
has different patterns, various tones and hues created by the temperatures and 
growing conditions they endured.
And that would preach if we wanted to travel a rabbit trail ...

 Drilling a hole and removing the dried seeds and pulp take time, but are a satisfying 
(if messy) way to pass time while talking with boys, almost-watching  a football game 
or catching an episode of The Paradise.

Choosing a font for the saying and applying it is tedious, but nail polish remover 
can make a mistake simply vanish. I have to admit adapting the bird image from a 
Tasha Tudor illustration.

Sealing the finished gourd with polyurethane is the icing on the cake.
The patterns emerge and seem to glow- my favorite part of the entire process.
There are more of these, and some pretty striking long neck gourds that 
are actually correctly sized birdhouses.  I'll be selling them at a local craft show 
next weekend. Come take a peek!
Whatever's left will be appearing in my Etsy shop soon.



In remembrance of these fall flowers, so recently beautiful... as in three days ago.
All now frosted and blackened, in only one freezing night.
When the fall flowers are in their glory, it's about time for me
to return to the basement of UC's nuclear medicine department and bare a buttock (or two) for some injections.
These yearly labs are important in getting a heads-up in case the thyroid cancer recurs. 

*** Side Note:    'Injection style' is a definite thing. 
How hard the injection thrust   vs   how gentle.
How swift the injection   vs   how slooooww can you go... 
The alcohol swipe.
And the count "Here we go!"
"This is it!"
"Big stick now!"
(and the traditional, no-fail) "One, two, THREE!"
Everyone claims own unique technique - should there be a class on this???
I was truly sad to see these nasturtium go. The package that said RED must have really 
indicated ORANGE, but no matter - the charming round leaves carry the day anyway.
Then this surprise bloom!  Beautiful. I've got to go out this weekend and scrape around for seeds.

In the Grand Scheme, these tests are so very, very simple - 
merely one inconvenient week among the 52 weeks of 2014. 
Believe me, I'm thankful that all I have to complain about is some minor injection discomfort. 
I'm well aware that things can be infinitely worse than this.

And in light of that fact, here are two verses from this morning's 
reading that really stood out to me. These are cling-able:

He delivered us from such a deadly peril 
and He will deliver us. On Him 
we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.

The righteous ... he is not afraid of bad news; 
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid...