A post about friends and gardens and garden friends

We got a little package in the mail the other day from our friend Andi.  Inside, there was a really, really sweet note, and also a miniature garden gnome.  She said that the gnome made her think of us.  I love it when someone buys a gift just because it made them think of you.  And I also love to send things to people with that same inspiration.  It’s a sign that the person is prominent in your mind.  And it also means that you know them well enough that you know what sort of little things make them smile.  In other words, its a sign of a happy friendship.  Which isn’t to say that you have to buy people presents to have a good friendship.  It’s just nice to know that someone is thinking of you, and its nice to let your friends know that they have a special place in your mind.  Which reminds me that I should try a little harder to write letters to the people I think of on a regular basis.  I even bought a bunch of fun new cards at the Salvation Army the other day.  I enjoy buying greeting cards at thrift stores because you can find really random, funny ones.  I like random funny things.

But anyway, I was posting about the garden gnome.  We gave him a position as the guardian of our bean plants.  And he inspired us to move a snail with a gazing globe on her back from inside to outside, under the nasturtiums.  It looks in the picture like she’s eating some greens.  Those little heart-shaped leaves taste sour, but pleasant.  I used to nibble them myself when I was a kid.  And they get banana-shaped seed pods.

gnomeyarn 033

Eisenia fetida

worm!I post this brilliant mspaint artwork of mine in honor of the fact that our worms arrived today in a cardboard box.  We set up their plastic bin (which came yesterday) and filled it with shredded paper and coconut fiber and dried leaves from outside and bits of celery that went floppy in the refrigerator, etc.  Then we opened the bag they were shipped in and spread the worms over the bedding.  The poor things had clustered into a giant slimy worm ball, which they apparently do when stressed, and they don’t like light, so I didn’t want to take a photo of them.  But they should be settling in now, burrowing down towards the bits of celery.  If all goes well, we’ll soon have a happy colony of wormy goodness to eat our shredded documents and our food scraps, and to contribute to the growth of our plants.  I’m so excited!

(related earlier post

(link to where we ordered from)

The mysterious affair of the Bird-Feeder

S got a bird-feeder for her birthday from her parents.  We’d been wanting one to enhance our backyard and so that we and the cats could watch birds out the kitchen windows and because we both grew up in bird-feeding households.  Both of our fathers have gone to great lengths to find or create a squirrel-proof feeder (the one S’s dad gave her was a “squirrel-b-gone” or something like that).  So, a few days ago S bought some sunflower seeds, and yesterday we went outside together and hung the new feeder from the swingset left behind by our old neighbors.  All very exciting!  But this morning when we looked out to see if any birds had found it yet, the feeder was gone.

S and I, feeling rather upset, went out to the backyard to see if we could figure out what had happened.  Did a person steal it?  Did a squirrel or some other creature knock it down and carry it away?  Had a freak wind blown overnight and rolled it somewhere?  Earlier this morning, our neighbor had come over to tell us that her friend was missing a wad of cash and to ask if we’d seen anything suspicious.  Was it possible that the two incidents were related?  She said that her friend had searched the backyard with a flashlight last night, looking for the money or for footprints in the snow or something.  It sounds like he was rather desperate about the money.  Did he knock down the bird-feeder accidentally in the dark, or out of frustration?  If the money was stolen, rather than lost, would the thief also have any interest in a brand new bird-feeder?  S and I kept coming up with more and more implausible theories.  Maybe one of our neighbors is crazy, and hates birds and squirrels?  Unfortunately, the footprints in the backyard were too jumbled to show any clear information about the movements of people, animals, and bird-feeders last night.  And we only made them more jumbled by walking around bewildered this morning.  And we had the dog with us, so that’s another set of footprints.  Too bad she’s not a tracking dog!
shadows on snow
We did find a faint trail of sunflower seeds leading across the yard, past one of the neighboring houses, and down the driveway, but it stopped dead at the road, and we couldn’t find any other clues after that point.  I thought that if it was possible for a squirrel or some other animal to carry the feeder that far, maybe a person then found it by the side of the road and picked it up because it looked unwanted.  The problem is that none of the many theories we’ve been able to come up with seem quite possible or plausible.  What kind of animal could carry a decent-sized bird-feeder all the way across the yard?  Squirrels are too small, aren’t they?  And they don’t work in teams, each one carrying an end like a moving crew.  What about a skunk or a raccoon?  I just don’t know.  And then there’s the chance that it was taken by a person.  What a bizarre thing to steal, though.  And how did they know it was there?  What were they doing in the backyard?  We just hung the feeder up yesterday.  And it wasn’t made of 24k gold or anything.  I don’t think I’m deluded about the goodness of humanity, but perhaps I am a little deluded about the explainability of human actions.  Why steal a bird-feeder, of all things?  And where is Sherlock Holmes when you need him?

 I suspect that we’ll never know the answer.  So I guess we’ll have to get another bird-feeder now, and try again, but this time we’ll make sure that it’s really well tied down.  And install flood-lights and video surveillance.  And hire a security guard.  And fence the yard in with chain-link and barbed wire.  And strip search anyone who wants to enter.  And…

 Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, though, this reminds me of a book I read a while ago about him retiring to the countryside and getting old and senile and keeping bees.  It was pretty good, I remember, and I would sort of like to re-read it, but I’ve forgotten the title.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll come across it again sometime.

tidbits of green growth

I’m a sucker for the floral and houseplant displays at the grocery store, especially this time of year when the trees look like nothing but sticks and my gardens are frozen over.  I mean, I’m excited to think about what the gardens will look like in the spring, as the flowers and herbs and shrubs we started last year become more established, but I’m impatient.  I want to water things and trim things and observe new growth from day to day right now.

Today I was theoretically just shopping for chocolate, but I ended up coming home with two little cactus friends nestled into my purse, too.  The cashier gingerly wrapped each one in a plastic bag before she handed it to me, but I still poked my fingers when I unloaded them.  That’s ok, though.  It just shows that they’ve got spirit!  One has a tidy pattern of little spiky clusters, and the other one has a more unruly hairdo of longer spines.  I put one in my office and one in S’s office to greet her when she gets back from her trip.  I’m actually really excited about them.  They’re just so round and adorable.  And the cats can’t nibble on cactus needles like they do on the leaves of most of our other houseplants.  My lucky bamboo has suffered that terribly unlucky fate repeatedly.  Maybe it brought luck to the cats, though.

And winter progresses.  Time passes.  Our paper-white and our geraniums flowered recently.  We have some crocus bulbs sprouting on the windowsill, but no sign of buds on those yet.  The most exciting thing I saw today was some new-looking leaves poking through the ice in a cement urn outside the train station.

cement urn with ice and scraps of vegetation

flower bulb in a jar of water

I really want some worms for my birthday

sad parsnips 

I hate having to throw vegetables away, like these poor parsnips, just because we don’t have anywhere to compost them.  It feels really wrong to be putting biodegradable stuff into the trash can in plastic bags, which will then go to the town dump, where we drop them into a big metal bin with everyone else’s plastic bags, and then I don’t even know where they go from there.  Most likely to a landfill, where I know this stuff will just sit in a huge pile with all the other waste, not given the opportunity to return gently to earth like it’s supposed to.  Continue reading


fading sunflowerI was gardening the other day, getting ready for winter.  In the front garden there was a big sunflower plant that was already growing there when we moved in.  It had lots of happy flowers all summer, but the leaves had been looking kinda yellow and moldy for a while, since it started getting colder, so I decided it was time to cut it down and bring it to the brush pile.  I thought that I would sprinkle a few seeds out of the dried up flower heads onto the garden in hopes of getting more sunflower plants next summer.  But all the flowers were gone.  Because the squirrels took them.  I know because I saw a squirrel in the back yard eating something strange and pale and I had to watch him/her for a while before I figured out that it was a sunflower head.  Maybe they dropped a few seeds, though, and we’ll still get a new plant.  Or we could always buy some seeds in the spring.  I don’t mind feeding the squirrels, but I hope they don’t eat all my bulbs, too, because I want daffodils and tulips in the spring when I’m all desperate for flowers.