Thursday, June 16, 2022

this is june ~ flowers and cats

June started out beautifully; we had so many perfect late spring days with plenty of sunshine and occasional rain. My peony bush exploded into bloom seemingly overnight and provided the most gorgeous, fragrant blooms. I think they're prettier and smell better than roses! Too bad the blooms are so short-lived.

I kept the house filled with the blooms while I could, even though the fragrance set off my allergies.

At the same time, the clematis also showed off its splendid purple blooms, almost glowing at dusk. 

Our neighbor down the street who graces us with fresh peaches every summer from their peach trees, stopped us one evening on our way home from a walk. He asked if we'd like one of his potted fig trees. In limited English, he told us how to care for it. Kindness is spoken in every language!

The past few days here have been hot. A couple of days ago, the temp with the heat index was 108. Yesterday was 100. Today we're at 90, but it's breezy and the humidity is low (which is rare here) so it actually feels wonderful. The heat is much more tolerable with low humidity, that's for sure. 

On those unbearably hot days, I start my day with a big glass of water, then move on to iced tea or coffee on the porch. I sit in the shade and listen to the birdsong and try not to let the noise of nearby traffic, the screaming children that live in back of us, or the incessant yappy barking of the dog in back of us, get to me. Better yet, we also have a neighbor across the street that loves to sit in his truck on the driveway blasting music early in the morning. Welcome to life in the suburbs, I guess.

I wish we could live in a small house with lots of land, and the closest neighbor maybe half mile away. I would love to have a big garden, roaming cats (all neutered, of course), a horse, and a goat or sheep. When Brian retires, this might be a possibility in another state. We'll see. There's many factors that come into play.

Speaking of roaming cats, my house has attracted several of them this month. I swear we must have a vacancy sign hung out on the house. This beautiful tortoiseshell started showing up in my backyard a few weeks ago. She was timid, but not feral. I started feeding her and one time I saw a few kittens in the bushes, too. 

The only kitten I saw after the initial sighting was this beautiful baby, who looks part-Siamese. Or maybe Ragdoll.

The baby was terrified of me ~ obviously not used to humans.

Look at those blue eyes! I was smitten.

With the guidance of a friend who used to volunteer with our local humane society, I continued leaving food and fresh water out to not only help these kitties, but to get them comfortable and acclimated with my property. I started spending time every day sitting on the ground in the backyard, talking to the kitties, so they'd get used to my voice. One day, instead of leaving a bowl of food under the bushes, I took the can of food outside with me, and held a spoon of the food out to the mama cat. She started to slowly approach me and finally got brave enough to eat the food off the spoon as I was holding it. I then took my other hand and brought it by her body, and she was fine with that. Next step was petting her back and she loved it! Next thing I knew, I had her following me all over the place and meowing at me through my windows. 

I named her Goldie. She made herself right at home.

My friend said that because Goldie was so friendly, that she'd be easily adoptable. Our next plan was to try and humanely trap her and the kitten.

I set up the two humane traps that my friend gave to me and long story short, was able to successfully trap both Goldie and her baby.

Goldie and her baby are now living at my friend's house; she's fostering them until we have them spayed and get them up-to-date on vaccinations through the humane society's vet. My friend has named the kitten, Sparkle. They're both doing great and my friend sends me photos and updates. My heart lurches when I see them, especially Goldie. I became particularly attached to her. But we can't take in any cats with Clementine living here, as it wouldn't be fair to her. She's too old and sick (she has Chronic Kidney Disease, anxiety to where she barbers her fur and skin, and dental disease) to have the stress of strange cats in the house.

There's also this guy (at least he looks like a male cat to us) that is feral and sometimes hangs around our house. Brian's named him Blanco. We only see him a couple of times a week. I haven't seen him in a few days and I'm worried. Not only because of the excessive heat, but when I saw him last, I noticed that he is injured. His right front leg in the back of it, has a huge gaping wound. I'll pass on posting the photo of him where you can see the wound, as it's rather gross and heart wrenching.

But wait, there's more!

I stepped outside yesterday evening to see this thin gray kitty that I've never seen before. As it was running away right after I got this photo, I saw that the area behind its right ear was torn up and bloody.

All I can do now is to keep looking for Blanco as I walk around my yard, sometimes leaving a bowl of dry food in the bushes to entice him. Otherwise, I just have to concentrate my attention on Miss Clementine. She is hanging in there much longer than we expected. When she broke off an upper fang just a week after Monkey died in February, the vet dentist said without major dental work, that she'd only live another few weeks to a few months. It's now four months later and still no signs of infection in her gums from the broken fang. There's some swelling, which our regular vet said is inflammation, but at least it's not infected. She eats all her food, is still very active (to the point of being rather spastic sometimes), and doesn't paw at her face. We also continue to give her subcutaneous fluids every other day for her kidney disease. She's been beating those odds, too. Over 4-1/2 years ago when she was diagnosed, the internal medicine vet said she'd probably only live another couple of years.

We'll see how the rest of the month goes...maybe it won't be all about flowers and cats? Though if it is, I certainly won't mind. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

landscaping progress

Hello friends ~

We're still enjoying mostly good weather here in Illinois. This past week has been cool, maybe a little bit too cool. I've had to turn the heat on in the mornings. Thunderstorms are coming in tomorrow and then rain the next couple of days, but Memorial Day weekend looks to be warm and sunny, which will be perfect for a celebratory BBQ.

In the meantime, it's been wonderful to enjoy the patio and outdoors once again. We've been working hard in the yard, weeding and mulching and planting. No complaints - we both still love yard work.

My peony bush is ripe with buds, so I expect after the next few days of rain and then the returning sunshine and warmth, they should be exploding into bloom. One of my favorite flowers!

The only new perennials we added to our yard this year were lupines. We planted them in the butterfly garden in-between the lamb's ear. The columbine is blooming right now, as you can see in the background. That will fade, then the purple coneflower and bee balm will be blooming to the side and in back of the lupines, so I can't wait to see how this all will look!

Even though Brian and I have always done our own yard work and landscaping, we have realized the past few years that we need some extra help. There's some jobs that are beyond our capability. We had a new front sidewalk put in a few years ago and Brian edged it with the traditional black plastic strips. However, they wouldn't stay in place and kept popping out of the ground, especially on the ends. We had also planted fountain grasses on one side of the sidewalk. Three of the smaller variety died this year, so we dug them out. We were left with a sloppy look.

The other side of the sidewalk butts up against the side of the garage. We had two iron trellises here for height interest and planted Passion Flower vines every spring to entwine around the trellises. I removed the trellises before the landscapers came...

The other part we needed help with was planting bushes and making a rock wall in our small front yard. As you can see from the photo, our front yard slopes down towards a drainage ditch. This ditch area used to be filled with day lilies but we had them dug out (by our village Public Works department) a couple of years ago. They put down grass seed and a straw mat, but the grass never grew in nicely.

To start, the landscapers dug out a path along the sidewalk, lined it with landscaping fabric, and installed metal edging on both sides.

Same with the other side against the garage.

Starting the layout of the rock wall and bed for the bushes...


As you can see, we need to re-seed the slope in front of the bushes. That will be done next week. And the other thing the landscapers did was to dig out the invasive buckthorn that was growing onto our property from the neighbor's property next door. You can see some of that mess on the left side. We have decided our next step is to have privacy fencing installed along this area, starting where the neighbor's fence ends.

Here's a better view of the neighbor's property as seen from our front porch. You can see why a privacy fence would be a good idea! That invasive buckthorn came all the way up into the now-bare spot on our property. We need to seed that area now, too. And yes, our grass has a lot of weeds. We don't put any chemicals on our lawn, so it is what it is.

For those of you in the US, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

fast forward

Just eleven days ago on my blog, I was saying how cold and wet it was here and that spring was late. Guess I'd better be careful what I wish for: this week we fast-forwarded right to summer with temps in the 90's all week! Crazy Illinois...30's and 40's one week with the heat on, and the next week so hot that the AC is cranked.

I am not complaining about the heat, mind you. I love warm weather and sunshine. It's just that it's too early here for it to be so hot (we set some record temps for this time of year) and we totally skipped the 60's and 70's. BUT. We'll get those temps next week, so all is good.

Brian had the day off a couple of days ago and we hit three garden centers; two of which are my all-around favorites that I look forward to going to every spring. We're behind about two weeks because of the weather and now we have a ton of yard work and planting to do.

Aren't these hanging chenille plants cool? I didn't buy one but I'm thinking twice about it. I might go back and get one. I came home with a variety of herbs, daisies, coleus, lupine, and tomato and pepper plants.

At my other favorite garden center, I was hoping they had black and blue salvia. I bought it from the same garden center a couple of years ago, put it in a pot on my front porch, and it grew to be about two feet tall. The black and purple (don't know why it's called blue!) blossoms were so beautiful, almost iridescent. The blossoms attracted the hummingbirds and it was wonderful to be sitting on the porch and have the hummingbirds be right there.

I was in luck. They had my plants! We bought three of them and picked up another two for my friend who wanted some, too.

We worked in the yard for several hours that afternoon and yes, we were soaked with sweat as you can tell by Brian's shirt. You can see one of the salvia plants in a pot on the ground. That sidewalk area is going to be professionally landscaped next week. We desperately need some help! The landscapers will also be putting in yew bushes along the sloped area behind Brian, with small boulders in front of them. The area with the straw blanket had hostas in it, but they looked terrible there. Brian dug them out and seeded the area.

With this heat, everything has now exploded into bloom. Remember how the beginning of the movie, The Wizard of Oz is in sepia tones and then later explodes into color? That's what it's like here. 

I was driving down our street today and marveling at the canopy of green the entire way. When it's been seven months since you've seen that, you don't take it for granted.

Just two years ago, we planted three small ferns that a friend gave to us from his yard. This year, the ferns multiplied and spread wonderfully on the shady side of the house. I'll be planting the coleus in this area for color. Then we'll spread a fresh layer of mulch.

Not kidding, just a few days ago, this peony wasn't even halfway up the metal cage. Today it's towering over the top of the cage and has blossoms on it already. So amazing how fast it grows!


My sweet girl, Clementine loves to join me on the porch in the mornings, but I have to stick right by her or she'll take off. 

She's still hanging in there with her kidney disease and her gums being swollen where she lost an upper fang in early February. The vet dentist had said it would only be a few weeks to a few months until the gums became infected (and then there'd be nothing we could do...and of course, we would not let her suffer, so we would have her euthanized at home)...but, so far so good with just inflammation and no infection. 

I know her health could take a turn for the worse any day now, so I give her all the attention and love I can. I pretty much have always done so, being an animal lover, but I think now I'm  more cognizant of the limited time I have with her.

Have a wonderful weekend! 💖

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

slow spring, books, and framed art

Spring is behind here in Illinois. Most of the month of April was unusually cold and rainy. It felt like an extended March. No drinking our tea on the porch in the mornings, no yard clean up yet, nothing planted except some pansies. This was my view across the street yesterday. Overcast (as usual) and the maple tree just starting to bud. Today is cold with wind-driven rain. One of those days where you just want to stay in bed and read or watch movies all day. I've actually never done that unless I was sick or recovering from surgery.
 Have you?

Taking a walk around my yard yesterday, I did find some beautiful things to photograph. Isn't this blooming leaf exquisite? This is my next door neighbor's maple tree, which borders our property. The leaves are a dark red, almost maroon when they're in full bloom. 

My peony bush coming to life.

Bleeding Heart finally in bloom.

Hostas growing more by the day.

Cheerful daffodils in my butterfly garden. They're late bloomers as they don't get much sun.

Does anyone know what these flowers are ~ are they a variety of tulips? I saw them by a library a couple of weeks ago and was smitten.

Libraries and books

We don't need anymore books, but there are a couple of Chicago suburb libraries that have fantastic sales and sometimes we can't resist. This was the stack I came home with a couple of weekends ago. I recently finished Anne Tyler's, "French Braid" and was disappointed. I'm hoping "Redhead by the Side of the Road" will be better.

Brian's picks.

Framed art

Our hallway bathroom is small and the main wall by the sink holds the towel bar. Otherwise, this wall is blank and boring. I'd been thinking about getting some kind of art work for this area for a long time, but never came across anything that I felt was just right. I bought this double matted frame at Michaels, hung it up and liked it. Funny thing is, the prints in the frame are the ones that came with the frame. I went through my stash of paper art I keep for art journaling plus some photos and nothing worked. So the store prints are staying for now.

I've had these white framed mats for six years. They used to hold Tim's college graduation photos. He's been replaced by cats. 😉

Zippo (who passed away in Nov 2018) and Monkey (who passed almost three months ago) now have a place of honor on the wall of my office/guest room. Photos taken by Tim.

Here's to warmer weather, morning porch sitting, and working in the yard. Have a beautiful week!

"The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May."
~ Edwin Way Teale