Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

We got back to Denver last Tuesday, and by the time we got everything unpacked and got adjusted to the hour time change, it was snowing…..

May is a tough time in Colorado for people who are eager to garden. The problem is that there is inevitably really nice weather late in April and early in May. The weather’s so nice, in fact, that it lulls one into thinking that our local meteorologist Kathy Sabine will no longer feel a need to warn us that there is cold weather on the horizon. She has put away her fur-lined parka for the spring and summer and is bringing out her umbrella.

I’m pretty good about waiting until after Mother’s Day to put my garden plants and seeds in the ground. I learned the hard way. Shortly after we moved into this house, the weather outside convinced me it would be safe to plant. So I went to my favorite garden store and purchased several hundred dollars worth of plants: petunias and geraniums and tomatoes and peppers and all manner of things that don’t do well in cold. I cheerfully planted.  And then, of course, it got cold and everything died.

You must never plant until after Mother’s Day, everyone told me. And from that time on, I always spent Mother’s Day at my favorite garden store, along with every other would-be gardener in Denver. This year I was still in AZ on Mother’s Day because of my niece’s graduation. And it’s a good thing, too. Because I assure you I would have spent the afternoon of Mother’s Day planting and regretting the decision a few days later.

But Saturday night during her weather report, Kathy Sabine assured me that the freezing temperatures are over for the winter. She thinks.

So I spent a lot of Sunday planting. And when I say “I” I really mean Allen’s girlfriend Emma. Bill and I were out Saturday pulling weeds and looking forlornly at my garden that was so desperately in need of tending when she came out of the house and said, “I would be happy to help you plant your garden tomorrow.” I swear. She really did say this. And she meant it, because when we got home from church yesterday late morning, she was in her gardening clothes and eager to start. I was doing her a favor, really. Really, I was.

And as Emma planted, Bill built fence, just like a rancher….

And so now Emma’s garden, er, my garden has a beautiful fence around it, sturdy enough to keep the foxes out. She, er, I planted a tomato plant, a jalapeno plant, some green beans, carrots, radishes, thyme, parsley, and basil. I also put in petunias, though I will still need to put in more so that my garden can be full of color in a month or so. And, by the way, it really was me who planted the petunias…..

Kaiya has requested a broccoli plant, and I will comply once I can find a broccoli seedling to plant. Because here is the conversation between a clerk at my friendly neighborhood Home Depot and me. “Hello, Ma’am,” she said. “Can I help you find something?” “Yes,” I replied. “I’m looking for a broccoli plant.” “Okay,” she said. “There’s some over there somewhere,” and she flitted her hand in a northwesternly direction, and walked away. I’m not fibbing.

Okay then. Needless to say, I was unable to find it over there somewhere, so I will go to my friendly neighborhood garden store and see if they can be a bit more helpful.

But at least it’s not snowing.

Thursday Thoughts

Swim With the Fishes

Kaiya Zierk

This photo was taken a year ago. Now Kaiya’s swim cap and swim suit are much more conservative!

As I have mentioned several times in the past week or so, swimming is my new life, and I’m glad for it. All of my granddaughters are part of their respective swim teams, and I love to watch them practice in the mornings. The nearby grandkids swim in a pool that is walking distance, so I love to walk over and watch one or two of them as they practice their different strokes over and over and over again. Yesterday morning I took Kaiya and Mylee to their swim team practice, and it was fun to see them perform as well. Swimming, as you may or may not know, is a skill that I never learned. I mentioned this at dinner recently at Beckie’s house, and her son Erik and his family were present. Erik said to me, “Oh, so learning to swim is on your bucket list, huh?” Oh. My. Heavens. NO. NO. NO. I am perfectly content not knowing how to swim. Going to Israel = Bucket List. Learning to swim = No Bucket List.

One-Two-Three, Eyes on Me
As I said, yesterday I watched Kaiya’s and Mylee’s swim team practice for the first time. Mylee has improved by leaps and bounds since I saw her swim (or actually, not swim) last. She now is considerably less afraid of the water. According to her mother, she had gotten to the point of swimming actual strokes, but the change to a new teacher has set her back a bit. She will undoubtedly rebound. But Kaiya displayed her first-born tendencies yesterday (and yes, I realize she has an older sibling, but I think a 14-year age difference gives her permission to behave like a first-born child). The teachers gave their instructions (practice dolphin kicks), and while the other kids threw an occasional dolphin kick, they would mostly mess around while the teachers’ heads were turned. Not Kaiya. She dutifully practiced her dolphin kicking to the point where she could out-kick Flipper.

Catching My Breath
And speaking of swimming (and then I’ll stop, at least for this post), Addie’s mother got a message late on Friday as to what events the kids would participate in the next day at their swim meet. So Addie didn’t learn until late that night that her coach had signed her up to swim in the 400 meter race. 400 meters. That’s sixteen times across the length of the pool. Her mother admitted to me later that she was seriously afraid and sad for her. I didn’t get to see Addie swim that event, but she apparently tackled it was aplomb and finished the race with a smile. I wouldn’t have been smiling. At the same meet, Dagny raced the 100 meter freestyle. The buzzer went off and she dove into the pool. Immediately upon impact, her goggles fell off. So she swam 100 meters with her eyes closed. Yes, she had a bit of a time staying on point. Nevertheless, she ended up with a fourth-place ribbon. My grandkids are gamers!

Beat Me Up, Scotty
Shortly after I planted my (extremely small) garden a few weeks ago, we got a hail storm that put a bit of a hurt on some of my plants. My petunias fared pretty well, because petunias thumb their little petunia noses at all kinds of iniquity. My two pepper plants look a bit worse for wear, but I think they will make it. My cherry tomato seems to be recovering, but my Better Boy tomato was not really getting better. So yesterday I pulled it out by the roots, dug a bigger hole, put an egg in the bottom of the hole (something I did last year but forgot to do this year, and last year’s crop was phenomenal), and planted a tomato that was at least twice as big as the one that bit the dust. Now I will just keep my fingers crossed. We are in that June Colorado pattern of sunny mornings, stormy afternoons and late clearing skies. The storms can produce hail, but I hope it won’t.

tomato plant 2016

Happy Spring, Mom
Every year when I plant my flowers, I think of my mom. I especially think of her when I plant my geraniums, because she always, ALWAYS had red geraniums in her summer garden. This time of year, my Snow in the Summer are in bloom, and I think they are beautiful. And my columbine just couldn’t be prettier. Spring makes me happy.

flowers 2016


Saturday Smile: Hold the Everything

photo (6)Any time I ask Kaiya or Mylee what they want for lunch or dinner, they will tell me noodles. Take it to the bank. They prefer short noodles like rigatoni or ziti, particularly the vegetable-flavored kind, with butter and Parmesan cheese.  Every single time.

The other day I asked Kaiya if she likes spaghetti and meatballs.

“Weeellll,” she said, “yes. But I don’t like the meatballs and I don’t like the sauce.”

Well, there you have it. Spaghetti and meatballs — hold the meatballs and hold the spaghetti sauce. Boom. Noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese.

The other thing that is making me smile these days is my garden. You will recall that I had a heck of a time getting it planted because of all the rain. And, in fact, only four bean plants sprouted out of the many more than four that I planted. The news people tell me that many people experienced the same problem because of all the rain. The seeds simply rotted in the ground.

But since then, all of the rain has been good for the garden, and my carrots and radishes and herbs have been producing and providing me with food for my table. My bean plants – all four of them – are flowering. The jalapeno pepper plant is also bearing flowers. And my tomatoes – oh my goodness, they are simply lovely. I tried something new this year that I read on – what else – Pinterest. I dug my hole and put a raw egg at the bottom. I set the tomato plant over the egg. I don’t know if this is what I can attribute the beautiful plants to, but they, too, are flowering, and the grape tomato plant actually already has little tomatoes. Yay!


garden july

Have a great weekend.

Our Spring Fever Comes from Head Colds

back yard rain 2015

Our back yard this morning as a steady rain continues to fall.

While Arizona is enjoying a particularly nice May, here in Denver, my heat flips on each morning. Seeing the sun is such a rarity that when it comes out, people run into the street and point to the sky as if seeing a UFO. Denverites are going to Seattle to vacation so they can have nicer weather. Bada boom.

It’s been a rainy spring, and as my great-niece Mackenzie would say, I am so OVER IT. Today Denver is supposed to have a high – A HIGH – of 50.

garden play areaLast night on the local news, the weather forecaster actually seemed embarrassed to show the 10-day forecast as each and every day indicated more showers and thunderstorms. She pointed out that there has only been one day of sunshine in May. One. Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t unusual to have afternoon showers in Colorado, especially in the mountains. But I’m talking day after day of little or no sunshine at all. We keep waiting for the pattern to change, but it’s being very stubborn.

Good for the farmers, I guess. But bad for those trying to elude head and chest colds. Or plant a garden.

I’ve been trying to get my garden planted since Mother’s Day. Bill built raised gardenme a small raised garden bed out of cement blocks. You guessed it. I saw it on Pinterest. The grandkids will be astounded to see that the raised garden is right smack in their play area. Don’t worry; they can still get to the sand box and to the ladder up to the fort. They just need to go around a garden. If I can get it planted.

I have to be quick between rain showers. The other day I planted carrots, radishes, green beans, two tomato plants, and a jalapeno plant. I planted very quickly. And then I ran inside to wait out the rain shower.

A short time later when showers temporarily subsided, I planted oregano, Italian parsley, and thyme in the holes in the cinder blocks. Again, very quickly.

I have basil and chives still waiting on my kitchen counter to be planted, but neither yesterday nor today offered me the opportunity.

Cole in swingI have to keep it all in perspective, however. As I said before, the rain is good for the farmers. Our grass looks spectacular. You can see how green it is in this photo which just happens to include our youngest grandchild Cole, last in the line (so far) of kids who have enjoyed swinging on Nana’s tree swing. The photo was taken on the one day of sunshine.

Trust me.  Come July, I will be complaining about the hot weather.

Nevertheless, I am eagerly looking forward to sitting outside in the evening and enjoying the birds and the sunshine. It will happen. I know it will.