Tag Archives: Gardening


Coral tinged fingers of his stamens
pointed motionlessly with eloquent
yet fragile strength toward the brilliant sky.
As Spring rapidly swiveled into Summer,
the bloom anticipated
the cleaning of his filaments and anthers –
the precious pollen and nectar must be shared.
Safety and survival of his species
hung in the balance!
Where were the Bees?

Inspired by the words of the latest Sunday Whirl – Wordle #30


Daunting Visitation

The handsome creature arrived as my grief of all griefs had begun.  I was inconsolable about my son Joshua’s unexpected death. I was open to – maybe even eager for distractions from my suffocating sorrow.  This new visitor became my companion during the first phase of my mourning.  And the distraction he provided filled many hours over the coming months.

“He” was a stunning ring-necked Chinese Pheasant.  He strutted into our yard after hopping over the wobbly wire fence that separates our neighbor’s pasture from our more tamed back yard.  The bird announced his arrival into our garden with a shriek, almost as if he were in pain.  It sounded like MY pain FELT.  Although our visitor’s voice was shrill, he was a fowl of remarkable beauty.  But the little tufts sticking out of his head gave him the persona of a cocky little devil and a creature maybe to be feared. 

Spring was looming and Mr. Pheasant and I were looking forward to the rewards of the approaching season.  Gardening any time the weather permitted became my favorite grief-distracting passion.  I was  preparing our grounds for a memorial event for my son.  The bird was in search of a suitable mate. 

Obstacles would hinder each of us from our seasonal pursuits…

The pheasant habitat in our neighborhood was shrinking.  A new home was replacing the tangle of gigantic blackberry brambles behind us.  In the mornings, the workers would arrive to continue construction and I would watch and note their progress, as I sipped coffee by my window.  I would see my bird companion stalking about, too.  He was on a quest for the perfect (or more likely, any) hen. 

 We put out sunflower seeds and cracked corn kernels for many smaller bird friends. Our large new visitor liked this feed just fine, too.  And as Spring marched on, he found a girlfriend at long last!  We watched with anticipation when we saw a female join him in Bob’s pasture.  First our male hopped over and nibbled our treats, and his new lady friend followed when it looked safe.  The hen soon spooked and took off.  Later, Bob reported seeing a brutal and clumsy mating attempt in his field.  The new girlfriend was never seen again. 

Mr. Bird was starting to get cranky.  Without appropriate habitat, and his lack-luster performance in the romance department, he was probably out of luck for the mating season.  He took to blaming the entire neighborhood for this great misfortune. 

I was digging in the garden, pulling weeds and I saw my new companion approaching and squawking.  He lurched through the bottom of the fence, stepped determinedly, and then lunged directly AT me!  Thank heavens for my little female tigress-hearted cat, Tori.  She jumped out from nowhere and flew at him.  The bird shrieked, flapped his wings frantically and glided a short distance from our area.  Similar scenarios played out for days, then weeks.

The pheasant from hell was getting more and more brazen. 

My three of my cats were more and more intrigued and entertained by him. 

And I was finding it more and more difficult to garden without threat of attack!

These three cats typically do not have much use for each other.  They worked together to ambush the bird.  They triangulated, while the one out in front stalked and then pounced toward the pheasant.  The bird, when he saw this first whiskered nemesis, changed his course only to end up almost in the clutches of another cat.  This effective and fun strategy, as performed by my feline troupe, yielded results!  Within a month the cats had plucked the pheasant’s most resplendent mottled tail plumage until his rump was nothing but bristles.

I learned to call for my cats when the evil devil bird was approaching.  I’d hear his cries and watch in terror as he approached.  I would call out, “Tori! … Kitties!”  They came running.  They were always eager to resume the sport of “Get the Bird!”

By mid Spring, our pheasant tale was neighborhood lore.  The daunting fowl attacked our neighbor while he was digging.  Without thinking, Bob whacked the bird with his shovel and knocked him out cold!  Just as in the “Roadrunner” cartoon, the pheasant rose again, and was eager for more aggressions.  When construction crews pulled up in their big trucks, I would watch grown men being dared by this fowl to just try to get out of their vehicles and work.   A painter began painting the new house.  He would stand on the back porch to have a smoke.  The devil bird would perch on the edge of the deck and glare aggressively.  The painter swung his booted foot, connected with the bird and lobbed him off into the air.  I saw them repeat this ritual and neither of them ever seemed to tire of it!  The creature had spurs on his feet – how could I forget to mention that?  He backed me up and flew into me puncturing the back of my calf!  And then he executed the same attack against Bob’s wife, Sue.

As the day for my son’s memorial neared, my husband wanted to mow the lawn. A mere power mower was no deterrent for our pheasant!  As Russ pushed the mower back and forth across the lawn, my brother-in-law Tommy ran along beside, swinging a garden rake at the bird, to keep him from attacking. 

As Summer approached, the bird was getting more anxious to prove what a great mate and protector he would be.  He started to attack red, a color seen on the heads of potential competitor male pheasants.  If we dared to wear something red, he viewed it as an invitation to attack.  Russ’ red sweater (on Russ, inside our house) attracted attention through the window.  The demon came across two properties to land on our deck railing and cry, glare and fly at the window which was protecting Russ! 

I was starting to dread going outside to garden, for fear of attack…

My grief about Josh’s death had brought on a sullen dark mood.  On a beautiful day, I decided to go for a reflective walk.  As I approached the cemetery by the Church,  a wolf-like dog approached toward me.  As he wound his way through the headstones,  I could see this dog was a stranger.  I had an ethereal feeling about this animal and was not sure why he wanted to join me.   We walked together along the coastline to the seawall, and I was surprised when he followed me on the trip back to my home.  I went inside while the dog made himself comfortable on our deck.  He looked thirsty, so I brought him a bowl of water. 

Later I went outside to work in the garden.  The big dog was waiting for me.  After tiring of my work in the yard, I sat down with a cold beer to admire my abundant flowers.  I relaxed and the dog settled in the shadow of my chair.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the devil bird sneaking along the back fence line to my next door neighbor’s.  He marched through Arria’s yard and then headed straight across at me.  I cried, “Oh, no!”  

With surprising teamwork, the mysterious wolf-dog and my smallest cat took off after that demented bird.  The three of them disappeared behind the nettles clump.  In a matter of seconds, Tori emerged with pride and a mouthful of feathers.  Then the wolf dog appeared, with his trophy – the rest of the bird.  He ate it right there in the middle of our lawn.


                 I never saw the dog again.

What happened to Spring?

May has almost run its course and now we have howling winds, rain, and dis-energizing grey skies.  At least I had the foresight to sneak in a quick mowing of the lawn yesterday during a break in the weather.  I did as much as I could before the mower ran out of juice, and the sky opened up, soaking me and the yard.  We’d been gone a mere four days, helping my sister move across and out of our state.  Our lawn was clipped nice and short before we left.  It was about 6 inches tall upon our return!  We can mow at least twice a week this time of year.

Boise ID was about 85 degrees!  Ah, such warmth for our tired-of-driving-for-two-days bones!  On the return trip, we made a stop in Yakima WA  for a little sip of Wine Country and a stay at the Rosedell B&B.  Paul and Holly, owners and restorers of our inn for the evening, made us feel very welcome.   They shared their story and pictures of the renovation of their museum-quality mansion – now this Bed and Breakfast.  Toasty warm air – almost Summer, we thought.  We found Windy Point Vineyards just before they closed that evening.  We had time to taste and purchase some of their award winning wines.  Atop their hill we could gaze upon fruit trees and vineyards as far as we could see.  Before turning in for the evening, we had some of the best Mexican food at Santiago’s for dinner in the “corkage-fee free zone” of old-town Yakima (we could drink a bottle of our newly acquired Yakima wine, without being charged for having it opened.)

As we left Yakima the next morning, it started sprinkling, then pouring.  We took Paul’s recommended scenic route, to avoid I-90 road construction delays.  What a surprise to have almost-snow falling on us at the summit!  Brrr!  SEVEN hours later we were home!  Those scenic drives can take twice as long, can’t they?!

After a flurry of getting caught up activity yesterday, I feel restless and yearn for sun – it does peek out once in a while.  I don’t really want to do any more laundry and bill paying!  Outside is where I belong now!

The electric mower I bought last summer is recharging and I see a green light – maybe I can sneak out and finish up the mowing, if the winds have been strong enough to dry out the rain soggy lawn.  I call it a lawn – when we moved here, it was at least a couple feet tall – a tiny meadow of weeds.  Several years, a couple of weed-eaters and lawn mowers later, we have coaxed it into behaving more lawn-like.  Great for croquet, an island style (curvey, hilly, dandelion pock marked) course.  And then a few years back, after getting the so called lawn under control, we cut out huge chunks of it to develop flower beds. 

My bliss is found most often in the garden.  I’ve almost accepted that I *must* rush out into the yard, whenever the weather permits.  You never know when the next opportunity might arise (or not) … 

OK, I’m going to go for it – I see a break in the clouds!!

I’m a Dirty Girl!

Yes I have Spring Fever –  some may think it’s not SPRING yet, but it MUST be!  (Thank-you Divine Creator for “El Nino!” )  The birds are out (and so are my 4 cats) the trees are leafing out, the  forsythia, hyacinth and daffodils are blooming,  AND my allergies are in full bloom.

I have already MOWED my lawn – the earliest in history!  And I probably will need to AGAIN in a few days.

AND most importantly, my BEAUTIFUL DIRT has arrived – 13 cubic yards.  One pile of Smit’s compost and another of their soil mix, all organic, too.  My drive-way is smothered with it, and I can’t wait to start slinging the dirt.  My friends are now starting to question just how much dirt my yard requires.  My answer is “A LOT!” – every year!

The sun toasted the yard for several hours today and I jumped into action.  The weeds are slipping out of their beds easier every year – this compost is magic, soft, rich stuff.  If I work hard and fast enough, maybe I can even get a 2nd load this year toward the end of the “season” !!  And maybe I’ll lose another 15 or so pounds this season!  (Unfortunately, I did gain back a little bit of what was lost last summer.)

Stay tuned – maybe I’ll get around to some pictures when the sunshine becomes even more consistent.  If the weatherman can be trusted, after tomorrow’s showers — EIGHT DAYS of SUN!     Woo Hoo!

Spring Fever?

Usually with the NEW year, I get a little burst of energy – enough to help me actually gain momentum on some of those inevitable resolutions.  But this year it is so much MORE pronounced!  I’m not just talking about myself…

All of a sudden two friends have new lovers.  Several friends are taking on brand new projects.  Even the plants in our yard seem to brim over with an anxiety to “get going!” 

Is anyone else experiencing that?  Or do I just have premature spring fever?  Or am I just more aware FINALLY?!  or or or?

Island Deer Rips Out Heart of Rare Rusty Heron

Yes, it’s true! 

Not only have the deer murdered our potatoes, tomatoes, even squash,
now they turned on my treasured heron created by Lummi Island artist, Candy Jones. 


CSI:  Lummi Island was on the scene and gathered forensic evidence…

2009-09-13 14-25-45_0001

Heron found by Russ Thompson 9/13/2009 @ 13:21

Notice prostrate heron and supporting evidence: 
     chomped down zucchini squash in background

Closeup of ripped out heart!

Closeup of ripped out heart!



The heron has a beautiful fragile glass heart, which wasn’t broken, but notice the torn heart-strings.





Heron up on her foot

Heron back up on her foot


 Although she suffered from cardiac arrest, it turned out she did still have a leg to stand on.


We’ll see if Candy can perform necessary cardiac surgery and perhaps Ms. Heron will be back to 100%.



The suspect remains on the loose and has yet to be identified.

Okey-Dokey Artichokey

Hey we never grew them before.  And we thought we’d killed these two plants until we replanted them.  Loved that rich new dirt of ours! 

Here’s our first one we picked for dinner !!  I couldn’t get a picture of it while we were eating cause my fingers were all buttery!  mmmmmm!

Summer 2009 Artichoke - OUR FIRST!

Summer 2009 Artichoke - OUR FIRST!