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Off Topic - But Hey ..... It's Winter.

First, feel free to comment on what I'm about to post, or take the conversation in any direction you want to go. As noted, it's winter and there's not a whole lot going on outside here, so I've been musing.

I am, like a fair number of people who take the time to ponder life, more than a little disenchanted with the commercialization of Christmas. I know - THAT was a 'duh' moment, huh? It's just that Christmas has become all about commitments to the gods of acquisition, instead of commitment to nurturing relationships with the most important in your life. It's become more about 'things', and making sure the right people get enough to keep them from thinking you're cheap. Sigh.

I'm sorry. I'm really here to tell you a story about two familial glimpses of the real Christmas spirit that made indelible impressions on my heart. They both occurred at our extended family gatherings, one about 5 years ago, the other last night.

Gathered at our home were my three children and their families, my brother and 3 sisters and their families, and my mom. Prolly about 25 people. The grandkids open their gifts first, and they open them one at a time so everyone can see what they are receiving and enjoy their excitement. After a couple of rounds of gift-opening, it was my oldest grandson's turn. Seven years old at the time, he was 3/4 of the way across the family room and sort of in the middle of the gathering. He had a long, fairly large package; I don't even remember what was in it, but he was standing and turned sideways to me, tearing the paper off as he held the package clenched between his knees. Suddenly he just stopped opening the gift. Still holding the wrapping paper in his hands, he squeezed it in his little hands and brought his fists to his chest in a display of excitement. Clutching the paper to his chest and slightly bent forward from the waist, you could easily see the little shudder that went through him as he turned his head toward me and said, "Grampa, my feelings are all filled up!"

I thought, "From the mouths of babes ....." and my eyes suddenly filled with tears as I realized a grandfather had been blessed with a glimpse directly into his grandson's heart. I'll never forget that moment (waxing nostalgic now, in fact) and as soon as I regained enough of my composure, I charged my daughter with the responsibility of never forgetting it either.

*

Last night, the family gathering was at my brother's home. I have a sister that is sort of the black sheep of the family for a variety of reasons, and she normally doesn't attend family gatherings. She and her husband have a special needs daughter, her stepdaughter, who has learning and emotional disorders that are noticeable, but not debilitating, and I can't help but feel in my heart that they are not patient enough with her. She was abused by a member of her father's family as a small child, and undoubtedly bears the scars of that, along with her other crosses. The family has very little income and they just manage to get by, so she is not used to things that aren't essential to daily living. She is the sweetest child, and you can't help but immediately want to wrap her in your arms and squeeze her tight.

Upon arriving at my brothers and realizing that my sister and family were there, we were heartsick that we hadn't come prepared with a gift for the daughter. Since we have a granddaughter slightly younger, my quick-thinking wife changed a name tag on one of many gifts that were intended for our granddaughter. A couple of others employed some similar strategy so she would have gifts to open.

As it worked out, our gift was the first she opened. It was something that most of us would consider a 'filler' gift - just 'something' the child could open ....... but not to little Skyler. The gift was nothing more than a small and inexpensive assortment of bath amenities that had been packaged for children - bubble bath and the like.

When she opened that first gift, emotions too many to count played across her face. It was like you handed her the most precious gift that anyone had ever seen. She clutched it to her chest in the same way my grandson had clutched the wrapping paper. She sniffed the fragrance coming from the package, looked at it again, and then hugged it, repeating that sequence over and over; then she offered it to everyone near for a sniff, so they could also appreciate the fragrance. She even asked her mom if she could take a bath .... now.

I looked at my wife, sitting at my side to see if she saw what I did. I was already teared up, but when I looked at her, she was crying, which moved me even more to know that I wasn't the only one that was affected by what we had just witnessed.

To behold such pure joy and excitement was, to me, another blessing I'll count among those I could never forget. As I sat there thinking about what I'd just seen, the realization that what seemed like an insignificant gift that had been destined to be just another of many given to a child who had been blessed with a mother and father able to provide her with every advantage, had somehow been transformed into something very, very special - something that brought Christmas to a precious child ...... isn't that a Christmas miracle?

Al

Comments (150)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The dumb questions are rare around here because I haven't asked them in a long long time, I think.lol

    If anyone know the patience of you Al, I will be the frist to agree since I sure was a tough nut to crack, asking the same questions over and over, and well, the rest is history. I can't believe some of the older post's I use to post. I would rather not.lol
    The phrases" lay off on the watering can", and "growers convienence", and "operator error", I will not ever forget!
    Pwt, turface, FP, pumice, strained fir bark", gypsum, screening, gritty mix, and many other terms I have never heard before.

    Then too, everytime I see how happy and vibrant my plants are, I think of my dear friends here and all I have been helped with and not the hundreds of dead lost ones before I came hear! Thank God

    Felix: You are so lucky to live there! I love Maine and all that land! You could hear a bumble bee a mile away in the quietness up there.

    Jodik: I am so hoping you are much better:-)I will have some photos coming soon..I love pictures too! Wait until you see my bulbs I thought I would try.

    " What better way to say Hi" was awsome, and I get that this thread has the same tone to it. I love it. I must say that love this thread and I too am very BLESSED to know you too !

    I will be back with more pics, and by the way! What a video that was. Thank ViV and Al for that. Wowowowow

    Mike

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ;-) You've come a long way in the last few years, Mike. You should be proud of your diligence & where you are now. It's a joy to see how willing you are to help others. Strong work!

    Al

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  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Al and Mike. I do feel lucky. Don't get me wrong I love good neighbor's, just not right on top of me. Mike love your pictures and your tropicals. I hope I can hear those bumble bees. I will need those little bugger's for my blueberries! Filix.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al: It took a while, but I think I have improved..

    Do you rememeber a part of this thread?lol

    Posted by meyermike_1micha 5 (My Page) on Mon, Feb 23, 09 at 17:16
    ----------------------------
    "Ok Al...
    Thanks for helping. Here we go.

    It is in the 5.1.1 mix I made. I used a little gypsum in the mix."
    ------------------------------------
    I can't belive that I put gypsum in my mix instead of lime and couln't even comprehend why my plants were turning yellow after all the times you tried to explain..:-)
    Since that day, I have been managing to keep them nice and green. I will take some pics tomorrow and show you how green they are still:-)

    Thank you and to all my friends here.

    Felix:

    I must say that you have come a long way too! Thanks for the comments. Congrats on your new place. Wait until the summer comes and you get to go the beautiful coast. I staye in Maine last year, way up north. I woke up early one morning and I could here all the bugs flying around in the silence of the air. Just beautiful!
    I heard the bees are declining rapidly. I hope you can hear them too.

    Mike


  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Looking up thread even further, I noticed an unfamiliar name and a few I know!

    Noss: Welcome here and thank you for your kind words. Please, stay on the same ride with us. It can be pretty darn fun and exciting at the same time.

    Jojo:

    You know how we here in my home feel about your pooches! They are so cute, just like little kids in a candy store.
    Funny, my friend does the same thing for his, and his dog knows just what packages are his..
    He even has a stocking with his dogs name on it full of trscuits and biscuits! I'll bet his dog loves that time of the year..

    I love those pansies! They have such unique coloring and to think they braved your frost then endured the hot sun. Marvelous Jojo. By the way, my FIG tree is still in seclusion with temps in the 40's. I can't wait to put it back outside and see how it reacts to such a good sleep.

    Laura: How are you? I still have the icicle picture as my backround on the comp. and everyone here loves it. I use to have a tropical paradise one, but this picture is an exception..lol

    Hope you are doing ok..

    Jodik:

    How are you and your pooches too? I bet you are just getting a bit ancy to see that sun start getting to work to open all those buds on your roses! We are almost there Jodi. Almost, well at least in mind. That is how I feel everytime the ground is bare and the sun starts getting higher and higher in the sky.

    I bet your jade is reacting quite nicely. Have a great day Jodi and I pray you are feeling much better. I know winter can be very tough on you..

    Mike:-)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Everyone!!

    Thanks Mike..I'm glad that you like the icicles...they were quite beautiful hanging outside at night!!!

    The weather forecasters are saying that we might have another snowstorm brewing for early next week...Ugggg!!!

    I certainly hope they are wrong!!! LOL...I have already had enough!!!

    Hello to everyone!!!

    AL...You are way to funny...LOL...Score a huge point for you!!! I am still laughing...my sides even hurt!!!
    Paybacks....my friend!!! LOL.. : )

    Hope all is well with everyone...

    I am going to make my list of items for my 5-1-1 "Al's Mix"
    A nursery that was listed on another post gave me the name of a local nursery close to me in Richmond Va. Thank you to the person who posted the info for us here in Virginia!!

    I hope that I can get all the ingredients in one trip!!!!

    Wish me luck!! LOL...

    Laura in VB

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well Al and friends! Here are some pics of my plants still green after all I learned here form you all! I just took these today!

    {{gwi:3891}}

    {{gwi:56211}}

    {{gwi:56212}}

    {{gwi:3865}}

    {{gwi:56213}}

    THE HARDEST PLANT TO KEEP GREEN AND HEALTHY for this time of year: The infamous Gardenia

    {{gwi:56214}}

    {{gwi:56215}}


    Laura: Very beautiful INDEED your pictures! Let me know how it works out for your ingredients. If you can not find them, just let me know and I can send you much through mail, we know that is never a problem...:-)

    Goodnight All. I hope everyone is ok..

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Look at that wild man GO!!!!!!!

    (Words from a very old song "Alley Oop" ~ The Hollywood Argyles)

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Mike and the Magic Gardenia...!

    Those green leaves just blow me away!


    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lovely pictures, Mike! And, yes... I'm so beyond tired of winter, already! Spring cannot come soon enough for me!

    I've got nothing in bloom to photograph at the moment... just a bunch of green, as my plants try valiantly to survive the adverse conditions I'm forced to grow in. They're all doing good, considering the overly dry air. It will be nice to open windows in spring, and let in some of that fresh, naturally humid air!

    I still have quite a few pots to go in my re-potting process... other things have taken precedence, so that's on the back burner for now.

    I, too, just keep marveling at that Gardenia! It's so pretty... and so healthy looking! Great growing, Mike!

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just took 4" off the drive, sidewalks & decks this AM. ;o) The birds are feasting though. My repotting chores won't start for about 6-7 weeks, then I'll REALLY be busy until mid-Jun. I enjoy the winter 'off'.

    Braised pork tenderloin in caramelized onion gravy/sauce on the menu for later. Ask if you want the recipe - it's easy and a keeper. Hopefully the rest of the day will be a lazy one, other than the chefly duties. Later, guys.

    Happy Birthday again, Josh!

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, Al ;0
    Hoist of hank o' tenderloin for me!
    I have a love hate relationship with the pig.
    They're dangerous opponents and they ravage our lands....
    but oh how delicious when sizzling in the pan!
    Gravy goes with everything.


    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    WHAT A REAL WOMAN DOES

    A real woman is a man's best friend. She will never stand him up and never let him down. She will reassure him when he feels insecure and comfort him after a bad day.

    She will inspire him to do things he never thought he could do; to live without fear and forget regret. She will enable him to express his deepest emotions and give in to his most intimate desires.

    She will make sure he always feels as though he's the most handsome man in the room and will enable him to be the most confident, sexy, seductive, and invincible. . .

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *


    No wait... Sorry... I'm thinking of beer.
    That's what beer does...
    Never mind.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Josh, i have a love relationship with pigs. Therefore this is the reason I never eat pig.

    Pigs are playful.
    Pigs are pink.
    Pigs are smarter
    than you think.

    Pigs are pudgy.
    Pigs are plump.
    Pigs can run
    but never jump.

    Pigs are loyal.
    Pigs are true.
    Pigs don't care
    for barbecue.

    Lol...I do have a love hate relationship with dear though, since they are cute and ravage our lands too! But boy do they taste great on a barbecue, especially when they are skinned right with no hair left behind.:-)

    Jodik: Thanks so much for your kind words and notice of my plants. It means a lot from you, especially since we are growing in the same medium thanks to your encouragement and good friend Al! I was just thinking what you said today! About being able to open the windows again for that fresh natural humid air outside. Have you ever noticed the smell of the air and how clean it is when it fills the house the first time you open the windows? I LOVE it.

    Al: I love that song " Alley Oop"...lol(Oop-oop, oop, oop-oop)
    (Alley Oop, oop, oop, oop-oop)....You have a great night:-0)))

    Josh: it is only by way of magic having gardenias this green this time of the year up in this state.lol
    Thanks buddy!

    Ok, now shower time, sheesh...I can't remember one day lately that I have not posted anything on these forums everyone, can you? lol

    Mike

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al, that was terrific!

    Mike, what a great poem!
    Have you ever had venison medallions, wrapped around the outside with bacon and seared over a fire?
    That's a rare meal, indeed.

    Remind you to share The Rules of the Pig with you sometime....
    it might just change your tune ;)


    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I highly enjoy pork, but wild boar is even tastier! And who can resist bacon?!

    Cooking has never been my forte, however... I make a breaded pork tenderloin that consistently gets rave reviews! It's nothing particularly special, just a recipe passed from Grandma to Mom, and on to me. It's labor intensive to prepare, but oh, so delicious!

    Wild boar and domestic crosses make for fuller flavored meat, but they're mean and nasty while alive! They overpopulate some areas, and are a nuisance. They actually need to be hunted more.

    Good grain fed venison is so much better than any mass produced beef you can buy at a grocery store! I've heard some folks claim it tastes gamey, or requires cooking with tons of garlic and onions to hide the taste... or, they grind the whole thing up into sausage or jerky... what a waste! Illinois deer is fantastic... we butcher and cook it just like beef... steaks, tenderloins, roasts, stew, etc.

    Nothing like a big bowl of venison chili when the weather is cold!

    Mike, one of my favorite things to do in spring is to start hanging laundry outside to dry, instead of using the dryer. There's nothing quite like climbing in between fresh sun dried sheets that smell like spring air! You can't get that in a dryer sheet or fabric softener... even though they've tried to emulate it. It's not quite the same!

    We actually sleep with a window slightly cracked open during winter... I like the fresh air, and I sleep better when it's a bit cooler.

    We must be bored... talking about pork and venison! :-)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Everyone!
    I've been reading all the wonderful posts! And it seems every time I decide to post, something comes up. lol..
    How is everyone!?

    Al~ My son gets the biggest kick out of you taming the little wild birds. He's anxious to get his sunflowers planted and give it a try. Wants to grow the seeds. ;-) He gets that from me, I used to grow bird seed for our birds.
    We'll send you some come summer. ;-)

    Noss! So good to see you over here! I hope you stop in more often! I need to get back over to figs and see whats been going on. ;-) My trees are being stinkers, that's for sure. I hope yours are well!

    All the talk of pigs cracks me up! lol..
    My parents used to have 2 pot bellied pigs. Oh they made the nicest pets! They were wonderful and so smart! They had to lock the fridge, because one learned how to open it.

    Filix, your new place is wonderful! Looking forward to pics of it planted as far as you can see. ;-)

    Our weather has been spring like, and i've got tons to do in the yard, in ground garden, not to mention containers.

    I did some tree trimming the other day.. and look what I found..
    :-)

    Anyone know what this is? Im hoping its a praying mantis egg case!

    {{gwi:56216}}

    And this little beauty!
    Josh, still can't get them to sit still for a pic! LOL!
    But she was a little mad and shook up from the saw shaking the tree. ;-)

    {{gwi:56217}}

    Hoping spring finds you all soon!
    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    JoJo, yes, that's a praying mantis egg case! We have them everywhere! I don't dare do fall cleanup in any of the garden areas for fear of harming the many egg cases attached to everything!

    We began with a very small number of praying mantises. They seemed to remain in only one garden bed for about a year or so... then, they began to spread... the population grew... and now, they're all over the place! I love watching them, and they're wonderful predators! They work hard removing the bad bugs from our garden plants!

    We don't have many real ladybugs... but we do have millions of those nasty lookalikes... those Japanese Lady Beetles that live between the vinyl siding pieces on our house! They bite, they're everywhere, and I hate them! And they smell bad when you crush them! I don't know if they harm anything... or if they're just a huge nuisance.

    Nice pics, JoJo!

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Everyone...

    I have a few in my garden as well...here is a picture of a cutie that visited my Plumeria this summer!!!

    Enjoy...

    Laura in VB

    {{gwi:10906}}

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If I had an idea of about where to look in my album, I'd dig out the closeups I took a couple of years ago... I had no idea these helpful creatures came in such a lovely assortment of colors! We took pictures of praying mantises with copper colored abdomens, some bronze, and every shade of green imaginable! There were even some that looked quite fluorescent chartreuse!

    And talk about big bugs! Some of the females get really large!

    Nice budding on the Plumeria, Laura! Nice bug, too! :-)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Good evening, gardening friends!

    I'm enjoying the insect pics, as I'm a friend to the Ladybug and the Mantis myself!

    Today was absolutely beautiful in northern California, with the temperatures near 70F!
    A warm wind has been blowing, too. Shorts, t-shirt, and sandals....can you believe it?!

    Anyhow, I crossed a few more tasks off my list...I planted an Osage way out in the backyard,
    and I planted an Alaskan Fern in a Maple bed that I've been developing in the front yard.
    Now I have two less containers to take care of. It's always rewarding to release a plant
    to the yard. With that in mind, here are a couple pics of the site....

    The Alaskan Fern on the left was planted last January, and the Alaskan Fern on the right today:

    {{gwi:56218}}


    {{gwi:56219}}



    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You're just lucky ....... to live where it's warm enough that you can get out into the fresh air w/o a half dozen layers on. ;o) Brisk here now @ 10* with another night of something subzero as the predicted low.

    Everything looking good, guys!

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am with Al on that!!!!

    Only I got you beat Al. It is 7 and heading for -5 tonight! You know, when the west in unusually warm, that always means the east is unusually cold. Lucky us, right?

    Josh: I don't think I will be wearing sandals at this point until this ice age melts or wear the ones I use to wear after a shower at the gym..lol. Man, as much as I am jealous of your weather, I still love the pictures and the fact that someone is next in line for our weather once we warm up..ha..:-)
    What a warm and inviting set of picks buddy.
    Know exactly what your saying about setting a plant free. That is exactly how I feel when I can let all mine go outdoors after a long winter. Relief I tell you.

    Have you ever had venison medallions, wrapped around the outside with bacon and seared over a fire? NO. Are you inviting me for some?
    When ever your ready, you can share the piggy rules with me.lol

    Laura: How in the world did you even see that cute little creature? What's up with all you guys? You all have the most nicest bugs I have seen. I haven't seen a mantis since I was a kid 10 years ago!
    Laura the fact that you saw that mantis, and that small, the same color as your plant, tells me how in tune you are with your plants and nature. No wonder we all like you!
    Thank you for sharing that cut with us. What I would do to get my plumeria to do what that one is doing! lol Any of my 18 of them.

    Jojo: Now that you are getting very use to that camera, you should apply for a job at National Geographic! Your pictures are absolutely amazing and all the prior ones too. You get such good closeups of everything.
    I wonder what your weather is like? Have you had to shovel snow yet.
    By the way, my figs are still resting soundly in my shed, with a shovel load of snow on them once in a while, Al's idea..lol
    I bet you would just love our weather. Would you like me to send some your way?:-)
    Lucky you with the mantis egg. I think I will buy some come spring just for fun.
    A pig that knows how to open a refrigerator? lol I have a cat that knows how to open the bathroom door,,,,by the handle!

    Jodi: You make eating pig sound so, delicious! I forgot beacon comes from pig..lol. I guess I like pigs more than I thought..
    Please, find that album. I would love to see the closeups!
    Do you realize that I have someone else do my laundry. Eveytime they do, I pay extra just to have them put extra softener for that fresh smell..lol
    I just might hang a line outside and try what you said. It must be very refreshing. You know what else I love about the first few warm days of spring? The sound of tree frogs all over my brother and sisters yards since they live in the woods near some big swaps! I just love this.

    Al, I just thought of something? How in the world do those beautiful brids even eat if there is no one for a handout? You are a good man for caring for those little creatures. Just beautiful

    Excuse the spelling guys. To tired to go back and correct..lol

    Nite everyone:-)

    Mike

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If I hold the sunflower seed tightly so the chickadee can't snatch it and fly off to a branch and clench it in its claws while it works the hull off to get at the kernel, which is their habit, they will remain perched on the hand and keep pecking at the hull until it is removed & they CAN get at the kernel .... and then wait patiently for the next handout.

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    Unfortunately, we have a resident goshawk (or two). The bird is an amazing hunter, and I've figured his strategy. He sits atop the neighbor's tennis court fence, which is south and west of the bird feeder by about 200 yards. When the bird feeder is full of birds, he doesn't fly toward the birds. Instead, he flies away from them. They always notice and stop to watch, but are immediately reassured because the hawk is flying AWAY from them. After the hawk flies south a short distance of 100 yards or so, it makes a lazy east turn, which puts it in front of the house, blocked from the bird's view entirely. It then turns north, straight for the bird feeder, but flying low and still behind the house. As it reaches the roof in front, it flies just above the shingles so that when it crests the peak it is at full speed and directionally dead on the feeder and only yards from the perched birds. A goshawk is astoundingly nimble and amazingly agile. I have seen them fly through tangles a rabbit couldn't manage, so a rapid turn at speed is all in a days work for this predator. Today, I caught the blur of the hawk as it captured a dove. It flew to the fence you can barely make out in the photo above, because the fence is so out of focus in the close-up shot. There, it plucked & ate the dove.

    It's sad, but it's also something we have to accept if we are going to set the table for the hawks. Animals are very focused on conserving energy, especially in the winter when times are so difficult for them, and if we make it easy for them, they WILL take advantage.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al, you are so right. Nature is both cruel and wonderful, ugly and beautiful, and very good at balancing itself as needed. Everything is born, grows and dies, and nothing is wasted in the great ecological cycle of life. We are a part of that great cycle... a bit more so as gardeners, I think.

    Josh, your garden expansion is lovely. The rocks are very eye catching, and exactly what I would do! I'm totally jealous of your nice weather... we're still frozen and covered in snow, layering clothing to work outside! Even inside the horse barn, water buckets freeze solid overnight. Spring can't arrive soon enough to suit me!

    Mike, there's not only bacon on a pig, but also ham, sausage, pork tenderloin, chops, ribs, roasts, and I'm sure more cuts that I'm forgetting... I tend to separate pork from pig in my thought process. I enjoy meats, and I'd make a very poor vegetarian!

    The scent of fresh air and sunshine on laundry cannot be duplicated. It doesn't come in a bottle or on a dryer sheet, no matter what the advertisements tell you! Line drying laundry outside allows a certain stiffness to materials, but a quick shake before folding takes it right out. Even just hanging your blankets over a clothesline for an afternoon will give you a taste of that fresh scent!

    Well... it took me some searching, but I managed to locate the praying mantises... these were taken a couple of years ago, but their progeny lives on...

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    Every spring, as I work to clean debris and rake the gardens before growth begins in earnest, I must take special care to notice the mantis egg cases attached to the previous year's growth. As I encounter them, I break that part of stem and lay the egg cases up against the building or fence of that garden bed.

    As the warm days of spring wear on, I notice tiny green baby mantises crawling around on the plants. They resemble very small grasshoppers. They're too small at this point to make much of a dent in hunting anything, and I often wonder what it is they subsist on while so young. By midsummer, they're large enough to act the predators they are, and they're quite interesting to watch. By early autumn, they're mating and looking for appropriate places to build their egg cases, enclosing next season's population within. Somehow, they manage to survive the winter, dormant inside the odd shaped egg sacs. And as spring approaches, another life cycle begins anew. Fascinating!

    These beauties are perched among the Rudbeckia, Agastache, and Russian Sage growing on the south side of a large garage building, next to the driveway. As of last growing season, they had spread to include the Front Bed, the Shade Garden, the Miniature Rose Garden, and if memory serves, I even found a few roaming around the North Sidewalk Beds. Soon, they'll be quite widespread, and I'll be forced to limit any spraying or use of systemics only to those Roses that I absolutely can't lose to aphids! We rarely use chemicals in our growing, and we try to do everything outdoors organically, but every once in a while, Mother Nature requires a helping hand.

    I hope you enjoyed the photos... and the narrative following! Insomnia strikes once again, so forgive me for getting carried away! :-)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Love the pics of the chickadees Al. Here's a few from my old place


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  • 13 years ago
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    One more.

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  • 13 years ago
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    A whole bunch. filix

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  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    here's a picture of my pergola

    at my new house. filix


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  • 13 years ago
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    Great pix, guys. The caption on yours was pretty funny, Filix. I never could figure out what they're looking for when they select that single seed & fly away to open it, but (unless pressed for time by other anxious birds) they scrutinize them sooo carefully before they choose that 1 special seed. Lol

    Al.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jodi, awesome assortment of colored Mantis.
    I've never seen one so blue! I've seen pink, grey, and pure white before....

    Filix, that Wisteria covered pergola is outstanding. I like everything about it.


    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Al and Josh. But that pergola isn't mine. Its a 130 year old specimen that is in a well known garden in mass. I was just messing around. It is great though isn't it? To have that in my backyard would be a dream! But here's a rare albino chickadee. filix

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  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Is that pergola in the area of Westfield State College ?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Is it just me or does the little white guy look a little stiff? lol..

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    As stiff as wood! lol. The wisteria is in danvers mass at endicott estate. filix.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ROFL!
    Funny Filix!
    Wood was my first guess. ;-)
    Cute!
    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It's not just you, JoJo... that stare looks a little artificial, too! ;-)

    Nice photos, everyone! I can't wait until my Wysteria finally blooms. It's grown in a container, though... so I don't know if that will make a difference.

    What I wouldn't give for a pergola like that! Nice columns, nice large pathways, mature plantings...

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Your right Jodik. One thing about those albino chickadees they freeze when they see a camera! Thats why that stare is so phony! :) filix

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've seen them before somewhere... oh yeah, at the craft store! ;-)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Everyone!

    Jodi~ I love all the mantis pictures! Such neat colors! I grew something this past summer similar to your beautiful purple flowers. I belive it's in the sage family too. i'll have to find the label. The flowers are like velvet.

    Mike~
    Not even close to National Geographic, but thanks. ;-)
    And i'll pass on the cold stuff! LOL!
    Shovel snow here?
    Gosh no! It's never stayed on the ground more than a few hours. I doubt any one in Tucson shovels snow here. ;-) Not to mention we only see it about once every 7-10 yrs.

    O.K.!
    I have some cuties to share and their not quite as stiff as filix's birds. LOL!

    Look what arrived today!
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    It is so nice to have birds chirping in the house again! Dogs are a little confused though. ;-)
    English Budgies. The green is the male, and the other is female. Names are Taco and Sunshine and no I did not name them. LOL!

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
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    Cool - more critters. ;o) A handsome pair!

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Nice, JoJo! Budgies are one type of bird I've never had, but I've always found them to be so cute, and their colors so pretty! Awesome pair! Will you breed them? :-)

    Quite a few different perennials resemble the blue/purple flowers of Sage... this happens to be Russian Sage, Perovskia, with finely cut silver/gray leaves. A large plant when left to grow on its own! The family of sages is quite large and varied, too.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey, JoJo!
    My sister had Budgies once!
    Nice addition to the family ;-)

    Josh

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Everyone!
    Al~Jodi~Josh, Thank you!

    Al~ never can have too many critters. ;-) At least not here. lol!
    Turtles on my wish list, and lots more birds.
    It has been so wonderful the past 2 days hearing them chirp! I really missed having them, more than I realized.

    Jodi~ I will set them up to breed in a few days. The babies are so cute and so much fun! They are just little clowns! And the colors, well it's rare a clutch will look like either parent, so it's always fun to see what shows up!

    Jace is excited to have them again too!

    The dogs aren't sure what to think. They run around looking for the chirp.

    And poor Bitsy, She was pretty out of it yesterday after the surgery and I think she's still convinced she was hearing things. LOL!

    Well Jodi it turns out my plant is in the salvia family.
    'Salvia leucantha'.

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    I've had a long day out at Old Tucson Movie Studio's and now i'm gonna go kick back for a few. I'll post some pictures later.

    Take care all!
    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi JoJo,

    Beautiful Birds...will you post some pics of the babies once they arrive? Love to see them.

    Loved the Salvia too!!

    Take care everyone!!!

    Laura in VB

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi JoJo,

    Beautiful Birds...will you post some pics of the babies once they arrive? Love to see them.

    Loved the Salvia too!!

    Take care everyone!!!

    Laura in VB

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok, ok..I am givning in!

    I am on the prowl for either those birds or a couple of green singing finches. Jojo, you just made me realize how much I miss hearing the singing of birds in my home.lol
    It made winetr go by so much better than the dead silience in my home.
    I think I know who named those birds..lol. Such cute names that only a kid or two can come up with.
    I would love for you to raise them along side of us, all the way to the brood, hatchlings, and babies. I would love that Jojo since I have a thing for birds. Just love them and you have yourself such a beauty of a pair!

    Hi Al, Jodi, Josh, Jodik, and Laura! I missed all while I was sick.;-)

    Laura. I have been sooooooo sick and now that I have got better nergy, it's time to catch up onmy e-mail.
    I am sorry about the delay bust just know that I appreciate you and the rest of the bunch here. I am SO BLESSED to have such great friends as you all.
    Love you all!

    Mom, says to send a group hug to you all!

    Mike

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Everyone!

    Mike, Laura,~
    Thank you. ;-) Yes, I will post pictures when they have little ones. :-)

    Mike~

    So you want birds again now. lol...
    Good luck hunting. I've been searching day and night, and just found some i'm absolutely in love with, but $450 a pair is a little steep right now.
    I'll post a link at the bottom. They are called Lineolated Parakeet.

    No one here named the two I posted. Those are the names they came with and to be honest , I don't like either name. lol.. But will keep them with those names, it's what they are used to.

    Laura~ The humming birds really enjoyed that salvia! It grew like crazy too! from a 6" pot to a 3' bush in one season!

    Well,
    Cold, windy and rainy today! Josh, it's here! lol! Hail even today! Expecting a hard freeze tonight.

    I moved mt plants hopefully for the last time this season!

    Mike~ Sorry to hear you've been sick. I hope your doing better!

    Tell mom thanks for the hugs and hugs right back!

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OOPS! Forgot the link. lol..

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lineolated Parakeets

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What a great thread it's been! ;o) Thanks to all for the fun!

    Al