MORE BEAUTY

If you are viewing this post from the website, you will see a large “Featured Image” right above this paragraph. This image shows a lot of detail because it is so much larger than the other ones in the post. Unfortunately, this Featured Image does not come through on the emailed post. The reason I am telling you all of this is so you won’t think I’m crazy when I refer to the “featured image” in a post, in case you can’t see it.

PICTURES AROUND THE YARD

This time of year it is so nice to just walk around the yard and check out the flowers that have popped up seemingly overnight. It is especially nice now with us all being on lock-down and confined to our homes. The beautiful colors of the flowers serve to brighten the funky moods we may be in due to the restrictions of the Covid virus.

This week’s featured image is a picture that Linda took of blooms on one of my mother’s roses. When Linda and I moved into our little house on 17th Street in Lumberton, we dug up one of my mom’s favorite roses from her house and planted it at our house. Then a few years later when we moved to Washington state, we took a couple of cuttings from that rose and planted them at our new house in Yakima. The cuttings miraculously survived and both rose bushes have thrived. I so love to watch them bloom each year, and it seems like in the Springtime they are the prettiest.

Other flowers are now blooming besides the ones I have mentioned in previous posts. We now have some more Gallardia plants busting out in bloom. One plant that we have in the back yard is very different from the rest of them because it is all yellow. The picture below shows the regular Gallardia plant (of which we have so many) on the left, and the yellow one on the right.

Front yard Gallardia on left, back yard Gallardia on right

Walking on around the yard, I found a gorgeous Yarrow plant out near the street, in full boom. Around beside the garage, I ran into some pretty purple flowers on one of our variegated Sage plants.

Yellow Yarrow flowers on left, Sage bloom on right

Speaking of Sage plants, we actually have three different kinds. I saw these at the Country Farm & Garden Center a few years ago and couldn’t resist getting them because the leaves were so beautiful.

Common Sage leaf on left, Variegated Sage on top, Purple Sage on bottom

On around the house to the herb garden area, I came upon my huge parsley plant from last year. A couple of them survived the winter and actually produced some parsley before they started to bolt. I found a little red friend on it, a ladybug. A couple of days earlier, I had discovered a lot of ladybug larva and pupa on a bush nearby, and I think this little guy was newly matured because his spots were very faint.

Ladybug on Parsley plant on left, huge Parsley plant about to bolt on right

While we are on the subject of bugs, I discovered a Praying Mantis egg case, technically called an ootheca. I am keeping my eye on it in hopes that I can see the little buggers when they hatch out. I also came upon a huge Skeeter Eater on the back porch. I hope he eats his fill of those pesky mosquitoes.

Praying Mantis ootheca (egg case) on left, Skeeter Eater on right

Across from the herb garden is the lettuce bed, and since I was there I decided to take a picture of some of the lettuce so you can see its progress. The leaves are actually beginning to look like real lettuce now. I see delicious salads for lunch in my future!

Parris Island Romaine Lettuce

It’s time for the prerequisite bird photo or video. The video below starts out with a Scrub Jay who just happened to perch on the back porch railing one evening as we were watching television. He stayed there long enough for me to run get my camera and get a short video. Next up on the video is another short snippet that I took on Memorial Day. I was sitting under our tree and looked up to see a hawk soaring on the thermals.

Video of Scrub Jay and soaring Red-Tailed Hawk

PARTING SHOT:

Summer Girl has been enjoying a lot of naps lately. I am guessing that since the weather is better at night, she may be out and about more so she sleeps during the day to catch up. Whatever the reason, her favorite place to sleep in the mornings is on the big bed. Don’t you wish you could sleep with your feet up above your head?

Little Summer Girl catching a morning nap

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

GARDEN BEGINNINGS

I have another beautiful flower picture for you this week, and it is a beauty. The picture below was taken in our front yard, and is of a Gallardia flower. We have loads of these plants coming up every year and they are so pretty. This one was the first Gallardia to flower this year.

Gallardia Flower

I have finally made a start on my vegetable garden for this year. Last week, I shared a picture of the plants that I had purchased so far, and I added a few more plants into the equation this week. I actually made my initial planting of lettuce seeds (two different kinds: Ed Hume Parris Island Romaine and Ed Hume Bon Vivant Blend) and kale seeds (Ed Hume Blue Curled Scotch) on Friday. I also planted some beet seeds (two different kinds: Burpee Detroit Dark Red Medium Top and Irish Eyes Early Wonder Tall Top) the next day on Saturday. The beet seeds were several years old so I was reluctant to use them, but I didn’t have anymore and I wanted to get them in the ground right away. I figured I wouldn’t be out anything if they failed to come up.

I went out and checked on the progress of my seeds every day. We have miraculously had some rain this past week, so I am sure they were glad to get some natural water instead of water from a hose. On Tuesday, I was surprised to see the Romaine seeds were already sprouting above the ground! As you can see in the close-up below, they were just barely peeking up. I don’t know of anything that is more exciting to a gardener than having your plants start to come up.

Lettuce seeds coming up, picture taken May 12th

The next morning, the other lettuce seeds were coming up and so was the kale. I have checked on them every morning since and they are all looking really good. We are going to be set in the leafy greens department this summer!

Lettuce plants already up, picture taken May 19th

Just for the record, here are the plants I have for my vegetable garden (numbers are subject to change per my whim): 18 pepper plants, 7 tomato plants, 9 cucumber plants, and 3 yellow squash plants. Plus, I have a brand-new packet of zucchini seeds that I will plant 3-4 of as soon as I get the garden area ready. Not to mention the following plants in the herb garden: 4 Curly Leaf Parsley, 1 large Italian Parsley, 1 Mammoth Basil, 1 Fern-Leaf Dill. I do believe that this is going to be it, but then I always say that at the beginning and then wind up with even more plants later. We will see. I am just hoping I can get it all to fit!

One other thing I did last week was to move the two asparagus plants that came up over to the herb garden area, where they will get more water. These asparagus plants have been in the ground about 4 years now, and I have yet to get a harvest off of them. I think I didn’t water them enough, so I hope that moving them does the trick. If they don’t do anything next year (it’s too late for this year), then up they will come!

My pathetic asparagus plants

So this past week has been mostly about getting things ready for the garden. I had hoped to get the garden area ready for planting, but I was a little too gung-ho with raking one day and hurt my shoulder. I am playing it safe by resting it for a few days. And we have had actual rain today, people! Not just our usual drizzle, but real rain. The word “rain” has a much different connotation in Yakima than it had in North Carolina. I think we have had a North Carolina-style rain only a handful of times in Yakima since we moved here 13 years ago.

Even if the weather is yucky, there is nothing that will lift your spirits like getting a “just because” present from someone. My cousin in Pennsylvania messaged me last week to be on the lookout for a package on Friday. Sure enough, it arrived, and just in time for drinkiepoo. I opened the package to find four beautiful vintage-style canvas pictures of my favorite thing in the world…birds. The next day I hung them up in our puzzle room, which also happens to be the computer room. I wanted them there so I could look at them for inspiration while doing my blog. In the picture below, you can see that I hung one of them behind the computer monitor (beside my print of Audubon’s painting of the Carolina Parakeet). Right now I am looking at the one to my right, which has the Washington State bird on it, the American Goldfinch (lower left in the picture below). The other two are hanging on our “Art Wall” which showcases some of our special items (lower right).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper blog of mine if it didn’t include a picture or a video of some kind of bird. This week I am sharing this video below, which I have named “The Birds and Bees.” It starts out with bees buzzing around our Salvia plants, and then moves on to a California Quail sitting on the front bird feeder hook. Lastly, we join a Red-Winged Blackbird for lunch. His call is so loud I sometimes feel like I need to wear earplugs!

Video “The Birds & Bees”

PARTING SHOT:

Along with the rain this week we also had some beautiful weather, so Linda and I had the opportunity to sit outside on our patio. Summer Girl graced us with her presence, and she had such a sweet expression on her face that I just had to take her picture as proof that she can be sweet when she wants to.

Summer Girl in your face!

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

NATURE’S SPRING PALETTE

This week during our walks we were treated to some of the most beautiful flowers I have seen in a long time. We took a bit of a different route and were treated to a wonderful array of colors on display in the front yards around the neighborhood.

Laburnum Tree

The tree in the photo above was our first encounter along our new route. The colors were so vibrant, with the bright green leaves contrasting well against the stark yellow of the flowers. Upon looking this up on Google, I found that this is the Laburnum Tree, also called the Golden Chain Tree or sometimes the Golden Rain Tree. Either one of those names very aptly describes this lovely tree.

Moving on along, we rounded the corner and came upon this gorgeous bush on a driveway. Linda immediately recognized it as a Rhododendron. We have seen these bushes around Yakima but I don’t believe we have ever seen one this big here in this dry climate. It was gorgeous!

Rhododendron Bush

A little farther down this same road we came to a house that we have admired for quite a while. This house sits on a corner right across from the park where we often walk (when it’s not crowded). This house has some pretty roses right at the corner, but on this particular day the Bearded Irises drew our attention because they were absolutely stunning (see picture below). I was so glad I had brought my phone along because it takes some really good pictures. There were also several beautiful Columbines in full bloom (which is the featured photo at the top of the blog). We tried to grow a Columbine in North Carolina, but our yard just did not have enough sun.

Bearded Iris
Columbine

We made our way back home from the walk, our bodies not only rejuvenated from the exercise, but our souls as well. I feel like it always does me good to get out into the fresh air and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, especially now during this time of quarantine and isolation.

The day before this walk, we were talking over the fence to our next-door neighbor (at an appropriate socially-distant span) about the Wisteria vine that is growing along the fence. We remarked how this vine never seems to have any blooms on it, when all of a sudden I spied one solitary bloom on our side of the fence. I quickly took a picture of it for posterity.

Wisteria Vine

There weren’t many opportunities for videoing anything new this past week as we didn’t go out anywhere for a walk other than around the neighborhood. However, as I sat out on the patio one day I noticed several bees buzzing around the Chive blossoms that surround our sitting area. I grabbed my camera and came away with this video below (parts of this video have been edited in slow-motion).

Video of Bees at Chive Blossoms

Our latest puzzle was one by artist Charles Wysocki that was given to us by our good friend Linda H. (you know, Summer Girl’s BFF). Unfortunately, we were unable to finish this one because the part up at the top was just too difficult for us. Puzzling has to be fun, and if you find that a puzzle is starting to frustrate you too much, that’s when it’s time to stop. So we almost got it done, but not quite. We passed this one on so someone else can enjoy it.

Charles Wysocki Puzzle

Today, Wednesday, May 13th, is the first day I have been anywhere to a place of business in two whole months! Today, Linda and I ventured out to the Country Farm & Garden Center so I could get my plants for this year’s garden. I am so excited about having a garden this year since I didn’t get to have a real one last year due to being gone on our Back East Trip. So, I guess I went maybe a bit overboard (or maybe not), because here is a picture of the plants I got.

Plants for Garden 2020

It may not look like much now, but keep in mind that these plants will get significantly bigger than they are now. Hopefully this year’s garden will be a big success, because we definitely need some success about now. Keep your fingers and toes crossed. Now all I have to do is wait another week or so to plant, just to make sure we don’t have a late-season frost. In the meantime, I still have weeds to dig up, leaves and old straw to rake up, and soaker hoses to check for holes.

PARTING SHOT:

This week’s Parting Shot was taken as Linda and I sat outside on our front porch, having our Friday evening drinkiepoo…our favorite time of the week. Summer Girl would have joined in with us, but she was just too tired from having slept all day long.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

RENEWAL

I am so glad that Spring is finally here and the weather is getting warmer. It is so nice to see things being renewed, right in front of your eyes, after a long winter. It makes you want to get outside and do things, although now we are very limited in the sort of things we get to do. This past week, Linda stated that she wanted to go somewhere to walk besides just around the neighborhood. I figured that the Yakima Arboretum would be a good place since it has wide-open spaces and if we went early enough, might not be crowded. So we headed that way one morning on the early side and there were only about three other cars in the parking lot when we got there. We immediately headed for the pond area because I wanted to see if there were any baby ducks or geese around. Although we didn’t see any babies, we did see this guy on a fishing expedition.

Yakima Arboretum

The heron stalked around on the edge of the pond for a while, but never did catch anything while we were watching. We were standing in the shade and the grass was wet, so we decided to move on so we could get in the sun, as the air was rather chilly that morning. A little squirrel bid us farewell as we left the shady area, and a robin atop a tree welcomed us into the sunlight.

We walked on around different areas of the Arboretum, enjoying all the beautiful colors that were evident in the tree blossoms.

Clockwise from top left: English Hawthorn, Sycamore Maple, Unknown (couldn’t find a tag), and Japanese White Pine

Moving on, we approached a tree that looked entirely purple from a distance. Even the bark on the trunk looked purple, but when we got up close to it, the purple hue on the bark went away. I suppose it was due to the reflection of color from the great number of purple flowers on the tree. We found a tag on this one and it said it was a Redbud Tree. We had a small one of these trees in our yard in North Carolina but we never got to see it bloom.

Redbud Tree

We had such a good time at the Arboretum that we decided to take a walk at Randall Park one day last week. I was somewhat hesitant because that is a very popular park and I was afraid it would have too many people there for my comfort level. Once again, we went kind of early so there were only a couple of cars there when we arrived. Although it was a beautiful, clear day, there was a chilly wind blowing so we immediately headed for the viewing area. My main reason for going to the park was to check on the baby duck and geese situation. From half way between the parking lot and the viewing deck we could see a family of ducks gliding across the surface of the pond. Once at the deck we could see them better, and I counted 11 babies swimming around. I was so excited to finally see some baby Mallard ducklings. We saw a lot of adult Canada Geese, but no babies. It must be too early yet for them to have goslings.

Mallard Family

As I was on the viewing deck, I saw a female Red-Winged Blackbird hanging around near the edge of the deck. When she flew off, I moved over there to see if she had a nest going in that area. Much to my surprise, I found this guy basking in the sun.

Sunning

When we first walked up to the pond area, we happened upon an egg sitting in the dirt. A few feet away was another egg just sitting in the dirt. A young couple found what looked like the beginnings of a nest in the bushy area nearby, so they gathered up the eggs and placed them there. I’m not sure why they were not in a nest to start with, and at that point the eggs were most likely not viable, but it was nice to know that these two young people cared enough to attempt to rescue the eggs.

This past week wasn’t all about getting out into Nature and taking walks. We also had the occasion to have some excellent beer, which was given to us by the husband of one of my previous co-workers. He and one of his friends have been brewing beer as a hobby, and he graciously gives us bottles to sample whenever they come up with a new batch. So far, every single bottle that he has given us has been excellent! Linda and I both have said that we would pay good money for this beer. Most of the craft beer around this area is very hoppy (IPA’s and the like), and seeing as how Yakima is the hop capital of the United States, and the second-largest hop producer in the world, it is somewhat understandable. But I can’t for the life of me bring myself to really like hoppy beer. The beer we get from our friend, however, is very smooth and drinkable. A couple of weeks ago we were gifted two large bottles of Stout beer. Since I am not a big fan of stout, I let Linda have both bottles (although I did taste it, and it was very good). Saturday night Linda had a bottle of the stout, and she said that it was the best stout she has ever had. Now, that is saying something because she really likes the dark beers. Irish Death, which is a locally brewed dark ale from Iron Horse Brewery, is her favorite beer. She said that this stout was almost as good. High praise coming from her. She enjoyed her beer in the Disneyland mug that belonged to her father, seen in the picture behind the mug.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. When you no longer have your mother with you, it is basically just another day. And with the Covid messing around with everyone’s plans, it certainly isn’t like it used to be for anybody. But whether your mother is still alive or not, and whether you get to be with her or not, you can still indulge yourself in precious memories of her. I received an email this morning from King Arthur Flour (KAF), one of my favorite recipe blogging sites, with a link to today’s blog (link below).

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2020/05/06/baking-with-mom

The title of the blog is Baking With Mom, and it has several of the bloggers and associates at KAF recounting stories of baking with their moms. This got me to reminiscing about baking with my own mother. She was a pretty good baker, and I have yet to taste a coconut cake or fruitcake that could rival hers. But the thing I remember us baking together most often was Toll House Cookies. We would bake up several batches around Christmas time and give some to neighbors and keep some for ourselves. She had this huge, red round tin container that we would keep them in. And of course, when they came out of the oven, we just had to have one or three to sample, just to make sure they came out okay. So this Sunday, take the time to recall some of your own memories of your mother, be it baking with her or doing something else entirely. It is so, so true what they say…she will not always be around.

Momma in her kitchen

This brings us to the end of this week’s blog, and to that feature that I know everyone just loves…the Parting Shot. This week we have a two-fer; a picture of the last puzzle we finished, and also a picture of Summer Girl helping us finish it. I do not know how we would have been able to finish it without her help.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

AH, SPRING!

Spring is well underway here in Yakima, and the birds and bees are doing what comes naturally. So are all the flowers, which are popping up all over the place. Just walking around our front yard this past week, I was able to see quite a few beautiful blooms on display.

Most noticeable are the tulips that are around our driveway. Our bigger pink tulips have all bloomed out now, but the smaller ones that are a variety of colors are out in full force. I think my very favorite one is the red surrey with the fringe on top.

Lace-Fringed Tulip

Some of these beautiful Red Lace-Fringed Tulips are coming up in amongst the Baskets of Gold, and the color contrast is absolutely stunning.

Another one of my favorites is the Purple Tulip that we have in front of the porch. These little guys are having a time fighting their way through our mass of Variegated Solomon Seal plants.

Not to be outdone is the two-toned Peaches & Cream Tulip. I don’t know what the actual name of this one is because there are a bazillion different tulip variations, but that’s what I like to call it. It is a beauty.

“Peaches & Cream” Tulip

The tulips aren’t the only things blooming. Our Lilac bush is busting out with blooms all over, and they smell so sweet. We have seen several different kinds of lilac bushes in the neighborhood on our walks, and most of them are a much lighter color. Ours is a very deep purple, with each flower outlined in white. I found the name of this one online, it is the Sensation Lilac, and the white edging is very distinctive on this particular bush. I think it lives up to its name.

Sensation Lilac

We have seen some bees around the yard already, but the plants that they really flock to, the Catmint and Salvia, are not blooming yet. One good note, though, is that at the end of the growing season last year, I found three new Peony plants coming up near the one I had. They have survived the winter and are now growing up. Here is a short video showing the baby peonies, with Mama peony at the end.

We’ve had some bird activity around the yard, too. The back bird feeder has been getting visits from the male Red-Winged Blackbirds a lot lately. They usually descend upon it in the evening in groups of three to five or six birds. We see the females a lot less often, but I did manage to catch a group of them a couple of days ago. Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch…

Our favorite Quail couple is still visiting us almost every evening, and sometimes during the day. Mrs. Quail has even been seen up on the bird bath, drinking her fill of water. I love the way the male stays right at her side to protect her. I imagine that she is carrying his babies, or will be soon. When I started to take this video, I couldn’t see the female at first because she was ensconced in a dirt hole. She looks so happy to be getting a dirt bath!

Linda spied our little Ruby-Crowned Kinglet yesterday, but I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a picture of him. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled the next few days in hopes that he will put in another appearance. He is so cute, I hate to miss him when he passes through!

I think Summer Girl may be getting tired of us being around the house All. The. Time. She has gotten quite fussy when I interrupt her daydreaming to take her picture. If she keeps on, she will lose out her spot in the Parting Shot to one black labradoodle…just sayin’.

That’s it for this week, my friends. Remember: stay home, stay safe, and wear a mask when you go out…oh, and wash your hands! See you back here next week.

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