Archive for March, 2013


March 23, 2013

We have a new cat. Well, to be accurate, as Mr.GG says, “We have a new USED cat”. We were down to just one gray tabby after my beloved 16 year old female died last summer. At that time, I swore I was never gonna get another cat, because I couldn’t go through losing any more critters. Even though Furbutt was cranky, incontinent, and very demanding, when she cuddled up against my belly at night, she purred like a 747 revving up for take off. I couldn’t believe how much I missed her. When the vet sent me a sympathy note, and later, a card saying they had donated a tree to a National Forest in Washington in her name, I lost it all over again.

So down to one cat, a very calm, stoic, 5 year old male, who doesn’t get excited about anything. He doesn’t like to cuddle, and always has a somewhat detached look on his face. He sleeps on the bed with us, but I think it is the BTU’s we put out, not a longing for our company. He’s big on watching. I have to stop myself from screaming, “Don’t judge me!”, when I’m on the receiving end of one of his stares.

Anyway, after Christmas I got a terrible cat craving. I started looking at shelter websites, and Craig’s List, and then a friend passed along an email about this yellow cat that needed a new home. With Mr. GG’s grudging assent, I called and interviewed with Sam’s owner. She’d raised him from a tiny kitten and he wasn’t going to go with just anyone. Now, I’ve never been attracted to yellow cats, but something about Sam spoke to me. We went for a home visit. We fell in love. A couple of weeks later we brought him home.

Holy Catnip, what a difference! Sam is a lap cat. He thinks people are there to adore him. And guess what? That really works for him. You have to pry him off your lap. In fact we now say stuff like, “I gotta pee. Can you hold the cat?”. Or, “I can’t get the phone, Sam’s on me”.

And that part about me not liking yellow cats? Well, the longer he lives with us, the more I see that Sam is a magnificent mélange of peach, apricot, melon, cream and russet. And here and there, an accent of iron ore. What was I thinking?


Sam has brought new energy to the entire house. He plays with Mr. Mittens (must I still use these aliases to protect the cats’ identity?). He learned to use the cat door in record time. All right, so he’s gotten a couple of birds, and Mr. GG wasn’t home to dispose of the remnants…. that set me back a bit. And ever since we discovered no counter was too high to keep him from a stick of butter – well, we are more careful about leaving food around.

Since we didn’t get to name him – he came with that moniker – I have to repress these nauseating urges to goo goo at him, and I hate to report this, but I have found myself calling him Sammers, or Samurai, or Sammerabi. Mr. GG is more restrained. His conversations are more like, “How you doin’, buddy?” Don’t let that brusque man talk fool you – Mr. GG is maybe even sappier than I am about the cat.

Anyway, whatever the reason, all the beings in this house are a lot perkier. Sam and Mr. Mittens play chase and get stoned on the same catnip filled banana. I have a kitty who likes to cuddle, and he sighs as he stretches out in my lap. Mr. GG has a nap buddy. Life is good.



Broken Promises of Spring

March 22, 2013

One of the things I miss most about my Mom is talking to her about our yards. Every January through April, our weekly phone calls tended to discussions of what we planned to grow that year, what perennials and bulbs were poking their noses out of the matted remnants of last years leaves, and which seed catalogs arrived that week. I gave her seeds and garden gift certificates for her birthday in January, and rose bushes for Mother’s Day.

My yard in Utah is mostly a grove of scrub oak. At one point I hired a landscape designer who came up with the most gorgeous arrangements of spiral paths and rock walls, all at a cost that staggered my almost limitless imagination. In previous homes Mr. GG and I had created rock walls all over the place. And my beloved gave me stuff like dump trucks full of topsoil, and mulch, and Mother’s Day trips to the nearest nursery, where I could fill wagons with any little plant I craved. When I see those commercials on TV where the guy gives the woman diamonds to show her how much he cares, I laugh. Diamonds are easy and trite. Ten cubic yards of mulch is the way to my heart. That man knows me so well. (Of course the fact that he has also showered me with moonstones set in silver does not hurt. Especially since he found them on Moonstone Mountain in Idaho, and cut and polished them himself, and set them into designs he came up with just for me. I am a lucky woman).

Anyway, back on topic. The landscape blueprints were a dream, and we never planned to live in this house long enough to invest that kind of money here. Instead we yanked out the junipers in front of the house, and after a couple of years of trying stereotypical English borders, I broke down and planted vegies amid the flowers. This is very trendy, and if done well, would have been quite interesting. Unfortunately, I went in without much of a plan (my general operating instructions in life lean towards the spontaneous). That bed is pitiful, just pitiful. Even though I used some really cool wicker trellises and an upside down tomato planter, without any structure, it was just a blob of green.

But some sort of yearning bugged me all winter. I have been toying with making a night garden and a fragrance garden in patio containers for a couple of years. Mostly that meant I planted a lot of heliotrope and Brugmansia, and bought stock and nicotiana and tried growing sweet peas and moonflowers. And potted up some night blooming jasmine, and bedded sweet alyssum everywhere. There is some sort of unidentified viburnam in the yard that perfumes the air for about 10 days every spring, and a scraggly mock orange that scents things a little later on in the season. I planted lilacs, but they are struggling.

This year I am planning. I invested in a 3 tier grow light contraption, and purchased seeds of stuff I’ve been dreaming of for years. Night blooming stock, zaluskyana – night blooming phlox, mignonette, lemon colored four o’clocks, and jasmine tobacco. I have three kinds of heliotrope on order from various nurseries. I am trying to find a source for sweet ciceley, a plant I adored and shudder to start from seeds. I believe it involves scarifying and 3 months in the fridge to germinate. There is a nursery in Idaho which carried it… maybe I’m due for a road trip this spring.

Anyway, this week I am in the grip of garden planning. I went a little crazy and ordered a couple of sweet olive plants, some horsetail, and some more seeds. I got some perennial cyclamens in bloom at the nursery. Then I got on eBay and bought an ungodly amount of bare root wildflowers to plunk into my “naturalized area” in the back yard. The stack of books on my bedside table is all gardening related, with sticky notes bristling from the pages. I am contemplating building a database to hold all the germinating and care instructions for new plants. Things are moving right along, and then this morning I wake up and find that it is snowing. A lot. It’s a good thing I am so spontaneous.