Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Little Sprout Break

Broccoli sprouting.

I always plant extra seeds every year, just in case I have low germination. Almost every year most things germinate just fine. :^) That leaves me with the always a little sad job of culling since I can't possibly grow 30 broccoli plants. For now though I just enjoy the color, the life and the possibility that they hold.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Owl Addiction -Molly and McGee

So a nesting pair of owls has been a bit of an addiction lately. It's crazy when it's 12:00 midnight and you're glued to the screen with thousands of other people watching an owl sleep. People all over the world have been tuning in to see Molly and McGee taking care of their eggs, eating rats, mice and rabbits, 'bonding', coughing up owl pellets, and turning eggs.

One has finally hatched. A small owlet named Max now has center stage while he struggles to hold his head up, screeches, flops around, is preened by his mother, eats shredded rodents and waits for his siblings to hatch.

Carlos and Donna Royal set up a nest box two years ago. It has taken until now for some owls to move in but it has been well worth the wait. Carlos is a very well-spoken, down-to-earth host. He and Donna have taken to the publicity and interest in their project with apparent ease and grace. Carlos carefully and thoughtfully responds to questions concerning Molly, McGee and their brood. He is even hosting discussions with school children and chat members.

If you have a few moments stop in and see Molly, McGee and their growing family. You may just stay for a while.

Stream videos at Ustream

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Polymer Zinnia Buttons -or I Can't Wait for Summer

One of my favorite annuals in the garden is the Zinnia. I can't wait for summer to enjoy zinnias in my garden. Until then I've been making some sets of polymer clay buttons and dreaming of my cutting garden.

I love the tall and colorful variety "Cut and Come Again" for cut flowers in the house. So cheerful, with a country flavor and naive innocence. A large bunch will stand alone in a simple canning jar or enamel pitcher. Like it's name suggests, keep cutting the flowers to enjoy indoors and it will reward you with abundant fresh new blooms.

"Envy" helps to fulfill my love of green flowers.

"Persian Carpet" is a low growing variety, fantastic in the border with its exotic petal shapes, intricate patterns and hot colors in gorgeous shades of mustard, maroon, yellow, red-orange and cream.

Zinnias are super easy to grow from seed given a sunny spot. Sow them directly in the garden after the threat of frost has passed and nights have warmed. Keep moist until germination and they will grow quickly. To encourage bushiness you can pinch back the tip of the plants once they have a few pairs of leaves. Disease-wise, they are susceptible to powdery mildew in very humid areas. I find this usually happens in later summer after I've already enjoyed a bounty of flowers. Being annuals they are easy to pull out and remove if they become unsightly.

Zinnias are a food source for butterflies and hummingbirds and are seem to be especially loved by children. I remember my grandparents' garden fondly and zinnias stand out bright and colorful in my memories.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Washington DC

We took a family trip to Washington DC this past weekend. In terms of weather and enthusiasm it was awesome! Blue skies, windy, a little chilly, no cherry blossoms... but limited crowds.

I could seriously camp out for days in the museums. The Renwick was our first stop. They are currently hosting an exhibit of items from the WWII Japanese internment camps. The focus was on crafts made by the detainees using materials on hand. It was amazing and humbling to see the beauty that arose from such limited materials and circumstances...uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Unfortunately photography was prohibited for this exhibit.

The rest of the museum is just full of wonderful pieces of American craft. The family especially enjoyed Larry Fuente's "Game Fish" sculpture.

The National Museum of Natural History...well that needs several days....we had three hours....sigh... Of course the kids loved seeing the dinosaur skeletons and fossils.

I could just lose myself in the beauty of the mineral collection. The Hope Diamond is exquisite of course, as were the other cut gems. The natural mineral forms and patterns however, just blow me away.

In the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, "Graft" by Roxy Paine caught the eye. The large metal tree sculpture was shining in the bright sun against the blue sky. Just awe-inspiring.

We also saw the Terra Cotta Warriors display at the National Geographic Museum. I remembered so many of the details from when it was published in the magazine. Again a fabulous exhibit that we were unable to photograph.

This sort of trip requires a lot of walking. Little legs finally gave out the second day. Dad had to do some carrying.

I hope the kids will remember this trip as a good time. I know they'll remember the cold as we waited to go up in the Washington Monument, and the long walks EVERYWHERE :^) We definitely plan to visit again in a year or two.

DrivewayHead by a Six Year-old

Captured after a warm afternoon. On the driveway. 7.5 x 5.75 feet.