Wednesday, June 29, 2011
We stayed three nights at Disney's Polynesian Resort. Hawaiian pool, the monorail is in the hotel and we watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks on their beach every night. A great view of Cindarella's castle with the music piped in. You can't really enjoy the whole fireworks show in the crowd at the Magic Kingdom, but across the lake, wow, you take it all in.
We stayed three nights at the Wilderness Lodge Resort which is modeled after our National Parks. Breathtaking arcitecture. A geyeser goes off every hour. Wonderful pools and hot tubs. Beautiful grounds. The family style BBQ dinner in their Wispering Pines Cafe was so good we ate there twice. The servers are hilariously caustic.
We stayed our last like at the Hard Rock Hotel on Universal Studios property. This was a beautiful hotel and surpassed Disney on amenities. Q-tips, cotton balls, a make up mirror and Keurig hot beverage machine in the rooms. I never make tea in hotel rooms because it always tastes like coffee. I was really excited because we have a Keurig at home. Alas, the one in our room didn't work. The pool wasn't very deep. Most people sat in the water. Wasn't really our crowd, since we aren't drinkers. But everyone was nice.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
There is some conflict on whether polys are considered a breed or not. Since the extra toe is a genetic mutation, some breeders consider it a flaw. Some breeders, especially Maine Coon breeders,recognize the polydactyl.
Back in the day, Polydactyls were very popular on ships. Those large paws helped them earn their keep as mousers. In fact, it was a ship captain that gave Hemingway his first polydactyl. The actual Hemingway cats, rather the descendants of the Hemingway cats, reside in Key West at Hemingway's former home. He left instructions in his will for his cats to be cared for. Their progeny, approximately sixty in number, can still be seen today at the Hemingway Museum.
Before they became popular with ship captains, they were often associated with witches and killed.
Their unique paws allow these cats to perform feats other cats only do in their dreams: open latches, catch things with one paw, etc.
If one parent of a litter is polydactyl, half the kittens will be polydactyl as well.
The only health issues that these kitties have that I'm aware of is that the extra claw can become ingrown and needs to be kept clipped.
Any Poly owners out there?
Shardai is a large sleek cat with attitude. He has the courage of a tiger and the disdain of a king. The fearless feline has only one weakness...his guardian. He would do anything for her, even come back from the afterlife.
E Book $0.99
Thanks Paul and Tami. This is a hoot.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
You know every seed is different from every other seed from basic biology class. Even though every plant in a field of corn, or wheat, or each pink petunia, might look the same to us, each plant has its own identity, a face as different as yours is from mine. Which means every packet of seed you plant contains the possibility of surprise, like finding a red green bean or a green sunflower.
In 2006 I planted some seeds for Papaver orientale 'Brilliant' from Thompson & Morgan Seeds. I selected the seeds for their orange bloom, and planted five pots in January, with plans to place them in my orange and pink garden later in the spring. (After all, you can only have so many poppies in a small garden!) Last year they finally bloomed. While two of the plants bloomed in slightly different shades of orange, and two had to be transplant so were set back and haven't bloomed yet, the fifth plant bloomed pink.
(Off topic: Have you noticed how difficult it is to photograph orange? It never seems to fit in with rest of photograph. Same with white and black.)
Both of these plants are huge, 40" plants with blossom stems reaching 48" and more, and luckily, the pink still goes in my pink and orange color scheme. Especially, since due to the poppy's taproot, it is nearly impossible to transplant once established.
Now, this could be a genetic change, but, what I suspect is more likely is that a seed from another poppy type somehow flew into the mix. However it happened, it was a great surprise!
Update: This year I had four pink poppy plants! The first one bloomed two weeks later than the other pinks, which bloomed before any of the orange poppies. When gardening always expect the unexpected!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Most of us that love cats--and even those that don't--are fascinated by the wild jungle cats, their beauty, power and grace of movement. That is what makes the Savannah such an intriguing specimen. It's a combination of both.
The Savannah is the result of breeding domestic cats with Servals. Servals are a medium-sized African wild cat.
Savannah's have a filial number: F1, F2, F3, F4 and so on.
An F1 generation Savannah is at least 50% Serval.
An F2 generation is 25 to 37% Serval. This cat usually has a grandparent that is Serval.
F3 is third generation and is about 12.5 % Serval.
F4 is a purebred.
The physical characteristics of these cats are long, deep cupped ears, hooded eyes and they're very leggy. The early generation Savannah's have dark spots on a lighter coat, giving them the look of the Sevals. The largest known Savannah cat: Scarlett's Magic is forty- two inches from nose to tail and eighteen inches high from shoulder to toe. The largest Savannah's are normally the F1's with the most Serval in them. Their size goes down with their number.
Savannah's are very social and loyal cats. Like dogs they can be trained to walk on a leash and even fetch. These cats are also known for their intelligence and many can figure out how to open doors and cupboards. They love water and have been known to shower with their caregivers. They're jumpers. Some can jump up to eight feet.
Savannah's may either chirp or meow.
If you're thinking of getting a Savannah, check your stay laws first. Some states are more restrictive than others on hybrid cat ownership.
Savannah's have been accepted in the National Cat Association since 2001.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
|Coneflowers with catmint.|
When people think of a garden, they usually envision a perennial garden. Perennial gardens can be a massive grouping of plants that includes everything from non-flowering ferns to shrubs like Roses and vines like Clematis, and of course, perennials. Perennials are plants that go dormant over winter and grow new from the plant's roots every spring.
Gardeners who grow perennials have a tendency to become slightly crazed. Some become addicted to a certain plant family and grow only plants of that genus, acquiring every species and cultivar. Others go to Herculean efforts to grow a particular type of perennial not suited to their area. All perennial growers become opinionated in their likes and dislikes.
Developing a perennial garden can be a challenge. Perennials are expensive to purchase, but in a few years gardeners frequently have so many, they dig them up and give them away. Many perennials have short blooming periods that leave the garden filled with ugly foliage. Some perennials, like Asiatic poppies, disappear all together leaving a barren hole in the garden. Gardeners often place perennials with dramatically different growing needs in the same garden, ensuring some plants will fail to grow. Often the end result is a perennial garden that seems more a green space than a flower garden.
Like many amateur gardeners, I seem unable to resist a perennial sale. The urge to find some new cultivar, or something not grown before, is part of the fascination. I've learned as much from plant failures as successes.
Mixing plants is part science and part art. The science part is mixing plants that have similar growing needs. Checking the plant's nursery label or a good garden book helps eliminate the problem of knowing a plant's requirements. The art part enters in the mixing of plants. The intent is for the garden to have a succession of blooming plants, while ensuring plants that bloom together harmonize with each other. Usually I need to grow a plant for one season to learn the time of bloom in my area and how well it mixes with other plants. Once familiar with the plant, I move it to the best placement in my garden.
After many disappointments, I now experiment watching for the plants that look best the longest in my garden. I have developed a list of characteristics for my perennial plant purchases.
Number one is interesting foliage that stays attractive for the whole growing season. The foliage is part of the garden for much longer than the flowers. Hosta, Sedum, Dianthus, Heuchera, and ferns are a few good selections. Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) also have season-long attractive foliage as do the low-growing Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) and some of the Salvias.
The Second is hardiness and care needed to keep the plant attractive. At the cost of perennial plants, it seems thrifty to grow ones that can survive harsh winters, humid summers and our generally unpredictable weather. A plant can also be too hardy and become a rampant weed, like Creeping Buttercup. While I love Daylilies and Shasta Daisies, I hate the deadheading needed to keep the plants attractive. Others need staking.
Third is the length of the blooming season. The Sedum Autumn Joy, while blooming in the fall, carries light green flower heads for a long time during the summer. Coreopsis verticillata combines beautiful thread-like foliage and near summer-long bloom. Some of the Achillea, Campanula and Geraniums also have long blooming times.
Fourth is beauty of the bloom, which sometimes suppresses all the other characteristics. Which is why I have done a lot of deadheading on some very short-season plants like Iris and Daylily.
So my advice? Mix it up and see what happens. Make your garden pleasing to you, And as you plant your perennials sternly tell them, "Don't sink your roots too deep. You'll most likely move in a year or two."
Friday, June 17, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans
Jelly (I use raspberry preserves)
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolk in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb deeply in center of each. Fill depression with jelly.
Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on wire rack.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Given the heat index, this seems like a perfect time to go over the heat rules for animals.
The first one that everyone is familiar with is never leave your cat or dog in a hot car. On an 85 degree day the temperature inside a car can climb to 102 in ten minutes. Unlike humans, animals can't sweat it off. Panting is the mechanism an animal uses to reduce its body heat. If you see an animal locked in a hot car that appears in distress, call the local shelter or 911.
Also be careful just walking your pet. We walked our dog the other day in the evening and she still got overheated. I'm sure her age factored into it, but it was the first time I'd had to deal with heat stress. Its very unnerving. An animal can go down quickly . Luckily, we were close enough to the house to get her into a cooler environment.
Keep plenty of cool, clean water available for your pet.
If your animal is outdoors make sure it has plenty of shade.
We get our indoor/outdoor cat a lion cut every summer. It helps keep her comfortable on warm days.
If your cat is indoors make sure she/he isn't kept in a hot room with no way to cool down.
White cats are prone to sunburn. If your white cat is outdoors, you may want to use a vet-recommended sunscreen on the tips of his/her ears and nose.
If you are unsure whether an animal is suffering from heat stress, here is signs to watch for:
Change in the color of the gums and tongue
Rapid heart and pulse rate
What to do to relieve heat stress:
Get your animal into a cool environment
Give them small amounts of water to drink
Wet the animal down with cool water
Apply cold towels to the head, chest and neck
Immerse paws in cool water
Take the animal to a veterinarian
And last but not least, don't forget to take care of yourself on these hot summer days. Enjoy them, but be smart.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
My answer is to balance the drudgery work with an acceptable level of disorder. As a lazy gardener, I know that garden perfection is a fleeting thing, no matter how much labor is devoted to achieving it. A maintenance-free garden doesn't exist, but there are ways to reduce the work. One key to less work is planning. Keep notes of what you do and check your notes next fall. They will tell how you spent your time and let you plan changes for next season.
How much work is enough differs for every gardener. Find what works for you. My garden work happens in spurts. With the excitement of a spring's arrival, weekends in the garden are anticipated events, with daily tours to see "what's up." During the busy summer months, no more than four hours a week suffices between two or three of all-day efforts. Towards the end of summer work tapers off and ends with a couple days of fall cleanup. Much of that four hours is just touring the garden and plucking out weeds here and there.
There are several major maintenance areas in yards and gardens. Lawn area is the most demanding. Don't over fertilize your lawn. More fertilizer means more mowing. Get your soil tested and follow the test's recommendations. The money you save in fertilizer and time applying it covers the cost of the test. If you need to water, water deeply once a week. Keep up with mowing. Good lawn maintenance reduces labor.
Another way to save labor is to cut down on lawn size. Shrub beds, patios, decks, mulched areas, flower beds and groundcover cut down on mowing, plus add interest to your yard. In lawn-free areas, weed barriers and mulch reduce work. The most drastic solution is no lawn, but may not be possible. Most city and suburban home sites usually require at least a front lawn.
Plants requiring special care and gardens that need excessive weeding, staking, dead-heading, watering, or other care contribute to the work load. Hybrid tea roses are notoriously labor intensive. If you cannot live without roses, replace high-maintenance varieties with low-maintenance types, such as shrub roses.
Select plants known for their hardiness, and group them by their growing needs. Easy to grow plants, grown under the right conditions, provide beautiful results. A little research in garden books will tell you all you need to know.
There are solutions for reducing the amount of garden labor, time better spent relaxing in the beauty created by your efforts.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 (4 serving size) pkg instant vanilla flavor pudding mix
2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream, whipped
36 vanilla wafers
3 medium bananas, sliced and dipped in lemon juice
In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and water. Add pudding mix; beat well. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon 1 cup pudding mixture into 2 1/2 quart glass serving bowl. Top with one-third each of the wafers, banana and pudding. Repeat layering twice, ending with pudding. Cover; chill. Garnish with strawberry and banana slices if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Can be layered into individual serving dishes.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
A field of mushrooms, on June 6th.
The streams are flowing, the ferns are huge. We even found a stash of puffballs growing beneath some old fence posts yesterday.
I'll post a couple more photos of our hike. Pretty amazing!
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
This cat breed came about by crossing shorthairs with Abyssinians and Burmese. The result was originally called Spotted Mist. The name was changed to Australian Mist because of their nationality and to accept marbled markings as well as spotted markings into the breed.
Mists have wonderful personalities. They enjoy people and are gentle with children. They have a laid back personality.
Like their name sakes their coat looks like a shimmery mist.
This breed has only been around since the late 1970s. The cats are healthy and not prone to health issues. They have short dense fur and need to be brushed at least once a week.
Breeders of Australian Mists are now shipping them to other parts of the world. So while still rare, you can find them in the United States and Britain and a few other countries.
These cats are homebodies. They can be taught commands and walked on a leash. All in all a nice addition to the cat family.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
I call it paradise on earth.