Thursday, April 30, 2009

I have no projects to share today...

This week has had some breaks in the routine. The Mister and I decided to see if we could refinance our home and take advantage of low rates and get rid of the specter of an adjustable rate mortgage that looms down the road a few years. The only problem - we are upside down, underwater, possessing of negative equity, or whatever term you want to use for "we owe more than our house is worth"! (remember, we live in the lowest pointy point of the national foreclosure morass and bought our home at the tippy top peak of the market run-up in 2006...)

But, we decided to see how much underwater/upside down we are.

In order to do that, we had an appraiser come.

Before that, we had to make our house looks it's very best.

Not quite "on the market, looking for buyer, best", but we had to give some attention. So, for the last several days, we have been tidying, organizing, cleaning, stashing and sprucing up the place. Then, after the appraiser came and did her looking around, measuring and taking notes, I have been looking for all the things that were stashed in drawers, under the beds and in the car (yes, in the car!)

Anyway that is to say that I have not been able to work on any stitching projects, because I have been busy pretty-ing the house.

And, I have been driving to work, instead of walking as a security measure after a discharged employee exhibited some erratic behavior. (The downside of the "HR" business!)

I have been trying to get 30-40 minutes of walking in each day, so this week, I have been walking in the evening. The Mister goes with me on his scooter and we explore the neighborhoods surrounding ours, on foot.

Many neighborhoods nearby are walled and we just have never had the occasion to drive through them. On foot, we are able to pay more attention to details that we would miss in a car, anyway.

I am fascinated with the variety of cacti in the local landscapes. Many are blooming, or beginning to bud and some are really stunning.

I began carrying my camera with me on our walks and this evening we saw these:

I don't know the varietal names of this one, but I see it blooming in this yellow and sometimes a very hot pink.

This is a little cluster of buds that I will have to check on in a couple of days!

This yard caught my attention after I investigated the iris in the yard next door. (right side of the photo)

Love the purple in this one!

Lots of folks have replaced grass lawns for desert landscape to save water (and because the water company will pay you $10 per square foot of grass that is removed....)

I don't think the folks that live in this house have ever had a grass lawn!This cactus is the whole yard! I would guess it has been growing for 10 or 15 years to get this big!

They never have to mow, but I hope the delivery guy never throws the newspaper in the middle of it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two of the last three...

These two iris are the last ones to bloom, except one.

This one is "Ruth Raymond Blue". It is not an officially registered iris. It is a spontaneous hybrid that my mother found in my Grandmother's garden, after the garden had been neglected for decades. Mother named it in honor of my Great Aunt Ruth. It is not a "points winner", but it is very hardy and vigorous and the color is really lovely. It is one of the family iris heirlooms.
This one we call "Purple Splash". It was an unregistered seedling that Mother and I grew for display in our garden. Our garden was on tour during the American Iris Society regional convention in 1999 and this variety was sent to us by the hybridizer to grow for two years before the garden tours. The hybridizer decided not to introduce it as a registered cultivar, but we continued to grow it. It is not a 'great' iris - the flowers bloom on stalks that are a little short and the flowers are a bit out of proportion to the plant, but the foliage is dark purple at the base, which adds a lot of interest after the bloom season.

I have one more iris with an unopened bud. It is either "Grape" or "Quaker Lady". Both are historic iris that have very small distinctive bud shapes and the traditional "flag" form. Grape smells exactly like grape Kool-aid! Quaker lady is a very graceful iris in shades of grey and violet. Not very showy, but it is beautiful in its own way and I love it.

This is my iris garden this week. Quite a change from last November!

I realize the climate here is very different from my Kansas garden, but having over 80% of my transplanted iris bloom the next season, especially after such a late planting was such a wonderful surprise!

Now, I just have to be sure to keep them alive through the summer heat!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's iris delight!

This iris has always been labeled "Celebration Song or Pastel Ribbons" in my garden.

I knew it was one or the other but I have never really looked it up to confirm.

Today, I decided to see if there were any photos in "Dave's Plant Files" that would end the question. I looked up Celebration Song first and it seems to be a good match. There were many photos that looked like this one.

So then I looked up Pastel Ribbons and there was one photo that also looked a lot like this one!

I really think it is Celebration Song so that will be the fresh label. I should say 'labels'. It turns out that three of my 16 iris are the same cultivar! Maybe I will need to share this one to make room for more varieties....Anyone think they might have room for a pretty little iris to plant next fall?

Monday, April 20, 2009

A New Iris!

As usual, I have iris in my garden that are labeled as one variety, but turn out not to be that variety! I am kind of a 'careless' gardener, in some ways. My mother always marked the plants and then made a map to show where each one was planted in relation to the others. After a year or two, the map wasn't always so useful, but with the combination of labels and map, we could generally figure out what was what.

Two years ago, I purchased two iris at the local iris club sale. This is the first one to bloom and it is not what the label says. It could be that I mixed them up, or they could have been mislabeled at the sale. Not all my iris have buds, so I won't know until next year if I have something else I don't recognize, or if I can solve the mystery.

If I don't figure it out, I will just call this one "Las Vegas Surprise!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Playing Host...

but mostly just playing!

We have company this week, and I have taken a few days off work while they are here. The Mister's youngest brother and his wife are visiting from the "still pretty cold but not quite frozen North".

We are showing them what Las Vegas has to offer, as well as a short weekend trip to southern California.

Today, the Bellagio Conservatory was part of the agenda. It is one of my favorite things about this city!

It is almost impossible to take a photo in the conservatory without including other folks taking photos!
Part of the display was a zen garden of rocks and sand and chrysanthemums.

And part was a fabulous, fragrant explosion of spring bulbs!

This ladybug was in the English Garden area. She is made of red carnations!

This is her friend the snail!

His home was decorated with two colors of rose buds (with some other plant material that I don't know the name of.) I am guessing the buds have to be replaced at least every 4 or 5 days as they open.

These poppies were so beautiful. They looked like crepe paper flowers in all colors of pink, red, yellow and orange!
Many of the tulips had been replaced and had not opened, but this group was putting on a show!

Tomorrow, we are headed to California, so I will be out of touch for a few days.

I hope next time I can show you the rest of the Rhymeland Blocks!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

That Zany Tanzanian Tangerine!

Last November, I moved my poor neglected iris "box-gardens" from the side of the house to the front. (You can read about that process here.)

Today, the first bloom opened!

It is a variety named Tanzanian Tangerine and it is one of my favorites. It is a little tricky to photograph, because it is hard to capture the true color. It is one of the unique color patterns from hybridizer Brad Kasparek of Zebra Gardens in Utah.

In my Kansas garden, I would never have dreamed of having first year bloom on plants that were moved in November. In fact, I would have been skeptical of the plant's survival!

Here, though, I have seven out of eight plants in one bed with bloom stalks, and in the other bed, one stalk and lots of 'fat fans' that indicate a stalk down in the foliage. (The second bed gets a bit of shade from the palm trees, which explains the delay)

One of the plants with a big fat bud, is a variety that is new to me, purchased at the local iris society plant sale two years ago. I can't wait to see what it looks like 'in person'!

The wind is howling, so I hope I don't regret leaving the stalks in the garden. I just really enjoy sharing my iris with the rest of the world!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sky Texting

This was one of several Easter messages sent out to the Las Vegas Valley this morning!

Not as fast as 'traditional' texting, but more fun to watch!

(I am just assuming that it is not referring to Elvis....)

Happy Easter, everyone!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flower Power Chick

I think I could stitch cute little chicks every day for a month and not get tired of them! This is another design from the 1948 Simplicity catalog that Martha shared.

They are so cute and stitch up so quickly and easily, I may have a new favorite pass time. I will have to go to the outlet store this weekend and stock up on some more onesies!

Once again, I couldn't wait for the shirt to dry before I showed off the cutie-wootie-ness!

I used back stitch for most of it, but tried an outline stitch for the flowers. I think if I did it again, I would use back stitch for the whole thing.

I am glad we have babies on the way! I hope they like chicks!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Chick (and worm)

This evening, I picked up the Rhymeland block du jour, but I was in the mood for something sweet. Since I am trying to "adjust my lifestyle" to avoid having to take cholesterol pills, I reached for this little treat instead of the peanut butter cup I had a hankering for...

The shirt is still damp from washing out the transfer pencil.

I think this little chick is so sweet I can hardly stand it!

What do you think? Making a friend, or shopping for Easter dinner?

This is another motif from the 1948 Simplicity "Story Book Trims". ( I wrote about the first one I tried, here.)

For this one, I used a different stabilizer - the tear away kind - and it went much more smoothly. I had to kind of pick to get it all "torn away", but it worked a lot better for me, than the dissolving type did. I stitched it in back stitch with two strands of floss

It was a very quick project and it satisfied my yen for Easter candy with zero calories!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Lion In Winter

Well, really spring, but work with me, here...

This is Baby - home from the vet on Saturday afternoon.

She is modeling her new 'do' - The Lion Cut as they say in the trade. (The necessity of the new do is explained here.) They give us the choice as to a full tail, or the pom-pom version. I say let her have a little dignity and keep the tail! They also leave her the mane and 'boots'.

She is soft as suede and very tiny!

She really doesn't mind the shave, as long as there is a wool throw on the chair to snuggle into at night.

She just doesn't like the indignity of the whole ordeal. She is not a cat that 'cooperates' with the veterinary staff. (When she goes in for routine office visits, they have to put a tiny kitty muzzle on her just to examine her!)

So she takes it out on Zork when she gets home.

Zork just bides his time and tries to lay low, until she gets over it.

This time he found a hiding spot in the last place she is likely to go near, for awhile anyway.

Or maybe he is just dreaming of a road trip...

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Tale of Two Kitties

The Mister and I live with two cats.

One, is an eight year old, eight pound, prissy, diva cat who rules the roost (or more importantly the food bowl). I call her "Baby", The Mister calls her "Fur Ball".

The other cat is a fourteen year old, sixteen pound, easy-going, pushover. His name is Zork. (Why Zork, you ask? All The Mister's cats have been named Zork. That's why.)

They suspect somethings afoot, when the cat carrier comes out!

As you can see, Baby has long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen...well not really flaxen, but you get my point. She is vain about it, too. She is constantly grooming and grooming, determined to show off her beautiful hair to it's best advantage.

Zork helps her, when she will let him. He knows that she likes to look her best.

All that grooming and all that hair causes problems. You know how when you brush your hair, you have to clean out the brush after? Well, lets just say they don't embrace that concept. The hair brush concept, that is.

And it leads to digestive upset. We will just leave it at that...

So, tomorrow, Baby goes to the beauty parlor. Actually, the vet. She will come home without the hair. She will be more comfortable in the long run, but she will be annoyed for awhile.

And she will take it out on Zork. She will lay in wait for him and attack him and confine him to whatever part of the house she wants him to stay in, just by looking at him. It is really her most unattractive habit.

As I said, he is pretty easy-going, so he will take it and not hold a grudge.

But he is not looking forward to it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rhymeland Number Nine - The Pig Barber

This is another one of those head scratching nursery rhymes!

Barber, Barber, shave a pig!

How many hairs to make a wig?

Four and twenty, that's enough,

Give the poor barber a pinch of snuff!

So, who thought boar bristles would make a good wig? A hairbrush maybe, but a wig?

It does make a cute block, though!