The Letter G

July 17, 2013

Well here we are again, time to participate in Basically Benita’s Alphabet Photo Challenge with the letter G.  As with my F post, I’ve done something a bit different with my G’s, focusing more on the “challenge” part and less on the letter G.

Did I cheat?

I don’t think so, but you judge for yourself.

You’re all familiar with a “bird’s-eye view” of things right?  Well, what about a “Ground’s eye view”?  Yep, that’s what I did for the letter G, I laid on the ground for all of these images so that I could achieve that view!  Though I didn’t have an assistant handy for all my pictures, I did have one available for the first one so I had her take a picture of me taking a picture so there’s no doubt I was sprawled out on the ground  :-)

First  up…a Ground’s Eye View of one of the creels at work full of cones of cotton…


…and me taking the picture!

me taking pic

A Ground’s Eye View of kitty Skittles hanging out on the counter…


A Ground’s Eye View of kitty Scarpetto checking out the backyard gardens…


A Ground’s Eye View of some railroad tracks near my house…

train trax looking south

A Ground’s Eye View of the dry creek bed I put in my front yard (that’s my neighbor’s house in the background)…

looking up dry creek bed

And lastly, a Ground’s Eye View of part of the 8′ x 10′ locker hooking rug I made for underneath my dining room table…


So folks, you be the judges…did I cheat a bit with this post or did I just have fun with the “challenge” part of it?

On to the H’s  :-D

Drought Tolerant Landscaping One Year Later

March 4, 2012

On March 28th of last year, this is what my front yard looked like after I spent months converting my water-hog front yard to a drought tolerant one…


I don’t have exact matches for these pictures, but even so, you’ll be able to tell how happy the plants are.

I get giddy when I let myself imagine how the yard will look at this time next year!!!

The Writing Blahs

March 1, 2012

What forces came together to keep me from writing?  Did the sky fall in?  Did the ground open up and swallow me whole?  Did I forget how to write?  Unfortunately the answer is no.

Did I lose interest in writing?  Not really, my fingers just lost the desire to dance across the keyboard!


That ugly 6-letter word that is notorious for zapping energy and happiness from all who are greeted by this unwanted visitor – STRESS.

As you all know from my posts, beginning in November 2010 I spent months converting my front yard from a water-hog landscape to a drought tolerant one (see Front Yard Conversion Category on the right).  By the time it was done I was exhausted and wondering if I had done the right thing.  Little did I know then that my mind would soon become more stressed out about the front yard then my body was at the end of each day of laboring in the yard!

Though the 100+ plants were drought tolerant, they would still need some water during the hot months, especially given that they were experiencing their first year in the ground.  But…how much water and how often?  I’m from New England – if plants wither you water them…but I’ve killed many a drought tolerant plant out here in So. Cal. by doing this.   It wasn’t until late October, when the cooler temperatures and shorter days rolled in, that I exhaled about the yard – 90% of the plants had survived (some barely) but now the yard was on its own until April or May.  I learned a lot but still have a few puzzles to figure out.  I’m incredibly more confident about the front yard and even have a plan in place for better maintaining it this summer so hopefully I won’t be stressed out this year.  I’ll take pix this weekend and upload so you can all see where the yard is now (tease – it’s incredibly colorful!).

The other main source of stress has been work.  I have always tried to keep work under control – it’s what I do, not who I am – but that was incredibly difficult this past year.

The year started out with a bang – 1 trade show in October 2010 followed by 2 in January 2011.  Just as the follow-up work to the shows ended, the worldwide fiber shortage kicked in big-time.  This shortage was all the buzz at the shows — wool would be scarce and would quadruple in price, ditto for cotton and acrylic.  I’m not sure if the shortage was real in all three areas or if one started and the others greedily jumped on the band-wagon, but it was ugly.  The company I work for is a manufacturer that relies very heavily on cotton and acrylic.  My boss devoted most of the year to tracking down fibers and haggling over prices.  When the fibers could be found, deliveries were often months later than promised, so I spent much of my time working with the warehouse manager to figure out how to ship products when we didn’t have enough supplies.

My assistant, who also handles much of the customer service, was hammered by customers due to how late we were shipping – they were screaming mad and she heard it all.  It amazes me that she’s still working for us…there’s definitely been a negative attitude shift, but I can’t say as I blame her.  As bad as it was for me to have to stretch my creativity and keep reworking products, at least I wasn’t getting the brunt of the customers’ frustrations (though I did read every single e-mail).  I did talk with many of our business customers, but they were aware of the fiber issue and dealing with it from many of their other suppliers, so they were much more understanding.

By the time the fiber issue was finally well under control and bordering on a memory, it was late November and time to start gearing up for the major trade show again.  Thankfully we only did one show this past trade show season!

As usual, the boss decided in mid-December to add two new products to the end-of-January show, and we had no latch hookers available to tackle 2 large rugs and have them back by early January.  What had been an 11-day hang out holiday vacation for me turned into a latch hooking marathon.  I stopped counting at the 55 hour mark but estimate the total was somewhere around 75-80 hours.  Yep, I spent that much time of my vacation hooking one rug…and then spent nights/weekends the 1st 2 weeks of January doing the second one.

Just when I thought things were under control, a whole new project was thought up.  I had a weekend to design, hook, assemble and photograph this one.  Fortunately it was much smaller than the other rugs — it’s a latch hook soccer ball.  In case you didn’t know, a soccer ball has 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons…each one was hooked separately then whip stitched together.

I nearly cried in relief the day the show started because I no longer had to spend every minute of my day multi-tasking and priority juggling in an attempt to get everything done.  If something wasn’t done then too bad…

If you’re still reading, and my whining hasn’t made you close my post vowing never to return, there is good news too.  These past few months haven’t been all bad, there were bright spots mixed in.  I’ll share those with you in my next post – and there will be pictures too!

Wordsmith Help

June 27, 2011

Calling all relatives, friends, writers, editors, publishers, gardeners and Good Morning America Weekend Addition viewers!!!

I need your help!!!


If you watch Good Morning America on Saturday mornings you know they have a segment towards the end of the second 1/2 hour called “Your Week In Three Words”.  I toyed with the idea of submitting a video of my front yard landscaping and after posting that thought on Facebook and getting lots of thumbs up, I’ve decided to do it!!!!

Here’s where I need YOUR help!!!

I only have 3 words…what should they be?

Here’s the background info…

I live in Southern California in an area called the Inland Empire.  I am an  hour east of L.A. and an hour west of Palm Springs.  My climate most resembles the desert.  Summer temps are 100+ and nearly void of humidity.  The landscaping I have done in my front yard is completely drought tolerant…xeriscape.  If you click on the “Front Yard Conversion” tab on the right you can see the progress of my yard project (posts are most recent backwards to the beginning).

Most of the plants were put in the ground between December 2010 and late early February 2011.  I have not given any of them any water since they were planted.  None.  Not a drop.  My sprinkler system has not run since early October 2010 when I first received approval from my HOA for this conversion project.

So, now that you have the background info…what 3 words should I use for my video???

“Needs No Water” is wrong because the plants need water…but only that which Mom Nature supplies.

“Needs Minimal Water” is deceiving because it doesn’t explain that the majority of the water source is natural.

“Nature’s Water Only” is close…very close…

“Drought Tolerant Landscaping” is wonderful except that many folks in non-drought areas will not “get it”.

HELP!!!!!!!  :-(

If you were me and you had this awesome front yard you could video and submit, what 3 words would YOU use (and they absolutely do NOT have to be any combination that I came up with)?????

How I Spent Mother’s Day

May 9, 2011

As wonderful as Mother’s Day is in theory, there is a group of people for whom it can sometimes be a painful reminder of a loving person no longer in one’s life.  

I belong to that group.

Within that group there is a subset of individuals who do not have children, and who therefore do not spend time honoring their significant other or being the center of attention.

I belong to that group too.


My Mom passed away on November 14, 2003.  Some years Mother’s Day really bothers me and other years it doesn’t.  This year started out to be overwhelming but by the middle of last week things were looking up.  I tuned out as many electronics as possible in order to avoid being slammed with sale ads, AKA painful reminders, and that seemed to swing the pendulum in the positive direction.

Sunday morning I was up before the sun, puttered until it was time for my weekly sister chat, then headed out to Lowe’s to pick up some plants for the front yard.  Once back home I fortified myself with a couple fresh glazed donuts then headed outdoors to putter in the front yard.  I love gardening, as did my Mom, so what better way to spend my day then thinking of her while doing what we both love?

The forecast was for clouds and maybe some drizzle so the wardrobe was a t-shirt and jeans, no shorts.  Unfortunately, the sun came out for a couple of hours.  Though I believe Mom sent it to brighten my day, she seems to have forgotten some of her Mom-responsibilities as she  forgot to remind me to go inside and slather my arms with sunscreen.

No, I’m not trying for the Michael Jackson white glove look, I wear gardening gloves (sometimes) when I garden.

I spent nearly 5 glorious hours puttering the front yard.  I added some plants, unburied all the sprinkler heads and removed all the flag markers, re-staked 2 trees, finished the dead-heading I started on Saturday then took more than two dozen pictures of the now really completed front yard.

And now my fingers will shut up and instead let you enjoy some pictures of my front yard.  While you are doing that, I’m off to massage some sore muscles from all those hours of bending and stretching.

Water Bill Savings

May 3, 2011

Saturday’s mail, which I didn’t retrieve until Monday, brought the first warmer weather water bill.  The bill for April usually jumps from the previous 5 months as the sprinkler system is used regularly for the first time since late fall.

I’ve been on the prowl for this bill, nearly busting with curiosity about the savings I would (hopefully) find inside thanks to my new landscaping.  My previous months’ bills were their usual low amount, and if I was right, this bill would be too.

I love it when the mail brings good, no GREAT, news!

This is the budget graph the water department has given me.

Look at how much water I used in the left April column (2010) vs the right April column (2011)!   Now to clarify, I can use more water than my allotment, but the extra water will cost me more per billing unit than the budgeted amount of water.  The water department sets the budget by using a formula for calculating the amount of indoor/outdoor water usage each household should need based upon # of residents/property square footage.

Here’s my water usage breakdown…

One thing to note is that my April 2010 bill covered 49 days where as my April 2011 bill only covers 34 days.  However, even if I add 50% of my April 2011 water usage to the bill I’m still way behind last year’s usage. :-)

These results are exactly what I expected when I converted my front yard to drought tolerant landscaping.  So far so good…!

The wait is on for the June through October bills to see how much water (and dollars) I conserve!! ;-)

Enjoying The Fruits of My Labor

April 18, 2011

Saturday morning I went out front to weed and deadhead.  The main yard was done in 20 minutes and it looked awesome!  After 2 hours the small yard on the far side of the driveway wasn’t quite done…but I was!  At 11:30AM it was a bit toasty in the sun…

An abundance of gazania plants that surround my sidewalk on that side take a bit of time to deadhead as there are so many once-beautiful flowers that need to be nipped.  And there is one African Daisy plant that had hundreds of dead flowers that were calling out to be removed.  They need to be snipped individually as new buds grow in the nooks and crannies of the old ones.  Of course, had I dead-headed last weekend this project wouldn’t have been so large this weekend  ;-)  The gazania dead-heading is complete and more than 1/2 of the daisy plant is done as well, the balance to be finished tonight.

I was in my glory checking out all the plants and yes, talking to them…a little.

Can you believe that all of the plants in the above pictures were so small just a few short months ago that they barely showed up in the photos?

Now…for the discovery that made me look foolish I was smiling so broadly…and squealing with delight!

That is Carlton Jr and that red dot?  That’s a new pad!  YES…Carlton Jr is as happy in the front yard as Carlton Sr is in the back!!

Sunday morning I went out for a walk then did some indoor work before kicking back to watch the NASCAR race.  Once it was over I took my netbook, CD player and glass of water outdoors to the bistro table and chairs in my covered front entry so I could work on my novella.

I was a little distracted by the view…

…and all the natives who were busy playing in my yard — butterflies, sparrows, hummingbirds and lizards!  I won’t complain at all as the fact that they chose to hang out for a bit instead of wizz on was their way of thanking me for filling my yard with the plants they adore.

That view plus all that entertainment plus nearly 800 word progress on my novella plus awesome softly playing piano music (Lyric Americana by Jeff Thatcher) plus incredible weather = one VERY happy Judy who sees lots of similar days in her future!!!


None will be on the front yard deck.  For a multitude of reasons, installation of the deck is on hold until the fall.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll redesign the deck area by then, making it even better than the original plan.  And as a bonus, I’ll be able to furnish it once its been installed.  If I put it in now it would be nekked until all the outdoor furniture sales at the end of the season  ;-)

Tonight after I finish dead-heading the daisy plant I’ll uncover the rest of the sprinkler heads, turn each zone on one at a time to make sure the heads pop up, then I’ll remove all the blue and white flags.

My front yard will then officially be in maintenance mode…

and entertainment mode…

and enjoyment mode…!

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