Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Christmas Day dawned with a dramatic Eastern sky.

I am not a morning person by any means but was so thankful to be up to witness this sunrise. What a Christmas morning gift!

First thing we checked the stocking to see what Santa-paws might have delivered. New cat-nip mice for everyone!

Solomon says please leave me alone - I'm busy here!

Padma was in heaven. Nothing like a 20 pound cat in drug-induced joy!

As I set the Christmas table, this female Hairy Woodpecker was having her Christmas lunch at the peanut feeder.

Just after 4 PM we at down to dinner with Family.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

December 24th was an exact repeat of the 23rd - sunny and very strangely warm outside. On our back patio, where the concrete captures any afternoon heat, the thermometer read 67 degrees!

Parvati was in cat heaven basking in the rare Christmas Eve sunshine.

She flopped back and forth, over and over, as only a contented Kittie can do.

Almost there.......

And we're over! The humans in the household also spent some time soaking in the warmth before our attention turned to the night's festivities. With our thoughts on food, family, and a manager, Mother Nature ended the day with a dramatic sunset.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice - The First Day of Winter

Today officially welcomed Winter! After today, our days will begin to increase in length, ever so slowly. This shortest day of the year blessed us with sunshine and blue skies. Although the daylight was short in length, it was warm ,cheery, and left with a beautiful glow.

"Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Saturday Walk in December

Today I took some time to enjoy the cold but sunny weather and went for a short hike around the property. Even though we are but a few short weeks from the official start of Winter, there is still much beauty to be found if you keep your eyes wide open. As I passed a meadow covered in fallen oak leaves, a glimmer caught my eye. Upon closer examination I discovered this sweet little spider web, covered on dew.

Most of the leaves have fallen now but are still visually alluring as they loose their fall color and turn brown.

The wild filberts are already producing their male catkins. As Springtime approaches these will grown in length and release pollen. 

And some of your young Douglas fir trees are starting to produce cones. The bright green trusses and the brown cones just look like December to me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Cold December Night & "Finally Finished!"

Quite often, December in my part of Oregon includes a long stretch of dry, cold weather. This year the month is starting out with this weather pattern. Today was sunny but with highs only in the 40's. By the time I arrived home it was already 36 degrees with the low tonight expected to be in the 20s. As I drove up our long driveway, the pink colored sky caught my attention. I ran in and grabbed my camera and was able to capture a bit of the lovely sunset. We should have many more of these to enjoy in the next week if this weather pattern continues as predicted.

The big excitement was that I finished the last of my dahlia tuber dividing, washing, and packing away tonight! After 5 weeks I finally am all finished. As you can see, all of the wrapped tubers fit nicely inside two copy paper boxes. These will be stored in an unheated room attached to our garage where they will stay all winter at about 45 degrees.

I planted 199 dahlia plants this Spring. Of the original 199, 194 plants produced tubers that I could dig this fall. Now from those 194 tubers planted this year, I have harvested and stored 621 tubers. A few of those tubers will suffer some rot over the Winter and many won't have a viable eye come Spring. But I should still have plenty of tubers for myself and the rest I can donate to my local Society. Many people ask why I take the time to dig my dahlias. Well, there are two answers to that question. First of all, the clay soil in my garden is so wet that I would loose almost every clump over the Winter. And then the average cost of replacing a dahlia tuber is around $4.50, with new varieties starting at $15.00 and going higher. So even at $4.00, if I have 500 viable tubers this next Spring they have a low-end market value of $2,000! That's worth 5 weeks of work to me.

It is such a great feeling to have this big project done. It feels a little bit like canning and food security. No matter what Mother Nature throws our way this Winter, I know that my two boxes of tubers are safely stored and I will have glorious dahlia plants once again next year.