Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I had a very busy week in the garden this week and posted the details here.

Today, I finally got the chocolate flower into the ground. Hopefully, I won’t drown this one…it’s tricky with desert plants because they need some moisture to get established when first planted. BUT…it’s sometimes hard to tell what is too much.

The big event of the week actually occurred yesterday.  The SQUIRREL WARS have begun in earnest!

After the carnage in the garden a week or so ago, when all my baby swiss chard and mesculin was munched on by bugs, I bought on the spur of the moment a 9-pack of buttercrunch lettuce.  To be safe, I planted them in the patio pots, in with the tomatoes and peppers.  Perfect, right?

Continue reading

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s been a frustrating week in the garden as the winds have continued and the temperatures have dipped the last day or so.  I’ve managed to put a couple of veggies and flowers into the patio pots, only to cover them up again to protect them from the weather.

Yesterday I bought a new Belle of Georgia peach to replace the one that is languishing.  I’ll get that in the ground over the weekend.

A big surprise is that I found a little apricot growing.  One seems to be finally showing on the flower I saw…but this one never seemed to have a flower that I ever saw, so imagine my surprise to see a an actual baby apricot!!  Let’s see if anything more shows up!

Last Tuesday I took advantage of the short trip over to my chess teacher’s house and took some wonderful pictures of the Organ Mountains. These views are literally a couple of minutes from my house…I’ll share one with you now:

Organ Mountains 4/16/09 Looking Like a Painting...

Organ Mountains 4/14/09 Looking Like a Painting...

New Mexico has wonderful light, which attracts a lot of artists.  The changes in the skies and the light that changes from second to second are things which never cease to amaze me.

Closer to home, the quail are beginning to show up on my wall.  I love these guys and their plaintive calls.

A Curious Quail...

A Curious Quail...

Finally, Slick the Sneak was into all sorts of trouble yesterday.  We left the house for an appointment and when we got back we found garbage all over the floor!  This hasn’t happened in quite awhile.  It really was close to the boys’ dinnertime, so I guess Slick was the leader of the pack in search of some grub.

This picture, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the little flash of the devil in his eyes:

Sneaky Slick

Sneaky Slick

Let’s hope the winds die down next week! I have to put up the new grape trellises, plant a chocolate flower and really have to decide if I should bag the peaches. So far the squirrels haven’t shown up, which is amazing. I see the papa or mama when I look over the wall and they gobble up the lettuce and other veg scraps I toss over right away.  I suppose they’re busy with babies and as they grow, I’m sure they’ll be hunting for a lot more food…including peaches!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 11, 2009) Carnage in the Garden; Blossoms; Harvesting Water; Empty Clouds; Spoiled Squirrels

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

This has been such a windy week that it’s been hard getting plants into pots, but by yesterday I had planted petunias, dianthus and a couple of peppers I had split off and saved for their pots on the patio.

In the raised beds, there has been absolute carnage as the little crickets are out in full force and the pill bugs have been nipping at lettuce and chard. In fact, I was horrified today to see some very nice chard seedlings GONE!!!

Over at our sister site Open Range Ramblings, we’ve been focused on fruit. Here’s a bit more…

Apricot blossom

Apricot blossom

So far, that blossom is the only one on the tree.  In case you’re wondering what that odd thing in the background is, it’s my new “rain barrel”.  What rain we get comes mostly in the form of huge downpours during the monsoon season during the summer. So, I’m hoping “harvest” about 50 gallons of water this summer.

Yesterday was rather cloudy but no rain! This is typical of this area…you really think there’s a chance…but nothing materializes most of the time.  However, the sky does do some interesting things…the light here is always fascinating.

No rain after all...

No rain after all...

The squirrels are out, but I don’t see them too often. I’m thinking there’s some day care going on for little squirrels.  The squirrels have been knawing at a cactus I planted last year, so I put water out for them near the wall.  Nearly every day I toss the vegetable scraps over the wall for them to feast on.  They must be fairly happy because this is the first year I haven’t found a huge hole being dug in the raised beds.

Obviously, my rock squirrels are pampered, in the hopes that they don’t have to rely on marauding through my garden TOO much. Chicago Correspondent Leslie sent this along awhile ago, and it describes the kind of life my squirrels receive:

 ...at the spa

...at the spa

Even though they need constant pampering, I have to admit the little ones are adorable, so I’ll be looking out to their debut and will hopefully be able to catch a few shots!

Have a great week outside!

The Past Week: February 15-21, 2009 (“Efficiency” Experts Michelle and “3-Card Monte” Barack Obama…Michelle’s Legacy at U of Chicago Hospital Under Fire by ER Physicians; Hubby Plans to Halve the Deficit via “Efficiency” (Among Other Things…); Spring Garden Prep!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

This is going to be an abbreviated roundup as things still are rather hectic here.

We did get this nugget from our Chicago Correspondent Leslie, who heard a radio report on the local NPR station in Chicago on Friday morning (February 20).

Here is what she passed along:

This morning on NPR (usually the voice of BHO), I heard there is a medical group (I didn’t hear the name) accusing
UofC(hicago) Hospital ER of “dumping patients” with limited ability to pay in order to avoid having to treat them.
This report (by NPR) specifically named Michelle Obama for developing the program used by UofC Hosp. These doctors were quite clear that the purpose of the program was not for “more efficient use of the emergency room” but was expressly developed to move poor patients from UofC Hosp.
I found it pretty interesting that this report on NPR in Chicago did not screen the report more closely. I’ll have to listen the rest of the morning for the replay of this report. Let’s see if they even re-air this one item.

Our intrepid correspondent followed up with the link at the NPR site, surprised that it was even there.

Under the City Room “News Briefs” we find the story about how, in what the Vice-President of the American College of Emergency Physicians calls a “highly unusual” move, the group is accusing the U of C of dumping patients. In fact, Dr. Sandra Schneider says she can’t remember any other time the group has “called out” a hospital like this.

Doctors Slam U of C Hospital

The organization singles out the hospital’s Urban Health Initiative, which diverts some patients away from the ER. It’s supposed to make the system more efficient by freeing up ER staff to treat the most urgent cases. But the doctors group likens it to dumping unprofitable patients.

SCHNEIDER: We would ask the university to find ways where it would become good business to take care of all patients, not just those that pay.

The Urban Health Initiative was developed in part by First Lady Michelle Obama when she was an executive at the hospital. A U. of C. spokesman called the doctors’ criticism, quote:”way off-base,” and said the hospital hasn’t cut back on emergency care.

Back on January 12 we posted the news from CC Leslie about how Michelle’s former job was being cut and how one of Barack’s friends was taking over the duties.  So, the legacy of Michelle Obama lives on at University of Chicago’s hospital…
Speaking of  making the system “more efficient.”..as I write this post, a story has just come up on the Comcast news feed…talk about an eerie “coincidence”…

And, he has vowed to scale back spending and improve government efficiency by eliminating programs that don’t work.

MORE

It’s that “EFFICIENCY THING”!!  I wonder if the Obamas stay up nights talking about “efficiency”?
Monday we start the next campaign and start seeing what Obama thinks should be cut.  Meanwhile, the money will be flowing with very little supervision to the states and to his favored recipients.
And I’m wondering…how many seniors on Medicare get thrown under the bus?  How many people on disability???  That would seem to fit in in with the policies left behing by Michelle Obama at U of  C very nicely…
UNREAL!  Audacity, hubris, whatever you want to call it…I call it “3-Card Monte”…(another example of  Obama’s prowess with 3-Card Monte” here.)
***
This week in the high-desert garden.  Trees are budding out and the daytime temperatures are getting into the 70’s.  This week I pulled up most of the mustard, which has started going to seed. Same with the arugula.  I also harvested a few more sideshoots of broccoli and those plants have been pulled, too.  I still have to prune the grapes and fertilize. The rock squirrels are beginning to spend more time outside; when I look over the wall, I see one with his head poked out of his hole now all the time.  Today, I saw one of the crew on the wall,  near the feeder where I put cracked corn for the doves, so I know the squirrel was out for a sample.  Every year one of the squirrels tries to dig into my raised bed garden and usually they’ve dug out tunnels up to a couple of feet long before I find out about them!  I fill them in and the squirrels come back!  Then, they seem to get discouraged and stop trying. I’m really afraid that someday they will extend their burrows under the walls into the yard!

THE PAST WEEK

*By American Lassie

Anything More Nauseating that Bill Clinton Shilling For Obama on Greta Thursday Night?? (2/19/09)

El Paso Media Conference Pushes “Newspapers as Change Agents”; Interesting Background of Organizer

Obama World in Pictures: Privates and Flights of Fancy

*Eustace Mullins’ “Secrets of the Federal Reserve”: Read About what Ezra Pound Called “The Great Betrayal”

Family Matters (Politics, Home Style): David & Susan Axelrod and Epilepsy; Bristol & Sarah Palin Interview on Greta (UPDATE 1X: GM Retiree Health Benefits Dropped–the Next “Attached String” Falls into Place?

Wells Fargo Bank Goes Insane! (Antidote: Nice Pictures)

The Past Week: February 8-14, 2009 (Saturday Night Hard HR1 News; Chicago News [“Racial” Comments; Obama Ally Alexi Giannoulis]; “Roots Camp”; Bill Clinton Shills for the DCCC; New Sprouts in the Late Winter Garden)

The Squirrel in the Driveway

~~By Kenosha Marge

I was looking out the window, watching the birds in the little feeder outside when I noticed a squirrel ambling down the driveway. Smack down the center the furry-tailed little rodent went as if he hadn’t a care in the world and was the owner of the houses on either side. Surrounded by huge snow banks he casually made his way. He was content and well fed by the nuts I had left for him and his friends in the dish on my back porch.

Suddenly the little squirrel saw a shadow that came from above. Without looking to see what was causing the shadow the squirrel went into full panic mode. He raced up one snow bank and then seemed to realize that he had just made himself a better target. Down the snow bank he raced and up the snow bank on the other side of the driveway. Again a light seemed to go on in his little squirrelly brain and down he ran.

The crow, which had caused the shadow, was long gone by then and little squirrel calmed down and continued his stroll down the driveway. His fear, for the moment, was in abeyance.

These past few days I am learning things I never knew about the animals and birds I feed and care about so much. I have always watched birds and squirrels. I have a groundhog that comes back to her burrow out behind the rhubarb every spring. I love watching the baby groundhogs. Okay, I admit it; I’m a critter addict.

However I do have a life to live and other things take up my time so I have never watched them as long and as carefully as I have the past few days.

Having snow-shoveled myself into an award winning backache I am attached to my new best friend, my heating pad, and moving up or down is not my favorite thing to do. Thus I sit in a chair by the window and watch birds and squirrels.

Lou, the man who has been my Significant Other for nearly twenty years is fortunately a bird, squirrel and groundhog watcher too. He built me a little bird feeder and placed it just outside the dining room window so that when I sat in my favorite place to read I could also watch birds. He didn’t realize that when he placed it so perfectly for my viewing that he also placed it above my reach for filling. Therefore he gave himself another task on what he considers his endless “Honey-Do” lists. I consider it his part of the tasks around the hearth and home. But then I’m a 50/50 kind of gal.

But I digress; back to the saga of the squirrel in the driveway. I was now concerned for my furry friend. Squirrels use the driveway frequently and now they would be trapped should a hawk come after them while they were between the snow banks on either side. Something must be done.

KM's Furry Friend

KM's Furry Friend

However there was nothing I could do since I was semi-permanently attached to my heating pad. I suggested that Lou go outside and dig little caves along the snow banks so that the squirrels had somewhere to hide. He suggested that I get my head examined.

I was stymied. I had no plan B. And neither did the squirrels. What to do, what to do?

You might not know that although I live in town hawks frequently come into my yard. Hawks, particularly the Red-tailed hawks that regard my bird feeders as their own personal smorgasbord have gone so far as to sit on the luggage rack of the neighbor’s car pursuing their lunch. These predators are NOT afraid. When we run screaming out of the house and chase them away they do not fly until we get very close. Then they just fly up into a nearby tree and stick their tongues out at us. Well, they do fly up into a nearby tree.

1/1/09

NYC Red-tailed Hawk after a Meal: 1/1/09 (Courtesy http://www.palemale.com

Finally I hobbled out to the driveway shovel in hand and a pathetic look on my face. Lou took the hint and the shovel and began to dig little caves for my squirrels. I won’t say he did it graciously because the look I got curled my hair and scorched the skin on my face. (When protecting my furry and feathered friends I am perfectly willing to endure scorching and curling.)

Today it’s 45 degrees and raining. The snow banks along the driveway are disappearing at a rapid rate and the squirrels are holed up in their little nests, called drays. Most of the snow along the driveway is nothing but mush and the only way a squirrel could use this route today is if he does the backstroke.

Lou has given me several “look what you made me do for nothing” looks, which I ignored. He’ll get over it. Martyrdom may provide a momentary pleasure but it’s not any fun if it doesn’t get the desired response. In this case the desired response was guilt and guilt was not forthcoming.

His stint in martyrdom however will interfere with my idea that he make little wharfs along the driveway so that when it becomes a river the squirrels have a place to get out of the water. Little wooden wharfs that would not melt into mush and could be used as little squirrelly decks for sunning in the summer.

Perhaps I’ll wait a little while to suggest it. He’s still a bit touchy about the subject since one of the neighbors asked him about the holes in the snow banks. The sound of the neighbor’s laughter is still reflected in the outrage in Lou’s eyes.

Or what about little squirrel boats? If a squirrel can be taught to water ski…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rXppzB_Wk

***

More on Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) and their food preferences here.

NYC Red-tailed hawks, January 1, 2009 at http://www.palemale.com/

***

Editor’s Note: My rock squirrels on the other side of the wall are hibernating most of the time now, although they do come up every couple of days to catch the midday sun and to nibble on some of the veggie scraps I put near their nest entrances…As for groundhogs…well, I’m a Groundhog Day baby and when I lived in NJ, owned my very own Havahart trap…Groundhogs, adults and babies, had a special relationship with my tomatoes…