Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Free Little Art Gallery


It's a THING. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and opportunity presented itself in the form of a free critter aquarium listed in my Buy Nothing group yesterday. Today I polished up the box, scoped out materials for a floor, magnetic walls (for easy hanging), and measured for a piece of plexiglass that I'll hinge to the front in lieu of the screen that provided fresh air to the critter. I've already chosen a bunch of collages for the first show, and I hope other people will respond to my invitation and contribute some of their own.

I love all the little free libraries in my neighborhood, and I think an art gallery will fit right in. You might have a FLAG in your neighborhood. Check the MAP.

I haven't collaged much recently because I've been gardening.

But winter is coming.

Or so they say. It was 99 today and humid, so it felt like 209 or something like that. It's going to be almost that bad again tomorrow. I keep saucers filled with water for the birds. 

On a normal hot day, they dry up pretty quickly. Not today. I think water fell out of the air and dropped into them.

If you're under the heat dome I hope you stay cool tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Flower Lady

Why a picture of a bird then? you ask. Because while I'm trying to become the flower lady, wounded birds show up. I'm working on my flower beds whenever I can. Working on this.

And this.

I'm interested in wildflowers, mostly. And I'm digging out a huge new bed to be filled with things like whorled milkweed, bee balm, fleabane, yarrow, and ferns. It'll be a companion to last year's bed of native wildflowers. 

But I also want the old-timey midwestern classics that my dad grew. Hollyhocks, irises, zinnias. 

And my new project is a border of big hostas--so I don't look like a all non-natives are invasive and ruining the planet fanatic. Moderation. I'm seeking balance. And butterflies like some non-native plants too. Butterflies are the goal.

I'm focused. I go out in the morning and stay out until it's too hot or I run out of energy....
Or.... a bird shows up. Last week it was this guy.

I love birds. But I suck at dealing with hurt birds. Hurt anything, actually. Honestly, I usually make things worse. 

A neighbor came over to help with the hawk seconds after I posted it on our block What's App. We called the Raptor Center, and then she went to pick up a friend who volunteers there. Meanwhile another neighbor said to throw a towel over it and put it in a box and take it there. You go right ahead, I thought.

I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing. Because flowers are more durable than birds, and I'm not afraid I'm going to hurt them. Well, I am, actually. But mostly, I'm pretty good with flowers.

Anyway, the crow. 

I posted about it on the neighborhood Buy Nothing group, asking for help. You can't buy or sell a crow on Buy Nothing, but you can ask for help. Someone called me right away. Put a laundry basket over it, she said, and I'll be right over. I don't have a laundry basket, which might seem weird, but I don't. We put our laundry in  tall waste baskets because it takes up less space in our tiny closets. So we stood guard, watching for feral cats until she pulled up a few minutes later. 

Here is how you put an injured crow in a box: You put the box over the crow, then you slip a piece of separate cardboard under the box and the crow and lift the whole business into the hatch of your SUV. We cut some air holes in it, and then off she went, this person, while I filled out the wildlife rescue pre-admit form on my phone and made a donation.

Later she called me. I was already familiar with this article. Apparently it's a real thing. If more crows come around, the vet said, give them treats. Try to get on their good side...in case they were watching while their friend got put in a box. 

So am I a good bird lady or a bad bird lady? We'll find out, I guess. Before the crow got put in a box, I offered it water. In a china sauce dish, no less. And a little ball of watermelon. Fancy, right? I hope that saves me from the wrath of crows.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Apocalypse with butterflies

Elderberry on this cloudy morning

I wrote what follows yesterday when it was hot and dry. This morning it's cloudy and cool, and there are rumors of rain. And there you have it. Apocalyptic feelings melted by the thought of a rain cloud. I knew someone once who often advised me to view my feelings of dread like weather. 


I’m finding it hard not to catastrophize the lack of rain here. In my lizard brain, I’m more Californian than Minnesotan since I spent more than 40 years fearing the Santa Ana winds. Seeing flames from my house during the Thomas fire and the one that came next whose name I can’t even remember was not an experience I want to have again. Masking to go outside was a thing, and this was months  before Covid was  even a mere gleam in some Chinese market creature’s eye. 

I moved here to Minnesota after those big fires and before Covid. 

I love the Midwest. I love that it rains here. I love rain and a book and something hot to drink. I love rain and the way growing things look afterwards. I love the clouds and the washing of everything, and how birds sing when it’s over. 

Red Admiral butterlfy.
So far this year, I've seen these and blue swallowtails and monarchs. Also some yellow ones I don't know the name of.

So right now, I’m sitting in my hot and  dry back yard, telepathically telling my new little transplanted peony that I will give it a good soak tomorrow. I’m envisioning where I will plant more plants that butterflies love, and how I will shrink my front lawn with a path for the mailman and his yard to yard shortcut, and how there will be plants for the butterflies there too, encircling him. In the end there will be very little grass. Mo’ grass mo’ problems, a neighbor says. 

I don’t want an apocalypse with butterflies. I just want the butterflies. I want world peace, a cure for cancer, and a regularly employed methodology to make it rain. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

The garden of everything

I toured a friend's garden today. It's always a wonderland. We talked plants and then she made me a salad with greens and nasturtiums. That she grew in her garden, of course. 

She's a painter too. On her living room wall was a large painting she'd worked on for months. She's busy. So busy. A complicated life. Here's my yoga space she said, gesturing to a space between her couch and her bay window full of orchids. I haven't been doing much yoga, I said. Me either, she said. But I have a yoga space.

Hollyhock buds. I'm waiting.

My yoga space is in my bedroom. Or used to be. Now it's  my garden. Not that I'm doing yoga out there when I step out the door, still my in pajamas and blowing on my coffee. What I'm doing is breathing. What I'm doing is looking and listening. 

That crow is there on top of the blue spruce every day.

Was that what my dad was doing? 

My father has been dead a very long time. He died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 19. Nineteen years is not long enough to get to know a parent. Our relationship was just beginning to shift, and then he was gone.


Maybe he gardened not just to garden. Maybe he really loved being out there, looking and listening. Maybe he wasn't just putting food on the table. Maybe he was doing yoga.

Shiny! Are all banana peppers shiny?

It never occurred to me to ask him if he loved those plants. If he loved hearing the birds or the wind or the feel of that black Iowa dirt.