A View of My Garden in a Mirror 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

#4 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order


You may be thinking lighting? That's odd. Of course we all like lighting, but do we love it? We certainly need it in our lives to perform tasks, light a room, to read and for security . We may even take it for granted until the power goes out.  The type of lights that I love are not just to light an area, it's the type of light that transforms an area. Here are some examples:

Landscape and Patio Lighting: Instead of just flood lights for security it is using light to create an ambient environment. Yard and patio areas become three dimensional at night by highlighting walls, plants, water features, and outdoor dining areas. Using string lights creates charm and adds a festive atmosphere. All these lights together make me feel like I am on vacation without going anywhere but home. This is the kind of lighting I love!

Dining Room Lighting: The typical dining fixture that points down at the table can be harsh on the eyes, but we still want to be able to see what we are eating so it is the most practical. A nice environment to entertain is having lighting that is layered and on dimmers. Wall sconces or floor lamps work well to create dimension. Picture and artwork lighting adds to the ambiance and makes you feel like you have a private room in a nice restaurant. I want our guests to sit back enjoy the food, wine, have great discussions and enjoy their surroundings in a comfortable environment. Placing the lights in layers opens up the room so you don't have to rely on one center dining fixture for all of the light. Do you ever notice when you go to a restaurant if the lighting is harsh you probably don't linger long after dinner? But if there is great ambiance and lighting it is more of an experience than just eating your food and leaving. So you slowly enjoy your meal and linger and take it all in. I love that kind of lighitng!

Light Fixtures or Art?
I love architectural lighting that doubles as artwork. Like a giant stained glass pendant in the lobby of a hotel. Or the massive crystal chandeliers that lights a concert hall or department store.  Then there is the type of lighting that highlights architectural features on a building. Most people don't even notice this type of lighting, but we certainly would notice if it wasn't there and probably consider the building not very inviting. Two years ago a new convenience store was built in my neighborhood and I drive by it often. What? Convenience store lighting? What's to love about that! Well, the side of the building has a dark brick wall with several wall lights that create a wonderful pattern of light up and down the building at night. I admit I have never been in the store, but I do appreciate the way the lighting makes it look classy in the neighborhood instead of an eyesore with harsh lighting. That is the kind of lighting I love and appreciate.

I admit I am more obsessed with lighting than your average person. We have dimmers on every single light in our house except the garage and closets. Even the bathrooms have dimmers. I would like to say it is because we are trying to save energy, but it is mostly because when I get up at 5:30 in the morning I don't like 100 watt light bulbs glaring at me. I want to ease into the day, so why not? The energy savings is just an added bonus.

Lighting is very difficult to photograph, but here are a few images I will share since most of us are very visual.

This is a picture from Butchart Gardens last summer. The area light in front is nice, but the uplight on the rock in the background gives it a wonderful layered look. I love that!

 This is also at Butchart Gardens. 
They placed a red uplight on a japanese maple. 
It looked amazing like it was on fire. 
The picture does not do it justice but you get the idea.

If you look close you can make out the lights on each side of the window and behind the two trellises on the wall with the wisteria. I have the uplights grazing the walls and giving back lighting to the plants in our front flower bed area. 
My favorite part is that this window is in the dining room and at night it has the feeling of extending the room outside. See the picture below.

 Here is our dining room at night. 
It is a little hard to see, but if you look close you can see the landscape lights outside the window giving the small room a feeling of being larger.

Happy New Year Everyone!
Spring is getting closer! Yippee!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#3 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

Friends, friends and more friends!

This has been a great year for meeting new friends. At the beginning of 2010 I had the opportunity to take a series of classes to become a Master Gardener and graduated in November.  One of the requirements to graduate is completing our volunteer hours by working at the local extension office answering gardening questions. We also have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year. By far my favorite is working alongside some fantastic people at the Linn County Demo Garden. But let me start at the beginning.

I have always wanted to go through the Master Gardener Course. I have been attending Garden Tours for years that MG's had sponsored and I kept telling myself that someday I would take the classes and join this special group. I always thought I would have to wait many years until I was retired because the classes are during the day in the middle of the week when I'm working. Then along came the Housing Market crash and the bad economy. The construction business I work for slowed down drastically. Why not make lemonade out of lemons? So I volunteered to cut my hours at work so I could attend classes one day a week! Yes!
Over the last year I have met so many wonderful people through the Master Gardener Program.  A few have become good friends and people I hope to have as friends for a very long time.

My fellow classmate and partner in crime Connie and I decided to adopt a raised bed a the Linn County Demo Garden. It was and still is a wonderful experience.  Here is a link if you want to read more about our experience The Making of a Flower Fiesta, we wrote this for the Master Gardener Newsletter. She has become more than just a "gardening" friend and I feel very fortunate to have met her. She also started a business making baby shoes! And as soon as she has her blog up I will post a link. They are adorable.

This is a picture of our raised bed at the Demo Garden
The Amaranth "Love Lies Bleeding" was amazing. 
It looked like a big bird getting ready to fly away.

Next is Grace! She is such a sweetie and I am so glad to have met her this year. She is a gardening guru and more! Her garden is amazing, check it out! She is also the one who inspired me to jump into the blogging world, read more here.  It is such a fun way to express yourself and share don't you think? I hope to see much more of Grace in 2011.

Then there is Cate, another fellow Master Gardener that is a gem. She gave me some great advice about doing yoga and it will be on my list of 2011 resolutions to do on a regular basis. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

Erica is an unexpected new friend that I met through work. I went to her house to help her make some decisions for new light fixtures. She just moved to town over the summer and we have so many common interests. She is a wonderful artist and an inspiration for me to improve on my projects in 2011. She and her husband Gary have been a fun couple for Keith and I to get together with for dinner, antiquing, etc. We hope to see much more of them in the coming year.

Another person who I met through work and also happens to be a Master Gardener is Vickie. I am very lucky to have her as my Mentor in the program. She is the one who started the amazing amaranth from seed in her greenhouse for our raised bed. Vickie gets a lot done and does it really well. She is the new President for the Linn Master Gardener's in 2011! Go Vickie!

And last but not least all those new blogging friends that are so fun to connect with and share our pictures, stories, families, dogs, gardens and more. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and letting me share mine with you!

Here's to friendship in 2011!

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

                                                                  C.S. Lewis



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#2 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

I apologize for the delay in posting. I have had a very busy couple of months and unfortunately it has taken me away from the computer. I will try to catch up and make several posts the rest of this month so I can get back to "gardening" talk.

Peaches with one of her goofy looks

#2 on my list of 10 things I love: Dogs, dogs and more dogs!
My "soul mate" dog Slab was 14 when we had to put him down last year. My heart was (still is) broken. He was one of those dogs that was a puppy but behaved like an adult dog. He fit in the palm of my hand yet his tiny little body would sit by the door waiting to go out. He never needed potty training, he just figured it out. At 2 months old and a Heartland Humane Society rescue he was a gem.  When we picked him out of the litter he was too busy taking a nap to open his yes. Our friend Josh said "name him Slab, half Sloth, half Lab.  At first it was a joke and we planned to change it but it just stuck. Slab's body quickly grew to 75 lbs, though his head never quite caught up. (Genetic testing later determined he had some pug ancestry, go figure) Since he was a mutt he must have taken all the best genes from the pot because he was such a good boy. He was so mellow he would eat out of the same bowl as a cat. He never trampled my flower beds and loved to stick his head through the sun roof when he went for a ride in the car.  He was obsessed with his ball and would do the most humorous things while he was playing with it. If you would put the ball up to his face he would give you this "James Cagney" lip thing and pretend to growl at it like he was tough until you threw it for him. He loved to play chase through the house and wanted me to catch him so we could roll around on the floor and play. In his later years his arthritis started to get the best of him and he no longer wanted to play ball or chase. He was satisfied to sit at my feet and look at me adoringly. I will miss that dog forever.

Slab as a puppy with his buddy "ball"
Slab playing with "ball"

Slab "sneering" at the ball

Slab at Age 13 sunbathing

Slab taking a ride behind my bike when he was too old to run. 
He still loved to tag along for a ride.

When Slab was 13 we were toying with the idea of getting another dog after visiting with a boxer owned by one of Keith's co-workers. This is when I became addicted to petfinder.com in the "possible" search for a companion for Slab. We wanted a mellow dog that would keep him company while we were at work. After a couple months of searching we saw a boxer named "Red" that looked perfect. To make a long story short, Red and Slab did not hit it off. Red's style of playing could have injured poor old Slab so he was not going to go home with us. However, the woman from Save the Pets in Eugene told us about an event that day at Pet Smart and suggested we stop and look at the dogs that were up for adoption. 

This is when we met Peaches. Her whole body moved when she wagged her tail. She gave Keith sloppy wet kisses on the face and he was smitten. Then she licked Slab's face and proceeded to fall asleep with him on a big pillow. Perfect! She also happens to be a pitbull. What? A pitbull? We never in a million years thought we would own a  pitbull. But she turned out to be a wonderful dog and not like the pictures painted by the media about this breed. She is a big goofy girl who loves to do tricks, loves to cuddle on the couch, snores big time and cracks us up with her antics. She greets people at the door, and if they aren't careful will give them a big sloppy kiss on the face. She loves children though it may be because their faces taste good when she licks them. She pulls Keith on an adult tricycle around the neighborhood for exercise which could be why her body could compete with a Mack Truck. She sleeps with the best of them and we usually have to convince her it's time to get up in the morning so she can move to another spot to sleep for the day while we are at work. She is a good girl and was a good companion to Slab in his last year. 

Slab and Peaches taking in an afternoon nap

 Peaches wearing her "doggles" so she can go for a ride in the car

Slab started to show signs that he was in pain constantly and then he stopped eating. We did what any best friend would do. It was by the far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I didn't want to let my baby go but I knew it was the right thing to do for him. He will always be missed.


In trying to replace the "irreplaceable" I went to Safehaven, a local animal shelter "just to visit". At the time I had been volunteering and working with the dogs (Keith still does). The weekend before I had comforted a one year old dog named "Freckles" and I couldn't get her out of my mind. She was was scared to death and needed someone to rescue her.  She crawled on my lap and looked at me with those big eyes saying "take me home, I don't belong here". Not only did she need to be taken away from the noisy shelter but she needed to be rescued  from a lifetime with the name Freckles! Egad! We introduced her to Peaches and it was love at first sight. Unlike the introduction with Slab, this time Peaches and "Freckles" did what looked like a choreographed dance of play. Peaches jumped and turned in the air and dove in and out of her soft doggy condo rolling around, enticing her new friend to play with her while "Freckles" gladly obliged. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen and I kick myself for not having a video camera to film it. I did manage to get this funny shot. This is how mellow Peaches is, the new dog came home and humped her head and she just stood there in shock and let her do it. Luckily this did not become a habit, it must have been her way of greeting Peaches and saying "I love you!"

Peaches in shock from the new dog's "Greeting"
The name Freckles was way too cutsie for our new dog. (Like Peaches isn't cutsie? Hey, she's a pitbull and needs a cutsie name). We were told she was a red heeler mix, but she looks more like the dogs we used to see living on the streets in Mexico. Sort of like a 36 pound Chihuahua. She probably has everything in the mix which resulted in a curly tail and pointy ears. We kept thinking she could be one of the dogs out of National Geographic. Why, that's it, she looks like a skinny Dingo! So that is why we changed her name to Dinga. 

The shy scared girl at the shelter opened up when we got her home and started sharing with us all her "issues". Dinga adored Peaches, but when she was on a leash and saw another dog she would start barking, growling and jumping around humiliating whomever was trying to take her for a walk. She also became obsessed with shadows and light to the point where she couldn't relax. Her obsession with "getting" the light and shadows resulted in holes in the walls, floors and carpet. Yes, we had adopted a dog with major issues. Given that we are dog lovers and volunteer at an animal shelter, we were not going to be one of those people that returned a dog like it was a purse. She was ours now and we would just have to figure out a way to "fix" her. So, after doing some research we took her to the vet and started her on Prozac. Yes, she is now a happy Prozac Dog.

The Prozac worked wonderfully for the obsessive compulsive behavior. She calmed down and no longer had to chase shadows and light constantly. However, it did nothing for her leash reactivity. We read dozens of books and articles and knew we needed outside intervention. This is when we found Best Friends in Corvallis. I took her to be evaluated by owner and trainer Dana Stillinger. She told me Dinga was afraid of other dogs and needed to be "desensitized". So once a week for seven weeks I took her to Best Friends and we watched the other dogs being picked up by their owners from doggy daycare while I fed Dinga Velveeta cheese. The idea was to associate something good like cheese with other dogs. To make a long story short (too late now) she eventually calmed down enough to be enrolled in an Obedience Class. Thank you Dana! Given her history she couldn't go into the class like the other dogs so with the help of Teresa Hall who is absolutely fabulous, she was gradually brought in with the other dogs by the 3rd class. Teresa was a huge help and we eventually graduated! 

Dinga now goes to Doggy Daycare at Best Friends once a week and they call her a "party girl" because she is up all day hanging out with the other dogs with NO issues. Whew, it is amazing and I still get the chills and want to tear up whenever I take her there and she behaves herself. Don't get me wrong there are still times when she reverts slightly to her old habits, but between the Prozac and the training it is quite the miracle. 

She now follows me wherever I go and looks up at me adoringly. Isn't that the greatest thing about dogs? They look at us and don't see all the flaws. Or maybe they do and just don't care. They love us unconditionally. That is why dogs are on the list of 10 things I love.

 Dinga the "Prozac Dog"

"Little Big Ears"  I wonder if she will grow into them?

 Don't look, this last part is totally humiliating!

It's a good thing I'm on Prozac

You're next Peaches
You know I'm a pitbull right?