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Turkey Creek Lane · rural

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Abby by the garden. She’s a lab/border collie mix with eyes that radiate love.

“Don’t forget to call the vet to make an appointment for Abby and Buster.”

DH reminds me of the card we  just got in the mail announcing it’s time for our dogs to get their yearly checkups and shots.

“OK.” I wonder how long I’ll have to get Abby’s weight down before I have to face the vet.

Abby officially became a senior dog this month. Because of her advancing age, last year I was told to restrict her diet to take off  her extra weight. I did mean to take Abby on more walks, not to give her treats or to give her leftovers. But, nobody appreciates my cooking more than Abby.

 By default she’s my dog. Prevented by Buster from getting near DH or getting exercise from chasing a ball, (Buster gets to balls first and they are HIS)  Abby stays by me, where she can have bones and toys, without them being stolen. Rawhide twists, pigs ears, old socks with a knot in them, the sound of Abby’s gnawing is constant. She is a chewer. I hear her chewing as I type on my laptop, read, watch tv or drift off to sleep.

I’ve been taking Abby to the garden with me. It is our special time.  All I have to do is put on my old tennis shoes and Abby’s eyes widen, her ears go up.

She is asking.

“You can go,” I say.

Abby’s eyes shine, she smiles, her tail wags and she prances as we go out the door. Once outside she hurries to sniff the groundhog hole by the compost pile. She digs a little. Then she settles down in the shade and watches while I weed. Without her partner in crime, she doesn’t run away.

 But, even more than the garden, Abby likes being with me in the kitchen. Pie dough’s her favorite of favorites. It turns her into a greedy begger–one that barks if pie crusts are rolled out and no trimmings come her way.

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Poor Abby has to go to the vet and be WEIGHED.

However, Abby’s chubbiness pales in comparison to Bigg’s bigness. I don’t know how long it has been since Biggs has had a checkup or vaccinations. So she needs to go to the vet, too.

And she will be weighed.

In all fairness, the cat was not small when my daughter gave her to us. DH and I said, when we first saw her, that Biggs lived up to her name. But, despite my daughter’s instructions to feed Biggs limited amounts of dry cat food only twice a day, Biggs quickly discovered Simba and Kitty only eat Fancy Feast. 

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Biggs is mad because there’s hard cat  food in her bowl.

She was a quick convert.

She not only swats Kitty and Simba away from the Fancy Feast until she polishes off as much as both of them used to eat combined, she meows and rubs against DH when he puts whipped cream on my coffee with cinammon…until DH gives Biggs her own little pile of whipped cream. 

Biggs hasn’t slimmed down under our care.

Pie dough, whipped cream, the cans of Fancy Feast, why are the things which give loved ones the most pleasure so often what you have to deny them?

 I am cringing at having to face those scales. And the vet.

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Whipped cream with cinammon on sweetened coffee.

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Many of my friends and neighbors hitch up their horses to go shopping.

In my neighborhood, women aren’t judged by the size of their diamonds. That would be prideful.

Nor are they judged by designer labels or gowns. Most wear calico dresses they make themselves. Veiled buns are the hairstyle of choice. A luxury car is rarer than a hen’s tooth. Ladies around here hitch up and head for town in buggies.

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Wildflowers in a field.

But, those same women whose manner of dress and way of living is known as plain…in their gardens create artistic masterpieces worthy of display in any museum. Beds of lavender phlox spring up through silvery rocks in contrast to pink spring tulips. Clumps of blue salva alternate with red geraniums. Tubs and old wagons overflow with colorful pansies. Red petunias then white petunias then purple ones line long, winding drives. Wildflowers abound in uncultivated fields.

drive-through-the-country-025.jpg A Mennonite Buggy takes the family to town.

A ride to town through the country is one of my greatest pleasures. It’s also the source of intimidation and pressure. Because I want to fit in. And before I met DH, the only flower I ever planted was a marigold.

It died.

To avoid failure, I bought expensive already done-up hanging baskets. And the prettiest flowers the greenhouse had. Mission accomplished. A piece of cake.

Only I didn’t know you were supposed to deadhead blooms once they’d wilted. I had no idea how much water impatiens drink. Or that they don’t do well in direct sun. Or that they should be fertilized.

blog-pictures-007.jpg Birdseeds fall from the feeder and grow into flowers that attract bees, butterflies and lots and lots of goldfinches.

I put my geraniums on my porch in the shade because I thought they were the nicest looking of my flowers and I wanted the people driving by our house to see them.

“Your flowers are looking wilted,” DH would say. But, I’d watered them the day before. They didn’t need water every day.

It is amazing how long and stringy and dried out toward the bottom petunias can get if they are never deadheaded. Or how soon geraniums quit flowering. And then there were the weeds in the front flower bed.

I didn’t take pictures of my flowers the first year.

blog-pictures-073.jpg My favorite lilies. There is only one bloom now, but more are budding and on the way.

The next summer I did better. Because I didn’t want to take chances, I still bought expensive already-done hanging baskets. But, I read the directions on the flower tabs. (Before buying, even.) My mother explained deadheading and gave me starts. On one happy day a lady at the greenhouse complimented me on my flowers after I told her where I lived.

That was two years ago.

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“Meet me at my garden gate.”

This spring, I did my own hanging basket arrangements. Some were even from $5 flats of “not such good looking” flowers and $1.25 geraniums purchased from kids raising funds for their 4-H club.

There were mistakes.

I accidently pulled out a bunch of what I thought were weeds. Except, the one weed I missed grew into a tall, lovely and out of place looking, lone flower, right in the middle of the bed. I didn’t have the heart to pull it.

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Another flower picture.

My beds are kind of haphazard because I forgot what I planted where last year and perennials have popped up unexpectedly between annuals on sale I couldn’t resist. But, my new flower hobby is colorful, challenging and outdoors. Digging in dirt, strangely enough, gives me the same feeling I used to have when I painted on canvas.

I am an artist living among many great masters. As religiously as any apprentice, I study their technique. And, I dream and aspire…

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The cat’s favorite napping place is under the bench. Wonder why?

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Touching up my Thyme sign in anticipation of spring and summer.

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Our trumpet vine will soon be blooming. Two years ago, before we rearranged our fencing, the horses ate it.

blog-pictures-005.jpg The trumpet vine eaters.

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