Monday Morning, 5-15-23

It’s been such a chilly rainy weekend in North Iowa – the fancy birds are here in droves and it’s too cold to sit in the porch to watch them. I’ve gone through several jars of grape jelly for the orioles and the grosbeaks enjoy it, too. I feel bad for my very nicest plants that have had to endure 30 mph winds from the east.

Please read carefully – I am not able to answer questions about reader photos. Do YOU read the comments? Your email is not made available to me and the only way for me to answer your question is in the comment section. Many of you think the comments are boring – I don’t agree but if you have asked me a question and I answer it in the comments and you don’t see it, whose problem is that?

I hate to start out the week this way but I will post my email here once again. If you need an answer from me, please use my email so I can reply easily. My email is always posted on our home page.

In the comments recently I asked for a reader’s email so I could send her some photos she requested. No answer.

Yesterday I made some of these 4 patch blocks – just to sew something.

Today I am going to trim this succulent garden in the desk – it is so overgrown it’s a mess.

Last night I watched The Glass Castle on Netflix. I read the book years ago but have never seen the movie. Did Woody Harrelson win any awards for his performance? If he didn’t, he should have!

Rick is finally scheduled for hip replacement on June 22 and I’m holding my breath that nothing else pops up to cancel it. This is the summer he’ll be able to walk again!

If the grass dries off I’ll have to wear my hooded jacket to mow. With over 2” of rain it has grown by inches. Over night the peonies shot up about 6”! May is my favorite month of the year but it’s usually warmer than 50 degrees. Ha!

Many of you commented on our black dirt which we take for granted. I’ll take some more pictures for you.

One reader quilt:

On the ledge above my sink

One nature picture from a reader – a bluebird on her nest!

48 thoughts on “Monday Morning, 5-15-23

  1. Nancy Steinberger

    I watched the Glass Castle too. I had read the book as well. Very good acting.

  2. Pamela Dempsey

    Hi Mary- we have had several days of rain here and hopefully it will dry up Wednesday enough to get some stuff done. I pulled grass and weeds from between pavers previous owners put down to extend patio a few days ago. Bending over for a few hours didn’t help my back but it looks better. I had on gloves but fingers still were sore. We are going to put polymeric sand between cracks to prevent anymore. Then dirt and concrete and a hot tub, can’t wait 😝. Those succulents are pretty and love the planters and horse above your sink. Pretty bluebird!

  3. Sue in Oregon

    Yes…we really enjoyed The Glass Castle too. We thought the same as you. Woody Harleson’s acting was superb.
    Beautiful Bluebird. I do so wish we had them here. Our backyard is alive with all kinds of birds right now. We have quite a large group of swallows (2 kinds) that arrived about a month ago. They are swooping and diving everywhere. When they are here, we never have the white butterflies (moths) that turn into the green worms that eat my broccoli and cabbage. When they leave in late Aug. we then get huge holes in our fall crops as the worms grow so fast. So, apparently they don’t catch all the white butterflies. At least they help, along with other little birds that eat their fill of bugs in our garden.

    Wow! That black dirt looks like something you got out of a costly bag at the garden center. Beautiful!!

  4. Vickie

    Thanks for including all the little tidbits of life in your blog. It helps to know a little more about you.

  5. Teresa in Indiana

    Hi Mary, it looks to be a cooler day here. May get to high 60s. So, please tell me what you do with the grape jelly for your birds? We are seeing a few hummingbirds lately. They amaze me. Love the reader quilt and your Dissappearinf four patch. Love the colors. Here’s to a nice day for everyone.

    1. Janet S

      Teresa, We put grape jelly in a feeder with a dish in it. The orioles and many other birds love it.

  6. Vicki Ibarra

    I agree, Iowa black dirt is beautiful. I grew up in northern Iowa and took it for granted. When I moved to Iowa City, the dirt was a brown color…clay based. It took years for us to get our garden to have rich soil. We added manure and so much compost. Now we have beautiful soil that is easy to work with a hoe.
    Love the blue bird and I appreciate the reader and you, Mary, for sharing the picture. Our colorful birds are blue jays, cardinals (I saw 4 flying around this morning), and gold finches (but not yet). I remember one day last summer when I was watering with a sprinkler. Two gold finches were sitting on tomato cages, enjoying the water coming down on them. So much to enjoy in nature!

  7. JustGail

    Sorry you’ve been dealing with people fussing at you for things you can’t fix. I’m hoping the cool damp weather didn’t get the soil too cool that the okra seeds I have soaking rot instead of sprouting. They’ve been in water for 2 days, so they need to go into the ground today.

    You have lovely black soil. Iowa has some of the richest soil on earth, and it’s been treated like dirt for the last 150-200 years, so much has been allowed to blow and wash away.

  8. Kim from TN

    Iowa dirt is always amazing to see. My parents are both from Osage, so I know good dirt comes from Iowa. Our peonies are about done blooming here in TN and with all the rain and wind the past few weeks they took a beating. My Zinnia are about 6 inches right now and I love planting the dwarf sized one for all the bees and butterflies they attract. You are really buffing up your yard with all the transplanting that you’ve gotten done. Its going to be marvelous to see it all come together. Our niece graduated from medical school in Pikeville, Ky last weekend so we traveled to see the event. It was wonderful to participate, and we are so proud that she is going into family practice in Wisconsin, her home state.

  9. Ginger S

    I love to read the comments and always learn so much. I’m from NH so it is really fun to hear from people from the western part of our country. I saw my first bluebird here 3 years ago. So exiting. On Mother’s day, I saw my first bobcat stroll through our yard. Love living in the country! I should be outside working in my flowers as we are having good weather. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Ginger – please tell me about the bobcat – do you have pets that you worry about? I know bobcats aren’t harmless so how do you deal with them?

    2. Susan K in Texas

      We have bobcats that stroll through the yards in our city. Animal control won’t do anything about them. They tell us to keep small animals in the house and make noise when around them. So far they haven’t hurt any people but have taken a few dogs.
      Lately there have been stories of a couple of coyote moms around our senior center. It’s a pretty wooded area that people like to walk around. They’ve asked people to stay away from the area while the coyote pups are little. Eventually they will move on.
      As our area builds more and more the animals have no place to go and adapt to city life. We have rabbits, raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc. around.
      So wildlife isn’t only in the country but is also in the city.

  10. Joyce from NY

    It was a very windy day here yesterday, but my kids & some of my grandkids all came & raked a couple flower beds that I hadn’t gotten to, put down mulch, trimmed my shrubs, cleaned my gutters & got my outside furniture on the porch. They do this every year for a Mother’s Day gift, I appreciate it so much. This year I ordered barbecue chicken from local fire department, I made macaroni salad, pumpkin bread & chocolate chip cookies for them! It was a great day, no rain but very windy but sunny!

    1. Kathy in western NY

      Joyce, that is my kind of day! No pomp and circumstance but just help Mom with her chores. And a chicken bbq and what you fixed is just the icing on the cake for a celebration of mom. We had tacos that a daughter brought. I saw many country clubs and venues around here were offering buffets for $48 per person for brunch. There is no way I would ever eat the various meats offered and pay that. Nor would I be happy knowing my kids paid that for me to dine out. Give me a pizza any day.

  11. Carmen

    I sure hope that surgery happens in June, a relief for both of you! You are lucky to have bluebirds, but the orioles are back here!

  12. Peggy Grandberg

    We are having temps in the high 20c but no rain. More like July than May. Have a good day.

  13. Jo in Wyoming

    I’m not hearing a lot of love for the woodpeckers. They have made huge holes in my house. I try to keep the insulation picked up as I’m not sure what it will do in a birds nest. I have found tiny egg shells, so I’m sure we have babies in the trees.
    Mary, your gardens grow so well. If it ever stops drizzling and raining, we will have great grass in the pastures too. The main crop around here is cows!
    I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I’m getting a new lawnmower. Yea!!!

    1. Moe in NE Illinois

      Hi Jo, I had a woodpecker problem 3 years ago. Here are some of the ideas that did NOT work: plastic snakes, a scarecrow, throwing snowballs at them (they thought that was fun!), whirligigs, playing the radio loudly….. but you know what DID work? A scarey Halloween Face on cardboard! I put it in a window near where they were pecking….. they left!! I actually kept it in the window for a couple of years because they’d come back and peck on my gutters to make their sounds loud, but once that scarey Halloween Face (Dracula) was in the window they went elsewhere. Good luck.

      1. Jo in Wyoming

        Thanks, I searched the internet for Halloween masks as they are out of season. I’ve tried all the above suggestions and nothing has worked yet. I’ve been told there is an additive I could add to paint they dislike. If that’s true, I could put it in a squirt bottle and saturate the holes.
        I even tried bear spray!
        FYI to all, insurance doesn’t cover woodpecker damage.
        Thanks again, Moe

        1. Moe in NE Illinois

          Oh I just thought of another idea. My neighbor did this. They pecked back of his house, wooden siding. Looked like machine gun holes. Anyway. He hung a plastic owl at the peak. Its been hanging there for years. Not a single woodpecker hole since. We did the same on our wooden shed at our cottage, since we hung that owl, no holes. Its one of those owls that looks like its standing but head doesnt move.

  14. Diane in Colorado

    Northern Colorado has had a wet week as well—and cool. I finally went out this morning, in the rain, to pull some weeds and trim som branches. Tomorrow is supposed to be clear and 80–a huge change!!—I will be hoping to spread mulch early!!

    I’m filling the spare bay in my garage with packed boxes. It looks like I’m making great progress, but there still is an awful lot in my house!! What does that tell you? I have far too much “stuff”!!! I took one load to the dumpster at work and one huge load to Goodwill yesterday. That felt great but I definitely need to do more of that!! I’m intending to donate a bunch of fabric to the quilters at church as I’m clearly never going to get it all stitched up. They do very simple tied quilts for Lutheran World Relief.

    Back to packing!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Diane – are you just decluttering or are you packing to move somewhere?

  15. Jeanine from Iowa

    I typed a comment, and it did not go, so I went back and it was still there, so tried again and it said it was a duplicate, but I did not see it on the website. I just mentioned that I heard from both my adult children yesterday, one from ND and the other from OH. It was good to talk to both of them. We had some rain over the weekend, so too wet to hoe in the garden. Most all is up except the green beans and lima beans. I soaked the seeds overnight, so thought that would help, but they are slow in coming up. My okra came up and I did not soak them. It is very cook here today, so a good day to stay in and quilt.

  16. Launa

    Great Blue Bird picture in her nest all snuggled up with eggs! Enjoyed your scrap quilt start as well!
    Big downburst about dusk Sunday!

    Keep fingers crossed for Rick’ s surgery June date!

    46o here in Idaho this sunny morning; possible electrical storms today, too!


  17. Moe in NE Illinois

    Hi Mary, Good Luck to Rick! He will be a new man (I have heard). Hope all goes as planned. We have a lot of orioles enjoying oranges and jelly, and hummingbirds too. I’m still sewing everyday, I think I have picked up 15 quilts from my long-armer since January. All UFO’s from classes I took through the years. I will have to send photos to you when they are bound and labeled. My yard garden is cut in half this year, I hoed it by hand, looks beautiful. I want to expand my hosta garden that’s why I cut it down, PLUS I am gardening with BAGS which is fabulous…. Up on our deck… so much easier to water… no pests… no bunnies… so far I have lettuce, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers, pea pods, and pumpkins planted in the bags. In the yard I planted tomatoes. Enjoy your summer!

      1. Moe in NE Illinois

        Look on Amazon or a garden center. I got the 5 gallon bags. Easy to move. Your vegetable garden will be better than imagined! I started with 4 bags. My crop was amazon. This year I have 10 so far. My bags are black. The bags are a fiber so can be washed at end of the year. Or. I believe just mess up the dirt and use again. I will say only down fall is they do have To be watered twice a day in dry warm weather. Tomatoes do not do well in bags I have heard.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Moe – please explain planting in bags- garbage bags?

      1. Mary Says Sew!

        There are bags designed for planting. They work like giant flower pots, tubs or the water tanks converted to growing flowers and vegetables. Especially popular for potatoes.

        Search “Grow Bags”. Garden Supply has several versions.

  18. Jean Elliott

    I love your blocks. I am home from my trip to Iowa and I’m still unpacking my car. I want to get everything put away so I can start sewing.

  19. Carol Reents

    Many comments: I live on the Twelve Mile Prairie about 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis IN. I, too, am blessed with rich, black soil that I take for granted. We will soon be hemmed in by tall, Indiana corn fields. I thought the reader quilt with flowers on dotted fabric was a great choice. I wish I had all your energy.

  20. Sharon Geiger

    You have the beginnings of a great scrappy quilt. They are my favorite type of quilt. Love the bluebird on her nest.

  21. Kathy in western NY

    I for one love to read the comments to know how everyone is doing. And all that we strive to accomplish in our days whether it’s gardening, sewing, reading, taking care of someone, or tidying up around our places.
    Love the quilt with the polka dot backgrounds and I kept that picture to remember to incorporate more blacks and whites and polka dots to make an eye catching quilt.
    We need some of your rain as I tried weeding this morning and the ground is so hard. Fingers and toes crossed Rick will finally have his surgery after all this time. It’s 70 today and sunny.

  22. Jan Hebert

    Our weather has been so good for quite a while now, it seems so strange! We had broccoli raab from the garden last night, first veggies from the garden this year. My lettuce is doing well and the pak choi too. I’ve got tomato seedlings going in the kitchen and lots of herbs. So excited to get everything in the ground but I will wait a few more days just in case. I am so jealous of your beautiful soil, Mary! Ours is clay based, and we have tons of stones and rocks. Very hard to work with. But we do get quite a bit of food from it so I won’t complain. I have an eye appointment tomorrow, I stupidly pushed a wheelbarrow full of compost up the hill to side dress the hostas and not long after that I noticed a pretty annoying floater along with little pin dots in my vision of the right eye that had cataract surgery a month ago. I can’t believe that I did that! I was worried about my heart, not my eyes! Hopefully it’s not permanent damage. Moe! I love your solution to your woodpecker problem! A scary Halloween Face! That is great! I wish I could scare away the hawks that hover over my chickens with something like that! Did anyone watch the Celtics last night? What a game!! Jan in MA

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jan – what a game! I’m going to send you a picture separately.

      1. Jan Hebert

        Mary, I look forward to the picture, thanks! That crowd was just having so much fun! My daughter and her kids were there and said it was just crazy! Crazy fun! Jan in MA

  23. Ann in Virginia

    I adore the picture of the bluebird on her egg!!. I lost my baby blue birds Saturday to a big Black Snake!! I tried to kill him, but he escaped up the tree.

  24. Jane Boyer

    Today I was able to get outside and do some yardwork. It’s been on hold as weather has been too cold and wet to do more than pick up sticks. Did make some progress today and it feels as if spring is here. I’ll pick some rhubarb and make a dessert this evening.

  25. Judy Jaques

    I love seeing the bottle on the shelf with cuttings in it.
    I have several little bottles I use to start plants.
    My daughter asked me “why do you do that as you already have so many plants?” I told her I just like watching them grow from a piece of a plant into a big plant, to give them away and to see if I still have the green thumb.
    As a mothers day/birthday gift I asked for help putting down 10 bags of mulch. Best gift ever is help with a project.
    I made a new walk path and bordered the privacy fence so I can mow close. It looks so nice.I had saved chewy boxes all winter to use under the mulch.

  26. Cheri

    You mention that you liked “The Glass Castle”. Have you read the book before that one? “Half Broke Horses” is the title and also a very good book.

    Jeanette Walls has a new book out now titled “Hang the Moon”. I have not read it, but intend to soon.

    And no, the comments are NOT boring!


    You mention that you liked “The Glass Castle”. Have you read the book before that one? “Half Broke Horses” is the title and also a very good book.

    Jeanette Walls has a new book out now titled “Hang the Moon”. I have not read it, but intend to soon.

    And no, the comments are NOT boring!

  28. Jeanie S, Central IL

    I love the bluebird picture, and that black Iowa soil is something special.
    I, too, will be keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well for Rick’s surgery.
    Thanks, Mary 🥰

  29. Tama

    Good luck to Rick on the hip surgery. Sending intentions that he will do great!! I had mine replaced in July of 2020. It felt shocking to have the surgery at 9:00 am then to be up for my first walk at 3:00 that afternoon. Following the recovery exercise program was key for me. Being able to walk again made me feel like I got my life back. I feel great gratitude daily when I go for my morning stroll without a hitch in my get-a-long!!

    Love the photo of the beautiful soil. Nothing like the good ole black dirt we have in NW Missouri, and Iowa!!

    Have a good day!!

    1. Ruth Bridges

      I had my hip replaced July 2018. Best thing I have done . I have read a lot about people having rehab after their hip surgery but I didn’t have rehab per say, the surgeon on one of my follow up appts. just said when you are at the sink or you can use a chair just move your leg in and out. Yup ! I h
      ad mine done at Mercy with Dr Sherb. Never had any problems. Need to have my right knee done now.

  30. Marsha in MI

    One year one of our boys, who loved animals & birds, was involved in checking the bluebird nesting boxes along our country Kal-Haven trail. When I inquired about him volunteering the gentleman said they didn’t use kids for volunteers. I told him we were homeschooling and he would be there when he was supposed to. So the gentleman requested to meet us on the trail and we met. My son who was homeschooling, another younger son and me with a baby in a backpack. He was impressed and our son did the project & kept the records for each nesting box. Sad when raccoons got to the eggs before they hatched but such is nature. I can’t remember how old our son was when he did this, butbit was a fun experience overall.

  31. Linda in Michigan

    Marsha, I walked some of the Kal-Haven trail last fall. It was a cool, cloudy day, but would have been lovely if the sun were out. Met a bunch of girlfriends for lunch in a park on Lake Macatawa in Holland. It was so cold and windy, we had winter coats on! Some of the girls wrapped up in blankets to keep warm. At least it wasn’t raining, ha, ha!
    I read The Glass Castle last year, hard to believe people could live like this.
    My husband is getting the garden ready for planting, a lot of work, but will be so worth the effort.

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