Go Outside! Venus very bright, Aldebaran chasing the Seven Sisters, Orion on the rise – it’s DOG DAYS!

At 4:47 this morning I woke up to the sounds of my new neighbor getting into her car and leaving. She’s an early bird. At that hour I can hear the crunch of her feet on the gravel driveway.  It’s actually better than waking to the sound of my stove timer – BEEP BEEP BEEP! 

After I pressed the button on the coffee pot I stumbled outside into the dark – there in the East I saw the Seven Sisters. This is the first constellation I remember identifying as a child.   I thought it was the Little Dipper, but my uncle Boo took me aside and told me the story of Atlas, forced to hold up the sky,  and his daughters, who all had various jobs. He took his finger and led my eyes down to the bright red star –  Aldebaran, the bull’s fiery eye.  He spread out his index and middle finger to show me the shape of the bull’s horns. He told me that in mythology the bull was alternately protecting the sisters and chasing them. 

According to Deborah Byrd of “EarthSky”,   “The star [Aldebaran] is so huge that, were it in our sun’s place, its surface would extend almost to the orbit of Mercury.”

When I was a kid in Glenn County the sky looked bigger.  You could see the entire sky from my grandparents’ big turnaround driveway. The Milky Way stretched out across our yard like a giant superhighway lit up for miles. 

This morning Venus looks like a preliminary sun. When I checked 5 minutes ago, she was shining so bright it threw a little halo around herself, like a Queen’s tiara. 

I watched for the giant Orion and his dogs, but they were behind the sun. Of course you realize, it’s Dog Days, and that’s when old ladies and dogs go crazy. 

5:33 and the sky is brightening outside, Venus is the only thing visible, very bright – you can see the sun shining on her round bottom!

Time to get to work!



Dog Days are just about over, time for old ladies and dogs to act normal again

It is so dark outside, I can’t see Biscuit when we walk out to the backyard, she just disappears. She comes up to bump my hand now and then, jaunting back to the fence line with her nose to the ground. She would love to catch a cat off guard, run it up a skinny tree. She’s nooooo good. 

Badges stays at my heel, between my legs, or hanging from the sleeve of my shirt. He’s still a puppy – noooooo good! We put our shoes up high where he doesn’t notice them. Lately he’s been attacking a section of drip hose. I couldn’t catch him at it, but it was pretty obvious when the water would start spraying all over the place and look there, somebody keeps dragging the main hose out of the flower bed and punching it full of holes! This is one of our most important sections of drip line – it runs from the only spigot we have on that side of the house, along a section of permanent shrubbery, and then on into our tenant’s yard to water her shrubs. With the Summer heat, stuff would turn brown fast when that thing wasn’t working, so we just had to fix it and try to catch him ripping it up again. He’s a smart dog, he doesn’t like being taken up by the collar and told that he’s been BAD!  

One day I posted myself close by when the timer was supposed to go off. I noticed, Badges was also waiting, laying in the grass staring at the lines. Dogs  are so GD smart. I heard the timer snap on, the water too, very loud. Suddenly the line started to sputter and hiss, and then the emitters came on with a spit-spit — and the furry little bastard just went completely nuts, barking, jumping and biting at it. He must have thought it was some kind of creature, and he was bound and determined to kill it. We had to rerun it from the other side of the fence and hide all the hose we could under the fence,  and get different emitters. 

The biggest milestone we’ve had with Badges lately is we’ve been able to put out a scrap of rug for him to sleep on and he doesn’t rip it to shreds by next morning.  I keep reminding myself the really rotten stuff Biscuit did when she was a puppy – hole digger, furniture trasher, sock stealer – we told ourselves, at least she’s not a cat killer. Cat chaser, maybe, but who isn’t?  She finally calmed down, enough, but she still has a very singular personality, with her stubborn habits, and she gets her way a lot of the time just because she can hold out longer than we can. Rotten, she’s just rotten to the core. 

I don’t know how people live without dogs. The statistics show dog owners live longer, are less often the victims of crime/violence, and have happier and more productive relationships with other humans.  I think people should be required to be responsible for a dog or other pet for at least a year before they have a baby, but that’s just my opinion.

Of course we all know bad pet owners – you wonder why they got a pet, don’t you? Oh well, I try not to judge. I rarely see an act of cruelty worse than leaving a dog home alone all day, which is often unavoidable. My neighbor leaves her dog for long stretches, but when I see how happy that boy is to see his woman, I know he’d wait for her no matter what. That’s a dog for you – we’re hardly worthy, but they love us anyway.

I hate  to leave my dogs but have to sometimes, and of course they act like it’s the end of the world. My son stays with them, and they love him, get real excited when he comes, but he says when we’re gone they won’t eat and fuss about everything. He actually has to stay here and bring them inside at night or they cause all kinds of fuss. 

That’s another good thing to have – children. My sons have grown up into adults I can depend on – what a treasure in a little box, I never even expected to be able to depend on them the way I do now.  I just wanted them to grow up healthy and happy, and now I find, they have grown into wonderful adults, more than I ever dreamed for, like my dad always said, “Good People.” 

That’s another good  thing to have – memories of adults you respected, something to think about when you have a problem or a puzzle, when you’re just plain sad or worried. It’s always nice to remember, what would my parents/grandparents/Aunt Oma Lee and Uncle Roy have done? What would they have told me if I’d asked them about this? You can always find those answers in your memory book, and it’s almost as good as being able to ask them straight to their face.  When I think about or do something I  am not proud of, all I have to do is think about my gramma or my Aunt Oma Lee finding out and my face burns with shame.

The sun is starting to glow along the ground behind my neighbor’s house, some of the stars are fading. Orion is farther across the sky, Dog Days are almost over. Old ladies and dogs can go back to normal. 


Loooooking Gooood!

We got our wish - ripe tomatoes by June 1. These yellow cherries are sweet and meaty and great on a salad.

We got our wish – ripe tomatoes by June 1. These yellow cherries are sweet and meaty and great on a salad.

Took a day off to go swimming Wednesday, the garden has been keeping us on our toes. For one thing, we need to be out there by 7am when the sprinklers go off to make sure nothing blows, pull weeds around the emitters, repair, clean up.  That work always pays off – by the first of the month we were eating out of the garden.

Here's a new one from the seed catalog - my husband assures me these will turn red a they ripen. They're pretty cool looking now, but can you imagine, dark blue spaghetti sauce?

Here’s a new one from the seed catalog – my husband assures me these will turn red a they ripen. They’re pretty cool looking now, but can you imagine, navy blue spaghetti sauce?

We tried new varieties this year, we’ll see if they pay off like the old standards. 

Here's some old standards - red cluster tomatoes. These make pots and pots of sauce.

Here’s some old standards – red cluster tomatoes. These make pots and pots of sauce.

We ran out of sauce early this year, so we put more plants in. I expect our water bill to spike, but damn the torpedoes, we saved all winter for the garden. 



We always plants lots of sunflowers, amaranth, morning glories and other flowers to shade the  rows and  bring in the bees.

We always plant lots of sunflowers, amaranth, morning glories and other flowers to shade the rows and bring in the bees. The other morning they were just about to pop all over.

My strawberries are putting out a second wave of fruit, and the apple trees are loaded pretty good. We didn’t get as many peaches as last year, but they look good. The bug traps I made with soda bottles were full of dead fruit flies when I took them down last week, and my husband and I started hanging old strands of Christmas tinsel in the trees to keep the birds away – I think it worked last year, so we’re doing it again. We saaved a lot of the strands we used last year, and there’s plenty more in my mom’s old Christmas stuff. There’s even an un-opened package of the string stuff, I haven’t had the nerve to bust that out yet, I remember we found it all over the house for months when I was a kid. 

Summer is looking good. It’s going to be hot and dry, a real challenge to use water “wisely,” but I still prefer Summer over Winter, so I’m happy as a lizard.