Saturday, March 31, 2012

Slamming the Screen Door

Remember when you were a kid. For me it was in the 40's.  I know that most of you don't even realize the 40's existed, let alone lived through them, so I consider it my duty to give you insights into being a kid during the 'good old days.'

First of all, TV arrived in our little town on Lake Michigan about 1948.  The first one was in an appliance/furniture store window downtown.  The crowds standing outside would have drawn the police today. Maybe then too, but all they would have wanted was to see that miracle of moving pictures on a tiny screen.  When my parents got one, we would turn on the TV, let it warm up for 5 or 10 minutes and then watch a test pattern for hours.  Soon we could watch real programs. Howdy Doody was a favorite of mine.

We played outside after school and on weekends. Didn't make any difference what season it was.  The difference was we wore shoes, socks and boots in the winter.  Probably a jacket too.  When our mothers got sick and tired of us, we were thrown outside and the door was locked behind us. We found neighborhood kids and played games that we made up. Or games that our grandparents taught us, games they probably learned from their grandparents in the Netherlands.

One thing remained constant through our growing up years and even beyond. In the summer the outside door had a screen on it. And that screen door had hinges on one side and a heavy spring on the other, so it would spring closed if you let go of the handle quickly.

For some reason, no child on earth, up to and including today's can close a door without just letting it slam.  So we all heard, "Don't. Slam. That. Door!" each and every time we used it.  To protect the screen doors from early demise, protectors were sold. The were usually metal and had some sort of decoration on them. I have no idea what they cost, but probably lots less than the ones in antique stores today where I found this one:

I look at it and can still hear my mother hollering at us to Stop Slamming the Door.

Thanks for visiting. 

And don't forget my book is on sale at Amazon.

Friday, March 30, 2012


No, not me. I'm retired, but still tap at the keyboard every day.  But, I hired a kid, maybe 25 or so, to do the heavy work in the garden. He did the bed prep and I wanted him to set up the soaker hoses and then mulch the veggies I had already planted.

He had never seen a tomato plant before. For that matter, he had never seen a veggie garden before.  I asked him to put the soaker hoses at the base of the tomato plants.  After he did not move, I realized he had no idea what I was talking about. Did not know what the plant was, what a stem was or why he was doing what he was doing.

Aha, sez me, a teaching moment. I explained what we were doing and why.  Showed him the baby bean plants because the seeds have come up.  Showed him how to plant bean seeds because I don't want all those beans at once, so plant them in stages. I explained that the tomatoes would grow and yield nice red tomatoes, the likes of which could never be found in a supermarket.  Not only did he not know what a veggie garden is, I found out he didn't care.  He had no curiosity whatsoever.  I asked him to bring me a bag of fertilizer.  He brought two bags to me, the only two nearby. One was ant killer, the other fertilizer.  The bag had FERTILIZER written on the side.  He either couldn't read or had no idea what fertilizer was.  None.  I finished the placing of the soakers, the mulching, the fertilizing while he watched and then I sent him home.

And we wonder why folks are unemployed.  I sure know the answer for this particular young man.

Thanks for your visit today.

And don't forget to buy my pond book

Visit us at for all kinds of great garden pond info.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finishing the Spring Garden

I have been out in the mildly hot New Orleans spring getting the veggie garden mulched and the irrigation hoses installed.   It has not been done before today because I am a lazy gardener.  And on some days, a very old one.  So instead of laboring over a keyboard inside the house, I have been laboring over raised beds outside. Outside is much more fun and probably more profitable.
Some of the flower garden plants are starting to show off.  They are prone to do that this time of year. It's as if they say, "Hey, you liked the first flower.  Whaddya think of the next 6 or 15?"  Just driving down the streets of our little city of Slidell, La is interesting with all the wildflowers. Wild ageratum makes long blue swatches along the dry roadsides. The sides of the road that are wetter have pickerel rush, the sedges, cannas about to bloom and of course, Louisiana iris by the hundreds.  And it's only just begun. We do suffer a long spell of not much in the heat of summer, but by fall, we are back in full bloom with a whole new set of flowers and colors.  There is not a day in our part of the world when we cannot garden.
Just a taste of what's out there:


Iris Little Rock Skies

Thanks for the visit this morning.

Visit us at
with all your pond questions

Don't forget to buy my book:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brag, Brag, Brag

Of course, you know that my book was published in mid February.  Here are the Amazon rankings this morning:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Advertising Works

If you want folks to buy your product or use your services, you have to tell them where you are and what you do.  That's called advertising and no matter how you do it, you have to do it.   Most of you know that I started and ran businesses all my working life, the last one being building and maintaining ponds.  I had friends who also started businesses during their working lives and those businesses failed. Why? They said they did not have enough money to advertise.  So nobody knew who they were and the business closed its doors.  I also had no money to advertise, but there are so many alternatives.  Back before Twitter, Facebook, Mashable, Tumblr, Pinterest and the multitudes of interactive social media existed, we had to tell people about us in old fashioned ways.  But we advertised.  Some advertised on TV, but wow, was that expensive.  Newspapers were not all that much better.  So how did I tell folks who I was and what I did, especially since building ponds was unheard of unless it was a pond that livestock drank out of. I had to visit nurseries and make them know me, speak to countless garden clubs, hand out business cards, print brochures and beg business places to make a space on their counters for me.  And one can never stop advertising.  You don't see MacDonalds stopping, or Walmart.  If you stop, your customers stop calling, dropping by and buying.

Now we have all of the social media. I don't know if they work for small businesses or not, but I do know that the more people know your name, the more people know your name.

I wrote a book and it was published in early February.  So how are people finding out about it.  I am now intimately acquainted with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other sites.  So is my publisher who tweets daily.  And does lots of it.  My book is in the top 10 of ebooks at Amazon in Landscaping. Is that because it's the best pond book ever written?  I may think so, but that doesn't make it so.  It sells because it's advertised.

You now are aware of the importance of advertising and lots of ways to do it.

And this is one way. You just read an ad for my book. Aren't you just thrilled to pieces?

Buy it. It's on sale right now, but not for long.

A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond.

Enjoy. And tell your friends.

And find me on twitter

Thanks for visiting today.  I always appreciate it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Mixed Bag

I made polenta this morning. In the oven. That way it doesn't bubble and splatter like Mount St Helens all over the stove while you are furiously stirring it.  I wonder what marketer came up with calling corn meal mush polenta.  Same thing.  My parents ate corn meal mush, boiled, fried and any other way my grandmothers could figure out how to cook it.  Now we eat polenta. Nice name. I guess corn meal mush was not elegant enough for today's 'ladies who lunch'. I use slices of it for mini pizza crusts topped with tomatoes, mushrooms and whatever else I have in the house that I might like.

I am a vegan. I know, a dirty word for most of you, but I have been vegan since 1976 and don't see myself eating dead flesh or dairy anytime soon. So vegan I am and vegan I shall remain.  It sure is cheaper at the grocery store and my garden feeds me most of the year.

Speaking of gardens, and we were, weren't we?  The flower garden yielded pleasure this morning.
The walking iris is Marching toward Praetoria (Look it up.)

It should be totally open by tomorrow.

Don't ever discount the common flowers. These are petunias Use lots of them for great splashes of color.

And with dew falling off the calla lily, who could resist taking a picture of it.

If you are looking for pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Traveling Public

I saw on Facebook this morning that the average person has visited 17 cities.  First of all, they mean the average FB member has been to 17 cities. Even if that is true, that means half of those travelers have never left their front yards.  How can that be?  How on earth does a person live his life and not leave the block he was born on.  I have often said that I only worked to feed my travel addiction. And now that I am not working anymore (unless writing counts), I still travel to more than 17 cities each and every year.  Seventeen states is more like it.  Granted, now that I am umm, 70, I no longer travel on my motorcycle, but wrapped up in a car that takes me where I want to go. And I sleep in a 28' travel trailer.  Can't call that camping, but you sure can call it traveling.
Our favorite places to travel are the great National Parks in the US.  Last fall we traveled from New Orleans to Oregon, stopping at parks from the parks of Arizona and Utah to Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, back to Rocky Mountain National Park and finally home. I'm not sure, off hand, how many states we traveled through, but it seems to be more than the cities that the average person visits in a lifetime.
Our favorite: Gosh it's hard to pick one. We love the Grand Canyon

Our most favorite:
Rocky Mountain National Park
This is a view from the top of Trail Ridge Road where you can still see a glacier.

Do you travel?  Where to? Tell us about it. And if you don't, why not?

Oh, if you want pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Weekend has Arrived

And not a moment too soon.  It's time to go to the grocery store. You see, I am retired, but for some reason, I feel the need to add to the grocery store traffic on a Saturday when all the working mothers are there with their screaming children, the fathers who have their kids for the weekend and are valiantly trying to find something to feed them as they have been forbidden to feed them any more fast food and last, all the other folks in wheelchairs and walkers because Saturday's are when their kids can accompany them to the store.  Yeah, so I need to add to all that.
But the garden calls this morning. The sun has returned. About time. So the flowers have their heads up again instead of bowed to the rain and the veggies are growing so fast, you can see them headed for that yellow ball in the sky they have not seen in so long.
That black gamecock iris that was trying to bloom yesterday morning did:

It was definitely worth the wait.  These are the darkest of the Louisiana Irises, almost black and incredibly beautiful.

This guy was out and about after the rain as well.  He evidently was not romantically interested in me as his bright red dewlap was not inflated.  Nor was he afraid of me - same reason.  Part of his tail is missing. Don't worry, he can grow a new one.

Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are.

Oh, if you want pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain, Oh, Didn't it Rain!

This is our third day of pounding, crashing, flooding rain. And if you have never experienced a South Louisiana rain, there is no way you can know what I am talking about.  We are talking monsoon. Rain coming down an inch an hour.  Rain that fills up the streets, the drainage ditches, the garden, the yard and your shoes.  Drainage is slow in our 6' above sea level altitude, so we live with squishy shoes for several days after one of our rains.

The plants love it if they survive.
The Black Gamecock Louisiana Iris is hanging in there wanting to open. If the weather clears today, it might make it.

This iris is open but wishes it had a raincoat. Poor thing.

Bottlebrush is resting in the camellias. Just as well or the branches might break from the water weight.

The calla just gets more beautiful.

The beans are up!  That vertical stripe on the left is water next to the raised bed.  Can you see why we grow in raised beds?

As an aside, traffic here doubled yesterday because I added marijuana and cocaine to both the blog and the labels. Shows you what is important to my readers. 

Hey, buy my book.

A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining a Pond

It's on sale for 99 cents right now and will be for a few more days. Better get it now. And then please write a review.

Thanks for the visit today.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blog Traffic

One of the things we bloggers are looking for is traffic.  We start out small and keep typing (Do they still call it that?) until people start reading.  We get tired and stop. We start again and keep hoping.  Did you know that we can track how many people look at what post and when they did that? Well, we can.  My top read post of all time is How to fix a pond leak written way back in 2008.
One of the ways we get people to read, aside from writing great posts, that is, is to put labels on each post so that the post can be found when potential readers do a Google search.  Sometimes labels work, mostly they don't.  I think that I need to change some of my labels to things like 'How to Grow Marijuana for Fun and Profit.'  Or 'Free Cocaine Available here.'
Of course, I don't sell anything here, so readers are not asked to buy when they arrive. Not that much money is made from Blog ads. If you blog long enough, you just might make $8.25 in a year. So if you are blogging for money, I might suggest looking for another job.  Like maybe growing marijuana for fun and profit.

Or you could buy my book and start building ponds for even more fun and profit:

A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining a Pond

It's on sale for 99 cents right now and will be for a few more days. Better get it now. And then please write a review.

Thanks for the visit today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Well, finally

For days we have been waiting for rain. We have watched the wind blow both from the east and west.  My rain prediction joints have told me every day that it was going to rain soon, but nooooo, no rain.  Evidently today's the day because I can see the rain buffeting the bottlebrush tree.  We do have some garden photos tho.
Asian lily

Morning glories

Check out a follower's blog. Lucy Trowbridge shares her wisdom with us:

Oh, if you want pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bottlebrush Tree Announces Spring - LOUD

Spring has officially arrived, but most of us have been enjoying our global warming most of the winter this year.  We even have different USDA planting zones now.  I know that before I retired, I was already planting winter gardens in November, not in October because it was just too hot for pretty petunias and pansies, typical winter color in New Orleans.
But yesterday, in a blaze of glory, our Bottlebrush tree announced that spring is indeed here. Might as well have played a 48 trumpet fanfare and announced it to the world.

See what I mean.

Bottlebrush tree
Wake you right up in the morning, won't it?

Oh, if you want pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring in the Swamp

We are surrounded by swamps and wetlands here in St Tammany Parish, LA. Yes, we call counties parishes here.  Something about when LA was owned by the French and the church dominated the government, so named regions the same way churches named them. Geez, if political trends continue, we could be reverting to that.  But I digress.
Yesterday, while vacating the house so possible buyers could roam through it, we drove over to the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge to see what flowers were blooming and what critters were taking advantage of the lovely spring day around here.   The typical critters were taking the sun.
Our toothy friend, the alligator
Red eared slider, taking the sun on a lily pad.

And speaking of lilies
Thousands of them cover any non moving water.  
Closer up they look like this:

Or even like this:

This one is a cow lily. Even with its name, it's a beautiful flower as many of the wildflowers are:
Cow lily closed

Cow lily open

And what would spring be without the ubiquitous wisteria?

I hope spring is going this well in your part of the world.

Oh, if you want pond information, see my website at

And don't forget to buy my book. Click on the box at the top right of this page.

Thanks for your visit today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Grammar Police

C'mon people.  Please start learning and using good grammar and spelling. We can't understand what you want to say when you use loose instead of lose.  Or their instead of there or they're.  Learn the difference between hear and here.  And fergawd's sake, no more apostrophe esses on the ends of words unless it's a contraction. See: It's. Contraction for it is.  Easy, right?  Well do it then.

Teachers, are you teaching grammar?  Do any of you teach your students about hour and our, affect and effect?  Do you know the difference?

Is it because I write for a living that I object to your bad grammar and spelling? I don't think so. I think it's (see, a contraction again.) because I want to understand what you are writing and I simply cannot do it when I see your instead of you're.  It distracts from what you are saying and makes us look at all your mistakes instead of reading what you have to say.  It also makes us think you really don't know what you are talking about because you don't know how to tell us what you are talking about.

Do you just not care? If you don't care, stop writing.  If you didn't learn, start now.  Read. That's a good way to learn good grammar.

Stop foisting your words on us if you want us to stop laughing at you. Or simply not understand what you are trying to say. Stop writing in code unless the rest of the world uses the same code you do.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Flowers and Veggies

Most of us who are gardeners don't just have flower beds, we grow vegetables as well.  In my case, I learned from my grandmother in Michigan. She taught me that gardening was not only fun, but what  got picked from it made great dinners and even better could be put up for use later in the year. The Michigan veggie gardening season was much shorter in Michigan than it is here near New Orleans, so we get scads more growing time.  We can plant root and leafy veggies in November and harvest them from December to now.  In fast, this is what I pulled up yesterday.

And just after harvesting a few onions, the green beans, okra and eggplants are now in the ground.  There is no day in any year that a gardener cannot garden in zone 9a.

My new How-to pond book is out. You can buy it by clicking on the box in the top right corner of this page.

Join us at my interactive pond forum
We have a great time, post lots of photos and get many pond problems solved.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring means excitement in the garden

As an amateur photographer and a gardener, I love the spring when new flowers arrive daily. Here in zone 9b, spring comes early most years and even earlier this year.  The first Louisiana Iris bloomed yesterday. Of course, I was out there getting a shot of it.

We have more yellow plants than any other color and before lots of new hybrids, yellow and purple were the two LA iris colors. And this one shows up first this year.

The bees were already in the bottlebrush tree.

More petunias are showing up every day. These were planted last fall.

And a tiny gray tree frog visited in the Asian lilies.

It's foggy this morning, but as it burns off, I wonder what other wonders await in my front flower garden.

Don't forget, visit my website at
to meet pondkeepers from all over the world.

Oh, and my pond how-to book is for sale. 
Click the link at the top right corner of this page.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Pond for a Small Space

I didn't want a pond with fish for this space and I really didn't want to dig much. This pond is in a Rubbermaid round 2' deep horse drinking trough. I got it at the feed store for 40 bucks.  The ball on top was given to me as a gift, so the natural place to put it was on top of a cinder block inside the horse trough.  The pump shoots water up into the ball and makes a noise similar to Niagara Falls. I can also direct it through one of the holes, but if I do the water splashes out.  I put some swimming pool chlorine in there occasionally to keep the water clear.  I stacked flat Arkansas Moss Rocks around the pond to hide the black container  Other plants and a crane help soften the look.
So, I have a pond requiring little work that makes a great sound. Who could want more?

See my website at

And don't forget you can buy my new book by clicking the box at the top right of this page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My March Garden

My garden is busting out all over and it isn't even June.  That reference may be lost on anyone younger than 70, but I remember it well.  It's a song. Look it up.

The petunias I put in the ground are spreading all over and are just delightful.  Everyone who sees them smiles.

The bignonia vine, an old fashioned New Orleans favorite is covering the fence. Butterflies are already checking it out for breakfast.  

The bottlebrush tree is blooming early this year.  It will soon be totally covered in red flowers that look exactly like the brushes that are used to clean bottles.

Hey folks, we are going to be lucky to read a guest blogger later this week. Susan Taylor Brown is well known in Southern California and has agreed to grace our pages here.

And don't forget. My book is for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most anyplace else you buy ebooks.  If you buy it, I will smile.

Thank you for visiting this morning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Safety in the Garden

Let's talk about garden safety.  We all get out in our gardens in the spring. We look forward to getting down and dirty with torn fingernails and muddy knees.  Other members of the family can be on the roof cleaning gutters or looking around for the right place to dig a pond.
Because I am the granddaughter of an electrician, perhaps I am more aware of possible electrical accidents than most.  Or maybe because I dug ponds for so long.
Before you start doing any work on the roof or gutters, check around for overhanging trees that can hide power lines. If you see a power line, stay at least 15 feet away from it.

If you are digging a pond or a trench for an irrigation system, call 811 before you dig. That's a national number where you can learn the location of electrical lines, or any utility line in your yard.

If you have a pond pump, lights or anything else that connects to an electrical outlet, be sure the outlet is a GFCI. That's the one with the little red or black button on it. That type of outlet will cut off the electricity instantly if water hits it. That can save your or your children's lives.  It's important even if it is just written by a little old lady who writes a pretty little blog.

Be safe this spring and summer.
Today's featured flower:
Buddleia, a real butterfly magnet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring rains on the garden

The spring rains have arrived in my garden.  Of course, here, near New Orleans, we have spring, summer, fall and winter rains, but at least the spring ones are pleasant and we are in the midst of one now.
So have a look at a rainy weather photo taken from the screened porch. 

The garden is coming to life early this year. The Asian lilies that usually don't bloom until late May are about two feet tall already. We might just see blooms well before May.  These are from last year. At almost 6 feet tall, they are spectacular, aren't they?

Don't forget, my book is out.  Click in the top right box in the sidebar for a closer look.

And visit us at to ask pond questions.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Planting the spring garden

My vegetable garden is not yet started for the spring. I am late and later.  I have no veggies left in the freezer from last year's garden and only onions to harvest from the winter garden.
On Christmas Eve in Arkansas, the ramp from the house was frosty. I thought as I started down it, "Wow, that looks slippery." Next thing I knew I was on my behind having slipped, feet going in the air and butt landing square on the ramp.
Broken tailbone and much much pain. That pain has not gone away yet and I understand it takes forever. So, no garden planted. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.

See, frost on leaves

But this gives you an idea of what's to come.

Oh, and my book is available for sale on Amazon:
Check the top right sidebar to click over there and see what it looks like. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Selling a house

Have you ever lived in a house that's for sale even as you try to live in it?  Well, I have and am even as we speak.  Trying to keep a house clean with a year old abandoned 50 pound dog with feet that go inside and out without really knowing or caring about the difference is a task I am failing at.  So, I have decided that houses are for living in even if they are for sale and buyers just have to realize that.  Our time in this house will end by the end of this year and we will be in Arkansas for good.

Hey, wanna buy a house?  It's huge, on an acre and the landscaping is fantastic and professionally done.  Guess who did it? (Smile.)

dog not included.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Azaleas mean spring

Spring flowers make us know that spring is really really here.  And yesterday was a red letter day in my garden. Or maybe I should say a white calla day.  The flower Katherine Hepburn called "The flower suitable for any occasion" produced the first of many I will see as spring arrives. Even through the hot New Orleans summer, the calla soldiers on.  I have mine in semi-shade which seems to be where they do best.  I often use them as aquatic plants, but again, put them in the shade. They do not do at all well in the sun.  I find that most broadleaf plants like a bit of shade to do their best.
And the plant for which the Gulf Coast area is famous, the azalea: It pays its rent in the spring.  Imagine gardens filled with these and you know why the shrub makes us smile.

I took these photos yesterday morning, March 8th, 2012.  Amazing, aren't they?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Spring arrives like a lion

As spring is arriving like Secretariat in the final stretch, I wonder about having a spring veggie garden this year.  I hope to at least plant some tomatoes, green beans, squash and eggplants.  I have to harvest the onions that have been growing all winter to free up that space. My garden beds are all raised so the crawfish will not build their chimneys right up through them. When the ground is wet, the crawfish need to breathe, so build their chimneys up to 6" about the ground. Makes the egrets and herons happy, but me, not so much.
It's definitely time to plant. Used to be the time to plant was after March 15th when the last danger of frost had passed, but even our USDA zone has changed.  It used to be 8b, now it's 9a. That's a big change.
Time to stop rambling and start my day in the fields.  Or dream about moving to the top of Dodd Mountain in Mountain View AR. Dodd Mountain is about elevation 1200 feet. Doncha know the air is thin up there :lol:

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I really have no excuse for neglecting this blog for so long.  We are in the midst of leaving this house near New Orleans and living full time in Mountain View, Arkansas as we both retire.  The house there is smaller and easier to take care of.  And it has a pond. A natural one where turtles live, deer and other critters drink out of. Occasionally a cow wanders in for a taste as well. It's free range country and our 6.5 acres is open to all.  I love it.  It will be difficult to leave our house of 6 years after Katrina and my home of 40 years, but I love Arkansas and the lovely small townness of Mountain View.
The pond here will not stay. I originally built it as a temporary pond. It's a huge blue pot sitting in a round Rubbermaid horse trough.  I will make the trip with me one of these times when I drive up there. I will have photos when it gets set up.
Have a wonderful time getting your pond up and ready for spring. This is such an exciting time of year.