The lilacs were hit by a spring frost that nipped off all the blooms and killed many branches back. All the bushes need pruning of dead limbs. This big bush is so thin that Robins and Cedar Waxwings are nesting elsewhere.
Eclectic hedge design with lilac bushes, is what the yard seems to want.
Ground nest, or tree nest on the ground?
The poppies volunteered along the west side of the hedge. I weeded out a mess of wild carrot from among them earlier in the spring.
The following poppies are near the stream in the shade of a willow. Happy 4th of July!
I love the sound this one makes!
These just hang in the sky: and oooh, a pink one!
5th of July and on to my “practice” storm window from the bedroom. This is the only N facing window on the house. In 2013 I cleaned the bedroom sash windows down to the wood, got them to open again, and finished them with clear urethane. I got the storm windows off (screwed and caulked and painted in place) and did some triage work and came up with a system of taking them on and off with scrounged ranch material. They have been servicable, but not correct. Now the storm window will have all glass removed (had one broken pane), all paint removed, sanded, broken corner triaged, sealed with linseed oil/mineral spirits (then left to cure for 3 days- I’ll get this far in about 8 hours), primed, new and original glass installed & caulked, and top-coated to the same shade of green again.
In 2013 I discovered the rotted out corner bottom R; the ranch had a golf-ball’s size of usable bondo so I patched what I could to hold the corner together. The layers of paint slowly come away with a heat gun and scrapers, then a specialized rotary paint-eater with a monster 3M composite pad, then sanded to 80 grit.
It all cleans out and I’m left with a lovely wood frame. This side faces in, and I plan to finish this inside plane with spar urethan (over linseed oil) to match the wood finish inner-sash window. The outside face with have exterior paint to match all the other windows.
Triage begins for the phantom limb. I make a form with a box corner to lay in more bondo. The red is residual oil stain from the second or third layer of paint- my uncle in the early 1960’s scraped down to bare wood wherever the red appears..
If I mix up another batch for another fix, I may fill out the edge texture- but it is done enough.
Multiple layers of linseed oil cut with mineral spirits at a 1/1.5 ratio. The mineral spirits allow the oil to soak into the wood, penetrating and saturating, and keeping the linseed oil from forming a hard layer on the surface. The mineral spirits evaporate off allowing the linseed oil to oxidize and chemically change to a hard resin. Rags and steel wool soaked in linseed oil are infamous for combusting, as the chemical process often isn’t grasped, as most consider it an alternate tongue oil. A full cure in the wood takes about 3 days, then the wood is ready for paint or urethane.
Montana, land of many greens. Even the fresh white snow at Bridger Pass ended in steeps of bright green tundra.
E muscles up for mowing.
This section alone will take 2 hours, with E and I each running a mower.
Grass on a gentle hill is taller in full sun, when popping mower-wheelies (for the first pass).
We finished up as an evening rain storm blew through and cooled things down.
Could have used a swather…
I still need to mow underneath the truck…
Every afternoon a storm blows in.
The Iris are still in bloom.
Iris bed put in this spring with Bright Road purples and a few surprise Boulder hybrids.
Deer beds have all been removed, as humans reclaim the yard.
A marshy bit of creek begins to flow faster.
Footbridge falls.
Crystal clear cascades adds a bright voice.
Lots of spring iris transplants are blooming on the hillside bed. It’s a bit wild and crazy, but not too weedy compared to the usual mess.

While still up in MT Jann had thought maybe I could create a big version of my rough tri-color Collie, Nora. When I returned to SLC Jann told me she had put Nora on the mural list, so to really make her. I liked the collage process, so after I finished Beckanne I drew up Nora to scale and banged out the collage. At this point I thought I was done. I had been working flat and this was the first time I’d hung it on the wall. I reworked her eyes, delineating the orbits which helped clarify her personality- not pictured.

I left the little clock face in her black saddle as a fun little detail.
Her nose is a dog head. One eye is a man’s head, as she is always keeping her alpha in sight. the other is a vase and fruit. Her mask is made of tophats.
The white tip of her tail is Cezanne, her legs are Degas.
Her ruff is a fluffy zoo of artists.

Both Nora and Beckanne will be digitally photographed and the entire mural of more than 200 people. They will be oddballs, as most are done in a “street art” method of 2-toning a photograph and making stencils to spray paint. All figures and portraits are then arranged as digital tiles, then it will all be printed out as an enormous banner and affixed to a building exterior here in SLC. The theme is a celebration of SLC women through history.

My friend Jann Haworth is leading a group-made mural (over 200 people involved). Years ago I helped get another group mural of hers in SLC started (when I was director of SLC’s youth arts programming), and did 5 figures on it: SLC Pepper. It was a re-imagination/update of her grammy award winning album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Jann asked me to make one of the large figures for the front row of the new mural. I drew it out while in Montana at 2/3 life size, then had Kinko’s enlarge it to the mural jumbo scale.

A studio view of all the drawings leading up to and including the collage form. This view of the collage is the only shot that the camera didn’t distort the legs into tree trunks. When I dropped her off to Jann she confirmed that the photo had added at least 20 lbs.
Nearly 9 foot tall enlargement of the drawing on the R.
Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West, May 2013 She is now a (the) Principal dancer in the company.
I hung the image at the wrong angle, and tilted this image to about the correct gesture.
She is made from an Impressionism coffee-table book, and her hair is of Remington bronze figures.
E stands in for scale.
detail low. Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Renoir
middle; same artists as above plus Cassat, Seurat, Remington,
The extended arm is all Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte.

I just realized I did more work on her after this shoot, but anyway…Jann tells me it is “pure witchcraft”.

When the earthquake destroyed my computer, I replaced it with a new/used unit and we headed off to MT. All the images I uploaded from the new computer were not reducing in size for the interwebs, and those few weeks of full-format photos used the equivalent data of the past 10 years of blogging. So I wiped them. I probably won’t go to trouble of rebuilding those pages. I left the spoof “Ice House” artisanal wood stave post…

Our three Miss Kim lilac trees, planted last spring, now in full bloom. Our big lilac bushes in the back yard were fading out by the time we returned home from MT (two weeks ago).
They smell amaazing!
The most symmetrical of the three.
The blooms are tiny and delicate, with a wonderfully sweet lilac scent.
This Columbine hybrid didn’t bloom last year, as it was newly planted. Wow!
Our Japanese Kwanzan Flowering Cherry is past bloom, and had just created a carpet of dropped blooms on our arrival home.
It hasn’t rained in Utah yet this spring. The driest on record (137 years)- April is Utah’s rainiest month, we should have 2-3 inches and a few year’s back we even saw 5 inches in one April storm. This is out of an annual average of 12-14 inches, which means devastation as we head into the hottest year on record. We returned too late to save our three year old tree out front. It was doing so well, and I’d finally brought water to the parking strip because of it. The City has assessed it, and will remove it and then at some point, replace it. So now we are years behind for any shade out there…
The tree out front is an example of why I’ve slowly converted everything to Xeriscape.
Step carefully or you may get a bee up the pantleg.
The yellow Iris bloom before the other colors of Iris.
They are taking over, slowly outcompeting the colorful hybrid Iris.
One of many Columbine hybrids in full bloom.
Another Columbine hybrid variety.
Last year I put in these steps, and all the grasses and 3 Hugel planter areas.
More Iris!
The big veg Hugel planter, with lettuce and Chard self-starting from last year.
The Trumpet Vine pergola awaits this year’s explosion.
Upper pond, with last year’s grass splitting into 25 tufts softening the hill above.
The goldfish are all happy to have us home, and the Lilly pads are beginning to surface.
The sunroom has given up its plants to the deck for the summer.
Out front the Purple Ohio Iris are beginning to bloom. Note the uncut tuft of hedge at center?
That tuft of hedge holds multiple nests of Praying Mantis!
Velvety purple Iris smell a bit like grape Bubble-Yum.
Blooming ground-cover at the entry path.
Lillies of the Valley in the shade of the porch.
I was welding up a set of these metal planter boxes for a neighbor with a welding business, and headed over to his shop to help him lift a heavy steel project. I stepped out of his shop (a shipping container) and turned my ankle. It is likely a #2 sprain on a scale of 3. An eventual realization of torn ligaments, swelling, bloody bruises, following an initial shock with nausea and cold sweat and spinnies while laying on the grass spitting expletives, followed by the hopeful denial of trying to walk it off and realizing that it really was as bad as it seemed and retreating inside for ice-packs and elevation. This was more than a week ago. I am just now able to get around and do some light-duty gardening. I washed E’s Montana-Muddy car last night, but will have to wait on the Montana-Muddy truck- as I’m sore again today. Most of the mud is already gone, as the cars were jet-washed by intense rain and sleet over the mountain passes on the way home.

Montana Covid Quarantine: Day 36

Nora measured out a 12′ flower bed for the Iris, then got me started on her plan. The wagon is filled with sod, cut away for the bed. The border is thick old corral lumber salvage.
Some of the treasures that resurfaced.
Danger grubs for Iris bulbs. This is one of many “extra” beds from years ago when I split the SLC Iris beds, and brought up 400-plus bulbs. About 400 went into the stepped beds created on the hillside by the corral- about 95% were eaten from below by varmits in the first year, and a few more every year since.
These little beds predated the railroad tie & stone retaining wall near the creek. These iris grow tall leaves, but it is too shady here for them to bloom.
This spot will produce about 30 bulbs. The other side of the creek had around 40. There is another spot as well…
The new bed holds 30 Iris bulbs.
I also split an overgrown corner of the purple iris bed at the Ice-House, this filled out the right side of the porch bed.
A Robin overlooks the big Iris bed. Last year the ground cover was laid down, as the weeds- The WEEDS!. The lowest scrum of dirt is the creek bed (the Lillies are coming in along the lowest RR tie). The creek is now dry as the snow has melted away and the springs aren’t flowing hard yet.
40 Iris went to the higher layer of ground cover- I cut holes in the cover and set the bulbs. The remainder of today’s six old temporary beds went into the lowest level. The bigger Iris are all that remain from the original planting years ago- and the top two layers, which are short due to weed competition. I should just give up and plant Daffodils here- varmits won’t eat them.
The rhubarb patch is weeded out.
This is another treasure the yard just gave up (along with a massive oil filter). It was hiding in the creek bed, just down from where, years ago with the help of a bobcat, I pulled a literal ton of metal from the creek.
The upper yard creek bed, cleared of organic debris, and finally cleared of all mechanical debris.

Montana Covid Quarantine: Day 32

After a day of rain, evening squalls blow up from the Northern plain. In the past few days the lawn has been hand raked for sticks and matted leaves, then mulched with a mower with spring hooks (the yard ate 4 hooks), then all the dead grass & detritus vacuumed up with a bagging mower. The front hedgerow was thinned and trimmed, and the Iris bed at the front porch was split and moved into its expanded bed (more Iris splits and beds on the to-do list, the largest area needing split was still locked in a frost layer and has to wait).
This bit was under a snowbank, so it has only been raked. See how it is laid down and swept toward the corral by the snow…
Minutes later the storm has swept overhead and is driving up the valley to the South.
Our resident pair of Redtail hawks fly down-valley from the high forests, as the twilight thunderstorms are on the way.
They drift around the front yard and over the forest, then on down.
Anvil thunderheads amass to the South and West. As twilight falls the lighting courses behind the high ridges flashing among the clouds and booming and reverberating the valley. E and I stand in the yard as it begins, Nora stays in the house with an anxiety pill as she tries to crawl under the bed with uncontrollable shaking.

Montana Covid Quarantine: Day 28

A dusting of overnight snow softens the morning. The sun rises on the high meadow.
The deep valley hides the rising sun for a long while.
The frosted forest is washed with light.
Our Redtail hawk flies directly overhead, from a forest glen on the East side of the valley, to a glen on the West- finding the sun.
Light spreading to the hills surrounding the house.
The dawn chorus is led by the Robins.

Montana Covid Quarantine: Day 25

 Two nights ago the storm arrived around 4am, and Nora got me up to let her out. She immediately disappeared into the black-out blizzard, similar to her first summer here years ago when she bolted into a night-time lightning storm. I wandered around in my PJ’s calling her a bit in the pitch black sideways snow, then went back to the kitchen and pulled on a jean jacket and a hat and grabbed a flashlight. I followed her tracks out of the back yard, they loped toward the corral, then switched around and faded out in a long running line up the valley to nowhere. I hadn’t been out long before she came bolting into the beam of the flashlight. She was really glad to have found me, and crowded my legs all the way home.
Not enough snow for the skis, but enough to need snow boots. Nora and I head up the valley.
A coyote’s tracks come down out of these trees, and from out of the forest behind. We had followed the tracks up out of the valley.
There are no tracks of anything up here, as the forested valleys give out and the wind and snow reign alone.
One of Nora’s favorite views.
A lone male Bluebird flits by us…
Back to civilization.