Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell


Let the snow fly: Winter preparations complete

Let the snow fly: Winter preparations are complete

The ice scraper is out of the car trunk and in the front seat within easy reach.

The boots were professionally cleaned of salt stains and have a shiny black finish.

The winter coats, short and long, heavy and light, are out of the attic and cluttering up closets that were already over stuffed. Add to them, of course, gloves, mittens, hats, scarves.

Even more important, provisions for the cats and the geraniums are in place, and at this writing there is nary a wasp in sight.

Like it or not, and I surely don’t, I am ready for winter.

Even if a Michigan winter escape is in the future I couldn’t possibly leave without making sure there was proper lodging for Marigold and Daisy, the two wild cats that I have been feeding for four years and that I managed a month ago to pet.

It was an accomplishment when they finally decided the lady with the can opener could be trusted.

Now they have several housing choices depending on their mood and the weather intensity.

A garbage can is laid flat in the tall weeds where they like to hide. Six bales of straw form a hideaway on the open porch that is covered by a sheet of plywood and a tarp. The old swing and the cushions that should have been put out for trash pick-up have been dismantled to form a long covered house. To form a third habitat for critters, the summer porch furniture was overturned and covered with a heavy tarp and quilts, giving them a place underneath for warmth and safety and a comfortable roof for napping.

While all of this effort was done for Marigold and Daisy and their friends, two possums are regulars at feeding time and a very aggressive male cat must be dealt with. He even frightens Geranium, Lydia, and Hemingway, the indoor cats. My preference is to find him a home, rather than trap him for one of those long country rides we hear about for unwanted animals. He’s a good-looking black and white cat with dark brown markings if you are care.

Yes, I said I would not save geraniums ever again. But, I obviously wasn’t telling the truth because there are 12 on the sun porch that are so content some are in bloom. I couldn’t bare to let them die and they seemed stronger and more healthy just before the first frost. Fourteen more still in their pots are equally happy in the basement drinking in the rays of a 65-watt Sylvania Spot-Gro light. They are confused about the season and are beginning to bloom even though they were cut down to four inches for the winter.

The bulb is extended three feet above the plants, according to instructions from Elden, my consultant on all green growing things. A timer is connected to the light to simulate daylight. It is timed to fool the geraniums from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily.

I give the geraniums on the porch and in the basement just enough water to let them know I care; every two weeks seems ample and then not too much.

Enter the wasps into the winter preparation schedule.

Not expected and certainly not welcome, they invaded the kitchen via the basement, and some found their way upstairs into the bedrooms.

After killing more than 50 with the fly swatter, Pest Patrol was summoned. I insisted they were coming from the outside through the basement wall. But Brent, whom we call the bug man in this area, said the source was a large nest behind a shutter on the second floor.

The wasps dropped through the house walls and into the basement and were then free to fly upstairs. He obviously was right. I haven’t seen any since the nest was treated.

Country living is just swell.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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