The Shawnee News-Star Sunday June 17th 2018 Becky Emerson Carlberg Happy Father's Day.   Is your father a steak guy, techno freak, gourmet cook, music lover, beer aficionado or macho gardener?   If stuck for ideas, speedily go online.   How about the state of Oklahoma carved in birch wood with holes punched out for beer caps?   No?   […]

The Shawnee News-Star Sunday June 17th 2018

Japanese Garden in Portland Oregon

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Happy Father's Day.   Is your father a steak guy, techno freak, gourmet cook, music lover, beer aficionado or macho gardener?   If stuck for ideas, speedily go online.   How about the state of Oklahoma carved in birch wood with holes punched out for beer caps?   No?   Can't go wrong with the Super Hero and Villain Undies poster.   There is even an avocado tree starter planter kit with three plastic boats that float the avocado seeds in water.  There's time.   You still have a few hours!

Last Saturday, June 9th, I discovered the Tulsa Master Gardeners were having their Showcase Master Gardener Tour June 9-10.   Orange OSU Signs posted in yards off of main roads pointed to beautiful gardens hidden in neighborhoods. Five homes"Pollinator Feast, Morning Peace Garden, Butterflies and Fish, Midtown Retreat, A Family Gardening Legacy plus the Tulsa OSU Extension Office were on display. Within one garden full of annuals and perennials grows a 45 year-old fig tree and grapevine that has been in the family for over 100 years. The Midtown Retreat tour home was the site for periodic plant presentations.

Tulsa Tough Criterium

This is the point where I should say I visited all the gardens.   Well, on the way to the bicycle races I did visit one garden long enough to grab leaflets about Grow Native's Monarch Café and Pollinator Buffet programs, the OSU Fact sheet HLA-6430 'Landscaping to Attract Butterflies, Moths, and Skippers' and the Gardening Journal (March 2019-February 2019) produced by the Tulsa Master Gardeners with monthly gardening tips.   June:   Spruce up container flower colors by using potting soil, not garden soil.   Good time to plant annuals and perennials.   Fertilize annuals regularly.   Renovate overgrown strawberry beds after the berries are gone by mowing at highest setting then thin crowns to a least one foot apart.   Mulch.   Pinch back lengthy annual stems to encourage more flowers, less seeds.

I am sure the garden tour was exciting.   I can vouch for the front yard of the one garden I found.   But, the Brady District was calling and my morning had been taken up with the hunt for the St. Jude's Dream Home in Stone Canyon, Owasso.   I support St. Jude's because years ago my mom, in memory of her best friend and husband, ordered one brick engraved with his name.   That brick is with others that form the walkway known as 'The Pathway to Hope.'   St. Jude's offers hope and help for sick kids and their families. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Brady District was sultry hot.   I found myself standing by Soundpony, a popular bar with live music.   Soundpony also sponsors Team Soundpony, their own bike team wearing yellow jerseys.   Misters were going full steam from pods in the field next to Soundpony.   The racers zig and zagged through the course.   I left before the women professionals competed.   One wrecked and broke 4 ribs.   Ouch.

Sunday I was not in Tulsa. The bikes raced along the Arkansas River and up over Crybaby Hill.   Temps were again in the mid-90's with a heat index of 104 degrees.   I was sitting in air conditioning watching via live-stream feed the races on my laptop. Sort of.   The broadcast would cut off, restart, disappear and reappear.   The 2:15 pm Cruiser ride, sandwiched between two major races, started a tad late.   Two raccoons were on the track. The announcer quipped that in Boulder they call raccoons Dumpster Pandas. When the track was clear, families and bicyclers of all ages took off for a fun ride. The remark was made that pound per pound, ounce for ounce, the little tykes were the riders of the day!

St. Jude's House, Tulsa

The Category I/II male riders began their one-hour death march.  As the pack of 125 riders picked up speed, a leader quickly emerged.   John Borstelmann from Lincoln, Nebraska pounded the asphalt until 34 minutes later, he had a comfortable 55 second lead ahead of the pack.   In the bicycle world, the pack of main riders is called a peleton.   The peleton tried to catch up, but continually shrank in size as bicyclists dropped out due to mishaps, fatigue and heat. With 5 laps to go, 30 'Gladiators of the Road' were still in the race.   By this time, John's lead had dwindled to 17 seconds and he looked exhausted.

With 2 laps remaining, two other riders caught up with John.  Three of them bunched together until one dropped back, leaving John and the other rider in red to duke it out to the end.   Borstelmann managed to pull ahead and crossed the finish line first. What a race.

I turned off the laptop and raced out to my vehicle.   Time to check under the hood.   Last week I had planned to attend a Master Gardener field trip.   Never mind the thunder and electrical storms with small hail and heavy rains coming through the area.   My van refused to accelerate nor did the fan want to operate.   Instead of PondPro, Baby went to the garage.   Chewed wires.   What to do.

Rats Repellents?

Research on-line revealed a scented product guaranteed to repel mice and other small mammals.   'Scent-Away' natural rodent repeller packs arrived and were immediately tied over the battery of both vehicles.   Next morning, the hood of one car was lifted and we stood there, amazed.   The rodents had not only taken down both sachets, but  used them in the construction of their nest along with leaves and tiny stems that were piled on top of the battery.

The next deterrent was described as an all-natural vehicle protection made by professional exterminators.   What exactly is professional exterminator?   I've helped get rid of a few rats in my time.    'Rodent Defense' arrived in a spray bottle and claims to prevent nesting and wire damage. I have just sprayed the engine compartment of my van with a mixture of peppermint oil, rosemary oil, garlic oil and white pepper suspended in vinegar and water.  It smells minty fresh. The area is to be sprayed several times the first couple of weeks to encourage the rodents to abandon the ship, nest, whatever.

I love living in the country.