Friday, March 24, 2017
It was a ridiculous idea, more of mad scientist-type experiment, really. I was pretty sure it would fail since there wasn't much sun. But I just had to try growing gourds - bushel gourds, the kind that can grow really big ("yuge"even) - in the driveway. The concrete would provide warmth, and weeding wouldn't be a problem at all. So who needs sunshine, right?
Right. As you can see in the photos above, by the end of July, the vine was strong, large and expanding. It had already been "topped" a number of times to help focus the energy on the gourds and not on the leaves. That old Zucchini Goddess had to practice her arts to get the baby gourds started, but she stopped working after four were pollinated. Bigger gourds come with fewer siblings. Think about it.
And by late September, the vine was looking more like a middle-aged parent - still going strong, but not quite as fresh and vibrant, and carrying a few scars and bruises. The "children" however, were glossy and almost kissable.
It took a loooong time for the gourds to cure and dry down. Looong time, and it's still not over. But by early February, the gourds had pushed forward on their own weight loss program. Now they are very light and, when shaken, the interior mass has shrunken and slides around. They are not yet down to just dried out seeds inside, but that is the path, and with any luck, it won't be too much longer.
Their outsides are marked with mold. But once they are completely cured, I will wash them, lightly sand their surfaces and oil them. And after that?
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Seven museums. Six historic pubs (a few we visited more than once). Four "heart attack on a plate" breakfasts. Three drizzly days. Two transit passes that took us everywhere. One full week in London. And no complaints.
Really. Even the coffee was much improved from our last visit. And we certainly ate well enough, although only one meal could actually be considered "British".
|Sky Garden Views|
from the 34th Floor
And if I were to mimic the British and bring just one single treasure back with me? It would be really difficult to choose, but I think that if I could have found a way, this Hellenistic solid gold wreath of oak leaves and acorns, intermixed with a bee and cicadas from around 350 - 300 BC would have followed me home. I'm sure I could have found a way for it to fit within my carry-on allowance.
Monday, February 20, 2017
But this one, to my great surprise, has produced quite a number of offspring over the past few years. These babies may be small, but they are tough, surviving on little water and withstanding the occasional raid by the neighborhood cats. Princess knows that area's not the litter box, but not everyone else has gotten the message.
And now these little plants have expanded Uncle Joe's gardening legacy. A few of them have traveled to Stinson Beach to Leslie and Gary's place; a couple made it back to upstate New York; and some went to The Plant Exchange last year to be planted who knows where.
I know that most of the people who are now enjoying these plants never met my uncle, but their gardens demonstrate the wonderful, lasting links between gardens and humans. Even if we don't know their names.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
We - an entire big bunch of "we" - went from upstate New York to the Women's March in D.C. last weekend and had an amazing time! Now I am not a big fan of the color pink, but in this case, it really was quite wonderful.
Other activities to do when the weather is lousy (I saw the sun for a total of two hours over the entire week-long visit, and that was while driving back through central Pennsylvania)?
Or you could while away the hours avoiding the cold and crocheting "brain corals" for Professor Kathleen Hawkes (hehehe, now Hawkes-Boulay), who, along with her students is constructing an installation of a coral reef from yarn (I hope I have this right). It's all about higher math, nimble female fingers and honoring our disappearing landscapes.
Or you could just zone out and watch the winter weather do its magic.
Photo of Baby Benjamin courtesy of Janet Hawkes
Friday, January 13, 2017
Thursday, December 29, 2016
|Willard Middle School|
The Willard Middle School Community Mosaic is now completed and looks great. Even the letters "H" and one of the "O's"in "School" that I worked on look OK. I think everyone who participated is quite proud.
|Solar Panels Installation|
on a Foggy Day
And we're proud to have an array of solar panels on the roof. We're renting them for the next 20 years (if we are around that long) but it should make a difference. And, with any luck, by the time the 20 years is up, we will have figured out how to read the monthly bill from PG&E. They don't make it easy.
We cannot recommend the company that we unwisely chose to do the work (more about that later, once the deal is completely finalized). But if you want to save money and help save the planet all at once, you might give Solar City a call. Our neighbor had a great experience with them.
Pumpkins and a blooming amaryllis. Must be summertime.
The pumpkin grew across the driveway with little water and even less sun. It is now soup. The amaryllis? Who knows, but it seems to re-bloom just because.
Looking forward to the 2017? Well, I first need to make sure that there isn't a cactus growing out of my head. Yeah, right now the world just seems very prickly and confused, so I might as well stop scratching and join the resistance.
|Handcrafted at the Senior Citizens' Ceramics Class|
St. John's Church, Berkeley, CA
Friday, November 25, 2016
Yup, baby needs a new pair of shoes, but probably isn't going to get one this holiday season. And maybe not even for the next four years. Trouble is that my most favoritist, favoritist tennies are made by New Balance, whose leadership made a strong statement in support of the new president-elect.
Too bad, because these shoes have been happily worn by all human members of this household, carrying us from the hard pavement of Madrid to rocky paths in northern India. Ironically, it's been Chinese consumers, attracted to the "Made in USA" label who have kept open the remaining New England factories producing shoes for New Balance. I think keeping shoe factories here is great, but there simply has to be a better way.
Shannon Coulter of #GrabYourWallet has made shopping your opinions easier this season. Don't like Trump? Then don't shop at these places which work with the Trumps or carry Trump products. This convenient spreadsheet has all the information, including alternative Trump-free retailers. (And if you just can't wean yourself off fill-in-the-blank, at least email them with your concerns, mkay?)
Monday, November 14, 2016
We lost. We all have lost. And all the cute kitty photos are not going to make it right. At least not anytime soon.
It is most disturbing that we - and the rest of the entire world - are stuck. Stuck even though scarcely more than 25 percent of potential voters in America chose this future.
This past week I've kept my brain busy devising numerous ingenious punishments and painful hardships for those supporters of hate and strife. I won't go into too many details (is it really possible to have a giant tornado and a fracking-induced violent earthquake at the same time?), but trust me, in my schemes, that Pharaoh in Exodus got off really easy.
The real question? What to do next that will make a difference. And how to keep sane and of good cheer in the meanwhile.
Many of the issues raised during the election are important. For me, the two that seem most critical are the composition of the Supreme Court and climate change.
I do not feel that I can have much of an impact on the Supreme Court, but I do plan to work very hard over the next few years to try and keep this planet a living planet.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
The little plants did just what they were supposed to do and produced a pile of small green-yellow, ripening to red peppers throughout the summer and into the fall. Wonderful.
The 2015 season was also bountiful, and early. Those 2014 peppers had a head start and began producing peppers by April. Eager little buggers, no?
Fall of 2015 - what to do? Why, leave them in, of course, and wait and see... new baby pepper blossoms in late January.
Now I know better than to take credit for this abundance. Yes, my thumb may have a greenish tinge (brownish, really, because of the ground-in dirt) but the extremely mild winters of recent years have allowed these and other cold-sensitive plants to survive into another year.
It seems that peppers (Capsicum annuum) originated in central-western Mexico, more than 6,500 years ago. But I'm pretty sure that it would be just fine if the climate of central Mexico stayed where it was and didn't show up on my doorstep quite yet.