Sunday, March 11, 2018

Belated Holiday Blooms

Last year, the amaryllis didn't do caca. Maybe two really dinky flower stalks, and no additional summer blooms.

Now this plant has been sharing space here for at least ten years, and probably closer to fifteen (yup, these days, time is delineated in five-year intervals. Anything briefer, unless it is something from last week, is just too hard to measure) and should be paying its way.

So I gave it a talking to, a warning, and a deadline: shape up by next year or it's the compost pile for you. 

And for a teenager, it gave me a very respectable response. Nine flower stalks, all with great shape and size. Now we just need to work on the timing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cannellini Runner Beans - Maybe Yes/Probably Not

They were beautiful, these cannellini runner beans, and they bloomed all summer long. It should have been a big success, but it wasn't. Big plants, but not many beans. I guess the bees were in love somewhere else.

Overall, I got around one cup of beans. Oh well, not a whole lot for all that vegetation. One might say, "try again next year." More likely, I'll try my luck with something else instead.

However, once those babies had their overnight soak, they magically became two cups of beans.  Cooking them was quick and easy, and with a simple dressing - a splash of rosemary olive oil, juice from a lemon, some red onion, salt and pepper - they were damn good.

I'm still going to try something else in their place.

Monday, February 12, 2018

February in the Northeast

He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

William Blake,  To Winter

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Update #8

Before - Right. After - Left.
Time flies, whether you are having fun or not, it seems. And while time has been flying, the Leite Liqueur has been slowly filtering.  When it starts, the concoction looks like something that even Princess the cat wouldn't bring home. But by the end, it sure goes down smoothly.

The broccoli has been cruising along, although very few snap peas would germinate. I've only planted them three times... Isn't the third time supposed to be the charm?

And the tule elk at Point Reyes also seem to be doing well. I don't know how the time passes for them, especially on those cold and windy nights. The rutting season is over, so the females look like they're simply waiting for the next generation to appear.

As for the ceramic mice? A group is called a "mischief" of mice and it seems we have one.

And for mischief without mice? My mom fell and broke her hip over the holidays, so I will be heading out for a visit very soon. In anticipation of an upstate New York winter stay with someone who isn't allowed out for at least three months, I've started a big and complicated knitting project. With any luck, time in captivity will just fly by.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Winter is Coming

Yes, it is now technically winter. But those dark and rainy days counterbalanced by warm embers in the fireplace and hot soupy meals for dinner are a bit elusive. Dark, yes, we've got dark, but no real rain so far. And a warm fire in the fireplace is not permitted for reasons of bad air quality.

But the dawn redwood in the Mountain View Cemetery is working through its annual cycle, as always. I have not followed this particular tree's habits and schedule enough to know if this is early or late; all I know is that the tree is now losing its needles for the winter. We are so unused to seeing a deciduous conifer that it almost seems as though the tree is dying. But just you wait 'til next year...

Have a Wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Something for the Kids

It's called "amigurumi" - the Japanese art of crocheting (occasionally knitting) small, stuffed figures and animals out of yarn.  "Small" can be relative; "figures and animals" are also flexible, unless you truly do believe in unicorns. Or light sabers, for that matter.

But it's fun, fast, and even if you don't really know how to crochet, somehow, something works out. For me, it's always been difficult to sit still and watch the TV news. But this allows me to abide, just barely, the nonsense. And even get something done. Otherwise, I may be asked to leave the room.  

This year has been a busy year for new babies in the family. Meaning, there is a built-in audience for cute (and just as important, washable) knitted and crocheted items like these. Sure, they'll grow out of them, but in the meanwhile, at least I will be well-informed on the events of the day. 


Monday, November 27, 2017

Perhaps Life Imitates Art, But Automatons Imitate Life

Well yes, we did go to see the movie Coco over the weekend, but this Day of the Dead Band by Wanda Sowry came before that.

Through the end of January, the Exploratorium is hosting Curious Contraptions, a wonderful show of automatons (automata, if you will). And I mean wonderful.

Now I admit that I am not the biggest fan of the Exploratorium - I think that it can induce migraines, even if you are not susceptible to migraines. Or maybe ADHD, or instant memory loss, I forget. But the noise, the crowds of very young, very active and very loud people, the low lighting, and the strange layout are very disorienting. Perhaps that is their plan?

But this exhibit has made up for all of my less-than-positive feelings about the Exploratorium. And the fact that my "date" kept me waiting for over an hour? I got to play with the automatons without his interference, so even that didn't ruin my time there.

I think my favorite automaton was Boy Stabbing Peas (video below) by Andy Hazell. It seems hard to believe now, given how much time and energy I devote to growing vegetables, that once upon a childhood, I couldn't stand the green buggers. Especially peas.

So I was made to sit at the table until I "finished". Or fell asleep with my head in the plate (Truth. There is photographic evidence somewhere.)

It probably was a good thing that way back then teachers didn't hand out much homework, because I spent long evenings sitting at that table. And unlike Boy Stabbing Peas, there were no headphones. It also never occurred to me to try and choke them down with catsup. Lucky Boy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Preparing for Winter

I was talking to my sister the other day, who lives in upstate New York. It was a brief chat.  This is because she and her family were racing around, storing the pool toys, packing up the lawn mower, taking down the screens and putting up storm windows in anticipation of snow. In truth, it had already snowed there, hence the "racing around" part.

Here it's a little easier to get ready for the winter rain storms - or at least one hopes there will be rain. And storms, in the plural. So far, the local meteorologists are not saying much, mostly because there does not seem to be a clear pattern. Perhaps we all could take a lesson - just keep your mouth shut until you actually know something.

At any rate, at this house the picking up and putting away is balanced by the setting out and spreading around. Yes, the patio furniture has been brought in. But in its place every spare bucket and tub is set out to collect extra rainwater.

The ratty old bean plants are now history, but baby snow peas are claiming that garden bed. And the battle with the slugs and caterpillars seems to be won - most likely only temporarily - in favor of the new winter lettuces. Small victories, I know, but sweet victories nonetheless.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

When the Going Gets Easy

We wimpy folk go to Tahoe. It's too crowded in the summer for me, and too crowded in the winter as well, so that leaves late fall as a wonderful time to visit. Hardly anyone else is around, lodging is abundant and reasonable, restaurants are still open, and the weather is usually beautiful. Yay!

Lake Susie

So on the "popular" hike to Lake Susie (someone lied about the distance because that absolutely was the looongest 3.4 miles I have ever walked!) we may have met half a dozen other hikers, or maybe eight at the most, and two white-headed woodpeckers.  We didn't bother to sign up for a permit, mostly because there were no permits to fill out. It wasn't a problem. Yay!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dark Days

So what do you do when it is recommended that you stay inside with the windows closed because of the smokey air? Air so bad that you can see, smell and even taste it.

Aside from fretting, that is.

So while idle hands may not be the devil's workshop, I find that busy hands keep the crazies away. As does drinking wine. Cheap wine for now, since I already blew the budget for humanitarian relief on hurricanes and earthquakes. Now there's fire aid to think about.

So, I have kept busy packing up seeds, plants and gardening books to share at The Plant Exchange's free meet-and-swap on October 21st. Very briefly, it works like this: you bring your garden-related donations and then go "shop" among all the other plants and items offered up by other generous gardeners. You might want to bring some bags to carry home your treasures.

And then there is a new baby showing up in the family (a girl this time, the first!), so that little blanket absolutely needs to get finished. Binge watching helps with the project.

After that, there is that backlog of chores, things such as shoveling out my studio. But first, maybe some more mice...