Monday June 15th 2015, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Garden

Tonight: bird spikes in the branches and the base of the trunk, should have done it sooner, and another packet of grape Koolaid dribbled over and into the clamshells.

Our first taste of homegrown Babcock peaches. Three more weeks. Hang in (literally) there…

Crashing the party
Sunday June 14th 2015, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

Last year a raccoon climbed my August Pride in the night and broke two thirds right off the top of that little tree, stripping side limbs off too on its way tumbling down. It still didn’t manage to get at the peach inside the fallen clamshell but it knocked the tree straight back to its bare root start. It was awful.

It’s growing back quite nicely. It’s half the height of the Tropic Snow peach and not the pruning job I would have done, that’s for sure, but I will have a better tree for it: there are and will be a lot more limbs closer to the ground because that’s all it had left to grow from and they will be easier to pick.

My middle peach, my Babcock, is the one that’s producing a lot this year. Clamshells, grape Koolaid, cinnamon sprinkling–I’ve been trying them all.

Plus one other thing: a big doubled-over length of bubble wrap tucked gently around its trunk like a shawl. Not taped nor tight; I want the wood to be able to breathe. But I also want mini airbag explosions at the claws and unfamiliar textures for that nocturnal climber who goes mostly by its whiskery sense of touch in the dark.

And it’s worked! One edge of the plastic got shredded at a bit, so I know it tried but it just couldn’t climb it nor over it. Pull at it and it pops back up.

And what really proved my No Trespassing sign had worked was the completely unexpected flash of orange under a cluster of leaves.

All this time and I had not seen that there was a seventh peach–untouched! The scrub jays have started pecking at the Yellow Transparent apples that aren’t enclosed (no Koolaid over there). But wow. An actual unprotected peach growing unseen and undisturbed all this time long enough to gain some coloring and somehow I had missed it. Well, as long as the critters did too, hey!

There’s of course now a clamshell with shipping tape strapped around it. Yellow becoming orange, faint red freckles at the top and a nice pointy bottom for now. Just hang in there a few more weeks…

And all was well
Saturday June 13th 2015, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Chocolate to start the day: as we sat down with our hot chocolate just after his shop opened, Timothy custom-made some truffles on the spot with fresh apricots because Michelle had told him I like them (I do!) and he set some in front of us to try. (I really do!) Exquisite.

As was his violet truffle: I grew up in a house in the Maryland woods with wild violets growing in the grass, with parents with the good sense to consider them the flowers that they were, beautiful purple treasures with perfect leaves. This was the essence in chocolate of a happy childhood. Seriously, if you’re ever in this area you need to try this man’s handiwork.

We swung by the next block on our way home.

It was Mr. M who opened the door. I was very glad to see him; he hadn’t been at the annual block party the last two years as far as I knew and I wasn’t sure he was still with us but I’d been afraid to ask. His wife had once asked me, Do you remember, in this neighborhood in ’53 when…

And I’d grinned, I wasn’t born yet.

Oh you!

So yeah, they were homeowners here 62 years ago.

We had a perfectly lovely conversation. I offered to hoist that errant tree branch back over the fence to our side and to help trim back some of their heavenly bamboo that’s up against the fence if they would like some help with it. (I didn’t say, you’ve always kept everything just so and it’s growing wild this year; are you guys okay?)

He laughed off the part about my tree branch and said it was fine and that I was welcome to trim any time, not to worry, and he thanked me for the offer to help. He’s a lovely old gentleman. I woke up this morning after yesterday’s angst feeling like it was going to be no biggie, and it was way better than no biggie: he was a delight.

Off to Purlescence‘s knit swap. Bring some, take some, the only rule at the table is be nice. One of the skeins I was bringing was a pre-wound cake of hand dyed sock yarn, and it was a perfectly nice sock yarn but it was shades of taupe and beige on the orange side and I was never going to knit those colors no matter how much I liked the person who’d dyed them (who has since closed her business. I’ve had it awhile.) I knew Kevin would love it, though.

I walked in through those doors and Kevin was right there on the other side. I told him as I dug it out of my purse that I’d pulled it out of my stash thinking specifically of him and he held out his hands for it with a big grin, not letting it even land on the table, proclaiming it his favorite colors and that he was going to knit himself socks out of it.

Next thing I knew, though, Kathy had that distinctive cake in her hands. I grinned; she told me Kevin knew it would be her favorite, it was, and so he’d instantly passed it along to her.

You can see where this is going.

There were quite a few quite nice yarns and people were admiring them but waiting to see: if someone clearly wanted to pounce on something, then it was clearly meant for them and there you go. People were giving others a chance first, again and again.

I ended up with a skein of Malabrigo that I knew exactly what sale that dyelot had come from. I’d used up all of mine from it. Malabrigo was still a new company then. And there on the floor was the back of a large cotton sweater that had been going to have drop shoulders, i.e. it was knit straight up from the bottom with no armscyes. The shoulder stitches were cast off and the back of the neck stitches were on a holder with two more big skeins of very soft cotton stuffed in the bag with it.

All I had to do was rip back two rows and then cast off and voila! A washable baby carseat blanket, there you go.

I tried to find out whose it had been so they could have that near-instant baby gift; after all, they’d done the work. I got nowhere. When I wistfully mentioned that to someone, they said most of the projects on that table were there because their knitters never wanted to work on them again.

This was true: I had dropped off six or seven skeins of a yarn I’d ordered from China that the seller had claimed was silk/cashmere. It most emphatically was not. It was bamboo, maybe with some acrylic and the very barest amount of animal hair of undistinguishable source. But given what it was really made of, whatever that was, the lacework I’d done in it utterly refused to block out of being a crumpled rag.

I’d put a note in the bag describing why I’d bought it, what it wasn’t, and how it had (mis)behaved. The yarn was nice to the touch but I had put hours into the lie that it was to me. If someone else took it with fiber-reality expectations, it actually could work out quite nicely for them.

Me, I never wanted to see it again.

Someone else definitely did–it disappeared off that table in no time. That was gratifying. I hope they love it.

And there was a sock. A small, single sock. Its mate had apparently never been knit and there was no yarn there that matched it–it was on its own.

I have cold feet in the winter but don’t like it that when I finally warm up enough not to need warm socks on my feet, it wakes me up to kick them off. A single sock insulating my cold feet from each other as I fall asleep is all I need.

And so someone’s sock found a happy home where its wooly handknittedness is keenly appreciated. It even fits. (I think I actually have a matching skein…Stitches West a few years ago and that Canadian guy, right? What was his name? Shelridge Farm! Yeah I bought some too. Here let me go look in my stash…)

Camphor more
Friday June 12th 2015, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

So we bought this handy dandy tree limb trimmer thingummy with a telescoping handle a little while ago.

The camphor tree Chris’s crew trimmed back last summer now had watersprouts, long, gangly growths with poofs of leaves at the top–and those twiggy limbs are fragile and a hazard in a windstorm. But the unforgivable part is that they were starting to shade my mango, a mandarin, and a peach.

I worked at it some yesterday, waited for today’s path of the sun across the yard, went nope, not done, and I trimmed some more tonight, thinking, I’m getting better at this.

Um, except for that last one. There was a particularly ugly limb that was mostly over the neighbor’s yard, not too big, I could do that one, and I was sure I could grab the heavier end as it hit the fence and thus improve her view. Y’know, be a good neighbor and all that.

In practice, this is a little harder to do when you’re also holding a twelve-foot pole with a long curved knife with a mini-guillotine at its bottom–and I’m the one pulling the string around here, I’ve seen what those blades can do. Survival instinct got the better of the moment as it fell down her side.

Can’t just leave it there. Even if it’s not very big. I walked around the block to go knock on Mrs. M’s door to fess up and to offer to remove it from her property.

Only, it’s been fifteen years since I’ve been in her house. Paint jobs and landscaping changes have happened, and on her street I was going, now, wait, which one…

That one didn’t seem quite it maybe but the trees I could see beyond made it a possibility. And the lights were on (it was close to sundown), so, hey, I knocked.

There was the dad at the window, washing the dishes as his teenage son opened the door.

I managed not to say anything that would sound really stupid and old to a kid as I realized in astonishment, You’re the cute baby in the stroller while your dad was walking his dog every day!

I told the kid what I’d done, apologized, and said if it landed in their yard I’d be happy to go retrieve it. He chuckled and told me no problem, it was fine. I asked, partly to make sure they still lived there, Are the Ms next door? (And if you read the post in that link, this one is the follow-up: Adele got hers after all, our fourth peach.)

Yes they are.

The limb might have landed in their yard, I’m not sure, I told him.

Turned out the Ms weren’t home–and I don’t have a phone number for them.

And so I have yet again avoided having a conversation with Mrs. M about her large falling-apart Snoopy weathervane she impaled on our fence that, when it broke, she turned the broken side to face us.

It shades my August Pride from 1:30 to 3:30 pm and has been reducing its blooming. Which would delight her if I told her. Um. I was kind of hoping–scratch that, I was hoping a lot–that I could break the ice tonight: I had to talk to her, so starting the conversation, any conversation, would be a done deal. And I could make amends for dumping an unwanted thing on her side.

It’s not like this should be so hard.

(Edited to add in the morning, having written the problem out of my system: of course it’s not. I’ll go talk to her today.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one
Thursday June 11th 2015, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Life

There’s a whole story to tell later.

Old houses…

Signed, down payment added, and dropped off at the post office, since I was going there anyway. I really wanted to deliver it in person to speed the process up but the freeway and side streets were at dead stops with a bridge being rebuilt.

We’ll be having roofing people over, just for the fun of it.

Wednesday June 10th 2015, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

So here’s what happened.

I kept waiting for my asthma med to be dropped off by the mailman. It didn’t come. Monday I finally went looking for why. They had not recorded the doctor signing off on the thing, and whether she (likely the nurse) did or not I don’t know.

I emailed her and Caremark, since they hadn’t followed up on it.

Their system said it could not handle requests from this page, do it through that part of their system.

I DID do it from that part of their system! Their UI (user interface) is terrible! Their site is designed to make it even harder to reach them there than it is to sit through their phone tree. I sent again. I got through to someone, but they were not helpful.

So I called them, sitting through endless we are trying not to serve you diversions and finally, finally got a live human being and told them I am too deaf, I tried to do it online, and I’m afraid you are just going to have to put up with me.

She chuckled. Good for her. It helped. And she was very patient with my please-repeats.

I explained that my doctor had filled the prescription but at this point I had two doses left and their mail order system simply wasn’t going to work. Was it true that the prescription could be sent to and filled at the local CVS pharmacy?

Yes it was.

Would you please do that.


So they had that information in their system in two places to the best of my ability and definitely via the phone conversation.

I woke up yesterday to a cheery, We have your prescription and we will be mailing it out some time in the next five days.

Facepalm. I expected this to be here two weeks ago. Think of the potential consequences of not getting an asthmatic’s meds to her in a timely manner as contracted to do.

I printed out the notice to me from the doctor and took it into the local CVS anyway. I explained my problem to the young clerk. She told me I probably didn’t want to wait there, she didn’t know how long it was going to take.

She got every detail right conveying the problem to the pharmacist, who was a helpful, earnest young voice on the phone last night and highly apologetic. He had gotten nowhere with them, and he was having a hard time with that because he knew I needed that med. They had told him there was one last person he could try–in the morning. It was the best he could do.

I thanked him profusely. He’d put a lot of effort into it and that meant a lot to me.

I woke up to an email from the mail-order folks saying they had shipped it.


Meantime, the 32% chance in the forecast of .02″ of overnight rain started at midnight and lasted till about four this afternoon, rain blessed rain clearing the smog out of the air, seven times the amount of water they’d said probably wouldn’t happen anyway. But boy did it. So, so wonderful.

I went off to the annual summer lupus luncheon and had just the best time. Old friends. Good people. Good times. And came home to a message from CVS: they had my med ready for pickup.

YES!!! THANK you, persistent compassionate pharmacist pushing on the big guys!

Was it the three month supply the prescription had been written for? No, just one. He had told me he would be obligated to fill the prescription as it was written but someone above must have decided otherwise.

I’ll take it. I’m taking them at their word that the three-month is actually in the mail like they said. And I will breathe easier tonight.

Oh and on the wildlife front? A mockingbird was displaying its tail again and again as it if were a peacock: this was his place now. A white-breasted nuthatch, and I have never seen one here before! Or never close enough to get to see at all what it was. There was what I think was my first sighting of a western meadowlark.

The ever-threatening scrub jay is gone and the whole bird world turned out to party.

The swaggering one
Tuesday June 09th 2015, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

So. Do I talk about Caremark messing me over again despite phone calls and email messages and me being without my prescription because they just totally blew it? (Are we surprised.)



With fledging season over a juvenile scrub jay moved in and took over the yard. And was a complete pain in the neck. When I put out suet crumbles for the little birds as ever? Usually that meant a jay would fly in, grab a bite and leave–or more often land, try to get my attention, wait for its own treats to be tossed its way, and that would be that. The interaction would entertain both of us and it knew if it grabbed the suet first I would refuse to toss it the other. Which it preferred. We had it all worked out.

This overdressed crow declared ownership of it all, and unlike its parents, figured out how to land on both the bird feeder and the small hanging suet cage, both designed specifically to thwart bigger birds. If the cage swung wildly or it could get a reaction out of me that was half the fun. I put bird spikes on the top of the cage? It got around them.

That big beak could stab a lot of food out of there–and then that jay came right back for more and I knew it wasn’t hungry and I knew it wasn’t the hormones of autumn telling it to stock up. It did it because it could. It did it because it was a teenager. It was always the same bird: one white poof of a baby feather on the still-gray chest for the longest time.

Today it was bossing and bullying the smaller birds but I wasn’t paying it any attention just then. Then it apparently decided to see if it could land on the smaller feeder that I don’t always fill but did today, the one tucked into the alcove of the patio.

Peripheral vision plus motion, and suddenly there was a bright blue tail with the large gray back of the Cooper’s hawk immediately behind and closing in on it fast. The end of that chase was clear but it also happened just past the roofline where I couldn’t see, and for that, I’m grateful, since that jay had been obnoxious but it had also been one of a kind.

It had liked to land holding on sideways to the left-side awning pole about two-thirds up: that was its spot and no other bird was allowed to touch it.

A Bewick’s wren of all things landed there about an hour later and took a good look around. Hey! This was a pretty good vantage point for looking over the patio and seeing which food was available where, wasn’t it, and as its head turned this way and that I was sitting there going, wow. It really knows that jay is gone. It would never have dared.

Two mockingbirds appeared on the fence, found no sign of their enemy there either, and flew straight over my house. Boy, that was a change!

They just don’t do that. They stay well away from my back yard, always, enforced at beak-point by jay. They knew it was gone. I should have sung Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead because it would have been hysterical to hear them singing the tune back–which they could have.

I wondered how long it would be before another scrub jay came to take the other’s place.

And the answer was about five and a half, six hours.

A whiter-chested older one landed holding sideways onto that pole, higher up than the other one’s spot, shifting its feet nervously, awkwardly, watching me. It darted in and took one single suet crumble from below and fled. I forgot to toss it its treats if that was the old one but I don’t think it was.

And that was that.

I can deal with that.

A scorcher
Monday June 08th 2015, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit

One hundred and six. When last week was in the 70s. Thank heavens we were able to add air conditioning to this house awhile ago.

Monday is not one of our allowed watering days but on the other hand we are allowed to hand-water on other days. Says the city’s website–but not the flyer they put in our utility bills. Don’t let the word out, I guess.

So I took a gallon of water over to the fig in the pot this evening because I wasn’t going to have that tree damaged for twelve hours’ sake. If I had to, I would have, but I didn’t have to. Sometimes the fine print is on our side.

I couldn’t help noticing…

One single week since I watered the peaches and apples and there were new weeds over in that part a foot wide and deep with runners hopping around madly. I went from zero plans to weed to an hour of putting my entire body against taproot after taproot after taproot, ripping random leaves when I flubbed it. Felt good.

Then I came in too tired to do anything but sit down and finish the very last of the previous knitting project so it could hold no guilt. Done. Karin’s blue merino and stella yarn was already wound and ready to go. And we’re off!

A little bit of sunshine
Sunday June 07th 2015, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Garden,Recipes

The day did not start off at its best and I admitted to a friend at church that the Crohn’s had been nagging at the edges since I’d come down with those germs. It had tamped down a lot but it wasn’t gone–I needed to finally make that doctor appointment. Part of it too was that it is June, and there is always more UV exposure this time of year.

Having said all that out loud, I almost sat down to knit after lunch but decided to be sensible and rest. I set an alarm and slept right through it. It did help. As does the happy anticipation of working with Karin’s yarn.

There was a wry moment of checking the UV rating and dinner time vs when it would be safe to walk outside to harvest. I threw on the sun jacket. Picking well after dinner and putting it in the fridge for the next day–no. My autoimmunity doesn’t get to make every decision. (I know…)

One fit-between-your-outstretched-thumb-and-fingertips round zucchini, halved, scooped out, nuked just a bit, filled with Alfredo sauce, bacon bits, and a good sharp cheddar and then baked for a half hour. Snap peas (I thought I picked–there are more? Yes!) in olive oil.

It still amazes me, this idea of trading seeds and water (not too much!) for real-life food. My spinach sprouted today–there will be more.

The peaches and apples are slowly, steadily growing, safe inside their clamshells. I picked a few raspberries and the first of the Top Hat blueberries and we shared a small handful each, red and blue warm from the last of the sun on a definitely-summer evening.

And they were very, very good.

Vertical trampoline
Saturday June 06th 2015, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit,Wildlife

So of course after writing last night’s post I went looking this evening behind the lemon tree and the fence where I rarely go for the tree’s thorns and the prickly perennials back there. Just not a lot of incentive.

To my very great surprise that fig stump of quite some time ago had two sprouts going again, both about 18″ high. They’re gone now, and I would not have known they were threatening the fence again for another few feet’s growth had I not found last night’s new volunteer seedling, triggering my thinking about the old. That definitely worked out well. (Photo is of the Black Jack variety we planted on purpose. I kinneared it with hands high.)

There is, meantime, one young and particularly clueless black squirrel that has been a nuisance. He thinks that if the bird feeder is empty there will miraculously be more if he can just reach it and that any surface is fair game to try from.

No it’s not.

I resorted to plastic bird spikes for the first time ever. He tried taking a long flying leap this morning from the one amaryllis in bloom, which was placed such that it hadn’t occurred to me as a possibility–and I seem to have come around the corner just after he ran as it crashed to the ground, because, seeing me, he acted like, Aagh! Caught!

He did the fast leap leap leap they do when they’re in a hurry but not really screaming fleeing for their lives–and jumped up right smack into the center of the birdnetting part of that tent. It sproinged him straight back to where he’d leaped from.

Wait–what WAS that? While I was just helpless with laughter. Since he was clearly fine.

That tent has street cred now. Not a single squirrel went anywhere near it the rest of the day.

I want to mention: I got a get-well card and a get-well package in the mail today from my friend Karin (I finally got to meet her in person the day in that link) of The Periwinkle Sheep in New York. Lovely, lovely stuff: superwash merino with glittery stellina, superwash merino/silk, superwash merino sport weight. Soft, pretty yarns that my eyes and hands can’t wait to get to, and I’m going to wind the first one up as soon as I stop typing this so I can get right to it. I find them all very cheering; thank you, Karin!

Our sour cherry tree that on its own just couldn’t shake off what was eating it? It’s looking so much better now (and see how much it’s grown back just in the twelve days since that picture!)

I know just how it feels. Recovering is wonderful.


A Silicon Valley startup
Friday June 05th 2015, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Wildlife

Maybe ten years ago I saw something behind the lemon tree that was not your usual weed. It was quite close to the fence. Those leaves–I was sure it had to be–and as more of them grew and the tree grew bigger it was.

The critters had planted me a fig tree.

And that fig tree went from a seed in the ground to seven feet tall with two fruits on it by fall.

But at that point it was already pushing against the fence and there was nothing for it but to cut it down. I’d wanted to grow a fig tree ever since, and so as I’ve mentioned this year we finally did and we’re both quite happily anticipating our Black Jacks to come. I went outside tonight specifically to look for any signs it might set fruit this year and in three places I think it will soon.

We had carefully picked out a dwarf variety. None of this seven feet in a year stuff.

I then went over to the mango tree.

That distinctive angular growth pattern, the leaves just starting to grow into the right shape… It couldn’t have been there more than maybe a week–I mean, I look pretty much every day to keep weeds away from there and it wasn’t–when I laid that mulch down a week ago it was not there.

I opened the slider and said to Richard, Guess what’s growing right at the 2×4 behind the mango? (That I use to help block the flow of water to the immediate mango area only.)


The critters planted a fig tree.

(Pause as he too remembered.) You’re joking. (With an unspoken, how…?)


And then I grabbed a trowel, a gallon of water, and filled up an empty clay pot with soil and worked the water into it. The pot was too small by far for anything past maybe the first month but it’s what I had.

I took it over to the baby tree. The mango’s side of that 2×4, good and moist soil we’d put in, the fig’s side, bone-hard clay as if it hadn’t seen rain in its life and it was surprisingly hard to get that trowel down in there. But I knew if I didn’t that seedling would overpower my mango’s roots very fast–one way or another, it had to go. And why waste a perfectly good game of surprise?

Where it is now it will be out of direct sun in the morning to let it recover from the shock. Having had to cut apart the Black Jack’s roots, I knew it would recover. Figs are resilient.

I’m still in a little bit of shock of my own. The tree in the neighborhood that I assume our earlier one had come from? We’re quite sure it was cut down some time ago.

Maybe the compost pile next door?

Acting cagey
Thursday June 04th 2015, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

I read Dave Barry’s description a number of years ago of the damage to his house after a major hurricane swept through Florida. His enclosed patio had simply ceased to exist.

Except for its door to outside and the frame it was attached to.

The door his dog was used to having the family open for him so he could go out in the yard and do his business.

No matter how many times Barry walked his dog around that door, trying to the left, to the right, to show him, Look! There’s nothing in your way now! You can go in the yard All By Yourself from this point!–the dog didn’t get it. Oh no. One does it properly. They had to walk over to that orphaned door and open it to let the dog walk through it or the dog simply wouldn’t go.

It was just like that here, too.

I saw a squirrel combing through the leaves of my Gold Nugget mandarin, looking for a meal. Its fruit isn’t going to grow to the size of ripe for at least nine more months–this was ridiculous. It’s a very small tree and so ordering a 36″ cover was a cheap fix and it might even still fit next year. (And after a year of using a NuVue and the Gardman cages, when I need a smaller one, I like the NuVues better. You do have to anchor them.)

I ordered one from a large retailer. They sent me two. Oops.

And so I set one over the mandarin and that was the end of that–the critters left it alone. We’ve been picking blueberries since January and they are apparently conditioned to the idea that they can’t get past structured bird netting. (They can, but don’t tell them.)

It would have been great if I had been able to use the second to cover my tomato patch but it was too short to go over my tallest support structure (well, tomato cage, to use the traditional but at this point repetitive term). The plan has been to set up my biggest Gardman over them but it will take two people and time to do and the set up will be a major pain and with us taking turns being sick these last few weeks, we simply haven’t pulled it out of last year’s box yet.

I did put some grape Koolaid on the tomatoes right after the first few to set were raided. That seemed to do it.

Then those new cages showed up last week: you just had to take one out of the box, walk out the door, untie four ties, and poof! The NuVue pops open, done! Last year I bought one in the biggest size and it arrived with a broken frame and I just used it anyway no matter what it looked like, but this smaller size came perfect and I like it. (The one in the photo is deliberately a little scrunched in rather than all the way open–I wanted it tight up against those plants.)

The squirrels like to come to the bird feeder area by way of sneaking carefully around things from the side farthest away from where I can see them out the window, as if that would make it so I wouldn’t notice them. And so I leaned the second cage in tight against that far side, with bushes covering the area behind.

Yesterday we had quite a wind for an area that rarely gets much of it and since I certainly hadn’t tied it down, that cage played tumbleweed and rolled well out of the way.

What happened next just had me staring in disbelief: a black squirrel decided within minutes that the coast was now clear and came in to the middle of my plants via that side that had been covered for a week. Sniffing at my coveted tomatoes.

Which, mind you, have been wide open all along at the other two sides.

I chased him away and set the cage firmly back where it had been and everything went back to normal. And it stayed normal today, too.

They stay clear. They know they can’t get in there. No matter what their eyes tell them.

Raven about it
Wednesday June 03rd 2015, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Saw the Cooper’s hawk.

Most of the smaller birds took off, but an oblivious finch here and another over there stayed, and stayed, and finally did the last-second panic thing with one going this way and the other that, separating from each other, just the thing…

And instead he shrugged after a moment and went the other way.

Because three ravens, at least two of them probably by their behavior only recently fledged, were playing king of the mountain at the tippy top of a tree behind him that couldn’t support their weight at all. They fumbled, tumbled, played, teased–entirely forgetting perhaps that the point was to be stalking his stalking to steal from him. They were like little kids at a playground.

He didn’t fly straight at them but he did risk flying towards and in front of them. Better to let the prey just go while still proclaiming to be the one who’s boss around here.

Hours later, I didn’t see him come back but apparently this male house finch did. (Pardon the birdseed, my outdoor broom doesn’t quite fit in that spot.) He hit the window and tumbled down between two old milk jugs I’d been using to water the potted berries. He wouldn’t have been able to get back out again without flying straight up, so I eased the door open and moved a jug to give him a clear path out of there.

When he had recovered a few minutes later he did exactly that.

In case you want a crack at it
Tuesday June 02nd 2015, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Recipes

Remember the crockpot and the signup for soup and cookies for the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Hospital? That’s tomorrow.

And given a thousand different experiences, I said the usual, If I can do it today do it today and Richard echoed the thought. Besides, split pea tastes better the next day anyway. Michelle happened to drop by and then rescued me while I was stirring by dashing off to Milk Pail for the missing celery for me.

The cookies: last time I did this someone else made the cookies and I didn’t remember how many were going to be needed. Well so let’s make a lot, and I pulled out the–does anyone else remember the fake Mrs. Fields recipe that went the rounds twenty-five years ago? It seemed to be a pretty good reverse-engineering and definitely healthier than the standard chocolate chip. But in case you missed out, here goes:


Concussion Cookies

2 c butter

2 c sugar

2 c brown sugar (okay, forget the two different kinds, I just did 3 3/4 c white sugar and topped off that last cup with dark molasses and it was very good.)

Cut up the butter and cream thoroughly with the sugar. Add 4 eggs and 2 tsp good vanilla.

Meantime, put 5 c oats in a cuisinart and whirr till it’s as fine a flour as you can get. Add 1 tsp salt, whirr, 2 tsp baking powder, whirr, and the recipe said to also add 2 tsp baking soda. I didn’t. I don’t care for the taste of baking soda and the cookies don’t need it. Then mix in 4 c flour, but I find I like that last cup well on the scant side.

Mix into creamed mixture. Work in 24 oz chocolate chips, plus, if you want, toasted nuts,  raisins, craisins, whatever all else you want to throw in there. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min or till it smells and looks done to you. Let cool before removing from the cookie sheet.


Now, the name. This stuff is really good to have on hand when you want to be able to bake only as many cookies as you won’t feel guilty for eating: you freeze it, and the nubbliness in the oats makes it easy to dig a cookie’s worth out of the frozen batter.

I found out the recipe made five pounds’ worth the day I had a new batch at the top of the freezer and happened to stoop down to pull something out at the bottom of the freezer. Guess what shook loose in the process. And yes, I really did.


What the critters won’t eat
Monday June 01st 2015, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

Snap peas and round zucchini: last week we ate green veggies from our own back yard two days in a row and aside from tomatoes I don’t know that we’ve ever done that before in all our married lives. The few times we’ve tried, we had poison ivy winding up around each plant back East and the broccoli I grew here one year tasted horrible nibbled right off the plant. Cooked? All those tiny flowerlets opened up to show a tiny now-dead beetle in each. Yow.

But that explained it. I still have zero desire to plant that ever again and the lack of bugs in farmer-grown broccoli inspires for me a certain reverence.

The sense of at-long-last-success and the relief at it was instantly contagious.

And so, one new $2.79 packet later, a plastic pot a tree had come in, a bit of leftover potting soil, and voila! Way too many spinach seeds got planted tonight. Won’t take but a few cups of water a day, I hope, and the crowding will just make all the more incentive to pick off the extras at the baby-leaf stage. I’ve read that spinach doesn’t like heat but we’ve got air conditioning if need be. One more reason for the pot rather than the ground. Mobility.

That plus I’d probably have to clear away more of those tall flower stalks otherwise and having a hummingbird dance a ballet in and out of the blossoms right in front of you is incentive to let the things stay, prickly sun blockers or no. It put on quite the show last night.

Meantime, someone nearby has a peach or nectarine tree because twice today a squirrel, one gray, then one black, came running down the fence towards our yard with fruit that had just started to get a bit of color to it. What surprised me was watching this one eat till he was full. In years of plenty, squirrels have stripped my apples clean in a day, months pre-ripe, picking and biting them all trying to find that one ripe one they’re so sure must be there.

The little guy wasn’t wasting any of this precious resource this year.

(Photo of its leftovers taken with my unsteady hands above my head.) My peaches were all accounted for and untouched. I wonder whom I should be telling about the clamshells idea.