Spring
Wednesday March 22nd 2017, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The hole the woodpecker made in the dead wood that ended up on the ground, leaving a tiny feather behind.

The tree with a bigger hole now.

The first peach of the season, on a tree hit by peach leaf curl despite my spraying copper; once was not enough. The first two were leafing out during the storms last month, and rain plus cold weather lets the disease attack the developing leaves.
The new healthy leaves are already coming in, and once they’re fully grown they’re impervious to it.

The other two vulnerable trees are leafing out and it’s been raining–but it’s also been warmer.

The Indian Free is happy as a clam, and should I lose one of the others I’m going to put in a Muir, which likewise is resistant and late-blooming.

The breba (spring crop) figs growing below the leaves.

And there are new flower buds today on the cherries and blueberries.

I love the happy anticipation at this time of year. It’s like a new knitting project with enough rows done that you can really see what it’s going to turn out to be.



Giving us the birds
Wednesday March 15th 2017, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

My baby Parfianka Pomegranate, the two-year-old Indian Free peach, and the yearling Baby Crawford that’s too young to let fruit but whose flowers will serve the other nicely.

And the first 8 oz skein of Washington Circle Worsted, done. (I might be able to squeeze one last row out of that.)

Two days of having the net down except for a few brief blips made for lots of knitting time. Also icing of hands.

As I was walking around the yard this evening, trying to capture these trees being young and small (or not so small in the case of the IF), I was surprised to see chunks of dead wood on the ground over there near the kids’ old climbing tree.

I don’t know if I have a photo for real or just in my head, but, when our kids were young the two older ones threw a long hose again and again up and over one of its upper branches (before it grew too big) and improvised their own swing out of it. Never mind that we had an old swingset at the time; this was way more fun. Because they’d made it. In a tree. Be like a bird. It was a playground unto itself in their childhoods.

As they got older and more in need of their individual spaces we added a bedroom too close to that tree and it gradually grew over it. Richard and I quite a few times heard the thud in the night of a raccoon dropping off a branch and landing overhead and ambling around, with paw prints in the morning across the bathroom skylight like a two-stage verification process.

And then there was that notable year when the nocturnal black beetles that favored that type of tree dropped down through the heating vent and landed on my head at night. This was before we found out there were breaks in the heating system up there that gave them that pathway from the tree. OUT!!!

And so we cut that side of the tree off, and I would have told them to take it all–but Richard remembered the climbing tree days and he couldn’t quite bear to erase the thing.

Alright, so at least we got it away from our bedroom.

There is a big knot hole where one of the larger branches was taken out.

Between it and the house is where I found those chunks of dead wood.

When we bought this house, the sellers had cut down two white-fly-stricken Modesto ash trees (the third lived seven more years) leaving stumps about eight feet high. Why, we did not know–till we found we had woodpeckers nesting in the cavity just below the v-shaped top of one of them.

Richard was the first to notice it. And that the parent birds never flew directly to it; they zigzagged here and there, mostly over in the tall still-living tree next to it, before dashing into the hole at the last–where, from a respectful distance, the tall guy could put our children on his shoulders one by one to see the parents feeding their babies.

When we added on that bedroom, those stumps, very regretfully, had to go.

And now, around the corner on the other side of that room… There’s a hole gouged out that’s angled sharply down. I’m again not quite tall enough to see into it.

But there are thicknesses of leaves of the still-living tree directly above for the parent birds to catch bugs in and zigzag to their hearts’ content through.

He’s right. The tree stays. Or at least the bottom seven or eight feet of it, after nesting season is over.



Forget the knitting, hey, look! A pretty peach tree!
Sunday March 12th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The Indian Free has started blooming on the side of the tree towards Adele’s yard. I could have pruned more of those smaller branches out but everything fills out fast on that tree, it being a standard rather than a semi-dwarf, and I wanted the lower ones to grow just over the fence rather than having only the upper ones left which could end up towering high out of the neighbors’ reach. I want it to grow a lot more out than up. I’ll adjust it as it goes along.

Wildflower ground cover: oxalis.

A Cooper’s hawk landed in the middle of the fence this afternoon. There was a squirrel at either end of that fence, one standing still, one lying down, and neither seemed to know quite what to do–reminding me that the average lifespan of a squirrel in the wild is a single year. They’ll learn to be afraid of it soon enough.

The one lying down thought about it a moment and stood up with its legs stretched upwards rather like a cat, facing the hawk. It was an odd thing to do.

The hawk was not a juvenile. It was a male. Whether it was my Coopernicus who’s been around these last eight years or so I don’t know but observations will tell. The hunting pattern has definitely been different; he likely had a shoulder injury from sideswiping the window screen and learned to compensate by driving his prey into the windows to stun them. There have been very few window strikes this year–but then, I’ve mostly been seeing juvenile Coopers.

Knitting: I worked on Nash’s stocking and ripped it right back. I know how to fix a miscrossed cable, just, I didn’t do a very good job of it and rather than spend any more time fussing over it it was only four rows down so there you go. Rip.

Back to the receiving blanket.



Losing winter fast
Friday March 10th 2017, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Another warm day, and now there are 17 green figs. Getting that tree out of that big Costco pot and moved into the ground (twice–the first spot was just too close to the fence) clearly didn’t hurt it any.

You can almost watch the new mango leaves growing in. Compare this to two weeks ago, when they were barely starting. (Around the trunk: cinnamon, because the ants have taken a sudden interest.)

The Mosaic Moon Lachlan cowl will be a lot brighter once it’s dry.

Back to Nash’s stocking.



72F
Thursday March 09th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

In the side yard, nothing but dormancy yesterday.

Today, a dozen tiny green figs, and those protective brown swirls split (on the other side on this one) to show leaves inside that were already green by the end of the day.

The August Pride peach, still blooming after three weeks.

All three of the tomato varieties I planted sprouted today, two to learn about and one familiar old wonderful Sungold. And the…(where did I put it. I was going to show you) Habanero peppers with no heat, there you go. Mr. Sulu, Wimp Factor Seven, full speed ahead! (Assuming they come up, too.)

Oh, and I did some of that anticipated me-knitting: a cowl in Lachlan from Mosaic Moon, not quite that colorway but close and in that soft silky yarn. Gorgeous. I’ll show it off when it’s done.



February showers bring March flowers
Wednesday March 08th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Garden

As the two early peach trees give way to leaf we have more coming up behind.

The Baby Crawford that I planted last January after being introduced to the variety at Andy’s Orchard (*man* those are good!) Its first blossoms opened yesterday.

The Indian Free peach aimed at the neighbors across the fence, to their enthusiastic encouragement: its first blossoms opened today. Pretty good timing there.

And the darker Babcock? Sunday. And yet these will all ripen in different months.

The mango tree is growing like crazy on one side–so much so that I need to find a way to brace it: it’s starting to lean. Some pruning would help but I want to wait first to see if we’ll get more blossoms on it. It lost all of its dozens of baby mangoes in the big storm but it looks now like it’s trying to make up for it.

So much happy anticipation. So glad I planted all these.

The cherries, figs, apples, and pear: dormant for just a little longer.



So hurry up already by taking it easy
Wednesday March 01st 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit,Lupus

Randomness:

Woke up in the night aching and wondering how on earth the bed got so painfully hard–oh. It’s a fever, and oh fun, the brainstem doesn’t want me to breathe on my own (not an entire shutdown, but too close), so, an autonomic nervous system flare to go with. Same old same old, diagnosed fifteen years ago with a blood pressure reading of 63/21 during a tilt table test. Y’know, that’s the lupus symptom I like the least.

But then I did okay today and am hoping that that’s the worst of it.

Meantime, a closeup of the flowers on one side of the second peach tree, with the third, fourth, and fifth peaches soon to burst out in tandem while the honeybees next door were zooming all day around their hive near the fence like electrons around a nucleus, radiant in the sunlight.

Maybe I can get the latest purple cowl off the needles tonight–there are only a few rows’ worth of yarn left in that skein.

We have tickets for our friend Russ’s concert Saturday  that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I really need to be fine by then.



Shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me
Tuesday February 28th 2017, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

Photo: our Santa Rosa plum doing a popcorn impersonation.

Meantime, me: (suppressed grin, sheepish look on face) I think I blew it.

Him: (intrigued–okay, what’s up) You blew it?

Me: Um. Yes. (And then I spilled.) The insurance broker? They send out an email every month that’s a drawing for tickets to a game. A few times a year I hit reply, which is all you have to do to enter, and I, um, won. Got a nice note from Chris with it, since we’ve been his clients for lo these thirty years now. The Sharks game.

Him: Two tickets?

Me: (Well of course.) Yes. (Thinking, Sharks. That’s hockey, right? It is. Right? Yeah, I’ve seen the logo, it is.)

Comes with better parking and premium seats and I guess we have to go now, huh? It’s okay, I promise to only bring a small knitting project.



Meanwhile, nature just kept quietly doing its thing
Sunday February 26th 2017, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

Tomorrow, unlike today, I will get a chance to sleep in if I still need to to recover from Stitches. So glad I got to go.

I was too tired to knit but snapping a picture of the August Pride peach at its peak and the mango tree was something I could do. The latter surprised me when I finally took off all the covers today and found it had started to flush over the weekend, and I am hoping to see new buds soon.

I had had to leave one cover on all day Friday and Saturday because it was still too cold when I left for the Convention Center and would be when I got back.

Some of the buds just to the left of here were nevertheless blackened by cold (I guess one layer hadn’t been enough) and I needed those–the tree is much heavier towards the fence and is leaning a bit. It’s still staked, though, which helps; the tie in place these days is a bit of ace bandage, nice and soft and with some give to it.

There will be growing and pruning in the season ahead and it’ll all even out.

And knitting. Lots of knitting. Stitches yarn is always the best yarn because it’s what you wanted most after seeing thousands and thousands of skeins and from the dyers in person.



Spring begins
Thursday February 16th 2017, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Finished the last multicolored, multi-yarn row tonight at long last. Plain edging to go. My thanks to the elderly volunteer at the clinic who watched me work as I waited for a prescription to be filled this afternoon and told me, appreciatively, That’s a big project!

He made my day. It’s funny how much unexpected little moments like that can help.

Meantime, some peach flowers: the August Pride tree and its wide-petaled blossoms just starting to open and the Tropic Snow with its deeper pink, slightly frilly ones.

And looking at my phone, I forgot to post this! I had some of my friend Kathy‘s dog’s fur out on the patio for nest-making material and snapped this Bewick’s wren right after it gathered a beakful.

In the shape of a heart. It was on Valentine’s day. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my phone.



It’s a toss-up
Saturday February 11th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

I sure don’t think the hawk dropped them, and the squirrels only tear an occasional one apart when they’re thirsty enough–when they do, though, you know from a distance that they did.

I was putting the frost covers on the mango for the evening when I happened to glance across the yard: say what?! My lemons aren’t that color and they sure don’t fall over there (or at all, until they’ve been hanging on the tree until the next crop comes in and there are none of those right now.)

I went and looked. I’d been outside earlier and they hadn’t been there then. I picked up one, more over there, finally six, a few of them cracked open from the impact. They’d been tossed a good toss.

Oranges.

Most people plant dwarf versions in their backyards; my Meyer lemon is probably older than I am but it’s not much taller.

But someone across the corner and down a bit at the fence line had planted a now-immense citrus that goes up nearly to the top of the power pole, and right now it is loaded, and since it was planted close against the fence, at least a third if not half the crop is accessible only to the other side. Free fruit!

And on that other side is my neighbor with early dementia whom I planted my Indian Free peach for. Our fig tree will spill over into their yard, too, when it gets bigger, if they want it to.

They’ve been anticipating those peaches and I have no doubt that Adele wanted to share back. She’s always loved knocking on my door in the summer and offering us some of her tomatoes.

I sent her husband a note telling him how loved it had made me feel that she’d made sure we could enjoy some of those oranges, too, if that was her–but I also mentioned still being in recovery from a serious head injury; maybe she could roll them gently over the top of the fence next time? (Hey, I could walk over there and visit with her and give him a reprieve for a moment, too.)

Just let me offer a gentle mutiny on the bounty, I thought. In the current delivery method, it’s the thought that klonks.

I think I need to go back to wearing that helmet in the back yard again, just to be sure.



Always the first
Friday February 10th 2017, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Garden

A few days up in the 60s and nights in the 50s, nice and warm, and the Tropic Snow peach tree declares it spring.

(Meyer lemon in the background looking a little waterlogged after all this rain. Today was the tail end of one storm and yet another is coming next Thursday-Sunday.)



You’re grounded
Tuesday February 07th 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

Two years ago, there was this space, tucked between the fence and the end of the house, where I really didn’t think there would be enough sun for a fruit tree. But visually for us and in terms of not shading the other trees it would be a good spot.

We hadn’t planned on buying one for back there anyway but, hey, there it was. (I had, though, wished for one enough to ask my friend Ruth, who grows multiple types, what the best tasting is for our microclimate.) We were at the nursery way over in Santa Cruz an hour away because they were the only ones that had my English Morello sour cherry, which was going in at the opposite end of the yard, we got a Gold Nugget mandarin orange to go in near it because hey, we were there, bags of soil, yes, and then Richard heroically said to me, Is there anything else you want before we go?

It was the tail end of bare root season and everything was half off.

Seriously? Could I…?

And then his answer, as I marveled over the $10 price tag, of, Yeah, I like figs!

Coooolll…

And so I gave my impromptu new Black Jack tree an edge: I propped it up two feet sunwards by way of planting it in a giant Costco planter. That way if all else failed I could move it. I told myself the roots would be contained to help keep the tree small, but the variety I’d bought was a small one anyway.

Fifty figs its second year says it definitely gets enough sun back there. And it can reach upwards all on its own now.

Man, it felt good to see that (ugly–I confess it now) brown plastic finally kicked out of the picture and that trunk surrounded by good, rich dirt. It had earned the right to be permanently planted. No, I didn’t dare risk something that awkward, heavy, and with all the potential to smack my head on–I got some help and then stayed out of their way.



On the day the first peach bud showed the first bit of pink
Sunday February 05th 2017, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Those huge wings doing a tight u-turn right in front of the window across the patio–even I heard the whooshing air from inside, a split second after the panicked dove hit the glass. The Cooper’s coming in caught it before it could so much as fall to the ground among the elephant ears and somehow then still headed out the other way again within that same space.

A cloud of prey feathers drifted into the yard as the hawk clutched its dinner tight and away. Those will disappear quickly, and have already started to. Nests must be built and babies must be cushioned.

Judging by the peregrine falcon reports coming in, our Cooper’s should be starting to lay and brood very soon.



The osteopath
Thursday January 26th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The two black velcro ties holding my right pinky and ring finger together are officially history.

I had the baby blanket project in my lap when the quite-young doctor came in to review the new x-rays–the heavy project he’d specifically told me ten weeks ago not to work on for five weeks and then when the hand still wasn’t fully healed I think it was supposed to be just assumed that knitting would still be on hold for five more.

Yeah good luck with that one. The first five were eternity enough.

I told him of my elderly friend who had lived to see her baby tree produce, how good her pomegranates were, and that I had planted my own this morning–and I couldn’t resist adding that I’d pulled a whole lot of old gravel away down to the good soil (and had replaced a wide swath of it with more good soil.) I’d marveled that there was any possibility that this little thing could possibly come to provide the harvest Jean’s had in such a short period of time but I was willing to find out.

And clearly there was that baby blanket and it was not a small thing. He laughed and said it was pretty and added something to the effect of, clearly you’re going to do what you’re going to do. He did make sure my hand had been okay with all of that.

Well, yeah, mostly (shrug). That got a grin out of him. He made me promise to come back if there were any problems.

What I didn’t say was the careful untangling of the tightly felted roots once they were out of that plastic sleeve and the fact that I’d planted the tree three times: no, that’s not quite it (dig), that’s… umm, almost but (dig) there, third time’s the charm. That’s how I wanted it to look from over here as it grows, got it. That’s it!

There is such an element of joy to starting a creative project that will still be creating and giving of itself a hundred years from now.

I can just picture the young doctor and his wife descending on Yamagami’s after my enthusiasm: What was that variety? Parfi..? Parfianka…? Yes, that one!