There are fewer squirrels, too
Tuesday June 19th 2018, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

An idle wondering followed by an inner, oh, come on, now. Yeah they never found those, but give me a break. Those animals are born to wander and wander they do: they’re long gone.

The peaches, look at those peaches. I hadn’t thinned them anywhere near what they should have been (though I did some) but I’d figured the critters would take care of that and they weren’t likely to leave me much anyway, right?

A very few have been nibbled on. The rest are–well, there they are.

Oh wow, that was almost a year ago. Okay, so I really had no reason to connect it with my untouched fruit. Even if the mountain lion and her cub growling in that guy’s redwood across town were never seen again. He was someone who’d tagged mountain lions in his job and said he’d seen people walk right by a bush one was hiding in and they never knew it–that generally they’re really quite shy around people.

Well that’s comforting.

The neighborhood listserv was talking about the county saying it was a coyote that had gotten someone’s cat and someone else chimed in that she’d seen a mountain lion in her back yard two weeks ago at (wait–that’s close to us!) and another (probably the same one) had been seen over on this street.

Blink.

Well the problem with our well-fed urban raccoons and possums and skunks was that they had no predators around but lots of food to choose from.

Apparently now so does a very big cat.

You know, I have this weekly chore of watering all the fruit trees starting after dinner and continuing till dark, seven minutes per tree seventeen trees, going in and out repeatedly, and I did that tonight.

But I confess to being a little skittish standing under the bigger older ones as the light was almost gone. At least I had a hose in hand. Part of the time.

Maybe we’ll finally get around to installing them a drip system.



You put dead-looking sticks in the cold ground and just a few years later they do this
Tuesday June 12th 2018, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Lots of June sun, a few hot days–and suddenly everything’s rushing to ripeness.

Even the mango tree has decided to try again for a crop this year.

Judging by how much time the birds spend not coming to the feeder, I’m guessing the hawks in the redwood are a big reason why my fruit has been pretty much left alone. The cinnamon I sprinkled on top of the fence near the peaches didn’t hurt any, either; a squirrel will not step in it, not if it can help it.



Pie in the sky
Wednesday May 09th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden

Sour cherries on my young English Morello tree, abundant in number for the first time.



Such cute little plants
Friday May 04th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

I succumbed, November or December or thereabouts, to the glowing description in I think it was a Burpee’s catalog of perfect springtime strawberries, while reminiscing about the early June mornings when my folks would take us kids to a pick-your-own farm, bringing home stacks of boxes of just-pickeds.  The jams and puree we would process for the year to come. How intensely strawberry the car smelled and then the house did, for days. How good those berries tasted warm and straight from the sun, so far removed from the puncture-proof stuff in the grocery stores.

Well, those were cute little plants in that box. I’d forgotten they were coming. I figured either the winter or I would kill them in no time; the people who grow strawberries always seem to be passionate about them and I just wasn’t. I didn’t dare be. I was still waiting for my raspberries to do anything in their pot, planted there to contain the prickly canes from taking over the world. Raspberries can be a ton of stabby work if their roots are allowed to ramble.

And yet on their third year they still sulked in that pot, a few leaves and, eh. So I figured I just wasn’t much at container gardening.

And yet those three baby plants decided to be a second opinion. Strawberries! I quickly put one of the bird netting tents over the pot, and so far, so good. I have conditioned my critters not to believe there could be anything of interest in those Costco pots. Heck, I conditioned *me.*

Having been totally shown up by the newcomer, the baba raspberry is suddenly about to burst into bloom for the first time. It’s still small but maybe it can be mighty after all, too, in taste if not in quantity quite yet.

I hope. I’ve only got a catalog description to go by so far.



Turning a twirl into a sun dance
Wednesday May 02nd 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Garden,Life

One may have noticed: I like amaryllises. I collect amaryllises of every kind. Pictures taken today.

Mine bloom year after year, sometimes skipping years but at this point I have so many bulbs that who would notice? Our climate isn’t warm enough to plant them in the ground so they stay in pots under the translucent patio awning, surrounded by the warmth of the house on two sides. They like shade. Warmth makes them happy. They like this spot.

Occasionally you lose one to age or winter temps or whatever. How to tell for sure: if you touch a dormant bulb and it crumples between your fingers into nothingness, it’s gone. If it holds solid at the center, no matter how many crisped outer layers there are, there’s still life in there–it just needs to be cared for and given a chance.

So this one bulb was shriveled and shrunken but just solid enough that it wasn’t tossed but it wasn’t coming out of dormancy either. Maybe it just really wanted any hint of winter to be over first. At some point on that crowded picnic table a thriving amaryllis got put on top of its pot and it was forgotten.

The turning of the season, the leakage from the one above being watered must have been enough. The fact that we were gone for five days means the changes snuck past unnoticed.

I caught a glimpse of red today at pot level and went, wait, what? I stepped outside and lifted off the one I hadn’t even noticed was sitting on top. When did I do that?

And there, underneath, was a stalk curling tightly around in a half circle against the inside rim of that lower pot with a big bright half-flower trying mightily to open up, resting on the edge. There was a leaf, too, one which had gotten no sun and yet was trying to grow out from underneath its burden.

This picture was taken ten hours’ worth of sunlight later: the stalk has risen mightily, the first blossom is fully open and the second is getting there and there is even already some green in that stalk and (you can’t see it) its leaf. Sky and light!

But before it was discovered, the only energy available to it to grow and thrive with came from what it had within it.

And in the end, that was enough to make the rest work out so that it could share what it was meant to be with the world.

Isn’t that just the most gorgeous shade of red?



The back 40 (inches tall)
Monday April 23rd 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Garden

From this three years ago, a new whip trying to leaf out again after being stripped bare every night for two months by Japanese beetles, to now. It survived when I thought it might not and this year it is finally really showing us what it’s meant to be.

And just wait till those cherries start appearing!

Rereading that old post, though, I’m quite amazed that that tree is on a standard rootstock–I thought it was an ultradwarf like the sweet cherry. I mean, it certainly grows like one! Slowly. Huh. While the other one, which is a little older (but has to reach a little more for its sun), is at seven feet. Go figure.

The honeybees were happily and peaceably buzzing in the flowers. There’s at least one on the left in the close-up, down in the petals.



You just get them started and then they take on a life of their own
Saturday April 21st 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Plums and peaches. It still amazes me, this whole concept of putting a dead-looking stick in the ground in the winter and a few years later having a nice-looking tree offering the best-tasting fruit.

Newly finished: a cowl in garnet Dona superwash extrafine merino that I expect will find its way home tomorrow. What I once did not know is, each little diamond contains the growth pattern of a pear tree.



While the hawk flew by
Thursday April 19th 2018, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Done and drying: I do like that Anniversario colorway.

As the English Morello tree holds up a sign to the honeybee highway: Will Bloom For Cherries.

 



Stilettos
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 12:14 am
Filed under: Garden,Life

This is the time of year when the weeds go to seed here. They come up in January before the grass (which still tries) and choke it out, then dry up when the rains stop.

Except, the rains haven’t stopped, so they are really going to town. Pretty little purple flowers were starting to carpet half the back yard. Charming–if you don’t know.

A friend responded to a tree company’s offer of “free mulch!” and found himself with an entire truckload dumped on his driveway. After several weeks of hard labor trying to get it to his back yard and spread around with his little kids sort-of-helping, he finally cried uncle and begged the teenagers at church to rescue him. They came, and some of their parents, and got it done.

There’s no way I was going to do that to them or me.

In a moment of desperate inspiration, then, the light bulb went off. I have all those frost covers.

I spread them out across almost the entire infested area. I came close. I held the edges down with anything I could find. I should have done this way sooner but I thought of it when I thought of it.

Well, that’ll look pretty to all those airplanes flying up there.

I kept them in place for a week. Sorry, bees, but hey, the cherry and lemon trees are blooming.

My lawn mowing guy was coming today so I gathered the covers up last night, curious to see the result.

You could tell exactly where they’d been: there were short weeds and there were tall weeds, in squares. They’d suddenly put all their energy into trying to outgrow this barrier to their sun and energy. The covers didn’t black it out–they were designed not to–but laid out flat rather than tucked around, there was a double layer everywhere.

I saw just a few clusters of stiletto-sharps.

I was very pleased with myself. It made it worth putting up with a frankly ugly view out there during the experiment.

And then tonight I went to go put a frost cover on the mango.

Oh.

What stabby seeds there were had been velcroed onto the covers. Well, that works, too, I guess.

(On the phone over an hour now with Turbo Tax, trying to figure why our returns appear not to have been transmitted by them last week. Fun times. Glad I asked why there had been no confirmation.)



Spring leaves, once the stitches were flattened out
Saturday April 14th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(It’s greener than this. Photo taken before blocking.)

I would have preferred to have used just the Arroyo dk weight but that would have taken more hours than I had left–so when I found two half-ball remnants of fir-green mink laceweight that matched it and that would smooth out the other’s color changes, I grabbed my size 7s and cast on.

A day later, it’s done. If it’s still damp in the morning it’ll get hairdryered.
Meantime, the still-squirrel-free Stella cherry and the Yellow Transparent apple trees.

A honeybee was happily climbing in and out of those apple flowers.

Tiny baby peaches had shown up overnight on the Indian Free and I thanked those bees for keeping close tabs on the place.



Plus the spiky plants on the left
Saturday April 07th 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Stella sweet cherry blossoms. Squirrel free. We are finally actually there.

(Not shown: bird spikes on various branches and collapsed, old and broken but clearly still useful bird netting tents around the trunk of the tree, making it so the critters have nowhere to scramble down to and no way to leap across from the fence without risking being porcupined. A little cinnamon dusting for extra effect, and I have finally stopped them from chewing off the flowers.)



A son of goodly parents
Saturday March 31st 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Not a single squirrel so much as ran down that fence line, as far as I saw today. Several times they came down the side fence, stopped, sniffed in the direction of the cherry tree–nuh UH, and turned the other way and disappeared into the yard behind instead. Two new cherry flowers today and they were left alone. Unsweetened grape Kool-aid solution for the win!

The blueberries might need some of that soon.

And over at the needles, beaded silk. It’s Conference weekend, and two two-hour online sessions of watching the leaders of the Mormon Church helped get a lot of knitting done, with an occasional glance over at squirrel antics.

The stunner/not-surprised-in-hindsight was the announcement that someone who grew up in our ward, whose family we know well, was called to be one of the twelve apostles. I cannot think of a better man in every way that they could have asked to represent and offer Christ’s love and compassion to the world. I’m so glad his 91-year-old mom got to live to see the day.

There are two more sessions tomorrow, starting at 9 am and 1 pm Pacific time.  Wishing a joyful Easter to all who celebrate it and every good thing to all.



Well at least it reminded me to prepare
Friday March 30th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

I was looking forward to seeing the fully-open flowers in the morning.

When I got up there was no sign they’d ever been there.

I checked around the ground for snails and cut back some of the ground cover too close to the tree that they could have climbed over from.

As the day went on some new flowers showed white at the top of the tree and I was looking forward to the sun getting lower so that I could go out there and get a closer look.

What I got to see instead was a squirrel this afternoon hanging upside down from the very top of that branch, the very top of the tree, snarfing my flowers. My flowers! There would be no cherries up there, either.

This is how I learned that yes, you can run halfway across the yard with the handset in hand snarling at squirrels in the middle of a conversation with your parents, who are suddenly quite confused as to how the conversation took *that* turn, and not have the line drop out on you.

One very surprised squirrel scrambled out of there at top speed.

I explained what all that had been about.

Meantime, yonder squirrel (or its double) after awhile came slowly back along the top of the fence to within leaping range but stepped no farther. It looked at me from across the yard and through the window. I gave it The Look. It hung its head. It looked at me. I was still giving it The Look.

It gave up and slunk away.

After the phone call was done I went out there with my forgotten-till-now spray bottle of *grape Kool-aid, still good from last year. I was going to make those buds not tasty and not wanted. ZAP. Away with you!

Those were the very first Stella cherry blossoms of the year and thankfully there are a lot more coming.

—–

*Wikipedia: “Methyl anthranilate acts as a bird repellent. It is food-grade and can be used to protect corn, sunflowers, rice, fruit, and golf courses. Dimethyl anthranilate (DMA) has a similar effect. It is also used for the flavor of grape KoolAid.” Let me add, and squirrels think it’s nasty stuff, too. They might actually have a point, but hey.



It sparkles!
Monday March 26th 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Figs!

The woman at Stitches who’d beaded her yarns herself, when I told her I loved that her glass beads were so small, told me that they kind of had to be or they’d run together in the strand.

Knowing she wasn’t going to be selling me any more (not online anyway) till her show season was over, I went looking for what I could find. I bought some beaded silk yarn from this lady and in talking to her, found out she had some in black, too, and in a bit of a leap of faith ordered a skein of that as well.

I’m so glad I did.

The beads on these are a bit bigger (but not big) and heavier and do tend to come in the occasional clump. Alright then. I just take them as they come and keep on going–part of the pattern of the thing, I figure, and it’s coming out soft and sparkly and absolutely gorgeous. Altogether the most perfect thing I could have found for the person I’m knitting it for.



Peachy
Friday March 23rd 2018, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Garden

Thought I’d share a few new peach blossoms for those of you whose winter seems endless this year. (If you ever want instant gratification followed by a lot of pruning work, buy a fruit tree with standard-height rootstock: that Indian Free just turned two.)

Here, let me walk a little closer.