They are good for that
Wednesday February 20th 2019, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Blossoms on the two earliest peach trees and freezing nights. I found some good information on what to expect that to do to them and what to look for.

I filled the second birdfeeder. The birds haven’t entirely caught on but the hawk went swooping around it again, ten feet from me. Wow.

I went to take out the trash last night and coming around the house, found myself opening the gate very very slowly and reluctantly while standing at outstretched arm’s length from the entry and I probably should have just gone back inside: skunk. Not as potent as it could be, but in that direction. Exactly where in the dark, who knows, but at least that redwood root-raised concrete that made them such a perfect den is gone now. But that’s where that gate was, and where last year’s offspring might think it could expect to set up shop. Oh. Not. But this is when they wander to mate.

And now I think I know why the rat that showed up under the birdfeeder at dusk three nights last week (the first one I’d seen in probably a year) has not come back.

And what that skunk most likely had for dinner. It hadn’t come for the birdseed.

Waiting in the window for spring
Saturday February 16th 2019, 12:03 am
Filed under: Garden

Growing inside for now with the others, critter-free. Who knew birds eat cotyledons?

This is a butternut or a zucchini–we’ll find out which are which soon enough. It is amazing how such a little plant can be such a total thrill. Look! A new leaf today! New promises to look forward to!

New food fights with squirrels!

Tree hats, people hat
Wednesday February 06th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Two frost covers, one greenhouse, two strings of incandescent Christmas lights plus a heater made it 54F this morning under the covers with the mango tree vs 29F for the outside temp. Three more mangoes have begun to turn yellow, determined to become what they were meant to be.

Meantime, Malabrigo Mecha is proving to be easier on my tendonitis to knit than that fluffy grabby red alpaca was, and I find it very encouraging. It felt good to see something brand new coming to be.

Spring jumpstart
Friday February 01st 2019, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Garden

More amaryllises! (And a hyacinth.)

Last year I went through the seed catalogs with great visions, as one does. I did plant a few tomatoes, and as a matter of fact one indestructible Sungold next to the house from the year before survived 22F winter nights–again–and is still blooming and producing merrily away. A windstorm blew it backwards two weeks ago but bit by bit it is growing towards the sun again that is likewise reaching out gradually to it.

I looked at all those unused year-old seeds though (Big Boys! Blue tomatoes!) and figured that if I started in January and nothing sprouted then I wouldn’t have lost much time. And if they did, they could be in pots for awhile inside the Sunbubble; I might as well put that heat to the most use I can, right?

Look who just showed up. Now that I’ve got an extra bag of soil so I can put it in something bigger than a used creme brûlée pot. I can’t remember if this is the zucchini or a Waltham butternut, but either way this little squash needs more legroom stat. If anything comes up in that bigger pot over there then I’ll have (at least) one of each.

Knowing that squirrels sometimes go after new sprouts, I brought it inside for the night. No munching on my seedling. This one’s mine.

Edited to add, I posted this and then looked more closely: two! Two Big Boy tomatoes came up today when I wasn’t looking!

Tiny little things.

Sending flowers, too
Wednesday January 30th 2019, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Garden

Sending oxalis flowers towards everybody hunkering down in the record cold going on across so much of the country.

The Tropic Snow peach continues to defy my efforts to get a good picture. The camera wants the lemons.


January fruit
Saturday January 26th 2019, 12:11 am
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Mango tree

Hey, DANI! This is all your fault! Thank you!

Wondering if it was ripe yet, I just barely touched it and to my great surprise it fell right off in my hand.

My first. Alphonso. Mango. Ever! Already, six hours of being inside the warm house and the fragrance has started to bloom.

Thursday January 10th 2019, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Details in the mouseovers.

What it looked like from my driveway at the start of the day. I did not know yet how much it had wrapped around the fence; I knew it was pushing through it.

That photo with lots of small trunk pieces? That’s where the tree had split into multiple weak areas at bad angles.

Around 8 a.m. the crane arrived. There was no other way to take on such a giant. I tried not to get in the way, but I did get some pictures to document the redwood’s passing. The neighbor behind us walked over, saying he could see the top of it go from his house and had come to see, too, for awhile.

Section by section it came down, and the workers on the ground would trim the branches off so it could fit in the chipper, which looked very small by comparison. When they finally got to that monster section at the bottom hours later, there was no way; another truck showed up to haul that part off and the crane lifted it in.

I asked the worker nearest me if they were going to put the lumber to good use on that one, or?

The guy’s face conveyed, “I wish,” but he said no, it would just be chippered like the rest.

I went inside for awhile and when I came back out to check on the latest, another neighbor from down the street the other way was talking to Jim next door. The truck with the bottom section was gone, and when I regretted that out loud they went no, no–and she told me that she had asked them to drop it off in front of her house. Her husband would love to work with that wood.


I have no idea how they got those huge pieces off the truck and in place–the crane hadn’t moved yet I don’t think. But they’re there now.

I’d been looking at that tree for nearly 32 years and yet the size of its footprint surprised me just the same in the end. They went at that, too, cutting away and down and through, trying to prepare it for the stump grinder people, but in the process removed this small fairly flat piece that, with the neighbors nodding yes, I took home.

If only I were a woodworker. But I couldn’t let all of it just be gone forever. Maybe I’ll get to learn something new. (Hey, I know whose door to knock on now.)

Alright, here are the highlights.

What the guy is cutting in the last picture is around where what I took home came from. 

Inadvertent favor
Saturday December 15th 2018, 12:11 am
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

I had wondered when we set up the Sunbubble if there would be water seepage under the sides during a rainstorm that would get to the mango. Nope. It was time to get the hose going inside there again.

Turns out that over my birthday it had sprouted new budding branches in five places, which is the best evidence I could have asked for that my new improved heating set-up seems to be what it had needed and means summertime fruit, when it will have real heat to make it sweet. Yay!

I also found that my long-time tree guys goofed. I’d hauled my sick self out of bed yesterday morning (thankfully not too early) because months earlier I’d contracted for them to winter-prune some of my fruit trees so that I wouldn’t have to worry about branches falling at my head while doing it myself. Twelve concussions is enough. The pear, which is tall and thin and really isn’t much yet, the big peach (the Indian Free) and the sprawling 25+ year-old Fuji apple.

That pear is going to grow a lot in the coming year now that we cut away so much that was shading it when we were making the insurance company happy. I need to set a good foundation for that.

Chris called the day before to confirm and I couldn’t stop coughing. Which may well be why when the crew came yesterday the one guy who approached stood well and I mean well back from the door and I couldn’t hear a word he said and didn’t want to breathe on him so I just said you’re here to trim my trees? Apple peach pear? Great, thank you! and left them to it.

I was too tired to go look afterwards. Chris always follows up with a walk-through, but I did not hear the doorbell. Not with my stuffed ears. That’s fine, I didn’t want to infect him, either.

Today I was up to walking around. Even did my treadmill time tonight (slowly. Very slowly. But it felt great to.)

They’d trimmed the Fuji apple, the Indian Free peach–and the Santa Rosa plum. The three biggest trees, planted in a triangle. Made perfect sense. The pear over yonder needed maybe a dozen snips at most and quite honestly made no sense to call them in for other than as a one minute add-on, while the ten-year-old plum was a project.

I know Chris had mapped out what was where for them.

If I call and tell them then they’ll have to come back for just such a waste of their time and they really did me quite the favor. I was trying to keep the cost of the job down and figured the plum was mostly at a height I didn’t have to worry about.

My lingering achiness is really quite delighted that I don’t have to handle pruning materials for very long at all now. What’s left to do is, thanks to them, a piece of birthday cake.

Postscript: I couldn’t find the original email with the contract in it before I wrote this, but I just found the saved document: okay, so Chris did put the plum on the list in August, then. Alright, that makes more sense.

Kishu tree for my milestone
Thursday December 13th 2018, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

My sweet husband. He’s a very kind man.

They’d been sold out the last several years whenever I looked, and Four Winds is the only grower I know of allowed to ship citrus here: we don’t have the devastating greening disease (Huonglongbing) yet in northern California, and they’ve moved their citrus growing inside with air blowing unwanted insects away at the doors to try to avoid it.

Kishu mandarins are tiny little things that are not sold commercially. You have to know someone who has a tree. The skins just fall right off, there are no seeds, and after seeing them demonstrated there is so little fiber to them that even I should be able to eat them easily. Just pop a small round packet of sweet juice into your mouth and that’s about it.

I first saw them in planters outside a restaurant a few years ago and wondered, what *is* that? How have I never heard of this? And so I went looking. There were none to be found, not from them and not from any retailer within a hundred miles when I settled for the Gold Nugget mandarin that I bought in Santa Cruz, whose birdnetted first squirrel-free fruits are turning orange now. And those will be good. Post-colectomy and all that, I’ll probably have to juice mine.

But normal tasty food eaten a normal way. Richard gets what that means to me.

I looked again a few days ago, just out of sheer curiosity. Four Winds had Kishus! And not only that, when he saw my enthusiasm my patient husband backed me up on it.

It came on my birthday today, four years to the day after the mango did.

This is how you properly celebrate flipping over the tens column. With enthusiasm over the growth and caretaking and offerings to come.

Still undecided and neither side’s conceding
Wednesday November 07th 2018, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Garden

The leaves producing food for it vs the tree producing food for us: it’s a race. There’s one last fig.

Crisp and sweet
Wednesday October 31st 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life

Just for this afternoon, I needed a project I didn’t have to pay attention to for the doctor’s office and I was fresh out. (Routine appointment, no worries.) Grabbed some violet merino/cashmere/silk Diamante I’d had Colourmart six-ply for me and cast on an hour beforehand and got enough done that you could tell what the pattern was going to be (and so it would be long enough that the curling bottom wouldn’t bug me–blocking will fix that later.)

I found myself sitting next to a fellow grandmother and knitter, a woman from India who loved watching my hands work as we delighted in each other. She was a treasure.

The doctor was the ENT whose love for taking care of his fruit trees had triggered my planting mine, and look where it got me now. Enthusiasm is contagious that way.

So I brought him a gift in a small Penzey’s box: one perfectly ripe, slightly funky-shaped rather small apple that had grown to fit the produce clamshell that had been squirrel-proofing it. I told him it was my final Fuji of the season.

He laughed in wonder, saying he’d picked his last Fuji in August!

Microclimates R Us, I guess.

It smelled perfect. I hope it was. There had been two, and we can tell you that the other had made it clear how good they were now.

Saturday October 20th 2018, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

How hard is it to find a thing that works.

Plenty, turns out.

I spent several hours today researching and looking and trying to find a good heater for a small greenhouse. All I could find was cheap Chinese knock-offs that looked like the old tried and true but had dismal, awful reviews. Whatever happened to the ones built to last? To even work?

It finally hit me: Sears used to make good tools for the working man. You didn’t want to freeze in that garage with the door open to the world while you worked on that car.

And so I tried them, knowing full well their vulture capitalist CEO is trying to kill the company as fast as he can for what he can skim off the top and he’s certainly not putting any money into improving product lines.

Lo and behold. One color left: bright red. I can handle that. Stellar reviews. Hey. Happy reviews. One said, I tried all those others but this one actually works and actually keeps working.

So it will be my wistful wave good-bye to what once was, both Sears and decent appliance manufacturing standards, and it is on its way. Wish me luck.

All by way of saying, I’m going to have to let Eli gently down and tell him that (hopefully) I’m not going to be needing him to cover and uncover the mango tree when I’m out of town anymore: my husband told me he thought I should order that Sunbubble greenhouse and a good heater and not to have to worry about being here at the right time every single morning and night, flu or not.

Get the big one, he said. You know it’ll grow into it.

I finally let myself feel just how freeing that will be. The tree can just…quietly, on its own…do its own thing.

Christmas is coming early.

My husband’s the best.

Don’t read this at bedtime
Friday October 19th 2018, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

The little sugar ants love the sweet-selling mango blossoms. Individually, they’re kind of their size. It’s a toss-up whether trying to pick them off damages more of the fragile things than they do–but sprinkle some cinnamon on them and they fall right out of the tree.

Which has cut down on their numbers, but still, just about every day right now I’m out there taking care of a few more. Get the scouts to keep the hordes from ascending.

There were floral clusters in nine places now, the biggest at the top where there’s the most sun, smaller and newer ones below. I checked those out to be sure.

And had an impulse, as I walked back in the door, to check my hair to make sure I hadn’t picked one of those up while looking through the branches. Yeah, no, I’ve checked before and there never is–quit being bug-phobic.

A few minutes later Richard had no idea what I was shrieking about but he did what I said and instantly went running and came back with a fistful of eye drops. I couldn’t see. There was this left arm over my face and I wasn’t about to move it.

Just one? Take the lid off for me? I was desperate.

Then, You want another?

Please yes.

It had fallen out of my hair onto my eyelashes and tumbled straight into… I’d suddenly had an ant walking across my eyeball. When I instantly closed my eye it was literally six feet, under.

(This got me to go look it up: ants have not just stickiness but claws at the end of each of their legs. Oh joy.)

I promise you next time I will check my hair. Promise.

The big one, so it can grow
Monday October 15th 2018, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Garden

It would be a chunk, but maybe it’s time. I looked at these mango-tree-shaped plastic greenhouses last year but they were brand new with zero reviews and I wanted them to have a little more history first. Now they do. I do like the idea that even I could set one of those up fast–and I could take it down in spring and summer.

I’d have to get a different heating system that could handle the space, though (while not damaging that plastic.) But the tree wouldn’t need the daily babysitting, if this could work, and it would get every bit of morning sun to help ripen its fruit.

Anyone with any experience with such things, greenhouses, heaters, please let me know.

Grab motivation wherever you can find it
Tuesday August 21st 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Huh. It worked this time. Those clay flower pots seem to have done their job.

This was green yesterday. Another ten hours of ripening and I’m looking forward to picking this for breakfast. (While trying not to hope too hard.) Really, I should leave it a day past that but we’ve seen how that works out.

Meantime, twice today a squirrel took a sniff in the direction of the mango tree and then a step or two towards the side of it where the new mangoes are growing; up till now, they’ve taken a comically wide swing around to avoid the smell of the tree. The latex in the sap, I’ve been told.

But this was something different and it looked like maybe it could eat those and it wanted to know.

Cinnamon and foot stomping and at least this tree I can see from the front of the house.

I have another large white netting cover ready. It cinches at the bottom. I’m just not sure yet that works with the Christmas lights.

Meantime, I tripped uphill this evening and landed on my hands and decided that if they were going to feel sprained or sore in the morning I’d better get lots knit now while I could, and did for nearly two hours and the baby blanket said thank you. (I think I’ll be peachy fine but I’ve got the icepacking going just to be sure.)