Springing up
Saturday March 18th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

You wait and wait and wait and then it all starts at once.

The fig tree sprouted not only leaves but six breba figs on its first day awake today: they are the spring fruit that precede the main August crop. I got one last year. Whether it’s the tree getting older or all the rain, it just delights me beyond reason that we won’t have to wait so long to taste a ripe fig again.

And then another Anya apricot went from this morning’s will it or won’t it sprout to–look at that! That makes three good ones and one dying out of 16 planted, but they’re not done yet. (Picture of three week old one, 3.5″ tall/4″ across as gauge swatch.)

The one whose first leaves snagged in the kernel coating got some of its relentlessly tiny true leaves blown off in the windstorm a few days ago before I snatched it inside, too late. That did it. It’s toast. So to see this new one coming up so green and so fast was a relief; I have local friends hoping for a seedling but I have to make sure they’ll grow first and at half a day old these leaves are as big as that other one’s ever were. Yay!

And hey, Afton? We finally finally started that batch of chocolate. Esmeraldas from Ecuador. Dandelion definitely does it better than I do but hey. Basically, I woke up grumpy after a long insomniac night and then figured out the best way to make it better to everybody.

Homemade chocolate is where bad tempering is okay just the same.

Between a rock and a wet place
Monday March 13th 2023, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Life

The phone rang at dinnertime.

It was a reverse-911 call from the county warning of the incoming storm and pleading for residents to stay home and stay put if you’re not in an evacuation zone. And don’t drive through water in the roadway!

We are staying home and staying put. It’s supposed to start pouring any minute, strong winds, the works, and then another atmospheric river is expected next week. You know the “Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry” line? The levy wishes. They are dropping boulders from helicopters at this point to be able to reach it.

And yet all was quiet here so far. So I took a moment to photograph the biggest Anya seedling: I love its formation, it’s such an elegant little bundle of hope, and its leaves have really grown. It just makes me so happy.

There was enough air movement to twirl its skirts a little.

The flowering pear is at that glorious moment of full bloom mixed with the incoming leaves; it had waited all winter for this.

The start of the storm keeps being pushed back–11:00 pm, they think now. Edit, nope, 1:00 am.

That pear tree was a staked newly planted whip when we moved here. Hey, little apricot? You’ve got this.

Petal power
Sunday March 12th 2023, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Politics

One of the companies affected by the bank failure: Etsy. 95 million buyers, 7.5 million sellers, per the Washington Post. The Feds have declared that tomorrow all depositors are to have access to their funds after all, at no cost to taxpayers. Such a relief.

And to change the subject: the one peach that needs a pollinator is going to do just fine this year, rain willing. I love how similar and yet how different the flowers are. The Indian Free, with the darker pink interior, produces peaches with a dark red center.

Colourmart.com’s silk ribbon leaped onto my needles.

Look at the flip side
Thursday March 09th 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Four peach trees just starting to burst into bloom in sync with each other, which never happens. Just as the deluge begins. Hey honeybees, work fast for me, willya?

So, confronted with a bag of thawed cranberries from Michelle’s freezer, I reacted as one does: I baked. I used her Miyoki cultured vegan butter and skipped the baking soda in the recipe, although it probably is the one thing that needed it if anything does but given my antipathy to it nothing does, so, anyway, so I did that. I squeezed out nearly a quarter cup of Meyer lemon juice (glad to pick and use up two off that tree, so many dozens more to go) and shorted the unsweetened oat milk accordingly. (The dairy allergy thing.) I added a tablespoon of Penzey’s powdered lemon peel rather than grating the ones off the tree because Meyers may have the best lemon juice but the white pith is very bitter.

That’s my excuse for that laziness.

So those were the changes I made to the cranberry lemon cake recipe. I made 24 cupcakes out of it. 350F, 25 minutes was just right, and that brown sugar on the bottom and cranberries on top of it was heavenly.

I can only imagine how much better with real butter and buttermilk these could be, but they were very good as is and that time will come all too soon. It’s great to have her home.



Hunkering down
Wednesday March 08th 2023, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

Massive rain is coming, with tomorrow alone expected to be 10% of a normal annual amount (we’re already at over twice that total.) So after a quick visit with Richard’s sister who’s in town to fill in on some childcare, he and I ran to Michelle’s apartment and between the three of us got it very nearly empty tonight.

The first of the Anya apricot seedlings, at 16 days old in this morning’s bright sun. Soak it in while you can, little one.


If you squint
Tuesday February 28th 2023, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

But isn’t that like the chick hatching out of the egg? he asked me yesterday.

I dunno but I did it anyway, but no, I think it’s fine.

The one in the lower foreground? Half an initial leaf was caught on one side of the skin of the kernel, which hadn’t quite broken open all the way down as the seed had expanded, and half was caught tight wrapped into the opposite side, and it had stayed like that for two days. It needed to get up out of that inadvertent shade into the sunlight so it could grow.

So I got my smallest sewing needle and pierced that brown covering open, taking a tiny speck of greened kernel with it while setting it free. Oops.

Within an hour you could see that tiny hint of a plant recovering, and today it’s playing catch up to its week-old sibling.

And the one in the middle. The one that had sprouted into gale-force winds, noped out and turned brown and stopped growing? I called its bluff. It was still alive. And now (click to embiggen) it’s grown leaves and is coming around, too.  To life!

Three up, five to go from that batch.

Meantime, knitting happened. Bison/silk 50/50, bought from Ron and Theresa at thebuffalowoolco.com before they found themselves no longer a yarn dyeing company but a bison sock company.

Their best are the bison/silk ones.



Go play springtime for me, willya?
Saturday February 25th 2023, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Garden

Here’s the apricot that sprouted Monday despite the cold.

Tuesday, there was this second one that was about to uncurl and stretch upwards.

I had the tray out in the sunlight, but also during that ferocious windstorm. The new growth filled out a little more but stopped growing upwards. No green. The next day it started turning brown. But, but, I didn’t want it to! I haven’t entirely given up on it yet. Cue Star Trek’s McCoy: “He’s dead, Jim.”

Prove it, buddy.

I’ll give it a few more days.

Meantime, when I brought the tray inside a little over three hours ago this third one had the tiniest wispiest colorless fragment of what might have been nothing at all, really; I wasn’t sure there was any there there.

And now there is, and it’s even got some green to it.

Maybe I’ll cut up the coir tray and keep that one inside under the skylight for its first full day of coming up.

Planted Feb. 6
Monday February 20th 2023, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Garden

Oh no I forgot! I dashed for the back door, hoping it hadn’t gotten too cold yet for the night. I try to find that balance between warmth inside and the sun that keeps the kernels from molding during their long wait.

And then found myself exclaiming softly in surprise, YAY!!!

There was no sign of sprouting this morning. All of this came up while I was busy doing other things: just nature, going about its day, too, bringing life into life. You offer potential and hopes to dirt and sun and the glory comes to itself, as old as the planet, as new as the day.

The Anya apricot offspring grow so wildly differently but clearly this is going to be one of the tall vigorous ones.

I’ve got a couple of friends here waiting for one. It took exactly two weeks from planting. My first batch in 2020 took three months and had two survivors, mine and Ruth and Lise’s; I’ve learned a bit these past three years.

This is just the most happy-making thing! Go. Plant a seed. Tomato, apricot kernel, butternut squash, anything, don’t worry about the other seeds in the packet, just get one going. It’s worth it.

Well maybe not brussels sprouts so much. But you know what I mean.

One way to get a project done
Saturday February 18th 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Mango tree

With all the microclimates around here, no matter what the weather sites say, after a really cold night you wait for the frost on the awning roof to start dripping down before you uncover the mango tree in the morning. That, and, somehow I just didn’t want to go out there this morning. But it had to be done. Be careful.

The top frost layer still had a bit of crispy crunchy glittery to it and I could feel the last ice crystals breaking as I pulled it off the lower layer.

Which was dry and felt cool rather than cold. Those old incandescent Christmas lights underneath are still doing their job.

But the top layer was heavy with liquid in whatever form, and I was putting my whole body into dragging it away from the mango to where it could dry out.

Which is why (and I know better, I’ve done this before) I was at the wrong angle with arms and legs opposite the direction I was leaning in when my foot caught a dip in the ground.

As I told Richard, my instant thought was Don’tfalldon’tfalldon’tfall as I tried to right myself in time.

And then you fell, he said, reasonably.

My back bounced off that vertical piece of the raised bed. But it wasn’t my head!

Ice. Immediately.

He was right, and I did, and I was a lot better off for it.


After dinner I said, I don’t see how I could have broken it.

Is the pain more localized now? he asked.

I wiggled my foot a bit. Actually, no, more diffuse, which makes more sense anyway because it was a twist not a smack.

Broken bones localize.

Yeah. Um, yay.

I found my old ankle brace but it’s still tough getting around. Elevate. Which means the UFO 1×1-stitch-switching intarsia hat that is a joy to give but a pain to make is now almost done. Yay!

Looks like four more nights of frost warnings coming up and then hopefully we’ll be done with that till, I dunno, maybe Thanksgiving?

New kids in the blocks
Wednesday February 15th 2023, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden

Promises, promises….

If anyone else wants to try their hand at sprouting some seeds from some super-good super-rare Anya apricot kernels this year, I have a few still hibernating in the fridge to share.

Apricot roots are finicky and commercially they’re typically grafted onto peach rootstock, but I don’t yet know how nor have I tried; so far, it’s survive or die and some have grown really well. Some, not so much.

I’m waiting for my baby trees to show me how they did after the three weeks we had of steady rain and I’m really hoping to pick my first apricots this year (and the critters will NOT chocolate box them!) But we’ll see.

Spring fever
Friday February 10th 2023, 11:50 am
Filed under: Garden

The August Pride peach, while the Baby Crawford next to it is trying to play catch up.

Have a little spring
Monday February 06th 2023, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The first peach flowers of spring, determined to defy the past week’s night freezes.

Meantime, I had been wondering about our holly bush.

Till I saw something I’d never seen in all these years–but then there used to be a huge toyon bush next door just covered in winter in orange berries that were clearly their favorite. But it’s gone now.

It was the robins. With all the upper berries gone and no good place to settle and perch from down below, three of them were diving at the holly bush (carefully!) to get at the last. (So that’s where they all went!)

I looked it up to make sure I wasn’t poisoning them the way heavenly bamboo/nandina’s berries do, but nope, holly’s part of their natural, native diet. Cool. They just prefer the toyons–or perhaps being in a wintertime flock the size it could support.

They had to settle for my holly now. All the more robin sightings for me.

The night is young
Sunday January 08th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Well, that’s a no-frills pruning job. (Listening to the gusts of water coming down.)

Sungold, Black Krim, Mortage Lifter
Monday January 02nd 2023, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

So the neighborhood didn’t blow up. Suddenly that last tomato variety’s name up there has a different twinge to it… Thank you, firefighters.

The blue lines in the forecast continue: 5.95″ still to come between now and next Wednesday and it looks like it’ll keep going after that. This Wednesday and next Monday look to be like the big day we just had. Stay home.

Shasta, the biggest reservoir, is still only at 57% of normal and 34% full. Etc. But day by day we’re getting there.

As it was pouring down today, I opened my new Burpee catalog–now that it’s had a few days to dry out so you can turn the pages, and then I ordered visions of Spring.

I always think I should plant marigolds to protect my tomatoes from the squirrels, since they hate the smell of them, but I never do. With our overhangs, I don’t have bright window space for much and then it always feels like too late for a round two of starts.

20% off? (Enter code BSC23 till 6/30/23) A new color variant that I like? Strawberry Blonde. I ordered the plants, which I never have before, and I don’t care how small the marigold seedlings turn out to be when they get here: they’ll be actual plants, not wishes. This year those tomatoes are mine!

And I bought sunflower seeds. Their new Creme Brûlée. I mean, sunflowers this year of all years, yes, not to mention that with a name and look like that how could one not. Slightly burnt-looking stamens on the back catalog cover, reminiscent of what the Ukrainians have endured, but deeply satisfying to the eye, the heart, the birds: gorgeous flowers, absolutely gorgeous.

And, yes, the squirrels will be thrilled. Let’s see if I can get them to grow on the far side of the house from the rest.


Update: I just got a notification that a major tree is down and blocking one of the more problematical creeks. That’s an emergency, and the mayor of the next town (not sure if it fell to or from their side) is on it.

In a warm house
Tuesday November 15th 2022, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift

If I do a full repeat every day, I’ve been telling myself, I’ll have it done before the wedding.

Fully aware that if they do come to their cousin’s wedding, too, their luggage will be weighed down with baby gear while they’ll be wrangling a one-year-old and the last thing they’ll need is to have to stuff a whole blanket in. I should ship it.

But one takes the motivation and the deadline one has. So far, they know nothing about it.

I was pretty proud of myself for how much I’ve gotten done the last four days–it just had to get past that point where the bottom curls up against your hands like a toddler grabbing your legs and whining when you know all they need is a meal and a nap.

Today I did the most of all. Momentum and all that. I finally decided, okay, give the hands a break, put it down, you want to be able to do this tomorrow. Pace it.

That was when I looked to my left and saw what had been quietly waiting all day for me to notice. I don’t know how many times I’d walked right past it.

I had moved the bag just yesterday and there were a bunch of I thought roots: y’know, I really need to plant those…

That’s no root. All that (matching lavender!) color happened today. I almost missed it. I almost missed discovering how divine saffron crocus flowers smell.

I will need to remove those bulbs very carefully from that bag.

Tomorrow. It’s way too cold out there right now.