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!



Al would have loved this
Wednesday January 25th 2017, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

(Photo added in the morning after a little more work.)

Where a gravel pathway was laid down, oh, 50 years ago or so, the rocks run deep.

And then there was that tree trunk. When we cut down a bunch of scraggly trees and started relandscaping a few years ago I had the tree service leave this one tall stump at over six feet–I wanted the Ladder-Backed woodpeckers to be able to have old dead wood to find bugs in.

I never saw a woodpecker touch it but the squirrels sure liked their express lane offramp from the fence. Various birds liked to play king of the mountain on it to scope out the view of their feeder.

About a month ago I kind of toggled the thing a little, thinking it should be well rotted by now and better to take it down than to have it fall.

It held solid.

I’ve wanted a pomegranate tree ever since our friend Jean shared from her two-year-old one last year. She had planted it at 88 and gotten to share the fruit. I had never before tasted one picked when it was so ripe that the thing had started to burst open; I know it partly depends on variety (she didn’t remember what hers was) but I’d had no idea they could be like this. If we were going to start our own, this is bare-root season.

Yesterday I worked down through all that gravel–it went to nearly a foot–and started turning over bare soil below at last.

And asked Richard when he got home what he thought about that placement.

Well, if I liked it. He personally would have preferred it further back…

Your house too. It needs to make you happy, too. I reminded him that I’ve wished I’d planted the Tropic Snow peach a few feet further right and it was too late now and I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to do it right this time.

Today I went off to Yamagami’s. The Parfianka is a taste-test favorite and has seeds that are both quite small and quite soft–meaning, okay for me post-op, and it helped that one of their staff had previously told me it was his favorite.

When they saw me with my walker, one of them dropped what she was doing and took me right to where that particular variety pomegranate was, and then, seeing that it would be hard for me to do, she not only pointed out good specimens but reached to the back and pulled several out from there as well as the front and put them down on the ground in a row for me to choose from where I could see them all individually. She helped me get a really nice one, and had I been on my own I wouldn’t have been able to risk reaching for it for fear of losing my balance into the lot of them. I was and am grateful.

That stump was in the way of digging where Richard wanted this to go–and you can’t risk having it fall on the new tree, either. I thought, after all the rain we’ve been having, maybe it made a difference? And again I tried giving it a tug.

It came away, not in a fast collapse but rather slow and measured and easy to aim. Well THAT worked!

With that out of the way I started pulling away rocks again. And it was fascinating: just a few feet away, yesterday’s had been jagged. Most of these were smoothed, rounded, far easier to deal with. Still, it was a lot of work and enough for one day. And I’m glad now I did two holes because both will have good soil for the tree to grow into.

Pleased at the depth and width, I declared it done and went off to get Richard.

Tomorrow the prime planting soil from Yamagami’s goes in. Tomorrow I plant my new fruit tree in Al’s memory. I can’t wait to tell Jean.



Peach tree notes
Wednesday January 18th 2017, 12:02 am
Filed under: Garden

(Photo added in the morning: first round of pruning done, probably need to do more.)

Something this newbie learned this past year (I should have asked Al first): don’t put birdnetting over a standard-rootstock fruit tree. That’s what my Indian Free peach is because that’s all that variety came in from the grower, which means it gets very tall very fast.

Which also means it quickly got caught up in and strangled and twisted by that birdnetting, and getting to the branches without destroying the netting before harvest thus defeating its purpose proved impossible. And then the tree kept growing like crazy, lifting the black mesh well out of reach.

So the tree didn’t get its summer pruning but it needed it more.

The larger critters tore the netting open in the night and got my peaches anyway. So much for that. The plastic produce clamshells worked much better so I am definitely going back to them. This year I will staple paper bags over them to hide sight and smell of ripening fruit with a little hot pepper at the bottom in case they try anyway. Thwart one, thwart two, thwart three.

My pruning shears were not enough for this one–I had to get out the pole pruner. I didn’t think to take pictures before, and after over an hour at it the sun was too far gone. But I do have that tree Ground Hog Day’d to a year ago. More or less. It looks much more robust than then.

To prune, you have to look at each branch: there are tiny buds, and where they are on the limb shows you which direction the tree will take it after you cut right above one. You want it to go left? That one pointing left. Right? The one down here. None facing exactly the right way? Probably not quite as much sun that side.

What I wanted most for it to do was to grow over the fence towards Adele, even though I cut off half of several branches that were already close to doing just that. But they were too young and too flimsy; they needed to thicken before getting too long, otherwise, they could break from the weight of a single fruit. I voted for Most Likely To Succeed and trimmed them back by half. I also wanted there to be ones far enough down, height-wise, for her to be able to get to when they’re laden with ripe peaches dripping with juice. Off with its heads. Out not up.

Two trimmings in particular, I was curious and stood them upright on the ground. They came up to my nose.

Here’s the story of my planting that peach for Adele. And wow, that picture, it was so little two years ago.



I know what you’re thinking
Tuesday January 17th 2017, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

Conversation at dinner tonight with a completely random interjection, not even looking at them:

“That’s not pussywillow, you know.” (Suddenly envisioning pink feline hats with long fine hanging strands of knitted green leaves as a visual pun, but never mind.)

“It’s not?” He was surprised.

“I told you I pruned the peaches.”

Y’know–saying scion-nara to the overgrowth and all that.

——

(Side note to LynnM: I tried sending to you from my Gmail account and it too elicited the rejection message saying your server doesn’t accept messages forwarded from other addresses. But that wasn’t one, it was straight from Google’s own servers, and thus the resident geek says that the problem is with your email server. Hope this helps some?)



So far so good
Monday December 19th 2016, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

We’re not quite yet down to the 28F degrees (and 56 under the mango covers) of the last few nights but it’ll come close again.

Happy as a clam under there.

Most of the flowers are supposed to be male, but it looks there’s been no shortage of female ones.

We have baby mangoes.



Crunch time
Tuesday December 06th 2016, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Outside: 35F and going down. (Mango tree: 62F.) I have no doubt this will be our coldest night yet and the mandarin oranges are shivering under their covers, too.

I got a good laugh at my own reluctance to head out for a grocery run–hey, you, didn’t you used to live in New Hampshire? A little perspective check in the video from Montreal: five cars in the snow that got rear-ended by a long bus that got rear-ended by a pickup that got rear-ended by another bus that got rear-ended by a cop car that–

–and you can hear a voice yelling, “Hey! Get out of the car!”

And the cop did, just before the snowplow doing that same long no no no don’t! skid with its tires turned uselessly thataway (c’mon guys, steer into the skid and then away!) smashed the officer’s car.

Drive carefully out there, you all.

And to the Californians: keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car, willya? You never know when someone else who isn’t prepared for real cold is going to need it.