The mango perseveres
Monday December 04th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Well, so far I’ve only knocked one of these flowering tips off while covering/uncovering the mango tree against the nighttime temps (it hit 33F last night.) The whole thing, with all its buds. It was awful.

Which means I’ve been mentally inventing all kinds of ways of keeping the frost covers lifted slightly off the tree. Cut a hula-hoop and impale the halves on pairs of stakes?

I like that during the day we can just look out on an exceptionally pretty tree without the visual barrier of an expensive greenhouse (which would be wobbling on uncertain ground anyway.)

Twenty-one sets of buds with more likely to come later.

And then we can start talking about something like this to keep the squirrels out of the fruit.



The Alphonso
Friday November 17th 2017, 12:29 am
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

June bearing, said one site. Six months from flower to fruit, said another, with cooler temperatures triggering bud formation.

Well then this makes sense.

There are a whole lot of these; this is just the one at the top getting the earliest dose of morning sun and furthest along.

Each of those little brussels sprouts-y dots becomes a cluster of flowers (most of them male.) Hoping all goes well, we should get a fair number of mangos this year.

One for Danny, who inspired the tree planting, one for Phyllis, who aided and abetted and covered it from time to time for us, one for Eli, for saving it from the cold, too….



Sprinting
Saturday November 11th 2017, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

We had eleven days in October that were in the 80s or above. This is not normal.

And this is the result: a flush of new mango growth that has to adapt to the now-colder nights while I do my best to keep it warm (with fervent thanks for the help last week while we were out of town.) We might have blossoms at Christmastime and fruit in June or so if we can succeed this year.

I do think that one blackened new leaf is a goner. 



Frost coverings
Thursday November 02nd 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Mango tree

I’m picturing Maddy two weeks ago, rocking in toddler exuberance next to me: “Read it AGIN! AGIN!”

He’s about 13. He cat-sits, including for a friend’s elderly cat that needed its meds while its owner had to go out of town and who was very grateful to him for the help. Just a really great kid. And so it finally occurred to me that I could ask if he would mango-tree-sit, too, keeping it covered by night and uncovered by day.

So I sent an email to his mom.

And I got this note back from him:

——

Hello,

This is (editorial note: let’s change it to Jacob). I’d love to take care of your tree. I could stop by with my mom tomorrow between 4 and 5 so you can show me what to do. Will that work? You can pay me $5 for both days.
If it has any favorite books to be read at night, let me know.
Thanks
——–
(I of course promptly upped his pay quite a bit, remember when I was a teenage babysitter and hated it when people asked me how much I charged and how I always asked for too little. I wanted him to be glad he took this on for me.)
Meantime, I guffawed at that note and then read it out loud for my wondering sweetie, who guffawed in turn and promptly found and ordered this: a children’s book about a tree in the forest decorated with things for the wildlife to share. The perfect story.
Maybe it’ll even come in time. Go Jacob!


Still new at all this
Wednesday July 12th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

Another “this, now this” pair of pictures. July 4th to July 12th. The Alphonso mango tree is loving the summer sun and heat.

But it suddenly hit me today that by this time the last two years I’d carefully unwound the Christmas lights so that there would be no chance of the tree growing into the cord or becoming inextricably tangled.

Um. I think I need to wait until the new growths are hardened off a bit before I dare mess with them, and as long as they’re red they’re not done growing–and there are a whole bunch more just now popping out into view.

Maybe this year I just leave the lights be?

But I so love how the tree is filling out.



June 12 vs 21
Wednesday June 21st 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Y’know, sloshing the brain around in four falls in four days is just not a great idea. I’m putting me on timeout.

Meantime, the mango tree is sprouting in the 88-106F heat wave this past week. The leaves that were red on the 12th have turned green and the new shoots from then have new half-grown red leaves now. (Second picture taken at a brighter time of day.)

The thicker the trunk grows, the hardier it becomes against future cold.



Trying to scare up a little dinner for them?
Thursday April 13th 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Wildlife

That time before sundown, when the squirrels have turned in for the night and the birds have the feeder area to themselves. When the UV level is zero and the outdoors is mine. I really like it.

It’s also when the temps start dropping enough that it’s time to go cover the mango tree for the night.

There are two steps to this: the first, covering the top of the two stakes with bubble wrap rolled and taped together, both to protect the frost covers from tearing on the ends and to lift the covers above the close-to-budding parts of the tree–they are growing straight up now but will droop down later to support their (hoped-for) fruit as it grows. (No President’s Day storms to whip them all off the tree this time, okay?)

I opened the door to start the preliminaries, scattering a dove and a junco. As I walked across the yard, I saw a large gray wide-winged bird well overhead, flying from the direction of the redwood in Neighbor A’s yard across us to the silk oak in Neighbor B’s yard.

Several years ago my kids gave me a Cornell Labs book for Christmas that not only listed American bird species, it had a recording for each, and the one for the Cooper’s hawk was said to be of one defending its territory or nest. (From a researcher wielding a mic, no doubt.)

A prolonged protest as I neared the mango, which stands next to where the hawks like to perch on the fence: it let me have it.

And I *heard* it!!! It was pitched two notes higher than Cornell’s but that sequence and length were unmistakable. (From Wikipedia: the males are higher-pitched than the females. Curious.)

I walked back across the yard and likely out of its sight under the awning, then reappeared again with the first frost cover and walked back towards the little tree–and again it demanded I know that I was intruding and this would not do. And I imagine it wanted its dove back.

It was coming from the redwood tree, quite close. So there were two present, then. Cool.

I got the cover over, then the second, but decided I would check the weather report and put off doing the third layer for now and let them be. (I did end up adding it later–it’s cold out there.)

After all this time I finally got to hear my Cooper’s hawks! And I think I know where they’ve moved their nest to this year, now. Away, at last, from where the corvids congregate when the silk oak is feeding them while the hawk chicks are being raised. Good.



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.



If a tree falls in a suburb…
Tuesday January 10th 2017, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Mango tree

A few years ago an enormous old eucalyptus tree, one of many in a long line on the hillside, fell across the expressway near Richard’s office at morning rush hour and fortunately hit no one. We saw it from the other side of the divided road, which was heavily littered with smashed bits from the top. Meantime, southbound traffic doing 45 would just crest the hill and there it was right there–we saw the first few terrified drivers doing abrupt u-turns in front of it and heading back going the wrong way, knowing it was rush hour and the speeds and the danger and the cops got that direction shut down immediately. I was impressed.

I have kept a wary eye on those tall flimsy trees on rainy days ever since, and part of another came down at evening rush hour today: again, the authorities hadn’t gotten there yet when we went by, and since traffic could make it around that one it surely wasn’t on the immediate list this time. They are swamped.

We waited at the next light ahead just barely out of the reach of yet another, which was leaning hard over the lines of cars below as gust after gust threatened to javelin us all with it. It felt a lot like being in an east coast hurricane. That trunk was not upright anymore. I do not expect to see it still standing come the morning.

And we’ve got it easy. We have power and heat and no flooding. They’ve clocked winds at 173 mph and there’s water everywhere: we haven’t had this much rain from Oct 1 to this date since 1922. A mudslide on Highway 17 near Richard’s aunt took out the road and an ABC7 news van (and it amuses me that none of the other news outlets identified it as such, only ABC7 did, whereas it was very clear what it was. But I guess you don’t give a boost to the competition? I mean, that’s a heck of a way to get a scoop. I can just imagine, Here comes the mountain right there, do you see it Bob? Bob? Apparently nobody was hurt, so it’s easy to joke about.)

We are not near a creek and this is a good thing right now.

Tomorrow, when it hopefully stops raining for a bit, I will go put the new (it came! Yay!) remote-read temperature sensor with the mango tree and go back to my happy old habit of glancing up at the monitor on the wall every time I walk by to see how it’s doing.

At this point, the frost covers are doing double-duty as just a bit of protection from rain-overdosed roots. Yeah. As if.

And if the sky holds its breath long enough we’ll go up on the roof and see if we can find out what made that nice loud boom up there. No sign of fallen tree that we can tell from the ground, and besides, we already cut down all the ones that threatened to two years ago.

On our property, anyway.

Oh wait, there is that one last one that could have grown over the house again by now. Guess what it is? A thick trunk, but, a eucalyptus.



The post office guy, part two
Saturday December 24th 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Mango tree

Random count-the-fruit-on-that-branch photo. The flowers are starting to drop in tiny stars on the ground below.

Richard dropped me off at the clinic this afternoon, where I hoped the doctor would tell my hand was all healed while he headed off to the airport to pick up our daughter.

I was knitting when the doctor came in. That part of my life is nearly back to normal.

Nope. The bone in the knuckle isn’t done yet: five more weeks. But the pinky is healed and I can now take the velcro off when I’m showering or washing my hands. Good, because those things are sponges–after the last five weeks, they were getting pretty rank. I got a new set and spares.

Richard and Michelle picked me up and we took our famished daughter out for a quick bite before dragging ourselves out grocery shopping for the weekend.

I wanted to go to the nearest place and be done with it. She said, you know, that huge Safeway (in the next town over yonder) has more stuff that I can eat.

And so that’s where we went.

Which is how we ended up in the same store at the same time as the guy who’d given up his place in line at the post office. He saw me before I saw him and he stopped right there, his face lighting up in recognition and delight. I did the same.

It was enough. We held each other in our eyes for just long enough–and then, with a nod, carried silently on, with him not wanting to interrupt my daughter next to me but both of us sure to have a merrier Christmas or whatever holiday one might wish for for having had that moment.

He had no way to know what had happened the day after he’d seen me–the c-spine, the ER.

But he got to see that yes, I was using a walker. And I could get across that store now, supported and safe. It had all come together. And I got to see how happy that made him.



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.



Stanford Hospital
Monday December 12th 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Life,Mango tree

It is safe to say it did not get better in the morning. Walking into church, all the colors and the movement and the people and I could barely walk holding onto the cane and Richard both as every muscle kept trying to give way on me. I, um, scared a few people. They felt better after I promised to go to Urgent Care afterwards.

Home first for a moment to get ready because I knew it would be a long wait, where I looked out the window and went oh right and got the silly mango tree covered for the night. Somehow the green (can’t call all of it grass) and the stillness in the yard soothed my firing neurons and it wasn’t too hard. I wanted to be the one to do it.

We headed out.

The doctor at Urgent Care, prodding around: Does this hurt?

Yes, up a bit–here.

Then he said the last thing I ever expected to hear: Do *not* move your head. You might have broken your neck. He called for a c-spine and told us we had our choice of ambulance or having Richard drive me, but recommended the ambulance, but in no way was his facility equipped to deal with this–go straight to Stanford. He would call ahead and let them know.

As Richard put it afterwards, to justify me in my decision and help me feel better about it, If he was sure it was broken he wouldn’t have given us options. The c-spine was on and we skipped the $300 co-pay.

The ER took me immediately in, no waiting.

And then, as one always does there, one waits.

I was glad I’d brought reading material because I wasn’t sure how I was going to knit like that.

The young doctor was highly pleased and relieved to be able to come back and say that the CT results were negative: no broken bones, no bone fragments in the brain, the diagnosis was a pulled muscle in the neck and a concussion.

This was very good news at this point and we all knew it. He took that c-spine off me and at last my neck could relax after holding the one position for hours. I told him I’d been wondering how I was going to be able to wash my hair in the morning and he chuckled. I still don’t know how one does it when one doesn’t get to take it off so fast.

But it will be a good long while before I’ll be in any shape to drive anywhere. Given what could have been, I can live with that.

And the mango tree glows its quiet, warm blue in the night.



A scarf for a tree
Sunday December 04th 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Mango tree

Wool knee socks, leg warmers, two layers of wool sweater, scarf, double-thickness handknit wool hat, fingerless gloves, warm jacket–and still I was a bit chilled on our walk tonight. I grinned at Richard, Almost feels like New Hampshire again, right?

He snorted, Not quite!

Me: I knew that would make you guffaw!

The covers over the mango were, as always, held down with a collection of rocks with no air gaps as far as I could tell, held down along the dripline out from the trunk so as to protect the roots. What I did was to go grab a few old covers that were now too small to go over and tucked them in a line going two-thirds of the way around that outer perimeter on the ground. A few rocks on those too so that they wouldn’t end up impaled at the top of the redwood in the middle of the night–just to stay on the safe side.

It turns out that just that little change made the whole thing seven degrees warmer. That’s a lot! And it didn’t cost any extra electricity or put any more weight on the flowers under there.

A combination of, well of course, and, who knew. And–why didn’t I try that sooner? (I’m still a little mystified that it made that much of a difference, but hey, I’ll definitely take it.)



Spreading out the season
Saturday December 03rd 2016, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

The purple becomes orange. I love how the center of the tiny flower looks like a floating votive candle with the petals doing an exuberant Ta-Daaah! around it.

There was a tiny, narrow black streak notching one of the big flower branches this morning, maybe an eighth of an inch long but a sign of cold damage. There, in the center cluster growing almost straight down, above the upper light (they’re not touching) at the next group up. You can’t see it? Good. That branch needs to become strong enough to hold up the weight of a growing mango. I think we’re okay.

A minor part–by no means all–of one of the tomato bushes died overnight, and it looks like it dipped to 32 degrees at that one spot. I still hold some hope of having new tomatoes carrying over into the spring like they sometimes do in southern California.

This happened today on the side of the mango that had been dormant. Whether all the bud ends will actually produce flowering, not just leaves, I guess I’ll find out, but it’s clear they’re each taking their sweet time.

A steady supply of fruit rather than all of it happening at once sounds good to me.



On opening day
Thursday December 01st 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

And so it begins.

You can almost see the little dots of purple in those tiny things.

It’s been colder, though, (37 out there right now, 59 under the covers) and I haven’t seen any honeybees on the frost covers in the morning this past week. But if they’re looking for flowers they surely know right where to go. Does it make any difference that the neighbors let the hive that set up camp in their backyard keep all its honey for the winter?

Meantime, the artificial vs real tree debate has been settled. By a beaver. In a dollar store in Maryland. Reaching up to the fake ones, taking a sniff, and declaring a definite opinion on the subject.

(Yes, but no allergies and no massive baby spider hatch-out like that one year. Time to roll ours out and set it up.)