Excuse me, is there an ant in my hair?
Thursday July 12th 2018, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

The mango tree is taking another try at production, July being warmer and more inviting than November was. The first spray of blooms is fading out and eight tiny green fruits have taken hold there, while new clusters are popping open behind.

One problem was ants chomping on the flowers, with the cinnamon being less of a deterrent than it seemed to have been in the past. And I don’t want to chase away bees. So I tried something else: I cut a strip of paper, put it around the tree, and twisted some packaging tape over it twice around so that the insects’ feet would get stuck in the tape.

Only they don’t: I watched them while watering the other trees, and they turned around from it before they even got up to it. I’m good with that.

(Next time, though, tie my hair back first before inspecting those blossoms and picking them out of there. Just sayin’.)

Happy Fourth of July!
Wednesday July 04th 2018, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Another Piuma peach cashmere cowl, and I just cast on yet another. Except what I really want to knit right now, for no particularly good reason in the heat of the summer, is a thick warm hat. Maybe for variety’s sake? We’ll see.

The mango tree is loving the warmth, meantime (and me the air conditioning.) There are five smaller sprays of buds coming along quietly further back that will soon be as big as this one.

Only five more months to ripening
Thursday January 18th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

The earliest blossoms, the earliest fruit set.

Got told something I thought I’d pass along: to keep raccoons out of your tomatoes and fruit, the most effective thing is chicken wire–it’s flimsy enough under their weight to scare them and they won’t climb it.

Mango gardening in January
Thursday January 04th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree

Since I’m told Alphonso mangos take about six months to grow and ripen in June, seems to me our four-year-old tree has finally grown enough to be settled in on schedule.

I had wondered whether the beehive across the fence would take a winter break, but look at that center picture–clearly things are working.

This time it’s old enough to hold onto those beginning fruits, if we can just keep it consistently warm. We lost last year’s small crop by traveling in April and leaving it uncovered at night, but now I’ve got Eli to help and clearly he did a great job while we were away in November and December.

There are more flower clusters under those leaves.

Heavenly perfume or no, the squirrels still smell the latex in the sap and walk in a comical half-circle to go around it beyond its drip line (the line one would draw straight down from the outermost leaves), and always have.

So far.

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….

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:



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.
(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.