Seedling stuff while I wait for that yarn
Sunday May 28th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden

We will start off tomorrow by delivering a baby apricot tree to a good friend. This one’s actually on its second year: it only got a few inches high last year, just a tiny little green sprig of hope, and then its growth tips died for the year (I think when we went out of town.) I kept watering it because you never know–and it really took off after breaking dormancy this spring. It pleases me no end. 26″. And now Becca gets to watch it grow up.

Contrast that to this one planted this February. 11″ high. You’d think they’d be about the same, but no, not at all. So it really does pay to keep taking care of them when they disappoint.

And then there’s this little guy, planted a month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one start off with ten leaves all at once like this. This morning there wasn’t much of a stem to speak of; tonight, there definitely was. Having killed off two this year, maybe by overwatering, (plus the one I knocked upside down, pot and all–oops), I’m thinking, Just. Keep. Growing…

A day in May
Friday May 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The tenth: done.

We have the first tomato flowers of the year. (Photo taken through netting, thus the blur.)

Re the peregrines: while the sub-adult was in courtship with the adult, a male adult flew in and took over mating duties for a single day while the teenager sat over yonder and cried audibly in camera range at being ousted. But there was no fight, because the adult male didn’t think he was old enough to be competition yet–and then was never seen again. Avian flu, we don’t know.

So the female went back to accepting the sub-adult because that’s all she had.

And so I wonder…

Of the three eggs she laid, only one hatched and it’s late enough by now that there is no expectation the other two will.

Maybe he wasn’t fertile yet after all. We’ll never know.

(Today’s video here.)

Wednesday May 24th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

I planted a handful of Anya apricot seeds after we got back from Seattle a month ago and today the first one finally sprouted. Those baby leaves just delight me to no end.

The sideways-design idea? Yeah, lace stretches every which way and all that, but laid flat like that it’s 72″ wide and 27″ long. Or 33″. Or more if you hold it up and its weight pulls it down, but either way, I’m thinking I’m doing this much again and calling it done.

Or (looking the dimensions up) I could do a bit past that and call it a twin size. Should I really want to?

Almost halfway
Tuesday May 23rd 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Another same but not quite the same picture: seven. One half pattern repeat like that is 3252 stitches per day.

English needs a word for when there isn’t peer pressure but you treat yourself as if there were for your own advantage in order to accomplish something. Keep it up, it’s working! Thanks!

Meantime, our enormous tropical-looking I forget the name but we’ve always called it the man-eating plant with its scaly trunk undulating on and above the ground like a Chinese dragon has sent up a flower bud wrapped up inside that thick corn cob-y thing. Past experience says that it will open up for less than a day and only partly exposed to view, facing the sun.

And now I know where we put the blue outdoor five gallon emergency water container. It was tucked under that thing so as to be out of the way and out of sight. Worked, too!

Happy Mother’s Day to all
Sunday May 14th 2023, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

I love the structure and the lush, big, dark green leaves of my Stella sweet cherry tree. That blueish green everywhere was the norm where I grew up.

Thus a cherry tree gerdan for Mother’s Day, one with finer beads and more detail than most. From an artist in Kherson, Ukraine, celebrating life, love, and renewal.

The nature of things
Thursday May 11th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

Looking around, I’m not sure but I think what we had was a Stinkhorn mushroom.

Not, sorry, a Stinkface, as I initially relayed to my husband. It still makes me laugh, even if I was wrong.

Maybe that potential treat is what the little guy sunning himself near the blue flower pot was interested in.

A question: I’ve been going through old stash and came across these blues. The big ball, 167 grams, is merino laceweight dyed by Lisa Souza at, the hank and its wound-up twin (they are, even if the photo insists on adding extra purple and depth to the unwound one) are Cascade alpaca lace–pretty sure that’s not baby alpaca, sorry, but it’s okay; the teal blue to the left is 50/50 tussah silk/merino, and the darker blue is–quite sure that’s from Lisa, too, baby alpaca laceweight where I bought an extra hank just in case but didn’t need it.

These were together in storage because I was always going to knit them doubled in dark/light stripes. Or maybe three. Or something. But it never happened. If anyone wants to play with some laceweight, let me know and it’ll be on its way. Stored in a ziplock inside a heavy plastic bag.

Edit: yarn spoken for. Thanks!

C’est une mystère
Tuesday May 09th 2023, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Garden

I planted a few more apricots after our Seattle trip and today I was looking to see if there was any sign of life.

There was–but not of an apricot. It looked like half the inside of a kernel with its brown skin sloughed off, but softer edged, less solid somehow, poking partway out of the soil as if the seed had been turned upright.

I tried a gentle tug. It didn’t budge. It was, however, vaguely slug-like. Ew.

By 5:00 I was sending my mom a picture.

Two hours later I took this one, and in those two hours it had gotten taller and the bottom of the cap was splitting open a bit more: one umbrella, coming up.

Did it come from the coconut coir the jiffy-type pots were made out of? Seems to have; the soil was new and therefore would have been sterile. Or is it growing off the edge of the actual apricot kernel that’s under there? I don’t think so; it’s too far off to the side.

So far I’ve been letting the little science experiment do its thing and show me what it wants to look like at every stage. My problem is, I have no idea what type of mushroom it is, whether it’s safe to even touch it (I washed my hands thoroughly after losing at tug o’ war) and I most certainly don’t want it sending spores around the inside of my house.

Nor do I want squirrels digging up my kernels and taste-testing them, as apparently happened to two that I found out of the dirt and apparently bitten and spat out the last time.

I want to see what it wants to do, I just don’t want it to have done it. No, that doesn’t make much sense but yes it does.

There are apps for identifying plants but when I tried to sign up for one I found out my phone’s too old to qualify. Anyone have any remote idea whether I should be intrigued or alarmed? Thanks.

On second thought, given that rate of growth, I think I’ll put it outside for the night after all. Oh, look, the stalk is half again taller than when I took this picture and started typing. The cap is bigger, too.


Quite the leaf to fruit ratio there
Monday May 08th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

Eight percent chance of rain; dry conditions will continue, said the forecast, which I checked before going outside to snap a picture of my springtime mandarins because that sure didn’t sound like what it looked like to me.

The idea is to text my mom a photo a day, just for fun.

It was a faint drizzle as I hurried back inside, turning to fat drops almost immediately. Never did add up enough to nudge us past the 41.6″ so far for the year, though.

The normal amount for an entire year is 12.5″ and we’ve got seven months to come.

I expect the return of drought next because I can’t remember ever having two back-to-back rainy years here, much though our aquifers could use it, but we are still adding more energy to the system so we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

XKCD’s chart on the effects of that from a scientist’s point of view.

The week after
Sunday April 30th 2023, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

Before we left for Seattle ten days ago, the pomegranate tree still had some leaves in the bright light reddish gold of early spring.

Now they’re all a lush dark green and the first flower buds have appeared. I love how they mimic cacao pods at this stage.

The Anya apricot that germinated right before we left has started to sprout side branches.

Re the older woman who coughed at church last week: I didn’t see her.

But clearly one of the young men who’d been at the front had seen the whole thing because he wears a mask while breaking the bread for the Sacrament and had forgotten his today and knew just whom to ask. That there would be a ziplock in my purse with a bunch of new ones, readily offered.

I had actually taken it out while unpacking everything from the trip and yesterday thought, that needs to go back in there, and went and got it.

I was so proud of him. He was looking out for everybody, whether they noticed it or not.

It was my old friend Eli, who took care of my mango tree against the cold weather while we traveled when it and he were younger. Whichever college gets him next year will be very fortunate to have him.

Calling a spade a spade
Tuesday April 25th 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

We’re told it was warm while we were gone.

The plants definitely took notice. (English Morello sour cherry with the top yet to bloom, sour cherry close-up, Stella sweet cherry.)

One yearling apricot seedling lost a limb in the heat but has new growth on the others; the other seedlings are doing fine.

And now the best picture of all. Even if it cuts off the matching little back of the head curl on Grampa.

Mathias was so excited about his new gloves that came with his gardening set that he wouldn’t take them off even for Legos. In the morning he’d tackled a tall mound of mud with a spade way too big for him and it had frustrated him, not to mention got him tumbled down that contractor-created hill a couple times; in the evening he opened his birthday present and there it was, beautiful and green, ready for digging in and just his size.


Growing it forward
Tuesday April 18th 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,LYS

How many years ago was it? Someone I only knew a little back when Purlescence was still open posted on FB about having all these extra tomato seedlings and it seemed terrible to throw them away but the whole packet’s worth was way more than she was going to put into the ground. Please. Somebody. Take!

She does not live close by but her office was kinda sorta halfway between us, so when I expressed some interest she dropped them off after work.

At the time I wondered why she would go to so much effort for such little things; years later, I totally get it.  They’re yours, you’ve nurtured these, you know what they could give to someone, how could you not try.

It had been easily twenty years since I’d grown a tomato plant. I had no idea where the path of the sun relative to my yard was or where what was shaded when.

I watched some of hers grow and was inordinately proud that they did. I watched some get killed off by my inexperience; I never did get a Black Krim that year. But somehow, eventually I actually got to pick a tomato off my own vine that I had raised that had all started with her generosity and enthusiasm.

I was hooked, and even last year when every drop of water was being accounted for I grew a tomato plant. One single one. Bought at Costco at the last minute when I just couldn’t stand not having one.

Burpee’s and Park’s send out their catalogs in the thick of the January gray and cold (and, this year, rain.) Not before. They know their audience.

So. I had a few extra seedlings on standby after transplanting: nobody needs more than one zucchini plant (uhhh…) Okay, nobody needs three. I wanted to make sure I had replacements in case the snails devoured anything.

And yet… (Day 1, day 2, day 3…)

They were all fine…

I messaged my next door neighbor. I had one seedling each of Sungold tomato, butternut squash, and a zucchini leftover, and I’d planted all I was going to need for us; did she want them?

She’d love!

She had all kinds of questions. Could you grow them indoors? Do they need direct sun?

You can always try; they might get pretty big. Six hours, as far as I know, in order to produce. (Tomato: Oh yeah? Just watch me!) I told her of my crazy Sungold that kept going for three and a half years.

I knew how much she was going to enjoy watching those grow from tiny to productive, and walked away mentally thanking Janice all those years ago for starting this. It’s all her fault. I’m so glad.

Oh, and, I told her that squash vines can go on for 10-12 feet but I’d deliberately chosen varieties that grow small and straight up.

Bared roots
Monday April 17th 2023, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Still in the process of opening up, but I loved how the morning fog softened everything.

This was my one Costco-impulse-buy tree, labeled as a Stella ultradwarf cherry that would top out at about eight feet. It doesn’t think so. But at the time, I was helped by a young employee who read the tag on mine as he lifted it into the cart, and in listening to my enthusiasm looked over at the others and decided he was going to buy one too and plant it for his mother. A small cherry tree, she could pick her own, he mused–she would love that.

I don’t know who or where they are now, but I think of them both often when I look at mine and remember that there’s a kid out there who loves his mom and a mom who raised a thoughtful kid. I hope they’re getting lots of cherries, and by now he probably is married and has kids of his own old enough to think about trying to climb it to reach some for Grandma.

Plucky little guys
Saturday April 15th 2023, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Garden

One of the optimistically labeled maybes in yesterday’s post, where the apricot kernel had opened and the halves turned green and then one of them at last started to fade so I really thought it was a no–sent up a beautiful green leafy shoot today and a root out the bottom of the 4″ pot. I so was not expecting that little bit of delight. Cool!

And then I was walking down the sidewalk downtown and sometimes you see these little holes in the concrete. I’ve seen scrub jays breaking nuts open against a favored spot on my patio–and then they come back later and enlarge the opening and it seems like they’re trying to stash food in there. Or maybe just make the squirrels think they are to keep them away from the good stuff.

That hole is about the width of a large cherry blossom. Those two sprigs look like Nandina, which is a shame because they poison the native birds. Still. Quite the little spot they’ve got all to themselves there.

Looks like the jays are working on a second hole. Someone be ready to quick drop in a tomato seed. Or how about The Squash Vine That Ate Downtown. The South gets their kudzu, we get our butternut. It’s only fair.

Now I just have to knit 98,454 more stitches
Friday April 14th 2023, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Huh. Where had I put that other pot? But I wasn’t really paying attention to that distraction, so, whatever.

Which is why it wasn’t till this morning that I discovered the Anya apricot pot knocked clear upside down, where it had to have been for two nights and a day by then. That was the newest, fastest growing, most promising seedling, too, I lamented at myself while scooping everything back together newly out of range of raccoons–or the garden hose as I’d reached towards the amaryllises under the awning; I probably did it myself. That’s what I get for having the thing up on something (to thwart rabbits) but not up enough.

It actually looked quite good: curved but not broken. Bright green and ready for some sun time again. I debated whether it needed to be kept shaded while it readjusted–but didn’t, and that may have been a mistake.

Tonight? It might make it but when the leaf edges shrivel like that, experience says that one’s a goner. If it were older, but it’s not.

I’ve got a few seeds left and it looks like I’m going to need them. I have friends hoping for their own Anya seedlings and I’m down to two clear successes out of sixteen by this point and two maybes.

Knit stuff: I did a fair bit of swatching, washing the swatches, hairdryering, measuring, deciding, and lots of wanting to just get on with it.

The combination of variegated blues in merino over here would be a ton of fun and I had it all planned out.

But then I swatched that 64/36 cashmere/cotton. There was just nothing like that softness. Exquisite. The bit of cotton meant the shrinkage was about 10%, all vertical. And given who it’s to be for? It totally wins. Yeah, more (and more and more) plain practical white again, but happy anticipation can make up for a lot.

That is seriously nice stuff.

Friday April 07th 2023, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

The first cherry blossom of the year.