Sunday, June 29, 2008

Angry Squirrels

You wanna piece of me?

The squirrels woke me up this morning. This one was making quite a ruckus another morning, so I went to check it out. She, which I thought was a He, was ready to take me on. Now that I see the pictures, and her condition, I understand. Like, I can totally relate. Sorry, Mrs. Squirrel, I won't disturb you again. Help yourself to food and water, I'm sure you already do.

It's the last quarter moon. It's a sad time. But she'll be back.

It was hot and dry today, pool weather. Now it's 63 degrees at 10:00 pm. Lots of crickets chirping.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Still cool and pleasant

First strawberry

They like the little herb garden with the rock mulch. Actually, rock soil is more like it. The mint, lavender, thyme and oregano like it too. Why not use rocks as a thick mulch always? We sure have enough to spare. Use what you have keeps proving to be the answer to all my gardening needs, but my brain hasn't quite got the message yet.

Well, J did use the old chicken coop door for the greenhouse, and the old posts, and the old wire...
and I used the old manure, compost, and sand. We're building up our collection of old stuff.
But I'm trying a new soaker hose (not labeled for sale in California) for watering. I got everything planted yesterday during Pisces, so now I feel better.
I thought of one problem. Pollination. If insects don't make it in, I'll do it myself! (said the Little Red Hen).
Up and almost operational. Minus the filter pump and chemicals. Albeit a rip in the cover and a pinhole in the side...
It's windy and dry, and 90s are in the forecast coming soon. The water in the pool is still too cold for swimming. Soon there will be a little fish in there, swimming day and night.

Wildflowers in bloom: Spiraea, Oxeye daisy, Yarrow, Mariposa lily, Nootka rose.
The hairy flowers of Spiraea.

This is a wild rose by the driveway that looks like a mini. The flowers are small, dark pink and the leaves are small.

I'm taking Polemonium off my favorites list. I planted it by the back door and it smells like dog wee wee. Nice way to greet visitors! It's pretty, but it's coming out.
It's 63 degrees, sunny and windy at 10:30 am.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Rustybell Watching a particularly interesting bird specimen.
I had to put bells on Rusty to keep him from catching birds. He caught a Robin yesterday, and both he and it were wet, so it must have been a birdbath ambush.

I love the Blue flax, it's doing so well this year. All that snow and rain really made a difference. Little itty bitty baby fir trees are popping up everywhere. The mature trees have lots of new green growth and the grass and wildflowers are profuse. So is the knapweed. More on that later...
The wild roses are blooming too. The beetle was a striking iridescent blue-green. I didn't even see the two spiders while taking the pictures.

The bluebird caught something beetle-ish to feed his babies.

Looks tasty doesn't it?

The hoop house is ready for planting, I'm just waiting for Pisces. It's a bit late in the season, but the protection will keep everything going well into October I think...if not, it's another exercise in futility. But it's the process, the process...

Things in the fortress vegie garden are not doing well at all. It looks like everything is suffering from cold. The nights are so chilly. I need to get more frost blankets, and some soaker hoses, for the hoop house...I feel a trip to town coming on.

One exception is the potatoes, which finally emerged from the straw and are growing well.

Fuzzy wuzzyIt's 68 degrees at 10:45 am, sunny and light wind.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Slammy Solstice

Little crab, I hope you have a very happy day. Soon you'll be in your element. Happy swimming!

The birds got a place to cool off too. They love it. Just in time, it's gotten very warm. Water makes everyone happy on a hot day.

It's 85 degrees and partly cloudy at 3:00 pm.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garden chores

Hurry! Only two and a half months left!
The weather has warmed up and that means I've been outside a lot more, doing all the chores I put off. Here's what I've done so far:

  • Turned the compost pile and sprinkled it with alfalfa meal to speed things up.
  • Planted most of the transplants.
  • Prepared the hoop house for growing by adding chicken manure, compost, alfalfa meal and wood ashes. (I sprinkled wood ashes on the flower beds in early spring this year and it worked wonders!)
  • Fertilized with alfalfa meal and fish tank water.
  • Planted the honeysuckle, lily and hydrangea.
  • And ofcourse, weeding weeding weeding!
The guys got the plastic on the greenhouse and made it so that a bottom flap can be lifted for ventilation. Even on a cool day, it is hot in there
The wall-o-waters are proving to be more trouble than they're worth. They keep collapsing on the tomatoes. The white blanket on the box works better and is easier.

I've been trying to stick to the moon planting schedule but it isn't really possible sometimes. When planting, a lot of weeding has to be done. In fact, weeding has to be done almost every day. Weeding on a fertile day may explain why they come back with a vengeance. If you believe in that stuff...

It's 61 degrees, sunny and windy at 9:00 am.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's been a long week

Being superstitious, I couldn't help wondering on Thursday if my last post jinxed The Ranch, (it was a Friday the 13th week). I am so so happy The Ranch and all of its inhabitants are safe and very grateful to the fire fighters who risked their lives to stop the fire. I'd like to bake each of them a pie, or some cookies, but that wouldn't suffice. We should do something for them though...they deserve a great deal of thanks and love.

What a week! I won't complain about cold, wet weather anymore, (at least not for a while). I'll try to send some of the rain down south, and if that doesn't work, I'll wish some fog on you. Yes, Dori, you were right. Fog is good. I hope you guys get lots of it, and have a safe summer.

Pale Swallowtail

It's 70 degrees, mostly sunny and breezy at 4:00 pm.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Warmer places

Ok, this weather is starting to really bother me. I've tried being patient and good natured about it, but now I've had it with 43 degrees at 9:30 on a well-into-June morning! It's cloudy and cold and drippy. On GMA they say, "the only cool part of the country is the Pacific Northwest, everywhere else is hot." How many times a year does that happen? Many many. Too many!

The Ranch
I know a place that's warm and toasty right now. I can't go there as often as I'd like, but Dori's blog, Ranch Journal, is a good substitute when I need some sunshine. Ranch Journal is kind of the mother of our blogs and our inspiration. She started it a few years ago and we've been reading it ever since. One of our favorite posts is about a lizard that likes icecubes, check it out. Right now she's delving into AW's family history,(and bro has even started writing his own posts) which is quite amazing. We're hoping she gives an account of her family's history next.

A wave of sleet just passed over, yes I said sleet. It's 42 degrees at 10:30 am.

Monday, June 9, 2008

School's out!!!

Mariposa lily

Now we have time to do more important things. The new camera is very popular. I haven't had to take pictures for a few days. In fact I can barely get my hands on it. But that's ok, if it encourages an interest in something so worthwhile. And the results are worth it too.
We went for a walk on the forest trail yesterday. Our bickering scared off most of the wild beasts, but we saw lots of flowers and a few butterflies. Jr. found out how hard it is to take pictures of them. Good job, Jr.! I haven't seen many butterflies at home, I think the birds are eating them all. Rusty likes them too, though they make him sick.
We had a fiery sunset the other night that was also captured by Jr.
Now it's your turn, Slammy.

I've been negligent in my gardening duties. I missed the opportunity to plant when the moon was in Cancer on the 5th because I wasn't feeling well. That's the problem with this moon business. Now I'm supposed to wait till the 11th and 12th, for Libra. This weekend the moon will be in Scorpio, a very good planting sign, and the weather is supposed to improve as well. We'll see what I accomplish.

Here's a list of tasks:

  • Set out all transplants.
  • Set up wall-o-waters with tomatoes and squash inside.
  • Plant flower seeds.
  • Move chicken manure to garden. Add other soil ammendments.
  • Plant hydrangea, lily and honeysuckle.
  • Plant hanging basket.
  • Finish the hoop greenhouse. Plant it with squash, cucumbers, beans, basil, tomatoes and maybe a pumpkin, in honor of Mma Ramotswe. I've never tried boiling chunks of pumpkin and eating it with dinner. I wonder if her pumpkins are the same as ours. Will my frame become more "traditional" if I eat pumpkin every night?

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, just pick up The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, at your local library. Make sure you start at the beginning, as it's an ongoing series. Soon you too will be drinking bush tea and maybe even eating pumpkins for dinner.

Speaking of books, I'm still reading J. Houston's, and just finished the chapter about his ancestors. I love the part when he's visiting his "aging cousin thrice removed" in Tennessee. The eighty year old cousin is pressing jars of home grown produce on him and the author protests that he has limited space in his luggage. But the old man won't take no for an answer. I would love to have a relative like him, to hang out with and learn everything he knows about farming and canning. I wonder if he passed on his knowledge to the next generation.

Sticky geranium

It's 54 degrees, cloudy at 9:00 am.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Not unusual for June

Some are going on, business as usual, despite the weather. But most are in hiding, waiting for the sun.

We've been looking all over the place for bugs to feed Coconut, but can't find a thing. Still buying crickets in June!

Brrrr! It's 47 degrees at 9:30 am. The wind is blowing, rain clouds are hanging in the sky. I thought we were a little late this year for a greenhouse, but maybe not.

Setting up the frame...

Rototilling (it had to be done, the ground is hard and rocky here.)
The guys did all this yesterday, thank you J and J!!! I can't wait to put squash, tomatoes and all those other heat lovers in here. But first we have to get the plastic on, and add some stuff to that rocky soil. I've got chicken manure, alfalfa fertilizer and the bottom of the compost pile to raid. Now all I need is some fish heads...I heard that Native American farmers bury fish heads under the squash to keep them fed.

The rain has started. The water kind of compensates for the cold.

The petunias are patiently waiting for the sun. I'm trying to be patient.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Forecast: More rain

The rain will be good for the trees and plants. But it's getting a bit chilly and I'm starting to wonder what happened to summer. All week it's supposed to rain...more 'shrooms on the way. I did a report on mushrooms in 7th(?) grade with pictures I took up in Bonny Doon, shroomland. I wish I still had it, maybe then I could identify these. Or I could just pick up Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora again.

Here's a recipe I like with Shiitake mushrooms in it.

Spicy Lentils

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots or green onions
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/3 cup each diced carrots and celery
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. (or to taste) canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
1 cup lentils
3 cups water or stock
salt and pepper to taste.

Saute oil and vegies slowly until soft but not brown. Add vinegar and chiles, raise heat and stir until liquid is reduced by half. Add lentils and water/stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 20 minutes till lentils are tender but not mushy, add more liquid if necessary. Season to taste and serve.
Recipe credit: John Ash, as presented at the April 2008 Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference.

Partly cloudy, 52 degrees at 10:00.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why we left California

How could we leave this place?

I started thinking about this because I've been reading a book called Where Light Takes its Color from the Sea, by James Houston, that I got for my birthday, (thanks DNA!)

Although we were deeply rooted in California and loved many things about it, we had to leave. Not that anyone cares, but this is why.

1) Money, or lack of it. We wanted to buy a house, with a little land attached (as if!) One place we looked at stands out in my memory. It was just above our price range: $150,000. It was about 90 minutes out of town on a windy road, in dense forest, on 1 steeply sloped acre, by a creek. There was a building: a tiny concrete box, a hermit's (prison?) retreat. It was either something like this or a small tract house in Salinas under large power lines.

2) People, too many. And more people are always coming. Mr. Houston says in his book that it averages one thousand per day. When I was growing up, it was fairly busy, but not too busy. In recent years it's become unbearably busy. The busy people are cranky. And rude!

3) This is kind of harsh, and you may disagree with me, but I have to say it: somebody ruined it. Even when I was little, I didn't like looking at the ugliness of what had been done to California. A beautiful, perfect place, trashed. It's too much to look at. Not just the industrial messes and sprawling cities. There's a carelessness in so many aspects of the place. I can't even stand the ice plant on Westcliff drive. Drive down to Big Sur and you're overwhelmed by its natural beauty, untouched. I always try to imagine what the rest of California must have looked like before, how lovely and serene it must have been when Native Americans were there alone.

4) Wildness. I wanted to live in a place that still had it. California feels like a place where thousands have walked over every surface, and the original inhabitants are long gone.

5) Fog. Not a fan. Summer should be hot. Skies should be clear; big white puffy clouds are ok, but no fog. Also, smog, it rhymes with fog, but is much worse, and is abundant in California.

What did we find?

1) A very beautiful, wild place that is perfect in the months of June-September and a challenge the rest of the year.

2) The people are coming here too. We are some of them. Now it's busy. People are getting cranky...

3) Now what?

We love Hawaii; the people, the climate, the beach, the food, and the laid back atmosphere. But the more people that move there, the busier it will get and, you know what happens next...

It's 52 degrees with rain clouds hovering at 1:00 pm.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sam and Ella

I came across a sad story while looking at bird sites. Maybe that poor little Crossbill was sick...good thing Jr. washed his I recall he said "I'm gonna go wash my hands, bird flu!" Here's the link, if you want to read it, but the main gist is, stop feeding the birds, you're killing them!

I'll stop feeding them for awhile, or take other steps to keep them healthy. Maybe J could make a nice antiseptic metal feeder... the last thing I want to do is make the birdies sick!There's always that old problem of loving something to death...time for mama to spend a little less time blogging and a lot more time cleaning. Sam, Ella, and the dustbunnies must be swept away.

On the bright side, I found a great site for bird identification in the Northwest (but it's also good for much of the west), at You can even listen to the different bird songs here.

The weather is still cool and showery, 60 degrees at 1:30 pm.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is it June already?

...this time of year flies by so fast, I'd like to slow it down and spread it out over a whole year. Speaking of cherry blossoms, the choke cherry blossoms opened up yesterday. I love this tree, the deer never (knock wood) touch it for some reason. Maybe it makes them choke. Slammy brought it home from something or other one day. I think I'll go out and buy a hundred of them.
Something else the deer leave alone. The lilac is blooming.

It's raining again, I am so glad. The way I love rain, we should be in Western Washington. I don't think I'd appreciate the flooding too much, though. I hear from kinfolk that it is hot and dry in California, and they already had a big fire. I feel guilty now for bragging about the rain and all the beauty it brings. I hope they get some relief soon, I know how it feels to live in fear of fire. It happens here around August, and I just hold my breath each day, hoping nothing bad happens. (Sometimes, I think, what gall we people have, to build our houses out in the woods and then get upset when a fire comes through.)
We weren't getting any April showers this year, and I was getting nervous, as the forest got crunchier and crunchier. I even broke out a rain dance. You gotta try everything. Here in the Inland Northwest, rain is precious. Thank you, Rain! (If it makes you folks down south feel any better, the mosquitoes are on us like a plague of locusts.)
Bird news...
Beauty came back, but not long enough for me to get a good picture, so shy!

Our little executioners are back too, after an absence of a couple months. They're hard to photograph, like Chickadees, because they never stop moving.

Dark-eyed Junco
I'm getting a new camera, so maybe the pictures will improve, yay!

Gardening news...

I got two beautiful new perennials for my to put them...oh honeeey! I need a new flower bed!

I made the row cover into a tent. Nothing has disturbed it yet, maybe they think it's a ghost. If that dog comes back he'll probably charge it.

The zucchini is blooming in the house! The right moon sign for planting isn't till June 5! That moon sign gardening is a bit tyrannical, what if I don't feel like doing this or that on a certain day? If I leave it in a pot outside, maybe it will make miniature zucchini...

It's 55 degrees and raining at 8:00 am.