Tag Archives: manzanita

Breakfast by the creek.

It’s invigorating to get outdoors in the springtime, at least, when we aren’t having cold winds and cloudy days. Last Saturday when Liam and Laddie were here, they collected manzanita berries from my bush and made pies.

Every time I go to church lately, something new is bursting with color. A type of salvia I haven’t seen elsewhere has flowers that glow like jewels:

And the California poppies! I feel that own garden will not be truly complete until these orange poppies are blooming in it — but I am a little afraid to throw out the seed and have them grow like weeds.

This morning, I took a walk by the creek. You might guess from my shadow that I am shaped like a bug. But I assure you, I more closely resemble a human.

From the bridge I heard a toad croaking;
blue jays were busy about something, hopping around in the trees.
Many other birds were singing and chirping. I don’t know who they were.

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I had set out before having breakfast, or so much as a glass of water. Uh… forgot that I can’t do that anymore. The squirrel scrabbling up and down a tree contrasted sharply with my slowing gait.

Besides the many wild things growing along the path, there are the backyard plants that have climbed over the fences. Like this trumpet vine:

 

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Oh, the banks of honeysuckle were sweet! But I’m afraid they didn’t make a proper energizing breakfast, no matter how deep the whiffs I inhaled. And I stopped so many times to frame pictures with my phone’s camera, my excursion grew longer and longer…

Salsify is opening its puffy blooms.

I think the Queen Anne’s Lace must bloom six months of the year. It is already bearing fully opened flowers, as well as these darling younger ones:

When I finally got home, it didn’t take long to satisfy my body’s need for fuel.
My soul had already had a full breakfast!

What streams and shines.

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The abundant rain made January of 2017 less depressing than average for that dark and cold month of the year. It looks likely that my town will have received 40 inches for the season-to-date before the end of the week. Usually we get 20+ inches. When it rains the air is cleared of pollutants and the burn restrictions are lifted – so we had lots of wood fires which are always cheering!

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Christmas joy and lightness always carry me through Theophany on January 6th, but then I have the reality of a Christmas tree that needs taking down eventually. I strained my shoulder slightly a few weeks ago, which slowed me down, but it gave me time to read five books in just the first month of the year, often sitting in front of that woodstove. I started drinking coffee, which is a mood-elevator for sure… and now suddenly, it’s February, and the weather has been 20 degrees milder.

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Flocks of goldfinches and juncos have returned to the garden, swooping down from the bare branches of the snowball bush. The juncos peck around on the ground, and the finches hang all over the nyger seed feeder, even in the rain.

And flowersgl-asparagus-2-8-17-standing-water are coming on dear Margarita Manzanita, buds on the currant bushes and calla lilies. I went out and took pictures just now under the umbrella, so everything is too wet to be optimal, revealing how one of my asparagus beds is less than optimal – we didn’t dig down deep enough into the adobe clay, and now there is standing water. That may not portend good for the future of that planting.

I made several gallons total of various soups in January, including Barley Buttermilk Soup, which I decided to try incorporating into bread yesterday. Here you have it, Barley Buttermilk Bread. It was enough dough that I ought to have made three loaves of it, but what I did was bake one oval loaf on my pizza stone, with butter brushed on top toward the end, and a round one in the Dutch oven. I added some oat flour which made it soft, but by this morning its crumb is very nice, and I like it very much… even too much.

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It’s been a long time since I had eggs from hens who ate lots of greens. My fellow communion bread-baker James brought some pale blue-green eggs from his Americaunas to our last baking session, and I was the lucky one to take them home, just as he had brought them, in the bottom of a paper shopping bag. They are so wonderfully orange-yolked, I had to take their picture, too. They go well with Barley-Buttermilk Bread. 🙂

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Every week the peas and the poppies have been beaten down by the rain…

gl-poppies-p1060639But they keep growing and blooming. Overall, they appear to thrive in it. I am reminded of this verse from the hymn “O Worship the King,” which likens God’s provision for us generally to the moisture that falls.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Sometimes, it is not only a metaphor.

The fullness of spending and leisure.

A pair of blue jays were playing in my manzanita and pine when I came back from my walk this foggy morning. I hadn’t seen any here in many months. Oh, down by the creek I do, not far away; I don’t wonder that they prefer to hang out where there’s even more going on, more things to eat. True, there are no manzanita bushes or Canary Island Pines by the creek; maybe they came here for the the dried manzanita berries under the bush.

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Anyone who has been following the Iceland poppy contest in my garden will want to see what I think is the winner of the endurance trial. It is probably an indication of how cool our summer has been, that one plant stayed alive all through August and accomplished a lonely bloom on September 7th. Surely it is the last! — and the plant does appear to be shriveling, as its companions did a few weeks ago.

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In the vegetable boxes, mice, as I suppose, are eating tomatoes. I don’t seem to have energy to find a deterrent to these nightly raids; I do know that the mice probably need the fruit more than I do… but it’s an ugly mess they are making, and the solution is probably to pull out the Early Girls that are the favored item on the mouse menu. With the weather we’ve been getting, it’s not likely that the tomatoes will get as ripe as I require, anyway, and I have seen some appealing recipes for fried green tomatoes lately.

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My front yard re-landscaping might be completed this month. Right now we are waiting … the hardscape is finished, these pictures showing the work of two weeks ago.

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And back in the back yard, I finally bought a bench for the corner by the birdhouse, and Soldier happened to be here soon after to assemble it for me. Look how tall the native currants have grown up in that corner! As soon as the rains begin (God willing, they shall) the calla lilies will start sprouting enthusiastically and I’ll have to pull them out, eternally.

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Soldier’s whole family was here for part of a day, and Liam worked in the playhouse, making a pie (so he said) out of flowers and herbs I told him he might pick for the purpose.

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Autumn Joy sedum is still looking beautiful, as it has for at least nine months now, and the acanthus is sending out new flower stalks.

 

 

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As I’ve been writing, and drinking my tea, the sun came out. Now it seems possible that I might get myself out to do some cleanup in the garden. Today I am going to soak my pea seeds, and hope to plant them tomorrow.

I have a feeling that it will always be a challenge, keeping up with all the things I want to do and need to do in the garden, not letting the housework go too neglected, reading and writing and praying, loving my friends and family, communing and working at church…. Life is very full. Today is very full. I looked for a closing quote to express something of what I’m feeling, but could find nothing more suitable than these lighthearted admonitions.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

That one I’ve already taken care of.

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. ~Annie Dillard

And this one is next!

 

Elizabeth

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Manzanita

My friend Elizabeth sat with me today on the patio and we had lunch together at 4:00. Yes, lunch. That is what time she normally eats what she calls lunch, and it worked for me. I tried to have her for her 100th birthday earlier this month but illness prevented us. The Comfort Soup I had put away into the freezer came out again and we ate it along with some sourdough bread, and Sumo mandarins that came in the mail this week. Yes, in the mail! Magical, that was.

As soon as she walked into the family room Elizabeth saw a photo of some of my grandchildren, and recalled events at church involving two of them, when they were 15 years younger. She told stories to Susan and me of the last severe drought that was also about 15 years ago, and kept me entranced as she always does with tales from throughout her life, from Hawaii, Saudi Arabia, South America and many other places she has lived or spent a lot of time.

Today I learned about how her mother detested the cold, but gave birth to my friend in high elevations of the Rocky Mountains, in icy February. When she was near to full-term the doctor said she must not ride the horse to town any longer, but rather should walk, because she was less likely to slip on the ice than the horse was.

It was balmy in my neighborhood this afternoon, especially for February! First we sat in the corner of the garden next to the manzanita bush, where eventually I want to have a bench, but where today we sat in black iron chairs. (You can see them in the upper left corner of this photo.) gl fountain w plants crp

Elizabeth played with her cane by dangling it around by its strap loop on the top. The neighbors on one side were playing drummy rock music in the garage. Over the fence near us children were squealing and running around. I shared stories of my Chinese neighbors in the next house from that, who have loud-laughing parties outdoors in any month of the year, and of the grandma who sings Chinese karaoke into her microphone for the pleasure of the whole neighborhood.

The fountain was gurgling, and I assured Elizabeth that yes, it is recirculating its water. (You can see how it splashes some on the ground, too.) She lamented about how the southern California swimming pools “are taking our water!” and about how all of the neighbors on her block are gone to work every  weekday, not one is around. While her son is at work in the afternoons she is busy making her lunch, watching animal programs on TV, reading the Bible or doing crossword puzzles. She feeds the local animals, that is, their several cats.

Elizabeth lost her husband after they had been married 43 years, the same as me. She says that probably the Lord wanted her to know Him better on her own, and while her husband lived she didn’t put much effort into that “vertical” relationship. She is very thankful for her good life, and she reminds me of the blessings of my own. She is nice to have around.gl fountain group Waterlogue-2016-02-24