Tag Archives: strawberries

The darling juncos flew in.

Last month a man I barely know came into town and put a new roof on my playhouse. It’s a long story involving his grief and pain, and it was a long week while he was in town, but all in all it seems to have been a good thing for him who has been a carpenter his whole life to have this familiar but minor project to focus on.

When I bought the playhouse on Craigslist four years ago I think the red plastic roof may have been freshly painted by the previous owner; after the first winter it was peeling, and two more repaintings have also not lasted. For a long time I’ve planned to replace the plastic roof with something paintable, but couldn’t find the right person to help me, someone with the vision and the know-how and the time.

Carpenter Friend heard about my remodel and didn’t understand that I already have a team of younger people for that project; when he arrived from Idaho with his tools I pointed him toward the playhouse, and within a few days he had put on a real roof. He was going to paint it, too, but I could tell he was ready to move on, so I did that part myself.

This all happened at the perfect time, because somehow I was mostly available for that week, to listen to the stories from a long life, and to admire the work. Also, I am going to replant my matching strawberry barrels this fall, and will put a coat of the same color on them before I do. There’s a little trim piece that is supposed to go on the front of the playhouse, and which I haven’t yet figured out how to adapt without plastic. So the area above the door looks a bit plain still.

This month I want to put a coat of sealer on the rest of the playhouse, and then it will be ready for winter. After a cold snap that was a warning call, the weather has been milder again, but I don’t think we’ll be having the windows wide open anymore — the night breezes are too chill. The sunflowers continue in their enthusiastic blooming behavior, and the repeating irises never stop! I accidentally broke one off today so it is in the house.

High winds brought in the cooler temps, and blew bushels of redwood twigs cascading down from the tree behind me. You can see them all over the place in the photo above. I haven’t had the energy or time to rake them up.

It was because of their mess I had the little broom out where the Oregon junco could pose near it. Of course he didn’t pose – he and his friend only hopped about on the patio and this is as close as I could get to them, through the window in my kitchen and family room. Yesterday I gave up getting a picture at that distance, and began to look for pictures online, but they were not my juncos; this morning I managed to get (fuzzy) images that are much as I usually see them, with their signature little black caps being the most distinctive feature for sure. My husband first told me who they were, long ago, and it’s always exciting when they arrive in the garden and hang around the neighborhood for months.

Bit by bit little things are done toward the remodeling. Lots of demolition, and bags and bags of old ceiling and sheet rock are collecting in my utility yard, for the construction guys to carry off, soon I hope: that’s where I want to put the firewood I am waiting to order. But the area in front of my wood stove is currently taken by bathroom vanity parts ready to be installed. Here is one picture of actual construction going on, but it is only a small cabinet that needed assembling.

The fig harvest continues gloriously. I’m giving them away, and finding recipes that I can use to turn them into something freezable to use later. This picture below is of Honey Fried Figs, a simple sauteing in butter and honey, which makes a kind of preserve to serve on its own or as a topping for ice cream. 🙂

I also have my cook’s eye on a Martha Stewart fig cake. I did try a fig clafoutis but it did not please the palate, however pretty it looked just out of the oven.

My gardener’s eye will have plenty to keep it happy in the days to come, and the sorts of things I find outdoors are more certain to be satisfying to the whole person. So, out I go again, and maybe I’ll find a few moments to sit still and watch juncos for a while.

time happiness

9IMG_8984

I don’t know what “time happiness” means exactly, but I have an inkling about the longed-for place that St. Nikolai talks about:

Moments of happiness are given to you only in order to leave you longing
for time happiness in the bosom of the ever happy Lord;
and ages of unhappiness are given to you
to waken you out of the drowsy dream of illusions.

O Lord, Lord, my only happiness, will You provide shelter for Your injured pilgrim?

– St Nikolai Velimirovich

And I don’t know anything about “ages of unhappiness.” My sad times can’t by any stretch be called ages, though it’s true, when one is in the midst of intense sorrow, time warps.

Today has been sweet and kind of dreamy. I stopped on the bridge over the creek and thought about how beloved this little patch of suburbia has grown, especially in the last three years. This is the season when the creek bed is so packed with plants, you can’t see the little water that is down there. It was quiet and warm. The warm part of the day is short now.

I was passing by the yard with roses, lilies and other plants that are wilted and ugly from drought, insects, and disease. No one cares enough about them to pick off a dead leaf. And then what caught my eye and made me stop? A weed growing next to the fire hydrant.

“Weeds grasp their own essence and express its truth.”
– Santoka Taneda

It occurs to me just now that I may have posted a picture of this weed once before, recently… if so, it is deserving enough for a repeat showing.  It has been neglected just as much as the cultivated plants, which for a weed means it was not killed or pulled out. That has let its essential health and hardiness shine forth and produce tiny and flowers all over, decorating the wasteland beautifully.

Grass and turmeric and some same old (sweet) things.

Today I’m wondering what this grassy “weed” is, along a stretch of path by the creek that didn’t get mown down – yet? It’s very familiar, and I guessed it was rye, but I can’t match it up with anything in Weeds of the West at this stage. Maybe when the seed heads develop, if it is allowed to remain.

The Queen Anne’s Lace that made such a lush display last year was removed on my side of the creek, but there are a couple of plants starting to bloom on this far side:

Thursday I worked in the kitchen and cooked up a storm the whole day long. I hardly did anything else. Every other Thursday my CSA box (farm box) gets delivered, so I had that to deal with. I made some more of the Egg Bhurji, a sort of Indian scramble, and got the flavors closer to my goal. This time I grated fresh turmeric into it because I had it on hand. I had bought the turmeric rhizomes to plant, but there were more of them than I needed for that.

I boiled the quail eggs. They were so darling at every stage, I even had to take pictures of them simmering in the pot. One place I read said to cook them for two minutes, another four minutes, so I think I had them in the pan for about three minutes, and the yolks are soft, but that’s very pretty, too! And they are very tasty. 14 calories and 1.2g protein each.

Last Sunday when I saw them as the love offering on that bench, it was amazing how instantaneous was the progression in my mind to the thought, “I could raise quail!” Ha! I did laugh at myself. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, and it would be easier than chickens, but I want to get started on raising worms as my next homesteading project.

Now that the temperature has been in the 80’s the sweet peas are exploding; one day I took bouquets to two different neighbors, and the next day I filled two vases for my own house. Soon the stems will be too short to do much with, and I need to take them out anyway, to make room for the butternut squash that I will train up the trellis.

Some pretty blooms in the house are the Nodding Violet or Streptocarpella, a species of Streptocarpus, which a friend and I agreed sounds like a flower to feed a dinosaur with a sore throat. But they don’t make that many flowers that I want to offer them to the sick, so I think I will forget about the dinosaur and just remember Nodding Violet.

Mrs. Bread gave me my first plant, from which I accidentally broke a stem that I rooted into a second plant; I gave that second plant to friend Ann at church.  Then my violet was struck down by cold in the greenhouse one winter’s day, but by then Ann had started a second plant which she gave to me. And that is how we take care of each other and of our Nodding Violets, and how I am learning to just keep them safe in the house. They are nodding “Yes” to that:

And in the back garden, the red California poppies are blooming under the (fruitless) plum trees. Mr. Greenjeans said that the warm weather we had a few months ago confused the plums and made them bloom early; then the frost hit and destroyed the buds. 😦 So he doesn’t have any plums, either. This is the third year for my plums and I ate one last year.

Considering how little attention I have given my strawberries, and the fact that they are old plants, it is a big surprise to me that they are so happy and productive this spring. This morning I picked eight fruits to bring into the house, which might set a record, but that could be because in the past I have eaten them all in the garden.

I hope your June is starting out as happy as mine. ❤

Sunflowers shine on my garden.

gl dragonfly 2 by JR 5-31-16

So many flowers are growing in my garden that I haven’t ever grown before, or not for a long time. The Kangaroo Paws are ever-changing and fascinating.  One of the three plants sent up a flower stalk months ago, and the blooms are opening now. I didn’t know that these little rising-sun flowers that have popped out were even part of the deal.

In May Mrs. Bread took this photo of a dragonfly who flew right to that plant that matched his own color. He knew, even though the buds were small then. >>>gl P1040891 k paws 7-25-16gl P1040891 k paws closegl P1040894 k paws

 

 

 

 

When I was in Monterey, on California’s Central Coast, I saw lots of Kangaroo Paws in different colors. Some plants were seven feet high.

Maybe next year all three of mine will bloom at the same time!

 

gl rice straw P1040853

I bought a bale of rice straw with which to mulch the vegetables and strawberries, and I did get the job done just before the heat wave rolled in. While I was pulling hay out of the bale I was swept back to my childhood when we used to play in the hay barns at the neighbor’s horse ranch. I had completely forgotten about what was a fairly brief, but special year or two of my life, but that hay smell….

My everbearing type of strawberry plants are producing their second crop, and I’m getting more than in their first fruiting. Every other day or so I pick a few to eat in the garden. I’m enjoying them more than I expected, now that they are responding to the summer weather and being healthier.

gl berries P1040889While most plants are growing taller, the fennel is getting fat. I’m growing the bulbs to roast as vegetables. It must be time to pick them, because flowers are beginning to form on the feathery tops.

gl fennel P1040851

gl P1040862 chamomile

 

 

 

Chamomile flowers are cute little skirted pom-poms. This is the German variety, which is said to grow to 2 ft., but mine is 27″ high 🙂 The short Roman kind is on the other side of the garden, covered now with tiny yellow buttons, and no skirts.

 

 

 

 

 

When I bought plants in the spring, for some reason I thought I was getting an orangey-brown variety of sunflower, but my giant specimens are lemon-yellow, and I do love them. They are nearly 8 ft. tall, and would be all of that, if they held their heads up just a tad straighter. But then they wouldn’t look quite right.

The goldfinches have been hanging around a lot. This morning six goldfinches and one house finch were having a drinking party at my fountain, and taking baths, too, while I sat in the garden eating breakfast. Later on I surprised one that was pecking at a sunflower leaf, and last week as I was walking around in the evening I came upon a goldfinch perched quietly on a bachelor’s button, enjoying the air a bit before retiring.

gl garden sunflowers

I wonder if it was birds who ate my green beans…. Well, I consider everything experimental this year. It will be interesting to see which things want to come back next spring. In the meantime, I have learned how not to plant tomatoes in a box, and that if aphids show up on my kale, I better wash them off quickly. The sunflowers are trying to convince me — and so far it’s working — that they are a success.gl P1040874

If we would all break out into such glory when the summer sun shines!