Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Away from Home

Computers are a blessing. They can be a curse. When you think you brought one on a trip and you didn't, cursing or not, blogging slows way down. Sometimes it stops.

One fingering the Things I Get To Do Today on my iPhone will work for short posts. Hope to "see" you again soon.

Thinking of a flower bed recently cleaned and rearranged keeps my spirits cheered and free.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bee Box Post Script

They said yes!  They were enthusiastic about it.  The bee box, a Top-Bar Hive, has a home under the apple tree.  And the owners of the tree are pleased to be able support the overall welfare of the honeybee population.
Hive is now home under an ancient apple tree.

The morning sun will kiss the front door of the hive, inviting the sweeties out to soar in the morning air.   Shade is provided by the ancient apple tree from midmorning through the rest of the day.  Winter sun, when we have it, can filter through the twigs of the leafless tree.

Oden, guard of the property,
will keep the bees safe

It's been a busy day, and last of the Things I get to do today was deliver the hive to its now location.  It is beautiful in its idlic simplicity.  The swarm-lady has been notified that we are ready for the next swarm.  To be(e) continued. Blessings Be(e)!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gaudy Gorgeous

Parrot Tulip

I love it when Nature shows off!  This red and yellow extravagance fuels plenty of Things I get to do today with its flamboyant energy.  Thanks be to the Great Creator of All.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fruit Cake for People Who Hate Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake with Coconut
whipped cream

Don't run for the nearest door just because the title says Fruit Cake.  This is a cake of a different color.  Fresh, Spring, Summer, Juice, and Glorious were all invited into the recipe.

Symmetrical melons are easier
to work with.  2 cakes from one
melon.  Cut off ends. Cut in half.

Fortunately, it takes very little time to prepare, and no two or three months to ripen.  This is ready to be eaten in minutes (can wait a few hours).  So grab your forks.

By slicing at the outer edge of the rind you
get the most from the wider melon below
Ready to decorate

The idea/recipe came from Rawforvitality's post on Facebook:  Rawforvitality. They used whipped coconut milk for the "frosting."

About 10 strawberries and one kiwi.
Blackberries were stabilized with

Just waiting for someone to sing "Happy Birthday,
dear Teresa" then add the whipped cream.
My trial run on that found that the brand I used would not hold its shape for more than a few minutes.*  I needed three hours of "solid" frosting to hold until we were ready to serve.  My solution:  Cover the sides of the "cake" with halved strawberries.  Serve the whipped "cream" on the side so everyone can pour as much as they like over their piece.  Sharing the cake with friends today and sharing the recipe with friends in blogland are Things I get to do today.   I am so blessed!

*PS. The "cakes" were served up to many oo's and ah's.  Coconut cream on the side.  As the cream warmed to the room, it seemed to hold its shape better.  Recipe said to chill it first.  Next experiment will be to start with the coconut milk at room temp.  No sugar or flavor added to the coconut milk.  It was sweet enough on its own.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Natural Dyes for Wool, Step One

Almost looks like carrots with grey skin
Get yourself a good blender.  My husband says it should be a "pull-start" type.  I know he means a three-horse power one. Can you imagine three horses on your kitchen counter? And what in the world do horses and natural dyes have to do with each other?
About half full.

Alder, its leaves, catkins, and its bark are excellent for dying fiber, so  I've read. Come along on my journey of experimentation in dying wool with bark from my sister's cut-down Alder tree.  When it was first fell, it shocked us into doing something with the spectacular color.

Bark and wood chips.

The bark must be prepared, I understand.  Some directions said to soak it for three months, letting it ferment, as the first step.  I think the point is to get as much of the color as possible from the bark.  Well,  my "three horses" and I have a different and very possibly quicker plan tucked into the Things I get to do today.

Ground bark

Two batches of bark in the blender with about two cups of water in each for 20 seconds or so resulted in a fine "gravel" or coarse sand texture to the bark with lots and lots of color in the water.  Next stage is to let that sit for a week or so.  To be continued.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are They Spoiled Yet?

Monday's the day.  One o'clock is the time.  My local market prepares for my Hens (perhaps it should be all capital letters) a huge box of greens.  The market's lovely organic lettuces get tidied up and replenished everyday, and by one o'clock the trimmings and scraps are boxed and ready for me to pick up.  We (my hens) are so fortunate!

Finished bouquet for the chicken table
 that won't tip over.

There was a bit of magic in the Things I get to do today because an idea danced right out that hadn't shown itself before--a way to keep the lettuce leaves clean, fresh and inviting all day for the girls.

Quart plastic container on scrap
of shelving

Couple of short screws hold "vase"
to its "table"

Our usual routine is for me to toss out several handfuls of lettuces or greens. The chickens all come running, peck a bit or not, walk all over the treat and maybe wander off to something else in a few minutes.  By the time they come back, the greens are wilted.

The girls chow down on the "arrangement."

The magic looked much like a bouquet of lettuces.  Water in the bottom of the "vase" will keep it fresh until the top is pecked off. Not spoiled yet!

Monday, April 22, 2013

One Big Pinecone

Extremely hard and sharp "bristles" on this cone
Stop the car!  I got out and ran back because I knew one of the Things I get to do today is collect one of the dozens of huge pinecones by the road. We were driving in the San Bernardino Mountains a couple of weeks ago, and my eyeballs were peeled for anything extraordinary or unusual.  As I jumped back in the car, I held the biggest pinecone I'd ever seen. Extraordinary indeed!

It weighs well over a pound and stands nine inches tall.  Good friend Wiki tells me it is a Coulter Pine Cone and that my sample is small compared to the average.  They range in size from 8 to 16 inches and weigh from 2 to 5 pounds. Folks are advised to wear hardhats while working amongst these trees.  The cones nickname is "widow maker." We did comment at the time that if one of these fell on your head, it would do serious damage.
5" tall spice bottle

PS. Size comparison photos! Thanks, Julie, for the photo assist.
Served up on Lenox!  Get your fork ready.
Since the cone has dried out more and opened more,
it actually measures bigger than three weeks ago.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bee Box

Before: with 1x12 pine.  The red is propolis* left from the
first colony of honeybees.

The wood on the sides needs to be thicker.  I learned that after the first colony of bees didn't make it through the winter nearly a year and a half ago.  We think it was the cold.  1 x 12" pine lumber may not insulate enough to keep the bees alive when the temperatures really drop.

Cozy and clean and ready for a swarm
Building the top bar hive from plans took about a week in spare time.  I loved shaping the bars that hold the honey comb and the brood.  Fortunately, retrofitting the hive with another layer of 1x12 was a straightforward task of three hours because a whole week wasn't available.  The box now is nearly twice as heavy, but new occupants will be pleased, I think.

Top bars in place.
Honey Bee Things I get to do today include "torching" the inside of the hive to kill any possible micro-critters that may have bothered the bees.  All the last minute preparations for a new colony are complete except finding a place for the hive to "live."  The folks that gave me all the apples last year are my target.  I hope they say yes.

*Propolis is made by honey bees from tree buds, saps or other plant sources.  The bees use it to seal all the cracks in the hive.  They also strengthen the edges of the wax honeycomb with propolis making it strong enough to be "walked on" by all the hundreds of bees as they bring in the nectar.  Propolis is also an antimicrobial, dental antiplaque agent, and an antitumor growth agent.  In addition propolis can reduce by half the damage caused to chromosomes by ionizing radiation. Wikipedia 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Donk's Big Day

'94 Toyota still shiny red, mostly
Today was his birthday.  He turned (over) 100,000.  It happened up on the hill where Scholl's Ferry Road meets Oregon Highway 26.  Sylvan it's called. Donk, the little red pickup truck that mostly just sits in our driveway, partied  by driving with me out to the country to fetch a load of composted horse poo for my yard. Right after the signal and on the Highway 26 ramp, the last 9 disappeared.

Filled to level with heavy compost and hanging low
Donk has had experiences beyond my imagination. He was our daughter's main transportation through high school and college. How many of her friends learned to drive a stick-shift at Donk's expense we don't even want to know.  But he's survived thanks to several rather expensive overhauls to the engine and general working parts.  And, yes, twice rear-ending another car , each time totaling the sweet thing are part of his history as well.

As we drove through the spring showers to where fields were green, houses few, and horses romp, I thought of that line by Indian Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "It's not the years, it's the miles."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rosy Glasses of Spring

First apple blossoms on my baby tree.

The title really grabbed me:  Lost: One Pair of Rose Colored Glasses.  

This novella by fellow blogger, Amy Dingmann  (http://www.amydingmann.com), is sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for a stormy day so I'll stay out of the garden and read it.  In the mean time, I'm enjoying watching spring play with the title as I go about the garden Things I get to do today.
Dogwood's butterflies winging in the sun

Everywhere one looks Spring has displayed her optimism through rosy, pink flowers.

Cherry pompom

Love energy is pink. We are surrounded by its reassurance.  Spring has not lost her glasses.

Optimism at its best.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Year and Two Days

It took just over a year. I should be surprised it was that long. Rats are smart critters, and the local gang finally broken into our "rat-proof" chicken feeder.  The last two days they've been feasting there every time I glance out the window.

24-hour dinner table

With chickens around, rats are like first cousins, except closer.  Since hens are not thorough in getting every morsel of grain or feed set out for them, the frugal rats take care of any that is left behind. For that reason I built a giant bird feeder that rats could not climb up nor jump up into.

Plastic creates a "no-holds" area next the the feeder.  I will probably
need to cover a larger section of the screen soon.  Fast learners.

It took me two days to spot the rats' point of entry and to put the solution in Things I get to do today.  A large piece of plastic is now on the wall of the chicken coop.  The little critters have been climbing up the screen of the coop and jumping down and over into the hens' dinner table. The invitation to dine has been withdrawn.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Red, Yellow, and Blue

The blues have the blues

They were gorgeous.  Spring bouquets in the primary colors always take my breath away. Sold when the tulips are still closed, each flower warms to its new setting, opening a bit each day to enthrall with its charm. I'm such a sucker!

Three petals twisted and finished

The blue iris seems the least sturdy and begins to shrivel while the other flowers are still at their prime.  Planning how to keep the blue and the freshness of the arrangement was one of the Things I get to do today.  A little pair of scissors went snip, snip, snip.

Removing the twists freshens the whole arrangement

The iris are not their original selves, but with the wilted petals gone, they can hold their head high for another few days at least and do their most exquisite part to balance the bouquet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Potato Gets Naked

Naked Potato

It was a strip with no tease.  A sudden, muffled pumpfff came from the corner of the kitchen.  Investigation revealed the maker of the noise.  Just a  potato getting undressed.

Perhaps it was the potato's way of telling me it didn't want to be cooked in the microwave.  I should have known better.  Not too hard to guess what cleaning Things I get to do today!  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Success on the Window Sill

Rooted and roaring to go

It worked.  Well, part of the experiment worked.  The stalk did not grow roots or leaves, but the pretty green top grew the finest set of roots I ever seen. Even a wisdom tooth would be envious of these.
Before:  cut free of the shriveled neck but not
ready to quit.  Two months in water did the trick.

Around the first of February this blog described the demise of part of my dracaena plant.  One of the stalks just hung its head over and gave up.  The national/world news is bad, but not so awful as to cause house plants to throw in the towel.  I was certain that with a good dose water and hope that at least part of it would be willing to have another go at life.

Very short, but filled with hope and vitality

Now after two months, the rescued green top is filled with life and light and is going strong.  I've planted  this healthy top back in its pot with the taller brother and sister--so thrilled that this is one of the Things I get to do today.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Push Mower

Grass in our lawn never takes a vacation.  We went away, but the lawn stayed home, got drunk on rain and reached for the sky.  Well, seven inches is not the sky, but you know what I mean.
The power end of the mower

So as soon as it could be stuffed into the Things I get to do today, I mowed the lawn.  It was damp and supposed to rain. Tall grass is difficult.  Wet, tall grass is close to impossible.  And it did, indeed, rain.  But I've got one of those mowers that isn't broken unless I am.

Well-coated with long, wet grass

Trusty piece of equipment it is. Never runs out of gas, or oil, or breaks the starter cord, or has a dead battery, or picks up rocks or wire bits and hurtles them dangerously at the unsuspecting. Nope, this mower goes when I say go and stops when I need a rest. But mowing the lanky green was very hard work.  Fortunately, it's done now. The henny pennies have small mountains of clippings to hunt, peck and scratch through. In a few days, we'll cycle this job through the "get to do today" list to clean it up proper like when the rain takes a break. But for now the old push mower performed beautifully.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Welcomed Home

Callas greet with grace at the front door

Home feels good.  The welcoming committee of yard growies done good!

Blue Borage

Even though the back lawn has grown three inches too long to cut with the push mower and will be on tomorrow's Things I get to do today, all the plants and flowers got drunk on the abundant rain that fell while we were away and decided to throw a party for me.  It is glorious.

Rosemary's delicate dance
I'm wrapped in the surprise of
beauty around every corner on every plant.  I am home and I am loved.
Welcome Home!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mountain High

They are over 10,000 feet at the top. As I sorted through the Things I get to do today, finding my way into the high mountains felt like the best choice.  From the eastern edge of the L.A. Basin, the mountains rise up in a massive ridge across the northern skyline.

In less than an hour, we found our way from the 2100 ft. floor to over 8000 ft.  The temperature was 37 degrees, and snow hung in the shadows beside the road.  The air was clear, fresh, fragrant.  We followed a little road down to an area called Seven Oaks and explored a segment of the Santa Ana River.  Boulders delineating the parking area caught my attention.

Textures and lines

Shapes and squiggles

I've found my mountain high.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Work the Wind

One could get dizzy looking at them. Rows and rows of blades moving circularly rather blow the mind, so to speak. But it makes sense to use what is normally just a nuisance in this area--the wind. The turbines gather the winds. That work creates electricity.

I'm fascinated by the dancing patterns and documenting them will be part of The Things I Get To Do Today.