Sunday, June 30, 2013

Neglect of Last Season = Abundant Harvest

12 Bundles of Garlic tied and ready to dry
I meant to get to it sooner. By the time Things I get to do today included harvesting garlic last summer, the tops had not only died back, but were hard to find. Without them flagging me to the precious heads, I found myself fumbling amongst the strawberry plants rather pathetically. Maybe two cups of cloves and heads were all I could come up with.

Someone had told me that garlic and strawberries go together--not on the table, but in the garden. In redoing a narrow flower bed, I found an area where the bulblets on a garlic scape had dropped to the soil and sprouted all together. Carefully I dug them. Carefully I planted them, neatly between the plants in the newly renovated strawberry bed. And then sadly I had not followed through to harvest.

Garlic in the tool shed for a couple of weeks.
Yesterday, in the short span of morning cool, I went to weed the strawberry beds. The hidden garlic of last season had sprouted, grown tall, and was already lying over, partly dried. It may have been a bit early, but along with the weeds, I dug and pulled up all the garlic.

MaryJanes Farm Magazine from October/November 2010 had a terrific article on how to care for, dry and store garlic. Just exactly what I was needing. When I finished the project, I was stunned: twelve bundles of garlic heads tied together and hung up to dry for two or three weeks. I'll save the bulblets on the stems (they look like knobby knees on a stick figure) to plant in the fall for another bumper crop. All this from the neglect of last summer.  I am blessed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Heart Beats Fast

The blossoms did it.  The sight of the fruit does it, too.  I'm nearly in a swoon.

The first of Things I get to do today is take my share of these beautiful cherries.  The birds have already gobbled the Bings from the central leader of the tree (it is grafted with five different cherries).  Next year I'm faster and smarter.  For now I have a photo on which my soul can feast and my heart can pick up speed.  I love this tree.
Race, heart, race.  Lapin Cherries.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Forever Young

She's a beauty again.  How many years since she looked vibrant, I have no idea.  It has taken over a year of focused shaping and pruning by my Yard Wizard to bring her back to glory.  Dame Apple is young again.

In the beginning--February 2012--covered with Ivy
and not yet in leaf.  Is there really an apple tree in that mound?

For the thirty-five years we've lived next to her, the apple tree has always look like a mound of green garbage.

Ivy and Nightshade removed.

A grant from the city to restore native plants started the clean-up process.  That's when Yard Wizard took on the challenge.

Happily shaped and blooming last spring

She responded well to every step of the rejuvenation.

Perhaps someday the Things I get to do today will include finding out what kind of apple tree she really is.

New plantings of native trees surrounding her at the base, Dame Apple glows with new life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Looks Like She's In

They'll never tell her their most private secrets.  She won't be asked to chant "Say, Say O Playmate" with the rest of the girls.  Lena Horne Hen still gives her an occasional bit of extra exercise escaping a sharply aimed beak fueled by an old grudge.  But somehow in the great chicken social hierarchy, Violet has slid between the bars of exclusion.

The very next of Things I get to do today is email this picture  to her former owner to let her know that for all practical purposes, Ms. Violet is in.

Violet in the foreground, accepted as much as she probably ever will be.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sweet Violet

It just wasn't meant to be.  Chickens cannot behave like anything other than what they are.  This close knit clutch of girls are a seemingly impenetrable clique.  Sweet as Violet is, she will never be a member of the club.  That's just the way it is with chickens.
Shy Violet keeping her distance

In Violet's previous home, one of her sisters turned mean and aggressive toward her.  Her hen-tender mamma thought it best to send Violet to a new home.  I agreed to let her try out my flock to see if Violet would be better off here.  I wasn't thinking.  I know that moving the aggressor hen is a better idea.

Poor, shy, beaten-up Violet moved in a day ago with my gang of rough gals who are not shy about beating her up to keep her poor.  I sent a message to Violet's hen-tender mom that tonight would be a good time to come and rescue her Sweet Violet.

But now I'm not so sure.  I just came in from the hen pen.  All the hens, including Violet, were together with about two feet between them.  They were ignoring her.  I opened up the upper bank area for the girls to forage.  The gang ran up the bank to peck and scratch.  Violet stood still for a bit and shot off after them.  She suddenly came to her senses and stopped just short of the closest hen.  And then she made her way carefully to her own spot to scratch, got the leaves out of the way, and found a juicy worm that took two swallows to get down.  Let's give it another day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Between the Honeysuckle and the Jasmine

Is that not heaven? And what a place to find oneself, feathered by a delicate, drifting air current ladened now with honeysuckle and now with jasmine. As I sit in the afternoon sun, basking in my good fortune, I know heaven will look and smell like this.

Later, as the Things I get to do today have wound down, and we sit by the fire as the sun sets, the fragrance of heaven mixes with the smell of smoke. I'm sure there's an analogy here someplace, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Best of the Beets

Best of the beets

My nose carries me away.  Over and over a sweet fragrance in the garden derails all the other Things I get to do today. How could one know that this innocent, dark red vegetable, wintered over and going to seed, was part of the conspiracy to make me forget the task at hand? 

One garden bed still held the remains of last season.  For weeks I'd promised the "Fortex" pole beans that it was their turn to be planted.  But their ground space was full of wheat and beets gone to bolt.  Reaching down to pull them out brought me to realize that the honeysuckle-like scent was just an ordinary beet putting on its best.

Elegant as well as fragrant

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Could Pass for a Raspberry

A hen can fly straight up.  How high she can go depends on the raspberries.  Fortunately, our raspberry canes this year are lush and loaded, with huge green leaves sheltering the fruit from the up-turned eyes of four chickens.  Get a bead on a berry, and they go straight up.

Mostly the girls occupy themselves during the day with whatever is directly in front of them as they drift like sheep around and around their spacious hen pen.  But as the first of the morning Things I get to do today, I'm gathering fruit for our breakfast, and the lovelies hang right at my feet, well trained in the knowing that berries slip from my fingers.  An intermittent flattering of wings tells me one of them spied an accessible treat and has flown three feet or more straight up to grab it.  Shooing them away is futile, and I realize they really deserve all they can reach.  After all it was their scratching, their fertilizing, their picking off bugs that has made the berry patch seven feet tall with all the berries as big as my thumbs.
Could pass for raspberries in the eyes of a hen.

Two minutes later it seemed one of the hens was walking on my exposed toes (flip flops are my default garden wear).  A glance down told the story: it was a sharp beak pecking at my toes.  Raspberry toenail polish can fool even a clever hen.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Runnering a Sweater

It began as a sweater, part of a sweater actually.  This is the story of the final project laid into my hands to be finished in memory of the work Karen had begun, worked many hours on, and then departed, leaving partial garments to be morphed into something else, perhaps.

Joyous sunflowers were so like Karen.  The back of this sweater had four of these giant flowers on it.  It was complete.  One side of the front was knit far enough up to hold a completed sunny face.  From that group of glories, and with the idea of making a runner for the back of a couch, the back was cut right down the middle (after securing the yarn with two rows of stitching by machine).  The seed stitch ribbing was placed on the ends, and the front flower was inserted into the middle.  A simple textured silk fabric in tans and browns was used to line the back.

I can feel Karen's relief in the completion of this work as it is knit into the Things I get to do today.  She is not displeased over its new purpose.  And she is delighted beyond words that it is going to Cal.

This work will be gifted to one of Karen's friends who is allergic to wool and who always
admired the vibrance of Karen and her halo of reddish, golden, sunflower-like hair.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cast On, Knit Some, Cast Off

Purple nail polish helps round out the art of wearing
a proper cast.

All puns intended,  I have the "cast on" covered.  It's done.  A close friend and fellow knitted wondered after hearing of my slight but impeding wrist incident whether or not I could knit.

 Following the medical folks' suggestion, I decided to rest the general area and not attempt to knit immediately after getting the cast.  But a week or so ago, I grabbed some needles and a "beloved-Karen-now-departed" knitting project.  Found out it certainly could be done.

Lovely pattern on the body.
Sleeve cuff being ribbed.
Karen's years of eager knitting produced an abundance of gorgeous sweaters.  After her passing, some of her friends sorted through her stash of yarn, her knitting projects yet to be completed and the sweaters and parceled them out as generously as possible.  A lovely Icelandic sweater went to a dear friend in Seattle.  Inquiry revealed that she couldn't really wear it since the sleeves were too long.  Making "short work" of the sleeves was my knitting project--the test of whether or not my hand could knit from its place inside the cast.

So cast on, I gave it a whirl.  There is no photo to prove the results, but the Seattle friend reports that she is now enjoying the sweater from the "inside out," that the sleeves work, and that snug cuffs make it a perfect length.
The joy and results of not being "normal"

With the laboratory demonstration complete, it is time.   This Thursday "cast off" will be first of the Things I get to do today.