Posts Tagged With: garden


dsc08584-copyMy friend? No, a friend to everybody, Carol Flemming, held a bash at her house for her 75th birthday party. “My kids insisted on this party,” she told me. I totally understand that. The “kids” think you are on your last legs and counting when you reach 75.

dsc08596-copyI met Carol when I wrote features for the Calaveras Enterprise. It was 1982 and I featured her costume business, a unique and wonderfully creative business that is still going. Marti Oaks, right, with her son, worked for Carol and at one time lived in my Murphys house.

dsc08604-copyPat Patterson, right, also worked costume design. It was fun catching up with old friends.

dsc08629-copyI also got to meet Carol’s daughter, Liz, whom I’d never met before, along with her daughter, whose name I didn’t get.

dsc08599-copyCarol’s son Beau barbecued chicken and tri-tip. He, like his mom is a good cook. I’d met him when Carol had a restaurant in Arnold, the Froggy Diner. There is always cooking or a side business in Carol’s life.dsc08583-copyThere were her friends and neighbors of all ages. Names seem to float out of my brain. This woman, like me, is finding acreage hard to keep up and looking to downsize. I hear that more and more from people I know.

dsc08595-copyDale said she didn’t take good pictures, but I do. I thought her laugh made her beautiful. It turned out, she knows my brother Clark.

dsc08594-copyI finally got this little girl to smile for my picture. But she kept a protective closeness to her parents.

dsc08592-copyMy brother Clark was once a neighbor of Carol’s in Burson. This man remembered he and Clark fixing a bridge that went out, before CalTrans was even called.

dsc08606-copyThis woman too, talked to me at length of all the favors that Clark does for the neighbors. He helped with projects after her husband died, making her ever grateful.

dsc08614-copyThis couple also know Clark and talked about him and the neighborhood, and things they’ve done together.

dsc08609-copyAnother daughter, Mona and another grand daughter, I’d never met.

dsc08620-copyAnd, Carol’s daughter China Rose with her two girls. She also has two sons. I hadn’t seen China in over 17 years.

dsc08621-copyThe baby was determined to sleep, but China wanted her to stay awake for the long ride back to Santa Cruz. I remember those days.

dsc08615-copyCarol joined the kids in the pool for a cooling dunk. I love it when you get to enjoy your own party.

dsc08613-copyThis smart woman is a former daughter-in-law-still friends of the family. She gave me good advice about AirBnB…ideas have been floating through my brain all day.

dsc08602-copyThe woman in red, Cindy, I think, is an artist. I always complain I never have time to paint or create.  Her very good advice, “Make it your priority, first thing in the morning. Everything else can wait.”

dsc08612-copyA birthday surprise for Carol, her brother Willie flew in from Hawaii.

dsc08626-copyI tried to get a picture of everyone. And, I missed Phil, her husband, who was busy, busy, busy, tending the bar and keeping people happy. There is a pattern, here.

dsc08593-copyKids, babies, teens, middle agers, old folks…

You know what was different about this party?  I saw no one with their head down, texting and playing with their phone or messages or…whatever they do. That, my friends, is what was special about this birthday party. A rarity. And great fun.

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Let me set the stage. Jim and I were talking about going to daffodil hill, fifty miles away. Kautz Ironstone Winery does a great job with a daffodil show of their own. You walk their extensive gardens and view barrel after barrel of gorgeous flowers. Not only daffodils but tulips and pansies and hyacinths. They host a daffodil show, inside, which to me is less interesting than the gorgeous outside gardens.

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It was all the more enjoyable because the weather was perfect, but the flowers speak for themselves.

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Still, Kautz advertises this as a Daffodil Show. And people every year come from miles around to show off their efforts.

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In one area undercover, but out-of-doors, is a contest of daffodil bouquets. Kind of reminds me of place settings at the County Fair. They are interesting.

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This particular setting won a silver bowl.  Suffice it to say, there is a lot to see if you decide to attend next year.

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Again, setting the scene, this is the daffodil show room. Their placement and how they are judged is for you to see by attending. I question how anyone can choose one daffodil over another since they are all  beautiful and here you find perfection.

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For a more complete view of his lovely place, you can click on my album to view many more pictures: A full screen slide show is gorgeous.




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I like to walk, at least three times a week. Especially when I’m working on my taxes and the beautiful weather right now calls me. About a half mile from my house is a vineyard all scraggly in winter, with the hills in the background.

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I always carry my camera, hoping to spot a bird, like Jim did yesterday from the Motor Home window. I was attracted to the undergrowth of tiny purple flowers.

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The vines are fenced. I couldn’t get close enough to really see the blossoms, but as I closed in with my lens I realized the vines are pretty fascinating without their leaves.

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I wish my berry plants behaved as well. I lost my thornless raspberries to the Old Gulch Fire created drought. Our water comes from the flume and the flume burned and we had water rationing. Goodbye berries. They are staked but not quite like grapes.

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Quite a canopy.

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Returning, I realized I hadn’t taken pictures of my daffodils. Since hooking up with Jim, I’m often gone when they bloom and the recent rain brought them out in gushes. Pretty. They look a lot better than my taxes.


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The best foods in the world are herbs, as it turns out. If you are interested they are turmeric, sage, marjoram,cinnamon, oregano, pepper,cloves and then a mixture of Jamaican spices and a mixture of Italian spices, under what name and brand, I’ve promptly forgotten. Then following the herbs are ginger root, and honey. Maybe they should be the best foods in the world for your health. I’m not sure who decided these things but they make for a god-awful breakfast.

I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve  eaten grubs, ants, grasshoppers, snake, rat and other weird fare. The difference is, I don’t eat them as a steady diet.

The foods on this best foods list are purported to have healing qualities, and are  therefore recommended as a preventive. Despite my upcoming carotid surgery, even my surgeon agrees I have a healthy diet and have exceptionally good health. But, it isn’t the grasshoppers, or grubs. I do faithfully eat five to seven fruits and vegetables each day. I enjoy unsalted brown rice with sea weed and whole grain breads and cereals.

And, according to some of my friends, I have bizarre taste. I happen to love parsley in my unsweetened, whole grain cereal every morning. I clip it with a scissors and I l\enjoy the texture and the taste. I know, everyone thinks it is strange.

My sister and I were discussing bizarre eating habits in our family. She claims she loves pickle relish with potatoes and gravy. She also likes sliced cooked potatoes with raw onion and baloney in a sandwich with plenty of  mayo.  We normally don’t tell anyone what strange stuff we eat. One of my brothers eats pickled pigs feet every day and happily devours the cartilage around the ends of chicken bones. Whose to say what foods are right or wrong? A friend of mine eats sweet pickle and peanut butter sandwiches. And, my brother who lived many years in Alaska, developed a taste for whale blubber.

But, this guy, Andrew Zimmern, roams the earth to taste things like dung beetles, tarantulas, scorpions, and rooster testicle soup. He is the host of the travel channels Bizarre Foods.

Here he is shown with withered frogs. He reminds people that most of his programs are devoted to all the wonderful foods you see only in other cultures, many of them poor countries, where absolutely nothing goes to waste. Like in Bolivia where an old women with nothing but an oil can for a kiosk, serves thinly sliced calves liver that barely touches a hot grill. She adds a homemade sauce with peanuts, chili, garlic and vinegar. People stand in line for it because it is ridiculously good. He thinks Americans are squeamish and afraid to eat little fish with the heads on them, and chickens feet. It bugs him that the hot dog and hamburger are king.

We are so fortunate to have great food, wholesome and clean. And, we can enjoy the health benefits of herbs and spices as well and make lovely dishes if we just step up to diversity.

I’m appreciative that my parents never introduced us to fast food nor soft drinks. We ate close to the garden, what was in season, whatever was available. I cringe when I see a cooking show and the participants leave half the tomato sauce in the can, they don’t scrape or rinse every bit out. We didn’t waste.  My father was a survivalist and I like to think I’m a survivor, no matter what happens in this economy. I could live off what I can find in my yard. Thinly, but I could do it with a couple of chickens and a goat.

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Pictures I’ve been taking lately have been lousy. Since I have a brand new camera, an exact replacement of the one I had, I couldn’t figure it out. The pictures are mushy, slightly out of focus. I have one disadvantage. I can read the small booklet that comes with the camera, but I cannot play the CD that goes into the advanced features. I’ve held to auto-focus, which is what I use most anyway. I took test photos around the house and yard and I threw out most of  them. The one above is not enhanced in any way and turned out well.

Nor was this one of my newly cleaned purse enhanced. It occasionally turns into a rat’s nest, somehow.

This one was blurry-still is. I had to enhance it  by saturating the color and cropping.

I did the same with this brave seedling starting life on a log, although, it could have stood alone. I liked it better cropped tighter and saturated a bit.

Then I got to playing around and turned this rather dull photo of plants against my brick wall with a reflective picture in the background into a pen and ink drawing. All with the magic of Picasa. It isn’t a great photo, either, but it is an interesting editing feature.

This tulip hadn’t bloomed in several years. It liked the strange rain pattern we’ve had this year. It turned out okay.

This Iris was gorgeous, not that the photo showed what my eyes saw.

This daffodil is a perfect specimen, but juxtaposed against a huge tree and distant background,  it seems to float as though it was pasted onto a drawing.  The light was weak and overhead and doesn’t illuminate the flower. Composition can make or break the photo.

In among the weeds, bright calendulas were hidden.

I concluded that the camera isn’t at fault. It is the photographer, that’s me,  who should  take  more thoughtful time to get decent pictures. Maybe the best part of my camera test was getting outside and enjoying my yard for a half hour. Or, as in the photo above,  just looking at everyday objects around the house from a different perspective.

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I’d forgotten about Halloween until I saw the date on my computer. On our rural road, a trick-or-treater is a rarity. In 33 years, I’ve had six kids, three one year, and three another year, begging for treats. School parties are popular and safer anyway. But, those people living in a house-to-house neighborhood enjoy the fun. This weight guessing contest was set up at our local grocery store. I noticed yesterday it had been moved. I’ll have to go into town and see if I won the guess.

Happy Halloween to you and yours.  In its celebrated form in the USA, it has transformed to a  purely North American fun night without it’s original pagan dark side. My youngest daughter was an exchange student to France during her high school years and enjoyed teaching her French family how to carve a  jack-o-lantern.  With youngsters still at home, the carving, decorating, costuming and begging treats has become, for all of my grandkids, their second favorite holiday.

Yesterday, I spent time in the yard, enjoying the soon to be gone sunny days.

This fuji was past prime  by the time I got off the road. Some cling, looking soft and rotten.

This heritage  Northern Spy, is crisp and good. Keeping in tune with the autumn days, sunny and warm with cold nights.

Foraging in my neighbors garden, some fresh basil, tomatoes, one zucchini, and an eggplant. Enjoying what we can as long as it lasts.

I harvested my walnuts for the first time in seven years. A balance of nature took all the squirrels away. I expect red tail hawks got everyone. In the past, a woman asked me what was growing on my trees. She had never seen walnuts grow. They have a husk, which dries out and the nuts free fall to the ground.

Some primal feeling of comfort envelopes me when I harvest these portions of my own food.

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