My Wild Weekend (not)

Somebody asked when I got to work this morning if I did anything wild over the weekend. As for me a wild weekend is going to a plant sale, I just laughed. Then, I thought about it, and yeah, I sort of did have a wild weekend, if you count smuggling alcohol in to my mom. Her caregiver disapproves of alcohol and frowns on it if she has a glass. My sister told me she’d mentioned that she’d like a glass. Mom has been feeling out of control and anxious lately and thought a glass of wine might help her unwind a little. So I decided to pick up a bottle and take it with lunch on Sunday. I was all prepared to talk her into it. Turned out there was no coercion necessary. Preparation in the form of a corkscrew would have been a little more useful. I ended up pushing the cork in with a screwdriver. Such sophistication.

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My sister texted me Sunday afternoon to tell me about something she saw on television. That’s not a usual thing. We might talk about things we watch in person, but nothing else. But this was pretty weird. She was watching a show and graffiti in the background was my name plus my husband’s name. It wouldn’t be so strange, except that my first name is pretty unusual. I’ve run into people with my name two or three times, but never seen it anywhere else. To see it in conjunction with my husband’s name kind of freaked me out.

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What little time I spent in the yard this weekend I mostly spent admiring the flowers. Most of the spring flowers are at peak bloom right now.

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I’d be happier if I saw more bees. Between the drought and the decision by most cities not to water the landscape, the bee population is greatly reduced. Good intentions with unintended consequences. My front yard is covered with flowers right now. This weekend I went out there and there were two bees. Two. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to convince me that the problem is not not enough water, but too many humans.

Mom and me cooking club failure

We had our first failure at the Mom and Me cooking club this weekend. A totally inedible, throw them in the trash failure.

Mom picked this recipe for us to make. It sounded good. A little sweet, a little savory. They looked just like the picture from the recipe before they went in the oven. When they came out of the oven, all of the cheese had melted out of the apricots and burned. Each piece was sitting in a puddle of charred cheese. I’m kind of thinking that the temperature in the recipe (425F for 15 – 20 minutes) is a mistake. 225 until warmed through seems like it might be a more reasonable instruction. But I’m not that good a cook. I generally make things by the book the first time around. I don’t get creative with recipes until I’ve made it once and have some idea of what I’m doing. On the plus side, I now have some mascarpone and some ricotta and I think some manicotti is in the future.

Spent most of Saturday potting up succulents. I have a hard time matching the plant to the pot sometimes. I got several nice pots from Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria. They had both long tom pots and shallow terra cotta pots. It’s hard to find anything ordinary pots at the local nurseries, so when the opportunity comes around I try to stock up. I’ve had several glazed pots that I got just because I liked them, but hadn’t put anything in them. I did my best at matching the needs of the plant to the pot. I’ve had some trouble with root rot this year because of the rains. The way my yard is set up it gets shade in the winter and sun in the summer. Not an ideal situation.

It was a beautiful day for working in the yard Saturday. Not too hot. Had several butterflies hanging around for most of the day. A couple of large monarchs floated around.

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And a less countable number of gulf fritillaries. They move so fast.

First Fritillary

The fritillary larvae are all over the place. Most of the passionflower vines that come up all over from seed are chewed leafless. I’m always tempted to put a bunch of them in my bug jar, but I’ve been resisting. The yard can only support so many, so I’ve been letting nature decide how many I have. I let all of the passion flower vine and milkweed that sprouts grow, despite the fact that they don’t add to the aesthetics of yard, being perpetually caterpillar eaten.

It’s funny how I can work in the yard all day and no one but me can tell the difference.

The Endless To-Do List

I have been trying to get tasks done. I’ve actually been able to mark a few things off. I finally re-potted the reed orchids. They’ve been on the list for months. I’m trying to get some yard work done every day.

I re-potted a bunch of my succulents in ridiculously oversized pots. But I had two plants that were the same size when I bought them, put one in a large pot and the other in a small one. The one in the large pot is easily five times the size of the one in the small pot. So I’m hoping the small succulents in the big pots will fill in as quickly as the other one did.

We must have had a monarch come through. I had a bunch seedlings of butterfly weed coming up in several places around the yard. Almost every one of them has been totally stripped of leaves. I found a small monarch caterpillar on the wall out front when I was raking leaves, so I took it and put it on one of the few plants that still had leaves. That’s the price I willingly pay to have butterflies in the yard – ugly plants with holes in the leaves.

I’ve decided to put a variety of succulents down at the base of the pillar on patio. We have the hops in there now and I didn’t want to crowd them, but they’re not doing that great and I want something more attractive there. I can take cuts of several kinds of succulents and put them in there and they’ll fill in. That actually might work in a couple of places in the yard. The trick is keeping Spud out of any newly planted areas. Being bigger than he used to be, he’s more adept, using that word loosely, at getting over the brick edging. I’m surprised he doesn’t turn himself over more often than he has. He has to get into everything and always wants to see what you’re doing. In case you drop something delicious, of course. Which happens with enough regularity to reinforce the behavior.

I’ve started a bunch of wildflowers in pots on a table next to my chair. I figure that way I won’t forget to water them. Give them a strong start and then put them all around the yard and start a new batch.

And getting any or all of this stuff done doesn’t even touch the housework to-do list. Auuugghh! Deep breath. Pick one thing and get it done. You never have everything all done at once.

Animal depredations

I was reading today in It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening’s blog about issues with wildlife. It reminded me of the issues we have with our yard.

We have our own squirrel issues. It does not, thus far, bother with the bird feeders. We only put thistle seed out and I don’t know if they’re worth the effort. It has, however, been systematically raiding my macadamia nut tree.

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My husband thinks I should just let it be, but I don’t think he knows that it will strip the tree before any of them are ripe.

I also have problems with a fertilizer eater, except it’s not wildlife. Spud, my red-footed tortoise (captive bred) thinks that my organic fertilizer is tortoise candy and will eat any I put around the plants underneath the compost in the fall. He also has a taste for my sneakers.

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There are occasional forays by racoons, but they mostly eat the fish out of the pond. I stopped buying expensive koi and started buy feeder goldfish at a twenty five cents each. Much more economical and I don’t end up heartbroken when my favorite butterfly koi disappears.

It’s the little things

So the Wonderful Spouse got caught up in my attempts to straighten the house for Mom’s visit and when he came home for lunch further straightened and put stuff away. One thing he did brought tears to my eyes.

My Mom saves her newspaper for us to line the nest boxes in the chicken coop. We had a couple of broken eggs a while back and decided that switching to artificial grass in hopes that we would lose fewer eggs to breakage. We don’t have to replace it, just rinse it off, let it dry and put it back. I haven’t been able to tell my Mom that I don’t need the newspaper anymore because she’s been interested in the project from the beginning and seems to like donating to the cause.

When the Spouse came home from work, in addition to everything else, he lined the coop with newspaper and left the eggs for Mom to see. He knew that I wanted to show Mom the girls at their best and to show her that her support is appreciated. It’s the little things that mean the most in the long run.

Eggs for dinner

I realize that I’ve gone a little eggy here, but I really can’t help it. We’re starting to get enough of them now that we actually have to come up with ways to use them. On Christmas I wanted to make deviled eggs to take to the family gathering but I didn’t realize how hard they would be to peel. The couple we did were no appetizing at all. They ended up being deviled egg sandwiches the next day.

At least four of the girls are laying now. So figuring out what to do with them is going to be ongoing. I spent quite a while looking up eggs for dinner recipes. These are what I’ve found so far:

Hash brown frittata
Regular frittata
Scalloped potatoes with bacon and eggs
Eggs poached in marinara sauce over pasta
Egg quesadilla
Egg over polenta
Poached eggs on toast w/avocado
Huevos Rancheros
Scrambled Egg tacos
Bacon and Egg Strata

The way I’m eating now (Fast 5) eggs are going to be a big part of what I eat. And if the garden is successful this year, mainly if I can keep the chickens from eating it first, we can have a significant portion of our food come from our own tiny yard. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can get done with what we have.