Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hoop and Pole

On May 4th, 2013, my youngest son's preschool will hold Carnival, a big spring fundraiser for his school at Sierra Vista Park in Sierra Madre, a classic spring celebration with popcorn, games, petting zoo and pony rides. Carnival also houses a booth of handmade items. Each family attending the preschool is required to donate an item each year.

This year, I was inspired by my mother and the simple "hoop and pole". My mom volunteers at the Simi Valley Historical Society. Together with her friend and fellow docent Rosey, my mom gives presentations about the Chumash tribes that used to live in Simi Valley. The hoop and pole was a classic toy given to Chumash boys to help develop hand-eye coordination for hunting. These hoop and poles are for boys, girls and adults. Hunting entirely optional. A simple fun game that seems to occupy many around this house for long stretches of time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hand Stacked Yard Rubble into Reading Bench

I wanted to plant some Barbecue rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbecue') in the yard. The bush typically grows 4-6 feet with hearty branches that can be used for barbecue skewers. I imagined it would go in the front planter beds to double as delicious and ornamental. I realized it would be quite sweet next to the steps Eric made years ago when our older son was just a toddler, who witnessed the entire project from the dirt narrating with hand gestures, "Scoop it up. Dump it." 

A gap between the stairs and wall needed to be retained to make a proper planter bed area. So I followed Eric's lead and built a dry stack wall/reading bench to close the gap. I used yard detritus of broken concrete and brick and carefully selected pieces for balance. 

I back filled the area and used dirt and sand on hand to help secure the rocks. All for the love of rosemary. Fingers crossed now I remember to water and that it stays protected from the fleet footed dog.

After finishing this project, I went to the canyon with kids and parents for a day out. Two young men were camping next to where we set up our day camp. One of the guys filled the canyon with these amazing rock sculptures delicately balanced throughout the canyon.

I had such respect for his work.

Some reminding me of a more rugged Brancusi sculpture.

I returned to the canyon a week later with a better camera in hopes of getting clearer pictures with better light. Each sculpture was gone, returned to the rock pile below. But for a moment, the rocks were rearranged, reaching up and upright.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Changes

Spring is humming in Southern California. The blue ceanothus blossoms are thick with bees in search of pollen. After the loss of our bees and the subsequent swarm at a friend's house, shaken into a box and relocated here, we are back to two hives thanks to an additional swarm that simply moved into a prepped hive Eric had readied and placed empty on our property. Although I've heard bees do this and even heard fellow Backwards Beekeepers give sworn testament that it has happened to them, I had my doubts we'd have the luck for it to happen to us. But there they were. In the hive. Busy. Buzzing. Doing the work that bees do. It was like finding a wrapped present left on your doorstep containing exactly what you hoped for in your most delicious daydreams.

With spring comes extreme hair. After over a year of repeated requests by the boys for mohawks, Eric pulled out the clippers and granted their wish.

And my youngest son sports some facial least for a brief time. A distinguished gentleman to be sure.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yellow-rumped Warbler at Rest

A Yellow-rumped Warbler carrion at my youngest son's preschool. The beauty of something so delicate and your hands. An exquisite experience. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tomato Starts in My Kitchen

I have aspirations to grow great tomatoes, thick heirloom slicers and rich San Marzanos for canning. To date, my greatest success has been the small cherry tomatoes, sadly, not a favorite of my home-sharing posse. Thanks to a gift subscription to Mother Earth News from my mother-in-law, I read a great article in the January 2013 issue, "Best Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors" and put the tips to the test. The result is a lovely crop of tomato starts: San Marzanos; the heirlooms: Persimmon, deep orange and reportedly sweet; Black Krim, a "black" tomato from the Russian Black Sea area; & Costoluto, a traditional red slicer from Italy. I will transplant these into larger containers, let them recuperate, then harden them off before planting them outside.

Glancing at my notebook, I found this passage written on 1.19.13, when I first planted the seeds, a collection from Renee's Seeds called Heirloom Summer Feast:
I love the description Heirloom Summer Feast. I imagine a deliciously hot summer, the heat breaking in the early evening, perhaps salty skin recently returned home from the beach. Smiles. Lethargic limbs happily made tired from an ocean swim. A pitcher of lemonade, ice clanking on the sides, fresh mint swirling. A plate of tomatoes, the orange persimmons, the beefy red of the Costoluto and the dark purple of the Black Krim, sliced evenly on a plate, a drizzle of olive oil, crunchy salt flakes and a bit of pepper.
Please grow.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tree House Humble Beginnings

Eric took boys, wood, screws and nails and constructed this tree platform in our pepper tree. The boys have a special password, whoever gets there first is the keeper of the gate.

A simple place. Simply wonderful.

Other updates. Lots of gardening. This is an active time for the Southern Californian gardener. I sowed some Eschscholzia californica aka California poppy anticipating tomorrow's rain. And finally got a succulent garden planted. To date, I've gardened most of my succulents in pots. I look forward to watching the growth. In the tree house. In the ground.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back in Beesness!

Thanks to a wonderful friend and a recent swarm at her home, we are back in bees! The swarm was captured by Steve of Bee Catchers and delivered to our door. I was with the dog at the vet. Eric took the bees and dumped them into our hive. He poured them a plateful of honey in the top feeder instead of using sugar water. After almost a week, I'm happy to say the bees are still here. I was watching them leave and return with legs packed with pollen.

I'm still on the look out for another swarm. I would like to capture it myself. We'd like to have two hives to insure ourselves from being beeless in the future.

Thanks so much to Jackie for the swarm and Steve for the hive capture and delivery. We are so grateful & very happy to be back in bees.