Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You say potato

Here is the perfect stone tablet! rock to paint my house numbers on.  I am sorry to say that I inherited a genetic obsession with rocks, which I will someday explain.  I found this one while jeeping up in the mountains.  

Another day, another jeep ride.

A little while ago I had two dying trees taken out of my front yard and the raw empty space reveals more of my neighbors' ghetto tin-roofed side yard than I wish to look at,  so I decided to fill in the hole with a Western Redbud, which I have always loved.  When I was a child we had a beautiful redbud in  the front yard and also, they are hardy natives which shouldn't require much water after a few years; which is important  because the drip system doesn't go that far.  I showed the newly bare spot to the Jeepster and told him how I had decided on a redbud as just the right size and shape for the space.  Several times he said "redwood" and I said "no, redBUD", and then I forgot about it.

Like this

When we were jeeping up in the hills I pointed out many pretty wild Western Redbud trees and he agreed it was a graceful and lovely plant, and then I forgot about it.

Tuesday was my birthday (I know, right?) and I celebrated by accompanying Lillian to the dentist and doing a little organizing in the garage.   The birthday fairy has jury duty but dropped by with a gift and imagine my acute surprise when wedged in the front seat of the Jeep I found a four foot high redwood tree.  

Maybe not so much

Any of you remember the Bob Newhart Show?  It was one of my all-time favorite series.  Well, remember when Bob gave Emily a blenderizer for her anniversary present?  Uh-oh!  They built a half-hour episode around his failure to understand that a blenderizer is not what she had in mind as a romantic gesture.  Sure, I covet diamonds but deep down I'm really a blenderizer girl--some of my most loved gifts have been a lawnmower, a Meyer Lemon tree, my MacBook Pro, and for this birthday, a very timely gas water heater.

Because my little house sits on a fifth of an acre in the middle of town.  Where you just might expect to see a pretty little Western Redbud Tree.  The other option might solve the ghetto tin-roofed side yard problem, though.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spider redux

I suppose it was just a matter of time.  I needed to replace a lightbulb out by the garage, but being too short to accomplish this chore without a stepladder, I asked Lillian to do it.  While she was busy being tall and useful she came face to face with, ah yes, a really big spider, crouching on an eave, no doubt waiting for one of us to leave a door or window open to the pleasant autumn weather so he could sneak into my house.

Faithful readers will recall that I have a Hatfields-and-McCoys relationship with the creatures who share my property.  Here's the deal, nature: I pay the mortgage, so I get to decide who comes in and who stays out.  My cats come in; their cats stay out.  My kids come in; traveling salesmen stay out.  The occasional burglar comes in without my permission; and so do random spiders, lizards, snakes, and bees. [My grandma kept a little window open year round so her cat Scrapper could come and go and at one point a large, nasty--and evidently unwell--opossum clambered in and subsequently died in her back hall.  Gaaah.  Maybe because her house was fully paid for?]

Anyway you will also recall that I described my children as weenie cowards afraid of spiders.  They all are.  After much discussion, and providing Little Miss Muffett with a flyswatter, flipflop and broom, she managed to gently nudge the spider into a crack, annoying him (and me) in the process and convincing him that his next move should definitely be straight into my house so he could bite and paralyze us while we sleep.  It took another twenty minutes and threats of fetching the stepladder so I could dispatch him by myself, but she managed (while screaming) to knock him to the driveway where I sent him straight to hell with the flipflop.  I have almost no sense of balance and stepladders and I are not friends or I would have done the whole operation without help.

When it comes to swatting spiders you can't overthink it.  See it--kill it--apologize to Buddhists later.  I Googled spiders just now and decided that this beast (a homeboy of the monster who came in last winter) was  probably an innocent-sounding "house spider" which certainly sounds like he is genetically designed to live cozily in my underwear drawer but makes me sure that Darwin was wrong about one or two things.  And if you want to creep yourself out entirely, spend a few moments googling "spider" so you can see hundreds of pictures of spiders on the computer screen and can spend the next hour trying to get all your flesh to unclench from around your neck.  Sweet dreams!

Post-mortem:  In all fairness, Lillian has a skill far more valuable than spider slaying.  She is an unsurpassed sparkly thing finder.  This morning I discovered one mortgage-payment, girls-best-friend earring was not in its ear-hole--and of course I had just been outside stuffing tree branches into the green can (yes I know better and am generally very careful about those earrings, but the urge to stuff just came over me when I went out to get the Sunday paper.) As I was digging desperately through my pillows and blankets she pounced right on the earring, twinkling on the carpet by my bed.  My daughter the magpie.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Divine intervention fail

Early yesterday I discovered that tomato hornworms, the terrible swift sword of the gardening world,  had eaten all the leaves off my yellow cherry tomato plant.  That plant represents fifty percent of my tomato crop, or more accurately, all of it.  The other cherry tomato plant is just, well, a plant.  No tomatoes.  The yellow one yielded about twenty fruit this summer.  We bought baskets of delicious tomatoes at the farmers market all summer to actually eat, while I religiously watered my crop but harvested almost nothing.

This worm is a model.  My worms are scrawny and not photogenic. You see the part on the right that looks like a little pony face?  That's his arse.  He's destroying my dreams with his other end.

I have poor luck with gardens.  This year, I prefer to think the problem was not enough sun.  I used a half barrel on the back patio, on the north side of the house, where it is shady too much of the day.  Of course I know vegetable gardens like sunshine (although even when I planted in full sun I only got a handful of produce all season. )  The red cherry is in one of those ridiculous Topsy-Turvy planters which by design has to hang from something and thus is also in the shade.   I planted a zucchini too but each little infant squash turns yellow and shrivels up when it gets about two inches long.

Some people hate vegetables--but it appears that vegetables hate me.

 The farmers market folks have the knack; I am not one of them.  Yet.

I do get lots of basil by trimming about half the leaves every week and laying them out on newspaper to dry; with plenty left to put in everything I cook except coffee.  I also have a very happy thyme plant (happy thyme; haha) that generously provides fragrant thyme leaves all year long, and more oregano  (a rampant weed) than anyone could possibly use. How much Italian food can anyone eat?  Herbs are less fussy than vegetables.

Google Images helped me out here.  But mine looks almost this good.

When the basil gives up and the planter dries out, possibly making it light enough to move,  I'll drag it over to the sunnier side of the patio and maybe next year something will decide to produce.  All I want in life (well, that's not really all I want, but you know what I mean) are the sweet wonderful tomatoes my dad grew and we ate all summer long.  He made it look so easy.  But how?

Late yesterday the phone rang and when I answered, a familiar voice said, hi, it's your dad!  For a brief moment I thought it really was my dad, calling from Heaven to explain how to grow perfect tomatoes.  But then I realized in horror that he might be calling with less desirable news, like maybe my meter had run out and it was time to...ahh...go home.

 Hey wait--no tomato advice?  Is this how it ends?

Here I am discovering that I might never grow decent tomatoes.   

After a quick metaphysical adjustment, I reminded my ex-husband that he was not my dad, Lillian was in San Francisco and to call her cell phone.  Tomato season officially came to an end.