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Protective Coloration May Not Be So Good: Tonks has been hanging out on the computer room couch, which he matches perfectly. The day is going to come when someone else sits there--not with him, but on him.

Quietude: Nothing much is happening around here. I'm very busy with the end of the semester, but it's a quiet busy. Next week--the last week, really-- will be kind of tough. I went through everyone's grades and figured out who doesn't deserve to be sent for a retake if they happen to flunk the departmental writing proficiency.

One of the new iris I planted last fall is blooming--its first year! It's a lovely flower named "Summer Skies." You would think, with a name like that, it would be blue, but it's pink and lavender.

[Comments] (2) Yes, and I Need Some Paprika, Too: I got an email from somebody in Singapore wanting to buy a bay leaf (laurus nobilis) tree. Huh?

I suppose he found me through my weblog since I probably wrote about the day I planted mine, but I googled for bay leaf and looked through ten pages of recipes and herb sites without finding a reference to Jabberwocky.

How do these things work?

I told the fellow I got my tree from www.parkseed.com, and he was very appreciative. Said he bought two on ebay and accidentally left them on the plane. Bay leaves on ebay????

Horsie, Horsie: The horseradish has survived! There was doubt for quite some time, but it has made it. In January, when it was a bare root, Sadie got it and mauled it severely. I planted it anyhow, and now it has sent up shoots and is growing rapidly, so I suppose it has recovered. I don't know how Sadie's mouth felt after chewing on that root, but she didn't say anything at the time.

Horseradish used to grow wild in Rico, and my mother would put fresh roots through the blender. It was runny-eye time in our house after she did this, but I still love horseradish. The first time she made it, she served a big bowlful, and Robert thought it was mashed potatoes, so he took a big mouthful. Oopsie. He didn't like horseradish for the longest time, but I believe he does now.

It's raining. I don't know if I'll be able to work in the garden this weekend.

Greenie: Gretel has gotten ahold of a green apricot and carries it around with her everywhere. She tosses it into the air and scampers and plays with it. Funny puppy. She has a whole basket full of toys but would rather play with the apricot.

Sorry Bout That: As I waited for a red light today, a woman with bunches of Mothers Day flowers tried and tried and TRIED to get me to buy some. Not interested. Not me. I don't have a mother.

Berry, Berry: I picked boysenberries today. My hands are purple. They are just starting to get ripe, but I picked enough for a small cobbler. I suspect Rachel and I will eat them fresh. There is a real bumper crop coming in, but most of them are still pink.

The blueberries are also getting ripe. I picked a few of them today and ate them in the garden. And strawberries. The strawberries are beginning to happen.

We also have green beans, turnips, radishes, beetgreens, and a very small zucchini. (I am not fooled. I know it's not going to stay small!)

[Comments] (1) Mothers Day: I opened a lovely card made by Susanna and John, which included a Home Depot gift card--always a popular item with me! Rachel gave me a pair of white Capri pants, and Leonard called with news he had been working in his garden. That gave me a kick because when he was a kid you never ever saw anyone more reluctant to do yard work. I guess it's different when it isn't your mother's yard.

Rachel and I took Grandma out for Chinese food at the Peking Palace. It was fun to see all the moms and grandmas getting treated to lunch. I don't feel tooooo bad about missing church to take Grandma out because she is more important, plus I hate Mothers Day. When I typed the bulletin I found that we were singing "Love at Home." Ewwwwwww. My motherhood experience has been more "Towanda! Warrior Woman!" than "roses bloom beneath our feet."

[Comments] (3) Moths: I really don't like moths. In trying to analyze why, I've come up with a couple of things--their furry heads, their feathery antennae, and the markings on their wings. I find moths distressing, and I'm sure there is some deep childhood reason for this.

Once when I was a teenager, I was sitting on the couch reading and my father came and put a gigantic moth on my book. I just about wigged, and he said, "But it's only a little Cecopia moth!" I didn't like the "little" moth. He had eyeball markings on his back. Plus, that kind of moth is as big as a hummingbird, and they have huge ugly larvae that eat plants.

The house has been full of moths lately. Mostly dead ones, but some living ones who rustle and batter against the windows until they too die. I blame Xochitl for carrying them in. They day is going to come, soon, when I get the nerve up to sweep the dead moths off the kitchen floor.

As I work in the garden, I always kill moth larvae when I find them. They squirt when you squish them.

[Comments] (1) Beautiful Soup: I made minestrone, and it's absolutely lovely. From the garden: basil, oregano, green beans, swiss chard, zucchini. From the store: onion, garlic, celery, tomato, canelli beans, alphabet noodles.

Can't wait until I don't have to buy tomatoes.

I got my writing proficiencies back today. Most of the people I thought would fail did, but one got a borderline. One of the people I thought would pass failed. Lots of paper grading to do tonight; I'd better get started.

[Comments] (1) Tired: I turned in my packets for summer school to duplicating, taught my class, graded a bunch of papers. I have to go back in on Friday morning to help grade the writing proficiency retakes. Tomorrow is the last day of class.

I pulled a wastebasket full of weeds and planted dill, fennel, and artemesia plants and marigold seeds. Then I toted fish emulsion to all the patio pots and the newly planted plants. I wish it were bedtime, but I need to work on my class packets for fall semester.

The artemesia I planted isn't what you'd expect. It's not the grey "dusty miller" Powis Castle type of variety. It's green and yellow variegated with sharply lobed, not feathery, leaves. I'd never seen one like it offered before, and I thought since it looked unusual, I had better get it.

I have run out of garlic bread before I have run out of minestrone. NOW what shall I do? Maybe bake a loaf using Uncle Carl's sourdough?

[Comments] (2) On The Cusp Of Summer: It actually got hot today. I spent a good three hours working in the yard, and I had to come in and get my safari hat. I weeded and planted and weeded and planted. Some of what I planted is okra and more green beans.

An iris that I planted three years ago finally bloomed. It's maroon and yellow, very pretty. I'm not sure what its name is because it's been so long that the tag is gone. It might be "Dynamite." There is a calligraphy rock in the general vicinity that says that.

The first year I started the garden, I labeled every plant I put in with a calligraphy rock. This didn't work as I had hoped because the rocks tended to not stay in the same place, or the plants died. Every once in a while I stumble across one.

[Comments] (1) Edward the Hopper: For a minute there I thought Edward was back. It's a big black spider like he was, and as I lay in bed watching it cross the ceiling, I worried slightly that it might be a giant black widow. I reached for my glasses and determined that it had the wrong body shape for a black widow. Meanwhile, it was making its way toward a cobweb containing two daddy longlegs.

I rolled out of bed for a closer inspection. Nope, not Edward. This spider just had one white spot on his rear, and he was hairy. His eyes glowed with blue florescent light. As it approached the web, one of the daddy longlegs began to dance and make threatening motions, but it didn't spring. Perhaps it was caught in the web itself. The other DLspider just lay in wait.

A reinspection a minute ago shows NO big black spider, but the two daddy longlegs are still there. I don't like daddy longlegs because they eat each other, and I think that is rude. I know this from emperical evidence, not from book larnin'. I wish the daddy longlegs were gone from my bedroom.

[Comments] (2) Workin': Today I worked in the back yard all morning, tying up (some) of the Sally Holmes roses, yanking some more creeping fig off the chimney, pruning pond plants (didn't finish that job!) and rearranging patio pots. I replaced a bunch of drip tubing in the pots, added two risers to the bed where I'm going to plan shrub roses, and generally got ready to plant a bunch of stuff that is not bought yet.

I tried to raise the umbrellas, but I couldn't because I am still too weak. Three of my deep watering pipes are missing from the pots. I suspect Robert Gomez threw them out.

My order came from Park's today, and I got it all planted. I had ordered a bare root "Economy Daylilly Assortment" which I put in patio pots. I planted one, and then carried the other two and set them on the patio next to a pot while I went to drag a bag of potting soil over. When I came back, Gretel had carried one of the daylillies off. I looked everywhere, and had just about despaired of finding it when I discovered she had carried it over and set it down in pot #1. She was helping!

The rest of the order consisted of heucheras and dicentras, shade plants which I put under the camellias. I planted three dicentras and four heucheras: Creme Brulee, Marmalade, Key Lime, and Peach Melba. They all have colored leaves.

Also in my box was a "free" echinachea (Did I spell that right?) Purple Coneflower. I don't delude myself for a moment that it was really "free", but I'll give it a try. I put it next to some orange gazania, so it should make a real visual pop. The poor little thing is so small and withered now though. We'll see if it lives. If not, it was "free."

Yummy Dinner: I made a dinner today that Rachel though was very yummy, but I threw it up. Grilled salmon. Rice. And the rest of it was from the garden: two colors of beets and beet greens and green beans. Experimentally, I cooked the green beans on "low" in garlic butter until they were tender; this method is to be highly recommended.

Gosh, I got every pot dirty, but Rachel did the dishes very sweetly. Big day tomorrow; I don't have to work except to keep getting ready for fall semester, so I'm going to work very, very hard in the yard. Maybe tomorrow I'll get up my nerve to wade into the fishpond to prune the papyrus.

Wahoo!: They started selling LaRosa bars again at Young's. I am quite pleased; I bought four of them. They are selling for 79 cents, compared to a dollar from the LaRosa guy with his cart. Which LaRosa guy has not been in this neighborhood of late. I see them around work all the time.

I made a shrimp chow mein with fresh vegetables and extra ginger, using fresh noodles from the produce section. Rachel and I agreed that it tasted better than anything in a restaurant.

Do you know what I wish I could find a recipe for?

When we lived in Los Angeles, there was for a couple of years a hole in the wall restaurant over in the Rampart/Alvarado area called the Burrito Hut. (Shack? I think it was Hut.) The owner appeared to be the only employee, and he told us his recipes came from "Mother." My favorite thing to order was the Tostada de Pollo Celant, which had a thin green cilantro sauce on it. This was the first time I ever saw shredded red cabbage and carrots added to a tostada.

The guy didn't have a liquor license, for which the LA Times restaurant reviewer seriously dinged him. (Flubbaththth.) The last time I remember eating there was a huge family luncheon after Alyson's baptism. Shortly thereafter, the Burrito Hut disappeared, and with it the Pollo Celant.

[Comments] (3) I Been Workin'On the Railroad: ...or not the railroad, but on fall semester. I spent the whole time the cleaning lady was here and finished the class pack for ACDV 68. Then I went visiting teaching, and then took a nap. I spent about an hour on the ACDV 68 calendar for fall, and I did my English 60 grades.

The Young Men/Young Women had a Super Senior Supper, so I took Ernestine Boonstoppel to it. You were supposed to be 60 or older to go, but I scammed a dinner anyway. Ham, funeral potatoes, green beans, peach pie a la mode. (I threw it up.)

I think Ernestine really had a good time. I got a very nice picture for the ward newsletter of Ernestine surrounded by smiling kids.

Tomorrow I have to go in to work in the morning, but it's the last day until June 13. I am exhausted really, and need to do serious yard work.

Fall bulb catalogs have begun to arrive. A new one came, Van Wyks, which has a different assortment and is cheaper than Parks. I looked through it and made a list of all the "nice to haves." When those catalogs come in the mail, I seriously want one of everything.

[Comments] (3) Heresy: I don't think I'm going to go see Star Wars. I LOVED the first one, way back when, and was disappointed in the sequels. I haven't seen either of the recent ones, and I think I'll let sleeping dogs lie.

I feel like a real non-geek skuzzbucket saying that.

Doggone!: A couple of weeks ago I bought a "dog repellant" herb from Home Depot. It sort of stinks. I planted it in one of Gretel's holes, and so far she has not dug it up, so today I went to get more. I got the last five that they have, and I'll put them in Gretel's holes around the patio. She can still dig under the citrus trees and under the Lady Banks rose, so I don't feel too mean. It's just that digging around the patio makes such a mess. Poor mess of a dog.

Watch her dig them up now that I've spent fourteen dollars.

[Comments] (1) Finally!: I finally figured out how to make a Chicken Marsala that is as good as what we had at the Basque restaurant for my brother-in-law's wedding. Yum. I had to make myself quit eating it and put the rest in the refrigerator.

By way of explanation, I spent a very long morning planting rosebushes and refurbishing patio pots. I'm really tired. Andy Smith came over and worked on my electrical problem (didn't get it fixed, he needs to borrow some tool...) and he told me who to call to get the ceiling fan fixed. He also put up my patio umbrellas for me.

After Andy left and I finished cleaning up in back, I hobbled in to make the Chicken Marsala. I used a tip I got at Enrichment last night--use a skillet to pound the breast cutlets flat, and then you don't need a wooden meat mallet. It worked really well, but I blew it then because I am so tired. I wasn't thinking, and I went outside to get a lemon. When I got back, there was Gretel just finishing off my nice pounded chicken breast. I had to thaw another one from the freezer. Dumb me.

Anyway, I used a shallot, which I haven't seen in any of the recipes for Chicken Marsala, and the juice of a whole lemon, brown mushrooms, and lots of fresh pepper from Mr. Dudley. I browned the chicken and mushrooms in butter, not in olive oil, and then deglazed the pan with the Marsala (Why is that capitalized? Is it a place?). Add chicken stock, reduce sauce, etc. etc. It was good.

I think perhaps butter makes everythinggood.

[Comments] (1) Serbia: I have finished reading The Luck of Thirteen by Mr. and Mrs. Jan Gordon, a memoir published in 1916 of their adventures as volunteers with the British Red Cross in Serbia. Like most of the books Rachel is using for her research, this one is fascinating. Plus, it's so well-written and fast moving, it's a real page turner.

One has to admire these plucky Brits who spent the term of World War I trying to be helpful on the Eastern Front. Seldom do we learn anything about the Eastern Front because our history textbooks are so Eurocentric, and they focus on France and Germany. I had no idea before Rachel started this research.

I don't think I would hold up as well as these folks, given the same conditions. They went cheerfully bumping all over the Balkans in oxcarts, eating terrible, scarce food and sleeping in all kinds of horrible conditions. Lice. Typhus. Cold. Stench. I'm afraid I like my creature comforts, and I don't want to sleep in wet clothing in a tent in a howling blizard. I don't mind hard work--and these folks who ran the hospitals taking care of the sick and wounded REALLY worked hard-- but I don't do so well with misery. My hat is off to these people who did what I couldn't have.

Quiet Day: I worked in the yard all morning, stupidly having forgotten to use sunscreen, so I am a little bit toasted. It's starting to get hotter. I did wear my pith helmet, though. I planted a flat of blue fescue. I like blue fescue because it's one of the plants that looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book. When ever I find a plant that looks like that, I make a place for it if I can. Oh, my word! I just remembered I left the water running out there.

I picked all the "early" and "middle" apricots and will can them tomorrow. The grafted branch of "late" apricots isn't q-u-i-t-e ready yet. I don't know why early and middle came on together this year. Cool spring, maybe? Who can plumb the deep mysteries of Mother Nature?

Ah, me. I wish it were time for beddybye.

More Serbia: I can't get the rest of my Serbia post to "post", so I'm going to try to put it here.

I don't think I would hold up as well as these folks, given the same conditions. They went cheerfully bumping all over the Balkans in oxcarts, eating terrible, scarce food and sleeping in all kinds of horrible conditions. Lice. Typhus. Cold. Stench. I'm afraid I like my creature comforts, and I don't want to sleep in wet clothing in a tent in a howling blizard. I don't mind hard work--and these folks who ran the hospitals taking care of the sick and wounded REALLY worked hard-- but I don't do so well with misery. My hat is off to these people who did what I couldn't have.

Arrrrrrggghhhh!: NOW it shows up!

[Comments] (2) Day of Rest: I'm not worth much today. I didn't even get up until noon, which means I slept through Stake Conference. Better to sleep through it in bed than in the congregation, I suppose. About 3 p.m. I tottered out to make infused vinegar and minestrone. The carrots I was going to use were bad, so threw them out, but the soup is pretty good anyhow. I'm starting to have lots of basil in the garden, and some of the okra is up.

Remaining to do today, can apricots. I'm afraid they are not going to last until tomorrow.

[Comments] (4) Apricotia: I have canned nine quarts of apricots; I hope to end up with a dozen. I'm going to give them to Robert for Christmas because he has been jonesing for home-canned apricots for the last twenty years or so. I'll drive them up to Utah when I go for Shelley's wedding in September.

They aren't as pretty as they might be because the fruit got scarred during the hailstorm we had this spring. The fruits on the "late" branch are a little bit nicer.

When we lived in New Mexico, we had a gigantic apricot tree in front, and then when we moved to Sunnyvale there was one in the front and one in the back. The one in back died early on, but what I'm saying is we always had a plethora of apricots. We canned and dried them. Dad built a screen rack cabinet to dry them in, but they always turned out sort of hard and black. Still great flavor, but a really tough to chew dry mouthful. High school kids of the day often had a summer job cutting apricots and spreading them out to dry for Mariani's. (I notice they are still selling dried fruit.) I never did it; I always worked in Aunt Jeuney's hobby business.

The church had a welfare cannery, and when the sign up sheets went around Elders Quorum, Dad always signed us up for apricots rather than peaches or pears because the apricots are easier; they don't have to be peeled. I remember one time in the cannery I had the job of dumping a quarter cup of sugar into the cans as they went past on a conveyer. That night I lifted four hundred pounds of sugar, a quarter cup at a time.

[Comments] (1) So Hot: This morning after they came for the garbage,I rolled the green waste bin around to the front and packed it full of poppies. Poor Juan is here now and has nowhere to put the grass clippings. He will have to sneak them into another customer's green bin, I guess.

I was going to plant some seeds of summer flowers tomorrow morning, but it's too hot to can apricots tonight, so morning it is. Rachel said she would help me.

I was supposed to take Jill Langley to lunch for her birthday, but that got put over to Thursday, so for lunch I made a recipe from the most recent Sunset --sea scallops with cellophane noodles. I didn't like it, so Gretel had the rest. For dinner I made a salmon fillet grilled on Rachel's little George Foreman grill, with rice and cucumbers from my garden. From the leftover rice, I made rice and artichoke salad for tomorrow. So you can see I heated up the kitchen even without canning!

I picked and froze all the ripe boysenberries. There aren't very many unripe ones left, and the bushes are growing all over, sending their thorny ambassadors into the asparagus bed. Which should not be allowed. Which isn't allowed. Which I will do something about as soon as I figure out what. I can't just prune them off because those new branches will bear next year's fruit. And humph. Those boysenberry canes were purported to be thornless.

[Comments] (2) Wasted: Yesterday afternoon I discovered that the freezer had come unplugged. I was chagrined. However, I girded up my loins to do what needs to be done, and I have filled the trash bin with the contents of the big freezer. I am particularly sad about the corned beef brisket and the whole chickens. Not so sad about a steak I didn't know I had; I will NEVER freeze steak again because when eating it you can tell it's been frozen. Gretel had the stew beef and she has been busy with it all afternoon.

Survivors were the bulk pack spices and a bag of Hershey's miniatures as well as a five pound bag of walnuts and a huge slab of chocolate that I think is Leonard's.

Conveniently, Grandma Jessie's ancient fridge is standing right by the big freezer so I moved stuff into the freezer of it while we defrost. (It shouldn't take long in this heat!) Most of what I moved was frozen water packs for the cooler, but I also bought a whole bunch of chicken breast yesterday. I've never had such help in defrosting before; I always had to pack all the coolers. Of course, I didn't have to use too much room, because nothing much from the big freezer survived.

There was stuff in there I didn't even know what it was or how old! I think I'm going to get a dry erase board to list the contents on the front door of the freezer.

I think I'm going to start keeping my TPN supply in Grandma Jessie's refrigerator. Rachel and I have had it with having it in the house.

[Comments] (1) On the D-List: I was so sick today. Up half the night scratching, so I know it was something--Dr. Amin says itching like that is the ruined immune system trying to fight an illness. Still scratching, but I called in to refill my Benadryl prescription, and it will be ready at 9 a.m. tomorrow. I did get up at six and put Gretel out, put sheets in to wash, and puttered a little, but by the time Irma got here I was a goner and I went to sleep in Rachel's room where I slept all day. Her ceiling fan works; mine is broken.

Everything I ate I threw up. I am debating now whether to try to make dinner or to forget it. I had all kinds of plans for yard work this morning, but none have come to fruition.

Good news is Leonard might come visit this weekend.

[Comments] (1) We The People: Rachel brought me an advance copy of Young Patriots by Charles Cerami, a book about James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and their contributions to the building of the Constitution. It's an easy read and relatively short, so I'll be anxious for the next book to come my way!

Most history that I've read focuses on Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, so it's interesting to learn about these younger guys. I don't know who Cerami is or what his credentials may be, but he has obviously poured over tons of correspondence and documents. Sometimes he says something that smacks of being made up: ". . . Martha reminded him [Washington] that all her plans for the future were based on his promise that he was leaving public life for good." But more often, he backs up his statements with quotations from a letter or speech.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the book is inserted the entire text of the U.S. Constitution, which I have never read. I'll take this opportunity to read it.

[Comments] (3) In Flanders Fields: ...the poppies grow, and also in my yard. But they are not growing anymore; they are getting rangy and weedy and dying out (and spreading their seed.) I have been ripping them out for weeks now. I fill the green compost bin, and then I fill the regular trash bin, and then I have to wait until after pickup to pull out more.

Something is going to have to change next year. I think I'll thin out the poppies when they are young and not have as big a show next year. The Flanders poppies are not as big a mess as the California poppies.

I planted the Flanders poppies in honor of Grandpa Call--not that he died in WWI, but he surely had a bad time, and afterwards was very active in Veterans' affairs, and also, during the Vietnam War, anti-war protesting. My grandfather was a Grey Panther, oh, yeah. Not everyone can say that.

When I was a little girl the veterans used to sell crepe paper poppies to pin on like they still do in England. I wish they did that now, but I guess the Vietnam veterans aren't that well organized. The nearest thing to a tribute I've seen this Memorial Day weekend is the article on poppies in the White Forest Nursery newsletter.

Lets have a lovely Memorial Day and remember those who have gone before.

[Comments] (2) I'm a Slacker: Today I didn't really get up until late afternoon. I didn't feel too well, and I figured, well, it's a holiday. I made dinner for me and Rachel, and then after she went to improv practice, I went out in back and weeded the chessboard. I am going to give groundcover One More Chance, and then if it doesn't take, as they say in Britian, "Sod it." I don't know why I'm so worried about having a chessboard; I'll never be able to afford the game pieces.

Rachel was upset because the Bakersfield Californian published a list of local men (It looked like all men) killed in war from World War Two on. She wondered why no World War One casualties were included. I wonder too. It's not because the information is unavailable. I ran a quick preliminary Google search and came up with one fellow within minutes.

I guess this World War One groupie had better write a letter to the editor.

[Comments] (4) Hero: I took a quiz about which archetypal character are you that Camilla had linked on her blog. I'm the Hero, the Champion.

You Are The Champion
"Don't worry, I got it."

You play as the Hero. You are the one who usually tries to take on the world for any cause you believe in. You are a natural leader in most circles and are not afraid to take that position if a situation calls for it. Others look to you for inspiration and praise you for your acheivements. Even though they love and adore you, however, you are left feeling alone or overwhelmed many times. You're almost always positive and keep your chin up despite any setbacks because you know that you will succeed in the end, no matter how long it takes.

Which Classic Story Role Do You Play?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess it's true. I just keep plodding along no matter what the obstacles. Rachel and I were talking about luck the other day, and how ours has often been bad. But here we are, and we're happy and we keep going.

[Comments] (2) Pink Pants: I went to Target today to take my film in and to buy paintbrushes for the Young Men to use on the patio furniture tomorrow night. I found pink pants on the clearance rack! Also a stripey T-shirt. I haven't tried anything on yet, but I'm sure they will fit.

I also went to Orchard Supply Hardware to get sprinkler system parts, and I came home with one-third flat of Madagascar periwinkle and something called a pentas, the label of which claims it likes to be hot and dry. (NTS: Must look up in Sunset book before planting.)

Rachel bought me a trashy novel, the second book of Nora Roberts' In the Garden series, which just came out today. I think I will take my shower and then ensconce myself with it.

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.