another solstice

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, your popular host, here to bring you up to date on the latest news from our garden and environs, and to wish you a happy solstice. You may remember me from such posts as “The Missing Grass”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically alert pose.The guy I live with said to make some humorous and highly sophisticated comment about me shadowed by a jalousie but really I am outside and not a character in some film noir. He’s been watching a lot of these lately. He says Saturday night is the best time to watch a good “noir” but he doesn’t always know when it’s Saturday. (Really.)

It was kind of hot today, as you can see by my lack of activity; the humidity was a bit much. Almost twenty-five percent in the early afternoon. He was perspiring, let me tell you.

Things here have been pretty exciting, to say the least. The other day, the weather forecast called for severe thunderstorms–again–and so he went to the store before the storms were predicted to hit, and came back just in time for huge raindrops to fall. He got out of the car, raced inside to let me out of my kitchen fort, so I could run upstairs to my bedroom fort (it’s safer), put the car in the garage (which involves actually opening the garage door, since the garage-door opener broke a few weeks after it was installed, which was also a few weeks after the guy I live with and his wife moved into the house), and then this happened.If you think this looks scary, it was. He was talking on the phone with a friend, when the hail began to fall. But it just fell. It wasn’t driven by high winds; it just fell. So nothing really happened other than the guy I live with’s calm was severely damaged.

In order for this to do a lot of damage, which I think you can guess it could do very easily, the hail has to be driven by wind. Imagine something just being dropped versus being thrown at high speed. So, whew. But his friend, who lives on the other side of town, was hit by the same storm and by then the storm had built up in intensity and there was a lot of damage to her garden.

The guy I live with says this is easily the worst feature of the climate here, and that this sort of thing never, or rarely, happened until the last decade of the last century. It is certainly a source of anxiety. He doesn’t like being separated from me when storms approach, and I feel the same way.

But anyway that was that.

He tried to get a moon picture the same evening, using the special night-time feature on the point-and-shoot, but the feature isn’t all that special.And maybe you remember the quandary surrounding the Caragana microphylla plants. The guy I live with said that the phylla (leaves) seemed excessively micro, and so he moved these plants into a place where they might get a little more water to hydrate those tiny leaves, and planted a couple of C. microphylla ‘Mongolian Silver Spires’, if that’s the right name. The leaves on this one are certainly micro, but not nearly as much so as the ones on ‘Tidy’ which he planted earlier.The guy I live with and his friend (not the same person that I mentioned above) went to Harlequin’s Gardens in Boulder and there was a large specimen of that plant, with seed pods, too.It will probably take forever for the plants he bought there to get big. There is another one here in the garden which is fairly large but branches on it die every year so maybe it will never get large.

The only other thing I have, and it’s kind of a big deal, though not as big a deal to me as the baby raccoons sleeping in the New Mexican locust just now, which the guy I live with couldn’t get a picture of, even though I was barking like crazy, is the happy, happy muskrat we saw a few days ago. You can see it here, leaving its happy home, to paddle happily down the canal.

It just went down and down the canal. The guy I live with said it, or he, was probably going to visit his girlfriend, and maybe watch TV.

That’s all for today. I hope you had a happy solstice, be it summer or winter. 

Until next time, then.


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hot, then not

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, your popular host, here to bring you the latest news from our garden, and some other stuff. You may remember me from such heat-oriented posts as “Mostly Roasting Again”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. You might have to look a bit.It’s mostly been roasting hot, and, if you didn’t know, we purebred border collies do not appreciate hot weather. So I lie in the garden, of an evening, to cool off. (I always wanted to say “of an evening”, and now I have.)

The last of the eremurus, Eremurus olgae, is in flower. You can barely see it in the lower left of the picture above.

Here it is from another angle.You may have noticed that I was lying in what you might call a haze of blue onions. Here I am again, posing behind them. These are Allium caeruleumThe “Oregon sunshine”, Eriophyllum lanatum, is really flowering well this year. I guess it does this dependably every year. The lily, Lilium martagon, is much less dependable in the garden here, but this year it’s doing pretty well, out in the “way back”, under the shade of the maples (Acer grandidentatum). Speaking of the “way back”, the ugly wire fence along the border, on the right, is gone now. (There’s a little bit of fencing but that’s where some grass seed was sowed.)The soil in this border is really good soil, in the sense that it’s easy to dig in, “creek bottom loam”, but when a plant is watered, the water just disappears. Lots of stuff has been dug into the border in the last thirty years but the soil is still dry. The border is about a foot higher than the field behind the chain-link fence. Maybe that makes a difference.

Milkweeds have begun flowering along the canal road. You can see a bee there; the guy I live with says sometimes bees get trapped in the flowers. Kind of creepy if you ask me. I don’t like creepy things. As I said, it’s been really hot, but then it cools off, and then either gets hot again or stays cool. The weather is what they call “upslope”, meaning it comes from the east, more or less, moves up the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, which we’re next to, and we usually get rain out of that, but in the last few days it’s just been hot and then not. Sometimes there’s thunder. I like it when it cools off, but not if there’s thunder along with the cooling off.

The guy I live with went to the doctor because he was worried about some dark spots on his skin, and feared the worst, but the doctor said they were just age spots. He was pretty embarrassed for fretting so much but he said it was best to have things like that checked out. He was afraid he was turning into a hypochondriac. (I had to look that one up.) His grandfather was a hypochondriac, too….and a medical doctor as well. “What a combination”, he said.

So …anyway…..he bought himself a present. His birthday is next month, so that was another good reason. Or so he said. The present was kind of expensive. (Pretty sure this is right side up.)

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, he says, you’ll know how much he likes Japanese gardening tools, and pretty much anything Japanese, since it reminds him of his happy childhood in southern California. And besides, these pruners are really sharp. The thing that holds the handles together, which probably has a name, is more practical for him to use than the similar thing (he would probably say “handle holder deal”), in a different location from the other pruners he has, and he’s been having some trouble with the joint in his right thumb. (He has age spots, so the rest is easy to figure out.)

He also got some camellia oil because the pruners are carbon steel so they might rust. Of course in our climate that isn’t all that likely.

I guess there’s going to be a whole lot of pruning going on here, now. There already was a lot of pruning, but I mean even more pruning.

The guy I live with said that I came very close to being named Prune. Prune the purebred border collie. I mean, really. I think that’s a little different from pruning, but I’m not entirely sure.

The only other thing I have has nothing at all to do with gardening.

The guy I live with has been making pappadums. He’s into Indian food again, cooking, and the kitchen has been filled with all these different smells.

You don’t really “make” pappadums; you buy like raw ones in a package. This package was opened, obviously. They come in different flavors. Or I should say with different things in them, like maybe cumin seed, or chilies, or things like that. These are plain. 

I suppose you can “make” these in another way, but, here, they’ve always been heated on the grill. I watched these being “made”. It was pretty interesting.

You plop one on the grill. It starts to bubble almost immediately.The minute the whole pappadum has bubbled it’s done. You have to watch them really closely because they’ll burn in just seconds. And then they’re done. They get totally crispy and crunchy a few seconds later. I’ve never tried them, but the guy I live with says they’re excellent with mint or tamarind chutney.

Okay, that really is all for today. I hope you enjoyed this somewhat wide-ranging post. I’ll leave you with a picture of me in roasting hot mode. Not as hot as a pappadum on the grill, but close. 

Until next time, then.

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