WEEK 11

March 12, 2017 – SUNDAY

Oak leaves, drought damaged

Morning light:  I open eyes to chartreuse-tinged trees on distant hill seen through dark branches and sprouting leaves of our oak. Sun falling brightly on that hill but not ours, leaving us in early sunshine in shadow.  That hill is to the west and we are east, closer to the rising sun, but the sun shines at a distance, seemingly to have forgotten our hill entirely.

The budding leaves on our Oak, twisted, spotted with brown – damaged from lack of water while leaf formed in bud.  Yesterday’s world created today. I hope that this season’s ample rain will bring next year a perfect leaf.

March 13, 2017 – MONDAY

Play Off   Variation of the same

Variation:  I made Harissa Yoghurt Chicken. Melissa Clark (NY Times food writer) said in yesterday’s Parade magazine it is now all ‘the rage.’ I had bought the chicken thighs and Greek Yoghurt) Saturday – already had harissa – to make the chicken dish before her article appeared. Then tonight after dinner I opened my newly arrived Fine Cooking magazine. It featured another version of the same dish. It is ‘the rage!’ Our dish was make following Janet Fletcher’s ‘Harissa Roasted Chicken with Sweet Peppers’ from her new Yoghurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner cookbook. (I got the recipe at a class she taught last Fall.) A bit spicy, but JM declared it one of his favorites.

I read cookbooks and recipes like some people read novels and have an extensive collection of cookbooks.  One of my favorites is local cookbook author Carol Field. I frequently make her focaccia. I read (was it yesterday???) that Carol Field had died Friday.  And last year Judy Rodgers of The Zuni Café, restaurant and cookbook, died.  Her roasted chicken is one of the best.  My world it seems a shrinking world, lost to me friends, family and book authors.  I will find other cookbook writers to admire, but I still miss Julia Child, whose books I read hot off the press.  Julia’s French cooking (except for the vinegars and lemons) had much in common with my Mother’s German cooking, but Julia would never have agreed to that.

March 14, 2017 – TUESDAY

Standing water & draining (videos won’t download)

First bite of the Season: We sat on patio last night. Gigantic mosquito landed on me – splat.  Another did so more discreetly and left her mark, an large itchy welt on the side of my right knee, this season’s first bite.  Thanks to winter’s rain, mosquito season promises to be a good this year and an early one too.

Because of the bite, JM and I decided to empty containers containing standing water in a planter and in the huge Talavera Mexican pot – very polychrome – on the deck. Fearing dumping the big pot over would break it, or flood out some of our newly planted stepables.  I found, I thought, the perfect tool, a soup ladle. JM saw me ladling out the water a little at at time into a bucket. “I’ll be back.” He left and returned with a plastic hose. He placed one end of the hose in the bottom of the three-foot pot, sucked out the air in the tube (being careful not to intake any of the liquid) and lowered his end of the hose to the ground. His siphon worked with no pouring or dumping. The Talavera pot was drained. My way would have taken ages. His guy-way finished the task easily in a matter of minutes. Tool-using man that he is, he was proud of putting knowledge to use. I think myself an enterprising, science-minded gal, and I was just a little embarrassed that I did not think of the siphon and had resorted to a lady’s ladle. JM will smile with his resourcefulness for days, and I will blush, thinking myself inept.

March 15, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Anemone & stepables

Between the stones: We have planted and replanted ‘stepables’ between the flagstones of our patio. Our favorite, Silverspoon (raoulia australis), supposedly drought tolerant, has only (of the numerous flats we’ve planted) a small silver-dollar size plant remaining. This month we obtained two flats of the difficult-to-find stepable, and once again we are trying to propagate it between the stones. We also are planting our second favorite, thyme – hoping that one or the other will take. The plants we like the least are doing the best. We suppose we should like them better because of their ability to survive, but do not. They are a bit too hardy and grow not just in the crevices between stones, but over the beautiful stones themselves. They do not conform to the image we have of our patio. We’ll try again to make nature conform to our mind’s ideal.

Two years ago we planted anemone at the edge of the front walk. Not a single bulb produced bud. This Spring, to our surprise, a few plants with blooms. The soil, we suspect, even with regular watering was too dry for the anemone, but in this wet year bulbs gathered enough water to regenerate, to produce leaf and flower. Some seeds need a fire in order for them to germinate; some bulbs need ample water to grow. Nature is complex and surprises in its complexity.

 March 16, 2017 – THURSDAY

Play Off  Our Babies w/ toys

Delightful:  Oskar is a creature of habit. He will sit only on Michael’s lap, not mine, and only while JM is on the bed watching television. Oskar is still on Pacific Standard Time (PST), not Pacific Daylight Savings Time. I slept in until 9 a.m., his 10 a.m. Oskar woke me up with nudges and meows. JM was up early because he did not sleep well. We drank long-steeped Irish Tea late. Caffeine, whether from Coffee – Tea – or Cola, does have an effect.

Cats asked for their new feather-under-an-umbrella toy to be turned on. Many toys a bust: the motorized RAT (advertised as a mere mouse, but not a mouse, a large Norway RAT); the fuzzy ball; the food-filled ball; the large furry mice (small ones liked); the string where a feather once hung (string preferred to it tipped with feather) …. But the new umbrellaed feather toy they play with together and for long stretches. Sometimes they play from inside, behind or around their cat tunnel, the other toy that continues to delight.

March 17, 2017 – FRIDAY

Birch

Spring is bursting out all over: New leaves, new flowers abound in our yard. I had wanted an Aspen tree clump because Aspens, with their flat leaf stem, quake in the slightest breeze and turn deep gold in the Fall. Just as we about to purchase it, I re-researched its growing tendencies and decided against the Aspen: deep roots, aggressive roots that travel even hundreds of feet in search of water. “Yes,” I thought, “that’s fine,” but we had had our sewer lateral replaced after a wild Plum’s roots invaded the lateral. What if the Aspen did the same, and the problem we eliminated reappeared as a result of the Aspen’s nature? We settled on our second choice, a trio of white-barked Paper Birches native to my Michigan. Unfortunately, the arborist delivered European Birches. So no quaking of Aspen leaves and a bark not as white or as peeling as the Michigan Paper Bark of my youth, but in Spring (or late Winter her in the Bay area) lovely serrated-edged bright green leaves.

March 18, 2017 – SATURDAY

E-mail photos

Immediate & Past:  Today I sent an e-mail to a friend who travels a lot and is now in Egypt.

Cordelia:  Oh, the wide Nile.  I almost drowned in it.  When I was 4 years of age my mother told me not to get too close to the edge.  My father, my older sister and I were looking over the Nile from a high bank.  I kept moving my feet closer and closer so I could get as close as I could, without getting tooooo close.  The high bank gave out and I slipped down into the cool deep river.  My dad jumped in after me, grabbed me and carried me to safety.  I still remember him taking me back to the car, my mother untying my shoes, dumping out the water and saying, “I told you not to get to close.”  We also crossed the river on a platoon ferry and in addition, at some point, we  were on the river in log canoes which went between a pod of hippos.   Yes, I’d like to get back to see the Sphinx and the pyramids and…..  Michael would like for me to write on Africa.  I’d like to also.

When we visited in the south of the African continent, I felt as if I had returned to the birthplace of people kind.  I had, but I felt it deeply.  I hope to get some of our summer European photos up on line, but I’ve been trying to do that for a while now.  JM upgraded my computer’s operating system and it is doing better, but I still need a new computer.  I’m thinking of getting a new camera and waiting on the computer.  Lucky you and your wonderful travels.    eydie

PHOTOS OF AFRICA

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