Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strep Throat

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scent, Aroma, Stink

At some point in May, I remembered one of the most fleeting pleasures of last spring. For a while, we slept with the windows open. All night the room throbbed with a sweet, thick perfume. The source?

Linda's honeysuckle vine. It climbs across the fence dividing our properties. That's the same strip where her raspberries have colonized our land, providing us with a bounty of fruit in early July. Look out the eastern windows and you see roses, raspberries, lilacs, and these honeysuckle flowers. Right now, they welcome you when you come in the back gate.

It's hot here - suddenly - so we can't sleep with the windows open as we did last year. Still. I love honeysuckle. I love that in the path from spring to summer I can count on the honeysuckle to mark the transition.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Which of these is worse:

1. Iain throwing up right after breakfast (strawberry jam on toast - not pretty). No camp today.
2. My sore throat, a sign that I caught whatever he had. [note, this item carries with it waking up every hour all night long to spray on Chloroseptic.]
3. Dreaming all night about zombies hunting us. If you smeared your entire body with mud they couldn't see you, but also some of them were vampires. Just so you understand.

I am bitter. Yes, I am.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

20 Seconds of Zen

Today, a first hike of the season for Charles. At the top, as promised, a beautiful little oasis.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Not Dead Yet

Above, our new apple tree. It's a semi-dwarf Fuji, and as you can see it has already been espaliered. It's not much older than our "stick" (the bare-root that never was), but much farther along the path I hope it will follow for us. Fingers crossed, please.

Underplanting the apple and pear trees are a pair of tiny miniature gingkoes. They're doing well, producing those characteristic gingko leaves and adding an interesting leaf shape to the garden.

This is the new pear. It's a big improvement over the stick, don't you think? Yeah. It's a Hosui, the same type, but obviously older, healthier, and even:

Bearing fruit. I have no idea whether the fruit on it this year will mature (transplant shock and all), but I'm hoping. There are maybe 20 pears on the tree, and given its size we hope to be able to eat from it next year at the latest.

I chose to take pictures at absolutely the wrong time of day, but what you're seeing here is the backyard from the southern vantage, looking west. On the left out of the frame is the Blue Weeping Atlas Cedar. Eight feet to the north, the Fuji apple, then the Hosui pear, and in the corner our little bamboo.

It still struggles, and I really don't know if the bamboo will survive. But at this point I'm hoping that the warmth of the sun and the ample water we provide (drainage is goooood here) help everyone to settle in.

If, and this is a big if, they all make it we'll have established the basic framework of our Japanese garden. After that it's underplanting with conifers and grasses, creating the rock border, and deciding where to place a fountain and a seating area.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Photos by Iain

Suddenly, it's HOT. As in 93 degrees. And SUNNY, as in all day long. Whew! We turned on the swamp cooler, broke out the tank tops, and I don't know if I'll wear socks again until September.

The garden moves forward, changing from spring crops to summer ones. I've pulled out most of the lettuce because it went bitter. And note to self: that oak leaf lettuce is just nasty. Nasty. Next year we will not be growing any of that.

The new fruit trees went in the ground early this week (photos soon), and the bamboo and bare-root roses are settling in. I suspect those roses may not make it, but time will tell. They came too late, they took a long time in shipping...meh. I dunno. Some things live and some die and I honestly can't tell which will do which.

But the tomatoes are in bloom, the raspberries are on their stalks (ripening, ripening) and I could go pick a few snow peas right now. The herb garden's simply amazing. So hurray for the raised beds!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garbeldy Garbeldy Garbeldy

What happens when you give Iain the camera.

Anna, It is kind of the innocence and wanted need to call and ask you if you want with those he'dabout yard selling someone I didn't see anything that on Saturday We're gonna try and get everythingset up. 30 around 7 and then and you know go from 8 until 12:30. Anyway, let us know. I hope yourmom took me a call. It sounds like you're gonna be by divert some good sleep. 4. Volunteeringanyway. Hope you're doing well. Talk to you Later. Bye Bye.

This is a voice mail received earlier today. Yep.

I love Google Voice because I can skim the voice mail for things like: hospital, emergency, call me, help, etc.

But the premise that one can actually understand the message? Not so much.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Arggh! My Nano!

Sooooo....yeah. A few months ago Charles surprised me with a wee gift. Very wee. Tiny, in fact. And blue. It was a Nano, Apple's weeny, teensy music and video player. For me - walking to school, working out, listening to history books while I surf - it was perfect.

Until last week. Here's the mental conversation:
Me: "Don't forget to take that Nano out of your pocket before you wash those shorts!"
Me: "Yep! Will do."

Five minutes later:
Me: "Egads! Must hike with Lawrence tomorrow morning - need clean shorts."
[congratulates self on quickly running a load of laundry.]
[pulls laundry out of washer. Notes, in transfer to dryer, a telltale white cord. Oh noes.]
Me: "You are truly stupid."
Me: "Yep!"

But Charles swooped to the rescue yet again. "Submerge it in rice for 72 hours."


Yes. So I sank it into our large tub of basmati (long-grain is the way to go, don't you think?) and waited. When the Nano emerged, it seemed completely dead. No little apple screen, no response to plugging it in. Time for a little, tiny funeral.

I researched new Ipods tonight. The shuffle? Not enough functionality. The new Nano? Apparently not very well engineered (here's a hint: brand new 6th gen sells for 134. The one I had? 5th Generation? $250! That should be a sign to someone.). The Touch? Way more than I wanted, but perhaps I should just do it. I was hovering over the button when Charles called out from downstairs.

Like Lazarus, my Nano rose from its grave to play Rihanna again. And the Man of LaMancha soundtrack, too. Yea, even the Simon Schama has returned to the land of the living. Verily, a miracle in rice.

I'm so, so happy. There will be no need to mock me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Gotta put my gear in the back before we can take off, honey. But once I'm done: we ride!

It's been crazytown hereabouts. Yesterday I took Iain to camp, flew down the hill to drop off my computer and print out a Groupon, then back out to use that Groupon, then back to school to get my laptop, then up to Red Butte Gardens to hold our place in line, then back down the hill to pack up two boxes of berries (red and black grapes, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) with a bottle of wine for...the Buddy Guy/Mavis Staples concert.

But. Then I got to sit and listen to Mavis Staples and Buddy Guy. All worth it. Except maybe for the painful sunburn on my forearms. Note to self: if you're sitting on the line, bring an umbrella and wear sunscreen. Srsly.

'Kay, let's fly.

Today we celebrated Charles' birthday. First, Iain and I presented him with two first editions (a Heinlein and a Ballard). Then we had a little potty training crisis. Two showers, one bath and a full-surface bleach wipedown of the bathroom later, we gave Iain a haircut. He was not pleased. After that it was lunch, errands and a visit to Grandma, then naptime.

And now we're watching Dora the Explorer, relaxing with ice water and teh interwebs. Tomorrow, Professor Culver returns for more fun and we begin to dig the holes for our two new fruit trees. Oh, and the high tomorrow is forecast to be 59 degrees F. Ha! Summer, indeed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Hike of the Year

The hillsides at Red Butte Garden are alive! In fact, they're so overgrown that volunteers scurry around cutting back all the vegetation. At times you have to blaze the trail anew.

But check out those flowers! And the sunshine. And the cool breeze. And the 70 degree temps. Ah, Utah.

Dr. Culver dropped in last night for a brief visit, so this morning we trekked up the hills above the Garden. He's off to Logan, then back again at the end of the weekend for more fun (read: sushi).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hippies! In the Park!

Recently, the most effective tool in our Battle of the Toddler arsenal has been...the threat of a haircut. Iain says he doesn't like the sound of the clippers. Whatever the reason, he will do (or not do) nearly anything to avoid a haircut.

So he looks like this. Check out those waves. I could make a great little mohawk out of that.

In other news, I drove down to Millcreek today to buy tomato cages. But you know how they are. I bought two tomato cages (and I love them because one is magenta and the other lemon yellow!), about ten small drought-tolerant ground covers (hens-n-chicks, plus a bunch of other stuff), and...

A big ol' Korean pear plus an espaliered Fuji apple tree.

Yes. I know. I only blogged yesterday about the sad demise of our bare-root trees. But here in the Snowy Mountains/Desert you have to act fast or you lose your window. So when the man at Millcreek said "yes, I have fruit trees" and I saw that lovely little apple tree...

They arrive Saturday. I already love them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Good news: I planted bamboo (finally!) and it's happily settling into its corner. This is a clumping bamboo (fargesia rufa), which will get to a bout 8-10 feet tall in about 2 years.

Good news: Iain's road grader helped me to dig, then plant two holes. Roses in both. I've put in one Graham Thomas plus one Gertrude Jekyll, and if things go right we should have a beautiful display of roses climbing on the fence corner in a few years. They'll be outside the fence, so our neighbors enjoy them but within the fence we'll preserve the Japanese garden aesthetic.

There's that Gertie.

Bad news: not only do I think the pear tree I planted last fall has died, I think the apple tree has died, too. The apple made lovely leaves all over, but they've now turned grey and shriveled. Neither tree looks like it's putting out anything new. Wah. So now I'll have to go check out local trees (not bare-root specimens) and see what happens.

No peonies this year, either. The bushes made buds but then a late frost made them burn. So I don't think there will be any flowers until next spring.

Gardening: not for the weak.

Friday, June 10, 2011

California (Knows How To Party)

Hello from the road. Light blogging post-Thursday because I've been traveling in SoCal.

We've eaten of the sushi, we've shopped of the outdoor mall, we've partaken of the film industry's latest offering (X Men). I worked out this morning and have a fresh pedicure.

I love Southern California.

Look for new and exciting pictures of my lettuce come Sunday.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Spring Color

Our neighbor owns this little duplex on the corner. Above it tower a set of trees that bloom in late May. I love these trees. The one you see here produces huge sprays of white flowers - similar to a crepe myrtle, but much more appealing as a tree. But wait...

This tree is really the superstar. Just like its neighbors except pink. And I mean, PINK.

With flecks of yellow to pop your eyes to the center of each tiny flower, pink!

I'm not normally a pink enthusiast. I prefer yellow and purple in the garden. But these trees are a delight. Our neighbor's grandfather planted the pink specimens more than seventy years ago. Last winter, one lost a huge branch and the city decided to cut it down. It's quite a loss, from my point of view. But today I saw several just like it, perhaps ten years old, blooming along 13th South.

Unrelated: today we had to buy a new booster seat on the fly. When we got to camp this morning (Camp! Glorious camp!) Iain asked me, "What's this?" That's a plastic part from your carseat, son. It should not be in your hand.

So I bought a new booster, installed it, and used that on the pickup.
  • Me: "Iain, you have a new booster, see? Just like in Grandma's car."
  • Iain: "Thank you, it's lovely!"
In other news, Iain pooped in the potty tonight. Twice.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Gardening as Dadaism

Last year I ordered two climbing roses from my favorite company: David Austin Roses.

They specialize in old English garden roses, many of which they create and name in honor of outstanding subjects of Great Britain.

My very favorite of Austin's roses is Graham Thomas. Golden yellow shading to peach, it smells like honeysuckle and opens to reveal a beautiful multi-petaled heart. I lovelovelove it. So I ordered a climbing Graham Thomas and another climber called Constance Spry.

But we got here in mid-May and I ordered in late May and they said it was too late. They'd hold my order until spring, 2011. Great! And by great I meant, crap! But I accepted their expertise.

Fast forward to spring, 2011. No rose. No rose. Nothing. I email. Nothing. I email again, and this time I get a reply (a very nice reply) and a promise to check on it.

A week later, they ship me a rose. It's supposed to be Graham Thomas because their supply of Constance Spry was "disappointing" or something. That's ok, through another email exchange they decide to send me another Graham Thomas. I figure I'll plant them together, train them over the fence, and all God's children will drool over my roses.

We received the first plant this week, and I planted it this morning (after letting my newest baby soak overnight in a bucket of water). When I reached down to remove the plastic tags, I say that they said "Gertrude Jekyll." Uh...

That's not Graham Thomas. That's not even yellow. It's pink. Hot pink. And it has an "old rose" fragrance, not the honeysuckle I wanted.

Well, poop.

So if we're being positive: now my fence will be pink and yellow, which is very pretty. Now I won't have duplicate Graham Thomas. Now I will repeat to myself, "gardening is always about accidents. Always."

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Last year, I began to work on the beds in our front yard. They contained four things on the left: a Japanese maple (in desperate need of some love), two small, shade-loving shrubs, three hostas, and an invasive ground cover.

I planted two shrubs (one died over the winter, but I've replaced it and now things seem back on track), some lemon thyme, some Japanese striped grass, and a row of little tiny mossy things. I forget what they're called. And over the winter I forgot that they make flowers! Flowers! Tiny, white and pink flowers that are so adorable I just want to squeeze them.

Check them out next to the pansies. Those pansies are practically climbing out of the ground.

Ain't it purty? A couple more years for the shrubs to grow and the tree to mature and I think we might have a pretty nice bed over there on the left.

The right is another story. Bleh. Needs work.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hens and Chicks

Around here, water's scarce. Many of our neighbors have xeriscaped yards, with boulders and drought-tolerant plants but no grass.

We, on the other hand, have a beautiful expanse of bright green grass. It's watered all summer long by an automatic sprinkler system. The lawn needs mowing, weeding, watering, and raking about half the year.

Could we replace it? Our neighbor Linda told me that she was the first on our block to dig up her grass. One day she just started planting other things. So that's what I did, too. Two weeks ago I planted a little circle of Hens and Chicks. They're drought-tolerant, they renew themselves by generating little replacement plants (the chicks), and they are cheap.

Behold, the first patch. There are two patches, now, and perhaps soon I'll add some grasses (the kind you don't cut), some boulders, and some other heat-lovers. My plan is that eventually we'll have only a small portion of the yard for grass (if that) and we can cut back on watering, mowing, etc.