July 2008


Umm, eight days since my last post. Yeah, the daily thing’s not going so well, I guess. But I’m still posting more often than I used to, and that was sort of the ultimate goal, so I’m not going to get too upset.


Dinner a few nights ago. Fresh fava beans from the garden, with some pasta, loads of fresh thyme and oregano (from the garden) and olive oil and feta. Simple, fresh, and so delicious.

Favas are really good when they’re in season, but it’s a short season, it takes a lot of pods (a couple pounds!) to get enough beans to make a meal, and they’re so much work to prepare. You have to shell them, boil them briefly, then skin each bean. You might start to wonder if it’s really worth the effort.

But then you eat them.

And it is.

And we’re figuring out how we can grow a larger crop next year, because really, we might only get that one meal plus a little more out of this year’s fava bed. And that is not enough.


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Last weekend, at a local island festival.


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It’s a Girl!!

Well, actually, two girls. Two female kiwi vines.

We moved into this house last September, and the previous owner told us the two kiwi vines out back were supposed to be a male and a female, but since they’d never produced anything in the seven years they’d been there, she thought, perhaps, they were, in fact, both the same. Two males, or two females, she didn’t know.

(Quick kiwi lesson: The female bears fruit after about 5 – 9 years, but needs a male plant, of any age, for pollination. The only way to tell the sex of a kiwi vine is to look at the flowers when they bloom in late spring/early summer.)

We waited and waited and waited for flowers, hoping for at least one female so we might have a chance at fresh kiwi fruit this year or next. We even planted a male in the spring, just in case, but the slugs ate it.

A couple of days ago, the first flower opened on one of the vines. I looked up the pictures online and discovered, to our great delight, it is a female! And today, the second vine opened flowers and it’s also female!


Now all we need is a male to pollinate them. It can be done by hand — we just need to find someone with some flowering male kiwi vines who can donate a few flowers to kiss our flowers and hopefully we’ll have fruit!

And next year, we can try planting a male again and coddle it a bit more to ensure survival and a crop of garden fresh kiwi fruit!


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Some chard from the garden. This pile is about equivalent to 3 or 4 bunches from the store and we ate it all at once. So fresh, right from the garden.


So very very good.


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Empty Nest

We happened to be sitting outside a few days ago when there arose a great squawking and flapping and fluttering and lo, the babies left the nest. All at once, and amid great excitement. There were two adult robins zooming around making a lot of noise, and I’m not entirely sure if they were yelling at the babies to kick them out of the nest (sorry, encourage them to take flight), or if they were worried that they weren’t ready and were yelling at them to stay put.

Either way, the babies left the nest and we saw at least one of them actually flying away.


There’s just one lonely little egg left.

– – – – – –

So much for every day, huh. Oh well. I’ll keep trying.


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We have a lot of this plant. It appeared this spring, took a long time to flower, and then a while for us to figure out what on earth it was. (Centauria Montana. It spreads.) And then it all fell over, the flowers were fading, and I trimmed it back.

And it’s starting again! It’s sending up new shoots, just like it did back in, oh, April.


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Baby Birds

A little while ago, we noticed a bird’s nest perched on top of the fence in the depths of our kiwi vine. It was impossible to look into it, since it is just about head height, so I did what any sane, digital-camera-equipped, curious (okay, nosy) person would — I held my camera over it and took a picture.

There were four perfect little blue robin’s eggs.


We watched and tried to stay clear of it for a couple of weeks. Of course, I’m also trying to watch the kiwi vines for blossoms, so we can tell if we’ve got a mating pair and any hope of fruit or not, and quite a few times I scared the mama bird and she flapped off, squawking indignantly at me. I took a few more pictures here and there to see what had become of her eggs.

One day, I got a shock. First, I got this:


And then, suddenly, and with a high-pitched chirp, I got this:


They thought my camera was mama! Scared the life out of me!

And apparently I don’t learn, because I did it again a few days later!


They’re clearly getting a little bigger. I can’t tell how many there are, though.

A few days ago we discovered another robin’s nest, hidden in the blackberries we were trying to hack back, because we accidentally knocked two fledglings out onto the ground. They were probably only a day or so from being able to really fly, and they hopped and fluttered around a few inches above the ground. The entire local community of adult robins perched themselves in the surrounding trees and started yelling at us. They were mad. And there were lots of them. And they all cared about these little guys, it wasn’t just one mama. I had no idea they were so village-ish. Eric found one in the grass and managed to carry it back to the bushes where it was more camouflaged and hopefully safer.

I’m really curious about our kiwi vine nest now. I haven’t dared the camera again, but I’ve peeked in occasionally and can usually see a beak sticking up. I wonder how many there are and how soon they’ll be ready to leave the nest. ::sniff::


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I’ve been working on creating a sandbox for the boys for the last few weeks. Digging, by hand, an 8′ x 8′ pit, one foot deep.


I worked on it a little bit at a time, a day here, a day there. With helpers, of course. Made a nice big hole in the ground.


Then we built a low wooden frame for it. Corner posts over which we can loop some sort of netting to prevent the cat from getting in.


And THEN!! Finally!! Yesterday, we were ready for sand.

We had a dump truck! In our driveway!



Spectators watch the dump truck approach the forest.


The dump truck managed to get through our half-acre woods, between garden beds and raspberries, and down the yard to where the hole was ready and waiting.


And then there was 4 cubic yards of sand. Just like that.


The truck hadn’t even turned to leave before there was a boy on top of that mountain of sand.


And many hours worth of fun followed.



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New duvet cover, made from three old sheets found at the thrift store.


Vintage yellow roses feel so happy and summery. Even if they’re covering up a feather duvet, still in use most nights in July.


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Christmas Tree

On the weekend of the solstice, we had our own sort of special celebration to mark the event.

We burned the Christmas tree.


We’d been saving it in our little half-acre woods since taking it out of the house in January.


It was seriously dried up and caught fire quickly. This is just the top half, I wasn’t prepared with my camera for the first part.


It burned really quickly and dramatically.


I think this may become something of a summer solstice tradition around here.


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