Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Butterflies!" "Lots of butterflies!"

On a still evening the fragrance is intense in our front yard, the porch, and even into the house. The fragrance comes mostly from Confederate jasmine and the roses Buff Beauty (1939 - year of introduction) and Maggie (unknown)..

4/19. I’ve been watching for fireflies and tonight was the first night they were out around our house.

4/20. A mother and child about 3-4 years old were walking by the house. The child exclaimed “Butterflies!” His mom responded, “Lots of butterflies!”

Photo: The walk up to our house. The rose on the arbor is New Dawn (1930) and there in another rose with smaller blooms in the right of the photo - Marie Pavie (1888). Blue and white flowers are larkspur, an old-fashioned annual that reseeds every year.

4/22. I was sitting on the front porch and a blue jay landed on the edge of the porch, then quickly flew away. A few minutes later I saw the first hummingbird I’ve seen this year. Aha! I put a wide shallow container of water at the edge of the porch. That will be the 4th of the sources of water we maintain for birds.

I was watching a television program called Children’s Med. It’s about Children’s Medical Center in Dallas; it’s about life and death and things that are part of those: fear, hope, agony, joy, waiting, the most meticulous work imaginable, and so on. And the staff – some heavy-hitters, people spending years on the edge, people with vast knowledge, people who push the clinical envelope all the way past the known frontiers, people of mercy and compassion… One of the nurses said, “I can’t think of a higher purpose.” It amazes me that I’ve worked with some of those people and I’ve taught some of them.;

Sending time with Leslie (today we tried Colonel Kababz – chicken tika masala, an eggplant dish, naan chicken biryani, onion, potato pastry all for $8); working in the yard; baking cookies, bread, a most amazing flourless chocolate cake; looking to the mountains, to San Francisco, to dancing in the forest. 

Photo: A nice front porch to sit on, seeing (through the roses and other foliage) our quiet street. I made both the tables >40 years ago, the blue and white ceramic incense burner we bought in Saigon; the big pot once held "100 year-old" eggs; there's a kaffir lime tree, fossils, a split rock from the incredible Wind River Mountains, a small Burmese temple gong...

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the garden; retirement

(From email to S) When you get out of your car, the plant with large leaves on your left is Swiss chard, going to seed. The tall plants with airy foliage and delicate white flowers are cilantro going to seed. Down lower, the plant with purplish flowers is sage. On your right, the plant with grayish foliage and many small flower spires is old-fashioned lavender. The tall plants with airy foliage and spires of mostly blue, and a few white or pink spires are larkspur – an old-fashioned annual that reseeds itself every year. That's one place on the median strip. Photo: Passiflora (in back garden)

Over the past two weeks, out front, I‘ve planted tomatoes (Big Bush and Big Bush Early Girl) and peppers (serrano and jalapeno); divided and transplanted the big clump of lemon grass, some garlic, rosemary, Mexican tarragon; and planted some sweet alyssum. I’ve been working on the soil (the most important part) for years. The Texas mountain laurel is at the end of its spectacular bloom and so is the rosemary; the wood sorrel (oxalis) is an undulating carpet of little pink flowers on mounds of leaves like clover; and some of the roses are blooming (Katy Road Pink, Maggie, Archduke Charles, Marie Pavie, Cecile Brunner, and Buff Beauty), as are lavender, sage, and most of the iris. The larkspur is spectacular.
The landscaping crews call our house “la casa de las rosas.” All of the roses in the front yard are old garden roses; for example, Cecile Brunner (the sweetheart rose) was introduced in 1881, Old Blush in 1752, Archduke Charles sometime before 1837, and so on. Photo (below): Front yard, with Katy Road Pink blooming in foreground
In the back, I’ve cleared a densely overgrown area of the garden and planted pole beans, cantaloupe, basil, cilantro, tomato, pepper,

and for flowers, so far, I’ve planted stock, zinnia, and moonflower. All of this against a backdrop of a magnificent growth of passiflora in full bloom. The rest of the back garden is pretty overgrown, with several peach trees (need to thin the fruit), several roses blooming (Tiffany, Fragrant Cloud, a coral-colored rose, Lady Banks, Marie Pavie, and Zepherine Drouhin – my favorite), herbs growing very well (rosemary, oregano, savory, garlic, and several others), San Pedro growing slowly, and there is a great stand of peach-colored bearded iris.
The main things happening are Leslie and I just hanging out and traveling together (Asia and Cali). I’m backpacking, baking, gardening, and increasingly involved in the local psytrance scene. But the main thing is being with Leslie.
A basic day
  • Coffee together in bed, talking, watching the birds and Chubby the squirrel, I get a leg rub, we plan our day.
  • To the gym – 30 minutes all-together with 20 minutes on the Stairmaster, getting ready for a trek in the Winds. 45 pushups, this and that machines.
  • Work in the garden – major projects going on. I’m clearing and digging an area that’s been overgrown for years. I’ll grow beans, cantaloupe, squash, and basil in this new area; roses, other flowers, peaches, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers are growing elsewhere.
  • Meanwhile, Leslie is working on David’s retirement plans.
  • To lunch with Leslie – Aw Shucks to split a catfish basket.
  • 15 minute nap
  • Then Leslie lies down for a back and leg rub, then a nap.
  • Garden

  • Internet
  • Working on some bread – two “no-knead” country loaves, one with pepper jack cheese and one plain. I’ll bake tomorrow.
  • Dinner with Leslie
  • Hanging out, partly with Leslie, partly alone - internet, looking at maps (plotting out routes in the Wind Rivers), reading
Other days/other things: I go to Bible study almost every week and church school some Sundays. Leslie spends a lot of time working on the business parts of our life and is still usually involved in helping someone else. She and I have found so many great places to eat, like Ban Cuon Thang Long, Pho Bang, IndoPak Café, First Chinese BBQ, and of course, Central Market, so we have lunch out together almost every day, though about once/week we each have lunch with a friend. Most weeks I have dinner with my brothers, usually at El Taquito. Photo (above): Back garden. Pink roses are Tiffany, red roses in back are Zepherine Drouhin, red roses at left front are actually coral-colored and I don't know the name, iris to the left, and the small flowers in lower left corner are native columbine. Photo below taken from street in front of our house. Blue spires are larkspur, white flowers are iris, I don't know the name of the yellow flowers.
Planning: travel to Cali to be with David, maybe elsewhere too, like Boston, maybe Nepal; trance events (yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky); backpacking, including a short hike in the Sangre de Cristos and a 10-11 day trek on the Glacier Trail in the Wind Rivers –

“an epic journey” according to my guidebook.