Thursday, June 4, 2009

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Opuntia Elata

First blooms today on the big Opuntia elata, a fairly obscure prickly pear cactus from Argentina, with beautiful deep orange blossoms that fade to yellow. Misty drizzle this morning. Thunderstorms still forecast, but no real rain. The piper who lives behind us is practicing her bagpipes, giving everything a very Scottish feel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Miscellaneous: Heavy Rain Today (June 3, 2009)

Rain in June is rare here, but we're having a downpour. The official rain year begins on July 1, so this is likely the last rain of the 2008-2009 season. From the perspective of the plants in the garden, it's simply a last sip of water before the long dry season begins. Checking the rain gauge, we seem to have gotten only a tenth of an inch, which won't make much of a difference--although it'll mean spraying the grapes with sulfur again to prevent mildew.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Miscellaneous: First Heirloom Tomatoes of the Season

First heirloom tomatoes of the season today. Fair, but still much better than the plastic, tasteless tomatoes we typically get over the winter. Not cheap at $4.99 a pound, but that's better than usual for early-season heirloom tomatoes, which often start at $6.99 a pound. Do we have the weak economy to thank? Sliced them with finely chopped garlic, a little sea salt, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I can taste summer....

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Chitalpa

First blooms today or yesterday on the Chitalpa tree in the back yard. The Chitalpa is a very attractive, moderately-sized tree that does very well in our dry climate (Santa Rosa, CA).

It's a cross between the desert willow and the catalpa tree. Not as majestic as the catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) but with more presence than the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), it's a good compromise for a garden without the space for a catalpa. Hummingbirds love the flowers (around here, mostly Anna's hummingbirds).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Miscellaneous: Macintosh Desktop Patterns

I've been amusing myself recently by making new desktop patterns for the Macintosh. About 15 years ago I had some success selling these as shareware.  That was back in the days of ResEdit and PPATs. Now, I'm making full-screen designs. Some of them I like well enough to start thinking about translating into prints. If I get together another good collection of the desktop versions, maybe I'll try offering them on the Internet. Free to friends. Just ask.

Miscellaneous: Last Titanic Survivor Died Today

I note in passing that Elizabeth Gladys Dean, the last survivor of the Titanic, died today in England. She was nine months old when the ship went down. She was 97 years old. If you ever want to read a great book about the Titanic, try The Titanic: End of a Dream, by Wyn Craig Wade (1986 Penguin Paperback). Not only is it a fascinating, well-written account of the sinking, it's an excellent sketch of the politics of the day and it has a great deal to say about how the disaster affected things like congressional investigations.
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