Archive for the ‘photos’ Category

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy? and other Americana for the 4th

July 5, 2007

First of all, the answer to the question posed:


This may not look like the cherry pies you’re used to. The pie cherries didn’t look like what I’m used to.

Some years ago, long before I had anything serious to do with this place, Ben had an Ag-science grad student living in his pig sty (not as bad as it sounds, it had been converted to a guest residence by the time I saw it) and charged her with selecting some fruit trees for what is now our orchard.

I don’t know how much you know about cherries, but they thrive best is there are a couple of different varieties planted to cross-pollinate. Debra planted a pie cherry next to a Royal Anne (really next to it, for years I thought it was one tree). I used to nag Ben about not watering one side of the tree enough. Then I tasted the cherries and discovered we had pie cherries. Whoopee!

I don’t know what variety they are. When ripe, they are a dark reddish black like Bings. But they have an intense cherry flavor. I’ve never seen them before. But tonight we’ll be really taste-testing them for the first time. Ben’s “pigeon abatement program” succeeded wildly, and he said if he didn’t get at least one cherry pie (weird in itself–he doesn’t even like sweet stuff although he maintains he will eat anything I grow and so far he’s been true to that), he’d be really disgusted.

Here’s what our crop looks like this year. Pie cherries:


Royal Annes: I was going to show you these as well, but Adobe is not cooperating and I’m out of patience.

Here’s the current state of the blueberry crop:


There’s nothing for scale here, but most of these berries are about the size of a nickel.

And here are the raspberries:


Again, nothing for scale, but the last two days I’ve picked a quart or so each day in my miniscule patch, and there are that many more out there now. I’m giving them away as fast as I can. I baked a raspberry-custard tart and took it to my writing group yesterday. It disappeared in an instant.

I probably wouldn’t be writing this now, except for the fact that I’ve been uncharacteristically silent. As a result, some people that I really care a lot about have written to see if I’m all right. And of course I am, I’m just totally overwhelmed by the garden and the produce and so on. It’s summer on the Big Elk.

My largest and most enthusiastic cabbage heads are spitting, so I’ve got to go make sauerkraut. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the sauerkraut will actually be ready in September for Oktoberfest, a first.

Slouching toward summer: Photos of hummers and garden

June 15, 2007

I have no creativity at the moment, so here’s a quick update on the state of things around here.

I’ve tried and tried (without much success) to get a few good pictures of the hummingbirds. But when the light is right, I don’t have the camera, and blah, blah, blah. But maybe these will give you some idea of the crowd around the back deck. If you look carefully, you can count 7 (two of them tails only) on the feeder with one waiting in the wings. You can’t see the other 9-10 that are diving around in the trees.


One of the rufous ones just coming in for a landing. Note the alert posture of some of the others waiting to see if she’s going to eat or attack:


The current state of the blueberry crop:


I’ve been eating a few raspberries and strawberries. These won’t be too long. They’re the earliest of my six varieties.

Here’s the top part of the garden:


Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, radishes, onions, bush green beans, baby and mature lettuce, a few tomato plants, some herbs(cilantro and dill), and the strawberry bed in the background. Below the fold, so to speak, off to my left, are corn, squash(four kinds), melons, cucumbers, more tomatoes, some volunteer potatoes, hot peppers, green peppers, eggplant, artichokes, and rhubarb. The bare spot on the left is a road to get the mowers or the RTV in and out. There are also a few scattered flowers–roses, dahlias, zinnias, and snapdragons. Those are for the soul rather than the stomach.

Some pictures for Jenny of spring in the Pacific NW part of the U.S.

May 28, 2007

But the rest of you might enjoy them, too.

Between the garden, houseguests, and trying to get my manuscript together, I’m in overload and don’t have the concentration to write something creative here. So here are a few pictures instead.

Here are a couple of my friends the hummingbirds. Ralph and I went to town very early this morning for the Sunday papers and I forgot to check their food before I left. Ben went out to have a cigarette (I am now more than three days without one) and said they were dive bombing him, shaking their wings (he couldn’t tell if the middle feather was extended or not), and cursing in hummer talk. They are calmer here, they’ve been fed:


Today I counted 12 at one time, but it’s rather difficult to get a reasonably focused picture when they’re all buzzing around. And the feeder is in the shade most of the time, so you can’t see the irridescence of their feathers.

Here is what spring looks like down by the river:


The bright blue flowers are larkspur, on stems about 3 feet (1 meter) tall. The white flowers that look a little like Queen Anne’s Lace are really something called cow parsnip. The foliage is very different from QAL, as you can see. This combination stretches for about 1/4 mile along the river near us.

The building in this picture is Ben’s workshop. The orange/light yellow flowers are “red hot poker.” The orioles love this plant, which is why I was hoping the strange bird I saw the other day was an oriole. The tall spindly stuff next to the pokers is horseradish. The branch you can see just above the rain gauge (I’m glad I took this picture, I didn’t realize the tree is growing over the rain gauge) is a sumac, just unfolding now, that turns neon orange in the fall.


That’s it for tonight. . .