Six on Saturday – September 8, 2018 – Fall on the Way

It doesn’t feel like fall yet. Our weather has been hot and humid. Stepping outside is like stepping into a sauna, but my husband is talking about moving firewood to the deck — when it cools off. He’s not into the gardens so much, but a fire everynight though the fall and winter is his thing. He takes total responsibility for ordering and stacking wood. We are always a cord and a half ahead so we have really nice, dry oak to burn. Coming from a house with five fireplaces, I am thrilled we are down to one.

  1. This was the week one of the river birches was removed. There is a flowering cherry, a small maple and a crepe myrtle that will fill in a lot of that area. I need to spend some time sitting and looking before I jump in and plant anything. The people who removed the tree also ground the stump. I need to dig some soil into the grindings and let it sit for a bit.
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Before

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After removal of river birch

2. Black-tailed Swallowtail. I have been watching the three chrysalis that I found. One hatched before I noticed. Another is taking forever which seems very odd. I think it’s dead.  And the third isn’t doing anything yet. Lots of black swallowtails are flying in the garden so I guess the birds didn’t get all the caterpillars. The fuzzy photo below is one that sat briefly on some foliage. One of its wings was deformed so I wondered if it had just hatched and wasn’t totally unfolded yet or was at the end of its life span.

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3. My Beauty Berry (Callicarpa) is beginning to turn purple. Some rubeckia have grown through making a nice diplay. When I googled Beauty Berry to get the scientific name, I also saw a link for Beauty Berry jelly. I don’t have enough berries to make jelly but it never would have occured to me to do so. The color would have said POISON to me.IMG_7262

4. Along my morning walk a Blackberry lily is seeding. I wonder if I could successfully grow this from seeds. The spring flowers are red orange.

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5. Figs from a friend were made into fig jam. I used the jam recipe in the SureJell package but substituted one cup of brown sugar for one of the cups of white sugar and added some vanilla. It is much better than my fig jam from last year. I made notes in my Bell Canning book from forty years ago.

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6. A stop at a local nursery where all shrubs were 40% off meant I brought three Heller’s Japanese Hollys and three Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ home.  This wasn’t as impulsive as it sounds. I had been there earlier in the week and didn’t buy anything.

I don’t know where they will go yet, but probably in the area where the river birch came out.  I can stick the pots in the area and move them around to see what I like. There some abelias that don’t get so tall that I also have my eye on. If they are still there when things go to 50% off, I may get a couple.IMG_7281

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Writing Between Leaf Castings and Fig Condiments

It’s raining this morning. This rain doesn’t have anything to do with Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. I’ve been watching the coverage and can’t imagine what all those people are going to do after the rain stops and the clean-up begins. It’s going to take years. Honestly, I don’t know how the whole Houston area could have been evacuated. Where would everyone have gone? And, not everyone has the resources to be able to leave. 

I had a leaf casting workshop scheduled, but that’s not going to happen. Actually it got cancelled yesterday afternoon when the “student” texted me from Lowe’s to say they were all out of the QuickCrete patcher with vinyl which is what we’ve been using. Maybe we bought out their supply. 

My yoga buddy, Gail, and I made the one shown below. It is the largest one we’ve made so far. It took two buckets of QuickCrete – 40 pounds and was 40″ long. We had to get more sand for the form to put the leaf on. I now have about 150 lbs of sand on the table.

The photo below gives a better idea of the size. It’s in the trunk of my Honda Accord. I delivered it to Gail at our morning yoga class. And had two more people beg to have a class.

The top edge of this one isn’t perfect, but I remind myself that leaves aren’t always either. Gail’s leaf is a third bigger than the one I made for Laura for Christmas last year.

Figs

Another yoga buddy, Hanna, has a surfeit of figs this year and gave me a bag that weighed over 5 pounds. I made some fantastic fig chutney and then a double batch of fig jam. I think we have enough jam to see us through the winter. Here’s the link for the recipe that I pulled off the internet. It’s delicious. Fig Chutney.

Of course, Hanna got a pint jar of Fig Chutney.

I put the chutney and jam through a 10 minute hot water canning bath before storing. I made half pints of the jam for gifts.

During all of this our 10 year old French door refrigerator died. Higgins and Spencer, our local furniture and appliance store, quickly brought us a loaner late on a Saturday afternoon and put it in the garage. We transfered food and didn’t lose anything. Apparently 10 years is the expected life of big appliances these days. The replacement has been ordered but it may be another week. I didn’t want ice and water in the door. We had that in the old one and we never used it. And I wanted white which must not be a popular color. Old fart statement: I expect major appliances to last at least 25 years!

I’m hoping the dishwasher, stove and washer and dryer, which were all bought at the same time ten years ago, don’t decide to die for awhile.

Stepping down into the garage to the fridge is a pain, but I remind myself that in earlier times I could have been walking through the rain to the spring house.

Writing Update

The first book in the Caribbean series is off to the proof reader. I am now looking at the second book. I think because of a plot twist that’s crucial in the third book (not yet completed) that I need to add some fore shadowing to the second book. Republishing gives one a chance to fix some things.

Today I am having a phone consultation about the republishing process with Ally Machate. I know Ally from the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. She’s been one of our speakers many times. I’m hoping this will help me be clearer about the order of the steps to be taken.

So the writing continues every day with breaks from my desk for leaf castings and fig condiments.