Saturday, February 15, 2014

Only hopes for the future

Lisa reminded me that worrying about summer fruit during the winter might be a time-honored farmer thing to do, but it doesn't mean it's actually useful.

That said? I'm worrying about my summer fruit right now. The trees are covered with beautiful blooms:


Another worry is that by removing all of my bees there won't be enough bees to pollinate my trees. I haven't yet seen any workers on the trees, although I've seen them out front on the lime tree. I know there are at least two hives one street over -- plenty of bees, should they scout out these trees. It's not as though I can compel them, however. So -- I worry.

In addition, not all the things that are blooming are good things (apologies to Dr. Seuss). The unseasonable warmth means it's time to cut back the existing AND replant more kale.


So I don't really know what's going to happen.

Then there's one more project in the works:

That's the decanted and mixed limoncello. We'll see how it turns out. I tasted the unsugared base, and nearly was knocked off of my feet. I hope it mellows -- that Everclear is strong stuff. No wonder the Italians insist it be served straight from the freezer. You probably don't want your mouth to actually get all of the taste.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Makings, Old and New

Nothing warms this knitter's heart like seeing a beloved sweater passed down among the kids. It's softer, felted, and still delightful.

I think there's an adult in the making. She's still not that close, but growing up takes a LOT of energy, and sometimes you have to fall asleep, face down on the floor. Under the dining table.

She's been busy with school projects. I give you the Sewer Pipe Harp.

For some reason, apple pie seemed reasonable for tonight. I cheated and bought a crust, but it's still mostly homemade. It may end up as breakfast tomorrow.

And there's knitting, but it's mostly left over from unfinished Christmas, so I'm not showing it. And the rain is reminding me that there is at least a chance we're having a winter, so that's nice. If wet, and doggy, and drippy. I know there are people with much worse weather out there, so I'm not too upset. It's good for us, certainly.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Now with more Ultimate

Remember the summer trips to Minnesota for the big youth club championship tournament?

The highlight video is up.

What amazes me now, watching this, is that both Sarafina and Adam have gotten exponentially better in just a few short months, and they look pretty good in this clip. It's going to be an interesting next few years.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

When pruning gives you lemons. . .

Careful pruning this year means that the Meyer tree is doing what all the other Meyer trees around here do -- pumping out lemons as though it's going out of style. This year, I went to BevMo and got prepared.

There are many different zesting options in my drawer. I tried two at first. The little strip zester seemed to be better at taking off only the yellow stuff, but even that got more difficult. I may have become impatient after a few tries, too.

Then I remembered a post somewhere on the internet about zesting essentially from the inside out. Tablespoon to the rescue.

If I aimed correctly, I ended up with a round bit of lemon and an empty shell.

Then the fun really started. In varying ways, I tried holding down the half shell and scraping out the white pith. Everyone is really serious about how you must get all of that white pith out, or doom will ensue. I tend to take stuff like that pretty seriously, and then spent all of the time (except for the brief errand run for chicken food) left obsessing about whether or not I was getting all of the stuff out.

Scrape, scrape, scrape.

The peels didn't always stand up well to that kind of force, but my cutting board is well-oiled with pure lemon oil. My hands aren't super happy, though. The jar has many different bits of scraped peel on it. I aimed for the clearest yellow part of the piece to the right of the spoon in that picture, and mostly think I got there. We'll see.

So, in a few months (?) we'll see what I've made. Ellie and I were talking as I was buying the Everclear, and I was explaining that it's pure alcohol, famed for fraternity parties and making people extremely inebriated, but that it didn't have a flavor to interfere with the lemon flavor. So she said, "You're making alcohol that tastes like lemons?"

"Well, after the peels have steeped for about a month and a half, we'll add some simple syrup, you know, water and sugar boiled together?"

"So you're making super-alcoholic lemonade?"

"I'm not serving it to people by the TUMBLER!"

The funny thing is that I may not end up serving it to anyone. I'm the only one in the family who actually seems to like the nocino that I made, and even I rarely drink it. A digestif seems odd drunk alone, to me. Anyhow, the few times that I have encountered limoncello, in Sorrento, and other Italian towns, it wasn't exactly love at first sip.

In fact, I reacted a lot like the character "Ben" on Parks and Recreation in this clip. Just hated it. Like bad lemon-flavored cough medicine. To be fair, I'm also so-so on Lagavulin. . . So why make something that makes me want to wipe my tongue?

Well, it might be different.

And it might not.

But someone, somewhere may like it, and hey, it's a new thing to try, right?

Friday, December 27, 2013


After the busyness of getting ready for the holidays (see, we did decorate these houses, although Oona kind of wandered far afield from the whole "sticking things on cookies" theme), things have gotten very quiet today.

Math with a nearly-asleep dog in one's lap.

Reading with a chewing dog in one's lap.

What happens when the kid gets the camera. I had hoped to feature the knitting I was doing -- knitting I wrapped up as a gift, still on the needles. It will be done, really, soon. I promise!

When I was out making pointy mulch piles flat with the help of my inexplicably broken rake, I remembered that the chickens needed water and probably food. Look what was waiting in the nest box! The days are lengthening, but I didn't know the chickens had noticed yet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Assembly time

In a previous life, I studied counseling psychology and had to take a lot of tests. Personality tests, intelligence tests, tests of psychosis, etc. While scoring low in psychosis, I tended to score high in what was called divergent thinking -- thinking out of the box.

Do I still put this trait to use, lo these many years later?

You know I do.

Exhibit A: gingerbread house pre-assembly, without uniform pieces.

If I can keep the dogs from snacking until that icing sets up, these little A-frame cabins are going to be turned right side up and hidden until tomorrow, when the decorating will begin.

This year we'll have a detail-minded eighteen year old, five other people, plus a three year old around the table. Should be interesting.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Whale of a Day

Yesterday, the whole family plus our bonus friend went to Santa Cruz to see whales.

But first, we saw sea lions. They looked, according to our youngest two, like "jumping olives."

The humpbacks aren't supposed to be here this late in the year.

A record anchovy run, caused by a warmer than usual fall, apparently has brought out the glutton in whales. What amazed me was that, even from a 60' boat, they looked pretty big from 100 yards away. They also seemed happily buddied-up, cruising along together and chomping surface fish.

These guys are probably younger males, resisting the call to go to Chile to breed because of two things (this is my surmise; I didn't check it out with the ├╝ber-professional naturalist): they probably don't have a really big chance to breed, being young guys -- I assume all the mamas are sewn up; and two, there's all this fish still here! Why not stay and eat? It reminds me of a softball team at a pizza joint.

The whale backs that show as they roll through the water are only a fraction of their size. Something like a tenth, according to the boat folks. 

Sometimes we'd turn and see them from the back as they swam away from us. They looked like draft horses -- huge around the middle. Just great animals, really gigantic.

And every once in a while, they'd say goodbye and dive.

We're super fortunate to be able to see migrating and feeding whales relatively near home. We didn't even have to leave the Monterey Bay. Gorgeous December weather, and a pretty drive. The kids were pretty tickled, and only two of our party suffered from the bumpy water, and both only at the tail end (hahaha) of the trip.

They suggested we come back -- a lot. I don't know that I would necessarily do it from a boat again, but watching the whales was pretty cool. And, quite frankly, I don't know how many more years this sort of stuff is going to happen -- the ocean feels kind of under siege lately. I'm glad we got to see it now.