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Promises, Promises

February 28, 2015


Last night they began to move in: Clouds of every description. Sometimes dark, as if overloaded with all the dampness of the sky … other times so light and puffed they epitomized the word “flighty”. I checked through the night for the downpour the clouds promised, but there was no shine on the sidewalks, no glisten on the plants in the Rancho’s front yard. Disappointed, I returned to bed; I was certain the next time I would check there would surely be rain. Still: Nothing. And by morning there was much too much light streaming into the bedroom for rain … looking out the window there was a breeze — and still more clouds — but no rain.

It’s early afternoon now and although I’ve been monitoring them through the day the clouds have stingily held on to their watery bounty. I thought that by taking photos of the clouds they  might be goaded into raining on my one man parade, but no … instead I got glances from people in passing cars, looking up to see what I might be shooting of interest. I could almost see the thought in their faces: “But it’s only clouds.”

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Mother’s Mirth

February 24, 2015


I love Emerson’s quote, don’t you? A laughing Mother Earth is a delightful idea … but how to define her sense of humor? It’s got to be very refined, how else to explain the grace and beauty of flowers the world over. I cannot come up with a single example of a natural floral display that might be called garish, the result of a belly laugh. Garish is achieved later, with human intervention (visit your local supermarket “florist”). And, I find it hard to believe that Mother is someone who titters, squeals or snorts, and a guffaw would be unseemly. No, Mother keeps it classy, her mirth and the resulting floral output elegant. Have you ever seen a field of wildflowers in the spring? I can think of no more pure example of Mother at her most festive, her laughter ringing and joyful.


Mother’s visited her laughter on the Rancho lately, examples can be found from front to back. Here are some of my favorites:

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V-Day: Hooray

February 13, 2015

Growing, showing!

Today’s Friday the 13th, but I couldn’t care less. It’s tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, I care about. Reading this, however, you must not be misled into thinking that I’m a romantic. I do not favor hearts chock full o’ chocolates, except as fodder for binge eating. And speaking of emetics, I have no affection for stuffed animals, pink cards or candlelit dinners either. So, if I hate all the usual Valentine tropes, just what is my interest in the day? I love V-Day because I see it as the first real sign of spring … It’s usually about February 14th that I begin to notice changes in my garden, signs of growth, renewal and lots more color. This year I received another sign of that growth when the fun guy who lives at the end of our block rolled down his car window and shouted, “Hey! Nice phallic symbol!” … I was standing next to the plant with my camera at the time so I knew what he was referring to. He didn’t hear me reply as he sped off, “Thanks, which one?!”


You may remember the post before last (click here) that featured my large agave and its brand new flower stalk? Well, that’s it in the photo above; as you can see it’s lots taller two weeks later and it’s got new bud-tipped branches. I don’t think it’s yet at its full height … but it’s not alone.

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Heavy Metal Comeback

February 9, 2015

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Moisture Activated

January 26, 2015

Wet … and whoa!

Nice agave, right? It’s one of the larger specimens at the Rancho and it’s much loved. It was one of two I purchased from a local propagator, I’d say five years ago; both were small and in pots. The vendor warned me that I should allow for space when planting them since they would grow to be super-large … I thought sure, right, great … but did as he instructed. Boy, am I glad I did! Although the other died eventually, this guy has grown and grown, completely filling the corner of our lot at 14th Street and Isabella Streets. Gorgeously dark green, each of the spike-tipped agave spears is a perfect water-directing device. During the rains of the last few weeks I enjoyed watching rainwater course toward the agave’s core … and, when the rain stopped I noticed something else: The tip of a giant aparagus tip was sneakily peeking out at the top! Long time readers of this blog know that nothing provokes garden excitement in me more than a showy succulent stalk, and on an agave this size it’s sure to be one for the Rancho’s record books. But how big is it exactly? Let’s place something next to it for scale …

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Art Garden On the Move

January 19, 2015


The Art Garden (formerly The Garden Shop) is having a moving sale all of January and February 2015. The building and fenced yard they’ve been occupying has been sold so everything must go at an amazing 30 to 50% off! And when they say “everything” they mean everything; here’s just a partial list of the great stuff you can take away: Vintage doors, windows, lighting; architectural salvage including used bricks, tile, wrought iron, barn wood; plants; furniture, including chairs, tables, desks, shelving; cabinets, bed frames; tools; artwork; books; appliances; home and garden décor including chandeliers, sinks, antiques, fountains, rocks, statues; LP records.

Stephen, and partner Valorie, have been my go-to garden wizards for years, capable of conjuring up that certain something I might be in search of; or, if not the actual thing, a worthy substitute that hadn’t occurred to me. So, stop in — browse or ask for what you need — and take it away at a great price! Click over to the next page for their address:
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One-Off Project: Vintage Car Door Do-Over

January 12, 2015


One in a new series of quick repurposing projects


As a blogger with an undeniable affection for what some characterize as junk, I find myself the recipient of the odd gift … emphasis on the word “odd”. See, despite the giver’s certainty that I’ll love said gift, they are frequently completely off the mark. You shouldn’t think me mean-spirited, I’m simply hard to buy for; I’m always gracious and thank the gifter with a smile. Of course there are times when a gift is perfectly me, but I have no use — or place — for it. Then it becomes a nagging presence in the yard or garage, one that needs to be moved to make space for other things, one that becomes a bone of contention during discussions on the use of space; one that wakes me up at 3am for a can’t-wait brainstorming session. This project features one of those latter gifts; I loved it, I just couldn’t find a place for it. I hung onto it for a couple of years, trying (and failing) to sell it at a neighborhood block sale, finally paying it forward and gifting it to my friend Britney — who received it graciously. Here are the particulars on the door’s makeover: Read more…


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