Sunday, March 22, 2009


My little Japanese maple that I planted in December has started to leaf out over the last couple of weeks. I love the way the leaves look. This is a Shaina Japanese maple. It will only get to be about 5 feet tall. They grow very slowly, though, so it will take a while to get there. If I can get it to survive through the summer then it looks like it is in a good spot.

And here is a photo of my recovering Fire Dragon maple tree. Several weeks ago I went out to water it and I discovered that a rabbit took a huge bite out of it! Pretty much halved the height of it. All of the previous bud areas were eaten by the rabbit, so I was worried whether the tree would recover. Luckily you can see that it has sprouted some new branches. And you can also see that I have built an enclosure for it. I went to way too much trouble to get that tree to have it eaten. Silly rabbit, maple treez are for kids!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cock A Doodle Doo

I love sriracha sauce. It’s fire-engine-red, mouth-burning, garlicky goodness. I used to put this stuff on just about everything I ate until a bout with gastritis several years ago led me to greatly curtail my intake of spicy food. Being awakened in the middle of the night by searing heartburn will tend to do that to a person.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that I have pretty much lost my tolerance for hot stuff.
I went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch with some coworkers. Seeing the bottle of sriracha sauce on the table made me want to start eating it again. I used to be able to down a pretty good amount of it, so I really poured it on my plate of Bun Cha Ha Noi. Big mistake. I forgot how potent this stuff is. My nose was running all over the place and my mouth was on fire. I’m sure my dining companions were quite amused. But now I’m determined to get my tolerance back up. I bought a bottle and have started with small applications. Flame-retardant mouth, here I come!

It’s really good in tomato sauces. And it’s great in ketchup.

I'm strangely drawn in by that crazy red color.

And that wacky cap that looks like the cap to that off-brand bottle of glue that you used to have in your school supplies.

A few years ago Trader Joe’s made their own version that I liked even better than the rooster variety. It had more of an aroma, more chili flavor (which made it a little sweeter) and it was a bit lighter on the garlic flavor. Unfortunately it was one of their limited-time-only products. Kinda gross that I still have some, although I don't dare eat it.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Growing My Own

After a 2 year break, I am going to try and grow some veggies again this year. I saw a photo from a few years back that showed the cinnamon basil that I had growing that year, and I was struck by a feeling that I want to do that again. I loved the way that plant looked, smelled, and how it had bees buzzing all over it in the fall. So I decided to try to grow some stuff this year.

I took a break because there can be a lot of effort and water involved in growing things around here, especially during the summer months. Also, I have tried to grow tomatoes about 3 times, and ultimately those efforts have not been very successful. But I'm ready to try again. This year I'm going to try and grow grape tomatoes. I eat them whenever I can on my daily salads, and I've heard that small tomatoes are easier to grow around here. And I know that homegrown tomatoes will taste a million times better than the ones from the store.

I also bought a Thai basil plant and a New Mexican pepper plant. These 2 plants should be much easier to grow than the tomatoes as they tolerate hot and dry weather well, but I will have to be vigilant for pests, especially on the pepper plant. I had two beautiful pepper plants 3 years ago, and just as the peppers were starting to grow, a couple of hornworms showed up and ate them down to twigs practically overnight. I want to keep things as organic as possible, and I'm not sure that there are lots of options for pest prevention (rather than mitigation), so I'm planning to keep a close eye on things. Wish me luck!

Left to right: Thai basil, New Mexico pepper, and grape tomato


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Go Get Your Owl Box

I want an owl box. I read the coolest article today about this guy in Dallas who has a screech owl nesting box in his back yard. There is an owl couple he's named Max and Maxine who live there. I want one! I'm not 100% sure why, but owls are among my favorite birds. I guess I just think that they're really beautiful. Based on what I have read so far it looks like I am too late to get a box put up for this year, but maybe I can get one by next year. Hootie hoo.

Totally unrelated to owls, here are some sunset shots that I have taken recently (photos are clickable for larger view):



Labels: ,

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Like A Tree Surgeon

They say manual labor is good for the soul. It builds character. Keeps you honest. I guess I agree with most of that to some extent, but the truth is that sometimes you just have to do it because nobody else will. Or because you can't afford to pay someone else to do it.

I had to do some minor tree surgery this weekend. The tree in my front yard had one branch last year that died for some reason. The tree has started to leaf out this year, and the number of dead branches have increased. Unfortunately I don't feel that that bodes well for its long-term survival prospects. I have seen several other trees in my neighborhood die out like this. In an effort to arrest the spread of dead branches, I decided to cut off a big chunk on one side. It's kind of like how a surgeon might have to amputate a leg to keep someone from dying of gangrene.

There are times, not often but occasionally, when a chainsaw would come in mighty handy. But c'mon, chainsaws are for wimps. Did early Americans need chainsaws to build all those log cabins and clear all that farmland? Hell no! Did Paul Bunyan need a chainsaw to cut down all those trees? Hell no! Plus, I don't have a chainsaw. And did you know YOU CAN CUT YOUR ARM OFF WITH A CHAINSAW?! I'd like to keep both arms. So I did this the old-fashioned way. It took a while, but I can just feel my character building.

Post surgery tree.

It doesn't look as lopsided as I was worried it might. But I may have to cut off that lowest branch on the right at some point to even things out.

Yeah, I know it looks kind of weird. I'm going to cut off that part that is sticking up. As soon as I figure out how. Maybe I'll buy a chainsaw.

A chainsaw? Pfft.