A Summer Evening Walk at the Marina

Although Hubby dislikes summer because of its accompanying heat, I often remind him that one of the positive things about summer are the long days when the sun doesn't set until almost 9 p.m. even a month past the summer solstice. It is summer evenings like these that a walk at our town's marina is a particularly refreshing experience.

Looking across the straits, there aren't any barges or ships coming in from the San Francisco Bay this evening. The water is empty, the sky turns orange, and the breezes are cool on our faces...

The hills shelter our little cove on the straits. Ripples aspiring to be waves lap the shoreline, leaving a log of driftwood undisturbed...

Water birds with slender scooping beaks scuttle and dip on hairpin legs grabbing one last bite before the night closes in...

Against the darkening summer sky the golden summer wetland grass rustles as we pass occasionally revealing the flit and flutter of a stealthy bird on the wing...

The sun sets, the shoreline grows dark, the wetlands go to sleep for the night, and we walk back to our waiting car.

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Roses, Roses, Roses

Time for a rose parade in July! Without further adieu...

Above: "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

Above: "Ronald Reagan" budding and then full blown

Above: "Disneyland" (left) and "Janice Kellogg" (right) amidst mint blossoms

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Brugmansia Sniffing and Pomegranates Blushing

Silly me! It didn't dawn on me to try and smell the brugmansia blossoms until Kylee from Our Little Acre commented that I should go take a whiff. Shortly after reading her comment, Hubby and I went out together to sniff for the first time. Wow! The scent is heavenly! It smells like a hybrid scent of lilac and daffodil to me.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that they would have a scent. I guess it's because I've always been so entranced by the sheer size of these large blooms (about 4 inches wide and over 6 inches in length) I didn't even think to smell them. Silly me!

After the sniffing was done, I enjoyed photographing in the light of a summer evening--the best light for my style of shooting.

Hubby was headed back in the house when he stopped, turned and said, "Here's a sure sign that autumn is coming!"

I looked up from shooting the brugmansia to see Hubby cradling a blushing pomegranate in his hand. For Hubby, this is sign of hope--a sign that the heat of summer will actually end one day--sooner rather than later. He was very happy to see the blush on the shiny pomegranate skins. So was I.

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Brugmansia Blooming

To my utter delight, the brugmansia that I just put in on Monday is already opening its big bell-shaped blossoms. They are quite literally unfurling or untwisting to reveal their shape. What is intriguing me most are the wispy tails on the points of the star-like petals. They remind me of a Georgia O'Keefe painting.

I am going to have so much fun watching my first brugmansia go through its debut, as this is the very first time it has ever bloomed according to my friend, Kathy, that raised it and nurtured it for the past two years.

It seems extremely happy in its new home. I did have to stake it up today because the branch with all the blossoms on it had begun to bow down. No problem. I have lots of spare stakes around and one fit the bill.

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Adventures in Fruit Leather

After a failed attempt at making prunes over a week ago, it took a while for me to build up enough gumption to try and make fruit leather from what is left of the plum harvest from our tree this year.

Yesterday, I looked at the basket and two bowls of plums on the kitchen table and realized that if I didn't do something with them, they would go bad (I've had my fill of fresh plums this season).

So, as I approach many of my "projects", I had to dive right in while I still felt the nerve and drive to do it. I knew if I waited, that the mood would pass, and I'd still have the same basket and two bowls of plums as well as a nagging thought that I'd chickened out.

Following the instructions that came with our Nesco dehydrator, I pureed the pitted plums (skins and all) in the blender until smooth. I sweetened the mixture to taste with corn syrup (apparently granulated sugar will make it brittle). Then I poured the mixture on the one plastic tray for making fruit leather that came with the unit. I had quite a bit of mixture left over in the blender and didn't want to do only one trayful, so I used another tier of the dehydrator as a template and cut out a "tray" out of parchment paper (I was feeling adventurous).

The dehydration took a little longer than expected (probably because my mixture was poured out a little too deep), but the result is exactly what I wanted! Believe it or not, the parchment paper tray was done in far less time. I liked the result better too.

I've now successfully produced my favorite flavor of fruit leather--plum! Now I am much more confident with the process and plan on turning the rest of the plums into fruit leather as well.

And as an endnote... I thought of my friend Emiline over at Visions of Sugar Plum the entire time I did this as well as when I was taking the photos. So, Emiline, this plummy post is dedicated to you!

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The Garden: Up Close and Personal

Some days in the garden are days when I want to look at little details. Okay, maybe not just some days... most days, I do that. I am fascinated by the small things that are so beautiful because of their diminutive perfection.

So today's post is a photo post showing some of the small things I and my camera discovered in the garden...

A honeybee covered with pollen from the zucchini blossoms...

A star-shaped "Kinnow" mandarin blossom and a tiny round strawberry ready to be picked...

A hawk's feather fluttering in the breeze on the edge of a flagstone. Wonder if he misses it...

The texture and vibrance of a zucchini blossom...

And the "tongue" of a canna lily (it doesn't mean to be rude)...

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Introducing "Hawaiian Rose"

Lately, I've been hard at work in the studio working on some mixed media art pieces that are taking a great deal of patience and concentration. This evening, I decided that I needed to take a bit of a break and begin to play around with Adobe Illustrator--a nemesis from my past that I am determined to conquer now once and for all.

I found a sketch of a graphic design that I'd done years ago--the motif of a craftsman-style rose. I had scanned in the sketch years ago and it had stayed in its sketched state until now.

Braving Illustrator and its "scary" vector drawing tools, I managed to convert the sketch into a clean and smooth one.

I then imported the graphic into Photoshop. Again, being brave, I started playing around with some of the techniques I've been learning with the Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book that I've been doing. I turned the crisp new rose graphic into a mask that I could apply to a recent photo I took of the "Raspberry Ice" bougainvillea.

Voile! The "Hawaiian Rose" was born!

It reminds me so much of a Hawaiian quilt block that I decided to feature the new design on some home accessories at the Rosehaven Cottage CafePress store. If you want to see what it looks like on the different home accessories currently available just click here.

That was a fun AND productive "break"... but I think I'll truly take a break now because my eyes are beginning to ache.

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Seed Packets, Brugmansia and Friendship

Yesterday at church as I was sitting down for Sunday School, my friend Kathy casually mentioned that I should come over some time this week because she just got a big shipment of seed packets. As a horticultural instructor at our local college, distributors often send Kathy the seeds and bulbs that get pulled from shelves at the end of the season. The bulk of the seeds will be used for her classes, but she wanted me to look through the boxes to see if I wanted any since there were so many.

Over our 8 year friendship, Kathy's generosity has beautified not only our garden, but the garden across the street as well as all the others at church that are recipients of her plants, seeds, and bulbs. Kathy is literally helping to make the world a more beautiful place.

This morning, I headed over to Kathy's. We stood in her garage as I sorted through large boxes of seed packets--some sorted and some not. I had to keep telling myself to be highly selective. You know the old adage "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach."? Well, my eyes are often bigger than my garden.

We talked while I flipped through packets--garden talk... what else? It's always a pleasure to talk with Kathy because not only is she incredibly knowledgeable about our micro-climate (one to which I am relatively new having only been here 8 years), but she is a kindred spirit. Kindred spirits in conversation or in silence are contented and happy indeed.

After I selected all the seeds I wanted (I still managed to take enough to cover my kitchen table), Kathy wanted to show me her current tomato crop and how well it's doing this year. We walked around to the vegetable beds and talked some more until it was time that I headed out, leaving Kathy to get on with her busy day.

Somewhere on the way back out to my truck parked in the driveway, Kathy casually mentioned something like, "You wouldn't happen to want a brugmansia?"

My heart leapt!

Sometime last year I was bewitched by all the photos of brugmansia that I had seen on other garden blogs. I really wanted one. I even wrote "Angel's Trumpets--Brugmansia" on a sticky note and put it on my "idea board" behind my computer. It was officially the only plant on my "fantasy wish list"--the list reserved for things that I really want but shouldn't get unless I really have the budget for it. Besides needing to funnel budget toward other purchases such as the citrus trees that I'll be putting in over the next couple of months, I hadn't really seen any brugmansia at the nurseries--at least any I liked the looks of enough to justify spending the money. So the brugmansia stayed on my "fantasy wish list" of one plant.

I don't know what the look on my face must have been when Kathy asked if I happened to want a brugmansia, but I'm certain my giddiness was evident. As we walked back the way we'd came, she asked if I'd like one that's a 2-tone whose blossoms fade from a pale white-yellow to a pale peach. Sure!

We reached the area where she had the 5-gallon potted brugmansia plants that she's grown from seedlings for the past two years. She picked one up that was over my head. That was the one?!?! And, she informed me, that since it was already 2 years old I wouldn't have to wait for it to bloom. In fact, it already had buds on it ready to open!

I'm fairly certain I was dizzy with giddiness as we loaded it into the truck, and Kathy secured it with my bungee cords. I drove the short distance home so carefully. I didn't want anything to blow those buds off. I got it home intact and happy.

I knew where it was going to go. In this climate, Kathy told me that brugmansia need afternoon shade. It would go in my afternoon-shade area across the path from the olive tree. That would be the perfect spot!

Right away, I dug half a hole and then built up a planter with chunks of recycled concrete left over from the demolished shed pad. Then, in went the brugmansia and some bagged top soil. I watered it in, and it already looks so happy there.

This plant, like all the wonderful growing gifts residing in my garden, will be a constant tangible reminder of true friendship. For me, it is inspiring to know that in this calloused world, there are still precious experiences and relationships made up of things such as seed packets and brugmansia.

Left: The brugmansia this afternoon before it was planted.
Right: The brugmansia planted in its new raised planter.

Kathy's other generous growing gifts to Rosehaven Cottage:

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Big Tabby, Little Tabby

Well, guess who we found sitting together in the window (where I'd rather they not be)? That's Suzette (left) and Lucy Maud (right). Even though I wasn't happy about it, I was glad they stayed there long enough for me to take a photo so I could share it here for those of you that have been following Lucy's progress toward adult-cathood since December when she had her close shave with death. Even though Lucy is a bit blurry because she moved, this photo is a great side-by-side comparison of how little Lucy still is in comparison to most of the adult kitties.

For scale reference, the window that they are sitting in is 3 feet square. Lucy's head is about the size of a small lemon (I think that's the same size as our friend Daisy the Curly Cat). Suzette's head is the size of... well... you get the picture.

For those that want to review Lucy's progress over the past 7 months, just click on the label "Lucy" below (right under where you click to make a comment). That will make all the posts about Lucy will come up so you can read them.

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My Favorite Napping Place by Lucy Maud

The tall cat tree is my favorite napping place during the day and after dark when Mommy and Daddy are watching the big exciting box. It's very, very tall. I like being up high. I can nap, and then wake up and see everything in the room at any time I want.

Here are some things I see when I wake up from my naps...

I see Dee Dee in her special box on Daddy's lap. Thomasina wishes she could fit in the box too, but it's a "one kitty" box. Sometimes Dee Dee isn't in her box, and I get in it to try it out. I like to rub my cheeks on the corners and roll around in it. Dee Dee has less room in it than me.

I can see Thomasina trying to lay as close to Dee Dee as she can. She really likes Dee Dee. Is Dee Dee her mommy? No. But Thomasina sure acts like it.

If I wasn't napping on my high-up cat tree, I would be chasing Thomasina and making her growl. Thomasina is very loud when we play. She growls and spits all the time. Mommy and Daddy call her the Tasmanian Devil when she does that. I wonder why...

I can see Gus taking a nap too. He likes the cubes. I do too. He's probably laying on my toys that I keep in the cubes.

The cubes are soft. When I jump up high to catch the flyer that Daddy moves for me, sometimes I land right on top of the cube. If Gus is in it, he gets very mad. Sometimes when I land on the cube it folds up flat. I don't know why. It never does that if Gus is in it. If Gus is in it, the cube just moves a lot.

I can see Suzette sitting in the same spot she does every night. She talks a lot every night when I am taking a nap. She lays by the small scratching post next to the couch and swishes her tail. She meows at Mommy while she does it. Then Suzette jumps up on Mommy and kneads Mommy with her paws.

Suzette is very big. She's twice as big as me. But I still bite her paws or her neck if I feel like it.

Okay... that's enough looking. I'm tired again. I'm going to go back to sleep now.

The End

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