Sunday, June 28, 2015

Landscaping, One Month Later...

I can't believe it, things are growing in my yard!  All of the new trees and shrubs are alive and thriving.

Of course, so are weeds, but they will be taken care of very shortly when the last step--gravel, grass & sprinklers--goes in.  Meanwhile the freakin' weeds are going bananas, mostly thanks to our daily rainstorms for the last month.  Just pretend you don't see the dumb weeds.

The Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud out front has leafed out nicely!  I wanted a pretty tree I could admire from inside the house and this one fits the bill nicely.  If you GIS it you'll see what I mean!

Big blank space where DeathRose and sprinkler-control-eating lilac bush were, although across from this are a couple of miniature roses, a *tiny* 6 inch high Sergeant crabapple (an Arbor Day Foundation donation freebie), a 'Pink Beauty' potentilla and assorted annuals.

I mean, look at this!  What thinking person does this?!
*Sigh...* Anyway, the stump will be removed once it dies & dries out a bit. I've got an ax and I'm not afraid to use it.

In the corner of the property next to the driveway & street, the broom plant I planted three years ago is blooming like mad, and smells amazing.  The thing honest to God smells like candy.  Also in this corner are a dwarf pink flowering almond, a 'Spanish Sunset' rose and a 'Cutie Pie' potentilla with beautiful coral-pink blooms.  
 And weeds.

I wanted stuff to climb on the fence, so I planted two aromatic varieties of hops--I don't make beer, I just think hops plants are pretty.

Also another Silverlace vine, just like the one climbing the chicken coop.

It already has delicate, pretty, white blossoms on it.

The planter along the front of the house has a bunch of stuff I've been planting over the last three years...roses, wildflowers, herbs, tomatos, ornamental sunflowers...

A Pink Iceberg rose and behind it, hollyhocks grown from seeds from my mom's garden!  One of the first things I did when we moved in here was to plant a handful of hollyhock seeds, knowing it would take a few years before they really got going.

The storms lately have thrashed them a bit, but they're still pretty!

In the back yard near the house, the Showtime crabapple and second Lavender Twist Redbud are leafing out as well.

A Serviceberry plant that I got as a freebie for donating to the Arbor Day Foundation.

It's dutifully making berries!

My other plants came in, a 'Hot Cocoa' floribunda rose and two butterfly bushes--an 'English Peacock' and a 'Black Knight'.  Some of the butterfly bushes were supposed to be 'Royal Red' but were obviously mismarked when they bloomed purple.  Oh, well.

The pond now has a spinning Garden Wheel Of Death as a protector to decapitate anyone nearby.
And YES, the chickens hated it when we first thrust the thing into the ground and walked off, yelling over our shoulder, 'Enjoy!'

"Bawk, bawk, baaaawwwk..."

In the chicken yard, the two 'Bailey' red twig dogwoods have taken off, I've gotta get out there and redo their chicken wire so they can stop being so strangled.  In the middle is one of the new hose bibs! Water in winter, yay!

Close-up of the red twig dogwoods doing their thing and making berries.

The Cockspur Thornless Hawthorne tree doing it's thing and making berries...

In the middle of the chicken yard, the area I hope will one day be a little chicken oasis, with the Curly Willow in the middle, a 'Ruby Spice' Summersweet on the left and a 'Pink Dawn' viburnum on the right.

Beyond the Chicken Oasis, the second little hill has had someone *cough*baby chicks*cough* digging in it, to the extent that I worried the big rock was gonna roll over on them and I'd find a crushed chicken one day.  That's where the Chicken Foiler comes in--the cover to the brooder box getting repurposed.  Not to mention that they are slowly destroying something I paid to put in, damned chickens! Now I have to redo it, little smartasses.  The used-to-be-a-hill has a 'Pink Dawn' viburnum on the right and another 'Ruby Spice' summersweet on the left, the Bartlett pear tree is on the right.
 Waaay back on the right of center is a 'Cherokee Chief' dogwood tree.

It's just soooo nice to be able to stand back here, look back at the house and see growing things!

Plus, Weedcat approves.

Over against the fence, lining the driveway, are two lonely little 'Cameo' flowering quince plants.  This is where my budget gave out, I wanted to line this entire fence with plants because the dogs next door tend to charge at the chickens.  Turns out the plants were too expensive, so where I'd planned 10-12 plants...I got two.

Oh, well, they'll grow!

On the other side of the coop, the Satsuma plum is growing, despite Zip *leaping* for leaves off it every morning.  It's her first-thing routine to stand under the thing and jump up and down for leaves like they're morning coffee.  She has the bottom branches nicely trimmed by now.

And another Arbor Day Foundation freebie, the world's *tiniest*, cutest little Northern Red Oak tree.  It's about 6 inches high and is a perfect little oak tree, it cracks me up.  Needless to say it gets Fort Knox Against Chickens around it or they'd kill it inside 3 hours.
It'll grow...

The Silverlace vine against the coop is already reaching for it.  I have an old curved metal headboard off a double bed that I'm going to attach to the coop for it to grow up on, I think it'll look cool.

At the very back of the property is the area for my future vegetable garden & compost heap.  I haven't gotten around to getting the old pallets I plan on using to build the compost heap yet, that'll be this week.  We have a local salvage yard that gives them away.

Two more butterfly bushes, a 'Royal Knight' and an 'English Peacock'...

The other Thornless Cockspur Hawthorne tree...
...and it's little buddy sidekick, the tumbleweed.

Somewhere in this nightmare of weeds is the Sugar Tyme crabapple tree and two 'Profusion' beautyberries. This week they'll get weeded and mulched.

But at least the beautyberries are happy and doing their thing!

The chicks inspect the other hose bib for the garden.

...and we're done.  We'll end by leaving Cluckadorkle pining for the snowball viburnum plant she cannot eat.
Poor sad chicken.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

So It Seems...

...that a peacock has thrown up on part of my head.

Yeah, got a wild idea and kinda ran with it.  Normally I have a single blue streak in my hair that I've been wearing for years.  Although the green didn't take as well as I'd hoped it would and I need to touch up some spots, and the lightener I used first fried my hair a bit, it's gonna be a few days before the frizz calms down.
Everyone stares and asks, 'Why...?' the answer to which is, of course, 'Because I wanted to.'

I'm seriously considering doing the rest of my hair like this, I like it a whole bunch!  I offered to do the kid's hair and she looked at me like I was crazy.

Hey, get hip, kid.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Break's Over...

...it's fire season!

Our first really close local wildfire is upon us, the Washington Fire is burning near Markleeville, CA about 20 miles away and is up to about 350 acres so far.  The wind is kicking up tonight and tomorrow so we'll see where this one leads.

The view from my driveway about 7PM tonight:

From down the street:

It got big really fast.  From 10 acres to 350 in the space of about three hours.  It's burning up in back of my mom's place but I think is headed more our way than hers.

Stealth Cow has the right idea--hide in a ditch with just your ears sticking out until it's all over.

Ah well, is there ever a time when California isn't on fire?  Haha, NO.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Nature, Ever Mysterious And Majestic...

So we went to pick up my mom from the airport tonight, and I finally remembered to take along the camera and get some shots of my favorite 'nature' diorama at the Reno-Tahoe airport.

Now to give them credit, these are created from confiscated illegal trophies, and they do what they can with them rather than the animals going completely to waste.

But still, 'Deer Emerging From His Cave After Hibernation' (as I call it) just cracks me up.

I mean, how did he get in there?  Where's the rest of his body...?

He's wearing that damned rock like a turtle wears it's shell! 

Even the poor puma looks freaked out and decidely not happy to be there.
Can't say as I blame him one bit. That thing is freaky-deaky.

It's Faire Time Huzzah!

So it's only been about three years since we last went to faire, something we used to do with a big group every year since about 1981.

Once we moved here, however, opportunites to go dried up and were scarce in our area.  That, coupled with us concentrating all of our spare time on the house & property along with other duties, meant that we were out of luck.

In that three years my kid, needless to say, outgrew her old costume and I had to make a new one from the ground up.  Once we learned that there was going to be a two-weekend-only Faire, the Valhalla Renaissance Faire at Lake Tahoe, we decided to go.

So the last two weekends, off we went.  The first time, the kid's costume wasn't ready yet (it was also about a billion degrees outside) so we decided to forgo dressing up, but by the following weekend it was ready and we did the whole costume thing...it's always more fun in costume since the other folk treat you differently when you are part of the scene, it makes for a much better time.

The Valhalla Faire is considerably smaller than the ones in southern and northern California that we'd gone to in the past, but the site is much prettier, cooler and there are fewer people!  A lot of the same people travel about and go to these faires all over the country, so you often see people you've seen for years at these things.

There are loads of craft booths, this one sold jewelry.
An entire box full of The One Ring!  Wait...does that work...?

Fowl Tales was there, neither Bob nor his parrot Gypsy have changed a single bit in the 25 years we've been seeing them at faire.  Not one bit

Bob has three parrots and a dog to pull the parrot cart around faire, although Gypsy is clearly the star of the show. Part of the finale is Bob swinging Gypsy around while he clings to a rope, flying him over everyone's heads. Of course he made the requisite jokes about, 'Don't watch with your mouth open!'

Afterwards he kindly allowed the kid to briefly pet Gypsy a bit.

She even found a tiny red feather to bring home as a keepsake.  After the parrot show we wandered over to the queen's court where we watched the musicians, who had many gorgeous instruments...even if the tweetling got on your nerves after a bit--that kind of music has a definite time limit as far as being appealing.

The kids gathered around and got a lesson in courtly manners, including learning how to bow & curtsy.  The kid picked it up quickly and after that was curtsying to everyone in sight.

The signs for the various stages were beautifully carved and painted.

One of the attractions was a set of three GIANT carved rocking horses to ride.

Still nervous, but having fun...

Pure fun!

This demon girl at first was spotted and tagged as 'drunk girl with Sharpies comes to faire', but we later realized that it was makeup and that she had a whole persona going, including some 'Jack Sparrow' type body movements.  She'd pop up everywhere, once we ran across her playing one of the giant Jenga games.

I loved her toad pouch.  She was quite good at the Jenga game and every time she pulled a block would place a small stone where it had come out.

The game got ridiculous and every time we were SURE this would be it, one of the players would pull off another move.

But eventually demon girl won when this guy had the blocks fall onto him.

The following weekend was much cooler and our costumes were ready, so this time off we clanked in full costume.  I assured the kid that once we were at faire, all of the bells and clanking bits of our costumes wouldn't stand out, it'd just be part of the scene.

I lucked out and was able to recut a green cord jacket I'd found at a thrift shop for her bodice, just added some trim, slashes under the arms and a boatload of grommets and lacings.  No costume is complete without a shitton of geegaws and trinkets hanging off of it, though.
Her hat I made from a head band, and just covered it with a bit of stuffed cloth and more geegaws and two scarves.

So off we clanked, the kid relaxing after a bit when she realized we were right and no one was staring at her.  One of the most fun things at faire is people watching, especially when we play a game of 'Spot The Geek'.  Spot the Geek is where you find the person dressed in the most ridiculous, wrong-headed thing you can.  Whoever shouts 'Mine!' first has that person and everyone else's job is to top it--find someone MORE ridiculous and outlandish.  You can change geeks, but once you choose a new one you've given up the old one.  Part of the game is coming up with a name for the person you've chosen.

It's great fun at faire because there is NO shortage of people who decide that 'Come in costume' (by which they mean late 1600's era dress) must mean that they can bust out any old Halloween costume and wear it to faire, whether it's period-correct or not.  Astronauts...witches...slutty pirates...slutty kittens...slutty St. Paulie Girl (I kid you not, there were THREE) you name it, you'll see it at faire.

The Game of Thrones crew was represented, although I did like her dragon puppet, it was cool.

Dude...DUDE.  You've outgrown it.  Dear God. Walking behind this guy you were risking an unwelcome eyeful at any moment.

Yeah...Link from Zelda, complete with stick-on ears and foil-covered shield.

Smokey the Bear meets the Green Man meets...I dunno.  It looks like he ate a rooster for lunch.

This guy I was calling Half-Naked Buffalo Bill.  I don't think even he knew what he was supposed to be. The guy in green skirting him on the right grinned and muttered as he passed me, 'Did you get it?'  I laughed and said yes, but it's horrifying.  He agreed.

There were people who got it marvelously right, though.  These gypsy girls were gorgeous.

And I can't even imagine the dedication it took to sit down and make an honest-to-God leather straightjacket.

The faire had a jail area complete with a cell and several things like stocks to place non-costumed folk in, and a waterboarding rack.  It seems that they had been collecting the run-off from the ice used to keep the food at the booths cold, unknown to the poor dumb shmuck that good-naturedly would go along with it and allow himself to be strapped to the board.  Surprise, that's ICE water they are pouring over you!

They'd tie up and lead the people that were going to jail around, parading them about before throwing them in the cell.  By far the cutest lil' criminal, no one was booing him. Instead he got laughs, applause and lots of 'Aww...'.  The kid ate it up.

After this it was time to go home and wash all of the dirt off, my lord but you get filthy at faire!