Friday, March 29, 2013

Hoppy Easter!

When I was a little girl my grandmother bought me a record of Easter songs. One of them began "See the funny little bunnies, / how they work and play making eggs all day . . . ." It's been stuck in my head for over a week, and since I've been listening to a lot of reggae lately, I find myself wondering how it would have sounded if Bob Marley had covered it.
These knitted bunnies were my effort at a calorie-free chocolate bunny. I made a plain orange hat for this first one, but then, what can I say, I had to knit him a different hat because of Bob Marley and the bunny song. (shrug) His ears actually are the same size but I guess I stood him up oddly.

This is his girlfriend; she's a bit more petite and conservative in her headwear. The pattern is at It says you'll get 8" bunnies but mine are bigger, maybe because I used worsted weight yarn or maybe because I knit a bit loosely, or a little of both.

Outdoors it's definitely spring. This verdin has me refilling the hummingbird feeder much more often these days, and it's worth it to see him (or her - male and female verdins look alike) while I'm busy just a few feet away in the kitchen.
And this is the full moon, taken at about 4:30 a.m. a couple of days ago, just as it was about to set. I'm never satisfied with my night sky photos, but these are better than most I've taken.

Several years ago it snowed on Easter, but that won't be happening here this year. It's warm and gorgeous and things are growing like mad. If it's not warm where you are (and you want it to be) I wish you warmth and flowers and bunnies and eggs and all those nice spring things. Happy Easter, Happy Spring.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Greens of Spring

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I've got on my green shirt and even painted my toenails green, now that it's sandal weather again. It's a great day to be outside in the garden, which is yielding a true bounty of gorgeous green veggies. The refrigerator is stuffed with bags of various kinds of leaves: lettuce, chard, broccoli rabe, bok choy, beet greens (and beets). Here's the first picking of beets, which I plan to roast along with some carrots and onions, with the steamed beet greens as the green part of dinner.
 We love arugula's rich color and lemony bite, so much so that when it's in season (very hard to find in stores, unfortunately) I like to finely chop the tender stems (to the right of the bowl below) and use them in place of celery in egg and tuna salads.

Here's that same bowl of arugula fancied up with chopped oranges and slices of red onion. I used my favorite "house dressing"; the recipe is at When there's fruit in the salad I like to use white balsamic vinegar in the dressing.

Change is in the air everywhere. When we moved to this house 13 years ago we planted three octopus agaves, which get very large; these are 4 or 5 feet across. Two or three years ago one completed its life cycle, sending up a huge flower spike (at least 15 feet high) that was soon covered with hundreds of tiny plantlets. Alas, that spectacular show marks the end of the mother plant's life cycle. A couple of days ago I noticed this one's begun the same process, 

as has the last one, though you have to look closely at the center to see the beginning of the flower spike. As they get further along, they look (briefly) like giant asparagus! One thing about these plants, they definitely go out with a bang, not a whimper, and put on a great show while they're doing it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

And Now It's Spring

The weather roller coaster continues--we're currently heading up and there may not be another precipitous drop like last week. Birds are everywhere. A verdin was at the hummingbird feeder this morning and stayed as long as it wanted. Hummingbirds will drive each other away from the feeder and swoop and dive in fierce noisy battles, although I have seen a male and female pair (Mr. and Mrs. Costa there, sipping together peacefully. Tiny as it is, the verdin is bigger than the hummers. Mr. Costa flew up and hovered behind it for a few seconds, was ignored, and flew away to feed on red sage blossoms until the verdin left.
 Last year a quail laid her eggs in a typically flimsy nest in a big pot by the house where some predator got some of them, and maybe the mother, or else she abandoned them. After a couple of weeks I gathered those that were left and and put them up in a safe place--left undisturbed long enough, they will dry up inside--and remembered them last week and got them down to make something pretty for the coffee table. The covered terrarium jar was $7.99 from Michael's, the Spanish moss for the "nest" came from there too. Normally, I'm not a fan of artificial flowers, but I think these work here. They're from a big spray (half price!) and I put what was left in a vase on the mantel.
 The beautiful crocheted doily was a surprise gift from my mom, who found it several years ago while browsing secondhand stores. I think it's perfect for welcoming spring.
       With all the cold weather, the winter garden--there's a picture of it with snow on here a slow start, but it's making up for lost time. I'm not sure we can keep up with all the greens before they bolt. Here are new leaves coming out on a bok choy plant I cut a few days ago.
As usual at this time of year, there's lots of wildlife mating activity going on. The doves, especially, are shameless; our back fence is a veritable den of lust. This dove built her nest in the jasmine along the side of the garage. She's just above eye-level and doesn't appear to be bothered when we pass by several times a day.

 It seems like a good site. Every year we have a dove nest somewhere in the yard. Last year's chicks, hatched in a nest on the top of a ladder Joe left out on the other side of the garage, in the blazing sun, didn't fare well. But the year before another dove family,about 4 feet up on a branch of the pine tree by the labyrinth, hatched, thrived, and flew away in perfect textbook fashion.