Garden Progress

Some pictures of my garden this spring.

Here’s what my garden looked like a month ago:

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And here’s what it looks like now:


The snapdragons have finished their first blooms and a couple are getting ready for their second go-round. The marigolds are in full bloom. The three tomato plants are doing great (and two are fruiting already), and the cucumber plant (middle cage) is starting to take off. Only the pepper plant (far left cage) is taking its sweet time.

All the herbs in the pots are doing well, too. The rosemary and thyme are held over from last year, but we picked up some new Italian parsley and sweet basil.

Here’s what my yard around the patio looked like a month ago, too:


The stream, incidentally, starts in the little pool on the right, runs behind the red cowbells, and falls into the pond whose edge is on the left. The plants surrounding the head pool on the right got clobbered by our cold winter weather, but they’ve completely recovered by now – rather to my surprise, because they didn’t look good.

I need to clean up the patio, and then we can start having weekend breakfast out there, and I might start doing some writing outside in the evening when it gets a little warmer.

Still Quite Busy

April has been a little less busy then March, but the difference is that it hasn’t been due to a bunch of things all scheduled well ahead of time; instead I’ve been keeping busy with more spur-of-the-moment (or at least spur-of-the-week) activities.

Last weekend Debbi invited some people over to dye eggs for Easter. She likes to do this every year. Josh and his girlfriend Lisa came by first, and then Susan and Subrata came by around the time they were leaving. I’d already dyed all the eggs I’d wanted to, so Subrata and I ended up playing some Magic instead.

Before dying eggs, I went out to the nursery and picked up some plants and flowers. (While I was out I got a snootfull of the fire at the scrap yard in Redwood City which stunk up peninsula and valley air for part of the day. Eew.) Then on Sunday I turned over the dirt in my planter and put them all in. This year we have three tomato plants, a cucumber plant, marigolds and snapdragons. I was happy to get the snapdragons; it seems like I can rarely find them this early in the year, I don’t know why. I love snapdragons. We also have space for one more vegetable plant, but we’re not sure what to plant yet, if anything.

We’ve gotten some rain this week (it’s raining right now, actually) which is helping kick-start the plants. The tomatoes are taking off right away, which they always do, and the snapdragons are starting to bloom. Hopefully the looming drought won’t deep-six my growing plans this year.

Wednesday evening we had our annual homeowners association meeting, which was quite routine this year. We’ve got a few projects in the planning stages, so we were basically just talking about how they’re going, and that was it.

Debbi came home early Thursday afternoon since we had cleaners coming in. Neither Debbi nor I are very diligent about cleaning the house, especially deep-cleaning it: We keep things reasonably neat and it’s not like the place is a sty, but we do accumulate more dust and cat hair then we’d wish, and we do hate cleaning (say) around the stove. So Debbi finally convinced me to get some cleaners in, and they really did a great job! The kitchen is cleaner than it’s been in years, the bathrooms look great, and all the bookshelves are dusted. So the place is virtually gleaming for my Mom when she arrives next week. And we’re considering having them come in monthly to keep the place clean.

Thursday night we played Magic. There were six of us who gathered at Lee’s for another Time Spiral/Planar Chaos draft. At the end of the draft portion of the evening, I felt like I had a very strong green base, but mostly a big pile of cow flop as far as an actual deck was concerned. After starng at my cards for a while I realized I needed to give up on my first overall pick, The Rack and any hope of building a discard deck, and instead create a green/white/blue deck with my three Search for Tomorrows to make the extra colors work.

And boy, did it ever work.

The backbone of my deck was Verdant Embrace combined with Gaia’s Anthem, which resulted in an incredibly fast 2/2 creature generator (these are, in my opinion, two of the very best cards in the Time Spiral block so far). I had another creature generator in the Benalish Commander (the creature generators combine well with Essence Warden, too), a card drawer in Aeon Chronicler, a wacky all-purpose creature in Stuffy Doll (combining it with Ophidian Eye is just ridiculous), and a variety of good supporting creatures. I ended up winning all three matches I played, despite not drafting a single flying creature, or any creature removal. I basically just beat my opponents to death.

I got incredibly lucky to assemble this combo, really, although I do take credit for figuring out how to assemble them into a decent deck. But whether it ws luck or skill, it did result in a very fun evening of gaming for me.

That catches us up to today, where Debbi is busy at a scrapbooking event with her friends, and Subrata is hosting another Magic day. Which is not a bad thing to spend a rainy Saturday doing.

Weekend Project

Our project for this weekend was to turn this:

(click for larger image)

…into this:


The right side is what we installed in 2005, but the center and the left side are new.

Last month we ordered custom-built shelves from Storables, and I picked them up on Monday. Thursday night I ripped out the old wooden shelves and hanger, and spackled all the holes in the wall. Saturday I sanded down the spackling and then painted everything that needed painting – I gave it two coats. Then today we installed the shelves. Very easy, really! (And a lot easier than removing the old shelves that used to be on the right side of the closet.)

The cats in the “after” photo did not come with the shelves. They are demo models only.

One of the best parts was while we were putting things back into the closet: Debbi was being careful to try to divide up the space evenly (since we’d had a bunch of go-rounds about that when she moved in), but after putting in many of the hanging clothes and our exercise clothes, she asked how to divide up the other shelves, and I said, “Actually, I think almost all of my clothes are already in the closet.”

Debbi got this look in her eye and said, “You mean the rest of the closet is mine?”

We have a crapload of space. We even have some shelf space in there (especially on the top shelf, which you can’t see in the photos) which isn’t being used. Amazing.

Now I’m getting excited to do the same to the front room closet, which is where all my games and various other crap live.

Alas, Poor Tree

One of the things that I really liked about my house when I moved in was the trio of trees out front which flowered every January. These trees are ubiquitous in Silicon Valley (there are a whole bunch of them at work), and their flowers are very fragrant. Sometimes I’d read the paper in my front room with the windows open – even though it was 50 degrees out – to get a whiff of the tree in the morning. (Most of these trees in the area flower in March, ours always flowered early for some reason.) And at Christmas time Debbi and I would decorate the tree, wrapping cords of lights around the leafless branches, and attracting many kind comments from the neighbors.

The trees were put in when the complex was built, in the late 70s, and I guess they have a well-known lifespan. The tree in front of our house died last winter, and one of its two companions probably has only one more season left. (The third tree, which is much smaller, living as it does in the shadow of a large pine tree, seems to be in better shape.)

This morning the tree trimmers came and cut down the tree in front, pulling out the large ball of the root, and they started trimming the dead branches off the second tree.

So, I’m sad. I really liked that tree. We’re going to try to put in a new tree of the same type, but it will probably be years before it grows to full size.