Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summertime Kicks Off...Finally!

We've had a pretty nice day, here in the Inland Valley. Warmer, mostly sunny, and drying. My day was consumed by errands and some garden shopping. I overheard other customers asking about fungicides for their rose woes at Home Depot and the Fancy Nursery a couple of towns over. Misery loves company...

Dad's Red Rosebush really liked this week's deluge. Even though I took half it's leaves off to treat it's Rose Black Spot Fungus, it seems all "perked up" today.

While I was in the rose garden, I gave the Yellow Rosebushes another bath with my homemade Garlic Water Fungicide. I'm depending on Mother Nature to act like it's Springtime now, and dry out the roses, warm the soil, and wake up the King Salmon out in the Pacific.

Reports from the Coast say the Krill have returned to our waters in abundant numbers, and the Salmon are gorging on them. I imagine the migrating Grey Whales and Blue Whales are finding it to their liking as well. I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that anchovies are present in San Francisco Bay too. The Local Saltwater Fishing should break wide open in the next few weeks...just about the time I'm finished with the springtime planting of the Diggins!

My emergence into Real Spring continued... I went to my favorite grocery store for some pork chops and rhubarb after a frustrating hour enduring Home Depot. I quickly navigated the produce bins, but the people were three deep in front of the Pork Sector of the Meat Counter. (The Meat Counter is at least 50ft long in this Market, and there's at least six Butchers behind the cases!) I slipped past the crowds, and scanned the Seafood Side... What's this? Fresh, Wild King Salmon Fillets? Duh! Score!

Dinner was the Salmon on the BBQ, rice and steamed Asparagus, with a glass of Trader Joe's finest $4.99 Chardonnay.

My baseball team even woke up this week! Maybe they're catching the Spring Thing too. What a gorgeous evening at San Francisco's AT&T Park. On sunny Summer evenings, when the Sun gets low in the Western sky, it reflects off the windows of all the homes on the East Bay Hills, and this sight is impossible for the Broadcast Director to resist including in the Game's telecast. It looks sunning in HD...I never get tired of it!

Anyway, the SF Giants won against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight, sparked by a one hit shutout hurled by Giant's pitcher Matt Cain. Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval, "The Panda" came out of his Month of May Slump in the Batter's Box and drove in three runs. The last RBI came on his Solo Homerun on the first pitch of the 8th Inning.

Even though it was a Night Game, it seemed like a Sunny Summer Day Game.

After the Ball Game, I discovered that COMCAST carries the Universal Sports Network. This is an NBC Sports outlet that aired plenty of Olympics from the Beijing Games, and they were showing today's Stage of the Giro de Italia! It was a diabolical Mountain Stage to boot! Lots of suffering on the crazy steep climbs, insanely fast descents on rain-slicked mountain roads, and the Maglia Rosa (the Pink Jersey worn by the Leader) even changed hands on the ridiculously steep Mortirolo climb! (I must remember to do some trades for my Fantasy Bike Racing Team!)

In short, everything in My World is coming up daisies! Even the Local WeatherDudes are dropping Rain and Cold from their vocabularies! Spring is bustin' out all over My World!

Hang in there Jeweler, and all my friends in the High Sierra...your Spring is coming this weekend! Hallelujah!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sounds Good

More rain today...more snow in the High Sierra.

I began trundling around the Ancestral Digs at 6AM this morning to the soothing sound of steady rain. It's hit and miss showers today with the Sun peaking through once in a while. We went out this morning for a half hour...we got back just as the rain started back up.

Before noon, I heard my AM Radio make the tell tale ears perked up, and then I heard thunder rolling from far away. A few minutes later, the Heavens opened here, and the rain poured down. Mother Nature's Last Hurrah (We can hope) The Local WeatherDudes are saying this is it for the foreseeable future...that there's a warming trend coming for the Holiday Weekend. I wish 'em well, and hope they're right!

The Ancestral Diggins are getting a good soaking, but it's keeping me out of the garden today...

About 3PM, I made a trip down to the hardware store, drug store, and grocery store. Under partly cloudy skies, I was amazed at just how humid it wonder my Dad's roses have a fungus infection! When I got back, I took the camera out to the roses and took a couple dozen photos of the roses with drops of rain on the blooms. I had an ulterior motive...I wondered if any new Rose Black Spot lesions had developed since I removed all the infected leaves yesterday. Spending a half hour one foot from the rose bushes would reveal all. Nothing new there, so far, so good!

The Diggins were too wet to continue with the Privet Eradication Project, so I kicked back and listened to some Talk Radio while perusing the web for the latest weather intel. Before I knew it, the 5 O'clock News was on! KCRA lead with the weather in the Sierra, (as they did at noon) Their reporter said the CHP got 24 calls in the first 10 minutes after the snow started falling for spinouts and motorist assistance! They went on to show some snowbound campgrounds, and all the Yosemite waterfalls in all their spring runoff glory.

There is a Silver Lining to all these rain clouds...lots of our reservoirs are brimming full, or darn close. Lake Shasta is 99% full, Oroville is up to 69%, and San Luis Reservoir is at 73%! Last I heard, the snowpack was around 135% of normal. I looked at My Mountain's webcams, and add aother foot above 7000ft! It's still snowing at 7:48PM Thursday!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tipping Points

I did some Back Sliding last night. Though I was tired physically, I was way too alert to fall asleep before midnight. The Garden planning, my Niece's visit, following the latest blast of Winter Weather on the Late News and Facebook, and finding a fully stocked Artist Supply Store nearby had my brain on a nice simmer. Sometime after midnight, I went into the garage to get my measuring tape and some painter's masking tape, where I heard the steady thrumming of a good rain on the roof. I realized how comforting the sound made me feel all warm and cozy.

Once I got settled down and my head hit the pillow, I thought about the whole comforting rain feeling, and how different my response would have been at the DaveCave during Ski Season. The sound is very different for starters. Here in the Ancestral Digs' garage, the sound is unfiltered, natural even. There's a whole second story between the DaveCave and the roof, so the sound of rain is just a whisper...unless there's a good wind blowing. The rain beats against the South wall of the DaveCave, and when it's wind-driven rain, it pelts the front door which somehow amplifies the urgency of the rain.

Rain during the season is just awful. When I hear it on a work night, I cringe. My night is going to be crappy even if it's snowing up top. There's nothing worse than rain on the hill...period. When it's rain in Truckee, the snow falling at the base of My Mountain almost splashes when it lands. No Hero Snow, no chance of Grooming Bliss, it's squeegee time.

My alarm went off at 6AM, I snoozed until 6:20 until I stayed awake and tuned in the radio and found the Local News on TV. The Traffic Report featured Interstate 80 closed Eastbound due to a tipped over truck. It turns out the truck was a double fuel rig, and one trailer tipped over east of the Donner Summit Rest Area, and fuel was escaping...2500 gallons of diesel fuel! The CHP estimates the road will reopen around 11AM, about six hours after the accident.

There was another tipped over truck on I-80 the last time I went up the hill...that one spilled a little fuel, and a whole trailer full of beer into the median near Cisco Grove. That one delayed my departure for a couple of hours.

I just took a look at the webcam views, and read Reno's AFD. It's really snowing hard on Donner Summit at 10:20AM. They're not out of the woods just yet. The good news is, it's supposed to be over by the weekend when they've forecast a warm up.

I guess you could say I've reached my Tipping Point. Ski Season is now officially behind me psychically. In a few months, when the quality of the light makes it's Autumnal Change, I'll start looking forward to Next Season...getting in my Winter State of Mind...but for now, I'm all about the Garden and Summertime. Don't get me wrong, I feel for all the guys still on the Hill, hunkering down for yet another week of Lingering Winter. Hang in there Jeweler! Hang in there Guys! We'll have a Summer, honest...look at it this way...Every foot of snow is another week of river rafting and kayaking! Plus, the boat ramps should be in the water until October! Be glad you're not trout!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keepin' My Head Above What?

The rains returned to the Inland Valley Tuesday. Even the local TV Weathercasters are getting tired of being the bearers of bad news. Up in the High Sierra the locals are developing the siege mentality wherein foxhole fatalism is the order of the day. I for one, don't miss that one bit!

I do however have my own cross to bear. I'm itching to get the garden going here at the Ancestral Digs, but I'm too old to "play in the mud"! There is some digging involved with gardening, not to mention the irrigation upgrade, and this garden hasn't had much love since my Dad took ill. Oh, the gardeners come every week, and do the heavy lifting...they've done a bang-up job for the most part, husbanding Dad's roses, and keeping the hedges trimmed, the leaves blown, and the clippings in the green recycling can.

When Dad got sick, he couldn't tend his garden anymore, so now we're three years behind the fertilizing, dividing, and replanting...not to mention the irrigation, the pest management and the roundup and control of all the volunteers and upstarts.

On Monday, my niece (of the SiskiyouCounty Branch of the Family Tree) stopped by for dinner and an overnight on her way to Los Angeles. Since she lived here fifteen or so years more recently than I did, I toured the backyard with her and quizzed her about what she remembered about this tree, that you remember the Apple Tree that used to be here? Or was it a Crab Apple? Do you remember when these roses were Red instead of purple?

She had dim memories too, but thought the "Apple Tree Root Suckers" were a Lilac. The new huge, wild Privet she had no memory of, and noticed the one remaining red rose cane on the rose that was overgrown with blooming rootstock suckers. I looked through the photos of the yard from the past several years, and the privet interloper made it's first appearance about five years ago.

With the rainy weather stymieing my gardening, I turned to the indoor pursuit of garden glory...I started the Garden's Book. I needed a name for the garden, so I could give the Garden's Journal a proper title.

Way back before I moved to the DaveCave, I had an extensive garden of raised beds and a greenhouse all with automated irrigation and some perennial beds of Alpine Strawberries and Asparagus. Even in frigid Truckee, my Homebuilt Three Bin Composter built of salvaged lumber, turned out a cubic yard of rich mature compost every year, thanks to my Winter Hobby, All Grain Home Brewing! I learned by trial and error to keep a garden journal because ink on paper is a photographic memory...exactly the kind of memory I do not possess.

Given my flair for the obvious, naturally I named the garden: "The Ancestral Diggins" with a tip of the hat to the 49ers. No, not San Francisco's NFL Team, but their namesakes...the sturdy pioneers who came to California during the Gold Rush, and named everything in Gold Country "So and So's Diggins". I believe there's more places in Gold Country named "Whoever's Diggins" than named "Whoever-ville"

My Dad was a very organized Civil Engineer of German Extraction, and he loved to make drawings, plans, and As-Built Drawings. (His love of Drafting was an early clue that he wanted to be an engineer) Here at the Ancestral Digs, his files are brimming with folders and drawings of all the mechanical systems, the electrical plan, pool and filter plumbing, etc...but curiously, no Garden Journal, no garden plan, no sprinkler schematic, in garden documentation. I suspect that he loved his garden enough that he didn't feel the need to write it was in his heart. Well someone else will tend this garden after me, and I'll be away six months every year, so "The Ancestral Diggins Garden Book" is born.

The first thing that went in the book was the 2010 Wishlist, then the 2011 Wishlist. I spent a good portion of Sunday night researching online at the County Master Gardeners' Website, the UC Davis Sites and Farmer Fred Hoffman's Website for advice on which plants would like to live here in Sunset Zone 14/USDA Zone 9. I perused several Online Seed Emporia, and ordered some more seeds and supplies from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. They threw in two free packets of seed with my order: "Moon & Stars" watermelon, an heirloom grown by Thomas Jefferson, named for the unusual markings on it's midnight blue rind that resemble a full moon on a field of stars. The second gratis packet was a cabbage "Express Red"

Monday afternoon, I did errands...groceries, pharmacy, UPS Store, and a tour of the three nearest Nurseries to survey their seed inventory and seedling stock. I found my favorite watermelon seed at the mid-distance yard. "Mickylee" is a large icebox watermelon that I used to get from my friend Spud, who's been Truckee's "One-Man-Farmer's Market" for better than two decades.

Spud's retired from the railroad, blessed with the gift of gab, and his family are growers in the Marysville/Yuba City area. Spud knows a bunch of the truck farmers in the area and he's been bringing a van-full of vine ripe tomatoes, stone fruits and melons in-season every weekend from Memorial Day through October, forever. Several years ago, Spud started selling a new watermelon named Mickylee that I absolutely loved. The grower was a Widow who was carrying on after her husband had passed. Spud had her Mickylees for several seasons until we had our last long...cold...and wet Spring, when she decided not to plant her Micklees so late. She never grew the variety again, and I couldn't find Mickylee seed in home garden quantities anywhere online. It made my week to find a packet just three miles away!

At lunch yesterday my Mom mentioned that Dad's Favorite Red Rose had a problem. I looked, and sure enough there were deep purple spots on several leaves. I'd noticed the same trouble on a yellow rosebush in the back of the garden a couple of days ago.

Today, between showers, I clipped a sample of the infected rose leaves, the Lilac, and the interloping Privet, and bagged them in Ziplox, and headed down to the nearest nursery. Believe it or not, there was another customer in there in his Slicker and Sou'wester! It was raining pretty good, and the Nursery's Owner invited me into her office to get out of the rain. She confirmed my diagnosis of Rose Black Spot Fungus. She was intrigued with my tail of using garlic cloves blended with water and strained into a hand sprayer as an organic fungicide on damping off fungus on my seed starts. I love it when a story I'm telling someone turns the lights on for them!

She confirmed the Lilac and the Privet, and said the Lilac was likely planted by my father, as she'd never heard of birds or squirrels propagating Lilacs. The Privet on the other hand are infamous as invaders...spread by birds.

The WeatherDude on Channel 2 said Wednesday morning should be shower-free. I can get the Black Spot trimmed and removed from the garden before the next round of showers Thursday.

Baby steps...gotta start at the beginning I guess...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Wondering

It's awful nice this morning here in the Inland Valley. Pulling open the curtains revealed that the streets are dry, sky is blue, the winds...perfectly still. Where's the much hyped winter showers? Out to pick up the Morning Fishwrap, it proved to be an idyllic morning...still and quiet save for the songbirds.

Tired from my trip up and down the hill, I went to bed early...early enough that I was up a half an hour before my alarm. Today is one of my favorite days in my favorite's Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Versus TV is covering 7 1/2 hours LIVE in HD. Lots of time for the talking heads to get into the minutia of the Brickyard, the cars, the drivers, even the all important weather.

May is My's normally reliable as the first month of "Real Spring" in Truckee. In Italy, there's the Giro de Italia three week bicycle race. Indiana has the Indy 500 on Memorial Day Weekend to culminate the Month of May, and May is the Month of Mt Everest. May is the window between Winter and Monsoon Season when climbers ascend the World's Highest Peak.

Now I can look forward to May as Garden Month at the Ancestral's so good to be growing a garden again!

After a day of watching Indy Pole Day, and the Time Trial of the Tour of California in Downtown LA, I was wondering, just where are those forecast showers anyway?

I read Reno and SFO/Monterey's AFDs, and the showers are coming to both areas.

A quick tour from CorduroyPlanet's Webcam Toolbox showed no precip falling at My Mountain or the DaveCave. I saw wet pavement on I-80 at Kingvale. I looked at the Interactive Radar Page on KCRA's website, and the rain and snow are just missing the Ancestral Digs and DaveCave.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the World, a 13 year old American kid has summited Mt Everest! It turns out the boy's from Big Bear in SoCal, site of yesterday's Tour of California's first Mountaintop Finish!

The California teenager, Jordan Romero, used a Satellite Phone to call his Mom from the top of Mt Everest. Young Romero becomes the youngest person to summit the World's tallest peak, besting a 15 year old Sherpa girl named Ming Kipa (who still reigns as the youngest woman)

Another record was set at the" Top of the World" yesterday. Another local, Apa Sherpa stood atop Mt Everest for his 20th time! As of today (Sat May 22, 2010) 265 humans have summited Everest so far this month. reports another 80-90 are within striking distance for Sunday.

Sounds like a Friday at COSTCO to me...sheesh, 80-90 climbers near the top? That's "Incorrect Behavior" as BajaBabe would say! I wonder how many climbers will make the top this year? Two have already paid the Ultimate Price so far this month. I fear a "Human Dominoes" scenario with crowding and fatigue above the Hillary Step!