In The Garden

Adios Bee Swarm

After two days, it didn't look like the bees were going anywhere and I wanted to make sure they found a good home. I called a live bee catcher and he promised and assured me that the bees would go to either an avocado ranch or an orange grove and they would have their own hive.

I video taped the very low-tech procedure. The Bee Man had short sleeves on and didn't get stung. He said bees who are swarming are not very aggressive.

Of course there were some bees who didn't make it into the bee box with the queen and they are flying around like crazy. The Bee Man said they will make their way back to their original hive (and hopefully won't be mocked for crawling back home.) Bee Man also said there were about 1000 bees. Small swarm.

So long bees! Happy to have helped with your new hiving!

Bee Swarm Day 2

The Bees have decided to stay another night. I know how tough it is to find good real estate in West LA. I'm sure their scouts are working overtime to find a new hive location. Hopefully it won't be anywhere near our house. Love the bees, but not permenantly.

Look how pretty they are all crowded together. How do they do that?


Bee Swarm

Our neighbor called to tell us that a swarm of bees took up in our front tree. We looked out and lo and behold, there they were all snuggling up together for a good night sleep.


We are not concerned. I somehow remembered (in the brain that retains all random things) that when bees do this, it's only for a day or two at the most. So I looked it up and sure enough, they are just moving hives and while they chill out here, the scouts are out looking for a new spot to move into. Apparently the bees are full and happy and not really defensive unless you go and provoke them.

I hope they get a good rest and find their new home soon. You are welcome to our branch as long as you need it, bees!  (Anyone know of any spirit guide significance to a bee swarm?)

Tree Trimming And Maintenance 2010

Joys of home ownership -- must trim those trees every year or so. The cool damp summer made our ficus grow like mad.

Here's how it was early this morning, taking up a big chunk of our yard:


Now here it is after. Ahhhhhh:


The other ficus we didn't want at all anymore - here's how it was before:


And now after, or should I say, GONE:


There's a window in that back wall of the garage/office and it must be so much brighter in there now.

It's not cheap but it's necessary and plus it feels like our backyard is ten times larger! The front tree was trimmed up quite a bit as well, but I didn't get a chance for the befores/afters this morning. Take my word or come visit...

(And wow, so glad I'm getting a new camera for Christmas.)


Wild Kingdom In West LA

Smokey is our part time neighborhood cat. He has no collar but seems well fed and clean so we assume he belongs to someone nearby. He does spend time sunbathing in our yard some mornings and uses our fence as an easement to other places. Sometimes he let's me pet him, but not often. I have no idea what his name is, I just started calling him Smokey. I mean, look at the pictures, wouldn't you think "Smokey"? (Kurt teases me for naming cats obvious things.)

All that is prologue to today when I caught Smokey out of the corner of my eye along the fence through one of my office windows. I turned idly to watch him continue on his way at the 2nd window and saw that he had a dead mouse in his jaws. The Supreme Predator at work!!

I thought he would keep going, but instead he hopped down to the ground below my window and began to do what cats do: play with their food...



 ...then scarf it down. Mmmmm!


I don't know why it made me laugh, but I appreciate that Smokey likes our backyard enough to enjoy his well earned lunch.

Good boy Smokey!


Smokey is a good neighbor. Once he was done eating (I didn't watch that part), he left not a trace of anything in his picnic ground.

Where is Marlin Perkins or Jim Fowler when you need them?


Spring Planting

Quick snaps of the veggie/herb garden we put in this afternoon. Couldn't have asked for better weather to garden! Cool and overcast. My hands smell like rosemary.

Here we have tomatoes (2 kinds), yellow peppers,and thyme (common and variegated). 


Over here we have rosemary, basil, more peppers and tomatoes and italian parsley. The pot has mint, basil and thyme. The rosemary, mint and italian parsley were left-overs from last year. I trimmed them up, broke them into smaller sections and replanted. 


I never have luck with basil so I'm trying them in new spots this year and am going to water them more frequently. That will start tonight/tomorrow with this rain we are supposed to get. 

The only casualty was a huge black widow spider. She found a spot under the window (above the tomatoes here) and had two egg sacs with her. I realize it was racial profiling, but she had to go. 

Sunflowers and Broccoli

Inspired by Will's post about his sunflower seedlings coming up, I thought I'd do a quick update on our back 40 (40 square inches). The broccoli is coming in nicely and the sunflower are springing up. The largest ones on the left, closest to the wall are volunteers from last year! Nice to have them back. 


They grew about 7 or 8 feet and I could see the lovely flowers outside our kitchen windows and I look forward to seeing them again.

Fun Busy!

Waterlily This weekend we depart on our southwest road trip and we are really looking forward to it. I haven't been on a proper road trip for ages. I hope this is the start of many to come. I feel like when we have kids we might be total throwback parents -- packing up the car and kid/s and hitting the road, seeing the biggest ball of string and giant frying pan, etc. Can't wait. For now I'll be glad to see the natural wonders of the southwest. Look for blog posts to come on our trip.

Waterlily As some of you LAers know, there is a series on LA Metblogs I run called Classic Eats. Event #5 is scheduled for May 2 and the voting has begun for where we will go. I am really pleased with the turn out and enthusiasm for these events. We've always had at least 12 people at each event, and hopefully that will keep expanding. The last event we did at Pie N Burger in Pasadena and after we ate, we went to another place and sat around talking for two more hours! Great discussions about Los Angeles, Music, movies, etc. I love these events.

Waterlily One of the options to vote on within Classic Eats has been the Hot Dog Death March. One of the other Metblog authors suggested we create a stand alone event and so The Hot Dog Event Of The Year was born. Check out the website for Hot Dog Death March. Please mark June 13 on your calendars and start stocking up on antacids. This is going to be so much fun. We'll have t-shirts and contests and I'm sure much wacky conversation while waiting in line to eat hot dogs!

Waterlily I made time last weekend to do the spring planting: Basil, tomatoes, broccoli, rosemary, and sunflowers. I have other flower seeds to plant, but probably won't get to them until May at this point. I restrained myself from planting too many tomatoes and opted not to have zucchini again this year. I liked having them last year, but they take up so much space. We'll see what happens with the broccoli. It felt good to get my hands dirty, and it always feels good to be that grounded. I look forward to more planting in the next few weeks. 

Here is the main section with all the baby plants snuggling into their new beds.


Spring is springing along!

Random Tidbits To Finish The Week

WaterlilyAfter that Long Walk down Western, I had some blisters. They were in the same spots I had always been getting them, the inner side of my heels. There were layers of the rumpled skin over the weeks, but nothing too bad. This week, the top layers starting peeling off, nothing gross, mind you, just the natural thing. But as I sat on the couch last night picking at the edges of the dried skin, it reminded me of being on the crew team in college. When you row, you get blisters on your hands which you then work up to nice calluses, but there are always little blisters showing up along the way. At morning practice we usually left before the men's teams and tried to arrive back at the dock before them. The guys would yell at us, "STOP PICKING YOUR CALLUSES AND HURRY UP!" And you'd realize that in fact, you do spend a lot of time picking your calluses when you are on crew. It made boring classes go by faster.

WaterlilyLast night at Trader Joe's a song came on the PA -- John Denver singing "You Fill Up My Senses". Talk about a sentimental journey. It took me right back to Jen and being little, when we still lived on Oahu. Mom played his albums over and over and my other sister, Dor, later learned to play guitar and could play all his songs. (Which I thought was unbelievably cool, still do, actually.) I remember going to his Concert at the H.I.C (Now the Neal Blaisdell Center) with Mom and Jen and Jackie and Sloane. Was Betsy there too? Can't was awesome! Walking the aisles last night listening to Johnny D made me teary eyed and I would have been fine, but then the next song was "Seasons In The Sun" from that same time period. Lyrics anyone? Yeah "Good bye my friends it's hard to die/when all the birds are singing in the sky..." Thanks TJs, thanks a lot.

Waterlily But the evening was not awash in tears as I was at TJ's to buy treats for the weekend. Kurt and I are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary (which is on Monday) by staying at a swank hotel right here in town. We are bringing our own little picnic basket with yummy snacks (to save a few $$ on room service) and just relax and not think about a thing all weekend. It's the same hotel we stayed in for two nights when we got married. We called it our Mini-Moon because we didn't go on an actual honeymoon until a year later. Seven years ago I remember lounging around watching whatever was on tv and a rerun of Barney Miller was on. We were enthralled.

Waterlily We got a Wii Fit a few weeks ago and I started using it recently. I highly recommend it. The exercises are fun because there is so much variety. The strength and yoga exercises are straight forward with a "Trainer" walking you through it all. More fun are the balance and aerobic exercises as they are fun games. My favorite so far is the ski jump. My least favorite is the skiing slalom race.I am really bad at it! Missing gates all the time. I do pretty well on the penguin/fish slide thingy. Yesterday I did a set of boxing exercises and dang if my shoulders and biceps aren't sore this morning! Since it is a game system, as you repeat more of the exercises, new balance or aerobic games are unlocked. I value any exercise system that keeps me interested and coming back. The only downfall is that the program will say things like "I noticed you didn't work out yesterday, Julia, why not?" (or something like that.) But there is no interactive "Hey, I put on my shoes and went for a walk, shut up!" But aside from that, I am enjoying the variety and fun of it.

Waterlily There has been much wildlife activity in our backyard, more than just squirrels. First there is Groucho, a mostly black cat with white spots, and a mustache that makes him (her?) look like the famed Marx Bro. This is not a feral cat, he's very friendly, especially now that we've started giving him a little food when he comes by, which is about once or twice a week, at most. He has no collar and is very clean and tidy. I'm sure he belongs to someone nearby and is just working our soft spot for cats. There is another cat who cruises through from time to time. We call him Smokey - long hair, smokey gray calico. He is much more aloof, bolts if you step out the door. With all this cat-activity, it doesn't surprise me to see one of them walking along our backyard fence out my window in the mornings. So imagine my double and triple take when I saw this the other day:
Momma Opossum and her four little babies. I know possums can creep people out, but to see one in bright daylight (it was way past their bedtimes) with babies clinging on, I was in love. (You can click for bigger cuteness.) I ran around trying to get pictures of them without scaring her too much. I took the above photo from inside and this one from outside:
I'm hoping she found a snug spot to settle into.

Waterlily Last of all, it is raining just a little today. How nice! Finally some fall weather on Halloween. No trick or treaters for us this year, we will be treating ourselves. Don't forget to set your clocks back this weekend.