Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Que Syrah, Syrah

Soooo many grapes....

When we moved into the house in 2013, the previous owners said the grape vines were Paso Robles Syrah.  They had Cut Them Back to just the main vine, that had taken 25 years to wind around the metal arched arbor they'd installed.  And when we moved in during October, the vines sprouted only a few little new shoots of growth.  Dr Desert Flower looked it up online, and she found where it said to cut back the new growth each year, so that the 2nd year's growth would produce fruit.  So we cut off the few little shoots in the winter of 2013, and then in the 2014 Spring, the vine surged in growth.
Dionysus (Διόνυσος) would be proud
In the Winter of 2014-2015, I cut back the vines about 1/2 way, and left the largest shoots still in place.  Wow... abundant production doesn't start to describe it.  Whereas we had about 10 bunches of grapes total in 2014, the 2015 out put will be over a 100 bunches, if not more.  They are hanging everywhere... and won't be ripe enough to pick or eat for at least another month or two at the earliest.

The birds & gnats got to the grapes in 2014, and of the 10 or so bunches, we enjoyed 1.5 bunches that were not pecked at by birds, swirling with gnat clouds, or being chomped on my lizards or insects.  Those 100+ 2015 bunches will make a real mess later this summer, if not promptly harvested by the new owners.

You can't see it, but there's a robin's nest, smack dab in the center of that arbor.  Two mourning doves tried to build a nest there, and I shooed them out, since they were going to poop all over my grill just 4 feet away.   Then, a pair of robins moved into the 1/2 built nest, finished it, and the female sits silently, paralyzed, "you can't see me" on it when I walk past to take out the garbage or do yard work. Persistent these birds are!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Government Dole for OC Hummingbirds is OVER

As I sit in the NW corner of my home this Memorial Day afternoon, watching dozens of hummingbirds visit what used to be the locations of 8 different hummingbird nectar feeders in my backyard, I find it quite ironic and funny, that the era of Hummingbird Welfare has come to an end in Orange County - Laguna Hills specifically.  SO Many hummingbirds have grown so accustomed to visiting my backyard for high quality, fresh, consistently available sugar water...  that when I took down 3 of the last 4 empty - or - nearly - empty feeders this afternoon, the colibri boys and girls go to where they USED TO find nectar feeders, and look around... and look around some more...  hovering, pivoting... and then go to a nearby agapanthus or day lily or petunia, and drink from the lower-sugar-higher-protein sources of natural-and-not-human-provided food.  I took the first 4 down yesterday, and washed them all thoroughly - I've been making 1 gallon per week of sugar water, refilling the 8 feeders, since last Christmas when the last 2 feeders were added to the previous 6.
taken via iPhone 5S, through NW breakfast nook window (hence the shadow reflections), from 3 feet away
Dr Desert Flower has reassured me that in Carlsbad we will have many hummingbirds.  I countered, that the plethora of hummingbirds I've attracted here (Rufous, Anna's, Costa's, Black Chinned, Allen's) won't be able to fly the 40 mile commute down to Carlsbad, through the Camp Pendleton barren & hazardous landscape...  but she said new, San Diego County hummingbirds will definitely show up.  Il faut voir...   the backyard hummingbird paradise I created here in Laguna Hills may be difficult to replicate in the arid hills of Carlsbad.  We will soon find out.

Morrissey + Violent Femmes = Ski Patrol

Dr Desert Flower is playing Direct TV's "Alternative" station today as we throw things out and get ready for this week's move, further south in California.  I heard a song by Ski Patrol...  and I thought...  "I liked them when they were called the Violent Femmes".   Then..  the song got more whiney, and had more back-ground guitar music...  and I said..  no...   this is like if Morrissey and the Violent Femmes had drunken sex, and then 9 months later, they'd give birth to Ski Patrol.  (hard to do, since Morrissey & all the Violent Femmes members are all male...   but the analogy still stands).

I still do like the Violent Femmes.  I have never really liked Morrissey (too whiny, too self absorbed, too preachy for me.  I am undecided on Ski Patrol.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Esposito In Duck Territory

As I was working outside my house today, trimming away foliage that the Termite company had accidentally painted as they restored my home to a termite-free status before we move next week, I unexpectedly saw a package on my front porch, addressed to me, from Schereville, IN.  I was confused...  everyone I knew who lived in Schereville (my cousins Mike & Tom) had moved out of there many years ago...  so who was sending me something?

I opened the package, to find an unexpected surprise from my very cool little brother.  A customized Tony Esposito #35 Blackhawks jersey, from one of my little brother's friend's businesses ("he knows a guy" ... he's from Chicago).  Very cool!  When I was in Chicago recently, I inquired if such a jersey was in stock, and my brother called his friend who said no, it would have to be special ordered and take 6 weeks or so... so I told my little brother not to worry about it.  When my little brother called to ask me what my address is, and when I am moving earlier this week, I should have known something was up!!  Thanks little brother!!

Now, I need to find an Anaheim Ducks oriented sports bar to go to tonight and wear my new jersey...  heh heh heh!  Let's hope da Hawks even it up to 2-2, and don't let the Ducks go 3-1.

And I promise not to get into any fights with Ducks fans.  = )

The Good Ship Venus

My brother in law shared this with me...   it is hilarious!  (parental warning though, don't listen to it with small children around, unless you want to be asked LOTS of questions and have to explain a whole bunch of sexually explicit material to the young listener)

 Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c 
Link again (since youtube removes it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

14 to 1, LA tries to become livable

Today, I heard on NPR, that Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 1, to eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, a dollar a year (it's $9 an hour now, above the national minimum wage standard).  In doing so, LA becomes the LARGEST US city to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

What's the matter with you New York and Chicago?  Falling a little behind, ain't ya?  I'm sure it's easy to raise a family on $9 an hour in both NE Illinois and Eastern New York State, no problem.  While Mid Western states are often heading back to the 17th Century, California added 350,000 residents last year (yes, we'll get Another congressman soon).   Sure, San Francisco will get to $15 an hour by 2018 (2 years earlier than LA), but LA is 5 times the size of land locked & peninsula'ed SF.
Sorry Mitchell, but my wife is far smarter & hotter than yours, and has a much more progressive world view.

It's the one aspect of moving further south, towards San Diego, that makes me a little bit sad... as we'll be farther away from tempted-income-equality-LA, and closer to Mitt-Romney-loving-San-Diego County.  But Dr Desert Flower's commute will be cut in half, and the onerous Camp Pendleton immigration check point will no longer have to be endured non a daily basis.

Mitchell Englander, the lone Republican on the City Council, and the only fool to vote against the minimum wage increase, you're on the wrong side of history, as is your party and your ideology.  Watch, as the City of Angels continues to grow and thrive, instead of wither, atrophy, and decay (as you and your party have predicted).  You're an anachronism Englander.  If you really hate income equality, move to China, where the disparity is so pronounced, you can taste it in the actual air you're trying to breathe.