Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Snake: It's Not What's For Dinner

Dead snake No. 8 for the year.
There's a 39-inch rattlesnake in my freezer. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

I'm saving it for my neighbor. 

Yup, you read that right, too. But it's not for her dinner. She skins 'em and decorates walking sticks.

Seriously, folks, how far from my sterling silver upbringing on the Palos Verdes Peninsula can I get?

So today, I'm gardening (of course, because what else do I do on my days off?) and Mason's down the driveway a good ways, weed-whacking the overgrown greenery encroaching on the road. I'm tossing tree roots into the firepit when I notice a good-size snake winding its way across the driveway and into the north lawn. (Yes, we have a north lawn, as well as a west lawn, a south lawn and a back lawn, which is really the east lawn, but we don't want to sound snooty, so we just call it the back lawn.)

I quickly haul my ass down the driveway and flag down Mason, who conveniently has the snake pistol on his hip, because when you're weed-wacking the driveway, odds are good that a snake may be in  there.

Now, a few weeks ago, we were talking to a weekends-only neighbor about how many snakes we'd killed this year (6 copperheads and a rattler that I almost stepped on). Explaining her walking stick art project, she asked us to save our future kills. Sure, no problem.

That's right; we measure our kills.
But we failed to ask what the best way is to save the snake. Today is Tuesday, and she won't be back up on the mountain until Thursday evening. So we froze the snake. It's in a Ziploc, behind the Boston Market frozen meal that Mason will eat for lunch when I go back to work.

The gross part is that snakes still do a fair amount of moving despite decapitation; once we got half the rattler into the Ziploc, the back half  just curled itself right on into the bag. Then we double-bagged it, for good measure.

SO, that's our snake story of the day. In other news:
My Little Lime hydrangea is an absolute winner. Buy one, people. Buy five of them!
A frog has taken up residence in my watering can. I dump him out; he moves back in.

My hardy begonias are blooming. Love those veiny undersides.

Heucheras do really well here; this is Silver Scrolls.

I harvested my first eggplant; the babaganoush was delicious.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Past 24 Hours

OMG! Aren't my watermelons the cute-i-est?
 I've created a little hammock for this one so the stem doesn't break.

In the past 24 hours, we have:
1.  Dropped a 70-foot pine tree that was blocking evening sun from the solar panels.
2, Killed a copperhead snake hiding in a wood pile.
3.  Cut the tree into 2-foot logs to be split tomorrow for future bonfires.
4. Burned off all the tree's needley top in a bonfire. Snake carcass burned, too.
5. Cleaned the mold growing inside the house because it's been so hot and humid. Yeah, I know. Gross. Luckily, boat life prepared me for this.
6. Pruned the tomatoes and watermelons.
7, Mowed the lawn areas.
8. Prepared a steak dinner for Mason, veggie tacos for Nan.
9. Slept 11 hours.
10.  Designed a back yard for a North Chattanooga home.
11. Ate a delicious grilled cheese and tomato sandwich with tomatoes from the garden.
12. Mowed up by the lake.
13. Cleaned the chimney for the coming winter. (Involves a trip up on a VERY steep roof.)
14. Killed 16 Japanese beetles.
15. Pruned the watermelons, again.
16. Prepared a grilled shrimp dinner.
17. Watched "One Hour Photo" to honor Robin Williams' dramatic (i.e.: creepy) skills.
18. Walked the dog four times.

In all, not a bad life, I say.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Dinner Guest: Moo

My name is Moo; I'm a serious spitfire of energy.
Meet Moo. He's adorable. He's also only 2 years old and has more energy than the Energizer Bunny.

Moo and his parents braved our dirt road today to come see where Nick's crazy parents live. Thanks to recent visitors Ralph and Foti, we now can give folks a Google Maps address (not ours, but close) that makes the drive in much more simple, if not easier. Of course, it helped that Moo's dad drives a big-ass truck.

I met Moo's parents at the nursery, when I helped them design their incredibly gorgeous back yard. People, you have no idea how beautiful a more than 180-degree, 2,300?-foot cliffside view all the way to the Smoky Mountains is. After some chatting, I learned that Moo's parents once sailed the South Pacific (much farther than we did). Needless to say, we had something in common.

Nick has come a long way in getting along with others, and did quite well with Moo. He didn't really play with the pup, because Nick's "special" that way, but he did wag his tail a fair amount. And he only growled now and then. This is progress, people!! Nick even begged for loving from Moo's parents. (Yeah, that's right, I'm not naming them. I'm willing to give people a lot of anonymity up here. What happens on Flat Top, stays on Flat Top.)

After our guests left, we rounded out the evening with a bonfire, listening to an NPR music special on the music of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. And now, "Silverado" is on the broadcast movie channel.

How good is this day? Seriously. Life is incredible.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Progress In the Veggie Garden

Ask Mason to pose for a photo with his latest achievement, and you get this:

Kilroy was here.
Isn't this better?
Hey, handsome!
But alas, isn't the new gate to my veggie garden cute? The fence isn't finished yet, and won't be till winter time, but hey, I have a really cute gate!  Especially since, before the gate arrived, we were having to duck under bird netting every day to water our plants. We also had to water using rainwater and watering cans until ... MASON RAN A WATER LINE OUT TO THE GARDEN!! Who's my hero?

That's my eggplant you see on the lower left of the upper photo; none of the flowers has set yet. Damn. But as I said before, I got started late. I've just started harvesting tomatoes, and the watermelon plant is now about 12 feet wide and several tiny little melons are charming us daily.

Wait! One more garden gate photo, and my happy place:

This is a trilobia rudbeckia ... Craig, what was the name of it again?
We'll be adding a pergola top to the whole garden fence, come winter. Patience, my friends.

We've invited new friends to come to the cabin on Wednesday for dinner. Pray for us, and for them ...