Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iris Eyes Are Smiling

It's not a typo. I'm not talking about Irish eyes. And, I'm not talking about the iris in your eye. This weather today reminded me of Ireland. This is basically how it was the entire time I was there, rainy, misty, cool. I can't very well complain about the weather today. We haven't had any appreciable amount of rain in weeks. Hubby has been watching the weather each day, just waiting for some rain to come and water our grassy lawn. It's been dry and there's only so much we can do for our lawn. It's just a little too much to water with our well. I like the grass okay, the cats play on it, and it makes a good backdrop for my pictures, but it's really hubby's bailiwick. So I'm happy it's raining today, we needed the rain.

One area I don't really have to worry too much about in dry conditions is my iris garden. What? Didn't you know I had an iris garden? As it turns out, this is my first year growing irises. Well, technically, I did plant the rhizomes last summer, but they bloom in the spring of the following year. By the time I started writing this blog, the irises stopped their blooming. I was on to strawberries, and veggies, and... well you remember. As I see it, it's never too late to take a look back. And see, they do make you smile, just cast your eyes on these babies.

Tahiti Sunrise

One thing you may have figured out by now, gardeners of all kinds are very generous people. We like to share our bounty with others, and doubtless it's because some other gardener has done the same for us at one time or another. Did you know, that I did not buy one rhizome for this garden as of yet? Two lovely gardening friends contributed the rhizomes that make up this garden. Most of them, over 20, came from one friend in Philadelphia (thanks Mit!). Irises must be dug up and divided every few years or they become overcrowded. This is a good time to share or trade rhizomes with friends. I look forward to sharing my irises when the time comes to renovate this iris bed.

Black Beard

There are countless varieties of irises, with new introductions every year. You can find them in just about every color of the rainbow (just about) and even black. The irises I grow are Tall Bearded Irises, but there are other types, really too many to list here. But you can read more about it if you click this link.

I can see how gardeners get addicted to irises. There are so many to choose from, the variety is endless. To me, they are some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow. They look so exotic, almost tropical. But you don't have to live in the tropics to have this perennial in your garden.

This iris below produced lots of blooms during the spring. They look so fancy. One would think they are hard to care for. On the contrary, irises are an easy plant to care for. That's probably the reason you may see them in a city park or planter.

Edith Wolford

Double Your Fun and Bonus Mama didn't bloom for me until September. They're still blooming now. I've read that they're rebloomers. So I'm anticipating blooms in spring and fall next year. Bonus Mama was the only one of my irises that grew a curvy stem. The rest were very straight.

Double Your Fun

Bonus Mama

Man About Town was known as "Mystery Iris" in my garden until a few days ago. My Philadelphia friend identified it for me. Handsome whatever you call him, still it's nice to know his name. I dig the stripes.

Man About Town

Returning Rose sounded to me like it was going to be a rebloomer, but she didn't bloom this fall. I think she gets her name from the fact that she just kept producing blooms over a long stretch in the spring. I photographed this one many times. I really like her. I'm sure we will be seeing more photos of her next year.

Returning Rose

Friday, October 5, 2007


The tomatofest offered a pre-mixed collection of tomatoes. One could buy tomatoes and
have them shipped home, or take them "to go".

This seems like the longest trip ever, doesn't it? Are you bored yet? I promise this is the last entry about our trip. Last but not least, we headed to Carmel, CA for a Tomatofest. This is a charity event that is put on by a seed company at a golf and spa resort. They emailed me back in June to say that we should come early and wait on the line. That the waiting line is an event in and of itself with food and entertainment. One thing, you might not know about me, I don't like getting places early and waiting (except when it's for work, getting there early makes me feel better, but that's different!). I just never see the point in standing in line. I have my ticket, I know I'm getting in, so what's the rush? Not ever having been to this event, I didn't want to take a chance that I would miss something. Then I might feel bad. So we dutifully went early as instructed. I have to say, the event was handled smoothly. Everything was very orderly and calm. But did we need to get there early? No! The "entertainment," some guys singing, was only in one spot, where we couldn't see/hear them. The food was popcorn and fried green tomatoes. I declined the popcorn. Who wants to fill up on that? I'm here for the tomatoes! This was my first time trying fried green tomatoes, and I gotta say, they aint bad! I always imagined that the tomato part would be bland having not ripened, but no, they were tangy. I like it. I'm not crazy about the greasiness of fried food in general and this was no exception.

Once the gates opened, we were let loose on tables of food (with tomatoes of course) prepared by chefs, a tasting table with 350 varieties of tomatoes, and wine tasting of many, many wineries. I headed straight for the tomato tasting tables. They were set up with a whole tomato in the middle, so you can see what it looks like, and then the cut up samples down below. I photographed the ones that we liked, so that we could remember for future reference. They had preprinted check lists available to mark seed purchases. Some of my favorites, however, were suspiciously missing from the checklist. Several ladies I met while circling the tomato table were surreptitiously saving seeds from the samples. I thought that silly at the time. I mean, who has time for that? This event is only four hours and there's a lot to see, eat, drink, taste in that time. Once I got my seed checklist and learned that some of my picks were not on there, or sold out, I was bummed. But since I have limited space and liked almost two dozen, there was no way I was going to get seeds and grow out that many any time soon.

We met a lot of nice people at the event. We were some of the last to leave, mostly because I was going over my tomato list. Sticking around, we were given tomatoes by different people we met. I didn't feel I could decline the tomatoes. That would be rude. But, let's face it, at the end of a four hour tomato tasting event, you're a bit tomatoed out. Plus, we were leaving the next day to fly home. I didn't think the airline would allow me to carry on tomatoes with the new regulations. I didn't want to eat anymore tomatoes that day either. So I gave all my tomatoes to the shuttle bus driver that took us back to the hotel. She seemed happy to have them. When it comes to tomatoes, it never hurts to pay it forward.

Toothpicks were available for picking up a taste of each neatly labeled variety.
I did find some mislabeled and misspelled. My reward? More tomatoes! Thanks.

We only had one day in Carmel, unfortunately. After the tomatofest, we got the car and went for a drive. We drove down to the cute town area, parked and went to the beach. We walked along it for a bit. It was surprisingly busy for an overcast early evening. We could see the pebble beach golf course and decided to get back into the car and go for a drive.

To enter this scenic drive along the coast, with mansions and look out points along the way, one has to pay admission. If I remember correctly, it was $9. I found this a bit humorous for some reason. We wanted to see it, so we paid the price. I think the views were worth the price of admission. The overcast clouds cleared out and left behind just the right amout of clouds to make it interesting. The light was beautiful. We happened to be there at just the perfect time of day for picture taking. For the rest, well there's not much to say. So I'll let the pictures do the talking. Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

San Francisco Here We Come

Street corners have the names stamped into the pavement (right). You don't have to look up confused at the signs to know where you are.

This trip was my first time in San Francisco. It's a nice city. It's funny, the things that make it unique, are also the same things people label as touristy. I don't mind seeing touristy things, after all, I AM a tourist. People will say, you have to see the real city, like a local. Well, I'm not about to get up at 6:00 a.m. shower, shave, blow dry, iron an outfit and go out on my merry way to work. Isn't that what I'd do if I were a local? I'd much rather be a tourist. Roll out of bed when I feel like it and meander around wherever the mood takes me, and of course, take pictures (okay, that is my job, to take pictures, don't get all technical with me).

Before we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco, we had to stop and take a picture. It was early evening and the light had a golden quality to it. A very pretty time of day. Across the bay, San Francisco looks foggy. The Golden Gate Bridge has a team of full time painters keeping it that bright orange color. When they get to the end, they start all over again. I wonder if they have a hard time keeping employees.

One of the days we were there, we took a boat ride around the bay. These sail boats were heading out all in a line. In the background, you can see Alcatraz.

We cruised by The Rock and that was enough for me to see it from the outside. The boat tour featured an audio recording with interviews from past inmates of Alcatraz. One man spoke of seeing the federal penitentiary in the bay as he grew up in San Francisco. How it was a looming presence. He never imagined he'd end up there. Another man said he only ever looked out the window once while incarcerated there. He couldn't bare to see the teasing bright lights of the city. The sight of people living their lives in the distance was too much to think about.

Something I never knew about that I found intriguing. Americans Indians (I was taught to say Native Americans, but that is now out. So indigenous peoples of the Americas...), occupied Alcatraz Island 1969-1971. It was supposed to be a symbolic occupation carried out by urban college students, but turned into a full scale occupation that lasted 18 months. This sign below was on the side of a building on Alcatraz Island. Read more about it here, click this link.

Back on land, we saw some cable cars. I like looking at them. Especially the ones that look like this. Sort of like an airstream trailer with 1950's diner paint job. Most of them just look like regular city buses attached to cables.

Down at Fisherman's Wharf, on Pier 39, you can see all the Sea Lions you want. They like to hang out on the rafts here and started doing so in 1990. The Sea Lions alone make it worth the trip down to Fisherman's Wharf. Their barking is quite loud and boisterous. They fight with each other, sun themselves, groom themselves, and just sit around looking cute posing for pictures. I think they like the attention.

See that Sea Lion (Lioness?) and her (I think it's a her) three babies? She chased away any other Sea Lions that got too close to her little ones. They're trying to take a nap and they don't need some barker waking them up.

They remind me of cats when they sun themselves and squeeze their eyes shut tight. Hmm, this is the life.