Category Archives: Gardening
This is the final installment in the brief life history of the little maul oak tree I purchased from Theodore Payne Nursery back in the late fall of 2008 to commemorate the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States. I actually didn’t get it planted in the ground until the day Hillary Clinton was sworn in as Secretary of State. Whether planted in the ground or in a pot, no matter what I did, I couldn’t make this tree thrive. I just barely kept it alive. Obamas’ uplifted face proclaiming “HOPE” on a decal on the back of my Volvo is now a faded white rectangle. I’m not blaming him. I think we all know how hard it is to get anything done today let alone with the lack of support he is getting with the loudest voices in the Senate trying to cram the entire nation into their angry time machine to repeat the mistakes we’ve made before. But wait, I’m getting a bit too political here. This is about my little oak tree that I envisioned, yes and HOPED my kids could climb, maybe fall out of and slightly fracture an arm, lob water balloons at unsuspecting speeding cars from, have birds build nests in and hatch their eggs.
Sadly, the maul oak tree is dead. I just put it in the green waste bin to be recycled with the rest of our compost to be picked up early Wednesday morning with the rest of our bins. So what do you do? You start over again. You get your butt out of bed every morning, wake your kids up for school and warm up the espresso machine and hope the things you do make a difference.
The pineapples are expensive at the Wailupa and Hanalei farmer’s market this year. There’s usually a mad rush for the Pineapple Lady who sells her “Agricultural Works of Art” for as high as $18.00 each. This study in pineapple is the “El Greco” and goes for $10.00. It’s a self described “Masterpiece.”
In Hanalei the main highway is a 2 lane street. On the mountain side of Kuhio Highway there are taro fields and on the ocean side there is shave ice. There couldn’t be a more odd pairing in all the world. The words natural, sustainable, nutritious, indigenous and Hawaiian come to when I think of taro. Shave ice is… refreshing… to a point, colorful… in strange sort of way, and Hawaiian.
I don’t love The Yankees. My heart was ripped out a couple of week ago. I’m not referring to the ER post. I’m referring to game 4 of the NLCS. We (The Dodgers) were so close. I’ve been wanting to do a baseball post since April. We even did this Baseball Promo (shown above) piece which we never sent out. It’s now one day after the Yankees won their 27th World Series. Another season has gone by. Baseball like no other sport takes in account the season. You start in the spring and end in the fall with melancholic winter weather looming on the horizon. Just read The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
I don’t hate the Yankees. Growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, I used to be a huge Yankee fan. They played their spring training games here and I remember going to the games as a kid with my mom and dad and brother. I loved the players names: Whitey Ford, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Mantle, Clete Boyer, Roger Maris to name a few. I was a kid and these were men with manly names. God, I wish I had my old baseball cards. Okay, this is where this post starts to shift to left field or more accurately the bull pen. The bull pen is where the pitchers warm up.
It’s 1971 and the Baltimore Orioles are playing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. I’m 11 years old, and ride in a big yellow bus to Rickards Middle School. I got a transistor radio hidden amongst my books listening to Mr. Big Suff, A’int No Sunshine and to some of the baseball games. They played during the day back then. I was just amazed by Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson. They were my heroes.
The Oriole manager Earl Weaver was a different story. Besides being known for his embarrassing tirades with umpires, he was also intriguing to me for his tomato garden in the Oriole bullpen. I don’t know how I heard about this but apparently this hot head of a manager grew tomatoes in Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium. I think about this whenever I plant a tomato plant and smell that distinctive tomato plant smell. It brings baseball back to me. Last year while digging up info of Weaver and his tomatoes on the internet I happened upon this interesting article.
O’s groundskeeper Pat Santarone dies at 79
The tomato plants that grew at old Memorial Stadium, and the competitions between head groundskeeper Pat Santarone and manager Earl Weaver that sprouted along with them, are almost as legendary as any championships that were won. Santarone died unexpectedly Tuesday at his home in Hamilton, Mont. He was 79.
“Pat and I were very close. He was the best man at my wedding,” Weaver said. “And he meant a lot to Memorial Stadium. He was just like a part of that park itself.”
Santarone, who served as head groundskeeper from 1969 to 1991, died in his sleep of natural causes.
We always plant tomatoes in our summer garden. They never do too well. Maybe it’s because we don’t get enough full sun in our yard. Or maybe it’s because June is usually foggy in Santa Monica. Also, we are usually on Kauai during most of the harvesting time. I don’t plant Heirloom tomatoes like a lot of people lately. I’m all for more traditional tomatoes like Beef Master, Early Girl or just plain Cherry Tomatoes. Do you think Earl Weaver would plant tomatoes with names like Brandywine, Cherokee Purple or Green Zebras? I don’t friggin’ think so.
When you leave your garden for 6 weeks some things die and some things flourish. The sprinklers are on a timer but still, I’m out there everyday weeding, pruning andÂ hand watering those hard to get areas. There’s a great book by Elsa Beskow called Christopher’s Harvest Time where a boy is miniaturized and taken around his garden where he meets all of his fruiting plants and vegetables.
Upon our return from vacation, as I was weeding and trimming I discovered what was left of our harvest. Stragglers and rogues growing untouched for weeks.
It’s curious how neglect often results in breakage. But in nature the opposite is often the case.
I love the word kudzu. It brings to mind images of nature gone wild. Vines climbing up tall buildings strangling anything in their path. J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Karl Edward Wagner and Sara Teasdale are some of my favorite writers who use this kind of imagery. There’s a true beauty in the chaos of nature.
Last summer, just a few days before we left for Kauai,we took it upon ourselves to mail out 500 packets of “Happy Summer” sunflowers seeds.
I don’t know how may of the 500 recipients actually planted their seeds,(I don’t even really know how many received them. While we were on vacation we got a phone call from a supervisor at the Los Angeles Post Office questioning the contents of the packages and wondering where we came up with the amount of postage we put on each package-we told her we asked 3 different clerks at the Santa Monica branch, including the supervisor of that branch. She told us our seed packets were destroying the sorting machines and the packages themselves were not in very good condition on the other end)but we planted a few of the ones that managed to get “returned to sender”. We planted them in the public parkway in front of our house,so we’ll no doubt be getting a weed abatement notice(our thrid of the year) from Richard Valeriano who works for the City Officein charge of controlling such atrocities. Hopefully some of the current sunflowers will go to seed and we’ll see another harvest in 2010.
We are rushing around, tying up loose ends, getting out of California to slowly make our yearly trek to Kauai. I say trek symbolically because anytime you take 5 kids anywhere it becomes eventful. This year is a bit different, we are renting our house out to total strangers so we need to leave our house in tip top shape. Speaking of symbols, part of the spruce up process is spreading some new gravel around my hand picked Pacific Ocean stepping stones. In a Japanese garden, gravel symbolizes water. I find that amazing. Debbie thinks it looks like kitty litter and the kids think the gravel is a projectile weapon. Well, gotta pack- Aloha!
Sometimes life is connected by a thread seemingly random and chaotic. But sometimes things fall into place with a strangeness which balances on perfection. Take yesterday, I went to McCabes Guitar Shop to buy a new string for my lyre. In the shop was a big hourglass.
After my purchase I noticed a Black Widow spider residing in a spigot two doors down. She was feasting on a cricket caught the night before in her web.