Big cheer, medium cheer, little cheer.

We have been celebrating some around here, some things quietly, some not.

To begin with the least quiet celebration imaginable, Baki had his first proper birthday party yesterday (although he turns 8 on the 28th). Until last year, I was able to convince him that birthdays were something celebrated with your family. Then he started primary school and the invitations started coming and the cat was out of the bag.

Baki wanted to have his party at McDonalds, which I can completely understand since at his age my greatest hope was to have a birthday party at Burger King (and just for the record, mom, I am soooo glad we never did. Our parties were the best!) but empathy aside, that was an idea too depressing to entertain, so I decided that the only place I could face having a party was at Sundance Camp.

We filled the big geodesic dome with balloons for everyone to jump around in, which Baki and Kaya carefully monitored for quality before the guests arrived:

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And I started some flower seeds (calendula and annual dahlia) for the kids to plant in pots and take home. The seedlings were doing really well and I felt quite pleased with myself… until the whole box of them fell off the top of the car as I was trying to get Kaya into his car seat to go down to Sundance. We lost a few, but there were enough survivors to go around.Image

We hunted for Easter eggs, played nature bingo, but mostly the kids did what kids do best, particularly outdoors — they just ran around like mad and found fun for themselves. It was a gas, but I am very, very glad to be done with it. Thank goodness these things only roll around once a year (and Kaya is still young and impressionable enough to just blow out a candle or two with mom and dad and be done with it).

I also celebrated, quietly, the new batch of small fry on its way.

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It’s not very romantic, and I tend to think nature handles these things best, but we are incubating some eggs to increase our laying flock. I was highly skeptical of the whole idea, and I still worry about rearing chicks, but I have to admit that I am also kind of excited about becoming a mama hen. Today was the 8th day of incubation, so I candled the eggs (actually, I iPhoned them — I used the flashlight on my phone) to see how things were going. I was nervous! Happily, 15 out of 18 eggs appear to be developing normally. At this stage, I was looking for a network of veins and a dark spot. My heart leapt as the dark spot I was looking at swam around in the egg! Yes, I know, living things will move, but it was a thrill. I held extra still to make sure I wasn’t the one making it move, but it really wasn’t me, and subsequent eggs did the same thing. Amazing. The three that were not developing just looked empty in comparison, and when I cracked them open to check (I held my breath, I will admit), they just looked like eggs. They were the smallest eggs of the lot, so maybe the hens were too young.

The eggs came from Sundance; here is a look at the new gene pool:

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Aren’t they a handsome lot? They are an exceptionally peaceful chicken community, and they have the run of the Sundance garden in the afternoons. Not that their coop is such a bad place — in fact, Kaya is ready to move in. I think he likes the little doors, just his size.

And the quietest celebration of all, just in my head, a little cheer — two years on WordPress. I moved here after my former blog host was blocked in Turkey. I can’t remember why it happened, but the result was that I could edit my blog but not see it. That was weird, so I came here and I am glad I did.

Here’s to celebrations, big and small!

Shades of green

There was an Irish pub called Shades of Green walking (or stumbling, as it happened) distance from one of my first apartments in NYC (I moved a lot). But I will spare you any details of what Guinness and whiskey-sour induced behavior went down on its shadowy premises. I actually shudder when I think back on it all.Image

With that consigned to its proper place in the distant past, here is a look at some of the actual shades of green in the garden today. Everything is enjoying the rain so much; even the cacti are fat with water.

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My mom calls these euphorbia “Shrek ears”. They grow wild everywhere, and there is even a caterpillar to go with them — I’ve noticed a black caterpillar with white spots that only seems to go for those guys. Anyway, there is a glimpse of the “Brown House” and the outdoor kitchen off to the right behind Shrek’s ears.

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There’s only the faintest sign of spring in the asparagus patches, but the artichokes look ready for action.
While I was in the garden today, I realized something. Remember those cauliflower plants that I was complaining about? The ones that were all leaf? Well, we’ve had a bit of warmer weather lately, which sent the brassicas into a panic, and many of them have bolted. I was staring at the “cauliflowers” today when I noticed that one of them was bolting, and it didn’t look like a cauliflower at all, it looked like kale. Then it hit me — I had planted Jersey kale and sea kale in that bed! They are new varieties to me, and to be honest I had completely forgotten about them — I must have planted them out in October. The lower leaves are leather-like, but they will come in handy because Ali is out of town this week, so we won’t be able to let the chickens out in the afternoons the way we usually do. I’ll be going back and forth between the city and the garden to keep everyone fed and watered, and to do some transplanting so I will feed the thick kale leaves to the chickens during the week to keep them from feeling too glum. The tender leaves I picked and made a nice Colcannon for dinner tonight, to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

In case you have some greens going spare, here’s how I made it:

Cut up some potatoes (I peel mine when they’re not out of the garden) and put them in a pot with water to cover. Then cut up the white parts of a hefty bunch of spring onions and throw those in on top. Cut up your greens (Savoy cabbage is especially nice) and throw those on top of everything then set the pot on the stove to boil and let it cook, covered, until the spuds are ready to mash. Drain the veg, then put it back in the pot. Add milk and butter, salt and pepper and mash it all together. Yum.

I hope you are having a great, green day!

Warm wishes

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I’ve been reading lots of shivery cold blog posts lately. There are snow drifts in them! We don’t ever see snow in our garden (although there is snow just 100 meters higher than us in the dead of winter) and I sometimes wish we were somewhere with a “real winter.” But then the week in January when the pipes freeze rolls around and effectively cures me of the notion.

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We aren’t very high up – maybe 500 meters above sea level. But between our elevation and the proximity it brings to the snowy mountains above, the weather in the garden is quite different from that at sea level.

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I noticed at Sundance, for example, that their peach tree was in full bloom yesterday, whereas ours is still fast asleep. (Not so the plum pictured above, or the almonds.)

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Which is to say that even if you are digging your car out from under the snow right now, Spring is on its way and nothing can stop it. Think warm thoughts, guys, and know that I’m sending them.