Monthly Archives: February 2012

Southwestern Blues

above the kitchen sinkOpposite the kitchen sink
It’s time to introduce you all to the window treatments in my kitchen. They are upholstered frames covered in a fading, some would say authentic, Western print. They conceal the hardware to the blinds also pictured. They are also horrifying. Bad. Tacky. Unapologetic. I heard the camera whimper when I took the photos; I winced.
Truth be told, I don’t look at them that often, even though most of my time at home is spent either making a mess in the backyard or making a mess in the kitchen. I just don’t look up that high. When we first moved it, I swore every day that I would just take them down and leave the wall plain for the time being because I hated them so much. I don’t even see them anymore, I’ve become so accustomed to them. I slipped into denial though, like no one else saw them either and they weren’t actually there. Time to come clean to you and to myself though: they’re there all right.
The reader may not agree that there is something wrong with these treatments. They are decently constructed and sturdy. The problem I have is that I grew up here in our beautiful desert surrounded by all the things that appeal to the Southwestern taste. Handmade wooden ladders leaned against adobe walls as decor. Dried chilis in a heart-shaped wreath at Christmastime. Woven blankets in bright colors with geometric patterns. Cow skulls. Anything DeGrazia ever painted. It;s all in my soul and I am happy with that. Don’t need it on display in this house though like the last owner did. That was his house.
I’m ready to give the kitchen a different voice. There’s enough dust and dirt in there for a guest to know that we’re still in the desert. I just want a set of curtains for the window above the kitchen sink that I’ve always wanted and now have. And I really need to dust the windowsill.

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Lemon Blossom

I was thinking this afternoon that I haven’t made the effort to post a photo of the flowers on my lemon tree that I profess to be so ecstatic about. There are several now and a few of them have begun to fall off, leaving a tiny bulb on the tree that I’m hoping the kids and dogs leave alone. So far so good.
As for the grapefruit tree, it’s covered in tiny round buds that are becoming elongated and just about bursting. The backyard’s going to smell great in about a week.


Amateur Tree Care at its Finest

This is what I do when I get home lately: put my keys away, let the dogs out, and go outside with them. Then I give the dogs water and roll my compost container around on the ground to mix everything up and see if it needs to be watered. Lately, I’ve been fascinated and partially consumed with the citrus trees in the backyard. From what I understand, they are both still fairly young and I don’t think either one has borne fruit just yet. I don’t know if I read this somewhere or someone told me about it but I have it in my head that they don’t produce fruit till they’re two years old. ? Also, the last owner mentioned that he thought the trees might have suffered some damage from a hard freeze we had last winter so he wasn’t sure if they would still bear fruit. He even left me a printout of an article from the Daily Star he found online about how to tell a citrus tree has frost damage and how to care for them. I found this printout on the refrigerator along with his forwarding address, the address of his bank, doctor, and dentist, and instructions for any mail of his I might receive. But that’s neither here nor there.
I scrounged the yard for both of my blue gardening gloves that my dog loves to toss around and grabbed the small pair of pruners or trimmers for plants (bought on clearance from Target at the end of the season last year, bonus*) and just started cutting off dead little tiny branches. And damn are those things sharp sometimes! I forgot that they have thorns. They do! Trimming that tree down was like trimming down all the fur from my little dog. The more that comes off, the younger and more lively it looked. Like maybe it has a chance of survival. And I only pinched my fingers in the cutters about 17 times. Which is good for me, if you don’t know me by now. As I began to tackle the bigger super-dead branches, I noticed that some of them had growth toward the ground, so they were only half dead. I started crawling around the tree and trying to decide what growth I could afford to lose. I didn’t want to cut off any of the branches that had buds on them because I wanted to see at least a few flowers before the tree dies.
As I was chopping away, my neighbor came outside and we said hi and I told her about my little project of the day. She mentioned that she and her husband had some tape that they used to tie up their trees and train them a little bit. She went to her garage and brought it back out to me and wished me luck. I thought that was very nice of her. The lemon tree didn’t need to be tied up because its branches are long and stretch skyward:lemon tree
It does look a little wild and crazy here; now that I look at it I guess I could stand to lose the top longest branches and just kind of start with a bush, but that’s all part of the fun, right? There isn’t a specific trunk either with the lemon tree so I guess I’ll just see what it does in the next couple years and take it from there. When I came home from work this weekend, one of the buds opened up to a long white flower that smells very rich and summery. There are three or four flowers now and I will be looking forward to maybe having some lemons soon.
I then moved on to the grapefruit tree. I didn’t take any before photos, but what was happening with the grapefruit tree was that the small branches were getting heavy as they got solid, so they were just laying on the ground and not looking very spirited. I started poking around the tree a little bit and there was nothing I wanted to cut off. It has a small established trunk and there was no new growth on it so I pushed up some branches and chose what part of the trunk I wanted to attach them to. Got the green tree tape that the professionals use and set to work propping the branches up against their will and the will of gravity on my thigh. I wrapped the tape around the branch and pulled it taut and started wrapping it around the trunk. SNAP! Followed by EXPLETIVE! Tape snapped. Sigh, start over. Replay previous scene. Fine. So I went in the house and grabbed the kitchen string you’re supposed to use to tie up poultry and roasts with that I only use for random string needs as I have only ever roasted exactly one chicken and haven’t been able to bring myself to handle and roast another one. I also grabbed scissors. And a beer. Went back outside and tried again to tie these branches up so I would have a respectable tree. And sure enough, that kitchen twine held for me. I kept crawling around that tree and fighting with it a little and fighting with the dogs because they kept getting in my way and trying to lay under the tree as I was working so I kept stepping on them. After I was finished tying the branches up and away from the ground, it looked like Spiderman was caught in there somewhere with all the white string I used: grapefruit tree, tied
Now what’s left is to unearth that ungodly tarp so that when I give the trees a good soak they actually get watered instead of creating a moat that the dogs drink and dig in. And now the dogs have a nice spot to lay down under the tree in the shade for the upcoming summer.its a tree!
There are no flowers on this tree yet but there are beginnings of buds. I love to check on them. Next week will be time to solve the mysteries and unknowns of chicken wire. I want to bury some under ground to prevent the dogs from digging at the trees. I also want to build an enclosure for the garden this year to keep my horse-dog from running through all the fragile seedlings at 200 miles per hour as he so loves to do on a daily basis. Until next week.