Tag Archives: fruit trees

Life in the modern era

Things have been slow around here, but I don’t want you guys to forget about me. I wasn’t designed to work from home, but I’m doing it anyway.

There have been a lot of connectivity issues and delays, but I’m getting things done somehow. I was supposed to be in Savanna this week, but that got canceled. The conference went virtual, so I’ve been attending Zoom meetings like everyone else. It works, but doesn’t encourage a lot of interaction. Today is my flex day, but there was one meeting I wanted to sit in on late morning. This seems to be how it’s done right now.

I always get up early, so I had some writing time before I had to log in. I’ve been on a roll with Lanternfish, but I have samples out for critique. That made it easy enough to eliminate for today.

Nothing I do has a deadline, but I usually have a plan I want to stick with. I hope to get Lanternfish out this summer. You know I hate summer releases, but as book two of a trilogy, I don’t expect much from it until book three is released.

Then we have Lizzie and The Hat. Their current story is called The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. Again, no deadline, but I’d like to have it out for the Halloween season. These are short novels on purpose, and I already have 21K words. No pressure there.

That leaves the anthology story, featuring Jason Fogg. I managed a good 1500 words of it before I had to check in at the office. It’s a bit light for a flex day, but I feel good about it.

I’m writing this one without a storyboard, but at least I have a broad concept and some familiarity with the character. I even dreamed up a new way to take him out. I haven’t written it yet, but it seems there are a few ways to take Jason out. I froze him in his cloud form in an earlier story.

I was told to make this story 10K to 15K words and I’m off to a good start. I think they want it by mid-summer sometime, and if I chip away at it, I should make it.

After my Zoom meeting, I decided to thin Asian pears. This is easiest when they’re BB sized. I use a pair of scissors and go to town. I managed about 2/3 of the tree until my back said no more. I’ll probably prune it a bit, too. I don’t have to thin the branches I’m removing.

I don’t have a new picture, and hated to retire the cool frozen pond background, but it’s time. Winter is over. I’m recycling some bulldog brindle as a background for now. It makes a cool enough graphic.

As I type this, I’m in the process of acquiring some Hattori Hanzo steel in preparation of killing Bill. But first it’s time to get even with Lucy Liu. I think I’ll just bum out for the rest of the day

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Still trying to post a nice thing or two

In light of current events, I’m sharing what little bits I can. In this year’s race toward Spring, it was neck and neck between the Asian pear tree and the flat peach tree.

The peach tree took the checkered flag.

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Running water, no hospital required

We did a few events around here yesterday. I dreaded changing out the kitchen faucet, and have done it one other time. Our old one started leaking inside the fixture and simply gave out on us.

Saturday found me outside squeezing peaches. They were about perfect, and I earmarked part of Sunday to pick a bunch of them. Oddly enough, Frankie woke up in the middle of the night and had to make a security patrol. I chocked it up to doggie strangeness and we went back to bed.

In the morning, I discovered the problem. The tree broke. I’ve seen this happen to other peaches, but never had this problem. I guess the wheel just went around for me. We decided to leave it as is while we tackled the sink first. (12 hours. I only needed 12 more hours.)

The nightmare part of the sink project was getting the old faucet off. It has a nut that needed to come off and it was waaaay up there between the basins of the sink. I tried about ten different tools, and none of them fit. The best I could manage was a pair of pliers, but that required me to twist like it was a bottle cap. I couldn’t use any leverage, which is the advantage of a wrench.

It failed. I sent Old What’s Her Face to search the toolbox. I have a roll of old open end/box end wrenches. This isn’t what they are for, but one fit, and the handle left room between the basins to move it about an eighth of an inch.

It took me about ten resets to move the nut one revolution. Keep in mind, this is inside the cabinet, on my back (Which I feared for) and at the limits of what my short arms could reach. It took a long time, but I prevailed. Once it was loose, it easily spun off then hit me in the head.

The new one was a piece of cake. My wife put the fitting together while I grabbed coffee. She crawled inside and put the mounting nuts on, which were designed to be finger twist tight. Whoever designed this one deserves an award of some kind.

After coffee, I connected all the water lines and installed the gun. This unit has one of those pull out hoses for squirting off dishes or filling pots. What do you think? No hospital required.

We took a break, then tackled the peach tree. We managed about three baskets of fruit from the broken part before giving up. It was 90 something degrees outside. There are a lot more peaches on other parts, and I hope they don’t decide to break off too. I won’t get another chance at them until Friday.

We’ve always picked a basket here and there, but I feel like I’m pressing my luck. Probably based upon what already happened. The poor old tree is in for a major trim, the kind you give with a chainsaw, now. I really like this tree, but if this is the end of it, so be it. No matter what I do, it’s going to be ugly, but it could fill back out next year.

My back is surprisingly okay today. My neck and shoulders are kind of stiff, but that’s easily overcome.

Time for a peach, possibly in a daiquiri.

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Lucked into some writing time

One of the odd circumstances about being broke is it provides more writing time. We like to go out on the weekends, or even just go to the farmer’s market, but have cut most of that out lately. After I called my parents, we had our usual Sunday breakfast, played ball with the dogs, and time was on my side.

My pirates picked up a new crew member, avoided a serious monster, but encountered another one that should not be taken for granted. I debated sharing him here, but I’m going to go ahead, because I’m happy with how he turned out. I’ve never heard of anything like him before.

Writing pirates brings its own challenges, beyond having never sailed in my life. Some tropes are required to make it piraty. Others take on the theme of seen it all before. As an example, there are no giant squid, krakens, or magic swords in my story. I’m trying to be unique here where I can.

My little monster is a riff on the hermit crab. Only imagine something more like a giant conch shell. Inside this shell is a kind of sea dragon. I modeled him after a Chinese dragon, but gave him an eel-like tail. He has a scary breath weapon too. I won’t mention any more, but I thought he was pretty cool for something about three feet long. I may change him up a bit on the editing pass, but I really like him.

For those of you keeping score I’m at 90,600 words today. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 2600 words. That’s unheard of for a Sunday around here.

In other news we found this in our flower beds. Talk about monsters.

I didn’t put anything in the image for scale, but he’s about 2.5 inches long. He has the look of a borer. Last time one of these showed up, they killed my apricot tree. At least he was in the front yard away from my peach tree.

Keep away from my peach tree, dudes!

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The Rest of the Weekend

We watched the Olympic opening ceremonies Friday night. We both knew that Rio couldn't put on quite the show some of the recent venues have, but we're disappointed in what they did present. Their preaching about the environmental issues seems disingenuine when thinking about the worries of water quality in all the venues. Nobody may ever top the Bejing opening ceremonies, but I expected more. Maybe something involving Carnival and some dancers. Parts of it were cool, but it kind of fell flat with us.

We had date night last night. A simple dinner and a few dark beers at the Backstage Bistro. This is adjacent to the theater where we watched Suicide Squad last night. This movie is a ton of fun. It has a few unnecessary characters, but those in the forefront carried the show. Will Smith has the chops to shoulder the acting work, and he did.

I've grown tired of all the Harley Quinn costumes, pinups, and various other artwork. I got over it in a hurry last night. Harley is a great character, and her love for the Joker comes across as dangerous and genuine. Margot Robbie did a great job with her character. This has to be tough, because so many people have expectations for Harley. More so even than Batman and Superman.

Smith and Robbie worked together a year or two ago in Focus. It was a good movie too, but it wasn't a super hero movie.

Harley Quinn, yeah – I want one.

I managed a few words again today. I tried my hand at a specific micro-fiction that I've been thinking about, and don't like the result. Maybe by typing something out, it will occur to me how to fix it. I also added about 1500 words to a short story I'm writing. I have no idea how long this one will be, and it might approach novella length before I finish. I've said before, they need to be as long as they need to be. I'm not going to change that theory now.

I also worked up a couple of critiques for my meeting next week. These are good writers, so I find myself treating them more and more like a beta reading project. If I don't get back to work on The Yak Guy Project, the guys are going to be all caught up in a few months.

I find myself better suited to write micro-fiction and short stories when there are distractions. With the Olympics and other Summer activities going on, it may be October before I get back to Yak Guy.

I wound up cutting down my Seckle pear tree today. It got a dose of fire blight that I just can't get rid of. I've pruned and pruned, and it just keeps spreading. I left a couple of feet of stump and sacrificed the entire crop. If I got ahead of the spread, it may still make a nice bushy backyard fruit producer. If not, I'll completely remove it and won't replace it. I spent two years getting my hands on this variety, which is my favorite. If it's going to be a needy baby, I have better things to do.

Back to the paycheck job tomorrow. I hope all of you had a great weekend. Did you write anything? Did you see the movie? What did you think of opening ceremonies?

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A day of chores

Old What’s her Face* took Otto to Nevada this weekend. That left me to my own devices, and I have some chores to take care of.

I started out early to avoid the heat. I watered all the potted plants and baskets, then trimmed up my crab apple tree. Part of it decided to grow downward, as apples will, and the weight of the fruit had it covering the lawn. I sawed off three branches as thick as my arm and dragged them out front. I need to cut them up for the garbage man, but need a better temperature. Maybe tomorrow. This is green wood, plus fruit. I swear I’ve dragged mule deer bucks that weighed less than the biggest branch.

I sprayed Sevin on my fruit trees next. This is a mild insecticide, intended for vegetable gardens. Coddling Moth can ruin my fruit, and the Sevin usually takes care of them without resorting to crop dusters or anything. It was a bonus having Otto gone for a few days, because the lawn will water a couple of times before he returns, and he doesn’t climb trees (yet).

I was still driving on the factory tires that came with my Tundra. I checked the tread and knew it wasn’t looking too good. When I got it serviced a couple of weeks ago they confirmed it. Today I waited at Les Schwab while they installed four new ones. Tires are ungodly expensive these days, but I don’t want to drag the camper to the coast on four old baldies either.

While I was out, I picked up ink cartridges for the printer. These are expensive too, and we use a lot of ink around here. It’s gotten to the point where I can almost by a new printer for the cost of ink cartridges. I haven’t loaded them yet, because I’m waiting for one more critique submission. If he doesn’t deliver it this weekend, I may not be able to work on it before we meet.

I spent the hot hours indoors with my next Notebook. I did a bunch of word searches. It’s interesting how target words show up inside other words. There shows up in gathered, was shows up in wash, etc. I also finished a comprehension pass.

I have a few more passes, but will be asking for beta readers soon. Maybe even sometime this week. Cover art is coming, and I want to release this at the end of summer some time. I have a rough plan, but some of it depends on my book club.

Rest of the evening? Since baseball is a pay-per-view option these days, maybe I’ll crack open a beer and watch a movie.

*Not my wife’s actual name

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Wearing down today

I backed up and read the stuff I wrote yesterday on my novel. This is something I always do before writing. It's reasonable, and flows well enough. I managed to hack out maybe six pages total.

I know I've been at it for days, and I might be fading a bit. I feel good about using my time well, and I accomplished quite a bit, so no complaints. I wrote about +/- 28 pages in three days. I should have tracked word count, but I just didn't this time.

I took some time to thin Asian and European pears before it got too hot. God those Asian pears set a lot of fruit. None of it will grow if I don't remove about 80% of it.

I also removed some fire blight on the European tree. It's supposed to be a resistant variety, but fire blight is bad stuff, so I removed it anyway.

Mostly, I spent the day finishing the book I've been reading. This one took me a long time, and that's not the fault of the book. I only get limited quality time, and then have to allocate it to writing or reading.

I may drag my feet before picking up another book to read. I need to finish some writing projects, and I have others screaming at me from the back of my mind. Whatever I read next is likely to be a short story or novella on a camp out.

All told, it was a pretty good staycation. I have to pick my wife up at the Boise airport late tonight, and assume tomorrow will be filled with distractions.

It looks like most of you have lives. The Internet was pretty quiet today, and I hope you all got to do something fun.

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Another country skill set

My brother came to visit last weekend. We used the guise of harvesting my crab apples to get to see each other. Last year he bought an apple press, and made the sweetest apple juice ever. It was wonderful, but could have used something to balance the sweetness. This is where my crab apple tree comes in.

My brother is a man of few words, so we’re going to have to tell this story mostly with pictures.

Start with the pretty red fruit he took to Nevada. It’s ready today, but many apples won’t be available until later this Fall. He plans on freezing the juice and holding it for later.

It may not seem like much, but if you filled these same buckets with full sized apples, you wouldn’t have as much fruit. The smaller size of these lets each bucket hold more, and the giveaway is the weight. Bigger fruit has more air between the apples.

 

 

This is his apple juicer. He bought it last year and it looks to be a quality craftsman’s product. It has much more soul than some stainless steel, motor driven product. The fruit goes into a hopper at the top of the red piece.

 

Here is a better view of the hopper. Load her up, turn the wheel, and make apple juice. I’m sure you could use it to juice anything you wanted, but it might flavor the equipment. This one is just for apples. (I could probably make some good catfish bait with this. A few crawdads, some crickets, just saying.)

Juice comes out the bottom and drains into a bucket.

I am surprised that the juice is red. It’s actually pretty cool that it is. It will give a charming color to any juice he adds this fall. Just imagine the awesome jelly I could make with pure undiluted juice.

He told me the flavor is tart, but very complex. That is the whole point of using it. The juice from last year was like honey. I’d really like to try a bottle of hard cider after he gets his Fall apples juiced. This juice is destined for the freezer for now.

He reported the recovery is about 10%. That isn’t horrible, but I was hoping for about 20%. The residue will go on his compost pile.

I have hunch the compost won’t stay there very long. He said a herd of mule deer invaded his yard the minute he started his apple mill. The scent must have drawn them in. They’re kind of cagey, but he managed this poor photo of a young buck as proof.

I hope the formatting works out in this post. There are more pictures than text.

My family has always been into preserving lost skills. Regular readers know about my sourdough starter, pickling crock, and canning jars. My brother even has a fully functional blacksmith’s shop.

What skills are you preserving? Do you make bent willow furniture, mud ovens, pottery? I think it’s important to save these skills for future generations.

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Monsters and Saviors

I go to work in the dark almost year round. This time of year, there’s a little bit of dawn before I walk in the office, but the days are getting shorter now. It will soon be dark for the whole commute. The point is, I have no idea what goes on in my back yard while I’m away.

Today is my rotating day off. It was glorious to get a couple more hours of sleep. My awakening was not how I wanted to start the day. There were monsters in my back yard.

They make a shrill twittering noise at first. This is the sound of a solo invader. He’s soon joined by others and the sound grows. It’s never loud. Not so loud as to rouse the unaware from slumber. I am not unaware.

I bolted from my bed and shoved a cold cup of coffee in the microwave. While it heated, I downed my blood pressure medication. This encounter would surely test my blood pressure. I even recorded the sound on my iPhone with every intention of sharing with you. I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my blog to prove I’m not crazy.

The monsters fled at the sight of me. They’re only about two inches tall. They aren’t here for me, they only come to steal away my happiness. They did a lot of damage, but I managed to salvage a bit for myself.

It's flat peach season

The dirty buggers start their harvest early. I want a fully ripened peach. The winged monsters don’t wait that long. Peaches ripen a bit at a time. The monsters eat that one perfect bit and move on, leaving the unripened portion to rot. Where they move on to, is the next nearest peach. One tiny little beast will ruin five beautiful peaches to fill its microscopic belly.

My tree overproduced last year, despite my thinning like a madman. It was certain this year would be puny by comparison. It’s not enough to deal with a tiny granddaughter who discovered a baby pumpkin tree. That part I can laugh off. (And it was pretty funny.) These peach eating demons are just wasteful.

I grabbed some small baskets and filled my refrigerator with peaches. There are some green edges on a few of them, but they are mouth wateringly good. I need to scrub them down before eating even though I’m not a big pesticide user. You just never know what the monsters left behind.

Life’s funny sometimes. After salvaging some of my tree’s fruit for myself I heated up another cup of coffee and checked my email. I discovered I had apps to update.

Pinnic updated their cork board app to include index cards. They now offer everything I want in a storyboard app. I emailed them a month or so ago and mentioned this to them. They assured me that index cards would be in the next update. The heavens parted and the angels sang. I think I’m going to recreate my four outlines today in Pinnic. As I do it, I’ll be downing microwave coffee and eating the most perfect flat peaches ever.

Either that, or I’m going to go stand under my tree and eat peaches until the juice runs down my beard. All the while watching the monsters weep from my neighbor’s yard. I haven’t decided yet.

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Am I ever not busy?

I started off reading blogs and checking Amazon like a manic author. Sales slowed since the first big spike, but they're still happening, so yay.

About my third cup of coffee, I modified a couple of short stories, then wrote a Macabre Macaroni style micro-fiction. It needs some help, but it exists; therefore, it can be repaired.

I took my truck to the body shop. It's going to take a week to do the repairs, and they have to take the bed off. I need a new running board, and he's going to check my alignment. My insurance will provide me with wheels during that week.

I took a week off work, and it happens to be that week. My son and I are going fishing one day and he's going to have to drive. I plan on doing some marketing and writing that week too. I took a gander at my novel, and it needs words. There is nothing wrong with it, and I've figured out my issues. Now I need to write it.

When I got home, I pulled out my loppers and saw and attacked the peach tree. There are about 500 pounds of branches to run through my chipper. I'll let them dry for a week and try it. There are a few open flowers on it, and I'm not worried. Pruning this late may stunt the tree, but that's a bonus. It's a backyard tree and doesn't need to be fifteen feet tall.

I still have a crabapple to prune. Maybe I'll tackle it tomorrow. There's also a huge climbing rose, but it needs to green up a little so I can tell which parts need pruned.

My wife took her break at work and logged on to The Morrison Center to buy tickets. This venue holds 5000 people. Over the course of five days they will hold eight performances. The whole thing sold out in fourty-five minutes. Their system crashed because of all the traffic. She called the box office instead. We are two of the lucky people who have tickets to see The Book of Mormon in July. Other people stuck with the Internet, and didn't get tickets. We have to go on a Sunday afternoon, but we're going.

Now I have to figure out how to pay for all this. “Psst, hey buddy, wanna buy a book?” I could probably make money by re-selling my tickets, but my wife would kill me.

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