Archive for June, 2014


backyard 10-30 6-29-14The sun will rise this morning at 3:09, and set 21 hours 39 minutes later at 12:38 tomorrow morning. It’s gotten a good deal warmer and drier this weekend; it hit 80 yesterday. There is a chance of showers or thundershowers today, but compared with the past week it’s really nice out, if a little warm.

At least the rain is easing off. Our unofficial total for June so far is 3.55 inches, which would tie the record for the month. One good shower today, which is a distinct possibility, would give us a new record for June. As of midmorning, the forecasts are calling for thunderstorms this afternoon and rain likely after midnight.

The garden is growing well. The delphiniums range from shoulder high to tip-my-head-back-and-look-up, though they are only starting to bud. The white iris are blooming, and the daylilies will be open in a few days. The photo, by the way, was taken in available light at 10:30 yesterday evening.

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Sunday again, and that means time for Weekend Writing Warriors (click the logo above for links to other participants) and Snippet Sunday (click the logo below.)

I am still posting from the opening scene of Rescue Operation, a novel almost ready for publication. We are in Zhaim’s POV.

If Roi could be induced to handle the problem in person, leaving Zhaim as the holder of the second highest Çeren index in charge ….

We don’t have anyone out there who can anchor a teleport, and there was considerable reluctance in Roi’s mind-touch. I’d have to take a courier out.

We don’t have anyone else who has a prayer of unraveling it, came Tethya’s reply.

Oh, give Zhaim a chance to show what he can do. Amusement spilled into Kaia’s mind-touch.

Didn’t say I wouldn’t do it. But I’ll want to take Mark as backup, and there’s going to be a lot of travel time involved.

(Italics within the snippet represent mental communication.)

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Shade lovers: Non-stop begonia, lobelia, and impatiens

Shade lovers: Non-stop begonia, lobelia, and impatiens

As you’ve probably noticed by now, my raised beds are built of cement blocks with the holes oriented up and down and filled with topsoil. Very few plants actually survive our 50 below winters, so I buy annuals each summer, mostly in 6-packs, and plant them in the holes of the cement blocks.

Annuals bordering the lavenders and other herbs

Annuals bordering the lavenders and other herbs

Some are truly annuals, growing from seed, flowering, seeding and dying in a single season, regardless of climate. Some are in truth biennials or perennials in more clement climates, but are grown as annuals in Alaska.

Lantana. This is actually a perennial shrub, but I treat it as an annual.

Lantana. This is actually a perennial shrub, but I treat it as an annual.

In general the flowers I choose will keep blooming throughout the summer if they are deadheaded—the flowers cut off after they bloom but before they can form seeds. This keeps the plant thinking it has to keep on blooming to produce seed. (I must admit that this is something I frequently forget to do.)

Calibrachoa, Pansy and Petunia edging the squash bed.

Calibrachoa, Pansy and Petunia edging the squash bed.

A few plants are sterile hybrids, and these never need to be deadheaded—they just exist in a constant state of frustration.

Pansies. I love the colors these are available in today.

Pansies. I love the colors these are available in today, and the way the colors change as the flowers age..

Pansies are very popular in Alaska, and they will self-seed.

Portulaca (moss rose.) They like more sun than we've had this year, but they do like our long days.

Portulaca (moss rose.) They like more sun than we’ve had this year, but they do like our long days.

A sunshine favorite is portulaca, or moss rose. The last week or two have not been kind to these.

I should have looked at Patches when I felt how heavy she was on my feet.

She is only marginally self-aware, but she is most definitely capable of learning. And she has learned that if she looks at someone eating or preparing food, while drooling slightly and pretending to be starved, she will often be fed.

Especially by the children.

Especially if there is a surplus of food, as there was this year thanks to the ice.

I managed to get across to Rainbow–I think– that too much food would make her sick, but the rest of the People—well, I am not sure who has been feeding her (probably everyone) but she looks like a stuffed hide for target practice.

I caught on when I tried to teleport her to one of our favorite walks, near the waterfall. I had to balance her mass for the teleport, and there was close to twice as much as normal. I poked her sides, and found no ribs. Further, as a general rule I have trouble keeping up with her. Today she was panting and lagging before I was tired, and compared with the People I’m still a pretty sorry specimen.

“You,” I told her, “are going on a diet. And an exercise program.”

Which means I will have to do a good deal more walking than usual myself. I wonder how the foot-bags would work, of if I could find a cooler place to walk?

Lavenders

Lavenders are usually grown for the essential oil which for highest quality, as used in perfumery and cosmetics, is extracted from the buds and flowers. The leaf hairs also have some of these essential oils and may be used for sachets (often with flowers) or as a slightly sweet, floral flavor in cooking.

I’m afraid I grow them primarily for the shape, texture and color of the leaves, as in this climate I am lucky to see more than a few buds by first frost. As of late June ‘Goodwin’ is the only cultivar with a trace of buds.

I buy them in 3” pots and transplant them into a raised bed—they like it hot and dry, which does not exactly describe Interior Alaska in summer, even in Fairbanks. But they have a nice variety of appearances.

These are the contexts of the quotations which were tweeted from @sueannbowling between June 19 and June 25, 2014. All but the last are from The Warding of Witch World, by Andre Norton.

Warding cover“No one knows what one is until the last lesson is learned.” Liara to Keris, when he is considering himself relatively worthless.

“It seems that nothing these days is designed to bring us comfort.” Duratan at Lormt, after throwing the stones.

“Each age has its proper lives—and then those fade.” Elysha, facing a very old trap.

“No one can be given without his will.” This seems to be a truism of Norton’s work—the Dark can only take those who accept it. In this case, the speaker is Aylinn, speaking to young Hardin of Hul.

“Power unleashed does not halt until all that threatens it is gone.” Inquit speaking to the Trade Master of the northernmost Sulcar port.

“There are many talents, each having its own force.” Frost, speaking to Svan as the Watcher tries to read their future path.

“A self-trained esper was always cause for concern.” Sue Ann Bowling, Homecoming. Derik said this to Kaia, but he has just had a demonstration of how true it really is.

Mint, rosemary, basil and thyme are not the only culinary herbs I grow. There are others I use quite as much, if not more. They share the raised bed with the thyme, rosemary, and lavender. (The lavender will have to wait until Thursday, by when I hope that at least a few of the varieties are blooming.)

Fernleaf Dill

Fernleaf Dill

First of these is dill. I don’t do much canning or pickling (as in none) but the leaves are a wonderful addition to egg dishes, salads, and fish. On the rare occasions when I make borscht, I garnish with sour cream and sprinkle dill leaves on top. Since it is the leaves I’m after, I usually grow Fernleaf.

Curled-leaf Parsley

Curled-leaf Parsley

Parsley is another herb I enjoy fresh. It often gets mixed with cottage cheese and salads. Most years I have both curly-leaved and flat-leaved, but this year I’m just growing the curly-leaved.

Chives 7-20-14

Chives are one of the very few herbs to be perennial up here, and they also seed freely. Their lavender flowers are decorative in the perennial bed, and I have several clumps in the raised beds as well. I should probably get rid of some of them, but they are too good in cottage cheese and salads.

Tricolor Sage

Tricolor Sage

I grow tricolor sage as a culinary herb, but I don’t use much of it. Like thyme, it is often used with poultry. In addition, I like to keep a plant of pineapple sage around just for sniffing.

'Westacre Gold' Oregano

‘Westacre Gold’ Oregano

Oregano, for me, is the flavor and aroma of pizza. Not the modern fast-food pizza, but the pizza I remember growing up in New England. Once the zucchini starts bearing, I’ll slice it and cook it gently in olive oil with oregano and basil, then sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Chervil

Chervil

Finally, I try to get at least one plant of chervil. Sometimes I don’t have to, as it self-seeds vigorously. These lacey leaves are wonderful in scrambled eggs and another addition to salads.

d. rose 6:22:14The sun will rise this morning at 2:59 and set 21 hours and 48 minutes later at 12:47 tomorrow morning. This near the solstice, the day length changes by less than a minute a day, and it is bright twilight all night.

Until the middle of last week we still had red flag warnings and high fire danger, but starting Wednesday we went into a rainy pattern. In fact, we are running at about twice normal rainfall for the month, and we’ve gone from fire weather advisories to local flood advisories virtually overnight. Highs for the next week are expected to be around 70, but with lots of scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoons.

Zucchini 6:22:14All this rain has been great for the garden. The first domesticated rose has opened. I’m not sure what variety, but it transplants easily, suckers freely, and makes a nice hedge on the east side of the lawn. It is not a rugosa, which I bought it as, but looks more like a spinosissima. Lot of little tiny spines, and a pretty but small double shell-pink flower.

The green zucchini have female flowers, and are actually showing tiny squash. The yellows are a good deal behind them, but they are showing buds. (The black stuff is IRT plastic, which lets solar infrared through to warm the soil, but blocks visible light to stop weeds.) Unfortunately the weeds are enjoying the rain also; I’m going to have to spend a morning trying to get back ahead of them.

 

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Time again for Weekend Writing Warriors (click the logo above for links to other participants) and Snippet Sunday (click the logo below.)

I am still posting from the opening scene of Rescue Operation, the first book of a trilogy of Roi as an adult—but this first scene is from Zhaim’s POV.

It gave him a raging headache, but revenge was worth it. Maybe he could try it on Roi, the only Inner Council member who seemed to remember that Zhaim had once tried to kill him.

He’d have to make sure that Roi, Derik and Kaia were not present when the news reached the Inner Council, he thought as he prepared for today’s meeting. None of the others, thank goodness, were as strongly inclined to treat Humans as people as Roi was. Zhaim shook his head, remembering what a time he’d had convincing Roi that he was neglecting the Confederation by adopting Human slaves as children.

One of the twenty-four interface lounges in the Council Chamber remained empty after Zhaim took his place. No surprise; Wif had left yesterday to deal with a medical emergency. That left only Roi, regent and head of the Inner Council, with medical training, and the problem that had brought them here was a planet firmly convinced that the plague devastating its population was due to biological warfare waged by three rival planets.

Which makes Roi the logical person to deal with the problem.

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The Summer Solstice is today. More precisely, it is 2 hours and 51 minutes after this post goes live at 12 AM Alaska Daylight Time.

I don’t live quite far enough North to see the midnight sun from the ground. I have seen it from a light plane, as increased altitude makes the sun look higher above the horizon. (More accurately, the horizon looks lower.) It is possible to drive about 100 miles, admittedly on a dirt road, and see the midnight sun from Eagle Summit, northeast of town.

Officially, it’s the first day of summer. It is the day that the north pole points most nearly directly at the sun, and in the northern hemisphere the days are longest and the sun is highest in the sky. The North Pole actually receives more incoming solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere over the 24 hours of that day than does any other point on Earth. Of course much of it is reflected back to space by sea ice, which is one of the reasons the Arctic sea ice is so important to the Earth’s climate.

It is emphatically not the day that the sun is closest to earth! In fact, the earth will be at its most distant from the sun in less than two weeks, on July 3. Perihelion, when the earth is closest to the sun, was last January—January 3, to be exact.

I don’t drive up to Eagle Summit myself—too crowded if the weather is good, and I’ve been up here so long the light sky at midnight seems normal. But here’s a video from two years ago.