Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Abundance in our yard

I am sure that I will soon look back at the drought conditions with fondness, but right now? I'm ready for some rain.




Gorgeous,beautiful,wonderful weather.



Rain, it's a comin'.


All it takes is just a brief spell of moisture to get the plants fired up. Orchids are everywhere.




There are so many different varieties of Orchid (and other plants) that are blooming, the air everywhere is sweet, saturated with scent. Even the parking lot at the grocery store smells nice, this despite the constant flux of cars coming and going. Even the COMPOST PILE smells good.....amazing!



Our single orange.



Hopefully the first of many.




Wild thimbleberries are to be found in any direction that you care to look.



Ellie picks a handful every morning for breakfast, but there are still more than we can eat. I need to make a solar drier.



The invasive guava trees are in continuous production.



The fruit is tasty enough, but I think that it would make the basis for a great fermented beverage. Hmmmmm......




Rain brings our unhappy little cacao trees into leaf.



Why so unhappy you ask? Well, after doing some reading and observing trees in other plantations, it seems clear that these guys would be much happier with some over-story trees to provide a bit of shade. It's pretty hot and exposed where they are.



That's not all,though. There is a secret menace at work here......



The lace-work remains of the leaves is a characteristic telltale, indicative of these little guys....



The Japanese rose beetle (Adoretus sinicus). They love to come out at night and snack on our cacao tree's leaves. Evidently the first 30-60 minutes of darkness coincide with their peak feeding /mating period, so we have been keeping a jar of soapy water handy and picking them off as we find them. What else are you gonna do at 7 pm and no electricity (much less TV)?




I had the good fortune to meet the vice-president/chairman of the Hawaiian chapter of the American bamboo society. She hooked me up with a big pile of Sacred Bali Bamboo (Schizostachyum brachycladum).



Beautiful, long, straight internodes, with a vibrant yellow color and delicate thin walls, this bamboo is wonderfully suited for making flutes.



Some of these segments are nearly 30" long. That would make one honking big shakuhachi!




Along with the rain, we've been getting some wind. This is taking its toll on the roof.



Time to track down the ladder. While I'm up there, I'll set some new gutters,too.



The wind is also taking its toll on some of the trees here.



In one day, there were 3 different trees that fell across the driveway.





Good thing I'm packing a saw.






  1. Sweet! Except for that saw, that is. I'm starting to take that as a personal offence :P

    When we were in Ecuador my friend had Balsa wood around the cacao plants. Does it grow there? It takes like 2 years to get 4 meters long or more and has big leaves so it gives a nice shade. And you can sell the wood in 5 years, or make a surf board.

    It's looking nicer and nicer, cheers my friend.

    1. Haha! I very nearly added an apology for the use of such a crappy saw, specifically with you in mind,haha! I know.....I know.....


      The growing guides that I've read recommend interspersed plantings, using banana or a number of different quickly growing shrubs. I like the thought of bananas and cacao. Yum!

      I've also found an invasive weedy tree that is common here and produces a woody stem very similar to balsa. I've searched a bit but haven't ID'ed it yet. I ask around and people just say "That stuff? It's nothing.", but I am curious. A relative perhaps?

      I am excited for your impending move, but will miss our correspondence.....Cheers to you as well, my friend!

    2. Hey, I'm just moving to Chile, we have wifi there.

      Would be nice to see some of that Hawaiian balsa wood. Like the leaves and wood? In Ecuador you can cut it with a machete, is really really really easy to work with. Doesn't dry though.

      Jokes asides, has any advantage the crappy saw? I could imagine the large ryoba would be perfect to cut trees. Or are they too green for it? That would then explain why you see that different teeth pattern on the japanese pruning saws.

      cacao and banana indeed sound good. Can you add vanilla to the mix?

    3. The crappy saw cuts on the push, like a normal western saw, which is nice for force cutting and using two hands. Mostly it's nice to use because it is a relatively crude tool that I don't worry about hitting the ever present lava rocks with,haha.

      I had been using this saw for a while, and was wondering why it consistently pulled to the right during the cut. The other day I was checking out new ones in the store and noticed that some of the saws had the tiniest remnant of flash left over from the automatic filing process. The flash was only present on one side, so half of the teeth are effectively dull. This would cause the saw kerf to wander dramatically to one side. Talk about poor quality control.

      I pity the uninformed consumer. It's it any wonder that no one uses hand saws anymore?

      Anyways, I've got a few large-ish kataba that should be excellent as an upgrade over the crappy saw, I just need to sharpen them......saw that one coming didn't you? These kataba use a universal tooth pattern nearly identical to the teeth on the crap saw, difference being that they cut on the pull (as is only civilized).

      If I get really ambitious, I want to file them in the ChoMasaru window style pattern. Something that uses a raker tooth.

  2. I read this to Virginia as she was making breakfast. She commented: "He's having a blast." I agree. Sounds amazing. How about releasing lizards on the trees at sunset? Would they eat the beatles? Ellie's good a catching lizards. Has she caught any exotic ones lately?

    1. Brandon! How are Ellie's honorary grandparents doing, living through your uncommonly balmy Oregon winter?

      While Ellie hasn't caught any particularly exotic lizards here, she has taken it upon herself to introduce as many geckos to the area as she can. When we first arrived, Ellie was ecstatic to learn that there were a great number of anole lizards already present, but there was a strange lack of geckos. Go figure!

      Well, the balance seems to have shifted (And before anyone goes off half-cocked, accusing us of introducing some exotic new specie into the local mix, the geckos were already here. Just not *here *.)

      Hoping that all is well with you. Your big move is swiftly approaching!


Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason