Friday, November 27, 2009

Cooler now

First really cool nights - the citrus harvest is about half over. Two of the satsuma trees have been completely harvested. We have one more satsuma, the Louisiana Sweets orange, the calamondin and the kumquat left to go. The Meyer lemon is loaded this year - I like to wait till the fruits turn orange but I might have to get busy making marmalade soon. Many of the fruits are touching or almost touching the ground and need to be harvested.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Too Hot and Boring to Post

Our first cool front came through yesterday - the highs are in the 80's instead of the 90's. We have started picking fruit from the smallest satsuma tree. The fruit is small; each one is a bite or two. The tree has had some damage; we'll probably cut it down after we eat all the satsumas. That will still leave two satsuma trees, one Meyer lemon, a calamondin, kumquat, blood orange, and Louisiana Sweets orange.

We've had plenty of rain lately, and the doughnut peach trees in the front yard have had growth spurts. We still are probably a couple of years away from any fruit on those trees, though.

The yard is full of those Creole peas that we got from our neighbor. They've even colonized my potted schefflera on the patio.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pepper Jelly This Weekend

Well, the heat index is too high to mow the grass, so that means it's time to make pepper jelly.

We have Tabasco peppers that are small and hard to seed; they make a nice jelly. But - Ray is still in Canada, not here to seed them for me. He wears gloves when he does it, but the oil can go through the gloves.

We also have some Naga Jolokia peppers, which are supposed to be the hottest in the world. I am a little afraid of them. I need to find my HazMat gear (face mask, eye protection goggles, heavy-duty rubber gloves) before I can work with them. I made pepper jelly out of some a few years ago; the jelly was VERY hot and needed to be cut with some cayenne pepper jelly to cool enough to eat. Ray popped a tiny sliver of a fresh one in his mouth; turned pale and started to sweat. He was unable to talk for a few minutes.

The plants are drooping a little now, so I'll water them then see about making jelly a little later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Rain

No more mowing happened since Monday, but we got sprinkles of rain, plus the 2-4 inches that fell today.

The grass is luxuriant. I'm going to raise the wheels of the mower, see if I can't get the rest mowed this weekend.

I made some fresh pesto last night. I think pesto is the perfect flavor. I had bowtie pasta and pesto for both supper last night and lunch today. I don't know why everybody doesn't love it like I do. Oh well, more for me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Triumph Over Grass!

I got the front yard mowed today. Yay! I think Ray has put the wheels 'way too low - the mower is very hard to push. Now I have to do the side and back yards. They have more obstacles so it's slow to get it done.

I harvested some okra today- going to chop and freeze them. There are not really enough to cook yet but the plants are going to town with flowers and new okras since the rain.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It Keeps Growing, and Growing...

The grass was too wet to mow earlier this morning, then the heat index was too high for me later.

I'm hoping tomorrow morning will be the charm.

The yard was fairly static till the rain we've had this week. After the big one on Tuesday early morning, we've had a couple of light rains.

I'm also planning to make pepper jelly tomorrow. Stephanie will have her driving test, and maybe get her license if there's time.

I have harvested a couple of volunteer canteloupes from the garden. They are very ripe and juicy, but not very sweet. We will eat them anyway.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Rain!

Everybody in this area woke up about 3:30 am when some huge thunderstorms came through. It was loud until dawn. Our area got between 3.5 and 5 inches, and some parts of Acadia Parish got as much as 10 inches.

Lafayette was almost 6 inches below the normal rainfall for June, so this might serve to catch us up a little.

This is the first day in a long time that we don't have to irrigate the fruit trees and other crops.

Now the grass needs to dry so I can mow it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finally! Rain!

Lafayette got some rain today; not as much as we need, but it's better than nothing. First day in a long time that we haven't had to spend the evening watering the crops.

Looks like a few of the figs will be ready on the traditional day, July 4. We had a big fig drop during the dry spell, have lots of green ones on the tree. The tomatoes are blooming but not setting fruit because of the hot nights.

The hot peppers are going to town. I need to find my HazMat suit and make pepper jelly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Can't Believe How Hot It Is Already

We have a high pressure system that's foiling the usual pattern of afternoon rains. We had a massive drop of figs before we realized how dry the fig tree was getting. It's not even the summer solstice yet and we're having heat indices of 100 and higher.

We planted our tomatoes too late; they are growing just fine but tomatoes won't set fruit if the low temperatures are higher than 75 or so. This usually happens in July or August, not the middle of June.

Tippy will only go outside if he is forced to. Jasper is a true heat-loving cat; he likes the air conditioning but doesn't mind stretching out on the patio.

I might have a record-breaking electric bill this month due to the air conditioning running so much.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Better Late Than Never

We were very busy with schoolwork during normal planting season, so we are just getting some things started.

Here is the basil bed.

Here are the tomatoes and Kentucky Wonder beans. They've been in the ground about a week.

Here is the fig tree- looks like I will get several batches of figs to preserve this year. Had one big batch last year.

Voila, the volunteer heirloom field peas that we don't know the name of. We judge planting season by the sprouting of these peas.

Tippy (the dog) and Jasper (the cat) are not big on yard work except if it cools off during the evening. Jasper is a big fan of grass-pulling. The St. Augustine makes long runners, and he likes pouncing on the pile of them that gets pulled out of the flowerbeds.

Here are Ray's naga golokia peppers. A student gave him a few, and he saved the seeds. I made pepper jelly out of the ripe ones; they are hotter than habanero. Almost had to take Ray to the emergency room after he popped a sliver of a raw one into his mouth. Thought it was going to give him heart failure. He turned really pale.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Planting Time

Actually, pretty late in the season. Finally got a few tomato plants in with some Kentucky Wonder beans. The mirliton vine is taking over on the back 40, and the St. Augustine grass taking over the front 40, especially over the citrus fertilizer plant spikes. Hot weather and lots of rain have given us a primo crop of St. Augustine grass. The citrus has set lots of fruit this year, but needs some mineral supplement. The "patte de poule" peas volunteered to come up and are competing nicely with the grass all over the yard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hummingbird Heaven

Last Sunday, we visited some friends who live on the banks of the Atchafalaya River. They have a hummingbird population year-round, plus migratory ones.

The ruby-throated hummingbirds were swarming around the three feeders - there were at least 30 of them around.

The host positioned two of us within about a foot from one feeder, and removed the other feeders. In minutes, the hummingbirds were brushing our ears with their wings on the way to the feeder. We were surrounded by the hum of their wings and their chirps and cheeps as they competed for spots at the feeder.

It was awesome.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smells Good in Our Neighborhood

Well, we have upgraded to 80 degree days now. This means the honeysuckle on the hurricane fence next to the carport perfumes that side of the yard, while the jasmine that's on the opposite side of the house perfumes the back yard. It's right next to my bedroom window which I keep cracked open a few inches to let it perfume the house too.

My tree roses are blooming - the white Iceberg and the pink The Fairy. I pruned them very late so wasn't sure what would happen. I pruned them so strongly that it might take this year for them to regain their shape.

The grass is growing fast - especially in the back yard where we installed fertilizer tree spikes around the fruit trees. There are very tall green tufts where each spike is.

The fig tree is encroaching on one of the satsumas; for several years, it was just a twig but now... it's growing into a giant. I got a full batch of figs for preserving from it last year, we'll see how this year goes.

We have several volunteer squash plants setting fruit like crazy, and Ray spent last weekend working his beds for the okra, beans, and tomatoes.

I spent the whole weekend in front of the computer working on my GIS project.

The citrus that bloomed has set lots of fruit- if we don't have a spring hailstorm we should have a good harvest this year. The calamondin and kumquat have yet to bloom.

The blackberry bramble in the front azalea hedge has set fruit, and some might be getting ripe. Need to send Stephanie out there to see. She might get between 1/2 cup and a cup of ripe blackberries at a time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back Home Again

I spent the better part of last week in Baton Rouge at the Remote Sensing and GIS Workshop. It was a lot of fun. Reminded me partly of an anthropology conference, and partly of a computer geek conference. With some natural resources and assorted government people too. I stayed with Greg and Terri in Baton Rouge - they live in a house built in the 1930's of poured concrete. It was right across the lake from the conference - couldn't be more convenient. They went with me to the crawfish boil - Greg knows lots of the people from his work in coastal zone management so it was fun. Greg was Ray's roommate in graduate school at LSU.

Now I have to re-learn how to shop, cook, clean up, go to a job, etc.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The Easter bunny came early to our house - Mackenzie, Steph's 8 year old cousin was up at 7 am. There was lots of excitement, Easter presents, candy, sweet rolls, then everybody who was up at 7 am is back down for a morning nap.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Busy Weekends Ahead

We have a busy weekend ahead - get the house ready for Easter company, cook for and attend an annual pig roast/potluck in Livonia, cook for and attend our monthly discussion group meeting.

We are looking forward to seeing the family that always comes to our house for Easter. The husband is planning a big barbeque.

I'm planning to attend a regional GIS conference during most of the week after Easter. The pre-conference workshop looks like it will be a direct help in my class project for this semester.

Looks like the husband's Quebec summer school of three weeks is going to happen in July. Need to make plans to join him for a week if possible.

The daughter's high school bowling team won their local playoffs, will participate in bi-regional tournament next week in Bossier City. We'll see if they go to state. The state tournament will be in Baton Rouge, I think, much more convenient.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Mowing of 2009

Today I did some mowing. My sinuses were shot anyway so what the heck. We were winning the long grass contest on our street. Most people on this street have lawn services that mow and weed-whack year-round. Not us. My yard man is on his way home from Santa Fe tonight.

I also whacked some of the azaleas so the gas meter is now visible.

I got the troops to clean the live oak leaves and catkins off the driveway, wash down the carport. The troops will come home from the movie with more girls to sleepover, so the enlarged troop can drag my pruned azalea branches to the street for Monday pickup.

I didn't get the whole back yard done; just the part visible from the patio. It's not as long there anyway.

After mowing, I can just sit and smell the perfume from the citrus orchard. Each kind of tree is sweet, and just a little different.

And.. the honeybees are starting to show up after going missing for about two years. Still not as many as I saw in 2005 but it's good to see the ones that are here.

My amaryllis is blooming too. I have three flower shoots with two big flowers each.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Steak Night

I had a perfect spring evening yesterday. The weather cleared, the lemon tree is blooming and filled the yard with perfume. We had some very nice aged ribeye steaks so I sat on the patio with my bottle of Molson and grilled them. The neighborhood was quiet except for the bees in the lemon tree and the birds. The house was quiet because the daughter was napping and the husband wasn't home. The pets kept me company on the patio, supervising the grilling. The steaks were so tender I used a butter knife to cut mine. Mmmm.

Tippy asked for a walk around dark so we took our normal round, smelling the jasmine as we went around the block.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Does This Sign Mean?

I keep passing a telephone pole with this sign on it. I ponder the meaning. Though it seems random, it must mean something or they wouldn't put up a sign. Readers, please add any thoughts you may have. Is it a command directed to potheads? Is it simply a descriptive declaration? Why do we need this caution? What happens if potheads don't feed the overhead line? It seems slightly ominous to me.

I have a hint - the city is currently installing fiber optic cable in a fiber-to-the-home initiative. And - I learned long ago that POTS means Plain Old Telephone Service in communications lingo.

Anyway, this sign has intrigued me for a few weeks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mardi Gras is Over

We're well into Lent now - springtime is here with the peaking of the azaleas, Bradford pear trees, and bridal wreath. Here's a final Mardi Gras picture of the husband on the Mamou Mardi Gras band wagon on Mardi Gras Day. He's the one with the silly yellow headgear and the guitar.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mardi Gras Weekend

There's something about the wild sound of the sirens and horn blasts from law enforcement that begin the parade. We are close enough to the parade route to hear them coming. It's exciting even if you don't go to the parade. I turn into a six-year-old kid when I hear the clink of the dubloons on the pavement. The daughter has had other things to do so I haven't gone to any parades this year.

I was working out in the yard yesterday afternoon when I heard the sirens, then the drums from the bands come closer for the Children's Parade. We had to get the live oak tree leaves piled up before the rain so we didn't go. The live oaks drop their leaves in spring, not fall. Just in time to grind up and re-charge our compost pile.

I was thinking about going to last night's parade, but a rain storm/cold front came through right at start time. I never found out if they canceled or just started late; I never heard the sirens. When I left home last night to pick up the girl gang at the ice rink, there was lots of trash in the streets but I don't know if it was all from the afternoon parade or from both parades.

The husband went to the L'Anse LeJeune Mardi Gras to play music in the band wagon. It was drawn by two young Clydesdale horses. In previous years, there were some seasoned Belgians drawing the wagon, who could pull it without jerking. This year, the young horses started pulling with a jerk every time. The husband had fun but it was a very long cold day. I don't have pictures of this year since I didn't go with him, but here's a shot of him playing the guitar from last year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Krewe Des Chiens Parade

Yesterday was the Krewe des Chiens parade to benefit the Humane Society and Animal Aid. The daughter and her girl gang were in it - one of the gang members has a little toy dog they entered in the parade. Lafayette's Mardi Gras parades start two weekends before Mardi Gras Day this year so there are lots of chances to see one. Plus, the barricades are in place early and blocking traffic.

Here is a picture of the daughter slinging me some beads. Most people were nice and didn't throw any at me since I had my camera in front of my face.

I'm working on sizing some more parade pics and putting them on Picasa. This might take me a while because my space is limited, and the original size of the pics is large.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Azaleas Blooming a Month Early

Yes, the warm winter we've had has pushed the azaleas into bloom a month early. But, they are mostly sneaking into bloom instead of bursting like they do most years. Some years, we get the flower show during Easter week, when Easter is early. Anyway, there are enough stragglers that we should still have some color in early March.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Crazy January Temperatures

No wonder the flowers can't decide whether to bloom or not. Look at this chart of temps for January.

Quick and Dirty GIS Project

I have been in the GIS lab most of the day today, trying to finish the maps for our review project. So here's mine with my base imagery, point, line, and polygon layers. I still have lots to learn about map layout and cartography. I have trouble making things show up and look nice at the same time.

We each got a random location - Bangor, Maine was one of the easy ones. Now I have to write a paper that incorporates my process and the other map images I created. It's due next Monday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Daffodils are up!

My early daffodils have started blooming - there are 4 or five of them. They are scattered in the bed and are not very photogenic but they are nice spots of yellow. My Ice Follies are not blooming yet.

The Japanese magnolias are blooming all over town. I haven't taken pictures of them because every tree I see has lost its nice symmetry - I think the hurricane winds of Gustav and Ike last fall broke their limbs. Their flowers are beautiful but the trees are lopsided.

The short spells of cold followed by warm have fooled many azaleas - they are starting to creep into bloom. Most years, they burst into bloom at one time for a couple of weeks, usually in March. For those of you up north, the large evergreen shrubs are covered by so many blooms that you can't see the green of the leaves. Lafayette looks like a Monet painting when they are all in bloom. They come in white, pink, lavender, fuchsia, coral, and red. I'm seeing some color in almost all the azaleas in my neighborhood.

Here's a closeup of my azaleas from 2008.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Canadian Backyard

Just received these photos from our friends near Dunham, Quebec. It's 17 degrees fahrenheit, with snow.

Citrus Processing Report

Meyer Lemon/Kumquat Marmalade

I spent all yesterday evening cutting and seeding the small bucket of kumquats. (Also cooked the above pictured batch of marmalade while slicing.) I am making a kumquat-only marmalade, a meyer lemon-kumquat marmalade, and I still have about 2 quarts of cut up kumquats left over. Not to mention the big bowl of them out on the patio. The cut up ones might end up as frozen puree, and the uncut ones outside might end up immersed in rum to make a liqueur. This is not all the kumquats either; there are still some ripening on the tree. I have to be grateful for them because they are the only thing we are rich in. I need to research the prospect of putting my preserve-making on a commercial basis and sell the stuff in the gourmet shops around town.

These are the pickled kumquats from last weekend. They are really spiced kumquats, preserved in a sugar/vinegar syrup with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, other mulling spices.

The weather changed yesterday; the wind was south till about 12:15 then it shifted to north and got cold. While out on errands, I overheard numerous gasps as short-sleeved and shorts-wearing people stepped outside the store into the 50 degree north wind. We never put away our summer clothes here. We have trouble taking cold weather forecasts seriously so we are always surprised.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January's Great for Yard Work

Isn't this a great spider? I walked into its web last weekend, was VERY glad it stayed there. Its back looks like the shell of a crab, with pointy things sticking out. It's small, only about the size of my thumbnail.

I put the car in the shop today, decided to stay home because the weekend weather's not promising and today's weather is perfect. I have loads of St. Augustine grass choking my flower beds. Got some of it out of the daffodil/daylily bed last weekend, finished today. Started on the Louisiana Iris bed, didn't get too far before I got worn out. My first daffodil bud is about to open. The daffodils look a little thin; I might have delayed my grass-pulling mission too long.

It's about 70 degrees, soft south wind, partly cloudy. Tippy and Jasper supervise me as I pull grass, then go in with me when it's time to rest.

Here's my second kumquat harvest - tomorrow is going to be a citrus-cutting day. I already pickled about a dozen jars of kumquats last weekend, so the patio currently is short one of the shown bowls of kumquats. I plan to make about 3 batches of Meyer lemon marmalade, 18 half-pints. The husband wants more brandied kumquats; we'll see. The good thing about the brandied kumquats is that you don't have to cut and pick all the tiny seeds out like you do for almost any other kumquat preserve.

Here are the carport kitties Blue and Jake with Tip looking on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This and that

We have had our part of the cold wave that is sweeping the nation. It has been getting close to freezing at night. Threats of cold led us to harvest the last three lemons and the last three million ripe kumquats. So this weekend will be a fantasy of kumquat preserves, lemon marmalade, and maybe pickled kumquats. We may have a mini-harvest of kumquats later, if they don't freeze, because there are many green ones still on the tree.

Here is another picture of the daughter and her girl gang (she's second from right). The official pics from the Christmas Dance 2008 are here - girl gangs rule.

One picture is of the gang on their way to the Christmas dance (daughter third from left), the other is the gang atop the lighthouse at St. Simon's Island, Georgia (daughter on right).

The local university just started classes January 14, but my class is only on Mondays. The first Monday of the semester is Martin Luther King Day, when there are no classes held, so I have to wait an extra week for my first class. I'm taking the second half of Introduction to Geographic Information Systems. We're using ArcMap and other ESRI software. Almost more fun than people should have.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Spring in January

Here's my neighbor's flowering plum. They planted three at the same time but this one always blooms before the other two. This photo was taken January 8. The high temp that day was 74 so the weather was just as nice as it looks.

It's 76 right now, a little after 3 pm. However, in the next hour a cold front's coming through and we'll have to turn off the air conditioner, turn on the heat tonight.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fiber to the Home is Almost Here!

I may run out of exclamation points but I'm so excited about Lafayette's Fiber to the Home Project.

We have seen Fiber Guys running the trunk lines underground lately, and this week they're running the lines on the poles in our neighborhood.

The individual prices for phone, internet, and TV haven't been announced, but the package prices on the web site are less than we're paying now.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH) means that the fiber optic line will run all the way to the outside of the home or business when it will change to coax for TV, maybe Internet. Other locations that have fiber usually have fiber only to the poles, and connect the poles to the homes with copper. Fiber to the Home means the high bandwidth possible with fiber optic cable, which also will have great benefits for business and education.

The project has had lots of bumps, with the local cable TV franchise mobilizing opposition. This project will be run by the city utility company, headed by visionary Terry Huval.

I can't wait to change over. They have even made provision for keeping the phones working during power outages, with a battery backup installed on the house. We only have power outages during hurricanes usually, and have made a policy lately of evacuating during direct hit hurricanes with a policy corollary of not returning till the power is back on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Spring in January

Can you believe this weather? I saw the first Japanese magnolia blossom today. If we don't get cold weather, the whole tree will be in full bloom in a few days.

There's also an ornamental plum tree in full bloom around the block.

Hope to get out with the camera soon to prove it. I need to go out, see what the backyard daffodils are doing. Last time I checked, they were getting choked out by St. Augustine grass. Maybe it's not too late to save them.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

We had a nice time on New Year's Day. It was a contrast from last year, when our friends from Canada were here, and cooked all kinds of delicious Quebec specialties.

It was just the three of us cooking, and we found it MUCH more work than last year when Lucie and Renald cooked and Evelyne helped tidy things up. I know they were thinking of us - Lucie e-mailed New Year's Eve and Renald gave us a call New Year's Day.

We had a great time - it was great to have the friends here. Salome attended for the first time - she is almost 11 months old. She is already walking, and has a love-hate relationship with Tippy. She felt driven to go outside to see him, but she would fuss when she saw him, then move closer to him. She doesn't have stranger anxiety for people but apparently she does for animals. Her mother says cats and hamsters freak her out too. She is lots of fun to play with and watch. Her parents stayed with us for a few days when they first moved here from France.

Some of our friends were sick and couldn't make it - we missed them very much.

Have to take the Christmas tree and decorations down this weekend - we have another warm, humid, and thunderstormy gulf coast weekend ahead of us.

The weather is going to keep me from taking some of the photos of camellias - they are in full bloom in the neighborhood. Soon as the weather dries up a little, I'll post some pictures.