Fallen leaves turn some of the paths into yellow brick roads. Maybe it was a golden, fall path that inspired L. Frank Baum to write The Wizard of Oz.
The chickens aren’t impressed with the yellow brick paths. They are more interested in finding the grubs and worms hiding underneath the blanket of leaves coating the forest floor.
Today’s blue skies are not your typical November skies around here. Normal November skies are thick, woolly blankets of dark, wet clouds streaming overheard, accompanied by wind howling, rain pelting, trees snapping and falling with branches trying to grab your throat and take you with them.
November 23 will go out as a very calm, sunny month, with crisp, freezing mornings, and spring like afternoons.
This morning’s frost is gone, melted away by the sun. So much of nature’s beauty lasts but seconds or minutes, a few hours at best. Like those exquisite, elaborate mandalas Buddhist monks spend hours and days making only to brush them away as soon as they are done..
Simple minds get pleasure from simple things. On October 29 I looked up and saw this curved contrail up in the sky. And in the lower left of the picture you can see another curved contrail. You see something like that and you stop what you are doing to investigate. At least I do.
The contrails were those of NASA flights which took off from Everett and were making a figure eight flight path from Everett, WA, all the way to Central Washington and back. They flew this pattern for many hours before returning to Everett.
It does make me wonder what they were testing and why the figure eight flight patterns instead of simple loops.
October finished out with days of warm sunshine. I took this photo of Mount Baker on October 30. I grew up with forested hills and mountains around, and the ocean nearby. Which is why I can’t live on flatland. If I can’t see mountains around, my soul withers away. But with wondrous Mount Baker nearby, I can breathe and live.
Snow Geese and Swans are back. So it should be much colder than it is. After the frosts in October, unseasonably warm weather returned.
The chickens enjoy the warm weather, though they’ve pretty much stopped laying until early spring. I’m working on converting grass to wild meadow. Where I got some wild meadow seed said to rip out the grass. I’m letting the chickens do a first pass at that. They are skilled at converting beautiful grass into bare dirt. All you have to do is get the right ratio of chickens to grass footage, and in short time you will have bare dirt to plant your meadow seeds.
And look at the big Nashi 梨 (Asian pear) I picked today. 567 grams! 20 ounces. One and a quarter pounds. I think it is the biggest one I picked this year. There are still a few on the tree so there may be one even bigger.
When the baby fruits form, there are usually 3 to 5 in a cluster. I left only one per cluster, removing at least 75% of the baby fruits. And this is the result. If I left only 3 baby fruit to mature, would I get pumpkin size fruit? There must be limit to how large they can get.
The hard frosts we had in October seem to have made them sweeter. This one sure was sweet, juicy, and nice and crunchy. November isn’t bad when you can pick sweet fruit like this.
Yesterday when I saw the foothills white with the first snow of the season, I knew we were in for a chilly night. And before going to bed last night, I was pretty sure I’d wake up to a frosty morning when it was already down to 35ºF (2ºC).
This morning it was just under freezing. The first frost of the season dusted the roof of a dog house.
The frost dusted fallen maple leaves and edged blades of grass in white. And our little Buddha meditated on the wonder of this season’s first frost.
The St. John’s Wort is still blooming. I read that the plant gets that name because often blooms on the birthday of the biblical John the Baptist, June 24. Though, really, once it blooms, when is it not in bloom? How many people have birthday’s from June into November? Half the people in the world do. It should be called Half Everyone’s Wort.
Wort is an interesting word. It comes from the Old English wyrt, which refers to plants and herbs. Wyrt comes from the Proto-Germanic word wurtiz and even earlier to the Proto-Indo-European root *wṛ́tis, which means root or plant.
Fall is here and on a rainy day our dogs lie in the window and dream of summer gone. They are fair weather dogs. On rainy days when we open the door to let them out, they will run onto the landing of the steps and come running back in. If dogs could hibernate until spring arrives with its sunny days, these two would.
The dogs we had before, BB and Echo, were as comfortable lying out in the rain as in a warm, cozy house. Not Takuma and Ena. On a rainy day they’d rather dream of summer gone than go out and play in autumn rains.
The maple tree by the house is on fire. On sunny days its brilliant leaves burn bright red.
There are still a few things to bring in from the garden. These are about the last of the tomatoes. The basil is almost gone. The squash will be around for a while.
A hint for those with lawns and chickens, they love it if you don’t mow. The taller and thicker the grass, the more fun they have, scratching around in it, pecking through it, finding good things to eat.
And October is the season here for ripe Asian pears. This year’s crop are large, though not as sweet as last year’s. Maybe another week or two of ripening will make them sweeter.
And on to fall and winter we go. Summer was long and much warmer than usual. Not only here but around the world. The eery warmth continues into October. Just two days ago it was 60ºF (15ºC) in the morning. In a normal October day most days aren’t even that warm. After such a warm summer world wide, there is a sense of foreboding of what this winter will be.
The mornings feel more like fall than summer. Soon the nights will be longer than the days. Time to enjoy the last fruiting plants of summer.
Strawberries at the end of summer are this year’s surprise. Strawberries I planted last year over wintered and grew like weeds this year. Every year some unexpected plant brings joy.
I’ve noticed a spider web growing next to the gate. And this afternoon on my way out, I saw a spider waiting on the web. Possibly the spider weaving the web. But as I took pictures of it I noticed another spider inside the funnel.
So what is going on here? Two spiders sharing the same funnel web? A spider come a courting? Or a spider hunting another spider? I did not stick around to find out. Some mysteries are best unsolved.
Lately I’ve thought of starting an “Only Murders on the Farm” podcast. I have enough material to make it a weekly thing. I’ll stumble on a crime scene on a path, some carcass ripped apart to the point of non recognition. “What happened here?” I’ll wonder.
The only thing is, a podcast like that should be a murder mystery that needs solving. With a detailed step by step process of how I solved the mystery. And that is where the whole point of a “Only Murders on the Farm” podcast falls apart. Because there is no mystery as to who the perpetrators of these grizzly murders on the farm are.
The idea of the podcast popped up when visiting teenage girls discovered a dead bobcat in the dog kennel several weeks ago. That was a shocker.
The dogs have dispatched rodents, possums, raccoons, and countless rabbits. Watching these dogs bring down a fighting raccoon in the middle of the night is as traumatic as watching hyenas and lions fight to the death at night on the Serengeti. Not something for the faint of heart, trust me. And I’ve seen them eat a freshly killed rabbit at the same time. Taku starting from the head. Ena from the rear. I didn’t stick around to see what happened when their snouts met in the middle.
But I never expected them to bring down a bobcat! So I need to post signs on the fencing, signs that creatures roaming around at night can read. Signs that say, “Death awaits all who climb over this fence!”
It is hard to reconcile that these two lovely dogs who like to cuddle on our bed, lick our faces, and beg for food, have murder on their minds 24/7. I have a suspicion that they dream in their sleep of bringing down an elephant. That would make their life complete.
So any traveling circuses which happen to pass through Bow, make sure your elephants stay in their trucks until they are a safe distance away. Or teach the elephants to read and heed the warning signs I will eventually put on our fencing.
Amazing things happen all the time. Even around the house. Stunning Spaghetti Squash flowers are eye popping amazing. They explode like super nova for just a short time and soon turn into cute, Spaghetti Squash babies.
The shiso I planted in spring is now an amazing bush of deep green and magenta leaves that turn plain dishes into amazing, culinary delights.
And as far as aromatic leaves, what is more amazing than Basil? They have charming, white flowers too.
And this time of year, late in August, the blackberries are ripening. I’ve wondered why I don’t see flocks of birds devouring the blackberries, and wondered if anything else eats them? Yesterday we saw a deer come by and graze on these berries. So now I know what eats them.
And every summer when the Sweet Alyssum forms fragrant white clouds of blossoms, I tell myself, “Plant more Sweet Alyssum next year.”
And yesterday I met an amazing man, Iino Wataru. His first name, Wataru 航, means to cross the skies and seas. His last name, Iino 飯野, means field of cooked rice. He started running when he was working in Germany to lose the weight he was packing on. And he kept running further and further. He is now one of the top long distance runners in the world. He’s won many ultra marathons all over the world.
The motto on his website is: ご飯をカロリー気にせず美味しく食べるために走る, which translates to, “I run so I can eat delicious foods without worrying how many calories they have.”
In June I saw an article about him on “Good Morning, Japan,” a Japanese News show broadcast by NHK. They showed this long distance runner who was starting a seven year long, round the world run, running from the northern tip of Alaska at Prudhoe Bay, down to Panama. From there he plans on running to the tip of South America. Followed by a run across Eurasia. A run across Africa. And making a circular run around Australia.
He started running from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in June. And I’ve been following his progress on his site, tabirun.run/world, watching him run 45 to 55 miles every day as he ran through Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, and into Washington state.
Yesterday afternoon I saw he was running down Old 99 which is very close to our place. We drove out to see him and caught him as he ran through the little town of Alger. He’s a wonderful, friendly, easy to talk to man, and you’d never guess that since June he’s run all the way from Alaska, over 2,800 miles! It was amazing and inspiring to meet him.
After morning showers, the Shasta Daisies are covered with raindrops. We made it into August without choking on forest fire smoke. Today’s rains should keep forest fires last year’s memories … fingers crossed.
August clouds drift by,
Cool whispers embrace the dawn,
Silence speaks of change.
I had fun this morning doing something impossible last year. Something previous generations could not imagine. I played with ChatGPT and asked it to write a number of haikus.
August sun warms earth,
Oregano blossoms rise,
Spice dances in breeze.
Blooming out of time's embrace,
Season's lone surprise.
I love the catmint when it blooms. And it blooms and blooms and blooms, all summer long. When we had our cat, Rusty, he loved rubbing his face in their leaves. Catmint makes a delicate, refined tea, very soothing.
The Hubei Anemone are blooming. I can count on these sending up their tall flower spikes each August. Eriocapitella hupehensis. I read that these were cultivated as far back as the Tang dynasty (618-907). And they are in the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Unlike Buttercups which creep along the ground, Hubei Anemone reach for the summer sky.
And to close, a haiku about our dog sleeping in the picture window:
Dreams beneath glass pane,
Dog slumbers in soft sunbeams,
Outside world drifts by.
Last month our local coffee roaster retired. For years I enjoyed visiting her little roasting hut to watch the beans dance in her roasters, conversing with her, laughing together.
But with her retiring, it meant learning how to roast coffee beans myself. What I didn’t expect is that watching the beans dance in the glass roaster is a pleasing way to medidate, to let the thoughts that dance in my mind quiet and go away.
It doesn’t take long to roast green beans to a caramel brown hue, fourteen to fifteen minutes. And near the end you can hear them crack several times. Not loud, ear splitting cracks. Just gentle, soft, soothing cracks.
So once or twice a week I roast 9 ounces of coffee beans, 255 grams, to get 8 ounces of fresh roasted coffee beans for the hopper in our coffee grinder. Instead of conversing with Gilda, I converse with the dancing beans.
The tansies are in full bloom. A single tansy has spread over the years to many. The bees love them. So do I. Tall and colorful, tansies look wild and shaggy. Not quite graceful enough for a proper garden. Perhaps a bit too weedy looking. I’ll keep letting them spread. They suit me and the bees well.
I hadn’t considered hydrangeas as bee flowers, but why not? This bee’s pollen sacs are plump. When she flies home she’ll be greeted as a hero.
The sky is so summer like with wispy clouds. They look so frail and delicate, like they would tear if you could run your fingers through them. But the long, delicate streaks they make speak of fierce winds high aloft, winds strong enough to blow a house to bits. Better they blow up there than down here.
Much of the Northern Hemisphere is on fire, burning up in the hottest summer in recorded history. We’ve been spared the relentless heat. So far it’s been a pleasant summer, warm days, refreshingly chilling nights, a few rainy days here and there. And no smokey skies that make you hack and cough. So far. Every day the skies are blue and the air fresh is a day to be grateful.
A note to Comcast email users, last month Comcast banned my emails. Evidently someone with a Comcast email address marked an email from this site as spam and is blocking all email from here to Comcast email users. So if you have a Comcast email and wonder why you’re not hearing from me, this is why.
Leave something on the ground and nature will turn it into a work of art. While cleaning out the hoop house to plant tomatoes, I discovered delicate lace spheres. This is what happens if a tomatillo falls to the ground and lays on the ground all winter in a place out of the rain. The fruit dries up. Microbes eat them. The husk dries, microbes eat the soft bits, and all that remains is the delicate, lacy frame.
Aren’t they just lovely? I brought a few into the house to use as decoration. How many hours would it take me to weave such delicate mini orbs? How would I go about recreating them? I left most behind without thinking to save them.
But if I plant more tomatillos and at the end of fall let hundreds of little tomatillos fall to the ground, next spring I can gather many of them, string them together, and use them to decorate a Christmas Tree.
Quite the works of art, don’t you think?
While I cleaned out the hoop house, Taku enjoyed lying in a thick bed of mint. Nearby the Japanese iris are in full bloom. The Japanese name for this variety of iris is Ayame, pronounced Ah – ya – meh.
Happy Ending to Roomba Saga
I need to report that my saga with the bumbling, misbehaving iRobot Roomba i4 is over. Someone read my rant about the Roomba and recommended that I get a Roborock robot vacuum. “The Roborock is smart,” they said. So I ordered one, the midlevel Roborock Q7 Max.
It arrived Wednesday and I put it through its paces. Wow! Yes, this robot vacuum is smart. Equipped with lidar, the Roborock quickly mapped out our floor plan and created a 3d map of all the rooms. It knows how to get around without getting lost. It knows how to vacuum and mop in straight lines. Can go to any room of the house with ease, sliding gracefully between the door jambs to enter any room. You can program the vacuum strength and the amount of water to use for any room. And if you move it for any reason, it spins around, quickly figures out where it is, and proceeds on its merry way. The app for it shows where it is when it is out vacuuming and mopping. So you can see where it has cleaned and where it needs to clean.
You can look at the maps in 2d or 3d.
A big improvement over the Roomba i4 is that as it fills its dustbin, it compacts the dust so the dustbin can carry much more dust and debris than the Roomba i4 which I had to empty frequently as it cleaned. Never once has the Roborock stopped while vacuuming to make me empty the dustbin.
Roomba i4 Goes Merrily Home
More out of kindness than anything, I returned the Roomba i4. There was no need to keep it around and let it suffer the indignity of getting lost so often. No need to watch it whirl down a hallway and try to enter a room a foot too soon and bang into the wall. I felt sorry for it. It tried so hard. Often with confidence it approached a doorway, only to veer into the wall a foot too soon. And devastation clouded its face when it hit the wall instead of gliding through the doorway.
I suggest that you hire a robot therapist if you get a Roomba. It can talk to it after a cleaning job, ask it, “How did it go? … How did that make you feel when you missed the door? … It’s not you, it’s the coders who programmed you … You know, there’s always tomorrow,” and other things to soothe its hurt feelings.
Maybe if I was sadistic, I’d have kept it around and sent it out every so often just to torment it. But that’s not me. It looked relieved when I cleaned it all up, put it back in its box, and sent it on home. Perhaps it was just a delusion, but I thought it said with joy, “I’m going home? Yeah!”
I’m sure it’s very happy it made it back to iRobot in one piece. Other owners may have sent it back in pieces or riddled with bullet holes.
Maybe the next owner of the Roomba i4 will have a simple, one room, square apartment with no furniture that it can clean without much effort. I can only hope it finds a simple home where it can experience success.
And speaking of success and failures, I had to remove readers with @comcast.net email addresses. Someone with a @comcast.net email marked one of my new post emails as spam and now Comcast is blocking everyone with a @comcast.net email from receiving any of my new post emails. If you have a @comcast.net email and want to keep receiving these posts, subscribe again without using a @comcast.net email.