More Gravel…

Another day of working in the yard; but my guestimate now is that my 8 tons of river rock and decomposed granite is down to about 3 tons, maybe a bit less.

So, here’s some of what I did today (compare this to the previous post)…

And this is the path as it looks through the undeveloped part of my yard:

This took some time.  I listened to lots of Irish music on my Ipod while shoveling. I was really surprised when I went by the more developed part of my yard, to what I think of as my desert perennial border, and I saw that my agave looks like it’s going to send up it’s shoot this spring! Check this out, here it is close up…

….and from a distance…..you can just barely see the tender white shoot in the middle….

I just “pruned” this agave with my new cactus pruner; I’ll have to post about this soon. Maybe by cutting back the base, I encouraged it to bloom. I dunno. More on the pruner next time. I’m beat!

No Time For Fiddle Tunes or Art Quilts :(

While it’s a bit frustrating to have no time for fabric art or fiddle tunes, I am happy at least to be making improvements to my yard….so when it’s hot this summer and I’m inside under the AC sewing or playing my fiddle, I can look out to a lovely yard with fewer weeds.

My mom came over yesterday to help me with a bunch of yard chores; here she is putting together 2 new raised bed frames for my expanded vegetable garden:

Then we dug up this old concrete footing that I’d forgotten about; it must be as old as the house, and the wall it once supported is long gone. The footing interferes with water flow/drainage and of course makes it impossible to plant anything in that area:

This is what we dug up; I’ll throw a few pieces in my trash can ever week till it’s gone. And, yes, all that green stuff is weeds.

Before my mom came, this is what I managed to do on my own, shoveling some of the 3 tons of Salt River rock I ordered into the swale I built to divert water away from my house; and, BTW, that AC unit you see? I want to tear that out and put in a window. It’s ugly, and useless.

By the time my mom left, the pile of rock was almost gone, and the swale complete.

Here are my new 2 raised beds! Time to fill ’em up with soil, plant some seeds and get the shade cloth up and soaker hoses installed: then I’ll have fresh veggies this summer. Lots. There are 2 more raised beds in the back you can’t see in this photo. Yum.

Port Kirwan Come Home Year Is Getting Closer…

I got a lovely email the other day from Adrian Fennelly; he saw my post on the Port Kirwan Come Home Year member’s page, and he had this to say:

“I was born and raised in Port Kirwan and now live in Oshawa, Ontario. You mentioned in your intro. that you play the Irish fiddle. I have a cousin (by marriage) named Belle Fennelly who lives in Port Kirwan, who is a fabulous Accordion player, she is in her 90s and still going strong. In August we must get you and her together and make some great music.
Hoping to meet you in August.”

I’ve since written Adrian back; he has a huge collection of Irish song recordings and is sending me some.  In exchange I’ll surely buy us a round or two at the CHY this summer in Newfoundland. I’m really looking forward to meeting his cousin!

Irish Music at O’Mally’s in Tucson: an Aris Debut

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! I should be out celebrating, but I have to be at work in the morning; so it’s been an early evening, limited to just a couple pints of (too cold) Guinness.

Here’s a photo of our 2 hour gig at O’Malley’s; it seems like anyone who plays–or claims to play–Irish music in Tucson was at O’Malley’s tonight, even the Scottish 7 Pipers Pipe Band marched through the huge bar a few times (after our gig, thankfully). I played with Anton (guitar), Margy (vocals/bodhran) and Don (flute/whistle); Margy had the idea to call our ensemble Aris (pronounced airish), which I think in Irish means “again”. Here’s Don, me and Margy; I’m in my favorite crushed velvet:

And, not to leave Anton out…..here’s a shot w/Anton on guitar:

The guy who mixed sound did great; I think we sounded pretty good. Thanks to O’Malley’s for hiring us. It was lots of fun; thanks to Margy, Don and Anton for making it possible to play great tunes together!

Sabino Canyon Hike With the Parents

It’s sadly been a few years since I tied on my trusty Danner boots and went for a long hike with some elevation gain. A few bouts of hip bursitis in the past few years had me very demoralized when it came to hiking. But, belly dance seems to have really helped my hip and back pain; so with all this fantastic weather we’ve been having and a weekday off from work, it was time to hit the trail, and I got my hiking-legs back with a simple 9 mile loop at Sabino Canyon.

Here’s my mom, with a Perry Penstemon in the foreground. My dad sprinted ahead and we didn’t see him for 4 miles; but then he’s a former marathon runner who moves at quite a clip so little surprise there.

For those of you who don’t live in the desert, you may think it odd to be excited over the sight of a few wildflowers. For us Sonoran desert dwelling outdoorsy types, though, it’s really exciting; usually the landscape is very stark and austere, and when after a heavy rainy season a few flowers manage to sprout up out of…..nothing….it’s quite remarkable.

Here are some Desert poppies, a Star Flower,  something that might be verbena and the leafy beginnings of some lupine growing along the trail:

This is the view looking back towards Tucson; the trail we’re on is behind us, on the left, and below you can see the canyon bottom, full of running water from snowmelt and the direction in which we were headed:

Across the canyon there are very alarming scars along the steep sides of the mountains: this is the terrible damage done by floods and rock slides  that destroyed much of Sabino Canyon after the catastrophic Aspen Fire of 2003.

Here’s my folks; my dad looks like he’s puckering, but, it’s the only photo I have of them from today, which I took when we stopped for lunch:

Isn’t that green cottonwood amazing? It really is that green with the first new leafy growth of spring. And the sky is really that blue.

Here’s all the water along the canyon bottom:

With all the snow in the mountains, there will probably be water around when it’s warm enough to swim; but those days will be few, and when it’s really hot enough to hop in the water, it will be long gone, leaving behind just rock and sand.

Paddy Carty and Paddy Fahey Recording Now a Free Download

My email fiddle-pal Jake sent me the following link to a recently uploaded out-of-print record from 1969 of Paddy Fahey and Paddy Carty, Traditional Irish Music from Galway. It’s already on my Ipod and I love it.

The link is to Ceol Alainn, a great blog with all this great old Irish traditional music; I haven’t visited the site since last fall–I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve been so busy–when I downloaded all this great Paddy Canny stuff.

Anyone who either loves traditional Irish music, or who wants to broaden their knowledge beyond what’s easily available on CD, this is a fantastic place to hear the pure drop.

My Gravel Doom

Well, here it is: all 8 tons. And that’s just half of what I’m going to need.

I started shoveling the gray river-rock (from the Salt River) into the swale on the east side of my house; I put weed cloth underneath (that’s the black stuff), it’s porous but helps keep weeds out:

Anything green you see is a weed. Because of all the rain, the weeds are unbelievable.  Three weeks ago I picked all my kale, leaving behind just stubs of plants; and with the recent rain, it’s all come back:

The poppies are volunteers. It’s supposed to hit 80 degrees later this week….so I’ll have to pick it all and freeze it. I have a feeling temperatures are going to warm up quick, which is why I’m anxious to move all that rock while it’s still cool.

Art Quilt Withdrawl

Remember this?

Yeah, I do too. I haven’t worked on it for 5 weeks!

Getting my new windows installed was part of the delay. Now I’m preoccupied about my yard, which is large and mostly not landscaped; it’s a lot of dirt for weeds and dust. Since it’s rained so much, it’s easier than ever to dig and move dirt around.

So, instead of sewing I tackled this part of my yard; I’ve dug a swale, which will be a path through the gate, and which will also channel water away from my house and down to the street:

I’m also about to get my spring/summer veggie beds in shape; here are 6 of my heirloom tomato plants, they have odd names like “Porter’s Pride”, “Harvest 24” and “Aussie” (guess where that tomato comes from); behind them are my seedlings, which haven’t done well in their peat-pots this year:

Soil amendments, and this doesn’t include my own compost, and lots of weed cloth:

I also have been straightening up the yard; as in, tree-trimming: here’s the citrus and olive tree before….

And after:

They almost look naked now. I think I got about 150# of tangelos off that tangelo tree in the back this winter.

Tomorrow, I’m getting 8 tons of gravel (I’m not kidding) delivered, and hopefully my cactus pruners will arrive in the mail: so that explains why I’ll continue to be unable to sew. Just not enough time. But my yard will look much better. The ground is soft and the weather pleasant….so I have no excuse!

Another Trip to Catalina State Park

We got another half inch of rain yesterday, and it’s quite soggy in Tucson; but the day before that, I had a brief hike up at Catalina State Park with Bearbear and my pal India. Check out the saguaros and the water!

It looks shallow, but in parts it was knee deep–this, 6 days since the last rain–and that’s the height of the tip Bearbear’s ears. So, he was initially a bit resistant; as this was the last of multiple water crossings, he was clearly quite happy about it being over!

Dog Park Reunion

Yesterday Bearbear and I invited some of our pals from the Wildcat Dog Park over to play; we also invited their humans along, too. Jazz is the only one who didn’t make it into the photos; sorry, Jazz, you were being to crafty.  Next play-date!

Here’s Bearbear and Kiwi:

Here’s Bearbear making sure Maya knows that he’s in charge; she is so patient and indulgent of his Napolean-complex:

Here’s Checkers; he’s quite the determined and curious  fellow:

Here’s Bearbear going after Maya; I know I’m anthropomorphizing, but, Bearbear really has the hots for Maya. He just finds her too exciting.

This is my favorite photo; what a great portrait of 2 great dogs! Maya is looking quite fondly at her human, who was also getting her photo. Kiwi, meanwhile, is about to launch into the weeds and have a salad snack:

Well done, dogs. Bearbear and I look forward to another romp soon. Once I’ve gotten rid of all the weeds and spread a few tons of gravel (not kidding; that is my latest project).