Murphys Irish Day

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Given it is April and my last post says “Is it March already? – I guess you can tell it’s been a busy few months! Murphys Irish Days is always happening here and this year was no different. Often the audience is more dressed up than some of those in the parade. The Girl Scouts were out with their cookies, two roller derby teams (which I’d not seen before) skated by, Ken dragged out his kilt as he does each year, my faves the Bernese Mountain dogs were all dressed up (but hard to shoot as kids love walking alongside and around that group), the army jeeps were dousing the crowd with water from their mounted “guns” and the grocery store showed up with a gigantic (and noisy) hot rod cart. Thank you as always to our diligent “pooper scooper” group that does their best given the proliferation of well fed horses in the parade! Murphys Irish Days 2 Murphys Irish Days 3 Murphys Irish Days 4 IMG_6654 Murphys Irish Days

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Ken and Denise Murphys Irish Days

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It was a beautiful day and we were packed to the edges of town.

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Love the taps on the sneakers for one of the dancing groups!

This post is participating in UnknownMami’s Sunday’s in my City.

Over the Mountains and through the woods…

New Melones Resevoir from Parrot's Ferry Bridge

I believe I’ve mentioned that many trips – the dentist, doctor, shopping, or meetings – require a beautiful jaunt “over the mountains and through the woods” to get to the town of Sonora. It’s becoming the area superstore mecca boasting a Lowes, Walmart, Kohls, JoAnn, Orchard, Ross, TJMaxx, Staples and more.  Murphys’ family owned stores (shop local!) provide the majority of what we need, but for things like specific HP Printer ink or one inch binder clips – a trek to Staples is called for. About 20 miles and 40 or so minutes of curvy roads and stunning scenery comprise the trip. I finally remembered to drag my camera along when bounding out to make my dentist appointment.

Parrot's Ferry Bridge from Columbia side

The Parrot’s Ferry Bridge takes me across the upper reaches of New Melones Resevoir (a~ 20 square mile manmade lake built by the U.S. Bureau of Water Reclamation with the installation of the New Melones Dam; extensive hiking paths, camping and recreational activities available).

New Melones Resevoir

Growing up on an ocean, I’d call these watermarks tide lines.

Parrots Ferry Bridge across New Melones

This shot and the opening shot were both taken from the same spot, same time – amazing how looking into clouds and the sun given a whole different feel to the day. (All shots were the same return trip, didn’t touch up the opening shot at all, added some saturation to the one above as it was a bit washed out from the sun).

 Sunset, Murphys CA

As impressive as the trip is, I’m always so happy to relax back at home with a view of sunset from the back deck. (Above shot is also “straight from the camera” – completely nature’s colors).

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

In like a lamb and out like a lion

Spring?  The phrase is supposed to be in like a lion and out like a lamb for March, but hey – this year has been anything but normal. Yes folks, it’s snowing today – not unusual for some of your locales, but very much so here.

Above is Narcissus Pink Pride today. As soon as I saw this on the computer, I went inside for a flashlight and camp lantern to try to get a bit of light into the shot – but in the few moments that took, this flower had hit the ground. Below is a shot of Pink Pride last weekend.

Scilla Siberica today, big fluffy snowflakes are weighing these down.

Scilla Siberica last weekend

Narcissus Dickcissel today

Last weekend, a happier Narcissus Dickcissel

Ruby Swiss Chard

Calibrachoa

Last weekend, a hawk. I’d been thinking I hadn’t seen many hawks. Predator birds. Also heard the screech owls move back in. Predator bird. Haven’t seen ANY hummingbirds at the feeders, unusual for me. Hoping the snow of St Patty’s Day simply sent them to lower elevations for a bit (Cornell notes they “eat smaller birds”, sigh).

This weekend, really big wet snowflakes, sadly empty feeders.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City – stop by to see what others are doing in their neck of the woods.

Hope Springs Eternal

It’s a rainy, dreary Sunday – indulging myself in indoor hobbies and this morning it’s gardening.

I’ve mentioned Winter Sowing seeds before (here and here), something I’ve been a fan of for years – it works.

   

My efforts are well underway. Some of the milk jugs had snow inside them (last weekend’s storm), but this week the seedlings are taking off as though that blast of chill startled them awake.

   

Knautia  on the left and closely Planted Pam’s Choice Foxglove on the right. The foxglove seed is at least 8 years old, so I didn’t expect such great germination. It’s a biennial – doesn’t bloom its first year, just sets a base of leaves that look like most weeds. Will have to mark where I plant them (and give away oodles).

The knautia are hardy here and have pretty neat seed heads (above is the knautia in maroon and lavender with seed heads), so I’ve planted white plus that wonderful deep maroon and lavender.

   

Short Blue and White Columbine on left. I’d run out of the larger milk containers I prefer for sowing. The smaller ones work but will have to be planted out sooner (and watched for overheating more closely).

     

Today’s efforts are centered on the “warm weather” seeds – eggplants, tomatoes and peppers. Many folks winter sow everything, but for these I like bottom heat and pushing them to get to a nice size for planting out. My new growing season is shorter than the previous home and I want to grab every moment. I’m pre-germinating the seed (detailed instructions here) then I’ll move it to the “root trainers” on a heat mat under shoplights. There’s a phrase “hope springs eternal” – last time I filled the four root trainer trays and got heavy into indoor seed starting – I lost almost all of them to damping off (I think the well water must really have those spores, never had such an issue previously). But, I’ve got a plan – we’ll see if it works. Today’s efforts also include mailing a few gift seed packets off and starting more herbs in jugs.

   

The beds during last week’s snowstorm and today (time to get the weed wacker out). The lowest bed is where I planted most previous year’s potted bulbs. They get a bit stressed in ‘too hot’ pots over the summer, so I’m taking what lived and nursing them with good soil plus bulb fertilizer. Hope to then get them in the ground to naturalize once they go dormant in a few months.

I’m also giving a go at Lavender cuttings  (and a few others) in the milk jugs. My endeavors will yield  either abundance of plant material or lots of food for the compost bins. Fingers crossed for the former.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City at Unknown Mami. 

Hiking About

I periodically share my shots of sunsets from the back deck.  Grabbed my camera and hiked back into the undisturbed areas of the property.  This is what those trees look like from the ground.

I plan to play more with shutter speed and light.  Would prefer less glare from the setting sun, but like a bit of it. As the hiking expedition was also in impromptu seed scattering event, I hadn’t put enough thought into bug repellent or securing the bottom of my jeans against ticks to truly hike about. I’d just paused from repotting, grabbed the camera, grabbed the seeds and headed down. Once there, the “uh oh” hit me. Could not totally concentrate as I was wishing I’d looked up the dormancy habit of rattlesnakes and wondering if you stepped too close or into one of their dens through the leaves, they’d wake up and bite.  Didn’t have my phone on me – so, yes, was operating a tad distracted.

Without leaves to identify it, poison oak would be just more brush I’d be rubbing against. The pine needles and leaves are deep – you uncomfortably sink.

The wider open areas are where the plough originally fire cleared 5 years ago, then you come up to dense brush you can’t really hike through. Above lower left, the young pine, scrub oak and manzanita are more clearly visible – they’re so densely making a comeback that from a distance it appears to be grasses.

Although they lose all their lower limbs, these Douglas Fir (yes, your Christmas tree all grown up) do sport lovely green growth at the top. Did you know the shedding of lower limbs is an adaptation of some pines (Ponderosa as well) in fire prone areas? Nature never ceases to amaze.

This area was cleared, saving the oaks, and is also rampantly growing back. Another pass for fire safety will be needed soon.

Not sure what downed the Manzanita, but it affords you a glimpse into the denseness of growth beyond.

Do wish I’d done better on this one – watching where I was stepping and finding I couldn’t get as close as I’d like to the base.

My sister spent time as a florist in New England – she’s always telling me to cut Manzanita branches and go sell them to florists in the bay area. Those conservation minded needn’t worry – these things are springing up everywhere. Unfortunately, they’re an “oily tree” – the kind that explodes and makes brush fires much worse. You do need to thin their growth near property (if you’re smart, more than the 100’ required).

May have to call this my fairy tree as I see dancing figures in the branches of this one :-) .

Healthy manzanitas have fantastic red bark.

I know as I learn more, these shots might become stellar, for now you have a bit of a tour of California interior oak woodlands.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City. There are many accomplished photographers and writers there sharing a glimpse from their neck of the woods.  And, remember Murphys Irish Days combined with Ironstone’s Daffodil Days is the weekend of the 17th – c’mon up if you can. Sonora’s Celtic Faire is the previous weekend, the 9th.

As I love a few photos in this post, I’ve resurrected it for The Gallery of Favorites hosted by April at The
21st Century Housewife
 and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers.

Murphys Law

Of course, no sooner than I had posted about our warm weather – a blustery system moved in.

You can see the sleet hitting the railing as the Anna hummingbird fuels under the overhang. The black chinned hummers are still chasing them from the feeders; but the Anna’s are less skittish around me and feed when I’m there and the black chinned take to the wind.

Our Western scrub Jay was out and about;

But just sat out in the elements as the rain came down.

The rain, though welcomed, was short-lived.

Although the clouds gave me something to play with in capturing sunsets.

We’ve been back to brilliant sunshine in all its splendor with that brief storm the exception, rather than the rule, in this unseasonably warm winter. My dwarf snapdragon has continued to thrive in the protection of the porch.

For those of you who’ve been considering a jaunt out to the Sierra’s – Murphys Irish Days is coming right up and it’s one of our more lively events. Ironstone is hosting their “Daffodil Days” the same weekend (March 17th), so time to make your reservations.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City, be sure to stop by and see what others around the globe have to share.