Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rain, rain, and more rain...

It's been raining all day. And, boy - do we need it here in Southern California. I think the Bear Creek fire station can now finally change its Smoky the Bear sign on Clinton Keith Road from "High" fire danger to "Low."

It's 4:30pm right now and it's coming down in buckets. Since the house is upslope, we're not worried about flooding, but the water is carving out gullies along the driveway and adjacent hill.

Of course, I had to pick today to go down to Lowe's in Murrieta earlier this morning to get our Christmas tree. We got a 6-7' Douglas Fir, which we have sitting upright in the tree stand in the garage so it can dry out before we haul it into the living room. Unfortunately, Hana did a VERY BAD thing whilst the tree was aerating. She apparently noticed it in the garage on her way out to the dog run and decided to PEE PEE on it!! What a BAAAADDDD girl!!!!! You'd think that a girl dog would not do such a thing, but this one must be gender conflicted because she has no qualms about lifting her leg to mark her turf. Now I've got to bleach the base of the tree stand to ensure she doesn't do it again once the tree is in the house.

Neighbor's horses don't seem to mind the rain.

Water pooling around the driveway in front of the garage.

Water streaming down the slope towards the bottom of our driveway.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last harvest of the season

With our recent bout of frosty weather, I decided it was time to harvest the vestiges of the warm season crops still hanging on for dear life in my veggie garden.

All told, I procured a small batch of purple tomatillos, a couple Serrano chilies, and a few New Mexico chilies. Already used the New Mexico chilies in a turkey meatloaf day before yesterday (delish!), but not sure if there are enough tomatillos to make a decent salsa verde. May have to supplement with the store-bought variety.

I had planted a bunch of "Shao Bai Tsai" (i.e., "little white cabbage") from seed a month ago,  and they are now about 2 inches high. One of my favorite greens as a youngster in Taiwan. The cool weather seems to be keeping their growth in check.

If you are looking for a local source of Asian vegetable seeds, check out, a mail-order seed company located in Anaheim, CA. They offer over 350 varieties of Asian vegetable seeds, including a great selection of Taiwanese favorites like  small Chinese Cabbage (what I call 'Shao Bai Tsai' or 'little white cabbage'), Taiwan Coriander, 'Ping Tung Long' Eggplant, Chinese celery, and Taiwan basil.

12/6/09 Left to right: New Mexico Chilies, Purple Tomatillos, Serrano Chilies

Also got some ripening citrus crops at this time, including Meyer Lemons, Moro Blood Oranges, Meiwa Kumquats, and a ton of those diminutive Mexican Limes.

12/5/09 'Meiwa' Semi-Dwarf Kumquat (Fortunella crassifolia)

12/8/09 'Shao Bai Tsai' (Brassica campestris var. chinensis). The seed package is labeled as 'Small Chinese Cabbage', but a better translation is 'Little White Cabbage'.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow in Southern California

The first really significant rainstorm hit the Southland yesterday, and we're expecting another system or two to come through this Thursday through Saturday. A cold front accompanied by high winds followed the recent rain, and our temperatures here in La Cresta have dipped below freezing for the past two days. In fact, right now, at 9:50pm, it's already down to 33F. Dang! that's just too cold for us temperate-weathered types.

The snow level for this last storm was probably around 3,000-4,000 feet, so we didn't get any snow in the Santa Ana Mountains.  However, on the drive to work this morning, we saw some beautiful snow-covered peaks in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino ranges.

12/8/09 View of Mt. Baldy, San Bernardino Mountains, northbound on I-15 at Norco

12/8/09 View of San Bernardino Mountains, northbound on I-15 at Norco

12/8/09 View of Mt. Baldy, San Bernardino Mountains,
northbound I-15 at Limonite (Mira Loma)

'Tis the season for a picnic table...

YES! Finally found that 6' pine picnic table that no one seems to have in stock this time of year. Lowe's and Home Depot didn't have any because they are apparently "not in season". Ok, here in Southern California, when is a picnic table not in season? But thank goodness for the very helpful folks at Ace Hardware, who had this puppy in stock at their warehouse. So I bought it and it was delivered to their Wildomar store for pick up last weekend.

The table came unassembled, which was a good thing, or otherwise it wouldn't fit into the bed of the Tundra. We spent about an hour and a half putting it together. Probably would have gone quicker if the weather was a tad less dicey. I think we were barely above 50 degrees on Saturday afternoon, with added wind chill factor from the extremely blustery breezes.

12/5/09 Part one of assembly (the easy part). Put table top on flat surface...

Gilbert at his workshop, i.e., the bed of the Tundra. No need to glare, I know you didn't volunteer to put this thing together, but imagine all the al fresco dining we'll be able to enjoy after all is said and done!

Oooh, look - it's got legs!

Hana is not impressed.

You see, there's just no impressing a Princess...

Another baleful assessment from Hana...

YAY! All done.

Except for minor adjustment of the nuts and bolts. Can't have the thing collapsing from the weight of four full-sized adults.

Storm clouds on the horizon. Perfect weather for a picnic. Seriously...