The big fire.

Amazing, huh?

I always think it's interesting to consider that petroleum oil comes from organic plant matter that was alive hundreds of millions of years ago. And interesting to think about the solar energy that gave that plant matter life, locked up since then in carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen chemical bonds, free now to energize my computer, fuel my car, or burn down freeways in California.

Then, take another step back and think about the plant progenitors that first put the flammable molecular oxygen necessary to burn that fuel in the atmosphere to begin with...


Some stuff, narrated (no garden interest)

MidBeaconHill gave us a small tour of her house and possessions after a long night of birthday-related debauchery. Chez whoreticulture begins an extensive kitchen and living room remodel on May 15, so we're packing up the downstairs and bivouacing to the top floor for the rest of the summer. Everything is down off the shelves, waiting to be packed up, and begging to be blogged.

Mark these down as random objects from my grandmother's house (her library in particular) that ended up with me. The apple is made out of some very heavy, dense plastic with suede leaf and petiole. I love this GE desk clock from who knows when. It plugs into the wall and for all I know sucks more electricity than a modern television.

IMG_0076 IMG_0078

Also from my grandmother, this pitcher I found under her kitchen sink. Inside was a baggy of small nails, screws and rubber-bands. The sticker from the department store where she got is still on the bottom. It was either I Magnin or J Magnin, I don't remember right now (everything has since been packed away). This is from back in the time when you could go to a different department store and find different merchandise, including unique, hand-painted Italian pottery like this.


This is a Gouda vase. Like a good California doctor's wife, Grandma had her little hobbies and one of them was collecting Dutch art deco pottery. She had a small collection. Most of it went to my aunt, but I got a few pieces.


I bought this teapot from an artist in Santa Cruz, last name of Lambert. He has several lines of wacky teapots and tea service equipment. In front, is a toy weebil that belonged to my grandfather as a little boy. Too cute.


My grandmother also collected Franciscan ware. Maybe collection isn't the right word...we used it every day. All my life, and long before, grandma served breakfast off this design, and used a different one, with blue and gray instead of red and brown, for dinner. She put milk on the breakfast table in this. The candles Guy and I bought in Kauai on one of our earlier trips.


She used this one for hot tea which she alone drank.


We bought this table lamp in Kauai too. I love it. It was the first "nice thing" we bought together.


I gave this clock to Guy for his birthday one year. It's a little guy sitting on a rock. Made by another artist in Santa Cruz.


A relative of Guy's built this jail out of little rocks.


Guy has a professional relationship with A.G. and he signed this for Guy.


The contractors who built our deck uncovered this beautiful brown glass bottle in our backyard. Since then, I've found dozens more, and they're lined up on the back fence. Our house has its 100th birthday sometime this year. We'll honor it after the remodel.


Finally, this is a piece of soft sculpture by an artist friend of mine. It's called "Turd". My friend guts children's toys she gets at the Goodwill, and takes out the mechanical part inside that says things or makes sounds when you squeeze the toy. And re-purposes them into art. So, if you squeeze Turd (and there are several little pink satin buttons on turd that say "Squeeze me!"), you hear Big Bird saying "I love you!" or "Give me a hug!" or "That tickles!"


I have several pieces like this but different, including one that looks like a giant bug-eyed vagina that Guy won't let me put out because it disturbs him.


Garden notes to myself

(with paranthetical annotations for visitors)

I did good pinching back this Mimulus cardinalis. The stems are sturdier now, and I'll have more flowers.


(M. cardinalis, native to streambanks and wet, boggy areas in the western states from Oregon to Baja, over to New Mexico and Utah; a great flowering native plant for moist part-shade; attracts hummingbirds; most specimens make scarlet flowers, this one makes yellow flowers).

I planted it a foot back from the foot path last year, and what did it do but grow up, lodge, and set roots right next to the path. Now I'm going to be pruning it back all the time. More cuttings to propagate for the Botanical Garden, I guess.

By the way, exactly how did you kill mint?


I feel dissatisfied with the whole situation over here. Two-and-a-half years ago, I jerry-rigged these two cheap-o wooden trellises together for the passiflora to grow on in order to hide the compost bin. I never intended for this set-up to last; I thought I would buy one of those tall, arching metal trellises like they sell at garden centers. But I never prioritized that, and now here we are.


Last year, I cut the passiflora back to the ground to prevent this extreme bareness at its lower, wooden extremities (note that it fails to mask the compost bin whatsoever--last year this wasn't a problem). But then I had no flowers, and I was, like, is it because I cut the vine to the ground in early spring? Or is it because it's growing in super-rich soil next to the compost bin and feels no biological need whatsoever to make flowers? Or is it not enough sun? Well, who knows.

I didn't cut it this year and now it's all gone off into my neighbor's yard where noone will see it flower except rodents and insects. Which is an interesting idea in its own right...I'm filing that one away.

So where exactly does that leave me in this corner of the yard? Do I still want the big, arching metal trellis? Do you discern the question at the root of the problem? Why do I want to hide my compost bin? Am I ashamed of it? Does its presence in my garden cry out to be smothered and adorned with tropical vines to diminish its hideousness? I don't think so. Did I ever think so? Did I really feel that way once? It's not exactly an ostentatious compost bin. It's dark green, in the shape of a doghouse. And it's held up pretty well too. Solid Rubbermaid engineering.

At some point in the not-too-distant past I was a yet more amateurish gardener than I am today. It may have seemed like hiding the compost bin was the reasonable thing to do in my garden. Does that imperative still exist? We'll see.

GACK! Fine texture overload!


The Eriogonum grande v. rubescens (the green on the right side of the path) grew much taller in my nutrient-rich soil than it does in nature, making this whole area a near disaster. I'm sticking with this plant for 2007. Maybe the fuzzy red flowerheads that come in the fall will take the edge of this planting. Next year, it's doug iris and checkerbloom.

This little area's coming along nice enough. But seriously do think about getting another Fremontodendron 'San Gabriel' or some other two-dimensional plant to put here next to the staircase. This hole there now wants a remedy.

"This now-famous Pied-billed grebe gently nuzzles her hours-old baby while sitting atop her floating nest in San Francisco. At this point, she had four hatchlings camping out on her back (hiding under her wings) and three buns in the oven underneath her."

Great pictures at the link.

While in other news...
"To the average hunter, Wee Wee was no different than any other Canada goose -- a nuisance worthy of a well-placed shot, and possibly, dinner.

To the Hulse family and their neighbors, however, Wee Wee was a beloved pet and a friend to children.

Now, a hunter who felled Wee Wee last weekend could face charges for shooting what was still officially considered a wild animal."


A blog post without pictures

Is it even worth reading? I'm not the one to say.

Annie mentioned in the comments having trouble visiting whoreticulture. Me too! Loading the blog really slows down my computer. I haven't seen it outside of "preview" in several weeks. Could it be because all the pictures? Seems likely, doesn't it? Who knows.

I've reduced the number of days visible on the homepage from 14 to 7. Maybe that will help.

While I'm here, two things:

1) My Sloggers came today! I put them on, and the next three hours in the garden flew by so fast I forgot to take a picture of me wearing them before the sun went down. The soonest I can do that now is this weekend, and I will.

I will tell you the Sloggers are extremely comfortable, and very nice looking. At first, I felt somewhat odd wearing them to the garden; I had to remind myself that's what they're for. Formality in San Francisco is so degraded, I could easily wear Sloggers to the symphony or opera. While I won't do that, I will slip them on for jaunts up to Cortland Street for coffee, dinner, etc. Indeed, I was reluctant to take them off when I came inside from the garden. We have hardwood floors. They're nice and all, but I don't like walking on them barefoot.

2) I had a moment of design epiphany in the garden tonight: the artichoke bush has to go. It was a leftover element from the winter garden anyway and now it's getting so big it obscures the tomatoes from sunlight. In my heart, I've known for awhile the artichoke would have to go, but I didn't want to admit it. And I didn't know what to replace it with, but now I do. A topiary--duh! Flanked by raggedy tomatoes and vining squash, the firm resolution of a buxus topiary makes solid, obvious sense.

So, that's that.

Come back this weekend and I'll show you (a few) pictures of me in my Sloggers ripping out the artichoke and putting in a topiary!


Another walk. This time, in the rain, stoned.

Special brownies.


I've eaten, like, 75% of a whole pan. Guy's out of town again. I went to school this morning (I'm taking 'Summer Vegetables'--today we looked at Fabiaceae and Curcurbitaceae. Then I came home and, ahem, had lunch and gardened for a bit. Now, I want to go for a walk.

Outside, this is the first thing that catches my eye.


It's not like I know where I'm going to go when I go for a walk. I just look for something interesting and let it string me a long. From halfway down the block, this is what attracts my attention.

And off we go.



(It occurs to me that if I was a really tacky smoker, I might stub out my cigarette out in this planter. File that away as character resource material for the novel...)

A Fremontodendron against a north facing wall. Interesting.


Must remember to come back for this over the next several months. Fremontia want full sun. Full, hot sun, in nutrient poor soil. A signature plant of the American west.


So far this year, northern exposure promotes lusher growth and fewer flowers. We'll see another one later on.

The house isn't leaning, I am.


I really feel a gardener's spirit in this yard. Not my spirit, but a kindred one I feel love for.


This yard has a white picket fence (Stone walls or white picket fences are the only ways to go.) The flower's leaning on the fence like a bored kid or an eager puppy. Let me out! (Behind it is Melianthus major, Honeybush. Looks really good in Los Angeles!)










Interesting, tiny house.


It's good to have your car match the trim.


(I'm kidding.)

Double parking to get coffee.


This is the main drag in Bernal Heights, Cortland Street.


When I first moved to San Francisco in 1989, I volunteered for the Shanti Project, an HIV/AIDS support organization. I had a client on Cortland Street. Shanti volunteers provided practical support to people living with AIDS. That is, I cleaned people's houses, did their laundry, picked up groceries, etc, etc, when they couldn't do it anymore. I learned a lot of important lessons doing that every week for two years as a 19-year-old college drop-out. (Certainly more than I would have been learning in college.)

A lot of my clients were end-stage sick. I saw a lot of that up close. I also saw people go from apparent health and vigor to weakness and waste in weeks. I didn't see a lot family around. Not in 1989.

Life is precious, in many, many ways.

Anyhow, we're on Cortland Street because I just picked up a double espresso and now we're going to the video store. If I'm going to be stoned on pot brownies all night, I need a movie.


Inside, they're playing Golden Girls! Woo, woo! (No--I'm not a huge Golden Girls fan. Well, I like it as much as the next living breathing human being; I'm hooting to be in the spirit of things. And who doesn't love Betty White? No friend of mine, that's for sure.)

When Guy and I get kittens after the kitchen remodel, we're getting two girls, and we're naming them Betty and Doris [Day]. We decided that last week at the wine bar.


I get A Scanner Darkly.



At night, she's a wine bar serving wine. In the morning, she's a bakery serving bread.







Enough of the main drag. Back in to the 'hood.











Eucalyptus sideroxylon. I never noticed these trees have the same architecture before.





Parietaria judaica, spreading pellitory, judean pellitory. From the Urticaceae, the nettle family. Terribly weedy. A recent arrival to San Francisco, I'm told.



Dodonaea viscosa (Sapindaceae). That will become a nice small tree there.


"Two-ply JUMBOTEX"


This shot gives me the giggles right now:


That other, full-sun Fremontodendron.



Geraniums are the perfect plant to complement this era of architecture.












Yellow mimulus coming through white picket fence. More kindred gardening spirit.




Lagerstroemia alternating with Maytenus boaria.

At this point, the rain is starting to come down.

Gotta go!