Amidst the Smoke

For days now we have been buried in fog-like smoke stemming from several fires near here and the big ones in WA/ OR. The silver lining lies in the cooler temperature it brought, but the air quality keeps me inside as much as possible. I miss walking around the neighborhood and enjoying the summer flowers various neighbors grow, but it brightens my heart to look out a window and see snippets of color in my own backyard.

Apricot English rose, pink hardy hibiscus, purple butterfly bush, pink tea rose.

It’s otherwise a very brown world out there right now.

My New Favorite Unusual Instrument

Meet the handpan, which the Dearliest says was made for people who never grew out of banging on pots and pans. I wonder if in their hearts this is everyone.

One website said they were inspired by steel drums, and I can hear that. There’s a brief history here on the invention and development. Even more brief: The original Hang design was invented in 2000, discontinued in 2013, and since then people taken with the instrument have made spin-offs and replicas.

What goes into making one is fascinating. They’re all handmade, which explains the price tag! I will settle for pots and pans and clinking tea cups.

For now.

The 2020 Irises–Earlies; Also, meet Midnight Sky Petunia

The season has begun!

I knew I had two early varieties (they bloom 3-4 weeks before the others), but I’d forgotten about a third and it turns out one from my mom is also an early bloomer.

Early Purple Dwarf (real name unknown)–from the iris-loving neighbor down the road (3rd week of April)

DB_Early Purple

Early Dwarf Purple

Early Mountain Minis (real name unknown)– These pretties were on the mountain property and I brought some with me when we moved. Up there they only got about 6″ high and were the cutest things. I still think they’re lovely, but once here they grew into dwarfs! The longer growing season and warmer area lets them get up to 16″, so not technically mini anymore. (bloomed April 25)

Early_Mountain Mini

Early Yellow Minis (real name unknown)–also from the neighbor down the road (April 29)

Early_Yellow Mini

Early Tall Purple–from my Mom (April 29)

Early Standard_ Purple (Mom)

The irises are earlier overall this year and all the new ones have set buds. So excited to see what they turn into! (If you want to catch up on the garden’s currently known inhabitants, check out the Iris Garden Tab.)

In other plant news, the other day the Dearliest surprised me with a stellar wave petunia. The aptly named Midnight Sky:


It has a lovely, mild scent (I didn’t know petunias could smell?) and is definitely up there as a favorite with everyone.

In not-plant news, I updated my A Word on the Corona Virus II post. I have decided to not shy away from sharing information I believe to be important, but I don’t want to bog down the blog with such posts. I will instead let it be known when something new is there, and you can choose whether or not you want to click.

Adventures with Not-Sourdough Starter

I recently acquired a lovely starter. Its “yeast-free” claim is a little misleading, I believe, and should rather be labeled “commercial yeast-free.” The organisms in it are caught outside, and to my knowledge there is no way to separate out natural bacteria from wild yeast in this process. Therefore, it does have yeast, but it’s a very different yeast from the Red Star you get in the store. For that matter, it’s very different from the yeast you catch from your kitchen air for a traditional sourdough starter. You can read more about it at the link if interested.

It’s similar to a sourdough starter in some ways. In fact I’ve heard “sourdough starter” and “natural yeast starter” used interchangeably on quite a few websites, though having spent time with both I personally feel there is a difference. Continue reading