The Guilty Party

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Garden, May 26

Not much to report this week. Biggest news is that the Swiss Chard is out and in its place I have put a couple of zucchini plants. That is usually a good summer crop around here. Sometimes too good. People run and hide when they see you approaching with a paper bag.

The grapes are growing bit by bit. Just the one cluster, but still, it's pretty cool. The vines themselves are going great guns. I have actually had to trim them back lately.

One tomato doing the ripening thing so far. Unfortunately it also seems to a have at least a minor case of blossom end rot. Bummer.

More tomatoes are showing up on the Rutgers heirloom plants. I hope our hot weather doesn't fry them before they are ready for harvest.

The Santa Fe Grande pepper plant is showing some progress.

Hate to say it, but the short blackberry harvest is going to end soon. Still a few ripening on the bramble, but this morning there wasn't enough ripe fruit to bother picking. Going to see if I can get a bowl full tomorrow.
See you later.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garden, May 13, 2011

Not much time today. I do want to get some "real" writing done before heading off to the bill-paying job. But can't ignore the First Blackberry Harvest! So here are the latest photos from the Garden Hutcheson.

Cast iron chair imported added for additional visual interest. Lots of berries waiting for their time on the bramble.

The plants themselves are looking a bit spare, but we have peppers growing.

Wrong angle to see the first tomato this Rutgers heirloom has set so far. I will zero in on it next week. Here's hoping the reasonable (for Phoenix) weather will hold long enough for us to get some production out of the tomato plants. Next year, plant deeper and make a little greenhouse for them.

One of the grapevines. Looking good!

I wish everyone a great weekend. Plant, tend and see what you can harvest!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Cover Art for Boomerang

I'll make this short and sweet. Boomerang has new cover art. Laura Lakey is the very talented artist responsible and I couldn't be more pleased.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back to the Garden

The latch to the gate that leads to the garden.

Well, I haven't been very good about getting you your weekly peek at the veggie garden, now have I? Some of the fault is mine, no doubt, but some has to do with, you guessed it, the damned computer situation. Our old one, the only one that seemed to allow me to post photos, was on its last legs, so to speak, and now we have a lovely new one and it has taken me a while to figure it out. I think I've got it now. So this morning I took my new  digital SLR, and put my old Vivitar 135mm 1:2 macro lens on it and did some manual metering and had me a good ol' time.

Three tomato plants and so far we have two tomatoes. This is the bigger of the two. Next week I will do the wider shots, but today I was just enjoying the macro.

Nothing much going on with the Santa Fe Grande pepper plant yet, but there are a few bell peppers coming along.

One of the Rutgers heirloom tomato plants has a number of blossoms. I sure hopes that means good things. We'll see. I haven't had much luck with tomatoes the past few years.

Ah, the blackberry bramble. Most of the berries are still green, but there are little sparkles of red here and there. Just a matter of time before they deepen and sweeten and call to me.

The grapevine has little grapelings.

I am going to have to find the name of this vine. The little purple flowers are really nice.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Montezuma Well

Yesterday was roadtrip day. With our friends Jonathan and Ann, Andy and Rhonda, as well as their son Daniel, and our two kiddos TJ and Megan, we headed north a bit to check out Montezuma Well, which is just about an hour and a half drive from Phoenix. It was a beautiful, breezy, cool day and for those of us who live in the Valley of the Scorching Sun, it is good to experience as many days like that as possible before the summer heat really settles into place. Montezuma Well is just a bit north of what I believe is the more frequently visited Montezuma Castle, the site of one of the most extensive, well preserved cave dwellings to be found. Montezuma Well is described thusly on the official website:

Montezuma Well
Montezuma Well, a unit of Montezuma Castle, is located 11 miles from the park. Formed long ago by the collapse of a limestone cavern, over one million gallons of water a day flows continuously into the Well. This constant supply of warm, fresh water provides an aquatic habitat like no other in the world, and has served as an oasis for wildlife and humans for thousands of years.

You can hike down into the crater by means of a series of rough but quite serviceable steps and it is well worth the little bit of effort to do so.

The photographer always lags behind as he lingers over likely subjects. But al least my friends and family kept an eye on me and waited.

Once you get back up out of the crater, follow the path that leads to the spring that feeds into the well. Check out those lovely Golden Columbine.

I am not sure what this plant is called, but had to get a shot of the pretty flowers.

After Montezuma Well we paid a visit to the San Dominique Winery, just off I-17 on the southwest corner of the 169/Cherry Road exit. Bill, the owner, has a modest (well, okay, let's be more precise and call it slightly ramshackle) tasting room that is just as much about the many bottled and canned garlic related products as it is about the wine. We were greeted by a couple of high spirited Highland Terriers, who very nicely kept our daughter occupied whilst the adults sampled a bit of wine. Our first taste was not encouraging, I like my cabernets lush and this one was a bit on the thin and astringent side. But the next wine we tried, the Cuvee Rouge, was a nice surprise, quite unlike any red I have tasted before. Almost grassy, very easy on the palate and practically no aftertaste. Seemed to be a good choice for lighter pasta dishes. The red port (he has a white port too, which our friends Andy and Rhonda tried and purchased) is spicy and rich.
Lots of garlic based dressings, marinades, salsas, dips and such.

That's Bill, the owner, on the left. He very rightly reminded me that it is good manners to ask before taking pictures in someone's business establishment. He is a fairly brusque fellow, but not at all off-putting. He told me he learned the wine business at an establishment in Brooklyn (shame on me, I did not jot down the exact name) and had also spent time in Napa. He no longer grows his own grapes, and when we asked where his came from, he said "all over" and that seemed to settle that.
If you plan on visiting San Dominque, make sure you take cash in case you find something you want to take home. He has a sign up that says "No land line=No credit cards".
After leaving the winery, we headed to Prescott and wandered around downtown for a bit. Didn't take any photos, mostly shivered in the brisk wind and and about 60 degree temperature. We just weren't dressed for that. But we did resolve to come back when we could spend more time. It looks like there are a lot of restaurants to explore in that town.
Speaking of restaurants, on our way back to Phoenix we stopped at the Rock Springs Cafe, an establishment reportedly famous for their down home cooking and especially their pies.
There was a wait for a table, but that was okay. I followed the sound of a country band in the next room and enjoyed the sounds of Cecil and The Boys.

When we did get seated my first choice for dinner, Chicken and Biscuits, which is listed as one of the house specialties, was not available, so I went for the Honey Crusted Tilapia (spelled "Talapia" on the menu). It was okay, probably would have been better if served hot. The french fries were obviously of the shake 'em out of a freezer bag variety. Our daughter had the mac 'n cheese, which she declared "pretty good" and our son had the only thing on the menu a vegetarian could have, which was the Veggie Pizza. He liked it, although it was sized for at least two hungry people. My banana cream pie was okay. Andy seemed to be the most pleased with his pie selection, the Jack Daniels Pecan.

Happy Exploring, whether on the road or armchair.

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.