Christmas 2007 in Palo Alto

  1. Ikebana Christmas decoration for the washer/dryer.

  2. Mom and Dad arrive at the San Jose - it was almost midnight and they had a long trip

  3. Breakfast on Monday December 17 (first morning in Palo Alto)

  4. After breakfast - it turned out to be a pleasant, sunny, and warm morning - I took Mom and Dad over to the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, the Master Gardener garden where I work every Monday morning. This Monday, we were taking a break from working in the garden beds, and instead making floral arrangements for home. Everyone brought in greenery and we used this and that, cherry-picking from the picnic table laden high with a luscious variety of greens. This is Abby, who is now the co-leader of the garden, and also my fearless leader on the Asian Bed.

  5. Abby in front of the enormous pile of wood chips just delivered. Her neighbor had a tree taken down, and it became wood chips that we spread all over the paths.

  6. Mom explains to people around the table how she is constructing her arrangement. She made two; this is the one for the mantelpiece above the fireplace.

  7. Roberta explains to the rest of us who didn't have Mom's expertise just how to do this sort of thing. Others, from left to right: Ann, Mom, Candace (bending over), Abby.

  8. It's down time in the garden.

  9. Gardeners hard at work, arranging. Not sure what Dad is looking at over there.

  10. Aha! Dad was over by the chair that held the masses of cookies and coffee and so on that people brought in. It has to be admitted, every Monday morning, people bring in various food stuffs, so we do not starve as we labor from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. or later. Here, Abby demonstrates the half-eaten cookie.

  11. Mom might be on her second arrangement by now. That one was for the table.

  12. Candace and Roberta, the two co-leads until just recently, when Roberta stepped down and Abby stepped up.

  13. Abby, ever working herself, puts Dad to work spreading wood chips.

  14. "Over there, please ...!"

  15. Dad ended up hauling and distributing a good 25 wheelbarrow loads.

  16. Ann & our happy artichoke.

  17. One entrance to the garden is covered with a climbing rose, now with leaves turning color.

  18. Cool season crops: the red leaved-one is chard; the tall gray-green one is kale; not sure about the smaller lime-green leaves in ack - possibly some sort of leafy green that we cut-and-come-back -- meaning that we harvest the outside leaves and the plant keeps on producing. This is called the cut-and-come-back sort of helpful plant. Chard and kale are cut-and-come-back, too.

  19. Lower left: cabbage. Tall thingies: fava, which we plant as a leguminous cover crop. Legumes fix nitrogen and form these cool nodules along the roots. We chop them down just as they start to flower, and mix the green material into the soil - this is sometimes called "green manure". Between the nodules from the legume, and the green stuff which has lots of nitrogren in it, this method has the result of organically adding a lot of nitrogen to the soil. Plus there are many benefits of growing a cover crop rather than letting the soil sit idle: soil structure is improved by continued root growth; beneficial micro-organisms continue to thrive; so on and so forth.

  20. Chard and (?) fennel - not sure what the tall feathery plant is. Looks like fennel.

  21. Definitely fennel.

  22. Fava cover crop. I highly recommend planting cover crops over your dormant season! Rye is good for cool areas. They plant it in Siberia over the winter; it will germinate down to something crazy like 0 degrees Fahrenheit and survive and grow through blizzards.

  23. While I wander around admiring our garden and taking pictures, Dad is hard at work. Wel, someone has to work in the garden if we want to get anything done!

  24. Mom's arrangements are the two on the left.

  25. Close-up of other peoples' arrangements.

  26. Close-up of Mom's two arrangements.

  27. Dad was my Sweeping and Vaccuuming Helper. Here we see him using the dustpan to sweep up the carpet under the table (recall I have one table, the round one, which is the focal point for all activity).

  28. It's still Monday, December 17 ... Mom brought out the green tablecloth and holiday placeholders she brought me, and we placed the table arrangement in place.

  29. Close-up of table arrangement

  30. Close-up of mantelpiece arrangement. This photo does not do it justice. It lasted for weeks; I only recently put the materials into the yard waste recycling bin. I don't put twiggy stuff like this into my compost bin as it takes too long to break down. I mostly put only kitchen scraps (nitrogen-rich) and brown leaves (carbon-rich). You want to put in nitrogn and carbon 50% each by volume, to eventually get to the right N-C ratio for the garden, which is more like 10:1 carbon:nitrogen. To be frank, you still end up having to add supplemental nitrogen to a vegetable bed, usually in the form of (pure) alfalfa. I buy large bags of pure alfalfa pellets from the pet food stores. That would be your organic choice. Inorganic nitrogen supplements are also A-OK and fine by me. I am not dogmatic, but, organic supplements have lots of benefits other than adding the nitrogen -- they often contribute to soil structure, which a mineral wouldn't.

  31. Breakfast on Wednesday, December 19. We had speck from the Italian deli.

  32. Living room, pre-Christmas tree. You can see Mom's arrangement, on the left hand side of the mantelpiece.

  33. Let it be known that Mom was very busy at all times and only now and then took a nap!!! She cooked and baked up a storm, and helped decorate the house, and entertain the 25 people who came over for my open house the following Sunday, etc ...

  34. The Christmas tree arrived (they delivered it, thank goodness) but hasn't yet been decorated

  35. Dad gives up waiting for me, and just starts putting up the lights. This would be a couple days after the tree arrived ...

  36. Decorating the tree

  37. You can't see her, but that's Linda on the phone ... a package of cookies just arrived and we called her ...

  38. Relaxing

  39. Breaking into the cookie tin ... Lara helped make the cookies!

  40. Well that didn't take long

  41. Afternoon siesta. Note boxes of ornaments to Dad's right. That's about 1/3 of the boxes I brought in from the garage. I fully intend to start decorating any moment now ... and in any case, before Sunday, when 25 people are expected at my open house! It is now December 21, the Friday before ...

  42. Putting up the lights

  43. The star on top is Austrian

  44. The scholar at work. In front: the product of some of her labor. She made 3 batches of cookies for my open house. They were all eaten, and none by me, which rather put me out. so Mom later made a second batch of vanilla kipferl for me.

  45. My one outdoor light string, around the lamppost. LEDs.

  46. Karin, Nika and Ian drop by

  47. Posed photos are not always the most flattering

  48. "This punched coffee is excellent." My coffeemaker has been thus baptized.

  49. Dad installed a fabulout towel rack for me. A double rack! I always believe, you can't have too many towel racks.

  50. The fridge covered with photos of you-know-who, and demonstrating that I have a half-size fridge ...

  51. Making cookies

  52. Christmas Day

  53. Pictures of Lara and Ella have taken their place on the mantle

  54. Angel made by Mom, presented to Marianne

  55. Wreath and creche from Mom and Dad's visit to the southwest, years ago

  56. Beeswax creche made by a master gardener who keeps bees and makes honey and also molds from the beeswax

  57. Other decorations

  58. New decoration for the washer/dryer! Stop me when this gets too thrilling!

  59. Paperwhites start to sprout. December 25.

  60. Now comes the shots of what's growing my garden on Christmas. Here we have happy (edible) peas, and a sort of purple-colored green that is a red mustard, spicy, but not hot when you saute it or put it in a stir-fry.

  61. A couple morning glories linger on from the summertime

  62. I let everything, including these blue asters, go to seed

  63. Cauliflower - leftmost plant in the earthbox

  64. Don't ask me. Some volunteer sunflowers decided to grow over the fall and be in full bloom on Christmas Day. These are "babies" from the sunflowers I grew in my back patio in the summer. I know, because they look exactly the same as the sunflowers I grew, and i don't know where else they could have come from. I did let the sunflowers go to seed, and the squirrels harvested the seeds, and (I guess) buried some seed.

  65. My house is the one in back of the tall tree on the left, which is a privet

  66. In the winter, the privet is covered with thousands and thousands and millions of blue-purple berries that draw huge flocks of birds. The birds also then cause millions of privet volunteers to spring up in every garden for blocks around. Privets are therefore considered undesirable trees by master gardeners BUT I love it since A) it looks like a canonical tree, the sort of tree a little kid draws and B) I love the flocks of birds who visit the tree

  67. Looking at the clusters of privet berries

  68. Old orange tree across the driveway from my house

  69. Stanford's Arizona Cactus Garden, December 26

  70. At Stanford's Rodin Garden, outside the Cantor Museum

  71. At Lee and Bob's, my neighbors across the driveay. There are 10 little 2-BR houses arranged around a large U-shaped driveway, so, I have 9 immediate neighbors who I see quite a lot. I like this! December 27

  72. With Lee and Bob

  73. And now it's the photographer, on the left

  74. I asked Dad to fix my downspout

  75. It needed to be drilled back together. You can see the Butterfly Garden sign that Mom made for me last summer. This area in back of Dad is my butterfly garden, which is covered with wildflowers in spring and summer

  76. Selecting parts, from the very-well organized thingie that Dad put together when he was visiting me in San Carlos at one time

  77. Dad fixed a sticky kitchen drawer. Formerly unusuable, I now can use it

  78. Mom is an expert with a glue gun; she shows me how to make the Christmas tree angel ornaments

  79. The finished ornament

  80. Oops - almost finished - here's Mom doing the final step, painting the angel with a very slight hint of gold glitter

  81. Self-portrait of artist with her ornament

  82. Mom objects and takes a nicer picture of me

  83. Dad had been thinking about my iced-over fridge for two weeks, and decided to tackle it. He spent a good 4 hours or more -- I didn't realize how many icebergs have frozen in back, and that I had never been properly defrosting it. For whatever tragic reason, I have to defrost this puppy - thoroughly - one a month or every 6 weks or so. There are only two models to choose from if you want a half size fridge (which fits my kitchen perfectly and also is low-energy, and, big enough for me) so I just have to sigh and deal with the frequent defrosting. But now I know how to do it properly.

  84. With the hair dryer

  85. And the pot of steaming hot water and the towel

  86. It was quite a project ...! It is the evening of December 28, and they leave at 6 a.m. the next morning, meaning we get up at 3:30 a.m. ...

Marianne Mueller,
Last modified: Mon Jan 21 09:54:48 PST 2008