We have been eating whatever has come out of the garden: squash, kale, potatoes, eggplant, bok choy, and sugar-snap peas. Tonight Bryon made a stir-fry and served it with sauteed chicken on brown rice. Delicious!
This nest is located by the larger garage door. The young birds did not move while I pressed the shutter–I think they were too scared to do so. Nick took the second photo. See the bits of Buster’s fur that have been put to good use. These youngsters, however, fled the nest. They’re in the garage–and I’m pretty sure the parents are pretty upset with us. Needless to say that we did not take any more pictures, and the ladder went back into the closet!
Paparazzi 1347 Tavern Road, Alpine CA 91901 (619) 722-6751
Bryon and I took advantage of a rare day off to check out Paparazzi, a new restaurant in Alpine. This Italian cucina, located in the former Bread Basket, is casual enough for both a relaxed family dinner and a spur-of-the-moment date night. We enjoyed the laidback atmosphere, although the glare from nearby parked cars can be distracting.
Alexis, our server, was prompt and courteous. Bryon’s caprese stack contained fresh basil and pesto, and was nicely balanced. However, the potato salad that came with it needed a touch of something—vinegar, perhaps?—to save it from being forgettable. Although my mussel chowder was quite tasty, the pancetta overpowered the mussels. The spinach salad’s vinaigrette tied together the flavors of goat cheese, crisp pancetta, tomato, and toasted almond. This salad can be enjoyed as either a light lunch or a first course before dinner. The mushroom ravioli, which is finished with sage butter, would complement the salad well. The wine list is reasonably priced ($7-$15 per glass). If you saved room for dessert, you can choose from gelato from Little Italy or pastries.
We found our newest tenants on a shelf. “Maybe we should start charging rent,” he said. The birds chirped warnings, ordering us to go back inside. At least we didn’t demand construction plans submitted in triplicate prior to authorizing a new construction project.
Gardening assets are both tangible and intangible. There is not only the satisfaction of watching living beings thrive under a caring touch, but also the sheer pleasure of ripping out invasive species that would dare make themselves at home in your botanical refuge. Bryon’s patience, which far exceeds mine, plus a medicinal tincture of time, has yielded impressive results.
On the left side, front to back we have: tomatillos, eggplant, tomato plants, potato plants, and (by the chicken coop) beans.
Middle row: beet greens and Bordeaux spinach (lower left corner of photo); volunteer potato plants (right side of middle row); carrots; and shallots, eggplant, endive, and more potatoes.
Right row, front to back: spinach, collard greens, red Russian kale, Bloomsdale and monster spinach, carrots, bush peas and beans, pepper plants, bok choy and Napa cabbage, sorrel, leek, onions, and mixed greens. There are also assorted tomato and potato plants. At the other end of the garden you can see mixed greens, squash, and pumpkin. In the lower bed Bryon planted popcorn, potatoes, beans, cucumbers, and melons. Today Bryon harvested ten two-gallon bags of bok choy, lettuce, collard greens and kale. At California prices–$3.50/8 ounce bag–this would have cost $105.00 retail.
It took us nearly four years to get a permit to build the house on our property. Most of the delay was due to county bureaucrats citing concerns about potential adverse impacts on the environment. Our neighbors don’t see what all the fuss was about.
This is the nest I showed in my earlier piece. Note the bits of mop fragments and dog fur, which are also seen in the other nest over the other garage door opener.
We close the garage doors at night and keep a light on so the ladies can see where their nests are. We keep the chicken feed there. Climate control, security, and on-site catering: it’s the ultimate gated community. The guys spend the night outside and join them in the morning.
The four speckled eggs in the grapevine nest have hatched. Mom attempted to lead us away from her young. In a nearby plum tree an interloper unloaded a large egg for an unsuspecting foster mother. After I took photos Bryon removed the large egg to give the smaller ones an even chance.
There are other nests that I haven’t photographed: the hanging gourd in the back is very popular with sparrows. There is a nest behind the corner splashguard by the gutter, and the fire alarm always provides a home to a growing family or two. The eaves above the French doors have become very popular for swallows, although none of them have built a nest yet.
Nature: 1. “Environmentalists”: 0.