Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas at Wellington 2011

Our second Christmas in Wellington was memorable in so many ways.  Regular readers will remember the pine cone bird saga.  On a walk with The Hub, I found this pine cone half buried in the dirt.  When I picked it up it was already shaped like a delightful bird, with the "beak" in front rather than on top, like a normal pine cone.  I flocked it and made some feet out of heavy gauge wire.  When The Little Boy came home from sleep away school he let me steal this tiny hat off of his caramel apple.  You know your son loves you if he doesn't make a fuss when you steal the tiny hat off of his caramel apple.  And now my pine cone bird has a friend!  The Dot's bird that she bought at Romancing the Home.  Are they a cute little pair?

Here is a little section of the Glitter House village.  That's mini Wellington on the far left.  The pink house in front was the first Glitter House I made.  The church on the right was purchased at an after-Christmas sale last year.  And I bought some teeny tree lights at Benicia Bay Company to light up my bristle trees.  It was really cute.  (There is one more purchased Glitter House not pictured that is on the left.)

Here is the view looking through the French Doors from the library.

This is how the Christmas Cake turned out this year.  I put it on this little Christmas platter then covered it with a glass bowl, to keep the dust off.  It looked like a huge snow globe.  I was very happy with it.  We brought it to The Hub's brother's house on Christmas and left it there for them to enjoy.  It's iced with a layer of marzipan, then royal icing.  (Seriously, it's good.  But we prefer ours bald.)

This is a present I got from my dear friend, Cindy.  It's so perfect for me because not only do I collect tea pots, but I love birds.  This teapot has a chickadee painted on the front, and on the tray below, plus it has a little chickadee handle.  Very cute!
Here is our Christmas dinner table that we enjoyed on Christmas Eve since we went to The Hub's brother's house for Christmas dinner.  Last year, The Dot bought these crackers and we each got two!  Mine smelled like crayons and when I opened it, it had crayons inside!  The Hub got a harmonica.  The Dot got a magic trick and The Little Boy got a metal ring puzzle.  I can't remember the rest, but they were fun.  We wore the paper hats too. 

People who have known me a while will recall that I make a new stocking for The Hub every year.  It all started in about 1984 or 1985 when I discovered that he didn't have a stocking of his own.  We were just dating then.  I made him a little stocking out of felt.  The next year I made him another stocking and a tradition was formed.  This year I think it's about the 26th or 27th stocking.  Plus I made one for each of the kids the year they were born.  The stocking above is this year's stocking.  It's reverse applique, white underneath.  The holly is attached with two red jingle bells - one tiny and one medium-tiny.  There's also a little Santa-shaped bell hanging from under the cuff on the right by the ribbon loop.  You can't see it too well in this picture.  It look like a little snowflake, but it's a Santa bell I bought when The Dot and I went to the Dickens Christmas Faire in San Francisco earlier this month.  Of course Santa filled this stocking to over-flowing.  The Hub is spoiled.

Here is our Christmas tree.  It's beautiful!  It is very full with a kind of flat top that was perfect for our topper - a white metal rocking horse strung with white twinkly lights.  It used to be a table top decoration but one year The Hub strung lights through it and shoved it on top of the tree and there it has stayed, year after year.

And now I'm trying to learn all of my new electronics, which include an espresso maker (thanks Hub), a portable DVD player (thanks Sis) and a fabulous mp3 player (thanks Dot).  I'm always tempted to wing it when it comes to electronics, but it seems that they just get more and more complicated and I would miss out on all of their features if I didn't take the time to learn them.  So that is what I'm doing this week in between eating all the delicious food, trying to roll myself off the couch and sucking in my pot belly as The Hub walks by.  Luckily New Years Resolutions are right around the corner.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas in Benicia

I have never lived in a place that does Christmas as well as Benicia.  Last weekend was the Christmas Tree Lighting which I would like to proclaim as a huge success.  Here are the pics to prove it.

Many of the shops on 1st Street had beautiful displays.  This is the Camelia Tea Room.
Here is the Blue Goose Antique Store.

Sailor Jack's.

The end of 1st Street where the palm trees along the water are decked out in twinklies.

The Depot with the holiday crowd.  You can't see it, but they're there.  The Youth Commission was treating everyone to cookies and cider.  You could buy wine if you wanted.

And the finale:  The Tree Lighting.  Accompanied by Kris Kringle and the Mistletoes.  They were very festive.  A good time was had by all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Arbor Walk in Autumn, and the Santa Ana Winds

Some people may not believe it, but it's autumn in Benicia. It's December 2. Almost winter, even. But if you were in Benicia you would think it was May. It was 74° today. SEVENTY-FOUR. It's on account of what I like to call the Santa Ana Winds.

For those of you who don't live in California, Santa Ana Winds, according to the US National Weather Service are "Strong down slope winds that blow through the mountain passes in southern California. These winds, which can easily exceed 40 mph, are warm and dry and can severely exacerbate brush or forest fires, especially under drought conditions." They come from Southern California all the way up here to Northern California. Wednesday was cold, cold, cold. I got home from the gym and almost froze to death before I could change out of my damp clothes. It took me forever to warm up. I finally had to take a bath (rats) in Wellington's soaker tub. It's a jetless Jacuzzi. It's deep and contoured and I love it way too much.  My second favorite is the rain shower head.  Then, Wednesday night when I went outside, the winds had started up and they were warm.  It's probably 20° warmer today. And tomorrow will be 20° cooler.

But for now, we're reveling in the mild climate.  We're spending every possible moment outside.  Dot and I walked downtown (some of us bought some vintage ornaments, pics to follow), the cat is lying on the warm porch.  And later this evening is the Benicia Christmas Tree Lighting.  I'm thinking there will be a great turnout this year.  Last year, which was our first in Benicia, we went a little late.  We missed most of the ceremony.  Mostly what we got was rollicking hoodlums showing off for each other and forgetting that other people are trying to walk down the street, for crying out loud.
Fingers crossed that they've either learned better manners or they'll be busy elsewhere because Dot and I are going!

These are pictures of the Arbor Walk in Autumn.  As loyal readers will recall, this is the first autumn for the Arbor Walk and I'm happy to report that it is chock-full of autumnal beauty.

The persimmon tree was beautiful but was disappointingly leafless by the time I took the pictures.  All the reds in these photos come from the snowball bushes and the weeping Japanese Maples.

And what's up with this Daphne?  Blooming in December?  That aloe is from Morningsun Herb Farm and is very happy in this little succulent patch.

The magnolia is still very happy, even though it's no longer blooming.  He needs a rest now and then so he can grow big and tall.  Not too tall, though, since he's outside my kitchen window.
I'm going to go see if I can locate The Dot and drag her downtown for the tree lighting.  She's a little disappointed in the weather on account of being a stickler for weather acting the way it's supposed to.  She would like chilly and foggy.  I'd rather be comfortable and pretend it's winter at Wellington.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Seriously Martha Stewart

Seriously, Martha Stewart? 

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I just got the 1995 Martha Stewart Christmas book at the library.  The Dot and I love to look at Christmas Craft books at Christmas.  That might seem obvious, but one of us (I'm not saying which) would look at Christmas Craft books on Veterans Day.  Alright, both of us would.  But since Christmas is almost here, the time seemed right.

I'm sure there are plenty of great ideas in this book.  There are lots of festive pictures and illustrated instructions.  And I do my fair share of baking, sewing, knitting and general crafting, so I'm not easily put off.  But, come on.

On page 15 she shows a very nice swag made of green, red and orange leaves.  Perfect.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm decorating Wellington, so maybe I'll give this one a shot.  In the first sentence, you're told that this is a "more temporary decoration".  You simply use very fresh leaves (because they soon start wilting and you have to throw it away), take some green cotton thread and sew the leaves together.  One by one.  Then throw it away.  Because it will look like lawn-rakings.

I love the succulent wreath.  But you have to buy a wire frame and a huge bunch of "sphagnum moss", which you then have to soak overnight (I'm already lost because I don't have the attention span.)  The next day if you didn't already lose interest (I did), you put some soil on top of the moss and frame, then wrap the moss around it, tie it with wire, then poke holes all around the moss.  It isn't until this point that she mentions that your "cuttings" (where do you get these "cuttings"?) should be "callused."  So I should have stolen them from my neighbors last week and I didn't.

There's one page that shows a lovely fruit-themed tree.  She has actually tied real grapes onto this tree with ribbon.  My grapes are already moldy and I just bought them yesterday.  There's no way I'm going to have a moldy-fruit-themed tree in my house and it isn't just on account of the ants.  What's Christmassy about that?

The cookie recipes are doable.  I'll probably give them a try.

On page 76, Martha explains how to make a "Keepsake Box".  It's a lovely gold pyramid with a bead and ribbon coming out the top.  I think you put stuff inside.  I could put one of my truffles inside and give it to the neighbor whose cuttings I stole for the sphagum-moss wreath.  Step 1:  using a compass (??), draw a circle with a 2" radius on cardboard.  From the center, mark five 72° segments on the perimeter with a protractor.  (More gibberish here.)  "Open compass the length of one side, place its point at b and draw an arc.  From c draw an arc intersecting the first . . . extend a straight line from center a through d to point e 9 inches from a . . . "  I'm not kidding.  There's more, and it includes an X-Acto knife.  And this is all just step one.  I'm not that desperate for a truffle box.

But, the best bit in the book, better than making your own candles, using potatoes for rubber stamps or sewing your gift bags closed with a needle and thread, is the Acorn Box.  First of all, you have to decide what you can give someone that would fit inside an acorn.  Then:  "Gently remove the cap from a newly fallen acorn.  Carve out the white circle underneath and remove the soft meat . . wrap fine-grade sandpaper around a pencil eraser and smooth the inside . . STAIN THE OUTSIDE WITH WOOD STAIN . . . select a cork that snugly fits . . . "  Seriously?

Here's a link to Martha's Thanksgiving site.  In her defense, this book is from 1995.   Her publications seem to have become more practical lately for some reason.

Gobble gobble.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Cakes!

For the past 25 years I have been using a Christmas Cake recipe from The Farmhouse Kitchen by Mary Norwak.  This book is so old, I can't find a picture of it online and since I'm too lazy to take a picture and upload it, you'll just have to imagine.  I found this book on a sale table in front of a grocery store in about 1986.  It's absolutely delightfully chock full of English photos and English recipes that require translation. 

The messiest page is 209 which includes Special Christmas Cake.  (For those who don't cook:  messy = well used.)  Interestingly, it also includes Miss Pedeltys Christmas Cake which I haven't tried.  Yet.  Even though it has a much more whimsical name.  I have a feeling Miss Pedelty was a teetotaler.  I notice a lack of (much) brandy in that recipe, which means that I probably won't be trying it.  Because you absolutely have to have brandy in your Christmas Cake or else, what's the point?  Not only that, but you make them early and let them ripen in a puddle of brandy.  So there.

It's not so much a puddle as a basting

UPDATE:  One of my loyal readers has written and requested Miss Pedelty's Christmas Cake (see comments below) so I am publishing it here.  I'm sorry if I'm in violation of copyright laws but this person has tried in vain to find the recipe.  So here it is:

8 oz butter
8 oz Demerara sugar
5 eggs
10oz plain flour
2 oz ground almonds
8 oz sultanas
8 oz currants
4 oz peel
4 oz glace cherries
2 oz chopped almonds
1 tsp mixed spice
1 grated orange rind
1 grated lemon rind
1.5 fl oz rum
1/4 pint milk

Mix like the previous cake (cream together butter and sugars til light and fluffy.  Beat eggs well and add gradually with a little of the sifted flour and spices.  Fold in the rest of the ingredients.  Turn into prepared tin and make a slight hollow in the center.) bake for 2.5 to 3 hours at 325° F, 170° C, gas mark 3.  This makes a nice Christmas cake which will keep moist for a long time.

And since I put that recipe in, I may as well include the recipe I use, which is called:

Special Christmas Cake (In parenthesis I have included the conversion and doubled the recipe, which is the way I make mine every Christmas)

10oz butter (2 1/2 C)
5 oz caster sugar (1 1/4 C)
5 oz light soft brown sugar (1 1/4 C)
5 eggs (10)
12 oz plain flour, sifted (3 C)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (1 t)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (1 1/2 t)
8 oz currants (2 C)
8 oz sultanas (2 C)
8 oz seedless raisins (2 C)
4 oz glace cherries - quartered (1 C)
4 oz chopped candied peel (1 C)
1 lemon (2)
4 oz chopped walnuts (1 C)
2 T brandy (4 T)

Grease and line an eight-inch tin (2 tins) and tie a band of brown paper round the outside. (Follow steps from above recipe.) Bake at 300° F, 150° C, gas mark 2 for two hours, then reduce heat to 275° F, 140° C, gas mark 1 for two hours.  Cover top with a sheet of paper if getting too brown.  Keep for three weeks before cutting.  This makes a lovely moist cake.

So I made my Christmas Cakes a couple of weeks ago, dribbled brandy all over them and wrapped them up.  That's when I noticed that sometime between moving out of the old house we had lived in for 21 years, moving to our interim residence, then finally (FINALLY) into Wellington, I seem to have misplaced my Christmas cake tin.  It's not that I didn't make the cakes last year (I did).  I was just on cloud nine and must not have noticed the tins were missing.  But this year I've noticed and there can only be two explanations.  1.  they're in the garage somewhere; 2.  The Hub donated them to someone else.  I'm guessing #2.  It's my belief that you can never have too many tins, and in this belief I am apparently alone when it comes to my marriage.  So I say it's time to shop for a new old tin.  Until then, they are napping in my Tupperware cake keeper.  I have a feeling that's where last year's cakes spent a good part of their holiday season, but it's mostly a blur so I can't be sure.

Speaking of Christmas Cakes, I am currently reading a book entitled An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor.  It's very evocative which is the whole point of Christmas stories.  One scene in this book deals with the cook showing a woman how she decorates her Christmas Cakes.  I follow a very similar method.   First I roll out a layer of marzipan.  Then I mold it over the cake.  Then I make a royal icing and spread it on.  Finally I create a snow scene with tiny Christmas ornaments I save year after year.

But for now, the Christmas Cakes are ripening in the pantry in my Tupperware container.  I'll add an update once they're decorated which should be around December 20.  Or if I manage to find new tins.  (For those who aren't British:  Christmas Cake = fruit cake.)  (I'm only British by marriage.)  (But I'm counting it, especially at Christmas.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quonset Hut Update 2

Readers of The Blog will remember that around the corner on East K Street, there is construction going on!  This is our gorgeous, historic City Hall building.  There used to be two quonset huts in front, so you couldn't even appreciate this architecture.  They have been torn down and the parking lot is being rebuilt (see original post here ).  Solar panels are also in the works.  It will be a definite improvement.

It already is.  Because look!  Those are the new steps coming up from East K Street.  It used to be when you walked along East K street you had to move as quickly as possible so as not to be buried under ruble created by the collapse of the damaged retaining walls.  I would say this is way better.

And you can appreciate how gorgeous the old Benicia High School (now our City Hall) truly is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Autumn Trees

The trees in this post are from my Mom and Sister's house.  I love autumn and I love trees, so it stands to reason that I love autumn trees.  The one above is an elm.  It's at least 40 years old.  Mom has been told it's the oldest elm in the county!

Here are a couple of birch trees.  My sister's favorite.

A Japanese Maple.  They have a lot of these.  One of them I grew from a little baby seed.  It's now six feet tall!  (It's in the back.)

I have no idea what this one is.  There are four in their driveway.  Update:  It's a Chinese Elm.

Here is a view up the street.  Is this so gorgeous?  The tree to the left is a fig tree.  My mom was just telling me that she had recently seen some wild turkeys IN the tree, eating the late-season figs. . .

. . . when suddenly, the turkeys came around the corner! 

It was a beautiful day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Geese and Scotch Pines

I've always loved the honking of geese.  Even in the place we lived right before moving to Wellington, where I was unhappy, I remember a wintry morning huddled in bed, trying to keep warm.  I could hear the honking through the thin aluminum-framed window, wet with condensation (I know the object is lost in this sentence, but you can apply it to me or the window - it doesn't matter which.).  Outside was icy and grey.  The flock of geese flew low, in and out of clouds.  It was beautiful.

But today!  It's barely cool.  The sun is shining.  I'm living in WELLINGTON.  I was on my front porch admiring my Halloween decorations and taking pictures to show The Little Boy who's still at sleep-away school.  I heard the geese, as I often do.  We are a waterfront community, after all.  I snapped a pic just as they were leaving.

This poor little Christmas tree.  What Christmas tree, you ask?  It's hidden in this pot.  I've written before about the flock that covered it last Christmas.  How it has been trying for almost a year to slough off that flock.  Here he is, almost ready for his season, and this MUM that was only a snippet from my neighbor-friend's garden is positively DWARFING. him.  It's trying to steal the spotlight!  How did it get so huge?  It's a mum, for crying out loud.  If it wasn't about to bloom I would cut off its head.  But it better get around to it soon because Christmas is right around the corner and I'm not letting any old mum steal my poor little scotch pine's glory.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

$7 Magnolia and Arbor Walk Update 4

Loyal readers of The Blog will remember this magnolia we bought for $7 this summer because it only had four leaves and needed us.  Look at it now!  It's positively blooming!

And this is what the Arbor Walk looks like now.  I just love this peaceful area any time of day.

The guara that my Master Gardener friend said we would regret planting is looking beautiful.  It was salvaged from what little landscape was in the front under the waist-high crab grass when we moved in.  We just couldn't throw it away.  I figure if it gets out of hand we can always dig it up later.  It's not brain surgery.

Speaking of things that aren't brain surgery, many of you will recall the Hibiscus Quest when the new turtle came to live at Wellington.  A nice new friend across town let me clip off a long stalk of her hibiscus so that we could get that poor little turtle to eat something.  She never did (don't worry, she's alive but we sent her back to the breeder who treated her ailments and sent us a healthy turtle who's name is Pica because she won't STOP eating).  But that hibiscus twig started to root in its glass of water, so I shoved it in this little pot.  Actually, he just got planted today.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Andy's Nut

Outide my office window I have a perfect view of this telephone wire that serves as a highway for a little squirrel called Andy.  Every autumn (this is our second autumn at Wellington!) he spends the entire day shuffling along this wire.  He heads toward the right nutless,

and comes back nutfull!  There is a large walnut tree two doors up, and I'm inclined to think that is where he harvests his yearly stash.  He's very cute!  Sometimes there are two Andys on the same wire, which is very confusing.  Also for the squirrels.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quonset Hut Demolition - East K Street

Here is the update on the quonset hut demolition that is underway at Benicia City Hall parking lot on East K Street.  The plan is to tear down the quonset huts and repair the parking lot, then add solar panels as a means of revenue, energy and shade.
photo above courtesy of benicia history preservation and review committee

These Google Map photos show the quonset huts prior to demolition.

It's not going to look bad.  I saw the artist's rendering, and it will be a definite improvement.  Although I could appreciate the history and quaintness of the quonset huts, let's face it.  They were ugly.  In the above photo, you can really see that precarious retaining wall.  Below is a photo taken September 19.  I was almost run over by a dump truck while I was taking this photo.
It's a shame they had to chop down so many sycamore trees.

For a more comprehensive overview of the project, go here. (I'm too lazy.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dinner Time!

My favorite magazine (Real Simple) has a great article this month.  It's called "A Month of Easy Dinners."  I generally cook dinner at least five times a week (only because I like to) and like most people who do the same, I often get stuck in a rut.  I have a lot meals I rotate in, but it seems like we're eating the same meals more often than I like.  So this idea really appealed to me.
Somehow I'm really good at timing.  More often than not I get dinner on the table at six o'clock on the dot.  I guess because I've been doing it so long.  That's one reason why I love the way they have organized this plan.  There is a pull-out grocery list for everything you need week-by-week.   Meals are organized so that you use the most perishable items earlier in the week and the total prep time is given for each night. 

So far we have had Monday and Tuesday's dinners of week one.  Monday was salmon with green beans, carrots and baby bok choy.  There was an Asian Chili sauce on the side.  I am trying not to substitute if I can help it.  This way I will expand my culinary experience.  I already know how to cook like me.  The salmon was cooked on a skillet (I ususally broil) with kosher salt and pretty much nothing else.  I never would have tried baby bok choy.  And the Asian Chili sauce was a great accompaniment.  Four stars!

Tuesday was supposed to be roast beef panini with tomato soup.  Since it was in the 90s at Wellington today, I substituted a cole slaw for the soup.  But since I'm trying to use their recipes, I used a cole slaw from week four which was completely different from my own.  I'm hoping when it comes time to make the cole slaw from week four we will either feel like it again, or I can shove in the tomato soup.  The panini had freshly sliced roast beef, which I don't normally buy, baby arugala and a condiment of sour cream (I did substisute Greek yogurt) and horse radish.  The cole slaw had no sugar (I always use sugar) and was made with Napa cabbage, mint, fresh ginger, sesames and olive oil.  Four stars again!

Isn't this fun?  YES!

The View From My Morning Cup of Tea

This is what I look at while working at my desk in the morning.  The only difference in the afternoon is the shadows come from the right.  I love this view.  The new Community Center just opened up one block over and across the street.  The traffic has increased some, but the foot traffic has shot way up.  Benicia is a walking town, and many people walk to and from the Community Center to take various classes.  I love watching them walk by.  Once there was a little blond girl in a pink tutu followed by her mother who was filming her.  The little girl was arabesque-ing and pirouetting her way to ballet class.

Sometimes someone will walk by and stop to admire my little Wellington.  At least that's what I'm imagining they're doing.  Our street is looking so great.  The eye sore that was across the street and to the left in this picture is now pretty cute.  It was a mess when we moved in.  There were renters in there who really didn't take any pride in keeping this house up.  They have a cyclone fence, which wouldn't be so bad, but they had two big labs in there that barked every time someone went by.  There were weeds everywhere.  Old furniture was strewn about.  There was a huge dead tree.  The people spent most days on the front porch smoking.  It wasn't very nice and it wasn't very private for us when we wanted to be in our front yard.  I felt like we were their entertainment.  They finally moved out and then the property manager (what took him so long?) came over and cleaned the place up.  He had the tree cut down, painted the house, tore out carpet, replaced sheetrock and appliances (those guys were a disaster) and moved in a nice quiet little family!  They have nice porch furniture, potted plants and a brand new mailbox.

And don't forget, the library is right up the street!  Who could ask for more?  Life is good at Wellington.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Trees of Wellington

Wellington's trees have been growing lately. I thought they deserved a post of their own. Look at all of them in the front! Left to right: Pittosporum, Red Bud, Crepe Myrtle, Japanese Maple and Southern Oak.

In this little pot is a mini Blue Spruce we got last year and had on our table. The poor little thing was flocked. He's been spending all year trying to slough off that flock. He's kind of hard to see in the pot. It also has wild forget-me-nots from Mendocino, ivy nasturtium and, in the back and too tall, some sort of mum I took from a neighbor's plant. The Spruce is in the middle and he's getting some lights this Christmas. Some day he'll be big enough to go in the ground.

This is one of the few trees that has been here longer than our family. It's a Japanese Maple with its own pumpkin patch beneath. It has really grown this year. It's very excited for Halloween. This is its first pumpkin patch.

This is the Southern Live Oak we put in last year. We topped it off because it was long and gangly with a bendy top that needed topping. You can just see the new row of sedum we put in on top of the cobble wall. It's going to be gorgeous next year. It's large and interesting with three different textures. The oak has really filled out and I'm very happy with it.

Here are the two plum Crepe Myrtles. They're just about done blooming. I think they have doubled in size this year.

This is the Forest Pansy Red Bud we put in last year. It doesn't like hot wind, but otherwise it is doing well. It starts off red and goes green. It's almost all green now!

Here is our cherry tree. It's a dwarf and was really small when we put it in. It looks really happy. I think we got six cherries off of it this year. All edible.

Poor Figgy got a huge hair cut this year. He lost about half his girth. But we got lots of figs off of him and I made fig jam! It was green. He is a very messy tree. He has been here for years and years. I love him.

This is a little Norfolk pine tree we had out on our balcony last year. It doesn't like too much sun, so it's under the fig tree.

This is an Arbutus Marina, or strawberry tree. It was new when we moved in. We probably wouldn't have chosen it, or put it where it is. But we would have been wrong, because it's great. It has red, pealy bark and the coolest little pink cascades of flowers. It's getting fruit this year. Supposedly it's almost edible. I'll let you know. Or not.

This little Japanese Maple I plucked from the roadway when he was two inches tall the week before we moved in. I actually plucked four different Japanese Maples from all sorts of roadways that day, hoping one would take. One did. This is it. It's about five feet tall and sort of gangly. But he's only 16 months old.

Speaking of plucking from the roadway, right after we moved into Wellington I plucked this little guy from along East 3rd Street. I put him in a pot when he was about five inches high. When he was about 14 inches high I brought him to the nursery to see what he was. The nursery man said: 1. he's an ash; 2. you don't want him. Wrong. Apparently this type of ash is prone to disease. They use it for the root graft of the Raywood Ash. He looks great in this pot and so far no disease.

This is my poor little stunted bay tree. He is about 20 years old. Well maybe 15. He spent most of his life in a pot and didn't get near enough water. But he's a feisty little guy and is finally in the ground where he can flourish! Soon he will be huddling up to my chicken coop. I use his leaves for cooking all the time. He doesn't mind. That's what they're for.

Here is the oldest tree on the planet. Not this particular one, which I got at Morningsun Herb Farm (my favorite place to buy plants) when he was a stick. He's still not much more than a stick. But soon he will be glorious because that's what Ginkgo Baloba trees are. The little yellow flower in front of him is a begonia that I quickly shoved in the ground after I tried to kill it by keeping it as a house plant. It died back but now look! Flowers!

We have two of these weeping Japanese Maples in the Arbor Walk. They were on sale when they were bald last year. They are very happy in their new home.

This is Olive the Olive Tree. She has grown about two feet since we put her in about four months ago. She is very wispy and graceful plus fruitless. It's a good combination.

When we got Olive we also got this Magnolia tree which had about six shriveled leaves. We weren't shopping for a Magnolia tree but this one needed us and PLUS he was only $7 on account of being on his last legs. He's positively THRIVING. No flowers yet.

This could be my favorite tree of the bunch. No, probably not very favorite - there are so many. But I love it. It's a Persimmon tree. It had one persimmon on it, but once it got to be about the size of a dime it fell off. He's too young, that's why. He's only been in the ground since about July. He's very happy there, and there's always next year. Besides persimmons are not what I would consider particularly edible. I'm planning on using them for baking.

This is my peach tree which had about six barely edible peaches this year. I also have a lemon tree, an apple tree and an apricot tree along this fence. I'm saving them for The Trees of Wellington Post Two, which will include UPDATES on these trees and their progress which I'm hoping will all be in the upward direction with lots of edible fruit.