I miss my friend Tom. I have so much to tell him!

Today I’m making wild plum jam. In the past when I’ve made wild plum jam I’ve told Tom, via either email or Twitter and he’s said – “Wish I was there!” Or, “Send me a jar!” Or “Would love to taste it!” But Tom died a few months back, long before his time, so there’s no point in writing to him. Even though I’m tempted to do it anyway. I met Tom four or five years ago on Twitter and we became fast friends. My husband and I visited Tom and his wife, Ishbel, in London, well, Essex, actually. We had the most excellent wonderful adventures! But people get cancer and they die and it sucks.

Tom and I were mates, as in, I know that in numerous past lives we were best friends forever. Still are.

So Tom, I’m making wild plum jam. I’ll set aside a jar for you.

Oh, and here’s what I harvested earlier in the week:

fresh picked

I harvested so much cabbage I fed the neighborhood. I’ve dried jars and jars of cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, thyme. I’ve cut all the celery but one– the root stalks are already regrowing. The asparagus is done producing– I’m leaving the rest to provide food for the roots. My potatoes are ripe, harvested more today, along with a couple onions (boy have I given away onions) and some green garlic. My potatoes, red, purple, Yukon gold and russet are totally ready. I’m picking them as needed, along with lettuce and arugula. Now I just have to wait for the squash – kabocha, the only squash I will eat, my eggplant, my chilies and yes, my tomatoes. I broke down and planted a single tomato plant. It’s funny. Compared the the garden we had in Iowa, these beds look so small to me, and yet I literally produce enough to feed a couple dozen people. Plus it’s fruit season. The wild plums are ripe. My neighbor’s apricots are almost ready- they give them all to me. The blackberries look pretty good this year, although I need a suit of armor to pick them. I’ll get loads of peaches from another neighbor, not to mention my two apple trees and my quince.  Wow. I love growin’ stuff!

Oh! Big news! Mr. Robin did it! Well, actually his wife did it. Remember how he tried and tried to build a nest on my downspout? He succeeded. They succeeded.

So here’s what happened. Mr. and Mrs. Robin built a nest in one of our redwoods. They managed to raise one baby, a really cute speckly baby robin. Sturdy little thing. He’s been fluttering around my backyard with his dad, along with the baby towhee and his dad. They kinda hang together. Which is cute. Last week I was upstairs feeding my birds. Their cage is right next to our big sliding door which opens onto a small balcony off our master bedroom. I look out the door and there’s Mr. Robin on the railing, all puffed up. He was so proud of himself his head feathers were in this mohawk hairdo. He looked right at me and I swear he said to me– “And you said it couldn’t be done…”

The next day I happened to be outside playing with the dog when I heard a noise. I looked up and sure enough, he’d done it. I suspect his wife is the real architect. According to what I read the male robin brings nesting materials and the female figures out how to put them together. She’s up there sitting on her nest on my downspout right outside my kitchen window. I’ll try to get a photo but the nest is under the eaves so you can’t see much, but the fun thing is, I get to keep an eye on her. She’s already laid three eggs. She’s in the process of laying a fourth. It’s a real treat to watch robin behavior. The dad is still feeding the older kid while the mom sits on the nest most of the day. She leaves every couple hours for 20-30 minutes, I assume she heads off to get something to eat. But then I worry, what if one of the neighborhood cats gets her? Scares me when she’s gone too long. My yard is safe but there are three cats stalking the court. Fortunately two of them are super fat. The skinny one concerns me.

Here’s the best photo I can get. Click to enlarge. Yeah, she’s laying an egg.


That’s all the news! Miss you, Tom! XOXO!

P.S. Jake and I went for a hike to day and after I got home I found a tick crawling in my hair. Ewwwww! I hate ticks!


18 thoughts on “I miss my friend Tom. I have so much to tell him!

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    Sounds as if you have the energy – and are enjoying using it.

    How on earth can you tell how many eggs are in the robin next, and that she’s trying for another? Do they behave differently when laying – or just make a fuss and celebrate noisily?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      LOL! Yes, when they lay an egg they get all hunched over. My parrot has laid eggs before. They act a little weird. When she’s just sitting on the nest she’s very relaxed. I have more energy now that my foot doesn’t hurt as much and I’m not fainting! Which is another funny story. For later…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        Glad you’re getting around better, and thanks for the information about birds and eggs – I’m a city girl who spent her childhood with her nose in a book.

        I DID, however, grow broccoli and celery and greenbeans in graduate school (for food), so I’m not a total ignoramus.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        The caterpillar is the cabbage loopworm. If you want to grow broccoli without getting the little green caterpillars, you MUST use Thuricide, exactly as it says on the bottle.

        It is a biological agent the interferes with their development (ie, kills them at a very young stage). It biodegrades quickly, and you have to buy a new bottle every season, and spray it on at the right time.

        It doesn’t harm humans, or other insects, or leave a residue on the broccoli (but you put it on BEFORE the florets develop).

        The commercial growers use it. Of the pest controls, it is one of the best because it is targeted and then decomposes.

        I love broccoli – and finding worms in it turns my stomach.

        Them’s your choices.

        (Note: this advice is from when I was in grad school – there may be differences – but that stuff worked.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Roberta

    Tom heard you and loved the wild plum. He says, “Thank you.”
    You have been busy and now enjoying the fruits of your work. How nice to have fresh veggies so close. YUM. And jealous too. 🙂 🙂 🙂
    I can see the nest very well. Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rayplasse

    I’m sorry about your friend Tom, Julia. I have been fortunate to have not lost a close friend yet but at my age the time is soon coming. As for the tick thing………….ewwwwwww…………! The birdie thing is very cute! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Yeah, ticks… ewwwwww! Thanks, Ray. In all my life I’ve had two best friends, you know, real soulmate BFFs, aside from my family. Both died young. That’s not counting my horse, Image, and my dog, Louie, Jake’s predecessor. They both died young too. I figure when the time comes I’ll ride into heaven on Image accompanied by Louie. :)) That’s my plan, anyway!
      Yes, those robins are quite a pair!


    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Thanks, Sandra! I’m wondering how many new babies she’ll have and if they can keep them alive. As long as they stay around my yard… Loads of cats elsewhere.



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