Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Rosy World of Our Patio

While the front yard roses are just starting their first bloom of the year, the backyard blooms are done.

It's time for the first deadhead of the year.

At the top, 'Moonstone' and it's unknown yellow companion display dozens of spent flower. Chop! Off the go.

Mr. Lincoln is also looking a little peaked. Much better after a much-needed haircut.

Not to be outdone by the roses, our spicy hot red chiles are getting a little rangy. Cutting it back to the new growth with help it produce another bumper crop...we've still got hundreds of dried chiles from last year waiting to be used.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 28, 2014

TRIP REPORT: The Inland Empire, Southern California - Part 2

In Part 1 of this report, we did a little exploration of the area in the neighborhood of Ontario International Aiport (ONT).  Now, we're going to explore beyond and see what the rest of the Inland Empire has to offer...

As complete and busy as Ontario is, I think I’d still prefer to stay somewhere else.  Just to the west of Ontario is the college town of Claremont.  A shady, tree lined and beautiful suburb nestled at the junction of superb transit connections surrounded by great shops, restaurants, and campuses that’ll make you think you’re in the Ivy League.  My choice here would be to stay at the DoubleTree Hotel on the corner of Foothill and Indian Hill Boulevards. 

This large hotel with expansive grounds sits right on Route 66.  The adjacent shopping center has a Trader Joe’s, a Buca de Beppo, and a nice Mexican restaurant with a patio to sip margaritas on.
A few easy blocks to the south is the Village, the heart of Claremont.  An upscale collection of shops and restaurants surround the Laemmle Theatre, where art films are shown alongside the latest blockbusters.  Before the movie, have some artisan bread at Le Pain Quotidien.  Afterwards have the awesome and expensive Back Abbey burger along with some great Belgian brew and fries in the alley behind the theater but for a more reasonable, and equally good, place for burgers and microbrews, head south a hundred yards to Eureka! Gourmet Burgers and Beer for what we consider the best burgers in Southern California.
For dessert, wander a block east to have one of the custom creations at Bert & Rocky’s Ice Cream parlor.

If you need to work off those calories, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden offers miles of trails through beautiful gardens that are planted with 100% California native plant.  Those trails are also wheelchair accessible and the entrance is located at an easy-to-get-to spot on Foothill Bl., just east of Indian Hill Bl.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Oakshade under CC-BY-SA license
Getting out of town is easy here, at the south end of the Village is the historic train depot, now served by Metrolink.  Wheelchair accessible commuter trains run through here seven days a week, providing easy access to downtown Los Angeles to the west and San Bernardino to the east.  In front of the station, the accessible buses of Foothill Transit offer more connections to points like Old Pasadena, Los Angeles, and the cities along route 66.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Eeekster under CC-BY license

If you’re a skier, a 30 minute drive north up Mills Avenue will put you at the slopes of Mt. Baldy, the closest ski area to Los Angeles.  Water sports lovers will be a little confined at Puddingstone Lake at Bonelli Park, just a little southwest of here between La Verne and Pomona.  Gamblers might like to take in the action of horse races at the Finish Line Sports Grill in the White Avenue parking lot any time of the year for off-track betting.  It's located along the border of La Verne and Pomona.
Speaking of La Verne, locals know that this is one of the best pizza towns around. College students like to hang out at Warehouse Pizza on the corner of Bonita and D Street.  Great pizza, sandwiches, and beer can be consumed on their excellent outdoor patio.  North on D, at the corner of Foothill Blvd., is The Pizza Barn where another delicious pizza awaits you in the drafty dining hall.  For a more sit-down experience, Pizza ‘n Stuff serves another great pie in the Von’s center at the corner of Foothill and Wheeler Avenue.
While many locals have their favorite spots, for me all the La Verne pizza places are good but one rises above the rest, Joey’s Red Devil Pizza in the CVS shopping center on the north side of Foothill and Wheeler (directly across from Pizza ‘n Stuff).

Starting off with their worn but comfortable dining room surrounded by Mafia and rock 'n roll knick knacks, we start off with a pitcher of great Hefeweizen while watching sports on one of the five flat screens.  Not on the menu is their cheese and jalapeno breadsticks that will just melt in your mouth with the cup of ranch dressing they bring on the side.  It’s topped off with the best pepperoni, sausage, and American bacon pizza you’re likely to ever have.  The pasta carbonara is also among the best we’ve had. 
The dining room is small but there are 3 or 4 tables that a wheelchair can squeeze into.

At the other end of the IE, Riverside is like a faded jewel waiting for its comeback.  Centered around the magnificent Mission Inn Hotel, downtown Riverside has great restaurants sitting beside homeless encampments, government buildings and the county jail.  Not quite ready for its closeup but getting close.  One sign is that the beautiful Fox Theater has just been restored and is now hosting great events just up the block from the Mission Inn.
Heading back west from Riverside on the 60 freeway at the intersection of the 15, amid all the industrial buildings just south of the freeway is a slice of old California.  Galleano Winery still makes wine from local zinfandel grapes.
Cucamonga Valley is one of the state’s oldest wine making areas.  Developmental pressures from nearby Los Angeles has all but wiped out the local industry just leaving a couple of hardy, never-say-die old school winemakers left.
One of those is Don Galleano, who runs his family’s wine making operation.  50 acres of grapes on one side and the warehouses and factories of Riverside County on the other.  In between is the old farm with its barns, houses, and a small zoo.  The little tasting room offers plenty of great tasting wine.  We like to buy a bottle and relax under the trees at their little picnic area next to the animals.
It’s also helpful to pick up a coupon here and take it over to Centro Basco, about 5 miles east of here in Chino.  Another relic of the past, this Basque restaurant serves hearty European fare in their dining rooms.  Give the waiter your coupon and receive a free glass of Galleano wine.  Then sit back as course after course of delicious food is brought to your table…soup, salad, bread, pasta, pickled tongue, cheese, steak, vegetables, and French fries.
After this hearty and delicious dinner, we head back home to think about what we’ll do next in this unknown but fun and historic area of Southern California.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 25, 2014

TRIP REPORT: The Inland Empire, Southern California

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Jessie Terwiliger under CC-BY licence
On the OC, it was known as the 909. Growing up years ago in L.A., we knew it as the “sticks.” We now know better…

On the OC, it was known as the 909.  Growing up years ago in L.A., we knew it as the “sticks.”  We now know better…

Flying into L.A., you have several airport choices.  By far, the busiest is Los Angeles International (LAX) but if you have a choice, any of the outlying airports would be a better choice.  Forty miles east of LAX is Ontario International Airport, located in the heart of the Inland Empire.

While it’d make a great place to arrive in L.A. by itself, consider sticking around in the neighborhood to see what the area has to offer. 

The Inland Empire is the area east of Los Angeles, stretching approximately from the 57 freeway in the west, out to the hills east of Redlands and Riverside to the east.  In the north, it is bounded by the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges and continues south to Corona.

Although San Bernardino and Riverside are the two big cities of the IE, Ontario has replaced both as the heart and commercial center of the area.  Not only will you find the major airport here, but also loads of hotels, restaurants, and some major shopping areas.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Frederick Dennstedt under CC-BY-SA licence

If you’re in a wheelchair, flying in and out of ONT is a breeze.  The crowds of LAX are not here, parking is close by…even the long term…and the baggage handlers (especially at Southwest) really know how to take care of a chair, even a heavy power chair.

There are a number of hotels in the immediate are of the airport but I’d advise you to get out into other areas for your visit.  Not far away is the huge Ontario Mills shopping center.  You’ll find the aloft Hotel, a trendy little boutique place run by some very nice people; plus the Hyatt Place and Country Inn and Suites located right at the shopping center.  All are great hotels and Ontario is not an expensive hotel city.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Gabriel Chag under CC-BY license

If you’re a shopper, Ontario Mills is a huge, indoor mall filled with outlet stores.  There are also a lot of chain restaurants inside, plus entertainment options like Dave ‘n Busters, Edwards, and AMC Theatres.  Not far from this mall is a factory outlet for New Balance shoes, a huge Bass Pro Shops (eat at Islamorada, inside, very good), plus another more upscale outdoor mall just to the north in Rancho Cucamonga…Victoria Gardens.

Sports lovers will also like that minor league hockey and NBA D-League games take place at the Citizens Business Bank Arena just a block away. The Dodgers AAA team, Cucamonga Quakes, play just north of here at the Epicenter. The arena also hosts a number of concerts and events, such as the circus.

Part 2 where we'll venture out of Ontario to see the rest of the IE, is coming soon.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The State of the Garden

So how's the garden doing this week?  A few cymbidiums are blooming, like this 'tethys,' above and the yellow one below.

Those orchids are almost done so it will be time to repot soon after we enjoy then a few more weeks.

In our herb corner, this iris is popping through.

Tomatoes will be available for harvest soon...

...and a new zucchini plant is pushing up through the soil.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tabling the Spring Project

Not every project in our yard has to do with plants.


It wasn't too long ago that my wife happened by a yard sale on her Sunday morning walk.

She picked up this table, which has a pressed-board insert, for five dollars. We used it for awhile on our patio when she started to complain that it was getting weathered.  I had an idea.

I sanded all the old lacquer and varnish off the wood and made it smooth.  I tried to stain it but the water spots were too deep.

Instead, we painted it blue. Initially, I put a coat of polyurethane on it to weather proof it but it left a brownish-colored hue to it.

My wife went to the paint store, where they told her to use a high-gloss exterior paint instead.

I got my friend and neighbor, Scott Connelly, on board. Scott is a mosaic artist and I commissioned him to make an insert for the table.  Here it is, insert in place (and at the top of this post), making it's debut as a cocktail table on our patio.

The scene Scott created for us is representing the view from our backyard. Here is the actual view with our plumeria in bloom, which Scott used to create the artwork. He added western bluebirds, my wife's favorite local species, to the picture.  Three of them...one for me, one for my wife, and one for our son.

Now, it's time to test it out.

Works perfectly!

Scott Connelly can be reached via Facebook at Cross Centered Mosaics. They're beautiful and quite reasonable.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Enjoying the Fruits of our Labors

Gardening is in full swing. Chores are being done with regularity and, in this warm drought year, the plants are doing spectacularly well.

We've been working our behinds off and, now, we're going to take a little break to enjoy the results. Check out the cherry tomatoes sneaking in to the hanging dendrobium, above.

Speaking of orchids, the cymbidiums on our orchid bench are almost overwhelming in their color.  My mother in law gets mad because I'm behind on my cymbidium care chores but they still bloom anyway.

The Moonstone and it's unknown neighbor rose let me know they're doing well in the drought. They survived our earthquake too, but that's a story for another day.

Double Delight still delights...

...and Mr. Lincoln is producing it's usual platter-sized, deep red blooms as it always does at the beginning of the blooming season.

Here's a very delicately colored pink bougainvillea to finish off this week's look at the beauty side of our garden.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lining Up the Lemon

Our Meyer lemon tree started off as a sapling only twelve inches tall. How it's grown over the years.

I've pretty much left it alone, just trying to let it establish itself in our tiny, three-tree citrus grove.

I think it's had plenty of time now. I'm going to trim it up to get it to start growing in the shape I want it to.

The loppers make pretty easy work of it, just chop a few of the bottom branches.

I'm not going to touch anything on top in the big producing area. I want fruit this winter so, for now, this is the shape I'm going to be happy with.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This Year's Feeding Schedule

My new lawn is looking a bit spotty in parts. Although it's still pumping up a lot of grass (with a lot of mowing), I think maybe the two weed 'n feed treatments might have given it a bit of indigestion.

I think it might be hungry but for food not laced with poison.

It's off to my friendly garden center to pick up some nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

The nurseryman there says I've got great timing. A rare rain shower is forecast tonight and putting fertilizer on your grass just ahead of the storm is the peak time to do it.

I load about three pounds into my feeder and shoot it out across the lawn.  Let's see if the grass likes it.

My lawn feeding schedule will be once a month for this season.

The other plants will be getting this liquid fertilizer.

Just dilute into a water pan and sprinkle on everything. This will happen every two weeks.

Hope the plants are happy with the food.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Chore Left Undone

Until today, that is. A couple of years ago, my wife bought a jasmine plant with the intention of putting it in the pot where we had a morning glory growing.

Even the best intentions go awry, sometimes. The plant languished in our herb garden with the promise of "someday." I guess she had enough, so she finally got around to doing it this past weekend.

Fairly straightforward, clean out the pot, stick in the plant, and water in.

Here she positions the plant and cleans off the dead roots. She's much more careful than I am about these things.

In the end, here's a tidy jasmine in the pot. But wait, what's that at the bottom of the pot?

Turns out there's a lavender volunteer from a nearby plant growing out of the bottom of the pot. Handy little find. I transplant it into our citrus grove so when it grows up, it can attract bees to pollinate our fruit.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved