Finn Sees Into the Fruity Future

It’s another couple weeks that Finn McSpool hasn’t gotten out and about. While he’s complaining that this is ruining his chances to have the paparazzi chase him down and slap his photo on the cover of a gossip magazine, I have assured him that a BIG adventure is coming his way very soon.

Luckily, Beasties don’t have the greatest of attention spans and Finn was soon bragging about  his new talent: Seeing into the future. He did note that he needed to be amongst nature for the skill to work. Curious about this newfound skill (and hoping it might relate to lottery numbers), I followed him out to the garden.

Finn scurried on his tiny little legs, then halted at the edge of the patio, put his paw to his head, and, in a rather mystical voice (I wondered why he’d been practicing that), stated, “Behold! Future strawberries!”

“Gee, Finn, thats, um….impressive?”

My lack of awe for the Great Finnisky’s new talent didn’t stop him from scrambling up my espalier and proclaiming, “And here, I see future pears.”

Actually, I started to hope he did have some insight into the future since I’ve yet to get a pear off that tree. “Okay Great Finnisky, what do you see on the other espalier?”

“Puh-leeassse, that’s not even worth my powers. Even the least powerful oracle could see those are going to be currants in the near future.”

Understanding he wanted a challenge (and since he’d already gotten distracted from his visions by the chance to climb up a trellised vine), I said, “Tell me what the future holds for that vine you’re in, then.”

“Hmm, a tough one, not so willing to give up its secrets…”

“You don’t know, do you?”

“I fear the Great Finnisky’s Sight is not so clear in this part of the garden.”

“It’s a chocolate vine.”

“Ooh, chocolate!!!”

“No, don’t get too excited. It’s just an Akebia vine that produces bizarre fruit that smell a bit like chocolate.”

“So, it doesn’t grow Hershey bars?”

“Sorry, nope. Any other visions of the future?”

Finn–sorry, the Great Finnisky, shimmied down the akebia and dashed across the lawn toward the birdbath. Maybe his “Sight” isn’t so good in this part of the garden either because he had to get a reallllly close up look to see the future of his next customer.

“Yes, another tough one, but something’s coming from this one in the very near future. And I see before me…..future honeyberries!!!”

“Wow! I am impressed the Great Finnisky knew that one. How did you–?”

But before I could find out how the Great Finnisky learned about honeyberries, he was back to being Normal Finn and wanting his picture taken with plants that matched his purple and white coloring…

I thought we were finally done, but before I could get back to work, Finn saw a perfect photo op with some tulips and bluebells…

…but when he tried to climb the tulips it was time to rein in the Great Finnisky for the day!

How about you? Any future hopes for your garden? Any plants coming to life after this horribly long non-springy spring? Have a great weekend everyone and see you next Wednesday!!

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A Monster Wander Through the Not-So Wintry Garden

After going on a lot recently about monsters – Doubt Monsters, Amazonian Monsters – I’ve been looking forward to a post featuring that far-friendlier monster, Finn McSpool!

This year, the Pacific Northwest has thumbed its nose at the seasons and declared that winter is definitely NOT coming. While I was putting away all the dragon glass I’d stockpiled in the event of an invasion of White Walkers, my garden was scratching its head, having a few committee meanings, and coming to the executive decision that it was time to get blooming.

And of course, Finn saw the buds and blooms as a perfect chance for an outdoor photo shoot.

His first stop was to check out the pink blossoms of the border of Bergenias just outside my back door. He looks like he’s diligently studying those flowers, doesn’t he?

Of course the giant leaves of these plants were perfect for a game of hide-and-seek (I don’t have the heart to tell Finn he’s not very good at this game). Continue reading

Finn McSpool’s Treacherous Trip to Kula Botanical Garden

This week’s look back at Finn McSpool’s Hawaiian Adventure takes him away from the beautiful beaches and bustling towns of West Maui and whisks him off to the slopes of a volcano in East Maui where he got into a little trouble at the Kula Botanical Gardens.

Some Back Story

Now, before we start this tale, I need to give a little background about Finn’s first evening in Maui when he had a rough encounter with a couple of the natives. As you know from a couple weeks ago, our vacation rental came complete with egg-providing chickens. It also featured the hard-to-find amenity of the brother-and-sister-cat-duo, Kuma and Yuki. Don’t they look innocent?

Since Finn lives with cats and really enjoyed meeting gobs of cats on his trip to Italy last year, he thought he’d give a big “Aloha” to his two new roommates. Unfortunately, Yuki (who we later learned loves to hunt, especially geckos) thought Finn might make a tasty treat. Finn’s screams of horror as he was caught in her death grip were probably heard across the island. Continue reading

It’s Wine Time for Finn McSpool

Right now is one of my favorite times of year. Even though it’s sad to see summer quickly fading away, the silver lining to those impending autumn storm clouds is the abundance of free food around the neighborhood. Plum trees in schoolyards are kindly giving up their fruit, neighbors are begging you to take away their giant zucchini, and my secret goldmine of blackberry shrubs are bursting with purply goodness.

But wait, there is a downside to all this bounty: We still have blackberries from last year’s gleaning in the freezer. Luckily, Finn McSpool whipped out the kitchen scale and discovered we had just enough to start a batch of blackberry wine.

Those of you who have been with me for a while will remember my surprisingly good results from my very first batch of pear wine not long ago. Since then, I’ve made a couple gallons of wine from my own grapes, tried a winemaking kit (never again), had to dump out a failed batch of mead (sorry, bees), and am currently drinking my way through a round of pear-apple wine. It’s been a whole lotta boozy fun, but this is the first time Finn McSpool (who has been quite the do-it-yourselfer lately) lent a paw…for better or for worse.

Orvieto, Italy, Italia, Umbria,

Finn playing the wine connoisseur in Orvieto, Italy.

First off, it’s been a while since my last round winemaking, so Finn read over the directions and my notes from my previous wines that came out successfully to see what we had to do.

Knowledge attained, Finn let me do the hard work of sterilizing everything while he just stood around for photo shoots (so much for helping).

Finn, realizing he wasn’t quite doing all he could, decided he wasn’t being fair. After all, it was his idea to start this project, then all he does is—

-Finn! No!!

-What? I watched an educational video last night on winemaking and this is what you’re supposed to do.

I Love Lucy episodes are NOT educational videos. Get out of there and go take a bath!!

At least he kept his book dry.

We won’t even talk about all the Beastie paw prints I’ve been cleaning up ever since.

Anyway, once the kitchen was moderately clean again, it was time to toss the berries into their straining bag, add some water, add a campden tablet, then wait 24 hours for the sulphur to do its sterilizing magic. The next day, we dumped in a bit of yeast and then waited. And waited. And waited.

-Finn, if you want to take a peek, we can remove the lid. Besides, do you really want people to know you’re looking through something called a bunghole?

Normally, I don’t start wine until the less-busy days of winter when the house is rather chilly and my yeast takes a lot of coaxing to get going. But with the warm summer weather, these yeast cells were super happy and were vigorously munching away at the sugars. When I pulled the lid off to give Finn a better view, it smelled delicious even if it did look a bit gory.

I’m not sure if I should be worried about that maniacal look on Finn’s face.

After just a few days, much of the yeast activity had quieted down and it was time to see if our wine was ready to be locked away in a jug.

-Time to put on your chemistry hat, Finn.

-I haven’t got a chemistry hat, only a kilt.

-It’s just an expression. Never mind, you can just watch.

I don’t know if Finn is near-sighted or what, but he wanted to watch as up close as possible as  I took a hydrometer reading. Yep, the yeast had done most of their work and it was now time to pour the wine into an airtight jug to finish up.

-You mean there’s nothing left to do?

-There’s a few things we need to do in a couple month, but yes, Finn, that’s about it for now.

I thought Finn went off to read, or pout, or pose for another photo shoot, but it turns out he went to the store to get something.

-Peaches!? Thanks Finn, I love peaches.

-No, these aren’t for you. These are future peach wine.

-Hmmm…I think we have some strawberries from the garden in the freezer.

-Ooooh!

So, now we have two gallons of future wine bubbling away in the basement: one blackberry and one peach-strawberry (which smells soooooo good even if it looks a bit medicinal right now).

-Finn, the jugs aren’t workout equipment…sigh….

Hope you enjoyed this foray into fruity wine. See you Wednesday…unless I forget to put on my eclipse glasses, then I won’t be seeing anything.

A Hellacious Garden Stroll

Since Finn McSpool is busy with a DIY project that isn’t quite ready to show off to the world yet, this week seemed like the perfect time for another garden stroll post. Unfortunately, my garden tour took a side trip into the bowels of hell. Or at least it seemed like a fiery inferno when Portland was smacked with a heat wave.

Things started out well, not a bit of damnation in sight.  While at the home supply store to get the goodies we needed for our DIY project, I couldn’t resist bringing home this new friend for the garden (and for the house when winter arrives). Meet the Flamboyant Miss Caladium.

If you don’t think plants don’t try to one up each other, let me tell you, the minute I brought Miss C. home, I think someone wanted to show off her own stuff because Lily, that’s Water Lily to you, popped into bloom the very next day. Continue reading