Propagating purple Douglas Iris

This weekend I divided and transplanted a clump of this purple Douglas Iris, a California native plant. The purple iris has beautiful flowers. Our favorite iris, it’s more delicate than the white irises I propagated several years ago. They’ve done great so we’re trying the purple ones this year.

I followed the same technique I used for the white irises.

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A More Rico, Vegetable Soup

Inspired by borscht we had last year in Russia, my wife added a spoonful of crème fraîche to her vegetable soup that made the soup so much more rich and tasty. People in Argentina seem to use rico to enthusiastically describe food that’s delicious or rich, and that’s what this combination brought to mind.

This vegetable soup combines stock, seasonal vegetables (celery, carrots, butternut squash), and brown rice and beans (for complete protein). It’s very healthy, but I find the taste to be on the lean side. We had tried the crème fraîche from a north-bay-area Costco, so she had it on-hand to substitute for the sour cream used in borscht. We both thought that the crème fraîche really improved the vegetable soup.

Glen Canyon Dam

Completed in 1966, the Glen Canyon Dam holds back the Colorado River to flood Glen Canyon, forming Lake Powell just upstream from Horseshoe Bend. Looking at the height of white bathtub ring, the water level doesn’t look down much, but a park ranger told me that the reservoir had risen to 55% full after the past wet winter.

Lake Powell loses water to evaporation and leakage; I wondered if the water loss is significant. Running the numbers, Lake Powell loses enough water to supply over half (57%) the people in the San Francisco Bay Area with water — every year. After weathering years of drought, the water loss from Lake Powell is very significant.

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San Andreas Fault at Wallace Creek

We drove to the Carrizo Plain to see the wildflower bloom, so an opportunity to see visible effects of the San Andreas fault was an unexpected bonus. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake on the San Andreas fault led to fires that burned much of San Francisco.

According to a geology tour brochure from the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the San Andreas fault is about 700 miles long, and it’s “the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.” The land on each side of the fault has slipped sideways as the tectonic plates moved, and you can see this at Carrizo Plain.

In the above aerial view from Google Earth, the red arrow points to where Wallace Creek crosses the San Andreas fault. The diagonal line running parallel to the Temblor Range is the San Andreas fault. From wikipedia, temblor is “from the Spanish word for ‘earthquake’ (terremoto)”.

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Los Altos Weather – Spring is in the Air

After the storms of January and February, the San Francisco Bay Area is drying out and getting ready for spring. Our first iris bloomed in late March. It’s a Douglas iris, iris douglasiana, a California native plant. Hardy, drought-tolerant, and disease-free, these irises are stars for a California garden, with beautiful flowers in the spring and green leaves year-round. They’re easy to divide and move to new places in our yard.

California’s reservoirs are full, and the mountain snowpack is very large, so there’s lots of water to distribute to farms and urban users. Future challenges will be whether the water conservation forced by the drought will persist and dealing with groundwater overdrafts.

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Dim Sum in Cupertino

Eating local food is a great joy of travel. Lonely Planet instructs travelers How to eat like a local, telling us “A huge part of the travel experience is getting to know local traditions, history and culture.”

Last Friday we ate a Chinese dim sum lunch at a restaurant near home, and it felt like we were travelers eating like a local. Some of the food we ordered is shown above. Some keys for finding good ethnic food are whether the restaurant is run by people who know the food and whether the clientele knows what well-prepared food tastes like. The dim sum restaurant we patronized is staffed by Chinese, and the clientele was almost entirely Asian.

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