A few days ago it was in the 80’s, today we were suppose to get to the low 60’s.  We had a breezy day so it felt like the 40’s.  I was weeding outside most of the day.  I was working vigorously to keep warm.  When you work for yourself and you are doing something boring, your mind starts to wander.  I was thinking about my Grandmother and it made me smile.  I was recalling a story that my Mom told me about my Grandmother.  My Mom had a sister and two brothers.  Their Dad died soon after the war.  He was in his mid 40’s but died of pneumonia because they didn’t have the proper medication.  So my Grandmother had to raise four kids and feed them.  She was lucky because they owned a little bit of land.  They farmed the land and sold vegetables to get by.  My mother and her siblings would help out in the field after school.  They were fortunate because they had food to eat.  Many of her neighbors were not so lucky.  Many people were starving and would come beg for food.  My Grandmother did what she could to help out her neighbors.  One day my Grandmother planted some flower seeds.  When the flowers started to grow, many people were angry.  They asked her why she would waste time, water and energy planting something that you can not eat!  She explained that she grew the flowers because she wanted to see beauty.  That the flowers make her happy.  Those who did not agree thought she was a crazy old woman.  She took her flowers to the vegetable market and gave away flowers to the customers who bought vegetables from her.  It made them smile.  As the war ended she continued growing flowers and began selling them when the economy got better.  She was able to raise her kids on her own without anyones help and she brightened up the lives of many.  Now you may be thinking, how does this relate to bonsai and to  today?  My Grandmother made time to do things that made her happy.  Even in the bleakest of circumstances.  When your work day is harried, your car breaks down or when you are stressed out, remember to tend to your bonsai’s lovingly and put some happiness into your life…….

Successful demo at Cal Poly!

I was invited to the horticulture club at Cal Poly SLO to do a demonstration.  I took a few display trees as well.  I took a very large Montezuma cypress with a hollow down the trunk.  I also took a windswept San Jose juniper and finally I took a Yatsubusa elm.  The tree that I did for the demo was an old standby, a procumbens nana juniper.  Before we started, they invited me to a bbq of hot dogs and hamburgers.  The food was very good.  There were about 20 – 25 people in attendance.  There were also 3 professors that came to watch.  I must say that the tree turned out well.  After I finished the tree, I donated the tree to the horticulture club for a fundraiser.  There was a humorous event that occurred while I was giving the demonstration.  A swallow came in the open door and flew around the room.  The room was an old greenhouse so the ceiling was quite high.  The swallow kept fly around in circles as if it were on a string tied to the ceiling.  There was an adjacent room that the bird flew into and kept flying in circles.  There was a large roll up door in the other room that one of the students opened, but the bird refused to fly out.  Maybe the bird wanted to watch the demo.  After I was ready to leave, the bird had landed on a window sill and everyone was ready to leave.  They couldn’t keep the roll up door open all night, so I suggested they open one of the high windows near the ceiling.  They brought in a large pole to open the window and we all left.  The crowd was enthusiastic and there were a lot of good questions.  It was a good night for all….

Weird weather pattern

We have had beautiful days followed by overcast and rain.  That has been our weather pattern for the last few weeks.  When the overcast conditions come, it gets very cold and the daytime highs barely breaks 60 degrees.  Then it dries out and we have weather in the 80’s.  For the last few days I have been working on making landscape trees.  This may sound easy, considering that we have over 2,000 black pines in the ground.  But in order to make a landscape tree, you need something tall and sparse so that the tree will grow and fill in to become a nice landscape tree.  Nice black pine bonsai stock do not make nice landscape black pines.  I have also been moving trees around to accommodate the space for the new landscape pines.  I now have about 80 black pine landscape trees started.  I have also been working on filling in the empty spaces that were created when people came by to pick up their trees.  It seems like the more I work, the more work there is for me to do.  Maybe I should do the reverse?  Maybe I should go inside and watch some t.v. for awhile and when I come outside there might be less for me to do.  Oh well, it was just a thought.  I better get working on my paperwork before I start to procrastinate and watch some playoff basketball…..

Business at home.

There are many advantages of having a business at home.  Since our house is on the same property as the business, the commute to work is and easy one.  I can also snack and eat lunch whenever I want.  The real point is that although I have specific business hours, I can stay open later or open earlier if the need arises.  Monday was such an example.  I had a customer come by at around 3:00pm on Monday.  He had never been to our bonsai nursery and was wandering from place to place looking at everything.  Since he was so focused I told him that I would be around if he had any questions.  So I went back to what I was doing.  After about an hour he came up to me and said he had a few questions.  The floodgates were wide open.  He wanted to know about the pricing on some of our junipers that we had already shaped.  He asked about the different prices on the container trees, he asked about the landscape trees and about the trees in the field.  Since he was a young guy, I thought he was just curious.  It turns out he was asking about all the different trees because he wanted to purchase them.  He picked many smaller container trees, some shaped junipers, some landscape pines and we also dug trees out of the field.  He had a small pick up truck.  I suggested that before he continue picking trees, maybe we should see how they will fit in the truck.  We put the landscape trees on there side and filled the back with the smaller containers.  He also filled the interior of his truck with about 7-8 trees.  He picked out a beautiful wisteria that he wanted to protect, so he put that in the passenger seat.  The tree barely fit, but we got the tree in there.  There are still 3 larger landscape trees that he wants to pick-up, but that will have to wait until his next trip.  By the time he was ready to leave, it was around 6:40pm.  Where else can you shop beyond closing time?  Where else can you buy trees for bonsai and landscape at odd hours and the proprietor helps you with all your questions and concerns with a smile on their face?  Keep supporting your local small businesses and we will keep supporting your habit. I just love my job!!!!!!!!

Fabulous weekend!

Friday was a lot busier then anticipated.  I had a customer come from the Los Angeles area that had never been to the nursery.  He bought several trees to work on.  My customer who had tagged pines in the field came by to dig his trees.  He also picked up several other trees.  I had lunch at around 3:00pm.  Friday evening was a blast.  My Godson performed in the Fiddler on the Roof.  This was a production by junior high kids.  The leads in the play were outstanding.  Both the male lead and the female lead were so good that people thought that it was a recording.  We were told that everything was a live performance.  I have seen some plays at our local performing arts theater.  But the performance by these kids were on par with them.  The play was well attended and the crowds were enthusiastic.  On Saturday, we went to my sisters house and we ate a phenomenal lasagna.  The interesting part of the lasagna was that the noodles did not have to be boiled first.  She used a really thin noodle that did not require boiling.  On Sunday we went to Tantera Winery, which is located east of the Santa Maria Valley.  They were pouring some great wines.  They had a bbq and live music.  We also went on a little tour of the barrel room with the winemaker. (We followed a small group of people into the barrel room).  The tour was for 4 people but there were about 12 of us there.  The winemaker asked how we all got there and we just told him we were following the man with the wine pipette.  He laughed and started to give us a tour of the room.  There were hundreds of barrels and he knew what was in all of them.  He explained the differences between the age of the oak and also the aging in the bottles.  He let us sample many of the same named wines we tasted earlier, but those in the barrels were the bottles of the future.  We had a wonderful time.  We got home at around six, ate dinner, watched a little t.v. and went to bed….

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