Initial harvest

30. June 2019 16:48

We had weeks of "May Gray" and "June Gloom". Some days the sun failed to show up at all. And on a couple it was so drippy from the fog that it registered as 0.01" on our weather station. But just as I finished the task of getting the weed population down to a respectably low amount, summer came to our part of the central coast. And about that time some of the veggies in the garden and stone fruit trees started being ready to harvest.

Bush Beans, peas, blackberries and some early stone fruit were finally ready.

I realized that waiting for the fruit to be really ripe on the tree was a few days too long. It was ending up falling and getting bruised. So I came in with a basket of almost ready Peaches, nectarines and apricots.

Today's harvest was more of the same. Only this time, a harvest of Flavorosa pluots

The early corn did not do so well. It was such a cool and rainy spring that even the corn that usually doesn't mind the cool temperatures did not germinate well. So now we have tassels for the second attempt which was started indoors.

One of the apricot trees which has a nice amount of golden goodies ripening. In previous years we got only a handful or so of apricots. This year we have six or eight that are being generous.

One of the nectarine trees where I should have thinned fruit a lot more than I did.

One of the other apricot trees.

Apples here are always confused about when they should bloom and when the fruit will be ready. This tree is very productive and got an early start on the season.

The low chill pears are as usual full of fruit. I did not thin these, but I did prune back the tree so there is a lot less of it than there was last year.

The view down the orchard row

Marigolds are one of my favorites since childhood. This is a dwarf variety that I planted a number of years ago and has produced many volunteers each year since. This one is growing in a mix of mostly volunteer herbs - a couple of basil varieties, summer savory and parsley as well as some French tarragon.

Did I mention that I liked hexagon shaped gems?

27. May 2019 00:53

Did I mention that I liked hexagon shaped gems?

These were started as part of the faceting demonstration at a local rock show and then provided a base for learning more about using some other tools on the fantasy machine.

4.48 ct. smoky quartz, 10.2 mm. concave facets on pavilion and apex crown.


lemon citrine, 6.69 cts., 12.1 mm, compound concaves on pavilion with the slitter tool


5.13 cts., smoky quartz, 10.8 mm., similar to previous using slitter tool to make small compound concaves on pavilion


Crown Variation

30. March 2019 15:04

Instead of the typical step cut crown, this 12.39 ct. smoky quartz has a series of steps across the entire upper side of the stone. With the concaves on the pavilion, the result has a stone that looks like it has rows of tiny LEDs hiding inside.

Finishing 2018 rough

29. March 2019 17:00

This 4.58 ct. Amethyst is among the last stones cut from rough purchased in 2018. The stone is 11.0 mm in diameter and has concave facets on the pavilion. Now it is time to start working on the new rough purchased during my 2019 Tucson adventures.

Further Experimenting with the fantasy machine tools

29. March 2019 08:51

Here is another result of initial experiments with the fantasy tools. This 12.98 ct. smoky quartz was cut with v-groves on the pavilion instead of the rounded concaves that have been used for previous stones.

Spring is almost here

17. March 2019 16:43

The official start of spring is still a few days away. The orchard is getting dressed for the occasion now.

a clump of daffodils under the pear trees

Hollywood plum tree in bloom

plum blossoms

apple blossoms

5-in-1 peach tree




Beginning Attempt with the Fantasy tools

5. March 2019 21:54

After a number of failed exercises trying to get up to speed with the V-groove tools that came with the ULTRA TEC Faceting fantasy machine, this stone was a step in the right direction.

The grooves were more curves rather than straight sided and my attempts to polish were only partially successful.

The stone is smoky quartz, 6.68 carats, 11.4 mm across


First hints of spring

5. March 2019 17:42

It is another gray day as another major rain storm is descending on the Central Coast. The cool, wet February has kept most of the orchard trees dormant. Only a couple of early varieties have bloomed. However, there are still plenty of blooms as the daffodils are putting on a show. Daffodils are among the few things that gophers ignore and they seem to do well in our moderate climate.


21. February 2019 17:41

And then late this afternoon, a random thunderstorm came through. At first it looked like snow -- only instead of flakes it was round. A bit later it harder and louder as the hail came down. It was cold enough that instead of melting as soon as it stopped bouncing like previous hail we had encountered, this time it laid on the ground until from a distance it looked like a light dusting of snow,

Citrus harvest

21. February 2019 17:36

While most of the apples and stone fruit trees are still dormant, some of the citrus trees are ready to harvest and several are loaded with fruit. Brought in a few this morning. Tangerines, limes and Morro Blood Oranges. Not sure what to do with so many limes. I will juice the oranges to have with breakfast. The taste normal for orange juice, but it does seem odd to have "orange" juice that is red.

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