Cue Barry Manilow

… except instead of I made it through the rain substitute I made it through the winter indoors.

Meyer Lemon Tree with Pantyhose Containment System

And so here is our lovely little lemon tree, taking the outdoor sun for the first time since October. You might look at its droopy yellowed leaves and sad absence of leaves on some branches, but I consider it a triumph that we made it this far with any leaves at all.

It was a heartbreaking winter for indoor lemon tree farming. Within days of the tree coming inside, it started showing signs of poor health. I  used to obsessively scour the internet for a diagnosis but believe me, the online gardening forums are much worse than WebMD for implanting dread. When the sun was out and the temperature was above 55, I ‘d haul it back out to the deck and drench all sides of the leaves and stems with organic neem oil but I could only do that for a few weeks and it never really got completely rid of whatever it was that was causing the problem in the first place.

So all winter long, a leaf that looked fine and green one day would drop to the kitchen floor the next. It was sad enough finding pea sized fruits on the floor but it was excruciating to watch my biggest fruit, all of 5/8″ long, die by shriveling. The tree continued to flower throughout its time in the house and that encouraged me to think that I had overcome whatever it was and so I overdosed with with Jack’s Citrus Food, causing more leaves to turn a different color before falling off. Boy, did that little tree make a mess on the floor. I’m glad it was in the kitchen where I could use a broom to sweep up whatever was falling off the tree, expected or not.

Not exactly sure what the cause of the problem is but it would start with faint white circles on the leaves – powdery mildew or scale?  -and sometimes new leaves would kink or crinkle – mites or tatter leaf virus? – and once I saw a chomped edge on a single leaf – *shudder* .  But we made it. And not just merely made it, but made it with an unexpected bonus. Look at this:

You are looking at a fruit that is 13/16″ long.

There are 5 fruits of similar size that grew from the second round of blossoming. 5! My goal was to retain at least one leaf until I could get it outside again, but here we are with many leaves plus some very promising fruits. so my plan is to take it out every day this week and bring it in to keep it warmed overnight. Then next week, I’m going to blast it with Bayer 3-In-1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control Spray, natural/organic considerations be dammed.

But really, what could be more natural than man obliterating a threat to its survival and prosperity? Then a piece of flint tied to a stick; now weapons grade chemicals from the garden section of Home Depot. That’s evolution.

Don’t Worry I Have A Jan 8 Salon Appointment For High Hights/Low Lights

Not to brag, but I just had the best salad in the history of salads. I should just go to bed now and call it a year. Goodbye 2014 – its not going to get any better than this!

You know it suddenly occurs to me that at about the same time that I decided to go Mod/Veg, I also stopped wearing nail polish. It’s like I’m going natural or something without making a purposeful decision about it. I’ve already been doing the daily ingestion of apple cider vinegar for health purposes.

AND I’m using Neem oil on my lemon tree, which is like natural or organic or something. And I use Marcal toilet tissue which is made from 100% recycled paper. Oh My Gawd. I don’t even know myself.

this is not my hair. OR IS IT?

Listen, I think I’m still okay. I’m still enhancing my hair color and I have a closet full of polyester “fur” coats: a brown shearling, a full length black mink ( a “meenk”, I guess), a snow leopard car coat which I bought to match the interior of my car, a faux possum and I must include a jacket described as a “grooved berber fleece” but does in truth more resemble a light blue bath mat than anything else. The fake fur department is one area I wouldn’t mind going with the natural thing.

Even so, if i start making my own cleaning products and searching for vegetarian dog food, come and get me. Otherwise, happy new year.


As God is my witness, I’ll never touch sticks of softened butter again.

I’ve been rather busy lately but this 4-day weekend has given me time to indulge in leisure activity.

The first thing I did was to scrub the kitchen from top to bottom. It might not sound like the most glamorous thing but it sure was the most satisfying. White cabinets, pale gray flooring and pastel yellow swirled with gray countertops need to be spotless under harsh fluorescents and these haven’t been spotless since … I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

For the first time in history, we went to a fancy buffet for Thanksgiving. What was I thinking? WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GOING TO BUFFETS ALL ALONG! Gawd, it was great. My picky daughter was very happy that she could have an omelette for her meal instead of turkey and in the end she exulted that she didn’t have a single thing that was associated with a traditional Thanksgiving.

I got my money’s worth by pacing myself through 5 trips to the trough: first a cheese and fruit plate with my martini, then a moderate helping of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. I went back to the buffet to pick off the mussels and clams from the top of the paella. I’m nether ashamed nor bragging about that – just reporting. Next was Eggs Benedict with a side of bacon and a bit of Belgian waffle. I topped all that off with some watermelon.

Sami thought the appetizer area was okay but unremarkable, and he went through twice just to be sure. He did have the traditional Thanksgiving meal as well but was bummed out that there was only white meat so he had to soothe himself with two helpings of Boeuf Bourguigone, once with potatoes and once with yellow rice, which he had picked out of the paella. I think that act balances out my shellfish selectivism and that’s why I was able to tell you about my bad behavior without remorse.

None of us felt the need to eat again until Friday afternoon so I’d say the excursion was a grand success. It was an abundant experience that would make a Pilgrim proud. Next year we’ll be going to a bigger buffet.

We also made Xmas cookies this weekend. What a mess. Have I mentioned I can’t do anything right anymore? I should have mentioned that to myself before I took on the cookie making. They worked out okay in the end, but it wasn’t the instructive mother-daughter experience I had planned. Maybe it was instructive but what she learned isn’t what I planned.


Here’s a table stack of pignoli cookies, Russian tea cakes, stuffing cookies, sage shortbread, Buckeyes and Santas Whiskers – all suspect in one way or another. I don’t recommend them.

In other cheerier news, I may have lost ground in skills I formerly mastered, but I remain a very successful indoor lemon tree farmer. I’ve only lost two pea-sized fruits since moving the trees indoors AND I now have one utterly magnificent specimen that’s as big as FDR’s head.


Ain’t that great? It’s even taken on a lemony shape, which the lesser pea-sized fruits do not have. Also notice a new crop of flowers budding out.

And so even though the universe has taken away my woman powers in terms of cooking, baking and cleaning it has made me a master nurturer.

So it all works out.

All Lemon Tree All Time. Plus A Few Chickens.

Is it too soon to talk lemon trees again?

I’m sure you will enjoy this photo of my solution to the too tall/too short plant stand dilemma that I faced earlier this year as I was making plans to move the little lemon tree inside. I took one of my big outdoor flowerpots and turned it over to use as the base – it’s the perfect height.

Don’t worry – I shut that heat vent. (Please don’t mention this to Sami.)

Okay, so it’s a little bit inelegant but the most important thing to me is that the leaves of the tree are at the right height in the window. Anyway, if all goes according to plan and the tree continues to thrive, next year it will be tall enough to rest upon a 4″ tall rolling plant caddy. So this arrangement is very temporary and only needs to get me through this winter.

I say IF all goes according to plan. My kitchen floor is positively littered with blossom petals and pea sized fruits. 😦

Anyway the chickens came inside to roost on the windowsill for the winter. Here they are under the tilt-in window that gave me the El Kabong yesterday. These also look awkward jammed together like that but that 30″ tray was the longest I could find and again, my only concern is to keep them alive until next season.

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Sami is not of the opinion that ceramic poultry is a good fit for the room where he spends most of his time.



Leaving The Sadness Behind

Well, now I see why 99% of the flowers on a Meyer Lemon tree don’t result in mature fruit. Look at this over abundance of bloom on one slender branch. It would be impossible for the little tree to support that much fruit and certainly not enough room for them to develop if the tree could.


There are no bees in my kitchen although I’m starting to wish there was. I’m using a small watercolor paintbrush to hand pollinate newly opened blooms. It’s a lot to keep up with and frankly it’s not as much fun as it sounds. It takes care and patience which conflicts with my lifelong habit of rushing in, slapping things around and giving up. The Three Stages of Suzette.

Maybe I was just feigning disinterest in the blossoms. I’ve been a little depressed ever since I read about that 99% drop off thing. But now that I understand God’s plan, I’m a bit more cherry about things. Also, someone that I respect and admire and who does everything perfectly told me that she uses the leaves from her lemon trees to decorate cakes and dessert platters.


So now of course I’m obsessing about the leaves. Who’s got the next family birthday? You know who you are so brace yourself for a leaf-trimmed cake. I was going to make a  creamy orange poke cake anyway but now it’s going to have a big blob of citrus-shaped icing on top, artfully arranged with a few lemon tree leaves.

Ain’t life wonderful?