Sunday, March 27, 2016

Irises on Order

These are the Irises I ordered from Superstition Iris Gardens in Cathey's Valley, CA. They are on facebook if you want to see more pictures of their Irises. Their Walk Around garden is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.n. beginning April 22, 2016 and ending May 8, 2016. Blooms are early this year, so go early.
The first Iris is "Waves of Joy."

The second one is "Loving You."

The last one is "Grapetizer."

Monday, March 21, 2016

California Heartland Episode 908

Journalist Turned Cheesemaker
an article written about Mandy for the California Heartland program.
You can still see the video here and listen to Mandy's voice.
Love and miss her. Always.

Mandy Johnston is a Journalist turned cheese maker. Out of college she landed a job as an editor with a lifestyle Magazine. She traded living an urban, hipster life, interviewing rock stars and celebrities for making cheese on her family farm. It didn't take much for Mandy to make that decision, when she heard her family's dairy, Pedrozo’s Dairy, may be put up for sale she knew it was her calling.

John, her cheese partner and boyfriend, also quit his job in the tile industry to pursue cheese making, alongside Mandy. The dairy is now called, Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Co. These young cheese makers wouldn't give up their new lives for anything. It’s a small company which consists of Mandy and John making cheese, and her (step) dad who owns the dairy and milks the cows.

Mandy's decision became even clearer, when Mandy's dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (now fully recovered), which pushed her to learn about the milking process as well, so she now milks the cows when needed! They sell their homemade, unpasteurized cheese at Chico and Sacramento Farmers markets and many markets and small shops around the Chico and Sacramento area.

Mandy's favorite thing about her new career choice is selling at the farmers markets. She says the close knit community of local farmers and friends that exists at the market is something that fills her with joy.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


My beautiful granddaughter, whom I adored, lost her battle with Cancer in December 2015. It was unbelievable and sad beyond anything I can say. I will always miss her.
We had a lot of fun together as she was growing up in Merced. I taught her how to ride her bike and after that we rode all over the strip park where we lived and rode around the school yard next to the strip park.
Mandy was such a smart child. Her mother sent her to Montessori School on 21st Street. Mandy loved that school and taught herself to read there.
Mandy was great friends with the little boy in our neighborhood and they spent many hours with imaginative role playing. they loved playing "Royalty" with exaggerated English accents. Such fun they had.
After high school Mandy moved with her family to Orland where she attended Chico State.
In Chico, she met and married John, the love of her life.
Here is the link to Mandy's obituary. at Find A Grave.

Grandma's Garden by Mandy Johnston (2000)

I feel like a gardening god. I walked outside my apartment today and noticed bright red spurts of color bursting from my potted geraniums, and seven little green zinnia seedlings stretching from their planter-box bed. This is no great feat, I know. It’s not like I’m prepared to audition as the next Martha now that I’ve solved my common geraniums’ blooming issues with a little time-release fertilizer. But to me, the fact that those geraniums are alive, let alone blooming, means more than a domestic goddess badge. I’m actually reliving my childhood memories while rekindling the bond my grandmother and I share through gardening.
For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has had an abundant garden filled with bursting pink roses, thick yellow irises and a grand assortment of climbing, hanging and shrub-like geraniums. At eight years old, I had the very important task of watering the garden and sometimes even had a hand in pest control. I’d spend many a warm summer afternoon waiting for her to get off work, change into her gardening clothes and venture to the garden, pruning shears in hand. In Grandma’s garden, I learned that ladybugs had a greater purpose than being cute and tickling me when they landed on my arm. I knew not to water the rose petals or leaves to keep them from scorching. And there was the time she brought me her dried-out zinnias and shook them upside-down over a plate, their leftover seeds teaching me about the flowers’ “circle of life.”
But perhaps my fondest memory of gardening with Grandma is when we’d pick out her best geraniums (the peppermint geranium, with red-and-white-striped flowers and mint-scented leaves, always made the cut), strategically place their terra cotta pots into my red wagon and walk them to the mall that hosted our central California town’s annual garden show and competition. To be honest, I don’t know if our plants ever received a prize. But my time in Grandma’s garden is what prompted me to choose the prolific perennials when the tiny area outside my one-bedroom apartment needed a little color last spring.
I can only guess that Grandma’s wish for developing my gardening skills (my thumb has a shade of lime-green, at best) is what finally convinced her to grant me two geranium cuttings from her garden and her own copy of the Sunset Western Garden Book.
It took a while for Grandma to build up that confidence in my gardening abilities. Shortly after leaving for college, I came home to visit and she quizzed me on different plants in the garden.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a tree heavily laden with leaves and orange-pink fuzzy fruit.
“An apricot tree?” I meekly answered.
“No, peach!” she corrected.
She had a smile on her face, but I felt her disappointment. Her irrigator couldn’t even tell the difference in fruit trees! This wouldn’t be such a huge deal if gardening wasn’t a family affair. At that moment, I was inadvertently disavowing everything garden-related that’s been passed down through four generations of my family.
My grandma recalls reading about Luther Burbank when she was young and feeling inspired by his work with Shasta daisies. But she says she learned most of her gardening skills from her mother-in-law, my grandpa’s mother. Grandma never gardened side-by-side with her, but through conversations about gardening, she learned names of plants, tips on fertilizing, and what to plant in the shade vs. the sun. Cuttings from my great-grandma’s garden are still in the family, growing prolifically in Grandma’s and my mom’s gardens.
Now that I’m an adult and on my own, there’s a bit of friendly competition among family members regarding our gardens. My mom’s only sister lives in Amsterdam, and in her apartment hunting is insisting on a place with a terrace garden (no doubt to taunt us with beautiful pictures of her Dutch tulips!). My mom boasts that her lilac cutting from Grandma’s garden is bigger and more prolific than its predecessor. Grandma was able to get her hands on a rare geranium that my stepfather has been looking for, but decided to keep it for herself when she learned the carrier had only one. My zinnia sprouts have caused a disturbance because Grandma has to abate her snail problem before she can plant hers.
Competition aside, my emerging gardening sense has given me an opportunity to reconnect with Grandma. We’ve always been close, but I feel such a strong link to her when we dish about our blooms or pest problems, or when we stroll through the garden together and I can comment on her dark purple irises. She’ll ask about school to be polite, but deep down she really wants to know how my plants are coming along.
And the fact is, these plants are my connection to my grandma. Some families have heirlooms like china, a cedar chest or Uncle Joe’s pocket watch. But I have Grandma’s geraniums, and I’ll do my best to keep them alive – and maybe someday, I can use them to develop the kind of relationship with my grandkids that Grandma and I have grown together.