Friday, August 11, 2006

A Major Commitment

I put a Satsuma mandarin orange tree in the backyard today, a nice healthy one, and was impressed with the realization of what a commitment it is.

Actually, the Satsuma is a replacement for a smaller one that flourished and bore fruit for a year but turned a nasty brown and died when I gave it too much chelated iron.

In the last month, I spent a fair amount of time preparing the soil after ripping up an old brick patio that was uneven and bulging from tree roots and extending my sprinkler system 45 feet to turn bare dirt into lawn—or something greener than bare dirt, anyway.

And then I planted the Satsuma, a serious investment because it was the biggest I could find. Of course, I could have put in another type of orange tree—something that’s cheaper and less of a challenge. In fact, I have a navel orange tree out front that grows like a weed and takes no care at all other than cutting off suckers. But the fruit doesn’t have much taste, while the Satsumas are deliciously tangy and tart. Only a Satsuma would do.

San Gabriel Nursery
assured me when I bought it that I could leave the Satsuma in the container and it would do fine. But I don’t do things casually, and I think trees—if you’re serious about them—belong in the ground. For keeps.

Since I was intent on planting it in the yard, I had to haul the heavy container around to decide where the tree would look best, which was a fair amount of work. I picked the spot, dug my hole and carefully unpotted the roots.

And in it went, circled by a ring of bricks from the old patio to help hold water.

Of course planting the tree is merely beginning. Now come the weeks and months of watchful care. Water but not too much water. Citrus food but not too many chemicals (remembering the sad effects of too much chelated iron). And then there’s my shade abatement program, which is causing a bit of anxiety in the neighboring trees.

There’s already fruit on the Satsuma, and if all goes well, it should be ripe around Thanksgiving or a few weeks before Christmas.

Wish me luck. I’m committed to this thing.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Blind Justice

Aug. 7, 1907
Los Angeles

He swore at her and told her to go to hell. He rarely worked and only helped her run their boarding house when he felt like it. She hid all the butcher knives to keep him from killing her and their little girl. She hid his pistol in a bag of rags and sold it. She threw his razor down between two houses.

Finally, she sought a divorce after he came home drunk Feb. 22, 1907, and began hammering on the doors, threatening to break them down, and promising to kill her and their daughter, who had sought refuge with one of the lodgers in their boarding house.

Paul J. and Kate A. Conrad had known each other for 18 years, according to testimony, and although she detested being with him, she said: “I hated to have people think I had such a husband that I couldn’t live with.”

Nearly blind, Paul Conrad left his family and came West from Buffalo, N.Y., in hopes that his vision would improve in Los Angeles. He had sold her interest in a saloon—for too low a price, she said.

Once in California, he persuaded her to sell her candy store for $500 ($10,261.79 USD 2005) , give him half the money and bring their daughter, Irene, to Los Angeles, where they began a boarding house at 1145 Maple Ave.

At dinner, “Conrad had asked that some dish be passed to him and after waiting, reached for it gropingly, and finally plunged his hand into the syrup. He had burst forth in angry profanity at his wife, it was said, raging at her for not passing what he had wanted,” The Times said.

Conrad admitted that he had been drinking on the night in question and that he had made a disturbance, but said his anger was not directed at his wife but at one of the boarders. He said he had taken some of their furniture, although complaining that it had not been divided fairly, and started a smaller boarding house of his own.

Upon hearing the testimony, Judge Bordwell ruled against Kate Conrad’s plea for a divorce.

“He said that as Mrs. Conrad had known Paul Conrad since she was a girl of 13 and had been his wife for 18 years, it was rather late in the day for her to decide she did not want him any more,” The Times said.

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