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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'm Back.

My parents passed away in 2013 and 2014, as I wrote of here and here. One of the things they asked of their four children was that their ashes be mingled and scattered in Ecuador at the site of the house we all most thought of as "home" during our time there. That house, in the rainforest in the western foothills of the Andes, was in the territory of the indigenous tribe for whom Mom and Dad translated the Bible. Those Indians call themselves the Tsachila (singular and adjective Tsachi,) and their language Tsafiki.

On May 31st of this year, my siblings and I, with our spouses and my daughter, gathered with some 50 or 60 Tsachila to carry out Mom and Dad's wishes. At the request of the Indians, we didn't scatter the ashes, but buried them in the Tsachi cemetery between the graves of two of their long-time friends. There were tears, of course, but it was also a wonderful day of remembrance and reunion. (There were people there whom I hadn't seen in more than 40 years.) Many things that were said and done that day would have meant at great deal to my parents; but what would have meant the most, I believe, was the sight of a Tsafiki Bible that was obviously very well used!

Primitivo, one of the church leaders, speaks of his memories of Mom and Dad
before he takes his turn pouring some of the ashes into the freshly-dug hole. (His name means "first" rather than "primitive.") 
  (Several men in this picture are wearing their hair in the traditional Tsachi style: cut as you see, then dyed with mu, the dye from the seed of the annatto tree (Bixa orellana.) Because of that custom, the Spanish-speaking population call them the "Colorados.")

It was a day of closure, as well. This was our last earthly service to our parents. We won't see them again until we all stand together in the presence of Jesus Christ, in glory I can't even imagine now! Meanwhile, we continue on with our own lives here.

And that brings me back to this blog. If I have any regular readers left, thank you! I'm ready to start writing again, as and when I have things to say, and I hope you will find it worth your while to read.

And while I haven't written about bonsai for a while, I've continued to do bonsai. Let me introduce you to one of my recent acquisitions: another yamadori ponderosa pine from Golden Arrow Bonsai. But first I must tell you that the ponderosa I had before, which I last wrote about here, didn't make it. I'm now fairly sure that when the drought of 2012 hit, I over-estimated the ability of Pinus ponderosa to withstand severe drought (especially when in a container) and didn't adjust my watering properly. (Ponderosa pine is adapted to semi-arid conditions, but it's not bullet-proof!) It's a bit of comfort to know that Andy Smith, owner of Golden Arrow Bonsai, was also blindsided by the drought and lost some trees.

I got this tree in May, in Andy's annual Burlap Bonanza. The  character of the lower trunk got my attention and was the deciding factor in my choice.

The tree as it arrived, minus the plastic that was also around the rootball for shipping. 
The rootball, complete with some sprigs of Black Hill grasses. Most of the native duff
is what has been called "compressed pine peat."
I've learned, when buying a yamadori tree, to prepare the growing box after I can see and measure the rootball. The box is made of "western red-cedar," Thuja plicata, which is fairly rot-resistant.

The drain holes are about 1 inch in diameter; there's a second row of them on the near side of the box. The eyelets
in the floor of the box are for tie-in wires, those on top of the uprights for guy wires.
 There's a single layer of 4.5-6 mm scoria particles in the very bottom. The rest of the substrate is a 7:1.5:1.5 mix of scoria, Turface, and chopped bark, all particles between 3 and 4.5 mm; and there is a 1/4-inch top dressing of 2-3 mm particles, scoria and Turface in equal proportions.

All potted up!
Here's the probable front of the tree. At this point I envision a bunjin design moving to the right.

The handles on the end of the box cost less than $2 apiece at a local DIY store, and have turned
out to be a better idea than I anticipated. All 4 fingers of one of my hands fit into one comfortably.
A closer view of the base and lower trunk. I expect to keep the left-pointing dead branchlet as a jin,
but the dead spur sticking up behind the shoots on the right will be removed.
The tree will spend the next two years, at least, recovering from collection and acclimating itself to its new home. Then I'll start thinking seriously about the design.

(By the way, many of my readers will be more familiar with annatto than they realize. Also called "achiote" in Spanish, it is used fairly widely as a condiment and as a food coloring: your cheddar cheese is probably colored with it.)

:-)  :-)  :-)