Southern California Blackberry Stories

On Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 9:24 PM, <Stephen> wrote:

Couldn’t believe the size and flavor of these berries.

Unfortunately, we may only get 1 pound total – we only have one plant with 3 canes. I’m having vanilla ice cream with Blackberry syrup!


On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 7:46 AM, <Bob> wrote:

Unless that is a hand from a very small person, those are big berries!

Do you know what variety? I planted starts from about 4 different blackberries last winter, and they are healthily growing now, but no fruit until next year. I hope to come up with something approaching your obvious successes.

At the same time, I planted a big row of raspberries that were all from mature plants taken from an individual who said they were too productive and they couldn’t use so many berries. They are right now covered with a million small berries growing rapidly to eating size. I know that we will have to invite friends in to help harvest!

Happy ice cream with blackberry syrup!


On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 12:07 AM, <Stephen> wrote:

Here’s a big handful… I’ll have to look up the variety. I have to admit that we knew very little about Blackberries before this.

We see that there will be only 3 canes (primocanes) that can flower for next year, so we may not get many.


On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM, <Evie> wrote:

They are so big you need a knife and fork. Yum

On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 10:10 PM, <Stephen> wrote:

Reflecting back on things, this relatively tiny little blackberry plant contributed so much to the richness of life at the Caldwell Townhouse.

We put the pot right next to the chairs where we sit to enjoy our afternoons and evenings, so it was always part of the conversation. We thought that after it almost died last year when we were up in Sequim and Portland; that it wouldn’t ever blossom. But amazingly, one day we noticed a little growth on the canes and within 2-3 weeks, we had leaves all over the place. In another month, pretty little blossom clusters appeared and we had high hopes for a good harvest.


Then I noticed a little leaf damage and discovered tiny little inchworms. They entertained me for several weeks before I had to shoo them away.

New canes started to develop about the same time as the flowers appeared, and they shot up quickly and I clipped them off at 5′ on the 4th of July.

Our resident hummingbird, grumpy old Eric the Red, sits on one of the canes while he is resting between his efforts to terrorize every other hummingbird that dares to get too close. When he wants to approach the feeder when we’re outside, he announces his intentions by scolding at us to get us to move away – we never do, and it doesn’t stop him.

Finally, the berries appeared and the weight of the developing fruit bent one cane in half, and although we worried about it, the berries kept growing.

Last week we decided not to wait any longer and picked everything we could. We ended up with enough for a couple of Blackberry Lemondrop Martinis as well as about a cup of syrup which was great with Vanilla Ice Cream!

On a sadder note, while I was away at Luca’s birthday party, Colleen discovered a tiny, newborn, baby something that had been abandoned and was just squirming around on our patio near the blackberry pot.

When I got home, I told her that there was nothing she could do and that it would most likely be dead by morning. Well, it seems that I totally underestimated her mothering instinct!  There she was at 11:00 at night out on the patio cradling the little thing on a napkin in her hands.  I felt bad about what I had said and went out to take a better look at it.


I guessed that it was a newborn squirrel and confirmed it on the internet. It turns out that even though baby squirrels are not that difficult to care for, we didn’t have what we needed – all that we could do at midnight on Saturday was try to get it to take a little bit of watered down evaporated milk.  It took a little and by 1:00 am, Colleen was prepared to check on it every couple of hours.

We tried, but by morning, little “Rocket J” was no more.

We covered the tiny body with a blackberry leaf, laid a berry next to him and wrapped him up in some hummingbird nest batting. The only thing left was to give him a corner of the garden.



They are big blackberries…


Happy Easter 2014

Janette and Rick hosted this Easter’s get together. We had all the usual Easter trimmings including Coffee Cake with braunschweiger and Gramma Boekman’s Lime Jello “Mold”.

IMG_0101 IMG_0103 IMG_0102 IMG_0108 IMG_7380

The Ship Model

About 12 years ago, Colleen got me a wooden model kit of the Flying Cloud Clipper ship. It has remained under my dresser, untouched, until last month when I decided it was time to slap it together and display it proudly on the mantle.

Now, I’ve assembled full-sized cars and motorcycles from bags of parts and put together and customized plastic models for years, so how hard could a little wooden ship be?

I’ve been humbled.

It has only been a little over a month, but I have seriously considered giving up several times.  As I’m trying to decipher instructions, which sometimes have little or nothing to do with how to do something, as well as hard to identify drawings that give you just a little peek at the assembly detail you need.  It’s not going so well.

The instructions, having been translated from Italian, contain terminology that gives new meaning to words that don’t seem to have anything to do with the process. The drawings give great dimensional info on each piece, but don’t show key intermediary steps to allow you to see how things are assembled.  And I’m only on the second step!

Putting the planking on the hull of the ship requires you to have a thorough understanding of different types of glue; how to put complex bends in small strips of wood that you can’t purchase in the U.S if you break them; and how to remove cured cyanoacrylate glue from your fingers.  And did I mention that 10 fingers are not enough?

Here are some photos of where I left off while awaiting delivery of replacement strips from Australia.







Christmas, 2013

Meanwhile, in Southern California, John came down for the weekend and we accomplished the backyard christmas lights.


Also, Colleen continued with her projects…




Laid to Rest, Together, Forever

My parents, Lee F Caldwell and Dorothy P Caldwell were laid to rest today in the pasture of Llenroc Farm. Their ashes were combined and they are together again.
We all helped dig the hole in the stony soil, and then Bob led the service where we all had a chance to relate our feelings about Gramma Dorothy.
An extra-long extension cord allowed us to bring Mom’s favorite organ down into the pasture for a little music.







And finally, we have two videos that were taken by Francie and Colleen.  You will probably have to turn up the volume.


Dorothy Pearl Caldwell – A Treasure in Heaven

God has called her home, yet she leaves behind such great memories!

Here are some of my favorite pictures, a loving tribute to my mother, who most everyone knows as Gramma Dorothy.

Please post your comments, thoughts or any anecdotes that you have about her.

Saga of a Hamburger

Evelyn and Steve (and sometimes Dorothy) worked summers in the snack bar at the Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach.  Steve brought Francie’s Super 8 camera one day and this is the pretty sad result.



Onze is a family favorite card game.  Similar to Gin Rummy, Onze is played with a sequence of 7 hands that are played with different mixes of sets and runs. The first round (hand) is played with 6 cards and each subsequent hand has one additional card.

Onze is the french word for Eleven.  Evidently, most variations of Onze are played with an 11 card hand.

For maximum enjoyment, Onze should be played with at least 2 decks (2 jokers for each deck!), with 6 players you need 3 decks and with 8 players, you need 4 decks.  Any more than 8 players and you’re asking for trouble.

Someone must be the scorekeeper.  We used to use any old sheet of paper and then throw it away when we were done, but  one of the smarter Caldwell’s designed a Score Sheet and created a booklet of them.  This “Onze Book” now contains a fair amount of family history as the scorekeeper adds notes, comments and other bits of info that come up during the game.

Onze on the Family Housboat Trip

Here’s a clip of an early Caldwell Onze game. It took place during the infamous Caldwell Family Houseboat Trip in August of 1991.

Dorothy P. Boekman born

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