Tuesday, May 26, 2015

it's floodin' down in Texas...

I started a post yesterday on Memorial Day which quickly segued into a little trip down memory lane but before I finished, my daughter and the grandgirls showed up to spend the day and share a meal. Her husband and son couldn't come because they had to work.

That post will have to wait because last night about midnight a huge storm woke me up. I don't know how long it had been going on before I woke up but I woke to constant lightning and thunder, high winds and torrential rain. It went on for a couple of hours before it tapered off. The Little Backyard was covered in water as was the west side of the property but it drained off/soaked in quickly after it stopped.

This morning, the yard is littered with branches dead and green with another large limb off the pecan tree, empty pots scattered down the driveway, lawn chairs blown about, pots with plants knocked over, the arbor knocked over and onto the little dogwood tree and a totally demolished turk's cap, water still standing at the back of the property, the Lee Littlefield sculpture was turned 45˚ and listing heavily to one side.

We only got 4.5” of rain in a couple of hours but Houston got 11” in about 6 – 8 hours. The whole city is flooded. My daughter left her house to pick up her son from work at 10 PM. She got there OK but couldn't get home due to flooding. Fortunately her husband was working night shift nearby so that's where they went but now at noon, she has just been able to get home after making a previous attempt.

I tried to find the long shot of this picture but couldn't. I passed over this bridge and under it many times a week when I still lived in the city.

Also part of my old stomping grounds.

 Downtown, on the far edge of my old neighborhood.

 Drove through here every Thursday afternoon on our way out of the city.

 White Oak Bayou I think which runs through my old city neighborhood.

This could be any one of the many freeways through town that are below ground level.

As a native Houstonian, I've seen this happen about 5 times now. After the third time that the sunken freeways filled with water from storms and heavy rains, the city finally admitted that they were planned that way to capture flood water. Nice unless you're one of the people whose cars got trapped down there. Fourteen years ago tropical storm Allison sat on Houston for a week dumping 40” of rain, more than half in a 36 hour period. It was pretty awful with the tunnel system downtown flooding as well as the basements and lower levels in the medical center, the freeways swallowed up 18 wheelers as well as cars, all the bayous out of their banks, acres and acres and acres of land underwater, tens of thousands of homes destroyed. The city has made some improvements since then.

Oh, and we're expecting more rain all week.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

rain results

Our sky the other day when I was trying to get some stuff planted.

Some of you might remember how much I moaned all winter and spring about all the rain and overcast days we had and are still having but I have to say all the plant life is loving it. I haven't seen all the green life so lush in a decade due to the state of drought our state has been in. I think that's been pretty much remedied this year, at least in my part of the state.

All the spring bloomers are done and the summer flowers are taking center stage. The altheas have always been reliable bloomers but this year only two of the nine shrubs are blooming and they are just covered with enormous blossoms, easily half again as big as last year. The other seven either have no blooms or just a few.

And the day lilies are sending up copious amounts of bloom stalks.

Lest you think they are all pink...

The elephant garlic get so tall they tend to fall over.

The purple coneflowers are putting on their display.

The walking iris will plant itself where it blooms as long as it's in the ground and not a pot on the patio.

The downside of all this rain is that the mosquitos also love it. It's nearly impossible to go out in the mornings and evenings without being swarmed.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

a thump at the door

So, it was after nine last night and we were sitting on the couch and we heard a series of thumps outside the front door. Marc gets up and opens the door, turns on the light, and says...it's the turtle!

Big Mama?!, I ask, getting up and looking, wondering if I had left the gate open, which has been known to happen. Not Big Mama. Bigger than Big Mama. And I wouldn't call Big Mama small or even medium. She's pretty big at 10 1/2".

I know we've been getting a lot of rain but how, and the bigger question why, did a huge red ear slider find it's way to thumping around the front door of our house on the concrete under the overhang. It's not like we live on the banks of a bayou or even a creek and the river is about 3 miles away though there are several drainage ditches nearby.

You just gonna leave it there, he asks me?

Well. Yeah. I wasn't thinking of trying to keep it. Big Mama is one thing, she's been a captive since she was hatched just about (and just what would she think to have a bigger wild turtle plonked down in her pond). This girl had survived quite well on her own. Still he was concerned that she needed water so I carried her through the house (paused for a photo shoot) and out the back door and out the gate and set her down on the ground next to the water lily pond. She could indulge or continue on her journey.

No sign of her this morning.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

what passes for excitement around here

Last week, the tank that holds the water that the pump pumps from the well over at the shop failed. Meaning that some seal at the bottom of the upright tank gave way and was spewing water out into the yard.

The shop is on city water, having converted over at the same time as our house did (before we bought it) when the city was putting in water pipes for hydrants of which there is one across the street from our driveway. There might be one more house on city water on the street but everyone else relies on their well. The well and the pump and the water tank were still there and, as far as we knew, functional, so we turned the pump back on thinking we would use the water for the garden and it has held for a year.

We have no idea how long it was spewing water, couldn't have been more than a day or two, but now the pump is off again. It's an old well and all kinds of things go wrong or deteriorate or erode so I'm not sure we will do anything about it. We'll see.

Anyway, I was working in the shop and Marc walked back there to check it out now that the standing water had soaked in. Next thing he was back bent over, pale, hand on heart; just call the ambulance now, he says. He had a close encounter with a 'brightly' colored snake about 20” long, slithered over his sandal clad foot. First snake sighting of the year! When I quizzed him about it he said he and it were going in opposite directions as fast as they could so he didn't get a good look. It was probably a coral snake, very venomous (but little bitty mouths) and very shy, they would rather run away. They feed during the day as opposed to other snakes that mostly hunt at night. He liked to have had a heart attack.

Needless to say he never made it back to the tank for a look.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

incremental progress

the peach log Wesley didn't take

I got my first look at the milled and sanded peach wood for the top of the peach box last Saturday. Wesley was waiting for me in the front of the store when I came around from the other side after opening up. He had two slices that he got from one of the two logs I gave him. He cut thick slices out of both logs and because they were still 'wet' with sap, he put them in front of the heater blower all winter. The ones from one log warped but the two from the other log didn't.

So now they are sanded down flat and smooth on both sides, about 3/8" thick and they are so pretty! I had no idea what the wood would look like, the color or the pattern of the grain, but I am very happy with it and while I had my camera with me, it didn't occur to me to take pictures.

They would be finished but Wesley lost the pattern I gave him for the size so I need to get him another one. I've done the cold work on the box and I'm diddling about whether or not I want to grind the peach inlay down some more since it fits fine now. I have to decide if grinding more off the bottom will actually make it better or just satisfy my tendency to focus on small details, in other words, things only I would notice.

And I still need to decide if I want to make a new sculpture of the peach blossoms for the top. I still haven't done the cold work on the one I have already done because, essentially, I'm not really satisfied with it. The leaves didn't cast completely and the color is too consistent and too dark for my liking. That's also one of those decisions about quality vs being anal.

At this rate it's going to be three years before I get this one finished.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

tiny things

More gardening planned for today. Banana trees and bougainvillea first on the list.

I started noticing these tiny flowers and bugs this spring. Mostly these are from the grounds of the shop. All these little flowers and bugs are 1/4” or less in size with one or two exceptions.

 ants inside the squash flower

 scarlet pimpernel

 baby praying mantis

 pink flower

this little spider was closer to 1/2”

 this deer pea vetch flower was 1/8”

 the bug on the pea flower...so tiny!

 the little dayflower was about 5/8”

little lawnflower also about 1/8”

 yellow wood sorrel (?)

 tiny venus' comb flowers in a cluster

1/8” black medic bloom

coral colored flower

Friday, May 8, 2015

flowers and films

I've been taking a lot of pictures of a lot of the same things like the easter lilies 

and the wildflowers with the queen anne's lace and the clasping coneflowers ascendant, 

the larkspur, 

the coming on day lilies. 

The poppies are gone and I'm collecting seeds. I've been working on the grounds over at the shop too. I have two, three really, areas that I am starting to landscape: around the concrete bunker, on the far left side (the west side), and in front under the awning. I'm also eyeing the light and sign poles as starting points...banana trees next to one of the light poles, put up some poultry fencing between the old sign poles and plant the desert willow trumpet vine waiting patiently in a pot, the bougainvillea against the west side of the old dog pen. Once established, these will take no care. I need to do another section around the bunker which already has the pony tail palm, spider lilies, yellow angel trumpet flower, and love in a mist in between. Oh, and a great start on baby blue eyes too.

My newest effort was clearing about 10 feet of stuff along the west side of the building and planting some morning glory bush cuttings on the corner and an angel trumpet farther down and scattered some fall blooming cosmos seeds between them. I've been working mornings while it is in the shade over there. Even so, I sweated buckets today. By the end of the month it will be too hot to work outside no matter what part of the day you try to do it. So, since this is bearing down on me and I still have lots of things I want to get in the ground, that's what I am doing, working on business matters in the afternoon.

Unless I'm going to the movie.

We went to see two movies this week. After our very happy clients left with their piece Tuesday morning, we hopped in the car and went to see The Avenger's Age Of Ultron since we had postponed the birthday movie to this week.

We would have changed our mind and gone to see Ex Machina except it wasn't playing at the theater. We totally enjoyed The Avenger's as we are fans of the genre but decided that when we went in to the city on errands, we would go see the other. So on Thursday, we did.

We were glad we had seen The Avenger's first because this film, Ex Machina, is a good film but it is not exciting in the general Hollywood fashion. It is more cerebral and there are really only three characters, or four, one who doesn't speak and all the scenes are one on one. The trailer makes it seem more flashy and exciting than it is and that's probably to attract people. It's about artificial intelligence, a kind of creepy billionaire genius, and the person he selects to conduct the 'test' to see if his creation passes for real. It's a film that makes you think and it's a bit edgy with full frontal female nudity and there is some build-up to the film's finish. I enjoyed it but don't go see it thinking it's a flashy with lots of action sci-fi film.