Wednesday, February 22, 2017

happy dog days


Monday morning we were woken early by lightening and thunder and hard rain. The dog was instantly in panic mode, panting and finally hiding in the closet. It continued to rain til early afternoon. She calmed down but being in panic mode is exhausting and she slept all day. I don't blame her. It was a dreary day and I myself was totally uninspired and I sat on the couch and read. Didn't even go to yoga though it was clearing by then.

Yesterday was a happy dog day. Clear blue sky, not humid, nice little breeze, warm. Did I mention it's full blown spring here? The tallows and gingkoes and crepe myrtles and ashes are leafing out. The red buds are pinking up. The birds are chirpy. The bluebonnets and other wild flowers are starting to bloom already! The horticulturist on the radio said it's about 6 weeks early.




Remember this list from the deep freeze?

*rangoon creeper that I planted three years ago and bloomed for the first time this year – not so far
*shrub that I can never remember the name of with the long spikes of small pink flowers – nope and the root is very loose in the ground
*Mexican bird of paradise – so far has not come back
*shrimp plant – yes!
*night blooming jasmine – yes!
*yellow angel trumpet that I didn't think to take a cutting of – yes!
*plumbago – yes!
*upright rosemary which still has some green needle leaves but looks terrible and is struggling – still looks terrible
*angel wing begonia – yes!
*all my succulents and cacti except for the hens & chickens, the big aloes, and the century plant – muertas except for the three exceptions
*most of the walking iris - dead
*butterfly weed- yes!
*pony tail palm – lost all it's 'heads' but has two small sprouts
*purple orchid tree which I just planted this spring – yes!
*white orchid tree which is in a pot – not so far

 ponytail palm


not on the above list...

*my poor struggling peach tree - has three flowers
*bulbine – muerta
*beauty berry – nothing so far
*morning glory bush – yes!
*confederate rose – yes!
*periwinkles – nope

My potatoes are starting to sprout, the tomatoes are looking and growing well. Can't get the onions or anything else in til I get dirt for the new bed but it's still too wet. I have two more cauliflower heads to harvest and when I do I'll pull out the remaining broccoli. Not sure what I'll put in it;s place.

Because the ground was too wet to do anything outside I got some wax sheets made and worked on the driveway guardian/bottle tree/totem that I started with my grandgirl Robin last summer. I got the sanding done and I'm starting to assemble it, playing around with some stuff to fancy it up.



I haven't fastened it all together yet and not sure I'm happy with the wings as they are pretty short for the height which is 8'. There will be bottles all down both sides albeit without the labels.




Friday, February 17, 2017

growing more food


I have spent this entire month so far working out in the yard clearing out the freeze and winter damage, cutting back the roses and doing some much needed maintenance on the big front flower bed, harvesting and cooking and freezing food from the garden, getting my spring planting started, preparing the ground for a new raised bed which arrived yesterday but which I can't fill with dirt yet because of all the rain we have had and are having. It's wet out there today.

Remember this?

It looks like this now.

Last year you might remember I bought 4 yards of vegetable garden improved soil for about $38 a yard from a big dirt, sand, and gravel company in Rosenberg that was so hot organically that everything I planted turned yellow and shriveled up. After it sat all spring and summer it did grow some beautiful broccoli and cauliflower and the tomatoes I put in earlier are growing well. So now, I need another two yards for the new bed and I'm hesitant to go back to the same company though they told me the mix is a little different this year and they haven't gotten any complaints. I called the local feed store for a recommendation and they hooked me up with a guy who sells caney soil which is supposed to be such primo dirt that adding organic material for fertilizer is unnecessary. He will sell me this soil for $20 a yard and he is much closer. Unfortunately, with the big rain storm Tuesday morning and a small shower yesterday morning and a small shower this morning, it's all wet and muddy and he just wouldn't feel right selling it to me this wet. He apologized about that but I told him I appreciated his integrity. Anyway, it may be mid-week next week before I can get the dirt for the new raised bed so I guess I'll go ahead and pull out the broccoli which I was letting get it's secondary growth and put the onions in the big raised bed.

About that new raised bed. Last I wrote about it I had decided against buying the vinyl 4' x 4' x 11” for $130 and was going to head into Rosenberg for western red cedar and build my own but then I decided to check Costco first and they had an almost identical one except it was 2 - 4' x 4' x 11” that could also be configured as a 4' x 12' x 11” for the same $130 (which is about what the cedar would have cost). Sold!!! It arrived yesterday and set-up was a breeze, no hardware needed.

Scalping the grass down to the dirt.


A layer of cardboard, a layer of weed cloth, a layer of compost inside the raised bed, hay will surround it.

Well, I was going to lay out more cardboard and weed cloth and some of the hay today and get the onions in but it's still raining, albeit lightly, at noon. So, no outdoor work today. I do need to box up the magnolia leaves pieces and send them to the gallery for their March show but I also need to empty the wheelbarrow of dirt so the wheel, which has gone bad, can be removed and replaced and I do have three leftover tomato plants and a nice basil and empty pots in which all that can go so I'll probably go out to the barn in a little while and do that. Keeping my hands in the dirt is keeping me sane while the inmates are in charge of the asylum in Washington though I'm starting to feel a little niggling in my brain that is telling me I need to start on new models and get making stuff again.

One of last years projects except for the spirea which will get planted elsewhere.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

tornados skipped through town


Early this morning one of the phones beeped an alert but seeing as how they were in the other room we ignored it and went back to sleep. A storm was blowing through with wind and lightning and thunder and we finally got up around 7:30. Shortly after 8, my friend Wesley, who lives downtown in the apartment above one of the buildings that is next door to the antique store, called to tell me that that little storm, which had mostly passed by now, had blown out two of his windows and peeled back the flat roof about halfway of the building next door which shares a roof with the antique store and stuff was getting wet. He didn't know how to get hold of Donna, the store owner, so he called me. I promptly called my sister whose day it was to work and who lives next door to Donna to let her know.

So, she and Donna went down to assess the damage, considerable, and to start moving furniture and cleaning up and I met them down there about an hour later. Two of the five small clerestory windows blown out and shattered, roof leaking, 2 small rugs thrown out, furniture dried and moved to the back of the store, pieces that couldn't be moved were covered by a tarp, same with the display cases. Probably several pieces will be a loss, a china cabinet for sure as the veneer was already peeling back. It's a good thing so many pieces had already been removed last weekend. Donna is opening another location in Rosenberg, 3 principles and other vendors, and the pieces were taken there.



Didn't really notice any damage driving in, but on the meandering drive home I saw quite a bit. The tornado/s skipped through town. We just had a few smaller branches down.


Somebody's trampoline upended and moved. Can't tell what that other toppled thing is next to it.


Lots of trees were downed or damaged.

Other storage units at the same place were damaged.

Closer to home this grapefruit tree was finally stripped of it's fruit. The deep freeze took care of the leaves and the fruit was left to hang like ornaments.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bizarro World


I've been back on social media for three days now (it was three when I wrote this, now it's a full week and I need to publish this because it's already out of date!) and it's all just as awful, if not more so, than before. A completely unqualified woman who wants to do away with public education to put Jesus back in the classroom confirmed as head of the Department of Education and immediately a Republican introduces a bill to completely dismantle that very same department because who needs an educated population? Certainly not a country that considers itself the world leader. And why on earth should we pay to educate our citizens when we can import our medical personnel and scientists from overseas? Already about 20% of those positions are filled by the foreign born.

And now bigoted and racist Sessions as the new Attorney General who questioned Sally Yates at her confirmation hearing about whether or not she would say no to Obama if he wanted to do something unconstitutional. My question is does he practice what he preaches? Will he say no to Trump when Trump wants to do something unconstitutional? I'm not so sure he will. Rumor is Bannon is the real president who is calling the shots but there is another rumor that it is Sessions who is pulling Trump's strings.

Meanwhile Trump inhabits the White House alone and wanders around during the wee hours in his bathrobe, binging on fast food and hiding in the residence to watch movies and SNL, berating everyone, tweeting out his disgust and insults even during briefings, ordering his staff to not wear any clothes that come from Nordstrom's because they declined to carry Ivanka's clothing line and Kellyanne goes on Fox to tell everyone to buy Ivanka's stuff, a clearly illegal act. He and Spicer continue to lie about unreported terror attacks and the murder/crime rate, misrepresenting whatever it is they are saying and as to that nothing is a fact unless Trump says so and his staff can't even figure out how to turn on the lights in the West Wing. This would be a hilarious soap opera if it weren't our real life.

We have no ambassadors and he has alienated and insulted our closest allies. He insults Australia, one of the Five Eyes group that we share everything with, about our honoring an agreement forged with Obama and basically hung up on their Prime Minister. He chastises Mexico, our third largest trade partner, and threatens to send in the US armed forces to take care of their “bad hombres” if the President of Mexico couldn't and, of course, the Wall. He demanded France give back the money we sent them for NATO and he put Putin on hold so one of his aides could explain the non-proliferation treaty to him (apparently he doesn't bother with briefings from the intelligence and state advisors before these calls which always include him telling the other person how popular he is) and then proceeded to tell Putin that we got a bad deal (also how he characterized the deal with Australia to take in 1250 refugees). This is his guiding principal...it's not a good deal unless he gets some kind of advantage. Never mind compromise or both sides winning. If he doesn't always have the better end of the deal then it's a bad deal.

The first military foray under his watch was a complete disaster as the intended target was not killed but a bunch of innocent people were including an 8 year old girl and a Navy Seal and Trump is claiming it was a complete success and then insisted military actions should not be criticized.

Meanwhile, again, Republicans are doing all kinds of arrogant, complicit, and shady things to prevent any investigations into their behavior and actions from ever taking place and complaining bitterly that the Democrats are, astonishingly, being obstructive. The nerve of them. How dare they do to us what we did to them for 8 years. In addition to the bill above to dismantle the Department of Education, there is also one to dismantle the EPA, rescind it's regulations and dismantle it. Another to sell off our public lands to their highest buddy bidder and let the banks get on with their shenanigans. And shut those mouthy women legislators up.

#resist


Thursday, February 9, 2017

not so energetic today


I'm sort of at loose ends today, Thursday, been writing a post on the political Bizarro World circus but I won't inflict that on you just yet. Went to the garden club meeting, something that I am hit or miss with. I maybe make it to about half the meetings. Other than that, about the most I have accomplished today is pulling up handfuls of sprouted sunflowers and cow pea in the wildflower mini-meadow, something that I do every day sometimes several times a day. You might remember that it was solid with field sunflowers and salvia and I had to completely clear it out this fall/winter so my wildflowers could sprout. And things are finally starting to sprout. There's larkspur and poppies and bluebonnets and evening primrose. Other things I recognize as not a weed but not sure what plant yet like queen anne's lace and clasping leaved coneflower and black eyed susans.

I went by the co-cop Monday and got some tomato plants and a bell pepper and got them planted in the empty half of the big raised bed and had to put some of them in big pots because I ran out of room until I take out the cauliflower and broccoli. 


Then, the next day my neighbor Leonard who gave me the potatoes previously, gave me some onion sets as he had planted all he had room for so I've been perusing the raised garden kits at the big box store on-line as an alternative to building my own. I don't like the way the ones we have are constructed even though they are working just fine. I almost ordered one on-line but then changed my mind. If I would just go get the wood and put it together I'd have one twice as big for the same cost. So I guess I'm going into Rosenberg tomorrow.

Stuff seen around the yard the last week...

little wood violets

10 petal anemones are blooming all over the lawn

blueberries gonna bloom

sunset looking west

same night same moment looking east

and frogs!

this guy was on the inside of the textured glass window one morning

this one was hiding in this bucket

and his little buddy was further around the rim

and today this one clinging on the inside rim of the water lily pond though it's not the best picture





Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sunday notes


The grackles have descended on us. They are thick in the trees and the ground is black with them and they are noisy and loud and impossible to photograph. The least movement and the whole flock rises up as one and moves to a different tree or patch of ground.


I did something today that I swore I would never do, am against doing. I topped one of my crepe myrtles. Some people do it every year so that the trees look like poodle tails but it is stressful for the tree. I did it though because this particular crepe myrtle has been steadily taken over by a moss/lichen and it was killing the tree so my hope is it will come out fresh and I will be able to control the lichen. As usual I didn't take a before picture.





I headed off the the grocery store to get all the ingredients for the 6 broccoli and cauliflower recipes I had saved. I was only planning to cook one of each because we didn't plant that much but I didn't know which ones I would do so I prepared for all of them. I didn't realize it was Super Bowl Sunday til I got there and the aisles were crowded with everyone dodging everyone with dazed and confused expressions of their faces. Check out was quick though as the store had all the registers open.

Got the potatoes planted. I had enough for three rows in the small raised bed. I'd take a picture but all you would see is dirt.

Grandgirl Robin, who will be 16 this month, came out with her folks today. She found the brand new box of sidewalk chalk I bought over a year ago and put it to good use. Then she helped me make the cauliflower casserole.


And then I did a broccoli casserole. The two dishes are getting divvied up into containers and put in the freezer.


Well, my four days of self imposed exile are over. I never did get to the little model I'm working on as there was so much to do in the yard. Still is.




Sunday, February 5, 2017

day 4


Saturday morning...my name is Ellen Abbott and I'm a social media addict. It's been two days since my last log on. not to be making fun of alcoholics mind you Anyway, when I'm away I have no trouble not checking into FB. In fact I don't even think about it because my whole morning routine is different but sitting here in the mornings with my water first and then coffee, after I've read all the current blog postings or written my own then what am I supposed to do to fill the time til I get up to fix breakfast. I stopped reading the newspaper years ago and anyway, I'm avoiding the news as well for these four days. I don't want to hear or see anything Trump.

Here's an observation...white wing doves are bullies. They even chase off the blue jays from the totem bird feeder. They get on there, usually two at a time because that's all that will fit, though yesterday I saw third trying to come in and kept trying to land on the back of one of the others, and then they start knocking and tossing the seed out of the dish. The blue jay does that too and the sparrows. More than half the seed falls to the ground. The cardinals are very polite. They just perch on the rim and eat.


Overcast and chilly again today but I did get out there and worked on the front some more. Got the other yellow butterfly iris out, dug up all the baby century plants and weeds and grass that had colonized the front bed, fertilized and mulched the cut back roses. The twin grandgirls came out to hang out while their parents worked on their property. Jade brought 3 pairs of pants out to be mended so I did that.


My neighbor at the other end of the block, Leonard, gave me some seed potatoes that he had left over after he had planted some. Well, after I had grilled him on where he got them this early and were they red or white. Anyway he said he'd give me some but I had to bring his bucket back. Which I did today though I haven't planted them yet. That's one of the activities for tomorrow but I have to finish getting the johnson grass out of the small raised bed first. And I plan on doing some cooking and freezing of broccoli and cauliflower dishes tomorrow.


I have had friends I have relied on in the past to help us through lean times but never the government. I don't feel any particular pride in that. If you need food or housing assistance by all means you should apply for it for as long as it's available, which may not be long if the current administration has any say in the matter. I've personally been fortunate enough that those times when we have been on the brink, the universe has come through for us. That doesn't make me special, just lucky. Anyway, the plan is to plant more food and preserve what we grow and don't eat right away. Since I'm no fan of canning and the water bath, I prefer to cook the produce and then freeze the meals for later consumption. And so I have been looking at cauliflower and broccoli casserole recipes because tomorrow I have a lot of both to harvest.

Sunday morning and I did find something to fill the time...online shopping!