Friday, January 27, 2023

did I say boring?


This cold windy and wet (at times) weather has produced a boring week. Well, it did have a few exciting? moments. Tuesday was overcast with the threat of high wind (gusts to 30 mph) and heavy rain but I still needed to go to the grocery store so after breakfast I thought I could get there and back before it really got bad. It was just barely sprinkling but the wind was picking up and the closer I got to the store the darker and more threatening the sky looked. By the time I got out of the store it was thundering and the wind had really picked up and it had started to rain lightly. Ran to the car, got the groceries in. I was wet but not soaked. Before I was 1/3 of the way home it was raining hard with hail, halfway home raining so hard with hail I couldn't see. It didn't last all that long, dropped an inch and a half of rain. The same storm produced a tornado on the east side of Houston causing quite a bit of damage. So that was Tuesday.

Wednesday I had just gotten up at 7 AM to go to the bathroom when my phone rang. It was my sister (she's already posted this on her blog) crying, can you come help me. Be right there. When I got there after fighting with my clothes that would not cooperate, she was sitting in a chair with a bloody towel pressed to the back of her head. She had been squatting down in front of her sink, holding onto the edge, to put something in the cabinet beneath when her hand slipped and being off balance she fell backward and conked the back of her head on the freestanding butcher's block behind her. I helped her rinse her hair off in the sink, cut away some of the hair so we could see what was what and what was a 3/4” gash. She decided maybe she ought to go to the emergency room to see if she needed stitches. So we did, only no stitches, no superglue, three staples...kachink kachink kachink...no topical numbing, no nothing. So that was Wednesday.

Thankfully Thursday was uneventful. It was even fairly slow at SHARE. Today, it's still cold out but no wind and while it's mostly overcast it's supposed to clear up some so hopefully I can get over to the shop yard, check my goopy patch on the split water pipe, and maybe torch the burn pile.

So, days late and dollars short and probably dressed inappropriately, here's my rabbit story post in honor of the Lunar New Year. (It's a good story. You should read it.)

A Rabbit Tale



Monday, January 23, 2023

signs of life, signs of lunacy

Second day in a row of cold windy overcast Saturday. I'm a warm blooded creature. When it's cold, when there's no sun, my activity levels plummet. At least I'm not falling out of trees.

I did take a little stroll around the yard to see what was putting out new growth. It wasn't as cold out as it looked from inside. The porterweed, the confederate roses, the altheas, the night blooming jasmine, the firespike, the leopard plant, the gingers, the azaleas, the crinum lilies, the mock dogwood, the holly ferns all putting out fronds, stalks, or little green leaves on branches or from roots. Not showing any new growth so far are the gardenia, the camellia, the bougainvillea, the beauty berry, the hummingbird bush, the shrimp plants, the yellow bells. I might have lost the big yellow angel trumpet even though I covered it. It's frozen all the way to the ground and hasn't shown any signs of life yet but the cuttings I took just in case are sprouting roots.

Yesterday it cleared up and with the sun shining it was tolerable outside and after two days of inactivity I got out there and finally cut back the dead shell ginger and hauled it over to the burn pile which is getting too damn big. Since I was over there, I finally used the FlexSeal paste and gooped up the collar with the crack. I'll let it set for a few days before I try turning the water back on.

I've finally cut back everything in the home yard so now I've started on the shop yard.

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And now from the Republican Bizarro World Three Ring Circus Department:

McCarthy appointed Jim Jordan Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. What a joke. The guy who turned his back on the sexual abuse of athletes, the guy that ignored a subpoena from the J6 Committee, the guy implicated in the planning of the J6 insurrection, this guy, in a fishing expedition, demanded that the DOJ turn over information on the FBI, the DOJ, and the investigation into J6 which the DOJ has refused to do without specifics of what Jordan hoped to find. Jordan, of course, accused the DOJ of 'stonewalling'.

McCarthy appointed election denier, Qanon believer, white nationalist, Putin supporter, J6 conspirator, and all round wacko Marjorie Taylor Greene, who plans to file retaliatory impeachment papers against Biden for just existing I guess since she hasn't said what the charge of wrongdoing is, to the Homeland Security Committee. What could possibly go wrong.

George Santos, the man who tells one lie after another about himself and his family, is on the House Science Committee. A report surfaced that he was a drag queen in Brazil which he denied but turned out he posted the info and picture himself on Wikipedia so as HCR wrote in her newsletter, “the party that has spent months grabbing headlines by attacking drag queens is now represented by one in Congress”.

Georgia Representative Earl Carter introduced the 'Fair Tax Act' which is anything but fair. The bill would repeal all current income, payroll, estate, and gift taxes replacing them with a flat national 30% sales tax on all 'purchased goods, rents, and services' and would abolish the IRS and make the states responsible for levying and collecting it. They claim this will bring 'freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity' but as usual with republican policies the only people who will benefit from this are the 2% who will pay even less in taxes than they already do while the poor and the working poor who are barely making it will be slammed, the middle class will pay more, and without payroll taxes there will be no Social Security or Medicare.

And still not a single bill put forward to combat all the things they have been yammering on about, blaming Biden's policies for...inflation, crime, the price of gas, the border. It's as if they really didn't care about those after all. Go figure.


 

Friday, January 20, 2023

dreary day


I have poison ivy on my face. How the fuck did I get poison ivy on my face! I also have it on the index and middle fingers of my left hand and the thumb and middle finger on my right hand but I know how I got it there. The back edge of my property where it meets the wild space is lined with poison ivy and that's where I throw the banana tree mush. There's no leaves on the poison ivy, just the bare stems. I didn't think too much about it because I figured they would be dry and dead after the temps in the teens and twenties but obviously I was wrong about that and I brushed up against it when throwing the banana tree sections into the wild space. But how I got it on my forehead is a mystery.

Our warm spring like weather is over for at least the next two weeks. It was already as warm as it was going to get when I got up this morning. It's a dreary day in deep contrast to the previous warm sunny days, cold overcast windy, and a little wet. The birds continue to mob the bird feeder. I tried to get a picture but I was shooting through the door glass on magnification and it's too far away for a good shot but there's a big flock of goldfinches along with cardinals, chickadees, titmice, house finches, warblers, and doves. I think I have finally foiled the squirrels! It's been a week and a half since I have seen one on the bird feeder. Fear not that they are starving. I put cracked corn out every morning for them. The cardinals and blue jays like it too.

Things that were on the to do list this week...drop my poop test off at the post office, I know TMI but tough shit. Ha ha. Get more bird seed, take the recycling in, goop up the split in the collar on the water pipe into the shop, cut back the roses. Go to yoga class. Continue to look for a picture of me in my prom dress which I made, very hippy dippy. I know I have that picture, I can see it in my mind, and the other ladies at yoga want to see it and I thought I had it on my computer but apparently not.

I made it to the post office, took the recycling, cut back the roses, cut back all the dead wild Mexican petunias, went to yoga (and I've been very good about my home routine when I don't have class), got bird seed, volunteered at SHARE, haven't found the picture. Nothing is getting accomplished today. Dinner. I have to make dinner later.

Don't even have a picture to post except this dandelion.

Almost lunch time and then I hear a couch and book calling my name.



Monday, January 16, 2023

more yardwork and the Republican House's first week


Saturday was a fine day, clear blue sky, low humidity, no wind to speak of. I dug up the spirea which had finally given up the struggle. It was a beautiful shrub that would be covered in its little white flower clusters in the spring but the first arctic blast in the winter of '20/'21 that caused so much havoc in Texas, the power grid failing and houses and people freezing, damaged it severely. It would put out new growth which would die back in the heat of summers until this winter with another week of temps in the teens and twenties, it was done.


So now I'm sort of rearranging that flower bed. Saturday I started weeding it and turning the soil, getting my hands in it, so a good day, I got to dig. I like to dig and the soil was just right for it, not wet and clumpy, not hard and resistant. I'm taking out the rest of the black and blue salvia to expand the area for zinnias and also for a small spring garden, a few tomatoes, green beans, a couple of squash maybe. I want to grow potatoes again but not there.

My squirrel deterrent seems to be working. Besides the one I saw on the bird feeder Monday, I haven't seen any since I moved the elephant plant stand farther away. After the pole fell, when I got it back up I went ahead and slipped a section of galvanized downspout over it as an added deterrent as one of my readers has commented that it works for them, squirrels can't climb it. Sunday morning when I got up and looked out there was a squirrel foraging in the area beneath it and looked to be getting plenty to eat and made no effort to climb up to the feeder.

Sunday I cleared out all the dead orange cosmos and cut back the rock roses (not a true rose but like the confederate rose, part of the hibiscus family). Still some clearing to do...cutting back the wild Mexican petunias, cutting the dead fronds off the holly ferns, 

clearing the shell ginger on the east side of the house. Almost all the azaleas are showing tiny green buds of new growth and the roses have just exploded with new growth. I don't usually cut them back until February but that will have to be done this week.

You can stop here if you're sick of American politics, what follows is a summary of the first week of operations in the new Republican majority House.

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McCarthy, in his acceptance speech as Speaker a week ago, claimed that this would be a transparent House and then they passed the House Rules in which was included a secret 3 page document that not even all the Republican representatives had seen that contains McCarthy's promises to the insurrectionist cabal and which contains, among other things, the pledge to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless cuts to social programs are made. They think they're covering their asses by excluding the military, interest payments, and Social Security as line items, as if that's even possible, as if people still getting their checks will counterbalance shutting down every other part of the federal government sending the country into default which doesn't just affect us but the entire world economy. And make no mistake, these are the debts Trump incurred that they will be refusing to pay by failing to raise the debt ceiling, something they have no problem doing as long as Republicans have the majority in Congress and the presidency. This should backfire spectacularly on them.

The other thing McCarthy said in his speech was that because of the long fight to elect a Speaker, they have learned how to govern. So after two years of screaming about inflation, the price of gas, the economy, the fake border crisis, crime, and Hunter Biden's laptop this is what the House Republicans have done during their first week of the new session:

   -Removed the metal detector from the entrance to the House.
   -Allowed smoking in Representatives offices.
   -Passed a bill to repeal the new funding for the IRS to hire and replace agents included in the Inflation Reduction Act and is currently set to vote on abolishing the IRS altogether in a further attempt to protect millionaire and billionaire tax cheats.
   -Decimated the Office of Congressional Ethics to hamstring it from conducting business in order to protect their members from investigation of ethics violations.
   -Established the Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to conduct investigations into the 'government's collusion with private companies to infringe the rights' of the people to free speech ie their butthurt and false accusations that social media platforms wrongly silenced the free speech of the far right and to investigate the DOJ and the FBI for their legitimate investigations into Trump's and his sycophants' criminal activity.
   -Passed the 'born alive' bill that forces doctors to give life sustaining care to any baby that is still 'alive' after an attempted abortion or face new penalties. As if that happens, as if doctors aren't already required to do so if it does happen.
   -Passed a resolution condemning attacks on anti-abortion facilities (apparently attacks on clinics and doctors who perform abortions are OK).
   -Removed Democrats from committees.
   -Is considering a vote to expunge Trump's impeachments.

So much for Republicans 'learning how to govern'. Not a single bill has been put forward to address any of the things they have been attacking Biden and democrats for for the past two years because they don't actually care about any of those things besides using them as a weapon to gain power. Power is what they care about, the ability to force the rest of the country to kneel.


 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

long day, little rainbows, winter/spring, and food


I was gone basically all day Thursday, leaving in the morning to get to SHARE by 9 AM, returned home by 1:15 with just enough time to scarf down a sandwich and head to my appointment for my annual physical at 3 PM. I really like my primary care doc which is why when the Memorial Hermann clinic closed offices here and moved to Sugar Land, I followed her there. In the past it has taken 40 – 45 minutes to get to the office because of highway construction and traffic and then maybe another 10 minutes or so to troll around the parking lot until I find a parking spot, usually the furthest away possible, walk to the building to arrive 30 minutes ahead of the appointment which they request. So I left at 1:30 for my 3 o'clock appointment. All the road construction has been completed and traffic was light and I made it there in half an hour and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, a car pulled out of the first row right in front of the entrance and I slid right in. Great, now I'm an hour early for my appointment. So I sat in the car and read for half an hour before going in. Had already had my blood work done and everything was good, cholesterol a little high but not so much that she recommended medication, which I wouldn't take anyway. Too many problems associated with statins to suit me. I do have to schedule a boob squishing and a bone density test to keep an eye on the osteoporosis which I also refuse to take the medication for. Got home about 4:15 and then left again a little before 5 for yoga class and back home by 6:30.

The wind blew in another cold front Thursday giving us low humidity and a clear blue sky yesterday and today. This is the time of year when the rising sun isn't hidden by the leaves on the tree out my window and shines through the crystal faceted ball hanging there and throws prisms on the ceiling and walls.

Dipped down to 35˚ last night and then gets warm again. The next two weeks will be highs in the 60s and 70s. If it weren't for the arctic freeze before christmas we really wouldn't be having much of a winter. I finally got out there yesterday and cut the banana trees to the ground, the ones here at the house. Cut them up into manageable sized sections, used the garden cart to tote the mess to the edge of the wild space and tossed it all in as far as I could throw it, at least six cart loads and I'm glad to have that chore done.

Coming back across the yard I happened to look down and six 10 petal anemone flowers had opened up. These little wildflowers, about an inch in diameter, are always the first to bloom besides dandelions but they still surprised me. It seems early even for them.

Earlier yesterday I heard a loud thump and assumed a bird hit the glass in the door but I didn't get up to investigate. When I did finally look up I couldn't see the bird feeder and turns out the pole on which it sits had keeled over and all the bird seed had spilled out. This pole doesn't have a prong at the bottom for stability, just a pointed end you pound into the ground. Granted it was a little wobbly so I'm not really surprised it fell over. I have seen no squirrels so I don't know what caused it to keel over. Maybe the white wings doves that kept landing on the top. Anyway, I pounded the bottom section into the ground deeper and it seems pretty stable now. It was mobbed all day with cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, goldfinches, doves, et al and they did not let the spilled seed on the ground go to waste either.

Once again, my turn to fix dinner last night. I had a sort of meat pie/pastie planned. They're always a little different. This one had shredded leftover roast, onion, a leftover leek, celery, garlic, and potato.


Another trip in the Way Back machine, this one from 2010 about insects.  It's a little different as it turns out most my January posts around this time of the month are about how cold it is and how I'm over winter or what full size drawings I'm trying to get done for whatever carved glass job or molds I was filling.


 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

regeneration and weird dreams and weird weather


I got a text from Abby Monday that she was ready to start her yoga class again after taking the month of December off and though I'd been fairly good at doing my home practice during that time and pretty consistent in January, had even already done my routine that morning, I had more than one muscle speak up Monday night during class. I'm glad to be back to the Monday and Wednesday routine.

Weird dreams last night that I sort of remember. In one I was sleeping and woke up to see my husband dressed in a button down shirt tucked into his pants (you have to know my husband to know how unusual that is) as he was leaving the house early. Asked him where was he going and he said he wanted a chance to win one of the seats on the Endeavor (a shuttle ride into space) and he was going to give his presentation (why he should get a spot). I was so angry. And you didn't tell me? I'd like a chance to do that too. You were just going to sneak off? Did you not want to share the experience with me? Weird, right? Everything about that was weird. The other dream is much foggier but I was home asleep when I heard a commotion. The 'authorities' were coming to get me (I have no idea why) and we were trying to keep them out and then I and some guy managed to escape out of the house and into van and drive away but they managed to follow us and we abandoned the van. They caught up with the guy but I ran off through some dense growth and around some houses and then I climbed over a sheet metal enclosure and fell in where there were two children playing and the caregiver came out to see who I was and that's all I remember. What was that all about. The unconscious mind can be truly bizarre.

Lots of bird activity at the feeder...cardinals, chickadees, titmice, inca and white wing doves, house finches, sparrows, bluejays, warblers, even a goldfinch or two. I came back from my sister's house Monday to see a damn squirrel on the bird feeder. Chased it off. Didn't see how it got up there but I moved the ceramic elephant plant stand much farther away in case it had jumped from it. So far haven't seen another one manage to get on but I did watch one squirrel try several times yesterday without success. It seemed a little flummoxed by the hood like what the hell is this.


Some regeneration going on out there. So far the crinums, spider lilies, ground orchids, roses, and rock roses.

My potted red bud tree is totally confused by the warm weather, currently 75˚ and still climbing. Three weeks ago we were having lows in the teens.

as is the maple tree which lost its leaves only a week or so ago and started blooming almost the very next day.

Too soon ladies, too soon! But yeah, no such thing as global warming even though the last 7 or 8 years have been the hottest on record. Even the birds seem confused about if they should be stocking up seed for the winter or flirting for mates.

I mentioned previously the yew trees were going through a major leaf drop as a result of sustained temps in the teens and twenties the week before Christmas. Here's the deck today with some oak leaves mixed in. I had already cleared off one carpet of leaves.

I need to cut the frozen and falling over banana trees down to the ground but It is so windy out there today, sustained 8 mph with gusts to 13 mph so says the weather app and the wind chimes are ringing steadily. It's the kind of wind that runs you indoors after awhile. Maybe Friday as tomorrow is my volunteer day.


 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

girls, cracked pipe, and squirrel bafflement


So what was I planning to write when I sat down last and got hijacked by the hijinks? Just some miscellanea of the past week. I went over to my daughter's house Wednesday and Saturday for more visits with great grandgirl Paisleigh. 

Audra arrived on Friday and the little family is headed back to Arkansas today or maybe tomorrow but Mikey and Audra both have to be back at work on Tuesday. Jade also had come in on Thursday so her dad could add some weather stripping on the hardtop of her jeep she just bought and we spent time together Friday and Saturday until it was time for her to head back.

Friday afternoon I went over to the shop and while I had already looked inside to see if there were any exploded water pipes like last winter (none shattered) I had not yet turned on the water to see if there were any leaks through cracks I couldn't see. So that's what I did, turned on the outdoor shut off valve and then walked through the shop looking for water spraying out. All looked good but as I walked back towards the back door I could hear water gushing. Great. Went out to turn off the water again and that's where the water was coming from. Well, damn, it wasn't like I hadn't insulated and taped up that pipe coming out of the ground and into the shop because I had. It cracked anyway. And it's not like it cracked in a convenient place that would make it easy for me to cut out and replace that section of PVC, no no, it cracked in just about the worst place possible and it wasn't even the pipe but the collar that connects two sections of pipe about 1/2” above the shut off valve that Rocky had repaired last winter.

My plan is to get some FlexSeal paste and goop it up real good and cross my fingers that works, at least long enough for me to have the hose while I torch the burn pile. If that fails then I'll have to call Rocky.

I collected all the piles of debris from around the yard and tossed all that on the burn pile on Friday. Still have yet to cut down the banana trees so I guess I'll do that this next week. All the roses, the azaleas, and the camellia have lost all or nearly all their foliage, even the monster rose bush is nothing but branches and stems. The holly ferns (of which I have many) and the Boston ferns are all brown. They'll come back but it will take two years for them to fill out again and that's if we don't get another winter in the teens next year. The two yew trees are going through a major leaf drop which happened last night. I had just cleared the deck yesterday of oak leaves and today it is covered again with yew leaves as is the ground all around them. The big ponytail palm though is surprisingly intact. Some of the bottom leaves? fronds? have turned brown but all the necks that I can reach are firm.

Today I worked on my latest attempt to keep the squirrels off the bird feeder. The little bastards spill more than they eat and the ground underneath has a thick layer of millet and sunflower seed shells and uneaten sunflower seeds. The shepherd's crook it had been hanging on didn't allow me to attach the 'squirrel proof' hood on the pole underneath the bird feeder and we know that hanging it over the bird feeder from the wire did not prevent at least one squirrel from getting to it. So I bought a new straight pole that came in sections with a piece with arms that slid over the top and clamps down to hold it in place. Then I cut a piece of 1” x 6” and drilled a hole in the middle and pounded that onto the top of the pole and resting on the arms, cut small pieces of lathe and glued them onto the piece of 1” x 6” that hold the bird feeder in place so that it is stable but I can easily lift it off to fill it when needed.

Then I assembled the whole thing, clamping the squirrel hood onto the pole under the bird feeder.

So far so good.