Sunday, February 25, 2024

getting the garden ready with interruptions

Friday I had to go out and get cat food for the wildlings and I went to the feed store to see what plants they had in and bought five tomato plants, two bell peppers, a basil, and some yellow and white seed potatoes. It’s baby chick season too but I didn’t buy any of those. 

About two years ago, maybe even a little longer, the feed store bought a big building much nearer me that used to be a western wear shop that closed and moved to Bay City because, like every small business in this town, they didn’t get enough business to stay open (and no I didn’t shop there either because I’m not into ‘western’ wear). The feed store announced they would be moving and expanding which included partnering with Ace Hardware. This announcement generated some excitement because one thing this town does not have is a good all round hardware store. The previous lumber yard had a hardware, paint, and plumbing section with limited selection but the guy retired after Harvey and closed up shop leaving us with Walmart or a place called Star Parts which has a very limited supply of hardware and plumbing stuff. Then Alamo Lumber (a local chain) announced they were going to move on the same spot as the previous lumber yard which structure they tore down and rebuilt and they’ve been open for about a year and they do have a large and well stocked hardware, plumbing, gardening, electrical, etc supply side. The early excitement died down as they turned out to be the most expensive place in town. So now, finally after delay after delay and permits and flood remediation and all the other hoops they had to jump through to get those permits they finally started adding on and remodeling the building and glory be, they are moving to their new location this weekend. 

When I was in there Friday one of the women behind the counter said to me after I mentioned that the new location would be much closer to where I live, I think you live down the street from me. I live on XXXX, I said. I live on YYYY (which is the next street over), she said. I walk Minnie down her street as well as mine. She didn’t recognize me so much as she recognized Minnie. You live on the north side or the south side of the street I asked. She lives next door to the house that’s for sale. Oh, the house with the christmas wreath still hanging in the tree. She laughed, well I got all the other decorations put away last weekend. True. She didn’t put her Christmas decorations away til Halloween last year.

Saturday I was out pulling up the mustard greens which had bolted and pulled the last cabbage and was turning and weeding the last section of the garden to get it ready to plant when Melissa, Rocky’s wife, called. Rocky has been busy the last two plus months tearing out and completely redoing the inside of a house so I haven’t seen much of him lately and I had told Melissa that I need the water pipe over at the shop fixed when he gets a spare day. So apparently the spare day was that day, now or who knows when is how she put it. So Rocky showed up and completely replaced the water pipe into the shop, the one I had wrapped with insulating foam and duct tape and which still cracked. You might remember I wrote about finding water gushing out of it in 40˚ weather right before dusk. Anyway, once we got all the insulation off, we found that not only had it cracked below the turn off valve but also the outside casing of the turnoff valve had not just cracked but split apart. Fortunately it was still functioning. That bulge midway is a new shut off valve but the handle is on the other side and at the bottom is the casing, 8" deep, that contains the main shut off valve, the one I couldn't get to turn. It's still off so we haven't checked the new pipe yet.

I should finish up my garden today but first I have another task I need to address over at Pam’s house. More about that later.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

musing, meals, streaming, and spring

Another picture of my dwarf redbud tree in full bloom.

For practically my whole life I have been taking art lessons, either in school or out, or making, from craft kits as a kid to sewing as a teen to exploring different mediums in college to finally as an adult building my own art studio making etched and carved glass for architectural installations and small cast glass sculpture for over 40 years. We retired from the etched glass at the end of 2017 after the house flooded and we spent the next two years dealing with FEMA and the Texas Land Office for funds and getting that half of the house repaired. Since then I have made some cast glass sculpture and even took two watercolor classes which I enjoyed but I have also had extended periods of complete lack of motivation or desire to create. I’m in one of those times now, going on a year and a half this time; I don’t draw, I don’t watercolor, I don’t make models for casting. The last piece I made was the Coral Reef box that I completed September 2022. I keep thinking I still have some work in me that I want to do but I’m not motivated to go over to the studio or getting out my watercolors. Am I done? Marc mentioned the other day that he was going to close the business bank account and put that minimum $5,000 required to not have a monthly service fee to better use, like earning interest, and I’m fine with that. Last year there was no water in the studio due to a busted pipe from our new very cold arctic vortexes that have been hitting us the last three winters and the horridly dry and hot summer and now the pipe is cracked again. So, I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. Right now I’m happy enough to watch the birds, read, write, work out in the yard, volunteer, go to yoga and spending a couple of hours a day in the studio means not having the time to do other stuff.

We finally fixed and ate all three of our HelloFresh meals and they were without exception very good. We tried the soy glazed steak with zucchini stir-fry and jasmine rice with scallion ginger oil (10 ingredients), penne with spinach and grape tomatoes, garlic butter breadcrumbs and parmesan (9 ingredients), and apricot, almond, and chickpea tagine with zucchini, basmati rice and chermoula (14 ingredients). The pasta dish was very similar to one I make only a little fancier. I’ve never eaten chickpeas that weren’t in the form of hummus or falafel, which I really like, and I’m not that impressed. The tagine was very good but I’m not likely to add canned chickpeas to my staples in the kitchen.

I mentioned we had watched two episodes of Mr. and Mrs. Smith on Prime and that it was nothing like the movie and at that point we weren’t sure if we were going to continue watching it but we did. It’s one season of eight episodes and it’s actually pretty good. It’s not just about two people working for an unnamed powerful secret spy organization given missions, it’s also about two complete strangers paired together as partners with their cover being a married couple and their developing relationship. Anyway, the last episode was the only one that mirrored the movie and it ends in a cliff hanger intentionally so as to let the viewer decide how it ended. It also sets up for a possible second season but there is no indication at this time that there will be one.

I was able to get out in the yard yesterday, a cool but pretty blue sky day and the wind had mostly died down. I pulled up one of the two remaining cabbages and clipped all the little broccoli sprouts that come out after you harvest the main head and then pulled all the broccoli plants up and continued turning and weeding the dirt in preparation for planting the spring garden. Not sure what I’m going to plant besides tomatoes. The mustard greens are bolting so I need to pull those up. I never thinned my carrots and I have no idea how they are growing since I haven’t felt around the tops. I’m thinking they probably aren’t even as big around as my little finger.

Minnie and Cat enjoying the pretty weather outside today, cat in the shade on the right, dog in the sun on the left.

Still nothing much happening in the yard here but over at Pam’s house the white crinum lily started putting up a bloom stalk a week or so after the freeze here

and the fig tree is putting out new growth.

The cuttings I took when I pruned back the yellow angel trumpet to cover it for the deep freeze have started putting out roots 

as have the fire spike but the small branch that broke off the pink angel trumpet when I moved it into the garage is still stubbornly refusing to root.

A small cluster of pink 10 petal anemone.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

just so you know

some of the republican fucknuttery of the last two weeks or so.

A public school in Florida sent home a permission slip to be signed by a parent to allow their child to listen while a book by an African American author is read aloud in class. Another public school sent home a permission slip for parents to sign that allowed their child to watch the Disney film Tangled. Apparently it has caused DeSantis to have an epiphany about his broad stroke book banning and crusade against Disney that has allowed considerable confusion and strife and little old biddies with sticks up their butts and no children in public school to complain about all sorts of books and things they don’t personally like. He now thinks his law should be changed.

Following Trump’s orders congressional republicans killed the tough bi-partisan border policy and funding bill that they had demanded because Trump wants to campaign on the “border crisis”. Hint: it’s not a crisis if you want to wait a year to do something about it. 

House republicans had their second impeachment vote of Secretary Mayorkas which passed by one vote charging high crimes and misdemeanors without a single shred of evidence of high crimes, misdemeanors, or any impeachable offense all while accusing Biden and democrats of weaponizing the justice system against Trump. 

Anti-abortion activists are ramping up accusations that prenatal tests are inaccurate and the testing industry is corrupt in an effort to ultimately ban genetic testing and ultrasounds that detect deformities and unviability in fetuses. In the interim they want to pass legislation that demands doctors tell their patients who get a devastating diagnosis that no test is 100% accurate and they may be ending a perfectly healthy pregnancy and to send these women to anti-abortion prenatal ‘counselors’ who will lie to them about their pregnancy. They would prefer that pregnant women never know if there is a problem. I guess not enough women are dying from pregnancy and childbirth to suit them in these days of preventive care.

Alabama republican senator Tommy Tuberville, who withheld important military promotions that had a negative effect on the Armed Forces readiness praises Putin and blames the US for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arizona republicans are pushing a number of bills that will, among other things, make registering to vote and voting more difficult, will allow election vigilantes free reign to harass voters, and will ultimately give county election deniers the ability to throw out election results that don’t favor republicans and declare their candidate the winner.

Trump has posted two articles from Newsweek that he has altered by deleted anything critical of him and anything praising Biden.

Trump has claimed that if elected he will not come to the aid of our NATO allies and will encourage Putin to do whatever he wants.

Tucker Carlson was in Russia, which he claimed is nicer, cleaner, happier than any city in the US and interviewed Putin. When asked later why his didn’t ask Putin about Navalny and assassinations, he replied that “leadership requires killing people”. Let that sink in.

Trump claims he, as president, has total immunity for anything done during his term and then says if re-elected he will indict Biden. So I guess he means only he has total presidential immunity.

Alabama republicans want to be able to jail librarians.

Faced with having to actually govern and address the aid package that Ukraine desperately needs that passed in the Senate and the appropriations bills to fund the government when the stop gaps expire in early March, because Trump wants no aid to Ukraine, being Putin’s lap dog, even though 90% of the funds would be spent here replacing the old munitions we would offload onto Ukraine with new modern ones, Speaker Johnson has recessed the House for two weeks. 

Trump invites Russia to attack NATO countries; Speaker Johnson, whose campaign for his Louisiana seat in the House was financed by Russians, recesses the House at a crucial moment for Ukraine instead of voting on the aid package passed by the Senate; Putin murders Navalny. Coincidence? Not likely.

Since Putin’s support of Trump is not helping Trump in his reelection campaign, he has now decided to support Biden in an effort I suppose to get democrats to drop their support for Biden and switch to Trump?

The Alabama supreme court has declared unimplanted frozen embryos to be human children under state law. What happens now is anyone’s guess. Forced implantation? Outlawing IVF?

Two republican state representatives have introduced a bill in the Tennessee legislature to prevent a retailer with a beer license from selling cold or refrigerated beer.  

Friday, February 16, 2024

my week

It’s raining this morning, still raining I should say as it started sometime last night. It’s a slow steady rain but constant and is bringing in three more nights of cold weather, one in the low 30s so I have to decide if I want to bring the stuff back in that I already moved outside. I was surprised to notice I haven’t posted since Monday when Jade came over with a bag of mending and alterations she wanted done. One of the projects, as she calls them, was to tie die a mustard yellow dress she had bought because while she didn’t care for the color she liked the little sun image in black on the front. So that was the first thing she did while I worked on removing the band at the bottom of a sweatshirt. She sent me this picture Tuesday morning after she unwrapped it and before she washed it.

She went to yoga with me that night and it was the biggest group in years, relatively speaking, 10 participants. All but one of the regulars and semi-regulars showed up plus two new women and Jade. Tuesday we finished up some of the mending/alterations and then she left in the afternoon heading back to Austin. And so since it was my night to cook I fixed one of the HelloFresh meals delivered last Saturday, Marc fixed another Wednesday night. Both were very good but even so still a little too pricey. I’ll fix the last tonight and then it’s back to planning my own meals.

Wednesday was a beautiful day and I managed to get out and start turning the soil and weeding to get ready for planting the spring garden and zinnias but now with this rain it will be a few days before it’s dry enough to do more. And then it was time for lunch, walk the dog, feed the half wild kittens, get ready for yoga and just as I was about to walk out the door Abby called at the last minute asking me if I would lead the class as she was tied up at the bowling alley, of which she is the manager, with some sort of training on the new equipment. So I did that.

Thursday we had a full complement of volunteers plus the elders at SHARE and were steadily busy with about 30 food orders, mostly the larger families. I took a picture of one of the four large bins of home goods we got from the regional food bank last week so you could see what I was talking about.

This is some of the stuff in those bins. Clients only get to choose something from here once a year.

Not much has started blooming yet besides the 10 petal anemone and my little dwarf redbud tree (this is the most it has ever bloomed). 

The one over at the shop is still just bare branches but the maple tree is blooming. I saw an ash tree starting to put out it's spring green yesterday while walking the dog. The chinese fringe flower trees are thinking about blooming producing a few clusters and the first of these little lilies whose name I can never remember that will blanket the yard soon but that’s about it. 

Coming back from feeding the wildlings I was chatting with my neighbor Gary who has recently been adopted by/adopted a big orange male tabby who roams the street. I’ve caught him over behind Pam’s house twice now. Gary’s thinking about getting him fixed so he will not roam so much. We both commented on how many stray cats there are around here lately. there’s always been a couple slinking around but several more now. There’s an orange and white male that a neighbor feeds but he stays outside, Gary’s orange tabby who just showed up in his yard one day, a black short hair that is completely wild, a gray and white male that I think fathered Momcat’s kittens (this is the kitten I call handsome boy),

Momcat of course, a black long hair cat that Gary mentioned which I had not seen until I walked to the back of the yard and Minnie had treed it,

and this big gray male (who also could be who fathered the kittens) hunkered down under the deck. Cat is not pleased.

I have no idea if they are all strays or belong to people in the area. So, yeah, that’s been my week.

Monday, February 12, 2024

more spring work and sorting christmas ornaments

I took care of two tasks Saturday…

I finally cut down the dead banana trees and hauled their carcasses to the edge of the Wild Space and tossed the sections as far as I could. I was surprised to see that last year’s pile had completely disintegrated. Here’s the before picture though I had already cut down the smaller ones on the left

and the after. Tired and sweaty when I was done.

The other thing I did was go through all Pam’s christmas ornaments with Robin taking pictures of groupings and then sent the pictures to the group chat of family members to see if anyone wanted any of it. Ended up with 10 groupings of which here are a few.

And the christmas tree skirt our mother made when we were small children. 

It’s old and has some stains on it and I’m sorry no one wants it. Of course Pam, our brother John, and I are the only ones who probably have any real memory of or association with it. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I have no use for it, my brother doesn't want it. Our kids have their own stuff and our grandkids are not old enough to have any real desire for legacy stuff. So I guess I’ll take it to SHARE (along with all the ornaments no one wants) and perhaps someone will fall in love with it stains and all. 

Sunday I planted the yellow angel trumpet in the ground in the same place the big pot had been sitting. I intended to do that last spring but waited too late because after our prolonged spring which allowed me to get all the flower beds weeded and tidied and zinnias planted weather jumped straight to late summer. Here it is planted which doesn’t look very impressive as it freezes down to the roots every winter with these arctic blasts we’ve been getting even though I cover it and I’ve cut back all the dead stalks. 

You might remember that last fall it was at least 8’ tall.

I had to dig a big hole fighting and cutting out roots to accommodate the big root ball. This is the pot it was in (21"dia x 17"t)

and even though I dug away about a third of the dirt and roots it was still big enough and heavy enough that I couldn’t lift it but rolled it into the hole. Then I mixed about half and half the nice loose dirt from the pot with the thick clayey dirt from the hole and filled in around it. It had already sprouted some tiny new growth.

Jade is in town for a few days and she’s coming over today for us to do some repair and altering of some of her clothes.

Friday, February 9, 2024

definitely spring and a pissed off cat

Some nest building going on.

Yesterday was my other busy day at SHARE. It was a food delivery day from the regional food bank and we were short four or five regular volunteers, two from the food order filling where I work and then the Elders, who work in the back with us, didn’t show up either. I usually have help restocking while I’m filling baskets and the guys put the baskets back on the rack but yesterday I had to do both those things as well as keep up with the empty baskets. I think we had 28 or 29 food orders yesterday. 

It’s always a surprise what the food bank sends us besides what Jan orders or if we get everything Jan ordered. This week we got an assortment of fresh produce and four of those huge cartons, approximately 4’ x 4’ x 4’, filled with small appliances and general house goods. I don’t know what all was in them as I was so busy I didn’t even think about taking a picture but they were filled to overflowing. Jan thought she was ordering some smaller crates of appliances for $7 each. We got those big ones for the same price. All that stuff eventually goes out on the floor for people to choose from though I’m unsure how often a client can pick something. There are quantity limits and limits on how often a client can avail themselves of everything from food to clothing to small appliances and other home goods to personal hygiene to financial assistance to miscellaneous stuff that gets donated. You can’t show up every week and get a full complement of what we offer. The only thing we cannot refuse is a request for food, however, if someone hasn’t waited the two or three months necessary for the full complement of food we offer then they get what is called the USDA box, a short basic list mandated by the government.

Wednesday when I went to feed the half wild kittens I got out one of the carriers and put a small dish of food in there, fed them all and snatched up the gray tabby while he was distracted by eating, put him in the carrier and closed the door. All seemed fine, he continued to eat until I picked up the carrier. OMG! it was like holding a hurricane in a box. He was thrashing around so forcefully that the carrier was jumping all around while I carried it to the car and then he squalled all the way to the vet and as they were carrying him to the back. When I picked him up Thursday afternoon, squalling all the way home, and let him out he ran up to each of his brothers and rubbed faces. He was glad to be back. Surprisingly enough, he let me pick him up and cuddle him a bit when I fed them today.

There is nothing worth taking a picture of except for this, my little dwarf redbud tree opening some flowers.

And nothing else to write about except politics and republicans who show us at every turn that they don’t have an ounce of integrity between the lot of them. Can’t come up with any evidence of wrongdoing, nothing to indict the president on so instead the republican special prosecutor investigating government documents found in Biden’s old office used his report to smear Biden, painting him as a memory impaired doddering old geezer who couldn’t even remember when his son died. And yet they fully support a man who daily shows us that he is a memory impaired doddering old geezer who constantly confuses one person for another or what happened under which president, who can’t even complete a sentence and garbles words and who is under indictment in three criminal cases. Go figure.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

a busy day and a mystery

yesterday’s sky

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my busiest days. This was my day yesterday…got up, fed the cat, took my meds, checked my email, did my yoga, read blogs, fixed breakfast, cleaned up after breakfast, took the dog outside while I emptied the kitchen scrap container on the compost pile, picked up some small branches, pulled up a cabbage, took a box to the post office, did the week’s grocery shopping, put away said groceries and then it was time for lunch, after lunch walked the dog who wanted a long walk, fed the kittens, browsed social media, fed the dog, started preparing dinner, sat down for 20 minutes, finished fixing dinner, cleaned up after dinner, took my meds, closed up the garage, let the dog out one more time, cleaned the cat litter box, brushed my teeth, and finally sat down for what remained of the day before I went to bed at 10.

We watched the first two episodes of the streaming show Mr. and Mrs. Smith (don’t remember which service it’s on). It is completely different from the movie of the same title and we’re not really sure if we’re going to watch more of it.

Yesterday when I was out in the yard I found this peculiar thing laying on the ground right in the middle of one of the pathways around the magnolia tree, which is about 8’ from the corner of the attached garage, clean as a whistle and with the filament intact. 

Where the fuck did this come from and how did it even get here? Granted it was very windy Monday but I can’t imagine how the wind could have blown it from wherever to where I found it. I did an image search and it’s a mini light bulb (obviously), 1 3/8” tall, +/- 12v +/- 5w used in automotive, sewing machines, vacuums, etc. I have never seen a lightbulb like this before. Checked both vehicles but nothing missing. I don’t have a light on my vacuum cleaner and the one in my sewing machine is much larger. Ah, the mysteries of the universe.

A friend of my daughter’s sent her a free box from HelloFresh, one of those outfits that send you all the ingredients for a meal and all you have to do is cook it. The free box contains three meals for two people. In order to get your free box you have to register and when you register you have the option of sending a free box (free except for $4.99 shipping charge) to someone else and she sent one to me. So yesterday, I registered and Marc and I selected our three meals due to arrive Saturday. Nowhere on the site while you are signing up for the free box did it say that this service would automatically send another box every week (you are able to pick different meals) for a total of $70 a week unless you went online and canceled (or if it did, I didn’t see it). The follow up welcome email had a little asterisk and at the bottom explained this part of the service. $70 a week for three meals for two people is nearly 75% of my weekly grocery bill so I’ll be canceling after we receive our box. If we’re going to spend that much per meal (and quite a few of the meals had additional charges so the price per meal increased sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot) we’d rather go to a restaurant where we won’t have to cook it or clean up after it.

There’s been a huge flock of starlings in the neighborhood all week and they are loud. I’m in the house and I can hear them.

This afternoon when I go over to feed the kittens, the little gray tabby is getting scooped up to pet and cuddle and then shoved in the cat carrier and taken to the vet where he will be neutered tomorrow. I’m only going to do one every few weeks to give myself time to re-earn their trust. I think they might be a little wary after this afternoon.

Ten petal anemone are in full bloom

even the occasional pink and purple version.