Thursday, April 29, 2021

averting disaster, more yard work and spring blooms or not

I can do a brisk walk for a long time without getting winded or tired but I have no wind or stamina for running which was brought home to me yesterday morning. The county sent it's mower out to attend to the ditches and in the past that has been both sides of the driveway into the shop yard. Today since I've been keeping the ditch in front of Pam's house cleared and trimmed it's just the other ditch. And then he moved over to our side of the street and started pulling the tractor mower towards the ditch in front of our house where the bluebonnets are going to seed. The county mowed them down a couple of years ago when we weren't here much to our dismay because the seed wasn't mature yet and the last two years has seen fewer bluebonnets in the spring. When it became apparent that he intended to cut the bluebonnets down again I dashed out the garage door and ran as fast as I could down the driveway waving my arms and shouting NO NO! OMG, I thought my heart was gonna bust, panting for air. He very kindly moved back onto the street and opened the door so I could tell him why he shouldn't mow that section...bluebonnets (gasp) seed (gasp) not ready (gasp) we'll mow it. OK, he says, no problem, they just told me to mow the ditches.

I've been busy in the yard still, though I've had a day or two when I basically did nothing. I weeded a large section of the day lily bed, fertilized them and spread out some mulch, spread out fertilizer for the azaleas but I won't mulch them until after I fertilize again in mid-May. Also worked in another flower bed and still plenty of that to do. It's really dry, no rain to speak of for too long so I'm back on my watering schedule. The poppies still look good but they are starting to wane now 

and the other long flower bed with the love-in-a-mist and the rocket larkspur and the german verbena has finally come into bloom, a little later than usual due to the deep freeze. 

Not a big return on the larkspur so I plan to scatter new seed this fall. The sweet peas are growing, getting tall, and yet no sign of any flower buds. 

They better hurry up or it's going to get too hot.

I had a visitor to the house the other day. Big Mama was out of her pond, hungry, she spied me just inside the open back door and made a beeline for me and actually came in the house. She's approached the door before but never come in. After she got my attention she turned around and headed back to her pond.

I know it's hard to see her but the white triangular spot is the top of her head.

So other than working in the yard here and there, mostly weeding getting the woodland violets and the mostly gone by baby-blue-eyes and nut grass and invasive black and blue salvia and handfuls of orange cosmos I swear every seed that falls sprouts and other weeds out so they aren't crowding the next wave of bloomers, and relaxing and reading I haven't really done much. I still have two big projects out and reorganizing the garage and doing the same to the shop including replacing all the water lines which cracked, and in some cases exploded the PVC, and so, once again, I do not have a functioning toilet in the shop. Well, garage first. Maybe this weekend.

Did I mention that the Boston ferns are coming back? Slowly, but they are putting up new fronds. And it's been several weeks since I checked on the ponytail palm so I was glad to see this when I looked yesterday.

May 1st is nearly upon us so I'll be digging up the dead stumps of the hibiscus, bougainvillea, star of india, and desert rose bush.

And tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be 71. That just blows my mind. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

just politics and a pretty flower (your reward for slogging through this post)

*I'm keeping this up for a while to make sure everyone who checks in now and then sees it. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until July when the 'follow by email' stops functioning. Starting in July, my intention is to email links to the email subscriber group when I publish a new post. If you are in this group but do not wish to continue receiving notices of new posts, just reply with 'remove'.


While I have been keeping a cursory eye on politics, and it's business as usual for the republicans ie oppose everything even if it's good for the country even if they are in favor of it but not going to give the democrats a win, I haven't really felt like writing about it til now I guess, content to relax a bit with Biden.

Republicans continue to lie and spin the wildest conspiracy theories, like that Biden is going to take away people's meat, allowing only 4 pounds of meat a year per person, an accusation so absurd as to be beyond belief and yet my governor tweeted it out as if it was a real thing, not in Texas, he says.

Their newest outrage is claiming Biden's DHS is handing out copies of VP Kamala Harris' children's book at government expense including it in welcome bags for migrant children coming across the border. When in actuality, these welcome bags are at one facility in one state and are provided by a non-governmental agency that instituted a drive for donations for basic hygiene supplies and yes, a book drive for these migrant children. How many of Harris' books were donated? One. That's what they're up in arms about, one donated book.

And Margery Taylor Green declaring the totally unknown 'Blue Anon' is more dangerous than Qanon apparently unaware that the Urban Dictionary, from which she got the Blue Anon BS is one of those online databases that anyone can add to or edit an entry with no basis in fact. And before that she claimed that the night after Chauvin's guilty verdict that DC was dead, “Police are everywhere and have riot gear” (untrue) and “BLM is the strongest terrorist threat in our country”, (also untrue, it wasn't BLM storming the capitol, killing police, with the intent to capture and kill members of congress nor was it antifa, their other bogeyman), she tweeted claiming everyone is staying home in fear of possible riots when it was really business as usual in DC that night.

And their plain ignorance about this country is astounding as when Nancy Mace objected to DC becoming a state because they didn't even have as many people as Wyoming when, in fact, DC is more populous than Wyoming.

And Ted Cruz claiming the democrats want to destroy the 1st amendment when it is the republicans in Florida and other states that are passing laws limiting the rights of protesters to assemble (apparently now in Florida, 3 people assembled is a riot with heinous consequences including losing the right to vote) and giving a pass to motorists who plow through them.

And Tucker Carlson with his Fox rant about people, children, wearing masks outside and that conservatives should accost every child and parent whose child is wearing a mask outside. It's child abuse, he says, and the police and CPS should be called on these parents. This from people who have screamed about their rights and freedom being taken away by being asked to wear masks in public and in buildings and yet they have no problem denying other people their right and freedom to wear a mask.

And now republicans are accusing democrats of trying to pack the Supreme Court because Biden has established a commission to investigate whether it should be expanded or not, when it's the republicans who did pack the Supreme Court by refusing to allow a vote on Obama's pick his last year in office, by strong arming/threatening Kennedy into resigning, and by pushing through RBG's replacement not just in Trump's last year but during the election that put Biden in office and the court is now out of balance 6/3 conservative/liberal, and not just conservative, but far right conservative.

This is what they do, accuse democrats of doing what they themselves are doing/have done.

And what if Biden decides to expand the Court in order to achieve balance? Republicans would have you believe that it's an attack on democracy and the constitution but the fact is the size of the Supreme Court has changed 7 times in the history of our nation, sometimes expanding, sometimes decreasing. The last time the number of justices on the court changed was to the current 9 in 1869. While Biden has, as mentioned above, created a commission to study if the court should be expanded as well as other considerations, like revising the 'for life' appointments, some House democrats have introduced a bill to expand the Court to 13 but Pelosi has no intention of bringing it to the floor at this time. So as usual republicans have created a tempest in a teapot in order to keep their shrinking base enraged. Because that's all they've got. They have no policies besides obstruction ignoring the many republicans in the country in favor of Biden's policies. They don't even have a platform for these four years besides kissing Trump's loser fat ass they were so convinced he would win. Or maybe they didn't bother with a platform because they knew he would lose.

Do they really believe their lies and gas lighting? Maybe the most far right Trump cult drunk of them but mostly they know it's bullshit but it's their only plan...keep the country destabilized with their lies, keep their base angry, prevent any progress, and engage in voter suppression with the aim of regaining control of the government in the 2022 midterm elections. Because god forbid they actually create some policies that help the American people, that modernize our infrastructure, that fights against authoritarianism, policies that the electorate is in favor of in order to win elections.

Bottom line is that we achieved a short respite with Biden's election but we have not ended the threat from our internal terrorists and their desire to destroy our democracy in favor of republican/Trump authoritarianism. We need to remain vigilant, continue to fight voter suppression, and turn out in droves for the midterms. We cannot afford to lose even one house of congress and with this new census, New York and California have both lost a seat while Texas has gained two and Florida, one.

So, while we won a great battle, the war is far from over. 


heirloom dwarf gladiolus

Saturday, April 24, 2021

busy day and bone health

*I'm keeping this up for a while to make sure everyone who checks in now and then sees it. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until July when the 'follow by email' stops functioning. I've reinstalled the blogger 'follow me' widget.

I did manage to download the subscriber list with over 1,000 spam 'subscribers' all from and all within a couple of months after I first put the widget on my sidebar. I ended up with 23 legit subscribers. So, starting in July, my intention is to email links to the group when I publish a new post. If you are in this group but do not wish to continue receiving notices of new posts, just reply with 'remove'.

Still can't figure out why my pictures won't open full size when you click on them. Most my images are 10” in the longest dimension, sometimes 12”, sometimes 8”. There must be a setting somewhere but I can't find it. I usually drag my images from the desktop to the post body but this time I'll use the 'add image' function to see if that makes a difference.


Thursday was a busy day. Spent my morning at SHARE, then after lunch I used the trimmer to cut the ditch in front of Pam's house (two gas tanks worth of time) including the large patch of poison ivy (that I've poisoned TWICE) that had started growing and while I was wearing a hat, sunglasses, long pants, and boots, I did have on a short sleeved shirt so when I finished that I peeled off the long pants full of poison ivy juice and jumped in the car (yes, I did put on other pants) and went to the feed store for the poison ivy soap they sell and another container of brush/stump killer to treat the poison ivy with again when it puts on more new growth. Then I scrubbed the exposed skin on my arms and neck with the soap and so far so good.

Next was walking the dog, then washing the dishes of which I only got the plates done because I was also fixing the roasted cauliflower recipe that Ms Moon sent me (and it is really good). I figured I would have time to wash the utensils during one of the two 15 minute roasting times but alas that did not happen. I had asked my sister to pick me up a small jar of green olives when she went to the store which she did saying it was the only small jar they had and I didn't realize they weren't pitted until the cauliflower was in the oven and I was ready to make the dressing. With chopped up green olives. Turns out you can't just pit a green olive like you can a cherry. I had to pare as much of the olive off the seed as I could until I had 1/3 cup. So there went my utensil washing time. Also, the recipe called for pancetta or bacon, no pancetta, I'll just use bacon but it wasn't until I was making it that I realized they must have meant canadian bacon because I was supposed to cut it up into 1/8” cubes. No way was I going to cut up four slices of raw bacon into 1/8” cubes so I fried it and crumbled it and just sprinkled it on after the cauliflower had finished roasting.

If you're not interested in my bone health you can skip the next paragraph.

Yesterday I had a follow up appointment with my primary care doc to discuss the results of my bone scan. They scan two areas, the femur and the lumbar spine and there are two scores for each, the T score which is a healthy woman of childbearing age and the Z score which is the average norm for post-menopausal women. Women tend to lose bone density as the estrogen levels decline. My previous scan was five years ago so in five years, my femur went from a Tscore of -2.2 to -2.6 and a Zscore of -0.6 to -0.9 so a slight decrease. The lumbar spine went from a Tscore of -2.5 to -3.1 and a Zscore of -0.5 to -1.0 so a larger decrease in bone density there. Five years ago my chance of a bone fracture was 12.5% within 10 years. My doc calculated my current risk of fracture with the new data and that has increased to 13.something% now. Still pretty good odds. She didn't recommend the medication because she knows I won't take it (heinous side effects and not that effective) and because of my general health and activity levels. She did recommend exercises to strengthen core muscles (which I do some already) to help protect my lumbar spine. I really like my doctor, she's an osteopath so open to proactive health measures like diet and exercise and supplements as opposed insisting on meds for every condition though she will prescribe them if/when needed.

It rained off and on all day yesterday which we really needed and I spent the rest of the day doing nothing including not washing the utensils.

Since I need an image or two to test the whole embiggin thing here's a picture of my sister, brother and me taken the night before he left. Pam is the oldest, then me (on the left), the rebellious middle child, then John, the baby. Not a great picture of me but whatcha gonna do?

And this of two carpenter bees on the rocket larkspur.

Edit: yay! The images embiggin!


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

chilly nights and spring flowers

*I'm keeping this up for a while to make sure everyone who checks in now and then sees it. I've gone ahead and removed the 'follow by email' function since it's going to be dysfunctional starting in July. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until then. I've reinstalled the blogger 'follow me' function. I initially took it down because my follower count stayed stagnant for years. Once again, if you do follow by email you will have to be more pro-active to see my posts either through bookmarking or getting a blogger account (no blog required) and follow that way but you will still have to go to it instead of it coming to you. One person suggested that readers use Feedly. I don't know anything about it but you might check it out. And I'm supposed to be able to download the subscriber list. If that happens I can create a group and email the notification of a new post myself so I'll look into that.

Before I get on with the post, can anyone tell me why, when I click on an image in my blog and the window opens with all the pictures as icons across the bottom, my image shows up small instead of the full size image it is. When I click on images in other blogs to 'embiggin', they open full size. There must be a setting somewhere but I can't find it.


Our brother John left for home early Friday morning. The weekend continued to be overcast and chilly with the sun finally starting to come out Monday. Yesterday it was completely clear and warm. I did some weeding around the day lilies Monday and finally got the 7 little banana trees planted after I dug them up to reclaim the border of the flower bed which I still have not reconstructed. Over the weekend I planted another bunch of zinnia sprouts but I don't have high hopes for their survival. I don't know why they never took off.

Another survivor, the purple orchid tree finally put out new growth from the roots. I'm sure that's the last of the survivors. I'm giving the hibiscus, bougainvillea, star of india, and the desert rose trumpet flower bush 10 more days but they are dead. And another surprise fatality, the rain tree at the back of the property died. I'm actually not sad about that as it was not a pretty shaped tree in that it is crowded by an oak and wild grape vines are constantly invading it and every damn seed pod it dropped produced trees. I'm tired of pulling up rain trees everywhere. And while the big tallow tree in the little backyard came out fully, the two small ones along the drive are mostly dead from about halfway up. My neighbor's small tallows have done the same.

Spring keeps getting interrupted here what with the arctic freeze and the near week of overcast and chilly weather last week and the cool nights this week so far. The larkspur and the love-in-a-mist are just now starting to bloom, way behind schedule but other things have come and gone. I worked out in the yard all day yesterday, finally decided to put the porterweed in the ground so I did. Then I fertilized the azaleas and roses, weeded the front flower bed. My friend Debbie came by with a small volunteer Texas mountain laurel tree from her big one and I got it potted so I can baby it til it gets over the shock of being dug up. Meanwhile I'll figure out where to plant it. Then I went around looking for the poison ivy and pecan trees I had spotted but damn if I could find them again.

More pictures of blooming things...

some things really liked that frigid week like the pink roses all over town, I've never seen them bloom this profusely.

And the pink climbing rose as well.

The canopy overhead was full of roses.

The mock dogwood also seemed to like it.

The poppies continue to be brilliant.

And the indigofera is outdoing itself this year.

It's third spring, the columbine finally decided to bloom.

The maroon japanese iris are also plentiful but that may be because they have multiplied.

The yellow angel trumpet is unbelievable. There are 17 open flowers in this picture. I've had two in the ground (both now dead) but neither ever got this big or bloomed this much as this one in the pot. The minute I stepped out yesterday evening the scent was so strong I could smell them on the other side of the house.

Ten flowers in this picture.

Most of this is still blooming but the pink roses and mock dogwood have gone by.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

another day trip

*Minor changes to the blog layout. I've gone ahead and removed the 'follow by email' function since it's going to be dysfunctional starting in July, no sense in more people signing on that way for just two months or so. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until then. And I've reinstalled the blogger 'follow me' function. I initially took it down because my follower count stayed stagnant for years and it was depressing to look at. Once again, if you do follow by email you will have to be more proactive to see my posts either through bookmarking or getting a blogger account (no blog required) and follow that way but you will still have to go to it instead of it coming to you.

Our trip to Washington-On-The-Brazos was on Monday. Tuesday besides going to the grocery store and taking the recycling, I worked over at the shop yard cutting up all the dead branches to a more manageable size from the huge yellow bells, purple orchid tree, and the morning glory bush that I pruned off last Sunday hauling it to the burn pile. Wednesday we had planned to go to Galveston for the day but John, our brother who is a very handy guy, got started on a project for Pam at her house replacing the faucet in her sink with a dragon faucet. 

What should have been a simple switch out took one and a half days, two trips to Lowe's, three trips to El Campo, one trip to Tractor Supply, and an order from Amazon and lots of muttering and stomping around. While that was going on, I planted another batch of my zinnia sprouts which may or may not survive.

So we went to Galveston, a two hour drive away, on Thursday instead. Galveston has a touristy historical district called The Strand full of grand old restored buildings,

bars and restaurants, and touristy and other shops. We walked down to one end, had lunch, and walked back on the other side going into this shop or that  where we saw more questionable sodas and clone serum among other things.

Did they really expect to sell clothespins for $1 a piece?

Seed pod nativities,

if only.

We thought these were hilarious back in the far corner of a christmas shop.

Flavored salt and wild beast jerky

and jewelry for what ails you (the full list had about 40 items on it).

Part of a big mural on the side of one building.

Then we drove down the seawall and eventually parked and walked down the stairs to the beach. It was overcast and chilly and windy so we didn't tarry long.

About 4:30 we headed back home and were about halfway when Pam's car emitted a soft little whistle. What was that, I asked. Don't know she says, no warning lights on the dash. A few minutes later, another sort of a thunk and a whizz and the battery light came on and the power steering failed. John took over driving Pam's Honda Pilot and we managed another half hour before the automatic transmission started thunking and clunking and jerking so we pulled into a gas station about a half hour from home. John lifted the hood, well, there's the problem, the serpentine belt is gone. The belt that causes all sorts of things to work, like the alternator and the power steering. Called AAA and a tow truck would be forthcoming. Meanwhile I called Marc to come pick John and I up since only one person could ride in the tow truck. He arrived and we waited till the tow truck arrived which was about 20 minutes after that, it was our own Poor Farms wrecker service in Wharton and since he knew where to take the car Pam rode back with us.

So, as they say, all's well that ends well. Pam talked to the mechanic Friday morning and it seems a bolt broke off which caused the loss of the serpentine belt. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

a day trip and a little Texas history

You may have noticed I've been mostly MIA this last week. That's because my brother has been in town and he and Pam and I have been out and about. Before I get on with this post I want to inform you, my readers, that Blogger is getting rid of the 'follow by email' function starting in July. If that is how you get notifications of a new post by moi, you will no longer receive notifications via email after that time. So they have given instructions on how to download those subscriber contacts and migrate them to another service but have not suggested another service. Consequently, if you still want to be privy to the minutia of my life, you will have to either bookmark my blog and check it however often you like (I generally try to post every other day) or get a blogger account (no you don't have to have a blog) and follow that way after I put the 'follow this blog' widget back on the sidebar. In either case, you will have to be a little more proactive and in the meantime I will try and migrate you to another email notification service if there is one. It may be beyond my personal ability though.

Now for some Texas history. Last Monday we went to Washington-On-The-Brazos state park. W-O-T-B was a community on the Brazos River at a ferry crossing in the hill country an hour and a half drive north of Wharton. The region, at the time Mexico won their independence from Spain in 1821, was mostly populated by Native American tribes. To help protect the area from horse thieves and Native American attacks, Mexico invited Americans to settle there and many did, lured by the large land grants available, bringing their slaves with them and while the Mexican government abolished slavery in the 1820s it allowed a temporary exemption in Texas. By the 1830s the population had increased significantly with tensions rising between the American settlers and the Mexican government over the attempt to end slavery, end immigration from America, and taxes that Mexico imposed. Things deteriorated rapidly when Santa Anna became president of Mexico in 1833 and abandoned the Mexican constitution that the American settlers had agreed to live under. As Santa Anna attempted to control the unruly Texians, war became inevitable.

The first battle with Mexico came after Texian settlers in Gonzales on October 2, 1835 told the Mexican army to “come and take it”. A few days later, the colonists surprised the Mexican army at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad. The short battle confirmed the Texas Revolution was under way. In November 1835, delegates, known as The Consultation, met at San Felipe. The group agreed to form an interim government, appointing Henry Smith governor and Sam Houston as head of the army. By the end of 1835 Texians had managed to take San Antonio from Mexican General Cos giving the settlers the impression they had won the war. But the Texian fighters, even though they had a cause they believed in, were a scraggly disorganized force and by February, the fledgling government had disintegrated, they failed to reinforce San Antonio thinking it would take months for Santa Anna to retaliate and when word of Santa Anna's approach came in late February 1836, the few defenders left in the city took refuge in the Alamo Mission.

Meanwhile on March 2, 1836 the Council in Washington drafted and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. A few days later a rider who managed to escape the Alamo arrived to gather up reinforcements. General Houston told the Council to continue their work of designing a government and constitution while he gathered up a group of men and headed to San Antonio only to find the Alamo surrounded with no hope of getting through. They returned to Washington and the Alamo fell on March 6 as did Goliad later in the month and Santa Anna turned his attention to the rest of the Texian upstarts. As Santa Anna approached orders went out to the townspeople to gather up only what they could carry, pile everything else up to be burned, and to flee. As the last folk left, they torched the town leaving nothing behind for Santa Anna's army to sustain themselves with. This, the Runaway Scrape, was repeated in other communities as Santa Anna approached.

General Houston and Santa Anna kept tabs on each other as they traveled on opposite sides of the river eventually meeting up at San Jacinto. Facing each other across the river, Santa Anna decided that the Texians would not cross the river and attack and so he ordered his army to spread out, have lunch, and siesta, a fatal mistake. General Sam Houston's army crossed the river and surprised a napping Santa Anna who was taken prisoner and Texas won their independence. 

This village – site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and first capitol of the Republic of Texas – began in 1822 as a ferry crossing, here the historic La Bahia Road (now Ferry Street) spanned the Brazos River.

In 1834, a townsite was laid out and named, probably for Washington, Georgia, home of a leading settler.

In 1835, as political differences with Mexico led toward war, the general council (the insurgent Texas government) met in the town. Enterprising citizens then promoted the place as a site for the convention of 1836 and, as a 'bonus', provided a free meeting hall, thus Texas' Declaration of Independence came to be signed in an unfinished building owned by a gunsmith.

The provisional government of the Republic was also organized in Washington, but was removed March 17, as news of the advancing Mexican army caused a general panic throughout the region. The townspeople fled too on March 20, 1836, in the 'Runaway Scrape'.

After the Texan victory at San Jacinto, the town thrived for a period. It was again the capitol of Texas, 1842 – 1845; and became center of Washington State Park in 1916. It now contains historic buildings and 'Barrington' (plantation), home of Anson Jones, the last president of Texas.”

Now the site of all this history is a state park. Since nothing of the original village remains, a group reconstructed the unfinished building owned by the gunsmith on the original site of that building using the same materials and original construction techniques of the time.

I took the next picture standing at the lookout where the ferry was supposed to be but the topography must have changed because it's a steep drop down to the river from there. That brown streak through the middle behind the greenery is the Brazos River.

They also have an amphitheater in the park

and as I rounded the corner of the far retaining wall of the stage in front of the rows of benches I came face to face with a huge black snake, 5' - 6' long. It startled me...snake! big snake! I shouted...I startled it and it turned pronto and zoomed back into it's bolt hole in the retaining wall.

And the biggest magnolia tree I have ever seen. I couldn't get it all in the picture.