Saturday, December 31, 2022

unexpected flowers and beginning the clean up

It turns out there were three buds with flowers descending on the pruned yellow trumpet flower branches I brought in and the first two opened fully Wednesday night and their lovely lemony scent filled the room. And then Friday morning I woke to find that two more buds had flowers descending and it looks as if at least one stalk in the water is starting to send out little root buds. The third flower opened last night.

Earlier in the week I moved the bigger plants in pots that I brought in just for this cold spell back outside and uncovered everything I had covered and while all the foliage is brown and ugly everything seems to still be green at (and below) ground level, even the tender porterweed. The one exception is the ponytail palm which I think at this point will stay green! The foliage looks good, maybe only a little damage, but as near as I can tell, all the 'necks' are firm.

Our son came out to visit Wednesday, our first time to see each other in the flesh since covid hit. Good to see him and hug him. He hadn't seen the remodeling of the house after the flood and then we went over and visited with Pam who is back from Albuquerque. Later I started cutting back all the dead plant life, so far just the ginger and firespike and all the mushy goo from bulbs of all kinds. Our crazy weather, after 5 days of arctic freeze we're now having a week of high temps in the 70˚s. Big Mama has survived once again and she was out on her sunning spot.

Nothing much going on around here, I always consider the time between Christmas and New Year's to be a lost week where no one does anything and nothing gets done, the recuperative week after several weeks of festive activity. Not that we engage in festive activities but the rest of the world that does.

I spent the day yesterday cutting back dead growth leaving piles of debris for later retrieval as I move around this half acre and that's my plan for today as well. Might even torch the burn pile. It'll take several more days to get it all. I'll leave the banana trees for last as they will be a days effort all by themselves and that's not even counting the ones over in the shop yard.

Well, I'd best get out there and get to it.


Monday, December 26, 2022

falling over brown stuff

I trust everyone who celebrates Christmas had a loving festive holiday. We had our usual quiet day though the twins, Jade and Autumn, came by for a visit while they're in town.

They left today, headed back to Austin as Autumn has to be back at work tomorrow. She's already gotten a promotion and raise. Jade, whose official residence is in Dallas with her great aunt, works from home so as long as she has her work computer with her she can do so anywhere. And now that she has a car, that's her (used) jeep in the picture, she's not tied to Dallas as long as her department continues to work from home. Still no car for Autumn but she has her moped which had been malfunctioning so she's been ubering to work and taking the bus home but now it seems to be fixed finally so I gave her my heavy coat since she didn't have one. She had to move, again, on the 23rd. Her living situation is in constant flux, has moved three times since she graduated last May, but the apartment she's subletting now for the next 6 months is closer to her work and will give her some time to find permanent housing. My grandson, Audra, and my great grandgirl are supposed to be coming in later this week from Arkansas. And my sister returns from Albuquerque tomorrow.

I've basically been hunkered down in the house for the last three days though I did have to go out for birdseed. I usually buy a giant bag at Costco which is heavy on the sunflower seeds and light on the millet and that's what I ran out of. The seed I got Saturday looked to have a good proportion but in reality, it's heavy on the millet and the birds don't seem to like it as much. They like the pecans I've been putting out though. I put them out for the squirrels to keep them off the bird feeder but the blue jays have helped themselves.

Plenty of damage out there...ginger, firespike, shrimp plant, night blooming jasmine, 

confederate roses, banana trees, 

morning glory bush, yellow bells, purple orchid tree, rock rose, Mexican bird of paradise, Rangoon creeper, pink desert willow vine, Mexican petunias, toad lily, salvia, plumbago, turk's cap, white and purple Philippine lily, hummingbird bush, and lantana all frozen to the ground. Leopard plant, crinums, spider lilies, agapanthus, amaryllis, society garlic, swamp lily, some easter lily and daylily foliage all mush. Roses and azaleas damaged. 

Orange cosmos, 

marigolds, and my little broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower plants are dead. I think it will all come back (well, not the dead ones) as it has the past two winters after days of a hard freeze, except for the annuals for which I have seed. Tomorrow it should be warm enough to uncover everything out in the yard and pull back the big tarp in the garage and see what there is to see. Today was warm enough but still one more night below freezing.

It's not all dismal. Apparently two of the 10 buds on the the yellow angel trumpet branches I cut off and put in water were far enough along that the flowers have descended. It remains to be seen if they actually open.

I finally got motivated Sunday and today to do my home yoga routine, even threw in some extra stuff and Minnie got a walk for the first time since last Thursday so we are slowly warming up and thawing out.

Tomorrow is Marcmas! Time marches on and birthdays add up. He'll be 71.


Friday, December 23, 2022

the frozen south

I thought, this time I am going to be completely prepared in advance. By Wednesday afternoon everything was pruned and covered. I was especially happy with how I had covered the enormous ponytail palm. It was only a year's growth like last winter but I have everlasting hope that this year I will save the foliage. It's planted on the south side of a concrete wall about 4' high and I always anchor the tarp along the top of the wall and down from there and then all around the bottom thinking the concrete will exude any residual heat from the day. About 5 PM Thursday I called Robin, who is house/cat sitting for my sister while she's gone, to look out the window and see if the ponytail was still covered as this front is blowing in with high winds. Yes, she says, oh wait, it's sliding off now. Well fuck. Grabbed my coat and my ropes and headed over to recover the ponytail. Robin came out to help and now that baby is covered and cinched up like a whore in a corset. But goddamn that wind was cold.

So, yeah, this arctic front, mumble mumble fucking people and global warming, is a bitch. We do not ordinarily have winters that get this cold and yet this is the third one in a row. Hey! You people up there in the frozen north, close the fucking door!

My desk with the vase of cuttings to root, my sister's gardenia bonsai, and the three yellow angel trumpet branches that had the most buds on them, maybe one or two will still open (wishful thinking there).

It dropped down to 16˚ but not until early this morning. The wind is still blowing with gusts up to 25 mph. Cat was convinced she wanted to go outside but has finally stopped bugging me. There's a 12” icicle hanging from the edge of the birdbath which is frozen solid, the turtle pond is only partially covered with ice so the birds still have access to water and I imagine Big Mama is hunkered down by the pump motor which creates some heat, and the bird feeder is almost empty so I'm going to have to brave the outdoors in a little while.

We were fairly busy at SHARE Thursday and the temp was climbing to 60˚. When it was time to leave at 1 PM and I drove around back to get the cardboard from the day to take it to the recycling center which I do every Thursday, the wind had shifted and there was a slight chill in it. I planned to go to the library on my way home but wasn't quite finished with my current book, had about 20 more pages, so I had taken it in with me and in between having to refill baskets I managed to finish so now I'm set with two books.

I took pictures of some of the personal hygiene items that were donated last week. These two pictures comprise only about half of what was donated. There was a smaller full box next to these and also doesn't count the amount that has already been brought in and organized in boxes in the back room.

I moved the bird feeder back under the hood hanging from the wire strung between trees. I watched a squirrel in this tree or that tree or the shepherd's crook or the edge of the roof or on the elephant plant stand trying to figure out how to get to the bird feeder. Eventually it or another started walking the wire. I chased it off. Several times. They are little pigs and spill more of the sunflower seeds on the ground than they eat. I have a tiny forest of sunflower sprouts under the shepherd's crook. Or did. I imagine they're frozen like everything else outside now. I finally took pity on her and put out a dish of pecans and one of cracked corn at the bottom of the tallow tree she was sitting in last. You might ask where the pecans came from since I've been moaning that I haven't gotten a single one from my trees for three years now. Someone donated a 2 year old sealed bag of pecan halves to SHARE but we can't give out food that is beyond its sell or use by date so I brought them home and threw them in the freezer thinking I would test one and see if it was edible and then forgot about them until today.

Oh, I see a squirrel in the tallow eating a pecan so I guess she found them.

If it wasn't so damn cold it would be a gorgeous day outside.

I've got dinner thawing out, stuffed cabbage casserole left over from a previous day's cooking so I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day on the couch with a book, Minnie on one side, Cat on the other, until it's time to heat it up.


Monday, December 19, 2022

preparations, white knuckles, J6 referrals

Minnie and Cat getting closer.

I got up Sunday morning and checked the weather app hoping hoping hoping that the low of 21˚ on Thursday night had been revised upward. It had been revised all right but not upward. Now the predicted low for Thursday is 15˚!!! And 19˚ Friday night, 31˚ Saturday night so I spent the day pruning back the pink angel trumpet and the begonia and brought them and my tall cactus/succulent in the house, pruned the tops of the wedding bouquet plumerias so the big tarp would cover them in the garage, took cuttings of the firespike and morning glory bush which will freeze to the ground but I don't know if they'll come back, moved the two potted altheas into the garage, moved the big pot of walking iris in the house, snugged the white orchid tree up against the house protected on the north and west side, cut back the porterweed and bougainvillea in preparation for being covered both of which probably won't survive the teens anyway as well as the bird of paradise and gardenia which I will also cover. I'll have to cut the yellow trumpet flower back hard to cover it and it's just now covered with buds. I'll have to cover the ponytail palm too but I don't expect the foliage to survive the teens and twenties. It will be the third year in a row that its growth gets frozen down to the bulb. We're looking at 36 – 48 continuous hours well below freezing. The ginger, the shrimp plant which just started blooming, the leopard plant, the confederate roses, the crinums, the banana trees, the morning glory bush, the firespike, the yellow bells will all freeze to the ground. Some of those may not come back and I'm afraid this might just kill my azaleas. It took them til this summer to really recover from the arctic blast two winters ago and my sweet little Japanese azalea is so small.

I'll cover it but not the rest of the azaleas because I just don't have the material to cover everything. Hopefully it will finally kill off the white fly on my camellia that has resisted my efforts just so long as my camellia doesn't die as well.

I know my readers up north are probably rolling their eyes since they deal with temperatures like this and worse every winter plus snow and ice but I live on the coastal plain of Texas. It's not supposed to get this cold here. Just looked at the revised four nights: 15˚, 19˚, 19˚, 25˚.

I did all that yesterday so that I can start getting things covered Tuesday and Wednesday. Today rain was predicted and I needed to take my sister to the airport this morning, an hour there and an hour back, for her flight to spend the holiday with her daughter in Albuquerque. It sprinkled/drizzled a little bit on the way there but mostly no rain at all and for the first half hour on the way back, but the last half hour was through a near zero visibility hard rain white knuckle drive. Seriously, if the vehicle in front of me was white, I basically couldn't see it unless they tapped their brakes and then I could see the tail lights. Fortunately I made it home without incident.


The last J6 committee hearing was today and they reviewed their previous findings which findings they felt were enough for criminal referrals of Trump and unnamed 'others' (possibly Eastman, Meadows, Giuliani, and Clark) to the DOJ for:

  1. Obstruction of an Official Proceeding - Title 18 Section 1512

  2. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States – Title 18 Section 371

  3. Conspiracy to Make a False Statement – Title 18 Section 1001

  4. Incite”, “Assist” or “Aid or Comfort” an Insurrection – Title 18 Section 2383

Unfortunately a referral doesn't mean the DOJ will follow up with an investigation and indictment but we have high hopes that this DOJ will proceed on the recommendations of the J6 Committee. In addition to these criminal referrals, the J6 Committee recommended 4 House members, including McCarthy, to the House ethics committee for refusing to honor subpoenas. That will likely go nowhere once the new House is sworn in since republicans have a slim majority. And of course the usual House republicans and the MAGAts over at the cesspool Twitter has become are going nuts.


Well, I totally messed up my 'finished with my task' post. I meant to juxtapose the starting picture (which is really first day progress picture because, well, me who always forgets to take a before picture) with the finished picture. So I know we are all tired of seeing these pictures but I'm going to post the two anyway because I want to see them together. You don't have to look at them or comment on them. You can see the hackberry tree in both pictures that I still need to cut down.


Alright, tomorrow is grocery shop day and my night to fix dinner which I think I'm going to make a lentil stew and in between those tasks I'll start covering stuff.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

monster task, monster, monster bush

Friday I headed over to the shop yard with cart, hoe, and loppers determined to git 'er done. It took me less than two hours I think but man, that section had some monstrous roots; big, thick, long, ropy roots. 

where I left off


The only reason I was able to do it at all is because all that dirt is not the dirt the ground around here consists of. This is bought high quality garden soil, about 8 yards or so, loose sandy loam which made it so easy to hoe it out and pull roots loose. Well, easier. It would have been an impossible task for a person with a hoe and loppers if it was our heavy clingy clayey dirt. I wished many times that I could shovel it up into a wheelbarrow and use it in the low spots at home. But all those roots made that just a pipe dream.

I'm glad I got it all done Friday because the weather did turn colder today and the next four days with overcast or rain, highs in the 50s, lows in the 40s until next Thursday when the low is predicted to plunge to 21˚. This does not make me happy. The banana trees will freeze to the ground, the ginger will too but then it does even with a moderate freeze. The porterweed will have to be cut back and covered and it may still die but that's OK as I've potted up several volunteers, the pink and yellow angel trumpet will have to be cut back drastically so I can cover them though I may be able to get the pink in the house and of course the yellow has started blooming for the first time this year. I'll have to bring in the begonias, cover the ponytail palm but all the foliage will still die off...again. Will have to cover the bird of paradise and the bougainvillea and the gardenia. Fuck! And I hope to all the powers that be that the brand new water pipes in the shop don't explode like they did last year. I'll have to do a better job of draining them. I'm still hoping against hope that as we get closer they'll revise the low upwards.


I'm sure we've all seen by now the Major Announcement by Trump on Thursday for his NFT digital trading cards, for which he has been roundly mocked, showing him as a superhero and other ridiculous comic book depictions of him all tough, buff, and muscular (and if you haven't seen his video announcement, it is hilarious) which could be purchased with cryptocurrency or credit card. I had to google NFTs which are supposed to be connected to blockchain (which I don't really understand) which is supposed to make them secure and uncopyable, like your domain name. Apparently NFTs are becoming very popular for original content by artists of all genres. What I did find out is that first you have to establish a digital wallet, then when you purchase your NFT it is sent to your digital wallet from which you can access the image or game or video or music or writing or whatever. This makes sense to me if what you purchased is a game or video or music or even essays or other writing that you would need a device for to use but not for digital art. At least for me. I tried to find out if you could print out your digital art you purchased to have a hard copy but I haven't been able to determine this yet. I gather not. Personally, if I buy a piece of art, even if it is a ridiculous trading card, I want to be able to hang it on my wall where I can see it ll the time. Instead, I assume, the only way to gaze upon your purchase is through a device when you go to your digital wallet. The other thing about NFTs is that as an investment, you can resell it but 10% of the sale price goes back to the original creator (which for artists is a good thing) and there would probably be a fee from whatever platform you use to sell it on.

According to the site through which these cards could be purchased, they sold out 45,000 for $99 each in less than 24 hours, which I find extremely hard to believe, and the percentage of the purchase price that goes to Trump, however much that is depending on the licensing agreement he signed, goes straight into his personal pocket. At any rate, the site now says sold out. Here's a link to a very good article, Trump's Trading Card Grift Is Worse Than You Think by Kurt Eichenwald, about how it all works, who is behind it, etc. To say that the whole thing is very hinky is putting it mildly. Speculation is that sales were not by individuals who probably didn't understand what they were buying or how to access it (and Allison posted some tweets about that) so much as big money players supporting Trump's divisiveness in American society. They see a divided America as a weak America.


So to end with something a little more uplifting here's a picture of the monster heritage rose bush blooming now. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

another day's effort, donations, and deflated baby

Cold front blew in Wednesday, very windy and overcast. That was early yesterday morning. About 11:30 I hauled the garden cart over to the shop yard and started hacking away with the hoe, getting out the roots, and spreading out the dirt and before too long the sky cleared up. I started at the other end this time and finally managed to get the last side of sheet metal out. As I thought, the very end had way more roots in it than the other half, almost solid for the first 6” or so. By the time I'd worked my way in about 3' the cart already had more roots in it than the whole 8' section I did Saturday. By the time I quit not quite through at 1:15, it was mounded up pretty high.

I could have persevered and finished spreading out the last of mound but it was time to go in for lunch which the dog was reminding me of. So, dumped that load on the burn pile and trundled back home. The weather should still be good enough Friday to get out there and finish that, not too hot, not too cold, sunny enough, and start on the last mound of dirt which is 4' x 8' but not as deep as the previous ones so less volume of dirt to move. Still full of roots though. I will be glad to be done with this task.



I brought home a bag of frozen perch fillets from SHARE last week so that's what I fixed for dinner Tuesday night, brown butter fried perch fillets and zucchini tots which are grated zucchini, minced onion, finely grated cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs, and an egg. Squeeze all the water out of the zucchini, mix all ingredients, form about a tablespoon of mix into an oval and bake, flipping midway. Not too much trouble and really good.

Speaking of SHARE, Monday was our little holiday potluck 'social'. Pleasant enough and I got lunch out of it. And today, of course, was my SHARE day. Some company had a drive and donated a huge amount of personal hygiene items...toothpaste, tooth brushes, razors, soap, shampoo, shave cream, lotion, creams, and I don't know what all, enough to fill four grocery store carts to overflowing, at least, stuff people don't usually think of donating. And socks. Of course I didn't think to take a picture while I was there but it was really an impressive sight.

So, yeah, the christmas season. Outdoor decorations are popping up, or rather inflating and deflating. I don't really care for those inflatables and the reason is people tend to only have them 'on' at night. Puddles of fabric on the lawn during the day don't really exude 'festive'. This is one neighbor so I do see it inflated and illuminated. Another neighbor has an inflatable creche. Poor little baby Jesus, a puddle on the ground, seems almost sacrilegious. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

the yard chore, flowers, and thoughts on bringing Griner home

Another day Saturday working on the old raised garden bed site. I got half the 16' long bed of dirt spread out and roots cut. 

The second half will take longer I think as it appears to have many more roots in it than the half I did. And still need to spread out and de-root the first bed on the left. Speaking of which, those red leaves in the picture below sprouting from the stalks is virginia creeper already starting to grow again from the roots/vines I cut when I first started.

My little camellia has bloomed. Last year I only got two flowers, this year, eight. Only one open now and one more to go.

Also blooming is the little Japanese azalea. I expected it to bloom in the spring but this exceptional heat confused it I guess. The petals are long and narrow and the flowers have a sweet scent. This is the first time it's bloomed in the two years I've had it.

Thunderstorm with lots of lightning and thunder and hard rain at times around dawn this morning giving us about 1 3/4” so I won't be chopping and spreading dirt today. Plenty of chores in the house or maybe I'll start a watercolor. Been thinking about it. Pansies maybe.


Here's some things to consider about Brittany Griner and her arrest in Russia and the trade Biden made to bring her home. In Russia, the penalty for possessing up to 6 grams of marijuana is a fine or 15 day detention. Griner had less than a gram but because she brought it with her when she entered the country, she uses it medically, they charged her with smuggling, punishable by 5 – 10 years in prison and gave her 9 years for less than a gram. Griner is a two time Olympic gold medal winner, an extraordinary athlete who also happens to be a black lesbian. She was in Russia to play in a Russian league during the off season in America. If our female sports teams were given the same respect and income as our male sports teams, our women wouldn't need to play elsewhere in the off season. I can't help but think that if Griner was a white heterosexual male, there would not have been an outcry against the trade, as there was against Griner, with the haters saying she got what she deserved in Russia and that she hates America because she engages in peaceful protest to point out the institutionalized racism against POC in this country as well as the hate and discrimination towards the other gendered.

Whelan, who holds citizenship in four countries, UK, Canada, Ireland, and the US, is an ex-Marine who was dishonorably discharged for theft, lying, and other charges. After his court marshal he worked for different companies engaging in global security and investigations. He was arrested in Russia on charges of spying which he denies, there is a report he was receiving a list of intelligence officials, and was sentenced to 16 years. Biden tried to include him in this trade but Russia would not even discuss Whelan's release. It's likely they only allowed Griner to leave to create division here in America, knowing how the right wing would react. The more Putin can divide us, the better for him and the right wingers play right into his hands. I find the hysteria from the far right about Biden's failure to win his release to be just a little contrived especially since Whelan was arrested when Trump was president and Russia offered him in an exchange for Bout and Trump refused.

Bout, the 'merchant of death', had been retired for 10 years when the sting operation by the US lured him out. He has already served 10 years in prison and would be released in a few more so the man is 20 years out of the loop of weapons procurement. I think it's doubtful that he will start selling weapons again. As for that, the biggest weapons dealer in the world is the US. We sell them above and below the table, have no problem providing weapons to insurgents to take down our opponents or governments we don't the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Iran/contra deal just to name a few. And we need look no further than our own homeland to see how much America loves guns and gun violence. The uproar about releasing an arms merchant falls a little flat since apparently selling death is OK as long as it's us doing it.

Friday, December 9, 2022

nothing left but dirt and roots

A reminder of last post's progress on the vines.

Tuesday I did this.

Wednesday I did this.

And this.

Now I'm down to spreading out all the dirt and cutting out the roots as I come to them, way more work than just cutting back the vines. And it's hot again, in the 80s and humid.

The second bonfire was because the guy that mows the shop yard came on Tuesday and cut up a dead tree pulled down by wild grape and virginia creeper vines behind the shop that completely filled the space between the back of the shop and the fence. There's a lot of it still on the ground but at least we can mow there again. 

It was a huge pile, easily more than twice as big as the previous pile and the fire only burned the middle. Had a hard time getting it started too so I still need to torch the rest.

Thursday was SHARE and it was a food delivery day from the food bank in Victoria and fortunately we weren't too busy with clients. They sent four or five boxes of organic bananas that were so green the were almost emerald. My guess is they will go bad before they ripen. We still had one box left which we left out on a table to see if they would ripen during the next week. There'll be somebody there on Monday to check on them. Well, most the volunteers will be there on Monday for our little holiday potluck lunch.

Today I gave away two of my big plumerias and raked up leaves off the driveway and spread them around on the low spots in the yard. Tonight Is one of my nights to cook dinner and so far I have no idea what I'm going to fix (decided on pizza). But speaking of cooking, I promised to post the recipe for the stuffed acorn squash which I made last week and it was really good.

not my picture as I failed to take one

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squash:
2 medium acorn squash
2 T olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Sausage filling:
1 T olive oil
1 small onion diced
10 oz Italian sausage, spicy or mild crumbled (I used mild but added 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes)
4 garlic cloves minced
1 T Italian seasoning
4 oz fresh spinach (I used pre-washed baby spinach)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Cut off the top and bottom of each acorn squash to create a flat base (not too deep in the bottom, my flat spot was about the size of a quarter), cut each squash in half crosswise, scoop out seeds and strings. Place cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle cut sides with olive oil, rubbing it in, season with salt and pepper, turn cut side down and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350˚.

In a large skillet heat olive oil, add onion and cook on medium high heat about 2 minutes until cooked and a bit charred. Add sausage, garlic, Italian seasoning and cook about 5 minutes more until sausage is cooked through. Add spinach and cook another 5 minutes until wilted, add cranberries and pecans and mix all together. Season with more salt and pepper if desired (I didn't).

Flip roasted squash halves and fill with sausage mixture. Bake stuffed squash an additional 10 – 20 minutes until heated through (I split the difference for 15).

Monday, December 5, 2022

progress on two fronts and republican gaslighting

The most recent little cold front only lasted about two days before the wind from the south blew it away. Those south winds also brought sea fog with it so the last few days have been warm, humid, and very wet from condensation. Saturday we watched the last episode of season one of The Peripheral which is really good but you have to pay attention and then another episode of Cabinet of Curiosity, a series of little tales, kind of Twilight Zone-ish.

Sunday things had dried up more or less so I spent another hour or so working on the old raised beds. I didn't cut any more vines away instead worked on spreading out the rest of the mound of dirt left from the small 4' x 8' metal raised bed and cutting out all the roots until I could remove the last collapsed long side under which about a dozen toads had taken shelter. When I got around to the back side of the mound of dirt I discovered this...

some critter had dug a den down into that mound of dirt. I figure what ever was living there left when I started clearing out that spot because nothing emerged as I hacked away at it with the hoe eventually filling the hole with dirt and tamping it down. My neighbor says it was probably an armadillo hole.

These are all the roots I dug out as I was spreading the dirt out with the hoe because I keep forgetting to take the heavy rake with me when I go over there.

Then I started spreading the dirt out from the little white raised bed on the left that I dismantled when I first began this project. Didn't make much progress there. The last thing I did was remove one long side of the big metal raised bed (4' x 16') which is still more or less intact except for all the vines and crap which I guess is what's holding it all together.



It occurred to me that I haven't shown my toenail progress since July. You might remember that I had the entire toenail removed back in April because the ingrown toenail had gotten so severe that it hurt most of the time. The last update showed the new nail finally starting to grow above the quick and the nail has slowly been growing covering the nail bed ever since. It's about halfway I think judging by my other big toenail.


I'm sure you've all heard by now Trump's latest proclamation about the unprecedented 'massive fraud' in the 2020 election and that he should either be instated as president or a new election should be held. Then he went on to say “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”, (termination of everything in the constitution basically terminates the constitution). He has absolutely no idea what is in the Constitution. Response from Republicans (with the exception of a few that are not returning)...crickets. Well, they wouldn't condemn him for hanging out with neo-nazis and anti-semites and they already participated in an attempt to overthrow the election so I guess defending the Constitution is really too far beyond them. This morning it was all over Twitter. A few hours later, nada. Certainly looks like it's been scrubbed from the platform. This after republicans in Congress spent yesterday day shouting foul because they say Biden in 2020 used his position as president to 'pressure' Twitter to take down dick pics of his son Hunter, which they did, pictures posted by a third party without permission and the photos violated Twitter's TOS. But leave it to my scumbag senator Ted Cruz who dug around and found the picture yesterday and posted it again.

They want you to believe Biden was president in 2020. He wasn't, he was a private citizen campaigning for president. Trump was president in 2020 and the records show that Trump did indeed pressure Twitter to take down tweets he didn't president. You won't hear about this from Republicans though.

And from the Tell Me You're Guilty Without Telling Me You're Guilty department: Trump is refusing to give a DNA sample in his rape trial.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

fall reading list

Only five this quarter, busy chopping vines and streaming video.

The Hidden One by Linda Castillo – Another in the Kate Burkholder, chief of police in Painter's Mill, series. Kate grew up Amish but left the community as some do when they realize that the Amish life is not for them but her upbringing gives her insight into the Amish community when crime happens that involves them. When the skeletal remains of a bishop gone missing almost 20 years ago are discovered, the evidence points to Kate's first love, Josh Bowman, as the killer. Josh and his family now live in a different community in a different state but she is visited by their Diener (bishop, deacon, minister) who ask for Kate's help in the case to prove Josh innocent. Kate reluctantly agrees as she does not want to drag up the past and how their relationship ended. Nevertheless, she travels to the Kishacoquillas Valley to see what she can do. Kate gets no help, basically shut out by the local authorities, but she is determined to solve the case and discovers that the bishop was not who he claimed to be. The more information Kate digs up, the more someone doesn't want her to succeed. I like these books, she's a good storyteller, and I don't know why I don't seek out more of them. This one was supposed to be on the hold shelf instead of the new arrivals shelf as there are two people on a waiting list for it but the librarian let me check it out anyway.

The Big Dark Sky by Dean Koontz – Rustling Willows Ranch in the vast emptiness of Montana was a perfect place for Joanna Chase to grow up at least until her mother drowned and her father was killed by a bear and she was taken away to live with her aunt when she was seven. Now years later Joanna is 34 and she starts receiving phone calls from her dead mother telling her to come home and save her, her cars start by themselves as does the TV. Meanwhile the current owners of the ranch have enlisted the help of a private investigator to explain the strange and frightening things that caused them to flee. Something evil lurks in the lake at Rustling Willows. As Joanna heads to the ranch, there is a madman with his own agenda living in a ghost town not far from the ranch who is intent on wiping out the human race and two of his intended victims have escaped. A scientist in charge of a government organization tasked to discover where a hidden entity is hiding that has shown it can take over even the most secret weapons is also headed to the ranch along with two other individuals caught up when her house explodes. Typical Koontz, different characters and their story lines all converge for the showdown. It was good but not gripping. The very last line though made me laugh.

Touch by Claire North – This is the third book by her that I've read on the kindle. There are some people who when they are dying a violent death and reach out to ward off the aggressor or to a person there to render aid find that when they touch bare skin they have jumped into that other body as the one they were born into dies and so they live by jumping from body to body, sometimes for moments, sometimes for whole lifetimes, the original inhabitant is there but not conscious. When these 'ghosts' leave a body, depending on how long they wore it, the real person either thinks they spaced out for a few minutes or totally loses it with no idea how or why they are a young soul finding themselves in an aged or diseased body. The ghost Kepler worked for a time as an estate agent, a ghost who finds clean bodies for long term use for other ghosts. When Kepler learned what Galileo, a cruel and murderous ghost, had done to a body he provided he tried to kill Galileo and failed. Coyle, a ghost hunter who tracks ghosts through reports of amnesia, kills Kepler's current host as Kepler jumps to a new body and is set on a path to learn who these hunters are. He discovers the organization, Aquarius, whose goal it is to kill every living ghost and yet it is Galileo at the heart, Galileo who is killing ghosts as vengeance against Kepler. Kepler and Coyle form an uneasy alliance in their quest to finally end Galileo's life. As with her other two books she explores other ways of being though this particular story is about love I think, the human need and desire to love and be loved.

The Sudden Appearance Of Hope by Claire North – the 4th and last book of hers on the kindle. “The world began to forget me when I was 16 years old.” It took about a year for Hope to become completely forgotten, to be a complete stranger every time someone laid eyes on her; her parents, her friends, her teachers, everyone she had had daily encounters with her whole life. The day Hope came home to find her parents had moved her stuff out of her room and were changing the wallpaper, startled to see a stranger in the house, Hope gathered as much as she could and left for the last time. She learned to steal to survive, living each day as 'now', no past, no future, out of sight, out of mind. Any recognition by others lasted only as long as she was in their sight. Hope became a jewel thief, easy when no one remembers that she even exists. When she steals a diamond necklace from a princess at a big event it sets her on a path to destroy an app called Perfection, a marketing tool that guides people to 'perfect' themselves through rewards for buying recommend products, services, and 'treatments' which eventually steals their humanity. Hope teams up with Byron, who has to leave copious notes to herself in order to remember that the stranger in her room in the morning is not a stranger. When Hope understands that Byron plans to destroy Perfection by causing a massacre, she sets out to prevent it. I've mentioned before that North's novels are very cerebral, what's going on in the minds of her main character (though there is plenty of interaction with others), but also because some thought or phrase sends me off on my own cogitation so it generally takes me longer than usual to read her books.

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter – Emily is part of 'the clique', a group of five friends together since grade school (Clay, Nardo, Blake and his twin sister Ricky, and Emily) and now in their senior year of high school. At one of their clique parties, they take acid and that's the last thing Emily remembers until she woke up on the floor of her grandmother's room at home. She discovers 6 weeks later she is pregnant and when the news gets out her friends turn on her viciously, her parents take her out of school to keep her out of sight. When she is 7 months along and still doesn't know who raped her, she is determined to go to her prom and is brutally murdered but before she dies from her injuries they deliver her baby. Forty years later Andrea, whose father is Clay, a psychopath currently in jail and up for parole, is a newly graduated US Marshal sent to partner with Bible to protect a judge, Emily's mother, and her granddaughter, Judith, that have been receiving death threats. Andrea wonders if she and Judith are half sisters and conducts her own private investigation to see if she can learn who Judith's father is and who killed Emily. At the same time Bible and Andrea are drawn into an investigation of the suicide of a young emaciated girl, a 'volunteer' at the Farm, a cult of abuse and sex run by Nardo and Wexler, an ex-teacher from the high school.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

blue skies, rain of a different sort, and other changes

Three days in a row of sunny skies so of course they predicted rain for last night and today. If it rained last night it was very light, either that or a really heavy dew this morning. It's completely overcast, warm, and humid. Yesterday I used my little leaf blower to clear out the barn and clear the little patio outside the back door of all the leaves covering it, and by little I mean 9' wide by 6' deep where I laid down concrete squares. This morning it looked like this.

The big tallow in the little backyard did a major leaf drop last night and they are still drifting down. That cold spell triggered something because the maple, ginkgoes, and pecans are also raining leaves today. So it is raining, just a different kind.

Sunday I worked on two tasks, cleaning out the gutter across the front of the house over the deck 

and worked on clearing more vines. The gutter across the deck is problematic. It's not draining completely to the downspout at the end so water sits in the gutter and drips through a seam that is not sealed completely leaving a big wet spot on the deck which if left undealt with will eventually rot the wood in that spot. And during this hard rain while the rest of the gutter across the front of the house was doing its job, the section over the deck was pouring over like a waterfall. When I got the ladder out and took the screens off I found that it was full of dirt, so I cleaned that all out which is when I realized that it wasn't draining to the downspout. So now the end has to be lowered a bit so gravity can do its job. I do need to clean out the rest of the gutter to the other end but I need a taller ladder for that.

Here's my progress Sunday on the vines. I got the other short side of sheet metal out, spread out some of the mound of dirt on the right, and cleared all the vines up to the edge of the large metal raised bed.



My yoga class on Mondays and Wednesdays is coming to an end I think. Abby has been teaching for 10 years and she's more than a little burnt out coupled with she's been going through some rough personal stuff this year. There were no classes the last two weeks due to weather and the holiday and she was only going to hold class last night if I was going to come. Attendance has been low for months now and I told her there was no reason to hold the class just for me. I suggested she take the month off and reconsider after New Years. So that's where it stands now. Fortunately for the month of December, one of the attendees decided to get certified through her job in the school district, some program they offered, and is holding yoga class on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings. I won't go to the morning class as I go in the evening at Hesed House and also this way Abby can be in a class instead of leading it which she sorely needs at this point.

Here's my little winter garden. I thought I planted four cauliflower and five broccoli plants. I know the four are cauliflower because I bought those at the feed store. The broccoli my neighbor gave me and some cabbage that he had grown from seed. I thought I planted just the broccoli but judging by the shape of the leaves I think what I have is two broccoli and three cabbage. Time will tell I guess.