Monday, October 31, 2022

snippets of life around here

Happy Halloween! I did a post in 2010 on the kids' Halloween costumes spanning 10 years, almost all of which I made, so if you want to see their choices, go here.

More butterflies out there Sunday on that clear blue sky warming day. Not nearly the quantity but nearly the same variation as last week, mostly fritillaries, monarchs, 

and long tails but also pipevine swallowtails, a giant swallowtail, a very tattered buckeye, a gray hairstreak, a great purple hairstreak that flashed iridescent blue in flight (first time to see this one),

cloudless sulfurs, skippers, a julia, definitely a queen, and one or two others, maybe a different long tail and a silvery skipper neither of which I could get a good picture of or the queen or the giant swallowtail. And bees, lots of bees including this different one, also not a very good picture as it moved just as I tapped the button.

Speaking of bees, these tiny things were all over the sword leaf blooms and while they look like bees they are actually hover flies.

This caterpillar was crawling across the mat outside the garage door. I have no idea what it is but it was over 3” long. The closest I've come to identifying it is an imperial moth caterpillar.

Moving on from butterflies to a succulent bloom about an inch in diameter.

The confederate roses are almost done.

Cat wants to be part of the puppy pile but Minnie is wary. That lump to Cat's left is Minnie under the blanket. Cat has curled up touching us both. All is well until Minnie realizes that it is Cat up next to her.

Moving on from the natural world to the unnatural world, WTF are they thinking? Do clothing designers just hate women? A dress at the Evil Empire. What you can't really tell is that the neckline has a ruffled collar and the bottom 12” of this shapeless sack is a ruffle.

I have a new pair of yoga pants that is black with turquoise insets but no top to wear with them so while I was there I thought I would look to see if they had some kind of matching top so I could be chic and fashionable and I found this on the clearance rack, cost me all of $2.

Spied at SHARE, a donation from the Evil Empire (yes I have to give them credit for donating the stuff not fresh enough to sell instead of just throwing it away), a salad kit, see how nice and green the picture is,

flip it over and see what it really looks like. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

the butterflies

I had a little better luck trying to get pictures of the butterflies later in the day on Tuesday and I saw two more that I hadn't seen in the morning, a crescent which is familiar to me and a julia which I have never seen before.

It was so delightful to stand there while all these butterflies fluttered around me. Some of them looked brand new and some were so tattered I'm surprised they could still fly. I saw several more of the pipevine swallowtail, all tattered like the one this morning.

Here are the pictures I managed to get:

julia (a member of the brush foot family and ranges from Brazil to Texas and Florida)

gulf fritillary

white striped long tail

painted lady (not a very good picture but the only one I was able to get)

white striped long tail and gulf fritillary

pipevine swallowtail

cloudless sulfur

monarch (same picture as last post)

gray hairstreak (this pic is from a different year)

butterflies weren't the only things all over the cosmos.

Here are pictures of the ones I couldn't get a photo of (all lifted off the internet):




crescent (this is a Texan crescent which I see frequently but I'm not sure which one I saw the other day)

black swallowtail (again I'm not sure which one I saw but these are common around here)


If the queen was indeed a queen and not a fritillary then that's 14 different types of butterflies.

Skippers, hairstreaks, crescents, snouts, and long tails are small; painted ladies, buckeyes, and sulfurs are medium on the small side; fritillaries, queens, and pipevines medium; julias, monarchs, and swallowtails being the biggest.

The next day, Wednesday, there were just a hand full of fritillaries and a pipevine swallowtail. Thursday I was gone and Thursday evening clouds started moving in and today is overcast with the threat (promise?) of rain. No butterflies evident today. I guess the migration blew in on the cold front, tanked up, and continued their journey south.

The promised rain is here and really coming down!


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

more yard work and a plethora of butterflies

I got all the trees, virginia creeper, and one small grapevine out from under the monster rose and stumps poisoned on Sunday. After I cut the smaller pile of pruning from Saturday into more manageable lengths it took three trips with the garden cart to haul it to the burn pile and that was it, I was done for the day. Still haven't got the compost turned into the ground.

Monday I had two tasks to choose from...getting the compost turned in and vegetable plants planted and dealing with the other large pile of rose pruning. I figured I had the energy and motivation to get one done so I got the compost turned in and broccoli and cauliflower starts in. Then I moved the large pot of bird of paradise to a different location and expanded my little fall garden area. Now I need another bag of compost.

Even though it was overcast it was hot and muggy and I started sweating at breakfast over my oatmeal, hot and sweaty when I came in from my labor outside, sweaty when I got back from walking the dog and not feeling all that great, figured I just overdid it the last three days. Took a shower and felt a little better, got dressed for yoga and sweating and almost sleepy while waiting for time to leave and texted Abby that I wasn't coming to class.

Monday night another cold front blew in and was supposed to bring us much needed rain but if it rained it wasn't much or for very long because the dog did not register it at all. At least it blew out the hot muggy weather. It also blew down a yard full of branches and, in a few cases, some dead limbs so I spent Tuesday afternoon picking up sticks and branches but before that I cut up and hauled the last pile of rose pruning over to the burn pile, three cart loads piled high.

Then I went and did this...

This morning after breakfast I went out in this glorious clear blue sky low humidity pleasant temperature day and picked up more fallen branches and wandered over to the orange cosmos and, while you can't tell from this picture, 

it is swarming with bees and butterflies that are migrating through. I saw one or more long tails, snout, buckeyes, fritillaries, monarchs, sulfurs, painted lady, queen (I think, she was flying away), swallowtails, hairstreak, and a skipper (I think). I haven't seen so many butterflies at once in I can't remember how long, maybe a private river trip in Big Bend during migration in the spring after rain and a rare explosion of wildflowers. I tried to get pictures but they were all in constant motion. The monarchs were the most cooperative.

And this one that I have never seen before and which I followed all over trying to get a good picture and this is the best I could manage. I think it might be a California pipevine swallowtail.

A couple more things blooming...

The yellow bells aka Tecoma sans aka esperanza over in the shop yard, the other monster bush.

The pink trumpet flower shrub/vine in full bloom, also in the shop yard.

And I declare myself completely well.


Saturday, October 22, 2022

finally feeling well and bastard squirrels

Lack of energy and snot. This has been my life the past week. Slept well enough Thursday night and Friday morning I think I'm on the mend but I've thought that before. We'll see.

It occurred to me the other day that I can plant some winter vegetables in the place where the zinnias were since I won't plant anything else there until spring when the zinnia seeds go in. So the plan is to go to the feed store for plants. Maybe even get the leaves moved today. And wash the 'honey dew' off the car...again. It has been just terrible the last month. Everything under the pecan trees and crepe myrtles is covered with the sticky stuff. The ground has been so sticky that leaves and gravel stick to the bottom of my sandals. Apparently this stuff is exuded by aphids up in the trees. If so there must be millions of the little suckers up there.

Worked outside for about 40 minutes on Friday, dug up and potted five porterweed volunteers and then turned the dirt where I plan to put in some broccoli and cauliflower and some pole beans. That cold front didn't last, already in the low 80s and that was all the outside work I did Friday as I came in hot and sweaty and out of motivation. I did hose off the car and the truck after I got back from taking the dog for a walk.

Today, Saturday, I finally feel well, not completely well but almost there. Well enough to go to the market and get the microgreens for me and tamales for Marc and stop at the feed store for cauliflower plants (my neighbor has some broccoli and cabbage sprouts for me) and come back with the plan to turn a bag of compost into the dirt where I plan to plant. Rather than carry the 40+/- pound bag of compost I thought I would use the garden cart but first I had to empty the garden cart onto the burn pile and on my way to the burn pile I passed the monster rose bush with the thought to prune away enough rose canes to be able to get to the hackberry tree growing up in the middle and then I saw a pecan tree so cut some more and another hackberry and more pecans and virginia creeper and one thing led to another until I had pruned all the way around clearing it from the ground up to about 18”. I emptied the cart and left two huge piles of rose bush prunings to attend to tomorrow because by now I was hot and sweaty and tired and had probably already exerted myself more than intended. I bet I cut off a third of the growth and it's still a monstrous bush. No before picture but as thick as the foliage is at the top, it was that thick all the way to the ground. You can see the big hackberry poking up from the top in the middle.

There must be at least a dozen trees of various size under there. Tomorrow I'm going to cut them out and treat the stumps with stump killer so hopefully they don't come back.

And that bastard squirrel. I looked up and he was ON the bird feeder under the hood. Chased him off. Wasn't too long before it was back. I took these pictures through the glass in the door and it's hard to see with the glare/reflection but he's actually made it onto the bird feeder.

OK, so the hood over the bird feeder doesn't work. Now I need to find a pole that I can mount the bird feeder on and put the hood underneath. Surely they can't get around that!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

I am not a happy camper

Turns out I was not getting well on Tuesday even though I slept well on Monday night. In some ways I didn't feel any better than the day before. The pain in my face was gone, my nose dried up but I never made it to the grocery store. I went back to bed and took a nap instead. I was a little achy, a little tired, stomach a little funky. Didn't get the leaves spread out either and took another nap in the afternoon and that's very unusual for me, I hardly ever take naps and never two in one day.

Could have taken a third nap but I had to fix dinner instead which was a simple Italian sausage removed from its casing, crumbled, and cooked on the stove with onions and garlic, pre-cooked egg noodles and raw spinach added in til the spinach wilted.

I slept all right the first half of Tuesday night but not so much the second half. Wednesday I felt good enough to be functional. Went to the grocery store, did the dishes, took the dog for a walk finally and she wanted the long walk, though I didn't have the energy to go to yoga. The weather has been really glorious, cool, dry, blue sky days that warm up. So of course I assumed I would feel at least as well today if not better and maybe I would have if I didn't spend four consecutive busy hours filling baskets at SHARE this morning because this afternoon I have done nothing but read and take a little nap and sneeze and blow my nose. I am not getting better. I still don't think it's allergies or a sinus infection since my sinuses haven't hurt since the first day and I can breathe easily or the flu because I think I would be much sicker and it's not covid because I have tested myself three times and it's always negative. So that leaves the common cold and I'm ready to be done with that thank you very much.

My sister brought me orange and yellow marigolds to cheer me up. She's thoughtful like that.

The morning glory bush is blooming. Usually it blooms about twice a year, spring and fall but it didn't bloom this spring. It is now and it's one of my favorites. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

roulette of the nose, yard work, blooming stuff

Saturday and Sunday, both still hot, all I got accomplished Saturday was getting the rest of the monkey grass planted 

and getting the oxblood lily bulbs that I bought last spring in the ground. Sunday I woke with a bit of a runny nose and a scratchy throat which I ignored and after breakfast I swept the garage and raked the leaves on the concrete apron of the driveway, the rest of which is gravel, into three big piles and then I tackled the barn raking and sweeping the leaves out and neatening it up, getting it ready for leaf season. 



The oaks and maple and tallows and pecans will start losing their leaves in earnest now.

I was going to spread the three piles of leaves out on the areas where grass doesn't grow on Monday but by Sunday evening I knew I was getting sick, whether it was allergies (which I really don't suffer from), a cold, the flu, or covid I wasn't sure and I didn't sleep well Sunday night, basically had to try and sleep sitting up. The whole right side of my face hurt from my eyeball to my jaw. Monday morning I got out one of the covid test kits that government sent us all on request and it came out negative but according to the package it had expired at the end of July. So I went to the pharmacy and got 4 current test kits, came home, swabbed my nostrils again and still negative. Took some ibuprofen and a benadryl cold medicine knock off and basically laid around in bed all day reading and by evening was feeling better.

cat at my feet

dog at my shoulder

This morning I feel almost well, on the tail end of whatever bug took up residence in my nose. I tried to think where I could have picked it up. SHARE on Thursday and yoga that evening, I think I went to the Evil Empire on Friday but wore a mask, Saturday I went to the Market for honey and tamales and only chatted with three people and then went to the Earth Lab talk at Hesed House on edible native plants. Everyone seemed well so who knows where I picked it up. I'm glad it was just one of those 48 hour things and weird that it only affected half my face.

I think there must have been some squirrel attempts to get to the bird feeder under the hood because I looked out there yesterday and the yellow butterfly ginger was practically laying on the ground. They do lean towards the sun but were more upright so it looks like some squirrel or two went sliding off the hood and onto the ginger underneath. I would have liked to see that.

We got our first real cold front which came in last night. It was only 56˚ at 9 AM and is supposed to get down to 40˚ tonight. It will start warming almost immediately but we'll have a week or more of really nice days. No rain though. Still dry as a bone. I have to do the weekly grocery shop today and fix dinner tonight but I'm going to try and get the three leaf piles spread out in between.

Allright, I need to get going so here's what's blooming...

Firespike among the ginger.

Confederate rose blooms high up, must be 10' (the picture was so dark I had to tinker with it so the colors are a little weird).

Orange cosmos putting on its display.

White phillipine lily doing the same.