Sunday, March 19, 2023

reviving a quilt, fucking blue jays and grackles, and winter is done

Sunday morning still cold, in the 40s, wet and overcast but thankfully the wind has finally died down. It's not supposed to warm up until Tuesday.

Jade was in town visiting her parents and us. Some of you may remember that during Jade's Granny Camp visit ten years ago she wanted to make a quilt. She designed it, picked out the colors and fabrics, cut and pinned the pieces together, arranged the squares the way she wanted them while I did all the sewing. It took us all week to finish except for the quilting. The next week I stitched knots on a 6” grid in lieu of quilting. Here's the quilt top and a link to the post showing it being made.

Years later she went off to college but did not take her quilt and one of my daughter's orphans moved into her room with his dog and at some point the knots didn't hold and the back and the batting got torn and it was tossed in a basket for future repair. So that's what we're doing. Friday we washed it because, well, it really stank, smelled so bad she had to roll down the window in her car between her parent's house and ours. Yesterday we ripped out all the stitching on the bias seam tape edging and freed the quilt top from the torn back and batting. Next visit she'll return with new fabric for the back and new batting and we'll put it together again. In the meantime I'm going to see if I can find someone fairly local to do the actual quilting for us instead of knots.


I had to bring in the bird feeder twice today, once because a blue jay was tossing seed out left and right looking for the few peanuts in the mix (note to self...get some cracked corn and peanuts for the blue jays). I chased it off twice and then finally brought the bird feeder in. The second time there was a flock of grackles mobbing it. Sorry, not feeding grackles even though there has been two or three hanging around for a couple of weeks which I tolerated barely. Now it's empty and the blue jay keeps coming back to double check. I've had a bird feeder for years...YEARS...and never had them come to it until this fall and winter.

Speaking of winter, it's officially over. This is the pecan tree by the barn.

Now that I've cleaned out the cleaver I've turned my attention to the walking onion flower/seed heads. A very rough guess, this 5 gallon bucket full that I have plucked off represents maybe a 6th of the yard.

And I finally got over to check out the wisteria in full bloom on the fence over at the shop yard.

I even poked around underneath and found some new growth coming up off a branch that rooted itself into the ground. One of my neighbors asked for a cutting a couple of years ago. First I tried to sprout some seeds but they didn't, then I thought I would cut a notch on a branch and get a rooting ball and fill it with peat moss and see if I could get it to root but I never acted on the thought. So I was happy to see this new little rooted start so I can dig it up and cut it loose and give it to them in return for the bottle of tequila they bring me when they go visit family in Mexico.

No clever or tidy end, just done.


Friday, March 17, 2023

food and flowers (of the wild kind)

Tuesday night I fixed my favorite salad for dinner. We had had chicken salad with avocado for lunch and it was an easy dinner to put together after cardio drumming which is still a lot of fun. Anyway, the ingredients are always the same but quantities vary...mixed baby greens, celery, granny smith apple, dried cranberries, mandarin orange segments, pecans, orecchiette pasta. Tonight I'm fixing the Italian sausage with shallots and apples.

Here's two tips for keeping food fresh longer, one I tried and it works...if your avocados are getting/have gotten ripe but you aren't ready to eat them/it yet, immerse it in a glass of water and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep the avocado from going bad. It really does work. I had one in water in the refrigerator for almost two weeks (because I kept forgetting it was in there) and, yes, it was perfect when I finally ate it.

The other I haven't tried but my neighbor says it works...wrap your celery in aluminum foil to keep it fresh longer. I don't use much celery, just cooking with it now and then or in a salad and so it always goes bad before I use it all up. I've wrapped mine in foil. I'll let you know how well it works.

We're having winter this week. Of course we are, I took the plumerias and bird of paradise out of the garage. It's in the 40s and rainy (and yay for that) and a little windy and only supposed to get in the 50s with drops in the 30s the next two nights but as long as it doesn't freeze it'll be OK.

In the meantime, the indian paintbrush has painted the pastures and empty acres reddish orange.

A field on the way to the grocery store.

The fallow 12 acres behind me

is also spotted with little yellow flowers.

The evening primrose is coming into full bloom and the stretch between Wharton and El Campo is a mosaic of pale pink to dark pink. Unfortunately, I can't get a picture of that as I'm hauling ass down the highway.

Some are so pale as to be white like this patch over at the shop.

The fleabane is also in full bloom.

The bluebonnets are at or past peak,

my little clump of blue eyed grass I dug up from the side of the road,

and the baby blue eyes are looking good.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

best laid plans and all that plus a few highlights of the republican clown show

I did not do a single thing I had planned to do on Sunday. Well, I did get my four little potato pieces planted but that's all. Instead I emptied the overflowing truck bed of all the downed limbs, branches, and sticks that had accumulated and fetched the tall ladder from the shop and cleared the gutter screens and cleaned out the gutter across the entire front of the house and continued moving the sprinkler around. I'll do what I had planned tomorrow, I told myself.

Sunday night a cold front blew in and Monday was overcast, cold, and still windy and we all know what that means...Ellen was sitting on the couch with a book.

I don't think I'm going to get any poppies or rocket larkspur this year. It's been so dry and I've been getting fewer and fewer the last couple of years and I'm not seeing any little sprouts of either. Time to reseed only it has to be done in November and I never remember. And also no shows are the woodland violets; plenty of plants, no blooms.

Marc left early yesterday morning for his next x-ray and on the way home he stopped at Whataburger for breakfast tacos. They gave him his change which included a dollar in nickels.

Just saw a red shouldered hawk fly by being chased by a much smaller bird. Couldn't tell from this distance but I'd bet it's a mockingbird.

Some of what's blooming...

a close-up of the english dogwood, the thornless odorless variety, what I have been calling mock dogwood

and an actual dogwood. This little tree was here when we bought the place and never bloomed until a big limb fell off the pecan tree that shaded it and opened the canopy a little. This is the most flowers it has ever given us and they are always tiny, the biggest one maybe an inch and a quarter across.


I've been otherwise occupied for weeks and have not been following the clown show or writing about the ridiculous revenge grievance investigations by the far right cabal of insurrectionists that haven't exposed any wrongdoing by Biden's administration, instead highlighting that republicans are just butt hurt about losing the last election. Here's one little example of how things are going in the 'weaponization' hearings...

Last Thursday when republican Jim Jordan claimed these hearings are about the first amendment, (that Twitter suppressed conservative viewpoints at the request of Biden's administration [Biden was neither a member of congress nor was he president during the time period they are investigating]), democrat Dan Goldman calmly challenged him about republican book banning and that Trump had his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, jailed to prevent him from publishing his book critical of Trump. Jorden lost it repeatedly shouting at Goldman to yield his time which Goldman refused to do. So far the only thing they've proven is that Trump did what they accuse Biden of doing.

Also from the weaponization of government dep't, DeSantis removed a duly elected prosecutor, a democrat, because he signed a pledge not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.

Biden has released his budget proposal asking for republicans to show him theirs so they can negotiate but of course, they don't have one. They don't have one because they can't agree on anything amongst themselves, neither the budget nor the cuts they're demanding in return for raising the debt ceiling, something they did for Trump 3 times, hey, no prob, dude, and more importantly, don't have the foggiest idea of how to govern. So as usual, all we've heard from them are their recycled lies, complaints, and current culture war boogeyman. According to Ted Cruz, Biden's budget proposal is “completely WOKE!”. Gasp! It contains the words equity, climate, and environmental justice. He even counted how many times those words appear.

Lauren Boebert, who wants to cut funding to schools that teach comprehensive sex ed and submitted a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, announced that her 17 year old son got his 15 year old girlfriend pregnant and she's bragging about being a 36 year old grandmother. She also said she and her husband are raising their four boys “to be men before liberals teach them to be women”. I guess being a man means knocking up your teenage girlfriend. Gotta love those republican family values.

Last Sunday Republican representative James Comer blamed the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on being 'woke', “they were one of the most woke banks” he said on Fox, instead of, you know, Trump who slashed banking regulations put in place after the meltdown in 2008. I was curious though how he thinks being aware of social and judicial injustice causes a bank to fail. Turns out I was enlightened by journalist Andy Kessler who writes for the Wall Street Journal...“SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have ‘1 Black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ and ‘2 Veterans.’ I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.” Seriously Andy? That's exactly what you're saying.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

cardio drumming and yard work, lots of yard work

I've started a new activity, cardio drumming once a week. This class is led by a young woman working on her doctorate in occupational therapy and this is her doctoral capstone. Tuesday night was week 3 of 8. It's so much fun! About 45 minutes of using drumsticks to beat on an exercise ball on top of a bucket in different patterns; top, sides or top, sides, bucket (squats) or alternating front and back or or or. Last class we added leg (stepping out to the side), foot (marching), and arm movements (stretching up or out to the side), getting more complex (not for the seriously uncoordinated, there were a couple of times I flubbed getting my feet and beat together) all to music from the late 60s and 70s. I worked up a sweat. (Picture taken before class started, I wasn't the only one).

I finally got my tomatoes in and scattered my zinnia seeds on Wednesday and then pulled all the plumerias out of the garage (I gave two of my big ones away last fall) and into the staging area in front of the barn for a good watering and transition from no light to mostly shade before putting them around the yard. Still have to move the monster cereus.

I think I've gotten almost all the cleaver out from around the bluebonnets in the front and I think I'm sufficiently recovered from last weekend to tackle the back with the gas trimmer again so that's what I did yesterday and today. I also folded up and put away all the sheets, plastic bags, and tarps I use in the winter to cover things. Speaking of which, the bird of paradise I planted in the ground has sent up two new leaves but I think the bougainvillea froze.

The big backyard is looking very ragged right now. The anemones are done and gone to seed, the walking onions have put up their seed head 'blooms' which I usually collect and trash before they hit the ground but I'm not doing that this year as my chosen battle is with the cleaver instead.

The fleabane is blooming and I'm starting to get patches of evening primrose.

Yesterday and today were yard work days and that's my plan for tomorrow. The plan is to get whatever other food plants in. I don't have a lot of room but maybe yellow squash and bell pepper, potatoes and green beans. I've spent the last two days whacking/pulling cleaver and moving the sprinkler around. It's so dry and we really need some rain.

I hope to be back to my regular routine soon, catching up on blogs, but right now time is of the essence.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

two days and two hours of hard labor

Two full days in a row working in the yard and groan, my back is here to testify. I had/have several objectives...start mowing down/pulling up the thick carpet of cleaver that has taken over the entire back part of the yard beyond the last flowerbed and the field. Also creeping along the east side. First I tried a rake as it pulls up easily but it just became a sticky bundle of sticky weed. Then I got out the gas trimmer. One full gas tank worth is about all I can do at one time and did the west side of the barn that is on the west side of the yard. and a section in the back on Saturday. Sunday I did the east side of the yard behind the flowerbed on that side. I still have that much and more to do across the back.

My other objective was to finally finish getting my garden plot ready so I finished weeding the area, spread out a bag of composted peat and a bag of stuff called landscapers mix that helps improve clumpy soil and then spread granular fertilizer over all that and then turned it all in.

Now I'm finally ready to plant my four little tomato plants and whatever other vegetable I decide to put in. The Feed Store, Tractor Supply, and the Hungerford Coop are getting their spring vegetable plants in.

Then I potted up all the cuttings that have been rooting all winter on the corner of my desk; three yellow angel trumpets one of which put out a bloom bud, two pots of morning glory bush, one pot of pink angel trumpet, and one pot of firespike

and some of the other plants that live on the etageres on the little patio by the back door. I still need to haul the plumerias and cereus out of the garage. And to that end I went to Tractor Supply for a new wheel and replaced the one that split apart on the two wheeler hand cart.

I also weeded another section of the flowerbed on the west side and started setting up the sprinkler. It is so dry here. And if all the evening primrose that have completely covered the big backyard bloom, it will be a carpet of pink.

Throw in another two hours in the rising humidity yesterday digging up more sow thistle and pulling up more cleaver around the front, hauling two garden cart loads to the now ash pile (Marc burned Sunday) and I think I sweated more in those two hours than I did all last weekend. 


The indian paintbrush have come into bloom. The field behind us and other empty swaths of land are being blanketed in orangy red.

The mock dogwood is starting to bloom way too early,

and the false freesia is doing its best to colonize the entire yard.

Sunday's sunset.

Friday, March 3, 2023

spring marches on and a trip to the theater

While I still have not had the time to get back to digging and planting the four tomato plants I bought Monday, I did walk around the yard and the shop yard taking pictures.

The pink climbing rose on the white crepe myrtle tree beside the garage,

the bluebonnets in the front yard,

the red bud tree I planted in front of the shop,

and the wisteria on the shop yard fence is just starting.

One of the things we tried to do Monday when we went shopping and bought the new washer and dryer was turn in the last of our old electronics that had been sitting around (an old iMac, two keyboards, and a printer) for recycling at Best Buy, only the store had closed so Wednesday we drove to the one in Sugar Land that was next to the Costco, our other destination, where we stocked up on a bunch of stuff. Today, the trunk of the car is filled with the flattened cardboard boxes from SHARE yesterday. I usually take it straight to the recycle container but it was drizzling when I left and I've got quite a bit of cardboard myself, like the box the water heater came in, so I'll add all that and do it today. The drizzle was supposed to be a storm front moving through bringing cool weather. If it rained, it didn't rain on us but it was a bit chilly this morning though two days from now we'll be back in the low 80s.


My daughter Sarah works at a print shop and they do the printing for schools and businesses and theaters, etc. One of the theaters is the small theater-in-the-round, Main Street Theater. She occasionally gets comped tickets and so last Sunday she took my sister and me to see the current play by Thomas Gibbons, who (paraphrased from the playbill) explored the impact of race and racial equity on society through his play that was inspired by actual events that took place at the Barnes Foundation, “one of the world's greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern art”.  Permanent Collection is about an eccentric collector of Impressionist paintings and his Morris Foundation/gallery that upon his death he bequeathed to a black college and a new black director. The stipulation of the will, however, said that the displays could not be changed ever. The new director wants to display some of the African art that is in the collection as well as some of the other art kept in the storeroom that no one ever sees. He clashes with a white employee who has devoted his career to this collection (and perhaps thinks he should have been named the new director instead of an unqualified stranger) and wishes to honor the terms of the will, no changes to the gallery or art displayed. The undercurrent, of course, is that of racism and while the white employee claims he is not a racist, insulted to be called racist, that his objection is based on the educational value of the display and honoring the wishes of the founder, he still says things, makes a proposal that made the audience gasp. On the other hand the new black director seems hypersensitive to subtle acts/words of racism and quick to make the charge, understandable as the opening shows him being pulled over by the cops on his way to his first day at the Foundation for driving while black in his Jag which could very well have led to his death by cop as so often happens in real life. The white guy resigns, lawsuits are filed, protests are staged and in the end nobody wins because attempted negotiations fail, neither side gives in, the foundation goes bankrupt, the director is replaced by the creator's black personal assistant, and the collection is moved to another part of town albeit with no changes. The idea of the play that caused the head butting was who now owns the art/gallery and what rights do they have related to that ownership? Does the original owner who collected the works, established the Foundation, set up the gallery and controlled how the collection was displayed and who could view the art and when, have permanent control in perpetuity after his death (it was after all stipulated in the will that the display of the collection could never change) after bequeathing the Foundation to another institution when half the collection remains unseen in the storage room? The play was very good and had a 'talk back' session afterwards that we didn't stay for since we had at least an hour's drive to get back home.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

winter reading list

Fairy Tale by Stephen King – Back when I got bit by the copperhead and since all 7 books of the Dark Tower were out, I decided that I would read them while I was laid up. So I did. And when I was done I swore I would never read another of his books again, it pissed me off that much. I slogged through those books to get to the end and dammit if it wasn't just Groundhog Day. And I haven't until I decided to read this one because everyone was saying it was good. Don't get me wrong, I used to like King. Salem's Lot is probably the scariest book I've ever read. And I think The Green Mile is one of the best stories ever told. I've liked a lot of his books but he seemed to peter out to me. Anyway, I read this one and I liked it well enough but I think it would have been a better book without the weird referencing to fairy tales like Rumplestiltskin and not just fairy tales but fables like The Three Little Pigs and nursery rhymes like The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe and stories of other places like Oz and I think even Star Wars and writers like Edgar Allen Poe. The main character would see something and make the connection in his mind and I'm going What? No! Sometimes the connection was so slender as to be contrived. And especially when the most obvious one, to me, in the whole book was never made...See no evil, Speak no evil, Hear no evil. I understand the point I think, but still. Anyway, after this long introduction to the book in which each chapter begins with an illustration: The main character Charlie, 17 year old athletic student whose mother died when he was a child, whose father became a drunk and then got sober, who made a promise to whatever god that he would not shy from the task given so long as his father remained sober. Charlie finds his reclusive angry old man neighbor and dog in need of aid and befriends them while being his caretaker during the man's recovery from a fall off a ladder and ultimately is told of a passage into another world as a result of the friendship. Charlie has an objective for going there, to turn the clock back for his dying dog, but in the process he becomes the Promised Prince that brings about the restoration of the ruined fair world of Empris and restores the rightful rulers after vanquishing the monstrous enemy who usurped the throne and turned the country and people to ruin. I don't feel like I'm giving anything away because it is a fairy tale in its own right and isn't that how fairy tales go?

Strange Weather by Joe Hill – Let me start out by saying I really like the way he writes. This is a collection of four short novels and each story begins and ends with an illustration. I like that.
     Snapshot is about 14 year Michael who helps his neighbor suffering from dementia to get back home when she warns him not to let the 'polaroid man' take his picture because he steals memories. Michael later has a disturbing encounter with the man with the camera and sets out to protect his neighbor, the woman who was his caretaker growing up and the current victim of the Phoenician, from the memory snatching polaroid. He discovers how much this woman loved him and the story culminates in Michael's final act of caring for her.
     Loaded is the story of a violent and angry man whose wife divorced him and has a restraining order against him and who is no longer allowed to own or possess guns and who works in a mall as a security guard. Regardless, he has obtained a gun from a friend and the day a woman shot and killed her lover at the store where they worked, he responded and four other people ended up dead. Hailed as a hero, his story of the shootings starts to unravel when a local reporter starts digging up his past and he does not react well.
     Aloft is the story of Aubrey, a man who agrees to skydive to impress a women he is in love with who does not love him. The jump does not go as planned when he lands on a semi-solid cloud with no way down. The cloud responds to his wishes for comfort and other desires but he is stranded with no food or water and knows he will eventually die up there unless he can find a way down.
     Rain is the story of Honeysuckle, a lesbian waiting for her girlfriend to arrive in Boulder to begin their life together. Just as Yolanda arrives a sudden rain bursts that isn't water but sharp crystal needles that kill everyone who had the bad luck to be outside when it happened. More crystal rains fall spreading out over the country and world as Honeysuckle tries to find her way in this new environment, avoiding the crazy nihilists out to get her, while the world falls apart and she discovers how it all began.

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd – This is the third book in a row that has an illustration at the beginning of each chapter, not an illustration so much as a graphic, and if this is a new trend in publishing, I like it. Why shouldn't adult books have illustrations? Anyway, this the story of the shipwrecked Batavia, en route to the Dutch East Indies from Holland. On board is 9 year old Mayken whose mother has died and she is being sent to a father she has never met. She spends the months of the voyage going on 'misadventures above and below the deck' hunting for a mythical monster she is sure is haunting the ship. One night during a storm, getting separated from the rest of the flotilla, the Batavia runs aground on a coral reef, the ship is abandoned, the survivors are stranded on an atoll from which a boat is launched to go for help. While they struggle to survive waiting for rescue, Mayken learns that the true monsters are all around her. Three hundred and sixty one years later, after the death of his mother, 9 year old Gil is sent to live with a grandfather he barely remembers on the same island that the survivors of the Batavia were stranded on which is now the base for fishermen during the season. Gil is a lost and lonely boy left to his own devices, and his own entertainment, while his taciturn grandfather is out on the boat. He finds himself in the middle of a feud between his grandfather Joss and the dominant family on the island and his strangeness ignites hard feelings into violence. I've barely touched on the stories of these two children, told intertwined in alternating chapters, and what becomes of them. It's a good book, well told, easy reading. I'm going to see if the library has anymore of her work.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave – Sarah and Andrew take a free weekend at a resort in Nigeria to try and save their marriage. They decide to take a walk down the beach, leaving the safety of the resort and run into two girls being chased by mercenaries as they flee the destruction of their village and the murder of their people by an oil company who wants to drill there. The hunters catch up with them as they run towards Andrew and Sarah. The hunters give Andrew and Sarah a chance to save one of the girls by cutting off a finger and so Sarah does and then both girls are dragged away. Little bee is released and makes her way to a port where she sneaks aboard a ship to London and is turned into a detention center. She is kept there for two years before being released illegally and makes her way to Sarah's house. The rest of the book is about the relationship they develop and what to do about Little Bee. The story is told alternately from Little Bee's viewpoint and Sarah's. I didn't care for the ending personally but it does reflect what happens in real life.

French Braid by Anne Tyler – I have no idea why she titled this book French Braid because the reference to that happened only once at the very end of the book as in what was the name of that braid she used to wear? The story opens with Serena and her boyfriend from college catching the train to meet his parents and she sees a man she thinks is her cousin Nicholas. She's not quite sure and doesn't speak to him. Her boyfriend thinks that's weird and can't believe her family is so unconnected that she wasn't even sure the man was her cousin. Then it segues to Serena's grandparents and their three children, Alice, Lily, and David, and tells the family's story through three generations and doesn't get back to Serena until the very end and then only peripherally and it's at least a decade later. I enjoyed it well enough.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – There is London above and London below. We all know London above, few know London below where magic and creatures and people live and haunt and struggle. Door is being chased by two hunters sent to kill her. She's exhausted. Every door she creates or opens, they follow and it has drained her. She is wounded and needs sleep and reaches out mentally for one last door to open to someplace safe and falls through a brick wall at the feet of Richard and his fiance Jessica, late for dinner with her boss in London above. Richard stops despite Jessica's urging to leave the girl be and come on. And so Richard is drawn into the world of London below when he helps Door escape her pursuers and then finds that he has become invisible to the world of London above. In London below, Door's family has been murdered and she is on a quest to not only not be killed as well but find out who and why her entire family has been. She acquires the hapless hero Richard because he has nowhere else to go, the marquis de Carabas for his help and information, and the bodyguard Hunter to protect her on her mission. I really like Gaiman's storytelling and he weaves a tale with a very satisfying ending.


Sunday, February 26, 2023

what I did on, last week

This is a long post, here it is Saturday, the first chance I've had to sit down and write. Nearly a week has gone by and I've yet to get back out and work in the garden but that's the plan for this afternoon. Tuesday, like Monday was very windy and grocery shop day and gas up the car day and fix dinner day and always walk the dog day. Wednesday we had to get up really early and get to Victoria for a follow-up X-ray and appointment with the pulmonologist. The most recent x-ray showed his lung nearly clear with the upper right section still densely white. He's feeling better I think than he did before he got sick but he's still on antibiotics and steroids there's that.

Thursday was my SHARE day and then I had an opthomologist appointment in the afternoon to check the progress of my cataracts (still not bad enough for surgery, come back in a year) and she dilated my eyes which made my left eye feel weird and when it got dark, all the lights on buildings, headlights on cars, traffic lights had rays coming out from them to a wonky shaped halo but only with my left eye. 

Never had that happen before and then yoga. And Friday we drove to Shopping Mecca for a series of purchases, some successful, some not, but the main one is that we bought a new washer and dryer. I mean, as long as we're throwing money around for a new water heater and two new iPhones, why the hell not? The ones that came with the house have to be 30 years old if not older and the dryer quit working the week before I took Marc to the ER and the agitator in the washer starts out vigorous but then gets sluggish and we're not at all sure just how clean the clothes were getting and besides that one of the springs that balance the tub is broken and no longer available for replacement, same with the discharge hose that broke in two so we had to glue it back together with Gorilla glue. Suffice to say, a new washer and dryer was not a frivolous expense and besides, I was out of clean underwear. Delivery is imminent.

out with the old

in with the new

After two days in the 80s, really? it's February, this morning was a bit chilly which is more like it though it didn't last long and warmed up. The first EarthLab talk for the year at Hesed House is this morning on creating a successful butterfly habitat and since my sister is the one who organizes this lecture series my presence is de rigueur, not that I mind as she arranges very interesting programs, but it does mean those Saturdays start earlier than usual.


Well yesterday didn't play out at all as planned. I did go to the EarthLab presentation from the Texas Master Naturalists Coastal Prairie Chapter on building a healthy habitat for butterflies, which mostly boiled down to creating a 'pocket prairie' that is consistent with our ecoregion which is coastal prairie, you want to have the proper plants that bloom at the proper time to support our region's butterflies and caterpillars for food and shelter as well as those migrating through, and leaving it all the fuck alone. So if you like a neat lawn of grass with tidy bordered flowerbeds of forced garden center annuals, which she said very often don't even produce nectar, this is not the style for you. Don't rake those fall leaves, don't mow the spring 'weeds', learn to love the look of a natural habitat through all four seasons. Here's their website if you want more information about the Texas coastal prairie which the speaker says, because of all the human intervention, is nearly extinct and is, in actuality, functionally extinct.

When I got home and came in the garage door and crossed the threshold I saw a thick line of fire ants marching along the baseboard. Backing up, Thursday morning as I was getting ready to leave I noticed ants around the baseboard of my workroom and into my bedroom so I spooned out cinnamon along their path which a friend had recommended for getting rid of ants and it had worked for a previous attempted incursion from the door to the little backyard and left for SHARE. When I got back I swept it all up and then discovered they were making a nest under the rubber mat right outside the door into the garage. Swept them out and sprinkled some ant poison under the mat. Problem solved. Ha. Saturday, I followed the thick line of ants to the corner where Cat's litter box is. Picked up the litter box and there were thousands of the fuckers setting up shop. No no no no no! Can't spray poison in the house so out came the vacuum cleaner and then I moved the plants in the opposite corner back outside and vacuumed there and then along the baseboards of all four walls following the trail of ants.

Then I figured as long as I had the vacuum cleaner out I would do the rest of the house which I did and threw that bag into the trash can in the garage. Later I checked and there were still some ants traversing the baseboards in the big room, sucked them up as well. So now, this morning? Yes, still some and I'll get out the vacuum directly. I just wonder if these are stragglers or new ones coming in wondering where the hell the nest went. Surely, eventually, they'll figure out that ants come in but they never come back out. Now I need to take the plants in the garage back out, pull up the mats around the door and along the wall, move a small shelf unit, and sweep and use the leaf blower and clean out all the accumulated dirt and put the mats back down. They probably initially came in with one of the pots that have overwintered in the garage.

So, yeah, still haven't gotten back out in the yard but here's a few pictures...the first amaryllis, the pink rose bush, false freesia (freesia laxa), and more daffodils.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

more early spring wildflowers

Our son and daughter came out to visit Sunday to see their dad. They both brought food already cooked, Sarah brought lasagna and Aaron brought tortilla soup. Since Aaron lives in the city we don't see him very often and it's even rarer that we see the two of them at the same time. I did more weeding and turning of the earth Sunday. The wind had died down and it was sunny and had warmed up some, really a perfect day to dig. This is the same area I started on before. I didn't get it all done but I'm getting there. Next throw in some fertilizer and compost and turn that in and it will be ready to plant for a small spring garden. Also I have two shepherd's crooks I'm going to experiment with planting squash maybe in hanging baskets. Don't know how it will work, or maybe green beans. Anyway it will be my first food garden in years.

The yard still looks pretty bleak even though it is covered in 10 petal anemone flowers. I've tried to get a picture but they just don't show up well, can't see in the picture what the eye sees. This is a small section but the whole yard is like this. 

And the purple woodland violets are starting to fill in where the anemones aren't.

The long bed on the east side is completely dormant, well, some of the love-in-a-mist are sprouting. I don't think I'm going to get many rocket larkspur this year or poppies for that matter. Not seeing any sprouts for them but, as I keep reminding myself, it's still just February. On the other hand some of the bluebonnets in the front are already sending up first blooms.

Besides working in the flower bed I went around the yard digging up the sow thistle, some of which were already three or four feet tall. Back to being overcast and windy Monday. I finally started cutting down the dead confederate rose stalks after breakfast. Got all of one done and half the other when it started to sprinkle and since there was an 80% chance of rain I came in and read for a while and then took a nap. I could have taken another one while I was writing this yesterday but it was almost time to get changed for yoga. It never did rain and now the howling wind is back.

The other thing is that our new phones came yesterday. We're moving up from an iPhone 6 to a 13! Marc got everything switched over on his while I was at yoga last night and he helped me with mine this morning.