Monday, May 29, 2023

yard work winding down and a handful of republicans unexpectedly did the right thing

These Texas star hibiscus flowers greeted me this morning

and one of the yellow bells has starting blooming.

I've about finished all my outdoor chores though I haven't so far bought and spread the mulch I should be spreading. One area already getting weedy again but it's the one I spend the least time and attention on and have considered letting most of it go back to grass. And there's two old shrubs that struggled to survive after each of the first two arctic blasts and finally died after the third one that need to be cut down with the chainsaw. I should really take care of that before it gets any hotter.

Now that my attention is no longer solely focused on the yard, it's about time to start going over to the studio and putting things in order at least and maybe starting on some new work. Also still need to do something about the leak in the exterior water pipe and since my first attempt at sealing it with FlexSeal paste was less than successful, I've just ignored it since.

Or I could turn my attention to drawing or watercolor. Probably I'll just read the rest of today or do something about the last of the Fredericksburg peaches I bought today, most of which are ripe and ready.

I started the new low dose of my afib med a week ago Sunday. Sunday and Monday were fine; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were jumpy and I was afraid that the lower dose wasn't going to cut it but Thursday evening my sinus rhythm settled down and it's been fine since so that's encouraging.


An unthinkable thing happened Saturday. Our corrupt as fuck attorney general, Ken Paxton, whose favorite pastime is filing frivolous lawsuits against President Biden wasting taxpayer money, was impeached on 20 counts of corruption by the republican controlled Texas House in a vote of 121 to 23 after a months long investigation by a bipartisan House committee and has been suspended from office until the Texas Senate holds its trial. Paxton, a Trump supporting MAGAt, has been under indictment since 2015, less than a year into his first term as AG, for felony securities fraud. Apparently not egregious enough for Texas republicans, they voted him into office two more times while he continued to take bribes, do special favors, retaliate against his opponents, and in general engage in abuse of office including requesting the state pay a $3.3 million settlement against him personally to 3 whistleblowers who came forward with reports of his corruption. It was this request that finally triggered an investigation. As soon as the investigative committee announced the articles of impeachment Paxton and Trump were on the phone to republican representatives threatening 'consequences' if they voted for impeachment. And of course our Trump butt kissing MAGAt insurrectionist federal senator Rafael 'Ted' Cruz, came out in support of Paxton.

Most of our House republicans finally found somewhat of a spine and a modicum of integrity and did the right thing. It remains to be seen if the Texas Senate follows suit.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

summer harvests

If there was any doubt that spring has given way to summer, if the heat, the humidity, and the mosquitos didn't clue you in, last night's and this morning's cicada serenade was certainly proof. Double orange daylilies and ripening tomatoes are also good clues.

These are off the Big Boy and Beefsteak. Not so big, are they. There was also a ripe Old German but we ate that the day I picked it. It was surprising mild, bland even. I also acquired a dozen or so tomatoes of varying size that one of the other volunteers at SHARE brought in from his garden to share with us. There was only an hour left so I assumed everyone had gotten what they wanted and took the whole bag but then one guy wanted two, another volunteer wanted one to eat with her lunch. Take as many as you want I told them.

The Farmer's Market today had three vendors with produce and I got a cantaloupe, 2 cucumbers, a yellow squash, and some okra. I won't buy tomatoes there because the vendors get together and all charge the same amount which is $5 a pound and which I think is robbery. You might get two tomatoes for $5 if they're big, three if smaller unless it's cherries but I don't buy those anyway. I'll wait til the end of the season and see if anyone wants to unload tomatoes if they have any left. I'm just going to make tomato sauce with them.

The 4 dozen ears of corn I requested from my neighbor Leonard's brother's garden came on Thursday, fresh picked that morning. I ordered 4 dozen because my sister asked for a dozen, they're small the guy says so give her five dozen, but then she only took 6 since she had gotten six from the previous corn that Jose had brought us. So minus two bad ones and four that we've eaten, I had another 4 dozen ears on top of the two dozen I had already put up. Friday Marc shucked while I blanched, cut it off the cob, and vacuum sealed it. What we didn't get done yesterday, we finished up today, me blanching and packaging while Marc cut it all off the cobs.

Last Wednesday because my potato plants had yellowed and were dying I dug up my potatoes. Too late planting and then all that rain did not make for a good harvest. I could hold the entire amount in one hand. I'll try again in the fall.

Thursday before I left for SHARE we noticed a vulture eating on something in the ditch in front of the house. When I got home there were about a dozen. Curious as to what had died in my ditch, I shooed them away and armadillo. Wednesday I had seen quite a few big excavations, bigger than the possum makes looking for food and so now I know what had made them. Unfortunately, the vultures never came back, just one now and then and by Friday afternoon it really stank so after I walked the dog I got the big shovel out, scooped it up, and threw it into the wild space at the back of the property, actually in back of my neighbor to the east's property. He's rarely in residence so I didn't think it mattered. And no I did not take a picture of a dead stinky armadillo but here's a picture of a live one I got off the internet.

photo via

Two weeks after my haircut my hair has started to remember some of it's curls and waves, still flat on the sides but in a few more weeks it ought to fill out some though I got lots of compliments at SHARE on Thursday.

This is just a test sentence to see if the blogger mobile app still translates comic sans into something wacky and unreadable.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

summer chores, Cat, more daylilies

The peacock was back in the yard on Friday. Minnie wasn't exactly sure what to think of it, she kept her distance while she followed it barking, herding it out to the street while it made strange hooting calls.

It took me three days to get the yard mowed with the little electric mower with it's 14” cutting swath, or at least the 150 feet of it that the cord would reach. Really, there was only another 10 feet of so that I would have mowed. Friday I did the front, Saturday and Sunday the big backyard. Saturday was hot and humid and even though I took a water and cool down break, I got overheated. Fortunately, Sunday was cooler but it didn't stop sweat dripping off me. I'm not doing this again. Mowing is Marc's chore so if there isn't a new riding mower by the time it needs to be cut again, I'm getting the guy who cuts the shop yard to do it. The only reason I did it in the first place is because of the mosquitoes loving to hang out in the tall grass and since I'm the one that spends a lot of time outside, I'm the one they're attacking. I also got two mosquito traps (mixed reviews on if they work or not) and mosquito dunks for the four ponds and the one rain collector since it appears the minnows aren't eating the larva faster than the mosquitoes are hatching.

(most of) the big backyard 

Taking the picture above, I'm standing under the magnolia tree by the corner of the garage with a maple tree and the barn to my right, there's another big pecan tree and the west flower bed to the left not shown.

Cat has decided, at least for the time being, that's she's an indoor cat. All that rain and lightning and thunder we had kept her inside and the first day or so after the last rain it was pretty wet out there. Ever since she has shown no interest in going outside. I hold the door open for her and she just looks at me like, are you nuts, I'm not going out there. Previously she would spend about half her day outside.

Yesterday I put up corn. My neighbor Jose who works on a farm came by Sunday evening with a car load of sweet corn to give away. I guess the farmer he works for sold as much as he could or maybe he just let Jose load up to distribute as he saw fit as a perk. Anyway, I took three dozen. Gave my sister and daughter half a dozen each so I have two dozen to blanch, cut off the cob, and vacuum seal in amounts of two servings. I'll also get some corn from another neighbor's brother when he harvests next. I don't buy corn from the grocery store because I don't know where it came from or how it was grown. I want to see worm damage. If a worm won't eat it, neither will I.

Corn grown the way it's supposed to be grown, worm gets some, people get the rest.

That took me basically all day, had about 5 minutes to change for yoga and just as I got in the car Abby called and asked if I would lead the class, her son wasn't feeling well, so I did that.

Some of the tomatoes are starting to show some color.

A few more daylilies.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

cut the med, cut the hair, cut the grass

Wednesday was my twice yearly follow-up with the electrophysiologist, my afib doctor. The protocol for the medication he has me on is a check in every six months. It's been four years since I had the ablation for flutter and he put me on meds for the afib. The low dose of the sotolol he started with wasn't having much effect so he bumped it up to the higher dose. Now, after 4 years of twice a year visits and ekgs showing a good sinus rhythm each visit he is reducing my med to the lower dose. Says I'll have more energy. More energy?! Seriously, the last thing I need is more energy. That's what my primary care doc said when he put me on thyroid medication those decades ago which at the time I didn't so much as walk from place to place as charged ahead from place to place. And my blood pressure was good so I was glad to have about a half hour waiting before being called in as I could feel it rising as I got into the horrible Houston traffic. I'm glad his office is a couple of exits inside the beltway instead of right smack in the middle of the city.

The other thing I did this week was get my hair cut. When it gets to the point of being put up in a bun or ponytail basically as soon as I get up then what's the point of keeping it long. 

Pulled back in a bun the gray is more apparent.

Besides, it's summer now with the attendant humidity so I went Thursday afternoon. I want something different this time, I told her. I don't know what I want exactly but I want it short, maybe just two inches, I told her. Off my neck, out of my face. Two inches is a bad idea, she says. We looked at pictures of styled cuts. I don't do styling, I don't use product, I'm a wash and let air dry kind of gal. I wasn't looking for a 'look' so basically I told her to just cut it. She started and the first cut was over one ear. My eyes got large, maybe even winced a bit. Should I turn you around til I'm finished she asked. A weak little 'no' from me. Second cut above my other ear, another little wince and maybe a whimper. Are you going to cry she asked. Another weak little 'no' from me. The die was cast and she cut and cut and cut. There was a small animal on the floor when she was done.

I'm reminded of the adage 'be careful what you wish for'. My hair has never been this short. Ever. It's a pixie cut she says. I like the way it feels. I like the way it looks in the back. 

Not too sure about how it looks from the front because of the way my hair curls above my temples. Oh well, I'll get used to it and it will grow out. I did think it would be curlier though.


The riding lawn mower es muerto and the mosquitoes are horrendous out there, big black ones and teeny little ones, hiding in the tall grass waiting for me to wander in the yard. Seriously, they swarm you and run you in the house so today, Friday, I fetched the little electric mower from over at the shop and did the front yard. Took me almost two hours what with all the stopping to toss away the hidden fallen branches and clearing out the shredded grass and leaves clogging it up and the break I took to cool off and drink some water. Tomorrow I'll do the big backyard as far as the heavy duty extension cord will reach.

I have to get up soon to start dinner when what I really want to do is lay down and take a nap. A simple meal...baked cod fillets, buttered new potatoes with dill, and the handful of green beans I picked this morning,

and now that the first Fredericksburg peaches are in maybe a sliced peach too.

And just because they are so glorious, here's another picture of the zinnias.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

wet, hot, and what's blooming

Monday, mostly overcast but trying to clear. Enough clear and thin spots for the sun to beam through though the weather app says it's raining and will rain all afternoon or at least a 30% chance. Oh, goody, haven't had much of that lately. So the sun is out enough but too wet to do anything that involves dirt, doing it's best to put all that water in the ground up into the air and doing a fabulous job of it, at midday 83˚ and 72% humidity. And did I mention mosquitos? Yes, they have woken up. Welcome to summer on the Texas Gulf Coast plains.

Too wet for dirt work so since I had to move all the stuff leaning against that wall in the garage to pull up the wet mats I decided to clean up, clean out, rearrange the garage. Clearing out the daddy long legs webs, throwing out the things that are trash, reorganizing my boxes of stuff to be recycled moving them to their summer spot, dragging out the metal shelving unit being underutilized on the other side of the garage and hosing it down to be moved to a better and more useful location when it dries, blowing out the current accumulation of leaves, sorting through the old and rusty and no longer useful yard tools and wondering where they came from and what to do with them. By now I'm so sweaty it's dripping off me. Enough for today.

shelving unit in its new spot

Sunday early evening looking at the old german tomato plant that I swear grows a foot every day leaning on its neighbors, bending over the top of the cage, what to do. I remembered I had two 3/8” 8' lengths of rebar in the barn so I threaded them through the cage into the ground and tied up the tallest branches. If they grow taller than that I'll just have to cut them off. I wouldn't be able to reach any fruit anyway.

So on to some of what's blooming.

This althea (rose of sharon) busted out in bloom seemingly overnight.

The zinnias!

The elephant garlic allium.

The purple coneflowers.

The mexican hats.

The day lilies are blooming. I could do a whole post on just them. There's at least 6 other varieties not pictured here. Either they already bloomed out or haven't bloomed yet.

There's some other stuff but I'll save those for the next post.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

the mysterious appearance of a puddle of water

Saturday morning. It's been a fairly quiet week. It's turned hot and humid or rainy and humid. The weather app says it storming right now in Wharton but not at my house. It's dark and nice and cool out so it must be raining somewhere close. Starting to hear rumbles of thunder. It did finally rain.

I happened to look out the window Friday morning to see the neighborhood roaming peacock in the neighbor's yard walking towards the big backyard which it crossed and then down our driveway about halfway when it turned around and walked back up and then cut across the Wicked Bitch of the West's lot and on down the street. Poor thing is ragged, had several bald spots and his tail feathers that drag on the ground were torn up.

Not much done out in the yard. Friday I worked out there about an hour before I was dripping sweat and hot. Pulled down a huge dead limb that had fallen but was hanging down caught up in the climbing rose canes and broke it up and tossed it in the truck and rigged up a new stake for one of the dragon fruit plants I have. 

When I came in it was 86˚ and 70% humidity. Ugh. I still have some periwinkles, a purple (I think) porter weed, and a flowering senna to get in the ground but it's either too wet, about to rain, raining, or in full sun and really hot while being too wet. Such a contrast to last year.

Sunday morning. Another night of lightning, thunder, and waves of hard rain starting around two and finally stopping more or less around six. Another sleepless night though this time I just gave up entirely when the dog got wound up and kept trying to lay on my pillow above my head which wouldn't have been so bad if she had just settled down and stayed still but that's not what happens. She's a perpetual motion machine. Instead of getting frustrated at her I just got up, moved to the recliner in my room, turned on the floor lamp and read while she moved from one side of me to the other, over and over.

I also went out into the garage several times during the bouts of hard rain to see if I could see where the water was coming in that created a puddle in the middle of the foam mat path from the door to the house to the big garage door. I laid those interlocking foam mats down because the concrete in the garage is smooth as glass and when it gets wet, it's very slick. Slippery slick.

Anyway, yesterday was this month's EarthLab presentation at Hesed House on growing roses. It rained pretty hard during the presentation and when I got home I saw this.

Third time in the last week or so. First time didn't think much about it, second time I checked the ceiling above which was not wet and showed no sign of leaking, pulled up the mats to see a crack in the slab that seemed to start where the wall of the house meets the wall of the garage and forms a corner on the outside that it appeared the water had oozed up from. So Friday I raked all the fallen leaves and twigs and branches away that accumulate there from sliding off the slope of the roof. When I got home yesterday and saw that the mats weren't just wet but there was an actual puddle on top I got the ladder, checked the ceiling again which was dry but the track for the garage door had one spot from which two drops of water were clinging. Head scratcher. Then I checked the corresponding corner in the house and the floor was wet where water had seeped in. OK, this is not good. Water was either seeping in from the slab in that corner or there is a leak in the roof and the water is coming down between the wall in the house and the wall in the garage except neither wall felt wet.

So Saturday I got the 8' ladder out and used the hoe to rake off as much debris out of the valley on the roof that makes that corner that I could reach. You might remember that I did this earlier and needed to get on the roof to finish which I did not do. Now it's worse and I still need to get on the roof to finish and I didn't do it yesterday either but it must be done. Then I used the hoe and the shovel to dig a little trench to direct the water away from the slab and along the edge of the concrete apron. 

Which is why I was out in the garage three times in the middle of the night during the hard rain to see if water was coming in and from where but it was still dry, still dry this morning and so I guess my efforts worked since we got twice as much rain last night, almost 2”, than earlier in the day though I still don't know how water got on top of the mats. Now I'll just have to add that to my list of things to maintain. Whoopie.

Since this is long enough I'll save what's blooming for the next post.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

what normal life is supposed to be and fuck you, your thoughts and prayers, and your fucking guns

I've decided that the two holes in the yard were vole holes even though I don't see the trails that are supposed to accompany them that pictures show. I know we have had voles before because our cat before Cat would kill them every spring. So Monday I poked an 18” long stick in the one in the big backyard and never hit resistance. I couldn't get the stick very deep in the one in the little backyard because I needed something more flexible so I used an old measuring tape. Still only got about 6 or 8 inches in but I did fish out a big fat toad who was taking refuge in it. Then I used the hose nozzle on 'jet' and never did fill up either hole with water and nothing came running out so I filled both of them with as much dirt as I could pound in.

The other thing I did before I came in hot and sweaty was to finish filling the tub with dirt and planting my velvet okra plants.

As a portent that the Houston sprawl is heading all the way out to us the HEB here in Wharton has been undergoing a massive upgrade and rearrangement for the past few months. Every Tuesday when I do the weekly shop everything is moved from where it was the previous week, it's like a scavenger hunt to find stuff. And I swear last Tuesday they must have had every employee they have there moving products from one spot to another. But there's a lot of craziness too, like the dog and cat food being in 3 different locations, wherever they had space I guess. They're supposed to be done by June, maybe or July but the big surprise which I learned from one of the volunteers at SHARE last Thursday is that we are getting a fresh tortilla machine and a hot and cold sushi bar. A sushi Wharton? Wow. Whoda thought that would ever happen. But apparently this town is growing despite the original families' attempts to keep that from happening. An incredible amount of new home and apartment building is going on here getting ready for the influx of commuters they expect to inhabit them. We moved out here to get away from the city, away from big city crappy attitudes, taxes, and traffic and while I'm thrilled we're getting a sushi bar, I'm not so thrilled about the apparent reason.

These are my tomato plants. Two heritage and two hybrids, from the left...beefsteak, old german, big boy, black krim.

The close up of the flowers and developing fruit is the beefsteak. Except for last year when no one's tomatoes did well because it got so hot so fast and so dry and I had planted my four in pots instead of the ground and got nothing, this is the first time for beefsteak. I've tried heritage tomatoes before, though I don't remember which ones, but I've never had any luck with them only getting one or two fruits if that and determined that this would be my last try at heritage plants if they didn't produce. Well, the old german has grown taller than me and so far both it and the black krim have some developing fruit but not a lot. The other two don't have a lot either considering how big the plants are.

old german

Another dark overcast day out there today, could possibly rain all day though it isn't now. Well, the thunder has started so I guess the rain won't be far behind. I may not make it to the grocery store today after all (I did). Now it's gotten darker and the wind has picked up. Some rain. And while it is still overcast the storm has passed. Not so much rain but it did cool things down a little.


I'm going to have to start ignoring the news and social media again just for my own mental health and stress levels. Because now that the dust has settled on the latest mass shooting at a mall in Allen, TX that resulted in 8 innocent dead, three of them children; a 3 year old and two sisters 8 and 11 and at least one person with her face shot off; now that thoughts and prayers have been delivered by those who refuse to admit it's the guns, the press wonders what could possibly have been his motive. Are you fucking kidding me? It's the same fucking motive every fucking time, right wing hate and violence. These people want to kill, they want a fucking civil war and no, this is not mental illness, it's what they have been groomed for by the very people who only send useless thoughts and prayers because they want this to happen.

Jeff Tiedrich lays it out clearly. 

Which has led to this.

Our governor said afterwards that he WILL NOT impose any restrictions on guns of any sort in our state after allowing open carry with no license or training even though every fucking time republicans make it easier to buy, own, and open carry, the deaths and violence increases. The republican representative, Keith Self, for the 3rd congressional district in which it took place actually said that the only reason libs want to restrict guns is because they don't believe in god, don't have faith in god's plan for us all. Are you fucking kidding me? God's plan is to have your face shot off, to have children so mangled that parents' need to give DNA samples to know which body is their child's, to be shot down like a rabid dog for ringing a doorbell? You know what republicans think is the proper response to school shootings? Teach third graders, some of whom can't even tie their own shoes, how to field dress wounds. Jesus Fucking Christ.

This country is fucked up.