Sunday, March 31, 2024

more spring yard work and don't they ever get tired of being outraged?

According to the pecan trees, no more freezes until next winter. I usually notice when their buds start to swell and certainly when they start breaking open. I notice because I watch for it. Only this year it all happened while I wasn’t looking. Walking the dog the other day I saw that the neighborhood pecan trees were looking a little green. Checked mine when I got home and not only did they bud out, they’re blooming. How sneaky. I guess my summer shade canopy in the big backyard won’t be far behind. 

So, busy days in the yard. Potted up the fire spike and yellow angel trumpet cuttings since they all had well developed roots, added more dirt to the potato tubs (and I swear they grew even more overnight), 

checked on the zinnia seeds which are sprouting, planted more green beans which are pushing their way out of the ground, picked up and hauled to the burn pile about a third of the dead stalks in the ditch and abandoned the rest for a later effort but Robin’s boyfriend Evan cleared all the rest of them for me, pruned out all the dead branches of the mock dogwood and the dead canes of the climbing rose that I could reach and hauled it all to the burn pile, fertilized and mulched the azaleas and the camellia, moved most the potted plumerias to their summer locations and planted the big one back in the ground, cut back the rock roses about halfway. I think that’s all. Weeding and trimming on the agenda for today.

The maroon japanese iris is blooming.

Oh, and of course, today is Easter, a high holy day for Christians, another pagan celebration co-opted by the fledgling religion to get converts. Not being christian (or any religion) it’s just a good day in spring to get outside but the far right wingnut outrage machine is in full gear because, gasp, today is also Transgender Visibility Day and they are all over social media castigating President Biden for declaring Easter!!! to be Trans Visibility Day, even going so far as to call him a demon. What an egregious slap in the face to all Christians! The governor of Mississippi called it “an intentional attempt to insult and mock Christians across America.” Except President Biden did no such thing. He simply recognized it just as he recognized Cesar Chavez Day since they both fall on March 31st. March 31st has been Trans Visibility Day since 2009 and Biden had nothing to do with it. Easter moves around and just happened to fall on March 31st this year. I suppose they think that Biden should not have recognized Trans Visibility Day this year because religious bigotry and hate should take preference.

Because one fake outrage against Biden on Easter isn’t enough, they're also blaming him for the rule by the American Egg Board that’s been in place for 47 years banning religious themed designs from the egg art contest. The American Egg Board sponsors the White House egg art contest as a promotion for America’s egg farmers. Once again Biden has nothing to do with the rule, which btw was also in effect during Trump’s White House days and no one blinked an eye then, but that didn’t stop Senator Tuberville saying the ban was because Democrats are “a Satanic cult”.

Sheesh people, get a grip.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

a dream and spring in the yard

I dream. We all do. I used to be better at remembering my dreams but now the first conscious thought after I start to wake and poof, the dream is gone. This morning though, I managed to hang onto the last part of the dream at least. I say last part. It’s an assumption that there was more that preceded what I remember. This is what I remember…There was a small group of us, all women, in my bedroom and I was walking around naked. We were all going to go to a beach or bay or something and I said I guess I should put some clothes on and one of the women told me I should put some underpants on at least and they all left without waiting for me to get dressed. It took me some time to find and put on clothes and when I finally got there I was so annoyed I didn't go sit with them but decided to walk around the perimeter of this beach and ran into my brother and his wife and, separately, some other people I knew. Then I was leaving with someone and a woman was following after us but she was walking slower and we were about 20’ ahead of her when she called to us to wait for her to catch up. I turned around and said, you mean like y’all waited for me. I think it was the woman who told me to at least put on some underwear. I haven’t dreamed about being naked in decades but I didn’t seem to be concerned about it.

Today is cold and overcast which makes me not want to play outside. 

The rest of this post is pictures of the yard and what’s in it. Several of the photos are cropped way down to eliminate the rude ass words the wicked bitch of the west wrote on the side of her container facing my yard after accusing me of stealing her stupid bricks and tomato cages (I didn’t) and calling the sheriff on me which went nowhere. I would have just used a color fill to block out the offending message but I lost my Photoshop Elements when I switched to the Mac mini and don’t feel like buying it again.

Views of the big garden in the back.

Last spring my sister brought me a plant in a small pot that was left over after the garden club plant sale labeled  ‘purple porterweed’. After it developed buds I knew it wasn’t porterweed. Google image search has identified it as brazilian button flower (centratherum).

Blue flag iris bud.

This clump of amaryllis bulbs did not bloom last year but this year it has sent up 8 bloom stalks.

Another yellow surprise, this beaded iris, so at least one of the rhizomes I planted isn’t white.

The penstemon is blooming.

The mock dogwood/mock orange is in full bloom.

This guy wasn’t in the yard but on the driveway between the car and truck and I almost stepped on it. It’s about 2’ long and was motionless so I thought it was dead at first but when I poked at it gently with a long stick it slowly moved away snugging up against the wheel of the truck. Ten minutes later it was gone. Once again google image search identified it…a broad banded water snake, non venomous.

Monday, March 25, 2024

an act of generosity and selflessness and hard ass work

The weekend was near perfect as weather goes but then Sunday evening clouds and wind moved in and today is overcast with rain predicted. Oh goodie, we hadn’t had enough of that last week (major eye roll). I have lots of pictures of flowers and my blooming yard but they will have to wait because I want to write about my neighbor.

Friday afternoon walking Minnie I saw that my neighbor Jose was out in his yard and I stopped to chat for a minute. He and his wife had recently planted roses across the front of their house and excavated along the side of the drive for more. Last spring I dug up a red knockout rose that was hanging on by its fingernails because it just did not get any sun. I actually thought it had died but I put it in a pot anyway and it has grown and even bloomed but I still don’t have any place to put it in the ground so I offered it to Jose. 

After the flood in 2017, Jose and his wife and his younger brother and his parents moved into a house midway down the street that they had been maintaining while they paid for the owner financed house. They fixed it up nicely, built a little apartment at the end of the driveway and Jose studied for and passed his citizenship test. I’m not sure when this family immigrated but I think they’ve been in country for quite a while. They are industrious and hardworking people many of whom do not speak english. About two or three years ago, the old couple that lived in the house next door to them died and their son sold the house to Jose and his wife. Last year the house across the street from me went on the market and one of Jose’s brothers and his wife who had moved into the original house bought it and are fixing it up. 

Anyway, when I was chatting with Jose, he said he wanted to cut the ditch in front of the shop property, which was horrendously overgrown, to help with the water drainage down to the main culvert at the end of the street and did I mind. Remember, we had just had 8 1/4” of rain in one week and while the ditch in front of his house was full, it did not overflow as so many at the far end of the street did. I was a little incredulous, would I mind if you took on that monumental job? NO! I can pay you a little which he refused, he lives on the street too, it would benefit him as well, and all those weeds slow the drainage of water and trash gets caught in it. This ditch is very deep and steep and the last time I took on clearing it I only did the section in front of my sister’s house to the left of the drive into the shop and it took me three days and it wasn't nearly as bad as now. After my sister moved in she badgered the county to keep it mowed while she poisoned the fence line. Almost five months after her death I can’t even begin to describe how overgrown it was and of course I don’t have a before picture. Let's just say you couldn't see the bottom of the ditch and barely see past the fence.  

Saturday mid morning I heard the sound of a gas trimmer and there was Jose starting to cut the ditch. I offered to buy the gas for his trimmer, he refused, has plenty of gas he said. Then his younger brother joined and his other brother mowed the part that could be mowed. These men worked all day on that ditch finishing about 4 Saturday afternoon. I gave Jose the rose and a bag of zinnia seeds for his mother and a pound of shelled pecans and expressed my undying gratitude and please if there is anything I can do for you just ask.

Jose and his younger brother almost to the end. The lots here are half acre, the shop is on an acre and a half, they cleared the deepest steepest ditch that is 3 times longer than the one in front of his house that can simply be mowed.

The after pictures. First the ditch on the left side of the drive into the shop yard, second picture the ditch on the right side of the drive. The pictures really don't convey how deep and steep this ditch is. I still need to get in there and get all those dead stalks out they cut down, most of which are taller than me, and haul them to the burn pile, but, yay, it’s raining again.

These are the kind of people my republican governor and legislature want to prevent coming to this country. These are the people Trump wants to deport. 

OK, now my tirade…I am sorry to have to admit that the republicans in control of my state have finally made me ashamed to be a Texan. Our governor and republican controlled legislature are cruelty personified. There’s the whole razor wire and barbed buoys in the Rio Grande, the take over of a park on the border refusing to allow border control access, the deployment of the Texas National Guard, and the bussing of immigrants without proper clothing or food or water or even knowledge of where they are going up north in the middle of dangerous cold weather, dropping them off on the roadside and without alerting anyone. Now our legislature has passed SB4 which authorizes police to arrest anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and judges to deport them. No proof needed, just the suspicion of being in the country illegally. Latino name, brown skin is all the proof they want. Democrats fought hard to have pregnant women seeking medical care protected from being ratted out. Biden and the DOJ sued and a district court ruled it conflicted with federal law as border control falls under the federal government. Implementation of SB4 was halted by a judge while the lawsuits claiming it to be unconstitutional worked its way through the courts and then that stay was stayed by another judge allowing implementation. The DOJ then requested the Supreme Court to void the second stay and yesterday they declined to do so throwing it back to the appellate court. Fortunately the appellate court met late last night and voided the ruling and reinstated the original ruling that halted implementation while the lawsuit is being considered. Complicated, I know. This is my best effort at explaining the process in a short and concise manner. Anyway, Texas is barred for now from implementing SB4 though there were 9 hours in which it was in effect. 

Texas used to be a great state until the republicans got control 30 years ago. Rick Perry as governor was bad enough but Greg Abbott is exponentially worse. Besides the fight over the border and immigrants listed above they have gerrymandered the voting districts making it nearly impossible to vote them out, ruined the public school system, deregulated everything, taken control away from local leaders in their cities and communities, taken away the rights of women and endangered their lives, sowed hate and violence against minorities and LGBTQ people, outlawed care for trans minors and tried to have the parents charged with child abuse, have made several attempts to acquire medical records of women and trans people who have gotten care in other states, have passed ordinances restricting travel out of state for women for reproductive care (fortunately unenforceable), and so much more. Gov. Abbott has become a de facto dictator and AG Paxton spends his time and taxpayer money on frivolous lawsuits against the federal government and other states whose policies and laws he doesn’t like. And like the RNC nationally, the two of them are purging the republican party in Texas of all those republicans who aren’t fully onboard with their extreme agenda. Abbott has been pushing for school vouchers to further decimate the public school system but democrats and some republicans who still try and represent their constituents have voted it down every time because it is unpopular with Texans. Abbott doesn’t care and he intends to force it on the population.

Us decent Texas are trying to vote them out and have come achingly close but so far we’ve had little success because of gerrymandering and voter suppression which AG Paxton brags about.


Friday, March 22, 2024

wildlings, spring blooms, and rain

The capture of Twin Monday was a success though I had to use the live trap. First I snatched up Handsome Boy and Lovey and closed them up in the shed with food, then I put a container of food in the live trap and set it up. Robin came out to try and attract Twin with some food to see if she could grab him but they are still very wary of her and he wouldn’t approach. He did take a few steps into the live trap but backed out and wouldn’t go near it again until Robin went back inside. Even then it was a good 10 or 15 minutes before he approached the trap sniffing at the food from the outside while I quietly sat a good distance away. Finally he went in far enough to trigger the door and he was caught and boy was he mad. In all the months I’ve been feeding this kitten I have never heard him make a sound. Lovey is the most vocal and quick to loudly purr, Handsome Boy is mostly silent but he will meow now and then and when I picked him up Monday he purred loud enough to be certain for the first time. Robin and I think he is the most ready to be in the house. 

So I texted Robin ‘got him’ and went back home to get the car. When I picked up the trap I really thought Twin was going to hurt himself thrashing around and head butting the end in a desperate attempt to get out but once I had him in the back seat he laid down and calmly and quietly spent the ride to the vet. He hissed at me once when I picked up the trap and carried him into the vet but didn’t yowl or thrash around. On my way there I got a text from Robin…Lovey started yelling and crying after you took him, it was sad. Lovey is the most affectionate of the three always rubbing up against his brothers, hence his name. The vet called Tuesday morning to let me know that Twin had had his surgery and was doing well. I could pick him up anytime after 2 PM. So now Twin is home, he rode calmly and quietly all the way back and his brothers were happy to see him.

Wednesday when I went over to feed them this is where I found Twin. 

The other two were curled up on the landing outside the door to the screened porch. Momcat showed up and I fed them and pet them as usual. Usually I leave when they are still eating but that day I lingered pulling a few weeds in the back, checking on the progress of the two peach trees, doing a little repair on the screened porch and then went around to the front of the house to pull a few more weeds and Momcat and the kittens followed me. Now they have followed me around to the front on a few other occasions but Wednesday when I finally left to go home all four followed me across the street. First Momcat and Lovey while Handsome Boy and Twin sat in the drive and watched and then they too crossed over. I went inside. Later I was sitting on the little loveseat next to the window FaceTiming Jade when I looked over at the window that has textured glass in the bottom pane to see the silhouette of a little cat head peering in. When I stood up to look through the clear pane on top, there was Lovey. I guess he had heard my voice. Later still the three were in the front yard but when Marc opened the door they all scooted back across the street.

Walking around the yard Tuesday morning I had a surprise, one lone yellow flag iris in the front under the big chinese fringe flower tree that I didn’t even know was there, at least I don’t remember ever seeing it before.

Flowers are blooming all over the place. This is the empty pasture behind us with indian paintbrush. It looks better in person than this picture. 

There’s an expanse of empty land heading south on business 59 after you cross the bridge over the Colorado River and before it joins up with the highway that I wish I could get a picture of. It’s a solid mosaic of yellow creeping buttercup, pink evening primrose, blue bluebonnets, and red/orange indian paintbrush but there is no place besides the narrow shoulder to pull over for a photo.

The red tip photonia is blooming

and zinnias over at my sister’s old house from seeds I threw in there months ago that I found in her refrigerator which reminds me I need to throw out mine. Today would be a good day.

And the mock orange/dogwood is blooming very early, by a month at least.

As mentioned in my past post, we got 4” of rain last Friday into Saturday. Wednesday night/early Thursday morning it started raining again and rained and rained and rained finally slowly petering out around 1:30 Thursday afternoon. I checked the rain gauge…4 1/4”.  So, 8 1/4” in seven days. I had standing water in the usual low places and the ditch was about half full and running well but the drainage at the other end of the street is terrible. It’s supposed to drain from that end down to my end but somewhere halfway a culvert is collapsed or clogged or something and it backs up. This is Rocky’s front yard and the house on the other side of the street fared barely better. 

Complaining to the county commissioner does not produce results. They claimed they were going to regrade the ditches on both sides two years ago but all they did was scoop out a bucket load on each end of every culvert which did nothing to improve the drainage. I’m just glad I live at my end of the street where the ditches are deeper and unobstructed.

Well, this is already too long so I’ll leave my tirade against our governor and AG for later.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

lazy days with rain

Between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we got 3 1/2” of rain accompanied by lightning and thunder. Saturday night another 1/2”. Consequently I got very little sleep the last two nights what with the trembling panting constantly on the move dog as she shifted from side to side of me. For hours. This morning it looked to be clearing but quickly clouded over, dark and dismal, listening to the distant thunder all morning. It’s closer now, thunder louder and a flash or two of lightning but still no rain. Neurotic dog stuck to me like glue, wants to sit in my lap facing me. At least it’s not the middle of the night. Oh, raining lightly now. 

I didn’t actually get out in the yard Friday like I planned besides pulling a few weeds and the only thing I accomplished yesterday was running a few errands and cutting away the second third of the dead rangoon creeper off the fence across the street. Doubt I’ll get anything accomplished today either, indoors or out. Certainly not out, too wet to do anything out. There is so much I could do in the house but...meh.

I finally finished the book Jade gave me to read which took freaking forever because it didn’t appeal to me all that much, all 260 pages of a monologue by an older woman recounting her late childhood and early adulthood from which home and life she left without a backward glance or word to anyone, painting herself as an unappealing character with pretend interactions and conversations and sexual obsessions and when she finally gets to when she leaves, that’s the end of the book. Maybe I’ll start one of the books I got at the library yesterday or maybe we’ll watch the next episode of Shogun. 

Tomorrow I grab up the last wildling, Twin, for his appointment at the vet on Tuesday. I’m still not sure how I want to go about it as he will only let me pet him while he eats as he is facing me. Doesn’t let me approach from behind and while I have managed to pick him up several times, it’s only for half a minute while he struggles so I don’t know if I can get hold of him long enough to shove him in the carrier. The other option is putting the other two kittens in the shed and baiting the live trap with food and see if he goes in after it. And then what, take him to the vet in the live trap? So we’ll see how this all works out.

This is the far back of the big backyard, behind all the flowerbeds and banana trees (which you can’t see because they are only about a foot or two tall so far), a nice thick patch of evening primrose. Behind me is a large area of just thick weeds...cleaver, clover, and another thing I don’t know what it is but it makes tiny flowers and seeds that stick to you...and hay grass and off to the right of that are some bluebonnets. This area is really part of the big pasture behind our lot, behind all the houses on our side of the street, but we have incorporated it into our yard for the wildflowers because our back is not fenced like most the other houses on the street. It will eventually all get mowed down after it goes to seed.

My flag iris are starting to bloom, white in the front

and blue in the back.

The purple japanese iris is sending up it’s bloom scapes but none have opened yet.

As it turned out, we watched the next three episodes of Shogun on Hulu and are now caught up with the subsequent episodes being released on Tuesdays. It’s based on the book by James Clavell which I read long ago when it came out. It’s very good so if you’re looking for something to watch I recommend it.

Friday, March 15, 2024

sharing, cats, and wildflowers

baby blue eyes

Yesterday was a food delivery day at SHARE. I got there after it was all unloaded, truck gone, things beginning to be put away. This is what it looked like in the back storeroom.

We also got four more of the big cartons of household goods at $7.50 a carton. Here’s two of them. There was even a small sewing machine in one of them. 

We were moderately busy with food orders. This month the food bank delivered cartons of bags of the little mandarin oranges called ‘cuties’ and bags of apples. Last month we got boxes of bags of frozen strawberries. Walmart sends us marked down/sell by vegetable and salad stuff, meat, and bakery goods every week, the dollar stores give us their milk, yogurt, lunch meat, etc that has hit its sell by date.

The other thing we got from the regional food bank yesterday was two boxes of unpackaged frozen solid in one big lump of cornish hens. At least 30 hens per box, maybe more. Like the boxes of unpackaged frozen little sausages they sent us a while ago, we cannot give them away even if they weren’t all frozen together and we bagged them up because we don’t have whatever permit that would require. We sent one box to Victory In Jesus, a christian rehabilitation residence and Gary and I, toward the end of the day when the second box was still just frozen solid, put the big plastic bag in the stainless steel sink, Gary running cold water over it all and slowly separating the hens while I bagged them up two to a bag and stuck them in the freezer (they were still frozen, just a little thawed on the outside). As I said, we can’t give them out so they are there for the volunteers to take.

It’s supposed to get up to 80 today and then will cool off a bit for the next week. The indian paintbrush is coming into full bloom and pastures are filled with the little yellow wild ranunculus, creeping buttercup.

My grandgirl Robin, who already has three indoor cats she’s taking care of, her cat Noodle and the Boys, plans to adopt the wildlings and so she is starting to join me in feeding them in the afternoons so that they get used to her presence and touch. She had all three of them at her feet yesterday while she sat on the threshold of the shed putting down small handfuls of food while she pet them and even managed to pick up Handsome Boy for a minute or two while I sat farther away and watched. I’m not sure they’ll take to being indoor cats so she may have to let them come and go as they please. Our best guess is that they are about 9 months old.

family portrait

My only obligation today is dinner so I’m going to work in one of the flower beds weeding and soil remediation since I’m not getting a good return on the stuff that usually grows in there, the love-in-a-mist, larkspur, and orange cosmos