Sunday, April 28, 2024

photo dump

Two of the wildlings, Twin and Handsome Boy cuddled up together.

The walking iris is blooming. It’s so pot bound I intended to split it up and repot it before now but the road to hell and all that.

Minnie’s shadow on the chair cushion.

The recipe for the roasted tomato sauce for those interested. It keeps longer in the freezer than the four months noted.

Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars chowing down on Pam’s pipe vines. The first round has hatched into butterflies but they don’t cooperate for a photo.

I got down in the ditch Friday and cut it again. I guess I’ll do this until it gets too hot and then I’ll give up and give in.

New cat in the yard though I’m pretty sure this one belongs to someone. Minnie treed it yesterday twice and I saw it at the back of the big backyard this morning but it ran into the Wild Space as I walked back there. 

First harvest of the spring garden.

Two views of the flower beds.

Finally getting some tomatoes. The plants are as tall as the cages and have been blooming but not setting fruit. Discussed it with neighbors and SHARE volunteers who said the same. I cut out a lot of the dense foliage in mine to open them up some because maybe they weren’t getting fertilized. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

just more grunt work in the yard and the peacock

clasping leaved coneflowers, the last of the spring wildflowers along with the queen anne’s lace, taking over from the spent evening primrose, at the back of the big backyard

Remember when I wrote on the 13th that I used the trimmer to cut the ditch in front of the shop yard that just 3 1/2 weeks prior my neighbor cut to the ground and had regrown about a foot? This is what it looked like Tuesday only 11 days later…at least four times the coverage and just as tall. I swear those grassy weeds grow 2” every day.

I got down in there Monday with the pump sprayer and doused those broad leafed weeds that send up the big stalks because they didn’t seem to be dying from being poisoned the first time after I cut the ditch and there were at least twice as many new ones.

My intention was to get down in there again yesterday and cut it while we are still having this cooler weather but once again I need gas for the trimmer and besides that I woke up with a stiff neck on the left side and an aching left shoulder and then I forgot Marc had an errand in the city so no ditch yesterday and it also turned out the cooler weather was already gone. Instead I hauled the full garden cart of broken downed branches from the storms over to the burn pile and then filled it up again, raked all the small sticks and leaves to the low spot on the west side of the house that Jade had brushed off the roof for me last time she was here, 

swept the concrete apron in front of the garage and barn while Marc was gone with the car, did some weeding, intended to dig the hole to sink the pot of one of the plumerias in its summer spot but too many fire ants which I then doused with diatomaceous earth. Fuckers (next day they still aren’t dead even though it says right on the bag it kills ants). 

Nothing much else to tell. Started setting up the sprinkler Monday and Tuesday because no rain in the forecast though that’s changed. Doesn’t mean we’ll get any. And the AC got repaired Monday after which we turned it off because we didn’t need it. Went to yoga last night and when Abby hadn’t shown up 5 minutes past class time I stepped up and led the class. Abby usually texts me when she can’t make it but it turned out she had just completely forgot preoccupied with some personal stuff. 

Lots of pictures piling up so maybe a photo dump next time. Til then here’s the local wandering peacock. He's looking much better than the last time I saw him so I guess he was molting back then.

Monday, April 22, 2024

no AC, tomato windfall, flowering things

Losing track of the days. Wednesday we went to Costco to stock up on some things but not until after I watered the gardens some, we need rain and it was so hot and humid I came in sweaty. Took a half hour to cool off enough to take a shower. Later in the day it was 80˚ in the house with 80% humidity…in the house! Marc turned on the AC set at 78˚, which is our summer setting, mostly to offset the humidity. An hour later it was 81˚ in the house, another hour 82˚, coming back from yoga at 6:30, 83˚. Well fuck. This unit is only a couple of years old and fortunately still under warranty. 

Thursday I wore shorts to SHARE for the first time transitioning from capris which transitioned from jeans. Marc called the AC guys and oh fun, the motherboard shorted out. Part ordered on Thursday but in all likelihood will be Wednesday before it’s repaired and functioning again. Fortunately, last night a front blew in with minimal rain, boo, but has cooled it off considerably, 57˚ outside when I got up this morning.

We got a lot of frozen packages of ground beef and fresh vegetables donated to SHARE last Thursday by the Wharton County Farm Bureau…carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, cabbages, beets and then Walmart sent over two huge boxes of tomatoes on the edge, some big ones but mostly romas, some firm enough but mostly just good for cooking. We gave out as much as we could but it was a slow day for food orders. I picked out 11 pounds of the firmest tomatoes to make tomato sauce and some sweet potatoes. Other volunteers took what they wanted and the rest went with Cora who said her horses would eat it.

So Saturday I made the first batch of tomato sauce using half the tomatoes. I slow roast them with garlic and olive oil and basil leaves, salt and pepper, until the tomatoes are soft, wrinkled and bursting and then put it in the blender and hit puree. I filled 8 - 1/4 pint jars and three vacuum sealed bags of one cup each. The second batch done yesterday yielded 6 vacuum sealed bags of 1 cup each.

I tied fishing line on each of the new crystals with which to hang them. So these newest ones with the three I still had not hung and the five I acquired previously gives me 16 to hang. I laid them out in the order in which to hang them, maybe.

Garden stuff…I planted a pot of morning glory bush up against the front of Pam’s house yesterday. It’s from cuttings I took in the fall of ’22 that never got planted anywhere. I wanted to plant it where I just did but Pam didn’t want it. I also have a pot of a volunteer confederate rose from the same year that never got planted anywhere. While both of mine came back after this winter, Pam’s did not so I’ll plant it over there too. Also at Pam’s her catalpa trees are blooming.

The pink angel trumpet is blooming, not quite as voluptuous as last year but sitting on the driveway it’s not getting quite as much sun and it is pot bound so I need to get a bigger pot for it, especially since the one it’s in is broken from being blown over.

There’s more but I’ll save it for the next post as this has gone on long enough.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

a surprise, wild berries, and a big score

I was working over at Pam’s house Sunday, finally sprayed the fence line with poison and in the ditch specifically the things that grow tall with thick stems, all done up in long pants, long sleeves, gloves, rubber boots, hat, and mask. I hate using poison but this is not the tame city. I refused to use poison for over a decade out here but I am defeated. There are things that will swallow you whole and take over an entire yard. I was joking with Joe the last time he came to mow the shop yard that the area was getting smaller and smaller with two of the four fences lines getting swallowed up. There are places along the back and east fences that are at least 12’ deep full of trash growth.

After I got done I got the long handled nippers and started pruning the wisteria back some to get it off the ground so to be able to mow down the weeds growing under there when I saw my daughter and Jade pull into my driveway. I hailed them from across the street. I brought you a surprise, my daughter says. So I put away the stuff and came back across the street and this was my surprise,

my great granddaughter Paisleigh who is about 2 1/2 now. 

Minnie was being such a good dog. 

Paisleigh and her Granny.

My grandson has been here all week working on some cars for his parents and also making some money at the auto shop where he used to work, things are slow in Arkansas apparently, and Audra and Paisley came in this weekend to get him and they are talking about moving back to Wharton.

I had noticed some ripe dewberries along the fence line when I was cutting down the new growth in the ditch so after they left I went and checked the patch at the end of the shop and came home with these.

And yesterday I picked another bowl full. Dewberry cobbler on the menu for tonight.

Jade was still here yesterday so we did a couple of the shops while waiting for some work to be done on her car. She bought some things at one and then we went to JT’s which is a ‘junktique’ but they have lots of old glass chandelier crystals so we rummaged through them to see if there was any I don’t already have and I came home with ten new ones.

and a new glass drawer pull, which as it turns out needs holes a bit bigger in the face of the drawer for me to be able to use it. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

ditch work, butchered tree, pho, and flowers

The plan was to get up early yesterday morning and get out there with the trimmer and do the ditch. Best laid plans and all that. I didn’t wake up, deep in dreams, until my pill alarm went off at 8:30. So it was after 11 before I got out there and oh yay, I needed gas for the trimmer. One more delay but I finally got going about noon. Did the longest half and started on the other half when the second tank of gas ran out and I was done. Two full tanks of gas in a row is about all I’m good for. Today I got out there a little after 11 and finished the other side and then since there was still plenty of gas in the trimmer I went around the edges of the flower beds and around the trees in the big back yard and omg why won’t this thing run dry! Finally, hot and sweaty, I came in a little before noon. I figure it takes about 45 minutes to use up a full tank of gas. It took a good 25 minutes under the fan on high before I cooled off enough to take a shower before we went out for lunch.

We found out there is a Vietnamese restaurant in Eagle Lake, a very small town, less than 3500 residents about 26 miles away so we decided to try it as we both like Vietnamese food and haven’t been to one since we moved out here where barbecue and Mexican food are about your only choices. There is a new Italian restaurant (the previous one closed) but we haven’t been there as Italian food isn’t high on our list. Anyway, the Vietnamese place is primarily a pho and fried rice menu with some beef and chicken dishes and the typical appetizers. I’ve had pho - basically a big bowl of broth filled with asian noodles and meat or shrimp with a side plate of bean sprouts, cilantro, and other green herbs that you add to your taste - once before and wasn’t all that wowed but I thought I’d try it again. It was decent but still not wowed so I doubt I’ll ever order pho again.

Friday it appeared the people who bought the house across the street were having the live oak in the front yard taken down, a mature gorgeous maybe even 70 year old tree. The previous residents would have a crew come in every year and do good tree work, trimming back the branches that were growing over the roof but keeping the shape of the canopy. The crew that showed up yesterday were cutting off/out whole limbs. It’s a shame and a sin and just downright heartbreaking and I imagine their electric bill is going to double at the very least. Why would anyone cut down a glorious shade tree when our summers here are climbing to triple digits for months. This is what it looked like this morning after they cut on that tree all day yesterday. 

OK, so I guess they aren’t cutting down the whole tree. The crew came back today to cut a little more out but mostly just cut up the stuff still on the ground from yesterday and hauled it all away. They seem to be gone for good but they butchered the fuck out of that tree, cutting any hope that even the tiniest branch had of maybe growing towards the roof, completely denuded bluntly cut limbs sticking out. Why they didn’t just take those naked limbs off completely I have no idea.

In the yard…the amaryllis are almost done but the byzantine gladioli are starting up.

I had three or four poppies come up this year, one of which was the multi frilly petaled one that looks like a pom-pom.

A shot of the back flower bed with tomatoes, squash, and potatoes in front; confederate rose, poppies, crinum lilies  and banana trees getting bigger behind that; and behind that clasping leaved coneflowers coming into bloom and waning evening primrose.

A nice clump of love-in-a-mist over at the other house.

There was a queen butterfly on the german verbena but the camera wouldn’t focus on it but I did get this good pic of a fritillary.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

the eclipse, a helping hand, and Sibling's Day

That horrible ditch my neighbor so kindly cleared for me 3 1/2 weeks ago has new weedy grass growth already a foot high but it’s sparse enough I can get in there and use the trimmer and I’ve been telling my self that as it gets higher and higher. Should have done it last weekend or the weekend before when it was only half that high.

The eclipse has come and gone. We were in the 95% range but it was overcast all day so I didn’t even look to see what time it was happening here which was about 1:30. I was sitting at my desk looking out at the overcast day and if I noticed it getting dimmer I guess I attributed it to the overcast getting denser. Later, walking the dog I chatted with two neighbors who came out and said they could see it, the light noticeably dimmed, crickets started up. It wasn’t a clear sky like other parts of Texas had but it cleared enough to see it. So I’m kicking myself in the butt for just assuming it wouldn’t be visible. I shall strive to live another 20 years to see the next one.

Yesterday my neighbor and her son in law came to the house in the morning, interrupting my morning routine, to help get my printer to talk to the new mac mini or vice versa as I haven’t been able to print anything since November. I don’t really print all that much, a recipe now and then, mailing labels, an occasional picture but it’s nice to be able to instead of sending whatever in a PDF for my neighbor to print out for me. After breakfast I did a little weeding in one of the flower beds, same as Monday, but when I came in I started sweating profusely, then it was time to do the week’s grocery shop and as the day wore on I felt less and less well. I didn’t feel sick, I just didn’t feel good suffering with some intestinal distress and a funky stomach and after lunch took a rare, for me, nap. Later, standing in the kitchen organizing my binder of recipes I broke out in a heavy sweat. What the fuck! Being Tuesday it was my night to fix dinner but all I managed was a big salad. 

I don’t know what the deal was but when I woke up today I felt fine. Didn’t sleep all that well because about midnight the rain they had been predicting for the last two days finally came, preceded by distant lightning and then as it got closer, thunder and finally high wind and rain. They were also predicting the possibility of tornadoes and I think one must have passed through here because when I was out running errands today I passed one big tree laying on the ground and another that was all broken and splintered and the ground here was littered with downed branches from small ones with green leaves attached to large ones 2” in diameter. The little dog was, of course, panting and shivering and in perpetual motion, hence the lack of sleep.

Last year my sister planted a peach tree, a magnolia tree, and gathered the seed heads from some queen anne’s lace growing in the ditch at the end of our street. We had both tried a couple of times to get it to grow in our gardens with zero success but this spring she has a magnificent stand of queen anne’s lace, 

just one of the things she will not see come to fruition just as her peach tree has baby peaches on it and I think her little magnolia tree will give at least a few blooms. 

I miss that woman. I heard on NPR coming back from yoga that today is Sibling’s Day. And so here is the last picture that will ever be taken of the three of us, taken last fall.


Monday, April 8, 2024

delving into the underbelly

image via the internet. overcast here and not dark at all just out of the totality path.

How is it that in this day and time people still harbor superstitious nonsense about the mechanics of the solar system, about something that happens with regularity and can be predicted to the minute, a 30 minute event, the eclipse of the sun, whose totality lasts all of about four minutes?

The wackos are out predicting doomsday and retribution. Governor Sanders of Arkansas declared a state of emergency yesterday that will last until Wednesday to mobilize producers and deliverers of essential goods because the sky will dim briefly today. Another group tells us to be ready for the Rapture. Marjorie Taylor Green warns us that her big daddy in the sky is sending strong messages via earthquakes and eclipses telling America to repent! Her boyfriend goes even further claiming this may be the last normal weekend because who knows what this ‘very rare’ eclipse will bring (newsflash, solar eclipses are not rare and happen with predictable regularity) and that next is the plague of locusts that will attack mankind (he’s referring to the 13 and 17 year cycle broods of cicadas that will hatch this year and, no, they will not be attacking humans and no, cicadas aren't locusts). Alex Jones has gone off the deep end claiming that all kinds of rituals are going to be performed by Masonic, Esoteric, Satanic, Brotherhood of the Snake, and other Occult groups to usher in the New World Order! (Thanks to Jeff Tiedrich for this compilation).

And then on the way to the vet with Minnie for a wellness check NPR was interviewing a woman about christian nationalism and evangelicals and their plan for forcing a repressive theocracy on the US. Fun stuff.

And the Vatican has released a doctrine statement defining gender affirming care, gender theory, and surrogacy as violations of human dignity when it is in fact these religious doctrines that violate human dignity, that proclaim a way of being they don’t like or try to understand to be sinful and deserving of repression and violence. I suppose all those child rapers and molesters in the Catholic clergy weren’t violating the human dignity of their victims.

And then there’s this…House Intelligence Committee chair says Russian propaganda has spread through the GOP. Ya think?

And here’s a big surprise…not. Trump is lying (hard to believe I know), now that it has occurred to him it might be a big issue in November saying he believes the abortion issue should be left to the states after he foolishly admitted supporting a national ban if reelected and bragging about ending RvW. 


Saturday, April 6, 2024

puttering, flowers, and alone time

Kind of a slow day at SHARE last Thursday. Most first Thursdays of the month usually are and we figure that’s because people got their government assistance. Even so we managed to pass on most the perishable food stuff and milk and a lot of the bakery goods which is all ‘sell by’ or marked down donations from Walmart and the area dollar stores that comes in in the morning. Those that did come in for food got a lot of extra stuff. What doesn’t get given out or we have no room in the freezers, volunteers can take for themselves or to give to others. I generally take left over stuff that won’t keep til next week to a family on the street.

Thursdays are always a busy day for me but this past one was especially so. Besides my usual routine I got another roll of the super strong black gorilla tape to re-do the black formed plastic shield under the engine compartment of the car. Marc had run into one of the concrete barriers at the ends of parking spaces and tore it up so that part was hanging down and dragging on the road surface which I did not know until I drove to El Campo that evening for yoga. I could hear a scraping sound so I pulled over once I was in El Campo and looked underneath and it was all bent and torn and shredded from being dragged for 13 miles. Later back at home I did my best to tape it all back together and to the surrounding frame. 

Since Marc was leaving on Friday for Dallas, a 5+ hour long drive and with the wear and tear and rain and dirt on my repair over the last year or so I wanted to redo it. So I did that. Then I wiped all the bird poop off the car and washed all the windows inside and out. 

This weekend is the Bar Mitzvah of our great nephew, Marc’s sister’s daughter’s son. All the family here was planning on going, as were the twins in Austin, so I opted to stay to feed my cat and dog, Robin’s cat and the boys, and the three wildlings. That was my excuse though I have other more personal reasons. So Friday morning Marc took off for Dallas giving me one full day, Saturday, and the lion’s share of Friday and Sunday to have the house to myself, some alone time (one of my personal reasons).

I puttered around in the yard yesterday, potted up some things, cut up some large branches, one that fell and others I cut off the native pecan in the back that were hanging so low they were almost touching the ground, did some watering over at the other house, fed all the cats, fixed myself a big salad for dinner. More of the same for today. 

Some of the day lilies are putting up bloom scapes but all the different varieties of amaryllis are blooming. 

And one new iris blooming over at Pam’s and some of these are coming home with me.