Friday, December 12, 2014

Scary Donald (and More!)

We recently bought a chainsaw, so Donald ordered some protective gear to wear while using it:

Donald in Chainsaw Gear

Luna wasn't too sure about that creepy helmet with the face shield...

Luna & "Scary" Donald

- - - - - 

I've sniffed out a few more stinkhorn mushrooms since the first one, but so far, it's not too bad.  Maybe we did a good job removing them last year, and this season won't be as stinky as feared!

- - - - - 

I'm not blogging here much, these days, as you may have noticed.
The more active blog, at the moment, is over here.  Be warned, it's mostly crafts-oriented.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


This morning, at approximately 10:20 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time), I smelled, located, and disposed of the first fully formed stinkhorn mushroom of the season. 

Now issuing BOLO for more of the same, in and around yard. 

This is not a test.  I repeat, THIS IS NOT A TEST.

All offending fungi should be approached and handled with utmost care and disposed of in a sealed garbage can.  Be aware that touching the stinkhorn with bare flesh is extremely unwise, unless you want to smell like a rotting carcass. 

(Happy Thanksgiving a day early, fellow Americans.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Garden Plans

The cool season is here!
Time to start putting garden plans into action...

-- Pulled a lot of weeds.  (Still a few spots in need of attention, though.)
-- Planted the daylilies grown from seed.  (But I think I may want to transplant a few to a different location...)  They may not bloom until the summer after next, but it's an investment in the future. ;o) I'm contemplating starting another batch of seeds, next spring, but maybe it's better to focus on something other than daylilies, this time.  Want to crowd new beds with as many hardy plants as possible.  Goal: Cottage garden aesthetic.  More plants, less sun-exposed mulch.
-- Started mulching.  (Started.  Five wheelbarrow loads of pine straw.  Not willing to estimate how many more I need to gather.)

-- Continue mulching.
-- Burn weeds, dead plants, branches on burn-pile.
-- Plant remaining potted plants.
-- Transplant five daylilies (from back of flower bed).
-- Transplant two roses (from too-shady spot in front of patio).
-- Transplant iris and ginger lily into new beds.
-- Check hydrangea.  If layered branch has rooted, cut and transplant.
-- Remove sago palm pups.  (What to do with them?? Anyone want some?)
-- Finish putting stones into circular bed.
-- Paint flower pots.
-- Paint obelisk.
-- Assemble and paint sun dial.
-- Re-paint ivy box. (Another coat should do the job.)
-- Deal with Water Hose Situation.
-- Trim back evergreen shrubs in foundation planting.
-- Take down a few small trees around the yard.
-- And more, but that's enough to think about for now!

Projects on the Horizon:
-- Put in gravel pathways.
-- Replace section of fence (and gate).
-- Place old pavers for new small back porch patio area.
-- Repaint patio cover.
-- Arbor for main gate. (Probably won't get to it this cool season.)
-- Fix spigot by kitchen window.  (Warm weather project?)
-- Make permanent step for kitchen door.  (Warmer weather?)
-- Fix loose pavers on patio.  (Find root of problem, this time.)

Also, I fully expect this winter to bring another round of assault from the "stinkshrooms" (stinkhorn mushrooms, a.k.a. Devil's perfume bottle, a.k.a. demonbreath, a.k.a. parfum de carcass-- ok, I made up all the "a.k.a."s, but trust me, they stink!).  I've recently come across the tell-tale white mycelium (and in some cases even teensy tiny little "mushroom balls") in the pots of young daylilies and in at least one flower bed. They're gearing up.  It's only a matter of time.  I've removed the ones I've found, to the best of my ability, but I'm sure tiny bits got left behind-- and that's only the ones I happen to have found.  *sigh*  I guess the only thing to do is to steel myself for battle.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This Post Won't Matter in Five Months

Actually, this won't matter in five minutes.  But I'm gonna write about it anyway!  ;o)

Reactions to other people's reactions to "The News":

"Americans are so dumb!  NEWSFLASH: You're not going to die of Ebola! Stop panicking!!"
We know that.  Being interested in developments in the Ebola story is not the same as panicking.  It's only reasonable that people want to know what's happening-- including our country's plan for dealing with it.  Also, the cute comparisons of Ebola and the flu are everywhere.  We've seen them all, now.  You're not impressing anyone, so you can stop. 

"How come people only care about Ebola now that it's in the U.S.?  (Racists...)"
Of course people will pay more attention to a very deadly disease when it is in their own country than when it's contained to an entirely different continent.  That doesn't mean we don't care about the people in other places who are dealing with it-- but come on.  Are you really this dense-- or are you lying to yourself?

"People need to shut up about Renée Zellwegger's face!  Why can't you let women age in peace?!  This is all YOUR FAULT, Western society!!"
Does it "really matter"?  No.  Is R.Z. free to do whatever she wants to her own face?  Obviously.  But she's a famous actress, and as such, she's opened herself up to comment.  That said, few are saying that she's unattractive, now-- or even that she looks much older. ("Ewww!  She's not in her 20s anymore.  That's so gross!")  People are simply shocked that she doesn't look like herself.  Her face has completely changed-- and like it or not, that's kind of odd.  Especially since in the photos I've seen from just a year or so ago, she still looked very young.  It's just... strange for a woman (in this case, one who was known for a certain very distinctive look) to want to change her facial structure so drastically that she's no longer recognizable.  Maybe she had medical reasons for doing so.  Whatever her reasons, it's her right to make whatever changes she wanted-- but I'm not going to feel guilty for noticing and being confused by the transformation.  (I think it's sad that she no longer looks like herself.  She had an interesting face, and now that's gone.)

"Cis-gender this.  Cis-gender that."
(This one seems to have faded somewhat in the past couple of months.  For good, I hope.)
My only comment at the moment: UGH.  Go away-- and never come back.

"Slut shaming!  Plastic surgery shaming!"
Oh. My. Gosh.  Please!  Can this just stop?
I hadn't heard about "plastic surgery shaming" until today, but "slut shaming" has (sadly) been impossible to avoid for quite some time.

Believe it or not, I don't go around telling people that they should be ashamed of themselves for this, that, or the other.  It's not my place, I'm not that confrontational, and I don't want people telling me about the things I should be ashamed of.  (I am already aware of more than a few of them, thank you very much.)  However, I can't help but think that this "slut shaming" crap is a glaring example of the recent trend of thinking that no-one should be judged/shamed/blamed/held accountable for anything, ever.  (Unless they're accused of racism... or are politically or socially conservative...)  How dare you presume?!  You don't know me!  You don't know my life!

Judge not, lest ye be judged?  Yes, I know.  But I think most of us need to feel at least a little afraid of-- or at least worried about-- being "judged" by our fellow man (or God).  It's that bit of incentivizing kick-in-the-rear that keeps you from sliding into worse trouble.

But no.  You can't have people feeling ashamed of bad behavior.  You might hurt someone's feelings-- and you're no better than anyone else, anyway.  We're all just relatively intelligent animals in clothes, right?  Or-- wait... Maybe we're (mortal) gods, now?  I can't keep up... It gets confusing, sometimes.

...So... Is "slob shaming" a thing, yet?  'Cause that could save me a ton of housework...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Butterfly Eggs

We've seen a steady stream of butterflies-- bright orange Gulf fritillary butterflies-- visiting our passion flower vine.

I found a webpage full of helpful information on the subject of these "passion butterflies".  We went out to watch the butterflies (and verify if what I'd read was true), and sure enough, they do lay eggs on the ends of the tendrils!  They go from tendril to tendril, looking for the perfect spot.  If there's already an egg there, they move on to the next tendril. 

There are tons of eggs on that plant, now...

Gulf Fritillary Egg

The Spanish lavender (pinata lavender) is still going strong. After reading that it doesn't like heat and humidity, I wasn't sure how well it would last, but it's flourishing. I've really enjoyed it, this year, and am hopeful that it will survive overwintering in the garage. I plan to try rooting some cuttings, but I don't usually have luck with cuttings...

Spanish Lavender

The white clematis vines are giving us another flush of blooms. :o)


And the roses are blooming...

Pink Roses

The Knock-Out roses really are knock-outs. Bloom after bloom, month after month. (No photos of those, this time...)

Now that the cool weather is finally here (after cruelly teasing us, then deserting us again), we've been trying to get a few things done outdoors.

I've been pulling weeds.  SO MANY WEEDS.  Piles and piles of them.  How did they grow so quickly?!  Particularly the aptly-named gripeweed (a.k.a. chamberbitter, stonebreaker, mimosa weed, Phyllanthus urinaria).  Ugh, that weed.  It's awful and I hate it.  Supposedly, it has all sorts of herbal/medicinal uses, and I've read that it's expensive to buy.  Ha!  If anyone wants some, please, come help yourself. ;o)

Then over the weekend, we took out a rotted fence post and put down a new one, which involved clearing some overgrown grass and pulling/attaching the fencing material.

Also, we started work on the round "stone bed" over the septic tank.  Took out the stones (as many as possible), put down old asphalt shingles to serve as a barrier, and put the stones back on top.  (Lesson: Stones work their way into soil with alarming speed, without some type of barrier in place.  Or at least these did.)  We still need more stones to finish the job, but it's much better already.

So much more to do!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Ebola Scare" in Mobile

So, this evening there was an "Ebola scare" in Mobile, i.e. just across the bay, i.e. way too close for comfort.

It turned out NOT to be Ebola (thank goodness).  Just an abundance of caution and a little confusion due to a language barrier, apparently.  Better safe than sorry, as they say-- though you have to wonder, with all these false alarms across the country (and around the world), at what point people will begin to let their guard down. With something this deadly, I hope that won't be an issue, but human nature being what it is...

Even though it seemed likely from the beginning that this case would be ruled out, it was still a bit of a shock to think that It could be so close to home-- and yet, why not?  Of course it could show up practically anywhere, in theory.  Not at all likely, no, but still well within the realm of possibility.

...Gee, I sure am glad we've decided not to restrict travel from West Africa!  Makes so much sense...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Swedish Politics

If anyone's interested in the current state of the Swedish political scene, Donald sent me this link today:

"Sweden: the new Donald Duck government"

Just one highlight (of many):
Sweden's newly appointed Minister for the Interior, Ardalan Shekarabi, was an illegal immigrant from Iran.  He stayed hidden in the country until a government was elected that would grant him amnesty.  He was convicted of embezzlement from a political youth organization-- and this year the Swedish government has accused him of cheating on his income taxes. 

What a wonderful, upstanding citizen!

Okra? Marijuana? Same Difference!

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) – A Georgia man says drug suppression officers mistook his okra plants for marijuana.

Dwayne Perry of Cartersville tells WSB-TV that he was awakened by a helicopter flying low over his house Wednesday and then some heavily-armed deputies and a K-9 unit showed up at his door. They were from the Governor’s Task Force for drug suppression and they were out looking for marijuana plants.

What they had seen, apparently, were Perry’s okra plants and a shrub at the end of his house.
Perry says the officers ended up apologizing to him.

Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes says the plants did have characteristics similar to marijuana.

Perry says people keep asking him about the officers at his house, and he worries that his reputation has been damaged.

...That's just embarrassing-- for the deputies.

My okra didn't do much this year.  Maybe I'll try again next summer.

What with that and the cleome I plan on growing from seed, I'll be at the top of the Most Wanted list...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Luna, Destroyer of Toys

Luna & Toys

I was looking through some photos this morning and came across this one-- then realized that Luna has since sent all of these three toys to the garbage can.

She ate off the feet and one of the ears of the yellow one.  (Garbage can.)

She dislodged the squeaker from the pink one, but we kept it around.  It could still make a very pathetic, wheezy squeak, poor thing.  But then she tore off one of his feet.  (Garbage can.)

The blue one hung on.  Sure, it had some punctures from her puppy-teeth days.  It didn't squeak with quite the same force as in its happier, pre-Luna days, but it was a tough toy.  It could take the abuse. Until she ripped open one of its "bobbles" and proceeded to eat part of it.  (Excuse me, but there's someonething I'd like to introduce you to-- GARBAGE CAN.)

Oh! and she also tore (and tried to eat) part of a squeaker from a soft, fabric skunk toy (not pictured).  I rescued the squeaker bit just in time, and I think it can be repaired.  At least I'll try...

(I should note that all of this carnage happened when she was out of her crate, playing in the house "under supervision".  Yeah, if you're supervising Luna, you're not allowed to turn your back on her for a few minutes at a time, happily imagining that she's playing safely and sweetly...)

So now she's destroyed pretty much every squeaky toy she had.  There's one more that doesn't squeak unless two strong human hands work together (with great determination) to elicit a squeak-- and even that one's on his last leg.  Now she's reduced to hard, rubber jingly balls and Nylabones and KONG toys... and a couple of other rubbery balls that she scorns, for some reason.  There's a really fun, new squeaky toy hiding out of reach, but for now, it's not for the likes of her

How many more months before she's calm enough to not ruin most dog toys?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Graham Creek Nature Preserve

We took advantage of the nice weather to go see Graham Creek Nature Preserve (in Foley) for the first time.  (Click through the slideshow above, if you'd like to see the rest of my photos.  Donald took some, too, but we haven't processed those, yet.)

Our verdict:
It's not spectacular-- no stunning waterfalls or other breathtaking views--  but it offers a nice little nature hike.  Also, it's still under development, so it should get only better with time. 

We took the 3-mile walking/cross country trail, and that was enough to remind us that it still gets warm in the middle of the day in September-- just enough to work up a good appetite for lunch.  There are a few "open-air" picnic tables, and there are probably more under the pavilion, but we didn't look.  (There were already cars parked there.)  The picnic area was a quiet, peaceful spot in the shade.  Of course, this was a Friday morning in early fall; it might be less quiet and peaceful on summer weekends.  ;o) 

Oh, and before I forget, the trail we took was very easy.  There was one wet spot near the beginning, but other than that, nothing remotely difficult.  Very level.  Wide pathway.  Mostly shaded (but that depends on the time of day, of course).  Grass cut short.  The grass was a little taller in the parts of the trail that skirt around the open field, but not terrible. 

A good part of the trail involves walking around the edge of that huge field.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that choice.  It seems a little boring-- but on the other hand, you have a view instead of being closed in on all sides by pine trees (as you are for a short portion of the trail).  Upon reflection, I think it provides some interesting variety from the typical "forest hike".

In addition to the walking/hiking trails, there's a 7.5-mile bicycling trail, lots of streams for canoeing/kayaking, a (developing) frisbee golf course, a small play area for children (also looks to be developing), a large open field (or two) ideal for kite-flying, and a very nice "bog" landscape where there were many pitcher plants growing. 

(Sidenote:  If you're interested in seeing pitcher plants in our area, I'd recommend the Graham Creek Nature Preserve over Tarkiln Bayou.  Maybe we've just had bad luck/bad timing with Tarkiln, but they never seem to have nearly as many pitcher plants as this place did-- and here, instead of being on a railed boardwalk, you're right on level with them, which is nice if you want to get a closer look or take photos.)

The preserve is open from dawn until dusk-- but someone had a little pop-up tent set up, so I guess that camping is allowed.  (Not sure...) 

There's no entrance fee (yet).  

It looked like they had fairly nice restroom facilities, but we didn't check them out.  Still, nice to know they're available!

We saw a couple groups of people working while we were there-- one building something (no idea what) near the entrance and another setting up obstacles for a special running event that's coming up soon.  (The "Creek Crawl".  Click "Events" on the page linked above for more info.)  Not long ago, they had another run-- something about zombies, where volunteers dressed as zombies tried to tag the runners.  (No thanks, but can you imagine the adrenaline rush of running from someone?  ...Knowing that they're not actually going to hurt you would keep it from being a nightmare, but being chased/grabbed at would still kick those legs into gear.)

I'm interested to see how the preserve grows and changes.  We could use more places like it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deer Me! Is Autumn Finally Here?!

A couple of afternoons ago, smack dab in the middle of the very broadest daylight, I happened to glance out a window onto our backyard and see-- a deer.  Inside our fenced yard!

Donald grabbed the camera and snapped some photos:

Deer in Our Backyard!

Deer in Our Backyard!

As deer go, this wasn't a very large one, I guess, but still! Right in our backyard in the middle of the afternoon.  What a surprise!

Once Donald had taken his photos, I picked up Luna and held her to the window. Nothing wrong with her eyes, at least. She saw the deer immediately and set off the alarm of growling and barking.

- - - - - - -

Today, we're enjoying our first real taste of fall weather.  It's so nice.  The windows are open and I ventured out with the camera.

Remember the daylily seeds we planted earlier this year?  Those tiny little things growing in yogurt cups?  Most of them are getting to a decent size for young plants. Here are some of the pots:

Juvenile Daylilies  ;o)

The English ivy has been growing, too. It feels like it's growing slowly, but then again, I'm not sure how quickly ivy in the shade usually grows. In any case, it's progressing:

Ivy Trellis Progress

Here's another angle, showing that there's still plenty of territory for it to conquer (and also that the box it's in needs another coat of paint):

Ivy Trellis Progress

By way of contrast, here's the passionflower vine, which has gotten huge this summer:

Passionflower Progress

No flowers at the moment, but it did a good job earlier in the season, and it's been attracting Gulf fritillary butterflies, a species that depends on passionflower for part of its life-cycle.  



Autumn's arrival always reminds me that it won't be long before the spiders take over...


A smiling Trixie...


And a smiling Luna...



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Goodbye, Molly

Goodbye, sweet little Molly-dog.  Thank you for all the laughter and happy memories. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Major Pet Peeve: Just Report It!

Dear local weathermen/women, anchors, etc.:

I know you're trying to put a personal touch on things, but please, just report the weather.  Don't feel the need to subjectively judge every weather forecast.

I'm so tired of hearing that, hey, it's great news!  No rain for a week!  And oh boy!  Isn't it wonderful that the rain we were expecting today has shifted toward the west, so we'll only get scattered showers?!  YAY!

Everyone hates rain, right?  So everyone will be happy happy happy that there's no rain!

Um, no.
I wanted that rain.  My plants needed that rain.  I don't particularly care if it's scheduled to fall on a holiday weekend; I wanted my darn rain!!  We've been waiting a long time for it, and I'm tired of watering plants with the garden hose.

A little thing, I know, but it's grating on my nerves.

Could they just stop assuming that everyone hates the rain as much as they apparently do?

Oh, and when winter's rolling around, y'all can just not even start complaining about the cold weather, okay?  Some of us have been praying for it to finally get back below 80 in the daytime. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

Garden Notes

Annual Flower Performance Notes:

--Cosmos:  Merely "okay".  Not my favorites, because they looked so skimpy next to the zinnias.  But possibly they didn't get a fair try, sown so late in the season, in a really poor soil.

--Sunflowers (Russian Giant):  Meh.  They weren't so giant as I'd hoped.  Also not so pretty, but maybe a mix of sunflowers (in a better spot) might be fun to try next year.

--Zinnias:  WOW.  More Zinnias, please!  Many, many more.  I loved them!

--Coleus: The ones in pots on the patio and right in front of the patio did best, this year.  They're still looking pretty good.

--Impatiens: They did better in the soil directly in front of the patio, but most of them aren't looking so hot anymore.  (Something ate them, I think.)

--Begonias: also under attack.  (Slugs? I don't know!)  They're still hanging on, but no longer looking so happy and pretty.

--Marigolds:  Plant more next year. Hardy and pretty. They grow easily from seed, so save some money that way.

--Polka-Dot Plant / Freckle-Face:  Next year, I'd probably stay away from these.  Some of them are still doing okay, but they seemed kind of finicky.  Leggy and needing pruning, but then not bouncing back quickly.  Too much sun fries them, too little makes them leggy and takes away the pretty leaf color.

--Cleome:  More, more, more!  Mine got a little sad about the middle of summer, this year, though... Not sure why.  Plant in the back of the bed to hide their ugly legs. ;o)  There are lots of varieties around, apparently.  Not sure how much the seeds would be for these different types, but could be fun to try, if available.

--Verbena:  Didn't last long.  Probably planted it later than optimal. Also it was over-run by weeds.  There's still a sprig of it hanging on, poor thing, but no blooms for a long time.

--Pineapple Sage:  Meh.  It bloomed earlier, but then I pruned it a little (as I read you should to keep it compact), and it hasn't done much since.  The leaves smell nice (like pineapple), but where ours is planted, I rarely touch it (and you have to touch them to release the aroma).  Also, the leaves seem prone to scorching on the tips.  Not a favorite.  Probably won't bother next year.  

--Lobelia:  It reseeded itself, so we overwintered it in the garage.  It's still not so full and lovely as it looks in some photos, but I'm impressed that it's doing as well as it has, since it doesn't like the heat.  It might be worth growing from seed again, sometime. 

--Vinca:  Some of them are doing well.  The one (or two) that didn't were facing poor odds.  Need to plant early and keep the weeds down.  Oh, and make sure they're watered well enough during establishment period. 

. . . . . . .

Other Plant Performance Notes:

Passionflower:  Gorgeous!  Took over the whole trellis and looks like it's been there forever.  (Need to take a photo...)  I hope it is as cold-hardy as they say.  I'd love to have some of the other colors/varieties of passionflower, but those aren't quite so hardy.

Spanish Lavender:  I can't believe how well it's doing!  Not only has it survived the heat and humidity, it has actually grown.  Still putting out new blooms.  The tight pot was the way to go.  I'll need to research this one again.  Can't recall if it might survive the winter if taken into the garage... Couldn't hurt to try... This lavender doesn't have the same soothing, calming lavender smell of "real" lavender-- it's spicier-- but it's still a pretty little plant. 

Lantana:  Doing ok, but not growing so much as I hoped.  Not a big deal.  It should come back next year, I think. 

Daisy Gardenia:  It put out a few new blooms just recently!  I didn't know it might rebloom!  Now, the second bloom wasn't anything to write home about, but still, I'm impressed.

Crepe Myrtles:  The white ones at the back of the yard have been beautiful this year.  Blooming more/longer than usual.  The bark peeled off earlier in the season, and it's the deepest, most gorgeous cinnamon color right now.  Really striking.  I hope this is a sign that they have "come into their own" and not some "perfect weather" fluke.

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus Tree):  Blooming forever this year.  Tons of flowers.  Would be interested in getting more of these, if I can find good spots... They do attract flying insects (bees, dirt daubers) and small ants, though.  Hard to get a decent photo of a bloom, because there are so many insects crowding around. ;o) Best viewed from a distance, maybe?

. . . . . . .

I think every perennial and shrub we planted (in the flower garden) this spring has done pretty well.

The new roses are growing-- especially the one Mom gave us that was so small to begin with.  (It's caught up to the others already, I think.)

The ivy is slowly growing.

The night-blooming jasmine was covered in blooms, recently.  (Donald still likes it; I still don't really care for it-- but am rarely in a position to smell it, anyway.) 

Our new daylilies seem to have made the transition.  The baby daylilies in pots are doing pretty well.  Some of the first batch are really putting on some size.  They may bloom next year-- but sometimes daylilies grown from seed don't bloom until the third year.  Wait and we shall see. (g)

The viburnum has grown a lot, I think.  (Hard to tell, it happens so slowly.)

. . . . . . .

I'm making big gardening/hardscaping plans for the autumn and winter.  To do even half of the things on the list, we'll have to be dedicated to the cause. ;o) (Some of it I can do alone, but other things will require Donald's help and in-put.)  I'm looking forward to it, though! 

It's mid-August.  In about a month we'll have guests for a little while (so I have some motivation to get into gear and do a few things in preparation indoors, if not out).  In a month and a half it will be OCTOBER-- one of the best months of the year.  Can't wait!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Way to Go, Man...

"We tortured some folks"? 

Really?  Really?
...What an unbelievable idiot.  ("Idiot", by the way, is the generous interpretation.  The only other way I can see to view it makes him something much, much worse.)

Well, happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Update (No Photos)

I've been neglecting the garden/yard for a while, now.  The weather this time of year... I just can't muster the will to get out there.  It's miserable.  If I made myself put on mosquito repellant and get out there very early, I could do a little every day... But I don't care enough, to tell the truth.  Maybe next year?  Maybe if the yard as a whole was in better condition?  (And if we/I do some of the things on The List this autumn and winter, it should be better.) 

...So, an update.  I can't remember what all I mentioned in the last update, and I'm too lazy to go back and read it.  (Laaaaaazy.)

The food garden is pretty much DONE for the year.  I just picked four more bell peppers today, and there may be more, if the plants keep going.  The green (bunching) onions and chives are still fine, too, but the tomatoes are pretty much all done, and nothing else has hung on this long.  Something got some of them.  Other things (tomatoes) probably needed better care from us.  Cost-wise, the tomatoes were still a success, but it sounds like you can get your tomatoes to live longer into the summer (in our climate) if you "baby" them a bit more-- watering, fertilizing.  I've read about other people (no idea where they live) putting in two plantings of tomatoes.  One for early harvest, another to ripen later. 

We're planning to move our raised beds somewhere behind the garage, this winter.  That is, if we discuss it and decide we want to put in the work.  (We probably will.  You forget how miserable July is when you're a couple of months away from it.)  Maybe we'll install some soaker hoses, this time.  In any case, I think that having the beds inside the yard will keep more attention on them.  Less effort to water.  Easy to pull weeds when they're small or catch other problems, because we'll be walking past them every day, anyway. 

(The downside is that the dogs may pay more attention to them, too... We'll have to make sure Luna, in particular, doesn't dig it up and/or eat the produce before we can pick it.  She's made a habit of picking the cherry tomatoes from the two plants we grew inside the yard, this year.  Naughty, naughty dog!)

I just weeded and fertilized the pots of baby daylilies this morning.  (Taking advantage of an uncharacteristically pleasant morning with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60s and lower humidity.)  Most of them seem to be doing alright.  We may lose a few, but the bulk should make it through.  

Our morning glories this year have been one disappointment after another.  The first batch died after a late cold spell.  (Covering with plastic pots wasn't enough protection.)  The second batch (Grandpa Ott) were blooming early but never putting on much growth-- and then something ate through each and every one of them!  Whatever it was (rabbit?) didn't eat the whole plant-- just the part that connected the roots (in the pots) to the bulk of the plants (on the fence).  Frustrating! 

My cleomes are looking pretty weedy and sad, now, so I'll probably go out one morning and pull them up.  (I just want to let them drop as much seed as possible for next year.) 

The new roses are doing well (imho-- though someone who fertilized more often would probably have them looking even bigger and better), as are most of the other new plants.  The passionflower has filled in the trellis wonderfully, and even the ivy seems to be growing-- though more slowly.  I've been impressed that the lavender has hung on this long.  Through combined heat and humidity (which it apparently doesn't tolerate well), it's still lush and flowering regularly.  I think having it in a crowded pot really does help.

...Well, that's enough of an update for one day!

Friday, July 11, 2014

99 Days of Freedom

99 Days of Freedom, anyone? 

Of course, if you've been a regular visitor to this blog since the days back when I actually wrote about things other than gardening, you'll know that I've been "free" for much longer than 99 days.  (Well, free from the scourge of the FACEBOOK... Twitter newsfeeds, now that's another story...)

I doubt any of the FB users I know will participate in this 99-Days thing, to tell the truth.  I haven't even heard any of them commenting on the whole "controversial mood experiment" conducted by the creepy powers-that-be at FB.  If I were on FB, I'd probably have seen them forward (or whatever the proper terminology is) the story-- or "Like" it-- or comment on someone else's post to express their dismay-- and then I'd watch as they promptly forgot all about it and went back to their FBing as usual. 

...The thing is, I don't get the impression that people cared enough about the secretive "mood experiment" to do anything so drastic as quitting FB.  They find the site too rewarding, too ingrained a part of their daily lives.  Kind of like how I feel about my Twitter newsfeeds.  Every now and then I'll actually take a serious break from them, but it's rare.  Even if there are things I don't like about Twitter, it's part of my routine, and I find it useful and entertaining. 

Oh well...
I continue to wait for a true uprising against the tyranny of THE FACEBOOK... One day it will come... ;o)  (Probably only when/if FB is challenged by a snazzier, cooler, more invasive social network.  Of course, by then we may all be "cyborgs" with surgically implanted Google Glass-type do-dads...)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Pix (From Nearly a Year Ago)

I recently discovered a large file of digital photos taken in Sweden last year that I never processed or posted.  I'd forgotten all about them!

There are more to come, at some point, but here are the ones I've uploaded so far...

You can see most of them by arrowing back (to the left), but there are a few to the right in the photostream, too. Or if you'd rather, they're on our Flickr photostream page, too, of course. :o)

Garden Update & Floral Photos

It's been a while since the last garden update, for a few reasons.  One, I've been sidetracked by other things, such as the daylily seeds/seedlings.  Two, it's so hooooot and huuuuumid (in my whiniest voice) that I just don't want to be out there more than I have to, so the vegetable beds have been a little neglected.  Three, in addition to the weather, the failure of some of our plants has been discouraging, which has led to even more avoidance.

Broccoli, snow peas, cucumbers, and lettuce, I've already written about.  (Not the right time of year, etc.)  I pulled out the mesclun, because (we think) the hot weather turned it bitter.  (Either that, or we just don't care for its flavor.)

(More) Things That Aren't Doing Very Well:
-- okra (haven't moved them, yet; still think they need more sun...)
--  squash and zucchini (vine borer, I think)
--  Swiss chard (something's eating it, but never took off to begin with...)
--  radishes (at least, something's eating the leaves...)

Things That ARE Doing Well:
--  tomatoes (so far... the "Sweet 100" are producing a lot right now)
--  bell peppers (harvested several nice-sized peppers already; chopped & frozen)
--  chives (practically a no-care plant)

- - - - - - -

Next year, I'd like to try a different variety of squash I've been hearing and reading about.  They're supposed to be more resistant to vine borers, for one thing, but they also look and taste different, so it'd be interesting to give them a try.  I believe I'll have to order the seeds online, since they're not (yet) that commonly available, if I understand correctly.

We're considering moving the raised beds to a different location over the winter, too.  Inside the yard, this time, closer to the water source.  (Probably behind the garage.  Plenty of sun, out of sight most of the time, close to the spigot.)  I don't know if we'll actually carry through on that or not, but it's an option.

- - - - - - -

A few photos from last week...

The albino daylily seedling:

Albino Daylily Seedling

One of my favorite blooms from the hydrangea, this year... (I like the magenta and purplish flowers, too, but I sometimes wish our hydrangea would bloom in that classic blue.)


Cleome.  I didn't realize (or had forgotten) that they have thorns.  A rainstorm had the biggest cleome leaning over, and when I grabbed onto it to stake it back upright-- ouch!


Passionflower.  (Taken at sunset, as were all these photos...  I rarely go outside that time of day, during the summer.  Mosquitoes, meal prep, etc... I miss the twilight, though.)




Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes.  (They're so pretty, with their gradient from green to red.)

Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes

No photos of it (and it's not much to look at, anyway), but the night-blooming jasmine has begun to bloom.  There aren't tons of flowers, and I couldn't smell it from very far away, but when I took a strong sniff right up close-- phew.  I'm beginning to suspect I'm one of those people who don't care for the scent.  I'll give it more time.  Maybe it's better when diffused on a breeze-- and if it only blooms at night in the summer, I won't be in a position to smell it very often, anyway, most likely.  Donald thought it was alright, but my first impression was of cheap perfume.  Nowhere near as nice as gardenia, banana shrub, roses, or honeysuckle.  On the other hand, it's not as bad as privet, but that's not saying much, because I loathe that smell.  A bit disappointing, but there was no way to know without trying it.

ETA:  I've just read that in India, at least some varieties of night-blooming jasmine are thought to attract snakes.  Something about the plant releasing a chemical that is similar to a snake pheromone.  (Of course, also in India, there's currently a teenage boy, born with a short tail, who's being worshiped as a reincarnated monkey god or something, so...)  I'm pretty sure it's just an old wives' tale, but if I start finding snakes next to the plant, it'll be dug up and burned/put into the trash.  In record time!  ;o)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rant: Government Waste & Personal Responsibility

WKRG did it again!  They tweeted a FB link with the teaser, "Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?"  The link goes to a story with this headline:  "Free Lunches for Mobile Co. Students".  Ooooh, freeeeeee.  Wow-ee.  There really is such a thing as a free lunch, after all.  Cool, man.

...But then you start to wonder... Well, but who is paying for it?  Are the owners of the Food Factory-- you know, that place where all the food gets cranked out, day after day-- donating all these meals out of the goodness of their hearts?  (Nah, just kidding.  Most of these people never think that far.  They hear "free" and, hey, why question it?  Just stick your hand out and grin.  Well, or you can gripe, instead, if your Free Stuff isn't to your liking.) 

For the relatively few who bother to read the article, this is what they'll see:
MOBILE COUNTY, ALABAMA -      No need to pack lunch money for students in Mobile County this year. All students will eat lunch for free, and Mobile County is not picking up the tab. The money will come from a federal program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Mobile County Public School System qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision. This program enables schools with free meals if 75% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Parents will not have to fill out any paperwork for the free lunch. More than 59,000 students attend the 89 public schools in the Mobile County school system. According to the school system, they served 7.8 million lunches last year.

Reading the (FB) comments below the story is a (sadly, unsurprising) revelation of the kind of... ignorance?  stupidity? whatever-it-is that has put our country where it is today.

Some people, mysteriously, are not thrilled that their federal tax dollars are going to fund this program (among so many, many others).  (I agree, and I'll get into why, later.)

On the other side of the issue are the respondents (because I can guarantee you that not all of them are "readers", since they couldn't be bothered to read two paragraphs before throwing in their two cents) think it's wonderful news.  Free food!  For the children!  And no-one can complain, because the county isn't "picking up the tab"!

Then you have those who are annoyed with the complainers.  "Didn't y'all even read the story?  Gah!  It's free!"  Or to use one person's exact words: "Did any one read the article?!  Mobile county received a agriculture grant to pay for the free lunches... And what that means is that all mobile county school children will receive free lunch for this year."  Someone else replied, "So glad you pointed this out!!! It's a GRANT not costing the tax payers one dime and it's for one school year!!  These people are killing me."

...~sigh of soul-deep weariness~...

Ladies, where, exactly, do you think this magical "GRANT" money comes from, anyway?  Who, precisely, do you suppose funds grants provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hmm?  Here's your answer.  Take that first part-- "U.S."-- remove the "dots" (some might call them periods, but in this modern age...)... Now what does that leave you with?  "US".  Yep, us.  We're the ones paying for this.

You're welcome to have your own reaction to this news, but please, for the sake of my sanity, don't persist in this ridiculous notion that the lunches are, ooooh, miraculously FREE, and that the rest of us have no stake in the matter.  We do. 

There's another type of person commenting, too-- those who acknowledge that taxpayers are footing the bill, but think it's great that our tax money is going to this project instead of "War" or "Big Oil", as it surely would, otherwise.  (Yep, those are the three options: War-Making, Big Oil, or Feed the Children.)  Anyone who questions this spending is a bad, selfish, stingy, awful person-- the kind of person who lives to complain about welfare and delights at the thought of snatching food from the mouths of children.  How dare you call yourself a Christian, in fact?!

Well, if we weren't funding grants of this kind-- and others that, I'll admit, are even more infuriating, wasteful, and unnecessary-- we'd be paying less in taxes to begin with.   How about we get to keep more of our own money and spend it as we see fit?  Maybe more people would be able to feed their own kids, then.

Sidetrack:  Seriously, though, how much does it cost to pack a lunch for an elementary-aged kid?  They don't eat that much, at that age.  My parents paid for three kids' lunches-- and breakfasts, suppers, and snacks, too, of course-- all through our childhoods.  I usually brought lunch from home, and I was fine with that.  (Honestly, most of the time, I preferred the contents of my packed lunches to whatever the cafeteria was serving.)  Mom shopped carefully to stay within a budget.  My parents did what had to be done to ensure we were fed.  I'm sure that sometimes that meant they didn't get to do or buy things they'd have enjoyed, but they had a set of priorities.  Why, oh why, can't almost all other people do the same?

If you are truly needy-- elderly, infirm, beset with unpredictable problems, temporarily unable to provide for yourself-- I don't have a problem with our collectively providing you with the necessities.  I do expect that you be truly needy, though-- not wasting money on "wants" and then sticking your hand out when the cost of providing for those "wants" leaves you with too little to pay for "needs".  Also, whenever possible, I expect that you work toward getting off welfare.  It should be a stop-gap measure only. 

I will not be happy to provide for you if you look upon welfare as an entitlement.  I will not give cheerfully if you are careless and have more children than you can support-- often getting pregnant again when you supposedly can't feed the children you already have.  (I will be furious, actually, if you raise your brood of children to believe that this-- living on welfare-- is the way things are supposed to be-- that there's nothing better to strive for-- unless you're lucky enough to win the lottery or make it big in sports/entertainment.)  I will be angry if you're buying expensive luxury items with your welfare card.  (If we can make do with cheaper foods, by golly, you'd better be doing the same.  You make that money stretch or you give it back.) I will be really angry if you're scamming the system-- selling your welfare card to someone for cash, for instance.  That's theft, plain and simple, and I don't take kindly to being robbed.

Because I am unhappy about the current state of our welfare programs, I guess I'm just not Christian enough.  Oh well. ...Also, I guess I missed that Sunday School lesson that teaches you to keep giving and giving, without consideration to how it's being used.  Charity is part of Christianity, it's true, but charity should be tempered with common sense-- and if it's taken from you against your will, it's no longer really charity.  (It's not doing the recipients any long-term favors, either.  Living on welfare for too long makes you complacent-- takes away the will to work for something better.  If you grow up on the system, you may not even realize that there's another, better way to live.)

Lately, I find that charitable impulses wither in my heart.  It's hard to feel charitable when you see the waste-- the sense of entitlement.  It's not easy to feel like giving of your own volition when the government forces you (through taxes) to "donate" so much to causes and people you don't support.  ...I'm sorry, but if that makes me a bad person, I'm getting worse by the year!

P.S.  And to those who so kindly remark that anyone who has a problem with this is the type of person who would actually be happy to see these poor, innocent little angels dropped straight from HEAVEN go hungry, just to spite their irresponsible parents...  Here's the thing:  I don't believe for a minute that most of these parents are incapable of feeding their kids.  If it comes down to it, most can make adjustments-- even a sacrifice or two-- and those kids will be fed.  (Maybe they'll think twice before having another kid, too, if they know the rest of us are done filling in for the deadbeat baby-daddies.)

For the ones who honestly can't provide a lunch, yes, you need to have a safety net in place.  (Very, very few people would be willing to see a child go hungry and not stop to help.)  The key is that it needs to be a sufficient but spartan and temporary safety net-- not a perpetual bouncy-house.  And yes, I know that I am SO MEAN for not wanting to support millions of someone else's kids forever. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Juvenile Water Moccasin / Cottonmouth

There are snake photos below, including a really blurry one of a snake eating a toad. 

This morning, a thunderstorm woke me, so I hurried out of bed to unplug the important (expensive) electronics.  (Oh, the joys of summertime!  A thousand unpluggings and re-pluggings and unpluggings again!)

Then I opened the kitchen door to peek at my daylily seedlings.  (I'm a bit paranoid about having them rained on too heavily, so I have a beach umbrella over them when there's a risk of rain-- but I'm also paranoid that the umbrella will catch a gust of wind and up-end the whole table... It's a situation fraught with tension, as you can tell.) The seedlings were fine-- but what was that under the table? 

A snake!
I thought it might be just a "brown water snake", because Donald saw one down by the puppy pool a couple of weeks ago (or so).  I woke him, and we looked at it briefly (through the rain-dimmed early-morning light) and said it must be another (relatively harmless) brown water snake.  So back to bed.

But I still wasn't sure.  I prefer the Internet for snake-photos, but the computers/Internet were unplugged-- and it was still thundering-- so I turned to our trusty reptile ID book.  (Nowhere near as good as the Internet, but better than my faulty memory.)  Anyway, the more I looked, the less certain I was.

Another look.  I tried to take photos, but most of them were blurry...

At this point, the snake had his mouth full of toad, so I ventured a little closer... and caught the glint of the eye.

Juvenile Water Moccasin

Back to wake up Donald, because now I was pretty sure it was a moccasin.  Sure enough that I wanted the thing dead, at least, and if it turned out not to be venomous, well, as Donald said, it didn't need to be hanging around the patio, anyway. 

Donald chopped the head off with a hoe and a shovel-- which proved harder than suspected, so we need to sharpen that hoe!-- and we were finally able to get a really good look.

Juvenile Water Moccasin

Definitely a juvenile moccasin.  (Or cottonmouth... Are the names used interchangeably, or is there really a difference between the two?  This one's mouth didn't look white when he opened it during the... "death struggle"... but that's probably because it was stained with toad blood.  Gross.)


Just makes you wonder how long it's been hanging out around our yard... Where it had been yesterday, when the dogs were out and about-- or when I was playing around with plants while wearing open-toe/bare-ankle, slip-on shoes...

Here's the best photo I got during the "trying to ID" period:

Juvenile Water Moccasin

So watch out.  They're definitely out there (as if we didn't already know it)!

ETA:  Those paver-bricks the snake's on are 8 inches long, if you're trying to get a feel for how big it was.  Not that big, in other words.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Progress Pix

The ivy vines on the trellis are slow growers, but at least they're all still green.  ;o)

Ivy Trellis Progress

The passionflower, on the other hand, is growing by leaps and bounds! 

Here it is last time I took a photo of the whole trellis (toward the end of May)...

Passionflower Vine Progress

And here it is today:

Passionflower Vine Progress

There are four blooms open, today, June 12th-- two on each side of the trellis.

- - - - - - -

I've been moving our more "common" orange daylilies down to the sides of the shed. I've read that people sometimes think their more unique hybridized daylilies are reverting back to orange (which is physically impossible) for the simple reason that the exuberant orange lilies out-compete their more mild-mannered cousins. I don't want that, so I'm moving the orange daylilies to their own area, where they can take over and crowd and be bullies, if they want.  I think they'll look nice against the red shed, too.  (The main potential problem is that the ones on the north side might not get enough sun.  I'll have to keep that in mind and move them yet again, if they're unhappy.)

The plain ones (not blooming yet) went on one side and the double- (or triple-?) petaled ones on the other. 

Orange Daylilies

Double (Triple?) Orange Daylilies

- - - - - - -

These are the only daylily seedlings we got from the first batch of seeds. (The result of disastrous flooding and poor planning.  Maybe inferior seed, too, but I'm not sure about that.)  Still, as long as these are hanging on, it's not a total loss.  (I wonder what colors and quirks are hidden in the DNA of these tender green shoots...)

The Dirty Not-Quite-a-Dozen

Here are the new daylily seedlings on about June 8th:

Daylily Seedlings!

And here they are today (June 12th):

Daylily Seedlings

We planted all but 5 of the 83 seeds, I think. (Those just never germinated, and a few of them were disintegrating and/or molding, so I tossed them.) Almost all of the germinated seeds we planted put up green shoots, and most seem to be doing well, so far. There's one albino (upper left corner), which is interesting, but unfortunately, I've read that those usually die. (You can feed them sugar-water until they get big enough to live off nutrients in the soil-- since they can't get their energy from the sun-- but it sounds very elaborate, and in the end, iffy at best.  I think I'll just have to let that one go.)

- - - - - - -

To end on a pretty note, the large gardenia bush is blooming!


New Garden Photos

I've uploaded some new photos from around the flower garden (as well as one crochet WIP photo).

The first few of the new batch were actually taken last year.  They show the 'Clarke's Heavenly Blue" morning glories that took forever to bloom.  We don't have any of that variety, this year, but these photos are a reminder of what a beautiful shade of blue they truly are!

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

And here are the rest of them:

In looking for those morning glory photos, I found a bulging (digital) folder of photos we took in Sweden, last year.  I don't think I felt up to the challenge of dealing with them all last summer, so maybe I'll tackle them in the next week or two.  (...Which reminds me that I'm also supposed to be choosing photos to have printed...)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dogs, Garage, & Flowers

Trixie loves playing with the water hose-- to the point that if you try to water plants with Trixie nearby, she will bite at the water-- hurl herself after it-- and potentially crush the poor, thirsty plants in the process.  She has to go inside for the sake of the plants' continued well-being (not to mention the continued well-being of my sanity).  But every now and then, we point the hose out over the lawn and let her have at it.

Trixie - June 7th, 2014

She looks like a different dog, when she gets wet.  (True for all long-haired and/or fluffy dogs, I guess.)

Trixie - June 7th, 2014

We've introduced Luna to the hose, too, and she's a little interested, but not nearly to the degree that Trixie is (and maybe that's a good thing).  On the other hand, she displays some interest in the plastic kiddie pool that all our other dogs have shunned.

Luna - June 7th, 2014

Luna - June 7th, 2014

- - - - - - - 

I'm pretty sure Donald's posted this photo (as well as some of the dog photos above) on FB, so you've probably already seen it, but here's a photo of the garage workbench and cabinets:

Garage Cabinets and Workbench

(Still haven't finished putting everything in place...  Yard work has taken up all "outside time", lately.)

- - - - - - -

This past winter got very cold (by our standards) and killed back some plants harder than usual.  The umbrella plants under our covered patio, for instance, are still very slowly recovering.  Nowhere near as tall and lush as they were last year, but they're alive.  The sago palms were also hard-hit.  It's taken them a long time to put out new growth, but they finally have.  (Late May, early June.)

New Fronds on a Sago Palm

I don't know if I had any other options, but the frozen, dead fronds seemed so dead that I just cut them all off.  I don't think they'd have recovered.  The downside of doing that is that removing fronds makes the plant into more of a (very) short tree shape, which I'm not sure I love... But oh well.  It's what the plant wants to do, naturally, so I guess I'll learn to like it.  ;o)  (I'm slowly learning how exhausting it can be to fight what a plant naturally wants to do.  They can be extremely stubborn, plants.)

- - - - - - -

This new batch of daylily seedlings is doing so much better than the last!  I'm not sure how much of it is due to better practice and how much is owed to a better supply, but I'm happy.  Now if they'll just stay alive... Daylilies are hardy, so chances are good that most will, I think, so long as I take a reasonable amount of care. 

Daylily Seedlings!

It's sad to think that we won't see blooms from them for at least a year--  maybe two or three.  Worth the wait, though. 

- - - - - - - 

 Flower photo "slideshow":

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Latest Garden Doings

Latest garden doings:
-- Planted a few more of the sprouted daylily seeds.  Almost all of them have sprouted, and the few left might, too.  The paper that came with them said it could take up to a month...

--  Planted a couple packets of seed.  I've had these for months, but just never got around to dealing with them.  One pack of (annual) black-eyed Susan.  I may have waited too long for those... We'll see.  If so, I'll try again next year.  I enjoy our coreopsis, which reseed themselves pretty well every year.  I hope that black-eyed Susans would do the same.  The second pack was (perennial) purple cone-flower.  I really want to get these started... I'm on the prowl for hardy perennials.  Annuals are nice, but something that comes back year after year is even better. 

--  Transplanted a shrub crepe myrtle ('Victor', supposed to be about 3'x3' with red blooms) from the front/side of the house.  It wasn't doing well in the old spot; in fact, I was surprised when it put out leaves this year, because I thought it was long gone.  Maybe it will be happier in its new location.

--  Transplanted various and sundry other plants from around the yard-- bulbs the identity of which I am not sure and some daylilies that I think are the plain orange type.  I think I'm going to move the latter yet again, because I don't want them crowding out the hybrid daylilies that I plan to (eventually) put in the same area.  These can go down by the shed, maybe... Or along the edge of the garage... Somewhere out of the way.

-- Cut back the English dogwood, because it needed a fresh start.  (Should've done that immediately after blooming, because now it wasted energy putting growth on the old, tired, mostly-dead stalks, but that's ok.  I think it will bounce back.  If not, at least the piece by the bay window is doing really well.)  I dug up two rooted bits and moved them to a couple of different places around the yard (by the front left corner of the garage and at the corner of the covered patio).  One of them alternates between drooping sadly and perking back up, depending on the time of day, but I think it'll settle down soon.  (If I recall correctly, the one by the bay window also went through some theatrics before deciding that life was good again.)

--  Set up the birdbath in a new spot.  I don't know if any birds will use it, but it's there.  (And now I have to remember to keep it clean... I may be too lazy and inconsistent for regular birdbath maintenance.  This one is so heavy, too!  Not easy to empty.)

--  Moved the tiny, sad little clump of what I think is agapanthus (a.k.a. lily of the Nile).  It's dwindled away to almost nothing, and I don't know if I've ever seen it bloom, here.  (It came from Mom, and I remember hers blooming, at the old house.)  From what I'm reading, it sounds like lots of people have problems getting them to bloom, so at least I'm not alone.  ;o)  If I remember, I may try to scrunch it into a small pot, sometime...  (Many people say it seems to like being crowded, and at least that way it would be easy to move it around as I attempt to find the right light situation.)

--  Pulled weeds... including tons of cypress vines.  The little red star-shaped flowers are pretty when the vine's in bloom, but they do drop a lot of seed and pop up everywhere the next year.  I'm pulling most of them out, this year, where I find them.  I still haven't decided whether or not to let one or two of them stay... Maybe up by the front fence... I'm not sure I'll be diligent enough to get them all, anyway.  They're very easy to pull, fortunately, but there are so many of them! 

- - - - - - -

Fresh from the Garden

Here's some of the produce from our garden.  A couple of bell peppers (already chopped and frozen for use in that "Wendy's chili" recipe we make fairly often), a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a "regular" tomato that ripened early. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Political Diversity"

This is a politically-themed post.  If you're here for photos and innocuous garden-based posts only, you'll want to skip this one.  :o)

- - - - -

I don't know if WKRG hired a new "media consultant" or one of the existing employees got a bee in his/her bonnet, but someone has been posting a lot more often on Twitter, lately.  (...Well, unless I just started following their account recently without noticing it. Which is possible, during some of that bad weather we had a month or two ago...)

Anyway, this morning's Twitter link back to the dreaded FACEBOOK was this:  "If you live in Baldwin County you may have noticed a common theme with the upcoming election.  Do you think there is enough political diversity in Baldwin County?"

(And then there was a terribly blurry and amateurish photo of some of those ugly "candidate signs" that people stick along the roads before elections.  I mean, seriously, anyone with even a moderately-intelligent smart phone could take a better photo with their eyes closed.  Someone could probably draw them a better picture with a box of Crayolas.  (g)  But that's all beside the point...)

First, the very way they pose that question irks me.  Hm.  I wonder what they think the answer should be... (More on that in a minute.)

Second, since they ask about "political diversity" I assume they're referring to the fact that this is primarily (and by "primarily", I mean "far and away") a conservative/Republican county-- in a "red state", to boot.  But really, it doesn't matter what kind of diversity they're oh-so-subtly suggesting might be lacking... because my answer is that, no, I don't care about diversity or lack therof in this matter.  (Actually, enforced diversity doesn't appeal to me at all, in most matters.)

As far as I know, nothing and no-one is stopping anyone else from running for these offices (or other offices, when those positions come up for grabs).  Now, possibly the reason that there aren't many (any?) democrats running this time is that they are familiar with the local political waters and know that they don't have a serious chance of winning, if they run as democrats.  Do I care?  NO.  If it mattered that much to me, I'd probably have to move somewhere else, because (again) democrats are out-numbered around here.

That brings me to things that do worry or concern me...

-- I am concerned that with so many people flooding into our county, its character (political and otherwise) is bound to change.  I worry that I won't recognize the personality of this place-- the only place I've ever lived!-- in another few decades.  I don't want people bringing us down with a whole fleet of other sinking ships, and I'm afraid they will... (That may sound funny, coming from a woman who married "an outsider" from a country that's very different from the U.S., politically.  (g)  Yes, but I made sure of his personality and beliefs beforehand. ;o)) 

-- I do worry that "Republican" doesn't mean what it meant 30 or 40 years ago.

-- I'm frustrated that I can't believe what candidates say they stand for.  Instead, I'm convinced that many (if not most) would tell a thousand lies without batting an eye, if they thought it would advance their political careers.  I'm disappointed that politics is a lifelong career for so many of these people-- and that they still turn around and expect us to honor them for their so-called "public service".  Yeah, it's not "public service" anymore, for most of you.  You make a career of it, and you are generously recompensed in the form of pay, power/influence, and shady inside deals for you and your families.  You will not get my automatic respect and gratitude, too.

Meanwhile, WKRG asks, "Do you think there is enough political diversity in Baldwin County?"  There's an implied answer.  ("No, of course there's not!  A democrat should waste his time and money in a hopeless bid for power!")  Really, how are you supposed to answer "yes" to that?  "Yes, I think there's enough political diversity, even though you just pointed out in your previous statement that there's a 'common theme with the upcoming election'."

We know that diversity is all-important, these days-- even more important than qualifications and just deserts and getting the best person for the job.  If you aren't for more "diversity", then there must be something deeply, horrifyingly wrong with you.  How can you ever have enough diversity?!

Another strike against you, WKRG.  I find myself tuning in to your news coverage less and less frequently, and this latest delight isn't changing my mind.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Progress Report (No Photos)

Over the weekend, we did some garage organizing and cleaning.  It's not finished, but already much better.  We've put mini-blinds in the windows on the south-facing side and have blinds ready to go into the east-facing side, when we get around to it.

The ping-pong table (oh, excuse me, "table tennis" table (g)) is out there, now, and we've played a few times already.  What a relief to have it out of the house!  Of course it's hotter (and more humid) out in the garage than in the house, but on the other hand, the table is no longer taking up precious space in our main room, blocking the view (and natural light), and being an eyesore.  I think we'll actually be more likely to play now, despite the lack of A/C.

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The new daylily seeds arrived sooner than expected.  These had instructions to wrap them in a damp paper towel, put them in a Ziploc bag, and keep them warm and moist until germination, which could take up to a month.  ...Yeah, it took about a day.  I got a bunch of pots ready, and Donald helped me plant all but ten of the seeds, which we held back because they looked like they could use a little more time.  The pots are on trays on the covered patio, out of Luna's reach.  I'm going to do my very best to see that these turn into real plants that will grace us with flowers in a year or two.  That means watering (from the bottom) once or twice a day (for a while, at least) and possibly moving them around to avoid violent downpours.  I hope that we'll have a higher success rate, this time around... I think we should, but let's not jinx it by being too optimistic.  ;o)

Oh, and there were 83 seeds.  (The listing was for "60+" seeds, so at least they were generous!)  That means 73 seeds planted, so far... Plus the dozen teensy daylily plants that made it from the last batch (assuming that they're all really daylilies... and I'm not sure about two or three of them).

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The Spanish lavender's still hanging in there, despite its reputation of disliking the combination of heat and humidity.  (Who does like that combo?)

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The ivy (on the trellis by the kitchen door) is slowly growing.  Emphasis on "slowly".  I've read that ivy likes a mulch of coffee grounds.  I'm going to have to start drinking coffee.  Donald doesn't like the taste, so he won't be any help in this area.  I'm ambivalent about the flavor, myself, but since I'm too shy to beg Starbucks for coffee grounds, I'll just have to make some of my own. (g)

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The passionflower vine, on the other hand, is growing very nicely.  I think it's bigger than the photo I posted last week, even!

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Our morning glory vines are slowly growing.  This variety (Grandpa Ott) is blooming much, much earlier than the Heavenly Blue did, last year, but the vines haven't really taken off like those did.  There's still plenty of time, of course.  Next year, it might be nice to try both varieties at the same time.  (I'd also like to try moonflowers, if I can remember to look for seeds next year.  Now is a good time to start a spring-planting wishlist.)

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The new Knock Out Roses are all doing pretty well, I think-- including the small one Mom gave us.  I need to fertilize them (and a lot of other things, too).

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Though most of the hummingbirds that were visiting earlier in the year seem to have moved elsewhere, I saw one this afternoon.  It was visiting our newly-blooming white-flowered rose of sharon (small tree-form hibiscus).  The other rose of sharon, which has lavender blooms, hasn't started flowering just yet.

We have a third rose of sharon that I thought had died.  Just a bad location for it, I guess.  Well, this spring I noticed short sprigs with the characteristic leaves coming up again, so I moved it to a new spot.  Long story short, it got mowed down not once, but twice.  Incredibly, it's still trying to survive, and I think everyone knows where it is, now, so it shouldn't be mowed down again.  (g)  If that plant makes it after all that, it will have truly earned its place in the garden, poor thing! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trellis, Morning Glory, Cleome, Etc.

Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that those green sprouts don't look like miniature daylilies for the very good reason that they aren't daylily seedlings.  They must be sprigs of grass.  Oh well.  It did seem a little too good to be true.

I dug out the true daylily seedlings and put them into pots.  They'll be easier to keep track of, this way-- not to mention the weeding.  There aren't a lot of them, but it was (all together, now) a learning experience, and if even five of them make it to maturity, it's not a total loss.

To soften the blow, I ordered another batch of seeds-- from a different seller this time.  I've seen this particular seller mentioned by name as a good source of quality daylily seeds, and in any case, it's nice to get some variety. 

The new seeds should arrive by the middle of next week, so in the meantime, I'll try to get the pots ready for them so they can go right into the garden and have as much growing time as possible.  That's right: I've learned my lesson, so pots it is.  It might take some work to keep them watered, but better to water them a couple times a day than to fight the weeds on their home turf (so to speak) or have the seeds washed away entirely! 

All these seeds, by the way, are unknown hybrids.  We won't know what they look like until they bloom-- and they may not bloom for two or even three years!  No instant gratification, this project, but it's a fairly cheap way to get quite a few interesting daylilies.  (I'm hoping our germination rate with this batch will be much better than last time.  Avoiding flooding should help.) 

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Here's what the trellis for the passionflower vine looked like back in mid-April:

Trellis for Passionflower

And here's what it looks like now, at the end of May:

Passionflower Vine Progress

Slowly but surely, the vine is filling in the gaps.
Here's from the other side:

Passionflower Vine Progress

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I separated a very small bit of English dogwood (a.k.a. sweet mock orange) from the mother plant last autumn or winter and put it next to the bay window.  It's put on a lot of growth this spring!  (It's finished blooming for the year, but I like it without flowers, too, though I've seen some describe it as "relatively nondescript".  (g))

English Dogwood

The mother plant has a lot of dead wood and needs pruning.  I may just cut it all the way back to the ground. (I've read that that's the best move if it's died back too far.)

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We have a decent number of cleome that came up this year, and a few are already blooming.




Ever since I listened to The Day of the Triffids, that's what cleome bring to mind.  They're so tall and strange-looking.  It doesn't seem so far-fetched that they might be able to lift up their roots and walk around, if they had a strong enough motivation.  ;o)

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And finally, a few photos of the Grandpa Ott morning glories:

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory