Monday, February 19, 2018

Planting many things

I do not limit myself when planting things in the yard.  For instance, so far this spring (and yes, it is February and, yes, we are having spring – possibly early summer) I’ve planted seeds for sunflowers, castor bean trees, fennel, thyme, parsley, coreopsis, spaghetti squash, catnip, mint, and a couple other things that have slipped my mind right this second.  Most were seeds I got free from a friend, some were seeds I collected from my plants last fall, and a few I bought. 

In addition to planting seeds, I also washed and planted all my yard art.  Right now, it’s the most colorful and eye-catching thing in my yard.

 Found him at a garage sale.

 So I know what time it is.

 Birds and witches and happy faces
and other stuff.

Dragons hide out all over the yard.

Well – everybody needs at least one

My ever producing apple, uhh pear,
whatever fruit tree.

Old sinks are good for many things.

Also have napping dragons.

The odd pelican or so.

A frog house

My oldest granddaughters first car.

And a bunch of other unusual stuff.

I worked in the yard today.  Dug up and moved nine plants.  Nine.  Nine good sized plants.  Pulled weeds, moved chunks of cement (I use them as flowerbed edging around the biggest bed) from here to there, dug up amaryllis bulbs, put down normal flower bed edging, put all the yard art out and around, and planted seeds.  Then I crawled into the house just before collapsing in the grass weedy yard.  My arms, legs, back, and brain are all very tired.

Take care.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Unusual things ..

A couple years ago, my two middle granddaughters gave me a salt lamp.  It’s very cute.  I like it!  Usually it sits beside my computer and is plugged into a USB port.  I’d never had one before so I did some searching about salt lamps. 

WOW!  Salt Lamps are the cure-all for very nearly everything.  Just a few examples -

1. The negative ions in salt lamps can help you breathe easier.
2. The negative charge of these lamps can help balance the body’s ph and energy.
3. Salt lamps clear the air by attracting the actual debris and invisible impurities in the air to itself.
4.  A salt lamp may help improve focus needed to get tasks done.
5. A salt lamp helps lower blood pressure.

And so forth.

Very cool considering this is a lump of salt with a small light bulb inside.  Well, my general attitude toward these sort of things is – if it promises the world, it’s too good to be true.  Still, I like the little orange light, it makes me think of my granddaughters so maybe it does lighten my mood a bit.

Recently, I was looking through some files for heaven-knows-what, and I found the instruction sheet that came with my little lamp.  Mostly it tells you to not get it wet and the light has xxx-number of hours.  Hmmmmm.  Well, I’m pretty sure that when the light bulb burns out, the salt lamp is just a little round ball of salt.  No, no, no – don’t want that – want the little orange light to keep on glowing.

So, I decided to move the little lamp to the living room and add a 120v plug to the USB gizmo and plug it in/out as I thought of it. 

So, here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about salt lamps.

They sweat.

I’d left it unplugged for a couple of days and went to plug it in and, OMIGOD, it was sitting in a puddle of oily liquid!

Straight to the internet.

“Due to the hygroscopic properties of salt, these lamps will be absorbing moisture from the air when they are in a damp environment - that's why they don't recommend it for places with a noticeable amount of humidity.  Because the salt lamp absorbs moisture, maybe you can use a Moisture Absorber to remedy this situation and lessen the humidity.” 

Hahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!  I live on the Texas Gulf Coast.  On a good day, our humidity is 80%, INSIDE!

The fix is simple really – leave it plugged in at all times.  The tiny bit of heat it generates, keeps it from sweating. 

I guess if it burns out one day, I’ll have to see if the bulb can be replaced or I’ll have a sweaty little ball of salt.

And, here is yet another piece of information to add to your growing file of
interesting things to toss out during an exotic cocktail party to astound and amaze everyone.

Friday, February 16, 2018


 …. the sirens song was too much for me.

I’ve been suffering with cabin fever lately.  Our weather, for the last many weeks has been abysmal.  Overcast and/or raining, foggy, wet, cold.  And, most days it was all those things.  Then suddenly the sirens song.

Come out, come out and play in the yard.

I tried to be strong and ignore pull of the outdoor music.  Yes, it was sort of warm but it was very overcast and wet (our humidity has been averaging about, oh, 204% lately). But, while walking around the front yard, I suddenly found myself cutting back all the dead katie ruellia.  Then the Datura – Devils Trumpet.  All drown and/or frozen.  Now cut back to the ground.  Then I brought out more potted plants from the garage – ones that will eventually be planted in a small bed close to the house.  And two hours from the time I walked out, I went back inside covered with dirt.  (I am not one of those people that can work in the yard and stay clean and fresh. 

Used to look like this

and this

Well, fine.  At least the front yard looked a bit better.

Then Thursday, the song was even louder and I was out by 9am.  I started moving all the plants that have been living in the garage since November out to the yard.  All the big, heavy plants.  When I finally reached the point of “I’m not sure I can drag myself into the house ohmigod”, I came in.  Every muscle hurt.  I think my hair hurt!



and L O T S more

Today, I had planned to (1) go to the library and (2) go to the grocery store.  Not very exciting but necessary.  However, at 8am I found myself dressed in yard-working-clothes, heading out the back door.  I finally came in about 1pm.  That’s my limit anymore – 4 to 5 hours per day of heavy lifting, pulling weeds, planting seeds/seedlings, moving big pots, digging up and moving plants from here to over there, mowing, cutting back all the dead stuff and hauling everything to the trash pile outside the fence.  I burned up my mower.  While trying to cut back some of the MULTITUDE of weeds, I noticed smoke coming off the plug (my mower is/was electric).  Stopped and unplugged the extension cord from the mower (burned my fingers in the process) and there was smoke coming out of the plug.  This is bad.  It is never good to see smoke coming out of something electric. 

doesn't look as bad here
but you can't see the
poor baby mower

Tomorrow I HAVE to go to the store!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day

How did this get started???  With the stationery companies? The candy companies? The florists?  Well, I’m sure they have all helped to keep this day alive and well.  However, there are many different thoughts on the where and when. 

Some historians lean toward the Roman festival of Lupercalia (13-15 February) being the origins of our heart day. 

The purpose of this festival was to protect the herds, flocks and crops, avert evil spirits, purify the city and release health and fertility.  The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then remove the goat’s hide, cut it into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.  

Well, whatever worked …

So the next thing I found about the beginnings of Valentine’s Day is a reference to one of least three different Christian saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were killed.

1:   Valentine, a priest in the 3rd century, defied Claudius II and performed marriages for young soldiers in secret. Claudius thought single men made the best soldiers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

2:   Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. 

3:   An imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine”.

Others think that the 14th century poet, Chaucer was responsible for Valentine’s Day with his poem “The Parlement of Foules”.  As far as I can tell it’s a poem about birds (maybe people) choosing their mates.

By the 18th-century it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their affection for each other by exchanging gifts of flowers, confections, and notes. Mass production of Valentine gifts became popular in the 19th century.  Today in our technology minded world you can send notes of love via text or email.

Still, regardless of your feelings on the commercialization, it’s as good a day as any to remind someone you love them.

Take care. 

Monday, February 12, 2018


Winter roared back in for us going from the 70°'s  on Saturday, to last night's light freeze. The chilly temperatures got here just in time for tomorrow ----

Fat Tuesday.  Mardi Gras Day.  

I’ve been to New Orleans' Mardi Gras several times; it’s an experience everyone should have at least once.  In my growing-up years, my parents had close friends who lived in New Orleans.  We stayed with them a few times for Mardi Gras.  Jack was a well-known artist there and he had a studio on Bourbon Street, just across from Pat O’Brian’s.  Honestly, the world passed in front of that studio. 

I can remember seeing the parades going through the French Quarter with the Flambeaux dancers leading the way.  It was amazing.  People - ohmigod - all ages, all having fun.   

The floats were spectacular and the crowds were large.  And, everyone chanted the same thing –

Hey, Mister!  Throw me somethin'.

People dress up and everyone has a good time.  

I’ve been to Galveston’s version of Mardi Gras.  Lots of people, lots of fun.  Different.  Not quite the same.

So, tomorrow, where ever you are


Take care

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Unusual, strange, odd, remarkable

This year I want to plant Mugwort again.  It’s been years since I had any and it’s an unusual herb.  Honestly, it’s not a very pretty plant being a tall (3-6 feet) perennial.  The leaves are a gray-green and a little hairy on the underside. It has a strong aroma when the leaves are crushed and in late summer it will produce small yellow disk flowers clustered in long spikes at the top of the plant.  It grows best in a sunny spot with good draining.  It is likely to freeze and never return in other than temperate climates though you can water root cuttings, if necessary. 

Common Mugwort is a member of Artemisia which belongs to the daisy family.  It’s found in many herb gardens although it is considered a weed by some.  It has a long history of use as a culinary and medicinal herb.  For instance, in the way-back days Mugwort was one of several herbs used to flavor beer (before the introduction of hops in the 12th century).  The leaves and buds were used as a bitter flavoring agent to season fat, meat, poultry and fish  And, it can be used to repel flies and moths in the garden.

But, mostly Mugwort is considered a magical herb.  Roman soldiers put Mugwort in their shoes to protect against fatigue and travelers carried it to keep them safe from the evil spirits and wild animals on the road.  Gathered at the right time of the year, it gives protection against disease and misfortune.  Some cultures rubbed the leaves on their body to keep ghosts away.  Grown around the home, it will keep evil spirits from entering.  Ya never know – can’t hurt.

I’d also like to plant Broom.  Broom, native to Europe and Asia, is a member of the legume family.  It is a nitrogen-fixing plant, the flowers are fragrant, and it grows pretty much anywhere, all of which is good.  However, it is very invasive, as in considered a pest, invasive.  I’m not going to be planting this.  I have finally learned what I can and cannot control.  I cannot control extremely invasive plants.  (I have to remind myself of this often because the “but-it’s-pretty-I-can-control-it” thought overwhelms my common sense upon occasion.)

Another thing I’d like to plant is American Witch Hazel.  This is a
small understory tree or a huge, multi-stemmed shrub reaching heights of 20 feet and widths of 15 feet.  It is a beautiful and fragrant fall bloomer.  And, did you know – the forked limb of an American Witch Hazel was (maybe is) the choice of water dowsers.  Size aside, it needs a substantial number of 20°+ chill hours, something we don’t have here.  Another unusual plant to be admired elsewhere.

OK – so far – Mugwort is a go provided I can find some!

Take care.
Mugwort flowers up really close.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Something old that’s new

This spring I’m going to replace some of the drown and/or frozen plants in my yard with something I haven’t grown previously. 

One such item is Utrecht Blue Wheat.  It is sold as an ornamental grass because it is so beautiful from summer to frost (plus it’s hard to thresh).  This heirloom plant was originally grown in the early 1900’s in Utrecht, Netherlands.  It has steel blue heads with long black bristles which grow on long 5-foot stems.  According to the planting instructions, after sowing the seeds, the rows should be protected from the birds by a scarecrow or other ornamentation.  OK, I’ve built scarecrows before, I can do that.  Then, when the color is good, cut the stalks and hang to dry.  So, all I have to figure out is where I can plant (and protect from birds and damn squirrels) wheat.

Maybe by the Sea Oats.

When I was growing up, the sand dunes along the west-end beaches were full of Sea Oats.  I can remember, Mother would walk into the dunes (a big no-no these days) and cut long stalks full of seed heads and bringing them back to the house in Galveston.

Sea Oats is a long lived, slow growing, warm season, perennial grass commonly associated with the upper dunes along beach fronts. It grows erect to approximately 6 feet in height at maturity.  It is very drought tolerant. It prefers full sun.  This plant has been adversely affected by urban encroachment. Treated and untreated sewage, urban runoff and general pollution has impacted the plant negatively. Off-road vehicles damage them by disrupt their roots and compact the sand.

By the time Michael and I moved to Galveston, the huge Sea Oat plants were gone.  Anyway, several years ago I was at a local nursery and found a pot of Sea Oats for sale.  Nostalgia took over - I snapped it right up.  For the longest time I kept it in a good-sized pot until I noticed little Sea Oat plants coming up in the flowerbed where sat the pot.  Hmmm.  Now, I have a large shed in my back yard with a small weedy area behind it.  So, thinks I, I’ll just transplant the Sea Oats behind the shed where they can grow and get big.  And grow they have.  They haven’t gotten very tall yet and right now, like everything else, they look TERRIBLE (flood and freeze damage) but I did notice today all sorts of new green growth.  And, they have taken over that small area behind the shed.  So maybe I’ll plant the wheat there and have both decorative Sea Oats and Blue Wheat.

Take care.