Tuesday, August 9, 2022

One of THOSE Days

 

Honest to god, I’ve had One of THOSE Days for a while now. 

Last week, while driving, in Wharton, I sort of got lost ….. twice.  Well, I didn’t actually get lost, I missed my street. 


As it happens, occasionally when driving my brain sort of divides into parts and one part keeps an eye on the other cars, any stoplights, people walking down the middle of the street and another part starts working on any projects I have in the hopper.  The project my brain is currently working on is an upcoming program I have to give.  I haven’t thought about it much because, until recently it wasn’t scheduled until the end of October.  P L E N T Y of time.  Then I had to reschedule and now the program is going to be in September – like the 2nd week of September. 

Background:  Recently I went to the ophthalmologist – couldn’t see very well and couldn’t use the computer for longer than 30 minutes without my vision going a wonky.  And, yes, I had to get a new prescription.  Ugh.  And, I need to do the 20-20-20 thing more regularly (you know, work 20 minutes, stop, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds).  I am keeping my frames, just getting new lenses (which are costing the moon and a few stars all by themselves without getting frames). 


So, I finally got a text from the glasses lady and went to get the new lenses.  And while driving over, thinking about my upcoming program, all of a sudden, I realized I was at a stoplight.  No – not right – no stoplights on the way to the glasses place.  Where am I??  Damn, missed my turn. 

Turned around, went back and got there without further problem.  As it turns out, I only got one new lens because the other one was not right.  Not only could I not see anything through that lens, it gave me immediate eye strain and a headache and vertigo and all sorts of other terrible things.  So I got one new lens and one is being remade.  (this being rather useless information, I know)

So, when leaving, I drifted immediately into the program subject and maybe taking some examples and making a slide show and ……. damn, missed my turn to go home.


I just hate it when that happens.

I had to take Daryl to the kitty cat doctor again.  He started acting a bit weird, okay weirder than what’s normal for him.  For instance – he’d hide in a tiny dark space – all day long.  And he started have muscle ripples, from neck to tail, down his back and he started doing obsessive grooming.  Now, Daryl is happy to get into the kennel, until I shut and lock the door.  Then he starts making pitiful baby kitty mews.  When we get downstairs and in the car, the mews get louder and stronger.  And, when the car actually starts to move, he screams bloody murder.  All the way to the vet.  Once we get there and into an exam room, he immediately goes silent and backs up to the very back of the kennel and makes himself as tiny as possible.  I told the doctor the problem and that I wanted to know if she could see, hear, feel anything out of normal.  Would Daryl come out of the kennel?  No, we have to turn it door down and shake him out.  Then, omg, two strange women touched him all over (he does not like to be touched much).  The doctor did do one thing I shall not describe here having to do with anal glands.  The upshot?  Well, he's a healthy, 18-pound, solid cat. (My daughter tells me “solid” is a code word for fat.)  We got home without problem but with loud cat shrieks.  I don’t know if the gland deal was the problem or the entire trip alarmed him but he’s back to normal and all is well. 

I am concerned that this week may be another of THOSE days because at 3am, one of the Demon Duo threw up.  In my bed.  Right next to me.  This is not a positive thing.

My next Earth Lab is coming up very soon.  The July program was on local birds and was very interesting and well attended (yay!). 

This rather drab looking fellow is our state bird
The Mockingbird.

The August program is on Ikebana – The Art of Japanese Flower Arranging.  It’s a two-hour program with one hour dedicated to a presentation, explanation, and examples of Ikebana.  The second hour is a hands-on workshop. 


Now, in case you don’t know,

Ikebana can be traced to the sixth century with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from China and Korea.  Buddhist floral offerings, called kuge, were placed on the altar of temples.  The offering consisted of three main stems gathered closely at the base and rising from the water as one.  The three stems represent the harmonious relationship between heaven, man, and earth.  Each stem in the arrangement has a symbolic meaning drawn from both religion and landscape art with the whole arrangement representing the entire universe.  Today this art form can be found in contemporary spaces where people live, work and play. Arrangements make use of natural materials, bringing the beauty of nature indoors. The tradition has evolved into a modern art form that can be enjoyed by everyone.


I am stressing “modern art form” because I don’t want people to think it’s all about dumping a couple flowers in a vase and done.

I am currently experiencing – omg-what-if-nobody-shows-up. 


I’ll be better by Saturday afternoon.

And that’s all I have right now.  Except for …..

 



Just getting everyone ready for the October holiday season.

 9 Aug 2022

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Just Around the House



I am of the firm belief that the first things to climb out of Pandora's box, just before greed, envy, hatred, etc., were roaches, mosquitoes and FIRE ANTS.  Just in case you are not familiar with fire ants (omigod where do you live and can I move there!) – they are not the little annoying “sugar ants” that can invade a pantry.  Fire ants build huge nests

yes – like this

and often attack vulnerable animals like foals, calves, human’s wearing sandals and can kill or severely maim.  Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom.  For humans, this is a painful sting, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire (hence the name), and the after-effects of the sting can range from deadly (sensitive people) to just severely painful. 

Now, my house is something of a pier and beam arrangement with a sizeable crawl space underneath it.  When I moved into this house, I woke up one morning to find the Demon Duo’s food bowls filled with ants.  Yes, fire ants.  My reaction (after many curses I learned from husband MHN – if you knew him, you’ll be impressed with my vocabulary), was first to toss the ants, food, and bowls into the yard and attack them with ant spray.  My second action was to follow the ant trail and caulk the tiny space between the outside wall and floor.  Then, I walked all around the outside of the house and put down ant killer and ant bait.  It seemed to work and problem of ants in the house went away. 

Until last week. 

One evening last week, when I went to clean up the kitchen and settle all things for bedtime, I discovered the Demon Duo’s food bowls FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH A WRITHING MASS OF FIRE ANTS.  This time there was a river of ants going back and forth, under the stove toward the back wall. 


More curses. 

Next morning I wiggled the stove out of its place and climbed behind it, cleaned the floor and caulked the wall.  Also, there was some ant killer involved.  Haven’t seen more ants in the house.  But, and here’s the part that worries me, that wall – isn’t really an outside wall so I’m not sure where they (the evil, wicked, malevolent, foul, vile ant creatures) are and how they got in. 

I just hope to god nobody ever has to climb under the house for any reason.  I am convinced there is an 1100sqft ant bed under there. 

We are still in the grip of drought and extreme heat.  Right this minute, I hate to think what August will be like (August is usually our hottest month). 

There are farmers just across the street from me – cotton and corn.  Both crops have done poorly.  The cotton is looking really bad now and large swaths are dying. 

People here are actually hoping for a storm in the Gulf that will bring us some rain.  I’m not quite to the point of hoping for a hurricane but a tropical storm would be alright provided it doesn’t decide to stop and dump 10 inches of rain (yes, I’ve seen that happen).  I know, picky, picky, picky.


Based on a recommendation from “The Bug”, I recently read A State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton.  It’s very good and I could tell which parts came from which person.  It surely is “a high-stakes thriller of international intrigue that features behind-the-scenes global drama with informed details only an insider could know”.  You might try it.

And, after reading, watching or listening to the news, here are a few things to maybe take some of the doom and gloom out ….


I am a Master Gardener, you know, so pay particular attention here.

Emotions
possibly someone had too much time on their hands!



And, finally


23 Jul 2022

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Transformation and Nonsense

  

Times, they are a changing…..  I had an appointment this morning.  As I got into the car, I remembered – damn! no phone.  Stop.  Went back inside to get my phone.  Then back to the car and off to said appointment.  And, I thought – it hasn’t been so long that taking the phone with me was even an option.  Growing up, did I have a phone?  Well, my parents had a phone that was hooked to the house (Mohawk 42473 – weird how I remember that phone number).  I honestly don’t think I ever talked on it to friends and I’m not even sure I know where it was in the house – probably one in the kitchen, maybe the den and one in my parents’ bedroom.  No cell phones certainly.  And, no cell phones when my children were born, young, teenagers, young adults.  I finally got my own cell phone in 2008 and never remembered to take it with me and, if I did, it usually wasn’t charged because I never remembered to plug it in.  Something that used to irritate my husband no end.  And, yet today --- I stop, go back inside to get it.  Sixty-one years undone in just 14.  Changes.


THE ROMANCE

Said the pelican to the elephant,
“I think we should marry, I do.
‘cause there’s no name that rhymes with me,
And no one else rhymes with you.”
Said the elephant to the pelican,
“There’s sense to what you’ve said,
For rhyming’s as good a reason as any
For any two to wed.”
And so the elephant wed the pelican,
And they dined upon lemons and limes,
And now they have a baby pelicant,
And everybody rhymes
     -Shel Silverstein

Speaking of change, I’ve always thought my grandmother saw the greatest amount of change in modern times.  She was born in 1887 and died in 1969.  As a child she rode in a horse drawn buggy and as an adult, she saw men go to the moon.  She lived through a pandemic in her time – Spanish Flu - when nearly 50 million people died.  She saw women get the right to vote and lived through two world wars.  She was married at age 22 and widowed at age 55.  She drank hot toddies and smoked like a little chimney and I never once saw her wear anything other than a dress.  She married only once and I asked her why – why didn’t she marry a second time.  One damn man was enough, she told me. 

I wonder, sometimes, what my grandchildren will think about my life and changes.

SPIDER
A spider lives inside my head
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web
Of silken threads and silver strings
To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles
And specks of dried-up tears
And dust of dreams that catch and cling
For years and years and years…
-Shel Silverstein

In 1987, I got the first computer my company put in a field office.  It used DOS and WordPerfect.  It was hot stuff!  Of course, compared to my laptop today – it was a clunky slow thing with a small screen.  No internet like today with everything you ever wanted to know at fingertips.  I could sign into the company main frame (located in CO) via phone line but that was pretty much all.  Nowadays I go online in the mornings to keep up with the world - check email, news (not doing that currently – all the news is terrible), and weather (not doing that anymore either because our heat index value today is 124° and I don’t think I need to know that – ugh!).  However, when the computer/internet goes down for some reason, I’m somewhat lost.  Everything I need/want to do involves the computer.  And, yet I managed to be without for 40 years; no panic, no worry.  Change, change.


Whatif

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
Shel Silverstein

The ”Whatif’s” plague me still.  How about you?  

According to Benjamin Franklin – In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.  Well, okay but I’d say – In this world nothing can be said to be certain except change, everything changes.  Who knows! maybe there are immortals out there just keeping quiet.  Maybe someday $$$$’s won’t run the world.  Maybe someday idiots with guns and bombs and wmds will be ejected to a cement box on a deserted planet far, far away.  

Oh, and maybe someday whoever is controlling the weather thermostat will read the instruction book!

Hinges
If we had hinges on our heads
There wouldn’t be no sin,
Cause we could take the bad stuff out,
And leave the good stuff in.
Shel Silverstein

13 Jul 2022

 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Odds and Ends

  

My sister commented yesterday that her Crape Myrtle trees have pretty much stopped blooming.  Usually they bloom from mid-June to September. 


I told her it’s because the trees realize it’s not July, it’s September.  I say this because we’ve had an unseasonably, irritating, hotter-than-hell April, May, and June.  Therefore, no matter what the calendar says – it’s time for September weather which means it’s going to be less hot very soon.

Do Not Burst My Bubble!

Across the street from me are large fields that historically plant cotton or corn.  Currently, the farmer using those fields has planted cotton.  I bring this up because in addition to being very warm, it has also been very windy and very dry.  Honestly – off and on, it’s been like


Okay, maybe not exactly like that but local dryness in addition to the Saharan dust makes it pretty close.  Plus, it totally makes my allergies bad, terrible, awful, dreadful, and horrific.

Back to Cotton - Did you know that cotton is a member of Malvaceae – the mallow family. It’s related to hibiscus, hollyhocks, and okra. 


In many states it’s illegal to grow cotton without a permit that states you’re growing a small amount that you don’t intend to use for commercial value.  And, while it’s actually a perennial, it is grown as an annual to help control pests.

The farmer said to the boll weevil "I see you're on the square"
Boll weevil said to the farmer "Say yep! My whole darn family's here"
(We gotta have a home, gotta have a home)

The boll is the seed pod with a cushy material surrounding the seeds.  Way back and long ago (like 6000 BC) some enterprising person figured out the cushy material could be spun and woven into fabric.  Here's a Bonus! cotton bolls come in different colors – brown, pink, green, blue and yellow.  Who knew!

And speaking of the Malvaceae family – do you enjoy hibiscus tea?  I do.  I decided, once upon a time, to try to grow the type of hibiscus tea is made from.  Another did you know ….. there are more than 300 species of plants go by the name “hibiscus,” but only roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa var.) have the edible calyces surrounding the red fruits that make tea.  It’s a fairly hand’s-on plant needing a specific amount of composting, fertilizing, pruning, and general petting to produce.  Unfortunately, my planting attitude leans toward “Grow damnit or I’ll jerk you out of the ground and throw you on the burn pile”(Of course, this could be why I am not a farmer – lack of patience.)


It's a perennial in subtropic areas or can be grown in a container if you live in the cold part of the universe.  It’s something a little different to plant.  My plant did moderately well, produced enough of the fruits for a couple of pitchers of tea.  Unfortunately the following year we had THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2017 and it drown.

Obviously you can tell that there’s nothing fun going on here as I am talking about odds and ends.

I have my next Earth Lab at Hesed House coming up soon.  While the program should be good and interesting, I am currently in a state of total panic about “will anyone actually show up???” 

You should come!

Guess I’ll close for today before my brain spits out any other weird plant stuff.


 

1 Jul 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Habits and Other Things

  

Habits are funny things – right?  For instance, when I was president of our garden club, I suggested we move our Thursday 9:30am meeting to Saturday around 10am. 


And, was light-sabered down for my suggestion.

OH NO! Saturday is the weekend!!

Yes, it is a weekend day BUT everyone that comes to the Thursday morning meeting is retired – right?  And, if we move it to a once-a-month Saturday or even an every other month meeting, we might be able to entice younger people to join – right?  And, as a retired person, Saturday is pretty much like every other day – right?

I lost that battle.

Of course, I’m just as bad.  Again, for instance …  When I was a stay-at-home mom, I did housework, laundry, etc during the week, keeping the weekend open for “fun family stuff”.  Then, as things changed and I had to go to work full-time, I tried to keep most Saturdays open for “fun stuff” and on Sunday, I cleaned house, did laundry, etc. 


I maintained this schedule for more years than not.  And, then I retired. 

How, you ask, did I spend this past Sunday and 98% of every other Sunday?


We have had an unseasonably hot spring and early summer.  Temperatures in the 90’’s in April, upper 90’s in May and 100’s in June.  Ugh.  And, no rain.  Double ugh!  The “no rain” is worse than the hot temps.  We usually average nearly 50” of rain here.  Now, I don’t have official numbers but I’m thinking at ½ way through the year, we’ve had less than 10” of rain.  I already lived in the desert.  I moved away from there to be back in the wet part of the universe. 


I’m worried somebody teleported this part of TX to AZ.  

I have been tasked with trying to encourage the rain by dancing around, shaking my rain stick while making incantations and requests of various rain goddesses.  


I think it worked.  Yesterday, things changed.  By that I mean, yesterday it rained.  As in poured-down-rain-sideways.  We also had what felt like 50 mph winds.  Everything in my yard blew over.  The positive - we got 2+ inches of rain.  I wouldn’t mind more rain though not so much wind.

Today is my birthday.  It’s a big number birthday – 75.  I’m not worried about that number yet.  Recently a friend sent me this –

A large population study found the ability to balance on one foot for more than ten seconds was associated with a lower mortality rate.

Translation: if you can stand on one foot, for more than 10 seconds, you’ll likely live longer. 

I can do that.

I know I have been quiet blog-wise.  Reason?  I know nothing of any great interest.  So, I’ll share a few things that make me smile. 







And finally -



28 Jun 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022

Tomato Fest – 2022

  

And, now, more information about The Wharton Garden Club’s Tomato Fest 2022 and tomatoes, than you might want to ever know. 


Personally, I am certain each and everyone out in blogland is eagerly awaiting all the glorious information.  Onward

A short history –

I moved to Wharton in 2004.  The big question I’m always asked is - - - WHY?  Well because it was the location my husband and I could agree on.  I wanted to move one place; he another; this was the compromise.  ANYWAY, in an effort to meet people and become a part of the town, I joined the garden club in 2004 and by 2007, I was president.  Believe me when I tell you it was not because any ambition on my part.  Simply “young blood” willing to help in any way.  My VP, decided we needed to extend our meetings from September – May to September – June and add a tomato contest. 

And voilĂ  the WGC Tomato Fest was born.

Originally it was a taste test.  Everyone brought tomatoes, we cut them in small chunks, then all the members  tasted each entry and voted on The Best Tasting Tomato in Wharton County.

Then, in 2020 The Plague struck


and we canceled. 

When we started up again, 2021, the Tomato Fest changed from Best Tasting to a Beauty Contest.  After the 2021 festivities, the inventor – the father – the host – the Master of Ceremonies Extraordinaire announced he would be retiring (primarily because he was moving across the universe to the east side of Houston).  End of History.

Somehow, I got snookered into taking on the 2022 Tomato Fest.  I decided on a Beauty Contest again and promptly called the “Father of the WGC Tomato Fest” and begged, pleaded, beseeched, implored, cried (maybe even produced a tear or two), possibly threatened a little him to come back and be, once again, the Master of Ceremonies.  He agreed – YAY! 


This year was The Tomato Fest of the Most and we had three major categories – Cherries and Smaller (Most Beautiful, Most Ugly, Most Unusual); Not a Cherry (Most Beautiful, Most Ugly, Most Unusual, Most Juicy), and Size (Most Big by Weight, Most Small by Size). 

Sadly, THIS YEAR has been a terrible growing season.  Here on the Gulf coast plains, we can and do plant our tomatoes early – like late February.  It’s usually a bit of a gamble – plant too early and we might be surprised by a devastating freeze; too late and it will get too hot to quickly and the tomatoes won’t produce.  Late February is usually good, however this year we had a very late freeze in early March.  Only lasted a day or so BUT, I swear to god, the very next week it turned 90°.  Argh!  This was not conducive to growing many and lots of tomatoes.

We did have entries – more than I thought we’d have; fewer than I hoped we’d have


Most Big, Most Small. 

In past years, the First Place Winners were awarded this -


Well, okay but don’t those things just get stuck in some book someplace??  I decided on something else.  THIS year, each First Place Winner got this

Yep, a perfect tomato that will last forever!

Hold on, we’re getting close to the end.

A Few Fun Facts
1 Tomatoes are world’s most popular fruit. With annual production of 60 million tons, they remain the world’s most demanded and most popular fruit.
2 According to the US Dept of Agriculture, there are over 25,000 varieties of tomatoes!
3 Ohio has declared the tomato as the State Fruit.  However, the state of New Jersey has made the tomato as its State Vegetable.  And finally, Arkansas considers the tomato as both its State Fruit AND State Vegetable. 
4 The tomato is a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato, tobacco, and the highly toxic belladonna.
5 Tomatoes can keep longer if you store them with their stem down.  Who knew???

So what do the tomato experts say helps plants product the best tomatoes?
1 Baking soda naturally sweetens the taste of tomatoes. It’s perfect to add as a fertilizer throughout the season and can be mixed into the soil at planting time also.
2 Aspirin will actually help your tomato plants grow. The salicylic acid in aspirin will protect your plants from blight and other diseases.  Put 2 or 3 tablets in with your plant.
3 Eggshells! The high calcium content in the shells will ensure you grow the best tomatoes and keep them well fed with all the calcium they need for the whole season.

And finally, a couple of tomato jokes –

Does Santa like to grow tomatoes?
YES -- he gets to hoe, hoe, hoe!

Do tomatoes and potatoes have anything in common?
O course - Toes.

What did Arnold Schwarzenegger say to his tomato seeds after watering them for the first time?
You’ve been germinated.

(aren’t you sorry you weren’t here for the Fest and fun????)

 


(okay – think about it – it might take a minute or so ………)

 

13 Jun 2022