Sunday, April 28, 2019

How Does My Garden Grow

Another morning spent in the yard, whipping it into shape because, as we say here,

Summer is Coming.

And, god knows, it will be here sooner than we’d like. 

As most mornings are this time of the year, I planned a work in the yard morning until it is too hot or I’m done (ha! like that ever happens – my getting done).

Yesterday my sister and I visited a local nursery looking for something-I-don’t-know-what.  Well, that was me – Ellen had a list.  And, nothing appealed to me – okay, that’s not true.  Several things appealed to me.  I just didn’t want to spend as much as was being asked. 

A bit later, Ellen mentioned that her purple coneflowers had jumped the flowerbed and were coming up in the grass.  Hmmmm – I like purple coneflowers.  That would be good for one of the two empty planters.  And, maybe zinnias in the other – even though they’re annuals, they grow well all summer and can deal with our sun and humidity. 

Out I went early with the first stop at my sister’s house where I dug coneflowers up out of the grass.  Yay!  Then back home.

Purple Coneflowers.  Are a native perennial.  They attract bees and butterflies.  They are drought resistant and often thrive in dry summers, but here they do best in morning sun as our afternoon sun will scorch the paint off cars!  They grow in any type of soil.  In the winter, they might die back to the ground but will pop back up come spring.  In long past days, coneflower was used to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malarial infections, blood poisoning, and diphtheria.  Nowadays, it is used to reduce the effects of common cold and flu, soothe sore throat, and reduce fever.  Added bonus - carrying coneflower will provide inner strength during trying times. It can also be grown around the house or brought into a house and placed in a vase to draw prosperity into the home and protect the family from suffering from poverty.  All good things.

What else is going on in my yard???

Nasturtiums.  Now, I’ve planted them several times because I like the way they look in pictures as bushy plants for borders and edges, trailing plants for walls and containers, and as climbers.  Never happens here.  While they are supposed to be grown in full sun (at least 6 hours’ worth), they don’t like our full sun come July.  So, this year I planted them in both sun and bright shade.  We’ll see.  I’m not really encouraged though.  This is such a good garden plant - the leaves and flowers are edible and have a peppery tang, even the seed pods can be pickled as a substitute for capers.  They are good companion plants, attracting hover flies, which will destroy aphids, deter stripped pumpkin beetles, repel cabbage pests and squash bugs.  And they make pretty flowers that look very cool in salads or stuffed with cream cheese or egg salad as snacks.

The Star Jasmine is looking spectacular this year.  As it happens, I sort of, uhmmm, stole a cutting.  Couple years ago, I was walking the neighborhood and saw a jasmine struggling in the yard of a deserted house.  So, I snipped of a cutting.  Rooted it and this year it looks its best!  And, smells wonderful.  Actually, star jasmine isn’t a real jasmine.  True Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family (Oleaceae) while star jasmine is considered to be a member of the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family, which also includes natal plum, frangipani (or Plumeria) and oleander. 

The Gardenias are beautiful.  Actually, this picture was taken at the abandoned house next door.  My gardenia never looks like that because as soon as the buds open, I pick them and bring them inside.

What else – well,

The Plumbago is blooming

As well as the Barbados Cherry


 And these things – that I don’t know what they are
they came with the house.

And, finally, today is National Superhero Day.  “It's time to put on your best cape, mask, cowl, or spandex and celebrate the characters that inspire us all to be better than we ever imagined (and use superpowers to do it!).” 

28 Apr 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Eat a bullfrog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen!

This was another of THOSE mornings.  Awake at 4am and up, dressed, and ready to face the world before 5.  By 6, I had done my exercises, dealt with clocks, dishes, and various household tasks.  And, it was still dark outside!  Ugh.

Then, I decided to try to figure out why I’m having problems with the wifi/apple tv box.  Now, my tv hangs on the wall and trying to see where things should plug in is somewhere between difficult and impossible.  But, I did finally plug the apple tv into a different port, plug/unplug, move the little black box to see if that makes a difference and stood up.  And, wacked my head on the shelf above the tv. 

Ouch! Owie, Owie, Owie!  Owowowowow.

Honest to god, I saw stars for a few seconds.  And, came away with a lump the size of a grapefruit.  Ok, maybe not the size of a grapefruit; maybe closer to the size of a key lime.  But it hurt grapefruit size. 

A bit later, I walked out to the garage.  Actually, I was looking for a hammer but I got side-tracked by two big spider webs that were trying to cover part of the tool table and the stairs handrail.  I have a spider problem in the garage.  They love it there.  I keep telling them – outside is better.  First, I won’t be destroying the webs and second, there are more bugs out there.  Nobody listens to me.  So, I got the broom and swept down the webs.  Then, I decided to give a quick sweep to the floor and dislodged a giant water bug (hey, I live in the south – we just have to deal with them).  Without thinking about it, I chased it down, lifted my injured left foot and SMACK stomped down on bug and cement floor.  Hurt – ohmigod – that hurt.

Then I went inside the house and sat down and cried for a few minutes.

Okay – these three things constitute my bullfrog for the day.  Now, things are going to get better.

Today is Estate Sale Thursday!  And, my sister and I headed out to a local estate sale to see what there was to see.

I get an email from the company that handles local estate sales and she wrote that the owner had been an “avid” golfer.  Uh huh. 

Avid:  characterized by enthusiasm and vigorous pursuit

Obsessive:  excessive often to an unreasonable degree

And, of course, there were hundreds of golf ‘T’s and golf club sox (or club covers or whatever they’re called), and golf gloves and golf hats.  Somebody liked to play golf.

Then, there were these.  I wonder if these were used to settle any disputes about “avid” and “obsessive”.

25 Apr 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Ok, I worry about people sometimes.  I worry for the future of the universe, because people seem to . . .  uhmmm, not be getting smarter (trying really hard to not say dumber or stupid or complete idiots).

So, the other night, someone was mowing the field across the street, with a riding mower, in the dark, with a parked car’s headlights illumining the field, and with several young children playing chase around the riding mower.  Oh, and there is a huge flood drain in the middle of the field.  I was waiting for the mower to fall in and wind up in the river.  Really??

Today, while on the way to the library, I passed our local CVS.  Lots going on – huge fire engine, several police cars, couple sheriffs’ cars, driveways all blocked.  Checked the news then I got home.  Apparently, four individuals broke in to the CVS in the early morning hours.  Then, three of them got trapped in the store’s ceiling, I assume in an effort to 1. Escape or 2. Hide.  For a time, the police thought one suspect had managed to climb into one of the outside columns in an effort to hid.

Though later it was determined that he also was hiding in the ceiling.  And again, really??

I generally look at the news feed in the mornings.  This mornings top stories –

Impending 2020 election problems – don’t tell Trump

Sir Lanka bombings on Easter

Airplane problems

Sexually abused boy scouts

and finally

Kim Jong Un and Putin meeting (nothing could possibly go wrong there)

I skipped the rest of the news and went right to my email and found 23 spams in the folder – nothing else, just spam.

I’ll tell you – handbasket, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket!

Ok, I’m going to retreat from this reality to see what Stephanie Plum is doing in the newest book.

24 Apr 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Earth Day and Other Stuff

Yesterday was Earth Day – the time for people of our world to work together to solve climate change, end plastic pollution, protect endangered species and broaden, educate, and activate the environmental movement across the globe.  And, I hope someone in control of the universe is actually trying to accomplish all those things.  I hate to think what kind of world my great grandchildren will inherit, otherwise. 

To celebrate Earth Day, I picked up all the trash others throw out their windows along my part of the street.  Grrrrrr – I do hope people that litter spend their after-life having to pick up trash 24/7.  I also walked my neighborhood to see what others have growing in their yards. 

Spent some time working in my own yard – mostly doing small stuff – picking up all the sticks and branches the pecan trees throw down with every small puff of wind, small amounts of weeding, planting, repotting, and generally enjoying the outside.

This year my passion vine is finally growing with vigor.  Last year it was still coming back from the GREAT FLOOD OF 2017.  I hope to have flowers this year.  And, I did find this fellow happily munching leaves.

One day soon, this will be a Gulf Fritillary

And other stuff . . .

Last week was one of those difficult weeks that just make you tired, frustrated, prickly.  I got the 2nd pair of custom orthotics.  Long drive over to Victoria – “here you go and good bye” – long drive home.  Don’t help.  Actually, make the problem worse quicker.  Argh!  Had more than one testy phone conversation.  Double Argh!  My internet service is acting up.  Argh, Argh, Argh!!!  The wind blew – no gentle April breezes, no, no we’re talking about blow-over-everything-in-the-yard wind.  My windchimes about tied themselves into knots.  Just STOP – aarrrggghhh!! 

Sunday, however, was nice.  My daughter came over from Katy and my two Texas grandchildren drove over from San Antonio.  My friend Bobby came in from Boling and we all had a nice lunch and chit-chat time.  Everyone got hit on the head with a Cascarone.  Good luck, you know.  I had confetti in my hair the rest of the day!

While rooting around in a closet, I found a Squirrel Feeder, Michael had made years ago.  I know, why would you want to feed them, pests that they are.  Normally, you’d put an ear of dry corn on the nail but I didn’t have any of that.  So, I tried an apple.  The squirrels ignored it for 2 days and then ….  Cool – maybe they’ll leave my birdfeeder alone!

Today is English Muffin Day.  That’s good – I like English muffins.  And, just in case you’re curious -

American muffins are baked breads in small tins while “English” Muffins are something else.  The batter is put into a ring mold resting on a griddle, allowed to rise, and then it is browned on one side, flipped over and cooked on the other.

If you order an English muffin in England, you’d probably get a funny look – order a crumpet – that’s a bit closer.

The bread we recognize as an English muffin is actually an American original.  Samuel Bath Thomas opened his bakery in New York in 1880 after perfecting the recipe.

While Thomas was the first to create the English muffin as we know it, the style of bread — a round, yeast-risen bread cooked in a ring mold on a griddle — dates back 1,000 years.

Hmmmm – think I’ll add English muffins to my grocery list.

23 Apr 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Big Sleep

I just hate it when I wake up at 3AM and 10 minutes later realize I am AWAKE.  Usually it happens when something is worrying (stressing, frustrating, irritating) me.  As for myself, if going back to sleep is an option, it happens within minutes.  Otherwise, my brain starts opening all the doors to the rooms marked – Mistakes and Other Idiocies. 

OK, I might need to explain that remark – I picture the inside of my brain as a long, narrow corridor with doors along both sides.  The doors are marked with different memories.  Mostly, the doors stay closed unless I want to revisit something.  However, at times, the stupid-things-done doors pop open and all those memories flood out to the corridor.  Then, my choice is to wallow in despair or get up.  I get up.

As I was reading the news feed (at 430AM), I came across an article on sleep myths – yes or no.  Appropriate for up, dressed, and ready for the world at 430AM. 

So, Did You Know?

1 More sleep is always better (no, you really can sleep too much and harm your health)

2 Taking a nap in the afternoon can fix insomnia (actually, if you sleep long enough to enter a REM or deep sleep cycle, it can mess up your body clock even more)

3 It’s better to have a warm than cool bedroom (no, you sleep better in cooler temps).

4. Adults need five or fewer hours of sleep (no, not if you want to function at your best during the day, not be sick, be mentally strong; for that you need 7 to 10 hours of sleep each night)

5. It’s healthy to be able to fall asleep ‘anywhere, anytime (no, this is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep and you’re falling into ‘micro sleeps’ or mini-sleep episodes, your body is so exhausted that whenever it has a moment, it’s going to start to repay its sleep debt.)

6. Drinking alcohol before bed helps you fall sleep (yes/no alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it traps you in the lighter stages of sleep and dramatically reduces the quality of your rest at night)

7. Not sleeping? Stay in bed with eyes closed and try and try (no, it takes a healthy sleeper about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re tossing and turning much longer than that, you should get out of bed, change the environment and do something else – hence being up at 430AM)

8. Watching TV in bed helps you relax (no, these devices emit bright blue light, and that blue light is what tells our brain to become alive and alert in the morning therefore avoid blue light before bed, from sources like a television or your smartphone, and do things that relax you)
     NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine

Well, I thought it was interesting.

I drove to Victoria today for, what was, my last visit with the foot doctor.  Got the new orthotics.  Noooo – didn’t see the DR or nurse, just “here they are and goodbye”.  I’m not feeling confident.

We are supposed to get rain today so, I’m going to try to finish reading
Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir.  Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry VIII (Katherine of Aragon #1 and Anne Boleyn #2).

“Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir draws on new research for her captivating novel, which paints a compelling portrait of Jane and casts fresh light on both traditional and modern perceptions of her. Jane was driven by the strength of her faith and a belief that she might do some good in a wicked world.”

Normally I enjoy historical novels based on real people, but this one has been tedious.  It’s 500-odd pages.  My biggest criticism is – it could be at least 100 pages shorter if the author didn’t repeat the same words over and over.  But Jane was not as dynamic as her two predecessors so I guess the author has to throw in words, words, words to reach the desired number of pages. 

And, finally


Bat Appreciation Day occurs annually on April 17th, as they are now beginning to emerge from hibernation.  It is also an excellent time to learn about the role bats play in nature. One important reason to celebrate bats is that they can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.

I am all in favor of that!

17 Apr 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Butterflies and Frogs and Twits

April is National Frog Month.  So, I shall start by copying an idea from my sister’s blog.  She posted, recently, some very cute pictures of the little frogs that live in her yard. 

Me too!  I have frogs . . . .

It is also International Twit Award Month.  Who knew?  Certainly, the choice of candidates for the Twit Award is large – many should receive the prize.

Over the past many days, I have worked my butt off in the yard.  Up and out before 8AM; work 3-5 hours; I have come to the conclusion, I DON’T WANT TO WORK THIS HARD ANY MORE – I AM DONE!  Actually, I have gotten 95% of the things on my list of projects done.  Yea!  I’m still working on spray painting furniture but that’s not really hard work.  A bit frustrating because of the wind which has been blowing about 20 mph and ringing all my windchimes, bells, knocking over plants, making spray painting impossible, grrrrr, but, if it’s easy, it’s no fun.  (FYI – at 7AM the wind fan hasn’t been turned on yet.  So far, the best time to paint.)

Something I just discovered – my butterfly bush had filled out and started to bloom a couple of days or so ago.


Today, it looks like this

See the bare sticks, that’s it.

All because of this . . .

Future Monarch

Yes, it will come back and probably be stripped clean again.  But the end result is worth it!

16 Apr 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

There’s no place like home …

In recent weeks, I have taken several drives to view

“The 2019 Texas Wildflower Season --- the Best One in 10 Years”

Only to find few and fewer wildflowers.  Boo hoo.  That is until returning to big W to find


Now, there is just no graceful way to go tromping around in someone’s front yard to take pictures of pink primrose (forever, buttercups to me), so that photo, taken from the street, will have to do.  However, the field of bluebonnets was a different story.

Adventuring in wildflowers!  My friend spied this field and we made plans to visit it.  Yes, there were bluebonnets but, there was also much more . . . .

And, are these creamy white flowers not just beautiful.  Yes!  Did I touch it?  No.  A good thing as it turned out because this is

Texas Bull Nettle – a plant very capable of defending itself from herbivores and unwary admirers of wildflowers.  While the flowers themselves are mostly harmless, the remainder of the plant is loaded with a lot of hurt in the form of tiny threads which contain histamine, folic acid plus other chemicals all of which can cause a mild to severe and painful skin irritation.  Now, there are several antidotes – you, or a close friend, can pee on the injured area.  Weird, yes but something in the urine reacts chemically and soothes the pain instantly on contact.  Or you can try a tobacco and spit poultice.  You can also try baking soda and water, making a paste for the affected area.  Now just so you don’t include this with “noxious weeds to be exterminated forever”, it has a long history of use as medicine. Extracts can be used to treat arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and pain. Fresh nettle is used in folk remedies to stop bleeding.  And, parts are edible – the seeds can be eaten raw; the root baked like a potato.

 Herbertia is a Texas native perennial commonly found in prairies, meadows, pastures, and untended lawns of older homes.  It’s a good source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.  It is often mistakenly called trillium, but no, we can’t grow those here – too hot and humid.

Texas Prickly Poppy, is a small erect plant with a beautiful white flower.  It has been used for long years for different things.  The oil of this white prickly poppy was used as a fine lubricant during WWII.  It also exudes a yellow latex that, in past days, was used to remove warts, treat cold sores and other skin problems.  A concoction could also be made from the flower to treat congestion from the cold or the flu.  The seeds were used as an emetic to induce vomiting or as a laxative or even as a mild sedative.  The entire plant can also be used to treat bladder infection, prostate pain, or to help the pain of migraine.  A wash made from the tea can also be used to help heal sunburns. However, if not used properly, it can be very toxic, so take care.

 Skullcap, is a hardy perennial herb native to the Northern Hemisphere. It is a member of the mint family.  Blue skullcap and common skullcap are mainly known for their traditional use for treatment of anxiety, as a sedative and a diuretic.  

This one we had a hard time identifying but finally decided on Purple Vetch.  A member of the pea family, vetch fixes nitrogen and can be grown as a cover preceding late spring-planted crops.  It is a native, drought-tolerant climbing vine excellent for sunny and partially shady locations.  Again, in past days pods, seeds, and leaves of were used as food.  A poultice of the leaves has been used to treat spider bites; an infusion of the plant has been used as eyewash.  It was also used as a panacea, an aphrodisiac, and a good luck charm.  Mostly you find Purple Vetch in warm locations as it cannot survive frost below 15° F.

Another I had never seen this before - Plains Wild Indigo.  Another member of the pea family, it has a long history of medicinal use.  An ointment made from the ground seeds was applied to the stomach for the treatment of colic.  A tea made from the roots was used in the treatment of typhoid and scarlet fever.  The leaves are astringent and were applied externally to wounds, cuts, bruises, etc.  Recent research suggests that the plant can stimulate the immune system.  However, this plant is toxic to livestock.

Huisache Daisy, also called Honey Daisy and Butterfly Daisy because, according to naturalists, its crushed leaves smell a little like honey.  This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds and the flowers are slightly fragrant.

Yellow Thistle, this is a native North American species of plants in sunflower family.  It can be found from New England to Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma as well as to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Bahamas.  It’s many uses include as an infusion of the leaves and root in whiskey used as an astringent, or taken to clear phlegm from lungs and throat. You can eat the tender, white heart of the plant raw.  And, in a pinch, use it to make blowgun darts.  It attracts butterflies (and is the larval host for the Painted Lady) and bees, making it a good addition to a butterfly garden. 

 No, not an unusual wildflower – just me trying to convince the flower to hold still or the wind to just stop for a minute or so!

12 Apr 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

And the beat goes on . . . . .

one I had planned that today I would make my last trip to the foot doctor because

I don’t think anything he’s doing is helping

I have a hefty co-pay for each visit

It’s a long drive to/from to see him and visits are usually a whopping 15 minutes long, including wait time.

In my opinion, his staff exaggerated the whole orthotics legend – from what they fix (heel pain, bunions, neuropathy, the swish of your hips, how your bra fits) to the availability of shoe types the orthotics will work with (you can wear them with sandals, all your dress shoes, four-inch heels any type as long as it’s not an open heel!).  Yeah – no – doesn’t fit in any shoes except these and I’m not wearing these all summer – THEY ARE HOT!

However, today the DR said these orthotics are not working so he was going to, at no added expense, have another set made that are flexible and have a padded heel.  Okaaay – one more trip.

two “And another one gone, and another one gone; Another one bites the dust, yeah”

Yesterday I finished another flower bed!  Wahooo!  This was the amaryllis flower bed.  Amaryllis are very prolific and they had reached the point of growing on top of themselves.   So, I dug them all out, separated them, enlarged the flower bed, replanted about half of them and reinstalled the edging.  Three hours of work but well worth it!

three I wonder, sometimes, about odd things – like spam.  You know, the kind that shows up in your email spam box.  I check the spam box time to time because occasionally things show up there that are not spam.  So, I wonder - how does it all seem to be the same stuff at the same time. 

Like for instance, right now I’m getting all sorts of offers for home loans, home improvement loans, GET UP TO $15,000 EASY PEASY and home improvement offers, like remodel your bathroom, reroof your house, SAVE ENERGY, GET NEW WINDOWS.  

Last month it was Girls, Girls, Girls, - Green, Purple, Blue Orange – whatever you want – Girls, Girls, Girls.  Oh, and Adult dating.

Then, the month before that – drugs oyez, oyez, oyez, get yer drugs here (mostly Viagra).   

General weirdness in the computer universe.

three . 5  Another thing I wonder about . . .

Horse Galoshes.  We saw them at an estate sale recently.  And, they were priced individually – each was $3.  So, why would you only want one.  Poor little horsie, hopping around on one foot in the rain and mud.  And how, on gods green earth, would you get the horse to stand still long enough to put on such a thing.  It was hard with a 20 lb child much less a bazillion lb horse. 

four I like clocks.  And, I have several, all ‘tick-tock’ and many bing or bong or chime and one that sings songs.  And, I think they all have a mind of their own.  Doesn’t seem to matter what the level says – ahoy! all level here; start with the tick tockingno. 

One in particular insisted on sitting in a corner of the kitchen.  Well, fine until I had to move it to the table by the sofa.  No, no tick-tock.  O-K!  Moved it several other places.  No, no tick-tocking.  FINE!  DON’T TICK, JUST SIT THERE AND LOOK CLOCKISH!  Then, today I had to move it again for (just for a week or so).  Set it in the middle of my desk and tick, tock, tick, tock.  Really??? In the middle of the desk?  Could it be just a little more awkward? 

Well, I should go outside and work in the yard BUT it’s after 3pm and we’re having summer out there right now so instead I’m going to get my book, a glass of herb tea, take off the hot shoes and see what’s happening in Pecan Springs.

9 Apr 2019