Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice, First day of Summer, Litha

Today is the longest day of the year – the Summer Solstice.  Although the hottest days of summer are still ahead of us (ugh), from today onward, the days will grow shorter until the arrival of the Winter Solstice in December. 

It is also the celebration of the fire festival, Litha.  The day to recognize the protective, healing, empowering, revitalizing, and inspiring power of the sun.  In days long past, people would light bonfires to honor the Sun God and Earth Mother.  Farmers would ask for blessings on their cattle and crops.  The Earth Mother, who represents the earth, is pregnant with the crops that will ripen and bring life to the people.  The Sun God nurtures the crops while they grow.

At noon today, light a candle – fire represents the sun – to bring light to any dark places.  Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.  Make a bouquet of mugwort, rose, honeysuckle, lilies, lavender, ivy, yarrow, fern, daisies and set them inside where you can enjoy their beauty.

During this time, it is was also believed that fairies, elves, and sprites come out and play amongst the humans.

So, tonight set out a small bowl of milk and some berries to welcome them to your garden.  Doesn’t hurt.  Weirder things happen, you know.

So, Did You Know?

The term "solstice" is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because the Sun's relative position in the sky at noon does not appear to change much during the solstice and its surrounding days.

In Paganism and Wicca, the solstice is celebrated with a festival known as Litha. In ancient Europe, the festival involved rolling giant wheels lit on fire into bodies of water to symbolize the balance between fire and water.

Each year on the summer solstice, the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks celebrate their status as the most northerly baseball team on the planet with a game that starts at 10:00 p.m. and stretches well into the following morning—without the need for artificial light—known as the Midnight Sun Game. The tradition originated in 1906 and was taken over by the Goldpanners in their first year of existence, 1960.

Legend has it that it was on the summer solstice in 1633 that Galileo was forced to recant his declaration that the Earth revolves around the Sun; even with doing so, he still spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

Some people confuse the solstice with an equinox however an equinox occurs when day of night are of equal length and the sun is directly above the equator, which occurs twice each year and marks the beginning of spring and fall.

Although summer solstice marks the beginning of summer, for us, it is not the hottest time of the year. The hottest temperatures usually occur in late July and August.  (double ugh)

One more, then I’m done . . . .

On Uranus, each summer solstice lasts for 42 years. This also means that each winter solstice lasts the same amount of time. 

21 Jun 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday I worked in the yard.  Finally couldn’t stand it anymore and got out there by 8am and cut back shrubs, pulled weeds, picked up pecan tree branches, repotted a couple of things (one of which the ants – grrrrrrrrr – had climbed into), dug a trench for the last part of a flowerbed border, and made a bazillion trips from one side of the yard to the other dumping armloads of yard trash over the fence.  Also rearranged the location of some of the sun getting potted plants.  As the summer goes on, I tend to move plants from full sun to partial to shade.  Keeps them from drying out so badly, they look dead by noon. 

I should get all sorts of ATTA GIRL’s !

I came in at 10am, a dripping, dirt covered mass of wet-to-the-skin human and pretty much did nothing else strenuous for the rest of the day. 

The mosquitoes are terrible outside.  Ick!  This year I’ve invested in the newest miracle mosquito killer available at our local feed store. 

Consists of two plastic tubes filled with some sort of magical mosquito killer/repeller. 

You add water, hang the tubes at the furthest distance from each other and away from any people places and - bippity, boppity, boom – no, or at least, fewer mosquitoes.  I’ll let you know.

A few more things blooming in my yard.

This hibiscus bloom is, I kid you not, 9 inches across.  It’s bigger than my hand!  A friend gave me a cutting he started last summer and this year it is full of blooms.

The Devils Trumpet (Datura) is in full bloom also.  Datura was used (in the way back times) in shamanistic rituals as a path to enlightenment.  Occasionally in these modern times, idiot people experiment with it for the hallucinogenic effect, but the results are very bad (dark visions, disorientation, amnesia, blurred vision, dry mouth, and incontinence).  Plus, an overdose can result in death.  Never a good thing.

The Althea has finally started to bloom.  So, Did You Know? the flowers and young leaves can be eaten - added to salads or stuffed and fried. The roots and stem also secrete mucilage, which is used to soften the skin.  Medicinally, the root has been used since Egyptian antiquity in a honey-sweetened confection for the treatment of sore throat.  Later, the French made something called pâte de guimauve, which included an egg white whipped to meringue and flavored with rose water. Pâte de guimauve resembles todays marshmallows (which no longer contain any actual marshmallow in them).  The root also can be used for cleaning hand-dyed rugs.  It is considered the best method to preserve the vibrancy of vegetable dyes used in coloring the wool.

The two demon kittens are busy as they can be much of the time. Today they found my pile of “papers to be shredded at some point when I’m bored” and tumbled them all over the floor.  The picture looks like a ball of gray fluff but it’s the boys jumping on each other.  Ohmmmmmm – I have lost my mind – ohmmmmmmm. 

This is what keeps me from popping their heads off and telling god they died ….. such cute babies!  If I sit down, both jump up and sit in my lap or rather one in my lap, the other on my chest!  (hmmmmm this might be a problem when they get to be 20 pounders!)

I have leave here shortly – annual visit to the cardiologist.  I have to go once a year, problems or no.  Otherwise he refuses to renew my heart meds (F I N E – once a year). 

Then, I’ve got a couple errands to do including getting kitten food.

Tomorrow is Estate Sale day.  Ellen and I are going to, what looks like, a very cool sale.  Of course, I’m expecting the prices to be sky-high but it will be fun to look.

19 Jun 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Strawberries and Vanilla and Other Stuff

Tonight is the Strawberry Full Moon, so named by the Algonquian speaking natives of North America.  No, the moon won’t look like a strawberry.  This full moon was the sign, that the time was right to harvest wild strawberries. 

According to scientists, this full moon is just a little more special because if you look just above the moon, you should be able to see Jupiter by using binoculars.  Pretty cool.

The moon has entered into Sagittarius, the sign of knowledge and wisdom.  So, tonight take advantage of the BME (Big Moon Energy), and center yourself, then identify those things important to you; those things not so much.  Write down something you want to rid yourself of and toss the paper into a fire or set alight by candle – an easy way to let go of hurts and angers.

Just remember – you never know what works!

I recently read Susan Wittig Albert’s new book – A Plain Vanilla Murder.  This is the most recent of the China Bayles series.  And I have mixed feelings about it.  Now, normally, I inhale the China Bayles books.  They’re entertaining and full of interesting herbal facts. 

“A professor of botany who has a great interest in vanilla has been murdered. The murder at first looks like a suicide, but it soon becomes clear that it is not. His ex-wife is the first suspect, of course. But then it turns out that the professor might have been involved in several shady dealings, perhaps smuggling or taking full credit where it should have been shared.”

I didn’t enjoy this one as much primarily because of the way it’s written.  Written from the point of view of both China and Sheila Dawson, Pecan Springs Chief of Police, the parts from Sheila’s point of view are all written in present tense – something I find uncomfortable reading.  However, as with all of Ms. Albert's books, it’s well done and the ending is a surprise.  There’s a lot of information about vanilla and the orchid the vanilla pods come from.  Plus there are all sorts of vanilla recipes.  So, I give it 4.689 out of 5 stars.  (Normally I’d give the China Bayles books a 6+ out of 5 stars.)

Another series of books I’ve recently read (and they are good “summer” reading as they are light, interesting, easy reads) are the Mary Kay Andrews (aka Kathy Hogan Trocheck), Callahan Garrity Books. 

This is a series that consists of 8 books.  Callahan Garrity is an ex Atlanta cop, now private investigator and owner of The House Mouse, a cleaning service.  Callahan finds herself involved in a number of murders and mysteries throughout the book series.  And, from her mother, Edna Mae to octogenarians Baby and Sister to white trash queen Neva Jean McComb, all the characters are funny, interesting, and eager to help Callahan in all her endeavors.  One of the reasons I like the primary character, Callahan, is that she’s not a gorgeous, shapely, 20-something but instead, she’s a middle-aged, out spoken woman.  (I do find all the buff, beautiful, bountiful, bombshells tiresome after a while.)

One more thing – today, June 17 is World Tessellation Day.  I had to look it up.  World Tessellation Day celebrates everyone who loves pattern -- natural pattern, man-made pattern, wallpaper pattern, art drawing pattern, manufacturing pattern – whatever. 


17 Jun 2019

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Near to the Sea …..

I woke up at 6am today and heard the sirens call. 

Come down to the beach . Come down to the beach

Actually, I’ve been hearing it for a month or more but the days seem to have gotten away from me.  Today, I heard it and was walking out the door by 8am.  The beach closest to me is Matagorda – about 40-odd miles south. 

Brief history lesson - Matagorda was established in 1827 when Stephen F. Austin obtained permission from Mexico to build a town for a group of 52 families.  By 1832 there were over 1400 residents.  It’s the third oldest town in Texas.  And, it’s the place where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico.

There are about 60 miles of beach there. The 20-odd miles east of the river is open to vehicles.   The beach west of the river is only accessible by boat, kayak, canoe or other watercraft.  And, in case you're one of  those beach treasure hunters,  the west beach has the best beachcombing because it’s isolated from the heavier traffic. 

Matagorda is a fisherman’s’ paradise.  Plus it has nice beaches that are not so crowded you trip over others just getting to the water.

Being the water sign that I am, I miss the sea breezes, the sound of the water, the cries of the birds, the sand, and the gulf itself.  I was there before 9am.

You can always tell when you’re at the beach
the houses are bright colors!

And, people have boats parked in front.

They have one of the nicest parks there complete with a covered pavilion, picnic tables, bbq pits, showers, bathrooms and plenty of free parking.  There is a sandy trail that leads down through the sand dunes to the actual beach.

I got out of the car and was almost immediately knocked over by the 25mph wind.  Still, left my hat in the car, made sure I was covered with sunscreen, and I headed for the path.

Which was flooded, so I turned around to the jetty pier and crossed over that way.

This is a really long bridge and is usually full of fisher folk but I guess the wind today discouraged most.  At the end of the bridge, there is a steep set of stairs that takes you to the jetty

where you hop from rock to rock until you can get to the beach.  Hop carefully because these rocks are covered with algae and water (yes, I did slip at one point but thank all the gods, didn’t actually fall which would have been ugly!). 

Then, I walked along the beach.  Spoke with all the water gods.  Let all stress float away.  And, generally soaked up as much “beach” as possible.  The water was rough today and the tides high so no beach treasures.  Still, just being near to the gulf was enough.

 And, then I came home

16 Jun 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

“Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits…”

I’ve been off the radar for the past several days.  Lots of little stuff going on. 

The other day, I walked into my bedroom to put something in the dresser . . .

I opened the third (3rd) drawer and . . . .


I have given up trying to keep them out of the trash basket beside my chair and I had to move the one in the bathroom. 

And, it’s summer, the cherries are for sale at the store!  Yea!  I usually keep a small bowl of them on the table beside my chair.  No more.  Today I found two in the kitty toy box.  About that time, I watched as Daryl walked over to the bowl, grabbed a cherry by the stem and walk over to the toy box.  Plop!

I ordered some seeds online last fall.  They’re for a specific type of hibiscus – Rosa hibiscus.  That’s the type hibiscus that is generally used for tea making.  Along with those seeds, the company sent along a free package of Cosmic Carrots.  They are purple on the outside and orange and yellow on the inside.  Pretty.  Since I am not a farmer, I gave them to my friend Bobby to plant in his garden.  Last time I was at his house, he dug up this one –

 Kinda puts a whole other spin on cosmic.

This past Sunday, my daughter and son-in-law arrived at my house.  They were going to drop off their two miniature Dachshunds.  Then they planned to drive to Galveston and spend a week soaking up sea air, water, and sand. 

Iris and Rose were to stay with me.  The only way I know how to tell who is which – the color of their collars.

They are good little girls but this has been their first trip away from mom and dad and home.  We’ve had a few abandonment issues.  I walk into the kitchen; they walk right behind me.  I walk into the bathroom – yep, right behind me.  I try to put them outside; they stand right at the door UNLESS I go outside with them.  They get along well with the kittens (who are not afraid of anything so far).  At night the girls sleep in a large kennel where they burrow under various blankets.  Last night I had to fish Zack out

I haven’t really gotten out to do any yard work.  Why?  Well – it’s HOT.  And humid.  And hot.  And, I’m tired of summer now.  Yes, I know, it hasn’t even started yet.  Plus, the mosquitoes are still terrible.  (Yeah, yeah - whine, whine, whine.)  Tomorrow though, I have to get out and pot up a few things my daughter wants to take home.  I plan on getting out there by 7am, after dipping myself in mosquito spray, and get everything ready to go. 

Even though I’ve been very neglectful, my herbs are looking good (I’m starting to pick and dry them now) and there are a few flowers blooming -

The Texas Star Hibiscus

The Plumerias are blooming.

As well as

Pink Turk’s Cap (which probably doesn’t count as
it is about ½ weed)

Day Lilies

Cane Begonia

Now, while I was taking a picture of the Angel Wing Begonia, I heard an odd noise.  Sort of a “burrrrrrrrk”.  I looked over and saw

A small herd of about 6 chickens scratching around in one of the beds.  Oh goodie.  They had come over from the house down the street for a late breakfast.

13 Jun 2019

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Things I know

Yesterday we got a little over 12 inches of rain in about 10 hours. 

It stopped around 2pm and by 4pm, the sky was blue and the water draining away. 

This morning about 6am, it started pouring down rain – again.  Fortunately, it stopped about 30 minutes later and once again blue skies.

Snakes don’t like flooding.  I found a little one in my garage today.  Took it outside and tossed it into the flower bed.

The mosquitoes are massing at both the back and front doors.  It is taking my life in my hands to walk out to the jungle in the back yard.
Yes! they are this big!

This week is:
National Lemonade Days: 1-9
National Sun Safety Week: 2-8 
Pet Appreciation Week: 2-8 
Hemp History Week: 3-9 
Great American Brass Band Week: 6-9  and,
Superman Days: 6-9

And, today is:
Atheists Pride Day
Drive-in Movie Day (are there even any drive-in movies places left?)  and,
YoYo Day

So, I’ll bet you think Donald Duncan was the inventor of the yo-yo.  You’d be wrong.  Yoyos have been around for over twenty-five hundred years.  In fact, the yoyo is considered the second oldest toy in history, the oldest being the doll. In ancient Greece, the toy was made of wood, metal and terra cotta.  Around 1800, the yo-yo became popular in Europe.  The British called it the bandalore or quiz. The French used the name incroyable or l'emigrette.  However, it is a Tagalog word, the native language of the Philippines, and means "come back".  In the Philippines, the yo-yo was used as a weapon for over 400 hundred years.  Their version was large with sharp edges and studs and attached to thick twenty-foot ropes for flinging at enemies or prey.

I went out to Boling the other day to see my friend Bobby.  He has a beautiful yard filled with all manner and sort of yuccas, cactus, and succulents.  Oh, and he has a wonderful garden. 


Purple Cosmic Carrots
(from the planet Larptimedindofinstein)

Sotol bloom spike

African Blood Lily

Now, I am fairly apolitical.  I don’t particularly get into heated discussions with others and I seldom say much about politics.  But, over the past few days I’ve found the first headline on my news feed somewhat alarming . . . .

 “Elite Hawkeye 'kill team' dispatched to London to guard Trump
President Trump is bringing his crack kill team with him for protection as he arrives in the UK today. The elite squad dubbed “Hawkeye” accompany the president ...”   (a ‘kill team’??? – really???)
Fox News                                                                              3 Jun

“Trump Insults London Mayor as ‘Loser’ as He Pays Tribute to the Queen
Mr. Trump carried on an ugly dispute with the mayor of London, whom he called a “stone cold loser” and said was doing a terrible job of running Britain’s capital city.”  (did his mother not teach him any manners?)
New York Times                                                                   4 Jun

“European allies made the D-Day landing at Normandy possible. 75 years later, Trump questions those bonds
President Donald Trump will take part in a tradition for modern presidents that dates back four decades when he stands at the edge of Omaha Beach in Normandy on Thursday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. But in a break with past U.S. presidents, he is unlikely to use his remarks in France to embrace institutions such as NATO that rose out of the ashes of the fighting. The American president has accused those institutions of "ripping off" the United States.”
USA Today                                                                            5 Jun

I think the ‘Ugly American’ is alive and well.  I’ve decided to not look at the news for a while.

And, finally  . . . I’ve had kittens all my life.  I like kitties.  I am raising two rowdy, unruly, boisterous, destructive small demons that do not listen to me at all.

6 Jun 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

FLOOD! AGAIN *&%^!!!#@^$%#&*

I woke up this morning at 4am, not to the soothing pitter patter of rain but a pounding downpour of water that was turned on full force.

Checked the vacant lot across the street.

Ugh – Lake Wharton is back.

Since then, it has progressed . . . .

See those 2 little fountain-looking things?

That’s the sewer backing up.

 And, slowly it creeps forward
Almost to the big tree in the front yard.

Now to the steps.  And, creeping into the garage.

At least the city has (sort of) blocked
off the street so the
stupid idiots, jerks, fools, dummies,
will STOP driving 40 mph through the water
washing it up further into the yard/garage!!!!!

I am not having fun today.

The only ones that seem happy are the frogs who are all singing their little hearts out!

5 June 2019

ps - it's 1010 now and the rain has stopped, thank all the gods and goddesses!  I"m considering doing a No Rain dance shortly!