Thursday, August 29, 2019

And still we are having "Summer time and the livin’" is HOT.

Ohmideargod – August is almost over.  Not that I’m upset that AUGUST is almost over because almost over means, almost cooler temperatures are on the horizon.  But, it also means another month has zipped by in this year of 2019.

Today is

USE More Herbs, Less Salt Day and the purpose is to encourage everyone to take a simple step to use less salt and more herbs.  Works for me!  And, since I don’t use pepper or chilies, I substitute herbs for those also.  There are all sorts of herbs that are bursting with flavor that can make foods tasty, like basil, bay, celery seed, dill seed & weed, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic, sage, mint, lemon balm, bay, oregano and, and, and. 

When I grow up, I want a house with a still room.  A still room is a distillery room and historically were found in most great houses and castles in medieval times.  Medicines, cosmetics and many home cleaning products were created, home-brewed beer, wine, and liqueurs made, and herbs and flowers preserved.  A still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.  I want one!

One like this is good – I don’t even mind the skeleton.

While outside watering, I made note of a couple of the new plants (that is, first time plants) I put in this spring.  They’re doing terrible.  Big heaving sigh

One is Lunaria or Moonwort.  I ordered seeds and they popped right up.  Then, in March, I planted them outside.  They did pretty well and I had high hopes of seeing this

 and then this

since everything I’d read about Lunaria said “easy to grow” and “require little to no attention” and “grows in any soil”.  Unfortunately, like most plants, their heat tolerance is not given.  Mine looks like this  (boo hoo)

This is the only one of 6 that has survived the heat and humidity.  I’m currently babying this one so I’m hopeful for next spring – blooms and seed pods (please, please, please). 

The other new herb I planted this year was Valerian.  Easy to grow likes full sun and rich soil and lots of water and, obviously hates our heat and humidity.  Grrrrr 

Remember my whining about the downed pecan tree branch.  Well, my friend came out to help with disposal.  He welded the chainsaw and I walked many trips over to the fence to dump everything in a pile for heavy trash.  We got it done in about 30 minutes!

Later in the day I went out and started picking up all the green pecans because, as my sister reminded me, the husks will dry up and open leaving what will look like a good pecan (they are not – they are rotten). 

When I went out early this morning, this guy was on the brick ledge watching me.  Always kinda weird seeing an alien at the backdoor.

And, just in case you need to know - today is also

According to Hoyle Day

Individual Rights Day

International Day Against Nuclear Tests

National Whiskey Sour Day

9 Aug 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

“Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.” Grave Peril by Jim Butcher.

You know, the day just has to get better when first thing in the morning, you see this—

Another huge pecan branch dropped off.  Really – I think pecan trees are not worth the nuts they produce.  This makes the third huge branch that particular tree has dropped in two months.  Honest to god, I’m going to have the damn thing cut down and the stump ground into the center of the earth!  Aaaarrrggghhh!!!

OK – I feel somewhat better now.  Guess I’ll be cutting up that (words fail me) branch this week.  Fortunately a friend has offered to help so between the two of us, we should be able to get it done pretty quickly.

Today, Aug 26, is National Toilet Paper Day (who do you think comes up with these things?)

Procter & Gamble's Charmin brand decided to celebrate by attempting the Guinness World Records title for largest toilet paper roll.  (allrightie then)

And just a few interesting (odd, weird, unusual) facts –

Americans use 50% more toilet paper than other Western societies.

Some interesting things have been used in place of toilet paper. Water, hay, corncobs, leaves, sticks, stones, sand moss, hemp, wool, husks, fruit peels, ferns, sponges, seashells, and broken pottery have all been used in the bathroom at one time or another.  (seashells?? broken pottery?? just how do you think someone knows this?)

Toilet paper was introduced in the US in 1857 when Joseph C. Gayetty began selling toilet paper with his name printed on each sheet. He marketed the brand as medical tissue for hemorrhoids.

Toilet paper is specially designed to decompose.  (well, that’s good since we use so much)

Global toilet paper production consumes 10 million trees each year.  (hmmm we might need to rethink the hay, leaves, wool, fruit peels ….)

During Desert Storm, the US Army used toilet paper to camouflage its tanks.

Okey dokey - onward . . . .

We finally got a little rain – about 0.02 inches according to a friend, not much but at this point, every little drop helps.  Of course, rain means the grass is going to grow and it will have to be mowed but the rest of the plants are happier.  And a couple of my day lilies have decided to bloom again (which is just odd all by itself). 

The Demon Duo are driving me bug-fuck-nuts!  They’ve just figured out how to get on top of the 6-foot bookcases.  The bookcases that have all sorts of things sitting on top of them.  All sorts of antique and/or glass things sitting on top of them.

They climb up the wooden Indian – aaaarrrrrggghh!

I spent time Sunday taking everything off the top of the bookcases.  Then, I had to move everything breakable on various other shelves they keep looking at with interest.  I worry about the ceiling fans because I watch them eyeing the fan blades and can see all the little wheels turning inside their heads.

“They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
To the funny farm
Where life is beautiful all the time
And I'll be happy to see those nice young men
In their clean white coats
And they're coming to take me away ha haaa”

People – I need reassurances.  Never mind that I’ve had cats my entire life.  These two are into more trouble than any I’ve had in the past 50 years!  Please – this will get better, right?  Soon??  Like tomorrow?

They were so cute when I got them ----

I do not know what happened!

26 Aug 2019

Friday, August 23, 2019

This week’s odds ‘n’ ends --

I’ve spent the past three days cooking.  Weird sounding, right?  After MHN died (and that’s been many years ago now), I discovered I had no idea how to cook for one person.  Of course, my brain wasn’t thinking completely coherently at that time which is probably the reason I resorted to frozen dinners – you know Stouffer’s and such.  After a couple of months, I discovered – they all taste the same- blech.  So, I invested in glass freezer dishes and started cooking meals for a family of four.  I usually fix four or five different meals, then, package them into single servings, label and pop them into the freezer.  This way, I have a variety of choices for several weeks.  Works for me.  The drawback is, as I grow older, standing for 4 or 5 hours a day during the cooking, cleaning up process is very hard on my feet, legs and back.  By the time I’m done, I’m done! 

All that rather useless information is my excuse for being so quiet, again.

Today, Aug 23, is Valentino Day.  Now, it could be a day to celebrate fashion designer Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, best known as just Valentino ---

But I prefer to think it is the day to celebrate

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926), known professionally as Rudolph Valentino, was an Italian actor based in the United States.  He starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik.

He's a hell of a lot prettier!

Honestly, I’m going to stop reading the news again. 

The Amazon rainforest is burning. Be afraid
The world is reacting in fear and outrage right now at the sight of what’s happening in the Amazon. NASA satellites show huge plumes of smoke drifting up from the burning forest; in Sao Paulo, the biggest city in the western hemisphere, night fell at 2 p.m. earlier this week when the smoke blotted out the sun.

Presiding over this debacle is the South American equivalent of Donald Trump, a blighted man named Jair Bolsonaro who won the presidency last year amidst rampant corruption and nationalism. He’s encouraged ranchers and loggers to “open up” the Amazon, and the flames are the natural result, as they burn the forest to create new pasture land for cattle or fields to grow soy. When challenged, he’s insisted that environmentalists must be setting the fires to make him look bad.  By BILL MCKIBBEN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |AUG 22, 2019 | 9:14 PM

and then –

President Donald Trump promoted himself as "the King of Israel" and "Second Coming of God" this week, later calling himself "the chosen one"  — all in the same day. He also floated the idea of maybe, possibly, potentially buying Greenland? All that happened, America.  Josh Hafner  ,USA TODAY•August 23, 2019

is it time to vote yet?  and just where are the white-coated funny farm guys?  the inmates are running the world!

The weatherman is teasing us with the possibility of rain.  So far, any rain has stopped at El Campo or passed us by in favor of Houston.  So, I go out every morning and water the plants and tell them to just be patient, it will get cooler, we will have rain (someday).  And, while I’m out there, I look over all the potted plants to make sure they are looking, at least mostly ok, check for serious heat problems, move them to different locations, etc.  EVERY DAY.  So far, they’ve all looked, not exactly alright but not thinking of turning toes up any minute and NONE HAVE HAD ANY BUDS.  This morning I looked out my kitchen window and what did I see???

See that little white dot out there?

That’s my Night Blooming Cereus – with the little white dot.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  Ran out and, yep! a beautiful fragrant bloom, still open in the morning!  On a plant that did not have any buds the day before.  Supreme weirdness going on.

And other than the Katie Ruellia (aka: Dwarf Mexican Petunia), nothing much else is happening in the yard. 

This is a good plant for those that like easy care and pretty blooms.  They are very adaptable and will tolerate wet and dry soils. They prefer full sun but will tolerate shade.  They can easily survive a light frost but will die back in a severe freeze.  However, come spring, they jump right up again.  They are disease and insect resistant.  And, they’re somewhat drought tolerant but will bloom best with regular watering.  One other thing – they’re really invasive so put them someplace they can have, forever because I'm pretty sure you can never get rid of them!

Well, today, I’m heading into the kitchen to fix Chicken in Soy Sauce and chocolate chip cookies. 

23 Aug 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Adventures in glass and Antiques, part 2

When we left the glass building, we walked over to Building C – the antiques building.  This wasn’t nearly as impressive and eye-wowing as the vintage glass with all its sparkle and color.  There were 20-odd vendors all pretty much local (as in greater Houston), well except for the one from Hattiesburg, MS.  Wasn’t any furniture – I can understand that – hard to transport.  I took pictures of some few items that caught my attention - some fairly common, some unusual, some just weird and some not really very old.

Elvis – still loving us Tender

They’re probably from the early 1990’s – sorry, that doesn’t even rate as vintage.  Still, I guess Elvis would be considered vintage if he was still with us.

Beaded and Mesh evening bags.  Normally I like vintage beaded or mesh bags but I’d guess these are more modern than vintage – the ending edge of 1960 through the 1980’s although there were a couple of nice but plain Mandalian mesh bags.

A Sterling Automatic Adding Machine aka The 1950s Calculator.  Unusual.

Have to say – I’ve never seen Texas money – a Texas redback.  So, just in case you want to know –

In the early days of Texas, a variety of currencies served as cash, including Spanish and Mexican money, bank notes from various U.S. states, and currency issued by private companies (call shinplasters). The Republic of Texas first issued paper money in 1837. This currency was called "star money" for the small star on the face of the bill. The star money was not face value currency, but rather interest-bearing notes (similar to a treasury bill) that circulated by being endorsed over to the next payee. In 1838, Texas issued change notes with elaborate designs on the front and blank backs.  The so-called Texas "redbacks" were issued in 1839. The government printed over two million dollars in redbacks, which were initially worth about 37 cents to a U.S. dollar.

Very cute hand puppets.  They stirred up a memory – I’m thinking we had some similar to these when we were small children.  I’ll have to ask my sister.

Yes, a sink – maybe from the 1950s.  Actually – I have one (white, not blue) in my back yard filled with plants.  Found it set out for the trash. 

From a personal point of view, the antiques portion was disappointing though I will say that I tend to look at “antique shows” with a bit of a jaundiced eye.  (Comes from managing a local antique store for many years – a really, truly antique store – with antiques.)  I was surprised to find no vintage jewelry – lots of the cheap silver-like modern stuff but nothing like, say, this –

Juliana - topaz and green rhinestones.

The prices on the things displayed were, I thought, high and I’d be surprised if any of the vendors made enough to cover their expenses.  I overheard one vendor commenting on the lack of attendance.  Yes, I suspect many shows and shops are experiencing that – antiques seem to have gone out of favor with coming generations.  I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a potential 40-ish customer some years back. 

Sez she – Do you have any bookcases?  Rely I – yes (and showed her two - oak, cabinet style, circa 1890, with glass doors, about $500 each).  Whoa, sez she, this is expensive.  I just want something for my daughter to take to college.  For heavens sake, this is just used furniture.  Big sigh, yes, reply I, but it is furniture with a provenance.  Perhaps I can direct you to one of the resale shops. 

Still, it was a very nice and enjoyable day out and afterward we went for lunch  to Another Time Soda Fountain where you can get shakes, malts, ice cream sodas, real fountain cokes, phosphates and the Blue Plate Special .
20 Aug 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Adventures in Glass

This past weekend, my friend Bobby and I attended the 45th Annual Vintage Glass & Antique Show and Sale held by the Houston Glass Club.  It was held in Rosenberg at the fairgrounds in two large air-conditioned (thank god) buildings.

The goal of the club - To provide information on the history of the various patterns of collectible glass and pottery; exchange knowledge of glass; standardize nomenclature and methods for identification and aid in the preservation of glassware.

There were 30 dealers, some from as close as Houston and others as far as Minnesota.  And, they showed some of the prettiest depression era glass, EAPG (Early American Patterned Glass), American crystal, American dinnerware, kitchenware, and pottery I’ve seen.  And, boy-o-boy, these people know how to showcase their glass.  There was not one spec of dust on anything.  Lots of light made it all sparkle.  There was the usual and the unusual (and I had a hard time choosing which pictures to include, let me tell you!)

This was one of the prettiest displays with the pink, green and clear glass all intermingled together.

When I grow up, I want all my kitchenware and everyday dishes to be Jadeite.  It’s a pretty green milk glass that was popular in the 1930’s.  It was meant to be regular, utilitarian dishware for the everyday kitchen and you can find mixing bowls, cannisters, juicers and such along with plates, glasses, cups and so forth.  The green color was added to existing glass formulas in order to add a bit of color to people’s lives during the Depression.  It was American-made from one of three major companies: McKee, Jeannette, and Anchor Hocking.  I do have a few pieces of Anchor-Hocking I love.

These were some of the prettiest pieces –

Can you guess what these are?  They’re Pickle Castors.  In Victorian days, Pickle Castors were a common table accessory.  Silver plated castors with glass inserts were used to display and serve small pickles and relishes.

Carnival Glass is a molded or pressed glass with a luster that resembles the rainbow effect that you see when oil is poured on water.  The effect is achieved by spraying the hot surface of the glass with a metallic salt solution and then re-firing to set the iridescence.  It has been known by many other names in the past: aurora glass, dope glass, rainbow glass, taffeta glass, and 'poor man's Tiffany'.  Its current name was adopted in the late 1940’s from the fact that it was given as prizes at carnivals, fetes, and fairgrounds.

Then, there was the unusual

Nothing like seeing Pink Elephants before you start drinking!

These are Cambridge Nude Stems. The Cambridge Glass Company in Cambridge Ohio made these nude stems, Statuesque, in early 1930.  All of the stemware featured the same girl in the same pose, with hair tossed to her right side.  Just a little kinky …..

This is yellow Vaseline Glass.  Also known as uranium glass, Vaseline glass glows green under ultraviolet light, thanks to the uranium oxide added to the glass in its molten state.  In natural or indoor light, Vaseline glass has a yellow or yellow-green tinge with an oily sheen, which is where its name comes from.  Uranium oxide was first used as a coloring agent in the 1830s.  It was produced from the 1840s through World War I.  A variety of companies produced it, including Adams & Co., Steuben Glass, Cambridge Glass Co., and Baccarat, which released its first Vaseline glass piece in 1843 under the name “cristal dichroide.”

There really wasn’t a great deal of vintage pottery.  Some Roseville and Weller and I love the little elephant!

So, since I’ve already put up a bunch of pictures, I’ll wait until tomorrow for the antique show.

19 Aug 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

Odds and Ends

Many years ago (like back in the 1970’s), I read a trilogy – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson. 

Thomas Covenant, an embittered (and, from my memory, embittered is just not a strong enough word) and cynical writer, afflicted with leprosy and shunned by society, is fated to become the heroic savior of The Land, an alternate world. In the novels, he struggles against the satanic Lord Foul, "The Despiser", who intends to escape the bondage of the physical universe and wreak revenge upon his arch-enemy, "The Creator".  (He struggles with himself – a lot - and with everyone else it seemed to me.)

Donaldson did go on to write seven more Thomas Covenant books though I never read them.  I didn’t because the first three affected me so negatively.  It was hard to read doom and gloom on every page.  Possibly, if I reread them today, my older adult self wouldn’t be so affected …. possibly I would.

Yeah, yeah – so why mention it now, you ask.  Because I’ve just finished another trilogy that affected me similarly.  The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  I understand it’s also a TV series though I’ve not watched it.  I’ll say now, it was a hard three books for me to read.  About half way through the second book, I was ready for the story to be over.

It’s about a virus.  A virus that comes to the US via an airplane landing at JFK … a plane stopped in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed, all window shades down. No one can be raised – not passengers, attendants or pilots.  The CDC is called in - a Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of doctors and scientists trying to establish the cause and then, a cure for the virus.  By the second book, humans are no longer at the top of the food chain and finally know they are not the consumer, but the consumed.  Goodweather along with Nora Martinez, another surviving member of his original team, Professor Setrakian, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, Vasilly Fet, a killer of sorts, and several gang bangers form an alliance to try to survive and somehow overcome the infection.  By the third book, the world, as we know it, has ended.  Doom, gloom, defeat, no end in sight, enslavement, human cruelty to humans.  The actual ending surprised (maybe disappointed) me.  It will depend on your belief system as to how you might react. 

Obviously these two trilogies have nothing in common except they are science fiction/fantasy.  But, both affected me similarly.  I am ready for light and fluffy now!

Yesterday was ESTATE SALE THURSDAY.  And, Ellen and I set off for one that had been described to me as the home of a “hoarder supreme”.  The house itself was really small.  It was overcrowded with a dozen people inside.  There really wasn’t very much variety in items.  There were …

yepper doodle.  Skunks.  All types (including one with a Hitler head).  This is one shelf of a six-shelf bookcase.  All shelves were similarly stuffed with skunks.  Then, there was another pile of them in another room and still more in a glass fronted cabinet. 

And, there was a whole room – a room with big, long tables and shelves – full of

yep again, cameras and camera paraphernalia.  Prices were not outrageous ($20 - $30) but there was no guarantee any of them worked either.  And, they all required film of one sort or another.

Then there was, glassware –

covered or not cake dishes (at least six I saw), covered compotes, candy dishes, serving pieces, glasses.  All brightly colored. 

Finally, there were a slew of miniature metal things – like a coffee grinder and fan and phonograph and microscope and sewing machine

and a typewriter.

I was told a second one would be held next weekend because “the garage is filled to the ceiling”.  So, I’ll let you know.

A friend sent me this picture – look familiar, sez he.

Ohmideargod, yes.  Could have been taken in my bathroom – a couple of times, except my paper shredders can unroll and spread out more t-paper.

Now long ago, while walking I spotted

Barn Swallow nests.  Pretty cool, I thought.  However, next time I was there, they had all been knocked down and washed away.  Too bad.

Today is the birthday of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, born in 1798; died in 1859; lawyer, politician, poet, diplomat, and soldier.  He was a private before the Battle of San Jacinto (deciding battle in the Texas Revolution).  He was a colonel when it ended.  Ten days later he was secretary of war.  A month later he was commander in chief or the army.  In five more months, he was the vice president and in less than two years, he was president of the Republic of Texas. 

 Beautiful in death
The soldier’s corpse appears,
Embalmed by fond affection’s breath
And bathed in his country’s tears.

Lo, the battle forms
Its terrible array,
Like clashing clouds in mountain storms
That thunder on their way.

It is the name of the high school in Houston I attended, (as did my sister and in 1939, my mother) which is why it caught my attention.

It is still hot outside.  The weatherperson teased us by saying we had a good chance of rain yesterday and today.  Ha!  Nada, not a drop, no dark clouds.  I may not have to mow again anytime soon as the grass is dying – fine, it comes back like all weeds.

I am dreaming of this

Autumn – Fall – Cool Days when you need a light jacket or sweater.  Of course the trees here never look like this but I did say I was dreaming.

16 Aug 2019