Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grass and Owls and Other Oddities

When my husband was still amongst the breathing, his pride and joy was the lawn, that is, the grass.  In this part of Texas, we mostly grow St. Augustine grass.  It’s a robust perennial, dense, carpet grass that does well in our hot, humid climate.  It even grows well in in shady areas.  He kept it watered, fertilized, weeded, treated for insects, and mowed/weed wacked.  Once I mowed the front yard and, honest-to-god, he nearly had apoplexy. 

Why, you ask?  Well, I find mowing to be, among other things, BORING.  So, I mow back and forth then up and down, diagonally, in a circle – whatever.  (Hey!  I thought mowing was about cutting the grass!)  Then, also, I took the bag off and just let the grass lay where it landed (good mulch!).  Rake?? Bag grass??  Are you nuts??  Using the weed eater or a blower??  Please, mowing is a pain in the patootie without all that other stuff.

HE, on the other hand, mowed even lines in one direction and emptied the bag of clippings as necessary.  Blew excess clipping into a pile to be picked up.  Weedwacked all edges straight and true.  Fiiiine!

After he went to the big Ice House in the Sky, and the mowing fell to me, it went back to, uhmmmmmmm, decorative mowing.  Really, I hate to mow – boring, yes; also hot, hot, hot, work that includes my walking literally 5 miles!

Okay, I hear you - - - Interesting but ……

While my daughter was here visiting, she decided to mow the back yard for me.  It took her maybe an hour and a half (takes me 2 days – 2 hours per day!) and she did a great job.  I was very grateful.  The next day I walked out to the back yard and noticed 

My child!  A chip off the ole block!  I was so proud!

Up until today, the weather has been dry.  Humid, yes but no significant rain since maybe sometime in mid-May.  That means every afternoon I go out and water all the flowerbeds and plants in containers.  I chose afternoon because even with no rain the mosquitoes are ferocious now and during the hot time of the day, they’re a little less bad.  Yesterday I went out to water and this guy was sitting on the fence.  He saw me and flew over to the cedar tree and watched for a while …..

Pretty sure it’s a Barred Owl (I know, hard to see the color in the picture).  I’ve seen at least two of them in the last couple days.  Plus, you can hear them hooting back and forth during the evening.  Normally owls are night hunters but the Barred Owl will also hunt in the daytime.  It’s a big bird – nearly as big as the Great Horned Owl but much less aggressive.  And that’s as much about owls as I know.

Today is International Fairy Day.  It is a day for fairies, magic, and wishes to come true. For one day, put aside the cynicism of the modern world and embrace the possibilities of the unknown, and believe in fairies…

I believe
do you?

24 Jun 2020

Saturday, June 20, 2020

. . . . and the livin’ is easy

Today is Litha, the Summer Solstice, the first day of Summer.  Actually, we’ve been having summer for a while but now, it is official!

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches its highest and northernmost points in the sky.  It is the longest day of the year.  And, this year, an annular solar eclipse will occur on the weekend of the solstice, beginning just before midnight EDT on Saturday, June 20, and reaching its maximum point at 2:40am EDT on the 21st. Annular eclipses are very similar to total solar eclipses, but instead of covering the Sun completely, the Moon only covers most of the Sun, leaving a thin, shining ring—called an “annulus” or “ring of fire”—around the Moon’s dark shape.  Unfortunately for us, the eclipse will not be visible from North America, but can be viewed from parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

My New Mexico daughter and son-in-law have been here this past week.  He is retired and she works from home so they’ve been isolating since March, as have I.  They left early this morning planning to make the drive back to Albuquerque in one day.

It’s a 1000-mile drive – I’ve made it a couple of times, though always in 2 days.  But with two drivers they should be fine and get home before dark.  We didn’t do much – honestly, I live in Wharton.  There’s not much to do in the best of times.  My daughter worked and son-in-law went to visit a friend in Austin.  Still, I enjoyed every minute of their being here and already miss them a lot.

While they were here, we watched a movie – I See You, starring Helen Hunt and Jon Tenney.  I had started to watch it a couple weeks before they arrived – BUT – it pushed all my “panic” buttons so I turned it off.  Nope, not watching that alone.  The trailer says – “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.”  But, it is soooo much more and there’s a good blend of scare and suspense.  I enjoyed it and when it was over, I got up and made sure the doors were all locked!

Oh, in addition to being the first day of Summer, it’s also World Juggling Day. 

The unofficial holiday was first observed in the mid-1980s as National Juggling Day in the United States in order to raise awareness of the art and science of juggling and to encourage people to take up the art.  In 1995, the name of the day was changed to World Juggling Day in order to reflect the global reach of the IJA.

I did a little work outside early in the week and came across this . . . .

It’s a Cicada Killer Wasp.  It looks like an extremely large yellow jacket, which was a bit alarming when I first saw it. This one was about an inch and a half long.  The females capture and paralyze cicadas and uses them as dinner for her larva.  They can sting but for the most part they’re shy of people.  The males do not have stingers and while seem aggressive they are actually harmless.  Interesting.  I just left it alone and went on with my gardening related stuff. 

Well, there’s not much else exciting going on at my house.  Enjoy the day, celebrate the sun, and remember to set out milk and honey for the fairies tonight!

20 Jun 2020

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


It’s the middle of June already!  This month has totally gotten away from me.

First of all – recently I lamented on the broken washer – the one that completely flooded the garage.  Well, as it turned out, it was a ‘washer’ problem; not a plumber problem.  So I called the appliance fixit guy.  He came over and within 10 (ten, 1-0) minutes he had diagnosed the problem, removed two panels, reattached a hose, put the panels back in place, written up the bill, and was out the door.  Only cost was the service charge.  I was fearful I’d be without a washer for an unknown time while a part was on order, but, no.  The washer is chugging along nicely now and the water is staying where it belongs.  (Excuse #1 why I haven’t blogged for a while – catching up on laundry – which took be exactly ½ of one day but it seems like a good excuse)

Then, last week I spent three days mowing back and front yards.  And, for some unknown reason, the god of the weather relented a bit and sent down a bit of a cold front – well a slightly cool front.  Anyway, the mornings were very nice and not very humid so mowing was not death inducing.

Still, after working in the yard for a couple of hours makes me pretty useless the rest of the day.  (Excuse #2 – why I haven’t blogged for a while – limited brain function when I am r e a l l y tired.)

I also finished up my dresser and got it moved back to the house.  I’m not totally satisfied but it’s better than it was.  I need to live with it for a while.  And, I need to find some bronze backs for the knobs (which look white but really aren’t).  (Excuse #3 – why I haven’t blogged for a while – finishing up and moving the dresser)

Any cross stitch experts out there?  Why is it that when you accidently clip a thread, the next 6 unravel without any help?  BUT, if you have rip out a section, you have to clip EVERY SINGLE THREAD.  Argh.  On my current project, I chose a background color that looked really nice with the rest of the pattern colors.  Unfortunately, it looked terrible as the background and I had to rip out a goodly amount.  (Excuse #4 – why I haven’t blogged for a while – working on multiple sewing projects)

In garden club meetings past, members would occasionally bring in plants to share.  Couple of years ago a member brought in a box full of different types of crinum bulbs.  And, I picked up several and proceeded to plant them.  So, I have a brick window box in front of my house and I planted one there.  The rest got sprinkled around the yard.  That done, I promptly forgot about them.  The one in the window box grew and grew and grew and never bloomed.  I do not believe in coddling most in-ground plants – grow damnit or I’ll jerk you out of the ground and throw you in the trash – works for me.  And, I regularly threatened the big one in the front.  Then, last week - - -

It bloomed!  And has more bloom scapes coming on.  You know, I had to do a search to figure out what this actually is – it’s a White Starburst Giant Crinum.  And, ohmigod, it can get 4-6 FEET tall and wide.  See – this is why I tell everyone to research what they’re planting and put it in an appropriate place (do as I say, not as I do).  Before you say anything – there is no getting this thing out of the window box.  I tried early in the spring.  Okay, okay – this is just a pretty flower thing not an excuse why I haven’t blogged recently.

Today, June 16 is National Fudge Day. 

Fudge originated in the US during the late 19th century.  Recipes were printed in many periodicals and advertisements during the 1880s.  Its popularity was partly due to the decreasing cost of refined white sugar, and partly due to the ability to make it at home without special equipment.  Its inexpensive, unrefined qualities made it popular among people looking for a candy alternative that fell in between expensive, fancy candies and the cheapest sweets.

Fudge Day is the perfect excuse to try some crazy new flavors of fudge.  How about maple and pecan?  Or rocky road. If you want to go really wild, mix up some particularly unusual flavors, like carrot, orange, or licorice fudge, or tequila and lime.

Myself – I’m pretty much a purist.  Chocolate, sugar, milk, butter, and marshmallow crème – all the good stuff!

Finally, a friend of mine posted up the 2020 calendar.  So, I thought I’d share it -

16 Jun 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

Hot Days

With summer upon us, by mid-afternoon it’s too hot go do much outside.  A good day for the Storyteller . . . .

A Myth from the Alabama Tribe

In the beginning of the world, it was Bear who owned Fire.  It warmed Bear and his people on cold nights and gave them light when it was dark.  Bear and his people carried fire with them wherever they went.

One day, Bear and his people came to a great forest, where they found many acorns lying on the forest floor.  Bear set Fire at the edge of the forest, and he and his people began eating acorns.  The acorns were crunchy and crisp and tasted better than any other acorns Bear and his people had ever eaten.  They wandered further and further away from Fire, eating the delicious acorns and seeking out more when the acorn supply grew low.

Fire blazed up merrily for a while, until it had burned nearly all of its wood.  It started to smoke and flicker, then it dwindled down and down.  Fire was alarmed.  It was nearly out.  "Feed me! Feed me!"  Fire shouted to Bear. But Bear and his people had wandered deep into the forest, and then did not hear Fire's cries.

At that moment, Man came walking through the forest and saw the small, flickering Fire.  "Feed me! Feed me!" Fire cried in despair.

"What should I feed you?" Man asked. He had never seen Fire before.

"I eat sticks and logs and wood of all kinds," Fire explained.

Man picked up a stick and leaned it on the North side of Fire.  Fire sent its orange-blue flames flickering up the side of the stick until it started to burn.  Man got a second stick and laid it on the West side of the fire.  Fire, nourished by the first stick, burned brighter and stretched taller and eagerly claimed the second stick.  Man picked up a third stick and laid it on the south side of Fire and laid a fourth stick on the East.  By this time, Fire was leaping and dancing in delight, its hunger satisfied.

Man warmed himself by the blazing Fire, enjoying the changed colors and the hissing and snapping sound Fire made as it ate the wood.  Man and Fire were very happy together, and Man fed Fire sticks whenever it got hungry.

A long time later, Bear and his people came back to the edge of the forest, looking for Fire.  Fire was angry when it saw Bear.  It blazed until it was white-hot and so bright that Bear had to shade his eyes with both paws.  "I do not even know you!" Fire shouted at Bear.  The terrible heat rolling of Fire drove Bear and his people away, so they could not take it and carry it away with them.

And now Fire belongs to Man.

12 Jun 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020


June – already (though, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I said the same thing in early May – May already!).  I know – not quite summer (the summer solstice isn’t until the 20th), but our temperatures are reaching 90° these days.  Summer.

As of June 1, we have officially entered into hurricane season.  Now is the time I always take a quick look at the NOAA map every morning to see what might be happening in the gulf.  In Wharton, we are about 45 miles inland so I don’t worry as much about storms but still . . . . 

This storm, Cristobal, is skimming along the Yucatan with estimated landfall east of us – Louisiana . . . Mississippi.  Still, it’s smart to keep an eye on things as sometimes they change direction suddenly and barrel right in.

We have had rain over the past several days.  And, the mosquitoes are out in force – walking in the yard is dangerous to life and limb.  Ugh – I hate to even go outside in the mornings or evenings.

I did finally get outside and weed flower beds.  Now, I can actually see the herbs and other things blooming out there!

Daylilies are in bloom

As are the


Purple Coneflower
tho they’re about done

Whoa – I’ve a yard full of pink stuff!

I have no idea what this little rose is but it will bloom from early spring until first frost.  It’s not a dwarf because the bush gets as tall as I am, however the flowers are very small.  I know it's an heirloom rose but that's all.  I grew it from a cutting.

 This is Mexican Mint Marigold and can be used in place of Tarragon.  (We can’t grow Tarragon here in our part of the universe – doesn’t like our humidity or summer heat.)  A native of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, this perennial herb likes the humidity and can tolerate our summer sun though it needs regular watering.  It will bloom throughout the summer and fall with small yellow flowers (which are also edible).  The leaves have a sweet anise flavor and go well with fish, chicken, lamb most vegetables, in salads, sauces and soups.  Mine will die back to the ground during the winter but will pop back up as soon as the weather starts to warm.  It makes a good companion plant as it attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies plus it helps to reduce the number of harmful nematodes in the soil.  In the long past days, it was used for the treatment of malaria, colic, colds, and as a poultice for treatment of rattlesnake bite.  (Hey! You might need this moderately useless information some day - it could happen!)

I’ve been keeping my teacup bird feeder filled as the cardinals empty it almost every other day.  The Demon Duo love to sit on the sofa and watch (and probably dream of catching) the birds.  

That is until yesterday when I went out to refill it and found ---

 Grrrrrrr – damn squirrels.

Unfortunately, my little county has had a substantial increase in the numbers of people with COVID19.  We had a big jump this past week with 9 new cases diagnosed.  It gives us a total of 67 cases with 38 recoveries, one death, and the rest – pending.  

I walked out to the garage/laundry room earlier to find water flooding out from behind the washer.  Put in another call to the plumber.  And, just to be safe, I also called the appliance fixit guy.  The water flood stopped when I turned off the washer so could be it has to do with the washer and not the plumbing.  Ugh.

Finally – today is National Moonshine Day. 

Moonshine, white lightning, mountain dew, hooch, or Tennessee white whiskey is a high-proof distilled spirit that was, in the past, produced illicitly. Today large distilleries sell moonshine, looking to rekindle nostalgic memories of the illegal drink. Thankfully though, the days of cheap, questionable brews with deadly contaminants are over.

Have a nice weekend – stay safe and remember if you wear a mask, pull it up over your mouth and nose otherwise it’s pretty useless (I keep seeing people wearing their masks pulled down below their mouth).

5 June 2020