Thursday, September 30, 2021

And again –


I haven’t fallen into a rabbit hole or walked through a mirror.

I have had my daughter visiting for two wonderful weeks.  But, mostly, I’ve been doing yard work.  And cooking.  And enjoying my daughters company.

My goal this fall (and we’ve actually had a few fall mornings; summer afternoons) is to get my container plants ready to winter over.  So, I’ve been planting a few things, tossing a few things, and giving away as much as I can. 

So far, I’ve planted a fig tree

Which, by the way, could grow up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide (I am thinking positive).  This little tree has had difficult life.  A good friend gave it to me (dug it out of her yard).  I planted it in my yard.  Unfortunately, it did not thrive - not enough sun.  So, I dug it up and gave it to my sister to plant on the acre+ at her place.  Which she did.  Then, poor little tree, got smushed during the house “building” phase.  She dug it up and put it in a pot.  And then last February we had a “100-Year Freeze” and little tree froze to the dirt.  However, it did persevere and came up from the root.  She gave it back to me and I planted it again.  Hopefully it will grow like mad and turn into a

a giant fig tree

Now, just a few Fig Facts

1 Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is inside of the fruit! Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
2 Figs naturally help hold in moisture in baked goods, keeping them fresher.
3 Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.
4 The early Olympic athletes used figs as a training food. Figs were also presented as laurels to the winners, becoming the first Olympic “medal.”
5 In Roman times figs were considered to be restorative. They were believed to increase the strength of young people, to maintain the elderly in better health and to make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.
6 Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1892 introduction of Fig Newtons® cookies.
The fig tree is a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness.
9 Eating one half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk.
10 Ounce for ounce, figs have more fiber than prunes and more potassium than bananas.

Interesting?   yes!  Unfortunately, I don’t care too much for figs so I will be looking for anyone to take them when the little tree starts to produce.  Next year!  or probably in a couple of years (positive thinking).

Okay, how good are you with tongue twisters??

I'm not a fig plucker, I’m a fig plucker's son.
But I'll pluck figs, till the fig plucker comes.

I also planted my lemon grass

I like lemon grass.  Mostly because it is easy to grow and doesn’t really require much in the way on “hands-on” attention. 

Just in case you’re wondering . . .

1 Chop lemon grass and add to rice when cooking.
2 Chop up and add to stir-fry vegetables
3 Add to marinades for chicken or fish.
4 It’s rich in folic acid, folate, zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, and vitamins A, B, and C.
5 Made into a tea, it helps with stress and sleep problems.

And, I planted my Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida).  It’s gotten too big for me to move inside during the winter so, it’s now in a “live or die” situation.  I am planning to take some cuttings – just in case.

I’ve had a couple of these plants over the past 20 years.  They’re a bit unique and can get 6-8 feet tall. 

This past weekend daughter and I made a daytrip to Austin to see her godparents and my long-time friends.  It was a lovely day and a nice visit.  My friend is (if there is such a thing) a Master Needlepointer.  She does exquisite work and she gave me a piece to bring home.

We finally got some rain!!  Whaaaawho!  I don’t think we’ve had rain since the middle of July so the past couple of rainy days have been nice.  Well, except for the thunder/lightning storm.  That wasn’t much fun.  Knocked out the power.  My daughter had an important conference zoom meeting scheduled.  No power, no internet. However, our library had power and internet so off she went.  The librarians there were very helpful, found her a room to set up in, and her call went on as planned.  Still it was a bit hectic here as she grabbed up her computer, cords, phone, headphones, notebooks and went tearing off to the library.  When the lights came back on here – none of the kitchen light fixtures worked.  Evidently one of the lightning strikes was close enough to fry all the lights.  I’ve ordered new fixtures.  Ugh.  Oh, and we got about 4 inches of rain in 24 hours!  When it rains, it doesn't fool around!

All the really cool, unique, different, unusual, odd, beautiful pumpkins are at the stores. 


 30 Sep 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Tale of Frustration



Okay – Larry the Contractor has fallen off the face of the earth.  And, I want a screen porch added to the back and a roof on the existing porch, stairs, and walkway on the front of the house.  Whooboy, I am way outside of my comfort level.

A Tale of Total Frustration and Four Contractors
part two

Something I did have was the name and phone number of one of the subcontractors who had done work on both previous houses.  I’ll call him Calvin.  He’s always enthusiastic, positive, ebullient, and exudes “I’ll take care of everything you don’t need to worry I got this”. 

I called; did he know who had taken over Larry the Contractors business?  Why yes, was his reply – me!  Well cool!  I’m familiar with Calvin, I know his work, this might be the easy answer.  I explained what I wanted.  He’d come out.  Now, this was back in March.  Calvin came out, I explained in detail what I wanted.  He took measurements and WROTE THEM DOWN.  Then he says, you know, lumber prices are sky high right now and it might be better if you wait a couple of months.  But he would submit a bid and we could rediscuss everything.  Fine.

At the same time, I called another contractor who’s work I’m familiar with – I’ll call him “the local guy” (TLG).  He also came over, took measurements, and we discussed what I want with a lot of talk on how the walkway would be covered.  He had one thought; I wanted something else.  Still, he’d get back to me.

drew a blank here – just imagine
a screened porch sitting on a flatbed truck
tooling down the highway

And, finally I called a company in another town just down the road aways.  And, I’ll call them “down the road” (DTR).  They work a little differently.  You give them the info on what you want, they show you pictures and you choose one, then they build the porch AT THEIR SITE and truck it in and install it.  Well, this seemed just a bit weird to me.  Do you come out to see the site and take measurements, I ask?  Nope.  Uhmmmm – how do you know you can get the truck to the place the porch is going?  Oh it’s not a problem.  Oooookay.  Plus, they couldn’t do the work on the front porch.

And, then I waited for bids.  And waited.  And ……….. – well you get it.  Finally I did get a bid from Calvin.  High but price of lumber and all.  Also got a bid from DTR – very high.  I decided I’d wait a bit to see if lumber prices went down. 

Then in August, I started the process again, however this time I decided against DTR because I have a really bad feeling that they will build the screened porch, truck it here, and 1 will not be able to get the truck close enough to the house to put it where I want it or 2 it won’t fit because I AM NOT A CONTRACTOR so my measurements are not perfect.  Okay, I have taken DTR off the list of possible. 

So I called TLG.  Can I get a bid for the work we discussed back in March?  Well, he’d have to come back out and remeasure everything.  Be there end of the week.

Called Calvin.  Same question – new bid??  Sure, but he couldn’t read his notes he’d have to come back out.  Be there end of the week.

Called a new guy, I’m calling Juniper.  Found his name on our local chat group on Facebook.  Yes, he does that.  Yes, he’d come out this week.

Called new guy I’m calling Fred found the same place.  Yes, he does that.  Yes, he’d come out this week.

And, Juniper came out.  Very nice young man.  We discussed AT LENGTH what I wanted.  Screened back porch.  Cover on existing front porch, cover on stairs, cover on walkway.  Lots of detail.  He drew diagrams.  He asked where I wanted the stairs.  What type of roof.  Plus they are a full service company, he said, they do it all!  And, he promised to have a detailed bid to me by the Tuesday after Labor Day. 

Fred came out.  We talked.  He took measurements.  I was already prepped by Juniper so I had all the details ready.  He’d get back in a few days.

Calvin came out to remeasure (2 weeks later).  Got out of his truck, walked up to the house.  Oh yes – now he remembered.  Turned around to leave with a – I’ll get back to you in a couple days.

TLG came by (2 weeks later).  He remeasured everything.  We discussed other options for the cover over the walkway.  I told him what I wanted.  He didn’t like that, made another suggestion; I still didn’t like his option. 

And I waited for bids.  And waited.  And …… again, you get it.  I called each one again.  Am I going to get a bid?  Oh sure, just been busy.  Will get to it soon, sometime, in the future.

Finally, I got a text from Fred.  Price – between $10k and $14k.  No no no, say I.  I need the porches broken out in cost.  Cost of materials and labor and your timeline.  Oh, he replied, well okay.  Two weeks later I finally got the information from him.  Good!  Yay!  The only other problem with Fred is that he can’t give me any references or show me anything he’s built.  I am assuming he can build porches because his name came up in our local chat group.   

Then a week later I got a materials list from TLG.  No labor, just materials.  Hmmmm okay, not completely helpful.  And a week after that he stopped by with the labor charges and a timeline.

No word from Juniper or Calvin.  I left messages AGAIN for each.  No, nothing, nada.

Finally, I decided on TLG because I know his work and his prices were within my budget.  He could start on Monday. 

And there were communication problems from the get-go.  Plus, I told him again what I want on the cover for the stairs and walkway to make sure we’re on the same page.  No we were not.  He modified his vision of the cover.  Not a happy camper here.  Tuesday he was going to pick up the materials.  I called him before the pick up and said, Look, if you can’t do what I want, lets just forget doing the cover on the stairs and walkway all together.  I won’t be happy with your way.  Not changing anything else – just no cover over the stairs and walkway.  Hold on, he’d come back to my house.  Fine.  I said everything all over again ending with that’s not what I want.  Possibly I was a bit testy by the fourth time I said just don’t do the stairs and walkway, everything else is good.  Aaaaaaand – he quit.  Just like that.  Here’s your money back. 

Shock!  Surprise!  Distress!  Astonishment!  Flabbergasted!



So, now I’m back to 6 months ago with no contractor and no porches in sight.  Think I’ll wait until after the first of the year to start up again.

The End

22 Sep 2021


A Tale of Frustration


I have, for the past 6 months, been trying to find a contractor to build two porches for my new house.  This has turned out to be more difficult than you might think.  First of all, the price of lumber was ridiculously high.  It recommended that I wait a few months.  Which I did.  And then began even more problems, which has given birth to this story.



Once upon a time . . . . there was a “we” that moved to Wharton, TX.  Reason?  Compromise.  We looked for a home.  Not much available.  And, then we found an acceptable house.  With problems.  A house with problems. 

The realtor recommended a contractor.  Larry the contractor, was contacted and contracted.  And, he did very good work, he showed up every day, and charged a reasonable amount.  The end??  No.

One day the “he” of the “we” got very sick and he died. 

I found the care and feeding of the property to be great.  Honestly – I’m a city person.  City people don’t have to deal with water wells, pumps, and whatever else comes with having well water.  City people don’t deal with septic systems.  City women (like me) don’t deal with having to mow using a zero-turn riding mower (yes – I did, a couple of times, mow grass, some weeds, a couple of flower beds

and got it stuck once or three times  – ergo, the “like me” reference). 
So, I decided to sell the too big property in the country and bought a house in town.

I bought a “repo” house.  Owner had walked away from it and took everything that wasn’t nailed down and a couple of things that were.  It was a house with problems. 

I called Larry, the contractor.  Contacted and contracted, he showed up and fixed all the problems for a reasonable amount of

The end??? No.  For reasons not important to this tale, it was determined that I would have to sell the “in the town house” and move elsewhere.  Which I did.

A Tale of Total Frustration and Four Contractors
part one

The new house is very nice.  A perfect house for me and the demon duo with one small exception.  It has no porches – a necessity because I do like, when it’s not 95° with 90% humidity, to sit outside and watch the world.  I had contracted a local man to build a small porch on the front side before actually moving because otherwise, trying to get furniture and other stuff into the house would have been



Now, I wanted to have the small front porch extended and a roof added (95° in the bright sun makes the door knob so hot you can’t touch it).  I also thought it would be nice to have covered stairs and a covered walkway up to the stairs.  We get rain here in the winter and spring.  Great big pouring down hard rain.  I am already tired of getting soaking wet to the skin trying to get into and out of the house.

I also wanted a screened in back porch.  Another place to sit and enjoy.  A place to put some of my succulents and cacti, bromeliads and shade lovers.  And, a place where the boys could go (because of past experience with dogs and trees, the boys are house cats) and maybe enjoy the outside (sort of).  Many years ago, Larry, the contractor, retired and, I think, fell of this part of the earth.

And, so began the quest (hunt, search, pursuit rootle) for a new contractor.

Stay tuned, tomorrow

A Tale of Total Frustration and Four Contractors
part two


ps: This has nothing to do with the story. 
It just made me laugh.

21 Sep 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021



Was actually a bit of a fizzle.

All day Sunday and Monday we were getting warnings of major rain – 3-6 inches and wind – upwards of 50 mph.  Yesterday we had light rain with one or two heavy rain bands blow through.  Then we had some wind.  Not sure just how much but it didn’t do more than blow over all the plumerias and whip my baby trees back and forth.

TS Nicholas blowing in Monday morning

Monday evening the outside turned orange with the tiny glimpse of a rainbow

No complaints.  I’ve seen tropical storms come ashore and just sit and rain – for days. 

And, YAY!!, I finished my upcoming presentation on herbs.  Just have to clean up my speaking notes and decide about a handout. 

Slides will look like this and I’ll then talk specifically about planting, growth, how/when to use, and so forth.  I’ve chosen some plants people will recognize, some they may not realize have herb properties, and some they may have never heard of – we’ll see what happens.

Actually, I’m just a bit concerned that attendance will be very low since it supposed to start raining on Friday and continue for the next dozen days. 

I mentioned another new crochet project I plan to start – making a sweater. 

I went off to Hobby Lobby (closest place to buy yarn) and DAMN! they now only carry two brands, neither of which was what I wanted.  So, I decided on the Yarn Bee brand.  Found a color they had enough skeins of and bought them.  Then, coming home, my mind says – Hmmmmm, you didn’t check the number of yards in the pattern skein vs what you bought hmmmm.  Of course, didn’t buy nearly enough as the YB skeins are half the size of the Heartland.  Argh!  And, no they didn’t have any more in that color.  And yes I could order more but it would cost almost half again as much.  Argh!  If I have to order it, might as well get what I wanted so I placed an order with Lion Brand.  And two days later got an email from them saying – “Golly gee whiz we are so busy it will be unknown time before we can send out your yarn, we’ve already charged you for oopsie”. 

Our weather cooled down for a few days.  By that I mean it was 70° at 6am and only a high of 93° for the day.  Since I’m a morning person, I put on walking togs and did a two mile walk last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. 

Annnnnd by Friday night, my shins hurt! 


I’m pretty sure shins are not supposed to hurt!  I was hobbling around my house like a little old lady.  Okay – all got better by Sunday and when I can get out and walk again, I may try building up to 2 miles.  I did see some interesting things while walking though.  Like


Green Milkweed

an Emu

You never know what you’ll see around here!


 14 Sep 2021


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Greetings - start thinking "Cool Weather"


Well, in the ongoing

 Laptop Saga

 (remember, I had to remove the puffed-up battery, thus turning my laptop into a table top computer).  (And, by the way, the puffed-up battery is still all wrapped up, in a plastic box, in a plastic bucket, sitting in the back yard as so far, I can’t find anyplace that will take it as is – ugh). 

A few days after the whole battery thing, the keyboard started going wonky.  First the ‘shift’ key stopped working.  No caps, no symbols above numbers.  Grrrrr.  Then the letter ‘c’ stopped working.  You’d be surprised at how many words have a ‘c’ in them.  Then the ‘space’ bar stopped working.  Heavy sigh.

Once again, a call to my son-in-law thinking I’d need to get the new computer sooner rather than later.  Instead his suggestion was to get a cheap keyboard that would plug into the laptop and use that because  the new laptops he’s looked at so far –


And, my new large screen, printer, and wireless mouse all plug into a port. 

So, I did get a new keyboard and am back in business!  As for the new laptop – I am leaving that frustrating issue to someone better qualified to deal with the problem and stress.

Last year I agreed to do a program for our outreach program – Hesed House.  This is a wonderful organization run by a smart, lovely, patient woman.  Then, of course, the plague arrived.  Everything was canceled for a time.  Now, I’m scheduled again to give the program titled

And, it’s about - - - Herbs.  A bit about herbs you know and love, a bit about herbs you may not be familiar with, and a bit about things that are herbs that may surprise you.  For instance, 

Did You Know?

There are over 100 different kinds of basil?


Basil is known as the money plant so, keep a leaf or two in your wallet to attract money to you.  It could happen!


Did You know?

Cattails are considered a cornucopia herb.  It can provide food, medicine, and clothing.  Shoots, roots, and seeds are edible.  In past times it’s been used for nose bleeds, toothaches, help with digestion, as a poultice used for wounds, boils, burns, insect bites and stings.  The roots help to clean polluted water.  And, the seed heads can be used as stuffing for pillows or inside clothes for warmth.  Leaves can be woven into any sort of useable object. 


Grown close to your home, they promote peace and prosperity.

Anyway, the program will be full of that type of stuff along with some “how to plant and take care of” information.  I’ve been working on the presentation and am about ½ way finished (which includes the slide show, talking notes, and hand-outs).

I’m still trying to get bids on some work that needs to be done here.  Honest to god, it’s like pulling teeth to get contractors to respond AND give me a detailed bid (rather than just a “oh, about $$$$ text”). 

I found a sweater pattern I want to try, so I went to the yarn store today. 


Yes – still working on the embroidery project.  And the herb presentation.  And finishing up several ghosts.  And, and, and.  Guess I’d better get on with something!

Well, have a good day.


2 Sep 2021