Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Habits and Other Things


Habits are funny things – right?  For instance, when I was president of our garden club, I suggested we move our Thursday 9:30am meeting to Saturday around 10am. 

And, was light-sabered down for my suggestion.

OH NO! Saturday is the weekend!!

Yes, it is a weekend day BUT everyone that comes to the Thursday morning meeting is retired – right?  And, if we move it to a once-a-month Saturday or even an every other month meeting, we might be able to entice younger people to join – right?  And, as a retired person, Saturday is pretty much like every other day – right?

I lost that battle.

Of course, I’m just as bad.  Again, for instance …  When I was a stay-at-home mom, I did housework, laundry, etc during the week, keeping the weekend open for “fun family stuff”.  Then, as things changed and I had to go to work full-time, I tried to keep most Saturdays open for “fun stuff” and on Sunday, I cleaned house, did laundry, etc. 

I maintained this schedule for more years than not.  And, then I retired. 

How, you ask, did I spend this past Sunday and 98% of every other Sunday?

We have had an unseasonably hot spring and early summer.  Temperatures in the 90’’s in April, upper 90’s in May and 100’s in June.  Ugh.  And, no rain.  Double ugh!  The “no rain” is worse than the hot temps.  We usually average nearly 50” of rain here.  Now, I don’t have official numbers but I’m thinking at ½ way through the year, we’ve had less than 10” of rain.  I already lived in the desert.  I moved away from there to be back in the wet part of the universe. 

I’m worried somebody teleported this part of TX to AZ.  

I have been tasked with trying to encourage the rain by dancing around, shaking my rain stick while making incantations and requests of various rain goddesses.  

I think it worked.  Yesterday, things changed.  By that I mean, yesterday it rained.  As in poured-down-rain-sideways.  We also had what felt like 50 mph winds.  Everything in my yard blew over.  The positive - we got 2+ inches of rain.  I wouldn’t mind more rain though not so much wind.

Today is my birthday.  It’s a big number birthday – 75.  I’m not worried about that number yet.  Recently a friend sent me this –

A large population study found the ability to balance on one foot for more than ten seconds was associated with a lower mortality rate.

Translation: if you can stand on one foot, for more than 10 seconds, you’ll likely live longer. 

I can do that.

I know I have been quiet blog-wise.  Reason?  I know nothing of any great interest.  So, I’ll share a few things that make me smile. 

And finally -

28 Jun 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022

Tomato Fest – 2022


And, now, more information about The Wharton Garden Club’s Tomato Fest 2022 and tomatoes, than you might want to ever know. 

Personally, I am certain each and everyone out in blogland is eagerly awaiting all the glorious information.  Onward

A short history –

I moved to Wharton in 2004.  The big question I’m always asked is - - - WHY?  Well because it was the location my husband and I could agree on.  I wanted to move one place; he another; this was the compromise.  ANYWAY, in an effort to meet people and become a part of the town, I joined the garden club in 2004 and by 2007, I was president.  Believe me when I tell you it was not because any ambition on my part.  Simply “young blood” willing to help in any way.  My VP, decided we needed to extend our meetings from September – May to September – June and add a tomato contest. 

And voilà the WGC Tomato Fest was born.

Originally it was a taste test.  Everyone brought tomatoes, we cut them in small chunks, then all the members  tasted each entry and voted on The Best Tasting Tomato in Wharton County.

Then, in 2020 The Plague struck

and we canceled. 

When we started up again, 2021, the Tomato Fest changed from Best Tasting to a Beauty Contest.  After the 2021 festivities, the inventor – the father – the host – the Master of Ceremonies Extraordinaire announced he would be retiring (primarily because he was moving across the universe to the east side of Houston).  End of History.

Somehow, I got snookered into taking on the 2022 Tomato Fest.  I decided on a Beauty Contest again and promptly called the “Father of the WGC Tomato Fest” and begged, pleaded, beseeched, implored, cried (maybe even produced a tear or two), possibly threatened a little him to come back and be, once again, the Master of Ceremonies.  He agreed – YAY! 

This year was The Tomato Fest of the Most and we had three major categories – Cherries and Smaller (Most Beautiful, Most Ugly, Most Unusual); Not a Cherry (Most Beautiful, Most Ugly, Most Unusual, Most Juicy), and Size (Most Big by Weight, Most Small by Size). 

Sadly, THIS YEAR has been a terrible growing season.  Here on the Gulf coast plains, we can and do plant our tomatoes early – like late February.  It’s usually a bit of a gamble – plant too early and we might be surprised by a devastating freeze; too late and it will get too hot to quickly and the tomatoes won’t produce.  Late February is usually good, however this year we had a very late freeze in early March.  Only lasted a day or so BUT, I swear to god, the very next week it turned 90°.  Argh!  This was not conducive to growing many and lots of tomatoes.

We did have entries – more than I thought we’d have; fewer than I hoped we’d have

Most Big, Most Small. 

In past years, the First Place Winners were awarded this -

Well, okay but don’t those things just get stuck in some book someplace??  I decided on something else.  THIS year, each First Place Winner got this

Yep, a perfect tomato that will last forever!

Hold on, we’re getting close to the end.

A Few Fun Facts
1 Tomatoes are world’s most popular fruit. With annual production of 60 million tons, they remain the world’s most demanded and most popular fruit.
2 According to the US Dept of Agriculture, there are over 25,000 varieties of tomatoes!
3 Ohio has declared the tomato as the State Fruit.  However, the state of New Jersey has made the tomato as its State Vegetable.  And finally, Arkansas considers the tomato as both its State Fruit AND State Vegetable. 
4 The tomato is a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato, tobacco, and the highly toxic belladonna.
5 Tomatoes can keep longer if you store them with their stem down.  Who knew???

So what do the tomato experts say helps plants product the best tomatoes?
1 Baking soda naturally sweetens the taste of tomatoes. It’s perfect to add as a fertilizer throughout the season and can be mixed into the soil at planting time also.
2 Aspirin will actually help your tomato plants grow. The salicylic acid in aspirin will protect your plants from blight and other diseases.  Put 2 or 3 tablets in with your plant.
3 Eggshells! The high calcium content in the shells will ensure you grow the best tomatoes and keep them well fed with all the calcium they need for the whole season.

And finally, a couple of tomato jokes –

Does Santa like to grow tomatoes?
YES -- he gets to hoe, hoe, hoe!

Do tomatoes and potatoes have anything in common?
O course - Toes.

What did Arnold Schwarzenegger say to his tomato seeds after watering them for the first time?
You’ve been germinated.

(aren’t you sorry you weren’t here for the Fest and fun????)


(okay – think about it – it might take a minute or so ………)


13 Jun 2022

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

So Many GOOD Books . . .


Comment:  Sooooo I understand authors come up with titles that will catch the eye of the greatest number of readers – like the next one.  I wonder that myself – when will there be good news.  Or, one I reviewed some time back,  If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him – I thought that many times during the married years.  Of course some titles make my eyes roll so far back I can nearly see behind me.  Those usually are the heavy duty romance types and I pass on those.  Sometimes I chose a book because I like the author but without a list (that I carry with me) I can’t be certain if I’ve read a certain book only looking at the title.  Onward.

When Will There Be Good News
by Kate Atkinson

The story opens thirty years in the past. Six-year-old Joanna Mason lives in a remote house with her mother and two siblings after her father has abandoned them. Her mother is determined to survive and to do well by her kids. A man arrives and . . .
In the present day, Jackson Brodie is following a young boy at a playground in order to collect a strand of his hair.
Regina Chase is a teen girl babysitting for Joanna Hunter (nee Mason).  Joanna is now thirty-six, married, and with a young baby. Reggie is a smart but troubled girl.
Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe has a history with Jackson Brodie and now a crime has occurred that involves both Joanna and Reggie.

So, this was a difficult book to describe without telling too much or too little.  Honestly, I chose it because I liked the title – When Will There Be Good News.  That said – it’s a great book, great story.  The writer connects all the characters so smoothly you don’t have to check back several chapters to see who exactly someone is.  I like Kate Atkinson and am reading another of her Jackson Brodie series. 

Bones to Ashes
Kathy Reichs

The discovery of a skeleton in Acadia, Canada, reawakens a traumatic episode for forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan: Could the young girl’s remains be those of Évangéline Landry, Tempe’s friend who disappeared when Tempe was twelve? Exotic, free-spirited, and slightly older, Évangéline enlivened Tempe’s summer beach visits…then vanished amid whispers that she was “dangerous.” Now, faced with bones scarred with inexplicable lesions, Tempe is consumed with solving a decades-old mystery — while her lover, detective Andrew Ryan, urgently needs her attention on a wave of teenage abductions and murders. With both Ryan and her ex-husband making surprising future plans, Tempe may soon find that her world has painfully and irrevocably changed once again.

This book fits into the “sometimes I chose a book because I like the author but ….” category.  When I found this book at the resale shop, I did pull out my list and – nope somehow hadn’t read this one.  This is an older book in the Temperance Brennan series - #10 of 21.  So, I did know what to expect about a few things (ie: her relationship with ex-husband Pete and with her lover Ryan).  As for the story – excellent and highly recommended.  Just a note - if you haven't read any of the Brennan books, it's best to start with #1 as Tempe's life changes as time goes by.

All This and Heaven Too
Rachel Field

This number-one bestselling novel (of 1938) is based on the true story of one of the most notorious murder cases in French history. The heroine, Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, governess to the children of the Duc de Praslin, found herself strangely drawn to her employer; when the Duc murdered his wife in the most savage fashion, she had to plead her own case before the Chancellor of France in a sensational murder trial that helped bring down the French king. After winning her freedom, Henriette took refuge in America, where she hosted a salon visited by all the socialites of New York and New England. This thrilling historical book, of romance, passion, mystery, and intrigue, has laid claim to the hearts and minds of readers for generations.

Honesty here . . . I decided to add this one in today’s list because of a Boud blog where in she talks about watching an old b&w movie.  I first read this book as an older teenager.  I found it in Mother’s bookcase . . . and never gave it back to her.  As it happened, not long after reading it, the movie based on the book showed on the late show.  The movie starred Charles Boyer and Betty Davis and is also very good.  I have reread this book several times and each time it has evoked a different response.  However over all "All This and Heaven Too" gets an excellent - highly recommended.

One more and I’m done.

Marauder, a Novel of The Oregon Files
Clive Cussler, Boyd Morrison

While interrupting an attack on a Kuwaiti oil tanker, Juan Cabrillo and his team discover something even more dangerous: a ruthless billionaire's dying wish has allowed a paralyzing chemical to end up in the hands of a terrorist group. When an Oregon crew member falls victim to the poison, Juan Cabrillo will stop at nothing to find an antidote before it is too late. He and his team must connect an ancient mystery with a cunning modern enemy in order to save millions of innocent lives, including their own.

Of all the books under the Clive Cussler name, I like the Oregon Files series the best.  Typical in a Cussler style, the women are smart and beautiful (even the bad ones), the men are smart and beautiful (not the bad ones so much), the hero(es) are all deadly, smart and mostly beautiful.  It’s full of action and fanciful gadgets.  The ship, The Oregon, is (on the outside) a dilapidated freight steamer.  However on the inside, it is a beautiful, technical marvel, highly modern spy ship.  It’s a good series – a bit of brain candy.

And, my work is done here.  

I have to get ready for the Wharton Garden Club's Tomato Fest, which I am hosting tomorrow (yes, possibly - probably lost my mind when I said I'd do it).  More about tomatoes coming soon.


8 Jun 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022



About the last “chore” I do every day is water the front and back yard.  And, because it’s very hot during the day, I usually wait until after 7pm.  The sun is considering going down and most of the yard is in shade or shadow. 

Now, in general, I’m not afraid of snakes but I will say, as I was watering the Star Jasmine, seeing this,

gave me a bit of a startle.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I startled it too.  I stepped away and the snake made a fast dash for the hibiscus bushes by the house and from there, I’m thinking, over to the giant rose.  I sent it along unmolested. 

This is an internet picture as the TX Rat Snake moved along at a pretty good clip and I didn’t think I needed to ask it to stop for a picture.

Texas rat snakes are medium-large non-poisonous constrictors that eat small animals like rats, mice, and small birds.  These snakes have little interest in humans and try to avoid us.  They will however, if cornered, bite.  They are great climbers and are often found in trees.  The positive side?  They keep rodents away.  They are comfortable living in urban areas and, if you’re so inclined, they can be kept as a pet (think I’ll pass on that).

Well, at least I won't be worrying about mice/rats in the house.  That actually does scare me!

7 Jun 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022

Bustin’ Out All Over


June is . . . . . .

I have spent the past 10 days working outside . . . . in the extreme heat . . . . lifting heavy plants, digging in the clay we call dirt, carrying heavy bags of garden soil, and fun stuff like that.  I’m pretty sure I get an “ATTA GIRL”. 

You’d think I’d lose weight.  I mean – all that stuff – lifting, digging, etc – is exercise, right?  Add in the sweating and – lose weight – right?  No.

I am pleased though.  The yard is officially done for summer. 

The herb garden looks nice – all is growing well.  I have herbs out the wing-wang.  I may have made a bit of a judgement error though.  I planted sunflowers this year.  In the herb garden.  On purpose.  It’s been many years since I planted sunflowers so I think I forgot how big they get.  Really big – like 10 feet tall big.

But, they are pretty and, oddly enough, are shading the herbs (good when our temps are reaching 100° - in JUNE). 

I swore, when I moved here, I was not going to have many, many flower beds.  So, instead, with the exception of the herb garden, I’ve sprinkled planters around the yard.

Yes, yes – that is a child’s wading pool.  BUT is cost me $7 and a planter that size would be $75.      (put Ato – po tot o). 

In one planter (do not burst my bubble - planter) I’ve planted daylilies.  This is a new one – pretty, yes?

Saturday I had my third Earth Lab at Hesed House of Wharton (our community outreach program).  It was on Beekeeping and our speaker,

Ed, gave us a lot of information about bees.  For instance – at least here in TX, in some instances, bees are considered livestock and the owner can apply for an ag exemption.  Who knew you could “wrangle” bees?  Other things we learned – there’s a difference between a hive, a swarm, and a colony.  Also, like any livestock, hive bees do occasionally require “hands-on” attention if there are pests, predators, and diseases.  You can buy queen bee pheromones, which can help control the hive.  And, if you walk outside and see this –

hanging on your fence or house, you probably want to call an expert to come and rehome them (not pest control, instead look for local beekeepers).

I think the rest of my summer will be spent coddiwompling around stopping at fun places like the grocery store, post office, or bank.  Ah yes, exciting life here in big W.

One more thing, completely unrelated to anything else and because it made me cringe and laugh at the same time.


6 Jun 2022