Saturday, July 23, 2022

Just Around the House

I am of the firm belief that the first things to climb out of Pandora's box, just before greed, envy, hatred, etc., were roaches, mosquitoes and FIRE ANTS.  Just in case you are not familiar with fire ants (omigod where do you live and can I move there!) – they are not the little annoying “sugar ants” that can invade a pantry.  Fire ants build huge nests

yes – like this

and often attack vulnerable animals like foals, calves, human’s wearing sandals and can kill or severely maim.  Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom.  For humans, this is a painful sting, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire (hence the name), and the after-effects of the sting can range from deadly (sensitive people) to just severely painful. 

Now, my house is something of a pier and beam arrangement with a sizeable crawl space underneath it.  When I moved into this house, I woke up one morning to find the Demon Duo’s food bowls filled with ants.  Yes, fire ants.  My reaction (after many curses I learned from husband MHN – if you knew him, you’ll be impressed with my vocabulary), was first to toss the ants, food, and bowls into the yard and attack them with ant spray.  My second action was to follow the ant trail and caulk the tiny space between the outside wall and floor.  Then, I walked all around the outside of the house and put down ant killer and ant bait.  It seemed to work and problem of ants in the house went away. 

Until last week. 

One evening last week, when I went to clean up the kitchen and settle all things for bedtime, I discovered the Demon Duo’s food bowls FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH A WRITHING MASS OF FIRE ANTS.  This time there was a river of ants going back and forth, under the stove toward the back wall. 

More curses. 

Next morning I wiggled the stove out of its place and climbed behind it, cleaned the floor and caulked the wall.  Also, there was some ant killer involved.  Haven’t seen more ants in the house.  But, and here’s the part that worries me, that wall – isn’t really an outside wall so I’m not sure where they (the evil, wicked, malevolent, foul, vile ant creatures) are and how they got in. 

I just hope to god nobody ever has to climb under the house for any reason.  I am convinced there is an 1100sqft ant bed under there. 

We are still in the grip of drought and extreme heat.  Right this minute, I hate to think what August will be like (August is usually our hottest month). 

There are farmers just across the street from me – cotton and corn.  Both crops have done poorly.  The cotton is looking really bad now and large swaths are dying. 

People here are actually hoping for a storm in the Gulf that will bring us some rain.  I’m not quite to the point of hoping for a hurricane but a tropical storm would be alright provided it doesn’t decide to stop and dump 10 inches of rain (yes, I’ve seen that happen).  I know, picky, picky, picky.

Based on a recommendation from “The Bug”, I recently read A State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton.  It’s very good and I could tell which parts came from which person.  It surely is “a high-stakes thriller of international intrigue that features behind-the-scenes global drama with informed details only an insider could know”.  You might try it.

And, after reading, watching or listening to the news, here are a few things to maybe take some of the doom and gloom out ….

I am a Master Gardener, you know, so pay particular attention here.

possibly someone had too much time on their hands!

And, finally

23 Jul 2022

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Transformation and Nonsense


Times, they are a changing…..  I had an appointment this morning.  As I got into the car, I remembered – damn! no phone.  Stop.  Went back inside to get my phone.  Then back to the car and off to said appointment.  And, I thought – it hasn’t been so long that taking the phone with me was even an option.  Growing up, did I have a phone?  Well, my parents had a phone that was hooked to the house (Mohawk 42473 – weird how I remember that phone number).  I honestly don’t think I ever talked on it to friends and I’m not even sure I know where it was in the house – probably one in the kitchen, maybe the den and one in my parents’ bedroom.  No cell phones certainly.  And, no cell phones when my children were born, young, teenagers, young adults.  I finally got my own cell phone in 2008 and never remembered to take it with me and, if I did, it usually wasn’t charged because I never remembered to plug it in.  Something that used to irritate my husband no end.  And, yet today --- I stop, go back inside to get it.  Sixty-one years undone in just 14.  Changes.


Said the pelican to the elephant,
“I think we should marry, I do.
‘cause there’s no name that rhymes with me,
And no one else rhymes with you.”
Said the elephant to the pelican,
“There’s sense to what you’ve said,
For rhyming’s as good a reason as any
For any two to wed.”
And so the elephant wed the pelican,
And they dined upon lemons and limes,
And now they have a baby pelicant,
And everybody rhymes
     -Shel Silverstein

Speaking of change, I’ve always thought my grandmother saw the greatest amount of change in modern times.  She was born in 1887 and died in 1969.  As a child she rode in a horse drawn buggy and as an adult, she saw men go to the moon.  She lived through a pandemic in her time – Spanish Flu - when nearly 50 million people died.  She saw women get the right to vote and lived through two world wars.  She was married at age 22 and widowed at age 55.  She drank hot toddies and smoked like a little chimney and I never once saw her wear anything other than a dress.  She married only once and I asked her why – why didn’t she marry a second time.  One damn man was enough, she told me. 

I wonder, sometimes, what my grandchildren will think about my life and changes.

A spider lives inside my head
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web
Of silken threads and silver strings
To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles
And specks of dried-up tears
And dust of dreams that catch and cling
For years and years and years…
-Shel Silverstein

In 1987, I got the first computer my company put in a field office.  It used DOS and WordPerfect.  It was hot stuff!  Of course, compared to my laptop today – it was a clunky slow thing with a small screen.  No internet like today with everything you ever wanted to know at fingertips.  I could sign into the company main frame (located in CO) via phone line but that was pretty much all.  Nowadays I go online in the mornings to keep up with the world - check email, news (not doing that currently – all the news is terrible), and weather (not doing that anymore either because our heat index value today is 124° and I don’t think I need to know that – ugh!).  However, when the computer/internet goes down for some reason, I’m somewhat lost.  Everything I need/want to do involves the computer.  And, yet I managed to be without for 40 years; no panic, no worry.  Change, change.


Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
Shel Silverstein

The ”Whatif’s” plague me still.  How about you?  

According to Benjamin Franklin – In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.  Well, okay but I’d say – In this world nothing can be said to be certain except change, everything changes.  Who knows! maybe there are immortals out there just keeping quiet.  Maybe someday $$$$’s won’t run the world.  Maybe someday idiots with guns and bombs and wmds will be ejected to a cement box on a deserted planet far, far away.  

Oh, and maybe someday whoever is controlling the weather thermostat will read the instruction book!

If we had hinges on our heads
There wouldn’t be no sin,
Cause we could take the bad stuff out,
And leave the good stuff in.
Shel Silverstein

13 Jul 2022


Friday, July 1, 2022

Odds and Ends


My sister commented yesterday that her Crape Myrtle trees have pretty much stopped blooming.  Usually they bloom from mid-June to September. 

I told her it’s because the trees realize it’s not July, it’s September.  I say this because we’ve had an unseasonably, irritating, hotter-than-hell April, May, and June.  Therefore, no matter what the calendar says – it’s time for September weather which means it’s going to be less hot very soon.

Do Not Burst My Bubble!

Across the street from me are large fields that historically plant cotton or corn.  Currently, the farmer using those fields has planted cotton.  I bring this up because in addition to being very warm, it has also been very windy and very dry.  Honestly – off and on, it’s been like

Okay, maybe not exactly like that but local dryness in addition to the Saharan dust makes it pretty close.  Plus, it totally makes my allergies bad, terrible, awful, dreadful, and horrific.

Back to Cotton - Did you know that cotton is a member of Malvaceae – the mallow family. It’s related to hibiscus, hollyhocks, and okra. 

In many states it’s illegal to grow cotton without a permit that states you’re growing a small amount that you don’t intend to use for commercial value.  And, while it’s actually a perennial, it is grown as an annual to help control pests.

The farmer said to the boll weevil "I see you're on the square"
Boll weevil said to the farmer "Say yep! My whole darn family's here"
(We gotta have a home, gotta have a home)

The boll is the seed pod with a cushy material surrounding the seeds.  Way back and long ago (like 6000 BC) some enterprising person figured out the cushy material could be spun and woven into fabric.  Here's a Bonus! cotton bolls come in different colors – brown, pink, green, blue and yellow.  Who knew!

And speaking of the Malvaceae family – do you enjoy hibiscus tea?  I do.  I decided, once upon a time, to try to grow the type of hibiscus tea is made from.  Another did you know ….. there are more than 300 species of plants go by the name “hibiscus,” but only roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa var.) have the edible calyces surrounding the red fruits that make tea.  It’s a fairly hand’s-on plant needing a specific amount of composting, fertilizing, pruning, and general petting to produce.  Unfortunately, my planting attitude leans toward “Grow damnit or I’ll jerk you out of the ground and throw you on the burn pile”(Of course, this could be why I am not a farmer – lack of patience.)

It's a perennial in subtropic areas or can be grown in a container if you live in the cold part of the universe.  It’s something a little different to plant.  My plant did moderately well, produced enough of the fruits for a couple of pitchers of tea.  Unfortunately the following year we had THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2017 and it drown.

Obviously you can tell that there’s nothing fun going on here as I am talking about odds and ends.

I have my next Earth Lab at Hesed House coming up soon.  While the program should be good and interesting, I am currently in a state of total panic about “will anyone actually show up???” 

You should come!

Guess I’ll close for today before my brain spits out any other weird plant stuff.


1 Jul 2022