Monday, May 26, 2008

well, fuzzy pics... my rechargable battery charger is no longer charging... dagnabbit.

Anyway, Memorial Day has brought the first gardenia bloom of the year... I don't know what variety this is. It's an antique variety, grown from a clipping from an abandoned farm house... the blooms have that great classic scent though...

This is just a color shot of marigolds, coleus and variagated agave growing in a pot... you're probably getting an idea of my gardening style... simply put, no bare dirt. I will cram as many plants as I can into any small place. The agave will eventually fill this pot, but until then, I'll keep shoving in annual...

And this is a half pot full of opuntia microdasies... I planted a pair of these pots in front of a brick wall, I thought that the golden spination would look good against the brick. This is all new growth, so the color isn't as bright as it will be later... we'll see how it works out. The pots are sitting in a bed of southern snowbells, the green leaves just now dying back... so I'll be putting in some annuals here soon.
Hope eveyone is having a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

hello again...

wow... I wonder if I should delete yesterdays post? It's really in very bad taste... but we can't always be PC...

anyway, spent most of today in the yard gardening... I feel much better today. Took a few pics, since I was out there... nothing really new though.

It's really amazing how working out there in the yard calms my nerves and allows me to refocus on what's really important... It's kind of like compost therapy. Anyway, my apologies for the truly disgusting post, but I think I'm going to leave it, at least for the time being.

drama, trauma, DISTURBING POST!

well, no pics in this post... and soon you'll know why...

for some obscure reason, some wonderful person left a box in my carport. Inside the box is a yellow towel wrapped around something, and the something proved to be a dead dog.

I have no idea what they were thinking, I have no idea what possessed them to drop it here, but it has been an experience I do not care to repeat.

So, aproximately 7 PM, we call the cops.

the dispatcher says that animal control will not be working this weekend... so to put it in the trash. Due to the holiday, we do not have a trash pick-up till Thursday. Police dispatcher says put it in a dumpster. No Dumpster here. Nearest Dumpster is in an apartment complex, behind security gates... no help from police dispatcher.

Poor deceased beast is already developing an insect issue... so I get those thick lawn bags and double bag it.

About 9 PM we call a 24 hour vet, thinking they may know where and how this can be disposed of... no, we don't have anyplace to bury it. No, there is no dumpster. They give us a number to the 24 hour animal control hotline.

9;30 PM, animal control hotline has no answer. (it's memorial day weekend remember?)

9:45 PM call the cops again. They inform us that they will definitely have an officer there within an hour.

12:30 AM Cops bang on my door.

12:45 AM Cops leave, telling me they will definitely get a call in to animal control.

12.55 AM Cops call me, tell me they have put in a report, but that Animal Control will probably not be able to get here before Tuesday, as they probably aren't working. But, if the animal in question is under 20 lbs, I am allowed to dispose of it myself (hint, hint, nudge, nudge...)

1.15 AM, I am driving around with deceased animal in the back of my pickup truck, then putting said animal in the dumpster at the car wash 3 miles from my house.

1:30 AM, I am back home, drinking vodka and vowing that if anybody ever asks, that thing weighed less than 20 pounds.... and racking my brain to remember everything I ever knew about voodoo, because whoever dumped that poor animal in my carport must pay!

Now, do you see why there are no pics in this post?

Sorry, truly disgusting post, but I had to get this off my chest.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I found this interesting...

but I don't know if you will...

the thing is that I've been listening to National Public Radio all day every day. They have good interviews... well, they actually had reporters on the ground in China to do a story about Chinese life when the massive earthquake happened, so they had excellent coverage for the earthquake.

Sometimes, when I come to the blog, I hit the Next Blog link, just to see what I can find. And I found the blog of this young lady who lives very near the epicenter of the quake. In English. It's kind of interesting to hear what the local people are saying...

anyway, here's the link if your interested...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

same old same old

not one thing to say really, but I need to make sure that i don't get out of the habit of posting...

I've been lurking over at ebay, on the message boards... especially the feedback board.

The feedies are all in a tizzy... ebay, as planned, has put through their new feedback rules. Now buyers can leave all the negatives & nuetral feedbacks they want, and the sellers can't leave anything but positive. Which meens, now, 3 days later, there are buyers already scamming sellers.

They buy things, then demand free shipping, or they'll leave a negative. Or they get an item in the mail, and demand a refund and no they are not returning it, and if they don't get their money back, they'll give you a neg.

The problem is, that if you get too many negs, then ebay, thru paypal (which they own) will hold your money for 21 days before they give it to you. Or, if you're a power seller, if the feedback rating is too low, then you have to pay extra to list... Oh, and nuetrals aren't nuetral, ebay counts them against you in your rating. It's really a mess... and I'm glad that I closed my ebay store. I'm still selling in the antique mall, and I may run a few auctions, but I don't want to deal with this mess.

The heat is hitting in Texas... glad I got my AC fixed a few weeks ago. We're running in the low 90's right now, which actually isn't that bad and we'll be in the 100's soon enough.

As I said, nothing much to really say... just wanted to check in...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look who I found when I went to pick up the garden hose... hopefully he'll set up housekeeping and he'll keep the bugs down...

Another Cactus flower...

The first bloom of the year from this beauty... I think I've told you before how I came by it, but here we go again... I was at an estate sale, and when I was paying the people, I looked out the window and saw this neglected cactus... Anyway, I bought it for 50 cents.

When I got it home, I looked it over, and it was two heads, in an old six inch plastic pot that only had 1 inch of soil in the bottom... I potted it up, it bloomed 1 month later and it's bloomed reliably about 3 times every summer for the past 5 years, and has at least trippled in size...
This is the first bloom of the year, but if you look closely, hiding under the spines are more buds coming up that should open over the next few weeks.
E. vivipara, formerly known as Coryphanta vivipara, is a winter hardy plant, reliably hardy up through zone 7, sometimes into zone 6, and, this plant at least, does seem to grow and bloom better with a winter chill. This spring I planted it out in the rock garden, and I'll be leaving it outside all winter. I also planted it so that one of the heads is deaper... I wanted to see if that would encourage it to pup out with offsets...

Couple of other shots from around the yard, since I had the camera... Littel Dahlberg daisies, I planted one of these 4 years ago, and ever since there's usually a couple around, having reseeded themselves. Cute little guys, this is growing up between the road curb and the rocks that edge the agave bed...

And a close-up of the striped leaves of Canna 'Pretoria' One of my favorite striped cannas, as the stripes are fairly reliable, and they don't sun burn as bad as some of the others. And the bright orange blooms don't hurt either....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Egyptian Onions

Well, the pics are a little fuzzy (I think the battery in the camera was low, it has a problem focusing when it's tired. But then so do I... ) The Egyptian Onion, aka: Walking Onion, Winter Onion or Tree Onion, is a great edible oddity in the garden...

I grow these around the Crepe Myrtle in the front yard. In the summer, Crepe Myrtles in this area are attacked by small, almost unseeable insects which leave the foliage covered by a sticky sap... which then becomes covered with dust and debris which stick to it. There are several insecticides that you pretty much have to spray every two weeks, but I heard that planting an onion under the bush will 'flavor' the shrubs sap and keep the bugs off. Since the bush was in the front yard, I decided that the Egyptian onions were odd enough to be interesting... they've been there two years, and no sticky, icky leaves... As to them flavoring the crepe myrtles sap... I have no idea, as I have never tasted a crepe myrtle leaf to find out, and I have no intention to do so in the future.

The onions grow long stalks that sprout miniature onion bulbs, which then can sprout even smaller onion bulbs on the end of their leaves, as is happening in the top pic... Now the parent plant tends to be too tough to eat as scallions, but if you pull the bulbils apart and plant them, in a few weeks, they'll be nice tender scallions for cooking or salads. Also, the small bulbs are sometimes taken off, allowed to dry and the leaves die back, then pickled. I've never done that, as I like scallions too much.
Left on the plant, the stems will bend over, and the bulbils will sprout where they touch the ground... about 2 or 3 feet away. Hence the name walking onions, as they seem to be walking across the yard...
The real reason I got these though, is that I remember almost every house in the neighborhood had these when I was a kid... Strange how some things stick with you. I also have a fondness for sunflowers and hollyhocks by wooden fences, for the same reason. (but only the single hollyhocks, the double pom-pom ones just don't look right to me.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prickly Pears...

Well, these are the infamous prickly pears... It does look a bit weedy in the background. A condition that is being aggravated by the unusually wet spring and early summer that we're experiencing right now. These are actually planted in the back alley behind my house. Every fall, after the first frost, we pick the fruit and make jelly... great stuff.

These are hesperaloe seedlings... and this is my favorite way to sprout cactus seedlings... I put a little soil in a ziplock baggie, put in the seeds and some water and use a straight pin to pin it to the wrong side of a curtain. The plants get light and humidity, and there's no little pots sitting on the windowsill where they annoy people in the house. These seedlings are about ready to be pricked out and planted individually, or maybe 3 to a pot so I can get an early clump... I harvested these seeds from a neighbors plant last year, and they seem to be sprouting like wildfire.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Well, another week started. Slooooooow Monday, and when it's this slow you'd think I'd get home sooner, but nope, I have to sit in parking lots. Until rush hour starts, then I can go home. Couldn't wait to get home today, because the great big Prickly Pear in the back yard is starting to bloom, but the buds had all closed up by the time I got here, so I couldn't get a pic. Maybe tomorrow, but I can always wait until the weekend. After all, the thing will be blooming for a month...

This is the prickly pear which produces huge dark purple fruits that my mom makes into jelly for me every year... you can make jelly from the pears, or "tuna" you buy in the store, but they're a bit pricey, and I don't think the flavor is as good. The color of the jelly definitely isn't as good... Mom's jelly comes out deep magenta and tastes somewhere between a cranberry and a raspberry.

I'll ask her for the recipe, in case anybody wants to try it this fall...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Deadly beauty...

This plant was origionally sold to me as Datura metaloides, but some research tells me that this is probably Datura inoxia v. metaloides. Your more likely to know it under one of its common names, Jimson weed, Angel Trumpet, Devils Horn, Devils Apple, Thorn Apple, Yerba de diablo... among others.

The blooms measure 5 inches wide, and each trumpet is 8 inches long. During a full moon in the heat of summer, the plants can produce over 100 blooms a night, in well watered garden conditions, and while the plant is extremely beautiful, it shows up in history more for its poisonous and narcotic properties.

The name Jimson weed should probably refer only to another member of this Genus, D. Stramonium. In 1676, British soldiers were sent to quell an uprising in the colony of Jamestown Virginia, known as Bacon's Rebellion. On their way, they landed to forage for fresh food on land before heading further south. Soldiers pulled some of the plants, most probably mistaking them for the highly edible Burdock, and threw them in the pot with other greens. The British sailors then consumed the greens and promptly went AWOL and berserk for the next 5 to 11 days... (accounts as to the time frame vary) Since the plant was credited for saving the rebels, the plant became known as the Jamestown weed, and then overtime this has bees simplified to Jimson. Incidentally, Roman soldiers under the command of Julius Ceasar also fell prey to another relative, D. alba, with much the same result.

Ingesting of any part of this plant can result in various symptoms, up to and including death, but that hasn't kept a few rather daring idiots from trying to find Nirvana by chewing it. Most of the time, they end up in the hospital for the next few weeks, and occasionally they end up dead.

Here in my yard, it is in an enclosed area, to keep it away from the more experimentally inclined, and I just let it be beautiful with one exception... every morning I pull off the last nights blooms, for three reasons.

one: If allowed to go to seed, one plant can easily turn into thousands... and

two: The plants bloom better when not allowed to go to seed, and

three: most people who try to get a "high" off of it do so by chewing the seeds, and they won't be getting any from my yard...

Other than placement, the plants live up to their weed heritage... they are not fussy at all about soil conditions, and, while they like a little extra water and minimal fertilizing, they don't require it. Here in zone 7, they sprout from the root every spring, and grow to 3 feet high and sprawl 4 to 5 feet wide. Further north, you will probably need to mulch it heavily, or allow one or two of the thorny seed pods to develop.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So, I kept remembering little pieces of this poem all day, and I could hardly wait to get home to look it up. Don't you hate it when you remember something, but you don't really remember it? This is one that I had to memorise when I was a kid, for extra credit in school or something.

What Grandpa Mouse Said

The moon's a holy owl queen,
She keeps them in a jar
Under her arm till evening,
Then sallies forth to war.

She pours them out upon us.
They hoot with horrid noise
And eat the naughty mousie-girls
And wicked mousie boys.

So climb the moon-vine every night
And too the owl queen pray;
Leave good green cheese by moon-lit trees
For her to take away.

And never squeek, my children,
Nor gnaw the smoke house door;
The owl-queen then will love us,
And send her birds no more.

by Vachel Lindsay

Anyway, this first week back at work has not been the best... I'm really fealing my age here... But the week is over half over, and I'm still standing, so I suppose that amounts to something.

I've been listening to National Public Radio a lot, as I drive around. I figure I might as well keep myself informed. It would appear that they're all predicting that oil will go up to over 200 a barrel. That means that gas will be over $7.00 a gallon. I'm seriously going to have to find another job. And start riding my bike, because I ain't starting that truck for nothing I don't have to.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

hello, nothing much...

had a decent day at work. Kind of.

Had to drive 95 miles to Bonham, TX in a really bad thunderstorm. I actually saw lightning hit a tree! I mean, I know lightning hits trees, you hear about it all the time, but until you actually see it, it's just theoretical. Kind of like Iceland. You know Icelands there, but you never once think that it has anything to do with you...

So, anyway, I obviously didn't get to take any pics, as I was too busy trying not to wreck, and I didn't see anything worth taking a picture of. I'm sure that Bonham has plenty of photogenic sites, but not in the middle of a thunderstorm. Then I had to drive back down south, and then to Midlothian, which is about 30 miles south of Dallas, then back up north, and you're probably getting a general drift of my day...

Finally got back to Arlington and decided to go thrift store shopping. Found a great pair of Luchesse boots, which I could sell on ebay for mega-bucks but I'm keeping them for me. They need to find their own dang boots...

There's more big storms coming tonight supposedly, and they'll probably be hanging around tomorrow.

Just wanted to check in.

Monday, May 05, 2008

1st day back...

An absolutely horrid day back at work. It's not that I was overworked, it's that I was under worked. Literally spent about 2 hours sitting in parking lots in not very nice parts of Dallas, waiting for someone, somewhere to need something delivered...

Did find this beauty growing by the side of the road in a vacant lot I was waiting by... A pomegranate bush. They're fairly common here as ornamental fruit trees... this one didn't seem to have any fruit on it from last year, and since it was the only one around for a good mile, probably isn't getting the proper pollination. But at 8 feet tall and around, it was putting on a darned good display... I understand that these fruit bushes are native to near dessert areas, and thats probably why they do so well in our area.

But back to my point, I'm not the kind of guy who can sit around doing nothing for an extended period of time. I start to think too much. That's never safe.

It shouldn't be a problem tomorrow... I've got one of those extended long distance drives tomorrow. 97 miles to Bonham, TX. It'll take all morning, but it'll pay good... and I'll take my camera, since I might see something worth taking a pic of.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Busy Sunday...

well, I've been off of work for a whole week, and today I was just gardening a lot, between naps. This last weeks "vacation" has left me far more exhausted than working, but I've come out of it with a new flea market booth, a new AC system in my car, a new (used) stereo in my car, and a couple of thinned out iris beds... no pics of the iris... new beds aren't that attractive.

sent fifty gazillion iris out to my sister so that she could do something with them.

here's a pic of charcoal briquette kitty... who didn't appreciate her nap being disturbed...

and here's a pic of the cactus again, the first bloom dying off and the second opening... (If I appear to be fixated on this cactus, it's because it's a fairly new and it's the first bloom I've had from it.)and here's a pic of the agave americana, yucca, rosemary and various other plants in a tiny little space in the front yard about 3 weeks ago, this little 4 x 4 bed seems to catch a lot of seedlings.... The white iris in there are one of the batches that I had to thin out. There were too many, they were threatening to crack the sidewalk, and that's really a small bed. Anyway, reduced it down to 2 plants, which will be a dozen by bloom time next spring/summer.

I guess I'll have to go to work to get any relaxation time... LOL.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


According to one legend, Buddha meditated under a bodhi tree and achieved enlightenment, attaining complete awakening by realizing that the cause of human suffering was ignorance, and also realizing the proper steps to eliminate it.

According to another legend, the Chinese princess Si Ling-chi was sitting under a mulberry tree when the cocoon of a moth fell into her cup of hot tea, and began to unravel... hence silk was discovered.

Still another legend says Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree when a fruit fell on his head, and inspired him to research the nature of gravity.

And the moral of all this is, that if people wish to attain great things, they should probably linger under a tree...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday, May 01, 2008

More cactus pics...

well, I'm having a bit of a fit posting nowdays aren't I?

Echinocereus reichenbachii v. baileyii, a.k.a. Baileys lace cactus. You can see him down the page... The bud on the right should be opening tomorrow... the great thing is that yesterday, these buds were both the same size. That's a lot of growth for one day !

Passiflora incarnata... the native Texas passionflower... just to prove I can grow something besides cactus, I can also grow rampaging vines...

The name passionflower refers to the passion of Christ. The three pistols are the three nails of the crucifixion, the five stamens are the five wounds suffered by Christ, the corrolla is the crown of thorns, and the 10 petals are the 10 disciples that were present at the crucifixion... or that's what the priests told the natives when they tried to convert them, right before they used them as near slave labor... but that's another story.
just an agave. Don't know exactly what kind, I bought it from one of those people by the side of the road. But I like it, and I'll figure it out eventually...
woke up in the wee hours of the morning. Not by choice, there's a small black demon cat responsible for all this...

Anyway, I decided to check in again.

Closed my ebay store last night... I know that a lot of the ebay stores are closing to protest the new fees and feedback policies. For me it's the fees. I just no longer find it viable to pay ebay a monthly charge when they're not giving me any help. It's almost impossible to get any traffic from their search engine, and they seem to be going out of their way to make the site very seller un-friendly. They keep carping on about keeping the customers happy, but they seem to be forgetting that the sellers are the ones paying them, so the sellers are their customers... the buyers are my customers.

Anyway, I'll still run a few auctions, but the store, "buy it now" listings are not paying for themselves, and I don't have the time to manage those listings while I'm trying to do anything else... so I'll be removing the link to the ebay store on here too...

A few pics that I've been meaning to add... here's a little abandoned farm I saw when I was delivering last week... I have a weekness for abandoned buildings. Don't ask me why, I don't know...

And here's the flower-pot tower I was talking about a couple of weeks ago. A great wat to grow hen & chicks (semperviviums) or encheverias. And easy to build, you stick a nice sturdy metal rod in the ground, string on the pots like giant beads, making sure to lean the rim against the pole, and fill with dirt.

and then, there's the regular pot tower... I've always liked these, because they remind me of pagodas for some reason...

and I'm adding the play blogger link... it's one of my new favorite toys. It's this thing that shows all the photos that bloggers post in a continuous slide show. It's very interesting how the images of everybodies plants, families, pets, kids just flow by and interact with each other.