Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekends are busy...

By here's a few pics I managed to take at the flea...

Morning glories growing on the fence.   These are the wild varieties that bloom this type of year after the fall rains start. 

A six foot tall iron bird cage.... if you don't have a bird, they're great for displaying plants.  Orchids look great, or bromiliads.  Its.asking price is 150.00.

A teak Victorian rocker... priced at $175.00, but we could talk her down a little. 

And just for fun...

The soundtrack to Valley Of The Dolls. A hipster must have... for a dollar...

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Once upon a time, almost every cactus you see was called a Cereus.  This is generally how plant classification works... It starts very simply.  Water holding desert plants with viscious spines are obviously different from all the other plants, so lets call them the same thing. 

Then, well this spiny plant was obviously a different kind of spiny plant than that one, so you begin sorting them out, and you eventually separate things into groups of genus's of their own, and so on and so forth.  Some of these splits are fairly straightforward... The Giant Saguaro started Cereus giganteus, went to Pilocereus giganteus, and eventually settled into Carnegiea gigantea.  And it's fairly obvious that, say, a Mammillaria is not a Carnegiea.  And some of those Mammillaria are obviously and noticeably different from the others, let's call them Escobaria... etc.

Then science makes an advance, people look at things under their magnifying glasses... then their microscopes, then electron microscopes, then genetic testing comes into play.  All this in the interest of accuracy and making plants easier to ID and actually making it nearly impossible for the average Joe, who let's face it can't reasonably be expected to have an electron microscope laying around gathering dust in the garage, to ID that really cool plant he just bought of the clearance table at Wal-Mart with 100% certainty on his own, so he's relying on the tag stuck to the side of the pot which may or may not be right, because the nursery where the plant came from doesn't have an electron microscope either. 

Let's face it folks... you need a masters degree to understand the language in some of those scientific papers, much less the actual science involved. 

Well, the work separating those cereus types is ongoing, and as more advances happen, will continue.  And some of those diligent little scientists have turned their attention to Opuntia. 

At first, Opuntia seems a fairly straight-forward genus.  Most of them grow in pads or sections.  Most have spines, and at the base of the spine, in the ariole, there are little mini-spines called glochids which are much more troublesome than the spines ever hoped to be.  These are collectively called Prickly Pears.  Some of them are called Cholla.  Most of us can wrap our brains around this pretty easily.

Turns out, not quite as straightforward as we thought.  While, most Opuntia are still Opuntia... it is being split into several genera.  Currently, according to Wikipedia, fifteen genera.  I fully expect more to come... Under the subfamily Opuntioideae, we have:

1.  Austrocylindropuntia (cholla-ish)
2.  Cumulopuntia (cholla-ish.  Actually, even more "ish")
3.  Cylindropuntieae (cholla)
4.  Grusonia (cholla)
5.  Pereskiopsis (most of us wouldn't recognize Pereskiopsis as a prickly pear, or even a cactus)
6.  Quiabentia (another that doesn't even look like a cactus.)
7.  Brasiliopuntia (prickly pear.  A really tall one.  You've probably seen little ones as house plants)
8.  Consolea (prickly pear.)
9.  Milqueliopuntia (stubby cholla)
10.Opuntia (prickly pear)
11.Tacinga (prickly pear)
12. Tunilla (pickly pear)
13. Pterocactus (cholla-ish)
14. Maihueniopsis (prickly pear-ish)
15.Tephrocactus (cholla-ish)

Some sources also list a few others... notable Micropuntia (little chollas) but until everybody straightens themselves out, we're gonna go with what we got. 

Now, all this is complicated by the fact that prickly pears are, as a general rule, highly adaptable and highly variable.  Hence, the plant in the natural habitat, and the plant you have at home may be the same species, but look totally different,  The amount of light, water etc, will all make the plant change it's size, spines, even color.  So it's confusing enough. 

And now, we get to the plant that started all this... It started when a friend of mine bought a prickly pear on the clearance table at Wal-Mart. 

Actually, it was a score.  A really nice one gallon pot full of bright green pads, for five bucks.  I was a little jealous. 

"Where are you gonna put it?" I asked, looking around to the living room windows. 

"In the yard," he answered. 

"You mean on the patio?"

"No.  Out by the garage with that other prickly pear."

"It'll  die!  It won't survive the winter."

"Hell they grow wild in the pasture..."

"Not this kind.  Most prickly pears won't..."

Blank stare.

"It's a damn prickly pear..."

"There are like, a hundred different kinds of prickly pears... and most get killed by a hard frost..."

"Whatever..."  followed by eye-roll. 

So, you're starting to get the idea of why it's kind of important to find out what kind of prickly pear you got...
Anyway, I looked on the side of the pot, and saw the name Opuntia falcate.  I whipped out the smart phone, typed it in and... Nothing. 
So, I took a couple of small juvenile pads, and promised to get back... In case you haven't noticed, cuttings off plants I have to ID is turning into a very convenient way to increase my collection with no investment of money.  Just saying.

They're rooting now... actually, they're very well rooted now and starting to show the first signs of growing.
And here's what I found out... Yes it's a prickly pear.  Obviously.  And no, it's not an Opuntia.   It's a Consolea falcata.  Or possibly a Consolea macracantha... no way of telling till it gets a few blooms on it, which is probably a while off.  Native to the Caribbean islands, it is listed as critically endangered in Haiti, and may not be there anymore.  (there were 10 mature plants on a beach in Haiti before the 2008 hurricane, which may or may not have wiped them out.  So, if anybody is going to Haiti, you're probably going to hit a beach at some point, so it might as well be this beach, so look around, see if there's any cactus and let us know.) 
It seems to produce rather smaller 'juvenile' pads, and look pretty cute, before it puts up longer, round straight growth which grows pads on the end.  The juvenile pads then, over a period of time, waste away.  All of this is pretty far off, but I am sure that it won't survive a winter here, which was really the point, and I won the bet, (FREE PIZZA, WOOOO HOOOO) and got a new plant in the process so I'm doing good...  
Since it's native to Haiti, I'm going to assume that, even though it grows in sandy soil near the beach, it still needs a bit more water than our native prickly pears, and I'll water it whenever it gets dry. 
Next, and totally unrelated, I was over at Julies blog, A Succulent Life, where she was thrilled to find a grasshopper.  While I certainly can't imagine being happy about that, I did promise to take pictures of one of the more handsome species that frequent the yard here if I got a chance.  Well, when I went out to take a pic of the little prickly pear here, lo and behold, look who was sitting on my Rhipsalis cuttings.  Got a pic before I made him leave... Enjoy Julie...
Update... this grasshopper has been ID'd as Schistocerca obscura, commonly known as the Obscure Bird Grasshopper.  I don't know why its called obscure, but there we are...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

blogger public service announcement...

hey folks... I'm sure some of you know about this already... but if you go to your stats page and see multiple views from places with weird names... like  'vampirestat,' 'adsensewatchdog' 'zombiestat' 'uglystat' etc... there's too many to actually list here, and there's new ones everyday.  Don't click on the links. 

At best, you'll be directed to a page of ads.  At worst, you'll be infected with malware or a rather nasty virus. 

The new blog, Little Goth Bob's World yesterday got 100+ views from these... in the future I shall call them BLOTIA which stands for Bloodsucking Leaches On The Internets Ass, but I fortunately already knew about them so I didn't click. 

They're called Referer Spam, and Google and/or Blogger is unable or unwilling to block them for some reason, and even if they did the name would change and they'd be back in the space of 15 minutes.  Even though it messes with your counts on the Stat Page, they are able to exclude the numbers when it comes to your AdSense page and Google ratings, so it doesn't affect that if your worried about it. 

If you really need to check or track your stats, there are a few widgets out there to do it.  They have no problem blocking these sites... hmmmm.  

Now, while I kinda understand what they are... here's a link that explains it a lot better than I can...

Spam Spoiler, a blogger on BlogSpot who knows his stuff.

The basic advice is this.  Don't click on them.  Ther're not actually reading your page, they're not actually going to your blog, they're not actually sending anyone to your blog.  As to the stats... it's an annoyance, but it's not harming you, and since it doesn't touch your adsense or google ratings, it's not costing you anything.  (which is probably why google isn't pursuing it) and unless you click the link, it doesn't really have anyway to get you. 

It's annoying, because I like to see if anyone is viewing my posts.  These numbers are confusing and they generally make the stat page totally useless. 

As a general rule... don't click on any of the links on the stat page.  If you really want to get on my blog, or anyone elses, do it from your link list, your followers list, or favorites list. 

announcement over.

Cactus cutting

 And here's the cutting of the Bad Hair Day cactus. (Epiphyllum phyllanthis v. guatamalense f. monstrose) Actually, I was given two cuttings, which were really huge for cuttings and I've turned into four.  I've placed them in their re-cycled pot, with rooting hormone, which probably isn't absolutely necessary, but I have it here and it may help the process along a little quicker, so why not? 
I've watered it well, and now I'll be placing it in it's humidity chamber (which is a fancy name for a zip-lock bag that I bought at the everything for a dollar store.)
A few additional notes on this plant... the leaves (stems actually) are distinctly stiff and leathery, much more so than any other epiphyllum I've ever dealt with.  Probably part of it's monstrose heritage.  I'm sure it's going to root fairly well, as it seems inclined to put out aerial roots, which can very easily turn into real roots, so I'm not foreseeing any real difficulty. 
I also can't find any evidence that this species has been used for hybridization purposes.  (If anybody out there knows of it, please let me know, I'd love to hear about it.) Which I kind of get but kind of don't.  Epiphyllum species (generally called Orchid Cactus because of their showy blooms and orchid-ish culture) are probably some of the most hybridized cactus out there.  I kind of get it, since this species doesn't have a particularly showy flower.  Many 'monstrose' varieties of cactus, no matter what genus, have flowers that are stunted, deformed or plain flat-out non existent.  The non-monstrose variety of this species has a nice respectable 3 to 4 inch wide white, nocturnal flower, borne on a flower tube that can be about 8 inches long , but this monstrose variety bears a 1 inch flower on a tube about 3 or 4 inches long, that may or may not ever fully open.  Since Epi hybridization has always focused on blooms, I can understand why it's never been utilized for hybridization. 
This species, and the rik rak cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger, yesterdays post) are the only plants in the genus that are really valued for their foliage.  The other species in the genus are, like orchids, grown for blooms.  Epi's aren't unattractive plants, actually they'd probably be considered a little more attractive than most orchids, some of which can be considered downright ignorable when they're not blooming, but it's the big showy blossoms that are valued. 
Still, since you're going to be looking at the leaves for the vast majority of the time, shouldn't there be some consideration for the attractiveness of the things? 
It also occurs to me that some of you may be getting a little tired of seeing that bright yellow work table as a base for my plants.  Well... that table seems to be where everything gets done.  Sorry. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rik Rak cactus

 I have decided to do plant profiles.  I like them.  I like reading other peoples plant profiles.  I also like having info readily available, and I like doing the research, although I don't like having to re-do the research when I forget something and don't have it saved anywhere.  Besides, it seems to come naturally to me, because I grew up with my mother... She liked plants, but she thought that plant tags were ugly and ruined the looks of the plant, so she would throw them away.  Then there was always some confusion a few months later about what the poor plant was... so at a young age, I learned to write stuff down in a little notebook. 
     However, as I got older, I've developed a total inability to keep track of notebooks, random pieces of paper, etc.  A PC or smart phone however, seems a bit harder to misplace.  Usually.  Yesterdays post on the Bad Hair Day cactus was the beginning of this I suppose. 
     Basically, I'm  writing these to keep as a reference for myself, but I do hope that you, Dear Reader, might find something useful in here too. 
     All that said... todays plant is (drum roll please...) Rik Rak Cactus.  Some of my research also says it's called Moon cactus or Queen of the Night.  I've heard a couple of dozen plants go by those names... but not this one.  Oh well... the actually botanical latin name is Epiphyllum anguliger.  They are native to the rain forests of Mexico, and are epiphytes.  Epiphytes are the princesses of the plant world... growing in an elevated status in the trees, never deigning to touch the ground like those (sniff sniff) COMMON plants.   
Despite this princess attitude... the Rik Rak is a dead common houseplant, and not particularly demanding.  Like most, if not all, of the Epiphyllums, they are adapted to living in the nooks and crannies of trees in the rain forest.  These nooks collects dead leaves, moss, bird droppings and such, giving seeds or broken leaves something to root in.  While this growing medium can be very rich, there usually isn't much of it, so the plants depend on the daily rain and extremely high humidity to provide moisture.  As the plant grows, it continues to gather debris in its roots.  
I acquired this specimen last June at Lowe's hardware store, on the clearance table for $4.50, and it has about doubled in size since then... or it would have if I'd stop taking cuttings off it... more about that later.
A close examination of the plant,  which I like to call 'forensic gardening,' exposes the plant for what it is.  Not so much a single plant as a collection of about 20 cuttings.  
Now, there's a definite reason for this. 
In a nutshell, to turn a single cutting into a plant that's big enough for the nursery to sell would take a year or more.  That's a huge investment of time and resources, space, fertilizers, care, wages, electricity for artificial lights and heating... etc, etc, etc.  This would make the plants expensive to produce, and expensive to sell.  By putting several cuttings in a container, when each cutting produces 2 to 3 new leaves, the pot is full and fluffy, and you can sell it within 1 to 3 months(depending on the species and type of plant)  It's much more cost effective. 
The problem for the home gardener is this... sure it's a great looking pot now, but each and everyone of those cuttings has the potential to become a full grown plant that's about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  And it's not going to do that while crammed in there with its 20 cousins, there's just not enough room, nutrition or, well, anything...
Fortunately, while these are quick growing for a cactus, they're not that quick growing.  Sometime next spring I'll split this into separate pots.  Either four hanging pots or small individual 4 inch pots which I'll sell at the flea. 
Until then... the care of this plant is pretty straight forward.  It has to have bright light.  By that I mean extremely bright shade to more light that you'd think it could handle.  One of the reasons that the plant adapted to the tree tops is that the floor of the rainforest doesn't get that much light, and high in the trees they're often exposed to full sun... however, I've found that hanging on the edge of the front porch suits it just fine.  It gets the slanting light in the morning and afternoon directly, while getting shade from the hot noon day sun. 
While some growers try to duplicate their native conditions with quick draining soils, and put them in greenhouses with 80% humidity and mist them daily, most of us just don't have that option. 
Next spring, when I divide these cuttings, they will need rich well draining soil.  Here in Texas, we don't have the humidity it would like here, so I try to use soil that holds on to some more moisture for it.  A plastic hanging basket works fine.  While the plants can get big, their root systems aren't extensive.  The roots are however tough and strong, after all the plant is adapted to hanging on to a tree for dear life.  Remember when I said 'princess?'  Think 'really really determined princess.'
In the past, I've found that a rich potting soil like Miracle Grow or Scotts puts out, mixed with common wood chip mulch will drain quick enough but still retain enough moisture to make the plant happy.  Some growers recommend and orchid mix, which is too expensive for my taste... but if you're willing, go for it.  If you want to make your own... compost, peat moss and un dyed wood chips in equal amounts sounds about right.  You can add perlite or vermiculite if you wish, but the wood chips loosen it up enough to allow drainage.
Generally any good plant food works.  I suppose, if I was going for absolute show stopping plants I would invest in orchid fertilizers to go with the orchid mix, but there are too many perfectly acceptable and affordable fertilizers out there.  Since I'm in Texas where in the heat of summer it reaches 100+ degrees here, and doesn't rain for a month at a time, I have to water once a day minimum, sometimes every morning and every evening, (hence that up there about soil that retains some water) fertilizer residues don't build up in the soil, and I feed these and the other jungle cacti every Saturday.  About half recommended strength on the label.  They do just fine.
It's almost impossible to over-water these cactus.  As long as the potting mix drains well, they can take about all the water you can give them... just don't let them sit in water and you'll be fine.
The plants zig zag leaves (actually stems, but everyone calls them leaves) give it the common name of rik rak cactus.  The leaves do have, in the valley of the zag, some small spines.  They're not serious spines, enough to remind you that you're dealing with a cactus. 
They're not that troublesome, certainly not as annoying as the small hair like glochids you have to deal with on a prickly pear.  If they don't brush off, try pressing a piece of duct tape on the skin and pulling it off. 
The stems are handsome enough without flowers, and since this pot is a collection of cuttings less than a year old, expecting blooms would be a bit much, although this is about the time of year you would expect it to start setting buds, when the summer heat has started to give way to the autumn rains.  The blooms are white, with the outer petals or sepals a red or pink.  The blooms are nocturnal, opening well after sunset, so you may have to stay up late to see them.
The plant is easy to propagate.  Take a stem section and put it in a pot of soil.  You can use rooting hormone if you want, but it usually isn't necessary.  The plant will be rooted and putting out new stems in about a month, much like the cuttings in the pic below.  If the stem is a large one, cut it into sections that are 3 to 6 inches long, and it becomes several cuttings, like the cuttings that were filling my pot above, and the cuttings in the little coffee cups below.
The plants are so easy from cuttings that they're usually not grown from seed, but if your plant produces flowers and fruit, it's not that difficult and you may want to try.  Let the fruit get extremely ripe on the plant.  Split the fruit open, spread the seeds over the top of a pot filled with damp, sanitized peat moss and cover with plastic wrap.  Or put the pot in a big ziplock bag.  You should have seedlings within 2 weeks if not sooner.  You can dry seeds to save for later if you wish.  These plants are rain forest dwellers... so while some seeds like or require a drying out period to do well, drying out isn't really part of their life cycle.   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bad Hair Day Cactus

 Or to be more specific... Epiphyllum phyllanthus v. guatamalense f. monstose.  Yeah... now try to imagine someone with a very thick southern accent trying to say that.  And, since I couldn't find a common name for it... I have dubbed it the Bad Hair Day cactus, because it was either that or Stripper Hair cactus, and Bad Hair Day cactus just sounded better.  And to make it even more interesting... there's evidently some confusion about Epiphyllum phyllanthus v. guatamalense f. monstose.
You see, evidently there's an Epiphyllum guatamalense already.  That may or may not have anything to do with this plant.  There's also an Epiphyllum phyllanthis v. guatamalense that has straight non-monstrose leaves.  Now the whole purpose of latin botanical names is to avoid confusion.  But there's something about a taxonomist that evidently doesn't want anybody to actually know the name of anything.  Maybe it's because everything has pretty much been named already, so they have to justify their existence by renaming things.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened to Aloe vera.  The entire planet knew Aloe vera.  Worldwide... then TAH DAH... it's suddenly Aloe barbarensis.  I know... there's been entire papers written to justify the change, and the reasons are valid enough.  I'm not saying that the change isn't valid, just that it's annoying, and I'm willing to bet that a large part of it was some botany geek sitting around with a bug up his nose and suddenly deciding to make trouble.  Or that's my opinion.  Not that anybody gives a dang about my opinion. 
And now that I got THAT off my chest, about this plant.  If you read yesterdays post, you know that there's a dealer named Barbara who makes mummified bugs into small sculptures.  That are way cool.  She also brought some plants in to sell.  This was one of them.  She showed it to me, and she had me stumped.  I had never seen that plant before in my life... I knew it was a jungle cacti, but that was it.  She didn't know what it was either.  She'd gotten a 'start' from someone who didn't know what it was, and for all I know that person had gotten a 'start' from someone who didn't know what it was.  Hell, it's distinctly possible that 'starts' from this plant had been handed down for the last century by people who had no idea what they were growing.  Which would really annoy the aforementioned taxonomist.  Well they can just put that in their pipe and smoke it. 
She snipped off 2 cuttings for me, and sent me on my way, with a promise that I would find out what it was.  I knew it was a jungle cactus.  I knew she told me that it bloomed... and this plant had buds...

And I knew that it also produced little pink fruits that were decorative in their own way. 
And that's all I knew.  I went to Cacti Guide (that's a link, or it's on the bottom right of your browser) and didn't have any luck.  At a loss, I sent some pics to the wonderful guys at the Cactus Jungle blog.  I haven't heard back from them... but hopefully when I do, it'll confirm the ID I finally came up with. 
Or not.  I might just give up and start slapping random strangers on the street. 
Finally, I went back to the Cacti Guide and clicked on individual plants... went through all the rhipsallis, which I didn't really expect to find it there, the fruit was wrong, but I was more or less hypnotized by the process by then, before I finally went to Epiphyllums, and after clicking on the phyllanthis there were three pics, and one of them looked like the plant in question.  The other two, however, had long flat leaves.  It did not however mention the v. guatamalense f. monstrose part of the name, so that started another hour of Google searches... and that's how I finally came up with it. I also ended up with a slight headache. 
I also found out that this plant is considered 'fairly rare' although there's some mention of people picking up pots of it at Home Depot, usually with an Exotic Angel tag that reads 'Rhipsallis species' and that there are some vendors out there who sell unrooted cuttings of this plant in the price range of $7 to $9. 
After all of that, I finally determined that the cuttings should be placed well draining moist soil and they would root readily.  Which, lets face it, was what I was gonna do anyway, so it all left me kind of wondering why I had just wasted 2+ hours of my life. 
Oh well. 
Nice to get back to plant posts...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

BUGS. way cool BUGS

One of the other dealers at the market makes these... they're real bugs, mounted in realistic settings.  After the LG Bob site is going good... this week I promise... I'm looking at finding other things to list.  Seriously considering these... they're really fascinating

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Work Work Work...

Just moving and moving all that stuff to the new booth.  Finally got it there, and began the slow process of arranging it.  Which takes longer than moving it, especially since there's customers trying to shop at the same time. 

Did sell a couple of Bob's today, despite everything being an unholy mess... or maybe because of it,  and got a bit of the Halloween decor up...
Altogether a pretty productive day...

Friday, September 20, 2013

not a good day...

So, I knew it was antique alley weekend.  I wasn't expecting a huge crowd at the flea, so I decided that it would be a fine day to take in all the collected bits and pieces that I was going to use to decorate for Halloween.  And last night it rained.  Which i should have expected, after all, they throw antique alley in the 2nd half of September because that's when the summer heat breaks.  That's also when the autumn rain starts, and it's 100%guaranteed to rain on antique alley, at least on one of the 4 days.

So, it had rained overnight.  I wasn't however expecting 5 inches of water in my booth.

It's not disastrous as it sounds.  I've worked enough outside venues to know that you raise everything off the ground.  I had some warehouse skids under my shelves, and I've got cinder blocks under other stuff, and 2 x 4's under others, and everything was pretty much safe,  but it was an unholy mess.

There was one booth, towards the front, middle aisle, much better location, and out was empty and not flooded.  I laid claim and defied anyone to argue with me, and began moving stuff.

About one o'clock, I was pretty much moved, not quite totally, but it started raining again, I was converted in mud up to my knees, my shoes were soaked through, and I finally gave in too the misery and got home.

Now, add to the flooding problem.  The county had been alerted to this, and swears they're gonna fix the drainage issue, does drain, just S L O W.  They're gonna dig the new ditches,  etc, etc, yada yada... but, it's government so it will happen when it happens.

They say no rain tomorrow.  We'll see.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The LG Bob blog is up.  One entire post.  Here's the link

Please click on it.  Repeatedly.   It will help it start showing up in search engines.

Right now, if I type in the phrase Little Goth Bob, the engines take it to one of my posts... so that's going be a link too.   Got some editing to do...

New phone.

Wheeee haw!  Finally got the phone.  They were a tad more polite today.  I wonder if someone forwarded yesterday post to them.  Of course, now I have to get my aps right.  Ugh.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the cell phone saga continues.

Day 2 without a phone.  I'm not happy. 

So yesterday, I went to the store where I bought the phone.  They took the battery out and put it back in.  Which I had already done three times, but they gotta do what they gotta do.  They then looked all over the phone to make sure that I hadn't been throwing it at people, letting the dog chew on it, using it to hammer nails, etc... nope.  passed inspection.  They confirmed, that yes indeed, there was something defective with the phone itself.  Which is what I told them, but yeah... I understand they had to do their inspection thing... I'm not unreasonable after all.  Well, I'm a little unreasonable, but I was feeling generous. 

They clicked on the computer, and confirmed that I had bought the phone, there, on August 3.  Which is less than 2 months ago.  They also confirmed that I had bought their insurance, and paid for it, just in case of this sort of thing.  But, they informed me, that it was still under the manufacturers warrantee.  That's fine with me. 

They can, of course, replace it.  For a fee of $16.73 shipping and handling. 

OK.  So, you sold me a piece of ****, and you're gonna charge me more to make it right?  Now, this is where I start feeling 'unreasonable' welling up.   

First, you sold me a piece of  ****.  Any legitimate business has a return or exchange policy.  Unless, of course, you're talking consumer electronics. 

Second, you have at least 50 of those phones sitting right there.  Why does anything have to be shipped anywhere?

Third, Even if it does have to be shipped somewhere,  I used to sell on ebay, and I've shipped sets of china through the mail for less than $16.00.

Well, since it's the manufacturers problem, they have to replace it... however, if I want I can drive 20 miles to the 'corporate' store and get a replacement phone immediately.  For $37.00. 

Fine.  What the **** ever.  Just ship it to me.  Do you need my mailing address?

Oh no... they ship it to the store.  I will still have to come in on Thursday, some time after noon, to pick it up. 

So, I'm paying for shipping, and you're not actually shipping anything?  Because, while I can't prove it, I've worked in enough warehouses and such that I'm pretty sure what happens is that they send an e-mail/fax to the company, and they get a store credit to release one of the phones they already have on hand.  Which should take about 15 minutes, not two days. So I strongly suspect that I'm paying shipping, on something that isn't being shipped. Well, unless you consider the schmuck at the counter in front of me walking to the back room, picking up a box and walking back "shipping."

Personally, I considerer me making two back and forth trips to the store to be more in the lines of shipping.  I should be paid the $16.73.

And then, he tells me to make sure that I don't get the phone damaged or wet in those two days, because they won't honor the warrantee if I do.  Even though, he's just examined it, and confirmed that it wasn't working 15 minutes ago. 

At this point I, rather heroically if I say so myself, fought back the urge to pinch his head till it popped like a giant zit, splattering brains all over the store into a literal zombie buffet. 

So that's where we stand now.  I'm not happy. 

I do, however have an old phone with a cracked screen here.  While I can't send texts or make phone calls with it, I can check e-mail, read my blog, and do some things on the web, provided I'm near a WiFi antennae, so it's not like I've reverted to the third world or anything.  And, of course, I have this borrowed laptop.

I also can't get that cracked phone to allow me to actually post on the blog, so Little Goths Bob world has been delayed.  True, I could get some text on there with this laptop, but Bob's such a visual guy, it really needs pics. 

Therefore, day 2 of annoyance.  I think I'll walk up to the convenience store and buy a lotto ticket because powerball is up to about 400 million right now. 

And now I really have to run, because I think I hear the cat making vomiting noises. 

What a glamorous life I lead, 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

well *&%^#%#@

You know... I try not to cuss.  But sometimes... it's just gonna happen... The new phone, which I've had for less than three months, quit.  Just quit.  It wasn't dropped, it was fully charged, it was working just fine... then it wasn't.  It's a major bloody inconvenience.

I have job applications out with that phone number.

I have all my numbers and pictures in that phone. 

I use that phone to post on Facebook.

I use that phone to surf the web. 

I use that phone to take credit cards at the flea. 

I use that phone to post my endlessly fascinating blog posts.  Well, usually, right now I'm using a borrowed laptop, but what if I'm out in the middle of a field and I see an extremely rare and unusually slimy, grotesque slug, and I want to tell all of you about it, because I know you're all fascinated with such things, and I won't have my phone to take an excruciatingly disgusting pic, or write a post, and there will probably not be a handy laptop for me to borrow.

As is I was planning on taking some pics and starting the Little Goth Bob Blog.  That's not gonna happen now...

The real point is that EVERYTHING is in that tiny little plastic piece of crap.

And I was wanting to take pics of a plant project. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Black crepe myrtles

A  few months ago, i took a a small cutting from a friends 'black diamond' crepe myrtle.  They're fairly new hybrids, and very pricey at the moment.  
It's rooted good, and I'm thinking about finding it a home, but when i was checking it today, I found three tiny little flower buds.   Can't see them too well in the pic, but they're there.


Well, the flea market is being demanding, but in a good way... business is down a little, primarily due to the heat.  And next week is ANTIQUE ALLEY.  That's the link to their web site, for those of you who don't really know what that is... basically, the highway between Cleburne and Grandbury becomes a giant flea market.  I've worked it a few times, but it can be expensive, booth space anywhere from $35 to $100, and a whole lot of trouble.  You usually turn a profit, but you come out of it truly beat down.

Anyway, I'm told that last year, we at Renfro Trade Days actually got some of the overflow from it... people who were on their way to or from Antique Alley stopped.  (we're fairly close to Cleburne, one of the starting or end points of the event.)  But a lot of our dealers are going to be working the Alley, so I don't know how busy we'll be... if people drive by and don't see any activity from the road, or see a bunch of booths that are covered with tarps and closed up, they may not stop.

I mentioned before, there is a haunted house in our parking lot over Halloween.  This will be opening up on Sept. 27, and it evidently brings business in.  The Haunted House people found out that I used to read Tarot cards for private parties and such back in my far more glamorous gothic days and they've talked me into putting a table in my booth to do readings.  Well, it's extra cash, so why not. 

They've also announced that they will be having a competition for the best decorated Halloween booth, the prize being free booth rental for the month.  Now, back in my Tarot days, I was actually a general party worker.  I free lanced with florists and party planners.  I can do some amazing things with a ball of yarn, some plastic mylar and a glue gun... I can do some of it practically in my sleep.  So while some of the dealers began pulling out plastic pumpkins and talking about stuffing a scarecrow... I'm thinking... I can do this.  BWAH HA HA HA HA. 

Face it folks... I've got a tarot table and small obnoxiously cute voodoo dolls... I'm starting with an advantage.  And then, I find out that the theme for the haunted house this year is zombie apocalypse, Little Goth Bob was just thrilled to his little wood and wire bones.

But... I'm thinking something else for my booth theme.  (You have to have a theme when you do these things.  It helps you focus and keeps everything from looking muddy)

Pics will of course be forthcoming.  I may even show you how to make a few things...  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ok folks... there's a new blog in the works.   Little Goth Bob's world will be focusing on Bob and his nephews, nieces, cousins etc.

Tyne purpose of this is to free up this blog for my rants and plants.  LG Bob fans can follow him there, while those of you who don't particularly wish to be subjected too his cadaverous presence will no doubt feel relieved.

Also, as I begin to market  the mini Bob's, everyone who is purchasing or considering them can be directed too that blog for questions, pricing and such.   (Just for the record, Scary Carrie, the blushing bride, may have her man... wish her well...)

The other blog isn't open yet, but I'll make sure everyone knows when it is.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

And introducing...

Little Scary Carrie, all dressed up to make some little Bob a very lucky guy

Friday, September 13, 2013

The plant that came straight from Hell

Whenever nervous gardeners start quaking in fear on the subject of poisonous plants anywhere near their darling children, I usually give a stock answer... " There are very few plants lurking outside of your door plotting attacks on unwary suburbanites." 
You notice I said very few.  This is one of the very few. 
Allow me to introduce the current bane of my existence.

This is burr grass.
Cenchrus incertus
Aka sticker weed and also known as 'that (insert 1 to 5 of your favorite cursewords here) weed'

Its vile.  It  has no practical use or purpose for existence.  Satan made them.  I'm serious.

Anyone who walks outside, especially from midsummer on, comes in covered with them from the knees down.  Every time a dog has to use the yard, he will return limping with burrs between his toes. Which makes it very difficult  to convince the dogs go outside.

Burrs get everywhere.  

If you don't thoroughly clean them of your socks, they'll get in you laundry And knit themselves into the towels, t shirts and, the absolute worst, your underwear.    Not only are you unable to walk outside barefoot, but the carpet in your house can become an experience similar to walking on pins and needles.

Control of them Is difficult.

Hand weeding works, provided your lawn isn't an acre, like this one is.

Regular watering of the lawn promotes the growth of the grass, and that will crowd out the burrs.  But between the current drought and the accompanying water restrictions, and again, an acre of land... not really practical.

I see on the web that periodically burning the lawn,
about every 7 years, keeps it under control.  Drought, burn bans, water restrictions.  Not gonna happen.

Spray the individual weeds with either roundup or vinegar, preferably before they produce burrs.  The problem is that before they produce burrs, they look just like the rest of the grass.

It's all very annoying.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Normal September Rant...

It's that time of year again.  Time to remember September 11. 

My facebook page is being inundated with patriotic posts, expressed in the usual Facebook manner.

This is achieved in the following way... first you wait until somebody sends you a post that includes a picture.  The ultimate 9/11 picture is of the twin towers billowing smoke that is backlit with glorious rays of sunshine flowing through.  If the smoke has been sculpted via photoshop to show the head of an eagle, or, even better, the face of Jesus, that's a definite plus.  If there should be an American flag involved so much the better.  If it has the phrase, "WE WILL NEVER FORGET" emblazoned in bold red letters you've really scored, because now you can click the 'like' button and the 'share' button without even having to type that phrase or any text at all.

Now that you have expressed your patriotism, outrage, grief, etc. you can, with a huge amount of effort, (three whole mouse clicks) you can even find a YouTube photo montage that will show dramatic pictures of ash-covered traumatized civilians slowly fading into each other while listening to an audio track recorded by a gravel voiced country western singer.

Having expressed your patriotism/moral indignation/heartbreak/etc, without going to the trouble of actually saying, doing or even feeling much of anything, you can now congratulate yourself and move on to the normal Facebook activities. 

Such as liking and sharing smart-ass phrases you've never actually said, adorable photos of kittens you don't actually own, militant vegetarian animal rights rants you didn't write, and my personal favorite- sharing recipes that you've never actually prepared but you intend to try someday because it looks really scrumptious.  (You will notice I did not include the playlists from DJ wannabes.  That's because I unfriended them all years ago in one fell swoop when one of them posted a video by an underground all-girl band calling themselves the Vagina Bandits.  Enough was enough.)

I did not know anyone in the twin towers.  I did not even know anyone who was a friend of a friend of anyone in the twin towers.  I fully acknowledge the pain and the suffering of those who lost someone on that day.  But I did not feel that pain personally, and I cannot mourn for people I did not know.  I can try to empathize.  I can certainly acknowledge that it's a great tragedy and loss... but I don't think clicking a button on the computer screen does that .

Way I can do is wait for the day to devolve as it inevitably will.  There's a very good chance that in my lifetime, we will eventually remember this day in the same manner we remember other national milestones and religious holidays.  With Bar-B-Que and football.  It already shows signs of becoming a bit of a party game, "where were you when the towers fell?" Is a younger generations version of "where were you when Kennedy was shot?"

if I'm being totally honest... I just use the day as another reason to hate September. 

My parents both died in September.  Someone I was dating died in September.  Lots of really hideous vile things have happened to me in September.  As far as I'm concerned, the entire month can be ripped out of the Time-Space continuum, and it wouldn't upset me one little bit.

Therefore, this entire post is really just an extension of my normal September Angst.

Thanks for listening.

I'm gonna take a nap.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Adventures in gardening...

Well I've had an interesting morning.  I've done a few posts about Argiope aurantia, the common black and yellow garden spider, or zipper spider.  There are two in the yard this year.  One of my ladies, the one I've photographed for the blog is under the crepe myrtles bush.   The other lady is in the Turks caps, whose thick leaves and huge size makes her much more difficult see. 

This morning though, I was bound and determined to  pay her a visit.  This is because I'd noticed that her coloration was unusual... she doesn't have the black markings across her abdomen and her long legs are a more mottled brown rather than black.  I'd never seen that before, and research hadn't yielded any info as to how variable they are, so I shot a question to (see the link on thr bottom right) and I decided that I was going to take a pic. 

Well I managed, not a great shot, but there it is...  she seemed a little smaller than normal so after pocketing the phone I poked around and found that she had recently produced an egg sac.  

Neat, huh?  

So, there I was, on my knees in 
rather scratchy leaves, beginning to carefully detangle myself without breaking plants or webs,  when the spider suddenly bolted for cover and I heard an unusual whir in my right ear.

Next i see a flash of iridescent green and I was suddenly face with a hummingbird.  I'm under the impression that it was a juvenile male, but they look so much like the females it's hard to tell.  He did a few darts around my head, I froze, and after determining I was harmless he went about his business of working the 
blooms of the turks cap for his brunch. . Twelve inches in front of my face.  

I've never observed them that close before, and I was fascinated.  I had no idea that their bodies could bend into that little z shape, or seen how tiny and perfect their little feet were.
 I slowly tried to inch my hand toward my pocket to get the phone and maybe get a pic, but the slightest move brought him back to my face, where he looked me direct in the eye and I swear he was saying "don't even think about it, bubba, .  This beak is sharp.  
I'll poke you."
So, i spent probably 2 minutes just observing the guy until he ate his fill and very skillfully avoided that spider web.

One of my highlights of my year.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Drum roll please....

Well, he hasn't got clothes yet... but you get the idea...

Little Goth Bob gets political...

Well... this all started when little Goth Bob watched some reruns of The Walking Dead that were recorded on On Demand.  Evidently, he was under the impression that it was some sort of documentary, and he was quite appalled at the sheer cruelty inflicted on zombiekind by those self righteous humans. 

He's become almost unbearable ever since.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Spider poem

Well, I threatened to post more poems from Vachael Lindsey, didn't I?

You've seen this pic a few weeks ago... but it fits...

The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly

Once I loved a spider
When I was born a fly,
A velvet-footed spider
With a gown of rainbow-dye.
She ate my wings and gloated.
She bound me with a hair.
She drove me to her parlor
Above her winding stair.
To educate young spiders
She took me all apart.
My ghost came back to haunt her.
I saw her eat my heart.

This may be Mr . Lindsey at his best.  On the surface it seems to be a rather dark children's verse.  
Which upsets some people.  For some reason, people are under the impression that childhood is a long period of butterflies and unicorns... but I've recited this to more than a few of my friends kids, and they tend to go, "ewwww" then erupt into delighted giggles.   Face it folks, children are a little bit blood thirsty.

And, by the way, my ability and willingness to recite such ditties has one beneficial side affect.  I'm rarely if ever asked to babysit.  SCORE!

But that's only on the surface.  
This poem isn't about a spider or a fly.  The spider is really a woman, and the fly is the poet.  Nothing eats your heart like a predatory lover.  Or that's my take... what's yours?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Random stuff

While it may seem that I'm risking this becoming a little goth Bob blog...  way back in November of 2009, I posted about little lounge lizard blog.  This is the post here.

Well I got this pic from his caretaker... seems he's retired from his glamorous nite club life and spends his days on a shelf watching television and monitoring the temperature  with his thermometer.

And I found these lawn gators on the net.  They're made of tires.  It seems that half the planet is on the web trying to find instructions for making them.  
These instructions don't exist.  These were made by an artist, and he ain't releasing the secret.  I'd wing it... But i can't find any pics that show the snout the tail 
So it's kinda hard to figure without a visual.

Feeling stressed?

Well, that may not be a bad thing..

This is one of the TED talks I'm addicted to these things.  Here, Kelly McDonigal, a health psychologist,  explains why stress May not be such a bad thing after all...

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Mini goth Bob's in progress

What more needs be said?

Three unconventional craft tools that I don't wanna live without...

Anyone who does crafty things knows that sometimes getting it done can be a pain...  it's always more difficult than the instructions say and what they call 3 easy steps usually turns into a dozen.
And I don't need to mention that you can go broke buying those labor saving devices.  Here's 3 that are free or dirt cheap.

First the makeup wedge.  I learned this from a lady who was hopeless with a paintbrush but could work miracles with one of these.  Probably due to familiarity with the tool.  They produce a clean edge, give a even coat of paint, and work pretty good for stenciling too... but if you're the kind of person who uses them on a regular day to day basis, you're probably the kind of person who has a valuable manicure, so you'll probably need gloves.  price - you can usually find a pack of these for a dollar at bargain stores.
Second, the standard nursery tray.  Lifts flat boards up enough to allow you to paint edges without sticking the board to the surface.  And you can stand things like wooden dowells up in it to paint and dry.  price - free if you bought plants this spring, or a nursery will usually be willing to give you one.

And this is the wire spool that barbed wire comes on.  It also lifts objects up to make things easier to paint. And you can hang ornaments and such from the points to spray paint all sides at once.  Added bonus, When not being used for crafts, it makes a funky plant stand.  price - I found this for free by the side of a country road, but lots of different kinds of wire come on these, check around warehouses.  You might get them at junk markets or flea markets for under five bucks.