Sunday, August 31, 2008

nothing much doing here...

well, I was looking forward to a nice long relaxing weekend... but that didn't work out. Friday night, a friend of the family was rushed to the hospital with apendicitis. The next day, after a run to the hospital, I ran up to the flea market, and then today I had to run to Home Depot to get some cord for the weed eater so that I could mow the lawn, (really, not one of my favorite things... I'm seriously thinking of lawn substitutes here... ) and now I will be going out to see my mom who is staying out with the friend of the family and I may just stay out there all night because there will be a bar-b-que tomorrow.
Work will no doubt be relaxing compared to this weekend...
Anyway, took a few pics in the yard after mowing... bought a hummingbird feeder at Home Depot... the cheapest one, since I'm pretty sure the birds don't care what the things look like... We have hummers here all summer, not a huge amount, but the flowers in my yard mean that I see a few more of them than most yards around here... But I never put up feeders until September. That's because around mid-September the migration to their winter grounds passes through. Some people have put out feeders for so long, that they have literally hundreds visiting every year... I end up with a few flitting around.

Also took a pic of the Cereus hildmannianus buds... should be flowering within a couple of weeks.

And the Pavonia hastata are about to bloom their fool heads off, they are really loving the late summer heat. It seems the hotter it gets, the more they bloom...

and of course the ruellias are going at it too...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A wonderfully boring day...

howdy! It's been a strange day delivering. Lots to do this morning and absolutely nothing in the afternoon... litterally spent from 12.56 pm to 3:35 pm sitting in a park in Euless TX. Now, Euless is just north of Ft. Worth... actually it's part of the H.E.B area, (that means Hurst, Euless, Bedford) and the southern edge of those three towns edge on Ft.Worth. Now Euless is actually a nice little town, despite the fact that people in Ft. Worth tend to refer to it as Useless.

It was a nice little park, but after about 30 minutes or so, every park gets a little boring when you're by yourself waiting, so I remembered something that my Grandma used to say. "Everything is interesting if you look close enough." So I decided to look closer.

First I noticed the trees... Mixed varieties... some ancient gnarly old mesquite, which I really like...
There's also some very nice native scrub oak, but not terribly old, they don't have the 4 foot wide trunks and twisted branches of the real old timers, some good pecan trees... small nuts on them though so probably wild ones rather than the larger fruited orchard varieties, and a few live oaks scattered around, but these were between 25 and 50 years old, practically adolescent for a live oak.

Of course in the trees, there were more than our fair share of squirels chattering away, more that our fair share of grackles, a few cardinals and even a red capped woodpecker, who let me get fairly close until I tried to lift the camera. Guess he's had enough of the paparazzi... Under the trees, especially the pecans, there were some mushrooms, and close inspection shows that there's two different kinds here... Both Amanitas and both poisonous... the smooth one...

and the furry one (which hasn't opened all the way yet...)

So, anyway, I kept walking around and noticing things... It's really amazing what's all around you all the time, but you don't see because you just don't look. Now, the lawn of the park itself is really about one of my favorite kind of lawns around... It's part bermuda grass, mixed with St. Augustine grass, mixed with weeds. I like weeds. They're interesting. I know, it's absolutely un-American, but the sight of a dandylion in my yard doesn't give me fits. So, there I am, and there was a plastic shopping bag blowing by, so I picked it up, then I started picking up little pieces of litter, which are inevitable in about any park and which I always pick up. Grandma again I guess, but I always feel compelled to make sure that everyplace is a little bit better when I leave then when I got there. I'm not a nut about it, but if more people were like that, imagine how much better the world would be?

Anyway, it's good that I was picking up things, because I found a 4-leaf clover.

Now, I used to be an absolute demon 4-leaf clover hunter. I used to have about 30 of them pressed in the family bible... I used some of them on the matte around a pic of my niece once, and I don't know what happened to the rest, but this is the first one I've found in probably 20 years. The problem is that I'm in Texas... this really isn't clover country. There are a few native varieties, but they're clumpy, rather rank plants, white clover really requires less heat and more winter than we get here... but when I was a kid in the midwest, people used to sow white or pink clover in their yards. The clover would catch nitrogen in the air, feed it into the soil and help keep the lawns nice and green. Of course, now that everybody seems to be trying to grow a golfing green, anything not grass is forbidden, but when I was a kid clover in the lawns made a nice soft and green lawn to run barefoot through... unless the clover was blooming and you stepped on a bee.

I stepped on lots of bees growing up. I stepped on everything growing up, they had a hard time making me wear shoes, or anything much besides shorts for that matter. Mom would always cover all the cuts and scrapes with mecurichrome or iodine... so when I was a kid I looked like some National Geographic illustration of some wild brown-skinned, fuzzy headed native who for some anthropological reason painted his feet purple and red... but I digress...

Now I know that a four leaf clover is really not that remarkable. Any gardener knows that any plant may, for reasons unknown, throw up a wonky leaf. I personally have an opuntia in the yard that threw up a pad with variagated white stripes on one side of the pad. The variagation constricted the growth on that side, and contorted the pad into a strange taco shape. These little genetic glitches happen all the time, to plants, to animals and even to people... they're really not that big a deal... but regardless of the fact that I KNOW it's just a fairly common and harmless mutation, it doesn't change the fact that I found a four leaf clover and it really wasn't that bad a way to spend 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the work day...

And now, this post is entirely too long... so I guess I should let you get on with your life.

UPDATE: The smooth mushroom up there is evidently not an amanita but most likely a Chlorophyllum molybdites, a poisonous relative of the edible parasol mushroom... but I'm not completely certain.

The shaggy mushroom in the lower mushroom pic is an Amanita thiersii. Most sources say it is poisonous, or that the edibility is unknown, but under no circumstances to try it... There is one documented case of poisoning caused by it... evidently it's poison causes kidney failure. It was origionally thought to only exist as a southern mushroom, in Texas and parts of Mexico, but was recently found in Illinois and Lawrence, Kansas. Despite the fact that I found it growing near Pecan trees, it actually doesn't seem to be associated with any tree, and is usually found growing in lawns as solitary specimens or occasionally in rings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

well, I saw the link to the kalaidascope thing in Julies blog, and I had to try it... here's what happened with one of my cactus flower pics. Kinda neat, huh...

and here's the link if you want to try it...

Happenings in the yard...

Well, I have good news...

My Cereus hildmannianus, which has had a very traumatic summer, has decided to put out a couple of blooms! I had talked about this plant in some previous posts... (if you're interested, click on the label link to the right...) and I was surprised to see 2 very small buds forming this morning. But cross your fingers, this plant has been known to put up false buds. Usually, of about 10 small buds, only 7 will finish developing and bloom, some will abort. I'm told that this may be a survival technique... in the wild, the buds may be eaten by grazing animals, so if the real buds get eaten before they fully develop, these false or secondary buds will go ahead and develop... This is of course all speculation, but that's what they say...

Also in surprises, My stapeliad gigantea(?) which has also had a traumatic summer(see previous post) seems to be putting out 3 buds too... way too small for me to be sure, but it doesn't look like new stem growth, as there's plenty of that on there too. Cross your fingers! This plant is fairly new, and I haven't ever seen it bloom, so I'm looking forward to the big blooms, but I can't say that I'm going to be thrilled about something smelling like a dead animal in the yard...

And, just to have some sort of pic for everybody to look at... here's a pic of the Echeveria 'Blue Moon' blooming in the yard.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Echeveria nodulosa

Last week was very difficult, so I decided to reward myself with a new plant...

Now, he's not in great shape, but I kind of like him... The tag that came with the plant says hardy to 20 degrees... (zone 8) which means that it might be winter hardy here, but it might not... Like most echeverias, until I know of one that survived outside here, or until I can propogate it to test it, it'll have to come inside for the winter.

This plant grows a little differently from most Echeverias, growing longer trunklike stems, to about a foot tall. If I can get it in the rock garden, it will grow into a mound of these purple striped leaves....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

anybody know what this is?

Now see, I thought I knew about every wild-flower and weed that I was likely to see on the roadsides of Texas, but this is a new one.

I know, from the foilage and the seedpods, that it's probably a member of the pea family, but I honestly haven't seen this one before. It's kinda neat with it's bright yellow flowers and black centers, and it seemed to be attracting a whole lot of bumblebees. Any ideas? I know somebody out there knows all about it... and if you don't just make something up.

I found this at a work site I had to deliver to today... I had to deliver something to the work trailer. So I drove up, to where the pavement ended, and there's the work trailer... about 200 feet away, on the other side of a stretch of Texas mud (it's been raining for 2 days)

Anyway, as I was standing by the pavement, trying to scrape off the mud, I get my next call, to the 10th floor of a great big, high dollar building in downtown Dallas...

Just for the record, this was not a good day... This was a seriously nerve-wracking day. But it's over, and I've got a bottle of wine in the fridge so it's all good now.


UPDATE: This plant has been ID'd as Partridge Pea (Cassia fasciculata) by Julie. Check out here blog, Succulent Life, by clicking on the link at the right...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

around the garden...

just a few shots of some of the ruellias in the yard... these are really great plants, producing flowers by the hundreds. Sometimes called Mexican Petunias, these are native to Mexico... this is a cultivar named "Chi-Chi" which gets about 2 1/2 feet tall and has fine, thin leaves...

This is the old standard... with wider leaves, to 3+ feet tall and invasive. People sometimes plant these in alleys, as they spread quickly and thickly, can survive without watering, and grow thick enough to suffocate the weeds.

And this is my Pachypodium lameri, which I'm only posting because I'm feeling cantankerous and I want to make Julie jealous...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meandering Around

just a few pics of things that I see wandering around the DFW metroplex...

Now, if somebody had asked me what I thought about painting their house dark purply pink, I would have told them it was a really bad idea. But for some reason, it really kind of works on this old shot-gun house...

They're called shot-gun houses because you can open the front door and shoot a gun and it would go right through the house and out the back door without hitting a wall... Usually there's a sitting room in front, a smallish kitchen on one side of the middle, a bathroom on the other side of the middle and a bedroom in the back.

This is a really bad pic of a wild clematis pitcheri, called bluebill or leather flower. I had to take the pic in a hurry and couldn't get the camera to focus right... any way, I gathered some of the seeds, so I'm going to see if I can get them to grow in the yard. In Texas, these aren't rare, but they're not that common either.

and next, we have a couple of random shots of a half dead poplar tree and it's roots, there's something about gnarled up wood that I really like...

Nothing else to say today.

See you later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

West Fork Presbyterian

Well, I'm so out of things to talk about, I've resorted to taking pics of the historical landmarks that I run into while I'm driving....

But I probably would have taken a pic of this little church anyway... this is the West Fork United Presbyterian Church... this building was built about 1924, and moved to it's present location in 1955 when they expanded Hwy 360. It was origionally located next to Watson Cemetary, which you can still see if you're driving down 360.

The Watson Community, (I don't think it was ever actually incorporated as a city) suffered the fate of many small towns, swallowed by it's neighbors as they grew. Watson being swallowed by Grand Prarie. With most of these small towns, the only thing surviving of them is the cemetaries, as that's the only thing that couldn't be torn down or moved easily.

Fortunately, this pretty little church survived, although it is now surrounded by warehouses. Which seems strange to me, but I guess on Sunday, when all those businesses are closed, it would be a nice peaceful place, and those giant pecan trees do screen off any remaining bustle...

Monday, August 11, 2008


well, thought I would check in... had a semi-decent day at work. Only one order that was undeliverable, the address being all locked up and empty, so I drove off and then dispatch calls and says, "Oh, all their deliveries are supposed to be two blocks down the road..." of course, nobody told me this. There's no sign that says - all deliveries down the road. The people where I picked it up didn't know this... anyway, it didn't get two blocks down the road. It got taken back to the pick-up... if they want it delivered somewhere, it'll have to happen tomorrow.

Quite frankly, I had three other orders in the truck and do not have time to go hunting down some darned address that nobody knows. Ended up the day with a long run to Midlothian. Drizzling rain all day... not really raining, just occasionally dripping on me.

All this, and I still fealt good when I got home... go figure.

don't really have a thing to say. It's really one of those force myself to post and hope inspiration strikes things.

didn't seem to work...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

nothing much...

I honestly haven't had a darned thing to say for days.

Seriously, there are clams that have more meaningful conversations than I'm capable of right now.

But I figured I would force myself to blog anyway. I know that if I get out of the habit of posting, It'll be much harder to get back in the habit.

Of course, you're reading this, so I guess I'll have to come up with somthing for you to read...

how about another poem...


When Grandmama fell off the boat,
And couldn't swim (and wouldn't float),
Matilda just stood by and smiled.
I almost could have slapped the child.

Harry Graham

And one more, in case you didn't like that one...


"Now that poor, wayward Jane is big with child,
She has repented and is reconciled
To lead a virtuous life in thought and deed."
So spoke her aunt, and all the girls agreed.
Then one of them, an artless, large-eyed one,
Murmured, "Repentance we would never shun--
But first let's learn to do what Jane has done."

Louis Untermeyer {translation by Jean De La Fontaine}


Sunday, August 03, 2008


I was digging through an old box, trying to decide what needed to be sold at the flea market, what needed to go to goodwill and what just needed throwing out when I came upon a book I forgot I had... the Norton Book Of Light Verse...

I then forgot all about that stuff and have been sitting here reading old poems that I haven't read in years. Now light verse is that stuff that is fun and sometimes, if you think about it, has a message. It's often looked down upon, but it's usually written by very serious poets who just decided to have some fun. It's also the kind of poetry you liked when you were a kid, but then went to school and they ruined it for you. Most song lyrics would be considered light verse.

By the way, I don't think they've ever published a book called The Anthology of Ponderous Verse... although there's certainly enough of it around to cure insomnia...

here's a couple of my old faves, with a gardening theme...

An Adage

The gardener's rule applies to youth and age;
When young sow 'wild oats', but when old grow sage.
H. J. Byron

Attack Of The Squash People

And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.

They're coming, they're on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunks of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
saute with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.

Get rid of old friends: they too
have gardens and full trunks.
Look for newcomers: befriend
them in the post office, unload
on them and run. Stop tourists
in the street. Take truckloads
to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
Beg on the highway: please
take my zucchini, I have a crippled
mother at home with heartburn.

Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people's gardens,
in baby buggies at churchdoors.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.

With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask among your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstoms
bursting their bags on our heads,
as we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.
Marge Piercy

I could keep typing these things forever... but I don't want to make huge posts...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gearing up for the heatwave...

So, the summer heat is hitting hard here... tomorrow the high is supposed to be 108 in Dallas, which is a record temp, but where I live is usually about 1 to 2 degrees warmer.

Right now, I'm giving the yard a good watering, so that it can survive the heat tomorrow... Tomorrow, I'll have to go out to spot water plants that get blocked or neglected by the sprinkler... The problem is that our soil here drains and dries out very quickly, so the water retention isn't the best... I've done my best to build up the topsoil with compost over the last few years, but it's still a challenge... we even have to water our houses to keep the foundation from cracking...

So, don't be looking for huge amounts of pretty picturesover the next few weeks, everything here will be doing it's best just to survive...