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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Last October I finally stopped and took several photos of things growing on the branches of some of the trees in our yard.

aerial with lichen

Tillandsia recurvata (small ball moss) and lichen

Lichen? Fungi? No idea, I only got as far as the taking the photos.

Actually, I know a bit about some of it, just not all of is. The photo above is Tillandsia recurvata (or small ball moss). It is found a lot in the trees in our area.  The other “thing” growing with it is Crustose lichens. These are super thin symbiont, each a collaborative effort before a photosynthetic alge and a fungus. Cool huh!? (I didn’t know all that part, I had to look it up! The most I know was that it was a lichen!)

more lichen and possibly usnea

lichen, lichen and lichen?

The photo above has more crustose lichen and the more spiky one might be Pseudevernia furfuracea (lichen) or maybe a Evernia prunastri. I have no idea what the lacy orange-ish one is. Could be in the usnea group, just not sure. Just plain beautiful.

The colors are amazing. Nature is amazing.

Do you ever stop and take time to look at your trees? I mean really LOOK and see what is growing there?

Sincerely, Emily

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I have been storing my organic ground pepper in a jar and for some reason haven’t gotten around to refilling the shakers.

Now I wish I had!opps!Opps! That’s a little too much pepper with my morning eggs. I made the mistake of shaking it from the open jar instead of just taking a pinch or two.

Clean-up when fairly well. The egg was edible, a bit peppery, but edible. I sneezed quite a bit too.

What type of mishaps have you had lately?

Sincerely, Emily

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Since Christmas day, our house has been a mini-infirmity. All sick and not much fun to speak of. We did get one good laugh out of it. I took care of my husband with the flu for about five days before it got to me. At that point I couldn’t help him at all and he could barely help me. Yes, I found that funny and got a good laugh out of it (after I was in bed for 5 straight days!)

As we emerged from the haze, I was able to start to open up the house to air out the germy-germs and let the cedar (actually juniper) pollen in I am starting to see things a bit more clearly now.

We have wonderful neighbors that would call and get the grocery list and drop supplies off on the front porch. I do have a memory of that, but I have more evidence piled on the counter of fast mindless meals (plain pasta, rice) and piles of dishes that needed to be addressed. Also piles of laundry.

I went outside to hang out the blankets and quilts. As I was hanging them out I looked across the field and it looked foggy. It couldn’t be fog, the sun was shining and it was noon. It was a haze of pollen that made me stop in my tracks and wonder if I should even be hanging out the blankets at all. I decided it was better to exchange the flu-infested germs for pollen.

When I made up the bed later that evening I noticed something on the blanket. As I took a closer look this is what I found…044Something was busy out there that day… busy laying eggs. I went to get a rag to wipe the eggs off, wondering what type of eggs they were, and should I spend some time trying to figure out if they were from a “good” bug or a “bad” bug. I decided I was too exhausted and ready for bed that I just wiped them away. They were more resilient than I thought they would be. They had a hard shell and took a bit of effort to un-stick them from the fibers of the blanket. Amazing!

Nature is amazing.

I have no idea how I even noticed these eggs, they were so small. I still wonder what they were from. All the others were draped open over two lines. This was the only blanket that was hung on one line, which gave a nice dark, private spot for this critter.

Sincerely, Emily

 

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I am not sure what I was thinking. It is freezing up here in North part of the US! I arrived to rain, that turned to freezing rain, that turned to ice covered roads, that turned to snow! their first big storm of the season.

Rain turning to freezing rain

Rain turning to freezing rain

I don’t seem to mind all that, but the temperature really dropped and it hasn’t been above 10F in 2 days.

The rain turned to snow throughout the night.

The rain turned to snow throughout the night.

So, F is for Freezing and Frigid temps. It is also for Family (I am visiting family right now)

How is the weather where you are right now?

Sincerely, Emily

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C is for…

centurea macrocephalia

centurea macrocephalia

and

Armenian Cucumber

Armenian Cucumber (it’s really in the melon family)

Sincerely, Emily

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This past Sunday we focused our Sunday Photos post on “rivers.” South Texas has been getting some spotty showers. Don’t get me wrong, every drop helps, but I have nothing to contribute about rivers at this point. In the beginning, I had even titled this post “This has nothing to do with rivers.”

Oh, sure, I can show you what the neighborhood dry creek beds looked like on Memorial Day weekend this year. That was great! It is just frustrating to not get much rain at all. Heat, Hot, Humid. Yuck. That is summer here (for me at least) and come this time of year I am more than ready for it to me over over OVER. This is also the time of year I talk about giving up trying to start a garden in the spring. I know it will start to cool off at some point. Hopefully I will feel better when that happens and I will get excited about starting the fall garden (at my own pace!)

scented geranium ready for selling at the jubilee this weekend.

scented geranium ready to selling at the jubilee this weekend.

This week I have a lot going on. The local garden club, that I am a part of, participates in the annual jubilee in our town. We sell plants that each member donates, and I donate a lot of plants that I have nursed a long throughout the summer. This year I also have made up 2 of the planters that are for the raffle. The deer, possums, and racoons have been less than helpful over the past month and a half. I go out and find the majority of the pots nibbled down to nothing or plain old dug up. I’ll tell ya, it is hard to get a nice pot of succulents or greenery looking at its best in order to sell raffle tickets with those kinds of set-backs.

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh... that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh… that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

During all this, I took the plunge and bought a brand new laptop, complete with Windows 8. I was working my way through the Windows 8 part but the laptop started acting up. Looping on start-up, getting stuck. After days and days and hours each day talking to technical support the laptop just up and died. DIED! (this is #1 in this chain of technological events!)

You would think that would be enough. Nope. Then my cell phone died. Died! Dang it, that is #2 in this string of events.

My brother helped to calm me down and get me set up with a new phone. Oh, let’s make that a challenge too! I now am the proud new owner of an iPhone 4 (I don’t feel smart yet!) right in the middle of the week with so much going on. I am working through figuring out some stuff. Just working through why I couldn’t hear any calls on the phone or head set was downright frustrating… until I figured out I just needed to take off the plastic protect bit on the front of the phone. Oh, that is so much better. The fun part about the phone is that it has a Wisconsin area code, so I am just telling people that I moved to Wisconsin and got a new phone. Maybe I will get some peace and quiet for a while. haWhatI’d like to say it has just been one of those weeks, but in reality it has been 2+ of those weeks. To top it off, my brand new iPhone slid off the car seat and into my nice tall tumbler of water yesterday. YUP! Can you believe that? The next call was to my brother to ask if I had insurance on the phone (no, I don’t!) but it is still working. and Yes, I did put in a bag of rice.

After writing this all out I figured out a better title to this post, so I changed it. No tears have been shed, but things sure have been frustrating. I will tell you that it was nice and quiet around here for a few days without a computer or cell phone. Technology is sure nice when it works, just super frustrating when it doesn’t!

Somebody must be trying to tell me something…. I am a bit slow sometimes and I haven’t figured out what it is yet.

How has your week been turning out?

Sincerely, Emily

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I have vivid memories of the different sets of salt and pepper shakers that our family used when I was growing up. I have a few of them at our home and it is fun to use them, but there are a few that go unused because I haven’t been able to find a cork or rubber stopper the right size to fit the opening at the bottom.

The Danish salt shaker I used growing up

The Danish salt shaker I used growing up

Pepper shaker - cork won't fitA few months ago, I had another one of those “ah-ha” moments.

I went into my dresser drawer and pulled out a fresh set of expandable foam earplugs. It was the perfect solution!!!

I didn’t use the whole foam earplug. I cut it in half, lengthwise and was able to make two stoppers out of it and use half in another shaker. Use a clean ear plugWhat a deal!

One of the great things about using the expandable foam is that it will fit any size opening, unless you have an opening that is rather large.

If you head over to Sincerely, Emily you can see another cute salt and pepper shaker set that I used as a child.

Have you found a source for the plastic stoppers or perfect size cork to replace the ones that break on your salt and pepper shakers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I have invited and openly welcomed quite a few weeds into our yard over the past 5 years. A few of my friends shake their heads and can’t quite figure out why I would get so excited about weeds. You know, things like dandelions (taraxacum officinale) and lambsquarter (chenopodium album), or plantain (Plantago major) and purslane (Portulaca oleracea), and those are just a few of the edible and useable weeds I get excited about growing on purpose.

lambsquarter

lambsquarter

Then there is straggler daisy (calyptocarpus vialis). I did a post on it over on my personal blog this past week. There are a lot of mixed reviews on it in my area. Some LOVE it, others absolutely HATE it. That is one weed I wasn’t sure about when we moved here, but then again, it was spreading all through every garden and choking out other things. Once I got it out of the garden areas and started planting the herbs and natives I wanted I was much happier. It took a lot of work to get it out of the places I didn’t want it, but I do like it in my yard. It is a great ground cover.

Straggler Daisy

Straggler Daisy

One weed we struggle with is the Coastal Sandspur (Cenchrus spinifex Cav.) That is one weed I could do without completely.

Sandspur 1Some of the other “weeds” that make up our yard I have spent some time identifying… others, I have not taken the time to figure out yet.

An assortment of "weeds"

An assortment of “weeds” – lambsquarter, henbit, larkspur, thistle and poppy

It is always interesting to see what pops up each year. It is amazing how much it can vary. One year we may have a particularly pesky weed and some very pretty flowering ones and the year after there are new things out there.

Some years I have to pick my battles with things I really don’t want out there. I haven’t come up with a great way to get rid of the coastal sandspurs, other than hand digging them.

Where do you draw the line? What weeds do you embrace?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I was talking to one of my best friends a few days ago.  We were talking about tough things that have recently happen in our lives and how we are handling them. I was reflecting on how hard the hot summers are on me here, and how they wipe out a lot of my energy. As they drag on, my mood gets worse because I am unable to do a lot outside and feel like I am not accomplishing anything.Sudeley Castle- 1

We were talking about my recent health issues and how well I am handling everything. I was initially super frustrated as I started realizing how many things I could not do, but once I wrapped my brain around my condition, I realized that there was only so much I could do and just needed to slow down. I had no choice but to slow down. I told my friend that since I could mentally acknowledge my physical limitations I have had a much easier time acknowledging the pace at which things will (or will not) get done. I am at peace with that.

The temperatures here are now into the 90′s and there has been some humidity with that. I have taken a huge step backwards in my stamina and energy. I know it is the heat, but it is still frustrating.  I have also started physical therapy to help increase my lung capacity and endurance. That is helping, but there is still a long road of recovery ahead of me. If I think about the amount of work I used to do outside and where I am now, I would estimate I am possibly at 40%. It is really hard to put a number on that. When I got out of the hospital I could only walk at a snail’s pace and just walking across a room was challenge. I am able to walk a bit faster than that now (and talk at the same time), but it is still slow. I am doing some tasks in the yard, but I do get out of breathe fast and just stop and rest. I have chairs placed all over the backyard so I have a place to sit and rest when I need to.Rose scented geranium 1 - Copy

When I am feeling a little frustrated, I just take a look around the yard, or even in the house, and I realize that I have so much to be thankful for. When I am having a hard time figuring out what the heck I have accomplished today, yesterday, last week – again, I just look around and realized that I have accomplished so much. There is always more to accomplish. There is always more to do, but if I just step back and breathe, things look a little better.

Do you have to take a step back and breathe every now and then?

Sincerely, Emily

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When we moved to Texas I was thrilled because we had a big backyard and lot of space to put a garden in. Before I did anything out back I waited to see what was growing back there in the “flower” gardens. The previous owner had said, “oh the back gardens are beautiful with so many blooming things,” so I waited and watched. Hmmmm….. looked like a huge unkempt mess to me, all over the property, and after waiting and watching, that is mostly what it was – a mess. As  I slowly made my way through the mess I also started planning the vegetable garden. Lots to do.

When it came time to put tomatoes in, I got out my old tomato supports – you know, the galvanized support that is round and bigger on top, then tappers done to 3 or 4 spikes to anchor it in the ground. They had served me well in the past, but after using them here, they just weren’t big enough or heavy-duty enough to support the tomato plants.

A roll of galvanized wire

A roll of galvanized wire

My neighbor showed me the cages he made. They were made from reinforced concrete mesh. It is really rusty, but it worked. So I picked up some hog rings, borrowed my neighbors bolt cutters and a special pair of pliers (that he modified to secure the hog rings) and I was ready to make my own tomato cages.

The tools I use

The tools I use

These cages have worked great for all of my tomato plants, and I even use them for some of the pepper plants like Anaheim and bell peppers that tend to get real tall. The other peppers I plant (banana, cubanelle, jalapeno, Serrano, cayenne get bushy, but so seem to need the support of the cage so I just don’t cage them.

If you do a quick search on the internet for “tomato cage images” you will see 1000′s of examples. The cages I make and use are just one example.

Originally, I bought a roll of the concrete reinforced mesh and I still have those original cages today. A few years ago I bought a 300′ roll of galvanized wire and have been using that roll as I needed more cages and other things around the yard.

The supplies I use:

  • Sturdy wire mesh/fencing
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Hog Rings
  • Hog Ring pliers or tool
  • Gloves

I usually do this kind of stuff on my own, so to keep the unrolled section of fencing from rolling back on top of me and (biting me as it springs back,) I take two rocks (see photo above) and to anchor the ends down as I unroll the fence just enough to make one cage at a time. I count the squares off and stand on the section of fence that makes up the cage. I have found that using bolt cutters cuts the wire so easily for me. You can use a wire cutters, but since I struggle with tendon issues in my hands the last thing I want to do it aggravate that, so I use the bolt cutters – no problems. Cutting off the raw endsMake sur I am have picked them all upOnce I have cut my section of fence, I cut off the the exposed, raw ends.  You can use those ends to wrap around and secure your cages with those end, I just don’t want those rough ends – I tend to scratch myself up on them while picking tomatoes.  Before I finish my tomato cage, I pick up the raw ends I just cut off. I count them each time to make sure I didn’t miss one. The last thing I want to do is run over one of those with the lawn mower!

How I keep it togetherNow, it is time to connect the ends of the wire fencing to make the tomato cage. I use three hog rings per cage. You can use more if you want, that is up to you. I get one hog ring ready in the special pliers. My neighbor cut notches in a normal set of pliers so the hog rings wouldn’t slip out as he was using it. I think you can buy a set of pliers specifically made for this tasks, I am just using the tools that my neighbor has. I start by securing the middle section of the cage first, that way I don’t have one end of the wire gaping and flopping around ready to scratch me up. I roll the wire fencing into a tube and hold the two ends together near the center. My other hand is ready with the hog ring. Then is is just a matter of securing the two ends.

doneDone.

Your cage may be a bit out of shape. Just roll it and push down on the wire to get it formed into a nice circular tube.

These make very study tomato cages and they will last for many many years. My neighbor just started replacing a few of the cages he made using the reinforced concrete mesh that he made 15-20 years ago.

What do you use to support your tomato (or pepper plants)

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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