Friday, February 27, 2009

Ahem. An Announcement, If You Please...

Okay, the news isn't as portentous as the title.. but...eh. You work with whats ya gots.

I've started a new blog, with my own domain name. I'm not giving this spot up, as it's my home! I don't like leaving my home.

However, the new blog is http://www.nancysgardeninhouston.com/

Comments would be appreciated.

It has been warm here in Houston for the last couple of days. Today, it's about 83 degrees F, and a bit humid. That's due to change by tonight though, with a freight train of cold air coming down upon us. Alas, it will not be bringing any rain. Dang.

Guess who had started taking down the surround/shelter around the ponds. Yep, that would be me. Oh well, the frost cloths should be enough to protect everything. Easier to water this way too.

Along with the warm temperatures, we've also been plagued by some high winds. Not high enough to be damaging in and of themselves, they are desiccating the plants and frequent watering is needed.

(Seriously people, it's like there's this huge ceiling fan over us, just blowing and blowing, and lest ye think I'm using hyperbole.... well, I am. It would have been even more outrageous, as I went looking at ceiling fans online, trying to find an image that would do justice to the claim... but I came up empty.) ( I hate coming up empty.)

Now, excuse me. I've some plants to water. A LOT of plants to water....sigh.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Planning on Our Trips

Since both 'Pup and I are both going to Spring Fling, we are probably going to want to blog it as it happens. Plus, 'Pup has discovered the wonderfulness of not being tethered to a desk while being on the web. He's at a desk all day. He'd rather be almost anywhere else but a desk after work.

So, I've been on the lookout for good items on sale. We've already got some extra data storage devices ('Pup is addicted to collecting them!), and we'll both have cameras, and so... we'll be on our way to documenting a trip as we've never documented it before.

What we don't want to do is fight over the laptop. Really, we don't.

So, looking around, I found THIS. It's cheap (under $300), and small, and looks to be, well, not the fasted computer in the world, but more than we need for blogging, pictures and email. I like getting a good price on something. I'm cheap. Not easy.. but cheap.

Okay, maybe not "not easy", and maybe not "cheap". A girl has to be a LITTLE high maintenance, if only for herself. I spent most of my life being the one who put off things in order that others could go first, or have something I wanted, but they wanted too. Classic oldest child syndrome, we take care of everyone but ourselves. 'Pup has taught me that I'm worth taking care of too.

And that, dear friends, is the sign of a good relationship. Both members in the partnership want to take care of each other, and to make them feel that being taken care of isn't self indulgent, but something you are worthy of...any thing else in a relationship and things get out of balance.

Vacation

Now that 'Pup is more mobile, and is being more willing to go to new places and meet new people and do new things, maybe someday we can recreate our trip to Washington DC. Only this time? 'Pup actually has to get out of the hotel room more often, and maybe we could check out Outer Banks rentals For some reason, I've always wanted to go there...I have some ancestors who probably came into one of the Carolina's as...errr...well...involutary immigrants.

I'd like to drive to Florida too. Mostly, because I've never been there and I'd like to meet a few of the bloggers I know who live there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Late February, Red, White and Blue


Red...a tomato waits under cover for a warmer day,

White jasmine flowers tinged with pink, perfume the air,

And a brilliant blue sky above them all.

Too Young, Too Soon

On Jan 13, I asked that you keep a young man, Brandon, in your prayers as he fought for his life against osteosarcoma.

Today, the fight is over. Please go, and leave some kind words for his parents. They've lost a son who wanted to live long enough to get his driver's licence.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unexpected Visitors

While I was talking to my friend Val online, she was feeding her daughter some soup. Said daughter had put in the bay leaves in the soup and so was feeling rather proud of herself for making something so yummy.

So, I said, "Hello, you make some good soup!"

It took her by surprise. She wanted to know if I lived in the computer and had I eaten any of her soup.

I told her I grew the kinds of leaves she'd put in her soup.

After a little discussion, that no, they didn't come off the tree brown and crunchy and no, I didn't grow the exact leaves she'd used I decided to go take some pictures of my little bay laurel tree.

Ignore the dried leaves, the ash tree held onto the leaves until a couple of weeks ago and they're scheduled to be raked and mulchified soon.

I also saw a monarch butterfly and then!

Ain't it purty? (head is at the bottom btw) I almost got a picture of an adult, but it fluttered away too fast.
Then, I pulled some of the plastic off the pond enclosure. It's done its job this year and it is also on the schedule for this weekends demolition.
Then, I noticed a little visitor!


Don't worry, as far as I can tell, it's not poisonous and is a Storeria dekayi texana or Texas Brown Snake

video

While I was out there, I took a little video. Sorry about the crappy panning. I'd stood up a little too long. Full grown, these snakes are only about a foot long, so I'm thinking this one is an adult. They also eat snails and slugs and are therefore proclaimed as a Welcomed Critter in my garden.

Perspective

Just to put things into perspective...





The Good, The Great and the Downright Ugly.

This is the Good.

This one ain't near as ugly as the first. Haven't eaten it yet, I've promised myself I'll offer half to 'Pup.

This is the Great!

These two plants (yeah, just 2!) have enjoyed having the covers OFF and some room to stretch. There's another ripening tomato in there. Should be just about ready on Friday for our nice grilled steak supper.


Now for the ugly. There are some pretty good seedlings in there. In a few more days, they may be ready to transplant into bigger pots.


Sigh, some of these are tomatoes. A long way from yummy, and time to restart a few.

Well, I know what was planted where, and not everything is leggy or damping off... time to restart a few...
(click to make the bottom one bigger, you'll see the prettiest purple basil seedlings!)

Memory

Even though you can buy some memory storage, you can't really buy memory. Well, okay, maybe you can.

The memory I need is less easily stored. It's more fluid and gets away from me all the time. Like starting a sentence and then, halfway through, you forget what the subject was and what you were going to say.

Humm... where was I going with this?

Oh yeah.

Memory. I keep forgetting some things.

Mostly, I've been forgetting to water things this winter. I don't usually HAVE to water things in winter. Usually, it RAINS all winter, that's how we know it's WINTER.

Dang drought.

Most of the plants that got a bit wilted will recover. But they look kinda sad until then.

Dang memory.

Looking for Stuff

I don't know about y'all, but getting things you need is a little stressful right now. It's not that we don't have the money right now, but there's a general feeling of "might be good to wait". Some of that is a feeling that as things get worse, things might be cheaper. Then again, if things get worse, maybe you should save all your money. Still, it's nice to look. If you look for a real sale on a discount site or a discount store, you can at least tell yourself that the sale you're looking at would be at least the smartest buy...if you were to buy.

Right now, its more an intellectual exercise in consumer mode... I ain't buyin', but I'm lookin'.

Well, mostly, I'm just lookin', really....just lookin' real hard.

There are some things I really do need, like a way to make long lasting labels for the seedlings I'm starting. Not that I did a stellar job there...sigh. I didn't look at them for a couple of days, as they were in a bright sunny spot, and I thought they'd all need more than a couple of days to start sprouting! Sigh...

They got leggy. Some of them are damping off. I have them labeled by number, and on a spreadsheet to tell me what the numbers mean. Some of the things I can replant. Some of them I won't.

What do they look like? That'll be my next post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, February 2009

Welcome to my Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post, as sponsored by May Dreams Garden. This is the third anniversary of the tradition started by Carol and it gets bigger and better every month.

Not a lot of pictures today, as it's been dry (until yesterday!), and a lot of the plants are in rest mode. Only one rose is blooming, the Pinata. Even Belinda is taking some time off. She's pretty much been in bloom continuously until a couple of days ago. Time to prune her too. Time to prune all the roses, come to think of it.


These are blooming, probably because they're near brick and are warmed by them at night. The other purple jade plants aren't blooming.

This isn't actually the best picture of the lemon grass blooming, but I can't resist that blue sky and white cloud.


White Allysium

Purple and white Allysium

Most of the violas and pansies are in recovery, as I didn't water them enough, but the plants survived and should bounce back in a little while. Till then, we have one, somewhat wistful face looking around...


The Angel Wing Jasmine is in bloom. Now, when I took this picture, I didn't notice that one of them had a resident. Can you see it?


How 'bout now?


The nasturtium are still blooming.

And that oddball petunia is also still blooming. I'm rather hoping that it will/has reseeded the area, as I'd love not to have to buy more.


The Mexican heather is in full bloom and still providing bees with an abundant supply of nectar. I wonder where that hive is?

I've an Aloe in bloom! Ignore the mess behind her... it will be taken care of soon.

A close up of the bloom, it is always a surprise to me when they bloom, and I don't know why.

This is the only hibiscus blossom, but there are other buds that haven't opened. The side yard micro climate has kept the bushes in bloom all winter. Now, I have to decide whether or not to prune back, as they bloom on new growth. On the other hand, they're already blooming!

The ham'n eggs lantana is blooming again. It's been blooming on and off all winter, providing a small, but consistent supply of berries for the birds. It IS going to be pruned hard in a couple of weeks.


The Carolina Jessamine is blooming...again, this picture is mostly because of the pretty sky behind them. The branches of the Ash tree are covered in nondescript and rather messy blooms too.

A better picture of the Jessamine, and it's trellis.

This is a better view of the ash tree.

Here it is, my one (or rather two) only roses open...oh well.

My Corner of Katy (MCoK) read my plurk about the pink jasmine starting to bloom and wondered if she needed one. I hope these pictures can help her decide, because, while it only blooms once a year, it does so spectacularly!

The best is yet to come.


And, I must post my ripe tomato, and it's sibling, that's developing a nice blush on it, too! I think I'll give it the rest of this day, and maybe tomorrow to ripen even deeper and then gobble it up.
Note to self: Share this one with 'Pup.
He's a GOOD 'Pup. (well, he always is, the man is a great spouse...no one's ever been so centered on me and my happiness before... I'm not sure I deserve it all the time, but he gives it. He is a worthy and loving man.)
PS: We're both going to Spring Fling!

Friday, February 13, 2009

On the Road and Cameras

The last new camera I got, my Kodak, I got to go to the Spring Fling in Austin. I ended up taking the old camera, as I wanted to make sure I took good pictures. I like the old Nikon I have better than the Kodak. The Kodak is smaller, but my old Nikon is more...flexible. I really like the fact that I can control some of the functions, like shutter speed. Well, to be honest, the Kodak lets me do that too, to a certain extent, but the screen doesn't swivel. I really like swiveling screens. Sigh...

Alas, even my Next New Nikon isn't going to have a swivel screen. It IS however, going to be big enough to hold in awkward positions. It will also have some of the best of the Kodak, in a video capability and affordability, and the best of the old Nikon in reliability and heft, as well as the ability to get in really tight for some really GOOD macros. Well, as good as my macros get, anyway.

Anyway I look at it though, it's going to have to wait for a really good sale, a lottery win (hard when you don't play) or a very generous and unexpected gift or prize. I suspect it's going to take saving up for a year after the trips I hope to take.

Oh, the trips?


Well, I'm going to Blogher in Chicago with Leslie in July. That was set a few months ago. I'm looking forward to it, though with a little trepidation, as it will be at, well, BLOGHER. I'm not sure about my reception there, except that I will be with one of the most gracious of lady bloggers; the Omnibus Driver.

The other trip I really want to take is also in Chicago. This one is the Spring Fling with the garden bloggers. They're doing the Fling up in spectacular style. (Right now, they're finalizing being able to visit Rick Bayliss' garden), and I wanna goooooooooo...

Oh well. I still have time to arrange it. I want to find a good buy on the flight there and back. So far, it's been the same price, no matter what. Still, I think it can be done. I just need a few more paying jobs, a few more hours at work, and a few more wistful sighs...

Meanwhile, he wants to go out and run away from home today and see some signs of spring. He surprises me sometimes. I suspect I'll be back online by Sunday with a lot of pictures of pretty leaves.

See ya, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ugly Fruit

At least, some people call it a fruit, others are rather vehemently of the opinion that it is a vegetable. Me? I kinda fall somewhere in the middle of that debate. On the one hand, I use it like a vegetable, adding it to soups, sauces and as a healthy side dish. Then again, I'm just about as liable to eat one out of hand, rather like an apple. Which everyone seems to agree is a fruit.

At any rate...

When I went outside today to water (we got some rain, but not nearly enough, last night) everything my eye was caught by a flash of red deeeeeep in the midst of my tomatoes.

It was a ripe tomato, at last!

However. It is not your average, everyday, beautiful baseball shaped image of loveliness pictured in the gardening magazines. Instead, I got this:





Yah, I know... looks kinda.. well... almost... obscene! And what's with the one green part? The ripe part was almost too ripe....
But uhmm.... it was quite delicious, right off the vine and still warm from the sun. I can't wait for the others to ripen. The covers worked very well this winter. We're due for some nice weather, highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's t0 60's. This is the part of the year we live for in Houston. Not too hot, not too cold, just right.
But DANG! That was an ugly tomato!

Valentines

'Pup surprised me last night. No, he didn't buy me jewelry , which is just as well, as I'd rather spend money on something else. Instead he proposed a...mini second honeymoon.

I'm going to have to think about it. He suggested going back to where we'd had part of our original honeymoon, but I think I'd rather go somewhere else. I'm thinking that I'd like to go somewhere a little closer to home and where there might be more to do...sightseeing, dining out.. those kind of things.

I'm thinking it might be time to pay a visit to Kemah. It was terribly damaged during Ike, but it's slowly rebuilding and a couple of weeks ago, it started advertising that it was "back". We've never been down there, as a lot of the activities were geared towards families, but I think, it's time we went down there and help the recovery by doing what the area was built for...tourism.

Galveston and many of the coastal communities aren't anywhere close to being rebuilt enough to be classified as recovered. Even this far north and west of the coast, we still have blue tarped roofs waiting for insurance checks and roofing contractors. There are even quite a few signs up here that aren't repaired, and fences still down or in dire need of repair. Things are happening, but it's going to take some time.

Meanwhile, I think it might be a good thing to support what HAS been recovered. Time to go to Galveston, Kemah and anywhere else who says "come on back", and help them celebrate their survival.

See ya on the coast.

Exercising

A few months ago, I found a couple of manual wheelchairs on Craig's List. I needed something I could carry in my car, and the rheumatologist wanted me to take it easy on my knee after he'd given me some shots. Then, after he drained the left knee (shattering my composure completely, 'cause y'all, that HURT), he wanted me to be OFF that knee for a couple of days. Nooooo argument from me.

At the same time, my other doctors wanted (still want) me to be more physically active. While staying off my knee.

No, right now, I don't belong to a gym. It's something we're thinking about, but some other bills have to be paid first. And then, there's the whole: will we actually USE the gym thingie....

So, lately, rather than use my cart, I've been pulling out the wheelchair. It probably looks funny for me to be doing that, as it looks harder to load and unload than it really is. Most of heavy lifting is finesse anyway. No reason to use brute force when one can use pivot points and several small lifts, rather than one big one.

So, my upper body's been getting a little workout. It's been enough of a workout that I get tired (who'd a thunk feeling tired would feel so good?), and only a little sore. How many calories I've burned, or how much "cardio" I"ve accomplished is hard to calculate. They don't make Polar watches that track what you do in a manual wheelchair.

I've noticed a few things about being in a wheelchair that are very different from being in a scooter. I've not quite digested them, but I'm working on how to write those differences up. It's kinda interesting.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Day

We finished hearing the evidence on the case yesterday. It was an aggravated assault case, a man decided his wife must be fooling around because she'd changed...methods of dealing with Flo's monthly visit.

So, he took a gun and threatened to kill her, wrap her up in a blanket and put her somewhere no one would ever find her. Charming.

The only redeeming quality this low down, no good sleazeball had was that when their four year old son came into the bedroom to see why daddy was yelling and mommy was crying... (yah, his son was there, in a one bedroom domicile) he did have the grace to put the gun away and calm his son's fears.

We all arrived to hear the summations from the prosecutor and the defensive lawyer, only to find that the perp had decided (probably because he noticed no one in the jury was smiling at him), that he'd plead guilty after all and would work out a plea bargain. He got 4 years. He could have gotten 20 years, and while I'm not sure we'd have given him the full 20 (not actually shooting his wife and calming his son might have gotten him a little wiggle room), I do think we'd have given him more than 4 years. He'd requested that a jury pass sentence as well.

Grrrrrr.

Well, it was worth the trip down there, and even worth the money to park in a lot nearest to the building the trial was being held. I was honored and more than pleased to have the opportunity to serve, and I hope I get another chance someday.

The next order of business was a trip to the DPS for another driver's licence. I'd lost mine, and not noticed until I looked for it to take with me to the courthouse. (I only took what would fit in my pockets and a small bag.) I didn't need it, as it turned out. Which was good, as I could only find my OLD licence from 2005, and a copy of the temporary licence I'd gotten when I'd had to replace my licence after my wallet was stolen, and oddly enough, a xeroxed copy of my lost licence. (My new doc had made an extra and gave it to me.)

That done, I went shopping. I had fun. I'm liking this wheelchair thing. I'm getting some exercise, and I'm a lot more...free...to go where and when I want. Where was a craft store. When was today. I could take my time and look and look and look, and ended up buying some beading materials.

As I was waiting to check out, a lady asked me if the chair I was using was mine. It was. She was in pain and needed one and didn't see the one offered by the store. She asked if there were anyone that could push her around the store. A young lady was able to help her. As we waited for her assistance, we shared names. Turns out that we are both Nancy's born to mothers named Nancy who had mothers also named Nancy.

Small world, ain't it?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Well, Dig Me Up and Call Me a Turnip

I got chosen for a jury. Won't take long, should be over tomorrow. The bailiff was very nice and made sure I got where I needed to go (took my wheelchair), and I'm tired, but not in pain...which will make it easier to sleep, which is good, because I've got to go back tomorrow.

Jury Duty

I'm off to perform my civic duty. I almost wish I'd get chosen for a jury. sigh

Last time I was called up, I had trouble getting the gentleman escorting us to understand that I just could not handle stairs. That was very soon after my surgery and I was still pretty unsteady. I'm steadier now, but I'm still not able to do stairs AND keep up with a group. At my own pace, stopping frequently, yes. At a brisk pace up and down stairs...no.

So, I'll be taking my little manually powered wheelchair. Hopefully that will speak for me. Unfortunately, I'm kinda sorry that it will probably mean I'll be LESS likely to be chosen for a jury. I'll have two strikes against me. One, I'm a teacher and I'm used to hearing only one side of the story at a time and making a decision about who is telling the truth, and two...I'm disabled. We'll see.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Groundhog's Day -- Spring's Coming!

Well, Happy Groundhog's Day everyone! Seems that ol' Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. If he'd been here, he'd have seen his shadow too, but in our case, he'd have been predicting about 12 to 14 more weeks of non-heatstroke worthy weather, rather than 6 more weeks of winter. It is good to live where winter is a pleasant time. Seriously, y'all up north have my sincere and true respect. Surviving in that cold...brrr. I don't think I could do it. My knees hurt enough with our (relatively) milder cold fronts. I cannot imagine trying to move around when the weather has been as beastly as it has been for so many of you for so long.

As for me? Time to get those peas in the ground! The chard I planted on the 28th is already up. I was expecting it to take a few more days. I've put the flat outside, in the relative protection of an old aquarium so that it can get enough sun. I don't have many windows that let in enough sun, as in the summer, what would be just enough sun in the winter, would make it very hard to keep the house cool. Some of the other seeds I planted on the 27th are also peeking up. They're still inside, until tomorrow. We had a cold front move in and it will be chilly outside tonight.

Y'all. I started a LOT of seeds this year. I've never tried to do so many starts, as I usually would have just bought some small plants from the nurseries here. I thought I'd try doing it from seed this year, so that I could give some plants to some neighbors and others for my mom.

I'll post a picture of my planting list later today, or tomorrow. Fortunately, I won't have to have a grow light, as I can probably put the sprouted flats outside to grow in a week or so.

I dug into my compost yesterday and under the cap of leaves that has (finally!) fallen from the ash tree, it is fiiiinnnnee. I should also note that the same ash tree that just a couple of weeks ago dropped those leaves...is now budding out.

The weather was so nice yesterday that 'Pup and I actually grilled. Grilled vs Barbecue means that we used direct heat to cook some chicken, a couple of pork chops and two very nice steaks. Barbecuing would have entailed a long cooking process over indirect heat and a lot of smoke. It was so nice outside, we even stayed outside after dark and ate by candle light. Neither of us was interested in the Super Bowl, though I'll probably be searching for the commercials later today.

The little work I did outside yesterday played havoc with my knees, but I've an early appointment with the joint doctor tomorrow and hopefully, that will be taken care of for another few weeks.