Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

More Favorite Things

March 21, 2019

The Mountains

View from my desk.  6:30 pm.

Spring

Chilling (Monday, 3/21/19) this am before another foray into the garden.  Saturday had done my bi-yearly trip towards New Mexico (past Pantano) to Mesquite Valley Growers, my absolute favorite nursery in town.  Bought plants for cherry, plum, and Early Girl tomatoes.  So had to buy FoxFarm Happy Frog Soil Conditioner (contains screened aged forest products, earthworm castings, and bat guano, not to mention soil microbes to help increase root efficiency and encourage nutrient uptake) after reading a blog about tomatoes from a woman no doubt shilling for the company.  Only 3 cu ft, but me with no wheelbarrow, so my neighbor lent this teenager to schlep it for me in exchange for the rest of my mizuna, which had bolted.  Also purchased this pericallis cineraria, which was artfully parked next to their entrance, calling to me.  Should have googled it first: a tender perennial in regions with cool, moist summers.  Ah, but…

When I am an old woman I shall grow purple…  (variation of “Warning” poem by Jenny Joseph.)

The sweet pink jasmine on a trellis next to  the bedroom window has just started to bloom.  Too bad I can’t reproduce the very sweet (hence the name) smell in this blog.

Enjoying the birds right now.  My cat was interested in the roadrunner which sat on the fence for a while, emitting those metallic-clacking tones (roadrunner).  A woodpecker took a few drinks from the birdbath, as well as a few finches, having eaten only the Nyjer thistle from the gourmet seeds and berries that are prized by finches, such as sunflower hearts, canola seeds, cranberry seeds and Nyjer seeds, but a towhee enjoyed a marvelous splashy time, taking no heed of the need to conserve water in the desert.

75° (feels like 80°).  My vegetable garden is just five foot by eight foot, but, after sifting out the rocks and invasive tree roots, transferring the dozens of worms to my compost (hoping PETA doesn’t get wind of that), and digging in the marvelous conditioner, I’ve now planted seven tomato bushes (the plums and cherries came in six-packs, so I gave my daughter half of them) and seeds for beets, sugar snap peas, kale, and butter lettuce.  The carrots and spinach are still in their infancy, as well as a few hollyhocks.

The bougainvilleas get zapped by the freezes every winter, so I have to cut them back.  Unfortunately, they do not agree to this process, and attacked with lots of long thorns.  Even after I explained that a friend is taking out her bougainvilleas as they look so dreadful in the winter, and I’m only trimming them.  (Kinda like me explaining to my cat that a  co-worker had her cat declawed, and I’m only trimming her nails, but she still scratches me.)  I wear gauntlet gloves (for the bougainvillea, not the cat), yet still am bleeding, mainly from carrying the branches out front.

The photinia outside my kitchen window doesn’t flower, perhaps because I keep trimming it down, but the budding leaves look like flowers.

Books

Another Favorite Thing – reading.  I’ve put an asterisk * by the books on last week’s NY Times bestseller lists, Fiction and Nonfiction.

Recommended this book to a friend and think I neglected to put it in my blog: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, and an upcoming American mystery thriller drama film (not the same as the 1944 movie).  Lots of twists and turns.  Especially liked the ending.  Would recommend.

Parable of the Sower is a dystopian science fiction novel by Octavia Butler, the first in a two-book series; she got a Nebula Award for the second.  (She has also gotten many other awards.)  I like that a black woman writes scifi, so there are a variety of characters, as opposed to the old Star Trek with one Russian guy, one Asian, one Vulcan, one black woman, and everybody else white except for the Klingons, and otherworlders.  Yes, yes, I know that in Generations people of color are included, but I’d stopped watching it by then.  I grew up in the 50’s where men wore hats, women wore dresses and screamed a lot when creatures invaded.  People of color weren’t trying to kill off giant ants with pistols (see photo, right).  Anyway, back to this book.  Too dystopian and dark for me, but I’ll probably read the second one anyway.

*Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, who won the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award for it, is fun. Especially the ending. You may think that Eleanor is A Bit Much, especially with her baking soda, but you’ll forget about politics while reading it.  This is also going to be a movie, perhaps as a potential star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon.

*Educated by Tara Westover, which I mentioned in this blog: books-movies-dogs-cats.  Just read it.  Yikes!  Truth is stranger than fiction.  How Westover lived to tell the tale (it’s not like someone was trying to kill her, she was just made to do dangerous tasks at a young age) is amazing.  Highly recommend it.

*Becoming, an audio book I started, written and narrated by Michelle Obama.  Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother.  Commented to friend, Trying to read Becoming but it’s way boring by comparison to Educated.  Friend answered:

I too am having trouble with Michelle. I can only read about 20 pages and I have to put it down else fall asleep. Overall, “nice,” I guess, to know the story, but not a page turner.

So far her male relatives have fared poorly, but she’s perfect.  Probably won’t finish it.  Know how it ends.

Finished reading Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, also mentioned in that blog.  Not as good as Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America (when did book titles start getting so long?), which I highly recommend, but this one is interesting.  There is an awful lot that isn’t covered in undergraduate American History.

Also just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, an historical novel.

Kingsolver uses interwoven timelines to trace the lives of two families living in the house a century and a half apart.

Liked it.  The political climate in 2016 is (unfortunately) true, and Vineland, New Jersey does exist, but wondered which persons in 1871 did.  Would recommend it.  Marvelous female characters.

Politics

Back to stuff I don’t like.  Sent my legislators emails that I thought they should enact a higher minimum wage.  Arizona’s is $11/ hour; if someone worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks of the year, they’d earn $22,880.  (The Federal poverty level for 2019 for a family of three is $20,780.)  Got only one reply:

Thank you for writing Lynne. After hearing from many college students who have lost their jobs due to the recent increase in our minimum wage, I am not inclined to follow the lead of a state that has out of control cost of living. The additional cost to the working poor for basics offsets the increase of wages spread across every service they have to buy.

Representative Mark Finchem

Probably white male college students too.  Didn’t consider people whose families exist on minimum wage?  Now we in Arizona only pay our legislators $24,000/year, but that’s for only 40 legislative days each year, or about two months.  You can bet they’re earning more the other ten months.  And they also get per diem.  Probably don’t talk to the working poor.  But my other legislators, Bret Roberts and Vince Leach never bothered to answer, so I guess I should be more pissed with them.  Note: they’re all Republicans.

National Emergency

February 14, 2019

I hardly think that migrants fleeing from violence in their countries, applying for asylum in the US, are our National Emergency.  Our mass killing are.

Today, Valentine’s Day, is the anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, although I wish they’d call these murders instead of making them sound like a day at the shooting range.  Seventeen students and staff members dead, seventeen others wounded.  There were ±307 mass shootings in the US in 2018, depending on how you define them.  This from Wikipedia:

Mass Shooting Tracker: 4+ shot in one incident, at one location, at roughly the same time.
Gun Violence Archive: 4+ shot in one incident, excluding the perpetrator(s), at one location, at roughly the same time.
Vox: 4+ shot in one incident, excluding the perpetrator(s), at one location, at roughly the same time.
USA Today: 4+ shot and killed in one incident, at one location, at roughly the same time (same as the FBI’s “mass killing” definition).
Mother Jones: 3+ shot and killed in one incident, excluding the perpetrator(s), at a public place, excluding gang-related killings.
The Washington Post: 4+ shot and killed in one incident, excluding the perpetrator(s), at a public place, excluding gang-related killings.

But all were executed by American citizens, most of whom were white males (no women).  As usual, little if anything was changed regarding our gun laws.  This also from Wikipedia re Stoneman Douglas:

Following the massacre, student survivors’ anger and frustration towards the perceived inaction of the Republican-dominated legislature on the wider issue of mass shootings and gun violence led to the founding of Never Again MSD, an organization formed by survivors and students of the shooting to demand legislative action on gun violence. On March 9, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age for buying rifles in Florida from 18 to 21. The legislation also established waiting periods and background checks for gun buyers. The law also allowed for the arming of teachers who were properly trained and the hiring of school police. [NPR had a bit on that today.]  So-called “bump stocks” would now be banned and some potentially violent or mentally unstable persons would be prohibited from possessing guns. The …NRA immediately filed a lawsuit that challenged the federal constitutionality of the age requirement clause.

Blah blah blah.  Or as the Onion headline says each time this happens,  ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

My Garden

It is February and the night temps are going to dip below freezing for the third time; on Sunday I covered outdoor pots and my garden with sheets yet again.  But the mizuna has loved the rains.  (It tastes a bit like arugula but not as peppery.)  The spinach is just getting going.  I think I’ve gotten my last eggplant off my two-year-old plants.  But my brussel sprout plant (according to the map of what seeds I planted where) has yielded no sprouts, which are supposed to occur along its trunk.  (Mine v. what the plant  should look like.)  Then I happened to look at the top of the plant.  Huge cauliflower (dwarfed here by its giant leaves)!  Made cauliflower soup (for 4) with a quarter of it.

The Loft

You Tucsonans know The Loft Cinema, our art movie house.  Saturday went with friends to see Documentaries (Short Subject) nominated for this year’s Oscars.  Most were pretty depressing.

  • Black Sheep was the story of a black kid who tries to be white (down to the blue contacts!) to hang with English thugs.
  • End Game follows five people in San Francisco who are dying, who make different choices on how to die.  A few of them were at the Zen Hospice Project, which I have read about, but can’t remember when or why.
  • The next was A Night at The Garden, quite an eye-opener, as it was footage from 1939 when 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism.  Rather spooky, these Americans giving the Nazi salute.  It’s very short; you can watch it on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/237489146.
  • Then there’s Lifeboat: German volunteers sail to the Mediterranean to rescue refugees from sinking rafts off the coast of Libya.  It is horrible how many people are jammed into these wooded boats or inflatable rafts.
  • The last was Period. End of Sentence.  In Hapur, a rural village outside New Delhi, where a girl’s period can mean the end of her education…  a sanitary pad machine is installed [and] the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering the women of their community.

The Estrogen Hour

Went to a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with friends Sunday night, as we’ve done for a few years, to which we added hors d’oeuvres and a couple of bottles of wine.  It was at Laffs and billed as Tucson’s funniest females… for this stand-up comedy.  Best year yet.  They were all good, although not all cisgen – ‘guestosteroneTempest DuJour

“She” shall also host the Very Big Show (of Support) for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona at the Rialto Theatre in downtown Tucson.

Saturday, March 9, 2019
VIP Reception: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
General Admission: 7:00 pm

You can look it up and buy a ticket if you’re interested (and I’ll go with you).

March Sadness

March 27, 2018

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table

It’s raining and the low barometric pressure has made me sleepy, so I left work after only eight hours, and am having a very small cup of iced coffee.

Thinning ranks:  First, one of my compatriots went on leave for two weeks because his wife had breast cancer surgery; he may have to go home again for her chemo.  Then a friend was rear-ended (the perpetrator left the scene) resulting in her rental car jumping a construction barrier; it was totaled; she is taking leave to deal with her subsequent back problems.  And my boss’s wife, six+ months pregnant, has endometriosis, so he’s gone home to take care of their three-year-old.

Missed blogging for the past couple of weeks.  First Pi Day, 3/14.  A retired Japanese engineer, Akira Haraguchi, born 1946, memorized π up to 111,700 digits in 2015.  I believe that is the latest world record.

Stephen Hawking

Then theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died, the three years he had been given to live after his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) having stretched to 55.  I was one of ten million people who tried to read A Brief History of Time, widely called the most unread book of all time.  His computer-generated voice was known to millions of people around the world.

I remember watching him give a lecture in China. (He could just set his computer for Chinese.)  And I saw The Theory of Everything (which details the life of Hawking) in 2014, for which Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor.  But I hadn’t realized that Hawking had been on the Simpsons numerous times! Simpsons.

Hawking said he wasn’t sure which was the bigger disappointment: His own failure to formulate a unified field theory, or the Springfield intellectuals’ failure to transform the town.

And he appeared on Star Trek TNG Star Trek TNG, playing poker with Data, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.  But he had a problem when he recently commented on our president:

Stephen Hawking Angers Trump Supporters with Baffling Array of Long Words

By Andy Borowitz May 31, 2016

LONDON (The Borowitz Report)—The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking angered supporters of Donald J. Trump on Monday by responding to a question about the billionaire with a baffling array of long words.

Speaking to a television interviewer in London, Hawking called Trump “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” a statement that many Trump supporters believed was intentionally designed to confuse them.

Moments after Hawking made the remark, Google reported a sharp increase in searches for the terms “demagogue,” “denominator,” and “Stephen Hawking.”

“For a so-called genius, this was an epic fail,” Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said. “If Professor Hawking wants to do some damage, maybe he should try talking in English next time.”

Later in the day, Hawking attempted to clarify his remark about the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, telling a reporter, “Trump bad man. Real bad man.”

www.newyorker.com

Japanese Garden

Last weekend I went to the Morikami Japanese Gardens.  Unfortunately, the azaleas were missing most of their leaves, the lawns were dried out, and the lakes/ponds were way low.  Hurricane Irma caused “considerable damage” to the Japanese gardens at Morikami Museum in suburban Delray Beach, museum officials say, so most of the problems are hurricane related.  Gee, that was slmost six months ago.

But that shouldn’t affect dry gardens, yes?  The problem, after you’ve seen the most famous dry garden in the world, Ryōan-ji (above – Stephane D’Alu’s photo – I visited Japan sometime around ’86, when photos were taken with a camera and printed, so mine are in a box somewhere), is that few others can hold a candle to it.  Definitely not the Morikami Japanese Gardens.  I guess I was bothered by the lackluster ferns.

A year ago February the gardens had a moment in the international spotlight as First lady Melania Trump and Japan’s first lady Akie Abe toured the grounds.   So the gardens must have looked great then, but you can’t tell by the official photos, which show Mrs. Abe and her retinue, trying to look cheerful, while Melania stares straight ahead, looking like an ice maiden. However, she’s not at all like Hans Christian Andersen’s Ice Maiden.  I think of her as a version of the miller’s daughter who has the run-in with Rumpelstiltskin.  She had to marry the dreadful king.

On the third day, when the girl has been taken to an even larger room filled with straw and told by the king that he will marry her if she can fill this room with gold or execute her if she cannot.

Others that I have visited: The Huntington Gardens 2014/08/10 in LA have a lovely Japanese Garden    The Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is delightful 2014/01/17.  I have visited the Seattle Japanese Gardens (but neglected to put a photo in a blog) and many beautiful botanical gardens, so I am a bit jaded.

Got “home” and realized that I’d spent not only $13 for the ticket into the gardens, but over $20 for gas, and $16+ for the toll road, mostly one way as I tried to return on back roads.  Then my second phone died.  I had been using them for navigation.  Was going to use one each way but had also used the iphone for photos.  Couldn’t find my car charger before I left; it’s possible that I left it in the last rental car.  This car has a plug-in for the USB cord, but that didn’t seem to work.  I looked it up online (today, not then):

By plugging your phone into a low-power USB port like the one in your car, you allow the device to swallow up power at a rate that’s much too fast for the port’s capabilities. As a result, your phone might stall while it charges, or worse — barely charge at all.  businessinsider

Found a lone gas station on a back road, and swerved right in, as the gas tank was low too, and I pictured myself out of gas in the  middle of nowhere, without even a phone!  Bought another one of those cigarette lighter adaptors.

Home for the Holidays

December 29, 2017

We get to take a “rotation” every 45 days.  So I was home for the holidays.  And it was a lot cooler in Tucson than Orlando!  When I left Orlando at 6 am last Friday it was 63°, but with the humidity at 98%, even long sleeves were warm.  When I arrived in Tucson at 12:30 (having lost a few hours) it was 57° with 24% humidity.  What a beautiful city!  The air was clear and all four mountain ranges could be clearly seen.  I did like the morning fog in Orlando during the previous week, but I do enjoy views.

After getting Uber’ed home, ditching my suitcase, and picking up my car, went to my daughter’s to make many dozens of Christmas cookies.

Shopping & Ice Hockey

What a marvelous day of shopping Saturday, which I usually don’t like.  First took my youngest grandchild to Toys “R” Us for his choice, then on to the mall and Dillard’s for my son, the middle grandson, and my granddaughter to buy the wardrobe items they wanted.  Already got my daughter and son-in-law gift certificates for their wishes.  And I didn’t even think of all of the dollars flowing from my credit card, ’cause I’m working when I hadn’t expected to.

That night my son took us all to a hockey game, in my daughter’s new SUV.  We may not be the 1%, but it’s a good year for us.  Didn’t even know that Tucson had jump-started hockey again.  The Tucson Roadrunners are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League which began play for the 2016–17 season.  (The University of Arizona had had a hockey team from 1979 to 2011.)  Because my son lives in Vancouver, Canada, he is very into hockey.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Lights in my daughter’s neighborhood.


FEMA Flexible

December 10, 2017

At my fourth desk in three weeks.  First in a “corral” with our entire group from EMI.  Then we were assigned team leaders (TFLs) and two of us were moved across the hall.  But that TFL had too many of us (12 when 6 were the norm), so when a new crop of leaders joined us, five of us (PDMGs – Project Delivery Managers) moved to a different section of desks.  Then a guy who had been working Harvey in Texas joined us and, with our leader, the seven of us moved into a middle manager’s office (which was meant for one.)  But I have a window!  Attached is a photo from “my” window.

This from management:

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria impacted roughly 25.8 million people, nearly twelve percent of the U.S. population. The devastation affected individuals, families, and businesses, and more than 4.7 million disaster survivors registered for federal assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That number is larger than all who registered for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Sandy combined.

Driving

The lanes are narrower here – the body of the truck in front of me hovered over the double yellow on one side the edge white on the other. Parking places are narrower too – and I’m driving a bug! Plus we got this from management when we arrived:

Snow

A cold front rolled through here Friday, but only brought us rain, and 37° (feels like 33°).  The rest of the South, to Texas, got a blanket of snow.  The wife of our TFL sent him a photo of their house in Baton Rouge. An inch-and-a-half of snow and all of the schools closed.  (Photo of Baton Rouge from Reading Eagle).  It took three feet of snow overnight in 1967 to close Michigan State for a day.

Flora and Fauna

Because the squirrels have no natural predators here, they get their adrenalin rushes by racing across roads.  Other “wildlife” consists of small lizards darting about the tiny (maybe 6′ x 8′) laundry room here at the R.I.

I looked up this plant, at our Residence – Hawaiian ti.  There are also birds of paradise, a hedge of holly, another of ferns (why trimmed rectangular?), fan palms, short and tall, rhaphiolepis, privet.

Electronics

Maybe because I grew up in a time when phones were attached to the wall in the kitchen by a chord, but I am getting a kick out of my phones.  With my personal android I can slide my finger about the screen instead of trying to type with my thumbs, the new handwriting.  (But predictive text sometimes does not understand me.)  My FEMA iphone needs to read my thumbprint before letting me in; I think that’s so cool, rad, or whatever is said today.  Need to insert my FEMA badge into the laptop to turn it on.  Gee, when I studied computer science, we used punch cards.

Politics

I can’t listen to the news or even the news filtered through Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, or SNL.  Or through my friends on Facebook.  This cartoon says enough:

Fast and Furious

November 30, 2017

About forty newbies from Wave 11 showed up at our AFO on Monday.  We scrambled to find enough tables and chairs, and the PA TFLs (Team Field Leaders) were stretched to manage more of us.  Our feet are being held to the fire to get our calls, meetings, and documentation done quickly and the applicants’ paperwork finished and to the feds before the Christmas holidays.  I started off behind, as my first applicants were schools, I arrived at the AFO on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, when all of the schools had a week off for break.  (I did not get an entire week off to join the Native Americans in their National Day of Mourning, nor did my children or grandchildren.)  Our applicants have already waited almost two months for disaster relief from our government.  BTW – According to Wikipedia, Irma’s damage is almost $64.66 billion – Unofficially the fifth-costliest hurricane on record, which makes this a good time to cut taxes.

Fitness

Walked to the Subway for lunch today – 0.8 miles each way, according to Google maps. In anticipation had slathered with sunscreen in the morning, as the clouds have finally receeded.  But I had forgotten that when the humidity is 75%, you’re damp when you return.  However, I need exercise, and walking up and down the stairs to my second floor “residence” (It’s not a room,  it’s a residence), plus walking up and down the stairs to the third floor office aren’t enough, but getting up to exercise before work (starting time 8 am at the latest) does not appeal to this not-a-morning-person.  And after work I’m tired.  (Remember, I haven’t worked full time for almost ten years.)  Nevertheless, the RVD Athletic Club is near, and at 5:30 pm they offer Group Core:

Train like an athlete in 30-action packed minutes. A strong core, from your shoulders to your hips, will improve your athletic performance, prevent back pain and give you ripped abs! Motivating instructors and music will coach you through functional and integrated exercises using your body weight, a weight plate, a towel and a platform – all to challenge you like never before. REACH YOUR PEAK with Group Core!

Hahahahaha…

Flora and Fauna

Our office is in a beautiful office park (photos here from the Web) with mature trees (with leaves! unlike those in Tucson), some laden with Spanish moss.  (Click on the one at right for a view.)  Walkways wind along masses of green – azaleas, some blooming, society garlic, also blooming, large swaths of giant philodendren, liriope larger than I can grow in Tucson, New Zealand flax, all in large beds, manicured hedges,  low walls covered with ivy or moss, and large ponds, some with water lilies.

Already mentioned the plethora of squirrels, the vultures and the hawk, but forgot the cattle egrets (tick birds we used to call them in Jamaica, as they had a symbiotic relationship with the cattle, keeping them relatively free of bugs) – about five of them sitting on a hedge, as there are no cows around.  And a solitary egret in one of the ponds, looking like a statue among the flock of ducks, mallards and white peking, enjoying the water.  No segregation here.

No Frolicking

We were sent an email about Rental Car Unauthorized Activities.   This was one:

Frolicking- doing things that are for recreation, sightseeing, movies, bowling, concerts, bar hopping, going to the beach or amusement parks; if you are having fun you are unlikely to be in the scope of your employment.

Having fun is definitely not in our scope of work.

Speaking of rental cars, ours are to be cheap, and mine is a two-door VW beetle.  But a bit snazzier than the delapidated one my boyfriend had in college. Because it’s a turbo, the first time I hit the gas I nearly got whiplash!  And it has heated seats, which I’ve used on two “cold” mornings.

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

Last week we laughed because the weather forecasters talked about a cooling trend – in other words, double digits, 97° rather than 104°.  But today it’s absolutely balmy!  Only 85° with 14% humidity.

Worms and Spiders

I’ve had these tiny black striped caterpillars eating my parsley.  Been picking them off to save a few sprigs for myself, and putting them on the “hedge” of my neighbor’s cat’s claw above the wall, thinking they could eat anything green.  Only thought today to look them up.  Turns out they’re also called parsley worms.  Guess why!  Then they turn into pretty black swallowtail butterflies, and I guess I’m not going to have any more, having starved these poor worms.  These photos, and the info, from another blog:

Swallowtail caterpillars… serve as a food source for songbirds and other wildlife. After their metamorphosis into butterflies… one-third of the world’s cultivated crops depend upon the work of pollinators like butterfly and bees. In addition… just watching the whimsical flight of butterflies is enough to lift the spirits!  black-swallowtail-caterpillar

I had also seen inch worms on my basil (and mint and lantana) and had picked them off and deposited them in the cat’s claw.  Today more holes in the leaves but only a tiny yellowish white spider.  It couldn’t be eating the cutworms.

What if you can’t see any worms eating the… plant? The culprit might still be mint plant worms – cutworms to be exact. Cutworms are nocturnal feeders and then post feast, hiding in the soil during the day at the plant’s base or in its debris.  edible/herbs

And speaking of spiders, I have a number of pretty 1½- to 2-inch black and yellow garden spiders on my tomato plants and bougainvillea (this photo from Orkin, which, unfortunately, sells you chemicals to kill all bugs) but none of them have done the zippers on their orb webs I’ve seen before.  I just work around them; love having them eat the tiny insects.

Vegetable Garden

After spending half a day raking out two inches of gravel, which I guess the owner considers landscaping, dug my compost into another two feet of space for the vegetable garden, having found another section of soaker hose.  Planted seeds for a few butterfly bushes, broccoli and cauliflower plants, carrots, radishes, and nasturtiums.  A month too early for arugula.

Am still harvesting about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week, and made ratatouille twice, first from three Japanese eggplants, next from three small, round eggplants (Black Beauty).  The tomato bushes (Super Sweet 100) are so huge, had to buy a tomato tower to support one of them, which I had originally only planted with a tiny cage.  Tried a recipe for baked cherry tomatoes, and it made them way too sweet!  Slathered it on goat cheese sandwiches.

Lizards

After the bobcat and roadrunner appearances in my yard, have not seen any large collared lizards around, they’re being more cautious, just tiny ones doing pushups.  Googled that, even though I knew the answer, and got this cute column from the Tucson Weekly a number of years ago.  You must read it!  why-lizards-do-push-ups-and-other-tucson-wildlife-tidbits-you-need-to-know-before-you-die

The English Monarchy

Reading commentary in last Sunday’s New York Times about my cousin, Tony Blair, The Boys of Brexit:

Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

Huh?  I don’t follow the Monarchy (except to watch Netflix’s series The Crown and the 2006 movie The Queen, with Helen Mirren, about the royal debacle after Diana died), so had to look up which grandson was marrying an American.  Turns out red-headed Prince Harry is “dating” a divorced American actress, Meghan Markle, Jewish, half-black, and four years older that he is (36, 32).  And it appears that she has moved into his “cottage”, at Kensington Palace.  Nottingham Cottage is not a Thomas Kinkade cottage (gag), but small.  (Photo of the couple from Getty Images.)

Loved this detail of Kensington Palace from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.  You can click on it to make it larger.  Price Harry’s arrow is third down on the left.  According to Hello Magazine,

Harry’s new digs have been dubbed “the royal bedsit” due to the one-bedroom apartment’s modest facilities, which include a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Equifax

Another article in the Times, Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings.  Thought I ought to see if I was caught in the web.  equifaxsecurity2017.com  According to the NPR news, you click on Am I Impacted? and get another page.

  1. Click the button above, “Am I Impacted?,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.  [And prove you’re not a robot.]
  2. Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
  3. Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, we will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. After checking if you were impacted you will see an option to enroll. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

I did so and got:

Thank You
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

However,

Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board… received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015.

John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer… received $3.1 million in 2016.

John J. Kelley III, the company’s chief legal officer… received $2.8 million in compensation last year.

Gee, that’s fair.  Read the article to see why they pulled in the big bucks.  Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings

Denver 2017 Continued

July 28, 2017

I love the Denver Botanical Gardens.  Last time I was there there was an extensive Dale Chihuly glass exhibit.   (Scroll down to the bottom of this blog: denver-2014.)  This time it was Calder.  Photo of my cousins in front of one.   I liked the water lilies the best.

But I had to take some photos of bugs, as my father was wont to do.  (After he had been gone a few years my mother suggested that we look at some of his slides.  Hoping to actually see people, we chose a set entitled Jane and Hal’s.  It was, of course, bugs in Aunt Jane and Uncle Hal’s garden.)  

That was Tuesday.  In the evening they got a call from M’s nephew who had crashed his bicycle and broken a thumb, and, as neither he nor his girlfriend had a car, could they pick him up after surgery tomorrow?

So on Wednesday morning we walked some of the extensive trails through Lone Tree, from their condo, and in the afternoon went downtown Denver to the hospital.  Had a nice chat with the girlfriend who is getting her PhD in bug-ology (entomology)*.  There’s a lot of traffic in Denver, and google maps (or whatever they were using) would mention that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us off the freeway, only to say that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us back to the freeway.

Must mention that every morning (lovely, cool mornings) we had breakfast on one of their three decks (the condo is a tri-level), which overlooks the paved trail that winds through their town.  This section has numerous trees, deciduous and pines.  Many people passed, walking with friends, or more often their dogs, and M chatted with all of them.  And we watched the squirrels, rabbits, and birds.  There was a murder of crows (yes, that’s the collective noun for a group of crows) in the pines, and one morning a  Cooper’s hawk – it was the same size as the crows, with a striped tail – had an extended  tête-à-tête with one of those raucous birds.

Thursday we went to the Molly Brown House Museum.  She is known because of the musical film, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which we were told is quite fictionalized.  From Wikipedia:

Margaret “Maggie” Brown was an American socialite and philanthropist. She is best remembered for exhorting the crew in Lifeboat No. 6 to return to the debris field of the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic to look for survivors.

The house was very dark, to save the furnishings from the Denver sun.  The volunteer who gave the hour-long tour was great.  (She said that Margaret Brown was never called Maggie.) The house was presumably upper-middle class at the turn of the  last century.  Quite large, but it accommodated the couple, their two children, and her parents.

 

 

 

Margaret was a pretty liberated woman, going to Japan, Egypt, and Europe with her maid.  On the trip back from France she took the Titanic, which, as you possibly know, went down.  Being one of the well-to-do passengers, she got into one of the lifeboats and went on to raise money from the more wealthy to help the poor who had survived.  (She posted two lists, one of the rich survivors who donated, and how much they gave, and another of those who did not give.  That helped.)

In her early years, after her husband had discovered gold and became a partner in the mining company, she helped miners and their families and worked to improve the town’s schools.  Later on she worked with women’s suffrage and workers’ rights, and also ran for a Colorado state senate seat three times.  (She did not win.)

 

Friday we went to the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve and checked out the Boettcher Mansion, which was celebrating its 100th year, and which stays open by hosting weddings – the other couple touring the house were scheduling their nuptials.  I enjoyed the Craftsman architecture and furnishings (from the Arts and Crafts movement), including the wallpaper in the William Morris style.

And the Nature Center (which only had a large diorama, but the taxidermy was done well).  We exited as it started raining.

 

Then left at dawn Saturday morning to return to Tucson.  (Didn’t have a lot of choice with tickets using my frequent flyer miles.)

*Sorry – I have to tell a Tucson insect story.  Yesterday I sat for my grandkids.  The middle one is in the Phoenix area with paternal grandparents (clever enough to take one at a time), the youngest had his tonsils out three days ago and is spending his time eating ice cream and watching movies, and the oldest was to go to a friend’s house for a swim.  On the way over she mentioned that they have a collection of scorpions, knowing that her brother has an interest in scorpions ever since, at age one in Chandler, he poked at one on the staircase and got stung.  (It’s family legend.)

Turns out the mother has a few scorpions in terrariums, and a collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, but has at least a dozen cages and terrariums with tarantulas from all over the world.  Had to show us all of them, one of her favorites being the one which has pink toes.  Avicularia avicularia… are arboreal tarantulas and are found in South America.1

1http://awesomearachnids.tumblr.com/post/109170783825/pink-toe-tarantula

On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog, The Garden.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)

 

The Garden

May 25, 2017

My tiny vegetable garden is very happy with being watered twice a day.  There are three tomato plants (closeups of the large tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes, which will no doubt ripen when I’m in Berlin next week; the housesitter can enjoy them) and an eggplant in the back.  The cucumber and squash vines completely cover the carrots (which take a long time to grow) and spinach (from which I’m harvesting the largest leaves, leaving the plants to continue producing.  Yesterday I got half a bag for a salad.)  One spinach leaf had a caterpillar encased in what looked like plexiglass on a leaf; I moved that leaf to another part of the yard in case it becomes a beautiful butterfly.

My neighbor was out the other morning (in short shorts – and she’s older than I am!) taking photos of her blooms.  The red birds of paradise (the left is hers, the right is “mine”) look gorgeous, even in front of lavender Texas ranger flowers, about the shade of  “my” purple prickly pear cactus on the right.  But the star of the show was her night-blooming cereus, which hadn’t faded out yet, and blooms only once a year!

Amazing that some plants love the heat.  My bulbine frutescens (a plant from South Africa), sends out long stalks with tiny yellow flowers.

Must mention that I have another pair of mourning doves raising two chicks, farther down the wall from the last dove family.  One of the parents sits patiently on the nest as I water my potted plants under it, but the other flaps noisily out of the nest when I just open the back door!

Summer is here!

Yes, we had one day over 100° a few weeks ago, but yesterday it was 102°, and in another week the serious heat will start; the temps will no doubt be in the 100’s for months. The rest of you in the northern hemisphere may start summer on June 20, but we start with those 100° temperatures!

Looks like Berlin’s not going to be as cool as I had hoped.  (Going with the Contemporary Art Society – CAS – from the Tucson Museum of Art -TMA.)  However, my daughter got me a tiny umbrella (something we rarely use here in the desert) for Mother’s Day, which fits in my purse, so I’m set for Tuesday and Friday.