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  • Archive for July, 2016






















    This kid: turning into a big boy, got a hair cut, always has a cracker in hand, ready to explore the world.

    Love, love, love him!

    turner river november 1, 2008 051
    Today’s photo is brought to you by the Turner River in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park, circa 2008.

    +In My Head
    Let’s go with some random bulleted thoughts….

    • I think the story of my life is being emotionally connected to time passing. Speaking of time, I have a post to write that has been jingling in my head for months about synesthesia and time. Just need to sit down and parse it out.
    • I’m trying not to get too excited about autumn and cooler weather but I am looking forward to hiking and camping again. And fall baking…*sigh* I love autumn! The last two days we have temperatures in the high 70s, low 80s due to some rain that came in from offshore. It was delightful!
    • Forest got his first haircut almost two weeks ago. I’d been trying to put it off for awhile and Chris kept appeasing me but he finally had had enough and we went and got the haircut. The timing was wonky because I kept forgetting to make an appointment the day before so we did a walk-in when the store opened and of course there were several people in line already. The shop was inside an HEB grocery store so we walked around for a few minutes while we waited. And then it was lunchtime and toddler hunger was coming on…it was a little toddler-y for a few minutes but Chris found something for Forest to watch on his phone while the haircut happened. Now, the toddler looks like a big kid and my little baby is gone! I definitely get a sense of ‘Who is this KID?’ when he walks around the house. I told Chris the other day that I can already see a sprawling teenager on our couch. *tears*


    Outlander wrapped up earlier this month with a season finale that redeemed the back half of this season. It looks like they are going to start shooting season 3 soon so maybe that means we will not have to wait until next August for a new season. In the meantime I started watching Stranger Things on Netflix after seeing many people raving about it. It’s an early 80s sci-fi flick, very reminiscent of many of the shows some of us GenX and early Millennials watched as kids. Also, it has Winona Ryder which probably helps with that aesthetic. I haven’t binged it like I typically do with Netflix shows, instead I’m watching an episode here or there.

    This week I’m poking my head into the DNC Convention. I’d initially resolved not to watch it but my inner political geek got excited about it and the lineup of speakers so I’m recording it and catching speeches I want to hear and then listening to the 9-10pm (CST) hour live. Woot!

    Movie-wise we had an HBO preview weekend a few weeks ago so I recorded a few movies I hadn’t seen and some older ones I wanted to rewatch. First up was Trainwreck with Amy Schumer. I’ve tried watching her comedy show a few times and find myself in a love/hate relationship with her. The movie was pretty good, trying to be a new version of a rom-com…Bill Hader had me reminded of Colin Firth a few times in mannerisms. Next up was Far from the Madding Crowd, a Thomas Hardy novel-turned-movie. I loved it but wanted to slap the main character for being such an idiot and marrying the obviously wrong person. Also, I got some Jane Austen vibes in there and wondered if Hardy had George Wickham and Colonel Brandon on his mind while writing the book. I’m currently rewatching Juno which I originally watched in a theater one evening in Tucson in 2007 while there during a work trip. Rewatching it brings back some memories from that trip and how much I listened to the soundtrack afterwards back in Florida.

    +Outside My Window

    Rain! After nearly two months of very dry weather we’re finally getting rain back into the forecast.

    +In The Art Studio

    Nothing on the agenda but I’m thinking of plans for the upcoming months. So much to get back on track in there!

    +In The Garden

    Have you seen my garden posts lately? I’ve been going strong on those!

    In other garden news we’re battling a bulldozing/digging animal—probably armadillos again. Looks like Chris might be trying to trap and relocate them again.

    Also, beavers. The devoured our alligator flag (Thalia geniculata) which was looking fantastic, and then they gnawed up the sweetgums down on the shoreline. Chris has been working to put wire around the base of those trees. Grr!


    I’m trying to pick up on my reading once again but haven’t quite gotten there yet. I’m almost finished with Olive Kitteredge and am trying to stay interested in a garden memoir called Paths of Desire. Oh, I launched myself into a third or fourth re-read of Voyager, the third Outlander series novel. Couldn’t help myself after the tv season finale. Plans are for it to be a weekend reading book to carry out a slow read until next season. I’m also trying to go through a back-log of magazines.


    Nothing exciting. Coffee is some cheaper brews recently. I did find a decent Seattle’s Best blend, though.


    First, geeking out on some DNC convention highlights….

    • Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.” *heart*
    • Tim Kaine: I was a little miffed that Hillary didn’t chose Elizabeth Warren as her VP but now that I’ve learned more about Kaine and have heard him speak, I think he’s an excellent choice. He seems like such a goofball but highly effective politician and will fill Biden’s shoes well.
    • I’m looking forward to a great weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew this weekend! It will be good for Forest to play and hang out with his cousins!
    • Chris has been smoking a lot of meat on a smoker his mom bought for him and we have been eating the delicious rewards! He’s been working out the kinks in keeping the heat just right but I think he’ll get the hang of it soon!
    • Root Simple: Episode 90 Garden Myths podcast episode. Very worthwhile listen for gardeners.
    • Delicious Revolution podcast.

    What’s going on with you?





    We’ve reached that point in the season where not much is being productive in the vegetable garden but the peppers and cucumbers, and even the cucumbers are worn out and fading. Most plants out there are just putting on growth and holding on for slightly cooler temperatures to start producing flowers for reproduction.

    These are sweet potato squash that I’m excited to try out when we get fruit. I planted them in the hugelkultur perimeter beds.

    Like I said, the cucumbers are barely hanging on. Several vines have up and died but a couple are still trying to grow and put on flowers. I started new seeds and will try for another round of fruit this fall. I’ve mostly been pickling the cucumbers for the fridge but if we get another round of fruit I’ll can them for storage this time around.

    The rows of dragon tongue beans are doing well but haven’t started flowering or producing fruit. Because the garden was overtaken by weeds earlier this summer I wasn’t able to get beans in as early as we should have. I tried climbing beans along the perimeter fenceline so the fence could act as a trellis but the deer thought that was a great treat! Now I’m retrying the climbing beans on the inside beds using tomato cages as a trellis.




    The three pepper plants we have are all still producing well. Sometimes I see them wilt in the mid-day sun but they perk up once a little shade comes back into the garden. Three pepper plants have been more than enough for us!



    The melon beds are finally taking off and at least one vine had decided to set fruit. I believe this is the Bidwell Casaba melon.


    A volunteer tomatillo. I meant to get a second tomatillo plant last weekend when we were at a nursery so that I could actually get fruit but forgot. So I’ve got a great plant and no fruit for now!

    Basil seedlings!

    ‘Fairy Tale’ eggplant is putting on more flowers. I’ve gotten one tiny fruit off of this plant so far. I like the cute fruits!

    The tomato plants are all hanging on and I started more seeds in hopes of getting fall tomatoes sometime in October or early November. I really like to have canned tomatoes back in the house!

    I have a feeling things will start ramping up again towards the end of August and maybe if we can get some rain around here the garden will be a little bit happier!


    It is pretty common for random plants, including weeds of course, to sprout in our compost. Tomatoes, melons, potatoes, we’ve seen all sorts of things sprouting. This year a gourd sprouted in the right compost bin, the side that we’re currently not resupplying and are using in the garden when we need compost.


    The vine grew up and over the side of the compost bin before we knew it and since we weren’t actively adding to that side we opted to let the gourd continue growing. I’ve had to maneuver it off of the water hose multiple times, redirecting it to head for the fence and vegetation on the neighbors side multiple times. The vine grew and grew, well over 10′ up the pine tree and ambling over the yaupon and other shrubs.


    When it finally flowered the I realized it was going to be a gourd of some kind but we weren’t quite sure what. When fruits started to form Chris thought perhaps it was going to be a birdhouse gourd, but the fruits seemed to stay small or end up not being pollinated so they fell off.


    And then one day Chris found this. It had been hiding on the back side of the pine tree and the vine grew too heavy to stay up and it fell to hang lower! Chris recognized it as a gourd we had on our porch last autumn for decorations and I was able to figure out that it was a gooseneck gourd. Chris cut it off the vine the other day because it was really wearing on the vine and we’d like to get a few more gourds off the vine before it dies back in a few months. It looks like we can dry the gourds and use them as we would other gourds so I’ll just set it aside and see how it does in a few months. One of our birdhouse gourds from the community garden four/five years ago just broke in half after hanging up in our fig tree for several years so it will be good to replace that.









    I’ve been missing the gym this summer, the working out. My body feels it too. But while I’ve forgone building muscle and cardio I have really enjoyed my lunch hours in the garden. It’s a workout, in a way. Mostly it is a method of losing water weight via sweat because sometimes I am not even moving much but still find myself dripping by the time my lunch break is over and I need to clean up to head back to work. A lot of times I’ve planned for it, going whole-hog into a good 30-40 minutes of gardening, getting dirty, with the plan on jumping in the shower to rinse off, and eating lunch at my desk when I return to work. Other times I eat lunch at home, do a few light chores, and then putter in the yard after. Pull a weed here or look and see what needs to be done next, garden planning.

    All of that neglected workout time has meant good gardening time and the gardens are the better for it. I had a good chunk this summer, about five weeks, where Forest was a good toddler and went to bed decently which in turn gave me about an hour afterward to garden, too. Now the evening light is shrinking as we head towards autumn and Forest is now back into a phase of being difficult to get to sleep at night. My evening gardening was out the window this last week. So, I take what I can get, when I can get it.

    I hesitate to look with a gleam in my eye to cooler weather. I’m looking forward to not sweating so much, for Forest to play outside on weekends instead of being cooped up inside like it’s winter because the heat and humidity is unbearable. However, I’m not ready to ungrasp my hold on summer yet. I’ll lose those valuable evening minutes outside—of course I can get studio and reading time then—and there’s still something magical about summer even as an adult.

    Noticing the subtle changes of the season has me knowing what’s around the bend, getting that glimpse of what will be blooming soon. It will be time for goldenrods and beautyberries before we know it. Hiking season. Camping season. Gardening will still be there, of course, but the incessent growth will slow and another round of edibles will be sown and the flower garden, sometime around January, will go dormant for a few weeks or months—depends on how mild of a winter we get this year.

    Until then I’m trying to embrace the overbearing heat, the lack of rain, and the profusion of weeds. And figure out a way to start working out again.


    Several years ago when I got on Twitter there was a chat called #seedchat that I would pop onto most Wednesdays. That chat is now dormant but I ended up ‘meeting’ a lot of great gardeners through that chat. One of those was BMT 108. I’m keeping her real name on the downlow because of her husband’s occupation and she likes to keep it sorta anonymous online, as much as one can get these days. Remember when everyone used to only go by handles? Those were the days!


    Anyway, she lives about thirty minutes from me so it was nice to have a local person to talk to about gardening or whatever is going on around here. We finally got the chance to meet in person by visiting a local plant nursery last weekend. She seems to have turned her yard into a monarch nursery (or the monarch’s have chosen her!) and was overloaded and offered to bring some caterpillars to share and re-home at our house.


    We toted the monarchs around to a few other errands after we met up at the nursery and I was finally able to release them in the late afternoon.


    The caterpillars were in various instar stages, from fat and plump to teeny and new.





    See that teeny little caterpillar?



    I’ve been trying to keep an eye on them since I released them but I’ve only found one or two and I’m not even sure if they are the re-homed ones or not. My friend has been keeping hers in a tent inside with milkweed plants inside the tent due to heavy predation by wasps. I’m a little concerned we might have that going on too, but am hesitant to want to deal with the rigmarole of babying caterpillars. We’ll see. I hope that the monarchs decide to continually use our house as a waystation for reproduction!

    About a week ago I was finally able to say I was ‘done’ weeding the paths in the vegetable garden, except for a tough spot of Bermuda grass near the gate entrance. I had Chris get mulch one morning and I was able to mulch most of the paths. I didn’t have quite enough to cover all of the area but I got the worst places.

    I opted to experiment with sheet mulching in the worst section, the Bermuda grass section, that extends from the gate down one of the rows. Bermuda grass is an incredibly stubborn plant to get rid of and I’m hoping this will tame that area just a bit.

    The tough area of Bermuda grass. I may water it one day to make it easier to pull. Now that we’ve gone from flood to drought everything is turning to rock making it difficult to pull weeds.

    I didn’t have quite enough saved for lining the whole section but it was enough of the worst part to see if it will make a difference. I’m hoping that this project will be success enough to line other areas of the path the next time we need to mulch. Chris wasn’t convinced it would make huge difference so we compromised and tried the smaller area. Who knows?!

    Now I just need to get back out and keep on top of the watering. The mid-day heat is stifling the plants that the sprinkler watering isn’t enough right now. Time to hand water!


    Happy Sunday!

    ‘Monarch Promise’ variegated milkweed. I need this!
    Baltimore Jack’s obituary from the Applachian Trail Conservancy.
    No more war in the garden from You Grow Girl.
    The Quiet Extinction: Stories of North America’s Rare and Threatened Plants a book about the loss of plant species on this continent. While some plants may have federal or state protection they don’t come with the same tight regulations that protected animals do unless they are located on a public property. Protected plants located on private lands are generally eradicated without consequence or knowledge (because most people are unable to identify plants for one), thus we have a problem with the loss of many of these species, particularly in states where there is little public lands. Plus, plants don’t usually get the warm fuzzies that animals do unless they are a superstar species—ie: the showy plants. Looks like an interesting book to read; I’m putting it on my to-read list.
    My Quest for Milkweeds from the Florida Native Plant Society.
    Plenty of Choices from Root Simple about how many options there are for bottle water. I’ve been better in the last few years about trying to remember to take a refillable bottle from home when I leave the house on the weekend. Irks me when I need something to drink and have to buy a bottle of water.

    Podcast Listens:
    Ocean Allison: Episode 20 about the blue-green algae blooms that are plaguing the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and estuaries on both coasts. Lots of interesting things packed in that episode, including a mention of my former employer, Florida’s failure to ever get anything done with Everglades restoration….I could go on. Not a listen, but here’s a blog post from Treasure Coast Natives about the same issue.
    Chase Jarvis’ Creative Live Podcasts: Seth Godin and Marie Forleo
    Zen ParentingPodcast: Privilege and Compassion
    Original Transplants Podcast from the couple who run Satoyama Homestead. I found this while digging pretty deep into iTunes and I love it! Reminds me of the Chicken Thistle Coopcast.
    Homegrown Liberty Podcast: It’s a little more on the permaculture/prepper type setup but I like the host and he’s based in the south which I also like.

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