Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Poinsettias Sparking in the Early Sun

If you ever caught the old, I mean 50 year old, TV show called Green Acres, you have an
idea of my back yard.

Mind you I'm not creating a farm on a Park Avenue NYC penthouse with a ditzy blond, I am just doing my planting in my own backyard.

Unlike Oliver Douglas, my own container farm eventually does go into the ground.

All those pots do give me something wholesome to obsess over, and I have been planting things all my life.   The flowers are pleasant to look at, and once in a while I get something to eat out of them.

This particular pot has Poinsettias.   I actually got the plant from a backdoor of a shopping center as they were set by a dumpster so someone else could enjoy them after the holiday season.  This was at least nine years ago that I found them.  Periodically I would take cuttings and stick them in the soil.  They grow well in South Florida and make a showy display of red leaves in Early November for the holidays.

My godmother tells a story how she did something like that after the holidays were done and eventually got a Poinsettia growing into a shrub until some random pests got to it.

That pot also has ended up being a scaled down nursery because it has some of Betty's Vincas and some of the latest obsession, Propagating Bougainvillea.

The Bougainvillea inspection was what drew me to it.

And for the record, after four weeks, I have a couple of viable Bougainvillea plants that are in pots and in the ground already.  Go for it, if you have them, I'm getting better than 2 in 3 cuttings survive.

It was after sunrise but before the sun comes up over the tree line to hit the plants in the yard.  I noticed everything was dusted like it was a coating of sanding sugar on them.  The indirect light was reflecting and sparking at me more than I had expected. 

It made me come back out again about an hour later when the sun did hit them directly and the result was a rather fascinating show.   As you move around I was treated to a series of rainbows, sparkles, and other things that flash in the light. 

I guess it's those "other things" you need to watch out for in life!

A cross between some of those reflective coatings they use in road striping and that sanding sugared surface greeted me.  Luckily that display lasted just long enough to record it.

Once done, I realized that Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) was hovering to go back inside.

There's only so much you can do when you have a wet nose staring back at you to move along.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Where did the mango go? I don't know, the mango goes where the mangoes

Mmm Mangoes!  As I looked over my shoulder and out back and looked at the tree that I 'hacked back' three weeks ago.

It did help.  Now it's growing crazy.  Hopefully that will translate into more fruit, that's a really sweet tree!




A young man decides to move out of the country. He has a problem though, because his cat is left with no one to care for it, and his mother, old and frail, cannot even take care of herself.

He decides to leave it in the hands of his neighbor, an old woman. He thanks her for taking responsibility and leaves.

One week later he calls.

“Hi, how are you doing?” He asks.
“Fine thank you.” She responds.

“How’s the cat?”
“Oh, he fell off the roof and died.” She deadpans.

The man is extremely irritated, and says “Just like that? After I groomed him, fed him, and took care of him for 6 years? Now I call you and you tell me just like that?” She shrugs.

“At least make it slower, one day tell me he is on the roof, the next day tell me he fell off, the next day tell me his is injured, and the day after that that he is dead. Pacing woman!”

Sighing deeply, he asks slowly “how is my mother?”
“On the roof, she responds.”

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The road to inner peace begins with three words: NOT MY PROBLEM.

A young cowboy from Montana goes off to college.

Half way through the semester, having foolishly squandered all his money .... he calls home.

"Dad," he says, "You won't believe what modern education is developing! They actually have a program here in University that will teach our dog, Ole' Blue how to talk!"
"That's amazing," his Dad says. "How do I get Ole' Blue in that program?"

"Just send him down here with $1,000" the young cowboy says "and I'll get him in the course."
So, his father sends the dog and $1,000.

About two-thirds of the way through the semester, the money again runs out. The boy calls home.

"So how's Ole' Blue doing son?" his father asks.
"Awesome, Dad, he's talking up a storm," he says, "but you just won't believe this -- they've had such good results they have started to teach the animals how to read!"
"Read!?" says his father, "No kidding! How do we get Blue in that program?"

"Just send $2,500, I'll get him in the class." The money promptly arrives. But the young lad has a problem. At the end of the year, his father will find out the dog can neither talk, nor read.

So he shoots the dog.

When he arrives home at the end of the year, his father is all excited.
"Where's Ole' Blue? I just can't wait to see him read something and talk!"
"Dad," the boy says, "I have some grim news. Yesterday morning, just before we left to drive home, Ole' Blue was in the living room, kicked back in the recliner, reading the Wall Street Journal, like he usually does".

"Then Ole' Blue turned to me and asked, so, is your daddy still messing around with that little redhead who lives down the street?"
The father went white and exclaimed, "I hope you shot that lying son of a bitch before he talks to your Mother!"
"That's my boy!"

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wilton Manors At Sunrise

I have to admit, I really do like walking through this town before sunrise.

The time is quiet.  I-95 is only barely audible.  The trains aren't necessarily here and if they are here, I can pretend they aren't.

When I am not talking to Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), on a day like this with almost no breezes, all I am hearing are our footsteps and the ringing in my ears.

Thanks, Mom, all that aspirin you fed me left me a present.

I get to stargaze, and while I am looking up at the skies, sometimes I get to indulge myself.  This morning, since I am still trying to adjust to the time change to standard time, I lay in bed an extra half hour or so.  When I do finally get out there, the skies were no longer completely dark.  More of a purple.

Stepping outside, I let Rack walk to the front of the property so he could water His Rock.  I almost always look up and noticed that there were enough clouds out there to make things interesting.  Not quite yet, but later.

Rounding the block, Rack told me that he wanted a Short Walk by herding me one way.  A mere four tenths of a mile today.  Even though I have to break him of that habit, I could use the time to do other things.

We went down a residential street that had a good view of the skies toward the beach.

That is a good view once I stopped looking at what Rack was sniffing at.  I never did figure that out. 

The skies were getting brighter and the sun was rising above the Bahamas at this point.  They really aren't that far away from me.  When that happens, we get the undersides of our clouds lit up by the distant orange rays that are just beginning to peak up over the horizon.

Or so I tell myself.

Walking around the block I hear the neighbor ask "What-cha lookin' at?"
"It's a really pretty sunrise.  I'll have to try to get a good picture of it!"

I may have ringing in my ears, but I have a very stable hand when it comes to photography.

"Good luck to you!  I have pools to take care of!"  As he went off looking for his pool scoop for the back of his pickup truck.

I walked down the block with my neck craned over my shoulder saying to nobody in particular "Yep!  I'm going to get that picture".

I got a wag out of Rack for that.  He does that often.  Good, I have an excuse for talking and I'm not really talking to myself.

With light breezes and a pleasant temperature, this is why people live here.

It's also why the Snowbirds come down here and drive stupidly on my roads.  Since it is currently snowing in the big cities up North like Philadelphia and will be in Boston, I'm thinking that the airplanes will be all full up very shortly.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

What happened to the frogs car? It got toad!


A young man decides to move out of the country. He has a problem though, because his cat is left with no one to care for it, and his mother, old and frail, cannot even take care of herself. He decides to leave it in the hands of his neighbor, an old woman. He thanks her for taking responsibility and leaves.

One week later he calls.

“Hi, how are you doing?” He asks.
“Fine thank you.” She responds.

“How’s the cat?”
“Oh, he fell off the roof and died.” She deadpans.

The man is extremely irritated, and says “Just like that? After I groomed him, fed him, and took care of him for 6 years? Now I call you and you tell me just like that?”
 
She shrugs.

“At least make it slower, one day tell me he is on the roof, the next day tell me he fell off, the next day tell me his is injured, and the day after that that he is dead. Pacing woman!”

Sighing deeply, he asks slowly “how is my mother?”
“On the roof, she responds.”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

How do you turn a stew into gold? Add 24 carrots.

Funny thing about weekend mornings.  Sometimes I have projects to do and sometimes I end up cooking.  Some of the recipes end up here on the blog because I like to share.

Today, I've got to get up and make some dog food.  I don't think my dog shares.

On the other hand people have been sharing one-liners with me, and I have so many in my jokes file that I will share them with you.

I guarantee they taste better than dog food!



  • We'll we'll we'll...  If it isn't autocorrect!
  • Well well well...  If it isn't my 3 favorite places to get water!
  • What's so bad about stalking?  How else do we get corn?
  • Two goldfish are in a tank and one says to the other: “How do you drive this thing?”
  • Why can’t a T-Rex clap?  Because they’re dead.
  • Two bodybuilders walk into a bar.  "Ouch," says the bar.
  • I use Occam's razor to shave with.  It's really the simplest solution.
  • My landscape gardener says he can’t help me.  It seems my garden is in portrait.
  • My friend thought that an onion is the only food that can make you cry... So I threw a coconut at his head
  • It's easy being a humorist when you've got the whole government working for you.
  • What’s the bets part about time travel?  No overdue library books.
  • Did you hear about the fly that entered a cow's ear and ended up in the milk pail the next morning?  It went into one ear and out the udder.
  • What do you call a problematic person with a gun?  A troubleshooter.
  • What's the most expensive hotel in the world?  An American hospital.
  • Teaching babies to walk is hard but you just gotta take in one step at a time.




And one bonus longer one

A 90 year old farmer goes to the banker for a loan to buy land.

The banker has some concerns due to the old codgers age.
"What happens if you die before the loan is paid off?" The banker asks.
"I'll send you a check from heavan, because God would want all my obligations taken care of," The old farmer answered.
"But what if you go the other direction?" the banker queried.
"Then I'll deliver it to you in person."

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Butterfly At The Pool

The thing about gardening is that you have a lot of visitors. 

Through the years, I've been visited by various reptiles, more lizards than I can count, insects, and other neighbors.

Both two and four legged.

This morning, going out to inspect my nursery pots and see how my bougainvillea cuttings are doing, I noticed that there were literally dozens of monarch butterfly caterpillars happily eating my milkweed down to pegs. 

As a gardener it is at once frustrating and pleasurable.  I would love some seeds from those milkweeds, but courtesy of a neighbor and friend here, I have a cage that I could put the plants inside so they would go to seed.

As one who enjoys nature, that is why I plant the milkweed.  It's there so the butterflies come to my yard.   It is a rare day that I don't see a number of those Monarchs on the wing, floating around, coming to a landing somewhere.

To paraphrase:  If I build it, they will come.

Home (plate) I guess is in my backyard.

I don't wander around aimlessly back there, there's a purpose.  Usually I'm being herded back to the back door by my boy Rack the McNab SuperDog(TM) after only a few minutes, so standing at the back door and taking one last look means I am trying to think if there is anything that needs to be cared for.

I let him back inside because I realized I needed to deal with a visitor.   This Butterfly was perched, resting, on my sad little Hibiscus that so often is ravaged by Iguanas. 

Yes, we have herds of those beasts running around.  The Iguanas turn the neighborhood into something reminiscent of Jurassic Park, and usually result in my thinking "I hope there will be a solid cold snap this winter".

Their muscles can't function below 45F, and if it gets into the 30s it will kill them.

Good.

But this Butterfly seemed to be enjoying the rest and watching me go about my own stupidity. 

Good.   They're welcome here.    One of at least five different daily visitor species here. 

If you're seeing Butterflies in the yard and want more, the next step is to leave a little fruit out there for them to find.  The Fairchild Gardens in South Miami does exactly that in their butterfly house.  A little banana or orange goes a long way to help these beautiful creatures survive.

As for the Iguanas?  I hear they're good in a Curry Sauce.  Chicken of the Trees!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Did you set your clocks back?

It's that time again.  Here in Los Estados Unidos, we are setting our clocks back an hour in
an effort to "save" daylight.

I am not fond of it.  

Neither is my dog, Rack.

Personally I don't care if it is 5AM when I get up, or 6AM.  I get up when I get up.

Here in Florida, they were going to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.  It was one of those non partisan things that the people in Tallahassee could decide on.  But with the gridlock that they have had in Washington since the Clinton Administration, nothing has happened about it.  It needs to be passed by the Federal Government apparently.

I think they're preoccupied with getting some other trash taken out right now.

Regardless, I get up about the same time every day, gather myself and the dog up, and go for a mile walk before sunrise and will continue to do so.

See, there's a lot of oddballs out there at that hour, along with the "early" dog walkers. 

I have a nice conversation with the dog.  He does talk back, or at least responds with a hearty tail wag.  I have a Dog Directed wander around my block, or my neighborhood.  Do a little window shopping, and then come home for dog food, coffee, and breakfast.

I will say if they could Set It And Forget It, that would be great.   Make up your mind and set things right.

Won't matter though.  Rack will be hungry at 5pm, er make that 4pm.  I'll have to feed him when his time comes, regardless.

It's like snipping an inch off a belt and attaching it to the other end and thinking you've saved something.

It also means that I have thirty clocks in this little 1200 sq foot (110 sq meter) house to set. 

I'm not obsessively buying clocks, I simply don't throw something out when it works. It takes decades for a clock to break and time pieces are a great "Guy Gift".

I have one sitting on top of a shelf in my bathroom that was a give away back around 1984.  Chaz it says on the face.  Chaz was a brand of cologne that was mass marketed as a push to sell women's cologne to men in the US.  It didn't last all that long.

Reminds me, hey you get off my lawn, it's too early for that!

Way too many clocks in this house.  Now I need to set some clocks, if you'll excuse me...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Bread is like the sun... It rises in the yeast and sets in the waist.

Speaking of bread, you can rise dough in a couple hours.  Make the dough in the morning, have pizza for lunch or make rolls.  Enjoy. 


Lately I keep reading about a Long Rise Fermentation in the refrigerator for more complex flavor.


Since bread is kind of an obsession here, I'll let you know how that all goes.


On the other hand, all that has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than the topic.  Here's a story on a completely different subject.




There was once an island kingdom whose people were all fabulously wealthy.

Even though they could have afforded to live anywhere they wanted, tradition dictated they stay on their tiny island home.

Eventually, their king became frustrated and called a meeting of the tribe's elders.

He said he wanted them to figure out a way he could enjoy his wealth, and stay within traditional guidelines.

After much consideration, the elders suggested he build a magnificent throne.

When he objected there was not enough room in his hut for a throne, the elders suggested he call in an engineer to solve the problem.

Soon, the king's tiny hut was rigged with an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys.

He could lower the huge throne for use during the day, and at night, he could haul the throne up, and lower his bed.

This was truly the best of both worlds for the king.

Unfortunately, after a few months of constant use, the ropes frayed, and one night, the throne slipped and came crashing down on the king, killing him.

The wise men of the island recognized a lesson in this experience and added to the lore of their people this statement: "People who live in grass houses should not stow thrones."

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lowering the Mango Tree

Some of us can't get near the fruit, or they hate it.

I'm over the moon with it. I can't really get enough mangoes.

I even have a tree in the backyard.  Therein lies the problem.  You see, Mango Trees can get insanely big.  In South Florida they can get to 40 or 50 feet tall.

Lets call that 17 meters for the imperially impaired.

There is one that big just a short walk from my front door.

So unless you want fruit that is upwards of two pounds or a Kilo falling from 50 feet onto your head, or breaking glass in your car, you want to lower the things.

I've been telling people this for years.  Don't let it grow up, make it grow out.

Yes, I am turning my mango into a bonsai.  Not one of those little trees in a pot, but a tree that could be huge is going to be cut back to about six feet.

It's a manageable height for these things.

I know it is something that works because I did a test cut a month back and I am trying hard not to allow myself to finish the job.

I had gone out there and found that my tree was almost 20 feet tall and growing out of control.   About the time I took cuttings from the Bougainvillea, I walked to the Mango with saw in hand and lowered the tree on one side by about a person in height.  It also got narrowed to about 10 feet.

How do I know it worked?  Simply because the plant told me. 

I didn't do a simple beheading of the tree, I cut back long arms to the core.

One month later, everywhere I cut, the tree put out lots of little branches like fingers.   I stopped where I did with the tree because I was afraid it would pout and not put out more fruit for next year.  Since flowering and fruiting happens in spring here, I have to wait.

My Theory is that I can gently reduce the height in stages and not shock the plant.

At least it's not a skyscraper any longer.

Motto of this exercise is that if you have a truly tall tree that is getting out of control, take a measured approach and trim it back.  But do so gently, after all you do still want the tree.

I will say mine is vigorously putting out new growth and should be in perfect form for blooming in early spring.