Archive for August, 2020

Cat Reality

Sometimes (most times) I find the reality of life around me to be a bit stressful. Hurricanes. Fires. Politics. Protests. Covid19. Unemployment. Weeds. No-see-ums. Micro and Macro events can create a sense of “It’s so big and I’m so small”. At those moments I look to the experts for guidance on relaxation. I’m told that sitting in a box is very calming. The red couch is yet another place of serenity and peace. The red couch is usually occupied but perhaps I can find a sufficiently large box.

Almost as Good as a Butterfly

I am still lacking many butterfly sightings. I saw the monarch butterfly one more time a week or two ago. Last night I saw the blue swallowtail as I watered the plants. Other than that, mostly moths. 😦 All my butterfly-friendly plants, and so few butterflies. Yesterday I was gazing out the front door and saw movement in the hyssop. It was a goldfinch. Can you see it there, all the way on the right? Not a butterfly, not a hummingbird, but still a joy to behold. 🙂

Wrong Analogy

The mushrooms were NOT part of The Force. My mistake. We know that ultimately the good side of The Force triumphs over the Dark Side. Sometimes you can’t tell until the end of the story who is really a hero or not. Evidence: Darth Vader. My next-door neighbor and her weeder are the ones in Red 5 and the mushrooms were the Death Star. 🙂 No more Death Stars.

Obi Wan KenMushroom

Or:

When You Run the Lawn Mower Over Mushrooms

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful plentiful than you can possibly imagine.”

My Senses Say It’s September

For about 2 weeks now, however, my ears have been telling me it is mid- to late September. The cicadas are extremely loud and out there every evening. My nose is smelling that cooler slightly moist air that means fall. The air is heavy and still. At night the temperatures are dropping into the low 70s, and once or twice into the high 60s. That is NOT August weather. The sun feels warm on my skin, not searingly hot.

According to the calendar, it is only mid-August. That means it is summer. I’m sure mid-August used to FEEL like summer. Hazy, hot, humid. Time for our week’s vacation down the shore.  By now the water will be warm which means more likelihood of jellyfish. (Except THIS year, in keeping with everything else 2020, the water has sea lice. I would rather have jellyfish.)

The light says “autumn”

It sounds and feels like mid-September. It is only the dratted no-see-ums that remind me it is still summer.

TWO gardenias at once!!

La La La La La

tall canna lily front garden

Isn’t that what you say when you cover your ears so you can’t hear what someone is saying to you? La la la la la la la. I do NOT have the energy today to deal with macro issues: return to school? presidential election? senatorial elections? college football? eating out? La la la la la la.

1st mushroom sighting

The first sighting of the mushrooms. They look harmless, don’t they?

Unfortunately for me, my little micro concerns were also difficult this week. Sigh. So no cat pictures today – still a little bit too sad about GC for that. Which leaves me only the garden and yard for an escape. Oh – and food. There is always food, right?

crustless quiche

crustless vegetable quiche

Let’s do food first. My husband has been cooking. His new obsession is making pot stickers from scratch. I can assure that yes, you CAN get bored with eating pot stickers. The last two times he suggested it I vetoed the idea. That got me homemade pasta with sauce (oh yum yum yum) and a delicious flatbread pizza. I also got a crustless quiche. You can tell from the photo that he LOVES cooking tomatoes. I’m not as fond of cooked tomatoes as he is but at the moment they are still preferred over yet more pot stickers. The night he made the pasta he made a tandori sauce to go on it. Out of this world delicious. Remember Snuffles, the treat loving dog from Quick Draw McGraw? That describes the 4 of us having dinner. My brother-in-law is usually the bread baker, as I’ve told you. His breads are beyond compare. He was busy all day, however, so baking the challah fell to me. It was good, but it convinced me to get myself a bread thermometer. I worried about it being under-baked so I gave it more time than I thought it probably needed. I’d rather have it that way, even though over-baking means leftovers dry out faster.

Ahuva's challah

That is a 5-strand braided challah. Haven’t done one in years and so my strands were not as evenly thick at the end of the braiding.

The local news reported today that July was the hottest month on record for New Jersey. As everyone commented – tell us something we DIDN’T know. When I was a young lass, maybe all the way up to my 30s, NJ summers were my favorite weather. Hazy hot & humid did not faze me. Now that I am older, I have more empathy for those who complain about NJ summers. The humidity wipes me out. I learned in Arizona that temperatures above 100 are probably more heat than I enjoy, but I can go up into the 90s and have no problem if it is dry. I finally understand the phrase “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Yes, it’s the humidity. And the dratted no-see-ums that are eating me alive every time I water the plants. My legs are covered with scratched bites and scabs. My legs look like the legs of a grade schooler (if there were still such a thing as grade school – oh wait – do NOT go there). My wonderful husband heard me moaning every night after watering the plants and bought me mosquito netting pants!!!! They do work! The problem, I think, for me is that I sweat so heavily from the humidity, that it is still attracting them through the pants. The number of bites is greatly reduced but I still got bitten the other night. I think I’ll try spraying the pants with insect repellent and see if that makes any difference. I could try to get up early when there are fewer bugs about but mostly I get up that early to make sandwiches.

mosquito netting pants

You may laugh but everyone who has seen them or heard me talk about them has asked where they can get them (search on mosquito netting pants)

I came home from making sandwiches yesterday and went to pull into my driveway. And I stopped. There was a man from the utility company walking out of my driveway and 5 orange cones IN my driveway. I rolled down my window and looked at him, and asked “What are you doing?” He explained that he had cleared it with the man in the house (*grin* I said – my husband, he said – I didn’t want to presume, I said – wise approach these days). The apron of the driveway was damaged when we got the new gas and electric to the house back in February or whenever it was. They are finally getting around to repairing it. He said we couldn’t drive on it for 3 or 4 days. That means no convertible – it is in the garage. Too bad, because the temperatures are only supposed to be in the 80s for the rest of this week. Of course, the humidity is also supposed to be in the 80s. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
driveway before and after

Last year I mentioned that I should plant lots and lots of canna lilies because the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I have only seen 2 butterflies this year so far. I showed you the monarch butterfly on the butterfly weed. There has also been a black swallowtail I’ve seen periodically. The swallowtail seems to check out everything but the things I planted specifically to make butterflies happy. It seems to really like the echinacea. I saw it today checking out the herbs, tomatoes and superbells, but it flitted away before landing anywhere. Camera-shy I guess.

black swallowtail butterfly on echinacea

Black swallowtail butterfly

I planted 2 gardenias this year – one in a hanging pot and one in a pot along the front walk. I believe that the one in the hanging pot was burned out by the hot weather, after managing to produce 2 flowers in the late spring. The one along the walk has produced one full bloom. It does smell heavenly.

gardenia

Gardenia

Not only has it been humid, we’ve gotten a lot of rain. The fun part is when it rains in the evening so I don’t have to brave the no-see-ums and can skip watering the plants. Apparently it has been even wetter than I realized. This week my neighbor’s lawn has sprouted mushrooms. Every day they have gotten larger and larger. There must be a good story to write there but at the moment I only have the illustrations. 🙂 If they get much larger they are going to cross the line from impressive to creepy.

mushrooms day 2

okay, a little wider, but still not too creepy

Then of course there are the canna lilies. The “rescued” cannas have been thriving in the pots along the walk. FINALLY one of the ones I planted has begun to bloom. I get very impatient in the spring. Even knowing things will grow, I don’t want a lot of empty space that needs weeding and looks neglected. I cram way too many plants into one area. I have this gorgeous stupendously tall canna right smack in the middle of the lawn garden. Beautiful. BUT – crammed in that spot are 2 Rose Mallows, perennials that are in the hibiscus family. One of them was doing quite well before the canna began shooting up. The other is nestled under a canna leaf. When I can brave the biting-bug-filled lawn to go there, I rearrange it to be in front of the leaf. But somehow it always resets to under and behind. I hope it is sufficiently rooted to survive.

Mushrooms day 3

There are actually 5 of these things in the yard. These 2 are about 6 inches across at a minimum.

I like so many flowers, and I’ve now got so many perennials. I want MORE rudbeckia laciniata hortensia, but I’m not sure where I can put them. I will have to pull out the firecrackers or chop down the variegated grass. Or pull out the rudbeckia laciniata (single bloom rudbeckia). That might work, except I also have the goose neck flowers there and I added the swamp milkweed as well. Sigh. Maybe I should put a border garden along the walk? That gets lots of sun.

rudbeckia after the rain

Rudbeckia laciniata hortensia after the rain. do you see the HUGE mushrooms?

Whatever it is that snuck into my planters now has flowers. I can’t wait to see what I’m growing. I thought that purple-edged leaf vine was a sweet pea vine – that’s what I was calling it in my head. But it’s not, according to my search. According to my search I have no idea what it is, other than beautiful. I also have no idea what to tell the lad who cuts my grass. I’m tired of moving pots and putting them back. I think I’ll tell him to just ignore the grass under the vines. *laughing* There isn’t really any grass, is there? My lawn is really nothing but weeds. 🙂
vines in the grass

tall canna lily and rose mallow

Rose mallow, canna lilies and dahlias

Sleep Well, Beloved GC

Siri 1

GC passed over the rainbow bridge last night. We knew it was going to be any day now. We’ve been cherishing her, and trying to give her last treats and indulgences. This weekend we had been giving her cream, and a little bit of cheese, and any cat food she wanted, and greenies.

baby kittens all together

Baby kittens in their new home

She did not seem to be in any pain. She has been growing weaker and less steady for weeks, months. No matter how much we fed her she was growing thinner. She was a happy girl, though, and stuck to the regular schedule. She got her cuddles, her skritches. She came to check out visitors. She and WC were born in August 2002 and came to our home in October 2002. Someone had dumped them in a dumpster next to a pet grooming business. We brought them and their little rescue mate brother (from a litter dumped 2 weeks after theirs) home together. We had only planned on 2 kittens, but there was no way we would leave any of them behind. We were determined that being dumped in a dumpster would be the last indignity and cruelty they would ever suffer.

baby gc exploring the new world

baby gc exploring the new world

We brought them home to our 6-month old puppy who ADORED them. She promptly adopted them and took care of them. Her favorite thing was to lick their ears for them – we called that a Mu-do, a shortening of the dog’s name. While the others seemed to take getting a Mu-do in good humor, GC merely endured it. 🙂

gc Oct 2002 after what might have been her first Mu-do

gc Oct 2002 after what might have been her first Mu-do

From the time she was a little kitten, we were fairly certain that GC was going to be a couch potato. She loved to eat and sleep and sit around watching everyone else work. Everyone needs a manager, and GC figured she’d be perfect for the role. She had a special affection for our son – he was “her boy”. I used to tell her when “her boy” was coming home so she could have the fun of anticipation.

baby wc and gc oct 2002

sisters learning the world can be good

She was so plump and cuddly. Do any of you remember Gund stuffed animals? They are/were the softest plushiest cuddliest stuffed animals. GC was what Gunds would be if they came alive. She was beautiful, so beautiful. She looked like she could have had Russian Blue blood in her, her coat was that color. Her paw pads – I always called them a dusty rose color. They weren’t pink – they were much more subtle and interesting than just pink.

GC and LB 2005

GC and her little brother, who was quite a bit larger

Oh my G kitty – we will miss you so very very much. May you be where you can have all the treats you want and a warm comfy place to nap.

Beloved GC

Beloved GC

double-decker sisters

double-decker sisters

Didn't happen often but they DID get along

Sharing a seat didn’t happen often but they DID get along

GC and her little brother on the steps 2005

WC is/was, oddly enough, much braver than her siblings. They’d sit on the stairs during parties while she would venture into the room once the crowd thinned out

sisters 2005

Before we had the fireplace, warm radiators were the place to be

gc and wc snuggling 2005

snuggling sisters

3 cats on a couch

proof that there were times when we were one big happy family, no sibling issues

You Were Warned

Subtitled: You Had LOTS of Time to Prepare

IMG_3830

Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.

IMG_3829 (1)

One of my “rescued” canna lilies. LOOK at how gorgeous it is! and the orange spots on the yellow leaves!!!! Moral: ALWAYS rescue canna lilies

I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.

IMG_3863

SOME of us prepared. Tucked everything against walls, into corners, heavy side down

Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.

IMG_3866

Removed all the hanging sculptures, did tuck down those brooms after seeing this photo. tucked away potential flying missiles. PREPARED

My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.

IMG_3831

There is a butterfly in there!!!!

How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.

IMG_3835

Vindicated and satisfied! This monarch butterfly spent several minutes flitting from one butterfly weed flower to the next. There was a carpenter bee there as well.

I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! 🙂

IMG_3848

I love the clarity of this photo. 🙂


 


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