A Walk Through The Garden

My routine is stable.  You might even describe it as calcified.

Up early, even if “early” can be as late as sunrise.

That late is rather rare.

At any rate, haul my bulk out of bed, get the dog up, get him out to water the garden, and the walk.

When I get back, there’s Dawdle Time.  Depending on how much time there is I can get a lot done in Dawdle Time.   I’ve said I get more done before sunrise than many people do some days.

But Sunrise varies, and I have to be outside at 7:30 AM every day, unless it is raining.

All of these plants do require care.  Sometimes they require care by others, and I can find homes for the extras, other times, I end up watching for where the water is being irrigated and putting out new plants.

South Florida has a wet and hot tropical climate.  It never freezes here, the USDA freeze line for Coastal Eastern South Florida is 8 miles North of me.  Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton.  Ok, sure that’s a bit silly to be that specific, we know there is little difference whether something is actually “freezing” or thawed at 1/2 degree warmer, but hey, it’s a talking point.  Even if the line could be well north of that on any given year.

But the other thing about this climate is that we get 50 inches of rain per year.  Give or take, Depending on whether a tropical storm deposits itself overhead.  But on average it’s 50 inches or about 125 cm.

Since that is 40 inches or 100 cm in the wet season, and the rest in the other six months of the dry season (December to May),  it’s been described as a part time desert.  It requires irrigation.  Twice a week for certain hours sprinklers may be used, or every day if you have drip feed irrigation.

If you don’t, your flowers die.  This is a very artificial look here that we have.  Those Hibiscus hedges and Palm trees are not native.  The soil is Beach Sand, and now the ground water is suffering from Salt Intrusion because too many people from other places don’t want to freeze in the winter and have settled here.

Like me, guilty.

But for now, the Global Warming that isn’t supposed to exist, hasn’t really hit my specific area too hard.  I’m at High Ground – 15 feet above sea level the charts tell me.  Miami Beach on the other hand has regular floods due to tides.

 

Outside of the ash piles called “Mount Trashmore”, the next natural hill is 200 miles North of me.  Florida is flatter than Kansas.

I putter in the garden and am followed around as I decide what to prune, and what to propagate. Milkweed from cuttings have gravitated to being hidden in the hedges because when they are found, they get eaten to sticks.

Coleus is literally everywhere because they readily go to seed.  Cut the tops off and the seeds are tiny, get flung into pots.

Snapping a bit of Coleus off and tossing it into the garden means the stuff grows where it’s tossed.

There is a story told to me about a groundskeeper in San Jose, Costa Rica.  A wise man who said, “Señor, estamos en las tropicas.  Arrojar una semilla en el suelo y crecerá.”

Sir, we are in the tropics.  Throw a seed on the ground it will grow.

But puttering isn’t always interesting those who don’t have a putter.  You get followed around lost in your thoughts and the noises of the feral Parrots that are having their Call To Flock in that first hour after Sunrise.  The Pigeons call to you “Meh! Meh!” like grey feathered Simpsons characters.

And the Dog.  Rack.  Bored with what you’re doing, and having finished fertilizing the fence posts, tells me it is time to go inside.  Move onto the next task and into the house.  Besides, there’s breakfast to make, and you have already decided which trees to fell five times over.

Time to go in.

Advertisements

It is not that I’m nocturnal, it is that I live in the wrong timezone!

At Friday night services, Morris went to his friend Irving and said,

“I need a favor. I’m sleeping with the Rabbi’s wife. Can you hold him in the synagogue for an hour after services for me?”

Irving was not very fond of the idea, but being Morris’ lifelong friend, he reluctantly agreed.

After services, he struck up a conversation with the Rabbi, asking him all sorts of stupid questions – just to keep him occupied.

After some time the wise Rabbi beame suspicious and asked, “Irving what are you really up to?”

Irving, filled with feelings of guilt and remorse confessed to the Rabbi, “I’m sorry, Rabbi. My friend is sleeping with your wife right now, so he asked me to keep you occupied.”

The Rabbi smiled, put a brotherly hand on Irving’s shoulder and said, “You’d better hurry home, Irving. My wife died two years ago!”

What do you call 100 rabbits walking backwards? A receding hare line.

A man is walking in the forest and finds a GIANT hole in the ground…

Wanting to see how deep it is, he finds a small stone and throws it in

He listens for it to land but doesn’t hear anything…

“Geez that’s deep” he thinks, and begins looking for for an even bigger stone to try with

He finds a good sized boulder and tosses it in..

Once again, he doesn’t hear anything

Dumbstruck he looks around and finally he finds this huge log which he manages to lug over and push in

While he’s listening for it to land, all of the sudden, this goat comes running like a bat out of hell and runs right past him and jumps right in the hole!

Shaken, scared, and feeling like he’s in the Twilight Zone, the man runs out of the forest

As he’s walking out, he comes across a farmer..

“Hey, just so you know, there is an absolute abyss in those woods back there” the man tells the farmer

“Never mind that, have you seen a goat by chance?” the farmer asks

“Uhhh, yes, as a matter of fact I did. In fact this goat ran as fast as you would ever imagine and jumped right in that hole I was talking about!!”

“Nah, that couldn’t have been my goat”, says the farmer.

“My goat was tied to a log”

Removing the Failing Code-Alarm From a 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ

I’m phrasing this title carefully, in case another Jeeper needs some help out there.

And your standard Internet Warranty applies – at no time does Ramblingmoose.com take any responsibilities for any actions that come from this article.  You perform any work on your car at your own risk.  If you feel uncomfortable with working on your car, take it to a qualified professional.  I’m not a qualified professional, I merely took the time to find the files out there to remove the alarm from my car.

Again – take this as help, but you are doing this at your own risk.  It “worked for me”.

In the 16 years I have had the Jeep, I have done only two mods to it that effect the electrical system.

I upgraded the radio,  and that is powered off when the key is removed.

I ordered an alarm installed at purchase by the dealer.

That is the problem.  Since the car sits for a while between uses, the alarm was draining the battery dead.

I know that because whenever I went to run the car, it either would not start, or pressing the Disarm button would make a strangled noise from the alarm.  Most of the time the alarm was not working at all.

So in an effort to diagnose my electrical system, the thing had to go.

The goal is to render the car back to original manufacture or as close as possible to it.  Since the alarm noise maker under the hood had rusted to the point where it may do more damage than good in removing it, I’ll leave that and the valet switch in place.

I also ended up removing the bypass switch from the glove box and repurposing it as an ignition kill switch.

So the car starts without the alarm now as long as that switch is in the right position.

 

To determine whether you have the right alarm system, you have to look at the alarm itself.

Luckily for me, I had the model sticker still on the front after 16 years.

Taking that sticker and the number on it, I had to search to see if it made any sense.

No, it hadn’t.

I went back out into the car and flipped the thing over.

On any electronic appliance that transmits  over the radio waves in the US, there must have been an FCC Sticker.  That sticker has and FCC ID Number.  The FCC never forgets, and that information can be searched on.

That number told me that it was from Code-Alarm and that it was an EVS II (two).  It told me who was responsible for this at Code-Alarm and some other information that was all worthless.   You see, Code-Alarm, having being bought up by Audiovox which became Voxx International, those people and the original documentation are not completely available.

Documentation you will want to get.  This is a link to the original instructions by Code Alarm and Chrysler to the tech on how to actually install the alarm system.  In case my instructions get to be too much, check this link.

The View Behind the Knee Kick Panel of the Wiring Bundle After Work

To achieve this, you need to remove the knee kick panel under the steering column.  Two Phillips screws.

Then remove the shroud from around the steering column and key.  Two Phillips screws.

Both will give you ample room to work with.  I had a lot of trouble working in the tight spaces, and really could have used a “Jeep Chick” with her smaller hands and body.  But you do what you can with what you have, even if you are a bruiser of a guy like me.

The way I did this was to remove both connectors from the alarm control computer box and that rendered the car immobile.

There are two connectors, a 6 pin and a 22 pin connector.  The connection to the ignition is in the smaller 6 pin connector.  The wires in question are the two yellow ones of the same thickness – one is solid yellow and the other is yellow with a black stripe.

There is a third yellow wire on the 6 pin connector that goes to a kill switch in the glove box compartment.  I used this wire for testing and later for a kill switch.

Ignore the other wire harness for now.  I actually left it in place because I had to travel somewhere, but that is the feed to the alarm emitter under the hood (black and red), plus a bypass (brown wires).  The remaining wires are to a shock sensor, hood switch, light sensor, and back door switch.  I am purposely ignoring them for now since as I said, I left that harness in place.

From the original installation document:

  • Blue – Jumpered off the ignition harness (To be Cut)
  • Red – Jumpered off the 12+ Volt line in the ignition harness (To be Cut)
  • Yellow – To Ignition Side of the yellow ignition line (To be re-joined at harness)
  • Yellow with Black Stripe – To Starter Motor side of the yellow ignition line (To be re-joined with the yellow ignition line above)
  • Black – To Ground (To be Cut)
  • Yellow – Thinner solid yellow line – (To door on/off switch.  Reuse as kill switch)

Trace the thicker yellow and yellow black striped wires from the 6 pin harness back to the steering column.  In mine, everything was wrapped in electrical tape.

There is a yellow wire that goes from the wiring harness on the left of the steering column, and in mine, it was cut and spliced to the yellow and striped wires that came from the six pin connector.

I removed the spliced-in wires and had the original yellow wire parts from the jeep exposed.

Those two pieces must be reconnected to be able to start the car.  You can test it by clamping the ends together.  At this point the car was disconnected from the alarm, and the car was able to start when I connected the wires together.

Now, a variation.

In order to clear out the alarm box, the box was now hanging on the floor with its two wires.  The grey wire is the antenna to the alarm.  The yellow wire runs under the dash to behind the glove box.  That yellow wire had a switch on it and I wanted to use that switch as a kill switch.  Flip it one way and the car can be started, the other way and it’s never going to start.

Good idea huh?

Since the yellow wire on the steering column was too short for me to comfortably connect using butt connectors on that 88 degree (31 c) morning, I got frustrated and this idea.

I connected one end of the switch to one end of the yellow steering column wire that came from the ignition key switch.  The second end of the kill switch went to the other end of the yellow steering wire.  That second end of the wire disappeared in the wiring harness of the car.  Both ends were tidied up with crimp connectors, then taped over with electrical tape.

The kill switch was tested and then left in the car on the on position.

I got out of the car after putting all panels back in place and taping any dangling wires down.

 

End note:  I was at the point where the car would not start on the third day after driving it enough to charge the battery.  I just got back this Wednesday morning.  This was done and mostly written on Saturday after working on the car as I did it.  As I tested the connections, I’d turn the ignition enough to see if the starter motor would start.  Made sure to test it each intervening day but never drove it – so the battery was not really topped off.   This morning the car started like a champ and said that it’s ready for duty.  (He’s a Jeep after all) 

So we’re golden and I found the problem!

 

Some History about Code Alarm and what happened with them after I got my Jeep.

Code-Alarm was a company that contracted with Chrysler for their installed car alarms.  The Jeep TJs were not coming from the factory with an alarm.  The alarm was installed at the dealer.  My dealer in Norristown, PA did a fine job of putting everything in place and it worked well for 15 years.

In the intervening years, the niche manufacturer Code-Alarm got bought out by Audiovox.  Audiovox later renamed itself as Voxx and that is where it is today.

So the Alarm in my Jeep is an orphan product.  If you have one in your car, it may be a good idea to look into removing it or replacing it.  In my case a wee little switch is enough.

Maybe Voxx International can help.  Or perhaps Chrysler/Jeep or whoever is owning them these days.  Or maybe they could just bring back the Jeepster

Why are postmen so good at telling jokes? They’re great at delivery.

Since it is Sunday when I post this, it’s perfect for today.   And, Hey! It’s a double feature too!

 

A new pastor was visiting in the homes of his parishioners.

At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door.

He took out a business card, wrote ‘Revelation 3:20’ on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned. Added to it was this cryptic message, ‘Genesis 3:10..’

Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke up in gales of laughter.

Revelation 3:20 begins ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock
Genesis 3:10 reads, ‘I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.’

An oldie, adapted, and a goodie.

A plane was about to crash. It had four passengers, but only three parachutes.

First out was a top football player. He said: “My team counts on me, and my millions of fans will be devastated if I die”. He took one of the chutes and jumped out.

Next was Donald Trump. He said: “I’m the smartest president America has ever had, and I’m loved all over the world.” He took the second chute and jumped out.

The last two were the pope and a 10 year old boy. The pope said to the boy: “I’m old and don’t have many years left, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Also, I’m sure to go to heaven. You take the last parachute, and God be with you.”

The boy replied: “Thank you for thinking of me, but there is no need for that. The worlds smartest president took my backpack.”

I had to quit my job as a personal trainer. Yeah, I gave em my too weak notice

As I am in the driveway at 9am or so on a Saturday Morning, it’s already 87 or 30C.  I’m up to my elbows in trying to remove something electrical from the Jeep.  You see, 16 year old cars have things that … fail.

If it is 87F/30C (and a wee bit) even with the breeze coming in off the ocean, it’s hot.   It’s going to get hotter later so got to get this done.

At any rate, enough whining, at least the car starts, right?

Here is a short one for you in case you’re paying attention.

Phillips screw head.jpg
By en:User:Cburnett – Own work. Canon Digital Rebel with a 100mm macro lens., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Damn, I used to hate these things!

 

Oh and if someone tells you to get the “Blinker Fluid” from a car parts store… they are trying to get you to embarrass yourself, there is no such thing!

 

 

 

 

Get me a phillips screwdriver

Based on a true story.

A mechanic was working on a car that was outside the workshop. He needed a phillips screwdriver. He told his new apprentice ‘Get me a phillips screwdriver’.

The apprentice ran off into the workshop. After 20 minutes he still hadn’t returned. Frustrated, the mechanic went and got the tool himself and finished the job. Another 15 minutes passed and the apprentice comes huffing and puffing and flustered.

‘Where the hell have you been?’

‘I couldn’t find Phillip!!!!’

Propagating Croton

When I got this house, we had Litrope in front.  It’s a thick grass that looks rather nice as a ground cover but it had intermingled with the Macho Ferns and a whole host of weeds that were in those spaces.

Yes, it really was called Macho Fern.

No, I don’t know why.

Problem was that it looked like hell warmed over with all that mixing going on so I took it all out with a weedeater over a period of weeks.

I put in some landscape cloth to hold the weeds back and mulched over it but it looked sterile.

We wanted some plants we could grow that did not grow too quickly, gave color, and needed only a little care.

Liking the look of it, we settled on Croton.  They are always colorful with a riot of red, yellow, and orange leaves.  Very slow growing in our beach sand soil here.  And no spines like my bougainvillea.

I swear I give a pint of blood every time I work with bougainvillea.

But most everything else on the property is from cuttings that I took here or there.  Since I live where you vacation, I knew that Screw Palms were easy to propagate, so I put two stands of it in the island in front of the house.  My Podocarpus was propagated into a new hedge to block the trash cans, there’s some variegated Hibiscus that grows just about anywhere from cuttings – just snip and stick into the ground.

And I waited.  The Screw Palms established themselves immediately but that Croton is doing what it does, grow slowly.

The Croton got leggy so I did what they do at any real landscaper would do – I took cuttings of that.  They almost all started to grow – slowly.

So if you are planning on doing this on your own, expect between 80% and 90% success rate on Croton.

Here are the steps I took to propagate:

1) Find a length of branch that is about 8 to 12 inches long (20 to 30cm).  Make sure that there are leaves at the end and no obvious pest infestations.  Trim most of the leaves up the branch.

2) Rooting Hormone.  Yes, this is required for Croton.  Dip the end of the branch to about a half of a thumb length into the powder.  Be generous with it.

3) The planting.  I have had success with simply sticking cuttings into the soil, however my front garden is well watered.  If you use a pot with good potting soil, make sure that it is well drained.

4) The Watering.  Every single day.  Without fail.   For a Month.  Two months is better.

5) The Waiting.  A month should do it, but again, two is better.  This will allow roots to become established and for you to find some green leaves begin to show.  During this time, most if not all of the original leaves will drop off.   The cuttings will look like they are dead after they drop off those leaves but give them time.  The ones in my “nursery pot” only have two wee little leaves at the top on some of those sticks, and the ones in the front garden are younger on the left, the more established on the right of that first picture.

6) Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  That first picture up top is a couple iterations of this process.   I started when the rains started back in April.  Since we have distinct wet/dry seasons, I’ll be able to get one more “crop” in before the rains stop in December.   The ones on the left of the first picture will be joined by the ones in the nursery pot, and I will start more very shortly from that tall leggy beast on either side of the lower growing ones.

None of these plants are really that old, I started this back in spring.  They do take their time getting established but they will grow.

Oh and an aside, if you find any scale insect or any other pests, a good removal spray is a teaspoon of dish soap and a tablespoon of vinegar to about 20 ounces or 600mL of water in a spray bottle.  I had one of those Crotons that was infested with scale that died before I tried the spray.  That was what got me started with all of this

Sure the plants are not all that expensive, but I like a good challenge, and plants that I created is always a good way to make sure that I’ll continue an interest.