Involuntary Shamrocks

So do you like my weeds?

If you blink, Shamrocks happen.

Really, that was how these little gems came to be.

You see this was once my Mint Pot.  You never should plant mint in your ground because it propagates incredibly well.  Cuttings and seeds both will just grow and take over.

Your grass will be changed over to mint.

Mind you, you can always make tea out of the stuff, and I have.  It’s quite nice, this specific mint, and I will be restarting the pot in a while.  But it had died back, and there was one lone shamrock growing there.

I let it go.  Bad idea.  Now I have a pot where almost all the remaining mint has been choked out by these little plants.

That is what you get when a casual gardener gets lazy.  Lets call it “The Darwinian Gardening Method”.  What thrives is allowed to grow.

The flowers had caught my eye over the weekend.  I really did like seeing them there, especially since they require no care other than occasional watering.

I have heard them called Sorrel and the roots have small tubers on them.  The tubers can be cleaned, and have been used by the Native Americans to sweeten things.  I’m not sure that I am quite that brave, but I do know that people in the caribbean will drink Sorrel Tea.

If this is the same stuff and it could be since The Bahamas are only about 100 miles east of where I sit.

I guess you could call this “Stuff I Just Like” like a friend does, and call it a day.

 

Enjoy some little flowers in March wherever you are.

How Long Will They Stay, or, If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy, Set It Free

Over the last few years there have been a bunch of articles.

Actually quite a few articles, so I’ll be lazy and not look for them.

One after another says that when the Boomer goes into the Home, the Millennial doesn’t want “It”.

“It” being “Brown Furniture”.  It’s also the Great Generation’s China that the Boomer inherited as well as a long list of things that they can’t be bothered with.

I’ve come to realize that those Millennials are making a whole lot of sense.

You see, last weekend we went to Ikea. You know the place?  Giant box of a store filled with right-sized food, furniture that you build yourself, and everything is named by throwing a dart at a Swedish Telephone Book?  I am rather fond of Ikea, and the clean lines on the furniture and the names and the possibility of getting some of those awesome cookies at the end is all part of the fun.

Besides being given a Poang Rocking Chair that I am enjoying very much, we got a China Cabinet.  I’ve been trained to call them a Tallboy, but that could just be my own warped version of English so pay me never mind.

It took all weekend to get the mother-lode of boxes into the house, opened, proofread, and then assembled.  The tallboy is taller than I am so it is truly tall.

To get this beast of a piece of white furniture where it is needed, we had to clear out the old cabinet of its glassware.

Now, Husvik the Tallboy, and Poang the Rocker live in my dining room.

This was where I realized the wisdom of the Millennial.

I was confronted with my glassware from when I was in my first apartment.  Some glasses leftover from when I was a child.  Some more glasses that I pulled out of the landscaping over the years.

Rather a lot of glassware.  In fact so much so that we began to pile it and all the Onesie-Twosie oddball glasses into a low box.

After considering how to get rid of all that strange one off and two off drink-ware, I merely moved the box out to the front of the property.

After all, how much of this stuff can you use at any given moment?   We have never had an actual party in this house, despite knowing that it was the party house on the block before my boring self moved in.

Swimming pool and Dry Bar not withstanding.

So how did it go?  The box is still out in front of the house.  I’m going to keep putting it out in the morning, and picking it up at night until it is gone or the next trash day happens.

Stay tuned, Fellow Babies, Stay tuned!

So I waited.  The box went out there at 8 in the morning.  Mind you, I live on a street with a fair amount of foot traffic.  People walk from apartments and day rentals to the Shops and Restaurants here all day long.

Lunch came.

Box Stayed.

Mid afternoon crash happened.  Not too happy about that Nod-Off but blood sugar and high metabolism will do that to an athlete.

Box stayed.

Dinner hour hit.  I walked Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM).

Came home and the box was still there.

I stood up to close the blinds and was told that I should just close the blinds and ignore it.  We just don’t want a box of potential missiles to reside on the driveway over night.

It turns out that in the first half hour of night, someone came by and moved my weird mismatched glasses on to their new home.

No more Crown Royal Old Fashioned Glasses.

No more Highball Glasses.

Gone is the cut glass goblet (singular, all the rest suffered deceleration trauma over the years).

Even the “extra” glass that came from a Bag Of Crap that once blinked from LEDs in the bottom of it.

Goodnight Glasses, er Moon!

Bye Bye!  With my blessings.

Now if I can just get rid of those plastic tubs of weird stuff in the back room… Hmmm.  Maybe a handful a day… I wonder if I can get away with that?

Propagating Bougainvillea – Two Months Later

It may sound strange to you if you live in an area where the temperatures are closer to freezing, or below, instead of being a Beach Day in the middle of December, but I did manage to catch the season right for planting.

In October.

When I went to propagate the Bougainvillea, it was because the vines were being eaten away by Subterranean Termites.

We get those termites here in South Florida, and protecting things here requires creating a toxic soup barrier around your house.

I expect that the Bougainvillea arbor that is the “mother plant” is just outside of the Toxic Soup Zone.

These vines are as thick as my thighs in some places, and I have very large thighs as I am an inline skater who considers a 2200 calorie workout “light”.  But these vines were also eaten to the point where I may lose the plant in a year or so.

They wobble freely on their roots.

I trimmed off random sections of the older growth to start new plants.

Half of them began putting out tiny leaves, the others sat there looking like dead sticks.

Since this is my life, weirdness ensued.

The ones with the tiny leaves either died or went dormant.   I will leave these alone in my highly watered propagation pots.

However the ones with no growth on them began to sprout leaves and some are already blooming.  On a two month old cutting.  In a pot.

I find it strange too.

My expected date of planting is the first day of Spring, March 21.  It is currently (looks at my watch) December 10th.

So I have more time to grow.

The Sticks not withstanding, are fine.  The ones that have gone “dormant” or have died will have until March to make up their flowery mind whether to live or to be turned into mulch.

In the interim I have high hopes for some cuttings that I made from the mother plants that were new growth.   Yes, in December, these things are putting out new shoots.

They are in the “nursery pots” and are not drying up like some of the other cuttings have been, so who knows.

I’m also nursing 55 Rosemary cuttings and none of them have decided to curl up and die yet.  We will be using them for ground cover.  Ground cover you can use to make a pizza or spaghetti sauce.

March, being three months away, gives me time to obsess and wait to see what survives.

 

All that Rosemary came from what a good friend of mine in Atlanta described as “One of those sad little xmas trees that they try to guilt you into buying at the supermarket”.

 

I’ve been told that I truly need to stop doing this though.  I’m seriously running out of space.  Just this morning, I snipped what I thought was a twig.  Finger thickness branch was cut off the salmon bougainvillea.

 

By the time I got that “twig” to the ground, it had pulled off two other “twigs” with it and was over six feet long.  Two meters of nasty bitey thorn filled branches.

If I get any spare bougainvillea I’ll let people know.  FOB My Front Porch.  I never have any luck giving anything away but I will make the offers.

That Gardening Bug.  I guess really it is “Landscaping” because I’m rapidly approaching an industrial scale.  It gets under your skin and makes you feel like you’re doing something productive.

Guess what?  You are.

 

Happy Holidays From Rack and Ramblingmoose.com

So sure, I could mess with my schedule and put this picture up, when, next Tuesday?

What fun is that?   I really do like how this picture came out.

Besides, that’s for New Years.  Thanks Calendar Cartel for not straightening out the dates!

Harrumph!

What this was is actually the end of a dog walk.

I have three dog walks per day, as you should if you have a dog.  Rack being the superior McNab SuperDog, (TM), that he is, he has plenty of quirks.

He speaks English,

He tells time,

He has a map of the neighborhood in his brain.

He may even be learning Spanish – I have to be careful with the phrase “Estoy Listo” because “I Am Ready” is a phrase I may want to keep close to my chest.

Here is the story as I see it.  Even if I am reading too much into it, well, I have been told that I can tell a story well.

We left, as normal, from the house, and went out to walk the block.

“Rack, this is your walk, take me where you want to go.”  Wag Right.

When a dog wags right, what you said or did pleases him.  He feels in control of the situation and confident.

When a dog wags left, he may still be pleased but he isn’t completely in control of things.  I get that when I tell him “Go Poop” and he’s not ready.

He really does like to be talked to.

Rack did take me on a “modified” walk.  I have a very set pattern of blocks I walk at that time of evening.  Probably because I try to avoid the bars, don’t want to disturb the patrons at the Italian Restaurant, and I want to avoid noise and other distractions.

No, really, if I walk past Bona Italian Restaurant, it causes a ripple of people talking and pointing at my dog.  There is a waitress in there that loves him, as well as one or two of the owners, and I really don’t want to stop business just for a walk around town.

He does, however, and he took me past the restaurant.

After a few cookies and some attention, we wandered on a different route until we got back here.

As we approached, I said “Rack go wait at the door and let me get a picture”.

He did … Just That.  Walked to the door and waited.  Ok, he knows more English than I thought.

I got the picture you see, however, any photographer will tell you – always take a second.  I wanted to play with flash and settings and re-compose the shot.

This one isn’t perfect, I could have adjusted settings, but this is as close to perfect as I could get all the way to the palm trees hiding above the house.

He thought I was fussing too much and he came over to see.

 

Looking up at me as if to say “are you alright?  Did you get this figured out yet?”

I responded “Why don’t you go back to the door so I can get another?” in a conversational tone.

He did!  Wow that is one smart dog!

I ended up using the first shot but this dog always impresses me.

Now that he’s gaining confidence, he’s getting a bit too assertive at the door.   We have to work at that bark, he’s authoritative enough to have me jump out of my skin inside!

So Happy Holidays to one and all, no matter where in the world you are, no matter what holidays you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by over these years.

Rack and the rest of us at Ramblingmoose.com

Mushrooms and The Morning After Gordon

It was a noisy night.

It had been raining the day before, and well into the night.  The Radar here showed random clouds that had gathered themselves into something remotely resembling bands, Lines of Thunderstorms to non-Floridians.

This was the normal way a storm develops here.  Pop Up Thunderstorms generate over the warm water East of me, move their way over land, drop their water, then peter out.  Or they end up working their way across the state in one of a dozen directions.

These storms, though, had kept grabbing the heat of the water that was just off the coast and turned themselves into a storm of interest.  That grew into a Tropical Depression by morning.

That also had me wake up at 4AM.  If I am up that early, I’m up.  I would not go back to sleep.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) was unhappy.  He hates T Storms on a good day and this was well into the second good day.  I could hear him shivering in the dark.

Turning on the phone, launching a Radar program, I was able to see tell-tale banding and thought that this was going to turn into something that bears watching.

Yep.  By now this would be Tropical Storm Gordon, and did hit somewhere near the Mississippi and Alabama border on their Gulf Coasts as a strong Tropical Storm.

Here it was a minor nuisance.  Lots of rain.  The next day I found out it was 2.65 inches of rain.

All the South Floridians grumbling about their Labor Day holiday being a wash out, and so on.

I sat up in bed and looked down the line of pots by my pool and under the Mango Tree I saw something that looked like it had landed in the yard, but could not tell.  Since it was raining so heavily, I’ll wait for Sunrise before inspecting.

We went for our dog walk and a couple hours later I revisited the what was it in the yard.

It turned out to be four very large, six inch in diameter, palm sized white mushrooms.

I have lived here for more than 12 years now and I have never seen a Mushroom in the yard, let alone something this massive.  I guess it was always too hot, but with the cooler air due to the storms, and all that rain, it decided to send these fruiting bodies out and spread spores.

Quickly.

Weird.  It looked like a scene from Lost In Space where the Jupiter 2 had landed on the planet of the big grasses, and one of the other had ditched on its side.

If it were, there would be fire, people running around screaming, a monster that was a cat with things stuck on it or perhaps a giant 40 foot tall chimp looking thing that went “Bloop Bloop” coming off an attack space ship that was in reality a kitchen utensil.

My money is on a whisk.  If you hand a child a whisk and tell them to play, they’re going to make it fly.  Trust me.

But there the mushrooms were.

Since they didn’t bother anyone, I let them alone, and went inside.  It was raining again, and would all through the night and into the next morning at 4AM.

Luckily we slept through that.  In fact, we slept so well that I was lucky enough to see the Sunrise.  The sun coming up over the Bahamas lighting the clouds below, turned them purple and mauve, later changing to some fiery reds and oranges.

It was so stunning a sunrise that along with my mushroom pictures and sunrise picture, many other people on social media showed off their own pictures there.

I mean, come on, how often does a space ship land in your back yard under your mango tree?

Making A Pallet into Planter Boxes Freestyle

I guess you could say that this all started with Hurricane Irma.

We made it through fine.  The folks elsewhere had much more to deal with than we did here, because, we had been planning for it since we moved here in 2006.

However, we did learn in the two weeks power was out that we needed to upgrade our generator.

That generator has arrived and came on a pallet.

If you ever got something that came on a pallet, you also know that the pallets tend to stick around for a while.  If you don’t use the wood up, you have to chop it up and find a way to toss it out.

Being the creative type, I also know that the pallets are a great source of wood for projects.  Some are quite elaborate, some simple.

This Project Can Be Completed In An Hour.

Ok, so Caveat – you need tools.  I used a battery powered Sawsall and a battery powered screwdriver.

I did say we were prepared. Those tools were rescued from people who don’t realize that you can both replace the battery pack and you can retro fit the packs with fresh batteries.  So thanks to whoever it was that left them outside with a sign saying “Free to a good home” because yeah, I can fix that.

That pallet pictured is marked off where I cut the thing apart.  With 12 cuts into the wood itself, plus some extra cuts between the slats to remove them from the base, the whole thing was in pieces in about 15 minutes.

Then I took a few pictures to show my handywork.  The thing is that with the right tools, this is trivial.  The Sawsall is like an electrically powered hack saw that is a must have for a homeowner.  I used mine the other day to take down 7 palm trees in the yard, and while there are at least a dozen more that need to go, the tool is great for the job.

I’m still on the “first charge” of the battery pack after downing the trees and cutting up this pallet.

You will notice that I am not giving dimensions to this project, either.  Pallet wood is never very good.  Mine was brittle, and the pieces were there to hold a generator steady, not to be pretty for use in furniture or planter boxes.  The cuts have to be made as a Judgement Call.  You have to figure out for yourself where the cuts go.  You also have to determine for yourself whether you want to use a somewhat dangerous tool to cut through the nails that hold it all together – Standard Internet Warning Applies – Do This At Your Own Risk and Take Precautions to Keep Yourself Safe.

Or get Mommy or Daddy to do it.  I’m not taking responsibility for any damage or injury, you’re an adult, figure out the tool use.

Ok, so I sound like your big brother.  I am someone’s big brother, and my kid sister will tell you that I have my own way of teaching.

Boy did I open myself up there….

So once the rough cuts are done, you need pieces to reassemble these boxes into the end

result.  The pallets are made with a semi-solid deck on one side, and three support beams in the bottom.  Those three support beams are where the cuts happen.  They are also going to be the easiest place to make your cuts since you already have four out of six sides of a box assembled for you.

Take some of the extra wood from the scattered pieces, and nail them in place.  The scattered pieces were in differing levels of usability – some were split before I got to them, others were quite solid and could be screwed into the thing to serve as a base.

I used the electric screwdriver and some “Drywall Screws” and it was done in short order.  Be sure to use enough screws to hold the boxes together.  I used two on each end of the plank, and two in the middle.

From what I can see, the only thing that will take these apart will be time, water, and termites.  They’re sturdy enough to hold my weight, although you may not have that luck depending on wood, weight, and other variables.  In fact, forget I said it.  They don’t have to be tested that thoroughly, don’t go standing on it.

(Standard internet warning applies – blahblahblah don’t hurt yourself blahblahblah)

At any rate, the only other oddball thing I have been considering was to line these with some landscaper’s cloth to hold soil in place while the boxes are hung on my fence in the yard.  That is not strictly necessary since I’m also considering using one or more of these to hold orchids.

You can also paint them if you desire, but I’m leaving them “wood” colored because my fence is rather “wood” colored as well.

But yes, I got these boxes done in under an hour.  Electric tools help.  Using a rip saw and #2 Phillips Screwdriver by hand would make this a rather painful process.   As is my right thumb got a blister from the Sawsall vibrations and I felt it the next day.

Just be careful.  I’d like you to visit again some day without thinking this fool gave me an idea that I did and I broke a nail or something else doing.

 

Hey, tools can be fun, but they can be dangerous.

Have You Ever Really Looked At A Coleus Flower?

I spend a lot of time in my garden.

At 7:30, every single morning, I have an alarm set.  It tells me that I have to go outside to the yard to inspect the irrigation system.

There’s a ritual here.

I stand up, put some water into the French Press coffee mug I have and call Rack The McNab SuperDog if he isn’t paying attention.

Usually he has beat me to the back door by now.  Only if there is an active thunderstorm will he hold back.

I open the sliding glass door with a “Hi Oscar” to the parrot, and walk outside.

That coffee mug gets emptied into the garden with a chuckle.   I’ve been told “it’s Gardener’s Gold and must not be wasted.  Parts of my garden is more than half coffee grounds and the rest is that beach sand that passes for soil here.

But I do have to go out, inspect the swimming pool and make sure that the pots are getting watered.  They have a short, ten minute time period, where the irrigation pump is dribbling water into the orchids, mangos, various cuttings, onions, and green onions, and all the rest of the things that I have in a little terra cotta prison.

They get drip fed their water, and I walk around and enjoy them.

It also is what the photographers know as the Golden Hour.  The sun is up, now in mid May, but not up so much as to be harsh.  There’s a golden glow on everything.  Shadows are prominent.  Flowers are back-lit to a brilliance that the noon sun’s harshness would overpower.

Everything is burnished in gold.

If you are fortunate, you will get to see this.  Just at the right time, just at the right angle, simple things become amazing.  The forgettable becomes something to remember.

I was fortunate that day.

Inspecting the Milkweed plants that were being turned into stumps by baby Monarch caterpillars, I looked closely at every single pot.  I wanted to know if my green onion was going to be the temporary home for a pupa, as it has happened before.

My showy leaves on my involuntary coleus were shining.  Usually their reds, greens, and yellows were more muted, but this particular morning, at this particular time, they were radiating a glowing show of colors.  My friendly office plants that insist on dropping seeds into pots that I would rather not have them in so thickly were singing a chorus of beauty.

Then I spotted it.  The Inflorescence.  Coleus bloom dozens of little pale purple and lavender flowers on a flower spike, called an inflorescence.  This one inflorescence was backlit perfectly.

I had to remind Rack that I had pictures to take, this was too good to miss.

When I got back inside, I looked at the tiny flower.  There were hairs that were radiating as if they were shine lines on a comic drawing.

I had taken the time to smell the Coleus flowers and it showed me a side of it that I have never expected.

Sometimes, the very things that you have in abundance that have faded to become mundane, can be so beautiful you have a new appreciation for them.

They’re all over my yard.  I have been pulling them up and tossing them in the thick tangle that is the utility easement behind the pool.  They taunt me by growing even back there in the shade.

I guess that if they can grow in a ninth floor north facing single pane window in a cold Philadelphia winter, they can gather enough sunlight to grow here in the riverine wetness that is South Florida.

And if you are lucky enough, you just may be treated to their shine.