Going To Publix to Cage A Thunderstorm

I have often said “Beauty happens everywhere, prepare yourself, and take a camera.”

Even when you are doing something that you might consider mundane, you might be surprised.

All it takes is to stop and smell the roses.

In my case, it was to stop and load the back of the car with the groceries.

You see we had just had a whole bunch of rainstorms.   That’s a technical term “whole bunch”.  We had a miss of a hurricane, then a couple days of storms.  All that gets followed by what passes for normal, which really is just a setting on the washer.

Since we, as a species, have decided to ignore what is happening around us, the weather got “weird”.

South Florida at this time of year Back In The Old Days of the 80s and before, or so I have been told, had very regular weather in The Wet Season.  Rain at 4:30PM.  Clear for the drive home.

Then we managed to fill up the place with condos put too close to roads and homes that were once low slung and now are beginning to look strangely familiar to anyone who grew up in a colder climate.  You know, two stories or more.  Split Levels.  Frame houses.

Yeah, all of that will get knocked down the first time we have a proper Category 3 blow through like Matthew was supposed to be here.  Those houses will all end up in my swimming pool and like places.

If you are moving down here from Up North, buy an older house.  One floor.  Concrete Block.  Impact Glass.  Non-Flat roof made of Tile.  That’s a start.  Let the other guy “take the hit”.

We moved here after everyone filled the place up and took over from someone else who wandered off to the Florida Keys to build a house on stilts.  I guess he wanted to fish for Lion Fish off his back porch.

But the storms don’t come at the same time since all those homes and all those pitched roofs and all that black asphalt warmed the air.   The sun hits it all, warms it up and creates a strong updraft.  It creates an island of heat that my own house is on the edge of.

So those 4:30 PM storms hit south of Miami and at the airport since the airport is a big open grassy field.  We get our storms at random times, seemingly around “The Dinner Hour” which certainly varies, or over night, or all day.

You get the picture… it all changed.

This particular day was one of those random days.   We got rain most of the afternoon and that meant that we were puttering.  I went into the kitchen and got creative and realized I needed a few things from the market.  Since it was raining, we went down to The Big Publix downtown in Fort Lauderdale since there is a parking garage built over top of the market.  Convenient and you don’t have to park in another area code because you want to park in the shade.

Another Floridian trick:  You will park way “out there” so  you can put your car under a tree, then walk way back.  This is so your car doesn’t melt in the sun.  Of course you get your suntan on the walk back from the shop, or the mall, or what have you.

Tourists tan.  Locals don’t.

The building is built like a bunker.  Thick walls to support all those SUVs and Exotic Cars that people here seem to think they need to show off to their neighbors with.  Plus my qualifies-for-antique-license-plates Jeep Wrangler.

Think of a casino.  No idea of what is happening around you, outside, day or night.  You can’t tell if you are in the middle of a war in one of those bunkers of a buildings.

I was in Aisle 7, I think.  Giggling at the magazines.  Looking at the pictures and considering translating one of the Spanish Language ones just for practice.

We heard the weather then.  A Deep Rumble, and a far away wind.  Considering we were further inside that building than my entire property length, that was a surprise.

“Must be rain”.

We rarely use umbrellas here.  Locals, that is.  You see someone using an umbrella and it is a snowbird or other tourist, or it is one of those rain storms that has no wind.

This wasn’t that.  It was a gully washer out there.

We managed to finish the shopping and went up to load up the car.  I stopped dead in my tracks and looked West.  Weather almost always moves East to West here except the times it moves North to South or Up and Down.

Scratch that, you really can’t tell what way a specific cell is Supposed To Move.  Thunderstorms can come from any direction at any time in October.

And there it was.  Looking Caged.  A thunderstorm.  I guess that was what I heard when I was reading that one Spanish magazine.

They do come from any direction and sometimes they just pose for you.

Finishing the shopping, we made it home without incident.  Just a little rain starting up just as we got into the driveway and loaded the food into the house.

You see, Storms here can come at any moment…

Advertisements

It’s The Calm Before The Hurricane Prep Day

When I got up today, it was 4:15AM.  All was silent.  I closed my eyes thinking I can probably get more sleep.

I got into that Lets Open The Eyes And Check The Clock Every Ten Minutes thing.

Didn’t work, got out of bed before my normal Stupid O’Clock at 4:40.

Then I pulled my earplugs out of my ears and started getting ready for the dog walk.

It still was silent.  The house was quieter than normal.

Getting out the front door before 5AM there was no wind. Nothing.  Still as a Tomb.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) pulled me out onto the front lawn.

Still.  I looked up.  Very few clouds.  Stars.

After the weeks, and more than one, that we have been having, not seeing clouds in the skies felt odd.

Oh sure, I could find my friend the hunter.  Orion still had his belt to the South and East of the house.  A bright star was shining at me from the lower left of Orion.

But No Clouds.

Very strange.  I was looking for that “Bow Shock” line of clouds from Hurricane Matthew that was at that point just leaving the far eastern point of Cuba, but nothing.

This is that last day.  One last brilliantly clear day that you get before a Hurricane.  The storms seem to pull all the air toward it, the barometric pressure begins to drop, and you have time.

I already got Propane and Gasoline.  With one I can cook, even bake bread.  With the other I can drive out of South Florida if I have to or simply run the generators to keep the fridge going.

Mentally, I have noted that since the highs have already dropped below 90, it will be annoying, but we can make do with windows open.  After all, living in a three story “Farm House” in Philadelphia for years with no Air Conditioning, we made do, and sometimes it hit triple digits.

Think 40C or 104.  Once.  In Philly Humidity.  *SHUDDER*!

So I am hoping the winds won’t knock out the power.  We still haven’t tested generators to run the house, only individual appliances.

There is more than the expected water. Three cases of bottled water plus four gallons of water in one Quart Mason Jars.  I emptied my canning supplies and filled them with filtered water.

We’re expected to get “Hurricane Force Winds”.  Something more than 73MPH.  110KPH give or take a K.

After all, I am only 2.2 miles West of the ocean.  3 Km.   I could walk it as long as I had comfortable shoes and time.

Many others are not prepared as well, and my heart goes out to them.  My immediate neighbor’s house has no storm shutters and “regular” float glass windows.   I expect to hear that he will have broken windows.  More than one.

With luck his roof won’t end up in my swimming pool.

Besides, the fringes of a Hurricane bring with it “Embedded Tornadoes”.

The weather radio has been an endless loop of hurricane preparation hints.  Most of them have been done here.

I hope that if you are reading this and will be effected, anywhere from the Florida Keys to South Carolina, you have made your preparation and will be finishing soon.

As for me I have a very few things to do:

Finish the laundry since no power means no clean clothes.

Get Aunt Betty’s table and chairs off the front porch and tied down since plastic table and chairs make wonderful flying objects.

Move the last few prized plants under cover like Larry’s Bonsai.

Finally publish this and put together for the blog next week, a “warrant canary” to say Yep, I’m still offline.

Good luck South Florida.  Matthew is an unwelcome guest.  At least this storm will stir up the ocean enough to make the next hurricane much less vigorous.  Cold water will be brought to the surface and this should be the end of the season, or close to it.

But I keep thinking that no matter what, it won’t matter.  What will happen will happen.

Since my 446 day Duolingo streak will probably end tomorrow or the day after,

Qué será, será. What Will Be, Will Be.

Coffee Grounds – Mosquito Repellent or Just Gardener’s Gold

There’s a lot of things flying by on the internet these days.

Facebook is adding to it.

But some of it is true, some of it is false, and some of it has a bit of both in it.

I may have stumbled onto something here.

When I moved to South Florida, I ended up with a lot of really fascinating people around me.

My godmother was fresh from being one of the people directly responsible for having pig production being protected so that they do not end up in crates on factory farms.   She’s a gardener and her husband was into making some amazing Bonsai trees.  I’m fortunate to have her and two of those trees in my yard today.

I have other friends here who amaze me just as much as my own godmother.

Some are teaching appreciation for the environment by their own hands.  Others have a strong hand in creating ecological parks.  More are directly involved in horticultural pursuits.

I find life greatly improved as a result.

I do my own part to give back.  I’ve got a pot farm.  Well not THAT kind of pot.  A farm of pots with gardening plants in the back yard.  One after another is growing and taking root to later go into the garden.

The yard is so chock full of plants that I have a lot of trouble finding room for them.

Meanwhile I am trying to figure out how to grow more.  Our hedge is dying back so I am pre-growing Podocarpus for the next hedge.  May as well, I have the time!

I go out in the morning with coffee mug in hand and look for things to improve the yard.

But that coffee.  I was told never to throw the grounds in the garbage.  It’s “Rich Organic Material – Gardener’s Gold”.  May as well just toss it in the gardens, right?

We had gotten a few pots for the front porch, Lemongrass.  It was bought to keep down pests, mosquitoes primarily.  I would splash water on it when I go to wash the dog’s feet off before going into the house, and didn’t think too much more about the lemongrass.

At one point I was having a discussion of how there seemed to be fewer mosquitoes out front as a result.  The problem was that out back where there was another plant, I had a much worse problem with mosquitoes.  It wasn’t working.

But out front was tolerable.  I just would spray a fog of poison out the back door before going onto the Lanai

to cut back the mosquitoes.

There was something different about out front and one of those annoying Internet Memes gave me the answer.

That gardener’s gold – Coffee Grounds seemed to be having its own effect.

You see, to the one side of the lemongrass, I would throw the morning’s coffee grounds onto the top of the soil.  It was right under the bathroom window and the soil was visibly just a sheen of soil over some stones put there over the years.  It was getting thicker.

The picture in the meme said to toss the grounds near where you have a problem spot with mosquitoes, drain your pots.  This was because “Mosquitoes Hate The Smell of Coffee Grounds”.

We may be onto something.

My backyard was a fog of little tiger mosquitoes that I would literally run away from to get out to work in the yard.

My front yard and porch I could work on the windows, even rest my coffee mug on Aunt Betty’s table and not get bit badly.

It’s all relative.

So I got a lightbulb go off in my head.

Why not try coffee grounds in the plant pots out back.  I have more than 30 of them.  Orchids, Podocarpus,

Hibiscus, and Banana Trees.

So I did.  Started on the Lanai, worked my way out.  When I got to the end, repeat as needed.  I even put a stripe of the stuff over by the pool equipment which is a corridor about the same width as my own armspan.  I can touch fence and wall and it collected a cloud of the nasty little blood suckers.

I won’t say that the mosquitoes are all gone.  I would need a dome over the property and then pump it full of pesticides.  That would be no fun because I would never be able to use the thing.

But…

I have to say that since I started doing this, there is a definite difference.

Much fewer mosquitoes.

Much less of a panic.

I can use the lanai out back and my front porch.

Yes there are mosquitoes, but they are the exception and not the rule

My Lanai does not smell like a combination of Brazilian Cerrado and Pumpkin Spice at all.

And I can actually use it!

This is kind of a “Chicken Soup” thing – It couldn’t hurt.  May not work for you, but couldn’t work

But…
I will keep doing it since it IS working for me.

While those folks up North won’t need to think about this since it is getting colder and they’re going into winter, down here we wont’ see 60F/15C for another two months.  By then I will have a nice coating of brown over all my plants and much fewer mosquitoes.

I guess once in a while, those memes have something to them.  At least in my eyes.

Your mileage may vary.

Urban Gardening and Help From Little Friends

Somewhere in the city of San Juan, in Costa Rica, there is a man.

He was out in his yard pulling weeds.  He looked up and said something to the effect of:

Estamos en los tropicos.  Si tu pones unas semillas en la tierra, ellos van a viver.

If my memory and my Spanish serve me correctly, it means or should mean that “We are in the tropics.  If you put some seeds in the ground, they are going to live.”.

Bueno.  Great way to kill time.  Seeds.  Ground.  Water.  Sun.

Estamos en los tropicos, indeed.  We are in the tropics here in South Florida.

As we do our weekend shopping, I see plenty of plants on offer at the big box stores.  This happens everywhere, in planting seasons.  Not exactly every time seeing that some areas have something called Winter.  Ours is blissfully short at two weeks long.  We schedule it for the first two weeks of February and are invaded by something called Snowbirds that will clog our skies and our roads and our hotels.  They pay our taxes so I can’t complain too much, just as long as they stay out of my way.

Well never mind that.  I did “Go Into Production” here.  You see, instead of buying those plants in black plastic pots that are designed to break on the way home, I make my own.  I have my own irrigation chain out back that was designed with prominent citizens with parks named after them and people who work in something called Code Enforcement.  We designed my one irrigation chain to be a drip feed waterer that could be used any given day to mist the orchids.

Now under the orchids that hang on the fence are small muddy patches where the water drips.  May as well use that water too.  In some spots, I have three pots deep.  One pot watering the next and so forth until you eventually hit the deck.

All that nonsense gives me the opportunity to plan ahead.

I take cuttings from plants that I like, and follow my friend’s advice.  Stick them in that wet soil and hope they “take”.

It is possible that I am over-watering things in the yard.  My Night Blooming Jasmine is dying off in one spot so I am starting something that is a temporary hedge made of Hibiscus.

If the big hotels can do it, so can I.

Between the Hibiscus and the Podocarpus cuttings I have in pots and in that bare area in the back of the yard, I have easily 50 plants growing that are destined to be moved.

Great.  I have made myself work.

Every morning between 7AM and 7:30AM, I am inspecting that zone.  Making sure that the orchids are getting watered.  Making sure the Podocarpus and Hibiscus cuttings are getting dripped on with the excess.  Inspecting the Rosemary shrub in the corner.  My In Ground area of Podocarpus and Hibiscus way out back.

I am also being a bit overly productive.  My Condo Mango now has its own cutting to create a tree for a good friend in Key West.  That in itself is like taking Coal to Newcastle, but he liked the idea of a 15 foot maximum mango tree.  The last four mango pits from Mango Season, it is an event after all, were dropped into a pot and have all sprouted.

I will have three trees I have to find homes for since the Mother Plant is currently over 40 feet tall – Think 13 meters for the metrically endowed.

Anyone need a Mango Tree Seedling?

But it is a nice hobby and it does attract attention.  My McNab SuperDog (TM), Rack, will come out with me and water the palm trees writing strings of “M’s” on their side.  It gives me a chance to be watched by the creatures in the yard, my friends the wee little Lizards.

In the case of some of them, they seem to enjoy being watched.  I have been followed rather than being avoided more than once.   The little “Cuban Browns” are harmless and seem to hang out catching rays and insects while watching me watch them.  The worst that a Brown has done to me was to once get surprised and climb up my leg.  Luckily I was in the back yard so I dropped Trowel as well as my Shorts and let the little creature have its freedom.

Just can’t hurt them, they’re too comical.

So if you are fortunate enough to have the room, and the need, you may as well start some seedlings.  After all, they don’t all “take” but many do.  Why not, you’ll have the time!

Why Does FPL Want To Ruin My Pizza?

Sundays.  They have turned into Pizza Day.

Specifically, one half 7 cheese, one half 7 cheese with Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Grilled Onions.

Made from scratch.  Scratch Crust, Scratch Sauce, and the toppings are my own mix.

I have this pizza recipe down.  The dough is Pat’s Pizza Dough.  The recipe comes from my sister.  She had it in a recipe book that she was given when she got married back in The Nineties.  I sat at her table with a stack of little square pieces of paper and wrote a whole bunch of recipes down and kept them.

 

I still have the original square paper for this.  It’s faded, water spotted, stained, and just about everything else you can think of that can happen to a piece of paper after some 20 plus years.  But the recipe is bullet proof.  Never fails.

Oh sure, I have adjusted it for Florida Conditions.  Bad water that comes out of the tap slightly brown and tastes like it has been sitting in a garden hose in the heat.  Flour that is commercial high grade, and rather thirsty and seems to like brown water.

Instead of what the recipe says, I’ve bumped it up to 12 ounces of water.  I know what the dough “feels” like when it is right.  Every experienced cook has a recipe they do By Eye and get right.

Pizza is mine.

In fact, I’ll put my own pizza up against anyone else’s on the island now.

The dough makes 1400 calories of bread, I weigh that in grams, divide by 10, reserve 30 percent and that makes one crust.  The cheese is exactly 6 ounces.  Sauce is exactly 7 ounces and is a home developed clone of the best sauce on the island from a closed Pizza Shop.  Yield is a pizza that is just about 1000 calories total depending on whether I go with 30% or 33% of the dough.

The point of that is I Know This Recipe.  It goes well with a single beer for Sunday Lunch.

I start this all at 9 AM.  Make the dough, weigh and separate it out.  This pizza was 30% crust, allowing me to make 6 rolls out of the remainder.  101 grams per roll.

It got rolled out and allowed to rise in a protected place.

11:30, I put the pizza together.  The vegetables were sauteed to drive out the moisture. Cheese mixed.  Sauce layered, followed by the cheese, and finally the veg.

I reached into the refrigerator, grabbed a fine ale, and sat down to enjoy a brief rest as the oven came up to temperature.

About 20 minutes later I hear the oven snap.  “It’s ready!  I guess I should get up.  The pizza will be ready in …”

BOOM.  I hear that apocalyptic sound of a “Pew” as capacitors in all the appliances discharge.  The fans stop.  It is silent except the ticking of the mechanical clocks.

You see this part of Florida, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, and Oakland Park is in Broward County.  The East side.of the county was built up first and it was built to the edge of the Everglades National Park until no more room at the inn.

Florida is full.  If you’re moving here from somewhere else, don’t think it is an open place of palm trees and wading birds.  It is, but those places are usually redneck, infested with evil things like alligators, mosquitoes that would carry off a large car, and Republicans.  Swamp People.

Broward is nice.  It’s diverse, having lots of interesting people from lots of interesting cultures, and everyone is from somewhere else.   The Native Floridians here are comparatively few on the ground.

But all that demographic nonsense?  You see what happens is that every so often we get, yes, a Hurricane.  The last one that hit here was Wilma in 2006, and we’re overdue.

 

The telephone poles look like they were here before Wilma.  You may ask, how can I tell?  Simple, they all seem to lean slightly to one side.  They’re almost all sun-bleached on the South side as well.  Southern exposure here is redundant, they’re kind of a grey color.   I know, I’m looking at one now.

Motley assortment of old beat up infrastructure.  Old Beat Up Infrastructure fails.  Randomly and spectacularly at times.

That would be that boom I was talking about.  It happened as I was just out of my chair and took my very first step across the living room to the kitchen.

What caused it was a two or three year old repair to a High Voltage wire on a pole about 100 feet from my house.  We were told it was “done badly” and “it just let go”.

I walked into the kitchen.  Oven temperature was 450. It was dropping.  I slid the pizza in anyway, and went into the living room.
“I really don’t want to finish this off in the grill.”

Crappy infrastructure means we have backup plans here.  In places where the weather is more gentle, like, say New Jersey in my sister’s native Cherry Hill, you talk about power outages, but they never last more than two hours or so.

My friend works for the power company in Atlanta.  When I tell him what I go through here with the power, he shudders and says “Southern Company would never accept that sort of failure rate” and then segue into a long conversation about how awful the power is here in Florida.

When I moved here, I lost two computers because of the twice daily “Power Pops” I get.

Trust me, it really is that bad.

Six minutes passed.  The pizza was actually done.  A wee bit under, but since I opened the oven, I lost the rest of my heat.  It was now down to around 300F.

“Well, lunch is served.  I’ll put the rolls on the grill.”

The pizza was actually quite good, better than most here.  But it wasn’t exactly a crispy cracker crust I obsess over.

Freaking FPL.

I go outside and put the rolls on the grill and close the lid.  I know exactly where to turn the knobs to get the grill to heat to 430F.

Setting the timer for 11 minutes, I come back later.

The first rolls are done.  Surprisingly good looking for something that was cooked under the Lanai.  I put in the second set.   They come out perfect too.

Actually the grill hot spots, so I will remember next time to put bricks in the grill to keep the cookie sheet up off the actual grill work.

“Now what?”  We were without power.  Full but no power.

“Luckily the house has hurricane glass and new roof.  We’ll have to see”.

The day went up to 92F here.  I watched the indoor temperature inch up a degree an hour or so.  It started at 76, and by 5PM it was up to 84.

We had some small battery operated fans for when it was warmest, but it served to remind me that while we do have a generator, it won’t power the Air Conditioning in the house without some more work.  Yes, we’ve got more hurricane prep to do or else it’s pile the dog and the parrot in the Jeep and drive North in case of a power outage.

Wilma did that.  My block was without power for two weeks.  I was told this over and over.  Two weeks of sitting on a floor and using D Batteries to power a small battery powered fan in an emergency is not fun.

So please, FPL, fix your infrastructure.  I don’t want to get used to baking rolls on a grill.

Skip It, I’ll Wait For December

Lately Florida Weather has been odd.

Granted, Wilton Manors is in a Heat Shadow of Downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Storms come from any given direction, and they tend to separate around us.  The Thunderstorms that used to be so predictable will skip over us and rain on neighboring towns.

They can be dramatic to watch.  Giant anvil headed things floating past the window, slowly.  Sometimes lightning will spark and cause a great bass note to arrive some time later.

Flash and Count… One One Thousand, Two One Thousand, Three One Thousand, Four One Thou… BOOM! That was close.

The dog hates those.  Rack, The McNab SuperDog(TM) may be intelligent but he truly turns into a shivering ball of fur in a corner when those storms come through.

When I am walking East on Wilton Drive, an hour or so before sunrise, I see them off in the distance.  Like a picket line, they must be just off shore, a couple miles apart, regularly spaced like a hair comb with a few missing teeth.

Anyone who takes a picture from time to time gets the idea of taking The Perfect Beach Picture.  You know the “Postcard” shot I am talking about.  The beach should be deserted.  Sunrise hasn’t yet happened, but it is close.  The clouds are backlit and glowing gold, brass, and copper on the bottom and sides.  The skies themselves are turning from purple to a lighter blue.  The seas are a mill pond calm with only a few splashes here and there.  The beach sand is a welcoming place.  Warm and coppery in the morning light.

Get your camera out, tripod, take that picture.

That’s it, I’ll have the worlds best picture of Fort Lauderdale Beach!

Fire off a few more in case that doesn’t look quite right.

Play with focusing and timing if the camera will allow it and see what you can see.

Seagulls give more drama, why aren’t there seagulls?

All this was running through my head.  Rack was with me.  I’m at the midpoint of my walk talking to another person who is up at stupid o’clock getting his morning walk in.

I flash back to the house and think the Jeep has gas, it’s not blocked in the driveway, and I’m not too worn out from the walk.  I could do this!

Then I realize that no, I couldn’t.  I’d have to get to the beach quickly, avoid traffic, with all my gear.  Get down there within 30 minutes.  Find parking, it is free until 8AM down in Hollywood, who knows what those people charge in Lauderdale.  Cart all that machinery out to the beach, set it all up, and maybe get a few shots.

All of this running through my head as I look at my watch.  Sunrise was in 30 minutes.  Too late.  Would have to plan this better, get up even earlier.  The people here are used to seeing me walk my dog at this hour.  Walking around there aren’t that many people up and about at 5AM give or take a few.  A half hour earlier and hopefully everyone would be in bed so we could get our walk in uninterrupted.

Hopefully.
Then go through the logistics to get to the beach.

Ugh.  There has to be a better way.

Sure.  Procrastinate.  December.   Sunrise is much later then.  I could drive down there, have my pick of beaches.  They would all be deserted then.  Even the snowbirds would be asleep.

Just remember if you’re in the car from midnight to 5AM, there is probable cause that you have been drinking…

But Officer! Photography Equipment!  Pictures!

So I stand near the house in the middle of the street.  May as well take a test photo, it is just about the right time of day for it.  Looks good on the little bitty screen I’ll have to check it inside on the laptop in big format (TM).

Yuck.  Grainy.  Digital Photography is showing its limits again.  Maybe I’ll just blow it off until the next generation of cameras.

Or December when the later sunrises happen.

Don’t know.  Procrastination for the win!

How to Keep An Idiot Busy – Give Them Low Flow Irrigation

When we got this house, it came with a well.  Ground water.  It watered the yard, front and then back, and all was well.

It kept the lawn green, lush and has been so far pretty easy to care for.

Oh sure, you have to go out from time to time and use the weedeater on the fittings, but you have to use the weedeater on the yard anyway.

This is South Florida.  You drop a seed on the ground and it will grow.

The backyard has hedges, and we were getting some dry spots, so we tweaked the system.  At one point we got a computer to control it all, and put in a third zone.

Zone 3.  It’s the super-duper low flow zone.  Everything is drip-feed and designed to comply with all watering restrictions.

Now mind you, that is a big lot of problems in itself.

You see, Zone 3, also waters my pots.  Pots full of Orchid, Banana, Podocarpus, Bamboo, Mexican Milkweed, and other cuttings that I am giving a start to.

Four pots of Orchid on the fence, four more on the shed.

Figure it all out yet?

If you drive around South Florida, you will see a lot of homes with a red stain on the walls.  Mine has it too.  It’s rust from the ground water.  The easiest fix is to pave it all under and put in gravel then turn off the pump, but I like green around me.  I could never live in the Desert as a result, and my childhood bedroom had tables of flowers, succulents, and vines that I had because I liked it indoors too.

No, really way too much of that stuff.  I moved all that outside.

So the thing with Low Flow Drip Irrigation?  It uses teeny tiny little sprinklers.  About the size of a dime.  The water lines that feed them?  They are plastic lines the size of a fish tank air supply or a straw from a drink in a bar.

You know those small things that you tried to drink from when you got old enough to go to a bar?   Yeah they didn’t work then and they don’t work now.

They all clog.

Oh sure, they’ll work great for a while, but just wait.  You will have to clean them.

Why?  That rust stain.  It’s ugly on a wall.  I solved it by planting screw palms in front of the walls where the sprinkler stained it.  I figure if there is enough water to keep staining my walls, I can grow stuff there.

If it is coating my walls with a film of rust and other sediments, then what is it doing to those tiny lines.

Arteriosclerosis.  Yep, it basically gives my sprinklers a heart attack.

A coating of rust inside the lines that grabs hold and locks down the mud that is in the water.  Stick a pipe into the ground here and you get water, but that water has sand and other muck that gets up into the lines with it.

Slowly it constricts the flow until you are out there and realize that your sprinklers aren’t sprinkling and your orchids are dying.

How do you fix that?

Join me in the yard.  7AM.  I’ll show you.

Remove the sprinkler head, get a thin wire and ream out the water holes.  Oh wait, you can’t pull that off?  No worries, just cut the line and replace the head.  Did that make the line shorter?  Yes.  You’ll have to replace that line to the sprinkler.

How about the junction.  That “T” that you made to connect the two pieces of licorice whip together?  It’s clogged.  When you removed the line and cleaned the sprinkler head it still didn’t sprinkle.  Clean out the “T”.

Hmmm, still not working?  Go back a step.  You connected the lines like a row of “T”s?  Like “TTTT”?  Not too good.  You will have to remove each “T” and clean them out with a thick wire or some fishing line.

Floss those “T”s!

Still no flow?  Ok, blow out the feeder line that the sprinkler’s connected to.  Just don’t point it at yourself.

I lost a pair of jeans and my sneakers that way once.  You see at the end of each line all the mud and rust collects.  I turned on Zone 3, opened the purge valve and sprayed about a gallon of rust on my Jeans and Sneakers.  After dancing around and screaming a pile of obscenities, I closed it back up as the water was already running “clear”.

So how do you spend your time?  Mine is dancing, cursing, and stabbing myself with cutting tools when I try to get these lines clear.

Yeah, I need a better hobby.