Sunday, June 28, 2020

Helpful Hints – or – Peculiar Pointers (depending upon your viewpoint)

Almost every day lately I discover tiny, simple tricks to cut down the time and energy spent on mundane tasks. Or preserve items, as it were, such as cilantro. I just love those flavorful leaves on foods like this home cooked Thai style chicken and mushroom soup.

Chicken broth infused with lemongrass,
while a splash of very stinky fish sauce
brings surprisingly
great umame!
But I find the delicate herb turns brown fast despite refrigeration. Then it occurred to me that removing the stems, bagging and sealing the brightest greenery, preserves its fresh flavor.

Sorry about the glare...
Overall, my husband and I make a great cooking and gardening team. With chores like laundry I tend to be on my own. And it’s a minor annoying when he becomes impatient to show me something on television while I rush putting away our clothes.

Yesterday, I thought about his occasional aid in hanging shirts. He’ll stand by the bed and toss me individual items. Instead of dragging him off the couch, I brought my T-shirt laden vanity table bench close to the closet. And voila! It went so much faster.

A Temporary Laundry 'Table'
Another pet peeve is biting insects. I know many can relate. Some of us seem to be tastier than others. Years ago I discovered a handy Sportsman’s stick repellent that makes it easy to target my most vulnerable bits of skin (elbows, wrists, calves, knees, and ankles in particular) without inhaling poisonous aerosol sprays.

The only bother with it is the top screws off but the product itself needs to be held in place, which isn’t easy with my small hands. Instead of struggling this past weekend, I tucked a cotton ball in that bottom well. The electrical tape holding the ‘stuffing’ in place is easy to remove if more cotton is needed.

30% Deet!
Are you a popular menu item in the insect world? If you suffer, have you tried a Deet infused product such as I swear by?


Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Tiny Visitor

Enjoying a cool evening outside our front door, I felt something alight upon my left knee. Instead of the expected and dreaded bloodsucker this tiny praying mantis looked at my face as if sizing me up.

Hey! Let me outta here!
Obviously I just couldn't resist bringing the creature inside for a photo shoot. He or she gave me a scare by slipping out of my cupped palms but I had the good fortune of locating the teensy figure on our stone flooring without mishap.

Have you ever seen a baby mantid? Aren't they just adorable?


Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Snail's Perspective - & My Need for Levity

In defiance of all humanity's insanity, I continue focusing on tiny bits of joy. Forgive me if being one more voice in the cacophony seems pointless. Anyway, here is a baby assassin snail image. While my palm shows size perspective, don't worry; the animal was returned to the water unharmed.

You can't see the telltale shell stripes,
but they're there. Trust me.

What are the odds, do you think, that this is the one I photographed in the tank? Did you know these little beauties are not hermaphroditic like many gastropods?


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Creepy Crawlers – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Forgive the spaghetti western movie reference. That Clint Eastwood film is such a classic, its title alone so quotable, I couldn’t resist. And it is fitting, to be fair. As just about every human being on the planet knows, many insects and their ilk are beneficial whether attractive or not. Civilization as I know it would be devastated if honeybees weren’t pollinating our food crops or earthworms improving our soil.

A Welcome Visitor

Others aren’t so welcome. Last summer’s Japanese beetle invasion devastated my Harry Lauder’s walking stick. I've had to dismember this member of the filbert (hazelnut) family, a longtime part of our landscape.

My husband wants to keep these
remains as a sculpture (?!)

On a fun note my assassin snails have reproduced. They are named for their diet of pesky species, which inundated the tank within months of my poor clown loaches all dying. Since the adults decimated my nemesis it’s fortunate that assassin snails eat general detritus. Sometimes I think the pure existence of these creatures would be easier than life as a complicated human. But I prefer not to surrender all my free will just yet.

Sorry this little snail’s image is grainy...

Have you ever wondered what bugs experience? If possible, would you like to spend a day as one? What insect life form would you choose?


Monday, June 8, 2020

Sowing Her Wild Oats

Just when I think Jezebel has learned to act her age, she surprises me. A few minutes ago she climbed one of our tall cat trees. Getting down is how we think she injured her front leg last autumn. This jump onto the sofa proved flawless, thank heaven. We hope she wanted attention and will not try this when someone isn’t nearby.

Just chillin'...

That stands to reason as, following her return to earth, she begged for food. Her belly full, Jezzy is now curled up on her kitty heating pad. Little stinker startled me half to death. (not enough to stop me grabbing my nearby camera, of course) Heh…

For perspective...

How do you keep a geriatric cat safe when she thinks she’s half her age? And where is our thin little brat putting all the food she’s devouring?


Sunday, June 7, 2020


Mindfulness is a Zen philosophy I (obviously) never mastered. Take for example this morning's 'duh' moment. Sweet kitty Jezebel received her final dose of eye and ear drops yesterday morning. Never one to appreciate being picked up, she is tolerant on occasion if I carry her to my husband or we look out windows together.

Since the photo of my scratch came out looking so ugly,
here instead is a view from my writing table
on the back deck this lovely day.

Guess who didn't want to be picked up today, so soon after being traumatized? And how could I do anything but apologize to her after acting so thoughtless?


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Gardening to Beat Grief

In lieu of lifting weights at the YMCA, I began steady yard work for exercise. Digging in the dirt and renovating an old flower bed have proven cathartic, a distraction from all the depressing world news. Getting out among the natural world is almost spiritual, meditative.

Okay, it's not all 'natural' in my gardens...

Repurposed from my nineties Southwest decor...

A Contemplative Bunny
Frogs from Cox Arboretum gift shop...

A perennial about to bloom
I have to find the name tag...

Vegetable Patch

I left this pretty weed alone...

Discount 'Sunny' Knock Out Rose
One of four eggplants in an EarthBox...

Mixed lettuce seedlings need thinned...

More decorations to distract from the ugly utility box...

Overview of my renovated perennial grass garden,
one of several beds...

My vulture sculpture complete with real bird poo...

Do you think a taller perch would keep the bird crap off my buzzard? Is there enough variety among my silly statuary?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


It just so happens that sweet Jezebel is, like most of her ilk and myself, more awake and aware at night. And that is proving a bit problematic when I need to dose her with eye and ear medications.

-Last night I ended up with a few bloody claw punctures and various scratches. Many weren't noticed until my allergy to animals kicked in and they started itching. Heh...

Well, I have lots of antibiotic ointment and liquid bandage. And we will get through this. There is less than a week to go.

Are you aware that liquid bandage helps stop topical itching from insect bites? For whatever reason, do you attract mosquitos like I do? Have they ever followed you in a visible cloud?

Monday, June 1, 2020

A Stupid Move and Lucky Finds

Early this morning I wrangled our kitty into position for her eye drop. And, I dripped it into the wrong one. ~sigh~ Poor thing. It must sting. We went back and forth across the house a few times before I corrected the situation and treated both ears.
But Jezebel doesn't seem bothered by anything except the treatments. Sot that's good. Let's hope I am a little more awake tomorrow morning before attempting anything.
Meanwhile, I went to two garden centers today in search of jalapeño plants. I found a single (excellent) looking specimen at one location. At the other, they didn't have any jalapeños but I bought a gong bao hot pepper, said to dry well, and two pickling cucumber plants. Hopefully we won't be inundated with 'cuckes' as we already have four so-called burpless in the ground.

I also wanted an affordable replacement for my short lived butterfly bush. Unable to spend much, I luckily entered the retail space near their employee lot where I found a discount section. They offered a sad looking Knock Out rose at 50% off
(!) the original price. The hardy shrub should recover.

'Sunny' is the only Knock Out variety with cream to yellow petals and a true fragrance. It went into my cart first thing. Not so the beautiful clematis vines, though I seriously coveted one before discovering a hefty $50 price tag. Yikes!

~fingers crossed~

Are you aware that the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is considered invasive in many parts of the United States? And, in an ironic twist, it's falsely advertised as hardy in our Midwest region while only living a few years? Buyer beware, eh?