Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Upcoming Annual Pilgrimage to the Fossil Farm

I can't believe it's already Wednesday. Almost Thursday.

This time next week, I'll be digging in someone else's patch instead of mine.

Naturally, I'm going like gangbusters trying to get the plants put to bed before I leave. And stock up on supplies and find all my camping goods.

Before, the excursions were either 1 day or for 3-day weekends. This time, it's a sort of staggered system. You can sign up for a few days or for the whole Tuesday - Sunday gig. And that's the one I took.


Last year, I had to do the drive twice. It's around 6 hours each way. This way, I only do it once. I love the drive, but the car's going to object.

Most of the people are the same as last year. There's only one or two I don't know. The same cook, too, which is great.

I'm so excited I can't stand it. looks like I may leave a bit early, too, because Walter was actually scheduled to deliver a load on Saturday to Arcadia. The Florida one, not the one I grew up in in CA. So I can visit with him all weekend in Arcadia, and finish the drive on Monday.

This Arcadia is very beautiful, and happens to be right at the beginning of Bone Valley. That's the area in FL where I go fossil-hunting for giant fossil sharks' teeth and such.


I can't stand it!

I'll explain about all the fossil stuff later. For now, I'm just bouncing off the walls.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Happy Alligator Mating Season!

The day AFTER my birthday, March 25, is even more auspicious. Hard to believe, huh?


It's the official beginning of Alligator Mating Season.

Whereupon, the great silly beasties start to get...Confused.


Yet - Alert.

Not entirely logical.

But thoroughly biological.




And the sum effect of all this is, a bunch of funny, scary, weird -

and highly entertaining -

alligator antics.

They'll attack cars and other inanimate objects: a battle last year had a gator intent upon doing in a car bumper. They'll wander about in unexpected places, walking in the door of a restaurant open for air on a hot day. They'll congregate in huge groups in places where I like to wander about (safely!) and take pics.

Sometimes they'll grab a human, too. Not good. But the results -including tugs-of-war with rescuers - are spellbinding.

So are the antics of some people who cross their paths and do things no sensible human should. Like a lady who managed to drag a big heavy stunned gator into her back seat one day, scared of getting in trouble for hitting him with her car. The kidnapping was a worse offense. That's a felony. Not to mention what happened when that gator woke up.

Need I spell it out?

I just LOVE alligator mating season.

I hope to keep all y'all having as much fun with them as I do.

Friday, March 24, 2006

On This Day, a Lizard Said *Happy Birthday!* To Me.

Actually I forgot it was my birthday until midmorning. By then I'd been awake since 4 am, working in the yard since sunup. Thinking - a little guiltily - about the last 3 *stops* I didn't finish on my errands yesterday, and how I might could do them today even though I need a rest day, at home, after an errand day but see I didn't renew my handicap parking tag online in time and it expires on my BIRTHDAY - and then of course I remembered that's TODAY!

And all bets were off.

Birthdays are Free Days. I instantly abandoned all pretense at responsible behavior, and played in the yard to my heart's content.


Finally, I had an easy way to dispose of the poor dead madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerii) in the front yard. Per Desert Cat! TONGS! Oh I wanted to do that so bad. It was a hurricane fatality. A couple weeks after the storm, some of our odder plants just keeled over with inexplicable cases of Sudden Death. This was one.

As I sat there, happily making a little pile out of the madagascar palm's coral bed and digging up bits of nut grass, I noticed my trash bag for weeds was moving from inside. Like this: Poke! Boing! Poke!

So I opened it up and saw a lizard sitting on top of the mound of weeds. It looked like a pregnant female. Gravid. Big ol' watermelon belly.

Either that, or it just ate a whole lot of bugs. I mean really big fat juicy ones.

Anyway, she just sat there on the little weed pile, right by my latex-gloved left hand. I, of course, talked to her. Gently. I told her hello, thanks for visiting, sorry about the scare in the bag; and said how pretty she was, and that I hoped those were a bunch of nice healthy babies in her belly, good for you mama...

Lizards listen. They cock their heads to hear you better, and look you in the eye. These are not stupid insentient animals here. And for some reason, they seem to like the sound of my crunchy deep voice. Even when it's all high pitched and squeaky from allergies.

She sat there for the longest time, listening to me talk to her. Looking at me, turning first one ear then the other towards the sound of my voice, tilting her head one way then the other to see my face. Listening intently. Looking me right in the eye. Examining me up and down.

Then she hopped on my hand, scampered up my arm, and perched on my shoulder.

To hear me and see me better?

She looked and looked at me, all over my face. She had the most beautiful eyes, green and brown, oh hazel colored with flecks of brilliant gold, just glowing with reflected light. She looked in my eyes. She knew what my eyes were, she knew what they were for. She watched me looking back at her.

What an extraordinary gift.

I talked to her on and on, softly, a good ten minutes or more. She didn't leave my shoulder until I asked her to go. It was time for us to be about our business. Even then she only went a foot or two away, and stayed there in companionable quiet, watching me garden, until I got up to work somewhere else.

Mother Nature? Happy birthday right back to you. Every second of every day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

k's 8 Simple Rules for Planting Cactus

1. Before you put on your work clothes, make sure you shave your legs. If you work sitting down, shave your butt too. Hell, shave EVERYTHING. This is especially important if your tiny little body hairs are the same color as tiny little cactus spines.

2. Put out the needle-nose tweezers before you even start. Advise a very personal friend you may be requesting their assistance to remove spines from very personal areas.

3. USE those leather gloves. Will cactus spines go right through them? Of COURSE. But not ALL of them. See? Mitigate!

4. As usual, duct tape works better than scotch tape. Hair waxing stuff works good too. But it can be hard to apply since you don't want to accidentally push those spines in deeper as you spread the wax around.

5. If you try to pull spines out with your (barely existent) fingernails, you'll break more than you pull out. Well, that's life. But the less you leave to fester their way out the happier you'll be.

6. If you have a piece of cactus on the ground, and then you move it, don't sit down where it was. Don't. It's just dumb.

7. Wear long pants. If you don't have any long pants, go get some at the thrift store for virtually no money. If you do your planting in the back yard it doesn't matter what these pants look like. Good. Cheaper. Then when you're done you don't even have to wash them. Just throw them away. That means less suffering all around.

8. Grow orchids.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gone Again

Yup. He left Saturday morning. Stayed here longer than we thought he would. Which maybe made it a bit harder to say goodbye...

Walter left some really great things behind him on this trip home. I now have a laptop of my own, and he has one too. We're wireless. He can read my blog on the road, and I can live-blog for real from the road. (Assuming I can get the brakes repaired so I can get out a bit!)

The house computer is still alive, cobbled together from bits and pieces that the hurricane didn't fry. Excuse me, the Post-Hurricane Power Surge.

He loves to get me little gifts out on the road. Truck stops aren't what they used to be, believe me. They often have really neat stuff that we both like to acquire. Walter knows me ever so well by now...and knows I'm fond of certain gadgets that I almost never approve expenditures for. Yet, as Budgetmaster, I'm also adamant about each of us having a certain amount of our own money to do with as we please. So these expenditures are what he gets to do from his *grocery* type funds.

Like flashlights of all kinds. Clip-on map reading ones. Tiny things for your keychain, see the keyhole in the dark. Oh, I love flashlights. Silly for a person who can see so well in the dark as I can. (Or used to, before the LASIK). Still, I rarely think flashlights are necessary for lighting one's way on a path outside in the dark. Not necessary. No.

The flashlight collection is all about this: k loves to read, and k often goes gardening in the dark. And doing home repairs in dark places, under sinks and such.

Walter got me another one of these hurricane flashlights. Check it out: You recharge the battery by shaking it for a second or two. Ha! I kid you not. That's it. The little keychain flashlight recharges the same way, you purchase the two together in a set.

Now I have two sets of hurricane flashlights. I seriously adore them. He says they're kind of expensive but won't tell me how much they cost. He also brought me a tiny headlamp, waterproof, to back up my big huge waterproof one I got at Walmart.

More! Two tiny little keychain pill containers, nice durable ones, something I've wanted for a long time. A headphone set for my cellphone! Hands free! Driving? NO no no, silly! for when I'm gardening, or cooking! That's when I want that hands free thing the worst. I can talk to him whilst kneading my loaves. Of bread.

A perfect little 12-volt cooler, the kind you plug into your car's cig lighter. I have a big non-electric one for my regular shopping trips, understand - if you grocery shop in Florida, your butter can melt by the time you come home. This one is for my little road trips, for drinks and a sandwich, like that.

He didn't bring me any digital cameras this time - he got one for himself, finally! It's the size of a credit card. For real. Only slightly thicker is all. And it takes very good pix. This cost all of $25.00, deep discount sale.

He fixed a big armoire I picked up last Bulk Day; it was a matter of putting its doors back on. It's a bit battered, but for my storage purposes it's great. It would pass for actual furniture to many.

He did some serious and thoughtful Yard Work Admiration, and gave me the input I wanted on plant arranging in his Western Garden and in the front yard.

A year or so back, he had shoulder surgery and was home for 15 months. I got kind of used to having him around. Maybe one day, in the not too distant future, we'll find a way to keep him hanging around at home again. We'll see.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Back on Board?

It seems like every weird thing that can happen between AOL, Norton, and Blogger HAS been, lately. I THINK I'm back online now.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Walter Walter! I was a GOOD Girl!

So a FEW fire ant stings won't kill me. So far, anyway.

I'm back, I'm back, and I already potted everything I swiped today.

I did! I really did it!

Up till now, I've been raiding supplies rather than plants. Well, a few plants. But lots and lots of supplies. About 6-10 big yard trash bags each visit. Mostly this is empty pots, and plant trays and things.

Today, for the first time at this particular place, I came home with mostly plants.

And being more or less caught up with my other rescue plant potting, I could do them all up today.

Really, it's hard to express what this means. Ever since Wilma I've been working my disabled ass off, as best I can, trying to keep us all a tiny bit greener, a tiny bit more alive, than we would be otherwise. Every day that went by without me finishing meant that one or two more of my would-be rescues would die.

They would ALL die if I didn't bring them home. I know this, and I refuse to feel guilty about the ones that don't make it. I was hoping for at least 50% of them to survive, unpotted, until I could get to them. And my survival rate turned out more like 80-90%. It's fabulous.

But it still feels better to know I'm finally there, and can try for 95% instead.

I was a VERY good girl!

Nefarious Once Again

I firmly instructed myself: No more defunct nursery raids until the rescue plants in my yard already are all potted up!

I am immensely satisfied to say, I'm so close to the end it don't count. One day of odds and ends, then I start on the epis.

Meaning, I'm now *legit,* in my thinking, for another raid. An assault at dawn. The sun is just rising right now, this is the moment of sunrise...and time for me to fly.

If I don't post again by 4PM eastern, then y'all can send out a search party. They may need special Fire Ant Suits.

Wish me luck!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

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I like flowers.

The first three pics are the orchid tree. All those buds are opening up. It's trying to make up for the lost blooming time, when the hurricane came and split it in two.

It's hard to remember that just a few months ago, it was a 5' tall, totally denuded piece of trunk.

The blue flowers are Queen's Wreath. This never bloomed for me before, first time here. Several of my neighbors tell me they have plants that are doing their first bloom, too. All different kinds of plants, some fairly old.

Hurricanes can be such an inspiration.

Posted by Picasa Bleeding Heart.

The bougie that bit me.

Lignum vitae.

And the infamous Mango Branch.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Done and Done In

The computer work is finally done. Walter finished the day before yesterday, then he just totally crashed.

He's so allergic he can barely get out of bed.

The pollen counts are climbing, as they do this time of year. August used to be my worst time, then I'd quickly improve right after Labor Day. Now that's switched. It's the late winter pollen, which means trees, that do me in worse.

Since going on the high-dose steroids, I have a lot more function than I used to. So seeing Walter totally debilitated, while I'm still able to sneak in *outside* work time, is a little strange.

I fed him Benadryl and turned on an air machine in his room. His eyes were nearly swollen shut, his face swelled too, and he could barely form his thoughts into sentences. Cognitive disorder.

It was like seeing a reflection of myself in another human being.

Some people don't understand how allergies can be disabling. If they saw what I saw in Walter, they'd probably get it.

And there was nothing else I could do for him.

That sense of helplessness can be almost as bad as being the sick person.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rhipsalis and...???

Posted by Picasa The weird plant in the first two pix is called rhipsalis - which species, I don't know for sure. Most people call it Pencil Cactus. It's actually an epiphyte, a plant that grows on other plants. If you've been reading other posts here, you've probably gathered that I really like epiphytes of all stripes.

Rhipsalis is one that can also be grown in ordinary soil. As I go about potting up my hurricane rescue plants, I keep turning up little wonders like this. Stuff I'd almost forgotten I have. This one is the trunk and root ball of a huge mound of rhip I picked up. The thing's all of maybe 3 feet high - yet it's so heavy I almost needed Walter to help me pot it.

The plant in the second two pix is, I suspect, its cousin. But I haven't turned up a likely candidate as I surf about trying to identify it. All I have to go on, so far, is that neighbor Peter says the FL vernacular for this one is, *walkingstick.* Makes sense. Googling various iterations of *walkingstick plant* etc. only brings me info on ads for canes, a tree called walkingstick - but certainly not this - and those wonderful bugs, like the one that visited Livey last year. So if anyone knows what the hell it is, let me in on it, ok?

It cracks me up. Every time I walk by it I start to laugh again. Look at its cute little leaves! So tender, so tiny, so brave!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ringneck Snakes

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These beautiful little snakes are all over my yard. Today I caught six or seven of them, which is probably a Personal Best.

The Florida ringneck is jet black with a characteristic "bracelet" of gold around its neck. Our subspecies is one that flashes an underside that's a screaming yellow flushing to red at the end.

There's also a key ringneck, so rare it's found only on one of the Florida Keys.

They're very shy and secretive, and only come out at night. During the day they love to curl up under rocks and under bark. Since I decorate my yard with rocks all over the place, and put down pine bark in place of grass, I get lots of ringnecks. Finding them during the day is one of the great side benefits of my yard work.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Claw! It's The Claw!

I just LOVE The Claw.

The Gold Standard of Disaster Recovery, the Great State of Florida, has been seeing a lot of The Claw. It's an effective and charming technique.

The huge debris piles were picked up with the aid of little front-end loaders. They'd shove the pile together, and The Claw would grab a handful and put it in the truck.

The trash goes to one of many Mt. Trashmores dotting the SoFL landscape. The vegetation gets chipped and given away for free mulch.

Unfortunately, we got so much of it that they've been forced to burn a lot of it, too. A few fires have gone out of control. Oh well.

As we continue to chainsaw away, trimming or taking down trees damaged by Katrina and Wilma, we'll get to see The Claw in action for some time to come.

This is across the street from BB's house. I was working in the front yard, weeding, waiting (in vain) for the Cable Guy, as Walter required a nap. When I realized the big truck with the inexplicable Queen Palm hanging out the back had stopped and was about to load up a pile of wood, I ran for the camera...just as BB was looking out her front door, wishing she had a camera.

It's so nice when stuff comes together like that. Posted by Picasa

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Snow on the Mountain

The plant on the right is a little sprig of Snow on the Mountain growing at BB's house. It's a spreading shrub that makes leaves all white and pink colored when they first come out. It's very pretty. Unfortunately, it has a demon of a pest - a certain butterfly's caterpillars will munch it to the stalk, then eat all the bark off. Our Snows have been absolutely decimated lately. Posted by Picasa


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I like this license plate.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Approaching the Finish Line

This morning, I'm sitting here in my home office surfing and blogging away to my heart's Walter does the same, sitting at the kitchen table. He's on his laptop. I'm on the newly re-energized home computer. Neither one of us is connected to stuff by any wires: I'm using the wireless keyboard, and he's on wifi.

How he accomplishes these technological miracles I'll never know. Which fact doesn't diminish my gratitude one tiny bit.

He tells me there are still some things for him to do before it's really done. So I'm heading on out to the yard, content as can be.

And sending my best wishes for a fine morning to all y'all out there, too.

Milosevic is Dead

I'll let this article speak for itself.

Milosevic dies in prison cell

(CNN) -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in his prison cell in The Hague, Netherlands, according to the United Nations war crimes tribunal. He was 64.

An official in the chief prosecutor's office said Milosevic was found at about 10
a.m. and that he apparently had been dead for several hours. An autopsy will be performed, the official said.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters Milosevic had died of natural causes, but this has yet to be confirmed.

"Milosevic was found lifeless on his bed in his cell at the United Nations detention unit," the U.N. tribunal said in a statement, according to Reuters.

"The guard immediately alerted the detention unit officer in command and the medical officer. The latter confirmed that Slobodan Milosevic was dead."

The tribunal said the Dutch police and coroners were called in and started an inquiry. A full autopsy has been ordered. Milosevic's family has been informed, it added.

The former Serbian president had been on trial since 2002 on 66 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

He had been held at the Hague since 2001 when he was transferred from the Serbian capital Belgrade following his overthrow in 2000.

Milosevic had suffered a heart condition and high blood pressure which had repeatedly interrupted his trial in the Hague.

The U.N. Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993.

The 66 counts included Milosevic's role in the fighting that plagued the disputed Serbian province of Kosovo and the civil warfare that erupted in Bosnia and Croatia after the fall of Yugoslavia.

Ethnic strife raged in Yugoslavia's six republics as the nation began to dissolve after the fall of communism. Milosevic's trial began February 12, 2002.

Milosevic was defending himself against allegations by authorities that he backed and sometimes authorized violence by Serb forces.

He faced charges of crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war and genocide, a charge emanating from the Bosnian conflict, in which thousands of Bosnian Muslims were killed or chased from their homes by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. (Read about charges being filed in those massacres)

Milosevic pleaded not guilty to all counts, saying that he wasn't responsible for ordering killings and rapes. He could have been sent to prison for life if found guilty.

The prosecution closed its case in February 2004, and Milosevic was given six months to prepare his defense, which began in August 2004.

His defense focused solely on the Kosovo indictments, seen as the most potent because Milosevic was directly in charge of the Serb-led troops during the fighting in Kosovo, a majority Albanian area key to Serbian identity.

The former Yugoslav president had called 48 witnesses to back up his arguments. He requested more time for witnesses, but was denied.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

Find this article at:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Computer Update

Walter gave me a few minutes' computer time before he kicks me out. Here's an update to hold me while I'm offline again.

So far, a wonderful new wireless mouse and keyboard are installed. Yes - a wireless KEYBOARD. Microsoft Wireless MultiMedia Keyboard 1.1. Will wonders never cease. No more knocking papers to the floor with the wires as I pull it onto my lap! And it's a nice comfortable one to use.

The house computer has been on its last legs for around two years now. We got it in 2000. Walter's skill in babying it along has kept it going way past its time. But it's been awful to use lately.

k needing a laptop anyway, we got that too. It's a Gateway AMD Turion 64. A *Gateway MX6421 Notebook PC.* If the house computer croaks before we're ready to replace it, I'll have a backup to use.

Meanwhile, Walter is doing something mysterious with some other thing to maybe keep us from needing a house computer at all. He'll have to stand here and tell me what it is for me to post about it, tho. more computer post from a technophobe non-sophisticate. Hoping I might amuse all y'all computer savvy types with this here.

All told, this came to $968. Some fine shopping by Walter there. Does k, broke as usual, have that just laying around? No. Except for the bits and pieces of money she's been squirreling away from housekeeping funds.

Save your money, folks. Even if it's only $1 or $5 here and there, save it. No matter how broke you are or if you're behind in your bills, save at the same time. I used to do that when I was young. I don't know what happened. But as I sit here typing on this wonderful new keyboard today, I sure am glad I started to do it again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Down for the Count

But not out. We now have a working keyboard and mouse. Many arcane activities will be taking place here as Walter Does Stuff. Back soon. Hang tight y'all...

Sunday, March 05, 2006


This is the NE corner of my yard. The big ol' twirly composter is from a time when we had money to spend on such foolishness.

Not so foolish, as it turns out. See, granted, it's so hot and humid down here, your yard trimmings and such will decompose in a matter of weeks, not months. (This state of affairs is well known to your CSI types, and much lamented.)

So you don't need a spinning composter that keeps everything well oxygenated and mixed and so forth. You don't need to stack it or layer it any special way, or even water it unless it's unusually dry. Just dump it in a pile, come back a month or two later, and except for a few big sticks, you're good to go.

One problem with compost is rats. And especially since the hurricane, that's been a problem all over South Florida.

So what I have here is a vermin-proof composter I can put my kitchen waste in. Orange peels, eggshells, coffee grounds. The little nasties can't get in there for nothin. heh heh!

The sticks and leaves can go on like usual. Vermin aren't interested in those.

So here was this NE corner of the yard, out by the composter. It's been overrun with Snow on the Mountain plants. Pretty, yes, but they've been getting chewed to death by caterpillars. There were also several stumps from some old shrubby type trees I've been chainsawing away for years now.

And it just seemed to me that it was time to take those stumps out. I'm usually pretty laissez-faire about stumps, but these have been irritating me by getting full of ants and getting in my way. I need more space for plumeria. And for cactuses.

So out they went. Neighbor Peter told me I woke him up yesterday morning, he could feel the earth move as I hacked away.

Getting out stumps can be one of the most satisfying yard activities on offer.

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