I can now add skunk to our list of critter visitors!  It was dusk and rainy, and it was probably checking out the food I had put out, while wandering across the yard.  This was no ordinary skunk–it was a Jewish skunk!  It was pure black except for a perfect white “kippa” (“yarmulke”) on its head!  No visible white stripes.  I’ve never seen a skunk like that.  It looked young, so maybe not quite developed yet.  It was hard to get good photos from the window, but these are my best shots.  You can just make out the white cap.

Skunks are very beneficial to the environment.  They’re nocturnal, omnivorous, and eat lots of harmful bugs and rodents.  They won’t bother you unless you approach them and don’t back off.  I’m excited when any native species makes an appearance, because it tells me I’m doing the right things to attract wildlife, which helps restore habitats to their intended balance and order.


Braving the Unmasked Masses

Well, we did it–we braved Lowes, even as TN is obliviously opening up to business while the case toll climbs.  There were essential supplies we needed, and we had a game plan to get in and out expeditiously.  The parking lot was packed, and I’d say maybe 1/3-1/2 of customers were wearing masks and distancing.  Employees were not wearing masks.  Lowe’s was all out of masks, gloves, and Lysol, so somebody is using them.  To inject themselves?

Our checkout guy was looking forward to businesses opening up so crowds would thin out?  He looked exhausted.  Funnily, two different (maskless) customers approached me closely in the garden section, thinking I was an employee–I don’t think it was my mask and gloves that gave that impression.  Was it my horticultural swagger?  One said I should work there!  I don’t think so.

Anyway, we take our lives in our hands, literally, each time we go out, because Tennesseans are clueless trumpers.  The more the state opens up, the more at risk we all are.  I guess they’ll have to learn the hard way, and take some of us with them.  While we wait yet another 14 days to see if we got infected, at least necessary projects are getting done.  E is installing a new bathroom sink/vanity.  And yet more flowers are cheering us on.





I’ve read about it, seen it in the news, but OMG when it’s right in your face, it’s mind-boggling.  No, not the virus.  I’m talking about cognitive dissonance, or the ability to hold two completely opposite and opposing opinions or attitudes in your mind at the same time, and see absolutely no contradiction, because it would mess with your whole world view if you allowed reality in.

Our neighbor who lives behind us (on a different street, but adjoining our property) and I were talking over the fence yesterday.  We were having a friendly conversation about gardening and other neighborly mutual interests.  She was all, social distancing, masks and gloves, too soon to go back to business as usual, Drs. Fauci and Birx are great, and so on, so far so good.  She’s a nurse, so has some idea of the dangers of minimizing this pandemic–you would think.  I thought, oh good, another reasonable person.

Then in the next breath, she exclaims what a wonderful president trump has been!  I had to keep my jaw from hitting the ground.  I thought I was hearing things.  HOW…?  No, she was not joking or being sarcastic!  She backed it up with nonsensical, false statements.  It was like she lives in a different universe.  No concept of the extreme contradiction of that belief and the facts.  There it was, firsthand–this is how trump came to power and will continue to be dangerous to all of us.  Mindless, hypnotized people in denial, living in a vacuum, believing what they want to believe.

After politely differing and mentioning a few key counter points, trying to appeal to her nurse side, I saw it would be useless to pursue this line of conversation; she was a trumper.  We agreed to disagree, in a friendly manner, and went about our business.  Maybe I planted a tiny seed of doubt, but I doubt it.  It disturbed me for the rest of the day.  This is the mentality we’re surrounded with.

This is Tennessee, after all.  The same TN that’s opening up for business as usual as I write, despite the sharp rise in cases.  When all these right-to-death-ers get sick and spread the virus, will they realize what nurses and doctors have been up against for months, or how their behavior affects all of us?  Or how their wonderful president has obstructed controlling this pandemic from the very beginning, and obfuscated the issues, for his own selfish purposes?  No, in their narrow delusional reality show world, he’s a hero, because he says so.

Sorry, sometimes the absurdity gets to be too much to not vent.  The mind is blown.  We will now return to your regularly scheduled garden-and-cooking show.

Here is one of E’s infamous savory pies, in this case sort of a breakfast pizza version.  And a few flowers that caught my eye.  Yesterday I planted some of my eggplant and pepper plants, and some yellow squash seeds.  Today we mowed, just in time for more rain.


Waiting It Out

Early this morning in the rain I spied my beans, zucchini, and corn just barely poking out of the soil.  Just a few hours later, they’ve doubled in size and quantity.  My “salad bar” bed and flower seedlings are also progressing.  This cool rain is just what the plant doctor ordered.

Happily, I think my passiflora (native passion flower) is finally coming up, which I’m excited about.  In fact, many seeds I was losing hope in seem to be germinating after all.  Once again, nature demonstrates persistence and resilience, if we just be patient.  Much like waiting out a deadly pandemic and not jumping to hasty conclusions.

Here is yesterday evening in a sunshower; I was hoping for a rainbow shot, but I missed it.

And your daily dose of flowers, including a good one of the native columbine, which not only survived, but multiplied.


Our little “prairie” is officially a micro-forest-in-the-making.  There are so many native trees coming up, I’m going to have to cull some, but they’ll all find a suitable home around here somewhere.  It’s not as if we don’t have the space.  I may not live to see the forest, but at least I’ve got free trees!  Nature just needed a little time and patience to start restoring order. Even this caterpillar, perhaps considered to be a “bad” sort, is busy playing a part, whatever that is.

In addition, it looks like almost all the native wildflowers I planted in the field last year are starting to come up!  I’m especially happy about all the various milkweed species for attracting pollinators.  Plus a lot of volunteers like goldenrod appear to be taking over.  Between those, and the native grasses, they may eventually crowd out the invasive honeysuckle vines.  It’s gratifying working with, not against, nature, and seeing the effort pay off.

My evil plan to lure ravens ever closer in is working.  I’m taking raven language lessons from them, which perplexes them no end!  I’m probably insulting their mother.  One day I’ll get it right.  Braak Nevermore!

Here are more perennials putting on a show.



It’s like sensational tabloids, every time trump opens his mouth–it’s unbelievable that anyone, let alone a president, could come up with such crap.  Why not inject himself with disinfectants, to demonstrate how that works!  Maybe his stupid followers will try it out.  Or not, because they’re too deep in denial about the virus.  It would be perfect standup material, if it weren’t so disturbing.  But enough of that.

These are some Indian-seasoned baked sweet potatoes I made.  They’re savory and spicy instead of sweet.  And here are some erev flowers.

Here’s what’s blooming right now.  And it’s raining again.  Yay rain!

Silviculture in the Rain

Silviculture: the growing and cultivation of trees.  How is it I never knew this word?

Trees and flowers look so much better in the rain.  I’m especially happy to see my baby native trees thriving.  If you squint, you can imagine a forest.

Also, I can’t get enough of these columbines and other perennials that are finally taking over.  It pays to be patient.  I still have hope that my other native wildflowers will eventually germinate and spread.

Quarantine Homesteading

The friends I’m talking to online are all rediscovering the “lost” arts of cooking and gardening along with us during this lockdown.  We’re all finding “new” (old) ways to live sustainably.  It’s like we’re all homesteading alone together.

Hopefully some of these positive habits will linger on long after this is over.  Now if we get to the point where we’re making homemade toilet paper, we’ll know we’ve gone off the deep end.  It could come to that, if we don’t continue to persevere with sheltering in place and social distancing.  Jobs and entertainment won’t help us if we’re all dead.

Speaking of culinary arts, here is E’s latest fabulous homemade-from-scratch pizza (dough and all).  It even had anchovies, which we both love!  Also fresh homegrown oregano.  Trust me, it was good.  Soon I hope to be providing all the veg components myself.

To that end, yesterday I planted my tomato transplants in the main veg bed and my newer bed, pictured here.  I’m growing beefsteak, homestead, san marzano, and cherry roma.  I knew it was going to be raining today, to help them along.  Next up will be my eggplants and peppers.  Farther south, they’re getting more tornadoes and severe weather, so once again we dodged that bullet.

And of course, here are your obligatory flowers.  It’s starting to look very cottage garden around the house, which is my evil plan.  You’ve probably gathered by now that “manicured” or “formal” are not in my vocabulary.  It goes against everything I believe in.  The wilder, the better.  Just be glad I don’t do selfies.

What Would Van Gogh Do

(It’s a rhetorical question.)  Quarantined with a rainbow of irises?  It turns out I’m no artist, and not much of a writer, but irises I’ve got!  I guess amateur photography will have to suffice.  And repetitious posts in praise of irises.  And all the other flowers.  I just planted sunflowers, so VG would approve.

I confess we braved no man’s land again (with our hazmat accessories on) to restock on (medicinal) booze and some other essentials to hold us (i.e. me) for the months ahead.  It was like a ghost town out there, with virus precautions in place at many businesses, but we still have a long way to go here to get on top of this.

If stupid people feel inconvenienced, they can go assist exhausted health workers dealing with COVID casualties, and see how liberated they feel.  Meanwhile all normal life as we knew it is collapsing due to the criminal negligence of our idiot-in-chief.  A fungus would do a better job of leadership.  Sorry, sometimes it just slips out.  😀


HomeEc Q-Style

Hopefully another baby boom won’t come out of this lockdown, but certainly many reinventions of old recipes will!  Case in point–E tweaked her famous savory Italian pie into a new, improved version yesterday.  I can’t reveal all the secret ingredients, but not to worry–we haven’t resorted to road kill or soylent green–yet!  Actually, it was excellent as well as creative.

At the store the other day, I noticed the dry beans and rice section was almost wiped out, which indicates that people are having to relearn how to cook more cheaply and healthfully from scratch, after having gone through all the convenience foods.  Just another way this misfortune could have an upside.  Imagine, spoiled Americans having to learn to cook the way developing nations (or poor Americans) have been doing for millennia.  Speaking of rice and beans, I feel a Mexican meal coming on.

Meanwhile, the boss (Misu) has been creatively rediscovering more elevated lairs during her permanent lockdown.  Here she is looking down upon me from the printer paper box up on the file cabinet.  She has made a very amiable, if ornery, cellmate.

Last night we got almost an inch of rain, but fortunately not the violent tornadoes, hail, and t-storms that the deeper south got slammed with, a repeat of Easter Sunday.  This time the storm front mostly missed TN altogether.  Today it’s a beautiful spring day, with veggies popping up all over, and more to be planted in the next few days.  More on that later.