Steam Power

I was melting just standing outside, it’s so steamy.  It’s all I could do just to water stuff and prune out more cicada damage.  They really did a number to the trees.  But the buggers are definitely on the way out.  Yay.

So it’s back to cleaning out closets and thinning out belongings.  Happily, the giveaway, recycle, and trash piles are growing by the day.  The way I like it.

Here are some of the highlights of outdoor happenings.  The first of the balloon flowers (Platycodon) opened, always a cheery event.


Sweat Lodge Days

It’s headed for the muggy 90s the next few days, and it feels like a sweat lodge already.  And yes, I do know first hand what a sweat lodge feels like.  All you can do is jump into an icy stream after that, or lacking a stream, AC.  Which I never take for granted.

Here are the latest finds out in the sauna.  The flowers are loving it, anyway.  The purple coneflowers (Echinacea) have started blooming.  Black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia) are open en masse, as are many squash blossoms.  I never get tired of the exotic-looking passionflowers (Passiflora).  The whole veg garden is full of volunteer marigolds and other flowers.  The leaf is sycamore (casualty of cicadas).  I’m glad I at least get to enjoy a summer of all these and more (minus cicadas), before we leave.


Sorting It All Out

It’s been raining on and off for days, so in between drops I planted my new annuals, and some herb and veg seedlings, cleaning up the landscape as I go.

Mostly, I’m working indoors on sorting and moving stuff around so E can get at various repair projects.  I’m downsizing belongings in the process, a good feeling.  Can’t take it with you, even to Ohio.

Letting go is a tricky process, much simpler in your mind than in fact.  It’s easy to let yourself get attached to your ownership, your “territory”, future plans, a false sense of security.  In fact it’s a bitch constantly worrying about maintaining a house and property, and paying for it, only to have someone else inevitably take your place.  That aspect of it I won’t miss at all.  It was getting to be too much.  This is a good opportunity to let go of unnecessary stuff, travel lighter, and be more realistic.  I have to stop wondering if the new owners will tear out everything we accomplished.  Not our problem.  It’s just one of those existential challenges of being human in the developed world.


Brood X Making Way for Normal Bugs

I don’t know the science behind this phenomenon, but for some reason there were very few of the usual suspects of insects, butterflies, and even birds around while the cicadas were in prime time.  It’s like they were all hiding out from the scary zombies.  Now that the latter are starting to wind down, suddenly within a day or two, I’m finally seeing bees, butterflies, pollinators, and my old “craven” friends.  During the peak of it, all I saw were herds of horny rabbits, and a young groundhog hilariously climbing up and over a tall fence!  I never knew they could do that.  Freaks.

The other day I saw my first respectable butterfly of the season, a blue and black one.  Yesterday I caught pollinators on most of the flowers I was photographing.  There are flocks of birds everywhere, hopefully eating cicada corpses.  Best of all, I haven’t been hearing the constant deafening shriek of cicadas.  Honestly, between the racket, the stink, and many young tree limbs broken by their activity, I won’t miss them.  Their “mulch” lingers on to remind me.

It’s been raining and muggy like a rainforest for days, with more to come.  Good excuse to work on indoor sorting and packing.  E continues to repair and paint.  We’re starting to have more boxes than furniture, a sure sign we’re at the point of no return.

Once again, I hang my head in shame to include some of the latest annual infiltrators, but whatever helps sell the place.  I have to admit they’re aesthetic, and of course most of them die in the end.


Record Heat Wave in the North

Here’s a freakish climate change effect–right now, there’s a record heat wave across the entire north, from the upper midwest to northernmost New England, like 20° above normal, into the 90s and 100s, while down south here, it’s relatively cool in the 80s.  In southern CA right now it’s even cooler, in the 70s.  Go figure.

Still, even for nature-loving me, the humidity after all the rain is making it feel almost intolerable out, so I can just imagine how northerners are freaking out.  It didn’t stop me from taking these flower photos, though.  Two of each = doubly pleased at my achievement.  I included a shot of a purple eggplant flower.

Misu, on the other hand, is smart and knows how to weather the heat, demonstrated here.

I must confess to being an utter sellout traitor.  Today at Lowes I sunk so low as to buy [gag] annual flowers!  My lame excuse is I’m staging the landscape for eventual sale.  It will look pretty as a hooker enticing customers with instant gratification.  How far I’ve fallen!  I should be shot!  But you do what you gotta do.

Black Hole Hollyhocks

We seem to be entering a rainy spell, which is “our” (flora + me) favorite!  I’m still feeling a little “under it”, so that works out perfectly.  I’ve been spending some time boxing up belongings and shredding the bottomless pit of papers.

I also have another exciting first for me–the black hollyhocks finally bloomed, after a couple of years of trial and error.  I’ve been waiting with anticipation, and they did not disappoint.  And by black, I mean literally sucking-all-light-into-a-black-hole black.  Not dark purple.  Very impressive.

Many of my tomatoes, peppers, squashes, and now even an eggplant are flowering, which means hopefully some food will follow!  It’s not an automatic given, around here.  You really have to work hard against all the handicaps to get results.  Sometimes I feel like giving up, but I’m too stubborn.

Here is your daily dose of misc. flowers.


Tardigrades in Space! (and Glow-in-the Dark Squid)

I just had to say it–Tardigrades in Space!  SpaceX just launched 5,000 of the little buggers (and some baby glow-in-the-dark squids) on a trip to the international space station.  I’m actually terrified of these microscopic nightmare creatures, but they would make a great cheesy monster scifi movie.  Radiation + indestructible/bioluminescent critters=fill in the blank!

Closer to earth, here are the latest garden finds, including the first St. John’s Wort (Hypericum) blooms, more passionflower opening, orange butterfly weed going crazy, and the latest homegrown salad.  It’s raining again, which is great (for our water bill, too).  I realize many of these flowers are not native, but at this point, I’m just happy to leave a diverse flower garden behind.  Less chance the next owners will destroy it all.

Cicadian Daleks

I’ve been under the weather again, just in case anyone missed me.  Conveniently, it was raining while I was under it, so the garden got much-needed water without me.

Today it’s hot and sunny, and flowers are booming.  As for myself, not so much.  Still, I’m happy when they’re happy.

I’m a bit pissed about the cicadas killing off so many of my young tree branches, though.  Damn buggers.  I’ll be glad when they bug off.


Boxing It Up Again

After conferring with our RE agent, and considering the possibly narrow window of this unique seller’s market, we’ve decided to try to move up our time frame for getting the house and property ready for sale.

Accordingly, we’ll be getting more serious about expediting our house repairs and packing process.  To that end, we have a new mountain of boxes awaiting contents, and our work cut out for us.

These photos are a just a few of the many I’m sending our agent for our file.  Anybody want a house and garden in TN?



Passiflora Birth Announcement!

I’m happy to announce my first native passionflower (Passiflora) ever!  This is a big deal for me, having despaired of my one plant coming back, but did it ever!  Vines took over half the sun perennial garden, and buds are forming all over.  I just can’t get over how such a hardy native can look so exotic and striking.  Or how I was able to grow it.  I mean, look at it.  I even posted two shots, just because.  Nature is such an artist.

The native orange butterfly weed (a milkweed) is starting to bloom, another plant I thought hadn’t made it back.  Other natives and perennials are starting to do their stuff, too.  It’s bittersweet, because I had hoped to stick around and get to see them all come up and spread, but I’m happy to know they’re getting established.  Maybe the next buyer will appreciate them as well.

Speaking of which, our real estate agent just did her first preliminary visit to get an idea what we’ve got and advise us on how to proceed.  She’s not sure how long this seller’s boom will last, but she’s confident we’ll make a little money off it.  It was nice to see a familiar face after all this time, though the circumstances aren’t the happiest.