Fun with telephone wire

30 08 2009

Dragonflyface

Dragonfly-aerial2

Dragonfly-top

New Wings





Weeks in Review: Working, Painting & Gardening

29 08 2009

Working

As my dear friend Dori reminds me, I’ve only made three posts for August. I had hoped to make smaller, more frequent posts over the past few weeks, but my brain and body have been too exhausted to do much at all.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: A full keg of beer weighs about 165 lbs.

Over the past two weeks AJ and I have hoisted approximately 65 open kegs (averaging 83 lbs. each) and have shoved around at least as many full kegs. AJ has a back injury, so I do as much of the lifting as I can manage, on my own. I estimate that I have moved at least 16,087.5 lbs of beer since I last posted. In addition, I have weighed thousands of bottles of liquor and hoisted dozens of cases of beer and liquor. Then, I sit down and do some brain taxing math and detective work for two to three hours per day. All the while, I am wishing that I could just take pictures and write about fun stuff; but I’m so drained by the time I get home that I promptly fall asleep by 2:00pm. Then I wake up, figure out what to do for dinner, surf the net and hit the sack again.

That’s my excuse for being so remiss. It’s also about as much as I’m going to make you read, because the bulk of this post is comprised of pictures.

Thanks to Dori and her coworkers for keeping me motivated to post. You are a true inspiration!

Things are happening so fast in the garden that most of these photos are already outdated. I do plan to get out there and do some major overhauling tomorrow. I’ll do my best to post an update afterward.

Painting

AJ has been working diligently on our little Boston Whaler in order to make it a user-friendly flats boat. He built seats with rod holders as well as a new hatch cover. Combined with some mechanical improvements and a good cleaning and waxing the boat is ready for anything. As a matter of fact, he is out fishing right now. Last evening he caught a giant trout (which he claims measured at least 30″). I have put in a request for a slot-sized fish that he can actually bring home and cook up on the grill.

He “commissioned” me to paint an anchor hatch cover containing certain subject matter (namely a snook with a bamboo border). About halfway through the painting, we both decided it should have been less complicated. Too late, I was under time constraints and already sick of painting that piece, so it is what it is. He has already prepped a backup cover so that I can paint a redfish on it and he can change it out depending upon the season. He is now telling people at the boat ramp that his wife is “A local artist”. I love that man (even if he does take unflattering pictures of me when I’m not looking).

Painting

Finished, and clear-coated by our neighbor.

Sebastian Inlet Snook

Installed

Aerial-Hatch

Ready for fishing. (Wish AJ would have cleaned out the leaves before shooting.)

Aerial-Boat

Gardening

Today was the first time we’ve gotten any real rain in ages. The past two weeks have been extremely dry and I have been watering every day.

Aerial-Oasis

Our first wild bananas.

Bananas

Beans

Beans

Hoverfly

Hoverfly

Poblanos

Poblanos-Close

“Pocket Pepper” almost ripe.

Pocket-Pepper-Ripening

Sunflower

Sunflower

Amaranth or “Callaloo”

Amaranth

Seminole Pumpkin Squash that I planted. This poor plant has suffered severe insect and caterpillar attacks.

Seminole-Pumpkin-Squash

This Seminole Pumpkin Squash sprouted from a discarded seed in the compost heap, turned garden bed. Notice how green and healthy this one looks? I also have beans, bananas and some mystery cucumber or melon vines growing here. Either the soil is toxic and repelling pests or so rich that the plants can fend them off.

Compost-Volunteers

View of our lot from the road.

Front

Papaya tree growing in leaps and bounds.

Papaya

I seem to be an expert caterpillar rancher. Here is a tomato horn worm finishing off what’s left of the tomatoes. I gave up and let the bugs have these, since they are all but gone. I do plan to save a small section of the plant and see if it will pick back up in the fall. Hopefully, I will have some organic, bacterial caterpillar killer by then (B.T. Kurstaki).

Hornworm-CU

The Oasis

Oasis

O2

O2

Here is “Tomato Alley” on “The Back 40”. I built this nifty trellis from bamboo. The tomatoes are all but dead. However, I have buckets of basil. When it cools down I hope to have tomatoes etc. covering the trellis.

Back 40 CU

As illustrated by my prolific compost heap volunteer tomatoes and the vibrant volunteers sprouting there now, I seem to have the best success with things I don’t try to grow. Here is another example:

I bought the biggest, most beautiful green pepper from the local produce stand. I tossed the heart, only to realize later that the seeds were sprouting. I planted the thing in a pot and didn’t hope for much. The seedlings have subsequently been moved and replanted many times. when I got them into O2, they went wild. Someone told me that store-bought peppers were not likely to produce viable seeds. These seeds didn’t know that because I’ve currently got five plants with 7 or 8 good-sized peppers growing up fast.

This is unequivocally the greatest success of my summer gardening efforts! If anyone wants seeds from this (or any other of my plants) let me know. I’ll be happy to share.

GP-Big





A Baby Squirrel and a Little White Lie

14 08 2009

Please read the text before scrolling down.

Something I’m about to tell is you not true. Read the next paragraph, look at the next two photos and try to figure it out.

I rescued a dear little squirrel this week. AJ found him, separated from his mother, emaciated and inches from death. Although we were working, I scooped the little baby up and fed him some half & half. Once he got a few drops of liquid in and got warmed up (he was cold to the touch), he began to move around and look for a place to hide.

I brought him home, and inside (despite AJ’s directive that he remain outdoors). He was so cute and helpless that I couldn’t imagine letting him fall prey to cats or fire ants.

Isn’t he adorable? Although I didn’t give him an official name I did call him “Little Sweetie”.

Baby-Rat2

He stayed with us for two days, as I arranged placement with a person who does small animal rescue and rehabilitation. Although I would have loved to raise this cute little squirrel and release him in our yard, I knew this was impossible with my schedule, and the fact that we live in an RV. Not to mention that the cats would make short work of a tame squirrel.

He is quite smart and quickly learned the routine. I taught him to drink baby formula from a dish. Although he was very shy and preferred to stay tucked away in his washcloth nest, he would wax brave and assertive when it was time to eat. When rousted, he would run around in my hands, sniffing and nuzzling in an attempt to nurse. Once I got him used to drinking from the dish, he would go straight to it and excitedly lap up the formula. As soon as he was finished, he would try to snuggle up in my hand or his washcloth, where he would begin bathing himself until he was all clean. How adorable it was to watch him rub his tiny little paws over his face, pushing his ears forward and fluffing up his fur.

Next, I had to help him go to the bathroom with a damp piece of tissue. He was still so young that he hadn’t learned to go on his own, yet. What a way to start a life! After this routine he always went to sleep. Many times I watched him doze off in my palm as I marveled at how tiny, soft and delicate he was.

Baby-Rat4

OK, I hope you don’t hate me for the fib I have told you. Just like “Little Sweetie” washed up after every meal, it’s time for me to come clean.

AJ did discover this baby rodent on the brink of starvation. I did rescue the helpless creature and nurse it back to health. And the description is accurate, except for one detail:

Little Sweetie has a secret…

Baby-Rat5

He’s a baby rat!

Baby-Rat3

Does the fact that he has a bald tail make him any less endearing? I don’t think so. After all, a squirrel is just a bushy tailed rat with good PR.

When AJ told me he had found a “mouse” trapped in a bus tub in the stock room of one of our accounts I knew that I would be the one to rescue it. I truly expected to find a healthy mouse and release it out by the dumpster. Although I worked in pest control, and am responsible for putting contracts on the lives of many rodents, I still don’t have the heart to take their lives. My philosophy is to make your place impenetrable to creatures and deny them the opportunity to enter. AJ’s philosophy is “It’s a frickin rat!”, only he didn’t use the nice version of the word. He has since vowed to stop bringing creatures to my attention. This is one promise I hope he breaks.

When I found this little guy stretched out in the bottom of a bus tub I knew there was no way I could sentence him to death. He must have been trapped for days and seemed to have given up all hope of escaping. He put up no resistance when I picked him up and actually looked at me with such pathetic eyes that I had no choice but to help him. Although he was the size of a mouse, I knew that he was actually a baby rat. I’m fairly certain that he is a Roof Rat (Rattus rattus), also know as Tree Rat, Ship Rat, Brown Rat or Black Rat.

The sleek agile Roof Rats and their chunky, slower cousins the Norway Rats are both commensal rodents; meaning that they have evolved to live alongside humans. Although they can carry disease, smell bad and can be quite destructive, I can’t help but admire them for their intelligence and ingenuity. Lab rats or “Fancy Rats” (bred as pets) are actually the same species as the Norway Rats which cause such a nuisance when they make their way into your home uninvited.  But rats also serve a valuable purpose to the human race. Think of the millions of lives saved by these creatures and their service in medical testing. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Roof Rats are quite capable of surviving in nature, and since they are well established and are not going away any time soon, I plan to release Little Sweetie once he is big enough to live on his own. Perhaps he will make it, perhaps he won’t, but at least I can sleep easy knowing that he didn’t die a long and miserable death trapped in a plastic tub.

“Little Sweetie” washing up.

Baby-Rat1

For now, he is staying with Jessica at Angel Rats Rescue in Palm Bay. I was fortunate to find her nearby and willing to take responsibility for him until he grows up.

Jessica Botts (founder of Angel Rats Rescue) is devoted to rescuing rats and other creatures. She provides them with clean, ample accommodations where they get plenty of socialization and handling. I am certain that my tiny friend is in good hands and look forward to the day when I can pick him up and release him with more of his own kind. Don’t worry…I won’t let him go near your house:)

Follow Up:

I have been in contact with Jessica, and she has decided to keep him as a permanent resident. She has named him “Jack”.  I’ve since heard some good news that roof rats can make very fine pets. I look forward to watching his progress.

Also, if you are a fan of domestic rats or have a rat question check out RatFanClub at yahoo groups.

Follow Up #2:

Jack is a girl!






This, That and The Other Thing

8 08 2009

“Week in Review” has been out the window for a while. Let’s make this a catch-up post and see what happens from here forward. I’m making no promises.

AJ and I work together auditing liquor for bars. We save the bars many times the value of our audit fees in saved profits. Despite the fact that the service pays for itself, there are always accounts who fail to realize the value of the service, or just don’t have the gumption to use the management tools we provide. (Yes, I said “gumption”). Not long ago we lost three bar owners, for a total of 5 accounts, in a single week. Since we work together and this loss was more than half of our business, it was the equivalent of one of us losing our job. We are independent contractors, but the owner of the auditing company treats us as though we are partners. He has jumped in with us and done an intensive sales push to rebuild the client base. Things are slowly picking back up, but it has been a tough road.

The reason I even mention this is that I ran out of Atomic Grow™ right about the time we had our financial crisis. The garden budget was slashed; and even though Atomic Grow™ is very affordable and lasts a long time (due to being so concentrated) I had to put my next purchase on hold.

My blog service shows me what people search to arrive here (some pretty amusing stuff, by the way), and one of the most common searches is “Atomic Grow™”. My guess is that you’ve heard of it and wonder if it will solve your gardening problems. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty darned incredible. My best results have been with plants becoming healthier and happier overnight. After a single application they start flowering and fruiting like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve also had remarkable results with fungus. Leaf spot fungus seems to be stopped in its tracks with Atomic Grow™. “Leaf Spot” and “Tomato Disease” are two more common searches that lead people here; and I can verify that my tomatoes are still hanging on because of Atomic Grow™.  Since I’ve been out, they have gone into a steady decline. However, I think they will prove (once again) the amazing properties of this stuff, once I get back on my application schedule. I will dedicate some future post to tomatoes in particular. Aphids and other hard-bodied insects are defenseless against the direct application of Atomic Grow™. It’s not a pesticide, but it affects their exoskeleton after which they die of dehydration. Jim Shellenback of High Yield Industries (Parent company of Atomic Grow™) told me that “People get addicted to the stuff”. I agree completely, and have been anxiously awaiting the day when I could replenish my supply.

The one (and only) shortcoming of this product is that caterpillars seem to get the upper hand. I love butterflies and moths, but I do not care for most of their children! Over the summer I have fought a constant battle with Pickle Worms (Diaphania nitidalis (Stoll)), Cabbage Worms (Pieris brassicae) and Leafrollers. They do not like Atomic Grow™, but many seem to shake it off or avoid contact with it.

I have been researching bacterial control of caterpillars and was planning to get some Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.T.) to take these buggers out once and for all. Up until now I have been fighting a losing battle of smashing lepidoptera eggs, caterpillars and stems infested with Pickle Worms.

I turned over a brocolli leaf the other day and found these guys fat and happy!

Cabbage Worms (Pieris brassicae)

Cabbage-Worms

The good news is that I got a call from Rita Curry Porter at the Atomic Grow™ test gardens, yesterday. She was bursting with excitement over a product that complements Atomic Grow to eliminate insects once and for all. I have done some research and am bursting at the seams to give it a try. For now, I am going to leave an air of mystery until I have a chance to document the effects in my garden. One way or another the caterpillars will soon be gone!

AJ has been busy, despite excruciating back pain. The VA clinic assures him that his lower back damage is minimal and reversible. I don’t buy it. I get to see him suffer, and there is more going on than some minor glitch. I am pushing for an MRI and some real answers.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the photos of the process, but he tore out the old bamboo fence and built this one, using cured timber poles and a reed screen; all treated with water seal:

Fence-3

I like the way it jogs at the halfway mark. It gives us plenty of room to access the car, and additional space for the grill and smoker. He worked hard on this, and it turned out gorgeous.

Fence-2

Fence

He also finished and treated the bamboo wind chimes. They are “tuned” and sound great.

Bamboo-Chimes

It would be a full-time job were I to document all of AJ’s activities. Over the past week he has been busy building seats for the boat. To date, we have been sitting on coolers placed on the floor. This is neither safe, nor practical. The seats he built are sturdy and user-friendly. I will take some pictures of the finished product for a future post.

Making-Seats

Here is one of the seats showing the heavy-duty Velcro that holds them to the inside of the boat:

Velcro-on-Seat

Our friend Jay has a veritable orchard in his yard. We stopped by his place last week and received an abundance of mangoes, avocados and limes, all of which were delicious. Thanks Jay!

Fruit

This eggplant has me stumped. At some point in its development it became “frozen in time”. The plant next to it has produced a single, gorgeous, dark purple eggplant. Shortly after that one appeared, this specimen began to grow. It got to this size and then ceased development. The skin was streaked and had a leathery patch on the other side. When I finally plucked the thing and cut it open it had dark colored seeds, but the meat was green and smelled unripe. I don’t know what to make of this.

Bad-Eggplant

I guess I’ll wrap it up for now, as I’m on my way to pick up some more Atomic Grow™ and the exciting new miracle product.

For now I leave you with cats…indifferent, intimidating and uninhibited.

Cats





Hot Peppers (Warning: X Rated for the imaginative)

2 08 2009

It must be obvious by now that I’ve completely dropped the ball on my “Week in Review” posts. Not that I don’t want to keep up with them, just that I have an intention vs. initiation ratio imbalance. That’s fancy talk for “lazy”.

I’ve got a few photos in the camera and a couple of updates to write. Nothing earth shattering.

Right now I’m thinking about some of my dear friends who are not having happy times. I wish I could fix all of your problems and make the world give you only that which is wonderful. Instead, I will pass along some smiles, compliments of Mother Nature.

The Poblanos have been producing some fine specimens.

“Screamy”

Screamy-Ripe

“Puppy Pepper”

Cat-Face

If this one doesn’t make you laugh, then your mind is not sufficiently in the gutter.

Best suggested name, so far: “Pocket Pepper”

WTF-Poblano

I know it’s not much help, but it’s the best I can do on short notice.

Remember, you deserve the best and nothing less.

All in goodness.