Thursday, July 23, 2009

Merriam-Webster Comments on the Weather

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day
July 23, 2009



Meaning: a small amount : bit, smidgen

Example Sentence: It rained cats and dogs in the Austin area last night much to the relief of many a gardener and farmer but at my house it only rained a skosh.

Sad but true people. A few miles to the north, south, east or west of here and there were rains ranging anywhere from 2 to 10 inches. 10 inches. That may be too much of a good thing.

Here where I live? Not even enough rain to get the driveway wet underneath the oak tree canopy.

It got nice and humid and we could hear the thunder, see flashes of lightning occasionally, but really nothing happened here last night. Kind of a rain tease if you know what I mean.

The forecast is for more rain "in the Austin area" again today. It has rained all around us for days in a row now, the moisture taunting us with a "so near and yet so far" attitude. I keep hearing a weather version of the soup Nazi in my head "No rain for you!".

Time to shake a rattle at the sky, people. Maybe if we all set up our largest fans we could blow this hot dry weather over to the folks on the East Coast where they have had nothing but rainy cool days for the most part. Y'all ready? 1-2-3...Blow!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Picture This Photo Contest for July

The folks at Gardening Gone Wild have designated Flowering Trees as the subject of the July Picture This Photo Contest.

I really appreciate flowering trees and had a hard time settling on a shot to submit. I eventually chose this favorite from a couple of seasons ago, when Central Texas spent the first two weeks of a new year with daily high temperatures in the 70's. This was followed by a vicious three day cold front bringing battering rains that turned into what became an epic ice storm around the 15th of the month.
[click on the photo for a larger version]
The Redbud trees had apparently been tricked into early blooms, which appeared along branches then cruelly coated and weighted down with ice.

The ice caused quite a bit of damage and I had concerns we would lose this tree, one of our favorite Redbuds (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) out front. Even two years later it is still too soon to know if it will recover fully, especially now it is being treated to a second year of drought and extreme heat. So far so good however, and when I look out at our yard currently cooking in the heat of July, and then compare that view to my photos of the same areas coated with ice, I can only shake my head at how resolute the force of life is in these plants that share our spaces with us.

The photos submitted for the Picture This contests are often quite breathtaking. I have found cruising through the entry links one of the most pleasant ways ever to make the acquaintance of a lot of new gardeners with blogs who share my tendency to take photos of everything they are doing. Hope you'll drop in and see for yourself. Better yet, find your own favorite photo of a flowering tree and send in an entry. Don't dilly dally, the deadline for July submissions is Wednesday the 22nd at midnight.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I like to watch (everybody eats)

Hope you had a lovely 4th. We are all duly flagged, paraded, hot dogged and fire worked for the year. A bit gratefully we will return now to our regular programming minus that red/white/blue color scheme.

Although we did have an inch of rain over a 36 hour period last week which was as welcome for the cooler temperatures the cloudiness brought as for the moisture, all that is history now. Out in the rough and tumble of our garden beds the plants are strictly in "but what have you done for me lately?' mode.

What we have done for them is to manage to keep things trimmed and watered for the most part, but that is about it.Otherwise, we are mostly hanging in the air conditioned house and watching whatever is happening outside through the window, preferably with a cool drink close by.

As if heat and drought weren't enough, the few hardy plants that have survived so far are now being subject to the damage various herbivores and insects are bringing with their munching parts of all sizes.That's the way it goes out here in the semi-boonies. Life in the hills is considered a fair trade for not being in "town proper", which it mostly is if you do not take the damage caused by the wandering hordes of deer, the digging dillo's, marauding squirrels, birds and insects too personally.

I'm mostly there.

Did CanMonkeyGirl serve as an effective deterrent to keep Bambi and company from nipping the tops off the zinnia starts? Nope. CanMonkeyGirl is still cute despite the loss of one button eye that has her caught in an eternal wink, but she serves now as a slightly weird way to throw a little shade on the subject. The zinnia baby stumps have been apologized to and moved to the back deck where the deer and the antelope don't play.

My morning glory starts are in equally rough shape. One start carefully placed along a section of back fence already gave up the ghost, appallingly cooked in place although I clearly thought I'd watered and shaded it sufficiently. I thought wrong.

The morning glory vine in the front bed planter is off to a better start although it and the surrounding caladiums were all being systematically attacked by a teensy brilliantly colored grasshoppery critter. Correction: make that a teensy brilliantly colored grasshoppery critter with a voracious appetite and a huge mouth.

I did not manage to ID the culprit but speculate it is bird vulnerable because it was quite shadow shy. Whenever I leaned/loomed in for a closer look and/or attempted to capture it, once my shadow hit the plant it flung itself off into parts unknown. Given this heat, it did not take me long to call it even and retreat. The bug then returned to resume methodically gnawing all available leaves off the barely established vine. These hide and seek games went on for three days.

I never managed a photo but I did finally manage to kung fu style grab it with my hand and move it to a far corner of our lot where it can munch on something I'm not so emotionally invested in. The third remaining not so glorious start is still in its little pot where I hope to keep it safe until it reaches a size that seems more suited for the hard knock life here in Central Texas this summer.

Aside: I'd read someplace where a gardener had ripped out all her Poke plants because they came up "everywhere" after a year or so.I get that poke plants are typically considered weeds but I remain a staunch fan. Although I am noting small poke plants in more places as well, probably due in no small part to the freelance gardening effects of mockingbirds "processing" the berries they seem to enjoy, I feel encouraged by their presence rather than threatened.They hold up well even in the extremes of heat and drought, produce berries the birds love, are large and slow growing enough that I feel quite capable of staying ahead of the curve of their spread should they reach threatening proportions. The deer don't seem to like eating them and they provide an interesting silhouette and ongoing color with flowers and berry bracts, so I am sold, frankly.

Otherwise it is as I stated earlier. We are in holding mode, hand watering the pepper and tomato and basil plants, sprinklering the rest of the beds once a week as allowed by the Stage Two Drought Warning issued by Rollingwood.We are leaving the wildflowers gone to seed in place, keeping the feeders filledand trying to assure the munching parts of various hungry visitors don't actually kill anything. Through the window is not so engaging as out and about engagement, but until and unless the triple digits with no rain weather pattern breaks up for more than a day or so, that will simply have to do.

About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.