MGC dollar clothing1-1758

The area for fancy duds.

This is it, all you residents of Jacksonville, Florida! The Mandarin Garden Club is holding their last clothing extravaganza for 2016. If you need some new-to-you civvies or the makings of a Halloween costume, act fast. You will find business suits, casual, dressy, formal, workout clothing, plus sizes and most of it is only a dollar.

Mandarin Garden Club

2892 Loretto Road (off San Jose Boulevard on the Taco Bell side of San Jose) then a few feet to a left-hand turn on Loretto

FRIDAY, August 5 and SATURDAY, August 6, 9-2 p.m.


I never know what I am going to find in the yard when I open the door. This week it was wildlife.

I’m calling these egrets but, truthfully, I don’t know what they are. Their beaks are not like egret beaks. This photograph is from Monday but I noticed them again the next day when I opened my door during a monsoon. There must have been at least 30 of them standing around in the rain seemingly unphased that they had no umbrellas. If you can identify them, please let me know in the comments.

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Wendy tells me these are White Ibis and Google Images agree.
Photographed 7/25/16



Five wild turkeys right outside my front door.
Naturally, some of them didn’t want their photo taken.
Photographed 7/29/16

I’m adding the ibis and the turkeys to my list of other wildlife seen on the Southern Rural Route – bats, buzzards, Canadian geese, foxes, flying squirrels, possum, raccoons.

My friend Cee, who I’ve known for about a dozen years, has some interesting yard art.


She and her husband built this super cool bottle garden.
Mulched inside the bottles, river rocks and landscape edging outside.

Cee’s husband also acquired a hand plow, and not having a compulsion to play in the dirt like some of us, turned it into a focal point in one of their garden beds. I’d like to give that plow a wild ride through some dirt to compare it to my plow. Alas, Mr. and Mrs. Cee don’t do dirt; they cover it with grass and flowers.


Hand plow as yard art – notice the two copper pipes holding it up


These are my crockpots


How many of you are afraid to turn on a slowcooker or crockpot and leave the house? I was always afraid the crockpot might burn my house to the ground while I was at work because stuff happens to me. I don’t volunteer for stuff; it jumps on me with glee.

Once I left the 9-to-5 life, I had time to monitor bad crockpot behavior and searched the back of my pantry for a one-quart crockpot I had purchased many years before. It must have been many, many years ago because the metal body had rotted away to nothing while I wasn’t looking. On the bad crockpot behavior list, such action should be right behind torching my house. A crockpot sitting on a dry pantry shelf should not rot away. Even if it sits there for 30 years. I was going to use it someday!

This freak rust incident prompted the purchase of a 3-quart, oval-shaped crockpot by Hamilton Beach. I have cooked all manner of meals in this crockpot although I can’t recommend Crockpot Lasagna.

After a while, I was overcome with the desire for a larger crockpot. I purchased a 6-quart, shiny black, round and programmable crockpot by Crockpot. I can’t remember using it more than once or twice but I’ve got it if I need to feed the village.

Several years passed before temptation placed a third crockpot before me. It was a 2-quart crockpot for less than nine dollars. A bargain! I envisioned using it for side dishes. I could see black-eyed peas in my future.

The 2-quart crockpot went home with me. Rather than open the box, I went to my computer to look for recipes specific to a 2-quart crockpot. I was amazed. There were several websites but Pinterest had the most recipes.

The next day, problems with the new crockpot came to mind.

  1.   I had nowhere to store it.

     2.   I had a realization buzzing in my brain that there might be something wrong with me. Three crockpots? How was I ever going to explain this to Miss Priss on our weekly telephone chat? From time to time, her end of the telephone line goes silent after I have spoken. What if a third crockpot brought on the silent treatment? What if Priss began to think I was making too many Crooked Moon orbits (this is defined at Chicken News)?

In the end, I lost the courage to keep the 2-quart crockpot and returned it to the store. Do any of you have more than two crockpots? It’s time for you to confess.

Buying a used car is tricky business. We worry about the previous owner’s maintenance of the vehicle. We worry it was banged up in a wreck. We worry the car might be a lemon.

Seldom do we worry that a car was an accessory to crime (see Myrtle It’s A Haint) because it doesn’t occur to us that a car would do such a thing. Even if we select a car without suspicious stains or obvious bullet holes, it could have learned bad habits from the previous owner.

Like donuts.  I don’t have a problem with donuts. Honest. My car, though, harbors a serious addiction to them. I learned this when Krispy Kreme moved into a neighborhood shopping center.

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The first time I pulled into the opposite side of the parking lot, the car went bonkers. It was bouncing on its chassis like all four shocks had simultaneously exploded as it lunged in the direction of the Krispy Kreme.  You should try driving a  car  that is rising up on its back tires hollering “YEEHAWWW!”  It’s an experience. I promise.

As addictions go, this one doesn’t cost a whole lot. Two donuts at Krispy Kreme run about $2.18. The problem, as I see it, is the car’s insistence that I eat the two donuts. This is doing nothing for my middle-aged figure. If I could lift the hood and throw donuts at the engine, then the car, instead of me, could figure out how to slip into that little black dress.

I recently mentioned this problem to a friend of mine. She confessed that her last used car had done the same thing whenever she tried to drive past Krispy Kreme. It got so that the Krispy Kreme clerks knew her order by heart. At the point when the car tires were starting to bulge, she made the decision to cut back on her donut order. It didn’t go well. The clerk looked out the window, recognized her, and said, “Ooops, I’ve got your order wrong. Let me get your usual dozen.” When she yelled “Nooooooo, my car is on a diet,” the clerk ignored her. She got her usual dozen donuts. Free.

I offer this to you as a gentle warning. Yes, a new car loses a pile of money the minute you wheel it off the lot but the used car? You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.

Note: I had to make an emergency trip to the vacuum cleaner store on July 23rd. With a death grip on the steering wheel, I managed to drive past the Krispy Kreme two doors down from the vacuum cleaner store. The car threw a fit when I tried to drive past the second Krispy Kreme. I was given a senior citizen discount I did not know about and did not request. Worse yet, the clerk managed to ascertain my old age from behind the building and around a corner. I should have purchased a dozen donuts and stuffed that car’s mouth with them!

I promise this is a field trip you don’t want to miss.

Part 1:  Head over to Deb’s Garden here to visit the Jim Scott Garden. Her wonderful photos will whet your gardening appetite for more.

Part 2:  Now head over to YouTube to see Absolutely Alabama’s visit and interview with Jim Scott:


This video has a lot of overhead shots but no interview with Mr. Scott:



Before I left for Atlanta, I was eating bush beans out of my garden. I like the taste of bush beans better than pole beans. I instructed my brother Bubba to pick beans while I was gone. I assumed this would be a simple task since both he and my sister are smarter than me. I was wrong. I returned to string beans that would have qualified for The Guinness World Record in giant beans.

A day or so later, when both Bubba and his wife were on the property, I casually asked if they remembered to pick beans. “Yes, we got a small handful.”

“Oh, a handful? Well, you could have picked 4 handfuls. I threw a mixing bowl of beans in the compost bin because they were too big. Big beans are tough beans.”

Bubba’s wife, who is a really great cook, confessed to not knowing much about picking beans. Bubba sat there mute.

For the benefit of those who think string beans come from a can at the grocery store, this is how you pick beans.

  1. Bush bean seeds are generally planted 3 inches apart. This means the plants, at maturity, will be a mass of leaves when viewed from the top. You won’t see very many beans waving their little hands at you above this canopy. If you pick only the beans you can see, you will leave behind a LOT of beans.

Canopy of bush beans with white blooms peeking out

2.   Bush beans grow about 2 feet tall before forming the canopy of leaves. Bush beans also have a tendency to vine. These vines start at the bottom of the plant and grow outwards. Some of the vines lie on the dirt. You need to separate the canopy of leaves from every direction – north, south, east and west and look for beans. There is no central bean stalk despite the fairy tales you heard in kindergarten. For learning purposes, pretend there is a stalk. Look up and down this imaginary central stalk. You will see beans.

3.   Pick any bean that looks like a pencil — 4 to 7 inches in length and the width of a pencil although some varieties of bush beans are flatter than a pencil. I have about 4 varieties on hand right now. I pick up the seed packets at dollar stores, usually for less than a dollar.

4.   Try to pinch the bean from the vine to avoid breaking the vines. You can pinch it with your thumb and forefinger or you can use both hands.

Oh yeah. Southern peas do the same thing – make a canopy of leaves and vine.

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