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Always, I have suspected that the squirrels were responsible for my persimmons disappearing from the tree before the fruit ripened.

persimmons green-6229

green persimmons

However, it didn’t make sense because an unripe persimmon is bitter and astringent. That means it causes soft organic tissues to contract. In other words, Momma washing your mouth out with soap can’t compare to a green persimmon turning your mouth inside out. That being the case, you can understand why I questioned the possibility of squirrels raiding my persimmon tree. As I’ve seen them around the yard feasting on other edibles, none of them appear to have a stainless steel mouth.

I had a bumper crop of persimmons this year and I asked my brother, known here as Bubba, to fashion a prop that would help support the tree. The weight of all those persimmons had caused the branches to drop down to the ground. I reasoned that a prop would raise the branches off the ground making a persimmon raid a greater challenge for the squirrels or whatever critter was stealing me blind.

Bubba quickly built a prop from boards he found in Poppie’s garage.

persimmon tree prop

persimmon tree prop

A few days later, I happened to be staring out my bedroom window, for no particular reason, and caught a squirrel jumping up onto one of the lower limbs, extracting a persimmon from my tree, and scampering off with it. Now it was fact rather than suspicion.

Zorro has been no help with the squirrels.

Zorro

Zorro in the liriope

This photo of Zorro was taken July 30th. I chose not to show the other half of him because his seal point color is coming in here-and-there. Poor thing has two dark patches on each hip. You should see his feet! If they get any bigger, he’ll be able to wear my shoes. It’s tempting to take a ruler to his clodhoppers but I don’t want to give him a complex.

Young and energetic, Zorro hides in that liriope and chases anything that moves. Anything. Most of the lizards around here have stubby tails and the odd snake or two fares no better. Just last week, he pestered a Black Racer snake so bad that the snake looked like a cartoon character with an overly wide open mouth aimed at striking Zorro. But chase a squirrel? I have seen Zorro chase one squirrel. Useless cat.

I suppose the best I can hope for is a bunch of squirrels with their mouth turned inside out!

Meta is a long-time follower of my blog and we finally met in the sizzling heat of early July 2014. After her visit, I shared her wonderful idea of using clay pots to make a border for a pathway.

Even before meeting her I had shared her garden with a decorative fence built by her son.

More recently, I shared her lion’s tail growing in the compost pile. I now want to show you a few more of her tricks.

You’ve seen gardeners who paint an old wheelbarrow, fill it with showy flowers and roll it out to the front yard. Meta prefers to hide her old wheelbarrows in the back yard as plant nurseries. When two of her wheelbarrows rusted through, she painted one yellow and one green and her son put them on building blocks for height to save her gardener’s back.

For several years now, she has found the rusty holes in the wheelbarrow bed make them perfect for growing seeds, cuttings and seedlings. In the green wheelbarrow, most of those stringy plants are not green beans but future amaryllis bulbs. I gave her the seeds from my plants when she visited in 2014. She had absolutely no faith that those papery black seeds would sprout into anything so she put the seeds in pots and forgot about them. To her surprise, they sprouted and she sent me a photo. I suggested she put them in larger pots where the bulbs could easily grow larger and into the wheelbarrow nursery they went. As you can see, she stuck some flowers in to give the plantings some color for her photo. We gals just need to make things purty.

Meta two wheelbarrows-

Photo credit – Meta

According to Meta, the reddish/orange wheelbarrow in this next photo was given to her when a friend moved away. Look at the tires on it! She was hoping that leaving water in the wheelbarrow would help it rust some drainage holes for a new plant nursery but it hasn’t happened yet. Her son may need to help it along with a drill.

Meta three wheelbarrows-

Photo credit: Meta

Meta’s next idea is up there with the clay pot border for originality. I have never known of a gardener who recycled old metal shelves from the garage into a plant nursery by turning it on its side and filling it with soil. I can’t tell what that is on the front that she’s using to hold the soil in. I’m sure she’ll tell us in the Comments.

Meta shelf one-

Photo credit: Meta

Here’s the other end showing wooden stakes that are holding the shelves in place in the yard.

Meta shelf two-

Photo credit: Meta

Isn’t Meta a genius of a recycler?

IMG_1758

If you are a resident of Jacksonville, Florida, this post is for you. The Mandarin Garden Club is holding their Fall clothing extravaganza where you will find an amazing assortment of gently used clothing for everyone – men, women and children — all for a dollar an item. You will find business suits, casual, dressy, formal, workout clothing, plus sizes and more.

Beat the crowds, come early! As many as 500 enthusiastic shoppers attend this event. If you can’t make this one, the next one is in Spring 2016.

Mandarin Garden Club

2892 Loretto Road (off San Jose Boulevard) on the left-hand side of Loretto

Friday, August 7 and Saturday, August 8, 9-2 p.m.

Decorating should be a younger woman’s territory. Younger than me, anyway. Yet, I found myself in rapt, slack-jawed attention back in 2014 when I discovered LiveWellNetwork’s DIY Knock It Off! on PBS (see the videos here.) Every week, Monica and Jess took on hapless homeowners who couldn’t figure out how to decorate on a dime.

Several months ago, just after Richelle’s “new” home ownership had crossed the 3 year mark, I finally made the trip out to Middleburg, Florida (The Burg) to see it. In defense of my slovenly friendship, The Burg is in the boonies, also known as BFE or Better Fetch Essentials, like a toothbrush and an overnight bag.

As we walked into her beading craft room, I felt Monica and Jess excitedly tap me on the shoulder. It was the bold, turquoise curtain hanging at the window that did it. I had never seen anyone decorate with aqua or turquoise and mix in lime green accents. It was beautiful.

“We should paint this wall a pale aqua as an accent wall,” I suggested.  “And hang some adjustable shelves over these file cabinets.”

Richelle agreed shelves would be great.

“The shelves could be 6 inches apart – just enough for those clear plastic shoe boxes like I’ve got in my Rubber Room,” I further suggested.

Richelle pursed her lips. “I got rid of a bunch of those shoe boxes when I went to pretty boxes.”

We talked about my decorating project and settled on a budget of $200. I’m not sure Monica and Jess ever had to transform a room on $200. I had nothing to dampen my enthusiasm as I was truly ignorant of just how much those adjustable shelves would ultimately cost and it’s a cinch Monica and Jess never mentioned it.

The holidays intervened but at 10:30 on February 6, I showed up with a can of paint. She answered the door still in her jammies. I started worrying about her commitment to our painting date.  I mean, wasn’t she EXCITED to paint her wall with Jamaican Aqua?

Richelle had past experience with a paint roller but I did not. It was only after streaking her peg boards with a paint brush before switching to a paint roller that worked wonders, did I happen to mention that I had become a ripe old lady never having painted a wall inside or outside a house. You should have seen the look of undeniable horror pass across her face. She was clearly broadcasting that she would never, ever have let me loose in her house with a paint brush sopping with Jamaican Aqua if she had known this. I quickly assured her that I had watched countless YouTube videos on how to paint. I even told her about the tip I learned from Crazy Guy at the paint store about saving your wall roller thingie in a plastic bag so you could leave for lunch.

Neither Crazy Guy nor my Master’s Degree from YouTube impressed her.

“Had I known you planned to use my walls as your personal canvas,” she sputtered, I would have barricaded the door.” She always did have a caustic lip on her.

After that, I got blamed for every stray streak of paint but I want you to know the errors were not all mine.  She managed to paint over an electric socket with the roller. How do you not see an electric socket? And how does one miss seeing a giant fire extinguisher box? There was also that incident where she was outside rollering the second pegboard when one of the support ends collapsed. These “supports” were four miniature saw horses I had borrowed from Poppie’s paint shed. I heard some swearing from the back yard but I was up to my elbows in my own issues. I did peek out the sliding glass door and saw her straightening the end support only to have both the middle and other end fall, in synchronization. And with so much past painting experience under her belt, why did she not remind me to use the painter’s tape? I had an epiphany about the painter’s tape at the end of the first day as I drove back to civilization.

It’s embarrassing to admit it took us 6 hours over two days to set up, paint and clean up afterwards for ONE accent wall that turned a corner and TWO peg boards. Between us we used one ladder, one paint roller, and one large paint brush to paint the accent wall. Oh yeah, we also used one very small artist’s brush from Richelle’s personal stash to paint the edge between the wall and the ceiling. It might not have taken so long if she hadn’t been complaining so much of abuse. She claimed that every time I got tired of doing something, I’d announce that she could finish the job.

I also would have liked all FOUR pegboards painted aqua but that’s how it is with decorating. You have to let the client do it their way even when they’re wrong.

Poppie’s death intervened but last week I finished sewing the gathered curtain for her window after countless interruptions. Yesterday, we put the curtain up. I have similar curtains in my living/dining room and a bathroom but Momma made all of them. I was disappointed with my curtain for Richelle. I searched the internet for info on whether to double or triple the length of the rod but couldn’t find much. I think I doubled it when it would have been fuller had I tripled it.

The photographs aren’t the best because Richelle is NOT a morning person and I was not allowed to arrive until after 1 p.m. I never take photos in full sun because it causes what I refer to as “blow outs.” Her window gave me countless photographic headaches. Nevertheless, I now share our Knock It Off! decorating attempts.

RP shelves and curtain-6213

Standard white shelves and brackets from Home Depot
Gratefully installed by my brother

Close-up of one end of the shelves

Close-up of one end of the shelves

At the corner wall; I avoided the red and aqua fire extinguisher

At the corner wall; I avoided the red and aqua fire extinguisher

Opposite view of cabinets

Opposite view of cabinets

Peg boards on opposite side of room

Peg boards on opposite side of room

Chest of drawers she painted for opposite wall

Chest of drawers she painted for opposite wall

Wind chime-like thing hanging from ceiling on opposite side of room

Wind chime-like thing hanging from ceiling on opposite side of room

Close-up of curtain fabric

Close-up of curtain fabric

The Duval Extension Office (Jacksonville, FL) has some upcoming classes on growing a fall vegetable garden.

Plant cabbage in your fall garden

Plant cabbage in your fall garden

August 1, Saturday – “Midsummer Vegetable Gardening and Preparing for Fall.” No charge for the program. It will be held at Pablo Creek Regional Library, 13295 Beach Boulevard from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Call Jeannie at 255-7450 to register.

My seed tray from a spring class

My seed tray from a spring class

August 22, Saturday —  “How to Start Vegetables from Seed and Take Home Your Own Seed Tray.” The class is $15 and includes a soil-filled seed tray, labels and seed. It will be held at 1010 N. McDuff Avenue  from 9 a.m. until noon. The seeds you will be given are broccoli, beets, cabbage, carrots, collards, greens, kale, lettuce, snow pea, swiss chard, and radish. Plus all the information you need to successfully grow your seedlings. A variety of tomato seedlings for your fall garden will also be available for purchase. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required as they have a fixed number of trays and seed. Please call Jeannie at 255-7450 to register. Make checks payable to DCOHAC and mail to Attention: Seed Class, 1010 N. McDuff Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32254.

Don’t wait too long to sign up for these classes.

Pink and White VincaPurchased this spring from Lowes

Pink and White Vinca
Purchased this spring from Lowes
Hope this produces seeds

Coneflowers grown from seedFinally have enough of them for a decent grouping

Coneflowers grown from seed
Finally have enough of them for a decent grouping

Hibiscus/Mallow grown from ‘Luna Swirl’ (pink and white) seed
Dave’s Garden says plants will not come true from seed
It did the first year but not this year

Everyone who sets foot on my covered porch feels compelled to tell me that I have wasps nesting on my aluminum porch cover. They are usually shocked to discover that I allow the wasps to return, year after year, because they are pollinators. Don’t believe me? Will you take the feds word for it?  Then look here:

Wasp Nestapproximately 2.5 inches in diameter on porch roof

Wasp Nest
approximately 2.5 inches in diameter on porch roof

Their general reaction is, “Not on my porch!” I assure them that they can sit with me in one of my rocking chairs and not be bothered by the wasps. The wasps will fly around but as long as you don’t swat at them they will leave you alone.

This one in the door jamb of my front porch will eventually be dispatched because I don’t like them getting in the house. Again, they won’t bother me in my house but they always end up in the guest bath toilet and are hard to flush.

New wasp nest in front door jamb

New wasp nest in front door jamb

The bees who visit are more problematical. They aren’t honey or bumble bees and they don’t bother me but they do crawl around in the cat food bowls. Zorro, who is now a year old, will attack anything that moves. He swatted at one of those bees in his bowl the other day and got stung. If that bee had a nest on my porch, I would likely dispatch him for harming my baby kitty but I don’t know the nest location. I was sitting in one of my rocking chairs yesterday and watched one come in for a landing on a cat food bowl. The next thing it did I wouldn’t have believed but for seeing it with my own eyes. It scooped up one of the dry cat food crumbs and flew off with it! Who knew that bees like dry cat food?

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