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Sometimes I wonder about things.

Like tulips and cat fur. Tulips require a minimum number of chill hours in order to bloom. Do cats require similar chill hours to grow a winter fur coat?

I wonder only because my big old tom cat has a lot more fur this winter than my baby Zorro. I probably shouldn’t call him a baby. In cat years, he’s likely a teenager by now; but he’s so much smaller than the old tom.

Baby Zorro

Baby Zorro

Looking at my two cats, chill hours for fur seems possible. The old tom spends more time outside and not all of those hours on my two acres. When I try to call him in on cold nights, he doesn’t hear me, unless, of course, he’s just ignoring me. That’s another one of those things I wonder about.

The baby, however, comes in every night to sleep with Mama so he’s not getting the same chill hours and his coat is thinner. Apparently, he’s skittish when it comes to cold. When he’s had enough of it, he wails at the front door so that Mama, his butler, will let him in.

Last night, we had some serious frost. This required the butler to get out of a warm bed three times to open the door and allow the baby to feel how cold it was from three feet away. It’s a good thing he decided to go out that last time because the butler was considering toasting his hide.

Flag artist: Robin Pickens

Flag artist: Robin Pickens

I’m a huge fan of these big garden flags if they have really vibrant color. I was cruising through Wal-Mart in 2015 and this flag all but jumped off the display and slapped me to the ground. Talk about vibrant color – WOW! So I kept it for the New Year and rather than annoy the neighbors with fireworks, I’m gonna put their eyes out with my flag.

I started my New Year off with the same resolutions as last year because I didn’t finish them. Plus I sent up a lot of prayers of gratitude when I didn’t bust anything while doing a combination Lucille Ball/Carol Burnett trick with arms pinwheeling, legs going in every direction and the umbrella slicing the air. It must have been a sight to behold. Luckily, it was 7 a.m. and raining so the neighbors weren’t out to do any of that beholding. You know that gunk that builds up on concrete where the sun doesn’t reach? Yep, there’s a strip of it right down the middle of the driveway and my right foot slid out from under me too fast for a correction and I never mastered those cheerleader splits, anyway, so I wound up in a heap on the wet, concrete driveway. I’ve got a huge bruise on my left shin and all my joints were rearranged which required a few chiropractic adjustments to put them back where they belonged. Whew. Was God with me or what?

In the News You Can Use department, this NBC link will give you Chick-Fil-A’s coleslaw recipe because they are discontinuing it and replacing it with something involving kale. Now, I like Russian Kale but the rest of it they can keep so I’m just a little skeptical. Also, you fans of the 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond may want to take note that their coupons are a little too popular with the populace and may be scaled back.

You will recall from my post on Eat Your Yard Jax that I was fascinated to learn about hugelkultur. I didn’t want to toss chunks of trees in my hugelkultur plot because covering it with soil in my low vegetable garden would have been enormously expensive but I liked the idea that hugelkultur would raise my garden above the flood plain while we are in the “wet” years. I opted to experiment with a one-row version of hugelkultur using sticks and twigs from the yard that usually go out to the curb for pick up.

Fortuitously, Priss was coming to town for Thanksgiving and announced that she would be visiting with me on Friday. This put me in charge of the entertainment and immediately, the left side of my lip twisted into a smirk while a resounding pop filled the air as my horns put in an appearance. Yes indeedy, I had just the thing for my bona fide, card-carrying, architecturally licensed sister with the Master’s Degree. A little grubbing in the dirt. Hee hee.

Before you scream about me being the older, meaner sister, I did warn her to wear old clothes because I could use a little help with weeding in my veggie garden patch.  In her family, they have something called the Good Sport Award where you do something that might not really appeal to you for the benefit of another family member. And that is how I got my one row hugelkultur experiment started.

After weeding, I dug a trench with the hand plow and we tossed in the twigs:

hugelkulture with twigs-112223

Then we emptied the contents of my two compost trash cans on top of the twigs:

hugelkulture with compost-114524

I am happy to report that she was a Good Sport about helping with my experimental project. A few days later, I purchased 3 cubic feet of potting soil and added that to the top of the compost and twigs:

hugelkulture w 3 cu ft potting soil-0029

It then took me two weeks to plant my seeds — bok choy,  red and green cabbage, red bunching onions, Russian kale and tatsoi. Five days later, the bok choy looked like this (only the onions haven’t sprouted):

first bok choy sprouts on my hugelkulture-0037

I want to caution you about recipes you find on the internet written by bloggers with unknown education and experience. Basically, people like me.

I found a Toilet Bowl Cleaner recipe (hereinafter referred to as “cleaner”) on one of those natural living websites. Interested in trying less toxic cleaning products, I decided to give it a try. It was a simple recipe calling for 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of castile soap, 2/3 cup of distilled water and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide.

most of the ingredients

The blogger indicated it would make 3 cups. I prefer frugal recipes and this doesn’t qualify because Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap (Certified Free Trade) was $16.19 for 32 ounces via Amazon. That amount will make the recipe four times at a cost of $4; add the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, distilled water and this recipe is just not frugal. Another Dr. Bronner’s, without the “organic oils,” was available for $14.02 which would bring it under $4 but that’s still too much for a cleaner. Perhaps, if I had looked through all 20 pages on Amazon, I might have found a cheaper brand of castile soap.

All of this went into a 25 ounce dishwater soap bottle; 3 cups = 24 ounces, right?

I shook the bottle vigorously until the ingredients combined and the baking soda dissolved. At least I thought it dissolved. Maybe it didn’t. I got distracted and didn’t return to the cleaner bottle until the next morning. I found the cleaner bottle hideously deformed. The baking soda had separated from the other liquids so I gave it a few more of those vigorous shakes and opened the lid on the bottle. KA-BLOOM.

I picked myself up off the floor, wiped the baking soda fizz from my face and narrowed my eyes at the bottle. I couldn’t help but think that the blogger who published this concoction was guilty of foisting illegal science experiments on the unsuspecting. Just call me Gullible. Clearly, something in the bottle didn’t like something else in the bottle. I decided that stuff was never going into my toilet. It’s one thing to be blown off my feet but quite another to have a hole blown in my porcelain fixture.

It continued to foam at the mouth of the closed lid for another day or so until it had off-gassed whatever was in the bottle that didn’t like being hemmed up. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the baking soda didn’t like closed quarters but, really, I’m not a science buff. Once the off-gassing subsided, I figured it was safe to open the lid, which it was, and I gave it a squeeze in the bathroom sinks and tub. I can report that it cleans really great.

I question whether the expensive castile soap is necessary. I have successfully removed all kinds of laundry stains with just two of the ingredients in this recipe — baking soda (52 cents) and hydrogen peroxide (33 cents). It qualifies for frugal and works better than Shout, Shout Advanced and OxiClean. Pour a little baking soda on the stain, squirt it with the hydrogen peroxide and let it soak several hours or overnight in the sink or a bucket. I have removed all sorts of mysterious spots from clothing and kitchen towels. Throw it in the washer after the overnight soak and voila, no stain!

While visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Golf Cart in their backyard garden in May, I admired their wind chime. I mentioned I had always wanted one of the larger ones but, at $89, they were out of my price range. I explained that I was a dollar store kinda gal. Mr. Golf Cart said, “Bring me an old frying pan and I’ll make you one.”

Poor guy was probably joking and thinking I had no access to an old fry pan. Unfortunately for him, we were in the process of clearing out Poppie’s house. In her later years, Momma was something of a pack rat and I had no trouble finding 3 old, Teflon frying pans that should have gone out with the trash many years ago.

I gave these to Mr. Golf Cart and told him he could have two of the frying pans if he would make me one wind chime.

In no time at all, Mr. Golf Cart arrived at my front door tooting the horn on his golf cart. He wanted to know where to hang the wind chime. Can you believe such generosity? I would have had trouble trying to install something like that. I used to have more courage with saws and hammers back in my youth. Now I’m a gutless wonder.

Those of you who are fans of recycling and upcycling will be pleased that Mr. Golf Cart made my wind chime from recycled parts:

Momma's old frying pan with the handle removed

Momma’s old frying pan with the handle removed

The tubes of the wind chime were left over from a screened canopy Mr. Golf Cart had in his yard.

Frying pan with tubes below

Frying pan with tubes below

The wind catcher (the middle piece that clangs on the tubes) is from the fenders of his tow dolly, a 2-wheel trailer designed to carry the front wheels of your car while the rear wheels remain on the road.

Windchime - windcatcher-6176

The wind catcher

Windchime - windcatcher close up-6181

Close-up of the wind catcher

Only the 1/16th stainless cables, the crimpers for them, and some miscellaneous hardware was new. You can see how the crimpers work on the stainless cables in the first photo.

Delivered and installed

Delivered and installed

I was impressed beyond measure with the stainless cables because most wind chimes are made with fabric cord which rots in just a few seasons. I am now convinced that making one’s own wind chime is the way to go.

I finally got it painted in late November. I used a Rust-oleum Metallic spray paint whose lid color looked bronze. The paint looks antique gold to me. Nevertheless, this is a fine looking piece of Yard Art made for me by a fine neighbor.

windchime-0023

Cunningham purple shed 1-1988

Once again, for the benefit of residents of Jacksonville, Florida, Linda Cunningham is holding her Holiday Herbal Celebration:

Saturday, December 5 – Gates open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 6 – Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.

Cool season herbs will be on hand for purchase as well as other annuals and perennials, gifts from the garden and, oh my, don’t forget the food! Cunningham offers herbal appetizers, food and dessert so plan to stay for lunch.

Gypsy, from my blog comments, and I will be keeping each other company under her tent. She will have handmade soaps and I have two handcrafted doll cradles that Poppie made shortly before his death. Do come and say hello to us as well as all the other vendors.

Admission is free and open to the public.  As a reminder, the Holiday Herbal Celebration is held at Cunningham’s private residence. Please do not bring animals.

For additional information Cunningham’s Herbs is on Facebook or contact Linda Cunningham at 904.725.3106 or locun at att.net .

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: To get to Cunningham’s, find your way to PARENTAL HOME ROAD (PHR). From Beach Boulevard, go down PHR to Emily. Turn left. Continue on Emily down a dip in the road. Come up the dip and bear right. You are still on Emily but when you hit the curve to the left, you are on Lofberg Drive. Look for 2440 Lofberg Drive on the right.

From the Bowden Road/University side of PARENTAL HOME ROAD (PHR), take a right on Bowden and continue on Bowden to PHR. Take a left at the light (can’t go right) and continue down PHR to Emily on the RIGHT.  Yes, it’s very confusing as you will first see Emily on the left. Continue on Emily down the dip in the road. Come up the dip and bear right. You are still on Emily but when you hit the curve to the left, you are on Lofberg Drive. Look for 2440 Lofberg Drive on the right.

Meta sent me some photos for the blog because my camera died.  Currently blooming at Meta’s:

Red and yellow gloriosa lily

Red and yellow gloriosa lily
Photo by Meta

She particularly likes her purple blooming bromeliads because they bloom a few times during the year in her Zone 9 garden yet they don’t require a lot of fussing over.  She said they can take part sun, part shade, but a bit more shade. Starting out with a one gallon pot, she divided them and continued to divide them until they now fill a huge area under a palm tree. She is hoping they will spread towards the fence and if they don’t? She “will help them along to get there.” I have no idea what that means but it sounded like a threat so I decided not to ask.

Meta bromeliad -

Purple blooming bromeliads
I cropped out a lot of them because of a camper next door
Photo by Meta

Close-up of the purple bromeliad blooms

Close-up of the purple bromeliad blooms
Photo by Meta

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