Natural History Notes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

a little "weather"

in the sense of "rough weather." After a long string of hot muggy days (101° on Father's Day) we just got swiped by the tail end of a Red River storm. We had a very brief period of strong north gusts, and a not-much-longer rain. At least it has filled the rain barrel and cooled the air — it's 72° now, which is wonderful.

The radar looks like the tip end of the storm may have reached as far as Argyle. I hope so. The blackberries are coming on, but they really need a good soaking to fill out. They are pretty small now, even the few ripe ones at the ends of the clusters.

My new workers, John, Bill, and Hector, spent two days last week clearing out the prospective site downhill from Mark's studio. It was a lot of work because of the old fence buried in briars and blackberries. So far I only have one picture, 'cause my camera batteries went ker-flooey.

They also got the little freezer outside and dumped. So sad. It had, among other contents, a whole unopened turkey! And now it's getting rained on. At least, for the berries' sakes, I hope so.

Jess R. is coming at 2:30 to see about adopting Tabby-Spot. And Little Floof is going to the vet at 5 to see why she's not growing. Only 33 ounces at very nearly three months. And Tut seems to be in heat (AGAIN).

11:50 — the rain has stopped.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

saving water (and gas)

This post is not about the general subject of water conservation, though that is always a good thing. This is a very specific calendar reference for me of the dates the plumber came.

Monday he fixed the powder room toilet fill-valve and cutoff, so there is silence in the powder room, and replaced the lavatory faucet in the shower, ditto. Amy and I went to Lowe's and got a pretty decent faucet, not the cheapest, but at $42, far from the most expensive.

Tuesday he replaced Jeff's sink faucet upstairs. That had not been leaking, but Jeff had been having to turn it on and off with the cutoff valve.

Wednesday Ray came by to see about whether the exterior board under the bay window could be removed for Sawyer to get to the kitchen sink faucet, and ended up replacing the faucet himself, with a little help from me. Yay, Ray! Yay for hot water!!! Ellen will be ecstatic on Sunday.

So then today (well, yesterday by now) Sawyer came back and fixed Alex's lavatory and toilet and Stephen's sink that dripped under the drain at 610. I knew Alex's lav wouldn't shut off, but I didn't realize that what he actually meant was that the hot water ran in a strong stream continually. No WONDER the water and gas bills have been high at 610.

All fixed. Blessed silence, and still water meters. The whole thing came to about two months rent from one apartment. I think the lower bills at 610 will pay for it in three months.

Monday, June 02, 2008

flowering stinging-thorn

I spent a few minutes at Red-bird Ridge this morning, taking pictures of some of the early summer wildflowers. I have missed the spiderworts completely; the solanum, horsemint, and pincushion daisy are getting started.

The bull-nettle has been blooming for some weeks. There are still lots of white fragrant flowers, but the central ones in every inflorescence have withered, or given rise to horrifically spined green capsules about 5 cm long. Cnidoscolus texanum is the scientific name. "Cnido" - stinging, and "scolus" - thorn, in Greek. And boy, do they sting!

I took some photos, but I think I want to go out again and make a real study of the plant — get some leaf photos and spiny close-ups, and then do a set of three small prints for Etsy. Probably a waste of time, but who knows?

Remarkably, a Latin American species of the genus, Cnidoscolus chayamansa, is widely used as a food plant, and is said to have higher nutritional values than chard or spinach.

It was pleasant at the Ridge at 8am. Sunny and clear, but still with lots of long shady shadows cast by the trees in the early sun, and only in the mid-70s. It's 84° now at 11am, and going up into the 90s all this week. The electric bill is gonna be a bugger this month. I don't ever want to think about the 610 water bill - gotta call Sawyer today.