Beauty from the Garden Helps Lift Spirits on a Gloomy Friday

This is not the first of these jungle cactus (epiphyllum) that I have posted on my blog, but at 7 o’clock this morning, the amazing bloom certainly helped brighten up the day.

I could be grumpy about so many things this morning.  I spent the third night without AC.  Thankfully, with the tile floors downstairs and all the ceiling fans downstairs stays relatively comfortable and with the windows open and box fans pulling in air I can sleep upstairs at night.

Tomorrow I will plunk out the money for a new AC system  I’m keeping the furnace even though the AC company would have liked me to have pulled out everything.  There are way fewer days where we need to have the heat on here in southeast Texas in comparison how much we use the AC.

Last night was the first night I have stayed in my house without Annie.  I took her to stay with my neice until the new AC is in.  The temperature was only up to about 90 yesterday, but I just didn’t want her to get too hot if the thermometer goes up higher today.  Also with the workers in and out tomorrow putting in the new AC, my house wouldn’t have been a good place for her.  I even plan to get myself out of the way once they are working.

So because of the heat and not having Annie there, I woke up early and decided to crank up the computer, only to find out about all the senseless deaths in Colorado.  I really don’t understand how people can be opposed to more stringent gun laws.  I think most people get wiser with age, but obviously that is not universal.  In my opinion, we would be much safer and saner today if strong gun control and legalized marijuana had been made law back in the 1960s.

With those thoughts on my mind, no dog to feed and give some lovin’, and a little extra time before having to get myself on the road to work, I had a chance to take in the grass that I had quickly mowed last evening and all the plants and flowers that are thriving after the 12th straight day of rain (.25 in. yesterday).  On another day, I might have missed this amazing jungle cactus (white epiphyllum).  But there on the other side of the barbeque grill, in full glory, popped out this wonderful flower, only the third one so far this year.  Had I not spied it this morning, it would have been completely wilted by the time I arrived home.

After a few snaps of the camera, I was able to jump into the car in a much brighter mood than only moments before

Saturday Morning Bits and Pieces, But the Rain Gauge Is Back in Place (With Even Some Rain in It)

Another magnificent jungle cactus bloom--just the thing to spark up a drab July.

Here we are at the end of July, and this is only my second post of the month.  Blame it on the heat.  (“Don’t blame it on the bossa nova.“)  It’s been that kind of month; one that has seemed to drag on, maybe because it has days in six different weeks.

Our temps here in the Houston area haven’t been so far out of range, like in some places.  However, they have been about 5-6 degrees hotter on most days than the low 90s that we usually have most summer days.  Also, the spring and summer have been very dry this year.  Now, though, the spotty, summertime showers that come in from the gulf seem to have returned.  Here at my house, there has been some sort of shower each of the last four days.  How much Tropical Storm Don has played in this, I don’t know, for, in general, that storm has been pretty much of a bust.

Because of these recent showers, I finally remembered to replace my rain gauge.  The previous one fit into that category:  “they don’t make’m like they used to.”  With the new glass tube in place, I can report that here near Huffmeister and 529, we had .20 of an inch of rain early this morning.

Obviously, the plants respond to the rainwater much better than that out of the hose.  However, I’ve kept the tomato plants alive, and if August doesn’t burn them up, they might produce some fall fruit.  The plants in the flower beds and pots are holding their own for the most part.  The July highlight was the second bloom ever on one of the jungles cactuses (epiphyllum).  This time I saw the bud the evening before.  I looked before I went to bed, but it still had not opened, but there in the morning, when Annie and I went out to the yard just before daybreak, there it was, fully opened.  At that early hour, this bloom was still pristine, unlike the first one in June that was starting to wilt, as it was already becoming light when I discovered it.  It’s such a pity that the life of these beautiful blooms is so fleeting.

With all this heat, stay inside with the A.C. is about all one wants to do.  It’s kind of like what winter forces upon people in some places.  Anyway, it’s gotten me in the mood to start a new quilt, something I haven’t done in a long time.  I’m piecing it by hand.  I’ll do a bit of “show and tell” as it gets a bit further along.

Looking out further afield, I’m happy that the certification of the lifting of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been done, pleased that marriage equality has come to New York (now to overturn DOMA), and dismayed that all those people who got elected to congress to help improve the jobs situation are so stubborn (no, “stubborn” is too mild of a word) that they would send the county on its way to ruin, rather than move one inch to compromise.  (They should have a lit M-80 stuck in their pieholes.  No, sorry, wrong hole.)

It’s Saturday morning.  The coffee in the cup is cold now.  Annie is happily chewing on a sparerib bone.  It’s not even nine quite yet.  Still a lot of the day to look forward to (Sometimes only fragments will do.)

Despite the Heat and Lack of Rain, There Are Always Surprises in the Garden

A magnificent early morning discovery; this jungle cactus flower (cactus orchid) nearly hidden from view by the oak tree.

I don’t know what my M.U.D. bill will be this month, but with such a long period without much moisture, I’ve been watering a lot.  The vegetable garden and the grass get a shot about every other day, but the side bed, where the sun beats down, and most everything in pots need a good soaking every day.

This morning Annie and I went out at 6:30.  I was refreshed enough from a good night’s sleep that the bed didn’t lure me back even though it was Saturday.  Instead, I sprayed on a healthy dose of mosquito repellant and turned on the hose to go after the pots on the patio.  As I doled out generous amounts of water to the various plants on the patio, my squinty, early-morning eyes spied something white as I squirted the water towards some plants perched on a couple of random benches alongside the fence.

Upon closer look, that white blur was a bloom from one of my jungle cactuses (cacti, if you will), something that I had never seen before.  I was given a couple different varieties of these quite a number of years ago by a colleague, and a few years ago added another that I had liked because of the unique formation of its stems, but in the 10 or so years that I’ve had them and grown more by planting pieces into other pots, none of them have bloomed until now. 

I went inside to get my camera to snap some pictures.   It was a good thing that I did because by the time I finished my puttering outside, maybe an hour later, the bloom was all closed up. 

I don’t know a lot about these jungle cactuses.  which are sometimes called orchid cactus, and the more scientific name is epiphyllum.  After doing a bit of reading, I found out that some of them are night-blooming. Because I hadn’t noticed the oncoming bloom before, I have no idea if today was the first day it had bloomed or if it will be open again tomorrow morning when I take Annie out.  I hope so.

Surprises are part of the enjoyment of gardening:  they can be grand surprises like this cactus flower that I had never seen before or simple surprises like a cluster of yellow beans hanging from a plant I was sure I had checked carefuly just the previous day.