The Frog Hotel Caper

frog
As many of you know, I’m a bit of a gardening nut – or maybe just a nutty gardener – but suffice to say that I like my nature pretty darn well. I have managed to find every vacant plot of dirt on Roomie’s property and stick something in there to grow and in fact, things do grow, magically.

Consequently, much of my garden or a large section of my many little gardens, is very near my bedroom window. Well, warm weather and happy, thriving plants attract more than butterflies and bees. They also attract crickets. Loud crickets. Very loud crickets. In fact, horny crickets, if I’m to believe what Roomie says. While the hot crickets are screeching out there in order to find the hot cricket chicks, I’m trying to sleep. Closing the window is not an option, unless I want to suffocate, so I began looking for solutions….

Cups of beer nestled into the garden so the hot cricket dudes will be lured over to the bar section of the garden to have a cold one, whilst they wait on the ladies to appear, and incidentally drown in their beer literally, while waiting, was my first attempt. Nope, that didn’t work – I assume they were christian crickets, perhaps Quakers? Cricket hotels, where they check in but they don’t check out – apparently, they couldn’t find any cricket chicks who were willing. Watering the garden at night – only good for producing mold in the squash leaves. Making loud noises – doesn’t scare crickets but does make the neighbor dogs a little cranky. Drugs for sleeping seemed my only option…

Then someone casually mentioned that frogs eat crickets. “What’s that?” I asked, perking up almost instantly. “Really?” To say I was delighted at this ever so simple solution doesn’t begin to describe my joy. The next day I would go to the pet store, buy a few frogs, explaining to them that I have a never-ending, all you can eat, smorgasborg in my garden and there was no limit to what my little warty friends could have. I thought this pitch was sure to not only cause them never want to leave, but also that they would text all their other froggy friends and I would get a good night’s sleep as well. A real win-win. Now, I can just hear some of you saying that frogs make noise too – well, that’s true, but I like the sound of frogs, maybe it’s the non-screeching – but I digress…

So, the next day, off I go to the pet store – only to discover that no, they don’t actually have frogs in the store and they are a special order item and then the pet store lady showed me a big poster of all the many frogs one can buy and have as a pet. I had a feeling she’d freak out if I told her I was looking for a few mascotts for my garden, so I politely left, hoping I’d find another store who would just have frogs in stock and sell them to me.

While I was at it, I thought it would be good to g**gle what kind of frogs hang out in gardens, lest I purchase the wrong. The info was even more overwhelming – in addition to the fact that there are several religious sects which worship frogs, there are breeders with odd names and scary website and so that approach began to look hopeless and expensive. So, I did another search on how to tempt frogs into your garden. It was so simple I couldn’t believe it.

You make a little resort for them. I did just that. Nothing fancy, mind you, an old bowl, some water and rocks and floating plants and viola – a froggy pool. Since they need shade I got my potted bamboo plant and took it out there and positioned it so it would shade the area for them. And then…well, I crossed my fingers.

So, Friday…I finally managed to drag my butt out my blogging chair and went out to the garden to do some much needed weeding, tying, staking and fertilizing. After a couple of hours, things looked much better and I got the hose to water the thirsty devils that are growing like Triffods gone wild. As I sprayed the water over the cherry tomato section I saw something move. A little brown/yellow/green something, which I thought was a moth or butterfly that had lit on a leaf and flew off when the water got too close. But it moved again and I knew it wasn’t a moth, so I bent in closer to take a look. It was a teeny, tiny, little froggy. My heart skipped a beat. Had word about the froggy hotel spread already? I couldn’t believe my luck.

I chased him back and forth for a minute or so and finally caught the little fellow. He looked deeply into my eyes and I’m pretty sure, we had a moment. Then ever so gently I took him over to the hotel and put him in the pool. He swam a few strokes and then hopped onto a rock, then out of the pool and then he sunned himself for a sec before he hopped over to the big tomato plant and went for a climb.

Hopefully, he’s emailing all of his friends and they’ll have a summer of fun in the froggy hotel and I’ll get a good sleep through the summer. Crickets, beware!! Muwahahahahahahahahaah 😉

Update: Today, my little Freddy frog bounded out of the squash plants, let me chase and catch  him and take him to the pool again. What was really amazing was that he let me take some pictures of him too! He even waited while I ran in the house to get the camera. So, if you want to see pictures of Freddy and the Froggy Hotel & Spa, go to my gardening page. Woo Hoo, we’re having fun now. 😉

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Is Nature Telling Us Something?

This was sent to me by my pal, Jenny. I found it really fascinating – it could very well be that nature does mimic the human body and connect to it more than we realize. WC

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye…and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? …. It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemica l cons tituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well, to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, Oranges, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today’s research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.

No wonder they are always on us to eat our fruits and veggies. 😉

Dance of the Hummingbird

I’m blessed because my backyard has an incredible Mimosa Tree. If you have never seen one in full bloom or smelled the lovely, sweet fragrance of the Mimosa on a summer evening then you have really missed out on a miracle of nature.

The tree is about 20 feet tall and I imagine it’s been there for many years because its branches spread out and cover about a third of the yard. It has a bent and graceful trunk and it is heavy with pink and gold blossoms from early spring to late fall. Like a lithe ballerina it sways with the breeze and even the strongest wind can’t snap it’s resilient branches.

But what makes this tree really special is that it is home to about twenty hummingbirds. They feed and sing and hover from branch to branch, sipping at the sweet nectar the tree offers them. They play and perch and sometimes fight.

On the back porch, we have a hummingbird feeder, just a few feet from the Mimosa and when they tire of the tree, they swoop in for a tall drink of hummingbird kool aid.

They have become quite bold and will buzz and hover around the porch as they tease the viewer (me) into thinking maybe I can get a decent shot. And so I whip out my trusty digital camera in the hopes of getting that very thing.

But no matter what I do, I can never quite get the perfect picture. Usually, it’s in sillouette because the light is behind them and they buzz and hover so fast that you barely have a chance to raise the camera before they are gone.

But sometimes if you are very lucky, you get the chance to catch them standing still.

Still, I long to get the little dude up close and personal and I’ve yet to manage that. No matter though, because my joy is in sitting on the back porch and watching them zip to and fro, doing their own special summer dance of the nectar. To hear their little chirps signaling each other whose turn it is to drink and warning of the big human waving the camera. And laughing at me as I wait patiently for them to appear – all for the chance of catching them in my sights and snapping the picture before they are off again for the safety of the Mimosa.

Digital camera $195, glass of iced tea $1.50, can of bug spray $3.95, catching the humming bird in flight – priceless.

WC

Mystery Melon Theatre

Okay, so I think I have a handle on the type of melon I’m growing now. I’m pretty sure it’s a cantaloupe. In the last couple of days it’s developed netting over the skin and it sure does look like a cantaloupe.

It’s about 3.5 inches in diameter and it’s heavy – can’t really say how much it weighs maybe 2-3 lbs? I post the pictures for your perusal and theories. Wow, isn’t this exciting?

On the second shot you can almost see the second melon – just below and to the left that is also rapidly growing into an adult melon. Cripes, wouldn’t it be funny if it was just a mutant cucumber or something?

I’ve cut the foilage back an awful lot (maybe too much) and I’m a little worried that it will wither and die because I shouldn’t do that but I can’t let it take over the whole garden, so I’m taking my chances. I’ve also trained it to start climbing the bungee cords that are attached to the wall, so maybe I’ll get a sort of lantern effect with little melon globes climbing upwards. Though I don’t know…do melons get traumatized if they can’t lay on the ground and they are swinging from a bungee cord in mid-air instead? Crap I may have to pay for therapy for these puppies.

Again this thing is growing in leaps and bounds, it has just about doubled in size since last week, so it could be a VW Bug by next week. And yeah, I’ve kept the vines away from my window, lest it creep into my bedroom whilst I sleep.

WC

Mystery Plant

As some of you may know, I’m an avid gardener. Not the Martha Stewart type though, who knows all the latin names for things and the special soil and fertilizer amendments – I garden by the seat of my pants. It’s an organic thing, if you will – I do what feels right and often I yield good results.

This year, my garden has been incredible, the weather has been perfect and the bugs and birds are barely bothering the plants at all. In fact, I’ve only lost two plants which is really amazing.

I’ve planted tomatoes of several varieties, summer squash, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, turnips, radishes and even a spontaneous string bean plant came up out of nowhere.

Then there is this plant. It started out as a little seedling and it looked so cute, I thought what the heck, I’ll let it grow and see what happens. The above is what happened. It looked an awful lot like my cucumber plants so I assumed that it was a cucumber plant and let it be. You can never have too many cucumbers in my mind.

About a week ago, I noticed this:

And I knew it wasn’t no stinking cucumber. Over the last several days this mystery fruit/vegetable has continued to grow into:

and

and

I’ve actually come to believe that I am growing watermelons. Or some kind of melon. But I can’t for the life of me explain it. I never planted any watermelon and I never had any watermelon seeds, yet, the fruit on this baby grows by leaps and bounds each day – the largest one is a bit bigger than a softball as of today – and looking more and more like a watermelon.

Anybody out there care to hazard a guess? I’m dying to know what I’m growing and I simply cannot be sure. So, feel free to lob your guesses my way. The winner may end up with a fedexed melon in a few weeks.

WC

Twisters

I grew up in the Midwest. We didn’t have hurricanes or earthquakes or locusts. But we did have tornadoes. And let me tell you something, there hasn’t been an earthquake or rainstorm I’ve ever witnessed that can scare the bageebers out of me, like a tornado can.

The thing about twisters are that you never know where they will touch down. You can see one off in the distance that looks like it’s going right then it tricks you and goes left. It can look like it’s moving away from you and then come right at you. It can flatten your neighbor’s house and leave yours standing without so much as a loosened board. It can suck up and carry anything in its path.

I remember when I was a kid the odd reports we would hear during tornado season. A woman, cooking in her kitchen was sucked into a twister when it blew off the roof of her house. It touched down and dropped her off (without injury) 20 miles away. Farmers had cows sucked up out of their pastures and left at the next town. A family of four were driving down the interstate and the twister picked them up, car and all and dropped them off 100 miles later. Bizarre, Twilight Zone kind of stuff.

It is a natural phenom that is unlike any other I’ve ever seen. The air takes on this really still and heavy quality – as though all living creatures have caught their collective breaths. As though, you are suddenly in a vacuum.

When it looks really bad, people are advised to turn off everything and to head down to the basement to seek shelter. That may be why there are basements in that neck of the woods. Underground panic rooms, where you sit and wait and listen to the newscast and you try to play cards and not be scared but you are anyway. I remember many times, sitting in a quiet basement with my family, no one talking or doing, just listening and waiting.

We had a family friend named, Marge. A great lady who had a beautiful Victorian house on Lake St. Claire. I used to love to go to her house because she always had watermelon and potato salad and you could sit on her big porch and eat, as the breeze from the lake rustled your hair. There was a peaceful quality about her property and her house. It was like a big, friendly hug, that you always loved to have.
We had many, many visits to Marge’s over the years and it is truly one of my fondest childhood memories.

But one year, we had a lot of tornadoes. They would hit suddenly, knocking down whole blocks of homes sometimes. And believe me, there isn’t much left behind – it looks like a giant box of toothpicks was dumped out on the lot. Sadly, Marge’s house was hit by one of those evil funnels of wind and centrifugal force. The beautiful white house with the dark blue shutters and the wind-around porch – nothing but splinters. Marge was okay – she made it to safety and no harm or injury occurred, but the house was gone. She didn’t rebuild as we thought she might. Instead, she moved to another state and I never saw her again. Never sat on her porch eating watermelon and potato salad, never felt that lovely lake breeze again. And I never forgave the twister for that, nor will I ever.

Here in California, we got your earthquakes and sometimes pretty bad rainstorms, but I’d take them anyday over a twister. They don’t call them twisters for nothing. And they still scare the bageebers outta me.

What’s your scariest natural disaster?

WC

What’s That Smell?

A few years ago I lived in a little cottage in a rather pastoral setting. There were several other little cottages on the property, all beneath a canopy of grape leaves. In the summer the grapes would ripen and there would be beautiful, deep purple clusters of grapes seemingly hanging in the air. The landlord, a crusty old coot from Hungary also liked to garden and there were rows and rows of fresh tomatoes, berries and peppers – all freely available to we little cottage dwellers.

So there we were all tucked away in this psuedo Tuscan atmosphere, with our grapes and our fresh veggies and little cottages. Mine being, of course, the ultimate writer’s garret. I could pretend to be Hemingway or at least Erma Bombeck. On warm summer nights, I’d prop open the front door to get in a breeze, since the cottage was woefully lacking windows. Still I loved my little space and my privacy.

Well, one night whilst I plopped on the sofa and watched television, I could swear I saw the frying pan dance. I had one of those open floor plans where the kitchen really was just a few feet from the sofa and the stove was definitely in plain sight.

I was puzzled. Now just how does a frying pan dance, I wondered. I shrugged assuming it was shadows playing tricks on my eyes and looked back at the television – but damn if it didn’t happen again. I got up slowly and tip-toed a little closer to the stove and eeek what did I see but a little mouse doing the boogaloo in my frying pan. (Can you say, throw that pan away?)

Naturally, we both screamed – he scurried off and I ordered my cat to attack. No deal. The cat was just a kitten really and not much bigger than the mouse and my dog was so old she barely noticed earthquakes. So, naturally I got the elimnator (the broom) and attacked the back of the stove and the walls and stuff to scare the little bugger out. Yep, didn’t work.

Next day I talk to the crusty old Hungarian about getting rid of the mouse. He acted like he didn’t understand english and so I went to the store and bought some mouse poison. I don’t really like doing stuff like that but hey – I couldn’t have the little vermin running around my house and nibbling on my toes or ears whilst I slept – so mouse poison it was. I place one packet behind the stove and one behind the sofa.

Every night I’d hear a frenzied, gleeful squealing and rattling of the platic bag. Apparently that was mousie coke based on his obvious enjoyment of that which would eventually do him in. Every morning, I’d peek to see just how much of this stuff he was eating – thinking any day now it’d be over. Well, believe it or not, it took several days. Now that mouse had quite an appetite. But finally one day I came home from work and there he was lying dead on my bath mat (yep pitched that too). Phew! that was over. Must remember not to prop door without babygate in it. All is right with the world.

So a couple of days later I’m sitting at my desk and ‘sniff-sniff’ what the heck was that smell? I looked under the desk, checked the trash – tried to remember if I was wearing dirty sweat pants and so on…but nothing. I went back to work. There it was again. That smell! I checked my armpits – was I going through some serious detox? Was I drinking too much water or not enough? Was the exercise tape really making me stink taht much.

I took a shower.

Sure enough the next day, it’s back again. What was it? What other horrible thing had crawled into my house? Where had the dog barfed or the cat peed? What the hell was that smell? I simply could not find the source.

Saturday morning, I got the bug to do a spring cleaning. I whipped out the cleanser and sos pads, the furniture polish, the window cleaner and finally the vacuum. Yep my little cottage was going to sparkle and shine. On went the vacuum and it went merrily about its business sucking up hidden dirt (and I hoped smells) and sand and rocks and whatever else me and the dog dragged in. Ooops had to move my big desk chair – now for as small as that place was I always insisted on having a big comfy leather chair, so it took up some room – but it was worth it. So move chair out of way and gasp! what do I see? Yep, my mousie’s dancing partner. There she was in all her white and brown speckled glory. And she was rightly stinking the place up. I could never find the source of the smell cuz it was right under my big fat ass the whole time.

So the moral to the story is, if you got one mouse than probably have two. And a dead mouse really stinks!

WC

The Reasons…

There are many reasons that I live in California…chief among them is the sense of eternal summer. Well at least compared to the midwest where I grew up – breathing ice in the winter, sludging through mud in the spring and sticky sweltering in the summer (the autumn was nice but way to short). But I’ll tell you when I’m feeling down and everything seems like total shit there is nothing like this to make you feel like all is right and beautiful in the world. Kind of neat that I have only to look out the back door or down the street to see this, huh? WC