Saturday, December 19, 2020

Wrong again

I've been referring to a certain bird at the feeders as a flicker, but my SO (who is generally not bird savvy) commented on a red-bellied woodpecker in his backyard and all of a sudden I realized that my identification was wrong. Or maybe I've seen both? I will have to pay more attention.

Last week, while walking the dog, I saw some bluebirds. I told them to come visit the mealworm feeder in my yard and apparently they listened. I see them once in a while, but unfortunately the stupid starlings chase them off. I keep telling the starlings to head south but they are less open to suggestion than the bluebirds.

I ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden: French thyme, flat leaf parsley, Compatto dill, Fernleaf dill, dwarf Greek basil, bush basil, and jet black hollyhock. Before ordering, I checked what seeds I already had, most of which had been entered into a spreadsheet. I did not need zinnia, sunflower, or Mexican sunflower. I also refrained from purchasing any vegetable seeds. Seriously, there is a weekly farmers market just down the road all summer long; I don't need to grow beans or zucchini.

After checking out a few how-to videos on YT, I pruned off one bit of my Dracena marginata and potted it in vermiculite. It will be several weeks before roots appear. I'll keep you posted on its progress.

My self-imposed quarantine ends Tuesday. It hasn't been too bad, other than not seeing my SO in person. Xmas will be a repeat of Thanksgiving, just the two of us, this time with a pot roast. Indiana has the second highest number of new cases of Covid per capita in the nation, so we continue to hunker down. Happy holidays to you and stay safe!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Bees count

I'm sure you have heard of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Audubon Society. Now there is a native bee count, as described in this NYTimes article. Over the past several years (ever since spraying backyards for mosquitos became a thing) I've noticed a general dearth of pollinators in my garden. The privet used to positively hum when in bloom, but now, nothing. It's very concerning.

A BIG THANK YOU to ErinFromIowa for her suggestion to search on "How to propagate" plant name! It turns out my dracaena marginata is very propagatable. Or I can just whack it down to size and it will recover (theoretically). My plan is to cut off some of the new growth at the top and propagate that first. While I am not the best houseplant caretaker, I do like having some greenery around the house. Now I may have even more.

Indiana is no longer the worst hot spot in the country for Covid (as of today), but it is still bad. My son-in-law dropped by my house last Tuesday for a few minutes, then started showing symptoms Thursday and tested positive Friday. So, per CDC recommendations, I am quarantining, just in case and to keep others safe. After 9/11, the country united against what was viewed as a common enemy. Regarding the number of deaths, Covid is like 9/11 everyday, and yet for some reason the nation cannot unite to fight this new common enemy. It's very disappointing.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Low means low

A while back, my ancient hand mixer started to go kaput. I bought a new one, and then another new one, neither of which were satisfactory. My complaint? Neither had any speed that could be considered "low", so no matter what one was mixing - mashed potatoes, cookie batter, etc. - the kitchen ended up a mess from flung food. I guess it was my own fault, for trying to save pennies. After consulting with a friend, I purchased a KitchenAid 9-speed hand mixer (directly from KitchenAid, to make sure I got the real thing). I *love* it! From what I read online, the dough hooks won't knead bread dough, though, so don't purchase one expecting to do that.

My house is very standard, with standard eight-foot ceilings. This is a problem for this houseplant, which I believe is a dracaena marginata. Both my SO and my daughter have houses with high ceilings, but I haven't been able to convince either of them to adopt this poor plant. I'm wondering if I can cut it back. Opinions?

There isn't much to do outside right now, besides pick up dog poop and fill the bird feeders and bird bath. Reaching for the peanut split feeder the other day, I almost grabbed a nuthatch. He didn't see me and I didn't see him until we came near to a close encounter of the third kind. My neighbor's ornamental pear tree is loaded with tiny orange fruit, which a flock of robins was enjoying a few days ago. Today a HUGE flock of starlings passed by overhead, heading... northwest? What's up with that?

The dogs aren't inclined to spend much time in the backyard these days, so we've been walking more. Without gardening, I need the exercise as much as they do. The trees and shrubs look naked without their foliage, giving me a good look at their "bones" so I can plan future pruning.

According to the NYTimes "hot spot" map, which shows the country's Covid hot spots, based on average number of new cases in the past week, per capita, Indiana is the hottest hot spot in the nation. It's crazy, almost as crazy as the people who keep flying their Trump flags. Beam me up, Scotty!