Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Treat

Well, once again, it is a beautiful day for Trick or Treating. No rain, and temperatures that don't require jackets underneath or over top of the costumes. Fabulous.

I've got hooks up for a string of Halloween lights, even if I do have to drape the extension cord out of the kitchen window.

And thank goodness I'm getting off work early today. I checked the post from last Halloween and saw that the first Trick or Treater showed up at 5:30! Yikes, I'll need those extra hours to make sure that when I turn the porch lights out, I can just fall into bed. I just hope I have enough candy this year.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Picture Catch-Up

Well, I finally tackled some of the pictures that were on my camera. Here are those fancy Italian petunias. (Ignore the grass) I like them, but they definitely aren't what the catalogs showed. I'm sticking with store raised petunias next year.

My new hibiscus, with and without sunlight behind it.

And this (chrysanthe)mum in a planter. :P

And the beginning of all the pictures I took at Brookside gardens can be seen here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


A horrifying sight met my eyes as I pulled into the development last night. The common areas were clear of leaves. That's right, all those nice leaves were cleaned up. And I'm not even talking about being raked up into piles for the neighborhood kids to jump in. I'm talking bagging mower got all of them to be carted off to the county yard clean. :( I tend to leave the leaves alone till they are pretty much all off of the trees, so the kids can play in leaf piles. You've got to play in leaf piles as a kid.

But still, the deed was done. The landscaper's dirty deed. *sigh* Now, I just have to hope there are enough leaves on the trees to yield enough for a pile. (Which is easy to swipe from.) And hope that they are done mowing the grass for the season.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


So, I was sitting in my favorite lunch nook at work, watching the outside. The wind was gusting, and I was struck with the thought of March winds. Despite the colored leaves, the scene was more reminscent of the harsh March winds, than October. Cold and windy. Not much fall color on the trees, the leaves are all blown off.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Foliage and Hibiscus

First, what is up with Blogger? I've been having trouble posting since last week. We'll see if this gets up today. It's a good thing I don't do drafts in the blogger window.

My new hibiscus bloomed three times. Two blossoms on Saturday and another on Sunday. Unfortunately, I'm behind in downloading pictures or I'd post some today.

I missed a chance to go see the fall foliage. My friend ditched on me. Okay, I didn't feel too bad, until I found out he took his daughter up the next day. I mean he should spend time with his daughter, and they both had fun, but I wanted to go see the leaves. Well, I guess I'll just have to find time on my own. You think they'll last until next weekend? Especially with the big cool down this week and the rain?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oak, Laurel Oak

Okay, so the tree I've been calling a willow next door is actually a Laurel Oak. I got confirmation when a biggish branch came down yesterday in the high winds. There were little acorns on it. So, it had to be an oak. Now, in my defense, there aren't a lot of acorns on the ground or even under the tree. But it's good to have that settled.

My mum is sitting in an old concrete planter on my deck. Since it was going to get cold again tonight, I went out and scooped up leaves off of the deck to tuck in the planter to help insulate the pot. While I was doing that, I spotted a big preying mantis on the deck. She must have been trying to soak up the sun.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Well, the Asian or Harlequin Ladybugs are on the move. There were lots of them swarming the building at work and I've spotted one or two or twenty individuals around the house, outside. These non-native ladybugs are from Russia, Korea, China and Japan. It both hitch hiked on ocean going vessels and was introduced by the Department of Agriculture to control aphids and other scale insects because the native ladybugs had more than they could handle.

Normally, everyone would be thrilled to see ladybugs. Not only are they lucky, but they eat aphids. Unfortunately, these Harlequins have two very annoying habits. The first is hybernation. The local ladybugs go off into the woods one by one and find a nice secluded spot to spend the winter. No problem. Unfortunately, the Harlequins gather in big swarms and seek out cliffs to hibernate in. But North America is lacking in cliffs over much of it! But what looks like a cliff to a ladybug? You got it, buildings! Houses with light colored siding especially! If you're lucky, they just crawl under the siding. If you aren't, they could try and share your living space. And that's a lot of beetles to have as houseguests.

Which brings up the other problem. When they feel threatened, they exude a yellow-orange fluid. This blood stains just as badly as regular human blood. Not to mention the smell.

And there are people with allergies to these out of town ladybugs. Eww.

So, while it's good to know they are there and eating the aphids, there are some problems. I hope they find somewhere else to hibernate than my house.

Oh, and remember when I was lamenting yesterday about having missed out on buying more Hibiscus? Meet Carolina Breeze. Isn't she pretty?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fog in the Headlights

Wow, the fog was really thick last night. Totally obscured the light pollution from the city. Very weird. But it was clear on the roads. Which is a good thing.

Saw a deer in the development again. Or rather a fawn, so there was a doe somewhere. Thankfully not in front of my car.

My hibiscus is blooming again. We'll see how it does with the transition to inside. Leaves still look good, despite the switch to lower UV. I really should have bought another one this summer. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good to be Inside

My hibiscus bloomed Sunday after being brought inside. The bloom lasted a little longer than normal. And a second bud is gearing up to bloom in the next couple of days. I need to trim it back and let it get bushy. But after it stops blooming.

The pansies are actually doing well inside. I haven't had a chance to plant them yet. I'm noodling around the idea of keeping a pot inside to enjoy.

More rain today. This year is the year that makes all others droughts. Year to date rain surplus is going to top 7 inches after today's rain. That's a lot of rain. And only one tropical storm in the mix. No wonder the dehumidifier keeps running.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wait a Day

Well, I woke up this morning and there was frost. Nearly a full month ahead of last year's November 11th date. *sigh* But the leaf display has been kicked up a notch. Most of the trees are starting to change.

Yesterday I went to the local botanical gardens and took pictures. I'll get them up some day. I also stopped by Home Depot and returned the Weed Eater that was missing a key part, the plug to charge it! They are of course out of stock, so I'll have to order one over the web. *sigh* But, I did pick up two pots of pansies and a mum. Very pretty!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anatomy of a Morning

Change alarm to 6 am.

Wake up to alarm.

Wander outside to see if first frost arrived.

Be very chilly, but relieved that there is no frost.

Go back to bed.

Well, the temperature dropped into the low 30s, but no frost. Still, the Hibiscus is inside, we'll see how the two flower buds do. I still can't believe it developed two buds while it was chilly out. The amaryllis is in too. That's just waiting for the signal to pull it up to have it bloom for Christmas. Or rather New Years, since I visit my folks for Christmas.

Last night I cut the back lawn. No sight of Perseus the Toad, but then it was too chilly for toads, and there wasn't any sun. Man, I'd forgotten how nice it is to mow the lawn and not be drenched in sweat afterwards. Although, it does seem like the grass is settling in for winter. I didn't need to empty the bagger as many times as I did. I was also very careful while mowing the strip that is going to be a garden next year. That's where I've been spotting Perseus and she might have been dug in there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Green Leaves

With the rain this morning, there were lots of warnings on the radio about the slipperiness of wet leaves of pavement. Possibly because there were already several reports of cars that rolled over in the morning traffic report.

But despite that, most of the trees around here are green. There are only a few early birds that are beating the rush. We haven't had the big cool down to force a display. That may change this weekend, but we're kinda limited to drips and drabs most years.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Masked Bandit

My neighbor stopped me the other day and warned me that there was a raccoon in the neighborhood. She was particularly concerned because I put out birdseed so early in the morning. I'm not alarmed, I don't keep my trash outside (I only produce one bag a week.), and if I actually saw a raccoon on my deck, I wouldn't go out. My dad confirmed that there is a raccoon in the area when he walked the dog. He spotted fresh tracks in the mud.

Zeppe and I spotted the toad again yesterday. I think the one in the back yard will be called Perseus, while the one out front is Aggie. This time the toad was sitting in the shade of a dandelion leaf. That dandelion didn't get pulled. Also, no pictures, I'm trying not to harrass this toad with flash photography. There's been a lot of willpower rolls not to pick it up either. I just keep remembering how Aggie cried when I picked her up.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Well, that was a nice weekend. I finished cleaning, just as they arrived. Only thing that needed done was to change a battery in the bedroom clock, oh well. It was nice to see them. And there was ACTUALLY talk of them coming down again. Especially to tramp through the woody area out back. (It was a little too swampy this weekend from all the rain that fell Friday and Saturday.)

This is big, my parents have visited exactly once since I moved to DC in 2002. (Once before while I was moving, but that was just a great big 6 hour round trip to cart stuff.) They usually don't visit because it is a production, and there wasn't much to do because my mom's health problems would prevent going into the city because of the sheer amount of walking. (She had her hip replaced last year due to bone necrosis and still has extreme arthritis in her spine.) But they like the community and park enough to want to come back!!! Yea!

They also brought down the old wooden rocking chair that they've had since I was a baby. It needs a LOT of work, since it had been outside a season or two along the way. Not sure if I'll be able to finish it before winter comes or not. Sanding here I come!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Name Game

It is an interesting phenomenon. Goldenrod is becoming a popular garden plant. Nurseries are actually having sales on them. Is it possible that is finally getting past the stigma of blooming during ragweed season? Have the pollen-casters gotten the point across that goldenrod uses pollinators instead of flinging it's pollen about willy-nilly like ragweed? No, not really. Nurseries seem to be hiding it's identity behind latin-fication. That's right, they're selling Solidago! Just kinda makes you chuckle, doesn't it?

Oh, and speaking of ragweed. A very limited trial of a Hay Fever vaccine has shown positive results. That is very interesting science. Especially if the treatment can be expanded to other pollens allergens. Right now, it's still showing results at 2 years. Very promising.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A House Under the Lily Tufts

Since it was beautiful yesterday, Zeppe and I moved stuff from inside the basement to the shed, and then removed a few weeds. As it turns out, there was a toad trying not to be noticed underneath my lily turfs. I guess I should have put out a water bowl. There's definitely enough slugs, crickets and spiders for him to eat.

The squirrels are also digging all sorts of holes in the mulch. I have to pat it all back down every time I go out. And it seems that the back yard needs mowed again! I mean it should have been mowed a couple days ago, and I mowed last week! Eek!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Indian Summer

Indian summer is a meteorological term that genearlly refers to a warm period after the first frost of the year. Usually this varies depending on the region. But is traditionally in October or November. Although, some regions that lack frosts or exceedingly late frosts, call the transition period from summer thunderstorms to calm autumn weather an Indian summer.

To be honest, it's going to be gorgeous the next two days. Highs in the 80s, after lows in the 40s last week is scrumptous. Lazy, hazy, clean up the shed for company weather. Too bad it won't last past Thursday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Rainbow Connection

Yesterday, I was startled to hear the sound of rain, especially given that there was still blue sky and sun outside my window. A microburst had opened up. After about a minute of steady rain, I decided, I probably should check/close my windows. However, when I went to the back of the house, I spotted a rainbow! In fact a double rainbow! Wow!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Not too much going on outside, other than opening the windows and letting the air blow through. Next weekend my parents are visiting, so there is a major housecleaning in effect. Which means the garden gets left alone. (They're not the kind of folks who would be scandalized by a weed or 99.)

The weather has been delightfully confounding the local meteorologists. Up until Friday, everyone was predicting clear and beautiful for Saturday. Then the weather blog I read changed that to a heafty amount of afternoon showers. So, of course everyone including me had plans for Saturday. But, it dawned cold and misty and overcast. By then, all the meteorologists were on board with a truly miserable forecast. But true to form, the afternoon was just as beautiful as they had originally forecast. What a weekend.