Coffee heat rising

Puttering around, catching up…

Shameful neglect of the blogging project! The fast-bloating set of chores and goals and paid work has expanded to fill all hours of the day, and so I’ve let Funny slide a bit and, at least for the nonce, given up on the Half-Off Diet. Decided to let “Fear and Loathing” sit at the top of the site for a day, because it strikes me as one of the best things I’ve written in a long time and because quite a few people kindly left comments. Half-Off? Well…I’m afraid my dieting habits have tended to “Twice On” the last couple of weeks! {sigh}

The low-desert summer’s unholy heat is slowly fading. The past few mornings have been gorgeous. La Maya and I have crawled out of our air-conditioned boxes to restart our early-morning constitutionals, and it’s finally cool enough in the evenings to walk Cassie before 10:00 at night.

La Bethulia, an accomplished gardener, is planning her fall and winter crops, and of course I can’t let that go unchallenged. It’s been a busy couple of days, despite the crush of student papers, the ad-selling scheme, and various client projects.

Yesterday morning after a breakfast meeting followed by a drive to a client’s office but before it got too bracingly warm (the thermometer eventually rose to 108°), I dropped by Baker’s Nursery, my favorite purveyor of garden goods, to pick up a rat bait station. Of course I couldn’t resist a few packages of seeds and some plants…

Back at the ranch, I managed to pull out some old onions (or possibly garlic chives? don’t think so…think they’re overgrown LGOs) from a big pot. Used part of a bag of potting soil to transplant the ficus and its attendant decorative plantlets into that big pot, a Costco plastic number that looks convincingly like terra cotta.

Earlier this summer, the ficus blew over in a monsoon, breaking its real terra cotta pot. It was so rootbound that its dirt just clung to it in a clotted ball. M’hijito lifted it into another pot about the same size, and, pushed way in under the back patio cover, it managed to stay alive through the remaining horrific heat. Just now it’s shivering with joy to have more room and fresh soil.

The pot recovered from the struggling ficus, which itself is a pretty good-sized terra cotta pot, was refilled with the rest of the potting soil, along with another large pot and a smaller wall pot reclaimed from a wad of dead roots. Decided to use the pots only to hold herbs, and so now we have a new parsley plant, a new sage plant, and a vigorous young basil plant, ready to burst into growth. This is what happens, you  understand, when fall is spring: in Arizona plants thrust out joyous foliage in October.

The basil on the west side is two or three years old now, and it’s getting tired. Really, it’s an annual. But where the weather’s mild and the human is willing to haul the pot into the house during frosts, you can make it behave like a perennial by cutting it way back now and again. Like a rose, it responds to pruning with new (delicious!) growth. But there’s a limit: no matter what, basil doesn’t last forever.

I’m thinking when I get around to tossing that aged basil plant, its pot can hold some chives, summer savory, and maybe a new thyme or tarragon plant.

But for the nonce, I planted a few parsley seeds in the pot with the sage and basil. I love parsley, especially the flat-leafed Italian type. Baker’s was billing its parsley plants as flat-leafed, but the one I got looks curlier than flat. Besides, parsley bolts to seed at this time of year, and so that plant won’t last until it gets cool enough for parsley to live a long and productive life.

One of the things I’ve missed over the past straitened summer has been parsley. I’ve stayed out of grocery stores pretty  much—have grazed out of the freezer and off the shelves, and what I’ve bought has come from Costco, whose limited fresh produce offerings do not include parsley. So it will be nice to have the stuff growing out there again.

Into the pool to cool down around 11:30 a.m., by which time I was thoroughly fricasseed. This is the nicest time of year for pool swimming! The water has cooled down enough to be refreshing, and the sun has slipped behind the devil-pod tree, so a fair amount of the pool is shaded. It is absolutely lovely. It took a half-hour and a couple of dips to let the water soak the heat out. During that time I noticed the pump wasn’t pushing water through there very fast, and from there observed the pressure gauge was into the “clean me” range. Another day…

In the afternoon around reading stoont papers I cooked some of those golden Mayan beans, planning to make a soup. Out of onions (another item that hasn’t been on the shopping list all summer) but still managed to flavor up the beans with celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary and thyme from the garden, dried herbs, and a few aging tomatoes. Just as the beans had reached the desired stage of doneness, La Maya called and invited me over for an impromptu dinner.

Well, given a choice between bean soup and La Maya’s incredible cooking, it was off to her restaurant with me and Cassie! She fixed a fresh pesto sauce with a mountain of basil from their garden, served over pasta. Awesome!

So this morning the beans still resided in the fridge. And a great many chores remained to be done.

Before getting started, though, I decided to have a real, decent meal for breakfast: defrosted a piece of steak, wrapped some asparagus in tinfoil, and tossed both on the grill to cook. Served those up with one of the pears liberated a couple days ago from Costco, now ripened to glorious juiciness.

Having enjoyed that and a cup of pretty darned good coffee, moved the car so I could climb into the attic up the folding stairs in the garage. Sally’s Handyman had come by to secure the loose screens and close up any other suspicious openings, by way of keeping new rats out and locking any resident rats in. A few days ago I’d bought a pair of Tomcat rat traps, a lot safer to use than the Victor traps, which are just gigantic mouse traps. I’ve never been able to set a mouse trap without snapping my fingers in the damn thing. Snap your finger in a rat trap, and you’ll end up with a busted finger…or no finger at all.

The plan is to trap any rats still hiding in the attic, if any are up there at all (it’s now beginning to appear not, thank goodness!), and then to pizzen any visitors that climb up the paloverde overhanging the deck roof before they get a chance to try to break in. It will be easy for me to climb a ladder to the roof over the deck and plant a rat bait station up there. A rat station holds the rat poison inside a box with a rat-sized entry that’s too small for a cat and unattractive for birds, thereby minimizing the risk to the neighbor’s pets and one’s favorite singing bug-eaters.

This is a nuisance, but far less nuisance then getting rid of a covey of little roommates after they’ve already moved in. So today’s first project was to bait the traps with peanut butter and haul them into the attic. That went quietly and I did not whap any fingers in the things.


Hauled the untouched sticky rat traps (proven useless in the past, but they were all I had) down from the attic and out to the garbage.
Backwashed and recharged the pool filter.
Dragged the hose to water the plants.
Cut back the dying thyme plant, which is mightily infested with hated bermudagrass.
Preserved some of the surviving stems that bore still-living thyme leaves.
Loosed the opening salvo against the hated bermudagrass.
Cleaned up the resulting mess; hauled the dead shrubbery out to the garbage.
Sprayed weeds growing in the alley along the back wall.
Figured out how to bait the rat station, approximately.
Walked the dog.
Dropped in the pool to cool down, again.
Made the bed.
Cleaned up the kitchen.
Started the laundry.
Shoveled several piles of old student papers out of the closet in my office, filling the gigantic blue recycling barrel about halfway up to its top.
Gagged the shredder on the wads of paper the school sent containing former students’ ID numbers, scores on placement tests, and grades on earlier efforts at remedial English, ESL English, English 101, and English 102.
Decided that paperwork should be treated like clothing: if you haven’t looked at it in a year, throw it out!
Shoveled the first 20 or 30 junk messages of the day out of the e-mail.
Wrote this post.

And so to work… Back to reading student papers, a pastime that occupied time until about half-past midnight this morning.


Image: Cynodon dactylon (hated bermudagrass). Bidgee. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

4 thoughts on “Puttering around, catching up…”

    • @ Nola: I’ll try to get back to 1/2 off when I can break free enough time and energy!

      @ Carol@inthetrenches: LOL! No, not just now…ran out of bird seed months ago and never got around to buying any more. When I do hang bird feeders, they’re a long way from the house. In this part of the country we have roof rats. They’re attracted by citrus fruit, dog food, water, and quiet, cozy places to den. Though they look much like the Norwegian rat (also called a sewer rat in this country), they’re a little more benign because so far they haven’t been shown to carry any really horrible diseases transmitted to humans. So. far.

  1. Most of the time I try to take the One Minute Manager approach to my life but occasionally I like to just have a putter day too. It’s amazing how much can really get done just walking around and doing all the little things that you see. And, it’s mentally relaxing without all the personal deadlines.

    About the rat traps…you don’t have any bird feeders do you? They are the quickest way to bring rats into a home. I told someone that and they gaffed me off and within a few months had rats running across the fence.

Comments are closed.