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Tiny Shoots

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Got-r-dun all by myself today. After the big greenhouse freeze, I decided to make sure it never happens again. I researched freeze alert devices online and finally ordered the Reliance THP201 PhoneAlert Home Warning System. I had really wanted something lo-tech that would ring a bell, but I couldn't find anything like that. I kept shying away from automatic dialers, but finally settled on this one. 

When the temperature inside the greenhouse hits 45, this little unit dials up to three different phone numbers and a recorded message says that everything you love is about to die again. Or something to that effect.

To hook it up, you need to plug it into an electrical outlet and run a phone line from the unit into your home phone jack. And though I had thought when I bought it that it would simply dial our home phone number, Bill told me that it can't do that because it's hooked into the same line. 

So I programmed it to dial our cellphones. That oughta work. All I have to do is leave my cellphone on where I can hear it ring on those supercold nights with big temperature differentials, which are the kind that tend to create gas line condensation problems that shut our gas off. 

Then I have to remember to sign out of Facebook so my friends don't message me all night. Blook. Blook. Blook. 
 So the task today was to run the 50' phone line I bought at Radio Shack from the greenhouse into our house.  I had found a handy-dandy cable hole near the downstairs bedroom and planned to make like a real electrician and run the line up over the patio windows and into that pre-made hole.
Except that I couldn't get the floppy phone line (light gray) to go through about 8" of wall and insulation. I thought for awhile, the way a chimpanzee sits next to a termite mound and thinks.

Then I went and got a long bamboo chopstick.

I securely taped the fragile plastic phonejack plug to the chopstick. The I used the chopstick as a needle and threaded that baby through all the insulation and wallboard and garbola in the wall. I was pretty happy with the elegance of that solution. I hooted like a chimp who'd found termites.

Speaking of insect pests, you will note a few ladybugs in this photo.

When I cleared the floor to make room for my work, I lifted a cardboard box and found this. Enough Asian multicolored ladybird beetles to make us all miserable for quite some time. Hello, Multitudes. I know you all want to spend the winter in a noisome cluster in the corner of this bedroom. However, you will not. Die, all of you.

A few swipes of the dustbuster later, I had emptied them out in the yard and danced a rapid tarantella atop them. None survived. I hate those things. So much. So, so much. I do not love every life form that crawls on the earth. Just almost every life form. I withdraw my universal love from insects with a foul stench and painful bite that get into my food, hair and nighttime water glass, that hibernate by the trillions in my house.

Phone line run, plugged in, armed and ready to rock. 

I programmed in the numbers, tested that the unit dialed them correctly, and left it there to do its very occasional but vital work. It's got a 9volt battery backup in the event of a power failure at the same time as a gas failure. It has happened. 

Behind the unit you will see what has become of my three baby orange hibiscus plants. Those tiny green shoots at the root will someday bloom. 

Here's what's going on with some of the geraniums, two weeks after the disaster. It's slow. Lord, it's slow, but it's heartening to see the green shoots of life begin to push out of the roots.

This was such a beautiful specimen of Frank Headley. Oh well. It's got a live part.

Happy Thought Pink. You can barely make out the one leaf peeking out at its base. The rest are lobelia seedlings. Yay. Still has pink petals dropped while in its glory. I'm glad this one still has life in it. Very hard plant to find.

Grafitti Pink, a stellar geranium, has some nice leaves coming. I have totally had to recalibrate my idea of beauty in this experience, to find the beauty in tiny unfurling leaves.

Rosina Read didn't lose all her leaves. She'll bounce back well.

My paddle plant Kalanchoe has a shoot, too. Three others died.

The crown of thorns needed to be cut back, I guess. It was about 3' tall, looked like an ocotillo. Loved that too.

Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" barely felt the frost. 

The day after I took this photo, my brand new Christmas cactus dropped ALL ITS BUDS. Oh, come ON. You can't keep your dang buds?? I'll stick with my darling 23 year old Mammilaria cactus which blooms all the time and laughs at frost. Christmas cactus isn't a cactus, anyway. 

I've been watching these pink grapefruit blossoms swell and swell and elongate...

and I started kind of squeezing them...

until I could catch a whiff of citrus flower through the seams of the buds

and finally finally they started opening yesterday afternoon. At the moment I discovered one had opened, a hermit thrush started to sing in the woods nearby. Ohhh.

And for the first time I stepped into the greenhouse this morning early and it smelled like it should. Fragrant. Almost like it was before the freeze. 

It's still better at night, though. Night lighting is kinder to tired faces and recovering plant stubs. 


The slow but steady road of recovery. You're getting there. I'm so glad to see tiny shoots and leaves, glad for you.

I'm so glad to hear that you stomp on things and kill them DEAD. My beloved husband is always giving me a hard time about being Ms.Wildlife on the one hand, and killing stinkbugs with utterly no compunction whatsoever on the other. But I HATE. THEM. And they smell, and they don't belong here. So if they come near me, they die.

Also delighted by all the nice new green bits. And the new early warning device. I guess the first night you leave your cell phone on, you'll discover all the things that go DING that you forgot about... HA!

Impressive tool work there, Julie! I'm so glad that things are recovering and your anxiety is easing regarding your beloved greenhouse. A true Christmas miracle!

Irene Snyder

This is our first year with a small infestation of brown marmorated stinkbugs, Ms. Kimb, and they get instant encoffinization in a Kleenex, and that satisfying crunch. I know you've been enjoying them for several years in VA. Gawd. What will come next, boils? I expect the stinkbugs will get a LOT worse before they recede. Headed down to that corner with the dustbuster as we speak. We would make bad Hindus.

Setbacks are opportunities. They don't seem like it at the time, but looking back you'll be less traumatized by the event. Now you have an alarm. I'm sure people will send you cool stuff to put in your groan-house. And you'll find more cool stuff, too.

Glad to see you MacGyvered a solution to threading the needle - my friends tell me that should be my middle name...

Glad to see the green leaves sprouting. Plant reincarnation sort of...I wonder if this go-around you will have some surprises?

So, so happy to see all the little green things popping back into your life to recreate the beauty that once was. And, glad to know I'm not the only one who won't tolerate the ladybugs in my nooks and crannies. xo

The new life emerging does not surprise me, as you provide fertile ground and open invitations. As for the invasive bugs, I beg pardon upon my soul, but two BMStinkbugs were flushed by me today. I'd squish 'em, but they really do stink!

If this helps at all, you can turn off those notifications on your iPhone so that they don't pop up annoyingly. That way you only see them when you actually have Facebook open.

Yea, those stinky bugs. I grew up in southern Arizona, and my mother HATED those big ole desert centipedes. Up to 6 or more inches long, nasty venomous bite, and a penchant for hiding under her washer and dryer. She would have taken stinky bugs any day of the week over THAT. Every thing in the Sonoran Desert, stinks, stabs, bites or looks just mean. And I loved it as kid. Mom, not so much...

I love the mental image I getting of you dancing a tarantella on the ladybugs! The music educator in me must mention that originally, these fast pieces, written in 6/8 time were thought to either be ther result of a tarantula bite or perhaps CURE the bite of one. Now I will think of you and add a 3rd possibllity to the definition: the dance one performs to obliterate an unwanted pest from the earth. Thanks for the musical reference! (Also for admitting that even you consider some pesky pests worthy of that sort of spirited demise)


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