Archive | January 2017

My Mom’s Favorite Thing…

imageI’ve been doing a lot of de-cluttering. I have had some stuff since I don’t know when. Time to cut some ties. If I ever intend on becoming a full-time RV-er, the load must be lightened.

I did come across some things I totally forgot I had. Yup. The problems of a hoarder 😉

I did find one of my Mothers favorite things.

This it a ‘Round Tuit’. These are worth their weight in gold, and then some. These can move mountains, end wars or make a child clean their room…

Just in case it was only your first cup of coffee this morning, ‘Round Tuit’ is a play on words, re-interpreting the idiom to get around to it as get a round tuit. First used at the 1964 World’s Fair which was held in Queens (Flushing).

I bet you’ll put it on your Christmas list now, huh?!?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

A Broken Tree ~ Why Arborist’s Cry

imageWe were camping at one of our local campgrounds last October and this tree was on our site. I normally love to put supporting links to old posts in my blog, however I’m going to be anonymous on this one. For us, this campground is close (under an hour drive) and is on a river we like to kayak on. Sadly though, they don’t care for their campground whatsoever. Almost every tree in the campground is injured in one way or another. Many are ready to fall on campers with a good gust of wind! I cringe when I see these situations, as what am I to do? Tell the family of 6 to move their camper now, before you lose a few of your chitlins from a downed tree? I’d get a “Pffft, we’re fine, you crazy lady!” Yeah, don’t mind the lady with the ‘Risk Assessment Arborist’ badge on her lapel. =-P

I’ve pondered highly about saying something to the owners of such campgrounds. I would think that they would love the free information from a licensed arborist! Of course, I can give constructive criticism without being accusatory. No one wants to be told they don’t know what they’re doing  😉 However, I’ve done this once with nasty repercussions. I was at a campground that had poison ivy everywhere in spades! Some hung into the paths that people walk on. I mentioned this to the owner, who told me, “What am I supposed to do about it?” I said that there are landscapers that care for these types of situations and his reply was that he didn’t have the money to do it and people will just have to avoid it. I told him he could put up a sign that identifies the area and show folks what poison ivy looks like. He said he didn’t want people to be afraid to camp there and campers should know what PI looks like! This campground was charging $67 a night, without sewer. This is an outrageous fee, for you non-campers. Normal rates are about $30-$40, with sewer, at a private campground. The sad part is that this is the campground a close, family friend decided to drop their seasonal trailer on, and gives us grief that we don’t come up there and camp with them.

Sometimes, there’s really no risk involved in the landscape. Many times it’s just a plant health problem or an aesthetic thang.

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Take a look at the photos of this tree… From a layman’s perspective, it may not look like there are any issues at all. However, upon further inspection, do you notice how large the trunk is compared to the canopy of the tree? A few years ago, the top of this tree broke off. Then the tree sent out a bunch of shoots from the broken trunk to compensate for the loss of its food-making leaves. These branches are not attached to the tree very well and can break with little effort. As you can see, many of the branches are dying already.

The last photo is of the root-crown and how it was planted. This tree had little chance from day one of ever surviving. It was buried too deep and has multiple girdling roots, which are roots that circle the trunk and only get tighter as the tree grows, cutting off its circulation, in laymen’s terms.

Can this tree be saved? No. Its structure has been so compromised, there’s really no way to prune it back to a healthy shape.

Just like Prince sang, “This is what is sounds like…. when Arborists cry.”  😉


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

A great visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

A few weeks before our trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was looking through the things to do and came across the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Sadly, when I went to their website, I learned that hurricane Mathew had been very mean to them. Many habitats were damaged. Thankfully, these were the animals day areas, and their nighttime digs were safe, as were all the animals.

Lucky for us, they opened the day after Christmas, with only the wolf exhibit being off limits. So, off we went!

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Many of these animals cannot be returned to the wild, for one reason or another.

Many of the birds cannot fly. On the cages, they have signs that inform you that birds that cannot fly like the security of the small space.

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It was almost low tide here, the water was slowly getting lower, exposing the oysters.

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Hey look! It’s BOB!

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Bob-Cat!

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Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there any one at home?

The red fox was supposed to be in here. Maybe in the little house.

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WHO!

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Thee were two bald eagles in here. There was a long tree trunk that went from the ground to this high roost.

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Bison bison.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

My 8 Year, Pent-up Rant

imageThis is clearly an opinion piece, read at your own risk.

It’s been about 8 years since the window in my living room fogged up and my view of the world was a blur. I finally gathered up my pennies and had a new one recently installed. Ah, that’s better. A clear view. The dogs don’t even have to jump up to see out. No more damaged sills. =-)

The window broke about the same time Obama took office. I was devastated. Not feeling much different that the Hillary followers do now. Did anyone remember the Canadian Citizenship site crashed for many that faithful day also, just like when Trump was voted in? Nah, ‘Mericans’ memories are short. I remember I slumped into a slight depression, however hoped that the next 4 years would fly by uneventfully. Maybe the Democratic congress won’t totally screw the middle class… Ha. I’m still sore from the experience.

Gas prices went up to $5.00, my house’s worth dropped $100,000, jobs were no where to be found, foreclosures rose to new levels…. Ugh! Now you’re going to tell me you’re going to make me pay for insurance I don’t need (maternity, ect)? Good god, what is happening to this country??? Have we gone socialist???

The inauguration of Trump yesterday couldn’t have come fast enough in my opinion. It didn’t happen fast enough for folks signing up for healthcare for 2017. Sadly, we still had to conform to the healthcare plan where if you make more than $46,700.00, you’re part of the 1%!! Remember, that is gross salary, the take home there is only about $35,000. 00.

Last year, I had a silver plan with Land of Lincoln insurance, which cost me $330.00 a month ($3,960.00 for the year). It was the only health plan that was accepted at the 2 closest hospitals to me. Go figure, LOL insurance had to liquidate as of last October. I got on a crappy temporary plan for the last three months, and hoped I wouldn’t need medical attention.

When the market opened in November, I started searching for my next plan. I was utterly dumbfounded. There were no longer any companies accepted by the 2 closest hospitals to me, one 8 minutes away, the other 12 minutes. I will now need to travel 40 minutes to the closest hospital. What if I’m unconscious? I have added my request to my ICE in my phone, however I’m not about to wear a medical bracelet or tattoo my chest with, “BRING ME TO AN IN-NETWORK HOSPITAL!”.

So, not only am I forced to drive to another county to go to the hospital, a comparable silver plan to 2016 was now going to cost me $890.00 per month! That is nearly an additional $560 a month, totaling $10, 680.00 per year for insurance. That’s a helluva inflation rate! And I am stuck in a monopoly situation. There is only 1 insurance carrier for my county, BCBS. How the hell did that happen? Usually, here in ‘Merica, free trade and competition keeps prices down… However, not here in northern Illinois!

In the end, I went down to a bronze plan for $520.00 a month ($6,240.00 a year), so I didn’t loose all my income. It’s still near double what I had to pay last year.

My congressman, Randy Hultgren, had this to say in a recent email:

This year, three of the seven counties in the 14th Congressional District are left with one insurance issuer, leaving residents of McHenry, Lake and Kendall Counties with a true insurance monopoly. Kane, Will and DeKalb Counties will be left with only two insurance issuers. Individuals with these exchange plans could face proposed rate increases for 2017 of up to 77.3 percent.

In addition, Illinois exchange plans have removed some of the best hospitals and doctors in the state from both their HMO and PPO provider networks, such as Northwestern Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital, leaving the most vulnerable people with the most significant medical needs without the options or the care they need.

Here’s a last bit of irony for ya…. While I was still looking for insurance, I called a broker who told me about a plan that was $295 a month ($3,540.00 per year), $15. office visit copays to all types of doctors (specialist included), all emergency room visits $100., all CT/MRI/x-rays $100, all generic RX free or $5 name brand… The awesomeness of the plan when on and on… My doctor and both nearest hospitals were in network also! Tears of joy streamed down my face as I continued to listen to his smooth selling voice. Chiropractic visits included, mental health visits, dietary counsel, drug rehab were all included in this plan. I was nearly lulled into the dark side by then. Suddenly, I came to my senses and asked, “What’s the catch?” It was temporary insurance (stop-gap), and only lasted 11 months and was NOT Obamacare compliant.

They say… Only about 10% of folks get caught doing something like this, and its a flat $695. or 2.5% of your salary, whichever is higher (mines higher). You can also skirt this whole situation by playing around with your deductions so you are even with the government come tax time. (You don’t owe the gov and the gov doesn’t owe you.) Why? Because how the law is written now, the gov is only allowed to remove the fee from your tax refund, and no other way. If you have no refund coming, they have no way to take it away from you!!

In the end, even if I had been caught, the $3,540. + the fee would have been less that the silver plan insurance at $10,680.00 AND the insurance would have been better.

The shitty part about this, is that for the most part, I am a law-abiding citizen. Thus, I will endanger my health to obey the law and I bought the compliant insurance.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

If Its Gray, It Stays…

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My grays hide when my hair is pulled back...

When I mention the amount of gray hairs my head is producing, my slightly, balding husband always responds, “If its gray, it stays.” I tried searching the internet to find out if this was actually true, however couldn’t find any research saying it’s true. I could, however find many debunked myths about how someone gets gray hair such as:

  • Pluck one, get 10 in return
  • Wash your hair daily to rid them
  • Trauma causes them
  • Low vitamin B12 levels
  • Sun damage
  • Smoking

I did find some research as to how gray hair does happen. Researchers at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom believe that when hydrogen peroxide builds up in our bodies, we go gray. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally in the human body and interferes with melanin, the pigment that colors our hair and skin. The body also produces the enzyme catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. As we age, catalase production diminishes, leaving nothing to transform the hydrogen peroxide into chemicals the body can release. Thus turning your colored locks into a sea of white.

Gray hair starting

There they are!! I am blessed with opalescent white hair.

Although you don’t need to be old to enjoy the look… Seems gray is the new blonde! Young stars such as Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Zayn Malik, and Kelly Osbourne are all sporting silver manes.

I’ve been a slave to the bottle since I was 16. Yes, there was hair dye in the early 1800’s 😉 I’ve been every color in the book and then some….. A few of my high school friends went into cosmetology school and I was their hair model. Luckily, I didn’t have to wear any hats after their assignments!!

I’m now 40 something and dying my hair every 5 weeks is getting old. Out of all the colors I’ve been, gray was not one of them, so I’ve decided to give it a shot. I’m not running off to buy a bottle of bleach… I don’t want to destroy my hair. Another reason that I want to stop dying it is that I’d like to grow it as long as possible. Everyone has a feature that is taken for granted, however everyone else would kill for. My hair is one of those features. I’ve been threatened to be scalped … even with my Eddie Munster hairline!

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Rouge from XMen

Here’s my plan:

Dye my hair back to its ‘pre-gray’ color, which is a dark reddish brown (Level 4). (Black=10 / Blonde=1).

Let hair grow in at least 2 inches (about 3 months) to see just how gray I am…. I think I’m70%.

Go with gray highlights of some sort, or a balayage look of just doing the hair framing my face? How about going Rouge?

See my PINTREST page here for other gray styles I love!

 

What are your thoughts? Are you going to go gray naturally or die dying??

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Savannah

We really wanted to get out and kayak while we were down in Savannah. The weather wasn’t so bad (for a Midwesterner), however the day we picked turned out to be very foggy. We were a bit uneducated dealing with tide information. Of course we knew what it was, just to what degree did the water change. Considering some of the piers we saw were 100’s of feet long, we figured we wanted to go during high tide, and ride low tide back out for less paddling.
We chose to launch from the Rodney J Hall Boat Ramp, as it was nearby, kayak friendly and free.

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MINE! MINE! MINE! Fish heads for the gulls. Ass fisherperson could have thrown them off the ramp, tho.

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Note the water is high on the poles. There’s a bird perched on every pole!

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I love how birds sit on the poles.

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This guy had a kayak that he peddled instead of paddled! Very cool!!

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Not sure what type of birds these are.

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The pelicans followed this guy like begging dogs! Too cute.

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I think these are oysters on the shores.

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The tide had gone out about 5 feet by the time we came back to the boat ramp.

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The water had gone down so much, we couldn’t get near the poles the birds were on at the beginning of the post.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah Blooming Flowers 1-1-2017

Happy JANUARY blooming flowers!! 😉 I know, that you know, that I know nothing blooms in Illinois, in January… Well, maybe an occasional Lenten rose… Or a houseplant… However, I was in Savannah, Georgia recently and all of these colorful blooms were here to meet me! Of course, I took photos of everything that had any color in the landscape, so there are some berries and seeds also.

A technique I use to identify things is knowing when something is in bloom. Folks will ask, “What’s the beautiful, blue flower I see blooming now (say May).” I know that the  pulmonaria family blooms then, show them a photo and they gasp, “YES!” Here in Savannah, it’s 3 zones different that me (me = 5 – here = 7/8), things aren’t blooming at the same time they bloom up North. I had to go on my botany skills… that flowers have families and knowing their ‘shapes’, I could get close on identifying them. I’m not going to go crazy trying to identify them, but if you know one I don’t, give a shout out in the comments.

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I’m going to start off strong with one I should be able to ID in any situation! Ilex verticillata ~ Winterberry  || I’m not sure of this one, but it has a salvia type flower and was a bush.

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Camellia japonica ~ So beautiful!!   ||  Strawberries anyone?

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Tradescantia ohiensis ~ Spiderwort    ||   A Rudbeckia ~ Black Eyed Susan

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Pentas lanceolata ~ We use these in our flower displays (as an annual), not sure if it actually grows here, or is used as an annual also.   || Woohoo! Azaleas! There were some blooming, but not all. I hear coming here in March is the best time for blooms.

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More Azalea    ||   I know this in the oenothera family, because the 5 star stigma is a trait of that family.

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Beautiful moss

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An avens, perhaps?

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Liverleaf Hepatica ~ Hepatica americana

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I’m not sure at all about this first one   ||   This one is in the aster family

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Lantana camara ~ Invasive here.

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Agave bracteosa ~ Variegated Agave   ||  A Honeysuckle

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I had to look this up, as I did have a Sago palm (cycas revoluta) at my house in Florida. Mine must have never bloomed before. This one is a female and that center is called megasporophylls. In typical male fashion, he blooms with a large spike.

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Looks like an annual?    ||   Another beautiful Camellia

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Variegated ginger    ||    More Camellias!!

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A ligularia of some sort, very cool   ||  More azaleas

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Nice to have spice right outside the door!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy Friday the 13th!!

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Happy Friday the 13th!! Do you have Paraskevidekatriaphobia or just the run of the mill Triskaidekaphobia?

It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do. .. You could always stay home and cuddle-up with your internet device and read Midwestern Plants all day!! =-)

Traditionally in numerology, 12 is considered the number of completeness: the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 12 Apostles, 12 hours of the clock, the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 days of Christmas – the list goes on. The number 13 is considered a transgression, or going beyond completeness.

There are many historical tales as to why either Friday or the number 13 are bad news:

  • Frigga (Frigg) The Norse love goddess and wife of Odin, was worshiped on the sixth day of the week. Christians though of Frigga as a witch, thus considered Friday to be the witches’ day.
  • Another Norse legend tells of one fine day in Valhalla, home to the 12 Norse gods, a party was taking place.  Loki (the trickster) crashed the party (13th guest) and arranged for Hoder (the blind god of darkness) to kill Baldr (the beautiful god of light) with a mistletoe-tipped arrow, his only way to die. After Baldr’s death, the world got dark and mourned the death of the god. Since then, the number 13 has been associated with gloom and doom.
  • Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and The Last Supper was believed to be attended by thirteen people. The thirteenth being Judas. (That story sounds familiar?)
  • Eve’s offering the apple to Adam in the Garden of Eden, supposedly happened on a Friday.
  • Chaucer even alluded to Friday as a day on which bad things seemed to happen in the Canterbury Tales as far back as the late 14th century (“And on a Friday fell all this mischance”), but references to Friday as a day connected with ill luck generally start to show up in Western literature around the mid-17th century: “Now Friday came, you old wives say, Of all the week’s the unluckiest day.”   (1656)

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The list goes on and on. Opposed to dwelling on the past, what can be done to avoid the curse of Friday the Thirteenth? Maybe try starting out your Friday with one of these folklore curse remedies*:

  • Climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper and burn all the socks you own that have holes in them
  • Stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle
  • Greeks think sponge baths cure you of curses
  • Spitting on the person or thing causing the curse will rid it
  • Place a black candle into the black bowl, fix the candle to the bowl using the wax
    drippings from the candle so that it stands alone.
    Fill the bowl to the rim with fresh water, without wetting the wick.

    Breathe deeply and meditate for a few minutes.
    When your mind is clear, light the candle.
    Visualize the power the spell cast against you as living within the candles flame.
    As the candle burns down, it will sputter and go out as it touches the water.
    As it is extinguished by the water, the curse is broken.
    Finally, dig a hole into the ground, pour the water into it, then bury the candle.
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Dr. Donald Dossey, author of “Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatments,” thinks he’s found the cure. Once a sufferer learns how to pronounce “paraskavedekatriaphobia,” he said in an interview with NPR, they’re magically cured.
Maybe The Cure is the Cure?
*These were researched answers I found on the internet. Thus, since I found these on the internet, they surely must be true and factual.
 =-) Ilex Farrell