by ESP on December 18, 2011 · 8 comments

Oh come on…it could have been another episode of the  “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.”

Unfortunately this gulf coast Tiddalik that Kumo kindly decided to deposit in our saltillo hallway was not quite so lucky on the moisture front…

Dead Gulf_Coast_Toad

Bad Kumo!

I have been wondering why our postman has not been delivering our christmas cards of late!

Bad Kumo!

It has been a couple of crazy busy weeks in the Patch.  Between the highly polarized activities of moving large quantities of granite,Tejas black gravel and Christmas shopping, the strains of the festive period are beginning to show in us all.

Stockings have been hung,

the tree decorated, and now for the build-up to the big-day. This prolonged finger-drumming wait is taking its toll psychologically on the halflings:

“Is it Christmas tomorrow”?


“Can we open our presents now”?


“Is it Christmas tomorrow”?


“Can we ope… Arrghh!

I decided it was time to pick satsumas before I completely lost my mind.

We only had two satsumas this year, they were huge and tasted thoroughly disgusting, their texture resembling potatoes more then fruit.

If my satsumas were potatoes then my pond filter cleaning was going to provide the gravy:

No wonder water was struggling to circulate through all of this, but I am not complaining, oh no, quite the opposite.

Whenever I clean this filter I harvest the finest sludge available to humanity.


I spread the gravy around the base of some lucky plants and trees with a maniacal grin on my face, to rot and wash down into the soil over the winter months. This has to be the best compost – 

fish excrement, mineral deposits, a pinch of salt and pepper and numerous other unmentionables all go into the complexity of this nutrient-rich soup.

Moving on:

Shock-pink celosia is putting on a gaudy winter display, I just hope enough of them will set seed to enable a harvest for next year.

Bees flood to this plant for a welcome mid-winter meal.

In stark contrast to the colorful celosia,

my hoja santa now bare a distinct resemblance to the Nazgû after the temperatures recently ducked to freezing, stripping the plants of their foliage.

Agave parryi would surely swing the balance of power in Middle Earth.

Another plant that is still putting on a good show is:

Podranea ricasoliana

This desert trumpet vine is attempting to completely engulf my neighbors wrought iron fence. Every time it makes contact with the ground, it takes root and forms another plant. Apart from the occasional bucket of water in the middle of August, this plant breezes through our tough and unpredictable central Texas weather.


“Don’t tread on an ant he’s done nothing to you
There might come a day when he’s treading on you
Don’t tread on an ant you’ll end up black and blue
You cut off his head, legs come looking for you.”

It appears like I am in big trouble then…I cut down this dead limb on a mountain laurel at a clients house the other day and from the hole in the center rushed out hundreds of huge ants.  I had to wait a few minutes to allow the first few waves of workers to dissipate before venturing into the carnage with my camera.

Limbs, heads and torsos were strewn everywhere.

“Ach ESP, these things happun on the battlefield ye-ken…dunnai ye fret mun”.

These ants are

Camponotus sp.


workers feature greatly enlarged mandibular glands that run the entire length of the ant’s body. some species of Camponotus can release the contents of these glands suicidally, rupturing the ant’s body and spraying toxic substance from the head, which gives these species the common name “exploding ants.” The glue from the glands bursts out and immobilizes all nearby victims. I am so happy this did not happen to me, I could have been stuck out there for weeks.

Inspirational image of the week:

This week’s Inspirational image of the week comes from BERTHOLD haas who forges creative magic into rather large chunks of stone…

…In this case a carved limestone boulder fountain.


Stay Tuned for:

“Yule-Tidy all that up…Right?”


All material © 2011 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


 Here is some new footage from over the summer and the latest score from the Neheughkian Quartet:

Merry Christmas from us all in the Patch!


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1 Gail December 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Love the video at the end. Little Mr. seems much more interested in dancing than jumping into the pool. :)

They both loved that pool in S.Padre, we could hardly get them out of it to do anything! We pretty much had the place to ourselves which was really nice.

2 Bob Pool December 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Your going to give that dog a complex if you don’t quit telling him how bad he is….. Sludge Man.

That pond sludge looked disgusting. And who should play in it? The kids? Oh nooooo, only Philip has it on his hands. Well here’s one for you; Bad Philip, bad Sludge Man.

Hi Bob.

Hey, who are you calling Sludge Man!
My kids tried to get involved in the gunk harvest, but I have to admit that when it comes to not wasting any of this precious resource I apparently turn into a fanactic dictator and ban them from the nearby vicinity.

The Evil Sludge Man.

3 Gardenista December 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

Your sludge? Absolutely lovely stuff I’m sure but I’m suddenly grateful my computer doesn’t have smellivision features. Long ago and far away my then husband-to-be worked plant magic with sludge left over from his undergrad microbiology lab work. Plants certainly have their own ideas about what wonderful means.

Merry Christmas right back to you and yours! (Try an Advent calendar with your kids – ought to be plenty on sale by now – helps to fend off the half hourly “are we there yet” prompts).

Hi TD.

It looks like it would smell doesn’t it, but it really has no aroma at all. Okay perhaps it is a little “pondy” with subtle whiff of decay…but It is gold-sludge, I would mine it if I could. Perhaps even wallow?

My parents always send Advent calendars from Scotland every year which really starts the Christmas season off for the halflings. My four year old forgets the connection with time passing though, choosing instead to focus on the chocolates embedded inside the calendar.

I cannot blame him.


4 Bob Pool December 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Now I never called you evil. I also never said Merry Christmas but I meant to. Merry Christmas to you, the missus and the little ones.

No you didn’t, and a Merry Christmas to you Bob. I hope Santa brings you some new socks, oh and make sure to leave out some milk…I would hate for him and his thirsty reindeer to drain all your cisterns of water after our recent rains. ESP.

5 cheryl December 20, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I love that limestone boulder fountain! I want one!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your delightful family members!

Berthold does some really stunning work with stone…I want one of his fountains too!
Merry Christmas Cheryl.

6 Pam/Digging December 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Merry Christmas, Philip and the other inhabitants of the Patch! See you in the new year!

And a merry Christmas to you too Pam.

7 Jenny December 24, 2011 at 8:08 am

Merry Christmas to everyone at the patch.

Merry Christmas to you too Jenny.

8 Linda Lehmusvirta December 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Merry Christmas to you all, even Botox lady! Is it time to open presents yet? By the way, a viewer just sent me a picture to ID from a neighbor’s garden. Celosia! In the New Year, it’d be fun to make this plant of the week. Could I check with you then for your magic touch, where you got it, and maybe one of your fabulosa pictures? Happy fun to you all bright & early tomorrow!

Merry Christmas to you too Linda.

I think Celosia would make a great CTG plant of the week. I have just finished gathering seed for next year and I would be delighted to supply anything you need (lets just say I have one or two pictures of this particular plant :-)


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