by ESP on December 18, 2011

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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