Sunday, May 28, 2017

WEEKEND WISDOM: A "Tendon"cy for Uniqueness


A few years ago, I decided to do a fun bloggy thing in that I would share quirky and interesting information I came across while looking for other things. It may or may not have anything to do with gardening. I called this feature "Weekend Wisdom." I got distracted (a normal occurrence in my life) and I didn't do this on a very regular basis. Now it's the weekend and I just found something I want to tell you about.

Photo credit: Unknown
The human body is an amazing thing and I'm always thrilled to learn new and wonderful things about it that I didn't know before. The untapped potential alone for new and wonderful things is enough to make my mind explode. Here's the latest...

It seems that there is yet another thing that some of us have and some of us don't. There are supertasters - those people who have taste receptors that other people are missing. There are supersniffers too. (Lucky me, I'm both.) And now, it seems that some of us are missing some other body parts.

In your forearm, there is (or isn't) a particular muscle/tendon - the Palmarus longus. You can see if you have it or don't have it by touching you thumb to your pinky finger and then flexing your wrist. If you see a cord of tissue sticking up, that's your Palmarus longus. If the inside of your forearm remains pretty smooth and flat, you're in the approximately 15% of the population that doesn't have it.

I've got it...


My husband does not.

I wonder if either of our two girls are missing theirs. It can be missing on one arm and present on the other, and its general shape can vary as well.

The cool thing about this muscle, which is largely considered to be vestigial, is that it can be used to replace tendons in other parts of the body.


My husband now thinks he's more highly evolved than I am.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Trip to Mexico, A New Book, and This Blog


Goodness, look at the time! The last time I posted to my poor, neglected blog was at the end of January, when I was trying to grow an avocado plant from the pit inside one I'd received in a Blue Apron shipment. So much has happened since that time - unfortunately, that doesn't include a new avocado plant - that I don't know if I'll ever get caught up writing about it all, but you've got to start somewhere, right?

http://amzn.to/2q7e3bb

I wrote my latest book during the fall and early winter, and that involved some pretty intense writing time. Here's how I did it...

I literally holed up in a bedroom and did nothing but write, research, and write and research, for four straight weeks. The bulk of my book got written in that time, with many other small writing sessions and lots of editing in the weeks that followed that writing marathon.

For some odd reason, I tend to write better and am more prolific when I'm under pressure and there's nothing like a looming deadline to provide that. With a project as large as writing an entire book all by yourself (my first one - Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants - was with co-author and friend, Jenny Peterson), concentration and staying on task is paramount and there's no one more easily distracted than I am. Thus, pretty much shutting myself off from the outside world was the only way I was going to accomplish everything I needed to do to get that book out the door.

My bed was my desk for weeks.

After I got home from the GWA (Garden Writers Association) Annual Symposium in Atlanta last September, I looked at Romie as I headed into the bedroom which became my office, and said, "See you in three weeks," and went to work. That three weeks became four.

Jenny and Brett Davis
November 5, 2016
During that time, I got bronchitis and sure didn't feel like writing, but the book didn't care. So I slept and wrote and slept and wrote, and took my antibiotics. I got well enough to travel to Texas to see Jenny get married and visit a couple of other friends, Diana Kirby and Pam Penick, only to return home and contract pneumonia. Romie joined me in that fun. Not the trip to Texas. The pneumonia.

Then it was Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, and then book editing with both St. Lynn's Press editor, Cathy Dees, and Art Director, Holly Rosborough. Just when that was almost finished, Romie and I went off to Mexico, chasing monarchs, but not before I had another bout with bronchitis. I have to think stress had something to do with my less-than-stellar immune system, which has never been all that fantastic since I had bacterial meningitis in 1999.

Overwintering monarch butterflies cluster on the oyamel fir trees at
El Rosario sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico.

By the time we got back from Mexico in early March, last minute book editing was the order of the day and then the book was finally off to the printer, in time for its release date of April 12th. The book has enjoyed the position of #1 Hot New Release on Amazon, off and on, ever since its release was first announced back in August, but nearly always has held that spot in the month prior to April 12th and in the month since. It has also received 21 5-star reviews so far on Amazon, and some very positive reviews on blogs. I'm grateful.

So, with my next post, which WILL be within the next week, I'll just dig right in and start telling you about the events I've attended, the gardens I've visited, the new (to me) garden products I've tested, and of course, that fabulous trip to Mexico. I promise.



Monday, January 30, 2017

Grow Your Own Avocados


Wow, was this ever a throwback to my college days. Back in the days of macrame, yogurt makers, and prayer plants - otherwise known as The Seventies - homes, apartments, and dorm rooms everywhere could be seen with this sitting on their window sills:


It was ever so cool to grow your own avocado plant from a pit found inside one you'd gotten at the grocery store. I did it, my friends did it, and I'm betting some of you did it too. I honestly don't remember if I was successful at actually getting that thing to germinate or not, but I tried.

With the trade situation with Mexico kind of up in the air right now, there's been a lot of talk about what things are likely to go up in price if things change. Avocados and limes are mentioned, as is Corona beer and tequila. I can live without all of them, but each one enjoys popularity here in the U.S.

So, about this growing your own avocado thing . . .  Even if I can manage to get this avocado pit to germinate, it's highly unlikely that I will be able to grow an avocado tree that produces any fruit.

First of all, I don't live where avocados would be happy. They're hardy in USDA Zones 8-11 and I'm in Zone 5b, though I do have a greenhouse and they also make excellent house plants. Secondly, even if I can keep it happy, it can take from 4-13 years for an avocado tree to bear fruit. Some trees never do yield anything.



When I cut open an avocado last week and saw that pit, it took me back (sing it with me now . . . "You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest,") and I kind of wanted to try it again. What did I have to lose?

If you want to try it too, it couldn't be easier. Just clean the avocado pit, let it dry, then poke toothpicks into it to suspend it over a jar of water, with the fat side down. Place it in a warm spot and keep the water level so that its bum is submerged. In about 2-6 weeks, you should see both a root and a stem sprouting. At that point, be sure it's in a well-lit location.

As it grows, once the stem reaches 6-8 inches, prune it in half to induce branching. Once it has started to branch, you can plant it in a container of well-draining potting soil. Be sure to leave the top part of the pit exposed, similar to how you plant an amaryllis bulb.

Don't overwater, but don't let it dry out completely. In the summer, you can put it outside, where it will likely grow faster, but make sure to bring it in once temperatures dip below 45°F.

Far out, man.


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