Hickory Horned Devil

I should probably add this baby to a gallery for my orchids and gardening website, but for now, I’ll just post it here.  We found this hickory horned devil at the base of our huge ash tree.  It’s stage 5-instar, so it was probably looking to burrow into the ground to pupate for the winter.  Yes, we put it back where we found it, after I took its picture.

That caterpillar makes my middle finger look shrimpy.  Supposedly, the Regal Moth has a wingspan of 4-6″, which is about what I’m used to seeing with the bats that come out to feed shortly after dusk.  Not the best picture, given that I took it indoors with flash.  It’s a pretty fierce looking thing with a body that’s pastel blue-green, and a bunch of horns, but they’re harmless.  The ash can easily withstand having a branch or two defoliated.

Garden Harvest

This time of year, harvesting the fruits and veggies is a daily task.  I went out at 8 am, to do harvest duty.  I got a few peppers (yellow banana, and cayenne), two eggplants, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and another handful of Kentucky Wonder green beans.  Many more peppers can be picked any time I need them for dinner, but leaving them on the plants for another few days won’t do any harm.

Next, I dove into the wood margin, wearing long pants and a long sleeved mock turtleneck t-shirt to pick raspberries.  It’s sort of my hazmat suit, given all the poison ivy that’s in there.  I couldn’t care less about all the virginia creeper.  I only got a little over half a pint of raspberries today, but add them to the ones I snagged since Thursday, and we’re going to have a heck of a cheesecake, a few smoothies, or make jam or syrup.

Blueberry syrup is my favorite, but raspberry comes in a really close second.  Raspberry syrup on light, fluffy pancakes is divine!  A dollop of whipped cream is optional.

BTW, we have two quarts of blueberries.  They have so many possibilities.  I think a blueberry buckle is in our future.


I come from one of the only two states in the nation in which it’s illegal to pump your own gas.  I didn’t know about the little switch on the gas pump handle that makes it hold there to a faster or slower pump rate.

Pre-paying for gas was a foreign concept to me.  It is no longer.  I feel enlightened.  Why gas costs half a dollar more per gallon when you have to pump your own, rather than pull into a station at which a gas attendant does it for you, is beyond me.

“Pump number 3, $40 dollars worth.”

I was running on reserve, warning light on, and all, so I had to get gas pronto.

The good news is that on our errand run, we got a new log splitter maul that was better than the one that broke, and a couple of bags of groceries that we needed.

I swore I was going to drag S through Wegman’s one day, and I did so.  He was as awed about the place as I was.  It’s the place to go for fresh fish, and other animal flesh.  I’m a little less awed about their selection of fresh produce — they were totally out of cilantro.

Next time, maybe they will have it.  I should have grown it in my garden.


Now I know why this place is so popular.  The garden center part of it is alright, for selection, and has competitive prices, but other places are probably better — Buckmann’s for instance.  The indoors, grocery part, is great for fresh produce!

I got three quarts of their own strawberries, a huge head of red leaf lettuce, two bunches of ripe tomatoes still on the vine, half a pint of crab dip, and 6 ears of corn.  I got one of those quarts of strawbs for free, as part of their sale deal, and since I’d spent $25+ at the place, I got all six ears of corn for free.

As for the gardening center part of it outside, I bought a flat of dianthus, half a flat of dark purple verbena (I would have bought a whole flat, but that’s all they had left), two tall white phloxes, two cherry tomato plants, a few canteloupe seedlings, and one cucumber seedling.

S hates cherry tomatoes.  He loves tomatoes; he just has an issue with the garden space these hog vs. larger varieties.  Too fucking bad.

Woo-hoo — Two New Galleries

. . . are available on The Orchid Place.  I have a new “Garden 2009” gallery uploaded, as well as a “Roses 2009” gallery.

I’m really beginning to love the Jalbum software I use to compile these galleries.  At least Jalbum doesn’t force me to store them on their servers and link over to them.  I compile and store them locally, modify the relevant index page footers to add my own copyright, FTP the suckers up to the right subdirectories at my web host, and bingo-bango, it all works.

For direct links to those two galleries, click on the one(s) you want to view:

Alright — enough pimping my flower porn.  Until my next batch of roses bloom over the next week or so, that is . . .

I love roses.  So, sue me.  😉

First Rose of the Year

As much as I dislike orange, this one’s not so bad.  It was just there among the foundation plantings the previous owner had.  Judging by all the other roses, some I planted, and others that were already there, it should only be another week or two before the place starts to pop with blooms.

The previous owner had a thing for hybrid teas, which are nice, but generally are hit-or-miss in terms of hardiness for this USDA zone, and some are really susceptible to black spot.  I prefer antique roses — Reines des Violettes, Cécile Brünner, Sombreuil, Grüss an Aachen, etc.  Most of the ones I like in the catalogs are mosses or gallicas.

Let’s hope the damn deer don’t get them.  A deer already munched one of the roses that had been planted perhaps a foot from the house.  The telltale sign it was a deer is the clean 45 degree angle bites, roughly waist height.  I put some wind chimes out there, after I saw that, and there hasn’t been any further damage to it.  It never should have been planted that close to the house, but it’s too well established by now to easily transplant, and this isn’t the time of year to attempt it, anyway.

New Garden Post on The-Orchid-Place

It’s about veggie gardening at our new house, so skip it if you couldn’t care less.  You won’t hurt my feelings in the least.  That’s not why people visit The Rusty Nail, anyway.

I had to change the blog theme, since the one I liked a lot, and originally installed, refused to format multiple paragraphs correctly, regardless of whether I used the visual or html editor.  The new one’s not too bad; at least the paragraphs are separated, so it doesn’t look like a wall-o-text.  I’ll eventually get around to changing the header image so that it’s not a rose, even though I grow a lot of those, along with my other flowers, fruits, and veggies.


A funny thing happened on the way to the orchids.  Some of you may know that my brother died roughly a year and a half ago.  Remember all that bullshit with Nicky railing on and on for weeks about me fucking his corpse, then his ashes?

My brother used to host my orchid website for me.  The servers were left running for a few weeks, but after that, poof.  I maintained it myself, so I had all the files to upload elsewhere, but he had registered it for me in his name for 10 years, and there were something like three years left until it expired.  After dragging my feet for a long time, I decided not to wait until the domain came up for renewal, and just bought a similar domain with hosting for it.

Since these things can take two or three days to get seeded throughout the internet, I worked on it from the back end for a little while, but it wasn’t publicly available.  Then I forgot about it for a few months.

Finally, I got off my butt and pulled an all-nighter to whip it into shape, fueled by coffee and nicotine.  I’d forgotten how many picture galleries there were.  I’d even forgotten to FTP a few of them up to the site, and a couple of them had multiple index pages.  That’s a lot of pages to edit, especially since it dawned on me that they all contained cute little house icons that pointed to the old domain name, plus I had to change all the footers.

Top that off with making sure the files for the entire domain were in a subdirectory of my primary account, dictated by my web host, and yeah, it took me all night.  I ended up doing a little trial and error, then writing down where the files belong at the host, and where I pulled them off my hard drive, so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch next time I do maintenance on it.

The software I used to generate those picture galleries dates back to 2001.  No way was I about to regenerate all of them, and fiddle with the settings for each to try to make them look prettier.  Some I didn’t bother to upload at all, and probably won’t.  I had to laugh when I saw that some had the logo.gif file on the index pages, and others didn’t.  That logo has the old domain name.  I can fix that graphic later.  At least the footers have the correct domain name.

Anyway, the pages and galleries are up, all the links work, and so does the blog I decided to add for the first time.  God do those old galleries look quaint!

I’ll add more galleries when I get around to creating them.  I certainly have enough pictures to do several more, but am reluctant to keep using an eight year old copy of Arles.  There’s got to be something a whole lot more customizable, and not so archaic looking.  I’ll find something I like.

So . . . if anyone’s curious enough to go take a poke around, here’s the home page.  Navigation’s pretty easy once you get there.