Funny flowers

How else to describe them?

Strange flowers without leaves, Uruguay

They grow like little sticks out of the ground with no leaves, make pretty pink flowers, then go away. Until this time next year.

Do you have any idea what they’re called?


A friend generously brought me a cactus shortly after we moved here. One of my son’s friends figured out what kind of cactus it was, and stole a chunk.  I never learned anything more about that. The whole top part you see is what has regrown in six years since he cut a chunk off.

Alas, a recent windstorm broke two of the three branches — but not the new one!

San Pedro cactus

I gave away the tip of one branch. The other I planted. The bright green indicates new growth.

Cactus growth

And the broken branches are busy regenerating as well.

Alas, two bits don’t seem to be faring very well.

San Pedro cactus cuttings

Maybe I’ll have to find another use for them?


An early Christmas present

Years ago, a fellow expat told me about a long clamp he bought at Tienda Inglesa, very handy for making clean plywood cuts with a circular saw. I went to Tienda Inglesa, and — reminiscent of trying to find a ”special” item that you didn’t buy the first time you saw it at Costco — there were none. And there have been none. Until yesterday!

120 cm clamp
The clamp on top of one of my first attempts at cabinetry, including very disappointing not-straight cuts.

So it’s an early Christmas present. Time to try again to make a cabinet!

In other news, a bloom:

succulent blooming

I think we’ve had these plants at least three years. This is a first.

A busy 24 hours

Yesterday evening, a Namibian farmer of German descent who relocated here showed me how the thorny branches of the two orange trees salvaged from my failed country growing attempt were in fact suckers, growing from the root stock, and would never contribute anything. I had no idea that orange trees were grafted! So those bits went away first thing this morning.

Then to start the rounds: butcher, vegetable stand, plant some squash plants in the campo, report to the glass people that the window they just installed leaks like a ________, take back to Tienda Inglesa a USD 8 LED light bulb that failed in less than a month, and then to the hardware store.

paint swatch and light bulb
When I buy these “good for 20 years“ bulbs now, I label them with the source and date purchased. 20 years=<1 month? Unh hunh.

On the left, a swatch I made from the lovely color we painted the inside of the casita (little house) so I could consider it for the house in the country. The hardware store (ferretería) people were very helpful in instructing me how to mix one liter of brown paint into 18 of white, and so when the casita nearly exhausted our first batch, I prepared a second. Yes, what you see below on that swatch. Completely different color.

I took photos of the successful paint job in the casita, the mess in wife’s office, and the radical difference in color and coverage. I took a picture of a swatch of the second batch painted over the first.

Quality control, paint, Uruguay: the two results from mixing identical ingredients
Sorry, but they are identical. Honest.

And the paint containers.

paint containers

The reaction of Ferretería Villa de Sol? Never mind different colored labels, never mind different numbers written on top, never mind the radically different results, these are exactly the same product. We don’t know what happened, and we’re really really sorry. Can we offer to help you find a solution? No. Can we contact the distributor or manufacturer? No (are you mad?).

Unfortunately in Uruguay, es loy que hay (it’s what it is). Accept mediocrity, because.

Speaking of which, recall my amusement at the cluelessness of people who obviously (great location!) had firewood, but offered no way to get it. A few years on, apparently a light bulb has illuminated:

Basic marketing. What an amazing concept.

I will add that perhaps before they did wholesale, but: the retail potential of their location should have been obvious long, long ago.

So, what else?

pear tree

Wife pointed out that the fence we installed for dogs in the front yard was based on presence of bushes, not property line. Pear tree we planted is looking bounteous (bleh, crap photo), but it’s as though it’s chemically repelled by those bushes — notice how branches starting to the right reverse direction and grow to the left. With the revelation (what’s this about delayed light bulbs?) that I had an extra half meter to work with, I tore into the bushes. And will do more.

Go, pear tree. go!

Meanwhile, backyard, the butchered hibiscus offers today a couple flowers, for the first time.

Hibiscus blooming

Ready for a glass of wine, dinner, and read a book. My day in Uruguay.


Sick trees?

On our dog walk today, Syd pointed out how unhealthy many trees looked — should they appear like this in spring? I agreed. The more you look, the more you see. And those strange hazy skies? Syd thinks it’s the result of aerial shpraying, as a certain German we know insists.

After I got home, I took my camera as I walked to the feria (street market). Wow! Lots of unhappy-looking trees, indeed.

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Right across the street from us.

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Damaged/unhealthy trees, Atlántida, Uruguay

Then, in the feria, I ran across Pilar, host of blueberry picking and the feria orgánica (see Atlántida Events in the menu bar above), and asked her.

Yes, she said, the wind has been horrible, regaling me with stories about her torn-up shade arbor, piles of plums on the ground and lost blueberries as well (I’ll see on Saturday morning) because of the recent winds. She says the wind damages branches, allows contaminación and hongos (fungus) and insects to invade the weakened parts of the tree.

Pilar knows her stuff. She advises the Uruguayan government on hemp and marijuana production (former promising, latter disappointing because the chosen distributors — pharmacies — apparently want nothing to with marijuana. Hmm, less profitable than pharmaceuticals? Or something else?).

Anyway, weather’s getting weird, and it may be the result of some “geoengineering.” But for now I’m going with weather, and not aerosols, for the damaged trees. We simply have nothing here like the shpraying I so clearly saw in North Carolina, Spokane, and later developing in Mexico.