18 Year Wait

Wisteria in bloom for the 1st time in 18 years

I’d given up hope on this wisteria ever blooming. We received it as a gift when we moved here 18 years ago. But yesterday, it stunned us by blooming for the first time. Lovely white and purple fragrant flowers with dabs of yellow.

Wisteria blossoms up close

I read once that soil with too much nitrogen can keep wisteria from blooming. Made sense as I planted it near an old septic system. Perhaps by now the rain has leached the soil enough so the wisteria can bloom. Or maybe this plant just needed all those years to decide what kind of flowers to put on display.

False lily of the valley

The false lily of the valley are in bloom. They give the forest floor a soothing, cool look. They are also called snake berry and two-leaved Solomon’s seal. Maianthemum dilatatum is their scientific name.

I’ve always wanted a quick way to see the etymology of these scientific names. And now I have one. According to ChatGPT Maianthemum dilatatum means:

Maianthemum: This genus name is derived from the Greek words “Maios” meaning “May” and “anthemon” meaning “flower”. It refers to the flowering period of plants in this genus, which often occurs in May.

dilatatum: This species name comes from Latin, where “dilatatus” means “spread out” or “expanded”. It likely refers to a characteristic of the plant, possibly the spread of its leaves or its colony-forming habit.

So Maianthemum dilatatum means a May flower that spreads out. That pretty much describes it. Spreading May flower, I almost like that better than the common names.

Bleeding hearts

I always called these bleeding hearts, but they are actually Pacific bleeding hearts, Dicentra formosa, which means Two-spurred beauty.

Apple blossoms

And the apples are about done blooming. When the apples are done blooming, spring is almost over.

The many blooms of this time of year ease the stress of modern life. You know how words change their meaning over time. I think that the use of tech companies to describe their products as “smart” will eventually change the meaning of smart to mean stupid, aggravating, even deranged and insane, Alice in Wonderland mad.

I decided after many years of consideration to try an iRobot Roomba to vacuum the house. iRobot claims it is smart. It can make a map of your floors and vacuum any room on command. Sounds good. Sounds smart. What is not to like?

Before I begin my rant, my floors have never been cleaner. They get thoroughly vacuumed every day. So that is a plus. But to call a Roomba smart is a stretch, a leap of faith, a voyage into absurdity. A claim that could put you in an insane asylum.

After many, many, many hours it will eventually create a map of your floors that is decent. But can the Roomba read this map it created and follow it? Evidently the programmers at iRobot forgot to program that ability into this “smart” device.

I think they purposely left out the feature where the app places a dot on the map where the Roomba thinks it is. Because the Roomba has no clue where it is! Neither does it have any sense of direction. I’ve learned that in order for it to reach the dining room, I need to make sure it cleans one or two rooms between the homebase where it resides and charges. Otherwise, it will never find the dining room. Forget about finding rooms further away from the homebase.

I tell it to vacuum the dining room. Once it is in the hallway, it is a straight 15 foot path to the dining room. All it has to do is get into the hallway and go straight. A smart thing surely could do that. But the Roomba is incapable of going straight. It will bang against the walls of the hallway, turn around, meander into other rooms along the way, get hopelessly lost, and return to the homebase, with a message that the pathway is blocked. Of course it is blocked if you aim for the walls! I’ve seen it get to the edge of the dining room. Another inch forward and it would be there! But it is hopelessly lost and decides to go home. Starting another arduous effort, zig-zagging down the hallway until by sheer luck it finds the homebase. Not something a “smart” device would ever do.

I sometimes wonder if our dogs have found where the local drug dealers hide their stashes of cocaine in the woods. Maybe they are bringing back cocaine dust on their feet and spreading it around the house. Cocaine dust that the Roomba sucks up and gets high from. That would explain its mindless behavior.

I’ve had it a week, and learned to accept its lack of smarts. It works well if I just give it simple tasks, clean one or two rooms at a time. If I want it to go all the way to the other end of the house, give it a room or two along the way to vacuum, and make sure the doors to other rooms are closed. It has the attention span of a three year old. It wants to go into any open door it finds. Forget about the map. There’s an open door here! What’s in there?

And if all else fails, carry the thing into the room, turn it on, and close the door. Let it clean until it starts banging against the door or wall looking for a way to get out. By then the room will be clean. It’s like asking a two year old child to do chores.

And now, after lowering my expectations to nil, I’ve figured out how to get the stupid thing to do what I want it to.

When I first started programming, my bosses always told me to under promise and over deliver. It seems that those in charge of tech companies today love to promise the moon and deliver turds. It’s no wonder everyone is in therapy these days.

So if you are thinking of getting one of these “smart” vacuuming robots, lower your expectations. Laugh at their silly antics as they go zig-zagging every which way but the direction they should be going. And in time, you’ll get them to do what you want. Just don’t call them smart. Or wait 18 years. They may be smart by then.

Of Bleeding Hearts and Fading Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms on the ground

The cherry blossoms all drifted to the ground a while back. One late, warm, spring snow to say good bye to winter for good this season.

Bleeding heart blossoms.
Fruiting cherry blossoms

Bleeding hearts and fruiting cherry blossoms take their place. With so many flowers in bloom, the humming bird feeder dangles empty. I might as well put it away until first frost. If I was a humming bird I’d rather sip fresh nectar from flowers instead of bland sugar water. I’m sure the flavors of the different flower nectars are far more interesting than sugar water.

Chicks eating cantaloupe

The Bielefelder chicks keep growing. They love cantaloupe. They also love liver, probably their favorite thing to eat next to earthworms. When I put a plate out piled with slivers of raw liver, it is like feeding sharks. The chicks go wild scarfing up the liver and chasing each other around until every last bit is gone. I’d post a video of it, but it may make you faint. One second you have calm, peaceful chicks. The next second you have blood thirsty carnivores ripping things to shreds. If chickens were the size of ostriches, we’d all be in trouble.

Chickens on hand.

It’s hard to imagine these lovely birds as blood thirsty carnivores. But looks can be deceiving.

Chicks perched on leg.

Or these friendly chicks, hopping all over me. But who knows what they are thinking? Maybe they are just looking for an open sore to start pecking away until I am nothing but a skeleton.

On May 10 they will be a month old.

These are going to be the tamest chickens I’ve ever had. Hopefully when they have young next year or next, they will still be tame and teach their young I am not a monster to be feared.