Friday, July 17, 2009


Sometimes, I find myself wishing that I still got as excited, about going to Dallas, as I did when we were first married. I remember a time when I'd be bouncing in my seat by the time we turned onto Kenwood, the street where I grew up. I suppose this is the way God intended it, this gradual weaning of ourselves away from our parents and siblings over the decades. It probably helps to prepare us for what's to come: for seeing your parents fade and crumble right before your very eyes, along with your childhood home; for learning to step back from your family's troubles and woes, and allow them to live their lives however they see fit; for learning to lean on them less and less as we become more and more confident about knowing our own minds, and making our own way in the world. I suppose this is a very good thing, and that I should be quite grateful for it, right? Still, going home just ain't what it used to be!

* * *
Well, I was already in a bundle about this trip to Dallas. It sounds like Mom is really going downhill fast, and my sister who cares for her is teetering on the edge herself. We finally managed to wade through the swamp of bureaucracy that is the medicaid approval process, and got Mom okayed for assistance, but haven't yet found a facility that can take her. So, I knew that this weekend was going to be mostly about allowing sis to vent her frustrations, without having a clear-cut way to help her out of this mess.

I was quite relieved when John and Austin agreed to meet me in Dallas, thinking they'd lighten the atmosphere a bit. Then I remembered that where Austin goes, Guinness goes (the puppy, not the beer). That's usually a great thing, as far as I'm concerned, but maybe not in this situation, with Mom so tottery and trip-prone. She also has her nights and days turned around, and is likely to be wandering the house at all hours. Since Guinness, who will be sleeping with Austin in the living area, startles easily, she is liable to wake up the whole neighborhood with her barking, each time she hears Mom on the move!

Now, to top it all off, I just got an email from my hubby, saying, "I don't want to alarm you, but my blood pressure is running a bit high lately (translation: it must have gone through the roof, for him to even bring it up). I'm trying to get a call in to my cardiologist, but I doubt if I'll hear back from him before we leave for Dallas at noon." So, on top of everything else, I get to spend the weekend worrying that John is going to stroke out on me? Criminy!

P.S. That's a photo of Mom and little Lex, in happier times.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I need help. For the most part, we plan to leave our property in its native state. Life's too short to spend your weekends mowin', when there are so many other great "-in's" out there, like explorin', meetin', tastin', dancin', and partyin'. I mean, really, isn't that why we escaped from the burbs in the first place? Besides, I love my sea of native grasses that ripple in the breeze. But, there is this one area, directly in front of our house, that's a real eyesore. Though it has a few good things going for it, like a Texas Persimmon tree, a Ginko Biloba, some agaves and Texas Mountain Laurel, it mostly just looks weedy, rather than wild, has piles of rocky debris leftover from when the house was built ten years ago, and has steps leading down from the porch that just stop, and don't connect to anything. Ick!

So, here's what I'm thinking: I need at least one little area, somewhere on the property, where I can grow a few herbs, a few veggies, and a few ornamentals, without having to fight the deer on a daily basis. I'm thinking I need a Texas Hill Country/Spanish Mission/Mexican Cantina style courtyard kitchen garden! What do ya think?

It would need a fence of some sort - something that would deter the deer, without blocking the view of the house or making the area too shady for veg. An arched entry with a really cool scavenged gate or door would be awesome. I want a mix of materials and textures, like galvanized metal and dyed stucco, maybe some tile or mosaic, and if we could utilize stuff that's just lying around here, like that pile of stone, or all those cedar logs, that would be veddy, veddy good! I want lots of color (I'll take lurid over pastel any day) and twinkle lights. There has to be twinkle lights. And maybe some cantina lights and decorations.

So, guess that's about it. Do you think that's too much to ask? Do you happen to know a great-but-reasonably-priced landscaper here in the Hill Country, who'd be willing to whip out a design and install the hardscaping for us? Nope, already checked with Pamela over at Digging. Turns out she has the same kind of business I used to - where she does designs for the DIY-ers in the burbs, but the only installing she does is her own! Can't say that I blame her. Anyone else who could get this fiesta garden rolling?

Monday, July 13, 2009


...and a new way of living! Is this the road you are on? If so, why not veer off at the next exit, and join us here, on the road to the good life? More from Chris Rea: The Road To Hell

P.S. Many thanks to for the above image.


I present to you my favorite daughter, the amazing Alexis - who claims not to understand why people are always telling her she looks like me - and who also happens to have been the most recent winner in our book give-away. All that talk about food got her to thinkin':

A Possible Solution to a Catch 22

I was lying in bed this morning, not wanting to get up, when I started thinking about what my mom wrote about in her blog about Food, Inc., and gardening more. Problem is, low income families can't afford nutritious wholesome foods, and are forced to settle for junk. This junk makes them sick with heart disease and diabetes which require treatment with expensive medications and testing equipment. If they want to get better they need healthy food, which they can't afford. If these families don't have enough money to buy a little produce, they certainly don't have the capital needed to start a garden, assuming they are lucky enough to live in a house with a back yard to garden in. Anybody who lives in an apartment knows that landlords get pretty angry if you try to dig up their flower beds to plant a few vegetables.

After stewing over this for a while I started thinking about how those who do have a victory garden often end up with too much produce, and are often giving it away so it doesn't go to waste. A "what if " occurred to me.

Victory gardeners are fairly well organized with groups all over the country. All you have to do is type Victory Garden, (insert your city here) into Google and you will end up with a list of various groups and forums specific to your area. What if they partnered with their local school districts, churches or some other non-profit like Goodwill to start an Adopt-a-Family program?

Each gardener, instead of handing out their spare produce sporadically to different people, could adopt an individual low income family and give all their spare produce to that family. That way this family now has access to nutritious foods to feed their children, while freeing up some of their income to help them get ahead and pry themselves out of the loop that they are stuck in. In return the families can perform community services, or possibly the kids of said family could help out in the garden, giving the gardener free labor, while the kids also learn about nutrition and how to grow their own food, so that they may provide good foods for their families in the future.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I have this blogger friend, who writes as Redneck Mother. She has two sons that she calls Rocket Boy and Hurricane Head, and a husband known as Hombre. I'll let you in on a little secret, that most people don't know: Hombre's real name is Chris Barton, and he has written a super-cool children's book called THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. It's all about the guys who really did invent day-glo paint, right in their own basement, but it wasn't in the Hippie 60's like most people think. It was during the depression!

We went to hear Hombre talk yesterday, at Book People over in Austin, and he autographed a copy of his book for us. Good thing we nabbed our copy early, since within thirty minutes of his talk, they were completely sold out! (don't worry, more are on the way) I'll let you in on another secret, if you promise not to tell. We're not even planning to keep our neato-keeno, super-dooper autographed copy of The Day-Glo Brothers. Nope, it's going to our neato-keeno, super-dooper, karate-chopping, survival-camp-surviving, soda-pop inventing and experiment-loving niece. She may not be willing to sit still long enough for a chapter book series, but she could read this one in a tent, while on safari - if she happens to have a black-light bulb in her flashlight. Visit the author's website here.

Know what else was really cool about the book-signing? Finally getting to meet the amazing chicken-raising, vegetable growing, home-schooling, belly-dancing, and blog-writing, but not at all redneck, Redneck Mother in person (that's her, in the striped shirt on the front row, and that's Hurricane Head up there helping Hombre with a prize drawing). One more thing: I'm not 100% sure, but I think I may even have spotted Stefani, from Blue Yonder, there too!