Friday, September 18, 2009


Well, it's taken me a while to find the perfect man - for the job - but I think we're finally on our way to having that Mexican Courtyard Cantina Kitchen Garden! The problem, you see, was that I know a good bit about plants and design, and I'm pretty good about creating atmosphere, but I'm lousy at supervising crews and subcontractors, and I don't know beans about construction. So, I definitely needed some help if I was going to bring this baby to life.

The first person I contacted knows quite a bit about plants, and has a wonderful flair for design, using lots of the dramatic, sculptural plants that I love. Unfortunately, she has no interest in supervising crews or managing a construction project, so she sent me to someone else.

This person had plenty of experience supervising construction and crews, and knows a ton about native plants, but her specialty is restoring prairies and attracting wildlife. She came out to look around, and had great ideas for reseeding our fields with grasses and wildflowers, but just never seemed to get on board with the idea of planting a dramatic little kitchen garden in the middle of all that. I almost hired her anyway, taking that "Oh, I suppose it will do" attitude that I am usually preaching against. Fortunately, John brought me to my senses, saying "We are not going to spend all this money unless you are peeing in your pants from excitement." Well, maybe those weren't his exact words, but you get the idea.

That left me right back where I started, with no clue how to pull this off. I stewed and mulled for several days, then I had brain fart. Turns out I knew just the guy - one who knew absolutely nothing about plants. He didn't need to, because that's something I'm perfectly capable of handling on my own. He does, however, know plenty about construction and supervising crews, since he's the architect who designed this house for it's original owners, and then designed and supervised our subsequent remodeling project. Most importantly, I have been to his wonderful house, and there's no doubt in my mind that, if anyone would understand my desire for a little drama, or my craving for color, it would be him. In fact, I'd say we're a marriage made in heaven, with just the right balance of strengths and weaknesses, but also a matching core of basic values. There's just one tiny snag. He's retired.

So, how to tempt him out of retirement? I started off by sending him a little email, explaining what we were trying to accomplish. I also included a link to that original blog posting, where I first described my crazy concept. Then I told him about the previous landscaper, who just hadn't understood my need for flair and drama. I closed with "I know you are trying to be retired, and probably wouldn't be interested in a project like this, but could you perhaps suggest someone else who might be a good match for the job?" His reply was, "Oh, I don't mind taking on a little project every now and then. Maybe we should get together and talk a bit more."

He and his wife came to dinner weekend before last. I let him look out the dining porch windows, to see the bird's-eye view of the garden that we would get from up here. Then I took him downstairs, to see it up close and personal. Within about five minutes he was tossing out ideas that had me squealing "Yes! Yes! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" Then I excused myself, to go change my underwear.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


We really do revert to being just like infants when we age, don't we? The thing that scared me most when my children were small, was knowing that if something happened to me, they were just too young to understand absence or death. No matter how much explaining everyone did, it would never sink in, and they would always feel like I had just abandoned them. It broke my heart to even think about it. From the sound of this note from my sister, Mom has reverted back to that stage, and did not handle her three-day absence at all well (even though she had arranged for others to drop in on Mom each day):

"When I got there last night the diabetes nurse was sitting on the sofa with her arm around Mom, and Mom was just boo-hooing. Even though she knew where we were, she let herself get all in a bundle about being alone. They said she hadn't been eating, and even though she wasn't sick, they brought food to her. I tried to reason with her and assure her, but told her that starting next week I planned on not coming over on Tues & Thurs evenings so that I could get some stuff done. She cried nearly the whole time I was there, but finally I think I got thru to her that I wasn't leaving her and would always return. She did try and get me to take her home with me. She said she would sleep on the sofa. I told her that we couldn't do that since her shots and meds were at FCA. I told her we could plan ahead for special occasions and holidays and let her stay over, but that didn't seem to help much. She was ready to go right then. This is
what I expected at the beginning, not 3 or 4 weeks down the road. I guess the bloom is off the rose."


Holey Moley! I just realized my two year blogging anniversary slipped by on Monday, without my realizing it. My, my, my - time truly does fly, when you're having fun!

It is a happy coincidence then, in light of the occasion, that I have finally figured out what kind of blog I have. For two years now I have struggled to identify our niche. I just couldn't decide which pigeonhole we belonged in. Mine isn't a foodie blog, a mommy blog, a craft blog or a gardening blog. Nor is it strictly about organics, simplicity, frugality, locavorism, sustainability or any of the other catch phrases the media has latched onto in the last several decades. As I've said before, living the good life embraces all of these things, and if you narrow your focus to only one aspect, you risk narrowing your life as well.

There is, however, one abiding theme that runs throughout everything I do, everything I write about, and everything I believe. So, if I had to choose a label for my blog it would be this one, which harkens back to Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin: Common Sense. I didn't become an organic gardener because it was cool. I did it because chemicals scared the poop out of me, and it just didn't make sense to kill all the butterflies and bees, all the beneficial insects that keep the harmful ones in check, and all the good stuff in the soil, just to get rid of a few aphids! I didn't simplify because it was all the rage. I did it because the ever increasing mountain of stuff that was cluttering up our home was sucking all the life and creativity out of me. I had never heard the word locavore when I first began shopping at farmers' markets. I did it because it added so much joy to my life, and it just made more sense to get my food close to home, rather than having it shipped from across the globe. It was bound to be fresher, taste better, and be more nutritious. Besides, how could we continue to use so much fuel to ship all this stuff, when everyone knows we have reached peak oil? That just wouldn't make sense at all! Right?

That brings us to sustainability. What does that mean, anyway? Isn't that just a fancy way of saying "Use your noodle!"? Doesn't it just mean to open your eyes and realize that it doesn't make sense to use up all of your resources? 'Cause once they are gone, they are GONE! And where would that leave us, or our kids, or our grandkids, other than adrift in a sea of "stuff", without the proverbial paddle? To quote Ben Franklin, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

So, there you have it. I've finally found our niche. This is SEASONALITY: The Common Sense Guide to Living The Good Life.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Just got back from San Antonio, and of course, the first thing I did was come in here to check my email. While I was working my way through 31 messages, I heard a crash from my kitchen. It sounded like something had knocked a soda can over in the sink. Know what I found when I went to check? A relative of that fellow in the photo! I know we're supposed to love all of God's creatures, but I'm sorry, I hate those suckers! One of them completely ruined our romantic anniversary getaway a while back, when it decided to join us in the hot tub, and another sprayed neon blue gut juice all over my porch and stucco walls when I sent him to centipede heaven with a hoe. This guy was so huge, I was afraid he'd manage to sting me right through a towel, so I grabbed my kitchen shears and snipped him right in half. Didn't slow him down a bit! Several minutes later, when both halves were still scurrying around the sink, the halves became quarters. When those too managed to keep on a-twitchin', I finally scooped them all up in a cup, filled it with water, and flushed the whole lot down the commode. Now I'm having visions of the sections somehow managing to reunite, working their way back up my pipes, and lying in wait for me under the rim of the toilet seat...

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


Have you ever read a good book that painted a very vivid picture in your imagination? And later, when it got made into a movie, it really messed with your mind, because the people and the settings just didn't jibe with the pictures you had in your head? That's what happened to me not long ago when I finally met blogger Redneck Mother in person. For some reason, I was expecting her to look much more, well, you know, red-necked! Tougher, taller, darker and more sun-roughened, able to lift a bale of hay and toss it into her pickup without breaking a sweat... It really took me by surprise to find her so blonde, petite, and feminine looking!

I suppose we bloggers are kind of like radio disc jockeys, in that we have a voice, but no face. Once you get to know our voice, you begin creating an image to go with it - an image that doesn't necessarily match up to reality. That's why it feels a bit strange when I meet another blogger, or when a reader meets me for the first time. I can't help but recall the many times when I became enamored with a DJ's voice as a teenager, only to think "What the x&%#!" when I finally saw them in person. I have no idea what picture my voice is painting for you, but I think you should keep in mind that I do have grown kids, and that many of those hi-lites you see in my hair are now gray, not blonde.