Friday, January 22, 2010


Ever wonder why some people spend the last 5 or 10 years of their careers just counting the days till retirement, while others would work through their dying day if you'd let them? For example, when I asked one sister recently, what was the best thing that happened to her this week, her reply was an enthusiastic "Our financial advisor said I can retire at 62!", which was followed by "Have I told you lately, how much I HATE MY JOB?" And then, there's my hubby, whom I'm beginning to suspect may never retire.

It got me to thinkin', and here's what I came up with: Most people need to feel like their efforts are going towards building or creating something, and they need to be needed. The minute they stop feeling that way, that's when they just start biding their time - 'cause no one wants to feel like they're just keeping a chair warm. Had John stayed in his previous position with a large engineering firm, I think he too would have been counting the minutes until he could say "Hasta la vista, Baby!" But, because he left to help create a new company, and feels needed by his partners and employees, he's happy to keep on keepin' on.

I think maybe that's why I love being involved with The Bountiful Sprout. It's not that I especially like attending board meetings, taking minutes, posting agendas, inspecting farms and kitchens, or doing PR, 24/7. I'm not real crazy about any of that, to tell you the truth. What keeps me going, then? Well, I guess it's knowing that I am helping to build something important. We're creating something out of nothing - something that people need, and which just might leave the world a better place. What better reason to keep on plugging away, eh?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Weren't we just in the midst of a bitter winter freeze a few days ago? How can I already be behind schedule on my spring gardening chores?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I am not good at multi-tasking. Like any woman who has tried to juggle a job, being back in school, having a husband who is out of the country more than at home, aging parents, and two teenagers who cannot yet drive, I have done my share of it. But I didn't like it! I'm also not very good when it comes to dealing with a huge, complicated project. I get overwhelmed, and when I get overwhelmed, I become paralyzed. I can't figure out how to get it all done, or even where to start, and so I do nothing.

That's what happened to me yesterday, when I thought of all that needs to be done in order to complete the Mexican Hacienda Courtyard Kitchen Cantina Garden project. Add to that the fact that hubby wants it all done yesterday, and you can see why I felt a bit stressed-out. When this happens, there is only one thing for me to do: stop, and pull focus. Don't think about the huge amount of stuff to be done - stuff that can't possibly all get accomplished by one woman of a certain age in the few weeks remaining before spring. Instead, I need to find one little thing that I can do this week, and concentrate on that. When that is done, I will find another small thing that I can do, then another, and another. Eventually, the garden will come together.

Remember, Beck. It's the journey, not the destination.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


There was a time - when gardening was a fairly simple, relaxing thing for me to do. My beds were small, so all I did was hop in my wee little truck and head over for one load of compost at my community's free site each season, spread it all by myself, then stick in the free plants friends gave me whenever I felt like it. I had no expectations for myself, nor did my family have any for me, as I was totally new to this, and none of them were gardeners either. We were all extremely pleased and rather shocked, whenever something managed to survive.

But that was many years ago, and the bar has been raised since then. I went back to school to study horticulture, worked for a landscaper, did designs for other people, and worked at a garden center for 6 years. People expect much more from me now. Of course, I haven't had a garden to practice in for the last 5 years, so I've become a bit rusty. I didn't use it, so I began to lose it. And, 10 years can make a huge difference in how much manual labor one is willing or able to do, believe you me.

Now, you people up north get a break from gardening each winter - time to think and plan, putter and prepare. There's a definite time to put your garden to bed, and a predictable time for it to wake up again. Things are a bit more confusing around here. My existing plants - lots of salvias, lantana, ornamental grasses and other deer resistant stuff - were still going great guns in December, so I was busy trimming them all back right up until Christmas. Right after Christmas we had a few hard freezes in a row, causing everything that was left to turn into mush. This week we're back in the 70's. OK, guess winter's over now (though we can usually count on one last freeze, the minute we let our guards down and plant something tender). Better start thinkin' about spring, get those new beds downstairs ready for planting!

I was hoping to add compost, not only to the new beds, but also to all the existing beds on the upper level. So, I went out to take some measurements. Holy Guacamole! I had no idea that I had about 340 sq.ft. of new beds, plus about 360 ft. of existing ones, for a grand total of over 700 sq. feet! And that's not even counting the beds around the lower parking area! If I were only to add two inches of compost to those 700 ft., I'd need 4 cubic yards - which would take about eight round trips in my little truck. Hmmm, wonder if anyone delivers, and how much it would cost?

Last night I went on line to visit the websites of several purveyors of bulk soil that have been recommended to me. So many choices in soil blends and types of compost! Two of them had email addresses, so I decided to ask for recommendations on how to best prep these beds, which are already filled almost to the top with native soil. Gardenville recommends spreading a bit of sulfur, to help counteract the alkilinity of our soil, then spreading four to six inches of compost over everything, and working it in down to one foot deep. OK, forget about the upper beds. I need 4 or 5 cubic yards of compost, just for the new beds alone! And, how on earth do I fit it in, if they're already full? Do I have to somehow remove several inches of soil first? And how long would it take to move 5 cubic yards of compost, one shovel at a time? Whew, I'm worn out just thinking about it. Think I'll go crawl back in bed.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Exciting news! One of my favorite authors, Ferenc Mate', has just come out with a new book: The Wisdom of Tuscany. You may recall that one of his earlier books, A Reasonable Life, was sent off as part of our Year of Reading Dangerously Give-Away. In this new one he tackles many of the same issues discussed in that first one - our impersonal culture, rampant consumerism, lack of community, atrocious diets and health - but now he is approaching these issues with all of the wisdom and maturity he has gained from twenty years of living in Tuscany. Can't wait to dig in!

Mate' is very good at asking uncomfortable questions, and in one of the early chapters, I see, he asks this one: What the heck happened to Sundays? Not so very long ago, Sundays were about spending time with friends and family. We used to thrive on each other's company, now we thrive on stuff. Once, Sundays were a day of rest. Now they are probably the most exhausting day of all, as we try to cram in all of the chores that there's no time for during the week.

The times, though, they are a changin', and we may have this economic crisis to thank for it. People are finally spending a little less time in the malls, a little less time over-organizing and over-scheduling themselves to death, and a little more time just enjoying each other's company. At least, that's what I'm seeing here in Wimberley. Take yesterday, for instance, when a friend of one of the Muses invited us to come hang at her place, play with some watercolors, walk down to the river, meet some fun people, share some food and maybe make a little music. Now that's what I call a good Sunday!


Happy Birthday little Lex. You growed up good!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Thanks to daughter Alexis' scouting out the perfect place for celebrating her birthday, we have discovered one more weird yet wonderful thing to love about Austin - The Highball! I believe it is owned by the same people who brought us Alamo Drafthouse, and is located just a few doors down from their location on S. Lamar. Walking through the doors is like walking through a stargate, or taking a ride in Dr. Who's telephone booth, and winding up back in some mid-century modern Vegas nightclub, complete with sparkling gold upholstered barstools, Starlite-lounge-style light fixtures, semi-circular booths, and with members of the Rat Pack crooning in the background. That's because the owners found a vintage bowling alley from that period, still intact down in New Orleans, and had the entire contents installed here (or so I'm told). They even have vintage skee-ball machines, whose tickets can be used to purchase anything from candy cigarettes to a bowling nun statue, or even "Uncle Rico's" very snazzy two-toned, pointy-toed shoes - if you can fork up about forty thousand tickets.

There are a few modern touches as well, including themed karaoke rooms, a room with dance floor and stage, and an impressive menu that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. All in all, we had so much fun that I didn't even mind bowling a 59. Well, maybe a little. Just one tiny warning: If you go on a Saturday, get there early! We got there at 5:00, and only had to wait a half hour for a lane. Those who didn't get there until 7:30 or 8:00? More like 4 or 5 hours. Oh yeah, and you might want to brush up on how to keep score manually!