Saturday, July 31, 2010


An art show, where two of the Muses had pieces on display (not to mention the one which Fiber Woman was modeling). Good food. Great music. Wonderful friends. Lots of laughter. Running into people you know at every stop.

Normally I would say "It just doesn't get any better than this", but there was one thing missing this time. My hubby! We're counting down the weeks until he can be a permanent participant in the good life, instead of having to read about it on this blog.


Have you seen the HBO movie Temple Grandin yet? If not, drop what you are doing, run check your HBO schedule, or your Netflix que, or head to the video store, but somehow, get your hands on a copy of this movie.

Claire Danes, supported by Julia Ormond, Catherine O'hara and David Strathairn, does a remarkable job playing title character Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who was born before doctors had any clue what autism was about. At the time, most believed it to be some form of pediatric schizophrenia, brought on by the mother's failure to bond with her infant, and parents were encouraged to lock the child away in an institution. Fortunately for the world, Temple's mother refused to listen to them.

One of the current catch phrases that you hear bandied about is "being present", and this movie brought the meaning of that home to me in a big way. I once read something, written by the father of a special needs child, which compared the experience to embarking on a long anticipated vacation - one you have been saving for and planning for years - only for some reason, your plane gets diverted and dumps you in a completely different country from the one you were expecting. Now you have two choices. You can spend the entire vacation feeling sorry for yourself, finding fault, focusing on what this country lacks in comparison to the other and being absolutely miserable. Or, you can let go of all that, and just be present. If you can do that, you might find that this country is an amazing place in its own right. Different, but not less.

Temple, who didn't even learn to talk until she was four years old, ended up earning a PhD. Because her mother, aunt, and a very special teacher were "present", they came to realize that Temple's brain was just wired differently than most. She had a photographic memory, and saw the world in pictures - pictures which she could connect and rearrange in her head. She also had a special affinity for animals. Though she found it almost impossible to read the subtle signals that humans sent out, she had no problem at all when it came to recognizing the cries of cattle in distress. She could also see patterns in their movements that changed in reaction to different stimuli, all of which lead her to design systems that revolutionized the way cattle are handled in many stockyards and slaughterhouses today. She was different. Not less.

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

Friday, July 30, 2010


Another quality I admire in my kids, and have no idea how they got, is tenacity. All four of us absolutely adore digging into a new project. Unfortunately though, John and I are much more likely to say "When the going gets tough, move on to the next project!" (think half-painted cinder block wall) Not so with our kids.

Son Austin used to make me kinda crazy when he was a tween. Whenever he had a problem to solve - whether at school, in a video game, fixing his computer, or whatever - he was like a dog with a bone. He just couldn't let go, or think about anything else, until he had worked it out. As it turns out, that's a most excellent quality for a computer programmer to have!

With Lex, you can always tell when she has sunk her teeth into something by noting the speed of her knitting needles. Knitting must be a form of meditation for her - a facilitator for working through problems in her head. The needles have been going ninety-to-nothing ever since she got the news about being laid off, and boy, has it paid off! In one short week she has managed to work her way through several books on starting your own business, come up with an entire business plan, designed and set up a website, re-designed and printed up new business cards, attended a networking function, applied for grants, signed up to work with a mentor, made arrangements to attend a conference where she will take several classes related to green design, created and distributed a survey in order to better understand her target clientele, and researched home-staging as a possible "bread-and-butter" sideline, while she builds up her client base. And that's just the part I've heard about! Who knows what else she's been up to?

It's inspiring, to tell you the truth. Almost makes me want to grab a paint brush and head out to the wall. Almost.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Wow. I can't believe it was after 6:30, and it still wasn't light enough for me to write in my journal out on the porch this morning. That's some serious cloud cover we've been having lately. I'm not complaining though! In fact, I am extremely grateful for this wonderfully mild summer we are having: frequent highs down in the 80's (only flirted with triple digits once or twice); weekly showers that have kept water in the creeks, and my rain tank filled to the top; shady afternoons for working in my garden; little if any extra watering needed for trees and shrubs; lower than usual electric bills; no burn bans... In other words, anything but your typical Texas summer, which could explain why I still haven't made it to the Blue Hole yet! What's not to love?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Hubby is finally back to working only 40 hours per week - and off on weekends! Woohoo!


Guess it's time to get serious about deciding which perennials to add to my garden. Fall is the best time to plant them here in Texas, but the window of opportunity is somewhat brief. I'm determined not to waste any of it while I dilly-dally around, trying to make up my mind!

See that shady corner next to the big red pot? I'm thinking the lime green fronds and delicate texture of some wood ferns would play nicely with the glossy red of the pot, and the bold shape of those funky black elephant ears with lime green ribs. Variegated ginger does well under oaks too, and has great lime-patterned foliage, but is a tender perennial that would probably have to be replaced after a hard winter.

Up there at the top of the stairs, in the bottle tree bed, I've been waiting and waiting for that blue-grey pony foot (dichondra) to spread and spill over, but it's slower'n molasses! I'm thinking I need to break down and just buy a whole flat of it, if I ever want it to form a waterfall effect, tumbling over the rocks that run alongside the staircase.

My dear friend Paula brought me a nice surprise the last time she visited - my very own baby olive tree! Sure hope I can keep it alive. I tucked it in the southwest corner of the garden, and I'm hoping the big Texas Mountain Laurel next to it will protect it from north winds, until it gets well-established. Perhaps I'll use some pony foot around it too, as a ground cover, and let it spill over the edge of the terrace.

That middle bed has been sitting fallow since spring, with a nice mulching of compost. It should be raring to go by September, but what to plant? Last but not least, the biggest bed of all has finally been cleared of stone, and is ready to be topped up with some compost and a rose soil blend which has a little extra acidity to counteract the alkalinity of our native soil. This bed gets the best sun of anyplace on that side of the garden, and has a nice wide pathway below it which would provide for no-stoop harvesting, so I'm thinking it might be just right for some edible perennials. Asparagus? Blackberries? Any suggestions?

Alas, so many choices. So little space.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


OK, perhaps I jumped the gun when harvesting our first Sugar Baby watermelon. The seed packet said to pick it when the underside turns pale yellow (check) and the tendril opposite the stem begins to dry out (check). However, it also said that these babies reach 7-8 inches in diameter (try 4), and can weigh up to 10 lbs. (1 1/4 would be stretching it). My son and I were the only ones brave enough to taste it, and though we only got about one bite each, I'm happy to report that Austin declared "It tastes just like watermelon!"

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Reckon I can make dinner out of one green been and a one-pound watermelon?