Saturday, August 7, 2010


Just when you think you're finally getting the hang of things...

I planted a mess o' beans this spring. The bush beans produced pretty well for a while, but then got infested with some little black fly that made the beans come out C-shaped, with big swollen spots

in them, so I finally had to yank them. The Italian pole beans were doing OK, but the dear deer absolutely loved them, so they stayed mostly denuded all season long. I was about to yank them as well, but they still looked so healthy down at the base, and since the baby deer were now too large to squeeze between our fence posts, and John had placed those neat new deer repellant thingies all over the garden, I decided that if I just trimmed them back a bit, they might have a fightin' chance.

Sure enough, they were back up to the top of the pole in no time, and I just picked my first perfectly beautiful bean last week. A couple of days later, I stepped out onto the balcony porch just before bedtime, to put something in the trashcan, and got startled by a sudden loud clattering of hooves. When I finally spotted the culprit, he was outside of the fence, but the guilty look on his face gave me a really bad feeling.

The next morning I went out to check for damage, and this is what I found: nekkid pole beans, gnawed on Swiss chard, and all that luscious portulaca and sweet potato vine that was finally spilling beautifully down the sides of my big red pots? Nothing but stubby twigs now.

So I guess I'm learning a lot about patience, just not so much about how to put food on the table. Ah well, at least he didn't touch my second little Sugar Baby watermelon that is now forming on the vine, and with what we learned from our last melon experiment, we might actually get more than two bites out of this one. OK, I just thought of another lesson I am learning from all of this. How to be an eternal optimist!

Friday, August 6, 2010


Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but I have a secret. Thanks to Pamela (of Red, White & Grew fame), I now have my very own personal House Fairy, and she's doing her damnedest to conquer the CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) in my home.

She comes to me courtesy of a wonderful website called Fly Lady, and the most amazing thing about her is not that she doesn't cost a cent, but that she somehow manages to make it all seem, well, fun! I'm still just a Fly Baby, which means I'm working my way through a month's worth of baby steps - each day I add one tiny, very basic, thing to my routine, and practice the things I have already learned, until they all become so ingrained that I don't even have to think about them. And when I say basic, I mean basic - she starts by telling you to get up and get dressed, "down to the lace-up shoes". Surprisingly, that does make a difference in your attitude.

The lessons come to you via daily emails, which include things like Ask Fly Lady, and your Flight Plan For the Day, including the zone for the week with a job per day for that zone, habit for the month, and special day of the week chore - like Thursday is errand day, and Friday is declutter your purse and car day. Kinda reminds me of those old embroidery samplers that had one chore for each day of the week, and a day of rest on Sunday. If only life was still that uncomplicated, right?

Fly Lady has a couple of mottos that I really like. One is "You are never behind. We don't want you to try to catch up. Just jump in wherever you are." The other is "My timer is my best friend." That is because she figures anybody can probably stand doing something for 10 or 15 minutes, and she doesn't want you to try to do it all at once - you'll just get frustrated and give up! So set your timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and work on one of your "hot zones." Then walk away.

If only this had been available to me when my kids were small, they would probably have much different attitudes about home-caring today. Another thing inluded in the daily emails is the occasional testimonial (this thing has developed a huge fan base!) and one woman wrote in about how she had always hated housework, until now. Fly Lady replied, "Let me tell you why cleaning has always put you in a foul mood.

1. Your parents used it as punishment.
2. You never cleaned to their standards. Not Perfect enough for them.
3. You were forced to do it over!
4. Then when you married, it became a battle ground. Why should you do it! Keeping score!
5. Cleaning always got in the way of your play time

I am so proud of you for changing your attitude! When you get your homework done; you can go out and play! As you have found, making cleaning fun is easy with your timer. We love to play! "

Not only did that sum up the way things were in my household growing up, it was also the reason I always hated so-called "yard work", and didn't discover the love of gardening until my mid-forties. So, since I wanted gardening to be fun for my kids, I was smart enough never to use garden chores as punishment. They were welcome to join in and learn alongside me, but it was never forced. Unfortunately, I never quite figured out how to make housework fun for them - but this website does!

Well, time to go "get dressed down to the lace-up shoes", and check to see what new baby step I will learn today. TTFN!

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

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It's a funny thing about these "To-Do Lists" of mine - they don't happen all in one sitting. I keep my sketchbook and colored pencils in my corner-of-the-dining-porch nest,and I date each new list as soon as I start it. I add to it whenever I think of something new, and post it here as soon as the page is full. The result of doing this over a period of weeks is that many of the tasks have already been completed before you ever even see them on the to-do list, and things, such as weather conditions, can change drastically mid-stream!

(click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


It's been a while since I've written, or even thought much, about "seasonality" - the lightbulb revelation that first led me to put pen to paper. However, when I was trimming all the spent blooms from my two lavender plants the other day, it kinda punched me in the gut.

I was feeling really sad, for I got so caught up in other things this summer (like reunions, and people moving then being laid off) that I never got around to doing anything with the blooms, and now it was too late. Then I found myself thinking "But just you wait! Next year I will be better prepared, and there will be lavender lemonade, lavender creme brule, and lavender buds dried and stored for baking!" The anticipation of it all had me feeling downright giddy, and that's when it came to me. This is what seasonality is all about - enjoying these tiny things for all they are worth, during the brief period when they are at their peak, then giving ourselves up to the ever-mounting thrill of anticipation for the rest of the year. This is the spice that makes living the good life so delectable.

Have you ever known a kid who gets fixated on a single food, and that's all they ever want to eat, for months on end? Then suddenly, out of the blue, they decide they don't like it anymore? I think we are all a bit like that when we can have anything we want, anytime we want it. After a while, none of it seems to taste especially good anymore.

Now picture the child who has been raised with seasonality: the child who crawled around in the strawberry patch as a toddler, popping ripe fruit into mouth with chubby hands; who knows that when Mom announces that the lavender is about to bloom, that means icy pitchers filled with yummy lemonade; who knows that when the fruit on that tree in the yard turns a certain color, that means peach cobbler for dessert, and the whir of the ice cream freezer; whose family dances around the kitchen in glee when a neighbor calls to report a sighting of morel mushrooms. Do you think this child will be a picky eater, bored with everything his mother sets in front of him? Would not this ability to savor such small things when they are available, and enjoy the thrill of anticipation and delayed gratification, spill over into other areas of their life as well?

All I can tell you for sure is that the moment captured in the photo above? The one when I had just discovered my very first morel mushroom? Well, there is only one way to describe the way it made me feel. Or. Gas. Mic!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Lexie came to spend the night with me on Sunday, so we could take in a flick at the Corral Theatre. We had some time to kill between dinner and "dark thirty", which is when the movies always start, so we picked up our knitting and Lex asked to watch Temple Grandin, which I posted about earlier this week. Unfortunately for you, this means yet another day of my obsessing about it, for I just can't seem to get it out of my head. Why is that?

Perhaps it is due to the spotlight it shines upon the fact that each person is unique, and learns in different ways, and the ones who do well in school and are labeled "smart" aren't necessarily the ones who are going to solve the problems of the world. The so-called smart are merely the ones that fit the public school mold, thus making teachers' jobs easier.

Having started school back in the days before educators knew anything about dyslexia or learning disabilities, I've seen it all firsthand, and have spent my life fighting against the assumption that kids who happen to have a knack for memorizing a bunch of trivia, then vomiting it back on a test, are in any way smarter than ones who have trouble with that, but have come up with inventive ways to compensate for it - especially if the "smart ones" never take the time to ponder over what they have been taught, or question its veracity.

Are these "smart ones" going to figure out how to cap a deep water well, or deal with climate change and peak oil? Or will they go through life with blinders on, accepting whatever propaganda they are fed? I suspect that if they were to add a new section to high school yearbooks, you would probably find them listed under "Most Likely to Become a Minion". Thanks, but I'll take a divergent thinker any ol' day - someone like that kid in Sorcerer's Apprentice, the movie we are watching in the pics above. I mean, seriously, who but a geek could save the world from evil?

Alrighty then, moving on to other subjects at last...

P.S. Yes, I am now painfully aware that someone needs to clean her camera lens!

Monday, August 2, 2010


When my sister ordered those colorful cantina flags, for us to liven things up with at the family reunion, she also ordered these cute little paper fans. She knew that if we got a large response to our invitations, we would be forced to spill out onto porch and terrace, and cousins who had migrated to New York and Boston might have some difficulty dealing with Texas in July.

The fans will probably come in handy at outdoor movie theaters too, and I sure could have used one Saturday night, when I was at that picnic table enjoying the music, with the setting sun right in my face. But, what I love most about them is their color! They are just way too pretty to be hidden away in a drawer, don't you agree?