Thursday, March 30, 2023

we are goddesses

image via

All things that are born, that live, age and die. It's the natural order of things, the way of life. No one, nothing stays young forever and since aging is inevitable it is best that we accept it gracefully. Youth is not where true beauty lies anyway and trying to hold on to our youthful looks out of vanity is sad really. There's nothing wrong with using products to keep our skin healthy but it will lose it's tone and elasticity, it will develop age spots and scaly spots, old scars will reappear. It will wrinkle and become crepey, our lives will be writ large on our faces and hands and we should embrace that. I know, those of us that are well past our youthful looks, we don't feel different inside and we look in the mirror and wonder who is that old person looking back at us. That is us, that is who we are after living and playing and loving and crying and laughing and mourning and dancing and losing and winning and working and resting and all of it, all of it, and we should not let a culture drunk on youth or family or friends or enemies tell us we are not still beautiful. Our worth is not derived from smooth skin.

Last Saturday we learned that an attractive woman we know is in the ICU. She had decided to get a face lift for her 50th birthday and things went terribly horribly wrong. I don't know the details, just that blood was running down her throat from the bottom of her face and they had to poke a hole in her throat and insert a tube so she could breathe.

Women, we are goddesses, please do not succumb to the haters, do not go under the knife to keep a smooth face beyond its time. Age with grace and dignity. Stretched skin looks exactly like what it is.

I hold no animosity towards her in my heart for her choice but it saddens me that she made that choice and that it turned out to be so disastrous for her. Any anger I feel is solely directed at our culture that only celebrates women in our youth and ignores us, or worse, denigrates us, as we age and come into our power. If you can look at another older woman with wrinkles and creases and droopy eyelids and mouths that start to turn down and lips that thin and hair that has grayed and see that she has lived and see her beauty and power, then look in your mirror and give yourself the same compassion. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Big Mama, free at last

Yesterday would have been a good day to work out in the yard...overcast and in the 70s, no wind...but I just didn't feel like it, afib acting up and making me feel lightheaded. Perhaps I overdid it Sunday over at the shop yard in the sun and developing humidity and no hat with the chainsaw cutting down and cutting up the purple orchid tree which is showing no sign of coming back.

Which is fine I guess since it has never bloomed, never had a winter where it didn't freeze to the ground since I planted it. Why this winter finally did it in I don't know because it was the biggest and best well established as it has ever been. After I took care of the purple orchid tree and the big yellow bells dead branches I cut down two small hackberry trees and then used my pruners to cut back the two hummingbird bushes over there and then cut out as much of the virginia creeper that is taking over my big dewberry patch to the point that I'm not getting any berries, or rather, can't see them because as I cut that stuff away I exposed a dozen or so big fat perfectly ripe berries that went straight into my mouth.

After I came in and cooled off and rested, I filled the 5 gallon bucket with walking onion crap for the fourth time only this time I was working in the little backyard, the small fenced part of the yard outside the back door where the turtle pond is. I'd been out there for an hour or so when I realized Big Mama was not on her sunning board, also the pond pump was stopped up. I cleared the basket on the pump and then scooped out the crud floating on the top and no Big Mama who ordinarily would appear at any activity in her pond. So I knocked on the rim. That's the dinner bell. No turtle. Knocked again and again. No turtle. When did I see her last? The day last week that I fed her, maybe the day after that but I haven't been out in the little backyard, working instead elsewhere. I searched the little backyard. No turtle.

When we first bought the big 500 gallon stock tank and moved Big Mama out here from the Houston house I went along and lined the bottom of the chain link fence with bricks and concrete shoulder border pieces and made sure she couldn't get out under the fence which did not touch solid ground in many places. All was well until Harvey and the house flooding and after several hard rains over the subsequent years left water standing in the yard, it occurred to me that my brick border around the bottom of the fence was preventing the water from running off. So I pulled a few of them away in a couple of spots last summer.

I had also set up her sunning board on the edge of the pond with a ramp down when I set up the big pond so she could get in and out of the pond in the spring when she gets her walkabout urge for egg laying or when she's hungry after fasting all winter and she sees me in the yard, she'll climb out and make a beeline for me, being the source of food in her world. Well, that ramp rotted, had been laying on the ground all winter and I finally tossed it on the burn pile a couple of weeks ago and just hadn't replaced it yet. So this is what I think, she took a nose dive off the edge of her pond, which she has done before though I've found her in the yard and put her back in her pond, and unable to get back in she started probing the fence line and found one of the spots that she could squeeze under and off she went in search of water, food, or a place to dig to lay her one or two eggs.

At any rate, Big Mama is gone. I hope she finds water because red ear sliders have to be in water to eat. I hope she finds food, knows what is food in the wild as she has been hand fed her entire life. We've had that turtle for 33 years, since she was the size of a 50¢ coin, and truly I expected the kids to inherit her. I feel terrible knowing that I opened those few spots that allowed her to escape. She has made many attempts to escape over the years and we found her in the ditch several times when we lived in the city and once she had even made it halfway down the street before one of the neighbor kids saw her and brought her back. Well, she finally succeeded. Free at last.

I hope she survives.

the last picture I took of Big Mama, Dec. 20, 2022

If you want to read her story, click here.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

spring and an ordinary week

the long view of the big backyard

Forgive me friends for I have been lax, it's been a week since my last confession (and I haven't been so great about reading either). So what the hell have I been doing? Nothing to write about apparently. Monday I texted Abby that the couch was holding me prisoner and I wouldn't be at yoga. It was the last cold day/night of the last bit of winter but I did show up on Wednesday, grocery shopping and drumming on Tuesday, SHARE on Thursday and we were very busy filling 38 requests for food and yoga that night. I filled the 5 gallon bucket again with walking onion seed/flower heads, planted green bean seeds in little pots to get them started since I couldn't decide where to put them in the ground, checked my potato pot and something is sprouting all over (I recycled some dirt from other dead pots) but no potatoes yet and I'm wondering if they rotted since I planted them two days before the week of cold wet weather, fixed dinner my two nights. Exciting stuff, right?

Friday Pam and I went to two nurseries and I came back with two small pots of moss rose and two pentas. After lunch I went over and cut loose, dug up, and potted the aforementioned wisteria branch that had rooted itself and sent up new growth as well as three other green ends of branches and scraped the ends, dipped them in rooting enzyme powder and stuck them in pots to see if they will root and grow. Wisteria is pretty much just a weed and today they aren't the least bit wilted.

I started writing this Saturday, as often happens, and then the day happened. First was this month's EarthLab talk, this one on beneficial insects in the yard. Not all bugs are bad so don't just kill them, in fact, he said, only a very small percentage of bugs are detrimental (and he included wasps in the good bug category, just leave them be unless they're in a high traffic area). Good bugs not only do things like pollinate and break down organic material they also prey on bad bugs. Then I filled the bucket with walking onion seeds for a third time, decided the fire ant poison didn't work worth shit so I was going to go back to my dish soap/orange oil formula which does kill the shit out of them and discovered I didn't have any orange oil, was coming in for lunch when my daughter drove up with a grandgirl Autumn. She surprised everyone Friday, getting a ride into Houston with some friends coming in for the weekend. So she and I hung out the rest of the day and evening til I went to bed and her friends came by and got her sometime after that.

Today I think I'll wield the chainsaw cutting down the last dead branch of the yellow bells over at the shop that was too think for the loppers and the purple orchid tree branches that froze to the ground and maybe even the lower branches of the red tip photinias in front of the house. Or maybe I'll use the trimmer to tidy up around the flower beds.

I'll be back around. In the meantime, here's an assortment of pictures from the last week or so. 

blue eyed grass

the corn is up

the neighbor's magnolia tree in full bloom about two months early

walking iris

Sunday, March 19, 2023

reviving a quilt, fucking blue jays and grackles, and winter is done

Sunday morning still cold, in the 40s, wet and overcast but thankfully the wind has finally died down. It's not supposed to warm up until Tuesday.

Jade was in town visiting her parents and us. Some of you may remember that during Jade's Granny Camp visit ten years ago she wanted to make a quilt. She designed it, picked out the colors and fabrics, cut and pinned the pieces together, arranged the squares the way she wanted them while I did all the sewing. It took us all week to finish except for the quilting. The next week I stitched knots on a 6” grid in lieu of quilting. Here's the quilt top and a link to the post showing it being made.

Years later she went off to college but did not take her quilt and one of my daughter's orphans moved into her room with his dog and at some point the knots didn't hold and the back and the batting got torn and it was tossed in a basket for future repair. So that's what we're doing. Friday we washed it because, well, it really stank, smelled so bad she had to roll down the window in her car between her parent's house and ours. Yesterday we ripped out all the stitching on the bias seam tape edging and freed the quilt top from the torn back and batting. Next visit she'll return with new fabric for the back and new batting and we'll put it together again. In the meantime I'm going to see if I can find someone fairly local to do the actual quilting for us instead of knots.


I had to bring in the bird feeder twice today, once because a blue jay was tossing seed out left and right looking for the few peanuts in the mix (note to self...get some cracked corn and peanuts for the blue jays). I chased it off twice and then finally brought the bird feeder in. The second time there was a flock of grackles mobbing it. Sorry, not feeding grackles even though there has been two or three hanging around for a couple of weeks which I tolerated barely. Now it's empty and the blue jay keeps coming back to double check. I've had a bird feeder for years...YEARS...and never had them come to it until this fall and winter.

Speaking of winter, it's officially over. This is the pecan tree by the barn.

Now that I've cleaned out the cleaver I've turned my attention to the walking onion flower/seed heads. A very rough guess, this 5 gallon bucket full that I have plucked off represents maybe a 6th of the yard.

And I finally got over to check out the wisteria in full bloom on the fence over at the shop yard.

I even poked around underneath and found some new growth coming up off a branch that rooted itself into the ground. One of my neighbors asked for a cutting a couple of years ago. First I tried to sprout some seeds but they didn't, then I thought I would cut a notch on a branch and get a rooting ball and fill it with peat moss and see if I could get it to root but I never acted on the thought. So I was happy to see this new little rooted start so I can dig it up and cut it loose and give it to them in return for the bottle of tequila they bring me when they go visit family in Mexico.

No clever or tidy end, just done.


Friday, March 17, 2023

food and flowers (of the wild kind)

Tuesday night I fixed my favorite salad for dinner. We had had chicken salad with avocado for lunch and it was an easy dinner to put together after cardio drumming which is still a lot of fun. Anyway, the ingredients are always the same but quantities vary...mixed baby greens, celery, granny smith apple, dried cranberries, mandarin orange segments, pecans, orecchiette pasta. Tonight I'm fixing the Italian sausage with shallots and apples.

Here's two tips for keeping food fresh longer, one I tried and it works...if your avocados are getting/have gotten ripe but you aren't ready to eat them/it yet, immerse it in a glass of water and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep the avocado from going bad. It really does work. I had one in water in the refrigerator for almost two weeks (because I kept forgetting it was in there) and, yes, it was perfect when I finally ate it.

The other I haven't tried but my neighbor says it works...wrap your celery in aluminum foil to keep it fresh longer. I don't use much celery, just cooking with it now and then or in a salad and so it always goes bad before I use it all up. I've wrapped mine in foil. I'll let you know how well it works.

We're having winter this week. Of course we are, I took the plumerias and bird of paradise out of the garage. It's in the 40s and rainy (and yay for that) and a little windy and only supposed to get in the 50s with drops in the 30s the next two nights but as long as it doesn't freeze it'll be OK.

In the meantime, the indian paintbrush has painted the pastures and empty acres reddish orange.

A field on the way to the grocery store.

The fallow 12 acres behind me

is also spotted with little yellow flowers.

The evening primrose is coming into full bloom and the stretch between Wharton and El Campo is a mosaic of pale pink to dark pink. Unfortunately, I can't get a picture of that as I'm hauling ass down the highway.

Some are so pale as to be white like this patch over at the shop.

The fleabane is also in full bloom.

The bluebonnets are at or past peak,

my little clump of blue eyed grass I dug up from the side of the road,

and the baby blue eyes are looking good.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

best laid plans and all that plus a few highlights of the republican clown show

I did not do a single thing I had planned to do on Sunday. Well, I did get my four little potato pieces planted but that's all. Instead I emptied the overflowing truck bed of all the downed limbs, branches, and sticks that had accumulated and fetched the tall ladder from the shop and cleared the gutter screens and cleaned out the gutter across the entire front of the house and continued moving the sprinkler around. I'll do what I had planned tomorrow, I told myself.

Sunday night a cold front blew in and Monday was overcast, cold, and still windy and we all know what that means...Ellen was sitting on the couch with a book.

I don't think I'm going to get any poppies or rocket larkspur this year. It's been so dry and I've been getting fewer and fewer the last couple of years and I'm not seeing any little sprouts of either. Time to reseed only it has to be done in November and I never remember. And also no shows are the woodland violets; plenty of plants, no blooms.

Marc left early yesterday morning for his next x-ray and on the way home he stopped at Whataburger for breakfast tacos. They gave him his change which included a dollar in nickels.

Just saw a red shouldered hawk fly by being chased by a much smaller bird. Couldn't tell from this distance but I'd bet it's a mockingbird.

Some of what's blooming...

a close-up of the english dogwood, the thornless odorless variety, what I have been calling mock dogwood

and an actual dogwood. This little tree was here when we bought the place and never bloomed until a big limb fell off the pecan tree that shaded it and opened the canopy a little. This is the most flowers it has ever given us and they are always tiny, the biggest one maybe an inch and a quarter across.


I've been otherwise occupied for weeks and have not been following the clown show or writing about the ridiculous revenge grievance investigations by the far right cabal of insurrectionists that haven't exposed any wrongdoing by Biden's administration, instead highlighting that republicans are just butt hurt about losing the last election. Here's one little example of how things are going in the 'weaponization' hearings...

Last Thursday when republican Jim Jordan claimed these hearings are about the first amendment, (that Twitter suppressed conservative viewpoints at the request of Biden's administration [Biden was neither a member of congress nor was he president during the time period they are investigating]), democrat Dan Goldman calmly challenged him about republican book banning and that Trump had his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, jailed to prevent him from publishing his book critical of Trump. Jorden lost it repeatedly shouting at Goldman to yield his time which Goldman refused to do. So far the only thing they've proven is that Trump did what they accuse Biden of doing.

Also from the weaponization of government dep't, DeSantis removed a duly elected prosecutor, a democrat, because he signed a pledge not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.

Biden has released his budget proposal asking for republicans to show him theirs so they can negotiate but of course, they don't have one. They don't have one because they can't agree on anything amongst themselves, neither the budget nor the cuts they're demanding in return for raising the debt ceiling, something they did for Trump 3 times, hey, no prob, dude, and more importantly, don't have the foggiest idea of how to govern. So as usual, all we've heard from them are their recycled lies, complaints, and current culture war boogeyman. According to Ted Cruz, Biden's budget proposal is “completely WOKE!”. Gasp! It contains the words equity, climate, and environmental justice. He even counted how many times those words appear.

Lauren Boebert, who wants to cut funding to schools that teach comprehensive sex ed and submitted a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, announced that her 17 year old son got his 15 year old girlfriend pregnant and she's bragging about being a 36 year old grandmother. She also said she and her husband are raising their four boys “to be men before liberals teach them to be women”. I guess being a man means knocking up your teenage girlfriend. Gotta love those republican family values.

Last Sunday Republican representative James Comer blamed the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on being 'woke', “they were one of the most woke banks” he said on Fox, instead of, you know, Trump who slashed banking regulations put in place after the meltdown in 2008. I was curious though how he thinks being aware of social and judicial injustice causes a bank to fail. Turns out I was enlightened by journalist Andy Kessler who writes for the Wall Street Journal...“SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have ‘1 Black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ and ‘2 Veterans.’ I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.” Seriously Andy? That's exactly what you're saying.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

cardio drumming and yard work, lots of yard work

I've started a new activity, cardio drumming once a week. This class is led by a young woman working on her doctorate in occupational therapy and this is her doctoral capstone. Tuesday night was week 3 of 8. It's so much fun! About 45 minutes of using drumsticks to beat on an exercise ball on top of a bucket in different patterns; top, sides or top, sides, bucket (squats) or alternating front and back or or or. Last class we added leg (stepping out to the side), foot (marching), and arm movements (stretching up or out to the side), getting more complex (not for the seriously uncoordinated, there were a couple of times I flubbed getting my feet and beat together) all to music from the late 60s and 70s. I worked up a sweat. (Picture taken before class started, I wasn't the only one).

I finally got my tomatoes in and scattered my zinnia seeds on Wednesday and then pulled all the plumerias out of the garage (I gave two of my big ones away last fall) and into the staging area in front of the barn for a good watering and transition from no light to mostly shade before putting them around the yard. Still have to move the monster cereus.

I think I've gotten almost all the cleaver out from around the bluebonnets in the front and I think I'm sufficiently recovered from last weekend to tackle the back with the gas trimmer again so that's what I did yesterday and today. I also folded up and put away all the sheets, plastic bags, and tarps I use in the winter to cover things. Speaking of which, the bird of paradise I planted in the ground has sent up two new leaves but I think the bougainvillea froze.

The big backyard is looking very ragged right now. The anemones are done and gone to seed, the walking onions have put up their seed head 'blooms' which I usually collect and trash before they hit the ground but I'm not doing that this year as my chosen battle is with the cleaver instead.

The fleabane is blooming and I'm starting to get patches of evening primrose.

Yesterday and today were yard work days and that's my plan for tomorrow. The plan is to get whatever other food plants in. I don't have a lot of room but maybe yellow squash and bell pepper, potatoes and green beans. I've spent the last two days whacking/pulling cleaver and moving the sprinkler around. It's so dry and we really need some rain.

I hope to be back to my regular routine soon, catching up on blogs, but right now time is of the essence.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

two days and two hours of hard labor

Two full days in a row working in the yard and groan, my back is here to testify. I had/have several objectives...start mowing down/pulling up the thick carpet of cleaver that has taken over the entire back part of the yard beyond the last flowerbed and the field. Also creeping along the east side. First I tried a rake as it pulls up easily but it just became a sticky bundle of sticky weed. Then I got out the gas trimmer. One full gas tank worth is about all I can do at one time and did the west side of the barn that is on the west side of the yard. and a section in the back on Saturday. Sunday I did the east side of the yard behind the flowerbed on that side. I still have that much and more to do across the back.

My other objective was to finally finish getting my garden plot ready so I finished weeding the area, spread out a bag of composted peat and a bag of stuff called landscapers mix that helps improve clumpy soil and then spread granular fertilizer over all that and then turned it all in.

Now I'm finally ready to plant my four little tomato plants and whatever other vegetable I decide to put in. The Feed Store, Tractor Supply, and the Hungerford Coop are getting their spring vegetable plants in.

Then I potted up all the cuttings that have been rooting all winter on the corner of my desk; three yellow angel trumpets one of which put out a bloom bud, two pots of morning glory bush, one pot of pink angel trumpet, and one pot of firespike

and some of the other plants that live on the etageres on the little patio by the back door. I still need to haul the plumerias and cereus out of the garage. And to that end I went to Tractor Supply for a new wheel and replaced the one that split apart on the two wheeler hand cart.

I also weeded another section of the flowerbed on the west side and started setting up the sprinkler. It is so dry here. And if all the evening primrose that have completely covered the big backyard bloom, it will be a carpet of pink.

Throw in another two hours in the rising humidity yesterday digging up more sow thistle and pulling up more cleaver around the front, hauling two garden cart loads to the now ash pile (Marc burned Sunday) and I think I sweated more in those two hours than I did all last weekend. 


The indian paintbrush have come into bloom. The field behind us and other empty swaths of land are being blanketed in orangy red.

The mock dogwood is starting to bloom way too early,

and the false freesia is doing its best to colonize the entire yard.

Sunday's sunset.