Friday, February 27, 2009

The Plan

First, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind and supportive comments regarding my last post.  I haven't posted all week because I've been busy, and not because I've been stewing.  I've had a very enjoyable week--much to my surprise and delight. (pats self on back).
In the southern states, gardening prep has already begun.  We have had unseasonably warm temperatures---our low temp is what our high temp should be.
This causes gardeners to start digging in the dirt.  I am no exception.

I am finished, for now, with my raised beds.  They are planted as follows from top to bottom.

Carrots and beets in the top bed.  In two corners there are strawberries. 
In the center are potatoes and english peas.  There are also strawberries in the corners.  

The third bed is waiting, but I was able to finish building it---finally.  My challenge with this bed, is that it falls mostly in the shade.  Our summer sun is hard on plants, but the shady area is equally as hard on most summer vegetables.
The trellis' at the top will have 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories. 
The green, long leafed things in the top two beds are garlic.  They overwinter and won't be ready for some time.

The three pots that are in the gardening area are all planted with a "wish" plant--rhubarb.  I have been assured they can be grown as an annual.  I put them in pots so I can move them into the shade when our temperatures climb, daily, into the 90's.  For now, they need the sunlight.

The two blue pots on the concrete are just tender perennials that I wanted to be sure made it through the winter.  They will be put back in the ground when all fear of frost is passed.

That, in a nutshell, is the extent of my spring veggie garden.  Tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and cucumbers will take the place of the spring vegetables in early summer.  

I have many, many other beds to tend to now.  Perennials need badly to be cut back, as this warm weather has them sending out new leaves on old, out of control, branches. The chicken coop and yard needs tending as well.

If you read this, and are among my favorite blogs, don't think I've abandoned you. I have just not been on the computer at all this week.  I will catch up this weekend to see that you've been doing.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mary Frala 1938-2008

I don't have much to say about today, but to notice how much I've healed in the last year.  I could spend many, many pages discussing my feelings over the last year, but I won't.  I was blessed to be able to realize that all my negative feelings weren't useful and certainly weren't going to be healed by going round and round in my head with them.  

I know that she did the best she could.  We are all individuals.  What seems right at the moment can have a lasting impact on the future.  We all have our demons, what we choose to do with them dictates our lives.  Some expose their demons, and excise them.  Others bury their demons, only to have them rise from the grave.  Still others are consumed by them. My mother fell in the middle.  Her demons rose up at times in our lives and licked at us as children.  I chose not to pass her demons on to my own children.  I also chose to excise my own demons in the last year regarding my mom.  Cliche' ends here.

Today, I will pray for my brother and sister.  I know they will have a day different than mine---for better or worse.  I pray they will be gentle with themselves.  I pray they will realize, like me, that living in the past and trying to heal wounds with a dead person, will avail them nothing.  I pray that they will surround themselves with the knowledge that she did love us, she just didn't do it in a way that was certain to us. 
I pray that my brother and sister will revel in the fact that they are blessed each day, with the ability to love their father and receive his love.  In a very twisted sort of way, he was my mother's gift to them in the end.  They might feel as though she robbed them of a lifetime with him, and it will be valid.  I pray that they are able to move past those feelings and soak up all the love he has to give now.  He is a good man.  He's gentle and kind and opinionated and fair. He is their father.  

More than anything, I have learned that I cannot fully live in the present if I'm constantly digging around in the past.  Despite the fact that I am a mother, and have many super powers, I cannot live in two places at one time.  

I was going to link some of my earlier posts about my mom, to this post.  I choose not to, as they are in the past as well.  A year ago today, my life changed forever.  The good, the bad, and the ugly went with this day and the months that followed.  I will live in the present today.  

Much love today to my brother, my sister and their father.   

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.

Product Information:
Over 40 easy, no mess tattoos to design and decorate Barbie doll's fashions! Customize the fashions and apply the fun temporary tattoos on you too! Barbie doll includes additional fashions, tattoo stamper and tattoos.

I saw this on TV and thought sure it was a joke--Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie.  Really.
This rates right up there with Barbie and her dog, Tanner.  Well, maybe it's worse.  At least kids were being taught to be responsible and clean up after their dogs.  With TST Barbie, I guess little girls are learning proper placement of a tattoo so you can still get a job or be able to wear a low backed dress and not look silly (hint, hint, Angelina).

Tattoos can be a beautiful piece of art (shout out to my sister and her humpback whale), or they can be completely ridiculous.  I had a neighbor, who for his 30th birthday, got Yosemite Sam plastered on his bicep.  

This exact picture, minus the background.  He wasn't drunk at the time, just stupid.  He regretted getting it within a couple weeks and was stuck. 

I'm really not against tattoos, I just think they ought to have a waiting period like purchasing a gun.  How many people can pull off a fairy tattoo when they are 70 years old, or 40 years old for that matter.
Girl tattoo:flower Cartoon fairy
This new Barbie needs a disclaimer so the legal department over at Mattel can breathe easier tonight---'Piercings are temporary, Tattoos are forever".  That way when a girl gets a stupid tattoo when she's sixteen, she can't say she got the idea from the TST Barbie she got for her 6th birthday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gardening, a Bit of This and That

Leaf buds on my pomegranate tree.  It hasn't gotten the memo that our last freeze date is 3 weeks away.  
My mountain laurel is an evergreen, but the flowers have not taken a look at the calendar.
My redbud is finding our unseasonably warm weather to be too difficult to ignore. 
We've had wildly fluctuating temperatures the last month or so.  Sometimes a 40* difference between morning and afternoon temps.  This morning it was 35* when I woke up and it is supposed to top out at 73*.  
The little bit of rain that we finally got, has convinced the plants and animals to come out of their winter dormancy.  The birds are very busy singing to one another in the mornings and my feeder has never been busier.

I too, have come out of dormancy, and I know full well when the last freeze date is. Living in the South, we are never fully without a growing season.  I am just dipping my toes in the waters of 2nd season growing.
I've been working on getting my formerly uneven garden, into raised boxes.  I have one left to go and that means a trip to Home Depot for corner pieces.  The two you see got planted with beets (Detroit Red) and carrots (Little Finger) and potatoes (Red Pontiac).  The pots are planted with rhubarb (Victoria).  I know better than to try to grow rhubarb in our heat, but I couldn't resist once I found out they can be grown as a spring annual.  When the heat hits, I'm supposed to pull them up and store them in a cool/dry place.  I have very fond memories of the strawberry-rhubarb 'slop' that my grandmother used to make.  

I planted a fig (Celeste) and two pear (Orient and Keiffer) trees this week as well.  
It's time to start lopping back the perennials for spring growth to occur.  I also need to turn a bed that I had planted with a cover crop (clover and winter pea).  That particular bed is dead as a doornail as far as nutrients.  The cover crop fixes nitrogen.  I will add some more compost and maybe get it healthy again.  All my beds are in bad shape because they got little/no rain water last year.  It was all well water and it's so hard, that it is off the charts.  

Our long range weather forecast doesn't bode well for the South and Southwest.  Spring is supposed to be much drier than normal (surprise!) and the summer is going to be hotter and drier than normal (surprise again!).  I wish they'd just move the 'normal' so we wouldn't all get our hopes up every time a cloud rolls by.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Any Birders Out There?

I believe this little cutie is from the Warbler family, but I'm only basing that on his/her beak shape and body size.  I have searched online and in my books, but can't even find a bird that looks similar.
The barring on the main body is what is throwing me off, that and the one bit of yellow under each wing.
It's also a bold little bird and stays up late.  It will be at the feeder until it's nearly dark and all the other birds have gone to bed. It will perch 3 feet away when I am putting feed out in the morning.
It is not a bird that spends its entire year here (in Central Texas), either.  It showed up about a month ago, possibly on its way back north?
Any ideas?  

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where Did the Week Go?

Just in case some thought that my last post brought me down, and I didn't blog all week---not true.  That post actually was nice to do.  I'm sorry if it sounded blue.  In fact, it gave me a chance to think about the fun I had with my dad.  Tomorrow is the 18th anniversary of his death.  I spent a few years being angry about his drinking and depression and then I got over it.  Now I just focus on the fact that he loved me like crazy and we shared a love of the outdoors.  Being bi-polar and not being on meds would certainly drive a person to drink. 

This week was busy, although I can't really say with what.  I took Tom to the eye doctor and the dentist.  We also met with his high school counselor to talk about colleges and his classes next year.  I had breakfast with my friend, LF and lunch with my other friend, DD.  I told Lee last night, I can't imagine going through life without women friends.  I'm so blessed to have such good ones!

I've been reading like mad to finish a non-fiction book about the origins of the bible.  I'm taking a study course with 12 other people that lasts three years.  We meet three times a year, for a weekend at a time.  This weekend is our very first meeting.  The book is technical and in depth. We aren't being tested or anything, but it will be a very interesting weekend based on the topic. I want to know all I can in order to participate fully.  Honestly, I just haven't read anything so in depth in years.  It's not a book for skimming.

Collards with raindrops!
I've done some garden prep this week.  Our average last frost date falls (depending on the source) between February 28th and March 15th.  My raised beds are sitting in my garage.  I went and bought the supplies to do two more, but haven't made it outside.  I fiddled with the first bed so long to get it level, that I'm dreading getting out there to finish the other two.  They don't need to be perfect, but I want it not to be obvious that they are tilted downward.

Baby brussels sprouts.  Can't wait to eat them!
I went to the CSA farm this week and got to wear my muck boots for the first time.  If you'll look at the picture below, you'll see that we finally got some rain--glorious, glorious rain!  The total ended up being an inch and a half; it rained after I took this picture.  We've had unseasonably warm weather and many plants are being fooled into thinking it's spring.  My redbud is just about pink out, and I fear that we will have a cold snap that will kill the buds.  James has asked that we plant a pear tree.  Turns out you need two pear trees for pollination.  I have wanted a fig tree for years, so I bought one of those too.  What that means is, digging three holes out of limestone and protecting the baby trees from the deer.  That means driving t-posts into limestone.  If you haven't figured it out, I'll have my work cut out for me.  Oh well, fresh fruit is worth it.

Final total, 1.5 inches.  

Lee and I went out for Valentine's Day, last night.  I will be gone all weekend, so we had to do it last night.  We went to my favorite restaurant, Roy's.  Hawaiian fusion is the best way to describe the food.  I had the most amazing scallop sushi as an appetizer, and then an entree with Butterfish and baby bok choy.  Of course, it was plated beautifully and had some heavenly sauce to go with it.  We finished up by sharing a chocolate soufflĂ© with homemade vanilla ice cream.  It was so nice to be someplace quiet and share the time alone with Lee.  We don't do it often enough.  

Happy Valentine's day to everyone.  I hope you get hugs, or kisses, or chocolates, or cards or dinner or a nice tail wag from the ones you love.  Back on Monday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where I'm From

Please stop by and read Vonda's post on The Little Egg Farm.  It will explain where this post came from.  She challenged all who read to do a similar post.  Honestly, I'm a little worried about mine.  I'm hoping it will remind me of a mostly drama free childhood, despite some of the sadness I feel about it.

I am from his, mine and ours.  I am from suburbia. I am from middle class.  I am from Ellis Island, and Missouri, and Russia and North Dakota.  I am from a big family and a small family. I am from disfunction and function.  I am from World War II meets small town girl.

I am from soil and gardens.  I am from tomatoes as tall as the eves.  I am from boiled shrimp for birthdays and pork ribs for 4th of July.  I am from nature and hunting.  I am from bird dogs and shotguns.  I am from fishing and mushroom hunting. I am from respecting nature. I am from alcohol.  I am from depression. I am from someone damaged by war.  I am from love.
I am from sewing.  I am from determination.  I am from beautiful.  I am from cupcakes for birthdays at school.  I am from thoughtfulness and thoughtlessness.  I am from love of reading books.  I am from art and creativity. I am from summer canning.  I am from long-suffering.  I am from self preservation.  

I am from open-mindedness. I am from acceptance of race, and sexuality, and religion.  

I am from much older sisters and brother.  I am from not knowing them well because they were so much older.  I am from admiring them from afar.  I am from riding bikes.  I am from cleaning on weekends. I am from watching and learning.  I am from kick-the-can.  I am from ring-and-run.  I am from weekends at the lake with best friends.  I am from long car trips to North Dakota and Minnesota and Canada.  I am from long car trips with smokers.  I am from sunup to sundown, outside. I am from grocery store brand ice cream, and milk and and cereal.  I am barefoot--all summer.  I am from home perms. I am from rhubarb and strawberries. I am from silver dollars from grandpa.

I am from good people. I am from no church.  I am from good neighbors in good neighborhoods. I am from ice cream trucks. I am from summers of bike riding and creek exploring. I am from attic fans and windows open.  I am from cold winters and hot summers.  I am from a public pool.  I am from 80 stitches and popsicles.  I am from basements during tornados.

I am from good times and bad.  I am from love and hate.  I am from happiness and extreme sadness.  I am from survival.  I am from those that wished for something different and waited to long to do anything about it.  I am from failure and success. I am from the next best idea. 

Where are you from?

Silent Sunday

Wishing for Rain

Grace in Small Things, #9
1. Brother is trying to quit smoking and means it this time.
2. A good morning hug.
3. Lee taking Pearl to a movie.
4. Tom taking his homework to church.
5. Working appliances.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jammin' James

Halloween hair.  He went as a hippy.  He didn't get nearly enough tootsie rolls to satisfy me, but what's a mother to do? This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, other than having James as the subject.  Onward.

He's been taking guitar lessons for a year now.  He really likes his teacher and his teacher really likes him--"He's the only kid who bothers to practice!".  
Lonnie is child of the 60's.  He served two tours in Vietnam.  He's toured with several big name country/western bands.  He met good woman and settled down. Now he has standing gigs with a couple local bands and teaches guitar.  His music love is rock and roll.  Country just paid the bills.  Rock, 60 and 70s rock is what he's teaching James.  His latest piece of music got recorded by Lee and I wanted to share it.  He and Lonnie have moved into Surfer tunes.  Whatever makes them happy. :)
If you'd like to see James perform "Pipeline", just click on 'surfer tunes' above.  

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Itch

It's too early to scratch the gardening itch.  Planting young things in the ground right now will doom them to certain death from a freak ice storm that usually presents itself in February.  I will admit to planting potatoes, but they are bundled up nice and warm next to a rock wall that gets sun all day.  They also are blanketed with a layer of hay for extra protection.
It isn't, however, too early to work the soil. I grabbed 4 bags of compost for amending my veggie area.  My main garden area is on a slight slope.  I've jury rigged one edge of it to keep the soil from running off when it rains (like it ever does that around here!).  It's ugly at best.  Since it's basically right off the back porch and folks can see it, I've decided to spruce it up a bit by making decent looking raised beds.
I'm concerned about the boards warping if I just nail them together.  I did some online shopping and found there are fancy corners you can buy for raised beds.  All you do it push them into the ground and slide a 2 x 4, 2 x 6, whatever, into the slots. 
The problem is, they can only be found online and they are expensive when you include shipping.  I knew there had to be another way.

I wandered around a bit in Home Depot.  The garden center didn't have anything like what I might be after.  I knew folks that build houses, need things to hold corners together--Bingo!  I got help right away (our HD is very quiet on weekdays). The gentleman found these corners for me, and they even have a bit of a bottom that can be stuck into the ground.
I tossed around the idea of what sort of wood to buy and was really interested in the new stuff that is part wood, part plastic.  One 2 x 6 x 8, was only 2.98 (Aaacckk, got to thinking about my bill later and it seemed like too much.  I stood there and was yacking away with the clerk and just paid the bill.  The boards were $20 a piece!!  I've already cut them too.  The only saving grace is that they last forever).  I bought two.  They won't warp or decompose or need to be painted.  

Now, I'm off to the garden with a measuring tape to see what the best configuration will be.  I've got to take into account the sprinkler heads and what is already planted.  That's collards, brussels sprouts, potatoes and garlic, if anyone is interested. :)

If you are too far north to be digging, think about planting seeds indoors.  Who cares what a silly old groundhog thinks.  I pray that those of you in the deep freeze will be released soon.  It's been a very tough winter on those in mid/ and far NE states this winter.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Owner's Manual

Children do not come with an owners manual.  I know there are thousands of books out there that could give me another person's advice on how to deal with my kids when they are disappointed, angry, hurt, grouchy, sullen---you know, the hard emotions.
There is a quote that is flying though cyberspace at warp speed from a recent Hallmark movie, "Loving Leah".  Is is: A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.  Simple, but profoundly true.

Lately, my three kids have had varying forms of sadness.  

Tom is not satisfied with soccer for one reason or another.  He's juggling school, work, soccer and homework.  The hardest part is that he really won't talk about what is bothering him.  Typical young man, I get it.  I just miss the days of being able to fix it with a band-aid or a cookie or a hug.  To admit conflict within himself would be to admit a chink in his teenage armor.  I wore that same armor, thick and heavy when I was 17.  

Pearl is still struggling with having one of her best friends be a bully.  I can't say much more, as I don't know whether her friend reads my blog or not.  I just know that all I can do is offer advice and stand back.  I can't go to school with her and whisper witty comebacks into her ear when her friend is being ugly to her or others around her.  I can't walk her away when the situation goes from poking fun at someone into hurting someone's heart.  I can't give her  grown-up responses to use when the situation gets childish.  I only hope that she'll continue to come to me and trust that I will listen.  

James is trying to come to grips with a problem we've had in our house before--Club soccer and Club soccer politics.  He and his best buddy were invited to join a soccer team that is no longer recreational.  What that means is, higher caliber workouts, higher caliber games and some travel to games.  James' brother played on this team for years.  James and his buddy went out last night to practice with this team, only to find the Club commissioner there to tell them that some other boys from last year had signed up at the last minute (beyond the cutoff date).  They are honoring their sign-ups instead of honoring the invitation they gave James and Nate.  Honestly, James is happy with rec soccer.  It's just that he'd like to move up, and it looked like that would be happening.  He was very sad last night.  

None of these are life altering problems.  I just wish I had the answers that could make them feel better.  Wish I had the answers for all their unasked questions.  I know that they can only learn about life through experiences.  I just wish....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


"Oh please, pretty please, don't drink out of my water bowl.  You'll get cat spit in it.  I'll do anything, please! You can take my spot in bed with mom and dad, just please don't drink out of my bowl!"

Grace In Small Things, #8
1. Warming up quickly in the fields, once the sun was on me.
2. Muffins JuJu makes for workshares. YUM!
3. Hot, running water.
4. Kisses hello and goodbye from Lee.
5. Baby wipes.  Gets the dirt off so I can eat an orange on the way home from the farm.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Smelly, Big Brother

Well, he's not really smelly, but what sort of little sister would I be if I didn't call him that?
This is him and his daughter, LeAnn, on her wedding day in November of '07.  She, by the way, just announced that she has little "keiki" in the oven.  She and her hubby have just moved back to the mainland after several years on Oahu.  Bummer.  
I digress.

My big brother is 9 years older than me.  He and my sister, NJ, were mostly all grown up and moved away by the time I really paid any attention to them.  I don't have a lot of memories of us all living in the house together.  I do remember my mom telling him, that if he wanted to ride a motorcycle that he'd have to move out. He moved out.  Surprise. 

Like all folks that ride motorcycles, it's not if they get in an accident, it's when.  I'm sure he was in a few scrapes over the years, but he had a pretty big one where he tore up his knee.  Surgery and rehab followed.  I gotta tell you, that folks that ride bikes, will always ride bikes.  He rode again and "when" caught up with him.  A woman turned left in front of him on his green light in early 2004.  By the grace of God (and a helmet!), he survived, but one of his legs did not.  

He amazed us all by being good natured about the entire thing. He was just glad to be alive.  He had Pearl make him his first prosthetic leg---a chicken leg, because we had our first batch of chicks at the same time he was having a real prosthetic made.
His good nature remained when his employer found a loophole in which to fire him after he lost his leg.  His job required him to work on his feet for 8-10 hours a day.  Some people can be so thoughtful, huh?  
His small (and I mean small!) insurance settlement allowed him to settle in and get used to his new life while he kept and eye out for a new job.  He finally found work doing the same things he was doing at the previous job.  Back on his feet (foot) for hours at a time.  

It turns out that the leg from his first big accident was his right leg.  He lost his left leg in the second accident.  His right leg has taken a beating.  First, surgery and rehab, and it has been his only support over the last 5 years, despite having a prosthetic leg.  It finally gave up.  Yesterday, he had his one remaining knee, replaced.  It was a long time coming and he has a major rehab program ahead of him.  He will be off work for 3 months.  He made it through surgery, but I didn't expect anything else.

I am confident that this will just be a bump in the road for him.  I wish I had his ability to always find the silver lining in things.  He's had many ups and downs in his life, but always manages to smile.  He has a great faith in God and those people that love him.  He knows that it, whatever "it" might be, will work out.
Grace In Small Things, #7
(these are pretty big things, actually)
1. Big bro got his knee replaced.
2. He smiles in the face of adversity more than most.
3. He will be able to take 3 months off work, instead of two.
4. He has a great wife.
5. His baby is having a baby!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lee's Birthday Present AKA My Favorite Superbowl Commercial

Well, I know what Lee is getting for his birthday this summer.  He's getting an all expense paid trip to the movies to see Shia LaBeouf go postal on alien robots, again!  
The first Transformers was one of my all time favorite "stuff got blowed up real good" movies.  The special effects just rocked!  
I know Lee will be thrilled with my present because I will be crazy happy to see this movie.  What better present can a person get than hanging with someone who is crazy happy AND having that person pay for popcorn and a soda.  Maybe I'll get him some Jr. Mints to sweeten the deal.