Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thoughtful.



You  might wanna start by reading THIS amazing article.





Yea.

Wow.

WOW.

And now here's what I wanna say:




I hope this post conveys the thoughtfulness that went into it.

I am, in real life, a very thoughtful person, but, for some reason, that does not always translate into my writing.

I try.  I do.  But I seem to write differently than I speak.

I have a hard time writing about personal things even though I don't have trouble talking about them at all.

Hrmpf.

Well, whatever the issue is, I do hope that this sniffy, teary blog post captures my touchy-feely feelings.




I am so tired of blogging and am ready to stop.

Stop.  Not just stop and rest stop.



I know, I know.

I can't tell you how many times I've loved, loved, loved a blog and then the girl goes and takes a damn sabbatical and I never hear from her again.

Now I'm her.



It's been coming on for a while.

I bet you could tell anyway, couldn't you?




When I first started blogging I had soooo much to talk about with my house and my yard, but then ...

well, THEN.

Then Jackdaddy just got sick and tired of working on the house, and I then kinda got sick and tired of gardening so much, and then it just got harder and harder to find things to talk about, and then it just didn't seem much fun anymore.




I kept wanting to quit, but then I'd get freaked out by quitting and I would muddle through.

But it kept not being fun and so I just don't want to do it anymore.



I've also reached a point in my life whereby I feel .... quieter.

Inside and out.

I feel a marvelous, fabulous, important shift of going inward.

I wish I could explain it better, but it's hard to explain.


I can say that it entails being quieter in mind and mouth.


More private.

Slower.

Softer.

More gentle and tender.

More contemplative.

More private.

(I already said that.)




Blogging takes time.

It really does although I know it doesn't seem like it.

I was gonna go into a long, drawn-out thing about what all you gotta do to blog regularly, but bleh.

Just know that it's way time-consuming and if you're only doing it half-assed, well, that's poopy.




So, I've been so torn because this blog has become more than a blog to me.  

It's become a friendship.

I do really think we're friends, aren't we?

I mean, we ARE.

So much goes on for me in the comments when we talktalk.

I feel like I know y'all and y'all know me.

So I will miss you.

I really, really, really will and that is what has kept me hanging on longer than I wanted to - us being friends.



But, I guess me not blogging doesn't mean we're not friends, right?

I'll still be reading you.

But, I am going to be on the computer less.

I want to be on it less.

I want less blogging, and less Facebook (I'm not on it much, but I am on it), and less Instagram, and less Twitter, and less email and more LIFE.



Oh, I know that I'm waxing poetic and I'm not saying anything that anyone else hasn't already said (awkward sentence), but I'm there.

I dunno.  It's not just about computer time, it's about that quietning thing again.

Less stuff coming into my brain is what I need right now.

I need to think for long hours.

De-clutter the house and de-clutter my brain.

Breathe.

Have one less thing to do.  That's feeling big for me right now - having one less thing to do.

I know I don't have to blog, but I've started to feel guilty about not blogging and peeeuuuuu I sure don't need any more guilt in my life.  Right?

DOWN WITH GUILT!



I feel a little teary here, but also happy because I'm being true to myself and that is a good, good thing, y'all.

Happy Sad.

And so, yea, um, bye.

I guess. 

I mean, that's weird, right?

Just, bye.

Maybe, Happy Trails!?

Crap, I dunno.   

I don't want to make a big deal of it, but please, please do know that I am incredibly grateful that we met and became friends and that you commented and said such nice things and that we became friends and oh, it was such a fun time for me.

Such a fun, wonderful thing to have been The Wabi-Sabi House.

I mean, we are still The Wabi-Sabi House, but you know what I'm saying.  

You always do, you sweet thing.



Dear lord, I'm shutting up now.

I'll see you soon, OK?

Call me!  (Hee Hee)  

(Don't really call me. I hate to talk on the phone, as many of you know.)


Love,

Michele

PS And, just for fun, HERE is my very first blog post.






Friday, July 19, 2013

Off to the BEACH!

We are officially off and running to beach!

Ta da and woo hoo!

Now, I normally don't post too many pictures of myself; I'm a little shy in that way.

I do want you to be able to imagine me at the beach, though, surfing and frolicking so, here goes ....



 





HAHAHAHAHAH.

Gotcha!

I wish I could photoshop my head on that body cuz that would have been really fun.


See you neeeeeext Fridee!

I may, may, may post some pictures from the road, so do check back, but, you know me.

Lazy ass.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dad Gum Alley

Every time I think about this side yard of mine, I think Turk's Cap Alley.

That, in turn, leads me to think, Daigon Alley from Harry Potter.

That, in turn, leads me to think Dad Gum Alley.

And so on.

My brain.  It walks! It talks! It crawls on its belly like a reptile!

(You would only know what I'm talking about if you have been to an old-fashioned carnival circa pre-1970s, I think.)

Anyway, what the hell was I saying?

Oh! Side yard.

I have two of them, like most people, and they both thwart the livings shit out of me.

East side, west side, hell.  Hell, I tell you.

I have so many gorgeous side yards pinned on Pinterest.

You can see my Side Yard Board HERE.

It's only got 42 pins on it, but that doesn't count the 230 pins I have in GARDEN which also has tons of side yard ideas pinned on it.

But, alas, my side yards will probably never look like any of those because I can't work up enough umpf to work that hard.

Plus, my yard on the east side is blocked by the duplex from hell and 10,000 trash trees and my yard on the west side is blocked by the big fence and 10,000 trash trees so they both get weird ass light that is not conducive to growing anything much.

East side gets hammered hard for about 4 hours a day, then shade.

West side gets only filtered harsh late afternoon sun.

Blech.

But then, but then!, I planted a Turk's Cap on that west side one time and POW.

That was the ticket.

Well, now, I just looooooooooove Turk's Cap.  A lot.   Super a lot.  

And guess what they like?  Sun or shade.  Dry or wet, but mostly dry.

You know what else I love?  Single species clusters of plants.

I do. I really like that when I see a giant patch of something.

So I lugged those 12,000 lbs cement rings (that used to be around my poor oak trees) back up to the front and made myself a wabi-sabi border.

Then I lugged 14 wheelbarrows full of mulch then dirt into those beds.

Then I went to Barton Springs Nursery (the best best best place for 4" plants) and put in a shitload of Turk's Caps.

Now, they look all sparse right now and it looks kind of sad and dreary, but it won't for long.

Next spring and summer those babies will do their thing and I'll have a cute little Turk's Cap Alley to call my own.


Now, see, I know it looks a little wonky, but it won't for long.

That's the lovely nature of nature.  It grows and grows and grows. 

You can't tell so much for this photo, but those concrete rounds are tall.  Probably around 6 or 7 inches so the beds are pretty deep.

Since I don't have that much dirt just laying around in my yard, I do a kind of Hugelkultur thing.






I go around the yard and pick up sticks and tree shrapnel and fill up most of the bed first with it.





Then I put in a bunch of mulch.

(Why, yes, that is the pile of mulch that was dumped in my yard several months ago.  Why do you ask?)

Then I just need a few inches of soil to top it off.

I don't know if this would work for all plants, but these little 4 inchers of Turk's Cap will go just about anywhere cuz they're not fussy.

While I was at it, I went ahead and made another little border for The Squirrel King who sorely needed something!






Before.



After.

Those are some shade salvias.

I think.  I got the damn things home and completely forgot what I had bought.

Here's a bloom.  Maybe someone can tell me?





And is that the damn luck of the Irish, or WHUT? Because that little bloom looks soooo much like a Turk's Cap bloom and I am going for the same look, you know.





Right?

Wait. Crap. They're not the same are they?  Do I have my pictures mixed up?

I am hopeless.

So, yea, well, I've still got stuff to do.

More Turk's to plant on the opposite bed.




I planted these last fall without knowing I was going to do a border or the other side, so they're close to the house.

I'll plant another 5 or so closer to the concrete and they will all fill in nicely.  (Or else.)






I need to finish up the butterflies that I painted, oh, 2 years ago.

There are still pencil outlines of about 3 more, I think.

I'd really like to paint that ugly stucco skirting too, but that may be just overkill silly.

I know what I am doing for sure.






Making a new "door" to The Nether.

That's the little panel that covers the entrance to under the house.

Horrors.  

(I call it The Nether cuz that is what they call the hell spot in Minecraft.)

I'm gonna make cute door and put a silhouette of something on it.

Skull and crossbones, perhaps?

A big rat?

I need to cut this down too...







Naughty Nandina.

I've got a big Turk's in the back that I need to move and it will go well here.

I've not moved this thing because the sparrows love this spot and I feel bad taking away their play space, but, well.

(Don't my killer lamps looks swanky through the window?  Say yes.)






I wanna get a couple more of these to put on the fence.

Those are supposed to hold planters in them, but I just put bowls in and use them for bird water.  The birds loooooove these things!  I put a rock or two in the bottom so they have a good place to stand.  The squirrels love them too, also, too.

Twat else?

Oh!  My birdbath succulent planter is finito!





Nice, huh?

Once it gets filled in, it will be.



Woah.  

I tomed you!

And, for the record, I am not proofreading this post either.  My cut-off for getting off this glowing box is 10 am and I'm 3 minutes late already.  So, cringe as you will, Missy.

MORE RAIN here today!!!

I, we, are all giddy.

Rain in JULY!!!

Later, tater.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekend/Slacker

OY!

I am sooooo slackery.

I couldn't find the camera anywhere.  

That was the problem.

And it rained.

I, when it rains a lot, turn into an 80-year-old Irish woman.

I feel absolutely compelled to sit on the couch with a big book and drink tea.

No matter that it is 90 degrees and raining - I feel the call!

So, there ya go.  That's my excuse.

Turns out the camera was under yet another giant pile of clothes waiting to be folded.

(Surely 90-year-old Irish women have very little laundry to fold, right?)

(I just noticed that I've aged a decade in just 5 lines!)




So, anyway, despite my tendency for reading and teaing, I did actually bust some yard ass both days before the rains came.

Jackdaddy and a variety of very good friends (Yea, Joe! Yea, Stephano!) made major progress on the fence.  (No pictures due to "loss" of camera.)

On a sad side note here, Jackdaddy's dear, dear cousin whom he grew up with and loved very much succumbed to cancer this weekend.  It had been a long journey for him, but he did go gently into that good night, and he is on to a new adventure.  We wish our Jimmy much peace in his passing and we will miss him greatly.

Sigh.  We have endured much loss around here these last few months with my step-father, Luna, my precious cousin, Shannan, and now Jimmy.

Onward we go, though, as always.  Feeling that strong pull of extra love for each other that comes as the result of loss.




And, so ....




This bubbly water has special meaning.

That is a tease because the full story is for another post.

(Don't get your hopes up that we went to Lourdes or something.  Just a regular Holt family project.  And I do know that the water at Lourdes is not carbonated, I'm just reaching here.)





Finally.

Finally, I shout!

I figured out a little spruce for this spot that has long plagued me.

I'd like to do a whole post about it, so here's just a little nudge for ye.

I did notice that two of those plants were blooming this morning, so there may be hope for this spot!





And this spot which I know does not look very fancy or nice yet, but I do believe it will.

We gardeners have to have a vision cuz nothing look like crap more than a brand new bed with teeny new plants and that I AM NEW feel all over the place.

This area, too, is for a full post someday as this side yard has thwarted me ceaselessly for years, dammit.

I have conquered it!

I think.

Many a gardener has claimed such things, only to be bitterly defeated in the end.

Fingers crossed, y'all.





FinnigantheCurious discovered a box of mult-colored candles and went about using them.

These are the super-drippy kind that you used to see in Italian restaurants.  

You know, the wine jug with candle wax all dripping down the sides.  

I bought these eons ago and put them in the candle drawer (yes, I have one) to wait for him to discover them. 

This, in the unschooling world, is called strewing.

(Do follow that link.  I love that blog post.)

Anway, he finally found them and now we have these candles sculptures all over the house.

weeeee!





Cookies.

We made some cookies because.

Well, because we were looking for another cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but found these and made them instead.

They are so long gone.





And, lastly, just a sweet picture.

I'm sure the bigger boy would be miffed to know that I posted a picture of him in his skivvies, but who can resist such sweetness?

Finnigan was comforting him after Jack found out about Jimmy.

My boy is sooooo sweet.  He really is.


I am off on bikes with Finn and his friend.

We are going to get donuts.

I know, I know, but, what the hell?

Life is short and needs to be sweeter every now and then.


I'll talk more garden tomorrow.

Promise!






Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Food

This is what I ate for dinner last night.

Oven roasted green beans and squash with pesto on a bed of red lettuce.

Oh, hell yes it was sooooo good.

I can't tell you how many times I have bought a big bag of green beans at the Farmers' Market, only to find it 3 weeks later in the bottom of my fridge all slimy and shit.

Ugh.  So frustrating.

I want to talk more next week about dealing with the fridge.

Maybe.

I felt tired just writing that sentence so maybe not.

Anyway,

I've been rereading this:



I read it eons ago, but I spied this 10th anniversary edition at the library and couldn't resist.

I do love him so. (And, to be honest, I still do love a bit of Baskin-Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge every now and then.)

Anyway, reading books that compliment my way of choosing to eat is how I stay focused.

I just love, love, love to read about homesteading and gardening and urban farming and raw food and vegan food and simple living.  Even if I'm not doing all the things I read about, the books keep me motivated and excited and focused on how I want to be.

Intention.  I am intending to be more intentional in my life.  

And it's working so well these days!

Yea ME!

Enough about me.  

Oh wait, apparently not.

 I backed up that dish of veggie love with mounds of cherries.




I still love that orange colander soooooo much.

There is nothing that doesn't look fabulous in it.




Check out the size of this garlic head!!!

Holy cow, man.  That thing was HUGE.

I ate it all.

Chopped it up in some homemade pesto.





Promise me you will go back and read THIS POST on how to make pesto like an Italian Grandmother.

I got the recipe from Heidi over at 101cookbooks and it changed my life.

Well, changed my pesto-making life.

The only downside ...



The giant mass of mess that my tiny counters are always covered with.

Sigh.

Well worth it, though, duckies, well worth it.

Here's the recipe for the beans and squash.  

(I'll put a basic pesto recipe here too, but really do take a second to read that Heidi post because it is one of my favorite posts of hers ever.)

Roated Green Beans with Squash in Pesto Sauce

4 large handfuls of green beans
1 large squash or zucchini sliced into thickish chunks
1 big handful of fresh basil
1 big handful of nuts (I used walnuts)
1 huge garlic or 3 smaller ones.  (Depends on how much garlic you like. I like a LOT.)
A block of Parmesan cheese (Also depends on how much cheese you like in your pesto, if any.  You really don't even need cheese, honestly.)
Olive oil 

 Preheat oven to 450 (hot!)

Make your pesto first.  (Go read that article, dammit.)
Take a wad of basil, some nuts, some garlic and some cheese and start chopping.  You really do need a good, big knife for this.
A bit at a time, just add a wad of basil.  Then some more nuts. Then some more garlic. Then some cheese.
Just chop until it's all minced up however you like it.  
I like mine kinda chunky, but some like it really fine.
Up to you, Mr. Magoo!
When it's chopped to your liking, put it in a bowl and drizzle in the olive oil.  Use however much you like. I like mine a bit oily, but dry is fabulous too!  Also, for this recipe, dry is a bit better cuz the squash and beans will add some liquidness.  (New word.)

Now...

Wash your beans and your squash.  
Or not.
Cut off the ends of the beans and slice the squash up  kinda thick.  You don't want your squash too thin or it gets floppy.  
Put them in a big bowl and drizzle with olive oil and then salt and pepper them.  (You really do need some kind of spice on beans.  
If you don't use salt, try something else that you like, but give them some oopf.)
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or not) and pour all the beans and squash on it.
Put them in the oven for about, oh, 7 minutes then take them out, give them a good stir and/or a flip and put them back in for another 10.
You want them crispy and brown, but not burned.  Although, burned would probably be OK too.

Put the beans and squash in a bowl, add the pesto and gently mix them up.

I put a big pile of lettuce on a plate, sMOTHERed it in Mother's Dressing, then piled the beans on top of that.

Dude.

I ate waaaay too much.

As ususal.



There you go!

Ta da!

It's Freedom Friday here today so Finn is killing monsters and I am off to work in the yard before it is 500 degrees.

Hopefully, we'll have most of a fence on Monday!!!

PS I am running so late, again, that I did not proof this recipe.  Use your brains. If I said something crazy like add 4 cups of salt, don't believe me, OK?


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Fence

I gotta get up earlier.

That's all there is to it.

Getting up at 8 is just not cutting it.

Feed dog, feed cats, feed fish, water garden (water water water water), do stretches (old ladies need to do this), make tea and damn if it's not already 9.

I haven't even thought about breakfast or walking the dog.

whine whine.

Quality problems, sweetpea, quality problems.

SO.

The fence is finally happening!

You know, I so strongly believe in doing for yourself what you can and not farming out work unless you have to.  Making things with your own man/girl power is good for the soul and such a balm in this crazy, fast-paced, high-tech world we live in.

But ... I wish Jackdaddy could have hired someone to build this fence.

Hard. Hard. Hard.  So much hard work.

Can he do it?  Oh, hell yes.  He's the best.

But crap if it doesn't just consume his every waking hour.  Hours that are also consumed with work that brings in money as well as being a daddy and trying to have a life.

Sometimes it's good to just pay for things, if you can.

We tried.  We did.  I won't go into the long and the long of it, but one guy wanted 3,000 to do it.

Three THOUSAND dollars.

Fuck that guy.

Another guy, we hired.  He missed the first weekend due to him "misunderstanding" the start date.

He missed the second weekend due to one day of rain at the beginning of the week. 

????

He called on Wednesday of the third week and left a message saying that he was planning to start that weekend and to call him back when I got a chance so we could do the money thing and sign the contract.  I called him back the next morning and he said that, because I didn't return his call that night, he told his workers to go ahead with another job.

Fuck that guy too.

And so, as always, it's Jackdaddy.

He hired one of his grad students to do some of the awful prep work last weekend and then he will hire some labor guys to finish it next weekend, but still.

Hard work.

Tricky fence.

Why more fence anyway?  Wellll....

City living, y'all, that's why.

The latest group of  4 kids that moved into the duplex next door ended up as 6 kids with 6 dogs.

Six dogs in one backyard.

Two of them were fence-jumpers.  

One of them was a chikkin-killer.

Sweet dogs.  I love dogs, but I love my chikkins too. And my cats.  And my kid.  Cannot have big, stranger dogs jumping into my yard.

Also, as you are about to see, the only entrance to this dump apartment is the door that is about 15 feet from my bedroom.

Multiple kids, multiple boyfriend/girlfriend combinations, gazillions dogs, late hours, one door.

Fence.

Here are a gazillion boring pictures that you must pretend to be interested in.

There really are an inordinate amount of pictures in this post and they are in totally random order because it is now almost 10 am and I am hosed.




Looking east into neighbor's backyard.






Fascinating pile of brush.





Evil door mentioned above.

(Note lovely orange temporary "fence." This has now been replaced with lovely mismatched tarps so that the gazillion workers who have been coming over to clean up the dump apartment can't walk into yard anymore.  (Of course they did.)





Looking toward front yard.

Our bedroom is right where that yucca is.
 




Old fence all dug up.

Dug up and cut up.  There was an ancient chainlink fence here that had to be cut out.

Not fun.



Um, lumber.





Looking towards back of yard.

My bees are gonna go in that back, back corner!

Someday.





Every available surface looks like this.





The old privacy fence.  (Be sure to say it with the English pronunciation.)

The old Jackdaddy.  (American pronunciation fine on this one.)





More of the old fence.





More.





More.





More.




Some trash trees are now down.

And now, let's move on to what this fence will look like!




So, here's the front yard fence.

(I must have cleaned it up for a photo or something because it is way, way junkier than this usually.)

Woah.

That's all fuzzy.

Hmmmm.




Here is the basic design.

This is all fuzzy too.

AK, no time to go back and fix this nonsense.  Sorry.

Let's just move to what the finished project will look like.






Ta Da!!

Swoony McSwoon Swoon, right?

This side is all gussied up now with the surfboard and the tire planters (so gussy, you know, tires), but that fence still looks soooo beautiful.





Random photo of why we wanted a fence in the first place.

(My tomatoes look nothing like that this year, dammit.)







The rolling gate.

So fantabulous.

OK, wait, I cannot leave without showing you how much work there is in doing this kind of fence.











Hard work, y'all.

Poor Jackdaddy.

And WOW! Jackdaddy. 

What a builder.

What a guy, right?

OK, last thing, I swear.

I just have to show you what the other side looked like before we put the new fence in.







 
And one more of the new now ...




Woooo weeeee!

We're fancy.

Y'all bow down to the goodness and righteousness of Jackdaddy, OK?

He's the MAN.

Lucky me.