Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What the hell? (and Solar Chandeliers)

I have no idea what happened around here that kept me from blogging for a whole week and some change. 

All I know is that MerryMerry sent me the new Dan Brown thriller (The Lost Symbol), and I found a John Irving book (Until I Find You) at a garage sale, and FinnigantheCurious is reading with gusto these days (might I allow myself to believe that another bookworm is blossoming into this family? please, please, please.) so, I suppose a sort of reading spell was cast upon my home. 

That and Jackdaddy was gone to Rome (poor, poor thing) and took the camera. 

Oh, and most of the windows were installed but needed to be caulked and painted. 

Oh, and it rained some more. 

Whatever the cause(s), I did not blog nor did I do much in the way of home and gardening (other than keep everyone alive and hold down the fort). 

Fortunately, my dear friend, neighbor, and fellow wabi-sabier, Kat, did!  

She made a damned solar chandelier

Now, anyone who spends any time at all hanging around ( pun!) in their yard at night has wished for an outdoor chandelier. 

These very same folks have run through the options: candles - uh, wind, rain, melting, cost; electrical - ugly cord, rain issue, safety issue; solar - too damn hard and too damn expensive. 

Kat rose to the challenge and made herself a damn solar chandelier

May I just say that again?  

She. made. a. solar. chandelier. 

Since I've been doing nada but lolling around the house reading novels I'm going to let Kat, in her own words and pictures, tell you all about it. 

It's really, really cool, y'all.

It started with another great freebie from Craigslist. A huge, heavy, metal chandelier with ornate leaf patters all over and six lighted candles. I then broke off much of the extra leaf work. I also flattened out the curled-up leaves and painted it with chocolate brown and gold spray paint. I painted the cups all gold to reflect the light. The center space fits a solar candle jar perfectly. It changes colors! I first tried Velcro, but it did not secure well. I next tried magnets, which also didn't give a strong enough hold. Lots of glues were tried too. Ick. After much mess and frustration I had one last idea, but needed some extra tools and help. These are really the kind of lights you stick in the ground along a walkway, but I'm only using the top portion. My dad drilled a hole in the center of each plastic shell, then I super-glued a large round washer and bolt to the inside to give additional stability. The 2 inch bolts are almost, but not quite, the same width as the opening of the hollow metal tube in the cup. This is where the wired lights used to mounted to, but I sawed off the top portion down to the nut. Then I used a green rubber hose washer to the solar lights stability as the bolt was set down into the center of the metal tube. The light fixture will be stable as they sit there in the gold cups which will allow me to replace the solar lights as needed. It's hung in my big iron gazebo, also a fabulous Craigslist find. Not free, however, but a great bargain and I totally love it. The chandelier is large and hangs down a few inches about my head so, anyone taller will have to watch their noggin. It's been a trial with the various mounting projects, but it's finally done and the weather is cooperating again, so here it is. It's cool, crafty and a little funky. Thanks to everyone for making it possible.

Isn't that just so wabi-sabi of her? 

Not to mention clever and resourceful

I just adore it and am plotting and planning to have Jack make one make one of my own. 

Now that Jackdaddy is home I'm gonna take my almost-finished books over to Kat's house and sit in that gazebo and read by the light of the silvery solar.  


Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekending at the Holt House


I'm tarred y'all. 

That's southern for "I feel a tad fatigued." 

It's such "hard work" to lean over my beautiful raised beds and drop those tiny seeds in. 

Oh me, oh my, whatever shall I do to revive myself? Perhaps a long hot bath, a cup of tea and a movie with FinnigantheCurious

(That or some Tylenol, 2 glasses of wine a glass of wine and the above mentioned long hot bath.) 

Mommy sweetest or Mommy dearest...hmmmm.
I got some goodies in the dirt this weekend, I sure did. 

Here's the line-up below. 

I'm saving some beet and carrot seeds for next month too. I have never, yet, grown one damn carrot. 

My neighbor and fellow gardener, Eleanor, told me I needed to plant carrots next month so I'm gonna try that too.  

Finnigan is really, really wanting those colored carrots to grow and I feel a certain obligation (being an outdoorsy mom and all) to make that happen for him. 

If they don't make it I'm gonna sneak some at the Farmer's Market, stick them down in those holes and let him dig 'em out. 

I am, I don't care. I did it once with strawberries and he still talks about them to this day.
Plus asparagus, cilantro, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green and purple cabbages, spinach, bush beans (probably too late on those, but we'll see), snap peas and parsley.

I had to soak the bush beans and the parsley seeds for 24 hours before planting. 

They're working on 48 right now, but what the hey. 

Maybe I'll just have to water them less. Har har

Jackdaddy's lovely raised beds with the black gold of soil from Natural Gardener.

Lookie here at my cute little pond. 

FREE pond, I should say. 

The whole dang thing was almost free. 


The liner was given to me by my dear friend and cohort in all things wabi-sabi, Stacy Lynn, the lirope was found on the side of the road on trash day, the rocks are from the Austin Memorial Cemetery (with a few from a deserted Baja beach ((ahhh)) thrown in) and the "bird feeder" is a big stump from dear friends and neighbors, the Arrellanos

 I did pay for the pump, the horsetail reed and there is a tiny Buddha that you can't see in the photo that I bought while on the pond tour this summer. 

The sound of the waterfall is intoxicating. We sat outside today for, oh, 13 seconds enjoying it before the mosquitoes threatened to carry us away. 

Lovely Texas mosquitoes. 

Just one of the many reasons I choose to live here. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Glone Global

I have a thing about globes and maps. Maybe it's because I love to travel? I dunno, but I just love them. I'm a pirate at heart (a good one who does not pillage or rape. I do, however, swig and curse) and the site of a map, especially the old ones, gives me that far away feeling inside.
When Jackdaddy built our beautiful fence I took the opportunity to load up the post tops with some globe love.
It warms my mama heart to see the neighborhood children walking by, spinning them. Even the little ones can now reach two of them because I put that bench (side of the road find!) out there. They stand on it and spin away. I had planned to put little phrases about traveling lengthwise down each post, but that idea hit the proverbial road as so many of my ideas do. A girl can only do so much. Apparently, I've got too much swilling and cursing to do.

Here's my globe stash. Every year these show up in the Target Dollar Spot. I usually buy all of them (Sorry!). The weather (I use that term lightly cuz I really just mean heat) is tough on them. Every now and then one of them will crack and split, but then I just go to my globe stash and replace it. We've got globes all over this house and in the yard. I just got the coolest one ever ever ever and I can't wait to show you. Oh, well, you can see it in this post. It's laying in the middle of my new gravel path in that picture, but I've hung it in a tree since then and it looks sooooo cool. I want them all over the yard, hanging at various heights in various trees.
I want to be called "The Globe Lady." I think that sounds better than "The Crazy Lady Whose Whole Front Yard is Mulch," don't you? Lord knows what they'll call me once the chickens arrive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sleeping Potion

Oh my, but we have been lazy around here.
Deliciously, wonderfully, delightfully lazy.
It's been raining since last Friday! Can you believe it? Not only was there rain, but rain that contained a sleeping potion!
Jackdaddy, the big fancy scientist, gave a big fancy talk at UT on Friday night. It was the culmination of millions of several late nights for him so on Saturday morning we all slept until TEN AM! Then we did it again on Sunday morning! TEN AM, I tell you. Oh, on Saturday morning the rain was really pouring down and the bedroom was so dark and cozy. FinnigantheCurious was snuggled between us, the dogs, who are scared of thunder and big rain, were curled up on the floor beside us ... I felt like an ole' Mama Bear all snug her in her cave. That or a comotose teenager. Either way it was heavenly. Here at the Holt House we are connoisseurs of lazy. Well, hmmm, to be quite honest, Jackdaddy is not, but I keep trying to encourage him. He'll come around someday. I've only been trying for 10 years. (He can be slow at times, poor thing.)
Having all this rain after such a horrible, horrible drought reminds me of an incident that took place when I was living in Los Angeles. After I had been there for about a year I was over the perfect weather. I wanted, needed, craved, desired rain. As most of you know, I am a swamp girl from Beaumont and I just do not do well without regular rain. Some people get depressed with too much rain. I get depressed with too little. So, one night, I'm sitting in my apartment and I hear thunder! Oh joy joy, thunder! I run out to my balcony to listen and to my surprise and delight I saw that almost every single balcony, patio, front porch, carport as far as I can see had people standing on it, staring at the sky. You'd have thought we were being invaded by aliens. There we were, all of us alone together to watch some thunder and lightening. I can't remember if it rained or not (doubtful), but it was enough just to share the promise of it with all those strangers.
That's what it's been like around here this last week. Everyone is out in the rain just soaking it up. We've been walking in it, splashing in it, playing in it and, of course, sleeping in it.
I've got no pictures because the sleeping potion rain also made me too lazy to go out and take any.
However...I do have a little surprise to show you. Just a little sneak peek. You'll get the full coverage tomorrow.
Here's a hint for you: it is not a ping pong table as FinnigantheCurious was disappointed to discover. He saw the picture below and came running in to tell me that we got a ping-pong table and there were directions for setting it up! Judging by his level of bummed outedness we may be getting one in the near future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekending at the Holt House

My big weekend project.
Getting this bit of ugliness under control.
I haven't been able to put my mucho wanto path in until now because I didn't know where everything else was gonna go and I sure didn't want to have to undo it. The cardboard is the lazy woman's way of getting rid of the grass underneath. Instead of spending hours digging up every weed and bit of grass, you just lay down cardboard or lawn bags or newspaper and wait and wait and wait. Then, when your two big dogs and your one small son and his million small friends destroy it, you go out and lay them back down again. I've done this, oh, about 400 times, at least. I shall not do it again though. The cardboard destroyers have been defeated as the path is DONE.
Guess which one of these tools I did not use this weekend? If you look carefully at the pictures you'll know without a doubt. Yep, the weed eater. SO need to weed eat. I've gotten rid of almost every bit of grass in my yard and I still can't make myself get out there and weed eat the tiny bit that's left. I hate that noisy thing. The cord comes unplugged every 13 seconds and I'm always afraid I'm gonna weed eat my feet or a toad. Ugh, just hate to do it. I know you're wondering ... I know you are. No, Jackdaddy does not do yard work. He builds the house and the yard and I do the upkeep. I got the easy end of the deal, trust me.
Things would have gone much quicker had I not been ambushed repeatedly by these two hornswagglers. Course, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun and I'll take fun over expediency any day.
Finally, my beauuuuuutiful crushed granite path. It looks like it would be tough on the feet, doesn't it? It's not at all! It's quite soft and squishy. Oooo, I just love it. Every time I looked out in my backyard I would see that gnarly path-in-the-works with the cardboard sticking up here and there and it just irked me to no end. No mas, comprades! I am really, really this close to being semi-finished with the backyard. Well, other than the STBBBFO and the outdoor shower/hot tub area and the berm and the other bed that goes against the patio and the carport and the foot washing area. But, other than that, almost done!
Last, but not least, Friday night's monsoon was the best ever!
The only thing better than a monsoon after a drought is being caught at a pizza joint with good friends during a monsoon after a drought. Man, that storm rocked. We were forced to stay and eat and eat and eat and then, after the pizza was gone, we "had" to eat some chocolate cake. We were sitting outside watching the storm brew, but didn't think much of it. We've been tricked one too many times this summer, thank you very much. We all just sat there feeling smug and cynical until we got utterly lambasted by the thing. The next thing I knew there were screaming kids and gale force winds and electrical wires falling and walls of driving rain. Dang, man, it was crazy. Some cuteashell old-timer pulled his truck up to the live electrical wire and parked there waiting for the fire department. He said he didn't want anyone to get hurt. Isn't that just so sweet and Texany? Texanish?
Poor Jackdaddy was home sick, but he rallied and got some good footage of the flooding arroyo and streets.

I'm really glad the storm hit before I got the new granite path in. There was a bit of a gully-washing thing happening in the backyard after this downpour. I would have been one unhappy mama if my new path had ended up in my front yard. Everybody knows that
"if mama 'aint happy, 'aint nobody happy."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Aye, therin lies the rub

I feel comfortable saying that most people would consider me a clever girl.
Sometimes, though, I gotta wonder.
For example: my eyes have been burning and itching for, oh, exactly six days. When I say, "burning and itching" what I really mean is that I feel like I could claw them out of my head, run screaming to the sink to plunge them in some cold, clear water until I am sure they are exorcised of this demonic evil . Then, and only then, would I replace them in their sockets. That disturbing process would be less painful than what I am experiencing now, I assure you.
This is what I feel like.
So, I'm staggering around the house wailing and lamenting, gnashing and clawing, trying desperately to understand WHY this is happening. At some point I realized that life must go on - namely the cleaning of my home. So, I start to sweep. With two dogs and a boy child and a house remodel and a yard remodel I do a LOT of sweeping. As I'm sweeping my eyes are watering and then it dawns on me. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you.
Oh, hell, just see for yourself.
It's the &%*$$#* new mulch!
It's the *&%+$ mulch making my eyes explode!
I spent %&$%^$ hours unloading all that &%^## mulch and all that *%&$^# money and I'M ALLERGIC TO THE MULCH.
Hamlet's lamentations got nothing on mine.
So, what to do? Right now, I don't know. Well, I DO know that I am not going to be the one to REmove the just moved mulch. Sounds like a job for Jackdaddy, don't you think? Too bad FinnigantheCurious is only five. If he were older I could probably bribe him with a motorcycle or something.
Speaking of my boy...l
ately he's got it in his head that he really, really must try a Diet Pepsi. Don't ask, please. No, I do not drink them and no one in our family drinks them, but Finn has a mind of his own (I love that he does) and feels he must have what we encourage him not to have and that's all I'm sayin'. (Well, maybe I'll just add that he's an Aries like his grandpa). He is also very interested in trying to stay up all night.
Hey, maybe I could give him a big ole' caffeinated Diet Pepsi and let him stay up all night shoveling mulch.
See? I am a clever girl!