Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I hate my chikkins today.

My beautiful, lush, rapidly growing Celosia spicata.  Grown from seeds given to me by Jenny over at Rock Rose which, in turn, were given to her by Phillip over at East Side Patch.

Cleaned out!  Annihilated! Murdered! They look like asparagus stalks, FFS!  I was shocked.  I am shocked. WHY? WHY????  These things have been growing there since late March!  Why now I. am. SO. irritated.  Grrrr.  Damn chikkins.  Damn, damn, damn chikkins.  These were destined to be gorgeous towering specimens of beauty and innovation and desire.  (It's late, what can I say?)  But, really, I have been very, very invested in the growing of these.  Dammit to hell... (as my crazy Aunt Margaret used to say.)  I would say more but my mama reads this blog.


Consolation prize: my zinnias.  Pretty pretty.  Not eaten by chikkins.  Grown from seeds given to me by Pamalicious.
Drumstick anyone?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Tales of survival in the garden today...
OW!  Why, I ask you, this spot?  WHY?  Surely (don't call me Shirley) there are more comfortable spots that this!  And how did he/she get there unimpaled? (No such word, but it works.)

Teeny, tiny babies growing up out of the fire pit bottom.  I think that whole fire/new growth thing is so, well, weird.

This is a really crappy picture of me showing you this tiny tomato plant that made the most beautiful tomato.  The plant is only as tall as a pair of eyeglasses.  Never underestimate the power of small, y'all.

Um, well, guess the old "nail in the cactus trick" failed.  The nail did well though, don't you think? Har Har. 
Oh, yea, and one more thing.  I  added one of those Amazon book thingees to my blog over there on the right.  If you click on a book and then buy it Amazon gives me about half of a cent.  Ferraris!  Manolos! Unlimited budget at The Natural Gardener!
Survival of the fittest, indeed.
Happy Weekending, y'all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ta da! Da Ta!  It's all semi-finito (except for landscaping) (and some updated plumbing). Doesn't it look sooooo pretty and deluxe?

 View from the patio.  Jackdaddy did such a great job of staining.  I thought I wanted it to be more terra cotta colored, but I ended up choosing a cola color and I'm happyhappy with it.

View from the tub.  (Not sure what that weird amoeba light spot is.)  Early looks so real back there on the pirate hill...funny.

Fire pit-a-go-go. Currently filled with dead smoke bombs and used sparklers. La, La, La. 
Oh, it's sooooooo wonderful to mostly finish a big project.  I'm tiptoeing around the landscaping cuz it's tricky dicky.  I had some lovely, gracious and really fun garden friends over yesterday and they gave me some great ideas.  I'm not much of a gardener, really.  I'm a bit of a decorator, but not so good with the plants.  
I'm off to climb in that tub with a cuppa, fill 'er up with hot water and read some mags. Wellll, not really, because it's Monday and I'm actually off to do Monday kind of things, but I'm there in spirit.

Friday, May 20, 2011


So, I have this friend, name of Anna.  Palindrome name.  I love palindromes.  She used to date this guy named Graham and I was really into pretending that palindromes were actually called anagrams because, you see, anna and graham...anagram.  Um, but, of course, a palindrome is not an anagram and I was forever trying to explain why I called her name an anagram.  Very tiring, that kind of conversation. 
What on earth am I talking about? 
Oh, Anna. So Anna is just the funniest girl.  She used to have a chikken named Lucy.  But not just Lucy, but Lucy the gd chikkin.  If you tried to call her just Lucy, Anna would insist that you call her by her full name.  Some people are quite uncomfortable with that particular bit of swearing, but it's really impossible to resist Anna.  Another funny thing she would do is refer to things as cuteashell.  Part of the humor in that is that she would write these loooong emails that she called tomes and they would go like this:  soanyaway i wa s htinkging shta tyou should comea nd hang out with mea nd luckythegdchikkin cuz taht would be so funand wouldnt we have fun andhall that kind of stuffand whathave youbeendoing anyway...blah blah blah... with all these words and sentences run together with not even the tiniest bit of thought to spelling or grammar or whatnot.  It drove some crazy, but some of us loved it. (I still do love her long, rambling emails although I rarely get them anymore as she has a daughter now and you know how little time one has for long, rambling emails once you are a mama.) (I would love to tell  you what she named her little girl, but I suppose I should ask her if it's OK first.)   You'd just die over this baby name.) But in these tomes she would always say this was cuteashell or that was cuteashell so, to this day I still say and write cuteashell all the time.  Whew.  The point being that  I found all kinds of silly cuteashell things in my garden today:

Doesn't this little elephant ear look like it has a face?  Weird, evilish eyes and an OHpen mouth.  He looks like The Green Man to me.  Oooo! Maybe I can set this guy up like people do when they see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in their screen doors or in spiderwebs and such.  I can charge pagans money to come and touch my Green Man elephant ear.  They'll line up down the block - ye olde faithful, and we'll charge them  to touch him. Oh!, maybe we'll get lucky and he'll start "weeping"  (think Texas morning humidity) and then we'll be famous.  Or not.

I have no idea why this picture is sideways.  Use your imagination because I'm just too tired to do anything about it. We were doing a little sprucing up around here and Jackdaddy put a cover over the fire pit to keep the birds from pooping on it.  I was out in the yard putzing around and I saw this from a distance and could not figure out what was on it.  I got up close and realized it was this old Disney sheet from his childhood.  OMG could you die?  It's this cuteashell little fitted twin sheet all tricked out with Bambi crap.  I'm sorry, but that is just too cute.  I took it off immediately and brought it in to keep it safe and sound for future generations to guffaw at.   Bambi - (That "kid friendly" classic in which the mama gets burned alive in a forest fire.  WHY is it always the damn mama, I ask you?)

Cuteashell little hummer feeder.  I like these tiny ones.  I didn't get any hummers last year and none this year, so far.  Boo hiss.  Year before last I had tons, but the bees ran them off. I like bees too though.

Can you find the cuteashell caterpillar in this arrangement?  Some little warthog put it in there.  No one will confess, but both of them fall into hysteria whenever I try to get to the bottom of it.

This is a tease.  It is not cuteashell, but quite swanky. 
Able was I ere I saw Elba.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I was lazy this weekend. Sposed to do a bunch of stuff. Well, I did do a bunch of stuff like napping and laying around in the sun and drinking "just one more" cuppa ... you know, important stuff. Kitchen cabinet doors still sitting on the patio, unpainted. Fortunately, this little zinnia was working hard.  You know, thinking about it,  I did do a little manual labor ...

Notice something funny about that little cactus head? A little incognit0liciousness, maybe?  That cute little red bloom fell the hell off about 14 seconds after I brought it home. So I found a tiny nail and popped that sucker back on. Wabi-sabi that, y'all.

Gussied up the tars in front of the chikkin coop. Oregano, lantana, rosemary and uh, something else.

My purple coneflowers are the last in town to bloom, me thinks. She is gonna bloom though...any day now.
We're planning to work hard on finishing the spa this week. That doesn't mean anything will actually get done, but we're planning on it. (I've been planning on painting those damn cabinets and you know how that's going.)
Onward, muchachos!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Inside Austin Garden Tour - A Tour of the Tour

Inside Austin Gardens Tour
Water-Wise Gardening
Saturday, May 14, 2011
9am - 4pm

Y'all need to go to this tour.  It's sponsored by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association - "a service organization of certified master gardeners - trained volunteers who give their time in the community to help others garden well and joyfully in Central Texas."   The theme this year is water-wise gardening and what could be more timely than that (as I watch my 50-year-old oaks withering before my very eyes)?

I got to be part of a swankalicious pre-tour tour and boy, was it fun! We toured four gardens, got treated to breakfast and lunch, hooped and hollered and had an all-around good time. 

Here's some preview love for you...Enjoy, my pretties!

Tour Numero Uno:
The garden of Rebecca Matthews
SO much whimsy and joy and delight.  This garden felt just magical and reminded me of my own yard (just give me another 10 years).  There were so many hidden (and not-so-hidden) treasures in this yard that I got very few pictures of actual plants.  But, plants there were!  Rebecca has tons of plants to entice any gardener and everything looked so healthy and happy. It really is a beautiful garden and touring it was a wonderful way to start the day.  Rebecca is just darling and so easy to visit with. She's put in tons of hours here and it really shows. I know this garden will get a great response on (the real) tour day.

Tour Numero Dos
The garden of Wendy Brennan.  
Designed and installed by Link Davidson.
Oh yea, baby.  I'm talking south Austin cool-o-rama thing happening here.  Master Gardener Link Davidson busted a move (and a back, I'm sure) putting in this minimal Zen space that is also bursting with personality.  Link and Wendy are both into reuse and recycle and the redo was heavy on that.  Link chopped up the old, loooooong and boring cement walkway into modern mis-matched pieces for that uber hip look that I love so much.  Check out those "Grecian urns" against the stone wall.  Urns me arse!  Those are the copper innerds of hot water heaters found on the roadside during bulk trash pick-up day.  Good boy.  Good, good boy. Link is a wonderful storyteller and that made this tour all the more fun.  (Not to mention that we got an extra tour at his house next door. Drool.) PS I am now officially looking for a buoy. PPS I really kinda wanna live next door to Link too.

Tour Numero Tres
The garden of Sue Nazar
Um, BIG wow factor here.  Lush.  Cool.  Green.  Peaceful. Swanky.  Pool.  Need I say more? I was too busy pretending that I lived here to get many pictures, but this is a gardeners garden, dearies.  Sue is clearly a pro as her garden is so crazy good that you feel like you're in a rain forest that has always been right there.  Sue talks casually of miles of mulch, seaweed food this and compost tea that.  My head was spinning cuz my yard is lucky to get watered most of the time.  This west Austin property slopes way down in the back, taking you from the incredible display of plants in the super-sunny hell strip out front, to the other-worldly peace of her backyard.  Some day when I grow up I'm gonna have a big girl house like this too.   Did I say swimming pool? Sigh.

Tour Numero Quatro
The garden of Sheryl Williams
Don't be fooled when you drive up to this modest home with the "weird" looking front lawn.  Sheryl is an amazing gardener and a real farmer of food.   (I am fascinated by people who can really feed themselves from their yards and figure out drainage and all that technical stuff.)  Shery's motto is that if you're going to plant something, why not be able to eat it?   She's only be here for two years (Oregon transplant) and her mini-farm is just downright crazy impressive.  She put in berms and trenches and giant rainwater collection tanks to handle runoff and capture the liquid gold.  I ate green beans and sugar snap peas right off the vine as well as being treated to a magnificent lunch that mostly came straight from the backyard.  I wish I'd gotten a picture of her compost...it looked like it could have been in a garden center. J.e.a.l.o.u.s.  Be sure to pick her brain on this front yard situation.  Foregoing grass, but not wanting to freak out her HOA, Sheryl put in a lawn of Texas sedge that is going to be really impressive when it all fills in.  This got me plotting and planning about an area of my yard that might be perfect for this.   Sheryl is delightful and a plethora of information.  Plan to stay here awhile and learn a lot!

Thanks to all the gardeners who opened their homes and gardens to us.  It was such a wonderful way to spend the day and I am so grateful to all of them for their hard work and hospitality.  A BIG thanks to the TC Master Gardeners Association as well for puttin' on the Ritz for us. What a fine, fine organization that is.
Garden on, Wayne!
PS Thanks to the ever-fabulous Jackdaddy for "reluctantly" taking the day off of work to boy-sit the little boy so that I could go play gardener lady. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I had the honor of seeing the new bee documentary last night called,  QUEEN OF THE SUN: What are the bees telling us?   I feel like I simply must make you see this film if you can.  Really, Really, you just must.  In case you haven't heard, honey bees are having a bitch of a time these days what with mono-agricultural (is that a word?) practices, pesticides, destruction of bee habitats, blah blah blah.  Now don't go sticking your head in hole, dammit.  Just take a deep breath and read some things that YOU can do right now to help.  These suggestions are from the bee people and they know what they're talking about, OK? 

1. Plant things that bees love! Flowers and herbs...mmmm good!  HERE is a big list of plants and herbs that bees love. This is fun, right? Planting things! weeeeeeeee
2.  Please, please, please don't use chemicals and pesticides in your yard or on your lawns.  Really, perfect lawns and yards are a thing of the past.  Poisoning the bees is just like poisoning yourself.  It's the big picture thing, OK?
3. Embrace your weeds!  Weeds are there for a reason.  You don't have to let them take over, but stop pulling up every damn thing. Dandelions and clover are manna to bees.  It's like giving up ironing. You think you can't, but once you do? Oh lordy, a whole new world! Love your wrinkles and your weeds. You'll be happier for it.
4. YUM! Buy local, raw honey from the beekeepers.  They're everywhere!  They are! If you don't have a local farmer's market, just ask around.  Chances are there is someone keeping bees somewhere close to you.  If you've never sucked the honey out of a cone...girl, girl, girl.  You'll never go back, as they say. 
5.  Bees need water just like we do.  I have lots of shallow terra cotta dishes all over my yard and I keep fresh water in them.  I put a few rocks in there so the bees and butterflies have a place to light.  These are just the bottoms from flowerpots.  You'll be amazed who comes to visit once you put these out.  Bees, butterflies, toads, lizards, cats, chikkins, etc.!  
6.  If you find a hive or see a swarm of bees, DON'T PANIC!  They're not out to get you. If you're afraid, just go inside and look for a beekeeper in your area.  There are people literally waiting in line to take your bees and keep them safe! Bees are vegetarians and they are more afraid of you than you of them (probably).  Just stay calm, let them smell you, move slowly.  Be at one with the bee. 
7.  Be big pain in the ass.  (My personal favorite.)  Tell the people who make the laws that you care about honeybees cuz you really kinda like being alive and you really kinda want your kids and your grandkids to stay alive.  HERE is a link to get you started.  Tell 'em I sent ya. 

Look at these beautiful things.  Where in the world would be bee without them? D.E.A.D, y'all, that's where.
Now go buy some local honey, dammit. 

PS Thanks to Jessie, Elaine, Hedrich and Rebecca for the fun night of bee love.
PPS And thanks to Sonja for turning me on to bee movies in general.
PPPS If you really wanna see something about bees that is beyond freakyassfreaky, watch THIS. (Thank god for Alamo Drafthouse or we might never know about this kind of insanity.) 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ode to my Mama

Chicken my chicken my creamy crow,
I went to the well to wash my toe,
When I got there the water was low,
What time is it, Old Witch, Old Witch?
What time is it Old Witch?
Old Witch, Old Witch, she lives in a ditch,
And combs her hair with a hickory switch.
She lives on nails and snails and flies
And if you go near she'll wobble her eyes,
Oh, she'll wobble her eyes, Oh, she'll wobble her eyes.

It's a strange ode, I admit, but we are a strange pair, my mama and I.  She used to sing this little ditty to us when we were children.   I finally got one of these crazy metal chikkins for Mother's Day! (Hint: it's good to buy your own MD present.)  Seeing this crazy old thing in my yard makes me appreciate having a good sense of humor which, in turn, makes me appreciate my mama all the more because she is the reason I have such a crazy sense of humor.  
Oh, I do love my mama more than anything in the world.  (Well, I do also love my son and my husband more than anything in the world, but there is a special love that is just for a mama.)
Here's to you, mama!  May we always be a crazy pair of old hens! 

PS  The surprise I talked about on Friday didn't happen which is good and bad. Bad because it didn't happen and good because now there's still a surprise to come. La, la, la. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Heigh Ho!

It's off to work I go.  Yard work, maties!

Some fun stuff to do.

Some more fun stuff to do.

Some work for Jackdaddy to do.

And some not-so-fun work for me to do.  (Maybe I can trick Jackdady into thinking this is part of his work to do.)
We might, just might, have a little surprise for you on Monday.  If God's willin' and the crick don't rise, that is.  (Course, that surprise might be a picture of me laid up in bed with a bottle of Advil by my side, but I'm hoping it's something somewhat more exciting.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Drunk on color, that's what I am, dammit.  Cracked out on it, to be honest.  I have dear friends who are not of the color persuasion who are simply horrified by my yard (and home).  I can understand this ... I really can.  It's not unusual for me to walk in my backyard and totally freak out by all the ... COLOR and CRAP.  What can I say?  It's a compulsion, of sorts.  And NOW,  I've started with the annuals crack.  Annuals are crack, I tell you.  I've never had any until this year.  I really think that one of my favorite flowers of all time is Cosmos.  (I was gonna put the botanical name here so y'all would think I'm a real gardener, but all I can remember is that they're orange, but called Red-something.  Oh lordy, I'm terrible, aren't I?)  Whatever.  They are SO orange and you know how I love orange.  I put a bunch right by the cobalt blue bird bath ... POW!  Mega Gaudylicious.

I got soooo sucked in to gaudy today.  It's those damn annuals!  Damn, damn them. I just went annual crazy today.  Yea, $30.00 worth of crazy that may or may not reseed next year.  It's like going out to a good dinner.  It's soooo good while it lasts, but you wake up hungry just the damn same.  Sigh.   I got suckered into another strawflower thingee because I am obsessed with them.  Flambe Yellow Strawflower (chrysocephalum apiculatum blah blah blah.)

I so cracked out on the annuals that I was entertaining the idea of just having an entire yard of Cosmos and Strawflower...everything else be damned.  I mean, seriously, what more could you want than this silvery yellowy thingee that needs mostly nothing in the way of care?  (I'd like this same model number in a husband. HooHaw...just kidding!)  I got some other damn annual thing too.  I have no idea what it is although, I guess the plant ID thingee is out in my yard somewhere.  It's soooooo cute....look....

What is it?  Y'all know?  Maybe tomorrow I'll go poking through the Nerf bullets and chikkin poop and crappy city mulch to find the little tag.  (I know you're on pins and needles.)
(Update: Thanks to the lovely Linda of Central Texas Gardener fame, this sweetie pie is a Calibrachoa, aka Million Bells.)
(UpdateUpdate: Um, so, wrong Linda.  Yet another fabulous Linda whose wonderful blog is HERE. Please note that she is growing water chestnuts!  I used to know a great joke about a parrot and chestnuts...hmmm...I'll have to think. Anyway, the new Linda is gonna get a visit from me cuz I want to learn to grow food like she is.)

Update on the woolly balls area:  L.O.V.I.N.G. the strawflower/gomphrena/gregg's mistflower/sunflower combo.  My yard is so shady that I get downright blissed out at this kind of color combo.
Well,  so much for crack.  I'm a daytime junkie... now it's 10:00 pm and I'm nodding off as we speak.  What's crack for you these days?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekending at the Holt House

Huzzah! And a happy Beltane to ye, lads and lasses! 
For our May Day celebration, The Wabi-Sabi household headed out to Richard Garriot's place on the lake for a day of jousting.  Jackdaddy's friend, Sean, is a jouster extraordinnare and we were thrilled to finally get to see him compete.
Check it out HERE
This is real jousting, my friends, not the choreographed stuff you see at the Renaissance Festival.  (Although, like said festival, there is plenty o' bodice- ripping, grog-swilling and bagpipe-playing.)  

Not to mention the trying out of the stocks.  Nasty, nasty things, the stocks.  

And pirateing!!  Can you believe this thing? There is a little Medieval village set up there with a fortress, a jail, a weird maze thing (with fake blood dripping down the walls for that authentic Medieval feel, I suppose), and an incredible rope swing between two tree houses.

(You KNOW I was wanting that rope bridge and tree house set-up for The Wabi-Sabi house...really, really wanting it.)

The horses were a sight to behold.  Magnificent things, all of them.  
We were also so delighted to see The Horse Boy Foundation folks there.  If you've never heard of them,  I highly suggest watching their documentary - The Horse Boy.  The movie is a  beautiful and heart-wrenching story of a family searching for answers to their son's autism.  FinnigantheCurious was quite star-struck by seeing Rowan in person.   Rowan is such a beautiful child you'd be star-struck even if he wasn't a movie star!
I should have been at home weeding and watering, but instead I went wenching.  I'll take a wench over a weed any day!