Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PLTuesday

My beautiful, beautiful Evelyn Ackerman tapestry that hung in my Daddy's office.  I remember loving it as a child and am so honored to have it my home now. 

I decorated my whole house around this tapestry and the mystery one here:


I periodically go on a chase to find out who the artist of this one was, but have never found a thing.  It has no label, only the initials "DL."

That big red sun sure does look familiar these days, doesn't it?  I think they're beach houses...up on stilts.  That's so interesting as the house I grew up in was on stilts as well.  (We lived in a high-flood area.)

Happy Tuesday to you!

***Addendum***

Well, I got curious again last night after writing this post and started poking around on the www.  I found this fantastic site called Mid-Centuria.  I wrote that (clearly) fabulous and knowledgeable guy a note and he replied right back giving me the lowdown on the mystery tapestry.  I am GIDDY to announce that it is called "Seaside" (drool drool) and was created by Donald Leake who worked with the Ackermans.  
I'm so happy to finally know!!!  I feel like a dumb butt for not digging further into the Ackermans because I'm sure I would have found this out sooner if I had.  Cest la vie, my pretties because now I know and that's all that matters!! 


Mucho, mucho thanks to Kevin at Mid-Centuria for this gift. And for that gorgeous blog. 


And to whoever bought these damn things in the first place and hung them in my Dad's office.  My mom says they were just there; that the bank decorated the office.  OMG was that office SO Madmen...I can't even begin to tell you.  I wish I had all that stuff...even the ashtray that was always, but always full.  


Off to not smoke and not have a cocktail.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Funny Owl


This little owlette sits on top of my piano.  (NO! I am not over the bird thing, thank you very much.) It sat in the same place for a long, long time.  One day while undusting (a rare occurrence), I moved her over to the other side of the piano.   For some weird kid reason, FinnigantheCurious thought the owl had moved by itself.  He had two friends over at the time and he convinced them (he is very convincing) that this was truth.  It caused quite a ruckus and commotion, needless to say.  Now, being a mama who believes in the keeping the magic alive as long as possible (and, oh, it is so very fleeting around here these days), I could not bring myself to pipe in and say that I had simply moved her for cleaning.  So I didn't.  And I never will.

So now there is great owl lore around Finnigan and his friends.  We have a haunted (but friendly) owl!  Periodically  I move the owl and the kids just go insane.  I really think they believe that the owl is moving herself.  I love this. I couldn't have planned it, it just came to be straight out of the delicious mind of a child.

I wonder if they'll ever think of it when they are grown and gone?  That The Holts had a haunted owl that moved itself!  I hope so.  I hope they all think back on this house and know that magic was alive and well. 

Hoo! Hoo! and a Happy Monday to yoo!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lawn Reform - Yea, baby!

I'd like to talk to you quite seriously (for a change) about Lawn Reform.  I'm not preaching (for a change), I'm just, oh, advocating a bit for open minds about the American obsession with turf.  By turf I mean lawns of grass. It's time we rethink what a beautiful yard should look like.


My friend and ally, Pam Penick, over at Digging just announced that she is writing a book! about this very subject that is so near and dear to my heart.  (She's not writing it because it's near and dear to me; that's just me pontificating.)  And over at the Garden Designers Roundtable this month, the experts are talking about lawn alternatives as well.  

For once I can talk about something with some expertise (instead of just acting like an expert, which I am very good at as you well know).   I have no grass in my yard at all. None.  Zip.  Nada.  I mulched and planted instead.  Mostly mulched.  Still working on planting.  

I did this for a variety of reasons.  The first being environmental.  The second being the actual monetary cost of water.  The third being lazy and not wanting to mow. Did you know that Americans use 600 million gallons of gas per year on cutting grass? Check out the skinny (and more harrowing news) HERE.  In central Texas where I am, well, hell, in most all of Texas right now (and for the last few years, really) we are experiencing an epic drought.  Epic Epic, not just epic.  Huge trees falling over dead epic.  Critters never seen before in neighborhoods coming in to find water epic. 

We need to find long-term ways to conserve water.  Ditching the well-manicured, water-thirsty grass lawn is a great place to start. It won't fix everything, but it is a start.  You can have a gorgeous, interesting, extremely low-maintenance yard that you never have to mow and it's relatively easy to do.

When we bought our house the entire yard, front and back, was turf.  There was a lot of St. Augustine mixed in with Bermuda and other varieties of unidentifiable (to me at that time) ground cover. I knew I didn't want any grass, but I really had no idea what I did want.  FinnigantheCurious was only 2 at the time and I knew that I would not have hours and hours of time to fill an entire yard with decorative landscaping, so I started poking around the Internet and calling Earth-friendly nurseries in the area with all my questions. Everyone was happy to tell me how to get rid of the turf, but no one really had any suggestions as what to put down other than more environmentally sound ground cover like horseherb or clover or vinca, etc..  Some people advocated for lots of pea gravel or decomposed granite, but I had a baby and I wanted something that he could play on.  Almost everyone suggested going slowly by killing the turf in small sections, putting in beds of natives and adding lots of gravel or mulch paths.  Mulch? Hmmm. All I knew of mulch was the kind of chunky, ugly stuff I'd seen around trees.  Was there better looking, softer mulch to be had?  A few calls led me back to The Natural Gardener.  They suggested I come out and look at their various types of mulch.  

L.O.V.E at first sight.  I wanted a mulch yard. I especially wanted a mulched front yard. I've got two absolutely glorious Live Oaks in my front yard and nothing wants to grow under them.  I figured a nicely "manicured" lawn of mulch and Live Oaks would be really cool.  I initially thought I would do some shade landscaping in addition to the mulch, but we ended up loving the look so much and LOVING, I mean LOVING the NO CARE aspect of it that we just decided to leave it.  Now,  I've got a LOT going on in my yard so that's probably one reason why you don't notice that there's no landscaping.  I "landscape" with art and color.  

Here's what the lawn used to look like in front.  I don't have many good pictures because it was soooo wretched up there I could hardly bear to photograph it.



(No, not our own personal loader, just sitting there from our patio project.)
Lots and lots of grass, but none of it uniform.  There were bare patches all over and lots of different kinds of grass.  And this photo was taken in late spring when the grass was at its very best.  Here's a shot in late winter, early spring:



Dirt.  Mud. Blech.
Here's a view from the street corner.

The dogs did a great job of killing major portions of it.  I didn't water it for an entire summer. Almost 2 years of not watering and dog trotting took it all out.  You could do it much more quickly with cardboard layering (read more about that below).  I did lay down some cardboard in the spots where the Bermuda was at its thickest, but I didn't really need much.


Here's my hillbilly mulch hauler contraption that Jackdaddy constructed for the truck.  Worked great.  You can read some more about my mulch hauling adventures  HERE.  I am a world class mulch hauler. I am, in fact, a downright badass. 


Here it's starting to go in.  (That sounds like it's unloading itself.  Oh, how I wish.) I love how it looks between the new fancy shmancy walk way.


Filling up the side of the porch. (oh, wow.  We still had the old windows in then too. Damn, we've done a lot of crap to this place. No wonder I'm tired. And broke.)

I put down a lot of mulch that first year.  I can't remember how many yards, but it was a lot.  Maybe 4 or 5? Hell, I dunno. A lot.  I topped it off a bit this year with just a yard or two when the bulk mulch went on sale.  I think next year I'll do a another big dump and that's only because I like it really thick.  It's so soft and bouncy.  This is the very basic mulch from The Natural Gardener called Landscapers Mulch.  You gotta call out there for prices, but it is reasonable and much, much cheaper than watering, fertilizing, mowing, etc..  Promise.  You can also get free, free, FREE mulch from Asplundh and Davey Tree.
You just call, get on a list, sign a release form and, voila! they'll bring you a big old truck load.  I used a lot of free mulch in the backyard, but I wanted the front to look a bit nicer.

Here's where we are today:


 Ta da!



Ta da ta da!

I just can't tell you how easy it was to do this and how completely, totally, utterly maintenance-free it is.  It looks wonderful, it's interesting, it's environmentally sound, it's comfortable.  Hardly a day goes by that someone does not stop and compliment me on it or ask about it.   


Now, you certainly don't need to do what I did.  I really, really love having NO plants at all up there to futz with other than the potted ones on the porch, but you might want to go all out and put in beds and paths and trees and ponds.  You might also just want to take baby steps.  Find a portion of your lawn that is troublesome to you.  Maybe it needs too much water or maybe it grows too fast or maybe it won't grow at all.  Just start there.  Get rid of it and put some native perennials in.  Start a little patch of love.  You'll be glad, you'll see. There are millions of ways to go lawn-free.  Here are a few fun links to get  you started (down the rabbit hole, for sure.  Be sure to set a timer.) thinking about what your options might be.

Earth Easy.  Be sure to read about clover as a ground cover!

and if you head over to the Garden Designers Roundtable, you'll find tons and tons of links to just about everything you can imagine on alternative laws.  If nothing else, just scroll to the bottom of the post and read what each blogger posted yesterday.  Mucho funo.


Tomed you!
Now I'm off to not mow, yo.







Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mellow Yellow

Thank the gods for Esperanza.  There they grow, towering and flowering in the full sunfromhell.  They really are so pretty, especially with that crazy chikkin back there in all it's color madness.  (The metal chikkin, not the real chikkin.)

Poor, deserted raised vegetable bed.  I've got 3 tomato plants still hanging in there. I'm hoping to get them through August and maybe they'll fruit again in the fall.  Oh, I can't wait to get the spinach and lettuce in!  I've been doing a little hillbilly planting around here too...


Yea, um, tires.  I think I showed you these before, but I really like this little vignette at the coop.  BOK BOK!   The ladies deserve a little gussyness.  I've got some rosemary, a lantana, some lavender (that thing can take some heat too!) and a delicious Almond Verbena.  Pam over at Digging turned me on to that verbena and I LOVE it.  The smell is so sweet it's almost sickly, but holy toledo the bees LOVE it.  It's bee crack.  I can see an entire yard of this stuff!  I'd be a bee crack dealer.


I think there's a squash growing in with the lavender.  I love volunteer veggies.  That would be awesome if I got some late summer squash by accident.

For a total non sequitur..I killed my black bamboo finally.  On purpose.  
Dear god what we went through to get that crap! My neighbor and gardening friend, Beverly, graciously "let" us come dig some up from her yard. I use the term dig lightly as it was more like, oh, excavate.  Poor Jackdaddy almost broke his damn back trying to get it out.  Broke a shovel, he did.  (Almost broke a marriage, honestly.)  But it never did do a damn bit of growing.  It survived, but never grew and it was all gangly and raggedy so I killed it. 



I like the stock tank better now.  Mucho bettero.
There's another recommended plant for the summerfrom hell:  Knock Out roses.  Pam (dear Pam again) gave me those beautiful ones on the end.  The struggling ones in the middle are grown by me.  Imagine that.
La, La, La.
Happy Thursday, my pretties!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PLTuesday

Moo.  


Isn't she the kayoooootest thing?  Little red ceramic cow lady with a Texas stamped right on her.   She's a bank, to boot.  So, her name is, uh, Moola. (Boo. Hiss.)  I got her from one of Ellen's yard sales.  Lovely Ellen, lovely goodies.  I really cannot believe that she's not been broken yet.  (The cow, not Ellen.)  She stands all day looking out the window.... longingly? Probably laughingly because she's living large inside the cool A/C and not standing out in some field sweating her arse off.  Smart cow.


Happy Toosday. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Monday

I'm so happy that I have been getting almost 2 buckets a day (well, in 24 hours, I mean) of air conditioning drip water.  One of my yard challenges is keeping the stock tanks/fish homes filled with water.  The evaporation rate is insane!  Normally I have to fill up some buckets with hose water, let them sit for a few days so that the chlorine can burn off, and then put them in.  Once I "discovered" (Jackdaddy told me) that this A/C water is pure, pure, I can just shlep it over and pour it in!  Ooo la la. Happy me, happy fish.


But wait!  Two happies (happys?) today....
I finally figured out why my flourishing Ruellia patch is only flourishing close to the street and not right up by the fence...



Yea.  Damn chikkins are poking their heads through and eating the ones right by the fence.  What to do, what to do?
I'm so happy those Ruellias are finally taking off too!  Remember when I just planted them and they were all so ugly and scraggly
They're all flush and full now...mmmmm. I can't wait to get more this fall and finish going all the way around the fence. 
Hmmm, what else? OH! A happy for Jackdaddy...



Gate opener has arrived!!! Fancy, huh?  One of the cool things about Jackdaddy's job is that every now and then he gets to do an extra thing and that extra thing gets us some extra money.  He sat on a fancy panel thingee recently and got some $$$$.  I told him just to keep it all (we usually split as I do extra work as a single parent, you know), but he decided to buy the gate opener so that's like us both getting a big treat!  Oh, it's gonna be sooooo swanky to push a button and have that gate open for me.  The boys will be miffed, I'm sure, as I pay them .50 for opening it for me.  (Why is there no cents symbol on keyboards anymore? What the hell?)

Hope you have a happy Monday too.




Friday, August 19, 2011

Dreaming

Instead of doing this (can't believe I'm actually showing you)...

I'm busy doing this.. 
 




Oh, yea, just pouring over every page and dreaming and drooling and plotting and planning as if I have a real garden.  I've got 4 raised beds, that's it.  But whenever I get into these garden fits, I start dreaming of turning my whole yard over into production.  I literally start to believe that I am going to go balls to the wall and turn the whole yard into food.  Now, I can't even keep a bed of okra alive cuz I'm too damn lazy.  Can you see me with a whole yard?  
I started trying to talk to Jackdaddy about the "Whole Yard Production Plan" and I'm all like, "So we could move the fence here and then those stock tanks could go over there and the pond won't be too hard to move really since I killed all the fish and what if we planted some olive trees there..."  and I can, literally, see his eyes glaze over and he starts slinking out of the room (thinking that I'm not noticing) and I just keep on talking.  Oh god, it's just too hilarious.  I can see myself being insane and yet I cannot stop.  Can. not. stop. 
This is all folly, my dears, but it's what I do when the %$&$^# temperature is over 100 for the millionth day AND THERE IS NO RAIN EVER.  

I just, ARG, I dunnoooooo,  I really, really, really want to grow more food, but dammit dammit I just can't seem to commit to making it happen.  

But this is yet another reason that it's good to get older; you know your limits a little bit more each year.  I have these fits every fall and spring and I somehow manage to resist the urge to till the yard.  Experience is a delicious thing, dearies!  

It's not all my fault that I get so crazy anyway.  Right now I'm blaming it on this woman:

http://www.soulemama.com/soulemama/2011/08/notes-from-.html

Hate her.

OK, love her, but hate her.  
They're growing lettuce and watermelon at the same freaking time!!!!!  Kale and cantaloupes.  Sheesh, Louise.  
Course, I'm gonna be out in my lovely 60 degrees garden harvesting my delicious spinach and lettuces and chards this winter and she is going to be posting pictures of piles and piles of snow and complaining about her millionth day of being stuck inside with temperatures below freezing for weeks on end so, I guess we're even. 

Doesn't feel that way right now, does it?