Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bit by the Green-Eyed Monster

Last weekend we visited an old friend who had recently moved to a new house. Where her last house was beautiful and perfectly decorated, this one was a huge, gorgeous showplace. And that wasn't even where the monster got me, although it certainly could have. No, it was the absolute absence of clutter. The tables and shelves had only what should have been there, tastefully decorated of course, but no excess of books shoved into the bookshelves, no shelves overloaded with trinkets that had to be kept somewhere. The end result was very relaxing and looked easy to clean as well.

I felt the sting when we got home and I walked into my kitchen, cluttered with mismatched coffee cups, seeds sprouting on the windowsill, and a pile of a laundry waiting for it's turn in the washer. My whole house is like that because I have more stuff than places to put it, and I am weighed down with "heirlooms" that someone else in the family wanted to get rid of. Then, there's the furniture and household items both daughters are collecting to feather their own nests but currently storing in every vacant corner of my house. Donna's house had none of that, not even a little pile of mail anywhere.

That reminds me that the Hubster and I haven't been making any headway on our 2009 goals, especially the ones about clearing the clutter and putting up everything after using it. If it takes 30 to 60 days for something to become a habit, then I still have time to achieve those goals this year. Since one or both girls will move by the end of May, that's when I'd like to have "putting things away" a solid habit.

Marti

Monday, March 30, 2009

God is Like a GPS

Recently I went to Missouri with Lil as she searched for an apartment before starting her new job. Knowing what a bad sense of direction we both have, we took a GPS along with us, and sure enough we missed a lot of turns, often not even knowing we missed it until we heard the voice say "recalculating."

Lil prayed and agonized over this job offer before she finally decided to take it. She was so afraid she would make the wrong decision that would set her course for the rest of her life. But like the GPS, when we make a bad decision, God leads us back on course. And also like the GPS, God will lead us back over and over until we finally get on the course he has laid out for us.

We named the GPS Feefee after a street we finally found after many wrong turns. Once we made so many wrong turns that we thought we heard exasperation in Feefee's voice, but actually it was our own frustration we were feeling. That is the same with God too. He never becomes exasperated with us; the irritation is within us and we are projecting it on God.

When we first began homeschooling, we didn't know what we were doing, only that it had to be better than the public system. Neither of our girls were average in a system that taught to the middle of the class. Ours girls were at either end of the spectrum and the overloaded teachers couldn't give them what they needed. My motto then, and through the next seven years was to do what they needed when they needed it. For Brownie, that meant testing, a prescribed curriculum based on her learning style, and homeschooling through graduation. Through unschooling, we discovered her tenacity and skills. For Lil, it meant encouraging her creative side and homeschooling for just a few years until she once again became confident. Then it became clear to all of us that she needed a higher level and more competition than homeschool could provide. That was God putting us on course.

Marti

Friday, March 27, 2009

Winds of Change


Just as we thought winter was behind us, a Norther is upon us. Outside, Hubby walked up on a small group of dove by the pond and they didn't want to leave their warm spot. Now the wind is howling around the corners of the house, the roof is creaking in protest against it's pressure, and we are snug inside. We aren't supposed to have a freeze tonight, which is a good thing, because anything we cover the garden plants with will just blow off.

I just looked at tomorrow morning's forecast and it doesn't look good. We are supposed to do some volunteer work at the zoo in the morning and the temperature is supposed to be 34 and feel like 24. I wonder how many will show up?

Just an update if anyone is interested.

All Friday night I kept waking up because the wind was blowing so hard. When I dragged myself out of bed Saturday morning, it was 36 degrees and the wind was a sustained 30mph. I went straight to the computer to see if there was an email cancelling the event. No such luck. We put on several layers and gathered up gloves and earmuffs and headed out. I really thought we might be the only ones there, but there was actually a good turnout with about eight of us. And luckily, the zoo, or that part of it, was in a valley and protected from the wind. It was still cold, but it wasn't bad without the wind. There was less to do than last year too, and we whipped it out in less than two hours.

Marti

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unplugging the Earth

Today I was writing an article about Earth Day and my experience in a rally in the first Earth Day in 1970. My recollections were a little dim, so I called a friend who was there also. Her husband, an engineer at a nuclear power plant, answered the phone and we chatted a few minutes before I asked for her cell phone number. One of the things we chatted about was the sagging economy and he ended the conversation by laughingly saying "keep your air conditioner on all summer" to which I replied "ok, I'll keep it on ... on 80."

Now I know he was joking, and I also know they keep their air conditioner pretty high, but it did make me think. While many people do all they can to conserve energy, there are just as many who don't. I have several friends who keep the heat high in winter and the air conditioner low in summer. They have the money to easily pay for it. I have other friends who also keep the air conditioner low in summer, even when they are at work all day, and they struggle to pay the electric bill. They also eat a lot of prepackaged foods and produce a lot of trash, yet don't change their ways. For all of them, it's about convenience and their own comfort.

I suppose we do have the money to keep the air conditioner low in summer if we wished, but we don't. For one thing, I'd rather put money in my savings account than in the electric company's account, and for another, I don't like using electricity that contributes to polluting our planet. I sometimes wonder how people survived summers here before refrigerated air conditioning, and wearing long sleeves, long skirt, and petticoats at that. Compared to their discomfort, it is nothing to set my air conditioner a bit higher than is really comfortable.

I grew up in a small town in the Texas panhandle, at a time when few people had refrigerated air conditioning. Most people, our family included, had evaporative coolers, aka swamp coolers. They looked a lot like refrigerated window units except they were much bigger and had straw pads on the sides. The bottom was filled with water and a water pump poured water down the straw pads. In the dry climate there, it was comfortable, and didn't draw a lot of electricity. However, they don't work in the humidity in this part of Texas. The one drawback with those coolers is that they had to be installed at one end of the house, usually the south side, and a window or door at the other end of the house had to be open, using normal breezes to pull the cool air through the house. That south window was in my bedroom, which meant I could never close my bedroom door in summer. As a tempermental adolescent, it was difficult to storm off to my room when I couldn't slam the door behind me - kind of took the fervor out of it.

Now, back to my recollections of the first Earth Day, I called my friend, and she couldn't remember any more than I could. So I called my mother, and she didn't remember the rally, but she did remember the teacher who encouraged our participation in the rally. This teacher was great, and I remember burying all kinds of stuff in the backyard to see how long it took to decompose. My mother remembers me digging up her peony bed. Oops.

Of all the things we buried, I was most surprised that nylon hose were mostly intact six months later. That was before pantyhose and the hosiery was silky, thin, and less stretchy than today's pantyhose, and it often took nothing more than bending to pop a runner that quickly spread from top to bottom. They had a thick thigh band and were held up by garters attached to a garter belt. If young people today think pantyhose are a nuisance, they should give garter belts and nylon hose a try. After that experiment, I became an avid opponent of litter, and insisted that everyone in my family use a trash can instead of the highway. My mother remembers me shouting "litterbug" out the car window at strangers. Well, they were. I don't shout from car windows anymore, but I still think it.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a love of earth,
Marti

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Long, Hard Weekend

It is spring so it must be project time. We began this weekend by removing the fence between the house and garage.
Then Hubby tilled the garden one more time while I cleaned out flower beds, and we repurposed the panels from the fence to use as trellis for the tomatoes. We put it at an angle and will train the tomato vines on top and hopefully the tomatoes will hang down on the other side for easier picking. I just hope it doesn't make it easier for the mockingbirds also.



Under the tomatoes, I planted onions and asparagus.



Next, Hubby started building a vortex filter for the pond and digging out a spot for it in the canna bed while I began taking out the bog which would have been easier if it hadn't just rained. What looked to be dry ground was pure muck when stepped on. Luckily, I just did that with one foot. After I got the rocks, plants and most of the mud raked out, Hubby helped me pull out the liner. It took both of us pulling together to get a twenty foot liner caked with mud out from under the bridge. I may regret it, but I'm going to plant the umbrella palm and Louisiana iris directly into the garden. I just hope they don't become monsters and try to take it over.

Afterwards, I began taking out the stone walkway from the house to the shed and moved them to areas where a stone walkway will work better. I certainly hope I don't have to move them again. I also repotted some water lilies, drained and moved the horse tank, and then refilled it. After Hubby looked at the angle of the two decks, he thinks it will be best to put it where the horse tank is, so now I get to drain and move it again. *groan*

While picking up some of those heavy rocks, I felt something touch my denim shorts and I turned around quickly but nothing was there. I picked up another rock and felt the same pressure, turned around and again nothing was there. That continued until I had all the rocks from that area moved, and I finally had time to look at my backside where I felt something and saw that my shorts had ripped from knee to the bottom of my pocket. Eeek, mooning the neighbors and I never even knew it!

Until next time, may you have blessings and teamwork,
Marti

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring!



I noticed the first Yellow Swallowtail butterfly of the season fluttering about the flowers so ran inside to get my camera. She never really settled, but I managed to snap a shot before she disappeared. Then I roamed around taking pictures of everything that is in bloom. My yard smells heavenly!

Pink Creeping Phlox and Daffodils:





White Iris:



Rosemary:



Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa), a Texas native:



Autumn Sage (Salvia Greggii), a Texas native:



Grape Hyacinth:



Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha), a Texas native:



Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora), a Texas native:



Wisteria:



Carolina Jessamine (gelsemium sempervirens), a Texas native:



Purple oxalis:



Until next time, may you have blessings and a fragrant spring,
Marti