April 29, 2010

Renewing Family Ties

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a first cousin who died unexpectedly. As I've said before, my father was one of seven children and I have a lot of cousins. But my father didn't like to vacation or even go on weekend visits to see his family. I guess it was a family trait because several of them told me their parents were the same. The only time I ever got to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins were mainly at funerals. Then, we always said we need to get together more.  I did organize a family reunion after my father died and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but we never had another one. We were just starting our family, and I always said when things slowed down, I wanted to start visiting our families and get to know them. It never happened.

At this funeral, several people spoke about how well liked my cousin was, how he reached out to people, his sense of humor, and love of practical jokes. And I never knew him.

As I sat there listening, I decided that I wasn't going to let any more time pass before getting to know the rest of my family and Hubby's family. Making a trip one weekend each month will be good for us, since we seldom take vacations either, and we can begin to get reacquainted with our family. Since we visited with Hubby's family last, this month will be someone from my family. I just hope they want to spend a little time with us as much as I want to spend time with them. Wish us luck.

Until next time, may you have blessings and family ties,

April 28, 2010

Late Start in the Garden

Between working on the bathroom and watching it rain, we just never got the garden going this spring. But I've been working on it. This is probably going to be a boring post, so feel free to skip it, but I have found it helps to go back and see how I did things the year before when I am planning the next garden.

A few years ago we bought a tiller, and even though there is nothing as pretty as a freshly tilled garden, it is a lot, and I do mean a lot, of work. Our clay soil is hard to work when it's wet or when it's completely dry. When wet, it's like a sticky, gumbo that clogs up the tines and sticks to the bottom of shoes and has to be scraped out. When completely dry, it's hard as cement. So the perfect time to till, is somewhere in between.

I have had mixed results with the lasagna method (layer of cardboard with mulch on top) in my front flower beds and last year tried it on part of the garden after it was planted. It worked great at keeping out weeds, but little effect on grass. Best of all, it kept the soil from drying out too fast, and the soil under the cardboard was soft and crumbly.

This spring I read a few books on tilling verses no till, and I want to try the no till method on at least half the garden with the soaker hoses under the cardboard instead of on top. So last week I collected cardboard boxes, flattened them, and laid them out on top of my hoses, overlapping so there was no exposed ground for a weed to come through. Then two yards of cedar mulch spread on top of them. All this in 20-30 mph winds. But a good soaking later and they were ready to plant. All I had to do was push back the mulch and punch a hole in cardboard and soil with a bulb planter, stick a tomato in each hole, and bring the mulch back around it.

The in-laws wanted to plant tomatoes too, so we bought enough for everyone and they came out last Sunday to help us plant. I had most of the holes dug by the time they got here and thought they could put plants in holes while I dug more. But I looked up to see that father-in-law had scraped more mulch away, pulled out the cardboard, and was digging a wide circle around the hole I dug. He thought the soil needed to be worked more before planting. Eeek! All that work I had done, messed up in five minutes. I asked him not to do that but Hubby said just let him do it, so I bit my tongue. They planted the tomatoes Hubby set by the gate and then I told them that was all we had. I planted the rest the next day.

Then, Hubby tilled the other side and father-in-law picked up the rake to smooth it. I dug holes for my potatoes and when I got to the end of the row, I turned around and he had filled them all in. It's aggravating, but sad too. Whether it's Alzheimers or something else, it's taking away the person he was.

Last year I tried a fence panel trellis instead of tomato cages or stakes and it really didn't work well for me. I also had a few of those cone-shaped tomato cages but they were in fairly bad shape. This year we are making cages out of reinforcing wire. We also planted onions in a row under the tomato trellis and it was wasted space after the onions were done. This year I planted onions and garlic in my flower garden and around squash (in raised patio containers) to try to stop squash bugs.

I'm also rotating the garden to try to avoid the nematode problems we had with green beans a few years ago.

This is last year's garden:

And this is this year's garden:

Until next time, may you have blessings and rich soil,

April 27, 2010

It's All in the Preparation

Which is one reason I hate painting. But paint rollers tend to send a shower of droplets so I drug out several tarps and covered the shower and the adjacent cabinet, and one on the floor. Cleaned out a five gallon bucket, found a paint roller and grid. Now I'm good to go.

Just shake the paint up a bit.....

This was taken after I scooped up all the spilled paint with my bare hands since I didn't have anything to scoop it up with, and one foot had paint on it, and after I cleaned all the splattered paint from my newly laid tile and refinished cabinets. Dad-blamed new-fangled plastic paint lids!

You know how I've been trying not to say "crap"? I now hold the world's record in number of times said in thirty seconds.

Until next time, may you have blessings and plenty of tarps,

April 16, 2010

Just When I Was Feeling Youthful

You know that road trip I said I was going on? Well, it came sooner than I expected because a cousin died suddenly and I drove up to go to the funeral. Don't get ahead of me, that isn't what made me feel youthful. Well, maybe it is, but not what you'd think. See, I'm the youngest child of the youngest child in a family of seven children. So most of my cousins are older than me. I do have two younger cousins, and several who are only a year or two older than me, but for the most part I am one of the younger ones. And, I still have most of my natural hair color. That's why I was feeling younger.

Or it was until the next day when Mom and I went to lunch at Pizza Hut. The young waitress asked if we both wanted the senior buffet. I naively thought they must have a really low starting age for the senior citizen discount, until I made the mistake of asking. It was sixty-five. The girl thought I looked sixty-five! Impudent punk.

Until next time, may you have blessings and youthful illusions,

April 15, 2010

Rugged Beauty of the Caprock

Maybe it's because I grew up there, but I love the Texas Caprock, especially in spring. It is mostly unchanged from the last ice age; a living glimpse into the wild country our ancestors came across in their quest for adventure and their own land. The wheat is green and waving like a billowing sheet of velvet, changing from dark to lighter shades of green as gusts of wind roll across it; and the plains are rocky, dotted with cactus and sagebrush.

Please excuse the pictures, my good camera was packed in my suitcase.

There are buffalo (this one is cooling in a wallow)

but very few real trees. There are some mesquite and scrub oak, but it's a sure bet that any tall trees were planted by someone, and usually indicate the location of a house or windbreak.

Cattle. Lots of cattle. New calves are cute but that's where the appeal ends. Cattle aren't very bright. I think this one is eating an electric cord. (Don't worry, there was a ranch truck right across the street taking care of things.)

The flat plain of the caprock gives way to rocky ravines and sharp cliffs which carve the sides of the caprock, ending again in a rolling plain below. You can see for miles on top, but it seems like you can see the world spread out in front of you when standing on the edge of the caprock. (These two pictures are much better if you click on them to enlarge.)

On the plains at the bottom of the caprock are buttes sculpted by glaciers. (Shot through the windshield so there is some reflection.)

And something new this year: Canola plants. Very pretty. I approve.

Until next time, may you have blessings and joy in the beauty around you,

April 10, 2010

The Beastmobile Has Been Put Out to Pasture

Or put out to driveway. Whatever. I got a new (to me) car today, a Saturn VUE. It's only got 90K miles on it, and has a short wheel base so I can park it anywhere, and four doors and fold down back seats so I can take people and packages easily now. I can drive out of town without worrying about the transmission going out on me, hear the radio over the muffler, not have the glove box pop open when I hit a bump in the road, not have water dripping on passenger's feet, and blend in with other cars on the road. Yippee! Do I feel a road trip coming up? Why, yes I do!

April 08, 2010

If You Could Just Smell My Yard

This is my neighbor's wisteria. It's growing on the fence and it's heavenly scent is blowing across my yard.

Until next time, may you have blessings and perfumed air,

April 01, 2010

Met a Fifth Cousin Today

Several months ago, a woman contacted me through one of my memorials on Find A Grave. Turns out we are both the fourth great granddaughters of a common ancestor, but from different sons of his. She was planning a trip to Texas so we arranged to meet at a family cemetery where her third great grandfather and several of our other relatives are buried. I don't think her husband had planned to come to the cemetery as genealogy isn't really his thing, but he decided to come and Hubby decided to come too. Her mother and son were also there and I think they enjoyed exploring the cemetery and trying to read the names and dates on the old headstones. She is younger than me, pretty, with perfect teeth and hair, which is totally unfair because it proves my theory that all the good genes went to the rest of the family. But I liked her and her family anyway, even if they did hog the best genes.

Hubby brought some dowsing rods he made and found several unmarked graves. Her mom and husband were skeptical of the rods at first until they tried them, and now they both want a set. *chuckle* What, you've never heard of them? How about by the names witching rods? Divining rods? Doodlebugging? (Yes, that's a word, I didn't make it up, though I'm not past that.) People have used them for hundreds of years to find water, buried metals, oil, gravesites, and other buried objects. It's pretty cool, and pretty freaky. You should try it.

This cemetery is on land originally owned by our family when they came to Texas soon after the Civil War, and the current owners of the land are great. They welcome our visits and I suspect they are the ones who really take care of the cemetery even though there is an abandoned cemetery association in that county that mows it twice a year. It just happened that the cemetery association was there yesterday and today, probably mowing and weedeating, and they also cut some damaged tree limbs from that last storm. When I was last out there about five years ago, it needed a lot of work. Today it looked well-kept. Even though several headstones have broken over the years, it is nice to know that the headstones aren't going to be bull-dozed for "progress".

There's something special about going to the graves of my ancestors. When I stand next to their graves, I know that is one place my grandparents, great parents, and even great great grandparents once were. They stood on the same ground, breathing the same air, looking at the same headstones, and right then I feel very connected to them.

After Hubby and I got back to town, we stopped at his parent's home and there I noticed a bug crawling on Hubby's shirt. It was a tick! I got an instant case of the creepy crawlies and we came straight home. Snakes are scary, spiders are creepy, wasps hurt, and chiggars itch, but I'll take all of those over ticks. When we walked in the door, I grabbed a trash bag for our clothes and we stuffed them in the freezer and ourselves in the shower. After a tick check and a lot of scrubbing I felt a little better. But I'll feel better after another shower. I think.

Until next time, may you have blessings and connections to the past,