These aren’t those.

I traveled to Houston this week on business and the wild flowers called to me. They wanted to speak to y’all. They wanted to share their view of the world with each of you. I hadn’t packed my camera, nor did I schedule a spare moment to pull over to the side of the road. Boy, doesn’t that say something.

I didn’t schedule a single moment to spare.

As a result, I have blurry pictures taken through a dirty car window speeding by on a windy day. So…low resolution splotches and splashes of color. So instead, I will merely share their names with you, and within such names a link to images from others. Other people who thought to pack cameras. Other people who allowed buffer in their day. Who took the time to take pause. I hope I’ve learned my lesson. I fear I will be relearning it time and time again, the hard way, in the weeks and years to come. I won’t say that I didn’t try though. I have and I will continue to try.

Bluebonnets, that for nearly a decade I would accidentally call blue bells, carpet the roadsides. Other roadsides prefer a warmer shade of blossom in the form of Indian Paintbrush. Not to be confused with Downy Paintbrush. Then there are the Winecups and the Moss Verbena adding some purple to the scene. We can’t neglect the yellow of the Engelmann’s Daisy, the Texas Star, or the countless other yellows soon to pop. Or the white of the blackfoot daisy or the wrinkly poppy that are coming soon. The summers here may turn brown and dry and drab, but the springs contend with the best of the springs out there.

I did have my camera this morning though and there are things up and about on home turf. Stretching their arms to the sky in a morning yawn. Wriggling their toes deeper into the soil with the help of the sprinkler. Working on their tan in the sunbeams or flexing their muscles in the wind, the growth has started to outpace the pill bug population…or so I hope.

Elian the Avocado is working on his next few inches.
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An accidentally acquired navel orange is giving it a go in hopes of a bee or two.
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These leeks have an rather cumbersome bedfellow…
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The Peas That Nearly Weren’t are in need of a stick to climb.
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And it’s past time to mow thanks to the timing of the rain lately and the alignment of naps and daylight.
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Thankfully, the baby monitor that I left to fend for itself in the flood waters from the sky has miraculously recovered so I am once again free to roam about once or twice a day on weekends. Or as I say, “I’m going to go play outside now.”

Equinox and then some.

There’s also a super moon and a solar eclipse today. Busy day in the universe!
It’s been a rough day in the household today with life’s little hiccups all piling on heavy this week and culminating this morning. Nothing catastrophic. Nothing tragic. Just the wearing building and building too long.
It’s cloudy here with a light mist, so likely no eclipse or super moon for me. If you spot either, please do share.

I planted some of the tomato transplants last night with a baby in my lap. She was mesmerized. We helped DH reattach the fence to a reset fence post between plantings. I’ve sown carrots and beets that haven’t come up, and my peas are fighting the good fight against the snails though I’m not sure they’ll come out victorious. Chadwick’s lettuce is proving to be as reliable and sturdy as his cherry tomatoes, as they are the only seeds to sprout so far. And the teeny strawberry sprouts have the most charming little real leaves now.

Now if only the internet could transport scent, we’d be set.
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Thanks to Tina, I believe that I’ve learned this lady’s name: Martha Gonzalez.

A new mystery.

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I like to know what’s growing around me. I tend to only pull things out after I know what they are. At my last house I learned about henbit and horse herb. Here I’m learning about wild onions, prairie crocus, and…whatever this is.

Any ideas?

Plum blossoms

A few years back now, I gave DH a four-way grafted plum tree as a celebratory gift. June, is her name. Two years ago, she gave us a single branch of the most delectably delicious fruit we’d ever dreamed of. Previously, I was not a fan of plums. As with most things, if we grow it ourselves, we gain a new appreciation for all that it is.

Last year, for reasons undecided, we were not gifted with any fruit. She didn’t bloom much, but the blossoms she did offer were enjoyed by the bees. There wasn’t a late freeze…or was there? I can’t recall. Needless to say, we had no plums.

The branch that gave us the fruit two years ago bloomed one little blossom on Monday. Tuesday, there were a few more…
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And this afternoon, well, let’s just say June has been busier than the bees have so far this year.
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But wait. What’s this? A second variety is joining the flower fest for the first time.DSC_0057

And the other two branches have buds waiting their own floral debut.

This winter was not any colder than past winters, or wetter, but it definitely had more cold days (or chill hours, as they call them in Tree Speak.) I can’t help but think that the other varieties require slightly more chill hours than the first, thus the petals pushing their way forth. I can barely let myself hope (and yet can hardly wait) for those same fruits again this year. And perhaps for three more varieties to try (and fall in love with) to boot!

It’s time to start hardening off the tomatoes, and nearly time to plant them out. I haven’t made their bed yet though…want to see how one hauls a half yard of compost when you sold the pick-up to purchase a family car? But of course you do!
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It doesn’t cost anymore than buying it in one bulldozer drop into the back of the truck. It does, however, require a good bit of shoveling, lifting, and heaving. I was just talking about how I didn’t have time to both garden and go to the gym…

As luck would have it…

Saturday I could hardly believe my luck. Again? Weather and kiddo and energy and cough? Glorious. I’m not sure I’ve ever more enjoyed pulling thistle (and henbit and dandelion.)
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Besides, it gave me the good fortune to witness the opening of these…wild crocuses? I do have some Prairie Crocus here and there, but the centers of these little wildlings look different (more like a cone), as do the leaves. Any ideas?
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I also managed to sneak in some seed sowing (even if I had to keep my phone on me for a little work wrangling.)
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In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve never been one to invest in actual labels. I’m not sure why. Instead, I tend toward taking pictures of what went where and the metadata of the photo captures the day and time for me automatically. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to labels soon enough. (I did receive some lovely ones as a gift this year, so it really is only about actually using them at this point…brains are silly things.)

And just as I was about to sow something on the heads of where I’d planted the potatoes because they were obviously not doing anything themselves…
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I took a closer look.
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Now if only the peas I planted in their midst would sprout…

The “getting to know you” period.

Tomorrow will mark nine months in our new home. I thought it may be time to introduce myself to the soil. Yes, really, it has taken this long. But by “I thought it may be time” what I really meant was that work, the weather, the kiddo, my Daycare Immune System Marathon, and my energy levels all conspired to give me a gift – opportunity.

So Friday afternoon, amidst sunshine and high 50s, I took the shovel, the dog, and the wheelbarrow into the front yard. The Great Grass Removal was underway. The soil here seems lovely. Dark, rich, and crumbly. When I first got to know the soil at our last house, in 100 square feet of triple dug (go big or go home?) earth, I found precisely two earth worms amidst soil that refused to release the roots within it. Here I find fat happy worms two to the shovelful and the soil goes with the flow, shaking off into the air with the bang of each grass clump against the shovel. Forget a front heat bed repeat, I could plant tomatoes right alongside the curb! (And just might, seeing as I have thirty of them…)

The first wheelbarrow was nearly full, my ankle was reminding me that this was my first real shovel work since its last injury, and then the dog perked up his head and started sauntering down the walk. I looked up and saw he was shyly wagging his way to meet the neighbor two houses down, so I followed. Our dog minds well on good days, minds with mediocrity on some days, and gets a mind of his own on occasion. He’s eighty-five pounds of strong sweetheart but has his triggers after he was attached two years ago, so we never lack for caution. An hour later, he and I both felt as though we had made a new friend and the sun was slipping. It was going to drop into the 20s again soon, so I cleaned up, packed up, and we went went back inside to check on my little tomatoes, now in their 4″ pots of garden soil, seed starter, and coir.
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There’s an ice day today.

Schools are closed all day. Some businesses and government offices are as well. Last year there was a day where nothing closed, the ice storm did actually start right during morning rush hour, and there were hundreds of accidents. So now the city is laughably gun shy. Looks pretty slippery out there to me. What do you think?

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I mean, it did get chilly. Down into the 20s even. Our windows aren’t the best, so I thought these delicate little folks should take a break from the kitchen windowsill and make their way to the island for the night.
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I’d like to thank the academy…

I missed the Oscars this year. I’m not the biggest fan. I have never attended a party for the Oscars like folks do on occasion. But I do enjoy the inventive dresses and the sincerity of gratitude in speeches. I like watching folks have fun and it generally appears as though they do. That, and not watching commercials leaves me rather out of touch with any movies that have come out in the past however long and they show nice clips of each film. It’s like a fashionable comedy show full of trailers and gratitude.

But I missed it this year. Only the backstage cameras were streaming online for free. We have had cable television twice before. For three weeks back in 2006 wherein we watched one movie and cancelled the subscription, and for six months twelve years ago when it was included in our rent payment and we couldn’t afford any other form of entertainment most of the time. We had an antenna for a few years, but the roof on this house is so very high and well, #becausebabies.

I’m rambling.

I won an award. The friendly and thoughtful NovaScotiaRoots awarded me a prize. As a result, I am honored and am to answer ten questions:

1) Favorite flower
Pride of Barbados became my favorite flower in August of 2003 behind a Taco Bell in Phoenix, Arizona during a gasoline shortage. I was fortunate enough to have my camera handy and mindful enough to use it that day to capture this photo.
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I didn’t learn its name for eight years.
It’s become quite popular in the past four years and can be found in many landscapes around Central Texas these days.

2) Favorite veggie
Oh, man. Really? Ummm…that’s hard. To eat? I don’t know that I can choose. To grow? Also…eesh. I like them all! Let’s pretend I chose one and move along.

3) Favorite garden picture (insert it if you can)
This isn’t my garden, or even a garden really at all, but each May in parcels of the valley around where I spent my teenage years there are fields of red clover to take the breath away and replace it with an awe of the magic in the world.

Red Clover near my folks’ house

4) Favorite season
Summer in the Pacific Northwest. The fields are brown, the trees are green, the air is hot and dry all day and crisp and cool all night. The streams gush with melted snow and the music is always perfect for the windows down on back roads.

5) Biggest defeat in your garden
Growing non-veggies from seed. Herbs and flowers have a much steeper learning curve and I’ve yet to take the time to study. Thanks to a the lovely and talented author of Palm Rae Urban Potager I have a new toy book to play with read all about such matters.
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6) Biggest challenge in your garden
Climate. But that is probably pretty common, no matter the climate. I suppose unless it’s soil. It gets hotter than hot here, for longer than long. “Full sun” means “morning sun” here and with the heat comes the need for water through a constant drought. Hot peppers need shade cloth before July is over simply to stay alive. They won’t produce again until September usually if I can keep them alive through the summer months.

7) Your next big project
I’m six months into my first big project at the new house. Time moves differently with a little one and what I previously would’ve been able to accomplish in two weekends will take the better part of a year, I think. The project? Building the vegetable garden.

8) Your gardening partner you are most grateful for
For all of the tough questions, this one is a no-brainer. My DH is the best gardening partner I could ask for. He’s full of great ideas, solid instincts, and is no stranger to hard work. He was the main caretaker for the garden all last year spring when I was pregnant, arranged a weekend of garden building for my birthday this year, and helps me remember to keep the sprouts alive these dark winter days. Yesterday was our twelfth anniversary. He rarely gets me red roses (not to say he rarely gets me flowers, for that would be an untruth.) But sometimes, and he knows just when, they really hit the spot.
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9) Your favourite quote
As a bit of a quote-a-holic, this is also a tough question! I have a few that I keep handy to remind me of what I find important. I’ll share some of those:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
― Walt Whitman

Ok, I must stop here, because if I don’t, I’ll be posting quote after quote as though I were planting them to thin later.

10) What are you grateful for?
It’s interesting you ask this. I’ve recently taken on a personal challenge to be consciously grateful (and somehow put that gratitude forth) every day. I’m grateful for the health and happiness that there is in the world, and the patience, hope, and healing where there isn’t health or happiness. I’m grateful for blue skies when they come and rain that is deep and short. For earth to dig in and songs to sing. For my memories and my future, my family and my friends, and all of the wondrous creatures that make up this beautifully weird world we live on.