Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out of the Way

We all have our own ways to let others know when we need them to do something to satisfy us.

When I am wanting somebody else to do something not because they want to, but because I want them to? When I know they know this is mostly about me and not so much them, I will generally phrase it thusly: "Please clean up/move/take care of (fill in the blank) right now. It offends mine eye."

That King James Old Testament style speech is meant to send the accompanying message of "humor me - we both know I am asking you to do this for me...".

The Hub on the other hand, feels more a need to justify his request that we arrange some portion of our intersecting lives to satisfy his sense of what is salutary and right, so he will say "It is in my way".

This "in the wayness" applies to any clutter that is "not his". And honestly, clutter that "is his" is not considered clutter in his mind, so you get the drift of how the "in the way" designation is selectively applied.

And for better or worse, when things get to the point where the Hub is telling me that something or other of mine is "in his way", then I know it is time to do something about it. For him. Because I love him and he loves me and that is how it is supposed to work. We are not only about the life going on in between our own ears, sometimes we do things not for our selves, but for others.

So it was interesting to me recently the way the frozen gray and brown messiness of the tender plants here and there in our garden beds finally got to be too offensive to mine eye, so offensive they actually morphed into visually getting in my way.

I could not look out the windows without seeing flashes of morbidity everywhere I glanced. It looked to be a huge job and I typically avoid huge jobs like the plague. But enough was enough. Yesterday I took a deep breath, shrugged on a jacket and went out the door, clippers in hand.I spent 90 minutes working steadily and there is still a fair amount of work left to be done but over all, the results of much judicious pruning and removal have returned my exterior vistas to a more pleasing state. For winter.

How is your tolerance for wintry messiness? Are you lessez faire with regards to freeze nipped foliage? Are you motivated by plant health concerns or a sense of untidiness that must be addressed? I'm not looking for justification to leave the rest of the messiness outside untended to (really - I'm NOT). I am just curious as to what constitutes "the line" for you. What you can see and leave as opposed to what motivates you to get out and get it done? We're all friends here. Feel free to weigh in with your comments. I promise they won't be in the way.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hanging by a thread

I consider myself a fairly busy person this holiday season although I took every precaution I could to space out obligations in order to keep stress to a minimum.Regardless, the other morning I was feeling stretched a bit thin when I noticed....

My "Good Morning" spider, the one with the web in our kitchen window I watch routinely as I pour my coffee, was busily respinning her web.

This was not due to damage so far as I could tell, but a choice made after she'd moved previously trapped and web silk encased food sources from the perimeter of the old web to a spider sized contrived pantry she'd built over by one side of the windowsill.It struck me. Here I am, thinking of myself as "taking care" of a patch of earth, while all the usual occupants are busy taking care of themselves, with no real help (although occasional hindrance) offered from me. How very human of me to believe I was in charge.

I raised my cup in salute to this busy webby wonder, and felt a certain lightness as I realized how very little I am truly responsible for in the larger sense.

I am hopeful you will each experience your own version of lightness and wonder this holiday season, in whatever form it may take.

May peace and joy find you wherever you live.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Low Did You Go? (DialUppers Beware:Loads of Photos)

Considering the interweb is the "new fence" over which we all lean and compare notes, for those of you here in Central Texas, who along with me yesterday stood and shook your heads over some 40 to 60 minutes of intermittent snow flurries as you realized the worst to get through would be however many hours of bitter cold we faced last night, well now I'd like to know.

How cold did it get at your place last night?

Around 8AM it is already back up to 31 degrees but here in Rollingwood our low was 28 degrees according to our digital thermometer. Although it stores that information, it does not specify when that low occurred or how long it stayed below freezing here. However long that was, it was:Long enough for the bird bath out back to form a thin sheen of ice on top.Long enough the water in the rain barrels froze a little up top under the screening.Long enough for the redbud tree out front and the hackberry tree out back to be losing their leaves, a few at a time, simply dropping them in a neat circle round their trunks.Long enough to frost the grass.Long enough to rime the uncovered kale babies and mint.Long enough for some typical suspects to die outright, like the poke plants. The collards, along with other broad leafed plants may lose a few leaves, but typically they don't die outright. Typically it doesn't freeze hard this early either so......

All that remains now is to wait until the temperatures are safely above freezing to pull the improvised coverings off the various beds and survey potential damage. Some may not turn up for a day or so, but hopefully, most of the covered plants have survived to thrive in the more typical above freezing winter weather here. Fingers crossed.....

Friday, December 4, 2009


It took until nearly 1 PM and nothing is sticking (thank goodness!) but they did get it right....today, in Austin Texas, it is S N O W I N G....

Share a thought for all the teachers in this area trying to get anything close to what was on their lesson plans accomplished now.

Naturally, I now have an errand to run to help ChefSon pick his car up from the dealer after repairs which means I have to drive in this rather than getting to brew up hot chocolate and enjoy the view out the window. Still, it is the elementary school teachers I feel for in all this. Good luck everybody!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Will it...or Won't it?

Gorgeous skies out this morning. The clouds moving East as briefly backlit in spectacular fashion by the rising sun reminded me of this old saw, which was a favorite of my father's...

Red sky in morning, sailor take warning.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Supposedly this predictive capacity of the sunrise and sunset skies is based upon the idea that a red sky results from the sun shining through clouds filled with dust and/or water, and if such clouds are to the West of a viewer that indicates a dust filled sky with newly stabilized air after a front has already passed through (most fronts moving from west to east riding the Westerlies according to this theory), while a red sky in the morning indicates either dust, or with a "fiery red" situation, moisture laden clouds with unsettled weather yet to move through the area.

So what's up with the red skies in Austin this morning? Maybe your life is not filled with weather geeks the way mine is, but whether or not you've been paying attention, buzz has it in meteorological circles that Austin is due for a hard freeze and potentially the first snow of the season, Friday, December 4th.

That's Austin, Texas, not Austin, Minnesota.I usually don't take such talk very seriously but was given pause when I heard they had thundersnow in San Diego a few days ago.

All of which highlights the need to understand we are not simply dealing with warmer temperatures alone so much as we are experiencing a more widespread climate disruption. I mean, snow in Central Texas before Christmas? Look in the dictionary under "disruption" and a copy of this week's weather forecast could be the illustration for the definition.

And I wouldn't care at all except for what a hard freeze could do to folks trying to earn a living growing food around these parts. Growers on a larger than back yard scale may not be able to arrange row covers for entire fields. Bad weather plus a recession can equal no profit for struggling farmers.

Not to mention what this might mean for trees already heat and drought stressed. Good news is the colder temperatures might put a damper on the nasty insect populations, but that will depend on the length of time spent below 32 degrees, of course, and unfortunately, the freeze doesn't differentiate between "beneficial" and "mosquito".

We have a new greenhouse here thanks to Hub's efforts but it seems not to provide any insulation other than protection from winds. The temperatures inside the plastic sheeting are currently running even with the temperatures outside.We will have to provide a heat source if we want this structure to do more than isolate certain plants. Which is almost as frustrating as the random early freeze predicted.

Gardening, especially with an eye to providing edibles, is certainly not for the faint of heart.

So.... What do you think about the snow in Austin in early December buzz? Typical, drum up advertising dollar weather forecast hooraw or might this be a serious freeze threat for our area?

And, how do you cope with the random hard freezes we have in this area? Do you duck? Let nature self select what will survive?

Cover? Throw protective layers over the tender stuff and hope it holds the temperatures higher?

Haul everything inside? Do you have room in your spaces for planters that ordinarily live out of doors? And if you do pull things in - do you leave them in for the winter or take them in and out depending on the forecast?

We do what I have come to think of as the WinterTime HodgePodge around here. Some plants will fall by the wayside if it gets too cold, others will get wrapped up a bit with fingers crossed, still others will do the in/out dance from the garage while a couple will start their wintering over inside the house stints.

At least the rains stopped for a bit so we can get things in without getting soaked for our troubles. Ah....winter......

About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.