Category: Uncategorized

Hope springs eternal.

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We have had a TON of rain over the last week or so, making my new herbs and vegetables quite happy.

(I’ve been checking my toes, daily, to make sure they are not webbing!)

Apparently, our part of Texas is predicted to have an unusually wet April and May.

Not a bad thing, as we are still recovering from a drought.

(I’ll try to remember, fondly, the rain, come June, July and August…)

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As you can see, above, the rain has compacted the dirt and allowed the, uh, numerous rocks to be revealed.

(We used some extra dirt we had out at the ranch (apparently rocky dirt), but made sure to amend it with plenty of mushroom compost.)

The plants don’t seem bothered by the little rocks, so I guess I’ll quit worrying about it.

(It’s just not as pretty as clean dirt.)

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Above: purple pole beans–can’t remember their name!–watermelon (or cantaloupe, maybe), and bush beans.

(If I find that I have super, great success with any particular veggie, I’ll be sure to list the names and varieties in a later post.)

Both vegetables and herbs appear to be sprouting and growing well.

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Oh, goodness, you have no idea how happy that makes my heart.

I am always so hopeful and excited at this stage of the game.

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Over in the large garden plot, the corn and Kentucky Wonder pole beans are also beginning to stretch upward.

(I used the little orange flags to help me keep track of where I planted seeds–they’re a cheap and convenient way to warn me not to walk on the baby seeds and seedlings.)

I have watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, and some tomato plants in this big garden plot.

Oh, and if my watermelons produce as I hope they will, I will be able to provide the world with watermelons all summer long!

(I may have overdone it with the watermelons…once they start growing and spreading, I’ll take pictures…I’m scared they may take over our backyard and pasture…)

(We’ll be in trouble if the cows and Abner, our donkey, eat watermelons!)

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Marigolds are supposed to be excellent companion plants for all veggies.

They’re heat tolerant, once established, which we need here in Texas.

Plus, they add color and attract pollinators.

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Who knew having a garden could bring such joy?

New beginnings.

Such potential.

Renewed hope.

It’s not too late to plant a few seeds in some dirt, y’all!

I promise you, you will not regret it.

Happy gardening!
E.

 

 

 

 

Hammock-ing.

This is not an unusual scene in my backyard:

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You might get the idea that we are big campers.

Not that we aren’t, but we aren’t.

(I can’t tell you the last time we went camping, which is actually sort of sad.)

We aren’t opposed to camping, it just hasn’t happened recently. Life is busy, y’all.

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If you have teenagers, especially teenagers who have older siblings who go to college or teenagers who have attended summer camps where college students work, you may look out your back door and see the very same thing.

(Actually, if you have college students, you are more likely to see this around their college campus. I see hammocks, occasionally, on the Baylor campus, and I know it’s happening on college campuses all over the nation.)

(I would have LOVED to have a hammock, at college, to lie in while studying!)

(That statement assumes I actually studied.)

(Admittedly, I DID have a hammock in my apartment bedroom during my Junior year at Baylor. It was just for looks, though; it held my stuffed animals and Beenie Babies.)

(Remember Beenie Babies?!)

The hammock is called an Eno, short for Eagles Nest Outfitters. They are fantastically light-weight, small and quite comfy. Both of our sons love theirs.

Obviously, our youngest loves his enough to use his around the house, during non-camping days and weeks.

Sometimes, it’s even strung up directly on the back porch…so he can see the tv.

(I wish I had a picture of it; pure laziness and comfort at its best.)

iPhone pic of our son and a couple of his good friends, last Spring:

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The kids are even prone to stacking the hammocks, so they hang directly above and below each other!

My youngest and I recently had a conversation concerning Prom: he said he thinks it would be WAY more fun for his group of friends to get all dressed up, take pictures, go eat at a fancy restaurant, then, instead of going to the actual Prom, they should come back to our house, change clothes, go build a fire down by the river and spend the night in Enos.

(with adult chaperones, of course!) 

Enos and S’mores! How fun is that?!

Doesn’t his “non-Prom” idea sound fantastic?!

So, if you are in need of an unusual and uber cool gift for your teenaged (or college-aged) son or daughter (yes, many of our sons’ girl friends own and love them!), you might look into getting them a hammock.

(I’m all for a gift that moves them outside and up into the trees!)

Happy Hammock-ing, y’all!

E.

Texas! The Musical

(This post was written TWO summers ago and for some odd reason I never posted it.  What’s good about me posting this now is, you have time to make some summer plans! So…here you go, y’all!)

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Ha! Bless the sweet Greeter’s heart, he tried a couple times and just could not get the family in focus!

Oh well.

(I guess that could be said of us on many levels…)

No matter, our main focus, during a recent vacation, was a side trip to the Texas Panhandle to see Texas! The Outdoor Musical!

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Our oldest son had to finish up his summer baseball season, so he was unable to join us on the first leg of our vacation, so ThrillCam and I loaded up our youngest and started the drive toward Montana, with an intentional stop in Amarillo. We told our youngest that if he really wants to consider himself a true Texan, then he needed to see Texas!

Texas! Outdoor Musical, is performed, every summer, in the beautiful Pioneer Amphitheater, nestled in the basin of the Palo Duro Canyon (which is amazing  and entertaining, all by itself).

Sidenote: Palo Duro Canyon suddenly appears out of nowhere and drops down into the earth, revealing beautiful reds, browns and greens. (see above picture) Did you know, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States?

(We’d love to go back and spend time there hiking and camping for a few days.)

We planned out our whole route, with a couple stops along the way, obviously, including an extra night just to see the musical.

(As we left town, we stopped here: another Texas must!)

The musical is about…you guessed it…Texas. It’s a little bit of history and a whole lot of entertainment.

Yes, the show is sort of cheesy at times.

Yes, it’s even occasionally corny.

(Would that be cheesy-corny?)

But, by golly, you learn a little Texas history while being entertained.

(And who doesn’t want to learn more about Texas?!)

And, because we drove straight there, we opted to eat dinner, on the grounds, before seeing the show. (Your ticket can include dinner, if you’d like. Click on the first link above and you can see the ticket prices. The earlier you make your plans, the better!)

 

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I’m not going to lie and say it was the best BBQ in town, but it certainly wasn’t awful!

While waiting to be seated, we milled around outside the amphitheater where we noticed a huge map of the world. Folks could purchase a pin and show where they traveled from to see the show. There were numerous people from almost every country of the world. (Shown are the pins from just around the Waco area.)

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The stage is set, literally, in the cliffs of Palo Duro Canyon. As the sun sets, the special effects become a little more impressive and way fun for the kids.

(I may not remember any of the songs and dances, but I can still remember, as a young kid, seeing the Lone Horseman atop the cliff.)

(Oh! And, the lightning strike!)

(You just have to go to know what I’m talking about!)

No cameras are allowed during the show (that means phone cameras, y’all!), so I don’t have pictures of the set or the actors/dancers, but I can tell you, the colorful costumes are wonderful, the characters are sweet and funny, and the songs will make you tap your toes. It’s, honestly, not a bad way to spend a few hours.

TIP: When selecting tickets, don’t sit at the VERY front. Choose more toward the center middle to center upper-middle, so you can see the stage and cliffs fully. The place will fill up, so order tickets early for best seating choices.)

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Honestly, if you plan to visit the Texas panhandle (or just visit the state), this is a fun event for the whole family! There’s singing, dancing, decent BBQ, a few variety acts before the actual show. Of course, all of this while you sit under the great and vast Texas sky.

(“The stars at night…Are big and bright!”)

(clap, clap, clap)

(“Deep in the Heart of Texas!”)

If you’re a native Texan like me (6th generation, y’all!), I’ll tell you, like I told my son, you can’t truly call yourself a Texan until you’ve seen this show.

E.

Life with Abner.

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I’m not sure Abner would say the same about me, but I sure like him a lot!

He’s still not terribly keen on just being petted or brushed.  He tolerates being hand-fed.

Getting a handful of oats, or the occasional range cube or two, is worth tolerating us humans.

Honestly?

I liken him to a cat.

No, really.

Abner acts all lovey and sweetness and light while you have food in your hand, but the second it’s gone, so is he.

I still love him.

(“Just what I’ve always wanted! My very own [donkey]! I will name him [Abner]. And, I will hug him and pet him and squeeeeze him. I will pat him and pet him…” )

(Oh, Looney Toons, where would we be without you?)

And, while he may not be that sweet on us, he’s good with the cows.

In fact, it’s fascinating to watch him interacting with the girls.

He will occasionally put his ears back and aggravate them, but the majority of the time, he is always near them, watching out for them.

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For example, if Freddie (our girl calf) wanders off from the two mamas, Abner makes sure she never gets too far away. If he feels she has, he gently encourages her to return to Lucy and Ethel.

(Just to clarify: Freddie does not have two mamas. She has one, Ethel. Lucy, sadly, had to watch her bull calf be taken away to another pasture of cows. So, maybe I should refer to them as Freddie’s mama and auntie?)

(But, that takes too long to explain.)

We were told and had read that donkeys are great watch dogs for cows and horses…I’m assuming any herd of domesticated animals??

Even though I grew up on a cattle ranch, I was not involved with the daily workings, so all of this is very new to me/us.

The hard work, the quiet, the cleaner air, the cows, the donkey(s)–we actually have two!–the slower pace…all make for a wonderful new season of life for us.

While living in the city for 20-plus years, I’m not sure I ever, once, stopped the car to look at cows grazing, or much less, watched a donkey interacting with them!

(Granted, I had to drive OUT of the city to find them. And, who has time for that??)

Did I ever really stop to look up into the starry sky?

…Would I have even seen the stars?

Did I ever sit on my back porch, waiting and watching for Purple Martins? Hoping to see a couple of Bluebirds while I was there?

Did I ever really hear the buzz of a Hummingbird’s wings?

How was I so conditioned to stare at a wooden fence around my yard and think it was pretty? (It was all I had, back then.)

Now, though.

Only now, do I understand my daddy sitting on the back porch, just staring out at the open pasture behind the house.

Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade my many years in the city. I love the city and all its offerings of convenience, constant movement, activities galore, good, good food.

But, my heart just seems to be more at peace, less restricted, where there are fewer cars, less concrete, less busyness…

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and a donkey.

E.

Bringin’ Down da House.

This is the house my parents built.

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It’s where I grew up.

The above picture was taken in the early 70’s, before any landscaping, or tanks (ponds), or fences, etc.

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This one, above, was taken in the 80’s, back when we had a white van that was perfect for driving lots of family members to away Baylor football games.

Do you see all the cracks on the outer surface of the stucco? Shifting ground and a poor foundation made for many cracks and repairs over the years…something my parents never were able to properly remedy.

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Many wonderful memories are held in the walls of that house. It was my home from 2nd grade through high school.

It was where I brought my boys to see their grandparents, to breathe clean air and run with abandonment…to view a lot less concrete.

Fast forward past many years of shifting ground, lots of foundation repairs, and the deaths of both of my parents and what you get is a house that should no longer be standing.

Believe me when I say, it needed to come down.

So, this past Fall, my sister, husband and I had been working, feverishly, for 4-6 weeks, cleaning out 50-plus years of memories, of stuff.

Oh, the stuff.

Example:

My childhood bedroom had not changed in decades! Cheerleader uniforms, camp t-shirts, dried Homecoming mums, scrapbooks, music theory medals, old love letters, college notebooks and projects…all still in my bedroom…all in exactly the same place I had put them, so many years ago. I could walk into that room and be instantly thrown back in time…1970…1982…1989….Hours could pass as I reminisced, sorting through the wonderful memories.

Now, my stuff, along with all of my parents’ stuff and all of my sister’s stuff had to find a new home, whether that meant my house, my sister’s house, the dump, or Caritas (a local donation and distribution center).

(We tried to donate as much as we could, but some things just weren’t good enough to pass off as “gently used.”)

(People who are in need of your used stuff deserve good used stuff, not crappy used stuff, in my opinion.)

By the time we were done purging, we were utterly sick of the house.

We were worn out…emotionally and physically.

We had been making important decisions about where things should go, daily, for weeks on end, and our brains and bodies were exhausted.

So, as the day approached for the demolition to begin, we rejoiced. It was time, by golly!

Good riddance, old, dirty, falling apart house!

Then.

The day arrived.

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It was a nice, cool morning. The sun was shining. I had my camera. Our friends brought kolaches and fried pies.

It was a house demolition PAR-TAY!

My sister and I even posed in front of the house for a picture to commemorate the day. We were smiling and laughing.

Just as the excavator revved its engine, my sister and I moved away from the house and took our appointed positions to get the best videos and photographs.

We were ready.

Surprisingly, though, for me, the first swing and crunch of the claw into the stucco, wood and glass was like a punch in the stomach.

I was not as prepared for this as I thought.

In less than five minutes, my parents’ bedroom was gone from the house.

Gone.

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Surreal is a good word.

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While I know a house does not make a home and a building is only temporary, watching it being destroyed so seemingly carelessly, no, violently! was upsetting.

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I wonder if this is how someone feels when they lose their house to a fire or a hurricane?

Even though we got all our stuff out of the house, it still hurt to watch it disappear before our eyes.

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Isn’t that crazy? There was a whole house there!

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And, the left-over pile consisted of small, relatively tiny parts when it was all said and done.

Eventually, the bulldozer, and skid-steer, began the process of removing the rubble.

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So fast…

It’s amazing to think that something that took months to design and build, years to make and hold memories, took mere minutes to destroy.

 

(There’s a life lesson in that, y’all…how precious the things and people we spend time building up, can so quickly and easily be torn down…and it doesn’t take a bulldozer…just an untamed tongue wielding words and anger…)

 

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Now, the space is cleared and wide open.

Empty.

As if nothing was ever there.

Again, surreal.

Yet, there was something there.

It was a home.

A home full of love, dysfunction, dinners around the table, arguments, important decision making, tears, laughter.

…imperfect people who called themselves family trying as hard as they could to do the very best they could.

…and many good, good memories.

Goodbye big house, with the red roof, on the hill.

You were well loved.

E.

 

 

 

Spring 2015 Gardening

This Spring, I decided to go a different route and try my hand at raised beds.

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My sweet, handyman of a husband built these awesome beds and I am already loving them!

I like the rustic look of these beds…rusty tin recycled from the ranch, and rough-hewn cedar lumber.  

I’m hoping, by having smaller, raised beds, I’ll have larger output of vegetables.

(Fingers crossed.)

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The plan is to use these beds for herbs and more compact vegetable plants, while using the original garden plot for corn, beans, squash and watermelons.

You know, the plants that like to wonder and spread out.

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Okay…I do plan to put a couple green and purple pole beans in these boxes to climb on the trellis.

I love having a pretty trellis in the garden, even in raised beds.

(See our sweet pet cows and donkey?!)

(Have I told you ThrillCam doesn’t really like it when I call them our pets?)

I’m sort of bummed I didn’t ask ThrillCam to take some “how-to” pictures for me.

Pictures would have shown how he put a floor about 18′ down, in each box, so we didn’t have to fill the entire box with dirt and compost.

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And, believe you-me, we shoveled in plenty of dirt and compost!

I can’t imagine having to completely fill each box.

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(Okay…HE shoveled the majority of the dirt…”and I helped!”)

(A little.)

(I really did shovel some! I have the very sore shoulders to prove it!!)

Fine.

(Does it count that I’m the one who will tend to the garden, though?)

 

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Actually, I think we make for a good team!

I’ll be sure to give updates on what veggies and herbs I’ve planted and how they do.

Happy Spring, y’all!

E.

 

 

 

Bird Dilemma…

Every year, about this time, my husband diligently cleans off and puts up his Martin House.

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He has a love affair with these birds, and it started back when his grandparents had their Martin house.

Over our 25 years of marriage, occasionally, ThrillCam would recall his fond memories of his grandparents’ Martin house.

Somehow I actually remembered this, and a few years back, the boys and I gave him his very own Martin house.

He’s been dedicated to those little migratory birds ever since.

Every year, it seems we both equally get caught up in waiting for and watching, protecting and being entertained by the daredevil Purple Martins.

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Needless to say, this year is no different.

ThrillCam cleaned and even re-positioned the Martin house, in anticipation for the arrival of the birds. His theory was, if we move the Martin house a little closer to our house, maybe the Sparrows won’t try to move in and take over.

So far, the Sparrows have stayed away.

But, not because he moved the house.

In fact, we have a way bigger dilemma than those house-squater-Sparrows.

You see, the very day the martin house went up, in moved two beautiful Bluebirds!

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You can see the pretty female, above.

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In this picture, you can see the male, below the female.

(My photograph does nothing to show you his brilliant electric blue color.)

As you can image, we have fallen in love with these two and we want them to stay!

What’s funny is, the Bluebirds have protected the house from the Sparrows, who always give the Purple Martins a hard time about nesting in there.

By allowing the Bluebirds to stay, the Sparrows are kept out!

That’s a good thing!

Getting to watch the Bluebirds up close and personal is also a treat for us.

But…we also enjoy watching the Martins, when they arrive each year. Besides, they depend on humans for their homes…Bluebirds do not.

But, by golly, those Bluebirds sure are pretty! And I don’t think I’ve ever been close enough to truly observe Bluebirds for any extended period of time.

Can see our problem, y’all?

Will it be Bluebirds?

Will it be Purple Martins?

Or, will the Sparrows push their way in and mess everything up?

Oh, the drama!!

Stay tuned, y’all.

E.