Thursday, April 3, 2014

Everyday treasure..

Soccer in Big Stacy park this evening, roaming packs of the neighborhood children pretend fighting with sticks, climbing trees, having intense conversations in little groups then running off to chase each other. My youngest found two backhoes parked for the night and clambered on them happily.

I hope he didn't change any important setting on all the knobs and controls. "Real" machines are so much more fun than toy machines. They have head sized drill bits and buckets as big as a table. And dirt and grease galore..

The kids have PE in the park, so it's familiar to them. I love the giant oak trees that provide shade (and amazing climbing nooks). At the end of the evening a large cadre of kids ran off to an oak that hung low and long, and all clambered up one after the other. A group of us mothers followed after a while and I heard my 8 year old son and a 10 year old neighbor girl hotly debating which character out of the Percy Jackson books they got to be. It was idyllic, until I noticed the mass of poison ivy at the base of the tree. Oh well- I took the boys home, threw their crocs in the wash and gave them a good bath. They were wearing pants, and really, they'll be fine. A good teaching moment (everyone crowded around saying 'oh, that's what that is!').

This is poison ivy (amid ubiquitous horseherb)

I think about evenings like tonight (kids, friends, park, relaxed play and joy) and I both take them for granted (focusing on bedtime, homework, other things to do) and get nostalgic for them even while they're happening. Like the time my eldest was going to spend the weekend at his grandparents' and I told him I missed him even before he was gone. I should probably work on mindfulness (and I will, I will), but am glad I got some pics of the light through the trees and the kids all together. 

No humidity or mosquitos yet.

And I found a mystery tree, blooms look like a peach but the fruit not quite.. almost walnut-ty. I'll keep an eye out to see what it turns out to be..

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Time Being

What do people blog for? I wondered that as I lay next to my four year old during his bedtime tonight. A much calmer night after yesterday when he screamed, protested, hit and fought with tiny ferocity until he finally calmed down and went to bed a limp noodle. It was the Netflix that got him wired, and we'd let him watch it because it gave us just a few minutes of quiet to sit in our own heads after busy days at work. We went back to our usual 'no screentime' before bed tonight and he was much less squirrelly (except for the habitual asking for kefir, then milk after laying down). I cuddled for a bit and let my mind wander as his breathing slowly calmed down.

Do people blog to teach things? I could look up all sorts of plant facts and quote them to try to be a source of Texas gardening advice.. but that's not really why I started this. I give (stuffy evidence-based) advice all day at work, and I'd rather use my musing time to appreciate beauty and absurdity, and capture the sensory happiness of gardening, kids and eating here. Or do they blog to catalogue, journalistically capture experience, document? That is awfully appealing, but then I look at my Goodreads book list and Flickr photo collections and feel that unless I can add my thoughts to the lists they are just dry random things. So is this indulgent? (and where does the confessional aspect of blogging become too-close-icky, or canned and artificial)? I dunno, will try to avoid those extremes.

For a while I was capturing happy moments in little notes on my IPhone (the high tech equivalent of a Mason jar full of scraps of paper, one a happy memory for each day of the year.. idea swiped from Pinterest). I like the haiku, Zen, 'all things are transient' aspect of the paper, but another part of likes the idea of collecting them in a wider angle format (like this blog), where I can mix media, throw in photos and get away from my voice sometimes.

Finished a book today (audiobook while driving)- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Two narrators, a journal, tsunami's, Pacific Northwest meets Japan with quantum physics and Shroedingers cat mixed in. It pulled me in enough to keep me driving to listen to more of it, and has a gorgeous cover (see below).. Like the teen protagonist I too spent summers with my grandmother with a scratchy voice and amazing stories, but instead of being an anarchist Zen nun (like in the story) mine was a Salvadoran/German Jewish business woman in San Salvador. Displacement was a big theme in the book and I could relate to the 'where did I get here where am I going' vertigo the characters went through. The teen character talks about 'supapowa's' and I stole the authors's enunciation while reading to the kids tonight- my youngest gravely corrected me that I should say it the 'normal' way : superpower. Eh, I like supapowa better..

I guess taking a moment to savor the book tonight is my equivalent of celebrating my (remaining) chicken flapping her wings and getting back to her pre-illness vigor and grit eating. Or noticing the red poppies blooming in the beds (no time for pics in the rush of dinner, homework and baths tonight). Or listening to my eldest's Spanish reading becoming more fluid by the day (by coincidence his current book is about Mi Jardin, fitting to include here). I look up at the book cover pic and yeah, it is a gorgeous cover, too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Peeking through..

My driveway is dotted with tiny poppies that are seizing the chance to bloom before the hot dry weather begins in earnest.

Their pampered kin (lucky to pop up in my flowerbeds) are massive but still have dormant flowers, heads nodding like they're asleep.

The volunteers have been the stars of this early spring. I welcome some (like the poppies, the sunflowers, the left over wildflower seeds I threw around carelessly in the fall). Others I recognize with a sigh and a question. If horseherb is so prevalent and hardy, should I just give in and grant it square footage? At least it is soft, unlike the greenbriar that it rearing its head in patches..

A cutleaf daisy that could care less about my gravel landscaping. It is massive and has survived many tramplings by my kids..

Bluebonnet in the dryest most desolate corner of the lot..

Huisache Daisy

Horseherb, well on it's way. I laugh when I see it for sale at nurseries it is so common in my yard. With some rain it makes a soft green carpet with cheerful yellow flowers, but it shrivels into dry black sandpaper when the drought hits hard.

Greenbriar. Should I create a garden sculpture and train it to grow just to spite it?

Wild onions that were also indifferent to being covered in 2 inches of crushed granite. I find them beautiful.

A different wild onion in the front yard

The coral honeysuckle is still blooming away, and the wisteria is covered in fat bumblebees.

Blooms spilling over

The hammock is a new favorite spot to swing in in the late afternoon. A perfect nap spot (or child reading nook).

My red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) up front has become wide and massive, but is stingy with blooms usually. It must have had a good winter because I noted at least one stalk pushing upwards today.

And finally the shady dry bed up front is waking up, with bright new green at the base of the perennials..

Mmm chile piquins!

Turks cap

Cedar Sage looking vigorous

Once my flashy (not local!) irises peter out these guys will have to step it up. 

Things are more overgrown in the front beds, with the purple lantana blooming everywhere but where it should, last fall's leaves laying uncleared and an unkempt mix of wild onions and husband-planted Home Depot plants sit half grown.

My cast iron plants are never lush, but have put up with my neglect for 8 years..

The Mexican petunias (Ruellias) have been wonderful, too.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bittersweet weekend (or nature shows her balance..)

My naive start at raising chickens has ended with the sweet older hen dying over the weekend. I found Red stiff and cold Saturday morning. The cold that Ruby tolerated was too much for her. It was sad and odd- human life and death issues are always so heavy and weighted, whereas this was simple and straightforward. When the boys asked why she died I just said "she got a cold and couldn't breathe" and they accepted it. Noah wanted to see the body so I showed it to him (already in a plastic bag, it seemed a good public health thing to not have a diseased chicken body lying around for scavengers). He stroked her and said he was sorry she died so sweetly, then ran off to play.

So I'm down to one chicken, and have to let Ruby get all better before I get any more. I'll admit to surfing the farm-garden section of CraigsList to figure out where I'll get the next ones- probably two pullets so Ruby can be the old lady of the bunch.

Here's a pic of Red in better days

Ruby seems ok. I want to imbue her with human emotions like loneliness, but I imagine it's a stretch. She's pecking and eating at weeds and grubs, which is just fine with me, and her congested eye is almost normal today..

Sunday was a fine day for tree climbing, with each child picking one right for their size..

The red oak was tiny when we moved in, and has grown beautifully.

I still have spurts of flowers rather than a mass explosion yet. The driveway poppies are blooming ahead of the larger ones in the beds..

So tiny but hardy..

Daffodil surrounded by volunteer poppies and sunflowers just waiting to bloom.