"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It's About Fun

Ronnie introduces the pigeons and chickens to Seth.

August 6  marked the fourth anniversary of my husband's passing. In some ways it feels like it's been a long four years, and in others if feels like he was here yesterday. The night Ronnie was given the diagnosis and prognosis, we lay together in his hospital bed. He told me, "Don't spend a lot of time being sad about this.  You still have a lot of life to live. Go have fun."

Shortly before Ronnie look his last earthly breath, a friend of ours, Peter Nillson, posted a link to Abba's song, "Move On." You can watch it here.

This song literally saved my sanity. The images the video maker, sssmacdann, used are as moving and as jubilant as the words to the song. The two together spoke to me in ways that I have never experienced before.

Images from "Move On".

Life is, indeed, motion -- forward.  It is, in fact, the only way to go. I will forever be grateful to sssmacdann, whoever you are, for making the video and to Peter for introducing it to me.

I've never been much of a party person. I don't have much rhythm, but I love many different kinds of music and I love to watch people dance. My kids  don't say it, but they think I'm boring and that I don't know how to have fun. Our interests are not the same, to say the least. Lol

"Fun" means different things to different people. To me, fun is being with people I enjoy, having heart to heart conversations about life and love, getting to know one another and myself better, growing to appreciate each other more, sharing memories of family, comparing experiences and discussing our different beliefs.  I have lots of friends who make me laugh. That's always fun.  I have wonderful  group of writers I see once a month.


Fun, to me, is also sitting on the patio, just me and Shelbie Pie, listening to music, running my fingers through her coat that's always as soft as cotton.  

Pink and lavender sky
It's sitting out in the yard and watching the motion of my beloved pecan trees in the wind.  It's listening to the soft cooing of the pigeons as they settle in for the night.  It's the drone of the crickets and locusts and the night birds. It's watching the sun come up over the trees casting pink and lavender colors on the clouds against a clear blue sky, listening to the morning birds.

It's watching the approach of storm clouds and anticipating rain!

It's watching a good movie without interruption, or watching a good movie with friends.

It's seeing my critters move about the yard. It's hearing that distinctive "peep" come from under my hen that tells me her eggs have hatched.  It's getting a glimpse of one of her baby chicks sitting on her back, just like in pictures. It's finding a new cantaloupe in my garden and then a watermelon. It's watching them get bigger.

Fun, for me, is when my five year old grandson hollers "I highly approve of you!" as we turn in for the night. It's seeing his Legos creations and hearing the stories he makes up when he puts SpongeBob's head on Marge Simpson's body -- and knowing I can encourage his imagination by paying attention, showing interest, asking questions -- even when the story doesn't make sense. 

Abraham says life is supposed to be fun. I believe that.  I also believe we each define "fun" for ourselves. Some of us look for it, some of us don't. 

My mother told me once, "You owe it to yourself and your creator to enjoy as much of this life as possible, so look for something to enjoy about everything you have to do."

Good advice. So was Ronnie's. Both pieces turned out to be a life changers for me.  I am having fun.

One of two cantaloupes -- so far.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mobile Kodgers

Open road on a rainy, snowy day

I watched a documentary on www.topdocumentaryfilms.com called "Without Bound."

It's about people who live in vehicles -- from vans to RV's and everything in between. There was one young couple, Josh and Meisha Manwaring (www.vagabloggers.com) but most of those featured are retired, not looking for work, live on their social security. Some had retirement from past employment. Some have art to sell.  Many are writers and have figured out various ways to make money from their blogs.

It was clear to me that these folks have the answer to stress free living. It's frugality and simplicity. They live cheap, most for under $700 a month, once they get their rig. They don't accumulate much because of space limitations in their mobile dwellings. Plus, they have figured out what their individual needs are.  Freedom is at the top of their list. They do as they please which doesn't appear to be much, other than enjoying every moment to the fullest.  They wake up in a new place anytime they want. They go wherever their heart desires -- well, almost.

It appears that "mobile dwellers" aren't welcome everywhere. One of those featured alluded to a need for stealth, knowing where it's safe to park and where it's not, especially in cities.

In another video, The Summer of Family Love, a young couple and their three youngsters took a road trip along the West Coast. They were living in a VW van, recording their daily lives in order to make a  beautiful and fascinating two hour video about living in close quarters, being on the road, looking for places to safely spend the nights. I'm not sure where they were, but they were asked to leave a national park. It seemed to have something to do with their VW van.  They didn't understand but they went peacefully.

So apparently "mobile dwelling" is viewed differently than "being on vacation." So if I or anyone else were to find themselves in a position to give this a try, research would be in order.

The Manwarings had come to a cross roads of sorts in their individual careers and decided to try something different.  They expressed interest in challenging themselves by living frugally. They have become mostly vegetarians because it's cheaper to eat without meat, but they also don't have to store it. 

So many beautiful places to see

Mobile dwellers stop in out-of-the-way places as opposed to RV parks, partly because of the cost, and I'm sure, they just prefer to find the more magnificent vistas off the main roads. They take advantage of BLM land when they can. That land belongs to the federal government, is wild, and it's open to anyone to stay a while. Ranchers use it for free grazing in some areas.

Because most of the mobile dwellers are connected through the internet, they arrange to meet up in various places, but it sounded like some of them see one another very seldom.

Another really attractive thing about Mobile Dwelling is in living frugally, you're not contributing so much to the status quo. Its the freedom from the responsibility of owning a home (that great American Dream that handcuffs us to the grindstone, gobbles up our freedom, and makes others richer in the process).  With Mobile Dwelling there are no outrageous  property taxes to pay every year or  sky high utilities every month. There is no maintenance on the lawn to suit the neighbors and city code, aka, mowing and trimming. One of the women in the film remembers  mowing and trimming her lawn for too many years. "What did that get me?" she asks.

Most of those featured in "Without Bound" don't have families. At least not in the traditional sense. Some of them chose mobile living when they ended up with no other recourse, but then they fell in love with it and have no intention of going back into the rat race.

We've been sold on the idea that "owning a home" -- which for most people never really comes about because as soon as they build up equity, they sell it and buy something bigger and supposedly better, most assuredly, more expensive, which ties them to that mortgage payment for another fifteen years minimum. So off to work they go with little hope of ever being debt free -- much less -- just free.

Randy Vining has a blog with many fans, www.mobilecodgers.blogspot. com  

I found lots of interesting reading on Randy's blog. His perspective on life and living is so down to earth and refreshing. Be sure and check it out.

Bob Wells, also featured in "Without Bound" has a great website, cheaprvliving.com where I found all  kinds of information on mobile dwelling, from how to stay cool in the desert to how to protect yourself from 4 legged predators. There is also an invitation to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in January 2016. Bob has some amazing photography on his site. 

The film maker of "Without Bound", Michael Tubbs had this to say about why he named the film as he did:  "In mathematics, 'without bound' is used to describe something that either increases or decreases infinitely. I encourage you to think about how that applies to your life. What is increasing? What is decreasing? Is the balance of the trade-off tilted in your favor? Are you happy?  Is there a better way?"

We have pared down expenditures around here and are living quite comfortably, yet frugally ourselves. Good practice.

I was so charmed by these folks and their individual stories, I started the "what if I could do that?" train of thought. I looked on Craigslist for "something" I could live in, within my price range.

But I have decided the open road is not for me.  Not right now, anyway.  I'm Seth's only grandparent.  If I left, he'd grow up without me. He starts kindergarten this year. After he learns to read and write, I might give mobile living a try - and take my family with me. That way he'd learn what life is really all about -- while he's young enough to really "get it."

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous -- which I believe has gotten bigger.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Color of Greed

It's the pitts to live your whole life believing certain things, only to find out when you get to be my age, that few of your beliefs were worth hanging onto -- or more to the point, many should have been completely discarded.

It appears we humans have dug ourselves into a mighty big hole. According to many sources these days, there are huge, uncomfortable, perhaps even disastrous changes coming, starting with yet another financial collapse. It has already happened in Greece and maybe soon in China.

When I first read about this several months ago, I chalked it up to some more overblown media crap, but then I read a deeper examination of what happened to Greece's economy -- not the blame game the news media is trying to sell the rest of the world. It was clearly orchestrated by those who would gain in many ways - from the misery of the Greek citizens. Check out that article here.

Considering what those scoundrels were willing to do for gain, I'm realizing the media prophets might be right. My big question, though, is why? Why would anyone deliberately participate in the financial destruction of a whole country? Of course it's for money and power, but why? They were rich and powerful to start with or they wouldn't have been able to bring about the downfall of anything. So why do they need more? Like everybody else, they're all going to die -- sooner or later -- and they can't take money or power with them, so what's the point in torturing other people? I just don't get it. But I'm fairly sane.

In his book, Turning Point, Gregg Braden points out that in ancient cultures, a person who accumulated more than they needed for survival was considered mentally ill.

We may as well face it, many of us fall into that category, with our expansive homes (the bigger the better) our expensive cars ( I nearly choked when I bought my car.)

Many of us have more than one vehicle. Many of us have boats, four wheelers and jet skis that we use a few times a year -- all stuff that is fun but not necessary to our survival.

But think about those who have all the toys possible, plus millions and billions of dollars -- socked away in numerous banks -- foreign and domestic. They don't know which high dollar car or yatcht to drive today, or which ostentatious mansion to spend Christmas in this year -- and yet they fight tooth and nail against raising minimum wage to a living wage for their employees.

People who accumulate massive amounts of various stuff until they can't even walk through their home or clean it up are featured on the TV show "Hoarders". We recognize that they are sick individuals. Their families hire professionals to help them deal with their "problem".

But the person who hoards money is seen in two opposing lights. We curse them for holding onto the wealth, (which President Reagan assured us was the way to economic health with his "trickle down economics")(that certainly hasn't happened), and in the same breath we wish we were billionaires -- because of what we see as the obvious benefits of having all the money we want.

So in a sense, we have put the wealthy on a pedestal.  We criticize them because we know most of them did not get where they are via totally honest, legal or ethical avenues, but we use their "success" as a beacon.  We try to emulate them in order to accumulate more resources in our own bank accounts. On the way, many of us learn to be as ruthless and heartless as they are.

Permaculture teachers often mention how unsustainable the U.S.  economic system is. It is based on waste -- probably worse than any other country in the world.  My mother knew that 40 years ago. It's gotten worse since she mentioned it.

We throw out everything we don't need with little, if any, thought to the environment into which we are tossing it. We've been told that if we crush it, burn it, bury it, pitch it in the ocean or expose it to the sun long enough, it'll be okay. Well, no. Not really.

In his book "The Lost Language of Plants" Stephen Buhner talks about our garbage quite extensively -- especially the sewage, how it's infused with all the medications we take, in particular antibiotics.  He talks about how those chemicals are impacting, not only the environment, but the animals, grains, fruits and vegetables we eat and so ultimately -- us too.

Many of our cities "compost" sewage waste in their landfills, then give it back to us to spread on our lawns and vegetable gardens. It works great -- except all those antibiotics and other medications we take are still in there, many even more dangerous in combination with other chemicals, and they leach up into the food we grow.

A friend who has a lot of knowledge about the soil and growing vegetables described U.S. farm lands as having "become sponges for chemicals". U.S. farmland is dead, and that's the only way the big corporations can get anything to grow - dump chemicals on it.

But companies that produce the chemicals we ingest when we eat commercially gown food, and the chemical companies that come up with a chemical cure for every little bitty uncomfortable twinge we humans experience on a daily basis don't care about the side effects  -- at least not until they get sued.

All they care about is MONEY. Americans are the sickest population in the world and we spend billions and billions of dollars every year on chemicals  that will eventually make us sicker than we already are. The agriculture chemical companies and the pharmaceutical companies have gotten bigger and stronger and richer until now they pretty much can buy any and all of the U.S. legislators they want to control.

Millions of Americans have been lured into a sense of wellbeing, a feeling of relative safety by our leaders over the past 50 years, only to figure out now, they are all liars! We are not healthy, things are not going very well anywhere and we are not safe.

The enemy, though, is not Iranians or Muslims, or Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, Asians or Chinese. It's overpowering, overwhelming greed -- and it comes in all colors -- even red, white and blue.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

The American Dream -- is it worth the cost?

I watched a documentary on HBOGO, named "American Winter".  It was filmed in my new favorite place, Portland, Oregon.  It highlighted the problem of the new homeless in Portland -- as well as across America.

It isn't Portland that's to blame, it's many things. They chose Portland because it was easy to find folks there who have never had a problem supporting themselves and their families before, but usually due to a job layoff, found themselves in dire financial situations. Very interesting video --

One of the most often repeated phrases in the documentary is "The American Dream."

Unless I have totally misunderstood this concept, the American Dream is the ability to get a college degree, a high paying job, a nice home, nice cars, college education for all the kids and the ability to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, including dining out, nice clothes, fun toys, vacations, plus the security of health insurance and retirement benefits -- and the freedom to seek all that stuff.

But -- every single thing listed in the American Dream is expensive -- and when we buy it, we make some one else wealthier.

Colleges are BIG BUSINESS. And they depend on each and every American to buy into the American Dream -- and now it seems having that expensive college education guarantees nothing for many people. A lot of folks graduate with crippling debt from student loans -- all because the upper echelon has convinced Americans that they are entitled to a college education because THEY NEED YOU to spend that money -- and they don't care if your credit is ruined because you can't find a job and so can't re-pay those loans.

Our economy depends on every American buying into the American Dream.   We are encouraged to buy homes we can not afford to live in -- if one -- let alone both breadwinners were to lose their job. And guess what folks? The bank who loaned you the money to buy that house, was fully aware that if just one of you were to lose your job, you wouldn't be able to make the payments. They don't care. The plan has always been to evict you, take the house and sell it to someone else if you fall on hard times. And every single penny you have put into that house is gone. Not to mention your self esteem and sense of worth. Who feels good about themselves when they can't pay their mortgage and has to move their families into Mama's house?

If we can't keep up our end of these often lopsided deals, we are useless to them.

The Powers-That-Be have convinced Americans for a long time now that in order to be "respectable" we have to have everything listed in the American Dream, and now we not only need to have it all but we need to have the most expensive version of house car education, clothes, shoes we can get our hands on. And every time we increase our debt load, they get richer.

Take the car, for  example.  It was not invented as a status symbol.  It was invented to make travel easier and faster, but now many people who have swallowed the ideals of the American Dream hook line and sinker, actually judge the "good enough-ness" of those around them by the car they drive.

When I was working in that last place, our customers were high dollar folks -- top drawer people -- so to speak. Honesty was seldom used in the same sentence with most their names -- but no one in that circle cared because "she drives a Lexus" or some other car that costs more than many people make in two years working a full time job.

Few of us have any training in how to be happy. We look at "stuff" that others have that seems to make them happy and we think if we had that job house car money, we'd be happy too. According to Deepak Chopra and the folks involved in the Science of Positive Psychology, that method isn't very effective. It leaves empty spaces that need to be filled -- so we buy more stuff -- and enjoy it for a little while. Then we want something else -- because things don't make us happy -- not for long.  It is our connections to ourselves, each other and our Creator that bring long term happiness and peace.

And the whole time we are buying "stuff" to fill those "empty spaces", we are contributing to the wealth of someone else.

But what if we jumped off their band wagon? What if we stopped buying into the American Dream at least not to the extent we do now? What if - en masse -- we realized that happiness is a point of view, a moment to moment decision?  What if we as a nation began to appreciate the idea of "less stuff and less stress"?

What would happen if we realized that in buying into the American Dream, we let someone else define who we are?

What would happen if all of a sudden everyone were to realize they deserve better than this slavery we have tied ourselves into by caring so much what other people think about us, about what we said, what we do, what brand clothes we wear, if we're too fat or too thin, if we have wrinkles or if everyone knows we had a face lift?

The only reason anything is valuable is because humans believe it is. Gold and silver are metals taken from the Earth. They aren't "precious" because of anything other than thousands of years ago, someone convinced someone else that they were valuable -- and our troubled economic systems were born.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Changing Direction.

My front yard July 2013

My front yard in January 2015

The front yard went from green to brown in about a year and a half.  I can't explain this.  It seems to have been a combination of some sort of soil deficiency, erosion and five years of drought.

I've lived in this house for 35 years.  Most of that time, the yard looked like the picture on the left, green and lush, but it was a lot of work.  My husband fought to keep that St. Augustine here in hot dry Texas because "it feels good when you walk on it barefoot." And it did.

It started having multiple problems many years ago. After Ronnie was diagnosed as dying in 2010, he told me some things I might try to keep it in good shape. I hated to disappoint him at this time of greatest stress and sorrow, but I didn't want to promise to do something I had no intention of doing. So I took a deep breath and uttered words I knew he was not going to enjoy. "I'll probably let the Bermuda take over."

Ronnie passed away in August of 2011.

Grief is a strange experience.  It effects everyone differently. When the drought really set in, I avoided looking at the front lawn as much as possible. I went to work and came home every day, pulling into the driveway and going directly inside. With our city reservoir down to 18%, we were not allowed to water outside at all except with gray water, and that was wasted in front, running down hill in trails and running out into the street.  Ronnie's beloved, manicured lawn was gone and I didn't have the energy, the strength or the ability to focus long enough to do anything to fix it, so I chalked it up to one of those things I could not change -- at least not right then.

As you can see in the photo on the right, the Bermuda didn't take over.  Those small yellow areas were all that remained of it.

In August of 2014, I cancelled the lawn service that administered chemical pre-emergent, so after Christmas,  I threw out a wildflower seed mixture in hopes that something would germinate and slow down the erosion that had become the biggest problem.

Then in early January of this year, I woke up. I really saw the stark reality of the lawn situation and I hit the panic button -- sort of.  The shade in this yard comes from a huge pecan tree.  I had already lost 6 trees to this drought.  I could not even begin to imagine my yard or my house without that shade -- or not having the paper shell pecans it puts out most years.

You've heard the expression -- or some variation of it, "when one door closes, another one opens."

I don't remember what I googled that brought Permaculture front and center on my Facebook page. I had never heard of it but I felt certain it was an open door that I should walk through.


          May 2015

As per instructions ( sort of) from Permaculture, I dug a series of swales all the way across the front starting just below the pecan tree.

I made the decision to allow anything to grow that had roots.  Soon I had several dandelions, some thistles, hen bit and chickweed -- all the usual Texas "weeds" -- which come to find out are actually Nature's remedy for bare exposed soil -- religiously stamped out by the pre-emergent.

I bought pink evening primrose plants and seeds from the local native nursery and transplanted vinca major, sedum and other plants that I had growing in the back.

Then it started raining -- and the yard went from brown to green again in four months. Problems solved. Right?

Could have been.  After reading just a little bit about Permaculture, though, and learning some about urban farming, I decided I'd like to grow food in my front yard, but now I have all this evening primrose flourishing  -- replacing my lawn grasses -- just as I envisioned.

I'm not real sure what I'm going to do about that, but I planted corn in a flowerbed close to the house and I may put a couple of hills of squash in front of the corn since none of the squash plants I already have growing in back have made anything edible.

I am still excited to have green instead of brown. My pecan tree is as beautiful and sprawling as ever. And to top off all these wonderful blessings, our reservoir is 100% again and my pecan tree has a bumper crop forming.

I walk out front several times every day now to see what's new, to look at the greenery, the flowers, to appreciate it all, and to communicate with my pecan tree. I am so glad it's still with me, and I sense the appreciation it has for all my hard work.

Or is that Ronnie walking with me? Seeing the beauty of it all through my eyes, smelling the wonderful fragrance of the honeysuckle through my senses, anticipating the delicious taste of fresh harvested pecans in the fall? Even though it is all very different than what he chose when he was here, I think he approves.

And that makes it all the better.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Great Expectations -- of being a Farmer

Early spring before the heavy rains arrived. On the far  side of the yellow
yarrow are three Marionberry plants. You can't even see them from here.

Folks who live on a limited income would have a difficult time choosing organically grown, responsibly raised food. For some reason, it's expensive to leave off all those chemicals or keep chicken, pigs and cows in humane conditions. I'm guessing most organic farmers don't raise thousands of acres of crop so they have to get more for their produce than the commercial grower, but I really don't understand why. I'm sure there's a "perishable loss" that has to be absorbed and accounted for whether its organic or not.

But the fact remains that most of us have no idea how to grow our own food -- any of our own food.
Many of us have completely lost touch with that knowledge.

Realizing that IF the economy were to collapse -- and there are more sources expecting that than I ever realized -- I'd be one of those with a sizable piece of ground that grows nothing but grass, trees and flowers.

On the left, new corn sprouts rescued out of the
"swamp area". Right, are some recuperating green beans.
Behind the air pruning baskets are four volunteer plants. 
I'm not sure what they are (?) and behind those are the
six feet tall Marionberries supported by bamboo and twine.

So I decided to try my hand at growing edible stuff. I'm 66, though, and digging up a plot of ground, then weeding etc, does not appeal to me any more now than it did when I was younger, so I sought alternative gardening methods. So far, I'm having limited success.

I had a good crop of onions!

I have blooming okra plants out the wazoo and I have picked a few pods -- enough to fry with some potatoes and onions.

I have blooming squash out the wazoo too -- but no squashes yet. I noticed the blossoms of the squash were falling off instead of setting squash, so I googled it and discovered that squash plants put out male and female blossoms.  Only the females bear fruit.  The first blossoms are male and the female blooms will come later to set fruit. Isn't Nature awesome!

Cucumbers! I do have two real live cucumbers. And I planted some "lemon cucumbers'. They are climbing on the wire cages around the Marionberries and are loaded with blooms but so far I can't see any cucs. I picked one of the two small cucumbers to put in a salad for some old friends.

I have eaten three home grown tomatoes, used four in guacamole and there are three or four on the plants -- but I can only see two new tomatoes. With temperatures going past 90 degrees, they may not set more new fruit. They are blooming, though, so we'll see what happens.

I have blooming green beans plants too, and I've picked a few. I had a handful so I cut them up and sautéed them with onions, the few okra pods I had picked that day, some cabbage and potatoes.  It was wonderful!

Corn planted in stacked cinder bricks.
And corn! I have 7 visible ears of corn in the making. That should get us through the winter, lol. I planted some more in the low spot in the back yard that gets plenty of sun.  They sprouted in just a few days. Then it started raining again and they were standing in inch deep water for two days, so I transplanted them to an "air pruning" basket and they don't seem to be any worse for wear.

My daughter, Deidre, cut down the boxwood shrubs in front of her window to make more room for growing food.  I planted the rest of that packet of organic corn seeds in that flowerbed. I intend to plant more okra in front of that single row of corn.

Growing food is not easy.  There is a lot to learn. For one thing, I discovered a little too late that all bagged dirt is not equal. So I followed a recipe for garden soil on Larry Hall's site, and re-planted some things and transplanted others. I'm waiting to see improvements.

I planted watermelons in one of the straw bales.  As soon as they  sprouted, something started eating them, so I transplanted them into a grow bag full of cheap  "garden soil" and they sat there without moving one way or another for several weeks.  I added some bonemeal, and some worm castings but still nothing, so I filled another grow bag with Larry's mix and transplanted them again and now the watermelons have new leaves!

All straw bales are not equal either. (That was doomed from the time we got those bales home and couldn't identify the cut side) Out of the six bales, three are growing something. I may not have done the initial decomp correctly. Two of the original four tomato plants I put in the bales have recuperated from nearly dead and are doing quite well, so I added a handful of worm castings and some Larry's mix to the bales and planted bare root strawberry plants in the rest of them.

When I bought the strawberry plants, I intended to plant them in my front yard on berms located on the lower side of swales, but with all this incredible rain the bermuda grass has taken over the berms. Too much intense labor to get it out so I will let it be and mow it.  I'm looking for "easier" out front.

I needed to get the strawberries planted so I put most of them in the straw bales. They already have new leaves! I'll figure out what to do with them in the fall. I might be able to line the bales with cinder blocks and just leave them in place.

 Looking forward to next year on these beauties!

I was concerned about my three Marionberry plants when water backed up in the yard where I planted them, but they don't seem to mind being wet -- or dry. They are six feet tall now and really branching out.

A friend told me recently that when you start gardening vegetables, there's about a 3 year learning curve.  

It's only the middle of June. Texas is just beginning to come back to "hot and dry" so I'm sure more challenges will pop up as summer settles in, but the pecan trees are flourishing with all this rain. There is going to be a nice crop of pecans and much denser shade to give relief to all of the gardens at different times of every day.  My expectations are very high for a bountiful harvest of all sorts of goodies.

But, for me, the best part is feeling more in harmony with all that is. 

"Oh, I love the life within me! A part of everything is here in me." -- John Denver 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Welcome Back!

It's hard to believe that less than two months ago, Lake Arrowhead, our main city reservoir was down to 18%. In two weeks it filled to 100% and is going over the spillway! So are Lakes Kickapoo, Wichita and Diversion.

You can have a party if you want to -- but I'm just going to think about and talk about how wonderful it is, how incredible it feels to have water in our lakes again. It's just good for the soul.

I realize that lots of folks are not high and dry during all this rain, and I sympathize with them. I have my own unique flooding problems. They are nothing compared to those who have lost loved ones or their homes in the flooding rains that filled our lake.

Those of us who have been here in this area for a long time, knew it would take these flooding rains to return the lakes and reservoirs to acceptable levels. Once 82% of a lake bed is dry, it takes a tremendous amount of rain -- all at once  -- to fill it up.

It has been a long worrisome haul and I am glad to have the lakes full again -- especially Arrowhead.

So what does this mean? I noticed someone on Facebook expressing her joy that we can wash our cars again without feeling guilty. Another was looking to buy a Slip-n-slide for outdoor water fun. I caught myself wanting to return to my old easier dishwashing habits, and I thought, have you not learned anything during this drought?

Seth and I stopped in the middle of a running

battle with water guns to rescue some 
earthworms from the storm waters

Yes, I have learned a lot -- about conserving and harvesting water, about how miserable and troublesome it is not to have easy access to all I want and need. I've even realized that I was quite wasteful. I need to make some permanent changes to the way I did things before the drought. I need to take care that I don't return to those wasteful habits, but I don't want to stay in this drought mindset either.

One of the answers I found is to harvest rainwater. After some trial and error, I bought one 330 gallon IBC, then two 270 gallon IBC's. Deidre and Andy hooked them up to the roof gutters on the house and Bruno's Shop. We hooked up a 40 gallon trash can to the gutter on the pigeon pen -- which recently I expanded to three 40 gallon tanks. Even with the sparse rains we got last spring and summer, I always had water to use on my potted plants. I used most of what I captured behind the shop around the Desirable pecan tree that has been diminishing every year.

Even with the lakes full, and watering restrictions being relaxed, I don't intend to use city water for gardening any more. What falls from the sky amid thunder, lightening, and wind is so much more beneficial to all that grows.

Another solution is to figure out how to keep the rain that falls on your property --  in your soil.

I dug the now semi famous swale (semi famous because I talk about it all the time, lol) across my bare dirt front yard.

The very first benefit of the swale was that it gave me a way to water my paper shell pecan tree with harvested water.

Then it started raining -- and the swales filled and absorbed again and again -- and again. I did not realize that the ground would just keep on sucking up the water, but it did.

The cost of municipal water keeps going up. The city council raised the rates during the shortage.  I'll be real surprised if the rates go back to anything even close to pre-drought rates now that the lakes are full. You know how it is, the more you make, the more you spend. City government is not going to want to absorb that kind of loss.

From what I've read, it's still up in the air as to whether or not the current drought is over.  I've also heard that it's being predicted that these rains may continue through June. Would the drought be considered "over" if that happens? Maybe -- but another long period with no rain is very common here. When summer gets into full swing here in 2015 we may find ourselves wishing it would rain again.

Last summer with no outside watering being allowed, my daughter bought us some water guns. We had a blast with those guns! We were wet and refreshed and it was lots of fun -- and we didn't use a fraction of the water we'd have used with a pool or a sprinkler. I think we'll keep those handy!


Flowing water -- what a beautiful sound!