Thursday, April 30, 2009

Colors in my garden...

I was sitting outside in the back yard today after work and it hit me that summer is just around the corner in south Texas, which means the temps will soon be through the roof. It's still pleasant now, and I like to take advantage of it by opening my windows and let the breeze blow through the house. Not many people feel the same way down here. It seems like everyone keeps their windows and blinds shut. I was painting the outside of my house one morning a few weeks ago and was thinking that it was actually kind of chilly. Then I heard my neighbor's air conditioner kick on. I consider it a blessing when I don't have to turn my air conditioner on...especially considering how much it costs. But people around here seem to fire it up when it gets above 75.

Which leads me to another point which just boggles my mind. The university where I work keeps all the buildings at something like 75 degrees to keep everyone comfortable. Yet, most of the people who I know there are freezing their tails off. Many people, in fact, have little space heaters under their desk (me included) who keep them running during the day (even through the summer) because it's so freaking cold!! How much sense does that make, excuse me very much?!? So they're paying the utilities to air condition all those buildings (I think I read somewhere that their utility bill is about $2 million a year)...and yet everyone is running space heaters to keep warm!!! Duh!!! And we wonder why the economy is so screwed up.

Whoa...did I digress, or what?? I was sitting outside when I came home from work and was looking at all the pretty colors of flowers that I bought at Lowe's last week. What the heck does that have to do with air conditioning?? So let's get back to the flowers. I tried to buy something in every color I could find. I think I did a pretty good job.

Okay, so white's not a color, but they're still pretty.

I love this color...kind of a lavender/blue.

This is from a huge rose bush in my back yard.

Hey, this isn't a flower! This is my son's cat...her name is Daisy, so I thought she deserved an honorable mention on my flower post.

Monday, April 27, 2009

And yet another snowfall in South Dakota...

Paul sent me some more pics from South Dakota this past weekend. It was snowing on Sunday, so he went out for a drive and took some pictures. I know a lot of people across the country have had it up to their eyeballs with snow, but since I was sweating buckets working on my yard on Saturday, I could appreciate some photos of the white stuff. I thought he did a pretty good job and I love the "blueness" in all the shots.

See that profile in the middle of the picture? That's George from Mt. Rushmore. It's a side shot that most people don't know about as you drive around the backside of the mountain.

These lake shots are of either Lake Sheridan or Lake Pactola. It's hard for me to tell because of the vagueness of the photos...which I think is a cool effect.

You can actually see some of the snowflakes in some of these.

I miss the beauty of it, but I don't miss praying my Ford Escort would get up the hill.

This is one of my favorites...

This one just makes me feel cold looking at it.

I don't think we have to worry about not having a lifeguard here...

And here's some history if anyone is interested.

Thanks for another diversion from Texas, Paul.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Update to stump hiding post...

Well, it sounds like it was gardening time across the country from all the blogs I read. I appreciated the tips and comments from Beck, Ann and Vee on my stump dilemma.

What's funny about it is that last night I sent a photo to my son's phone in Austin of my lame attempt to improve the stump...mainly because he's the one who cut the tree down. He said, "It's cute, but you should make a bird bath out of it." So, Vee...when I got your comment today about making your stump into a birdbath I had to laugh, because that's exactly what I did last night.

I like it better than the planter I had on I put the planter on top of the bird bath base. Ha! I don't think I'll keep it there, but for now it's kind of cute. Now I just need to put some fresh mulch down in the garden area and paint the deck. :-/ It's always a work in progress.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cactus and another day in TYFH...

Texas State University takes immaculate care of the landscaping. During Spring break (which I had to work through), I noticed this cactus in front of my building. I don't know much about cactus, but I figured those red things had to be future flowers. They stayed this way for about a month and a half.

Then they changed to this.

And then to this just last week. It is hard to believe that such an ugly plant can create such a beautiful flower. I'm curious to see whether they will open even more.

Here is another one. Look at all those pricklies. Amazing. They look like a million little white spiders. And this one's ready to bloom as well. I will keep tabs on it.

For your information, "TYFH" in my title stands for "The Yard From Hell." I worked in TYFH today from noon until 6 p.m. Went up to Lowe's this morning and their flowers were all on sale. Oh, yeah. I worked on a project today. This is what's left over from the mulberry tree that used to tower over my yard. (FYI, never think of planting a mulberry tree. They're a mess and you can't really use the berries and all you end up doing is tracking them inside the house on the bottom of your shoes.)

I kept putting off getting the stump removed because I just didn't feel like spending the money on it. I know you can drill holes in it and pour these little beads in which will rot it so that you can chop it up. We tried that but it didn't work. So at my rummage sale, I was talking to one of my customers (a landscaper) about it and I asked him how much he thought it would cost to take the stump out. He said it wasn't worth spending the money and that I should make a planter out of it. What a coinkydink!! I had been thinking the same thing! So this is what I came up with.

Now come on and tell me you can still see a stump there. Ha! Ha! Okay, I know it still looks like a stump, but that planter on the top is fast-growing and viney, so I'm hoping it will eventually drape down and cover the stump. And that the plants around it will grow up and hide it as well.
Just don't even remind me that these are annuals and that they will go away in the winter and we'll still be able to see the damn stump. Maybe someone has some helpful stump-hiding suggestions??

Other than that, I cut down a big bush that was right outside my doorway that had gotten out of control. I moved my Hibiscus to that spot so you can see it from the street.

While I was at Lowe's, I looked in the ceramic tile section for some kind of solution that will brighten up tile. I did the tile work in the photo above when I first moved here in 2004 and it's looking kind of dull. Lowe's had some, but it was $32.00 for a little pint-sized bottle!!! No freakin' way, Jose! Does anyone else know of any (cheaper) ways to brighten up tile??

Ahhh...finally time to relax. The Sol was good, but my photo just didn't cut it as a substitution for the real thing. **sigh**

Friday, April 24, 2009

A ride through the Black Hills...

My friend Paul from South Dakota went for a ride this week and sent me some pictures he took along the way. It was a ride down memory lane for me and I enjoyed the trip back in time. When I said in my last post that Texas isn't the "best," this is what I meant...there is beauty in every state. When it comes down to it, very few people have actually been to the great state of South Dakota. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere (like a lot of the towns in Texas that I've mentioned), so you actually have to plan to go can't just drive through it on the way to somewhere else. But it's definitely worth the trip.

The Black Hills have remained a very beautiful, pristine, sparsely populated area of the United States. Since there are no major cities nearby, it isn't a place where people go to pursue careers or educations. The main source of income is tourism, but it's a hit-or-miss kind of deal where a people go there to start a restaurant/hotel/business, etc., and either make it or don't. A lot of them don't. This was my beautiful drive from Hill City (population of 650) to Rapid City to work every day. No rush hour traffic...only rush hour deer.

Here's Paul's stop for a Mt. Rushmore pic. (And, yes...he has to get his motorcycle in most of the pics just to make me feel bad.) Mt. Rushmore is truly awesome. Everyone should see it at least once. You really can't appreciate it unless you see it in person and take in the incredible scenery around it.

Here's his cabin which sits on Black Hills National Forest land. That means no major improvements can be made on the property.

Which also means the outdoor "biff" has to remain outdoors...spiders and all. You gotta love that door handle. It's actually pretty comfortable inside...minus the spiders, of course.

Here's Hill City's equivalent to Applebee's. (A small travel tip: I would recommend caution before trying the Hill City Cafe. You have to be an adventurous and frequent small town diner type of customer to appreciate its "charms.")

Here's the new Harley-Davidson store they added after I left. This picture was taken from in front of First Western Bank where I used to work. Sometimes I can't even believe I used to live's so different than my life before then or something from the old west.

But I'll have to say one thing. Of all the places I've lived all my life (and there have been many)...this deck is probably the one thing I enjoyed (and miss) the most...where you could hear and feel the wind whistling through the pines.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Texas Wildflowers

I'll have to admit that I've had a few complaints about Texas since I moved here five years ago. Since I'm not a native and have actually been to other parts of the country (unlike many people here), I don't consider Texas to be the absolute best state in the union which is very contrary to what the majority of people think here...ESPECIALLY Texas natives. I may be making some enemies here, but since I've seen so much of the U.S., I don't think Texas has the best scenery...or the best food...or the best architecture...and don't even bring up the drivers because that will open a whole big can of worms. It's's just another state with a lot to offer...but it's not the best. But I don't think ANY state is "best"...there are pros and cons to each one. And each one has its own beauty, including Texas.

One thing I will give Texas is that it has some pretty awesome wildflowers which appear from early Spring to late Fall...the most famous of which is the state flower - Bluebonnets (I got this picture off the internet, by the way).

Lady Bird Johnson started the big deal about Bluebonnets and how you can't cut them down or pick them. I didn't know that when I first moved here. There were some growing in my yard, so I unwittingly picked some and took them into work. Boy, did I get the riot act. You'd think I had committed mass murder. "You can't pick's against the law!!" It's just a freakin' flower, for cryin' out Pete's sake! Well, it turns out that you CAN pick them if they're in your yard, so, lucky for me, I wasn't hauled off to the pokey for picking flowers. After all, I have done jail time before.

Here are some more pretty ones (also from the internet) - Indian Blankets.

So, anyway, what all started this post is that I was working in my yard from hell this weekend...which, by the way, is finally beginning to not look so hellish. This is another "before" view from my front doorway.

And this is what it looks like today. Look at all that new green grass growing in. Whoo-hoo! A neighbor came to my garage sale on Saturday and was telling me about an organic product called "Has to Grow" for different plants which she raved about. So I bought some "Has to Grow Grass" at Lowe's and sprayed it on my yard yesterday, so I'm thinking it 'has to grow' now. We'll see about that.

I digressed...anyway, I was mowing the yard and saw this little patch of wildflowers near the curb. These are some of my favorites...they are called Pink Evening Primrose. Aren't they pretty? They're so delicate and soft...I just couldn't mow them over. Lady Bird would be proud of me...even though they're not Bluebonnets.

Oh, and this is what I did with the weird planter that didn't sell at my garage sale.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This is the money I could be making... having a garage sale! Which is what I did today. (And that actually is a picture of the money I made...not a Geico ad.) I decided I didn't have enough on my plate with painting the outside and inside of the, in my effort to become "de-cluttered," I had a garage sale to get rid of the knick-knacks and household items I don't use or just don't like anymore. It has become my goal to simplify my life and not keeping things I don't need.

I took stuff out to the garage all this past week getting ready for the big event. The cats were enjoying all the activity and figured I was doing this just to create a big playground for them...jumping up and down on the tables, etc. Fortunately, we only had one mishap. No big loss...I think I had $2 on that one.

It was questionable when I woke up this morning to thunder and lightning, but by the time I put out my sign, the rain had stopped and I waited for the hoard of hard core rummagers. Well, it wasn't actually a hoard, but more people came by than I thought, considering the weather. I've had my share of garage sales in the past, so I know that the serious customers come early. They're looking for the stuff that might actually have value so they can scarf them up before someone else does. I took the following pictures before the actual sale, so I didn't know what was going to sell. These are among the items the first customer bought.

I have a ton of books which I've been toting around various cities for the past 30 years. Some of these date back to books I've read in high school. I've always loved books and it's very hard for me to give them up, but I decided it's about time. (Mainly because I don't want to freakin' move them again.) Unfortunately, I didn't sell very many of them. One of my customers told me that the local senior center will pick them up if you box them up for them. So that is what I will be doing.

See "Native Son" and "Ivanhoe" in this one? That copy of "Ivanhoe" was from 8th grade...and "Native Son" was from high school. And, no, I'm not going to tell you what years those were. I have to have SOME secrets.

I really thought this cookie jar would sell...but I still have it. I guess no one really uses cookie jars anymore...probably because cookies don't stay fresh in them. Another lost art.

I sold this a discounted price to a late-in-the-day customer.

This was an "on a whim" kind of purchase for me a few years ago. I think I got it for next to nothing at Ross. I couldn't give it away today. Go figure.

I had a collection of tea cups which I put out for sale. Most of them sold, but not this one. Maybe it's because the flower looks like lips on the inside of the cup?? Otherwise it's kind of pretty.

I sold this one to a very elderly gentleman with a cane who was by himself. I felt kind of sorry for him and imagined that he used to go to garage sales with his wife.

Some inexpensive jewelry at 25 cents each. Nothing left in that group.

Cute little pineapple jelly jar. Still have that if anyone's interested.

Sold the teapot...

But not this pitcher...

I was surprised this didn't sell. Yeah, it's kind of weird, but I though it might have some kind of aethetic value. Guess not. Maybe I'll actually use it as a planter, although anything you plant in it can't have much of a root system.

And, last but not least, my cute little snowman from South Dakota. I knew someone wouldn't be able to resist him. Hope he has a good home.

There was lots more, of course, but nothing interesting enough to get pictures of. I sold the big things I wanted to get rid of and made a grand profit of about $280. More than I expected.

Now I need to get started on painting my garage. :-/