Tomato-paloza May 20th

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Filling in nicely- dahlias really coming in along the back- not that you can see from this shot or anything…

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3rd deadhead of these guys and the May Night Salvia just won’t stop with the blooms. Also, I’m starting to regret the placement of that native monarda (common name horse mint) in the front corner… bit of a beast

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Sweet 100- starting to rain so I couldn’t be bothered to crop out the weedy yard… 4′ tomato cage.

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Sungold- can we talk about the size of this thing in a MONTH? Lord. That’s a 4′ tomato cage and a 6′ t-post.

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HM 1823- I should look something up that happened in 1823. Should. (These are the littler 3′ tomato cages…

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And Bobcat- lookin’ purdy. 3′ tomato cage

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Arty shot of the antique roses- brought inside to save them from getting ruined in the storm. Stupid Coors light can ruining my arty shot…

The Garden on Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

We’re just back from a camping trip with a group of our friends- 12 adults and 16 kids out in Junction, TX. I broke my fishing pole but landed the fish that broke it. And the campsite one over from us had a 4′ rattlesnake that had to be relocated by the park ranger- our girls and their cousin were the ones that found it. Two out of our 3 children refused to wear shoes. And we took a canoe trip with most of the group and all of the toddlers.

There was a toddler overboard moment (wear your life jackets, folks. he was fine.) and a couple or four crying toddlers (ours was one of those.) Though I asked her the next day and she said she loved the boats, sooo… don’t let it stop you from doing stuff like that with them. Toddlers are resilient and selectively forgetful.) Packs of children running around like indians. Campfire coffee and smoke and hammocks and fun. All capped off with an hour-too-long sunburned drive home. But it was awesome and the setting of a river among arid hills is my very, very favorite.

While we were away, the tomatoes are growing like gangbusters:

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Sweet 100

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Sungold

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Sungold wins for the first set of the season!

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HM 1823- And, a tomato setting on this one too!

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Bobcat- stocky and looking good!

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The older new garden. Triangle garden? Office window garden? Am I going to have to name these things?

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View down on the Mexican Olive Tree in the middle of the bronze fennel

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Mexican Hat along the new fence

Weekly Ramblings

Guess what we’ve been up to this weekend? GUESS! If you guessed gardening, you win! Also, rewatching Singing in the Rain- for the third time. WHICH OH MY GOD IS SO GOOD AND FUNNY AND WATCH IT! If anyone doubts the “youth of today”- please know that it is the girls’ favorite movie, and they shared it this weekend with their 11 year old cousin, who also loved it, and  who’s previous favorite movie was Newsies. The youngest got up to dance along to every musical number. My theory is that generations move in a cyclical fashion, so we’re coming up on a Greatest Generation’s revival- but without the racism and unquestioning belief in the government… so just you wait and see- and have faith in the future.

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Sooo the sidewalk chalk is back. I should really take these at the same time of day so the exposure and shadows don’t bounce around so much. I should do lots of things.

Does the bronze fennel look slightly smaller this week? Well that is thanks to my favorite thing ever- my Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. So we had four of them- and what a great picture that would have been! They’re yellow black and white striped… and it should be obvious by now that if I had a picture I’d totally be sharing it. But when I went out to get some shots… nowhere to be found. For the first time ever I did find one setting up for a chrysalis though, all the way on the other side of the yard. They travelled far. Anyway- I’ll take pics of the next group.

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White Mistflower shrub. I just googled it and do you know what the other common name is? Havana Snakeroot! Hardcore! Poor thing, it’s like having Spike for a nickname and everyone calling you Susan.

So do you know how unusual these flowers are? Why are they unusual? Normal bloom time? October to November! So yeah. Keep it up there, Susan.

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Stop standing in your own light while taking pictures, you.

In front of the white mist flower are 3 clumps of Mexican Mint Marigold. Supposedly edible, other common name is Texas Tarragon, but I just grow it as an ornamental. Because here’s the thing- it’s supposed to be the warm weather alternative to Tarragon- but who the hell like’s tarragon? I can’t get onboard.

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Sweet 100!

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Sungold!

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HM 1823! Almost didn’t include this shot due to it being out of focus, but then realized a fuzzy picture tells you exactly the same amount as a crisp one, my god they’re just tomatoes.

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Bobcat. creeping Oregano in front of it. English thyme blending in with the grass behind it. Last tomato picture, I swear. For this week…

So the tomatoes are coming along awesomely- I’m so happy- I love everything about growing tomatoes. I swear tomato leaves are one of my favorite smells in the world. Had a bit of a rough week at work, and there was a day where I walked out from my office just to go bruise a leaf and smell it. Grounding and reminding that life is bigger and work is just so very small. That’s my kind of aromatherapy right there- and it worked like a charm. I can’t get onboard with the essential oils trend… but if they make a tomato leaf one I’d be down.

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And the newest bed with my Mother’s Day gift! Yes it’s early, but that is a Mexican Redbud we couldn’t constrain ourself another week before getting. Salvia Gauranitica  underneath it. Weird how this works- my husband and I call salvias by their latin names. Because we could call it Black and Blue salvia… or Majestic Sage… but we don’t? I honestly think it’s a holdover from when I worked at a garden center and so I must have imprinted like a baby chick on using the latin names and then he picked it up from me… but I only ever do it for salvias? Life is weird.

I know that seems planted too close to the house- but there is method to our madness, I swear. Mexican redbuds reach out and are airy and tend to have leaves only on the top of the branches when they mature (very Seusian) and we want it to reach up and out (we’ll train it away from the house) and then the oldest daughter gets to look through interesting branch structures out her window. The husband and I got the idea while seeing one at a restaurant on our anniversary date, and the hunt was on to find one- we just had to get it. And the Salvia Guaranitica will get about 3′ tall and fill in the whole area underneath it. We had it at our old house and probably had 20′ of it by the time we moved.

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Close up of the Mexican redbud leaves with droplets of water… so arty over here.

Garden Watch, 2018

So… lot of gardening going on lately, to the detriment of the bank account, but for the benefit of muscles and souls; so it’s a good tradeoff. Besides, what else is money for? Oh, the mortgage,  right.

So here’s what we’re going to do- I’ll be posting updates on the gardens, to record them as they grow in; and on the specific tomato plants, to track their progress and because I have 3 varieties I’ve never tried before this year. And because I make the calls around this here blog, so yall just enjoy a week by week tracking of tomatoes until you resolve to never come back, m’kay?

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So, if you recall, this is the garden about a week after planting April 7th-ish

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And here it is April 29th. And we picked up some of the sidewalk chalk and the racket finally!

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Sweet 100 cherry tomato April 15th

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Sweet 100 on April 29th

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New one to me… HM 1823. We’ll see.

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Mine eyes have never seen a more beautiful tomato plant… it’s called Bobcat… I really need to get a cage, but it’s awfully nice and stocky. Not pictured is the other new tomato called Sungold- it’s a cherry too.

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Good fences make good and non-visible neighbors. And we did it ourself! Oh the pride… the PRIDE!

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Francis Dubriel Rose- lovely and fragrant… awfully disease resistant so far. What? It’s gotta be constant with the zippy comments? I do what I want.

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Dinnerplate Dahlia bulbs coming up… these are called Thomas Edison. Turns out he was a bit of a douchebag, but that isn’t the flowers’ fault

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My husband and I love gardening together so much, looks like our pitchforks got married too! He’s wearing a simple bottle cap band, whereas she’s in a lovely impaled penny

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The new garden on the other side of the deck. Can you believe we agonized for months on the new house color… and then ended up picking a color that was an exact match to the AC unit?

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And the cats. The calico does have a tail… she’s just embarrassed and sitting on it due to the competition she faces on the daily round the other two

Spring

A blog you say? I have one, do I?

The Tile:

So spring has sprung and what that means is that I’m less apt to sit here on the weekends and more likely to be found gardening or cleaning. (It’s a “yay” response to that statement. I know that seems unlikely, but it’s true.) A few weeks ago I hand scrubbed 40 square feet of white subway tile from a stepladder on my counter.

I’d always hated that tile. It runs from our stove all the way to the 12’/ 16’/ “I should really measure this one day” ceiling. And it sounds like I shouldn’t have hated it. It, in fact, sounds right up my alley. But oh how it wasn’t. The people who flipped our house (aka Those Jackasses) did a pisspoor job on everything. Painting. Floors. Exterior Painting. Installing Cabinets. Wired in fire alarms that were wired wrong so THEY were a fire hazard. Jesus don’t get me started on the incorrectly installed french door that’s molding or the bathrooms that are going to have to be a complete tear out. So the Jackasses installed this huge counter to ceiling swatch of subway tile in the kitchen, and thanks to the open concept of our house there it was, staring me in the face every time I sat on the couch, ate dinner, cooked dinner, or peed with the bathroom door open when no one else was home.

And what was the problem with the tile? Well, as I mentioned it’s really hard to reach. Which explains why they never properly scrubbed the grout off. There was a mattifying haze of it left all over the top 4 feet. And just a badly cleaned job on the areas that were reachable. My husband and I had installed tile at our last house. We knew how to do it correctly. This was not.

And I CLEANED it before, don’t get me wrong. The thing got half assed wiped down a few times in the 2 years we’ve been here, we’re not monsters. But one recent random Saturday I just grabbed a bucket and a scrub pad and I LAID into those tiles. It honestly took hard scrubbing EVERY damn tile, all the way to the ceiling. And almost working by feel- you can feel the tile turn from gritty to smooth. I grabbed a butter knife for some excessively gritty corners. And I have NO idea how long it took to do. An hour? Two? Shorter than the two years I’d been hating it though.

And what do you know, I like that tile now. It no longer is a testament/monument to “you live in someone else’s house/ they did this” and made it ours. I felt that same feeling at the last house too- it took touching and changing literally every surface before it felt “us.” This is the same, just a dauntingly bigger place, and the beginning started out hugely pregnant and then dealing with an infant so we had no choice but to let it lie for a while. But now? We’re on a roll.

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SOOO carefully cropped to not show dirty counters…

And that has been what these past weeks have felt like. We’ve reorganized our bedroom. I cleaned out and organized my closet. We’ve gardened and gardened and gardened. We’ve put up a fence.

And now, there the tile sits, way up there. Gleaming. And I smile at it, because it is mine.

The Garden:

And… that felt like the end of the blog post actually. Bt the gardening… I just want to say we’ve gotten the side garden/ Japanese maple garden rocking these days. The husband and I got each other Japanese maples for our 14 year anniversary this week- brings the total to 8. We’re close to running out of space in the perfect high dappled shade of the pecan trees over there- but if conditions allowed the entire yard would be Japanese maples.

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We hang out here a lot talking about how nice it is. Might be why the neighbors sold there house and moved. It’s better looking in real life.  *bare patch in the front left is a Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow shrub that we cut to the ground when we transplanted it in the fall. It’s coming back. (Yes, that actually is it’s name)

A few weeks ago we dug up the entirety of this awkward triangle section of yard between the carport slab and house and made a garden of it- antique rose, white mistflower shrub, dinner plate dahlias, pineapple sage, coreopsis transplanted from the wildflower area, rosemary, a different colored may night salvia (not the standard pink or two shades of purple. This one’s fuchsia with flower stalks twice their normal size)…

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Put up or shut up about the May Night Salvia, I know, I know.

native monarda, spirea, a Mexican Olive Tree, Mexican Mint Marigolds (aka Texas Tarragon aka not related to any plant in it’s common names…), and bronze fennel (my FAVORITE ornamental herb). The husband has a gift for rocks, so there is a cool stone border and a nice walkway through it. It’s a very “us” garden… what predominates is it better not have any of the standard garden center bedding plants we see around here. We like the unusual or old fashioned, or at least unusual for TEXAS (sure other regions do NOT consider pineapple sage or may night salvia unusual… I get it. They make the cut ’round these here parts though).

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Did I oversell it? Because I feel like I oversold it…

But having worked in a garden center for a while, I HATE all the plants that are on the market for no reason other than that they’ll flower in six packs. Plants should do well in the GARDEN not on the shelf… I am very anti-standard plant offerings- if there was some kind of a walkout or march, or plant hat to crochet I totally would- this is an issue that speaks to me, dig? What I’m saying is if you EVER find a petunia or salvia greggii in my garden it’s because I’m DEAD and the next wife has no idea what she’s doing, the whore.

In the backyard this weekend the husband planted a new pomegranate tree, the needle palm we’ve had in a pot for years, and a vitex tree. They were big pots. They were HUGE holes. The toddler fell in one and almost couldn’t get out, if that conveys the concept… And I dug up a three foot by twelve foot section of the yard to put in tomatoes. I don’t think writing that out quite conveys the hours and hours we spent yesterday fighting the hard ground to accomplish those tasks… it was way more difficult than it sounds, promise.

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Is that a 6′ T post driven into the middle of that 4′ tomato cage? You bet your ass it is. Sweet 100 cherry tomato is a BEAST. The T post still won’t be enough… grow my pretty, GROW!

Weirdly the section I dug up for tomatoes was super sandy (still rock hard? Not sure how that works, but it was). I feel like maybe it was the floor for some old pigeon coop that had been torn down or a sand floored shed. There are a couple of cut off to ground level cedar posts close by to give credence to that theory. And I unearthed a 70s astroturf doormat while digging. WEIRD to think there we were, mowing over a welcome mat buried 2 inches down this whole time. But again, it’s the same feeling: we’re slowly making it ours through blood, sweat, tears and the occasional demolished lower back. And FINALLY we can see the shape of the garden coming together… we’re well on our way.

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Picture of front porch pots for no reason related to narrative whatsoever. Mint, Italian Parsley, and a tuberous begonia

Linked up with Samantha @ Fake Fabulous HERE!

It was a beautiful day…

My husband and I were sitting in the backyard last weekend and noticed a black swallowtail butterfly flit around the potted plants. I told my husband it had been doing it for hours and when I went over and checked the parsley I called him over to see- a newly laid butterfly egg! And look- there is another, and another!

Did he reply with wonderment at the beauty of nature? Or with wonderment at me and my insanely good eyesight and perceptivity? Yes, that last one… kinda. What he said was something to the effect of: Picking nits from the past few lice incidents has really paid off! Well. Yes. I guess it has, my love. I guess it has.

 

Of Lice and Zen

Crap.

So yesterday our oldest put her pet mice (named Almond and Honey) on her shoulder and I cracked a joke about “Oh no! You have head-mice!” She laughed. I didn’t- because holy hell. When was the last time I checked your head for actual lice?!

She didn’t have any. Her sister did though. F*****CK!

So it’s laborious nit picking around here. It’s dousing a small little head in burning lice shampoo made out of flowers. Think I’m making that up? The main ingredient in Rid is pyrethrum, made from chrysanthemum blossoms.

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Flowers of louse-y death. 

“A Chrysanthemum by any other name would also totally reek.” These aren’t roses, but it’s not the very worst smell out there.

And so there will be much laundry and bagging up of stuffed animals, and weeks of staying on top of it… hours a night on nit checks. But, it’s an opportunity to sit and talk for uninterrupted time with my child. And besides, all I want is for her to feel better and to take care of this for her- it’s never had me angry or frazzled or super stressed out about whenever we’ve had to deal with lice. There is nothing to be done except slow waaaaaay down and invest the time to fix it. And that isn’t a bad thing, actually- the brakes getting thrown on life sometimes. So, I know it makes for a zippy title, but it is true, I do get quite zen about it.

And so I’ll go through the next few weeks with hands that smell faintly of flowers of death, which makes me feel like a minor Hindu deity in the Indian pantheon. And that isn’t a bad thing either, actually.

I will try to grab those silver linings as they race by, whenever I can…