Category Archives: Out and About

In remembrance of Neil Armstrong


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Forget Invention, Necessity is the Mother of Improvisation!

I’m sorry my dear international friends but this post is completely North American centric.

For several years now I’ve been trying to find something comfortable to wear in the garden during the spring and summer (as you may have guessed I’m not a big shopper, unless it’s plants, seeds and garden gadgets – okay I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets too). Now bear in mind that I tend to wear my grubbys until they fall off my body, and since I spend most of my time around the house I’m almost always wearing grubbys, so  I don’t go shopping for clothes that often… plus when I do it’s often at the thrift store.

The other day however I’d just had it (most of my grubbys are more rags than clothes and, apparently somewhere along the line I lost some weight so, the ones that aren’t are falling off) so I did something I hardly ever do and I went to Target. My hope was to find a couple of pairs of longish shorts and maybe a comfy pair of trousers I could step out of the house in. I was quite please to find a couple of pairs of nice long shorts, and a couple of pairs of cropped bottoms that went just below the knees instead of mid-calf (because mid-calf is such a great place for to trousers to hit the leg – talk about cutting you off at the knees!). Where I really struck gold though was when I went to find a pair of shorts to sleep in.

I found these:

Gilligan & OMalley® Womens Fluid Knit Bermuda

Forget sleeping in these! These are perfect for wearing in the garden – super comfy, loose, flowing, airy and they extend past the knees so that when you do kneel down you don’t get knees full of grit. I’m going to buy several more pairs and live in these until the cool weather comes our way again.

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty…

Happy Earth Day everyone! As you can see I’m making a progress (slowly but surely) in reclaiming my garden.

Taming the Jungle

I Fought the Rubble and I Won!

View From the Garden

I have all of my squash and melons planted, I’m starting to get peas, I pulled all my onions and garlic over the past couple of days (a lot of that will be replanted but I needed to reorg the beds), most of my tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos and ground cherries are in, as well as some okra and basil. Now I need to tackle my getting peppers in and then finding homes for all my left over seedlings (any takers?). I’m hoping they will find good homes at the plant swap I’m attending next week. The problem with the plant swap though is that I’ll end up coming home with as many/more plants than I took with me!

It hasn’t all been dirt under my nails though. Earlier in the month I felt compelled to add a little more art to the garden.

The first thing I found was this Witch Cowboy Boot Barbed Wire Birdhouse With Whisk Broom by Dan Towell. I featured some of Dan’s work in my “buy it or make it” post a couple of months back – he did the barbed wire trellis – but I didn’t realize it was the same artist until I found this little piece.  Anyway, I love this piece – it’s just so quirky and so perfect for a Texas garden.

This is the artist's picture which I think shows the detail a bit better.

Then, while in Santa Fe, we found this fellow. MrGF and I have been looking for a Green Man for our garden for years, but never found one that resonated with us (they either felt too severe or too jolly), but the minute we saw him we knew we’d finally found our man — he’s got a timeless quality about him. I have to say the picture doesn’t do him justice, in person he has leaves and vines etched into his hair and beard. He also happens to remind me of a dear friend who I don’t get to visit nearly often enough. Right now our man is in his temporary home sitting out in the dappled shade, among the flowers, listening to the birds sing and watching over my newly planted herbs and vegetables.

Finally, if you’ve been to Santa Fe you know that Saint Francis is beloved there. Now I give “lapsed Catholic” a whole new meaning, but I’ve always been fond of ol’ Frankie (it’s that whole talking to the animals, patron saint of the environment thing) and I was really drawn to this representation of him, so he’s found a little place in my garden as well.

P.S. MrGF has been playing with the new camera so there will be updated pics of “the cast of characters” soon.

Holy Jurassic Suburban Jungle Batman…

Okay so technically I should have referenced the Carboniferous Period, but somehow I can’t imagine Robin saying “Carboniferous Period”. Anyway, I’m back!

We had a lovely holiday. We were away for a week taking in some of the sites of the Texas panhandle (yes there are some) and the high desert mountains of New Mexico. I’m in love with New Mexico, I completely understand why they call it “The Land of Enchantment”, and I’m convinced that (as long as you stay away from the chains) you can’t get a bad meal there… but I’m skipping ahead of myself.

We began our trip by heading to Canyon, Texas to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, with a fascinating history. According to the Handbook of Texas Online:

“The Spanish name Palo Duro means “hardwood” and refers to the hardwood shrubs and trees found in the canyon. Palo Duro Canyon was carved into the eastern Caprock escarpment of the High Plains … by the headwaters of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and by attendant weathering. The head of the canyon lies fifteen miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall County, and the canyon extends sixty miles southeast through Armstrong County and into Briscoe County. It reaches depths of 800 feet from rim to floor (approximately 3,500 feet to 2,400 feet above sea level) and average widths of more than six miles. The steep sides of Palo Duro Canyon consist of bright, banded layers of orange, red, brown, yellow, grey, maroon, and white rocks that represent four different geologic periods and a time span of more than 240 million years …  Adding to the canyon’s scenic grandeur are numerous pinnacles, buttes, and mesas, each protected by a cap of erosion-resistant sandstone or other rock. The natural vegetation of the canyon consists of a variety of grasses and other xerophytic vegetation such as prickly pear, yucca, mesquite, and juniper. Cottonwood, willow, and salt cedar grow along the banks of Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

Because of the availability of wood, water, game, edible wild plants, raw materials for weapons and tools, and shelter from harsh winter winds, Palo Duro Canyon was a favorite camp site for both prehistoric peoples and later Indian tribes. The first known inhabitants, who date from the period between 10,000 and 5,000 B.C. were big-game hunters of now-extinct giant bison and mammoths …

The first Europeans to see Palo Duro Canyon were probably the members of the Coronado expedition, who may have camped and rested there in the late spring of 1541 while searching for Quivira and the treasures it reputedly contained. The region was occupied at that time by bands of pre-horse-culture Apache Indians who depended heavily on buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter. In the eighteenth century, after the Plains Indians had acquired horses, the canyon became a major campground of the Comanches and Kiowas. Traders from New Mexico called Comancheros frequently came to Palo Duro to trade with the Indians. The first Anglo-Americans to explore Palo Duro Canyon were members of Capt. Randolph B. Marcy‘s 1852 expedition in search of the sources of the Red River … In 1876 a group of army engineers, teamsters, and civilian draftsman was in the area to explore the headwaters of the Red River and conduct a topographic and scientific survey … That same year, Charles Goodnight drove a herd of cattle into Palo Duro Canyon to begin the first commercial ranch in the Panhandle, the JA.

Although the canyon remained the domain of the cattlemen for the next half century, it also became a popular picnicking and camping place for residents in the surrounding area. In 1933 the state of Texas purchased land in the upper canyon to establish Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park. Initial improvements, including construction of a road to the floor of the canyon, were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of the National Park Service.”

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Pod People in Palo Duro Canyon

Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience as much of the park as we would have liked because the April Fool’s Day temps in the canyon were 90+o (F) and there was a bike race on that made walking the nice, shaded river trail we found a little too exciting (I just can’t move out of the way that fast!). None of that will dissuade us from another visit though, plus I got a great little ethnobotany book while I was there.

After our canyon visit we spent a couple of days soaking our weary selves in the snowy New Mexican mountains before heading off to Santa Fe.

Near Ojo Caliente Hot Springs (New Mexico)

I won’t bore you with gushing on about how much I loved Santa Fe. Suffice it to say it was exactly what we needed. Especially since it apparently rained a bit and then got warm and sunny while we were gone, and this is the garden (err, jungle) I came back to.

I swear there is a veggie garden in there somewhere

I think it’s fair to say “I’m in the weeds”. And I’m not even showing you my lower growing beds (primarily because I need to excavate from under building debris that has been “stored” on them before I can call them growing beds again). Oh well, no rest for the wicked and more fodder for the blog (pun intended but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see why). If you don’t hear from me in a couple of days please send out the search party.