30 April 2010

The Scent of Spring

I wish I could somehow post smells here to capture what I experience in my garden. It is a delight to walk out of the house on to the porch or to open the car door upon arriving home. In the evenings and early mornings especialy there is such a fresh sweet smell all around.
The rose bushes are all in full bloom, lining the driveway. As we drive along when the sunroof is open, the tall ones brush the car and petals fall in!

Honeysuckle covers the gate, curling and flowing everywhere, floating in the breeze.

Oxalis lines the side of the house with a slight but sweet scent.

Towering above everything else are the Chinaberry trees. They came up in the back yard along the fence years ago out of nowhere. Last year they bloomed for the first time. They have they most amazing fragrance. This is one I'd love to bottle!
All of this and it's just the end of April. I still have the Four-'O-Clocks, Moonflowers and Magnolias to look forward to!

16 April 2010

Not In My Yard

I received the story below in an email a few years ago and came across it again today. I saved it because it speaks such truth about the state of much of our Earth. In honor of Earth Day coming up, I thought it would be a good time to re-circulate it. I am proud to say that God would like things in my yard.

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast.. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it -- sometimes twice a week.
GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.
GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?
ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
GOD: And where do they get this mulch?
ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about ....
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

11 April 2010

A Perfect Week Off

The end of Spring Break has nearly come, one day left. It has really been a great week. I packed Claire off to spend the week with her father. They spent a few days in Bloomington, IL with family at his father's memorial service - heartfelt sympathies to all. Then they drove across Indiana and Ohio and into Pennsylvania where Dad lives. Friday and Saturday they were in NYC - this part made me jealous!

I enjoyed plenty of time catching up with friends and family. Catching up way into the night with Gina; knitting and spinning at Heritage Farmstead with Laurie; Easter brunch with a group of friends; Easter dinner with family; a lovely afternoon with my cousins visiting from Nantucket; an evening with the "Chicken Whisperer" at the feed store in Waxahachie (yes); a small party with friends; White Rock Market (got some fresh baked bread); DFW Fiber Fest and the Main Street Arts Festival in Fort Worth with Janet. I love all the events of Springtime!

In between outings, the quiet and solitude of my time off has been renewing. I spent much of it outside in the garden. I went through all the old seed packets and seeds harvested from things I've grown. Some of them are 5 or 6 years old, but many are from last year. I planted: Birdhouse Gourd, Hyacinth Bean Vine, mixed squash (called "Summer of Squash"), loads of Morning Glories (I don't ever need to buy packets of these any more, they make so many seeds on their own), Alyssum, Comos, Zinnias, Sunflowers, corn, peas, basil and some cotton seeds (I believe they are from a trip out to west TX a few years ago, from the side of the road.
Then there was the battle of the Honeysuckle! It is so beautiful in the right places, but it is a choking vine. It had overtaken my rose garden. It was quite a job to get rid of it, let me tell you! I yanked and pulled and chopped until finally I think I got most of it. It forms giant matted roots that spread everywhere. No doubt there is still some lurking below the ground that will come back. But I'll be ready! 
On the left is actually Rosenary, not a Honeysuckle bush. On the right are the roses, free at last.

The vegetable garden is sprouting and growing; I am even harvesting some. I have wonderful young lettuce and spinach and yummy sweet peas.
Later in the season there will be aubergines (of course), tomatoes, canteloupes, black beans, strawberries, potatoes and far less time spent in the grocery store! 

09 April 2010

FOR HIRE: Real Estate Investor's or Agent's Assistant / Project Manager

What can I do for you? I can put time back into your day - time spent staging, prepping, overseeing jobsites, purchasing materials, researching properties, hosting open houses, marketing properties; I can do it for you. I can be at one property while you are at another. I can add the finishing touches to a property that isn't selling. I can check in on workers at a property while you are out sealing the next deal.
What can you do for me? You can look over my information below. You can consider how hiring me to work with you and your properties can improve your success. You can meet with me so we can get to know each other better and negotiate compensation that we both agree on - typically an hourly fee for my time and possibly a sales percentage. You can let me learn from your experience as we work together. You can relax and be happy with a job well done!

Altair Dr., Garland, TX, 2009
Property held by Investor, on market over 365 days; evaluated need for minor renovations including landscaping, exterior painting and interior staging; updated text and photographs for property listing; hosted open houses. Investor received contract for sale within three weeks.

Graham St., McKinney, TX, 2007
Purchased estate property; researched real estate market and design trends; analyzed needs and developed comprehensive plan and budget for complete restoration of property; hired and managed sub-contractors; acquired needed materials; staged house for sale and marketed property to prospective buyers; secured tenants and leased property prior to sale.

Extensively familiar with Dallas, Richardson and McKinney, TX neighborhoods.
Experienced in property research through Multiple Listing Service and County Appraisal District websites.
Strong interest in restoration and preservation of pre 1960’s homes.
Strong interest in green / sustainable remodel and design.
Currently researching available country / acreage properties for personal purchase.
Strong familiarity with rural McKinney, Fairview and Lucas, TX areas.
Ongoing restoration of personal residence, built in 1941.
Design and maintenance of organic flower and food gardens on personal property.
Will pursue Real Estate license in 2010.
Over twenty years professional experience and training in Early Childhood Education.
Extensive volunteer and non-profit experience.