Our Little Yard Guest

yard guest

We are in the process of redoing my mother-in-laws front, back and side yards. And there is a ton of work to do, after years of neglect due to age and health, Royce and I have tackled something we may not be prepared to do. But, we’re totally committed so new fences to new grass and plants are going in over three growing seasons. There is so much to do it will take that long! This year is the first season of our renovations for her. We are beginning by focusing on the lawn. In the Texas panhandle this is a tall order, apparently, especially when her old lawn has laid dormant for nearly ten years. The only spot to show any old growth after a month of watering is this small patch in the middle of the back yard. We are still waiting for the grass seed to sprout (fingers crossed it does — we’ve had more than the average amount of sand storms this season so our neighbors just may be the proud recipient of a new lawn!) This morning Royce mowed this one little patch of grass and this afternoon an extremely plump bunny settled in and feasted on the clippings.  I think I’d best put a fence around the newly planted garden!

garden Yes, folks that is red clay and sand in them there rows! But we have corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, sweet basil, peppers, okra, red onions and even some flowers here and there.

I’m also putting in a few flower/hardscaps beds in around her long front porch and upgrading some furniture she has out there. Early mornings and late afternoons, Royce and I love setting on her front porch and watching all the birds and rabbits — that our dog Spike chases out of the yard — enjoying each others company and the ever present Texas plains breeze.

 

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Gardening in Shallowater, Texas

Gardening in Shallowater, Texas is going to be a bit different. The soil isn’t as nice as I am use to in the Carolinian’s wonderful region I sprout from nor is it close to what I experienced around the Dayton, Ohio area I gardened in the past three years. Royce will be behind a rototiller digging down into this mix of  soil — some sand, a lot of clay and who knows what else. The earth is so dry he’ll have to soak it right-much to be able to till it up at all. I am thankful his hands will be doing this task!

When it comes to soil in Shallowater, I have yet to decide exactly what I am dealing with. I do know one thing for sure and for certain, the weeds (tumbleweeds and rag weeds) will be a nuisance as will the amount of clay in the soil. I’ve dealt with clay before and done well with that soil but then I have also amended the soil to suit each plot of veggies I planted. For instance, carrots like a more sandy/loamy soil while okra will do fine planted in soil which has clay in it.

I am reminded of the very first garden I helped plant. It was with my Granny Roxie Donnell. She was an avid gardener and a true friend to any living creature and/or plant, a true gift to Mother Nature she was. Besides teaching me to quilt Granny taught me to garden, or as she put it, farm a small section. Her section for vegetables was a 4,800 square foot rectangle between her house and the one we lived in. In addition to the vegetable plot she had a 2,400 square foot one planted with cutting flowers. Gosh, I remember how wonderful her house always smelled. The summer we lived in the small two bedroom house in Danville, I wore out that path through the vegetable garden between Granny’s place and ours. Granny always smiled when she saw me coming, never complained about my presence and just took it in stride that she had a little admirer she could mold.  And mold me she did! I owe my love of gardening to the time I spent stooped over one plant or another learning about its, as Granny put it_ likes and dislikes to make it happy.

When I first began to garden, away from Granny, totally on my own, during my early twenties, I had two pots on my patio, one of some flower I have long since forgotten the name of, and one large pot for a big boy tomato plant. Each was such a success I was on the telephone claiming my bragging rights to my granny, and any one else that would listen for that matter. My love of gardening grew from there. Yours will as well, if you give it time and effort. Even for a first year garden if you lay out a vegetable garden properly, the garden will produce a high yield bounty of wonderful vegetables for you. Make sure to test the soil for pH and amend as needed for what you will plant in each section …. don’t worry about ”being fancy” about design your first year out of the gate. Over time your garden will take shape. Begin small and build upon your success each year.

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It’s important to factor in how much sun your vegetable garden will receive each day. Most gardens require a minimum of six to eight hours to produce well.

Charting your garden area for proper sun exposure is key to a successful vegetable garden. It is as important as water! Vegetable plants need good air circulation, good hydration and good sun exposure to grow into healthy plants that will produce a bountiful crop. Don’t give  up — you’ll get the hang of it sooner than later. Be sparing with the garden hose. Most vegetable plants only need one inch of water per week. Water requirements are easily obtained on the Internet or at your local extension office, who will also do a soil test for  you. Plant vegetable companions for best results.  For years I have planted sweet basil and marigolds in amongst my tomato plants but kept any broccoli a distance away. Look at it this way: I never served, or had served to me tomatoes and broccoli  in a the same bowl — these two are a foe! (see chart below for more suggestions)

FRIEND FOE FRIEND FOE FRIEND FOE
BEANS CORN ONIONS
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Squash
Strawberries
Summer
savory
Tomatoes
Garlic
Onions
Peppers
Sunflowers
Beans
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Melons
Peas
Potatoes
Squash
Sunflowers
Tomatoes Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Lettuce
Peppers
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Peas
Sage
CUCUMBERS PEPPERS
Beans
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Lettuce
Peas
Radishes
Sunflowers
Aromatic
herbs
Melons
Potatoes
Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CABBAGE LETTUCE RADISHES
Beans
Celery
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Onions
Potatoes
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Asparagus
Beets
Brussels
sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
Broccoli Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CARROTS TOMATOES
Beans
Lettuce
Onions
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Tomatoes
Anise
Dill
Parsley
Asparagus
Basil
Beans
Borage
Carrots
Celery
Dill
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radishes
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Brussels
sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Kale
Potatoes

 

Snapshot of a small Texas Town

In my humble opinion small towns are the most wonderful places to live. Shallowater, Texas is such a place. It is a place where people call you by your first name proceeded by a Mr. or a Ms. — “Well a big howdy to you Mr. Royce” “It’s a beautiful day Ms. Marilu” … Yes, somehow (if only to me) living life in a small town is better and kinder on the soul. The air is cleaner and the ground is smoother under your feet. Even if there are a mountain of weeds and some pretty large tumbleweeds to contend with around here, I prefer it here over larger communities. Oh, and yes and the wind! Oh, my word, the wind can blow me over at times. I wasn’t quite prepared for this, actually. Last Sunday was a beautiful day, Royce and I were setting on the porch swing taking it all in when the wind (and accompanying sand) blew us back inside. But, every place has its goods and not so goods about it. So I adjusted and decided to fall in love with the goods, and ignore the not so goods, as in more colours of brown than green, the bloody dust storms, tumbleweeds and dryer humidity than I am use to. Besides, the goods really do outweigh the not so goods. Where else on this planet could I find as many wonderful folks to call my new friends than I have found here. So, I think we’ll stay put for a time here in Shallowater and I’ll continue to focus on the positive.

Shallowater is a city in Lubbock County, Texas, United States. Shallowater is on U.S. Route 84 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Lubbock. The population was 2,484 at the 2010 census.[2] It is part of the Lubbock Metropolitan Statistical Area. Shallowater is located on the high plains of the Llano Estacado which lies at the southern end of the Western High Plains ecoregion of the Great Plains of North America.

We just call it the lower Texas Panhandle here in these parts and expect everyone to know what we are talking about!

250px-Relief_map_of_Texas256px-LlanoEstacadoShadedRelief300px-Northwest_Escarpment_Llano_Estacado_2003 This gives you a view of the Llano Estacado Region. As you can see it is wedged in the panhandle region (near Lubbock) and the area is rather flat with sparse vegetation, and with a lot of Tumbleweeds and Mesquite trees.

our m tree

This lovely Mesquite is one of several we have on the property. It has yet to leaf out but I can see signs of life.

A traveler driving down highway 84 to the south of Shallowater might not notice that they are passing by this little town. In actuality, it is a tiny pen-point on a large map. But if they were to notice and stop I think the few minutes it takes to tour our little downtown area would please them and might even give them a dose of nostalgia as they looked at some of these old abandoned buildings  .. I am always wondering what went on in those buildings one hundred years ago. My soon-to-be mother-in-law Ruth is quick to fill me in on a few of them. These days the businesses that thrive here in Shallowater do so because we Shallowaterians frequent them to make sure their doors remain open! It’s nice that I don’t need to drive the short trip into Lubbock to pick up a gallon of milk, or fill the tank with petrol and the shop keepers here are so friendly you want to shop here. So, if the traveler moving down Highway 84 took the time to stop I’m sure s/he’d be impressed by — if nothing else — the friendliness of the folks here.

So, if you are ever in my neck of the woods traveling down Highway 84 going east to west — just a stones throw outside the city limits of Lubbock — don’t blink. Don’t miss our little town of Shallowater. Stop. Stop and grab some apples to nibble on your way to somewhere else.

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4 Corners Mart in Shallowater, Texas

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Here’s a picture of those enticing apples to nibble

 

 

Of course if you are in need of a bandage because you touched your hot tail pipe like I did once a stop here>>>1514415_10151871245281404_1748970320_n 1013297_10151870522861404_1113691499_nmight do you good. The Shallowater Clinic with adjoining pharmacy would surely take care of you as if you belonged here. And that’s a promise.

Or perhaps (i-am thinking outside the box here) but what if the poor traveler’s hair is a mess — in that case I’d suggest pulling off Highway 84 and into Sweet Currey Salon.

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Sweet Currey. You can get your hair and nails done at this shop for slim pic-kins to your pocket.

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See, they do a wonderful job! This is me on the 40th Anniversary of my 29th Birthday (somehow it seems kinder to my soul to think this way) …. Sweet Currey did a marvelous job.

 

A few other places of interest will be talked about in next weeks post, if I get around to it. index

Then again I might talk about Shiann — for she is needing to be talked about.

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Shiann is the most adorable #11 grandchild I have!

Finally…..the computer is up and running……

…….and hopefully, it isn’t running away from me! Although, at times, I wish it would fly out the window to greener pastures (Guam, Virgin Islands, etc.) where I could set under a tall shade tree sipping “courage-liquid in a tall glass with one of those cute little umbrellas in it” but alas, were I am is in the great state of T-E-X-A-S where the trees are as tall as the nearest fence post, which are by the way the state’s substitute for said trees I grew so fond of whilst living in the Eastern and Southern US states. I prefer green to brown any day! I shan’t even approach the subject of dust storms, the voluminous light breezes the locals have grown so accustom to, nor will I approach the fact that the air is so dry-dry-dry my skin is shrinking and quickly becoming rather wrinkled.

Lotion? Yes, I have bottles of the stuff but thus far, three weeks and counting into my stay the lotion isn’t doing its job!

So what is holding me here? That is a very good question and one I’m going to gleefully answer. He stands about one inch (give or take) above six feet and has a weird mustache I’d dearly love to remove (during the dead of night, with sheers, as he sleeps) but will leave alone because I’m smart that way. Besides, he hasn’t as suggested how he’d like me to cut my hair, so………

Smart women don’t mess with a Texan’s handlebars.

Another reason is simply that I am totally and head over heals in love with the dude from Shallowater . . . and this in and of itself plants my slippers firmly beside his. Besides, today when he said I was beautiful and the way he said it, (he may need new glasses) when I didn’t have a stitch of make-up on, wore a p.j. top covered by a zipped up workout jacket, hair kind-of-combed, and (dare I say it) slouching over the kitchen sink like a three year old would do, I knew I’d made the best choice of my life and all the dryness, the brown flat landscape and breezes anyone else in their right mind would call a good strong wind coming through vaporized. Those things weren’t important any longer. What became crystal clear was how important I am to him and in turn how important he is to me and it doesn’t matter if this land of dust is called home, or a mountain top somewhere where the kids can’t visit (well, maybe not that/there!!) the thing that matters is that for the remaining years I grace this planet Mother Earth, home is where he is, and I’m happy with that.

Comedic Labor Cakes

In 1966 my husband Bob and I were stationed at James Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas. I was already pregnant with our first child when we arrived that year. We spent our months there in furnished base housing. The base was due to close the following year which meant most of the airmen had been or were soon to be reassigned. In fact, soon after we arrived, we had our orders for George AFB in California. George is where our second daughter was born, which was another dry and desolate place to live, but I digress;

Waco, Texas — where flies grow to the size of hummingbirds and will bite you! — is a dry dry land, located in central Texas, in fact the town is nicknamed ”The Heart of Texas”  because of its location.  If I recall, Texas was experiencing a heat wave in 1966. If not a heat wave, it was the closest thing to one I’d experienced in a long time because it was awfully hot that summer with temperatures reaching well into the high nineties and low one-hundreds. Except for the people I met on base I did not find much to be thankful for in the city of Waco, Texas. But, my military sisters were some really remarkable, fun-loving, providers of constant comic relief, overly protective of new Mum’s tummy (er mine), and exceptionally supportive women I’ve ever met. They all became my close friends, for a time.

One Saturday my husband Bob, encouraged me to ride with him over to his commander’s housing a few streets away from ours. He insisted I go with him to ‘keep him company’ and that we’d go do something after. Really? Keeping Bob company? I was mighty suspicious — and proven correct; it was actually a surprise Baby Shower for me!  Bob was so proud of himself for pulling one over on me. Got to love that man! He was a very good husband — well, until he wasn’t . . . another digression . . .

His laughter that afternoon is a heartwarming memory of mine.  I think Bob had more fun delivering me to my shower than I did attending it.  Another memory that day was my cake. Not like the one pictured here but honestly just as cleaver. You see my first was due around St. Pat’s Day, I’m Irish! The commander’s wife made the cake and took liberties with the wording . . . I can say the cake was delicious, at least the piece I ate of the baby’s bottom on it was delicious!

If you are giving someone a baby shower why not be ‘cleaver’ with the cake! Trust me: memories are important, hand them out as often as you can :)