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  • Archive for August, 2011

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    Chris didn’t waste time finding the community garden where we could get some plots. The garden itself is different than the one my mom and brother have at the Common Grounds garden, a bit differently run and definitely less activity from individuals. In fact, we were able to score two plots for ourselves and then Chris is working on four other empty plots since no one else is managing them. The extra food grown will go to the food bank next to the plot. Another difference is that we barely see anyone else tending their crops other than a few people, and even those people will water everyone else’s plots, which seems weird because it almost incurs less interest for those plot owners to come to tend their own garden. *anyway*…

    Some of what we’ve planted.

    Here’s a little tour of the place:

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    Loved playing with the perspective on this!

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    Leo and Samson came home with us last weekend. They’d been at my parents’ house for a year and a half, far longer than I’d initially imagined. Since then they’d eased into life with my folks, and had been a good fill in for when Red, my parents’ cat, lost his sister Yoda last year. I think it helped ease the loneliness.

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    And Leo, the most rascally of the two cats, came to not whack my parents unless especially spooked or ready to rough house. He also learned to give them head butts, something we are mostly able to do on command with him by making kissing noises at him. He’s a goofy cat! Anyway, he’s fitting in well at the new place, Samson too. Though the first morning they were there Leo woke up an extra two hours before we did and made a noisy, whiny racket.

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    Between work and getting things settled in we made it to the library. Or, I should say I made it to the library. Chris had already been there, just about every day since we moved in. We are having a doozy of a time finding someone to service internet to our house so he is using the library to search for jobs. Finally on Monday I was able to go because they are open late that night and we got library cards. I was in my realm then. I checked out the book above, which is really good so far, and picked out a few vegetarian cook books and one book on plant bulbs. I spied a zillion other books I want to read, including Between a Rock and Hard Place, aka: the 127 Hours movie. We recently rented the movie at RedBox and so now I want to read the book. Normally I do it the other way around—I’m currently seeking The Help, but the library has a wait list of 200+ and the used book store didn’t even have it. Anyone out there have a copy they’ve read and want to send it to me media mail? I’ll return it if you want, or I’ll put it back in circulation at the used book store.

    The best part about settling in was getting our king bed. Since we have been married we’ve slept on a full sized hand-me-down bed. Because we’d rented for so long we’ve put off buying grown up furniture for years. When we moved we got rid of most of our furniture, including our bed, and so that forced us to break down and get a good bed. Oh, why did we wait 9 years?! This bed is the best!

    We haven’t had much of a chance to explore the area yet, but hopefully soon. We’ve got a few creeks and parks we want to check out, though. I’ve got a project up my sleeve—something I’m not willing to debut yet because, well, it’s going to be a very long and intensive project. No, NOT a baby—but it could be likened to that. It is something I have not really taken seriously until now and I’m finding it more difficult than I’d even imagined. Hopefully I can make some decent head way with it and get to a point that I’ll write about it.

    I traveled to the Texas Panhandle late last week for work, so I’ll have a post up about that later on this week!

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    While we were doing our field work in the Big Thicket this late spring and early summer we kept coming across this plant in its pre-blooming stage. No one could figure it out until finally it was identified by Ron Lance. And not much later the plant started blooming and it was beautiful! The tell-tale white stripe in the leaves helped us identify it later on without blooms.

    This particular plant was photographed at Tandy Hills. I was relieved to see a plant I knew among the many unknown prairie plants that abound the preserve. There were a couple of bugs we tried to photograph that were hanging out on the purple inflorescence but I didn’t get any spectacular shots.

    More info:
    +Illinois Wildflowers
    +Wildflower.org
    +USDA plant database
    +Seeds from Prairie Moon—can’t verify the company since I’ve never ordered from them, but if you are looking for your garden, here’s an option.
    +Houston Audubon

    Our new place doesn’t really offer us any place to grow anything, though our landlord, who lives next door, offered to till up some space for us. Since we are only hoping to stay six months before finding a place to buy we didn’t want to mess up his yard for that short period of time.

    So, Chris did some research and found the local community garden, Helping Hands. We are set up with two of our own personal plots and will be taking care of three additional plots until someone else gets those. In addition to growing our own vegetables and fruits, leftovers and extras will go to the food bank which is located next door. The three plots we are taking care of additionally will be mostly to provide food for the food bank.

    Anyway, I’ll do a bigger tour of the garden in the coming weeks when things are growing and talk about what kind of conditions we will be dealing with. Until then here’s what has been planted and what we are looking forward to having in a few months!

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    I didn’t get photos of these seeds because Chris planted all of them. They were left overs from last year that the garden manager said we could use for the three community plots.

    Hoping we get lots of veggies to eat! I’m looking forward to making pickles with the cucumbers!

    *Ok, nearly wordless, but the next several Wednesdays will be from the trip, so they will be wordless. I worked at Moody Gardens in 2001-2002, my senior year of college, as an Interpretive Naturalist, the people who man the touch tanks and talk about the exhibits. We recently went back for a visit a few months ago. The aquarium was still the same, the same smell, the same sounds, and mostly the same exhibits, but the rainforest was completely re-done after Hurricane Ike did some flood damage to it a few years ago. Here’s some of what we saw.*

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    Chris planted pumpkins seeds at my mom and dad’s house before we moved. Here’s a bit of the chronology of the first few weeks. We’re guessing they will be ready around Thanksgiving.

    I’ve never had luck with pumpkins in Florida, bugs got to them fast and even if they lived long enough to bloom, nothing was pollinated. I’m interested to see what kind of luck with have with these.

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    Casper and Big Max were the seeds of choice.

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    Anyone had luck with pumpkins? I’m interested in organic methods, too. Please share!

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    Last weekend we moved to our new house in far-far-far Northwest Houston. So far out we’re not even in Harris county, but we’re close enough to all of the far suburbs that it is easier to call it Houston. Except we’re in the ‘country’. There are more country-ish places out there, but this is pretty much the most country place we’ve ever lived except the hotel we stayed at in San Augustine, Tx last fall for work. *That* was country.

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    We were out in the nearest big town to us, Tomball, checking on various things like furniture and getting the various sundry items to fill up the house so it is livable. We’d stopped in at an antique store looking for desk chairs and bookshelves when we poked in one of the vendors stands and saw fresh eggs from the owner’s own chickens. They were $2.50 for 18 eggs, which I thought was a bargain for locally grown (who knows if it was organic…) eggs. We had other errands to run so we swung back by on the way home to pick up eggs.

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    The eggs are still on the small side; he said the chickens were in their first rounds of eggs so they were expecting to lay bigger ones in the coming weeks. I thought that 18 eggs would last us at least two weeks, but we only have four left! We’ve made two loaves of bread and eaten several eggs a few mornings last week, using them on English muffins or making our own breakfast burritos.

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    The town we’re in also has a farmers market twice a month. We were excited about this, hoping to score some local produce. We were disappointed to see that not much on the produce side was there, however we did see other local vendors. Texas has a Go Texan emblem and site that promotes buying Texas made items. All of these items are from Texas! Well, I’m not sure how much of all the ingredients in the bbq sauce is, but it was assembled here. And the goat cheese was from Texas goats (haven’t tried it yet, we’d just bought some at the grocery store the night before so we ate that first) and the olive oil was from olive trees on the Olivero Farms property. The olive guy had olive oil soaps and lotion, so when we run out of what we have from the store I think I would love to try their items out.

    +King of the Pit BBQ
    +Blue Heron Farms
    +Olivero Farms

    The other nice thing about the country is that deer come into our yard in the mornings and evenings. It is nice to see some wildlife! We’ve also had a few rabbits and I saw a hawk fly over one morning. I’m sure we’ll see more wildlife in the coming months!

    My nephew was born on Thursday making me an aunt for the third time. Chris and I drove back to DFW for the weekend to spend time with the family and meet the latest member of the clan. He is *so* sweet! I was glad that Chris got to see him as an infant since he did not meet Zoe, our niece, until she was a year and a half. I took a zillion photos but I pulled these out quickly to post. I’ll be going through more of them this week.

    Low light conditions for the most part kept me at ISO 800 or 1600, though I was able to utilize my faster 50mm lens for some good shots. Hoping I can get some more photos of everyone in better light before we head back home.

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    Curt, Grayson’s dad, giving him a bottle.

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    Uncle Chris with Grayson

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    Chris with Grayson

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    Dad and son (*love* this one)

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    Pulling a Whitlock self portrait…(Whitlock is my maiden name)

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    Mimi (my mom) and Uncle Chris loving over the kid in the bassinet. Chris had just said “He’s so cute!” and my mom had a fit about it! heheh!

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    Chris took this one for me…he got a bunch of shots on his camera but will process this later this week. Excited to see what he got with the macro lens.

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    Big sis talking about stinky diapers

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    Zoe having a fit with PawPaw, my dad. I wanted to get a photo of them together but she wasn’t having it.

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    I took a bunch of these two together but didn’t look closely at the best ones, just wanted to show a few of them together.

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    Was trying to capture Zoe making her face and get the whole thing in shot but I ended up focusing on the hands instead—that’s what happens when kids are moving so fast! I’ll have to pick through and see if any other came out, but I liked the set up of this one.

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    Poppy, my sister in law’s dad, and Zoe.

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    Dressed for home—his pants are too big for him and they are preemie sized! He’s an itty bitty thing!

    *love* this little kid! I can’t wait to get to know him and see how Zoe interacts with him. Glad I live only four hours away instead of an airplane ride away so I can see him grow up more often!

    This week I’m going to look for some of the photos I took of Zoe four days after she was born and compare them to Grayson and see how much they look alike! He also looks like his other sister Ashleigh. It would’ve been fun to have two sisters in the room today with their brother…

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    This annual Texas native is not very common, though we did see the ones shown above at Tandy Hills. The subtle blue-purple flower deserves more respect than it gets, being out shown by other grand Texas natives like the bluebonnet. You may know this genus as also Lisianthus, which can be found at garden centers. Wildflower.org suggests their rarity is due to their beautiful stature and having been picked too much that they cannot reseed. In the gardening world there are many varieties and cultivars, so you’ll be able to find some variety.

    More information:
    +A really good write up on the Eustoma genus and the differences regarding the species.
    +Info on propagation from seed
    +Wildflower.org information.

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