Friday, October 21, 2011

Pony time, people.

This is a video that leaves me pretty speechless.  Beautiful horse, beautiful girl, beautiful place, beautiful music.  Jeez.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fabric on the way

I've been preoccupied with a couple of issues lately, namely a nasty cold and a pony injury.  But, the lovely home quest continues despite the negative stuff.

I uncovered a new source recently, Spoonflower.  They allow independent artists to upload designs and make them available in a variety of fabrics.  I've been eyeballing an antique bench in my living room for a year, trying to decide on a fabric choice and I finally found my fabric by one of their contributors, Kristopher K.

Can't wait to see it in person!  You can see more of her work here.  I'll be posting before & after pics soon.  I've also got a baby shower to host this summer, so I think some of my stalled-out projects will be picking up some momentum.  Gotta get to work!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer time

The heat is on in Texas.  We're almost to 100 this week.  Thoughts are turning to shorts, lazy afternoons, lemonade and swimming.

I came across this video today and I love the quiet joy, the sea crashing into the pool, the lack of apparent body-consciousness, the sense of community and warmth you can see in the individual faces.  I strive to find these moments in the public at large.  When you are lucky enough to find them, they are very moving.  Even better, if you can find your community, be it your neighbors, your sport or hobby, you will have a chance to capture these feeling more often AND invite others in.

sea pool from Jason Wingrove on Vimeo.

Also, the music is by a band called Air.  I'm a big fan. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Killer Tree Hugger

I'm about to commit a tree-hugger sin...I'm chopping down a tree.  This is a wordy post, but I need to cleanse my guilt and tell the whole story.

The dang-ole previous owners of my townhouse planted a Bald Cypress right smack in middle of my totally bare, grass-only, forlorn little yard. It was a composition sin for sure; no artful balance, the tree was the center of attention around which all other future plantings must revolve.

But, I don't kill trees, I preach trees.  The tree stayed.  The tree grew and MADE SHADE.

Slowly I began to replace all my aspirational blooming plants with shade loving shrubs that alternated texture and color. This plan was working, though not very exciting.   Finally, I got a dog. He's 80 lbs of rescued love in a weird, skinny greyhound body. He also has paws and bathroom needs. Have you ever seen a greyhound doing his business? Imagine a skinny, naked old man squatting in your yard and you'll get the idea.

Anyway, this paw/bathroom combo revealed a new hole in my garden plan. As tree grew and shade plants began to thrive, it follows that I began to lose grass and thus the hound was tracking mud into my house.  A towel lives beside my back door to wipe paws, which the dog equates with being beaten.  It's trauma for everyone.

This situation is not going to improve. The tree groweth! I'm not going to turn on some massive, chemical fertilizing, watering program just to force some somewhat shade tolerant grass to live in near darkness. I hate the idea of having a paved, mulch or or pea gravel yard, not to mention the horror of cleaning up after the dog in that scenario. Also, with my quest to start feeding the fauna, I need some light back there.

My tree is now approximately 30 feet tall. I can't get a picture of the whole thing because my yard is too small to let me back up far enough. Here's an idea of what it looks like:


Possible Tree Height: 50 ft. - 160 ft.
Possible Tree Spread: 20 ft. - 30 ft.
Yard size:   20ft. x 30 ft.

Mega tree + tiny yard = STUPID 

Bald Cypress throw up "knees" as part of their oxygen process.  As much as it would amuse me to introduce my guests to a garden resembling a Tim Burton set for the devil's lair, I think I'm going for something less stabby:

They can also swallow children whole:

Um, no.

So, tree chopping it is.  It's should happen within a week.  I'm pretty sure I will cry.  Once the tree is gone my new plant haul can thrive.  I'm pretty excited about that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sprechen sie Books? The Good Earth - a review

These days with our ever-expanding populations and metro areas, I get a little down on "progress".  I tend to fantasize that a provincial existence, complete with farming and wide open spaces is a better place for all of us.  So, I am frequently seeking out books and images that take me there (see previous book post and home set in the Hebrides of Scotland).  A good friend of mine recommended the Good Earth by Pearl Buck.  Somehow, I am the only person I know that didn't read this book in high school and boy, did I miss out.  This one may go down as one of my all time favorites. 

It's historical fiction set in China, I'm guessing in the late 19th century.  It's a window into Chinese culture for both the wealthy and the poor, primarily the farming life of Wang Lung and his progress starting as a poor farmer, to husband, father and businessman. There appears to be considerable literary debate regarding the validity of a western author's view on rural life in China (she did grow up in China). I would say that her approach did dehumanize her subjects to an extent and I hope that women's status was, in reality, a little more improved than featured here.

This is a easy read, quick and engrossing.  I couldn't wait to get my nose in it each evening and at one point, I started craving plain white rice in a big way.  Dearest, I want rice gruel for dinner tonight, tomorrow and so on... However, this is no slouch on the smarty list - Pearl Buck received the Pulitzer Prize for this book AND a Nobel Peace Prize.  Also, the book was a huge best seller in the 1930's and is sometimes credited for bringing about the US' involvement in the war.

Bottom line, me likey, A LOT. With the way the world has shrunk due to our new modes of communications, I'm happy that there are still mysteries in my mind for me to unravel...places of foolishness and fantasy in my brain that I get to tease out and educate according to actual realities.  China's history and the life people may have lead there was one of these missing pieces for me.  This book was a wealth of understanding and  reading it was an empathy building experience.  I hope I keep finding more books like this and I am so glad that the arts, films and books continue to flesh out these moments in history that make us what we are now.

Please visit Stuck In A Book for a more thorough content review.  Also, per my best-girl Stephanie's advice, you might want to revisit the movie, The Last Emporer, once you are done reading.  I did and it was SO satisfying to see all of the traditions, artwork and wardrobe in motion and full color.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Le Weekend - Butterflies

I've been meaning to get more involved my town for some time now, but the life of the horse owner is pretty much about horses only.  They need a lot of exercise.  For this and 50 other reasons, I do my best to talk people out of horse ownership.

Anyhoo...I skipped a horse day this weekend to take advantage of an annual event at the Dallas Discovery Gardens: the Butterfly Plant Sale.  In case you didn't know, the Dallas Discovery Gardens is a totally organic venture featuring 7.5 acres of extreme-o beautiful gardens with native species.  It was lurve at first sight:

I can't believe I waited so long to check it out.  I have a friend who is a member/volunteer at the garden and has taken to giving me an annual ribbing to get my act together and visit (it should be noted that this year, I did subject him to some speechifyin' on being-a-committed-horse-owner-so-weekends-aren't-flexible-blah-blah-blah).  But, once I had satisfied myself by lecturing Gregg, I did end up going. So, here are the highlights:

  • my hair looked awesome in the 99% humidity
  • so did everyone else's hair
  • there were TONS of hard-to-find plants that either feed or host butterflies...check out the list here 
  • there was a super knowledgable plant dude who gave us all kinds of tips and facts; my hubby and I referred to him as "The Guru", who was equal parts cowboy (heavy Texas accent, weathered skin, rough ranch hands, missing knuckle on right hand), hippy (long hair, weird draw string hiking cargo pants, hiking boots), handsome (chiseled features), eastern sage (straw rice paddy hat),and uber-plant-nerd (see former and latter)
  • a chance to visit the Butterfly House, an enclosed butterfly habitat where you can wander and discover all the gorgeous creatures hiding and fluttering about

One of the reasons I was so motivated to attend the plant sale is because I'm determined to make my little yard a mini-haven for native species.  It doesn't sit well with me that so many plants and creatures are in such a survival crisis.  At my home, I can control my environment, so why not take it to a place that serves what was here before me?  Less than 1% of Texas' 268,580 square miles is native prairie, due to agriculture and population sprawl.  That's so utterly awful and sad.  So, I'm taking the small steps necessary to feed the creatures and put native plants in place of my useless, mostly Asian garden.  Here's the haul from the plant sale:

I mistakenly thought that all of the plants would be Texas natives, but quite a few weren't.  Those from other regions are adapted food sources for native species, so that's not so bad.  I'll save the planting results for later, cause right now there's a big issue to address in my little yard; namely an ill sited, ill chosen tree that's causing so much shade that my yard is more akin to a mud apocalypse than native retreat.

Lastly, if you missed the plant sale, you will be happy to know (WOOT WOOT!), there's a bonus sale on June 4th this year.  I'm so there. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Droolworthy houses

I have a hard time defining what my ideal home or style would be.  For one, it changes often.  Also, there's so much creativity out there that my notions are constantly being challenged.  I think that's a good thing.  This week the NYT featured two house tours that had me in fits.  Both are wonderful examples of a marriage between new and old.  Doesn't hurt to have the dreamy landscapes, hundreds of years of history, and locations in Scotland and Austria either.  Enjoy...