Monday, June 29, 2009

What I Did Sunday...

I spent the rest of the weekend redoing the flower beds out back. First I removed the old mulch, which was so dry it could be simply lifted off in whole plates, then I turned all the soil, with a pitchfork and a trowel, to a depth of about a foot, which it badly needed. It had become so compacted; it was like cement. I scooped out big gobs of clay, and actually quite a lot of soil from the one bed, then I planted black eyed susans, which are sassy and gorgeous; moved the Gerbera daisies leftover from Alex and Chris’s wedding, 4 of which are still going strong, and also moved half a dozen yellow mums from a couple of falls ago. I planted the black-eyed susan vine and put in a metal trellis for it, and I moved a jasmine vine, which had survived in spite of itself. I hope both those vines take; the black eyed susan because I love the look of it, and the jasmine because I love the scent. When I finished all of that, I watered like crazy and then applied several inches of mulch. The beds look great; I may post some pics later.

I made another big bowl of pasta pugliese, but this time I used kalamatas from a jar and I added some smoked mozzarella as well as plain. It’ll be ready to eat tomorrow, when the flavors have melded together a bit.

It was close to a hundred degrees today as I worked on my flower beds. The sun was behind the house by the time I started, so I wasn’t in direct sunlight, but despite the heat I wore a shirt, long jeans and socks with crocs to protect myself from insects and any poison ivy I might encounter. It’s abundant here in Texas, as I’ve learned the hard way. I got fairly dehydrated, but all in all, I've decided covering up is the way to go on a project like this. Eventually I stopped to have some dinner: a salad of black beans, corn, jicama, red pepper, and onion in olive oil, washed down by glasses and glasses of ice water. I swear nothing ever tasted so delicious.

And the flower beds look GREAT.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things I Did Friday and Saturday

I'm a nester, and I love my house, but...that said, there are always jobs that need to be done. Here are a few I've taken care of so far this weekend.

1. I had the front door fixed, finally. The front door of my house is huge: 4' wide, 7' tall, almost 3" thick. It was getting harder and harder to close, and I wasn't sure why. It turned out it was because it was sagging on the top two hinges. The problem was solved by replacing the 3 1/2" screws with 4 1/2" screws. The door now shuts better than it has in the entire 25 years I've lived here.

2. I had the genie on the garage door fixed. The capacitor needed to be replaced, and the limits reset. It now works beautifully.

3. I restained the front deck, first coat anyway. It looks like it's going to require a second coat.

4. I bought some more coneflowers (echinacea) and some black-eyed susans, and planted them in one of the flower beds in front.

5. I bought some more skullcap plants (scutelleria suffrutescens) for the west side of the house. This is a wonderful perennial that's hard to find. I recommend it to anyone who claims they don't have a green thumb, because the more you abuse it, the more it thrives.

6. I began cleaning out the flower beds on the back of the house, where I intend to plant more coneflowers and black eyed susans.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

So the King of Pop has died, at the relatively young age of 50. Pop is not my music, so I was never a big fan myself, but my girls loved him when they were young, and tonight, driving home in the sweltering heat, I turned from NPR to a pop station and listened to several songs from when he was still quite young. Whatever else he was, Michael Jackson was incredibly talented, there's no doubt about it. He was an adorable little boy with an amazing voice, and there was so much energy and promise and yes, sweetness, in those early songs.

But somewhere along the way, in spite of his incredible talent, something went terribly wrong. I'm not going to speculate on his weirdness, either what caused it or how it manifested itself. His psychopathology did not negate his amazing talent. But it was a bizarre combination, all that talent and all that psychopathology. About ten years ago I was doing a psych eval on a 7 year old boy, and he made a comment that captured the tragedy of Michael Jackson's life very eloquently. This was a very anxious little 7 year old, and I was asking him what kind of things scared him. Thunder, of course. Darkness. Things that go bump in the night.

"Anything else?"
I asked.

He hesitated.

"It's OK, " I said, "you can tell me."

"Well," he said, looking up at me..."Michael Jackson...Michael Jackson really scares me" .

Yeah. Despite all that amazing talent.

So incredibly sad.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Things...

Here are a few of the things that I love most about summer:

1. Sunflowers. Aren't they gorgeous? Every week I buy a bunch at the grocery store, and put them in a tall narrow vase in my kitchen. I feel good every time I look at them.

2. Cicadas. They've finally started singing in the trees at night, and I love stepping outside and hearing them.

3. Thunbergia, or Black Eyed Susan vine. I telecommuted today, and having cut 3 hours of driving out of my day, after work I took a quick trip to a nursery that's close to my house to look at plants. I was over the moon to find one of these vines with orange flowers, wilting a bit in the heat (it was just under a hundred degrees today). I bought the plant, brought it home, and drenched it before taking this pic. Isn't it beautiful? This weekend I'll pick up a trellis and plant it in a sunny spot.

4. Ice tea. I make it with mint and my house is fragrant with the scent of it right now. Mike called last week from Arizona for the recipe, so I know it's good.

5. Pasta salads. In 1985 there was a restaurant in Dallas called Massimo's, and they had wonderful pasta salads, including one made with penne pasta, fresh basil, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and mozzarella called Pasta Pugliese. Massimo's eventually closed, but somewhere along the way, the recipe for the ever popular Pasta Pugliese was published in the paper. Tonight I made it for dinner.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the inimitable Joe Cocker...

Tonight I went to the Meyerson and heard Joe Cocker. The Meyerson's seating capacity is 2062, and it was close to sold out. Cocker is now 65, but the inimitable, gravelly voice is still going strong, as is the air guitar, and the combination made me happily aware that he's clearly still quite capable of rocking my gypsy soul. He pretty much brought down the house with You Can Leave Your Hat On, and when he sang You Are So Beautiful...well, when Cocker sings that song, and his voice breaks a little over the lyrics, it's like he's singing it to you, personally. I've been a fan since I was a teenager, but I'd never heard him live. He was definitely worth the wait.