Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy 11th Birthday Greta!

Yesterday was Greta's birthday...

In honor, a couple of favorite photos of her.  We didn't do anything special, except an extra long walk and extra long snuggles on the rug... because we all know that every day is a party for her!

With her old friend Tahoe

You're livin' the life!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Local Cemetery Tour

If cemetaries wig you out, this post may not be for you...

Me?  I've long had a love for old cemeteries.  I love reading the old headstones and piecing together families, and looking at ages of the family members, and wondering what happened in their lives.  Why?  No idea.  I am not a history lover, except, it appears, I do love the history of my house.

Anyway, I decided to see if I could find the grave of Buck, the guy who died in my house. (I can hear it -- a collective groan by all my friends and relatives.  I'm weird.  I know that.  I'll own it.)   His obit listed the cemetary, so I got in my car and headed north.  It didn't take me long to get there -- 20 minutes maybe.

I waltzed into the information office, and handed them Buck's obit, and asked if they could help me find his space.  They were extremely helpful, and when they learned why I was looking for it, they thought it was cool.  In no time I was outfitted with maps:

And then I was in my car, following John ("Community Service Counselor") in his golf cart out to "Section S".  Who knew I would get an escort?  Sweet.

Although several sections of this cemetery are quite old, there aren't any of the cool statues and monuments that old cemetaries usually have -- that was disappointing.  All the headstones are the flat ones that facilitate mowing.  I guess I "get" that, but I think it's sad.  It's certainly boring.  (As an aside, a friend of mine restores old headstones in cemeteries for his job -- I would love love love to go to work with him one day!  He gets calls from all sorts of really old cemeteries...)

At any rate, in no time at all we were at Section S.  It was blistering hot out -- and I didn't bring a hat with me -- I didn't really plan on doing this yesterday.  Maps in hand we ventured out into the sun on the crispy brown grass.  Looking .... looking ... and then we found it.  Or, them, as it turned out:

Here's Buck's:

Then I saw Nettie next to him -- I didn't know if she had passed or not (obviously, yes.)

And then, sadly their son was next to her; he was only 31.

Some random observations...

I think it's sort of odd that only the birth and death years are listed, as opposed to month/day/year.  But I suppose it's less expensive.

I guess Nettie didn't have middle name.

John and I decided that when Scott Jr. passed, his parents' headstones were updated so that all three matched; seeing as how they are identical both in design and weather-wear. 

We figured Scott Jr. wasn't married at the time of his death, since no space was left near him for his wife. 

Buck's headstone has a Mason (or Shriner, depending what website you read) symbol on it:

I tried to research that symbol but all I could find is that it is a crescent moon and a scimitar (sword.)  Well yeah, I can see that.  Not exactly helpful.

Nettie's has a symbol from the Order of the Eastern Star:

Information on this symbol was readily available.  The point that points down represents the Star of Bethlehem.  The symbols within each point are emblems for the Biblical heroines Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha and Electa, whose stories inspire character building lessons. 

I found this text online about OES:
What It Is: The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world to which both women and men may belong. Worldwide, there are over 500,000 members under the General Grand Chapter

Eastern Star is a social order comprised of persons with spiritual values, but it is not a religion. Its appeal rests in the true beauty of the refreshing and character-building lessons that are so sincerely portrayed in its ritualistic work. A deep fraternal bond exists between its members. It is the wholesome relationship of sisterly and brotherly love brought about through high principles exemplified in our lives which makes us near and dear to each other.

While this is an Order composed of people of deep spiritual convictions, it is open to all faiths, except no faith. The personal welfare of our members is vital to all of those in the Eastern Star, and it is considered a privilege to help another member whenever we can.

The Order of the Eastern Star (OES) is a female companion organization to Freemasonry. Men who are Master Masons may also join.

There was one big family headstone:
(Sorry sis, don't mean to freak you out.)
And here's a photo of all 4 together:
And that, my friends, ends your local cemetery tour.

Final Barrel in Place

Last night I pulled the form off the last concrete pad, painted it, and got the barrel in place.

I realize now that because of where the downspout is located, and due to this different style of rain barrel, I could have used a smaller pad and it would have looked better.  Sigh.

I also may repaint it with a paint color that is more the color of the mulch (okay soil) rather than the khaki color that worked so well with the decomposed granite in the matches the brick fairly well, but that doesn't really help.

I'd like to add some pavers to try to raise this particular barrel up higher -- I had two layers of cement blocks under it, but I don't think the second one will fit anymore.  I suppose I could shorten the downspout to allow me to raise the barrel.  I tend to want to use water from this barrel for my front beds, and gravity is working against me as the bed is higher up than the rain barrel placement.  Such is life with a sloped yard.

Regardless -- level, stable.  An upgrade.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Senna Alata - The Candlestick Plant, Part II

You may recall that back in the Spring I volunteered at the Butterfly Plant Sale at Texas Discovery Gardens and purchased a seedling of a Senna Alata, also known as the Candlestick Plant.  My plan was to plant it in my parkway, but I needed it to get a little bigger before I planted it out in a sea of grass.  I was afraid it would be too small and that it would get lost and trampled.

For a few weeks now it has been plenty big to plant, but I'd since decided that the parkway wasn't where I wanted it, and I couldn't decide where it put it.  I had an epiphany this weekend -- my front bed to the right of my front steps. 

That particular bed is one that I have not yet worked.  I'd added a few plants along the very front, but really didn't go a great job of re-working the bed, loosening and amending the soil.  I thought ahead enough yesterday morning to put a sprinkler in it to soak it down and soften the soil to make it easier to work.  And then.... I broke this out for it's maiden voyage:

Ta-da!  My new Mantis tiller!  Red gave me this for my birthday, and it's all red, shiny and new.  It's been living in my dining room since early July.  (Long story, don't ask.)  Anyway, it was liberated to the outdoors and now has a happy home in my gardening shed.  But oh!  It made prepping the bed a total cakewalk.  It's electric, so it was no muss-no fuss.  Who knew??

I loosened the soil, added some Bed Prep (Redenta's) and mixed again.  Then I made a hole for the root ball, put a few earth worm castings in the bottom.  Set the plant in, and then alternated layers of organic compost and earth worm castings, and then watered it all in really well with rain water.  Voila!

Here's what it should become -- isn't it pretty?

Third Footing - Done!

While out and about with neighbors this weekend we ended up at Home Depot.  I seized the opportunity of being there in a pick up truck and bought 2  - 2"x6"s for my door frames, and 3 bags of concrete for the third (and final) concrete pad for my rain barrels. 

I had no intention of pouring the pad this weekend -- this weekend was to be my indoor project weekend.  In the end, however, walking past my wheelbarrow several times with 3 bags of concrete it in proved to be too much to resist.

I am getting faster and faster at these footings -- I can re-use the form each time, so that helps.  And I've become a decent judge of how much water the concrete needs... figures, now that I am done with these.  But I'm sure there is more concrete in my future, somewhere.

I had one bag dumped into the wheelbarrow and mixed, and I set the second bag in.  When I reached for my razor knife to cut the bag open ... the entire wheelbarrow tipped over!  UGH.  Concrete everywhere...  scooping it up and back into the wheelbarrow I also scooped up some of my composite granite.  Probably not good or bad, but irritating for sure.

Ultimately, however -- success was had:

I'm doubly pleased to get this one done because it's right along my neighbor's driveway, and their house is on the market. I was feeling less than "together" with my catty-wompus barrel with cement blocks under it; green or not, I can recognize it was a bit of an eyesore.   I'll paint the concrete and the cement blocks that go under the barrel, and it will look much nicer.  For starters, the barrel will be straight.... LOL  I figure I can put the barrel back in place on Tuesday. 

It's a good feeling to have all my rain barrels taken care of.  Now all I need is some rain!  I have water in two barrels at this point.  Not too bad, considering, I guess -- today is consecutive day 56 of 100+ weather.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thinking about Nettie & Buck

Today in 1942.... 69 years ago. 

It must have been a terribly sad for Nettie and likely for everyone on my short street.  They had been living in my little house for 10 years -- purchased in 1932. 

Nettie continued to live here at least through 1975 -- that's as far as I've researched so far.  Assuming she and Scott were roughly the same age, in 1975 she would have been in her mid/late 70's.  She was clearly the longest resident of my house.