Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nettie and the DISD

A few weeks ago I wrote to the DISD to see if they had any information about Nettie, the woman who lived in my house longer than anyone else.  I was hoping to find someone who knew her, and to talk with them, and I also hoped to see some school faculty photographs.  I sent five letters -- one to each school where she had worked, and enclosed a "Did you know Nettie?" flyer in each one.  I'd hoped that the flyer would be posted on a bulletin board in the teacher's lounge.  I suppose that could have happened, but I haven't heard from anyone.

What I did get was a letter from the school attorney.  My request had been converted into an official Open Record Act Request.  Okay... I suppose I can see that.  Rules, rules.

A few days ago I received a package in the mail from DISD enclosing 17 pages from Nettie's personnel file.  There is an Employment Questionnaire that is mostly illegible due to poor copy quality (it's dated 1948.)  Really disappointing because it lists the schools she attended growing up.  I may go and look at it in person and see if I can read it.  I definitely plan to go see if there are photos.

Next is a page of prior employment.  I can read a little bit of it, and I can make out that she did clerical work from 1943 - 1945 (plus summers 1943 - 1947.)  Want to know how much she was paid?  $2.50 a day.  Yes, a DAY.  Which begs the question for me -- how much was her mortgage payment?  Did she even have one? 

Following that, she worked in a local junior high lunch room as a cashier from 1945 - 1948.  Her rate of pay?  $3.15.  A day.  From the next year forward, she was employed as a lunchroom manager at various schools in the area.  I can say one thing -- at least the DISD was fairly consistent in giving raises...

1949 - 1950  $6.00/day
1950 - 1951  $6.00/day
1951 - 1952  $7.50/day
1952 - 1953  $8.00/day
1953 - 1954  $8.50/day
1954 - 1955  $9.00/day
1955 - 1956  $9.00/day
1956 - 1957  $9.50/day

The remaining pages are illegible, but it appears that she ended up in 1962 - 1963 school year making -- brace yourself -- $12.00 a day.  Her pay doubled from when she started...

That's quite a perspective on how much things cost back in the day.  At least for me, anyway.

Here's a copy of one of the employment agreements.  It's skimpy by today's standards to say the least.  The job requirement?  Be in the lunchroom from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day.  That sounds like torture.  Can I have ear plugs??

Senna Alata - Update Part 2

Remember this little guy?

Here's what it looks like today -- it is as tall as I am!  (Ignore the spider and web behind it... lol  Also ignore that flat of pansies that has been waiting for a home...)

At night, all the leaves on the branches fold up/together as if they are praying -- each pair neatly aligned.  Every morning it opens back up.  So cool!

It has three blossoms on it...

This bloom is huge -- about 6 inches -- bees were already on it yesterday.

I'm so excited!  Geek.

I'll need to research if I need to cover it for Winter...

Spring 2012 Update:  It didn't survive the winter... and didn't come back at all.  Bummer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cross Post

Like many of you (perhaps I am being presumptuous) I have other blogs that I read often.  One is Slow Love by Dominique Browning.  I liked this recent post of hers; jump to read.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Containing the St. Augustine

Greta's patch of grass in the backyard was getting a little out of control; the pavers for the border had moved out of line, and the grass was jumping the curb, so to speak.  A little attention to corral all of that was needed.  I had seen an idea on -- can you guess -- Pinterest -- that I decided to try since I had the materials on hand; I'm all about using what I have on hand!  Cement block as a border.

A clever idea and functional.  I also like that it will be easy to remove when a better plan emerges.

Below is a view from up on my back steps.  I squared up the pavers, and took the time to dig out beneath them to bury them levelly.  It isn't much to see here, but they were bugging me in their chaos, so it feels good to have it all tidied up. 

My sage to the left of the grass has gotten huge, and the blue flowers are always covered in bees.  My three Flowering Senna in front of the grass are thriving...   You can see that I still haven't chosen plants to go into my culvert planters... and then, my sad state of empty garden boxes... some basil is about all you can see -- with the happy French Lavender in the foreground.

Do you see anything else new?  Just off the corner of the right side of the grassy patch is a yellow sculpture looking thing.  It's going to be a fountain... but I keep moving it around, trying to decide where I want it to go.  The fountain and it's story is another post, but since it ended up in the photo... you get a sneak preview.


In my continued efforts to give my side yard and gate area some love and attention....

This weekend I made this faux welcome mat out of wood rounds.  It was a great excuse to use my new "fun-sized" chain saw, and make use of some major tree pieces that my neighbors had put out for bulk trash.  I sliced the limbs into rounds.  Dug out the ground so that when I laid the rounds down they would be surface level.  Backfilled with dirt, and topped it off with decomposed granite.  I think they will settle even more in over time.  We had very heavy rains this weekend and they are still in place, so that's encouraging. 

Here is a close up shot:

I was going to do a few rounds, and then alternate few planks, like this

but the wood I had on hand wasn't the style I wanted to use.  I can always extend the path later with the alternating forms, when I have lumber I like.

I took advantage of having the saw out and did some clean up of my fire wood rack contents -- soon I will need to be diligent about keeping it and the kindling stacks dry to be ready for fireplace use!  Sigh.  Winter.  A dismal thought.  I also re-placed the stepping stones on the outside of the gate to space them better (no photo, sorry, but really, not that much to see) and trimmed up the shrubs a little to open up the front portion of the walking path.  I'd like to put some mulch down to cover the area until I decide what plants I want to plant in that space (rhubarb?) but for now, this will have to do.

Hoping for Screening

I started to say "a couple of weeks ago" but looking back ( I realize it's nearly a month ago -- a friend and I planted three Hick's Yew shrubs in my sideyard.  When I was at Redenta's last weekend they had gotten more of them in -- so I bought 2 more.  (Goal - always have an odd number...)  I thought I would add them to the sideyard to continue the screening.

I didn't get them in the ground last weekend.... but last night I finally made it happen.  When I stepped to the side yard to access where they would go, I realized that the air conditioning unit made the intended area too narrow.  Hmmm.  I ended up planting them inside the fence instead, but still continued the line of shrubs.

You can see the third Yew outside the fence, and then two inside -- the dark green plants.  Interspersed with the ones inside right to left are Jasmine (climing the fence) rosemary, Greek Oregano and Marjoram.  I was thankful that I could leave the herbs in place and still maintain the 4-5 foot spacing between shrubs -- at least for now.  I suppose at some point they will be overgrown and will need to be moved.

The shrubs should grow to be 3-4 feet wide, and 10-12 feet tall.  Theoretically they should give me nice privacy screening in about 20 years...  HA.  Hopefully it won't be quite that long.

I found a holiday decorating idea that I like (hel-lo Pinterest) that I plan to use in some form on the three shrubs outside the fence...

Maybe I'll actually have neighbors on that side of me by then, who might appreciate some holiday festiveness when they pull into their driveway.

Al Fresco Dining

Weekend before last, Red and I had another couple over for dinner al fresco.  It was the first time that I sat and had a meal at my outdoor dining table -- I'd sat out there and read before, but never ate and/or entertained.  It was lovely. 

The previous week I unearthed my lights on a string from the shed and hung those up along the car port eaves.  They had gotten heavy use inside a screened gazebo in the backyard of a rental house (two houses ago!) but had been heaped into a garbage bag until now.  I was pleased that (a) they still actually worked; and (b) none of the bulbs were broken.  And the strings were just the right length to give me two rows of lights.  I was worried they would be too bright at night, but it turned out they were just fine.

Next I wanted some screening behind the table so that while dining we didn't have to stare at my car.  I have bigger, more permanent plans for screening (of course I do) but for a budget, in a pinch remedy, I bought three rolls of the burlap that Home Depot sells for coving your plants for frost protection.  I cut the burlap to the proper curtain length, rolled one end over a piece of wood trim, and used my nail gun to tack them up inside the carport eave behind the lights.

The weather cooperated -- so the fire pit came out too. (You can barely see it to the right.)  In the front left is a rain chain sans rain barrel...

I wish I had taken a photo with the table set -- but alas, I did not.  I had a tub of beer on ice over on the potting table, with an bucket for the empty ones (a project using those is forthcoming...)  You can read about the potting bench project here:

I'm pleased to be able to report that the benches were not "tippy" -- a fear that I had.  You can read about the origin of the benches here (I thought I had blogged about Red and I making that table, but I can't find the posts...)

Appetizer:  Crackers and dip, and Roasted Grapes, Olives & Walnuts*
Entree:  Green salad, Roasted Vegetable Galettes*
Dessert:  S'mores over the fire and coffee

The week that followed was windy, and I quickly realized that my "curtains" weren't going to stay intact for long.  As the wind whipped them around, the bottoms started to fringe like an old pair of blue jeans.  I decided the quickest fix was to simply roll them up and tie them until the next occasion:

That worked well, and they actually look sort of pretty bundled up.  The whole sha-bang -- lights and curtains are under the eaves, so they don't get wet when it rains.

*  This isn't a food blog, but I have the recipes -- email me if you want them.  Divine! They were both new recipes... I like my guests to be guinea pigs, tee hee...