Sunday, April 20, 2014

More Wildflowers

I took more pictures, last evening, of some wildflowers not too far from our house. Sorry. I don't mean to overload the blog with bluebonnet photos, but this field was amazing. I'll only post one photo (though I took dozens). This picture was taken from the center of the field, and the flowers stretched as far behind me and to either side as they did in front. It was a little tricky taking pictures because everywhere you looked there were children or sweethearts posing for photos among the flowers. I know my pictures would have been a lot better if they had included a couple of beautiful grandkids! 






Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Fungus Among-us

Do you remember how beautiful our lawn was last year? It was the prettiest one on the block. Green. Thick. Weed-free.

Our lawn, last August.
But by fall we started getting some strange brown spots, that began as circle-shaped patches and grew outward. We thought it might just be going dormant for the winter, though it seemed a bit early. The guy who does our mowing and edging said it might be grubs. So we ran out and bought grub-killer and applied it. Then we did a fall fertilization, and anticipated that Spring would usher in another lush, emerald lawn.

Before anyone's lawn had greened up this spring, we gave ours another feeding, put down some more grub killer, and recently began watering every few days. But the lawn only greened up in a few, sparse areas. The brown remained brown, and continued to spread. At first it was only in the front yard, but now the back yard is also sick.

The same front lawn as above, this spring.

Today we talked to the owner of a local nursery. We brought pictures of our yard for her to see. She asked us what brand of fertilizer we have been using. We told her, and she said, "Oh, don't ever use that brand on St. Augustine grass. It puts too much nitrogen in the soil all at once, and that encourages the growth of a fungus called brownpatch, which kills off the lawn." She prescribed a series of three treatments that we need to do over the next six weeks or so in order to kill the fungus, which is, apparently, still alive and well in our soil. But the grass is dead. The small patches of live grass could, theoretically, put out runners and spread, if we were able to keep them alive, but very slowly. The long-term prognosis is that we'll probably need to re-sod or put new plugs in, after we've killed off the fungus. Then we need to start using a fertilizer that has time-released nitrogen, to try to keep this disease from returning.

Sad :-(

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Eccl. 3:11

We have a little playground in our neighborhood. Nothing spectacular.


Nothing spectacular, that is, until you turn and look south from the playground toward the adjacent open field. Your eyes will be treated to a sea of wildflowers this time of year. Mostly bluebonnets, but also Indian paintbrush (the orange ones) and a scattering of yellow ones (wild mustard? not sure).








Monday, April 14, 2014

Life Changes

Mom arrived on Monday, April 7, for a week-long visit. She flew from Carlsbad to Dallas, changed planes in Dallas and flew into Waco Regional Airport, where I picked her up. It was a long day for her. The flights, themselves, weren't long, but she had a 2-1/2 hour lay-over at DFW. 

The main purpose of her visit was to tour the three assisted living homes that had made my short-list of contenders. I previewed a number of places, for her, over the past few weeks and narrowed the list down to what I felt were the three best choices. She has decided she is ready to let someone else do her cooking, cleaning and laundering. And she's certainly deserving of some pampering, as she approaches 88 years old!

The bluebonnets are blooming all over Central Texas now. Here's Mom standing in a patch of her soon-to-be state flowers!

Each place we visited had some pros and cons. One was absolutely resort-like and had the largest apartments, but probably wouldn't accommodate her as she ages further; one was walking distance to our house, but we found it a bit dingy and tired looking inside; and one was perfect except that the apartments didn't have full kitchens - only kitchenettes. In the end, we chose that last one, Stoney Brook of Belton. Mom said it was the one that "felt like home." It's just four years old, and has such a pleasant, fresh interior, with lots of natural light and all the amenities anyone would want. Everyone we met as we toured - whether staff or resident - seemed happy and welcoming. As we thought about it a little longer, the issue of having only a kitchenette didn't seem to be that big of a deal. With all meals being provided, Mom will only need to have space to fix coffee, snacks, and her morning toast. (She doesn't eat a full breakfast, so will probably have her coffee and toast in her room.) And they have a little bistro, open 24-hours, with a convection oven available for the residents to use if they want to do some baking.

Stoney Brook is located in Belton, which is the little town just south of us. We timed it -- it takes 12 minutes from our front door to theirs. That's much better than the 8 hours we are apart right now. 
So, Mom put herself on the wait list for a "one-bedroom grande" apartment, as seen here:


The grandes are all situated on corners of the building, so daylight comes into the living room from two sides, making it a space with lots of natural light. Some of them, though not all, have access to a small private patio. We don't know how long it will take for one to become available, but she has offered to take a smaller apartment, temporarily, if it comes open sooner, and then to make the final move when the one-bedroom grande is available. She's very anxious to make this move! Dan and I, of course, are also looking forward to her being closer, and happy for her in this new adventure.

I put her back on the plane in the wee hours of this morning, and she's already back home where she's beginning the sorting, selling, donating, packing process. 





Monday, April 7, 2014

Squatters

You might recall that last spring we had a bird's nest on top of a column on our front porch (see here). What I failed to tell you about was the terrible mess that bird and her four babies made! We were very happy when they finally left the nest, allowing us to hose and scrub down the brick column and the concrete porch below. And we decided NOT to rent that space out to another pair of birds, ever again!

Well, here it is Spring again, and guess who showed up, uninvited, and tried to move in! So before they had much work invested in their nest, we hosed it down and told them to find another place. But the next day, they were back again, starting work on a bigger and better home.

The war was on! Human brains against bird brains . . . a no brainer, right? Out came the hose and a ladder. We (as in Dan) cleaned off the beginnings of the second nest, told the birds to go find a tree, and put up a "No Vacancy" sign, in the form of a plastic jar, filled with water (for weight), that left no room for a nest. For a good part of the afternoon, we heard the angry birds, perched on the eves of the garage, opposite their desired property, squawking their claims of discrimination to the entire neighborhood. But we had won the battle . . . or so we thought. Here's what greeted me when I locked the front door, before bed, last night.


And they are still there this morning, looking smug and victorious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Boys Allowed!

I drove to Katy on Friday and returned on Monday. Sandwiched between those two days, was the Best Girls' Weekend Ever!

Saturday was nearly non-stop, from morning until late night. Kelsey, Clara and I went to the American Girl Store so Clara could buy pajamas for herself that matched her doll, Julie's, pajamas. Clara has been saving money for this major purchase since Christmas. She also had enough left over to buy a little watch for Julie. The only down side to this leg of the adventure was that Julie actually lost one of her shoes somewhere between the American Girl Store and the Panera restaurant, which was just next door and where we had lunch. We searched for it and checked out the lost and found at both establishments. No shoe was found.  :-(

The American Girl Store . . . as much fun for Clara as the Apple Store is for Grandpa!

Checking the length of the pajamas.

A cute little watch with two bands for Julie.

Out for lunch at Panera.
After lunch we headed to a strip mall with a collectibles shop that was chock-full of dollhouse furniture. The shop was closed when we arrived. There was a note on the door saying the proprietor would be back soon. "Soon" stretched into a 30 or 40 minute wait, but what we could see through the windows was sufficiently enticing to keep us there until she finally showed up.

Selecting only a few pieces turned out to be a difficult task, considering the wonderful inventory of miniatures. We ended up choosing wallpaper, a living room set, a wood-burning kitchen stove, an ice box, and a kitchen sink.

Making the purchase.
After a little rest at home, we got ready for our evening activities.

Ready to go!
For dinner, our first choice restaurant was too crowded, and the wait would have been too long, so we ended up eating at a Mongolian grill place. Then we headed to downtown Houston for the highlight of our day - The Wizard of Oz. Some street closures close to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts made parking a little tricky, but we were early enough that it wasn't a problem.

Clara and Dorothy's ruby slippers.

Photo taken from our very good seats.
Kelsey and I agreed that the production might not have been as spectacular as some other musical stage performances we'd seen in the past, but it was well-performed and a lot of fun. Clara was enchanted the entire time. Oh, and the little dog who played Toto was amazing!

By the time the performance was over, it was late. It had been raining nearly all day long, and was still sprinkling. The tops of the Houston skyscrapers were shrouded with fog and mist.


Clara fell asleep on the way home, and Kelsey and I went to bed as soon as we got there. It was a day I'll always remember.

On Sunday, after church and lunch, we started decorating the first floor of the interior of the dollhouse. The first step was to prime the walls in preparation for putting up wallpaper. Clara was disappointed that we couldn't hang the paper that same day, but a sealer had to be applied to the paper, and it had to dry over-night before it could be used. 

Putting primer onto the divider walls.

When I left on Monday morning, the house was still waiting for the wallpaper. But since then, Kelsey has papered that bottom floor - the living room, kitchen and dining area (dining room table not yet purchased). She posted pictures on her blog, and it looks fantastic! Please take a look here to see the papered bottom floor with the furniture we bought on Saturday.

Even though this was a girls' weekend, Robert and I had some good quality time together, as well. Here's a picture of him with the little Grandma-gift I brought. He and Chris did some "boy things" on Saturday, which included seeing the movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Robert has become a Class A communicator. He carries on long and involved conversations, and uses impressive words and quirky expressions. What I love most is his never-ending supply of hugs!