Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's Yogurt Shop murders retrial pretrial hearings

I could not leave my construction-zone home renovation work today to attend today’s hearing, the first one I’ve missed in a year. Aargh!

The Austin Chronicle's Jordan Smith's article is here and The Austin American-Statesman’s Steven Kreytak posted his report,too. The trial start date for Michael Scott might be announced at the next pretrial hearing Dec 10.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 5 of big carpentry and paint

Our carpenter (Jerry Kirk) has worked around our painter (Doug Gorton Professional Painting) on other projects, so both crews are here working simultaneously. I’m getting used to the sound of scraping, sanding, nailing, and sawing. It’s very exciting, though!

So far, the rotted sill beams in four areas have been replaced, as well as the rotted porch fascia. Today's carpentry focused on the new back door and its framing, which won't be installed until Thursday. The painters hand washed--not pressure washed--the whole house, and they're now thoroughly scraping and sanding it to the original wood in most places. Who knows how many layers have been painted on this 1941 house?

Day 5, east side

End of Day 1, east side

Day 5, west side

Day 5, front

Day 5, close up front view with new sill beam and original joists

Original 1941 back steps, covered up during 1950s addition

Day 5, back

We’ve finally settled on the final paint colors (fingers crossed), too. The plan is for the body to be lavender blue, the trim ivory, the front and back doors and iron awning frames chocolate, and the front and back screen doors chartreuse. The windows might end up chartreuse, too. We haven’t picked the new awning fabric yet. So far, the thoroughness and attention to detail shown by Jerry and Doug and their crews has been very impressive!

West side sun, 3:15 p.m. (I painted the lavender paint on pieces of card stock so I wouldn't mess up any newly sanded wood.)

East side shade, 3:15 p.m.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mystery bush: kidneywood or dalea?

Husband Kurt bought this plant over a year ago when it was about 6” tall, thinking it was kidneywood. It’s now a little over 5’ tall and around 4’ wide and generally resembles kidneywood photos I’ve found online, but it has purple flowers instead of white ones. Thanks to Annie at The Transplantable Rose, who, after spotting a very similar bush in the garden of Lee at The Grackle, says she heard other Austin garden bloggers conferring about Lee's bush. They suggested my strange purple “kidneywood” might actually be something from the dalea family.

I searched many dalea images and descriptions online and they just don’t quite seem to match my mystery bush. Whatever it is, it’s fast-growing and very drought-tolerant.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend vegetable garden additions

The only actual vegetables involved were subtractions, not additions, as I thinned the arugula and sorrel seedlings. We ate them and were surprised how spicy and tart they were.

I planted a fall aster in one veggie bed, potted some pansies by the other bed, and sowed more cilantro seeds in a pot.

Fall aster


Husband Kurt rummaged through some attic stuff and discovered the dog fence-windows he’d made and misplaced awhile ago and installed them. Our Husky-dog can now peek out in many directions. Happy dog.

Dog fence-window, exterior view

Friday, October 17, 2008


My cat never actually catches up with the squirrels, she just enjoys stalking and chasing them around our back yard. So, if she helps scare away the squirrels, it’s fine with me because I don’t want them eating my vegetables.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Squirrel deterrent

I know I’m not alone in my frustration with squirrels’ incessant digging lately. Today I got some help from our (adopted former-feral) cat:

hidden cat, bold squirrel


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

We finally got some real rain and may get more today—yippee! I’ve been so focused on my vegetable garden that I haven’t planted anything new in the front, so my October blooms are my usuals. You can see other garden bloggers' blooms at May Dreams Gardens.

Mexican bush sage

I thought this was a kidneywood, but now I'm not sure because mine has purple rather than white flowers.

Pink skullcap

Purple skullcap

Dwarf pomegranate

Blue plumbago

Indigo spires salvia

Also blooming sporadically are purple and white ruellia, society garlic, rosemary, Turk's cap, verbena, lantana, and leadwort plumbago.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tiny critters are eating my vegetable leaves

I knew I was having too much beginner’s luck! Drats. Some tiny bug-things are starting to chomp on the seedling leaves of my broccoli, lettuce, and kale. Now I'm trying to figure out what they are and what to do about them.

broccoli leaf eater

lettuce leaf eater

lettuce leaf eater

Otherwise, all my small veggies appear to be faring pretty well, although I've still got some thinning to do. I sowed some arugula (Eruca sativa) seeds yesterday and stuck some garlic cloves in a pot.

cauliflower seedlings

sorrel seedlings

Husband Kurt and I also spent time in the front (non-veggie) yard excavating nutgrass:

Pink skullcap, Mexican bush sage, and blue plumbago

Friday, October 10, 2008

Laura Hall appeal: new briefs filed

These post-submission briefs were recently filed with the Third Court of Appeals. They address a point of contention during oral arguments last month re prosecution witness Henriette Langenbach’s New Zealand convictions.

State pg 1

State pg 2

Appellant pg 1

Appellant pg 2

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last tomato first lettuce: happy salad

We feel really lucky and were very excited to be able to usher out our last summer tomatoes and welcome our newest fall mesclun at the same time tonight in one salad! We added only a teensy dash of salt, vinegar, and olive oil—perfect. I hope our good luck continues with our other fall veggies.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Newly expanded veggie bed now accomplished

Husband Kurt has really done yeoman’s work yesterday and today, doing all the most physical veggie bed work. He turned huge stagnant compost piles, mixed together dirt with manure compost, then moved dirt from one corner of the yard to the new bed area, plus he installed a small drip irrigation system around all the beds.

(top left) Kurt stomping down a compost pile

I then sewed common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and cauliflower (“Chef’s Choice Blend”, Brassica oleracea variety) seeds, transplanted yesterday’s thinned-out beet and carrot seedlings, and learned how to operate the drip system, which will take some experimentation to get right.

We’re both now exhausted but excited. Oops, just remembered I forgot to get arugula and spinach seeds—will do that tomorrow if I can get out of bed.

What the tomato bed (right side) looked like less than a week ago

And what it looks like now (minus tomatoes)

Both veggie beds from another view

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thinning seedlings strategies and creating another dog-fenced veggie bed

Thinning the carrot (left) and red beet (right) seedlings was a little scary and tedious and painful—did I pull out the “right” ones? But later, I potted a few of the extra seedlings (not knowing if and or when I’ll actually transplant them) into temporary plastic pots until I figure out where those seedlings should eventually reside. I also transplanted a few lettuces that seemed crowded, but I think now I should have left those alone because they seem really wilted.

I felt better about the thinning when we just plain ate the extra beet sprouts—yum! Caveat: I know that beets and their greens are healthy and edible, so I felt comfortable eating the seedlings. I would not be so bold with just anything!

Husband-Kurt took a couple of days off work this week and decided today to dive into dog-fencing the previous tomato bed into a new, bigger veggie bed.

He also dug up a bunch of dirt and divided it into two more (unfenced) raised beds for future use, as well as adding this cool four-way hose-splitter.

Rock! For starters, I can now set one hose onto a little sprinkler in one bed while using the mist setting of the hose-end sprayer on some potted herbs at the other side of the yard. (See edge of hose-splitter at far left of photo below.)

I also transplanted some flowers (native perennials) within the old tomato bed to make room for more veggies. I added a few thinned carrot seedlings into some bare spots of the broccoli area. I'll sew sorrel and cauliflower seeds into this newly gated and reconfigured bed this weekend. (Photos to come.)

This ladybug seems to have approved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tomatoes end and extending Fall vegetable bed prep begins

When I caught my dog gleefully tugging green tomatoes from their progressively woolly aphid-infested vines this morning, I thought it might be a sign. Then when I saw that she hadn’t even bothered to eat the tomatoes she scored (foreground of above pic), I knew it was time to pull those suckers out to make more room for more Fall veggies.

Husband Kurt bought more dog-fencing materials to protect the old tomato bed, which right now has kale and broccoli seedlings. This weekend I’m adding to that bed seeds of cauliflower, sorrel, and maybe arugula, even though I’m a little sick of arugula right now because it’s one of the only green leafy things to eat in the summer that’s local and in-season. I’ll also thin the profuse beet and carrot seedlings and transplant some of them if I can make more room.