Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fun with scissors

Well, pruners, actually. What I thought would be a quick snip here and there on my waning tomato plants turned into a two-hour project.




I got rid of lots of dead and/or unhappy parts and am now left with a rather cartoonish group. I don’t really know if this is the “proper” thing to do, but I do know that I got rid of a bunch of wooly aphids and other nasties.

I also reclaimed our cat’s favorite flower pot and planted in it some jalapeno pepper seeds. I know it’s a little late, but, what the heck? I added the paint sticks for cat deterrence, plus I really did leave those beautiful Boggy Creek Farm-grown organic jalapenos out for a little while as inspirational role models for the new not-yet-seedlings.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Persevering tomatoes

Besides compulsively trying out new exterior house paint samples, I actually have been doing other things, like thinking about which Fall veggies I want to plant and where to try them. Beets will go in the ground (yet unprotected by any dog barrier) next to the still-producing tomato plants. I can’t believe these Little Porter plants are still going.

Lettuces, broccoli, and carrots will go in the (dog-fenced) raised bed. That’s as far as my Fall planning has gone so far. It’s still too hot to be very enthusiastic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Now, if we can just settle on the purple painters!

Although these are now the absolute three finalists, we’re virtually positive that the bottom left purple paint is our final pick. I also changed the primary trim color to a slightly warmer ivory.

Here are some third accent color experiments:

The current metal awning frames, which will be replaced with new beige/canvas-colored cloth with simpler lines (no scallops) and no side draping, will be painted the third accent color. The doors or screen doors will contain that accent color, too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picking purple paint: the three finalists, I think

It's warts and all in this first photo (taken a little over an hour ago), but I think it's easier to assess the three purples from this view. We still haven't made a final decision on our carpenter, whose work must be completed before painting can begin, but I'm still obsessed with trying to settle on the colors!

slightly overcast

slightly overcast

full sun with encroaching shade

Monday, August 25, 2008

I think this may be a sign my fledgling summer tomato adventures are waning

A few leaf-footed stink bug nymphs insist on attacking this group of tomatoes, although I just recently dunked their grandparents in soapy water to their deaths. Also, some woolly aphids are now happily gathering on the middle plant. I feel lucky we harvested our weekly fill of small tomatoes from these plants all summer, so I’m going to trim them back and (while planning the Fall veggie plantings) hope for the best at this point!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Butterflies’ color preferences

I just finished chasing these butterflies around the front yard to illustrate what I’ve been told: purple-blue flowers are the most attractive to butterflies. Could it be because violet and yellow are complementary colors?




Friday, August 22, 2008

This morning’s tomato carnage

During all those super-hot, rainless days, the squirrels never stole my tomatoes. Some stealthier ones now seem to have moved into my neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yogurt Shop murders: today’s somewhat feisty hearing, part 2 of 2

Defense attorney Carlos Garcia wants to provide prosecutors a list of all alternative suspects to date, including Kenneth McDuff and Hank Worley, and wants to know if the state plans to compare those suspects’ DNA profiles to the Y-STR results received in March. “If they don’t, we’ll have to ask for money from the taxpayers to do it (DNA comparisons) ourselves," Garcia said.

Prosecutor Efrain De La Fuente did not say whether they were planning to do those comparisons but objected to the defense’s characterization of evidence contamination because the evidence was not always in their control, e.g., when items were in the possession of the defense for testing.

Ron Lara’s PowerPoint presentation came up yet again. Garcia still wants to see it, as well as some accompanying charts. Prosecutor Gail Van Winkle responded that she had just recently provided a copy to Judge Lynch and that it’s lengthy. She said that if, during trial, an officer relies on the PowerPoint when testifying, the defense will then see it. At the June 11th hearing, prosecutors said they couldn’t find this PowerPoint presentation. Garcia said one of the charts he wants to see is one of original defendant Maurice Pierce “with little bolts going from him to other people.”

Lynch ordered the state to provide the defense a full inventory of the physical evidence, including evidence not introduced at the last trials. The hearing concluded with Lynch’s recounting what he will be ruling on: the motion to remove the protective order and whether the PowerPoint presentation is discovery material.

Out in the hall after the hearing, defense attorneys for Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen addressed reporters. When asked if evidence had been contaminated, Garcia said, "I don't know if it was, but I think you certainly have to question the DA's intent. When you've got two seasoned prosecutors in open court handling evidence without gloves on, when they do it in every other court in every other courtroom, tells you they're trying to make some sort of point so that they can go to a jury months later and argue it could have been contamination. It doesn't take five seconds to put a glove on."

Springsteen's attorney Joe James Sawyer said, "I think the state is going to have be dragged out kicking and screaming in the light of day to tell the truth. One of two things is true--when they came out here and said we know whose DNA it is, only one of two things can be truth--they either lied directly to the public or they are wallowing in ignorance, and I think both are unacceptable. Sawyer continued, "Those DNA swabs match and they exclude all four of those boys, and if that doesn't scream innocence, then I want to know what does..."

Asked about the possibility the state will test DNA profiles of other possible suspects, Garcia said, "The DA is not going to test any alternative suspects that they've added in the last 17 years. That is not their plan. Their plan is to do everything possible to convict two innocent boys. That's the plan: it's not about justice. It's about getting a conviction."

The next hearing is scheduled for September 17.

Yogurt Shop murders: today’s somewhat feisty hearing, part 1 of 2

Defense attorney Joe James Sawyer got things rolling in today’s joint hearing by complaining that the Court’s gag order deprives his client of his first amendment rights and should be dissolved. Judge Lynch quickly made it clear he prefers the term “protective” to “gag” order. Sawyer said that defense attorneys would not have agreed to the amended limited protective order had they known that prosecutors would violate it, in this case by promising the public they knew whose (recently retested) DNA had been discovered on Amy Ayers.

Defense attorney for Michael Scott, Carlos Garcia, added that the “state says the DNA belongs to a boyfriend when it doesn’t.” The defense teams believe they should have the opportunity to publicly respond but can’t as long as the protective order’s in place. Prosecutor Efrain De La Fuente objected to having the order lifted. After some argument, Judge Lynch said he would read the case law Sawyer cited and suggested that Sawyer provide him with a record of the statements to which he objects.

Garcia told Lynch that the “government had 19 (DNA) results when you asked them if they had any and they remained silent.” After more argument, a slightly exasperated Lynch pointedly asked the prosecution, “Are you obeying my order to turn over results?” De La Fuente said yes, although his answer was not that short.

Garcia argued that a special master needs to be appointed to protect the physical evidence from being mishandled. When Lynch said he didn’t have the authority to assign a special master, it was Garcia who seemed more than exasperated. He continued, “Efrain De La Fuente and (prosecutor) Darla Davis deliberately opened evidence without gloves”, contaminating it. Lynch said that although he wouldn’t appoint a special master, he could put in a protective order about handling evidence.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yogurt Shop murders: another pretrial hearing I plan to attend

Another hearing in the retrial of Michael Scott is scheduled for tomorrow. I think it’s a joint hearing with Robert Springsteen because of similar issues involving his retrial.

Currently in Judge Lynch’s 167th District courtroom, visiting state District judge Jon Wisser is presiding over the cold-case murder trial of Alberto Garcia, so I’ll have to figure out which courtroom Judge Lynch is currently borrowing for tomorrow’s Scott/Springsteen hearing. Darla Davis, who is one of the prosecutors in the current Garcia trial, was also one of the prosecutors in the original trials of Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Purple paint progress

I’ve been sweating like crazy the past few days, painting various sample colors in my quest for a new exterior house paint color. Paint chips definitely don’t translate well. I started with these:

Now we’ve narrowed it down to these two shades of the same basic color and are heavily favoring the deeper shade (lower half.) The following two photos were taken less than an hour ago during—gasp—cloud cover. But in full sun, the (top) lighter shade is just too blinding. Among other repairs, the tattered awnings will be replaced, probably with metal ones. I didn’t scrape off any of the old paint for this experiment because it will ultimately all be powerwashed.

Also, the new paint will be a totally flat, matte finish, unlike these satin-finish samples. And there will be door/screen-door accents in the worlds of deep burgundy and mustard. Hmmm...dinner ideas.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

These are today's bloomies at my house, most of which are native or adapted native and all of which are fairly drought tolerant. Still, they've all needed a little watering, considering yesterday was our 49th day of 100-degree-plus temperatures and we've had so little rain. Check out other people's selections at May Dreams Gardens.

purple skullcap


society garlic

purple ruellia

white ruellia

leadwort plumbago

mexican sage

lantana, but I think it's some new hybrid variety, not native

indigo spires


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Garden bloggers: a growing community

I’ve succeeded (so far) in staying one step ahead of the squirrels by picking my tomatoes a little green, grateful those plants are still plugging away in this heat and drought. Another group to whom I feel much gratitude, especially in this heat and drought, is Austin area garden bloggers, along with bloggers from other areas.

I've been regularly checking the following garden blogs: Cool as a Cucumber; Digging; East Side Patch; Garden Girl; Garden Rant; May Dreams Gardens; Rock rose; The Sun is Killing Me; The Transplantable Rose; Vert; and Zanthan Gardens. You can find even more garden bloggers on blotanical. I’ve learned so much from these people!

Last night, fellow Austin blogger Pam posted on her Digging blog that “Austin, Texas, has the highest percentage of residents who read or write blogs. In Austin, 15% of adults had read or contributed to a blog in the past 30 days.” Check out the whole story here.

Coincidentally, I just recently received some UK bloggers’ recognition from The Garden Monkey, (for having such a disparate combination of blogging topics), which then led to more attention from Emma T., whose Emsworth Village Show I’ve now submitted my six-tomato virtual entry (upon her invitation.) I’m quite flattered.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pondering purple paint

We’re finally taking the plunge: tomorrow morning the first of several carpenters and painters is coming by to give us estimates on exterior wood framing, siding, and trim replacement. Then we can move on to new exterior paint, which at the moment is a horribly peeling light green with very old dark green trim.

I’m seriously considering something between periwinkle and lavender as the new main paint color with ivory trim. Most of the houses in our neighborhood were built between 1937 and 1947 and are painted various shades of green or beige, which is why I started thinking about different colors for our new paint.

Then I thought about how, especially during these interminable and hellish hot months--I think today makes the 44th day of triple-digit heat this year--I routinely peek out the window at my plumbago and feel happy.

So why not a whole plumbago-inspired house color? I haven’t quite convinced husband Kurt, but he’s more concerned about the rotted wood right now than putting the cart before the horse.

Monday, August 4, 2008


If it weren’t so hot, I’d try to fashion more proper stakes for these floppy tomato branches. But it is too hot, so I grabbed these old plant stands from the shack instead. Now their addition is kinda growing on me as the tomatoes are on them.