Sunday, July 7, 2013

Spring Garden Tour 2013

Gardeners, what a great Tour we had this year!
Up and at 'em and at the first garden by 8am, we toured 8 gardens and were ready to party by 1pm. Thanks to Fred for providing a landing pad for the party, and to everyone who helped put it all together, providing such great and FRESH food (and yummy drinks!) Carmen, thanks for taking photos and Jenny for helping me out. Thanks to everyone for sharing plants and food from your own gardens with us!

I just gathered a few pictures from the tour on this blog, so not everyone's garden is represented below, but I'd love to put together a series of pictures that you've taken of your garden before and after the tour if you'd like to share them. As we discussed, the weather this year affected our crops, letting certain things flourish and making others lag behind our crops last year.
 Love to see what you guys are currently doing, and what the Fall will bring!

Thanks for participating, and we look forward to next year. Enjoy!

Pretty morning at the first garden on the tour.

 Serious discussion about the dirt in Diane's raised bed.

 Donnie's cucumber patch.

Donnie talking about his Peter Pecker Peppers (is that what he called them?)

 One of Brenda and Carl's pretty little women.

 Astounded visitors eyeing Herman's enormous onions. 

 Beverly's pretty flower garden.

 Mark digging potatoes for the Gardeners.

Fred making the Gardeners dig blue potatoes for him. :)

 And now we gather to eat!


 Seed exchanging.

 It's so much fun!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Jackalope Reflection (original 4' x 6' chalk pastel)

The weekend before last was the Round Rock Chalk Walk. The picture about is the result of about 15 hours of me on my knees in the middle of Main Street. Painful, but worth it. Round Rock recently made a great space in the middle of historic downtown with fountains that kids can play in, cool shade sails and a stage space, which was where the awards were held at the end of the day. The Chalk Walk festival is a fun event, with vendor booths selling food and things, and where families and everyone walks around watching local artists draw or "paint" with chalk pastels on the street. This was my first year to be involved, and I'm sure I'll be back next year. People walked by all day, talking about the drawing, interpreting it, and chatting with me.  It was interesting to hear how some people read deeper into the imagery then I had imagined! The kids were cute, bringing friends back to see the progress and explain how the baby Jackalope sees his reflection in the water. 

My Jackalope ended up winning second place overall, coming in second behind my first oil painting teacher, John Howell. He is the owner of Cordovan Art School, where I first went to paint oils, and one of the people who put on the festival. He did a pretty portrait of a girl painted by one of his favorite artists (at the moment, the name escapes me). My Jackalope ended up going through to the live auction and will find his new home in Austin. (An appropriate place for a Jakalope, no?) Since people really liked the piece, I had a scan of the 4 foot by 6 foot piece done, so that smaller prints can be made (posters, cards, etc.) If you have any interest, please let me know! Thanks to all our friends who came by, brought delicious coffee and donuts, bought voting tickets, and bid on my painting in the silent auction! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spring Garden Tour 2012

Our first Garden Tour of the general Walburg area was great fun. We had around just under 20 people, counting some in-and-out guests, and lovely food featuring vegetables from the gardens. Everyone who was featured on the tour went above and beyond with hospitality and so, by the end, we were all feeling rather happy. For so many reasons. We started the tour at Brenda Walker home, where the land has been in the family for over 150 years.

Standing in front of a picnic table loaded down with a delicious spread; coffee (and Kaluha!), egg casseroles and muffins, and bloody marys, Brenda told us a bit of the history of the home. Then we toured her big garden filled with spaghetti squash, corn, cucumbers, okra, and much more. Her garden dirt is so beautifully light and fluffy it almost brought tears to my eyes! It was a perfect start to the day. 

This is Brenda, keeping cool in a cabbage leaf hat. 

After Brenda's, we headed over to Jenny and Mark Kinard's home next door. After a brief introduction to the land, we dug into some fabulous relish (yes, we want that recipe, please!), along with pretty fruit kabobs and mimosas. She toured us through the garden, and Herman showed us how to keep planting a sweet potato vine in the dirt so it will continue to grow new shoots. We saw some pretty artichoke plants, healthy peppers, and, among other things, a pretty little grapevine with perfect, tiny green grapes.

Talking by the mimosas. In the foreground, potatoes and onions just picked from the garden.

After Jenny's, we headed over to the Knippa's home. Robin's home has also been in the family for years, with her kids being the fifth generation to live there. The garden sits on top of the hill where her grandmother used to garden, and has a nice view of the bucolic countryside. We admired her peach trees, potatoes, and the enormous pumpkins that sprung up from her compost heap! Her kids will have a blast this fall carving their own home-grown jack-o-lanterns. We also got to see the brand-new triplets, her new baby goats, before digging into a delicious creamy-dill-chicken-tomato-on-bread snack. I can't remember the name, but it was tasty!

Here is Robin with one of the triplets. SO sweet.

After Robin's, we headed over to Diane Buchhorn's home just down the road. What a charming backyard! Along with vegetables she grows many flowers throughout the garden, which look gorgeous, and serve to attract butterflies and bees. We snacked on zucchini muffins and a delicious tomatillo dip underneath a shade tree before wanderinng around the garden at our own pace. Diane added some extra excitement to our day by digging out a squash-borer at the base of a sticken plant with a big knife and carrying it around around on the tip of the blade. Maybe she should have hung it on the fence so we could get some rain ... or is that only rattle snakes?

Here is Diane showing us the limp squash plant (before the hunt for the culprit).

Next, we headed over to the east Walburg area to Herman and Beverly's, who are known around here as the "Olympic Gardeners." Intimidating, right? Their place has a charming greenhouse and a flower garden with winding pathways and hummingbird feeders vingetted in vines on twisted old stumps. The garden is large, but the onions were HUGE! Herman let us take one home, and I plan on inviting the neighbors over so we can all share it for dinner. He shared with us the trick of making onions happy and huge, so we'll have to try that next time and compare notes. 

Check this out - I could barely hold it in one hand!

Next door to Herman and Beverly's is the Linebrink Home. Mike and Pixie had prepared for us a martini featuring pickled garlic scapes. They were delicious, but what were they called? "Set you nose hairs on fire?" Wow! Mike showed us his garden, which was interesting, because not only did he have the first (and only) raised bed garden of the tour, but he also had some set up as "keyhole" gardens. The concept is that you have a space to walk in and garden from, a compost pile in the center that you water, and it's tall enough that the gardening can be done without bending over. Nice. 

Mike in his raised bed keyhole garden.

 Lastly we headed over to my place. Kris met us there, and we had mint tea, more mimosas (sponsered by Kasper Properties - thanks, honey!), and ratatouille. My two medium sized gardens have a little bit of everything, but definitely a lot of tomoatoes! My favorite new plant this year is the Lambsqusters, which taste like a cross between spinach and asparagus, are beautiful and tall, and aren't as susceptible to the bugs. My "third" garden lies along the fence, where I planted all the viney types. After food, a tour of the barn, and some conversation, everyone called it a day and went on their seperate ways. 

 Some veggies from my garden. I love walking out to pick things for dinner!

Thanks, gardeners and guests, for making the first Spring Garden Tour 2012 a great success. It was fun, and I look forward to sharing new recipes and seeds, and seeing everyone again for the Fall Tour!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Buddha Time

So, it's about time I explained the picture from the previous post. While in China, we went to a National Park/UN World Heritage Site called Jiuzhiajou (valley of nine villages) (prounounced Jew-Jhi-Go), and it was pretty incredible. I can't really equate it with any place that we've been. You all will think that we played with the colors when you see the pictures. It was that pretty. The first night there, we went to a small restaurant with "rabbit" in the name. Brac and Ceci speak pretty decent chinese, and we learned that there special sounded like it had "head" in it. We figured, "Why not? Let's try it." Then, Ceci figured out head and rabbit sound pretty similar. "Oh, so we'll just be eating rabbit," we said. Turns out we were right both times as wok-fried, cloven rabbit heads appeared in a bowl, complete with tongues, eyes and brains. When in China....... The taste wasn't so bad as the consistency. Firm, then soft, then firm. Cheek, esophagus, tongue.

After dinner, Brac was wandering down an alley, and found what looked to be a cool bar. So, we went in. After we were asked to wear a silk scarf and spin the prayer wheel, I figured it was a Buddhist tea house. They sat us in a colorful room and served us tea with yak butter. Ten minutes or so later, we heard singing from the next room, so Heather and Ceci went to investigate. Next thing Brac and I know, we were all invited over to that room for a party. Seems it was a karaoke room flowing with homemade alcohol of some sort. It tasted like apple cider vinegar that had been sitting in the back of the cupboard for a few years. Chinese honor and custom requires that, if someone toasts you, you have to chug the contents of your cup and show it to the other person. As a result, I slammed about 8 glasses and Brac slammed probably 10. I can't describe how surreal it was, as I'm sitting there full of vinegar alcohol, listening to Brac sing Folsom County Blues to a bunch of Chinese dudes in a Buddhist tea house/karaoke bar.

Anyway, here's some pics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Chinese Chicken

So, I've been wanting to write for a bit, but we were in China where they block blogs, facebook, and other such things. Our last couple weeks in Hawaii were great. We found a great sushi place, we ran across the Haleakala volcanic crater a couple times, and got a bit tanner.

Well, we are both now pale, but had a great time in China with our friends, Brac and Ceci. I'll write some more about China in a bit, but have to relate one of the funnier conversations I've had in awhile.

We were headed to the Great Wall, so we booked a reservation with a local travel guide to drive us to the wall. The problem was the bus left at 4:30 a.m., and, well, it was on a bus. That likely meant other people, a schedule, and a megaphone (used by all guides in China). Last minute, we cancelled the bus tour after we found another driver to take us at a reasonable hour and on our own schedule.

After cancelling, the guide nevertheless called us for the next 3 days trying to reschedule us. After eating a huge meal one night, Heather, Ceci, Brac and I decided to go for a late night foot massage. Remember how I said we had a great time in China? Hour long foot massages cost $6 bucks and they are open til 1 a.m. I went ahead and got 7 while there.

Continuing along, it was about midnight, we are all getting our feet worked on, and the phone rings. Brac recognizes the number as the guide, yet again. He chooses not to answer it, it goes to voicemail, and then immediately starts to ring again.

"You gonna answer that?" I say.
"No, just let it go to voicemail. It's the guide for the Wall again,"Brac tells me.
"Ok," I say. Then, I go ahead and answer the phone anyway. "Hello?"

No hello, ho how you doing, no nothing. Now, forgive my broken english, it's not meant to be stereotypical. It's just broken english.

"You go to Wall tomorrow?" The guide cuts right to the chase.
"No." I respond.
"You want to got to Wall tommorrow?" The guide continues.
"No." I respond again. Now, I'm guessing people typically offer excuses, but I chose not to. I think this threw the guide off her game a bit.
"No?" She was now unsure of herself.
"No." I said flatly.
"No?" She was disbelieving.
"No." I said again.
Then there was a long pause, followed a very, very quick, "Yesorno?" She was tricky.
But, I wasn't falling for it. "No."
Again, there was a pause, then a long, gutteral, "HHHHMMmmmmmmmmmm."
Then we both hung up. I'm not sure that I accurately conveyed this, but it had all of us cracking up. Then again, maybe it was just real late.

Mmmmm. Squid.

Would you take a ride with this guy? Seriously?

And, I'm gonna have to tell you about this whole thing next time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Ok, people. I need your help to settle and argument. Growing up, I watched a lot of Flintstones. However, I think it was only about a week or two ago that I realized this giant clamshell was a rack of ribs. It kind of changes your childhood a bit when you find out something like this, doesn't it? Literally, I thought for my entire life that this waitress was bringing outsome sort of clamshell looking ordering tray. Never thought it could be a rack of ribs. Never, ever. My buddy Richard is in the same boat. We were talking about it the other day when we were discussing bbq.
"Did you ever realize that was a giant rack of ribs that toppled over Fred's car on the Flintstones?" I ask Richard.
"Nope. Not a clue." Richard replies.
"What'd you think it was?"
"No idea. I never understood what it was until recently. Then, one day....I just kind of knew." Richard crinkled his brow, expressing a look of understanding as he tried to wrap his hands around this life changing experience.

And, here's where the argument begins.
From the next lawn chair, Heather chimes in,"I knew it was ribs."
Stunned, both of us swung our heads her direction, to show our disbelief.
"Seriously, what else could it be?" Heather added, twisting her superiority into our guts a little.
"As a 4 year old, watching the Flintstones for the very first time, you knew the car was flipped over by a rack of ribs? No way." I'm not falling for this.
"Of course, I did. As I said before, what else could it be?"
"Maybe a tray. Maybe, agiant clamshell. Could be an enormous 'C'. " I'm full of ideas. Richard still has nothing to offer as he never had a clue what it was to begin with.
I'd like to say this is over, but it's not. Going on 2 weeks now, and I still don't believe her. So, here's where I need some help. Did anybody else out there, as a child, the first time you watched the Flintstones, ever realize these were ribs?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


So, we haven't been posting too much because not much has been going on. More things tend to happen while living in third world countries than when living in the U.S. Also, I've been working on a kid's book. Yeah. Me. Working on a kid's book. Go figure. Nevertheless, Heather is very artistic. As long as my story if half ok, Heather will be able to pretty it up. When I was writing on the blog more, I wasn't writing on the story enough. That being said, I know a bunch of you have kids about the age that I'm targeting (probably 3 to 7ish). So, here's the first chapter. It still needs some work, but do me a favor and read it to your kid. If they like it, I'll send you the next chapter. If they don't like it, lemme know what they didn't like. If you have comments, I'd love to hear them. Being a lawyer, I'm used to having my work torn apart. Anyway, the story is about this guy, Emmitt (aka Pi):

I've got another one planned for Elvis, but we've gotta get one in the books first.'s the first chapter:

Pi, The Merdog

Chapter 1
Pi lived on the edge of a huge, crystal blue lake with his mother and father. More than anything else, Pi loved to fish in the lake with his mother. Each morning, Pi’s mother pulled on her tall leather boots, took up her fishing pole and bobber, along with a package of golden fishing hooks, a carton of worms, and a snack for the two of them. Pi’s mother strolled through the twisted oak trees and open meadows, while Pi chased grasshoppers and birds, his tail bobbing up and down as he ran. Once his mother began fishing, though, Pi became very serious, and he would lay at his mother’s feet as she cast a golden hook into the water of the lake.

Pi loved the bright orange bobber that floated in the clear water, and he imagined that the bobber was a bright sun floating above an underwater city. In the city lived fish of every size, shape and color. As he looked into the depths of the lake, Pi envisioned forests of aquatic plants, and underwater houses built into the algae covered rocks. Pi even thought he saw a cobbled fence curving along the silt-covered bottom of the lake. As he lay in the sun, Pi dangled one blonde, hairy paw into the cool water as his mother caught beautiful fish after fish – bright red sunfish, steely blue catfish, and emerald green trout with silver speckles. Sometimes, his mother told Pi to kiss the fish before she released it back into the blue water. Pi often wondered why his mother never kept or ate any of the fish. Pi had many friends that ate fish for dinner- as fillets, and casseroles, sticks and salads. Not his family, though, as each fish that was caught went right back into the soft waters of the lake.

Now, it should be known that, while he tried very hard to listen to his mother and father, Pi often got into trouble due to his powerful imagination. For example, there was the time when his mother’s garden was attacked by dimpled, red aliens from a distant planet. Left alone, Pi was forced to defend the garden by himself, the lone soldier who could save the earth. Late that afternoon, his mother found Pi lying on his back in the garden, red juice staining his white muzzle and paws, his belly so full he could not stand, and all of her prized strawberries had been either eaten or trampled.

Then, there was the time that Pi borrowed his neighbor’s kite to fly in the meadow. Many hours later, his mother found both the kite and Pi high atop a twisted and gnarled oak tree. Pi was a battle weary knight defending the queen’s land from a vicious dragon. The tail of the kite wound tightly around almost every branch in the tree, as Pi, the knight, led the dragon around the kingdom, tying it into knots during the battle. Pi was so startled on hearing his mother yell his name that he almost fell from the tree. Roused from his imagination, Pi looked sorrowfully at the tattered and broken kite, no longer seeing the dragon. His mother looked at his sorrowful eyes and sighed, “Pi, you have a wonderful imagination, but you must be careful with it. You saved the kingdom from the dragon, but destroyed Mr. Martinson’s kite in the process. If used correctly, your creativity will get you out of trouble, and not so often into it.” Pi slowly climbed down from the tree. “Sorry, Mama,” he said, his tail hooked between his legs.

The end of Chapter 1.

I've got about 10 chapters so far, with probably 3 more to go. Lemme know what you think.