Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Memorial for Carolyn

Carolyn Owen Thomas died of leukemia September 5.

I met Carolyn about 12 years ago when we both served on the board of directors for the Village Library of Wimberley. At a library fundraiser, we commiserated on how uncomfortable we felt at social gatherings, and we agreed that small talk was not our forte. We could avoid socializing by finding chores to do, so we busied ourselves gathering used glasses and crumpled napkins.

We both loved books and nature.  She was a military spouse, who had worked as a librarian in several schools in Hays County. She was also part of the local quilting group.

Our lives intersected again when my husband and I bought property next door to Carolyn and her husband Marshall. They were happy to have our family as neighbors, and we were thrilled to live next to such wonderful, caring people.

My daughter and I subsequently went to tea at Carolyn’s house. We admired the rock wall that lined the long driveway, rocks gathered and placed by Marshall. The Thomases had trimmed up the many cedar trees, so the land had a woodsy feel, but was not an impenetrable thicket.

Their house was lovely, with rock sidewalks and native plants decorating the entry. On other side of the house, we sat on the patio overlooking a magnificent field of little bluestem. We toured her husband’s raised bed vegetable garden, bursting with veggie plants and flowers. Outside the gate was a Mexican buckeye, which I had never seen in this area. It was gorgeous!

Sadly for us, about six months after we moved in, the Thomases decided it was time to sell their place and move to Austin, to be closer to family. It was a hard decision for them to make, and we were crushed. Their lives were full, as were ours, and we did not keep in touch after they moved.  

My friend Lona and I attended Carolyn’s service last week. It was held, fittingly enough, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which was very near her Austin home. At the “celebration of her life,” we learned more about her. She was a great mother and cherished spouse, a doting grandmother, a fun-loving friend and sister, a resourceful homemaker. She was indeed a lovely person, and left behind a wonderful family to cherish her memory.

I won’t forget her, either.

 Favorite spot in the garden today:

We have a beautiful patch of morning glory this year covering an eastern porch post. These are beautiful head on, of course, but from inside the house we see them backlit by sunlight. Not only is there a peaceful greenish cast to my living room, but the blue flowers just glow. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


With all the rain we've had, the mushrooms are back and beautiful! Miss H. went mushroom hunting yesterday, and this morning we went out to take pictures of some of her finds (and one of mine). We know absolutely nothing about them, but find them fascinating nonetheless. The fact that they lay dormant until the conditions are perfect is amazing; the conditions are not perfect here in Hays County very often!

Do you see him? Miss H.'s sharp eyes did!

This is not a mushroom, but we thought it was pretty!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A beautiful volunteer

I’m sitting on my porch, loving the new laptop.  What better place to write about gardening? A cool breeze is blowing, rain clouds are overhead, and occasional sprinkles spatter on the tin roof.

A volunteer American beautyberry is now living in the natural area in front of my house. I found it this summer, drooping in the August heat. I thought it looked like beautyberry, but being a lazy botanist, I did not take the time to look it up and identify it for sure. I like the uncertainty, the mystery. I did take the time to water it a few times, hoping it would survive.

With the drenching rain we received the first week of September, the berries immediately turned that beautiful magenta color that I have been envisioning in my garden for a long time. I was right!  I didn’t want the beautyberry badly enough to actually plant it, I guess. But I’m so happy that a bird planted and fertilized it for me!

Perhaps it is not in the perfect location for its temperament. It is partially shaded by mountain junipers, live oaks, and flame-leaf sumacs, but gets quite a lot of mid-day sun. It is far from a water spigot. However, as I, and many a gardener before me, have discovered, plants that volunteer seem to volunteer in spots where they can be successful. And now that it is established, perhaps the seeds will be transported to other, more perfect, locations on my property.

Favorite spot in the garden today:

Under the cedar trees by the rock patio, the white and red tropical sages have naturalized. Because of the aforementioned rain, they are blooming profusely. In the midst are a couple of century plants that were plopped there five years ago, pending permanent planting out by the front gate. Thank goodness they have not actually taken hold and grown, but have merely existed.  (I know what you’re thinking:  get those things out of there – and you’re right!) Nature has created, as it does, a lovely little garden spot.