Category Archives: Miscellany

Peacocks and other pleasures

The fancy part of my daily newspaper job involves attending a lot of parties in the city, by which I mean Houston.

(A neighbor here corrected me for saying I was going to “town” one day. “You mean ‘the city,'” she said curtly. “Here, ‘town’ means Brenham.'”)


Anyway, it can be a bit of a culture shock. Sometimes these parties are at private homes that are bigger than our whole yard. Last week I visited a lush estate where a genuinely lovely Indian woman I know was being honored by several dozen designer-clad friends for her 40th birthday.


The poolside tables were outrageously colorful, with flowers as vibrant as the linens, including exotic proteus, orchids and lilies.


Many of the guests blended right in.

The life of the party.

The life of the party.

But wouldn’t you know it, a guy in simple white grabbed all the attention.


He turned sideways, fluttered his fan and showed his rump when women approached. Not all that appealing, actually.


While the humans enjoyed the buffet poolside, he lounged like a prince, although he could have been mistaken for a wedding veil.

the roughage shines like a miracle

April is National Poetry month, and Mary Oliver’s “Poppies” caught my eye today. The last norther of what has been a beautiful, unusually long spring for us has deadheaded most of the pompom poppies today. The ‘Martha Gonzales’ roses are going to be much happier soon.

live in the layers



by Mary Oliver (1935- )

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—

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A Reflective Season

Lights from inside give the deck a warm glow at night.

Sitting on the deck tonight with a glass of wine, it was hard not to get a little philosophical. Maybe it’s the frequent sight of home care nurses checking in on the older neighbors, walking out with their clipboards and driving off. Maybe it’s the recent death of a friend’s father. Maybe it’s just the season – the inevitable winding down of another year that hums underneath all the holiday noise.

Thomas Kinkaid would have loved this place at night.

We’ve been more industrious than the squirrels since we moved here in June. What is this place we’ve made, or we’re making still — and why do we keep working so hard to make it more?

Tonight’s moon.

Go ahead, bay at the full moon, crazy woman.

Gravelly times

That pile of gravel has officially been cleaned from the driveway. The last of it went to creating a path from the south-side gate to the deck. Now, if those weeds could become a garden as quickly.

Moved a variegated gardenia from a pot to the ground just to make it look like we’ve started something. What I know right now: Everything in this area of the yard will have white blossoms so it can be enjoyed from the deck in the evenings.

We are so anxious just to get things in the ground we have begun a very bad habit of not properly prepping beds before we plant. Biggest problem: I keep picking up this and that at nurseries, then need to get it out of the plastic and into the soil.

The current philosophy: Dig out all the weeds and what little St. Augustine might still be alive there; throw in some Lady Bug Revitalizer Compost or similar product, plant high and mulch like hell. Borders, if we ever figure out what they will be, will come later.

The little bricks holding the gravel in place were about 40 cents each at Lowe’s – a Sunday morning score.