Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I’ve lived in Texas all my life and we’re in the worst drought I’ve seen in my lifetime. The other day the headline in the newspaper read: Texas is on fire, which is partly true. There have been wildfires everywhere due to the severe drought. A few weeks ago one was about fifteen miles from our house. Too close for my peace of mind.

Now we have these insane high temperatures that are unbearable. It was 107 degrees yesterday (Thursday) and I think today was the same. When I go outside it feels like I’ve stepped into an oven. If you live in Texas, you know what I’m talking about. And the temperature keeps rising. Lakes and ponds are drying up and the rivers are low. Fish and wildlife are dying. If we don’t get rain soon, I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Well, I do. In our city they’re talking about limiting water usages and I heard on the news last night that if we keep having the high temperatures, rolling blackouts will start. Not looking forward to that.

Since the lakes and ponds are evaporating in the intense heat, it’s revealing things hidden beneath the water. We live on a lake and now all these stumps are showing which used to be hidden under water. Only the taller dead trees were showing. We never knew all that was under the water. And in an east Texas lake that is low they discovered a part of the space shuttle Columbia that exploded.

I’m going on the theory that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So I decided to channel all this frustration into a book. I can write about the heat and the fires realistically. I think. It may not be much fun though, but it will create a lot of conflict and angst.

How’s the weather in your area? Please tell me it’s raining somewhere.

The Texan’s Secret – Aug ‘11

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Garden Woes

I do not have a green thumb. That's why I'm thrilled my daughter and husband wanted to grow some veggies this summer. We planted late, due to the tornadoes and endless downpours. While they dug and seeded the ground, I tried one of those upside down hanging tomato planters. I bought a nice healthy plant, the more expensive soil, and fertilizer as the instructions suggested. My DH agreed to let me hang it on the birdfeeder pole, which he had to reinforce so it wouldn't fall over. But it started to bend anyway. eeks So I bought a special hook for the back fence, which put the plant in the sun all day. Then the weather turned deadly hot--in the high 90s for a week (which turned into high 90s most of summer--except when we hit the low 100s), and it had to be watered twice a day (although, I admit, my daughter did it 98% of the time). In three days it was paper dry and shriveled anyway.

I have a grape tomato plant in a bucket on my porch. I call him Gilbert. (It's okay if you don't think that's funny, but it makes me laugh.) He's been cossetted like an only child--watered twice daily, talked to, moved around to protect him from getting too hot. He had some pretty yellow flowers which turned into lovely nuggets.

My husband's tomatoes and lettuce fared better, although we haven't picked many tomatoes yet. One Roma, two grape. :( But the lettuce was delicious. He served it wilted (which I find amusing), but it was terrific.

Squirrels and chipmunks are enjoying my daughter's plantings. The baby bunny is plump now with a beautiful coat. I haven't seen a zucchini yet, nor a squash, but my daughter's been shooing out the critters. We have had green beans at least, which start as pretty purple flowers.

A new visitor arrived last week, this praying mantis. He's (well, I don't know if it's a boy) cute and harmless, so we left him alone. I hope he eats bugs and scares away the bigger critters, but I'm not holding out much hope for that last bit. (I don't begrudge the animals their meals, but they could have left me one of Gilbert's tomatoes.)

This is why we rely on the farmers and their local produce. Last week, we went to Wisconsin and had amazing fresh corn off a stand that was replenished from the field several times a day. Funnily enough, the white peaches everyone raved over were from southern Illinois, not far from St. Louis. I made sure to find some when I returned--they're sweet as candy.

So although our small garden is suffering, we're blessed with the farmers in the nation who keep food on our table. Have you grown anything this year? Do you have any tips to share for next year's garden? I need all the help you can offer.

Megan Kelly
Stand-In Mom, Sept