Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Gardens

There are gardens we plant in places that have seen flowers before
places that have known the fragrance of roses and the seeds of zinnias

Then there are places that have not seen anything but the grass or trees that have been
an unbroken chain for millenia. Ours is the task to change it or preserve it.
I cannot change the fact that there will be new houses in old places.
I can help them find the plants that are best suited to that place
and how to maintain the integrity of the environment.
Follow the directions on the label. La Label es La Ley. Why is it so much easier for the female of the species to grasp this idea? Because they actually learned how to follow the directions of a recipe? Application of chemicals whether they are considered organic or not. Some chemists despise the terms "organic" and "chemical" when it comes to agriculture, gardening or landscaping. The others just giggle and wag their heads in disdain. They have entered the vernacular and I am stuck with them for lack of better options.
Not following the directions on the label of the bag, bottle or container of stuff whether it came from the petro-chemical industry, squeezed out of an orange peel or was scraped off the barn floor means that it can be ineffective, dangerous to non-target species or a waste of money. If you spray orange oil as a herbicide willy-nilly anywhere you have a mind to and without regard for established procedures then you will cause harm where it was not intended. Applying any product without regard for the directions is going to cause problems.

There are so many products on the market that fail to live up to expectations. I thoroughly detest "weed blocker" because it does not work as promoted. In fact it actually makes the situation worse. I have pulled up far more of this weed laden fabric and impermeable plastic than I have ever laid down. One of my previous bosses was crazy about the stuff. It wasn't as though we did not have an unlimited supply of mulch and compost. He was convinced that this cloth would prevent weeds from growing. It does not. It cannot. A perennial plant will grow through it and embed itself in the fabric. Nutsedge will embed its tubers in the fabric meaning that extraction of them is impossible other than cutting out the fabric and splicing a fresh piece.
It sucks. It doesn't make my job easier, it makes it harder. The only time I find fabric like this useful is as a backing for a dry stacked wall to prevent or retard the soil from seeping through the gaps in the blocks or stone. That is it. As a weed preventer or barrier it is worthless.
Another product which seems to be heavily promoted is Atrazine. Supposedly a wonder bullet capable of rendering any lawn on par with a USGA green. The problem is that they don't bother to inform you outside of the very small paragraph buried in the boilerplate that it is mobile in the soil and can damage trees, shrubs and flowers. Gee, that sort of info might be handy.
I am downright anal about putting out chems of any kind. I want to know as much as is available about what it does and what to expect. I want to know about any risks or shortcomings of the product. The retailer just wants to sell me something. I don't begrudge him that fact.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I like flowers. Growing turf for football, soccer, golf or cows requires all the brain power of a gnat. Dirt+water+sun+some sundry elements/ leafy green material= Turf. Yeah, sure the golf course goes to great lengths to present a table top in the form of a green to confound lowly humans into breaking their putter into pieces so that they will buy another one, but they have a whole barn full of toys/equipment to fool you into believing that it requires a degree to run the place. The lady who owns one of the most exclusive private clubs in Texas, daughter to the man who established Colonial has exactly three fellows of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity who combined might have fifteen minutes of formal instruction in the art of turfgrass cultivation.
I asked the man when we went on tour if he had problems with migratory birds bothering the greens or fairways looking for grubs or other insects. His reply was yes it happens occasionally, but it really was not much of an issue. I inquired as to his method of excluding these federally protected species of avian attackers of good golf.
"Oh, I just tie the dog between two trees for a few days and then they leave."
Yeah, it requires some serious brain power to grow grass.
Flowers on the other hand will confound the most dedicated of gardeners. As if they were bent on a suicidal deathwish they receive our loving attention with all the regard of a catatonic patient. Coddling, coercion, cajoling in any measure will garner me nothing with some of the more recalcitrant ones. Some survive and even thrive as a means to spite me. "Oh you ignore me now! I will show you, you sorry sonofabitch! I am gonna bloom my ass off! Take that!"
They perturb and intrigue me. They never cease to surprise me.
Grass is easy, corn is easy, flowers are hard.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Texas 2 and 5

Texas 2
crunchy sound of frozen turf wind whistling in the trees
icy fingers touching your neck
taste of dust and rust, as the plow parts the soil
clang and clamor of metal
touch of glass windows, shining in the sun
bustling city
hurrying to and fro, from anywhere and everywhere
farmer alone on the tractor
hub of the wheel touching the rim of the earth
buzzing bugs in the trees of summer
the crackle of grasshoppers in a field
relentless sun beats down upon the earth, hammering the inhabitants
the ants go down in the heat of the day
pity the individual who must go out to burn their skin
tar on the road is sticky hot, boiling in the sun
we survive, knowing that someday soon summer will give up and go away
usher in the cool air of autumn
with a rushing wind the trees shed their leaves
frost burns the leaves and drives them back to earth
so it goes on
rain and snow, sunshine, wind, earth and sky

Texas #5
Shall i say we are more like an amalgam or the conglomerated collection of souls?
Mashed together like so many taters
we sit at the crossroads of earth and sky
the flowers of our nativity persist
People from all over the globe come here, passing by or persisting
maintaining their specific tastes and passions and sharing them around
Dare I say that the influx of East and West has not had an impact?
if it weren't for Yankees, would we have A/C in Texas?
I might have never discovered horseradish on beef or sushi and wasabi
I wrestle with this 'harmless perversion' of loving Texas
a state that bore forth W, LBJ, and Barbara Jordan
Billie Sol Estes and Walter Cronkite
There is much good and evil simultaneously
Peculiar place this Texas yet just right for me
I miss it when I’m gone

Saturday, June 07, 2008

John Hiatt

Slow Turning

Perfectly Good Guitar

Something Wild

Friday, June 06, 2008

more from the file

On a paper towel

When the shock wears off

the bouts of sad are fewer and farther between

you begin to realize you are alone

it is likely to be that way for the foreseeable future

when you split the blanket it is

so much more than the partitioning of stuff and belongings

or even who is the primary conservator of the children's welfare

it is that you must recollect yourself

pick-up from the murky mire move on

find some worthwhile tasks you can simply occupy your time with

Somewhere down the road I’ll feel like myself again

despite the fact that they tell me I sound more like me than anytime

in the last decade

something is missing and amiss

I am not he who was before and I am not sure I want to be

I would feel a little better if the me I am now is ok with everybody else

even if I am not sure who that is


The strings do not know words

They know not the limitations of

Language culture or time

Notes are universal, rhythm is inherent

Music is born into us

As much as our color of hair or skin

Even if we have no talent, no skill

Music touches us and the ear that hears

A soul that is stirred

By the sounds of string and wind

The skin of a drum

Is not enslaved by words

Even if a mind cannot grasp a song in a language not my own

My heart, mind and soul

Can nonetheless be touched by the presence of music

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Things to bear in mind about Austin

Only those who are familiar to Austin will understand and find the humor...

1. First, it's pronounced AWS-TUN. It doesn't matter how they say it in other places.

2. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Austin has its own set of traffic rules. There's no book about them. All you can do is get in your car and hope you survive to learn them.

3. All directions start with "Go down Mopac...'cause you don't want to get on I-35." No one knows for sure what 'Mopac' means.

4. Burnet Road, Braker Lane, and Lamar Blvd. have no beginning and no end.

5. It is impossible to go around a block and wind up on the same street that you started on.

The Chamber of Commerce calls this a scenic drive.

6. The 8:00am rush hour is from 6:30am to 9:30am.

The 5:00pm rush hour is from 3:30p to 7:15pm.

Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

7. If you actually stop at a yellow light, then you cannot be from Austin.

You may only apply your brakes when the end of a yellow light and the beginning of the red light creating a burnt-orange hue. This is Longhorn Country, after all.

8. If you like being an individual, don't even think of working for Dell. You'll be branded like cattle and made to walk all over town with your Dell Tag around your neck or clipped on to your belt loop. Ninety-eight percent of the people within a 200 mile radius work for Dell.

When someone says "Michael Dell", Dell employees are trained to face Round

Rock, hit their knees, put their face to the ground, weep, and rock back and forth.

9. Just remember that Mopac IS Loop 1; Capital of Texas Hwy IS 360; and U.S. 183 IS Research Blvd., Anderson Land, Ed Bluestein Blvd. and Old Bastrop Hwy; 2222 IS Northland Dr. or Allendale Rd. or Koenig Lane. Don't try to figure it out. Just accept it. If you question the intelligence behind this naming convention, people will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you.

10. If moisture is determined to be rain, and not sweat, all traffic must immediately come to a screeching halt; ditto for daylight savings time, a female UT student applying eye-shadow across the street, or a flat tire three lanes over.

11. DO NOT attempt to access any road after an apocalyptic event like snow or SXSW (South by Southwest Music Convention).

Construction on I-35 AND U.S. 183 is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. Get used to it!

12. Attn: All telephone solicitors...DO NOT correct my pronunciation when I say I live in Manchaca, TX. It's pronounced MAN-shack (just like a man living in shack). Also realize that the city of Manchaca (MANshack) is in Hays and Travis Counties, and there is also a very long street in Austin named Manchaca (MANshack)! The city of Manor and Manor Rd. are pronounced

'MAY-ner'. We don't like corrections on that either. And, for God's sake, DON'T pronounce the 'E' at the end of Guadalupe. It's Gwada-LOOP and we like it that way!

13. Burnet Road is pronounced BURN-it, not Bur-NET. Koenig Lane is pronounced KAE-nig not KOE-nig. The old airport (Robert Mueller) is pronounced Robert Miller and is on Airport Boulevard. The new airport (Austin-Bergstrom) is no where near Airport Boulevard. It's in the city of Del Valle pronounced Dell Valley!

14. Keep in mind that the sloppily dressed 'hippie' in worn-out sandals and earrings is probably the latest IPO millionaire.

15. Stay away from the Congress Ave. Bridge at sundown if you do not like the thought of being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. (Largest Mexican Freetail Bat population in the US.)

16. And, yes, we all know that there's a man in a teddy and a tiara on Congress Ave. It's Leslie, and he probably makes more money than you do. (Surely you have a homeless, celebrity drag queen that likes to run for mayor where you live, too, right?)

And you wonder why there are so many bumper stickers that say 'Keep Austin Weird'?


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Don't forget to smile

I really have to remember to be happy sometimes
It isn’t hard.

Life is too hilarious to be sad all the time
The words of a child
Stories from old people
Some little blurb in the paper about a glow in the dark fish in pink and green

Things like that make me laugh
There are many reasons to cry

sometimes I have to look for a reason to laugh
I can read the funniest funnies in the world

See a movie that should make me piss my pants
But if I am determined to be sad

Then that is what I am

I think it is better to be happy

Monday, May 19, 2008

blues and the substance of music

John Lee Hooker

Hey, yeah I know him

saw him down there at Antone's

premier gig in Austin, TX

I swear he had five fingers of whiskey in a highball glass

Big fat Gibson guitar sitting there tickling the strings with part of the house band and the remainder of his crew, long haired whiteboy working lead beside him and a tall black man blowing sax

I was on a chair at the back, girlfriend standing before me, wondering at the spectacle of a man

I will not soon forget "Tupelo", even if I did not hear it that night

I read one time the efforts of a man to write into musical notation what the man rendered into sound

It was complicated and was the best effort he could muster, to transcribe into notes what the man played in the honky-tonk

all he had was a piece of plywood, his guitar and himself

I heard the first thing BB King played was the wire from a broom, between two nails on the front porch, his slide was the spool remaining from the thread

find a way to translate that into four lines of notations

every good boy does insufficient

pavarotti cannot read music

john lee can't either

and those who write music

have a hard time figuring out what EXACTLY

either one was doing on the stage or recording

and I am in the audience

somehow I am amused by all this


you can either measure the speed of the electron

or find its place

you cannot do both


measure me this

find me the substance of a man

weigh the words and find their mass

i challenge those who would measure out this life

who would know exactly what is the facts of the matter

you cannot

you can only get so close

then you have to feel it

and that has no ruler, no scale

no rule book

you have to find it for yourself

Saturday, May 10, 2008

more art, if you can stand it

i still think hippies were germinated back during WWI when the rest of the world was
still thinking war was an honorable task and not something found at the
wrong end of a gun walking at a trench
some men went mad
and others just made like it was so, who would know?
throw another thousand men into the breach of fortifications
and let them billow upon the waters of lead

yes, let us walk into the gunfire of the implacements of machines
brilliant! let us salute the brass with our ass
so well informed, so shall we fight our fight
let us walk into the teeth of the guns
and perhaps we shall survive going over the top

when the brass asks, no tells us
you, go here and do this
and it is patently idiotic
we tend to buck at the idea
why are we expected to do any less now?

if the marlboro soldier of this latest war
has found himself divorced
and unemployed
what is that to the VA?
such is the lot of the veteran

we treat our disabled lobbyists better than we do our veterans
and that aint right

art: George Grosz, "The Convict"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

100 years war

100 years of war

Finally saw the DNC's hard-hitting commercial
that which has raised and will continue to raise the ire
of the RNC and anybody on the other side of the aisle who voted for this damn thing
they ought to run it in every damn market that exists, until we all know it by heart

I did a diary on protest songs, like that was a first
got some comments and lots of links
it was reassuring to see the young and old remind me
of what I did not remember and was not aware of
good stuff maynard, eat it up

i cannot get through seeing the "War Pigs" edit on Youtube I found
without tears and anger, even now I choke up
I applaud them who gave it to all of us, lest we ever forget the images
that they do not want us to see

if we, the nation, decided to park the dead of the Civil War
in Mrs. Lee's rose garden
let us park our memories in Crawford and Kennebunkport
lest they ever forget. Let it be as the albatross that follows their every tack
haunt them into the grave of their own making

I cannot forget. Whiskey will not kill it
weed only magnifies the sharp images in my brain
my heart bleeds liberally upon page and there is no recourse
but to protest and be active, keep blogging, keep sending emails and money
fight the power. make them die like we have died
I will not relent. I cannot relent.
I owe them too much.

War Pigs

Save our souls.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hockey Poem #1

Being a man where I knew
the smell of churned turf and sweaty pigskin
it really wasn't too far a leap of logic
that the flying fight of hockey
would appeal to my better parts of sportsmanship
and my inner demons of bloodlust and battle
I am awaiting the outcome of what shall be
to see the same and say I was there
I cannot skate any better than a milk cow
But I know a good game when I see one
sport does not know nationality, religion or color
of skin or flag. It is but a game we play
if it is a good game we play and watch
I found stick and puck or it found me
at any rate the 2OT is coming up
and I am out of beer

Verse 2
it was the 5th longest in the modern era, so they say
at 1:23A Central Time on Cinco de Mayo the captain scored
it was over on a Monday morning
sudden death football and extra innings do not compare
the rules do not change, they carry on as before
they survive on sheer guts it seems
I remember games like these

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Golf is a good walk spoiled." Mark Twain

It is the Byron Nelson this weekend. The wind will blow, Tiger will not be there and most of the other big names won't either. When Lord Byron died they stopped coming. They do not like to play in Texas. It makes them look bad. They don't like the wind. They don't like the heat. The Byron does not like to admit it, The Colonial coming up soon, they don't like to admit it either, but it was only a sense of duty that kept the big names coming to Texas. Yeah, Tiger can say whatever he wants, but even if his leg wasn't on the recovery side of surgery, there is no way on earth he would play either tournament. They don't like playing in Texas. Texas is brutal and unforgiving to golfers. The shifting winds are unpredictable. The heat is relentless and the humidity is suffocating.
Golfers whine and complain about EVERYTHING. I know from personal experience that they will bitch about anything they can find when they aren't having a good round. The pin placement is poor. The fairways need to be mowed. The beer isn't cold enough and the ball washers need more soapy water. This is why I love it when they have to work hard to make par. I detest tournaments where the winning score is double digit negative. That is golf for slackers. It is part of why I love seeing them have to deal with the fast greens and vicious wind when it gets unseasonably hot in Augusta or down at the Player's in FLA. I want the course to fight back. Rolling over and showing its belly in submission should not be an option. I wish they made EVERY tournament have the same characteristics as the US Open.Work your ass off and quit your bitching.
I get really tired of complaining sports figures, whatever their endeavor. It is a freaking game that you get to play for money. No matter how you spin it, no matter what you say, you get to play a game I have to pay for to do something I love and get paid for it. The least complainers I know are hockey players and even they are prone to it at times. Bad ice, bad fans, bad refs, whatever, shut up and play. Nascar drivers hollered about the track in Texas for the first few years. Eddie Gossage got so irritated with them he finally said the same thing, "Shut up and race."
Sure, they have every right to complain, bitch and moan. I also have the right to call them on it. If there are valid reasons for their complaints like water leaking under the track, poor ice conditions, anything that might present a real safety threat, those should be and are addressed. But, complaining because of something that is inherent in the sport or is equal to all players is pathetic and shameful.

The third may become first.

I am going to start giving more love to this blog. It is a solid blog area and I will either begin reposting some old ones or post some fresh stuff. As I have said earlier I do have other blogs that have gotten more of my time, but this one has features that I have missed. Will be seeing you more often.