Thursday, December 24, 2015


I just got my drone back in the air after a bit of a hiatus, so what else to do but a quick before and after of the front yard?

Here's what it used to look like, last January. I didn't get quite high enough to show the whole yard but you can see it was not a pretty thing.

And here's what it looks like now.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Gratuitous Cat Pictures

Because it's been far too long since we had a Cat Post.

Sunshine Noir

Sunshine in the Sun

Cat Nest :-)

Something interesting is up this tree...

Smokey poses for the camera

Contemplating bugs in the grass

Surveying his domain

Quality controlling the comfort levels of the bench

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New uses for old things

We have an old fire pit that has been kicking around for ages. The lid rusted through so we replaced it with a bigger pit.

I thought I would clean it up and make a planter out of it. 

Hm, maybe not. The bowl fell apart as soon as I touched it. 

Plan B then; the base was still in good shape, so I took the Percussive Detachment Tool (a hammer) to it and cleaned that up, with steel brushes and sanding. One can of spray paint and a suitably sized terra cotta bowl later, we have This:

A nice splash of color for the front yard. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Of course, it doesn't take long before the tank gets investigated by Cats.

Some of them investigate more closely than others...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Tank

Our neighbors kindly let me borrow their truck, in which I drove into Austin to a splendid shop named Callahan's General Store. This is an excellent agricultural emporium, with everything you could ever need for ranch or farm. Amongst the huge inventory, they sell stock tanks. And stock tanks make for big, cheap(ish), plant pots. They're quite popular around here.

Here is a 4-foot diameter stock tank in the back of the truck.

I had Alan drill some holes in the bottom for drainage. Seems a bit strange, turning a perfectly watertight good honest tank into a sieve. But it's necessary.

Next I took some of the excess rocks that we had in the courtyard and put them into the bottom; again; for drainage. I also lined the sides and part of the bottom with plastic (actually, bubble wrap, since that's what I had handy) - the tank is galvanized steel - apparently zinc can prevent woody growth in plants so it's best to cover it up.

Then it was back to the rock shop again, which also sells various kinds of earth and dirt. I bought half a yard of their Lightening Mix which is part gravel and good for succulents. Next door's truck came in handy again too; here it is being loaded. Unloading it was slower, involving the wheelbarrow, shovel and a hosepipe to wash the truck out afterwards...

And Lo! We have a tank full of earth. Actually, half a yard wasn't quite enough to fill it. I had to go back and buy eight 5-gallon bucketfuls more earth to get the level I wanted.

And then it's the exciting part - planting time! Some of the plants I had around the house, waiting for their turn in a bigger pot. I bought the little blue agave that you see in the center. The two wispy Mexican grasses at the back I had already. The twisty yucca at 10-oclock came from a house nearby who was getting rid of it. The pale grass at 8-oclock, the dark green dangler at 6-oclock and the two small blue-ish ones on the right were bought. There's a pencil cactus at 2-oclock, and the rest are Aloe Veras, all of which came from Dee next door.

All together, they make a nice variety of shapes and colors. Now we will see if they survive in this location (part-sun at best) and of course we're heading into winter. Fingers crossed.

Here's a view of the entire end of the courtyard. In the red pot is a new Inland Sea Oats plant. These make interesting seed pods which rustle in the breeze. None on it yet though; maybe next year.

Friday, October 9, 2015


So... The Tale of the Rock. 

It started with us laying a load of ground fabric in the front yard. Take that, weeds! 

Then I ordered some River Rock from the shop up the road. An hour later, a small mountain appeared next to the driveway. Seven yards of rock, also known as a Metric Crap-Ton. 

I braced myself for probably a week's work of hauling rock, a bit at a time. And made a post on Facebook about it. 

Friend Doug saw the post, and the next day, he showed up with THIS!

Oh yeah!

So we got to work. He fetched rock, lots of rock, and dumped half a scoop at a time into my wheelbarrow, and I would put it in various corners of the yard. 

And soon, the pile looked like this:

And the yard now looks like this! 

I gave Doug a tasty foaming ale after this, I can tell you!

Thanks, Doug :-)

Now, onwards! Time to get some plants in here...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Things that have been Going On

Someone destroyed our gate post the other week. Woke up one morning and it was like this. Of course, nobody has 'fessed up to it.

We got a couple of masons round and now it looks like this. They did a good job. We now need to find some new lights.

Meanwhile, Texas finds new ways in which to surprise us. This was spotted at a rural brewery (Last Stand) on Sunday. You buy a numbered ticket, then they put the chicken in the box. Then you wait. Voila; Chicken Shit Bingo!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Shapes and a plant

Not a whole lot to report on the front yard; it's been too damn hot to do much out there. However, we did lay out some shapes in the garden with metal edging strips. These will be largely hidden eventually but should level out some of the slope in the ground. I've also got a roll of landscape fabric sitting here, ready to put down as a weed barrier. Once that's in place, it's Rock Time.

Today, a nice lady in a neighboring subdivision posted that she had some Red Yucca plants to get rid of. Nice big full grown ones. I managed to snag one! I've been thinking about getting one for our big pot, to put into the back corner of the garden. It's not quite full sun there, but Red Yuccas are supposed to be tolerant of a bit of shade, so I'll try it and see how it gets on. These plants put out six foot tall stalks with pinky-red flowers on, when they bloom. They're also technically an agave, not a yucca at all, so go figure. Hopefully there will be enough sun to get it to bloom.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Front Yard

For the last eight years or so, our front courtyard has looked a lot like this.

And from the other direction:

Well, we're bored of this and it's time to do something about it. So here it is after a bit of razing:

We have plans. Watch this space!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

More Glass

A few recent bits and pieces.

I made a night light, because it was getting gloomy towards the end of last year.

This was a Secret Santa present for a Star Wars fan :-)

A quick extra present for a friend of ours.

I made this for the nice people at Independence Brewing.

And then I made this night light to test to see if I can make interesting shadows. It basically works but needs more refinement. Anyway, I now have another shiny light, so there's that.