Friday, April 26, 2013

Effie Trinket

Today was our high school's second anual student film festival. This year, students chose a hero, a villain and a random character. Our hero was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, our villain was President Snow and our random characters were the minions from Despicable Me. We had a pretty clever little story-line that proved harder to shoot than I thought it would be. We had fun, but it was an exhausting day. I was allowed to have a cameo in the movie, so I volunteered myself as Effie Trinket. I was utterly ridiculous, but I had fun. Thank you Courtney for the amazing hair and make-up! Mom and Andy asked to see the clip of my cameo, so here it is...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And the winner is...

Our apartment complex has been trying to build community lately. There are a lot of events every month to try to get people involved. There have been outdoor movies, game nights, a super bowl party, and events for kids and even pets. I confess, I haven't gotten into any of it too much. Andy & I donated about half of our home-made salsa to the Super Bowl party, but then we watched the game in our PJ's at our own place! I complement the crew at the Marquis at Volente for trying, but most of their events are not things that I am willing to carve out time in my schedule to try to attend.

This past month, they've had two events running- a March Madness bracket competition and a Spring Bling patio competition. I was aware of both competitions because I get the community emails, but I wasn't paying too much attention. I watched Andy bring home a bracket and fill it out one night. He asked me some questions, and I redirected him to my brother, who has ESPN. He got pretty into it, but I was too concerned (as I usually am) with genomes, Hess's Law and that sort of thing to think much about the community competitions.

But this past weekend, I had a two days off, and I began to think about a couple of things. I come from a family of gardeners. My mother's people, the Cobles, were farmers, and they have green in their blood. My aunts and my uncle have green thumbs, fingers, and I'm pretty sure if you could persuade them to take off their ratty old yard shoes, their toes would have a little greenish tint to them too. My aunts frequently invite one another over, not for coffee or a chat, but to see one another's plants. The last time I visited my Uncle Richard in Columbia, South Carolina with my mother, we spent almost the entire time walking around in his yard, and only left so that we could go get a bite at his favorite hot dog joint. Already this week my mom has used her iphone camera to update me on the state of her Saucer Magnolia and informed me that she's been to Bell's Nursery to buy snaps and glads.

In addition to this family heritage, I myself am a subscriber to both Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens. I don't even have a yard, and yet I know that I share "The Grumpy Gardener's" opinion on "Crape Murder" and I know where and when to plant bulbs in my zone, and I find that I am currently really liking the trend of color-themed gardens and outdoor living spaces (but I'm a little too chicken to try it myself). So when last Thursday afternoon came, and I realized that I was going to have four days of relatively school-free thought, my inner Coble took charge. "I have to at least try," I thought.

I haven't had a living thing on my porch in months. The Texas heat is a force to be reckoned with, and our porch gets afternoon sun, so perennials are not really an option. I tried being brave and bought a bougainvillae that added gorgeous color in the height of the summer but eventually went the way of most of my other porch plants...which is to say, it died. I had a few annuals in some pots last summer that made it until August (a victory in itself!) I also had a cilantro and basil that did well until they got buggy, but nothing since then. On Good Friday morning, all my pots stood empty in a corner on my forgotten porch, but I had an itch to change that situation. I remembered then that my grandaddy Coble said that you should always plant your garden on Good Friday. So Friday afternoon, Andy and I set about taking his advice.

First we went to Home Goods to try to find a shelf of some sort. While walking the dogs earlier, I had scoped out the competition, and there was one porch in particular that I knew had put quite a bit of effort into sprucing up for the competition. There were a lot of plants on the porch, and the overall vibe was bright and fresh, but it lacked structure. "I can beat that," I thought, "but I've got to get something that pulls it all together." Fortunately, I found a barn-red fold out shelf at Home Goods that would do just the trick. I glanced at the price tag- $59.99- whew, a little steep! So I continued walking around Home Goods, looking for a similar, but cheaper, option. There wasn't really anything. I think that's when I made a critical decision. "Go hard or go home, Wermel," I thought to myself. "You can't let that porch with the lime green chairs beat you- you're from North Carolina, for goodness sake. You know how a properly maintained outdoor space ought to look. Take one for the Old North State, and fork up the 60 bucks!" That's when I knew that I wasn't trying anymore. I was out to win! And since I was trying to win now, I decided to also buy a large outdoor lantern with a faux candle- perfect for Texas because real wax candles melt outside here.

With the shelf and lantern in the Jeep, I was on a roll! Our next stop was Lowe's to buy some plants. Though I wanted to win the competition, I did think a little bit long-term. I didn't want to just buy a bunch of plants that I wasn't going to actually enjoy for the months to come. So we invested in some herbs I use for cooking, a few heirloom tomatoes, some serrano pepper plants, and some flowers- a Gerber daisy, two zinnias and a "spring mix" of different colored petunias.

Back at home, we got everything nestled into pots and placed in their own little nook on the porch just in time for Good Friday service at church. I was a little put-off by the asymmetry of the porch, as Andy said, it looked very "left-heavy" because all of the plants had to fit into one corner. This is because the porch is extremely small, and there is no way to place a plant on the right, and still be able to access the two bistro chairs I purchased once upon a summer at Target. But all of my SL and BHG reading hasn't been for naught. I know that looks ought not trump functionality, and so I left it as it was.

 Andy went over to the office Friday afternoon to make sure there wasn't anything that we needed to "do" to enter the competition. He strolled back across the parking lot, and caught my eye as I fussed over the placement of my flying pig watering can. "Don't worry about that, baby," he said, "We already won." I was instantly elated, and then saw the quirky smile on his face... he was just messing with me- an early April Fool's joke. We hadn't won, but I had high hopes. All that was left was to wait for the judging on Monday. The weekend passed and there was only one brief moment of panic when my daisy lost turgor pressure Sunday afternoon, and began to look wilted, but a little water perked it right back up, and everything was okay.

Then, today, I got an email saying that we had won the competition! Even after the whole process of trying to win and represent my home-state and family name well, I was really surprised. Who wins things? Not usually me! We got a $50 gift card to a nice movie theater- one of those that serves fancy food and has fully reclining seats. Sure I spent twice that much making my porch competition-ready, but I think it was worth it. I can't invite my aunts over to see my irises and I can't ask any of them for cuttings, and it's going to be years yet before I get the chance to see if I really am gutsy enough to pull off a color-themed garden, but for today, I am the winner. And maybe it's just the lighting of this stormy April evening, but I think that when I look at it just right, my thumb looks just the slightest shade of green. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

A little different Easter Sunday

I love Easter. It probably is my favorite holiday. I mean, I love Christmas, but it's easy for me to get caught up in all the hype of that season, and the spiritual significance often gets watered down by the decorations and the traditions and the time with family. (And of course, I LOVE all of those things too!) But Easter seems to always surprise me with pure joy, and it always seems to come at just the right moment. Just when I am getting so tired that I don't want to keep going. Just when my heart needs to rejoice at the miracle of grace.

I also love that Easter has just a little bit of the spontaneous to it. When I was a child, we spent Easter in different places. Sometimes we gathered at my grandmother's house, sometimes we took a road-trip down to Hilton Head to see good family friends. Always there was a pretty new dress involved, and candy and most likely, a good meal with family & friends, but that meal changed locations and fares many times. The important thing, I suppose, was that it always happened.

When we first got married, I made a big deal of Easter at our house- forcing Andy to dress up for church and serving up a fancy Sunday dinner that I prepared. We took lots of pictures- even posed by the fireplace with our white trumpet lily in our Easter best. I was so homesick at that point that I wanted to make Easter Sunday feel as much like my childhood Easters as I could. I even made Andy an Easter basket!

Since then, things have settled. My heart still pines for home- just today, I registered for a 10k, and inadvertently typed "Fayetteville" in or my city of residence. Old habits die so hard. But, God has been working on my heart this year to rest in Him. So much striving for so long to perform well and make the best of things, even sometimes to the point of trying to make things in Texas into something that they aren't- mainly, they aren't North Carolina (go figure). Well, it's all worn me out. And I'm finding so much freedom in rest. It's nice to not try to make everything perfect all the time. (I'll have to write more about that another time).

Anyway, this year, that freedom found its way into the way we celebrated Easter. First off, we decided we'd have a picnic. We wanted to get our doggies out on a 'venture the way that we had been out on a 'venture to Boerne. Also, there was a park we discovered while driving around Georgetown back in the fall that we'd yet to pay a visit. So Sunday morning, we headed to early church, then packed a picnic lunch and headed to Berry Springs Park in Georgetown. The day was a little rainy, and rather cool. But green and fresh. There was a meal, and there was family, and it was a lovely Easter.

My favorite thing about Texas- bluebonnets
Our picnic- ham biscuits, deviled eggs, strawberries, cheese & crackers and Easter chocolates! 
"Please, Daddy." 
After lunch, we went for a walk. It rained most of the time, but we didn't really care. 
Daisy looks up from the fire pit area- so much for a girl to explore.
And explore she did! She climbed this tree. She really loves to climb trees and has absolutely no fear, which I guess is okay since I'm scared enough for both of us! 
I tried taking more pictures of Gatsby, but he stayed so busy with his ball, he was hardly ever still enough for me to get a good photo of him. 

Happy Easter from our family. :) 

A little 'venture

Even though we've only been back from the DR for a couple of weeks, by this weekend, Andy & I were already ready for another adventure. This mostly has to do with the fact that I was cooped up in the apartment for most of that time because I brought a mysterious illness back with me from the DR. Robin thinks I had Dengue Fever (courtesy of the Caribbean mosquitoes), but I didn't get officially tested. Whatever it was, it did me in for about ten days! It was pretty slow recovery, but I was back to full health by this weekend and ready to explore!

Last fall, we visited a friend's family ranch out in Utopia, and on the way there, we passed through quaint little Boerne. (Pronounced Burn-ee) Ever since then, I've wanted to go back and visit! When my mom and dad were here back in January, we suggested that they go on a little day trip there. They loved it. So this Saturday, Andy and I decided it was our turn to check it out. 

Andy googled "things to do in Boerne" and a link for "The Cave Without a Name" popped up. Andy & I have had a little fascination with caves since listening to Blind  Descent on tape during our return road trip from Yosemite a couple of summers ago. After a pretty leisurely morning at home, we finally packed up, and headed South to see what we could find in a nameless cave and the town nearby. 

Our guide told us that the cave was discovered in the 1920's when a goat fell down this hole in the ground. People went down to retrieve its body and found there was a lot more to this hole than you can detect from the surface. 
Stairs lead you down to the main rooms of the cave. 

The top part is the stalactite. Water carries minerals and as it drops the mineral deposits harden to form the stalactite. Of course, some of the water drops to the ground and deposits minerals there, so stalactites are coupled with stalagmites, which is the formation you see here at the bottom. Eventually, the two will meet and oddly-shaped formations result. 

They call this one "Modern Art." I think it looks like an alien. 

The guide called these formations along the wall "Texas-sized bacon." 

And these were "White Grapes" 

I was glad to get back to the sunlight. I could never be a caver. Too claustrophobic for that. But I didn't mind these giant geodes and fossils on the property. I took a couple of pics and then I was ready to head on to town. 

We hadn't had lunch, so once we got to Boerne, we stopped in at Soda Pop's for a snack. Andy liked this old car packed outside. The whole experience was a blast from the  past. 

Even though fries were only 18 cents, we opted for fried pickles as a snack before we headed off to some of the stores. 

The only drawback to visiting small towns in Texas, is that stores tend to close early. By about 5:30 everybody had closed up shop. So Andy & I took a walk along the river trail before dinner.


I stopped taking pictures after our walk, but our adventure continued into the evening. We stopped in at a "wine boutique" and sat on the patio for about an hour and a half. We met some local shop owners, who shared our love for Cocker Spaniels (theirs was with them on the patio) and we chatted away with them as the sun went down. They gave us a little insight into life in Boerne, and also recommended that we eat at Cypress Grill, which we did and it was absolutely delicious. We left Boerne around 9 PM, very full, pretty tired, and I might say, a little bit enchanted. :)