Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My project was scheduled for June. My husband enjoys making hypertufa troughs and planters and the Divas of the Dirt were interested in trying to do it themselves.
DivasoftheDirt,thinking abt Hypertufa
The plan was that Oz would head a hypertufa workshop and everyone would go home with a small trough.
I sent out a note:
Glinda: Oz has the perlite, peat, Portland cement, cardboard molds & a base to work on. For mixing the hypertufa each Diva will need to bring a plastic dishpan/tub thing that holds approximately 12-quarts/3 gallons ... some kind of waterproof, flexible gloves (disposable are fine) so the skin on your hands doesn't come in contact with the hypertufa mixture...We'll be working in the garage - no A/C but shade and a breeze.

Karla: what tools do we need to bring to work in yard while stuff is drying/setting?

Glinda: don't know what we can do out there if we don't get rain... the ground is like a rock.

Mattie had done a lot since her Diva Day: Thought I’d share… After many exhausting hours of sweating I have completed the first stage of the front. I got chopped brick at the stone yard-three trips totaling 1,000 lbs for the border. Might need more but I need a good rain (don’t we all?) so I can see how it settles. Filled in with soil and mulch and plants from friends... What do you think?

Divasofthedirt, new front edging
But we never had summer Diva Day ... so many things happened in both our personal lives and in Central Texas during the summer of 2011.

We stood with hoses in hand, trying to keep gardens alive. We watched the bills for air-conditioning soar and we ate a lot of salads!

We had many happy family visits, went on vacations, said sad farewells.

The weather continued its brutal attack on living things... by June 14th Austin had already experienced 10 days over 100°F. The lake levels kept dropping and the usual Fourth of July fireworks were cancelled. All green things were stressed and we heard reports of even native trees ready to die from the drought.
By July 30th we were on Day 44 of temperatures over 100°F. On August 11th we broke another record... the LOW for the day was 82°F.

We'd given up the idea of a summer date - by the third week in August the possibility of having autumn project days seemed dicey.
Buffy: Does anyone think it will cool off into the 90s' by the time [September] the 17th comes?

Annie:Hopefully, but I doubt it!!

Glinda: It looks as if we will tie the all time days-over-100-degree record today and blow it away tomorrow. Oz bets that we'll then get frost by Halloween.

Mattie: I have been hand watering my new shrubs and trees and hope they make it. Scary when they say that we won’t see the full extent of the damage until after the first freeze. There are so many trees dead already. Yikes. This has been a good incentive to creating more plans for plantings and to rip up more grass…later, when its cooler.

With the drought, the heat and the hot winds came fire - a dead tree or piles of branches could no longer be thought of as brush... now they looked liked FUEL.

Welding started one fire, outdoor cooking another... eventually all outdoor grilling was temporarilly forbidden.
In mid-August, fires in Leander damaged 15 homes

August 24th - we broke the 1925 record for 70 days of 100°F

August 28th tied the all-time Austin high temperature of 112°F set in September 2000.

Fires popped up all around Central Texas from west of Fredericksburg to Steiner Ranch, north to Cedar Park/Leander and far east to Bastrop and Canyon Creek. The devastation was enormous and we all knew people who were affected. Many people were evacuated, some lost property and vehicles, many lost animals in the blazes, some lost everything.

Notices like this went out from government agencies:
More than 4,000 homes have been evacuated in Bastrop County as a wildfire assails the area. With tinderbox conditions raising the specter of more blazes in Central Texas, you might want to consider what you should bring if your neighborhood is evacuated. The Texas Department of State Health Services has helpfully compiled a list of recommended items.

The Bastrop Fire was historic and tragic.

September 11th was day #82 of days over 100°F. The Bastrop fire statistics were given as 1500 houses burned, 35,000 acres burned with several people still missing. The fire was only considered 50% contained. Most of Lost Pines State park had burned, a loss for everyone.

Here we were in the middle of September and for many parts of Austin, the last measurable rain had been a mere inch in early June. New fires kept popping up and it was still hot. Sugar's turn had been planned for mid-September & she decided to stick with that date since most of her project was cutting back, cutting out hackberries that had seeded into borders, removing bad liriope and adding mulch.
We could help her do these tasks... but more than that - we needed to see each other!

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