Wednesday, September 28, 2016


This post, 2016-FEBRUARY MATTIE’S GARDEN DAY, was written by Annie in Austin/Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt blog

Remember Mattie’s experimental Keyhole Garden back in March, 2015?

The frame wasn’t very full when we left, but Mattie added cardboard, paper and compostables, a top layer of soil and then she planted herbs and vegetables. The garden produced herbs and an occasional vegetable all through the mild winter – a real success!

But from observing sun and shade patterns for a year, Mattie realized the Keyhole Garden was not placed as well as she wanted it – there was a better spot less than 25-ft from the original location. Mattie was glad to have her turn as hostess in February; she hoped we could move and refill the Keyhole for our first garden project of 2016. I admit wondering whether we could do this - even had a weird dream about it!

When I pulled up at Mattie’s house I found Diva Annie (First, as usual!), Karla and Mattie. We took a look at the garden.

The contents had been decomposing all year. Now the Keyhole was only one-quarter full. Some tomato and pepper plants were still growing – inside the keyhole structure there had been no freezes.

Sophia arrived a few minutes later and then Buffy practically floated in… she’d had a really fun birthday with many friends and the euphoria had not yet worn off. Sugar was out-of-town and Mindy would be a little late, so we’d start with six for breakfast. Mattie snapped a photo.

The dining room looked welcoming – what a beautiful arrangement of roses!

Mattie put together a wonderful berry bowl with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and pomegranate seeds. She also gave us a choice of gluten-free muffins… some lemon and some blueberry.

The main dish was a gluten-free casserole. This started with a base of gluten-free Bisquick, topped with a mixture of onion, red peppers, hash brown potatoes, eggs, cheese and sausage – really good!

Barbie loved having company and ran around visiting everyone. We were in the middle of breakfast when Mindy arrived to greet her.

After breakfast we went out to work. The place where Mattie wanted to move the Keyhole was not an empty spot so our first task would be to clear the area and move the existing plants – including a fig tree and some iris.

Any worries about the difficulty of moving the frame disappeared as soon as the Divas grabbed the rail – the contents had decomposed to the point that it was the work of a few minutes to lift and reset the frame.

Then the real work began… Mattie had been saving cardboard for years! Mindy and Karla began dragging the enormous stacks of boxes and cardboard from the garage to the back yard so they could be torn and cut in into smaller chunks to fill the relocated keyhole. This photo shows approximately ¼ of the total cardboard.

Annie and I sat and ripped and cut cardboard. Sophia raked leaves from all over the back yard to go into the keyhole. (Sophia also snapped this photo) Buffy sawed logs and boughs and heavy cardboard packing supports. Karla transported cardboard. Mattie was all over the place, directing and working.

It took over an hour to get the keyhole half-full.

As the layers were added, the Divas soaked them with a hose so they’d compact. At one point Mindy climbed inside the keyhole to stomp the dampened layers as if she were I-Love-Lucy-stomping-the-grapes.

In mid-afternoon, we went inside for lunch – oh, what a lunch! A most delicious Salade ni├žoise with green, tuna, hardboiled egg, Greek olives, tomato, roasted potatoes, capers and balsamic dressing.

Half-croissants were filled with Costco Cape Cod Chicken Salad, accompanied by three kinds of Kettle potato chips (Mesquite chips were voted as the best by the Divas).

Beverages were Lemonade, tea and coffee.

Dessert was super! Mattie and Karla made a mixed fruit Cobbler (including apples and different berries) topped with vanilla ice cream.

Mellowed by the delicious food, we talked about movies and television shows, Sophia’s joining a service organization, family problems, health problems, the sudden closing of the local Luby’s restaurant, fun places where Karla’s singer-songwriter partner had been performing, visits to wineries, and events strange, tragic, distressing or funny in the big world.

Then we went back out and began shoveling up what was left on the ground after the keyhole moved – dirt, logs, partially composed materials –

then transferring it to the interior of the Keyhole. Stacks of newspapers and more leaves went in, too. Soon the cardboard was invisible.

Some of the Divas went to work in the front beds. I replanted the fig and the iris on the fence side bed in back. Mindy dug and separated Malvaviscus that had seeded itself into a giant Liriope.

When the keyhole frame had been filled with all the available material, the peppers were replanted and long tomato stems buried to see if they’d root and regrow.

The rose bed near the front curb was edged, weeded and mulched.

The Rosemary bed was edged, weeded and mulched.

With weeds removed and plants cut back, we could now see the blooming society garlic.
  And the replanted Keyhole Garden was ready for the new growing season.

The Divas of the Dirt said their goodbyes and headed home after 6 pm, all feeling pretty satisfied that our first project of 2016 had been a successful one!

This post, 2016-FEBRUARY MATTIE’S GARDEN DAY, was written by Annie in Austin/Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt blog

Thursday, September 15, 2016


This post, 2016- January Planning Meeting, was written by Glinda/Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog. 

January is the month we Divas of the Dirt hold our planning meeting. We've been to many local restaurants over the years and been sad to see quite a few favorites close. How I wish we could still meet at Elsi's on Burnet!

Should we try an old favorite or a new one this year? How about this - some of the well-known Austin restaurants have several locations so let's try the far NW Austin branch of long-established Kerbey Lane. Since it's popular and busy, we'd better plan on a wait for a table.

Sophia and I got there first and got our names on the list, followed quite quickly by Karla and Mattie.

With Mindy arriving at almost the same time.

We chatted while we waited and before we knew it, five Divas of the Dirt were at a long rectangular table in the middle of the restaurant.

Soon Buffy arrived and a bit later Sugar and Annie came in.

Most of us had seen each other at Mattie's New Years Eve party, but the eight of us never seem to run out of news and conversation, no matter how often we're together.

The food was delicious - my choice was a Chicken Verde omelet.

but other Divas went for the Signature Dish of Kerbey Lane - those famous Gingerbread Pancakes!

The only drawback to the restaurant was how loud it was, making it very hard to discuss setting up the 2016 meetings. We managed to get that done, but as happens so often, our ideas of what would happen in 2016 bore little resemblance to what actually happened in 2016. The first two months went as planned before the schedule rapidly disintegrated under pressure of weird Central Texas weather, health issues, strange accidents and sad losses in our extended families.

But for that day - we were together! We had a great time, and were all fired up for a new gardening year.

This post, 2016- January Planning Meeting, was written by Glinda/Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.