Nov 23 @ 4:17 pm

POSTER AT GOOD SAM'S - Yes, it's corny and yet still true and uplifting to remember.  In fact, it is often the broken among us who bring forth the most amazing gifts to the world.


I spent 8:30 to noon today at the Good Samaritans of Garland preparing packages of groceries for citizens in my community.

Good Samaritans is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing supplemental food assistance.

All families and individuals, regardless of residence can obtain food assistance very two weeks. No appointment needed.

Unhoused guests (the homeless) are provided “10-Packs” of food/drink once a week. In the winter, warm clothing (coats, gloves, hats, scarves) are distributed, as available.

In addition, Good Sam’s, through on-site partnerships, provides street-side Showers on Tuesdays, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. Parkland HOMES, Medical provides medical services every third Tuesday, 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

 This morning, as I talked with other volunteers, I noted that it is highly likely that none of us are extremely wealthy “high society folks”. I thought about what John Steinbeck once wrote in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath, a novel that is now banned in many schools across the USA: “If you are in trouble or hurt or need, go to poor people. They’re the only ones that will help--the only ones.” 

It may be because those of us closer to poverty know the pain of it better.  I don’t know. But the truth of Steinbeck’s words has been proven literally to be true.  In 2010, Paul Piff, a psychologist at U.C. Berkeley, carried out a study and published his findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  His experiments found that poor people were inclined to give away 44 percent more of their points or their credits than the wealthy people involved in the experiment.  His team's findings that the poor are more charitable than the rich were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

SO HERE IS A TRIBUTE TO SEVERAL OF THE VOLUNTEERS WHO WERE HELPING OTHERS THIS MORNING AT GOOD SAMARITANS OF GARLAND, TEXAS. I’m sure many of us would fit right in at the dinner table of the Joad family from Steinbeck’s novel--not a hoity-toity one in the bunch.  Also, as you can see, we come in all ages, shapes and colors.



KAREN, A four-year Good Sam Volunteer


LARRY - A 4.5 Year Good Sam's Volunteer

VICKY  -  I think she is second in command of the operation, a full-time employee.Thanks to Vicky, I'll be serving "a pink thing" on Thanksgiving in tribute to my mom and her Aunt, my great-aunt Lois.  Both of whom made these perfectly awful yet delicious concoctions from jello. My mom's was pink and Great Aunt Lois's was green. They both escaped this veil of tears without leaving me the recipes.  I was talking about it with Vicky on Monday (my usual time for volunteering) and Vicky gave me the recipe for a reasonable facsimile: But Vicky's recipe does not call for jello. Two cans of cherry pie filling; two medium containers of cool whip; two cups of Walnuts; one can of condensed milk (the thick syrupy stuff). Mix it all together and voila--It tastes pretty good.  But should I call it a dessert or a salad.  My mom and Great Aunt Lois always referred to it as a "Salad".


Another Full-Time Good Sam's Employee, 


Three beautiful Good Sam's Volunteers. They were in Vicky's office preparing sacks that are  given to Good Sam's unhoused guests.  It's great  that the little girls is  getting to have the wonderful experience of giving to others.  Good Sam's is also extending the possibility of this experience to other parents and their children.  Once every quarter they will be open on Saturday mornings for parents to come with their children and fill food boxes that will be given away the next Monday.  Yesterday, Tuesday, the day normally devoted to the unhoused, the volunteers of Good Sams along with other community volunteers, hosted a Thanksgiving feast for the homeless.  About forty people attended.  Isn't it amazing to consider there are even 40 people/families in our community without a place to call home?  [And  there really are many more than the 40 who attended this feast.  So many of the homeless in our communities maintain invisibility to the rest of us due to the shame associated homelessness.]


Megann - This was Megann's first day at Good Sam's.


If you want to know what's going on in Garland, Texas, visit the Good Samaritan's and read their bulletin board.




Just one of many serious considerations of an older person who is a gardener.
 I’m now contemplating the possibility that my grow light could well outlive me.
Indeed, it will if I dive off unexpectedly into that oblivion referred to as death before now and approximately. 6 or more years. The bulb's specifications say that it will last for 25,000 hours or 2.85 years. However, I can expect the bulb to last much longer as I will only be using it for about 4.5 months a year, AND I'll only have it on for about 10 of each of the 24 hours when in use.
Yesterday I purchased a grow light at North Haven Nursery. In reading its specifications on the box it arrived in, I learned that it will burn for 25,000 hours. [25,000 hours divided by 24 hours (in a day) = 1.041 days divided by 365 days in a year = 2.85 years.]
It is LED and very low energy burning only 9w an hour. The bulb cost more than the container for it ($19.99 compares to $14.95 for its metal container that came with a clamp).
I’m very excited about my new grow light as it is the first one that I’ve owned. My home, like most homes in Texas, is designed to minimize the amount of indoor sunshine--great in the summer heat but not so much in the winter--especially for eager gardeners who like to start seedlings indoors for their spring gardens. Usually with me, I begin by faithfully moving the plants from sunny spot to sunny spot in the house throughout the day. Then, after about three weeks, I tire of this and of course the plants either die or become etiolated beyond redirection.
My main purpose in doing this is to see if I can grow a papaya tree to fruition. Already it is in its sixth month of life.


Section  of a mural painted on the side of a building in Amarillo, Texas.  Many of the buildings in Amarillo serve as the canvas for the artwork of artists and students sponsored by "Blank Spaces", a local nonprofit that brings artists and students together.

Journeys are the best path I know to education. The recent journey I just returned from was one of those kind in which I physically travelled among various geographical locations--from here to beautiful Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle; to Amarillo, Texas with all its beautiful murals on its buildings.
Palo Duro Canyon at Sunset (28 miles south of Amarillo, Texas). November 2,2022
From Amarillo we travelled to North Eastern New Mexico with its extinct volcano I never knew about now.  From there to Colorado Springs, Co and the magical Garden of the Gods and on to the quaint little hamlet of Oak Creek Co nestled in the mountains a few miles south of Steamboat Springs to visit my granddaughter.   After that magical weekend we drove down through Colorado and across the state of Utah.  We passed over a northwestern corner of Arizona that had the most beautiful and interesting display of rock formations. Our Journey continued down through California to Laguna Niguel to see my friend, Sandy.  Our visit with Sandy included a trip to beautiful Dana Point and a visit to a beach there I had never seen, even though I lived only about 20 minutes from it for as many years.
Dana Point Beach - Dana Point California
Then we were homeward bound across Arizona, New Mexico, and most of Texas. The three things that impressed me the most about my homeward journey were 1. the sheer beauty of our planet. 2. Pollution of our countryside by 1% fossil fuel industrialists that our elected officials have continued to allow since the early days of our formation as a nation and 3. All the vast empty spaces in our country where no human being lives--in some examples for over 100 miles.
But physical journeys are not the only kind of journeys one may take. There are mental journeys as well, journeys of the mind guided by the content of books that we read. These journeys are as real as the physical journeys and can also shape and even redirect the outcome of our life. I am embarking on such a journey this morning. When I was visiting my granddaughter, Megan in Oak Creek, I noticed a book on her coffee table, “A beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe. The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art and Science.” I thought that sounded worth a read so I ordered a copy online from Thrift Books [Yes, there are other and much more economical choices than Amazon]. The book was in my pile of mail waiting for me when I got home.
The book’s promise to readers on its back cover in part reads: “Michael Schneider leads us on a spectacular, lavishly illustrated journey along the numbers one through ten to explore the mathematical principles made visible in flowers, shells, crystals, plant and the human body. This is a new view of mathematics, not the one we learned at school but a comprehensive guide to the patterns that recure through the universe and underlie human affairs.” The book promises to show me, among other things, how the human body share the design of a bean plant and the solar system--definitely of interest to a gardener like me.
My advice to you and to myself is to keep taking as many journeys as you can.


This June a friend of mine, Pat Patel, gave me a small papaya plant, about four inches high in a paper cup.  It grew and grew--to the extent that I had to re-pot it three times. Today the diameter of my plant’s canopy is 30 inches.  It stands 27 inches tall from the soil in the pot to the top of its canopy.

I’m still undecided about a kitty, but at least for now or until it dies, I’ll be sharing my world with a papaya in my living room.  I’m sure it will teach me many lessons.  In fact, it already has.

It’s amazing how quickly one can fill up one’s brain and it keeps expanding to make room for more information. Even old people like me can continue to learn and evolve. For example, just day before yesterday I knew practically nothing about papayas except that I like to eat them and that they are a tropical plant that does not survive a frost.  Now just a day later, I know about two pages worth of information about papayas--not an expert to be certain, but perhaps I have enough knowledge to keep this one alive for a while or at least until it bears fruit. [I’ll keep you posted.]

I began my quest for answers with two deal breakers for me.

  1. How soon does it bear fruit?  Like most Americans I lean to the impatient.  I’m not about to nurse a plant that takes 3 to 5 years to make fruit.  Besides I might die in the meantime.

    Well, the papaya passed this criterion with ease.  According to all the sources, papayas begin to produce fruit 7 to 11 months after planting.  That means my plant could begin producing as early as Christmas.

  2. Does the papaya require a second tree for pollination?  Many fruit trees require as second tree.  I’m not about to nurse two indoor trees.  As it is, I’m not that fond of houseplants anyway as they tend to draw gnats and other undesirables.

    AND the papaya passed this dealbreaker with ease.   I found: “Papaya does not require a second tree for pollination because the male flowers on the tree can pollinate the female flowers on the same tree. However, papaya trees will provide a better fruit yield when there is an additional tree close by.”


  1. Sunlight is crucial for the growth and development of your papaya tree. Papayas need a lot of sun. (I’ll probably need to get a grow light for mine.)
  2. Papaya trees need fertilizer.  I read that Nelson Citrus Fruit and Avocado Tree Plant Food is a great fertilizer choice for your papaya tree. It has a balanced nutrient ratio specifically for fruit trees to properly grow fruit. I may see if I can find some on the Internet as I doubt my local stores (first choice) would carry it.
  3. Papayas need moist soil but they cannot tolerate standing water.  Make sure to put plenty of holes in your pot.  Papayas are prone to root rot.
  4. Male flowers grow in thin clusters, with thin shoots that extend off the tree a few inches. Female flowers are fuller and grow right above leaf stems. The female flowers need to be pollinated to produce fruits. If you are growing papaya plants inside strictly, you can pollinate these flowers yourself by using a cotton swab or a small paintbrush.

By the way, If you live in most parts of Florida, south Texas, Arizona, southern California, and Hawaii you can likely easily grow a papaya tree outside.


This is an especially fun activity to do with children.

  1. Buy a papaya in the store.
  2. Remove the seeds
  3. Wash the seeds, break the outer sac that contains the seed—this outer shell inhibits germination—dry the seeds for a day or two, then plant them.
  4. The seeds will start sprouting in a few weeks. You’ll just need to have well-drained soil, keep the soil moist, and make sure they are kept very warm. Papaya trees thrive in higher temperatures.  Keep the room warm.

    NOTE:  If you live in North Texas you can bring it outdoors when all danger of frost is past.

It's good to know as much as possible about the plants you grow because then you are better able to care for them. AND, it makes the adventure of gardening even more fun.


Plant in a nice clay pot.  Make instructions regarding its care and voila! You have a great gift that cost less than $5.



Okra is still blooming [November 11, 2022 -- Planted April 15, 2022


In part of my front yard I have a modified woodland garden with several peach trees serving to provide the forest canopy.  This year, because of our extreme heat, it has served well for the herbs, squash, peppers, lettuce and even tomatoes.  In the full sun of my front yard I have 10 buckets, each with an okra plant.  I planted  the seeds on April 15 and the plants have been producing okra since the last week of May--7 months now.

Two weeks ago I left on vacation and expected to return to  a spent garden but that did not happen. After returning today I toured my garden and as you can see from the photos, it is still producing!  I feel about my garden  in many ways the same way I felt about pets--those nurturing, protective, caring feelings   I was delighted to see it still thriving.  To celebrate, I harvested Okra and Jalapeno peppers for Charlie's and my dinner tonight.

Okra and jalapeno peppers harvested from my garden.

Many of the okra pods I harvested late this afternoon were too large for eating, but their seeds can be saved and planted next year.  Four of the pods measured 8 inches long and one inch in diameter--much too fibrous for easy digestion by a human.  In my opinion, the most delectable pods are 4 inches long and not more than 1/2 inch in diameter.

For dinner tonight  I made stuffed (with cream cheese) jalapeno peppers and bacon; roasted okra; and green peas.

The two smaller roasted Okra pods were delicious.  The two larger ones were not edible because they were too tough but I thought they deserved a try.  Beneath each slice of bacon is a roasted jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream cheese.  Peas in the center finishes off the meal that was 50% from the garden.


Thai and Dill, nestled together. (I'll dry them soon and save their seed.). I like fresh dill in salads.


Oregano is still healthy and is also nestled with the Thai Basil and Dill.  I may bring this one into the house.

My Italian basil went nuts in my absence.  It smells so good!


The roman lettuce really surprised me.  I had twelve of them growing and before leaving for my vacation, I pulled all but two up and donated them to the Good Samaritan's food bank of Garland because I didn't think any would survive.  The two I left did quite well.  Tomorrow  I'll harvest some for a salad.

I have about 25 tomatoes in my garden and I will continue to spin the roulette wheel of first frost with them.  In my opinion a frost ruins the tomato--even one night of if.  So I let them vine ripen up to the last moment.

The asters are still blooming but they are beginning to look a bit ragged.

Cannas are a great and showy flower.  So amazing!  They require little care and bloom from May until the first frost AND being rhizome producers, they come back faithfully year after year!



New Resident in the Garland Community Garden--a female fashionista Scarecrow.


Many Gardens have a scarecrow and now the Garland Community Garden has one of its own.  We really don't have that much of an issue with crows, but when it comes to bugs--Bingo!  Perhaps a Scarebug instead of a Scarecrow.

Scarecrows are scary and creepy--Well, DUH! They should be, and the creepier the better. After all, they are designed for the practical use to frighten off crows in particular, and we all know how smart crows are. Ours isn’t so scary because we love little children who come to our garden and we want them to have fun--not be afraid.  They can read the newspaper for that.

Scarecrows are used around the world by farmers, and are a notable symbol of farms and the countryside in popular culture. Scarecrows have been with us for a long time.

In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan (compiled in the year 712), a scarecrow known as Kuebiko appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world. He is sometimes referred to as the “God of Agriculture”

The Scarecrow is featured early on in American literature as well.  Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Feathertop" is a scarecrow made and brought to life in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts, by a witch in league with the devil. Isn’t it interesting how some of us are afraid of witches but not afraid of those who kill them, or who want to kill them? Did you ever think about that?  We seem to have things backwards.


Our scarecrow is a gardener herself.  You can tell by her dirty hands and feet [made from the roots of discarded broccoli plants].

So, if you don’t like what is happening in the world today, just blame the scarecrow. In fact, you can even blame our friendly Garland scarecrow.  She won’t mind. In fact, that’s why she is here--to be a scapegoat. Blame her for all your problems and then walk away but not before you take a halloween photo with her.  [We recommend that you don't hold her dirty hand. ]


NEARCATION - Like a vacation only near to home, shorter, and much less expensive

 Yesterday Charlie and I took a nearcation. We went to the Texas State Fair.  It was a wonderful adventure that lasted from 1 PM until 8 PM when we got home.  We took the Dart train.  It was easy, relaxing and fun. From Garland, there is only one transfer at Pearl Station and voila! We were delivered to the world of Big Tex--and also our world for the next almost six hours.  Big Tex is a 55-foot (17 m) tall figure and marketing icon of the annual State Fair of Texas.  As we learned from a sign at the Fair, Big Tex was born in 1952, ten years after the Corn Dog was invented.

The Texas State Fair is unique for a number of reasons.  First of all, it is the biggest state fair in the USA.  Second of all, it is located on a historical site--the grounds of the 1936 Centennial built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico.  As it was built in the middle of the Great Depression, these grounds are a monument to hope and a tribute to human achievement.  You don’t have to visit these grounds only once a year, Fair Park is open throughout the year and it includes the Children’s Aquarium, The Women’s Building, Texas Discovery Gardens, and more.  Fair Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is home to the nation's largest collection of publicly owned Art Deco buildings in the U.S. and one of the largest collections of 1930s art.

The six female figures that flank the entrance to the Hall of State building at Dallas’ Fair Park are the work of Raoul Josset and Lawrence Tenney Stevens. The 20-foot statues (on 12-foot pedestals) face each other and represent the five nations (and one would-be nation) that are more frequently represented by the “six flags” of Texas.

  It was a wonderful, magical day filled with too many adventures to post here--the great Mexican food we ate, the fancy electric cars we saw,  the John Deere zero turn mowers, the sheep, the baby pigs, etc.  I look forward to another nearcation soon.



SHE WAS BORN ["eclosed"]

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

Here is her story told the short Solomon Grundy style (although we hope that she will make it to Mexico to overwinter and lay a few eggs in the spring of 2023 on her return through Texas, headed north) :

This is what the butterfly looks like just before emerging.  We didn't get to see this one in that stage, but I'm sure this is also how she appeared.  The chrysalis is transparent.After the chrysalis has been softened and often become transparent the butterfly will push through first with its legs also removing the triangular piece covering its eyes and proboscis. The butterfly then crawls the rest of the way out of the chrysalis, exposing the abdomen and wings.

When Charlie and I came home from an afternoon of volunteering at Good Samaritans, one of our local food banks, we found a healthy female butterfly in the Jar.



According to most sources such as "Journey North", it is estimated that 95% of Monarch caterpillars do not survive to adulthood in the wild. The converse is true for Monarch caterpillars that are rescued as 95% of them are said to survive and be released as butterflies.  As of July, 2022, the Monarch Butterfly has been on the endangered species list.


Garland Community Garden- Garland Texas October 8, 2022 1PM

This afternoon I  counted 25 Monarch butterflies in a Zinnia patch near our Monarch wings sign. 

All of the Monarchs I saw were female.  You can tell the males from the females because the veins in the female's wings are thicker and the hind wings of the male have a black spot on the top of either side.  It was a thrill for me as I have been disappointed at the lack of Monarchs.  Usually they start drifting toward the middle of August.

Savoring the nectar.  They were so busy eating they didn't even notice me.  However the bumblebees did.  I also saw several of them but they got away before I could snap a photo of them.

They are  so beautiful and fun to watch. Tomorrow would be a great day to come down to the garden to see them and take your photo in front of the wings.  Also we have packets of Common Milkweed seeds to give away that are hanging from the back of the sign.


Now we are going to have to check the milkweed in the garden carefully for eggs and caterpillars.  Monarch caterpillars in the wild have a 5% chance of making it to adulthood as they are a delicious snack for birds.  Rescued caterpillars have a   95% chance of surviving.  

The photo above is from this year. I painted them and we installed on October 1, 2022. Honoring Monarch butterflies is part of the tradition of Loving Garland Green and the Community Garden.  Below is a photo of me and my two granddaughters from four years ago.  I also designed this participatory art as well.



Digital Address (Plus Code)

X93F+C7 Garland, TX, USA

Google Map Location

32.9536063, -96.6268189



                 St. Joseph's Cathedral in the Cotton Patch near Munday, Texas


In 2000, when I still lived by the beach in Southern California my mom called me as she often did, waking me at 4 or 5 AM because living out in North West Texas she never remembered the two-hour time difference.

“I’ve always wanted to see the church in the cotton patch,” she began.

“What hell are you talking about?”

“Don’t curse. It’s so unladylike. Yes, there is this Catholic Church out in a cotton patch near Munday [Texas]. I’ve always wanted to see it and your father would never take me there. Can you come home and take me there?”

My mom was always dreaming up some excuse to get me to drive 1,100 miles to see her.  On average, I made 5 trips back home every year--often only for a few days.

At the time I worked as a free-lance technical writer and was between projects. My next project was not due to start for 10 days so I agreed to come take her to St. Joseph’s in the cotton patch.  Even to this day mass is still held there 7 days a week.  It is known as “The Cathedral in the Cotton Patch”.  I had never heard of it until my mom mentioned it.

Although the church is literally in the middle of a cotton patch, technically the church is located in Rhineland, Texas but Rhineland, like most of the small towns in rural North West Texas is almost a ghost town.   As of the 2000 census, less than 100 people live in Rhineland, so few that it is no longer considered a town and is now incorporated into nearby Munday, Texas.

The church was built by hand, including all the bricks being made by the locals starting in 1927.  It was built to replace the previous church which was built in the late 1800’s as more and more German-Catholics moved into the area. 

After getting directions from a woman in Munday at Allsups Convenience Store, we drove out to the cotton patch where the church is located.  Indeed, it is quite lovely and unexpected as its spire rises up out of a cotton patch.

The windows in the nave of St. Joseph's Church depict central events in the life of Christ, such as His birth, His transfiguration, and His crucifixion. The windows in the sanctuary represent bread and wine themes found both in the Old and the New Testaments. Windows in the sacristy are, in the choir loft, and in the facade of the church represent important saints in the life of the church and in the life of the Rhineland community, such as St. Isidore, Patron of farmers, and St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictines.

My mom and I were walking around, reading the tombstones in the small cemetery connected to the church when the sky darkened with literally millions of Monarch butterflies.  They descended on the church and the graveyard.  They were in our hair, on our clothes--everywhere.

It felt like some supernatural event, but of course it wasn’t.  Apparently, St. Joseph’s church is located in the migratory path of the Monarch butterfly on its way to Mexico for the winter. 

It was fun at first, but then it got creepy as I realized we literally had insects crawling all over us so we got back in the car and watched them from there for a while.  Then we headed back home.

After that, I read up on Monarch butterflies and have had a special affinity with them ever since.  Over the years I’ve rescued somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 caterpillars. The most memorable was one that I rescued from our Garland Community Garden in late November of 2015.  The poor thing was clinging to a dried-up milkweed leaf.  Lucky for it. I had some milkweed growing on the south side of my house that was still green.  We kept her alive and she completed her metamorphism into a butterfly on Christmas Eve.

But we kept having cold snaps and Monarch Butterflies get very lethargic and have difficulty flying when it is below 50 degrees F.  Finally, after two weeks of waiting for the weather to get warmer, Charlie and I drove all the way to a preserve that is just west of Brownsville where we released her in early January of 2016.  Yes, she was a female and yes, that’s how far I will go for a Monarch Butterfly.  To me they are symbols of the fragility of nature that we must respect and protect. And they have a deep connection to a fond memory of me and my mother.