Nov 23 2022

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!