Don’t you think it’s time we do things differently when it comes to managing and growing our local economy?  I do and I’ve purchased the following book in hopes that it will provide the innovative guidelines it promises.  I'll let you know what I think about it after I read it.

THE LOCAL ECONOMY SOLUTION – How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises can Grow Jobs and Prosperity – Michael Shuman

Some books I choose because I think the author will validate beliefs that I have long held, beliefs that went against current wisdom and accepted (often mindless) ways of doing things.  For example, all through the 1980’s and 1990’s and even into the early 21st century, USA economic development meant local government leaders licked the boots of multinational corporations in order to attract them into their communities.  They literally gave away the store so to speak by providing tax incentives and even outright cash bonuses, free land on which to build their plants. Many communities even lowered environmental standards to the point of allowing these giants to pollute with impunity. With the greener grass in China in the late 1990s they left anyway like so many rats deserting the ship.  

It still goes on, even today in the 21st Century. In 2010 for example, according to BaxStarr Consulting Group, Louisiana spent $196.8 million on film tax credits but only generated $27 million in tax receipts for the state and $17.3 million for local governments.  Film subsidies, in other words, are financial losers for taxpayers who foot the bill.

I have ordered the book.  The preface promises to be about how economic development can and should be done differently.  It also promises to provide 24 models for economic development that could be done by the private sector at virtually zero cost to the public.  I look forward to learning about these pollinator enterprises in addition to basking in my own smug self-satisfaction.  I already like the idea of the embedded organic metaphor the author has used to label these business models as "pollinator enterprises."  This metaphor mirrors the connectedness nurtured by permaculture design amongst the countless elements found in the natural and unnatural worlds we live in.



Another book with great potential for reshaping your local economy:

The SMARTEST places on earth - Why Rustbelts are Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation

by Antoine Van Agtmael and Fred Bakker

David Swensen, Chief Investment Officer, Yale University had this to say about this book:  "Can Agtmael and Bakker paint an exciting picture of the future made possible by cooperative processes they call "brainsharing."  Citing unheralded developments in specific places and industries, this extraordinarily well-researched book challenges the conventional view of a developed world in decline. The authors make a compelling case for connectors, who bring together a diverse collection of players required for collaborative success.  This compellingly argued and lucidly written book is a must read for anyone who cares about the planet."


My Christmas Tree 2017 - a Volunteer Cedar that grew too close to my fence


As I look at my life I'm reminded of that old nursery rhyme, "Solomon Grundy" which stands well as a comment on the brevity of life.

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.


It seems like we spend the first part of our lives accumulating things and the last part in getting rid of them through a process we now call "down-sizing." I guess all in preparation for our final downsizing to a handful of dust. Mercifully I haven't become as morbid as my Great Aunts who put relatives names on masking tape and then stuck the tape to the bottom of objects throughout their homes. Thus when they passed, everyone would have assigned mementos to take home after the wake.  

However, for at least the past 10 years and perhaps longer, I've been telling myself that I'm not having a Christmas tree that year.  There is no point as I have no children at home, and most of my grandchildren are of the age when they prefer to stay in the privacy of their bedrooms with their electronics.  Still I persist in finding an excuse to acquire a fresh Christmas tree, although I've made a few concessions along the way.

To date, there has never been a Christmas in my life without a fresh cut tree in my home.  This year (2017) was no exception.  My excuse was that I must have one for the annual Loving Garland Green Holiday Party in my home.  [I've used that excuse now for the past five years.]   

However I came closer than ever before to not having a fresh tree this year.  In case you are one of those with the fake trees, you may not have noticed but the price of Christmas trees has gone through the roof this year.  Just about the cheapest one you can find will cost $54.  I can remember when that price could have purchased a tree so tall that you would have to trim the top in order to fit the star on the top of the tree.  Well, no more.  It would cost over $100 to have such a tree this year.

With the firm decision to not have a tree in mind, I did make a concession and put some lights in my yard for the first time in my life.  I noticed that it was not without positive influence as a week later, my neighbors on either side of me also decorated their homes with outdoor Christmas lights.  Like  me they too have never had lights in their yards either.  HMMMMMM  I'm not saying but that reminded me of my father who often told my mother (to no avail) that we were absolutely not keeping up with the Joneses. {Remember that expression?]

Then yesterday when I was taking out the trash in cleaning preparations for the Christmas Party, I looked at the volunteer cedar coming up through my fence with a new appreciation.  As the old cliche goes, I killed two birds with one stone:  I satisfied the Garland Code Compliance monitors by removing unsightly wildness from my yard while at the same time attaining my fresh-cut evergreen for 2017.  I put it in a homer bucket with plenty of water, covered that with my Christmas tree skirt and set on top of a large empty plant pot turned upside down.

At first, I had the high-flown principles of having a "natural tree" and determined to decorate with branches of holly, rosemary and pine cones but that resolution did didn't last long.  By early afternoon, in addition to all the natural decorations I had added lights and other Christmas decorations from years past.

The party was a huge success.  It was a potluck with the best food ever--Much of it wholesome and tasty but all of it tasty.  A great fellowship with great friends.



What a Difference a Day Makes!


              Flowers in my yard December 6 and December 7 

Those of us who live in the DFW area live in Hardiness Zone 8a, which means that we can expect temperatures here to plunge to 10 to 15 degrees at least once each winter.  Thus, by the end of the first week in December we have had our first killing frost and most of the plants in our gardens are looking sad.

Still like other aspects of our lives, we are left with the memories of what once was and the dreams and hopes of what is to come in the new year. For the gardener this means remembering what grew well last year and dreaming about where you will grow those plants the coming year in your garden.  Of course, it is also in December when all the beautiful seed catalogs begin to arrive to cheer us up.

Citizen Science Report from North Garland High School's Experimental Garden Plot

In 2017 Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green, did a fabulous job of keeping records of our harvest from the Garland Community Garden—especially records of our joint Citizen Science project with students from North Garland High School Environmental Club.  The student’s experimental bed was a space of approximately 100 square feet—about the size of a family garden in the back or front yard of the average Garland home.  The students tended the bed from April to the end of May and Loving Garland Green (mostly Jane) took over from June through September.  The experiment for 2017 officially ended the last Saturday in October with the harvesting of sweet potatoes. [Even though vegetables such as turnips, kale, and broccoli are still producing in the plot.]  We wanted to see how much produce it was possible to grow in one average-sized Garland vegetable garden.  The vegetables grown included, several varieties of peppers, okra, turnips, squash, pole beans, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, two varieties of eggplant, radishes, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, kale and collard greens.

According to Jane’s careful records, the student’s bed produced 143 pounds of produce at a total estimated savings after expenses of  $276.26.  Loving Garland Green donated 95 pounds of the produce from this bed to the Garland Good Samaritans.  In the rest of our garden at large, we estimate that we raised over 600 pounds of produce at an estimated dollar value of approximately $2,000 or more. Over 50% of this produce was also donated to charity.  All of the food grown at the garden is organically grown which increases market value 2 to 4 times. 

Food is expensive. We weighed 70 pounds of blackberries from the garden this year.  However additional poundage was picked and eaten by visitors.  We have 32 blackberry plants in our garden. The four in my yard, which I do keep close records on, produce 80 pounds a year. At an annual average of $3 for six ounces of organic blackberries, the value for just the 70 pounds from this one crop alone at the Garland Community Garden for 2017 is $558.00.  Next year I promise to keep closer and more accurate records of our blackberry harvest.  I estimate that harvest to be close to 200 pounds.

Based on four years experience:  here are my choices for what grows well in Garland


1. Pole beans – Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can easily grow pole beans in a large pot with a trellis.  Pole beans are prolific producers—from mid June to the first frost.  The organic varieties we chose included Kentucky Wonder and Italian flat green beans.

2. Blackberries – We prefer the thornless variety, as they are not as invasive as those with thorns.  You can pull up and pot replant those errant plants, or you can also sell them.  Nurseries charge $7 to $10 for a 12-inch bare root stick.  Average yearly price for blackberries is $3 for six ounces and they freeze well.  I especially like blackberries because they are drought tolerant perennials that produce year after year.  I have four vines in my yard that faithfully produce 80 pounds of blackberries each year.  This amounts to an average annual value of $639. Blackberries (if you like them) are the best garden investment for those living in the DFW area.

3. Kale, once established (if you can keep the tender seedlings away from the squirrels) will produce and produce.

4. Sweet Potatoes—particularly if you harvest and eat the leaves throughout the summer are a good investment.  Because of our heavy clay soil, I recommend you grow them in large pots filled with amended loose soil.  In addition to being an edible, they will look pretty on a patio or deck from June to the end of October when they are harvested.  Unlike the white or red potatoes, sweet potatoes do not belong to the nightshade family. Thus their leaves are edible and delicious in salads and stir-fries.


1. Lantana is great.  It is a hardy drought tolerant perennial that blooms from June  to December.  Stick it in the ground and it grows.

2. Zinnias are my favorite flower for a pollinator garden. They start blooming in late June and bloom up through the first frost.  They come in all sizes.  I prefer the giant ones.  Zinnias are heat and drought tolerant.

3. Wild Senna- This herb is not often mentioned for pollinator gardens but it is great.  The large yellow blooms begin in late July and last through the middle of October.  In fact, I like this plant so much I harvested seed from the one we have growing at the Garland Community Garden that I plan to give to friends as a Christmas present.



Among my stocking stuffers this year will be seed packets from plants that I’ve successfully grown in Garland.  Nothing says dependability quite like locally sourced seeds.  I’m making my own seed packets.  Below is one for Wild Senna—a great plant for pollinator gardens!



The holiday season officially began for me on Wednesday December 6 as I attended the Garland Noon Exchange Club’s annual Christmas Party for children.  It was an honor and pleasure to be a small part of helping 166 kids create some happy Christmas memories along with the Southern Belles, South Garland Football players, Naaman Forest Performance Choir and many Garland volunteers from various service organizations in our community.  December 6 was an especially appropriate day for this event since December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas who was the fourth-century bishop of a Greek province.  His reputation for piety inspired the tradition of leaving gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day.

The good heartedness of “giving back to others” permeated this event at all levels:  the adults from the Noon Exchange Club of Garland who organized, hosted and raised the funds for this event; the adults from many service organizations and individuals who assisted them; the youth from various high schools in our community who entertained and also assisted the younger students for whom the party was hosted. Then even the young guests themselves got into the act of giving back to others.  They colored and decorated cards and wrote messages of appreciation that will be sent to our troops overseas.

Volunteers from the Noon Exchange of Garland and other community service organizations at the Children’s Christmas Party hosted by the Noon Exchange Club of Garland – December 6, 2017


Some of the many student volunteers who entertained the children and assisted with making the event memorable for all


December is also the month for saying good-bye to the flowers in our yards—except, of course, for the pansies.

Tonight (Thursday December 7, 2017) we are looking forward to our first hard freeze here in Garland as the temperature is expected to drop to 23 degrees.  That means, of course, that most of the flowers in my yard will be droopy and on the way to the compost pile in a few days.  I ran around this morning taking photos of them.



Here in Garland there is no such thing as “the last rose of summer”.  Our roses usually last into December.  The photos above I took this morning (December 7, 2017).



Next year, if you can’t make it to Rockefeller Center for that tree lighting ceremony, I recommend you stop by the Garland Texas square for our tree lighting ceremony.  I’ve been to both and I’m equally impressed.  But even if you missed all the fun and pageantry of the 2017 tree lighting in Garland tonight, you can still stop by any night from now through January 1 to view our beautiful animated light show on our downtown square.


Fireworks and Christmas Lights—the holidays could not be more exciting than they are here in Garland, Texas.


Experience the magic and beauty of the season:  Visit the Garland downtown square any evening between now through January 1, 2017.



Speaking of lights, Charlie and I decorated my plum tree and a wire deer that a friend found curbside a few years ago and gave to me. That’s Santa Clause hanging on to the deer’s tail. December 7,2017


Cornish hens, hasselback potatoes and apple pie--Charlie did make the pie.  I knew he couldn't stay out of the kitchen!
Thanksgiving 2017

If Thanksgiving is any kind of reliable harbinger, the Holiday Season 2017 is indeed promising.  Thanksgiving 2017 will be marked in my diary as the Thanksgiving I discovered Kabocha squash and even made the entire Thanksgiving meal for Charlie and me--an unusual occurrence as I'm more or less the dishwasher and not the cook.  When I do cook, it has to be special and an adventure bordering on scientific experiment and so it was this Thanksgiving.     

Jane gave me a Kabocha squash Halloween week, just before she and Bob went off to Michigan for a holiday.  She told me that Kabocha squash is delicious.  I really didn't listen as I don't hold a lot of fondness for squash.  I find it bland and with a texture that leaves much to be desired as it is either mushy or stringy or both.  That squash, a little larger than an acorn squash, set on the kitchen counter for just about a month.

Then on Thanksgiving morning I impulsively decided to cook the squash instead of throwing it away.  Part of the skin looked as if it might be developing some mold, but it was still firm so I moved forward.  It's not the best of timing but tonight I read my October issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine and discovered that she had devoted two pages to Kabocha!  Martha says:  "Don't be intimidated by the thick green skins (somewhat similar to the challenges presented by cutting an acorn squash)--a heavy chefs knife will to the trick."  She is right.  The most difficult thing about preparing Kabocha is cutting it and removing the seeds--which I saved.  I don't know if the squash I had was a hybrid or not, still I'll try a few of the seeds and order more for next spring from a reliable heirloom seed company.

I cut the Kabocha up, scraped the seeds off, and peeled the skin with a potato peeler.  It was not fun.  Then I put it in a steamer and cooked until it was done.  When I put it in the serving dish I put a little butter over it and that was it--not salt and no pepper.  The squash was a wonderful delicious surprise--Its texture is velvety smooth with a rich flavor that is a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato.  It was so good that I've giving it as a present to friends for Christmas.


As for the cornish hens, I have always associated them with pretentious wealthy British people. Don't ask me why--perhaps the name "Cornish".  Perhaps it's because I was raised in West Texas and don't know any better.  Although I grew up eating quail now and again as a kid in the late 1950's and early 1960's, I never thought of that as being fancy because my mom prepared them.  I never cooked a Cornish hen, but seeing them on display at the grocery store a few days before Thanksgiving I decided to purchase two of them.  They are reasonably priced at $2.99 each and we found that one was enough for two meals.  I followed instructions found online for cooking them: Chop up fresh rosemary, coarse pepper and salt.  Melt butter.  Squeeze a lemon over the hens.  Put a slice of lemon in  each cavity.  Pour the melted rosemary seasoned butter over the hens.  Put in oven at 450 for 20 minutes to brown along with Hasselback potatoes.  Then turn heat down to 350 and cook for 40 minutes.  Check with thermometer to ensure 165 degrees at the end. 

We had fresh cranberry sauce, gravy and green beans with pumpkin and apple pie for dessert.  A wonderful meal.  I've had all kinds of Thanksgivings in my life, but this was one of the best.  By the way Cornish hens are great!  Better than chicken and better than turkey.  But perhaps not better than quail.  



This year I think I'll wrap my plum tree in Christmas lights--something else I've never done--had outside Christmas decorations.


This Thursday is a special night in Garland.  It's the night we turn on our holiday lights around the downtown square. If you didn't see them last year, you absolutely must this year.  Downton Garland has the BEST the very BEST Christmas light display in all of the DFW area.  Come and see for yourself!  I know you will agree.


Christmas on the Square—Dec. 7

5:30 p.m., Downtown Square, Sixth and Main streets. Enjoy snow hills, photos with Santa, holiday foods, children’s crafts, pet adoptions and much more. As always, the attractions are free! Santa Claus will assist with the tree lighting at 7 p.m. and then spend the evening visiting with children about their holiday wishes. Garland ISD choirs will entertain the crowd with holiday classics beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Members of the Garland Fire Department will be stationed at the corner of Sixth and Main streets to collect new, unwrapped toys to be given to local children. After donating your gift, be sure to pick up some festival food and check out live ice carvings by James Pappas.

Parking for the event is free and will be available at the following locations: Central Library, Senior Center, First Baptist Church on Glenbrook and DART on Walnut St. For full event details including parking map, stage schedule and event map visit