Gardening

Chandor Gardens

I’m still shopping for an English saddle that will fit Mahogany’s very broad, very short back. I’ve noticed lately that even her Western saddle, which is plenty wide, has begun to bridge on her withers and loins. It’s a self-perpetuating problem, since the too-long saddle creates pressure points that cause her to raise her head and hollow her back, which over time changes her back muscles and makes the bridging worse.

So I drove to Weatherford to look at a promising-looking used English saddle. Since Luke and Elizabeth both had the day free, we decided to check out Chandor Gardens while we were in the neighborhood.

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The gardens were a labor of love by the English artist Douglas Chandor, who came to the U.S. in 1926 and moved to Weatherford in 1934.

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I love all the fun details, like this brick-and-gravel “labyrinth…”

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…the moon gate…

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…and this, whatever it is.

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The estate is smallish, but charming.

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We loved Chandor Gardens, but sadly, the saddle didn’t work out. I’ve decided to get an english-style treeless saddle, since at this point I’m out of other ideas within my price range. I like the idea of a treeless saddle anyway, even though most of them are kind of hideous. They do allow much closer contact between horse and rider. Got my fingers crossed that this is the solution I’ve been looking for.

 

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Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Churrasco and Trinity Park

Over the past three or four months I’ve been easing back into the dating pool. Nothing serious yet, just kind of testing the waters with a few different guys. Today I had a really nice first date with a fellow who wanted to introduce me to the hedonistic pleasures of the churrascaria. We went to Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse, where I enjoyed one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten, and afterward he asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Of course the answer to that question is always yes, so he drove us to Trinity Park, which was another first for me.

So then I had to tell him about my park collection and take pictures of everything while we walked. I am nothing if not committed to my pointless hobbies.

So…Trinity Park.

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I got pics of all three signs, just to make it extra official.

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As the name suggests, this urban park lies along a very tame and manicured section of the Trinity River.

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It has a decent-sized playground…

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…one of those nifty bike-rental stations that are all over Fort Worth…

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…and apparently there is a miniature railroad that transports passengers between Trinity Park and nearby Forest Park.

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Also, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are right across the street! I have posted before about how awesome those are.

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Trinity Park has all of the usual park amenities, like benches and picnic tables and gazebos and a duck pond next to the miniature train station. All in all, I would describe this park as delightful.

The company was very enjoyable too. My weakness is good conversation, and it’s rare to find someone who likes to talk as much as I do. He pleasantly blew my mind at one point when he described vegetable seeds as “data packets.” We were discussing the logistics of illegally downloading an organic pizza.

Today was a good day.

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, food, Gardening, Life, trees | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Walkies

Fall is in full swing now.

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The resident stable dog has started accompanying Mahogany and me on our rides, at least when we stick to the river trail instead of exploring the paved roads.

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When the kids and I were first planning our move to DFW I had a vague idea, based mostly on Google maps of the area and my own SoCal experiences, that Bedford was a sea of cookie cutter housing tracts, apartment buildings and shopping centers. I knew there were lots of good things here too, parks and libraries and museums and great schools, that’s why we chose DFW. But I would study the satellite images and trace the greenbelt along the Trinity River and think to myself, “At least we can go for hikes along the Trinity whenever suburban life feels too crowded.”

Yeah, it’s not like that at all. We’ve come to enjoy exploring the suburbs more than the river trails. There’s nothing cookie cutter about the neighborhoods here. I feel weird about taking pictures of peoples’ houses and putting them on the Internet, but even the streets and sidewalks themselves have character.

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The city (suburb, whatever) is crisscrossed with canals and runoff creeks that you can follow sometimes for miles.

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Sometimes, in the spaces between one neighborhood and the next, I find wooded trails that feel like wilderness.

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I have discovered three community gardens so far within walking distance of where we’re living, plus a handful of “guerrilla garden” patches tucked alongside creeks and canals. And parks. Holy crap, so many parks. According to Google Maps there are 58 public parks within a 10-mile radius of our house. Can confirm, they are everywhere. We have even found a stretch of walking and bike paths that includes a series of six “workout stations,” spaced a few minutes apart, with gym-quality equipment for strength and flexibilty training. I’ve been giving those a lot of use on my afternoon walks.

I’ve also started taking picures of the water tower that looms into view at odd moments on my walks.

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But I think that’s a subject for another post.

Categories: Animals, Dogs, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life, trail rides, Weather | 1 Comment

Fall Stuff

Anza sits at 4,000 feet above sea level, so temperatures go up and down with the sun. In the summer it’s not uncommon to get into the triple digits during the days and down into the 50 or 60s at night. Winter nights there are always cold, but winter days might feel like January or July.

DFW isn’t like that, at least from what I’ve seen so far. Summer felt like summer, whether the sun was up or not. And now that the weather has turned to fall, it has stayed there instead of getting all fickle and whimsical. Now the colors are creeping in, and squirrels are gathering acorns everywhere I look.

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Signs of fall are all around.

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On weekday afternoons I like to go for walks. I take a slightly different route each time and explore new streets. I enjoy looking at the houses and businesses; I just really like the way things are built here. Someone told me that the reason most of the buildings have so many different angles on their roofs is to deflect high winds and make it harder for tornadoes to get a grip on them. Someone else told me that that’s not the case, that people here just like funky roofs. Whatever, I like them too.

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On yesterday’s walk I stumbled onto a dedicated system of walking and bike paths. I started out walking next to roads, but ended up on a trail that followed a line of massive power poles.

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At first all I could see was those enormous poles, but by the end of the walk I barely noticed them. They’re almost kind of pretty, if you squint and tilt your head just right.

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I’m looking forward to showing the kids those paths, it’ll be nice to have a trafficless place to walk that doesn’t involve driving first.

Tomorrow we set back the clocks. The spring time change feels like years ago on a different planet. So much change crammed into eight months.

I’ve begun to really miss my garden and orchard. Today I bought a young sage plant so I can have fresh sage for cooking; hopefully it will have time to get established before winter sets in. I think I’ll get some lettuce and kale seeds next, if the weather stays mild. It’s funny the things I miss and the things I don’t miss at all. If I could just find a local, organic pomegranate orchard my autumn would be complete.

Categories: Animals, environment, Family, food, Gardening, kids, Life, trees, Weather, Wildlife | Tags: , | Leave a comment

City Gardens

No school today, so the kids and I decided to visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. It’s the first time we’ve ventured back into downtown Fort Worth since Luke’s birthday trip to the Science Museum, mostly because I am intimidated by the DFW freeway system.

When I first moved here I said that if I ever mastered these freeways I would never fear any kind of city driving ever again. Now, seven weeks later, it’s more accurate to say that I’ve gotten really good at NOT using the freeways. I know all the ways to get where I need to go without ever touching an onramp. It’s sheer cowardice, but I’m okay with that.

It wouldn’t be so bad it you could just hop onto a freeway and get to where you want to be. But there are SO MANY freeways, and they come together and merge and entwine and separate like a series of snake orgies. One moment of inattention or confusion and you’re shunted off in the wrong direction on an unfamiliar roadway. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is less than 20 miles from where we live, and to get there we had to navigate these four interchanges (it would have been five but I bypassed the first one):

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I come from a town with one highway and no stoplights. Even driving to LA or San Diego was a fairly straightforward (albeit slow and crowded) business. This snarl of Metroplex freeways is alien to me.

But today we girded our loins and headed back into the heart of the city. And it was totally worth it, because the Botanic Gardens are amazing.

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If you ever visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens and you wonder whether it’s worth paying extra to see the Japanese Garden, the answer is yes.

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Yes it is.

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All of the gardens are beautiful, but the Japanese Garden is stunning.

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There are koi food dispensers along the paths, and whenever you get near the water a galloping horde of hopeful koi appears.

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The Japanese Garden was our favorite, but all of the gardens are worth visiting.

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I found this near the Conservatory. I think it’s a pretty good arboreal representation of the DFW freeway system:

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When we had seen everything there is to see at the Botanic Gardens we still had a good chunk of afternoon left, so we decided to go check out the Water Gardens.

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The Water Gardens are kind of surreal. They’re designed to resemble a wilderness of canyons, mountains, lakes and rivers, represented in stark, geometric lines.

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The active pool is energetic and exciting.

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The quiet pool evokes a sense of standing in a wooded canyon near a serene lake.

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The aerated pool was the least interesting to us. I get what they were going for, but it didn’t really speak to us like the others did.

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Got mildly lost on the way home, trying to navigate my Apple Maps directions in reverse. By then I was in too good a mood to be bothered by it, though. Eventually I will master these freeways, because the alternative is missing out on too many of the incredible things that the Metroplex has to offer.

I freaking love this place.

Categories: environment, Family, Gardening, Humor, kids, Life, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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