What the Divas Did in 2008, Part 3


Everyone but the hostess was emailing about the October Diva Day.

Karla: I have GC on my calendar this Saturday at Buffy's - does any one else have the same date?

Glinda: Yes, Karla! I was counting on it but haven't talked to Buffy in awhile.

Karla: Ok, I will count on it until I hear differently

Sophia: I have this Saturday as the diva date too. I’m sharpening the spade as I speak.

Diva-Annie: OK, it looks like we all are ready! What time Buffy?

Mattie: I will be there! See you soon.

Mindy: Hey Divas - I talked to Buffy this week & she said 8:30a.m. Saturday--was getting ready to email everyone (wonder if she's having computer problems again??) She also said we may have a special guest?:) I had to remind her that this weekend is RED RIVER SHOOTOUT weekend--I'll be wearing BURNT ORANGE w/ my gardening duds. See everyone Saturday!! Hookem'!!!

When we arrived we discovered that founding Diva Sugar was the surprise guest – we’re always glad to see her!

It had been a long and eventful summer, with all sorts of things happening in everyone’s lives, some funny, some important, some full of potential and some very sad. We had a very late start – finally sitting down to a delectable breakfast of fluffy biscuits, hash browns, two kinds of quiche and luscious fruit.Divasofthedirt,gerber daisies on table
Some of our work would be revisiting and tidying the central front bed and mulching everything well – these skullcaps are doing great!Divasofthedirt,skullcaps and asters

When Buffy planted these Greek Myrtles they were labeled as “dwarf” Myrtus communis 'Nana', but dwarf in plants doesn’t mean petite…it means they’re smaller than the usual species. I’ve seen photos of regular Greek myrtles shaped into trees and over 15-feet tall …guess Buffy’s 6-foot shrubs are still dwarf in comparison!Divasofthedirt,dwarf greek myrtles
Buffy had a renewal project in mind – it had been nearly a decade since the shrub border near the gate was first made, and it was looking tired. Sun and shade patterns had changed so some plants had become misshapen in a search for sun and others had become overgrown. Chopping and digging up roots takes time! We’d get as much done as possible today, but this wasn’t a one-day project – it would be an ongoing process.

Divasofthedirt,cut the roots
Libby likes to supervise but also likes to get underfoot! Luckily a peek-window in the fence let her keep track of what the Divas were doing without the chance of her running into the street. Yeah - she really is a cute dog!Divasofthedirt,Libby peek out

When we broke for lunch we found an indoor picnic awaiting us – deli sandwiches with great bread, an array of spreads and the traditional, always welcome Zucchini Soup.

Divasofthedirt,deli lunch

The border now had some new perennials planted toward the front with space for whatever new shrubs Buffy decided to buy in the back. Because we had moved to the rotating schedules in place of the randomly drawn garden dates, Buffy knew she would have Divas to help her in the spring.
Divasofthedirt,space to plant
Before we left we admired the metallic blue berries on the 'Spring Bouquet' Viburnum and rejoiced that the day’s temperatures this October had stayed under 90°F.Divasofthedirt,spring bouquet viburnum berries
Mattie: Sounds like you had a wonderful time. So sorry that I missed you. See you November 1st.

Glinda: Sure hope you're feeling better soon - see you in three weeks!
I put up a couple of photos on the Divas blog

Mattie: Thanks so much.

Diva-Annie: Sorry that you were sick and missed on a wonderful day with the divas, glad you are feeling better in time for work. Glinda, thanks for the updated photos on the blog! Have a great week everybody!

Sugar: i had so much fun hanging all day w/ you girls. i miss ya'll so much. i was pretty tired when i got home, but it was so good to be out…& it couldn't have been w/ better company! …thanks for the recipe. it was sooooo good so can't wait to make a batch.


Glinda: Just in case the cooler weather has anyone out working on their borders, I’ve been dividing some lambs ear and have extra if anyone wants any.

Sophia: I'm in for some. Thanks Glinda!

Mindy: RE: Lambs ears; I would LOVE to have some—could you please save some for my date next weekend?? This morning would be the perfect Diva day beginning, I can only cross my fingers and hope the cool fall temps hold thru next weekend w/o any downpours.

The basic plan will be to work the front entryway w/ the jungle of fig ivy to be tamed, and the naturalized area behind the pond & stream. IF there is any time left I may want to lay down newpaper & mulch to extend the bed by the back fence for a future planting next year (BTW—if any one has newpapers piling up in the recycle pile, please bring themJ
Mattie, I hope you are recovered and with us for next we—really missed you at Buffy’s. Breakfast will be at 8:30 next Saturday, looking forward to seeing everyone!!!

Diva-Annie: I’d love a bit of lambs ears too, as mine have all gone away!
Mindy, I’m glad you sent this e-mail, I was thinking that you had chosen the 1st for your date, I’ve got it right on my calendar now! And, I’ve got plenty of newspapers piling up, just hope I can remember to bring them!

Sophia: I had Nov 1 as your garden day too but next weekend will be good for me as well. Your plan sounds good-looking forward to seeing a different Austin terrain!

Glinda: Now I’m totally confused, Mindy!! When did it turn into the 25th of October instead of the 1st of November?
Since Mindy & Diva-Annie want Lambs ears, I’ll try to bring them to Mindy’s house…and get them to (Sophia’s) house soon.
Maker Faire was exhausting fun yesterday – new blog post and videos of the Singing Tesla Coils and Ring of Fire are up: Maker Faire Austin 2008.

Mindy: Yikes!! Sorry I confused everyone---it’s still on Nov 1st, my brain just got tangled up w/ all the appts between work, etc…jumped ahead a week!!! …looks like the focus will be on the fig ivy that has relatives in “Little Shop of Horrors”!!! A thousand pardons for the confusion---everyone have an awesome week and I WILL see you on the 1st!!!

Glinda: Thanks for the clarification, Mindy – (went on tour of two bloggers’ gardens) - lots of gravel and stone, bamboos, agaves, stock tank ponds, pathways all sorts of native and adapted plants and no grass in back at all. Very interesting. See you guys soon!

Mattie: Sounds very cool, Glinda. I’d love to hear more about any different types of plants…enjoyed a walk at LB Lake this morning. Saw lots of Four O’Clocks blooming along the trail. I used to have tons in my other yard. Have any of you planted them? I hope some seeds will be ready this Fall since we have had some rain. Can’t wait to see you all at Mindy’s 11-1. Have a good week

Diva-Annie: OK, the first of November it is!!! Have a great week everyone!!


Divasofthedirt,barbados cherry blossomsThe Barbados cherries were in full bloom as we gathered in Mindy’s kitchen, their trunks making interesting patterns against the stone of the house near the backdoor.

Divasofthedirt,barbados cherry trunksMindy stoked up with an Egg & Ham casserole, Hash Browns under a crust, and lots of Strawberries with other fruit. We caught up on each other’s news and heard how things were progressing for Mindy & Warren’s families in the aftermath of IKE. We were happy to meet Warren’s mom who was staying there for awhile.

Divasofthedirt,dining room
As we’d read in the emails, our project was to prune the Creeping Fig vine at Mindy’s front entrance….sounds kind of simple, doesn’t it?

We smiled at Rusty the metal horse as we walked down the sidewalk to the front door:
Divasofthedirt,rusty horse in bermuda grass
Then faced the monster that had eaten the front door, the timbered courtyard canopy, the walls of the house and was now trying to get under the roof. Divasofthedirt,arch under fig vineBelieve it or not there’s a stone housewall, a half-dead oak tree and an arch under that tangle of vines.
Divasofthedirt,cannot see doorsTwo 4”pots of Fig Ivy - so small, with such delicate leaves - had grown, and grown and grown, spreading and covering. The threadlike stems thickened, the roots moved underground as the walls disappeared and the wooden shade timbers over the entrance were engulfed. No wonder no one ever came to the front door!
Divasofthedirt,fig vine from below
At first Mindy thought we should just cut it back one more time, but seeing what the expanding fingers of the fig had done to the siding changed the course of the day… it was time to expose the house walls again, to make the entrance more welcoming. Bring on the pruners, saws, loppers and pole pruners ….oops, looks like one of the Divas lost her grip!

Divasofthedirt,gardener disappeared
It was fascinating to take off huge pieces with the structure looking like some kind of underwater coral.Divasofthedirt,rip off fig ivy
Sophia was in a ladder-climbing mood that day – she looks gleeful as she clips the house free.
Divasofthedirt,sophia on ladder
Mindy decided to climb, too – balancing herself on the courtyard timbers as we sent up encouragement and advice on where to make the next cut.Divasofthedirt,mindy in fig vine
Mindy had a reward waiting for us at lunchtime – fabulous cornbread with crawfish mixed in….really fabulous! Divasofthedirt,pretty tableThe cornbread accompanied a homemade Gumbo – think it’s a family recipe – both chicken and sausage and dark rich broth as intoxicating as any liqueur.

Divasofthedirt,apples for french tart
Dessert was a French Apple Tart – sweetening the realization that we had to go back and work on the fig some more!
Divasofthedirt,fig root grid
The walls were clear but it would take another session to get the courtyard ready to plant.

Divasofthedirt,malvaviscus pams pink
Mindy had bought one of the new Turks caps – Malvaviscus ‘Pam’s Pink’ - hope it can survive living with Mindy’s deer!

Divasofthedirt,sophia, karla, buffyWe had quite a day – time to go home…
Divasofthedirt,annie, glinda, mattie
and how much do you want to bet the Fig Vine will have popped up again to greet us when we come back next spring?

Dear Divas---

Thank you seems so insufficient when I look at the front of my house now—Warren and I see not only what we started with years ago, but so many new possibilities.

I hope everyone is recovering from the days efforts--I know I hit a wall on Sunday afternoon and didn't make it out of the recliner until bedtime. Karla, how is your wrenched back? (I hear a California mud bath cures anything:) Annie, hope the eyes are all clear again; Mattie, sorry for the cold shower!! Sophia, you’re probably looking for a climb up one of Austin's Moon towers!!!

You were all amazing as usual and I enjoyed such a spectacular result, thank you everyone!! Enjoy a great week and I'll see you at our Holidiva Day!!



Subject: Italiano Holi-diva-day!


It’s time for the 2008 “holidiva” holiday celebration! This year’s theme is in honor of my cultural heritage-Italiano.

I will be serving homemade lasagna.

Here are the categories:



Soup- Annie & Sophia (Italian Wedding Soup)

Main dish-Sophia

Side dish

Side dish



If you choose not to make an Italian inspired dish, feel free to bring whatever sumptuous delicacy you desire.

I am looking forward to having a holiday celebration with all of you!

Ciao! Sophia

Buffy: I can't wait!!! My mouth is watering!!! I will bring a salad. I will also bring a bottle of wine, how about a nice Chianti.
Y'all have a great Thanksgiving!

I will bring a side dish and a bottle of wine. See you then!!

Put me down for Appetizer--shall I bring the champagne cocktails?? Just got a new shipment of bubbly from California!!

See you Holidivas later!!! Have a Happy Turkey Day--gobble, gobble…

Don’t we eat the salad after the main course if we are going real Italiano??? But, I do think we drink the wine all day!!!!

You are right Karla! The salad should be eaten after the main course before dessert to cleanse the palate and wine before, between and after each course!!!

I'd like to make a Gepetto Pie for dessert unless your hearts are set on the bread pudding. I've been making it for twenty years and my husband and sons request this instead of cake for their birthdays. The recipe came from Gepetto's Restaurant in Washington DC.

Glinda: Sorry about that! Saw Annie down for soup but missed seeing her name on dessert. Thinking again....

…since Annie is making dessert, and I don't see an email from anyone saying they were bringing the bread, I'd like to use an old family recipe and make parmesan crescent rolls.

Hi fellow divas!

Hope you are all ready for a hearty holidiva day!

It’s been a very hectic week for me. One event was that Roger tore a tendon above his knee last week and has been in bed all week and/or on crutches. (Needless to say there are no outside Xmas lights this tear!l [now] Roger has pneumonia! He’s not contagious but we can lock him up in his media room anyway.
I’m not calling off the luncheon-talked with Roger and he is fine with everything. The Divas must go on!!
Mindy- did you say you were bringing champagne?

See you all around noon!

Divasofthedirt,christmas treeNo evidence of the hectic week greeted us when we arrived – all looked very ready for our annual holiday meeting. But we seemed to be arriving in a not-very punctual manner….what’s sometimes known as Diva Time! Sophia, Karla, Mattie, Annie and Glinda were present and accounted for … and we weren’t worried about Buffy since we hadn’t let her be in charge of the appetizers. But where was Mindy? And where were our hors d’oeuvres and poinsettia cocktails?

Ever the gracious host, even when barely mobile, Roger whipped up some Cosmopolitans – Annie approves!Divasofthedirt,annie

Sometimes a Diva has to be inventive …Karla discovered that her vegetable mélange on one of Glinda’s crescent rolls was a fine appetizer.Divasofthedirt,karla at counter

Yay – here’s Mindy with champagne and cranberry juice – Poinsettia time!
Divasofthedirt,mindy mix cocktails

Mindy also brought the sweetest little crabcakes with sauce – Matties says Delish!
Divasofthedirt,mattie tries crabcakes

Hostess Sophia already knows this will be a swell partyDivasofthedirt,hostess sophia

Ta-da! We love the brand-new dining room furniture and the revamped dining roomDivasofthedirt,table so lovely

With each place looking like a magazine cover photo
Divasofthedirt, christmas place setting

Bring on the lasagna, the roasted vegetables, the salad, the unbelievably good wedding soup and the wine. We started late and lingered long. The day was pleasant so between the main courses and the dessert we decided to take a walk around the block for fresh air, exercise and to get a good look at the holiday decorations around Sophia’s neighborhood.

Divasofthedirt,grab bag gifts
We played the steal the gift game with the grab bag treasures we’d brought and savored the traditional Amaretto Bread pudding.

Mattie: It was so nice of you to host the party, Sophia. I gobbled down the piece of delicious lasagna that I brought home (how could I have been hungry?) and thought about the great time we had. Happy holidays to you all. I look forward to seeing you in January.

Sophia: Ho Ho Ho Divas!
It felt so nice having you all over yesterday. Thanks for coming over for a fun afternoon! The food you all brought was just delicious!!!
I hope you all have a great holiday season and a blessed new year.

Karla: It was a very nice holi-diva day – thank you for hosting – everything was wonderful!! I think next year we need to hire a food patrol to measure what we eat – I believe I consumed enough calories to last till sometime after Christmas – of course, that has not stopped me from consuming more!! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Diva-Annie: Remember that commercial, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing", well we did and more!!! It was a delicious and a wonderful Holi-Diva gathering! Thanks for being such a great hostess Sophia! and thanks to Roger getting out of his sick bed to make cosmopolitians! Think that should be an annual tradition too! The happiest of holidays to all!

Looking Ahead
The Divas of the Dirt hope you enjoyed spending 2008 with us and look forward to more adventures in 2009!

Divasofthedirt,buffy, glinda, sophia, annieBuffy, Glinda, Sophia & Annie

Divasofthedirt,buffy, mattie, karla, mindyBuffy, Mattie, Karla and Mindy

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