Rhonda the Pencil Plant

Gene and Rhonda

Gene and Rhonda

This pencil plant has a lively history. I learned of it years ago when Dianna was selling her plant nursery. I lusted after this plant, and Dianna was giving plants away. But no, she did not want me to have this one. She gave me several others to take home that day when Marideth and I visited the soon to be closed business. I quit thinking about the plant and how lovely it would look in my large open living room.

Several years later at Christmas time friends were coming to my house for an evening of gift exchange and merriment. Pat and Lois and Marideth were among the guests. Pat called and asked me if I was still interested in the pencil plant that Dianna had owned. I said YES! Expecting to get a cutting and having forgotten, or maybe not even knowing that Pat had the plant, I was delighted.

Well it was cold, and December, and a long haul to Moonmooring from WP. They were going to give it a try anyway. It had outgrown Pat’s living room and needed to move on. So they wrapped “Rhonda” in a heavy blanket and tossed ‘er into the back of a pickup, laying down. And by the way could I take a couple of chickens. Now I have no idea why anyone thinks I should have chickens. Have you seen where I live? Chicken story at eleven.

December 2012

December 2012

A few hours later here they came down my long dusty lane (now frozen) and backed in. Much to my surprise we hauled out the fit as a fiddle and all of six feet tall pencil tree. I was more than a little amazed. There was a little pine green crochet bag adorning the goli’eth. It had been made by Mosa and inside the bag was a tiny crystal. The little bag and crystal a gift from Susan. Some time later after a visit from other friends Lucy and Donna, Lucy gifted me “Legs”, a coiled realistic looking snake, to add to Rhonda. She said Legs had been around a very long time and needed a new home and one of two large house plants I had would do nicely. Legs ended up living in a huge palm part of the time. That too is another story.  Sheesh, how do I get myself in these fixes?

One winter I strung some of those tiny flickering lights through Rhonda and she acted just like a Christmas tree. Rhonda was fast becoming a fancy gal. That was fun.

Rhonda's "friend", the palm

Rhonda’s “friend”, the palm

Every spring Rhonda goes to the yard to soak up the sun and rain and to grow about two more feet. Sometimes she gets a trim in the spring.

Every October Rhonda comes back in the house but not before I do some serious chopping. You already know she has grown at least two feet and sometimes more than that. Rhonda’s “choppins’” often go to unwitting avid plant lovers throughout the Ozarks.

One spring I was trimming all the plants and repotting for the season. I had over thirty house plants in those days but we won’t go there right now either. Anyway, repotting that many house plants can be quite a job and I got side tracked with something. There were about ten big branches of Rhonda scattered on the ground in the repotting area and they got left there. They rooted. All of them. And so did Rhonda. Right out the bottom of the pot and into the sandy soil. I had to use a saw to dissect her from the ground that fall.

Lets all take a Zen kind of moment and think about adopting an appendage from Rhonda.

Let’s all take a Zen kind of moment and think about adopting an appendage from Rhonda.

Legs still lives in Rhonda. Or the big palm, Or coiled up on a small bench in the entryway. He keeps the UPS guy on his toes, as well as a few other people.

As you may know, it is October. In fact, it is nearing the end of October and Rhonda is still waiting for her annual haircut. I chopped one crazy cowlick and sent it to Abby but I never did hear if it actually reached the destination.

Any takers on a really great, easy to grow, exotic plant to liven your own menagerie? Free for the taking. Seriously. Gene has the chainsaw ready and Legs is standing back.

Plants need love too. Glad to be in for the winter, the palm

Plants need love too. Glad to be in for the winter, the palm

Some of the other Moonmooring wildlife, the Flamingo herd

Some of the other Moonmooring wildlife, the Flamingo herd

signature, Sarah

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Pre – Burn


In twenty four hours this will be gone. Gone. Up in a blaze.


Until several weeks ago it was the rented home of a friend. But like so many things in the Ozarks it was seeping back into the ground upon which it stood. It was melting back to its’ origins. Sagging floors, drafty windows, leaky faucets and the magical hold the Ozark weather has on aging structures was bringing this abode to the final days.

In the spirit of honor a planned burn will complete the task within a few hours and in a safe manor.

In the meantime salvage of usable parts and pieces, tubs, and tanks, windows and wainscoting are near done today. The roofers are the last team to dismantle, removing  the shingles as they are toxic if burned.






















signature, Sarah

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19th Annual River Concert

Big slate of talented musicians playing afternoon til late, next to the clear water.

- The Ozark Hellbenders, with CD Scott and Gordon Johnston
– Songwriter Daniel Roth, Brixey, Mo.
– Nora and Gnoll, radical-folk duo
– The Brixey Ticks
– Yellow Submarine Sandwich

Concert benefits the Yellow House Cultural Arts Center and the Ozarks Resource Center (ORC), West Plains, a not-for-profit that promotes environmental quality in the Ozarks.

Suggested donation $8

SILENT AUCTION – please bring a fun item. We’ve seen great bids on artwork, plants, garden produce, collectors’ items, baked goods and bodywork certificates.

A new twist this year! We’re offering an online auction of select items in addition to the on-site auction. These items will be available for both online and in-person physical bids. See the online auction items here.

An online auction enables out-of-town friends to support ORC (projects listed below) and it adds to the fun of the physical auction, too, because some people at the River Concert will invariably bid online for items using their cell phones and no one at the concert will see them doing it.

Bidding online is easy at: www.32auctions.com/orc

Payment is by credit card. You can either pick up the item at a West Plains location or pay a little extra to have it shipped to you.

FOOD – Fundraising concessions available – chili, dogs, entrees, desserts and more. Come hungry. Goodies donated to the concession stand are much appreciated.

FLOATING AND CAMPING – Arrive early and float with our hosts, Sunburst Ranch owners Amy and Justin Spencer. Stay overnight on their campgrounds and enjoy a breakfast feast with us on Sunday morning. Cabins available; contact Sunburst directly to reserve one. (417) 284-3443.http://sunburstranchcanoe.com/contact.html

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARAIN PLAN – If it’s pouring, we’ll move to the Yellow House, 209 Trish Knight Blvd, West Plains.

DIRECTIONS – From West Plains take Hwy 160 West past Caulfield to Hwy H. Turn right/north, go 5 miles. Just a half-mile past the low-water Patrick Bridge, there’s a Sunburst Ranch sign on the right. Turn right on CR 352, and follow the gravel drive to the river pavilion.

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Fast Food Done Right

Who needs a quick meal!? We all do now and then. Yesterday found me with a way lot to do and only so many hours to do it all. I never pass the opportunity to serve what is coming in from the garden and being short on time brought this beautiful, filling meal to the table.

Colorful tomatoes all in a bowl.

Colorful tomatoes all in a bowl

Smooth creamy dressing

Smooth creamy dressing

And a hearty classic with an old fashion twist

And a hearty classic with an old fashion twist

Several varieties and colors of fresh tomatoes created the delicious salad.

about 2 C rough chopped tomatoes

2 medium cucumbers, sliced

1/4 medium red onion, slivered

Gently stir all together and let stand for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.


The Dressing

3 Tbls. mayonaise

2 Tbls. sour cream

2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and minced

1/8 tsp. black pepper or to taste

Mix all together and serve on the side


The Main Dish

Prepare one box of organic macaroni and cheese according to package directions. While the macaroni is cooking drain one or two cans of your favorite tuna. Cook about 3/4 to 1 C. fresh or frozen peas just till barely tender and drain. When macaroni and cheese is prepared and hot, add the tuna and peas, stir well.

This meal was a delight to look at and tasty and filling! It took me about thirty minutes to prepare it. Now that is fast food!

signature, Sarah



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Spent and More Beautiful

An old spent bloom is often the most beautiful form a flower takes. There are several other things in the world whose beauty increases with age – women come to my mind. Here we have a spent Queen Annes Lace.

This is for you Mom, more beautiful every day.

IMG_4947signature, Sarah


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A Sunday Drive

Sunday drives are going the way of a rotary phone – nearly nonexistent. When I was a kid we would often go for a Sunday afternoon drive, stop at the local ice cream drive in and have an ice cream sunday with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Time constraints and gas prices have all but put a stop to the activity for most people.

This past weekend found Gene and myself going for a spontaneous Sunday drive to explore a couple places that have caught our eye as we passed by. We made the circuit from Moonmooring to Bexar and across to Highway 9 to Oxford and Brockwell then all the way to the big city of Batesville for a near missed dinner at the local Japanese steak house. One expects more from a college town than chains and mediocre Japanese food but that is all our search turned up. It was well prepared and filling. Most places were closed on Sunday evening. Batesville, home of Lyon College – the second oldest college in Arkansas is in turn home to the Arkansas Scottish Festival and certainly a great spring destination.

A few photos from our dirt road travels.


wild poppies


spent clover


A classic single pen log house with a shed add on in back. Between Bexar and Oxford on Union Road / Highway 18.

Near Greasy Creek

Near Greasy Creek


oxeye daisy

Sprawling oak

Sprawling oak

The spiderwort is blooming today  but I couldn't seem to get a clear shot of it.

The spiderwort is blooming today but I couldn’t seem to get a clear shot of it.

signature, Sarah


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It’s a Mini Garden Year

The Moonmooring garden many years ago.

Moonmooring garden many years ago.

It’s been many years since my garden has been small. It was probably in the mid 80’s when I had a little space about 14 X 14 feet roughly cut out of the woods with a jalopied fence around it. In the middle of that space was a big stump that we had not the tools or knowledge of how to get rid of. You see we were city kids at the time and trying to learn how to be country kids – in our late 20’s. It was a long learning curve.

The garden got a little bigger each year and the stump 

Year of the Cushaw. Marideth and I harvested over 350 pounds from one hill of Cushaw.

Year of the Cushaw. Marideth and I harvested over 350 pounds from one hill.

finally rotted out. I learned to make compost and amended the soil with it and fifty pound bags of composted manure from Wal Mart. Times have changed since then.

After a divorce new friends taught me how to really plant and care for tomatoes, how to mulch with six inches of straw and what to do with the alien looking rhubarb. I remember that first garden and the bounty of tomatoes throughout the summer and into the fall. I remember the first hard freeze coming and recalled helping my mother pull her tomato plants up by the

roots – in the dark, drag them into the garage and cover the whole mess with old blankets

My favorite - snow peas.

My favorite – snow peas.

so we could pick them at our leisure the next day. I’ve done that, but this year around ’93 or so I had time to take a wheelbarrow to the garden and pick them all from the vine, green, red and in-between, before the sun went down. That year I ate my last ripe tomato on Christmas day and it was good.

Let me tell you a bit more about that tomato year. Marideth Sisco taught me how to mulch the garden heavy with straw early in the fall and let the straw

compost down over the winter. We turned every square of that stuff when it started to

Only in the fall for me - broccoli.

Only in the fall for me – broccoli.

sprout so the seed would all die out. Come spring I had a plethora of warm dark dirt underneath the straw and teaming with earthworms. About every foot we parted the earthy straw and planted each of the dozen leggy tomato plants as deep as we could along a hog wire fence. A big handful of compost and some fish emulsion went in each hole. We pulled the thick layer of rotting straw up close to the tender plants and wished them well. I learned to make this great foliar feed and diligently sprayed them once a week. There was a bumper crop of



tomatoes that year and when the frost was coming the plants were still loaded with beauties in all stages of ripeness.

I filled that wheelbarrow as the sun was setting and the cold set in. I brought that wheelbarrow right into the kitchen and it stayed there until it was empty of tomatoes just before Christmas. Every day I would pick through the ‘barrow and lift out any near ripe ones to set in the window sill and remove any that obviously weren’t going to make it. The lost ones were few and far


Baby bean plants

between. I made spaghetti sauce, and fried green tomatoes, and tuna fish sandwiches and ate tomatoes every day that Fall and winter.

The garden got bigger every year after that.

This year finds me back at Moonmooring enough days of the week to miss the garden here.    Having not been worked in several years and the weeds gone to seed and quite a few trees needing to come down in the area it seemed an insurmountable task to rejuvenate the old garden spot this year.



Hence the mini garden of Moonmooring! Twelve large tires with the sidewalls cut out and laid out next to the patio just outside the kitchen I have a couple Celebrity tomatoes, lemon drop peppers, a yellow bell and a pablano, a mess of basil tucked in around everything along with onions, three Ping Tung eggplants, a mess of cilantro and parsley (for all the tabouli we plan on eating this summer), a four foot row of cucumbers, and a six foot row of rattlesnake pole beans. Gene has graciously caged the tomatoes and fenced the tiny

- less than two hundred square feet – garden. Now I find



myself with a fence line and nothing growing on it. Ok three earth boxes got moved into the space today and I broke out the flower seeds. Seems a good year to plant the zinnias I have always wanted.

With just an ounce of luck, a lot of mulch and the magic foliar feed this space will put some food on the table every day all season once it starts to produce. And I will post pictures of the garden and the food we make out of it and share recipes right here. 

The 2014 little garden.

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Bonnie appetite!

signature, Sarah

Some of the many harvests last year.

Some of the many harvests last year.

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