Temptation Won


In a previous post, I said I would not go to the annual sale at Pandora’s Box, a unique junk-antique-reproduction-and-plant store located in the tiny town of Frankston, Texas.  I was trying my best to be good and save my shekels so I can donate them to some poor needy hospital in east Texas.—Ha-ha! (That’s an inside joke.)


My neighbor, however, put me in a double-Nelson, tossed me into her SUV, and forced me to go to this sale with her.  (Do you believe that?  Neither do I.)  She did, however, give me permission to say that she was my enabler, so of course I’m not completely at fault.

I told myself I was only looking and that I would not buy anything.  That changed to “Well, if I find something fairly cheap, I might buy it.”  And then there was “I’ll never see anything like this again.  It won’t be here next week and not at this price.  Get it.” So, I did.  I honestly didn’t spend that much, and the items purchased were all for the garden, which gives me a free pass, right?


My neighbor liked, but didn’t buy, this wire plant stand.  Cost was $35.

I asked JB (short for Jo Beth) who works at Pandora’s if I could take photos of their stuff, and she said it wasn’t a problem.

JB, by the way, is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to plants.  I *believe* she used to work as a high-end landscape designer and also in a plant nursery. She is always extremely helpful and friendly.

It’s too early yet for Pandora’s plants to be in, so that means I will have to make another trip there.—Darned, that’s just so hard, right?

Anyway, you’re invited to come along and enjoy an impromptu look at Pandora’s Box.



Scrumptious iron fencing above. Yum!


Piggy for the yard, anyone?


How about  a frog who plays the banjo?



The photos I’ve taken don’t cover half of what this store sells. Photos that I didn’t take were of clawfoot bathtubs, antique doors & windows, concrete birdbaths, a wall of cute signs, concrete flower pots, antique porch posts, doorknobs, Victorian furniture, vintage wire fencing, old and reproduction hardware, rusted farm implements, taxidermy, lots of outdoor metal furniture, and many other items. Regardless of whether or not you make a purchase, Pandora’s Box is fun to walk through, and they always play all kinds of cool music.  The song playing when we went inside was Dog and the Butterfly by Heart.

Okay, follow me inside.



Love the stained glass and red glassware.




Unlike me, you’re only looking and not spending money. Good for you!


The bust above reminded me a little of the ones my former neighbor in Austin, Texas purchased. I honor her creativity. (Remember, we’re all different, and I think that’s a good thing.)  The Austin neighbor went to a department store’s closing sale and brought home something like ten of these.

Her plan was to mount these butts as finials on top of the white limestone pillars in her fence.  She never got around to it though.  Can you imagine rounding the corner in an unfamiliar neighborhood to see 10 butts on top of limestone pillars?  The woman had guts to even think of this.





See the baby buggy above? The neighbor who went with me said she thought it looked creepy–as in something you might see in a horror film.  Guess I’ve not seen enough horror movies.  I thought the buggy was kind of cute.  (Maybe she was thinking of this movie.  If so, I’m glad I missed it!)

I’ll end this post by telling you that the first time I visited Pandora’s Box I committed a huge faux pas.

The store has several “store” cats that wander the premises, both inside and out.  When I’d finished shopping, and went to the counter to check out, there was a cat lying on it.  This kitty looked a little moth-eaten, and it didn’t move.  I thought it was a stuffed fake cat. After all, the store sold other forms of taxidermy, and a friend of mine has a fake cat made out of rabbit fur that looked just like that kitty.

I asked, “Is that a fake cat?”  The owner gave me an odd look and answered, “No.”  I didn’t know she was the store owner or I would have shut up right then, but of course I didn’t because I HAD to stick my foot in my mouth.  I thought perhaps she might have been a new store clerk who didn’t know much.

I said, “Are you sure?”  With those three words, I put myself in the kitty litter box.

The irritated owner responded, “No, she is not a fake cat.  She’s just very old.”  I wished I could have disappeared at that moment and frankly, it took me a few months before I felt brave enough to venture back into the store again. Glad I did.

What Old Lady Gardeners Do at Night


Coral Vine in this yard.  Early fall.

I debated long and hard as to whether I should post this because it’s embarrassing…

My sweet neighbor came over to see me.  She came over to talk about gardening, which of course is one of my favorite subjects.

She talked about putting in a raised vegetable garden, the ornamental plants she thinks she might purchase including some pretty cool roses, and what to do with a bare area in her yard where run off travels when it rains.

And then we switched gears to discuss the totally disrespectful person who keeps driving by her home late at night playing music with a deep bass. The bass makes her windows vibrate.

I told her that person was very inconsiderate.  I *think* she mentioned wanting to get their license plate number, but that may have come out in a previous conversation about the same subject.  She mentioned they drove by again three days ago just when she was trying to sleep.  She’s gone outside to try to see their car, but misses it every time.

I was on board with my neighbor’s annoyance toward this insensitive clout’s behavior.  I envisioned this person being a young 20-something male blaring his car stereo, driving fast, and looking to score.  Isn’t that what comes to mind?

Unrelated to my neighbor’s problem, I’ve committed myself to making a gardener dancing video at the request of a Garden Rant post  and I’ve decided to dance my own slower version of the Can Can perhaps wearing a plastic pot of flowers on my head.

Of course, anyone who has read a little of this blog knows I recently had surgery and that the cost was of my hospital stay was astronomical.  I don’t know yet what portion of that bill I’ll have to pay, but one figure quoted was 30K.

So, late at night, while most of you “normal” people are sleeping, I get bored. I’ve been listening to the theme music from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly as I ruminated about my hospital bill.

In a crazy moment a few nights ago, I decided to pretend I was Blondie (Clint Eastwood) fighting against the hospital for 30K in gold.  I put on my cowboy-like hat, a fake moustache (yes, really), and picked up my grabber (a necessity when you’ve had a hip replacement) and my leg lifter.


Grabber, above.

The grabber became my rifle as I pointed and snapped it at the hospital account statement, and I swung my leg lifter like a lasso to the music.  I imagined I had a cigar in my mouth, and I made mean faces in the mirror, then stomped around the room like a tough gunslinger.  I was having a blast with my music cranked to the hilt.  Next, I decided to dance the Can-Can.  (It’s hard.)  I got out my mother’s large feather hat, put it on, then thought about how I could not only dance the Can-Can for a gardening video but could dance in front of the hospital in protest to their bill with a sign that reads: “I Can-Can-Not pay you 30K” tied to my butt, which I would wag at anyone watching. (Would I actually do this? Probably not.)

And the truth is I’ve played the loud music dancing around with the grabber and the leg lifter and also dancing to the tune of the Can-Can, not once but twice, late at night.  (This is what SOME non-Facebook users do in their spare time after dark.)

I had a great time entertaining myself–laughing while dancing–and as you might imagine, I worked up a sweat and was exhausted when I turned the music off.  (Dancing is a good form of exercise that prepares gardeners for lifting heavy flower pots.)  Anyway, it was about 10:45 pm the second time I did this three nights ago.

So back to my poor neighbor…She told me this awful person drove by at about 10:45 pm……and, yes, it took me about 5 minutes–I’m slow–to realize that the awful loud obnoxious noisy person…was me, and I’m not male and I’m not in my 20’s.  What a stereotype!

I apologized to my neighbor.  She was gracious.

I really am SO sorry!  It won’t happen again.



To Auction to Auction to buy a Fat Pig

Yesterday I went to my first auction–as an adult–with my next-door neighbor; the one I like so much.

In this auction, there were several gardening items for bid including a glazed urn, three chimney pots, a very large concrete cherub, a large wire pig, many pieces of outdoor metal furniture, and some galvanized pails.

My neighbor’s been to the auction house in our town many times.  This particular house receives large shipments from Europe containing lovely antiques, which explains how my neighbor obtained some pretty big pieces of furniture to go in her new old house.  Her home is a two-story 130-year old Victorian, which she’s in the process of renovating.

As a kid, my mom went to auctions, and I remember a little about them—running around, as lively kids do–exploring every nook and cranny of a huge room with lots of people and interesting things.  Of course, I wasn’t bidding at 8 years old.

Aside from a pot-bellied stove, antique tins, steamer trunks, and stained glass windows, Mom came home with several boxes of vintage Nancy Drew Mysteries and The Wind and the Willows, which I devoured.  I think I went from being a non-reader to a reader that year sneaking Nancy Drew books inside my larger spelling book at school. (While I was supposed to be doing spelling exercises, I was reading Nancy Drew.)

Anyway, yesterday’s auction turned out to be an enjoyable outing, and I behaved myself.  Well, sort of.  I lost the bid on a small stained-glass window and on a table I didn’t need (but wow, it was beautiful).  Instead, I came home with a $35.00 chimney pot for the garden.


The chimney pot needs a little work, but then again, it seems I’m the one who always rescues broken things—like buying falling down houses–to make them into something everyone wants.


(My former house when we purchased it.  If you want to see how this house turned out, there are photos here and here.)

Hey, well, I could have worse habits!

My new chimney pot has a missing piece from its crown that I will repair and once repaired, I will repaint it.

My neighbor, for her part, purchased a ton (6 or 8?) of stained glass windows. She will re-frame some to install in her house, hang some on her porch, and one matching pair will be framed into our mutual wooden fence.  (She’d previously ordered another stained-glass window for the fence on e-Bay only to return it because the “glass” was plastic.)

My neighbor also brought along a gardening book I lent her, Fran Sorin’s Digging Deep.

One of the best parts of this experience was sitting in the car with my neighbor’s husband going home. The vehicle was packed to the hilt.

I told the husband enthusiastically, “Your wife and I were talking, and we think it would be a great idea to convert your attic into a craft room to fit in the furniture she bought today.”  His wife interjected, “Laura, you weren’t supposed to mention the furniture!”   (She didn’t buy any furniture.)

I went on and said, “You know the contractor I used in Tyler built a new outdoor staircase to the room above the garage, and I know he’d be glad to give you some pointers on building an outdoor staircase to access your attic.”

The husband didn’t say a word.  He didn’t smile.  It was very quiet in the car for a full minute.

We waited for a response.  Nothing.

Then, my neighbor and I both laughed and told him we were pulling his leg.

He told us, “You got me.”

All of this said, I need to stop these sort of shenanigans ‘cause I’m not sure my neighbor’s husband will EVER let me hang out with his wife again.


Garden Signs

Do you have a garden sign or two in your garden?  Do tell…

My neighbors across the street are gardeners, and I’d like to think, although I could be wrong, that I influenced them to add a sign or two to their yard when they saw mine.   (No, they didn’t see ALL of my signs.  Some are a bit strange and not meant for the viewing public.  I’ll let YOU see them.  You don’t live next-door to me.) Anyway, my neighbors paint their signs by hand and take their wording–I think–from signs they’ve seen at a local craft store.

I am currently too lazy to paint signs by hand.  I have before, and if I do say so myself, the three signs I created turned out well, BUT because they were hand-painted and placed outdoors, they weren’t as durable as I’d hoped they would be.  I now use the services of Build-A-Sign to create what I want.  It’s true, signs from Build-A-Sign aren’t as home-y as a hand-painted sign or look as good as a porcelain enamel sign, but it’s a small price to pay for an easily-made sign.

If you ever decide to use Build-A-Sign, get an account and then wait for them to email you their discounts, and no, I don’t have stock in Build-a-Sign nor do I have relatives who work there.

Before showing you my signs, I want to point out that garden signs and décor are supposed to complement a garden not overpower it.  At this point in my current garden, I probably won’t have more signs made.  I have plenty.  I want the garden to be about the garden and not about signs.  My signs are pretty, weird, funny, thought-provoking or HONESTLY down-right kinda’ mean.

In about 2003, I purchased two enamel signs I thought were cute. One is the butterfly sign you see below.  The other “Trespassers will be Composted” I had made by a company that no longer exists. (I was lazy and copied the preview I had of the sign before I bought it below because it was already in my computer.)




A few years later, living in Austin, Texas I was all in favor of “Going Native.”  I also wanted to support the birds, butterflies, lizards, toads, etc. and I did.  I followed the National Wildlife Federation guidelines and created a wildlife habitat in my backyard, but for all of this plus $15.00, they wanted to send me a dinky paper sign.  Blah!

Their beautiful metal signs (two styles back then) were $180+ dollars.  I loved those signs, but couldn’t afford them.  So, instead of certifying my yard, I didn’t.  Certainly, the birds and insects didn’t know the difference. I crafted my own less expensive signs with the help of Build-A-Sign. Plus, I decided to have fun doing it.  The “Certified Wildlife” sign pointed to my neighbor Carol’s yard.  Carol, thankfully, saw the humor in it.


Here in the new yard, the Certified Wildlife sign actually points to a house outside the fence that was recently occupied by “interesting” people who entertained a few Ladies of the Evening from time to time.

Although I didn’t consult with the National Wildlife Federation, I think those folks qualified as certified wildlife or at least most of the other neighbors here thought so.  The “Wildlife People” have since moved. You might be surprised to know they were actually very NICE people, at least to me, and they truly tried to be neighborly by offering to share their lovely female companions with one of the other neighbors.


The “Think Outside (No Box Required)” sign is relatively new.  I needed something for that spot on the fence, and it just felt so right to place that sign in the spot it’s in.  The wording is not original to me.

I’m embarrassed to show you my Hairy Toe Gardener sign, but here it is.  I have it on the veggie fence. It’s not visible when you enter the yard.  I don’t actually want people to see it because without an explanation, it seems pretty weird even to me.  img_0181

In case you didn’t read this in my blog’s “About,” I named my blog the Hairy Toe Gardener after I read a children’s book with a similar title to my kids 30 years ago.  This particular book is no longer in print although several books like it have come out since.  The short version of this story is a little old lady digs in her garden, finds a hairy toe, and takes it inside her house.  Unlike other versions of this story, she does NOT make soup out of it. Who in their right mind would do that?!   Yuk!

The owner of the toe comes looking for it in the middle of the night, gets his toe, and leaves. Nothing is eaten, and the little old lady isn’t harmed. Anyway, I am always finding funky things in my soil when I dig so I thought this blog title was appropriate.

I hope you’ll still believe I’m normal after I show you the next garden sign. Alright, no, I’m not normal, but I’m also NOT a dirty old lady either.

In 2011, Austin held its twice-a-year Bulky Recycling Day.  I travelled daily on several neighborhood streets to get to work, and on one particular streets by the curb was this clay “thing.”  I know that’s a very detailed description, but there is no other way to describe it.  I was clueless as to what it was or had been.

I enjoy recycling stuff for the garden, and this “thing” intrigued me.  It sat there for an entire week when I finally decided to pick it up when nobody was looking of course.  (Other folks were probably smarter than me because it’s pretty obvious no one else wanted it.)

Surely, I could do SOMETHING with it, right?  Well, that “thing” sat under a tree in my yard for 4 months. Every time I saw it, it reminded me of something, but I resisted the urge to make it into what my imagination saw it as.  No.  There was no way I could make it into THAT because it just wasn’t appropriate.  After 4 months, I finally gave in.  I mean look at Michelangelo’s David. David is nude, and the statue is considered art for goodness sake.  Think of this garden fountain as merely a more modern and intimate close-up of David.


My single friends think the fountain is hilarious, but not everyone was on board.  Full disclosure:  My former boyfriend thought it was stupid.

When I finally put the fountain together with the sign, I hid it behind my potting shed.  When my house was on the market, I covered it with a tarp.  My former nosy neighbor across the street, as well as one of my devoutly religious friends who visited often, never suspected a thing.  However, I would always steer my friend clear of that particular area, just in case.   At this house, the fountain sits behind a tree. Sadly, Elly (dog) pulled out one of the two Juncus effusus f. spiralis so it’s bare on one side now.

Next, there’s the Julia sign.  Sigh.

I met Julia just one time in her home. It reeked of cat urine.  However, I’m not the kind of person who would say anything about that kind of thing most of the time.  I realize people love their pets, and sometimes cats spray. Spraying isn’t always easy to control.  There are times (very rarely of course) that my house smells like a dog, probably only 6 out of 7 days a week.

No last names of course. Julia was/is a strong woman.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong in saying that.  In fact, I think Julia would take that as a compliment.  In short, Julia and I were involved in an acrimonious business deal.  I’ve since moved on, but when that sign was made, I was still stewing in my juices.


Someday, long after I’m dead, someone will read the Julia sign—perhaps at a garage sale where it’s priced at 50 cents–and wonder.

The Karma here is that shortly after I put this sign up, I began volunteering at the humane society.  They placed me in the cat room cleaning 14 cat pens with litter boxes a day that ALL smelled like cat pee. Julia would be pleased, I think.

The moral of the story is:  Be nice to me, and your name won’t end up on a sign in my garden.

Finally, (thank goodness) here’s a pic. of my shovel sign.  It is hand-painted.  Yes, it’s religious, but that doesn’t mean I’m a religious zealot.  I’m not.


So let me end this post with a song that fits.  Have a great day!