What Becomes of Color?


Here in central Texas, a foggy morning often signifies that summer is truly over. On an early walk with Travis I feel like anything could emerge from that mist: a cow, a giraffe, a kangaroo. One morning it was a coyote, trotting up the middle of the street right toward us. I had Travis sit and put on his leash, and spoke a firm Good morning! to the coyote, who trotted in a wide curve around us and headed back to the greenbelt.

All through November colors change. Our Fall colors run to bronze and gold out in the wild, but in the neighborhoods there is quite a spectrum.




And even a tiny oak tree that sprung up in a pot of lavender brings color to the greenhouse.


I managed to get most of the plants I wanted to save into the greenhouse in a timely manner this year. Being semi-retired helps.


Sure enough, in typical fashion we had one freeze in November; it was enough to frost all the grasses but didn’t qualify as a real killer, which is nice. It’s enough to lose forty degrees in one day, without slaughtering every plant that grows.


On one recent chilly day our boy Marco Polo had a suspicious look about him. Sure enough, the panther-like enemy of all cold-blooded creatures had discovered a lizard – who, happily enough, was too cold to flee when I picked him up and relocated him to the greenhouse.


A minor freeze makes the birdbath beautiful.


Day by day more and more colors are on the ground. I don’t even have to do any arranging to make them beautiful; they’re like “found poems,” those pieces people write made up of words and phrases discovered out in the world on random slips of paper.


As always at this time of year, there is a certain amount of work to do in the house. Not saying I’m stubborn, but I’m clinging for dear life to the notion that we’ll sell this house relatively soon and get out of Austin. So I had a visit with my beloved real estate woman, who sent her “home stager” over to compile a list of suggestions.

I have to say I was not impressed. She wanted the main open part of the interior all painted in the lovely cement gray we already have on numerous walls. Good by, green kitchen. Hello, home interior exactly like every other home interior on the MLS. Despite the fact that I told her numerous times I know a little about house staging, she paraded through the house directing, Yeah, get rid of this. Yeah, this goes. Yeah, out, until I felt like complete trash. Like all house stagers, she asked, Are you going to be living here? rather as if I were something dark and fuzzy growing in the shower. Um, yeah, my goal is no mortgage, not two mortgages.

Last bit of the rant, I promise: despite having been told numerous times that I was not in a position to spend a bunch of $$$ on this project, she strongly recommended a new couch, new chairs, two new area rugs, and of course the dreaded bistro set.

But that means I will have three eating areas within sight of each other, I said, pointing out the bar where everyone always eats and the dining area with its beautiful table.

No one has a formal dining room any more, she announced. I looked at the space behind the pony wall where the big table resides and thought to myself, Obviously this woman has never seen a formal dining room.

Last week I texted my realtor that there would be no bistro set and anyone stupid enough to buy my house based on a bistro set or lack thereof is too stupid to deserve my house. I have my limits.

I did paint the guest bathroom in the stager’s amazingly creative color scheme, however.



Here it is mid-transition, and even I’ll admit the gray is an improvement over the last blotch of greenish-brownish paint still remaining from the previous owners. And it was no great sacrifice to whiten those stupid oak cabinets. (Though my advisor strongly recommended white kitchen cabinets too, which I will only do at the last possible moment because WHITE KITCHEN CABINETS??)

I may be semi-retired, but that doesn’t mean I’ve taken up cleaning the kitchen as a hobby. Keeping up with white countertops is entertaining enough.

So then, sweetly  compliant home stager that I am, I painted the white guest room the same color as the front room (the guest bathroom sits between them so I was thinking some unity would be nice).



The color in Benjamin Moore’s “Jicama,” and it is a mild yellow that changes from cream to butter colored throughout the day. Very warm and cozy.

Color. I need to get it somewhere.

This year I remembered to put the Christmas cactuses out for some chilly nights, and what do you think? Blossoms for Christmas! Unheard of.



These are all on the same plant, by the by, which is perched high up on a shelf by the back door. I would love to have it down lower where I could have a 360-degree view of all the flowers, but Marco Polo and Lucy Sparkletoes would make quick work of it, I fear. Lucy is especially prone to misbehavior.

While Marco asks very sweetly for what he wants, strolling up to tap you on your shoulder or cheek with a cottony paw, Lucy misbehaves specifically to be let outside. She knows that after just so many corrections about the Claws + Couch equation, I will put her outside if there is even a sliver of daylight left.


Looks can be deceiving: she is a very bad kitty. Just the way I like ’em.

Just as color is about to disappear outdoors, many families around here add some back in. You know what I’m talking about.





I’m all for having a cheery waving snow person out there all year round, myself. Once these million spots of color are gone for another year, our landscape will be dull indeed.


Where does color go? In psychology world we naturally associate color with mood; I don’t think I need to go into much detail about that.

I think I’ll just hope for a 2019 that brings some brightness back to our landscapes – inside and out.






4 thoughts on “What Becomes of Color?

  1. Pat Fenter Epstein says:

    No one has a formal dining room any more? Whut? My kids just bought a lovely “dream home” in Westlake that houses one of the most majestic dining rooms I’ve ever seen. That gal needs to get out more! Where are you moving?

  2. We did get some nice color in our gardens this year. I am smiling at your tiny oak tree in a pot. I have lots of these growing in my wild areas and only notice them when they change color.
    Now to the subject of house stagers. I have never used one and have always sold my houses in a timely manner. I know I would not comply with anything they said. I know their number one would be to clear everything from the kitchen counters and quite frankly I like a kitchen that shows that someone cooks. It is character. Just like the outdoors. Now there’s a place where they might have a lot to say but then it wouldn’t be their domain.

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