WARNING ! Extra fees and frustration. AT&T

WARNING ! Extra fees and frustration.
There is a reason not to get Internet, TV and Cell Phone on the same provider.

We live in the country and had our Cell Phone and Internet on different providers.

We do not pick up our mail every day as our mail box is about 2-3 city blocks from our house. We usually pick up our mail on the way to town once a week. I was sick and did not pick up our mail for 10 days. We sorted the mail and somehow missed the AT&T bill. We did not know we didn”t pay for that month.

The next bill also sat in the mail box for a few extra days past a week due to health problems. Now we were way overdue on both last month and this month so we were billed for the two months. Again there was a delay getting the payment to the post office (we mail checks at the post office not in our mail box next to the highway). With checks for current bills in hand to take to the post office, we stop to see what was in the mailbox next to the highway.

AT&T sent a notice that we were going to be suspended! Yipes. We went immediately to the AT&T office downtown. My daughter, Catherine explained the delays in payment so the billing office would know we were sending in the payment, she was told just mail it in so we did. The next thing we knew we were suspended and to reconnect would cost $40.

I am an elder, I am on oxygen therapy, and I live in a rural area. When my daughter goes to work, I will be unable to call for help if I have an emergency. We were glad we still had Internet and tried to contact someone at AT&T to explain that we were mailing payment for two months. The attempt was frustrating as I was sent from one recorded message to another and never reached a person. I asked my daughter, Catherine to go by the AT&T office downtown on her way to work and try to get this cleared up.

I know some people would say we could pay online, but some companies charge up to $5.00 for each payment to pay online. That is why we still pay with checks.

We are very glad our cell phone and internet connection are on different services so we are not completely cut off from any communication with the outside world if there is a problem with one service.

Posted in The Purple Gate Herb Farm | Leave a comment

Weather or Not–what to do about the weather

A few years ago we lived where tornados visited frequently. We decided to have a storm shelter built.


The plan was to stock it with survival foods and other necessities so all we had to do was run and sit the storm out. Nice try.

Here were the problems. We lived in a very humid area, this included the ground below the surface. Concrete wicks water so the interior of the shelter always felt moist. The food we put in the shelter was suppose to be “rotated” with groceries so it did not get stale. The fact was we often forgot to rotate the food for extended periods of time as we were so busy. When we thought to rotate-we found the food was spoiled, often mold covered.

The plan was changed. We would run to the shelter with each of us grabbing food to take with us. We were never tested this plan so I don’t know how this would work. We sold the property and moved on.

Next we moved to a place where forest fires and floods were the problem. We lived in a very wooded property. The forest fires were a serious threat. They did not give us any option except to evacuate and hope we would have a home when it was over. This happened twice and threatened us a couple of other times.


Next: We were told that a hurricane was headed for Texas and was going to impact us with floods and high winds. We live on high ground so we did not worry about the flood but the high winds worried us. The winds could bring down trees surrounding our home.

Also we were told that  maybe we would be without electricity or access to any roads out of our area and this could last for 4-5 days. Again we decided to stock food. We went shopping for “famine food”. (this is what we called our camping supplies in years past).

We went up and down the grocery aisles. It had been years since I stocked up on camping foods. I picked up some canned foods and dried dinner mixes. We went home feeling safe. When the storm began we opened some of the canned meats and could not believe these were considered edible. We fed most of them to the dog.

Some of our famine food combined with food we had on hand carried us through the 4-5 day emergency, but without the canned meat and vegetables that were laced with salt and preservatives that we fed to the dog.

Now I am rethinking our Famine Food plan. For meat and eggs we will each grab two  chickens. We will then have the perfect solution.


Live chickens do not need refrigeration. They feed themselves, they don’t take up a lot of room. If they are provided with a little food, they will stay close to us.


Chickens provide a lot of options for food. Chickens lay nutritious eggs for breakfasts, egg salad sandwiches, omelets, etc.….

When they stop laying, although probably tough old birds, we can have stew and chili. Next emergency, I’ll let you know if this plan works.

Posted in Chickens, Dangerous Country living, Observations | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Weather or Not–what to do about the weather

We have become officially retro!

Catherine Mills

· August 21, 2016 ·

Yes, we here at the Purple Gate Herb Farm are about back to nature, sustainable agriculture, alternative building, solar, rainwater collection, and now we have officially entered the previous century.

We quit satellite TV a while back, due to having to pay outrageously for the 3 channels we watched, and the endlessly repeating, echoing news and Law & Order shows. We have been trying to use the internet to fill the void, but there is no equivalent to such things as local weather on TV. We looked into Netflix but we are not into that level of entertainment. Plus it costs, which is another reason we quit satellite TV. Mom has been casting about for alternatives.

She finally hit on an oldie but goody — broadcast television. You buy an antenna once and get free TV thereafter. Granted you get maybe 3 PBS channels and 4 KVUE channels but they often are playing different content, so that’s OK, we don’t watch a lot of TV anyway. But sometimes there is no substitute for sitting back, suppressing disbelief and vegetating in front of the tube.

We live in hilly terrain surrounded by lots of trees (The Lost Pines), and we are 45 miles from large metropolitan areas where broadcast TV works best. We checked it out, and found out that your best bet is to get an antenna that is amplified (to help with hills and trees) and rated for a little above the distance stated on the box. We were told that Leaf antennas and Clear TV antennas are best. We jumped in with one foot, and bought a small antenna from Walmart. Long and short, it didn’t work so we returned it.

We went and asked around a bit more, and bought a digital amplified Leaf antenna rated for 60 miles for the one time cost of $60. We get clear reception and several channels. Of course we set it up just prior to a rainstorm so it pixelated somewhat and blanked other times, and the several channels are repeats. Last but not least, one of the first shows we watched on this new free service was, you guessed it, a Law and Order marathon. At least we don’t have to pay satellite TV prices to watch it.

(from MOM) Catherine is right, we have gone “back to the future” in every way and we are joined by many others who grow food, conserve energy and recycle in sustainable living. All these things were a way of life before the “just throw it away and buy more” culture took over. Imagine . . . here is How-to do what we forgot and didn’t know was still available. The air contains TV programming that we could capture just like we did with a “rabbit ear” antenna over 50 years ago! We get local weather on 3 local channels, and the 4 PBS channels sometimes have programs like NOVA, Nature and other worthwhile documentaries. All free after we paid for the antenna! (we had an old TV already)

Posted in Bastrop County Texas, Central Texas, History repeating, How-to, Observations | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Suggestions For My Extreme Hair Cut

I have always relied on sympathy from my nearest and dearest relatives. When I donates a 12 inch pony tail to “Wigs for Kids”, I never thought what I would be left with hair cut to 1nch all over my head. When I realized what the beauty shop lady was doing, it was too late. I said, “you are giving me a man/boy haircut!”. She answered, “No, just comb this toward you face and it will be a “Girl-cut”. I stared in disbelief in the mirror as she finished the cutting. I called my daughter and told her of my shock in near tears.



My daughter said, “It will grow out”. That did not seem supportive enough to me.

I said, “what should I do in the meantime?” She said you could hide in a lot of ways. She even sent me a package in the mail with possibilities






I studied my hair, it would be a while before it was even this long. So I could do something like this.



I examined the “Care Package” my sympatric daughter sent to me. So…I tried these.


I ended by experiments with these suggestions my  daughter sent me.:


Thanks, Ginger, your help is appreciated.




















Posted in Hard Lessons, Observations, Something new...to me, The constant is change | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bastrop Sustainable Meetup at the Comfort Cafe

Sorry, I am so late on reporting this most interesting Meetup.  Our members were treated to a most wonderful, interesting Café, and Gardens that support nourishment for Body and Soul. Comfort Café in Smithville relies on good food and good hearts to help sustain a rehabilitation center.


They purchase fresh ingredients from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an organic farm in Austin as well as providing eggs, vegetables and herbs from their own backyard gardens.

Our outdoor tour showed us the chickens, gardens and equipment shed every gardener needs.


There are shady outdoor areas to sit and a wonderful café to top off our visit.


The café has no price list as they are a “Pay What You Can” café. The Comfort Café offers free meals in exchange for an hour of labor. There’s plenty to do. There are tables to bus, a small herb garden to tend and the enclosed dog-friendly patio to sweep.

Menus change quarterly; summer, fall and winter offerings include a wild berry salad, shepherd’s pie and chili with cornbread waffles. Eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine and an omelet with artichoke hearts tucked inside are on the menu year-round, as are burgers and pizza. One of Lopez’s favorite menus, made for special occasions—when a musical group has come to entertain, say—is grilled salmon with peach-mango salsa and jasmine rice pilaf.

Comfort Cafe (

for more information see:

Texas Country Reporter)



Posted in Bastrop County Texas, Central Texas, Local Business, Out and About Texas, Smithville Texas, Support Local Business | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Bastrop Sustainable Meetup at the Comfort Cafe

Shock and Awe Hair Style

A few months ago, my hair was getting too long and needed cutting. My Daughter, Catherine who has very thick hair also wanted a hair cut. With summer well on it’s way, we thought short hair might be cooler.

Capture01We didn’t think either one of us would miraculously become glamorous, just more comfortable.

We remembered that  Catherine’s older sister had donated hair to help kids. She told us just to go to the website for instructions.


I went to their website. We decided to measure each of our lengths to see if it either of our hair lengths met the criteria for “Wigs for Kids”.  Well, neither of us used chemicals to treat our hair or colored our hair. We didn’t weave our hair into “dreadlocks”. Seemed like we were ok if we each had 12 inches to cut.

So I looked for a nearby hair salon that was recommended by “Wigs for Kids.” We live in  South-central Texas and the nearest one is listed in North Texas. Texas is a BIG state. We printed out the information from the site and went to Great Clips in Bastrop TX and asked if the hair stylists know how to do this. They said yes and measured both Catherine and my hair. We both qualified with 12 inches to share!!!! Here is my starting length.


Catherine’s hair  was fuller and longer than mine.


We each had a different hair dresser. Mine said she would leave enough hair, she would cut mine in a “pixie”. I did not know what that meant (I am 74 and rarely go to have a hair cut). I certainly did not know there was a thing called a SHORT PIXIE.


When I left the hair salon I looked like this:


Most of the time now I look like a candidate for a spiked hair style. I do not think I looked younger as promised. I look like an old gal  trying to relate to my younger relatives.

OR I looked like those women who collaborated with the enemy in WWII.


Either way I am SHORN.

Catherine had longer hair so she did not get the short pixie look.



from Catherine to me (her hair was longer to start with so she did not have the shock and awe I felt)

The bright side is:

It is out of your face.

It is wash and wear.

When it grows out it will look really nice with the layering that it has.

It will take a long time to get into your eyes as it grows out.

And the best part is — It Helps Kids!!!

Our hair donations are in the mail.


If you are interested or know someone who would like to know how to help:

Wigs for Kids  |  Address: 24231 Center Ridge Rd. | Westlake OH, 44145

Phone: 440.333.4433


Posted in Aging, Observations, Something new...to me, Surprise, The constant is change | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Shock and Awe Hair Style

Tlingit Culture Revival


I was born in 1942 in the Territory of Alaska. (Alaska did not gain statehood until 1959)

When I was 10 years old, I asked my Tlingit Grandmother to teach me her language. She said,

“Why? Who will you talk to? When I die, when your Mom dies, there will be no one to talk to. No one else is learning.” I could not make her believe I was serious.

It seemed she was right.  Among many kids I knew in Juneau that did not live in the Douglas or Juneau Indian Villages few were learning any Tlingit language except a few words.

My family lived among white people and only spoke English. We heard our Mother, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles speak Tlingit with each other and with Tlingit friends, but they did not want me to learn Tlingit because English would help me in life.

So I grew up without much culture. I learned about Tlingit culture from  other Tlingit children I was friends with at school. Then later when my Mother took my brothers and I to Hawk Inlet, a salmon cannery for the summer I spent more time with Tlingit children and adults.

We only had electricity for 3 hours in the evening, so around 9 PM if the older people didn’t want to go to bed yet, they gathered around a large campfire and sometimes told old traditional stories. Here I was captivated. While other children ran around the circle of adults around the fire, I stayed close to my Mom because I knew the old stories might be told. So in this way I picked up pieces of Tlingit culture.

I married a soldier stationed in Alaska whose home was in Texas. I joined him when he was discharged from the Air Force.  I was a young teenager. So I spend the next decades going to school, raising children and working I began to think our Tlingit culture was disappearing just as my Grandmother predicted the language would disappear with the death of the older generation.

My husband was an student archeologist and we spent 8 summers working on various sites around Texas. I met and mingled with many people who were interested and valued Indian cultures. I read everything I could find about the Tlingit culture which was very little until the land settlement that created the Sealaska Corporation and Heritage Foundation. A lot of cultural material has been created since 1979 and I absorbed it all.

My respect for my Tlingit heritage grew as I learned what a beautiful, complex and vital the traditional culture was and I was excited to continue to learn about the revitalization of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian language and culture. Sealaska Heritage Foundation and other groups began publishing studies and preservation efforts of the culture. Tlingit language, traditions, celebration and dances were preserved and taught to the young generation!



With a growing family and work commitment, I only got to visit Alaska a few short times. It was expensive to travel from Texas to Alaska. In the 1980’s. I got publications that informed me of the wonderful energy that was blooming in the Tlingit culture.



Among the memorable Sealaska Heritage publications was:

Dauenhauer, Nora and Dauenhauer, Richard. “Because We Cherish You…” Juneau: Sealaska Heritage Foundation Press, 1981.
17735 words (both in Tlingit and English translations)

This document is priceless to me. It records the Elders conference in Sitka.

I treasure this document as it has given me a depth of appreciation for those Tlingits who preserved so much for so long during the time of suppression of our culture. Here are some of the things I love. If this seems fragmented remember this is a translation of the original Tlingit. At first there was sorrow, then hope…

George Davis
    Because this time
the cover has fallen away
from our culture, our Tlingit people
how they used to do things…

Even now our grip
is weary from holding on to it
those of us who are Tlingit.
It is deep to where most of it has sunk from our grip.
We are still clutching only the tip…

our grip has wearied
on our Tlingit culture that we anchored with a pole.

when it began to fade
from sight
we heard faintly
what our ancestors used to say
It is as if
beneath a pole
behind a pole
we were looking for its resting place…
Charlie Joseph

“People of honor they strand off in many directions
their lifeline…Their lives point
in many directions.

I will now Paraphrase words of many who spoke and the way the stories were woven and recalled. This is a small sampling to give you an idea of the contents of this publication:

…Those that left me behind, now it’s as if I will lead them out, this is how it seems to me.  …These fathers of mine who were enchanted by the coho spirit.  I don’t want to have it lie unattended.  There are too many people’s life lines leading into it, this Sitka.
…it was my grandfather who was enchanted, enchanted into the wolf spirit.  Even as he fasted and was chanting to prepare for them, they ran out on a ridge.  When the she wolf began to separate from her pup, he would begin howling after them the small one.  …We have gathered here for this wolf spirit dance is so it will not turn bad for them,  be are cautious when the shaman spirits are used….when they use this wolf spirit song to dance, the wolf spirit is lapping it up form among them.  He is lapping up their trouble from among them
…People would stand at the back of the house when the spirit songs were sung…That’s a spirit song.  They would stand up and hold their hands up to ward the shaman spirit off with the heel of their hand.

As if it is my anchor is how I think of it
my maternal uncles
that they left these behind in my care.
The Shark Tunic
is in my hand
Their ermine headdress is also in my hands.
All of you who came out here
I am bracing you
that it not turn bad
that your words
not float aimless in the air.

The Tlingit culture is revitalized and can be seen today as a important element in Tlingit lives.


Posted in Alaska, Memories, Observations | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Want to be Green? How?


I searched for answers and get all these possibilities. I am solution oriented and want to know how to GO GREEN.


How do I sort information from all these sources? As you begin to study these topics you begin to see basic things are contained in all of them. So, relax and enjoy reading about any or all of these methods.









Restoration Agriculture








Organic gardening has been around for a long time and no matter what you call your system, they all have versions of the following methods:

Double Digging to loosen soil deeply under the planting area

Adding compost to clay or sandy soils as this balances either type in different ways.

Recommends soil testing to learn what amendments will maximize your plants growth and health.

Site selection with drainage, sun hours and healthy soil.

Selection of plants likely do well in your location.

Spacing of planting to insure the required sunlight hours required for fruit or vegetable flowers to form.

After you read or study any or all of these topics, pick the one or even parts of one that seems to suit you and GO GREEN.




Posted in Biodiversity, How-to, Observations, Sustainable living, Urban Farming | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Simply Making Sauerkraut at Home

Catherine and I love Rueben sandwiches.

Reuben Sandwich

MMMM…rye bread, sauce (we use Thousand Island Dressing), slices of melted Swiss cheese and a pile of thin-sliced corned beef-topped with a generous mass of sauerkraut. 

We also knew the sauerkraut had beneficial microbes if the sauerkraut was raw. We found some raw at the grocery store, but the flavor was weak. We decided to find out how to make it.

We reviewed a lot of videos and began to think we did not want to spend a lot of money on airlocks, special containers and cultures. Surely there was a simpler, more direct way with mason jars we already had. We kept looking and found just what we were looking for. It required the following:

a  Simple recipe
a Head of cabbage
sea salt
wide mouth mason jar
plastic baggy

We include the video url at the end of this commentary so you can see how we did this and try it yourself. Let us know how it comes out for you.

We went to the grocery store and looked for cabbage in the fresh veggie section. It is June, but I thought there would be no problem finding a head of cabbage. There were only very small green heads that looked like they were distressed.

Looking around more, we found some larger healthier looking purple cabbage heads. We wondered if they would do the job and since our selection was limited (maybe into the autumn) and we were ready to try our hand at this new kitchen adventure— So we bought two heads.

2 small purple cabbages


At home we began cutting one of the heads of  cabbage in preparation for slicing them very thin with a knife. Purple cabbages are beautiful! I had to pause and admire the slices as we continued.

MHM CabbageCollage

The simple, direct directions were to

 shred 2 pounds of cabbage (we did this with a knife because we like the way it looked instead of using a food processor) Two small heads made 3 quart mason jars full.

sliced purple cabbage

Mix in 1-1/2 tablespoon of sea salt

Massage for approximately  10 minutes  (it was amazing how much water was produced with so little salt)

Pack it in the mason jars and press down to remove as much air as you can.  We pressed down with a small drinking glass.

Leave about 1 inch from the top of the jar, then place a plastic bag with water on top of the cabbage.

mason jar and water bag seal

This picture from the video shows how to place the plastic water bag. This setup is a good air lock. It pushes the cabbage down with its water weight and keeps air out while letting gases escape.  Place this on the counter for 3-10 days.

We had some sauerkraut left from the grocery store and wondered if we added a Tablespoon  or so to one of our jars full of cabbage–  would it add a good culture?

Heck, we were experimenting weren’t we?


After about a 7 days we lifted the plastic bags in the jar with the added culture and the one without any addition and checked for any problems.  They both smelled good and had no signs of mold of spoilage.

We tasted both. SURPRISE! they were good.  A little sharp but maybe that would age out. The jar with the aged culture from the grocery store was milder and we thought it must be because it had caraway seeds in it. Our jar with just salt was sharper tasting.

We checked, added water and pressed out any air and replaced the plastic water bags. We intend to leave them with the plastic water bags until we plan to use the sauerkraut. The plastic water bags seem to seal them from the air and let the gas out.

Place them in the frig and they will be useable up to 3-10 months (depending on who you believe.)

Here is the video we followed to make our experiment:

Small Batch DIY Home Made Sauerkraut 


Posted in Cooking Notes, Fermented Veggies, Something new...to me | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Which Medicinal Plant?

How do we know we are all talking about the same plant? Early records of observers of Native American use of plants for healing and other practices was done by people who were not steeped in technical learning. They appreciated what they observed and wanted to preserve anything they thought important or interesting. They recorded what the Indians hunted with, what they ate and how they observed them using plants in various ways. These early observers used everyday language inspired from nature and left reflections on the things they were learning about.  We love to read these records because they tell interesting things in a way that can be understood.



Nature lovers, the first casual observers still exist and are enjoyed by other nature lovers.


Early records often pointed another class of nature students in directions to investigate.  These people invented instruments to measure and test new methods of study. They looked at things through microscopes and invented new language words to describe more specifically construction, relationships and how things worked.


These studies of nature were dry and tedious with attention to minute detail. The writings created began to record all the observation in the precise languages of botany and chemistry.


It is not the work that attracts a lot of interest by the general public. These tests and experiments were devised to help us grasp the fundamental principles of life.

However when something goes wrong and our bodies are attacked by disease, the laboratory scientist is sought for solutions. Laboratory students have learned that the methods of study about cause and effect in nature is complex, so subjects have to be broken down into smaller parts and studied individually. Medicinal Botany is an example.


It was observed that plant products can be made to support and heal us, our plants began to be studied for medicinal qualities observed by early nature writers. A problem arises when we realize names we use to designate what we are studying are not always the same words used in different countries or even in different parts of the countries. Languages and the time things were observed also make it difficult to identify the specific plant we are attempting to discuss.


Plants have Latin names due to the genus and species system of naming plants developed by famed Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus. His system is used and expanded upon to this day. Now it is possible for people speaking different languages or studying text written at different times to know they are talking or writing about the same plant.

Continue reading nature lovers who write observations but when wanting explicit information about particular medical plants, learn Latin names to be sure.

Posted in Herb Medicine, Herbal History, Observations | Tagged , , | 1 Comment