Friday 5 | 11/19/2021


It’s been a bit since I’ve done one of these, so let’s dive into five things I’ve been loving lately!

+Lesson 6. Be wary of paramilitaries – via Timothy Snyder’s newsletter – I’ve listened to Mr. Snyder on a few podcast episodes, mostly to talk about his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, which is on my ever growing stack of books to read, but I recently found out he has a newsletter so I subscribed. The first one to come through was this audio clip about paramilitaries and it is extremely prescient to today’s times.

+City Cast Houston – This is a podcast and newsletter hosted by Lisa Gray, a Houston journalist whom I follow over on Twitter. The podcast began just this week but the newsletter has been going for several weeks now and I love the digestible emails about the goings on inside the greater Houston area. The podcasts are also digestible so far, sticking to quick commentary and conversations and a round of news. Highly recommend for the Houston region folks!

+ The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

I randomly watched this movie earlier this week and I loved it! I was familiar with Louis Wain’s cat art but didn’t realize who he was or the artist behind the drawings. A bit of a sad story all around but worth the watch. Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy do an excellent job. Highly recommend if you need something to watch over the holidays.

+Writing—I am doing Nanowrimo! I’m at about 32K words so far and am kinda at a stuck point. The big thing with Nanowrimo is you are just supposed to write, no matter how messy it is, and edit and research later. So, my problem is I’m at a point I need to research so I’m thinking of skipping ahead a bit in my writing and hoping that will do the trick. I’ve only attempted one other Nano, which I realized later when I logged into my dusty account. It was 2011 and I was working on my Florida Trail book. Apparently I made about 26K words then. And I could kick myself because I was trying to clean up and start the new Nano and I accidentally deleted that entry so…anyway. I don’t usually do Nano’s because they are in November and we always camp at Thanksgiving…this year I’m just taking my laptop along and planning to write at the campsites! Maybe I’ll have a decent book at the end of this…which will need major editing! haha!

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Amping myself up to start editing photos once again and I poked around some Florida photos I had taken off of a hard drive sometime last year and decided to edit a few. I loved this little mushroom view, which I believe was at Myakka River State Park.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Snapshots from Goose Island State Park


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Our trip to Goose Island State Park in early October was lovely, though the mosquitoes and the heat were still ramped up onto “high”. But we made do and enjoyed what we could. The Goose Island Oak still stands tall, though quite weathered and who knows how many more decades (or centuries) it still has left in it.

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Wineflower, Boerhavia diffusa

As is my usual these days, I am always on the prowl for plants and interesting fauna to add to my iNaturalist sightings. This interesting little plant I only took a few quick pictures of because I thought it was nothing of particular interest but if it is what I think it is, it is quite rare and uncommon in Texas. It’s typical range is mostly Florida and a few areas in Alabama and Georgia. There’s a sister plant that is fairly common here in Texas, scarlet spiderling, B. coccinea but this particular plant was not trailing like it does and it did not have the inflorescence that plant does. If I had known I should have looked more carefully, I would have taken better photos.

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Thinstripe Hermit Crab, Clibanarius vittatus

Every time I see a hermit crab I think back to when we would buy hermit crabs from the gifts shops in Port Aransas and bring them home to live in their little plastic cages for a few months. There’s a hermit crab graveyard on the side of my parents house. I know my mom would find their shells every now and then when she would go to put in plants!

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Atlantic Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus

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I wish I had snapped this with my camera because I might have been able to get the dragonfly a bit better but I do love the light here, which is why I had stopped to watch the egret to begin with. I did not stop long—mosquitoes!

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Perfect little elf toadstool homes!

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Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus

The best place to find interesting insects is along the bathrooms in the campground at night. The lights attract the insects and this longhorn beetle was unfortunately trying to cross the high-trafficked concrete. I picked it up and moved it over to an oak tree, though it took some coaxing because it was not particularly interested in leaving my hand!

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Harnessed Tiger Moth, Apantesis phalerata

Chris set up the mothing equipment for this trip which turned out to be a good endeavor, though again, mosquitoes. I’ve always loved these tiger moths but had never seen on in person! A very lucky find!

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Four-spotted Mantidfly, Dicromantispa interrupta

Now, this was a very interesting insect to see and one neither Chris or I had encountered before, though this particular species is pretty common in Texas and somewhat widespread throughout the eastern/southern half of the US. While they look like mantids they are actually more closely related to lacewings and owlflies!

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We had a stop over in Rockport for lunch and a playground for Forest. Usually there’s a playground at state parks but Goose Island didn’t have one and he really wanted to play so we got to see some parts of Rockport we don’t typically see.

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Aransas NWR was quiet this time around, compared to our New Years Day visit earlier this year.

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Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus difformis

This was a little bit of a delight along the scenic drive there. I’d hopped out to take photos of some water lilies and as I was walking over I thought I saw something blowing down the road. After taking my photo I looked closer at what was blowing and found a dung beetle pushing its treasure off the road. There was a second beetle pushing another piece of dung too! Beautiful beetles!

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And not much further away we found this chonk of a cottonmouth sunning on the road.

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Tropical Royalblue Waterlily, Nymphaea elegans

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A whistling duck with her ducklings, surveying where to go into the pond.

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Cowpen Daisy, Verbesina encelioides

This verbesina isn’t nearly as common in our part of Texas so I’m not as familiar with it as I am its cousin frostweed, but cowpen daisy is a significant nectar plant for the monarchs along their I-35 flyway back towards Mexico. Lovely, cheerful things!

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Phaon Crescent, Phyciodes phaon

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Limewater Brookweed, Samolus ebracteatus

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Snapdragon Vine, Maurandya antirrhiniflora

I wasn’t expecting to see this as I usually see in the Hill Country but it was vining itself on some bushes at the far end of the bayside camping area near the bird overlook.

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This handsome fella took a rest while his family members meandered around the picnic area. We were in the truck and he wasn’t intent on moving so I was able to get several decent photos with my camera. Very handsome—hope he doesn’t stray outside the park and get shot!

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Siam Weed, Chromolaena odorata

I love coastal visits and I will be thrilled one day when Galveston Island State Park opens its beachside camping once again—I think it’s been closed for almost four years now—but the mosquitoes are a force to be reckoned with. A lot is packed into Goose Island State Park—I only wish they’d protected more of the peninsula before it was built with homes and condos.

At last, the garden beds are done!


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Well, it took a good six or so weeks of us putting our heads down on the weekend and just getting the work done, but the concrete beds are all poured! We finished the last one on Saturday afternoon and my back rejoices! The next steps will be to fill the remaining beds with soil, put some mulch down, and eventually get the perimeter beds done. Chris has figured out a way to make that work, I think, by creating smaller concrete sections and piecing them together. I’m just glad we can finally grow something out there once again! I’m really looking forward to a stellar tomato season! The beds are several inches higher than the previous beds so I’m hoping that will alleviate some of the issues when we have standing water out there. Of course it won’t matter if we get a massive flood like May 2016 again with 3′ of water covering everything, but this should greatly reduce the issues we were having previously. Onward to more gardening!

October Wanderings at Lake Creek Preserve


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A few weeks ago we escaped the constant weekend work that has been pouring concrete raised beds and went for an early morning hike at Lake Creek Preserve. Chris and I had visited by ourselves in July while Forest was visiting grandparents and the mosquitoes were terrible then. I guess I didn’t end up writing about it here but you can read a post from Dec 2020 to see this park in a different season.

Autumn has brought out the fungi once again and I got a kick out of this fungi upon fungi situation with the mold growing on the mushroom.

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There used to be a sign marking this champion hawthorn but it is no longer there. However, there is a game cam watching the tree about 12′ up in an adjacent tree–be sure to wave!

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Prostrate blue violet, Viola walteri, which is almost about as far west as the sightings in Texas occur. There are a couple further west up in Sam Houston NF. It turns out that I had actually seen it here a few years ago on our first visit but didn’t realize it until I started looking at my old entries on iNaturalist. There are only a smattering of occurrences in Texas with most of the locations occurring in the mid to upper south, Louisiana over to Virginia. I’ll have to go back in the spring to catch it in bloom.

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Like I said, the mushrooms were going gangbusters!

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My new goal on iNaturalist is to start documenting leaf miner, saw fly, and other insect markings on leaves. I’ve been able to narrow down some with a google search but it has been slow going in getting some identified. There are always gaps in documentation on there and this is an area I saw that needed more!

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This little plant stumped me for a good while. On the surface when you first look, it seems like a spleenwort fern. Of course once you actually refocus and look at it you realize, nope, not a fern. I think it is actually a seedling water locust. There are several mature trees nearby and well, it is the only thing that made sense!

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Forest wanted to play with various phone filters, so we had a bit of fun at a wetland overlook!

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Forest can’t resist a rocky shoreline to play in!

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This was a new one for me but one I’d seen when identifying plants over on iNaturalist, False Mint, Dicliptera brachiata.

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There are several great specimens of wooly Dutchman’s pipevine, Aristolochia tomentosa at this park and I’m hoping one of these days we eventually catch it in flower.

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This oak bracket, Pseudoinonotus dryadeus, was a stunner!

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It absorbed and just “ate” the leaves that fell into it as it grew. I tried to pry them out—they were stuck in like super glue!

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A long gone box turtle…

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We got off trail briefly to walk through a dry wetland for a few minutes, where we found that box turtle shell. I’d love to explore more of this property off trail—I think it has some interesting delights waiting to be found!

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Unfortunately a non-delight found was a balloon. *sigh* I watched several balloons fly loose while driving home over the weekend from running an errand and wondered what natural area they would wind up in. Balloons are fun for kids—Forest loves them–but we’ve got to stop using them outside.

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And lastly, the Bear’s Foot, Smallanthus uvedalia, the only one I’ve seen in the wild. They aren’t super common in Texas, though there are more sightings of them than the prostrate blue violet. They are much more abundant in the eastern half of the US. I knew to keep my eye out because I’d first seen it last summer and there it was, looking a bit ragged but hanging tight!

All in all a great bit of time spent outdoors. The garden beds are almost done. We have one more to pour and then it will be time to fill the remaining ones with soil and get new mulch in place. I’m ready for the break!

One More Step Forward


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Yesterday, Forest and I got up well before dawn to drive over to Texas Children’s in the Woodlands to get his first Covid-19 vaccination! What a monumental feeling to know we are finally here! I know the 0-4 year old parents are also quite antsy and I hope it is approved for them soon, too.

The day the FDA approved it I was able to find an appointment for the 10th at Texas Children’s in downtown Houston. I’d gotten the tip from a friend who’d already made appointments for her kids, which were for today. Then on Tuesday evening this week, after the CDC approved it, Chris was on the Texas Children’s website and saw appointments released for this week. He managed to snag the 7:10 am one—they were going fast, just as the ones I tried to get last Friday were going. You would click on a time and it would come back to say it was unavailable. And then you would reload and five time slots had been erased. So, early morning it was!

Forest wasn’t thrilled and cried, which is not unusual as he did not like the flu shot he received in September either. But the staff at the hospital were already prepared with a movie on in the waiting area a choice of a free stuffed animal or a bag of goodies. He chose a dinosaur stuffy which turned out to be a squeaky dog toy donated from PetSmart! When he saw it after getting into the car when I picked him up from school later that day he named it SeFee. Don’t ask! I have no idea what it is named after.

I dropped him off at school after the shot, after we stopped for donuts and Chick-Fil-A, and when I picked him up he was fine. No reactions so far. Just a sore arm for a bit. I’m hoping that’s the same for the second shot here in three weeks!

So glad we are moving forward with this at least. I hope this pandemic ends sooner than later but unfortunately I think we’ll be balancing various strains of this for another year or two. At least we’ve made it to this step, finally!

October 2021 Rewind


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October felt long, didn’t it? Maybe it was just me, but the month was hectic and slow at the same time. Some weeks it felt as if we were go-go-go and other weeks crawled. Halloween has come and gone and Forest was a Minecraft player—seen here without his sword and hat! This was a last minute change the week before from wanting to go as a dinosaur as he did two years ago, using the same parts of the costume.

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My orchids are work are starting to thrive once again. After dealing with sub-zero temperatures for multiple days back in February, I managed to only lose one! One or two others looked like they might join it but they lost leaves and started putting on others. Here’s hoping I get a few of them to bloom this winter.

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This kid—7 years old and I’m starting to see tinges of the ‘tween years coming in. That or it is just his classmates rubbing off on him in regards to his attitude. But I think he really is changing. The little-little kid is going away and the big-little kid is coming in.

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I lucked out with a saddleback caterpillar a few weeks ago. I was out looking for, well, I don’t even know really, but I think I was trying to escape the house for a few minutes while Forest had been sick. Love allergy season in the midst of a pandemic. Negative for covid, just turned out to be allergies infecting his throat and we had to get an inhaler and a few other things to get the allergies tamed enough to go back to school. So we were stuck at home for a couple of days until the coughing subsided enough and this little caterpillar was a cheerful sight. Remember the saddlebacks from last year? I had been hoping to see them again this year but never found more on the banana trees. Instead, this one circling the cage around a Mexican plum!

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White brugmansias blooming right on time! Last year I only got a couple of days and we had a very early freeze!

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Forest had a book fair and a parent-teacher night last week so we hoofed it up to school to see how he was doing. So far, so good! OMG, cannot wait for his covid vaccine! I’m hoping the CDC approves it today like the FDA did last week and we will be on our way to a first shot. I managed to get an appointment through Texas Children’s next week but I’m hoping that the pharmacies will have it sooner than that. So far Texas Children’s was the only place I could find with appointments and I only knew about that from hearing about it from a friend.

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An unexpected joy—a white-lined sphinx moth flew by me while I was inspecting our right-of-way for plants (I was looking for orchids). I knew it was a sphinx when it flew by but wasn’t sure what kind and didn’t actually expect it to have stayed around long enough for a photo, but it did!

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Continuing to plug away at the concrete garden beds. So far we have four poured. Two more to go!

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And the Spiranthes orchids I was looking for! I found several patches in the yard, though I think the deer ended up chowing at least one location.

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And I know I still haven’t shared many of our trips and hikes over the last six months but I promise to eventually get to them. This is Forest peering out over a lake at Aransas NWR earlier in the month.

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And here he is playing in the shallows near the fishing pier. He really wanted to get into the water but there isn’t any great beach situation at that park. The area is littered with oyster shells so I told him he had to be careful or he would end up cut up, but he managed to find some muddier areas to splash around in.

It was a big month—we did quite a lot! November isn’t shaping up to be any different—and then we get the dreaded time change. I will be glad for more light in the morning because it is so hard to wake up when it is dark still but the thought of it being dark at dinnertime? Even worse. And so it goes—as always.

Close Encounters with Diamondback Terrapins


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A few weekends ago we camped at Goose Island State Park. Despite a brief period of time where cooler weather prevailed, it had retreated and in came the heat and humidity once again. And the mosquitoes. It was quite possibly the warmest October camping I’ve ever done in Texas. Goose Island was lovely as always and despite the mosquitoes we had an enjoyable time. One of the bonuses was getting to see Texas Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin littoralis)!

In the summer of 2014, while I was heavily pregnant with Forest, Chris did a field job in coastal Louisiana. There he got to see a lot of terrapins, though I think the ones there are considered the Mississippi subspecies, Malaclemys terrapin ssp. pileata. Diamondback terrapins range from the majority of the eastern seaboard, around Florida, and through the Texas Gulf Coast. They are much more common in the northeast and along the Atlantic seaboard, becoming less common in Florida and the Gulf Coast. While they fell prey to the turtle soup culinary fads of the early and mid-20th century, much as their sea turtle compatriots did, these days their biggest threats are abandoned crab traps and habitat loss.

The only reason we knew to look at Goose Island was because Chris found that the state park had mentioned sightings on their Facebook page. It turns out that sitting by the boat launch for a few minutes will easily get you views of these beautiful terrapins! They spook easily, so sit down or stand still and have your camera or phone ready. Apparently the cleaning station makes it an easy place to scavenge some food and as fisherfolk throw their guts and fish parts into the water when they clean their haul.

If you get a chance to visit the state park, stop by the boat ramp and cleaning station and hopefully you’ll catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals!

Right On Time


I’ve enjoyed Brandi Carlile’s music over the last decade, mostly some of her hits, but have never fallen into die-hard fandom. However, I watched this most recent performance on SNL over the weekend and I think I am now a die-hard fan!

And if you need a playlist for Fall, I’ve got one!

Sunday Evening at 8:33pm


+Minecraft—on Forest’s mind continuously.
+The Garden Beds—three installed so far! Back aching work and I’ll be glad when they are done.
+Constantly thinking about native plants and propagating seeds to expand the native plant palate in the yard.
+Feeling the tug to read fiction again after a very heavy year of non-fiction.
+Wanting to write and having so many ideas that I don’t know where to start, so list writing on a blog post is how I’m going to start.
+Re: writing—I want to write books. Have little time to get that done.
+In the meantime I’ve been pouring my creative energy into art. My weekly nature journaling has been a delight.
+How did I ever keep up with the amount of blog posting I used to do? I know I just did it but…still. How?

And so, this is what I’m going to do to kickstart the writing habit again.

September 2021 Rewind


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We kicked off September with Forest’s birthday. He’s at such a fun age right now where his imagination is running wild and he’s still in a silly little kid phase. I love it!

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Earlier in the month I found two Passiflora incarnata fruit around the corner from the house. I sowed seeds of one of them and ate the other in some yogurt and ever since I ate the one I’ve been on the prowl for more. None yet!

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I *think* this is Dusty—but honestly, sometimes their profiles will confuse me. But both of them are cuddly cats these days!

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We had our first taste of fall and of course a week later the humidity is back. The heat isn’t nearly as high as it was earlier in the month but it certainly isn’t that crisp, low-humidity weather had a taste of. I’m remembering last year we had a freeze in mid-October but somehow I see that as unlikely this year.

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One evening we were at the park by the house and Chris noticed some bladderwort growing along the shoreline in the water he hadn’t seen before. I went back one evening to take photos and then noticed this fimbristylis growing in with the grass. I *think* it is Southern Fimbry, Fimbristylis decipiens, but don’t hold me to it!

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Evenings have been especially lovely around the garden, however the earlier sunsets are creeping in and now you have to head outside directly after dinner to enjoy any time out there.

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I listened to a lot of nature journaling podcasts this summer and I decided to start a perpetual nature journal. That means I draw something relevant from nature of the garden once a week and repeat it on that same page for several years until the pages are full. I obviously started with a Sun-Sat time frame that is for this year but these dates will slide as the years change. If I can maintain it, it will be great to look back on when I’m done!

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*This kid!*

(yeah, I know it’s slanted, I was shooting randomly from my lap!)

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Miles the feral who was really someone’s inside pet and still knows this and thus acts like it, and Chris out on the dock one evening. Miles has jumped up in the hammock with me. That cat knows what a bed is and would love to have another one.

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Milkweed seedlings emerging from the soil. I should have started them in the summer but I left them languishing in the fridge for a few months longer than intended. They are now thinned and in their own pots, putting down roots and hopefully ready to transplant sometime next spring.

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Dressed up for a night out a week ago—I met some friends in the Heights for dinner and drinks to celebrate my friend Meghan’s 40th birthday!

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And amazingly, we actually started the concrete beds in the edible garden! I think we should be able to get two more beds done in October. We took off one small side of the frame earlier this week to check it out and it looks fabulous!

A busy and quite different kind of month! We closed out yesterday with Chris’ 42nd birthday!

Happy October!

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