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    onion

    The edible onions keep attempting to bolt….they need to hold on another month or so until we can harvest them. I’m a little worried they aren’t bulbing up as much as they should be by now, but with a month or so left to go I can only hope they get their bulbing into high gear!

    chiveflower

    Last year I bought a pot of chives in hopes that one day they’d find a permanent home in our herb beds. They are still biding their time at the end of the one of our vegetable beds.

    wildgarlic

    Out in the yard the wild onions are giving off their aroma as we walk around the yard or cut the grass, the delicious garlic-onion smell wafting into the air.

    wildgarlic2

    Plus, you’ve gotta love the funky bulbils that come out once the plants have bloomed!

    snapdragon

    giantsnapdragon

    Chris grew these giant snapdragons last year and they returned this year from the roots, at least I think from the roots. The coloration of the blooms is gorgeous!

    maroon

    A few muted maroon bluebonnets were mixed in with the blue-bluebonnets we bought.

    bluebonnets

    goldencolumbine
    I’m still in love with the columbines blooming. I never would have thought they would have become a favorite spring flower, but they’ve proved to be a wonderful addition to the garden.

    foxglove2
    The garden is almost in full foxglove mode, too. They are so striking with their height and color it is almost a disappointment we’ll have to wait two more years for them to bloom again.

    The garden is changing daily with new blooms, and fading ones moving on.

    fig

    The fig tree area of the garden is one of my favorite spots. Really, the fig tree worked out to be in the perfect location there on the side yard, fitting into the landscape perfectly. Currently there are many new plants sprouting beneath the tree, a lot of ferns, a few lilies, some different tropicals. Still biding our time for some of the tropicals to re-emerge…giving them only a few more weeks to appear before calling them toast. We’ll find something else for the spots where plants didn’t pull through.

    I’m ready for a balmy summer evening where I can sit out under the fig tree and read, maybe nabbing a few figs off the tree when they are ripe in early July.

    crawfish

    sideyard

    Back in February I wrote about the latest garden project we had going on. Well, last Sunday Chris finished it up in between mist showers by planting the azaleas we’d purchased in Nacogdoches the day before. We’d bought two native azaleas for our main flower bed from Cook’s Nursery just outside of Nacogdoches when we were there in February and kicked ourselves for not buying more. The plants were a good size and had only been $20, plus finding native azaleas can be difficult. So, since we were already in east Texas for a plant sale we went and bought five more azaleas for the back side of this perimeter bed. As they tolerate shade well, we figured they’d be a good fix for the north side of this bed.

    I’m really pleased with how this bed turned out and can’t wait to see it grow. Beneath the azaleas are columbines and I *think* cinnamon ferns. On the sunny side is the Texas sage and creeping rosemary. On the corner, not pictured here and planted after I took the photo, is a ‘Maryland dwarf’ Ilex opaca, American holly. We saw it in Nacogdoches at the SFA gardens and it was a small trailing plant. Chris found one online back in February but the nursery who he bought it from was up north and kept delaying in sending it due to the cold weather. He reminded them about it and got them to send it earlier this week. I’m hoping all of the plants grow a lot this season, but we shall see in a few months!

    We were supposed to start working on our perimeter herb beds in the vegetable garden but may have to postpone it another week until we can get to the lumber store that sells the cedar wood we need. The one Chris went to for the other raised beds isn’t open on the weekend like we thought they were, so we’ll be coming up with a different plan and checking another lumber store just in case. I’d really like to get that bed complete by the end of April so we can focus on baby Teddy’s room and some other inside projects as summer rolls around.

    teddy2

    BOY! We had our appointment on Monday morning and promptly went in to the ultrasound room right away. The tech asked if we wanted to know the sex, which of course we did, and while Chris had full view of the screen the tech did a few measurements and then asked what we thought it was. I swore it was a girl this whole time and there was even a potential girl name we’d talked about. And then she showed me the screen and pointed out the leg….the other leg…and then the other ‘leg’…and I may have said “It’s a boy! Damnit!” The damn wasn’t out of disappointment, it was out of not being right! So much for mother’s intuition!

    teddy3

    Our tech is incredibly generous with the photos she printed out, so we got all sorts of photos of leg bones and little feet and some slightly creepy alien looking ones too. He’s definitely grown a whole lot in the time between our first appointment and this one!

    teddy1

    But then there’s the couple of super, duper cute ones where he appears to be sucking his thumb or bringing his hand to his face…and kicking out his legs! It was at the end of the week after our 16 week appointment that I thought I felt something but didn’t feel anything again until later on in 17 weeks. It took a few days for me to realize that it wasn’t a muscle twitch but it was the baby! It doesn’t feel anything like gas like a lot of people try to describe it as feeling, definitely more of a muscle twitch. He’s definitely gotten a little more active and stronger as the weeks have gone on, and the timing of his activity has switched around a little to more evenings than afternoons as it was earlier. I’ve been able to see my stomach twitch when he kicks a couple of times, but of course when I try to get Chris to come see he doesn’t want to perform on command. Feeling him move is definitely surreal and reassuring at the same time. In the weeks between feeling better after the first trimester and waiting for movement I really didn’t ‘feel’ pregnant. Now I do, and of course my belly is getting larger as well.

    19weeks

    Here’s my 19 week photo. Sorry for looking like a bum, but I had already changed out of my work clothes (super cute maternity jeans and a silky maternity top!) and put on something more comfortable when I remembered I wanted to take a photo.

    In other baby news, we started our Bradley Method class last Monday. We ended up being the only couple signing up with our teacher this go-round, but I think it will be great since we’ll have a little more one on one Q&A time with the teacher and her husband. I’m definitely glad we are going with Bradley Method as I really think Chris will be a great asset in this natural birthing process. We have some exercises to go through and I’m trying to track my protein intake, which can be tricky when trying to figure out a complete meal. I’m supposed to take in 80-100 grams of protein a day, which is a lot higher than I had been eating. This wasn’t just recommended from the class but also from my midwife since the first appointment I had with her (she also recommended Bradley Method if I wanted to do natural birth), but 80-100 is probably what more active athletes eat rather than the average person.

    I guess the other question everyone wants to know is, do we have a name? No, not yet. We have tossed some ideas around but nothing has stuck yet.

    Anyway, I guess that’s about it…other than I’m already looking forward to the Fall and being able to run and do some movement without needing to pee after a mile!

    More swamp and ghost orchid magic….

    ls19

    ls18

    ls17

    ls16

    ls15

    ls14

    ls13

    ls12

    ls11

    ls10

    ls9

    ls8

    ls7
    Nurse logs are one of my favorite parts of the swamp!

    ls6

    ls5

    ls4
    How could you not fall in love with this place???

    ls3
    I mean, really???

    ls2

    <ls1

    Eventually I’m going to put together a video from some small clips I shot while in the slough. Since videos require more of my brain than editing photos, it may be a few more weeks!

    024
    Here’s a photo from 2007 showing the slough in its dry condition.

    famoustrees
    The last time Chris and I went to Westcave Preserve I was browsing through their small library of local and natural history books. I picked out one called Famous Trees of Texas. Even though it was published in the early 70s, the book looked pretty cool and I told Chris we should try to find it. Lo and behold a few weeks later one arrived in the mail that he had bought off of Ebay. It had been sitting on our coffee table for the last few months when I decided last minute over the weekend to bring it with us to Nacogdoches when we went to theSFA plant sale. There were two in Nacogdoches that we could attempt to find.

    The Old North Church Oak 2
    We hit up the first tree, the Old North Church Oak, a post oak, shortly after leaving the plant sale. Since I’d grabbed the book last minute we didn’t get a chance to map it online and see if we could figure out where it was. The description in the book was fairly clear and I figured we could find it. Of course when we started looking for it we couldn’t find Old Highway 35 on our Garmin, and the church’s original name or its newer name did not come up either. All we knew was that it was just outside of the city limits on Old Highway 35 off of U.S. 59.

    Well, there were a couple of things I should have put together as we were sitting at the light to cross over North Street and head for U.S. 59. North Street should have rung a bell to ‘Old North’ but also that North Street was Business 59…which meant in the 70s it was likely the original U.S. 59. Now U.S. 59 is diverted around town and Business 59 replaced it the original U.S. 59. I didn’t think of this until we were outside of town and on the new U.S. 59 and we kept looking for signs for Old Highway 35 or any kind of old church just off the road. When I mentioned to Chris what I thought about the real meaning of U.S. 59, we got back onto Business 59 and headed south. On our way into town we found the city limit sign—something else we were wondering was if the city limit had changed in 40 years—and decided to try the first county road we saw. When we u-turned to get back to the county road we saw a brown historical marker sign, which gave us hope. And sure enough, we found it!

    The Old North Church Oak 1
    I expected the place to be deserted, but there were three older women there checking out the tree and the cemetery. When we approached they asked us if we had relatives buried there and told them we’d only come for the tree. The woman had gone to the church when she was younger and talked about attending revivals there. She and her friends/family were there mostly to visit the cemetery. We told her what we were doing and they were very intrigued and decided to photograph the book and the pages for the church and tree. She said the tree had been struck by lightning ‘several years ago’.

    After taking a few photos we decided to head back into town for the next tree, the Indian Mound Oak. This tree was said to be a southern red oak on top of a small Indian mound across from a highschool that had originally been Nacogdoches University back in the 1850s. Apparently there had been several other mounds that were pushed over to build the university. We found the street for this tree easily and could make out the old highschool which was now a middle school, but we drove right by the mound. I’m not sure how we missed it as when we came back it was pretty easy to see. I think the problem was that the oak was gone and instead a smaller oak was in its place.

    The Indian Mound Oak 3
    The southern red oak was now medium sized water oak. We looked back at the photo in the book and thought maybe some of the shrubs that were growing around the oak may have been this oak as a sapling.

    The Indian Mound Oak 2
    Maybe one day this water oak will be as majestic as the oak in the book appeared to be.

    As I researched writing this post I found the website for the book. It appears that quite a few of the trees in the book are now dead, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising. I think we should still attempt to find the locations of the trees that are dead anyway just for the historical significance.

    More information on the trees:
    Old North Church Oak
    Indian Mound Oak

    It had been four years since I had been to Little Slough. (More background on what the slough is on that link.) Chris had been in the summer of 2011, but otherwise we weren’t sure what we would find when we returned to our ghost orchid oasis. Because the water levels had not dropped as they normally do during this time of year, we were in for a lot more water than we were expecting. Navigating in was a bit hairy too, the usual pathway in quickly disappeared once we began. That’s a good sign that the area does not receive a lot of traffic, something we’ve tried to protect ever since Chris found the slough in 2007. Only a handful of people know the location and we’re purposely vague about where it might be located.

    ls34
    We came into the slough a little bit north of where we typically came in when we were visiting the slough on a frequent basis. I was confused for a few minutes, wondering where I was exactly located in the slough.

    ls33
    I had been worried and wondering about the population of ghost orchids here. Had they declined? Initially we’d counted 607 individual plants but we hadn’t done a resurvey since. There were definitely some dead or dying plants but many that were still thriving and had grown precipitously.

    ls32

    ls31
    It was overcast that day, we were anticipating a fierce storm front coming off the Gulf of Mexico to the west. Chris and I got up early to get over to the slough so we could have enough time to wander around and to visit Bear Slough.

    ls30
    There was a bit of light at times coming through the canopy, dousing the trees in sun. Normally I’m not as hestitant about going into deeper waters but I was being cautious about venomous snakes and potential alligators since I was pregnant. We both stayed away from the deeper center of the slough.

    ls29
    In my plant memory, I’d forgotten about strangler figs and how interesting they are to see what they have ‘strangled’.

    ls28

    ls27
    This orchid had two new spikes and an old spike from last year. The blooms should look good here in a few months. Too bad we’ll miss seeing them.

    ls25

    ls24
    Mystical and magical, isn’t it?

    ls23

    ls22

    ls21

    ls20

    More magic from the slough to come…

    Our tent @ Ash Gap on Mt. Roan

    +It never fails that this time of year I get wistful for the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t really follow any hikes last year, but I’ve got a couple I’m keeping an eye on this year.
    +Renee Tougas and her family of five just recently started the trail. I’m particularly interested in seeing how their hike goes as a family. It also looks like they may have started just late enough to not deal with a lot of snow.
    +Then there’s Wired who is working on finishing the Triple Crown by September by hiking the AT.
    +Chris’ mom has an aquaintance hiking the trail as well. I’m a little concerned about them as they seem to be going very slow. There’s no problem with going slow at first as long as the miles are upped eventually. Sometimes slow mileage can be a mental barrier too, especially when everyone starts passing you and then you get caught in the ‘Am I going to make it to Katahdin by October?’ problem.

    +On the PCT side of things I know of two couples we hiked with/around on the AT who are heading out and then another blogger I’ve never met but have been following her hiking adventures in Georgia for awhile now. Oh, and wait, one more, a girl I followed as she hiked the FT this winter. Lots of PCT hikers, then!
    +Acorn is hitting up the PCT after she hiked the AT last year and the FT this winter.
    +Sideways D and Moonshine are one of the two couples we know from the AT.
    +Dormouse and Dirt Stew are the other couple we know from the AT.
    +Joan/Rambling Hemlock who I’ve mentioned before, is hiking with her friend.

    +Lots of hikers…I’m doing good if I can walk a mile without having to pee these days. Thanks baby Teddy for that!

    +Chris and I ventured to Angelina National Forest yesterday for a short walk. I wouldn’t call it a hike, it was more a leisurely stroll through the woods on the Sawmill Trail along Boykin Creek. The dogwoods were in full bloom and most of the azaleas (R. canescens) were blooming like crazy. Chris took his camera and got a lot of wonderful shots along the stream. I left my camera at home so that I could just enjoy being outside. Of course I kind of wished I had even a point and shoot after seeing everything in bloom. I also got to see many American fringe trees in bloom, something I haven’t actually seen before. They are really pretty and I wish we had more room for trees around here now.

    +While Chris took pictures I spread out on the ground to relax and rest. I love laying right down on the forest floor and looking up at the canopy. At one point I was under a brilliantly green beech tree. I wish people wouldn’t carve into beech trees, most of the ones along the path had names etched into them.

    +Our purpose for heading to east Texas was to attend the Mast Arboretum plant sale. A year ago Chris and I attended the Urban Harvest fruit tree sale in Houston. This plant sale was not nearly as crazy as that plant sale, but prior to the 9am opening everyone can wander around the alphabetically organized plants to scope out where everything is. Then everyone lines up with their wagons along the driveway into the property and waits for the countdown. It was pretty much mayhem! One lady tried to cut across my arm that was attached to my wagon which caused my wagon to tip over and me to frustratingly have to waste 5 precious seconds for me to get to an uncommon Crataegus species we wanted. We were kind of surprised at which plants went really fast and which ones didn’t—And then everyone grabbing all of these common plants you can get at a big box store or even a local nursery. Ooh, here’s the video I think Chris was telling me about…the video doesn’t take place where the sale this year took place, but you can see the starting line type rush: SFA plant sale

    +Today we’re just waiting on all of this rain that’s supposed to arrive. I’m going to bake, catch up on writing some blogs, and then work on editing my book quite a bit this afternoon.

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