The last five weeks have been a whirlwind of go-go-go! We have been making up for our lack of going in 2020. We spent two weekends up in DFW, then Chris and I went to San Antonio solo, and then we picked Forest up from my parents who met us in Waco and then the three of us traveled down to Dripping Springs for my birthday weekend. Another trip around the sun! Last weekend Forest and I were home by ourselves as Chris was in Mississippi working so we were able to recuperate somewhat from all of that busyness.
But two weekends away in AirBnBs were magnificent and the little cabin/house we rented outside of Drippings Springs was perfect! My only complaint was that their air system was kinda loud, otherwise I could totally do tiny house living! Chris decided he could not—and who am I kidding, I probably couldn’t. Though, our little house we rented when we first moved back to the Houston area wasn’t much bigger than this little place. It’s definitely not something you can do with a kid who enjoys a lot of toys and “stuff”.
While we did a few excursions, mostly to Pedernales Falls State Park, we did quite a bit of just lounging and several naps. I adored all of the large windows and wished our house had more downstairs. We have a lot upstairs but downstairs there just isn’t as much light as I would normally want. And this cabin had all of the natural light and it was just fabulous. The AirBnB was off of Fitzhugh Road north of Dripping Springs and that road is full of interesting breweries and distilleries, some with restaurants. We had dinner one night at Alice’s at Treaty Oak and it was really good. Lots of room to sit outside (or inside) and of course you can head over to the distillery area for more drinks if needed. Chris and I split a Blackberry Smash (“Red Handed Bourbon, lime, blackberry, basil syrup”) and it was delicious. I had the Texas Club Sandwich and he had the Brisket Smash burger and we both loved what we ordered. Forest, the picky one, had either McDonald’s or a hot dog when we got home—I have already forgotten!
For lunch one day we stopped at Rolling in Thyme and Dough at the intersection of Fitzhugh Rd and Ranch Rd 12 and had sandwiches. Chris ended up getting a Pecos Pete’s rootbeer that was on-tap, and ohmigosh it was the best rootbeer I’ve ever tasted. It’s made hyperlocally, just down the street on Fitzhugh. We tried to see if they sold it bottled somewhere but it appears its only on-tap at restaurants or in special pop-up events the vendor has. We went back on Saturday after a long hike at Pedernales Falls SP and got rootbeer floats! Absolutely worth it!
We also enjoyed the drive down Fitzhugh Rd west to the state park. I think we’ve taken that road one other time two years ago when we dropped by the park after visiting Westcave just north of here. This time we drove the road several times and enjoyed looking at the views, seeing interesting low water crossings, and I think, at least for me, wishing I had my own cabin out in the Hill Country. (And then you think about drought…and water issues…and increased crowding in Austin, and housing prices…*cringe*).
I’m hoping to share more from our time here with some more posts and finally catching up on a back log of things to write here. It’s been nice to just take a break from writing so much and focusing on other things (or not doing much of anything) this summer. It’s been overwhelming to get back into life again. But at least 41 was a bit more interesting and eventful than 40 was!
June blew by and July feels like it is on the precipice of doing the same. But the month started of with cuddles with the cats and has continued as the cats have gotten more used to us since moving into the house in April.
Early in June, Forest’s school district had a reading event and book fair. It was a great way to kick off the summer and Forest was able to get a ton of books in some of the games they had plus the bookfair was buy one get one free! Lots of new books for a budding reader! In addition, he was very intrigued with the climbing wall that was set up and gave it a go, though abandoned his efforts about halfway up. I was proud of him for trying!
Mid-month I finally made it up to College Station an hour away to visit my friend Michelle! She had recently moved so I got to see her new house and we had lunch. An hour away isn’t far but life gets so busy that an hour is quite the trek sometimes!
Afterwards we had lunch at Tejas Chocolate and BBQ, which was delicious! Chris found that it had been in Texas Monthly for one of the best BBQ joints in the state and it certainly was good! We arrived before the main lunch crowd so we were able to get food before they had sold out but weekends can get hectic here!
For Father’s day we surprised my dad with a visit! We went up to see Chris’ dad and step-mom, whom we hadn’t seen since Christmas of 2019. And then took side trip over to Fort Worth to see my dad and had dinner and stayed the night over there before returning to Dallas to spend a few more hours with his dad.
I treated myself to some new Keen sandals after seeing my brother with these really cool tie-dye patterned ones. I haven’t had Keen’s like these in a while—my old ones I wrote to the ground and finally chunked them a while ago.
And then we went back to Dallas the following weekend to drop Forest off at Chris’ mom’s house so he could spend part of a week with her and then he migrated over to my parent’s house, where he’s at now, and he’s been spending another partial week with them! We pick him back up this Thursday in time for a trip over to Austin. Needless to say, we’ve had a very busy few weekends and I’m looking forward to a somewhat slower (but still kinda busy) July!
This month has felt very long and also incredibly short. It kicked off with this momma wolf spider out in the edible garden. I was trying to pull the pennywort that had taken over one of the perimeter beds when she scurried out with her babies. I quickly took some photos and let her be.
And it wouldn’t be a spring season without a little too much water. After a rather soggy May and then a week of some heavier rain that lingered in early June, we had some minor flooding of the yard and pond fringe. Then of course, as per normal, we dried out and had nothing for a few weeks. Now we’re back to some summer thunderstorm activity. And in the odd twist of fate (climate change!) we were 30* cooler than the PacNW yesterday.
In my years of living here we have never had the pipevine caterpillar explosion we’ve had this year! There have been at least three rounds of caterpillars in the garden and the only pipevine that is still standing is the giant tropical species that is too toxic for them to eat. I’m sure we had eggs on them and I do feel guilty about keeping that pipevine around (it’s so cool, though!) but the A. fimbriata and A. watonsii have grown and been eaten at least three times this season too. And I saw another adult pipevine looking for somewhere to lay eggs and I had to tell her I had nothing available but to steer clear of the toxic vine. I’m sure that wasn’t heeded!
And another delight to see from the freeze was the abelmochus coming back and flowering. Not all of them made it but this particular plant, which has been in the ground a couple of years, pulled through.
The wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia, finally made an appearance and began blooming, much to my delight. It is slowly spreading in the area I wanted it to spread and I would like to get more established in another part of the garden beds, too.
Early to mid-month I spent a week or so working on cleaning up the edible garden. We’d let the weeds get out of control there this spring as we’d thought we were going to be rebuilding the beds—but we haven’t gotten around to it for various reasons. So I finally cleared the weeds from the path and put down mulch there. I’m slowly working on weeding the beds themselves.
We had a racoon visitor to the compost bins a week ago or so. Forest even saw it again down by the pond recently as well. And I need to get the videos from the SD card, but we’ve caught several fawns on our game cam as well as our first coyote! We’ve known they were around but this was the first time we’ve had proof!
I’m trying to grow out various plants and our potting bench is full so the edible garden is the makeshift grow out space right now. These are Ludwigia alternifolia, some of which we’ll put out by the pond and others I might put in our flower beds, and possibly some of the wetter areas of the yard.
This is a mystery seed that came up in our carrot patch. I thought it was going to be a sunflower but it turned out to be some kind of rudkbeckia. The leaves are very fuzzy and don’t match the ones growing in the garden so I’m unsure where it even came from.
July is looking to be rather full as well so I doubt we will even get around to making the garden beds (I’m really thinking it will turn into a fall project now!) but I hope there are some more wonderful things to share with you next month!
After leaving the Denali Highway way back in September of 2019, we managed to get a glimpse of Denali itself from the Parks Highway one of the pull-offs at Denali State Park. I took quite a few photos from the Denali Highway facing west, thinking that perhaps there in the haze that I could see Denali. But of course once we got to the state park and looked from there it was quite clear I was imagining things before then! And even in these photos you can’t see the entire mountain because it is still socked in the clouds. But—it was a glimpse! And now that our friends Patrice and Justin live up there full-time these days, I’m hoping that in the next couple of years we can get back to Alaska and sightsee more of this area!
Yes, I’m finally trying to wrap this trip up!
*Alright, email readers of this blog! I have finally managed to switch you off of Feedburner and onto Mailchimp! Whenever a new blog post is out it is set to send out at noon central time so keep an eye out in your email and be sure to make sure your email filter doesn’t send it to spam. Let me know if you are having problems reading it and I can adjust font size and such (I think!)*
Just a quick post for today so this blog situation can get sorted in the email, but I took this photo over Memorial Day weekend in Galveston when we dodged a mid-morning shower off the Gulf. The sun rays behind the clouds were *just right* and well, had to snap a few shots. I’m feeling the blog writing groove again so hope to get some more posts out soon!
My online friend Danielle at Suwannee Rose does these lovely monthly wrap-up posts for the month, such as April In Bloom. So, I’m going to borrow her idea and replicate that here for a few months until I get the inspiration to write again more. I’ve actually had the inkling to post a few times but then the effort involved to sit down and type it all out sounded terrible so I moved on.
Rusty and Dusty have been settling in well this month and are now full-fledged members of the household. Their personalities are really coming out now and Rusty loves his middle of the night cuddles and also gives love bites and nibbles but seems to be more independent, and Dusty is the sweet, cuddly boy.
In the garden, I was thrilled to find that a downy wood mint, Blephilia ciliata, I had started from seed a few years ago finally flowered. I had thought those plants didn’t make it through but there it was blooming!
This is a little bit late because I didn’t receive the placard in the mail until this month but me/my podcast, Orange Blaze: A Florida Trail podcast, won the Pathfinder Award from the Florida Trail Association during their annual meeting over Easter weekend. I found out only a few days beforehand that I was even nominated and so being awarded this was surprising! It is a lot of work to produce podcasts and sometimes I wonder how much folks are listening or enjoying it, and this really made my day/year!
Forest graduated Kindergarten! They held graduation a few days before the last day of school and about a week beforehand they let the parents know that we could attend as the school was holding it outside. It was really fun to see and after such a hectic year and starting off doing online learning and then merging to in-person, it has been a lot of adjusting. But Forest thrived at school, winning the reading award during the classroom awards session a few days before graduation. He was sad to be leaving his teacher and his friends for the summer but he’s settled back into his daycare that he had been at since he was a baby through March of 2020. And it had only been a few months but I had gotten used to having him in my office that last hour of the day. It is certainly quiet here from 4-5pm now!
And then of course, the last day of school! It was a half day so Chris and I took the afternoon off and went to the zoo with Forest. We were originally going to go to the beach but the weather last week (and the last few weeks in general) has been quite rainy so the beach wasn’t looking good. We renewed our zoo membership after letting it lapse last summer and went off to the zoo for the afternoon. Houston schools weren’t out yet and with the rain it was pretty empty, compared to our usual Saturday morning trips.
And of course we got caught in a rainstorm! Thankfully we made it to the river otter and bald eagle enclosures which have a covered platform so we hung out there for 20 or 30 minutes while we waited for the storm to pass. The zoo was even more deserted after that.
And fawn season has begun! I walked out of our laundry room side door to clean up the cat’s litter box and was startled to see this newbie hanging out in the yard waiting for momma to return. We’ve seen it a few more times walking across the yard. A new plant eater!
And that’s a wrap for the month! The rest of the family came down this holiday weekend and I will share a separate post from that because I have some comparison photos from the last few years to share as well.
Earlier this year my friend Keely had inquired if I wanted to attempt to go backpacking with her and another friend. This was before vaccines were prevalent and at that point I hadn’t had mine, so I declined. Well, a few weeks ago she emailed again and asked if I had my vaccine yet and if I wanted to go backpacking. Of course I did! We pinned down a date and of course as the time got closer the rain chances went up. In fact, it’s been rainy for the last week! First it was thunderstorms coming from the west and then an unnamed tropical system came up from the Gulf and has been dropping rain. Good times!
Last Wednesday we altered our plans for this rain contingency. We had planned on a 12 mile loop connecting the Richards and Sand Branch Loops on the far west side of the Lone Start Hiking Trail. Knowing that the Sand Branch section could easily be pretty wet and also knowing that the trails there had been sloshy when we went a few weeks ago, we searched elsewhere. Of course, the further east we got we ran into bayous and tributaries that flow into the San Jacinto River as well as the San Jacinto River being an issue, too, so sections on the east side weren’t really open to us. But then I found the Phelps segment up near Huntsville. It was only a 5 mile section, had a campsite one mile in, and is the highest elevations on the trail—plus no major bayous or drainages, just some small little ephemeral and intermittent streams. Sounded like a plan!
Of course, the rain continued all week but the hourly forecast suggested it would taper off in the evening on Saturday. And if we were hiking a mile in, we could start fairly late in the evening. It would be wet, we knew, but why not just go for it?! So, we did!
On the drive up there the rain was hit and miss. Some roads hadn’t seen any rain and others had downpours. I hoped we would luck out but as I sat on the shoulder waiting for Keely to arrive at trail mile 42 on FM2296, the bottom finally fell out. There went that hope! We left her car parked there and shuttled my car to trail mile 37 on Evelyn Drive where we sat in the car for 45 minutes while the heaviest rains passed. Finally, I decided we had to get on the trail otherwise it would get dark on us. So, at 6:45pm we headed down the trail in a light rain. It wasn’t that bad, actually, and I have a strong aversion to hiking in the rain from a few experiences on the AT. But I knew I would be home the next day so that relieved that worry a bit.
We made it to the campsite in due course and then had to figure out where was the best place to set up the tents. The campsite had a single tent pad and a fire ring and someone had left a camp chair there, which ended up being perfect later that night as I sat in it with my rain pants on to eat my dinner. But there were other cleared areas around the site in the woods a bit where other hikers had camped. They looked promising until we walked on them and the ground was soft, soft, soft. It didn’t take much for my boots to sink a bit and water to slosh up. Great.
I ended up finding two, more solid areas, one in front of the tent pad (which, the tent pad was a puddle of water), and another near the entrance to the site. Keely took the tent pad area and I took the campsite entrance. And wouldn’t you know that minute after getting our tents out, the light rain turned to moderate to heavy rain. Now, also, mind you, this was the first time I had set up this particular tent. It’s a 3-person tent that we got so we could take Forest on our backpacking trips and we’ve used it several times but Chris has been the one to set it up. We had our Big Agnes tent from our thru-hikes that I can set up no problem, but the fly needs to be repaired and we haven’t done that. So, I had this new tent and had watched a video on how to set it up a few times right before I left. It wasn’t hard, just a little different. And while I was making progress with setting it up, my problem happened to be the soggy ground. The tent stakes would. not. hold.
So, Keely is making progress with her tent and I am playing this asinine game of setting one side up and its good, only to get to the other side (which requires my hiking poles to keep that side up) and the stakes for that line on the entrance don’t want to stay, and every time I try to pull it taut, the back side stakes come loose. Meanwhile, it’s still pouring rain and there’s a nice pond going inside the tent. Thankfully there’s mesh along the bottom sides of the tent and I knew I could easily get the water out and wipe it down with a bandana (of which I brought three of because I just had that feeling…) Finally, Keely’s tent was mostly up, though water was also now an issue for her too, but she was able to come to one side and hold it while I got another side up. Then I finally gave up on staking the front and realized I had my bear bag rope and I rigged up the front rope of the tent to that rope and tied it to a hickory tree right in front of the tent. One problem solved!
Eventually the rain lightened up, after many checks of the radar with my head hunched over the phone in an attempt to keep the rain off of it, and I was able to get the wide sides of the tent staked, too. It took forever for one of them because the soil was so loose and moist, that I had to jam a bunch of twigs in with the stake to get it to even think about staying. I told Keely later that I was thisclose to saying “Eff it” and going back to the car! But her help and the idea for tying the tent rope to the tree helped make that be a fleeting thought.
I managed to dry out the tent as best as possible and get everything set up in there. Before we had left our respective houses, I had texted to let her know I was bringing a sandwich for dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook and was doing bars for breakfast. No stove, so easy! She did the same and so she ate her sandwich in her tent and I sat on that camp chair while I ate, head lamp on at like 9pm. It was an event but we made it work! If there had been a chance for rain that night we wouldn’t have made the trip but we knew it would clear up and that’s why we opted to go.
The next morning, after a fitful sleep, we woke around 8 and slowly got up and going on the trail. The trail itself was a combination of wet and dry, some areas soggier than others. The mosquitoes were terribly so we didn’t stop much for any breaks. There was one small road walk along a dirt road that was nice to walk on and be dry for a while. I was glad to have just bought brand new boots about a month ago and my feet were never wet, except for a small section that splashed up when we had a deeper creek crossing we couldn’t just jump across. We were out of the woods by 11:15 and glad to see her car still there. We shuttled back to my car to arrange things and decide where to go for lunch in Huntsville, hoping to get breakfast, and definitely some coffee.
It was a short hike and a quick trip but I really enjoyed it despite the rain. First, it was my first backpacking trip where I wasn’t with Chris or anyone in my family. I had been wanting to go for a hike solo at some point soon and this was a great transition to that. Plus, I was getting to hang out with a friend I really don’t see too often–she lives on the south side of Houston and has a full life and I’m on the north side of Houston and have a full life. We actually met because we were into nature and hiking and I found her blog when I moved to Houston. The trip was the start of hopefully more trips on the Lone Star Trail and maybe other trails with Keely in the future.
I think one thing I need to think about for future backpacking trips is my NeoAir sleeping pad. My lower back killed me on Sunday when I got home. I bent down to try to do something and had a horrible time trying to straighten up. I’m unsure if it was just not being used to that pad from not doing a lot of backpacking in recent years or if I’m aging out of it as my body ages. I love that pad—it’s lasted thousands of miles and takes up minimal space, but it is something I’m going to have to note next time I backpack and see if I need to find something else.
When things get hectic, blogging is the first thing that goes for me. It always has. I’ve tried to keep up during hard times over the years, the biggest adaptation happening when Forest was born to some themed posts to keep me going. And it works, usually.
I certainly don’t want to quit writing here. When you’ve been putting your writing online in some form since 2002 it is hard to give it up because you’ve turned into one of those hardcore old-style bloggers and, well, I don’t want to stop blogging yet. But….writing and reading blogs has been more time consuming this last year. And I need to adapt it into something that fits me for now. So, while I will probably still take a bazillion photos I just won’t be writing up every little trip for a while. If I have problems keeping up and reading blogs, surely my readers have the same with my writing.
I find myself wanting to read more, of the book kind, and I have been reading voraciously this year so far. I’ve had a lull over the last few weeks, the pull of the phone outweighing the piles of paper and digital pages that are compiling. I also have a stack of magazines from the last year or so I want to read but I’ve found my focus is not long enough to digest it all. Another item I need to work on.
But most of all, I’ve felt the need to be creating elsewhere than writing here to share. I’ve been trying to sketch in my sketchbook and do some small watercolors in another watercolor journal. As much as I want to even focus on some Actual Paintings, I also find myself lacking the discipline and time to devote to that at the moment. So, smaller tidbits of art where I can. I’m also trying to encourage Forest to join in and I’ve been trying to have art time one or two evenings a week. A couple of years ago, I found a stack of 6×6 paper books at the Dollar Spot at Target. He created through those quickly and I bought some similar books at Michaels online last summer during the height of quarantine. And he goes through those and creates little art books and I see that in a short time he will be also writing stories in them. The evolution of his reading abilities in the last few months has taken off and while reading and sounding words out is different than actually putting them down on paper (it’s harder, more help is requested!), I know that the ease and ability to do it himself is just around the corner.
And that’s where we’re at right now, a transition to leaving kindergarten and into first grade soon. A transition from staying away from folks to seeing folks and venturing out more. Spring to summer. Quiet to busy. And it’s a lot.
I can’t guarantee how this blog will look and I am not going to state that I’m committing to writing once a week or anything like that because putting some kind of confined space around what I put here is a guarantee for me to rebel and not do it.
In the meantime, I’ll be around. Probably puttering in the garden or with a nose in a book, and sometimes putting down words and photos here.
Let’s pretend this isn’t a dusty post languishing in my drafts folder since last summer! I wanted to post it a few months ago but lacked the interest in getting it out. And seeing as I took these photos in June 2020 and a new June is rapidly approaching I figured I might as well get this one up. And I am itching to get back to the Big Thicket soon, too.
I am leaning towards this being a Carolina satyr Hermeuptychia sosybius however Intricate Satyrs are very similar and this one has that look like it is just slightly different and could be an Intricate.
Going through my iNaturalist recordings to jog my memory, I noted this one as being Amanda’s Pennant, Celithemis amanda with the caveat I would come back to make sure. Did I ever go back? Nope. But I think the ID is correct.
Triantha racemosa, coastal false asphodel. Localized to this area of Texas but more common along the Florida panhandle into coastal Alabama and Mississippi, with some sporadic hits around the coastal Carolinas.
Rhynchospora latifolia, sandswamp whitetop sedge. I would love to get some of this established in our ditches and pond shoreline or especially in our low spots in the front yard. I saw R. colorata in a ROW swale last year in the neighborhood and almost stopped on my bike to rip some out of the ground. I should have because it was mowed the next time I went.
Yes, must get back to the Thicket very soon.
The last time I did one of these was in December and I lamented then that I hadn’t done one since August. I don’t have a very good track record lately, do I?
Well, a lot has been going on behind the scenes.
I first found Rusty and Dusty on the Petfinder app back in January. Forest and I had started looking for cats and I was favoriting ones that were kid friendly and those who were in bonded pairs. These two were brothers and they had/have three sisters. Chris wanted to wait until we took our Arkansas trip before we started looking for cats and while we were on the trip I emailed the rescue group to find out more about them. I filled out their application and we made plans to meet them. Their living situation wasn’t the best, though they were well cared for. They were born in a garage from two feral cats and a woman took them in and cared for them, though she had at least one cat of her own. So she started raising them in her laundry room and once they were old enough she would shuttle them to her screened-in porch during the day. Which is how they had lived for most of this last year. We were the first people to have come to see them. After a few days of thinking, we decided to go ahead with adopting them and made plans for after Easter to have them dropped off at the house. A few days out from that we almost didn’t get them as the woman who had been raising them decided she wanted to keep them. It was a dramatic evening afterwards with tears all around but circumstances changed later that night and the next morning when she thought better of it and realized they would be better off with us. This is a synopsis of what happened, of course, it was a terribly evening and we were really upset. Finally, they arrived at our house and have been with us for the last week and a half.
They are a pair of sweet goobers and yes, sometimes we have a hard time telling them apart. Rusty is the more social and less scared one so if you see a cat first it is likely Rusty. Dusty is a scaredy-cat but he is also sweet and Dusty is smaller. Both really are very sweet to each other and don’t really fight all that much. They’ve gone from hiding under our bed for days on end to sleeping on the bed at night. And they love to hang out on the couch upstairs while you watch tv because they haven’t figured out that tv isn’t real yet. And they love Forest, though he is too rambunctious for them still and they haven’t gotten used to all the movement and noise, even with us sometimes, they will scatter quickly if you move too fast. We love them and they will be a fun addition to the household for the next decade and a half.
In Forest-land, he’s lost two teeth in the course of a week and a half. He’d had two loose teeth for a few months and finally the bottom one that was loose came out the night before Easter and his top one came out about a week ago. The tooth fairy has been busy around our house lately! And Forest is doing great, otherwise. He’s currently in a very imaginative place and wants to play battle dragons, which is a made up game adapted from one of his games off his tablet!
Ugh. The garden.
It was doing pretty well until a week ago. Even the deer weren’t being terrible assholes. Plants were recovering from the freeze in February and most plants were rebounding.
I had seen earlier in the afternoon this storm moving in from the hill country and it had dropped hail out that direction. The storm had shrunk by the time it reached our area but it also made a beeline for us. Chris said it still had hail in the center so he moved my car under the carport and cleaned up a few things. We sat outside to watch the rain and hoped the hail wouldn’t come but it did. It was light for the first thirty seconds but after that the clouds started dropping buckets of ice and Chris and I just looked at each other in amazement and shock. It was very loud because of our metal roof. The only good thing was we got to see the new drain in action that Chris installed in early February that will help drain water from the front walkway area to the backyard. It worked!
Needless to say the garden was torn to shreds and then the deer came by to add insult to injury the day after.
We still haven’t started the new edible garden beds, yet. I did end up planting zinnia seeds in the perimeter bed near the blackberries so I am excited to have some flowers out there this summer. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a half flower garden/half edible garden out there since we will never be able to grow what we want in our actual flower garden without the deer browsing. We don’t usually use all the space in the edible garden anyway and we don’t eat a lot of the edible plants we do grow. Anyway, there’s a lot we can re-envision out there—more perennial edibles instead of annual edibles—something. I don’t know….
I have been reading A LOT! I have a lull occasionally but then will complete 2-3 books in a week. I’ll hit some high points from the last few months:
+Open Book by Jessica Simpson: I loved this! I listened as an audiobook and I highly recommend as Jessica reads it herself. It’s a memoir and you get a glimpse of her life over the last 30 years. You see some behind the scenes of her and Nick but you really get a feeling of what a dipshit John Mayer really is.
+Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail by Melanie Radzicki McManus: Audiobook—I loved this book! Melanie is an ultrarunner who wanted to FKT the IAT. The book gives you glimpses of her hike/run but also goes into other stories of other hikers on the IAT that she meets but also some of the historical aspects of the IAT. It isn’t a play-by-play of a thru-hike. Definitely add it to your hiking trail memoir collection!
+New Naturalism: Designing and Planting A Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden by Kelly D. Norris: This is a very pretty book that guides gardeners into transitioning into the Piet Oudolf style of naturalistic gardening, which isn’t strictly native plants but a more wild design. I would say this isn’t for beginners but also beginners should read it. There are plenty of basics covered but there are also a lot of in depth analysis and ideas to go with it. It is a book you will be referencing for a long time.
+Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias: A Guide to Growing and Arranging Magnificent Blooms by Erin Benzakein: So, I’ve been falling in love with dahlias on social media. They are gorgeous and generally aren’t considered to do well in Texas and the south. Except—people are growing them! You have to give them more shade than you would think in the summer but people are being successful with them. So I ordered some dahlias tubers from Etsy and am trying my hand at them. I am growing them at the office, though, because they wouldn’t survive the deer. Unfortunately I didn’t account for the fact that the landscaping company comes in and sprays sometimes and a few were sprayed so I’m not sure if they will recover. I need to put a sign or fence them off somehow. We shall see. The book is beautiful and really details how to grow them and all of the varieties there are.
+Under Western Skies: Visionary Gardens from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast by Jennifer Jewell and Caitlin Atkinson: Another beautiful book to add to your garden book collection! So many gorgeous gardens from the American West are chronicled in here and you will want to pull so many design elements from there. Page after page will have you wanting to stand in each photo and wish that was your garden to enjoy.
+The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: A fiction book based on Hemingway’s first wife. I knew Hemingway was an ass but you really get a glimpse of it here and I really felt bad for his first wife and their son. It’s 1920s glitz and glamour but also you feel the dirty underbelly of that lifestyle.
+The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah: If you loved Where the Forest Meets the Stars, Glendy’s debut novel a few years ago, you will love her second book! I really adore her writing and because she has a biologist and naturalist background the details are where it matters. You know how you read a book and someone is writing about nature or science and they get some detail wrong? And it is annoying because they used the wrong term? Well, Glendy doesn’t do that because she knows what she’s writing about! Definitely add it to your summer beach read list!
+The Way of the Gardener: Lost in the Weeds Along the Camino de Santiago by Lyndon Penner: Another trail memoir that goes against the typical grain, though I was left wondering if the author totally enjoyed his walk! Lyndon is a gardener from Canada and had the chance to hike the Camino with a friend a few years ago. He brings his gardening knowledge to this book so you get the plant aspect of what is found along the Camino as well as some historical tidbits along the way. And since he is not a thru-hiker are heart you see some of the antics that you wouldn’t see from a typical thru-hiker. I found myself wanting to reach through the book and prepare him a bit more, though.
I have not been making a lot of art but I have been doing blind contour drawings to stay in the creative groove and have started doing sketchbook work again. I am cleaning up my studio so I hope to start painting again soon. I have made two crochet pieces in the last several months, a shawl and a shirt. I have a photo of the shawl but it isn’t great and I never took a photo of the shirt so I’ll have to remedy that and share soon.
Seeing family in May! My parents are coming down and brother’s family are coming down later in the month. And finally seeing some friends again! I had my first friend date last weekend and it was fantastic! I’m also hoping for some hiking trips to east Texas and looking forward to getting beach time in as well.
*A note*: I was alerted that Feedburner is going to phase out the email subscription service for feeds soon. I need to figure out how to migrate that to another service so if you see any changes and get this via email, that’s what happened. They had said they were phasing out Feedburner totally about 8 or 9 years ago and that never happened so I’m not going to hold my breath too much but will try to take action to migrate it anyway. Just FYI*