Last week was fairly dreary around here with on and off rain and chilly temperatures. We knew it was going to head towards freezing on Thursday and Friday nights so on Thursday at lunch Chris moved a lot of the sensitive plants indoors and after I worked I moved some of my stuff off the potting bench and under the porch. When Chris got home with Forest at dinnertime he said we might have some snow flurries around 9pm. That was exciting but I figured it would be just that—flurries. We had some sleet a year or two ago with a little bit that piled up in the corners of areas near the house but it was nothing to write home about, and of course we had a little ice storm in March 2014 just as we were leaving for a trip to Florida.
But the last time it really did any snowing around here was in 2008, though I also saw 2009 mentioned in other news sources. I remember the 2008 one well because I was living in Florida and several of my Houston and Galveston friends were sharing photos of the snow. It was definitely surreal seeing snow accumulated on the Galveston Seawall! It does snow here, every 10-15 years and definitely not all over the Houston or southern Texas area.
Around 7:30 pm on Thursday I was mid-way between giving Forest his bath when Chris came in to say the snow had started. We hurried and finished up the bath and got Forest dressed so we could hop outside and watch the snow fall. At that point it was barely freezing so the snow as very wet and melting as it landed. We watched for awhile and then it was Forest’s bedtime so we started that shuffle and the snow kept falling. I finally texted my friend in College Station to ask her if it was snowing since it is only an hour drive northwest of my house. She replied with a photo of several inches and said it had been falling since 6pm! I then got online and saw it was sticking well in areas from San Antonio and Austin over to College Station. Later I saw snow photos from Rockport and Padre Island National Seashore—where they definitely got more than us!
Around 10pm the temperature dropped a degree or two and the snow began falling harder and started sticking onto the plants and then barely started sticking to the ground. I finally went to bed at 11pm which is when I took those photos in the dark at the top. I had pulled the weather up to look at the hourly temperatures and it was all hovering around 32-33* so I figured the snow would be gone the next morning.
Well, we were in for a surprise when we woke up! And all of Houston was entirely excited about the snow! Friday Morning Houston Wonderland from Space City Weather.
We put some layers on—well, putting layers on Forest was pretty difficult but Chris finally managed to get him to layer up and put gloves on—and I walked around taking as many photos as I could because I knew it was all going to be gone by noon. I had to go to work but Chris was taking a PTO day and was taking Forest into daycare late anyway so they could lounge for longer than I could. When I got home for lunch, the snow was indeed pretty much gone except in the shadiest areas. There didn’t appear to be too much plant damage at that time but with Friday’s freezing temperatures again that sealed the deal on the damage for many of the plants. Everything will bounce back except for the tomatoes and pumpkins, of course. The peppers look like they might go either way. I’ll know that in a few more days.
It was a magical experience and we joked with Forest he would see snow here again when he was about 13!
I have never been to southern Utah. My only experience with Utah has been to SLC and some areas around the Wasatch but I’ve been to plenty of other public lands (local, state, and federal) and what happened yesterday is sickening. When shit hit the fan on election day 2016 I knew we were in for it with the environment and public lands, not to mention so many other things we’ve been watching go down during the last year. It’s sickening, enraging, frustrating, and all around awful.
And I keep wondering when the insanity will end but I can only hope 2018 brings some mid-term elections to Congress that will balance the power dynamic out until we can get to 2020. As much as I can’t stand 45, I don’t want President Pence either.
I spent a lot of time in the early GWB years frustrated and upset with the continued push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and pissed off about all sorts of bad environmental laws or non-laws during his administration. During part of that time I was working for a tribal government so I was often around federal government employees and you could see the switch in policy and demeanor when Obama was elected. It was like everyone was finally able to you know, protect the environment. And now, it seems we’ve plunged to even lower levels of environmental concern than in the GWB era.
Living in the second largest state in the United States, we have a pretty abysmal public lands to surface area ratio. We’ve got a couple of big national parks out west that take an entire day to reach for the majority of the state’s population and some great national forests on the eastern side of the state. Of course in between all of that are some state parks and state owned lands like wildlife management areas, but they are few and far between in the grand scheme of things. Even those wildlife management areas are actually pretty difficult to find and access compared to Florida’s wildlife management areas. When we lived in Florida we frequented many wildlife management areas to hike and explore, but here in Texas? Much harder to get public maps, find anything out about trails, muchless even access because they are largely there for hunters and not hikers so there are a lot more access closures during hunting seasons. Even clicking the link about getting a permit to visit just sends you to hunter permits.
I’ve seen several state parks here transferred to other entities like county or regional agencies. So, I can’t imagine if we chopped off our federal lands and let the states take care of them that the states would either a: have the funding to take care of them or b: don’t care about those lands and would sell them off to developers of varying entities. Sure, some of them might be protected to some small extent, but in reality? Come on, we all know what would happen.
Honestly, I’m at a loss for words and I’m just tired of the same damn, greedy game that keeps being played.
*Note: Regarding the first image, I realize that we could easily go back to 1492 and talk about actual stolen land from the people who were occupying this continent at that time but that’s a different conversation.*
+In My Head
I’m a little messed up with the timing of Thanksgiving this year. I’m used to the month ending pretty quickly after and this month we got almost an entire extra week so in my head I’m feeling like I’m behind on getting things done for Christmas. I noticed a lot more people decorating before Thanksgiving this year to prevent this sort of frenzied feeling and I think I may incorporate some of that next year, such as getting the lights on the stair-well hung and a few other small decorations.
I also feel out of sorts because the house has been a disaster for so long with Chris building the aquarium and then having to rearrange our kitchen furniture, which meant selling our china cabinet and having to find a place for everything inside it. Speaking of selling things, I’ve been slowly trying to sell various baby and maternity items as well as other household things such as the china cabinet. Surprisingly the china cabinet sold fairly fast (I was going to have a mental breakdown if it didn’t—too much clutter in the kitchen!) but I’ve had the worst time trying to sell baby items, particularly our crib. We got our crib from a college friend as a hand-me-down and at this point it has been through three kids. It has some wear on it from the kids but is in great condition. I’m selling it, with the mattress, two mattress covers, and four mattress sheets for $40. I mean, really, that’s to cover the sheets because they were the most expensive and since the crib had wear and we got it for free we didn’t really want to try to sell it for much. I’ve had a lot of interest, including almost getting rid of it but then not because someone came to pick it up and mentioned “Thanks for giving this for free!” to which I replied that it was $40 and they practically ran back to their car. I mean, I guess if you don’t have $40….but really. And people flake or fail to follow up via email. I’m posting via Nextdoor and Craigslist at this point.
I really thought maternity clothing would go pretty easily, too. I listed it all originally back in the spring as one bulk thing but had no one took a bite I photographed everything individually on hangers (if they hung) and spend time writing down brands and sizes. Chris was going to list on Ebay but I have been trying on Nextdoor and Craigslist first. So far I’ve only listed the maternity dresses—I haven’t gotten around to the others and hope to get that this week. I guess I’m just surprised they aren’t selling at all. I listed dresses at $10 each and they are mostly Motherhood Maternity which, if you know that store, it can be pricey. Other clothes will be cheaper based on wear and type, of course, but really? Am I listing too cheap? Do people want free? WTF?!?!?!
I suppose I could just take it all to Goodwill or another thrift store but I know so many of those places get overloaded and hearing about where donations go if they don’t end up in the thrift store, I’m not sure I want to donate a ton of stuff if I can sell it to someone who wants it. I suppose I could ThredUP some of it and get credit. I don’t know, we’ll see.
Do tell if you’ve had experience selling items through Nextdoor or Craigslist. Groups on Facebook are of no use to me because I don’t do Facebook.
Anyway, I hope to get through December and get through all of our baby clothes and keep what we want and move on to selling the rest. We’d love to give them to someone we know having a baby but alas, we were kind of the last people having babies and the one or two people I know who could have babies are not on that track at the moment.
I’m still working my way through Charmed on Netflix but I haven’t been watching it as much in the last couple of weeks. I did dive into Alias Grace on Netflix and looooved it! Before seeing previews for the show, I was not familiar with the book by Margaret Atwood that this is adapted from, nor the true story Atwood’s book is adapted from. Very fascinating mini-series put on by none other than the fabulous Sarah Polley. Some day I will get around to reading Atwood’s books.
On the Outlander front, I’m in a love/hate relationship with that show. I’m giving it the rest of the season and it might be dumped from my lineup. Yes, I’m having that much trouble with it! The front half of the season was pretty spectacular but whoever they got to do some of the writing in this back half has made me question if they know who Claire and Jamie are as characters. I don’t mind changing plot to fit the time frame for the series but I have a problem changing fundamental character configurations into story lines that make absolutely no sense. Some people are enjoying the so-called “Dark Jamie” aspect but I never thought of Jamie as ‘dark’ in any of the books. Fallible, sure…but there have been some questionable things he’s done and said in the last few episodes. Same with Claire. I’ve actually had a problem the entire series with Claire on the show because they’ve made her a little more air-headed than I think she was in the books. The last episode redeemed itself a bit but we shall see what happens with the remaining portion of the season.
I’m really looking forward to The Crown coming back soon! All of the previews have me really stoked to see more of the royal family. Still not sure how to handle the casting change when Claire Foy leaves but I’ll be interested to see how the actress replacing her will be able to fill in those same mannerisms Foy developed as the Queen. It’s a little Dr. Who-like, right?
HBO had a preview week last week and I managed to catch some things to record, one of them being Hidden Figures. It’s been on my radar to watch for a long time now so I was thrilled to see it and record it. There were several things that I got a kick out of, one of them being the use of computers for humans doing computing—because, duh Misti!—but seeing technology yet again phasing out jobs. I mean, early 60s and mid-2010s and it sounds similar. Of course this isn’t anything new, but just seeing this aspect of it made me think about today’s implications. I also thought about how Katherine had to run across the NASA campus to use the colored women’s restroom and remembered some other instances that didn’t have to do with race but just gender when women were moving into the work place, particularly in male dominated professions, and not having a restroom. Having that extra layer of racial burden put on the women really shook me, too. And then comparing all of that situation to the current trans-gendered bathroom ‘bills’ made me think that we really haven’t come as far as we have thought in accommodating our fellow human beings. Anyway, lots of parallels to on-going injustices in today’s society.
+Outside My Window
I just looked at the 10 day forecast and thought, well, looks like winter in Florida! 70s during the day, high 40s or 50s at night. Ok, so maybe depending on which part of Florida you are in depends on those night time temps, but it is either sunny or partly sunny for the next 10 days! I’m ok with this. It makes the holiday season feel weird but I will take sun over dreary and grey for weeks. I mean, give me a day or two for some cozy winter feelings but too much and I’m apt to curl up in a ball and never come out.
After I made the crochet wall hanging earlier in the month I continued on to making a Christmas wall hanging. I’ve not worked on it in over a week because the need to just chill after Forest gets into bed has over taken me. I’m about to get on the ball with making some Christmas gifts for Forest, though. I’m thinking homemade playdough and am going to be cutting up parts of my calendar from this year that will work as great clip art for gluing. Also contemplating some quick amigurumi crochet projects.
+In The Garden
That pull to hibernate and slow down is strong. I haven’t done much in the garden in the last week other than poke my head out and move some leaves off seedlings, finally finish mulching the edible garden paths, and do some watering. I did take milkweed cuttings of some of the milkweed I cut back. I need to start some seeds, contemplate December tomato seed starting for getting them out in the garden in late February/early March—yes, time to start thinking of that you southern folks.
The garden is just handling itself pretty well at the moment. Another chore that needs to be done is to finish raking up the leaves in the garden path and moving them to the compost pile. There’s plenty to do, just not as high on the priority list right now.
I know, right? I’ve gone strong all year and now I’m in a reading drought. I have a culprit. Bedtime changed when Forest got a big boy bed back at the end of October so I’m no longer sitting with him while he goes to sleep which means less reading time for me. I did finish What Happened because it had to go back to the library but my ability to focus on reading at the moment isn’t too strong. I’d like to get back to it soon, though.
Less reading has meant being able to do other things, like being unproductive and watching tv. Or being productive and working on crochet, editing photos, working on my blog, or working on the podcast.
Sarah and Beth from Pantsuit Politics podcast started a new podcast called The Nuanced Life. I am loving it so far because it’s more of these two fabulous ladies but none of the politics! I mean, I love their political show, but they bring to the table more great perspectives and the ability to balance each other well with different ideas on life. Worth checking out!
I put in my first request for a book to be ordered by the library. A couple of weeks later I received an email from the librarian in charge of ordering for our system and they said they would order it! I had read the book digitally but really wanted to read it on paper to re-absorb the information so I’m excited they are buying it! *mentally makes list of other books I want*
What’s up with you?
Can you find the butterfly?
Remember all of my cloudless sulphur caterpillars? Well, they all pupated—or I think they all pupated. I could only find two so far!
First I found a chrysalis attached to a wire up against the house about a week ago. I was very thrilled to see it and I had to do a double take at first because the chrysalis looked like a leaf. That’s a pretty fantastic cover if you ask me—and just like a changing autumn leaf to boot!
Since then I have been on a mission to find more but they have proved elusive. I’ve even looked further away from their host plant in case they really crawled a long way away to look for a place to pupate. Still—I hadn’t found more than that one.
Then last Sunday, as Forest was playing in the sand box and I was just milling about the potting bench and side yard garden, I got down on my knees to crawl around a bit and look harder. I saw something moving, a bright yellow thing, and as my eyes focused I realized it was a cloudless sulphur just eclosing! I mean, it had to have happened just a few minutes before because liquid was still dripping from her body.
Her chrysalis was still partly attached and her wings were slowly unfurling. It looked like one was having trouble opening but I supposed it could take awhile to full emerge, having watched the monarchs do the same in their cage.
Finding this newly emerged butterfly in the wild of my garden was pretty enthralling! I’ve tried to keep my eye on wild monarch and gulf fritillary chrysalides in the garden before to no avail—I always missed them emerging. It was pretty spectacular to have caught this one and I knew it was something special. At the time I was wishing I wasn’t having to keep an eye and ear on Forest so I could have sat there for the entire time she took to emerge. Instead I dashed inside to grab my camera as quickly as possible and took what photos I could of the elusive moment before Forest moved on to something else.
Then, a few days ago at lunch I opted for walking around the garden instead of actively working in it and I noticed the butterfly in the chrysalis on the wire had emerged. She was fully out and almost ready to fly but I noticed Ruby the feral was eyeing her a little too closely. I went inside to get my camera again and by the time I got back out Ruby had managed to knock her off the wire. I shooed Ruby away and picked up the butterfly. Luckily she was not harmed and I moved her about five feet up into a beautyberry to finish preparing for flight. The ferals are usually pretty good—at least what we’ve noticed—but from time to time we do see their predatory behavior impacting some wildlife in our yard. It’s one of the things we’ve had to reconcile ourselves with in letting them stay around. At least we don’t have the 15 that were here when we moved on…good grief that would have been insane. (I realize feral cats are highly contentious and don’t aim to make this for/against argument at the moment.)
There is an abundance of cloudless sulphurs visiting the salvias now and I keep looking for more caterpillars but haven’t seen any lately. The Argentine senna isn’t blooming anymore so maybe that’s one reason they aren’t there—they can’t camouflage on the flowers. I am seeing the odd monarch here and there and just found a caterpillar the other day. It’s time to cut the tropical milkweed back and I’ll probably do half of them this weekend and leave some so that caterpillar and any others can finish out its life cycle. Gulf fritillaries are still around as well and I’m seeing caterpillars once again after a slight lull.
It’s busy with the warm weather!
We’ve had a busier fall than normal, I think, or maybe it is just that we’ve been spending time at home a little more frequently. We had a camping reservation for October but that was cancelled by Texas Parks and Wildlife because the state park flooded during Harvey and they don’t know when it will open again. Chris has been working on several different projects around the house, namely building an aquarium, but he also had to replace our water heater a few weekends ago and that took some work as well. Needless to say, getting out for hiking or camping hasn’t happened nearly as much as we’d hoped.
Initially I’d thought we could do an overnight backpacking trip over the weekend but Chris said it was opening deer season in the national forests and it didn’t seem like a wise choice to be out backpacking for an opening hunting weekend. Instead, we drove up to Huntsville State Park to do a day hike.
Forest is increasingly wanting to walk instead of ride in the backpack carrier and depending on the length of our hike depends on if we take the carrier or not. Chris said he would hike with the carrier this go around until Forest opted to ride in the pack and I carried my light Osprey day pack. Chris recently bought a bigger Osprey day pack—it could really work for an ultralight backpacker if need be, and I’m tempted to get my own because I have been trying to cram too much into the little day pack I have. I really just need to use the water bladder more to open some space up inside the pack but lately I’ve been shoving reusable water bottles in the main compartment with everything else, instead.
A lot of the trails at the state park were closed, either due to Harvey damage or due to the continuation of work on the dam for Lake Raven. This was a little frustrating but there were still plenty of trails to see in the up front areas of the park. I had been hankering to get to the back of the park, though, where some of the landscape rolls a bit and you get that slope forest feeling. Alas, that was not in the cards for us.
Due to our slower pace, we had more time to look around, pick up leaves, and poke around at plants and animals. It got a bit tedious at times when Forest wanted to stop and play in the sandier sections of the trail or when he wanted to pick every beautyberry in sight to “feed the alligators”.
After our first hike we stopped by the nature center to see what they had in there and then popped over to one of the fishing piers for Chris and Forest to fish awhile. We had had breakfast at Chick-fil-A and they also let us order lunch so we had double Chick-Fil-A that day. While Chris and Forest fished, I poked around the shoreline looking at plants and seeing what I could photograph. Eventually Forest got bored with fishing and I had to entertain him along the pond and we jumped off parking lot curbs and did a bunch of other silly stuff.
Finally, I pulled Chris away from the pier and we headed for another trail to meander before we headed home. I really like the shore section of the Prairie Branch loop and in the early afternoon autumn sun, everything was glowing. The day had started off slightly chilly and overcast but the sun finally poked out and this was its golden moment of the day.
We have plans to return to the state park in December for more camping—hopefully more trails will be open by that time!
I’ve been doing some crocheting over the last few months as it is my go-to dark season activity. Plus, right now it seems to be the easiest way to express some creativity instead of spending hours over in my studio. I guess I’ll take what I can get!
My most recent completed piece is this wall hanging! It only became a wall hanging in my head about two days ago but before that it was going to be a cowl and then before that, a scarf. I was making it too wide to be a scarf so I switched to a cowl but then thought that I really didn’t need another cowl and remembered I could do some wall hanging like the the weaving hangings I’ve been seeing over the last few years. Sure enough there are some really cool crochet wall hangings and I thought I’d give it a spin. I think I have a new love!
I did make a cowl recently—but it would have looked good as a hanging, too.
And I did make another Movie Night Cocoon Cardi like the one I made last year only this one is for my mom.
Currently I’m working on a Christmas wall hanging (because now I have all sorts of ideas) and a crochet rug for my studio. The rug is kind of on the back burner at the moment.
What are you creating?
Three more Seminole pumpkins have ripened out on the vines. I pulled these and processed them for more pumpkin butter. There are several more still out there and I will process those and just freeze the pulp to use for baking later throughout the year.
My great pantry chia seed experiment has finally come through! Back in the spring I threw out some seeds to see how they would do in a different location. A couple of years ago I tossed a couple of seeds out on the side gardens but it was too shady and the plants just got leggy and never bloomed. Well, this year I threw some out—too many according to Chris–and I thinned them a little throughout the summer but then Harvey’s rains caused a lot of them to flop over so many of them got pulled. I left enough to see if they would bloom—earlier in the summer I read that they were a short day length bloomer and knew that it would be fall before I saw anything. Well, finally here we are, blooming!
I’m almost done moving mulch to the edible garden paths. I’ve been working steadily but cooler weather and other plans during my lunch hour have prevented me from finishing over the last several days. Chris finally got around to planting out two of the empty beds so it looks a little different now than in this photo.
There’s quite a bit going on in this photo: cabbage seedlings—or rather tweenagers—a self sown bok choy, a borage, and plenty of free growing oxalis which I just learned is edible. It’s rather tasty, too! A little sour, almost citrusy. I’ve added some to my salads and I kind of like that it is growing in the edible garden alongside everything else.
My fall tomatoes are doing quite well and while I hope that I can get a round of tomatoes in before we have an actual frost or freeze I’m getting skeptical. Honestly, I’m becoming skeptical of Texans being able to have a supposed fall tomato crop unless you live south of I-10. I can’t say that this year will be any kind of good test to go up against because I also had to deal with Harvey wiping out all of the tomatoes I had going, but the ones I replaced those with have thrived and grown extremely well—it’s just that we stay warm so long and night temperatures for flowering don’t drop until late October really, and then it gets iffy with cold fronts. What I’m saying is, it is such a narrow window. And with all of this, I’ll be starting spring seeds indoors in December anyway. I guess I will just keep waiting to see how this year goes before I keep trying this mythical fall tomato harvest.
One green I am uber impressed with is the Florida broadleaf mustard. It has taken off and is thriving! I’d say it is less spicy than the red giant mustard but it still has that bite. I would like to steam or saute some up soon.
The ‘Sumter’ cucumbers are doing well and while I did not plant very many I am getting plenty to eat and still share with coworkers. It’s amazing how many cucumbers you can get off of a couple of plants!
Kale is slowly growing and I’m looking forward to having plenty of kale salads and kale chips over the winter. Maybe some Zuppa Toscana soup, too!
A slight dip in temperatures this week but looks like we’re back to mild weather again soon. I’d say that’s a good balance—a few days of cool to get that cozy fall feeling with plenty of days to be outside in between. Too much gray for me gets me into SAD territory.
The monarchs may have moved on for the most part but the garden is still active with other critters. About a week and a half ago, before the cold front, I was out in the edible garden during lunch. Some days I move with purpose out there and other days I mostly tinker with plants and check different things. This day I was in the latter mood, moseying around to look at what had germinated over the last few days, when I looked up and noticed something amiss with the tomatoes.
It looked like something had chowed down a couple of the top branches of one of the vines and my first instinct was to curse the deer. Then I remembered I was inside the 7′ tall fence and it was highly unlikely it had been the deer. I moved on to birds and squirrels but wasn’t quite satisfied with that answer but figured I would never know.
I wound around to the other side of the bed and was greeted with the culprit, a really cute and very hungry tobacco hornworm! Now, it has been a very, very long time since I have seen one in the garden and quite honestly I don’t even know if we have seen one here at this house. I remember seeing them in Florida from time to time but we’ve never had an overabundance of them anywhere we’ve gardened. I glanced around to see if my friend had any siblings but I didn’t see any and left it to continue munching while I went back to work. I later moved it to the brugmansias so it could eat that instead!
One thing I’ve noticed regarding caterpillars such as hornworms is the language used around them. They are ‘voracious’ and will ‘strip your plants’ and other words like ‘bad’ and ‘gross’ are used. While their appetite might be a little stronger due to their size, I don’t see why the negative language needs to be used. Monarchs do the same thing. They have voracious appetites and will most definitely strip your milkweed plants of their leaves! That’s what baby larvae do. It’s just that, of course, some butterflies look more intimidating and enjoy your heirloom tomatoes while the others are the golden child of the pollinator world. Don’t get me wrong, I love monarchs, I just wish the language used around caterpillars and insects was less evil sounding and more pragmatic. They are caterpillars going through the stages of metamorphosis—eating their host plants is what they do.
Along with the tobacco hornworm, I have been slowly finding gulf fritillary chrysalides. I found the first one attached to the underside of a bromeliad leaf the day before the cold front blew in and of course I found two more attached to a trellis in the garden. They appeared to not be as easy to move as the monarch chryalides so I ended up leaving them and just put a sheet over the trellis as a buffer against the cold wind during that weekend. Hopefully they pull through but I’m just waiting to see. The one on the bromeliad was brought inside with some monarchs I still had in chrysalides and it is now in the cage on the patio as I wait for it to emerge. And just this evening I found another one attached to a post on our porch, about 4.5 feet up! It looks new because I did not see it this weekend and it would be hard to miss!
My last two friends include a cicada exoskeleton I found while crawling around in one of the flower beds and a sweet little spider sitting on an oxalis leaf.
Oh, I did find what I think was a cloudless sulphur chrysalis underneath the Argentine senna but it was covered in mold. That was something I hadn’t seen before so I suppose it had been dead for awhile or was on its way to being dead. I’ve been actively searching for their pupa but have not see any yet. And I’m still keeping an eye out for my gulf frits on the passiflora but haven’t come across any more.