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  • Archive for April, 2012

    Growing up, my hobby, other than playing outside, was reading. Now I don’t devote nearly as much time to reading as I should, though the internet is my source of reading a lot of times these days. Anyway, this is the stack of magazines I need to weed through. Chris’ dad gave me a stack of Outside magazines, a new Yoga Journal came in the mail, as did Urban Farm, and Backpacker. So did Texas Parks & Wildlife. I have a lot to flip through!

    And then there is this stack, too! I have finally worked up the nerve to start The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. The first one was excellent but incredibly disturbing and mind-provoking that I had to give the story a rest. I think I’m ready for Lisbeth Salander again.

    Me and Mr. Darcy is a chick-lit/Austen re-mix book that I am looking forward to breezing through.

    That Used To Be Us is a political snoozer but still very interesting. Received it from my boss at Christmas and I’m still trying to finish it. It is very interesting and up to date with information from the latter part of last year. If it was leaning any way I’d say it leaned left but for the most part it is non-partisan and hanging all sorts of politicians and media out to dry.

    And finally The Heirloom Life Gardener just arrived the other day unexpectedly for me, but not for Chris since he ordered it. It’s kind of a history of Baker Creek seed company but also about getting into gardening and the plants themselves. I loved the part where he describes wandering around Mexico looking for heirloom seeds at farm stands.

    Maybe I’ll finish these all in May?

    The weekend we went to see the bats we went to Westcave Preserve as well. I think it has turned into our favorite little place to go when in the Austin area. We had hoped to get there again before May to see the chatterbox orchids but alas, that did not happen. Maybe next year!

    The prickly poppies were putting on a beautiful show and have continued doing so around the state since.




    Of course I love to get up close and personal with the flowers I take photos of and these were not any different.

    It was peak bluebonnet season when we went; the flowers were everywhere.

    I think this is a rock squirrel, there were several around the main building providing entertainment for me while we waited for the tour to start. It was rather finicky though and wouldn’t really let me get a good shot.

    I’m bummed the vegetation was in front of its face at this point but it is still a neat shot.

    Probably the most exciting thing was seeing two golden-cheeked warblers in the Ashe-junipers at the preserve. We stopped for a few minutes to watch a pair frolicked about. I got a few decent shots in the midst of their moving about.


    I was happy to see this one turn out so well with the wing spread out.


    The two of them huddled closely together.

    And their tail-feathers hanging over the branches.


    I definitely think the birds were the highlight of this expedition to the preserve, a bird to add to the life-list (not that I’m a big birder) but also to see an endangered and rare species. Seeing wildlife up close is always nice but sometimes you have to work for the sightings. We worked by straining our necks up to the trees; frankly it would have been easier to lay down and just watch but that wasn’t something to be done.

    Next time we’ll descend down into the grotto and enjoy the beauty down below!

    Cercis canadensis
    March 2, 2012

    April 16, 2012

    Last weekend I drove down to the San Bernard NWR for the Migration Celebration. It was very busy and full of activities but I only had time for a trip to the San Bernard Oak and to see the exhibit hall which included the photo contest exhibits. The photo above is the 2nd place award I won for the Nature Photography as Art part of the contest. As I said, I entered on a whim, mostly to test my skills to see if I even had a chance. And I guess I did.

    But, I don’t think I will enter this contest again.

    The photos above were the rest of what I submitted but did not win anything on.

    I think I need to find something less bird-crazy next time. Something a little more artsy like what my photos tend to be.

    I started going through photos I took several weekends ago in Austin and came across this photo of a prickly poppy. I loved it so much but wondered if it was good for anything other than a nice quote. I’d read and article regarding Thoreau, about the change in bloom times in many species of plants in New England. Thoreau had kept an excellent record of the flora and fauna in Concord and now scientists are comparing his data to data they are collecting now. It is very fascinating stuff, phenology.

    Thoreau was on my mind and so I chose the quote above.

    I’m over at Sprout Dispatch today….drop by and say hi.

    Yes, I know Easter was a few weekends ago. I’m terribly behind on processing photos! Sorry! And I took so many that I’m going to have to do two separate posts!

    This set is from an egg hunt at my brother, sister-in-law, and mom’s church. It was packed!

    Who couldn’t love this face??

    Zoe loved the petting area with several farm animals. I think she would have carried them the way she carries her cats if she could.

    Grayson very happy!

    My dad and Grayson! Love this picture!

    Zoe in the egg hunt for her age group. Apparently she is in the stage of learning to bite her fingernails. But the photo looks like she is pondering for a moment in all the excitement what to do next.

    Hunt more eggs of course!

    And getting her reward!

    She also got to meet the Easter Bunny and was very intimidated at first…

    But managed to pose for a few photos!

    Grayson loves his dog!

    And my brother burning some extra calories with a 7 month old baby on the front.

    More to come!

    It’s been a long time since I have done a Local Coffee post, mostly because I rarely go anywhere that has a local coffee shop. There was a very neat one near Bandera, Texas that I should have done a post about but didn’t get around to it. Coffee shops are a favorite haunt of my friends and me. If we can find a coffee shop to hang out in and catch up for hours on end, we will. This one Coffee² in historic downtown McKinney, Texas is nearby my friend Stephanie’s house. The shopping area downtown is very active with many shops and the day we stopped in because it was incredibly warm for late March and we needed a reprieve.




    Iced Chai Latte
    I normally hate iced coffee drinks but I tried an iced chai latte and was pleasantly surprised! Definitely worth it!



    The shop was relatively quiet for a Saturday afternoon, but I imagine that mornings and weekdays that the shop might perk up.

    I really wish there were more local coffee shops around. As much as I love Starbucks it is nice to have a local shop to relax in.

    I spent some time this spring working on my galleries on my section of our website. When I put everything together in late Fall 2010 I was rushed and hadn’t thought it through. I’ve taken so many more photos since then and while I haven’t put all of those up yet, I have re-organized the website into better galleries. I’ve also created an image index because our galleries aren’t easily searchable. I also wanted the words to be able to be pulled up in a search engine and this way they will. The headers of each listing should be linked to the appropriate gallery.

    I still have a lot of work to do! I have many images to add and at least two more galleries I want to add, a personal garden one and a botanic garden one. But—-that requires going through all of my files from Texas and Florida and that will take some time. Maybe by the end of summer I’ll have everything caught up…maybe. What I am hoping to do is to start doing small posts here of photos I do end up getting into the gallery, because after all, what I want is to sell my work! (Sell *our* work…Chris likes to sell his stuff too!) (Side note: I know the white is hard to read on black—I’m going to look at making the font larger soon.)

    More than likely I will do away with the portrait section soon. As much as I want to get into portrait photography my life is not situated for that right now. I still love it, love taking pictures of my friends and family—and don’t get me wrong, if you want a portrait session, I am not going to say no to a paying client—but it isn’t my focus.

    In other news, this photo won 2nd place in the category for Nature Photography as Art in the Friends of Brazoria Refuges: Migration Celebration Photo Contest! I’m very excited! I entered four others, two in the same category and two in the animal category. I’m curious to see what the winners were in all of the other categories. I’m going to go sometime this weekend to the festivities they have going on down in Lake Jackson this weekend. They are doing tours to the San Bernard Oak…it’s a big tree and I’m all about big trees! I think it over took the Goose Island Oak as largest live oak in Texas.

    Anyway, hop on over to the website and check it out. Let me know if you see any blatant errors—I do know the PA gallery won’t work because I haven’t put a gallery to it yet—but the others should work.

    Thanks and please spread the word!

    I don’t often write about my friends—I do have them!—mostly because I don’t get to see them a lot since they live in different cities and states. At the end of March most of us were able to get together, three others were unable to attend. We all met back in college, most of us while sailing on the Texas Clipper II back in the summer of 1998. This photo, nabbed from my friend Michelle, second from left (her daughter in front there), is definitely reminiscent of the type of photos we took in college. I think this was outtake #10 or something because we couldn’t stop laughing. It started with me leaning over onto Michelle because I was tired, then Rosemarie followed (far right) and then of course we decided it was a photo-op and well, here you have it!

    We came together because Rosemarie was in town for a rare appearance, she lives in California, and Stephanie had her first baby in January.

    Michelle is giving the pouty face because she really wants another child but forces beyond her have kind of put that on hold. If you are feeling kind and generous maybe you’ll help kick those forces by donating to the MS Society.

    Stephanie with her Greyson. (Yes, another Grayson/Greyson…oh, and there are also two Kylen’s in the friend family too!)

    I think Rosemarie looks good with a baby!





    Miss Kylen is a ham and a half—love her to bits and pieces! She is mini-me of Michelle.


    Rosemarie won’t be around again until perhaps Christmas since she lives in California, but her family is in Austin and so that at least lets us possibly see her. It had been 3 years since I had seen her.

    Moving to Texas helped with seeing my friends more, definitely better than while in Florida (though I am missing my long-lost Eliana!), but still everyone has their own lives here in Texas too and it is always difficult to coordinate with everyone else’s schedules.

    But, these are my friends. I love them and miss them.

    I love our variegated nasturium flowers. I think they are my favorite!

    The onions decide to start trying to flower and we pinched the flowers off to give the bulbs a bit more time to fatten up.





    We had some maroon bluebonnets decided to flower at the last minute.

    Sweet pea blossoms along the back fence line.

    The honeysuckle aroma is so delightful! I love walking in to the aroma!

    The County Fair cucumbers were planted a bit far apart so Chris helped them out by putting bamboo poles across so they could vine easier.

    Caterpillars were going crazy eating lettuce and other plants. We did a round of BT to help control them. I always feel bad about that. In Florida we had some hornworms on our tomatoes but not enough to cause concern so we always left them to nibble. This was a little out of control though! I looked this caterpillar up but have yet to come up with a viable species—my guess is some kind of tiger moth, but I just don’t know. Anyone have an idea? (Maybe a salt marsh moth But I’m not sure on the body patterns)

    And we ripped all of the remaining lettuce out of our bed in order to make room for eggplant. I was a bit disappointed to do this, mostly sad that I could not eat all this lettuce. Perhaps if Chris had been around this spring we might have eaten more lettuce, but I just can’t eat an entire bed of lettuce. We resolved to do half a bed next year as it will be more manageable. Most of it was starting to bolt anyway and it ended up in the compost pile. So, I don’t feel *too* bad, the compost pile needed greens.

    Chris and I are continuing to think about summer crops and where we are going to fit everything! We need more room!

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