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  • Archive for June, 2012

    IMG_9071
    I should have taken a photo of this bed a couple of days ago before I trimmed up the vine on the left hand side, closest to the beans. It’s already impossible to walk between the bed and the eggplants on the right, but I really didn’t want to have both sides overtaken. The melon in this bed is the Bidwell Casaba melon—and apparently tastes like orange sherbet.

    Two weeks ago we had several afternoons of thunderstorms which provided a much needed drenching for the beds. In turn the beds responded by exploding in new growth. This one has just kept on going.

    IMG_9069
    The vines of the melon aren’t the only things out of control, the size and speed of growth of the fruit is incredible. I think it was last Saturday that I went out and this same fruit was only a couple of inches long. When I went on Monday the melon was just a bit smaller than this!

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    I’ll be happy with melons right now as they are the only things handling this heat (and the peppers)—though I’m still surprised how my tomatoes are trucking along despite my complete apathy towards them. I’ve picked one too many tomatoes this season (though I really do appreciate them!) and the Sungolds have almost worn out their welcome. Perhaps if I hadn’t been fending off leaf footed bugs for so long.

    Chris came in last night for the closing of our house today. We made dinner then went to find a nonexistent ice cream shop (thanks Google Maps) before heading to the garden. The heat has been brutal this week, 100* many of the days; the beans can’t handle it and neither can a few other plants. Sometimes between moving we’ll have to find some time to do maintenance on our beds.

    I was busy watering the garden and Chris had been putting hoses on various beds and then piddling around. I went back up to the front of the garden and found him deep into picking figs off the Celeste fig. Abandoning the watering, I went over to help him. It really is a two person job….

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    Part of the problem was the need to reach the figs that were deep inside the tree (overgrown shrub really). So I was dealt the job of holding the box.

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    The smaller New York fig was producing but wasn’t nearly as loaded down as the Celeste. I preferred the Celeste fig, particularly the over ripe ones as they were much sweeter.

    I’m very happy that our new house has a fig tree in the side yard! There will be many years of fig eating and jam making coming!

    It had been far too long since I’d spent any considerable amount of time outside, so last Sunday I decided to brave the 100* heat and go for a walk at Kleb Woods. I almost left to go at 1pm but waited an hour, thinking I would postpone until later in the evening, but I needed out and so at 2pm I left for the woods.

    Chris and I had been here back in the Fall on a weekend. It was busier then and the hummingbirds were around, sipping nectar from the feeders and the flowers in the hummingbird garden. This time the heat of the day brought stillness over the woods, though the forest was still active with butterflies, cardinals and a chorus of locusts. Wafts of pine needle perfume permeated the forest; the afternoon heat taking the heady aroma up a few notches. The scent of pine needles is one of my favorite smells, one of the things I miss about hiking in the Florida pine scrub.

    Go for a walk and see what I saw:

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    Phytolacca americana, pokeweed.

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    Passiflora lutea

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    Gulf fritillary

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    Pearl crescent—I think.

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    Justicia ovata, waterwillow

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    So way back in March when we went to Austin we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Sunday morning before driving home. And yes, here it is late June and I am just now posting photos from them! I can’t believe I have been so unattentive to my photo processing and writing about our adventures.

    Nonetheless here is round 1 of our trip:

    watertank
    Lady Bird herself on the rain barrel. Not to be confused with this Ladybird.

    bluebonnetsculpt

    lbjwildflower

    garden

    lacecactus2
    Lace cactus, Echinocereus caespitosus

    lacecactus

    horsetail
    Horse rush

    horsecrippler
    Horse crippler cactus Echinocactus texensis

    greggdalea
    Gregg dalea, Dalea greggii

    foxglove
    Foxglove, Penstemon cobaea

    columbine
    Columbine

    chris

    campsis
    Trumpet creeper

    blackfootdaisy
    Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum

    bfweed
    Antelopehorn (butterfly weed) Asclepias asperula

    allium
    And a very dewey allium!

    If I lived in Austin this would be a place I visited regularly.

    06122012
    June 12: Checking email and reading blogs

    06142012
    June 14: Our anniversary, watering the flower beds of our landlords while they are out of town.

    06162012
    June 16: A hornworm we picked off the tomatoes

    06192012
    June 19: Zoe showing off a couple of strawberries she and PawPaw picked.

    06202012
    June 20: Planning new things to plant!

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    June 21: Butternut squash seeds ready to go in the ground!

    06222012
    June 22: Charentais melon, ripe and ready

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    June 23: Spotted two red headed woodpecker right out my back door.

    harvest
    +I was glad I had an entirely free weekend to spend hours in the kitchen putting away food from the garden.

    canning
    +I made five jars of spaghetti sauce, three jars of marinated peppers (and more will be made using this recipe further down in the UC Davis guide), and put away seven vacuum sealed bags of beans to the freezer. I’m completely out of freezer space, attempting to be creative and tuck things in places, but I’m plumb out of room. Good news is that our small dorm freezer is coming in our POD sometime next week after we move into our new house!

    +Speaking of houses, we’re closing at the end of this week and I fully expect to be quite busy as we will be cleaning up, painting, taking down trees and other maintenance issues that need addressing, so I’ve scheduled some posts for next week. The posts are some very old ones from the old format of my blog and likely they haven’t been seen by many people. It was a fun trip down memory lane dredging them up!

    +I’ve had some nature deficit disorder lately so I rambled in the woods yesterday. I took a lot of photos so I will have those to share later on this week. Oh, the smell of the pine under the intense Texas heat was divine! The heat itself wasn’t terribly bad (100* that day) because I was under the shade, but I ventured to our garden after, which is in full sun, and I had a hard time keeping sweat out of my eyes.

    +As for the garden, I feel another transition state coming—cucumbers and tomatoes will be moving out soon, I think. But the melons have exploded—one of our beds is completely out of control. I think it would take over the garden if we let it.

    Been loving a lot of music lately:

    +Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Man on Fire Absolutely love this song. Must get this album! “I want the whole damn world…To come dance with me”
    +Edward Sharpe and the Magentic Zeros NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert
    +The Decemberists and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert
    +Florence + The Machine’s Cosmic Love live without all the dramatic music on the album.

    I’m over at Sprout Dispatch today talking about our green bean harvest. Come say hi!

    Red

    red

    I thought of you off and on all day today, wondering if you knew that today you were finally going somewhere where your body would get the nourishment from the food you ate. A week ago last Thursday, when the phone rang, I thought mom was going to tell me about you, not about Grandad. When I left the weekend before I thought I wouldn’t see you again and instead I was given another chance to say goodbye and it was Grandad I wouldn’t see again.

    Little kitty, one of two kittens that mom and dad found in the old garage of Granny and Jack’s house, the year both of them passed away (Granny was Grandad’s mom, Jack his step-father), 1999; you were the feisty one, the one that whacked, bit, and squirmed when held. A little too much loving would result in a nip at my nose on the eve of Curtis’ wedding.

    I was in college when mom and dad brought you home with your sister Yoda, and though for a long time I never thought of you as my cat, it was during the last two years when I was actually at home and visiting that I got to know you a bit more. You mellowed, came around and wanted to be loved on. Leo loved laying with you in the corner under the lamp table in the living room. I would have thought Samson would have been your buddy, but no, the two feisty cats chose each other as temporary friends and cuddle pals. I think you missed them after I took Samson and Leo back to live with me and Chris; having lost your sister two years ago, you were a bit lonely. I felt sad for you, kitty, and wished I could have adopted you just so you had some kitty pals.

    I’m glad to have petted you one last time, been able to kiss your furry head the way I do my own cats without threat of being nipped at, and said goodbye.

    I hope you are frolicking in animal heaven with your sister Yo-Yo, and Sandy the dog. Say hi to Trixie the guinea pig for me, too.

    Did you miss Day 1 & Day 2?

    onf29
    After leaving the campsite by the river the next morning we had about 9 miles left to return to the trailhead we started at two days before. It was overcast and looked like potential rain but at least it kept the heat down. There were going to be a couple of river fords that day as bounced back and forth across the river. The river in this section was already narrowing but was still flowing faster than the creeks we’d passed the days prior. At this crossing we meandered up and down looking for a possible rock-hop to avoid taking our boots off. While most of us were looking upstream my brother found a way across right under our nose. The last jump from the final boulder to the shore was a little sketchy but we all made it across!

    onf30
    I kept eyeing this flower, thinking it looked so familiar when the name finally came to me, pinkroot, Spigelia marilandica.

    onf31
    After the scare of the group being separated, for the most part along this 9 mile stretch we stayed together (except for my brother and Chris in the last several miles—I think they were antsy to get back to the car—and they had trouble taking it as slow as some of the others in the group). It was peaceful, following the river, occassionally coming up along the bluffs, slow and gradual rises, and then descending back down along the river. It was interesting to see the river shrink the further west we walked, resembling more stream or creek than river.

    onf32
    We reached on final ‘major’ crossing where it appeared that enough boulders would allow for easy rock-hopping but they were always strategically placed or angled in ways that might cause slippage and falling into the water. I’m pretty sure this crossing took at least 30 minutes if not nearly an hour because of everyone crossing the river but also because of the taking shoes on and shoes off and helping each other across.

    onf33
    The area was picturesque and I could imagine some amazing photographs to be taken here if we’d had our good cameras. As you can see, the rocks here were tilted in some strange ways; there were a few moments I thought I was going to be going into the river!

    IMG_1363
    Once back on the trail I found this butterfly which unfortunately was not going to make it. I’m not sure what was wrong, if it was the end of its lifecycle or if it had been injured, but I’m glad I stopped for a moment to enjoy it. This variety was new to me; there was such a plethora of butterflies in the forest that were different from what I was used to seeing.

    IMG_1337
    Looking up into the big leaf magnolias….

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    onf34
    It wasn’t too long before I started thinking that we should be getting close to the Little Missouri Falls…and of course we were rewarded with that by seeing a day hiker. Success! The falls were busy with folks walking all around the falls, taking pictures and generally being a little too adventurous on slick rocks. Curt and Chris had been there for an hour and they took our arrival as their cue to leave—which I was a bit peeved about. They left and the rest of us stayed and ate lunch, enjoying the falls and scenery.

    onf35

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    onf37

    After lunch we moseyed down the trail, crossed a footbridge back over the river and found a parking area with a composting toilet. I wished I’d known that before finding a tree back where we’d eaten lunch.

    onf38
    Butterflies were hanging out near the trailhead at the parking area here…

    onf39
    Before we left for the hike I’d mentioned to Chris that maybe we’d see some lady’s slippers on the hike. Chris wasn’t too sure about that, but I was happy to see (because he and Curt were ahead of us) an arrow made out of sticks pointing to two different populations of Cypripedium kentuckiense. Score!

    IMG_1402
    Later on the trail meanders away from the river for awhile and we spotted some dung beetles doing what they do—rolling some dung. I thought it was cool—others did too but apparently I was the only one nerdy enough to take a photo of dung beetles in action!

    IMG_1398
    The sun started peeking out, making the afternoon warmer, sweat pooling and my smell ripening a bit.

    onf40
    Solar panel in the woods?

    After this we all started feeling the heat and tiredness of the hike. Everyone’s pace started slowing, wanting a break and though we figured we were getting close we weren’t quite sure how far away we were. At a random spot along the trail my dad decided to call time for a break, some of us finding a log to sit on for a few minutes, others just hanging out in the trail, snacking and sipping water from their water bladders. It’s always easy to turn a break into something longer but this time we felt the need to press onward and get to the car.

    We kept looking for the tell-tale signs of the part of the river where we had crossed initially, at this time a 20′ wide creek, and waiting to hear the chatter of Chris, Curt and Leonard at the car.

    onf41
    And then we finally found it!

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    Hard to believe it was a mighty, wide river just 10 miles down the trail!

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    This shot reminds me a bit of the mangrove tunnels in Florida.

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    onf43
    The best part about getting back to the car was finding out that one of the hikers had brought cookies and Gatorade for snacking on back at the car! Nothing like some sugar replenishment at the end of the hike!

    And that was it! Time to return home. I tried to stay away for as much of the forest drive out as I could, trying to see what we drove in at night several days prior. But, I didn’t last long and soon I was dozing before we even got to the town of Mena. I kept looking back towards the mountains, missing them already, wondering who was out hiking still.

    I would definitely do this hike again, continuing with having the hard part of the up and down of the mountains first. I’m glad we took it slow and enjoyed it instead of being on a thru-hiker type of pace, though sometimes that pace is exhilarating, I do enjoy slowing down.

    Thanks for putting up with the very stretched out nature of these posts! I didn’t mean for the last one to be nearly two months after the hike!

    8th wedding anniversary dinner
    I’ll share a Mountain House with you on a ridge in Pennsylvania any day. 🙂 Happy 10 year anniversary hubster!


    June 1: Black swallowtail caterpillar munching on some parsley


    June 4: Leo hanging out with me while I write some blogs.


    June 5: A cropped photo of what I’m 97% sure to be Venus exiting the sun during its transit last week. I took a bunch of photos but thought I didn’t get anything at all until I opened them a week later. I used a red filter to force the camera to be able to shoot into the sun, turned my F-stop to 32 and ISO to 100 and hoped for the best. No, I didn’t look at the sun when I did this—you should see all the outtakes before and after with the sun half off the screen. I was aiming and hoping for the best.


    June 6: Trying to make some tomato sauce….


    June 6 (again): until I was rudely interrupted by a talkative storm that turned my power off for the evening.


    June 7: Samson in one of his favorite spots…


    June 8: Hanging out with my niece Zoe. Sometimes she gets to spend the night at my parent’s house when I come in to visit and it is always a good treat. It’s a slumber party!


    June 9: Poor Red, he’s on his way out. 🙁 Such a good kitty.


    June 9 (again): Zoe looking like a big kid, being serious and listening to what her mom is telling her while we ate lunch at McAlisters’s


    June 10: Driving down Texas 6 on my way home from DFW. This is the town of Calvert—don’t speed when exiting the town, the cops are waiting for you! I’ve always wanted to stop here and poke around the town but haven’t; maybe someday soon.

    I forgot a few days—but that’s alright, I’m enjoying this little photo adventure!

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