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  • Archive for November, 2012


    A couple of weekends ago we went to Lost Maples State Natural Area which is located in Vanderpool, Texas, a town west-northwest of San Antonio and south of I-10.

    Along the east loop, not far from campsite A, we found a sign delineating something called Monkey Rock. A middle aged couple were coming from the opposite direction headed towards the rock too, and I asked them if they had been before, to which they replied they hadn’t and were just as curious as us. The sign didn’t specify distance or anything else so I had no idea if we were in for a hike up the bluffs or what.

    Instead we found ourselves descending into the creek bed and found ourselves face to face with….a monkey rock!


    I tried to find some legitimate information on Monkey Rock but I didn’t find anything other than a lot of other hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts writing on blogs or sharing photos. This monkey rock is probably the most photographed monkey rock in the world….or at least Texas!


    They’ve taken their time getting plump and ripe. But the pink spheres of peppery goodness are starting to come in.

    Garden happiness.

    My niece and nephew came down to visit with my mom and sister in law a couple of weekends ago. I love being around my family and it is always fun to have them come visit. I can’t wait to get a couple sets of chairs to put outside so we can spend more time enjoying the yard and watching the deer.

    This time around my sister in law, Stephanie, opened the front door and found herself practically face-to-face with a deer in our side yard. Deer even enticed her to get out of bed shortly after she’d told the kids to let her lay in bed longer. See, deer are worth it—even if they are scratching up your trees and eating your favorite plants!

    And this one. Oh, this one….he is a handful. No, scratch that. He’s two handfuls. The bottle? It just kind of hangs in his mouth as his pacifier. He’s a strange one….but oh-so-adorable!

    Talk about a messy kid too! Goodness, food—everywhere! The mess on his face is the result of him turning his plate sideways and sticking it up against his head. Oh, there was laughter ensuing shortly after!


    I like Ketchup.
    Kid needs to have a tarp beneath him while he eats and then you can just take baby and tarp outside to hose off!

    We went to the zoo on one of the days they were here and I taught him how to look and sound like an elephant (raise you arm up next to your face and groan/horn like an elephant). It didn’t take long before all you had to do was ask him what an elephant did or sounded like and he’d raise his arm up. He doesn’t talk a lot (or talk clearly I should say, he says words you have to listen closely and decipher) yet but he sure does understand everyone well!

    As messy and loud as they were, it was incredibly quiet without them around. Looking forward to Christmas and spending time with everyone again!


    The habit of writing here definitely begets more writing. My head was cluttered and the urge to just be away from writing in this space overtook me. Spending time working on photos, writing, thinking of something to say, to share—all of it went away. It still isn’t back, but I will force myself to spend a little time writing here again and maybe I will be creative again.


    There are times that I just miss walking in the woods. The only thing I had to do was to walk and in the evenings I could read books.

    Sometimes it is just nice to live life and now worry about documenting or writing or creating.

    Just to be.

    And I get my husband back in a week or so; his project is almost over. Which means we can make serious progress around here, I won’t be so lonely and maybe we can get into some more adventures. I try with all my might not to think that we’re coming up on three years since we left Florida and went backpacking on the AT.

    Time. Flies. Too. Fast.


    Maybe this will be some inspiration for you (and me) if you are uninspired (like me) at the moment. A little sunstar through the Hoh Rainforest, some ferns dappled in morning glow.

    Uninspired lately to sit down and work on photos, to write, to blog, to paint the studio, to do anything creative. Now I am coming down with something that I haven’t pinpointed yet—doesn’t feel like a cold, feels like something possibly worse. Sore neck, extremely sore glands, back of my head hurts. Not sure.

    Hoping to return soon to wrap up some trip reports and get back to being creative. This holiday weekend will be full getting yard and house work done and maybe some furniture shopping if I think the masses of people are lessened late in the weekend (who am I kidding?).

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the U.S. and if you are reading from elsewhere in the world, I hope you have a wonderful Thursday and take a moment to count all of your blessings.




    Calm river flowing
    Morning sun shines through the trees
    Peace comes over me.

    A little unfocused….

    there, that’s better.

    Last weekend: hiking, husband, friends, wind, wine, Goldfish cracker, shooting stars, monkey rock, fall colors, overcast, afternoon sun, throngs of people in the middle of nowhere, wildflowers in Fall, spring water, lost in thoughts.

    Soon I’ll be wrapping up our hike in Washington state, showing you the beautiful sights of Lost Maples State Natural Area and a few other things around here. But for now, I am mellowing out here at home, doing things around here and looking forward to a weekend with family.

    How are you?

    (Don’t forget to drop by Sprout Dispatch this week and see what is going on!

    I’ve finally started working on painting the studio. The need to create and have a space that is organized and there for me to retreat to when I want has pushed me to get going with putting things together in here.

    One can of paint is all I bought but it is very clear that I will need at least one more. The deep eggplant paint on the walls is difficult to cover and is taking multiple layers of paint. I’m also painting the baseboards as I’m going. The off-white they were painted does not look good against the bright white of the walls.

    Listening to music via my mp3 player is my way of limiting the use of a computer in the studio. With a computer it is easy to go surfing the internet, but with the mp3 player I get my music and can stay focused too.

    This mixed media hibiscus piece of art needs to be completed. It, along with others like it, sit scattered, waiting for me to start finishing them.

    Almost done with these walls but still have some touchups once the paint dries. Then I’ll have to switch focus to the rest of the large wall and the one behind me in the photo.

    Hopefully at the end of November it will be a functioning space!

    The luffa we had growing at the community garden was still going strong when we finally left the garden a little over a week ago. There were fruits growing all over the fence and while I had taken some of the fruits throughout the summer to dry and keep the ‘sponge’ part of the plant for later, I wanted to have a few more.

    Here are three that I had let dry. The one on the far right I peeled when it was green and the fibers were clearly evident once peeled. I set it outside to dry and ended up leaving it far too long causing it to mold. The fruit in the middle was dried too much and had no fibers when I cracked it open, so I took seeds from it instead.

    Lots of seeds to pull out from the moldy luffa.

    Now the one on the left, when I cracked it open it revealed itself to be an intact ‘sponge’. YAY! I tried to shake out as many seeds as possible but I didn’t get them all. Maybe later when I get Chris to slice them up nicely the rest of the seeds will come out.

    Since I had semi-success letting the luffas dry outside, I decided to try that again with most of the fruits.

    However, I did go ahead and peel one of them in hopes of having the sponge reveal itself, but this one didn’t appear to work out so well. I’m leaving it out anyway to see what happens. Likely it will just attract ants, but we’ll see in a few days.

    I’ve seen luffa growing several places lately so maybe it is more common around here than I thought: one of our local plant nurseries, a neighbor’s house around the corner and at a random house in the boonies on I-10 somewhere between the Trinity River and Winnie, Texas. The fruits are unmistakable once they get large; the ones at the house down the street are h.u.g.e!

    Have you grown luffa? If the rest of the drying of the fruits is a success I’ll share the results.

    About a month ago I saw a post or link via Merriwether’s blog or Facebook feed regarding something called Farm Fest held at the Last Organic Outpost urban farm near downtown Houston. Ever since, I kept an eye out for it in hopes that I would be able to go. Timing worked out and I was able to go on my way home from Beaumont where I’d been visiting Chris over the weekend. (Merriwether was also there and I talked to him for a few minutes, learning about beautyberry jelly and the uses of the horrible invasive Chinese tallow.)

    I was a little nervous when I exited the highway and turned into the neighborhood the farm is located. It is not in a good part of town. I turned down the side street and decided if it looked too sketchy I’d turn around and just go home. When I pulled up to the road the farm was on I found it lined with cars and a couple of cops down at the end to keep the peace. I felt better and decided to go and check out the scene.

    There are times I feel like a liberal, hippie chick and then there are times I realize that I am far from as liberal and hippie as you can get. This was one of those times. That said, there were some decidedly non-crunchy people there too, but by far the populace were very granola. Very.. But it was good stuff, stuff I would love to see a little bit more of….it is like a small portion of what Seattle is.



    The entry fee to the festival was pay-what-you-can so I tossed several dollars their way after signing in. Several vendors were set up near the front of the farm with others spread throughout the garden and a couple of food trucks out towards the back. I wanted to eat lunch at the food trucks but they didn’t have a good vegetarian fare selection, which was surprising for the crowd.

    The garden itself was looking pretty good with a lot of the fall crops having just been started and in their seedling phase still. One thing that I wish the festival would have had is a tour of the garden with folks explaining how the garden/farm worked, what was growing etc. Maybe they had it later in the day (it also rained later that afternoon) but nothing was going on while I was there.












    As for the vendors I bought a lovely fruit and tea drink from a vendor whose name I can’t remember the name, a beautiful owl imprinted, clay tile necklace, and a cloth purse from a wonderful artisan whose name I do have but don’t have handy, and several vegetable plants from the Gunters. Initially I was concerned there weren’t going to be any plants for sale at, of all places a farm, but there were plants! I’d seen their veggies before at another nursery in town so it was really nice to actually talk to them in person. They were super nice and informative too! I listened as they explained things to other customers and I asked my own questions and talked over various plant and gardening items. In the end I bought olive leaf broccoli (used for leaves not, not the flowers), African blue basil (apparently a great bee attractor), red veined sorrel, and I think it was michilli cabbage (will have to double check the tag).

    All in all the Farm Fest was fun. If I lived closer I would probably volunteer on occasion down at the farm. Unfortunately it is well out of my way but if I am ever in the area I would love to drop by and check it out again.

    As a side trip afterwards I stopped at Buchanan’s Native Plants after finding them listed on the silent auction table for a gift certificate. I wrote the address down and drove over after. The nursery is small, but packed full of plants, and tucked away in a rejuvenated neighborhood on the north side of Houston, just inside the 610 loop. It was quite busy while I was there, too. I wandered around for a bit with nothing particular on my mind other than white beautyberry, but I only came out with a Passiflora ‘incense’ that was on the clearance section. I went back twice to look at it because in all honesty, I’m not sure if I can revive it. The leaves were yellowing, though some were still a nice shade of green, but it was struggling. But for $5 I thought it was worth trying. I repotted it and gave it some fish emulsion and will hope for the best!

    It was a nice day, being outside. Then it rained that afternoon and I got a nap in before I went back outside to do some yard work before night fell.

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