A New Find


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Earlier this summer I decided I wanted to get back into using a FitBit. After finding a very basic and cheap model for $20 on NextDoor, I was set up to start walking challenges with friends again. I’ve had a Garmin watch for several years now and actually love it, but there are less folks I know in real life using it as their preferred fitness watch. I ended up having to switch to a better FitBit later on that I found, also for a steal, because the cheap, basic version was cheap and basic and fell apart. Suffice to say, I lept back into walking challenges this summer and it was while getting some steps in last week that I noticed something different.

I had taken a different route, mostly because I wanted to check out some plants down at the pond that has the playground and I decided to head up a different street than I usually take. As is my usual habit, I was looking for interesting plants along the way, mostly to come back and grab seed from later on so I can propagate them at home. Since “my” milkweed lot has become unavailable to me I’ve taken a habit to notice where other milkweed is throughout the neighborhood in case I need to get more seed or ever come and get leaves for monarchs. Most are in right-of-ways that end up mowed at some point so it isn’t very reliable. And as I’m walking down this other street I notice a milkweed out of the corner of my eye.

I stopped, first thinking it was the typical green milkweed, Asclepias virdis, until I noticed flowers on another plant next to the one I had spotted. That was not green milkweed! It was zizotes, A. oenotheroides! The first time I had seen it wild and the first time I had found it here. We’re on the very eastern edge of its range, with plants mostly ranging from south and west of here, into central and south Texas and beyond into Arizona. There are some random sightings on iNaturalist north/north east of me and I think there’s one east of I-45 up in the Fairfield area, but it isn’t a common range for it to be in. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to see it in the neighborhood. Ironically, we had just bought a plant this summer for our cactus/dry bed and I was hoping it would set seed but it looks like I may have another resource for seeds—if it doesn’t get mowed down sometime this fall.

We’ve had a few delightful plant surprises around here lately that I haven’t shared with you but it goes to show what can evade notice if you aren’t paying attention.

August 2021 Rewind


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The first of August and the end of August seem like entirely different years. I came home from my weekend away from friends and peered out the window in the stairwell and thought the garden was looking lovely. That tropical cactus makes me so happy when I see it and it is growing like crazy right now.

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Rusty is becoming *my* cat in many ways. He’s also a bit of a jerk, albeit a cute jerk. He loves to cuddle while I watch tv and will sleep up next to me in bed only after he’s been very demanding about getting pets on his head. He loves his scritches but don’t lean in for a kiss because that’s just too much and he will bolt. But his favorite thing is to jump up in the middle of the night, thrust his head under my hands or arms and if I don’t respond to his demands he will start love biting and really demanding attention. Oh boy, that cat!

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Building has continued on what was my green milkweed lot. In mid-summer I thought that I might be able to access some of the milkweed that was growing back from being mowed in late spring but alas, they mowed again. Now all that is left are some spotty milkweed that is near the anchor line to a telephone pole, where a pile of glass is slowly being hidden by the grass and milkweed—a place I didn’t venture over to when I was getting milkweed. Now, the milkweed that is mowed is still very much alive, those root system are very much intact, but constant mowing isn’t going to allow for the above ground parts to grow again this season.

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The weekend before school was to start Forest and I had some sinus/cold issues and because we all know those symptoms are very overlapping with a certain virus, Chris went out and bought an at-home test. It was negative and after a few days of DayQuil/NyQuil I was feeling better and Forest was able to start school just fine. Speaking of that virus, since the Texas Education Agency announced districts needed to let parents know what was going on with cases, they started updating their dashboard which they hadn’t been doing. I was also able to check the DSHS data from last year—408 cases for students in our district all last year. Now? According to the dashboard this morning 256 total cases (students and admin) in the last three weeks since school started. The DSHS had a higher number than the school district is posting according to a spreadsheet that was last updated on the 22nd, because there were some presumed cases and the district didn’t advertise those. So far it seems only 5 students at Forest’s school have been positive but again, who really knows.

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A Sonic hot-fudge sundae is always good treat. Forest eats about 1/4 of it and then I finish it off.

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Racing a storm at Kleb Woods one day at lunch.

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Summer popsicle breaks…squeezing in as many as possible until the weather cools.

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And of course first day of first grade photos, with a cat (Miles) bombing the photos!

Onward to September.

Grabbing Hold of The Feeling


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We had stayed up beyond midnight the night before, talking and catching up despite that it was well passed our middle aged bedtimes. Bleary-eyed I woke up on Saturday morning as the sun broke through the curtain in the loft upstairs. I rolled over a couple of times, got on my phone to distract myself, and then finally convinced myself that I should get out of bed and do the thing I wanted to do, which was explore the pastures on the property of the AirBnB we were staying at.

Downstairs, Michelle and Stephanie were already awake. Steph had made coffee and the two of them were talking quietly while Alisa slept on the couch. The air-conditioner whirred in the background, attempting to cool the place down before it became stuffy and hot later in the afternoon. I wanted to sit down and have coffee with them but I also felt the tug to get outside and go for a hike. I wanted to roam the place, see what interesting scenes I could find and photograph. It isn’t often that I get to have the ability to free range as I used to and when I get the chance I savor it. I miss the days when I traveled and got the chance to randomly explore the area I was staying in. Walking blocks across the river and through St. Paul or finding random forest service roads in remote Montana—things I just don’t get to do anymore. I let the desire for coffee dissipate, knowing I would be gone an hour and coffee would be there when I came back, packed my camera bag with some snacks and water, and headed out the door.

Down the dirt road, I meandered west towards a pond that the owner had said we could drive up to put our kayaks in. Stephanie had brought some on a last minute whim and the whole weekend we spent our time chatting each other’s ears off and didn’t put a single kayak into the water. The owner had let the animals out to roam the pasture and the cows, sheep, and goats had found their way to the watering hole. Before that, one of the farm dogs had zoomed down to a smaller pond, went for a swim, and then zoomed over to me to say hello. I jumped back, not wanting to get soaked by farm dog slobber and pond slime.

I let myself through another gate, careful to close it behind me and the dog took off through another gate on her own adventure while I continued a bit further west to a grassier, unmown pasture. It quickly became apparent I should have brought hiking boots with a bit of a higher ankle coverage and instead I tromped through the grass in my tennis shoes hoping that snakes weren’t hiding underneath. I wanted to continue west but saw another house in distance and didn’t see a visible fence denoting property lines so I meandered southwest, following an island of trees in the pasture. Continuing to tromp through the calf to knee high grass, I found myself in quite a picturesque scene—billowing clouds, blue skies, golden-green grasses of mid-summer, and deep hues of greens in the islands of trees. If I’d had a blanket and a book I would have sat down to relax for a while, though I would have been drenched in sweat while doing so.

Instead, I moved south towards another barbed wire fence and decided to follow it back east as the grass was tromped down here from cattle and wildlife. A wall of shrubs and trees blocked the view to the south and I couldn’t tell if this was the property line or just another pasture fence but up ahead I saw a metal gate that looked enticing.

At the gate, it was apparent it was never used. On the east side of the fence was a creek and the habitat was overgrown. I climbed over the fence, a feat I haven’t done in years, but brought back lots of memories from hiking and work. Once on the other side, I was fairly certain that the drainage would continue east and drop me out at the pasture not far from behind the cabin and where a small pond was located. Again, I only had my tennis shoes so I had to do my best to find a place to cross the creek that wouldn’t coat my shoes in mud. I found it and lept across a small pool of water and climbed carefully up an eroded bank to arrive at a pretty little meadow tucked into the woods. There were what I assumed to be Carolina satyrs flitting about in the grass and I stopped to switch my camera lens back to the 75-300mm I’d had on to photograph some dragonflies in another pasture.

Carolina satyrs can be a bit spastic but if you sit still long enough they’ll pause and let you take photos. They were being too spastic for me and kept moving further into the sunlight, which was actually a good thing, but as I stopped to pause and watch where they went, I caught something out of my right eye. Another butterfly—a much bigger one! Perched on a tree limb was some kind of swallowtail, one I thought was perhaps a black swallowtail but some of the darker swallowtails confuse me and I wasn’t completely sure. The Carolina satyrs were removed from my brain and my focus immediately became the swallowtail.

It spooked, of course, but then proceeded to fly to another tree in much better light and I was able to take photos. A few at first just to say I’d seen it but then I’d pause and move up a step or two, take a photo, and continue to repeat the pattern until I was in a much better position for a really great photo. The butterfly wasn’t thrilled with me so it bopped over to another tree two more times and I continued my butterfly paparazzi maneuvers. Finally satisfied with this chance encounter I left the butterfly to live its life (and later found out it was a dark morph eastern tiger swallowtail, which are all females), and meandered through the pasture to the east. My spirits were quite high after the butterfly encounter and I still hadn’t sat down to eat a snack for breakfast. I continued walking east, stopping to admire a dead oak tree and look for anything of interest on it, and to savor the walk so far. I found a thistle blooming and inched closer to find a green lynx making itself at home, waiting for prey to harvest for lunch.

By this time I knew I had been gone about an hour and despite my desire to continue wandering the pastures, to see where the property went further south and to the east, I slowly made my way towards the cabin. I had hoped there was an opening in the fence further to the south but instead found myself walking the fence line north to the open gate, paralleling the little creek I’d crossed further west. And sure enough, I was dumped out onto the dirt road next to the pond behind the cabin. I restrained myself from turning south and heading over a small hill and disappearing in exploration and instead turned toward the cabin knowing that maybe everyone would be awake by the time I arrived back. The coffee cravings were coming on and cooling off sounded nice, too.

Inside, Alisa was still snoozing away on the couch and the other two were still chatting quietly. I was glad I had ventured out. I hadn’t done something like that on my own since January 2020 when I’d taken my trip to Florida. Trips on planes…they seem so foreign now.

It’s hard to believe all of this was only a month ago because with school starting and COVID cases rising to January levels again, it boggles my mind my friends and I were able to make this little trip happen. I’m still impressed Chris and I managed to cram in the activities we did into June and July this summer.

Until the next adventure….

Mid-Summer Nature Tidbits | Neighborhood Nature


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Summer is slipping away and I feel like I have had my head down and haven’t been enjoying nature the last couple of weeks. Everything is happening in a blur. But the monarchs are here again, not that they totally left this summer, but we’ve had more hanging around this last week than I’ve seen since spring.

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And they’ve been leaving evidence of their progeny all over the place.

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I get a kick out of watching them methodically chow down on a milkweed leaf!

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I have not been able to identify this caterpillar yet. I found it on the path leading to our office and moved it over to a nearby tree.

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A tersa sphinx moth graced us with its presence on our porch earlier this week! What a cool moth to get to see up close! It stayed throughout the day and flew away that evening when I opened the door to go for a walk.

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This moth was also on the front porch for several days before I realized it was a moth. From a distance I thought it was an old pipevine swallowtail chrysalis (which I’m finding in all of the oddest places now) but it turned out to be a yellow-collared slug moth!

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I interrupted this fawn while on a walk one evening. I glimpsed over and thought it was really cute that it had a leaf hanging out of its mouth so I took a few shots and said hello and left it to finish dinner!

Those are the little tidbits going on around the yard and neighborhood right now. I’ll spare you the mowed milkweed spots that just break my heart to see. Or the houses being crammed into empty lots.

We’re back to hunkering down a bit more here since hospitals are full and school is in session. I’m feeling the desire to get back to this space again and have been craving autumn since the end of July. I don’t want summer blooms and growth to end but I am looking forward a bit to slightly cooler weather again and some camping trips.

July 2021 Rewind


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It’s feels like the first of July was in one year and the end of it was in another. What a long month it was! Apparently at the first of the month I was hanging out with a toad friend from the yard. Thank goodness for photos because I had completely forgotten about this happening!

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Before Chris and I left for San Antonio the weekend of the 4th I noticed that the pipevine chrysalis that was on Chris’ man-cave door had eclosed with a very fresh pipevine swallowtail butterfly. I was loading stuff into the car and noticed it was clinging to the chrysalis so I went in to grab my phone and by the time I had returned it had dropped to the ground and was having a hard time with the wet wings. I managed to get it onto my hand and transport it to one of our plumeria pots where it arranged itself to dry its wings. It was gone when we returned a few days later so I assume it was successful in drying its wings and no damage had been done. Thankfully the pipevine caterpillar mayhem has settled down a bit—I think we had two or three broods of caterpillars this spring—and the pipevine plants themselves have been able to recover.

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In San Antonio we visited the botanic garden which was lovely as always….

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and went for a hike at Government Canyon State Natural Area. That was a hot and steamy loop!

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We ate down at the Pearl Brewery area and then took a walk along the riverwalk and apparently the San Antonio river now has an invasive apple snail problem. *facepalm* We saw posted signs about it at first not far from La Gloria, and then we finally noticed egg cases as we made our way back down the other side of the riverwalk. Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of logged sightings on iNaturalist but I made a few to contribute. Houston has some populations and it does seem to be getting worse in the last few years and now it looks like San Antonio is infested. Cool. More information here

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Our little AirBnB on the NE side of San Antonio—despite it being adjacent to some restaurants owned by the same folks, it was really quiet all weekend. Out back was a hot tub and we met a feral cat friend that of course we had to supply with a bit of food for a couple of days.

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Meanwhile, Forest was living his best life with my parent’s and his cousin Grayson! We picked him up on the 8th in Waco where my parent’s met us. We had lunch before departing for our next trip for my birthday (which I wrote up here) to Dripping Springs.

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The lovely Pedernales on a gloomy overcast day.

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Ugh, and then on the 21st we had a very dramatic day. This is Rusty—the “good” cat for the moment. Chris was out of town but heading back from MS and Forest and I were heading out the door to head for daycare and work. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning so we weren’t in a rush but I was also trying to be diligent about time and get out the door when we were supposed to. Well, Mr. Dusty thought he would take the opportunity to slip between our legs and escape out the front door. He tried this once a few months ago but I managed to get him back inside quickly. This time he bolted out the door, turned left and proceeded to freak the eff out.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my bags and crap for the day, holding my keys, Forest has his backpack and is kinda standing there watching this chaos unfold in slow-mo. I throw my keys at the cat to try to stun him into stopping but I miss. I drop my stuff, shut the door so Rusty doesn’t decide to join his brother and then run around the side garden to try to corral Dusty. He starts heading for the compost pile and I can just see him wanting to dart over the fence. I manage to get him back to the banana trees at the garden and I tell Forest to go and get some treats so I can lure Dusty. Dusty is cowering and I think, stupidly, that I can corner him and get him. Nope. Meanwhile, frickin’ Miles the feral saunters over because he’s just had breakfast and wants to say hi (he’s very friendly and I’m pretty certain he was a house cat at one point) but I know Miles is also an asshole and would pick a fight with Dusty.

Dusty runs off to the far end of the garden near some bricks we have piled up from the original garden when we built it and hides there before cowering between the actual brick border of the garden and the chainlink fence. Miles, interested in this chaos, saunters over to us again, and I’m like, I’ve got to get Dusty now before a fight breaks out. I grab Dusty but he is *not having it* and is fighting with all his might. He latches onto the fence and the passiflora vine on the fence and pulls hard enough that I can’t hold onto him and then leaps over the fence!!!!

I don’t see where he goes but we have a gate on that fence and can venture into the neighbor’s yard. It’s wooded on that side and the house and lot are empty because it is for sale (for more than double what its worth!) so I don’t feel bad wandering around the yard. I find the deer that hang out there and look around logs and such. No Dusty. I’m about to break down at this point because it’s been 5-8 minutes of hell, Forest has to go to daycare and my appointment is at 8:15.

I post to Nextdoor immediately with photos of Dusty and a brief description and then I call Chris to let him know what’s going on. Of course he’s in like western Louisiana and cannot help until the afternoon when he will get home. We decide to just take Forest to daycare and I will go to my appointment and then come home after and try to find him.

When I return about an hour and a half later I start wandering around, shaking the treat box and search the woods. Nothing. Then I meander to a couple of the outbuildings and at a rotting and falling down shed I peer in and find the little jerk cowering in the corner. *phew* I think. I feel better seeing him. So I go to our shed and grab our pet crate, thinking that I will put it at one end of the shed he’s in and open it and I’ll sit nearby and start throwing treat at him until he gets closer. Dusty is the one who is easier to grab and the friendlier of the two (though since this happened, Rusty has opened up a lot more) and I assumed (wrongly) that I will be able to grab him.

Nope. He sees me set it down and I’m about to sit down and hang out with him and he bolts. The door doesn’t shut so it was cracked and the back end of the building is rotting with many openings so it isn’t like I could lock him in there. He runs out the door and around the building. I follow him but it’s evident he has gone under the building at one of the several entrances that it appears racoons or armadillos have dug. Cool.

I call Chris and meanwhile I’m also you know, supposed to be at work. I also had a conference call to listen in at 11 and I was beginning to doubt that was going to happen. Plus, between all of this I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I’d planned to grab something after my appointment but didn’t because I wanted to get home to find Dusty. I ended up setting the live animal trap we had and then went to work to get my laptop, attend the conference call, and grab a second trap we had at the office. The rest of the day was spent working and wandering the neighbor’s yard calling Dusty and checking the traps. Chris finally came home and he did the same thing I had been doing and we could only hope that eventually Dusty would get hungry and come out and walk into the trap. In the meantime we moved put Miles into our shed temporarily with water, food, and litter so he wouldn’t feel compelled to follow us or to explore and chase Dusty off. Miles isn’t one of ‘our’ ferals–he showed up about two years ago with a ratty collar and was super friendly, though also a bit of an asshole at times because he wasn’t fixed. About six months later he disappeared for a few days and when he came back he was ear tipped and had been fixed. I found out our neighbors had taken him in and he has since mellowed a bit. Anyway, he’s kind of a neighborhood cat now but he hangs out in our yard often.

Night fell and no Dusty. Chris got up at 11pm to check the traps and make sure no racoons had been trapped. Nothing. Oh, to make matters worse we had seen two baby racoons in the yard that evening and when I went upstairs after putting Forest to bed I looked out the front door just to make sure Dusty wasn’t sitting outside but I found the baby racoons snooping around instead. I figured we’d be catching baby racoons all night. Also, we were really worried because earlier this summer we finally saw a coyote on one of our game cams. We knew they were around but we finally had proof. Coyote and a scared cat—not a good combo.

Chris woke up again sometime around 4:30-5am and went back out to check. I woke from my dazed sleep when I heard the jingling of the cage being put down and I knew Dusty was in it. Chris was very emotional about it and Dusty was home. Big fat *PHEWWWWWW*. I wasn’t looking forward to spending another day looking for him. We went back to sleep/rest until it was time to get up and to let Dusty get himself together and by the time we came down again he was like, Oh, I’m home, hi there—I’ll take some pets! You could tell Rusty was relieved, too. He had spent the previous afternoon wandering around looking for him and became very clingy. He even slept up next to me that night which was not something he really does.

Needless to say we watch all doors like a hawk when leaving and entering. I’ve even had to go around to the back door a few times to knock on it to get the cats to move back from the front door. I really do not want to repeat this again.

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I went on a local field job with Chris again last week—very hot and muggy. But it was nice to get outside for a few hours.

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And then I closed out the month with a weekend with a few friends. It has been nice to start seeing folks again! Between meeting different people for lunches or attending a outside birthday party a few weeks ago for one friend’s son, just getting to see people has been great. Of course now we’re back to dealing with out of control cases because folks don’t want to get vaccinated, who knows how long this is going to last. Which kinda brings home the point that early July and late July were so drastically different in our approaches. We’d (the adults) stopped masking in most situations but by the end of it we were putting it back on.

And now, onward to August! School starts next week!

Another Trip Around the Sun


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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 2021 Rewind


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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.

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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!

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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!

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My silly Forest after playing with paint in the studio one evening.

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I escaped to the field for a few hours of work one morning with Chris. It was blistering hot and humid and wow, my field work skills are super rusty.

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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!

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I’ve been dabbling in painting again, this time with watercolors.

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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.

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Chris did a bit of work on his dad’s plants in the greenhouse and we got to see what was growing there and relax a bit in their retirement condo.

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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.

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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!

The Garden in June (2021)


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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.

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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.

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Chris hacked the gardenia back to where most of the new growth was coming back from the freeze. It still looks ragged but give it a year and I think we’ll get some blooms next May!

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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!

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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.

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The echinacea were always a delight—this is before they truly started looking like themselves.

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I’m not sure the name of this bromeliad but it is one of Chris’ and I love it! The light hits just right and it is such a unique plant.

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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.

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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.

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I still love the way the light filters through on the side yard bed but I really wish we could figure out how to get some other stuff established over here. Far too many gaps in plantings.

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It was looking pretty good from this view earlier in the month. I need to get back on top of the weeds in the pathway, though!

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Bright spots out in the edible garden!

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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!

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Some of the very, very hungry caterpillars!

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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.

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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.

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And finally, a second photo of that gardenia later in the month with even more growth, particularly at the base.

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!

Searching for Denali


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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!

Morning Rainshower


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*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!

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