Thursday, April 28, 2016

bluebirds on the wing

Late March I noticed that bluebirds were nesting in the birdhouse on the bunker wall over at the shop. 

I got a shot of the eggs and then kept an eye on it.

By April 3 the babies had hatched.

April 6

April 7

April 9

April 11

April 13

Then I sort of forgot about them, had a rainy day, absorbed in the postcard and didn't check again til I got home from work at the antique store the next Saturday.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

one never knows what one is going to see

Yesterday, I was sitting at my work station and heard a raucous cry. I looked up to see a peacock walking parallel to the road across my neighbor's yard.

Grabbed my device and ran around to get some shots of it as it moseyed on down the road.

About 20 minutes later I looked up to see it in my side yard headed for the front. Again I dashed around to get some pictures.

It's not everyday you see a peacock strutting down the street in front of your house.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

a few things happened

There was the flood, which I went and checked on at Riverside Park for the last time Thursday about noon when the river was at 47.81 feet, creeping up to the sidewalk along Elm St., and then lost interest. The SW side of town did flood and I gather some people did get water in their homes this time. I don't know how many or if those troop carriers carried anyone anywhere. The Buckee's and the Nan-Ya plastic pipe plant and the Los Cukos Mexican restaurant on the river bank got water on their grounds but not in any of the buildings. It did not ever spill over into Elm which runs parallel. It crested at some time at some height and is now receding.

Besides that and obsessing over the yard all week, I went to get a bone density scan. Now that I have Medicare, I can do things like that. Not that it matters since I'm not planning to take the medication but it is good to stay on top of things. It's probably been 10 years since I last had one and yes, they say I have osteoporosis, then and still. I don't take the meds because they don't work and have heinous side effects. What those drugs do is prevent your body from breaking down old weak bone which prevents it from building up new strong bone. I'd rather have strong porous bones than weak dense ones and I do yoga for strength and flexibility. I got the results and again declined the medication. I asked for a copy of the report which said I was at high risk of a fracture but the summary further down gave a 12.5% chance of having an osteoporotic fracture in the next 10 years with a 3.1% chance of it being a hip. I'll take those odds especially since almost two years ago I fell hard on the concrete on my hip and wrist with no fractures.

And it was Earth Day on Friday. This is the first year I've missed posting on Earth Day. The theme this year (I hadn't realized it had themes) was trees. We need more trees. They are the breath of the planet. They are sentient, just like all life on Earth. I may do a belated post.

And I finally pulled out all the tomatoes and squash and beans I had planted one week before that frost in March. They stopped growing and never recovered. Five weeks in the ground after the frost, the root ball had not grown one iota. In fact the zucchini was smaller than when I planted it. I left in the peppers and the Japanese eggplant because they seemed to be recovering but now I think not. I replanted the tomatoes and the squash and beans.

And, of course, Prince died. When asked how it felt to be the greatest guitar player in the world, Eric Clapton supposedly replied, I don't know, you'll have to ask Prince.  Below:  Prince plays the blues

And a squirrel knocked the tea cup off the hanger...again and broke the saucer...again. I haven't fixed it yet since I need to find a new saucer.

And I hauled everything over to the shop and set up to photograph the magnolia leaves.  

And finally, tired of waiting on this job (yes still waiting again after having just gotten started, it's been a week and a half now), I got out my model making stuff and am making another stab at the little leaflet for the pink flower, you know, the one that turned into the alien geode. I'm making it a little different this time, flat and more stylized. I also started getting the bark waxes set up for casting.


Friday, April 22, 2016

and now Prince

Another amazing talent gone. The world is getting much poorer this year. Prince has died. Much too young, much to soon, much too unexpectedly.

Fly high Prince


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

here we go again

Once again Houston and environs got hammered with copious amounts of rain in a short period of time and the city is flooded due to urban sprawl and gentrification of all the old inner city neighborhoods. It's all wall to wall concrete now, a veritable sea of concrete. All the farm and ranch land is being bought up for more subdivisions as Houston spreads outward covering it all in concrete. There is no where for the water to go, no land to soak it up, the bayous can only hold so much. Areas are flooding that never flooded before during the same type of events. It's becoming a yearly thing.

just one of many parts of the city under water

Last year over Memorial Day weekend, the Colorado River flooded and crested here in Wharton at just over 44'. Low lying areas where the banks of the river are not steep and/or deep got flooded but it did not exceed it's banks at Riverside Park downtown. I posted about that here and here. Now we are facing a similar flood.

This year the powers that be have decided that the river's going to flood and we're all going to die so they have eight army troop carriers, a truck mounted crane, and several jeeps waiting in the Civic Center parking lot for rescue operations.

When I took these pictures at 2 PM Tuesday, the river was at about 35'.

Noon today it was almost 42' and they expect it to rise another 6+ feet cresting tomorrow.

Might be time to pull out the canoe and locate the paddles.

Just kidding. While we are technically in the flood plain, we are high enough so that if the river does spill over it's banks, it shouldn't affect us surrounded as we are by farm land, though the old timers here say this area has flooded in the past.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

wherein I don't talk about the yard except maybe just a little

After a day in the city doing work stuff and BSing for a couple of hours with an artist friend I don't see often, last Wednesday both our jobs told us to hold up there Nellie, not so fast. I was set to finish the door panel and had the installation set tentatively for this week when the designer told us to hold off on the install for two or three weeks. Not ready for the glass so of course I didn't do the final day of work on the door panel. The same day, the art consultant asked me to put my progress on pause until she got some feedback from the client on the compositional sketches I had sent in. Well, alrighty then. At this rate it may be fall before we finish the A&M job.

Actually, it was a good thing because now that I have started on these two jobs, I was reminded that I volunteered to do the art work and ordering for the postcard for the open house a group of us have all agreed to do the first weekend of June at our glass blowing friends' studio, similar to the one we do in December but this time, it is not just glass. I should have been working on that while I was waiting for The Job. This is my life. Dick around until I see the deadline looming, so I spent the rest of last week working on that.

What else. The turtle pond is finally clearing up again I'm glad to see. I guess it's been about 6 weeks since I upset the balance in the filter.

And I got the azaleas in on Sunday.

Just in time because Sunday night the heavens opened and it rained all night and all day yesterday. We got between 3.5” - 5” depending on which rain gauge I looked at. Houston got 16” and is once again flooded. We had water standing in the side yard but that's pretty standard after a hard rain. Water was all the way up to my daughter's house in the city though and she did get a little in the house, the low room that is the converted garage. Fortunately they were awake from the storm and moved the furniture out and got the cars all up on the lawn.

So, I was sitting here at my computer with the dog laying in my lap when all of a sudden she was up, alert, jumped down, started barking as she ran over to the door. I followed and saw this which had come in the back door with the screen propped open so the dog can come and go as she pleases. Seems something else tried to come in out of the rain. It's a young rat snake about 2 feet long, harmless to humans and dogs. I used the broom to sweep it back outside and the screen door is now firmly shut. It didn't try to strike me, just seemed annoyed that I was trying to get it out of the house.

Just another day in paradise.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

the west and north sides

Just a note about the images of the Big Backyard...the distances look greater than they do when actually standing out there.

So while I have made gardens in the Little Backyard (the roses, althea, and the large shrubs were already here) and the Big Backyard (ditto with the long day lily bed), I have done almost nothing to the west side and absolutely nothing to the front besides neglect it to the point that two of the roses died as well as a big althea and another is dying.

Standing in front of the barn looking at the west side. There are two oaks and a large white crepe myrtle (the one with the climbing roses in it that the arbor is next to) which keep this side in near total shade except in winter when it gets afternoon light. It's mostly ferns, english ivy, and azaleas. The one big oak had half a dozen small scrawny struggling azaleas under it so I built the curving bed around the other oak and moved them there where they promptly died. Bought new azaleas on sale which were so pot bound that out of 10, only 6 survived and only one of those remains planted there. The red crinum lilies that I dug up from the city house are in there now but one clump will be moved over to the shop. The chinese fringe flower shrub was already there as well.

Standing at the end of the driveway looking at the west and north sides.

Across the front which is also mostly in shade except out by the street...roses, yellow bells, purple coneflowers, crepe myrtles, altheas (also called rose of sharon), two huge yew trees one on each corner of the house, chinese fringe flower shrubs, yellow butterfly iris that I need to move, society garlic, gerber daisies, ruellia ground cover, easter lilies, ferns, red tip photinias which are so large they block the view of the house from the street. I put in the beauty berry in front which doesn't show up in these pictures).

The northeast corner.

The east side, the most neglected side, also in near total shade except in winter from the cypress and red bud in my neighbor's yard though it does get some morning light...another crepe myrtle, althea, and shell ginger. I pulled out the common cannas that were here and moved the tall ferns there on the left that were originally in the Little Backyard where the yellow butterfly ginger is now. They are just now coming back from winter.

When we moved in here with the exception of the yellow bells and the easter lilies and the day lilies almost every single thing that blooms the previous owners had in the yard was either red, pink, or purple.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour of the yards. I'm headed out now to get those azaleas in the ground.  If you missed either of the first two posts you can see them here - the Little Backyard and here-the Big Backyard.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

the Big Backyard

As I mentioned, the Big Backyard is mostly in shade most of the year due to the three mature pecan trees and the maple and the magnolia and the new shop barn on the west side. The old vegetable garden lower left corner on the east side, the barn upper right corner on the west side. That fourth tree in the center far distance is a native pecan and our property line is about 5 feet beyond it.

Looking along the side of the house and garage to the magnolia and maple.

The barn with it's little shade garden where the buddha hangs out. I'm still working on it and, in fact, robbed the edgers to put someplace else last weekend. In front of the door on the right is where the little red lilies were blooming but they've gone by now.

The buddha sits patiently waiting for me to finish his garden.

Behind the barn along the west side is the long day lily bed and while I do have day lilies other places, most of them are in here. This garden was here when we bought the place but I have added to it. From the left...the baby blue eyes going to seed, morning glory bush, confederate rose, society garlic, swamp lily, day lilies, bulbine, firecracker bush, elephant garlic, nile lilies, rose, day lilies, amaryllis, spiderwort, daylilies, ground orchid, and dewberries on the end. There's also some salvia and verbena in there. The evening primrose in front is past it's prime.

Beyond the shade on the back south side is this little garden. It started out 4' x 4' for strawberries and has been added onto. This is where the poppies were so gorgeous last year. Right now it has crinum lilies and bush beans and once I clean out the evening primrose on the left end, I'll plant okra in there. Eventually, I'll put the red hibiscus there...maybe.

Beyond it you can see the old old burn pile which is now the wild flower patch. This lies just outside our property line. The bluebonnets and evening primrose are fading and the salvia, the queen anne's lace and clasping leaved coneflowers are now coming into bloom. Past that the green mound is the new old burn pile (we haul most everything over to the burn pile at the shop now) which is sort of a brush pile and surrounded by field sunflowers and beyond that the 12 Acre Field.

The southeast corner has this storage shed and little garden. You can see the beginning of the Wild Space and the rain tree and an oak behind it on the right. There's also a big cedar on the left. We don't use this anymore now that we have the barn and I expect one day we will see it has fallen into the ground as the Wild Space is doing it's best to encompass it.

Besides the native peach tree which was here, I put in bulbine, day lilies, philippine lily (the big shrub), miniature gladiolas, spider lilies, and amaryllis.

Moving inward to the pecan on the southeast side is my planned garden for the azaleas. One is already in the ground and the others in pots.

It looked like that but now looks like this after last Sunday (those are the edgers I took from the buddha's garden).

Next: the side and front