Wednesday, April 21, 2021

chilly nights and spring flowers

*I'm keeping this up for a while to make sure everyone who checks in now and then sees it. I've gone ahead and removed the 'follow by email' function since it's going to be dysfunctional starting in July. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until then. I've reinstalled the blogger 'follow me' function. I initially took it down because my follower count stayed stagnant for years. Once again, if you do follow by email you will have to be more pro-active to see my posts either through bookmarking or getting a blogger account (no blog required) and follow that way but you will still have to go to it instead of it coming to you. One person suggested that readers use Feedly. I don't know anything about it but you might check it out. And I'm supposed to be able to download the subscriber list. If that happens I can create a group and email the notification of a new post myself so I'll look into that.

Before I get on with the post, can anyone tell me why, when I click on an image in my blog and the window opens with all the pictures as icons across the bottom, my image shows up small instead of the full size image it is. When I click on images in other blogs to 'embiggin', they open full size. There must be a setting somewhere but I can't find it.


Our brother John left for home early Friday morning. The weekend continued to be overcast and chilly with the sun finally starting to come out Monday. Yesterday it was completely clear and warm. I did some weeding around the day lilies Monday and finally got the 7 little banana trees planted after I dug them up to reclaim the border of the flower bed which I still have not reconstructed. Over the weekend I planted another bunch of zinnia sprouts but I don't have high hopes for their survival. I don't know why they never took off.

Another survivor, the purple orchid tree finally put out new growth from the roots. I'm sure that's the last of the survivors. I'm giving the hibiscus, bougainvillea, star of india, and the desert rose trumpet flower bush 10 more days but they are dead. And another surprise fatality, the rain tree at the back of the property died. I'm actually not sad about that as it was not a pretty shaped tree in that it is crowded by an oak and wild grape vines are constantly invading it and every damn seed pod it dropped produced trees. I'm tired of pulling up rain trees everywhere. And while the big tallow tree in the little backyard came out fully, the two small ones along the drive are mostly dead from about halfway up. My neighbor's small tallows have done the same.

Spring keeps getting interrupted here what with the arctic freeze and the near week of overcast and chilly weather last week and the cool nights this week so far. The larkspur and the love-in-a-mist are just now starting to bloom, way behind schedule but other things have come and gone. I worked out in the yard all day yesterday, finally decided to put the porterweed in the ground so I did. Then I fertilized the azaleas and roses, weeded the front flower bed. My friend Debbie came by with a small volunteer Texas mountain laurel tree from her big one and I got it potted so I can baby it til it gets over the shock of being dug up. Meanwhile I'll figure out where to plant it. Then I went around looking for the poison ivy and pecan trees I had spotted but damn if I could find them again.

More pictures of blooming things...

some things really liked that frigid week like the pink roses all over town, I've never seen them bloom this profusely.

And the pink climbing rose as well.

The canopy overhead was full of roses.

The mock dogwood also seemed to like it.

The poppies continue to be brilliant.

And the indigofera is outdoing itself this year.

It's third spring, the columbine finally decided to bloom.

The maroon japanese iris are also plentiful but that may be because they have multiplied.

The yellow angel trumpet is unbelievable. There are 17 open flowers in this picture. I've had two in the ground (both now dead) but neither ever got this big or bloomed this much as this one in the pot. The minute I stepped out yesterday evening the scent was so strong I could smell them on the other side of the house.

Ten flowers in this picture.

Most of this is still blooming but the pink roses and mock dogwood have gone by.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

another day trip

*Minor changes to the blog layout. I've gone ahead and removed the 'follow by email' function since it's going to be dysfunctional starting in July, no sense in more people signing on that way for just two months or so. I assume those who already get email notices will continue to get them up until then. And I've reinstalled the blogger 'follow me' function. I initially took it down because my follower count stayed stagnant for years and it was depressing to look at. Once again, if you do follow by email you will have to be more proactive to see my posts either through bookmarking or getting a blogger account (no blog required) and follow that way but you will still have to go to it instead of it coming to you.

Our trip to Washington-On-The-Brazos was on Monday. Tuesday besides going to the grocery store and taking the recycling, I worked over at the shop yard cutting up all the dead branches to a more manageable size from the huge yellow bells, purple orchid tree, and the morning glory bush that I pruned off last Sunday hauling it to the burn pile. Wednesday we had planned to go to Galveston for the day but John, our brother who is a very handy guy, got started on a project for Pam at her house replacing the faucet in her sink with a dragon faucet. 

What should have been a simple switch out took one and a half days, two trips to Lowe's, three trips to El Campo, one trip to Tractor Supply, and an order from Amazon and lots of muttering and stomping around. While that was going on, I planted another batch of my zinnia sprouts which may or may not survive.

So we went to Galveston, a two hour drive away, on Thursday instead. Galveston has a touristy historical district called The Strand full of grand old restored buildings,

bars and restaurants, and touristy and other shops. We walked down to one end, had lunch, and walked back on the other side going into this shop or that  where we saw more questionable sodas and clone serum among other things.

Did they really expect to sell clothespins for $1 a piece?

Seed pod nativities,

if only.

We thought these were hilarious back in the far corner of a christmas shop.

Flavored salt and wild beast jerky

and jewelry for what ails you (the full list had about 40 items on it).

Part of a big mural on the side of one building.

Then we drove down the seawall and eventually parked and walked down the stairs to the beach. It was overcast and chilly and windy so we didn't tarry long.

About 4:30 we headed back home and were about halfway when Pam's car emitted a soft little whistle. What was that, I asked. Don't know she says, no warning lights on the dash. A few minutes later, another sort of a thunk and a whizz and the battery light came on and the power steering failed. John took over driving Pam's Honda Pilot and we managed another half hour before the automatic transmission started thunking and clunking and jerking so we pulled into a gas station about a half hour from home. John lifted the hood, well, there's the problem, the serpentine belt is gone. The belt that causes all sorts of things to work, like the alternator and the power steering. Called AAA and a tow truck would be forthcoming. Meanwhile I called Marc to come pick John and I up since only one person could ride in the tow truck. He arrived and we waited till the tow truck arrived which was about 20 minutes after that, it was our own Poor Farms wrecker service in Wharton and since he knew where to take the car Pam rode back with us.

So, as they say, all's well that ends well. Pam talked to the mechanic Friday morning and it seems a bolt broke off which caused the loss of the serpentine belt. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

a day trip and a little Texas history

You may have noticed I've been mostly MIA this last week. That's because my brother has been in town and he and Pam and I have been out and about. Before I get on with this post I want to inform you, my readers, that Blogger is getting rid of the 'follow by email' function starting in July. If that is how you get notifications of a new post by moi, you will no longer receive notifications via email after that time. So they have given instructions on how to download those subscriber contacts and migrate them to another service but have not suggested another service. Consequently, if you still want to be privy to the minutia of my life, you will have to either bookmark my blog and check it however often you like (I generally try to post every other day) or get a blogger account (no you don't have to have a blog) and follow that way after I put the 'follow this blog' widget back on the sidebar. In either case, you will have to be a little more proactive and in the meantime I will try and migrate you to another email notification service if there is one. It may be beyond my personal ability though.

Now for some Texas history. Last Monday we went to Washington-On-The-Brazos state park. W-O-T-B was a community on the Brazos River at a ferry crossing in the hill country an hour and a half drive north of Wharton. The region, at the time Mexico won their independence from Spain in 1821, was mostly populated by Native American tribes. To help protect the area from horse thieves and Native American attacks, Mexico invited Americans to settle there and many did, lured by the large land grants available, bringing their slaves with them and while the Mexican government abolished slavery in the 1820s it allowed a temporary exemption in Texas. By the 1830s the population had increased significantly with tensions rising between the American settlers and the Mexican government over the attempt to end slavery, end immigration from America, and taxes that Mexico imposed. Things deteriorated rapidly when Santa Anna became president of Mexico in 1833 and abandoned the Mexican constitution that the American settlers had agreed to live under. As Santa Anna attempted to control the unruly Texians, war became inevitable.

The first battle with Mexico came after Texian settlers in Gonzales on October 2, 1835 told the Mexican army to “come and take it”. A few days later, the colonists surprised the Mexican army at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad. The short battle confirmed the Texas Revolution was under way. In November 1835, delegates, known as The Consultation, met at San Felipe. The group agreed to form an interim government, appointing Henry Smith governor and Sam Houston as head of the army. By the end of 1835 Texians had managed to take San Antonio from Mexican General Cos giving the settlers the impression they had won the war. But the Texian fighters, even though they had a cause they believed in, were a scraggly disorganized force and by February, the fledgling government had disintegrated, they failed to reinforce San Antonio thinking it would take months for Santa Anna to retaliate and when word of Santa Anna's approach came in late February 1836, the few defenders left in the city took refuge in the Alamo Mission.

Meanwhile on March 2, 1836 the Council in Washington drafted and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. A few days later a rider who managed to escape the Alamo arrived to gather up reinforcements. General Houston told the Council to continue their work of designing a government and constitution while he gathered up a group of men and headed to San Antonio only to find the Alamo surrounded with no hope of getting through. They returned to Washington and the Alamo fell on March 6 as did Goliad later in the month and Santa Anna turned his attention to the rest of the Texian upstarts. As Santa Anna approached orders went out to the townspeople to gather up only what they could carry, pile everything else up to be burned, and to flee. As the last folk left, they torched the town leaving nothing behind for Santa Anna's army to sustain themselves with. This, the Runaway Scrape, was repeated in other communities as Santa Anna approached.

General Houston and Santa Anna kept tabs on each other as they traveled on opposite sides of the river eventually meeting up at San Jacinto. Facing each other across the river, Santa Anna decided that the Texians would not cross the river and attack and so he ordered his army to spread out, have lunch, and siesta, a fatal mistake. General Sam Houston's army crossed the river and surprised a napping Santa Anna who was taken prisoner and Texas won their independence. 

This village – site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and first capitol of the Republic of Texas – began in 1822 as a ferry crossing, here the historic La Bahia Road (now Ferry Street) spanned the Brazos River.

In 1834, a townsite was laid out and named, probably for Washington, Georgia, home of a leading settler.

In 1835, as political differences with Mexico led toward war, the general council (the insurgent Texas government) met in the town. Enterprising citizens then promoted the place as a site for the convention of 1836 and, as a 'bonus', provided a free meeting hall, thus Texas' Declaration of Independence came to be signed in an unfinished building owned by a gunsmith.

The provisional government of the Republic was also organized in Washington, but was removed March 17, as news of the advancing Mexican army caused a general panic throughout the region. The townspeople fled too on March 20, 1836, in the 'Runaway Scrape'.

After the Texan victory at San Jacinto, the town thrived for a period. It was again the capitol of Texas, 1842 – 1845; and became center of Washington State Park in 1916. It now contains historic buildings and 'Barrington' (plantation), home of Anson Jones, the last president of Texas.”

Now the site of all this history is a state park. Since nothing of the original village remains, a group reconstructed the unfinished building owned by the gunsmith on the original site of that building using the same materials and original construction techniques of the time.

I took the next picture standing at the lookout where the ferry was supposed to be but the topography must have changed because it's a steep drop down to the river from there. That brown streak through the middle behind the greenery is the Brazos River.

They also have an amphitheater in the park

and as I rounded the corner of the far retaining wall of the stage in front of the rows of benches I came face to face with a huge black snake, 5' - 6' long. It startled me...snake! big snake! I shouted...I startled it and it turned pronto and zoomed back into it's bolt hole in the retaining wall.

And the biggest magnolia tree I have ever seen. I couldn't get it all in the picture.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

a week of social forays

I've been out and about a few times the last week now that I'm fully vaccinated (and still wearing a mask giving Biden his 100 days though I'm noticing fewer and fewer people around here wearing them). Friday a week ago, Robin and I did some of shops. I found a flower made out of crystals for $5

and in a different store, special today only, these and two cabinet door pulls for $3 (Theresa was feeling generous I guess)

but I also saw some head scratchers like these painted oyster shells and these things whatever the hell they are, and gears, 

and this.

how long since you've seen one of these?

And apparently eye caterpillars are a thing now.

Then we went into the new candy shop (not handmade, disappointingly) with some really weird things like these sodas

(there was also a birthday cake flavor soda) and all things gummy like gummy sushi, gummy hamburger, and gummy pickle.

And what's with all the weird pickle flavored things. Just eat a pickle!

Last Saturday, we went to our first gathering since March of last year, really longer than that since it had been several months already, a birthday party for one of Marc's younger brothers who is turning 60 and not happy about it. There were brothers and sisters and cousins and nieces and nephews and kids and grandkids and friends. It was outside, all the older generation has been vaccinated at least, and it was nice to see everyone after so long. We lost three people last year, none covid related, 2 from the previous generation which leaves only Marc's mother, and one from our generation, Marc's brother-in-law and we did not attend any of the funerals.

And now my brother is in town from Washington state, staying across the street with Pam. SHARE was slow Thursday so I left early and we all went to an estate sale. Oooo, icky nasty place, some good stuff inside and out but you just didn't want to touch anything in that old smelly falling apart doublewide. I came away with four plastic pots a fairly decent size, old and will probably start to break apart in a couple of years but they only cost me a quarter each and this which I'm not really sure what it's purpose was but I'm going to use it for a plant stand.

And yesterday, Saturday, Pam and I and John did the shops in Wharton and Glen Flora. First stop the farmer's market that sets up for 6 – 8 weeks spring and fall at which there was not one single vegetable because it's still too early for people's gardens to be producing but they did have some baby ducks

and baked goods, tamales, various craft items, and honey.

One shop in Wharton is run by people who were/are collectors so a lot of their inventory comes from their own collections...elephant statues, clocks, pedal cars among other things,

and most recently marbles.

Plenty of other stuff in there too like antiques and unusual wind chimes and coins and metal painted yard art outside, the place is stuffed full of stuff.

And then Marc met us at a local restaurant for a late lunch, the first time we've eaten out in a restaurant since December 2019.

Then yesterday afternoon I went over to my daughter's place because grandgirl Autumn is in town for the weekend and had a nice visit there.

Today I guess I'm going to try and do a little work in the yard.