From Exploring the Woods to Peering into a Microscope

Happy day. I am enjoying my second Texas Master Naturalist conference very much. It’s so nice to just enjoy learning with no pressure at all.

The prairie area

This morning I went on a field trip to the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Wow, the people presenting me so much about the area. My head is full of little tidbits about prairies, forests, and riparian areas.

I also saw so many beautiful seed pods and fall plants. Lots of photos were taken by everyone.

Dew and webs.
iNaturalist says this is liatris.
Continue reading “From Exploring the Woods to Peering into a Microscope”
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Hello and Look at My Flower Photos

I’m here in Rockwall at our Master Naturalist conference (starts tomorrow). We are enjoying the unnatural beauty of where we are. The place we are at is called Rodeo Goat. Here’s Jackie holding my beer.

It’s pretty amazing. It has a little lime in it and some herbs. Wow.

Because I’m here with the Master Naturalists, I want to get all my cultivated plants out of my system. I promise I took more native photos.

I must share the monarch and queen butterflies too. So pretty.

Queen

I’ll write more later, but I assure you it is quite pleasant at the Hilton in Rockwall.

Book Review: Homegoing

See, it’s epic.

Here’s the latest book I read for the neighborhood book club. I had to read through it as quickly as I could (meaning with all my other stuff, it still took a week), because my queue is full of good stuff (Elton John memoir arrived yesterday!). It’s another first novel, this time by Yaa Gyasi, daughter an immigrant from Ghana and quite a gifted storyteller. See, folks, some of those immigrants do indeed contribute to society. Ahem.

Homegoing (2016) is one of those epic novels (it says so, right on the cover!) that span many years of one family. Each chapter is from the perspective of a different family member, starting from a maternal ancestor in Ghana and ending up at the present day. Luckily, there is a family tree at the beginning of the book.

Hint: Bookmark the family tree. Even though there is a pattern to the chapters, you’ll probably want to remind yourself of who’s who and how they’re related.

me
Continue reading “Book Review: Homegoing”

Fire Hair

Most of you know that I’ve been playing with hair color for the past few years. It has been blue, maroon, pink, purple, and white. Why?

Purple.

Who knows? It was fun. Especially since I started using this Overtime stuff. It doesn’t hurt my hair and fades fast enough that I don’t get sick of any color. And they are also excellent conditioners with ingredients you recognize. They smell like mint and rosemary, too. Nice.

Blue!

Today I tried one of their intense colors made for dark hair. These have a lot of pigment. I bought the intense rose gold and red. I let Anita decide which one to try, and she picked the red.

The Overtone for dark hair!

I’m glad I had gloves. My hands turned really red when I rinsed, too. I had an old towel and plan to sleep on an old pillowcase.

Cooking for 20 minutes.

I’m happy, though, that even my brown hair shows the color. It will be fun to see how it fades!

Red. Not orange. Not pink.

One day I’ll let my hair be normal. It looks fine that way, too. I just like having fun with impermanent color. I’m scared of permanent things like tattoos or piercings.

How about you? How do you express your wild side?

Weirdly Alluring Small Towns

We’ve been coming to the Cameron area since 2011, when we first visited the land that would eventually become the Hermits’ Rest. At first, the town didn’t appeal to me much. It was really run-down and there was very little to do, which was fine, since we were spending all our time in the woods and hanging out with the ranch neighbors.

Lee and I like it here.

Now, in addition to the ranch neighbors, we have Mandi’s family across the road. Then we have my sister living in the town where we do our business, Martha and Mike, our UU church friends, have moved up here, Kathleen has joined us to set up the new business (plus her husband now visits), and I’ve been meeting more and more people who have been here just a couple of years. On top of that, the town is blossoming. Yow!

Now when I look around, I see new restaurants, spiffed up businesses, and even new homes. Yeah, parts of the town are still a mess, but they’ve actually begun improving the infrastructure, like the water lines. Yay!

She’s still dubious

Even my Austin housemate, Anita, who does her best to avoid the ranch (she has her reasons) is going to buy a house in town and fix it up (a really cute house in a pleasant tree-lined part of town).

At dinner last night, we were talking about how much we enjoy small town living. Literally NONE of us would have ever thought we’d say that. Even my sister seems to like some aspects of the place, though we know it isn’t ideal for her. What is it about the small-town life that has made us feel good?

Kathleen and Chris like it, too!

Well, we meet new people easily, and since you are always seeing everyone in town, it’s easy to become friends, or at least pleasant acquaintances. The lack of traffic means you can get anywhere in fewer than 15 minutes. Even the limited shopping and dining choices mean you really get to know the shop-keepers and restaurant folks.

My favorite part is that people take care of each other and make sure they are okay. Even people who aren’t all that fond of each other have some kind of “town loyalty.” It makes me happy to spend time in our little town that’s trying to become its very best possible.

Doing Nothing Strenuous

I said I wouldn’t do anything strenuous today. I think I succeeded. We just had a nice family day followed by an equally nice Sunday dinner for 7.

Autumnal bovine

The weather was so nice that we started outside a lot. I put up some fall decorations I’d found, walked with various dogs, and tried to catch up with writing. That’s why this is so late. Lots to write.

Unnatural spider

We even had a visit from Mandi, who brought her son by to talk to Chris about welding. Chris got to show him all the stuff on his truck, which is interesting to welders.

Walks are fun. Kathleen found a snakeskin. Nature.

Dinners

Our Sunday night dinners have taken on a life of their own. Whoever is in town and not sick shows up. Actually a sick lesson even sent their food. That was sweet.

I had to get this beautiful sky. It seems so big out here.

Tonight Kathleen wanted me to take pictures of her with Martha and Mike, while we were out walking, since we are all dinner buddies. Then we sat on the porch. My sister made lovely home-made lasagna, Kathleen made dessert, and we all laughed as usual.

Wine makes a walk fun.

Oh yes. We spent much time looking at the moon. Group activities for the nature living set!

The moon behind clouds. The two white dots are Mandi’s house.

Am I the Energizer Bunny?

Whew! I’m about worn out, but I’m finally getting a break from two straight days of nonstop work, fun, and volunteering to take a blogging break. I feel sorta like young Zack here looks. In fact, that rug looks mighty tempting right about now.

Vlassic is checking to make sure Mandi’s son Zack is still alive.

Yesterday was probably the busiest day we’ve ever had at the Cameron office. Luckily I crammed in a whole bunch of reviews and stuff for my “real” job in by showing up extra early to the office. After that, we had meetings, lunch meetings with Kayla our “corporate lawyer-elect,” decisions to make, etc., straight through until I had to leave for my next event.

Mandi took this to show I at least sat down a bit at the festival.

Before I could blink, my friend Paula showed up to drive us to the away football game in Jarrell. It was a weird drive, because pieces of gravel kept hitting her windshield and we were sure it would break eventually, but it didn’t. Road work is happening all over the area. We made it, though, and even had a light meal of caprese sandwiches (much better than football stadium cuisine).

Did I mention the temperatures fell? Thursday it was 99 degrees, and Friday is only got up to around 56. And we got more rain! So, it was a bit chilly and sprinkly at the game, but never mind. We had lots of fun watching the football and the band. By the time I got home, though, whew. It was late.

Today, Still Going and Going

Somehow I managed to wake up this morning and greet Kathleen and her husband, Chris, who drove over to see us and attend our new business’s first public event at the Steak, Stein and Wine Festival. As usual, I over-committed and ended up representing that business, Milam Touch of Love, AND the Master Naturalists. But, I had a good time.

Steak, Stein and Wine

Once I got there, I went into Social Suna Overdrive and networked my head off. I talked to every single vendor (and got some nice stuff). I talked to people who came by our booth. I talked to Master Naturalists, the mayor, other city officials, the Sheriff, numerous police officers, the wine vendor, the musicians.

See, Chris was here.

Once Lee, Kathleen, and Chris arrived, we went to the open house at the new Central Avenue Bistro, along with many other people who were DYING to see the renovation. It did not disappoint. The people who have been working on it went above and beyond to create a beautiful setting, indoors and outdoors. And the new kitchen is almost to clean and shiny to cook in.

Lee and Kathleen semi-impressed with the new bistro.

Following that, we continued to network and look at stuff. I think everyone had a pretty good time, and the weather was amazing. Such a relief from the previous couple of months. It makes you want to live in central Texas on days like this!

Some of the exhibit the Master Naturalists had in the museum.

Well, I’ve enjoyed this half hour break between events, but now I have to get ready for the fancy steak dinner downtown, where we’ll get to hang out with friends and, I hope, relax a bit. Tomorrow I do nothing strenuous!