Mellow Yellow Overload

Now, for something completely different. I did a fun (to me) project yesterday that didn’t require any human contact nor leaving the property where our office is. I decided to see how many different yellow flowers I could find in the weed/wildflower collection known as our empty lot. As you can see, I managed to fill a whole screen in iNaturalist!

Most of the field LOOKS purple, because there is so much storks-bill growing in it, but when you look closer and closer, the yellows dominate (purple is in second place, with field madder and a little patch of grape hyacinth that must be left over from when there was a house here – I plan to replant them in the “flower bed” I’m making).

What have we got? Let’s take a look. Many of these flowers look really similar, but are different sizes or have other subtle differences.

Common Dandelion. Taraxacum officinale. Delicious and nutritious. Bees love them.

False Dandelion.
Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. Plus a tiny wasp and tinier beetle.

Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper. It’s everywhere. And very prickly. Note that there are aphids or something on it.

Smooth Cat’s Ear. Hypochaeris glabra. Looks like a teeny dandelion on a very long stem. Compare to the first dandelion and you’ll see how small it is.

Cutleaf Evening Primrose. Oenothera laciniata. Smaller than most evening primrose, but a beautiful buttery yellow.

Crete Weed. Hedypnois cretica. I thought it was a dandelion, but look at the leaf and the cool petal shape.

Woodsorrels. Genus Oxalis. I’m not sure which one it is, but it’s certainly oxalis. Sour tasty leaves!

Bur Clover. Medicago polymorpha. It’s about finished blooming and starting to make burs. Yellow is a hard color for my camera, and I couldn’t get a good shot of these.


Straggler Daisy
. Calyptocarpus vialis. Lots of leaves, tiny flowers. They are pretty up close, though.

I got a lot of bugs and other things, but I’m just going to leave this parade of yellow-ness alone, in all their glory. I’ll see what other themes I can come up with over the next few weeks as all the flowers bloom away.

Birds Birds Birthday Birds

It’s the spouse’s birthday. That’s why we took a trip! What fun that half the day was taken up doing business! Yes! Woo!

Me taking a break and wishing I was on the beach.

Um. It wasn’t horrible and we came out with some future travel fun. I want to go places before I die. Lee will put up with it, or send me off with Anita.

Whew, he’s as old as me again, and can still hold up a tree.

Birds!

We escaped the towering beach resort at last and made it to a state park. There, I had more Nature Girl fun that humans should be allowed to have. And even Lee enjoyed the walking around my favorite thing on earth, a marsh.

It’s a marsh.

The Huntington Beach State Park is beautiful. We didn’t look at all of it, but focused on the wilder parts. The trails we walked on were spectacular, with huge old pines and oaks and much evidence of fairly recent flooding.

What a huge oak tree!

We saw SO many birds. As soon as we got out of the car, I saw cheeky chickadees, and when we got on the boardwalk, there was a family of Eastern bluebirds. They have lots of nest boxes on the island, and they seem to be working!

Blue birds!

I took lots and lots of photos on our walk, and I got more and more excited with each new bird I saw. The causeway was a real hotbed of shore birds, and I had SO much fun with other birders looking at a group of birds hanging around together, with anhingas, ospreys, and bald eagles flying over head. Wow!

Of course, I took lots of pictures of plants. This is a wild blackberry or a dewberry or some bramble.

Enjoy these photos, which are enough to make any naturalist swoon, far as I’m concerned.

After all that, we had a beautiful birthday dinner at the Sea Captain’s House, a restaurant that has been here 58 years. I had she-crab soup and then oysters (of course) for my main course. Then we shared a wonderful birthday dessert.

The picture is dark so you can see the ocean out the window. Nice.

Was it a good day? Oh yes, it was. That blue bird of happiness followed us all day!

Camellia outside the restaurant.

Bio Blitzing and Mental Gaps

Today’s big activity (and ONLY activity, thankfully) was to go to a local park and do our very first bioblitz in Milam County. That’s where you find as many plants and animals in a specific place at a specified time. I had a lot of fun, though there was a lot of cat herding involved and I didn’t do a very good job of trying to teach what I wanted to teach. If you want some photos and such, visit the blog article I wrote for the group.

The sun even shone a little bit.

I enjoyed hanging around with my old and new friends, and sure found a lot of plants that were hard to identify, but I guess that’s part of the fun. If you want to see what plants, animals, and birds we found, you can visit the little project we created for our bioblitz.

Nature’s bird bath.
Chickasaw plum is one of the first trees to bloom here.

After the blitzing, we came back to our office, where it was warmer, to talk about uploading our findings, then a few of us had a quick lunch. There I was a bit disturbed at myself. I could not remember things. The entire topic of the mind blindedness I wrote about just last week completely escaped my mind. I blanked out on the names of a couple of people I knew, too.

More and more often I find myself coming up with a big hole where I was certain a word, fact, or memory should be. I’m not declaring myself to have dementia or anything, but it sure is annoying. It’s hard to know when you’re just tired, and it’s normal, or when there’s something actually wrong.

So, if you know me, let me know if I’m drifting off.

Look. Insects doing it. I actually typed “insexts” at first. They are crane flies.

ANYWAY, I did get to take my friend Dorothy to see the Pope House, and there we found beautiful stairs! I was pretty excited and ran up them.

Stairs! Indoors! Safe! photo by Dorothy Mayer

The steps themselves are really pretty. Chris made them bull-nosed, so they have a lot of class. I can’t wait to see what next week brings. Until then, I am officially resting, reading, and maybe even knitting for a while. I hope I remember what I’m doing.

Those steps are gorgeous, and nice and deep, too.

The Gimpy One Gets Busy: Renovation, Nature Dogs…

For a person who’s still having trouble making certain moves (especially bouncy ones) I’ve been doing a lot! I got some nice photos, so I figure I’ll share, even though this is not among my most riveting topics.

Hooray! The pond filled up and even overflowed to the other side.

It’s been chilly, but I sure was happy to see the ponds fuller at the ranch. The dogs are enjoying the heck out of the puddles, as usual.

Pope Residence Update

Things are hopping over at the Pope Residence. All the materials to build the staircase have been bought, and Chris and Easton have been busy shoring up the foundation at the back of the house. They have replaced an entire beam and will be adding a few extra piers to hold the weight of the staircase.

Chris ciphers out what to do next to repair the foundation.

They also bought plenty of insulation to make the back of the building nice and cozy. Of course, to me, the most important thing is that the red tiles for my office bathroom are ordered.

This is one of the original sewer pipes that was removed.

And speaking of that bathroom, there’s good news! We will be able to keep the original tub in there and make it a feature after all!

This is how they are holding the house together while working on the foundation below.

Randy is still slowly but surely getting all the bricks repaired and re-mortared. There is a lot to repair, but it is looking great once it’s done.

Repairs and the leveling hole in Kathleen’s office.

And today, while I was out gallivanting, Kathleen and Nicole have started stripping the many layers of paint off the doorways. It always seems like you find something interesting when you peel off layers like that, and sure enough, Nicole has uncovered a lot of blue and some green on the doorway leading into my office. Maybe the whole thing was once blue!

Nature Calls

I couldn’t resist going along with the Master Naturalist class and visiting the beautiful property of one of our members, outside of Davilla (south of Cameron). It was almost unspeakably beautiful, and my friend Ann and I had a blast identifying everything we saw, joined by one of the students who knows a lot about insects.

Ann inspects a fallen limb being held up by another limb.

We saw two woodpeckers, some American robins, female red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, chickadees, mourning doves, mockingbirds, and much more. It was great birding. And we saw a lot of tracks, too.

Really cool tree bark!

I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a morning than to investigate what grows in another part of the area! (Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe it makes me interesting.) I’ll share a link to a longer article with more photos that will be on the Master Naturalist blog.

And Dogs

While my competing volunteer activities may be wearing me out, I also get a lot out of them, so I was happy to join my Milam Touch of Love friends at another pet chipping event. Like last time, we met a lot of nice dogs and owners. This time we also could get pizza, since it was at Domino’s!

I’m a good girl. I just want a LOT of love.

I spent a lot of time with poor little Sandy, Penney’s sister, who still isn’t adopted. They just aren’t exciting dogs to look at. But she sure was well mannered, and she walked on a leash like a dream. I sure hope someone sees her beauty and adopts her (and also Ghost; he is so kind and beautiful!).

I had to bow out of horse riding this afternoon, which makes me sad, but wow, my back and chest let me know any time I twist or move my arms a certain way. I couldn’t even hold a cute dog today, because the wiggling made me move. I’m hoping for tomorrow, or at least to groom.

I didn’t even tell you about the private warehouse we got to look in, where I found me an old red hanging lamp. That was yesterday, an equally busy day.

There’s a theater gala tonight, so that should fill my busy Saturday. I have way more of a social life in Cameron than I ever did in Austin!

Mind Blind? On the Contrary!

A bunch of my Facebook buds have been posting a link to a BBC article that came out in 2015. Go read it; I’ll wait.

Oh, okay, it’s about the fact that a significant number of humans do not picture scenes in their minds when thinking. It’s called mind blindness, or aphantasia. I have to admit that, in all my endless reading about how brains work, I had never realized that this is as common as it is. Apparently it affects 2% of the population!

What do you mean, some of us see stuff others don’t!? From chiller856 via Twenty20 (original and appropriate caption: The eyes are useless when the mind is blind…💀

When someone posted a link to the article and said they were mind blind, I was really surprised. I’d never have guessed. Later, people said they found out their spouses were that way and they’d never known. I got suspicious, and asked my own spouse, whose perceptions have sometimes baffled me. Yep, he has it at least to some extent, and definitely has the related issue of being face blind (THAT explains why he found me attractive!). Well, huh. I knew he was color blind (try picking out paint with that guy), but I hadn’t known this!

The article goes on to say some people become upset when they find out other people have movies going on in their heads. I don’t know; I think if I was born a certain way, it would feel normal, like being short, or prone to being gassy.

I also wonder if there’s research to show that people who are mind blind prefer to read nonfiction over fiction, as an anecdote in the article suggested. I guess it’s nice that if these folks read a book and see a movie, they aren’t bothered that the characters don’t look how they pictured them!

This also makes me wonder if some other traits correlate to mind blindness. Some of my friends have suggested their attention-deficit traits and/or social skills issues associated with the autism spectrum may go along with this. However, many people I know don’t report this. I want more research! (Here’s an article with more research, but not on my questions.)

The Other Side

What’s going on in there?

Why was I not surprised to learn that there’s another way of perceiving things called hyperphantasia, or super-visualizers. These folks have very detailed mental images and can describe what they see easily. They are folks who have been termed to have “very vivid imaginations.” According to the researcher in the article, people usually fall somewhere in between aphantasia and hyperphantasia. That makes sense, knowing how mental traits tend to work out.

Continue reading “Mind Blind? On the Contrary!”

Where Does Our Stream Go? Mystery Solved!

I don’t usually do more than one post in a day, but Suna the Master Naturalist is all excited about something! I have an unexpectedly free and non-rainy day, so I decided to take the dogs on a walk through the woods, our favorite pastime (as you might notice).

Today my goal was to figure out why our stream and its springs are flowing away, but Walker’s Creek is dry as a bone where County Road 140 goes over it. I also wanted to see what I’d find along the creek bed.

So, the dogs and I walked through the woods by the house and inspected all the recently fallen limbs. There were lots of mushrooms, as you can see above.

I found it, Mommy!
Continue reading “Where Does Our Stream Go? Mystery Solved!”

Went Down to the River, but the River Was Dry

When I go on a trip, my main goals are to look at the nature and the architecture of wherever I am. Even in small towns, I love looking at buildings. Check out the Bandera County Courthouse, especially the manger scene. I don’t think they actually had turkey vultures in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago!

Jesus is visited by vultures, a longhorn, merino sheep, white-tailed deer, a cactus, and cowboysl

It’s So Cowboy Here

Lee and I had a lot of fun shopping today, especially since I actually needed a couple of “cowboy accessories” and so did he. I got a Resistol summer weight hat that fits me like a glove, and has already made walking around here in the bright winter sun easier. I really loved my other hat, but it got set down within the reach of certain blue-eyed dogs, and became a former hat. Grr. You only have to forget to hang the hat high ONCE to lose the hat. I’d had it five years or so, though, which is good for the kind of hat you sweat all over (it’s a work hat).

New hat protects me from blazing winter sun.

And I realize most women don’t wear cowboy hats unless they are in a rodeo, but too bad. Baseball hats aren’t as comfortable to me, and they don’t provide as much shade for my pale little European face. At least I live in a hat-wearing part of the US half time!

Lee got a new belt, which is really nice. The Cowboy Shop had a better selection than other Western shops we’d been in lately.

Anyway, after a protracted stop at a Native American jewelry store, where I got some Effie earrings (Hopi ones by an artist who always puts snakes on her jewelry) and some lovely Navajo White Buffalo turquoise earrings (white stone with black in it)…and Lee got a RING, we came back so Lee could yell at Verizon about a mix-up. I left.

River?

I headed back down to the river where I saw all the armadillo munching away yesterday. I only saw one today, but that’s because I walked through the river. The bed is glaringly white, since it consists of polished limestone with a layer of white sediment on top of it. It’s positively lunar.

Continue reading “Went Down to the River, but the River Was Dry”