Fall Beauty Is Subtle but Sweet

I’ve really been enjoying the weather and the fall foliage the past week or two. It got all windy in Austin and leaves were swirling like they did back in Illinois when I lived there.

One oak and many cedar elms

Here at the ranch the cedar elms are the ones that provide color. It’s not bright, but the trees have many shades going from orange to russet brown.

Yellow leaves!

There’s one tree with yellow foliage. I’m thinking it’s a mesquite. I didn’t look too hard. It must be something else.

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Pharmacy Museum: So Glad I Missed the 1800s

Kathy P., one of my roommates on the trip, and I were up bright and early on our last day in New Orleans, because the pharmacy museum she really wanted to see would finally be open (she’s a lactation consultant and wanted to see the birth-related stuff). It was mighty cold but off we went through the freezing streets of a city just waking up (many food delivery trucks for all those restaurants). Brr, it was cold and windy.

Many of the French Quarter houses have beautiful hidden courtyards. I’m glad to have seen this one.

We then discovered the museum opened at 10, not 9, so we found a coffee shop and warmed up. It was a PJ’s. Their theme is that they invented the locally roasted beans and pastries idea long before Starbucks. It was good coffee, anyway.

This is the “sick bed” display. To the right are ancient urinals, shown in detail below.

I made a quick stop at the yarn shop to get a printed copy of the complicated pattern I bought (PDF on phone was not cutting it). The lady was great about it, and we had a nice chat. Then I joined Kathy at the cool 1825 house where the pharmacy museum was.

There was display after display of some awful things they used to do to people, like amputation saws and HUGE things they stuck in your nose for reasons I don’t know. And a lot of poisons in jars, which you can see below.

Even if you aren’t interested in drugs and potions, this place is cool. The display cabinets were gorgeous, and there were amazing windows in the stairway going to the second floor.

Beautiful stairs and huge windows.

The windows looked out on one of those typical New Orleans courtyards, which is apparently maintained by some courtyard maintenance group.

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Book Report: Unnatural Texas?

Hey from Austin! You didn’t think my holiday was all traipsing through the mosquito fields and staring at the ocean, did you? Of course not. I also read a lot. Admittedly, I read a few magazines, but I got deeply into this book, which I got at the Texas Master Naturalist Conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s whole title is Unnatural Texas? The Invasive Species Dilemma, and it was written by Robin W. Doughty and Matt Warnock Turner.

The authors didn’t want to put “invasive” in the first part of the title, because, as they frequently point out, none of the plants and animals they talk about actually invaded in the first place; someone brought them to this continent. In fact, the only animal who’s actually “invaded” that they talked about is the nine-banded armadillo, who’s been going farther and farther northward, on its own, for the past couple of hundred years. (I would add to this list the caracara/Mexican eagle and a couple of other birds that are coming northward since it’s getting warmer).

This dude invaded our neighborhood all on their own.
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Mother Nature Had the Sniffles

Yesterday’s big plans got thwarted, because it kept threatening to rain all day. Mostly it just drizzled, which made me think Nature has the same thing so many of my friends have that makes them all sniffly. It never rained hard until the evening, when we were sitting in the hot tub talking to random fellow guests.

What this meant is that we had to cancel our boat outing around the Pinkney Island preserve. But, we talked to Scott the Boat Guy, and are going to try to do it later this morning. It appears dry outside.

All the moisture makes decay happen quickly and beautifully.

We did manage a quick outing to the Audubon Preserve, where last year I saw a zillion birds, but had no binoculars. This year, yes to binoculars, but no to birds.

The pond was beautiful, even in the drizzle.

I really do appreciate the efforts the group has made to label so many of the plants. They have a very nice brochure that talks about all the different mini-ecosystems in the park and what grows there. It’s also where I learned about the original topography of the area, with high ups and downs of boggy spaces and higher land with trees. It’s not like that where all the houses are now.

This pitcher plant was hiding behind its label.
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Survived the Mosquito Squad! Then, Rum.

Onward and upward with the travel fun! We are spending mornings in the condo, since Anita is still working, just not all day. No rest for the contractors, you know. That gives me time to blog, and well, I did a bit of work today, because our Hearts Homes and Hands business got its licensing approved, so I had to share that on the social media! We are so excited!

Low tide in low country.

As for yesterday, we still had it in our minds that we wanted to walk and walk, so we headed over to another island, and visited the Pinkney Island National Wildlife Refuge. Now, this is a naturalist’s paradise!

Datura in a butterfly garden. Look at the little wasp!

It had everything I love, including swamps, wetlands, coastal forests, and ponds. My iNaturalist account got quite a workout, and I’m still not finished uploading things.

Marsh periwinkle.

I really enjoyed the little crabs that scuttled along the wetland areas, since we were there at a pretty low tide time. Little marsh periwinkles were all over the reeds, too.

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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.
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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.