Let’s Hike and Drive

Our last day in California we didn’t have any plans so I decided to take a hike on my last day of pleasant temperatures. I found parts of the resort I hadn’t seen before and then a trail head! Off I went.

View of resort from trail.

Carlsbad has a large network of trails that I wish I’d found earlier. I chose to go downhill the whole way, which was fun. I didn’t see any new plants or animals, but it was peaceful and scenic.

The trail took me through a golf course and had a cool tunnel. I had fun. Suna fun.

When the trail ended, I walked down the road, which skirted other trails. There I saw many holes.

Holes!

I thought to myself that it looked like where ground squirrels might live. I was right! So I saw them scampering around and going into the holes. Photos are from a long way away, so blurry

I looked up the California ground squirrel and learned that each one has its own hole. This made me realize there are a LOT of squirrels in that wilderness. I bet they really annoy nearby homeowners with their irrigated manicured lawns.

The real highlight of Thursday was that I spent all afternoon by the pool just relaxing. I had the hot tub all to myself and enjoyed it until I moved to a big round couch and crocheted on my blanket and watched some teens having fun in the pool. It was so nice to have no agenda, no chores, and no work to do. I’ll cherish those hours, even though I’ll be happy to be back into my ranch routine.

Blanket progress. Sure is random.

We headed out yesterday morning and took a different route to our first destination. I enjoyed seeing Palm Springs and other desert towns from I-20. There are so many windmills and solar farms out there! Nice to see.

Electricity for Palm Springs

There was lots of very barren desert with some oases in between. I was happy to get back to the mountains so I could take more pictures of rocks. I just think that area is gorgeous.

We got to Globe, Arizona, where we stayed at a very cute family-owned Best Western. It had great landscaping and friendly owners.

Sunset with rain. View from our room!

The room had too much scent in it for Lee, but we had a good night followed by a home-cooked breakfast! We had great conversation with the cook and an elderly couple who were fascinating. We talked about horses, spiders and other poisonous things, and travel. A great start to the day! Enjoy a few more photos of Globe, whose main industry is copper mining.

Thanks for all your kind words about Kathleen yesterday. She’s hanging in there, though the toxin has affected her bladder! Keep the good vibes coming!

Y’all Won’t Believe THIS Coincidence

Do you remember reading about how much fun I had just wandering around Breckenridge, Colorado day before yesterday? And do you remember that I got very excited when I walked through a residential area and saw that a house had a big bird feeder and I hung around there trying to get photos of the pretty birds?

The Steller’s Jay I saw

I remember thinking what a really nice bird feeder those people had, and how much I liked all the stuff they had on their deck. It looked like such a nice, comfortable home, and I wished I could watch birds on that deck. As I walked back to town, I was so grateful to those folks for letting me see a new bird.

Well, today, I was reading Facebook comments about my earlier blog post. You could have knocked me over with an intensely blue feather when I read this!

What??? (I scratched her name out because I, too, care about internet privacy)

At first, I thought she meant that was the same kind of bird feeder she had. But no, out of all the houses in this little town, I had managed to take a bird picture at the home of the ONLY person I know who actually lives here! I knew she’d moved away from Texas, but I forgot where she had gone!

This made me SO happy.

So, I may get my wish and get to look at birds from that lovely deck. Maybe I can get better photos. I’m just tickled to death! This whole “keeping up with folks on the internet” thing is really working out for me!

Speaking of Friends

My friend Kathy and I knitted and talked all morning until the shops opened, at which time we went shopping a bit more and had a wonderful brunch at a place called the Columbine Cafe. I had an omelet with a side of the first Colorado green chili that I’d ever had. If you get a chance, try it. The tequila sunrise was also delicious.

This woman can really knit by the way. That sweater has incredible subtle detailing and fits perfectly. I wove my scarf.

Our shopping was a great success, as I have holiday gifts all under control now. One shop we went into had some of the funniest dang cards, fridge magnets, and t-shirts that we couldn’t stop laughing. What we really liked about this place, and the other one we spent a lot of time in, was that much of the merchandise was unique and not the same old stuff you see everywhere. There must be a lot of creative and funny people in this state.

I think we are trying to blind ourselves. But we wanted a picture with mountains in the background. Note that I got earrings with crows on them that completely match my winter coat. I think they may be my winter go-to earrings. They are enamel on copper.

We both tried very hard to not go into the store with all the rocks, crystals, and jewelry under the one with the funny merchandise. But we went in. There, I discovered a treasure trove of turquoise jewelry, including some Sand Creek stones I had never seen before. It’s beautiful, light blue stuff. They also had a genuinely nice collection of old Navajo jewelry. I totally fell in love with a coral and turquoise piece from the 1960s, unsigned, as many old pieces are. I’m going to end up wearing this one a lot.

After we finished at the jewelry store, where I had heart palpitations from the beauty, we went for a little ride looking for a mine. We didn’t find the mine but did fine some beautiful scenery from the road that runs up into the mountains east of Breck. That was plenty great for me.

Then, Kathy was nice enough to take me to the grocery store to stock up after I ate a lot of my food last week. I’m probably good with food until I leave town.

Meanwhile, Back in Texas

I’m sure you’re craving photos of my animals back at the ranch. Lee has been really nice about sending me dog and chicken pictures. However, this took my breath away. I think Drew is the prettiest horse in the world, at least for me. Thanks to Sara for grabbing me a photo while she was at the trainer’s for her lesson. He is filling out so nicely. Ahh.

Back to knitting, relaxing, and wishing the time didn’t change tonight. I’ve got plenty to do and so much fun to look forward to in the next two weeks. I’m so grateful for kind friends who are willing to spend time with me when I just randomly show up near where they live!

Chicken Newsflash

I haven’t written much about the chickens in a while. They have been blessedly normal and fine for quite some time! The only thing that has been bugging me is how long it has taken for the new bunch of hens to start laying. All I can figure is the few weeks of really hot weather may have delayed them. The older chickens, on the other hand, have been moulting, so there sure are a lot of feathers all over the place.

Pretty little egg

On July 27, there was one egg laid with an unfamiliar pattern on it, but nothing since then. Today, however, there was another pullet egg, on the ground, with some interesting spots on it. So, someone has started up.

The makings of a feather bed

I’ve been getting four eggs a day lately, and I have a suspicion that Blondie, the Buff Orpington, may already be laying normal-size brown eggs and I just don’t realize it’s her. She has very red comb coloration now, and has for a while (that is a sign they are ready to lay). There should be some colored eggs at some point, since I have an Easter Egger and another breed that lays colored eggs, but those two haven’t started.

I’m a grown lady. By the way, Henley, who is behind her, hasn’t laid an egg in months.
No idea why.

The other chicken news is rather predictable. Once again, Star, the world’s most persistent chicken mother wannabee, is broody. I thought about it today, and went ahead and stuck one of Butternut’s eggs and one from either Bertie Lee or Springsteen under her. We’ll not miss those three eggs, and if these hatch, well, Star is already setting in the cage where she can raise the chicks. We’ll see!

Leave me alone. I’m in my box.

In pool news, the guys seem to have finished the rebar today. The highlight is the shape for the fire feature. I will be interested to see what is next.

Ready for flames and lights.

Right now, I’m busy holding onto rocks for grounding, trying to look my best, and exuding positive vibes. It’s always a good thing!

This little rock has an S in crystals in it. Suna power!

Apache Rocks, and So Do Rocks

I’ve needed a self esteem boost for a few days, but this morning Apache made me feel really dim, and I didn’t need any more of that! I went to get him this morning for a lesson, then noticed Drew was still in his pen. I went to release Drew, and saw Apache head out the gate to his pen, which I’d not shut. He then went through the gate to his little paddock.

I wanna go back out.

That’s okay, I thought. Then I saw the gate to the big pasture was open and Apache was trotting right through it. Sigh. Off he went to join the Buckskin Buddies. I went over to get him and he trotted away. One he galloped. But, in the end, he let me halter him, saddle him, and load up.

After that, all was well! Our practice has paid off! I was amazed at how well he did on the circles and figure 8s. Even when he messes up, I’m getting better at correcting. That’s important. Now we are refining techniques. Wow, that feels good.

If I’m so good, why didn’t I get anything from Dairy Queen?

And we started a slalom formation where I learn to bend and turn, speed up and slow down (transitions). I was really surprised at how far we got on it today. Of course, there is a lot to learn, still, but it was fun to get to start so soon! Then, the trainer told me what great progress we are making quickly. It’s rewarding to be figuring this stuff out, at last.

I wanna be free.

And Apache rocks! No grass eating all lesson.

Speaking of Rocks

Remember yesterday, when I found that we have a layer of light rock a few feet down? One of our readers, Trisha, mentioned that it may be an aquatic layer.

White rock

So, I went out to look at the rock up close, to see if I could figure anything else out about it. The layer is very thin and powdery.

This shows the layer.

When I touched the rock, it crumbled. It doesn’t hold together like limestone usually does. It falls into little chunks or granules, whereas the soil above it sticks together and is very clayey.

Clay

Also in our soil are large rounded rocks. They have a flint-like interior.

Rock on top of the clay soil.

Anyway, the white stuff seems to be a chalk, which makes me think there was some point in the past that this area was covered by water and supported something with shells, but not for too long.

Hunk of chalky stuff.

I saved the piece above so maybe I can get it analyzed. And I’ll try to figure out when we were underwater more recently than the Paleozoic period (this rock isn’t that deep).

Thinking Peaceful Thoughts

Every time I get shaky today, I am thinking of peace, over and over.

My little sign and random stuff from the side of the road.

It’s helping! I’m also keeping busy with work. Thank goodness I have something complicated to think about and people to brainstorm with.

I also took a walk today, and that helped me with the peace. I tried to find the nearest hiking trail, but could not find the start, so I wandered up the golf cart path through the golf course at the next resort. That was a bit of a huff and puff, but I was rewarded with at last being able to look at mountains, trees, and such with no condos in view. Hooray.

Ah. Birch trees, not construction equipment.

I found the trail when I got to the end of the golf course, and decided to follow it back down. It was so pretty, and I got to see more birds and a very annoyed squirrel. And lots of pretty Utah rocks. The path is narrow, so you have to jump off when cyclists show up. Luckily I just had to deal with one.

Heading down the trail.

The only thing that disturbed my peace was when I was almost to the bottom of the trail, and things got muddy and slippery, due to snow melting. Then the path totally disappeared under a pile of snow (manufactured, I am sure). There were no cyclist paths or shoeprints to tell me where to go, so I guessed. I ended up having a lot of fun sliding and stomping in snow. If someone was watching, I’m sure I put on a good show, but it was just what I needed, some goofy time spent right there, in the moment. Goal achieved!

End of the path (ski school is here).

And by noon, I’d met my goals for exercise and movement, so my watch is happy. I’m back to doing meetings requiring concentration for another few hours, then I shall read a book that requires concentration. No, I’m not even turning on my preferred news outlet until later today.

I’ll be thinking of these guys. They’ve survived humanity. So can we.

One more thing, I want to thank all my friends and readers outside the US for the support you’ve been giving during this hard time in the US. It helps with our collective anxiety. Please, all of you our there, keep all of us in the USA in your thoughts, and if you pray, pray for peace.

We are all part of the same earth.

The Hermit Haus Hosts the Master Naturalists Again

Finally, we are daring to have a meeting at the Hermit Haus again. Our Master Naturalist class wanted to finish its sessions, so we figured out a way. Only the students who have Zoom trouble and 3 staff are in the building. Each audience member is at a separate table.

People wear masks unless eating.

The rest of the class, as well as anyone else who wanted to attend dialed into the Zoom meeting.

That took a lot of planning and figuring out our needs. I am proud of our Master Naturalist board members for hashing it all out.

Our tech guy, Don, spent a lot of time getting us a good setup for the mix of online and in person attendees. He got us some nice speakers and microphones so people can ask questions. We tested it all earlier today and it worked great.

Now I know.

There was a weird glitch with our speaker being unable to join the meeting, but I got it working by signing him into our organization account. Yes!

And the talk is going great! Sound is good. Speaker is Hilary in a Dad joke kinda way. Whew. I’m so pleased to be able to give to our community by hosting events again, while still being careful.

Loamy sand and sandy loam.

And I now know a LOT about soil. And saw some of my friends. Everyone seemed so pleased. And I got to wear my cool new mask.

Look! It has a raven and a feather.

Thanks to Robyn at Coffee and Cotton for the high quality products

Riparian Knowledge Overload!

Here we are in Bandera looking at a slide show.

Now that I’ve slept, maybe I can share some of the depth and variety of the things I learned at the Bandera County Watersheds Riparian Training I attended on Wednesday, March 6. The event was held in Bandera (one of the most attractive small towns I ever saw and VERY consistent in its cowboy theme), and the weather improved enough that the outdoo parts were not unbearable. There were at least 30 participants, ranging from fellow Master Naturalists to water management professionals to interested landowners.

This young man was full of information. I’d love to hear him again.

Much of the day was spent indoors, however, as a team of water management experts from many different agencies shared their knowledge of managing the areas alongside rivers, creeks, and streams. These are called riparian areas, and they are a very important part of water management, but one that has been misunderstood a lot in the past.

Our scenic location.

Sadly, the beautifully manicured lawns and parkscapes we often see, where people walk up and down to admire the view, are not actually what our waterways need. The need a riparian buffer of plants that love water or theive near it and trees that are of various ages, so that when they die or fall into the water, there are future trees to replace them.

This root system washed up in the last floor. Look at the rocks embedded in there!
Continue reading “Riparian Knowledge Overload!”

Beachy Keen

Tree trunk with ocean decor

We spent last night in a misty Galveston Island, Texas. I’ll write more about it later, but thought I’d share a few pictures of things I found washed up on the beach.

The tree looks like a whale from this angle.

One particular piece of wood that had been in the water enough for barnacles to grow on it really seemed beautiful. Such a mix of land and sea.

What’s your guess as to what this is?

We also found another rock or piece of tree or coral. It was hard to say. But there were some cool worm tubes on it, too.

Little shells in a heap.

Of course there were shells, mostly broken up, but in many shapes and colors. Where they washed up in piles I kept thinking they’d make a great computer monitor background.

Coral, and my Valentine nails, which are red, pink, coral, or watermelon.

I did find a small piece of coral, too. I have to say these and the oysters in the bay kept distracting me from my bird and plant recording duties, but that’s okay. I had time to enjoy all the gifts the ocean and wetlands gave me.

Eww. Ocean foam.

More tomorrow!

It’s Time to Thrive

A couple of days ago, I was talking to my younger son and his partner about how our family has been able to overcome a lot of challenges lately and seems to be pulling out of our ruts, doing what needs to be done, and beginning to thrive. We spent a few moments marveling at our resilience.

This grocery store orchid loves its spot so much that it immediately re-bloomed after its first blossoms finished.

It feels strange, but good, to be dealing with what comes at us, moving forward, and using the lessons learned to do better. As for me, I have stepped up to a couple of work challenges that I’d never have been able to do if I hadn’t stumbled, fallen, and gotten away from situations where I didn’t feel supported or able to grow.

I was afraid this begonia, which I got last year from the florist, was not happy. But, it just took a while to adjust to its new surroundings outside the hothouse. And now it’s thriving, too.

Encouragement comes from odd places, and for me, I get a lot of it just looking around at the natural world. In my Austin house, I am always surprised to see how many of the plants that were placed in our artificial setting with no warning have adapted and thrived. They are my role models!

Look at those little yellow things! The formerly little, now larger and thriving, palm is blooming!

I was especially happy to see the little palm tree bloom. I have had that plant…oh, since I worked in my nonprofit job. It always struggled along in my previous house, probably not getting enough light. It’s gotten happier and happier since I’ve had sunnier spots for it. I may even have to replant it! The lesson I learn from the little palm is that you can survive lots of things, but to thrive you need a supportive environment, people who care for you (and fertilize you, literally or metaphorically), and a little sunshine.

Wah, I can’t even see to the road!

And another thing

Mother Nature nudged me again this morning, too. When I woke up, I couldn’t see a thing outside. I was a little disappointed to not see a pretty sunrise, but yet another day starting out with dense fog.

It may be winter, and the plants may be brown, but the spiders are thriving and doing their jobs. Thank goodness the fog let me be reminded of this!

Then, when I was heading off the ranch to go to work, I glanced to my left and saw a shimmering display of dewdrops on a beautiful spiderweb. Silly me. It’s a beautiful morning; I just have to have the presence of mind to SEE the beauty.

This slightly heart-shaped rock came from my driveway. Now it sits on my desk and reminds me to stay grounded, which will help me thrive!

Now I can thrive. I hope you can find the things and people around you that will lead you to be able to thrive where you are. That’s why I keep certain objects around. Small reminders to breathe and stay grounded are a good start. Get yourself a rock! Thrive!

Rio Guadalupe Love

Today was our day to get out of town, so we decided to head down the most scenic highway we could think of, the road from Fredericksburg through Kerrville and on to Hunt, Texas. You may recall that I took this same drive when I attended the Bennett Trust Women’s Conference.

This time, Lee, Anita and I took things slowly, stopping for lunch outside of Kerrville at an excellent local Mexican restaurant, which happened to be on the banks of a dam by a creek leading to the Guadalupe River. It was our first glimpse of this winding waterway and its many tributaries, which many claim is the most beautiful river in Texas.

As we drove down the road, we enjoyed many crossings, then dropped by to visit some friends of ours, the Hudsons, who build and sell amazing hand-made lawn furniture. Lee has known Jack since high school. We got some great pictures and caught up. We should visit more often, that’s for sure.

Then we went back on a long road with many Guadalupe River crossings. I hope you like my photos through the car window!

The highway also wound through some of the most beautiful Hill Country ranch property there is. One reason it looks so great is that the ranchers have made a huge effort to remove most of the ashe juniper (cedar) trees, so the land looks more like it used to look.

I think one reason I find the Guadalupe so fascinating is that it goes through such semi-arid territory. And the banks are so white, thanks to all the limestone.

The terrain strongly resembles African savannahs, especially since we saw, for the most part, mainly African animals behind all the very high fences. This is the heart of the exotic ranching area, and it’s quite obvious. We didn’t see a cow other than one herd of longhorns, until we were almost back to Kerrville. There was one flock of goats, but otherwise, gazelles, antelope, pronghorns, and other animals I have forgotten since I visited the exotic animal organization headquarters filled the pastures (well, mostly it was empty, because of good range management).

The animals didn’t hold still, so no photos, but hey, you know what they look like: funny looking deer.

Tomorrow we hope to go somewhere and hike with at least one of my kids. More then!

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