Reclaiming Mined Land

I wrote this post about reclaiming the strip-mined land at the Alcoa plant near Rockdale, Texas. for the Master Naturalist Blog. I thought you might like it, too. I know this is a controversial topic, though I just wrote what the guy walked about.

Nature Along the El Camino Real

by Sue Ann Kendall

Our June Chapter Meeting speaker was Marty Irwin, who had a long and successful career doing range conservation for Alcoa and other companies who performed strip mining for coal in this area. After Gary Johnson introduced him, Marty shared some pretty fascinating details with us, so I thought I’d summarize them for any who were unable to attend. (I was so busy writing that I didn’t get my usual zillions of blog photos. Oops.)

So, here’s his Facebook picture, appropriately enough, with a large buck.

If I get any facts wrong, I apologize in advance. Also, note that his presentation wasn’t compatible with our laptop, so we all imagined what he was talking about as he went along. Thank goodness he was good at describing.

Mike Conner got his 1,000 volunteer hour milestone pin, too. Congratulations!

View original post 489 more words


Energy Oddity

My energy levels have been changing lately, and I must say I just don’t understand it. Most of my life, I’ve sort of trudged through the day, then got a burst of energy late afternoon through the evening. I always wished I was a “morning person.”

The old me (from our wonderful Shutterstock collection)

My guess is I perpetuated this by arranging my life to suit those proclivities (and I lucked out to have kids that liked to sleep and jobs with flexible hours). Lucky me.

These days, though, I have been feeling a lot of energy throughout the day. I’ve been able to focus more and get a lot of stuff done. I’ll get home from work and marvel at all the things I got done, things I didn’t forget to do, and plans I’ve made for more things to do.

Of course there is a consequence to all this. I’ve been getting pretty darned sleepy by 9 pm, which makes me feel like one of my parents or something. I just run out of steam and have to have a snooze. I often perk back up and can read/watch television a bit later. But I would be a failure on the party scene, for sure.

The dogs, however, are vigilant! Well, at 9:30 they are also snoozing.

What Caused It?

I’ve actually started taking some pro-biotics that have all the B vitamins with them along with chicory and something else to make the gut flora all perky. It’s been a couple of months, and lo and behold, not only is my tummy all happy, but I’ve felt more alert and focused. (It’s by United Naturals, but I don’t want to do a commercial for them; you can look them up.)

The promised weight loss has not happened, but I can focus on eating more helpful things, and that should come along, even though menopause changed my metabolism to be even worse! I think the energy means my metabolism is better. I look forward to getting a lot of walking and yoga in each day, which pleases me.

I think I’ll just revel in all this energy. It’s a gift. It feels good to feel good, even when life has its challenges!


It was a sad day today, as one of my coworkers and a member of my team has his last day today.

Bye, Jon.

We had a nice Indian lunch with him where our whole team got to say goodbye, other than the coworker we had bagels with last week, who couldn’t be with us.

I am glad his new job will be close by, so we can still see each other, and we both spend our weekends up north, so Jon: you can’t get rid of me! Good luck!

Working on Community

When we first moved to the ranch, I was worried that it would be isolating living so far out here. That’s what Lee, the hermit, wanted. I wanted to have a community to enjoy life with, as well as some peace and quiet. I’m happy to report we are well on our way to a real community out here.

We missed the storms that hit Austin last night, but got cool clouds.

We were relieved to find a place near our friends Sara and Ralph, who warmly welcomed us when we first got here and really helped us set things up. And what would I do without my horse riding companion? Life would not be the same without these folks. We’ve also been lucky to make friends with Cathy, who lived at the cabin when we first arrived, and Tyler, who lives there now and does my snake handling.

When we added Mandi and her family over at Rattlesnake, wow, we could have been happier. They are so helpful in so many ways. One son cares for the horses and hens when I’m in Austin, and another has been helping Ralph with his mowing. Grateful for them.

Continue reading “Working on Community”

Geological Wonders and Small Towns

It’s hard to write when most of your mental processing is taken up by bird song ID. Makes for a nice morning! But, let’s get back to our topic.

Here’s where we stayed. The whole neighborhood looks like this. Beautiful renovation job. Vince, the owner, even got an award.

Today was our day in Gainesville. I wanted to see some natural areas, so after much debate and many suggestions from our friends, we decided to stay close to town and visit Payne’s Prairie and the small town of Micanopy.

Payne’s Prairie

Prairie through the trees.

My whole life I’ve been fascinated by this place. It’s a very large flat area (a sink) that floods and holds water occasionally. What’s weird is that there was a period of around twenty years (1871-1891) that it became Lake Alachua. My grandmother would tell us about steamboats taking people and goods across it. Then, one day the drain unplugged, and poof, it was a Prairie again. Continue reading “Geological Wonders and Small Towns”

Grateful for Insights

I was feeling pretty crummy today. I guess grief hit me hard.

This Horace’s duskywing butterfly reminds me of how things get better no matter how dark it is

I asked my Facebook community friends to share things that brought them joy recently, thinking it might help. I was smart. It did help. I highly recommend reaching out and asking for help when you need it. It will remind you that people ARE good.

If you’re my Facebook friend, check out my post asking for joyful moments. All the happy babies, cute pets, fun stories, and nature observations remind you of all the beauty and love around us.

Sample cute baby, the amazing Ripley, who is getting her first teeth

How I’m Doing

Grief is hard, even when you intellectually know all about how it works. I hadn’t cried in so long that I couldn’t recall the most recent time. So I’d forgotten how much it takes out of me.

Being on Prozac for the last couple of years has helped me a lot, but I can see how it’s separated me from expressing some emotions. They’re there, but not all on top of me. It helps me from drowning in my empathic tendencies. But yow! When something breaks through it has physical consequences!

This mystery plant never bloomed last year, but it came back! Plus, lots of basil is coming back from last year’s plants

I have had the strange headache I used to often get. It feels like something gently squeezing the sides of my head. And I forget to breathe and end up gasping. That’s annoying. My words don’t come out well and I have trouble swallowing. Ooh, and let’s not forget the chest pains, my old friends! At least the weird neck tingling that used to really bother me hasn’t kicked in.

So, those are all my anxiety symptoms I used to live with every single day. How did I manage? How do others manage? I sure feel sympathy for them. If you have anxiety and are functional, you have my admiration.

This gerbera daisy got knocked back hard in the cold winter. It looks like a new plant now! I will also recover

I’m guessing I’ll feel better soon. Grief is normal and can knock you down. Soon the grief will bloom into love and warm memories of our canine friend, Brody.

The photos are all of my plants that have resurrected themselves after the winter.

I actually thought squirrels had murdered this poor plant, or the cold had killed it begonias are hardy, like me, I think!

Bugs to Distract Me

To take my mind off donkey woes, here are some fun insects I’ve been seeing this week. The first is a green stink bug. They’re out at the ranch and in Austin.

Cute as a bug on a wall

Next we have a really pretty green moth. It’s an emerald moth, I think the Texas emerald. I love the frilly edges on the wings, and the stripes.

Moth on geranium

And here’s a cool one Martha found at our old office location. It’s an eyed click beetle! Look at those false eyes!

I’m looking at you!

Have you seen any cool bugs this year?

The Problem with Pink (My Feminist Prejudices)

As of last night, my hair is a no longer blue. It’s a rather vibrant shade of pink, or fuschia as Anita prefers. I am currently still startling myself when I see my reflection in the mirror, so this one’s going to take a bit of getting used to. I chose pink because I ran out of the pale blue I wanted to use, and am almost out of extreme blue. Rather than buy anything new (I’m on a spending freeze), I figured I should use up what I have. Pink.

See, I’m smiling.

This is the pinkest it’s ever been, since the only other time I used the pink, the base was more purple and I got a nice violet. This is undeniably pink. I want to embrace it, however…

Continue reading “The Problem with Pink (My Feminist Prejudices)”