The Vines of Hermits’ Rest

I thought I’d take my own advice and get out in nature this morning, so I made up a project to see how many different vines I could see along the fence in front of and beside the ranch house.

Mustang grape. I know because it’s silver and hairy on the bottom.

It hadn’t gotten stifling hot yet, so Vlassic and I set off. I knew a lot of what I’d see, but figured I’d find at least seven different vines.

Vine
Looks boring, right? But if we hadn’t been aggressively mowing, it would produce cool little lanterns. It’s Cardiospermum halicacabum

I actually ended up with 12! At least I hope so. Most weren’t blooming, but I recognized them. The white morning glory had closed up and I couldn’t get to the flowers to photograph.

I was especially glad to see passion vines in more than one place, because I’d worried the poison ivy had crowded it out.

Passion vine with no beautiful flowers.

Also I was glad to confirm that we have sorrel vine here, since the Master Naturalist who lives not far from here has a lot of it.

Sorrel vine or Cissus trifoliata. It’s known as possum grape, too.

Otherwise, it’s the usual prickly, rash-inducing, invasive and/or pretty plants.

Of course I had to snap a few other pretty sights. Plus, there’s action around the hen house. There’s a new spider building a web right in front of where I get the eggs from. Luckily I have another way to get eggs.

And Chris put a live trap by the chicken run. We need to stop whatever took almost all the guineas and a hen! Hopefully, once it cools off, he will come up with more safety measures.

These are prettier than water hose, right? Lady Bird’s Centaury.

We do have a much more elaborate water system, though, since the other one was trying to make the hoses explode. Chris used new water hose/pipe and fittings to make a safer temporary setup until we make the fancy underground one. It’s also too hot to safely dig the trench for that.

At least the dogs are happy we’re inside all day. 102 is too hot for any of our outdoor projects! Happy July.

It’s weather fit for sunflowers!

Bullfrog Population Explosion

This weekend a lot of dirt was moved over at the Hermits’ Rest. We are making the little new pond bigger, since it will eventually be used for something good, I’m told. Now that the rains have slowed down, water is receding and it’s easier to dig. (About five minutes after I typed that, a rainstorm came through, but since it’s July, I doubt there will be much accumulation.)

As the dirt movement was going on, I thought it would be a good idea to re-check what’s in there.

I found two young turtles swimming around. And some dragonflies. Mostly, though, I saw members of the frog family.

A green pond and frogs.
The turtles are up near the top right. I think. But in this photo there are actually 14 frogs, at least. Some are in the water and some are on the shore.
Not one of the biggest ones, but you get the idea.

First I saw big ole bullfrogs sitting and floating. Then, as I looked harder, there were more and more.

At one point, I saw at least 14 of the frogs, some adults and others still young. Maybe you can see them in the photo at top, but you would really have to zoom in.

Another little one.

I guess we had a bumper crop of baby bullfrogs (I originally thought they were green frogs, but got corrected on iNaturalist).

Then, something moved. It was one of the Gulf coast toads we have lots of around the house. I know where that one came from, because Chris had just disturbed the home of a pair of them when fixing a death-trap hole near our water cutoff. They hopped on over to the pond in a huff. At least we didn’t hurt our buddies.

Hi. You messed with my house.

As I was enjoying how gigantic the toad was, my eye was drawn to what looked to be a very pretty rock, very close to the toad.

That was no rock, it was a leopard frog! So beautiful! I got all excited and tried to get some good photos, but didn’t want to scare it off. It doesn’t help that when it’s really sunny and my glasses turn dark, I can’t see the phone screen very well. Poo.

Leopard frog! Best photo I could get.

In any case, I’d never seen a leopard frog here, so that’s a new one to add to my list. That made my naturalist day!

Mr. Toad and Mr Frog.

Pretty soon, Penney dove in to take a little swim, and a great deal of splashing and “eep” noises ensued. That was the end of my fun with frogs and toads.

Trim and Tidy and Safe

The work on my future office is progressing. The bathroom just needs the sink picked up and installed, and some paint touch up. Then I can add my plants and wall stuff.

Now the edges of the tin won’t attack people. It looks so good.

The office trim is getting painted for both rooms on this side of the house. It will get installed as soon as it is dry.

Shiny.

The same is true for my beautiful mantel. We revised it a bit and really like its shape. Creative use of leftover trim makes a huge difference!

Side view of mantel shelf. I’m gonna have a baby fireplace!

Also, because the State has requested more precautions in businesses, we added places right inside the doorways of both the current and future offices so anyone who goes in can spray their shoes with sanitizer and clean their hands.

We canceled a lot of upcoming activities, too. Until the virus spike in Milam County calms down, our little ranch community will keep doing our best to entertain ourselves. So glad for our pets, livestock, and weather.

Peace to my friends, family, and the community.

A Bit of Storm Damage

While I was cleaning the fireplace, a strong storm came through and it rained .7 inches in 15 minutes. And the wind got up to 40 miles per hour.

I looked up when I felt some water. Shoot. It was dripping on me. We have to go way up by the chimney and check what’s caused it. Ugh. At least I was sitting right there when it happened!

Back at the ranch, Lee and Kathleen saw trees laying down and churning water. When we got home, we found the chicken’s windbreak broke. I’m sure it turned into a balloon, since the wind was coming from the south.

The blob is the tarp. Note clouds.

Plus, a piece of the roof over our shipping container blew off. That has been there 7 years!

Damage at top.

Lee and Chris repaired that and took the tarp off the chicken house. I headed over to the horse barn and found a big length of chicken wire that had blown in from somewhere. I rolled it up and stuck it somewhere safe in the barn.

Repair in progress.

More rain is coming, and half of the dogs are not happy. Harvey is all shaky. Carlton is hiding behind us. Happy Sunday.

Just Watching the Sky: A Photo Essay

After all the rain yesterday, there was a regular parade of colorful clouds, especially just before sunset. Kathleen and I sat on the porch providing commentary. Nope, you can’t get bored at the Hermits’ Rest.

This is my favorite, taken while out with the shiny horses.
Pinks and blues.
Sun shining on ominous clouds.
Slightly shaky panorama, with Carlton.
Carlton.
Shadow of the house.
Looking north.
So many colors. I love this one, too.
New pond all full.

Rain Delay on Pope, But Good Vibes Aplenty

This is me saying thanks. My goodness, my complexion is good. It looks like I have no wrinkles! Thanks, SnapChat!

Well, hey there, kind readers! And you are kind. My heart is warmed by the kind comments I’ve received on yesterday’s post where I lost it about the consequences of sheltering in place. I felt like I was doing some very personal whining there, but more than one person (totally out of the blue) told me it felt like I was in their head, so I must have struck a chord with a lot of folks. Yep, we aren’t alone. Thanks to all for your supportive words and thoughts!

I’m happy to report that after I spewed forth all my negativity, two or three potentially nasty situations at my jobs turned around into positive and encouraging situations instead. I guess I made room for abundance, or something!

Pope Residence Update?

This fancy trim needed to be finished off, so now it’s ready to be painted. The floor part won’t get done until the floors are refinished.

On to the topic at hand, the work at the Pope Residence has slowed down this week for a couple of reasons. Easton is no longer helping out (he and Nicole went home), we began to run low on needed supplies, and the weather hasn’t cooperated much.

My bathroom is partially trimmed, but we’re out of boards until more get brought in and painted.

Today was supposed to be the day Chris went to pick up important things like doors, more trim material, and the all-important beautiful tin ceiling material. Oooh, ahh! But, we had another big ole rainstorm. It’s cleared up, so tomorrow may be fun!

That perky panel is for access to the air conditioning unit when it needs servicing. The hole is for air intake and will have a vent on it.

In any case, the ceilings are now pale blue in the offices we’re working on now, and a lot of the trim for those rooms is in. We have to wait to finish the trim in there until the floors are sanded and finished. We’ve got to rent the big sander to do that. More excitement to look forward to!

The blue on the ceiling looks fine, and the door trim makes the main office look more finished. Someone broke a tile on the hearth, so we have to figure out a way to deal with that!

Chris remembered to paint under the stairs yesterday, and earlier in the week finished enclosing the stairs. They also need to get sanded so we can stain them a color that goes with our flooring. I foresee a lot of sanding.

We’re ready for another big push, and Kathleen and I are ready to help out over the weekend. We’re gonna get it done, yes we are.

Rejoice! We Survived the Night. Today Is Glorious.

Yeah, it was a long night here. We are rejoicing to be here and making Easter dinner. And rejoice is, predictably, the final UU Lent word.

It started around 9 pm, when Chris and Kathleen were sitting on the front porch with the dogs. Carlton and Penney suddenly took off. There were barks, then a yelp, and they came back. Penney was rolling around. She’d been skunked.

We are faster than a waddling skunk.

Then everyone ran around trying to keep her off the furniture. Kathleen bathed her in ketchup, which was really nice of her. Carlton only stank a little. He’s so fast he can avoid skunk spray.

Continue reading “Rejoice! We Survived the Night. Today Is Glorious.”

Rainy Day? OK!

Today’s UU Lent word is rain. Let’s see if it’s as unpopular as “reach” was (yesterday was my lowest number of blog visitors in a LONG time). It’s all good, though, that’s the least of my worried! As for rain…

Rainy morning this morning in a strangely empty Round Rock, Texas. Photo by Amy Mathews-Muttwill, whose husband Thomas has a birthday today, so she was going to get donuts.

It’s been raining a lot for the past month or so. Here in the middle of Texas, we hope that happens every spring, so the tanks (ponds) fill up and the creeks flow for a while. The trees get their yearly long drink of water, and everything gets ready for two or three months of no rain come summer.

I spotted all these raindrops yesterday. I like them as much as “old greenbeans” (who is really Elaine) does.

Last year was the wettest year Lee ever recorded in our gauge, until the rain totally stopped for quite a while. We’ve learned to enjoy the intense green and all the wildflowers in March and April, then to have a different kind of enjoyment as it gets all brown and crispy later.

When it rains this much, I’m okay with it stopping. This is Walker’s Creek by the ranch doing its imitation of a river, April 11 2018 (the day I started this blog). Waterfront living at its finest.

I Like Rain

Lee and I used to always say, “I like rain,” to each other, after we said it at the same time early in our courtship. It was a bonding moment. I have one of those personalities that would be fine living in a damp environment, like Seattle or Ireland. Back when I had Irish inlaws, they’d apologize for the rain there, but it was mostly a light drizzle that made all the roses grow and kept the fields green. I loved it.

Rainbow in Northern Ireland. This is the kind of sight I remember from further south. Image by @joemelendez via Twenty20

And when it rains a lot, there’s always a chance of a beautiful rainbow! When the kids were little and we’d drive all over Ireland, we saw some doozies in places like the Dingle Peninsula. Good memories!

When I was a kid in Gainesville, Florida, we’d love it after tropical storms came through. We would have really big puddles and lots of water in the ditches in front of our yards. We’d get pieces of plywood and spend hours skimming in the water. Our parents would repeatedly tell us there were bad things in the water, but hey, a little ringworm was a small price to pay for all that fun.

Nope, none of these ever wandered up the ditches in Gainesville. We had a canal behind our house in south Florida, though, and it featured gators and water moccasins and such.

In high school, I lived in south Florida (Plantation, yeah I know it’s a dumb name for a town). There it also rained a lot. The typical pattern was to be all nice and sunny until later afternoon, when thunderstorms would come through for an hour or two. That always coincided with the time that 70s teen girls wanted to lay out in their bikinis and get their suntans. Probably it was Nature’s way of trying to prevent our future wrinkles and skin cancers. That rain was always warm, and if it wasn’t thundering, we’d often stay in the pool and enjoy the rain there (almost everyone had a pool back then, even the lower-middle class families like us).

A familiar sight from when I was a teen. You’d watch the rain coming down the street. Image by @cr819081 via Twenty20

No wonder I like rain. I have no idea where all those memories came from, but since I typed them, I’ll leave them here. It’s nice to think about good times in the past, anyway. It’s a good distraction.

Penney loves her little pond, which is all full thanks to the rain for the past few weeks.

So, go ahead! Share your memories about rain. Are you like Pickle, Anita’s dog, who truly loathes rain and wetness? Or are you more like Penney, who is grateful rain makes her swimming hole bigger?

Surrender? Who, Me?

I ordered a bookcase for only $250. I must be confident things will improve.

BAH. I’m not surrendering to defeat and negativity. In only two days my self-imposed extra-carefulness after coming home from our vacation will be over, and I’ll feel a lot better to know I didn’t get sick or make anyone else sick when we traveled.

Rather than surrender (word of the day for UU Lent) in a “giving up” kind of way, I chose to surrender my expectations of how things should be. Getting rid of that will let me enjoy things the way they are now.

Actually, I think rattlesnakes are at the end of the path. I’ll wear boots if I go out there.

I have bluebonnets to look at. I saw whistling ducks at the ranch. The trees and grass are so darned green that it makes my eyes hurt. My chickens make me laugh every day. It’s thundering big time outside while Kathleen plays “Amazing Grace” on her phone. I’ll surrender to that beauty and wonder of the day.

There are always sweet surprises out there, even when we feel imprisoned by our lack of choices right now. (Baby blue eyes just on the other side of the fence)

If this is my last spring, by gosh I’ll enjoy every moment. And if it isn’t, I know I’ll appreciate all the future springs even more. It’s a privilege to be here now. Since I can’t change what others do or what happens to the rest of society, I surrender to the lessons I’m learning and the love around me.

I am part of the love around you. And I lost weight.

Peace to you all in these “interesting” times.

I Don't Want to Write about Justice

Nope. Don’t want to write about the next extra-PC concept the UU Lent folks brought forth, justice. My Instagram says it all. I got a rock.

Rocks are grounding, though. This is my grounding rock.

I’ve never seen a lot of justice out in the world. Luckily I do see small amounts of mercy, which I find more important, anyway. Creepy people do well. Good people fail and suffer. The wrong people get punished. Whatever. Just keep moving forward one day at a time and see what you learn, but don’t expect to learn a lot about justice.

Ugh

One of my friends on Facebook said it best yesterday:

Today I hit a wall.

FB Friend

I did, too. I was trying to work on my perky email newsletter for friends of LLL, and I just didn’t have any perky in me. I read too many articles on predicted deaths, people doing unsafe things, and tragedies. I always wondered how I’d cope with one of these weird times. I guess, like many, I’ll have good and bad days.

Folks, we are allowed to have bad days, to be sad, to miss things from our previous life, and to worry like crazy about people we care about (and people we don’t know who have it worse off than us). Let’s be gentle with each other and support the people who have a hard time, even while doing our best to keep our own spirits up.

Where I spent yesterday. My ridiculous bedroom would make a great isolation area.

So yep, I spent a lot of time in bed with the dogs, reading a book. It helped. The rest of the family all worked until late in the evening. I’m worried about them, too. But, we are all doing our best and trying to do self care!

We’re entertaining.

I’m glad I have the horses and chickens, who make me go outside even when the weather is awful (we have flooding today, which means the chicken food is a mess). I’m glad the dogs can run around and play, even when it’s raining.

Playing in the wildflowers.
I like the stripe colors, anyway.

I’m glad other people are finding stuff to do. I looked on Amazon just to see what books are popular right now. Best sellers were all preschool math, for some reason, I guess homeschooling. I looked in the crafts section. I had to chuckle, because I never saw so many adult coloring books in my life. My favorite was the obscene one. Maybe I’ll get it.

I shall try to be cheered by the basement office’s art and fake flowers.

Keep in touch with me, and with those you care about. I like hearing from everyone. It helps. Now to go be perky.