Some Couple Time

Lee and I truly needed some time away. As much as we love the ranch, it’s easy to get in a rut. We’ve really been enjoying some down time to relax, while still doing our work. Ahh.

Gazing at the ocean.

We have enough time to relax now and for the future. A nice retirement plan and the knowledge that we can travel when we want to. Not bad. It’s been a dream of mine, and I hope to share it with the family!

I found some nature!

We have really enjoyed relaxing, watching birds, and letting the sea wash our feet. Sea bubbles are endlessly fascinating!

Shells and bubbles

I did finally find some more birds! I found a house finch and a crow, but didn’t get the crow’s photo. I did enjoy some laughing and herring gulls.

We’ve been having the kind of trip we like, relaxed and full of nature.

What? Nature?

Now, here’s something that’s pleasing me. I bought a new bathing suit, one of those “modest” ones. I got shorts, a tunic, and a long-sleeve top for sun protection. I did this because I really hate people staring at at me. And I just prefer for my curves and bumps to be for me.

My swim attire

I appreciate that so many people here don’t give a hoot and wear whatever they want to at the beach. I’ve seen people of so many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles on this trip. It’s great! But, for me, covering up feels comfortable. We each get to do what works for us!

Happy in the sun.

I never thought of myself as modest. I think I’m just not interested in being “sexy” or flirty. I want to protect my skin and still have fun in water. This works for me. Right now, though, we are inside watching storms. It’s so pretty.

Stormy weather.

Take care, everyone, especially those of you dealing with losses and illnesses.

Nature is so powerful.

To Do Things, You Have to Plan

So, Catherine of the comments section wants me to write more about what I’m doing, but still, we aren’t doing anything. That’s the nice thing about having a long vacation: you can actually get some REST, just stare at waves, and watch little kids running around on the beach.

Lots of pelicans to watch!

Here are the things I am currently NOT doing:

  • Stressing about work
  • Two blog articles for the Master Naturalist blog (sorry to them)
  • My newsletter for Friends of LLL (sorry to them)
  • Reading things I “have” to read
  • Worrying about family members or ranch animals
  • Getting a sunburn
I got to watch the moon rise.

Whew, that gets me tired already, just not doing all that stuff. I suppose we should get doing things. I have found a bunch of parks, nature trails, and THREE boat tours, one of which I actually already booked, so never fear, we will be doing some stuff!

The sun behind the clouds this morning looked practically icy.

While the immediate area where we are staying is pretty touristy and gets seedy if you aren’t careful where you go, there’s lots to do just outside of Myrtle Beach, in places like Murrel’s Inlet and Pawley’s Island. We will go to those places, including the excellent state park we went to last year.

I think I got enough wine. Actually, there are four more bottles of red, not in fridge. I drank one. (These are small bottles, by the way, about two glasses each, in other words, perfect for Suna).

After a morning of figuring out what to do, blogging, and struggling to get the podcasts sounding right, we are getting ready to exit the condo. It’s such a nice condo, though, you hardly want to leave, and since we stocked up at Costco yesterday (including twelve half-sized bottles of wine for my drinking pleasure), we certainly don’t need to eat out much (though I do LOVE to do so).

Plenty to eat; some of it even healthy!

I’m sure we’ll find plenty to do next week, even though I’ll be working, so a lot of the time will be spent Zooming and writing things, with an ocean view! I’m hoping the weather stays as nice as it’s been so far, neither hot nor cold, neither too sunny or too cloudy. It’ll be fine no matter what. I like working from alternate locations!

Take care and keep the comments coming!

Look What the Wind Blew In

Whew, today was extra windy. During my ENDLESS meetings, I kept being distracted by something that looked like fluffy dandelion seeds very briskly zipping by, completely horizontally. There were an unusually large number of them, way more than the number of dandelions we have going to seed. What had the wind blown in?

First, a brief digression. The wind brought more than fluffy bits! It also brought our long-lost housemates. We have a bunch of happy dogs and people!

Mommy! They locked me in the storage room!

For people who have gone through, shall we say, a lot since they left for a weekend back in February, or was it January, they look good! We are all excited about all the projects we need to get moving on.

I was so grateful that I grew them these flowers. okay, Nature grew them.

In our zeal to plan things, the nephew went out with a spray can of bright orange paint, marking where Apache’s new stable and pens will be, along with cattle pens. And you know, orange paint smells good. If you’re a dog, you’d want to roll in it, especially if it complements your long, white fur.

It looks good on me.

We went over to look at another fencing area, and there, all over the ground, were the answers to my questions about the fluffy things.

A sea of white fluff.

It turns out that in the two days since I’d taken my photos of the small-flowered catchfly, they’d gone to seed, most spectacularly! Everywhere there were little towers covered in fluffy seed pods.

Towers of fluff surrounded by little stars.

Y’all, in person this was breathtaking. The catchfly was all interspersed with starbursts of the annual trampweed. My two new flowers went to seed together and created a Magic Kingdom of weeds, as I said in my awe.

Wine cups and the few paintbrush flowers that made it through the winter added beautiful accents.

All this beauty was after so many of the seeds blew away this morning. Wow. So many seeds. And none of us remember ever seeing the two white fluff-makers before. What a welcome home gift to our family!

Future horse pen also has me happy.

To be honest, my whole day was magical. I achieved all my goals in my pushback campaign, and it’s only Wednesday! I’ll share more about that tomorrow. Right now, I’m pretty dang tired and don’t even know where I’ll sleep tonight (that’s a GOOD thing).

How could you leave me? Kathleen will take pictures, not to worry.

I am, once again, grateful for the support and encouragement of my friends, colleagues, readers and listeners. You’re all incredible in your own unique way.

Got Knitting All Ready for Upcoming Storms!

It’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it? And I was once a Girl Scout after all, with all the badges except ones about cooking and house keeping. That may explain why I’m so thrilled we will soon have someone to clean my house again.

I have two hours before it rains, according to this app.

Oddly enough, though, preparing for storms is one of my favorite activities. I love it when it’s all dark and gloomy out, because I feel cozy and sleepy, which is perfect for knitting and watching storms. I’ve been busily catching up on all my work, knowing that I’ll need to shut down if a big storm hits (see, I’m prepared!). And my current knitting project is beckoning me from right next to my desk. Ahh.

I enjoyed my lunch and am now taking my lunch-hour blogging break. As soon as I finish reviewing some work and doing one more meeting, I’ll shut down and enjoy that Severe Thunderstorm Watch that just popped up. I’ll be hoping it passes in time to take care of horses and Fiona!

The knitting is going slowly (mainly thanks to how sleepy my current mental state has made me), but it’s going well. I alternate between dishcloths and my beautiful Noro wrap.

You can see the beginning of the border.

The entrelac section is finally complete. It took exactly one skein of the yarn, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty for the second part, which is a lace-patterned border. That border is simple enough I don’t have to look at the instructions every row, too, so it is perfect for a lazy afternoon of rain-watching. I’m very happy that this yarn has such a long color repeat, because it will make a nice ombre effect on the border. The yarn the pattern actually called for has shorter and more abrupt color transitions, so I actually think this one will come out better!

I will have to block the piece once the border is done, which should square it up and flatten the little rectangles. Then there’s a crochet border that will really make the piece look finished, I hope, because the top edge that doesn’t have the lace border is pretty uneven looking to me. Gosh, I think I may actually finish this thing!

Back to the weather, we’re getting reports that lime-sized hail may come with the next storm, at least to my friends around Austin. I guess that’s good, since most of them are already planning to get new roofs after the previous storm, with “just” golf-ball sized hail. The spring storm season around here sure can be a doozy! Oh, and of course that is always followed by a couple of months of no rain at all. Love that Texas weather.

Indian blanket! Next come black-eyed Susans.

Hoping you are safe from whatever weather is afflicting your part of the world, and if it’s not being afflicted, that you enjoy a wonderful spring or autumn day! And don’t forget to let me know if you have anything you’d like to see me talk about here!

Dodged Another Weather Bullet

This year is starting out to be a strange one. We had the snow and ice, we’ve had hot weather already, and we’ve had some lovely days. One thing we haven’t had much of is rain. Thank goodness the snow melted slowly and helped saturate the ground. That spring is still flowing, after all!

The rain gauge

Lee keeps detailed records of our precipitation, made even more accurate by our fancy rain gauge I got from being a Master Naturalist. He reports that so far, this year is on the way to being the lowest rainfall since we started keeping records after the big drought in 2010. Every month has been below average. It’s like the opposite of the citizenry of Lake Woebegon, where all the children were above average.

Pretty dark for mid afternoon!

It’s been gray and dreary for a few days now, but we’ve only gotten a few hundredths of inches of rain each day. It’s been enough to get the ground wet, but not very deep.

That’s big hail! (photo from JCB in Leander)

Yesterday was our best chance at some rain, so I prepared by closing the big window on the chicken hatchery area. Lee shut the garage doors after we saw that our friends in Leander got really big hail. It was no exaggeration to say it was golf-ball sized. I foresee a lot of new roofs going up down there, and a lot of cars getting hail damage removed. It was a bad as the hail I watched in 2009, which ruined my Forester, while I watched it happen from the yarn shop. At least that hail was smaller, just larger in quantity.

A hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
We were fine. Gracie’s been through much worse, and Carlton just don’t care.

When the storm finally got to us, though, it was just very hard rain (of which the dogs are NOT fans), and a good amount, at last.

So far we have less than an inch, but we may get some more. I always know if we got measurable rain by the puddles on the driveway. If we get puddles, the rain amounted to something. Maybe that will help the tanks stay filled and the creeks flowing a little longer.

We got apples! Yum!

I was glad to see all the birds made it just fine, domesticated and wild. I’m so glad I have Star taking care of the chicks, because I keep reading about how much work it is to keep the temperature perfect for raising chicks without a mama hen.

Star’s protecting while the chicks are eating.

Good ole Star just raises up a bit to cool them off and hunkers down to keep them warm, between bouts of eating and drinking.

Can you see a chick peeping out?

It’s really fun to watch them growing and getting more inquisitive. I got to show them to Mandi yesterday, too. It’s pretty great to be able to see your friends again. Vaccinations are making my world better, that’s for sure.

What’s Recuperating from the Cold and Snow?

Since the weather is warm and it hasn’t started raining yet, I decided to see how the life around here is faring after last week’s bad weather. The first thing I found was that, indeed, the cold has messed the chickens up. Look what poor Buttercup laid!

Buttercup’s little egg, next to the normal one I found this morning.

Not all is bad for them, though. While they seem to dislike something in their scratch grain mix, the damp weather has been perfect for sprouting whatever it is. That will make good browsing for them or new chickens that we get!

At least the chicken run won’t be all dirt!
We prefer bugs.

I wondered if any insects and such were out, so I was happy to find a checkered butterfly and two lady bugs! I saw a moth, but it was too fast for me!

I found that most of the usual plants for this tome of year were blooming, but I was surprised to see a cranesbill had already managed to produce seeds!

Here are a few of the other blooming plants I saw. It was good to see them recovering.

I also found the wildflowers in good shape, including my favorite yellow daisies and bluebonnets. We’ll have color this year! And speaking of color, the cold gave some unusual leaf colorings.

I heard a lot of frog sounds from across the road, and plenty of birds. I heard a whooshing sound and turned around to see I’d disturbed some ducks on one of the tanks/ponds. I did get a photo of them flying, though I don’t know what kind they are.

Ducks, trees, clouds.

Spring is coming. Winter can’t stay forever. I’m glad I got some entries for iNaturalist today!

Grateful for Help and Relief

We are so relieved. The power came back on after just 28 hours. Lee and I were talking about spending the night in a hotel just to take showers and sleep normally, when Sara alerted me that she saw a power truck going toward our house. They did something at Mandi’s and across the street, and that fixed it!

Even my avatar who doesn’t look like me is relieved.

Lee and I were able to stop by and tell the Heart of Texas Electric Coop employee thank you. These people, especially linemen, work so hard in bad weather and good.

It’s a small rural electric coop. They are great.

I’m also grateful to my kind friends who offered to let us take showers at their houses, too. Also to our friends who are helping my sister, and our caregivers who whisked Lee’s brother to a place with heat and light last night. Plus, Ralph baked us some bread.

The cup of coffee Lee made me once we had power was incredibly delicious.

And my Austin neighbor dug out my water main control so if a disaster with water happens to us, we can fix it. After the adventure other neighbors went through last week, this brings peace of mind.

To be honest, we’ve had enough of this weather event, and are glad we’re on the backside of it. I still know folks with no power or water, though. I’m glad there are water distribution sites and warming centers.

Carlton is relieved that it’s over 60 degrees in the house for the first time since last weekend.

Please keep people in Texas in your thoughts. Most of us had nothing to do with weird power grid decisions and such. So many of us are embarrassed by uncaring elected officials and greedy jerks.

Enough. I’m gonna get ready for all the book reports I’m going to write!

The Sun Is So Bright

That yeah, we need shades. Wow is ole Sol making fast work of the ice. Even though it’s well below freezing outside, the ice is crashing and booming off the roof, and clear patches are starting to show up.

The image doesn’t do justice to the shininess.

The trees had rainbow diamonds in them this morning, and just look at the Chihuly sculpture our rain chain made!

Ice ice baby

I couldn’t write or work much yesterday, because the cell towers weren’t working. So Lee and I watched movies on DVD most of the day.

Cloudy yesterday.

I did make it out to check animals and see if we got any mail (no). Penney loved running and sliding on the ice. She went full tilt.

This is fun.

The layer of ice was over water in lots of spots. It was hard to find the right places to step. Neither Carlton nor I moved very fast.

This is NOT fun.

Ice is now falling off the roof again and booming, so the dogs are close by me. Penney and Carlton are even getting along!

All the toting and fetching of water has been hard on Ralph, so Sara and I are taking over for him now. I’m pretty sure the driveway has melted enough to get out! Freedom! Of course, the water supply is spotty.

From yesterday.

But, all in all, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I have my sunglasses ready. Maybe it will thaw out the water heater and heat pump and we can be clean and warm again inside!

Such a dreamer.

Diamond trees

I’m hearing my friends and coworkers in Austin are getting heat and power back, too. I sure hope some of the infrastructure issues can be fixed.

Reacting to Natural Disasters

Witnessing people’s reactions to the natural disaster event we’re going through here in central Texas has been most educational. People seem to fall into different groups, and I’ve been fascinated as I note their actions. I’ll share a few observations. Which of these are you?

Lee took this last night as the motion-sensor lights shone through icicles. Don’t stand under them.

The Helpers

I want to start out with these folks, because they impress me and keep my sliver of faith in humanity alive. All the sharing, caring and helping makes me so proud. Here are some examples I know of.

  • My coworker, Jason, lives out in the country near a road that has a banked curve. It froze over, of course, and people took it way too fast for the conditions (mostly because they were unaware). He and his son drove on a level back road until they were close to the road and proceeded to help people get unstuck, flagged cars down to slow them, and made sure everyone was safe. Most people had just abandoned their vehicles. He’s also monitoring the local NextDoor posts, and taking water and food to elderly neighbors. He sadly reported that some people just lectured others for not being prepared. I’m glad there are more people like him and his family out there being good neighbors.
  • My other coworkers are all sharing information, checking in, and offering to help. A woman in my department volunteered to boil water for people who have no electricity and can’t boil it for themselves (lots of people have neither water nor electricity right now).
  • Our business has a client who needs services, even in this weather. A Deputy from the Sheriff’s Department kindly drove our amazing Meghan to a neighboring smaller town than Cameron, because the roads were so bad. I can’t mention the kindnesses Meghan has performed this week, but some go way above and beyond her job duties.
Road conditions yesterday.

The Blamers

A lot of people with time and bandwidth seem to be using it to point fingers at various industries, businesses, and people for not doing a good enough job. I admit to being unhappy that nothing has been done about our road, with the icy bridge and the treacherous hill, but I know there are reasons for it (the district personnel had been under a COVID quarantine, AND Monday was a Federal holiday). I am trying to remember that no one set out to cause this mess on purpose. Still, I read a lot of this kind of stuff.

  • Texas is to blame for their own problems, because they are not on any US power grid. Well, none of US made that decision. Let’s deal with our weird system of buying power on an open marketplace and such later, and concentrate on making sure our linemen and other power service staff stay safe and get help.
  • The water companies are to blame for not maintaining pipes. Um. They need money to do that (and Cameron IS in the process of upgrading infrastructure). Also, when pipes burst, it ruins water pressure. Even homeowners who are doing their best to care for their pipes are having issues, so it’s no one’s fault.
  • People who dislike fracking and pipelines should just go build their own windmills for power. Okay, that is just dumb. The windmills didn’t freeze, anyway. Texas has a mix of power sources, which actually isn’t a bad idea…just no one could prepare for this stuff.
  • The President hasn’t come to save us. He’s a piece of sh**. Um, he cleared disaster funds days ago, when requested by the governor who’s the one who keeps bragging he don’t need no Federal dollars to help sick people. Meanwhile, Senator Cruz got on a plane and headed to a resort in Mexico. He can’t exactly fix things, but that still doesn’t make a great impression. I always enjoy it when the people who insult me for saying poor and/or homeless people can use some help and insist they pull themselves up by the bootstraps start blaming the government for not helping THEM whey THEY need it.
  • I’ll stop here. I do think blamers could better spend their time doing useful things.

The Bright-Siders

This is what I TRY to be, when I can. Like, right now puffed-up meadowlarks are flying around drinking water out of places where there is melting. And I have a lot of time to read and knit. Kathleen is the champion of not complaining ever, about anything. The power outage lets her use more candles, the ice formations in the field are pretty, etc. This is commendable, knowing what she’s actually dealing with and NOT sharing!

Who needs an icemaker, when you have this?

I see lots and lots of posts from people who are enjoying the birds and helping keep them alive with food and water. More than one has said watching birds has helped them get through the week in relatively good spirits. Thank you, Nature.

The Stoics

A lot of people are just muddling through. I guess that’s what you do when you truly don’t have any control over a situation and realize that complaining, blaming, or panicking isn’t going to change anything. They are conserving water and electricity (oops I am using it now), not endangering themselves on the road, and figuring out ways to eat and entertain themselves for another few days. They ask for help if needed, but try to be as self reliant as possible.

This seems like a good plan, to me.

And like Harvey, they find the warm spots and stay there (he found my heating pad and now loves me a lot more).

I’m gonna take care of animals, stay warm, and hope the satellite doesn’t go out again, so I can at least watch television. I have plenty of books and knitting, and the knitting keeps me warm. It’s my very first horrible natural disaster, so I’m learning things!

Stay safe, if your in the middle of this icepocalypse, and the rest of you be patient with people in this state. They just don’t have the infrastructure, and they have to live with the consequences of some interesting planning decisions.

Coping with Chaos!

In my bullet journal this morning is an entry saying:

Blog without whining

Suna

All right then. Today Lee and I are camping in the bedroom, where it is warm. Penney has discovered the space heater and has freed up Lee’s lap.

Happy dog, and coffee station.

Meanwhile, Carlton is under my layers of blankets and knitting. Oddly enough, I haven’t knitted much, due to checking in on people who have things much worse than I do. We certainly can’t go anywhere, as we now have a pretty layer of ice!

Carlton and shawl project, with Harvey butt.

I’m grateful to helpers today! Kathleen’s cows got more hay, and I have no idea how they got it there, unless they did it last night. And Ralph is heroically caring for the horses. He deserves a medal. I will eventually creep over to the chickens with warm water and food. I’m hoping they are still there.

Still, we cope.

Anita and Kathleen are both still without power. I’m grateful for Anita’s gas fireplace and Kathleen’s endless supply of candles.

Meanwhile, one of my coworkers has come down with gall bladder symptoms. For gosh sake! They already have no power and certainly can’t drive to a doctor. Another colleague had water coming through her entryway light fixture, and we ALL know water and electricity don’t mix! And, word just came in that an Austin neighbor has water pouring into their garage. No whining! At least it’s the garage and not inside!

Cameron residents don’t have to worry about water pipes bursting at the moment, since the water is off. Too many water lines burst. I’m just hoping my poor sister muddles through, since we can’t get to her! I appreciate all the news my friend Lynn sends, since she gets all the alerts.

And newsflash! Pamela reports no mail because no mail trucks have arrived in days. Lee says they also have computer trouble. At least the weather has downplayed that potential conspiracy theory generator.

Once again, though, I’m impressed with how people are supporting each other and staying in touch. My friends and family are being so kind and caring about sending me news! Now I gotta go check in on more folks.

Take care! We’re coping!