I Went to Work and Found Rainbows

Spoiler: the rainbow was not at work. But it’s true, I’ve been in my current job 11 months and had never been to “the office” until today. Well, I’d been to the first floor of the building many times, because I’d worked there on three separate instructional design gigs from 2006-2009.

Early departure!

I had a dentist appointment in Cedar Park (same dentist I’ve had for 20 years) this morning and really didn’t want to miss 4 hours of work to do it. Why work at a coffeehouse when Dell has an entire campus full of desks and wifi, and I have a badge to get in? So after my great dental cleaning (I glossed sufficiently) I went to find where the department I’m in has its seats.

A seat.

It was hard to find the cute little place assigned to the department I’m attached to. The stairs to it are unmarked! Luckily a guy I asked happened to have found the place last week, so he showed me, and reminded me where the cafeteria and the coffee shop where Lee and I fell in love were. No coffee anymore, but there is still a little food at the cafeteria.

A ping pong table!

Whoever designed this area took lessons from whoever did the Planview interior, but this is somehow soothing with all the white and light blue. It might be a nice place to work if more people were there. Today there was one other dude. It was quiet!

It’s sorta pretty for a space where no one has their own desk.

Yes, I had to reserve a “workspace.” I felt so modern and efficient. This is something that would take time to get used to, since I make a nest out of my work area. But, that’s not my worry! I’ll probably only come back a few more times before this job expires! Working from home is great, but this was a nice break.

The chatting area. Very near the sanitizing station.

I headed home with a stop by Tractor Supply for horse and chicken food. It’s always a little shocking to see all the changes along my route now that I do t drive back and forth every week. There are new traffic lights, a new gas station, and houses going up. I’ll be back next week, so it won’t change too much.

Welcome back, clacked the storks

The weather is so weird this time of year. Halfway home I hit an intense rainstorm with hail and flash flooding. I’m glad my car has a rain mode. It was clear at the Hermits’ Rest when I got home, so I was able to feed the horses. The second I was done, rain started.

It was dry in there ten minutes earlier!

It stopped pretty quickly, so I was able to feed the chickens. I saw the sun come out, and there was the bookend to my day!

Hooray!

It was a good day, even with all the driving. Time to relax. I hope your day had some nice surprises!

Old Friends Return

Some of my things from Austin I don’t miss at all, while others have left a bit of a hole in my heart. Today some of my favorite things returned and it feels good.

My petit point flowers from 1993

I had most of my needlepoint wall hangings at the Bobcat house. This one was in my bedroom (as were the other old friends). I made it in 1993 when Declan was a baby. Today he brought it back to me.

It’s so pretty

The six-sided frame was made by my ex and his friend. They worked so hard in the garage of our sweet house in Champaign, Illinois, ciphering the angles, cutting the wood, and staining the frame. This may be the only thing he ever made for me, so I’ll treasure it always.

These two pictures I made after Anita got here, I think when we were in the casita. I made them for the Bobcat house, though. They were in my bedroom. The fun donkey has a yellow background to go with my old bedroom, which no doubt is white now! I really enjoyed making these, and I’m glad I’ll get to look at them every time I go upstairs from now on. Lee was very kind to hang them so quickly!

What’s this?

My knitting friends know that these two old friends are among my favorite things, and I’ve missed them! It’s an umbrella swift and ball winder that take loose hanks of yarn and turns them into pull-skeins, which we like to call “yarn cakes.”

Finished products.

You may recall that the yarn for the macho granny square project came in hanks. I wound the first two by hand, which my watch thought was an elliptical machine workout.

Before. These are hanks of yarn. Fancy yarn comes in hanks that you must wind yourself.

I mentioned that somewhere in the stuff from Austin were these useful items, but they were hard to find, since the boxes weren’t organized. Well, by gosh, they’re organized now and my equipment and art showed up! It’s going to make finding things for the pool house and another project that’s coming up a lot easier! Maybe I’ll find some old kitchen friends!

Squares in progress. This will be cute!

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting some pretty good rain. There is even some water in the front pond again, which means there’s been runoff. If the predictions are right, we’ll be back to green grass and full ponds next week.

Not impressed? Well there was just the barrel last week.

Or, knowing central Texas weather, it will flood soon. Our old friends, the floods. Better than droughts and fires!

It’s so nice to sit outside.

Off to start a fun weekend. Wow. I am becoming a little more social!

Hey, It Rained

And it might even rain again! The bottom of my screen says, “rain coming,” and it’s raining at my coworker in Cedar Park’s house. We are so excited about the mere idea of rain that he sent an IM that he heard thunder.

So says my laptop

It actually rained .37″ last night, complete with much thunder and lightning that the dogs didn’t like. It was music to MY ears, however!

I’m amazed at the signs of life I keep seeing this summer. Lee says this is probably going to be the driest year since we started measuring (we were not here every day during 2011, so we don’t have daily records for then). Trees are turning brown, which is scary, but some things are doing well.

Ruellia is especially happy this year, according to my Master Naturalist friend. It’s more of a desert plant, which makes sense. Some hardy non-natives are hanging around. Yesterday, I got some photos of crepe myrtles, spider lilies and one very confused rain lily at a house we’re working on.

And today I saw some zyzotes milkweed looking strong and happy, along with broomweed, velvet weed, and frog fruit.

Plus, something smelled very, very good over by the dry ole creek, and I realized it was thousands of tiny balloon weed flowers in the creek bed. White flowers do tend to smell good, I’ve found. I guess I’d never been around so many of them before, so I never noticed the lovely aroma. These vines don’t usually catch your attention until autumn when the fascinating seed pods appear.

Enjoy the photos and hope the promised additional rain comes here. We need it so badly.

Rain, and Other Things That Pass for Excitement around Here

You know when we are bordering on yet another drought around here when the grass starts to crunch under your feet when you walk across the fields. In the past week or so, even our relatively green pastures had started to get crunchy. Other parts of the state have it a lot worse (not to mention other parts of the US. But we here in scenic Milam County care about the Hermits’ Rest microclimate the most! Because of that, I was extra happy to hear drops falling onto the roof this morning.

A welcome sight.

I went out to feed the chickens (and would have fed Drew, but he ignored me) this morning and saw we’d gotten two tenths of an inch. Even that much made Lee happy. I was really hoping for more, since we hadn’t even gotten any puddles yet. I watched the forecast and tracked clouds on the radar. More was coming.

Thank you, clouds

April is a kind of weird month here. Sometimes we get hardly any rain and sometimes it’s a lot. This year has been on the scant side.

Today’s rain will make this month no longer the least rain since Lee has been measuring (and yes, the dates go right to left – thanks to Lee for the graphic).

Today has gone well, though listening to the steady rain makes me a little woozy. We are getting the good kind of rain, with no tornadoes, hail (far as I can tell), or other severe stuff. Just a nice rain that has finally filled up Lee’s “pond” and given the new gutters a workout. The fact that it’s up to a half inch is exciting for us!

Other things that pass for exciting are small. For example, I’ve had a pot that appeared to be a pot of dirt sitting on my porch for going on two months. I was beginning to think that Lowe’s had sold me a pot of dirt rather than some bulbs in dirt. At last, things have poked up and someday there will be calla lilies and caladiums in there.

At last, life appears. I am proud of myself for not digging in there and checking to see if anything was growing.

My nails also are exciting this week. I had been doing them in boring ways while some problem nails grew out, but this week I layered flowers over a nice turquoise color and got something that really goes well with my overly abundant rings. By the way, I am using the ColorStreet stuff. I find it works very well for me and lasts about ten days. I can even do nail repairs and it helps keep them looking fine. (I’m actually going to break down and do an MLM party for this stuff, just because some friends want to get some of the colors, and I could use some freebies.) I don’t like it (or anything) enough to sell it, but I can help some other woman make money, even though I am not a fan of MLM “small businesses” in general (here’s where I ranted about that once). The particular sales person I am using right now actually is a good marketer and has nail tips even I, a person who’s been doing her nails since 9th grade, didn’t know.

And that’s it for my blissfully rainy day. Oh, wait, one more thing. I got us more of the pool floats that we like so much. I call it my yacht. Kathleen has a much bigger yacht, but it likes to blow away. One of the man-folk in the family actually asked if I could get a bigger one for him, so I got one in XL. When they arrived I got a chuckle out of the stereotypical bathing-suit lady in the regular one and manly man in the XL (though he is not an XL man, in my opinion). At least they are racially ambiguous; they could be mixed, white, black, Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or maybe even Pacific Islander. That’s rather good. My favorite part of the packaging, though, is where they have one of those square things to scan. I found the fact that “scan me” is “scanne-moi” in French is pretty funny.

Like I said, it doesn’t take much to pass for excitement around here, and with all the other stuff going on, anything that brings a laugh is good with me.

Welcome Rain, Unwelcome Wind

It’s been drier that usual the past couple of months, so we are happy to see a reasonable amount of rain today. One of the cool things about the ranch house is that there’s always a porch you can sit on when it rains.

Goldie is looking for that darned pool robot, her enemy.

Rain doesn’t stop the wildlife action, though. I went out in the drizzle to get the mail and heard a sound. I looked up to see one of those huge flocks of starlings going over.

And who doesn’t love a rainy wildflower, even an annoying one?

The crows are in full murderous activity, too. They’ve been trying out all their caw variations and flying back and forth, as if on a mission.

That’s where they are, but not at the photo time. I’m glad to see the cleared area growing some cover.

It’s funny. The minute the crows stop, the songbirds start up. Cheerio cheerio! Peep peep! Chirp chirp! Cardinals, sparrows of various kinds, and the little chickadees enjoy breaks in the rain to get some food.

A full pool

The wind keeps whipping up and making waves and waterfall splashes in the pool. I foresee spillover. But at least so far the new plants are holding down the outdoor rug. Suna triumphs over nature! So, that was at lunch…

Wave action.

Time Marches On

I went back in and tried to work. It’s gotten windier and windier, and sure enough, we are now under a tornado watch. Of course, I’m alone. So, I hefted all the patio furniture up close to the house and tried to make everything as heavy as possible. Usually things up against the house make it in our heavy wind periods. I think the horses will be fine all lined up in their shelter.

Whatcha doin’ Suna? This is fun!

If there’s a tornado, well, I just wasted a lot of money on plants.

Nope, that’s not gonna help in a tornado, but it does keep them from blowing all over the yard in a gale.

I’m sure all will be well, and if not, I’ll get to try to herd the dogs into the storm shelter. Let’s hope all is well, ok?

Rain, Rain, You Can Stay

I had it in my head that today I could mess with horses after work. Two things prevent that. One is that it’s rained all day. The other is that I’m feeling wiped out from the weekend. You wouldn’t think just watching a clinic would be so tiring!

It also thundered. Three dogs tried to get under my desk.

I think I breathed in a bit too much arena dust. I slept hard last night, except I kept dreaming of building project plans in the software I train. That’s exhausting, too. I did take a COVID test (thanks to the government) so Sara could be sure I hadn’t infected her yesterday. Nope. I’m just tired and a wee bit stressed out.

Nowadays a slight sniffle makes you worry!

So, other than running out to feed chickens, I’ve been sedentary today. At least I lived through my first early meeting of the next three weeks of those! They should be interesting, though, so I have no complaints, especially since we will be helping folks out.

No swimming today. And yes, those jet covers will not stay on.

A day like this is good, though. I got to think a lot about what to do next month, made plans for more horse stuff, and figured out some mental health issues I’ve been dealing with, nagging rumblings and grumblings leftover from past struggles. I’ll have to deal with that soon. Until then, it’s time to snuggle with my canine buddies and enjoy the much-needed rainfall.

A cushion per dog. Penney is on my lap.

Take care, all. We all have burdens right now. Few of us are at our best.

And we all have fears. But they will pass like the thunder.

Going Cuckoo over Gloomy Beauty

It’s time for another post with mostly photos. The rainy day brought a lot of sights, from a bird and insects I’d never seen before to animals dealing with water. That’s right, the title of this post isn’t an insensitive ableist phrase, I actually saw a cuckoo!

In the center is a yellow-billed cuckoo!

I knew we had them here, but I’d never seen a cuckoo before. It must have been recovering from the most recent downpour. I read that these birds are called storm birds, because they tend to sing after a storm. This one wasn’t singing.

Close up.

The other fun part of today was enjoying the wet animals. Poor Fiona thought she was trapped in one of the pens until Apache walked over and showed her it wasn’t a lake.

I’m outa here!

Here are some other images from around the pens.

Here are my insect finds. most are new to me, but not the fire ants. They messed up my foot night before last.

I’ll close with more moody weather photos. It was a pretty interesting day after all.

Lughnasadh Blessing

Yesterday was not only our third anniversary of Vlassic arriving at our ranch, but it was Lughnasadh or Lammas, the early harvest festival in the Celtic tradition I enjoy observing (among many traditions).

This is our fun wheel of the year calendar we hang on the wall. You rotate it to put the current season on top. From sacredsource.com

One thing people do for this celebration is thank Mother Nature for her bounty. Today we’re thanking her for a surprise rain event that’s filled up the little pond and made some good puddles.

Lee’s new and improved drainage system also works!

We had already had an inch of welcome rain by the time I went out this morning, and we’ve had more heavy showers since. Wow, we might have the creek flowing well into this month! It had started to dry up from the previous rain, but this is a nice reprieve!

View out my window.

It’s a good thing Lee got lots of dirt moved around and made the bigger drainage pipes yesterday. His new pond might have gotten messed up.

Making a better path.

When he got overheated, he could sit and listen to his fountain, which makes it worthwhile!

Making things smooth. The rain will help!

I’m glad the horses are getting a free bath, and sure hope it dries out by afternoon! The rain has killed my ability to upload or download, so my work, both paid and voluntary, is hosed. The joys of rural life!

Note to grasshopper: that’s a fake plant. Hope it starts growing soon.

Enjoy whatever you’re celebrating this time of year. I’m going to rejoice in the fact that it’s only 77 F outside!

Happy 3 years to V. He is my biggest blessing of the season. Also, his nose seems to be healing.

Too Much Thunder

So, yesterday it didn’t rain but a little. Last night, though, a huge storm came up just before dawn, and there was lightning really near the house. This made for some scared dogs!

Didn’t look much better this morning.

Poor Penney was right on top of me. Everyone else was under the bed. It was scary for us!

We did get a break this morning, so between meetings I was able to go out and feed my guys and the chickens. Sadly, Barbara didn’t make it through the night. Poor dear. I hope to get another one like her, though.

The scalped back yard and more rain (wiggly things are tomato stakes)

Last night’s storm brought over an inch of rain. The second wave, which is still going on, has already brought another inch. The creek is well over its banks, and the poor horses are in mud again. We plan to get sand soon, and the very next thing in our plan is to add a lot more cover over the stalls.

We’re scared, so we are down here by Suna’s feet.

In the meantime, I don’t have a lot of hope for Trixie making it today. There’s no place to work on horses that isn’t all muddy.

I’ll just hang around in the house, with all these huddled dogs and hope it clears up. Definitely a weird July in these parts.

Wettest July at Hermits’ Rest – How Do I Know?

Guess what? There’s still rain in the forecast for today. That means it will have rained every day so far in July. So, we’ve had no friends over, no family celebration…not much of anything. But that’s okay, I’ve had time to read and clean. Yesterday, it really rained a lot. We knew it was at least two inches, because the tanks filled up.

The overflow was overflowing!

If it just rains a little, the water rises just a bit in the front tank. It doesn’t usually overflow unless there is runoff from its main sources:

  • The small pond by the house (we built a ditch to funnel the water thee)
  • The big tank over at the Wild Hermits front pasture (that comes through the arroyo)
  • The cotton field across the road (there is a culvert, and it also just comes over the road)
  • Runoff from the tank and other areas by Sara’s house (they are higher than us), which goes down their driveway at quite a clip

One reason we built the tank where we did is we knew it would have a lot of water flowing in, so it would not dry up too often. So far, it hadn’t totally dried up yet.

Water is swiftly flowing down the driveway, taking lots of road base with it. Photo by Lee.

All of THAT water quickly fills up our little tank, which then sends water down our stream to Walker’s Creek. This is all pretty spectacular right after a hard rain. When we went to feed the horses (by car, because it was flooding), water was over the road and much of the driveway to the horse pens. It was flowing strongly. By the time we went back, it had already settled down to a brisk flow.

After the rain. Photo by Lee.

Now, in the fall and spring, this is going to happen a few times. That’s how it rains here, with dry spells followed by floods. However, it rarely rains much at all in July. In fact, today is July 5, with rain in the forecast, and it is already the wettest July we’ve had since Lee started tracking it right after the Big Drought in 2011-2012.

All the years but 2021 are for the whole month. And no, I don’t know why Lee tracks data with the current year on the left, but I’m just grateful for the data.

One of the things people are noticing about this year is that everything seems to be skewed a month late, thanks for the Winter Storm Uri event in February. Maybe we are getting June’s usual rain pattern, just a bit late. Or Global Warming. I don’t know; I’m not a meteorologist.

Here’s our rain pattern since we’ve been here. You can sure see when we have floods! From Lee’s spreadsheet.

This year started out like it was going to be one of our dryer years, but who knows at this point? All I know is that the later the tanks fill up, the more likely they are to not go dry until the rains start up again in the fall. (Don’t let August fool you; most years it barely rains in July OR August.)

Hey, fellow cattle, isn’t this the most dangerous area to be standing, right where the culvert spurts out water and there’s scary clay? Yes! Let’s all stand here. (Last week, there was just a small puddle by the culvert.)

Texas weather is quite variable, so we’ve enjoyed tracking the patterns here in the Post Oak Savannah region. My guess is that the patterns where you live are also interesting, so I encourage you to get a good rain gauge, like the one we use, the Stratus Precision Rain Gauge, and start tracking. You can learn a lot about trends, as well as exceptions! I’m grateful to Lee for his diligence in his own Citizen Science project.

Built to the National Weather Service specifications, the Stratus is exceptionally accurate. It is the rain gauge of choice for official weather observers in the United States.

https://www.weatherstationadvisor.com/best-rain-gauge/

Now to go check on chickens and move Apache to the dry pen. It’s rather sloppy over there, so all of us slip and slide. I will be very glad when we can get back to work on the pens so we can move him, though I’ll wager our pens will also get muddy and slick, because they are on the clay soil, too. On the other hand, someone said that a couple inches of good rain would really pack down the new driveway. I’d say it’s pretty packed now.

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