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.”

Summer Dead Stuff

Hey again. I’ve got some more deep thinking coming up, but first I have to say it’s hard to get anything at all done this time of year, because there’s always something interesting and deceased laying around.

Our first thing isn’t dead, just empty. That’s the tiny nest the baby finch tried to fall out of yesterday. It’s so small and exposed! But birds successfully fledged.

Awkward photo of awkward bird nest

The next best is bigger and more protected.

There’s still a bird in there.

But at least two fledglings ended up on the porch this morning!

Continue reading “Summer Dead Stuff”

Native Beauty

Once the weather settled down a bit yesterday, the local insect-eating birds had a feast (including my chickens). There were a couple of phoebes sitting on our fence wires and zipping down to pluck tasty morsels, but the most excited birds had to be our barn swallows, who view our home as a very nice barn to live on.

When will that human LEAVE?

We discovered a new nest right above the door the dogs use to go in and out. They are a poly family, I guess, with an extra member to help feed the little ones once they hatch. Here are two of them looking displeased at me while the third one was in the nest thinking about pooping on me, no doubt. Because they are so close to the dog door, their chattering and chirping is very easy to hear in the family room. Luckily we like our noisy neighbors.

Getting back to Austin

This morning I drove back to Austin later than usual, so I’d be sure to be able to see any flooded spots along the road. I saw a lot of places that obviously were road closure spots over the weekend, judging by the debris patterns.

Just to the left is the main road, with soda machines. Apparently a church got all messed up, too.

The saddest thing, though, was driving by the old building in San Gabriel that held the hamlet’s only “business,” two soda machines. It was surrounded by red tape declaring it a danger. The darned tornadoes got it. Here’s an article.

Today is another day

Happily, today turned out to be beautiful. Anita and I enjoyed looking at some of the native plants and insects we pass by on our walks. Two were right outside our house, next to a steep rocky slope.

Cedar sage outside the Bobcat Lair (our Austin house)

No matter how hard the landscapers try, they can’t get rid of all the beautiful plants that were here before the development was here. Case in point is the cedar sage you see here. It’s native habitat is cedar brakes on caliche, where the ashe junipers are located. They like the rocky hillsides. Yep, these beautiful flowers cover the rocks our house sits on, right under the native trees that got to stay when the neighborhood was built (now they qualify as “heritage” cedars, so allergic people can’t cut them down).

Slender false pennyroyal

Nearby were these lovely little plants with tiny pink blossoms. There are many tiny plants with pink blossoms this time of year, but these looked different from all the others I’ve been finding. Sure enough, they are slender hedeoma (Hedeoma acinoides). There is not much about them in iNaturalist, but a quick check of their habitat shows it’s mainly the middle of Texas. It’s a local! Further checks found that their common name is slender false pennyroyal. I learned something new!

At the mailbox, my housemate, Anita, started jumping around, and I saw that there was a large winged insect flying and landing, which caused that reaction. I got everything nice and calm so I could photograph it.

Extreme crane fly closeup.

It appears to be a crane fly, but I’m not sure which one it is. It could be Tipula tricolor or Tipula furca, juding by the wings. I assume someone on iNaturalist will set me straight. I thought it was nice of the crane fly to hold still so I could get such a good picture!

What have you been seeing? Care to share?