Prairie Patrol

The front pasture at our house hasn’t had herbicide applied to it, so it’s full of wildflowers, grasses, and riparian plants (by the arroyo). Since our internet tower got messed up and I can’t use the computer to write, I thought I’d share some images from walking around the pasture after a rain. It’s really windy, so the grasses are blowing around.

Lemon bee balm by the pond.
Meadow pinks and grass-leaved rush
Black-eyed Susan or something.
Grass arrangement
By the back fence.

Willows and Wildflowers

Wandering around the ranch this evening a theme for a photo essay came to me. We have so many river willow trees and so many wildflowers, why not showcase them in a photo essay! Enjoy.

Willow, thistle, and Mexican hats.
Pink evening primrose, stream, willow.
Thistle, willow
Indian blankets, willows, pond
My favorite. Vetch and old bent willow.

The Little Garden That Could

It’s been so much fun checking out what’s growing in my tiny garden outside my office. Every day, there’s a little bit more to see in and around it. This little space supports so much life!

This morning, I found the Inca doves poking around in the area where there’s dirt. I wondered where they were living, and then they were kind enough to show me! They have a nest right above our carport light! I love these birds, because they are calm, busy, and beautiful when they fly. The underside of their wings is a russet red, which makes them easy to identify, and looks beautiful.

Hello from the Casa de Inca

I looked a little closer before I went into the office, and saw even more life, on a tiny scale. I saw something yellow on the milkweed plant and was all excited that it might be monarch eggs or something, but when I got closer, the yellow dots moved. They are very bright aphids with little black legs. Turns out they are oleander aphids, which are also, conveniently enough, known as milkweed aphids. Well, the plants are supporting their tiny life, so I let them keep sucking away.

MMMMMilkweed! (I don’t know what the black aphids are)

Over to the left, something moved on a common lantana flower (which Linda Jo, my iNaturalist identifier, called “not one of the good ones”). There was a tiny, tiny fly. It has stripes that make it look like a bee or wasp, but it’s one of the little flies that lives on nectar from flowers, a calligrapher fly. I guess it does look like it has writing on it!

I can’t write calligraphy, but I am pretty.

And finally, when I stood up, I saw one little dayflower that did not look like all its beautiful blue friends. It’s a white sport! I love it when I find the oddballs of nature smiling up at me.

I’m a standout

What a great way to start one’s day, just noticing the bounty of life around me. This really is a little garden that could…be full of life!

What about me? I’m living in the little garden, too!

One More

I have to share, because it’s so pretty, this black swallowtail caterpillar on my bronze fennel plant at the ranch (one of two herbs that didn’t die in my planter). I’m so happy to support future beautiful butterflies!

I’m pretty even before metamorphosis! And this fennel is delish!

I Have a Little Garden

Now for some cheerful nature fun. I’ve mentioned that I spent a lot of time weeding the space right next to the back entrance to the Hermit Haus building, with the goal of making it a wildflower garden.

My little wildflower garden

I’m really happy with how it’s turned out now that the plants I want have a chance to shine and the ones I don’t want are mostly gone. The happy little lantana plants are growing bigger by the day and blooming away. All we had to do is stop mowing!

Maybe they’re a weed, and maybe they’re poisonous, but they are pretty.

The day flowers are also blooming, um, daily. But the best thing is that this tiny corner of land supports so much life.

This is a duskywing moth. You can see some straggler daisies in the back, and the grass-like leaves are the dayflowers.

Every day I see butterflies and moths stopping by, and there’s a family of spotted whiptail lizards that lives in the hole next to the garden.

This is the biggest of the whiptail lizards. Note that the lizard is shedding its skin.
Mockingbird on the lookout

I see mockingbirds every day, probably looking for the many insects that fly and crawl around, and there are also house finches and and the Inca doves.

I’m going to find another couple of native perennials to put in, and maybe one of the fancy verbenas as a contrast. The success of the little Hermit Haus garden makes me smile every day. And I’m really happy, not faking it.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Weeds (la la la)

The need to focus on things that aren’t related to pandemics and other stress-causing circumstances has continued to this morning, so I took a break and checked out what’s going on around the Hermit Haus offices. My main focus was my “wildflower garden,” but I branched out. That got me lots more entries in iNaturalist, too!

The “wildflower garden” next to the stairs. It is about to get pretty.
The seeds are shiny in the sun.

I have to say that I find it fascinating how varied the plants are in what looks from a distance like a lawn. Actually, there’s very little turfgrass, just a few sprigs of our nemesis the coastal Bermuda. The one other grass is what they call nutgrass around here, but is actually purple nutsedge, a nonnative plant that sure likes to grow here. I have pulled up many, many sprouts of it in the “wildflower garden,” and there are still more. However, I think the seed heads are quite beautiful.

The lantana bud is pretty in its own right. Nutsedge is coming up behind it.

The area I am using as a showcase for the “weeds” that grow up around our building has lots and lots of lantana in it. I noticed those trying to bloom last year before the weedeater got them, so I decided to ask that this one area be left alone. The lantana are now getting nice and big, and are just about ready to start their late spring blooming festival.

Continue reading “These Are a Few of My Favorite Weeds (la la la)”

Mellow Yellow Overload

Now, for something completely different. I did a fun (to me) project yesterday that didn’t require any human contact nor leaving the property where our office is. I decided to see how many different yellow flowers I could find in the weed/wildflower collection known as our empty lot. As you can see, I managed to fill a whole screen in iNaturalist!

Most of the field LOOKS purple, because there is so much storks-bill growing in it, but when you look closer and closer, the yellows dominate (purple is in second place, with field madder and a little patch of grape hyacinth that must be left over from when there was a house here – I plan to replant them in the “flower bed” I’m making).

What have we got? Let’s take a look. Many of these flowers look really similar, but are different sizes or have other subtle differences.

Common Dandelion. Taraxacum officinale. Delicious and nutritious. Bees love them.

False Dandelion.
Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. Plus a tiny wasp and tinier beetle.

Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper. It’s everywhere. And very prickly. Note that there are aphids or something on it.

Smooth Cat’s Ear. Hypochaeris glabra. Looks like a teeny dandelion on a very long stem. Compare to the first dandelion and you’ll see how small it is.

Cutleaf Evening Primrose. Oenothera laciniata. Smaller than most evening primrose, but a beautiful buttery yellow.

Crete Weed. Hedypnois cretica. I thought it was a dandelion, but look at the leaf and the cool petal shape.

Woodsorrels. Genus Oxalis. I’m not sure which one it is, but it’s certainly oxalis. Sour tasty leaves!

Bur Clover. Medicago polymorpha. It’s about finished blooming and starting to make burs. Yellow is a hard color for my camera, and I couldn’t get a good shot of these.


Straggler Daisy
. Calyptocarpus vialis. Lots of leaves, tiny flowers. They are pretty up close, though.

I got a lot of bugs and other things, but I’m just going to leave this parade of yellow-ness alone, in all their glory. I’ll see what other themes I can come up with over the next few weeks as all the flowers bloom away.

Remorse Is Complicated and Unhealthy

When I saw that remorse was the UU Lent word to think about today, I got a sinking feeling. There’s something I’m familiar with and that I’ve really had to grapple with a lot.

Remorse is a distressing emotion experienced by a person who regrets actions which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or wrong. Remorse is closely allied to guilt and self-directed resentment.

The Wikipedia

The key here is that remorse has to do with something that a person deems to have been wrong, not that anyone else might necessarily view it that way. And the part about guilt and self-directed resentment sounds really, really familiar to me. I don’t know that remorse is something we should be cultivating for good mental health.

Way too much of my life, this was my internal monologue.

I know. I did some things in my twenties that really were unfair to people I loved, hurt them, and in retrospect, I see are very wrong, even though I couldn’t see it at the time in my immature and very confused mental state.

The remorse I felt after that led me down a path of further poor decisions, because I was so upset with myself that I felt I didn’t deserve to look for a happy life, a good job, or close friendships. I felt like I’d just let everyone down. And the poor self image my remorse led to absolutely ensured I’d lose friends, chase away partners, and treat myself unkindly. Ugh.

The Instagram of the day. I did love that poopy, butt-scooting pug.

It took a lot of work after my divorce from my children’s dad to learn to forgive myself of my mistakes and stop trying to make it all better for people I disappointed. I learned to move forward and learn how to deal with my hormones and childhood abandonment issues in a respectful, adult way (with the occasional totally human slip-up).

My dog forgives me, so should I.

If you are feeling bad about yourself, you can get to a new place, too. Therapy is your friend. So is Brene Brown.

Right now, I’m experiencing periodic remorse about what happened to my relationship with my older son. I’m not even sure if I did something awful or he’s embarrassed about something or what. I try to stick to sadness over the loss of a relationship to dear to me, rather than blaming myself or imagining hurtful things I might have done. It’s tough. Remorse is hard.

Spiderworts behind the Pope Residence say hello, and are happy, even after being mowed.

Enough brutal honesty for one day, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. enjoy some flowers.

It’s a parasite, but it feels no remorse (Texas paintbrush). At the Hermits’ Rest.