Christmas in May.

We headed out to the lake yesterday.  The rains have FINALLY been falling over the basin that flows into Lake Travis.  We have been watching the LCRA lake levels like kids in a candy store.  The lake is up to over 648′ today!  which is up about 25′ from where it has been stuck for the last few years.  We still want more – 30 more feet and brimming would be nice – but boy was it thrilling to see.  I actually felt my heart rejoice.  :)

The band of grey, exposed limestone is thinner now.  Sometimes Islands are islands again!  I’m glad I spent one afternoon walking the length of the peninsula while it was exposed earlier this year.

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Our marina has moved half of its dock back to shore.  All of the ramps for the letter docks are floating.  And one of our boat ramps is usuable again.  We went for a sail with Kurt and Kevin.  We saw alot of debris in the water.  And alot of these….. balls of red ants floating in the lake.   Beware folks, you do NOT want to swim into one of these!

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We anchored in our cove and spent the afternoon marvelling over how great it was to finally have our lake back.   :)

Oh, and…. i want one of these:

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Every rose has its thorn.

When we moved to this house, I scoped out all the plants and trees in the yard, looking forward to taking care of them:   the amazing live oaks all over the place, a couple of pecan trees that are majestic but don’t seem to want to produce nuts, a redbud that has since died (sniffle), the ginormous red oak in the front yard, the (now ailing) flowering pear, the resilient Texas mountain laurels, several red yuccas that I love to watch bloom, silverado sage that forecasts the rain, a mimosa tree in the back with its fine pink puffy blooms… just to name a few…AND one tiny cactus that seemed to be too much in the shade.

It was small in the beginning.  Monte mowed over it accidentally way back when, after which I staked it out with a ring of limestone.  But now after 9 (!) years and much thinning of the small forest under which it sat, it has sunlight, and has thrived.   And I am happy to see two buds on it this year!   The first one opened today.  I’m enjoying my flowering prickly pear cactus.  Perhaps this is the yellow rose of Texas?

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Chasing sunsets.

We popped into our local public house for dinner and some cards tonight.   On the way home we were treated to an awesome sunset… complete with rainbow and mammatus clouds (Monte looked it up).   We had to dash around a bit and didn’t get a good shot, but hopefully this gives you an inkling of how beautiful it was.

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Wall-to-wall. 

This part of New York is quite scenic, striped with miles of meandering stone walls.  I like to think they were stacked by hand in the 1800s, bordering pastures and property lines.  Slow work, I’m sure, but enduring.   

 I’m headed home.  TGIF!! 

 

Bed time. 

I got a bit of a late start, but I finally tended to my fenceline flowerbed.   Plumbago, liriope, red salvia, autumn sage, gaillardia, may night salvia, tickseed, geranium, flowering sage,  and a couple white annuals. 

I’m looking forward to some color!  

Yeah, I’m a sherpa. 

Three of my girlfriends have ridden in the MS-150 for nearly each of the last 15 years.   It’s a 2-day Houston-to-Austin cycling event and fundraiser to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.  And when they do ride, I go with them as their sherpa.  My duties consist of helping schlep things as needed, keeping the wine flowing Friday night, delivering them to the starting line Saturday morning, and making sure their vehicle gets back to Austin.   It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. 

This is the first time I snagged one of the bandanas for myself.  :)  Please consider donating to help fund a cure. 

This year’s ride is impacted by the recent rains.   Notifications went out this afternoon that Day 1’s ride was cancelled, but we’re in Houston tonight and will do what it takes to get our riders on their way.  

Heavenly views.

Yesterday I returned home from several weeks in Seattle.   I had my nose glued to the window, as usual.  It is so easy to take for granted that we have the luxury of being able to view our planet from the vantage point of the angels.

A front was moving in from the east, bringing a late dump of snow in the Cascades.  This is a shot of it moving in over Southcenter, looking east.

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The cloud deck must have been about 15000 ft.  Mount Rainier was buried in clouds. Can you find it?  This shot is looking east, flying south.  If you look closely in the bottom left of the frame,  you can see another jet flying below us.IMG_7948

Then we turned east, flying below Mount Rainier.   Little Tahoma peak stuck its head out, right of the summit.IMG_7955The mighty Columbia River brings life to eastern Washington.  Irrigation circles dot the landscape near Paterson.IMG_7962Cotton ball clouds somewhere over Texas.IMG_7973

Back on the ground.  Glad to be home.

Embracing the No.

I’m gonna give it a whirl – saying “no,” I mean.  Not to everything.   Just to a few well chosen requests made of me.   See how it goes.   If I turn out to be really good at it, there may be no stopping me!  :)

No reason for this shot across Hood Canal as the sun heads for the horizon other than that it is calm and serene.   That’s what I’m going for.

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See the forest.

Another shot from yesterday’s walk through the woods.   I found myself literally surrounded by trees as far as my eye could see — much like I feel with my todo lists from work and home.   It was a reminder to try to keep the big picture in perspective, and not get hung up on the little things.

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Jazz it up.

One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions was to dedicate some time to learning.  Have you heard of MOOCs – massive open online classes?  Well, there are MANY online courses on every subject imaginable, hosted from many different institutions and web portals.   They are free – if audited, and are taken online from the comfort of your couch.  Ten weeks ago I enrolled in a MOOC on Jazz Appreciation on edx.org, along with 11,000(!) other students.  I love all kinds of music, but I really didn’t know much about Jazz, and I thought if I learned a bit more about it, its eras and artists, that I might enjoy it even more.

Today I finished the course.   I highly recommend it.   I now know a bit more about early jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free jazz, fusion, and neo-classical eras.  I know that Coltrane was THE MAN on tenor sax.  I know that Miles varied his music on trumpet to influence many eras.  I found out that I really like the pianist Bill Evans and will seek out some of his albums.  I understand why Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk transcend a specific Jazz era.  I decided that I don’t care as much for bebop – no offense to Dizzy and the Bird.  I enjoy early jazz and modal and hard bop and cool.   I can distinguish blues form from AABA form.   I can listen for the bass and drums to try to pick out swing from even-8th rhythm.   I heard many snippets of a variety of performances from artists that I was already aware of, whetting my interest to hear more by them.  And I learned about some of the newest artists to appear on the Jazz stage.  Professor Hellmer was great.

All and all, a great class!  Aaaaaand, I got an A.  :)

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openculture.com maintains a list of over a thousand MOOCs here.  Take a look, pick one out that sounds interesting, and enroll!