Rise and shine.

Today’s morning sun illuminates the blooms on my Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) also known as Red Bird of Paradise.   Whichever, it’s gorgeous.

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Happy place.

My pollinator garden is in its 4th or 5th year, and though it takes work to keep ahead of all the weeds and Liveoak seedlings that grow as well as the perennial flowers in this patch, I truly enjoy it.  The purple coneflower, which I originally grew from seed, is back for the third year, and it makes me so happy to see all its blooms.

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Garden surprise.

I noticed a new volunteer perennial in my pollinator patch a few months ago.  It stayed green and alive through our mild winter.   I didn’t know what it was.  A few weeks ago it started blooming and is thriving amongst the returning salvia, sage, purple coneflower, vinca, and scabiosa.  I finally took a good look and did some research and was tickled purple to find out that they are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)!  I love winecups but find them very elusive in the sprawling fields of Central Texas wildflowers.  I’m glad they volunteered here in my garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one small plant has exploded with 3 or so long branches that are creeping out through the garden, low to the ground.  The blooms roll up every night and reopen in the morning.  🙂  The bees enjoy them, too.

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Redbud.

My favorite flowering tree is the Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis).  Their blooms are fleeting but gorgeous, some of the first of the year.  This bee likes them, too.

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Escape.

The societal and financial market upheaval caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is mounting at a feverish pitch (pardon the pun).  It is incredible to watch it unfold.

To get away from it, I retreated to the outdoors for some much-needed weeding and gardening.  About 3 years ago I started a small bed in the backyard intended for butterflies, bees, and birds.  Yesterday, I rummaged through it a square foot at a time, removing unwanted weeds, leaving the perennials that I want to see bloom again.  The bed is mostly sage, salvia, purple coneflower, scabiosa, and a few volunteers that I will have to wait a bit to correctly identify.  It doesn’t look like much today, but soon it will be filled again with blooms and flying fauna.

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Hanging in there.

I planted this impatiens last spring. I typically lose my annuals over the winter and just plant new ones in the spring. I babied this one through our warm winter and it has rewarded me with these beautiful late-winter blooms.

2019 moments.

This year sped by, but it was jam-packed with short adventures, wonderful visits with friends and family, lots of good food & wine, and a few projects squeezed in.

A quick breakdown:

  • States traveled to/within:  Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia
  • Countries traveled to/within:  US, Bahamas
  • Siblings visited:  Noreen & David, Brian, Colleen, Fran & Art, Susanne, Gene & Jo
  • Nieces & nephews visited:  Rachel, Julie, Neil & Miranda, Jared, Rebecca, Aaron, Jacob, Pat & Nga, Dan & Erin, Patricia & Florian, Michelle, Amy Lee & Chris
  • Great nieces & nephews visited:  Diego, Tionna & Alex, Will, Nick, Grace, Aly, Mae, Austin, Copeland, Anna Sutton
  • Great-great nephew visited:  X’ander
  • Births celebrated:  great-great-niece Aubrielle
  • Iron-men cheered on:  Jamie
  • Weddings celebrated:  Neil & Miranda, Dan & Erin
  • Friend & family visits to Austin:  Noreen & David, Susanne, Rob & Owen, Asha, Fran & Aaron, Rachel & Becky, Irene & Liz & Keith, and Noreen (one more time) 🙂

I’ve picked one photo from so many enjoyable moments of each month below:

January:  Sailing from Venice, FL through the Florida Keys, to Biscayne Bay; on a mooring ball at Garrison Bight Mooring Field off of Key West.  This was a magnificent trip.  The Keys are amazing.  We had enough time to really enjoy Key West and see the sights and maybe have one too many cocktails.  We hopped up the outside of the Keys, anchoring a few nights.  If I did this again I’d spend many more days in the Keys. We ended anchored outside of No Name Harbor near Miami for two weeks, which sounds like a long time but I thought it was a really nice place to be stuck, waiting for a weather window to go east to the Bahamas.

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February:  Sailing from Florida to Great Bahama Island and through the Abacos; dolphins in the Great Bahama Banks.  We enjoyed a really tame crossing to the West End from Miami, then spent several days making way through the bank and through the Abacos to get to Marsh Harbour.   It was a real treat to be back there for a while. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos this hurricane season, and they will rebuilding for the foreseeable future.

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March:  Springtime in the Hill Country means wildflowers.  I simply LOVE spring in the Hill Country.  Monte has cultivated an amazing bluebonnet patch at the chez.  I can’t wait to enjoy next year’s bloom, only 3 short months away.

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April: Spring migration means birding trips; a visit to the bird blind at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.  I spent much less time birding this year than I would have liked.  But I did make several trips to the coast at the peak of migration, and will definitely do it again this coming year.

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May:  A visit to the Pacific Northwest; a view from Mount Rainier National Park.  I have always loved Mount Rainier.  We picked a nice, though not an absolutely perfect day, to go up to the mountain.  The views on the way up and down are almost as stunning as the views from Paradise Visitor’s Center. I also made it back to the Bahamas for a week in May, but this trip to Washington was the highlight.

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June:  Roadtrip to Colorado and back; one stop was Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo.  We had fun on our trip to Estes Park.  And on the way home.

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July:  A two week trip up the ICW from Charleston, SC to Portsmouth, NC; the full moon rising just as we anchored near the Neuse River in North Carolina.  It was an amazing experience to take this trip up the Intracoastal Waterway.  I learned much, saw many birds, enjoyed the changing scenery along the trip, and never tired of the company.   If you ever have a chance to do something similar, just say Yes.

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August:  Summer heats up in Austin, lots of fun times on the lake, including enjoying Cupholder back in the water.  We enjoyed having both Nirvana and Cupholder on the lake this summer.  We love having boat guests for the day and / or night.  We enjoy our boat friends immensely.  And we really need to spend more time out on the lake next year.

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September:  One of several visits with out-of-towners to Barton Springs Pool to cool off.  I have my own custom tour of Austin for friends that are visiting.  Sometimes we walk around doing it.  Sometimes we do an express version by car.  But I love sharing my town with my friends and family when they come for a visit.  If the temps are anywhere near 100 degrees F, then we must visit Barton Springs Pool.

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October:  Let the boat canvas and sail projects commence!  I finally organized my various and sundry craft/project supplies in my new, amazing closet workspace.  Looking forward to knocking another couple dozen projects of my to-do list next year.

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November:  Enjoying the Christmas decorations going up at Donn’s Depot.  You can walk in the door a Grinch, but as soon as you enter Donn’s Depot after Thanksgiving, you can’t help but feel the Christmas Spirit warm your heart.

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December:  A trip south along the coast from Charleston, SC (Rainbow Row, below) to Brunswick, GA, via Beaufort, SC and Savannah, SC.  Our last trip of the year took me to a place I used to live MANY moons ago, and a few places I’ve never been.  I would like to make a followup visit to these parts again.

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So many great moments!  I’m looking forward to the ones 2020 brings.

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!

Florae.

Susanne is visiting us in Austin this week. We’ve enjoyed catching up. Today we took a trip downtown to the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Pretty things:

And, I cannot go to Zilker Park without stopping by Sno-beach for my favorite!

All moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who made us! I enjoy seeing all the photos posted by those marking the day, whether they are daughter, son, husband, mom, father, or friend.

I miss my own mom immensely. I feel the pain of friends who were denied the blessing of becoming a mom. I see the joy and pain of my friends and family mothers who live the ups and downs of their dear ones. This week I went to lunch with a friend who recently lost her 20-something son. She is strong and full of grace, but I cannot begin to imagine how terribly difficult this is for her.

So today, let us remember all moms — those who are here, passed, mourning, struggling, wishing, or praying — Amen.

Frequent your happy places.

Commons Ford Park is one of my happy places.   I haven’t been out here in a while, though.  The prairie is breaking out in color and teeming with songbirds.

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A painted bunting singing atop a mesquite shrub:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One scissor-tailed flycatcher posing in the foreground, and another flying away in the background:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A dickcissel pausing his constant singing to give me the once over:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA