Bye-bye Winter (and a few other items of miscellany).

pea-knuckle.

We met Doray & Tom at BB Rover’s tonight for dinner and to play a few rounds of pinochle.  The ladies won a tightly contested best-of-three match.

Today is the last day of winter.   Spring will officially be upon us at 12:14 AM local time tomorrow morning.

I have a couple of unrelated other shots I wanted to post…  one is of a deer that has taken to laying outside the guest bedroom window.  He’s got an injured foreleg, and has been back here a couple of times.   This shot is from the bedroom window.  He’s only inches away.  Forgive the crummy shot through the solar screen on the window.  You get the idea.

Oh deer!

And this is a shot of a bunch of Texas Mountain Laurel seeds that I harvested from a bush growing in the greenbelt when we were there on Saturday afternoon.  I looked online to learn how to prepare the seeds for germination.  These seeds are from last season, they are hard and red and have shrunk a bit.  Conventional wisdom says to knick them and then soak them till they swell a bit, and then plant them about an inch deep.  The little dimples on the seeds in the picture below are where I cut through the shell of the seed.  The seeds soaked for about 8 hours, so they are plumped up a bit from when I knicked them.   I’ve got these guys in pots in the back room now so that I can tend them.  I hope they take!  We want to plant a bunch of mountain laurels along the back fence line.  I’ll let you know how they turn out…  FYI these are supposed to be poisonous, so if you try this at home… don’t eat them  🙂

Texas Mountain Laurel seeds.

There is rain in the forecast…it’s been slow getting here.  But as I type this post, there’s a big red line just moving into our area.   I’ll have to sign off now to watch the weather channel (my favorite).

Good night!

SizzlyGIF.

Hot water.

I made crepes for breakfast.  Always delicious!  As I was getting the pan ready, I flicked water into it to see if it was at the right temperature.  As the water danced and sizzled, I thought I would try to capture some of that later in a picture.

So after breakfast I set up my camera on a tripod next to the stovetop and gave it a try.  The water was moving too fast for my little camera to get a good shot.  I tried several different things.   I have an ISO 3200 setting, so I tried that and was able to capture a few clearer images.  I had quite a bit of water in the pan by this time, but it still looked cool.

A single image didn’t show much, so I looked on the web for a tool to create animated GIFs quickly and found Picasion.com.  It is a web-based tool that will upload up to 10 images, convert them to a GIF, and then give you the URL to the resulting file.   The animation above is the result.

So.  There ya go.  A creative way to waste a half hour or so.  🙂

Well, it wasn’t completely wasted.  Now I know how to display animated gifs on my wordpress.com-hosted blog.  The trick was to upload and insert it into my post without scaling it down, not display it at less than full size.   So, before I created the gif, I reduced the size of the images to make each one smaller.  Then I made the gif.  Then uploaded and attached it.  Voila.

Releasing my inner artiste.

A Sheila original (sort of).

Tonight Sue & I went to an art studio called Painting with a Twist.  They hold a painting class every night where everyone in the studio paints the same picture.   Oh, and you can bring your own wine and snacks to help get the creative juices flowing (that’s the twist part).  You can choose which session you want to attend by checking out their calendar and signing up ahead of time.  They have studios in many cities, check out their main website if you’re interested.  Tonight’s piece is called Moonlit Cherry Blossoms.

I know friends that have tried it, but this was my first time.  It was FUN!  The pic above is one I took of my painting after I got it home.  I look forward to trying this again.

Look out people, ARTIST COMIN’ THROUGH!!  😀

Mo’ Willy.

Number 6.

Today we walked 9 holes at Morris-Williams Golf Course.  I’ve been looking forward to golfing with my sweetie since vacation started.  The rain put a damper on that for a bit, but today was beautiful with temps in the 60’s.

This is a shot of the Number 6 hole, taken from the Number 5 green.   The rain we’ve had the last few weeks have greened things up a bit.  You can just barely see the UT Tower – the one building visible on the horizon.

I really enjoy Morris-Williams.  I am still quite the novice golfer, but this is the course that I know best – by far.   The tee-to-green distance of the first 9 holes is about a mile and a half.  So I figure we walked 2 or so miles.  Though the way I hit today, it might have been more like 3-4 miles.   🙂   And, on this course, every hole seems to be uphill.   But no matter, it was really nice to be out there.

I did not lose any balls in the out of bounds or in the water hazards.  I did, however, hit several trees that popped out of nowhere.   Oh well.   Maybe one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to play at least once a quarter in 2012.  We’ll see….

 

A Perfect 10.

My other beer goes to 11.

We had a crowd-sourced Thanksgiving meal today.  Monte and Tom provided 2 delicious grill roasted turkeys.  Kate and Glenn brought green bean casserole and Kate whipped up the best mashed potatoes (and peas!) that I’ve ever tasted.  Doray and Sandy made their sweet potato baked cup thingies.  Sue & Marty brought delicious, home-made cranberry sauce, squash, and irresistible bourbon balls.  I baked up some dinner roles,  made gravy from the drippings of the birds and whipped up a pink-jello-whip-cream-cottage-cheese-pineapple dish in honor of all our favorite aunts.  Everything was DELICIOUS!  Laura joined us after dinner, too.

The picture above is of one of the brews that Glenn opened.  He got it part way down before someone noticed the foam on the inside of the bottle formed a perfect number 10!   Pretty funny.   The poor guy wasn’t able to finish this beer for a while, for all the excitement it caused.   But it was a good omen for the day… it was perfect.

I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Stopping to create posts on this blog every day (or so) has caused me to pause long enough to reflect on things in my day and life.   I have so much to be thankful for.

A day well spent.

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted something.  Things have been very busy lately.  So, i’ll take the liberty of a longer post today.

From the base of the Summit Trail.

We took today off, starting a much awaited and long overdue week or so of vacation.  The day was overcast and a tad chilly.  We set out into the Hill Country – destination Enchanted Rock.  This gigantic outcropping of granite rock was formed about a billion years ago.   It’s a stark contrast to the tree-covered, rough limestone hills that surround it.  The summit trail leads up the 425′ vertical climb to the top, which is 1825′ above sea level.  If you look at the picture above you can see a person approaching the top, and a few people along the way – which give a sense of the scale of the Rock.

Autumn in the Hill Country.

It was quite windy at the top.  But what great views!  We don’t get a lot of autumn color, so I really enjoyed seeing this patchwork of rust, gold and green from above.

The close up views were worth seeing as well.  The shot above is of the rust colored lichens that can be found covering the pink granite rocks.

Craggy.

On the way down I couldn’t resist taking this shot of a wind-beaten, twisted, dead oak tree against the sky.

Oh, deer.

After we made it back down we came across several deer, right on the edge of the parking lot.  This guy turned to say bye.

Barrel o fun!

On the way to the park we drove through Fredericksburg and stopped to walk through some of the shops.  We ate lunch at Der LindenBaum – home of awesome traditional German cooking.  On the way home, we couldn’t drive by Becker Vineyards without stopping in for a flight of wine tasting.

What a great day!

Welcome to the Dam tour. I am your Dam guide.

Longhorn sailors.

Joe suggested a cruise down the lake to see the Dam.  It’s rare to see the basin when the lake is so low – at 627.85′ today.   It’s really not a basin anymore.  Sometimes Islands are all the way out of the water, and connected to land, so, islands no more.   The original river channel winds all the way around them.  Windy Point looks more like Windy Acres.  And many of the marinas have scooted out to what would normally be the middle of the lake, but is now the edge of the shore.

Monte and I joined Ken and Joe on Prelude for a sail.   It was a beautiful day.   We had nice breezes on the way down.    The closest mile marker to our marina is mile marker 14, and the Mansfield Dam is at, well, mile marker 0.  So, round trip was close to about 30 miles.

As we passed the Austin Yacht Club we got to see several of their regattas underway.  The shot above is of some of the University of Texas Sailing Team’s Flying Juniors fleet.   The 2012 Nationals will be in Austin.  So they’re working hard to get ready.  Good luck Longhorns!

Here’s a sight we don’t see very often…

MM 1.

And, finally, we snugged up as close as we could to Mansfield Dam.  They have a string of bouys in front to keep people from getting too close – which foiled my plan to get a shot of myself touching the dam.

Upstream side of Mansfield Dam.

Construction of the Mansfield Dam (originally called Marshall Ford Dam) began in 1937 and was completed in 1941.   Mansfield Dam and Lake Travis are the only structures in the Highland Lakes chain specifically designed to contain floodwaters in the lower Colorado River basin. The lake can store as much as 260 billion gallons of water.   Some other factoids from the Lower Colorado River Authority website:

Elevation when full: 681 feet above mean sea level (msl)
Volume when full: 1,135,000 acre-feet
Historic high: 710.4 feet above msl on Dec. 25, 1991
Historic low: 614.2 feet above msl on Aug. 14, 1951
Normal operating range: at or below 681 feet above msl
Spillway elevation: 714 feet above msl
Top of dam: 750 feet above msl

The floodgates are at the bottom of the dam and are used to generate electricity and for flood control.  The spillway openings are on the right end of the dam in the picture above.   Water will start to spill over them at 714′, but it’s never happened… yet.  The highest I have seen the lake was 701.5′, which was over the July 4th weekend of 2007.  Hard to believe there was ever that much water in the lake.

We had a really lovely sail.  A nice Sunday adventure.

I shake my tiny fist at this drought!

Riff-Rafft-up.

Watching the sunrise.

We spent the night in Arky South cove.  We enjoyed more laughs, music and good company last night.  Mike and Kathy joined us on Soul Healer yesterday for a few hours, and Lori, Dave and Jake joined us this afternoon on Camelot.

Shortly after we woke up this morning, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise, coming up right behind the Commander’s Point lighthouse (well, water tower really).  A lovely sight.

Then, later in the morning a funky fog bank sunk over the lake for a while, but shortly lifted for a beautiful, sunny day.

Where did that lovely sun go?

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention… we have christened this and any future such auspicious gathering a Riff-Rafft-up.  For obvious reasons 🙂  In attendance this weekend were Wally & Kurt on Dancer, Joe on Prelude, Monte & Sheila on Cupholder, and Marty & Sue (and Koko) on Caribbean Hug.

Lazy Sunday.

Have a great week!

Keeping it simple.

Violet for vodka, red for rum.

We have another full-moon raftup this weekend, the Full-Hunter’s Moon.  It’s been several months since we rafted up on the lake, the last few have been marina-based “slip-ups.”

I have been wanting to make Jello Shots for some reason.  Kind of a fun treat for the lake, if I can just figure out how to get them there in tact.   I have been looking around for little 2 ounce plastic cups with lids, and couldn’t find them in grocery stores.   A few weeks ago we stopped by a restaurant supply company and found them – in bulk 🙂

So, this morning I googled conventional web-wisdom on jello shots and came up with the following:

Jello Shots

1 3-oz package of Jello
8 oz boiling water
2 oz cold water
6 oz rum or vodka or whatever

Pour the Jello powder in the boiling water, stir for a minute or two.   Then pour in the cold water & booze and stir.  Fill cups and refrigerate til set. 1 package ended up making about 12 of these 2 oz sized cups for me.   Note that if you put in more or higher octane alcohol, then you run the risk of them not setting properly.  With the mixture I used, the cups set fine in about 4 hours in the fridge.

I popped on the lids, and put in the ice chest for the lake, and they made it just fine.

Harvest Moon Slip-up.

La caja china.

It’s a full-moon weekend, which means another get together with our sailing friends.  We have taken to doing “slip-ups” lately, instead of raft-ups, because it’s getting a bit unwieldy to raft-up bunches of boats together in the shrinking coves.  So we party on the dock instead of at anchor.  This is the Harvest Moon full-moon weekend, and to celebrate we wanted to do something big.  So, Ramon graciously offered to roast a pig.  So… how do you do that on a dock at a marina?  Well, you use one of these things in the picture above – a caja china.   Robert and Ramon set up on the middle of the newly-extended F, A & B Dock.  The pig is inside the box on a rack, and the coals are above on a tray.

Cerdo asado.

It turned out delicious.  We had a TON of people, as Texas Sailing brought many of their boat owners over from Lakeway Marina who stayed in guest slips overnight.    Tasha would know for sure, but we think there were about 50 people or more there.

A good time was had by all.  iPod wars on Cupholder wrapped up about 3 or 4 AM.  And, oh by the way, Mike, Wally, Robert and David stayed up all night playing dominoes and generally making a racket all through the night on Allegro in her neighboring slip.  Crazy kids!

Up a creek with a paddle.

A fun Friday.

Today we hooked the trailer up, packed up my kayak and stopped by the marina to borrow another one from friends on b-dock.  We are headed to the San Marcos river, which we have tubed for many years, but this time are going to paddle.

The San Marcos is a spring-fed river, and even though we are in a severe drought, it continues to flow with crystal clear, cool water.  We put in at City Park here, and first paddled upstream as far as we could go.  Then we paddled down stream to the Lion’s Club take-out point and took our kayaks over the 3 rapids there and went a little farther downstream.

As we headed back we got a workout on a couple sections, and in carrying the kayaks back up the rocks around the 3 rapids.

As usual, I like to look for found objects.  I would have loved to have found my prescription raybans that I lost last summer on the rapids, but I didn’t.  We did however find a couple pairs of flip flops.   I found a matched pair of Corona flip flops, one upstream and one downstream, and Monte has claimed these (you can see the first one that I found in the picture above.  I hadn’t found its mate yet).  I also found a matched pair of little baby flip flops, which we gave to a woman and her baby that were playing in the water when we got back to City Park.

We took lots of pictures.  It’s funny that I’ve never noticed how many fish are in the river.  I guess all the times we have tubed we didn’t really notice because you aren’t looking down into the river when perched on your tube.

Here is a picture of a water bird striking an odd pose that we encountered along the way…

Odd bird.

Lazer Beam.

Bubble gun lazer.

About 10 days ago I was asked to jump in on handling a client situation which has pretty much consumed my time 24/7 since then.  Thankfully things are wrapping up so I can come out to play this weekend!

We are having a “slip-up” this weekend – that’s a term invented by B-dock to describe our overnight dock parties… kinda like a raft-up, but we don’t ever leave the slip!  The lake is pretty low, which makes anchoring lots of boats in the shrinking coves difficult.  And there is *no* wind expected for tonight, so it will make for a hot night.  Oh, and this is a full-moon slip-up, the Sturgeon Moon, so there will be no viewing of the Perseid meteor shower that’s also supposed to happen tonight.

Ace’s birthday was earlier this month, and we missed it, so we brought him a toy gun that blows bubbles and lights up.  This is a shot of it in action at night – you can’t see the bubbles but the light looks kinda cool, eh?

This picture reminds me of the song Lazer Beam by the Super Furry Animals.  That youtube link isn’t the version that I like the best, but it will do.  The recording I like is the one done in KUT Studios a couple years ago and featured as their song of the day, but the link on their archive page is broken, sadly.

Toobin!

Fun in the sun.

A float trip down the San Marcos – we do it at least once every summer after the temps hit 100, and today was the 39th day this year that qualified.

While googling for info on 100 degree days in Austin, I found an article from about this time last year that said it still hadn’t hit 100 yet.  Wow.  I don’t remember it being a (relatively) mild summer last year.  This summer has been a scorcher. No worries, though, we have many ways to beat the heat.

Toobers in attendance:  me, monte, lori, dave, jake, laura and dolia.  Even with the drought the San Marcos was flowing fine – the fact that it’s a spring-fed river has a lot to do with that, I think.

We stopped at the official take out point at the rapids, played a while, ate lunch and then continued on to our favorite take out point farther down the river.    At the portage point with the waterfall, we stopped and played for a while – squeezing our way in underneath the falls.

We definitely have to come out another time this summer. It’s always a great time. And this time, I’m happy to report, I didn’t lose anything in the river.

We saw many kayakers on the river today and a couple of SUPs, too. Maybe we’ll make one of our next trips with kayaks, and see how much more of the river we can explore.