Spring!

I visited Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park today.   There are some short trails that go down by Lake Austin, through a bit of woods, and around a beautiful, recently re-established prairie with native grasses and flowers.  I saw about 10 different species of birds, including my first Eastern Bluebird.  The bluebonnets are everywhere.

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TV-free. 

We cut the cord last year.  And it has been ok.  Amazon Prime and a Roku streaming player give us lots of viewing options.  We also have a Channel Master DVR+ digital DVR with which we can record shows from over-the-air (OTA) channels, which is what we do 95% of the time.  It downloads schedule info for 2 weeks for each channel via a wifi connection to your home network, so you have a nice channel guide to browse what’s coming up. There are a surprising number of OTA channels which we can get at our house, the majority of them are HD.  You can enter your location at antennaweb.org and they’ll tell you what OTA channels you might be able to get where you live.

I can get my Seahawks fix by paying for Tune-in Premium month-to-month during the football season for live game audio broadcasts.  

It’s all good. 

But today we buried our TV.  It died a slow death.  I wonder how long it will take to fill this space. 🙂

Dinner in the rear view mirror. 

We had a fun day! Julie collected 7 souls to go sailing with us on an amazing sunny & breezy day on Lake Travis.   We sailed to Volente and then anchored in arky north, on the way back, for several hours.  Back to the dock by sunset.  We grabbed dinner at P. Terry’s on the way home.   Overall:  awesome!

In the yard.

Today is the 7 year anniversary of starting this Sheila365 photoblog!  I’ve enjoyed it.  I hope you have too.

Big day at the ranch today.  I saw so many different species of birds.   Even so, I missed a few of the regulars, but, hey, I can’t stand in front of that window ALL DAY.  🙂

  • House Finch male (M) & female (F)
  • Orange Crowned Warbler
  • Northern Cardinal M&F
  • Downy Woodpecker M
  • House Sparrow M&F
  • Red Winged Blackbird M&F
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • White Winged Dove
  • Blue Jay
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler
  • Carolina Wren
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker M&F
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling M
  • American Robin
  • Lesser Goldfinch M&F
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Black Crested Titmouse

I got some ok bird photos, but I’ll share a few of the garden, instead.

About 8 or 9 years ago, a neighbor gave me a dozen or so purple iris cuttings when she was thinning out her beds.   I’ve had them in the ground since then but rarely have they bloomed.   A year or so ago I moved them to a few different beds that get much more direct sunlight.  This year I’m thrilled to see them in bloom!  I love these short-lived flowers.

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We have bluebonnets coming up in the front and back yards.   Nothing says central texas like these beautiful wildflowers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monte’s got baby salad greens planted.  Fresh lettuce every night!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I simply love spring.  Oh, wait, we have 2 weeks to go before spring.   I can’t wait!

Trivia is Hard. 

We met up with friends tonight for trivia night at a nearby bar.  Whew!  22 teams.  8 rounds.  Very tough.   We think we might have made it into the top ten.  

But fun, though!  Check out Geeks Who Drink to find one of their trivia nights near you.  

Beer me.

After a very rainy weekend the sun finally came out Sunday afternoon.   We decided to check out a couple breweries nearby.   Austin Beerworks has a new and expanded tasting room and patio area that opened recently — kid and dog friendly.  My Pearl Snap was great!


Just down the road, Circle Brewing Co. was serving up some good brews.   I had the Alibi blond ale.  Monte tried a flight. 


We’re lucky to have so many local breweries nearby.  We’ll hit a few more next time. 

The Blanton museum, revisited.

In a post earlier this year, I shared a visit to the Blanton Museum that we took, to see an Andy Warhol visiting exhibit that ended in January.  When we went, we didn’t know that the museum’s permanent exhibits were temporarily closed, due to a total revamp of the permanent gallery areas upstairs.   Even so, we enjoyed the visiting exhibit.

The museum’s permanent collection galleries are now open again, so I stopped by this week to check it out.  They have an interesting mix of art – Latin American, early American Western, Contemporary, European, Native American, Modern, Spanish American, Ancient Greek and Roman, Film and Paper/Documents.   The gallery remodel was nicely done.

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I recommend a trip to the museum.  I enjoyed it.  Check out their website for days & hours.  And keep in mind that every Thursday admission is free, and every 3rd Thursday the museum is open late – until 9pm.  Parking is easy at the nearby Brazos garage.  If you bring your parking stub into the museum, they can give you a discounted parking rate.

 

Nectar macro.

A macro view of the nectar oozing out of some lilies that I brought home the other day.   If I was a bee I’d be pretty excited about it.  🙂

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Sooo, in the process of googling what that part of the lily is, I found waaaay too much information.   But I’ll summarize by saying that I believe the central prong-like thing sticking out is the pistil, and the end of it is its lady-part, called the stigma, and the nectar it is oozing is there to catch bits of pollen from the worker bees as they fly in and out.   There you go – botany lesson of the day.

I ♥ Bewick’s.

I’ve been observing my backyard especially carefully over the past several months.  I love that I was able to observe several Bewick’s wrens among the frequent visitors.  I recently hung a couple of new birdhouses up under the eaves, hoping to get some takers this year.  We also have a number of older birdhouses that have been hanging out there for several years, including one that I made and hung in the backyard over six years ago.   As I have been stalking my backyard birds more carefully, I’ve watched two pairs of Bewick’s wrens pick out houses in which they have built nests.

Rest assured, I will keep an eye on them and report back.  🙂  This is one of the residents of a new house that I hung a few weeks ago.  I bought it at Joann’s – it had the desirable-to-bewicks dimensions.  I drilled holes in the bottom for airflow, and I also cut off the perch.   So cute!

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This is the one of the new residents of the seasoned peek-a-boo bird house I made in December of 2011.  Happy to see it in use.

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I’ll be watching to see what develops.

First world problems. 

We went to Kurt and Barbara’s Oscar watching party Sunday night – complete with red carpet, paparazzi, and bubbly.

At the beginning of the night, we each had a ballot to fill out with our guesses for winner of each category.  Then we marked which ones we got right as the night went on.  I got 7 out of 24 right.   Not bad having only watched 2 of the nominated movies.  But then my hopes were dashed as the best picture winner mixup unfolded.  And my score fell to 6 out of 24.  Sniffle.

But I took the blow with grace and poise.  Life will go on.  Somehow.

🙂

Hiking Bull Creek.

Last weekend, I went for a 3-hour group hike with one of the biologists that does research for the City-of-Austin-managed Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.  It was really interesting.   We hiked a short loop along the preserve at Bull Creek.  Along the way, I learned much about the native Ashe junipers throughout the hill country that I had previously come to detest, due to my annual cedar fever allergy symptoms.   But I came away with a new appreciation for the tree and the role it plays in the ecosystem of the Balcones Canyonlands.   I also learned about the other native grasses and shrubs that make up the understory of the woodland.  And about the endangered golden-cheeked warbler that will soon make its annual trek from Central America in early March to nest in the woodlands of the preserve until returning south in July.   I’m looking forward to more hikes out there.  Stay tuned.

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Bull Creek  is flowing nicely since the drought has broken.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, I caught a tiger swallowtail butterfly taking a break along the creek.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very nice!