Messing about.

We headed to the lake yesterday for a mid-week overnight anchorage in one of our favorite coves.  We had a nice, long, light sail up the river and back for several hours before we anchored in the cove for the night, grilling dinner off the stern under a colorful sunset.

IMG_0963Then, after listening to our neighbor (motor) boat in the cove playing non-stop, loud, expletive-laced music for several hours, just 100 feet away from us, we opted for a lovely moonlit sail back to our slip.

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In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.

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The winds were light, but cooperative.  The motor boaters were few.  It was lovely.  After we got back to our private dock we let it out a bit in anticipation of the lake levels continuing to fall.

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Two nice days on the lake.  Sa-weet.  I’ll leave you with this quote from Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. ”

Yep.

 

 

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!

My first ever comet photo.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July.  When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast.  This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.

Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon.  I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view.   Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye.   I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either.  Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be.  I did capture it in several photos.  Here’s the best one:

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It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it.   If conditions allow, I may try again.   If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.

 

Early 4th.

Monte and I spent a couple nights at anchor on the lake this week. We chose to avoid the wake-heavy holiday weekend. It was hazy, I guess from the Saharan dust remnants in the air. But it was lovely. Keeto enjoyed it, too. We’ve launched the kayak for the summer, so I have resumed my treasure-hunt-paddling around the coves. I was rewarded yesterday with this long lost 11 lb. Lewmar claw anchor and stainless steel tackle that someone had to cut loose at some point months ago when the lake was much higher.

And we were rewarded again with this treasure at sunset last night.

I hope you enjoy a fun and safe 4th of July!

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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This might take a while.

I ordered a paint-by-number kit a month ago to help me pass the time in self-imposed quarantine.  It took a while but arrived today.   Perhaps I should have picked something smaller…  No matter, I will start tonight and take my time.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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All in a day’s work.

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During this prolonged shelter-in-place, when people ask me “what did you do today?” I usually go blank.  But I have been busy!  Aside from the household chores, cooking, and yard work, I have found contentment in these online diversions, which fill my day.

Photography

Nikon is offering their curriculum of 10 online photography classes to be streamed for free until the end of April.  How cool is that?  Link here.

Birding

High Island on the Texas Gulf Coast is one of my very favorite birding destinations during migration in April.  But not only is travel not in line with the current stay-at-home order, but the sanctuaries are also closed.  Thankfully, Houston Audubon, who owns and runs the High Island sanctuaries, is live streaming video footage from their Facebook page at 8AM and 3:30PM every Thursday through Monday.  Their Facebook link here.

Guitar

Fender is offering a 90-day free trial of their online guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons.   I’m a poorly self-taught guitar player of nearly 30 years and I’m learning new things by following their lesson progression, and more importantly, practicing again.  Link here.

Exercise

Lori recommended some beginner yoga sessions on YouTube, from “Yoga with Adriene.” I’m a yoga-newbie and am enjoying them very much.  Link here.

I use an app called “30Days” to help me to do higher and higher reps of traditional strength exercises like plank, situps, pushups, etc.  You pick the exercises, set your starting point, and for 30 days the app will gradually increase the reps, giving you days-off every few days.  I’ve used their app for years, on and off.  I’m 27 days into my latest 30-day stint and am back up to planking for 3 minutes.  🙂   The app isn’t fancy, there are prettier ones out there, but it’s free and it works for me when I use it.  Link here.

Amy recommended an app she used to train herself from couch-surfer to running a 5K over the course of 8 weeks.  They also have a 10K version which takes you from couch to 10K in 14 weeks, which is the one I’m using.  I’m on week 4 and am still enjoying it. They are both free to try for 7 days, and then you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited access.  The provider, Fitness22, actually has an entire collection of fitness apps.  Link here.

After 6 years, I am still wearing my fitbit One tracker every day.  I need to upgrade to a watch soon.  Either way, I use their app daily to track my activity and food.   Link here.

Things to listen to

Amazon Music, one of the perks of Prime membership, has a great selection of music; 2 million songs from their 50 million song library are free to listen to for Prime members.  You can search by song, album, artist, or listen to existing playlists and curated stations for something that floats your boat.  Keeto enjoys George Winston.  Link here.

Amazon Music has a channel on twitch.tv where they are hosting live-streamed webcasts.  Look for #togetherathome hashtag.  I listened to Hayes Carll play live for an hour on his patio last night.  The audio was very well done.  Link here.

I’ve gone overboard subscribing to and listening to podcasts, true crime is my addiction.  I have new content to listen to each day.  I use the Stitcher app to listen.   Link here.

Foreign Language Learning

I still use the free app Duolingo to practice my Spanish every day or so.  Link here.

Things to watch

The British National Theatre is streaming previously recorded theater performances every Thursday in April, on their YouTube channel.  We watched the first one, a comedy called One Man, Two Guvnors, last week and really enjoyed it.  Link here.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming videos of previously recorded opera performances, a new one every day.  Link here.

Acorn.tv is offering a 30-day free trial of their British TV shows’ episodes (which we enjoy very much) for new subscribers, instead of their normal 7-day free trial.  Use the code FREE30 when signing up.  Link here.

Videochat

Ok, hands down, I’ve adopted Zoom for video chat.  The free version allows unlimited video meetings with a 40-minute time limit on each, which works for me.   Link here.

Online multiplayer games

We have spent many hours playing online games with friends and family.  I think that trickstercards.com and boardgamearena.com are both well done for this.  We combine them with a zoom video chat.

Food & Drink

Virtual wine tasting from Becker Vineyards.  What’s a virtual wine tasting?  Well, Becker is selling different 3 pack bottles of different varietals each week, which you can order to be shipped to your home.  And then a few days later, you tune into their Facebook Live sessions to participate in a group tasting of each bottle with experts from the vineyard.  I just bought the 3rd tasting pack.  It should be good!  Link here.

I posted previously about my ongoing on-line grocery shopping adventures for delivery and/or curbside pickup.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping an order scheduled a week to 10 days ahead of time, to keep fresh food in the house.  Let me say, again, HEB is awesome!  Link to my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

A real treat.

I ventured out to get my first real birding of the year in.   Oh, I’m always looking for birds, but “real birding” means that I bring my binoculars and my camera.   The Golden-cheeked warbler nests exclusively in Central Texas, and there are preserves that are closed to the general public during their breeding season of Feb-July, during which they are only accessible to those with permits.  Welllllll.  I have had a permit for several years and took advantage of it today to get away from people and find me some birdies.

I was treated to my first of season golden-cheeked warbler:

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A very vocal, but elusive white-eyed vireo.  I caught him here mid-song:

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And one of many blue-grey gnatcatchers.  They are so tiny, vocal, and always moving!  This one stopped long enough for me to get a blurry picture:

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Nice.  Very nice.  🙂

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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