Wow. What a week. We had nearly 6″ of beautiful, powdery snow Sunday night into Monday morning. Then Texas broke. Or at least the electricity generators did, leading to a majority of homes in Austin and other cities throughout the state to have their electricity turned off. It wasn’t a rolling blackout for many. It was several days without electricity, with temperatures between 0 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit for most of those days.
We didn’t lose power at our house, for which I can only attribute to sharing a circuit with hospitals, a firehouse, and a couple of assisted living facilities. But crazy, scary times for many people.
Five days later, the temperatures are now in the high 50s, and will be even higher over the next week.
We drove to the lake today to check on the boat, and everything looks fine. The water temperature keeps the hull warmer than freezing, which insulates the plumbing that is below the waterline.
There was a little snow left on the decks almost a week after it fell, a first for us to see.
I am thankful for our good fortune, and hope that life soon returns to whatever normal it was before the cold weather arrived.
We got a full day of big wet snowflakes falling in our part of Austin on Sunday. A nice change. And it took my mind off of the Seahawks’ round 1 playoff loss the night before. The snow was still on the ground all day Monday.
And a snow day means it’s time for cocoa in the snowball mugs!
We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.
We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.
And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.
‘Tis the season of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count! I met up with Doray and a team of birders at Reimer Ranch yesterday. We hiked all day and saw so many birds. The first half of the day was cold, but by 4:30pm I had shed 3 layers. The former ranch, now a park, overlooks the Pedernales River. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.
From drought to deluge – when it rains, it pours. 4 1/2″ at the chez so far. I’m thankful for the rain. It should save some of our trees and shrubs. And I’m enjoying the 30 degree drop in temps that the cold front ushered in. The transition from summer to fall in Central Texas turns on a dime.
We baked in the sun while seeking refuge at the lake from the 100 degree temps this weekend. Julie joined us on Saturday afternoon. We stayed the night. We floated, kayaked, SUP-ed, and played on the lake with Marty, Sue, and some of the other sailors with boats nearby. I was tuckered out by the time we got home Sunday night. That’s hard work.
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.
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:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
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:
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.
Monte completed the install of our new head on Nirvana this week! The work was interrupted by this shelter-in-place for a couple of months. But he made several trips this week and declared it done yesterday.
So today we went to the lake and took her out. We anchored and jumped in and floated in the lake for the first time this year. Water temps were still a tad chilly at 79 degrees F, but we sucked it up.
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.
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.
The 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.