Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring update

My goodness, it looks as if we've lost a month or two... guess that's a sign we've been a bit pre-occupied...... with primarily non-travel related activities I'm afraid!

March and April have been very busy, and much of the time has been spent watching Jax while Kendra had therapy following shoulder surgery. What fun! 

He's an ambitious little fellow and definitely keeps us on our toes. We've taken walks in the field next to their house, played in the sand and water, baked cookies, washed dishes, read stories, and played with the dogs of course!

Kendra's shoulder is totally recovered now. She did sign up for a week long class, and that gave us another brief opportunity to have him all day, but now things are back to "normal", for a while at least!

Progress on the bathroom remodel included removing the old tub, some modifications to the plumbing and electric, and antiquing the paneling. We're just finishing up on the texturing and painting of the walls, and when that's done the reassembly will begin.

At the end of March we made another trip to Mathis.... There's been a lot of progress on the building project. Since then they've gotten the sheetrock up on the insides too, so the end is in sight! Yeah! 

Snuggling with Auntie Darlene
When my sister Darlene scheduled her visit for early April this year we were hoping we'd have a good crop of wildflowers. No such luck.

With the on-going drought the wildflowers are few and far between. We planned a trip up to Fredricksburg, hoping to see more flowers there as that area usually has more rain. Apparently that wasn't the case this year, but we did stopped at Wildseed Farms.

At least she had a chance to see a few fields of wildflowers, and we enjoyed browsing the butterfly garden and their display beds, complete with some very nice metal cactus sculptures.

We also took Darlene to see Jason Boland and the Stragglers at the Texas Music Theater, with Shooter Jennings backed by Uncle Lucius (The Gunslinger Tour).

Jason and the Stragglers performed a range of new and old, including one of their most popular "No Reason Being Late." I also have to include a link to the song that got us hooked on Jason in the first place, performed in my favorite style, a beautiful acoustic version of "Comal County Blue". (FYI, this is a very local piece and, again, an autobiographical song, as Comal is the county just south of us, Austin is just north.)

We've loved Jason's lyrics and balladeer style ever since we first heard him. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to translate well into the larger venues, especially the Texas Music Theater here in San Marcos. It's a great facility, with a state of the art sound system, but they can't seem to get the balance right, so the drums run over everything else.

Shooter on the other hand is pure Southern Rock, rowdy and loud. 'Not especially our style, but we could appreciate his talent aside from that, and Uncle Lucius did a great job backing him up. Here's the tour namesake, "The Gunslinger" from the album The Other Life. Uncle Lucius also performed the number they've been playing a lot on the radio lately, a powerful autobiographical piece titled "Keep the Wolves Away."  Their style fits well with Jason and the Stragglers' - blues, ballads, and a little Southern Rock. (FYI - song titles above all link to YouTube videos of the music)

It was a fun evening, basking in the glow of neon lights, as they say. We had great seats in the balcony, and as it was a week night the crowd wasn't too bad. The beers are cheap, and cold, and it's a smoke free theater. . . also great for people watching!

The weather's been so on and off that gardening has really been a challenge. My little veggie seedlings had been in the starting flats for too long already, so while Darlene was here we got most of them set in the garden. We did have to cover the okra one night when it got chilly, but so far everything is coming along well, including warmth loving sunflowers and one lonely little sunchoke. I'm hoping that will spread so I have a permanent clump of them.

In between working on the bathroom remodeling and regular maintenance Steve has been working on organizational systems for the hold of the Enterprise, and just installed a grill guard. Unloading the guard was a snap, as well as the actual installation, with the tractor and the new "forks" he just installed (a boy's gotta have new toys now and then!) It was certainly an improvement over having me hold the monster up!

Wildlife Notes:  This month's featured critter is the Texas Spiny Lizard.

You can see several eggs right behind her
I had spent the morning weeding in a cactus bed, then passed it coming back from the mailbox. Looking down I noticed two beady little eyes staring up at me from a small cave in the gravel. That wasn't there an hour before when I was working in the bed! Staring at me from the cave entrance was a somewhat aggravated Texas Spiny Lizard, guarding a clutch of eggs she'd just laid.

I snapped a few pictures and the shutter noise scared her away. A couple of hours later I took Steve down to show him where the eggs were, but by then she had carefully covered the cave with mulch and gone on her way. The sun will warm the eggs and in a couple of months they should hatch. As the nest is now invisible I've made a little marker so I don't get ambitious and attempt to plant something right in the middle of it!

Though this hasn't been a good year for the wildflowers at least the cactus are enjoying the moderate temperatures and the occasional sprinkle.

The cactus here bloom primarily yellow - an amazing lemony, translucent shade of yellow that turns to a gorgeous apricot orange as the blossoms age.

The lime green stamens make an amazing contrast to the petals, and the bees love to work the flowers for the nectar. Judging by all the blooms here should be a good harvest of cactus fruit this fall. If I can get a few away from the critters I'll plan to cook them up into jam or something.