Archive for February, 2011

Signs of Spring, with slight ruminations, and a lot of alliterations

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2011 by Queenie

Last time you heard from me we were in the grip of snow, (all right, sort of snow then),  and frozen pipes about town.  Since then, we’ve had eighty degree days and movement toward the next season.  It’s likely a little early to be celebrating full blown Spring, but when it’s warm enough for T-shirts and sandals and serious dog swims in the lake, well, you just get to thinkin’.  March in Texas is always capricious, and you’d best not be getting too serious in the garden, excepting in preparations, of course.  I still managed one more fire today, when the latest damp cool front blew the warmth out of the air and I just couldn’t get comfortable without turning the heat back on.  Nothing resembling real sweater weather, but I still donned moccasins and a flannel shirt, and yes, made that one more fire.

Along with the weather, other changes and events have been afoot.  I’ve been writing many passages that were blog worthy, but still am not of a mind to contribute those trains of thought just yet, though trains have certainly been in the mix.  Seems I shook something loose from the memory ethers of the universe several weeks back, and those high school days, both the good and the bad of them, have been holding audience of late.  There’s been a lot of water run through the river since then, and I’ve learned a lot.  Still learning, as should we all, until we decide to lay it all down.  I look at the past – weigh it….. Look at the future – consider the possibilities…. Sit in the present and try ever not to squander it.  Watching the news, as usual, makes my head hurt, and so I retreat into what brings me peace.

I found it today while taking camera in hand and just walking about the place, looking for the changes that are beginning to make their presence known.  Surely there will be time to ponder and pontificate, so for now I offer you up pieces of almost spring, while I consider projects and goals, To Do’s or Maybe Not’s, and entertain thoughts of wanderlust and road trips, as the sun is trekking its way across the horizon in front of me.  The days are getting longer now, and Spring Equinox is within spitting distance.  I know I love the warm more than the cold, although the fireplace offers me the cocoon inducing moments that come with winter.  But I’ve had enough hibernation, and I moved some dead tree limbs today, making way for the new.  And I’ve already conceded the losses to the cold – some succulents and some of the cacti are gone forever, also my hummingbird plant, and the cactus garden is too dreadful to even consider photographing.  No lack of things to do.

But in the midst of new questions and whatever is around the corner, here comes Spring. (Remember you can click on the pics to make them bigger.)

Magic the Peacock has been growing himself back out from his psychedelic turkey alter-ego of molted feathers.  I wish he had better prospects for his daydreams, but there are no hens on the horizon for him.  He’s been a most eligible bachelor in Peacock World for the ten or so years he’s been around here, but he’s evidently not so swell at manifesting.

 

I love having a peacock around.  Well, there is the matter of prodigious amounts of peacock poop, but it seems a reasonable price to pay for the purely miraculous thing that is him.  It’s hard to believe that such colors can exist, and he provides me with some damn fine feathers to adorn my hats.

 

And so here he is, on the make, hoping against hope that his spring fantasies will somehow appear walking down the path, as he appeared to us those years ago.  It hasn’t happened yet, but as it is with such things, Hope Springs Eternal.  You can always tell it’s as good as Spring when he starts hollering.  They make great watchbirds, squawking incredibly loudly in distinctive calls, also being set off by big trucks going by or loud metallic noises.  And have you ever heard the sound they make when they vibrate their feather display?  Well, you just should.  And then he gets all big and bold and challenges the deer and the squirrels and the cats, or me – aggressively scuttling toward the subject of his offense.  Leaves you damned speechless, or laughing.

 

I have a “professional shot” of him that one credible professional photographer proclaimed to be the best peacock shot he’d ever seen.  This isn’t it, but still….. How can such a thing even be?

 

And if you’ve never had a chance to inspect one up close, the reverse side of said bird is as amazing as the front.  The whole hydraulic system that lifts those many heavy feathers has to be seen to be believed.  And then there are the rafts of downy fuzz for further adornment.  Being around a peacock humbles me, and makes me believe in miracles.  But then, most of the animal kingdom does, one way or another.  I wish we human types could live up to our potential for humbling behavior instead of ….. but… but…. no, stepping off the soapbox before I get riled into a rant.

 

The Nandinas are pretty plants, seeming dainty and feminine to me.  There are a couple around here that were purposely planted, and then some volunteers back by the greenhouse.  They’ve recovered from being eaten down to nubs by the deer in the midst of the drought, and now are somewhere between winter and spring.  Red and green, they look like Christmas still.

 

And they have beautiful berries, especially visible when they drop their leaves.  I suppose I can go ahead and think about and have a late Christmas, since I’m so busy working during Christmas, (then sleeping through it when it actually does happen), that I tend to get in the Christmas spirit about mid-January.  Christmas is staying around a little longer it seems.

 

It’s gotten warm enough to open up the greenhouse, but not nearly safe enough to spring the plants (no pun intended) from their winter confines.  They are patiently waiting for fresh breezes and spring rains, and the trimming of their battered extremities, and root stretching room of new, bigger pots.  Freedom calls, as it does to all of us with the beckoning of renewed beginnings.

 

I got wild and crazy when I went to Home Depot for some hose couplings and new nozzles.  I went too close to the nursery, and it got me.  I love the color of geraniums.  I’m not ready to pot them yet, not nearly.  But I got one anyway.  One must have inspiration.

 

And talk about Hope Springs Eternal, for both me and the peacock.  Every year I think it will be different.  And every year I fail miserably as a tomato farmer.  It’s either too hot.  Or too something.  I’ve got a decent green thumb, but it turns black when it has anything to do with tomatoes.  Maybe, just maybe, this year will be different, so I bought two of them.  At least they’re starting out promising, and they’re not even in the ground yet.  If I can just keep them alive till then.

 

In keeping with the promise I made to myself a few weeks ago, celebrating life and love with fresh flowers instead of dead roses, I continue on with the current bunch.  Sunshine yellow seemed appropriate I thought, and so they are.

 

The calendar will soon turn another page.  We’ll be that much closer to the Equinox.  The warm is on the way, and the seasons will change, and so may we, if we wish, and if we work for it.  Chances and choices, there for the taking.  Choose well, and be happy.

Spring’s coming, y’all.  Ready your soil, both of the earth, and the soul.  And be particular in your source of fertilizer.

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A Winter’s Day… without Simon and Garfunkel

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2011 by Queenie

We have this thing in Texas.  It’s called winter.  Sometimes we have it, for a day or two – sometimes it gets serious, more so for the folks up Dallas way. Not the reason I shed myself of Dallas decades ago, but it’ll do. People in the midwest and east who have been pummeled for weeks now will scoff at our wimpiness down here, but we were raised weak-kneed for winter, and it doesn’t take much to put us in a tizzy about it. We bow to their grit and survival, as we see our schools and business cancelled with but a dusting of snow. And y’all can have it, for the most part, with our blessings and good luck to you.  But it’s nice to see the wonder of it without the catastrophe.

So here’s how it’s been for our spate of winter, likely long gone by the time you get this. Winter’s for the kids and some critters. Having not the kid thing, I offer up Winter on the Ranch, the bird buddies, and, well, fun and frolic for the four-legged variety of kids I do have.

I figure there’s been enough soul baring and pontificating around here of late. Time for some winter ambiance. Disclaimer on the photography – this isn’t my “good stuff,” it’s just the good stuff of Life. It’s time to chill, or, um, maybe just to get by the fire and get warm. You can always click on the image to get the big picture.

A Walk in the Snow….

Wildness is not so far away. A step over the fence into the Back 40 takes me away from the houses and into what is left of a bit of unfettered Nature, but it’s getting more than a little fettered lately. I fear I’ll be losing that, or already have. Looks like there may be a treatise coming soon on Goodbye to the Back 40, but not now. Suffice it to say that just a little trespassing gets the blood going. This morning I found coyote tracks everywhere, and running down the road behind the property. It feels good to have the wildness so close.

It’s always fun to read the tracks. I’m usually pretty good, but I’m not sure what happened here. I need more homework, that’s for sure.

Same bushes, done in abstract. It’s all about stopping to look at the little things.

And speaking of little things, these little cups of snow are so tiny. Not even as big as the tip of my finger. But the spent blooms are big enough to hold the snow granules. It almost wasn’t snow – even smaller than sleet. They were merely particles of snow, but pretty all the same.

Just common yuccas, but transformed a bit with the white stuff. I like the flash of yellow with sunlight on the dead leaf.

We’re blessed to have a madrone on this property. There are some in the area, but they’re fairly rare, really, and almost impossible to transplant. I doubt that the drivers of the eartheaters know a madrone from a magpie, and it wouldn’t make any difference if they did. They’re cutting big roads into the far side of the Back 40, and I know there are cousins of this one falling. But this is supposed to be a peaceful entry, so I’ll stop now, with this lovely image of madrone leaves cupping their treasure of snow.

The deer water has become an ice sculpture. Three days constantly below freezing. Doesn’t happen much around here.

Bird Buddies

I’ve been working on photographing the bird populace. I’ve gotten most of them, but still no House Wrens, which is too bad, since they are my favorites. Ah well, one always needs the next something to do.

These are what we call Mexican Doves, Incas actually, much smaller than the White Tails. Not nearly as many of them, either. I was surprised to see so many at once.

And we have a few woodpeckers.  Rarely do we ever see this variety up close, but the cold brought this one in – a Ladder-backed.

Here’s a more common visitor, the Golden-fronted.  Funny, I was taking pictures this morning and said out loud, ” I need my favorite woodpecker to show up,” and less than a minute later, there he was.  Gee, what else do I need to ask for?

Want to see what a woodpecker looks like swallowing a piece of bread?

The Redbirds – Cardinals – are really red this year, and they also like the bread treats.

But I love this shot of a puffy dude. This one may do for the Cardinal shot I’ve been looking for. He’s not in a tree, but he’s grand.

Nothing like a bowlful of sparrows, the ones we call Sparroons.

And not too many cuter than Tufted Titmice, which we call Tithooties.

Unless it’s a Chickadee.

Sometimes when there’s a crowd at the food bar, you’ll hear a loud raucous bunch of noise, and shortly thereafter arrives a Blue Jay, not the nicest guys in the world. They’re beautiful, but they’re sometimes just plain mean. Here’s Boss Jay, having run everyone else off.

We have one other regular around here, and this isn’t his best shot, but this was today’s offering. He hates the cold, and the snow, and the ice, and is waiting as patiently as he can for spring. His magnificent sartorial splendor is about all grown back in, and he’ll be ready to rock and roll in just a few months. He’s headed for the shelter of the loafing shed on the south side, out of the wind. Doesn’t everyone have a Peacock?  I call him Magic, for he is.

And, of course, The Kids

Checking it out. It’s been a year since the last round, so time to get acquainted with this white stuff again.

Snow makes you want to RUN!

And dance!

Custody Dog, all ready for her close up, all frosted with snow.

Mr. Mugeon, with that Sound of Music song in his head….Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes….

So comes the end of the Winter Wonderland edition. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. And now, not having anything to do with snow, but not to forget, here’s the “end” to that Dead Roses post from a couple of weeks back. Quite an improvement, I must say.

Stay warm, y’all.