Monday, November 25, 2013

Sometimes I'm a Sandwich Short of a Picnic

Sometimes I'm not the brightest crayon in the box.
Sometimes I'm a gangplank short of a cruise.

There are many, many sometimes funny ways to point out that a person isn't quite thinking properly.
Today would be my turn.

It is 33*, windy and raining.
Normally, that sort of weather zips through my part of Texas in a 24 hour period and then it's 65* and sunny again the next day.
Not so with this particular weather system.
It has been here for 3 days and will continue for another 2.

Big whoop, right?
Just bundle up and drink hot chocolate, this too shall pass.



Normally I would, but I will be leaving town for a couple days (burglars beware---housesitters, 2 large dogs and an alarm system are all in place).

The Beverly Hillbilly (raise your hand if you know what a Beverly Hillbilly is) chicken coop you see above needs modification if my chickens are to survive this weather while I'm gone.
I cannot ask aforementioned housesitters to pick up my chickens and put them in the garage every night so they don't freeze.  
If you can imagine the photo above without what looks like a smaller cage in the foreground, you'll see what my chicken coop looks like.  I have repurposed a 6 x10 dog run.  Two sides have wood attached, but the other two sides do not.  We have far more terribly hot days than terribly cold days, so the two sided coop works to keep my chickens cool in the summer.  Not so much to keep them warm in the cold days (DUH!).

So, today, when it is windy and raining and 33*, I will be headed to Home Depot for plywood and bolts.
I will be out in this weather taking care of something that I should have taken care of months (years) ago.
I might need a shot of whiskey to keep me warm----if I drank whiskey.  Which a I don't.

And so today, I am a sandwich short of a picnic.
Who picnics in this sort of weather anyway?
Just goes to show you how bright I am.

If I don't come back, I froze to death or my boots got stuck in the deep, deep mud of the chicken run---or both.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Now This, This is a Cold Front

This chart pretty much speaks for itself.
Cold + Rainy + Windy = BBBbbbbbrrrrrrr.
It also equals chili, cornbread, hot chocolate (with tiny marshmallows), bundled up pets, people, pipes and plants.
It also equals a good day to turn on the oven.
I think homemade bread is order.
Or cookies.



What do you do on the first real cold front of the season?
Cook?
Enjoy that 'first sweater of the season'?
Go out and thumb your nose at the wind?
Light a fire?




Monday, November 18, 2013

Different Toys, Please

"In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods.  
They have not forgotten this."
~Terry Pratchett
 This is
Mr. Do-As-I-Please.
Mr. Like-It-Or-Lump-It.
Mr. I-Will-Have-What-I-Want, Now!
Mr. Dog-Bed-Schmog-Bed.
Mr. Sometimes-I-Eats-Them-Sometimes-I-Plays-With-Them.

 It's that last one that really gets me.

Whiskers!
 Our recent rains have brought a proliferation of growth in my pasture.

Tiny tail!
 What that means is, more food for small pasture dwelling creatures.

Look at those ears, aaawwww!
 That, in turn, means more babies.

Sweet face!
 I don't mind one bit when Hobbes makes a meal or two out of the mice and rats.
There will always be more.  They are vermin, after all.

Jenna, double click on this picture to see tiny toes!

 I do mind when he brings them up to the house and plays with them.



Awwww!
 And by plays with them, I mean terrorize the poor teeny things.

His wee head is no bigger than my thumbnail.
 This tiny one was seen by me whilst he was airborne.

More tiny toeses!
 I was looking out the back door while talking to my friend, Deb (Hi Deb!!).
We had just been talking about her cat and mine and their penchant for capturing small animals.


 Mandy, our dog was suddenly on high alert and I looked to see what was up.
This wee one was 'Up'.  Hobbes was actually tossing him in the air.

Those ears!
I can't really tolerate torture.
My cat is only doing the job I have given him---to keep the rats and mice down around the house.
So, when he gets lazy and just wants to play (torture), I intervene.

My daughter, Jenna, and I have a huge soft spot for the "ratties", as she had pets rats as a little girl.

Jenna, these babies were beyond cute, but even this teeny, tiny tried to bite me.
Scary lady with big hands. 
 I'm sure he thought he's gone out of the frying pan and into the fire when I rescued him.
The commentary captions below some of the pictures are just for Jenna.
Only she will understand.
Unless you are a rat lover, too.
Then you'll get it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Wicked Queen is Dead

Check out her stinger!

Well, one of the Queens is dead.
The last time we visited the Yellow Jackets, they were in mad prep for the coming of winter.
I was trying to decide what to do (hire an exterminator or let them be).
I decided, knowing the residents of the hive were going to die, to leave them alone.

Late in summer, by the magic of biology, the one Queen in the hive lays several eggs that are either male or new queens.  
Prior to that, all the worker wasps (see the smaller one in the picture) are infertile females.  
These new hive members are treated like royalty.  The worker wasps feed and fatten them up.

In late Fall, the male wasps and the new Queen wasps leave the hive in search of mates. They do not mate with wasps from their own hive.
The males find Queens from other hives, mate and then die.

The newly fertilized Queens find a nice warm place to overwinter (holes in trees, animal burrows, weep holes in my house, etc) and in the spring the whole thing starts all over again.

The dead queen in my picture was just emerging from one of the weep holes in my house where the whole hive is stationed.  She wasn't sure about coming out, so I took the opportunity to run to the house for wasp spray.  I am certain she was not the only new Queen that was being fed this fall.

A cold front blew in this morning and by tomorrow morning we will have had our first freeze.
I will plug up all our weep holes with steel wool to keep any errant Queens from building in my house again next spring.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Preston and Katie Sitting in a Tree...

Well, they aren't sitting in a tree, but I'm betting most everyone finished the little ditty that we all sang as children when it became obvious that a boy and a girl liked each other.
photo credit: http://newroadproductions.smugmug.com/
This boy and this girl like each other.
Just a little bit.
Well, maybe more than a little bit.


Last Saturday, Katie's aunt Kelly, Grammy Marian and cousin, Lauren threw her a bridal shower.
It was beautiful!


Grammy Marian is 'crafty' as the kids like to say.
I think she taught Martha Stewart everything she knows.


Attention to detail was not spared--the food, the decorations, and most of all--the warm welcome.


Everyone was so friendly! 
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the friendly people.
My photography skills misunderstood the lighting and every picture with people in them turned out badly. 
Everyone was blurry, as though they were all running in place or something.


Trust me, there were people there. 
I think about 30 of us!

cupcake cake by Cori Kelly
Grammy Marian has a protege'.  One of her granddaughters who is in middle school, made this amazing cupcake cake of a bridal dress.  Someone finally started to take it apart and eat.  We all wanted to leave it just like it was.  


Tiny pies and cupcakes for dessert, in addition to the cupcake cake.
Apple, Pumpkin, Chocolate and Pecan.
So hard to choose!


Beautiful, beautiful centerpieces!

Photo Credit: Sheri Michinok
photo credit: Sheri Michinok



Grandma Cox, Me and future Daughter-In-Love, Katie



And here it is, the wedding announcement.
It came in the mail yesterday.
It's just beautiful!
It seems like just yesterday I was crying about them getting engaged.
"You're too young!"
"You haven't finished college!"

I quickly let that go.  
No more sense fighting against young love than trying to hold back the waves from the shore.
They've been together for 5 years.
They've had their ups and downs, but haven't we all?

Preston is graduating in December.
He has a job in his field of study if he wants it.
He's been on many other interviews.
Katie has a great job.

They've grown up so much since they got engaged.
I'm so proud of both of them.

Preston has picked a young woman who brings out the best in him.
She is thoughtful and caring and loving.
What's not to love?

January 3rd, 2014
I will, as they say, "not be losing a son, but gaining a daughter"




Monday, November 4, 2013

Even The Plants Want Her to Come Home

I've had this weird, childish notion that if I put up the Christmas tree, Jenna will come home.
My brain says, "Jenna is coming home for Christmas.  If you put up the Christmas tree, then it must be Christmas time.  She will come home."

Of course, I know better.
Of course, I'd never put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.
Still, it pops into my head about once a day.


I was out watering plants on my porch last week and noticed this.
It is a Christmas cactus.
The red things at the end of each leaf are flower buds.

If it were indoors, it wouldn't begin blooming until nearly Christmas.
Some years, it doesn't bloom at all.

I know from a horticultural standpoint, that the plant on the porch is getting just what it needs to bloom.
"12 hours of uninterrupted darkness, 50*-55* degree nights".

The plant I have indoors is exposed to light from 6am to 11pm.  
It doesn't get uninterrupted darkness, nor do we keep the house at 50*.

I get it.
I really do.
There is still a part of my brain that thinks the cactus on the porch wants Jenna to come home, too.
"If I bloom, she will come."


Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Pretty New Girl in the Neighborhood

Deer hunting season began yesterday.
The rut (mating) season began about a month ago.
What that means is, deer are completely out of their minds this time of year.
Wandering into traffic in the middle of the day.
Straying far from their normal range.
Being more OR less fearful of humans, depending on their hormone levels.


This pretty girl caught my eye this morning.
I've never seen her before.
She was followed closely by a smallish buck, who was limping.
Seems he has tried to move mountains (and fences and ditches) to catch this pretty doe's eye.


What makes this girl different?
The pictures below show it most clearly.
She's nearly black! 
I would (because I'm a chocolate lover) say that she is in the color range of Dark chocolate.


After a little research, I now know that she is "melanistic".  Her pigmentation is a genetic marker that caused her coloring to go into overdrive.
Believe it or not, she is far more rare than even an albino whitetail deer.


According to the North American Whitetail webpage, there is a larger concentration of melanistic deer in Central Texas than in any other place on the planet, combined.
Cool! 
If you'd like to read more about it, click HERE.

I would love for her to hang around.  She was unconcerned by my presence, but more curious about my cat.  
That's why I was able to get such close-up pictures of her.
If Mr. Buck was successful in his attempts to woo her, I wonder what her fawn would look like in the spring?