Earth Day 2019

Today is Earth Day – Google said it so it must be true.  I did a bunch of extra-but-ordinary tasks.  Did they make a difference in the protection of this beautiful planet?  I don’t know.  However, they were pleasant and I enjoyed the slow-paced-yet-steady busyness of the day.

In honor of the day I did the following:

  • Picked lavender and hung it up to dry.
  • Picked lettuce from my garden and prepared a delicious side dish for dinner.
  • Wrestled a snake from Sparky the hunter cat.  Okay – maybe I didn’t actually wrestle it since it was already dead, and maybe it has nothing to do with Earth Day but I did it and I was relatively calm the whole time.  I’d like some points for that.
  • Added material to my makeshift compost pile, gave everything a good turning (it smelled so good!), flung up a second snake, still didn’t scream.
  • Went to watch my grandson, Kolbe, play touch football.

All in all, it’s been a nice day.

Happy Earth Day!

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Birds in the Backyard – Woodpeckers

Last week I shared some wintery pictures of cardinals.

Today, I bring you red-bellied woodpeckers.  I think.  I do not have extensive knowledge of birds and this is the best guess after – you know it – googling images.  As I said before, the pictures are taken through a window so sometimes they seem a little muted. At any rate, the fascination continues showcasing these birds with the orange heads and black and white backs.

A Day In Palo Duro Canyon

If I told you our recent outing to Palo Duro Canyon resulted in scraped knees, a sprained ankle, an attack of wind and sand, car trouble and temps in the 100’s you might be left with the impression it wasn’t a very good day.  But, take my word for it, it was.  Surrounding those mishaps was time spent together hiking, exploring, eating,  watching wildlife and a great musical.

When we arrived, our first stop, before going down into the canyon, was at the scenic overlook.  Rugged, simple, beautiful – that seems an apt description of the view.  Everyone enjoyed the scenery, the visitor center/gift shop and even took this first opportunity to meander down some paths and explore some old ruins.

Top of the Canyon looking down
Old dwelling just waiting to be explored
Leslie and Ben hiking

The sun was hot but soon, cloud cover moved in and provided a welcome respite.   With the clouds came a few rumbles of thunder and we searched the sky to see which way things were moving but, weren’t overly concerned since it seemed to be moving away from us.  We had been there for 15-20 minutes when I took the grandbaby, Colette, and stood on the path to admire the view.  Suddenly and without warning,  a gust of wind whipped the hat right off of her head.  It landed just over the side and got caught on a small branch but, between juggling her and the ‘big’ camera I wasn’t sure how to retrieve it.  That predicament was short-lived and ended up being the least of my problems because just a few seconds later the wind became ferocious and big, fat drops of rain began to pelt us.  Trying to run – into the wind – we were assaulted with grains of sand while getting drenched.  Trying to shield the baby and the camera from the rain and sand I finally made it back to the car where, luckily, the door was unlocked. Meanwhile, in haste to seek shelter five-year-old Gianna fell and skinned up both of her knees. Two minutes and two band-aids later all was calm again, and the brief storm both Mother Nature and Gianna unleashed had passed. The camera and Colette – baffled by the commotion and Nana’s antics – were fine.

As the saying goes here in the Lone Star State, “If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change.”

Just like that, the sun came back out and we decided it was time to move on.   We gave the teenagers, Patrick and Ben, a moment to alert their peeps that, once in the canyon, there would be little to no cell service.  The anticipation anxiety of being cut off from social media required some deep breathing on their part but after a moment they too recovered and we began to make our way down.

At the bottom, it was HOT – about 111 degrees  – with very little shade.  Meandering the two-lane road we kept the a/c in the car on full blast while we took in all of the rugged beauty. Undaunted by the heat, we got out and braved the high temperatures to hike, play and explore.  And, drink lots of water.

Our first stop was to look at some rustic cabins that we hadn’t seen on previous trips.  We marveled at the Cow Camp Cabins and the man who, in the distance and in the oppressive heat, sat with his easel painting.

Rustic cabins with bunk-beds, a/c, and a fireplace but no running water.
Can you see the speck sitting on top of the hill?

Unfortunately, Ben stepped off the side of the asphalt wrong and twisted his foot. Immediately, it swelled up but since we had coolers filled with ice and drinks we were able to get a nice cold-pack on it quickly.  It was sore and swollen for the rest of that afternoon and evening, but the park hosts provided us with an ace bandage and that, along with ibuprofen and ice, kept the discomfort to a minimum.

Moving on we discovered a cave in the side of the hill so all of us (except Ben and Granny) jumped out to explore it.  The pictures tell the story better than I can.

Let’s check out that cave!
Grandpa helping Therese
Almost there
Success
What a view

Following that fun, albeit hot and steamy hike we stumbled across a surprise snow-cone stand.  Without a second thought, we overpaid for the luxury of cold, refreshing flavored ice and enjoyed it in the only spot of shade around.

Days like this make me feel like I’m the luckiest person on earth and I’m very thankful to God for the opportunity to have these adventures. I love my family and I love spending time with them.  Even though we were missing several members we had fun with those who could be there.  $$-wise we didn’t spend a whole lot of money but the memories we made – priceless.

I hope this summer you find fun, too.  Even when things don’t go absolutely perfectly.

Carpe Diem!

To all the father’s out there – have a very Happy Day!  And may God bless you and your families.

Meandering with Lucy

Maybe it is the time change, but my 14-year-old Westie, Lucy, woke up this afternoon and was feeling feisty.  Lucy, who is mostly deaf and partly blind and spends most of her days sleeping wanted to play so – taking advantage of a pretty afternoon and the extended daylight – we went for a walk.

Cool temperatures, budding trees, blooming grape hyacinths, and one of those amazing sunsets turned a quick walk into an opportunity to meander.

These moments are always good.  And appreciated.

Urban Amble

An urban amble on the Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas was an outing I immensely enjoyed.  A 3.5 mile trek stretching from SMU at the north end to the American Airlines Center on the south end the trail offered an abundance of opportunities to enjoy nature and city at the same time.

We saw planes, trains and automobiles amidst very tall skyscrapers and yet, plenty of trees offered lots of shade.  Several private apartment/townhome patios – that backed up to the trail -had water features or fountains and the gentle sound of trickling water helped us forget we were in the middle of Big D.  Runners, rollerbladers, dogs, birds, squirrels and (bike)riders were too numerous to count.  A patio restaurant known as the Katy Trail Ice House offered a scenic caboose and a refreshing variety of 50+ beers on tap.

It made for a good day.

 

 

WPC – It IS Easy Being Green When It’s Springtime in Texas

An ordinary Sunday afternoon spent enjoying my boys, my dogs and lots of sunshine. (The Hubster was out of town)

Luxurious Green-ness is abundant during springtime in this great state of Texas!

 

 

The Heard on Black Friday

 

It’s not this time of year without the madness of the Black Friday frenzy.  And, while I have, in past years, jumped on the bandwagon in search of savings, this year I had no desire to join the crowds.

However, I did feel the need to get outside and make the most of the sunshine and mild temperatures.  With such good weather my daughter and I made  a plan to visit dinosaurs and explore trails at   The Heard Museum in McKinney, Texas.

Arriving earlier than the rest of the family I was able to get in two miles before we met up.  I enjoyed the solitude in nature as I encountered fewer and fewer people the farther out I went.

The water, the turtles and our version of autumn

When they arrived I met them on the dinosaur trail, and as I came up behind the kids I was met with the wonderfully familiar sound of “NAAANNAA” as they caught sight of me.

Dinosaurs – oh my! Let’s take a a selfie.

As we wandered along we came across a trail that none of us had been on in a while and decided to follow it.  Five year old Kolbe was convinced that this was the trail with the giant white sycamore and really wanted to find the tree.  Despite the rain a few days ago everything had been relatively dry so we thought, “okay!”

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-16It may have been a little muddy in a few spots.

We were thoroughly enjoying our hike when we came across areas that had obviously been flooded.  Seeing a bridge which had been washed away from who-knows-where along with all of the piled up branches, trees and debris we commented on the damage.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-2

See the bridge?

Walking a bit further we suddenly found the spot where the bridge had been.  And, it was where we needed to cross. 11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-1We wondered, “Should we turn around and retrace our steps or see if we can get across?”

Now let me set this scene for you.  We were a party of seven.  One Nana – that’s me, one daddy, one pregnant mommy, two school-age kids and two young-un’s.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-11

The littlest ones

What the heck – it was time to be adventurous.  If we fell in the water or slipped in the mud it wouldn’t be too bad.  After all, it was 62 degrees with sunshine and no wind!

It’s an adventure payoff!  We all got across and no one fell in!

Time for another selfie.  Or two!

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-7AND – we found the giant sycamore!  More than 160 years old!

As we came to the end of the trail we realized we had been hiking a closed trail.  Due to damage from flooding. Oops.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-17I don’t know what happened to the sign at the start of the trail, but our ‘adventures’ made a good day truly memorable.

 

A Wedding and Minnesota Mosquitos

I had heard stories of Minnesota mosquitos but, as our plane left Dallas and pointed north I forgot them.

My mom and I were going to the wedding of my niece, Kelli, and, once we landed –  and the rain cleared out – we were left with weather perfected.   Lows in the high-50’s and highs in the low 80’s and low humidity made for a wonderful, and much appreciated, break from the oppressive heat and high humidity we had been experiencing.

The wedding was beautiful and joyful – as weddings should be – and I loved watching as Kelli was happily wed to Erik.  They – along with two year-old Jace, are good together and make a super sweet family.

Finding myself with free time the next day the cool morning beckoned me outside to do some exploring.

Elk River had lots of natural settings to enjoy and my soul was filled with appreciation for this little piece of heaven.  An abundance of huge evergreens conjured up visions of Christmas trees covered in snow and laced with twinkling lights.

Elk River, MN

Quaint landscapes with red barns and the meandering Mississippi River invoked feelings of tranquility and peace.

But, relaxing landscapes and Christmas dreams aside, I wanted to do some hiking, and, lucky me, trails were easy to find.  There was an abundance of choices, all within a 10 minute drive.

Looking at a map of the parks I settled on one described as “home to six miles of challenging trails through 80 acres of oak forest”

Perfect!

My exuberance apparently fogged my brain and in the excitement of my impending adventure I didn’t remember that Minnesota had received a lot of rain in the previous weeks.

And, I didn’t remember that bugs tend to be worse near bodies of water.

And, I didn’t remember that when you combine standing water – or streams or rivers or lakes –  with a canopy of trees that mosquitoes tend to multiply exponentially.

And, I didn’t remember that, as a general rule, mosquitos LOVE me.

Most important…..I didn’t remember bug spray.

Can you tell what’s coming?

Yep, as I hiked into the forest I discovered there were plenty of those pesky parasites and each time I stopped moving they were determined to move in for the kill feast.

The hike was now forgotten and the race was on as I began running.  They wanted to eat me alive?  Well, first they were going to have to catch me!  I foolishly felt sure I would win this contest.

Oh I was so wrong.

Each time I stopped I resembled a wild woman – waving my arms all around while slapping myself.  Obviously, I wasn’t going to be stopping too often, or for very long, so checking my gps was going to be a challenge.  As a result, I took a wrong turn and went deeper into the woods instead of out.

Forty-five minutes – and what felt like four thousand bites later, it was the pests who got the win.  Dragging my sorry bit-up butt out of the forest I admitted defeat.

Mosquitoes – one, me – zero.

And, okay, let’s be real – four thousand might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Kelli & ErikOh well. What’s an adventure without a little adversity?  The wonderful time I had with family while enjoying beautiful sights and amazing temperatures made my potentially serious lapse in thinking a minor nuisance.  Overall – I had fun and that was worth dealing with a few bug bites.

Minnesota….I still love you.  I may have lost the race but the beauty of the area – and some Benadryl – made my not-so-clever choice well worth the aggravation.

 

WPC: Good Mornings In Texas

This weeks photo challenge is Mornings.

Often I find a good morning will set the tone for the day and spectacular sunrises are always a good sign.  Add in some critters and coffee and I’m reminded, once again, of how great God is.

Stunning Skies

coffee

Coffee and Flowers

Bird Watching

SpiderSunrise With a Spider

 

Squirrel Antics

 

It’s a good morning!