Monday, April 26, 2021

Feeding Giraffes in pandemic times

Well, it is finally time to start leaving the Shed. 

Yes, time to get out and be among…PEOPLE. It was hard, so many months stuck at the house, only going out in special circumstances and after quarantining. We did it! Armed with vaccines, masks and hand sanitizer, we left town, and believe it or not got together with a few of the kids and went, to the Zoo! Brave attendees of this outing have declared it a success and it has opened the door to dare I say it, to normal behavior. We did it up big, packed yummy food and drinks for lunch, and ventured out. Our mission; feed the giraffes at the Houston Zoo in Herman Park.
As an additional fee to your admission, you can, at two times during the day feed romaine lettuce to the giraffes. And it was amazing. These gentle creatures are so beautiful, and I had such a good time being up close and looking them in the eye. I love getting to do things out of the box and this was a great one.
It was a pretty day, chamber-of-commerce-weather as some say, even, dare I say…hot. Lots of animals were out and some even posed for a photo or two.
Many of the animals seemed happy to have humans to look at again, I think it has been quiet for them with “the covid” and weird weather over that past several months. This Tortoise was definitely walking across the enclosure with a purpose and actively looking at all the crazy humans.
As with all zoo visits there is always a moment that sticks with you. For me this visit was filled with X-rated pigeon activity. Those suckers were displaying and having pigeon relations all over the place, in the bushes, under pavilions, everywhere. So shocking!
Even the Meerkat was talking about them.
The Chimps were thoughtfully discussing the matter and have decided to send a strongly worded letter to Zoo management, demanding that they do something about all this. I mean can you believe it, these birds have no shame, no sense of decorum.
I think the Lemurs were taking notes, but you never know when it comes to the Lemurs, napping seems to take precedence over pigeon gossip even when things get interesting so much mating, everywhere. They probably have the healthiest attitude about it all, saying, “Just do what makes you happy dude”.

The giraffes seemed to find it all amusing, but they don’t seem to rattle easily. 
I may be scarred for life. Well, maybe not. Place winking emoji here. 

So, go friends, get outside and enjoy this weather before it gets too hot. You’ve got this!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

This winter has been a wild ride


Life at the Shed

2021 has brought us some very interesting events and weather and we are only just ending February. January had craziness in the political scene, and a rare snow event.

The politics I can do without, the place we have come to with such insanity and fanaticism is something I never thought to witness in my lifetime or country, no good can come of this. (rant over)

So, back to snow, beautiful clean snow. The January snow was awesome, we all played in it and enjoyed the rarity of it in southeast Texas. Snowmen were made, joy was felt, we all had a good time.

At the end of January and in early February it started to warm up, early plants were starting to bloom, I looked this wildflower up, it is called Henbit…kinda tasty, yes, you can eat it. We have it all over the yard, I love it. Apparently so do chickens, hence the name.

 I was eager to start getting the garden beds prepared, mixing in compost and planning which seeds to start. It was all exciting and NORMAL. Well as normal as my sense of humor will allow as you can see with the new planter, I put out front, wink, wink. More on this one when I get the plants in place as I have big plant plans for it.

Then, February…

And over all the land there was Snowmagedon…wish I had thought of this name but, alas I am just quoting. Freezing rain, ice, snow, arctic temperatures where it is NEVER supposed to get that cold. And power grid issues, water issues, for a week! Here at the Shed we reached a low of 3F on the coldest night. How is this even possible, it is truly apocalyptical stuff here man.

It must be mentioned here that we have INCREDIBLE utility management here on our side of Walker County, the folks at Midsouth Electric and Walker County SUD deserve all the kudos for keeping us in electricity and water. Can’t thank them enough for keeping us warm and pipes intact.

We did have some damages in town, but we were able to have repairs made quickly and have happy folks at our places again. So grateful that the winter storm gods have spared us the terrible trouble that folks all around us are facing with catastrophic damages to their homes and businesses. 

Between “The Covid”, crazy weather and crazier politics I wonder if we will ever get normal back. I just know that I have seen a lot of kindness happening around the little town of Huntsville, and that is a comfort after all the crazy.

I regret that I didn’t take many photos, it was just too damn cold to venture outside. Most of my bird feeder buddies made it through all this. I found three fatalities (Two Robins and one very pretty, unknown species) out in the pasture after the thaw. I am thinking that we came out well with those numbers.   

Mr. Jiggles is still kicking, thank goodness.

How is the weather now you ask? A week later, it’s hot (in comparison). No really, we can wear shorts if we want to outside as the current temperature out right now is 77F and its cloudy threatening rain and thunderstorms tomorrow.  

So yeah, this winter has been a wild ride. I am up for having an adventure, but this is ridiculous. I think I will have to spend lots of time outside watching the antics of my winter visitors at the bird feeder, Pine Siskins, Golden Finches, Purple Finches and Cardinals.

 The following photos were taken today at the bird feeder I have set up. Enjoy, hope to talk at you all soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Remembering the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

This year with the ‘rona invading our lives people may not get to experience this phenomenal event so I thought you might enjoy seeing some shots from the (click the following link for current year info on the Fiesta) 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. 

This crazy week long party is an excellent time of year to visit the area, and after the pandemic is over remember to make your reservations early as hotels are often booked a year in advance for this tourist invasion of ABQ. 

This trip was a bucket list item of my Mom’s and we all wanted to see this annual event. 

Since it is in October, it was a great time to go. 
The weather is warm during the day and cool at night and depending on when the last cold front has blown in you may or may not need a coat. 

 The hubby and I will always find a good reason to visit his hometown. Once you have the desert in your bones you find that no matter where you live it calls you back. 

The Fiesta grounds are great to see the launches, but you must get up and get there before dawn to secure a good viewing spot. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy the “Morning Glow of the Dawn Patrol”. 

There are plenty of vendors selling food, souvenirs and hat pins. Gotta have a hat pin, it’s required man.


Getting shots of the balloons being filled in the predawn is breathtakingly amazing and they are so big; if you have never been up close to a hot air balloon you are in for a treat. 

Whenever you visit a new town always remember to pack your manners, it really pays off.

We found a great spot on the Sandia Pueblo along the river to see many of the balloons taking off in the distance. 

Pay for parking where people ask for it! 

Really don’t be a jerk, don’t trespass, and be friendly it makes everybody happy and you get those great shots you are looking to take and show off when you get home. 

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at the Sandia Lakes fishing spot and park. I was able to grab these from that vantage point and came home giddy, wondering which to print first?! Exciting stuff to this photo nerd. 

It is incredible to me the creativity and personality that goes into designing these balloons. If you can imagine it, they can sew it and fly it. 

 So next time you are in New Mexico, plan to be there in October. We had so much fun and it is so worth it. 

Oh, and remember, you don’t need a passport. Winking at you folks from Albuquerque.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Welcome to the country, the first year.

Welcome to the Country, the first year…Really?!

Hard to believe it, almost exactly a year ago we scaled down from a five-bedroom house near Galveston, TX to a one bedroom apartment

Demo Day Begins
(we lived in it during reconstruction, yes we are that crazy and we dubbed it “The Shed”) in the middle of a small pasture with a couple rentals and lots of grass to cut near Huntsville, TX.

In the end after a lot of hard work from our contractor and on our own; we have a very cozy nest with a garden, lots of wildlife and never a dull moment.

 Stick around I have lots of photos to share and plenty of stories, and I hope to start up with a weekly blog again. (I guess I am crazy, arrogant or both enough to think folks might like to read about how much fun retirement can be.)

Did I mention the large amount of grass to cut?

Yeah, lots of grass.

Our tractor

Don’t get me wrong, this is the best thing I think we have ever done. We bought a used tractor. I HIGHLY recommend driving a tractor in a large field with a big floppy hat on your head. Best therapy in the world to cure corporate burnout.


My garden has been lots of fun so far. Right now the best plant is the peppermint, it doesn't seem to care about the heat. The summer squash has succumbed to bugs so tomorrow will be gifting these plants to the compost pile. The tomatoes are still hanging on as well as the herbs and the okra.

We have had some good and bad moments with our pets. We lost the last dog. She was almost 20 and it was a heartbreaking time to say goodbye.

 But the country Gods saw fit to gift us with a feral kitten in that same week. I say that because there was a feral Mom on the property when

Mamma Kitty
we bought it. We had been feeding her for about a month when one night we were sitting out front enjoying an adult beverage, or two.

Mamma kitty came up, so we gave her some food and she left. About five minutes later she came back around the house from out back carrying what I thought was a baby rabbit.

Nope, it was this little ball of fluff…


“Hey, thanks for the food, here’s a kitten.”

We named her Luna, and here is why. It was a full moon that night, and she just looks like a Goddess. She is one of the best cats I’ve ever had the pleasure to share my house.

Please don’t let Chester know I said that, he’s sensitive you know.

That same mamma, who disappeared a few months after she gave us Luna, also had other kittens. 

Mr. Jiggles

 This is Mr. Jiggles. He will accept food, but has yet to let me get close enough to touch him. That’s okay, he is now the property guardian and very handsome. Mr. Jiggles has a lot on his mind and talks all the time, so I nod knowingly, and it seems to make him happy.

We have other neighbors on the property, a couple of young armadillos make a morning of it wondering through the back by this beautiful old oak.

Young Armadillo

Texas Live Oak

We learned about a new Texas wildflower this month. It is called Spotted Horsemint or Spotted Bee Balm. Thanks to the website put out by Dr. Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen, of Foraging Texas . He is an awesome source for plant identification. Check him out on his website and on Facebook.

Spotted Horsemint

So, one last photo and now you are caught up and we will chat again next week, stay safe out there y’all.

Local Bumble Bee

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Giving of your time and talents

Often in life you stumble upon things that matter to you unexpectedly. These things often come about when you make a change, and recently I have found one of these wondrous things.  I started photographing shelter cats at my city animal shelter, and this volunteer experience has been truly amazing.  

In the past few months I have seen some miraculous transformations and some very happy endings.

Take Hannah for instance, this beautiful girl and her sister were in the shelter way too long. She was part a of a bonded pair whose future was up in the air as they were extremely shy, and were near impossible to place in a home, but it happened.  They were adopted by a very patient and caring woman who is letting Hannah and her sister Lilly adjust slowly to their new environment, it is a real success story.


It is a story of hope and a true testament to the volunteers who work with hard to place animals all over the county.  I am honored that I got to witness the end of a very long road for these two girls and all the people who worked the hours to get them to the point that some one would see them and take them into their home.

Photographing cats is so much fun, who knew? With all the varied personalities and activity levels it has been a learning experience which is ongoing. 
What toys get their attention, how do I get them to ignore the camera and not be afraid of it, what is the best way to really get their true nature to shine through?
I’m having so much fun learning the answers to these questions. The rambunctious girl pictured above is Zarah.  She is still a very young kitten and moves super-fast. I had to play with her for awhile before trying to catch this shot; expending some of her supercharged kitty energy so I could keep her attention.
Being a kitten, she was only in the adoption room for one day, now she’s in a home, good luck little one. 

Apparently, April and May are big kitten months. There are so many babies right now, it’s a good time to check out the local shelter if you are looking for a baby.

These little guys are often abandoned and unwelcome, but if people would just take the time to be responsible and have their cats spayed or neutered it would save suffering and money. Check with your local SPCA or city shelter, they have programs or know of local events where the surgeries can be preformed at reduced cost.  

Also, if you have a feral cat living near you, and you care enough to feed it, having it neutered and released is something to consider.  Trust me, finding a deceased mamma cat in your attic with five sick babies is not fun and could have been avoided by a friend of mine if someone had taken the time to neuter their cats.  As it was they ended up bottle feeding the babies and lost two.  They are looking for homes for the others. It just seems like a sad waste of life.  

If you don’t have the time to spend with a new kitten for litter box training and teaching them the ropes of not climbing your curtains, consider an adult cat who craves your attention and company and comes into your home knowing these things already.

This is Giana, she is curious, loving and likes to curl up in her favorite person’s lap.  She even drools a little if you give her cuddles and scratches on her head the way she likes it. She has some very unusual markings and I think she is very photogenic, don’t you?  If she speaks to you, ask for her at the League City Animal Shelter, in League City Texas.

Friday, March 23, 2018

It is Thyme for Spring

It is the end of March and here on the Texas Gulf coast, that means the best weather we get all year.  Because it is so awesome outside, I thought I would share some of my back-yard shots with you.  Some of the critters with whom we share the yard, and the plants that are all promise, and new growth are looking so wonderful I had to share.

We seem to have two types of reptile in the yard, green anoles and apparently brown anoles as well. They are related but look a bit different. The green anoles are native to the United States and can turn a brown color when needed, but the brown anoles are out of Cuba and are always brown. God bless the internet, what did we ever do before search engines? I seem to remember looking at the encyclopedia often…wonder what happened to that set? Anyway…

A green anole

A brown anole

Since I was unable to contact our family herpetologist, I had to compare photos with those on line so, the third photo may be a green anole who is brown to match the ladder that he/she chose to sunbathe on, I will have to wait and see what the lizard expert says about that one if he calls me back. Please feel free to let me know if you are also a lizard whisperer who can identify the patio residents correctly.

 Mystery anole

Watching the antics of these three today on the back patio was very calming for some reason. The renewal of the cycle and all that, it’s nice to see the circle continuing for yet another year. To me, silly human that I am, they seem friendly, but it appears that there is a fierce battle for territory taking place for control of the lizard realm of Cowan.  It will be interesting to see who wins the battle. I will keep watch and chronicle the realm history this summer as I apparently have way too much Thyme on my hands at the moment.

Speaking of Thyme, mine is exploding with tiny flowers, I hear that this is good for the bees and butterflies, but have only seen wasps so far, but the year is young, and we only get more heat from here on out. My Mexican Heather was hit very hard by the freeze, so I may have to re-plant them, they are gold to the local bees, so I don’t want to leave them hanging.  I have hopes that the hyssop will survive to flower later in the summer and will pick up where the thyme leaves off.  Again, will keep you posted. (Please pardon the puns, I couldn’t resist.)

I also added some Marigolds and Geraniums to the container garden on the patio.  Both are supposed to help turn away unwanted herb stealing insects.  We shall see.  Right now, these beauties are guarding the green beans and sweet peas.  Even if they don’t work, they are still gorgeous. 

So, for now, this will be my start for Spring, in the coming weeks I hope to be traveling around the parks in the local area to see what else is starting to bloom.  Happy Ostara or Easter whichever you celebrate, and thanks for checking this out.