Wanderlust appears occasionally but with bees, chickens, and dogs, it takes some organization to plan even a short time away from home. The bees don’t require much work this time of year, time is spent building frames, boxes and planning for splits and honey collection. The chickens have gotten rather spoiled; they expect to be let out of the coop early in the morning, forage about in the yard for yummy grubs and bits of grass they convert into eggs—-dozens of them! And the dogs expect trips to the dog park rain or shine and disapprove of rainy cold nasty weather—if they had lower lips to stick out they would—and they eye us with disdain whenever the weather is not to their liking.
However, we got ourselves organized and took off for Goose Island State Park just a bit north of Corpus Christi. It was an easy drive and we arrived at our Air BnB around 2 in the afternoon.
Rockport was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and recovery has been slow. Congress has been busy with other things. Some houses are without windows; plumbing problems seemed to abound, and only a few restaurants were open; one of them opening the last night of our stay.
Whooping cranes were once on the endangered species list–probably still are. They migrate annually from North Dakota, Wisconsin and such to areas along the Gulf Coast including Goose Creek Island State Park and the wild life refuge. I was surprised and pleased to see and hear whoopers upon our arrival.
The people across the little salt water marsh had a deer feeder; three or four whooping cranes and sandhill cranes gathered around it every morning and late afternoon. I could hear the whoopers flying overhead—what a noisy bunch they are.
This week’s photo assignment was ‘mirror’. I knew immediately what image I wanted to capture—but it depended upon the electrician’s work schedule.
Our house is over a hundred years old and has original flooring and light fixtures. We’ve replaced a few things along the way; updating some of the wiring, replacing broken plumbing pipes, installing mini splits for climate control (a vast improvement over open windows and ceiling fans in the summer and huddling around the gas fireplace in the winter.
But then there were the light fixtures. In some decorating whim of the seventies (I think), we had shag carpet on the stairwell (removed within a month of our moving in) and painted light fixtures. There were some other oddities—the water heater in the corner of the kitchen and the boarded up kitchen windows, the double sink double drainboard cast iron occupying nearly eight feet on one wall and burst plumbing pipes.
One night while I was waiting for my back pain to ease, I entertained myself by just looking at stuff on the internet. I discovered a place in nearby Houston that would refurbish and rewire old light fixtures.
I took them a set of sconces and a rather plaint chandelier that had been in the breakfast room. When they were finished, they replaced a set of existing sconces and I decided to take the dining room and living room chandeliers in for refurbishing.
It takes some time for all of that to happen; we had a single light bulb in both rooms—mood lighting—romantic in a way but really tough to see the clues in the crossword puzzle each morning.
The chandeliers have now been successfully rehung—the rooms are bright and cheery and I just had to brag on how pretty they are.
Here I am trying to get the perfect shot:
Just to keep my humble, I took a photo through the mirror of a dresser (grandfather’s) looking at another mirror which served as a hat repository–and a place to check self before exiting (grandmother’s).
New Year Resolutions abound at this time of year—and a lot of them already broken. Some use a word or phrase to shape their year; I tend to do both. I tend to lean toward the list method. And ruefully the same things appear on the list each year—things like–recover the couch—–fix dining room ceiling…clean up yard….
Some of the tasks are never-ending—how can you ever stay caught up on laundry or cleaning the bathroom?
But then there is the Wisconin motto—Onward…
I think it is a great motto—looking forward, building on the past and still moving—not standing motionless paralyzed by regret or anger but going forward.
I’ve been part of a weekly photo challenge for several years. Some of the participants are expert at filters and composites and other fancy things in photoshop; others seem to live in particularly gorgeous areas with abundance of great photo ops; those are not in my skill set. One year I did try to do some fancy stuff and spent a great deal of time on it; I was rewarded by someone commenting I should have taken the time to find a better photo site…it was really hard not to look at that person’s submission with a highly critical and negative view. But I cheated myself out of not participating for the remainder of the year.
So this year—-it is Onward! and here is my photo:
This is a view of Amistad Resevoir just north of Del Rio Texas. Several rivers contribute to the Reservoir but the best known is the Rio Grande. This area is part of the Chihuahuan desert and features some of the typical vegetation but more abundantly due to the reservoir and the amount of water available. Some years the reservoir is quite low but this time it is quite high; fishing is a popular activity.
Weather in this part of Texas can be and usually is hot and steamy. Sometimes we get a front from the north along with the lovely fragrance of the paper mills. But this past weekend was perfect–temps in low 80’s, low humidity and just a bit of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. It was a perfect weekend to be outdoors.
After the dogs had their twice daily trip to the dog park to check out all the other dogs and owners, chase frisbees, tennis balls, and bark at random bicyclists and skateboarders and other disliked dogs, we (sans dogs—they are not good travelers–Toby prefers to drive and Dora needs to alert us to all persons or creatures within her eyesight–and she has excellent eyesight) spent some time at Tyrell Park on the south side of Beaumont.
We were surprised we had the place mostly to ourselves but enjoyed walking around the ponds. This is the tertiary treatment area for our sewer system; and is filled with water birds, alligators(ddidn’t see any), turtles (we saw two) and frogs (heard them but didn’t see them). Two nice young men were walking their three dogs and I tried to get their portraits (the dogs–not the young men–although they were nice looking but thought husband might have been a tad offended—or maybe not–I took photos of him)
Flowers were blooming in the garden part of the park, but my goal for the day was to capture some great goldenrod photos for an art project I have in mind. It is still in the thinking stage but the photos will wait patiently for me on my smugmug site for the next phase.
You can take a look at the photos here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/A-day-at-Tyrell-Park-October-2019/i-ZLWdsQb/A
This week’s photo assignment was ‘crooked’.
This was taken in a smithy in Gladys City, a reproduction of buildings from the days of the Spindletop Gusher–the first in Texas. I spent a lot of time in the smithy–my dad did a lot of work in his workshop–welding, grinding-sharpening blades on hoes and mowers and occasionally knives, and in later years making reproduction engines.
We had an anvil in the basement, he used to crack black walnuts on it–so did we. He would pick out the nutmeats while watching television at night.
This anvil was held down by those crooked nails at each foot.
One of my brothers, destined to become a fine carpenter, bent a lot of nails–and put a few knobs on his head wielding a hammer far too heavy for his four year old hands.
I remember pounding nails into a nice five gallon bucket of paint–they made such a lovely plunk sound when they hit the paint….I think we put in about five nails in the lid before being discovered.
And then my grandfather kept a bucket full of bent nails–meant to be straightened and re-used…one of my cousins took those home with him, used them all, and hoped to find another bucket full.
Our driveway had puddles; the skies had puffy white clouds floating across the bay, and there was a gentle breeze. Our drive through the marshes of southeast Texas was pleasant enough in itself but we hoped we would not be too late for the MeadFest.
A versatile musician was singing and playing a sax–a variety of songs appealing to those of us who remembered when we bought the vinyl records; vendors were offering samples of their mead, one offered beautiful wooden mugs, and then there was the winery offerings.
I attempted to take photos of the bees harvesting nectar from the bottle brush shrubs–wildly waving blooms despite a helping steadying hand from husband.
And then there was the dog.
Glen nearly always has dog biscuits in his pants pockets.
This dog was not quite so sure about this.
Tyrell Park is on the south side of Beaumont and has the typical features of a park; picnic tables, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, and plenty of green grass and trees. There is also a golf course, greenhouses, formal gardens suitable for special occasion photographs such as graduations, quincinaras, engagements, weddings, and a riding stable.
But the best part–for me–is the Cat Tail Marsh.
It is huge and I’ve never walked all the way around it.
And every time I go, I take a gazillion photos of the birds.
Most of them catch the bird in not so elegant poses–sort of like taking a family portrait at the dinner table–forks looking like they are stuck on someone’s nose, mouths open, hands reaching, and so forth. But with people, you can ask them to stop and say ‘cheese’ but birds aren’t interested in their image recorded for posterity or looking their best with their hair combed and without spinach in their teeth.
So I toss a lot of photographs.
And then sometimes I catch one that reminds me of home.
Gray skies did not look promising for bird watching or photography. But we headed out to Tyrell Park armed with a box of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. We each enjoyed a cup of coffee while chatting with the Visitor’s Bureau representative; and picked up a map of local bird preserves.
We could hear birds as they floated about searching for their breakfast. I thought we heard alligators but Husband Glen decided it was a bull frog.
Walking along the levees, dodging a few potholes, noting the primroses in bloom, and thinking about where we could put a few beehives. There are plans for a garden for pollinators in the future.
A few sprinkles fell on us as we got back into my truck—a good way to begin a day–good coffee, conversation, donuts, and a walk. And seeing a Great Blue Heron–reminding us both of our days in Potosi Wisconsin.
The south side of Beaumont features a tertiary water treatment area maintained as a wildlife/bird refuge called CatTail Marsh. It is 950 acres of water and marsh and reeds and alligators and frogs and birds. And now there is a lovely overlook with Seaport Coffee offered on Tuesday mornings.
We drove out expecting to see some of the 40 people who had expressed interest–but met only about four or five. Glen helped put together a coffee stand for the station; and we watched cement parking lot stations being fastened in the parking lot. It was cloudy and promised rain; not a lot of birds were out.
I did capture the red-winged blackbird—a reminder of my home in southwestern Wisconsin.
We picked up a brochure and map labeling all the birding sites in the area—a new project for us–that sounds like fun–if only the dogs would behave for such a project.
And then we were gifted with a plushie Northern flicker and a bluebird–each with their song playing when pressing a button on their back. AND learned of an education program featuring looking at the birds to earn a plushie. We are a tad too old to participate but hopefully this will be a fun grandchild thing.
One of the most challenging things about art is taking its formal portrait.
I’ve tried enlisting local photographers leaving them with explicit instructions only to have images returned with clothespins fastening the piece on a wire–a sleeve was attached to the top; pieces shot at an angle; no detail shots.
That being a failure, I tried pinning the piece to my design boards–covered with gray felt. Then there was the problem of distance from the piece.
I tried hanging the piece on my front porch from hooks and a wire strung through the sleeve. Although I started with not a wisp of wind setting things up; by the time I was ready to push the button on the camera; gale force winds ruffled the edges of the piece.
My next effort including buying two sets of stands and a black photographic drape. This works well except on dark rainy days; additional lighting casts awkward shadows. And I was still limited by size.
And so, this is my next iteration for larger pieces. I hung two sets of brackets on the side of the shed; hung a drape leftover from a quilt show; set up the tripod–remembering the clamp for the camera.
Success for the smaller piece.
Excited by my success, I hung up the next piece. It was too long!
Up on the ladder I went, and moved the closet poles up next to each other.
However, I have a still larger one to photo today. I will be moving those brackets up about six inches.
Thanks to the Pixeladies, I know enough photoshop to crop and re-color, rotate, and resize the images.