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Posts from the ‘Travel & Places I’ve been’ Category

Don’t Feed the Ducks

Last weekend we spent several days in Houston. I had two doctor appointments—clinics were kind enough to schedule on same day and with enough time between so as to make just ONE trip rather than two. Then Glen was lucky enough to get his Pulmonary Function test done while I was at my appointments. Finally I had a CT scan that the imaging department moved up so we had an afternoon free.

I like to park at Herman Park Zoo parking lot and walk through Herman Park to get to appointments at the medical center. It is a relaxing walk through trees and I can see turtles and various sorts of water fowl ranging from swans to assorted ducks not native to the area.

Unfortunately that part of the park is blocked due to construction of some sort–a new water garden and probably a parking garage.

But we had a picnic lunch and sat at a table under some live oak trees.

It wasn’t long before a young squirrel approached us. Glen tossed chex mix piece by piece. it was very shy and would quickly grab a piece and run back to safety. Ten minutes passed by before that squirrel was joined by others–at last count there were five. And then a grackle appeared also interested in a snack.

While I am not fond of squirrels near my house—they chew electric wires and torment the dogs, these are in a public park far away from electrical wires.

And they were definitely not ducks.

Here are a few photos from the day;

Just one grackle.

Just some pretty flowers

Wisconsin summers are always abundant with flowers and things that grow magically overnight—including the weeds.

Here is the corner of my friend’s house.

that tall green thing behind the purple flowers was a tree sapling—and I nipped it off with some big clippers.

These flowers had a delicate scent–a few bees buzzing around.

Take a few moments to just enjoy.

Pickles and Paper Wasps

In our very early married years, we did not have a lot of money–in fact we had almost none. Someone gave us a book by Euel Gibbons featuring things to do with foraging for food on the roadsides instead of grocery stores or dumpsters.

One delicious adventure was to try lightly steamed day lily buds as a vegetable—they were abundant along roadsides, and then to try pickling them.

Day-lilies of this variety are not in southeast Texas and our previous trips had not coincided with blooms.

This year I was determined to make some—if buds were to be had.

And in case you don’t remember–here are the flowers…..

I made seven jars of these putting fresh dill in each jar. The pickling process is simple…pour a mixture of hot vinegar, salt and some water over buds placed in jars, add the dill, and cap.

However, one morning when I went out the screen door, I was stung by a wasp. It had been caught between the screen door and the regular door earlier in the night and showed its displeasure at its captivity by stinging me on the wrist. I’ll spare you the view of my swollen hand, wrist and forearm—I did have to take Benadryl, Tylenonl, and a Prednisone. But I”m sure you want to see that nest.

It was about five or six inches across–I had sprayed it with hornet spray during early morning hours to ensure they were all ‘home’ for the occasion.

Now to wait for the pickling process on those pickles to be complete and enjoy with broiled or baked fish.

Cornfields and Chicory

Tradition and farmer’s wisdom or perhaps optimism always noted that corn must be knee-high by the Fourth of July for a successful crop. My Dad always made a habit of walking out to one of his fields and measuring the corn. I always wondered whose knees were the appropriate measure–mine–being not as tall as his Six foot something frame?

For years after buying that farm to support my parents in their senior years, I have returned to Wisconsin for the Fourth of July—the parade, the brats made by my second cousin–or maybe a more distant relationship–but still one of the many in the county….and for a photo of myself standing in the cornfield. Rarely has it ever been lesss than shoulder high and sometimes I must put my hand up to be seen over the top of the tassels.

I missed this year due to some health issue scheduling canceled at the last minute—but I managed a trip in the last part of July and took a few photos.

Here is a storm coming our way with high winds and lots of rain—lots here being about two inches…not the six inches I am accustomed to in southeast Texas.

And there was the chicory in full bloom.

Chicory is a fascinating plant. The blooms are a lovely blue but fold up at night and if you dare pick some for a bouquet immediately close up. I always wondered what part of them was used for coffee but was never quite impelled to dig up the roots and try—chicory blended coffee comes in cans on the grocery shelves here in this part of Texas.

And because I know you want a closer look at those pretty blue flowers…..

Mississippi Meandering

A trip to Wisconsin always includes a view of the Mississippi.

My farm is not far from Prairie du Chien….although we shortened it to Praiire. There are other Prairie du somethings in Wisconsin reflecting the French fur trader influence of the late 1700s and early 1800s.

There are two channels and further south in Potosi it is a mile wide. Flooding is an annual springtime event with businesses on Main Street preparing with sand-bags.

I spent a morning walking around the gardens on St. Feriole Island. There was a light rain and I had it to myself.

Wisconsin has an abundant summer…flowers flourish—but then the winters are long and dreary with a muddy spring accompanied by floods.

East channel with a huge ditch between me and that railroad track and then a large bank down to the river

I stopped near Lynxville to try my hand at some water color painting. I use a water-brush and was able to use water from a nearby puddle for my work.

A large information sign described the logging/rafting occurring on the river–with the largest raft in 1896 that was 270 feet wide and 1550 feet long. The last lumber raft was in 1915.

It was a welcome break from cleaning and weeding at the farm.

Hummingbirds and Hollyhocks

Earlier this month I spent ten days in southwestern Wisconsin. The weather was quite lovely–a bit chilly for this now Texas gal–in the low 80’s….they were complaining it was hot and I was thinking a jacket might be nice.

My good friend has hummingbird feeders outside her house up on a ridge in the Driftless Region. She fills those feeders twice a day during busiest season. Her cat and dog watch the show from inside the house, a window, couch, and pillows conveniently placed for their viewing pleasure.

I stood outside watching….and watching….and taking photos….and trying to get a good video. Those feeders resemble O’Hare airport with all the available sites occupied and others hovering waiting eagerly for their slot.

Here are a few of the photos. there is a video editing program on Windows 10 which I may give a try—note to self–take out tripod and focus on area FIRST, then press the button to record.

Another year…as it is time for them to head south and I am back in Texas listening to rain.

Lone Star Flight Museum

What a fantastic display of airplanes!

The last time I had been to the flight museum had been many years ago—a large hanger in Galveston with planes partially dismantled, the smell of oil, tool boxes and wrenches on the floors. Hurricane Ike destroyed that facility. Seven long years passed before this new facility was built—with two runways to accommodate the planes.

Two large hangers display planes. the planes so polished and in pristine condition–it is like visiting a classic car display. There are engines and docents to talk about some of the planes. Only three of the planes in the museum are no longer allowed to fly. Rides in four different planes are available along with two squished penny kiosks.

A gallery of Texas aviators is in the middle of a graphic history of aviation beginning with the Wright brothers.

Then there was the hang glider simulators and the flight simulators—I crashed into Alcatraz and ended up flying upside down. I should probably leave flying to professional pilots!

Paper airplane directions, experiments with air flow and heat, study guides for three grade levels from first to eight grade rounded out the museum.

We didn’t stop at the small coffee shop or visit the gift shop…we were sure our two dogs would be waiting eagerly for our return.

nose art

view of one of the hangers

it was a pleasant way to spend a day.

Big Bend in Double Coptic Binding

I now have a small stack of blank books filled with mostly nice paper—and they are all of them blank. I’ve worked on understanding the various structures, the mechanics of constructing a book, paper grain, paper weights and a whole host of new vocabulary and techniques.

Using those books has been another matter.

Earlier this year, my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Big Bend. We had been there several times but it had been years since our last trip. I took a pad of very cheap water color paper, a small water color set, some markers and was determined to spend some time drawing and painting.

I did several marker drawings–harder than I thought to see value and convert it into gray tones. After several days i was brave enough to add water color.

I then had a small stack of drawings/paintings. What to do with them? None were good enough to frame but they were a nice memento of the trip. A few postcards were added to the stack.

A map of Big Bend and a brochure from the National Parks were used as the covers and I bound it using a double needle coptic stitch. Unfortunately I had thought myself more expert in book structure than I am and the first attempt was not good. I took it apart and tried again–this time with some light colored book cloth as the spine—the front cover stitches were loose and I didn’t like the color.

So I took it apart again—made more book cloth and tried again.

I’m much happier with this. I will add some written words and perhaps some more water color to some of the drawings.

Turmeric Anyone?

Turmeric or curcurmin is touted as one of those natural occurring substances imbued with certain healing properties. Several years ago while dealing with the effects of Plaquenil, I discovered it seemed to be helpful in alleviating some of my visual changes—but perhaps it was due to time.

However, it is always fun to see exactly WHERE the stuff comes from.

In the McGovern Garden in Houston, I photographed these lovely purple flowers.

Here is a closeup;

While on family reunion last month, my husband became acquainted with a phone app–that identifies flowers from photos—–a fun activity for science/botanical/wildlife interested persons.

This is curcurmin.

And now you know.

Fountains, a Waterfall and Foucault

Museum hopping on a hot summer day….something we would do with our boys…in the spirit of educational experiences….but now without them in tow—as a fun day for ourselves.

It took some doing but we found a parking spot and then walked to the Museum of Natural Science.

Our path led us through the McGovern Garden area—a space we had not ever explored before.

There were fountains.

and lots of chairs

Wide paths around banks of flowers and shrubbery on both sides of the central grassy area—and a waterfall at the distant end.

since we did not have a timetable we decided to explore this. Here was the entrance to the waterfall.

As we walked up we were both thinking===Guggenheim—but this one was cylindrical rather than conical.

Each section is an individual fountain–but constructed so as to look like it is continuous.

We entered the museum just as several tour groups were leaving. Southeast Texas coastline was one of the exhibits—and then there was the Cabinet of Curiosities—a fun exhibit with drawers and drawers of interesting things to look at.

But no trip is complete without the Foucault pendulum.