Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pretty mushrooms

They're a mystery...


Salvia 'Otahal'

Blue curls (Phacelia congesta)
Turk's cap 'Pam's Pink'
Native turk's cap

Monday, September 19, 2011

What a little rain can do....

Yes! God blessed us last night with not quite an inch! It was wonderful! We still need more, of course. But every little bit helps. And boy, does nature respond! This afternoon and evening, the green June beetles were buzzing all around. Finally, I caught a couple in action. And I mean ACTION. As soon as the one I'd been tracking landed, he found a female and got right down to business. A few minutes later, they separated. And both of them disappeared beneath the leaves....

Friday, September 16, 2011

An insect to photograph!

Five-spotted hawk moth (Manduca quinquemaculata)
Thank you, Maury Helman, for the I.D. via

Yes, finally, something buggy to photograph! We spotted this sphinx moth on our front screen door this morning, and it was still there this afternoon. Camera time! Alas, I've had little to photograph this summer due to our drought. There have been very few butterflies, too, and experts are worried about monarchs this fall when they migrate through Texas. Our monarch friend, Skip Kiphart in Boerne forwarded this info from Dr. Lincoln Brower with Journey North/Journey South:

"As monarchs migrate through Texas and northern Mexico on their way to the overwintering sites, they spend considerable time building up their fat reserves by drinking the sugar-laden nectar from wildflowers. By the time they reach the Mexico overwintering sites, this sugar is converted to fat and the bodies of the butterflies are practically butterballs. To fuel winter survival and the migration back into the US the following spring, the butterflies gradually draw down these fat reserves. I am extremely concerned that the terrible drought this year in Texas and northern Mexico will have such a negative impact on the wildflowers that the butterflies will have a rough time building up their fat reserves and many more than usual will die of starvation."

We've had gray skies and some raindrops today. But that's been it so far. Still, Thank You, Lord!

A little wet stuff!

We've got dark clouds and cool temps plus a little wet stuff so far this morning. It sprinkled some, then stopped. 

"Well, that was nice!" I quipped to James after I shot a few photos. Then I quickly added, "Now, Lord, I'm laughing WITH You, not AT You!!

Thank you, God, for any and all rain You send to Texas! Amen!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We just can't give up

Last week, after officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the sad announcement that La Nina is returning, James and I made a decision: no more watering our plants. At dinner one evening, we talked about the impact and strain a continued drought will have on our region's water supplies. Especially with reoccurring fire wilds. So we agreed that we had to go even further in our personal water conservation.

It was a tough choice. And it hurt to imagine our beloved mistflowers, salvias, betonies and so many more natives turning brown and dying. But in order to survive this drought, we've all got to make sacrifices.

A day or two later, I proposed that we at least occasionally water a few natives, just to keep them going. Soon they'd be going dormant any way with winter nearing. James agreed.

Yesterday, a proverbial LIGHT BULB went off in my head: use the gray water in our washing machine! In 1999, I did that in my former life at the state park. Back then, the city of Blanco relied solely on the Blanco River for water, and the river was rapidly going away in the midst of a drought. So I hauled and dumped water from our family washing machine to flush upstairs toilets. I felt good about stretching our water. But then I ended up with a sprained or strained shoulder. It hurt a lot! I even ended up getting some physical therapy to deal with the aches.

Eventually, the rains returned, the river filled back up, and the city built a pipeline to Canyon Lake. Despite our guaranteed source of water, I still believe that we must diligently conserve water. So does James. Needless to say, he liked the idea of using our gray water. So far, we've found that one load (no matter the size) produces 10 to 20 gallons of water. Yes, it's a lot of work to dump and pour, and I'm sure there's a more efficient way to do this. But happily, our natives are getting at least some moisture.

Last night, we watched a personal video shot by Bob and Bri of the September 11, 2001, horrors. It's posted on YouTube. I cried some as we watched huge balls of smoke engulfing Manhattan and people fleeing for their lives. "You know, if the people in New York City can survive all they did 10 years ago," I reflected, "then we an survive this drought." James nodded. "Yes, you're right," he said quietly.

This natural disaster is entirely different from 9-11. But the stress and worry about wild fires and potential loss of life doesn't go away. We see nature and wildlife suffer every day. Butterflies, bees and other tiny critters are nearly nonexistent. Every day, we ask God for rain in His Son's name. And we know and believe that He's in control. But when, God? When?

As our dear friend C.A. Rust reminds us, "We're one day closer to rain." In the meantime, we just can't give up.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hummers still around, and a surprise as well

I tried to snag some shots awhile ago, but then everyone disappeared! This morning, I counted five females and three males. We were down to three feeders, but then I rehung one by my office window.

Plus, yesterday evening, we spotted a roadrunner in the lot behind us. "It's going to jump the fence and a drink of water," I predicted. Well, I was halfway right. The roadrunner jumped into our back yard, but it only surveyed the bird baths in passing. Then it made the coolest call....if you listen to the call here, the middle, almost metallic-like "clatter" is what we heard. I didn't run for my camera because I didn't want to startle it. First roadrunner in our Wildscape EVER!

James saw this little gal open her wings, lean her head over and open her mouth wide. I got one photo through the screen (and glass window) before she took off.