Friday, September 30, 2011

Thoughts Become Things

One of the things that appealed to me most when we bought our home was the area of green space behind my home and throughout the neighborhood.

I love the outdoors, plain and simple. I'm simplistic and I like my surroundings simplistic and natural.

Each time I take a nature walk in the greenbelt behind my house I think about making an actual walking path throughout.

Well, once again it has been proven to me that thoughts do become things.

While out walking the dog the other evening I noticed a freshly grated dirt path leading into the woods. Curious, I took the path to see what was going on and where it went.

At this point, I'm not really sure what the actual reason for the path being made behind my house is, but for now it's my new walking/running path through the great outdoors.

Here is a glimpse of my stroll the other evening...

This is the area directly behind my house.

Times Have Changed

Some of the things I remember most fondly about my childhood days were the times me and my brother spent outdoors hunting toads, turtles, insects, lizards, green snakes and lightening bugs....and avoiding snakes.

Some of the things that stick out most in my mind are when my brother found an Anole egg in the grass on the edge of the house and it miraculously hatched in his palm when he picked it up...I wonder if he remembers that...???

We also found some turtle eggs under the trash burning pile ashes once. We have caught many box turtles in our young life....

There were always green snakes slithering around in the bushes around our house that my brother had no problem reaching out and grabbing for us to investigate....I haven't seen a green snake in many years. I wonder if they even exist anymore.

And toads! We used to get a foam ice chest and in a matter of minutes have at least 15 toads captured. Toads were always my favorite. I don't see many of them anymore either...

Lightening bugs (fireflys) were always the most fun to catch. There used to be so many up in the trees in the backyard that it looked like Christmas lights....again, I have not even seen a lightening bug in many years...

Where are all the creatures great and small?????

I remember spending a lot of time outdoors when I was a kid. Mom used to send us out the door, tell us to play outside for a while and lock the door behind us to ensure we wouldn't be coming in and out. If we needed something to drink the water hose was a sufficient water source.

Nowadays this sort of "child endangerment" could get you arrested...times surely have changed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A "Dillo" Kind of Night

As much as I love my adopted bulldog he has a rather..put nicely, extremely high prey drive. Certainly it comes instinctively and at one point in evolutionary history it most definitely would have served him well.

I'm not so bothered when he's jumping 3ft into the air in hopes of snagging a dragon fly or policing the yard for scorpions, spiders, beetles, or small flying insects, but when the prey happens to be neighborhood cats or innocent wildlife that mistakenly venture into the yard in search of food and water of their own it can be a gruesome experience for us more evolved "animals".

Humans have a tendency to "humanize" their pets partially because we feed and care for them so we don't usually see them react on their natural instincts. They don't see the cute little cottontail rabbit in the yard and think.."Oh, how cute" they see it as invasion upon their territory and will protect and serve their pack to the fullest extent.

Even though Bo can now sit, stay, and walk beside us properly we have not managed to nix that strong prey drive of his. An analogy would be akin to trying to train a man not to get an erection when he sees a naked woman..or a man.. which ever one appeals most to him...understand now?

On with the story.

The other night Summer and I were outside doing some treat training with Bo. It was dark and that drought has gone on so long that the greenbelt animals are bravely venturing into our backyard in search of water and food.

So, as we were training Bo, Summer said.."I hear something out there.". I looked out into the darkness and saw something lurking around myself. I'm certainly not a fearful type when it comes to wildlife but not having much experience with skunks makes me a little leery about getting too close to one.

About the time we saw the movement again so did Bo. That's when the trouble began. The armadillo that I had cursed many mornings for digging up my flower bed was making his nightly food quest.

Before I could shoo the thing off Bo took off and immediately pounced on him in full bulldog fashion. After all, how fast can something with heavy, thick armor affixed to his back move???

It was a harrowing experience. Bo was oblivious to my commands and was in full prey mode. The poor armadillo was hissing and trying his best to defend himself against Bo's powerful jaws shaking him back and forth with all his might.

I was desperate for a way to get him to relinquish the poor thing and dragged the hose out...something I know Bo hates. Bo immediately, armadillo in mouth, ran him back to the back of the yard far away from the hose.

Summer must have been on the same thought process as me and had somehow through all the commotion gone inside to retrieve another Bo deterrent...the pop gun. The pop gun was the winner. Once we shot it a couple of times Bo snapped out his kill mode...or maybe because it was because he had already accomplished what he set out to.

It was too late. Poor "Toughie" as Summer so lovingly named him, was laying there in the dead, drought ridden grass with his armor pierced numerous times and a huge hole revealing a portion of his internal organs.

Summer ran and got some old rags and we covered him/her in hopes to make her more comfortable..if only in spirit.

As sad and traumatic as it was, it was an humbling experience. Neither of us had ever seen an armadillo in any fashion other than on his back dead in the middle of a busy highway or in pictures.

We both cried as we watched her labored breathing and struggle for her last chance at escape from dog hell. Summer and I took the opportunity to investigate her armor and skin. She was tough everywhere..even her tiny ears. And she had very small eyes and lots of fur on her stomach....she was beautiful...

She eventually passed on to the destination we go when we leave our physical bodies.

I was so intrigued by the whole experience that I took the time to read up a bit on Armadillos. Aside from being the butt of the Road Kill joke they are very interesting creatures. Take a gander here at some of their unique characteristics.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zedler Mill

While in Sam's recently Summer and I came across a book called "Weird Texas: A Guide to Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets." We were so enthralled with reading the stories in the store that I decided it would be worth the $8 and purchased it.

As with most legends that get passed down through the years, you never know which ones are true or false or that have been generously embellished. Even so, it's always fun to read strange stories about places you have been to or can easily travel to.

One of the legends in the book was about a place that I have on my to see list anyway so Zedler Mill, a grist and sawmill that helped establish the small community of Luling, Texas in 1874 is where we headed for the day. The legend behind Zedler Mill is that a specter that is suspected to be a former watchman of the mill is still hanging around making sure noisy intruders stay away.

Thinking back, the place did have an eerie quietness to it even though it sits right against a noisy highway..

We rambled around for a little while peering into the windows of the old mill and checking out the river that ambles along beside it.

We weren't there long before someone got hurt...Toby. He was leaning down to go under a beam, came up too soon and banged his head on the beam. He immediately groaned in pain grabbed his head and fell to the ground.

I have to admit it was a little scary since I really didn't see what had happened and there was a small pool of blood forming. Luckily I knew from experience that head wounds bleed more than others, but that didn't make me feel much better considering I still didn't know how hard he hit or how big the gash was. I certainly didn't need my husband unconscious on me in a haunted mill.

I knew getting fit would come in handy one of these days. I made a mad running dash to the car to grab the first aid kit Summer had just recently made and put in our car. I don't know what had even possessed her to make up the medical kit but I was certainly glad she had got the urge.

While I had ran to the car Summer had ran to the restroom and grabbed him some wet and dry paper towels. I had to hand it to her she was the one coordinating the whole emergency routine. I would have never remembered about the kit she had placed in the car if she had not reminded me about it and I certainly didn't think about going into the restroom and grabbing paper towels. Just in case you haven't guessed it yet, I don't work well in emergencies.

Even as I am sitting here writing this I'm realizing that through all the commotion of the moment I never even commended Summer on a job well done...

Here is Toby after his conk on the head. I joked with him and told him the specter must not have liked him and lowered the beam on him.

Between the heat, the feral cats hanging around that were sending Bo over the edge, and Toby's bleeding head we didn't stay as long as we probably would have. Even so, it's a well worth while place to visit if you ever are in Luling, Texas.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

San Marcos

Out of all the surrounding areas of Austin that I have visited, the San Marcos/New Braunfels area is my favorite. I love the natural water that comes from the Edwards Aquifer and runs through the area rivers. Spring water is so refreshing, clean and clear. I LOVE the idea of swimming in water that flows willingly from beneath Mother Earth. In my opinion, the springs are the biggest part of the beauty of this area.

Here are some highlights of our last San Marcos River trip of the year. The water is much too icy to swim in unless the temps are in the triple digits and the temps have finally gone back down to the 90's.

Our first stop was the San Marcos Nature Center. There really wasn't much to it visually. I believed it serves more as an educational center than anything.

We were told there was a hiking trail down to the river but it was so hot that we decided to drive down instead.

We ended up getting sidetracked when we passed our favorite swimming spot at Rio Vista Park and decided to take a detour. Something about the sight of the rushing rapids were just too tempting to hubby, the kid and the dog.

After we wore the dog out swimming and let us all get our dose of the rapids, we headed to our original destination the John J. Stokes River City Park. We had never been to this particular park on the river and I was curious to check it out.

It had gotten late in the day and we didn't have too much time to explore it.

I always get ambivalent about the season change this time of year. Even though this has been - and still is - a really tough summer for Central Texas, I love the summer time. At then end of every summer since I have been living in Texas I find myself looking forward to the next Summer even before Autumn begins....

Traveling the Tracks

For the past few days Summer has requested to go walk the railroad tracks. Items that she finds at the edge of the tracks intrigue her...e.g. stray ties, interesting rocks and various pieces of strewed metal from the tracks. Myself? I just love to walk with her and see the fascination she derives in scouring for treasures.

With all the directing, planning, and micromanaging we do for our child's own good I think it's nice to take time out every once and awhile and watch them as they do their own thing...something that fascinates THEM whether we believe it is worthy of recognition or not.

A farm runs alongside a portion of the tracks so Bo and I took off ahead of Sum to check the cows out. Bo has heard the cows moo many times but as far as I know he has never seen any up close. The bull looking into the camera took Bo (or both of us) as a threat and began to charge at us. I don't know who was more "skeerd", me or Bo. I think Bo had met his match...

At the end of our evening walk along the tracks, Summer had walked away with a small collection of metal and I walked away with far more than what I had seeked.