On our little trip to Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill Country, we took a road trip to Bandera which is the Cowboy Capital of Texas. Teddy had been longing to buy some arrowheads that he had spotted at the huge Antique mart a few years back. It’s possible that they were the same ones but arrowheads are plentiful in this part of Texas. As we were browsing, I spotted the mart cat and just had to pick him up for a close cuddle. He was a snuggly, if heavy, brown tabby cat who purred even when I handed him to Teddy. His cuddles lightened our hearts somewhat. The staff told me they would sell him for $99.99… I might have bought him if they weren’t joking about their much loved mouser.
We had lunch at the down home restaurant, filled with locals before we took the back road to Medina, on our return to Fredericksburg. We spotted this old girl on our way back to the car – I want one just like that…
Medina is a small village, famous for apple orchards. I was desperate for a good coffee and to my astonishment, I found the best latte west of Austin. Core Coffee shop was so unique. It was run as part of an evangelical mission and the coffee was from Honduras. Every single item in the restaurant had a religious theme – from the crosses on the wall and mugs to the bible on the coffee table. There were even scriptures in the immaculately clean ladies bathroom.
It was a huge improvement on the generic Starbucks and the staff were charming and friendly. It was not a rich community but it looked like a lovely place to live. The light was so bright that I struggled to get a decent shot of the main street so I sepia-ed the second shot. It could be from the 1950’s.
Texas Landman business in Medina. The building is made of local limestone.
Medina Main Street
Always save the tree!
I am a map reader and find it impossible to follow a GPS instruction so I noted that the road from Bandera to Medina, then Kerrville, looked remote and interesting. As we were driving away from Medina, I spotted what looked like a deer fence around a ranch. Then I saw a striped animal – it was a Zebra in the middle of Texas! Then I realized it was an exotic animal fence but why just one Zebra? He looked so lonely – maybe there were other friends beyond my view. Then we started to climb dramatically. There were switchbacks and very steep gradients with road strips that warned me I was going too fast at 30 mph – that ain’t happened before! It was too dangerous to really look at the view or stop for many miles.
Finally, I found somewhere to stop and take in the view. No tourists – just trees and hills. A little piece of heaven. Well it might have been Heaven if my passenger had stopped cringing every time I turned a precarious corner – “Watch the edge!” is still ringing in my ears. 😀
Technically, we live in the sub-tropics in the Piney Wood ecosystem, Texas. I think I prefer Almost Tropical and to illustrate – we go from Hot as Hades to Freeze your Ass off. Yesterday a cold front came in and unusually we have some autumnal foliage. Most years a hurricane or storm system blows off the leaves before they can change color.
This is my walking path just at the end of my ‘hood’. It is so lovely at this time of year with less sunscreen/warm sweaters needed. You can always tell the recent snowbirds. They wear shorts all year round and look at my layered sweaters with disbelief. Having to communicate or at least wave to everyone on the walking path also causes them some consternation. Bless their hearts…
Usually this display of copper and gold would warm my heart but the Grinch has stolen it. My depression has been getting better but the time change has messed with my brain. For the last few months the driving in our town had improved after an obvious police/trooper/constable presence. Even my ice cold heart was warmed by seeing jackasses in trucks/Mercedes getting tickets or at least a scolding. On Wednesday I had to return to my trusty physiotherapist because my right arm is sore and numb. In route back home, I encountered a weaver in a truck. Three lanes of traffic, going about 50 mph, and yet he felt he could get three cars ahead by weaving in and out of traffic dangerously. He swerved right in front of me and something broke in my brain. To preface this, honking your horn is almost unheard of down here. I put my hand on the horn and left it there. All the lanes seemed to back away from me and I was left in a solitary bubble of road rage. The next day the police were back and schadenfreude overtook me as I watched car after car getting booked.
Now I am less sore and grumpy, the Grinch has retreated and I am enjoying the autumnal leaves once more. I even went to the mall to get my Nordstom’s coffee and enjoyed the repartee with the Israeli soap sellers. Sometimes it drives me crazy and I feel like I have never left the souk. Can someone tell me how to say, “Stop bothering me” in Hebrew? Nothing too rude…their employers probably make them use persistent sale tactics.
Northerners laugh at us when we complain about almost freezing temperatures but we are acclimated to a long summer of hot and steamy. It is usually in the high 90’s but the humidity shoots up the heat index. When the first cold front arrived the temperature shot down by about 50 degrees. Today it is bloody freezing and the heating isn’t working – eek! I phoned our contractor in a panic and they are coming out in an hour even though it is Saturday. My neurological issues and low blood pressure makes me feel really unwell when I am cold. The gas fire is on and the space heater, too.
The other week I spotted something strange and big in the garden. I racked my brain until I realized it was an old Great Horned Owl nest which had collapsed – it was about 3 feet across. They usually steal someone’s else’s but it was huge and very nicely lined with a plastic grocery bag and pine needles. Everyone is recycling these days. 🦉
The lumberjack fairy
This is a lumberjack fairy in a fantastic tree root of a live oak in Blakeley, Alabama. Perhaps this fairy retreat provoked my recent addiction to fairy stories? Blakeley is located to the east of Mobile, Alabama and back in the day it had the best deep water access for the many ships coming to Alabama. It is now a historic state park and a ghost town. Both Mobile and Blakeley are in swampy delta areas – five rivers connect at the estuary. Yellow Fever was common in this area in the 1800s and when it first decimated the population at Blakeley, the remaining residents decided to move to Mobile or other areas. Unfortunately, there was yellow fever there too and there is a very sad cemetery in Mobile with tiny little graves. The survivors made it through and we have eradicated yellow fever in America although it is common in other tropical areas. It is a virus spread by mosquitoes. Next time you worry about a snake or a cougar, just think how many deaths the mosquito is responsible for.
No fairies but now you know a full grown lumberjack fairy can fit inside it
Where there is death there is life
Elder live oak
What a magnificent old gentleman, his branches graying with Spanish Moss. Live Oaks live for hundreds of years which worries me because we have one in our front garden that has grown from a 3 ft sapling to 50 ft in 14 years. Despite that, I love her and stroke her bark when I pass her. It gives me such pleasure to see the acorns in the leaf litter feeding all the critters. Click here for a fascinating story about her – One Sleep until Halloween
Doesn’t this gorgeous blue conifer look furry and wintery? Blue conifers do not seem to grow in the swampy south and I just love seeing them in the northern climes. It was really very hot, mid 90s, and yet the conifer was in full bloom. This post is really just a collection of photographs but the last few weeks have made me wonder why Salt Lake City didn’t flick my switch. Every destination is a prospective new home in my head so I am picky about the pluses and minuses.
I mentioned in previous posts about Salt Lake City that I was concerned about the number of homeless people, many of whom were mentally ill. I could see that there were two issues; Mormons are very generous to those in need and life, perhaps, must be extra difficult if you are mentally ill or alcoholic in a strictly religious environment. When I spoke to people about the problem, they said that many of them were incomers and I quite believe that. It is a safe city so those most vulnerable may feel safer and there is a homeless shelter. There were signs all over the center saying, “Don’t give the homeless money, you know where it goes” or words to that effect. I usually concur with that but on two occasions people asked me to pay for a meal for them.
Finally, I decided to do something about one young man who really concerned me. I had noticed him at 8 am on the main drag, muttering to his self and likely hearing voices. The whole day was roasting hot and I saw him again at 5 pm in the same place. He seemed agitated and I thought my accent (and general eccentricity) might frighten him. I assumed that the locals were generous with cold drinks and food but he was so ill, he should have been in a hospital. When I got back to my hotel there was a police cruiser with a perfectly blond, clean cut young officer in it. I motioned to him to lower the window and immediately his face looked concerned.
In short, I told him the whole saga; he listened carefully and told me that there was a homeless shelter quite close. I explained that community mental health had been my field of work and that this young man was really ill. To his credit and my relief, he said he would go and check on him. I know he thought I was a crazy lady but maybe I opened his eyes to a problem that goes beyond people who live on the open road.
Blossoms at the Temple Complex
There is really no criticism of the people of Utah – they are generous and friendly (if a bit odd) but if I lived there I would spend all my time helping waifs and strays. We have so many people in Houston in the same position and they usually beg under bridges. I try to keep some gift cards for fast food places – although they are not always received with gratitude! One lady was about to argue that she would prefer money until she saw my face…
Multi-colored blossoms in park
This is a view from our favorite forest and lake close to our home in Texas. It was a beautiful day today, sunny but with a little chill in the air. We rarely get the fall foliage that is common to the north of us but sometimes Mother Nature gives us just enough rain, not too much sun and a gentle autumn to turn the leaves into gold, red and copper. If we are unlucky enough to get a hurricane it blows all the leaves off before they get a chance to develop autumnal tones. A quiet walk through this forest on Thanksgiving morning with the possibility of seeing an alligator or a giant Woodpecker gives us so much reason to be thankful. Click on the red link to see more fall photos. THANKSGIVING