April 2009 Archives

Happiness is humping a cat bed

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So our puppy has this little quirk... and it's a bedtime ritual, too. Nevermind that the cat bed looks like a giant, fluffy condom. And nevermind that puppy is neutered. Each night before bed, he eagerly gets the cat bed and carries it around and does his thing. Then he rolls on his side and does it some more. He kneads his little paws into it. He makes puppy love to it. And he's happy.

Maybe the cat bed is happy, too.

Happy Earth Day

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Though I've truly been going green for some time now, today being Earth Day made me really want to focus on doing as much as I could. Our family decided to go vegan for a day, and we really enjoyed it. Aside from the horrors of slaughterhouses and living conditions for livestock and poultry, livestock are responsible for a huge percentage of greenhouse-gas emissions, and add to it that the acreage required for livestock has contributed to the mass deforestation of rain forests. So... we went vegan today. I can't say we're ready to not eat meat at all, but I know that we'll have more all veggie days in our future. (To this plan a friend called out, "Plant killer!") I also having been moving toward local and humanely raised meat in the meantime. I'm there in principle, just not yet there in financial commitment. So far we're there in... eggs.

Back to Earth Day. This morning, Nolan was particular wonderful about making sure no unnecessary light was left on, and if natural light sufficed, he wanted everyone to not turn on a light at all. I made sure to not waste any water, and though I had to water my baby plants in my garden, I did so in the early morning hours instead of the heat of the day.

My neighbor Jan and I visited a plant nursery, and I picked out two crossvines, Texas native plants with tubular flowers that provide food for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. They are now happily twining up our cedar posts by our back porch. I think that they will really be spectacular when they take off. I also managed to get more plants planted from my stock of baby plants that have been waiting for me to prepare the next bed. This includes herbs, which means that not only will I have fewer herbs to purchase (ouch, expensive), but I won't be contributing to excess packaging cluttering our landfills.

From the nursery, we headed down to Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) to participate in a lake clean-up with Keep Austin Beautiful and the National Wildlife Federation. We even made it on News 8 Austin -- yep, that was me in pigtails, a garden hat, and gloves pulling trash from among the shore plants. It was fun, and we rewarded ourselves with a bubble drink from Coco's.

Earth Day 2009 Austin 1

  Earth Day 2009 Austin 2Earth Day 2009I would have been happy to have been able to ride my bike or a bus to where I needed to go today, but we did have to travel across town. At least Jan and I went in the hybrid!

Back at home, we made progress on the pond, too. We've had to hire some men to help us dig our trench, as Michael's knee has been really bad with all digging through rock, and today the trench was completed. So Michael's now working on the next step for the pond. The men also dug out big roots from our tree stump, and so this evening we were able to rip the stump out of the ground via our mini-van and a long rope. It turns out the old hackberry has become a haven for all sorts of bugs, including this strange, large creature:


Strange bug in tree stumpBefore anyone says that we should have left the stump as a home for creatures this Earth Day, I want to point out that we plan to move the stump to our bird habitat in the backyard (or at least the stump in parts for easier moving). Also, I already have a tree to plant in its place (one that also provides berries for the birdies).

The rest of the day was spent getting plants planted. The only thing that I didn't get to do was order my composter, but that was due to money. I hope to get it soon. We have to get a tumbler-kind because there's no way we'd be able to keep the dogs out of any homemade composter. They at least help us mulch by chewing up any stick or root lying around the yard.

Busy April

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The hailstorm came and went, and we now have a new roof. Our shade sails are up, and we've made progress on the pond. I'll post pictures as a set soon so you can see a start to finish. We'll finish the pond next, and then we'll focus on painting the exterior. I've chosen the colors and a low-VOC paint (keeping with our Green plan). I can't wait to drive home to what will feel like a whole new house. And we finally have our car back, after $9,000 in repairs from hail damage.

This past weekend we had several friends come into town, so we had lots of good food, good times, and good memories. And as is typical of Texas, we got both rained on and sunburned in one visit. We ate like pigs for days (and I even made margaritas and pies for our Friday gathering), toured the city, visited Pedernales Falls, played poker, and when we had nothing else to do, we ate like pigs again.

Eating at Matt's El Rancho

With all the rain this past week, Pedernales Falls was much higher than usual, so it was a particular lovely visit. Even some of our Austinites had never been, so it was a great side trip to take. Aside from the wonderful flow of water, we saw plenty of wildlife, including several lizards, a little frog, a snake, and many wildflowers and native plants. Nolan found a sun-bleached bone for Grover, and he carried it around for a long time. 

Logan at Pedernales

Pedernales Falls, April 2009


On a peninsula Michael and friends


At the overlook


GroverLittle Grover hurt himself twice this past week -- a long gash on a rear paw and tearing off a nail on a front paw -- so we made two vet visits, poor guy. Today he was quite wary when we returned to remove the staples the vet put in his paw last week, but overall the visit was without incident. Neither wound prevented his having fun at Pedernales Falls, luckily.

Oh how the garden grows

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Spring is here, and we are back in the yard. It took a few days to get all the weeds out of the butterfly garden. I had great fun going shopping for plants, and once again only managed to fill half the garden. Plus I still have many more beds to prepare. So much to do! But all the family has been helping some, even Grover.


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I look forward to all these plants getting big! The butterflies are already fluttering by from time to time. I've found earthworms, snakes, centipedes, and spiders -- such a change from the fall, when we felt like we were working dead, unhealthy soil. The wildlife cometh!

When pigs fly I'll turn 40!

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Flying birthday pigIt's official. I'm old. Can't deny it any longer, though I don't have to act it! My birthday was on March 29, and look at all the people who came to my party! Never mind that it bears remarkable resemblance to the Capital 10k. That's Simone in the stroller -- Jennifer and Stepan's youngest daughter.


Michael made me a birthday cake, FROM SCRATCH. Not only was it his first real baking attempt ever, it was delicious! He decided that turning 40 was worthy of putting all the candles on the cake (noting that it conveniently used 2 boxes of 20 candles), but the first candles had almost completely melted by the time he got the last ones lit. Ah, another indicator of just how up in years I've become.

Birthday cake, 40 candles

The Rihas spend the entire day with us, between the... ahem... birthday run/walk, birthday lunch, birthday dog walk at Walnut Creek, and birthday dinner. It was a very enjoyable day. We all got massages after the 10k, except Michael, who was likely covered in flour while baking my yummy cake. Nolan and Logan both thoroughly enjoyed their massages.

Nolan gets a massage

Puppy got to play in the creek for the first time, and he managed to keep up with all the big dogs. He slept very well that night.  :)



And in honor of my remarkable achievement of hitting the big 40, I decided to buy something for myself. It's a metal sculpture of a bird on 3 flowers, made by local artist Barry George. Here's a close-up -- I'll post full a picture later when I have it in the garden. Happy birdie to me!

Barry George bird


Hail NoooooOOOOooooo

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Weather in Texas saw fit to surprise us with a hail storm on March 25, 2009. We saw the rain come down, then some little hail, and then suddenly the pounding on the roof became deafening as the little hail became gigantic hail. The hailstones were larger than golf balls, and they came down in such quantity that the outside looked like snow had fallen. The damage in the Austin area was bad enough for insurance companies to declare the situation an official catastrophe, and body shops and roofers are going to stay pretty busy for awhile. Our car and property were among the catastrophe casualties.


Hail comparison

Hail, 3-25-09

Front window hail damage

Front windshield hail damage

Pictures really do say a thousand words, sometimes.

Puppy is growing!

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Grover is such a delight -- I suspect that my blog will be loaded with puppy pictures for sometime to come. I did take more pictures of my kids when they were babies, but I think Grover comes in third, lol.

For part of our spring break, the boys and I took a trip east to visit Nana and all our Nacogdoches family. Along the way, we stopped to take the traditional Bluebonnet photos. I always feel a little silly taking pictures along the roadside -- it's not really my style to do photos that everyone else does. But Grover, my boys, and Bluebonnets were all there together. Who could resist? See more trip pics here.


At Davey Crockett National Forest, Grover got to take his first 3-mile hike. For about a mile of that, he carried a pine cone in his mouth, looking like a little walrus. For another mile of that, we got to play "Dodge the poison ivy."

Grover the Walrus Dog


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