Category Archives: Nature

A Cut in Time

2014-07-13 15-51-14.217Hello friends,

Last week the skin doctor separated a suspicious spot from my scalp. It’s at the top of my head. You would have to be taller than me to see it, which means everyone will be able to see it.  I’d rather have a bald spot than a suspicious one.

When she was sewing me up it felt like I was getting a face lift. I was thinking “more, more”. I believe my ears are a little higher. I like.

This coming Friday and Saturday September 19 & 10,  I’ll be at the Kroger on West Gray signing books. Please come by and purchase some cookies or sushi and say hello! You can’t miss me. I’ll be with the wasp!

The next Friday I’ll be at the Kroger on Shepherd and 11th street in the Heights. I love my Kroger visits. I see a lot of people, many of whom are surprised to discover that they want to buy a book with their groceries.

It’s been quite rainy these past few days here in Houston. We had a cold front last weekend. It was so so so wonderful. Normal temperatures here in September are in the 90’s. Last weekend we had 70’s. With this new rain, it’s back to 90. Here’s a tropical picture or two for you. This is a tree in the front yard. It was three feet tall when I planted in this past spring. The first is a shot from the balcony. My camera fogged up as soon as I walked outside.SAM_1205 The second is the flowers it is loaded with. It’s some sort of hummingbird tree. I don’t know the name of it.

SAM_1216When it rains it’s hard on anyone in the house because of the dog. He barks frantically, trying to get out of the house to bite the thunder. Yes, I know, that’s insane and yes, our window coverings behind the couch are in a shambles. Poor puppy. We give him doggie meds before the storm but they hardly slow him down. I think it’s like morphine for people, you still feel the pain but it doesn’t matter. Even in his drug-induced fog he still hears the dread thunder so he goes crazy. And 80 pounds of crazy is a lot of crazy. Here he is in his normal non-rain state – Sleepy lie-ins all day and no drugs.SAM_1054

Travel Diary in Pictures of Florida 2014

My daughter, Amy, took me with her on vacation. I’m so thankful for the experience and for spending such a good time with her and the Grand Girl. We left Houston on August 28 and flew into Fort Lauderdale. From there we rented a car and drove straight down to Key West. Someone told us it was a two lane highway but I didn’t think it would be that bad. It is. The speed limit is 45 MPG as soon as it changes to two lanes as you hit the “straits” and the Everglades area. It was twilight when we arrived.  We ate at a restaurant in an old house, on the top floor balcony overlooking Duval Street. I took this picture because it’s a gigantic Marlin. Hemingway’s house is not far from this spot. IMAG0960   We stayed at the Blue Marlin Inn, an old hotel two blocks from Duval Street and three blocks from The Southern Most Point. It was old but clean and well-kept. The next day we walked here, the southern most point of the USA. It was hot. There were chickens and cats everywhere.    IMAG0963 Then, we walked to the Butterfly Conservatory.  IMAG0965     I believe this place was 10X better than the butterfly museum in Houston. There were hundreds of butterflies and birds and reptiles. IMAG0997 IMAG0982IMAG0986IMAG0984                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I highly recommend visiting here when you go to Key West. Don’t think of Key West as a place to swim. There aren’t any beaches except at the resorts. The island is a big piece of dead coral. No beaches unless they were created for tourists. It’s pretty enough without them, with lovely old Victorian homes everywhere, museums and great restaurants.

Next, we loaded up and drove to Marathon Key. It’s in the middle of the long trip back to Fort Lauderdale. Marathon is one of the larger Keys. We stayed at the White Sands Hotel. It’s an old roadside motel reminiscent of the 1940’s. It was clean and well-kept and steps from the ocean. Here is the view from our hotel room. IMAG1040 How can anyone resist? I spent the better part of the day in that hammock. Here’s what the Grand Girl found. IMAG1015 IMAG1013 It’s a baby horseshoe crab. Dead, but fascinating to this almost 3 year-old. She and her mom did some exploring and climbing. IMAG1022 IMAG1011 While I lay in the hammock. IMAG1037IMAG1026IMAG1035 That evening we found a nice restaurant. A lot of locals were there so we knew we had chosen well. It was lobster season. They have the spiny lobsters here. Amy and I shared a lobster casserole. Yummy! IMAG1041 Then we found a beach to enjoy because the beach you see at the hammock wasn’t a swimming beach. Here is the local state park. You can see the sea grass shedding in this picture. IMAG1046 IMAG1043 The next day we loaded up the car and drove north toward Ft. Lauderdale. But, first we had to have our pictures taken with the giant lobster. IMAG1048 and we stopped and ate breakfast at a diner that served breakfast. IMAG1051 That’s my son’s name. Then we drove on through the “Next 3 miles crocodile crossing” sign areas and the two lane, white-knuckle, 45 MPH road – yes, a lot of it is bridges. At one point the bridge is 7 miles long over ocean. The ocean is gorgeous with azure, turquoise and amethyst colors. The shores weren’t so nice this time of year. This was the sea-grass shedding time of year. The sea grass sheds (looks like St. Augustine clippings) and it stinks like dead fish. But the wind is strong so the smell isn’t overwhelming. We reached the Crown Plaza in Ft. Lauderdale at about 2 PM. Plenty of time to get to the pool. Here is the Grand Girl dressing for the pool the first day. IMAG1053 And here is me at the pool the first day. IMAG1057 She who has the most toys makes new friends fast. IMAG1061 We rode the trolley. IMAG1063 We ate at the hotel restaurant for a lavish breakfast the next day. Then went to the beach which was just across the street. SAM_1167 The water really was too rough to actually enjoy swimming. SAM_1164 SAM_1163 But the sun was warm and the sand soft. IMAG1074 And it’s always nice in the shade of the coconut palms. IMAG1062 But the best part was this pool at the Crown Plaza. IMAG1070 We spent most of our time here and it was wonderful! We had a lovely Cuban meal one night. And had a picnic on the floor in the hotel room one night. Anything goes on vacation! Cora loved the pool, and putting mom’s lipstick on. She calls it lips. One night she was asking for “lips” and I said, not thinking, “we don’t have lips at night.” Okay, I’m probably contributing to nightmares. Sorry. SAM_1170  We ate at this diner too mornings in a row because it was soooo good. My favorite? Corned beef hash and eggs. IMAG1073 Tuesday we checked out of the hotel and went exploring. We visited the Science Museum in Ft. Lauderdale. SAM_1175  SAM_1180Where we got stomped by a mastodon SAM_1186 swallowed by a Megalodon SAM_1183 watched otters play SAM_1178 and, of course, flew a fighter jet. SAM_1187 Then, we went out to eat IMAG1084 and danced. IMAG1085  We walked across the street to the park, which of course was on a canal. SAM_1196 Amy and the Grand Girl put their feet in the fountain. SAM_1192 SAM_1197 And we got caught by a mangrove tree. SAM_1202 We made it to the airport in plenty of time and someone was exhausted. IMAG1088 And I made a new friend who told me she was already hooked in my book. SAM_1203

The End.



Here’s something new on my Pinterest


from Silphidae
from Silphidae

I was challenged at the beginning of opening a Pinterest page to come up with an idea about how to make Pinterest interesting for authors to think of as a marketing tool.

The main goal of Pinterest appears to be sharing photos, recipes, how-to’s, and interests in one place so that friends can view them. I’ve found it fascinating to see what other people know how to do! People create boards about odd things also. I’ve been creating a Pinterest board for my husband, because he is opening up a dental practice in a few months on lower Westheimer, and he needed a board about Dental Health. Let me say here, there is some disgusting things on Pinterest having to do with Dental health. Ach! Ach! I wasn’t wanting to gag …couldn’t help it. You won’t gag if you view Nolen Dental’s Pinterest board

It hit me one day that both of my novels are visual. There are specific places on earth to pinpoint the location of each in a visual way. The Dry is also full of nature, especially insects. Deadly Thyme is set in one of the most visually amazing places on earth, Cornwall, England. How to evoke interest in my novels while serving the general public’s desire to be interested? If I post pictures of the places in my novels on my Pinterest, I may have discovered the one way to do that.

p.s. the photo above is of mole crickets. I used to hold them like that, too. Awesome, weird, creatures.

Here is my Pinterest Board:

The Weather in Houston

The weather in Houston can and usually does change drastically from day-to-day. Today, it was a balmy 65 degrees F. Tomorrow it is supposed to be freezing. This is nothing new for H-town.

We I was a child one thing stands out about the Christmas it was 80 degrees F. It stands out because I remember wanting to stay outside because it was so hot inside. My father insisted on lighting a fire in the fireplace, and keeping it blazing. It was Christmas, he said. He wanted the fire roaring.

Although I was a very small child I remember being so frightened about Hurricane Carla. My mother had just had my baby brother and my father was at work. She made my brother Jon and I come in from playing although the weather outside was great. We didn’t want to come in. But the tone of her voice was enough to bring us running. It wasn’t long before the wind began. What a wind! Over 145 MPH it pushed out trees nearly to the ground. We snuck peeks through the window though my mother had us laying on the flood in the bedroom.

I’ve always wondered about that but now when I think about it, I recall that my mother was from Iowa. They have tornadoes up there! She must have been terrified. There was no place to hide from the hurricane. We don’t have storm cellars in Houston. We had a central bathroom, I suppose we could have clung to the toilet but there were three of us and a tiny baby.

The next day when the storm had passed, we exited the house and it was sunny again. While the grown-ups saw to picking up the pieces (my grandparents home was knocked off its foundation) we went back to our games.

The weather in Houston is interesting. Never boring. Perhaps we should mirror the British and begin with weather conversation as a general rule.  After all, who wants to be boring?

Snakes Alive – In H-Town!

Nope! I’m determined to bring those stats up with one more post for 2012. And I will – by talking about snakes.

Grass snake eggs
Grass snake eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take that WordPress statisticians!

This past summer I was replanting a garden under the old, wax-leaf Ligustrum growing at the curve of our front porch when I first saw the grass snake. It was exciting. I haven’t seen one of these dark bronze-colored grass snakes in years. I suppose living twenty-five miles west, in Sugar Land, next to the creek with all the large or dangerous snakes there just wasn’t much room for these lowly grass snakes native to the Houston area.

As a child I lived in South Houston. It’s a small town just west of Pasadena, TX. We lived on Avenue B. My younger brothers and I spent a lot of time outside. We were always digging. We dug up lead bullets that were white with age – probably from the days of the battle of San Jacinto which wasn’t far from our house as a crow flies, we dug up oyster shells, old rusty knitting needles, pieces of pottery. We had a regular archeological dig going and didn’t know it. I think I spent my childhood mud-encrusted. My brother Jon and I would haul crawdads by the bucketful from the ditch. Used a string and piece of raw bacon to lure them from their holes. Some call them crayfish, crawfish, or mud-bugs. People eat them. We tried to explain that to my mother. She would not touch them.

Spec’s deli has a nice macaroni, cheese and crawfish dish available that is yummy.

In the process of digging and other mud adventures we caught plenty of green anoles (the Texas chameleon lizard) and grass snakes. The dark copper or bronze colored grass snake has a beautiful face, much like you might imagine would be the face of a snake in a children’s book – big round eyes and a bit of a smile. They don’t get any bigger than twelve inches long and not any bigger around than a pencil, head to tail. They never bite. Never. I would say that is almost true of a Texas rat snake but almost is not never. The rat snake tries to avoid contact but will strike out of desperation to get away. Even the green anole lizard bites. They have bony ridges on their jaws that feel like tiny teeth. I don’t like getting bit. The bronze grass snake does not bite. I have never seen pictures of this snake in any encyclopedia, or snake book. The snake has no markings at all, is dark bronze to light copper and has a buff colored belly. Because I can’t find it on the internet, I don’t know its official name – hence bronze grass snake. If anyone has any other ideas please advise.

As close as we are to the big buildings of downtown Houston, I’m sorry to say the air pollution is awful. The small things are usually the first to go with pollution as bad as it is. Our porches are dusty, and can’t be kept clean, because the dust is smog that has stuck. So that is one reason I was so pleased to see the grass snake.

And then the next day I saw the grass snake again. And the next. It lived under the Ligustrum. I reached down and picked it up. Of course it tried to get away but the way to catch a snake is to remain calm and catch it. I showed the snake to my daughter. She wasn’t that impressed but had never seen one before. I didn’t show it to my husband. He hates snakes. Living out by the creek for six years made his dislike of snakes worse. He didn’t need to know there was a snake – no matter how tiny and harmless – living in the front yard.

I let the snake go under its Ligustrum. I never saw it again. It probably lives next door by now. The neighbors don’t care to be picking up snakes.

Snakes Alive Part 2, and My Brother’s Early Embalming Efforts

I’m not a crazed snake handler. I don’t long for a pet snake. I’ve never even rehabilitated a snake. I tried once. I found a snake twisting itself in knots to scale the bird bath, a green grass snake. There was a dry spell at the time so I realized it was trying to reach the water. I picked it up and put it in the water. It seemed to soak it in, lolling in the water, opening its mouth. I then placed it at the edge of the wooded area where it could get under cover and safe from the cats. I walked away but heard a PIFTH and turned up in time to see a hawk scoop the snake up and carry it away. What could I do but let nature take its course?

I learned early to educate myself about things I was afraid of, the things I was constantly coming into contact with – snakes, bugs, arachnids. I grew up in the country with brothers and a lot of snakes, bugs and arachnids.

Many years ago, while traipsing through the woods in Cedar Hill, Texas I came close to stepping upon numerous Copperheads. They were everywhere. It was Springtime when they gather in clusters to mate and when they are especially irritable at being disturbed. More recently a Copperhead brushed against my hand when I was moving a rock in my Sugar Land garden. With I say “brushed” it isn’t with the same as coming into contact with something furry that the word “brushed” implies. Instead, it was more the sensation against the skin of something smooth, dry, and weirdly cold. I stood back and watched it slither out of sight, and caught my breath before slumping to the ground.

I’ve had numerous encounters with rattlesnakes – also in Cedar Hill, Texas. A wild and wooly place, full of dry limestone shelves which make good hiding places for snakes and scorpions and tarantulas. I sighted a three-foot long canebrake rattlesnake while walking along a sandy creek bottom in Brenham, TX. Canebrakes are very aggressive and highly dangerous. This one paid no attention to me at all. It was one of those shuddering moments of full clarity when every nerve feels exposed.

I’ve seen more dead rattlesnakes than live ones. Once my brother, Jon, brought home the stiffening body of a good-sized timber rattler he’d killed at the cow pond behind our house. He arranged its body on a board, super-glued it down and injected it with formaldehyde. (I have no idea where he got the formaldehyde – isn’t that illegal? And hypodermic needles?) And thirty years later, he still has the shriveled thing, coiled in a striking position, mouth open and fangs extended. Did he realize how dangerous those fangs were? Dead snake venom doesn’t lose its lethality.

Not bad for his first attempt. Generally he would skin the snakes he killed and salt the hides, that is he would scrape the hide free of flesh and rub salt into the wet side, over and over until the skin was dry but supple. He still has the six-foot hide from a diamond-back water snake – the thing is as big as a boa constrictor.

Most snake stay clear of humans. Pit vipers can, with sensitive heat seeking “pits” at the front of their head, determine the size of the warm-blooded creature before them. If they aren’t in danger of being stepped on or have not already been stepped on they really would rather not waste their poison on something too big to eat. Snakes get away from any contact with humans as soon as possible.

With one exception.

I save the scariest for last.

Like the diamond-back rattlesnake, the water moccasin or “cotton-mouth” (named for the white mouth-lining that it displays when threatened) grows into a sizable snake. They are both thick bodied snakes, with large fangs and a good quantity of poison. And like the diamond-back rattlesnake, the poison of the cotton-mouth not only kills muscle tissue, it also destroys blood cells and damages nerve cells. These are snakes that can kill humans.

Now, with a rattlesnake you have an early warning system. Their rattle is unlike the sound of the baby’s rattle. It is more like a buzzing not much different – though maybe louder – than the sound of cicadas. But water moccasins do not have an early warning system, unless you count their smell. Because they do smell especially when disturbed. They smell like death.

The water moccasin swims with its head above the water. It moves through the grass and tall weeds the same way. The reason is though a pit viper, they use their sight to much greater advantage than any other snake. In this way they remind me of what I’ve read of the black mambas of Africa.

Another thing different about these vipers is that they eat dead things. Maybe that’s where they get the smell they carry.

It is my experience  water moccasins are scarier than any other snake because they do not run away. Every other snake will disappear, or steer clear of humans. No so the water moccasin. They not only do not back down but will approach. I can’t attribute them some human trait like curiosity to explain this behavior. There are only two explanations. Either they are so prehistoric in their “programming” that they have to follow their path of migration, or they are an aggressive snake.

When we moved to the house next to the muddy-bottom Oyster Creek, we didn’t count on the water-moccasins. The first week after we moved in two of them tried to get into the garage, at the same time. They would not back down. I wasn’t sure they were water-moccasins because I’d never seen one up close so I carefully draped them on the end of a shovel and flung them into the woods nearest the water. After several more encounters I know now those two copper-eyed reptiles were fully grown water moccasins. And the thought give me the creeps.

They come in different colors as per their age. Young ones have diamond-back markings and are as lethal at birth as the adults. The older the water moccasin gets the more the markings on their back fade to dark brown. Their sides retain some markings that fade to cream on the belly with a little yellow sometimes along the length of the body. Their eyes, like other pit vipers, have a slitted pupil, which squeezes into near invisibility in the sun.

Many more water moccasins tried to enter our home. The strange behavior of the cats warned us. It was a particular action they did. Obviously spooked, the three of them jumped like cat popcorn.  I would find a water moccasin curled to strike behind a potted plant or the garden hose. I killed quite a few. I didn’t just kill them. I chopped off their heads. People have been bitten by dead water moccasins. Why is this? Because these snakes are programmed to strike. It’s primitive. It’s primal. I didn’t make this up because every one of my headless water moccasins continued to “strike” with their bloody stump, the head opened and closed its mouth with fangs dripping venom.

There are two things that give me the willies – the large palmetto bug (a giant cockroach common in the south) and the water moccasin. The willies is defined as “the shivers”, the “heebie-jeebies”, and a shuddering fear.


Here is a picture of me with a headless snake, which is still trying to strike at me.


Snakes Alive! Part One

I miss snakes. Since moving to the city, I haven’t seen but one snake. When we lived in Sugar Land I spotted them weekly and sometimes more often. The dearth of big city snakes hasn’t always been the case. Accounts of the Allen brother’s landing in the swamp included malaria-carrying mosquitoes and poisonous snakes amongst the many dangers. But we’ve become civilized, no more cannibals or quick-sand (except perhaps at the downtown courthouse) and not many snakes.

Growing up in South Houston I enjoyed catching copper-colored grass snakes. I would try to keep them as pets. “Try” because my mother would figure it out and empty my catch-jars. My brothers and I would catch glass-eels, and pipe-fish at the back-water fishing cabin near Galveston, and at home we would find flat-worms under rocks, the kind we would later cut up in biology class. And there were the earthworms.

Once I listened to a hysterical woman describe the reason she could never garden. “It’s those pink snakes everywhere.”

We had good healthy (earthworm laden) soil in Sugar Land.

Earthworms are God’s gift. If it weren’t for them the world would stink something fierce. They eat organic material and turn it into pure, sweet-smelling earth. Thank God for them!

Unlike the flatworms, they do not regenerate if cut in two. They die. An earthworm is intricately made with a gizzard for grinding food because like chickens, they have no teeth. They have a five chamber heart with red blood. Their liver takes up over three-quarters of their body, their stomach and intestines take up the rest. So be careful fellow gardeners with your spade. If seen on the sidewalk, carefully move that earthworm to the grass and out of sight of the early bird. Please.

My first and only sighting of a snake in Houston happened while visiting Rienzi. Rienzi is a mansion like something from an Agatha Christi play, all white limestone curved lines and art deco. They give tours. The gardens are designed by someone famous, but I can’t recollect who. The gardens are proud to be called “very European”. Staircases that lead to avenues, with views at every turn, from clipped lawn to sculpted bushes. All very fancy.

My husband and I had ended our walk through the greenery and were taking the stairs to main-floor ground level when I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye.

There, slinking from a raised bed and wiggling across a cement walkway was a coral snake.

In Texas there are garter snakes that are banded with the red, black and yellow so we have a little saying to distinguish between a coral snake (lethal) and the banded garter snake (harmless). All snakes are beneficial, like wine taken in moderation. My thing is that if you kill all the snakes you see you are only leaving more room for the poisonous snakes because there are far more non-poisonous snakes in Texas than poisonous. So chances are the snake you see will not be a poisonous snake. My best advice to you is: if you see a snake, don’t engage it in battle, just run away.

So as I watched this gorgeous red and black and yellow banded snake pass by within a few feet, I recited my little saying. “Red and yellow kill a fellow, red and black safe now, Jack.” This little guy’s yellow bands touched his red bands. This was a genuine coral snake, one of the most lethal of all the poisonous snakes.

I was so thrilled.

I’ve never seen one in the wild. And the ones in cages at the zoo look so washed out and “beat-down”. This one was active and perfectly glossy. Its red was red and its yellow yellow, the colors so bright as to hurt the eyes. It was about twenty inches long, and about as big around as my finger from tip to stern. They can reach as long as three feet but it is rare to see a coral snake much less a really long one. Unlike pit vipers they remain a very slender snake throughout their life, eating small insects and vermin that they can get their tiny mouths around.

There are two types of venomous snakes in America, the pit viper group includes the Copperhead, the rattlesnake, and the water moccasin, and the coral snake. The venom of the pit viper group attacks muscle cells (though some have nerve attacking properties) effectively rotting the cells and doing horrible damage that can lead to loss of limb and even death, the coral snake’s venom like the cobra in other parts of the world, will shut down the nervous system. The Texas Coral snake has two fixed fangs at the front, which means that those fangs can reach just about any part of you that you get near it. The pit-viper’s fangs are hinged. They stay flat with the closed jaws but swing forward when the mouth is opened.

Coral snakes are shy, which is why I was so thrilled to see one. When threatened they curl up and hide their head. I didn’t get near enough to my rare coral snake to make it feel threatened. It squiggled across the walk, up the side of the raised bed of another garden where it disappeared beneath the leaves. Gone forever.

And that’s okay.

For the Love of Rocks

My parents took my three brothers and me to just about every state or national park from Texas up to Minnesota and across the entire eastern map of the U.S. As I recall forty three  state stickers were plastered to the back of the old pop-up camper. Purchasing the stickers at Stuckey’s became integral to the race to compile more stickers than any other camper. This was before “Survivor” type reality TV. No one was going to vote us off the campsite if we didn’t reach yet another far-off place during our usual two-week summer vacation. But my parents were fiercely competitive in their camping mode. Some states we visited multiple times, of course, because we had to get from here to there, and we usually took a different route from there to here.

This isn’t a travel blog.

Every other year our destination was Iowa, to visit the relatives, and every OTHER year it was North Carolina. Cherokee, North Carolina to be specific. We all loved the Smoky Mountains National Park. Something for everyone there. Fishing, hiking, swimming, wading across slimy rocks in swift, freezing water, drinking same water and coming down with the terrible heebie-jeebies, and watching Native American dances in town.

From each park I took, okay,  I stole a rock or two. Once I stole a frog. It was a huge green bull frog. The only reason I got that frog from Tennessee to Texas was because my mother never knew I had it in the car’s backseat until we arrived home. I was not allowed to keep him in my bedroom.

The frog got away.

The rocks from all over the US, I kept. I rearrange nature.

Weirdly, I was born loving rocks. Or dirt. Maybe mud. Definitely bugs. And usually snakes. Perhaps from watching my older brother. He was a digger. I am a digger. He went into landscape architecture. I am a master gardener. At least that is a good cover.  The truth is I believe in hidden treasure. So I keep digging.

Anyways, I grew up watching him, and wanting to be like him and have his stuff. He had a chemistry set. I wasn’t to touch it. Did you know chemistry sets have gum arabic? Did you know that gum arabic doesn’t have any flavor? He had a rock collection. One that he carefully compiled over years of saving to buy the bits glued to cardboard squares with their proper names in stiff typeset. I wasn’t to touch it. I especially liked the fool’s gold. I think I still have that one.

My personal assemblage of stone amounted to some weight as we visited a lot of parks and this collection process spanned many years. I kept them at my parents home hidden-in-plain-sight in the “rock” garden until I had a house and room for them. Much to my husbands despair I carted them around move after move. I used the rocks as decoration or as garden borders. About seven years ago we sold our house so quickly – it was such a shock because houses weren’t selling then either – that I wasn’t prepared. I forgot the rocks. The majority of them are still there in Sugar Land, Texas.

So this is much ablog about nothing.

But as an aside. I still have a large beach pebble from Maine (a gift from a friend), a lightening-glass chunk in turquoise (see movie: Sweet Home Alabama), an illegal stalactite (no, really, I took it before the laws), slate pebbles from the beaches of West Cornwall, England, some sandstone from West Texas, and I even took a stone from the mountain top where Ronald Reagan’s Presidential library sits. I’m really surprised that I got away with that. I did do a little surreptitious thing with my jacket and bending to “tie” my shoe. You see I had already been caught sitting on RR’s saddle and wearing his hat. (Wow. Stop! Within seconds we men in dark coats surrounded us. “The sign says ‘don’t touch’.”) I really had not seen the sign. I just wanted to pose for the pictures my mortified husband was taking. Unfortunately the camera was broken. Who knew? We took a lot of pictures we didn’t know we weren’t taking. I would never be able to show the pictures of me wearing the gipper’s hat and sitting on the worn-out saddle draped on the saw-horse? I do not lie. It happened.

This is the beginning of my new collection.

So for all of those who LOVE rocks as I do – rock on!

Lost my phone but not my camera

Last night while at my brother’s house in the country I lost my phone. But managed to get home with my camera.

Here are some pictures of the livestock.

The bull is gigantic. Up close you can see the muscles rippling. Apparently he is not such a gentle giant but he is on his best behavior in anticipation of the slices of apples my brother has. Brother is standing behind me here. I love the colors of the bull. I have a few close up shots in hopes of doing some artwork later on.

Then there is Miss Chick-Chick.  She comes when called and follows anyone with food. Here, she is scarfing up an overripe fig. One of these days I’ll get the hang of getting the pictures to work right with the text wrapped around them. I took a lot of pictures of chickens. When the weather cools down I want to get more. The barn was broiling. Outside under the sun it was worse. Brother has three kinds of chickens, turkeys, and wild ducks that he feeds. He enjoys a plethora of delicious free-range eggs.

The sheep don’t have names yet. The male has become friendly and enjoys human interaction but the females are still too skittish having been raised in a feed lot with a hundred other sheep.

BeeBlack is the goat. Followed us around like a dog waiting for a pat on the head.

We’ve decided that my brother will become the favorite uncle with his “petting zoo”.