Warm weather makes me want to dry the wash outside on the clothesline. That was my job growing up. Hang the clothes out and bring them in when they were dry. My sister’s job was to fold.
Back then, we didn’t have a clothes dryer, so everything hung on the line outside on sunny days, inside on the back porch line if it was rainy.
Mother washed every day rain or shine, so we’d always have clean clothes. We didn’t have that many.
Every spring I wash our linens and hang them out to dry. I love bringing the smell of the outdoors inside.
We have a king-size quilted bedspread. Heavy thing. Normally, I’d hauled it to a laundromat. But we have a large capacity washer that could handle it now. No rain predicted, it’d dry when I hung it on my umbrella clothesline.
What a keystone cop comedy routine that turned into.
I had to enlist hubby-dear to help me lift the wet quilt to hang it. As soon as the last clothespin went on, the whole clothesline tilted from the weight of the wet bedspread. Then toppled over.
I grabbed the pole and pulled it upright while Hubby-dear searched for rope. He tied the rope to the nearby pine tree, wrapped it around the umbrella pole to counterbalance the quilt’s weight.
Worked like a charm. Looked kinda Beverly Hillbillies weird, though.
Lesson learned. Take the heavy stuff to a laundromat if it won’t fit in your dryer.
For the last three years, spring has been such a lovely time of year with fresh sprouts popping out of the ground. Birds singing and gathering at the feeders. Our happy time before the Texas heat arrives
But not this year. The same springtime problem we had when we lived in the Rio Grande National Forest has cropped up. The birds see their reflection in glass and fly into the windows and doors thinking they’ve found their mate.
In Colorado, we wrestled the robins, who would spot their images in our windows and crash-dive into the glass. Several killed themselves.
Here in Texas, it’s the cardinals.
And let me tell you, these Texas cardinals are determined birds. They have attack-bombed both hubby-dear and me if we sit on our back porch, obstructing their path.
Having tried all the Google-suggested ways to get rid of the persistent birds when we lived in Colorado, we didn’t bother with any of these suggestions.
Fake Owl – nope, didn’t work
Shiny strips – nope, didn’t work
Pulling the blinds – nope, didn’t work
We went straight for the preventive that did work – cover the windows and doors.
We weren’t going through the constant thud as the cardinal divebombed the glass or see him knock himself crazy or worse, die.
It’s been several weeks now and we’re testing by removing the towels today.
Fingers crossed all the Cardinals have found their life mates and are now focused on building the nest.
I recently attended my first ‘rock’ concert recital.
My grandson teaches guitar and drums at School of Rock, which offers lessons, music camps and workshops focused on rock music. Their camps end with a live show performed by the campers. He suggested I should come to their next concert and hear his kids.
All I knew about rock music was it uses amplified instruments and has a strong bass line and driving rhythms. And it’s loud.
Piano recitals, dance, orchestra and band performances are more my forte. I figured why not?
All experiences offer gist for my writer’s mill so Chicken Wrangler Sara, hubby-dear and I went. I’m so glad I did.
I loved watching those kids play their hearts out. The students dressed like and sounded like the famous rock stars I’ve ever seen on television. Clearly, they loved what they were doing. And who knows I might have been listening to the next rock sensation.
So much fun. They even served lunch to benefit the school. Nothing better than music and hot dogs on a sunny day.
Reminded me of another concert I attended many moons ago. Back in the eighties, hubby-dear and I sat on a blanket on a New England hillside and listened to Harry Chapin.
Most people won’t recognize Harry Chapin who was a popular folk/rock singer and songwriter/activist of the seventies and early eighties. His songs are stories set to a blend of rock and folk music. My personal favorites are “Flowers Are Red” and “Cat’s in the Cradle.” You may remember “Taxi” or “30,000 pounds of Bananas.”
I have never forgotten that Harry Chapin concert and still love those songs. This rock concert was totally new music for me, but I won’t forget my grandson’s student rock concert either.
Living in a certified habitat for wildlife house means regular interruptions to my writing to check out what’s in the backyard.
Recently Jack and Jill trotted across our backyard and up our fence. No joeys with them, but I suspect they were out prowling for baby food. Of course I had to go see.
Their tails were hairless so not possums with only a p, but opossums. That’s how you tell the difference between the North American marsupial species.
Before you rush to tell me how ugly the critters are, let me say opossums get a bad rap. True, they’re kinda creepy looking, but reality is, opossums are incredibly useful, and greatly misunderstood.
White opossums make great neighbors. They are docile, not likely to threaten pets or carry disease, and, most important, because they help keep pest populations under control. Good reasons to have them around.
Known as Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineers, they eat everything from garbage and dead things to SNAKES and mosquitoes. They can eat up to 5,000 ticks a year. Plus, they aren’t very susceptible to rabies and largely immune to venom from snakes like cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.
They’re fascinating little creatures. Check these opossum facts.
Opossum babies are called joeys. Mom is jill and Poppa is jack. They belong to the same class of animals as kangaroos, wombats, and koalas that raise their young in a pouch. Lifespan is two to four years.
They have sharp claws, opposable thumbs on their hind feet, and a prehensile tail help them scale trunks and hang onto branches. They often nest in tree hollows. Joeys travel on jills’ back or her pouch.
Young opossums make sneezing sounds or a soft choo choo to call their mother, who will respond with clicking noises. Males make those same clicking sounds during mating season. When an opossum is threatened, it may hiss or growl, but Opossums are rarely violent.
“Playing ‘Possum” isn’t pretending. It’s an involuntary reaction that causes the opossum to seize up. Sorta like fainting in humans. In this state, opossums sometimes bare their teeth, foam at the mouth, and produce foul-smelling fluids from anal glands to mimic sickness. An Opossum can remain catatonic for up to four hours.
They demonstrated for me by freezing in “playing possum” mode when I approached.All I wanted was to tell them any animal that eats mosquitoes and snakes is definitely welcome here and please come again.
A Blue Norther is a fast-moving cold front that causes temperatures to drop dramatically 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit and quickly, like a few minutes. There are usually a dark blue-black sky and strong winds.
Checking the temperature by flashlight
The cold front aka norther that hit Texas recently was not technically a Blue Norther. It was neither fast nor unexpected. But it dropped temperatures to unheard of lows…for days.
The whole wide world knew colder temperatures than we’d seen in years were coming.
We all scurried around covering citrus trees and shrubs. We brought plants inside are covered. We stocked extra batteries and water in case ice caused us to lose power. We were ready.
Unfortunately, those in charge of our Texas power grid weren’t.
Our home was one of the four million households in Texas that lost power, water, and cell service when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made the deadly decision to cut power off to certain counties.
That meant no power during the longest stretch of freezing temperatures in thirty years: 44 consecutive hours from 6:53 p.m. Sunday to 1:53 p.m. Tuesday. You can find other staggering statistics here.
Our gas fireplace logs burned at full throttle and kept indoor temps around 38 degrees. We put on layers of clothes, wrapped ourselves in heavy blankets, and huddled in the living room.
We were fortunate we had warm clothes from living places where winter lasts six months of the year. Most native Texans don’t own super warm clothes. Why would you when normal is two to three days of cold per year?
Our power was out for fifty-eight hours. We were cold but we didn’t freeze. Sadly, others did.
Naturally, the prolonged cold inside the house caused pipes to freeze.When power came back and we turned on the well, a pipe in our kitchen burst. No water again. Nine days total without water!
But we were blessed. We only had one pipe burst and our neighbor has a plumbing company. Our repairs were done in five days. Too many are still dealing with fallout from multiple pipe breaks and major water damage in their homes.
Eating was a challenge too. Fast food places and restaurants couldn’t open. Texas can’t keep roads passable in a situation like this. A normal blue norther blows in and out quickly, roads are okay. But there’s very little winter weather equipment to handle prolonged icy roads. Roads closed completely.
Again, we were fortunate. Our home came with a gas stove, and we had a supply of matches. We had emergency provisions in our pantry. We could cook. I became the queen of one pan meals. We ate from paper plates and bowls because dipping water from our landscape pool then boiling to sterilize for cleanup was too tedious.
Moral to this tale of woe: Be prepared but don’t trust Mother Nature or the Texas power grid.
And, most important, don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. I’ve seen robins in the yard now that Texas temperatures are moving back to the normal winter sixty-degree ranges.
Most of the country is stuck in the throes of winter anxiously awaiting Punxsutawney Phil’s pronouncement about when winter will end. Down on the Texas Gulf coast we know that no matter what Phil says warmer weather is here.
We’ve already had several days in the seventies. Our grass is greening up and it feels a lot like summer will be early. Seventies in January are a harbinger of a long, hot summer.
We recently had the outside of our house painted. Everything looks so new, so fresh. It feels like spring is here. I started to hang the birdhouses my grandfather made many, many moons ago.
Opa had a little casita workshop behind his garage where he built birdhouses from wood scraps in different shapes and sizes. He also made stick horses, rocking horses, and doll beds that could be flipped from cradle to steady bed. All labors of love.
The birdhouses hung along the porch of his workshop. I’d have after school tea with my grandmother and watch the birds fly in and make their picks from the options.
When my grandparents passed, their daughters split the birdhouses and eventually, four of the birdhouses ended up with me. The little houses have hung along our porch and welcomed little birds.
With the warmer days, I knew the birds would soon be looking for homes. I dug the little houses out of the barn to hang this year, but couldn’t do it.
After all these years (well over sixty), the houses looked too shabby. Paint was peeling. Metal roofs were rusting. Years of nesting material was stuff inside, even a wasp nest cone.
I decided to freshen them up.
Yes, I should have been writing on the next Fitzpatrick series book, but the little birdies need fresh homes.
I gathered my supplies, staying as close to the original colors as I could. I sanded and tightened nails then painted for several days, allowing the paint to dry between coats.
One by one the refreshed birdhouses took their places on their hooks along our porch.
We hung the final birdhouse this morning. I think the birds will love the fresh options. And, I’m sure, my Opa’s smiling.
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