Anson Jones’ Barrington Farm

Anson Jones’ named his farm after his hometown in Massachusetts.  The house was moved to Independence, Texas, in 1936.  The outbuildings are not original but the builders tried to stay true to the period.

While most of us consider our washers and dryers to be essentials, the old wash buckets sure make them seem like a luxury.

Numerous small buildings serve different functions.  This covered wagon storage area is beside the barn, kind of like a carport.

Oxen were used for plowing, thus the yoke.

This looks like it would fit over the head of one animal, but I don’t know what kind of animal.  Notice the modern fire extinguisher.  A fire would would consume all of the outer buildings since they are close to each other but away from the house: devastating situation for early settlers.

This drafty building would be miserable in the winter but I guess most of the carpentry and repair would have been done in the warmer months.  So wide spaced trunks would have allowed some breeze to blow through.

The cast iron pots were what I would have expected to be used as wash tubs.  Not  sure what the other wooden buckets represented.  The large pots were placed over a fire to heat the water.  In the back ground is the house for the slaves.

This chimney blows my mind.  Usually stone was used.  Surely the gaps in the house walls would have been filled with clay and sticks.

Now it’s used as storage.

Bales of cotton would have been carded, and spun and then woven to make cloth for sewing clothes.

Lots of greens grew in the vegetable garden.  The tall ones in front are Collard Greens.

This Luffa or loofah vine (Luffa aegyptiaca) is also known as a vegetable sponge or a dishcloth gourd.  Young fruits can be eaten like cooked squash.  When the fruit is mature, it can be used as a sponge.

When the fruit completely dries, the hard outer shell is peeled off and the seeds removed for planting.  Then, voila, you have a fancy loofa that is sold to exfoliate skin.

And I thought these came from the ocean.  Greek sponge divers gathered natural sponges.  They dove naked holding their breath.  The Turks also had a thriving sponge business.  All that changed with the invention of Scuba gear.

Anyway, natural sponges from the ocean are different from these rough loufahs.

“You will always repeat the problems you refuse to take responsibility for.”  Kris Vallotton

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Dry, Dusty Autumn

This crazy summer weather continues on and on.  Several early 1900’s high temperatures have been broken. The mornings start out pleasant but quickly rise to the high 90’s.

No rain in two months.  Dry land and vegetation makes a high fire risk.  The caliche dust on the county roads rises like a fine powder and hovers in the air for what seems like forever.  High dust clouds announce anyone traveling anywhere nearby.

drydusty2The grasses in the fields are all dead.  Broomweed or Broom Snakeweed (Amphiachyris amoenaseem) seems to be the only living vegetation and cows don’t eat it because it is poisonous.

drydustybWith hundreds of bushes massed in a pasture, its tiny yellow flowers and light green foliage form a lime green landscape.

drydusty3The ponds are almost dry.  This eerie moonscape look is created by dead, dry bleached plants and grasses sticking up from the bottom of the tank.

drydusty4Last summer when the ponds were totally dry, grasses and weeds grew up.  Then spring rains filled the ponds up.  Now they have dried again, leaving those dead plants and other crud stuck to them standing alone.

drydusty5Mighty strange looking.

drydusty7Another tank with scum floating on top of a small amount of water.

drydusty6Poverty Willow flowers shine a silvery white in the sunlight.

drydusty8Up close the wispy tufts look like small powder puffs.

drydusty9

drydustyaThis was dug as a spill over area from a tank.  This empties into a stream.  It seems unlikely that it would be needed.  But the spring rains did fill up the tank to overflowing.

drydustycNotice the stratum of this land cutaway. The top layer of soil is about 2 – 3 inches.  The white layer below that is caliche.  Under that is clay.  It’s a wonder that anything grows here.  But trees and some native shrubs do survive.

This explains why I used raised beds in the yard.

drydustyThis scraped plot was done by using a skid loader with a tilted bucket.  The purpose was to take away the weeds and loosen the top soil.  Then we scattered wildflower seeds.  It is in a pasture between the house and the barn.  So we should be able to enjoy the flowers.

Now we are praying for rain.  Autumn rains are needed for Texas wildflowers to succeed.  Actually, rain is desperately needed for everything.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it’s stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Mark Twain

Pacific Coast in Costa Rica

Our hotel complex Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast was huge with buildings and gorgeous landscape on both sides of the main road.  A traffic guard stopped traffic when any guests needed to cross.

CostaRIn fact, all guests wore wrist bands, like hospital ids, as proof they could access the property.  The bands could not be removed and passed to someone else.  So they were cut off as we boarded the bus to leave.

CostaR1All of the Mayan looking statutes seemed strange to me.  According to our very knowledgeable guide, there were only about 50,000 natives in the whole country area when the Spanish landed in what is today southern Costa Rica.   Among the natives were 27 different languages, ethnicities, and ruling orders.  They have been almost completely absorbed by the Spanish.

The flowers above are Ixora.

CostaR7If you have been to a resort area in Mexico, this had the same feel about it.

CostaR2The way this soil and grass is built up around the trunk of this palm is the exact opposite of what tree arborists instruct here.

CostaR9Lovely  beach.

CostaRb

CostaRfI love these small flat topped trees.  They make a great shade.

CostaRg

CostaRhThis iguana ran under my lawn chair.

CostaRiHe was only about 18″ long.

CostaReHow these Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) survive in direct sun is a mystery.  Recommended growing conditions are bright indirect light, humid air, and cooler temperatures.

The weather was all over the place on this trip.  This was a really hot spot with full tropical sunlight.  In the afternoon it was definitely uncomfortable to be outside.

CostaRkUnknown to me, like most of the tropical plants, but beautiful.

CostaRoThis Strangler Fig provided the shade for one of the hotel’s dining areas right by the beach.  These trees in the Ficus family grow up around another tree and eventually kill it.  This most often happens in forests where the competition for light is fierce.

CostaRn

CostaRpA hatched cabana similar to many seen on Caribbean islands.

We ate our meals in the dining room behind this cabana.

IMG_3506At all of our hotels except one, the restaurants were open aired.  One morning this bird joined us.  He hopped boldly on tables and chairs.

This picture and the following two were provided by Diane Atchison.  She was in our group and very generously shared her pictures and gave permission for me to post them.

IMG_3489From my internet search, this is a Costa Rica Bluebird.  Very cute.

IMG_3520Perfect shot.  Thanks, Diane.

CostaRdThe sidewalks through the “village” of hotel buildings had lovely leaf impressions.  Manpower must be cheap.

CostaRrMangoes growing by the balcony near our room.

CostaRmAlthough I’m not a real beach person, the scenes were lovely and peaceful.

CostaR8The sun is low and many were enjoying water activities.

CostaR3All these following shots is my attempt to show the sun setting over the Pacific.

CostaR4

CostaR5

CostaR6

CostaRcThe hotel swimming pool in the cool of the evening.

This was probably the only truly relaxed part on our trip.  Most days we were on the move with early morning departures to travel or to visit sights.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”  William James

On the Road in Costa Rica

On the way to the western coast of Costa Rica, we stopped at a restaurant just off the highway for lunch.

CR2Behind the restaurant was this landscaped hill.

CR3“Pura Vida” literally means pure life.  But in Costa Rica, it is used as an answer to a greeting, as a farewell, and as a way to express gratitude.   It defines the people and their positive attitude about life.  It’s like saying “All is well” or “Life is good” no matter what the circumstance.

CR4Beside the clock is a toucan image.

CR5There were cages containing some birds.  The tail feathers look like those of a pheasant.

CR6Don’t have a clue what this fowl is.

It is illegal to hunt anything, anywhere in Costa Rica.  So all food animals and birds must be raised.

CR7Beside the restaurant was a tourist souvenir shop, which had some hand painted items.  There were actually more locals eating at the restaurant than there were foreigners.

An aside about food in  Costa Rica.  We ate the traditional lunch of white rice and black beans.  We had some white fish with it.  Women usually cook one large meal a day.  It’s at lunch time.  With the rice and beans, there could be some fruit or vegetables like tomatoes.  Sometimes there is also fish or chicken.  Rarely is there beef.  Then at suppertime, the beans and rice are combined with some onion and other seasonings.  This same dish is served at breakfast.

For the most part, they do not snack in between meals and eat little fast food.  We did not see any obese natives, so they must be doing something right.

Plus, the whole, entire country is hilly.  There doesn’t seem to be any level ground.  So walking, which they do a lot of, provides great exercise.

CR8Another painting outside the shop.

CRcAfter we left that area and continued driving, the bus driver spotted this Howler monkey in the trees along the road.

CRdIf you look closely, with some imagination, the monkey has turned its back towards us.

black-howler-monkey_467_600x450This picture came from the internet.  Although we heard Howlers several times on the trip, we were never close enough to get a good view.

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”  Abigail Adams

Lush Costa Rica

While the ice and snow were falling here, we were enjoying the weather of the tropics.  Of course, we had to face the music when we landed at DFW.  After an extra long bus trip to Abilene, we were iced in and had to spend two nights in a motel there.

We traveled to Costa Rica with Bilbrey Tours from Abilene, so our starting and ending points were there.

costarica1The grounds of our first hotel in San Jose, the capital, exhibited the lushness of a warm climate with plenty of rainfall.  I could not resist taking pictures of the beautiful landscaping.  We only over nighted here, so these were taken in early morning conditions.  Even so, the sunlight was strong and the shadows of the buildings, deep.

costarica2Begonias were used in many beds.

costarica3The tropical Ixora thrives here and certainly doesn’t need to be confined to a pot, like mine in Texas.

costarica4It was surprising to see so much Lantana because it survives so well here in dry Texas.  This is probably the New Gold Lantana.

costarica5Here Lil Miss Lantana is mixed in with another flower.  The red blooms may be another Lantana.  I’m not sure.

Many of the beds were in raised concrete that were tiled.  So pretty.

costarica7Not sure what these flowers are.

costarica6I think I should know but don’t.

costarica8Another type of lantana, maybe Lantana Camara, edged with what looks like Alyssum. costaricab

costaricacDeep red Begonias.

costaricaeThis may be Ginger?

costaricafAn open corridor leading from guest rooms to the reception area.

costaricagAgain the white looks like Alyssum and the one with the pink flowers could be Mexican Heather.

costaricahThere were lots of different species of Coleus.

costaricaiWouldn’t it nice to have gardeners who keep everything so trimmed and neat?

costaricajLove Plumbago, although it has to be grown in a container here and carried in for the winter.

costaricak

costaricalThis might be la parola del giorno Lantanta..

costaricanPalm trees with clusters of orchids growing on them.  There are 1,500 different species of orchids in Costa Rica.

costaricamEven though these orchids are growing on a tree, they are not parasites.  They are epiphytes which derives its moisture from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris around it. It does not harm the host at all.

During the trip, we saw many different examples of these.  Epiphytes can be found in the temperate zone.  Examples are mosses, liverworts, lichens, and algae.  They also live in the tropics, like Costa Rica’s environment..  These include ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads.

costaricao

costaricap

costaricaqI don’t know if these small branches are part of the palm tree or are epiphytes.

costaricas

costaricar

costaricatSo delicate and lovely.

costaricau

costaricavA skylight in the reception area.

costaricawThe counter is made of onyx.  Although it looks solid, these are slabs on top of wooden cabinets.  Very nice hotel.

costaricaxAs one would expect, gorgeous arrangements of tropical plants decorate the hotel.

There will be several posts about Costa Rica in the coming days.

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Not a Rose

When is a “rose” not a rose?  When it belongs to a completely different family than roses.  Roses (Rosa) are woody shrubs in the Rosaceae family.  Most of us recognize a rose without even thinking about it.

So why do so many other flowers have “rose” in their name?  Who knows.  Maybe because of the romance and sentimentality associated with a true rose.

notarose3Ross Moss (Portulaca Grandiflora) is considered an annual, but is a perennial in our area.  It is a member of the Portulacaeae family.

Even in a plastic pot on the north side of the house, it returned after a cold and long winter this year.  Rose Moss can’t tolerate our heavy clay soil, so it needs a pot with good drainage.

notarose2Desert Rose (Apocynaceae Adenium Obesum) is actually a succulent member of the Oleander family.

notarosebOne of its characteristics is the formation of a bulb shape at the base of its stem as it ages.  This one only has a slight bulge so far.

notaroseMexican Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a perennial related to the agaves.  Polianthes means “many flowers” in Greek.

They don’t usually start blooming here until August, when the heat has been around awhile.  This picture is from last year.  The temps, as well as the humidity, have hit high gear, so they might be blooming in a month or so.

rockrose6Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a member of the Mallow family.  It is a small shrub that needs little moisture.  Mine doesn’t get much bigger and rarely blooms, maybe because it’s in a bed that gets watered.  It could also be that the amended soil in the lasagna bed is too good for it.  Never thought I’d say that about anyplace in my yard.

notarose4Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is in the Mallow family.  It is also known as althaea.

notarose5More pictures show the abundance of flowers.

notarose1All the bushes in the above pictures came from a friend’s cuttings.  She got them from her sister in Michigan.

pinkroseofsharonThis is a different variety of Rose of Sharon that I ordered from a catalog.  Nice color and ruffled center.

pinkroseofsharon2Doesn’t even look like the same flower.  All Rose of Sharons are hardy, hardy, hardy.  Not much water is needed to live, but it is necessary for them to bloom.

What do all these plants have in common?  They are drought tolerant, pretty, and thrive in the heat.  Despite their names, they are not in the rose family. notaroseEven a stone is called a rose.  If you use your imagination, a rose shape can be seen.

Desert Rose is a variety of gypsum that forms in the spaces between sand particles. It traps the loose sand in a unique flower-like crystal structure.  They tend to be small.  These are 1.5 inches across.

Rose rocks are found in Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma rose rock was formed during the Permian Period, 250 million years ago, when western and central Oklahoma’s  shallow sea coverage was receding.   It is the official rock of Oklahoma.  Didn’t even realize that states had designated rocks.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue:  no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”                     Eleanor Roosevelt

Ice, Again

Most of the nation is in the same boat with this winter storm.  It’s cold, icy, and dangerous out there.  So this is the fourth day we’ve been inside.  And cabin fever has descended.

Okay.  Okay.  The temperatures are much colder, the winter much longer, and the ice much thicker in many northern states.  But I purposely do not live in those areas.

snowiceAfter hearing sleet fall most of Wednesday night, on Thursday morning we awoke to what is referred to as a “winter wonderland”.  Except, that white stuff is deceiving.  Instead of snow, it is ice with a fine coating of snow powder.

snowice2Beside the flowerbed, there is a hidden sidewalk.  It’s also a hidden menace.

snowice3Thursday was overcast and in the low 20’s.  This is the first year that the Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) has retained its yellow leaves past the heat of August.  It’s a reassuring sight that I hope means its roots have become established.

snowice4This Texas Ash or Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) also has kept its leaves through many high winds.

snowice5A snow/ice covered road on the ridge looks fun to travel on, but it’s iffy even in good weather.

snowice6Love this evergreen Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana).

snowice7On Saturday the sunlight peeked out of the clouds long enough to make shadows on the white ground.  This small Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) had long shadows at midday.

snowice8Today, Sunday, the temperature rose to 37 by noontime.  Skittering leaves travel above the hard packed ice.

snowiceaTo keep from going stir crazy, we take a walk.

We didn’t slip, slide too much.  In the sun, the ice had melted just enough to walk on.  In the shady areas, it was still slick.

snowice9Tonight this will all freeze again.  It will probably still be too treacherous to travel tomorrow.

This has been an unusual weather year for us.  In January we had ice, but that’s when we usually have some cold weather and ice.  In November and December we had ice storms.  In my mind, the snow storm while we were in South Dakata  in October counts for us, too.  Now the question is:  what do the coming winter months have in store for us?

Update – today, Monday, Dec. 9:

fog1213Still have the ice.  Now a heavy fog and icy wind is forming ice on the trees.

fog1213bIf ice forms on the power lines, it could mean a power outage.  It looks like we’ll be here for awhile.  So glad we bought groceries and propane for the fireplace.

“Username or Password is Incorrect.”  Well.  At least tell me which one it is.  – T shirt humor

Home of Sandstone Arches

Utah was the 45th state admitted to the union in 1896.  My curiosity about how that came about resulted in a web search.  The request for statehood came in 1849.  Between that time and 1896, the area was governed by federal appointees.  As we all know, that the area was settled by Mormons, and at that time they made up of 90% of the population.  Yet the appointees were almost all non-Mormons.

In 1862 the federal government passed the Anti-bigamy Act.  In 1890 the LDS president issued a Manifesto renouncing the practice of polygamy.  Then Mormons and non-Mormons worked together in D.C. to convince the government to grant statehood.

In terms of population, Utah is 34th.  Makes me wonder what the states are that have a smaller population because Utah seemed to be mostly wide open spaces.

The image I’ve always had of Utah was a desert scene with Najavo hogans scattered off in the distance and an old woman in a long black velvet skirt walking towards a young boy tending sheep.  Maybe that’s Hollywood’s influence.  What comes to your mind when you think of Utah?

utah

Bet this isn’t included.  These were in a flowerbed at McDonald’s just outside of Salt Lake City.  Surprises everywhere.

utah16This sandstone tower represents Utah more accurately.  This picture was taken while driving from Salt Lake City to Moab.  Mist is falling and the sky is overcast.

Heavy rain fell during the night as we slept.  There was a forecast of rain for all the next day in Moab.  So we decided to drive on.

utah7What a nice surprise to see this arch by the highway.  This somewhat compensated for not being able to visit Arches National Park.

utah13This is the left side of the arch structure.   Light rain continues.

utah15As we walk up towards the arch, wildflowers lie at our feet.  Maybe this is a native firecracker flower?

utah14This is Wilson Arch named after Joe Wilson, a pioneer who lived in a cabin nearby in Dry Valley.  This formation is known as entrada sandstone.  Briefly, this means that over a long period of time, the stone cracked and was saturated with water, which created fissures.  Ice formed in the fissures; then heat melted it causing the breakdown of the rock.  The wind eventually blew all all the small pieces away leaving the arch shape.

utah6Haven’t a clue what these little flowers are.

utah4This plant with the silvery leaves reminded me of Agarita.

utah3What a way to grab attention.  This was actually an advertisement for a store on the other side of the rock.  Note the four-wheeler parked on top and the truck on the road for size perspective.

utah11Small, scrubby pine typical of this arid land.

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utah9Also, what one would expect to see here – thistle.

utah2One parting shot of Utah before we cross into Colorado.

colorado2Snow covered mountains.  We’re happy to be skirting the area by driving diagonally across the north eastern corner of Colorado.

colorado3

coloradoWeather makes an huge impact on us humans.  Acclimation and hardiness makes a difference, but we’re all affected by cold, heat, elevation, and other conditions on this planet.  Humbling thought.

“Climate is what we expect.  Weather is what we get.”  Mark Twain

Yellowstone National Park – NOT

Changed plans sent us in a different direction.  We drove south in Idaho to visit an alternative to Yellowstone.

idahobearsThe hills were alive with color.

idahobears2Unfortunately, the camera just doesn’t capture the true beauty the eye sees.  At least, with me as the photographer, that happens.

idahobears5In order to see bears in the area, we went to Yellowstone Bear World.  It is advertised as a place that provides a natural setting for bears and other native animals to live.

In reality, it is a drive-through area where some animals live in a semi-natural environment.  The biggest problem is that these areas are large pens.  The overall area is just too small for a true nature set-up.  We guessed that the whole complex is maybe twelve to fifteen acres in size with a looping one-half mile drive.

idahobears4One of the animals that is featured in its ads is this rare white elk.  It, and its offspring, are not albino but leucistic.  This means a reduced production of pigment and a lack of cells capable of making pigment.  The eyes have no unusual color.  The mother is leucistic, but the father is not.idahobears3These birds flying everywhere interested me.  They are magpies.  It was difficult to find one on the ground long enough to snap a picture.  What doesn’t show up in the photo is the blue and green in the tail.  Very pretty in flight.

idahobears6As you can see, the bears are fed some kind of grain, so they are not truly living off the land.

idahobears7A zoo-like pinned area contains some cubs.  One activity available involved bottle feeding some cubs (for an extra fee).  Hopefully, those cubs are smaller than these.

There was a petting zoo for children with the usual animals for such areas.  The store was large and had many displays of nice souvenirs.

This excursion was a disappointment.  There is a drive through animal preserve about an hour and a half away from our home that is large enough for animals to roam around in a more realistic environment.  It is a 10 mile drive through a savannah environment.  It is possible to stop and feed the animals through open windows.  The whole experience is a fun, relaxed one.

We had hoped the Yellowstone Bear World would be similar.  Of course, since bears are carnivores, it makes sense that windows should remain closed.  But they were in a penned area separate from other animals.  With no stopping allowed, the rules just seemed confining.

idahobears8In the towns that had some landscaping, we saw many of these bright red bushes.  Certainly eye catching.

On any trip, it should be expected that some places will not live up to expectations.  This was true for this day for us.

“Treat the earth well.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”  Indian proverb

Idaho

After leaving the heavy snow coverage in South Dakota, we traveled across Wyoming.  We had a full day of driving to reach our reserved condo in Idaho, so we only stopped for gas and to eat.

montana2On route I 90, there was just a smattering of snow…

montanawith the mountain tops covered.

idaho4Since we were unable to visit Yellowstone National Park as planned, we found local sites to visit.  This is Upper Mesa Falls that is a part of Henry’s Fork of Snake River.

idaho5This beautiful falls is 114′ high and 200′ wide.  387-967 million gallons of water flow over it daily.  Pretty impressive.

idaho7There is an elaborate series of stairs leading down with several spots for optimum photography shots.

idaho6idaho2These berries looked soft, but I didn’t touch them.

idaho9Of course, most of the flowers had already died this time of the year.  But the remains were interesting.  These are what’s left of Fireweed (Epilobium angustifollum).

fireweedThis picture is from the internet.  The sign at the flower plot said that they are colonizers of burn areas.  Their rapid growth can change blackened areas into a sea of pink in a single year.

idahobThis is dried Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon Strictus).

idahocThe Lower Mesa Falls is not nearly as impressive as the Upper Falls.  This high up viewing spot was all that was available.

idahoeThese bushes were prominent in this area.

idahodI don’t know what they are, but their berries looked like Pyracantha ones, and they had the same type of berry clusters.

We saw some wonderful sights, even if they weren’t the ones we had planned to see.

“Politicians are the same all over.  They promise to build a bridge where there is no river.”  Nikita Khrushchev