Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hummingbirds Texas Style

Hummingbird season is here, so we hung our feeder. That day 15 Hummingbirds showed up!!! The Hummingbird wars began, so we quickly hung a second feeder. We're enjoying their twittering frenzy, and seeing several at a time sit in the open branches above the feeders. Let the video download completely and enjoy.

I've discovered what I think is the perfect Hummingbird feeder. Check it out below. It has 4 parts that all snap apart easily for cleaning, and a wide mouth for filling. It holds 32 ounces. It is made by "First Nature" and can be ordered through several Internet sites.

Our Charm of Hummingbirds (Yep, that's a flock of them!) drink 3 cups of juice a day! Our feeders hold 4 cups each. We're making a gallon at a time now! Maybe it's my recipe that they like. The secret recipe is to boil one cup of water, turn off the heat, and add 1/4 cup of sugar. Do not add food coloring. The red plastic on the feeder is enough to attract them. If you make extra juice, it can be kept in the refrigerator for one week. Happy Hummingbird feeding!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Entomologists Must Come From Texas

I wouldn't have noticed this huge bug, except for looking to see what Odie was about to pounce on. He has a nose for trouble!

I don't care for bugs, but this one gave me a mixed ahhh - ewww response. Fascinating, but ewwww, it's a bug. You can see why it is called a Longhorn Beetle.

Here's another picture for some size perspective. It's body is about 2" long without counting the antennae. It is considered a musk beetle (ie. stink bug): No biting, stinging, or poisoning. It flies, so there could be heart failure concerns! Trivia facts: You can tell the male by the antennae being longer than the body. There are about 20,000 species of this bug, 412 of which are in Texas. Now we know.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Go Otis Go!!!

Otis has improved his walking tremendously in the last month. In this video he walks approximately 100 feet in about a minute. He generally walks down this drive and back up the hill twice a day. Notice the little prancing run near the end of the video. This is his Summer goal. Considering I wasn't sure he'd ever walk unsupported, he's convinced me he'll achieve his goal of being able to run Otis Style! Download the video completely before watching it, as he's moving fast! Go Otis Go, or maybe I should have said, Run Otis Run!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Benini Sculpture Ranch and Art Gallery

The Benini Sculpture Ranch and Art Gallery is located about 5 miles outside Johnson City and up this road into the Texas hills to an altitude of 1,800 feet.

I'm presenting the tour opposite of the way it took place, so you'll have more of a feel for the layout.

This is the home and private gallery of the artist and his wife. It sits at the highest point on the property overlooking the sculpture ranch. I love the whirligig, or what is more technically called Kinetic Art, in their front yard. A video of it in motion will come later in this post.

This is the view from the artist's home overlooking the 140 acre ranch. Large sculptures are located along the winding road. The sculptures are by artists internationally.

You may have to enlarge the picture to get a closer look. It looks to me to be a skeletal view of the legendary Chupacabra or goat-sucker. I love the natural setting.

This sculpture against the blue sky and landscape is what made it for me.

This hand was interesting in a "Planet of the Apes" sort of way. Remember the fallen Statue of Liberty?

Once again a sculpture made better for its nature backdrop.


Seeing this horse sculpture in a habitat that would be natural for a wild horse made it almost appear that it could come to life and run free. I think all this art is making my imagination run wild!

This one I like and dislike in equal amounts. The name "Childhood Memories of My Life On The Farm" seems to be what redeems it for me.

This string art through the trees looks like a big spider web. It looked like it could be interesting during different times of day, because of the colors that shine from it.

We enjoyed seeing this bird enhance this interesting sculpture.

Me and a Texas Longhorn near the Art Gallery.

This is the Benini Art Gallery. Viewing the artwork in the gallery and the self guided driving tour are all free!

The artwork in the gallery is mostly from the 1960s and 70s. Benini was said to have been experimenting with dimensions. These works are all flat canvas with some sections cut away. The dimensions are created with paint. The artwork is hung out from the wall so natural shadows also play into the works effect.

Pretty amazing. Remember these are flat canvas!

This is looking to the back of the gallery. The big purple triangle on the back wall made me think of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Star Trek".

This is looking toward the front of the gallery. The purple picture to the left struck me as odd. It is like a picture frame with nothing in it, but then seeing the way the light reflected out into the room made me think how cool it is. It's like capturing a picture of light! Still I thought it needed something in that empty spot within the painted frame. Soooo, I did my own artwork. Check it out below!

Much better! LOL :-)) Isn't technology great!

Let the video below download totally before playing it. The Kinetic Art sculptures are our favorites.

The artwork we've shown in this post is just a small sampling of what is available to see at the ranch. We enjoyed our day and I had a night of fanciful dreams.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is located 9 miles outside Johnson City. This is the view at the park's check station. Knowing about the thorny plants, venemous creatures, high heat, and lack of water; I couldn't help but think of how inhospitable this landscape looked.

We decided to hike down to the swimming area along the river to look around. Little did we know how many sections of stairs like this that we would face.

Second flight of stairs and still smiling!

Yikes! It's looking like a long walk ahead, and I'm contemplating the walk uphill on our return.

A third section of stairs.

A long walk through the sand to the water.

The sand has seashells. The soil back at the RV park also has seashells. It's evidence of the area being underwater at one time.

We made it! We're told that normally the water is deep enough to swim, but is down to wading depth with the drought.

For those interested in geology, this is a cool looking conglomerate rock.

We're halfway back up the stairs. This is what an amateur hiker looks like in 95+ degree heat. I noticed cacti along the stairway that were yellowed and withering. I took comfort knowing that even the cacti were having trouble surviving.

Anyone for a hike to the falls? Here's the path. Presuming it mean't climbing down several flights of stairs like before, we opted to return another day.

Here's a picture of the falls from the Internet. Good enough for me until a cooler day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Bug!?

I know. What can I say. I didn't think I'd be writing another bug post either! If I keep this up, we'll have to change the name of the blog.

Interesting looking isn't it. Seeing it scurrying across the ground made me think it might be some type of large ant. No, it's more like a spider. Then again, maybe it's a wasp???

It definitely has an unusual burnt orange pussy willow back end. My internet research states that it is called a Red Velvet Ant, but is actually a wasp. It is also known as a Cow Killer and sometimes called a Mule Killer!!! Neither sound good. Further research says that although this wingless female wasp doesn't kill cows or mules, it gives such a long and extremely painful sting that it leads one to believe it could kill a cow! Yikes! Here's one more reason for wearing closed toe shoes when walking through the countryside! Roy and I are starting to understand people's inclination to sit on top of picnic tables with their feet on the bench!