Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Little Bird

Little bird, but don't tell this guy that. The Tufted Titmouse (yes, that is it's real name) is a common bird in Wimberley. We probably shouldn't label it as either little or common, because this bird seems thoroughly convinced that it is:

  1. The only bird in the world that matters
  2. The biggest bird on the block

Territorial, and not afraid of showing it, this sparrow-sized bird chatters constantly, probably in an effort to identify it's territory and let everyone know it is in charge. Have you ever known any people like that? It is obviously named for the crown of tufted feathers, and I must give it some credit for being pretty cute. They often hang around our feeders in Wimberley, and this one was just taking a break from a feeder when it posed for this portrait. I'm just developing my bird photography skills, so hopefully I'll have some better pictures of this and other birds on this blog during the Spring. Until then, chirp chirp, and the next time someone seems to be showing off excessively, consider that perhaps mother nature made each of us a bit like this little bird.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Pile of Work

See the big pile of crushed limestone, foreground. See the very small shovel, background. Oh well, at least it gives me something to do... I recently had another load of this stuff delivered so that I can extend the driveway up to where the house will be located. It makes a decent driving surface for rural locations like this, at a fraction of the price of asphalt or concrete. And, no need to worry about those inevitable cracks or oil stains you get with paved surfaces; just spread another pile over the driveway every few years and it looks like new. Best thing is that it provides further rationalization for buying a Bobcat to maintain it! I'll be visiting the property later this week trying to make this pile much smaller, and will haul some of it by wheelbarrow to spread along the path to the creek/pond/yoga deck. If this sounds like irresistible fun to anyone reading this, I've got an extra shovel.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Century?

Not quite a century. According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin http://www.wildflower.org the Century Plant blooms in 8 to 20 years. The version common in Texas is the Thorncrest Century Plant, Agave lophantha Schiede. The bloom is evidenced by the tall stalk that shoots up only in preparation for the bloom. The one pictured here at my Wimberley land bloomed this summer, and soon afterward started curving toward the ground. The Century plants I knew from my time in the desert DIE after they bloom, their effort to produce offspring having used every ounce of life in the mother plant. So, I guess this one is soon to be dust again, heading back to enrich the soil from which it came. Not a big problem for the species, since that bloom produces enough seeds to start many more plants which will replace it for (not quite) a century. A tough gig for the mother plant, but maybe no tougher experience than some parents have getting their young sprouts to adulthood...

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Plan

Since I'm an architect by education, one might think that I should have some really firm plans for a home to build in Wimberley. But, in reality I've had many not so firm plans. Dozens and dozens of pages, with all kinds of intricate details. The thing is, once I got past the initial excitement and a thousand hours or so detailing a really fabulous home plan, sanity slowly crept back into my life. The big, high maintenance homes that I had been contemplating didn't seem so attractive, and neither did the large mortgages that went with them. So, I've just started yet another plan, and this one is very small and simple. Call it a Yoga induced plan. A little weekend getaway sort of place, which is only as big as it is in order to meet minimum building size requirements. Here is an early drawing showing the ground floor (The upper floor is just a loft, bedroom, and bath) and part of the garage. As the plans mature I'll update them here, but I imagine it will take many months at my part time pace until they are really complete. And then, who knows, maybe this will be the one that actually gets built!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Calling all Bats

Come on in, you skeeter-eating, flying fur-balls. Newly installed at the Wimberley property is this cozy little bat house, complete with all the amenities that any upwardly mobile bat family would be proud of. I carefully followed all the sacred bat law that I could find on this topic, hoping to avoid a multi-year vacancy period like my Wimberley martin house is now enduring. I mounted it at the ideal height of 15 feet above ground (what a pain). Oriented it facing South to South-East. Found a spot which gets more than the minimum 4 hours of direct sunlight so the baby bats will be adequately warmed. What more could you ask for, you wacky critters of the dark? Maybe a movie screen showing vampire or Batman movies? A free month's rent with a year lease? Free bat cable?

Come on in, I'll leave the lights off for you.