This spring's church picnic took the form of a fish fry at Lake Belton. It was last Saturday, and was a very enjoyable day. We had 75 people attend, which, for our small congregation, was a good turn-out. Not a lot to write about, but here are a few pictures.
Once every couple of months, we make a Costco run. There is no Costco in Temple, but, being long-time, loyal Costco customers, we have found the drive to Austin, every other month, not too bad. We always come home with a trunk-full of non-perishables that carry us over until our next trip.
Yesterday was one of those Costco days. Before we headed down I-35 we called our old college friends, Milt and Susie, who live in Georgetown (north of Austin), to see if they wanted to have dinner with us that evening. They were happy we'd called, and we made plans to be at their house around 5:00. And they told us, in that phone call, that a BRAND NEW Costco had opened up in Cedar Park, another community north of Austin. That was good news! We could shop at Costco without going clear into Austin, which would make it an easier drive.
We found the new Costco without a problem, and successfully completed our big shopping spree. Then we went to the VW dealer, in Georgetown, to have a couple of small adjustments made on Dan's car. Because we didn't have an appointment, it took longer than anticipated, but we were still able to get to Milt and Susie's by a little after 5:00.
They took us to a wonderful little seafood restaurant, Fish City Grill. I think the fried shrimp I ordered were the best I've ever eaten, anywhere! Yummm. And, we all opted to have dessert (I know . . . not what I should be doing, but a girl's got to have a little fun now and then!). Dan and Milt both had key lime pie. Susie and I had hot beignets with honey for dipping. Oh, my goodness, they were scrumptious!
We went to Milt and Susie's house for a short while after dinner, and then headed home, arriving a little after sunset.
I took more pictures, last evening, of some wildflowers not too far from our house. Sorry. I don't mean to overload the blog with bluebonnet photos, but this field was amazing. I'll only post one photo (though I took dozens). This picture was taken from the center of the field, and the flowers stretched as far behind me and to either side as they did in front. It was a little tricky taking pictures because everywhere you looked there were children or sweethearts posing for photos among the flowers. I know my pictures would have been a lot better if they had included a couple of beautiful grandkids!
Do you remember how beautiful our lawn was last year? It was the prettiest one on the block. Green. Thick. Weed-free.
Our lawn, last August.
But by fall we started getting some strange brown spots, that began as circle-shaped patches and grew outward. We thought it might just be going dormant for the winter, though it seemed a bit early. The guy who does our mowing and edging said it might be grubs. So we ran out and bought grub-killer and applied it. Then we did a fall fertilization, and anticipated that Spring would usher in another lush, emerald lawn.
Before anyone's lawn had greened up this spring, we gave ours another feeding, put down some more grub killer, and recently began watering every few days. But the lawn only greened up in a few, sparse areas. The brown remained brown, and continued to spread. At first it was only in the front yard, but now the back yard is also sick.
The same front lawn as above, this spring.
Today we talked to the owner of a local nursery. We brought pictures of our yard for her to see. She asked us what brand of fertilizer we have been using. We told her, and she said, "Oh, don't ever use that brand on St. Augustine grass. It puts too much nitrogen in the soil all at once, and that encourages the growth of a fungus called brownpatch, which kills off the lawn." She prescribed a series of three treatments that we need to do over the next six weeks or so in order to kill the fungus, which is, apparently, still alive and well in our soil. But the grass is dead. The small patches of live grass could, theoretically, put out runners and spread, if we were able to keep them alive, but very slowly. The long-term prognosis is that we'll probably need to re-sod or put new plugs in, after we've killed off the fungus. Then we need to start using a fertilizer that has time-released nitrogen, to try to keep this disease from returning.
We have a little playground in our neighborhood. Nothing spectacular.
Nothing spectacular, that is, until you turn and look south from the playground toward the adjacent open field. Your eyes will be treated to a sea of wildflowers this time of year. Mostly bluebonnets, but also Indian paintbrush (the orange ones) and a scattering of yellow ones (wild mustard? not sure).
Mom arrived on Monday, April 7, for a week-long visit. She flew from Carlsbad to Dallas, changed planes in Dallas and flew into Waco Regional Airport, where I picked her up. It was a long day for her. The flights, themselves, weren't long, but she had a 2-1/2 hour lay-over at DFW.
The main purpose of her visit was to tour the three assisted living homes that had made my short-list of contenders. I previewed a number of places, for her, over the past few weeks and narrowed the list down to what I felt were the three best choices. She has decided she is ready to let someone else do her cooking, cleaning and laundering. And she's certainly deserving of some pampering, as she approaches 88 years old!
The bluebonnets are blooming all over Central Texas now. Here's Mom standing in a patch of her soon-to-be state flowers!
Each place we visited had some pros and cons. One was absolutely resort-like and had the largest apartments, but probably wouldn't accommodate her as she ages further; one was walking distance to our house, but we found it a bit dingy and tired looking inside; and one was perfect except that the apartments didn't have full kitchens - only kitchenettes. In the end, we chose that last one, Stoney Brook of Belton. Mom said it was the one that "felt like home." It's just four years old, and has such a pleasant, fresh interior, with lots of natural light and all the amenities anyone would want. Everyone we met as we toured - whether staff or resident - seemed happy and welcoming. As we thought about it a little longer, the issue of having only a kitchenette didn't seem to be that big of a deal. With all meals being provided, Mom will only need to have space to fix coffee, snacks, and her morning toast. (She doesn't eat a full breakfast, so will probably have her coffee and toast in her room.) And they have a little bistro, open 24-hours, with a convection oven available for the residents to use if they want to do some baking.
Stoney Brook is located in Belton, which is the little town just south of us. We timed it -- it takes 12 minutes from our front door to theirs. That's much better than the 8 hours we are apart right now.
So, Mom put herself on the wait list for a "one-bedroom grande" apartment, as seen here:
The grandes are all situated on corners of the building, so daylight comes into the living room from two sides, making it a space with lots of natural light. Some of them, though not all, have access to a small private patio. We don't know how long it will take for one to become available, but she has offered to take a smaller apartment, temporarily, if it comes open sooner, and then to make the final move when the one-bedroom grande is available. She's very anxious to make this move! Dan and I, of course, are also looking forward to her being closer, and happy for her in this new adventure.
I put her back on the plane in the wee hours of this morning, and she's already back home where she's beginning the sorting, selling, donating, packing process.
You might recall that last spring we had a bird's nest on top of a column on our front porch (see here). What I failed to tell you about was the terrible mess that bird and her four babies made! We were very happy when they finally left the nest, allowing us to hose and scrub down the brick column and the concrete porch below. And we decided NOT to rent that space out to another pair of birds, ever again!
Well, here it is Spring again, and guess who showed up, uninvited, and tried to move in! So before they had much work invested in their nest, we hosed it down and told them to find another place. But the next day, they were back again, starting work on a bigger and better home.
The war was on! Human brains against bird brains . . . a no brainer, right? Out came the hose and a ladder. We (as in Dan) cleaned off the beginnings of the second nest, told the birds to go find a tree, and put up a "No Vacancy" sign, in the form of a plastic jar, filled with water (for weight), that left no room for a nest. For a good part of the afternoon, we heard the angry birds, perched on the eves of the garage, opposite their desired property, squawking their claims of discrimination to the entire neighborhood. But we had won the battle . . . or so we thought. Here's what greeted me when I locked the front door, before bed, last night.
And they are still there this morning, looking smug and victorious.