It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The end of February

February is winding down and this week I began to see the change (if you can call it that) in seasons.  We really don't have spring here in South Texas: it just gets warm and greens up.  It has seemed to me that this year we've had a more normal winter with cooler temperatures, but already we've had little spells where it has warmed up and then cooled down again after a few days.  I have to admit that this year I have enjoyed these winter days even though I do not like to be cold.  While I welcome the coming spring I also know that I'm going to miss these cozy winter evenings by the fire with the dogs piled around me.
This week I was surprised to see first one redbud in bloom and then two more close by.  Then I reminded myself that it is almost March and really not too early to see these early bloomers.
From a distance I also saw a low growing tree that was starting to put out white blossoms.  Keeping up with the traffic kept me from slowing down for a look; again, I was surprised.  The Arizona Ash trees have leafed out quickly; I never saw the buds, just noticed the leaves.  A neighbor's Monterrey Oak trees have also put out those lovely little delicate leaves that are a fresh, bright green.
I told myself not to even look for wildflowers this year.  We had very little rain in November which is when the seeds need moisture to start the germination process.  They will be light, like the past few years. 
We go to Daylight Saving Time a week from this Sunday.  I'm usually excited by this time change since it means more daylight in the evening and more time to be outside even though I will have to sacrifice an hour of sleep. Come on March, I'm ready!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ending the week right

It was time to end the week, put it to rest and move into the weekend.  No carrots, veggies, fruit and plain tuna for my lunch today.  It was time for the ultimate lunch.
I was easily able to justify having this for lunch.  I've felt lousy all week with a flu-like bug that's going around.  Work was full of stress and ridiculous situations that should have been avoided, although after two weeks of not being able to print that issue was resolved today.  The heater that caused me considerable pain week before last decided that now it really doesn't want to come on.  One of the cats ate part of a dracaena I had slipped into the house a few weeks ago and then choose the sofa as the place to do what cats usually do after eating a houseplant. I discovered last night that I have somehow lost some folders of pictures that were not backed up. On and on it went, nothing major but all frustrating when combined together. I needed some comfort food!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I live here

This was my lunch today:  Two cheese enchiladas, rice, beans, salsa and chips accompanied by several glasses of tea.

This was the view I enjoyed while eating lunch.  It was a comfortable 83 degrees this afternoon, with a slight breeze. 

Okay, so good food, nice scenery (loaded with history), and beautiful weather combined with the fact that it is February 17th seems to make this not too bad of a place to live. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trouble with the furnace

It is always a good idea to have an assortment of batteries on hand, not too many but just a small assortment of the usual sizes.  You never know when you'll need them and I found that to be true tonight.

The temperature has dropped steadily all  day.  By the time I got home it was around 40 degrees with an even lower wind chill.  Brrr, it was cold!  While the dogs were outside I left the inside back door open (I know, not energy smart but I do it anyway).  When they came in I thought to myself that it was too chilly to be doing that, but I knew that the heat would be running and quickly overcome the chill.  But a few minutes later it was still chilly so I checked the thermostat.  That's when I realized there was trouble - the screen was blank, nada, zip.  So after flipping the switch from heat to off to cold and back again and no response I was thinking, "oh no, oh no" to myself.  Time to troubleshoot.

First stop was the breaker box in the garage.  Maybe it just needed to be reset to start the blower.  No such luck, still nothing on the thermostat.  Next idea was to check the inside unit (at this point I was thankful that I insisted on a house with an inside unit and not one in the attic).  I suspected that the pilot light had gone out and I would have to re-light.  I do not like messing with gas and remembered from another house that it was a three handed operation.  When I opened the door there was no glow through the little openings in the unit, so I thought that was the problem.  I was relieved to read the instructions on the door and find that the unit had a starter.  All it involved were a few easy steps to turn it off and then re-start. 

Easy enough I thought, but how do you get this thing open?  After a quick look on either side I determined that all I needed to do was pull the door off by pulling toward me. What I didn't realize was that the door was in two pieces.  I gave a pull on the middle of the door and then ka-whop I was hit in the face with what turned out to be the top door.  Specifically the top edge of the door caught the bridge of my nose.  I cannot even describe the pain I felt, it was tremendous, yet I managed to catch both doors before they hit the wood floor below.  Still in pain I managed to find the control knob and shut off the gas. 

While I waited to reset the pilot light I checked my nose.  Not too bad, just two red marks on my nose.  But what pain, almost a numbing pain that was breathtaking at the same time.  I attributed it to the sensitivity of the nose area and went back to getting the heat going. But the heat did not get going.  What am I going to do?  A fire in the fireplace would keep the living room okay for the evening and I could put extra covers on the bed.  The cats would snuggle in with me, but the dogs would be cold and I knew that I couldn't leave them in the bathroom with the overhead heater going all night either.  And, it would be really cold in the house by morning.  Brrrr.  And no hotel is going to let 4 yapping dachshunds stay over, not for any price.

I have a service contract with a local company to take care of the HVAC unit.  I checked on line to see what their hours are and thankfully they are open until 7 p.m.  A quick call and the guy on the line told me he might be able to get someone out this evening, and if not, first thing tomorrow.  Then I started describing what was wrong and what I had done (less the story about my nose injury).  After some discussion he asked again about the thermostat.  And then he told me that sometimes when thermostats go blank that all that is wrong is that the batteries need replacing.  What?  Batteries in this thing?  He told me to pull off the cover, and there they were.  Two corroded AA batteries. 

A quick trip to the pantry where the assortment of batteries waited, a quick replacement, and ta da those little numbers popped up and I heard the unit click on.  I was thankful that the batteries were a common size and not like the smoke detectors or garage door remote that use an odd size that I never have.  I was also thankful to have heat again and thought of those that do not.  I could have survived the night if I had had to, but I was very thankful that the problem was solved.  Hopefully, my nose won't look too bad in the morning.  I'm still in pain and have a headache.  Oh well, at least I'm warm.
Thanksgiving morning, 2013

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Some things take time

How old is this tree?
We live in a fast paced world, or so we think.  We want everything done right now, johnny-on-the-spot.  We want our food handed to us immediately when we are at the fast food pick up window.  If our computer doesn't react in two seconds we are complaining about the computer running slow.  And those traffic lights that take forever (1 minute in reality) to change.  Fast, fast, fast!

But I've been surprised in some of my reading to realize that in the course of history everything did not happen right away nor did it always happen just like it was planned.  Take for instance the founding of San Antonio.  Of course, the native Indians had been here a while.  Archeological evidence points to the first inhabitants going back to the Paleo-Indian period (15,000 to 7,000 B.C.).  The Europeans first came through here in 1691 on their way to missions in East Texas and agreed that this would be the ideal place to start a settlement that would serve as a way station for travelers to East Texas. They would return in 1709 to scout the area and finally establish the first mission (known today as the Alamo) in 1718.  A total of 27 years! It would be 1731 before the last three missions were relocated to the area from East Texas, a total of 40 years!

Another slow moving process was the establishment of a water system in San Antonio.  Citizens knew they needed a better sanitation system after a cholera outbreak in 1866, but it wasn't until 1877 that the first water system was put in place.  In 1925 the city would issue bonds to obtain ownership of the water system, a total of 49 years.

An even slower moving story is that of the San Antonio River.  The story is too lengthy to go into much detail here. Developing a plan to preserve and define the course of the river through downtown San Antonio was a slow, gradual process.  Citizens had always treasured the river and would be influential in preventing well-meaning business men from filling it in or cutting down all the trees (as recommended by one professional engineer).  Flooding was a major problem, too.  From the late 1800's on there would be committees, commissions, and political moves taking different directions to preserve and enhance the river.  The mid-1930's saw progress, but it wouldn't really be until the development of Hemisfair '68 that the River Walk would come to life.  This story continues even today as the river is still being developed for the enjoyment of citizens in a manner that preserves and protects the river and its banks.  Someone didn't just draw up the plan and say okay let's get going; it took time.  Things moved slowly.

So, how old is the tree in this picture?  I don't have a clue, but I do know that it did not grow quickly to this size.  I have two of the same oak trees in my back yard.  They are probably 40-45 years old and while they are large trees they do not compare with this one. Some things take time!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Icy Morning

Ice is not uncommon in South Texas, but it is not common either so when it does happen it is a bit of a novelty. When we had the icy morning a few weeks ago I realized when I finally left for work that the downspout for the front gutters had frozen over, so out came the camera.  Of course, this explained why the seam in that particular gutter had burst open a short time before!
The icicles were small, but at least we can say we had some!
These petunias didn't seem to mind the layer of ice.

The leaves in the frozen birdbath reminded me of fruit cocktail suspended in Jello!