Sunday, October 2, 2011

Galveston Yoga

I just got back from a Galveston trip with a group of yoginis for a wonderful weekend of yoga organized by our teacher, Rhonda. This was the first yoga retreat for me and best bud Ann Marie, as various factors (uh, time and money!) had kept us from taking advantage of earlier trips with Rhonda's group. Our expectations were high, and we were not disappointed!

We stayed downtown at the lovely Tremont House, within easy walking distance of the yoga studio, shops on the Strand, and Harborside Restaurants.

Here's a view of our room, which was comfortable, functional, and nicely decorated. My favorite features were the high ceilings, snuggly bathrobes, and the iPod dock.

Our two hour yoga classes on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning were held at The Yoga Haven, a great space at 2507 Market Street.

Kathleen, the studio director, is warm and welcoming, and taught our Friday night restorative class which was just what the doctor ordered for the end of a busy week, and to unstiffen from a long drive.

The entryway is an appealing area featuring all sorts of clothing, props, books, etc. that any yoga student would want to own. Looks like Nicole is shopping, but I'm not sure what she bought.

Upon entering the studio you're treated to a large room with bamboo floors, exposed brick, and natural light that is truly an inspirational space for yoga.

Rhonda taught the Saturday and Sunday classes, and crafted a perfect blend of meditation, inspirational readings, and asanas; everything from delicious relaxation with props to handstands. Go Betty!

The props weren't always used to relax -- here's Rhonda demonstrating how to use a metal chair to do a backbend.

I might send this photo to Ghost Hunters. There seems to be an apparition of Rhonda just behind Ann Marie! Most of my pictures of people in class didn't turn out very well, and I was mostly doing yoga and not taking pictures of other people doing yoga, so this isn't a comprehensive record by any means. (If you were on the trip and want to see more pictures, I'm going to post all of them, good and bad, in a photo album on my facebook page, so check there. Cynthia Reid.)

On Saturday morning we had an awesome meditation on the roof of the Tremont House.

The weather was spectacular; cool and breezy, and it was a great way to start the day!

So we didn't do yoga 24/7. There was time to squeeze in some great walks, a little bit of shopping, and a nighttime drum circle. And, oh yeah, the food!

On Friday night after yoga Kathleen was our hostess at the Oasis Juice Bar and Market, right around the corner from the studio. (Check out the link to their facebook page, and make it a destination on your next Galveston trip!) OMG what a meal! We had Spinach and Rice Casserole, Scarlet Quinoa with Beets and Cranberries, Velvety Carrot and Ginger Soup, and a Spring Mix salad. Adding to the enjoyment -- we were permitted to bring our own wine! I had 2 ginger snaps for dessert which were not Nabisco ginger snaps (thankfully), and macaroons were also available. A wonderful, delicious evening -- thank you Kathleen and all of your friendly helpers!

On Saturday night the meal wasn't near as healthy, and the service a little lacking, but a good time was had by all at Fisherman's Wharf, where I took many out of focus pictures like this that I won't bother sharing.

I managed to focus on Nelda and her husband Bob, but they were sitting across from me and it was my fourth try. Bob was the only male at our table of about twenty, and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself!

I'm not crazy about this pic that Rhonda took of Ann Marie and me, but at least she knows how to focus! And, it does prove I was there.

The yoga and food and Galveston were all great, but equally fun was getting to meet, or know better, the other women on the trip. Here are Sharon and Cynthia, lookin' good! Wish I had taken non-blurry pictures of everyone. Such a treat to spend time with all of you -- thank you for making the weekend so memorable!

Everything was perfect! ;-D Thank you Rhonda!!! Namaste, everyone!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Texas Bluebells

Summer in Texas is not my favorite season, especially this already too hot and dry one, but the appearance of the bluebells certainly sweetens it for me! They seem totally unpredictable to me -- some years we have almost none, some years an abundance. This is a pretty good year for these beauties!

Our native Texas bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum), also known as prairie gentians, like lots of sun and fertile soil. At our place the soil is heavy clay, and they seem to come up where it has been hard-packed, like where the tractor has been. Their blue-green foliage is not eaten by grazing animals, but these flowers have become more rare by being over-picked, and thus not able to re-seed. It's easy to see why people like to pick them!

The tulip-shaped blooms are single, ranging from blue-violet to red-violet, with a dark center and beautiful yellow-orange stamens. I saw some gorgeous bluebells in the floral section at HEB, but they were double, so were not our natives. I read that lisianthus (yet another name for bluebells) are bred in Japan, where they can be purple, pink, or white. We usually have a few white ones pop up here, but they are rare.

The flowers grow in clumps that can get as tall as two feet. They make excellent cut flowers as they are tall and showy and last at least a week. It's a good idea to not pick more than one stem from each clump so there are still plenty of seeds for next year. I read that the stems can be cut back after the seeds have dropped, and that will yield a vigorous plant for next year. I haven't ever done this, but I'm going to try it this fall and see what happens.

Each clump will usually have blooms in all stages, from buds to barely open, to fully open, to spent. This makes the display last weeks and weeks. If you just have a few in the garden, deadheading the spent blooms would make the plant really attractive, but with hundreds in a pasture, it's not really my gardening style!

Mostly I just like to walk down there in the evening with a glass of wine and marvel at their beauty!

In spite of the drought we're in, the bluebells are doing well this year. Unfortunately I can't control the amount of sun or rain they receive, but I'm sure they'd like a little more rain. We had a little rain last night and they looked awfully perky this morning!

Half our property has trees and is very shady and we never see bluebells there, but sometimes one plant will pop up in a spot closer to the house, like this one by the pond.

Sometimes a lone bluebell will appear far from any others...

...and sometimes they appear in pairs.

Several beautiful clumps appeared in the vegetable garden, where they received extra pampering and water, and so are especially vigorous and multi-bloomed.

Sometimes they come up surrounded by friends of different species, and don't these bluebells and rudbeckias complement each other!

We appreciate them wherever they come up!

I love bluebells!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011


A few weeks ago when working in the garden I noticed some caterpillars on a dill plant. I'm not sure how I noticed them because they were teensy! This one was the big boy of the bunch -- others were so tiny they could barely be seen! I had made a butterfly cage a few years ago with some Master Gardener friends, but never had occasion to use it. By that I mean either I wasn't growing a host plant for butterflies, or the caterpillars were consumed by something before I ever noticed them.

But this time I was ready! I got the butterfly cage and took it down to the garden and put it over the dill plant. What you can't see here is that a little while later the cage was blown across the garden with a gust of wind, so I had to secure it in place with a couple of pieces of rebar.

Here's a close-up of the cage. If you go online you might see how to make one, but there are many different designs out there. We used fence wire (42") bent around into a cylinder and attached to itself, maybe 18" in diameter. Then it's covered with a black screencloth, sewn all the way down the side. The top is a circle of screencloth, attached with velcro so it can be put on and taken off.

The caterpillars got really big chomping on dill! I was a little afraid they would devour the whole plant and run out of food, but that wasn't the case.

Here's a peek inside the cage! Maybe you can spot a couple of the caterpillars.

Pretty soon the caterpillars started forming their crysalises. By the way, this plural form is correct, CRI sa liss ez, but so is chrysalides, cri SAL un deeze. I never did see one forming, but each one attached itself to the inside of the cage with a silken thread, and then the caterpillar sheds its skin and forms the pupa. The chrysalises can be green or brown, depending on where they're attached, and the coloration is a camouflage device.

When the caterpillar is ready to pupate, it gets in a "J" position and spins the cord to attach itself. This isn't a very good picture, but it shows a green chrysalis with a caterpillar directly below in the "J" position.

Here's the same pair from the outside of the cage.

Then you just have to wait! Swallowtails take 9 - 11 days to emerge. We had two fly off a few days ago, and then nothing for two days. This morning when I went to the garden I could see three butterflies inside the cage!

I took the top off the cage to release the butterflies. Here's one sitting by the empty chrysalis.

When I took the top off all three crawled up to the top and sat there for awhile drying their wings.

It must be an exhausting process!

Getting ready to go!

Side view -- isn't he (or she?) a beauty!

Top view is incredible also!

Almost ready to fly!

And -- the maiden voyage! So happy I captured it!