Watching Nature-Palmetto State Park-Texas

Watching nature;) I do it for pleasure and photography, not quite sure what Rocket and Groot were thinking when they decided to go deer stalking, tried to tell them about the “small” and “far away” differences but they cared not a whit;)

This young doe was quite tame, I walked by talking to her but she decided Groot did look quite fearsome and slowly moved off into the bush, Groot wanted to give chase but we told him was a state park and everything was protected…ahhhh…just one deer please! Nope…Rocket watched for awhile on his walk and then decided perhaps walking along the fence looked like more fun, they were after all, awfully large;)

This is a lovely park. I had a daft moment as we pulled in Sunday, went to the trailer camping area only to find our reserved site occupied..sigh…brain fart…it was Monday our reservation. We drove back out to the park headquarters and were told that no, there were no other spaces available but just down the road the Elks ran a small RV park as well, so off we went. It was within walking distance. We found a site, one of two trailers there so not a problem, and not a soul to be seen. Honour system up at the front, not too tough. There was no water due to a line break ( that may explain the empty park) but 50 amp service and lovely trees and dozens of monarchs flitting about! Paradise as far as I’m concerned;) and a bit of weak sunshine trying to make its way through the clouds.

At 11:30 the next morning we went back to check in at the park and ran into a delightful ranger who obviously loves her job and parks-such a pleasure after the grumpy camp host at the CCC campground near Corsicana. She was filled with information not only about Palmetto park but other parks along our way. Wonderful to interact with this kind of human:)

The park is named for the dwarf palmetto, which grows abundantly in the park. The San Marcos River runs through the park. The Oxbow Lake, initially created by flood waters, is now independent of the river and is spring fed. There are many bogs throughout the park that are surrounded by dense vegetation, giving the park a jungle-like atmosphere. Many of the bogs are dry this time of year it seems in this very small, 270 acre park, but it is a marvel to behold this semi-jungle like setting in a relatively dry and rolling hill landscape that surrounds it. It is an unsettling landscape with a primeval feeling to it.

Located between between Luling and Gonzales are the Ottine wetlands (pronounced “Ah-teen”. Named for Adolf Otto and his wife, Christine, who in the late 1800s founded the tiny village just north of where the park is now…there seem to be a huge number of very German names in the area! Deutschtexaners…ha! ). These wetlands, which make up part of the park, are believed to be at least 12,000 years old and are an example of a relict ecosystem, in which a type of habitat is able to thrive in geographic isolation from its original, larger community. In the case of the Ottine wetlands, the combination of a periodically flooding San Marcos River, a high water table (at one time, at least), and artesian springs resulted in the sort of boggy refuge you’d more likely come upon in the southeastern United States. Right now it is mostly dry except where water is being pumped up from an artisanal spring.

The park was constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps. The Refectory-had to look that one up-a room used for communal meals in an educational or religious institution was built between 1934-1937. It is beautiful work of local stone, primitive yet not. Not far away a path leads down to a low water crossing area across the San Marcos River that connects the tent sites with the RV/Trailer ones. This is a small park, only 18 RV sites with electric and water, a quarter are currently closed as water lines are being replaced. The sites are well spaced and shaded, really lovely. We nearly drove into the tent area and the ranger stopped us, said we wouldn’t be getting out once we got in!

Now for some sunshine…which never materialized:( cold, windy and temperatures hovering just about freezing were what we had, but hey, at least no snow! and it was quiet, few bird chirps, a lone Cooper’s Hawk could be heard crying and a few lbb’s (little brown birds) high in the trees. Wrong time of year for bird watching I think but the lovely White Tailed Deer made up for it! The paths are lovely, the plant life quite interesting with hanging moss and ferns, epiphytes I believe, it has an ancient air to it:)

Is it a place we would come back to? Certainly. Perhaps when it is warmer in the Spring headed back! And the first park since Canada that has recycling! Yeah! Greta would be pleased! Next stop, Del Rio and more of Texas! What a difference a bit of sun makes! Stay tuned! We are going through”God’s Country” according to the billboards;)

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Cowboy Churches? Concealed carry classes and 30.06 signs…Texas and West

I start to really feel like a real curmudgeon when I can’t find something nice to say about where we are/ humanity wise, not the nature that is around us that I consider to be my church, my spiritual place, but the towns and cities we pass through. I’m not Miss gregarious but I do talk to people and respect everyone’s decision to live the life they want, but I can still ponder those decisions made by others…can’t I? Of course I can, just not too loudly in the open carry states;) This park has 30.06 signs…Handguns prohibited, Concealed carry prohibited, someone complained on Google reviews about not being able to protect their family here…WTF??? What is this crazy world we are passing through! Along the highway signs proudly proclaimed “Learn to shoot your pistol here” and “Concealed Carry School”..missed getting a shot of those but along with the “$79.50 divorce” sign (not including court costs) I think I might understand, about the cheap divorce I mean…Mike asked if he should be worried…not a chance;)

So I “googled” cowboy church and it is exactly what it sounds like, a church made for cowboys. The services include country music and visual props of cowboy culture, such as tents, wagons and rustic fences. Baptisms might be held in a stock tank, the metal tubs that normally hold drinking water for ranch animals, hopefully washed out, they do get a large algae buildup in warmer climates;) They might ride to church on their horses…that’s a green way of transport on Sunday;) From what I’ve read a couple of decades ago only a few of these churches existed but now it is one of the fastest growing cults (dare I say that?) in the US and Canada. Humans never cease to amaze me how incredibly weird they are, or their need to seek some higher power for their after life. I’m a strong believer in live for the here and now…no promises down the road;) Now, as you may have guessed, I’m not Christian, I’d say I am agnostic, there is something out there but not a dude in a white robe with a long beard that sent his son down for a visit and quick crucifixion;)

So, outside of Corsicana, Texas we found a lovely state park, they had 30.06 signs at the entrance: Handguns prohibited/Concealed Carry prohibited….hallelujah! Sounds more like our kind of place:) Not actually something I even think of, but, this is Texas;) When we arrived Thursday it was overcast and chilly and we had the park to ourselves, no one in the guard booth on the way by so we made our way to our site and parked. The camp hosts did drop by later:) Seems they are required to close from 12-2pm..nice lunch hour:)

These are nice widely spaced sites along the lake/reservoir, you can see the dam from the trailer across the way. I thought it would be bird mecca but it has been quite quiet, a lone Downy woodpecker, a shy Mockingbird (that is a first) a few grass nibbling birds but my feeder and suet remain untouched. Black Vultures and Crows seem to form in large schools over the lake and flocks of white pelicans can be seen landing across the lake but few birds nearby:( The ones that are are incredibly skittish…The Heron and Great Egrets take off as soon as you get even close enough for a telephoto. I find that behaviour really odd. Most park birds are used to some human intervention, these birds almost panic when approached. Could be that because it is hunting season everything is on edge, I wasn’t about to wander into the bush;) I did get up early, heard an owl hoot and sunrise was glorious this morning at 6:30 and very, very quiet:)

On Friday the long weekend people started to arrive, oh well, there goes the peace but it is still a lovely spot! Down the road is a BBQ truck, a hop and a skip from the State Park entrance, Big Bo Sherms food truck. Brisket sandwiches and BBQ plates. He was chatty, asked us where we were from and where we were going, “A state park near San Antonio, then Del Rios” Mike replied…”Fine, IF you like Mexicans” was his reply…YUP, we do not only like, but love Mexicans…asshole…hard to chew my sandwich after listening to that, I wanted to spit it out…Boycott Big Bo’s….but wait..there is more to come sadly…

Sitting quietly, the grass became alive with fluttering wings. I missed a pair of Monarchs dashing by but these other three are new to me! A beautiful Orb Weaver was repairing her web, spinning silk to close the gap under a shelter by the beach. Grasshoppers and crickets jumped with each footstep-so nice to see life! It saddened me to see later some children and adult campers walking by had knocked down and most likely killed the orb weaver…only for being a spider. What is wrong with people? This is really getting to be the curmudgeon chronicles…

We pulled out Sunday morning, handed in our pass to the old geezer who was watching his Westerns on the TV when we checked in, he was chatty, looked at our South Dakota plates, figured us for one of his tribe I guess, where are you headed he said…West and then to Mexico we told him, “After what happened there this week!!!” I’m assuming he meant the Mormons….I asked him how many Americans killed Americans in the US this week…he shut up and turned his back on us…good riddance to another ass. Just saying, Waco is right down the road…what is wrong with these people? First the BBQ guy, then this one…because we look like you DOES not mean we think like you. I will be silent no longer to these old fools and their racism…

Makes me feel a bit sick to my stomach every time this happens. I try to brush it off, isolated instances but no…I’ll retreat back nature and it’s amazing beauty and try to keep my distance from people like this.

Saludos amigos and stay tuned for hopefully some kinder people as we make our way westwards…

What a difference a week makes…the curmudgeon chronicles:)

One last visit to the dock before it came out and the water was turned off…time to head South. The constant honking of geese reminds us of migration, ours included. We will so miss this spot and all it’s wonderful qualities, so, until next Spring shall we say:)

The weather forcast was not looking good, below freezing and possible snow by the end of the week, time to pack up and head South, the most direct way possible. We lined up a few stopping spots and did a couple of 4-5 hour jumps, longer than we usually do to leave the gray behind and look for a hint of sun:) The border at Thousand Islands was a breeze with a lovely fellow who used to be stationed in San Diego and there we were, back in the U.S of A….

One night in an RV park North of Scranton, another West of Chambersburg, PA, where the bail bond stores outscored the liquor stores…0_0…and finally for a two day stay at Natural Bridges, Virginia. We’ve been here before and a bit of sunshine and hiking after three straight days of driving and sunless days were in order. Rocket behaved like a champ for his first long journey out, bugging his older sister like little brothers do, exploring the truck, playing with all and anything he could find, then settling in for long naps with Groot…what a kitten!

This is a beautiful, easy hike up the Cedar River to the Lace Falls. The leaves were turning, the walk was quiet except for a few camera questions and nice chats with other photographers. We stayed two nights at the KOA in Natural Bridge. A beautiful wooded setting with chickens roaming free, great place the cats said, Rocket was determined to have chicken for dinner but those are smart old hens;)

The first night was a wild night of wind and rain, tornadoes touched down to the West of us as a cold front came through, passing us by thankfully! The next morning dawned cool but sunny and glorious to see the sun! Robins were out and Carolina Chickadees. I saw a few woodpeckers high in the trees as well.

The local feral cat was sunning herself as her two kittens kept watch from under a KOA cabin. We donated our roast chicken from a few days before to them and they gobbled it all up gleefully. I told Rocket if the feral cat Mama hadn’t gotten a chicken, I doubt he would. Overall a quiet place except for the overzealous leaf blower…if there were a few things on earth I could ban, those would be on my list;)

Our next jump was to Sevierville, Tennessee. a four hour hop for an overnight stay at a “Christian” RV park…0_0…no lightning strikes were recorded and we made it in and out in one piece;) The cows in the field next door had the cats a bit worried but we assured them it was for one night only;) This is such an odd area-Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s Disney World) is just down the road, enjoy a show on ice including hillbillies, gateway to the Smokey Mountains and of course, places you can rent an assault rifle to fire for fun…

Next hop was to Alabama, another 4 and half hour journey but worth the drive and a two day stay-Oak Mountain State Park-it is a gem we’d found on a previous run through this part of the country and we were determined to come back. We came in through the back gate from the 459 to Cahaba Valley Road. I have never seen so many churches per square mile along dotting the landscape along this road, and they are mongo churches! Not quaint parish ones but thousands of square feet of your non-profit Christian donations going to build these monstrosities…It’s a steep climb up to the back gate gate but doable, forgot we couldn’t make the turn by the gate to go left but simply used the right hand lane as our own to get past the ranger’s booth, the lovely lady ranger laughed waved us past, no problem, this happens all the time:) “A” loop is our place to go, at the end, close to the lake and paths sites 26-29 are the best:) There are a lot of tent sites here as well, wonderful spacing in some, really crowded in others, you have to pick and choose:) Full hook up, $30 a night, wooded with paths along the lake and we knew exactly what spot we wanted, there were several but this was perfect. Forest behind and woods and ravines, cat heaven! And those reflections on the lake…beautiful!

We left by the back gate again but took the Cahaba Valley Road South to the 65 North back to the freeway past what must be Birmingham’s horsey suburbs. I’m not a big fan of some of the Southern architecture, those enormous white pillars scream ostentation to me…they make me cringe alongside the numerous McMansions dotting this road. While I appreciate Mother Natures natural beauty preserved here it has an odd feel, I told Mike, I just don’t feel welcome here, maybe it is just the crazy times we live in but after a somewhat uninspired $24 breakfast at Waffle House ( yes, we can do much better aboard Myrtle for a quarter of the price-it’s a once a year driving through the South thing) before we did our grocery shopping it left me feeling not uneasy, but sad. The forced friendliness of employees paid to appear cheerful is not how I like to start my day…Do people like that? or am I turning into a curmudgeon? Wait Mike just asked “turning”? Ha! On a positive note…Here’s a fun town!

I could have this as my address:)

Mike was getting tired of the 4 plus hours jumps so we picked a few three hour trips as we turned West across Alabama and Mississippi. So far the I-81 until Knoxville had been pretty smooth traveling, a few bits of road work and drivers who couldn’t/didn’t look ahead but otherwise good roads but so much traffic. The I-20 was no exception. Truck after truck after truck….and where were my crazy billboards. A few years back the “(855) for truth” crazy christians owned most of the billboards along the freeways, their billboard budget must have run out;)..aww….what to do while Mike is driving;) Plan our next stop! Roosevelt Lake Dam State Park in Mississippi…

… you can tell I’m following a lake trend here:) How could you resist? I made a reservation online for the last spot it said on the lake…it was a quick one mile off of the I 20 but felt like you were in the wilderness, a few trailers and Rv’s occupied some sites but it felt fairly empty. This park looks like it has seen better days, like many state parks. The roads need work, the shoulders are breaking apart, potholes to be avoided and the roads and turns are very narrow…but not impossible. Would I bring a 44′ trailer in here…NO…we finally found our site at the CCC campground, no one at the gate house, maps were faded and hard to read but we did decipher them and figured out which way we had to turn. After getting to our reserved spot, we tried to back in before giving up and taking another one further down. The roads were so narrow and the ditches so deep you could not swing to make the turn. We took the last spot at the end, #92 and I called Reserve America to make sure it was not reserved for the night. There were no posts with numbers, no reserved signs, nothing to indicate the spot was free or not. Reserve America was good, saying they didn’t have a reservation so to go ahead and take the spot but try to find a camp host or ranger as well. Finally found a number up at the gate house on the faded maps, not the friendliest of rangers but told them what we did and they said “Fine, we’ll note it” never did see a camp host or ranger…I should remember to take more pictures of the spots we are in, we never did quite get level the slant towards the lake was so great but hey, it was one night:) I read some of the reviews later on about the park and facilities and they were not very cheerful.

The cats spent the afternoon with us wandering around near the lake, climbing trees, not so many paths as Oak Mountain but there was a duck family that they found very interesting:) and we could leave the window open ALL night it was so warm. The traffic noise from I-20 was quite audible but it is a nice one nighter, certainly not a destination stop, but better than any RV resort:)

The next morning was gray and windy, no sunrise shots or reflections…time to move on to another favourite spot from previous travels. Beaver Dam campground in the Kisatchie National Forest North of Minden. It is a few miles out of the way but we so enjoyed it, huge spacious sites, neighbours hardly in sight and a fantastic variety of forest floor mushrooms!

and yes…more lake views;)

Beaver Dam Campground is located in the Kisatchie National Forest, the only National forest in Louisiana. It is nestled in the forested piney hills and hardwood bottoms of seven central and northern parishes. It is part of the Cenozoic uplands and has large areas of longleaf pine forests. No camp host was at the campground and it was first come first serve according to their website so we cruised along until we found the perfect spot and backed in. These sites are HUGE! Brand new tables and fire pits, the price has gone up over the last few years but it so quiet, peaceful and for $25 a night with electric and water ( and really good drinking water from the tap as well!) it can not be beat. Site #11 was perfect but 7-13 would all be fabulous as well. Views to the lake, small paths leading to the shore and mushrooms wherever you look!

Skip the fried chicken at Cottons in Minden, it looked good but…no. Everything seems to be a weirdly grotesque kind of McMansion or it needs a coat a paint. It has the air of being left behind and lingering with a mild desperation for something better. Is this what the Republicans do for a state? The local water/ice refill station along the highway filters were so clogged you got a gallon and a half of water when you paid for 3 gallons, we ended up dumping it out it smelled so strongly of chlorine, and that is purified water? and it is a dry parish! Perish the thought;) Dixie Inn next door is not but hey, great campground, but we limited it to one night as another rain front was coming in and we were going to check out a new state campground after Corsicana, Texas for three nights of rest! But I saved the best for last, the crazy billboards started started to appear along the I-20-a whole new fresh batch!

This Gordon lawyer bible talking guy made the very bumpy drive through part of Shreveport very amusing as well as the scattering of Jesus billboards…such a very odd country we are passing through:)

Looks like we’ll be getting fresh tortillas soon and wondering at the meaning of the “Cowboy” Churches with huge cow penning arenas. Could it be a homage to the old bad ass Yahweh God of the old testament? Busting balls and broncs? Stay tuned and we’ll be looking for the truth..it’s out there, along with Google;)

Cowboy Churches????

Fall at the lake

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono

The early morning sun hits the trees and creates a golden glow over the changing colours. I call this bathrobe photography;) here I sit in my pyjamas, jacket and plush robe to keep everything warm as frost is in the air and the stillness of the lake is mesmerizing:) Loons calling in the distance…hard to leave.

September started with snapping turtle rescue after we went to take some farewell pictures of the Lee family as they sold their home at the end of the road. Baby snapping turtles were emerging from the gravel and getting lost and stuck so we started to scoop them up and set them loose in the lake! I could swear I still see a head popping up every now and then and wonder if it was one we set loose!

The Tussock Caterpillars are literally falling out of the trees!

“Some of the hairs on this caterpillar have barbs, and can get stuck in your skin. They then break off, leaving small ‘little spears’ in your skin which can cause an allergic reaction. The longer black hairs do contain a venom and when these get stuck in your skin they can inject a chemical. If these hairs break off, excess chemical can also be spread onto the surface of your skin. Both situations can cause an allergic reaction. Is the hickory tussock moth caterpillar poisonous? No, however it is venomous.”

So, best not to touch, at least we keep telling the cats that! A new batch of chipmunks are out and the cats are dashing too and fro on their leashes running after them. We uncovered a beautiful Blue Spotted Salamander under a log in our travels and the resident Orb Weaver Spider that lives in my clothespin bag has been relocated;)

Rocket is growing so quickly! He has taken to his leash well and gallops from place to place with one of us running behind, everything is a toy, every new scent is worth stopping for:)

Bracket fungus and mushrooms are growing out of the paper birch trees, they must have some kind of symbiotic relationship! Fascinating to see. Amanita Muscaria are popping up in the lawn-it is said the vikings took these before raids…making them a bit more berserk than they were already;) speaking from my Swedish lineage;)

The farm stands beside the roads are overflowing now. On the way to see the horses we pass by Miller’s Bay Farm with all their goodies. Fresh potatoes and veggies and every kind of squash and gourd imaginable! On the Scotch Line outside of Perth Vintage Vittles has the best tomatoes we have eaten in a very long time, ripe and juicy, all sizes and colours, something for every recipe imaginable as well as herb and flower beds covered with migrating Monarchs and other butterflies! I got so carried away with the butterflies I forgot to photograph the tomato stand!

The horses are starting to grow their winter coats, never too soon to be woolly! The donkeys are shaggy again as well:) It seems their Summer coats only last a month, they shed out their winter ones, and grow them back! ha! We helped Jennifer at the barn lay gravel and stone dust in all the stalls and alleyways, the cats watched from a distance, too much tractor noise! This is a sad Summer, Simon, the beautiful tabby with the golden belly went missing, we all miss him:(

Mike’s cousin Philip and his wife Christina came to visit from Germany. Their wonderful son is going to school in Toronto and they made the trip up for a few days to stay at the cottage. Lot’s of cooking, a visit to the horses and a trip up for pancakes at Wheelers Maple and a side trip to Ragged Chutes to see the start of the Fall colours was great fun!

The walk in was stunning with the changing colours and leaf strewn paths. This is private property but the family allow foot traffic and not a bit of garbage to be seen, so nice that folks respect that! The bridge looked like it washed away this Spring that crosses the river, sad, as I wanted to photograph the area from the other side. They tolerated my tripod toting and long exposures relaxing beside the river:)

And no frost, yet, here by the lake. The mornings have been a few degrees above freezing, the tomatoes may still ripen;) A short paddle around the Three Sisters Islands on a calm morning showed some beautiful yellows and oranges. Our side is mostly pines so the view to the West has been a treat! Those oranges and reds!

Every walk is a burst of colour. The cats are chasing the leaves as they tumble down, in another week, most will be bare I think. A few days of rain have left everything smelling like the earth-decay-but not a bad smell, just the forest replenishing itself. The birdsong has died down, the hummingbirds are long gone and only the Winter regulars are showing their faces.

The last campfires with friends and neighbours, and views out the screened in porch. The plexiglass is on now, much to the cats chagrin, it was better with just the screen they say to watch the chipmunks and birds at the feeder…and those sunsets….

I don’t think I will ever tire of those colours:)

As the temperatures shift, out come the socks and toques, gloves and sweaters. Some days are downright chilly, others are warm beyond belief, it is the time of change. A last long hack out on the snowmobile paths left the horses sweating after a few short burst of trots and canters, Maya is feeling good, she is in wonderful shape, looking and feeling lively! Get out that lunge line! Dusty is happy to be left to eat!

I can hear the weather clock ticking…we want to go before the snow flies and also before the campsites start to close. Many close Oct 15 as we head South, some by the end of the month, we are taking it one day at a time, still things to do before we leave for the year. Friends still to visit, one last trip to the horses bearing carrots and boxes of sugar cubes…so easy to put off leaving…especially when you get a lovely afternoon like this….just makes it that much more difficult to say goodbye…

Stay tuned amigos…there maybe a few more lake shots before we go! Ha!

A chill in the air-where did Summer go?

This is a novel, brace yourselves;)….that first chilly morning, when you can see your breath early and the mists are rising off the lake…is it an end to Summer? I hope not, it seems it just began! I seem to be working from today backwards in time this month:)

The Perth Fair is over, another year of photographing kids and adults enjoying themselves and it was a beautiful day. No thunderstorms to drown the mood or frost in the air that day:) Kristyn and her family did a wonderful job, prizes, judges, a familiar announcer, only about three feet taller than when we last saw her 12 years ago;)

The costume class is always one of my favourites and it did not disappoint this year, The bee and the spider were my favourites even after a few costume mishaps, with the legs falling off the spider;)

The ferris wheels in the background and a visit to the agricultural tent, always a must! Sadly every year it seems the Fair is a bit smaller, fewer people and horses, not sure why, it is such a wonderful venue. Where else can you see mini horses driving past their giant Clydesdale cousins!

It seems the Summer has gone by in a blur, ups and downs for me. Emotionally reeling at times, at times just asking myself if I can get over the sadness chronicles, a journal I started after my father died. We haven’t just been locked inside all Summer though. At the end of August we uprooted and went to to Starfest, an astronomy festival North of Toronto. It was a wonderful break from the routine of Airbnb cottage cleaning to a week filled with geeky friends and lots of laughter, a needed break after my Father’s memorial.

So, these guys sleep a lot during the day so I get to mosey about walking the creek at the River Place RV Park and looking for photography subjects as well as bringing them late night warm out of the pan muffins, will have to make that a tradition!

Going North to Owens Sound we stumbled across a field of sunflowers, what a glorious sight full of honey bees!

Mike finally got to meet a old Facebook friend and fellow solar photographer Alan Friedman, they call themselves Mr. Sun and Mr. Moon. What a lovely man! I pushed Mike to put some of his lunar photos into the Starfest Photography contest and he came away with some wonderful trophies for first place, my Milky Way on Otty Lake also won a prize:) Sweet! Mike’s work is truly astounding, he is quite humble but I think he considered one of the finest lunar photographers out there:)

Did I mention just prior to leaving for Starfest I greatly complicated our lives? I really am going from present to past here today! Ha! A kitten…yes, a kitten. I know, I know, what was I thinking, it’s not as if we don’t have cats. Groot is three this year, Gamora is two, Puffy will be 20 years old in a few weeks…the devil made me do it, and perhaps some kind spirit push from my Dad. It seems before every Starfest I am flying off to something, usually not planned, this being my Dad’s memorial service in Vancouver. While my amazing brother and I were there we went through a storage unit and took home several boxes of childhood photos and also of my father’s early and later life after my mother absconded with us. So may smiling pictures of my Dad with cats, I have to admit I was laughing and chuckling, showing my brother in the dim storage room light one shot after another of my Dad with a cat on his lap, in his arms…my Dad never had a cat. The neighbours cat, his beautiful wife Gloria told me would come over every afternoon and sit with him…We also discovered what a good hearted shit disturber he was with his friends with photo after photo showing a side we never much had the opportunity to see…well, this little kitten, is a shit disturber of the most glorious, kind and fabulous way. I knew as soon as I walked into Pet-Valu he was staring at me from the moment I saw the kitten box…he was mine, we had to drive home and then I made Mike drive back…..this is usually Mike’s job! Kitten collecting!

I was so worried someone else would have adopted him, Mike was speeding…We named him Rocket even before we signed our lives over to forever care for him, as if that will be an issue;) They didn’t even have his paperwork yet from the Welfare Society but there he was, driving home with us…Our latest member of Astrogypsies Guardians of the galaxy:) Two days later we hooked up the trailer and hit the road for Starfest, a 6 hour drive…he played, he explored, then fell asleep for the journey, a true traveler right from the start! How did the others react? Well, I was worried, mostly about Groot, he is a big jealous soft boy, doesn’t take kind to sharing…he loved him the moment he came in! “My kitten” he said, Gamora, well, she is a warrior princess and can’t give in easily, has finally started to play and cavort with him, as long as he doesn’t touch her tail! and Beezil…well, he has a wonderful new warm little friend to clean his face and love him.

Cuteness overload…need to rub that little spotted belly:)

So much for not being crazy cat people…sigh…I must come by it genetically, Mike has no excuse though;) Such a Summer, this little kitten is therapy. After flying across Canada on an early morning flight bound for Vancouver I wasn’t sure what to expect of a memorial, surrounded by people I did not know except my brother who was flying up as well. What a large country this is as you fly over! The lakes, the provinces, hey I even saw the Banff National Park campground, we flew over most of the roads we took to get here this Spring, but so quickly. I’d forgotten about the photos on the phone until today.

My Dad’s memorial was very touching. I wasn’t sure what to expect, how would it feel, to be a stranger in a room full of people I didn’t know sounded awkward but I was touched and left with my heart swelled in admiration for this man and his beautiful wife of nearly 40 years. She doesn’t remember anything you tell her after 15 minutes but I felt her love for my father, us and these friends as well. She is a treasure, as well as their many friends from high school to retirement. They were a sweet, kind, wonderful room of people. I felt so happy my father had surrounded himself with people like this. Going through his photos and memories, letters we had written as kids, all separated into different files by child, the emails printed out, including all the photos, lately has given me happiness, and grief at knowing how little I knew of this man, and how much more I came to know with these little bits of information. I did tell you this was going to be a novel;)…..

But it was good to be home…Mike and I are always together, hard to think of a time when we were not. From running our Equestrian Center in Canada to the building the house at the ranch in Baja and all points in between, we’re happiest when we are with each other, and the cats! Ha! It has been a long Summer full of ups and downs but when you can sit and watch the sun go down in a beautiful place full of nature, wherever you are in the world, I try to let my worries and grief sink with it, revel in it’s beauty and trust that tomorrow is a brand new day, full of beauty on this amazing planet we live on…Saludos amigos

Perth Fair Family Fun Show

The morning classes

The jumping classes