This Crazy Texas Weather!

There is an old saying in Texas that goes….

“If you don’t like the weather, just wait about fifteen minutes!!”

Our crazy Texas weather has definitely been all over the map this year.  We have come from the torrential and devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey, to a Fall season of anticipating cooler weather that just didn’t happen.  Then, suddenly temperatures dropped and low and behold we had a surprising early December snow! 

Now that it’s January, we have had an unbelievable second snow!  This time the temperatures dropped into the teens and we did not reach above freezing for three days!  This is quite unusual for Cypress!  I guess my secret wish came true! 

A typical January day in Cypress would be much like today, a sky of blue,  full of bright sunshine and hardly a cloud to be found.  We’re expecting a high in the mid sixties which is quite normal for this time of year.

However, last week we were huddled around the fireplace as the temperatures dropped below freezing and the city virtual came to a stop as schools closed and people were encouraged by the mayor to stay off the roads.  I know you might laugh at this if you live in the north, but this is really exceptional for south Texas.  Our city is not prepared to handle ice and those crazy drivers need to stay off the roads!

Although I have to say, I’m enjoying the return to normal temperatures, I did love the splash of cold and snow.  It was lovely to look at and wasn’t too bad for a winter walk if you bundled up!

I was surprised to find this bit of green palm frond among all the cold and snow!

Well, for now temperatures have returned to normal for us.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day and I won’t have to bundle up for my walk later!  However, come August when temperature are soaring into the nineties, I will be treasuring remember these memories of snow days and hoping they will come again.  

Wishing you many blessings today – Gerri 

 

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A Magical Morning

It’s a rarity to have snow in Cypress, and when it happens it’s beautiful and amazing no matter how quickly it passes. 

It was around midnight when I peered out my front window on the night of the great snow.  I was mesmerized by the beauty of the falling flakes.  When I realized the snow was actually sticking to the ground, I grabbed my jacket and boots to step outside my home to capture a few images while I could.  I knew the magical white covering wouldn’t last for long, and wasn’t sure if it would still be there when I awoke in the morning.

 

 

All night long I awoke every couple of hours to see if the snow was still there.  The next morning I was thrilled to see the snow still on the ground.  Again, I donned my boots and jacket and immediately headed to the pond to be amazed by the beauty.  No coffee needed this morning, as I was so excited to see the snow.  

The brief walk to the pond was amazing as the snow clung to the trees, bushes and rooftops.  Perhaps a half an inch of snow left a beautiful white blanket on the lawns. 

 

 

When I arrived at the pond, the beauty did not disappoint.  Although there was not much snow on the ground, the trees were resplendent with white.  The mix of fall colors with the new fallen snow made the scene all the more glorious. 

 However, even as I walked around trying to capture every bit of the sublime beauty, the snow was dropping from the branches of the trees.  I knew it would not last for long.

 

 

By the end of the day, there were only sparse lingering patches of snow on a few rooftop corners that hadn’t gotten much sun on this heavenly day.  As quickly as it appeared, the snow faded away leaving only a hope that perhaps if conditions are just right it will come again sometime.

In a year of catastrophic hurricanes, devastating fires, and destructive earthquakes God has graced us with a brief moment of wondrous beauty of nature.  It’s fleeting passing reminds us to savor each precious moment of it’s glory.  

As the resplendent colors of fall fade into the often dreariness of winter days, there is still beauty to be found in a bright, clear day filled with sunlight, or the beads of ice on shrubs and branches that glimmer like crystal.

If you truly love Nature, you’ll find beauty everywhere.

 – Vincent Van Gogh

Chacchoben Ruins, Costa Maya

If you are a lover of nature and history, the Chacchoben Ruins are surely not to be missed!  Located about 100 miles from the Costa Maya port, south of Cozamel,  these three excavated pyramids are surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle filled with an amazing variety of trees and plants.

You can follow a well maintained circular path that leads you to these ancient structures, while a guide gives you a wealth of information about the Mayans ancient religion and customs.  You cannot climb the pyramids, but there are stairs to climb to a raised area with a very impressive view of the area below.

Truly, I was as fascinated by the beauty of the massive trees and lush jungle as I was by the ancient pyramids.  The Spanish moss and Palm trees not only offer inviting shade, but also enhance the majesty of the pyramids.  The combination of nature and history creates an awe inspiring harmony that leads you to imagine what life would have been like for the Mayan civilization of so long ago.  

I think I would have been content to just wonder the path and relish in the magnificence of this amazing, tropical, jungle.  I am not aware of the age of some of these trees, but by the size of the trunks, I would think they had been there quite awhile.

If you choose to visit these amazing ruins, remember you are in a jungle and you might want some bug repellent for the mosquitoes.  There is some walking involved, and I think it would be rather warm and humid in the heat of summer.   Our visit was in October, and while there were a few mosquitoes, I found the weather to be fairly comfortable.  

Being an avid nature lover, history buff and photography fan, this magnificent archeological site turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.  

“Wherever you go, Go with all your heart.”   –   Confucius

Hope you all have the opportunity to satisfy an adventurous spirit.  –  xxoo Gerri

 

Cruising to Roatan, Honduras

I am so excited to share with you the events of last week.  I had the opportunity to cruise the Western Caribbean with my husband and other family members and I have to say what a wonderful trip it was!

We took Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas  leaving from Galveston and cruising to Roatan , Costa Maya and Cozamel. The ship itself was amazing with an incredible shopping mall, ice skating rink and magnificent shows and entertainment.  For the younger crowd there were some fantastic looking slides, a zip line and even a Flowrider which is a surf simulator.  I cannot imagine anyone being bored on this astonishing ship!

Personally, I spent most of my time relaxing and reading in the adult area pool and spa.  However, if I had been traveling with children or teens to cheer me on, I think I would have ventured out and at least tried one of the slides. I am really just a child at heart!  

Our first port was Roatan, an island off Honduras, known for it's beautiful, pristine beaches and magnificent snorkeling, coral reef and dive sights.  The morning we pulled in to port, I awoke to the most breathtaking sunrise!  

I am rarely one to leap from my bed at sunrise, but that's exactly what I did as we were pulling into port, with camera in hand ready to capture every moment.  Perhaps if I awoke to this kind of beauty every morning it would be easier for me to hop out of bed!

Our plan had been to zipline though the jungles of Roatan, but as we departed the ship the skies opened and the rains poured down, and our excursion was cancelled.  I have to admit I was a bit relieved as I was feeling squeamish about the prospect of ziplining.  I have a definite concern for heights! 


We regrouped, grabbed a taxi, and headed to the northwestern end of the island to West End Village.  West End has something of a bohemian vibe and is filled with restaurants, bars and scuba shops.  This area is where a majority of the scuba diving, fishing and water-based outfitters are located.  It is a fun area to visit and wander around, however the better beaches are up the road in West Bay.  

Our next stop was West Bay Beach, a dream location filled with beautiful, white sandy beaches.  West Bay is surrounded by the second largest reef barrier in the world and is considered to be one of the best beaches for snorkeling.  My husband and I visited this spot a few years back and it definitely features some amazing turquoise, blue water and excellent snorkeling full of marine life. However, since it was a cloudy day and we had planned to zipline, we opted not to snorkel and just enjoy the laid back beach vibe.

I really wish we had a bit more time to explore West End and West Beach.  It's my second trip to Roatan, and if you are a beach lover and especially if you're interested in the incredible marine life it is a spot not to miss!

I will return soon with more on our cruise.  Up next the Chacchoben Ruins in Costa Maya!

Until then, happy cruising!  xxoo Gerri

 

Anticipating Fall

The time has come to say goodbye to the long, lazy days of summer as we welcome in the coming of fall.  With this change there is definitely an air of excitement and anticipation.   You would think there might be some sadness as the lingering days of summer disappear into fall.  After all, summer is often a time of frolic and play.  But mostly I’ve observed eager anticipation for the change of seasons.

With the coming of fall we say so long to shorts and flip flops as we eagerly don jeans, boots, and sweaters.  Stores are filling their shelves with new fall decor and coffee shops are calling us to come try a pumpkin spice latte.  The beauty of the season is magnificent as the leaves transform from vibrant greens to the cozy red, orange and golds of fall.  As the days grow shorter and the air becomes chillier we anticipate quiet evenings by the fire with a warm blanket and hot cocoa. 

Autumn comes late to Texas, especially here in Cypress. It stays pretty green here until about mid November when a few of the leaves show a glimmer of color for a brief moment before falling from the trees. But even here, the subtle change of fall is in the air as the heat of summer gradually melts into the cooler days.  There is a noticeable difference in the coolness of the  morning and the evenings feel fresh and alive.  With the cooling temperatures, people have emerged from the comfort of air conditioned homes to take in the beauty of the season and enjoy walking, bike riding, and visiting with neighbors.    

Fall in Texas is like no other season.  Along with slightly cooler temperatures, festival season is right around the corner and soon each church will be filled with their own welcoming pumpkin patch.  A favorite fall activity is to attend one of the many festivals occurring either in the city or in one of the many small towns close to Cypress.  If you are a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV television show Fixer Upper, you may have heard Joanna mention the Round Top Antiques Fair that will be open for the next two weeks.  Literally miles of shopping with everything from fine antiques to flea market finds.  

Other popular festivals include Scarecrow Festival in Chapel Hill which benefits the preservation of history and historic buildings in the area.  This event takes place Oct. 14-15 and features gardening, artists, craftsmen, delicious food, live entertainment and activities for the children.  There is no charge for this event other than $5 for parking and is just a short drive outside of Houston.

On that same weekend and one of my personal favorites is the Bayou City Art Festival featuring a wealth of artists from around the country and benefits numerous nonprofit partners.  This event takes place right in the heart of downtown Houston surrounding City Hall and Herman Square.  Tickets are $15 and $5 for children ( children under 5 are free).  

Whatever your plans are for the coming month, I hope you take the opportunity get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.   xxoo Gerri

 

 

Hurricane Harvey – A Cypress View

I’m sure many of you have seen the news of Hurricane Harvey hitting the Texas coast and the destruction that followed.  As I write this we are into Day 2 of this catastrophe.  I live in Cypress, a suburban neighborhood northwest of Houston, and we are very fortunate here.  Although there has been what feels like an endless amount of rainfall and some flooding in the neighborhood, our street is draining and we are safe.  

 

Hurricane Harvey, Cypress, Texas

However, other Houston residents have not been so fortunate.  In a metropolitan area of six million plus residents, the city is at a stand still.  Businesses are closed.  The buses aren’t running. Schools are cancelled until after Labor Day.  Our church even cancelled services this morning because city officials have asked for everyone to just stay home!  And the worst is that many people are stranded in their homes and neighborhoods and can’t get out!  They are frightened which is understandable.  The streets are flooded and impassable.  The rainfall is hard and constant.  It is as if bucket fulls of water are being continuously poured on this city.  Yes, we get little breaks in the rain, but it is not a long enough time for the streets to drain before they start filling up again.

 

The miracle in all this is how the city residents are coming together.  People helping people.  Not just first responders and rescue teams.  People that own boats are out there offering to assist those in need.  There are no haters.  Just good people coming together to help in anyway they can.

 

Hurricane Harvey in Cypress, Texas

Some have criticized the news media for their hype.  However, I applaud the news media and our city officials.  How do you plan to keep an area of six million plus people safe from wide spread unprecedented flooding?  They asked people to stay home.  They warned people repeatedly of the dangers of driving into flood waters.  You get the word out about the possible dangers and worst case scenarios.  Many people are new to our city and have no idea what a hurricane and Houston streets can be like.  

 

There has been loss of life and I fear for what will be discovered as the days go on….and yet the rain continues.

 

Hurricane Harvey in Cypress, Texas

 

How you can help Hurricane Harvey Victims

American Red Cross  – call 1-800-red cross or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a donation

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services – call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to help

Catholic Charities USA – they have set up a website devoted to Harvey relief

Austin Pets Alive!– they have created a page on their website specific to Hurricane Harvey needs

 

**sources via abcnews.go.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Peaceful Banks of the Medina River

August is upon us, often known as the dog days of summer.  In the southern United Stares, August can be uncomfortably warm with relentless heat and humidity.  Southerners are growing ever so tired of the heat and yearning for the slightly cooler temperatures of fall.

The best place to spend these warm summer days is at the beach or the lake…. or at least in a cool refreshing swimming pool.  Another option is to visit one of the many rivers that wind through the Texas Hill Country. The water can be quite chilly and many rivers offer the cool relief of tubing or rafting.

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While we didn’t get away to the beach or lake last weekend, we did stumble across this pretty spot on the Medina River near Bandera.  It was peaceful and quiet, the perfect spot to take a moment to relax and take in the quiet beauty of the river banks.  Huge Cypress trees lined the banks offering plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun.  Actually, we were quite lucky that the recent rains had brought cooler temperatures, a huge improvement to the mid nineties of most August days. 

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I couldn’t get over the amount of birds that were wondering the banks and frolicking in the water.  I did a little research and to the best of my knowledge they were Graylag and Swan Geese with a few Muscovy Ducks mixed in.  (Thank you RH for your assistance on this!)  I went crazy trying to capture as many photos as I could of these amazing creatures.  

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We came to the river after having a late breakfast in Bandera, also known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”  Why it’s called that I’m not really sure, but I did find some hard to resist western boots in one of the local shops.  Another interesting tidbit about Bandera is that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie visited Bandera while taping their reality show The Simple Life.  If you happen to be a country music fan, Bandera was once called home to country musician Robert Earl Keen

 

We stopped for breadfast at the OST Restaurant in downtown Bandera.  O.S.T. stands for Old Spanish Trail, a route that was designated to improve highway access back in 1915.  The OST Restaurant opened in 1921 and today is one of the last original restaurants along the route.  It features a John Wayne room which features, of course, a plethora of John Wayne memorabilia.

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No trip to Bandera is complete without visiting the General Store.  If you want to experience a bit of Texas history, this is the place to be.  The store is filled with local treasures and there is even an authentic 1950’s ice cream fountain.  we did not sample the ice cream as we had just finished breakfast, but I’m sure it would be a delight!

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Overall, I really enjoyed out quick trip to Bandera, Texas and the Medina River.  Bandera is filled with a rich Texas history and left me with a desire to return and explore a little more. As they say in Bandera…..

When Life Gets Tough,

Cowboy Up…..

Maybe next trip, I’ll wear my boots! – xxoo Gerri

 

 

A Rainy Summer Day

As I look at the sky, I notice the gathering of dark water-laden storm clouds and wonder will we actually get some rain.  A bit later, I hear the patter of gentle raindrops as they slowly begin to fall.  The thunder rolls and the lightning strikes….. and, it has begun! A much awaited summer storm!

I know we equate summer days with lounging by the pool, relaxing at the beach, or perhaps a backyard barbeque. But one of my favorite summer events is when the rain begins to fall!

With summer temperatures rising into the nineties, and the blazing summer sun beating down with brutal strength,  the summer rain brings as much excitement to me as the first cool autumn breezes blowing in.

I embrace the summer rain much as I would a winter storm.  A chance to power down, choose a good book, grab a cuppa tea and hide from the world.  Believe it or not, I even have a favorite blanket (more for comfort than for warmth) that I pull out as I escape to a quiet corner with my awaiting summer read.  There I immerse myself in whatever novel has recently piqued my interest as I know the rain is continuing to fall just outside my window.

I don’t always read during a summer rain.  Sometimes I take cover on the back porch and luxuriate at the musical sound of the raindrops pounding the roof.  I have to position my chair just so under the breezeway as not to be splattered by the rain falling on either side of me.  From this vantage point I can watch the thirsty plants gobble up the falling drops.  It’s as if I can hear them chanting to the sky, “Thank you so much for this magnificent rainfall!”

Eventually, the rain will pass and the sun will come out again.  The temperatures will again rise and I will do my best to hide from the midday sun.

But until then, I will enjoy this refreshing break from summer’s heat with this delightful summer rain.

 

What do you like to do in a summer rain?

Have a lovely summer day! – Gerri

 

 

Early Morning Quiet

Summer has definitely arrived with temperatures soaring into the mid 90’s!  I am a lover of warm weather, but it is truly difficult to enjoy the outdoors when the afternoon sun just beats down on your head and bakes you.

Fortunately for me, one of of my favorite times of day has always been early morning.  (Well, to be completely honest, this probably wasn’t true when I was in my teens and only saw early morning on an as needed basis!)

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However, now that I am older, I feel my best in the morning, refreshed and ready to conquer the new day. Recently, I’ve taken to grabbing my coffee and sitting outside first thing to enjoy my garden and commune a bit with nature.  The sun is not high in the sky and the temperature is pleasant.  I listen to the birds chirping and enjoy the slight breeze rustling the the tall pines.  It is quiet and peaceful.  It gives me a chance to put my mind in order and reflect on my goals for the day.

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I draw my peace and serenity from these early morning quiet times. I gather my thoughts and my energy.  This time alone in the peaceful, quiet early morning inspires me.  It’s in this quiet time that I gather my creativity and think about the possibility of future projects.  Without this time, I feel lost, without focus, unable to attain my creative goals, or to even be sure of what they are.

I have found that if I go too long without this quiet time,  I become depressed, anxious and unsure about my future.  It’s in these quiet moments that I gather my serenity and hold on to my faith.

How about you?

Where do you find your serenity?

What to helps inspire your creativity?

xxoo Gerri

A Surprising Walk

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So often it’s the little things that take place in our day to day existence that make life meaningful.  It’s in the sound of the wind rustling through the tall pines.  It’s in the beauty of the light and shadows as they play across the water.  It’s coming across a special surprise on an ordinary day.

It is no secret that I am a lover of gardens and nature.  I am so fortunate to live in a lovely area filled with gorgeous, tall oak and pine trees.  A favorite activity of mine ( if you can call it an activity ) is to sit on our back porch and listen to the wind as it whistles through the tall pines.

I also enjoy walking on the trails we have and visiting the pond. It fills me with peace and serenity to escape from my home for a bit each day and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.

This morning on my walk I had a lovely surprise!  As I was heading along the path, I came across this sweet friend just coming out of the forest!  You can imagine my delight when I saw him there.  I am tracking my steps so I now walk with my phone in hand ready to capture any special moments.  He was probably scared to death of me, but he did stay still long enough for me to get a couple of photos before he scurried back into the woods.  It made me feel so fortunate to have just a moment to observe him just a few feet away!

I hope you all take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy this beautiful day!  Take in the small details of nature that surrounds you and look for the joy and peace it has to offer.

xxoo Gerri