Tuesday, May 28, 2024


 The Zen Machine 2 is back!  They put a rush on it and even with the Derecho that struck the area, they got it done quickly and delivered it back to us on Thursday.  So, with the long weekend already here, I took off Friday so I could go out and mow.

This is where they parked it, next to the truck.  I grabbed the key and hopped on.

Here is the front yard before...sure it's lush and green but it's TOO lush, ha.  During mowing however, I did have a couple of incidents...

First I ran over what I believe to have been a purple yoga mat!  It was under this bush and since neither of us nor 2nd Family are into yoga, it was blown in by the storm last week.  The grass was blocking most of it and of course when I hit it, it came out in a hundred bits, ha.  But hey, at least the purple matches the flowers on the bush!

Then, sadly, I ran over a snake.

I have edited the photo to not show the gory other end but we wanted to see if anyone recognized this snake variety?  I say sadly, because I never want to run over and harm any creature if I can avoid it.  The grass was just so tall that I did not see it.  I used a shovel to move it over to an open area so I could get a picture of it.  If it's a dangerous one though, maybe I'll rethink my "sadly" comment, ha.

One of the trails that I use to go mow around one part of the property is now blocked.  We'll have to figure out how to get this cleared so I can get back there.  We're sure there are other trees down but they are in areas we don't need to get to at this time, so we'll let nature take care of those trees.

This is the front yard as I finished.  One thing about the farm grass, it's resilient.  Freeze, drought, flood, it just come back greener than ever.

And here it is finished.  Much neater as usual.

Because I couldn't get to a few areas, it was a bit shorter than a usual longer mow but it definitely looks better and I am relieved.  I was really worried about the mower taking longer to get back but now it's back.

This was the temp after I finished everything and was ready to leave.  Our high was 94, but because of our weather and humidity, the "feels like" was 108!   It's only getting hotter, earlier.  I decided to call it a day.  No sense in getting my heart rate up (FYI, it stayed around 102 while mowing).

Here is the mower, freshly cleaned after the mow and back in the shed where it belongs.

It is ready for the next mowing! 

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Sunday, May 26, 2024


It's a hot weekend here...feels like over 105 degrees.  Today is some rest.  Farm was Friday, yesterday we spent most of the day running an errand and so today is a good one for rest.  Friday night after I got back from the farm, 2nd Man made dinner.

Blackened redfish over a bed of saffron infused mixed grains and topped with some cilantro and tomatoes.  So delicious.  Today I'm making our BBQ ribs and coleslaw  traditional meal for race weekend (revamped to be more heart healthy).  Since it's still in the oven, no pics of that.  But it sure smells good!

Regular blog readers know that we are racing fans.  Today is one of the "big days" in racing...

First it's the Indianapolis 500, though as this posts, they are under weather delays at the track and there are big storms blowing in.  So that might happen today, later tonight or perhaps tomorrow.

And then later this afternoon is the NASCAR Coca Cola 600.  The weather there is sunny and clear so at least that one will happen.  One thing everyone was hoping to be able to see is that one NASCAR driver, Kyle Larson, was driving in both.  He qualified 5th for the Indy 500 and after that race, he was going to fly to NC and race in the NASCAR race.  There aren't a lot of drivers that attempt that but he is going to.  Unfortunately, the weather may not let that happen.

Hobart on the other hand is not interested...

He was awake for a moment after we got him swaddled up in his warm fuzzy blanket...

...and then promptly said leave me alone, I've got some sleeping to to.  And he was out!  Because...


Saturday, May 25, 2024


Guess what?

Yesterday, the Zen Machine 2 was delivered back from the repair shop!  Woo hoo!  I took the day off to go out there are mow as I figured waiting any extra day is just taller grass, ha.

And I was right.  Pics in a post in a few days.

Today, as this posts, we are running an important errand and then doing a little shopping and picking up stuff for dinner today and this long weekend.

Hope your weekend is off to a good start!

Friday, May 24, 2024


 One thing my nutritionist said to eat a lot of, is greens.  Super healthy.  So when we were shopping at the grocery store to stock up (HEB), we saw this bag:

Great Greens Trio from HEB

They call it their "Great Greens Trio" and great they are.  It's a bag of precut and pre-washed combination of collard/mustard/turnip greens.  It is twelve cups (according to serving size) and 1 lb by weight.

We decided to try freezing them, so after cleaning them and drying them in the salad spinner just to make sure, we put them in a gallon vacuum freezer bag.  At first it looked like it wouldn't fit but I poured some in, shook it down a few times until they all fit.  When the vacuum process starts, it shrank it down perfectly.  You can see the vacuum sealed bag in the photo next to the bag as they come from the store.

We froze them and have used them in soups and casseroles and other dishes.  It's a perfect solution.  We have bought them and used them fresh from the bag as well.  It's a great combination of flavorful greens and we are obsessed with them, ha. Hey, they are super good for us too!  That's a win/win!

When we start planting a Fall garden again, we'll make our own "Great Greens Trio", ha.

I'm off today, more on that in the next post!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024


 A mileage milestone...

Bill, the farm truck, crossed another thousand miles to 227,000.  I even pulled into a parking lot to memorialize the moment.  Being a 2006, every additional thousand miles is a milestone, ha.

When we got it three years ago, it had about 225,000 miles on it so we've put on a couple thousand.  It's been driven back and forth from downtown to the farm a couple of times and I used it for a month going back and forth to work when my Jeep was in the shop.

Otherwise, it gets its mileage in on errands back and forth to garden centers and hardware stores.

As a reward, we took the truck to a carwash and ran it through.  It was good because it cleaned out the bed/backend of leaves and stuff from Fall/Winter.

It's still ticking, knock on wood!  With as few miles as it's driven now that it's out there (just errands nearby, garden centers, home improvement stores, etc), we are hoping it will last us a long time more.

Monday, May 20, 2024


So...according to the National Weather Service, NW parts of Houston (and the area around the farm) were hit by an EF1 tornado.  What hit the city of Houston (and downtown) was a "derecho".  It's the first ever recorded derecho in Texas.  There was one years back that went through NE Texas but started along the state line and moved into Arkansas and other states.  None ever recorded here.  We basically got hit Unlucky us.

Picture heavy post and as always, click any to enlarge.

Getting out of downtown Saturday was quite the adventure.  These are just two of the numerous office buildings with windows gone...

...and many streets closed off because they are littered with broken glass and glass still falling from buildings.

Also, with so many places without power, that meant gas stations that were open, if you could find one, had lines around the block.  Thankfully I had filled up the day before the storm.

The roads around the farm were tricky in a few spots but the county had moved most of the debris out of the way.  In this picture you can see where the tree had actually gone all the way across the road.  Lots of places like that but they made room and since not much traffic in a rural area, it was easy to get around the spots that still had trees on the side of the road.

This one is across the street from us.

This was just one section but a neighbor's fence is down in multiple sections...

This was a BIG tree on the way there.  The split part was across the road and had not been moved yet, so we had to use a different road.

This tree is on the corner of our property along the road where it joins with another neighbor.

Once we got to the driveway, this greeted us.  It is the entrance fence that 2nd Family put up a few years back.  The one on the other side of the driveway that matches was fine and still intact. 

Here's the front yard (note where I stopped mowing last week when the belt broke, it's all catching up, ha).  At least the buildings were undamaged.

We walked around them up close to make sure and they are good, no shingles were missing.

But as for the house...

Five shingles here...

...and three in the back yard.  At least these are the ones that we could FIND, who knows where some may have ended up.

But, it's an old house and the wood is SO hard in the attic and ceiling there was zero water in.  It is not something we will need to worry about at this point.

Here's a tree on the property next to us.  Yikes!

We roamed around a bit to see what we could see on our property...

A lot of limbs and branches lying around and we picked up what we could.  In this one, do you see the little thing right there in the middle of the picture?

Here it is up close...

A perfect little bird's nest!

No babies and no eggs.  We looked around.  It had been a couple of days at this point so if anything was there, they were long gone.  I saved the nest, not sure why.  2nd Man said "why are you keeping that?" and I said I wasn't sure, so I put it on the porch in a clay pot and put a saucer on top to keep it safe.

This is behind the orchard.  This mesquite tree lost its branches. I've been meaning to cut this down so I guess nature gave me a head start, ha.

We lost this big one.

And this one that is along one of the trails I mow.  I guess I'll have to go a different route for the time being.

And this one as well.  There are probably many more around the acres we can't get to and I'll find some while mowing I'm sure. 

Check this out!  We have NO idea where this came from, we have nothing like this and from what we know, none of nearby neighbors do.  But dang, flying sheet metal would be EXTREMELY dangerous.  Yikes!

And here is the biggest damage we ended up with:

Lost the fence to the garden in this spot and one other along the back (I forgot to get a picture of).  We aren't doing a garden this year (and didn't last because of the drought) so I'll work on this as time permits. It was time to clean it up anyway.

So anyway, that is the Houston Derecho of 2024.  We had straight line winds of 100mph+ move across miles and miles of Houston, from the suburbs, across the heart of the city, downtown and out the other side.  It was like a 30 minute Cat 2 hurricane.

Seven fatalities...1,000,000 people without power at the peak...250,000 still without power today...and preliminary damage estimates of between five and seven billion dollars.

So now we have to worry about tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and derechos.

Sunday, May 19, 2024


 What a last few days it has been. Went to the farm yesterday, as a preview, everything was mostly good, house and outbuildings.  Big photo update on tomorrow's post.

We made some chicken legs in the oven, skinless and covered with some chili powder from New Mexico (courtesy of my wonderful boss).  I made the corn and black bean salad that has quickly become 2nd Man's favorite now.  Of course w had a salad on the side (we eat a salad almost every day now).

Hobart was oblivious to the storm (which is good) and today it's sunshine and so he's recharging his batteries.  Of course this is the middle of the floor and so we walk over and around him.  Because...


Friday, May 17, 2024


So we knew storms were possible and/or coming yesterday afternoon but we (and millions of others) were not prepared for what would happen...

After our phones kept getting alerts and warnings, it started to get more intense.  We tried to have dinner but kept an eye on the sky.  Then the TV networks all switched to local coverage and there was a tornado on the ground about 3 miles from the farm and was moving toward the greater Houston area.

Within the storm, they were recording straight line winds approaching and then exceeding 100mph. 

Oh, but then it only got worse.

They issued a very rare 'destructive thunderstorm warning' for all of Houston.   According to the National Weather Service, this warning is used when there is "hail of 2.75 inches or larger and winds of 80mph or higher".

Then the tornado warning came for over 2 million people...popping up on phones, city phone alerts, text messages, and yes, even the Weather Channel switched to full round the clock coverage. 

2nd Man and I rushed to get the furniture that's out on the balcony laid down flat and we looked up and it was already getting scary.

The sky was green (and a few other weird colors) and the wind was rapidly picking up speed.  It was also getting much darker...

So dark the streetlights started coming on...but even then, darker and darker.

I tried to open the balcony door again and I thought it was locked; it was not, the wind and pressure was so intense, the glass started vibrating.  2nd Man shouted to close the shades (we have these big rolling shades) so that if the windows broke that might shield some of the stuff from coming in.

We took Hobart and went to the hallway to wait it out.

Here is the camera view from a local station as the tornado warned storm came into downtown.  This is at 6:30 in the afternoon, normally bright and sunny.  

I'll be honest, it was a bit harrowing because we thought the windows might come out.  Our building was built to have the latest (at the time ten years ago) hurricane/impact resistant windows but a worry in downtown Houston is when debris from a couple of windows on another building starts to fly around and impacts more windows and tree branches break more windows and that begets more debris and, well it's a vicious circle.

Here is just a small part of the end result:

This building is about 3 blocks away from us.

And this one is about 2 blocks away.

There are many other buildings with damage and the streets into and out of downtown are currently closed because there is just too much debris.  The mayor told people to stay home today so they can clean up the streets.  In some places, the broken glass is 2 inches deep.  Thank goodness this storm had enough warning and happened after 6pm when most office buildings were empty.

We have no power at my work office building and the roads have so much debris, our company is covering the phones and we were told to stay home.  Even though he works from home, 2nd Man was told to take off today as internet service is sketchy at best.

There are trees down all over town, roads blocked, power was out to 950,000 people, street lights are not working, there are signs down, power lines across roads and of course thousands of homes and businesses have roof damage.  Right before we wearily went to bed last night, we heard a few large 'booms' and it turns out there was a subterranean sewer fire causing explosions about 4 blocks away. 

All school districts are closed today due to extensive damage to schools and campuses around the city. 

They are saying this will be a billion dollar+ storm.  

Sadly, at least four people have also been killed.

"J" from 2nd Family said it was the scariest moment she's had out there, and she's been through several hurricanes and countless really bad thunderstorms.  She said she really thought a tornado was forming just beside the property as the wind was insane.  A weather station near the farm (less than a mile) reported a gust of 109mph!   She lost quite a few shingles and today, in the light of day, she will check our house and property.  

As one weather expert said, it's like the city of Houston experienced a direct hit by a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane that lasted full on for an hour.  Another said that a storm like this has not impacted such a large metropolitan area and will be remembered for years to come in the Houston area.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we will venture to the farm to see the damage up close.