Seasonal Odds and Ends

So it’s the end of October – one of my favourite times of the year.  It’s been gorgeous this weekend – ‘Chamber-of-Commerce Weather’ as they say – cloudless blue skies and cool mornings (which have blossomed into near-record high temperature afternoons).

In memory of our recent trip to Germany, we’re having Sauerbraten and Kartoffelklöße for dinner this evening.  With that, I’m having Heavyweight Old Vine Zinfandel from Scotto Cellars.  This Zin (82 percent Zinfandel, 14 percent Syrah and 4 percent Mourvèdre) was used in the marinade/gravy and it’s quite substantial.


Heavyweight Old Vine Zinfandel – California

One of my favourite ‘Halloween drinks’ is really quite simple – prosecco with crème de violette.  It’s extremely floral – which takes some getting used to, but the colour is fantastic.  Depending upon how much crème de violette you put it, it can range from a pale amethyst to dark inky purple.


Prosecco and Crème de Violette

While I was working outside last weekend, I ran across this fellow.  He was trying to hide in the ficus tree.  It was like ‘Jungle Book’ in miniature.


Garter Snake in the Ficus


Garter Snake in Ficus

Today was Halloween decoration day.  This is a phased approach with me.  Unlike Christmas, I don’t like to lay all my cards on the table at once.  I much prefer the ‘build-up’ so more things will be added every couple days until the big night.  Since it’s a Friday night this year, I’m sure the reverie factor will be upped several notches.

I love Halloween decorating, but I’m decidedly not a blood-and-gore kind of guy.  I’m really cornball – I love that old fun, non-menacing stuff from when I was in elementary school.  (I sure wish Disney would re-release its ‘A Disney Halloween’ show from the ’80s and ’90s.  That’s much better than any slasher pic.)

front door

Halloween Front Door

spooks and ghouls

Spooks and Ghouls


The Halloween Mantle

This clock belonged to my third great grandparents, William Carroll Jackson and Samantha Ellen Franklin Jackson.  They got it when they were married in 1848 in Lincoln County, Tennessee and brought it to Texas, wrapped in quilts, in a covered wagon in 1850.  I’m sure they never imagined, in their wildest dreams, that it would be part of an Halloween tableau.


Franklin Clock Halloween

And like I said, I love ‘corny,’ so this ‘ghost’ is one of my favourites.  Interestingly, Charlie the cat LOVES this thing.  Whenever it comes out of it’s hiding place, he falls asleep in its arms.


Muslin Ghost

It’s Still Fall

So I’ve finally been able to cull through the photos we took on our October trip to Boston, New York, New England, and Canada.  While these definitely look like Fall, and the calendar says mid-November, it feels anything but autumnal here in Austin.  As I type outside on my deck (with my glass of Folie à Deux), it’s 86 outside – a record – and the air conditioners are going full bore.  Just Wednesday, we set a record low – 32.

It’s pretty outside to be sure – the elm tree’s in full-fall mode; the pyracantha is in all its red-berried glory; and the blue jays are strutting and cawing like there’s no tomorrow – it definitely does not feel one jot as if we’re only a week away from Thanksgiving!  The older I get, the more and more I want to live in a place with all four seasons…

Anyroad, here are some fall photos – and other miscellany – from our trip.  We started out with two days in Boston, one afternoon in New York, and then 12 days from New York to Québec City and back again on the Queen Mary 2.  I’ll write in more detail later about each of the stops and life aboard the ship, but I wanted to get these out and published so that I can at least have a visual of autumnal splendor.

Not exactly Fall-like, but here’s a photo of the ship leaving Brooklyn at 5:00 in the afternoon.  We did a transatlantic crossing on the QM2 in 2010 when we went to Paris and I got heaps of Manhattan skyline photos, but it never ceases to impress.  While I agree with Ayn Rand on almost nothing, I will say that one of man’s great achievements is (good) urban architecture.


Manhattan as seen leaving Brooklyn aboard the Queen Mary 2

And here’s the ship herself on our day in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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Queen Mary 2 anchored in Bar Harbor, Maine October 2013

Boston Common

Boston Common, October 2013

Hingham Tree

Hingham Burying Ground, Hingham, MA October 2013

Lexington MA

Lexington Common, Lexington, MA October 2013

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Revolutionary Battle Site, Concord, MA October 2013

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Revolutionary Battle Site – Concord MA, October 2013

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Revolutionary Battle Site – Concord MA, October 2013

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Revolutionary Battle Site – Concord MA, October 2013

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Acadia National Park, Maine October 2013

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Acadia National Park, Maine October 2013


Acadia National Park, Maine, October 2013

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Acadia National Park, Maine October 2013

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Acadia National Park, Maine October 2013


Acadia National Park, Maine October 2013

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, Canada October 2013

And here are some non-landscape photos of interest – at least to me:

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Goat Urn, Boston Common October 2013


Newport Mansion Statuary, Newport, RI October 2013


Newport Mansion Statuary, Newport, RI October 2013

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Wild Turkey, Arcadia National Park, Maine October 2013

It’s Fall!

Ah, September and Fall – my favourite time of the year.  Of course in Central Texas, that means lower ’90s, but I’ll take what I can get.  Today is exceptionally beautiful.  After Friday’s rain – between five and seven inches…woo hoo! and Saturday’s transition, today turned out to be clear and fine.  And I love September light; more golden and heavy dappled through the elm tree.

The humming birds are still around, but will probably take off in the next couple of weeks.  The blue jays are more active – and more screechy…another Fall sound.  More owl activity at night, too.

The garden is still thriving.  August wasn’t overly hot, so there’s not that droopy, exhausted look you sometimes get in September.  Here are some recent photos…

A gigantic spider web I found one morning – still amazed by the engineering feat.

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My newest tchotchke – a hanging glass sphere I got at The Natural Gardener.

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The morning glories are coming back to life.

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A new coleus.

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I put out my Fall garden decorations.  I love this scrap-metal scare crow – a tea light goes in its head.

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The black-eyed Susans still going strong.

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And the Turk’s Caps, too.

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