Two months into the new year: Today ends the meteorological Winter. Tomorrow begins the meteorological Spring. Some of the bigger bushes and small trees begin to bud in our front yard. But Spring needs another four to six weeks to make its way to Connecticut. We still expect snow in March. And the nights are bitterly cold. Spring is so close and still so far away.
Winter Storm “Anthony” ~ 2023
It began to snow at around 8 o’clock last night. When I looked out of the window at midnight, I could see the accumulation of snow for the last four hours. And it kept coming down heavily. This morning, Kevin used the snow blower for the first time this Winter season. He was so excited.
When I came out of the house, the snow fell off the trees and shrubs this afternoon. It was mild enough for the snow to melt from our house roof and off the greenhouse roof as well. The dogs and Joshua were the only pets going outside. Chewbacca and Ozzy wanted nothing to do with it. When Joshua’s paws were wet enough, he came the dogs back into the house. It’s no fun having snowy paws being a cat.
State Fair of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: The New Big Tex ~ 2013 🎡
On the morning of October 19, 2012, (the final weekend of the 2012 State Fair of Texas, and on Big Tex’s 60th birthday) a fire started inside the framework of Big Tex. The figure’s clothing, face, and hat were completely destroyed in minutes as onlookers watched. An official investigation determined that the fire started in an electrical panel (fixed wiring) under the attraction’s right boot. This panel was believed to have powered the air compressor that kept the clothing of the statue ‘inflated’. News of the fire received national attention, and fair officials committed to rebuilding Big Tex “bigger and better” in time for the 2013 fair.
Working under secrecy, a new Big Tex was created in 2013 by SRO Associates and Texas Scenic Co. at a cost of $500,000. The recreated statue weighs 19,000 pounds (8,618.3 kg) more than the previous version, bringing him to 25,000 pounds (11,339.8 kg). This allows Big Tex to withstand 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) winds without needing support wires as in previous versions. The height was increased by 1 yard (91.4 cm) to 55 feet (16.8 m) tall. Big Tex Circle, the location during the State Fair of Texas, was also enlarged and reinforced for the larger statue.
The recreated structure for Big Tex that appeared in 2013 required new clothing and larger sizes. The new Dickie shirt features a 14-foot collar, and 23-foot sleeves and weighs 130 pounds (59 kg). The shirt is made from 150 yards (140 m) of awning material. The new Dickie jeans feature a 27-foot waist, and 22-foot inseam and weigh 100 pounds (45 kg). The jeans are made from 100 yards (91 m) of denim material.
… to be continued …
International Polar Bear Day 2023
International Polar Bear Day on February 27 raises awareness on the issues facing polar bears and the ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint. Climate change is a huge threat to polar bears’ existence and it’s up to us to take action and protect their future. Polar bears are classified as marine mammals, carrying with them a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellent coat to keep them insulated against the icy cold air and water they encounter on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. With their territory melting away beneath them, International Polar Bear Day is an important opportunity for us to remind ourselves what is at stake here, preserving the future of these magnificent mammals.
Winter Wonderland (13)
When two seasons collide … (Part III)
It’s Still Winter …
Since this Winter was very mild, we didn’t get much snow this season. Kevin was giving up on snow for this Winter. But, I warned him: “It might all come down in March and April until Easter. And we have snow. Well, it’s still February and Winter after all. However, soon this will get old. We need warm weather for gardening.
The Celestial Ball Dance In February 2023
February 2023 is a fantastic time to easily view two unique planets in our solar system. The gas giant Jupiter and our scorching sister planet, Venus, are brilliant in the night sky this month. These planetary diamonds shine bright even in regions with terrible light pollution, like New York City.
Venus is a rocky planet that’s about the same size as Earth. It’s also the closest planet to us. But on the ground, its environs are hotter than a pizza oven, at some 900 degrees Fahrenheit(Opens in a new tab). The planet’s thick layers of greenhouse gases, like the potent carbon dioxide, trap copious amounts of heat. Its upper atmosphere, however, hosts more moderate, reasonable climes.
Jupiter is a giant gas planet, containing over twice the mass of all other planets in our solar system combined. Thick clouds and storms (mainly of hydrogen and helium) swirl around the surface, including the Great Red Spot, which NASA notes has “raged for over a century.” (Opens in a new tab) Jupiter contains 92 known moons(Opens in a new tab), including the fascinating world Europa, which harbors an icy ocean beneath its cracked shell.
🌻Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)🌻
Icy Morning In The Valley (1)
Last night it got frosty. And we had some ice rain this morning.
The Greenhouse In Texas ~ 2013 (1)
My greenhouse arrived toward the end of February 2013. It was a Thursday. And on the following weekend, I began to build the greenhouse kit. To my dismay, I noticed two frame pieces were broken. I had to call the company the following Monday and wait for the pieces to arrive. UGH! That sucked.
In the meantime, Kevin fixed the chainlink fence and gate poles for the garden space. It’s an area to prevent the dogs from pooping in our garden. Katelynn and I cut a bush down and pulled its roots out as well as we could. Once she found a worm, she was too busy playing with it. So much about helping me with digging roots out of the ground, LOL.
George Washington’s 291st Birthday
Happy Birthday to the 1st President of the United States of America!
National California Day 2023
Happy National California Day!
Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)
Erythemis simplicicollis, the eastern pondhawk, also known as the common pondhawk, is a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to the eastern two-thirds of the United States and southern Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is a dragonfly of ponds and still waters. The species is distinguished in that the female is bright green with a banded abdomen and the mature male has a blue abdomen with a green face and green and blue thorax.
The eastern pondhawk is an athletic, swift-flying predator, able to catch damselflies and other insect prey on the wing. In between hunts, it rests on vegetation, ready to take to the air if prey comes within sight. When newly emerged, the dragonflies at first hunt away from water. After about two weeks they return to the ponds and males set up territories, chasing away rivals. The males guard the floating algal mats that make suitable egg-laying sites. Satellite males remain nearby, awaiting an opportunity to intercept females or seize territories.
Mating takes place while the dragonflies are perched on vegetation close to the water. Within one minute of mating, the female starts to lay her eggs, the male hovering nearby to guard her. She flies low over the pond, dipping her abdomen into the water and depositing her eggs at intervals. Some females mate several times during a single day. In Florida, new batches of adults are emerging throughout the summer months; the reproductive adult has a lifespan of about ten days.
⚜️🎭 Mardi Gras ~ Fat Tuesday 🎭⚜️
Today is Fat Tuesday. It refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.
Louisiana is the only state in the United States, where Mardi Gras is officially celebrated as a holiday. Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Usually, there is one major parade each day (weather permitting); many days have several large parades. The largest and most elaborate parades take place during the last five days of the Mardi Gras season. In the final week, many events occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities, including parades and balls (some of them masquerade balls).
In Germany, we celebrate it as Carnival/Fasching. It depends on the region. Around Cologne, it’s called Karneval. In places like Franconia (the northern region of the state Bavaria), they call it Fasching. The celebration on the same day in Germany knows many different terms, such as Schmutziger Donnerstag or Fetter Donnerstag (Fat Thursday), Unsinniger Donnerstag, Weiberfastnacht, Greesentag, and others, and are often only one part of the whole carnival events during one or even two weeks before Ash Wednesday. In German, schmutzig means “dirty”, but in the Alemannic dialects schmotzig means “lard” (Schmalz), or “fat”; “Greasy Thursday”, as remaining winter stores of lard and butter used to be consumed at that time, before the fasting began. Fastnacht means “Eve of the Fast”, but all three terms cover the whole carnival season. The traditional start of the carnival season is on November 11 at 11:11 am (11/11 11:11).
Here is the link to where the Carnival is celebrated all over the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardi_Gras
State Park of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: A Stroll Around The Park ~ 2013 (1) 🎡
In 2013, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, and I visited the State Fair of Texas again. The weather was much nicer and warmer that day we went a year prior. After we made it through the entrance, the girls got hungry. We all had sandwiches and snacks, which I had in my backpack. The food at the fair can be very expensive. Since we can come in with food and water, we always bring something inside the fair park. When we were done eating, we strolled around the park and started walking toward the Music Hall.
At the main entrance, I photographed the frieze of the 85 feet tall pylon which was added to the blockhouse in 1963. Near the bottom of the pylon is a piece of art that can easily be overlooked by those eager to enter the park. The bas-relief, a series of sculptures attached to the base to create a raised effect, covers all four sides of the monolith to form a horizontal decorative band called a frieze. Showing a scene of a wagon train and buffalo hunt, it was made by James Buchanan Winn, Jr.
Located between the Vietnam memorial and Music Hall, the Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain was originally stationed at the Frank P. Holland Court in 1916. The fountain moved to the front of Music Hall when the building opened, then traveled to its current spot during the 1970s. More commonly known as The Gulf Cloud, the fountain pays tribute to Captain Sydney Smith. Partly funded through marketing special Sydney Smith badges, the fountain was made to honor the captain and his contributions. It stands twelve feet high, weighs five tons, and has a diameter of thirty-five feet. The bronze centerpiece depicts a mother and three daughters, each figure symbolizing a different feature of Texas. The mother represents the plains, the girl on the right stands for the mountains, and the one on the left lying down refers to the Gulf. The winged figure symbolizes the gulf cloud, which will eventually provide rain for the land.
Behind the Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain, Music Hall stands on the previous site of Cycle Park. Charles McAdams built the park in 1896 as a place where people could enjoy the leisure activity of biking. He soon added a steep, wooden racetrack for bicycle races and some bleachers. Calling it the Cycle Park Theater, Charles became the manager. The attraction later became a place to host outdoor festivals, plays, and concerts. A large fire burned it to the ground in 1903 and a new structure was built. Currently capable of seating 3,420 guests, the Music Hall is modeled to reflect the styles of Spanish colonialism with hints of Moorish design. There are six stair towers, each with a dome on top. In addition, there are several porches that have arches positioned over them. The first major change came with the aforementioned addition of air-conditioning in 1951. The building then experienced a large remodeling project in 1972. It increased the size of the backstage area, improved the auditorium acoustics, installed more comfortable seats, expanded the lobby, provided enough space for an indoor box office, and added the Crystal Terrace Restaurant. Music Hall remained the same for twenty-seven years until it underwent some changes in 1999. The job included better acoustics, new carpeting, new paint, and refurbished chairs, along with the addition of a guest relations center and gift shop.
The Old Mill Inn is a restaurant located across the street from Grand Place. However, its original purpose was to serve as the Flour Milling Industry Building for the centennial celebration. Workers made it an exact replica of the Burrus Flour Mill in the town of McKinney, a building that had been around since the early 1800s. The new clone of the building housed exhibits pertaining to the flour mill industry that included three kitchens, a tea room, and an experimental mill. To run the attraction, a group of flour mill companies managed to persuade a national cooking star named Ida Mae Chitwood to take charge. When Ida Chitwood arrived at Fair Park, she taught cooking classes in addition to acting as the building’s supervisor. She also spent her time making fresh biscuits absolutely free to those visiting the attraction. Because of hard times, people would wait more than an hour in line to taste the famous cook’s food. After the exposition, the Old Mill Inn eventually became the home of Borden’s Dairy Exhibit at the fair. Children would get to have the chance to meet the family of the company’s mascot Elsie. Her husband was named Elmer and her daughter was called Beauregard. The two family members were available for petting along with the matriarch. The building currently serves as a restaurant specializing in southern cuisine. Open throughout the year, its interior is decorated with remnants of the past. A stairway leading to a private dining area has autographed photos of famous people who have paid a visit. In addition to the customary meals it provides, the restaurant allows guests to participate in a mystery party every Friday and Saturday through a local company called Keith & Margo’s Ultimate Mystery Dinner Adventure.
… to be continued…
National Love Your Pet Day 2023
🐕🐈🐹🐰 Happy National Love Your Pet Day! 🐰🐹🐈🐕
White Memorial Conservation Center ~ Herron Pond Loop In February 2023
Kevin and I did an almost 2-mile hike on the Herron Pond Loop at White Memorial Conservation Center. It was a good up & down hike this afternoon. Close to the Fawn Pond we missed our trail and walked the outer path. Since we made a “mistake”, we had the chance to see the engraved boulder, a rock in memory of the White siblings, Alain & May. Back on the track, we were at the overlook of Fawn Pond. The pond looks so pretty with the tree stomps and a water lily forest beneath the surface of the water.
Once, Kevin and I made it to Herron Pond, we took the outer track again. This time, we did it on purpose. The east side of the pond was too muddy, so we decided, we take the trail on the west side. There I found an interesting plant, I’d never seen before, the flat-branched tree clubmoss. At first, I thought, it was rooted due to the pine trees above. But it is a ground cover plant. We learn something new every day.
Presidents Day 2023
Presidents Day is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732, and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, who was born on February 12, 1809. It can occur from the 15th through the 21st of February inclusive.
Winter Wonderland (12)
When two seasons collide … (Part II)
February Sunset In The Valley (1)
Pluto Day 2023
Pluto Day is celebrated annually to commemorate the anniversary of the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Although Pluto was discovered in 1930, the story of its discovery started in 1840 after French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier sensed that there was a planet outside of Uranus due to irregularities in its orbit. His intuition led him to develop mathematical calculations to explain the discrepancies in Uranus’s orbit in relation to the laws of planetary motion and gravity, which led to the eventual discovery of Neptune.
After Neptune was discovered, an event widely regarded as a validation of a subset of the astronomy practice called celestial mechanics. It was then realized that there was yet another planet disturbing Uranus’s orbit since the irregularity in its orbit continued. This led to the search for Pluto — initially called Planet X — being headed by Percival Lowell, whose death would later see the search for Pluto passed to Clyde Tombaugh, who eventually discovered it.
The planet, which was named after the Roman god of the Underworld, was considered one of the nine planets in the solar system up until 2006. The International Astronomical Union reduced its status and tagged it a ‘dwarf’ planet due to not meeting the criteria to be considered a full-sized planet and being two-thirds of the size of the earth. It is believed that the first two letters in ‘Pluto’ were in honor of Percival Lowell whose belief that there were other planets beyond Neptune, helped fuel the drive that led to its discovery.
National Cabbage Day 2023
National Cabbage Day on February 17th recognizes a delightful garden staple that provides some of the best recipes for the Celtic holidays coming up next month. It’s an excellent day to test your corned beef and cabbage skills alongside other delicious seasonal dishes.
Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)
A Sunny February Afternoon In Texas ~ 2013
National Wisconsin Day 2023
Happy National Wisconsin Day!
Clouded Sulphur Butterfly (Colias philodice)
This species is a typical member of the genus. Both genders typically have pale yellow wings above with no traces of orange, unlike its close cousin the orange sulphur which may also be yellowish. Males have clean borders, while females have yellow dots within this region. Females sometimes exhibit a white form known as alba.
The underside of the male’s wings is yellow while the female’s is yellow or greenish white, and both have a doubled hindwing spot trimmed in brownish red. The hindwings show a series of four small red spots along the outer third portion, a trait that distinguishes the other North American species such as Colias interior, except for the orange sulphur which also shows them. Its wingspan is 32 to 54 mm.
This species has white form alba which can be very common in some populations, while rare in others. It can be confused with other white forms of Colias, particularly that of Colias eurytheme. It can often be distinguished by the border pattern of both wings, though some individuals are impossible to separate without the presence of other “normal” specimens. Though they differ in flight style, the white forms of Colias may be confused with other pierids such as Pieris rapae and Pontia protodice. White-form males are also known, but exceedingly rare in this species.
National Ferris Wheel Day 2023 🎡
Happy National Ferris Wheel Day!
Valentine’s Day 2023
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma ~ 2013
On Labor Day 2013, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I went up to Tishomingo Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. We wanted to get out of the city to take a little walk. So, we went north of the refuge by Murry 23. We walked along the lake and watched some butterflies. One Gulf Fritillary landed on Katelynn’s arm. We didn’t make it far, because it was very warm and humid. A short time later, we made it back to Texas.
Winter Wonderland (11)
When two seasons collide … (Part I)
Abraham Lincoln’s 214th Birthday
Happy Birthday to the 16th President of the United States of America!
White Memorial Conservation Center ~ Ice House Ruins Trail Loop In February 2023
Before the advent of the refrigerator, people kept food from spoiling by placing it in an icebox – a wooden cabinet with shelves for perishables and a large compartment for a block of ice to keep everything cold. Where did this ice come from? It was cut from lakes and ponds in the winter in regions where the temperatures were below freezing for extended periods of time. Ice blocks were cut by farmers for family use and by crews employed by significant commercial concerns. Both occurred at Bantam Lake. The commercial operation was centered on the north shore and involved one of southern New England’s largest ice block storage facilities. The company even had a railroad service making the distribution of ice to distant cities possible.
Peter Vermilyea (HiddeninPlainSightBlog.com) describes the former ice-making operation that once thrived on Bantam Lake before electricity and refrigeration were available. The site is located on the White Memorial Foundation property near Litchfield Town Beach.
National Umbrella Day 2023 ☂⛱
National Umbrella Day casts a little shade on February 10th. The day honors one of the world’s most useful inventions, the umbrella!
Not only does the umbrella help keep us dry from the rain, but it also protects us from the heat of the sun. You can also use an umbrella as a fashion accessory. While the umbrella is primarily practical, they also decorate cocktails. These brightly colored paper umbrellas make fun party favors, especially when visiting sunny locations.
German Bearded Iris
German Bearded Iris (Iris x germanica)
Naugatuck River Valley Backyard Wildlife In February (1)
1) Black-capped Chickadee; 2 & 3) Dark-eyed Junco; 4) Northern Cardinal;
5) Black-capped Chickadee; 6) Northern Cardinal; 7) Song Sparrow;
8) Red-bellied Woodpecker; 9) White-breasted Nuthatch;
10) Red-bellied Woodpecker Couple
National Pizza Day 2023
National Pizza Day on February 9th celebrates one of America’s all-time favorite foods. Whether it is thin crust, Chicago-style, deep dish, or anything in between, pizza is an American favorite.
- Pepperoni is the most popular pizza at 36% of all pies ordered.
- Over 3 billion pizzas are sold in the USA each year. Add another 1 billion on frozen pizzas
- In the United States, 17% of all restaurants are pizzerias.
- Antica Pizzeria, the first Pizzeria, opened in Naples, Italy, in 1738.
- Gennaro Lombardi, the first Pizzeria in the United States, opened in 1895 in New York City.
- Americans consume on average 23 pounds of pizza per person each year.
Pre-gardening In February 2013
In February 2013, I purchased a 8 x 6 ft. greenhouse kit. While I was waiting for the kit to arrive at our house, I started some seeds with Katelynn and Sara. We also prepared some avocado pits and let a pineapple grow roots in a jar filled with water. The girls had a miniature greenhouse with colorful salad tomatoes.
National Iowa Day 2023
Happy National Iowa Day!
American Coot (Fulica americana)
The American coot (Fulica americana), also known as a mud hen, is a bird of the family Rallidae. Though commonly mistaken for ducks, American coots are only distantly related to ducks, belonging to a separate order. Unlike the webbed feet of ducks, coots have broad, lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back with each step which facilitates walking on dry land. Coots live near water, typically inhabiting wetlands and open water bodies in North America. Groups of coots are called covers or rafts. The oldest known coot lived to be 22 years old.
State Park of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: The Fair Park At Night ~ 2012 🎡
We spent the early evening hours at the State Fair as well. The fair actually looks much prettier, when it is dark outside. All the lights come on, and the light parade passes through the park. Big Tex and the Texas Star Ferris Wheel come to full glory, and the statues are in their great spotlights.
~ THE END ~
Winter Wonderland (10)
Winter At The End of 2012
The Full Snow Moon 2023
Almost Full Snow Moon 2023
New England Feels Like Antarctica 🥶
New England Winter Poem
It’s Winter in New England
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below.
Oh, how I love New England
When the snow’s up to my butt
I take a breath of Winter
And my nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So, I guess I’ll hang around
I could never leave New England
‘Cause I’m frozen to the ground!
Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus
Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia Laevis)
Birds Spring Conference In Texas ~ 2013
It is almost that time of year again when all the grackles, starlings, and cowbirds meet in all the trees for a “Spring Conference”. During Wintertime, they usually hang out in the trees of the shopping parking lots. When the days become visibly longer, it’s time to spread out for mating, building nests, finding food, and raising offspring.
Imbolc ~ The Coming of Spring
Imbolc, also called Oimealg, by the Druits, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “Oimelc”, which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of the Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Groundhog Day), and in many places, the first crocus flowers began to Spring forth from the frozen earth.
The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterward the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
National Texas Day 2023
Happy National Texas Day!
Pearl Crescent Butterfly (Phyciodes tharos)
The Pearl Crescent is a butterfly of North America. It is found in all parts of the United States except the west coast, and throughout Mexico and parts of southern Canada, in particular Ontario. Its habitat is open areas such as pastures, road edges, vacant lots, fields, and open pine woods. Its pattern is quite variable. Males usually have black antenna knobs. Its upperside is orange with black borders; postmedian and submarginal areas are crossed by fine black marks. The underside of the hindwing has a dark marginal patch containing a light-colored crescent.
Hello February 2023!
February Winter walks and starlit nights,
Good books and cozy hours,
Time for friends, heartfelt sharing,
Dreams of springtime flowers…
Although it may be short on days,
Each February brings
The simple little gifts we count
Among life’s precious things.