It’s going to the birds!

When we first moved into our new house, I bought two hummingbird feeders for the back porch. I had grand plans for sitting at the kitchen table and watching them while I had my morning coffee. Unfortunately, I learned it was too close to their migration time to make it worthwhile to put them up, so I set them aside until spring and put up a bird feeder instead.


Apart from this single photo of a cardinal (on a frosty morning), I haven’t been able to get clear photos of our visitors, which have included blue jays, doves, black crested titmouses (titmice?), and a small greyish bird with a faintly green breast that I think is the Texas state bird, the Northern Mockingbird. I don’t know anything about birding or even how to go about identifying the ones I see, other than just googling the various color combinations. But it brings me great joy to watch them all as I sit here working on the week’s computer tasks.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Getting to know you…

I woke up this morning with the urge to write. I felt words stirring in my head and my heart in a way I haven’t for a long time, and so I just spent some time letting them out to walk around the page for a while. The exercise did me good, although I didn’t come up with anything earth-shattering – but writing used to be such an integral part of every day that it felt wonderful to immerse myself in it again over a cup of coffee. It didn’t hurt that this was my view.

Francesca Watson Designs

It’s overcast today, but things are really that green right now. We’ve had a lot of much-needed rain!

We’ve been living in the new house for about two and a half weeks now, and we’d be farther along in getting things set up except that I came down with a terrible case of bronchitis a few days after moving in. It was by far the most serious case I’ve had in years (bronchitis tends to be at least an annual visitor since we moved to Texas), and it literally laid me out. Getting up and taking a shower was the most I could manage most days – any kind of exertion sent me into bouts of coughing so violent that my ribs hurt. Steroids, inhalers, antibiotics, essential oils – all were pressed into service, and I’m deeply grateful that today I finally feel human. My stamina is low, so I have to be careful not to overdo, but I seem to be back among the living.

The process of getting to know a new house is always interesting – every house has a personality and this one is no exception. It was built in 2006 for an Army widow so she could be closer to her adult children. My understanding is that she was quite elderly and – in the last several years – in poor health, so the house has all sorts of features that are perfect for us as we looked for somewhere to “age in place.” It’s very small compared to the 3000 plus square feet we left behind, but it’s a perfect size for two people and sits on a lovely lot with all sorts of potential.


This is a small hillock that is impossible to mow with the riding mower. Not sure what we’ll do with it.


The clump of grass in the middle is where a bunch of old wood has been tossed for a burn pile. We’ll need to clear it before I can put a vegetable garden in.

We’re going to build a studio building in this area after the first of the year. We haven’t even started the process of planning for it – we want to live in the house a bit and watch how the light interacts with the land before finalizing its placement. The lot is surrounded by cedars, many of which need to be thinned or cleaned up or taken out altogether, as you can see in the photos above. That will be an on-going chore, I’m sure.


We’re going to start on this side of the lot, where I plan to put in a chicken coop next spring. When we were looking at the house, I honestly didn’t notice the two oak trees way in the back – you can see their canopies above the cedars at the left and right in this photo. Cedars are water hogs, so taking some of them out will help the oaks to be healthier in hot, dry weather. The plan is to start by removing some of these cedars and thinning up the others so we can tuck the coop into the tree line without infringing on the septic fields.

(Yes. I said chicken coop. I have wanted chickens all my adult life, and finding a place where we could have them comfortably was high on my list of priorities for the new house. I am doing a ton of research into heat-hardy dual-purpose breeds – good layers and good meat birds. If I’m going to raise chickens, we need a retirement plan for them and I love chicken stew!)



We have a lovely back porch with plenty of room to just sit and enjoy the views. We’ll be putting in some welded wire fencing so Rocky can come sit with us without running off to chase the many deer that call our property home. There’s not really room for that outdoor dining table on the porch proper, so we’ll put in a brick or flagstone pad to extend the area outside the french doors and put it there.


The widow who lived here loved roses – this is actually three separate plants, and they were all bravely putting out a few blooms the first time I looked at the house. I knew when I saw them this was going to be our house – something about this wildly overgrown bit of beauty tugged at my heart. On the day we settled, I told this to her son, and he got a little choked up. “I thought maybe I should have pulled those out when we listed the house, because they look so bad,” he told me. “I couldn’t bring myself to do it because Mom loved them so much.” My friend Kimmy is a rose-whisperer, and when the weather gets a little cooler, we’ll start cleaning them up, and when they bloom next year, I’ll think of the sweet woman who loved them as much as we do.

In the meantime, it’s a favorite morning stopping place for neighborhood birds – cardinals, blue jays, and a large sparrow-type that I haven’t been able to identify yet. Yesterday there was an enormous blue bird, but he didn’t stay long.

And the deer – literally dozens in the neighborhood, and six or eight that regularly visit our yard, including a mama with twins.


This is from mid-June, when the babies were really small – Mama wouldn’t let me get close enough for a better photo.

Rocky is mesmerized.

His favorite pastime towards the end of the day is watching "Deer TV" out the back door.

His favorite pastime towards the end of the day is watching “Deer TV” out the back door.

So we’re settling into the rhythms of rural life and looking forward to the much slower pace that will be ours once the house settlement is done and things are unpacked. We’re just five minutes from Roadhouse (where I’m headed next for some much-needed playtime) so our need to be on the road so much will be greatly reduced, especially once Nick retires at the end of the year. I feel such peace here, and such a sense of opportunity and potential. I can’t wait to see what this next phase of our lives brings.