Gena's Journal

...of Jaunts and Journeys

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 RECAP

2014 in review (a chronological photo essay):





Until 2015.....

Saturday, July 05, 2014


In the early part of June, my cousin started converting my first small aquarium to a saltwater aquarium. About 20 gallons in size, it initially housed freshwater fish; namely African Cichlids. For most of my adult life I was fascinated with aquariums but never ventured into the hobby but refrained because of ..... intimidation. I'd always figured they were lots of work.

Long story shortened, I eventually replaced the small tank with a much larger tank which now showcases nothing but cichlids... some of my original fish are residing there to this day. That caused the small 20 gallon tank to remain empty and beckoning for another underwater landscape. Thus it became the saltwater tank which is currently being populated and "broken in". I think the correct term is cured, but I'm such a newbie at this I'm not sure.

Mike started by adding saltwater and an old filter that used to be part of the bigger tank. A live rock was added to begin the process of building the biologics necessary to maintain a living environment for whatever critters were to be added later. The intent is to keep some soft corals and maybe one fish. the tank is too small for much else, but at least it had been started.

After a couple weeks.... and a sewing project of making filter bags for filtering materials (charcoal).... a few more live rocks were added. One rock already had two growths of xenia on them; a purple feather-like creature with "fingers" that wave in the current. I stared at those daily before and after work. I thought they were beautiful.

Wonders of wonders!!! Life started emerging from the rocks. It seems every day I find something new emerging from the rocks. Bristle worms, feather duster worms, small anemones, snails, amphipods, even a brittle star!

 Glass Anemone? (Aiptasia)

Xenia (Waving Hand Coral) 

 Brittle Star (growing 3 new legs)

I've no clue what this is... 

This is a mushroom with its mouth protruding after a spine of the pencil urchin crossed over the top of its surface. 

The orange dot is actually the head of a tube worm protruding from its hiding place 

Looking closely you can see a fern-like frond of some sort. Again, no clue as to what it is. 

Some kind of sponge? I hope so! 

Bristle Worm 

This critter is practically clear. Looks like a delicate, glass flower. 

Some sort of blue sponge???  

A snail! A huge surprise.  

Again, the orange speck is the mouth of a worm. 

This was the first thing I found growing in the tank several weeks ago. Could be the head of a worm, although it never retracts into its hole. Perhaps something else.  

At the very tip of the rock (very center) there is a tiny snail of a different variety. 

Some kind of mushrooms growing on a rock.  

Close up of mushroom. They open and close at will it seems. Shining direct light on the edges reveals green... almost like chlorophyll inside the tissue.
Pencil Urchin. Fascinating creature. Mouth is on the bottom and he "poops" out the top of his head!! (Sorry, but that intrigues me greatly since he does it so often. It's as though he is spitting out fragments of rock).

Added more live rock today. It will be a few days to a week before I see newly emerging critters. Can't wait!!
Until further developments......

Saturday, May 31, 2014


This morning, in between making salads for a pseudo catering gig, I ventured outside with the camera as the early sun started washing over the blossoms and plants in the myriad of native perennial gardens. Had I thought faster  more time, I would have used the macro lens to get real close-ups of the flowers. But alas, being pressed for time, I grabbed the camera with the lens which stays mounted 99% of the time and started shooting.

Gerbera Daisy.... annual.... grown in a pot under the gazebo.

Standing Cypress.... wildflower perennial..... very tall. Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Indian Blanket and Lemon Horsemint .... wildflowers.... butterflies love these!

Hundreds and hundreds of Indian Blanket wildflowers. My goal is to create a "pocket prairie" featuring the native wildflowers indigenous to the Blackland Prairie of this region. Before urbanization, this Blackland Prairie supported many wildflowers which existed on nothing more than the water received from the rains.... even in years of drought. My kind of flowers!

One of the many milkweed varieties necessary to the existence of Monarch butterflies. As urban sprawl takes over the natural prairies and habitats, the population of Monarch butterflies is dwindling dramatically. Native plant societies are spreading the word to gardeners to include these plants in the landscape before the monarch becomes extinct. The second plant shows some of the milkweed pods maturing after the spring flowering.

Lemon Horsemint again. This has multiplied and spread very quickly and easily. Other common names for this same wildflower are: Lemon Beebalm, purple horsemint, lemon mint, Plains horsemint, horsemint, and purple lemon horsemint.

Trumpet vine.... also called trumpet creeper. I am trying to train this to grow over a nearby arbor. The hummingbirds and butterflies love this plant.

These are very tiny.... nearly a groundcover.

Apricot agastache.... another favorite of hummers

Salvia .... there are tens (if not hundreds) of varieties of salvia.

Golden columbine... almost the end of their blooming cycle.

Texas Rock Rose....

Brakelights red yucca..... (more of a true red than the usual salmon colored "red yucca")

Red Yucca....

Another variety of salvia.... also called autumn sage... comes in white, pink/salmon, purple, red

More salvia... also called mealy sage

Behind the windchimes are the Standing Cypress. Some are taller than me!

This is an ornamental clump grass (annual) that I couldn't resist... it is called Fiber Optic grass.

To date, all the perennial and wildflower additions have been to my backyard. It is my personal sanctuary. I really need to get busy with the front yard, too. However, my vision always far exceeds my budget.

I can't believe JUNE starts tomorrow! Spring is behind us and now the long, dragging, HOT months of summer are here. Most gardening will come to a halt other than the harvest of ripening veggies. Autumn will bring renewed energy to work outside.... once the heat abates.

Until the next adventure.... local or otherwise......