Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ta Daa!


A desk for Judy.



And Sandhill Cranes coming in for a landing.


Nice to finish up the year with a string of 80 degree days.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some assembly required.


We bought Judy a little desk.  Now all we have to do is put it together.

117 pieces.  No, I can’t send you a picture of the completed product.  Yet.


I had help from the pets, but the effort completely wore Henry out.


Annie collapsed from exhaustion in the other room!


We went for the easy victory and started off with the chair.  That only had 26 pieces.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011



The Broncos sucked this year.  Then Tebow came in as quarterback and they won a bunch of games in an unorthodox way.  It was exciting.


Now they’ve lost a couple of games in a row, and it’s still exciting…….at least up to the point where the game gets totally out of hand.  (We’ve been vomiting up Kool-aid in the second quarter of each game.)  So, the Broncos might go to the playoffs, or they might not, but it will be exciting for part of any remaining games anyway.


It’s an interesting challenge Denver is going to face this next offseason.  They have a traditional team except for the quarterback.  Do they build a different kind of team with a different kind of playbook around an unconventional quarterback, or do they scrap the unconventional quarterback for a more conventional approach next year?



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

American Avocet


This is what my pictures of feeding American Avocets look like.


And this.


Sometimes I almost get the picture I want.


And finally:



Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday after Christmas


Monday after Christmas

Decided to use this holiday day to add a life-bird to my list.  A White-winged Scoter has been hanging out on a Resaca in San Benito for several weeks, but I haven’t got to it yet.  An hour and a half to get there.  Hundreds of ducks to sort through.  Three hours looking.  No Scoter.  Drove home.  A six hour effort altogether.  Arrived home to learn that the San Benito White-winged Scoter was found dead this morning…


Oops.  Oh well.  It was a nice drive through the country.  I got lots of other birds including Snow Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Wood Ducks, Canvasbacks, Anhingas, White-tailed Kites, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Caspian Tern, a Ringed Kingfisher, and Tropical Kingbirds.


Not a bad day.


Here is an American Kestrel and a White-tailed Kite:





Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's a Merry Skype Christmas


Judy and I traveled the country without leaving our living room.  We watched the kids open their presents at Becky’s house and hung out in the aftermath for a while.  Wrapping paper everywhere.  The night before, Bad Santa visited their house and knocked over the Christmas Tree.  No explanation, they just heard a crash, got up to look, and found the Christmas Tree on its side.  So Becky, Brian, Taylor and Tony were up at 2 o’clock in the morning cleaning up the mess and rewrapping wet presents.  It all worked out in time for a joyous morning but there were some naps needed in the afternoon.


Then we moved on to Matt’s house.  Alex got a giant Lego Death Star.  Austin got an EZ Bake oven.  We could almost smell the red velvet cupcakes cooking.  After, we got moved back for the longer view from one end of the room so we could watch them play games on the floor and fly the RC helicopter that shoots rockets.  We only got hit by a rocket once.


Christmas is a favorite fun holiday for us and it’s so nice we could be that close to the kids yet still be here.  We’re embracing our digital world.  The cloudy rainy weather broke and we got a 60 degree sunny Christmas.  For our gift exchange, we decided that I bought Judy the house earlier in the year and she bought me the deck this fall, and so just left it at that this year.


A big Christmas Dinner sponsored by the Park.  They provided the facility, all the settings, and the roast beef and smoked sausage.  We broke up into tables for 12.  Judy made creamy cauliflower casserole with bacon and cheddar, mashed potatoes and gravy for our table.  I made a gallon of ice cream.  By that time we were all so full there was enough to share with the rest of the tables.


It’s good to eat that early in the day so we could have that many hours left to digest.


Merry Christmas everybody.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve


Merry Christmas Eve everybody.



Friday, December 23, 2011



We see these giant cement cisterns here.



Sometimes they’re abandoned and hard to notice.


Sometimes they’re still active like this one.  The dark part is from water leaking.


We know they have to do with agriculture.  This entire valley is irrigated.  From Colorado, we’re familiar with pivot sprinklers, ditches, gates and headgates, but we can’t quite figure out what the cisterns do.


The taller ones are called standpipes, and they help regulate the flow of water, but we still don’t know just how having a tall standpipe helps regulate the flow.  Irrigation systems that are pressurized by pumps have to have valves to regulate the flow, would a valve have to be elevated in a standpipe?


Some of them are probably for gravity flow systems and the height of the standpipe relates to the height of the water source, but still, how does the height of the pipe contribute?



Thursday, December 22, 2011



Henry’s best buddy at Sandpipers.

Gizmo has an energy level above and beyond even Henry.





Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yesterday's birds


Wading Birds:


Great Blue Heron


Little Blue Heron


Tricolored Heron


Great Egret


Reddish Egret


Here is the Reddish Egret again, cloaking; a hunting technique.


Snowy Egret



Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Birthday


To me.


Took the day off from work, so we could day-trip to South Padre Island.  Walked on the wandering boardwalks over the salt marsh at the Convention Center.  Saw a lot of birds.  It was warm and windy, but the wind didn’t matter.  It was 80 degrees.


On the way home, we walked some forest trails at a spot in Harlingen for a contrast in habitats.  We were all set to treat ourselves to grilled filet mignon and lobster tail for dinner, then reconsidered.  We decided to be a little easier on our stomachs today and defer the big meal maybe to tomorrow.


Judy was nice to me *all* day, just like she was supposed to be.  It was a good day.



Sunday, December 18, 2011



Henry is fascinated by it.


He doesn’t care about the television when we’re watching it.  It makes no difference if we’re watching Football, Survivor Island, or Cops.  He doesn’t care unless we turn to a Nature program.  Then he is engaged.


A year ago we took this video of him watching the bird migration.


This week, we watched a program about radioactive wolves.  A team revisited Chernobyl 30 years after the entire area was evacuated.  Wildlife abounds now in the abandoned overgrown cities even though there is still a severe radiation hazard for humans.  It looks like a futuristic apocalyptic movie set.  Hundreds of wolves run wild through the forest that is reclaiming the city streets.  When the wolves come onscreen, Henry gets agitated.  He talks with them when they howl.


He got more engaged when we watched a program on mountain lions.  Talking, growling, and barking.


Every time a big cat came on screen, he just couldn’t help himself.


We couldn’t hear the narrative.


Finally, we had to make him leave the room so we could finish the program.



Saturday, December 17, 2011



Perhaps we were suffering a sleep-deficit.


Woke up at 7:30 this morning, having gotten 9 hours of sleep.  Felt good about that.  Nothing on the agenda for today.  Let the dogs out.  Got them up on the bed and when they settled down we all fell back to sleep……….for another 4 hours!  The first person we saw outside today we had to say Good *Afternoon* to.



Meanwhile, Grandson Alex had his 2nd gymnastics meet.  This time he got blue ribbons in every event and placed second overall in his age group.  He wants to go to the Olympics.



Friday, December 16, 2011



We have a drone on the ground in Iran?  We have drones that are so sophisticated they’re a generation ahead of everybody else?  They’re so advanced that we can’t afford for them to fall into the wrong hands or we’ll lose our technology edge?  The mission of these drones is to fly over the people whose hands we don’t want them to fall into, and there is not a button we can push to blow one up if things go wrong?  There is not a failsafe to protect the technology if we lose control, like making it so the drone will blow up or melt down if we *don’t* push a button?


They thought of that on Mission Impossible 40 years ago!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Skin graft update


They cut a roughly round hole of skin out of my nose to remove the skin cancer; the basal cell carcinoma.  Then, for the skin graft, they cut a slice of skin from just in front of my ear, cut a roughly round plug of skin out of that, and used it to fill the hole they made in my nose.


As the hole in my nose healed, the skin graft didn’t “take”.  The new skin didn’t connect with the old skin and become part of my face.  What the skin graft did do, is function as a scaffold, holding everything in place while new skin grew up from underneath.

I skipped sending the gruesome intermediate photos and descriptions, but overall, it did seem like a big deal.  There is still some healing going on inside, but the external result: some scars and stitch marks, but a face essentially still intact.


Same process for Judy.  Same result.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011



For the price of one.


Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



I like zoos but I don’t like the gorilla exhibits.  When I’m at the zoo, I have to go see the gorillas, but they always give me the creeps.  It’s the eyes.  The eyes speak to me.  They say “Why am I in here and you’re out there?”  I can’t look at those eyes and think they’re any different from mine.




Monday, December 12, 2011



Our football viewing is limited.  There are always the network national games to choose from, but we always want to watch the Broncos.  The networks don’t always show the Broncos.  (I know there is an expensive football package on Direct TV, but we don’t have Direct TV, we have Dish Network.)


But we have options.  First we check ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox on the house television.  If our game isn’t there, we haven’t exhausted our options.  We go to the bus.  We get our satellite TV there, just like in the house, but there are two wrinkles.  First, we have the air-antenna, in case there is something being broadcast locally that’s not on the dish.  Second, the channels work differently in the motorhome than they do in the house.  We get all the local network channels, but only when we’re in South Texas.  They’re “spot beam” channels.  When we’re outside their range, we don’t get them.


But there’s an “app” for that.  We subscribe to a different service that gives us the network channels when we’re away from South Texas.  (We also get them when we’re *in* South Texas.)  There are two feeds: east coast and west coast.  The west-coast feed didn’t help this week, but New York chose to show the Chicago/Denver game.  That set us up for an afternoon picnic in the coach on a cool rainy day, heaters blowing, cheering our favorite team.


The Broncos did their usual-this-year routine; pretending they sucked at football until there were only two minutes to go in the game, trailing 10 to 0.  The Bears cooperated completely by going into a prevent defense which allowed the Broncos to march down the field for a touchdown.  The Bears recovered the “surprise” onside kick, but then did a bonehead move to preserve enough time on the clock, after they went 3 and out, for the Broncos to get within range for a long field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.


The Bears had the ball in field goal range during overtime, but kept running plays until a Bronco punched out the ball and Denver recovered.  Another long field goal, and Denver wins.  Again.


After a 1 and 4 start, the Broncos are now alone in first place in their division.  5 fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks.  6 wins in a row.  7 out of the last 8 since Tebow became the starter.  Wow, when you watch him play, he doesn’t really seem that good.  He just…


What’s that?  Kool-aide?  For me?  Yes, I think I’d like some.  Yum.  May I have some more please?  Thank you.


Tebow Time!  Go Broncos!  Go Tebow!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's not right


Henry is such a scruffy little guy when he hasn’t been groomed.



Then, when he does get groomed, he looks way too pretty for a boy.



It’s just not right.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Paradise Pond


Paradise Pond is a seasonal pond.  When there is enough rain and groundwater, it’s wet.




Lately it has been more like Paradise Prairie though; dry and overgrown with grass 6 feet high, due to the drought.



It rained a little while we were in Port Aransas, but not enough to change Paradise back into a Pond again yet.  In time it will.



Friday, December 9, 2011

That's us in 10 years


We find ourselves saying that a lot lately; looking at a couple somewhere and saying “That’s us in 10 years”.  Sometimes now, we also give it a second thought and have to amend the comment and say “Wait a minute.  That *is* us.  They’re our age.”


We were reminded of this foible by the “old-guy” joke sent to us by our friend John:



I pointed to two old drunks sitting across the bar from us and told my friend Tim,

"That's us in 10 years."   


He said, "That's a mirror, dip-shit."



Thanks John.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday



You know the drill.  I get to be nice to her all day.  (Oops, I mean I *have* to be nice to her all day.)  We spent most of the day together; did all the errands together.  We stopped for lunch at a Mexican food joint by the side of the road we’ve been meaning to stop at.  (I don’t think it would qualify to call it a “restaurant”).  We fought our way though the menu and ordered, even though the menu wasn’t written down anywhere and was delivered entirely verbally and in Spanish with no English clues.  Our server was very patient with us.  It was a lovely lunch and we almost got what we thought we ordered.


The house is now decorated with Christmas lights (Judy did most of that part, but I helped with anything heavy or high).


Just a few more hours and we can go back to the way things usually are.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Got our fish and chips fix.  It was cold, so no dinner on the deck.  We stayed warm by the fire.


A great fireplace.  An old ship’s boiler cut apart, hung with chains, and vented out through the ceiling.


Check out the floor mount.


They like their classic outboard motors there.





They remind me of the old Mercury and Neptune outboards Dad had at Lake Wohlford.  As I recall, the Mercury had a cover, but the Neptune had the open top so you could wrap the start pull rope around the wheel.  Maybe something like this.  The older brothers might remember better.  They might have been old enough to actually drive the boat (if Dad would let them).


We drove south from the cold wind on the beach and have returned to Sandpipers.  Tomorrow’s forecast high here is in the seventies.