Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!


…and a particularly good Leap Day it is for us.  Daughter Becky arrived for a visit.





Tuesday, February 28, 2012





What more can I say?



Monday, February 27, 2012

A few weeks ago.


We paid less than $3 per gallon for gasoline.


Go figure.



Sunday, February 26, 2012


The mockingbird in the tree outside our door has found his voice after a quiet winter.

The ground is getting some color.

The Huisache trees are in full bloom.

The sandhill cranes are circling in search of thermals.

I don’t think it’s time for the cranes to migrate north yet. Maybe it just feels good to soar.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Grandson Alex


You remember Alex, the 8 year-old.  He got to go to a gymnastics meet at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.


Those must be regulation height rings.  How did they even get him up that high?  Did they throw him up there?


He did well, and the team got 3rd place out of 32 teams!



Friday, February 24, 2012

Mardi Gras


Has come and gone.


Fat Tuesday, there was a parade.  There were decorated golf carts, decorated people, bicycles, baton twirlers, a Grand Marshal, cheering spectators, and beads.  The guy at the end might have had a broom and a shovel.


But that’s all over now.  Today there was a parade for the Olympics.  (We celebrate the Olympics *every* year.)  There were decorated golf carts, decorated people, bicycles, baton twirlers, a Grand Marshal, and cheering spectators.  The guy at the end might have had a broom and a shovel.


Life at Sandpipers.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

The doctor told me


…that I could not be a natural carnivore because early humans only ate fruits and nuts.


“And anything they could chase down and kill with a stick,”  I added helpfully.


“No, not until after the flood.”  She explained in her charming Jamaican accent.  “Until then, it was forbidden to eat an animal.”


“Oh no!  You’re advising me based on the bible?”


“And what else would I base it on?” she asked.  (I love that accent.)


I suggested logic and common sense; (the best I could do on short notice).


“Oh.  Well then.”  She said, and considerately continued the interview with no further religious references.


Texas.  It’s a whole ‘nother place.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another house guest







She fits right in.  She can come back any time.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012



We sent out the picture of Petey and his mini-me Eddie.


Here is another mini-me picture.


Son-in-law Brian with our youngest grandkid Austin, at Matt and Lindsay’s wedding.



Monday, February 20, 2012





Another player has joined the game.  A person who says he knows what he’s talking about.  Karen Mulholland’s Brother Ken.  Thank you Karen for referring our question to him.


Apparently the standpipes are not so much for shock absorption from changes in flow rate as they are vents to let out trapped air.  Ken says:


“They are called "standpipes" and are all over California also.  They are used primarily as air vents.  Concrete lines are very sensitive to being damaged from large air bubbles that get compressed ahead of a surge of water, even at low pressure (gravity fed).  The pipeline can literally explode from the force.  The shock force created by a moving mass of water compressing a large bubble (as in an empty pipeline that is not totally open on the end or maybe has a low spot somewhere that is filled with water and acts as a blockage) can be enormous.  The vents have to be tall enough to accept the pressure needed to maintain the desired flow.  For example, a desired line pressure of 10 psi would require a standpipe 28 feet high!  Put 11 psi into a pipeline with a shorter standpipe, and it will run over, so they are not very efficient in that regard.  They also may contain one or more valves.  Sometimes there are multiple valves, and the standpipe is used as a distribution point for multiple independent pipelines.”


This explanation has an air of authority to it.  It even sounds right.  I’m buying it.  That is now my story and I’m sticking to it.


Thank you Ken.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Future I-69 Corridor


That’s what the signs say.  Future I-69 Corridor.  We see them on the highway north of here.  There are two main north-south highways out of South Texas.  The puzzling part is that we see the signs on both of the roads north.  How can an interstate highway be two places at once?  Have they just not made up their minds yet?


I had to look it up.  Interstate-69 is being built across the U.S. as a trade-route from Canada to Mexico.  From the Canada border at Port Huron, Michigan south to the Mexico border in Texas.  The strange thing it does in South Texas is to split into three different roads serving three different border crossings at Laredo, Pharr and Brownsville.  Three different roads that are all Interstate-69!


Who knew?



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Looking up


Standing.  Looking up through binoculars.  Focused on that little bird high in the tree.  Shuffling about to get a better view; not taking my eyes off it.  I can’t quite get it.  Don’t know which kind of bird it is yet.  I realize I’m stamping my right foot.  Still trying to get the bird.  My right foot burns.  I’m wearing sandals.


I give up on the bird and look down at my foot.  Nothing unusual.  It still stings.  I put down my binoculars, take off my sunglasses, put on my reading glasses, bend over and take a close look at my burning foot.  Tiny tiny little ants.  While I was looking up, not where my feet were, I apparently spent some time standing on a fire-ant hill.


A can Off in my back pocket.  I spray bug repellant on my foot.  The ants leave.  My foot still burns.  It will for a few days.  I go back after the bird.



Friday, February 17, 2012

We can see the air


Temperature in the mid 70s.  98% humidity.  We look across the field into the mist.


After dehydrating for all those years of Colorado high dry weather, our skin feels soo good now.  We’ve rehydrated.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

It rained


It rained off and on for a week.  Finally.  But in the process, some of the carpet in the coach got wet.  In Colorado, that would be no problem.  Just open of the doors and windows and everything would be dry in a day.  But here, open up the doors and windows to 98% humidity outside, and nothing happens inside.  There is nowhere for the moisture to go.


So what we do is close up all the doors and windows, turn on the air conditioners, and set the temperature low.  In the process of chilling the air, the air conditioners suck moisture out and drain it to the outside.  That takes a little longer.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eddie is gone


Jeff and Carol came back yesterday to reclaim him.


Before they left, we got Eddie and Petey together one more time.  Petey lives here in the park.  He’s a Bernese Mountain Dog.  He’s kind of big.


Eddie, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, not so big.


Put them together…


Eddie is Petey’s mini-me.



Sunday, February 12, 2012




Still trying to figure them out.


They’re everywhere here.  They won’t leave me alone.


You buy your share of water from the Water District.  The Water District controls when each system gets water from the canals.  When your turn comes up, the water comes on.


If you put water into a system faster than your pipes can take it, vertical cisterns could absorb some of the excess.  They couldn’t hold all of it, they’re not big enough to be for water storage, but they could serve as shock absorbers.  You could accept water at a higher flow-rate than your pipes could handle and any excess would be stored vertically, ready to be returned at the appropriate time by gravity.  If it’s a gravity-fed system, a standpipe higher than the water source would neutralize any overage.


I don’t know if I’m on the right track, but I’m polishing the concept nonetheless.  In the meantime, if someone actually knows irrigation systems, feel free to jump in and help me out here.






Saturday, February 11, 2012

Life away from Sandpipers


We logged a few miles at the Mission Nature Park.



We have to give Eddie back in a couple days.  We’re trying to make sure he doesn’t want to go.



Friday, February 10, 2012

We did it!


We got the right bed.


Natural latex (from trees) foam.  No petroleum.  No glue.  Non-woven organic cotton cover.  It’s soft.  It supports.  It breathes.


It’s heavy.  The top mattress alone weighs 100 pounds, but that shouldn’t be a factor now that we’ve got it dragged into place.


Life is good.  Sleep is good.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life at Sandpipers


We love our Golf Cart rides.





Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



We get Black-crowned night herons all the time.


Sometimes we get trees full of them.



But yellow-crowned Night Herons.  That’s different.


We don’t get nearly so many of them.



Monday, February 6, 2012



He rode up on his bicycle.  I said “Hey”.


He said “Hey; how you doing?”


I said “Fine”.


He rode on.


Fifteen minutes later, maybe twenty, he was dead on the floor of the pool shower.  Heart attack.


Not a close friend to us; a friendly acquaintance.  We saw him every day.  Always a kind word.  A close friend to many here.


Sorry he’s gone.



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Sunday


48 degrees.  Wind.  Rain off and on.  I should go birding.


There has been a Northern-beardless Tyrannulet reported at Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen.  I found the pack of chipping sparrows the Tyrannulet has been hanging out with.  I found a Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Hermit Thrush, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a Pine Warbler - a new year-bird, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, but no Tyrannulet.  A nice walk though.


Sunday afternoon.  We liked the Hyundai Vampire commercial the best.


Eddie doesn’t understand the dog-door at all.  Annie and Henry run over to the wall and disappear.  Suddenly two dogs that look just like them appear outside on the deck.  Eddie can see them through the sliding glass door.  He has to growl and bark.  Then, from the wall,  Annie and Henry are suddenly back inside again.  Life is a mystery.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday morning


21 degrees.  Still snowing.  I don’t know how much more of this Colorado snow we can take.  We have our coffee on the deck.


Drove 80 miles to Riviera to meet Jeff and Carol at noon.  We met them halfway between here and Gulf Waters in Port Aransas.  They passed off Eddie (the King Charles Spaniel) to us.  He’s going to stay with us for a week while they go on a trip.  We’ll have doggie camp at Annie and Henry’s while they’re gone.


On our way north to get Eddie, we drove into a weather front headed south.  The temperature, *our* temperature this time, dropped 20 degrees in just a few minutes.  That’s supposed to be our new weather pattern for the next week.  Finally.  Cooler weather and some rain.


Drove back to Edinburg.  Saw a few birds on the way.  Fields of Sandhill Cranes.  Snow geese.



Tomorrow; The Superbowl!


Actually, we’re pretty much done with football for the year, but we’ll be sure to tune in to the Superbowl for the commercials.


Snow Day!


Friday.  71 degrees at 7am here.  I go to work in the morning, but you have to remember my commute.  Sure, it’s a digital commute, but still, think about the other end of it.


Judy watches 9 News Denver weather on the iPad while we’re on the deck having coffee.  28 degrees and snowing.  Heavy accumulation.  Forecast to continue all day.  Schools and businesses closed.  You wouldn’t want me to go to work in conditions like that would you?


It snowed all day.  Maybe it will let up tomorrow.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Urban birding


The car needs an oil change.  I need a walk.  There are birds.  Time for some multi-tasking.


I drive to the shop in Edinburg and drop off the car.  I walk through a mix of commercial, residential, and agricultural property, punctuated by irrigation canals.  It is overcast, foggy, misty, with a light rain off and on.  It is not cold though.  It’s T-shirt weather.


I walk for an hour and a half, 4 ½ miles, and see 23 species of birds:


Blue-winged Teal  4

Northern Shoveler  5

Least Grebe  1

Pied-billed Grebe  1

Neotropic Cormorant  7

Great Blue Heron  1

Great Egret  4

Snowy Egret  1

Roseate Spoonbill  2

American Kestrel  1

American Coot  2

Rock Pigeon  8

Eurasian Collared-Dove  6

Mourning Dove  3

Golden-fronted Woodpecker  1

Great Kiskadee  3

Loggerhead Shrike  1

Northern Mockingbird  8

Curve-billed Thrasher  2

European Starling  6

Pyrrhuloxia  2

Great-tailed Grackle  35

House Sparrow  50


I buy back the car and head home.  Missions accomplished.



Not an overwhelming amount of birds; like at a wildlife refuge, but it wasn’t all House Sparrows either.  Some pretty good birds for a neighborhood.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012



Got some upholstery work done: