Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31st

 

Annie’s birthday.

 

13 years old today.

 

Happy Birthday Annie!

 

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tony update

The facebook post by Daughter Becky today.

 

·         For the last several months, our family has been working on a major decision. It started with a postcard, that was followed up by an email. That escalated to phone calls between Massachusetts and Colorado. That started a round of meetings with counselors. Next came a visitor from Massachusetts, and a meeting with parents, counselors, etc. A big test was studied for, and taken. Then came a whirlwind trip to Massachusetts, and an interview. Test results came back, and were great! Forms were filled out, essays written. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

Today came the answer, and we can now let the world know what we've been doing. After the spring semester, Tony will be leaving high school, and entering Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA. For those of you counting, yes, he's very young - he'll be 16 in May. Simon's Rock is an early-admit college that specializes in taking gifted kids starting at age 14-18 (on average), that are not getting what they need in high school. For years, we've struggled with providing Tony with an appropriate education. We honestly think that this school will give him what he needs to succeed.

Yes, we've thought about this. A LOT! While I would not be comfortable sending him off to a "regular" college, at Simon's Rock, he'll be with his age-mates. It's a small school, but fully accredited (and not for-profit), so credits transfer pretty much anywhere. He will not be getting a high school diploma (unless he takes the GED), but he'll be awarded an Associate's Degree when he is 18. At Simon's Rock, about half of the kids transfer to a bigger school at that point. Most of the remaining kids spend their Junior year abroad. Most big colleges, including the Ivy Leagues, are happy to accept transfers from there. They teach "seminar style", so the average class size is 11, with lots of discussion between professors and students. That will be perfect for Tony's style of learning. He LOVES to debate! All classes are taught by professors, not grad students.

We're on a roller coaster right now. We're proud and nervous. We're stunned to think of him leaving so young, but amazed at the amount of growing he's done this year. Having college right around the corner has done amazing things for his motivation and maturity. So, we've made the decision, gotten his acceptance, and can move on toward helping Tony plan his future!

 

Judy and I say, “Congratulations Tony!”  Go gettum!

 

On a cruise.

 

…you want to do something decadent, right?

 

Our indulgence was side-by-side pedicures.

 

Fire and ice.  Foot soaking, chair massage, salt scrub up to the knees, menthol lotion followed by hot towels.  A hot smooth rock foot and leg massage.

 

Trimming.  Shaping.  By the girl from Norway.

 

When it got to the nail polish I drew the line though.  No nail polish on me.

 

Not unless they could find a really manly color….

 

 

 

 

I think they nailed it with the blue, what do you think?

 

Maybe sometimes a guy just wants to feel pretty.

 

And in case any of my brothers are embarrassed for me, let me say that “We’re all four of us just different flowers from the same garden”.

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Carnival Magic

 

We had a nice stateroom.

 

A nice balcony.

 

An appropriate view.

 

A blue-water wake.

 

And deck chairs galore.

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Carnival Magic.

 

…is a big honking ship!

 

 

 

 

4,000 passengers.  1,500 crew.

 

Oh.  And we’re back.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday

 

Eddie, Annie, and Henry have been dropped off at Boy’s Camp for the week.  (Four Paws Bed and Biscuit.)  We all went for a walk at Cibolo Nature Preserve, then dinner at The Dog and Pony Show (a restaurant) in Boerne.  We’re all back home, packed and ready to go.

 

We’re up at 5, gone by 6 tomorrow morning.  No phone, no internet.

 

Savor the silence.

 

 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday

 

Never know what you’re going to find in Texas.

 

Drive around, you might see a cedar waxwing,

 

…an exotic goat.

 

…or a wildebeast.

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday

 

Travel day.  We’ve gone from Sandpipers in Edinburg, to Jeff and Carol’s in Bandera.

 

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=201563872774147443355.0004c50946d41d08c1704&msa=0&ll=29.764377,-99.008789&spn=11.411439,26.784668

 

270 miles.  I figure there’s no need to say Texas when I say where we are, because there is no way we’re getting out of Texas in one day!

 

Anyway, there are further plans afoot.  We’ll hang out here in the motorhome at Jeff and Carol’s for a couple days.  On Saturday we’ll put Annie, Henry, and Eddie in Doggie Camp for a week.  Early Sunday morning the four of us drive to Galveston and get on a boat, the Carnival Magic.  Starting Sunday evening, our boat takes us to the Western Caribbean.  Two days at sea, one day in Honduras, one day in Belize, one day on Cozumel, then two days at sea to get back to Galveston.  It probably won’t suck.

 

We’re not taking computers or cellphones, so there will be radio silence for a week.  We’ll be off the grid.  Cold turkey.  Completely off the planet.

 

We’ll be sure to let you all know when we’re back.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gravity

 

My weight hasn’t changed for years.  I started getting a little heavy recently and got as high as 180 pounds.  We cut back on food a little bit and now I’m back in the low 170s again.  So imagine my surprise when I tried on some old pants I haven’t worn in several years and the waist didn’t fit at all.  Not even close!  The length still works, and that’s a relief, I can still say I’m 5’ 9”, but not so with the waistband.  Same weight.  Different waist.  Only one explanation I can think of.

 

Damn that gravity anyway!

 

 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our daughter inspired us

 

…to get flu shots.

 

Her family came down with the flu.  She got a midnight phone call from two floors below.  Tony, sleeping in the basement, woke up sick, couldn’t get out of bed, and needed help cleaning up.  That was quite the adventure, and Becky told the story well, making it tragic and funny at the same time.  It finally ended with a middle of the night rug shampoo.  That was bad enough, but Becky, having gathered momentum, proceed to tell an even worse story, about how Brian woke up sick in the middle of the night and it was so awful the dog, having been woken up out of a sound sleep, took one look at the floor next to Brian and threw up all over the bed.  Another long night.

Entertaining as Becky’s stories were, they were all the incentive we needed to go out and get our flu shots the next morning.

 

 

Monday, January 14, 2013

A million miles

 

A long time ago, Judy and I decided to travel together, wherever those travels took us.  We got to thinking about that just the other day and counted up our miles as best we could.  That road together has covered way more than a million miles.  We’re working on our second million!

 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Broncos

 

That was a tough game.  Both teams had their chances.  Double overtime.  Oh well; what can you do.  Every team but one is going to lose.

 

The Niners are still in it.  Go Niners, Hawks, Texans!

 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Four brothers

 

Each cheering for a different football team.  Each with a team in the playoffs.

 

Bill – Seahawks

Tom – Texans

David – Niners

Steve – Broncos

 

Four separate games.  None of these teams play against each other this weekend.  This weekend we can all be fans *with* each other.  Go Hawks, Texans, Niners, Broncos!!!

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A good looking Turkey Vulture.

 

Ready for the big time.  Ready for his close-up.

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

.and then, and then.

 

…we got invited to an 18th Century Jeffersonian meal; a meal prepared entirely from Thomas Jefferson’s own recipes.  It even came with a menu!

 

 

The muffins were heavy, chewy, and flavorful.  The best we’ve ever eaten.  The soup a thin broth with homemade noodles.  Virginia Ham sliced paper thin provided a salty flavor complimenting the other food on the plate.  White beans with brown onion sauce.  Cabbage.  Sweet potatoes.  Butter sauce.  Simple food.  Simple flavors.

 

Another excellent adventure.

 

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rouladen

 

And then there was rouladen.  With potato dumplings, pickled cabbage, and sauce.

 

Our friends from Canada (by way of Germany) volunteered a home-cooked German meal.  Rouladen is bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles, rolled up in thinly sliced beef, slow-cooked, then covered in sauce.

 

A culinary adventure.  All new flavors for us.  Delicious. 

 

 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Judy makes sweet wings

 

….from a recipe we got from our daughter.

 

Tender wings like candy, a salad, and some steamed broccoli.  Yum!

 

 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

To those of you.

 

…who credit and compliment my birding skills for finding the eastern screech owl in the drain hole, I just want to say “Thank you.”, and “Sometimes skill happens.”

 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t skill that happened on this occasion though.  We have to allow for “right place at the right time”, knowing who to ask, and occasionally, dumb luck.  After walking past that spot five times that day, someone asked me if I’d seen the eastern screech owl and pointed it out to me. 

 

But I’m sure, sometimes, skill happens…

 

 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Can you find the .

 

…Eastern Screech Owl in this picture?

 

Hint:  You can’t.  It’s too small to see in this photo, but this is where he is.

 

 

But zoom in a little…

 

…and a little more…

 

…and there he is!

 

 

…a fine looking little guy.

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hiding in plain sight

 

January 1st.  Donna Reservoir.  We’re looking for two special birds.  We found the Long-tailed Duck and took a bunch of pictures.  Once we were done with that, we started looking for the Surf Scoter, but he was nowhere to be found.  We looked at every Scaup.  There were hundreds to sort through.  There were a few Shovelers and Canvasbacks, but mostly Scaup.  No luck.

 

We didn’t really need the Surf Scoter.  Getting the Long-tailed Duck was enough reward for one day’s effort.  We went on our way.  We birded some more at other places.  We went home.  We had dinner.  I wrote the trip report.  I sent out pictures of the Long-tailed Duck.

 

I got a phone call from Jon.  He said “Did you see that duck right behind your Long-tailed Duck?”  I told him not to get excited.  The duck in the background had caught my eye before I sent out the pictures.  I had zoomed in a little and saw that it was a Scaup with its head turned, right in front of a Canvasback.  Jon suggested I look again.  The duck behind the duck behind the Long-tailed Duck in the middle of the picture?  That’s not a Canvasback.  That’s the Surf Scoter we couldn’t find!

 

See the orange bill?  That’s him.  Hiding in plain sight!

 

This birding can be really hard (and occasionally embarrassing).

 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

 

A quiet celebration last night.  A time for reflection.  I thought about birds.

 

2012 was a good year.  We saw 407 species from Texas to Montana and back.  We added 19 birds to our life-list.  But the New Year means it’s time for a new year-list.  Every bird we see today will be a new one for the list!

 

We went birding.  It was cool and a little rainy (we’re thrilled about getting some rain) so we did a lot of driving and not much walking.  Saw 55 species, including Sandhill Cranes,

 

 

Merlin, Vermilion Flycatcher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird (how many people get to see hummingbirds in January?),

 

 

good looks at the female Long-tailed Duck,

 

 

 

and a few hundred Green Parakeets.

 

Happy New Year.