Thursday, February 28, 2013

Before her surgery.


Judy decided to freshen up the front garden.  It had gotten overgrown, so she pulled most everything out, redid the borders with some planter boxes set in the ground, and one of us got to spread about 1,500 pounds of river rocks.





….and she found planter boxes for the deck railings.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cloudy days


Made up of clouds of blackbirds.






Redwing Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and the occasional Yellow-headed Blackbird.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maybe I'm anorexic.


When I got to 180 pounds, I knew that was heavier than I wanted to be.  I decided to lose 10 pounds.  170 just sounds like a good weight, doesn’t it?  Judy and I started paying attention to portion size; she started feeding us on the next size plate down from full-size dinner plates.  We weren’t eating many starches, but cut back on them even a little more.  Less bread, potatoes, and rice.


Now I weigh 170 pounds, but I look in the mirror and think I look like I should still lose 10 pounds!  How did that happen?  Where did that other 10 pounds go I just lost?  …or maybe better put, where did it go from?



Monday, February 25, 2013

Weather forecast


..for Edinburg, TX from a few days ago.


It looks like we’re through the worst of winter.



Sunday, February 24, 2013



…has a new trick.


We come home from errands to find her motionless on the couch.  We stomp our feet.  Nothing.  We call her.  Unresponsive.  We walk over and shake her.  She wakes up and is surprised and delighted to see us!


That Annie…



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.




…and sorry I could not travel both

and be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.


In a figurative sense, we face this decision every day.  Purely literally, with my daily walks, I deal with it frequently as well.


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


When I was a younger man, Robert Frost spoke directly to me with his words.  It is so hard to pass up one trail in favor of another, when knowing how “way leads on to way” I doubt if I’ll ever make it back.


Now that I’m older, the final stanza particularly resonates.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Now that it is “ages and ages hence”, I am so well aware of the many roads not taken, and so well satisfied by the many I have.  Literally and figuratively.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

There must be a Park conspiracy.


…to thwart my frozen pizza plan.  Henry and Barbara fed us last night.  This morning Penna showed up with omelets and toast for brunch!



Judy had a great night last night, slept the whole way through, and is feeling so good now she insisted I take her to the store for some grocery shopping.


Now she wants the big bandages gone and some smaller ones in their place.  I think if I start the lawn mower for her she’s ready to resume mowing the yard!



Couldn’t come up with pizza for dinner tonight.  We had to make do with grilled rib-eye (cut up into bite sized bits), steamed broccoli, and sliced tomatoes.


Maybe she can have pizza tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home again!



Comfy.  (…but I’m going to have to come up with a picture of Judy while she’s awake soon or everyone is going to figure out I’m recreating my favorite scenes from Weekend at Bernie’s.)


Really, the surgery went well.  The recovery is going well.  The pain meds make her pretty sleepy, but it doesn’t seem like a bad idea for her to pass the time with some sleep right now.  I meant to make it to the gas station for dinner, but before I could, Barb and Henry dropped by and ruined my frozen pizza plan with a perfectly delicious spicy pork stew.  There was even enough for leftovers!  I may not get to implement pizza for days now.


It’s good to be home.  It won’t be quite normal here for a while, but this is as close as it has been the last few days.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A long day


But the shoulder surgery is done.  We’re home to the hotel room.


An hour and a half of surgery.  The surgeon repaired her rotator cuff tendon and the biceps tendon as well (arthroscopically).  Otherwise, her shoulder was in good shape.  No arthritis or bones spur issues.  It’ll hurt a lot in the days to come.  She’ll be in a sling for six weeks.


She didn’t get to eat before surgery, so she was hungry tonight. Anything she wants for dinner.  We split a Whataburger.


Tomorrow we drive back to Sandpipers to recuperate in the sun on the deck.  We don’t see the doctor again for two weeks.



Monday, February 18, 2013

Poked and prodded


The pre-surgical work is done.  Judy got an EKG, blood test, urinalysis, chest x-ray, and they lightened our wallet.  The surgery has been moved back an hour to 3pm tomorrow.  Check-in at 1.  No food or drink after midnight tonight.  Not even water!


The hotel provided an ottoman for the chair.  We’ve got all the pillows we can use to make Judy as comfortable as possible without lying down.


A trying time, but Judy will be pretty stoned after, so that should help.  And just in case it gets stressful for me too, there is plenty of beer and wine in the mini-fridge.  I just need to not get as hammered as Judy!


And tonight….  Judy dodged another pizza.  Dinner on the deck at Snoopy’s.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The motorhome is in San Antonio


Our house is in Edinburg.  We’re in Corpus Christi in a motel room.


Tomorrow morning, Judy gets her pre surgery blood work.  Tuesday, she actually gets the work done.  No pizza for her tonight.  We went to the Asian CafĂ© for Chinese.



Saturday, February 16, 2013



After her shoulder surgery she won’t be able to lie down flat for weeks.  She’ll have to sleep in the recliner chair.  Instead of having her at the other end of the house by herself, we rearranged the bedroom to make room for the recliner.

Now we can at least be in the same room.


With Judy going in for repairs though, what most of you are probably wondering now is:  “What is Steve going to do while Judy has one shoulder out of service?  Who is going to fix him dinner?”


Well, rest assured, Steve is fully capable of handling this situation.  Judy can have frozen pizza from the gas station for dinner every night if she wants.  And in the unlikely event she wants something else, we can change it up with a Blizzard from Dairy Queen!



I think we can expect a speedy recovery.


Friday, February 15, 2013

A White-faced Ibis



…doing his best Roadrunner impression.


Thursday, February 14, 2013



We went on a parrot quest, and I got stung in the face.


I wasn’t stung by a parrot.  The sting actually came first.  Judy left a partially full coke bottle unattended.  I discovered it and took a drink.  I realized there was a problem when the coke in my mouth started to wiggle.  The coke and the bee all ended up on the floor, but not before the bee left a stinger in my lip from the inside.  I guess I’m not allergic to bee stings.  My throat didn’t swell up.  It didn’t get hard to breath or anything.  I got the stinger out (shortly after the bee), and the burning did subside after a while.  It left my face kind of numb though; kind of like I’ve been to an evil dentist.  I think my mustache does a good job of hiding the swollen lip, so maybe no-one will ever even know I got stung in the face.



The result of our parroting was more positive.  We drove to Brownsville at dusk and watched a few hundred Red-crowned Parrots fly in to their roost.


It was kind of late when they started, so a lot of my pictures were more like silhouettes.


We were able to pick out a few White-fronted


Red-lored (you can tell they’re red-lored by the yellow on their faces)



and Yellow-headed as well.


And one Green Parakeet.

You can tell it’s a parakeet by the long tail.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Judy update


Got the call-back from the imaging center.  There is a torn tendon in her rotator cuff.  The surgeon is in Corpus Christi.  We’ll drop the pets off at the doggie spa in McAllen next Monday and drive up to Corpus and stay in a hotel there.  We’ll do the preliminary work on Monday afternoon, then surgery on Tuesday.  We’ll stay in Corpus another night to make sure everything is okay before we drive home on Wednesday.


Judy has already had this surgery twice on her right shoulder so we know what to expect.  She’ll be uncomfortable lying down for a while.  We have a smaller recliner chair for her.  We’ll move that into the bedroom so she won’t have to sleep in the front room by herself.


A few weeks of recovery and rehab and she’ll be better than before.  Well, her shoulder will be anyway.



It has been warm lately.  The highs have been in the 80s, and a couple days ago it was 93.  I thought that meant winter was over, but noooo……  Tonight it got so cold after dark we had to turn the furnace on.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013



…and Austin’s first week in Karate.




(He’s the first ninja on the right.)


(And that’s not the instructor he keeps looking at, there’s a mirror over there.)



Monday, February 11, 2013

A couple weeks ago


…Alex took second overall in a gymnastics meet.  Way to go Alex.  Second place.


High bar:




Parallel bars:

This one is a really high score.


And Pommel horse:

Well, he scored pretty well on this one too.



This last week, he took first.




Yeaa Alex!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Parakeet quest


About 4:30 in the afternoon, a few Green Parakeets start gathering on wires in McAllen.


Then, they pop over to the fountain for a drink.



The flock continues to grow.  They relocate to another section of the street in a great chattering swirl.



…and line up on wires again.


Then, just as it was getting dark, out of 400 Green Parakeets, I pick out the lone Mitred Parakeet.

Second from the left.  A little larger than the Green Parakeets.  Red forehead.



Life is good.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

I watch the mindless violence


On television.  On video games.  Violence without consequences.  It’s mind-numbing.


Killing is more real than that.


My mind wanders back to a moment.  In Viet-Nam I never had to put a person in my sights and pull the trigger.  That was not my primary job.  My primary job was to provide ammunition to the people whose primary job it was.  It was my secondary job; pulling the trigger.  Was I well programmed enough to do that?  Could I hold the bead on another person while I pulled the trigger, knowing the consequences; extinguishing the life of another human being?  I never had to find out.  Might I have lifted off him ever so slightly as I pulled the trigger, trusting that I would just miss?  It would be excusable to just miss.  It would be hard to tell if a person just missed, or just missed on purpose.  It never occurred to me at the time, but it occurs to me now.


There was a moment though, when another person might have faced that same decision.  Our entire unit was under fire.   I was in an exposed position.  So was Mosley.  We found what cover we could and scanned for targets.  All we got was jungle a hundred yards away.  Our own men were between us and the jungle.  We held our fire.  I heard the bullets snap through the branches over my head, but no leaves or branches fell on me.  I looked up to see no foliage above me.  I was hearing the sound of bullets snapping through the air as they went past my head.  I don’t think either of us ever got full cover.  How could the bullets come that close without actually hitting us?


Only now has it occurred to me to wonder.  Was there another man out there with a fellow human being in his sights?  Did he try to hold that bead steady and just miss, or was it just too real?  Did he shift his aim slightly as he pulled the trigger so that he would barely miss, just close enough that no-one could tell if he missed on purpose or not?


Friday, February 8, 2013

Here's a deer


…you don’t often see.

Axis deer.


Wandering around the edge of town.


Mule deer and white-tailed deer have spots when they’re fawns.


Axis deer always have spots.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Judy and the MRI machine


Never a good combination.


We drove to Corpus this morning for an appointment with Judy’s orthopedic surgeon.  He fixed her right shoulder a couple years back and it’s still working just fine.  Now it may be time for him to do some work on her left one.  He couldn’t tell for sure from the X-rays at the appointment, so he got her scheduled into an MRI the very same day.  An MRI for my claustrophobe wife.  Time for lunch, pick up some drugs from the pharmacy, and drive to the Imaging Center on the other side of town.  It’s an “open” MRI, so how bad could it be?


10 mg of Diazepam, an hour or so in the waiting room, and Judy’s getting pretty loaded.  When we got into the imaging room and Judy saw the “open” MRI machine, the stakes got higher.  Now, not only is it Judy versus the MRI, it’s Adrenaline versus Diazepam.  Diazepam was overmatched.


Some careful preparation, minimal straps and restrictions, a little deep breathing, and in she went.  They only needed her in the machine for 14 minutes.  Judy wasn’t nearly stoned enough for that, but somehow she made it through.  We were all exhausted, but she emerged victorious.  MRI complete and the machine escaped unscathed.


An uneventful drive home.  I expected more snoozing from one of us, but the sedative had been totally neutralized.  Judy was even still awake enough to get some food out of the fridge for us for dinner.  What a woman!


Next week we’ll find out what comes next for the shoulder.



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last weekend


We went on a birding quest.  South Padre Island.  There is an owl there that is not supposed to be there.  A tiny little Flammulated Owl.  Presumably he goes out to hunt each night, but every morning he is in the same group of trees next to the Convention Center.  He parks himself way deep in the foliage, looks exactly like tree bark, and holds perfectly still sleeping all day.


When we arrived, there was a group of people gathered around the spot, all starting intently through their binoculars, but none of them actually seeing the bird.  We joined the group and scanned the scrub.  After 20 minutes, someone found him and put a scope on him.  We never did see him through the binoculars, but I got to look through the scope and get a full view of his face.  Life bird!


I couldn’t get a picture of him.  Here is one I lifted off the internet of a sleeping bird.

Ours wasn’t nearly this exposed.


Then we headed for the other end of the island.  There has been a Black-legged Kittiwake flying around with the Forster’s Terns at the jetty.  When we got there, the only Forster’s Terns we could see were flying all the way out at the far end.  This is different.  There is not group of people with binoculars standing around pointing.  We’re the only ones there with binoculars.  We put on our jetty shoes and started out.


It takes a lot of concentration for people our age to walk on the jetty.  No carefree boulder hopping for us; we’re watching our step!  So out we go, watching our step, stopping periodically to see if we’re close enough to the feeding terns to pick out a kittiwake yet.  Not yet.  Keep going.


Almost all the way to the end of the jetty, terns still in the distance, I look down at three laughing gulls.  Make that two laughing gulls and a black-legged kittiwake standing on the jetty!




A nice pirate ship in the sunset on our way home.