Tuesday, April 30, 2013

.a new challenge


Can you spot the…


Whip-poor-will in this picture?





Monday, April 29, 2013

You know that old saying.


…Let sleeping ducks lie.








Sunday, April 28, 2013

Least Bittern







Then he flew away.



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Can you find the.


Least Bittern in this picture?


I had a wider field of view to find him in.  I had an unfair advantage though, because I saw him move.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Cuz'n Ed weighs in.


…with this perspective on our Founding Fathers’ grant of the inalienable right to bear arms:


They didn't have assault rifles in 1791 when the 2nd amendment was passed.  Arms – specifically, guns – as they existed at the time of the ratification:


Guns in 1791 WOULD

* ...be made by a gunsmith.

* ...have rudimentary rifling.

* ...be single-shot weapons.

* ...be loaded through the muzzle.

* ...fire by means of a flintlock.


Guns in 1791 WOULD NOT

* ...have interchangeable parts. (Popularized in 1798)

* ...be revolvers. (Invented in 1835)

* ...be breachloaded. (Popularized in 1810)

* ...use smokeless powder. (Invented in 1885)

* ...use a percussion cap, necessary for modern cartridged bullets. (Invented in 1842)

* ...load bullets from a clip. (Invented in 1890)



Thursday, April 25, 2013



My dark passenger, Earl the Black Pearl, is still quiet.  I’ve been pain-free for two weeks now.  We’re not lulled into a sense of security though.  We know he’s still in there.


It has been a long time waiting to see the urologist, but we finally saw him on Wednesday.  It was interesting.  We got to see the DVD of the CAT scan from April 1st.  From the chest down, every few millimeters, we got to see me in slices (cross-sections).  Earl is an 8mm stone trying to get through a 2mm passage.  He’s blocking the right ureter as best he can.


We discussed options, and settled on something other than pain and narcotics.  We can go in there and get him.  It will involve a surgery or two, and take weeks or months altogether, but eventually we should be able to blow him up with an ultrasound beam (from outside) or a laser beam (from inside).  I’ll still have to pass him, but hopefully passing him in pieces will be more manageable than what I’ve experienced so far.


We’ll do a CAT Scan tomorrow to find out exactly where he’s hiding now.  In another week or so, they’ll put in a stent to allow normal kidney function on the right side for a while.


Stay tuned…


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A rainy day


It rained last night.  And continued this morning.  There were puddles on the ground!


I can’t remember the last time it rained.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Mandevilla


Looking a little lean, a while back, all trimmed up and tied up, ready to burst forth in the spring.


Now, it’s busy bursting forth, as expected.




Monday, April 22, 2013

A couple weeks ago,


While I’m trying to move a kidney stone along, I’m in the emergency room answering questions.  In Texas, in addition to all the other questions, they ask what religion you are.  He asked.  I said “none”.  He didn’t understand the answer.  He listed the choices.  I said “none”.


“None of the above?” he asked.


I said “none”.


“Don’t want to say, huh?”


“I just said.  None.”


He wrote something down.  Probably “undecided”.



Sunday, April 21, 2013



The Big Day started in Port Aransas, where it usually does.  Judy and I aren’t there, we’re still at Sandpipers 170 miles south.  Judy stayed here, I went there; this is not something Judy wants to do.  A Big Day.  I’ve described it before as “Like having fun, but different.”  Judy agrees.  So really the Big Day started the day before for me.  I drove to Port Aransas (with a stop at Snoopy’s for an early dinner).  I checked into a room and slept for three hours before meeting Jon at midnight.  I wanted to be well-rested.


You know it’s really Jon’s Big Day.  He plans it.  We both do it, we both look and listen, but he spots way more birds way faster than I do.  There are other people that help as well.  People call and text during the day to say what they’re seeing and where.  Usually we don’t divert much from our itinerary, but by the end of the day when we’re scratching out every last bird we can before dark, those calls and texts really help.  There was a fair amount of dashing back and forth that last hour or two and we got some cool migrants as a result.


A whole bunch of year-birds for me.  A few year-birds for Jon, but he’s already doing a Texas Year, so he’s been hard at it since January 1st.  One new Lifer for me; the Whip-poor-will.  Good to get that one.  Now I still need to hear one call.  I may have to go a little farther east for that.  Maybe Georgia.


So, as I said before, a good Big Day, but throw in an extra 350 miles of driving for me to pull it off this year.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's that time again


The Big Day.


It happens every year about this time.  One day.  We have 24 hours to see how many species we can identify.  We begin in Nueces County on the boardwalk in the marsh listening for rails.  We hear a few coots, teal, and shovelers.  A sora goes off.  We go out west to Jim Wells County.  There is a wind from the south that makes it a little hard to hear, but by dawn we have 35 birds.  An eastern screech-owl and a great horned owl.  Nightjars:  Common pauraque, common poorwill, chuck-will’s widow, common nighthawk, lesser nighthawk.  Later on we got a whip-poor-will.


The wind dies down.  We go back through Jim Wells County to Nueces County.  We get a lot more birds.  We’re at 125 birds when the front hits.  It’s a black wall from the north with 40mph winds, gusting higher.  It blasts us.  The sky is suddenly filled with raptors that had been migrating high overhead.  Broad-winged hawks, Swainson’s hawks, and Mississippi kites.  They headed for the trees.


Back on the coast it’s still windy from the north, but we get a lot of migrants.  The north wind knocks them down.  Warblers, flycatchers, pewees, and tanagers.  Then it’s to the point where it’s hard to get new birds.  #197, Cape may warbler.  That’s a really good one.  It’s getting close to dark.  #198, the other waterthrush, northern.  Suddenly there are new birds.  #199, #200, #201, Canada warbler, Kentucky warbler, and Swainson’s thrush.  #202, chestnut-sided warbler.  We’re almost done.  One more trip out the boardwalk to see if we can hear a rail, and right out there exactly where no-one would expect to find a warbler, #203, golden-winged warbler.  That could be my favorite warbler.  Last bird of the night.


20 hours of birding.  250 miles in the car.  203 birds.  Not a record, but a good Big Day.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's take on the Constitution


Would we let a bunch of people from another country come in and tell us how to run ours?  Not likely.


How is that different from a bunch of old white guys from the 1700s telling us what to do now?  How is what they knew then relevant to today?  Sure, you say, our Constitution is a living document.  There are provisions for changing it by amendment; but what are the chances of that; really?  When was the last amendment to the constitution?  The twenty-seventh amendment.  It was submitted to the states for ratification in 1789 and was adopted in 1992.  It was about when changes in congressional salaries can take effect.  Look at our current political process.  What are the chances of consensus on a meaningful amendment to the constitution now?


What is it with our reverence for the constitution?  Shouldn’t people from our own time and place guide our path?



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Along the way


Monk Parakeet making a messy nest.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013



Finally.  My visit with the Urologist to find out where Earl is and what to do about him.  Maybe our chance for a preemptive strike.  At least we can discuss our options and make a plan.


Not.  Personal emergency for the doctor.  We got rescheduled to next week.


Meanwhile, we got lilies in the morning light.



Monday, April 15, 2013

Along the way


Along the way

Great Egret in breeding plumage


His face turns green…


…a hooded warbler.



…and a prothonotary warbler.






Sunday, April 14, 2013

Momma Killdeer


Just standing around in the field.


As I approach, she starts to walk away, then suddenly falls to the ground with a broken wing(or leg)(or both).


I look the other direction and find the little furry ping pong balls on stilts.






I snap a few pictures while Mom’s injuries get more severe.


An easy victim, she lures me off the other direction.  The little ones are safe.


Mom feigns injury.  I feign being fooled.



Saturday, April 13, 2013



Got some stepping stones set down into the grass.


And a new fountain on the deck.



Friday, April 12, 2013

Greek Mythology


Gods, Goddesses.  Chariots in the sky.  Tridents under water.  Charming stuff.  Now.  But do we think the Greeks of that time referred to their stories as myths?  Those Greek myths were their religion.  That’s how they understood their place in the world around them.  Those stories were as real to the ancient Greeks as our bible stories are to us today.


We’re a religious lot, we human beings.  We always have religious explanations for things we otherwise don’t understand.  We must just be programmed that way.  I have to wonder though, how will the future treat today’s religious beliefs?  Not in a few years or a hundred years, but on a grander scale.  Maybe in a thousand years, or several thousand years.  Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists; will todays religions be as charming and irrelevant to the future as Greek Mythology is to us now?



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Happy News!


We’re going to be grandparents again!  Congratulations Matt and Lindsay.


Here is the first photo (ultrasound):


We’re led to believe the part left of center is her head.  We’re all pretty sure it’s a girl.  Delivery date November 23rd.  Looks like we’ll be in Colorado for a birthday and Thanksgiving this year.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The view.


…wasn’t all bad.  Look at what a great bird blind we had the next morning.  We got pigeons, starlings, and mourning doves…



Earl the Pearl (my kidney stone) pretty much kicked my ass Sunday evening and all day Monday.  Then he suddenly went silent.  We don’t know what he’s up to or even where he is, but we took advantage of the respite to travel yesterday and today.  Now we’re in Junction Texas, just one day away from home.  We’ve got an appointment with a urologist next week.  Maybe he can figure out what Earl is thinking.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some views are better than others.



We headed south on Interstate 25.  Ended up in Las Cruces.  Nice enough hotel; altogether much better than the view.


Monday, April 8, 2013



Regional gymnastics.  32 teams from 4 states.  98 kids.  6 different events: Vault, Floor, Parallel Bars, High Bar, Rings, and Pommel.


Alex’s team did well.  They placed 5th.


Alex did well.


He didn’t place in the Vault or High Bar:






He placed in the top 15 in the Floor Exercise:



top 10 for Parallel Bars



…and Rings:



…and Pommel



He did so well on the Pommel he placed first!


He placed 9th in the All-Around.  A very good day for Alex.  A very good day for us, to be there to cheer him on.


Saturday, April 6, 2013



Henry usually has this nice fluffy tail.



But the last few weeks, his tail got matted.  The groomer couldn’t comb it out, so she gave up and shaved it.  And so we have……


Henry the Rat!



Friday, April 5, 2013

Today went by really fast


…or really slow.  I remember parts of it.  Judy did the driving.  I did drugs.  I might have missed a few things along the way, but we’re in Albuquerque now.


I still have my stone.  Maybe I should name it.  I’m sure it’s not an ordinary stone.  Maybe it’s a pearl.



Thursday, April 4, 2013



It’s not a difficult drive, but we have to dodge kidney stones along the way.  We’ve made it as far as the town of Pecos in West Texas.  We’re well set-up for a drive north to Albuquerque tomorrow and a gymnastics competition on the weekend.  Nice weather, roads, and company.


A Holiday Inn Express room usually costs about $100 a night.  Here in the small town of Pecos, it goes for almost $200.  The reason is oilfields.  There are so many oilfield workers in Texas, all the RV Parks get swallowed up by monthlies and all the hotel rooms go for a premium.  Not enough places to put all the workers.  New RV Parks are springing up all across Texas that are just flat spots bulldozed out, graveled, full hookups installed, and immediately filled up with fifth-wheel trailers and pickup trucks.  It makes sense as a way to accommodate the influx of workers that are only here for a few years then move on.


Here is one in Pecos they put up some giant awnings like at a fairgrounds, then rigged the underneath with hookups for the “campers”.


Shade and a name like “Country Club”; it must feel downright luxurious!