Monday, March 31, 2014

Goose Island State Park






I’m reminded of an exchange we had with some people here years ago when we were first full-timing.  There is a canal-home neighborhood adjacent to the park.  We were paddling the kayaks through it at sunset.  There were some people out on an open-air deck, having a glass of wine, watching the sunset.  We exchanged waves.  A conversation ensued.  We admired how nice it must be to have a spot like that to sit and watch the sunset every night.  They admired how nice it must be to have a house that goes anywhere and kayaks you can paddle around in the evening watching the sunset.




Sunday, March 30, 2014

We were so busy


….messing around with kidney stones last year, we mostly missed the spring migration on the coast.  We want to be sure to see some of it this year, so today we headed north.,-91.472168&spn=13.709429,26.784668


We’re at Goose Island State Park for a couple days.


Bay front site.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

I changed my mind

Henry doesn’t look like a Saluki.  He looks like a marmoset!




Friday, March 28, 2014

By my calculation


Perhaps my reference to corn height was too obscure.


I wasn’t meaning any implication about pachyderm line-of-sight as expressed in the musical Oklahoma.  (I’m not likely to quote anything from any Musical.)  Instead I was referencing a familiar saying about corn being “Knee high by the 4th of July”.  Thinking about it though, different growers in different latitudes probably have different sayings.  The said saying applies well to Colorado and probably to a lot of Midwestern states, but may be less well-known farther north or south.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We were wearing the wooly look



…but we let Henry go too long without a trip to the groomer.  They couldn’t get down into that mess of fur to give him a trim.  They had to shave him and start over.


Annie on the other hand has silky hair.  They combed her out.  She got a wash and a trim.


Now Henry looks like a Saluki


…and Annie is our little wooly bear.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014



Front-end damage.


From a mysterious source.  Probably parking lot damage on a windy day.


It’s there on the right side of the hood.


We hadn’t even noticed it.  A friend pointed it out.


Try to guess the estimate for repair.  Go ahead.  Make your best guess…



Then scroll down…










Wrong!  The estimate was $931!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We have our barbecue bunker


It shields our cooking from the South Texas wind.


We’ve had the Charbroil infrared grill for quite a while now.


It will sear steaks, slow cook ribs,


…and grill chicken without flaring up.


We’ve tried brisket on it a few times though, and can’t get it to cook slow enough to come out tender, even on the lowest setting.


For real slow cooking, it takes a smoker; the new weapon in our culinary arsenal.


We got a Bradley digital smoker.  It has a feeding tube for the pucks of wood.  You can get a whole variety of different wood types for different flavors.  I find myself using hickory a lot, but cherry was good with the chicken.


The digital controller lets you set the time, temperature, and amount of smoke.


There is a burner to control the chamber temperature.  You can see it glowing in the background in this picture.  The wood pucks get fed out onto the smoke burner; it’s at the end of that line of wood pucks.


For as long as the smoke is set to run, every 20 minutes the burned out puck of wood is pushed into the water bath by the next one in line.


I use a sensor to monitor the meat temperature without having to open the door.


I thread the wire up through the smoke vent to the sending unit.  I put the sending unit on a block of wood to insulate it from heat of the smoker, just in case.


The receiving unit goes with me where-ever I go for the rest of the day and keeps me informed.


I was concerned that the smoker might produce enough smoke to be a neighborhood nuisance, but it turns out to be pretty light.


Plenty smoky inside though.  If you open it up while it’s in-process, it looks like this.


We’ve been doing chicken and ribs, working our way up to brisket; tonight’s challenge.


Low and slow; steady all the way.  A 10 hour cook.  The results?  Tender and juicy.  Yes!  Finally!  We did brisket!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

My wife's criminal ways


…culminated in a traffic stop today.  She was accelerating after a turn and got lit up.  56mph in a 45mph zone on Monte Vista Road.  11mph over the speed limit.  Driver’s license in her possession.  Insurance and registration at home on her desk.  We’re renewing our rental agreement for the year at Sandpipers and she had pulled the documents to provide proof of vehicle licensing and insurance.  Her last moving violation in 1967; Long Beach, California.


Her driving record remains unscathed since then.  What could have been a giant pain turned into a pleasant exchange with the policeman.  She might have even had her iPad along to show him pictures of her grandchildren.  She was issued a warning and let go.


I guess sometimes nice things just happen.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Saw an odd bird


…for the Valley.


A Wild Turkey


He was just wandering along the canal with me, on the opposite bank.


They’re not usually here.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014



…nice things happen.


It started out crummy; Judy took her iPad along on a shopping trip because she ends up showing pictures to the people she meets.  That part wasn’t bad, it was normal, she takes the iPad everywhere.  It has photos, books, email, contacts, google search,…..  This last trip, she accidentally left it somewhere.  When she got home, we searched the house.  We searched the car.  Sometimes we look right at things and miss them, so we searched everything again.  Judy called the stores she had been in.  She got back in the car and retraced her steps.  Nothing.


She called Verizon to disable the internet access, but there was nothing else she could do to make the iPad undesirable for someone else.  We have a “Where’s my Droid app for our phones, but we hadn’t activated that app for the iPad yet.  We had the conversation that most people are honest and that the lost device will probably turn up, even if it takes a few days.  We just need to give it some time and hope it didn’t end up in nefarious hands.


That night I got a telephone call.  The iPad had been left in the shopping cart at Lowe’s.  Judy put the cart in the cart return.  An older couple picked up a cart on their way in, shopped, returned to their car, and when they were unloading their cart they found that the red plastic flap where you put kids in the shopping cart was also an iPad in a red case.  (Judy keeps it in a red case so it will be easy to find.)  English is not the first language of this couple and they didn’t know what to do.  They didn’t trust to just take it back into the store; thinking they might get accused of stealing.  They drove home and showed it to their daughter, who then phoned her way through Judy’s Outlook contact list and I was the first one to pick-up.


They drove another 20 miles back to a meeting spot with us to make the exchange.  They went way out of their way to be good.


Sometimes nice things just happen.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014



The native yucca here in South Texas is called Spanish Dagger.



Cool name.  Nice yucca.


Seems like it’s always in bloom.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Tonight's dinner


Smoked chicken.




Judy will make chicken tacos out of the leftovers.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'm surprised


I thought anything that looked like a monarch butterfly in South Texas in the winter would be a Monarch mimic; something that looks like a Monarch, but isn’t really.  Like the Viceroy.


Here is my Monarch.


Here is a Viceroy (from the internet).


They look a lot alike.  The Viceroy looks almost exactly like a Monarch, but it has that line across the hindwings that the Monarch doesn’t.  (There are other differences too, but the line on the hindwings might be the most obvious.)  You can’t see all of the hindwings of my Monarch, but you can see enough to tell that they don’t have that black line.


Not only that, but the male and female monarch are patterned slightly differently.  See those two black spots on the hindwing of the Monarch, just to either side of the body?  It’s those two spots that make this a male Monarch.  The female has slightly bolder black lines, and it doesn’t have those two spots.


I thought all Monarch butterflies wintered in Mexico.  But now that I ask, I’m told that a few Monarchs over-winter here in South Texas.


I want to state for the record that asking a question about this butterfly doesn’t really change anything.  There are bird watchers and there are butterfly watchers.  Some people do both.  Not me though.  For all these years, looking at birds, I have resisted looking at butterflies, maintaining that I can’t afford another compulsion.  Figuring out which bird I’m looking at is challenge enough without getting distracted by a gazillion different kinds of butterflies fluttering all about.


I remain a birder, not a butterflier.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

This looks like


… a Monarch Butterfly.



But they’re not here yet are they?  Aren’t they still in South America preparing to fly north?


Friday, March 14, 2014

FW: Annie the Wonder Dog!!


What a surprise.  This email just arrived today; we’re forwarding it.  Our friend Elle painted a watercolor of Annie!  How cool is that?


It’s going to be finished and entered in a competition, but ultimately, we’ll get an exact replica of the original.


Thank you Elle.  What a nice thing to do!






This young lady is gorgeous.  Anybody we know and love?????