Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I see Soft shelled turtles in the water


…from a distance.  They’re quick to dive if disturbed.


I’ve never seen one away from the water; before today.


No easy escape, so this one just held perfectly still as I walked by.


I suspect I interrupted an egg-laying mission in the soft dirt.



I left her to go about her business as I went about mine.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Spanish Dagger


Blooming, back in March.



Fruiting, in June.



They *are* edible, but I haven’t tried them.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Just because it's such a cool name


Black Witch Moth.


This one even happens to be a female.


They have a 7 inch wingspan.  I found this one at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  According to Wikipedia, the black widow moth is seen as an omen of death and misfortune in superstitions across the Caribbean, Central and South America. In Mexico, it's believed that one of the moths flying into the house of someone who is sick means that their death is close.


For me, it’s just something to see along the way.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When you're looking up


…admiring wood storks soaring above,



The ones without feet trailing out behind…


Are white pelicans.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A bird in the hand


A friend found a baby bird.  It wasn’t moving, but it wasn’t dead.  She didn’t know what to do with it, so she picked it up  and dropped it in a box,

…and brought it to us.


It’s a common pauraque.  Remember them?  Their natural defense is to hold perfectly still and be invisible.


It didn’t work for this guy because he was on a sidewalk.


He can probably get by on his own just fine.  We have the right habitat all around us, so we released him on the other side of our fence next to the mesquite forest.


When he grows up we’ll hear him calling at night in the summer.


Monday, June 23, 2014

At Becky and Brian's house


There is a new critter.



Hobbs.  An 8 week old King Charles Spaniel.


Sunday, June 22, 2014



…are a figment of my imagination.


We are definitely into chigger season.  We’ve got summer weather; it has been in the high nineties every day.  Every overnight low is 78 degrees, except when it’s 80.  It is definitely chigger weather.  I have been walking through tall grass; bite free.  It was on Friday that I made my fateful observation, that in spite of all these circumstances, not a single chigger bite.  I didn’t walk in chigger habitat at all on Friday; we drove all day.  Saturday morning I noticed the first bumps.  By afternoon, I had serious itchy chigger bites from my ankles to my knees.


Where did they come from?  Not from tall grass; I wasn’t in any.  I never had a bite until I said something.  Chiggers didn’t exist until I thought about them.  Chiggers are a figment of my imagination.  I proved it.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

This is not a winter scene



It’s June.


Everything at the salt lakes is salt encrusted; even deer tracks.


Along the edges of the lakes are the ruins of salt harvesting endeavors; pipes, hoses, and holding ponds.


I don’t know how the process worked, whether they just cut out blocks of lakebed salt from below, or pumped water into evaporation ponds to concentrate the salt.  Maybe both.


Friday, June 20, 2014



Another knee-cation day in Corpus Christi.  It’s a three hundred fifty mile driving day with a shot in the middle.


The first two knee shots didn’t go all that well.  As late as Wednesday of this week we were thinking there was going to be no alternative to a knee replacement and we may as well get the surgery on the schedule as soon as we can.  Thursday night, Judy’s knee started to feel a little better for the first time.  We got the third gel shot in it today and it still feels okay tonight.  It’s not good enough to go for a walk, but it is better than it has been in weeks if not months.  Maybe the third shot was the charm.


Now the protocol is to give it six weeks and see if it improves.



Deserter/prisoner of war, follow-up


I don’t mean to suggest any similarity in our stories.  I don’t know Bowe Bergdahl’s story at all.  It’s just that his headline prompted a recollection of my own experience.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Deserter/prisoner of war


Afghanistan.  The wandering soldier returns.  When I heard of this, a soldier wandering off outside his post and getting captured and held for five years, my first thought was “That could have been me.”  Immediately comes to mind an incident in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.  I was nineteen.  Our platoon was on the perimeter, two men to a foxhole, one man awake at all times.  That became our life for a week.  The week went by, mostly without incident.  Somewhere along the way, in the middle of the day, I decided I needed something from over there; somewhere outside our perimeter.  I don’t remember what attracted me; maybe I was looking at carnivorous plants or harvesting bananas.  Maybe I just wondered where a trail led.  Anyway, some time later, I realized that I had walked quite a ways and was sitting on a ridge enchanted by a magnificent jungle view, well away from where I was supposed to be.  I had wandered off without any supplies or weapons, and without anyone even knowing I was gone.  This was not good.  How did I get that far afield without even thinking about it?  A momentary lapse; that turned into a very long moment.  I headed right back to camp.


On the way, I realized that my next problem was that I needed to cross back through our perimeter without alarming anyone and getting myself shot.  My sense of direction got me back to where I needed to be, generally, but not exactly to the spot I left from.  I couldn’t tell quite where the perimeter was… until I set off the trip flare.  Happily, I didn’t set off something destructive like a claymore mine; it was just a trip flare that makes a very loud POP and lights up everything around it (if it happens to be dark out).  Given that this was the middle of the day, the loud POP just alerted everyone with rifles pointed my direction.  “No Problem!”  “It’s just me!  “It’s Taylor!”


No shots were fired.  I got back in safely.  That could have been me in the news.  “He just walked away from his post.”  “He never said anything to anybody.”  Luckily I didn’t make the news or end up an inadvertent statistic.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nothing to say today


Guess I’ll just send out a photo of a Great Kiskadee.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is there a lesson here?


We went into Iraq to fix things.  We got rid of a dictator.  We installed democracy.  First we did the fighting; then we trained their troops to do the fighting.  We equipped them.  We helped them set up a government.  We did the best we could.  And after all the blood sweat and tears; years, equipment, money, and lives, we leave and what happens?  Chaos.  It’s coming apart.


Now back at home we attack each other over what we did wrong; who is to blame.  Did we stay there too long?  Did we not stay long enough?  What else could we have done?  What should we do now?  Do we re-insert ourselves?  If we don’t do anything are we disrespecting every life already lost in our efforts?  Are we in so deep we can’t afford to quit?


Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned.  Could it just be that the United States doesn’t get to decide everything?  Maybe some things are just going to happen, no matter how much we want them to be different.  Maybe we can’t make other people be like us, no matter how hard we try.


Monday, June 16, 2014

We got this charming link


From our daughter about putting time into perspective.


I love stuff like this.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's Father's Day


I get to do whatever I want.


Even if what I want to do is not the smartest thing to do.


This morning I walked a trail I hadn’t been on before.  It’s in a wildlife refuge I’ve been to before, just not from this access point.  It wasn’t actually much of a trail; it was a lot like a bushwhack.  Years ago, before there was a wildlife refuge here, this was a dirt road but now the grass and brush have reclaimed it.  In the knee high grass there are stickers.  I could have turned around to walk somewhere else without stickers, but I wanted to walk that trail.  There are a lot less stickers there now than there were when I started though, considering how many I brought home in my shoes and socks.




Judy had an immediate solution for the socks.


The shoes took a little longer to take care of, but together, each with tweezers, we got all the burrs out in about 20 minutes.


Sure glad it’s Father’s Day.


And today is Henry’s birthday as well.  He’s 4 years old already.  Happy Birthday Henry!





Saturday, June 14, 2014



…by a Bewick’s Wren.







While a White-tailed Hawk soars overhead.



The day didn’t suck.


Friday, June 13, 2014



Off to see the knee wizard.  So far, not so good.  Judy’s knee is not better, it’s worse.  We talked to the doctor and he thinks we should try at least one more of the three injections, so we did.  (I use the term “we” liberally.  Judy gets the shot; I hold her hand.)  We’ll see how it goes.


Having shot the knee, we moved on to other things.  We drove to Turners so Judy could get a new pot for the porch, and a new plant to go in it.  We drove to the People’s Street T Head in the Corpus Christi marina, and spotted the Brown Booby that’s been hanging out there with some pelicans.

Year Bird.


We drove to Blucher Park just outside downtown Corpus and got the Yellow-green Vireo that has been there singing his head off.


Got him.  In fact there were two and we got both of them.  Year Bird.


Drove to the pond on the Joe Fulton Trade Corridor and saw Wood Storks.

Year Bird.


Wood Storks are fun to watch.  Every landing is an adventure.






Having had a successful trip to Corpus Christi, we headed home.


Happy Birthday to our daughter, our Friday the 13th baby.  Friday the 13th, our lucky day.  This one even has a full moon!