Sunday, March 31, 2019

Challenge answer


Pinto beans.  Ham hock.  Vegetable stock.  Chopped onions.  Bacon chunks.  Cumin and pepper.  Salt.  Chopped jalapeno.  Minced garlic.  Diced tomato.


Charro beans!


Served with pulled pork from the smoker.


And Cholula.


Enough for leftovers.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tonight’s challenge



What dinner dish do these ingredients add up to?


Friday, March 29, 2019





Harris’s Hawk



Thursday, March 28, 2019



Judy had a good follow-up check-up.  She got the big bandages off.  Her shoulder is healing up nicely.


Lots of entry points for the shoulder arthroscopy, plus a vertical incision in the top of her shoulder to get the lipoma (stitches pictures on request).  No inflammation.  No swelling.  The stitches stay in another week.


She has been cleared to take her arm out of the sling several times a day, but no active movement.  She can do the arm dangle; lean over and let the arm hang.  She can move her torso enough to cause the arm to swing a little.  Passive movement only.  That’s it for the next five weeks.  No other rehab until then.  After that, we’ll work to restore her range of motion, but still, it will be passive movement only until further notice.


All that aside, she is doing great and feeling great.  She seems to be caught up on her rest and is out and about accompanying me on errands and doing more around the house.  It’s her left arm in the sling.  She can do a lot with her right arm.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019



It’s a legendary creature found in the Americas.


It’s reputed to suck the blood out of goats at night.


I think I photographed one.



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Red-winged blackbirds


Sometimes we get more of them at the feeder than we need.


But they can sure provide an explosion of color when they get all puffed up!







Monday, March 25, 2019

Judy and Henry


Watching a wildlife video on the iPad.



Saturday, March 23, 2019



Day three post-surgery.


Shoulder surgery is tough.  It’s a painful recovery.  Having made it through the first two days though, Judy is noticeably better today.  Better enough to get out of the recliner and be restless a little.  Better enough to go out for a walk around the neighborhood.


We’re led to believe that sleep, ice, and painkillers are the best medicines at this point.  Whatever sleep Judy is not getting at night, she’s making up for as she naps herself through the day.  We’ve got various gel-packs of ice to alternate on her shoulder.  Sleep, ice, and painkillers.  Narcotics are out because Judy doesn’t do well with them, so her painkiller of choice is Advil.  Five more days to the follow-up with the doctor next Thursday.  The bandages should come off and the stitches should come out.  He’ll tell us then when we can start physical therapy.



Friday, March 22, 2019

Universal Single-payer Healthcare!


I’m for it!


Who wouldn’t like that; healthcare for all?  What?  The employees who like their employer provided healthcare and don’t want to give it up?  Oh.  Who else?  The taxpayers who will be asked to pay more to support healthcare for all?  Anyone else?  Oh, all the people who work in the health insurance industry that don’t want to get put out of work?  And the doctors who don’t like the Medicare level of payment for services versus the private pay?  And the hospitals whose entire cost structure is built on getting more from private pay than from Medicare?  Okay, so there are a few issues.


There are so many reasons for not going to single payer, or healthcare for all, but isn’t it unconscionable to maintain that some people in our country can get medical insurance and others can’t; to continue to deny an entire segment of our population affordable access to healthcare?  We have to take the opposite approach.  We throw out all the objections; all the reasons why we can’t do universal healthcare and start with the commitment that we *can*.  We are not the only country that has faced this issue; we’re just the only developed nation that hasn’t found its own solution.



Thursday, March 21, 2019

Eastern Screech-owl


In plain sight.






I was just walking along in the woods.






No idea there was a screech-owl box there.






With a motionless owl.

Just having a snooze in the middle of the day.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Before and after



The two pictures kind of look the same.


Except in one she has a sling and is a little loopier, and in less pain, than in the other.


We’re having a comfortable evening and today’s anesthesia is gradually wearing off.  The story might be a little different tomorrow as the implanted painkillers wear off too.  The surgeon did a lot.  The cuff was torn in two pieces.  He sewed them back together, then gave them two new attachment points on the bone.  He fixed an inflamed bursa and tendon.  He cleaned up some arthritis.  He removed a bone spur.  He excised a lipoma.  Originally, he thought the lump on top of her shoulder might be a lipoma, but it didn’t show up as a lipoma on the MRI, so he had to conclude it must be something else; but when he got inside it just looked like a lipoma so he took it out.  He thought a biceps tendon might need repairing or cutting, but it didn’t because it was already gone.  It must have been clipped off in a previous surgery.  It’s one of those situations where you have two different tendons doing the same thing and you only really need one.  Just like John Elway.  We thought it was a catastrophe when, in the middle of his career, he blew a tendon in his throwing arm, but it was the same tendon as this.  They never repaired it and it had no effect on his throwing motion, so from that lesson we can expect that Judy’s throwing motion won’t change at all.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I’ve been thinking


It started with forests.  Forests, specifically healthy old-growth forests, appear static.  Trees grow.  Trees fall.  New ones take their place.  The undergrowth ebbs and flows with the seasons.  Fire might damage some sections, but over time, the damage heals and the forest regenerates.  Forests are living breathing things, but on the human scale of time, it seems to us they don't change.  The overall composition stays the same.


But on a broader scale, forests do change.  Over centuries or millennia, the make-up of the forest might change; the mix of species can evolve.  The entire forest might migrate upslope or down, north or south on a grand scale with changes in climate.  It's just a matter of perspective.  Everything that seems like it never changes actually does, if we consider a wider time-scale than we're used to.  Mountains rise and fall in a hundred million years.  Rivers flow and canyons grow.  Forests, plants, and animals march their way across the planet.  Look at our understanding of the evolution of humans.  They didn't start equally all over the planet.  So far as we know now, our most ancient ancestors appeared in Africa.  They migrated north.  They retreated.  They migrated again.  From these waves of migrations, new species evolved independently in southern Europe and Asia that had never been to Africa.  The migrations continued and modern humans eventually made it across oceans to major islands, and all the way to North America, then south through the Americas until they could go no further.  This happened in fits and starts, in ebbs and flows, over a hundred thousand years.  To any individual observer, at any time in essentially all of human history, it might appear that the status quo, the climate, the mix of plants and animals in the environment, the range of human habitation, never changed; but over a broader scale the change never let up.


Everything we know migrates and colonizes.  Plants and animals.  Civilizations.  People and tribes migrated, invaded, withdrew, and returned.  Languages spread and evolved.  Religions spread and evolved.  If we had been present in our current incarnation, observing all these changes over all our history, could we have stopped any of it at any point?  Could we have looked at the world as it was at a moment of time and said "This is just right.  This is the way it should be and should always be."?


So here we are today.   We've drawn a line and called it our border.  We stand with arms outstretched, determined to arrest the assault of shifting tectonic plates; the advancement of mountain ranges, rivers, and canyons; the slow-motion migrations of forests, plants, and animals; the movement of any other human, religion, or language.  We are determined.  They shall not pass.


Just saying…


Monday, March 18, 2019

No reason


Just because I like this picture.


It’s a willow over a pond, viewed from a deck.  Close to our house.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

The guardrail does its job


It looked like things had gone terribly wrong for the little car; it crashed.


There is was, up against the guardrail at a totally wrong attitude, at the edge of the bridge, waiting to get towed away.  (We don’t know who it was that crashed; this is just a situation I came upon while out for a walk.) 


Later, from a different angle, it became clear that as bad as the situation seemed at first look, the crashed car would have had it much worse if the guardrail had not given its all to protect it from a much worse fate.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Laughing gulls


With a lot to say.



Or laugh about.



I didn’t take a video, so you’ll just have to use your imagination for the raucous calls.  Or look at this video (that’s not mine):


Thursday, March 14, 2019

It has been a long time coming


But I’m starting to like fish.


Judy has been cooking tilapia.  The other night she made this baked cod, sautéed shrimp, Judy’s rice (with tomato and green onion), and homemade tartar sauce.



Bo and Colleen fed us grilled salmon and we liked it so much we got the recipe.  It has been a long time coming, but now I look forward to our fish food.





Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A search and destroy mission


That’s how the surgeon described it.


Judy’s left shoulder really hurts so the doctor had her do an MRI so he could see what’s going on.  He knows he needs to go in and repair rotator cuff tendons.  He may have a bursectomy to do.  He might do a debridement to clean up some arthritis.  There is a lump on top of her shoulder we thought was a lipoma, but it didn’t register that way on the MRI.  His theory is that there may be some detachment at the top of the deltoid muscle that has bunched up a little bit there.  It might also just be extra subcutaneous adipose tissue.  He won’t know until he sees it from the inside.


We’re scheduled for surgery next Wednesday morning.  A search and destroy mission.  Once he gets in, he’ll do whatever needs to be done, and it will all be done arthroscopically.  Six weeks in a sling; she’ll be out of it in time for us to leave on schedule for Alaska.



Monday, March 11, 2019

In preparation for our Alaska trip


We’ve been watching Alaska State Troopers on television.  So far, we’ve learned to drink a lot, sell a few drugs, be so uncooperative that we get tased or pepper sprayed, burgle a few unoccupied houses, and run from the police at every opportunity.  We might throw a gas can in the campfire once.


We’ll be prepared.  We should fit right in.



Saturday, March 9, 2019

Oh no!


Now it’s too hot!  The thermometer hit ninety-four today!  We had to go inside to the air conditioning.  Oh woe is us.  How much longer can this go on!?



Friday, March 8, 2019

The warm weather is back


Yeaa.  It’s just right.  High temperature in the low eighties.  Morning coffee outside on the deck.  It doesn’t get any better than this.



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Ever heard of a Golden-Crowned Warbler?


They don’t happen often in the United States.  They’re a Central and South American bird.


They do pop up in the U.S. once in a while though, and one popped up here.  We went to see it and found it last week with the help of the guy at Valley Nature Center who knew how to locate it.  It’s that little yellow dot just off-center in the photo.


Zooming in.



That crown doesn’t look so golden to me, but I’ll take it anyway.


Golden-crowned Warbler.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Judy and the MRI


Four times.  Four MRIs.  One success.


Last month, the ortho ordered an MRI on her sore shoulder.  Judy doesn’t do MRIs.  She’s a claustrophobe.  Over the years, we’ve tried the MRI stone cold sober.  That didn’t work.  We tried the open MRI once, with a Valium, before the second shoulder surgery.  An open MRI is not open enough.  One Valium is not enough.  For the third shoulder surgery, she tried the MRI with two Valium.  Score: Valium 0, adrenaline 1.  It’s getting worse.  Every previous time she’s gotten shoulder surgery they’ve had to do it without an MRI first to let them know what to expect when they get inside.


This time she tried the MRI with general anesthetic.  It was an all-day process, and she slept through the afternoon, evening, and night afterwards, but ding ding ding, we got it done.  We’re claiming Judy conquered the MRI!


Next week she gets to find out what the doctor thinks about her shoulder.



Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The elegant


Egyptian Goose.

Okay, maybe not exactly elegant.


And family.








Monday, March 4, 2019

It’s not supposed to be like this!


Yesterday we were sitting on the deck having morning coffee.  Today, the temperature didn't get out of the thirties!  Ouch!  Oh, woe is us.  We're not exempt from the polar cold.


Except that it won't be like this for long.  We'll hunker down for three days of arctic blast, then we'll be back in the eighties, enjoying extended warm weather.



Saturday, March 2, 2019

In better light


A red-shouldered hawk.




The harris’s hawk pictures from a couple nights ago; that’s a southern bird.


The red-shouldered hawk, mostly an eastern bird, is more widespread in the U.S.

Have to wonder a little how that disjointed red-shouldered hawk west coast population got there.


And we’re home.  A little cold in the 60s and rainy all week in the Hill Country.  Perfect weather here as we returned today.  85 degrees.  The polar hit happens Monday.  We’ll be cold in the 40s for three days, then back in the 80s.


Friday, March 1, 2019

4,219, 500, 56, 138 update


Now it’s March, and we’re at 4,106, 292, 47, 138.  Miles, birds, hours, counties.


Miles remaining to get to Fairbanks (We’re a little closer right now, but really we’re farther away because we have to go back home again before we start.).  Number of bird species remaining to get to 500 for the year (By the middle of January we only needed to get one new bird a day for the remainder of the year.  We have that, and a cushion of 12 species at the end of February.), number of hours of continuing education remaining to get to the 80 hour requirement (it didn’t change much in February, but I got all the ethics hours done!  I only need about 4 ½ hours per month to get to zero.), and number of counties in Texas we haven’t recorded at least one bird in (That won’t change until we head north and cover new ground). 


The dash air is fixed, the speedometer has been recalibrated, and the right outside mirror replaced.  Tonight, we’ve left Pipe Creek and are camped at Quiet Texas RV Park again.


2019 trip home from Pipe Creek


250 miles to home.  We expect to be there tomorrow night.