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Hooded Mergansers

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fear of Flying...

Nope...  no risque (for its time) book about sex....  just a blog without pictures today.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm terrified of flying?  I drive these Texas highways at 70 MPH...  with cars zooming around me like I'm parked....  I've done, okay, granted, it was tandem, parasailing, I've gone up in a  hot air balloon.  (We won't talk about the time I tried zip-lining, cause I kinda flunked that).....  but...  getting into an airplane and heading into the wild, blue yonder is really scary to me.

I can't begin to count the domestic flights I've taken...  actually, not sure I can count the transatlantic (or trans pacific) flights, but only once in all those flights have I been onboard during an "incident".

Flying back to (Ohio) the mainland from Hawaii in 1999 the plane had some kind of mechanical problem and we had an emergency landing in San Francisco.  For what seems like an eternity, all air return systems, all electricity of any kind, was turned off....  (a VERY quiet flight...  everybody on board was either asleep or  too terrified to talk)...  and when the pilot announced (as we were finally coming into San Francisco)... "Don't be alarmed to see a lot of red flashing lights and emergency vehicles as land".... (heck, by that time, I'm practically catatonic.... I didn't even know the guy sitting beside me, but I sure had a firm hold on his arm for LONG time)...)....  Anyway, we landed...  everyone applauded...  and immediately started phoning their contact on the other end saying that ...  well, dear, I won't be on the scheduled flight....  I'm not in Columbus, I'm in San Francisco...  yes, I'll be home eventually....  when the airlines get these 200+ people on their way.

Okay...  that was my only "flight from hell"...  the times turbulence, the times I was snuggied up in the very back seat of the plane which might comfortably seat a 3 year old, the commuter flights where the flight attendants wore jeans...  what the heck...  I wasn't really terrified...  those really weren't THAT bad....

Even the flight Bill & I took from Denver to Farmington, NM...  and the pilot kept talking about landing in Durango, Co... and apparently thought he had, as he welcomed us all to beautiful Colorado.  that's the one that Bill kept looking out the window at familiar (to him) landmarks and seeing the Aztec reservoir etc...  And we really were greeted by his folks in Farmington.  NEW MEXICO....  Go figure....

Anyway, on Thursday we'll be flying from DFW in Texas... to Boston...  then on to Madrid, Spain... then to Seville.....  it's gonna be LONG day!

A year or so ago we crossed the Atlantic by ship... took 9 days...  Bill looked into that for this trip...  nope... nothing that would work out...  So...

I have several books of puzzles, 109 e-books on my Kindle, one of those inflatable pillows so I don't break my neck, a whole bag of snacks (we've never flown Iberia airlines... not sure what they'll offer), and I know we'll manage....  I'll try not to panic....

I'll blog again and tell you how it all went...  be sure to stay turned for the next edition....

That's all for now...


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another Person Making a List....

It's count-down time now.  A week from tomorrow (January 31) Celeste will take me and Bill to the DFW airport where we'll start our next adventure.

We'll be living in Sevilla, Spain for 2 months...  going to classes during the week...  seeing the sights and doing some traveling on the weekends.  

I took our luggage over to Celeste's house - put it in one of her spare bedrooms so we can start packing for the trip.  There's just no space in our rig to leave a bag open for a week or so.

I read Bob's blog about moving...  furniture and all....  maybe that's easier than just packing for a month or so...  you're not likely to forget anything if you're emptying a house.

I make lists...  camera, spare battery; GPS, spare battery; Kindel, charger; laptop, power cord; (Bill checks each of these to make sure they can take 220 volts)...  so much of what we use these days is electronic, needs batteries or a power cord. Sunglasses, reading glasses, medications.  etc etc etc

After it's all accumulated THEN it all goes into various bags...  and weighed.  Oops.  take that pair of shoes from that bag and put them into this one...  okay... now weigh again.  

We'll have it all together by this time next week....  Bill's even planning to get a haircut!  

The weather here has been really crappy...  has been in the 20's at night, but yesterday got to 65 during the day.  So...  what does a person do when the weather cooperates?
 Go Geocaching, of course!
Here I am...  holding Spongebob Squarepants.
The logbook is in a capsule hidden inside.


He was hidden underneath a couple of rocks along this fence line.
Like a good cacher, I put him back exactly where I found him.

We only went after 2 caches yesterday....  found them both and still got home by lunch time.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a brewery we visited.  I received this comment:

Sharon:  I thought you might enjoy this small world story.  When you wrote your blog about the brewery you visited I forwarded the link to a friend of ours, Joe Whitney.  About six years ago we sold the majority of our acreage and a house to a young couple from Colorado who wanted a Montana get away--Joe and Tammy Whitney.  They have become delightful friends--at that time Joe worked for Fat Tire and now is the national marketing director for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  Here is what Joe said when he received the link about the brewery you and your husband visited:
"Grant is an old friend. Great guy. If you meet him tell him you know me and I said he would buy you a free beer. I saw him last spring and he told me about his plans. He's a good brewer with a good name. Should do okay. "

Have a good day!  Janna

Isn't it something what a small world it is that we really live in?

And sharing blogs sure makes it closer!

That's All for Today!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Freezy Skid Stuff

A couple of days ago I took these pictures looking out the window of our motorhome.
There is a large herd of deer that move back and forth across the property each day.  That green area in the upper photo is the grass that our son-in-law planted last fall.  Bill's been watering it while we've been here and it looks pretty good considering the soil conditions.  There are deer feeders around the property... you can see them in the upper left corner of the top picture.  
Nobody hunts this property so the deer roam freely.

The next morning we woke up to this...
SNOW!
We left Ohio 12 years ago with the intention of keeping out of the snow zones.  
What happened to THAT plan?
At least the snow didn't accumulate and the roads didn't stay icy very long....

We had a full house at our bird feeders...
Cardinals, house sparrows, house finch, juncos, chickadees, goldfinch, chipping sparrows, and mourning doves flitted in and out all day.
I filled the feeders twice just to keep up with their appetites.

And another subject....

The manager of a refuge in Maine e-mailed me yesterday.  I have taken thousands of photos in our years of volunteering there.  At each summer's end, I've given the refuge CD's of all my photos to use if they want to.

Every now and then a photo comes out kind of special.
I'm a morning person and head out early to see what's out and about.  On 8/19/2005 at 5:34a.m. I happened across this scene...
The refuge personnel liked it enough to use it as a header for their brochure.

The e-mail I got was to tell me that the Regional office,  in Massachusetts want to hang this picture in their main lobby.

WooooHooooo!

My photographer friend back in Kentucky tells me if you take enough photos, one is bound to come out good....


While I was looking through old CD's to find the original shot of that moose picture I came across this....

This red fox had caught a snowshoe hare and was heading home to her den...
It makes me think of that quote...
"God doesn't give us more than we can handle"
or maybe
"God helps those who help themselves"
????

Okay...  sort of went from snow, to snowshoe hares....

Must be time to close.

That's All For Today!




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Anniversaries

January 15 marks two anniversaries for me.


I started this blog one year ago today...  we were at Falcon Lake State Park in south Texas.  I had been reading various blogs for several months.  As it happened, Donna & Dennis Cave were parked right next to us at that park.  Donna's was one blog I'd been reading for a while and so we sought them out and introduced ourselves.



Donna was SO encouraging about writing a blog and so it began.  My very first "follower" was another Donna...  Donna K, up in Oregon.  I wonder if it hadn't been for these two giving me help and encouragement if I'd have had the patience to stick with it.  Thanks to the Donnas, Rick and all of you who have helped me along the way.

I've found the blog to be a very good way to keep track of where we are and what the heck we've been up to.  A whole new world of friends has opened up and with that, insight into others travels and their way of life.  So much so that I've cried tears of sorrow when these friends lose a loved one and tears of joy when they welcome a new life into their world.  I still have my frustrations with my blog, but now don't hesitate to ask you experts out there how to solve my problems.


Today is another anniversary...  today marks the 31st year that Bill & I have been together...
My last blog generated this comment..
"what's it like...  being so "in like" with someone"?
 Our version of  "The American Gothic"
Not exactly the Grant Wood painting depicting a farmer and his spinster daughter.  We were ready to enjoy life.
We were 40 years old when we met, both had a previous marriage, each of us had 2 kids.
Our kids were young adults by then.  Here we are, living on the farm with Bear, Bill's faithful dog.


 We've laughed a lot!
We've really enjoyed these past 31 years.  Sure, there have been tears... we've lost all 4 of our parents in these years.  Our kids have made it through college, got jobs that they like...  been through their own ups and downs in relationships..  but all is well.  
We've had sadness but...  we've had a lot of fun!

Our blended families became one....
 Our first grandchild
Heather...  born January 29, 1984

Then two granddaughters...  visiting us on their way to Germany, where they'll live for the next 4 years.  One of the hardest things I experienced was seeing my daughter leave the States...  feeling like 4 years was SO long to be apart.
But still....
I laugh when I look at this picture...  that large bucket on the left is brewing beer.  The gallon jugs on the left are making wine.  The bag behind Bill's elbow holds chicken food... we were raising baby chicks in the house.  AND...   I'm feeding Megan goat's milk... using a (sterilized) nipple we'd fed baby goats with.  Those were the days of a compost toilet....  a woodburning cookstove....  homebaked bread (yes... each week I baked our bread)....  we had our garden, chickens  and goats.

Those days are long gone...  and we no longer live on the farm.  Our 4 kids live in 4 different states.  Our 5 grandkids live in 3 other states.  We have 2 great-grandkids and a 3rd due in August. That little girl sitting on Bill's lap is now the mom of a 16 month old daughter.

Our life keeps changing...
A couple of weeks from now will mark our 12th year of full-time RVing.  Even that has evolved over those years...  and I expect it will continue to change as our interests and abilities change.

So...  what's it like to be "in like" with someone all these years?
It's wonderful!
I can only say that I'm one lucky lady....

Here's hoping we'll have a whole lot more years to like each other and be together.

That's All For Today!



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Saturday at the Brewery

Bill & I were shopping at the nearby H.E.B. grocery store last week and came across this flier:
Here it is...  front and back
It's about the size of a glass coaster....


Bill and I take tours of anything...   we've seen everything from nuclear power plants to JellyBelly jellybeans. But wine and beer tours are among our favorites.  So, we tore off one of the fliers and made plans to check this out.

Yesterday was the big day...  we planned to arrive when they opened at noon.  Figured it was the perfect place to have lunch on a cold, overcast Saturday.
This is the Revolver Brewery...  started their first brew last September and started selling draft beer in October.  

The entry fee was $7 a person, which included 4 (very generous) tastings of beer and the beer glass to take home.

Here's the line at the bar.  At this time the brewery sells only draft, and sells only to restaurants and other establishments.  They aren't licensed to sell on the premises.

If you wanted lunch to go along with your glass of beer...
 a vendor was selling pulled pork, BBQ, hotdogs and some other kinds of sandwiches.

They even had entertainment...
This woman sang country/western songs until the tour of the brewery began.

Seating was both inside and out...  we sat inside at one of the picnic table and met this delightful young couple...
Originally from Louisiana, Zack and Melanie now live in the Dallas area.  (I may have names wrong...  with the huge building, loud music and lots of conversation going on around us, hearing was difficult).  
Melanie has even been to OU in Athens, Ohio!  
We really enjoyed talking with the two of them.

The tasting starts out with the light beers and ends with the dark.  This is the darkest...  I didn't even bother to try it as I don't like stouts and ales...  give me a lager any day!
Bill has a plastic cover over his hat...  it was raining when we arrived and rain is bad for cowboy hats!

The tour started at 1:30...
Here's the brewmaster...  talking about the process of making beer.
Those sacks behind him contain various types of barley.  Or, more correctly... barley in various stages of roasting.  Those will determine how dark a beer will be.

He talked about malt, showed us hops (their hops are imported from France) and showed us the various vats...
Quite an impressive operation!

The brewmaster was born and raised in Texas...  went to Texas A&M...  left the area to work at breweries in several different states, and until recently, worked 16 years as a brewmaster at Samuel Adams in Boston.
When he saw an ad wanting a brewmaster for a brand new brewery back in Texas, he was ready to come "home".

His enthusiasm for his work and for this new brewery was so evident in his talk...  it's always great to hear someone who likes what they do.

Here we are...  with our "souvenir" beer glasses...  
And, by the way, the beer was very good.

What a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

That's All For Today!



Thursday, January 10, 2013

See You Later Alligator....

A few months ago Bill & I sort of changed our eating habits.  While we haven't eaten "red" meat for over a decade (I should clarify this... we haven't BOUGHT red meat, but if we're at someone's place that served it, we quietly ate it), we have gradually reduced our meat-eating habits even further...  to the point of being about 80% vegan ....  maybe 90% vegetarian...  we still eat the occasional egg, milk or even sometimes meat product.

But...  (and remember, my surname IS Wallace) ... my Scots heritage just will not allow me to throw out perfectly good food that happens to be in our freezer from those days gone by.

We don't have a very big freezer compartment and today I rummaged around in it just wondering what the heck it really did have lurking there.

Well, I found some creton...  heck... that's that pork spread that's French-Canadian that we bought back in Maine.  Hmmmm... when will we use that?

Found a package of bison liver...  someone gave me that to use as bear bait.  Why is IT still there?  I haven't seen a bear in months!

I did find a package of lamb to use as kabobs....  and a package of bison burger.

But....  there... lurking at the bottom of that freezer were 2 packages that were frost encrusted.  One was a package of crawfish tails, the other a package of alligator meat.

Okay...  This is it...  time to use it or throw it out!  Throw it out!!!!  No way could I face my Dad who's up in Heaven (I hope) and tell him I'd thrown out perfectly good food.

I bought some leeks at H.E.B.....  and (oh no, I'll have to admit this) I still had about a half dozen of potatoes that were born and raised in Maine...  and they really needed used.... soon...

So I sauteed the leeks, added the potatoes, added some pepper, some thyme and threw in some file for good measure....
(I don't know how to add accent marks, but trust me, I didn't put in a file...  think of that as... fee-lee.  You know, sassafras stuff)

Let this all blend together for a couple of hours....

Then added the packages of crawfish and alligator....

I'll admit...  at first I thought the "aroma" coming off that pot of stew was a bit more than I could handle (let alone eat)...  but...
believe it or not, an hour or so later, it wasn't only tolerable, it was actually quite good.

I'd bought a small carton of non-fat (hey... something here has to redeem my good intentions) "half and half", slowly added that,  and by 5pm, supper time, we had a very good meal...
Here's the final results....

I still have a few items in that freezer that need used...  soon.  I'll see what else I can come up with to enhance our evening dining experience.

So...  See you later alligator... and crawfish...  and Maine potatoes... 

That's All For Today!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trees... Texas and Family

Thanks y'all for helping me identify these Texas trees.  I probably wouldn't have much trouble knowing what tree I was looking at in Ohio, but it takes me a while to ID everything anywhere else.

The good thing about trees is...  they stay put.  Nope, you won't find one of these guys flying away... or slipping around out of your vision.  They don't have migration patterns... While there are some male and female trees, I can usually at least come up with a name.

I don't know how many folks use it, but the County Extension Agent is usually a very good resource to help in identifying plants of any kind.  They are usually affiliated with some college or university and do everything from help with agriculture, to how to can foods in your home kitchen to working with kids on 4H projects.  My own kids belonged to 4H clubs when they were young.  When I wanted to sell processed foods at our local Farmer's Market in Ohio, I took a week-long class at Ohio State University in order to get certified and licensed.

So it just comes natural to me to seek out whatever resource is available wherever we are for answers to questions like "What shrubs can we plant that deer won't eat?, or...  in this case...

What the heck is this tree?

I took my samples in to the Hood Co. Extension office this morning and met the local agent.  He didn't know the answer, but he got out his books and found my trees.
Those of you who told me this could be a WESTERN SOAPBERRY were exactly right!  

It is a native Texas tree that blooms in spring and early summer, having creamy white blossoms.
The fruit...
 which are translucent yellow are poisonous.

This tree is also known by the names Wild Chinatree, Wild Chinaberry, Soapberry, Indian Soap Plant and Jaboncillo.

So far, the only one I've noticed is on the county road about 3/4 mile from Celeste's house.  

Another tree I've noticed...  especially now that the leaves are gone from most of the other trees is this....
(That's a big raindrop in the center of the picture)
The leaves are all gone now, but with the green cedars that are nearby, it really stands out...
When I first noticed it I thought it was a Mountain Ash, but almost immediately ruled that out...
So this went along with me to the County Extension agent this morning.

The agent's secretary knew this tree and that made looking up the specs much easier.  It's actually in the HOLLY family, although it does lose it's leaves each winter.  

Although its scientific name is Ilex decidua, it is known at Possum Haw, Bearberry, Deciduous Holly and Winterberry to list a few of the common names.

I'm told that folks often use it in wreaths and other decorations during the winter.  I can certainly see why as it's such a bright, splash of color in an otherwise sepia-like landscape.

I have always been interested in learning what all is around us, and am happy that there are folks who are willing to share their knowledge.

And about that family tree....
I got this photo as a text message on our phone.  
This is Evie, our great-granddaughter...
wearing her Texas Longhorn jammies and riding her Christmas pony.  She may live in New York, but she looks like she could be a native Texan wildflower to me!

That's All For Today!



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Old Habits....

Saturday evening...  and, as usual, Bill & I have the radio on listening to Prairie Home Companion.  This should come as no surprise...  we've been listening to PHC for many, many years.  We don't go out much...  when we were both working our big night out was Friday nights.  We'd get home from work, do what chores had to be done, then head to the Casa Que Pasa, the co-op restaurant in town.  It was a psuedo-Mexican restaurant...  the menu has always consisted of locally, and when possible, organically grown ingredients.  Now...  31 years later, it's still a co-op but the name is now Casa Nueva and it's doubled in size.  It still offers local grown ingredients, (and now they even have a liquor license) but the last time we ate there, I just don't think it is as good as it was back then.

Which brings me back to Saturday nights...  besides our full-time jobs, Bill & I operated a small "certified organic" garden farm as well as a dairy goat operation.  So we were pretty busy making goat cheese, raising chickens and rabbits.  We had a cannery license and made jams, jellies and other fancy products from "nature grown" things like redbud jelly etc.

Every Saturday morning we sold our produce at the local Farmer's Market.  Somewhere I have a picture of Bill standing at our booth at the market in Januray...  just he and one other vendor...  it's snowing and they both look like they're freezing.

Which brings me right back to our habit of listening to PHC every Saturday evening.  We didn't have a TV...  still don't, we were tired after a week of our full-time jobs and our farm chores....  so...  what else does a person do on Saturday night?  

One nice thing about the local radio station in my hometown (WOUB - Athens, Ohio) is that if you miss the program on Saturday evening, you can listen to it "on demand" anytime at all in the following week.  Right now we don't have to hear it via our computer...  the PBS station out of Ft Worth carries it...  but we've listened to WOUB programs while living in Mexico or other far-flung places.  It's only a click away.

It finally warmed up here outside of Ft Worth, TX today...  got into the 50's!
We headed out for a walk...  our daughter lives outside of town a few miles and the county and township roads are pretty nice to walk along...

We can leave home and walk to the end of this road and back - that's close to 3 miles.

I like this walk...  there's not much traffic and except for a few barking dogs along the way it's pretty quiet...
But we don't walk unnoticed...
This guy watched us until he got bored...

We had a tiny bit of rain last week, so this creek has a little water in it now.  I think it's the tannin from all the oaks that make the water so dark.  

We came across this tree...
It doesn't have leaves now.  Those yellow marble-sized "fruit" are all over the ground.  I have no idea what species this tree is so if anyone out there knows, please help me out.
The tree is fairly tall...  30 or 40' at least.  The "fruit" doesn't have much pulp...  looks like a chickpea under that yellow skin.

Well, I wrote about our old habit of listening to Prairie Home Companion.  We have one habit that we're about to get rid of...
We've carried this tripod and dish around with us since 2005.
It's kept us in touch with family and friends.
In truth, it's been kind of a love/hate relationship.
It can be a real pain to set up and use.
But...
It's what we had and it worked for us... From Canada to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, and all places between.

Technology has changed...  
Bill has revamped our communications system.  Now we have cell service....  (a box about the size of a pack of cigarettes inside the rig..  an antenna on top of the rig).
No more getting GPS coordinates, getting the azimuth and the right configurations!  No more hauling around that tripod and dish! YES!  

Old habits CAN be changed!

That's All For today!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Oh Rats!

I didn't take the pictures I'm posting today.
We were volunteering at Sevilleta NWR a couple of years ago and one of the things I did was go along with another volunteer and change out the memory cards and batteries in 21 game cameras.
Sevilleta is a huge refuge...  around 250,000 acres.  It is situated in a part of New Mexico that has four different biomes or habitats.  The game cameras were located at locations that had formerly been stock tanks for the huge McDonald Ranch.  Some of the wells were located high up on mesas...   others were on the floor of the desert.  The windmills are gone now...  and the pumps are all operated by solar power.  The cattle, too are gone.  Now animals such as pronghorn, mule deer, elk and javelina frequent these watering spots.

This series of shots are my very favorite of all the thousands of pictures that were captured by the cameras during the time I volunteered there...

This herd of mule deer were slaking their thirst at the drinker...
When the camera senses movement it will take 3 shots, 1 second apart.

The 2nd picture....
Faster than a speeding bullet!
Don't know where it came from, but obviously
this mountain lion has spotted the deer and has taken chase.
The dust is both from the deer and the mountain lion in hot pursuit!

The next scene that was captured is...
(my guess as to what he's thinking...)
Oh rats!...  guess those guys are pretty fast.
I didn't nab a one of them....

And the last scene....
Oh but, I didn't want to catch one anyway.  I really just wanted a drink of water and those guys were hogging the whole drinker.  Guess I showed them who's boss.

(After all, a mountain lion IS a feline and we all know that cats would never admit defeat)

I worked on this project for about 3 months.  When we'd get back from collecting the memory cards I'd spend the next week or so collating the data from the photos....  species, numbers, time of day, etc.

I loved every aspect of this project and hope the information we gathered was useful.  Even so...  it was certainly entertaining!

That's All For Today!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Me and In-N-Outs

When Bill and I were trying to decide what motorhome would be best for us, we had a brochure for the Lazy Daze company which is located outside of Los Angelos, CA.  We  truly loved everything about this particular motorhome and so sometime in the summer of 2000 we went to California to check it out.  
We flew into the Ontario, CA airport and stayed at a nearby motel.  Within walking distance of the motel were some restaurants, and we happened upon the "In-N-Out".
Even at that time we seldom ate beef, but we decided to try this hamburger joint...
At that place, you ordered at an outside window and if you didn't get it to take with you, you ate at an outside picnic table.
We each got a "double/double" along with some fries.
So began my love affair with In-N-Out.
At that time they were only located in places in California.
That's probably a good thing for us, because I think I could become addicted to the darned things.

We flew back to California in January, 2001 and picked up the motorhome that we'd ordered about 6 months prior.  Yep... we stayed at the same motel...  and, yes indeed, we again indulged in the
"Double/Double In-N-Out" platter.

Since that time the In-N-Out burger places have expanded.
We found one in Mesa, Arizona a few years ago...
And one in Yuma, AZ a few years later.

The last 2 or 3 winters we have stayed for a few weeks with our daughter who lives outside of Ft Worth, Texas.

Recently we went into Ft Worth to do some shopping, and what should we see?
You guessed it!
A brand-new In-N-Out had just opened!
There is now an "In-N-Out" located right in the parking lot at the huge Hulen St Mall!

I had my final post-op appointment today for that surgery I had in November.  Seemed like a perfect time to satisfy that urge for grease, carbs, and calories galore!
So after my appointment, we swung right by that place...
 Yeah...  this is it!
We each had a double/double and split the fries.... 
 Bill said something about a "heart attack on a platter"...
Maybe so... but we so seldom eat beef (actually we eat totally vegan about 80% of the time, vegetarian about 90% of the time and only eat meat, eggs, cheese etc when eating out or as guests)
Here's the "Den of Iniquity"

Who knows when I'll succumb again to my weaknesses????

Hmmmm...  have I ever told you about the green chile cheeseburgers at Manny's Buckhorn...  located near Soccoro, New Mexico...
Oh My Gawd!  To Die For!
Thank Goodness we don't usually live close enough to these temptations nor eat out often...

That's All For Today!