Along the Natchez Trace

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Costa Rica info?

Yesterday I posted that we were thinking of what we'd do for the rest of the winter.  Now that the health issues are settled, we might go back to Plan A of last fall.  That was to spend the winter, or at least part of the winter in Costa Rica....
As you can see, this is something we've been thinking about for about a year now...  but "real" life seems to keep getting in the way to delay this trip.

We'd like to stay a month or so... NOT stay in a large city, but to rent a place in a small town or village that has a kitchen and bath.  A pool isn't necessary, but internet is....  walking distance to a market would be desirable.

No, we wouldn't be driving down, but flying out of DFW to San Jose.....  taking public transportation or renting a vehicle once there.

We've never been real interested in taking a "birding" tour...  while we're both avid birders, neither of us are fanatics.  Seeing and living the "local" life has been higher on our priorities, but...  hey, we'll takes what we gets.  ;-)

So...  if any of you who may be reading this have spent time in Costa Rica, or know of any contacts from whom we could glean some information....  we'd be grateful for any help we can get.

I changed my "header" picture this morning.  Just a word about that...  Daffodils are my favorite flower (and maybe our daughter, Donna's as well).  I planted tons of bulbs around my place in Ohio when I was first married in 1961.  While that marriage didn't work, the bulbs thrived.  I dug them up and replanted them on the farm in 1982 when Bill & I got together.  There are daffodils everywhere there now!  Last year, Bill dug a bunch of them up and brought them here to Texas.  He planted them here at our daughter, Celeste's house.  There are 4 blooming as I write.  That picture, with our rig showing in the background, is very special to me....  kind of a reminder that life goes on...  no matter what our plans might have been.

 By the way, I wish I could come up with some outrageous outfit to wear and have my picture taken in, but....  we don't even have our Lazy Boy recliners anymore, let alone anything but the basics in attire....  my jeans have barbed wire tears in them, my shirts are all permanently stained with various things...  I haven't changed out my earrings in at least 3 years...  Boy!  Are we boring!

All for Today.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Let the Ducks Out?

Bill and I were heading back from Ft Worth today and what should appear before our very eyes?
Oh No!  The Good Luck Duck !

Can it be?  Did they give up traveling and go into the used car business?  Tell me it isn't so!

I mean...  this thing is HUGE!  Maybe it flew clear over to Ft Worth from the other side of Texas...  I bet if it IS the Good Luck Duck it will come to its senses real fast and head for warmer weather.

I know my family won't have a clue about what THAT'S all about, but if any blogging friends read this, they'll know ;-)

Now...  the reason we were in Ft Worth was for Bill's appointment with the cardio doctor.  I'm sure you all know the hoops we have to jump through to get doctor appointments, lab tests etc. In December our family doctor heard a slight heart murmur, and the subsequent EKG showed an irregular heartbeat.  Bill couldn't get to see the cardio doc until late January, so we left Glen Rose and stayed a few weeks in the Valley...  enjoying the birding and all the other things the Valley has to offer.

Back to Glen Rose for the cardio doc...  then another few weeks until the stress test and echo sonagram.  Then another couple of weeks before the cardio doc could see him with the results.

I will add here that this was not an emergency ...  Bill has had no indication of any problems.  And, finally, today, after waiting over an hour to see the doctor, the doc spent less than 10 minutes telling Bill that everything is fine.  He's probably had the murmur forever and we all have stuff go on in our bodies that are normal for us. 

So, while we weren't really worried about this, we both wanted to rule out any problems.  Which has been done....  and I am thankful. 

NOW...  we're where most of you bloggers were last November.  Where will we go and how will we spend the winter?  I know that March is upon us, but we don't have to be in Maine until June (talked with Kirk today... they got 18" snow...  expecting more tonight) so we have March, April and May to play around....  somewhere.

We have a few ideas...  guess we'll see what we come up with.

That's All For Today....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Windy Friday

Hmmmm...  not sure if I mean the weather outside or my wordy blogs...  but the beautiful warm day (tee shirt and sandals!!!) of yesterday is still beautiful today, but very windy and cold.  The sun is shining, though, and that makes a world of difference.

As I've written before, I have a couple of game cameras at various locations on our daughter's property.  I never know what will show up in the pictures the next day...  We've been visited pretty regularly by this fellow....

This grey fox comes around 8:00 in the evening, and makes another round through the yard around midnight.  He isn't interested in the deer feed or corn...  I have a feeling he's more interested in the rabbits and other critters who do come to feed.  Since the cameras record the time each photo is taken, I've noticed that the cottontails and the fox's visits are farily close together.  Guess Brer Rabbit better be on the lookout!

Deer come around day or night.  There can be as many as 16 around the feeders at a time.
The "daytime" photos are nice if you want to see detail...


The "nighttime" pictures show the drama. Don't you just love the expression on that doe?  I had no idea that these different species would chow down so close together....

Another thing I like about my game cameras is when they catch birds in flight...
Although this isn't terribly clear, it shows details of the feathers that usually I just don't catch
The camera caught these two cardinals having a bit of a skirmish.

I know we see sights such as this every day, but I'm seldom quick enough with my camera to actually snap a picture of the action.

I haven't even seen a spotted towhee nor a brown thrasher since we've been here, so when the camera caught these guys, I know I should be getting out more to see what else is here.

I saw this the other day....
I don't have a cactus field guide and don't know what species it is...  but it's almost flat to the ground...  It was actually quite beautiful...  this one measured about 8" across.  I see a new field guide in my future....

Well, we finally got our last 1099 in yesterday's mail...  and today we got our tax stuff sent off to our CPA back in Ohio.  It's always a relief to get that out of the way.  Guess it's really not over until we send it to the IRS... 

And when the IRS is the big news of the day, I KNOW it's time to close !!!!

That's All for Today....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Material Things

I usually get up during the night and use the bathroom.  We have a Class C motorhome... only 27' long; no slide-outs...  so it's a short walk from the bed, which is over the cab, to the bathroom at the other end of the rig.  No need to turn on any lights as we seem to have an extraordinary amount of various lights dotting the way from one end of the rig to the other.  Small lights...  red, yellow... sometimes blue.  It probably looks like a minature run-way for radio controlled airplanes.

This got me to thinking (here, Bill always says "Oh, No" and rolls his eyes) about the "things" we have acquired over the years.

When we started planning to travel we bought our first cell phone.  It was a little Nokia.  We signed up with AT&T...  had to sign a one year agreement in order to get cheaper service.  It took us a year to find the right motorhome, make our own house "rentable", and to do our research on how to live on the road.  (There were lots of "how-to" books, even 12 years ago..  but looking back, I think some of that advice just hilarious!...  that could be a whole nother blog!)

We both had our own PCs, but thought that one laptop would do us both. 

Off we drove....  2001.... one laptop, one cellphone, and a small camera that used film.  We had one pair of binoculars, and an excessive amount of Field Guides to about everything.

Many places we were, we had no cell phone service.  It wasn't just AT&T, back then even Verizon and the others were sporadic, to say the least.  So we used the computers at libraries for e-mail so we could stay in touch with family.  After a year or so, we learned about Pocketmail and purchased one.  I'd type in my messages, and when we'd get to a payphone, we'd dial a toll-free number and transmit and receive any messages.  This had its limitations...  I'd send short messages and beg my friends and family to NOT send me any jokes, photos, or other lengthy epistles.  (I wonder if Pocketmails are still in use...  how often to you see a workable pay phone these days?)

I think maybe we bought better binoculars (a pair for each of us!) and even bought a spotting scope next.  Both necessary items for amatuer birders....

I can't remember whether it was the XM Radio or the GPS Street Pilot that were our next acquistions.  We were way up in North Dakota...  radio stations hard to find and harder to hang on to when traveling.  Since we didn't have a TV we did rely on a radio for news...  and I really wanted PBS ... Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion were hard to live without. Since XM and Cirius have merged, we sometimes have trouble keeping track of what we can find where...  but the radio was a great enhancement.

Along came the Garmin Street Pilot.  As much as I rant and rave at that bossy woman in there, she's gotten us out of many a mess.

Not too long after that we started geocaching...  I just had to have a hand-held GPS.  We do use them (after I had the first one a couple of years we upgraded to a more sophisticated model) for other things.  Hey...  you can even find your car in a parking lot...  if you remember to put in the coordinates before you leave ;-)

We're at the end of 2005 now...  it's no longer practical to share the laptop.  Time to get a second one.  At this time we have had it with Pocketmail and depending on libraries for internet.  We sign on with Hughes and buy a satellite dish.  Ours is the kind you put on a tripod outside your rig.  Bill is the foreman of this job...  and the laborer...  and the maintenance man.  I know I need to learn how it all works but right now, all I do is get out my trusty GPS and give him the coordinates of our location. He finds the azimuth, elevation etc and does all the setting up.

With the satellite dish we had to buy a modem and a router.

Actually, at this point, we had to buy a tow vehicle to carry all this stuff.  Bill calls our little Scion our "Storage Shed".  (It's also my wine cellar, my bird seed bin and has various other uses besides getting me to the grocery store)

Somewhere in here AT&T told us we either had to get an updated phone or they would discontinue our service.  Enter....  the I Phone.

I think Bill has something else that he uses, but I can't remember what it is...

In 2004 I dropped my camera in a pond... while this was definitely an accident, that incident began my experience with digital cameras.  And bigger lenses..... 

I like games, so bought a Nintendo...  lots of fun while you're waiting around with nothing to read. I needed a better exercise program so we got a Wii...  had to buy a TV since we didn't have one.  We went ahead and bought a DVD player on the chance we'd want to watch movies...  So far the TV has been used only as a monitor for the Wii. 

 We needed external memory for our laptop...  Oh yes, we bought a printer/scanner somewhere in there. 

We have antennas on the roof of the rig...  we have antennas along the cab (the rig came with a CB radio).... 

Now it's 2012.   It sounds like we buy everything coming and going in the electronic field...  but keep in mind that this has been over an eleven year period. 

Nearly all those "material things" that are listed in the above  use....  batteries!  And it doesn't make any difference whether the batteries are external and need charged or you just plug in the whole device....  walking through our rig at night is an experience of its own.  This charger has a red light...  that one a yellow...  the modem has 5 blue lights....  the cell phone glows....  one battery charger starts winking at you when the batteries are charged.

Heck, even the refrigerator has a tiny light to let you know its on...  so does the water pump and the hot water heater.... 

When we started out we had just "the basics".....   But, as time goes on, the basics seem to be complicated.  We could probably do without lots of our "material things", but when I walk through our rig at night, it comes home to me just how many conveniences we've acquired.

That's all for Today......

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Glen Rose, Texas

First of all, I want to welcome my followers.  I'm still not sure exactly how to reply...  maybe just e-mail?  In fact, I want to follow some other blogs myself and there are some that require more know-how than I have.  So...  thank you for taking the time to read my "Essays"...  and special thanks to those who wish Bill well on his tests. 

I can only say this...  so far he hasn't been glowing in the dark or turning green or anything.  We go back to Ft Worth next Monday...  I'll update y'all then.  Thanks!

Because we now do our "doctorin" in Granbury, and this time our medical stuff is taking longer, we've been at our daughter's place near Glen Rose for quite a while.  Glen Rose is the county seat of Somervell County.

Texas has a total of 254 counties!  Somervell County is the 3rd smallest county consisting of a total of 192 square miles.  In the 2010 census, the county had a population of 8,490.  Glen Rose, the largest city in the county has a population of 2,444.  It became the county seat in 1875, when the county was formed.
The Courthouse, was built in 1894.  As in many western town, the courthouse is in the center of a plaza, or town square.  This one is no exception... the area where it's located is nicely landscaped and has several statues and war memorials.

This statue depicts the earliest settlers here. 

Around the town square are historic buildings, most have been restored to look as they did, but now accomodate modern-day businesses.
This is an antique shop...  one of many in the area.

A trendy boutique in an historic setting....

There is a small museum right on the town square.  It houses clothing, tools, and other artifacts of days gone by.  Those panels at the top right are the collection of different barbed wire fencing once used in Texas. 

Just outside the museum is Glen Rose's "claim to fame".  Dinosaur prints were discovered nearby in 1908, following  the tragic Paluxy River Flood. 
Since then other prints have been discovered.  Just outside of Glen Rose today is the Dinosaur State Park and also the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. 

In fact, if you stop at the Visitor Center as you enter Glen Rose on Rt 67, this is what you'll see....
There are all kinds of dinosaur and fossil related businesses in the area.

Back to the town square...  this was the town's first post office.... 

A far cry from today's post office located just on the edge of town.

Also, just at the edge of the court house parking area is..
The Farmer's Market area.  Still today, this is the area where local farmer's bring their produce to sell during warmer weather.

Just off the town square is something, that to me is quite unique...
There's a small bird sanctuary, tucked away between two business buildings...  a small creek runs through it and there are lots of bird feeders, bird houses and other bird attractions.  This is easy to miss because it's the width of a normal building, right on the main street. 

There are several parks and other attractions within walking distance of the town square.  Big Rocks Park is right on the Paluxy River.  I didn't get a picture of that but it looks exactly like its name...  HUGE rocks to climb on or hike around.   Also a playground and picnic area.

Just east of the town square is another park...
Again, it's just a short walk to it from downtown...  but besides a playground and picnic area is also is a historic site...
There are restored buildings of days gone by... Each building is marked with a plaque citing its purpose and history. 

There are also a fair number of Bed and Breakfasts, Country Inns, and even large retreats and unique inns.

This Lodge is located just a short distance from the square.  There are several such businesses in the area.

Moving outside the town square, Glen Rose is much like other small towns...
The Somervell Library is near the complex of school buildings.  By the way, the school campus is huge!  Houses all grade levels in various buildings, and it looks like a beautiful new convocation center is just being completed. 

I am amazed at how many banks there are in this town...  I'm sure they are all branch banks of some larger institution.  Someday I'll take the time to count them all!
This is where we opened an account...  the main office is in Stephenville, about 30 miles south of here, but this one has what we need.

Also, there are lots of churches of all denominations here...
This is St Rose of Lima, where I go.  It's quite small and I believe the pastors come from St Francis Cabrini, in Granbury for the services here.

So you can see that Glen Rose has many similarities to other small towns in Texas.  But there's one BIG difference.  The reason the roads are so good; the reason the schools are so modern; and probably one of the reasons that there are so many banks...


The Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant Generating Station

Located just about 5 miles west of Glen Rose, and almost on the Somervell/Hood County lines, this is one of two nuclear plower plants in Texas.  It's been operating since the mid 1970's and is the employer of over 1,000 people.  I'm sure the tax money it generates for the county make a huge difference.

The city of Granbury (Hood County) is located about 20 miles away...  the whole town square is now on the Historical Record.  It brings in a lot of tourists from Ft Worth and other places.  When reading about small Texas towns to visit, Granbury is probably near the top.  BUT...  just down the road is Glen Rose...  well worth your time to stop by and check out.  It has a lot more than I've noted here and I seem to find something new each time I wander the streets.

Hope you've enjoyed your city tour...  it's been my pleasure!

All for Today....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bad Day at Black Rock

Okay...  truth is...  NO mysterious stranger came to town...  It's just that the last 3 days have been kind of crappy.  (That's NOT the word I use around the house...  those that know me KNOW that)... 

Started Friday...  the drive to Ft Worth wasn't bad... we found the medical ctr with no problem.  Got there...  they said...  You're 3 hours late...  no time to do the tests.  WHAT!!!  Bill dragged out the stuff he got in the mail. (He's SO efficient!  No kidding!  He really is, and that's a good thing)...  They figured out that whoever sent all the paperwork saying what you do/don't do before a stress test made a whopper of a mistake and told us the wrong time. 

Let me make it perfectly clear here....  it's BILL who's having the stress test...  I'M the one who's spazzing out due to the inefficiency of the >*&^%%  office person. 

Anyway, they worked in the echosonogram... but .... Bless their hearts... (see, I've learned a few Southern terms since leaving Ohio...  (you wanna know what I'd'a said back then?).....  they rescheduled him for Monday (today) for the stress test.

Let's back up a little...  all this really isn't about me...  Bill had an annual check-up and after at least 10 years of an irregular heart-beat our new doctor thinks this bears checking out.  Well, no s...  , hey, I want to keep him around a LONG time and we'll do whatever it takes.  We changed from our Ohio doctors (what can you do when 1 retires and the other one dies?)...  to doctors here in Texas.  Our daughter lives near Ft Worth and we're here at least a few weeks of each year...  the perfect place to get "relocated".

And actually we have found a family doctor in Granbury that we both like (I'm partial to osteopaths)....  and...  he has a clinic where he has specialists from Ft Worth for those quirky things that go wrong with us.

So...  enter the cardiologist.  I don't think either of us are really concerned over this...  if you ever watched Bill working with a shovel...  or a backhoe...  or really everything he does almost every day, you'd know he could put a guy 30 years younger than him to shame.

Anyway...  his EKG does show up some irregularities... bears checking out.  We both strongly believe in preventative medicine...  

So...  Friday we do the Ft Worth thing...  but let's return back to Glen Rose.  We're at our daughter's house...  her husband is in the oil/gas business... works abroad several months of the year.  He's been home for the holidays and is about to return to his foreign job. 

The weekend is kind of bittersweet......  too much to do before he goes...  his kids visit....  we're all kind of on overwhelm.  Our daughter is handling it all very well...  but let's face it...  it's hard.

Come Monday...  Bill & I head back to Ft Worth...  he does the 4 hour stress test thing.  (okay, so I go geocaching while he's doing that ;-).....  He gets done about noon today...  I ask him how it went.  Neither of us had a clue about what to expect...   He tells me he had about 15 minutes of actual testing... but...  he can't get through an airport check-in for 3days because now he's radioactive.  WHAT???   Okay, we really aren't planning on going anywhere, but what the heck is THIS about?   They really did give him a card to give to airport security if he's flying anywhere to explain about him being shot full of radioactive stuff for the test.

I'm trying real hard not to laugh my you know what off at this point.... 

We go to a Barnes & Noble...  I get my book fix (bought "The Help") and we headed home.  (books and reading are my answer to all kinds of problems)

Oops... forgot...  stopped at the H.E.B. and bought some sushi for dinner...  that and a glass of wine was dinner tonight. 

Now...  do you understand why the last three day haven't been the greatest?  Maybe tomorrow I'll do that great blog on the history of Glen Rose that I had planned...  it really is worth writing about...  honest!   I'll even include pictures....

All for Today....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's In a Town?

My new blog friend Donna recently had a post "What's In A Name?" and that got me to thinking (for God only knows what reason) about "what's in a town".  We've been on the road for over 11 years now. In the beginning we seemed to be on the road more, but even then, we'd stay at a place about 3 months, usually volunteering, before moving on.

You (or at least we did) get pretty much settled in if you stay in an area for 3 months.  You learn the area....  the roads, the best stores to shop, the places to eat...  you get to know the "locals" some...  and, if you're like me, you even start to pick up some of the local dialect.  (When the heck did I start saying "y'all"?)

So I got to thinking about what's important to us when we arrive at a brand new area.

Well, for the first 5 years or so we didn't have a tow vehicle.  So our bicycles were our main mode of transportation to get around.  This pretty much meant that most errands could be done on a daily basis if they were within a 5 mile distance.  We could have ridden further, but somehow this was about the limit.

Back then we had Pocketmail...  we had to find a pay phone to send e-mails to friends for family.  We belong to Escapees, so getting our mail once a week, or even once a month, became the normal.

We had our cell phone but since we were often way out in the boonies, we were totally away from any cell tower and phone service was limited.

Enter...  "What's In A Town?"....

From the beginning of our travels libraries have been important.  Not only as a source of reading material (we haven't had a TV for over 30 years)...  but ....  INTERNET!....  Everything from on-line banking to keeping in touch with friends and family.  Monthly reconcililation of credit cards...  bank statements...  all that stuff. 

I have probably a dozen or more library cards from all over the country....  I cherish every one as my love of libraries goes WAY back...  I have wonderful memories of when I was quite young and the BookMobile came around .....  I can't remember when books were not a part of my life.

Now we carry around our satellite dish...  not for TV, but for internet service.  While we no longer need a library for internet use, I can't imagine not being able to "borrow" books as both of us read voraciously!  Maybe this is why E-books hasn't appealed to me....

The local bank...  again, probably not a major issue these days.  We do have on-line banking services.  But...  we've found that having an account in a "local" bank makes life a lot easier.  Especially a bank like Wells Fargo that is throughout the west. We don't have a big balance in any local bank, but even a small amount allows easier cashing of checks, using a notary public, or other services banks offer.

Knowing where the local post office is....  Again, we use Escapees Mail Service.  And most of the time now we do have a physical address to have our mail sent to.  But dropping in to mail birthday cards and other stuff gives me the opportunity to get to know the postal employees in small post offices.  It's amazing how far a friendly hello goes these days.  I've had postal emplyees hold mail that they could easily have sent back...  just because they remembered me.

Church...  this is a personal choice.  I love going to different churches.  I'm particularly fond of bilingual mass.  Hey...  when I was a kid, it was all in Latin... what's the big deal?  I go to one church that is TRI-LINGUAL...  some in English, some in Spanish, some in Latin!  I LOVE it!  Listening to the sermons... listening to (and trying to participate in) the songs!  Different areas of the USA have different customs... I don't care what the"Church" says...  it may be the same, but it's different.

Grocery Stores...  Ah...  my favorite subject!  I love grocery shopping.  I love regional foods!  I love to shop, I love to cook...  I love to eat!  The "Mom and Pop" stores are fun... the IGA is LOCAL...  you can go to Wal-Mart and get plenty of food, but go to the local stores...  watch the people who shop there...  ask questions if you don't know what something is....  or how to fix it.  Most people (women especially) LOVE to tell you how to fix a cut of meat or some fruit or veggie you've never heard of.  I know this is pretty much a Big Box store, but here in Texas, the H.E.B. groceries are fantastic!  Go to one...  you'll see what I mean.

Let's see...  what have I left out....  bank, church, PO, grocery, library....  ????

I closed this...  then remembered an important place....  the Laundromat!  I don't know how many of you have traveled on a Greyhound Bus, but the local laundromat kind of reminds me of that.  You meet  the most interesting people with the most interesting stories. Everyone from the wealthy lady whose washer broke and she had to come here to the young mom with an infant, a toddler and an obnoxious 4 year old... who had to scrape together enough coins just to get the diapers done.  Laundromats kind of bring together people of all walks of life.

To me, this is what traveling is all about...  whether we're in the USA or another country....  each place is a  a new adventure....  Getting to know the local customs and surroundings is a wonderful experience.

No pictures this time....  just words.   Of why and how I love the places we live.

That's all for Today...

Friday, February 17, 2012

An Honest Answer...

Our youngest grandchild Natalie, is 19 years old.  Due to various circumstances she's never had a job.  Recently she started her journey out into the "real world" and began looking for a real, honest-to-goodness paying job.  The area where she lives is about 50 miles from any city of size, but there are the usual fast-food, big box, hardware stores about 20 miles from her home.

We've all been through the routine....  get the application, fill it out as honestly as you can, write a resume and send or take it all over town.  Then...  hope you get an interview.

Natalie's mom  coached her by asking her the kinds of questions that companies ask...  and she impressed on her to be honest and open in her answers.

Yesterday, Natalie had a job interview with Lowe's Hardware & Lumber...  the interview was at 10am.

Bill & I have our motorhome parked at the edge of Natalie's family (our daughter & son-in-law) yard and are here most of the day.

We know when the interview is and are kind of antsy about Natalie's return.

Early afternoon she pulls in...  and she comes over to our rig.  I'm asking her how the interview went and what kinds of stuff they asked.... 

She said they asked her if she had any retail experience.

And she said...  "Well, I sold Girl Scout Cookies".

Natalie starts work next week.

They loved her sense of humor....  Best Wishes, Natalie on your new job!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Third Finger, Left Hand

What the heck is THIS all about?

There was a song (by Martha & the Vandellas) popular in 1967 with that name....  I don't remember it at all... probably too busy raising kids at the time.

There was a movie, in fact a classic movie, by that name out in 1940, starring Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas.  Don't remember that one either...  wasn't born yet...

So...  Why the picture of my hand with a wedding ring?

In July of 1991, the hospital where I worked was on strike.  I was the payroll person there, so while I was salaried, I really wasn't "management" as such...  so I was working.

It was a Tuesday...  we paid on Friday...  and I had just got the payroll updated, ready to pull checks the next day.  Bill and I had a small organic farm where we grew veggies for the local farmer's market.  I left work as usual, went home...  and as always happens on a farm... things needed done.  Tonight the strawberries needed picked.

We had put a netting over the strawberry patch to keep the birds out of the ripe berries.  I rolled back the net, got down on my knees and proceded to pick berries.  I don't remember exactly how far along the row I got but I know I was bracing myself with my left hand while moving along.  Suddenly I had the most excrutiating pain in my hand...  it felt like someone had taken a pair of those funny shaped pliers and had the web between my ring and pinky fingers in their grasp and was squeezing with all their might.

I lifted up my hand...  and...  a very angry copperhead snake was hanging on, no doubt injecting venom for all he was worth.  I shook him loose and started screaming for Bill. We lived about 7 miles from the hospital but I doubt if it took Bill long to get us there.

We went zooming through the picket line....  but since I knew most of those employees, when they saw the terror on my face, they didn't say a word.

Now...  a lot of the nursing staff were out on strike...  this meant that a lot of management was working the ER.  I don't remember what doctor was on duty, but I seem to remember a few phone calls to that center for poison control down in Atlanta. 

One thing I'll NEVER forget...  I asked (jokingly...  yeah... right)... "I'm not going to die, am I?".  Lil, one of the management's best (?)...  hesitated...  (way too long)...  and said...  "I don't think so).   (Shall we discuss "bedside manner" here?)

The "treatment" was interesting...  they put my hand in a pan of saline solution.  Every so many minutes they'd use a ball point pen and mark the line of swelling on my arm... and the time.  I guess they were seeing how quickly the poison was going up my arm...  and to my heart!  Yikes! 

I did not get the anti-venon serum...  but I was given something for pain and I suppose an antibiotic.  I was admitted...  and within a short time looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  In fact, the lab girls couldn't find a vein for an IV and they had to use my ankle. 

As it happened, I was allergic to whatever pain stuff they gave me and the reaction to that was so bad I wasn't released for 3 days.  AND...  Bill had to bring me loose sweats to wear home because nothing I had would fit.  It took me over 2 weeks to finally get rid of the water retention.

That was in 1991.  For years the nerve damage in my pinky and ring finger of my left hand created problems.  Even slightly cold weather would cause my hand to feel like it was frozen.  I had some problems with dexterity.  And.... I couldn't wear rings.  Just the slightest pressure was too much.

Every now and then I'd try on my wedding ring....  and put it back away.  This went on for... let's see.... almost 21 years.

Bill and I celeberated our 30th anniversary in January.  Out came the ring...  hmmmm...  I'll be darned... 

I'm healed!!!!

That's All for Today...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Gloom of Night....

Wait a minute! That's the US Postal System slogan, isn't it? (Actually, that's not an official slogan but don't we always think it is?)... Anyway... here about 50 miles SW of Ft Worth, that's exactly what the weather is...  snow and rain and gloom...  did I forget fog?

This is what it looked like Sunday evening.  Enough snow flakes to look like Christmas Eve!  Seems like we left Ohio 11 years ago just because of scenes like this....

We drove the rig into Granbury yesterday morning...  You can see snow on top of these huge hay bales.  There wasn't any accumulation, mostly just patches of snow on leaves or other vegetation.

                                                                        This pile of gravel still had enough snow that if I wanted to make a snowball, I could have.  Probably not enough for a whole snowman, though. No snow angels either... 

We drove the rig into Granbury yesterday...  we use more propane when the temps are low. 
They put 11.9 gallons of LP in the 17 gallon tank...  but 14 gallons is the maximum you can fill it with.  However, the last fill-up was on December 16, 2011, so that's not bad.  Propane here is $3.10 a gallon.  Gasoline was $3.43 a gallon.... 

We also use a lot more bird seed when the temps are low.  I have 4 feeders just a few feet from our rig.  I've had my motion sensor camera set up to catch the activity and am amazed at some of the shots it captures.
When I first looked at this one, I thought I had a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned hawk ready to swoop down for a birdy snack.  And I wondered why those goldfinch weren't flying away.  A closer look made me realize that it was just another goldfinch...  but the angle and depth perception to the camera was deceiving. 

We have some other visitors to the feeders....
This acrobatic squirrel just wouldn't give up.  He made several attempts to climp up that skinny, wrought iron post...  sliding down, climbing up....  Finally he did manage to get high enough to jump onto the bird feeder.  I don't know why he bothered...  there is enough seed on the ground to feed a whole herd of squirrels.

The weather today is wet, foggy and gloomy.  But at 43 degrees at 9am that isn't too bad.  I wrote earlier in this that we left Ohio partly to get out of the snow zone.  Well...  here is an except from a daily log I keep:

May 3, 2001
After 3 days and nights on a ferry, we landed in Skagway on Monday PM.  We drove through Whitehorse and Yukon.  I had a reaction to the transderm (motion sickness meds) and I've been sick 3 days on land.  We drove to Tok...  spent night at Moose Creek.  Weather turned bad...  it takes us 3 hours to drive the 30 miles to Anchorage.  We stay at Potter Creek for 3 days because the road on down to the Kenai is closed to traffic.  The huge overhead "road conditions" signs are turned off for the season as this snow/ice storm is unexpected.  Even the toll-free number for weather conditions now has a recording..."thanks for visiting Alaska, have a great summer"

And  we did!

So...  neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night will keep a true RVer from enjoying every minute of their latest adventure.

That's All for Today....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Learning Curve is Becoming a Topo Map

Donna K, another Blogger (I have to put initials here because I know 2 ...  or maybe 3 "Donna" bloggers...  AND...  my daughter is also a Donna) recently published a really great post on collages.  I've been wanting to learn how to do this since I've seen some real nice presentations of groups of photos on other blogs.

I probably didn't do one thing that Donna said to do because I still haven't learned how to print out a blog ....  BUT....  with Bill's help, we downloaded "Picasa" today.  (Bill checked to see how much memory it would suck up...  decided it was okay...  and now...  VOILA!...  I have Picasa on my laptop).

So for the past couple of hours I've been checking out this program.  First of all, as you may guess, I take thousands of photos.  I have my "big" camera with the big, heavy lenses,  and I have a Canon Powershot that will fit in my pocket.  Okay... truth is... I have 2 of these.  I dropped one a couple of months ago and some of the functions don't work anymore, but I can still use it for a back-up.  Then... I have 2 game (motion sensitive) cameras that take pictures on on their own.  If I there is a weed blowing in the wind right in front of the lens, I have had a whole 4GB memory card be totally full ...  over a thousand pictures of that stupid weed.  Since I use at least 3 of these cameras every day I am on "photo overload".

My problem is that I'm too possessive.  I keep WAY too many pictures.  I'm not sure why...  maybe I know there's a moose behind that tree...  so what if you can only see his hiney?

But...  back to the collage thing.  So much of the time I'd like to group pictures together to tell a story...  guess I'm an organizer at heart... 

Since all 456 folders (with ALL their various pictures in each folder) downloaded into Picasa, I thought I'd give this a shot.

Attempt #1

OKAY!!!!  This took me about a half hour to figure out how to get it from Picasa into this blog.    I should have written down what I was doing as I went, except there were so many false attempts that might have been pointless.

I took these pictures at Santa Ana NWR, near McAllen, Texas last month.  By the way... (clockwise)  that's a green jay, a chachalaca, then there's Bill standing on a bridge that was a Boy Scout Project in 2002/2003.  Bill helped with the initial layout and early construction.  Next picture is of the completed bridge .  And, finally an armadillo nosing around in the brush.

Attempt #2

This is the demolition of an old power plant near Caribou, Maine.  This time I used borders between the pictures. 

Attempt #3
A clean-up of an environmental incident, also in Maine.  Drums of roofing tar had been dumped in an old gravel quarry....  All kinds of agencies got involved before this was over.  Unfortunately the persons who dumped it were not found.  This has several more pictures, but all that does is reduce the size of the photos... doesn't make the collage any bigger.... 

Looking at the clock, I see I've been at this just under 3 hours.  I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm sort of like Jack, the bulldog.....   tenacious!  Hang in there with me...  I'll do better!

By the way, it was 29 degrees when we got up this morning...  it's all the way up to 43 degrees at 3pm.   No sunshine at all today...   I swear it looks like it could snow!  In Texas?

The learning curve continues...   but...  All for Today....

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Friday Drive

We woke up to another overcast day...  in fact, I heard rain on our roof a couple of times during the night.  Not hard rain... just a scattering of raindrops not lasting any time at all.  But it was cold and looking pretty dreary.

I guess the deer found the feeder very inviting this morning.  I believe there are 10 or more in this picture...  all having breakfast.

Bill was ready to take a break from working outside.  One thing we've both been interested in doing is working as a "guard".  Here in the west (probably elsewhere as well), you'll see RVs parked at the entrance to drilling sites, construction jobs and such places that vandalism or unauthorized folks might like to check out.  When we were in Cleburne a few weeks ago we saw a sign advertising a company that provides this service.

The only "paying" job we've had since we've been on the road was in 2003 and we worked at the Indianapolis Speedway.  While it may not have been the "job from hell", we must surely have been in purgatory that whole month. 

While we love volunteering at National Wildlife Refuges, we are ready for a different kind of adventure and wanted to check this out.

The office was closed but we have a phone number and will contact them later.  Have any of my fellow bloggers done this kind of work?  Let me know....

After stopping at the gate service place it was still early.  We weren't in any hurry to get home so decided to take a "scenic route" back.  A scenic route to us means anything from getting lost and going miles out of our way to...  well...  a real scenic route.

This road would take us to Cleburne State Park...
Now, remember we're in Texas...  scenic here doesn't mean mountains and bubbling brooks.  But, my! you can just about see forever!  There is some farmland, but most of what you see is range...  cattle grazing on practically nothing.  I don't know how many cows an acre of land can support, but I have a feeling that (especially during drought) it just ain't many!

I did manage to get a shot of this roadrunner.  Usually these wily critters (and you thought the coyote was the ony wily one, didn't you?) are too fast for me to get their picture.  AHA! Got this one!

We stopped at the Cleburne State Park...  thought we'd check out their campgrounds.  There was an entry fee of $5 a person... 
I asked the attendant if we could just go for a look...  he was kind enough to give us a half hour permit for free.
Obviously we didn't have time to take a lot of pictures, but what we saw was very attractive.  There were several campgrounds - mostly close to the water, but still somewhat remote.  As we turned in our permit when we leaving, Bill overheard the attendant, who was on the phone, say that there was an opening for tonight, but the rest of the weekend was totally booked.  Since we have a perfect spot at Celeste's, it isn't likely we'd stay, but ...  one never knows....

After leaving the State Park, we happened upon this....
HUGE operation.....
And This...
All those trees and the ground are coated with white dust!!!
What's going on here?

It's the Texas Lime Company.  I'll have to Google this because we don't know a thing about it.  I can only say that the operation is humongus...  and that we see many, many trucks on the road that are probably carrying this product.  After looking at those trees covered in that white dust I couldn't help but think of emphysema, white lung, and various other respiratory ailments.

Moving right along....

We came across this plaque...
"This cluster of oaks has weathered hundreds of years of lightning strikes... strong winds...  dry spells, followed by wet spells and cattle rustlers once hanging on a rope from its limbs and yet still stands like a silent sentinel to the early pioneers who blazed this historic trail."

And behind the plaque...
Are what remains of those mighty oaks.  I should have asked Bill to stand beside them as they are MUCH larger than they appear.  Unfortunately, they got some kind of disease a couple of years ago that has all but destroyed them.  Soon they will be no more than a heap of rotted wood.

But one can see how magnificent they must have been...

The morning was nearly past...  the sky had cleared up...  the sun was even shining.  We hadn't packed a lunch so headed on home.

There is just SO much to see...  even in a few hour's drive into the countryside.

Oh yes...  that motion sensor camera...  It doesn't just pick up deer and rabbits and the such...  it picks up whatever moves...

Just in case you're interested, Victor and Bill were setting the pole for the purple martin house at 3:41pm yesterday afternoon.  The temperature was 56 degrees...  and the moon phase looks about half....  

One has to be careful about what one does when they think they're alone in the great outdoors.

That's All for Today...