Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

They're Back!

A couple of days ago Celeste spotted the first of this year's Painted Buntings at her feeder.  Wasn't long before they started visiting ours as well...
What a beauty!
So far I've only seen one at a time, and have yet to see a female...  but I know before long, there will be many around.

And...  this is a picture I posted last year, but it's still one of my favorites...
We saw this girl at the local H.E.B. (grocery)...  a dead-ringer for one of my favorite birds.
She allowed me take her picture...  said she didn't know about Painted Buntings...  but oh my!  she couldn't have done better!

Tomorrow is our last day here in Glen Rose.  Finally finished the medical stuff that needed done.  The water line isn't finished, but hopefully Victor won't return to work real soon and will have time to work on it.

We haven't decided yet on a route to drive to Ohio.  It's been a couple of years since we drove the Natchez Trace... from Natchez up to Nashville...  and are thinking it would be beautiful this time of year.  It's a 2 lane / 55mph National Park road and has a couple of campgrounds as well as lots of informational pullovers.

Don't know...  we'll see.  

The time here passed very quickly...  but I'm getting excited about seeing family in Ohio soon.

That's All For Today!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rock Around the Clock...

I was thinking of all the different titles I could call this blog...
One was...  Rock of Ages...
Back Hoe with Bill and Shovel

What's going on?  Well, Celeste loves gardening...  and gardens require water.
I might add here that they do have their own well and water system to handle whatever needs they have.

Our son-in-law, Victor, has been planning to put in a water system that will cover the major areas that will need watered.  No small feat!  This area of Texas is ROCK!   Just inches below what little bit of soil is there is solid rock.  The water line needs to be laid about about 2' deep...  (I may be understating the depth)...  but anyway...  that big ole backhoe is essential for the amount of work that needs done.  It takes a lot of digging and pounding just to break up that rock shelf into pieces that will fit in the backhoe.

Part of the line has already been laid and covered with dirt.   About a dozen loads of top soil were hauled in to cover the ditches...  all those rocks will be hauled away later.

There are several areas that will need a faucet...  you can see where they've put in a fitting so the area next to the house can have it's own system.

In the very back of the yard, they might want a garden one of these days.  This section isn't done...  but you can see pipe laid...  that little white line clear almost at the top of the picture.

More of the ditch...  more pipe....  and.... more rocks!
Those little chicks I showed in a previous post will soon go into a chicken house...  and... yep! they'll need water.

This is a huge project...  it may have to be done in sections.  But you can bet Bill & Victor are doing their best to do it right.

You Rock, Bill!

That's All For Today!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Splish, Splash....

I was taking a bath....
Our daughter has a water feature in the front of her house.  Running water attracts a lot of wildlife and early in the morning the hummingbirds have taken it over as their own bathtub.

They come in just at daybreak...
Fly around...  dip in for a drink of water...  and then a bath...

I didn't have time to hang out and watch for very long this morning, but plan to soon.

I see lots of hummers at my feeders..... and often see them sipping nectar from the various flowers that are in bloom.

But seeing one bathe in a "natural" setting was a first for me.  And....  it wasn't even a Saturday night!

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catching Up... Again...

It's been a few days since I've posted...

Easter came and went...
St Rose of Lima, Easter Sunday
This is the church I go to when I'm in Glen Rose.  I'm always early because the choir practices an hour before services and I love listening to them.  I got to thinking about the past few Easter...  last year we were in Spain, the year before in Costa Rica, the year before that again in Spain...  I remember going to service at a Vietnamese church in Rockport, TX one year...  some years in Mexico...  I'd have to look at our old calendars to see where all we've been on Easter.  But...  we're seldom with family.  Of course, Bill is family...  and with kids located in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas...  our siblings in a couple other states, grandkids in yet more... everywhere from California to Michigan to ....  we are just happy to have phone service most places we are.

This year, we were at Celeste and Victor's.  A lot of Victor's family came for dinner, and Celeste put on a good feed.  Delicious!

In the evening Celeste and I went for a walk...  I turned over a rock so that I could close a gate...  and... oh my!

This is a Texas Centipede!
While this one was maybe 6 or 7" long, they can get to 10" or more.  They bite...  and are poisonous.  Not like a rattlesnake poisonous, but enough that the pain and after affects are felt for quite a while.  I'd never seen one before.  I figured it could do some damage as nearly everything here in Texas stings, bites, punctures, sticks you, or does other bodily harm.  
The thing I was most fascinated by is how it got all those legs moving without tripping over itself!  Heck, I'd be stepping all over my own feet!

We've had some rain so the wildflowers are still blooming quite nicely...
Here's an Indian Paintbrush with a Bluebonnet in the background.  
They are just gorgeous...

And it just amazes me how plants can germinate and grow in the tiniest cracks in the pavement...
I didn't check it out, but it's probably some kind of coreopsis....  and it's right underneath the guardrail at the side of the road.  Hardy little critter, isn't it?

I know I've posted photos of the plant/feeder hanger that Bill & Victor built, but they kept improving on it...  I think this is the finished product....
Looking from our motorhome...  
It holds everything from a birdbath/water tray to hanging baskets of flowers, to hummingbird, thistle and seed feeders for the birds.

It also has our weather station at the top right...  
It's painted a deep green and fits right in with the rest of the area.
I love it!  Thank you, Bill and Victor!

I have one more doctor appt next week, then we'll start thinking seriously about heading to Ohio...  then on to Maine for the summer.  I mentioned earlier how our kids live in various states...  well, we'll have the opportunity to visit them on our travels.  I am so looking forward to that.

Hope y'all had a good Easter...  and you didn't encounter any of those gross Texas Centipedes!

That's All For Today!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birds of a Feather....

I've written before about bird feathers...  especially the gorget (throat feathers) of hummingbirds.  Pigment doesn't make the throat feathers appear black, or red, or purple, but it's kind of like looking through a prism and seeing rainbows...  the light refraction creates an iridescence in the arrangement of feathers.  

So when the light hits the hummingbird just right the throat will appear a brilliant color, instead of the flat black you just saw.

Light is only one influence...  moisture is another factor.  I think there are some other things that can be involved, but let's keep this simple.

Now...  where we're at the most likely hummer we'll see is the Black-chinned Hummingbird.  Unless the light hits it just right, it's chin is going to look black...  but oh my!  When the light is right...

This really doesn't do the bird justice....  lousy shot of the bird, but does show the gorget looking blue here.  Most of the time we see a violet color...  not red nor blue, but a lovely purple.

We have a lot of activity around the bird feeders, especially when the weather is cooler, overcast, and today, kind of misting rain a bit.

All day I've been watching a particular bird at the back feeder...
Hey...  what's with the red gorget?
We could possibly have Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here, but haven't seen any so far.  I know I've been seeing the same bird all day as he has declared the back feeder as his own.  He sits about 6' from it and dive-bombs any other hummers that happen along.  He's been at it for at least 8 hours...  keep vigilance and launches his attacks.

Is the red created by the overcast weather?  An odd-ball bird?  
The shot on the left I took this morning...  the one on the right a couple of weeks ago.
(these are the kind of photos I don't usually post...  don't think I need to explain why)

I can just hear someone say "Hey Lady.. you need to get a life!"
But on a dreary day like today I might as well ponder some of life's little mysteries.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not Exactly Peter Cottontail....

We see all kinds of critters eating at the deer feeder that's a hundred or so feet west of our motorhome, so it didn't surprise me at all to see the Easter Bunny having breakfast out there this morning....
Okay...  so this isn't quite the Easter Bunny...  nor is he a cottontail...
This big Black-tailed Jack Rabbit was enjoying an early morning meal until....
A big doe decided she wanted to have breakfast as well.
The jackrabbit hunkered down a bit, but didn't hop off...
That doe wasn't interested in the jack, she just wanted some of that corn that comes out of that feeder.
As soon as those hoofs had cleared his body, he was out of there mighty fast!

And those jacks sure can run!
Guess they have to if they're gonna deliver all those eggs on Easter morning.

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Picture Says It All...

It was 28 degrees when we got up this morning....
This hummingbird feeder hangs outside our bathroom window at the rear of our motorhome.

Yep!  That's ICE in there!
Okay, it thawed out by 9am or so...  but...  wooohooo  That's too darned cold!

Hoping for warmer temps tomorrow...  

That's All For Today!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Windy Monday...

We've had beautiful weather ...   until last night.....

Yesterday afternoon, Bill checked the weather forecast and ....  woooohoooo!  Tornado warning...  expect high winds...  and hail!  Well, desperate times call for desperate measures....

Makes me think of that song, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down", only for us it's "Tie Our Lazy Daze Down".
Now don't think that those straps are anchored in the ground to keep us stable...  nah..  they are stretched over the cardboard and tin that cover the roof to prevent hail damage.  Not likely, but we are cautious folks....  you know... better safe than sorry.

 Celeste and Victor have guests and they put their van...  and we put our Scion...  under a big shed that Victor has to avoid hail damage.  Well, last night the tornadoes didn't materialize...  nor the hail...  but the winds blew...  and continue to blow today.  What happened to the beautiful weather?

I think my last blog showed a "works in progress" project...  the structure to raise all my bird feeders to discourage Frankie from doing his own kind of birding...
It's done and works great!
This is the view from our rig's window, taken about 8:00 this morning.  That yellow rope is kind of stablizing the feeders until Bill works out a better plan.  That's our weather station on the left on the top cross board.  That little wind gauge sure is doing a whirly-dervish dance today!

Now...  for a couple of "I don't know"s...
Looks like a kind of Paintbrush...  in the snapdragon family...  but much deeper pinkish-purple.
I figure Carolyn and Wally, my native Texan friends, know what this is for sure.

And...  here's a Judy or Mark mystery...

An odd-ball Chipping Sparrow is the nearest I can figure...  no eye stripe....  very white around the whole neck area.  

My Texas wildflower field guide isn't the best...  the bird... well, whatever.....  it's more fun to ask for help sometimes just to get some answers.  

By the way...  I finally got fed up with the number of anonymous comments (which had nothing to do with the blog...  just plain spam!) and tried to fix that situation.  I hope I didn't mess it up to where my friends who are so kind to leave comments cannot do that now.  

Anyway...  if the wind doesn't blow us away, I'll be talking to y'all again soon.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Morning Entertainment...

It was just getting light when we got up this morning.  I peeked out the door almost as soon as my feet hit the floor....  I'm on a mission....

Frankie (nickname for Frankenstein...  which suits him perfectly) has been hanging out underneath my bird feeders.  We bought a honkin' big squirt gun....  have been just waiting for him to be on the stalk again.  Sure enough...  there he was...  barely daylight.  I grabbed the gun...  flung the door open...  and....  rats!  I don't know how to use the darned thing!  

Off he goes.....
Bill got him with a spray of water a couple of days ago, so now as soon as he sees us at the door, he shoots off into the brush.  Don't get me wrong...  I like Frankie...  I'm a "cat person" anyway...  but also like my birds.  Can you see those green posts on either side of that hummingbird feeder?  Well, that's the start of a new place to hang my feeders...  it will be 9' or so high and even Frankie isn't that great of a jumper.  As for the water gun...  I lost that chance but figured out how to use it later.

I start my day by checking my e-mail.  This morning what to my astonished eyes should appear?
Eight...  count 'em...... Eight brand new geocaches in the area!
Not only in the area, but at least one within walking distance of Celeste's house...  and all of the new one's within a couple of miles.  I didn't even bother with breakfast...  headed out the door hoping for a "FTF"....  that's a "First To Find"...  it's kind of an honor to be the first to find, and though I'm not very competitive in my geocaching hunts, I couldn't resist the chance to find a couple of these.

I didn't even bother to look up the clues...  figured I'd be gone maybe a half hour at the most.  Well, it turned out that I found 3 of the caches...  yes!  FTF's all!...  came back, picked up Bill to go out again....  and ended up finding all 8 new caches...  and being FTF for all eight.  WooooHoooooo!

Ended up that the drive down the road just kept leading to other caches...  some hidden quite a while back and found by several folks over the past few weeks.
But I was on a roll....  we found a total of 17 caches in just over 2 hours.  
This small round camo'ed box was hidden in a cemetery...

I happen to love cemetery caches...  and now, here in Texas the bluebonnets are blooming and make even a lonely, out-of-the-way place very lovely.

Not only bluebonnets, but I think coreopsis, Indian paint-brush, verbena and some other wildflowers are in bloom.

There were places along this county road that were just blanketed with bluebonnets.  It was a great morning to be out in the countryside.

We were home by 10 a.m......  it took me nearly an hour just to log all my finds on the geocache website.  Having 8 "FTF"s in one day is a new record for us....  even finding 17 caches in a couple of hours isn't too shabby.  

I know my love of geocaching isn't for everyone...  but not only do I find a "treasure", I also see a little more of the countryside.
What fun!

That's All For Today!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pick Up Chicks Here....

Years ago, we spent the summer in Alaska and had driven down to Homer for some reason.  We passed a farm supply/feed store that had a big sandwich board sitting in front of the place...  with huge letters saying...

Pick Up Chicks Here

Needless to say, I still chuckle over that when I remember it.

Well, yesterday, our daughter began her venture into raising chickens...  
After the decision of what breed to buy, and where to put them, a trip to Tractor Supply was in order.

Here's our granddaughter, Natalie, holding 3 of the 6 baby chicks they bought.

Right now the chicks are in a cardboard box in the shed...  they have plenty of "bedding", a drinking system and chick food to eat.  They have a light over the box to keep them warm...  which they'll need until they get a little older and grow more feathers.

A chicken house is on order...  maybe even one of those that you roll around on wheels to distribute the fertilizer better...  as well as giving the chickens different places to scratch.  But that's a couple of weeks or so away.

I always enjoyed our chickens when we had the farm...  I enjoyed watching them as they grew, enjoyed the entertainment they provided (yes, you read that correctly...  they are better than watching TV), I enjoyed fresh eggs, and I enjoyed the chicken dinners.  (oh... gross!).  I hope Celeste enjoys raising chickens as much as we did.

Yesterday I wrote about Bill's need for a new Leatherman-type tool.  He did end up buying a Gerber this time...    Today I thought I'd show you that he isn't the only one who uses such tools...

These are my own...  all Leatherman brand.  The tiny red one...  key chain size...  I bought in Toulle, NV while we were volunteering at Fish Springs NWR.  The 2" mini on the right was a gift from Bill several years ago.  The 4" "Wave" was a gift from FWS for volunteering at Aroostook NWR.

Now...  why does a person need such a variety?  Heck, I don't know...  I know that I've used them all at one time or another.  They are SO handy when geocaching....  
Just look at all the tools they hold!
I can saw off a small branch that's in the way...  file my nails....  open a bottle cap....  tighten a screw, tweeze out a splinter....  the uses just are so numerous!

I used to have a tiny Victorinox knife on my keychain...  it even had a toothpick!  But...  I had to leave that in the confiscated bin at the Albuquerque airport many years ago.  

Guys aren't the only ones who use these handy dandy gadgets....  personally, I'd be lost without mine.

That's All For Today!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

House of Blades....

I've been wanting to go to Ft Worth...  been thinking about an In'N'Out hamburger for a couple of months now, and it looks like my intestinal problems are well on the mend...  soooooo...  today was the day.  I know 60 miles is a long way to drive for a greasy hamburger so I added a couple of other errands to my list to justify the trip.  Okay...  I didn't really need to justify the trip but it sounds better.

Our son-in-law, Victor, had never had an In'N Out, so he went along for the experience.  He's between work assignments right now so has some free time.

Bill mentioned that he was in the market for a new Leatherman-type tool, and Victor told us about a great place to buy knives and other such things.  After the shopping...  and the greasy burgers....  we headed to the House of Blades....
 Located just the other side of Lake Worth, the store is an attractive log cabin, sitting high on a hill side.  
 We all wandered in different directions...  I was immediately attracted to the culinary knives...
Huge display.....  all types for all uses.

 I think I'd have to be a high-paid chef to even think about buying this set of knives.
Aren't they beautiful?  If I owned them I'd be carrying them around in a chamois and would never, ever let anyone else even touch them.  Probably have them insured as well ;-)

Do you need a pocket knife?  Maybe a knife to filet fish?  How about a hunting knife?  There is a knife for every need and probably for a few things you don't need here.  The store has 3 rooms of knives...

Swords and sabers....

 Rustic art...  wood carvings, antique knife sharpeners...

And even Golf Disks!
This one's for our friends Mark and Teri....  Mark is an avid golfer (of disks) and I'd never seen anything like this before.  Now, Mark, I know what you use...  just don't know what you do with it.

Okay...  back to our reason for being here...
The leatherman-type tool.  Bill forgot to remove his leatherman from his belt when we left Costa Rica...  oops....  checked baggage was checked....  can't go through security.  He gave it to some guy in the airport rather than toss it in the confiscated goods bin.  
There's Leatherman, Gerber, Sog, Victorinox and Emerson in this display.  

Bill...  giving close examination to the various types.
It takes some clever thinking just to open and close some of these things....  there's locks, slides, buttons and all manner of tricks to use them, but after a few times they loosen up some and a person becomes familiar with their mechanisms.

Bill chose a Gerber this time.  After years of various Leatherman tools, he was ready to try a different brand.  

 We paid for it...  and headed home.

Hopefully Bill will like his new purchase and I'm betting that next time we're packing for a flight we'll remember those pesky airline rules and regulations.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's Talk Turkey....

In yesterday's post I wrote that the turkey hen that's been coming around had an admirer, but I wasn't able to get any photos of the happy couple...

This morning, maybe around 8am, Ms. Turkey came by for breakfast...  with Mr. Tom following close behind.

Mr. Tom is in full "suitor" form....  wings dropped, tail spread high...  puffed up and strutting like a turkey in love.

Wild Turkey   .....   Meleagris gallopavo
In the USA there are a couple of sub-species of turkeys and here in Texas, we have the Rio Grande or merriami.  You've all seen lots of turkey photos...  especially around Thanksgiving...  but it is in the spring that turkey looks his best.  His feathers are shiny and intact...  his wattles (skin flaps under his chin) are bright red...  his naked blueish head stands out.  He has a breast tuft....  a tassel of long feathers hanging from his chest.  All decked out to impress the ladies!

This male might be fairly young as he doesn't seem to have a harem...  so far we've seen him pursue only the one hen.

He strutted....  and postured....  and strutted some more....

The early morning sun picked up golden highlights in his feathers......  glossy and iridescent.

This morning the pair hung out under the deer feeder and just beyond our motorhome for about 20 minutes.  They've been around now for several days and seem to be developing a pattern to their feedings.  We're hoping the female will set a nest nearby.  

They got their fill and the hen wandered off...  back into the brush.  The tom strutted right along behind her...
The End

That's All For Today!