Daily Work

January 18 – Searching and Sorting

Today I didn’t take any new pictures. I knew that the timing would be difficult with my wife’s follow-up eye appointment today, so I decided to make today a day of searching and sorting through pictures. Only, it wasn’t bird pictures, it was pictures of my mom to get ready for the memorial service we’ll be having soon. I still have a lot of pics to sort through. I have three external hard drives to find. I’m grateful for them, though, because having had cameras and computers stolen in robberies in the past, I have lots of pictures to choose from.

Since I lived so far away from my mom, I don’t have as many as I’d like. Most have been from the last few times I’ve gone up when she’s been bedridden. I debated posting some of them here, but decided not to. Well, I may post a couple that I’ve made public elsewhere. These were pics taken at my mom’s 90th birthday party this last June.

 

My mom has been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. At her party, the Cubs game was playing in the background. The Cubs jersey I’m wearing was a gift from my children. We gave my mom her Cubs jersey customized with her name (James) and her age (90). I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the Cubs won the World Series before she died. She got to enjoy that year as she celebrated the season and then the ultimate victory in the series. We had lots of fun discussing the games on the phone during and after the series. I should note that Cubs regalia was the dress code of the day…at the least people were asked to wear blue.

 

 

This next picture is of everyone in the family who showed up. We had a LOT of these pictures, because we kept messing up. We were enjoying each other’s company too much. Anyway, my mom’s caretaker patiently took as many pictures as needed. She had a couple of great caretakers these last three years and our family is grateful for them. They started watching over mom after the second time the family was called in because she “wasn’t going to make it.” That’s right, we had been told twice before that she wasn’t expected to live. They just didn’t tell her so she decided to keep on living. While her recent death is a cause to grieve, I knew that every minute we had with her was bonus time. She was the kind of person who exuded warmth and kindness, and while I know this isn’t theologically correct, I can imagine everybody in heaven right now sitting down and eating the egg salad sandwiches that she was known for. Going through these pictures has brought great joy as I remembered the times they represent and the strength and love she showed in all areas of life. I am stronger, my family is stronger because of her love and her example.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 11 – This Was No Place Like Home

Mueller Lake Park in Austin is a beautiful park in a high end area of town. Anywhere you go, you have to pay to park. Well, in the park, the parking is free, if you can find a space. I did and took a walk around the lake. While talking with Austinites, I was told that this park was built on the site of their old air port. The lake is full of ducks, some domesticated, some wild, and some in-between. There were a number of different types of birds in the water and in the surrounding areas. I was met first by some coots swimming with the ducks. I believe the ducks are ring-necked ducks. (Google images said “mallard” but Bing Images led me to Ring-necked duck.) This is the first time I’ve identified ring-necked ducks. It’s always a joy to get a new bird! Most of the pictures that I have of them though, was when they were swimming away. This is one of the ring-necked ducks without the coots.

There were a number of domesticated ducks and Muscovy ducks as well. I’ve seen them locally, and, to be honest, they aren’t my favorite birds to photograph.

 

 

I saw some cormorants in different parts of the lake and loved watching them dry off their wings. Apparently, their wings aren’t totally waterproof, according to William Mays, so they have to dry off their wings. In the past I’ve seen ten or twenty of them at a time standing on the bank of a lake drying their wings this way.

 

 

 

 

Grackles abound in Austin as well. Who would have guessed. As I talked with someone walking the trails, because I blocked his path, he told me that it was perfectly understandable and that he loved watching grackles, too. I’m not a big fan of grackles, but ya gotta love the eyes.

 

 

I saw my first few yellow-rumped warblers of the year at the lake. They were hiding in a tree, flitting around quickly when they left, so I didn’t get very good shots, but they were there. You can see the flash of yellow in the pic. They have a similar flash on their rumps – hence the name. One of their nicknames is “Butter Butt.”

 

 

 

 

What body of water would be complete without an egret – a Great Egret in this case. There is such an air of royalty about them. Every move is deliberate as if planned. This one worked hard to shun my picture taking, but I got a few good shots in.

 

 

 

 

 

While there were a few mottled ducks and female mallards, the last duck I’m going to look at is a Crested Mallard. According the the article I just linked, this duck is the product of selective breeding to give this mallard the crest or tuft on its head. It’s apparently a tame bird gone wild. I thought it looked interesting, and so I shared it.

Today was a tiring day – walking around the park, then sitting and waiting on my wife who does contract work for the state. Then, we had a long drive home in rainy conditions. Still, it was a good one. Not only was I able to get some good pictures, I got to spend a lot of time with my wife.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 5 – On The Road to Hallettsville

What a day today! I volunteer at a food pantry and finished my work there. Then, I picked up Lucy and we drove to Hallettsville so that she could get measured for a dress for our daughter’s upcoming wedding. We have a friend who makes dresses and costumes, and Lucy, since her double mastectomy, doesn’t have normal female contours which makes it difficult for her to buy an off the rack dress and feel good about it. So, we took a day trip to Hallettsville to work with Lindsay Ferguson and see Nick, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Hallettsville and our former youth pastor. It was good to catch up with them. As we arrived, there was a turkey vulture high in the sky. I took a quick shot. The focus isn’t very good, but it was the first bird we saw there.

 

Turkey vultures are majestic birds in flight and you can see them soaring in the skies over South Texas. If you see them from afar, they look gorgeous as they ride the thermals. They have a cut little red spot in the front. Then when you see them up close, you realize that the red spot is his head and they are the ugliest birds in the world. They often cooperate with Cara Cara as they scavenge the road kill, and Cara Cara (we saw a couple while driving) are the most beautiful birds around.  Then we visited with the Fergusons. When we left, they gave us directions to the park so that we could search for birds.

 

 

When we arrived at the park we were immediately struck by the lack of birds. There were no sounds. There was no movement. After a few minutes of looking around I heard a bird singing in the distance and looked in that direction. What I saw instead was this fuzzy-tailed seed stealer. (So named when we were feeding birds in our backyard and his relatives would barge into the chow line and chase the invited guests away and eat their food.) They are cute, though, so I take their picture whenever I can.

 

Often, when looking for birds, knots in the wood, seed pods, and items like this pic fool us into thinking they’re birds. Sadly, plastic bags arranged the right way on branches do the same thing. It is a nice example of a wasp’s nest. Seriously, in the park, while we heard distant singing, the only indication of birds in the park that I saw was one nest in the trees. I was disappointed, but we left by a road that Lucy thought she saw on the map that ran by the river, so we decided to try that route. It’s so nice to have a wife that puts up with my follies!

 

 

 

 

There weren’t many birds to see on this route and then I spied this cardinal. I thought I had seen one earlier in the year at the Oso Bay wetlands, but he snuck into the trees and I didn’t get a picture. Lucy stopped the car and I rolled down my window to take the shot. My first attempt happened when I snapped just as the cardinal jumped up. I have a few of the tail feathers in the shot. Then, we moved a bit and I got this shot. I love cardinals, unless they’re playing baseball, and I was thrilled to get the shot.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, we took the paved road instead of the dirt road because that seemed like the logical choice. We meandered down the road until we saw this little beauty. It’s an American Kestrel. The angle was bad in the car. The first picture was right into the sun and was a complete washout. We moved the car a little, but it was still an awkward angle and it was a bit blurry. But, it was an American Kestrel!  We made one more stop by the Victoria County Courthouse and on our way back to the car after seeing nothing. Then we saw what I think were sparrows, but didn’t get a shot. The featured image for this post is the Courthouse. While we didn’t have a good day birding, it was great to see the Fergusons and spend time with my wife.

Daily Work

April 30 – It Was Monday, All Right

Mondays – when everything takes twice as long and you work three times as hard to get work done that you are 50% less satisfied with. Got my devotional and challenge writing done earlier than normal, but it was like pulling teeth today. Then had to run errands and on my last one, realized that I had just enough time to finish, get home and change, and then get to chess clubs. Did those and came home to an empty house. That problem I mentioned that my wife had at work, solved by making her work harder. But, there are other benefits, so she’s satisfied with the arrangements. I began editing the book I should have done two months ago but had glitches. I should get caught up and work on July August soon as well as my Time Travel story this month. June is gonna be crazy!

Today’s Devotional (575 Words) – April 30 – Giving: Attitude Beats Amount

Daily Work

April 26 – Back in Time

Today almost was a repeat of yesterday. Thee were some tense times at the house as my wife dealt with some issues. Lately, it seems like every time something seems to happen to give her hope, the rug is pulled out from underneath her – at work and in her doctoral project. Today it was a work issue. (No, don’t ask, I ain’t saying anything more about that.) I had to leave for tutoring today before I finished my devotional. I wasn’t happy with the direction it was taking anyway. I got an idea on my way to tutoring, and I liked it better than what I had been doing. Overall, let me just refer you to the last sentence. I didn’t finish that til after 8:00 PM. When I did my challenge writing, I went back to my Time Travel short story, so I’m back in Time, and got almost 575 words done. I’m making some major changes, but I think it’s going well.

I didn’t even look at the critique of my descriptive writing course. And tomorrow’s gonna be a long day also.

Today’s devotional (496 words) – April 26 – All You Really Need Is (A Changed) Heart