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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It's always something

Now my cold is almost better after nearly ten days and I have conjunctivitis.

Getting old really sucks!

On a brighter side, or not, depending on how you look at it, the days will start getting longer in less than a month and in 3 months Lucifers will return. That seems a long time away right now.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pecan time

For the last several weeks we've been processing pecans. Hugh shells them and I clean them.

We have about 7 gallons done so far, but will end up with four times that much, at least, throughout the winter. Needs to be a 2 year supply in case the trees don't make fruit next year. I was really shocked when I saw one pound bags of unshelled pecans at the grocery store for $9.39. Seems outrageous. And we've been letting friends gather up pecans at our place for free.


I haven't counted the trees but I guess there's at least 20 of them and they're big trees. I think Hugh planted them about 40 years or more ago. I'll try to remember to take a photo of some of them soon.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey day

Turkey day went as good as it could under the circumstances. Got to CMO early.

After a big midday meal with a bunch of family my Austin son and his family decided to work on the trail for awhile. I got them to pull weeds so the trail won't disappear in vegetation. But that project didn't last long, which is just as well because I'm still not well. Not getting worse though, so just a matter of time.

Beside my son is his new wife. Behind them are his 3 daughters.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Went and got sick

I was being so careful. Didn't miss sleep, didn't get chilled, didn't overwork, didn't stress about Thanksgiving. All was great, yet a couple of days ago I got a sore throat that has turned into a cold and seems on the brink of bronchitis. So disgusting for that to happen at Thanksgiving time. I should be immune to all this stuff by now. Just wanted you to know why I haven't blogged for a few days. Not there there's anything to blog about. To be continued.....

The main reason I didn't plan a trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley was for fear of ending up sick. And here I got sick anyway.

I just heard they trapped the bear that was plaguing the area. Not sure who did it.

Not sure if the above link will let you see the video.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A bit wintry

Early morning sun

Not much going on at the oasis this time of  year. Actually, nothing going on. I finished watering, pruned a little, then headed back to town into a cold front moving in. Culture shock. Went from calm mid 70s to cool and windy in town. Not that unusual, though.

The oasis cholla patch is looking good. I don't see why a Lucifer Hummingbird won't choose to nest in it next spring. If one doesn't it's just because they're programmed to nest up on the mountain, but it could happen, I think.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Perfect fall day weather-wise

This morning I was chomping at the bit to get to the oasis since it was a lovely day and tomorrow is supposed to be quite a bit colder. Got up to 86° today and not a bit of a breeze.

Mostly I just puttered around. Seemed like hard puttering though. First I got a ladder and went to replace an 8 foot fluorescent tube in the kitchen ceiling. Got the old one out and discovered the new one, which I babied all the way from Alpine for fear it would break going over the bumpy road, didn't have the same connectors. So I had to put the old one back in to make the other side of the light fixture work. A wasted hour there, plus I have to try to see if they have the right type and exchange it. I dread hauling it back to town and then hauling another one down. That means I have to tie my ice chest to a corner of the pickup bed so it won't slide into the bulb. Have to pad the bulb, drive slow, can't bring the mulch down with me that needs to come, etc.

Next I went to paint the kitchen chairs in the guesthouse. Seems when you improve one thing, then it just shows up the contrast to things that need improving.

Finally, I decided to change out one of my watering hoses for a longer one that was given to me. It was better quality and didn't have the repair on the line that kept snagging on trees and stuff that my original hose has. But the connector that hooked to the faucet on the longer hose leaked. I did everything I could. So all that was left to do was to replace the connector. I got the old one off, sawed the ragged edge of the hose to be sure it fit snugly, put on a different connector, clamped it back together, tightened everything really tight, and it still leaked, though not as bad. Another hour wasted. So I just added a short hose that didn't leak to the faucet and made it to where the leak was under a tree. I can live with that. Once I quit watering and turn off the faucet it doesn't leak, just while I'm watering. 

By then it was late in the afternoon and I was tired and hungry. Will finish the watering in the morning. But I did go back down later and service the feeders. I saved the perch pieces the bear ripped off and this evening glued some of them back on. Don't know if they'll stay, but it's worth a try.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A new day brings new energy

Once I got the old joints moving this morning it was easy to finish painting the potty shed.

Then I watered lightly. This time of year things don't need a good soaking, so I get frugal with my water supply. I still had energy left, didn't feel ready to head to town so soon, so I did a bunch of pruning, mostly branches the bear had broken.

Turned out I should probably have saved some of that energy because I got to town tired and had a ton of things I had to do here. But now I'm sort of caught up and should have an easy next few days. And maybe easy for the winter. At some point before spring migration I need to work on the birding trails. Don't think I'll work on the mountain trail anymore. There's a trail up that I can make it fine on, and doing work to it wouldn't really improve its usability, so probably not worth the effort. Might change my mind, though.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Worked til I dropped

I made it until almost 4 PM, then couldn't go anymore. Left Alpine this morning after catching up my work there. Then when I got to CMO I unloaded a kitchen table that had been given to me. I'm excited about it because the guesthouse is 40 years old this year and never had a silverware drawer in the kitchen. So today is the day.

When I unloaded the table I noticed the porcelain top had been painted. Couldn't have that. So I spent hours with a scraper and oven cleaner before I was ready to put it in the space I had made for it.

I love it! It has two pullout breadboards too. The table originally had a stool that pulled out, but I only know that because I looked it up online. Here's one that recently sold on ebay for $1000.  

You see, when I built the guesthouse 40 yrs ago, it was with the idea of it being temporary living quarters while the house was being built. I never expected to live in it for two years, but that's how long it took for the house to get done. Now, instead of it being a storage area as I had intended, it's a guesthouse. I would have done it a lot different had I known it was going to be a guesthouse. It's good that I no longer have to put the silverware tray on the counter, since there is virtually no counter space.

I don't like the large noisy refrigerator in there, or that tiny one. At some point I plan to get rid of them and put a medium-sized or apartment-sized refrigerator in there. But as long as the big one works, I don't bother. 

By the time I got done doing all that I was tired, but pushed on wanting to get the potty shed painted. I just couldn't finish though. Will finish in the morning. As with every project, something unexpected arises and makes it take longer. Like I totally didn't know the table had been painted. Well, I couldn't paint the potty shed with that yucca up against it. A new one had sprouted nearby, and I couldn't think of any reason to keep the bigger one. At first I tried to protect myself from the thorns with a blanket, but still couldn't get the ladder close enough.

So I went up to the house and got a chain and pulled it out with my pickup. But I'm old and slow and tired, so everything is a big task. I'm just grateful I can even do it, fast or slow.

As fast as time flies, it'll soon be spring and I'll be ready!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Good ole scenery

When there are no interesting birds, butterflies, dragonflies, or flowers to photograph there's always the scenery. It never leaves. This morning started out with the oasis being up in the clouds. Lovely!

Unfortunately I had to go to Alpine, but plan to get back real soon. On the way out, going down the big hill I could see the valley was still in the clouds/fog. (Nine Point Mesa in the background to the right center.)

Then at the highway I saw a sign I hadn't seen before. It's at the intersection of Terlingua Ranch Road and Highway 118. Still foggy so no background scenery on the last shot.

Friday, November 10, 2017

I dropped the ball

I should have stayed more on top of that Costa's Hummingbird. Not only did I not get suitable photos of it, but I don't even know for sure when it first arrived. Today I searched all day and didn't see it.😟

It's amazing the difference a quick turn of the head can make. Case in point: These shots of a male Anna's Hummingbird were taken only seconds apart.

And here's an example of color variations within a species. These two Fatal Metalmarks were side by side, yet so different in color.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Back at CMO

The weather has been a bit brisk but I needed to come to the oasis and service feeders, etc. Happy that no bear has been back. But he's not far away. He went to the Lake Ament area, which is 3 miles to the south of the oasis. This posted by TP&W.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has received multiple confirmed reports of a male black bear in the Lake Ament Rd area of Terlingua Ranch. Several of the reports detailed that the bear was eating some form of "attractant" (dog food, corn/protein from a deer feeder, chicken feed, horse feed, etc). And although the bear has NOT displayed any aggressive/predatory behaviors, he has demonstrated that he may not fear humans or human structures as much as he should, which increases the potential for human-bear conflict.
Given the time of year and what we know about bear biology, we are confident that the bear is trying to consume as many calories as possible to fatten up as he prepares to hibernate and thus he is taking advantage of all the "easy" meals (attractants) he has access to around the ranch. Thus, it is imperative that the residents of Terlingua Ranch, particularly the Lake Ament Rd area, secure all attractants as soon as possible for your safety and the well-being of the bear.
We have also received requests to remove the bear from the area, however, this management action is a last resort action after all efforts have been made to secure attractants in the area and hazing actions (noise deterrents, less-lethal rounds, etc) have failed to convince the bear that humans are to be feared and human structures are NOT a place to get an easy meal. Furthermore, relocating a bear is often ineffective, as bears can travel great distances and may make their way back to the capture area in a week or two.
Please contact the TPWD Wildlife Office in Alpine or my cell (below) if you see a bear or to request a biologist to provide recommendations on how to best secure your attractants.
For your own personal safety and the bear's well-being, please secure your attractants as soon as possible.
Russell Martin
Wildlife Diversity Biologist
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Wildlife Division – Trans Pecos District
109 S. Cockrell
Alpine, TX 79830
Office: (432) 837-2051
Cell: (432) 244-9945

On Nov 4th I saw a calypte hummingbird that I thought just might be a Costa's. I finally got a picture of it today and sent it to Kelly for ID. He confirmed that it is a Costa's. It has yet to visit a feeder. It just catches gnats in the mornings. Never could see gorget color on it. Will try to tomorrow.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Trip to Albuquerque

Still no sign of bear at CMO Sunday when I headed to Alpine. Then this morning we left Alpine to go to Hugh's brother's memorial service in Albuquerque, NM. The trip went fine and it helped that I brought a crossword book. Makes traveling time pleasant instead of miserable. I told my niece at the bookstore to pick me out the hardest one. Boy, be careful what you ask for. After no progress in 5 hours on the first of the 50 crosswords, I gave up and started the second. Still on it, but it's doable at least. I couldn't pick out my own book because the bookstore in Alpine isn't open on Sunday, so I had to call Hugh to go pick up what my niece, Julie, chose on Saturday. She did good. I've got a lifetime supply of traveling puzzles now at the rate I'm going.

We arrived to Los Lunas where we had reservations at a Days Inn there. Hugh didn't want to go any farther tonight. We'll navigate the city in the morning before the service and then head back toward Alpine. I'll probably have to help drive back because Hugh doesn't hold up as good in the evening.

At the motel there happened to be a guy traveling across the country on a solar-powered electric bicycle. Rather interesting, I thought.

For more about his journey go to

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bear seems gone

Sun rising in the east at the same time moon setting in the west coming south on Highway 118 this morning.

Got to the oasis and no evidence of bear. I relaxed, hung some feeders, and put out seed. Felt good to have my habitat back. Later, as I was watering trees I noticed lots of ripe acorns in the Live Oak trees. Kinda burst my bubble. The acorns just don't show up until they're ripe. Green acorns blend with green leaves. So I became somewhat trepidatious. Took down 2 low feeders and left 2 low ones up. Will wait and see.

Worked on mending the potty shed's canvas covering. Think I'll buy some fabric paint and give it a protective coat of that when I'm through. Still not up to doing much but my sinus infection seems to be gone, or subdued.

Took a few photos today just to keep in practice. Added a few butterflies and odes to my November list. Weather may have been record heat -- 88°  for this time of year. Here's a lovely fresh Vesta Crescent.

Hugh's brother died a couple of days ago and we're going to New Mexico to his memorial service in a couple of days. So trying to get caught up here at the oasis. There were 2 Lucifer Hummingbirds here yesterday and I saw one of them again today.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Up to my ears in agitators

Not complaining though. At least when I fell off the ladder with a gallon bucket of paint in my hand I managed not to spill the paint (it was half full). And because I was wearing long sleeves my arms didn't get ripped up. And the bush I fell on is good about tearing my arms up when I even walk near it. And no bear sightings this week. Had to come to town so I pushed hard to get my project done. Usually I manage to work 4 hrs a day but today I had to do 8 hrs to finish up.

After doing so much work on the "potty shed" in the last two days I decided to finish all that it needed done to it. The north (back) wall has been all rotted out for quite a few years, so my plan was to tackle that and then silicone the holes the bear tore in the canvas on the east side where I believe he originally entered. First I tore out the rotten wall....




I didn't wash the windows because I don't want birds to hit them. I didn't do the siliconing because I didn't have the kind I wanted to use. I'll do it next time I'm down there.

inside view of north wall.
I'll need a few days to recover here. My fall was unnecessarily hard because I was protecting the paint and not myself. Bruised and sore tonight. Took aspirin and ibuprofen, which is something I rarely do. I don't really know why I fell. I think a bit of vertigo mixed with looking through my bifocal UV glasses left me a little off-balance.