Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Migration


Pearl constantly amazes me with her photographic eye and ability to capture what she sees.

Last week we had what appeared to be an influx of hummingbirds. Migration has begun.
While they don't travel in flocks, like geese for example, it would seem that they all leave one place and travel south at the same time.
We have three feeders out and they were all swarming with hummingbirds.
Pearl said it looked like bees instead of birds, for all the activity. We once counted 10 at this one feeder alone.
They stayed around for the weekend, and by Monday we were back to the half dozen that normally fight over the feeders.

The "exceptional" drought (I take exception to the use of that word, there's nothing exceptional about it) that we've been having has put the migratory hummingbirds and butterflies at risk.
As they travel, they stop at flowers all along the way to feed. Their normal path south (through Texas) leaves them with little to no flowering plants to stop at. Bird folk have gotten the word out through the media that feeders are going to be the difference between a successful migration and the death of many birds and butterflies.
Some might say that it's the way of nature and to leave it alone. I'm not up to letting birds die from lack of food and water.
Call me a softie.
I can live with that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Swept Away

photographer Jean Guichard

Yes, the picture is real.
Believe it or not, the man in the lighthouse was not killed.
He was awaiting rescue via helicopter.
That was the only reason he opened the door.

The funny thing about my blog is that I started it so I could be transparent to my family.
Ironically, I am feeling as though I might be swept away by emotion that involves a family member.
The blog can no longer be the outlet.
That's perfectly okay.
So, in order to mark this place in time, I must be vague.
Opaque.
I must mark it though.

This week, I've been feeling very much like the man in the lighthouse.
I can't really share why, only to say that it involves a family member.
Family is the single most important thing in my life.
My children are my greatest gift.
No one has died.
No one is ill.
In fact, many many folks reading this would think this thing that I'm "not" telling you about is minor in the greater scheme of life.
To me it is not. To my husband, it is not.

So what is this thing that has me so awash in sadness?
Growing pains.
Being a parent is absolutely the hardest job on the planet.
If you want to be a good parent anyway.
I do.

I have to cling to the lighthouse and not be swept away by emotion.
I must lean on God and my dear, sweet husband for support.
Luckily, both he and God are excellent examples of how to be a parent.
Love without judgement.
Love unconditionally.
Hurt, but move forward with open arms anyway.
Listen.
Hear.
Respond in love.

I will be rescued eventually.
Right now, I just need to close the lighthouse door and work on it.
Mull it over.
Pray.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Birthday My Girl!

Yesterday was Pearl's 17th birthday.
How can that be?
Where did the time go?

She is my heart, my love, my joy.
I am so very proud of the young woman she has become.
So very proud of the decisions she has made for herself in this life.
So very proud of her heart and her soul.
Her love astounds me, Lifts me up.

Happy Birthday, my love.
I am so glad to have you in my life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So, What Do You Do for A Living?



The primary reason for this blog's existence is so I could become wildly famous and rich like Pioneer Woman.
Wait, no it's not. :)

The primary reason was so my kids could understand some of the inner workings, secrets and loves of their mom. What makes me tick? What makes me smile? You get the jist.

In talking with someone recently, I was reminded that I had many jobs before I became a mom.
Most were paid jobs, some were volunteer.
I can say, there was only one that I didn't like. I wanted to like it, but my boss was a head case.

I'll start at the beginning and add commentary if it's necessary.

*Answered phones at a Datsun dealership on Saturdays. I was 13. My dad was a salesman there.

*Waitress at a Shoneys

*Retail work at a Jean's West in the Blue Ridge Mall. Jean's West went out of business and the mall is gone.

*Daycare teacher. Worked every age from infants up to the kiddos that just missed the cutoff to go to kindergarten. Hardest job I ever had besides being a mom. Loved it.

*Usher for the Kansas City Royals. Knew my schedule for a whole year. Fabulous summer job. Did it for 5 summers. I think I got this job because I knew George Brett. Funny thing: Didn't like baseball one bit. Still don't.

*Waitress at Bennigan's. Loved this job like crazy. Love talking to strangers.

*Insurance filer/office assistant at a Dialysis unit. First "real job" I ever had (had benefits). I liked the work, but one of my co-workers hated me because I lost a bunch of weight when I got my heart broken. She made it her job to make me as miserable at work as I was at home.

*Back to the Daycare job. Quit when Lee and I got married and moved to Houston.

*Greenhouse/Nursery worker. Watered plants. Hot, boring, lonely work for a girl who just moved to town.

*Dental Assistant for an Endodontist (root canal). On the job training. If something seems too good to be true, it is. In his pre-dental years he claimed to have worked for CIA during the Vietnam War. Knew all about brain-washing. Spent his days messing with the heads of his dental staff when he wasn't messing with someone's teeth. No wonder he offered on the job training. He blew through staff like a tornado through open prairie.

*Back to Daycare. Loved it. Quit because my employer's husband spent far too much time hitting on me. Yuck!

*Last job before kids was a volunteer one: I spent the summer volunteering at a YMCA camp as a horse wrangler.

I am fortunate enough to have been able to stay home with my kids all these years. Everything after that was volunteer work.

*Room mom, helping out at their schools.
*Rehabber for Wildlife Rescue--so much fun having baby squirrels in the house!
*Sunday School teacher
*Church camp counselor
*Coordinator of our program at church to feed the homeless--still do this.
*Picker/packer of veggies at a community sustained agriculture farm.

It's possible I missed a couple things. I don't think so.
Now you can see how I know a little bit about a lot of things.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Natural Disasters


Folks that follow natural disasters most often think of tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
In the last 5 years, we've also been made painfully aware of tsunamis as well.
Wildfires don't get much press, because the really big ones are often in open ranges with miles and miles of land where few people live.
They all have one thing in common--they kill, devastate and destroy.

Last weekend, we had the "perfect storm" set up over Central Texas to make wildfires a very real possibility. We had very dry, cool air coming in from the North and high winds off the back side of tropical storm Lee come in from the East. Winds gusted over 40 mph.
That, coupled with our drought conditions (no real rain since October) and extreme heat (80 days over 100*), made for perfect fire conditions.

Three blew up within hours of one another.
One in my county.
Friends were in areas that were evacuated. So were their horses and goats and cattle.
That fire claimed 7,000 so far, is 40% contained, and destroyed 67 homes.
My friends are all back in place, as the winds have changed direction a bit.

Another fire, 15 miles NE of me, was in a neighborhood of 4,000 homes. The high winds caused power lines to touch and spark a fire in a canyon nearby. It's 40% contained, burned 125 acres, and destroyed 25 homes. Again, the wind direction allowed homeowners back in.

The fire that is in the news is the Bastrop fire. It's about 30 miles due East of me.
There's no word yet on it's cause, but it is catastrophic. There is no talk of containment, even after 3 days of fighting it. It's 30,000 acres at this point and 700 homes have been destroyed. The problem there is, the fuel source---dense pine trees. This fire continues to move rapidly toward the south. It continues to jump fire breaks and main roads. Two are confirmed dead. They refused to leave when evacuation notices were put in place.

Below, are just a handful of pictures (none by me). I'm sure there are hundreds online by now if you're interested.
If you're a praying person, pray for rain. That's the only thing that's going to stop the Bastrop fire. Unfortunately, there's none in the forecast.




Bastrop fire screen capture from video
photo credit: hippychickenfarmer

Fire Bastrop September 4, 2011
photo credit: Wendy Moore


photo credit: Deanna Roy


photo credit: Jay Janner/Austin Statesman


photo credit: dezelfeeder


photo credit: Jay Janner




Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby

Okay, so he's not a baby.
But, he is my baby. My youngest.
My youngest is now 13!

He chose peach pie for his "cake". :)
We had a family dinner with a couple beloved friends added in for fun.
We ate at the best pizza place in town--Austin Pizza Garden.
Of course, that's our opinion, but we're always right about these things.

He had 4 buddies (Jonathan, Cole, Jackson, and Diego) over for a sleepover to celebrate.
Burgers and dogs and chips and cupcakes and Japanese sodas were on the menu.
Swimming, watching YouTube videos and playing with their phones were the main activities of the evening.
I think they slept a little bit.
They beg to differ.
Cinnamon rolls and bacon for breakfast.

Tomorrow it's back to school and such, but it was a lovely weekend.
We are so blessed to have this boy in our lives.
A boy that is becoming big like his brother and his sister.

Happy birthday my love! I love you madly!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Question of Genetics


Let me preface this post with a disclaimer. I am not a biologist. I just play one on TV.
Not really, but you understand.

This buck is the 'alpha' in the wild deer herd that frequents my place. He outweighs the other bucks by what looks to be about 30-50 lbs. He looks like he's on steroids compared to the next buck in line.

I have several friends that are hunters that would love to put him in their freezer because of that extra weight.
BUT--there tends to be a code among deer hunters that says you always leave the largest buck for future breeding. That ensures generations of healthy, good looking deer.

In this case, I'm beginning to wonder.
If he is the father of all the fawns that have been born in the last several years, something is not quite right in what he is passing along.
I have observed several things in his fawns for the last 3 years at least.

1. They often don't live a month.
2. If they do live, they don't grow properly.
3. The bucks that he throws are what is called 'spike' bucks (single antlers with no branches).

I realize that he only provides 50% of the genetics for these fawns, but could all the does in the herd have something wrong with their 50%? Unlikely.
The only surviving fawn this year is tiny. I wonder if she'll make it through the winter.
The fawn in my header is from last summer. He did not make it despite his healthy appearance.

Weather could be said to be a factor this year. Extreme heat and drought have caused food sources for the deer to be incredibly hard to find.
The same cannot be said of last spring and summer (2010) though. We only had a couple days above 100* and we had plentiful rains. His fawns did not survive that summer either. Again, only a couple did and they are tiny this year. They look like they didn't grow at all over the winter.

The twist in this story: We have far, far too many deer for the acreage that is available for them. The fact that the fawns are dying off or not thriving is actually keeping the herd smaller.

On one hand, the big buck's genetics could be keeping the population in check.

On the other hand, many of the deer are suffering because of it.
The does carry a fawn to term---taxing her body during the winter months, only to have the fawn die.
The fawns die or are abandoned, I don't know which.

The question then becomes: Do we cull this buck to bring a healthier genetic base to the deer or leave him be so the general population stays where it is?