Just peachy.

Monte and I took a drive out the Highway 290 wine trail on this windy day in May.  Our mission was to pick up our wine club quarterly selection at Becker Vineyards.

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Future wine on the vine!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We made a few stops.  In Johnson City, we took a pass through some of the antique stores, and found vintage cowboy/cowgirl boots, of course.  Take your pick…IMG_7916 (1)

It’s peach season!  We stopped at an orchard in Fredericksburg, to bring a few home.IMG_7924 (1)

 

Sometimes the stars align, sometimes they don’t.

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A week ago, I flew to the Bahamas to crew on Trident with Lori and Mike to bring her back to the United States.  Our destination was Charleston, and it would take about a week to make our way from Marsh Harbour, allowing a bit of time to wait on a weather window.

We pulled away from the slip less than an hour after I arrived, right on schedule.  But as soon as we did, there was a problem.  We couldn’t make more than two knots in forward, regardless of RPM.  I guess the problem had been intermittent, but deteriorating, and it was not a good situation to make a gulf stream crossing.

So, we dropped anchor in Marsh Harbour and started to do problem determination, and then line up a mechanic.   Things work on island time in the islands – go figure.  And so responses by phone and email/texting could take a day or two.  After consults with several mechanics, a couple of whom visited the boat at anchor, and a few calls to boatyards and part suppliers, a week had flown by.  But, finally, on Monday everything came together to make a plan.  A Yanmar-certified boatyard would haul the boat out, order and install the needed parts, and do some other minor maintenance.  The crossing will have to wait.

Things didn’t turn out as originally planned, but we made the most of it.  In between Lori & Mike coordinating with mechanics, we made visits via water taxi to Hopetown on Elbow Cay, Man-o-War Cay, and a visit with old friends, Tony & Michelle, on Green Turtle Cay.

The meals are always excellent on Trident, and on our last night, we had surf, turf, and yet more turf, as we tried to eat the best of what food was left in the freezer, which had to be emptied and disposed of in preparation of hauling the boat out.

So, I flew back to Austin last night from Marsh Harbour, instead of Charleston, and am happy to be home.

I enjoyed spying some of the local bird species, logging a bunch of lifers!  I enjoyed a full moon, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, some snorkeling, and a dose of sea air.

During our week at anchor in Marsh Harbour, the boats near us were constantly changing, as they would come for a day or so and then depart.   One day we came up to the cockpit, looked around, and saw that we were anchored between S/V Northern Star and S/V Southern Cross  🙂  so I guess S/V Trident was right where she was supposed to be at that moment in time.

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All moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who made us! I enjoy seeing all the photos posted by those marking the day, whether they are daughter, son, husband, mom, father, or friend.

I miss my own mom immensely. I feel the pain of friends who were denied the blessing of becoming a mom. I see the joy and pain of my friends and family mothers who live the ups and downs of their dear ones. This week I went to lunch with a friend who recently lost her 20-something son. She is strong and full of grace, but I cannot begin to imagine how terribly difficult this is for her.

So today, let us remember all moms — those who are here, passed, mourning, struggling, wishing, or praying — Amen.

Fear of abandonment.

We signed up to crew for Kurt & Kevin in the 2019 Turnback Canyon Regatta this weekend on Lake Travis.  It is an annual 2-day up-the-river-and-back-the-next-day race, approximately 25 miles each day.  The evening in between is a fun affair with lots of boats at anchor, and a festival ashore.

Unfortunately, this week’s rains have flooded the Day 1 overnight venue, so the Austin Yacht Club changed the format to be two round-trip races starting and ending at the yacht club, one race on Saturday and one on Sunday.

This morning we showed up and got off the start line with rain threatening in the distance.   The race committee eventually abandoned the race due to lightning and pounding rain.  Temperatures were in the high 50’s and low 60’s, so we were cold and wet when we pulled back up to the dock.   But we were doing so well!

A shot from the pre-start boat maneuvers…

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Frequent your happy places.

Commons Ford Park is one of my happy places.   I haven’t been out here in a while, though.  The prairie is breaking out in color and teeming with songbirds.

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A painted bunting singing atop a mesquite shrub:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One scissor-tailed flycatcher posing in the foreground, and another flying away in the background:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A dickcissel pausing his constant singing to give me the once over:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First raft-up.

Camelot and Nirvana rafted up last night after going for a nice long sail.  It was the first raft-up of 2019, and the first one in quite a long time before that.  It’s nice to be at anchor, and we were tucked way up in a creek where the only wakes being thrown at us came from kayaks.  Perfect.

The lake is rising and is above full, due to recent rains.  We’ll see how high it goes in the next week or so.

I kayaked up to the end of the creek that we anchored in.  Lake sailing in the Texas Hill Country doesn’t suck.

A mallard duck came out to greet me.

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Pretty view of a lovely anchorage.IMG_0321

Pretty birds.

Memories of most birds that I identify through binoculars reside only in my mind’s eye.  Though, occasionally, I am able to capture a clear photo.  These are a few of the 100+ species logged on my trip to High Island and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend.

Chestnut-sided warbler:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden-winged warbler:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mom and Dad Great Egret at the nest with their babies:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-billed cuckoo:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eastern kingbird:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neotropic cormorant:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Bikes and birds.

This is the weekend of the MS-150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. I served as sherpa again with Doray and drove Laura and her friend Patty to Houston on Friday night.

This morning we helped her get to the start and then we drove east, instead of west, so we could do some birding on the coast.

We had a great day, logging over 80 species, and turned in at the hotel late and a tad tired. Tomorrow is another day!

Migrants.

Over the weekend I made a trip to the coast.  The Spring migration is underway, and I wanted to see some colorful birds arriving after their Gulf crossing.  I thought the cold front headed for the coast might make for favorable chances of a fallout.  As it turned out, the front passed north of where I was, so weather conditions were not exceptional.  I did end up seeing lots of birds – almost 70 species.  But, I had to work at it.

Scarlet tanager eating a juicy mulberry…

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Painted bunting and common yellowthroat…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-necked stilt, standing daringly close to an alligator…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Que ç’est triste.

The news today of the fire and destruction of Notre Dame in Paris made my heart sink.  What a terrible loss.   Many, many millions of people feel a connection to the 8 centuries old gothic cathedral.   As I post this, Notre Dame is still burning, its roof and spire have fallen.  I can’t imagine much more of a charred shell will remain.  I pray that noone was injured or killed.

I was 16 on my first visit.  I was immediately awed by the beautiful arches, stained glass windows, towers, transept, arches, and side chapels.  I have enjoyed more visits since then, every time I passed through Paris.  These pictures were from my last visit, 4 years ago…

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How does one connect with a place?  It must be the intertwining of a place’s beauty, its history, and cultural significance with one’s own imprinted memories.  I’ve only visited as a tourist; lit a candle, sat in the pews, listened to mass being said, walked all around it, toured the towers.  I cannot imagine what Parisians who have lived with it every day of their lives must be feeling today.

One of my favorite novels, Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, tells the fictional life story of Tom Builder, a man who built cathedrals in England & France in the 12th century, as Romanesque architecture evolved into Gothic.  Notre Dame was a masterpiece.  Its flying butressess allowing the ribs, pillars, arches and roof to be taller, and more open inside, leaving room for its legendary stained glass windows.  I don’t know how or if it will be possible to restore or repair it.   But, it will never be the same.  Something has truly been lost for the ages.

 

Play ball!

We went to the ballpark tonight to watch the Round Rock Express play baseball; they are the Triple-A minor league club for the Houston Astros. It was a good game! We won, too.

The Budweiser Clydesdales were there, too. It was a treat to see them up close.

Shocking.

They say April showers bring May flowers.  But, they also bring colossal bolts of lightning.  We had some potent ones during the storms over the weekend.  Monte is still piling up and fixing the carnage at the chez.  The photo below doesn’t include the internet modem/router box that we had to replace, and two fried GFCI outlets, one fritzy raspberry pi, an LCD monitor power pack, and who knows what else.

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On a positive note, Monte didn’t get killed when he was outside and lightning struck nearby.