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.

Racing in the rain.

This was the weekend of the Governor’s Cup Regatta on Lake Travis – a two-day set of races for all classes of sailboats, including Sunfish, J-boats, centerboards, and PHRF-handicapped multi-hulls and monohulls. We showed up early at Austin Yacht Club on Saturday morning; overcast, foggy and with storms in the forecast. Our class had five Catalina 30s registered. It would have been a fun weekend of racing.

But instead of racing, we sat through lightning-laced back-to-back postponements until all races were eventually abandoned for the day at 1PM.  In the picture above you can just barely see the red & white striped AP flag ()  flying on the far right halyard of the flag pole – indicating that we were operating under a postponement at the time.

The same thing happened on Day 2, yesterday, except the N over A flags (https://i2.wp.com/www.sarasotabayyachting.org/images/N-A.gif),  indicating abandonement of all races for the regatta, were hoisted before 9AM.

It would have been nice to race, but I’ll take the rain!  The picture above is a shot of the low clouds and rain over Arkansas Bend on Saturday.  Even if there had been no rain, there was no wind.

Tiny boats.

We met up with Kurt & Barbara tonight at the lake. We watched the remote control (RC) sailboat fleet races.

We watched the youth Laser fleet practice.

And we cashed in on two-for-one burger night at the marina!

Return to the Brrr.

We crewed for Kurt on Camelot yesterday in one of the Austin Yacht Club’s Spring Series Races. A cold front blew into town the day before so it was cold! Temps started out in the 40s. We had to dig out our ear muffs, gloves, scarves and heavy coats. But, it turned out to be a nice day, in spite of the cold.

And we did well. Camelot took First Place in its class for the Spring Series!

On campus.

I’m always looking for opportunities to visit our local museums. I heard about a new exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center on design and the Arts & Craft movement. So we took a trip to the University of Texas campus to see it today.

It’s a small museum but I enjoyed browsing the show.

We walked around campus a bit and grabbed lunch afterward.

Score!

I’m so excited!  I have several custom searches saved in my profile on craigslist that I check every few days to see if THAT-ONE-THING ever comes up for sale at a crazy good price.   Today something popped up in my gardening & outdoors search that I just couldn’t pass up.  I was all over it within minutes of its posting and swooped in for the sale.  I picked up all of these ceramic pots & pavers for a song (plus a couple big sago palms and succulents as a bonus).  And it ALL fit in the back of my SUV.

I’m one happy girl with dirty fingernails.  🙂

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Spring guests at the chez.

Spring is here!  I have been busy filling up a couple dozen lawn waste bags to put on the curb for pickup the last few weeks.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to spy on several pairs of birds who have picked our birdhouses to build nests in and raise a mess of babies.

This is a ceramic birdhouse that I bought when we visited Louisville Stoneware a couple years ago.  I hung it up last year with no takers, but a cute Carolina Wren couple have moved in this Spring.

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I built and installed two bluebird houses last year, again, with no takers.  It’s a bit of wishful thinking that I might attract a bluebird since they really prefer a more rural setting.   But a girl can hope!  This year they won’t be empty, though!  A Bewick’s Wren couple is building a nest in this one…

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And a Black-Crested Titmouse couple is in the other one…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have seen a few other birds enter some of the other houses/holes around the yard.  But I’ll have to stake them out to see if anyone moves in.

I’m just thrilled to know where several nests are, and will anxiously watch for signs of babies hatching and fledging.

Spring break.

We have a tradition with Tim & Fiona…taking their family fishing on the lake during spring break. They have three great kids, who are a pleasure to be around. We had a wonderful day today. The weather was perfect and the fish were biting. A good time was had by all.