I understood the assignment.

Whew, what a busy week! Julie is moving out of her apartment and moving on to the next step of her career and life. This girl can make things happen in a hurry. I was only there to help. She ordered a Pod. We loaded it over 2 days. They took it away. We cleaned the apartment and took things to Goodwill and the food pantry. Celebrated a birthday in between. Some wine might have been enjoyed. Buon viaggio, Julie! We miss you already.

Dusty.

The seasonal Saharan dust clouds have arrived in Central Texas. It’s very hazy during the day, with colorful sunsets in the evening. Read more here.

So, not only is it hotter than Hell here, the air is also unsafe to breathe. Bring it on.

Continuing education.

Monte and I braved the 100 degree temps the other day to mow, mulch, and bag the tons of live oak leaves that fell in our yard back in March and April so we could dump them on the compost pile. It’s hard work, but we got it done. I continue to practice my trailer backing-up skills. As you can see there is a 1″ wide yard art wind twirly thing in the foreground. The only thing, actually, that was in the vicinity of the trailer, which I managed to somehow back into and squarely hit the light on the trailer. Now I will have to learn how to replace a trailer light fixture.

Many birds, and one bummer.

This week I headed to the Gulf Coast of Texas in search of birds. Doray met me at High Island a day before a cold front was expected, which is a good thing if your goal is to see some colorful birds during Spring migration. On an ordinary day, the migrants just keep flying north once they cross the Gulf of Mexico – they’re on a mission. In the face of strong northerly winds and inclement weather, they will stop for a bit on the first land they come across to rest, which, for many migrants, are the woods on High Island.

Over the course of 3 days, I logged nearly 100 unique species of birds; a real treat for this birder. Doray and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On Wednesday, Doray was heading home, and I was staying an extra day. We decided to stop in together at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to see what we could see, and then go our separate ways. As I got into my car to head back to High Island, I was greeted by a flat tire. In the middle of pretty much nowhere.

The red star is where I ended up with a flat.

Changing a tire is not daunting. My dad showed me how to change a flat when I bought my first used vehicle way back when, and I’ve changed many a tire since then. However, this flat was a teensy bit more challenging due to a jammed lug nut, which didn’t want to come off. Eventually, the lug nut and bolt broke off. Which was not great. BUT if it hadn’t broken off, I would not have been able to change the tire at all. Silver linings! 🙂 So, I changed the tire. Doray stayed with me till I figured out my next move, which was to drive back to my hotel on the emergency spare and then get the tire fixed. Driving on the emergency spare is slow going. Driving with 4 of 5 lug nuts was a little concerning. But, in the end, everything worked out great. The repaired tire and one missing lug nut were enough to get me back home safely the next day, and the dealer is fixing the broken bits as I type this.

My 3rd day of birding was cut short, but it was a great trip, seeing many, many colorful warblers and other migrating birds. I didn’t get many bird photos to share here, but they are forever in my mind’s eye.

Thanks, Dad!

New Place.

I ventured down south this week to check out The Austin Winery’s tasting room. It is on St. Elmo off South Congress. It’s surrounded by lots of other spots to visit, a food truck, outdoor patio, and a big, open warehouse space inside. Pick a tasting trio of wines, a glass, or a bottle, and nice nibblies.

It’s a nice spot to enjoy happy hour. Check ‘em out!

CBC 2021.

This year was my fifth year participating in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Doray and I joined a bunch of other birders to count birdies in the Westcave area. Over 8 hours we logged 7+ miles and ~40 species over 3 different properties. I haven’t birded much this year. Other things have crammed their way in to fill my free hours. But I do enjoy walking around with my eyes on the treetops.

The temperatures started out in the mid-60s this year, instead of the 30s, for a change. No rain. Just a perfect day to tramp around the hill country trying to tell one Sparrow species from another.

Nice. Very nice.

Reflections on the Pedernales River near Westcave Preserve.

From the hack to the house with the rock.

Last night Monte and I went curling. Yes, that’s right. After spending many hours apres-ski on the couch in our condo on countless ski trips watching curling in the Winter Olympics, we tried the real thing. And we had a blast, eh!?

CurlAustin is a club that has its own ice (called the “Pond”), competitive curling leagues that anyone can join, and it also has for-fee 2 hour group lessons. They had us curling, safely, in no time. They are located right next door to Austin Beerworks, which is convenient for grabbing a frosty post-bonspiel beverage.

We joined six other newbies, divided up into two teams, and finished several ends. It was loads of fun. I highly recommend giving it a try.

It’s good to be yellow. We won this end with 4 counters (two of those were mine!)

Goals.

I’m not a bucket list person. But I am motivated by a challenge. And I love the outdoors. I’ve only recently sort of slid into this “see as many National Parks as I can” thing. But now it’s a thing I’d like to do. Before this week, I visited 10 of the current 63 U.S. National Parks in the National Park Service. As of today, my total is up to 14. 49 to go. And, they add new parks every year or two, so I need to step up my game.

Lori has a National Park Geek sticker on her car’s roof-top carrier. So, of course, I wanted one. I got the pin 🙂

I now am starting work on an itinerary, and on Monte to join me, for a long road trip to see several of the National Parks out west. Stay tuned.

Any reason to celebrate.

Today is National Champagne Day! At least that what some of the Google search results tell me. But it could also be on December 31st, or October 22, or some other day in May. No matter. As long as there is an excuse to make a toast with bubbly, I’m in.

Today I am toasting to a big step forward in the remodel project of our hall bath. I started tearing out the 1980s-era terracotta floor tile in November of 2019. We drug out the ginormous cultured marble countertops and wall-sized mirror. New countertops, sinks, faucets and wall paint went up in early 2020. Then COVID happened, which slowed things down quite a bit. Monte put new face frames on the cabinets and painted them, and they look fantastic. But the bare slab floor hung with us for over a year.

As of today, I’m loving the new floor tile and backsplash. Next up: new baseboards.

Celebrate the little things. And keep moving on.

It’s alive!

After the prolonged deep freeze we experienced in February, our giant sago palm appeared to be dead. Until about a month ago, I saw no signs of life. I’m very happy to report that now it is teeming with new growth. Yay, Nature!

Half and half.

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Today is July 1st, and you can either consider that the year is half over, or there is an entire half a year left. I will take the latter view. Time does fly by, but I’m trying to enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

We’ve been busy. Working on house projects, boat projects, yard work, getting out and enjoying the lake, and, thankfully, finally spending time with friends face to face again.

The dishwasher conked out, and we installed the new one ourselves, as the first available installation appointment was weeks out. No thank you. AND, it works!

We’re enjoying the boat. The lake and our favorite coves are busy and packed with boats, but we’ve figured out that if we head out to anchor right before sunset, the majority of people have headed home. So, we have plenty of room to anchor and enjoy a peaceful sunset.

Monte’s below watching golf as I motor us over to Arky North.

I got together with friends to celebrate Laura’s birthday in Lori’s new home. Getting this up close and personal with people outside my bubble a year ago was unthinkable. I’m glad we are where we are now. We played some fun new games that Tina introduced us to. This is an action shot from “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza,” a fun, silly, fast-paced game. I recommend it if you’re looking for a fun game to play with a bunch of your vaccinated friends. 🙂

The cycle of life.

We welcomed a new Weber grill into the fold today. We have 2 or 3 out back at a time, but when we burn through a grate or the body of a kettle, it’s time for a new one and recycle the old one.

So shiny!

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