Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cool winter mornings seem to have the best colors, especially if there are some clouds around, and this Christmas morning sure was a pretty one!

It's hard to believe that this is our 5th Christmas in the RV already, but off course that first one was only a month after we started.

Just like last year, some of the 'Snowbird' ladies put together a Christmas Potluck. This year they took care of the decorating as well and as you can see they did a great job!


As usual, at these potlucks, there was food for an army and it was all very, very good!

Merlin has been such a good boy this year; only one 'Tree incident' so far!


He loves to snuggle up close to James in the evening, on one of the big throw-pillows, to watch TV.

And what were they watching? Off course, a Christmas classic (and Holiday tradition):


Since it's hard to get my hands on a traditional (Dutch/German) 'Kerststol' here in the States (in Holland you can buy them everywhere) I decided to bake one myself this year. 
The Internet didn't disappoint in giving me thousands of recipes to choose from. The hardest thing was to pick the best one!

The actual making and baking turned out to be fairly easy also, and it came out looking just like the real thing!  Even better ... it tasted just as great!
Just for fun, I also baked an apple-cranberry pie, another tradition, which was, as always, equally delicious!

Although there's no way it could possibly make up for all the food we ate, we went for several short hikes. 'To walk it off'. Yeah, right ....


Most of the desert vegetation is dormant at the moment and everything looks rather grey and washed out. 
These Yuccas were a nice surprise, they were actually sending up some colorful flower stalks! In December?

And what about those Ocotillos! The cold nights have turned their tiny leaves a fiery red. When the morning (or evening) sun hits them just right, they practically glow!

Amazing how something so nasty and thorny can be quite pretty!


And besides that, they're just the right spot for the desert's 'Little Brown Birds', to perch on.

I think that's a Song Sparrow on the left and the pretty guy on the right is my good friend the Loggerhead Shrike.

I might have talked about the Shrike's nasty habit of impaling its prey on thorns or barbed wire before eating it, because it does not have the talons of the larger birds of prey, which has earned him the nickname 'butcher bird'.
I'd never seen any evidence of that firsthand though, until this week, when we came across this:


I've read that in Spring the male decorates its impaled victim(s) with feathers and bills in order to attract a mate.
Yes, ... very enticing indeed! Yuck!

Another surprising encounter, on one of our early morning hikes, came in the form of this small group of Javelinas! 


I was hoping to see some little ones, since December is the time for them to be born (here in the south), and as it happened, we were in luck:

I thought they would have a whole bunch of them, like pigs, but apparently they have only one or two at the time.
The more proof, I guess, that they're not pigs!

What a cutey!

Well, that will do it for today. 
For some reason I just lost half of the text and had to re-type it 'all' (@#!$%&!) so I'm going to post this real quick! Forgive me for any typos!

Since I started with a sunrise, I'll close with a 'set'!                     

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Barton Warnock Visitor Center for the Big Bend State Park put out their annual Christmas Celebration and since we'd liked last years event, we went again!

We arrived early enough to score a seat but by 6.30 the small auditorium was filled to standing room only!

The Terlingua Community Choir and the Roadrunner High School Band led us into singing a whole bunch of Christmas songs after which the little kids from the Terlingua elementary school performed two songs from the immensely popular Disney movie 'Frozen'.

All the girls were dressed as the movie's character Elsa while singing 'Let it go', and all parents were appropriately proud of their little princesses.

The teens of the high school choir, being teens, were almost to shy or embarrassed to sing and were barely audible .... awkward!

But fortunately the only 3 men in the Community Choir made up for them!

There was a quiet moment during the telling of every bodies favorite
story, 't Was the night before Christmas', by the local Librarian ....

Followed by a whirling show of Mexican dances by three High School seniors!

 And off course Santa made an appearance!



All in all, this is one of those typical small town celebrations; full of unexpected moments, some hilarious, some awkward and some endearing but all brought with such enthusiasm! 
It's just the perfect formula to get you into the 'spirit'!

And afterwards there's hot chocolate, apple cider and loads and loads of cookies!!
I ate waaaayyyy to many!

Other than that it was a quiet week. Time for some 'To-do-list' activities. 
I sewed a few sheer curtains for some of the windows in the RV living area. The curtains are left-overs from when we had our sticks-and- bricks house and have been stored under the bed all this time for this purpose.
I've always thought the windows could use 'something more' so there you have it. The before: 

And after:

Maybe that's hard to see, but I think it's much cozier!

In the meantime, James worked on framing and hanging our newly acquired map of North America.

We're talking about our travels a lot, past and future, and are forever digging out maps to figure out where to go and how.
This will give us a much quicker overview. Besides, it looks kind of fun there, especially after I'll put some markers or flags up at the places we've been.

Oh, The Places We'll Go! 
  - “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”  -  (Dr. Seuss)

And because all that hard work always makes us really hungry, I started some Holiday Baking!

These (insanely) sticky dough balls became:

(Insanely delicious) Chocolate Crackles!

And, just for the heck of it, I threw some cranberries and cinnamon in the oatmeal-chocolate-chunk cookies, and some anise and lemon in the sugar cookies.

Decorating is an art. I'm not a decorator ..... I'm more of an ... eater!

And than there's some of us who just can't be bothered.


And fall asleep in the tiniest spaces!

Alright, I think I've covered it all, once again. I'll leave you with some pretty clouds. 
Aren't skies something else?


Friday, December 12, 2014

Puffed-up Black Phoebe
All is calm, all is bright .....

In style with the season, we're having beautiful, calm winter weather. No wind and temps in the high 60's, low 70's with cool nights. Just perfect!

Great golfing weather too! It's very quiet at the resort at the moment so we're practically the only ones out there!
It's like having your own private course. And such a gorgeous one it is!
I'm usually only playing nine holes and sit the next ones out, just riding along, while James plays a few more. This gives me a great opportunity to watch for wildlife or any other picturesque scenes we come across.


Hole # 9 has been claimed by this Snow Goose. He's here already for a couple of weeks and all by his lonesome, poor thing. 
He hangs out in the pond next to the hole and sometimes we find him sleeping smack dab in the middle of the fairway!
This particular snow goose is what they call a 'blue-morph adult', quite different in color from the true-white snow geese that visited the RV Park last year.


Since the nights are on the cool side, the snakes are coming out early in the morning to warm up on the sun-warmed concrete of the cart paths.
This one's a Gopher Snake, more specifically, one of the so-called 'Bull- snake race', that are most common here in the desert.

This was a rather big guy!
They can be pretty feisty, coil up and hiss at you (and have big teeth), but this one was very mellow, it didn't even move when we got very close in order to squeeze by!
As you can see, the grass is dormant at the moment, the course isn't looking very vibrant anymore:

Which makes this Desert Christmas Cactus, how appropriate, stand out the more right now! 


Although flowering in the spring, around December, the plant grows red berries/fruits that when consumed, are said to have an intoxicating effect!

Even this little 'weed' is getting into the Christmas spirit, by turning a pretty red caused by the crisp, cool nights we're having.


Meanwhile, at the ranch, "♬ it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♫"!
If you wonder what the heck James is doing here; he's counting down for our own 'tree-lighting ceremony .....'

Three ...
Houston, we have the lights-on!

Inside and out!

Despite Merlin's 'help'!


Big smile for the camera.