Friday, June 20, 2014

I just love the sight of these silly 'Buzzerds' warming themselves in the morning sun.

This morning they also needed to DRY themselves. Yes! It rained! Yahoo!
Some nice thunderstorms went through the area since Wednesday and we finally got some rain out of them too!
Look at those puddles:

First rain since ... since ... since ... well, THAT long!

We all could do with a good soaking, especially the golf course!
Oh, yes, that's right, I'm golfing again! 
I'm so happy! I really started to think I would never be able to anymore, but all of a sudden (within a week), after over 2 years of pain and progressive immobility, my shoulder is almost back to normal! What the heck??
Oh well, I'm not complaining!
Not in the least because I see most of this area's wildlife on the course, like these Scaled Quail the other day:

Aren't you a pretty birdie ...

And how about the following colourful bunch? (a Housefinch, a Blue Grossbeak and a Verdin).
I'm calling them 'Composition III in Red, Blue and Yellow'" 



I don't think Mondrian would mind, do you? 

And now for my 'prize bird'!!
When grocery shopping in Alpine a few weeks ago we were enjoying a cup of coffee in the gardens in front of Sull Ross State University when this little fella showed up.
Not a good shot, he's back lit, or actually site lit, and too far away but I'm pretty sure it is a Vermilion Flycatcher! 
Not a rare bird but seen pretty much only around here or the very south of AZ and NV.

In the meantime we've been very, very busy, cleaning the RV and rearranging some 'stuff' in preparation for some vacation time!
(By the way, we've reconstructed the awning and it's up again, as you can see below).
Tomorrow we're leaving for a 10 day trip together and immediately after that I'm taking a month off to visit my friends and family in Holland!

Always a little chaos before a trip ...

Our plan is to travel a couple of days through the Texas Hill Country and after that to head over to the ocean and drive to
Houston following the gulf coast. 
Once there James is putting me on a flight to Amsterdam and he'll drive back by himself (and Merlin of course) in 2 days.
We're exited to see some of Texas, we're only hoping for some cool(er) weather!

I'll try to post on facebook as we go but the blog probably has to wait until I'm in Holland. See you then!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thunderstorm brewing at sunset


It's official, we're having a heat wave! Temperatures over 110 (42C) have triggered a National Weather Service 'Hazardous weather outlook" with Heat Advisory in effect. We're trying to stay inside where the AC is doing a good job keeping us cool, and a quick dip in the pool every now and than!
It's hot, hot, hot ....

And with that the summer thunderstorms have started. At the end of these scorching hot days they start to build up and come down on us with a vengeance.
Sometimes they come with tornado and flash flood warnings but so far, let's knock on wood, nothing like that has happened yet.

We do get incredible wind gusts though, and I'm sorry to say that one such (80 miles/hour!!) gusts finally got our awning too!


It lifted the whole thing up and over the RV  .... wham, bam, slam!... and there went our 18' awning! Ripped completely off!
#$@%^&!!! (and that's saying it nicely)

And that's just a week or so after we installed a second awning on the 'other' side of the RV!!
We had ordered some (used) parts on E-bay and we used some salvaged parts of awnings that other people lost during a storm a couple of weeks ago (!).

James did a great job of making it work, wrestling the heavy,17 foot thing in place and securing it safely.
We only have it out half way and it mainly serves to keep water, dirt and sun off the slide roof and the large windows we have on that side.
It does a great job keeping us about 10 degrees cooler inside!

But now we lost the 'old' one, on the other side! Even that one we had only 'out' half way and heavily anchored to the ground with straps and stakes but these winds are something else!
Actually, we think one of the locks on the tube's torsion spring gave way which made a few other things fail in succession.
Oh well. We've saved as much as we could and made an heroic effort to try to bend back the dented tube (hopefully it'll be enough) and I'm back on E-bay to find awning parts again!
                              'we.. will... rebuild...!!' (sob)

Talking about rebuilding: we just finished rebuilding our fridge. Also. (yeah, it never rains but it pours, doesn't it)

Apparently, the cooling coils of our fridge decided that after 14 years they couldn't take it anymore and just quit! As it turned out, the coils had cracked (rusted through?) and the cooling fluid had leaked out.

A quick look for a new fridge sent us almost into cardiac arrest ($4500), and a used on on E-bay ($2500) at least into arrhythmics!
After another afternoon of endless research on the web I found several companies who 'refurbish' these coils, and the cheapest one I could find (including shipping) came to $699 with a $50 rebate if you sent your old ones back. 
                               Better. But still. Jeez!

So, we ordered the coils, James took the old ones out (took some elbow grease as you can see), we borrowed a small home fridge from a colleague of James and when the new ones arrived we did everything again but in reverse. Pffft. What's next?

I'm not sure how to transition to the next pictures. Maybe something about every Eden having it's snakes. 
Or wind gusts .. or leaking coils...?

This is a Big Bend Patch nosed snake. See the triangular front flap on his nose? (I'm told it's useful in sand) (as in not getting it 'up your nose')
They're fast moving and 'may bite if cornered' but are not venomous.

And this is a Big Bend Racer (Coluber constrictor). Moves fast and climbs trees (I don't know why I find that so scary). Is also not venomous or a constrictor, despite his name, but has a temper and 'bites hard' when handled. Like you'd want to?

OK. While we're at the nasty stuff, here's a another cutey:


Showed up in the ladies restroom and, tenderhearted as I am, I just couldn't squash him/her like the cleaning lady suggested. I mean, he also has a mother who loves him ...
So I brought him outside in a paper towel, during which he kept completely still, took a few pictures of him and released him in a rocky area.
After a few minutes of still 'playing dead', he all of a sudden raised his tail, opened his front 'pincers' and took off in a hurry!

My Audubon Field guide told me later it was a Bark Scorpion. 'Most dangerous scorpion in the Southwest: sting is life threatening to young children.' Oops!

Quick! Let's go to something sweet. And cute. And fluffy. And cuddly.
And hot ....

And into every closet you leave open for longer than 10 seconds ....

By the way, I'm on a diet. Yup. I only eat one waffle for breakfast now instead of two .... ;-)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This week we had to say goodbye to our sweet girl Sadie.
We loved her so much and it was so very, very hard, but it was time.

We made the decision to let her go in peace ourselves before she simply couldn't stand any more. She was wasting away, and her legs were so bad she could barely get up and down any more. It's a decision that was the right one, but hurts so very much nonetheless.
She was such a wonderful dog, sweet, smart, fun, full of life, our faithful companion and family member for almost 14 beautiful years.
Here's a little tribute to her that I put together by digging up some old photographs:

During our first week together                                  Starring in the Blue Jay Christmas Parade

Her life had somewhat of a rocky start, being rescued by the Mountains Humane Society in Lake Arrowhead who found her during a blizzard in a vacant mountain lot while nursing six little puppies. 

New members ourselves we agreed to foster her until she could be adopted out after her puppies were weened and her being spayed. 
Well, ... she turned out to be such a great dog that we just couldn't let her go and ended up adopting her ourselves. (like you didn't see that one coming)


She turned out to be one smart cookie and graduated with flying colors from Pet-smart's Basic Obedience Class and an advanced Group Obedience Class in Lake Arrowhead that earned her the "Good Dog" status.

She loved the cold of the Lake Arrowhead winters, especially when we had snow!



Although not overly social she made friends wherever she went:


With Bill's Sadie and Sally,

.... and the 'motley crew' on Cameno Island

Friends AND snow! The best! (with Puppy, Ruby and Wyatt)

She lived for her walks and loved going everywhere with us:                                     

Desserts ...
Beaches ...
Forests ....

And she loved 'her' cats, especially Elmo:

She didn't mind getting soaking wet when it rained,

(especially if you can dry up afterwards on the heated floor tiles. Silly girl ...)

and she loved to swim and chase after ducks ....

But she absolutely hated getting a bath ......!

.....or being bit by a rattlesnake in the face .... ouch...!

     Cookies! Yummm! Always! Bring them on! Any food, for that matter!



                                            Did someone say cookies?

She loved the Holidays (and her Birthday) because she loved getting presents. We had to thoroughly wrap them otherwise she would already start opening them in the days before.




      Point a camera at her and she got really shy ......


                                                               Who, me?  ......such a sweet face.

The last year of her life she battled Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, an incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord and she slowly lost the use of her back legs. 
We were donated a doggie wheelchair which helped her a lot although she loathed being 'in it':

She was a trooper, still wanting to go:


For some reason she regained some stability in Lajitas and could scurry around without it most of the time until her front legs started to get weak too ...


She still looked pretty good until the very end but you could feel her bones because of the weight she started losing and she could not get up or down anymore without us lifting and carrying her.
She just didn't have 'fun' anymore ....


Someone said: 
"The biggest problem with pets is that they don't live long enough. 
They always seem to leave us when we're most vulnerable, most in need of their biased, affirming presence. They make us believe we can actually be as they see us, and it's often only when they're gone that we realize their role in what we've become.
They love us completely, unconditionally, and sometimes think more of us than we think of ourselves. They teach us to be better people and they are gone way to soon ...."

So very true.


Goodbye baby girl. Thank you for loving us like you did. We will miss you dreadfully but you will be in our hearts and memories forever.