Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes, finally, it's Fall! Yahoo! My favorite time of the year! 
I just love the cooling down and the crisp air, the changing of colors, Halloween and Thanksgiving, pumpkins, turkeys, parades, hot chocolate, apple pies and getting cozy in front of a fire!

I didn't waste time decorating! It's not much due to the lack of storage but it gets the message across. Fall!
(just ignore the sleeveless summer dress I'm wearing)
Last year the Resort organized a pumpkin carving contest and brought in a whole bunch of pumpkins so I hope they'll do it again and I'll be able to snatch a few up!


Even nature here in the desert got 'in the mood' and cranked out a few
mushrooms for me!
These are Coprinus Comatus or 'shaggy ink caps', 'lawyer's wigs' or 'shaggy mane'. Very common and edible when very young. (these are old).
They appeared after the rains we had recently which also filled the Rio Grande to (and over) the rim and flooded the golf course's cart path between the front and back nine!

(and that's a sinkhole in the upper right)

Together with the rain, lots of ducks seem to have arrived and some other water loving birds like these:

A Great Blue Heron. It's dark coloring and the pretty rusty coloring on his thighs, wings and neck make it a Western Pacific variety.

                                        He was huge!

Next one up is a Black Crowned Night-Heron:


I think it's a fairly young one, maybe in it's second summer, since the breast feathers still have a little light brownish 'hue' to them.

You can see how 'wild' the river is at the moment, it's a pretty strong current.

And than there's this white one on the tree trunk, above the river, a Cattle Egret.

Enlarging the pic made him go kind of fuzzy but you 'get the picture', I think?

I realize this post is sort of heavy on the animals but there hasn't been much else going on so it'll have to do for this week.
So here's two more:


Merl has found a new favorite spot, for the moment, on the cool marble tiles of the step to the bedroom area. 
It's like it's made for him, a precise fit. If he stretches out any more he'll have to put his head through his cat door on the right!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This tiny, tiny little toad (it looks big, but I blew it up) (in Picasa, I mean), it's really only about an inch, was being chased around by Merlin who was trying to make it move by poking it with his paw. 
He sniffed it but never tried to bite down on it with makes me think that maybe it exuded some of it's toxins out of the little warts that cover it's skin, which it can do when threatened.

The weather is still rather unstable, we're having quite some thunderstorms and occasionally even a little bit of rain! Yeah!
The soil is moist enough to reveal some nightly visitors:

I see the tracks of a raccoon among the bottom ones but maybe the ones in the top picture are from this handsome fella:

He's a rather good looking coyote I think, almost fox-like with that reddish coat.
Although not exactly fat he didn't look too shabby either, I think he's finding enough prey. 
(We only have about a gazillion cotton tails around here!)

How do I know it's a 'he'?

That's why!

Not much has been happening here otherwise. 
Oh, yeah, we put 4 new tires on the truck. I'd asked James to take some pictures of the guys at the local car service station changing them out. "For the blog honey, you know what I mean?!" "Sure!"
This is what he comes back with:

Four tires leaning against some poles. Great! Good job honey!
(sigh ...)

Also, I'm teaching myself some new skills. I'm weird that way. If I'm not learning something new every now and than, I get bored. 
And you don't want me bored. Trust me ...

One of them is learning how to type. Blind, I mean. And with all fingers.
I've done it once before, about 20 years ago, but I never used it and forgotten all about it. One of those "If you snooze, you loose it" things. Besides, that was in Holland (no clue if that makes any difference) and it was on a real typewriter! Remember those? You really had to hammer down on them!
Big difference with the nowadays 'whisper-touch' computer keyboards.

Anyhow, I Googled around for a free tutorial on the web and I found this hilarious one from the BBC-school program called 'Dance Mat Typing!


I know, it's for children, but sooooo much more fun than the boring adult ones. It's just a hoot! I'm having a ball!

Another skill I'm trying to master is spinning related. Up until now I've mainly spun while using what they call a 'short draw' technique.

Short draw

Short draw is the spinning technique used to create worsted yarns which are smooth, strong, sturdy yarns, and dense.Short draw spun yarns also tend to not be very elastic. 
These characteristics make them good for use in weaving. 
Sometimes it's called the “inchworm technique, describing the short forward movement with both hands close together.
Long Draw

Long Draw is the spinning technique used to create woolen yarns that are light, lofty, stretchy, soft and full of air, thus they are good insulators, and make good knitting yarns.
It is spun with a long, backwards draw in one smooth movement (sure …).
It's much more difficult to do though, and the reason why lots of spinners never go there. (or try it once, pull their hair out and swear never to go there again).
A challenge! 'Nough said! Let's just say that it wasn't pretty at first (and it's good that James is gone for a couple of hours each day) but I'm getting better!

And because we ate the whole Lemon Bundt already (and the peanut butter-cup cookies) and I really needed to calm myself down every now and than after a particular difficult session, I had to make something else:

Double fudge brownies with walnuts!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Although it's quite normal that Lajitas doesn't get too many people in the heat of summer (100 +!),  it's really, really slow around here at the moment. 
As you can see for yourselves. That's us, way in the back, just beneath the white house (which is for sale, so ... empty too). 
We're it. Talking about slow!

And now vacations are over, schools have started, and the snow-birds are not coming down for another month or t
Hopefully we'll get some people again if the temperatures go down when Fall comes around.
Fall, yeah! My favorite season. I can't wait. Bring it on!

In the meantime, we did some shopping in Alpine. This time we were absolutely full to the gills on our way back, don't y'a think?

(weird pic of James but he was talking to some people passing by)
In addition to our monthly groceries we had to pick up a whole pallet of mulch for the golf maintenance crew, and also two huge cylinders of chloro-something for the water plant!

I hope you have the stomach for the next picture which shows what not to do with a vice:

Vice -1 versus James - 0
No, he didn't put his finger in the vice but he hit it while trying to move something else that was in it. Yikes!!!


OK, I'd say that calls for something sweet. A nice big piece of lemon bundt cake did the trick!

So, since James couldn't golf for a while and couldn't really work on anything else (like the honey-do-list) while his mangled finger was healing, I had to find him something else to do. 
He gets very antsy otherwise ....
We used to work on a jigsaw puzzle on occasion, before we went on the road, but had not figured out yet how, and where, to lay one out in the close quarters of an RV without it being majorly in the way at any time.

But surfing the RV forums I came across this ingenious solution!

A piece of Plexiglas cut to the size of the table that covers the puzzle while we're not working on it! 
This way we can still use the (only) table, don't have to move the puzzle and best of all ..... it's cat proof!!

Can you see both cats in this 'puzzle'?
Since nothing much else happened with us this week I'll go strait to what interesting wildlife I came across this time!
Like when I was sitting outside spinning some delicious Blue Face Leicester (a sheep) wool on my precious dutch Louet spinning wheel, and my eye caught some woolly fluffiness walking by. 
Just some stray wool, blowing in the wind, I'm thinking ... but wait ... wool doesn't 'walk by', does it?
What the ....??


It's a Thistledown Velvet Ant, which are not ants at all but solitary wasps. I didn't see any wings, which means (my guide tells me) this is a female. Which also means, she is armed with a powerful stinger!
I guess not everything fuzzy is cute.

Most of the 'big birds' I see around here are Turkey Vultures, just soaring overhead on the rising hot air, barely flapping their wings and pretty much noiseless.
But every now and than some piercing screams announce a Red-tailed Hawk in the blue skies above the resort:

It always reminds me of Lake Arrowhead, the small town in the San Bernardino Mountains where we used to live in California, and where they were very common.

And last but not least, when we were out on the golf course a while back, I noticed something unusual in the mesquite bushes.
It almost seemed to shimmer in the early morning sunshine and I was delighted to discover it was a Vermilion Flycatcher!


It proved to be almost impossible to get a good picture of it since it just reflected the light like a jewel!

All puffed up, this definitely was a male!

Hello, my precious ....

Almost the same colors as those of one of our latest sunsets:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nature never seizes to amaze me. Look at this exquisite little creature! Just makes my day!
First I thought it was a tiny little hummingbird but ... it's a moth, if you can believe it!


It's a hummingbird moth! Ha! Almost got it right :-)

Before I'll show you some more of nature's marvels I'll have to show you something that I forgot to include in my previous post.
'While I was away' (almost sounds like a movie) James received the news from the truck repair place that the injectors were the problem indeed and that the it would take at least a week before they would have it repaired.
Since there really wasn't much for him to do but 'hang' and be bored, he decided to leave the RV in San Antonio and drive back to Lajitas so he could at least work.
At this time of the year many of the employee rentals are empty so he got one to use free of charge for the week.

He took some things with him from the RV, managed to borrow some furniture and a TV from the resort and created a sort of 'man cave', where he and Merlin hung out together!

A bed, a hat, a cat ..... oh yeah, and some golf clubs. What else do you need?

When the truck was ready, he drove back to San Antonio, returned the rental car, picked up the truck, stayed the night at the campground, hooked up the next day and drove everything back again.
Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, we had planned to do this repair this winter and we were in the process to save up for it so we were faced with a little problem here ... we didn't have the cash (yet)!
To make a long story (and some sleepless nights) short, let's just say
...... we love you Mom!! 

So here we are, happy to be home again. All three of us ....

The weather has been weird lately. Mainly due to frequent clouds and thunderstorm activity that has kept the temperature rather down but unfortunately has raised the humidity.



Although we don't get much rain out of these storms they come with some freaky strong wind gusts as we very well know!
We have secured our awning with a new awning tensioner-system, that has raving reviews, and as you can see, we have it out about half way. 
Let's just hope that these straps will be as good as everyone says!

The little rain we got woke up a few wildflower seeds:


These dainty orange beauties are Arizona Poppies or Caltrop.

And for a little more orange there was this Gulf Fritillary (looks like he narrowly escaped being lunch to something):


I hoped we would sneak into September staying nice and cool for the time of the year but this last week has been much, much warmer again.
I've taken to go swimming every day, somewhere in the afternoon, to cool off a little .....

Afterwards I stay holed up all afternoon in the RV with all three AC's running full blast!
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that James installed a small window AC in the bay window at the backside of the RV. The resort has several laying around that are placed in the employee rentals whenever one gets rented but at the moment quite a lot are not being used.
Saves on the ware and tare of our own and keeps the temperature cooler much faster!

Merlin likes to sit in the high grasses of the wash next to our site and pounced on 'something' that moved. He gave it a tentative bite but quickly spit it out! It turned out to be another walking stick!

Next up is a Western Pygmy-Blue butterfly (I think), it's very tiny, in fact, according to my guide, it's the worlds smallest butterfly (but common in the south).
It took me forever to get a good shot of it and when I was done I noticed that what I had felt on my foot, trying to stay still, had been fire ants who'd bitten me a couple of times for standing on their 'turf'!
Man, that itches!!

We're still golfing, despite the heat, but we're trying to get the earliest tee-time possible, which is close to sun-rise!

James and Merlin enjoying the cooler temperatures at sunrise with a cup of Joe. 'Buddy bonding time', James calls it. Pfff, .. guys!

The rising sun is coloring the mesa a vivid red.

And than it's off to the course! This morning we had some very local showers as well as sunshine!
In Holland we have a saying that calls this phenomenon: 'Kermis in hell'. 'Kermis' meaning carnival or fair.

It's hard to see but it was raining here and the water that fell was actually warm!

Such a die-hard!

Oh, I almost forgot, talking about rain (as in; it never rains but it pours), there was also this:


Yup, a tire blowout! Fortunately we were only 'doing' about 50 mi/hr and we were only 3 miles from Lajitas but it scared the bejesus out of me!
A loud (very loud) bang (more a BANG) and lots of 'stuff' flying around, everywhere behind us! Fortunately, it was a back tire and, even better, the inside one of the dualies so we didn't loose any steering and James could get us to the side of the road without any problems.

No further damage was done to the truck and after taking the tire off, we're now limping around slowly on just the one until the new tire(s) arrive.
Fortunately, James usually uses the resort truck to get around here anyways.


 (Guess what? We'd planned to replace 4 of the tires this coming winter also!  Now where did I hear that sort of a plan before?! ;-)