27 February 2011


I'm a bit late in posting this stuff, but better late than never, right? Until our first signs of spring, I busied myself with a few projects that had been festering in the back of my mind. Spoons as a hat rack, for one. And bottle caps as a shoe scraper, for two.

Ingredients for Spoony Hat Rack-Stick:
Four spoons (recycled)
Walking stick (collecting dust in a corner)
Thick wire (recycled)
Thin wire (from a necklace re-stringing project)
Two nails (new)

Apologies for the poor quality photo and strange angle; use your imagination!

...voila, four spoons and a walking stick from Boquillas Mexico (available for purchase at the gift shops in Big Bend National Park) turned into a hat rack. And no spoons were permanently damaged; this entire thing can be disassembled with only loss of wire!

Another lovely project that still needs some hammering: foot-shaped shoe-scraper! Dozens of bottle caps were saved by friends and coworkers, but there still weren't quite enough for the initial design.

Ingredients for Bottle Cap Shoe Scraper:
Tacks (new)
Bottle caps (recycled)
Scrap wood

Not too bad, eh? Puppy helped.

Unfortunately, many bottle caps were injured during the construction of this piece. It's also unlikely that the wood or tacks will recover from the experiment.

15 February 2011

Upcoming local things...

If you don't read our Big Bend regional blog, here's what you're missing:

Please note that dates/times may change but we will do our best to post accurate and updated information as soon as we know!

Friday Night [Black]Lights

On Friday nights starting in March, the Marathon Motel invites all interested to join in blacklighting for moths around the property. This is a new region for us, with diverse bugs and promising prospects - amateurs to experts are very much encouraged to join and share your knowledge and enthusiasm! We may, on occasion, blacklight at Post Park as well - those dates TBA.

Sunday Breakfast & Birds

Join us on Sunday mornings starting in March at the Marathon Coffee Shop* for the best breakfast burritos in town! We will leave for Post Park/Fort Pena Colorado at 8 and for those wishing to meet at the park directly, meet at 8:15 for a free guided bird/butterfly walk. After Post Park, folks are invited to Guzzi Pizza for species list review, regional wildlife discussion and some of the best pizza and 'sandwiches' in West Texas!

* The sign by the road says "Breakfast and Lunch" - it's on the far west end of town, just past the Gage Hotel; they open at 7 AM and do not accept checks or debit/credit cards, so remember to bring cash!

11 February 2011

Cold without redemption

"Actually not at all sad, if you think about it! It's the other 987,208,947 carcasses you have collected that were sad." - Froggi

Ok, our winter has been remarkably mild, except for every other week or so when we get a cold front that lasts anywhere from 4-20 hrs. The frigid blast last week left us without water from Monday night until Saturday afternoon - and we'd even left the faucets running. Thankfully we only found one pipe broken, it was the main well line at a spot above ground. That's what happens when three days are below freezing with gusty winds.

Enough of our inconveniences.

I've posted before about birds hitting windows, cars hitting birds, wind turbine blades hitting birds, and a myriad of other bird death issues. However, I think this will be my first post to actually document a bird that died of natural causes. It is an Inca Dove. Adult, from what I can tell. Not sure of sex.

I wish I'd gotten a photo of it where I found it. But the temps were getting warmer and I wanted it to be preserved ASAP. It was in the yard, under the tall evergreen thing that our clothes line passes - where nothing can be hung on the line for a few feet because Inca Doves roost there and their droppings are magnetically attracted to clean clothes.

To recount all of the dead birds I've found, photographed, 'salvaged' or otherwise witnessed, the list would be well over one hundred species long. Baby Tree Swallows thrown out of their nest by House Sparrows. Natural cause? Hardly. Certainly, I've seen dead fledgelings and nestlings and those are definitely natural causes. Dead baby bird, still in the nest, tangled in yarn/string/twine/fishing line that cut off its circulation? Also not a natural cause.

Gulls, terns, pelicans. Perhaps some were natural. Most were beyond the point of determining cause - they could have ingested hooks or plastic. Indeed, even the one domestic bird that I watched die of West Nile... it was quick. Yet this Inca Dove is part of a species close to my heart, and one of our eight regulars in the yard. Life is fragile, but resilient. Yet there's such a fine line life walks.