05 December 2012

yard list revisited

No posts here since October!? Oh dear. We were tied up with the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in early November (leading trips this time around) and then were up in NW Missouri for Thanksgiving with the family, and now we're recovering from a Lubbock County Northern Shrike Chase (27 hrs, 2 of which were spent watching the bird!)

Since the last yard list update, whenever it was (apparently January), we've added a few things:

The Double Bacon - 9/1/10
    1.    Inca Dove 9/1/10
    2.    Eurasian Collared Dove 9/1/10
    3.    Barn Swallow 9/1/10
    4.    Turkey Vulture 9/3/10
    5.    Prairie Falcon 9/3/10
    6.    White-winged Dove 9/4/10
    7.    Cliff Swallow 9/4/10
    8.    American Kestrel 9/7/10
    9.    Bronzed Cowbird 9/7/10
    10.    House Finch 9/7/10
    11.    Common Nighthawk 9/7/10  -- FOS 5/19/11
    12.    Lesser Nighthawk 9/7/10  -- FOS 4/17/11
    13.    Great-tailed Grackle 9/9/10
    14.    Lesser Goldfinch 9/9/10
    15.    Western Tanager 9/10/10
    16.    Cave Swallow 9/14/10
    17.    House Sparrow 9/14/10 est
    18.    Wilson's Warbler 9/26/10
    19.    Osprey 9/26/10 - 4/2/11
    20.    Summer Tanager 9/26/10
    21.    Black-chinned Hummingbird 9/26/10 (back? 11, back early Mar '12)
    22.    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 9/27/10
    23.    Broad-winged Hawk 9/27/10, (4/15/11) 4/23/11
    24.    Blue Grosbeak 9/27/10
    25.    Upland Sandpiper 9/27/10
    26.    Curve-billed Thrasher 9/27/10
    27.    Northern Rough-winged Swallow 9/28/10
    28.    Brewer's Blackbird 10/3/10
    29.    Cassin's Kingbird 10/4/10
    30.    Common Raven 10/5/10
    31.    Canyon Towhee 10/7/10
    32.    Northern Flicker 10/10/10
    33.    Chihuahuan Raven 10/16/10
    34.    Anna's Hummingbird 10/28* (ID on 31st)/10
    35.    Common Poorwill 11/9/10
    36.    Cedar Waxwing 11/19/10
    37.    Allen's Hummingbird 11/20/10 (?back ~11/20/11, banded 12/7/11)
    38.    Great Horned Owl 11/20/10 (est)
    39.    Red-naped Sapsucker 12/11/10
    40.    Verdin 12/11/10
    41.    Groove-billed Ani 12/18/10
    42.    Bewick's Wren 12/21/10
    43.    Sharp-shinned Hawk 1/5/11
    44.    Red-winged Blackbird 3/8/11
    45.    Hermit Thrush 3/18/11
    46.    Lark Bunting 3/30/11
    47.    Belted Kingfisher 3/31/11, 8/11/12
    48.    Chipping Sparrow 4/1/11
    49.    Vesper Sparrow 4/2/11
    50.    Zone-tailed Hawk 4/5/11
    51.    Scott's Oriole 4/10/11
    52.    Harris's Hawk 4/10/11
    53.    Broad-winged Hawk 4/16/11
    54.    Yellow-headed Blackbird 4/20/11
    55.    Pine Siskin 4/23/11
    56.    Swainson's Thrush 4/23/11
    57.    Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4/26/11, 9/17/12
    58.    Green-tailed Towhee 4/26/11
    59.    Painted Bunting 5/9/11
    60.    Gray Flycatcher 5/10/11
    61.    Willow Flycatcher 5/11/11
    62.    Black-throated Sparrow 5/11/11
    63.    Orchard Oriole 5/11/11
    64.    Western Wood-Pewee 5/12/11
    65.    MacGillivray's Warbler 5/13/11
    66.    Vermilion Flycatcher 5/15/11
    67.    Common Yellowthroat 5/15/11
    68.    Yellow Warbler 5/15/11
    69.    American Redstart 5/15/11
    70.    Varied Bunting 6/1/11
    71.    Say's Phoebe 6/12/11
    72.    Cooper's Hawk 7/17/11
    73.    Upland Sandpiper 8/14/11
    74.    Long-billed Curlew 8/15/11
    75.    Clay-colored Sparrow 9/12/11
    76.    Baltimore Oriole 9/18/11
    77.    Townsend's Warbler 9/19/11
    78.    Black-throated Blue Warbler 9/23/11
    79.    Black-crested Titmouse 10/5/11
    80.    Double-crested Cormorant 10/29/11
    81.    Killdeer 11/18/11
    82.    Brewer's Sparrow 11/30/11
    83.    American Crow 12/10/11
    84.    Dickcissel 12/ 11/11
    85.    Gray Catbird 12/11/11
    86.    Brown Creeper 12/11/11
    87.    Brown Thrasher 12/14/11, 10/3/12
    88.    Sage Thrasher 12/25/11
    89.    Common Ground Dove 1/8/12
    90.    Eastern Bluebird 5/16/12
    91.    Barn Owl 4/1/12
    92.    Cassin's Vireo 4/12/12
    93.    American Pipit 4/13/12
    94.    Franklin's Gull 5/8/12
    95.    Black-headed Grosbeak 5/10/12
    96.    Northern Waterthrush 5/11/12
    97.    Mississippi Kite 5/18/12, 9/21/12
    98.    Canyon Wren 7/30/12
    99.    Rock Wren 10/9/12 heard only
    100.     Merlin 10/19/12
    101.     Red Crossbill 11/27/12

06 October 2012

DIY and sharebox

At some point before wrapping things up at Sul Ross, I crocheted a string scarf of an amazing dark brown and iridescent, color-changing combination... don't recall the brand, but it was "fiesta" something-or-other as a name/dye batch/stuff. Crocheting with it was so fun that I made two more string-style scarves, but both in a sort of fishnet pattern. And I added some rainbow ribbon to each, to pull out the subtle colors (from a distance you see dark brown and sort of a straw color).

Anyway, I snagged the spouse for a photo of the scarf and DIY wedding skirt as well as 'sharebox' tops. The tank top might have been purchased in 2006 or 2007? The jeans (now skirt) are from the late 90s, the Teva flops are quite recent.

Generally I'm proud of myself for getting out of bed before noon... dressing myself is another challenge entirely. Managing to get out of the house looking like the outfit was mildly intentional? Rock on. Also, since I own roughly zero things that match peach, I ended up with the pairing of pastel plus pastel plus... pastel. Eh. Pockets. That's all I ask in life.

Also, I think the blog needs to be introduced to my lovely cranky-bot. No, not the washing machine, that's already been introduced. The cranky machine that helps me sew. It is a Dutch-purchased Singer sewing machine, hand-cranked (it could have a pedal, if I had the setup for one), purchased on Valentine's Day of 1946, though it's a slightly earlier model. It has been passed down from my great-grandmother and still works like a charm. Because things were actually made to last back then. Sigh!

27 September 2012

Thanks, Spring Valley Elementary!

Wow, Midway ISD has some great bugs. In the past, there have been some first county records for moths (Vine Sphinx comes to mind) and Mrs. York, a counselor at Spring Valley Elementary, has been kind enough to send more photos to us! All of these are from September 2012.

Cicada species, possibly Tibicen genus.

The bug above is a cicada - they make that whining noise in the middle of the day in summer when everything else has gotten quiet and gone to find shade. If we're not mistaken, the critter above is one of the Genus Tibicen - "Annual Cicadas" or "Dog-Day Cicadas"  On occasion, you may find their crunchy, empty exoskeleton when it has been shed.

Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa)

Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) is a really exciting moth - it is a second county record! The first county record* for McLennan Co. was found in 2009 by another of the York household; Mrs. York's husband!

* officially the first one we found was not accepted due to its rough condition, but the 2010 Waved Sphinx found by Mrs. York's son, Matthew, was accepted!

Virginia Creeper Sphinx (Darapsa myron)

Virginia Creeper Sphinx (Darapsa myron) - this is an adult of the caterpillar that eats the leaves of Virginia creeper, which is a native vine, related to the grape vine. The vine can commonly be found growing along fences or trees in McLennan Co. Sometimes people mistake these vines for poison ivy ("leaves of three, leave them be") Virginia creeper is NOT poison ivy! Instead, it is dinner for caterpillars that will grow up to be these beautiful Virginia Creeper Sphinx moths!

Virginia Creeper Sphinx (Eumorpha vitis)

Can you tell the difference between poison ivy and Virginia creeper? Vine Sphinx and Virginia Creeper Sphinx need to know the difference!

Thanks to Mrs. York for sharing these neat bugs from Spring Valley Elementary!

19 September 2012

one shirt, two shirt, red skirt, blue skirt

Sorry for the false advertising, no red skirt here. However, these are my non-jean skirt projects (t-shirt skirts are amazing!), in almost-chronological order of completion:

Original tye-dye. Modified in 2009,
the least-innovative of the shirt-skirt
designs, though most iconic in shape.
Made in a chemistry class sometime
around 2004 or early 2005... good times.
(Here's the how-it-was-made link!)

Gift tye-dye. Courtesy of an awesome
neighbor, modified in 2011, first
zero-waste attempt, resulting in oddly
scraggly edge (~2 square inches on
either side did get chopped off eventually).

Bonus: it's reversible. Inside-out, anyway.

Rec'd Aug. 2012, modified Sept. 2012.
Another gift shirt! Swirly pattern was
perfect for a wavy hem, though the
hem isn't quite as wavy as it could be -
this is about as low-waste as the tye-dye
one above, but has much cleaner lines.

Not a shirt-skirt at all, but it started out as a skirt - rec'd Feb. 2011(!!), modified May/June 2012.

...basic scarf skirt with lime and lavender
hints among the orange and teal and blue
and white. Roughly two and a half silk panels
make up the skirt, the waist is an additional
panel - it covers the pleats - and a long white
sash is on the right side, to be tied on the left,
where the side zipper is.

It turned into this!

18 September 2012

wedding dress alteration

No, I'm not talking about the DIY dress I wore to a wedding... though it somewhat counts...

The original material:


It was after cutting up the jeans that I realized that they were technically 1/2 of my wedding attire. So the before picture is... plain jeans. They looked like jeans. That photo there? Matt and I had just gotten married. So jeans totally count as a wedding dress. At least in my world.

I never did wear jeans much, simply due to lack of pockets. That pair (why are jeans 'pairs' anyway?) had been at least somewhat affiliated with my wardrobe since sometime in high school. Let's call it '02 or '03 for the sake of a conservative estimate. All I know is that they were still 'nice' when I left Illinois (nice = not worn in the solar car shop!) and that within a few months of living in Marathon, the left knee was ripped straight across from one seam to the other. I've been wearing jeans a lot out here and I guess those were just the most threadbare. Some of my solar car jeans are still intact! Must be the epoxy holding them together.

Anyway, all of my previous skirt sewing adventures have been with t-shirts. My only non-shirt projects were dog beds and a sewing machine cover - so fairly heavy duty canvas. Denim is a new thing; especially because it's not the really heavy denim. And it's not stretchy, like the jersey knits. Intimidating!

Photos should have been taken mid-process, but that would have required a bit of effort, and once in the sewing 'zone' it's hard to step back long enough to take a photo... because once you're that far back, you might as well have a snack, check email, water some plants and two years later, the sewing project is still sitting there. True story.

The peach ruffle is actually 2/3 of a skirt that I snagged a 'sharebox' type event* - it's technically a medium (for who? an ice skater? it's SHORT!) and held on to with this specific denim skirt idea in mind. This skirt ended up being longer than originally planned - I cut everything at knee-rip-height - but it's a perfect length for work. Because really, nobody at a cute little boutique really wants to see my shins.

* Sharebox (Also: Share Box. Noun, verb. Adventure!) - a box located in the basement of each dorm on the Principia College campus. Useable items being discarded may be placed in the box. Items of interest may be removed from the box. It is a free exchange with novel and admirable outcomes.

As you can see in both photos the peach ruffle is still safety-pinned in place until further notice. It was interrupted tragically by a thread tension disaster that took the better part of a week to clear up. A few more projects have been tinkered with in the meantime, but it'll take a bit of courage to get that ruffle firmly in place. It doesn't help that the skirt's side seams will have to be taken in about 1/2 inch total because the skirt is ever-so-slightly wider than the ruffle. Not bad for the first round of a new experiment!

23 August 2012

Adventures with Nauga

Back story: Nauga was adopted in March of 2011. At the time, she had a litter of four pups and the shelter, Grand Companions, had asked if we wanted a puppy. We do not do puppies. But having a soft spot for nekkid dogs, we came home with the mother of the batch. Ming is now Nauga. Lo, I think, was the father (he looked like Naug, but black with a white mohawk). Pups were Han, Leia, Chewy and Yoda. Three fuzzy, one nekkid.

Fast forward to about a month ago. Grand Companions called to ask if we knew anyone who would want Leia. Leia? Leia. The pup, now somewhere around two years old, ended up coming back to the shelter.

Here's the photo they circulated:

 So after a friend in Kingsville (Katherine) expressed interest and a bit of "meet the granddog" ensued (our dog's offspring is our granddog, no?) ... and eventually a meeting was coordinated. On Monday afternoon, Leia was delivered to Alpine from Fort Davis. Tuesday morning - original RoadTrip day - Leia was brought from Alpine to Marathon by a friend (Lauren!). Due to technical difficulties (dead car battery), the date was pushed back one day.

Anakin is a house pup, all 90+ lbs of him. He has three beds, a few gallons of drinkable water, a window a/c unit and bright or dark rooms in the house that are free for the napping. Nauga, when unsupervised, has a kennel. It's cushy, sure, and the a/c is there... but it's just not comfy or well watered for an all-day affair. 

Kennel in the back seat, harness in the front seat - Leia rested comfortably while Nauga kept an eye on the passing scenery.  Below, stretching their legs at the park in Uvalde - wish I had a better angle; Leia has loooong legs!

The video below is shortly after Nauga saw (and ignored) her 'life' Great Kiskadee in Del Rio after Leia was safely transferred. Also, since Leia doesn't really work as a name, Katherine is taking suggestions!

More photos may eventually follow - chaos on the porch and such, but for now, we're recovering from a long day yesterday!

05 August 2012

shoestring; shoes on a string

I am not a shoe enthusiast. I do not collect shoes. I dislike shopping for shoes. I barely tolerated flip flops until college - prior to that I was a wearer of socks. Shoe tolerance has always been iffy.

The recent influx of additional flops into my life caused me great distress. Crafting angst occasionally sneaks up on me and Something. Must. Be. Done. As was the case with the soulless flops (ok, they had souls, just very worn ones that didn't do well with thorns or gravel), I needed to get the flops up from the furry corners of the house and into some sense of organization. Closet space is precious, over-the-door solutions sometimes prevent closing doors that need to be closed... dilemma.

Maybe putting nails all along the hallway, with a flop on each nail would work. It's barn wood in the hallway and nails wouldn't be noticed. Actually, it's so dark that they wouldn't be easy to see - and empty nails could snag if you brush against them. No luck. More agonizing. But the idea of getting flops off the floor wouldn't leave me. Even keeping them in pairs - I've never been one to have a pile of unmatched shoes...

At some point around 2009 I had a hanging toilet paper storage system all figured out; I've been too lazy to do anything about it since the move. Add flops. Somehow it could work.

1 nail
ball of yarn - lengths will vary per set of flops
1 pencil per set of flops

So I hammered a nail into the wall behind the living room/kitchen door and stared at it. Some dark green yarn that didn't have a designated project was located. A super long chain of crocheted shoe-string was created. The Vibrams are just hooked on the nail at the top.

Crochet skills (if you can even call making a chain a 'skill') are not even required for this project. I just didn't like how thin the yarn was. Starting with a small loop at the top - to go over the nail - I tied a long loop (maybe 6 inches long) just below the nail. After hooking a pair of flops through the loop and securing them with a pencil, I moved down another 8-10 inches and tied another long loop. Added another pair of flops and kept going...

If the loop was much longer than necessary, I doubled the loop back on itself.

If the loop was too short or just right, I'd just slip the yarn through the straps and secure with a pencil.

To make the project super-exciting, jumbo colored pencils - the color swirl kind! - were used to secure the flops. Creative shoe storage has never really been an intentional part of my life - but if flip flop storage can be vertical, out of the way but convenient enough to use frequently... and looks weird but not hideous... I'm all over it.

Texas Rat Snake dilemma

Friends on facebook who have been following this adventure know that it started with an update:

BEST HUBBY EVER!! Brought me a Texas Rat Snake =D Yes, Sky, it is has been taken into custody until further notice. My sewing tote will need to be laundered after this, though.

 ...Sky Stevens was tagged in the note because last time the snake - this snake? - was found and identified, there was a bit of hesitance on the actual identification. Texas Rat Snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri) aren't supposed to be here. And they're certainly not supposed to be startling guests around town; that's how they get killed. And we don't want that to happen. They are NOT venomous and they eat House Sparrows among other things, what's not to love?

So Friday morning, when a handsome fellow showed up while I was at work and presented me with a lovely Texas Rat Snake, I was thrilled. It was alive, well fed (check out the lump in its belly!), gorgeous and definitely 100% Texas Rat Snake.

Snapping a few photos, the question soon became: how to keep it until 1) ID is confirmed by someone else, 2) it can be released where it won't return, since returning means eventual death, 3) ???

Not working at a pet store is kind of a down side - we end up with enough birds going to rehab that we probably should have some empty cages around. But while rehab birds can - and should - go into dark cardboard boxes lined with paper towels, well, that sounds like a recipe for escape with a snake. Canvas tote bag, it is! Sewing projects don't need a tote anyway.

Canvas bag courtesy of Irene Trudell, Texas Rat Snake courtesy of Matthew York, hand modeling and identification confirmation courtesy of Craig Trumbower. We have awesome neighbors.

Back to the snake - if it's the same individual that was found a few months ago and released a few blocks from the location... it's still healthy, bright eyed and well fed. Meal favorites are suspected to be House Sparrows, since it was caught among their nests last time.

A few less-than-flattering portraits of the lovely critter, held gently but firmly by Matt:

The patterning is really quite something when the photo is enlarged - most of the scales are edged in a bright, bold orange-red color! This photo also highlights the less-mouthy and more-stinky end of the snake... you can see where the ventral (belly) scales go from being double to single; and the cloaca is right where that transition occurs.

 To keep the discussion brief: these snakes don't belong here. They like to climb trees and eat baby birds... heat and humidity are part of their lifestyle. We're just not in their range. But shipments of plants, trailers of supplies, plenty of trucks and trailers and room for stowaways... most of the traffic out here comes from the direction of Dallas, Austin and/or San Antonio. Prime habitat, really.


The blue stripes are Baird's Rat Snake (Pantherophis bairdi) - most of Texas is shaded brown, where Texas Rat Snake is supposed to be found. We're also in the range of the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), but that's another story entirely.

Back to the quandry -
Texas Rat Snake of full-tummy has been upgraded from canvas tote bag to spacious tupperware digs; lovely cavern of overturned dog bowl and deer antler for ambiance. Spinach tub, trimmed down for a pool... filled with roof-caught rainwater. This whole featherless-bird housing issue is strange.

Well, now what? We have neighbors who occasionally head to San Antonio who could release it - but how good are the odds of survival? Better than a bird's would be, I have to assume. If released around here, eventually it will probably be killed by a person. Even if suitable enough habitat - like Post Park - could work, it stands a chance of interbreeding with locals and we have friends doing DNA work on snakes out here that would not be thrilled. A captive life would be cushy but... we like things to be living as naturally as possible. Does it have mites/ticks/other things that it could transmit to other populations? It is already here and probably still has whatever it came with - but is that a big issue with reptiles?

These are the things we are musing over. For now, a large plastic tub on our porch has a fat, healthy Texas Rat Snake as a guest. And it's a safe place until further notice.

31 July 2012

Return of the bike flops

In May of 2011, there was a lovely post about Bike Tire Flip Flops. Last time we saw them on the blog, they looked like this: flop + glue + tire.

And that lasted all of perhaps two months. School kicked in and "real shoes" became part of the routine and my crafty angst was pent up for... a while. I kept looking at the curled tires, still glued securely at the heel of the blue flops, and wondered where I went wrong. Surely other glues would end in similar results. Gorilla glue 'eats' foam - a hard lesson learned working on the solar car project. Sewing would be a cool option if I had a needle that could survive bike tire stabbing and if my fingers could manage. Smashing nails into the tire edges to make holes was an option, but thick enough thread? Oof. Staples might have crossed my mind, but fleetingly.

July of 2012 rolled around - school finally done - new flops are on my feet. Black Teva Olowahu Mush. But I feel I've betrayed the old flops. Original black Teva Olowahu pair dates from 2004 and blue Teva Olowahu pair dates from 2005. Blue fared a wee bit better in sole condition, the black ones are beyond shot - but they did sneak to CA for the wedding that required a dress.... without sole improvement. On the return trip, I bought the new ones. And it started to haunt me.

Glue? No. Tried it and failed.
Sewing! My poor fingers. What threat to use? What needle? How to get through the tire?
Staple gun?
Staple gun.

Thankfully, after a few walks around the block with the dogs, both shoes are still intact. I'm glad there was enough flop-sole thickness left around the edges to hold the staples. And I'm sure when these come apart, I will dissect them... and make more staple holes around the edges, glue the sole to the shoe, alternately staple through the tire/sole where some holes are and make sure there's a consistent pattern of staple holes (without staples) around the edge to sew through. Sheesh!

27 July 2012

then and now

Randal Davey Audubon Center, Santa Fe, NM

August 2009

July 2012

25 June 2012

Marfa Public Radio, one more time!

I'll add a note when the archived version of "Talk at Ten" is posted, but until then: Matt and I were on Marfa's NPR station today! It was almost a year ago when we were last on to discuss drought impacts on birds - this time the news was much better. Hopefully folks will check out the Gage Gardens (which is recovering from a good bit of hail damage) and otherwise investigate the festival, which is now less than a month away!

Trudell, York, and West on Talk at Ten

...and while we're promoting everyone and everything, check out Kenn Kaufman's post about his summer plans! Coming up: Birds and Butterflies in West Texas

(crossposted from the other blog)

15 June 2012

It's not a t-shirt!

Last weekend I attended a wedding in California... this is impressive because I pretty much never make it to weddings. Even local ones. But this one I would not have missed for the world. It involved two of my favorite people on the planet - one I've known since June of 2005 and the other who has been a delightful pen-pal since May of 2010 - and I may have heckled them mercilessly until they started dating each other. Not that the heckling stopped there, but you get the idea.

Anyway, since moving to Marathon, there has really been no need for formal things. Shoes, clothing, or otherwise. But I'd hate to be the Texan in jeans-and-boots (with cowboy hat!) among otherwise civilized northern Californians... even if I did take a shower first.

Insert pile of creativity:

* Silk "scarf skirt" from thrift store
(gift from neighbor!) in sewing pile

* tank top with matching straps
hours of frustration, then defeat

* random bra (last worn in 2003, saved
for the occasional formal situation!)

* safety pins. seven of them.

* oh, and a necklace made from a
beer bottle and ribbon scrap

(*pair of shorts to keep chapstick handy)

Here's the front of the "dress" ...which is really the side of the skirt. The skirt sash is ruched (sp?) a bit and is supposed to wrap around the waist, to tie at the side zipper. On the dress, the zipper is at the back.

Thankfully the sash was SUPER long on both sides, so instead of one bow in the back with an awkward gather (because ruch / ruched is a spelling quandry) in the front, everything wrapped all the way around to tie in the front. A bow was kind of ridiculous, but a plain double knot worked.


One pin above each bra cup - attached securely to the skirt, NOT the bra - ideally to minimize breakage/snappage/damage to the non-stretchy skirt, so the bra could move a little bit... and one safety pin above the back strap on each shoulder strap (same idea - 'floating' pin).

Add a pin to keep the skirt's sash-loop-thing from slipping out of the back of the dress... and one more to keep the bra strap on that side from slipping out of that loop while trying to put it on (not utilitarian so much as a convenience), and one in the front of the bra to keep the skirt from trying to slide down and put excess strain on the pins holding it up at the top of the bra cups... for a total of seven pins.

I only sneezed once, but the dress did not self-destruct! Success!

And if you remove the pins, you've got a skirt. And a lovely, autographed, purple bra that probably won't be worn for another many years.

Oh, and the wedding? Also a success.  <3

31 May 2012

Save the date!

X-posted over at our big bend blog -

Guess two members of this larger team effort....
I'll spot you Kenn Kaufman.

17 May 2012

Oh the shirts you can shirt

Today's adventures in t-shirt demolition: a really ugly tank top from a friend's sister.

Goal: make it not look so ugly... besides, blue and yellow are pretty.

Vision: remove the ugly, but then what? [spoiler: it turns into a halter top]

Step 1: Stare at the fugly tank top. It's already been customized, but not in a flattering way.

Step 2: Run a drawstring through 1/2 of the bottom hem.

Step 3: Fold hideous part of tank top under halter top. Yay, better coverage!

Step 4: Cut excess off of back... try to make awkward arm pit cuts from tank-top work with new design. Semi-successful attempt shown below. Bathroom mirror needs cleaning.

Step 5: Safety pins still in place; will remain there until such time as front panel is either trimmed to match the sort of slope that the back has, or... something.

There's your pit scruff pose of the day, awkward bathroom self portrait and all. At least the pit scruff will grow back and the top will sew itself, right? ....right?

Just like a puppy we know...

14 May 2012

Brewster County food

There's absolutely nothing artistic about the food served at Eve's Garden Bed & Breakfast.

Nope. Nothing at all.

Especially not baked pears. Move along...


Instead of going to my high school graduation, I went to the Rio Grande Valley for a week; instead of going to my own graduation from Sul Ross State University, I slept in, had breakfast with the fam at Eve's (here in Marathon), and then had CowDog for lunch in Alpine. Close enough, right? 

Mmm, a Big Hangover and a Little Hangover. It involves chili and Fritos, don't worry! And if the atmosphere feels a bit like an alley behind a liquor store with a dumpster in the background... that's only partially true. Technically I think it's still parking lot *next* to liquor store... but it's the food and people that make CowDog so fantastic. 

Also, the art...

Dogs (not all toppings listed):
Mexican - bacon, pico
Greek - feta, olives
German - bacon, saurkraut
Street dog - not sure, think it's spicy?
Hangover - chili, fritos
El Pastor - grilled pineapple & purple onions

Specials (ask about availability):
Artisan - fruit chutney, stone-ground mustard
Moofaletta - olive/pimento relish, salami

Tater flop - grilled mashed potato w/toppings

These night photos were taken months ago (and Kody is bundled up), but you get the idea. Alan (Allen?) is a wonderful fellow who graces us with delicious food and a generous spirit and quick laugh. And edible art. There's a reason I've never managed to take a picture of any of the actual food items. They vanish too quickly!

So if you're in the mood for awesome, bring cash. You will not be disappointed.

Edit: here's the CowDog site and menu! Apparently I missed the Wing Dog, the Bad Dog, the Veg-o-matic, and a lovely video:

01 April 2012

Learning bird calls by ear

This is one of the most informative videos about birding by ear that I've ever seen:

10 March 2012

Marathon sunset

From 7 January, a few months in hindsight:

And a few minutes later:

26 February 2012

BirdTape and why it should be on your windows.

The American Bird Conservancy has produced a fantastic new product: BirdTape.

Ultimately, windows kill more birds in the US than all other forms of human-related bird deaths (cats, cars, wind turbines, etc), combined. Indeed, it is speculated that many cat kills were stunned from hitting windows first. Many stunned birds who are lucky enough to escape cats still fly away and many die later of internal injuries.

Here's their instructional video:

Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of their collisions page!!

Considering that the Germans have been working on this for years because their sound barriers along highways tend to be glass, it has taken quite a while for the idea to spread. Here are a few pictures from my 2008 trip, starting with a shelter at a train station that was built before the idea caught on - but still has falcon silhouette stickers!

Apologies for the quality of these, they're both taken from inside moving trains. This second design would have been more bird friendly if the stripes were vertical instead of horizontal, but the aesthetic appeal would probably have been decreased. For all practical purposes, though, it will do its job far better than the few stickers on the shelter above!

For a reminder: most buildings have this problem to one degree or another. Here's a kindergarten/elementary school that uses bird stickers and big, bright paper cutouts to prevent bird/people window strikes.

And for grown-ups, here's the airport in Koln: the main building is huge glass panels without any visible sign of stickers or fritting or bird-friendly modifications. Yet the air vents near the parking lot are surrounded by glass panels as well, and they have designs that are about as effective as bird stickers (read: better than nothing, but not by much).

So if you have issues with your windows, don't waste your effort on band-aid fixes like one or two stickers per window - you will have bird prints between the stickers:

modo print

Related links:
Problems with Windows
10 Things You Can Do To Reduce Bird vs. Window Collisions
A window into the perils of migration
Seetrail links:
Tis the season; a bird is trying to get into my house
When birds hit windows

Another option: shade structures. A bit more expensive than tape.

Conclusion? My name is Heidi, and I am a window tourist.

(x-posted at Big Bend Birds & Nature)