26 October 2014

All Good Things

...must come to an end.

This has been a silent blog for a while, but it is going dark. Thank you for the memories.

05 January 2014

2013 - tl;dr version

The highlights:
We bought a house and have TWO working toilets now, not to mention, a couch.
We went to Germany and the Netherlands.
We saw birds and birders. Notably, Rufous-necked Wood Rail, a ton of European birds, and local things. Laura Erickson is wonderful. So are her books.

The lowlights:
My dad died on moving weekend.
Steve (friend, mentor, birder) died right before Thanksgiving.
Jobs = chaos.

...that about covers it, I guess.

03 October 2013


Nekkid dog has some paw pad irritation, so to distract her from licking at it loudly all night while gnawing it raw... socks! On both feet! Keeps her symmetry intact. Symmetry is important when it's all you have left. Dignity? Might be back in another week or so.

Big puppy is sad that he's not getting as much attention. So we cleaned his ears and that made him sad that he was getting the attention. Poor puppies. Nauga HATES the antiseptic spray.

03 September 2013

sights of progress

Our guest Chihuahua for a few weeks: The Little. 
She's not too sure about the big puppy or the middle puppy, but she does like the back of the couch and the foot of the bed. Also, walks. Lots of walks. She gets carried for the rocky stretches though.

Left, button bush. Right, New Mexican olive.

Two mystery shrubs and a huisache, a barely visible New Mexican olive and even less visible flame acanthus.

Salvia greggii, rosemary, Salvia greggii, more rosemary.

Token bathroom shot for brainstorming. I really need to post 'before' photos of the house.
'After' shots may take a while!

Aaaand the problem bathroom. Surround is pretty much already dismantled. Not pretty.

House number, take one.
(Ingredients: found board - aged roadkill of a plank, several nails removed. Also, found and gifted horse and mule shoes. Gifted red spray paint. New white spray paint. Several new nails. Upturned pots via gifted plants, now in ground.)

House number, take two. (Chairs and table are dumpster rescues and a freecycle find.)

Not sure which I like better. Second version leaves nothing to the imagination!

Many, many more photos of plants yet to come - the only ones still in pots are the pomegranate (no idea where it should go), soapberry (ditto, but it has some time in the pot yet), mystery acanthus, one Salvia greggii, one Arizona ash, and one chokecherry that needs to be relocated.

Things already in the ground:
flame acanthus (2)
Arizona ash (1)
New Mexico olive (2)
Salvia pentstemmenoides (1)
Salvia greggii (1)
canyon senna (1)
scarlet bouvardia (1)
button bush (1)
Salvia regala (2)

Also need to get photos of various modifications around the house - some of our curtains (spider hiders) have been freed from their mop handles and are on REAL curtain rods, most of our wall art is actually properly hung, and so far most* of our plants are still alive. Triumphs, they are many.

Most triumphant moment? Realizing that 'ant traps' on hummingbird feeders can easily translate to an 'ant trap' around a trash can. Not sure how to minimize the space impact of a trash can sitting in a pan of water though... oh well. Redneck engineering at its finest!

29 August 2013

Non-Brewster summer adventures

This is by no means a comprehensive overview of some of the madness, but...

Hey, check it - when you go to replace a tub faucet and the whole PIPE twists... that's a bad thing.

And a photo of Nauga that *almost* renders here semi-photogenic:

My life mink, at the Lake Waco Wetlands:

End-of-life dragonfly experiencing the kiss-of-death (hug-of-death?) from a robber fly, also at the Lake Waco Wetlands (not sure of ID on the ode, leaning female Eastern Pondhawk though).

I was not able to get a photo of the looong-legged robber fly that was a bright yellowish orange that was clearly a wasp mimic; at least two were slowly flying around, taunting me. One robber fly that did cooperate (but not for me) in College Station was a house fly mimic. Sneaky!

Speaking of College Station: the two folks in the center, Dr. Sharman Hoppes and Dr. Ian Tizard, are most wonderful people. I'm sure the rest of them are as well, else they'd not be doing the ground breaking for the new avian building at Texas A&M! It was an excellent crowd, with folks from AFA, NPRPF, and the Wildlife Rehab & Education Center - giant family reunion for me!

Oh, and home: the grape vine is huge, but the avocado tree (hulking beast on the left) is but a mere shell of what it used to be. A glorious, gorgeous, strong, vibrant shell of what it used to be. It once topped the roof line, but Hurricane Ike did a number on it - what you see there is too big for me to wrap my hands around (2-3 years of growth?!) but was a new shoot after it was cut back to the roots.

Excellent progress in 20 short years of work, my delicious little avocado friend. 

Mom and Sib. Aww.

Mom and Self. Aww. Think she was talking, whoops.

Base of avocado (2 of 3 pictured).

17 June 2013

Important posts in the blogosphere

The first, a remarkably important topic tackled by Brooke McDonald. The second, a needed response.



Bird on!

24 March 2013

I-20 Wildlife Preserve

Without any intentional birding time scheduled, and no photos (whoops), I cobbled together a Texbirds post from March 18th's quick jaunt around the darn-new and mind-boggling site of Midland's new birding hotspot. Anyone wishing to attempt a birding trail, preserve, park, photography trail, whatever... this is a prime example of things done RIGHT. Quality blinds, trails, boardwalks and overlooks - not to mention feeding stations.


Folks unfamiliar with the new-ish I-20 Nature Preserve should really investigate it! Midland is somewhat short on birding options, but this one is conveniently wedged between Business 20, I-20, Midkiff and the loop; this means you will have zero sense of isolation (sounds like you're between two major highways, in fact), but the birding - and butterflying - definitely makes up for the noise of the machinery and general human chaos that surrounds it.

In a mid-afternoon jaunt on the 18th, Matt York and I kicked up nearly 30 species along the ~2 mile trail (mostly paved, some boardwalk) that runs the perimeter of the place. I lost count of blinds after the 4th or 5th - there are a few overlooks (2?) and a really sweet hawk tower. There are at least 2 RGV-style feeding stations that appear to be maintained daily as well. Someone has been writing roughly daily observations on their dry erase board and most of the bird/bug IDs appeared correct ("grackles" ...ah well)


Also, pretty sure it's my new favorite place simply because it bans noise making and noise makers. Guess if you can't hear yourself think due to nearby human activity, the birds should get a break from artificial noise as well.

Happy trails,

24 January 2013

Semi-annual Update

The 2012 review is up at Big Bend Nature.com and that means we're off the hook for more bird/bug updates for this post... right? Guess that leaves the pithy, lifey stuff...

Jan - hey, rare birds ARE life to us; Nutting's Flycatcher was some Herculean feat of masochism in spite of being a life bird for both of us. The bird called twice in something like two hours of our first observation and the call is what we HAD to record for confirmation. No pressure. Awesome bird. Great folks who chased it, as well. Kind of a who's who of birders, or an awkward family reunion.

Feb-May were somewhat nondescript, except when May rolled around we were both laid off from our part time jobs (same place - so there went our 20 hr/week gig, roughly 1/2 of our income, on 5 minutes notice... at the same time I lost my tutoring position due to graduation), but I guess at least we don't have to work at the checkpoint anymore! That was at the beginning of the week of finals and graduation. Not cool. I could have been studying!

Layoffs aside, May was wonderful; Matt's folks came out for my graduation and in the time-honored tradition of shirking rituals, I ate at CowDog instead of walking for graduation. Not quite a trip to the RGV (high school graduation), but CowDog with the best in-laws ever? Remarkably wonderful. We even introduced them to a black-tailed rattlesnake in the Chisos Basin! They stayed at Eve's Garden... not that we blogged their breakfast or anything. Ok, we did.

June saw a bit of travel; Matt held down the fort while I went to California for a wedding - not just any wedding, but that of a former solar car competitor turned bff/dear friend. While out there, I also managed to meet that 'new' nephew of mine who was already a year old! Whoops. I'm a bad aunt. Other than seeing a few birds during the wedding ceremony, no birding was done - but plenty of friends seen/met/stayed with in the process. Also, June was crafty... because I made a skirt into a dress for the wedding.

July was an exhausting/exhilarating mix of anticipation and phone-tag during the crunch time of pre-festival madness; Matt scouted and I wrangled field trip leaders and the most awesome celebrities ever, but between the two of us and some seriously awesome trip leaders, I'd say ~22 people at a first year birding festival with Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman is pretty much a success.

Following the festival, we took a week of down time and took the small dog to Santa Fe to meet her cousin. It was great to see the long-lost relatives (we see them maybe every 2-3 years or so). The fall turned into a busy mix of shipping Matt off to the AZ/CA border for some field work and I settled into my new job at Pitaya Verde.

The shift to winter was a mix of job shuffling again; Matt focused on guiding and contract work, I put my name in the hat for a librarian position. After Thanksgiving - early December for anyone keeping track - a neighbor told us about a house with a "for sale by owner" sign out front... and we've been throwing ourselves into it, full force, since then. We do enjoy the little house of termites, but the Double Bacon, as much as we love it, is sometimes just a bit too much. There's no closing date yet, but we're up to our ears in surveys, inspections, roof quotes and generic madness. Add the new job to the existing job and the move across town seems like quite a challenge. It's a pretty hefty move: all the way from the NE side to the SW side. A whopping 17 blocks... that's clear across town, as the maximum would have been 22 blocks if we'd lived any further on the NE side!

So please bear with us through blog silence as we tackle the latest batch of challenges: we're still here and our PO box won't change (434), but we're swamped with "productive" things!

Anakin, Matt, Nauga and Heidi - Jan 2013, photo by Tom Lehr