Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!



We made it through Christmas. Now we have the New Year’s Eve dance tonight and a musical entertainment show on New Year’s Day, another show on Friday, an ice cream social Saturday, and a pizza party and beer tasting on Sunday. That is all on top of the usual weekly events we work. Keeping so busy has made our first two months here fly by, so we figure it will be the end of March before we know it.

Jim continues to be very pleased with his new camera (Panasonic FZ200). He’s taken some really good shots of birds next door at Bentsen State Park, like the one of the mockingbird above.

We had a great time watching this green jay take a bath.


It was even joined by an Altamira oriole.


Can you find the kiskadee?


Last weekend we visited Estero Llano Grande State Park, about 30 miles east of here. We were there a couple times last winter and wanted to go back to see the paraques. Although we knew where they sleep during the day, we could not find them. Just as we were about to give up, several people came walking down the trail. They pointed out two of them for us, and as you can see, their camouflage is excellent.


If birds aren’t your thing, there is other wildlife to check out.


This was one big gator.


Jim has been trying to get our old camera back from Nikon even though they would not repair it  under warranty. At one point they could not even locate the camera. Interestingly, we received a phone call a few days ago and Nikon decided to repair it at no cost since they did not return it in a timely manner. It is supposed to be in the mail now.

It’s hard to believe another year is ending, the fourth since we’ve been fulltiming. When we left Pensacola in September 2008 we had no idea how long we would roam the country before settling down again. So far, although we have been to many places we really liked, we haven’t come across a place we want to call home permanently. Not that we are seriously looking, but it’s something we think about when we find an area we like. I hope this doesn’t insult anyone, but I can assure you it will not be the Rio Grande Valley of Texas!

I would be remiss if I didn’t post a kitten update. They went back to the vet last week for their second round of shots, and over the course of three weeks they doubled in weight. Elvis weighed 2.6 and Sophie 2.7 pounds. Based on the amount they eat I’m sure they’ve gained a few ounces since last week.

Could anything be cuter than kittens on our dash?


Hope everyone has a safe, happy and healthy 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas To All


This is our wish for all the homeless pets.

Santa at the animal shelter

At least we did our part this year for a couple of them. Sophie and Elvis.


Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all our friends, family and blog readers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Up to No Good


Of course I’m talking about Sophie and Elvis.


We, on the other hand have been busy with work. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve had seminars by the director of the National Butterfly Center, a Border Patrol agent and Mission police officer, and an audiologist. One interesting statistic from the Border Patrol agent was that 70,000 illegal aliens have been apprehended this past year, down from a high of a quarter million in the late 90’s. Guess they are doing their job.

We’ve also had a wine tasting, ice cream social, pizza party, and movie night. That is all in addition to the regular margarita hour, coffee and donuts, bingo, etc. All has gone well except we didn’t buy enough ice cream so there were some unhappy campers. Of course it was in the 80’s that day so everybody was in the mood for something cold. Also there are a lot of new people staying in the park this winter, and they are showing up for all the events. That’s a good thing but we’ve been basing our purchasing of supplies on the number of people who came to things last year. It’s interesting being behind the scenes!

Wine tasting in the clubhouse.


 Jim and Ray hard at work.


We are having a Christmas Eve social, 2 seatings for Christmas day dinner, then a New Year’s Eve dance, and entertainment on New Year’s Day. We are definitely not bored!

The kittens are growing up fast, and causing more trouble the bigger they get. If only we had half of their energy, or could sleep as well as they do.


Jim loves the new camera. Here are some more photos taken in Bentsen State Park.

Golden-fronted woodpecker.


Great kiskadee.


Plain chachalaca.


Mexican olive tree.


It’s been unseasonably warm, in the 80’s, and sure doesn’t feel like Christmas. Not that we’re complaining!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brain Exercise



Our new camera arrived this week, a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ200. This is a “bridge” camera, more than just a point and shoot digital, but a step below a “real” SLR. Jim has been wanting to get more serious about photography for a long time now, but just hasn’t found the right camera.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is a super-zoom camera featuring a wide-angle 24x zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout its 25-600mm range. This means it should take great images even zoomed all the way out.

This is not an inexpensive camera, but Jim found a good deal on an open box at One Call. Although there is now a $100 instant rebate at many sites so it is not much of a savings. That said, this camera appeared to have never been out of the box.

Finally, one caveat. This camera just came out in September so we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will not have problems.

We took a long walk in Bentsen State Park yesterday to test it out and so far we are impressed. Most of these pictures are right out of the camera, and the rest required only minimal editing, such as auto-contrast.

This was taken with the zoom all the way out and no editing. The birds just looked like white specks with the naked eye.


We saw lots of green jays.


And mockingbirds, the Texas state bird.


This roadrunner was hunting butterflies. We saw him catch and eat one before Jim had the camera ready.


Debbie’s dog Elliot.


Dead butterfly on the road.


Luckily this camera has an intelligent auto mode, so even I can use it, but there are lots of manual settings to learn. We’ve been watching some videos by Graham Houghton about the camera, and they’ve been extremely helpful. He also has videos about other cameras and general photography tips that are worth looking at. It’s good brain exercise!

And if you were wondering, yes, the kitties are still here and growing by the day. They are quite the lap cats when they aren’t running around like a couple of crazies. Looks like we’re keeping them.





Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not Much Going On Except Kittens


Between working and caring for kittens, things aren’t too exciting around here, but we have definitely not been bored. The kids went to their first vet visit yesterday, got their shots and worm treatment, and other than sleeping most of the evening seem no worse for wear. They are definitely growing, weigh just over a pound each, and the vet estimated they are at least 6 weeks old now.



There are two other couples working with us in activities, and this is our “week”, so Jim had to be the emcee at Margarita hour tonight. All that entails is making a few announcements in front of over 100 people, but he was pretty nervous about it. After taste testing a couple margaritas though, he got up there and did a great job. He even announced that we have two cats looking for a good home! There were no takers, though. At least so far this feels more like fun than work.

Jim finally ordered a new camera today after much research. I will wait until it arrives and he tests it out before revealing what we got. Until then we will keep taking kitten pictures with the cheapie Canon.

Jim built a scratching post around our table leg. Crazy little Elvis.


Playing with sister Sophie.


If anyone has hints about how to keep kittens from chewing on cords and everything else in the house, please, we need help!