Reflections

March 6, 2022

Photo Number 65

Janet and Lynn are traveling home today, so didn't have many photo ops. I went out into the woods and found a couple of more letterboxes before heading home. I have a letterbox in Oakwood cemetery in Tyler. It was placed in 2009 and the last finder informed me that the logbook was full, so I went by to put a new box and a new logbook there. The box is part of my Texas Governor Series of letterboxes. I have about 27 governor boxes placed all over Texas. This one is for Richard Hubbard, who was governor from 1876-1879. He, like many governors of that period, served in the Confederate army (notice the confederate flag). Close to his gravesite, there is a commerative statue of a Confederate soldier, which is also marked with a flag. I noticed a Northern Mockingbird perched on the soldiers hat, which I thought was unusual. I guess it's really a "Southern" Northern Mockingbird.

March 18, 2022

Photo Number 77

We went over to Lake Sheldon SP today hoping to see some early migrants (bird). I saw a bunch of Red-eared Sliders (turtles) and an alligator. Janet was more patient and she found a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers and I was able to get a picture of one.

March 25, 2022

Photo Number 84

I decided to redecorate my mantle today with birds and more birds. The photos in the old frame were taken by us at South Llano River State Park. From upper left, clockwise, are the Lazuli Bunting, the Black-capped Vireo, the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Painted Bunting. We had them printed on canvas and I needed a way to display them. We had an old frame that was too big, so Charles cut it down and figured out a way to mount the canvases. At the far left is a fired glass painting that Shirley gave me. I love it and it fits in perfectly on my mantle.

March 10, 2022

Photo Number 69

There are two types of birders: bird watchers and bird photographers. I have always had to take a picture of a bird before I could put it on my list, but when I went birding with Chuck and Andra last week, I noticed that Chuck is a hybrid: he photographs birds, but he also lists them whether or not he gets a picture. Andra is a bino-birder: she uses binoculars and looks and listens and lists every bird she sees for the day. Today we decided to go on a birding day-trip where we would photograph all the birds we could, but we would keep a list of every bird we saw, whether we got a picture or not. It turned out to be a lot of fun. We ended up listing 61 different species for the day, and that didn't include any of our backyard birds. At the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, we came upon a cattle drive. It took up the entire road, so we had to pull over and let them pass on both sides of our car. We were surrounded. That was a first for Anahuac! We saw this pair of Mottled Ducks there. We don't see them very often, or maybe we overlook them because the male and female look almost identical and they both look similar to female Mallards. Above, the female is the one on the left and she has a band on her leg. The male is on the right. Notice that he has a yellow beak while the female's is more gray. We're learning! It was a long day, but very enjoyable. Charles thinks we need to get back to a picture a day instead of four pictures a day!

March 7, 2022

Photo Number 66

We have Eastern Bluebirds in our yard year-round. It's exciting when spring comes and they start building a nest in our bluebird box. Last week, they were checking it out, but they didn't start a nest. Today we started to see a pair of bluebirds, a male and a female, going in and out multiple times. I got my camera and sat out on the patio so I could watch them. It didn't take long for this female to go into the box, so I was ready for her when she came out. When she came out, she sat on the roof looking around. Where is her mate when she needs him?

March 28, 2022

Photo Number 87

Nothing says "Spring" like Azaleas and Robins!

365 Project March 2022

Life is like photography; always look at the bright side of things.......                                                                                             

March 5, 2022

Photo Number 64

When I got to Tyler State Park today and went out on the trail to find a place to hide my letterboxes, I discovered that the park had recently done a controlled burn in the area where I wanted to place the box. You can see in the small photo how the underbrush is burned away and the trees are scorched. It doesn't hurt the trees and they recover quickly but it makes hiding letterboxes more of a challenge. I went ahead and placed the Bear box behind that leaning tree. I mentioned before that there is a long story behind the feud between "Baby Bear" (the trail name of a real person) and "The Ghost of IRA Boxer" (one of my alternative trail names). I know if you don't do letterboxing that this can be confusing, but it's just part of the fun and games that we engage in. I always make cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning at the event, just for a select few of our favorite people, including Baby Bear and his brother Silver Eagle. This box is all about how to lure a bear to a certain spot by placing cinnamon rolls as bait so you can shoot him. I changed the name of the box from "Bear Bait" to "Bear Hunting 101". He immediately retaliated by placing a box called "Ghostbusters Texas" (see the inset stamp) in which he urged all Texas letterboxers to rally and "vaporize" the Ghost! Saturday afternoon we gathered for a group photo. Only half of the people showed up for the photo shoot because they were out on the trails finding letterboxes. I know it's hard to understand, but it's fun and keeps us active.

March 19, 2022

Photo Number 78

When we lived in Midland, Janet started collecting Coca-Cola related items, mostly because she loved Coke and never drank anything else. After we moved to Sugar Land, we would go "antiquing" all over the Houston area and if we saw Coca-Cola items, we would buy them, if they didn't cost too much, and decorate the house with them. This is one of the things we came home with, and we can't remember exactly where we found it or how much we paid for it. At the time, $50 or $60 would have been a lot, so we probably spent somewhere around that. Mick and Kara recently saw the "twin" of this sign in an antique store in Gruene, and they remembered it, so he looked for a price tag. It was $1200! It's now hanging in our garage and it was covered up with the blue foam board you see on the left. I'm thinking it deserves a more prominent spot in the house, don't you? Whoever inherits our Coca-Cola stuff needs to be sure to have it appraised.

March 14, 2022

Photo Number 73

Our Eastern Bluebird couple has started a family in our bluebird box. The female has been spending a lot of time in the box so we knew the time was near. I checked it this morning and this is what I found. They normally lay 5 eggs, so in another 3 days we can start the countdown to hatching time. Incubation can take 13 to 20 days depending on the temperature in the box and how much food the male supplies to the female. Incubation doesn't start until all of the eggs are laid, but when they babies are ready, they all hatch within about 1 day. We'll be watching.

March 27, 2022

Photo Number 86

The last time I checked the bluebird box, there were four eggs. That was on March 17, ten days ago. This morning I saw the Mother bluebird fly out, so I checked on the nest and found five eggs. That means that the fifth egg was likely laid on March 18. At that time, the mother would have started sitting on them and starting the incubation process. It can be anywhere from 14 to 20 days before they hatch, so in about a week or so we should start watching for activity that indicates baby birds have arrived. That should be fun. This afternoon I saw mom peeking out of the box, probably wondering when her mate will come by with something to eat.

March 29, 2022

Photo Number 88

We made a wall hanging for Lynn for Christmas. The background is a cabinet door with hinges, from the Annie-Over house and the frame is a window from the dairy barn. the objects displayed are "found" objects from around the house and farm that were used by them. The rusty tool in the middle is Granddad's wire cutter. The jars contain marbles, buttons and beads that belonged to Granny. Today we went over (finally) and hung it on the wall in Lynn's living room. Charles did the hanging while I advised, supervised and handed him his tools. We also hung her diploma and other professional documents in her office. Merry Christmas, Lynn!

March 23, 2022

Photo Number 82

We were restless today, so we decided to go find some bluebonnets. Although we were a little early and didn't see the huge fields of them, we did see them scattered everywhere we went. The best location we found was Washington-on-the-Brazos, where we found not only bluebonnets, but other wildflowers as well, such as the pink phlox, blue spiderwort, yellow daisy and Indian paintbrush. We had a fun day, finished it off at the Pizza Shack.

March 24, 2022

Photo Number 83

Nothing happening today, so I took my car in to get an oil change and lube. It's hard to believe that it already has over 45,000 miles on it after 2 1/2 years. We seem to drive 20,000 miles per year pretty consistently. It used to be because we were calling square dances, then we started letterboxing and that requires a lot of driving, and now we go to where the birds are, and they're all over the place. You'd think we'd slow down, but we keep on going.

March 4, 2022

Photo Number 63

Today was travel day. We had breakfast at the retreat lodge and said goodbye to some of the ladies on the way out. Notice that one of them is holding her Red Junglefowl. We got to Chuck and Andra's house in time to see some of the birds in their beautiful back yard. In the meantime, Charles was traveling to the letterboxing event in Tyler. He went a little bit out of the way to replace the "Brother Ben" box at the grave of his gggrandfather at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Farmersville. Benjamin Watson founded the church in 1854. We visited his grave last June with Mick's family and found the letterbox was damaged and the logbook soaked. He thought it needed to be replaced and I agreed.

March 22, 2022

Photo Number 81

There's an old saying about March coming in like a lion. We have had our share of bad weather. A huge line of storms swept across Texas during the night, dropping lots of rain and hail, strong wind and even tornadoes. It came through here in the early morning hours before dawn. we got a lot of rain and some wind, but no damage, no downed trees or limbs, so we're thankful for that. It's time for March to go out like a lamb.

March 8, 2022

Photo Number 67

We are planning a birding trip with Chuck and Andra for the first week of May, so Charles is planning an itinerary. We're going to Tucson, which is a hot spot for migrating birds during that time. He is frustrated because Texas State Parks are requiting reservations for day passes due to the pandemic, but they won't accept requests this early. Gaining access to state parks has become a lottery; you have to find out when they begin taking reservations and hope to get your request in before their limit is reached. Even Indian Lodge in Ft. Davis is doing the same thing. He thinks it's ridiculous and I think he's right.

March 13, 2022

Photo Number 72

We got to see two of our grandchildren today, not to mention Mick and Kara. Spring break starts this week so Jake is home from college. We were hoping to see Rachel, but she has to work during the break. Everyone has been so busy this year that we haven't been able to get together much, so Mick grilled some delicious pork chops and Kara made some awesome risotto and we had a good time. We were entertained by Mick's 2021 "a second a day " video and "Dallas", a video of our 2021 camping trip. We had a great time. We missed you, Rachel!

March 11, 2022

Photo Number 70

Our little Rufous Hummingbird left last week. He always comes in December and leaves in March, so he was right on schedule. Today our first Ruby-throated Hummingbird showed up, also right on schedule. While we only have one Rufous, we will have a lot of Ruby-throated during the spring and summer. Hopefully, this is a harbinger of Spring. I'm ready for it.

March 31, 2022

Photo Number 90

Today we were blessed with a visitation from Shirley and her friend Mallory Miller. Shirley will be spending a couple of days with us and we have big plans. Mallory took us out to eat for lunch and we enjoyed both the meal and the company.  

March 16, 2022

Photo Number 75

Our son Mick and his wife Kara are teachers and they are on spring break this week, so they took us up to Coldspring, where we used to live, to see the Eagles. We ate lunch at The Hop and that brought back memories. We took binoculars and found the nest. Although the parent Eagles were nowhere in sight, we did see the fledgling. We don't know exactly when he hatched, but it was probably sometime in November. We didn't see him stretch his wings, but he should be ready to do so if he hasn't already. When  he can fly, he'll stay around the nest for a few weeks. When he's ready, he'll leave with his parents and fly to wherever they migrate to. I've been calling it "he", but there's no way to tell the gender. In every way, it was a perfect day.

March 3, 2022

Photo Number 62

Today is the last day of our quilting retreat in Clarksville, Georgia. This is our group photo so I decided to use it as our picture of the day. We managed to get all 18 of us in the picture, despite the fact that we didn't have anyone else to hold the camera and take it for us. Lynn and I took turns behind the camera. So how did we manage to get us all in the photo without using a remote?  One of us had to be artificially added. Can you guess which one? By the way, we'll be traveling back to Huntsville tomorrow and Charles is going to attend a Letterboxing Event at Tyler State Park tomorrow and won't be coming back until Sunday, so we'll catch up on our 365 Project when we get home.

March 12, 2022

Photo Number 71

It's nesting season for Eastern Bluebirds. As you know, we already have a pair building a nest in our old nesting box. Today we decided to put the Astros bird house that Colby and Savanna gave us for Christmas out in the yard. It's not really a bluebird house because the hole is 1 3/4" diameter instead of 1 1/2" as it should be, and the baseball serves as a perch when a bluebird house never has a perch. There are invasive birds like the House Sparrow and the European Starling that will be able to get into this box by sitting on the perch and entering the large hole. Anyway, within five minutes after I put it up, the female bluebird went inside to check it out and then she and her mate perched outside trying to decide what to do. As soon as they left, a Carolina Chickadee went inside and he went in and out several times. Since the bluebirds are threatened by the proximity of the box, I have decided that I need to make the hole size smaller. A Chickadee needs a 1 1/4" diameter, so I am going to make it a Chickadee house. That way, I can leave the baseball as a perch and the hole size will keep the invaders out. I think the bluebirds will be okay with that.

March 15, 2022

Photo Number 74

On our walk this afternoon we noticed that the redbud trees are beginning to bloom. My Granny O'Neal had a redbud tree in her front yard as long as I can remember. Every year when it started to bloom, she would say "Spring's here, the redbuds are blooming!" She grew up near San Augustine in deep East Texas, where these beautiful trees are abundant. I think Granddad brought one to Midland when they moved there and planted it for her. They are special because the blossoms only last for a couple of weeks, then they're gone for another year. I guess this means that Spring has arrived in Roman Forest. I thought it was never going to make it.

March 9, 2022

Photo Number 68

When we left Roman Forest this morning, the price of gasoline at our local Exxon was, as you can see, $4.09 per gallon. I skipped it and later in the day, I filled up at the Kroger station. It was advertised at $3.89, but with my Kroger card I saved 3 cents. Last week, at the same Kroger, gas was 50 cents cheaper. Before that, it was $2.69. So, I wonder if I was getting brand new gasoline, or were storage tanks still dispensing gas that they bought before they raised the prices? I think I know the answer to that question.

March 2, 2022

Photo Number 61

Although it wasn't planned, today turned out to be a "bird" day, and two of them are chickens! The lady at the top is our teacher, Charlotte Angotti. She's one of the best teachers we know, and she's why we come all the way to Georgia. One lady did a show-and-tell on an appliqued rooster that she did. It almost looks like a junglefowl, but it's really a chicken. Another lady had some fabric pieces in a bowl and one of them is a chicken. They have peel-off stickers on the back and she gives them away to remember her by. Her nickname is Biddie because she likes "itty-biddie" chickens. I went outside to take a little walk to stretch my legs and saw this Eastern Phoebe. You know me, I had to take a picture of her. We're having a great time in Georgia.

March 17, 2022

Photo Number 76

Today was a work day. We're trying to do some spring cleanup, which includes burning leaves. During our days in Midland, raking leaves wasn't a big deal. We had some big fruitless mulberry trees that would drop all of their leaves at once, usually on Thanksgiving Day (at least it seemed that way). I don't ever remember having to burn leaves there. I think I just swept enough off the driveway to get the car out of the garage, then wait a couple of days for the next front to come through and blow them all away.

March 30, 2022

Photo Number 89

I woke up this morning thinking of my beautiful daughter, Kim. Today is her birthday and I remember that day like it was yesterday. So I took down the photo book that I made a few years ago, and I've been sitting here reliving those precious memories. I was only 20 years old when she was born and we went through some tough times together in her first year of life, but, by the grace of God, we got through them. This morning she is far, far away from me, but she is always close to my heart. Kim, I wish you were here so I could give you a hug and tell you, in person, how much I love you. 

March 1, 2022

Photo Number 60

Today was the first full day for our retreat. I was the first one chosen to explain the gifts that I made for the ladies, which, of course, was the Red Junglefowls that I've been working on for the last two months (almost). I was glad that I was first so I could get it over with. You know me, I get nervous and excited at moments like this. I told the story about how Lynn and I stopped by Fitzgerald, Georgia on the way home last year. Lynn also told her side of the story. Most of the ladies knew we were going to try to find them, so they were glad to hear the rest of the story. They seemed to like the chickens and everyone had a good laugh.

March 20, 2022

Photo Number 79

A couple of years ago, an oak tree fell over in a storm, leaving a root ball. Charles thought it was time to get rid of it today, so he started by power-washing as much dirt as he could from the roots, which revealed a frog, worms, bugs and grubs that had made a home in it. We moved the frog over to our little pond and left the worms and grubs for the birds to fight over. We made progress, but now we need to get out the chain saw and whittle away at what's left of the trunk. Maybe tomorrow.

March 26, 2022

Photo Number 85

This is the Coke Corner on our patio. We are long-time Coca-Cola collectors, although we don't do it much anymore because the prices have gotten ridiculously high. We bought the big button sign on the left, the one with the bottle on it, for $100 at a flea market in a meadow near Industry, Texas. One recently sold on ebay for $1395. I'm not sure where we got the other one, but we didn't pay much for it. The old door is from the O'Neal farm, as is the tractor seat sitting on the cooler. I don't know how many hours Granddad O'Neal sat in that seat, but it had to be a lot. The cooler belonged to a friend of Earleen and Joe's and it was sitting in a pasture near Hamilton. the owner gave it to us: all we had to do was haul it off. We managed, with a lot of help from Joe and Johnny, to get it to their house. We then lifted it to the top of our van and hauled it home to Midland. We've been  hauling it around with us ever since. The picture of bird houses at the top was painted by Kim on the bottom of a Coca-Cola crate and she gave it to us for Christmas. The "Watson's" sign and the bar stool were also gifts from Kim and Eric.The rusty Coke bottle-shaped thermometer came off an old barn at the house Shirley owned near Goldthwaite. We drove a lot of miles and had a lot of fun collecting all of the Coke stuff, and this is just a drop in the bucket.

March 21, 2022

Photo Number 80

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and, appropriately, a couple of plants in our yard decided to bloom. As it happens, they both have special meanings to me. The white Canna Lily is an antique that we collected from the old Bradberry homesite at Denning, in East Texas near San Augustine, about 7 years ago. That's where my grandmother, Rachel Bradberry O'Neal, grew up. I like to think she planted the ancestors of these bulbs 100 years ago. This is the first bloom this year for the Knockout Rose bush that Mick and Kara gave me for Mother's day almost two years ago. Welcome to Spring.

Looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer