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Life Happens When You Aren't Looking

I had to check my last blog entry to see when it was posted.  It was September 6, not quite three months ago.  Since then we have been on the go...

We spent a month with our daughter and her family in California.  Our granddaughters are growing up fast but a few golden moments still to go.  We took them to a working farm.  A 1940's version of a poor working farm.  We slept in the rehabbed chicken coup.  The girls fed the cows, gathered the eggs, bottle fed some really large calves, made friends with an aging bull that was as big as a house, well, maybe a chicken coup.  The girls loved the tire swing and the adopted kittens.  Thankfully they didn't ask to take them home. 

During our stay in California I spent several days communicating with everyone in government I could to convince them to get on top of the situation in Puerto Rico following hurricane Maria.  My comments were the same that I heard from numerous others, this was an extreme circumstance.  The nature of the island and the near total destruction was going to make recovery here much more difficult than any other area.  Today as I write this, most of the island remains without electrical power and hundreds of thousands of island residents have left the island and come to the mainland US, mostly to Florida.  There are many in and near Houston and throughout Florida who are dealing with the aftermath of Harvey and Irma yet today.  They are so much better off than those in Puerto Rico.  Roads and bridges remain out of service.  Food and water are difficult to get in many locations.  Huge numbers of people are living in what remains of their homes with no hope of secure shelter in the near future.  Give what you can to agencies involved in hurricane relief. 

Our return trip from California has lately involved a trip north to Elkton, Oregon to the Oh-Ho (the Oregon House) for a week with the above family.  This year they were off to Mexico and we got relieved of grandparent duty a week early so we made plans to attend an event we haven't been able to see in 16 years on the road.  We were able to get last minute reservations with the Monaco International Chapter of FMCA to attend the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  I can spell it without looking it up or playing word check lotto - now.  We invited our friends, former FMCA members, now without the big wheels, to join us at the Fiesta.  Five days dry camping with four adults on board - and we loved it!  The event is spectacular.  We were parked four rows back from the launch field.  Our gathering point for meals and socializing was right on the front line.  I attended most launches and recoveries.  I was hooked.  If you attend, and if you love balloons for the flying or the beauty or the excitement of the launch and recovery, you will love it also.  There were 550 balloons this year and most launched in the morning and returned by noon.  The evening glow is fun, no flying but great chance to visit with pilots and crews.

We left Albuquerque buoyed by the events of the five days at the Fiesta.  We paced ourselves across west Texas and headed for Corpus Christi.  Since 2012 I have been active in a group called Texas Master Naturalist.  Formed from a splinter group from the Master Gardner group in San Antonio in 1998, the Texas Master Naturalist program has expanded to more than 40 chapters state-wide.  Each year there is a statewide meeting of participants.  In years past the meeting has been at remote resorts near interesting nature sites.  As the size of the organization increased, the character of these meeting has changed.  This year almost 600 Texas Master Naturalists gathered at the Corpus Christi Omni Hotel.  I have attended several of these events and enjoy the chance to meet and talk with Texas Master Naturalists from other areas and learn about what they are doing.  We spent the weekend of October 20 - 22 in Corpus Christi before making the trip to our winter retreat in Edinburg, Texas.

So now we're home.  Unpacking, cleaning up our mobile home residence, settling in to our winter routine.  We have excellent lawn care during the summer but now that's my job.  Lots of little things like having the air conditioner serviced, loading the refrigerator, turning on the DirecTV receivers, getting caught up with six months mail that has been stored.  We have the letter stuff delivered but the rest sits in a container waiting for our return.  I have created our bicycle ride schedule for the park, Louise has conducted her first book club meeting.  Louise spend a weekend in Austin for her retirement occupation, the Texas Silver Haired Legislature, a senior citizen group organized to promote and look out for the interests of senior citizens.  She is very good at this. 

So the holidays are upon us.  We will bicycle South Padre Island Tuesday this week.  We play golf on Monday, I bowl in a league (as a substitute for a friend) on Wednesday, Thursday is a day of leisure for me, my chance to mow the lawn.  Louise plays cards with groups of ladies whenever she has a chance.  Friday our park bowling league begins it's season with an organizational meeting.  The weekend?  This weekend we are painting the deck and porch.  With luck, we'll have that finished tomorrow.

I spent last Sunday helping band birds, a citizen science activity.  We capture birds in mist nets, the birds are measured and weighed and tagged with a leg band and released.  If or when they are recaptured, we learn about their travels, habits, age, and many other possible bits of information.  It is basic avian research.  The kind of thing that professional scientists are too busy to do.  The professionals are delighted to have the data.  They, their graduate students, and others use the data to increase our understanding of the life of birds.  This is one of my volunteer activities for the Texas Master Naturalist program.  I will attend a chapter meeting Monday night and will receive my re-certification pin for 2017.  Re-certification requires eight hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer work each year. 

Retired?  Yes.  How else would I be able to do all this?


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