Friday, December 31, 2010
December 2010 at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
We had decided to take a break from our busy schedule,(go ahead and laugh if you wish), and go birding at the Aransas National Wildlife refuge. It was kind of like our personal bird count for the end of 2010 and we hoped to at least see a few whoopers.
Leaving Wateredge it was a short drive to the refuge and Renita started to record our daily bird list. Quickly she started it with a northern harrier and then added a cara cara as we passed seven scattered next to the road way. A red tailed hawk perched on a pole and of course we saw northern mockingbirds and the usual little grey birds, although I was sure one was a black crested titmouse.
Arriving we registered at the refuge headquarters where the volunteers seemed a little unsure of themselves but they probably had just arrived and we got the expected whooper totals after a little prodding. Our first stop was at Jones Lake and the parking lot was full of cars as lots of birders where taking advantage of the holiday season.
A huge gator was across the lake and it shook the air with its mating call. It was the first time we have ever heard an alligator roaring and it really did seem to shake the air and water, much like one of those horns that shook everybody at the World Cup. Another gator answered in challenge but it was across the lake.
Renita pointed out the huge gator as it continued to roar and stretched out its head, pointing it into the air as it arched its body and emptied its lungs. Such a primal sound that has been heard for millions of years and we felt lucky to actually hear it.
Next was the rail trail where hundreds of pintails started to fly away in wave after wave! A greater yellowlegs stood perched and sleeping on one leg while several lesser yellowlegs searched for food,(They have a updated bird list at the visitor center and it sure helps me zone in on the kind of birds to expect at each spot).
It was lunch time and we ate as we drove along the eleven mile road where more lgbs,(little grey birds), and a kestrel highlighted the drive. Our next stop was at Big Tree where we climbed down the eroded bank and then walked along the beach.
Hoping it was a park rangers find and not the pile of a fossil poacher I recovered the bones with the stump and headed back to tell Renita. I saw several smaller bones exposed along the beach front and even found a part of a fossil tooth, perhaps a piece of mammoth tooth , and took a photo of it before returning it to the spot it had laid in.
A sign nearby warned that the site was a place of archaeological significance and I was a little confused as to whether it was due to the mammoth bones or if it was the old site of early human habitation. We stopped at the headquarters to report the fossil bones and sure enough there was a display of mammoth bones and tusk pieces on the wall.
Our final stop was at the small pond near the visitor center. A green kingfisher had been reported there that morning but we didn't see much as the rushes have overgrown the pond. Renita drove back to Rockport and we talked of the day, the beauty of the American Bittern and the bonus of the alligator's roars. A good day afield and an inspiration for more birding! Clear skies
Friday, December 24, 2010
A Day on the Beach at Padre Island National Seashore, Merry Christmas to All from the Coastal Bend
Its about a thirty mile drive and we had to cross the ferry, but it wasn't very busy and we first stopped at the Parks Headquarters to inquire about the driving conditions. It was rated good to fair and it really was pretty good for a while. We drove along the beach until we passed the five mile sign where it states that four wheel drive is recommended.
We continued on until we started to notice many small shells. Backing up to the waters edge I set out two poles while Renita busied herself with the lawn chairs and it didn't take long before we were both busy with fish and wildlife. I caught a whiting and as soon as I landed it a great blue heron approached, hoping for a handout. It didn't get any as we believe wildlife should find their own food so the bird decided Renita was an easier touch and stood near her for most of the time we were on the beach.
The tide was coming in and we headed back toward the beach access point, making several stops along the way for more shelling excursions. More sand dollars and a few new shells made it into our truck and I wondered where we would put them all but there always seems to be more room.
That night we had grilled black drum on a halfshell,(black drum fillets with their skin on), grilled to perfection. Seasoned with cajun spices and basted with a little butter it was about as good as it gets and fresh black drum is one of my favorite fish. We both felt a little guilty as we cleaned our plates and Molly was a little put out as not only had she missed happy hour but she didn't get any fish.
Sitting on the beach we talked about our Christmas past memories and we both agreed that our favorite Christmas event was spending a day in the Bighorns, sledding, cross country skiing, and finding the perfect Christmas Day. We have been so blessed in our lives and every day is a blessing, a day on the beach isn't so bad a memory either. Merry Christmas everyone and of course clear skies!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The Lagoon Arts and Crafts Show, Our First Show
So we updated our card and bought some materials at Lowes for our display,(we ended up not using the materials of course), and did a practice set up on using our main room floor as a display surface.
Saturday arrived and of course we couldn't sleep much, or at least I couldn't, I got Renita up early and we arrived at the site a little early, but not to much. Others were already there setting up their booths.
I put out a picture of Renita grinding a cabochon and a display that read, "We saw, grind, and polish our cabochons from the rough and then do the wrapping ourselves", hoping people would read a little about us and understand. Renita even went around to look at other booths and to check their prices and they seemed so expensive.
Nine o'clock arrived and people streamed in. We had a good flow past our booth but it wasn't as crowded as it usually is. It turned out we were competing with a show in Goliad and the Renaissance Fair in Rockport and so the other vendors fretted but we seemed busy.
People stopped and looked and some even took our card. Renita had bought a bunch of cheap silver plated necklaces and we sold a bunch of them. I got rid of a geode slice and we even sold a few of our pieces, enough to make a profit for the day! That with our presales made it a good day as we had yet to pay for an order of silver wire that would soon be arriving in the mail.
I even got a chance to talk to the wire wrapper and rock hound who had inspired us to become ones ourselves, and look at their pieces which included some made of expensive sugalite. Two o'clock arrived and most of the vendors were already packed up and so we filled our bins and I rode a golf cart to the vendors parking lot, retrieving our truck.
We were tired from the show but happy that we had made a profit for the day, and yes we did have post show sales that raised our totals, enough to almost pay for our soon to arrive supply order. We had sold enough that we signed up for the much larger show in February! Clear skies
Friday, December 10, 2010
Making cabochons at the Lapidary Shop, Getting Ready for our First Show
Meanwhile I was working on my own pieces, some were for our collection and some were for sale at the Lagoon Rv Park Arts and Crafts Show It was going to be our first show and we were both excited and a little nervous as we need to sell some of our pieces to pay for silver and more stone.
The whole process really goes pretty fast as we can make a small stone into a cabochon in less then twenty minutes and even a large piece in about forty. The wheels are coated with diamond dust and make short work of any stone that touches their surface.
Next year should be busy as we are going to try for three major shows, we even have to submit our work to a jury for one, but we are confident that we have a unique style as few take the stones from the rough rock to the finished piece. We never dreamed that retirement could keep us so busy as we learn more about working stone and explore carving jade and even making mosaics from polished and translucent rocks. Clear skies.
ps you can see some of our work at our online store :http://www.etsy.com/shop/markandrenita
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