Saturday, October 31, 2009

North Padre Island

I had the long weekend off for this Holiday weekend (Halloween). I decided I would spend it on the beach. I'm also trapping this weekend. More later on my trapping adventures. I grew up going to South Padre Island, were we had relatives, but in my adult years my visits have been to North Padre Island, near Corpus Christi. Those previous visits were with a previous husband, so I wanted to make a memory all my own. I also decided to camp on the beach. It was a fabulous weekend!! Camping in the fall/winter in Texas is a very good thing to do . . . as long as you watch the weather. The daytime temperatures were from the 70s to 80s. The nights, down to the 50s, so no problem, except everything gets very dewey, both inside and out. I slept two nights in the campground, which was just behind the first set of dunes. I could hear the surf all night long. The moon was waxing full, so there was a lot of light. The campground was virtually vacant. A few hardy souls kept to themselves, mostly retirees in campers. I did meet and chat with a man and an exchange student from China who was visiting with him who camped next to me. The ladies decided to sleep in a hotel . . . a shame really, because the beach was glorious! We shared a little breakfast and a walk down the beach looking for sand dollars for the student. The beach currently is experiencing something called "red tide". It is an overgrowth of a micro-organism that causes a lack of oxygen in the water, so kills fish and other wildlife. It is a naturally occurring phenomena, so not man-made. There was a lot of dead fish on the beach at a very high tide mark. But what I found fascinating was an overly large number of sand dollars, live ones, on the beach. I've never seen live sand dollars. I'm not sure if they are exiting the water to survive. Possibly. Many are washed up, and turned over on their backs, so probably die. Quite a few are washed up, and you can watch and see they sift their way back into the moist sand. And if you walk enough of the beach, you'll find some of their skeletons. You can collect the dead ones, and so I took home a goodly amount of "sand change". They are very fragile, but very distinct souvenirs from the beach. The rest of my time there was spent chasing and trapping hawks. It was a really good weekend!
Here is a little clip of the view of the beach just over the sand dune that I camped.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's a Sickness!

The passion for falconry can be like a sickness. It is a cliche, but it many times is true. I have been long from it, and I'm looking forward to wallowing in my obsession. All the necessary details are coming together. I have received in the mail my Texas license. Must say, things are done very differently here in Texas. My license is only good for one year. $120 and all they can give me is one year!! In Wisconsin it is renewed for a term of three years. Also, my falconry license does not also include my small game license, such as it does in Wisconsin. I asked my friend Sharon about New Mexico, and she told me squirrels and rabbits there are considered vermin, so you don't need a license to hunt them. I'll be forking over another $25 so I can pursue the appropriate game with my hawk. It is one of the two final details (OK, three) that I still need to do, but is just a matter of writing a check at my local Fish and Game office. I'll do that this next week, because I need the small game to trap. Not sure why the falconry license isn't good enough to trap . . . . but the letter that came with it specifically said I had to have the small game to trap. Oh, and I have to give a 'courtesy call' to the local offices to let them know I'll be trapping, and where. *SIGH* I'm not much impressed with the Texas bureaucracy!! The other details . . . . print off the Federal permits that I was able to get the office up in Minnesota to forward a copy of in an e-mail. I also need to buy my bait animal, a rat. I'll probably do that on Tuesday. Food for my soon to be searched hawk is on order and should arrive next week. Normally I am able to beg a few bunnies from my falconry friends if I found myself completely out of hawk food . . . . but I am far from them all, and all the stores I had were donated to a rehab organization. You have to have appropriate food on hand, and in the case of a raptor, appropriate is whole-body food. I have a bunch of rats that will arrive, already frozen, and a whole bunch of chicks. The place I'm ordering from had a sale. Feeding your hawk day-old chicks makes them have nice orange legs and ceres. I hope I have ordered enough to see us through until she is flying free and catching her own food. This morning I watched a video I had rented, as it was a short night for me, only 4 hours instead of the usual 12, so I was home by 11:30 instead of working all night. I worked on my hawk trap, my bal chatri, removing old and bent nooses, and tying on new ones into the blank spaces. That done, and the video done too, I was not quite ready for sleep. So, like the obsessed person I am, still in my sweats and nightshirt, I put a light sweater on, and decided to go drive around hawk watching. It was a nice, long and quiet drive around up north of Abilene in the mist. I saw about 9 hawks, maybe more, but they were all haggards. "Haggard" is the word we use to mean an older bird, beyond first year. We only trap first year birds . . . and there were none to be seen this morning. I also saw several kestrels, but I'm not trapping one of those. Because of the warmer climate down here, they probably bred much earlier than our birds up north, so their offspring would be quite independent of the adults . . . and by now have probably been encouraged to move on out of the adult's hunting territories. The migrants don't appear to be here as of yet . . . . but should be here soon. I've been keeping an eye out on the progress up at Duluth, Minnesota at one of the major flyways. The numbers of red tailed hawks going through that pinch point is starting to go up now, so the southward push is beginning now. Those Northern migrants should begin their Southward movement. I've been looking and discovered that there are four major flyways for migration. Abilene appears to be between two of them. The Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex appears to be on the edge of one of them, and I know there are a whole lot more hawks in that area because I have seen them while driving around there. So, I have already decided that I will be traveling towards that direction, probably on back roads, and trap as I go. Rich will be here next week, so that sounds like a most appropriate activity for he and I while he is here. He fully supports and encourages my hawking activities. It's one of the qualities about him that I like so very much! It's a sickness . . . falconry! I hope to soon be completely overcome with the symptoms, as I search for and capture and begin training a new hunting companion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Final Goodbye

It's almost appropriate here at the very beginning of this new blog that one of the foundation stones in my life is removed. This is a bleed-over from much that occurred in my previous life, which I'm leaving behind in the previous blog . . . . but the passing of my mother cannot go un-commented on . . . and not memorialized. On Saturday morning, October 3, 2009, at about 12:15 AM, my mother passed away. In recent years her health has been declining. She has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for far too long, and it has brought her a great deal of pain. This is an auto-immune disease, and that combined with some of the treatment modalities, has resulted in a compromised immune system and damaged lungs. Mom gets infections easy and often. Every winter for the last few years she has gotten the "crud", and I thought this was just the first bout of it this season. We were all wrong. We were to re-locate my parents this past weekend to an elderly apartment complex, and we did go forward with moving my father. It saddens me that my mother never made it out of El Paso. She would have enjoyed the new location in Fort Worth. We were moving them to be closer to us kids . . . which is one of the primary reasons I came to this area, back to Texas, to be closer and of help to my parents. Well, my mother is beyond any help I can render now. My mother was a good woman. Maybe not terribly outgoing, but those who did know her loved her well. There was a fairly good turnout of people to the memorial service, and the funeral. She is buried at the Fort Bliss Military Cemetery in El Paso. It is a well-maintained, and very efficiently run place. Just three hours after the graveside service and she was in the ground with very little sign that it had just occurred. We each of us deal and cope with our losses differently. I have been coping with loss for a couple years . . . trying to come to terms with things that are passed for me, and letting them go. My face is directly pointed to the light of the possibilities of the future. I have loved those that are no longer a part of my life . . . . but for many reasons they are no longer there. I have to keep on living, and making new ties, and growing. My mother has been a firm and steady rock in my life, and I will miss her terribly. It saddens me that she won't get to meet Rich. He is coming to visit me in about a week and a half. I need his visit . . . . and might cry on him a bit. My family's religious beliefs were on full display this past week. It gives comfort, I know, but is a way of looking at the world that is changed for me. I still believe in the permanence of the soul, so feel my mother's spirit still exists. However the way of that existence truly is beyond our knowing . . . until we make the journey ourselves. I trust that all that she was is not lost, and that somewhere her soul rests, either for a season of healing and reflecting, or perhaps soon to return for more learning. If I could speak to her I would tell her that I love her . . . . as strong a love as I can express for anyone. She is the womb that brought me into this world, and I have continued to be tied to her through an umbilicus of love. Several times as I struggled with my changes and loneliness and challenges of the last few years, she was the steady and loving voice on the other end of the phone, giving me encouragement. It is not that I have come to a point in my life when I don't need that . . . . but only that her time here has come to an end, and she must go. I am happy to know that I did arrive, we all arrived, in time to be there for her. If her soul was hovering, watching, then she saw that all the living people who were the closest to her made it to her bed prior to her passing. We had gathered, then departed for some much-needed sleep. Within about 40 minutes of our leaving, her heart's patterns became erratic, and stopped. We had chosen to not revive her . . . as there really was no point to attempt it. Her body was failing . . . we let her go in peace. My sister Jennefer had chosen to stay the night with her, so was present at the moment the silver threads of her life were severed. We returned and waited for a physician to come and officially declare her death. I requested, and was allowed to extubate the ventilator equipment . . . freeing her body from the machines that still filled her lungs with oxygen, though her circulation had stopped. Even so, her body was stiffening and cooling. This is the most intimate I have been with one who has died . . . and it did not horrify me, as I had great respect for the body of the one I have loved since infancy. We stayed until she was fully disconnected from all the support equipment, and walked behind the gurney as she was wheeled out of the ICU. The next few days were filled with the responsibilities of arranging for her final resting place, and finishing the arrangements for my father's transition to a new location. All was done, and now I have returned home to attempt to get back into a normal routine again. I don't quite feel I'm putting into words the emotions I am feeling . . . . and maybe that is because I'm still not completely in touch with them. I will miss my mamma! I will miss her terribly! However my path continues on, hopefully for many more years to come. Letting go is a part of life! It is something I have had to do a great deal of in the last few years, and maybe because of that, I am becoming a bit numb to it all. But that numbness does not lessen the bond I felt for my mother. It will express itself, I'm sure, in the days and weeks and months to come. Goodbye Mamma! Safe Journey!