Thursday, March 30, 2017

Morning blossom, and a surprise

Hello, everyone.

We found this little beauty at the entrance to Bentsen Park today:

Tulipan, a native hibiscus of northern Mexico and southern Texas
 And here was the surprise:

 Can you see the thing that doesn't belong, way up at the top of that tree? Here is a close-up:

Opuntia, AKA prickly pear cactus or nopal
You really never know where a cactus seed will sprout. The birds are very fond of the egg-shaped red fruits, called tunas, and they scatter seeds all over the place. This is, however, the first time I have ever seen one of these sprouting in tree bark.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Art in Pamplona

Hello, everyone.

From 2014, La Pieta.

This three-dimensional painting/sculpture is at the Museo de Navarra, in Pamplona. It is well worth your time to visit. Among the many exhibited items are many works of devotional art that have been collected from outlying parish churches. Having walked through many tiny villages, I don't know whether the works were conserved because of existing building issues (roof, etc.) or because the parishes were consolidated and couldn't maintain as many chapels as they now had, or some other reason.

One of the beauties of going at walking-speed is the opportunity to see the many different ways that a given theme has been treated by various artists. There are loads of, for example, Pieta depictions in Spain. Most look to me like they are medieval in period. It's not the same portrayal as the Renaissance sculpure by Michelangelo, by a long shot--but each portrayal of the theme has something to share with us.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

This n that

Hello, everyone.

Sewing has been keeping me pretty busy. The second backpack duffel is almost done and the third is halfway there.

Here is a spring flower for enjoyment.

This flowering tree was in the Montes de Oca. We walked past it in 2014, on the day after we slept in Villambistia.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A spring flower

Hello, everyone.

As it's the first day of spring, a flower for y'all:

Rosa de montana

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Visit report: Laguna Atascosa NWR

Hello, everyone.

As promised, a few notes about Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

This fascinating place is in Cameron County, Texas, and is reached by way of Route 100 (the highway that goes to Padre Island) or possibly by cutting off at San Benito from the expressway and winding around cross country. Either way it's a fair bit of tiny farm roads through flat country and you should really use a map. If you have Google Maps on your phone that will do fine. Part of the way is on roads that--well, they're paved, but there are some chuck holes and a bit of road construction is in the area. You should keep going anyway. It is worth it.

The visitor's center has maps which are marked with trails. (Also a nice little gift shop with books and things. They use it to fund research into ocelots.) There are quite a few routes that can be walked. There is also, at some times of the year, a tram tour of the loop around Pelican Lake and along the Laguna Madre, which takes 3 hours. It's 15 miles long, which if you were going to take snacks and water and walk it would make a good day's hike. No shade to speak of, but there is a tiny toilet hut at the halfway point. (Bring hand sanitizer!) We took the tram tour as it was just loading up when we got there.

The Laguna is beautiful and the place is loaded with various birds. We also saw a good amount of deer and more nilgai than I thought I'd ever see. Great and Lesser Blue Herons, Red Egrets (can you tell the tram was largely populated with birders checking off their lists?) and Ospreys and so on and so forth.

Pelican Lake, unusually dry at this time. The tree is a mesquite.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Black-bellied Tree Duck

Hello, everyone.

A couple of days ago the camera was available when the local duck came by to check things out. (Well, there were more but only this guy posed for me.) Sometimes as many as six stand on the rooftop and look at the world.

In the spring, there is often a pair nesting in the next-door neighbor's palm tree. The babies bounce out of the tree-hole nest and follow their mother across our yard and two more to get to the drainage ditch for their first swim.

Tomorrow there should be a post about Laguna Atascosa.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Now that the giddy excitement has mellowed a bit

Hello, everyone.

This is a little more info about the pack duffel. (Yesterday it was so exciting to just have it DONE that all I could think of was putting the first pictures of the complete project up--forgetting entirely to put a photo of the duffel in its normal "working" configuration.)

Hanging from the banister in the hall. Pocket zipper is just
barely visible on end

With a bit of supplies tucked into the top opening. (Plastic clothespins and some soap)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just for fun

Hello, everyone.

On our last walk at Bentsen-RGV State Park we encountered this:

Isn't he pretty!
This snake was slowly crossing the paved road/path at the park. We looked pretty carefully, to be sure, before we started snapping photos of him. We're pretty sure he's a Bull Snake, a non-venomous snake that eats mice and other such small pests. You will note that his head is small and his tail has no rattles on it. Length of this one was around 4 feet.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bias binding for the duffel

Hello, everyone.

The sewing on the first duffel is proceeding. It has become obvious that there are a few supplies that can't be gotten from the store.

One of them is bias binding made of lightweight nylon fabric. The stores are full of poly or poly-cotton bias tapes. They come in dozens of colors and are really handy for the right project.

Some projects just aren't meant for the matte finish and general all-around heaviness of the prepackaged bindings. Wedding dresses, for one. (Organza bias, not ripstop.) And these pack duffels for another.

The scraps of ripstop that are left from cutting the stow pocket bags are the source of the bias binding for this project. One of their purposes is to finish the seams on the said pocket! Seams that will be on the outside when the duffel is stowed into its little pocket. And while the binding doesn't match the zipper or the main fabric at all, it does match the pocket bag.

The bias binding is also standing in as an interfacing on the main zipper application--just a skosh, as we say, more stability and almost no added weight. (On this project, it is possible that the zippers weigh as much as the rest of the project put together.)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Learned a new thing with zippers

Hello, everyone.

As y'all may recall, there is a project in hand to make back pack duffels, for protecting the packs from airport conveyor systems.

The sewing has begun. The first strap has been made and attached, and the next step in assembly was to make the end of the bag that has a zippered pocket for stowage.

The zipper with the flip pull is way, way too long for this use--and this was the smallest it came. (It's also quite sturdy, but that may be more of a "feature" than a "bug." If the stowed bag is used as a pillow, the user will have to point the zip side away from the neck for comfort, but on the other hand it's sturdy enough that it probably won't come apart in transit.

The lovely videos at include one on how to add a pull to a piece of zipper tape, either because you had leftovers or because you bought the whole roll of tape that some places sell. So when I ordered the flip zipper, I also ordered some catches to use up the leftover lengths of tape.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hawk at Bentsen State Park

Hello, everyone.

The last time we went to Bentsen for walking, we took the very first turn-off from the paved road and wandered around on some dirt-surfaced trails. (This is the area called the Resaca Viejo trail.) Saw a lot of fallen wood, watched a male javelina run across the trail in front of us, and found, just before reaching an observation deck with a bench, this peek between the trees at a large bird.

Preening hawk
The so-smart camera couldn't take this photo, because it will instantly assume that closer objects are the purpose of the picture. Had to put it into manual focus mode to get it to ignore the branches and tree trunks that have been (mostly) cropped out of this shot.