HARVEY AND THE HUMMERS


FIGHTING FOR THE NECTAR IN OUR BACK YARD

September is the time of year when thousands of hummingbirds  make their way south for the winter.  This section of the Gulf Coast seems to be right on their migratory path.  The 29th annual  Hummerbird Celebration that was scheduled for Sept. 15-17 was canceled as the Fulton-Rockport area is recovering from Hurricane Harvey.  The festival provides education about the visitors as well as an opportunity to see them close up; many people put up dozens of feeders up and open their yards to the public. This year residents and businesses are busy  making repairs and trying to get back to normal so a festival in the midst of chaos was just not possible.

A few days after Harvey left I saw my first hummingbird in the back yard and got out my three feeders and mixed some nectar for them. I was sure there would not be a Hummerbird Celebration this year and worried about these tiny jewels that normally feast on flowers and feeders in the area.  Even in my neighborhood we were still dealing with downed fences, repairs and downed trees.  But the birds were not forgotten.

As they began their annual descent upon the Fulton-Rockport area volunteers started to help and donations came in for them as well as those affected by the storm.  Wild Bird Unlimited stores collected donations and sent feeder kits complete with poles for hanging.  Winter Texans sent money.  The crew from the King Ranch’s nature- tour brought 100 Best-1 Feeders  made in Poteet , Texas.  Outdoor writer for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times David Sikes wrote:

                                    “The ranch’s nature staff decided not to burden Rockport residents with DIY hummingbird kits, white they were in the throes of the storm.  So the King Ranch crew began filling and putting out feeders themselves at six Aransas Pathways nature sites.

    Aransas Pathways is a collection of sites in the county aimed at creating and preserving nature area and historical treasures for locals and visitors.

     Attached to the feeders is a laminated note, explaining how folks can adopt a feeder.  This would involve keeping the feeders filled and clean.  Within a week or so seven had been adopted.”

WHEN THE FEEDER WAS NOT SO CROWDED

Some locals have put up feeders amid the debris  just to make it more normal and help restore life to the community.  Most of the flowering plants and shrubs that the hummers feed on were torn apart by Harvey’s winds.  The mayor of Rockport and local companies have encouraged aid for the hungry travelers.  In the fall they come south and cross the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico and Central America; in spring they make the return trip north.  I will keep my feeders up until they are gone.  Usually the last ones move on by the end of October but I always leave one up for the stragglers.  When spring comes I will welcome them back!  Right now they are keeping me busy refilling them at least twice a day.

THIS ONE SHOWS MORE OF THEIR IRIDESCENT COLOR.

RECIPE FOR ARTIFICIAL NECTAR (SYRUP)
1.  Use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
2.  Boil the water 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the sugar while the water is still hot.  Let cool before filling the feeder.
Store unused syrup in refrigerator for as long as 2 weeks.

  PHOTOS BY HUSBAND

POST-HARVEY


View of our back yard with a bedraggled oak tree. Back fence is leaning slightly but that can be easily corrected.

Harvey made landfall in the middle of the night here with rain and shrieking winds as we listened through the night in darkness with storm shutters down. The power had gone off hours before.  The morning brought gentle rain and stillness.   Our neighborhood was fortunate with little damage other than downed trees, limbs and fences.  The eye of the hurricane went in a little to the north of us so we did not experience the strongest of the winds which damaged and destroyed many homes.  Flooding took its toll also.  Harvey worked its way up the coast to the Houston area and into Louisiana.  Relief and rescue efforts are ongoing.  I am sure many of you have seen the devastation in the news.  Our power came back on Monday evening.

FAMILY UPDATES

Daughter across town had little damage to her home beyond downed fences and broken limbs.  The USS Lexington Museum where she works held fast anchored just off North Beach in Corpus Christi.

Son in Houston had no loss of power and no flooding.  He works for United Way of Greater Houston and was able to volunteer taking 211 calls.

My 81-year-old sister is staying with us as her home in Victoria still has no power but little damage.

Ironically, on Friday my brother-in-law called to check on us and invite us to ride out the storm with him and my sister on their ranch outside of Freer (80 miles to the west of us and 60 miles from the border of Mexico). I declined as we wanted to stay.  Two hours later I got a call that their house had been completely destroyed by a fire; they got out unharmed but could save nothing.  They will rebuild, but at 89 years and 86 years old it will not be an easy transition.  Thursday we drove out to see them.  They are strong people with a proud Texas attitude.  My brother-in-law could joke that he really hated to lose those new boots and hat he had just bought.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Life goes on.  I am grateful for all that I have.  My heart breaks for the loss of life, damage to property, and hardships (financial and emotional) that the hurricane has brought.  It has encouraged the best in people as neighbors and strangers help each other.  Governments, military, non-profits and volunteers have pulled together to help.  May it bring our country together.  Thanks to all who have shown concern for this Coastal Crone!  I am far behind in responding and reading blogs but life comes first.  Sending good wishes to all!  The sun is shining brightly today.  Cheers!

HOGS AND HOT AIR BALLOONS


 BATHROOMS, BUDGETS AND  BALLOONS

My relief came  when the 85th Texas Legislature failed to pass a useless bathroom  ban bill that would make Texas less friendly to transgenders and their families.  Gov. Abbott, who had failed to get support for this and faced opposition from many sides, was so determined to get something on the books that he has called the Legislature back into  special session July 18.  Well, to be honest, he said they did not finish their work in their allotted 140 days so a special session needed, but obviously he would not mind it being brought up again.   On May 2 of last year I wrote about my concerns in a post,  “Monday Madness: Writing on the Bathroom Wall,” and still oppose such legislation.  For now I will focus on the lighter and more positive side of Texas politics.

Kudos to the 85 Legislature for getting  essential bills passed in the regular session with apparent bipartisan support!  I had tried to keep up with what the Texas politicians were doing with the budget and bathroom issues, but did not know about the hog issue until I read a post by blogger Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge titled, “No Lard, if by Land.”  Only in Texas!

It seems the Gov. signed  HB3535 into law that will allow “taking certain feral hogs and coyotes using a hot air balloon” that will be effective September 1, 2017.  Parks and Wildlife will apparently be charged with working out the details of how it will be implemented and which “qualified landowners or landowners’ agent…may contract as a hunter or observer…to take depredating feral hogs or coyotes.”Granted, wild hog population has increased and a pack of hogs can do a lot of damage to crops and the environment and create havoc for even some deer hunting. They breed readily and have no natural predator.  It is a serious problem to farmers and ranchers.   In the last few months a form of warfarin, basically rat poison and used as a blood thinner for humans, was considered as a way to get rid of them but it seemed it was a slow and inhumane  death as well as having other concerns about the viability of the idea. Feral hogs can already be legally hunted by helicopter, but that seems more like brutal warfare with visions of hunters hanging out the side of a noisy chopper.  The hot air balloon approach seems more sporting somehow, but I do wonder how it might work out.

Will it catch on as a romantic flight as the balloon drifts over the unsuspecting hogs?  Will hunters prefer guns or bow and arrow?  What about the pictures hunters seem to favor posed by their kill?  Will there be wine, cheese, crackers and pate available in a wicker basket?  What should one wear?

Silly me to want details but I can’t help but think of the possibilities to add a new dimension to hunting while helping to get rid of animals that are a nuisance and help the environment .  I envision camouflage balloons.  What else!  And maybe pink camouflage balloons for the lady hunters!

I really liked Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge’s post  (especially the title), but I could not resist writing about it also.  Check that post out; it contains some good links.

With all sincerity I hope this new approach works and look forward to seeing those camo balloons gliding in the blue skies of Texas!  For those who think we are making this up, here is a link to HB3535 signed into law June 12, 2017.

Learn more about feral hogs from the Texas Parks & Wildlife.

MR. COTTON EYED JOE


Al Dean (born Albert Dean Callaway) was known as Mr. Cotton Eyed Joe.  He died in 2016 at the age of 85.

Early days

Al Dean grew up deep in South Texas near the small town of Freer where most people called him Dean.  He started  his country western band, Al Dean and the All Stars, but kept his day job with an oil field supply company for several more years.  The group played for dances all over South Texas and beyond in dance halls and honky-tonks great and small.

At the request of a man who asked if he knew “Cotton Eyed-Joe,” he and his band started playing it at dances.  In 1967 he recorded it as a single on KIK-R Records.  From then on it became his and the band’s signature song even though several other artists have recorded it.  The dance was sort of precursor to the line dancing of today with a skip, kick and a whoop.  The song was featured in the “Urban Cowboy” mechanical bull scene. which premiered June 5, 1980 in Houston, Texas.  Their Galen said his parents attended the premier.

A writer of one of his obituaries described it this way:

…Dean began recording in the late 1950’s including some rockabilly singles.

In 1967, he hit paydirt with an old fiddle tune titled “Cotton Eyed Joe” for KIKR Records. The song dated back many generations and had been recorded in 1941 by both Adolph Hofner and Bob Wills.

“It was a song that I heard as a kid,” Al said. “No one had ever heard of the song. It had died. I had a cowboy from South Texas come up to me and ask if I knew ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’ I said I did, but I had not sung it in years. We sat down and taught the guys in my band, note for note, how I remembered the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’”

The “Cotton Eyed Joe” inspired a new round dance polka for couples. This dance was adapted into a simplified version as a nonpartner waist-hold, spoke line routine. Heel and toe polka steps were replaced with a cross-lift followed by a kick with two-steps. The lift and kick are sometimes accompanied by shouts of “whoops, whoops,” or the barn yard term “bull shit”, mimicking the act of kicking off barnyard muck. .

“This guy found a girl to dance with every time that we would play ‘Cotton Eyed Joe,'” Dean recalled. “He started kicking around on the dance floor and the poor girl walked off in the middle of the dance. Every time we had a show he would ask us to play the song and he would drag a poor girl out on the dance floor and every time she would walk off. It started to spread from there and now everyone does the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.'”

The song would become a standard in bars, clubs and dance halls all over the United States and make Al Dean and the Allstars a much sought after commodity on the music circuit.

Eventually it became a family affair with wife, Maxine, and sons, Galen and Gary joining the band.  In the early days, Maxine’s two brothers, Julius Ray Whitley and Albert Whitley were part of the band.  In South Texas if you needed something to do on a Saturday night, you would ask, “Where is Dean playing?”

Maxine played drums.  In this early photo her brothers, Albert Whitley and Julius Ray Whitley were to the right of Al Dean.

In this later photo sons have joined their parents.  Left to right, Gary Callaway, Al Dean and Galen Callaway.

The South Texas Music Walk of Fame honors music and music professionals with local ties.  On June 3, 2017 he and his band, Al Dean and the All Stars,  were inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame along with five other inductees in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The other were:  Chris Perez, the Texas Jazz Festival, Andrew Moore, Beto y Los Fairlanes and Wanda Gregory.  Past inductees include Kris Kristofferson (from Brownsville, Texas),  George Strait and Selena.  

Marker at Water Street Market

The ribbon cutting begins!

Son Gary Callaway cutting the ribbon on the star assisted by former band member, Allen Pollard.  In back from left to right, Maxine, Rick Maguglin, former band member, and son Galen Callaway

His career spanned over fifty years as he continued to perform into his eighties; his last professional appearance was in June of 2016.  He died in October of that year.   A portion of State Highway 16 north of his hometown of Freer will be dedicated as “Al Dean Memorial Highway.”  Over the years about forty musicians were part of the All Stars.  This star was for Al Dean and all the All Stars who ever played in the band.

Al Dean in his later years.  Left to right Al Dean, Maxine, sons Galen and Gary Callaway

He was my first cousin.

FRIDAY FOTO: El Dia de los Muertos Street Festival


Dead of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and in parts of the United States that honors the dead.  Traditions include making private ofrendas (altars) to remember and honor the dead and visiting graves with gifts for the departed.  A form of it was celebrated in Mexico prior to Spanish colonization and was gradually integrated into the Catholic church’s holidays, All Saints Day (November 1)  and All Souls Day (November 2).

On October 29 Husband and I attended El Dia de Los Muertos Street Festival in downtown Corpus Christi.  Here are  photos by Husband, of course.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-35

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-54Entering the festival on a beautiful afternoon.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-1Cute couple!

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-11Ofrendas (altars) were set up in an old movie theater, the Rialto.  This was a public one where people could participate by bringing photos, gifts, chrysanthemums or remembrances of loved ones.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-7This ofrenda was not traditional but it was playfully wicked.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-21Flowers and fruit were left out for Harambe, the gorilla who was shot in a Cincinnati zoo this year to save a child.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-20This beautiful one was for Abraham Lincoln.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-9This more traditional ofrenda honored many deceased family members.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-13For a token donation for the restoration of the Rialto Theater, one could choose a paper flower and write a message in memory a loved one.  I left a message for a niece who would have appreciated the art.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-28A happy face!

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-27A handsome hombre!

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-29Not a typical festival couple.

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-44What is a festival without a car show?

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-33Nice Caddy!

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-43Ready to rock and roll!

2016-10-29-day-of-the-dead-50Mural on the tunnel from uptown to downtown Corpus Christi.

A native American Indian group performed songs accompanied by drums.  At the end the older leader reminded us that we are all brothers of this Earth and that we should care of each other as we take care of our home, Earth.  We should all be able to agree with that.

PINK PLANE ON THE FLIGHT DECK!


2016-10-18-uss-lex-pink-plane

Sitting proudly on the flight deck of the USS Lexington is a plane that has gone pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.   A press release described it this way.

“The USS Lexington is excited to announce the very first F9F-8 Cougar painted in pink. The F9F-8 Cougar will be displayed on the flight deck, for all to see, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

For the first time in history, it will be showcased in the color “Heliconia”, a vibrant shade of pink. The idea was presented by the Director of Operations & Exhibits, Rusty Reustle, from a technique he observed Disney using while filming Pearl Harbor. Dishwashing liquid is applied to latex paint and prevents the paint from becoming permanent.  The F9F-8 Cougar is the swept wing version of its forerunner, the F9F Panther — Grumman’s first jet fighter plane. The Blue Angels flew with the F9F-8 and one –8T from 1955 to 1958. The USS Lexington chose a fighter plane in support of all who have fought and continue to fight the battle of cancer.”

(Scenes from the movie,” Pearl Harbor“- 2001, were filmed on the USS Lexington and starred Ben Affleck.)

pinkjet2016ABOVE:  Rocco Montesano, Executive Director; Rusty Restule, Director of Operations & Exhibits; Leon Root, Chief of Maintenance
BELOW:  USS Lexington Crew (employees) & Board Members

The jet will remain on display in pink through the month of October and then will be power washed back to its original color.  The USS Lexington rests in Corpus Christi Bay, just across the ship channel from downtown Corpus Christi, Texas.

(Here is a post from last year, “Boobs and Betty Bombers”, when I joined at team from the Lex to raise money for the American Cancer Society.)

Celebrating the Autumn Equinox with Honeymoon Mead


2016-09-21-autumal-equinox-7

The word “honeymoon” originated from the tradition of giving newly weds a moon’s supply (month’s) of mead on their wedding night. This sweet mead is balanced by a delicate oaking in bourbon. Complex & rich in taste. – From the website of Rohan Meadery

 

 

MEAD: An alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains or hops.  The alcoholic content ranges from about 8% to more than 20%.  The defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the beverages’s fermentable sugar is derived from honey.  It may be still, carbonated, or naturally sparkling; dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.  Mead was produced in ancient history thoughout Europe, Africa and Asia. (Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago Husband and I took a day trip to Rohan Meadery, a small meadery situated between the south central Texas towns of La Grange, Round Top and Fayetteville.  We enjoy visiting wineries but had never been to a meadery and did not know that Texas has seven meaderies of which Rohan Meadery is the oldest.  There is a modest tasting room where we sampled five each.  We found most to be too sweet for us, but we did find that the Honeymoon mead was quite good –  smoothly semi-sweet yet dry but with a hint of something stronger.   The meadery has its own bee hives and chickens range freely.

2016-09-21-autumal-equinox-5

Our alter set to celebrate the Autumn Equinox this evening.

While in the area we also visited the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center  and the Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites  Just outside of La Grange is where the Chicken Ranch, made famous by the movie “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, was located.  Apparently the descendants of the Germans and Czechs that settled in the area in the mid-1800s were fairly tolerant of prostitution at the time.

May you find peace and light as we begin another season and embrace the beauty and possibilities of each day.  Cheers!

equinox