2018 Winds Down

At the end of 2017, I decided my mantra for 2018 would be “The Year of Positive Change”.  Well, I’ve come to learn that “positive change” is a relative term, and in the wise words of those who came before me:  “Be careful what you ask for”.  But because I so firmly believe in my 2018 slogan, I have come to accept as positive every change that has occurred this year. 

Then again, some of those changes are undoubtedly positive, like the five-month project I was able to complete in mid-July working with Natalie, a BTNEP bird conservation biologist monitoring 50 nest boxes for prothonotary warblers in two locations.  In the Mandalay Wildlife Refuge, we captured and banded 5 new females and 19 chicks.  At Lake Palourde we captured and banded 30 new females and banded 61 checks.  The work conditions were very hot by the end of the project, but the work was very rewarding, and I’m very grateful to have been part of the project.

Below are photos taken from the last two trips to Mandalay and Palourde.  They’re a hodge-podge of photos, but I think you’ll enjoy them anyway.  Remember to click on image to see full-size version.

And then there were my favorite Green Herons that revealed themselves during the last visit to both places.  They’re my favorite because of their brilliant coloring, shyness, and quirky behavior and calls.

And other swampy things . . .

I spent my birthday working on the project in July, and we ran out of gas on the way back in.  Natalie and I took turns paddling back, and luckily three generations of men in a fishing boat came along and towed us the rest of the way.  It’s the first time in all my years of boating that I’ve run out of gas, and I wasn’t nearly as embarrassed as I thought I might have been. All’s well that ends well, because I still managed to meet up with Dotter for a nice birthday lunch, which turned out to be a very nice surprise lunch with two of my closest girlfriends from out of town. Ever seen a grown woman scream at a fine-dining establishment?  Now THAT was rather embarrassing!  

Life changed again less than a month after this project ended.  We added another granddaughter to the family.  Yes y’all, Termite is now a father!  Many of you have kept up with his antics for the past 11 years, from a boy to a man, and now a father.  Welcome Kysleigh Elizabeth to the family.  We call her Ky for short.  She’s now almost three months old. I didn’t know it was possible for my heart to hold so much for love for yet another little girl.  They are just so precious–just like everybody said!

Lastly, I experienced some personal health scares and struggles since the project ended, but I won’t go into details except to say that I’m on the mend and getting back into the swing of things slowly but surely, and I have a clean bill of health now.  I’ve continued to do the monthly radio show.  Camp business has been very slow, and the tours have been non existent since my boat is blocked in by water hyacinth.  Nothing to do there but wait for them to die back so I can resume with my wetland tours.  I’m looking forward to getting back out on the water on a regular basis and hopefully catching some speckled trout and sharing photos.  

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and I’m planning to test out a new recipe this T-day.  If it’s a keeper, I’ll share the recipe with you later! 

So friends, I’ve really missed hearing about your lives and how things are going with you.  Did anybody do any summer preserving?  Summer vacations?  Fall trips to see the leaves?  Tell me what’s been going on in your world!



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  1. I’ve missed your column. My prayers that things smooth out for you. We’ve spent a lot of time in Drs offices but, in September, we were discussing how much we missed a co-worker of my husbands that retired last year and he and his wife moved to Ohio. That was on a Sunday evening. I got up Monday, had hubby take car to have it tuned and oil changed and filled up while I dug out suitcases. I spent that day and Tuesday getting ready to be away for a couple of weeks. Wednesday morning, we finished loading up, sent the kids texts that we were gone and headed north. Actually northeast. We took our time stopping frequently to stretch our old bodies out and enjoy views. We went thru Texarkana, across Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and into Ohio. We stopped for the night when we were tired except the evening we were heading from Kentucky to Ohio. We got stuck in a mountain pass for 4 1/2 hours and moved about 2 football fields. We were lucky. I always carry snacks, drinks, tissue, paper towels, etc. Folks were getting out of their vehicles and walking around visiting others. And it was heavily wooded on a few feet from us so that you had privacy if needed. We finally arrived in Ohio and stopped at the first half decent motel at 10:30.

    Hubby got to go to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. We had planned to tour the Grand ‘Ol Opry but, it had poured down rain. We did see the reproduction of Loretta Lynns childhood home in Butcher Holler or is it Hollow. It rained on us most of the way to our friends. We arrived Saturday morning. Had a wonderful week with them. They have a home that was part of the underground railroad. Still has part of the tunnel that collapsed in basement and still has the hiding room. We went to different Amish areas and when we finally started home, my car was loaded with coolers of fresh produce and cheeses. We came back across Indiana, Illinois and Missouri and headed south thru Arkansas to Ft. Smith to visit our nieces and their families. And to share some of the fresh foods. We spent 3 days coming home and stopped in Missouri at a wine outlet where I picked up some of the favorites of my kids. Then I spotted an outlet for name brand knives. I stopped and picked up a new Wusthoff Chefs knife for a third of the original price. I do like it. It isn’t as heavy as my big chefs knife. I saw chefs sets that cost over $1500!! And that was the outlet price!

    It was a wonderful vacation. Wished we could have stayed longer. I think Ohio is a beautiful area and everyone was so friendly. We also went into Pennsylvania which was about 2 blocks from their home. If you ever get a chance, go to Sugar Creek and visit the Der Dutchman’s Restaurant and cheese shop. You won’t regret it.

    1. Cammy, what a grand adventure you and hubby had! It is so wonderful that you found the time and energy to pack up and go visit old friends. And then to gather special things to bring back home and share with others. Thank you for your prayers and for sharing this with us! I’ve never been to Ohio but I bet the weather was nicer than the south this time of year! We’ve had way too much rain and can’t seem to have more than two mornings below 60 degrees. It’s good to be back here, and I hope to post more regularly after I’m able to get back on the water more often. Much love to you and yours!

  2. Glad to hear more about what has been going on in your life. We’ve both been so busy we haven’t had a chance to talk. I’m glad your year of positive change has been that! You remember mine was the year of confidence. I believe that has happened for me like yours happened for you. We will have to come up with our next year’s mantra in December. Fall finally came here – after winter. We went right from summer to an early winter and now back to some beautiful fall weather. I have been getting our and enjoying some hiking and rock hounding. I hope to meet up with you in December. I’ll let you know of my plans when I know what they are. Continued positive change to you for the rest of the year! I hope there is lots more!

    1. Happy to hear your year of confidence is being fulfilled! I’d say teaching an Etsy class is pretty self-confirming! I think my 2019 mantra will be “More Positive Change”!! I heard there was already some snow in NM. Did you have any? I envy your hiking adventures, and the photos are breathtakingly beautiful. What a beautiful place you live. sure let me know your plans and keep on building that confidence! See you in December, friend!

  3. Welcome baby Ky and so pleased for another Elizabeth in our family. She’s delicious. Congratulations to Mom and Dad. Looks like Vivie approves.

    I followed your Mandalay project with relish. Lovely pictures and ever so grateful that y’all do the work that the wildlife will flourish for generations. Sweaty and sometimes yucky work. Glad those guys came to the rescue!

    I hope you’re feeling and doing better now my dearest friend. I will see you soon. Love & hugs.

    1. It’s been an eventful few months for many of us, hasn’t it cuz? You’re in my thoughts often, and I hope you’re hanging tough and getting the rest you need to stay strong for the tasks at hand. Sending much love your way!

  4. I have missed your posts. Now that the cooler weather has FINALLY made it’s presence, We’ll both be able to take a deep breath. Having to go to Ms every week to cut grass then come home to cut grass takes a lot of time. We usually spend at least one night in Ms. Then of course I visit with Daddy at the nursing home, go to church, grocery shop, etc. You get the picture. I’m going to enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace. A trip to DeCade would be very nice too!
    Your girls are real cuties. I hope you’re able to spend a good bit of
    time spoiling them! Being a grandparent is great. Get as many kisses in while you can, because there will come a day when they THINK they’re too old.

    1. Hi Steffi – it’s great keeping up on social media, but to me there’s nothing as comforting as reading a comment right here like the old days. I’m hoping to get back here more often, well, once I get my mojo back! Meanwhile, I think this morning before I take the mudboat into town for repairs, I’ll post the dressing recipe again. Haven’t had time to kitchen test the new one I had in mind . . . . Oh, yes, I’m enjoying those little girls so much. Being a grandparent IS great! And I’ll take your advice. I’ll do a post after I make it out to Decade! Happy Thanksgiving!