Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Good Dog's Visit

I received a surprise phone call last week—an out-of-town relative was coming for a visit! 

Just when I was overwhelmed with sadness and frustration and loss of plan (over not yet owning an RV), the Good Dog came to town and gave me the best of his goodness.  I had not seen this Good Dog in over a year; I’ve never spent a lot of time with him.  I wasn’t sure if he would remember me.

And so I stood outside, waiting in my driveway for his arrival, and as soon as he saw me, his entire body started wagging with happy greeting!

This Good Dog is the best trained I’ve ever seen.  He doesn’t jump; he doesn’t bark; he doesn’t pull on his leash.  And most amazing, when his Mom takes him into a new surrounding (such as my home) she slowly walks him (with his step just behind hers) into each room that he is “allowed” to go into.  If she hasn’t “introduced” him to a room, he won’t go into it.  No gates are required!
Even though my kitchen is open to my living room, and even though I have a powder room connecting to the living room, he will not enter either of those rooms, unless invited into them.  He will not enter into them even if no human is around!

His Mom also trained him to be “introduced” to the people-stuff that he can interact with, and if not “introduced” to it, he leaves it alone.  For example, at his home, he knows he can sit and lay down on the sofa because she introduced him to it.  At my home, his Mom did not introduce him to any furniture, so he never jumped on any furniture.  
But what I love most of all, is how happy and confident this Good Dog is—and what a great life he now has. You see, he was a rescue dog from a shelter.  And the really sad story?  He was in that shelter over a YEAR before my relative, His Mom, found and rescued him, accepting everything about him including the name they gave him:  Chicito. 

Why was he in the shelter so long?  Probably because he is completely blind in his right eye and also suffers from the large-black-dog syndrome that shelters describe. 

The shelter told his Mom that a pit bull got hold of him and damaged his right eye.  Looking at him, you can’t tell.  The vet didn’t believe it as he was so agile on his leash.  But when she brought her thumb close to his eye, from the blind side, he didn’t even blink.  And it is painfully obvious that he has no sight on his right side as he occasionally walks into an object to the right of his view, such as a park bench or chair.

This Good Dog, Chicito, had no training until his Mom rescued him.  He was a frightened, damaged, two year old that didn’t know how to walk on a leash or how to trust humans.  I almost took a hard spill the first time I walked him on a sidewalk.  A car went by and he basically fell into me in fear, and I tripped over him.  Three years later?  He is a healthy, confident, happy Good One. 

His one good eye has all the Border Collie brightness you would expect.  He is smart as a whip.  He exudes love and a sense of family belonging that all of us crave.

So there I stood on my driveway, not knowing if he would remember me, and for the first time EVER, I saw him pull on his leash—coming toward me with that entire body wag that says “I’m thrilled to see you!”  Jump up on me?  Of course not.  But even his Mom was a bit surprised by his obvious exuberance at seeing me after all this time.

And if he really, really loves you, he’ll come and sit  on his back legs and extend both front legs, one at a time, ever so gently, for you to have and to hold.  (no food or treat involved).  He began this behavior awhile after his Mom had showered him with love and security. I've since read that this is a Border Collie behavior; their form of a really good hug.

Although not a good photo, it looks as if I’m lifting Mr. Chicito’s right paw in this photo.  In fact, he is extending it to me.  And when I take it, up comes the other paw!  And boy does he make eye contact with the warmest and smartest of self-awareness.

This other not-so-good photo shows his greeting.  His Mom tells me he doesn’t do this with just anyone:

I bought a doggy daybed last winter when I was hoping to adopt.  Mr. Chicito let me know it was perfectly comfortable.  Even though the mat was larger than his body, he liked to hang his head off of it, just like Greyhounds that I’ve met.  

Note the ear perked up.  This Good Boy might look asleep, but he was an active listener to a relative’s conversation.  (Of course we were mainly talking about how wonderful he is—what Good Boy wouldn’t listen to two women sending praise his way?)

This past week brought a lot of much needed rain and little outdoor time.  I decided to include a photo of Mr. Chicito and me from two years ago.  He looks just the same.  But as his Mom noted, I’ve now got a good bit more grey hair!  

(And yes, I have him on a leash—but the magic of Photoshop let me erase it.)

And when will I see this Good Boy again?  I never know.  I just give thanks for the days that I do, and the joy that he brings my way.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sharing my Lessons of NOT Buying an RV (Part 2)

If you read my blog yesterday, there is an easy question you could ask me:  “Why not have the dealership order another rig since that one had so many problems?”

The answer is today’s lesson learned—and a more difficult story to tell.
I wanted to title this blog post: Disrespecting the Product; Disrespecting the Work.

I could fill pages with stories of what happened during the PDI (Pre-delivery inspection) of the ordered RV.  I could fill pages with stories of visiting other dealerships, and what their sales people—and service people, do NOT know about the products they sell.

But to specifically answer your probable question:  I would not order another rig as I was shocked by how badly the service team treated the product line; I was shocked by the level of disregard the service team had for their critically important work.  They showed little respect or care for this expensive product; they showed no respect for the processes that should define how they work.

My emphasis yesterday was on the importance of being present during the PDI, to ensure the critical systems are appropriately exercised and tested.
Today, unfortunately, I must emphasize the importance of being present during the PDI (or any service work) to ensure the RV is not damaged or configured into a damaging state.

A few examples? 

This rig's tires would have been overfilled by 15 psi if I had not participated in PDI.  This may seem a little thing; but especially for this-type rig, not only would there be risk of a tire blow-out at highway speeds, but the overly rough ride could cause the structural housing and/or subsystems to be damaged.  There is a reason that owner’s manuals emphasize correct tire pressure.  In this case, the error was on the order of 30%!

The electrical system was operated with an unknown “float” or malfunction.  The sensor warning was ignored by the service person until I pointed it out to the service manager.  At the point of my walking away, this manager was disassembling the main feed of shore power to the rig.  I know from my work-career that uncovering electrical float is both time consuming and detailed work that is prone to error if the root cause is not confirmed.  The fact that the sensor alert was ignored speaks volumes.

Remember my story yesterday, on monitoring the grey and black tank system as I filled sinks and flushed the toilet?  Well, the monitoring system was NOT working correctly.  I pointed it out, and a service person began disassembling the tank housing to test the sensor. 

Now the sight of an electric drill around an RV’s tank system is never a good one—as a minimum, sensors can be left partially detached, leading to displacement during future travels.  But that is not the worst that can happen:

What I heard was a sudden burst of cussing and scrambling; a quick second later I heard, and saw, water pouring (not leaking) out of the grey tank—from places never intended to leak.  The tank system was damaged.  Seasoned RVers know the good and bad of travels revolving around the integrity of the holding tank storage and dumping system.  As I stared at the water pouring out onto the concrete, I had that common phrase pop into my mind:  You Break It, You Buy It!

But what perhaps was most upsetting—and showed total disrespect for this product line, occurred when the electric tongue jack would not descend (I was inside and not immediately aware; and I have little faith in coincidence--the electrical problems could have a common root source).  

While I was not watching, a senior service person used the stabilizer pads to carry the full weight of the trailer in lieu of the tongue jack.  For this particular rig, that is the ultimate no-no!  The structural system was compromised.  The service person knew this but had not bothered to correctly address the problem.  And if I had not been present at PDI, I would not have known, until perhaps a major structural separation occurred with “unknown” cause.  

(A side note: Some Class A’s have hydraulic “levelers” that carry the weight of the RV; that design is completely different than the stabilizers that complement a rig’s tongue and tires and cannot carry the weight without risking floor, wall or roof structural damage.)

And so there I was, looking at an expensive RV whose electrical, plumbing and structural systems were either damaged, compromised, or indicating anomalies of unknown origin.

Why do I emphasize the disrespect for the product?  For the work?  It’s not just the above stories.  It is about an RV being a home. 

When a service person is working on the outside of an RV, whether engine, plumbing, electrical, etc.—they will get dirty.  Asking them to have clean hands is kind of like asking an automotive mechanic NOT to get grease on their hands.  You can ask, but it will display that you don’t understand their work.

But when that same service person walks inside an RV, they are coming into a home.  And when they use these same hands to lean on a leather sofa, or use mechanic’s hands to push back curtains, to handle kitchen and bathroom appliances, or to handle fabric furnishings, they are speaking volumes of no respect for the buyer’s home.  And the buyer is standing there!—just imagine dropping off your RV for service work and NOT being present!  (I’ve watched such work at multiple dealerships—and cringed at what I saw)

Enough said—I can feel my blood pressuring creeping upward.

If you read this and think I’m dealing with a problem dealership, I would say that is NOT why I’m writing this blog post.  I’ve visited many dealerships; I’ve spoken to dozens of sales people.  And my position is magnified when I address the sales arm of dealerships:  I find little respect for the product line they sell.

Go visit an RV dealership—but first do your homework on the systems and capabilities of the products they sell.

Ask a salesperson the size of the grey and black tank—watch them search for a flyer to find the answer.  I’ve had one salesperson ask me what a grey and black tank were!

Ask a salesperson if the black tank has a back flush.  Watch them say, WHHHAAT?  When looking at Winnebago products, I had a salesman attempt to answer this question by saying Winnebago had discovered that black tank back flushes were not necessary so they deleted them.  I asked him why Winnebago included back flushes on their most expensive rigs.  He just stared at me like a deer caught in headlights.

I have no answers for the problem.  But I do have some thoughts:
1.   The RV industry is exploding with growth.  Rapid growth in any industry will lead to shortcuts; will lead to hiring of untrained or inexperienced personnel; will lead to a culture of complacency.
2.   The RV industry seems compromised by dealerships that carry a multitude of product lines.  These dealerships don’t demonstrate “team pride” over a product.  If I want to buy a new Ford truck, I go to a Ford dealership.  If I want to buy a Chevrolet, I go to a Chevrolet dealership.  But if I want to buy Brand X RV, I find myself at a dealership that also carries Brand Y, Z and a plethora of others—often anything from pop-up trailers to diesel pushers.  And push the products they do.
3.   If I’m not careful, I’ll go down the path of frustration over the missing pride-in-work syndrome that seems to be penetrating today’s work force.  I have my opinions, but I’ll hold off sharing them unless you offer to sit down and have a Shiner Bock with me, or even better, a day birding in the field.
And what now?  As mentioned yesterday, I’m pretty devastated over a long year with no RV.  Two almost buys; two bad experiences.  I need to take a break and rethink the path forward.  If you have suggestions, I’ll welcome them.
I may research “factory direct” product lines.  But I’m guessing that will be too limiting or too expensive.
For now I’ll day trip in this Gulf Coast heat, give thanks for the a/c of my stick house, and go out and put binoculars on my summer companions, the feathered Summer Texans.
And I promise, my next blog will be more pictures than words. The wonders of my wandering will be my focus.
There will be a path forward; I just can’t see it yet.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sharing my Lessons of NOT Purchasing an RV (Part 1)

I’ve had a really miserable week.  Partly because I’ve ended this week a bit under the weather; but mostly because I can’t tell you about owning a new RV, the good news that should have started this past week.

The call came to me a week ago Friday.  The new RV I ordered had arrived, and the dealership wanted me to arrive this past Tuesday to participate, per my purchase-order agreement, in the PDI (pre-delivery inspection).

And so I drove off at 4 a.m. this past Tuesday morning, feeling both stress over the amount of activity this day would require, and extremely excited to know that Tuesday evening should find me pulling my new RV into a commercial RV park, for the night, before a Wednesday drive back to my neck-of-the-woods.

Let me start at the end:

Fact 1: the specific new unit I ordered, from a dealership associated with a manufacturer well-known for its long history of quality product, had multiple SIGNIFICANT issues uncovered during the PDI.

Fact 2:  the service department’s actions and reactions to the rig’s anomalies caused MULTIPLE instances of immediate damage or potential future damage.
Because of Fact 1 and Fact 2, Tuesday afternoon found me driving away from the dealership without the rig, choking back emotional frustration, AND with my original deposit refunded to me by the dealership.  

I was exhausted and dehydrated.  I had no RV for the traveling lifestyle that is so important to me.  By Tuesday night I was throwing up at home and entering a multi-day loss-for-words process.

The good in this story is that I did not make a significant or costly mistake. 

The good is that I was not harassed nor bullied by the dealership.  In fact, when it became apparent in MY mind that I was NOT going to purchase this damaged new rig, the service manager went with me to talk to the sales management team.  He did not have to do that.  As you might guess, the conversations were not easy.  But they were not angry conversations (in my presence); my version of integrity would not allow that.

The good in this story is that I was NOT an ignorant customer.  I knew the details of how the systems on this rig should work, and I knew the importance of being present for the PDI.  If I had not been involved in the PDI, but simply shown up for the usual customer “familiarization training” after purchase—it is most likely that I would have driven away with a mal-functioning and damaged rig.  How many RVers do that?  A lot.  I hear them talk about their lemons.

So I’m not really sure where to go with this particular story, as I don’t want to vent about the multiple problems uncovered and/or created.  I decided sharing my life-lessons, based on this experience (and former successful RV purchase experiences), might be most useful.  If you know someone considering an RV purchase, you might want to share it. 

(This blog post will focus on being a knowledgeable buyer.  The next post will focus on being a wise buyer, when it comes to ensuring no harm is done to your rig.)

Part 1:  Be a Knowledgeable Buyer:

1.    Do NOT ever sign a purchase agreement for a new or used RV without negotiating, in writing ON the purchase agreement, to be present during the PDI (pre-delivery inspection).  Dealerships will try and tell you they can’t do this; dealerships will try and tell you that you can NOT be in their service bay.  But if you have NOT signed a purchase agreement, and it is obvious that this nonnegotiable request is the only reason your signature has not landed on the contract page, my three-time experience, at different dealerships, is that the dealership WILL agree to this.

2.   Make sure your presence at the beginning of PDI, and during all aspects of PDI, is written onto the purchase agreement (contract).   Make sure the salesperson has coordinated with the service department manger before you or the salesperson signs the purchase order.  I’ve had one experience where the sales MANAGER said yes, but the service MANAGER said no.  I requested they talk to THEIR manager, the DEALERSHIP MANAGER.  He said yes.  This point is very important:  if only the salesperson was involved in your PDI negotiation, you could show up to a hostile service team not expecting your presence.  If the dealership will not agree to your PDI presence being written on the purchase order, I believe you are at the wrong dealership.  I’d walk away. 

3.   Do NOT treat your presence during the PDI as a training session to ask questions.  Do your homework.  Have the owner’s manual and other pertinent specifications studied BEFORE arriving. Most owners’ manuals are available via the web.  Be knowledgeable about the major systems of your RV, from the psi for the tires to the method of waste-water tank management, to the operation of electrical and plumbing systems.  Service personnel are not training personnel.  But if you demonstrate knowledgeable, useful, hands-on help, they may just teach you more than you know.  And it may turn out that they learn something from your knowledge.

4.   If you need a cheat-sheet, create one before you go and have it tucked into your pocket.  Don’t pull it out to lecture or advise the service department; pull it out for yourself if you can’t remember important information.  I walk away from the bay if I need to look at my cheat-sheet.  To develop my cheat-sheet, I ask myself: What are the critical systems that would cause me to be side-lined on the side of the road?  What key system failures would prevent me from continuing a camping trip?   I arrive at the PDI knowing how those systems should nominally work and what checks SHOULD be done during PDI to confirm proper operation.

5.   Be prepared to work and be helpful.  If I showed up at PDI appearing to be looking for service mistakes or judging the service person’s work, I would not be welcome.  I make it clear from the beginning that I’m present to help if they wish, for their successful day, and to make sure that the rig is thoroughly checked out, for my successful day.  I’ve done everything from holding a flashlight for the service person inspecting (or replacing) an item difficult to see; to running the water in sinks and shower (to fill the grey tank and watch the monitoring of the grey tank fill); to flushing the toilet (to fill the black tank and watch the monitoring of the black tank fill).  These last two examples are CRITICAL as they gave me assurance that no water overflow would occur while the service person was performing other PDI work.  The added bonus:  you can evaluate the accuracy of the monitoring system.

6.   Arrive dressed to be working with service personnel.  Closed-toed shoes, relaxed-fit jeans, loose-fitting T-shirt and baseball cap are my attire.  I knew this past Tuesday would have 95 degree heat, but I also knew the service personnel would not be in shorts; neither would I.

7.   Support the service department’s order of events for conducting the PDI; be a follower of their process not a dictator of your cheat-sheet material.  Don’t ask open-ended questions about what they are planning to do.  Remember, from their perspective, they’d rather you not be there.  Proving yourself helpful, by THEIR definition of helpful is important.  And THEIR definition starts with the unspoken rule of:  Don’t get in their way.

8.   If something seems wrong, or missed, or incorrect, speak up then—don’t wait until the end of PDI.  Speak up with what my mother would call a “helpful voice” rather than an accusatory voice. 

9.   Be aware that the service department and sales department are different departments.  I would NOT interact with the sales department during the PDI, until the PDI is successfully completed and I am ready to complete the sale and purchase the rig; OR until I’m certain that the number of off-nominal issues found during the PDI (or caused by the PDI) result in my not purchasing the rig.

The Best PDI will probably find a few problems—don’t be surprised.  

I was involved in the PDI and successful purchase of a 28’ Airstream a few years ago.  I noted that the plumbing inspection and testing did not involve the exercising of water cut-off valves.  At my request, two plumbing shut-off valves were exercised that would not have been checked if I had not been present.  Both cut-off valves leaked in the “off” position.  On discovery, the service person replaced both valves as a part of the PDI.  The result:  I never had a problem with the rig during its multi-year use.  If this cut-off valve check and replacement had not occurred, the first time I shut off the water to the toilet (a step in my method of cleaning it), water would have leaked from this valve over the floor.  A service-warranty trip would have been required during peak traveling weather.  I would NOT have been a happy camper.

Remember:  no PDI will inspect and test every function of an RV.  Do your homework on the critical systems; understand what should be tested to ensure proper working order; talk to other RVers on their good and bad experiences of what does and doesn’t tend to fail; and be a positive, knowledgeable customer.

So without telling tales about what was wrong with the rig I ordered, I can say with a glass half-full:  I did NOT make a costly and frustrating mistake.  I did NOT buy a problem rig because I was a Knowledgeable Customer.

But do know, I am so very sad and frustrated and a bit distraught over NOT having a forward plan for my beloved RVing lifestyle.

My next blog post will finish with my lesson of not purchasing this RV.  And this week? I’ll go on a daytrip, for that’s the best I can do; for now.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Galveston's Tree Sculptures: Part II

A few more photos of the post-Hurricane Ike tree sculptures on Galveston Island.  (the story of these sculptures is in yesterday's Part I post)

The first photo, of this Good Dog, shows how these sculptures were created in place, mostly in front yards of private residences:

When I was a little girl, sand dollars were common finds when walking Galveston's beaches:

May all your days be birdy days...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Photos of Galveston's Tree Sculptures: Part I

Hurricane Ike hit the upper Texas Gulf Coast on September 12, 2008.  As with most hurricanes, the saltwater storm surge was most destructive.  Hurricane Ike hit Galveston with a 15-foot storm surge.

Galveston’s rather famous gulf-facing seawall performed well, protecting many a business and residence from the full force of this storm.  But the back bayside of this barrier island, including the Strand’s shopping district and surrounding century-old Victorian homes, caught the literal backwash of this salty storm surge.  The salty surge stayed multiple days, and all the rooted living-things sat in this excessive salt bath, unable to make their escape. 

My first visibility to Ike’s saltwater damage was on the far west-side of Galveston; that long, narrow spit of island not protected by the seawall: Galveston Island State Park.  The park did not open to day visitors until six months after Ike’s arrival; and longer still for overnight camping.  I was among the earliest day visitors. 

I remember standing that March 2009 and looking out on the complex diversity of bayside landscape, all black dead.  I confess to wondering if a planned fire had left the entire landscape of tree, shrub and grass charred in black.  I asked a park ranger and the reality of my ignorance was confirmed:  submersion in a multi-day saltwater storm surge had burned every living plant.

That spring day there was no green; charred black was the contrast to the lovely spring-blue sky.  I did not take photographs; nor would I photograph a funeral.  I felt sucker-punched by Mother Nature.

The state park’s complex habitat of shrubs and grasses would just this 2014 springtime seem awash in a healthy bloom.  But the state park’s beloved tree motte, well known for attracting spring migrant birds, remains as a grouping of snags; standing dead trees whose roots were burned to death, by salt water.

In April of 2009 the Texas Forest Service and Galveston County Master Gardeners estimated over 40,000 dead and dying trees on Galveston Island.  With the exception of palm trees, few species were spared.  It is hard to describe the pain of seeing the grand century-old Live Oaks standing leafless; dead. 

To say the landscape of old residential neighborhoods was laid bare is an understatement.  The lush shade of trees, some planted after the epic hurricane of 1900, was, and is, now mostly gone.

But humans are gifted with survival instinct, even when Mother Nature strikes Her blow.  A Galveston Island Tree Conservancy was created, actively working their plan for planting a diversity of trees, numbering in the thousands of replanted saplings.
I’m pleased to say that the Texas Ebony is among them, my favorite RGV tree.  The Texas Ebony is surprisingly tolerant of salt storm surge.  I wish I could say the same for my beloved Live Oak. 

Today I wanted to share a first set of my photos from last Friday’s daytrip to see the tree sculptures, carved out of the storm-killed trees.  These sculptures were carved in place, literally growing out of the stumps still rooted in the ground.  They stand mostly in the front and side-yards of the old Victorian private-homes. 

Three sculptors started late 2009, working with chainsaws and chisels and other tools of the trade, and transformed the sad memory of former life into a whimsical celebration of the value of life, after death.

If you want to learn more about these tree sculptures, or plan a visit to see them, simply Google:  Galveston tree sculptures.  (Click on these images to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Galveston's Summertime Flowers

Summertime tends to slow me down.  I look back on my younger days and wonder that I once played tennis at high noon—just for the challenge of heat and sun.  Sunscreen?  That term was not in my vocabulary. 

These days my morning bike-rides and evening walks remind me how much I love the bayside breeze; and how much I now struggle with the summertime heat and humidity.  I am a Gulf Coastie; an aging Gulf Coastie.

Long hours birding in the field will wait for cooler temperatures; but that doesn’t keep me indoors.  Daytrips continue; noontime hiking (and tennis) does not. 

And so this past Friday found me photographing Galveston’s post-Ike tree sculptures.  As I photographed these wooden sculptures, I found my eyes drawn to the living testaments that love this island’s noontime heat and humidity: the summertime flowering plants.

I thought I’d pause from the development of sculpture photos and share a few of Galveston’s summer flowers.  Aren’t they cheerful?

This last photo is an unknown flower.  The bloom was tiny, on the end of one long stem, on a solo plant that I almost missed. I want to turn this flower into an orchid, but I’m not sure that is correct as I couldn’t find a similar bloom on the web.  If you know the name of this lovely flower, please share:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Fun: Gull-Tern Speak

I can think of lots of human expressions for these photos.  With these topics, I’m guessing you can too!

Give some gull, some crow:

Gull to the end of the line:

Shy tern of the head:

Tern away to contemplate:

Have a restful weekend!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Brazos Bend Moments

Today was a good one.  I placed myself on my bicycle at 7:00 a.m. and can now claim a two hour bike ride.  Today’s bike ride once again reminded me that I’ve let myself get WAY out of shape, and that daily exercise needs to again become my lifestyle.  

Today’s two hour ride, so early for me, also reminded me that I seem to do so much better facing the rest of the day, if I start the day outdoors.

But today being a good one didn’t stop with this insight.  Good sight surprised me today.

The two-week-later phone call finally came this afternoon:  my new glasses were ready for pick-up!  It has been several years since I’ve been fitted with new glasses.  I can’t stop looking far and close:  I can see!

I’m learning to hold tight to such good days; good moments in life.  I’ll confess that I’ve never liked the expression “living in the moment” and I’ve never been good at the serendipitous adventures that come from a moment’s notice.

But holding good moments seems more precious than silver or gold.  Maybe that is why I enjoy spending so much time developing the RAW images that I shoot when out in the field.  The photos freeze that moment in time; and those are the moments that I seem to most enjoy.

I made it a late night last night, reviewing and developing an assortment of recent photos.  Today seems to be the right day to share these Brazos Bend moments, lovely in my memory.

A probable family grouping of Blue-winged Teal, and their reflections, gifted a moment of peace and tranquility:

One of my favorite spots at Brazos Bend; let’s call it Coot Hollow. These two American Coots were definitely in-love this springtime day, seeming to seek out a quiet corner to, well you know:

And “Green Island”, another one of my favorite spots:

As I walked and birded, something about an unusual curve, in the weathering of a snag’s stump, caught my eye.  Binoculars first, then an attempt at macro-photography with my 400 mm lens gifted me this surprising moment:

And then there are my favorite Winter Texans:  the Yellow-rumped Warblers.  I will never grow tired of watching their beauty; their poses that speak volumes about the contemplative spirit of human nature:

And my favorite study from last night. I’d love to claim this Yellow-rumped Warbler as a self-portrait:

Thanks for sharing these moments with me!