Port “A” Revisited

Port A surfside

Even short moments sitting on a beach or exploring new birding venues can boost spirits and alleviate the summer doldrums. And what nicer way to revisit Port Aransas than with my daughter, grandsons and friends. The beauty of traveling with them now is that the burden of all the “doing” of things is not on me. Yes, I have finally arrived at that sweet moment in life when I can be totally free of responsibility and confidently place my care and well-being into the hands of loved ones. I LOVE IT!!!!

Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center

After a Saturday sitting in the canopy shade on the beach, listening to the surf, and being caressed by the ocean breeze, I set out early Sunday morning to explore some birding spots I had not seen before. First up was the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center located adjacent to the water sewage facility. Some might think this to be an unlikely place to encounter birds of any merit, but I was richly rewarded that morning. Walking through the gate and onto a well constructed boardwalk that snakes out over the salt marshes, I had the entire place to myself and immediately enjoyed three Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring high in the clear skies above me. Black Skimmers were flying low over the water ponds collecting breakfast, a Little Blue Heron flushed with my presence, a Common Gallinule creeped among the marshes closely followed by her baby chick, Cormorants, Black Vultures, Black-necked Stilts, Killdeer, Snowy and Great Egrets, one lonely Coot, gulls, terns, Tricolored Heron and a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks made for a nice birding morning.

Next stop was Wetland Park where I was greeted by American Avocets, White Ibis, Common Sandpipers and Marbled Godwits. This stop was a spectacular one for me since I was able to identify by behavior, a Reddish Egret White Morph cavorting in the shallows. Surrounded by Great and Snowy Egrets, he was easily identified by his dancing skills.

Reddish Egret White Morph
Marbled Godwit

Finally I visited Paradise Park, a very small swampish area located behind a local restaurant. A boardwalk twisted through the trees and as I strolled I spotted a GBH and then my third prize of the day, an Immature Little Blue Heron. Baffled by his white egret-looking body and light green legs, I finally realized what he was. Once again, location and behavior assisted me in the identification. Little Blues are mostly solitary and shy and even though this small pond is smack in the middle of a very urban area, it was well concealed by trees, brush, marshy reeds and brackish water.

Immature Little Blue Heron

My weekend was a great combination of family time combined with alone time. Great memories made in a close-to-home location.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule Chick

Happy bird searching!!!         

Trumpism Tweets

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Now more than ever in the internet age,  the old adage of “once a word is spoken it leaves its mark behind” carries great significance. Young people should be very cognizant of this since just one inappropriate post on social media might mean the difference between advancement in their chosen career field, termination from a coveted position or rejection from admission to a college of their choice.

Donald Trump obviously has no filter on his social media tweets. There is the real world and then there is Trump’s world as evidenced by a series of tweets and interviews throughout recent years. They are enlightening and relevant in today’s world since he was elevated to the Presidency. His past postings are evidence of the hypocrisy which floods his world on a permanent basis.

A few examples would include:

Travel tweets: “The habitual vacationer, @Barack Obama is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million+++while there is 20% unemployment”  December 27, 2011 

Fact: Obama’s travel cost over 8 years $97 million…Trump travel costs over 3 months-$21 million. At the current pace, Trump will outspend Obama travel costs in just one year

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Golf Tweets: “Can you believe that with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.” “President Obama not busy talking to congress about Syria..he is playing golf…go figure” October 13, 2014

Fact: 100 days  into presidency…tRump 19 golfing trips,  Obama 1.

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Syria Tweets: “We should stay the hell out of Syria, the “rebels” are just as bad as the current regime.WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OR LIVES AND $BILLIONS? ZERO” June 15, 2013

“AGAIN TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA-IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING” September 5, 2013

Fact: Obama in response to chemical warfare by Assad goes to Congress to request permission to punish Syria militarily. Republican congress refused. Trump doesn’t ask Congress and proceeds to fire 59 tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase… excuse…”vital to United States National Security.”

Transparency Tweet: “Why does Obama believe he shouldn’t comply with record releases that his predecessors did of their own volition? Hiding something? and “He is the least transparent President –ever–and he ran on transparency.” October 30,  2012

Fact: Early in his term, Trump announced that White House visitor logs would no longer be available for public review, but kept secret for five years past Trumps’ time in office. Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk in front of White House is closed to visitors. He also refuses to release his tax records.

Experience Tweet: “Obama is a disaster at foreign policy. Never had the experience or knowledge. He is not capable of doing the job.” September 12, 2012

Fact: tRump has zero military or political experience and I challenge anyone to define his foreign policy. He is delegating his Commander-in-Chief position to his generals.

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Diplomacy Tweet: “Obama has picked fights with our oldest friends”. Campaign speech April 2016.

Fact: tRump insulted Australia”s Prime Minister, bombed Syria and Afghanistan, alienated Mexico, fanned the flames of a nuclear war with North Korea, acknowledged Turkey’s self-proclaimed dictator wanna be, and embraced Putin as a great person he is “honored to meet” to mention just a few.

Obama Tweets: “President Obama is losing on so many fronts, in fact all fronts, that I am concerned he will do something totally irrational. He can’t lead!”  4:01 PM, 25 April 2014

Fact: Never in the history of the Presidency has the world thought so little of our leader. He has made America a laughing stock, is currently baiting North Korea into a nuclear confrontation and threatening military action in Venezuela. Listening to his unscripted “speeches” is like being immersed in a humongous word salad. With the vocabulary of a fifth grader at best, he is totally incapable of expressing his thoughts in a dignified, thoughtful, cohesive manner. The fate of our nation and perhaps of our planet lies in the hands of a narcissistic, bigoted, racist, misogynist sycophant.

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Stay tuned. Until he is removed from office, alternative facts and tweets will be the order of the day.

 

Fire & Fury, Locked and Loaded

 

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How has it come to this? History will not be kind to those in positions of power who are sitting idly by and doing nothing to stop the ignorant madman who indiscriminately uses fiery rhetoric to inflame distrust and chaos within our homeland as well as globally. His stupidity and childish insecurity may lead to a nuclear holocaust at the worst or at the very least, to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And if all of this is contrived as a distraction from the Russian probe, like some sort of reality television program, shame on him for creating stress and playing on the emotions of millions of people worldwide. Abuse of power is a horrible thing. Our Constitution has a provision for stopping this from happening but the spineless Republicans in Congress continue to make excuses for the inexcusable. In fact, we have moved from “no contact with foreign agents, to well maybe collusion but that isn’t illegal, to coordination with a foreign enemy, to do we really care if it is illegal since everything is wonderful” No way is this normal in a democratic society. We are witnessing the snail-like progression of a coupe, the demise of democracy and an attempt to move to an authoritarian government.

I miss the days of awakening free of angst that war may be imminent, that healthcare may be ripped from millions, that environmental protections are removed. I want normal again. I crave it.

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This man-child has been systematically dismantling the norms of common decency and with his filthy mouth has succeeded  in unleashing the scum hiding under rocks to spew their vile hatred towards anyone who may be slightly different from whom they perceive to be the only “blessed and chosen” people of their God.

I am sick of the professed “Christians” who are so un-Christ like in their behavior.  No way would Jesus condone what is happening to people of color, immigrants, children, the poor and aged of our nation. How is it “Christian” to blithely vote to remove healthcare from millions, eliminate programs that feed hungry children, and foment violence? These actions do not exist in my wheelhouse as examples of christian behavior.

Like so many others in the Resistance, I am exhausted by the daily assaults on my psyche. So we wait, with fear in our hearts, to see if the two man-child demagogues will launch the missiles heard round the world. Please wake up America and realize the dangers that are eroding your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Make sure you end up on the right side of history!

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Expressions of Grief

Road trips can be adventurous. I am dreaming of a moment in time when I can take an unplanned road trip with a gypsy attitude, traveling wherever the road leads me based on road signs, whims or just the desire to take “the road less traveled”. I have this desire to climb into my car and to start driving west, or north, or east to see parts of America that I have yet to experience. No reservations, no definitive plans, just drive and spontaneously do whatever feels right at that moment in time.

All the road trips of my life have been planned…to the beach, to baseball tournaments, to cities within easy reach of home or long adventures over seas to other lands. And along the road I have always been fascinated with roadside monuments erected to honor loved ones who perished as road warriors.  I find myself slowing, imagining the pain their families experienced and the love that spurred them to erect a monument to their lost loved one. These beautiful expressions of grief are reminders of the preciousness of life and how quickly circumstances can change, how quickly what matters the most can vanish. A reminder of just how fragile life really is. A reminder to take time to enjoy life’s journey.

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Safe travels everyone!!!

 

Two all beef patties,special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun or a “Nothing Burger”

How do you like your burger? Fully loaded or just meat and bun? We have a new type of burger in America now…a “Nothing Burger”! Lately this new term has taken the television waves by storm. I think if I hear one more Republican call the spy novel we are inhabiting right now a “Nothing Burger”, I may be nauseous. Just what is included in a “Nothing Burger”? Their so-called “Nothing Burger” includes an awful lot of Russian ingredients. It is loaded with alternative facts, prevarications, flat-out denials and a perverse refusal that any of those Russian secret sauce ingredients are present. My personal favorite, the “Fully Loaded Burger”, comes with true indisputable facts, evidenced based science, reality over perception…dates, times, players, secret meetings exposed, actual true information, a regular Snopes of the culinary world .

How does one forget a meeting with a Russian official? How does one forget a meeting with a Russian official where an interpreter is needed? Why has Trumpulthinskin never acknowledged Russian interference in our presidential election? Why does he appear to embrace Putin as his best friend? An autocrat who has robbed the Russian people of billions of dollars, Putin arranges the deaths of dissidents, invades other countries to promote the Russian agenda, eliminates media threats and rules with a heavy hand, all while added to his own personal coffers.  These are but a few of his transgressions. His agenda is always about rebuilding the power and might of Russia and what better way to do this than to destroy the credibility of American democracy.

Democracy is the Fully Loaded Burger. This burger makes your mouth water just at the sight of its “beautifulness”, full of wonderful pleasures that meld together to give one a satisfactory belly full of goodness and happiness throughout a lifetime. When you are the best, the competition is always trying to land a knock out punch and take your place. Trumpulthinskin and his minion’s collusion with the “Nothing Burger” are willing to do anything for a win even if that win means the death of morality, ethics, the demise of truth, the elimination of all that is so cherished by Americans. He is and continues to be Putin’s puppet.

I still believe that eventually the “Fully Loaded Burger” will prevail, that truth will triumph over lies, that goodness will deal a death-blow to evil, that “love WILL trump hate”. The competition is fierce though and we will have to be vigilant and strong, persisting and resisting to keep our “Fully Loaded Burger” the best of the best and assure the survival of truth.

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Always seek the truth, examine all sides of an argument, read to educate yourself about just what is at stake when we walk into a voting booth to choose the guiding hand for our nation. It may be painful to watch a news channel that may not support your beliefs but being uncomfortable can lead to enlightment or at least a better understanding of all sides of an issue. Your very life may depend upon the choice you make.

Happy bird searching followed by two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles onions on a sesame seed bun!

 

Acadia Birding Festival/Bar Harbor Maine

My annual extreme birding adventure took me to Bar Harbor Maine this year and a special visit to Acadia National Park, a spectacularly beautiful place famous for lobsters, several bird species specific to the region and some pretty awesome scenery. After all, what is not to like…ocean, mountains, beaches, great food and Mother Nature everywhere.

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I was joined in this adventure by my oldest sister Linda and my BFF Linda! Right off we decided I needed to be able to differentiate which Linda I was speaking to so sister became “Lin” and BFF became “Da”. It has been at least a year ( a really tough year!) since I had seen my BFF and when we embraced in the JFK airport for our connecting flight to Bangor, it was as if only hours had passed between us. Thus is the depth of our soul sister bond. My goal at this stage in my life is to build memories and to spend as much time as I can with my loved ones. Traveling is never easy and becomes more difficult as I get older, so it was a great joy for me  to share this trip with my sister as well.

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“Lin”, G, and “Da” – Top of Cadillac Mountain

It is difficult to compress ten days of exploits into a blog post but here goes…fast forward… Flight to Bangor Maine, rental car to Bar Harbor, arrival at Wayman House residence, four days of early rising for multiple birding excursions to Witch Hole for beautiful views of Frenchman’s Bay and Mount Desert Range, an Owl Prowl till midnight, Little Cranberry Island highlights of common eiders, catbirds, red crossbills, and long-tailed ducks, Sieur de Monts up close and personal encounter with my favorite Pileated Woodpecker,  and Frenchboro Island where we simply sat and enjoyed visits from magnolia, yellow and yellow-throated warblers, chickadees, robin and cedar waxwings busily striping an apple tree of its blossoms.

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Cedar Waxwing

Perhaps the highlight of our birding field excursions was our Pelagic boat trip 25 miles out into the Atlantic in search of the seabirds that rarely visit the shore area. And we were not disappointed. My sister accompanied us on this particular field trip and layer dressed with scarves, hats and heavy coats, we began our journey. It was freezing cold and windy but with bacon and scrambled egg sandwiches and prophylactic Dramamine in our backpack, we forged ahead. Passing Duck Island, two bald eagles graced us with their presence. Successful nesters for several years, it was a real thrill to see our national bird in such a beautiful environment. Atlantic Puffins, Black Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Cormorants, Atlantic and Common Terns effortlessly gliding through the sky.  All of these sea birds were “lifers” for me, so I was richly rewarded on this trip.

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Common Eider Sea Duck

And of course, a trip to Maine would not be complete without a few lobster meals. My favorite memory is at Thurston’s Lobster Pound where we each attacked our own personal lobster guided by the waitresses expertise in how to best dismember this huge ocean crawler. It was a perfect evening highlighted not only with great food but the shared camaraderie of friends and family just enjoying a specific moment in life.

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Exploring the beautiful island, shops and special attractions rounded out the rest of our visit to Bar Harbor. These yearly birding trips are greatly anticipated, thoroughly enjoyed and revisited in my birding journals until our next adventure.

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Happy bird searching wherever you may be!!!!

 

Death of Democracy and Common Decency – The Criminality of Corrupt Politicians

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My tears are flowing again like a river flushed with the melting snows of a heavy winter. I cry for the lack of humanity exhibited by elected officials who believe that removing healthcare from tens of millions of Americans is the right thing to do, the moral and ethical thing to do. What motivates these people, these beasts from Hell, to think that a tax cut for the richest top 1% of our population is worth the loss of health care for millions of poor, sick, mentally ill or disabled Americans? I cry for all the elderly who will be uprooted from nursing homes, for their children who must reconstruct their lives to care for  Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, for the elderly who must make choices between food or life saving medications and for the parents of an infant born with multiple congenital birth defects who must bankrupt their lives to provide major care.

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Medicaid is the largest healthcare provider in the United States insuring 75 million Americans. I encourage everyone to watch the Rachel Maddow show of June 22, 2017 to understand the full scope of the criminality of what is being attempted by the Republican party led by the meanest toad of a man Mitch McConnell. Medicaid provides healthcare for 50% of all babies born today in the United States, 60% of all poor children, and helps the disabled to remain in their home rather than in institutions. In other words, protection for the most vulnerable members of our society.

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There are a multitude of cartoons and comic skits on television about tRump and his best friend Putin. Laughter is medicine to help us survive untenable things. They may temporarily relieve anxiety, but unfortunately what is happening to our democracy is no laughing matter. We may be witnessing the death of “truth” in our nation and moving to a world of lies and falsehoods. Daily tRump and his minions attack the media as “fake news” and as America watches, we are witnessing the dismantling of the democracy our forefathers fought to ensure when they penned the Constitution, the bedrock for life and liberty, that was fought and paid for in blood hundreds of years ago.

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As Americans we have come to expect and enjoy, in fact take for granted, the safety of our water supply, the assurance of clean air to breathe, the guarantee that the food we eat is free of harmful pesticides . The environmental and health protections achieved for over 40 years are being systematically swept away. The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe may be suspect in the near future if the deconstruction of the EPA continues at this alarming rate.

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The constant barrage of “unimaginable” things that this administration is  trying to  implement  is numbing our senses and lulling us into the beginning acceptance of this behavior as being the “new norm”. This acceptance or complacency is the beginning of the decline of democracy as we know it.  Sadly, this loss of “truth” or the normalization of “alternative facts”  is to watch America sink into an Orwellian “1984” society where what we believe is dictated by the “Big Brother” government, driven by the elite few seeking wealth and power to the detriment of millions of everyday hard-working citizens.

I cry for my nation as it writhes in death throes. I cry for the millions of my compatriots, fellow citizens, that will succumb to death if this administration is allowed to dismantle all that is good and wonderful about our way of life. My tears flow freely trying to wash away the pain of what I am witnessing on a daily basis.

Are you crying yet?

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