Sea Life and death (in the way of tasty tasty meals).

Over the weekend, Hubby and I went to Sea Center Texas, a free sealife center owned and operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

At the Sea Center, they have a bunch of different aquariums set up with species of fish and crustaceans that you can find in the waters near the Texas coast. (I didn’t take many pictures inside, because I know from experience that my camera will not capture what I want it to when taking pictures of fish inside aquariums).

Ever since our Florida trip, I have been trying to retain my knowledge of fish species. This is one thing that I want to pass on to everyone in the world:

This is not a dolphin.
For some reason, the “fish people” like to call this a dolphin, and list it on restaurant menus as such. So, unsuspecting tourists, who know nothing about marine mammal protection laws, endangered species laws, or food for that matter, think they are ACTUALLY eating this guy:
 
Not people food
 
when they are actually eating this guy:
 
people food
 
I know, it’s an honest mistake since they look so similar but in fact, the green shiny animal is a very tasty sport fish, also known as Mahi Mahi. They are delicious, and in no way related to REAL dolphins.
OK, now that we got THAT out of the way…
 
Hubby and I also went down there to do some birding, and we lost track of how many species we saw by the end of the day. I think we counted 10 or 11, just at the Sea Center, because they have a wetland area and a brackish water area, that is also part of the fish hatchery there.
(This has made me kick myself repeatedly, and now hopefully I will remember to bring paper to write down our bird list!)
 
Later, we drove around Freeport to check out the beach and get some lunch. We found some adorable beach houses that you can rent for a weekend:
They make me want to relax, just looking at them
 
And then we found a great place to bird, as well as put in your kayaks and catch red drum!
 
Roseate Spoonbills! One of my favorite birds as a child!

 So of course, now we are in the mood to take our kayaks down here and go fishing as soon as it warms up! But, as we discovered, it’s a little difficult to look for a restaurant after a recent hurricane. Hurricane Ike, although in 2008, did some major damage to this area. We attempted three restaurants with the GPS. Two were bars, and I doubt served food.

This was the third place.

Dinner, anyone?

Anyone might be thinking, what’s wrong with that? It looks a little shady, but it’s a seafood restaurant in Freeport…that’s how they all look,

Except for the fact that I wasn’t taking a picture of the blue house in the background. I was taking a picture of the CONCRETE FOUNDATION THAT WAS ONCE A RESTAURANT.

Ya.
 
Still hungry.
 
So we ended up at a Country Cafe type place that was pretty good, but lacking on the seafood variety. That’s ok, I was in the mood for fried shrimp, with french FRIES, and hushpuppies (i.e. deep fried corn batter). At least there was some color on my plate: Cole slaw!
 
Healthiest. Meal. Ever.
 
 
 
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Still Kickin’

I have a pretty green thumb, and I’m pretty proud of it. It’s the one thing that I learned on my own and although I ask questions from time to time, I pretty much have myself (and the internet) to thank for it. I have always loved growing things, so it’s natural that I have a desk plant, right?

Ok, so this in the only picture I had, but you can still see it to the left

I inherited this plant along with a Betta fish. One of the girls in the office didn’t really want him anymore, so she gave him to me!

 

 I loved this little fish! And the plant is one of those ivy things in EVERY office I’ve ever been to, because they can live pretty much anywhere.

Well, a few months ago Bruce got sick, and then he got sicker, and then he got a little better, but then he died.

So, because it was depressing to look at an empty fish bowl, I traded my bowl out for a vase to put my plant in. Let’s call the plant Roger.

…..

I almost killed Roger.

See, I like to put Sweet-N-Low in my water, because it gives it flavor, and makes me actually want to drink it because it tastes good, not because I HAVE TO. I never drink enough water.

But one day, I saw that Roger was going a little dry, so before I left for the end of the day, I emptied my water-glass into the vase and didn’t think anything of it. A few days later I noticed Roger was a little yellow. And then started dropping leaves. And withering. I was devastated! Just devastated! Devastated was the only way to describe just how…devastated I was! (Anyone who can name that quote gets a gold star!) First Bruce, now Roger?! What have I done? How did I not think about the Sweet-N-Low?

What happens is, Sweet-N-Low promotes fungal growth. So since the water sat there for days (Roger is just in a glass vase with water, no soil) there developed a fungus amungus. When I realized what was wrong, I took the plant into the bathroom, washed out the roots, cut off the dead ones, and put fresh water in the vase. Too late. Roger continued to wither away.

The only part that still looked healthy was the very end. Now, when I say the very end, it’s because Roger had been about 4 feet long! I really wish I had a picture! This plant went from my desk, up to my little cubby-thing where I have all my pictures, looped around my desk name-tag, and then came back down, almost touching my desk again. So the only part that I could save was the very end. I cut it, instantly put it into fresh water, and hoped for the best.

And now look!

A New Leaf!!!

And what else???

 

 So even after I almost poisoned Roger, he continues to thrive! This was the best part of my day today :)Happy Friday!

Today I Love – Pinterest

I recently discovered pinterest.com thanks to That Clever Chick (my big Sis). This is a perfect way to waste spend time looking up useful things on the interwebs all inone place.

For example: looking for tasty health food recipes? Type in Healthy in the search bar, and all sorts of pictures pop up of delicious looking food. You can click on the picture, and that will take you to a corresponding website that gives you the ingredients and directions, along with other recipes on the website.

It’s a great idea because you can categorize all the things that interest you. Remodeling your house? You can collect photos of inspirational pictures of ways to paint or decorate. Feeling crafty? Tons of craft and gift ideas await!

This morning I was checking out the Fitness category, and they have tons of motivational posters and work out tips. Needless to say, I now have enough energy to run through the current storm that is terrorizing the area at this very moment.

This is one reason why the motivational stuff works:

My feet hurt, from kicking so much ass
I don’t have an unrealistic expectation to look like a model. I know my hips are much too wide for that!
I have a very reaslistic goal, to look tight, fit, and ripped.
 
Not scary ripped, but real ripped.
 
 
I know I’m not going to have 2% body fat like these chicks (I’m not sponsored by health food companies and paid to take supplements[those things are EXPENSIVE!]) but damnit,
 
 
Goal Legs (Not dream legs, that implies it might not happen).
I WILL STOP JIGGLING

Snakes and a Plane

I wrote this post on Friday on paper (yes, I still remember how to hand-write things), so when I say “today” I mean Friday.

Every once in a while I get to travel to cool places for work – today I’m in St. Petersburg, Florida. And yes, I mean today, as in I’m not staying the night.

Quick trips are very common in my line of work. As long as everything can get done in one day, there is ALWAYS a flight back home that you can catch.

Today was an easy job, so I basically got another 3-day weekend (and a 3-day work week to top it off).

At the moment, I’m sitting at an outdoor restaurant on the water, over-looking a marina. Life could be a lot worse right now, let me tall ya.

My view for a late lunch

Last time I was in Florida, it was July. It was hot AND raining at the same time, and there was no spare time for watching the sailboats in the marina while eating a haddock po boy, so I’m making up for lost time :).

This is making my hungry all over again

Before I came out here, one of the girls at work was very concerned for my safety, mainly because she is deathly afraid of snakes and I was going alone to a state famous for invasive species of pythons, boas, anacondas, and countless other reptile species. Obviously, this combination of wildlife and isolation ensured certain death. then, while waiting for my flight this morning, a couple of the other girls in the office called me, laughing hysterically, to tell me about conversations they had about pythons in Florida, and again wanted to make sure I was safe and aware of the imminent danger that lie ahead.

10 minutes after walking around in the 13 acres of vacant land, I found this:

 

There is a big naked snake somewhere

This snake would have probably been at least 6 inches wide, based on the skin. Not quite full-growth python-sized, but big enough I’m glad I found his skin, and not him!

CAUTION: Somewhat related tangent ahead

I’m definitely not afraid of snakes. Actually quite the opposite. I have seen snakes on several occasions, and in order to get a good pictures of them, I manage to accidentally piss them off. I’m not the person that will go in the opposite direction of them. Hubby is the same way. Once, while in Grad School, we were taking a course called Desert Zoology (I’ve also previously discussed this awesome course here) and we did a lot of “road cruising” at night. This consisted of leaving where ever we were for the day (usually in the middle of nowhere desert) and stopping any time we saw a snake on the road. In the summer, snakes commonly utilize hot asphalt for that last little bit of warmth when it gets dark and chilly in the desert. This is a common way snakes get killed as well, but that’s a different story.

So one night, Hubby and I were heading back to town after a trip to Big Bend and saw a rattlesnake on the road, so we stopped. It slithered to the grassy roadside, and we stood there looking at it with a flashlight. Being on high alert while watching a very venomous snake, Hubby jumped out of his skin when something ran across his foot. It turned out to be a tiny mouse! Then, after running toward us out of nowhere, the poor thing ran RIGHT AT THE RATTLESNAKE. Without hesitation, the snake struck and bit the mouse, but then released, and the mouse ran off. The snake was busy watching us, and was not about the eat something that would slow him down if we turned out to be hostile, so he let the mouse run off and die, and waited us out.

That was the coolest snake experience I’ve ever had, and I DIDN’T HAVE A CAMERA.

So back to Florida:

Although I didn’t see any reptiles while I was in St. Pete this time, I was kicking myself for not bringing my binoculars and my Sibley’s Birds of the Eastern United States. I’m not so great with IDing water birds, but I did see countless numbers of Osprey all over the place! I have always loved birds of prey, but I rarely get to see Osprey at home, so seeing them all over the place here has really made me happy!

This quick trip was great, even though it was just for the day. All it REALLY ended up doing was wetting my appetite for our vacation to the Keys coming up, so now I’m just counting the days.

I leave you with a relaxing view of the sailboat marina. Woosaaa

 

 

Sunny, High of 78, with a chance of Cold wind and rain

Last week, Hubby and I decided to take the boat out again and try our luck at fishing. Hubby and Bro-In-Law went out the weekend before, and Bro-In-Law caught 2. Hubby – 0. Needless to say, he wanted another crack at it.

So on Saturday we chencked the weather, and it was listed as Partly Cloudy, high of 78. Perfect boat weather, right?

This was our “partly cloudy” weather:

Nice and sunny, right?
Before we left the house on Sunday morning, i went outside and checked the temp. It was a muggy 70ish degrees. Perfect for shorts and and tank top, with a sweatshirt over top for the wind ont he boat, right?
 
Wrong. Very. Very. Wrong.
 
But I was a trooper. It wasn’t that bad, afterall. But of course, nature called later that morning, and it’s not quite as easy for a girl as for a guy, so we went back to the dock, and I took the truck to the gas station down the road. I was hoping they had some “support our local high school” overpriced sweatpants I could purchase to support the Fighting [insert mascot name here] at [insert local school name here] High School, but alas, all they sold at the gas station were over-priced Mexican blankets and generic Snuggies, so I was determined to jsut tough out the cold, rainy weather. I mean, the weatherman said it would clear up…he’s got to be right, right? How else could he still have a job?
 
Instead I found in the truck, the boat cover we stashed so it wouldn’t get wet or in the way on the boat. HAZAA!
 
We both fished for a while, but them I got bored and started taking pictures instead.
Hubby bundled up and fishing.
Saturday night, we only got 6 hours of sleep. I know for some poeple that’s fine, but for me, not enough sleep = just wants to curl up into a ball.
 
So I did.
 
So very warm....
 
While Hubby fished, I napped. This was also after I fished for a while, nothing came of it, and then we ate lunch.  And yes, I’m still wearing the boat cover.
 
And low and behold! When I woke up, it was warm, and the sun was coming out! Crazy weatherman. He’s got a crazy sense of humor!
But then I fell back asleep.
 
I really love that those 2 seats fold down into a lounge.
When I was officially awake, we hung out in that area for a while, reading and fishing some more. Hubby finished his book, so we decided to run around the lake some more.  My turn to drive!
 
Concentrating on not hitting anything
We ran around for a while, then noticed a lady that was in a wetsuit, meaning she was about to ski. In January. That’s dedication! I’ll wait until the sun’s out all day first, thank you very much.
 
While Hubby drove, I noticed a house for sale on the lake, and immediately wanted to buy it. Hubby of course, thinks it would be best if we keep the house we just bought, sicne it is about 2.5-3 hours closer to our jobs. Fuddy duddy. (I love you, honey!) Anyway, it got me planning for our future lake house on Lake Tahoe that we will get when we are rich millionaires for inventing [insert amazing idea here]. I can’t wait!
 
Here’s the awesome house!
 
Ok, bear with me. The sun was right behind the house, and we were on a moving boat. Trust me, it was beautiful.
When we were finally ready to leave the lake, it was actually FINALLY warm enough for me to take off my sweatshirt. This is what I was wearing for our “78 degree weather.”
 
Not wondering why I was cold anymore, are you?

So, the lesson of the day: Even if you checked the weather, bring enough clothes to survive a blizzard.

 
 
 
 

Conserving Our Planet

CAUTION: The venting may have gotten out of control.

Ok, so there are very few things that I get onto a soap box about. Conservation is one of those few things. This is one of the most important things in the world to me, and it drives me crazy when other people don’t think it’s as important as I do, much less people who basically say, “screw it,” and drain the wetlands to build their apartment complexes, or put a golf course in the middle of the desert, or any number of other things.

I try to stay updated on depressing subjects like poaching black rhinos in Africa, deforestation on Borneo, and ship wrecks off the coast of New Zealand that they are very conveniently NOT discussing the damage to the coral reef that was struck by the ship, and with every crashing wave that pushes the ship into it over and over again.

Shipwreck that occurred in mid-October 2011, still there as of January 18, 2011

These are just some of the things that drive me bat s!*t crazy. These are people who care nothing for the planet, want the quickest and easiest way to make a buck, and then when something goes wrong they don’t do anything about it.

The cruise ship that just wrecked and sank off the coast of Italy?

Ya, it hit a reef, too.

BP is constantly advertising about how much money they have spent, cleaning up the Gulf after the April 2010 blow out. IT WAS YOUR MESS. OF COURSE YOU HAD TO PAY A BUNCH OF MONEY TO CLEAN IT UP.

 And it’s not just people who don’t care. It’s also people who refuse to think anything other than what “granddaddy” told them is true.

Example: killing predators.

CAUTION: TANGENT AHEAD

Be it coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, or snakes, some people still think that it’s the right thing to do. They still think that if the deer and livestock are going to survive, all the predators need to go. Then all of a sudden, every county in Texas is overrun with feral hogs, and people just have the idea that now they need to kill them, too.  What they don’t understand is, feral hogs are a large portion of the food source for coyotes and mountain lions. My old dog actually killed 2 piglets in no time at all, with no effort. That’s what the coyotes would be doing, if people would just leave them alone.

Now, if you don’t understand why I’m advocating killing pigs and not predators, this is why: Predators are native. They belong here. They evolved with all the other wild animals in the area, and have their lives pretty well mapped out as to how things should go. Feral hogs, on the other hand, are not native. Hundreds of years ago, domestic pigs were brought over the pond with settlers, and instead of keeping stinky pigs penned up, they released them. It was easier to let them get fat on acorns by themselves and hunt them down later, than it was to keep them in a pen, and have to feed them every day. Well, the settlers let them continue to breed in the wild, and low and behold, they became “feral.” They are now an agricultural pest, constantly rooting up soil, and consuming food that would generally be there for other native species, like raccoons, deer, and even bears.

Part of the reason feral hogs are everywhere, is it is big money to hunt them. You always hear about people hunting “Hogzilla” right? Ok, maybe not always, but I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. But this is beside the point.

Now, because there are so few predators pigs are all over the place. Also, there are fewer predators to hunt the deer. Because of this, deer are getting too abundant and can actually starve to death in hard years. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be killed by a mountain lion than starve to death. Am I right? And with predators, who also take out the sick animals, diseases don’t spread as easily. Without predators and with higher deer numbers, diseases like black leg, hoof and mouth, and other nasty things can get spread through a population like wildfire.

It becomes a vicious cycle of kill predator-feed deer-kill predator-feed deer, because there isn’t enough natural vegetation for the deer to eat, because there are too many damn deer in the first place!

These are just a few examples of the annihilation of the planet that I have observed recently. I’m trying to save the planet one uneducated jerk at a time by passing on my wisdom, and encouraging others with my like-mindset. Help me, won’t you? The more support I have, the less crazy it will make me in the future.

And, so I don’t TOTALLY bring down the party, here are a couple of pictures of me bottle feeding a baby bobcat after someone shot the mom, and then they had the bright idea that she was probably being aggressive because her babies were nearby.

This little guy was clawing me to shreds, but in a good way 🙂

 

Why Plinko is the Worst Game on The Price Is Right

Last week was tough, and for no apparent reason. I was exhausted. I didn’t want to do anything. Since Hubby is in the academic field, he had a three-day weekend, and I wanted to kill him for it, because all I wanted was SLEEP. So what did I do? I took a vacation day, of course! I’m glad I’ve been saving those up for a rainy day. I needed it!

So with our three-day weekend, we had a blast. Saturday we went to a rock gym with the couple we hang out with. My arms and back are still sore, but it was great! I had never done that before, and now I’m hooked. I’m sure this will come up again in the future. Then we went over to the neighbor’s house and watched a terrible football game. Seriously? What happened to this Tebow guy I kept hearing about? After all the hype, I really thought they would rock it. Nope.

MLK Day was fun except for me breaking my hand. Ok, so it’s not TECHNICALLY broken, but it sure felt like it when it happened. Hubby and I used the day to sleep in, go for a jog, and run errands. We also needed to do a few things around the yard, since it almost flooded a week ago. There was debris piled up all over the yard, so we started raking. Then we saw there were some branches that needed trimming in the oak tree. This is the best oak you could ever ask for in your very first home, so we want it to look good and be healthy. There were some dead branches that we could reach with one of those pole-mounted saw things, so Hubby went to town cutting them out of the tree. Both branches we were going to cut were at least 6 inches wide, so they took forever to cut through. His arms got tired after the first one, so I was helping by cutting the second one out of the tree. It was a little bit of a difficult position, but I didn’t want to be RIGHT under the branch in case it fell when I wasn’t ready. Little did I know that UNDER the branch would have probably been the safest place to be.

This is essentially what happened.

Plinko is the worst game on The Price Is Right
I wasn’t exaggerating about that 5 pounds!
It looks broken, doesn’t it?!