Monday, December 31, 2012

Look What The Wind Blew In

I know it's a stretch, but see those two dark blobs? That's them!
Flutter flutter, scratch scratch.

What's that?

It's morning at Padre Island National Seashore and I'm making the bed in our motorhome. That involves me climbing up on the mattress on my knees and crawling around like a 1-year-old to tuck in the sheets and stow the pillows overhead. And I hear "flutter flutter, scratch scratch.

What is it?

I sit back on my legs and look around.  And listen. There it goes again. Flutter flutter scratch scratch. I turn toward the sound. The window.

I think something's come lose in the window beside the bed. We had fierce winds all night that rocked Otto like a baby in a cradle. So it's possible something's come loose. 

I scootch over to the window to investigate and there!  I see two shadows inside the shade. Two M-shaped shadows. AND THEY MOVE!  SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH.

BATS! BATS! Two bats took shelter from last night's storm by hiding inside our  windows that crank open and close like awnings. 

I inch closer and, nearly trembling, raise the shade a smidgeon and one of them LOOKS RIGHT AT ME. But, thank God, he's BEHIND the screen, and I think he's scared.

SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH. He and his buddy disappear. Where did they go? OH, the window is open, just a hair. They must have flown out. I raise the shades all the way and crank the window open wide. Yep, I think they're gone.

Except now it's dusk, about nine hours after our first bat adventure and Allen cranks out the windows again, to get some air, and FLUTTER FLUTTER SCRATCH SCRATCH. They're still here!

But this time, he SEES them fly away, into the dark, AWAY from our motorhome.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's Always About Jacob

This looks exactly like Jacob's painful snack.
Jacob ate a Portuguese Man-O-War.

Yes, my 9-year-old standard poodle ate the little venomous, jelly fish-like creature and he's now shaking his head violently and slobbering massively. Bluish goo drips from his front teeth.

And there's nothing I can do about it.

We are about a mile from the motorhome, walking the beach and there is no one around. No one. The beach is empty, except for me, Allen, our other standard Joshua and poor pain-racked Jacob. 

Why is is always Jacob?

So far, Jacob has survived a New Mexican tussle with tumbleweed, which scratched his cornea (he had lunged into the brush after some animal and the tumbleweed attached itself to his face); food poisoning after eating God knows what on a long walk through the woods in Alabama; a traumatic toe injury on Padre Island National Seashore while trying to rustle a ghost crab from its den (he dug into the sand with such fury, that when he hit a piece of concrete, he snapped a toenail off) and the worst -- something he did absolutely nothing to cause -- cancer, which we got rid of when we had one of his left rear toes removed.

Now this. And we knew it was bound to happen.

At times, the Padre Island National Seashore beach serves up hundreds of small dead or dying Portuguese Man-O-War. We warn Jacob constantly "Don't eat that" but today we weren't watching and he did and now his mouth hurts from the stinging tentacles and we can do nothing about it but pity him.

We already know the consequences. A few years ago, when Jacob first tried to snarf up one of the gooey things, we asked a park ranger how safe it was. Well, he told us, he won't die, but his mouth sure will hurt for a while.

So, poor Jacob. He shakes and spits. It's 25 minutes until we finally reach an outdoor hose (at a fish cleaning station here on the island) and I wash out his mouth. He's grateful. I can tell. He slurps and slurps and slurps the fresh water.

And now the head shaking ends. Jacob crisis over. For now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Answers to Unspoken Prayers

Ethan and Mahira

I miss Christmas.

I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed to be away from home on the holidays.

No problem, I thought. Our far-flung families commonly celebrate this exciting time without us. So it's often just us. And we don't make a fuss for just us. Much of our fuss is church related. We go to church and celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is the center of our lives.

I didn't realize until today that the other stuff we do at Christmas rounds out my heart. We visit with friends, break bread together, play games.  I miss being a part of that friendship fold. 

I feel so alone.  I'm here at the beach, in the warmth of Padre Island National Seashore. And I am lonely.

And then there's a knock at our motorhome door.

"Hello? Is this a good time to drop by?"

The greeting is from a family we just met. Our RVs are similar, so they've stopped by to see how we manage to live inside such a small space. They stay and chat; we chat some more. Their kids, Ethan and Mahira, stay long after their mom and dad leave because, well, we're busy, playing iPad games, talking about books, exchanging life stories.

Then Joan stops in. We've just met Joan. She's 80 years old and traveling across country in a pick-up truck towing a trailer by herself (well, she has two dogs.)

She's stopped by for cocktails. And because we don't drink, she's brought her own as well as a tray of cheese and crackers. 

It's now crowded inside our little RV. But no one notices. Because we're laughing, playing games, nibbling on h'ors deuvers. It's (almost) like a family get-together, celebrating Christmas.

I'll be so bold as to say Jesus felt my heart breaking and brought good people to surround me, to help me heal. And the ones he chose were a family of Jews and an elderly agnostic. 

They came to me on Christmas, extending the gift of friendship. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

For the Birds

Not sure what kind of birds these are. Someone suggested female crackles. OK.

Our water heater leaks.

I'm sitting in the sun, next to our motorhome on Padre Island National Seashore, and I see drip, drip, drip. Water from our leaky hot water heater dribbles off the bottom edge of our motorhome, creating a widening dark spot on the pavement. It annoys me. Precious water. Evaporating. Exasperating. Dry campers understand this.

Suddenly, WOOSH. Birds, about 20 of them, descend on my leak. HA! They flutter about, muscling  for the best spot to bathe or drink.  And then they're off. Except for two. I'll call then Dad and Son.

Son hops over to the drip and hops up, like he's on a trampoline, slurping each drip. Drip, hop, slurp. Drip, hop, slurp. Exhausting to watch. Drip, hop, slurp.

Dad pushes Son aside. "Watch me!" He tilts his head back, opens his beak and catches the drip.

Drip, drink, drip, drink. Son, typical Son, ignores Dad. Instead, he siphons water from a small puddle.

Satiated, Dad flutters off.

Son repositions himself under the drip, tilts his head back. Drip, drink. Drip, drink.

I hope Dad's watching.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In The Eye of the Beholder

In addition to being beautiful (wink wink), these fake flowers are  functional. I store chains in the pot.
I like my outdoor carpet, a plastic woven extension of our living space here on Padre Island National Seashore.

It's homey. I set up our chairs on that carpet, and often include a little table between them. It creates the allusion of an outdoor living room, an inviting space for friends to stop by. But few do.

Maybe because the room is not pretty. You see, it's windy down here on Padre Island, and because the carpet turns magical at times, lifting in the breeze, we anchor it down. With ugly stuff. A tool chest, a wheel. Just ugly stuff. I hate ugly stuff.

So my girlfriends Sage and Vickie and I hit the thrift store circuit, looking for a potted posie that's not too tacky to subplant the hardware. Nothing flowery, I tell my friends. Just greenery. Maybe a plastic philodendron.

And then I see it. A pot of colorful pretties. A pot designed to be looked down on. Something I can put on the edge of my caret and when I walk over to it, I can look down and see pretty. Not ugly.

But it's fake flowers. Lots of them. It might be tacky. Maybe I can't see the tacky? So I ask Sage and I ask Vickie: "Is this tacky?"

Silly me. They see I see "pretty." Neither wants to hurt my feelings. They bobble their heads and offer consolation coos. I'm thinking, "They see tacky."  I buy the pot anyway. It's only $3. I can toss it out. Later. If at some time I see tacky.

But for now, it's sitting on the edge of my outdoor carpet. Attracting little yellow butterflies and little orange ones, too. And maybe a new friend or two will stop by to appreciate them, too.