• Garden at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site

    The Couse-Sharp Historic Site in Taos

    INTRODUCTION As part of our vacation to northern New Mexico, in September of 2017, we stayed a couple of nights in Taos.  I had reserved a tour at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, not knowing very much about these two men, their work, or the historic site in general.  This attraction was a very good … [Read More...]

  • Jemez Caldera - Valley is the result of what is left from the volcanic eruption.

    Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument

    Yesterday, Wednesday, November 6,2013 was a very exciting day for both of us.  We decided to take a day trip to Los Alamos and visit the Bradbury museum.  The drive from Santa Fe to Los Alamos is, as expected, visually stunning.  The mountains change to steep cliffs that appear to be made of … [Read More...]

  • The Blue Hole

    The Blue Hole & Pecos

    Today we visited two unique sights in New Mexico, a blue hole in Santa Rosa, and the pueblo ruins in the Pecos National Historic Park.  The blue hole is located just off old Route 66 in Santa Rosa.  The aquifer is an 80 foot opening forming a stunning blue hole of crystal clear water that flows at a … [Read More...]

  • Visitor's Center Palo Duro State Park

    The Palo Duro Canyon

    This is day one of a much needed vacation for the two of us!  We decided to take a full week and travel Northwest to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a one day stop-over in Amarillo.  The main intent for this one day short trip was to spend a few hours exploring the Palo Duro Canyon.  The name Palo … [Read More...]

Jun
03

Cardinals Take Flight!

The cardinals took flight yesterday (June 2).  Early in the morning, we noticed that the baby birds were very restless.  They were moving around in the nest a lot more than usual.  One jumped up on the nest edge and started stretching his wings.  This gave the others more room to stretch as well.  Having watched cardinals raise another nest full of baby birds earlier this spring, we knew that this sudden restlessness meant that they would fly today.

The first baby cardinal jumps to the edge of the nest.

The first baby cardinal jumps to the edge of the nest.

As the little ones prepared to leave the nest, the mother kept coming back with big fat bugs to feed the little ones.  This will give them the energy needed to make the flight.  At one point the mother brought a large moth to feed the baby birds.  It was so large that she tried to put it in each mouth only to find that none of the babies could swallow it.  Finally she jumped to a limb, chewed it up and ate it herself (she needs some energy as well!).

The mother bird arrives with some food - a moth.

The mother bird arrives with some food - a moth.

Mother cardinal tries to feed a baby bird before its first flight.

Mother cardinal tries to feed a baby bird before its first flight.

The bug was too big for the first bird.  Let's try this one!

The bug was too big for the first bird. Let's try this one! Notice how the first bird still wants it.

As the mother watched from higher in the tree one jumped out of the nest onto a limb and the mother bird took him step by step through the process of flying to trees that surround the creek at the back of our lot where the male bird waited.  They did this with each bird, one-by-one until they were all safely together again so the parent birds could continue to watch over them and feed them.  The process took about 6 hours.   The photos below show how they did it.

The first baby bird jumps out on a limb.

The first baby bird jumps out on a limb.

Mother bird takes a wary look at me before she flies to get more food.

Mother bird takes a wary look at me before she flies to get more food.

Mother bird jumps down on a plant shelf just below the tree with the nest in it, encouraging the baby to make the leap.

Mother bird jumps down on a plant shelf just below the tree with the nest in it, encouraging the baby to make the leap.

The baby bird follows the lead and jumps to the plant shelf.

The baby bird follows the lead and jumps to the plant shelf.

The mother bird then flies over to some patio furniture and chirps at the baby to follow.

The mother bird then flies over to some patio furniture and chirps at the baby to follow.

The baby follows again.

The baby follows again.

The baby flies under a patio table.

The baby flies under a patio table.

Mother and baby bird have a conference before proceeding.

Mother and baby bird have a conference before proceeding.

Not everything went according to plan.  This is not easy!

Not everything went according to plan. This is not easy!

Mother looks down at baby as she leads it back toward the back yard.

Mother looks down at baby as she leads it back toward the back yard.

Mother feeds baby one last time before they head out toward the trees surrounding the creek.

Mother feeds baby one last time before they head out toward the trees surrounding the creek.

The mother bird gets ready to lead the baby bird across the back yard to the creek.

The mother bird gets ready to lead the baby bird across the back yard to the creek.

 

Jun
01

Cardinal Babies in the Nest

I know there are a lot of photos of Cardinal babies posted on the Internet.  Still it is an amazing site to be able to witness a miracle like this on a day-to-day basis and I wanted to share it with all of you who visit this blog.

The first cardinal egg appeared in the nest on May 11, 2012.Cardinals are present year round and bring beauty and song to us here in the North Central Texas area.  A couple of Cardinals built a nest earlier this spring on our patio in a little potted tree right next to our living room window.  The father and mother both worked diligently to build the nest and feed and protect the baby cardinals.  During that time they successfully raised one batch of 4 birds.  I didn’t take photos at that time but swore if they ever came back I would do so.  Much to our surprise, about a month after the first bunch left, the parent birds started checking the same nest out again.  Before we knew it, eggs started appearing in it again.

I took these photos today (June 1).  There are three babies this time.  They are moving around a lot, preening themselves and keeping mom and dad cardinal very busy feeding them.  What a cool thing to be able to witness such a beautiful thing so easily!  By the way, if you want to find out what a baby cardinal is officially called you might want to check this link Wiki-Answers-Baby-Cardinals  (After you take a look at the photos below of course!  Be sure to click on each to see a larger photo.).

Baby Cardinals see their mother land in the tree.

Baby Cardinals see their mother land in the tree.

As the mother bird gets closer, they stretch their necks and open wider.

As the mother bird gets closer, they stretch their necks and open wider.

The mother bird jumps to a limb right next to the nest.

The mother bird jumps to a limb right next to the nest.

The mother bird takes a closer look at the baby cardinals.

The mother bird takes a closer look at the baby cardinals.

The mother bird has fed the last baby and gets ready to leave to find more food.

The mother bird has fed the last baby and gets ready to leave to find more food.

May
14

Woodworker Extraordinaire

My son Aaron has always loved woodworking.  Since he was a young boy he was always building things out of wood.  It is not surprising to me that he became a luthier.  Aaron makes fine hand crafted guitars.  His company is Wood Ring Guitars.

Aaron is not the only woodworker around here though.  We have another member of our family that has woodworking in his blood as well.  You see, we own a Double Yellow Headed Amazon parrot.  He has been a member of our family since 1990.

Our Wood Worker Parrot

Over the years we have learned many things about these beautiful and fascinating birds.  One is that they love to chip away at wooden toys.  I would hate to tally up the amount of money we have spent on bird toys over several years only to watch them be reduced to a pile of wood chips in the bottom of the bird cage.  A typical parrot toy sold at the local pet store costs anywhere from $10 to $20 dollars.  After a while we decided that it was imperative that we start making these toys ourselves to save money.

 

 

 

We looked at the types of toys he liked best and then designed the simple toy shown below based on what our bird likes the best, day after day and week after week. 

Simple but Effective Parrot Toy

Our parrot can reduce one of these toys to a pile of chips in one day.  The photo below shows a typical run of wood pieces cut and drilled from a piece of 2×4 lumber (pine). 

About 2 Weeks Worth of Wood For Parrot Wood Working

 
After much study we discovered that you must be very careful as to what kinds of wood you use for parrot toys.  Some types of wood are dangerous to a bird’s health.  Pine is safe for parrots to play with and chew on.  We also carefully wash all the wood to be sure there are no contaminants on the surface as birds are very sensitive to very small amounts of solvents and other types of chemicals.
 
The photo belos shows the result of approximately 2-3 weeks worth of work that our parrot performs on these toys. 
 

Artwork from Our Parrot's Woodworking Efforts

 
Not bad for a bird that weighs about a pound and a half.  Who knows?  Maybe one day we will give our parrot a commission to do the beginnings of some inlay work for one of Aaron’s guitars!
 
 
Apr
06

Best Little Guitar Festival in Texas

Aaron in the Booth at the Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival 2012

Aaron and I just got back from a trip to the University of Texas at Brownsville.  We were there as a vendor at the Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival and Competition showing five of Aaron’s classical guitars.  Aaron is a luthier who builds hand crafted guitars for his company Wood Ring Guitars.

This is not the only guitar festival we have been to this year.  There are several classical guitar festivals that occur around Texas every year.  Many are centered around university guitar programs.  Many of the major universities in Texas and several community colleges and high schools and even some elementary schools now have classical guitar programs who are taught by a group of very talented guitarists.  This is resulting in more and more people being introduced to the classical guitar and the amazing music written for it.  The quality of the competition and the performances at all of these festivals is outstanding and every year the crowds get larger and larger in response to this.

I think of all the festivals I have been to in the past couple of years, I enjoyed the Brownsville festival the most.  This is not because the entertainment and quality of competition was not as good at the other festivals.  I favor the UTB festival because it is unique in that the competition is ensemble based rather than being individually based.  There is an amazing spirit that permeates this competition because the ensemble competition requires each group of individuals to focus on working together as a team rather than competing as individuals.  Dr. Michael Quantz is the head of the guitar program at UTB and he has created an elite classical guitar program that is affecting the classical guitar scent throughout Texas and the Southwest in an extremely positive way.  I think many of the other university guitar program heads in the Southwest would agree with this, based on their growing participation at the yearly festival.

There is a 75 MPH speed limit between San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

The 75 MPH speed limit is nice when driving long stretches through Texas.

I have included quite a few photos from our trip from Wood Ring Guitar headquarters in Weatherford, Texas to UTB.  Aaron and I made the trip in one day, alternating in the driver’s seat every couple of hours.  This made it an easy drive.  We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard hotel which was recommended by the festival and we got a festival discount resulting in a nightly cost of $89.00 which was extremely reasonable for such a nice hotel. 

 

 

Guitar players practicing in the hot tub at the Hotel.

Once we settled in at the hotel and got all of our luggage and guitars squared away, we relaxed a bit and then we went to a local Japanese restaurant for dinner.  The sushi was fantastic, but we learned to never order Thai food at a Japenese restaurant.  We ordered Pad Thai, which is normally a very delicious Thai noodle dish.  Instead it tasted like an odd mixture of Thai Spiced noodles in a spaghetti sauce laced with mexican spices.  Not very good!  We also dodged a bullet that evening when we ordered sushi because we heard later that the spicy tuna roll at various sushi restaurants in the area caused a rash of food poisonings.

This is the entrance to the concert hall.

View of the Arts Center foyer from inside the Wood Ring Guitars booth.

The next day, we set up our booth at the new Arts Center at the university.  It is a beautiful building that has a gorgeous foyer and a wonderful concert hall that was acoustically tuned to perfection.   Our booth was in the foyer in front of the concert hall entrance.  Dr. Quantz and his staff met us as we entered the building to set up our booth and throughout the festival they were exceedingly helpful and made our gig at this festival extremely enjoyable.

 

Another view of the UTB Arts Center foyer where we set up the Wood Ring Guitars booth.

For the next three days, Aaron and I talked to more than a couple of hundred people interested in touching, holding, playing and talking about the Wood Ring Guitars that we brought.  It was a great experience for both of us.  We met and talked to many folks who, like us, love the guitar and all kinds of guitar music, especially classical guitar music.  We also were able to visit with many of our friends who teach guitar and who play professionally.  We also had the treat of being able to visit with members of two groups who headlined the entertainment for the last two nights of the festival.

On Friday night the Texas Guitar Quartet played.  It was an outstanding performance from four of the best professional classical guitarists on the Texas scene these days.  This performance was done in conjunction with the realease of their first CD which is named Red for the title song on the CD.  The entire concert was played beautifully.  On Saturday night members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet played an amazing concert.  I have seen these guys play several times in the past couple of years and they always amaze me with their virtuoso performances.  This concert was no exception.  It included a premier of a new piece written for a large guitar ensemble written by Shingo Fuji in honor of the victims of the 2011 Japan earthquake.  Mr. Fuji conducted the ensemble which included both LAGQ and the UTB Guitar Ensembles.  It was beautiful and moving to be sure.  The entire program was extremely entertaining and the guitar playing was impeccable.

We had the beach almost to ourselves.

We had the beach almost to ourselves. This is me walking along the shore.

It was not all work.  We work very hard at this.  Sometimes we end up working seven days a week.  Thus when we get an opportunity to travel for business purposes, I am a big believer in having a little enjoyment and down time during each trip to experience the culture of each place we visit.  We did not have much time, so for this trip, Aaron and I drove to South Padre Island to have breakfast on Pier 19 and then to walk on the beach to enjoy the sun and the smell of the ocean breezes for an hour or so.  It was great.

 

Brownsville area border patrol station.

Lots of cameras must have taken our picture as we proceeded toward the border patrol station.

After the festival, we drove back home.  About 30 miles North of Brownsville we were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint.  We were asked if we were citizens and then told we could go on, but not before about 30 or 40 cameras had taken our pictures to help them determine that we were ok.

 

 

 

Bluebonnets and Prickly Pear Cactus just south of Marble Falls.

The Blubonnets are absolutely beautiful along the Texas rural roads this year.

As we proceeded north of San Antonio we were able to photograph some of the millions of bluebonnets that are currently blooming.  This year they are exceptionally beautiful because there has been abundant rain.  It seems to me the beauty and abundance is enhanced because of the terrible draught that we had in Texas last year.  The contrast from last year was amazing.

 

 

Aaron and I had a great time.  It is really cool to be able make a living doing what you love to do.  Aaron has discovered that he has a real talent in designing and making these guitars.  I have a strong science background and I have helped him, by using the principles of physics and acoustics, to work out a guitar design that really sounds great.  Combined with Aaron’s amazing craftsmanship and his unique artistic and design skills, I believe we are beginning on a journey that is full of adventure and fun all the while offering some of the guitarists of the world with outstanding instruments to play.  What could be better than that?

Dec
30

Auld Lang Syne – For Old Times

 

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” I think not. For everyone I have known, loved and lost there was something of them that I shall always keep close to my heart. 

It’s Later Than You Think!

I saw a Facebook entry one of my relatives posted this week that got me to thinking about all of the people I have known who are no longer alive, but still live quite vibrantly in my memories. The post was a quote my father-in-law, Dock Ringo, told his daughter on many occasions, “It’s later than you think.” The quote is from a song recorded by Guy Lombardo in November of 1949, entitled “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)”. Now that I think about my father-in-law’s profession and strong association with music, it makes sense he would make that quote. He was in the juke box business. He owned many of them and as a result was aware of every popular song on the charts for many decades. This one in particular strikes a chord for those of us who are still alive, working hard to make ends meet and think we still have time to put off those simple pleasures for later when we will have more time and money, or so we think. 

The song lyrics go as follows:

You work and work for years and years, you’re always on the go
You never take a minute off, too busy makin’ dough
Someday, you say, you’ll have your fun, when you’re a millionaire
Imagine all the fun you’ll have in your old rockin’ chair

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think

You’re gonna take that ocean trip, no matter, come what may
You’ve got your reservations made, but you just can’t get away
Next year for sure, you’ll see the world, you’ll really get around
But how far can you travel when you’re six feet underground?

Your heart of hearts, your dream of dreams, your ravishing brunette
She’s left you and she’s now become somebody else’s pet
Lay down that gun, don’t try, my friend, to reach the great beyond
You’ll have more fun by reaching for a redhead or a blonde

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think

My father-in-law lived his life having fun making his fortune. He took the time off to spend time with us, taking us on numerous vacations and celebrating holidays with us as well. He had many traits I admired, his strength and strong will I appreciated the most.

To other old acquaintances I will not forget: 

To my grandfather George De Ridder, I owe my love of art for it was him who taught me to let go of my inhibitions and not be afraid to draw. 

To my father Marinus, who taught me to be strong and instilled in me an appreciation of science, literature and mathematics. He guarded his feelings and emotions, but inside was a very tender man who dearly loved his dogs, cats and my mother. 

To Mammy, my husband’s grandmother, who was remarkably outspoken and definitely not afraid to speak her mind or walk to the beat of her own drummer, I learned was it truly means to be bold. 

To my mother-in-law Eleanor, who wore her heart out in the open revealing her real emotions for everyone to see. She was one of the kindest souls I have ever known, for even though her temper was legendary her forgiveness was complete and infinite. 

To my sister-in-law Liz, who had such a dry sense of humor that I can not begin to describe how great it was. She helped me see humor in the unexpected. 

To Louis Duca, who worked with me at Glitsch Inc. and who taught me the fine art of selling fractionation equipment with a smile and sense of humor. 

To Bill Young, who taught both me and Danny to love the finer things in life (like single malt scotch). Such a presence he had indeed. 

To Cathy Streetman, my best friend and sister in heart. Her friendship and acceptance was so enormous, it was only matched by her generosity and teasing sense of humor. 

A Final Salute

All of these friends, relatives and business associates are gone in the physical sense but have left indelible marks in both heart and memory. I can’t think of a finer tribute to them than to acknowledge their contributions to my own life and how their existence influenced me for the positive. I can only hope that someday someone will feel the same about me.  For those of you who have also lost past acquaintances, friends or family, but kept a part of them in your heart, I dedicate this post to you.  At last, I finally understand the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne.  Read them below and perhaps you too will see what I see in them.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

 CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

 And surely you buy your pint cup !
and surely I buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

 We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

 CHORUS

 We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since
auld lang syne.

 CHORUS

 And there’ a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

 

 References and links:

Auld Lang Syne – Wikipedia Definitions

 Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) – YouTube Guy Lombardo Version

 Auld Lang Syne – Guy Lombardo – Seeburg Juke Box Version – Complete with scratches on the 45 RP! – YouTube

 

     Copyright © 2011-2012 by Danny and Sandra Ringo.  All rights reserved.  Articles may not be reproduced without permission.