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Archive for June, 2009

Lordy, Lordy! Where has the time gone?

Doesn’t seem all that long ago, I saw you standing there, on a Saturday night by the juke box, playing your favorite songs. Truly it was Juke Box Magic!

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Then the following evening, thanks to my understanding brother, we went to a movie, our surprise first date, at a State Street movie theater.

A bit later, we went out to eat on your 21st birthday, and SURPRISE TO YOU, we came away from that birthday supper in a different relationship!

A little over a year later, 41 years ago tomorrow, in a very small church, in a very small town, we both said “I do,” and, we did! (Haven’t posted about that special day yet).

You looked absolutely radiant that afternoon, in your beautiful white dress!

On a hot Saturday afternoon, it was an awesome ceremony, and shortly thereafter, an awesome reception held in the new high school dining room.

After leaving the reception, we stopped off to your nearby parents’ home, changed clothes, loaded our suitcases in my shiny, yellow – with black racing stripes – 1967 Ford Fairlane GT, and headed for the Canadian border, for our honeymoon.

Yes, we left on our honeymoon that afternoon, and missed the huge, wild, second wedding reception/party, which my parents threw at their Supper Club, for both or our family’s friends and relatives. From accounts we heard after we arrived back from Canada, it was quite a bash, indeed!

The next afternoon, we arrived at a little remote fishing Camp, just out of Rossport, Ontario, and moved into our small, honeymoon bungalow by the lake, where we would first live as husband and wife.

The Camp setting was on the wooded shore of Lake Superior, had several small cabins, a lodge with dining room, and a float airplane service, to fly in fishermen and hunters to remote camps and lakes.

I remember that when we first walked into our cabin, and I sat on the bed, I immediately thought that it was pretty shaky. So, we immediately pulled the mattresses onto the floor, where they remained for that week.

My father had been to the Camp a week or two earlier, on a fishing trip, and left our family’s 16-foot AlumaCraft fishing boat there for us to use to go lake trout fishing during our week there. From being there myself during previous year’s fishing trips, I had a pretty good idea where to go to catch trout, and we did go out several times, but without much luck.

My father had given us that week at the Camp for a wedding present, so our expense there, was minimal. That was pretty neat.

About midweek, the owner of the Camp gave us a wedding present, also, and took us on a flying tour of the whole area, in one of his float planes, including landing on one lake and taxiing around a large, swimming moose.

Upon returning home from that trip, we setup housekeeping in your grandmother’s vacant home, located just two doors down from the small church we were married in.

Those first two years, ours was kind of a long-distance marriage, a bit like it is now, as you were away during the week some 60 miles south, finishing your university degree. Weekends were precious, when we could be together again.

For our first anniversary, we went on a three-week driving tour of of the upper west, including visiting the Black Hills, the Big Horn Mountains and Yellowstone in Wyoming, and western Montana, including Glacier National Park, with family friends living near there, in the Swan Lake area. An amazing experience! Haven’t posted about that trip yet, either…

A couple of years later, one cold, damp Christmas Day evening, on our drive to your parents home for a holiday family get together, we had a very close brush with the hereafter, when our car slid on glare ice going down a hill, and nearly went over a steep embankment, where we would probably have been killed as the car rolled over and over down the steep incline.

Thank you, Jesus, and that beautiful small tree on the edge of the road!

After you received your degree, I went back for the following two years and received mine.

It wasn’t long thereafter that we started our family, who were included in your Birthday-Mother’s Day post, first with a boy, then our girl, and finally, another boy, the first two being born out west, not far from where we lived and worked on a huge cattle ranch (18,000+ acres) in Wyoming.

You stayed home during those critical, early years, to be with them, to provide them with your love, guidance, nurturing and attention while they were growing and learning. This was, by far, the smartest and most important thing we ever did. The three of them grew up into amazing adults, the majority of the credit for those accomplishments, going to you.

The years passed, and we continued to meet, experience and share those challenges which arose in our lives, continuing our commitment and love for each other.

For 27 1/2 years, you shared me with needy families in north central Mississippi, mainly in the poverty areas of the delta, for what averaged about a month each year, for a mission of sharing and helping, which I felt was important to do. During these experiences, I often brought you and the children along, so that they might learn that it is important in life to look beyond ourselves, reaching out to others in need, as our circumstances and resources permit.

During the past 2 1/2 years, you have been such a loving, patient and understanding spouse, to share me (except for several weeks each year), with the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, who I have had the privilege of assisting in rebuilding their homes and lives, after so many here experienced such tremendous losses to Hurricane Katrina, on Aug. 29, 2005.

It hasn’t been easy for me being down here, so very far from you every day and every night, save for a few over time, nor has it been easy for you, keeping our home up, up there, being alone, too, during my mission to help others.

Probably few couples, except for so many thousands of military families, could make such a physical separation over 2 1/2 years, work like we have, and continue with the same love and affection that we have for each other.

You can, because you are a very special person, and I recognized that more than 41 years ago. I have often commented to others about being your husband, that I must have lived a decent life in the previous lifetime to have been so blessed to share this one with you.

And, it is true.

I miss you dearly, and look forward to seeing you and hugging you, very soon.

HAPPY 41st ANNIVERSARY, HONEY!

I LOVE YOU, AND MISS YOU SO MUCH!!!

Your loving Coast Rat

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Another very hot week has passed, here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail, on the campus of the South Mississippi regional Center, in Long Beach, but despite the torrid weather, the Week #17 Trail Survey results showed that 10 more Blue Bird babies flew, and 12 new eggs, appeared in the nesting boxes, since the last Survey.

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Nesting box #12 has a brand new nest this week, the largest nest of any we have observed this season. This Blue Bird pair really outdid themselves in the construction of this nest, as the top of it comes right up to the entrance hole.

The flight of the 10 babies during the week, brought the 2009 Season Total to 55, 10 ahead of the entire 2008 Total of 45 babies flying the nest. And with 12 new eggs being laid during the past week, that flight total of 55 should go well over 60 by the end of the 2009 Season.

Here are Survey Totals this 2009 Season so far:

81 eggs laid: 9 have been sterile, 4 lost to a predator.

55 babies have flown the nest. – Last Year: 36 babies had flown the nest as of Week #17. Last Year Total Blue Bird babies flying from the nesting boxes: 45.

12 eggs in nesting boxes currently.

0 babies in nesting boxes currently.

Here are the results of Friday’s Blue Bird Trail Survey of the individual nesting boxes, on Friday morning, June 26, 2009:

Nesting Box #1 – 3 Blue Bird babies flew the nest, 1 Blue Bird egg missing. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #2 – 3 large Blue Bird babies flew the nest, 2 Blue Bird eggs left – sterile. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies, 2 Blue Bird eggs.

Nesting Box #3 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #4 – New nest built, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed old nest, cleaned.

Nesting Box #5 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #6 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #7 – New nest built, 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Third Clutch. – Last Week: New nest built, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird eggs – Third Clutch. – Last Week: New nest built – Third Clutch.

Nesting Box #9 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #10 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #11 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed nest, cleaned box.

Nesting Box #12 – 3 Blue Bird eggs – Third Clutch. – Last Week: New nest built – Third Clutch.

Nesting Box #13 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed nest, cleaned box.

Have a great week, and here’s to another quiet hurricane season week in the tropics!

COME ON, COOLER WEATHER AND SOME RAIN!

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Welcome to Week #16 of the 2009 Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail Survey, on the campus of the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach.

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These three large Blue Bird babies will fly from their nesting box any day now.

In a word, things along the Blue Bird Trail this week, were: HOT! The daily average high temperature this week hovered around 95-96 degrees. This is mid-June, not August. What the heck?

I had wondered if this extremely hot weather we are currently experiencing, might slow down or temporarily stop mating season activity among the Blue Birds here on the Trail. Data from today’s Trail Survey, however, doesn’t support that hypothesis, as we found 3 new Blue Bird nests in the nesting boxes, one with a new egg in it. Looks like the pairs are still mating and producing eggs.

Master Naturalist Buddy John expressed a measure of satisfaction today, with the results of the 2009 Blue Bird mating season, after tallying the Survey data, he noted enthusiastically that the current number of Blue Bird babies which have flown from the nesting boxes (45), now equals that total number of babies which flew from the nests during the entire 2008 Season. And, there are still 8 babies in the nesting boxes, as well as three new nests.

It will be interesting to see how long the 2009 Blue Bird mating season lasts, here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Here are Survey Totals this 2009 Season so far:

First Clutch Totals:
33 eggs laid total, 5 of which were sterile.
28 Blue Bird babies flew the nest.

Second Clutch Totals (so far):
36 eggs laid total, 3 of which were lost to a predator.
6 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 6 eggs in nesting boxes.
8 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 22 babies in nesting boxes.
17 Blue Bird babies flew the nest. – Last Week: 3 babies had flown the nest.

Third Clutch Totals (so far):
1 egg laid
3 nesting boxes have new nests in them.

2009 Season Totals (so far):

70 eggs laid: 5 have been sterile, 3 lost to a predator. – Last Week: 69 eggs. Last Year: 73 eggs laid, 12 sterile, 5 lost to predators, as of Week #16.

45 babies have flown the nest. – Last Week: 31 babies. Last Year: 33 babies had flown the nest as of Week #16.

7 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 7 eggs.

6 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 22 babies.

Here are the results of Friday’s Blue Bird Trail Survey – June 19, 2009:

Nesting Box #1 – 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #2 – 2 large Blue Bird babies, 3 Blue Bird eggs. – Last Week: 2 Blue Bird babies, 3 Blue Bird eggs.

Nesting Box #3 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #4 – 4 Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed old nest, cleaned. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #5 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #6 – 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #7 – New nest built, 1 egg – Third Clutch. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #8 – New nest built – Third Clutch. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #9 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #10 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #11 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed nest, cleaned box. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #12 – New nest built – Third Clutch. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #13 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies flew the nest, removed nest, cleaned box. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies.

Have a great week!

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A couple of weeks ago, my good friend here on the coast, Master Naturalist Andrea, of Hummingbird Trapping fame, was kind enough to invite me to join her and spouse, Ralph, to journey with them over to the French Quarter in New Orleans yesterday, to attend the Annual French Market Creole Tomato Festival.

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Entrance arch to the French Market, in the French Quarter, New Orleans.

During this past week, Andrea and I talked briefly about the upcoming Festival, and what all it might have in store for us. During our conversations, Andrea informed me that she has also invited our mutual close friend and co-worker, Master Naturalist Buddy John, to come along to the festival.

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Annual Creole Tomato Festival in the French Market.

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There were lots of tomatoes for sale at the Creole Tomato Festival.

So, yesterday morning early, I drove the two miles over to Andrea and Ralph’s home, in nearby Pass Christian, to park my car at their place, and ride with them and John over to The Big Easy, for this French Quarter special event.

Upon arriving at Andrea’s and Ralph’s, I learned that John, and his brother Bill, a University Teacher from Dothan, Alabama, who was in town visiting John and his parents, would be meeting us there in the French Quarter.

Under a partly cloudy sky, with a slight breeze and a morning temperature already above 80 degrees at 8:30am, Andrea, Ralph and I set out across the new, $266 million Bay of St. Louis bridge, built after the old one was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, on our way to New Orleans and the Creole Tomato Festival.

While driving into the east side of New Orleans, we drove past and through several areas of the City which had been flooded just after Katrina, noting evidence of both serious recovery and seriously damaged areas, still awaiting recovery efforts.

In my own mind, as we drove through those areas, I silently wondered how many more years it would take for these heavily damaged areas to rebuild.

I also said a silent prayer as we drove along I-10, entering the City, for the thousands of families who were former residents here, prior to the storm and the flooding, who had suffered so much agony and loss because of Katrina.

Just before 10:00am, we left I-10 and withing several minutes, we arrived at the U.S, Mint, and shortly thereafter, made our way down Decatur Street, and into the Public Parking lot, over the Mississippi River berm, behind the Cafe Du Monde, finding a vacant parking space in short order.

When we stopped off at the local tourist information office in the ground floor of one of the Pontalba Apartment Buildings, which line Jackson Square on two sides, we wanted to find out the particulars about the festival.

In the information office, we learned that not only was the Annual Creole Tomato Festival going on during the weekend in the French Market area, but to our good fortune, there were also two other festivals going on: the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival! The three festivals were actually working together to make it a combined weekend festival, called: New Orleans Vieux-To-Do.

As we left the car, I slung by camera bag over my left shoulder, the sling of my Nikon D100 over my right shoulder, and a bottle of water in my right hip pocket. At that time, the streets and sidewalks were not too crowded yet, and it was easy to walk right along.

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Fried Green Tomatoes were also available at the Festival.

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There are lots of benches all around the Jackson Square walk ways, for families to rest at.

Ralph called John to find out where he and his brother were, and learned they were out 15 minutes out yet, from our location. So, the three of us slowly made our way across Decatur Street, over to Jackson Square, and walked around to the St. Louis Cathedral to take a look inside.
The St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

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The St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

The cathedral is huge, and inside, very beautiful. A number of people were inside, some sitting in pews, while others walked around reading the various plaques, and viewing the inside architectural features. I had never been inside it before, and it is worth a visit if you are in that area.

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An interior view of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

After snapping a few images, we walked back outside, and then around the other side of the Square, past all of the Carriages lined up waiting for fares on Decatur Street, to the corner across from the Cafe Du Monde.
The world famous Cafe Du Monde, on Decatur Street, in the French Quarter.

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Ralph and Andrea walk around Jackson Square.

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Dozens of mule-drawn carriages line Decatur Street, in front of Jackson Square, across from the Cafe Du Monde, in the French Quarter.

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Andrea checks out paintings displayed on the front fence on Jackson Square.

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There were some body-painted mimes hawking for dollars and change around Jackson Square.

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John, Bill, Ralph and Andrea talk next to Jackson Square.

As we stood there briefly, talking, waiting for John and Bill, watching a silver-painted mime doing a routine, I glanced across at the Cafe Du Monde and noted that there was a line of customers, stretching all the way around to the back of the awning area, and back around front again, waiting to get inside.

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World famous Cafe Du Monde.

WOW! That line meant for quite a wait to get in there, to sit at a table for a cup of chicory coffee and white, powder sugar-covered, beignets.

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In this file image I snapped during a 2004 visit I made to The Cafe Du Monde, you see what a typical visitor to the world-famous Cafe experiences, partaking of the delicious, but rich, beignets.

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Inside the kitchen of The Cafe Du Monde is where the magic of the beignets takes place, when, fresh out-of-the fryer, a copious amount of powdered sugar is heaped on high, as is shown in progress in this file image I snapped on a previous visit to the cafe, in 2004.

A few minutes later, as the area streets filled with auto traffic, and the sidewalks and walk ways filled with people, John and Bill walked around the corner fence of Jackson Square, and made their way to where the three of us waited.

After exchanging greetings and pleasantries, the five of us walked across the street by the Cafe Du Monde, and started up Decatur towards the French Market where all the festival vendors and music stages were located.

As we walked past the entrance of the Cafe Du Monde, I noticed that there at the entrance were two men playing music for the customers at the crowded tables inside, and those who waited outside, for their turn at enjoying the Cafe Du Monde experience.

I recognized one of the musicians as Herman “Hack” Bartholomew, an incredibly-talented, black trumpet player, I had met and talked with several times over the past 7-8 years, in my past visits to the French Quarter and the Cafe Du Monde. As we walked by the, I gave Hack a squeeze on the top of his shoulder, and said Hello, telling him that he was still playing beautifully.

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New Orleans’ own Hack Bartholomew, outside of the Cafe Du Monde, in a file image I snapped of him during a visit I made there in mid-2004, during The Essence of Jazz Fest.

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One end of the French Market also has fruits and vegetables for sale.

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Various kinds of fish are also available in the Farmer’s Market section of the French Market.

We then spent the next 45 minutes or so, walking around the French Market area, through all of the vendor stands and tables, and watching the Zydeco band playing and spectators dancing at the upper music stand of the Market.

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There were three music venues set up in the French Market area for the Festival.

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One of the Zydeco music bands playing Saturday morning at the Festival.

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Ralph and Andrea paused to watch a number of people dancing to the Zydeco music.

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One of the many couples dancing to Zydeco music Saturday morning.

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Andrea browses at one of the vendor stands in the French Market flea market.

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Andrea tries on sun glasses at one of the French Market stands.

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Display manikin at the French market.

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Another display manikin at the French Market.

During that time, the sun was shining down hotly, which prompted the other three fellows to visit one of the beer stands for a cup or two of one of the tasty brews on tap there.

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The fellows having a beer.

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Ralph and John enjoy a beer or two Saturday morning, in the sun and heat.

It was fun for me, just doing some serious people-watching then, as all of the people there moved about, danced, sat and stood around, just quietly enjoying themselves. I found myself silently wishing that Blond Girl could be there with me, sharing the experience. Another time…

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Two ladies enjoying a huge plate of boiled crayfish at the Creole Tomato Festival.

At about 11:00am or so we walked down to the French Market Cafe for lunch, ending up in the upstairs dining room, when the main floor room was already full of diners. Our lunches consisted mainly of crayfish, oyster, gumbo and salad entries, with unsweetened tea as the preferred beverage of choice.

It was nice to be able to sit down and eat in the air conditioning, during our lunch. And to also have the opportunity to enjoy the relaxed, friendly conservation that ensued between us.

Just a wonderful time, enjoying a special experience with special friends, while being so far from family and home.

After lunch, we walked outside, and then over to the old Ursuline Convent for a short visit, which was “Home of Ursuline Nuns who came from France to relieve the poor, sick and provide education for young girls.” It was the first girls school in Louisiana, and the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.

Upon leaving there, the other four walked back over to the French Market to enjoy the sites, while I took a short opportunity to walk down Decatur Street, looking for a souvenir cap, with the inscription “Bite Me – Bait Company.”

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Lady at the fountain, next to the river, behind the Cafe Du Monde.

After checking quickly in about a dozen souvenir shops, I was unable to locate one of those, and walked back up Decatur to the gold John of Arc Statue, to meet Andrea and Ralph around 2:00pm, so we could head back towards Long Beach.

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One of the other bands playing Saturday afternoon at the Creole Tomato Festival.

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An old hearse extremely decorated with various objects, parked on Decatur Street Saturday during the Festival.

Although the sun and the heat was taking its toll on me by then, I felt a bit sad we were leaving the French Quarter.

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Lots of trees in the French Quarter, like this beautiful Crape Myrtle, were in brilliant bloom Saturday along Decatur Street.

I truly enjoy visiting there, and always seem to find that when I am fortunate enough to visit, it never seems to be for enough hours to see and experience all there that I want to see and experience there. The place just draws me, beckons to me and has a hold on me.

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One of the many carriages providing guided rides in the French Quarter.

We decided to drive back to Mississippi on U.S. 90, along the coast, to see the fishing camps along there, and pay a visit to the Dong Phuong Vietnamese Bakery, just east of New Orleans, for some tasty baked goodies.

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The Dong Phuong Vietnamese Bakery on U. S. 90, just east of New Orleans, where we stopped to buy some baked goodies on the way back home from the French Quarter.

Later, after crossing back over the Bay St. Louis bridge, into Pass Christian, only a mile or so from his home, Ralph noted that it was definitely time for a nap when he arrived at there, as he was getting tired.

And, so was I.

It sounded like a good plan to me.

Thanks again, Andrea and Ralph, for inviting me along! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREA, on Thursday!

A good day, with good friends, at a good place.

Try it, when you get the chance.

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Another week has passed along the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail, on the campus of the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach, and it’s time to post Trail Survey results for Friday, June 12, 2009.

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Several of the nesting boxes have large babies like these bauble heads, which will be flying this week.

The average daily temperature here on the coast now, has crept up to 90-92 degrees, falling to an average of 74-75 at night. Fortunately, the humidity hasn’t been too bad for the past 2-3 weeks.

The Blue Bird babies have continued to grow during the past week, with the first 3 babies of the Second Clutch flew from the nesting box. There will be at least 10 more flying any day, with several nesting boxes having large babies in them.

Master Naturalist Buddy John continues to be enthused about the Blue Bird numbers the Trail is generating this 2009 Season.

Here are Survey Totals this 2009 Season so far:

First Clutch Totals:
33 eggs laid total, 5 of which were sterile.
28 Blue Bird babies flew the nest.

Second Clutch Totals (so far):
36 eggs laid total, 3 of which were lost to a predator.
6 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 7 eggs in nesting boxes.
22 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 26 babies in nesting boxes.
3 Blue Bird babies flew the nest.

2009 Season Totals (so far):

69 eggs laid: 5 have been sterile, 3 lost to a predator. – Last Week: Same total as this week. Last Year: 59 eggs laid, 12 sterile, 5 lost to predators, as of Week #15.

31 babies have flown the nest. – Last Week: 28 babies. Last Year: 29 babies had flown the nest as of Week #15.

6 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 7 eggs.

22 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 26 babies.

Here are the results of Friday’s Blue Bird Trail Survey – June 12, 2009:

Nesting Box #1 – 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg.

Nesting Box #2 – 2 Blue Bird babies, 3 Blue Bird eggs. – Last Week: 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Nesting Box #3 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: No new activity, nest removed, box cleaned.

Nesting Box #4 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 5 new Blue Bird babies (Probably only 4 babies).

Nesting Box #5 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #6 – 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 3 new Blue Bird babies, 1 hatching at Survey time, 1 egg not hatched yet.

Nesting Box #7 – 3 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird babies (or 3 babies, 1 egg).

Nesting Box #8 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #9 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #10 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #11 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies – ready to fly. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #12 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty nesting box, no activity.

Nesting Box #13 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies – ready to fly. – Last Week: 5 Large Blue Bird babies.

The first two weeks of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season have passed quietly, without any storm activity in the tropics or gulf.

Let’s hope it stays that way until December.

Have a good week!

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June 10, is only a few hours away, and so it is time to wish our daughter a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, on that special day!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY!!!

Hope your day is very special!

It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago that you were born, and later that I was bouncing you on my knee.

Then you were in high school and driving all the boys there crazy, with your good looks and the wonderful young lady you had become.

How does a father feel at that time about his one and only daughter, his little princess, his little sweetie pie? A little story here might provide a small hint.

The fall of your freshman year, when you had such beautiful, long, blond curls,
you were chosen as one of the members of the Varsity Football Cheerleader Squad, one of the prettiest girls on the squad.

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I took this photo of our daughter when she was in high school, which would have been about 15 years ago, one evening when our family was visiting a small lake not far from our home. The image actually won a contest back then.

At that time, one of my part-time jobs was taking high school sports photos for the local weekly newspaper in our small village.

I remember vividly being at one fall, home football game, there to shoot football action images, and you were there, too, with the cheer squad.

During the pre-game warm-ups, I was sitting down on the sidelines, on our home team bench, while our local boys were warming up, getting ready to play.

Of course, having been the home team photographer for a game or two already, I knew most of the boys on our team.

Several of the team “jocks” were all warmed up, and then came over to where I was sitting, several sat down, and proceeded to talk small talk with me and between themselves.

When they had come over by me and sat down, to pass the time un til the game started, I was sharpening my treasured, folding Plainsman PUMA hunting knife, using a small diamond embedded sharpening tool I had bought in Wyoming many years ago.

Unfolded, the blade knife is about 5″ long, and I keep the knife very sharp, for when I used to take it deer hunting back then.

Anyway, as I sat there sharpening the knife, getting it extremely sharp, the football jocks all turned to watch what I was doing as we talked.

When I was sure I had their complete attention, I casually said, “This year’s cheerleader squad sure had some pretty girls this season,” and as I made the comment, I kind of gestured over to where the cheer squad was practicing about 20 yards away.

Virtually all of the jocks said, “Yeah, they’re pretty hot, all right!”

I then asked, “What do you guys think of that pretty blond freshman, on the far left there?”

And, again, their response was pretty much the same as before, “Yeah, she’s really hot all right!”

Then, as I continued to move the blade back and forth across the sharpening tool, touching the edge and wincing slightly, like I had maybe cut myself on the razor-sharp blade, I said, “You know, fellows, that pretty blond freshman there, is my daughter, and she’s pretty darn special to me. As her father, I would be pretty upset if anyone were to ever try to take undue advantage or liberty with her in any way, if they were to ever treat her as less than a lady.”

And then there was SILENCE! COMPLETE SILENCE, from the jocks, as they looked over at me, not moving, and I sat there, sharpening.

About 30 seconds later, I folded up the knife, put it and the sharpener in my pocket, got up, starting to walk away, saying to my silent young audience, “Well, good luck in the game, fellows; give it your best.”

And I walked down the sidelines several yards, with my camera.

All of the above took place over a period of only 4-5 minutes, but it was an interesting experience, for all concerned.

At my daughter’s wedding several years ago, I told this story at the reception, and apologized to her, saying that I was sorry for putting such a damper on her high school dating life – none of those guys there that night ever called her for a date!

The truth is, though, I wasn’t sorry that they didn’t call her.

The image I shot below shows the sweetheart she grew into.

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I snapped this image of my daughter on her wedding day, about 5 years ago.

One neat thing about her birthday being on June 10th, is that it is so easy to remember: it’s only one day later than her dad’s birthday, June 9th (I’m getting old)!

No father could ever ask for a nicer, more loving daughter than you!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETIE!

I LOVE YOU!

Dad

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It’s Week #14 of the 2009 Long Beach, Mississippi Blue Bird Trail Survey already, with the number of Blue Bird eggs and new babies hatched this season, continuing to grow.

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A female Blue Bird peers out of her nesting box in this April 2008 file image.

This first Trail Survey of June 2009, found Master Naturalist Buddy John and your author doing the Survey with the weather here in Long Beach being partly cloudy, a light breeze and the temperature in the mid-80s. Not too shabby, compared to what’s coming in the next 3 months.

We were excited to find twelve new Blue Bird babies hatched during this past week, bringing the total so far this Second Hatch, to 26 babies, and for the Season, to 54 babies hatched.

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When we opened Nesting Box #6 during today’s Survey, we found 3 newly hatched babies, 1 baby in the process of coming out of the egg, and one egg still intact.

When we opened the front cover on Nesting Box #6 this afternoon, we were greeted with 3 brand new babies, one more in the process of coming out of an egg, and one egg still whole. Since we started doing the Trail Survey in February 2008, this is the first time we had seen one of the Blue Bird babies hatching.

Here are Survey Totals this 2009 Season so far:

First Hatch Totals:
33 eggs laid total, 5 of which were sterile.
28 Blue Bird babies flew the nest.

Second Hatch Totals (so far):
36 eggs laid total, 3 of which were lost to a predator.
7 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 19 eggs in nesting boxes.
26 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 14 babies in nesting boxes.

2009 Season Totals (so far):

69 eggs laid: 5 have been sterile, 3 lost to a predator. – Last Week: Same total as this week. Last Year: 56 eggs laid, 12 sterile, 5 lost to predators, as of Week #14.

28 babies have flown the nest. – Last Week: Same as this week. Last Year: 24 babies had flown the nest as of Week #14.

7 eggs in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 19 eggs.

26 babies in nesting boxes currently. – Last Week: 14 babies.

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Large Blue Bird babies in Nesting Box #13, during today’s Survey.

During the week, one of the Center staff, spotted a large, furry critter trying to climb up the mounting pole of nesting box #7. After hearing of that close predator call, rather than take any further chance on possibly losing babies in this box, to this or other climbing predators, I applied lithium grease to the exterior of the 2″ plastic conduit pole, to hopefully keep the critter out of the nesting box, and away from the babies.

We’ll see if it works.

Here are the results of Friday’s Blue Bird Trail Survey – June 5, 2009:

Nesting Box #1 – 3 Blue Bird babies, 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Nesting Box #2 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last Week: 5 Blue Bird eggs; Mama Blue Bird went right to work and laid 4 new eggs during the past week.

Nesting Box #3 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: No new activity, nest removed, box cleaned.

Nesting Box #4 – 5 new Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Nesting Box #5 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #6 – 3 new Blue Bird babies, 1 hatching at Survey time, 1 egg not hatched yet. – Last Week: 5 Blue Bird eggs.

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Large Blue Bird babies in nesting Box #11 during today’s Survey.

Nesting Box #7 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #8 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Some straw, no new activity, removed straw, cleaned box.

Nesting Box #9 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #10 – Empty box, no activity. – Last Week: Empty box, no activity.

Nesting Box #11 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 5 new Blue Bird babies.

Nesting Box #12 – Empty nesting box, no activity. – Last Week: Some straw in box, no new activity, removed straw, cleaned box.

Nesting Box #13 – 5 Large Blue Bird babies. – Last Week: 5 Blue Bird babies.

Have a great week!

P.S.-

Now that the Hurricane Season is officially here, for the next several months, I will be paying closer attention to the Weather Channel “Tropical Update.”

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