Play Ball!

It’s that time of year when every baseball fan gets excited, forgets how their favorite bums played last year, and relishes the fact that for a few weeks at least, their favorite team is in contention.

I went to the opening day game last night to watch the St. Louis Cardinals whup up on my favorite Houston Astros. Since I’m out to enjoy the festivities and baseball, I don’t get frantic when the bums lose, nor obnoxious when they win (well…not too much). After last year’s Astros record comeback from nothing, I’m not sure I can take the stress again!

These images are a few I took, mostly before the game. I created a photo album (link at the right) if you want to see more of the festivities and a nice glimpse of our Minute Maid Park, one of the current string of new parks designed to get the fans closer to the game while including some quirks and twists like the old ballparks of yesteryear. (In our case, we have a “hill” in deep center field and very close left field bleacher which, unfortunately, home-run-bashing Jim Edmunds of the Cardinals found to his liking in the first inning last night. :sad:).

So enjoy these images and by all means, if you’re close to a major league park (or minor league), get to a game or two and enjoy yourself. But bring lots of cash: there seems to be a renewed attempt to pay these ballplayers salaries from the fan’s pockets. (I went by myself and it still cost me $50 for a ticket, parking, a dog, peanuts, and bottled water.) It ain’t cheap, but it’s a blast.

Finally Free

I’m tired…tired of coping and dealing with keeping up with the latest tech gadget, software package, etc. It’s clear that I’m not getting any happier trying to be the mind-numbed consumer of whatever Mr. Retailer puts on the shelf. Add to that a struggle with keeping my hair under control (I am growing it longer, but even with newly discovered “product” I can’t keep it under control). I should also mention struggling lately with a unnatural appreciation of girly things. AND to top it all off, I’m really tired of working just to earn a buck…when all I do is spend, spend, spend.


As of today, I’m denouncing anything even remotely reeking of consumerism, capitalism, societyism, you-ism-name-it-ism, along with some other, long-overdue changes. As evidence for my bold act of freedom, here’s my five-part plan:

  • I just gave noticed to my boss: “I quit.”
  • I’m giving all my stuff away to charity this weekend.
  • I have an appointment at 5 today with my barber to have my head shaved. Hair is the devil’s eyelashes, you know.
  • I’m heading off this weekend on a grand walkabout to points unknown dressed in a nice, silk robe-like thing worn only on holy days by a little Hari-Krishna grandma. It feels so nice.
  • Finally, I have an appointment next week with a Swedish doctor to see about changing things so my feminine side can truly be represented.

While some of you may think this is all crazy, rest assured it’s the path towards finally finding happiness for me. I wouldn’t suggest these changes for any one else, but for me they make sense.

See you on the other side!

Oh, and one more thing: what’s today’s date? 😉

squirrelly friends

While I do have some of those, today’s post is really about those entertaining bits of fur that dash about frantically in yards and, unfortunately, across busy roads. There’s nothing so lazy and delightful as relaxing and watching squirrels romp. The little hams are born entertainers, even if they are a bit hyper.

I rarely catch them on camera since by the time I’m set to shoot they are elsewhere. Amazing speeds, deft climbers and jumpers on branches seemingly too thin to support them, and ever the opportunists define what squirrelness is all about. I’ve ridden my bike on trails before where I’ve almost run over the little guys, not from any effort on my part, but from that quirk of squirreliness that makes them dart out near danger, dart back seeming to seek cover or safety, then at the last moment inexplicably dart back out and nearly get squashed (or worse). And I can’t count the times I’ve held my breath while driving my car and encountering confused squirrels (but amazingly, have never run over one).

The little guy caught here on “film” was brazen and begging at Beck’s Prime during spring break. I shot perhaps 10 frames of him, but only a couple came out! The rest show either a blurry fuzzy thing, or half a tail, etc. This treerat, though, had attitude. From his stance in the top photo he seems to say, “You wanna piece of me?” The Robert DeNiro of squirreldom, I guess.

We used to spend lots of time at the old house watching squirrels play with the box feeder we put up for their nourishment (and our entertainment) close to our living room windows. It was a wooden affair with a Plexiglas front, a small perching ledge, and a hinged top. The operating premise was thus: a) squirrel sits on ledge, b) squirrel stands on hind legs and pushes lid open with nose, and c) squirrel then dines on the reward of morsely bits of corn and peanuts. Most of the time it worked well, but occasional we witnessed a intellectually challenged squirrel who would require many attempts before figuring out how this simple box worked.

We laughed until we cried the time this one squirrel crawled inside the box since the food was low, and sat inside contentedly chewing away with the lid closed. The alpha male of our treetops, sensing a chance to show his supremacy, jumped and landed squarely on the lid, trapping the other squirrel inside. What ensued was a squabble between the captured squirrel, making unbelievable noises and scratching furiously inside, while the alpha male sat on top mostly looking around and ignoring the obvious. Every now and then he’d peer down at his captive and gloat, then resume his grooming and feigned indifference. After watching this for awhile we felt sorry for the dominated squirrel and a quick tap on the window glass changed the scene.

What’s your favorite squirrel story?

Livingston’s Nature

A few nature moments from the trip made last week to Livingston, Texas and the adjacent Sam Houston National Forest on a glorious spring-break day. Enjoy!

Cabin at Double Lake Recreational Area.


Quick, blind, macro shot of something that was a-stirring in the bushes…stuck my camera over the branch and snapped, not knowing what I’d catch. Lucky shot!


Hiking trail resident, or, The Archanid Diner.


Signs of spring were everywhere, and this is an example of that wonderful new-growth shade of green that rewards the patient hiker.


At first glance, an innocuous sign…but check out the moose! Last time I checked, Bullwinkle & Co. preferred the lakes of northern climes more than our summer heat.


Sometimes one stumbles upon a commercial enterprise that actually goes out of its way to preserve nature. Such is the case with Houston’s Beck’s Prime, a high-end burger joint that won the hearts of tree-huggers everywhere (especially in Houston) back in 1989 when they took extraordinary steps to not only avoid the usual land raping but committed to taking care of two ancient live oak trees at their Augusta/Westheimer location.

Tree experts date these trees somewhere between 200 and 400 years old. Each tree is well over 50 feet with crowns exceeding 80 and 100 feet (and root systems larger than that). The pair are likely the two oldest oak trees in Houston, and probably the biggest as well. As you can see in the pictures below with people as scale, they are grand old oaks still growing patiently with little regard to people or time. In the years since, Beck’s has continued its efforts to take care of the trees and they are thriving well despite the constant stream of burger lovers chomping and chatting underneath their majestic crowns. A nice place to spend an idle afternoon.