Friday, August 22, 2008


Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca! It turns out Maxim never really loved her at all. Of course, he did kind of shoot her dead and then sink the boat containing her body in the bay, which should give his second wife at least a little something to think about. Sure, things are good now...

People in love don't think critically.

Thursday was not nearly as jam-packed as Wednesday, though we got a lot of driving in. We wanted to visit a monastery and hummingbird sanctuary in Christoval (that's pronounced Crissed Oval), a ranch in Eldorado (Elder Aydo), the Sonora (pronounced correctly) Caverns, Fort McKavett, Menard, Eden, Paint Rock, and Ballinger, before driving back to town. It's about a 230-mile loop.

We didn't make it quite as far as Menard.

Hummer House, at the Brown Ranch, was the highlight of the day, and would have been so no matter how many things we might have been able to visit. The proprietor has been feeding gallons of sugar water to the little birds for 48 years now. The environment is perfect for them, and they have no predators. So, when you visit, the air is thick with them.

Volunteers at the ranch trap and band, then release them; and a lucky visitor can hold one right in her hand. The heartrate is so swift it feels like a tiny piece of rapidly vibrating machinery; and the little bird, not realizing immediately that it's been released, sits quietly in your cupped palm for five or six seconds before flashing off into the forest.

I also got to hold a gorgeous red tanager, who gave me quite a piece of his mind (at a rough guess, probably about 278%) and pecked ineffectually at my finger before I took him outside the tent and let him fly away.

The hummingbirds lay two eggs at a time, about the size and shape of Tic-Tacs; and their cotton-lined nests are just big enough to cradle a quarter. One of the birds we saw being banded was only a month old, little more than an infant. He cried and cried until he was let go, his long beak wide open. Poor little baby!

Since our road trip was cut short, my boss and I, heading home, passed through Eden and pulled off the main highway to explore a little bit. This is my job, you guys! I get paid to do this!!

Eden is small - well, miniscule, not to put too fine a point on it - but it's cute. Of course, I have a profound affection for tiny roadside towns. After Eden, we headed south a little ways to Menard, where Presidio San Saba/Presidio San Luis de los Amarillos (Fort Saint Louis of the Yellows?!) is located. Menard has a Ditchwalk. They don't have a river. What are you gonna do?

And actually the ditch is an irrigation ditch dating back a couple of hundred years, so it's pretty cool. They seem to take a pretty tongue-in-cheek approach to having a scenic trail that wends along a historic ditch.

On the way home, my boss talked a little bit about my predecessor. She did a good job; she was competent and thorough, and she was generally liked. But I found out yesterday for the first time that she and our section admin did not get along. In fact, the reason my cubicle is at the end of our row is because my predecessor wanted to be as far as possible from the other woman's desk.

I was a little floored, because I think our section admin is a wonderful person, just about as funny and sweet and nice as a human being can possibly be. "Wow," I said. "I guess I'm extra glad we get along, then!"

"Oh, she just loves you to death," said my boss. "I think we have a really great group now."

Today we all went out for lunch; Monday, my boss and I are off for - I can't tell you where; but we won't be back until Friday night. I can't wait!

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At August 22, 2008 8:31 PM, Blogger Kev said...

I think my job would be most improved by getting to hold a hummingbird.

At August 24, 2008 12:19 AM, Blogger Annie in Austin said...

The website has another page where they're holding Painted Buntings - oh, my.
Thanks for the links, Beth.

Garden Annie


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