This evening, we had a nice sunset of pink, purple, and orange. The surrounding sky had pink and blue as well. It was so pretty. Since I had the camera in my hands, I also captured a few Christmas photos.
Benny loves to relax under our Christmas tree. He enjoys slip and slight with the tree skirt around in the front room. And it is even more fun when Ozzy joins him in his mischievous behavior. Benny is such a funny cat.
Last weekend, Kevin and I purchased a Balsam Fir for Christmas. Two weeks prior, I ordered new Christmas ornaments. On Sunday, I decorated the tree. And today finally, I came around to capture several photos. The cats got a hold of the tree skirt. And the dogs think they can use some ornaments as dog toys. It never gets dull with our furbabies. This is one of the reasons, we changed our Christmas baubles from glass to plastic. So far, the pets have kept their paws away from the wooden ornaments. They are all excited about the season.
Christmas 2003 was bittersweet. It was Katelynn’s first Christmas, but at the same time, it was our last Christmas in Germany.
In December 2004, we had a Dallas Holiday Wish Celebration. The Beach Boys had a concert, and even Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto came for visit to sing and dance in front of the Dallas City Hall. I have it all on video tape footage and didn’t captured too many photo of the event.
In 2005 we bought our house in Texas. The same year, we celebrated Christmas/Yuletide in our new home.
Christmas stars shine on high, Golden stars in the wint’ry sky; Christmas candles in windows bright Send s greeting into the night; While in our hearts the Christmas flame, Glows with a love like his who came, The infant Christ of lowly birth, To bring good will and peace to the the earth.
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers breed in savannas with scattered trees, shrubs, and patches of brush in the south-central U.S. and just over the border into northern Mexico. They also breed in towns, farm fields, pastures, and landscaped areas like golf courses or parks—areas with a mixture of feeding perches, open space, and trees for nesting. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers spend the winter in southern Mexico and Central America, in humid savannas, pastures, agricultural lands, scrublands, villages, towns, and the edges of tropical deciduous forests. They commonly stay below 5,000 feet elevation but occasionally winter at up to 7,500 feet. Sometimes they roost in towns and disperse to the countryside to forage.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flies in straight lines with fast wingbeats, its tail folded. It also often hovers with its tail spread or makes abrupt turns in midair. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers form large roosts during spring and fall migration, and they flock in winter as well. In some populations, the males continue roosting in groups throughout the breeding season, but breeding birds tend to forage alone or in pairs. Males arrive before females in the early spring to establish and defend territories. After pairing up, both males and females chase and attack other individuals that intrude onto their territory. Trespassing happens frequently, especially in the early morning, so keep an eye out if you see these birds as you may be treated to an amazing aerial chase. Pairs are monogamous within a breeding season but don’t always reunite in later years. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers attack intruding Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Mourning Doves, Great-tailed Grackles, Common Grackles, Northern Mockingbirds, Western Kingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, House Sparrows, American Crows, Blue Jays, and Lark Sparrows.
Our family went for dinner in the late afternoon at the Crystal Palace. There we met Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh. It was great food. Especially, Sara enjoyed her Macaroni & Cheese and vegetables. She made quite a mess on the table. But, that is the fun part.
November comes to an end, and so does the Autumn season. The days become shorter, and the nights are much longer. We have some nights below freezing. The greenhouse is done for this Autumn. Since mid-November, I fill the feeders with hot pepper bird seeds to keep away Bruno from trashing the trays. The birds don’t mind the hot seeds. It’s still November. But soon, the last month of the year will arrive.
Red Planet Day, November 28, recognizes the planet which has captivated human observers for countless years, Mars. Right now, we know that Mars is red thanks to photographs beamed back to Earth from American rovers.
For centuries, the naked human eye has been able to detect the reddish tinge of the solar system’s fourth planet, glimmering in the night sky. Little did scientists know, the red on Mars’ surface came from a preponderance of iron oxide, common rust. On Red Planet Day we celebrate our fascination with Mars, along with all the scientific advancements in understanding the dusty planet.
Today is the first Advent Sunday. Three more Sundays will follow before Christmas will be here. On each Sunday, we will burn a candle. So, by the Sunday which will be followed by Christmas, all four candles will burn on our Advent wreath. Advent is the season to prepare for the Birth of Christ. But it actually originated from the ancient Celtic tradition. It has the symbolic meaning of the season leading to the Winter Solstice. Yule is upon us.
Since Kevin and I were on our way to Danbury, I mentioned the new Sandy Hooks Memorial to him. “Well, it’s not raining. Let’s get off Interstate 84 and check it out!” Arriving at the parking lot, we were not the only people visiting the Sandy Hooks Permanent Memorial. Several visitors came to look at the new place on Black Friday, since it was recently opened on November 13th. Kevin and I walked around the Reflecting Pool to read the engraved names of the victims of the school shooting, which happened almost a decade ago.
The Sandy Hooks Memorial has a Visitor Plaque at the entrance, which includes a quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama when he spoke at an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School on December 16, 2012.
Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world, too, has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you.
Encased within the stone is soil created from items left in impromptu memorials throughout Newtown in the days following the tragedy.
The Reflection Pool is the main feature which sits at the center of a circling network of gravel paths. In the very center of the basin is a young sycamore tree, symboling the young ages of the victims
The memorial is perfectly designed for what it sadly represents. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in Spring and Summer when all the flowers bloom and the ornamental grasses will complement them.
Turkey Vultures are the most widespread of all the New World Vultures. They range across most of the Americas from southern Canada, through most of the continental United States, into Mexico, Central America,, and most of South America all the way south to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of Argentina. Northern populations of Turkey Vultures are migratory and will travel south to spend winters in Mexico, Central America, and coastal regions of the United States. During migration season, if you are in the right spot, it is possible to see waves upon waves of thousands of Turkey Vultures, along with other species of vultures and other species of raptors, as they float across the sky toward warmer climates.
Turkey Vultures are adapted to living in a wide range of habitats and can be found anywhere. You may spot one soaring over deserts and grasslands in search of prey, roosting in trees in forested areas, feeding on dead fish alongside marshes or coastlines, perching on fence posts in agricultural fields, or even scavenging around garbage dumps and landfills. They spend a lot of time soaring and can travel great distances in relatively short periods.
The Grand Opening of the Watertown Barks & Recreation Dog Park was three weeks ago, I believe. Sara was bugging us to take Zoey to the park, since our Zoey had the zoomies, lately. So much energy has to go somewhere. Today we went to the dog park. And Zoey got so excited, she jumped straight out of the car, after I opened the door. She wasn’t going far. And thank goodness, she had her leash on, which I could grab easily. Once she was in the gated area, we could release her from the leash. Immediately, she made friends with a couple of dogs, who greeted her at the entrance. At the end, she said hello to a dozen of dogs and their owners, before she got tired. And it was time to go home.
It definitely gets colder here in Connecticut. The west wind is stiff. Even with “onion layers” of a t-shirt, two hoodies, and a jacket, I’m still chilled to the bones. It will take a while for me to get used to these temperatures again. In the meantime, I have some scented candles burning to keep me warm. Brrrr! 🥶
The leaves hang on to the last moments of Autumn before they will give in to the wind, the cold gets too strong and they’ll drop. Yesterday, we had our first light snowfall in Connecticut. Winter sure is coming soon. Maybe we will have a white Christmas, again. 🎄☃❄
The familiar Great Blue Heron is the largest in North America. It is a large bird, with a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck. In flight, it looks enormous, with a six-foot wingspan. Adults sport a shaggy ruff at the base of their necks. A black eyebrow extends back to black plumes emerging from the head. Juveniles have a dark crown with no plumes or ruff, and a mottled neck. In flight, a Great Blue Heron typically holds its head toward its body with its neck bent.
Adaptable and widespread, the Great Blue Heron is found in various habitats. When feeding, it is usually seen in slow-moving or calm salt, fresh, or brackish water. Great Blue Herons inhabit sheltered, shallow bays and inlets, sloughs, marshes, wet meadows, shores of lakes, and rivers. Nesting colonies are typically found in mature forests, on islands, or near mudflats, and do best when they are free of human disturbance and have foraging areas close by.
Great Blue Herons are often seen flying high overhead with slow wing beats. When foraging, they stand silently along riverbanks, lake shores, or wet meadows, waiting for prey to come by, which they then strike with their bills. They will also stalk prey slowly and deliberately. Although they hunt predominantly daily, they may also be active at night. They are solitary or small-group foragers, but they nest in colonies. Males typically choose shoreline areas for foraging, and females and juveniles forage in more upland areas.
Since we live here in Connecticut, we miss the American Heroes Festival in our former hometown in Texas. Every year, the city had several good bands and a headliner playing on stage; free entry. The American Heroes Festival also had a carnival, beer tents, and concession stands. The evening always ended with a nice firework display. One of the reasons for the festival is we have a lot of veterans, including Kevin, in that community. I wish, Watertown or surrounding communities had something similar to the American Heroes Festival. It would be a lot of fun celebrating Veteran’s Day together.
A Tragedy At The Veteran’s Weekend In Dallas, Texas
I also want to remember the pilots and crew, who was involved in the terrible tragedy of today’s Commemorative Air Force’s Wings over Dallas Airshow. May they rest in peace and the families be in our prayers. Sadly, six lives have been lost.
The Three Soldiers (also known as The Three Servicemen) is a bronze statue by Frederick Hart. Unveiled on Veterans Day, November 11, 1984, on the National Mall, it is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorating the Vietnam War. It was the first representation of an African American on the National Mall.
To portray the major ethnic groups that were represented in the ranks of U.S. combat personnel that served in Vietnam, the statue’s three men are purposely identifiable as European American (center), African American (right), and Latino American (left). These three figures were based on seven actual young men, of which two (the Caucasian-American and the African-American) were active-duty Marines when the sculpture was commissioned. The Caucasian figure was modeled after James E. Connell III, then a Corporal in the Marines; the African-American figure was modeled after three men, Marine Corporal Terrance Green, Rodney Sherrill, and Scotty Dillingham; the Hispanic figure was modeled after Guillermo (Willie) Smith De Perez DeLeon and Rene Farkas.
Today, Germany celebrates its 33rd Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. East and West Germany became officially “one” country and therefore many people became reunited with their families, again. Since 1990, we celebrate the Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) on October 3rd every year.
These damselflies inhabit freshwater bodies whose conditions range, they have been seen in acidic fens as well as eutrophic ponds. They have been considered one of the more sensitive insects in an aquatic setting. They are important within the trophic levels as they are an intermediate predator They consume smaller larvae and they are preyed on by fish and larvae bigger than them. The larvae prefer a habitat that has a more complex structure in the ground composition as well as the plants. The larval stages spend most of their time within the plants, climbing, and feeding. Although they do prefer a more complex habitat, they can also be found in habitats with simpler vegetation. They are efficient in both complexities equally, but the complex vegetation also serves as protection from fish. These larvae are able to live in shallow areas of water without showing signs of competition between the larvae. The damselfly larvae require a plant structure that can withstand the backward movement that occurs when the labium protracts to catch food.
The males of this species are a cerulean blue color with black markings, while the females have a larger variation in their coloring. Within females, there are a few different morphs ch they can take, andromorph and heteromorph. Andromorphic females resemble the cerulean blue males, but they have more black patterning on their bodies. The heteromorphic females are more of a brown or green-brown color and do not resemble the males at all. The reasoning behind the different morphs is to attempt to limit the amount of attention the female receives when she is near the water for reproduction. The common blue damselfly can be easily mistaken for the azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella), but on the back and the thorax, the common blue damselfly has more blue than black; for the azure damselfly, it is the other way around. The second segment of the thorax has a distinctive spot with a line below connecting to the third segment. Another difference can be observed when inspecting the side of the thorax. The common blue damselfly has only one small black stripe there, while all other blue damselflies have two.
Despite it being a chilly and windy morning, I still went outside to photograph the Lunar Eclipse. When I walked up the driveway, I also could see many star constellations. Due to a clear sky, the stars were very bright. On top of the driveway, I had to hurry up. The Moon set soon. However, it was still in the phase of totality. When I was done capturing photos, it dawned in the east. I also had enough of the cold wind. I was chilled and needed some coffee.
While our family waited for the parade to begin, we all took a stroll through Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Kevin, our sister-in-law, and the kids rode Splash Mountain. Sara and I sat on a bench and waited for them. Later, we all went to the Haunted Mansion because it is a much slower ride. Due to the warmer weather, I also noticed that the trees began to bud and bloom.
Joshua was not happy when I told the pack that they have breakfast and dinner one hour later, from now on until March: “WHAAAT? Do we have to wait until dawn? What is this sorcery? I don’t understand it. But if you say so, I guess it is what it is. Only humans get this crazy idea, of changing their clocks back and forth. And they suppose to be the most intelligent species on this planet. … ” … As we can see, Joshua is on a rant about the end of daylight saving. In the USA, Canada, Greenland, Mexico, and some Caribbean Islands, we will change our clocks one hour BACK, tonight.
In 2012, a movement was launched officially recognizing the American bison as the national mammal of the United States. Organizers included making National Bison Day the first Saturday of November. The United States Senate signed resolutions yearly supporting the passage of such a proclamation. On May 9, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the law making the American bison the national mammal of the United States.
This week it was unseasonably warm during the days in Connecticut. The nights were cold, which brought a lot of moisture. And therefore, we had to deal with some fog in the morning. The forest looked very enchanted; especially with celebrating Halloween/Samhain and Dìa de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead in the same week. A lot of leaves have been falling, and some of the trees are bare and look dead, which adds to the spooky appearance.
The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by excavators led by the Egyptologist Howard Carter. Whereas the tombs of most pharaohs were plundered in ancient times, Tutankhamun’s tomb was hidden by debris for most of its existence and therefore not extensively robbed. It thus became the first known largely intact royal burial from ancient Egypt.
The tomb was uncovered beginning on 4 November 1922 during an excavation by Carter and his patron, George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. The unexpectedly rich burial consisted of more than five thousand objects, many of which were in a highly fragile state, so conserving the burial goods for removal from the tomb required an unprecedented effort. The opulence of the burial goods inspired a media frenzy and popularised ancient Egyptian-inspired designs with the Western public. To the Egyptians, who had recently become partially independent of British rule, the tomb became a symbol of national pride, strengthening Pharaonism. This nationalist ideology emphasized modern Egypt’s ties to ancient civilization and created friction between Egyptians and the British-led excavation team. The publicity surrounding the excavation intensified when Carnarvon died of an infection, giving rise to speculation that his death and other misfortunes connected with the tomb were the results of an ancient curse.
After Carnarvon’s death tensions arose between Carter and the Egyptian government over who should control access to the tomb. In early 1924, Carter stopped work in protest, beginning a dispute that lasted until the end of the year. Under the agreement that resolved the dispute, the artifacts from the tomb would not be divided between the government and the dig’s sponsors, as was standard practice in previous Egyptological digs, and most of the tomb’s contents went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In later seasons media attention waned, apart from coverage of the removal of Tutankhamun’s mummy from its coffin in 1925. The last two chambers of the tomb were cleared from 1926 to 1930, and the last of the burial goods were conserved and shipped to Cairo in 1932.
The tomb’s discovery did not reveal as much about the history of Tutankhamun’s time as Egyptologists had initially hoped, but it did establish the length of his reign and gave clues about the end of the Amarna Period, the era of radical innovation that preceded his reign. It was more informative about the material culture of Tutankhamun’s time, demonstrating what a complete royal burial was like and providing evidence about the lifestyles of wealthy Egyptians and the behavior of ancient tomb robbers. The interest generated by the find stimulated efforts to train Egyptians in Egyptology. Since the discovery, the Egyptian government has capitalized on its enduring fame by using burial goods exhibitions for fundraising and diplomacy, and Tutankhamun has become a symbol of ancient Egypt itself.
Tonight, I gazed northeast and southeast from our back porch. From there Jupiter could be seen close to the waxing gibbous November Moon. Zooming in with my camera the four Galilean Moons were visible orbiting around the Gas Giant. Gazing at the northeastern skies, I could clearly make out the star constellation Cassiopeia. Perseus hasn’t completely risen at 8:00 pm. And Pegasus didn’t fit fully into the frame. Triangulum can be seen in the night sky.
In November 2012, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, and I went to the Chinese Lantern Festival in Fair Park, Dallas. We arrived early. So, we still had time to walk around Fair Park. When the State Fair of Texas is over, that place looks very empty. But the Texas Star® Ferris Wheel is there year-round. Katelynn posed for some photos. When we came back to the Festival entrance area it was almost time to go in. …
The White-winged Doves (Zenaida asiatica) – also known as Singing or Mesquite Doves – are large, semi-tropical, and pigeon-like doves that occur naturally in the Americas. They are sometimes considered conspecific (one and the same species) with the West Peruvian Dove (Zenaida meloda); however, differences in vocalizations and morphology are credible arguments against this theory. In fact, they may best be placed into the bird genus Columba (typical pigeons) than the dove genus Zenaida (American doves).
White-winged Doves occur naturally in the United States from the Southwest east to Texas and Louisiana, south to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, into parts of western South America. Introduced populations have established themselves in Florida, USA. They have been increasing their range northward. In fact, they have been reported as far north as Alaska to Ontario, Maine, Newfoundland, and most places in between. Most of them are seasonally migratory. They breed in the United States and northern Mexico and travel south to Mexico, Central and South America, and some Caribbean islands for the winter. However, those populations occurring in areas where food is available year-round – in the southern parts of their range – tend to be year-round residents. They inhabit scrub, woodlands, desert, citrus orchards, agricultural fields, and residential areas throughout their range. Many farmers in Mexico refer to them as “la plaga” (the plague) as large flocks – sometimes thousands of them – may descend upon a single field of grain, and decimate it (particularly after the breeding season).