Just Having a Sit-Along

Today has been non-stop meetings, work, and networking, but it’s been fun. After working at my actual job all morning, we had another wildflower brochure meeting at the Hermit Haus.

I’m almost done with the brochure, thanks to lots of proofreading help. You can never see all your own typos. And I don’t spell in Latin well!

I took more Master Naturalist friends around the office, then some of us repaired to the Dutchtowne Deli for lunch. We had been talking about how we miss just hanging around and talking about things with each other, when John said that what we needed was to have a regular “sit-along,” (though that may not be the actual word he used, but I like it anyway).

Practicing our sitting and chatting after lunch.
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Book Report: Darwin Comes to Town

This month’s book club book is so sad I had to take a long break from it, and discovering this book made that WAY easier. I think I just spotted Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution, by Menno Schilthuizen in the new nature books section on Amazon. I loved the cover and was really intrigued by the subject matter: how life evolves in the world’s urban enclaves.

Schilthuizen, a naturalist in the Netherlands and author of many articles in popular science publications, writes really clearly without “dumbing down” the science behind what he talks about. I think his reminder that evolution is not just something that goes on in the forests, oceans, and hidden jungles; it’s going on right under our noses.

I love the cover art.
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Lesson Learned: Registering for the Texas Master Naturalist Conference

I’m happy to announce that my wallet is smaller, but I have successfully registered for the 2019 Texas Master Naturalist Conference! It’s in mid-October in Rockwall, Texas. I hear it’s a nice setting away from Big City stuff. Or it’s in a resort area. We’ll see.

Why do I say I learned a lesson? Well, last year, when I was a newby at the Master Naturalist conference game, I waited a few days after registration opened to go fill out my forms. I quickly learned that most of the sessions I was excited about attending were full already. I wasn’t about to make that mistake again, so at 10 am on the day registration opened (today) I was in there filling out screen after screen of information just so I could get to the session choices.

Here’s our group from last year.

As an aside, I am extra glad my job isn’t Conference Registration Form Maker. The small amount of experience I’ve had with the Cvent software when my team at work uses it makes me gasp. And a conference as complex as one of these is mind boggling. It has pre-sessions and post-sessions. And during the conference, you can take half day, all day, two-hour, or one-hour sessions, but once you register for a half-day session, you don’t want to pay any attention to the others in that time frame or you registration will be coughed back out for you to figure out the problem. I am sure it is quite a programming effort to set all this up.

And then there are the session descriptions! Kudos to the whole team that worked on that. Whew!

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Batty Bits

It’s been quite a week with so much work and such that it’s been hard to find time to write. I may perhaps have too many jobs and volunteer positions, but I love them all!

I especially enjoy my Master Naturalist group and its members. I get a lot out of observing their personalities and learning their interests. Sometimes they are a bit quiet, but always in an endearing way.

Last night’s chapter meeting dealt with bats, a topic our speaker, Cindy, is very attached to. I wrote a lot about her talk in the Master Naturalist blog, so here I’ll just say I learned a few bits of information I didn’t know before, and they will stick with me.

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Cameron History Note

We’ve decided to activate the website for The Hermit Haus, our meeting center at the former First Christian Church in Cameron. We are interested in knowing more of the history of the church, and would love it if any of you know about events or people of interest that happened during the long history of the church.

First Christian Church member Marie Jones Braden

For example, did you know that Tommy Lee Jones’ mother was a church member? Apparently someone knew that and told Mandi! Head on over to the blog for the Hermit Haus and read more about Marie Jones Braden!

While you’re there, we appreciate suggestions for the website and blog, since it’s new. We are excited that we may get to host the El Camino Real Master Naturalist meetings and class there next year. Anyone else want to rent out the building for meetings? The upstairs is all set! The downstairs still needs air conditioning, though!

Summer Dead Stuff

Hey again. I’ve got some more deep thinking coming up, but first I have to say it’s hard to get anything at all done this time of year, because there’s always something interesting and deceased laying around.

Our first thing isn’t dead, just empty. That’s the tiny nest the baby finch tried to fall out of yesterday. It’s so small and exposed! But birds successfully fledged.

Awkward photo of awkward bird nest

The next best is bigger and more protected.

There’s still a bird in there.

But at least two fledglings ended up on the porch this morning!

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What Goes Yip-yip…Eww?

I’ll tell you! It gave me a happy surprise yesterday, and who doesn’t love a happy surprise? I especially love one that leads to nature observations and stories.

I was leaving work around 5 pm, as workers tend to do, and turned left out of the parking garage. That road leads between two sets of offices, but is shady and has lots of trees. It once was a lovely park-like area, and some parts of it still are.

I looked ahead after making the turn and saw something in the road. Usually, you see deer, since the herd that’s always lived in the area is still here. But, no, this looked more canine.

As I got closer, I ruled out dogs. As I got even closer, I easily ruled out coyotes by looking at the tale. It was a native gray fox! You usually don’t see them when it’s light out, but we were in a dim area.

The fox seemed very happy. I soon realized it was not alone. In the proud little fox mouth was a sizable, but lifeless, striped skunk (also native). I knew foxes ate small mammals, but I didn’t realize they’d eat a skunk. Heck, this skunk was hard for Foxy to carry.

Artist’s rendering of a fox that looks more like a dog or a horse with fox ears, carrying a very accurate skunk.

I lucked out, and there weren’t any cars behind me, so I got to watch the fox trot along an office building, probably looking for a place to settle down to a nice, but potentially stinky meal. I didn’t get to grab the phone camera, but no doubt you enjoy the fact that I can’t draw for squat.

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