Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People visit Hall Place

Members of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People visited Hall Place this week, the team members from Saunderton< Buckinghamshire were put through their paces on the Low Ropes course and Leap of Faith, even coming face to face with our giant spiders web.

All the team members enjoyed themselves.  With their natural interest in all things animal we also gave them a tour of the Emus, Bennets Wallibies and the extensive Equine department.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Your Weekend: Braving Big Bend

It’s summertime—pack up your bags, your friends, your kids, or your dog and load up the mini-van for a summer vacation you’ll never forget. It’s time to use those vacation days you’ve been saving up, and enjoy one of the most beautiful natural sites in America.

Located in the tip of southwest Texas, Big Bend National Park is highly underestimated. It is an area of Texas so unlike any other, and America’s last frontier wilderness. With over 800,000 acres, the park ranges from mountainous terrain to flat dessert plains, featuring cool rivers and abundant forests. There is a wide variety of wildlife as well—including birds, butterflies, and black bears.

Enjoying Big Bend (Texas A&M University Press, 2009) by Gary and Kathy Adams Clark, ensures there is an adventure for everyone at Big Bend. If you only have a couple hours, a couple days, or a week’s stay at the park, the Clarks have included detailed adventures and sights for you.

Kathy Clark has introduced us to her favorite location with the best views, and has included her own photograph as well:
"My favorite place in Big Bend National Park is the Window View at sunset.  The Window View is a notch in the mountains that looks west if you're standing in The Basin high in the Chisos Mountains.  The sun sets through the Window all year.  In the summer it is really spectacular because there is dust in the air that refracts the light.  The oranges and reds are really intense.  Sometimes there are summer thunder clouds out in the desert and that's special.  If the thunder clouds create a storm with lightning, it's really special."    

Instead of going to your neighborhood chlorinated pool or watching re-runs of the Bachelorthis weekend, follow these instructions and experience the lure of Big Bend National Park.

What: Walk the Chisos Basin Loop Trail located in Big Bend.

Location:Start and end at the Chisos Basin Trailhead.

Getting There: The trail is 1.6 miles on foot, and will take roughly 1-2 hours to complete.

About Chisos Basin Loop Trail: This trail is a simpler way to enjoy the flora and fauna of Big Bend without the strain of hiking uphill. You will be able to see a wider picture of the whole park and enjoy it at an easy pace.

What You'll See: You will be able to enjoy the various species of trees that cover the surface of the mountain, Casa Grande, as well as the potential to see wildlife across the trails. There are beautiful birds, butterflies, and various wildflowers unlike any others seen in Texas. Clark recommends keeping an eye out for the different types of grass growing along the trail--lechuguilla, stool, Harvard agave, and bear grass. There will also be plenty of scat, or animal poop, left behind by deer, fox, and rabbits that may have been left during the night.

The Clarks Recommend: “Carry binoculars to watch birds, butterflies, and other creatures. Bring your camera or sketch pad to record sights.” Clark also suggests starting the trail during the early morning or late afternoon for a chance at the best sights. Drinking lots of water and wearing a hat and good hiking shoes are a must during hot weather.

While You're At It: Clark has included follow-ups to this adventure if you’re still hungry for more. Pinnacles Trail, Laguna Meadow Trail, Southwest Rim Trail, or Lost Mine Trail are a few other walking trails located in Big Bend.

Order Enjoying Big Bend National Park today for the best guide to exploring the park, including one color map and 57 color photos capturing the park’s beauty.

TELL TAMU PRESS: Have you ever been to Big Bend National Park? Tell us about your favorite adventure. 

By: Madeline Loving

Summer Camp Offers

Summer is almost upon us and we still have spaces for our summer programme.

Offers include book four days and we will give you a fifth free!

Also for friends and families book two places and we will give you a third place free!

Our activities include:

Leap of Faith
High All Aboard

To name a few.

Please contact us for more information and booking.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Visiting the Pagami Creek Fire

Visiting the Pagami Creek Fire

Last weekend I took a long-awaited Boundary Waters trip with members of my family.  We chose to go in at Lake One, ground zero for the infamous Pagami Creek Fire of 2011. I had been told by a friend who guides BWCAW trips that Lake One was getting less use this summer due to the misconception that the fire had left Lake One and the surrounding “number lakes” desolate and void of life. 
 Photo courtesy of InciWeb

  I found this interesting and sad at the same time. From a young age I learned that fire offered an opportunity for the next stage of succession in a wilderness setting.  Nature is a wondrous mystery where life springs anew with each natural disturbance.  I found it unfortunate that others did not see the fire in the same light. What a great opportunity to see with one’s own eyes the powerful change that occurs after a wildfire or some other natural disturbance.

It had been nearly 40 years since my father and uncle had been back to the BWCAW for a canoe trip and I was ecstatic to share this trip with them.  I was even more excited to share with them the knowledge that I had of the area’s forests and wildlife.

On our second day, we took a day-trip over to the mouth of the Pagami Creek to see just how much the fire had affected the landscape.  We could see a few burnt, orange balsam and pine trees off in the distance from our campsite on the northeast end of the lake and eagerly paddled across to the opposite side where the fire originated.

As we approached the bay and passed several islands, the southwest end of Lake One opened up and we were able to get a panoramic view of the burnt shoreline. As with most wildfires, the burn pattern was a beautiful matrix of blackened trees and branches, rocks and soil mixed in with green shrubs, trees and grasses.

My family was surprised to see that it wasn’t just a massive black hole of burnt tree trunks. I explained that in some areas of the fire where it had burned the hottest, one would expect to see that. However, even in those areas the fire may jump or move around an area due to water or wind and leave a perfect green patch of untouched land.

 Photo courtesy of InciWeb

I hope that other groups heading into or through those areas affected by the fire make the time to take in the forest succession taking place right before their eyes.

Plan your trip!

Ice Cream in a Bag

     I saw this idea last summer in the Disney Family Fun magazine, wrote it on a little notecard, an finally pulled it out!  It has been soooo hot here, and the girls love ice cream, so I figured it would be fun to make our own.


1 C 1/2 and 1/2
 2 T sugar
1/2 t vanilla

1/4 C salt (we used rock salt, but I think other types may work)

First mix your 1/2 and 1/2, sugar, and vanilla in a small ziploc bag.

Fill a gallon size ziploc 1/2 full of ice and add salt and small ziploc bag.

Seal and shake for 5 minutes.  This was the hardest part because the bag gets really cold and little girls get tired of shaking.  So we wrapped the bags in towels and jumped up and down.  They probably only shook them for a minute and a half, and I shook them for a little while. They still worked even with inconsistent shaking.

             Eat and enjoy!

Did Davy Crockett Die on the Ramparts of the Alamo? New Book Revives Debate

More than 30 years ago, historian Dan Kilgore and Texas A&M University Press ignited international controversy with the book How Did Davy Die?  -- asserting that Davy Crockett did not die on the ramparts of the Alamo swinging the shattered remains of his rifle “Old Betsy.”
Instead, Kilgore pointed to historical sources, stating Mexican forces took Crockett captive and then executed him on Santa Anna’s order.  
Intense debate followed. The London Daily Mail associated Kilgore with “ the murder of a myth,” and he became the subject of articles in Texas Monthly and the Wall Street Journal. Some who considered his historical argument an affront to a treasured American icon delivered personal insults and threats of violence.
In the 1955 Disney movie Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, Fess Parker famously depicts Crockett as a hero of the Alamo. Check out the song here:
Now  a new book lauded by True West Magazine as “the most comprehensive account” of events leading up to the Alamo siege as well as what likely happened during the battle has revived debate over the details surrounding Crockett’s death -- this time in the pages of Texas Monthly.
In the main narrative of his book, Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo -- and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation Donovan writes that Crockett died “in the open air, as he wished,” but in his notes he concludes that the frontiersman “may have been executed after the battle, but until stronger evidence is presented, let history show that he died fighting with his comrades.”
In this month's issue of Texas Monthly, James E. Crisp, co-author of the commemorative edition of Kilgore’s original book, entitled How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much?(TAMU Press, 2010), responded in a letter to the magazine’s May 2012 article on Donovan and his book.  
“ . . . Donovan, who dismisses José Enrique de la Peña’s account of the death of David Crockett while still praising the Mexican officer as ‘an astute observer’ of the Texas Revolution, might have taken de la Peña’s account more seriously had he read the revised 1997 English-language edition of the officer’s memoir instead of the rather flawed and incomplete 1975 first edition (both editions are from Texas A&M University Press),” Crisp writes. Crisp --  who wrote the more recent edition’s introduction -- and the late Kilgore point to the Mexican officer’s accounting of the events surrounding Crockett’s death as supporting the assertion that Crockett was executed by Mexican forces.
In his letter Crisp also refutes Donovan’s statement in the article that the description of Crockett’s death appears “in a different hand -- on a slip of paper that was inserted into the original manuscript.”
“In fact,” says Crisp, “the entire de la Pena memoir is written in a different hand -- four or five different hands -- at a time when correspondence between de la Pena and Mexican government officials shows us that the imprisoned officer was so ill that he could not even write his own name.”
Crisp goes on to suggest as further evidence a letter published in a Detroit newspaper in 1836 and unearthed by a Rice University grad student in 1960. The letter was the subject of an article Crisp published on the subject of Crockett’s death in an issue of the Journal of the West, a respected historical publication.
In an editorial note, Donovan responds that he is aware of the letter, which is “only marginally more convincing than the other alleged sources supporting Crockett’s execution.”
Donovan writes that he consulted the 1975 translation of the de la Peña memoir as well as the Spanish-language original.
“The method of Crockett’s death is the subject of the longest endnote in my book, in which I analyze the sources used to support the execution theory. I stand by my opinion -- that Crockett may have been executed after the battle, but it’s doubtful, and there is certainly not enough reliable evidence to write it as history," says Donovan.

Who do you think is right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pop Rocks Science: Capturing Carbon Dioxide

     We were at Pizza Hut when Bria started staring at the bubbles in my cup.  I tried to explain to her that pop has bubbles because it has a gas (carbon dioxide) in it. I don't know that she really understood, but it did give me an idea.

     We had some Pop Rocks here, and they, like pop, are made with carbon dioxide (Pop Rocks FAQ).  I know Bria has had Pop Rocks before, but she didn't seem to remember them. First I let her and Nadia each eat some (of course).

     Then I had them put some in a dish of water to see what would happen.  They could see that as the Pop Rocks dissolved in the water gas was released in the form of bubbles. They could also hear the crackling of the gas breaking out of the candy.

     Next to actually show them the gas I decided to combine Pop Rocks and Pepsi to blow up a balloon.  I did one with baking soda and vinegar as well for comparison.  I started by putting baking soda in one balloon and Pop Rocks in another.  I added vinegar to one bottle and Pepsi to another.  I didn't use any exact amounts, but you definitely don't need much vinegar and baking soda!  Here is a site with more exact amounts for your vinegar and baking soda (Balloon Blow Up).

     I put each balloon on the top of their respective bottle and had each girl hold the end of a balloon. When we were ready I had them both hold the balloon up straight to dump the contents into the bottle.


 Both balloons inflated although you can see the Pop Rocks balloon didn't get nearly as big as the baking soda balloon.


"It's Gene Autry!" National, Texas Parks Advocate George Bristol Shares His Favorite State Park Memory

George Bristol, author of On Politics and Parks(Texas A&M University Press, 2012), is known for his love of nature and his successful political career. Bristol’s passion for national parks and the great outdoors led to his involvement in the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. After spearheading efforts to elevate the image of the National Park Service and helping to establish a successful fundraising strategy for the NPF, Bristol carried his ideas over to his home state of Texas. His efforts played an important role in the Texas Legislature's 2007 vote to double the operating budget for state parks.

Bristol has received several awards, including the 2009 Pugsley Medal, honoring champions of parks and conservation and a leadership award from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. On Politics and Parksoffers intriguing peeks at behind-the-scenes events in Washington, Austin and elsewhere, as well as a captivating personal memoir.

TAMU Press: What was your inspiration for writing a memoir? 

George Bristol: The inspiration for the book really came from three sources:

1. My mother, Lottie Bristol, was a devoted outdoors person. After my father's death in 1946, even in those times when we didn't have a car, she made sure we got out to natural and historic sites around Texas. Many were state parks and historic sites.

Later, when the opportunity came for me to work in Glacier National Park, she had no hesitancy of putting me on a train to parts unknown so that I could experience, in depth, the awesome wonders of that crown jewel among America's Best Idea.

2. Following the discovery of my father's billfold that was in his possession at the time of his death, I felt compelled to relate my memories surrounding its contents. This led toward other avenues of memories and history that I wanted to share with my family, particularly with my grandchildren who would not otherwise have written knowledge of our families and the times they shared.

3. Dick and Joanne Bartlett of Dallas and Fort Davis set up a wonder writer-in-residence program in the Davis Mountains. I was able to spend two months there in splendid isolation, pulling all the separate parts of my most interesting life together, until I had fashioned a work, to my satisfaction, of how I got to the purpose of my life work: park and conservation advocacy. 

TAMU Press: What is your favorite memory or park experience? 

 GB: After my father's death in 1946 we lived in Beeville, Texas, a small South Texas town. True to form my mother took us to nearby Goliad to the state park and historic sites. After

touring the fort and mission we were walking toward the parking lot, when we spied a tall figure in full movie cowboy regalia.

We thought it was our hero, Gene Autry. We ran toward the man, yelling, "It's Gene Autry! It's Gene!" We threw our arms around his legs and continue to exclaim that it was Gene. He laughed and then gently bent over and explained that he was not Gene Autry, but rather Monte Hale, a good friend of Autry's and a fellow cowboy star.

That was good enough for us. Forty years later I would have Monte Hale confirm that story to family and friends in the pretense of.........Gene Autry.

By: Madeline Loving

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Hunger Games and OT

 It has been a while since I've posted, which has been filled with the end of school, a trip of epic proportions (18 states in 20 days), moving to a new city, and finally starting my first clinical rotation at MUSC in Charleston, SC!

I have a significant obsession with The Hunger Games. And for some reason it became the first thing I would read between semesters, so I've read the series four times now. I've been joking about how to make the Hunger Games themselves into an occupational therapy intervention, and while I haven't solved that yet (any ideas, friends?), in this last reading of it I did make a connection between the characters + the importance of occupations + nature, which I would like to share with you all.

If you have never read the books and don't like to know anything at all about the story prior to doing so, there are some SMALL SPOILERS ahead, from book three.

You were warned.

In Mockingjay, Katniss finds herself living underground, recovering from a myriad of psychosocial and physical problems. What's worse, District 13, where she is currently residing, is structured so heavily that residents only have a half hour of free time a day, not nearly enough to engage in play and leisure activities that are critical for emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Now, Katniss, despite being so young knows herself well and recognizes that the best way for her to be able to recover is by spending time outside, partially for hunting. When she gets the opportunity, she makes that part of her deal with the administration. What's more, she convinces them that allowing her sister's cat to remain with them is also necessary. (And when everyone is stuck underground, playing with the cat relieves the tension for everyone.)

What's rather funny is that while I was considering composing this post, I came across this interesting article from NPR entitled To Rehabilitate Young Vets, Go Hunting, which is about having injured vets hunting in the woods and the impact that it has on those soldiers.

Sound familiar?

ABA Awards Author Ludlow Griscom Award

The American Birding Association has awarded Mark Lockwood, co-author of The TOS Handbook of Texas Birds, its prestigious Ludlow Griscom Award for Outstanding Contributions in Regional Ornithology.
Help us celebrate this honor by taking 60% off the price of the paperback edition of this book (Retail: $24.95). Use promo code 60off when checking out at

The Ludlow Griscom award is one of five awards given annually by the ABA to individuals dedicated to educating the public about birds and birding. According to the ABA website, the Ludlow Griscom Award is given to those who have "dramatically advanced the state of ornithological knowledge for a particular region. This may be through their long-time contributions in monitoring avian status and distribution, facilitating the publication of state bird books, breeding bird atlases and significant papers on the regional natural history of birds. This may also be through the force of their personality, teaching and inspiration.” Mark Lockwood did all of these for birds and birding in Texas. 

Lockwood is the former longtime secretary of the TOS Texas Bird Records Committee; editor of the Texas regional report for North American Birds; the author, co-author, or editor of six books; and a biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The TOS Handbook of Texas Birds, co-authored by Brush Freeman is a necessary companion for any bird-watching enthusiast. Its research covers the span of almost three decades, based on the work of the Texas Bird Records Committee. It includes 623 different species of birds, with thorough descriptions, maps and 140 color photographs. 

By: Madeline Loving

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Father's Day and Beyond!

     This week started with Father's Day on Sunday. Nathan got to sleep in late, and when he woke up Bria asked him what he wanted to do. She gave him two options: go to a play park or go to Grandma's. Lucky for her Nathan didn't early have anything he wanted to do, so we had lunch at a park before heading to Grandma and Grandpa's.

We found a ton of horsetails at the park.
Nathan tried to say it was bamboo, but I knew better!
I told the girls bamboo grows in China where pandas live, and
 Nadia replied, "I have a panda, but he is a pillow. He's not real."

    While the food was cooking that evening the girls hot in a spray bottle fight with their dad, who then got the hose!

     Monday we headed to Columbia. We were able to find some things on our list for upcoming parties, and since we had Grandma there, the kids were able to find some gifts for each other. Bria and Nadia chose Eli's, and Nadia chose Bria's despite Bria insisting that she choose her own gift.  Nadia was so excited that we were able to pick something out and go buy it without Bria knowing! After buying it she carried it through the store saying, "Bria will like her present. It's a surprise.". We also got ice cream and played at a park. We did find a new splash park that we will have to try out another day.

     Tuesday we spent the morning making storms in the kitchen.  The girls still seemed pretty tired from the day before, so they weren't too into all the experimenting.  They did enjoy their colorful Storm in a Jar (It's Raining; It's Pouring) though.  Nothing too interesting the rest of the day other then me trying to capture Eli walking on video. By the time I got far enough away to see allow him, he was already headed toward me!  

     Wednesday is library day.  This weeks story time was extra special because they had hired a professional story teller. Unfortunately it was at the same time as Eli's nap, so we had a pretty tired, wiggly little guy for it. He made it through without fussing much, but he would not hold still and was quite intent on pulling the ponytail on the girl in front of us.  The girls did pretty good even when it went a little long. They even helped out with one of the stories! 

    Thursday I decided it was time to get the playroom back in order. Well Bria wanted to rearrange things and put more toys in her room. So we moved some things to her room, rearranged a couple bookcases, and put all their craft things in the play room.  Sounds like a simple enough task, but with all 3 kids helping, it took most of the day! Now to decide if we will bunk the girls' beds or not. I also tried again to get a good video of Eli walking.

     As usual I worked on Friday, but I hear the girls went to a museum here in town. I am sure they had fun just exploring a new place.  

     We had originally planned to head to the lake this weekend after church, but plans changed when I had a patient that could need care over the weekend. I decided to stay. The girls got to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's, so I'm sure they didn't mind. Maybe another time.  
     I just wanted to add a few photos that I forgot to add last week.I am always forgetting to put pictures from my little camera on my computer!

Bria with kittens Sauna and Tuna (I think).

Eli loving a kitten (maybe Bonna; I can't keep their names straight).

Bria's drawing of David and Goliath
. Goliath is the big one with muscles, and David is the little one with the slingshot.
Bria is the medium sized one.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Your Weekend: Gangsters in Texas?

Their journey began in 1930 after meeting at a mutual friends’ house. Bonnie was a café waitress just coming out of an abusive marriage, and Clyde was a school dropout who had just begun stealing cars and burglarizing houses. The two lovers were inseparable after that, and thus began their four year reign of terror.

Until their deaths in 1934, Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree took them across Texas, where they stole cars, robbed banks, murdered officers, broke out of prisons, and cheated death multiple times. The fugitive couple survived gunshot wounds, car crashes, and malnourishment, and Bonnie survived a car crash with gasoline burns and cuts to the bone that left her unable to walk without the support of a cane.
They became notorious; other men joined the criminal-couple including Clyde’s brother, Buck Barrow, forming the Barrow Gang.   The Barrow Gang slowly unraveled; with most of the gang getting caught and sent to years in prison. Bonnie and Clyde were not so easy to catch.
Here T. Lindsay Baker, author of Gangster Tour of Texas, shares his favorite historic crime scene, starring none other than Bonnie and Clyde -- the scene of the shooting at Lillian McBride's house in Dallas.

"It was here that around midnight on Jan. 6, 1933, Clyde Barrow stumbled into a lawmen's stakeout for another criminal, "said Baker. "He wanted to check with robber Raymond Hamilton's sister, Lillian McBride, to determine whether a radio with hidden hacksaw blades had been delivered to Raymond in the Hillsboro jail."
When Barrow approached the door to the house, he discovered lawmen inside, fired a shot into a window from a sawed-off shotgun hidden under his overcoat and then shot to death Deputy Sheriff Malcolm Davis when he ran around the house from the rear.

Barrow then ran around the house and a block and a half down an alley to meet up with Bonnie Parker at the wheel of an automobile to escape from the scene of the murder.
"The crime scene is pristine, looking today almost identical to the way that it appears in contemprary crime scene photographs," said Baker.
Crime Scene:
3111 North Winnetka Avenue (formerly 507 County Avenue), Dallas
West Dallas, just off Singleton Boulevard (formerly Eagle Ford Road).
Getting There:
Leave Interstate 30 at exit 44A and drive north 0.8 miles on Sylvan Avenue (crossing Fort Worth Avenue and West Commerce Street) to Singleton Boulevard. Turn west on Singleton and proceed four blocks to the intersection with Winnetka Avenue. Turn north (right) on Winnetka Avenue and drive a block and a half to the house, which stands on the west side of the street next to a red-brick Methodist church. The single-story wood dwelling with a porch across the front is painted white.
What You'll See:
The well-preserved former residence of Lillian McBride in West Dallas, where Clyde Barrow walked into an ambush planned for another criminal and subsequently killed Dallas deputy sheriff Malcolm Davis.
By: Madeline Loving

Pretzel Rolls

     These rolls are awesome!  I came across these a while back on pinterest and have made them a couple times since.  The original blog post is from Une Bonne Vie, but they are so yummy I had to a share!  The first time I made them I am pretty sure I had at least 3 at dinner because they are quite addicting.  Nathan has decided they are better then soft pretzels and should be eaten with cheese sauce; the girls wanted butter on theirs. Eli and I were happy with them just as they were.

     Before I get into the recipe let me just say I do not claim to be a baker, but I always end up needing more flour. Maybe my kitchen is too warm or maybe I just don't know what I am doing, but they are still really tasty. I can only imagine how great they would be if made by someone who knows what they are doing.  



6-7 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 t salt
3 T canola oil
2 t active dry yeast
2 1/2 C milk, slightly warn
1 C water, slightly warm
Sea salt for sprinkling


7 C water
1 T salt
4 T baking soda

Start by mixing the yeast and warm milk (I had mine between 110 and 115). Set that aside for 10 minutes to rest.

Whisk 5 3/4 C flour and salt in a large bowl.

Add canola oil and warm water to yeast mixture. Pour into bowl with flour and salt. Knead in bowl until the dough is mostly soft. Only add enough flour so dough is easily handled. Dough will be somewhat stiff.  Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.

Punch down and knead 1 minute. Cut in 15 pieces (or however many it takes to get the size rolls you want) and form into balls.  Place on greased surface and let rise 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare bath by bringing water, salt, and baking soda to a rolling boil and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place 3 rolls in the bath and poach for 1 minute. Place on well greased baking sheet and cut 2-3 lines across the top of poached rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 20-25 minutes.


These are best the day they are made (but still very tasty the day after)! Enjoy!