Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summertime

It is summer in San Angelo, Texas. I watch the local weather report each night, and it is starting to look like a broken record. At the close of the each report, they give the forecast for the week ahead, and the daily highs are all triple digits. We are expected to hit 107 at least twice in the next couple of days. And since we can't get any rain, everything is burning up.

This is the plot of ground along the entrance to our neighborhood. The grass here could burn easily.
But just because it is hot and dry, that doesn't mean there isn't some color out here. I pulled out of Market Street (local United Grocery store) yesterday and saw this beautiful purple sage in bloom.

Purple sage in front of apartments across the street from Market Street.
So, when I returned to our subdivision, I kept my eyes open for any color in our area. I didn't see much.

Many yards have this plant. I believe it is a Mexican Bird of Paradise, but I am not positive. It's good color for San Angelo in the heat of the summer.
The not weather doesn't seem to stop the animals. Last week, Donna and I walked to the clubhouse for a birthday dinner. As we were leaving, we came across the little critter in the picture below.

Horned toad
As boys, my brother Larry and I would see horned toads everywhere. You just don't see many anymore.

I get a lot of my neighborhood information from the "walker's grapevine." There is a core group of walkers at Rio Concho West, and we visit during our walks. One gentleman, Dave, is the one who alerted me to the ring tail cats I've discussed before. Lately, Dave told me about a family of hawks he had spotted nesting in the trees at the end of one of our streets. I've been watching the area during my walks and have seen movements, but no clear sightings -- until this morning.

As I turned a corner this morning, I caught a glimpse of movement on a rooftop and paused to look. Sure enough, I spotted 2 hawks on the roof. I snapped the photo, but when I got home, I noticed there were 3 hawks rather than 2 in the photo.

2 hawks are on the roof, one on the left and the other on the right, turned facing one another kind of like bookends. The 3rd hawk is on the tree limb branching left, directly above the hawk on the roof.
I need to carry my camera with me to get better photos on my walks, but I never seem to be able to remember to grab it as I'm walking out the door. The phone camera is alright, but it does not zoom as well, nor does it seem to focus as well. Of course, these photos are taken in the early morning when the light is not that good.

Later, I came across a hawk in the road. It could have been one of the hawks from the picture above. I do know that he was a confident rascal. He was standing next to a pool of water in the road and he was not going to yield that puddle to me. I walked past him as I snapped several pictures, and he was not bothered by my presence.

Hawk in the street.
The hawk fluffed itself up in this photo. I don't know if it was trying to scare me -- it did --or if it was getting ready to bathe. I screamed like a little girl and took off running.

Same hawk, with morning sun reflecting in the puddle.
I ran into Dave and Geneva (another walker) a few minutes later and shared these pictures with them. Geneva mentioned that she had heard that a hawk had carried off a small kitten recently, and Dave said that he had seen one of the hawks catch a smaller bird. They may be looking for me now. I need to keep a low profile.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We Are Boring People

It's been a week since my last post. I normally try to post at least twice a week, but when there is nothing to write about, then there's nothing to write about.

I guess we're boring people.

I don't even know when our last trip was. Things keep popping up to keep us home. We've cancelled trips at least twice now, probably more, and we don't have anything planned at the moment.

So, we simply keep busy here at home. I guess that is what old boring folks do.

Our neighbors to the north of us moved away last week. Guess it was something Donna said. They returned to their former home in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. And the lady who runs the salon in our neighborhood will be leaving soon as well. Her husband also worked our here in the maintenance department. It's really nice to be able to walk across the street to get your hair cut. Fortunately, she has found someone who wants the shop, so this service will continue.

I bought new walking shoes. The old pair had well over 700 miles on them. I had them for about a year. I enjoyed them so much, I bought an identical pair. Hopefully, this pair will last as long.

New shoes on left, old shoes on right. They are identical except for wear and tear.
Good tread on left, tread worn almost smooth on right.

Yeah, it's gotten so boring around here I'm showing you pictures of my shoes.

We've been flirting with rain for a couple of weeks. One day, a real West Texas storm blew in with plenty of dust. Unfortunately, we got nothing out of that. We have had a few sprinkles, though. Most of the time, the amount has not even been measurable, but a couple of mornings ago we did measure almost .2". Altogether, we have had about .3" over the past few weeks. Other parts of San Angelo have received more. The airport received about an inch 2 nights ago. It is probably only 3 or 4 miles from us as the crow flies. If you live in West Texas, you better not expect much rain, especially in the summer.

You can see the dust in the air in this photo.

I was sure we'd get some rain from this storm, but nothing fell on us.

On the night of July 4, we sat on our patio and watched the fireworks over Lake Nasworthy out by the airport. Again, the area is about 3 or 4 miles away as the crow flies, but from our slightly elevated site, we are able to see the distant fireworks each year. I never could catch the displays I wanted, and I certainly don't have the camera for such pictures, but here are a couple of the shots I caught. It's nice to be able to sit on your own patio and watch the displays. When the show is over, you simply walk inside and turn off the lights.

Fireworks over Lake Nasworthy.

Another mix of fireworks.

Besides fireworks, we also watch planes as they approach or take off from the local airport, Mathis Field. Goodfellow AFB also uses the airport for training purposes, and often we get to watch as pilots practice their approaches and takeoffs. Recently, they had a rather long practice, with some of the planes flying right over us. By the time I got my camera, though, their flight path had changed and was farther away. Still, I caught some nice pictures with my little camera, I think.

I did not zoom in for this picture. I caught it as it was in its turn pattern to prepare for approach. The airport is actually in a line beneath it, but the plane will continue to the left, continue to turn, then line up and approach. Just before landing, it will rise up and continue its training.

I zoomed in for this shot to catch a plane against a backdrop of clouds.

Shortly after that, Donna spotted something moving into the draw across the street. She couldn't identify it, so we began watching the draw, knowing it would have to come out somewhere in our vision. Sure enough, a ring tail cat soon moved out of the head of the draw, crossed the street, trotted boldly into a neighbor's yard, and continued on its merry way in  broad daylight.

So, this is how boring old people spend their days.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Changing Phone Service

Donna and I have been using the same provider for our mobile phone service for a lot of years. We had always been happy with everything . . . until recently.

First, I felt that we were simply being charged too much. That's a bad feeling, and one difficult to get beyond. When you feel this way -- at least as regards me -- things are probably about to change.

The real kicker came a few months back. On the 7th of one month, I was billed my normal monthly fee. Then, a mere 17 days later, on the 24th of that same month, I was billed again.

I called to inquire about this rapid billing. It never was explained satisfactorily to me, and I said I wanted to continue being billed on the 7th. Well, they refunded the billing on the 24th, as they should have. Then, on the 24th of the following month, they billed me for 2 months, including a small fee for late payment for not paying on the 24th of the previous month.

I called again and was basically told that was the way it was. I suggested they prorate the fees if they wanted to change their invoice date and not charge a full monthly amount for 17 days of service, as I was, in effect, being double billed. I was told that was not possible.

Now, on top of all of this, I have to admit I had trouble understanding the people I spoke with. First, neither of the people I spoke with were native English speakers. I really don't care where they are from, but I simply could not understand them because of their accents. As you get older, you don't hear as well. Also, these folks were obviously located in large call centers, and there was considerable background noise each time I called, making it even more difficult to understand them.

Well, I'm not long on patience, so after hanging up, I began looking for a new phone service. It didn't take long. I had been considering a change because of what I considered high fees, and I had been looking at Consumer Cellular. I did some research, visited the local contact here in town, bought new SIM cards for our phones, and made the call.

The experience so far has been very good.

Consumer Cellular closed our account with our previous provider and made all the changes. Now, there has been a glitch or two, but that is understandable when making such a move.

Just a day or two after the service started, I noticed that we were unable to access the Internet using the Consumer Cellular Network (CCNetwork). At home, when connected to my network, we could access the Internet just fine. I made a call to their help desk and was able to speak to someone I was able to understand perfectly. It was simply a matter of changing some APN settings and then everything was working fine.

The second glitch took a bit longer to discover. My daughter was sending some pictures of her little monsters to my wife, but my wife could not receive the pictures. We began experimenting and discovered we could not send/receive pictures of any size. I went to the Consumer Cellular website and did a chat with a help person. After changing a few more APN settings, we were getting some hideous monster pictures that for some reason my wife cherishes.

We may discover another problem or two down the line, but the customer service so far has been exceptional. And perhaps the best news of all is that I'm paying less than half what I paid for my former service. Now, we haven't taken a trip with our new service yet, so the jury is still out on mobile service in the boondocks. But for now, I'm delighted with our new service. And to clarify, AARP members get a slight discount.

Right now, count me as a very satisfied Consumer Cellular customer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sunrise, Moonset

Donna and I continue to be lazy. We just don't enjoy getting out and about too much when it is 100+ degrees. Add to that the extremely dry conditions we are currently experiencing in the Concho Valley, and it is a bit depressing. And on top of that, it seems the wind wants to blow 25 mph day after day.

So, we tend to stay home more than we want.

But we do get out some.

Yesterday, we saw the latest installment of the Jurassic movies. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is now making the rounds of movie theaters across the country. As with all of its predecessors, there is plenty of nonstop action. I won't go into details. If you have liked the previous 4 Jurassic movies, you'll enjoy this one.

I continue my walking. I get out early each morning and try to get in 5+ miles 5 or 6 days each week. My walks take about 1.5 hours, and even though I want to be lazy and just stay home sometimes, I find myself missing the walks when I don't take them. There are about 20 or more folks in our neighborhood that walk regularly, and I enjoy seeing them each day. Most of them only do a mile or so, but there are a few who do 3 to 5 miles. And of course, there are health benefits to walking, including lower cholesterol numbers, improved heart functions, and just overall well being.

This morning, the full moon was just setting in the west as I came out the door shortly before 6. After dodging the paper carrier who seems to be on a mission to run over me each day, I snapped the shot below, then started my walk. About an hour or so later, I was rewarded with the next photo of the sun rising in the east.

The moon, lower left, at 5:45 or so this morning. I like the contrast with the street lamp at upper right.
About 20 or 30 minutes, I snapped this shot of the moon surrounded by 3 street lamps. The moon is the second from the right. Notice the bench at bottom of street lamp on right.

And about 30 minutes later, I caught this shot of the sun rising between 2 pine trees. We have benches such as the one in this photo and the photo above located all around the neighborhood. Old people out walking often have to stop and rest frequently.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cabin Fever

It doesn't take long for Donna and me to get restless. As a rule, we try to take some kind of trip every month. Our trips may be for only 2 or 3 nights, and they may be to places fairly close, but as long as we change things up, we stay happy. However, it has now been about 2 months since our last trip and we are beginning to get cabin fever.

Actually, I'm more a creature of routine than Donna. I can do the same thing day after day without getting too bored. Donna is much more restless than I. When she gets that look in her eye, I know its time to plan a trip or my life is about to become miserable.

She has that look now.

I don't know how, but we've allowed things to get in the way of our travels. We've even had to cancel a trip or two. That's not good.

So, lately our days are spent walking, visiting the local farmer's market, and taking an occasional drive around town. Yeah, we've seen a movie or two, been to a concert or similar performance, and have eaten at our favorite places around town. But its time to do something different. And we would really like to get someplace where it is a bit cooler, and it would be great to see some of that wet stuff we've heard falls from the skies from time to time.

If we don't do something soon, I'm afraid powder keg Donna will explode.

I'll leave you with some recent pictures taken around our little neighborhood.

Normally, we don't see turkeys in our neighborhood during the summer, but they have made themselves known here lately. I don't know where they normally stay in the summer, but the drought may be forcing them to stay close to water sources here in the subdivision.

Recently, we had a number of cumulus clouds in the sky overhead. All of the pictures below were taken of different areas of the sky within a minute or two of each other. We never tire of watching the sky out here. It changes constantly. Both of us grew up in East Texas, a land where the sky is not visible because of all the trees. This is a nice change.

Love that beautiful blue sky with the scattered cotton balls.


Looking south, the clouds appear to multiply and fill the sky.

I think these are technically called stratocumulus clouds. Notice how they seem to be thicker.


And I had to include another picture of a skunk. Although I hate that these little rascals have invaded our subdivision, I have to admit that they are rather pretty creatures.








Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lorrie Morgan

Donna and I attended the Lorrie Morgan concert this past Saturday night. We enjoyed the performance.

The show started promptly with about a 40 to 45 minute set by Jesse Keith Whitley, son of Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley. If you follow country music, you'll know that Keith Whitley is something of a country music legend, having recorded very few songs in his brief career but earning several hits. He died as the result of alcohol poisoning in 1989.

Lorrie Morgan is the daughter of George Morgan, a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He has the distinct privilege of being the last person to sing on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium before the Grand Ole Opry moved to its new location. He then was the first person to perform on stage of the new Grand Ole Opry House.

So, Jesse Keith Whitley has quite a bit of musical legacy coming his way from his father and grandfather. He played several songs over his solo set.

But the real show began when Lorrie Morgan appeared on stage. Morgan has enjoyed a string of hits over the years, and she played most during her performance in Angelo. Her set began about 9:00 and ran nonstop until about 10:30 or so. Her voice is still strong and rock solid, and she is supported by 5 talented musicians: a keyboardist, lead guitar, drummer, acoustic rhythm guitar, and bass guitar. Her son appeared on stage for 2 or 3 songs during Morgan's set.

Morgan on stage with her band. The white spotlight seems to wash her out.

I zoomed in for this closeup of Morgan, but again, she is washed out by the spotlight. It doesn't help, I guess, that she is very fair skinned and her hair is very blonde.



Saturday, June 16, 2018

Doing Nearly Nothing

Ah, the slow and lazy days of summer are upon us. We don't do much during the summer except try to stay cool, especially when the daily temps approach 100, and sometimes exceed that. We don't even like to travel much during summer unless it is to cooler climes, like the mountains.

We've just about completed all of our medical appointments. Everything looks pretty good considering our ages. Donna has a final appointment Monday, then she has a couple of other appointments approaching, just routine updates.

Tonight, we go to a Lorrie Morgan concert at the San Angelo Performing Arts Campus. It should be a fun night. This past Thursday, we attended a dinner at the clubhouse in our subdivision and enjoyed music by the Divas, a local group of ladies who have attained a solid following in the community. They describe themselves as "a collaboration of solo artists whose sum is greater than its parts!" It was fun to visit with our neighbors, eat some good food, and enjoy the music of these lovely ladies.

Aside from that, we've not been doing much. We both continue to walk quite a bit. Donna has increased her mileage and is now doing 6 or more miles almost daily. I still do a paltry 5 to 6 miles, but I walk more frequently than the old woman. However, I can't keep pace with her. Those short legs are a blur. Around the community, she is known as "Flash". The other day, she passed an old man and her draft knocked him down. Luckily, I was there to help him up.

We seem to be having more animals coming into the subdivision. I suppose it is a result of the drought conditions. We are bordered by an FM highway to our east and a US highway to our south. The other sides of our subdivision border ranch land. I guess animals creep in to Rio Concho West for water, the soft green grass, and other reasons. We are accustomed to sharing our space with turkeys and deer, but the ring tail cats and other critters are a bit new for us. I am alarmed by the number of skunks we have roaming about. I see at least one skunk on almost every walk. I shared my picture of a possum in a recent post. On a recent walk, I came across a snake. It was still fairly dark, but I saw a shape in a driveway. I put my flashlight on it and saw a snake of perhaps 2 feet. It was too dark for me to ID it, and I'm not good with snakes anyway. I've killed 2 rattlers in our subdivision before -- one in my yard and another for an older man on his front porch. So, this is not that unusual. Still, it's a might unsettling.

I'll leave you with my poor pictures of my recent snake encounter.

This is more or less what I saw in the dark as I approached the snake. You can see my shadow at left in the dim glow of a nearby street light.
I held my flashlight in my mouth to get this partial shot of the snake.
So, if you don't hear from me again, you'll know the savage animals here at RCW have cornered me and put me to rest.