Saturday, May 26, 2018

How to Celebrate an Anniversary

So, in the last post, I mentioned that Donna and I were celebrating our 41st anniversary. So, how does a debonair Don Juan such as myself impress a gal after 41 years?

I woke the old girl early this morning. I needed to allow her plenty of time to get dressed. About 6:45, I loaded her in the car and drove her downtown to the Farmers' Market, which is located just across Oakes Street from historic Fort Concho. We stocked up on some of the fresh produce available there, then returned home.

Our farmers' market as seen from the south end.

As seen from the north end.

Our score from the market. From left to right: banana peppers, basil, eggplant, zucchini, squash, red potatoes, radishes, red onions, and white onions. Yum, fresh from some local farmer's field.
But wait, I wasn't finished yet. I do know how to show a girl a good time. You don't live to be my age without learning a few romantic moves. Next, I drove her about 2 miles away to San Angelo State Park and made her walk almost 5 miles despite the fact that she wasn't feeling well. I really thought the walk would help.

Woodpecker atop a dead tree in the park.

Bison and longhorns in the park. Park staff is feeding them in background. Notice the bison calf front-center.

Good close picture of bison showing how they are losing their winter coats.

Iconic Texas scene: prickly pear cactus, bison, and longhorns.
And if that wasn't enough, I then brought her home and had her cook me a nice lunch.

Now, I know what most of you ladies out there are thinking. "How do I get a guy like this in my life?" Well, I'm sorry, but I'm taken, so you'll have to look elsewhere.

Seriously, our anniversary is today, May 26, but we actually celebrated on Thursday. Since the Memorial Day weekend fell on our anniversary, we really didn't want to try to eat out today, so we went to a nice place on Thursday and had a delightful meal. When we wed 41 years ago, I did not consider that our anniversary would have to compete with Memorial Day for the rest of our lives. And before I start getting hate mail, I must confess it was Donna's idea to go to the farmers' market. She's as romantic as I am, it seems.

Morning is breaking at Rio Concho West. I snapped this shot yesterday morning during my walk. This is at the entrance of our subdivision.

In closing, here is a neighborhood shot of some mountain laurels in bloom.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'm a Saint: Episode 41

Well, I've been putting up with that old woman for 41 years now. Where's my medal?

It seems like a lifetime ago that we were married in that little chapel of the First United Methodist Church in Donna's hometown of Conroe, Texas. Heck, 41 years is a lifetime for a lot of folks, I suppose. In fact, that church is no longer there. They probably imploded it after they realized what they had done by allowing the two of us to be married there. I think it has been replaced by county offices of some sort.

We had a small wedding with only family and a few friends. We didn't have any money then; heck, we still don't have any money. We honeymooned a few days in our beloved Texas Hill Country. That area of the state has always been special to us; we still like to spend a few days there whenever we can.

I had just completed my student teaching assignment in Palestine, Texas. In the fall, I would begin work on my Master's degree while teaching freshman English courses at Sam Houston State University on their fellowship program. Donna worked for a local dentist. She made a lot more money than I did back then. Still, those were great times. I wish I could return to those days. We didn't have much. In fact, we lived in a little efficiency cabin in the woods a few miles out of town. We froze in the winter and cooked in the summer because the heating and cooling systems were inadequate, but we had some good times there.

Two years later, I completed work on my Master's and we moved to West Texas. Seems we've been moving ever since. We've lived mostly in West Texas, but we have spent a few years in East Texas as well as the Middle East. It's been a good ride. I think we still have a few more miles in us.

I'm still waiting for that medal, though.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Storm's a Comin'

As I write this, a storm is developing about 2 hours to the north. It will begin moving this way shortly after noon. It is more dangerous and more deadly than the storms we faced earlier this week. This storm is being fueled by grandsons Camden and Jensen.

Yep, those little terrorists-in-training will soon be heading our way. They've been honing their skills the past couple of months, and I'm sure they have new horrors to inflict upon their poor old grandpa.

This is grandson Xander's last day of school. Doesn't that seem early to you for school to be letting out? It is, after all, only May 18. But he gets out at 12:00 today. Then he and his gang of cutthroats will ramble down US 87, cross Cannibal Draw, then make the final approach towards their objective -- Grandpa's House. I've been trying to secure my perimeter, but those little devils always seem to be able to breach my defenses.

If you don't hear from me again, you'll know I lost this battle.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Break in the Weather

We enjoyed a break in the weather last night. Yes, we had threatening clouds roll in, and some pretty impressive ones at that, but we didn't get high winds, hail, or even a drop of rain. It was nice to watch.

Below are an assortment of pictures of not only the clouds, but some other things from around the neighborhood.

The darkening clouds moved in from the west and covered the entire northern portion of the sky.
The wall of clouds was pretty ominous.

These clouds to the south looked somewhat like snow capped mountains.
And this is what it looked like to the northeast.
And now, on to other things . . . .

While inspecting the bur oak in our front yard, I noticed it was putting out a new crop of acorns.

I left Donna's fingers in the photo to get a sense of size. When mature, these bur acorns will be as large  as or larger than a ping pong ball.

I espied this century plant in a neighbor's back bard. The electric pole to the right will give you a sense of just how tall these plants get. I'll be watching for it to bloom. Hopefully, I'll get a good picture then.

On my walk this morning, I heard the turkeys and finally found them in a neighbor's yard. The one on the right is in full form. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stormy Weather, Tuesday Edition

We had some more violent weather last night.

Daughter Courtney, who lives about 2 hours north of us, got hit first. She sent us a picture showing her front porch littered with marble-sized hail. Our weather rolled in about 6:30.

The local weather reported wind gusts in excess of 80 mph. It certainly was blowing. This time, we received almost 1.5 inches. So all told, we have received over 3.5 inches the last 2 days. That is great for us, and it puts us ahead of our average for this time of year, I believe.

I'll be checking web sites the next few days to see if our lake levels have risen at all. It takes quite a bit of runoff to raise the levels in our lakes.

Storm clouds are gathering to the southeast. The storm approached from the west and had a "C" shape that seemed to encircle us from the north, west, and south. 
You can see the wind is blowing from right to left in this picture, especially by looking at the small tree in the center and the larger tree to its left. But look at the poplar type trees in right center. They seem to be standing upright. 

We were getting some good lightning, but I never could capture it. Notice the small streak above the house in right center. Streaks were spreading across the sky. Also notice the tree on left is leaning more to the left in this picture than in the one above. The poplars are slightly tilted now as well.

Now take a look at the poplar trees in this picture and how much they are yielding to the southerly winds.
Rainbow came out to the southeast. Notice the standing water at very bottom of picture. It collects there.

This is the northern end of the rainbow. The colors here are not as vivid.

And then the sun came out. Notice that even the standing water at bottom right has already drained away for the most part. Compare this picture to the one at top.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

More Rain

Boy, we had a storm last night.

Clouds began to darken to the west and north about mid-afternoon. I even heard some distant thunder about then. But nothing moved into our immediate area for a while. Weather advisories popped up on the television about storms to our north in the Robert Lee area, but things remained dry here.

Then, about 6:30 or so last night, it was our turn. The storm proper lasted only about 2 hours or so, but during that time we received about 2.25 inches of rain, some marble sized hail, and some very high winds and loud thunder. We had some real flooding on the streets to our south and east.

On my walk about the neighborhood this morning, there was quite a bit of debris strewn about, but no damage that I could see. Lots of gravel and mud had been washed into streets, and leaves were scattered all over. A few benches we have strategically located about the neighborhood were toppled over. But again, there was no damage.

This is precisely the kind of rain that provides runoff that can help area lakes. I'm sure Twin Buttes and Nasworthy benefited from the deluge, and I hope that water pouring into the Concho River will make its way downstream to O.H. Ivie, which supplies most of our municipal water needs.

We have a chance for isolated storms again this evening. We'll see what turns up.

This is what I emptied from the rain gauge earlier this morning. That's right at 2.25 inches. Wow! That is great for this area.
I stuck my camera out the door to catch this picture. The wind was blowing the rain so hard that I was getting pelted as I stood in the door. Note the tree leaning over. Wind was probably 50 mph or so at this point. You can barely make out the clubhouse directly behind the street light, which was already on despite being only 6:30 or so.
This is a terrible picture. it was still pouring, and you can see the drops on the lens. But noticed the white caps. The entire street was flooded.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

I wish all of you moms out there a Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted Donna to have a special day, so I dragged her out of bed early and hauled her to the state park for a 5 mile walk. I don't want her getting soft on me; I have to make sure she stays healthy. After the walk, I took her back home so she could be a good mother and cook me a good lunch. She's one lucky gal.

Seriously, Donna and I don't pay much attention to holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries much any more. Sure, we remember to say something to one another. But local restaurants are always crowded on Mother's Day and Valentine's Day and such, so we avoid them. Instead, we find a time a day or two before or after for our celebration. Donna and I will go out tomorrow to a place of her choice. I'm looking forward to it. I hope she picks a place I like; I don't want to go someplace and have to eat rabbit food, but I will if I have to.

I'll leave you with some more pictures I've taken lately. These were taken either in our backyard or during our latest walk at the state park. What better way to spend a special day than in one of our lovely state parks!

We have a scissor tail that visits often, and it likes to sit atop this same pole by the street.
I've written before about the killdeers that visit every spring and produce a family. A few weeks ago, I was able to watch both parents and 3 babies regularly. Lately, though, I've only seen the chick (left) and parent (right) shown above. I guess something got the rest of them.

We were only a half mile or so into our walk at the park early this morning when we came across this little cottontail. He stayed still until we were almost upon him.

The Highland Range is a subdivision that backs up to the park. The road we walk on in the park passes the backyards of several houses, including the one above. We think this structure is probably a green house. The black thing in front is a cistern to catch water from the roof of the small structure. I would estimate the cistern is 250 gallons or so.

There were quite a few folks at the park this morning. Some were jogging, some were riding bicycles, and some were just relaxing. It was overcast, and that helped hold the temps down, though it was a bit more humid than normal. I snapped these two jogging nearby on Red Dam, a small dam inside the park.

This is one of the campgrounds in the park. The oak trees are a rarity in the park. You can see a bit of the lake on the left as well as the O C Fisher Dam in the background. We often walk on that dam.

I spotted these black vultures sitting in the top of a dead mesquite. That is the O C Fisher Dam in the background and a bit of the lake as well. I think these guys spotted us and expected us to collapse. Buzzards tend to follow us a lot these days. I wonder why?

Can you see the cottontail in this picture? it is dead center. Donna spotted him near the end of our walk. He blends into his surroundings nicely, doesn't he.

This is the campground Donna and I always stayed in when we had a trailer. It lacks the larger oak trees, though it has numerous mesquites. It is also within range of the WiFi on the nearby bathhouse. 

In addition to the animals shown above, we also spotted a large jackrabbit, a road runner, and numerous birds, including a woodpecker and a bird with a yellowish/orange chest.