Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting Around

Well, it is still hot, hot, hot in San Angelo. Daily highs have been hovering around the 100 degree mark, and we even hit some triple digits this week. I'm ready for some cooler weather. Even the nights are warm, rarely getting below 75 or so. We were fortunate to receive a little rain this week, about .2 inch. That's not much, but perhaps it will green things a bit.

I had an interesting experience while walking Wednesday morning. There is an elderly man a street over who uses a walker, but the old guy does his short walk on a regular basis. I spotted him up ahead as he was finishing his walk. He walked onto his driveway, then stopped. As I got closer, he waved me over, then pointed to his front porch. I took a look, and there was a little rattlesnake there. The old gentleman went in to his garage and came out with a shovel -- he couldn't find a hoe -- and asked me to kill the snake. I severed the head and the gentleman disposed of the remains. Another walker out here recently told us about finding a snake at his house, so we have to keep our eyes open.

Donna and I attended another presentation in the Fort Concho Speaker Series. This one was "Mysteries of the Texas Panhandle" by Joe Weaver. The title was a bit misleading, as I was expecting mysteries, such as missing people, unexplained lights, or some other such thing. Instead, it was really a discussion of how the Panhandle has developed over the years and related items. I still enjoyed it very much, as the Panhandle has long been a place of interest to me and I've read much about it. These presentations surely do pull a lot of people in. Most folks are retired, like Donna and I, but there are others who attend. The sessions are set up for lunch, so even people from the work force can attend.

We attended a little social at our club house this week as well. We were treated to root beer floats. It's hard to turn down anything free, but when ice cream is involved, it's darn near impossible. We were able to meet new neighbors, and that is always good. Over the 15 or so months we've lived here, we've met quite a few of the residents. I grew up in a small town and literally knew just about everyone in town. Rio Concho West has that sort of feel about the place.

But we are always reminded that this is a retirement community. Even though Donna and I are healthy and active, some of our neighbors are not. During one of my walks early in the week, an EMT vehicle came along the street searching for an address. It passed me, continued a quarter mile or so down the street, then came roaring back. In the meantime, I spotted another EMT vehicle on another nearby street. Both eventually found their locations. One evening this week, Donna and I were on our patio enjoying a light rain when an EMT vehicle flew by on the street. It turned and went down the next street and continued out of sight. I wonder about the quality of the GPS devices they must use, as they seem to have trouble finding addresses.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

All's Well

Irma has dissolved and I'm happy to report my brother Larry came through the storm in very good shape. He lives on the east coast of Florida, so at first we thought Irma was heading straight for me. Of course, the storm moved farther west and Larry did not get a direct hit. He was without power for a few days, but his building suffered no real damage. It looks like Jose has turned north and will miss much of the east coast, but two other storms, Maria and Lee, are currently building in the Atlantic. Current projected course for Maria will take it over much of the same route as Irma, so that isn't good. But storms can change, and we'll hope for the best. It's really too early to project a course for Lee.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things have heated up in San Angelo. We've had several 100+ degree days, and have even set a record or two. It is, of course, dry. By the end of this month, though, we should be cooling off and settling in to some good autumn weather.

Donna and I continue to be absolutely worthless and do nothing except walk a few miles every other day. We do have upcoming trips planned, though, and we are looking forward to those. Unfortunately, I've been sent a jury notice, so I will have to make an appearance sometime in October. We'll have to plan our trips around that public service.

I've been monitoring this Equifax nightmare and taking necessary precautions as I can. I can't express the outrage I feel over this entire episode and the irresponsible manner the Equifax morons have handled things. We should reconsider public floggings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Lunch at a Cathouse

For Donna's birthday, I let the old girl pick where she wanted to have her birthday meal. She decided on Miss Hattie's Restaurant in downtown San Angelo.

Now, there is a bit of history to this place. It's full name is Miss Hattie's Restaurant and Cathouse Lounge. The actual building housing the restaurant was constructed in the 1880's and was, at that time, home to the San Angelo National Bank. (see history) The bordello was actually two buildings over and upstairs, if I understand correctly, and there was a tunnel which connected it to the bank for the convenience and "discretion" of its patrons. The bordello began business in 1902 and continued operating until closed by the Texas Rangers in 1952. Today, you can tour Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum. Times are somewhat limited, so check the website. By the way, Miss Hattie's was not the only bordello operating along Concho Street.

Entrance to the Bordello Museum.
The restaurant is in the building on far right. This was, as I said, originally the bank building. The bordello was in the upstairs section of the larger building on the left. 

Boardwalk in front of the restaurant
Entrance to the restaurant
This was our second time to eat at Miss Hattie's. It's a nice place, and the building maintains many of it's original features, such as pressed tin ceiling. They have a full lunch menu with a variety of items, including a "Brothel Burger" that was acclaimed at one time as the 28th best burger in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. I've not tried the burger yet, but intend to some time.

For her lunch, the birthday girl ordered grilled chicken pasta, which is a grilled chicken breast served over fettucine tossed in Alfredo sauce. I ordered the chicken fried steak.

The meal for each of us began with a small salad, consisting off a few tossed greens, 1 slice of cucumber, and half a slice of tomato. Rather meager pickings, I'd say. My steak looked good when it arrived, but my disappointment soon began to build. First, the menu clearly stated the steak is served with mashed potatoes, and I was served French fries, which I'm not a big fan of. The vegetable of the day was a helping of sweet corn. Neither the corn nor the fries were hot, just lukewarm at best. I began cutting into my steak. It was not until my fourth bite that I finally tasted meat. About a one inch perimeter of the steak was nothing more than crust. One of my standards for a good chicken fried steak is how tender it is; I expect to be able to cut a cfs with my fork. I had to use a knife several times on this steak.

My chicken fried steak. Gravy was served on the side. About half of the steak was crust.
Donna's pasta dish started out well. The chicken actually had a good flavor, but as she worked her way through her meal, she found the chicken to be tough.

Donna's grilled chicken pasta
The waitress was attentive, but there was a lot of waiting involved for us. There seemed to be long gaps of time from sitting down, being served drinks, ordering our meal, and being served. Once we finished our meal, it took us about 25 minutes to pay up and leave. I don't know what the precise problem was; as I said, the waitress was attentive, but the process seems to be out of whack. There were plenty of wait staff for the number of patrons in the restaurant.

Interior of restaurant
So, we were disappointed in our meals. Will we go back? Yes, we will. Our previous experience was good, and we like the menu. I think it is just a matter of figuring out what to order. But the environment is nice, and prices are reasonable for this type of establishment. But you can bet I won't order the chicken fried steak again. I might just get that brothel burger.

It was nice of Donna to let me go to a brothel on her birthday.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Happy Birthday, Donna

Well, today is the old woman's birthday. Donna is a year older today. I won't tell you how old she is; after all, I have to sleep sometime. But if you were to put candles on a cake for her, you'd be violating local fire codes.

Actually, the old girl seems to get younger while I do enough aging for both of us.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Midnight Battle and an Approaching Storm

It's been an interesting week.

Earlier in the week, Donna and I attended a presentation at Fort Concho entitled "The Midnight Battle at Fort Lancaster" by local historian David McMahon. The battle occurred during the War between the States, when a column of approximately 500 troops from California attempted to invade Texas from the west. A command of approximately 550 rangers was assembled and moved west from the San Antonio area to confront the invading force. Very little documentation exists regarding the battle. At present, historians are researching archives as well as investigating camp sites in order to learn more. There are plans to erect an historical marker at a highway nearest the site. One of the best online descriptions of the battle can be found at the Texas Historical Commission.

Fort Concho has an ongoing speaker series. These are offered at lunch to accommodate employed folks. Participants are invited to bring their lunches to enjoy during these presentations, which deal with various historical aspects of life in West Texas. Donna and I visited Fort Lancaster in January 2014 (see "Day Trip: Fort Lancaster State Historic Site" for pictures of the post). The fort is located on Live Oak Creek just off the Pecos River a few miles south of Interstate 10 just a few miles east of the small community of Sheffield. The surrounding country is very scenic. See "On the Road: San Angelo, TX, to Fort Lancaster, TX, and Back" for some pictures of this rugged country.

The weather cooled here a bit this week, and Donna and I started walking some in the late afternoon rather than early morning. In fact, I walked three times in the afternoon this week. However, the heat is slowly coming back, and we expect temps near 100 next week, so I've already shifted back to my morning walks.

Right now, I'm monitoring Hurricane Irma. My brother Larry and his wife Nancy recently moved to Florida, so I'm a bit concerned about them. They now live on the beach just north of Miami. As I write this, the storm has moved more to the west, so I'm hopeful they will be spared the worst. I'm sure they will lose power later tonight sometime, and then it becomes a waiting game until we hear from them again. And let's not forget about Jose and the other storm forming in the eastern Atlantic.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Good Week for Wildlife

Donna and I have been fortunate this week to see quite a bit of wildlife in San Angelo.

Early in the week, we drove out to Spring Creek Park on Lake Nasworthy. We drive out there often when we eat out. It's become pretty much a routine for us. After crossing the bridge, we pulled into the Mary E. Lee Park area next to the San Angelo Nature Center. A prairie dog colony has grown up in the area, and we like to drive by and watch those playful little critters. However, the growth of the colony has been such that the city is now looking at ways to reduce the number. (See related story). They have been removing some, but there are quite a few of those chubby little guys still out there.

From there, we drove around the edge of the lake on Fisherman's Road to Spring Creek Park. As we approached the entrance to the park, we passed a few turkeys working their way along the edge of the mesquites. Then, just inside the park entrance, we came across a dozen or more deer lying around in the shade.

Click to enlarge. There are deer scattered across the width of this picture.
Here's a close-up of a small group taking it easy in the soft grass and the shade of some pecan trees and mesquites.
Donna rose early one morning and looked out the window overlooking our patio, which is her usual routine. She never knows what she will see. On this particular morning, she saw something that looked like a fox. I was not in the room at the time, so I was unable to see what was lurking in our yard.

The daytime highs have been somewhat mild lately, so on Thursday afternoon, we decided to drive out to San Angelo State Park and take a walk out there. It was so pleasant as we walked along the traffic-free roadways, hearing nothing but the chirps of birds and the wind in the trees. We were fortunate to see the bison near our route. I never tire of seeing those massive creatures. They are such a natural part of this landscape and speak volumes of the history of this area.

Later that evening, Donna and I made our way to our rocking chairs on our back patio as darkness began to envelope our neighborhood. It wasn't long until we saw a buck and two doe emerge from the brush to our south. The trio moved along the opposite side of the street from us, then worked their way along a yard and soon disappeared into the draw between our house and the clubhouse.

This morning, I started my walk just before 6:00 AM, which means it is dark. It starts getting light about 6:30 or later these days. As I was nearing the entrance to Rio Concho West, I saw something along the curb ahead. It was too far away for the beam of my flashlight, so I continued my approach. As I got closer, it began to resemble a cat sitting upright. We do have some feral cats in the area, so I assumed it was one of them. As I drew nearer, it then rose and began to move away. I then saw that unmistakable bushy tail and realized I was looking at Donna's fox. It stopped for a moment to turn and look at me, and I could see the outline of its head then. No doubt about it -- that was a fox.

Yep, it's been a good week for wildlife viewing for us. We do enjoy watching animals of any sort. That is probably one of the things we miss most about no longer having our RV. We have spent a lot of time over the years in rural parks in close proximity to numerous critters, and we have enjoyed all those moments.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Harvey is all over the news, as it should be. What a disaster! Donna is from Conroe (just north of Houston) and I did undergraduate and graduate work in Huntsville at Sam Houston State University, so we are both very familiar with the area. Donna has family in Houston as well as Conroe and that area, so we worry about them. They all seem to be doing well, though.

When Harvey first appeared on the radar, some early models projected that it might move inland from Corpus Christi through the San Antonio area and then out to our area. Although any tropical storm is dangerous, we were somewhat hopeful that it might follow this course. Now, I don't want a deadly, damaging storm wrecking where I live, but we continue to be hopeful for some nice sustained rains to fill our reservoirs.

As Harvey neared the Texas coast, models then began accurately predicting its true course. I find it amazing just how accurately the weather can be predicted. Anyway, most of the rains from Harvey did not go much beyond San Antonio and Austin. We received only half an inch last Saturday from an outer band. We need several inches to fall over several days. Hopefully, such rain would fall gently and slowly, allowing the water to flow into our reservoirs without causing much damage.

We seem to always be living on the edge out here as regards our water. One of these days, I'm sure the rains will come and replenish our area lakes. Until then, we continue to live from year to year.

Until then, my thoughts remain with those in coastal Texas and Louisiana who have received much more rain than they wanted. Folks in those areas have some challenging days ahead of them.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back Roads Tour: Lake O. H. Ivie

Donna and I were getting a bit restless, so we decided a drive in the country was in order. I had been thinking of a drive over to O. H. Ivie Reservoir lately, so that seemed like the place to go.

We got an early start Thursday, heading to the east edge of town. At Loop 306, we headed east on Highway 380 for about 30 miles to Paint Rock. About 2 or 3 miles east of the loop, we crossed the Concho River, which would then remain just to our north for the remainder of the drive to Paint Rock. The first half of the drive passed through flat, productive farm land. It's summertime, and the cotton is tall out there in Lipan Flats. We passed through the tiny community of Veribest, home of the Falcons of six-man football. There isn't much there, just a post office, some homes, a Baptist church, and the school. I like a country school like this. In fact, I taught in such a place during the 1980s, in little Wellman about 50 miles southwest of Lubbock. It was one of my favorite teaching experiences.

A few miles east of Veribest, the flat farm land began to disappear, replaced by rolling ranch land covered with mesquite and rocks and grass and cactus. Before long, we found ourselves entering the small community of Paint Rock. Though home to fewer than 300 people, it remains the county seat of Concho County. As with Veribest, this is another six-man football school. What a great game six-man football is. If you've never seen the game played, you have missed a great experience.

Paint Rock doesn't have much. Residents probably journey to either nearby Ballinger (16 miles north) or to San Angelo (30 miles west) for most of their shopping. Besides being the county seat, the town is also home to some Indian petroglyphs. Unfortunately, these are located on private land on the north side of the Concho River just north of town, and arrangements must be made with the owners to visit the site.

South side of Concho County courthouse in Paint Rock, Texas

North side of Concho County courthouse, with mostly deserted shops along US 83.

Concho River, taken from US 83 bridge. Notice old bridge support in left of picture among trees.

This is the bridge over the Concho River on Highway 1929. That is a really big house on the bluff. At one time, much of this land was covered with the waters of O. H. Ivie, but that was quite a while ago.
At Paint Rock, we turned north on US 83, crossing the Concho River on the north edge of town. About 3 miles farther, we turned east on Highway 1929, the Ray Stoker, Jr., highway. In 11 miles, we crossed the Concho River again. This is where the reservoir really begins.

O. H. Ivie Reservoir was impounded in 1990. It is formed by waters from the Colorado and Concho Rivers. It has the potential to be a rather large lake, with a potential surface area of almost 20,000 acres and a depth of 119 feet. The lake provides water for a number of West Texas communities, such as Abilene, Ballinger, Big Spring, Midland, Millersview-Doole, Odessa, San Angelo, and Snyder. The lake is owned and operated by the Colorado River Municipal Water District. It has a storage capacity of 554,339 acre feet. It currently has only 117,679 acre feet, so it is at about 20% capacity.

Since we moved to San Angelo in 2011, it seems that the lake has hovered at such levels, even dipping to 15% capacity of so at one time. We just can't seem to get the sustained rains we need to replenish the lake. All of the data above is just that -- data. Numbers are one thing, but when you actually see the lake, they you really realize just how precarious your situation can be. Fortunately, San Angelo has other water sources it can utilize. Still, water remains one of our top concerns.

The lake around the Concho Park area. Not much water out there.

But I digress . . . . . let's get back to the trip.

There is not much development around the reservoir. At one time, I think there was some attempt at development. However, the consistently low water levels have impacted those attempts. There are some parks, such as Concho Park and Kennedy Park. Camping is available, but we found the facilities to be in rather poor condition. The concession at Kennedy Park appears to be for sale and it did not appear to be open. The whole thing is a bit depressing.

Hawk surveying the country from his perch on power pole.
View of the lake from high ground on the highway.
Just before the dam, we came across a scenic area, so we pulled off and I was able to snap some pictures of the dam and lake. From there, we drove along the downriver side of the dam, then continued around the lake. We soon intersected with Highway 503, turned north, and headed to Valera. Along the way, we passed the small community of Voss and the country school of Panther Creek, another six-man football school. I'm so glad to see these small country schools surviving. They do such a wonderful job of teaching the basics.

Lake with dam on right. Picture taken from scenic view area.
View of dam on downstream side.

Colorado River downstream from the dam.

Boat Ramp in Kennedy Park

Old school building in Valera.
At Valera, we turned west on US 67 and headed to Ballinger, where we enjoyed cheeseburgers at Gonzalez Restaurant at the corner of US 67 and North 7th Street.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Patrick Dearen

If you've read my blog much, you know how much I love Texas history. It has been a passion of mine my entire life. I would not say I that I am an amateur Texas historian, but I am well read and quite knowledgeable on certain periods of the subject.

Over the years, I've read all the giants of Texas literature, such as J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and John Graves. And of course, I've read my favorite Texas fiction writers, such as Elmer Kelton and Larry McMurtry. I've even read Frederick Law Olmsted's A Journey through Texas; only serious Texas historians can make that claim. And then there are the less well known Texas writers, such as Hallie Stillwell and Sallie Reynolds Matthews; although not as well known as others, these folks have made a great contribution in recording regional history of our state.

My latest discovery is Patrick Dearen. Now, I've known about Mr. Dearen for many years, at least since 1991 when -- if I recall correctly, -- I attended an event in which he was the guest speaker, but I've simply neglected to read any of his works. A few weeks ago, though, I checked out 2 of his books, and I've been plowing through them since then.

For the most part, Mr. Dearen is a tireless and devoted historian. In his work, he will focus on a specific aspect of Texas history and do some very thorough research, even to the point of hiking to secluded and forgotten spots. Most -- if not all -- of his work seems to center on West Texas, and dwells on topics that have been neglected in the past. For example, I just finished reading Crossing Rio Pecos. This book thoroughly explores the numerous fords and crossings of the once treacherous Pecos River, which at one time formed a formidable barrier to east-west travel in the state.

But Mr. Dearen has also written a few novels. I cannot comment on these, as I've yet to read any. But they are certainly on my list.

If you are a serious student of Texas history, especially of Texas west of the Pecos, then you should really look into Mr. Dearen's work. You will not be disappointed. I'm just sorry it has taken me so long to give his work a chance.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rain and Other Things

We've been blessed with some good rain this past week.

Last weekend, we received slightly more than half an inch. Since then, it has rained lightly several times, but none amounting to more than a tenth or so. But on Thursday night, we had another half inch. So, in the past week, we've had probably an inch and a quarter or so. That's really good for us. We're about where we should be for the year, perhaps an inch or two behind.

An old friend from our Ozona days passed away recently, so we made the trek there last Monday evening to pay our respects. It was good to see old friends and colleagues, some that we have not seen since we left there in 1999. San Angelo is the nearest big shopping town for Ozona, so we do run into folks from there around town, especially places like Walmart and H.E.B. And lots of folks from Ozona retire to Angelo, much like we have, and we see them around town from time to time.

We were glad to see how green things were in Ozona. They have really had good rains there this summer, much more than what we have received in Angelo. That is ranch country down there, and the pastures did look good.

It was also interesting to see the many changes in Ozona. The town seems healthy. It had been a while since our last visit, so we were surprised to see 2 new hotels, a Holiday Inn Express and a Hampton Inn. Ozona is a good place for east/west travelers to stop on Interstate 10. Hotel rates are reasonable, and there a several good places to get a good meal. I'm glad to see the town is doing so well.

We boarded the fun bus to ride to the Manor for lunch on Wednesday. We always enjoy socializing with our fellow inmates, but I have to say, I enjoy the food over there less and less each time I go. It's hard to beat the price of $6.50 for a full meal (drink, entrees, veggies, bread, and dessert), but the quality really lacks.

It's been quite a while since we attended a birthday dinner at the club. It seems we are always traveling when those dates roll around each month.

Aside from that, we just continue our regular routines and look forward to our next trip.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Some Walking Stats

If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I'm an avid walker. I've always enjoyed walking. When I go for a week or so without walking, I just start feeling bad. It is always so good and invigorating to take a good walk after a period of inactivity.

We moved to our new home a little over a year ago. I took my first walk at Rio Concho West on June 25, 2016. I'd like to share some of my walking stats for the past year (June 25, 2016 to June 25, 2017).

I use a GPS tracker every time I walk or hike. Most of the data I'm about to share is from walks, and most of those are from Rio Concho West, where I live. Some of the data comes from hikes we've taken in the past year, and some of the data comes from other walks we've taken, such as out at the state park or other local walking venues. Overall, my GPS tracker works well, but on occasion, it does err. So my data, for the most part, is about 99% reliable. As a result, the data I'm sharing is actually less that what I really walked.

As a rule, I try to walk every other day. However, due to trips we may take, illness, laziness, and other circumstances, I sometimes may miss several days. From June 25, 2016, to June 25, 2017, I walked 397.9 miles on 105 days. So, that means I am actually walking only about every 3.48 days. Well, we do travel quite a bit. And that also means that I average 3.79 miles per walk.

For health purposes, I feel you must walk at a fairly brisk pace for at least 30 minutes to get any true benefit. For me, that means I have set 2 miles as my bare minimum for any walk I take. In reality, I almost always walk at least 3 miles per outing. Health benefits from regular walking include the following:
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. (The main reason for my doctor encouraging me to walk)
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Improve your balance and coordination.
For a while, I was focused on speed and distance. My goal was to walk at least 4 miles at an average clip of less than 17 minutes per mile. I sustained this for a while, but found that this caused my feet to hurt. I tried different things, such as putting cushions in my shoes and using double socks. These measures helped, but the foot pain continued, causing me to miss walking at times.

Today, I am satisfied to walk shorter distances at slower speeds. As a result, I may not walk as far, but I am walking more often with fewer interrupted periods. I am averaging between 3.5 and 4 miles per walk now, and I usually average 17½ to 18 minutes per mile. This seems to be working well for me at this time.

I find that when I stop walking for a period of at least 1 week or more, it is hard for me to get myself restarted. For example, I was ill in May for a while and did not walk for 2 weeks. When I did resume my walks, they were very short, just over 2 miles. Prior to that, I had been averaging more than 4 miles per walk. I am just now getting back to the 4 mile range. Yes, as you get older, it becomes more difficult to recover from down times. But since that time, my walking has been more consistent. For example, from June 28 to July 28, I walked 13 days (that is a walk every 2.3 days as compared to the 3.48 days cited above) for a total of 44.85 miles. If I continued this for a year, my annual total would be 538.2 miles walked on 156 days. I doubt I'll accomplish that due to travel, illness, and other interruptions, but the consistency this past month has certainly been good.

For now, I just plan to keep on walking as often, as far, and as fast as I comfortably can.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Night at the Theater: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Donna and I recently enjoyed a night at our local community theater, Angelo Civic Theater, watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Some of you old timers probably watched the original 1954 film starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell in the lead roles of Adam and Millie. The movie won the Academy award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and was nominated for four other awards, including Best Picture (which was won by On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando).

This particular work is unusual in that it was a movie before appearing as a play on Broadway. Normally, works begin as plays, then become movies if they are popular enough.

The play is set in Oregon in the 1850s. Adam Pontipee ventures into the local town in search of a wife. By the end of the day, he has convinced Millie to marry him, and he takes her home to his farm/ranch in the mountains, where his 6 brothers await, unbeknownst to the new bride. She then sets about teaching the brothers manners and how to court the fairer sex in hopes that they will each get their own wife so that she will not have to care for 6 bachelors as well as her own husband.

The play is a musical, and is famous for its rousing dance numbers set to such natural events as a barn raising. It also has more parts than most plays, using a cast of over 30 actors. For these reasons, it is a challenge for a small theater to put on.

It was an enjoyable evening at the theater.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk

I have trouble finding a good movie to watch these days. It seems that so much of what Hollywood is currently producing is pure fantasy. For example, here is the list of what is now playing at the theater (Cinemark) that Donna and I frequent. I've labeled each and sometimes provided a blurb from the movie:
  • The Emoji Movie (Animated)
  • Dunkirk
  • Atomic Blonde (Highly choreographed tale. "The crown jewel of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission.")
  • Girls Trip (Raunchy. "there's enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.")
  • Spider Man: Homecoming (Fantasy)
  • Despicable Me 3 (Animated)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes. (Fantasy)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Fantasy. "A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets.")
  • Baby Driver (Action/Thriller. "After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.")
  • The Big Sick. (Romantic Comedy. "Bickering parents and a serious health scare threaten the budding relationship between a Pakistani stand-up comic (Kumail Nanjiani) and his American girlfriend (Zoe Kazan).")
  • Wonder Woman (Fantasy)
  • Wish Upon (Fantasy. "A teen girl discovers a magical box that will grant her seven wishes. As she uses her wishes for personal gain, bad things begin to happen to those around her. She discovers an evil entity lives inside the box and may be behind the gruesome deaths.")
  • 47 Meters Down (Thriller. Two thrill seeking sisters get more than they bargained for when the shark cage they are in breaks away and falls to the bottom of the sea in shark infested waters.)
  • The Angry Birds. (Animated)
That is a list of 14 movies currently playing in our theater. Of those, 3 are animated, 3 are about super heroes in highly choreographed (and unbelievable) action scenes, 3 are other types of fantasies, and 1 is simply raunchy and distasteful. That leaves only 4 movies that are anywhere near realistic and believable. Pretty slim pickings.

Now, I'll readily admit that some fantasies are worth watching. The original Star Trek TV series, I thought, put forth some very interesting plots that made you think "what if?". But today, most such fantasy shows dwell more on action than ideas.

It's rare to find a movie that is historically accurate and that portrays realistic human emotions. Dunkirk does that very well. There really is no central character in the movie; rather, the movie follows the actions of several people as allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. There are cowards as well as heroes, men in shock and men who rise to the challenge. The horrors of war are accurately depicted, and human growth is shown. It is a very sound movie that does a good job of recording this often overlooked episode in the early days of World War II, well before America's entry into that conflict.

Sadly, there simply aren't enough movies today that deal with subjects accurately and realistically. Such a movie is a rare gem, indeed.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Dark Side

I'm not proud of it. I've resisted a long, long time. But in the end, it was futile to resist further.

I've gone over to the dark side.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've join Facebook.

In all honesty, I find Facebook and most other social media -- for the most part -- to be silly and juvenile. From what I've seen, such resources are filled with mindless drivel about silly things folks have seen -- usually online -- and want to share with others. And once something is posted, then people respond in droves by "liking" it or by making equally silly and mindless comments.

When do people have time to do all of this? Well, they have time by not doing their jobs, for one thing. Look around. In Walmart, that employee who should be stocking a shelf is actually updating his/her Facebook page. That person driving the car in the lane next to you is tweeting something. And the man pushing the cart wildly down a grocery aisle is watching a funny video his girlfriend just sent him. And yes, that man just ran his cart into me. Take a look around a restaurant. What do you see? You will see instances where two people sitting at a table are not talking, but each is using his/her smart phone. We are not living anymore; we are watching other people live.

So, if I have so much trouble with Facebook, why did I join? Because so many businesses these days use Facebook for their web presence. And if you want to see a menu or a list of services for these businesses, you have to log in to your Facebook account -- if you have one.

I created my Facebook account Friday, and I'm trying to learn the ins and outs of the thing. It seems pretty intrusive to me. I'm trying to remain pretty private, but I've already discovered that is going to be difficult. I "friended" my wife and daughter -- only because I knew I'd be in trouble if I didn't (they don't handle rejection well at all; in fact, they can become quite hostile, at least with me) -- and I started getting friend requests almost immediately from people I really don't even know. I think some people just like clicking on buttons.

But I'm out there now, although I'll probably live to regret it. I don't expect to use it very much, and if I don't "friend" you, please don't be offended. It's really not personal; I'm just not a friendly guy. Ask my wife and daughter -- they can verify this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Just Passing the Time

Donna and I have not done much lately.

This past Saturday, Donna went to daughter Courtney's house to celebrate the grandsons' birthday. All 3 boys were born within a couple of weeks or so of one another, so each year, they share a common birthday party.

Aside from that, we've done very little.

For the past 6 weeks or so, I've been battling a temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to simply as TMJ. This is a problem with the jaw joint and the muscles around it. TMJ disorders can be caused by many problems, including arthritis, which I've suffered from for many years. Sometimes TMJ is due to a combination of stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and other things that strain the jaw joint and the muscles around it. I more or less attribute my problem to a combination of my love for chewing ice, my arthritis, and my habit of grinding my teeth over the years. I've also eaten lots of almonds for the past 30 years or so; these are somewhat hard and may contribute to the problem as well.

The main symptom of TMJ is a dull pain on just one side of the face, near the ear. For me, the problem is on my left side. In fact, at first I thought I was getting an ear infection, but my first visit to a clinic resulted in a diagnosis of TMJ. Sometimes the pain also affects the ear, jaw, or back of the neck. I've also experienced a few headaches. Actually, I don't consider the symptoms so much painful as I do a type of pressure. It's really more a type of discomfort for me rather than pain. I can feel my jaw joint actually popping when I move my mouth, as if the joint has been dislocated. This might be a result of all the times Donna has slapped me around.

There isn't much you can do about TMJ, it seems. You can take anti-inflammatory medicine to alleviate the pain, perhaps even muscle relaxers. But these simply treat the symptoms, not the cause. Some folks may find help by using bite plates, which are special devices that fit in your mouth to prevent you from grinding your teeth during sleep. For my part, I'm simply watching what I eat. I'm avoiding hard foods (almonds, for example) and I have given up ice chewing. I also do some mouth exercises. It's taken a while, but I'm finally feeling somewhat better. I'm still experiencing some discomfort, but not nearly as much as I did a couple of weeks ago.

Now, to top things off, mean old Donna has come down with a summer cold and/or sore throat of some type. She's really dragging about today, which is unusual for her, so we are staying home and resting.

Perhaps soon we'll do something interesting enough to write about.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Hummer House

We lived and worked for several years in the 1990s in Ozona, a small town about 80 miles southwest of San Angelo. That is how we came to know Angelo. While there, we met the Floyds, Charles and Nancy. Charles was a campus principal, and Nancy was a classroom teacher. When we retired to San Angelo, we discovered that they were retired and living here. Since retiring, first Charles and then Nancy became involved with banding hummingbirds. Today, they travel around the state banding the little hummers. Last year or so, they moved to the Davis Mountains, so we don't see much of them anymore. But they still come to the area from time to time to do banding. We were able to sit in on one of their sessions this past Saturday. It was extremely interesting.

When in this area, the Floyds work with hummingbirds at The Hummer House in Christoval, a small community on US 277 about 20 miles south of Angelo. The Hummer House is located on a private ranch a couple of miles southeast of Christoval on the South Concho River (See "Backroads Tour: Mertzon, Eldorado, Christoval, and Knickerbocker" from March 2017 for some pictures of the South Concho River).

I'll not try to act like an authority on hummingbirds or other birds. Follow the link above to the Hummer House website for accurate information. But I will share some of the pictures I took during our visit. By the way, work is not limited to only hummingbirds.

The first picture below shows Charles holding a small bird -- a young and/or female painted bunting, I believe -- and sharing some of his vast knowledge of birds. His wife Nancy is behind him banding a bird. The lady to Nancy's right is cataloging the data Nancy is collecting. The banding process includes gathering data about weight, size, sex, and approximate age, among other things.

Charles Floyd in action

Unknown bander measuring a hummingbird.

After birds have been banded, they are then released. Nancy and Charles brought the birds to various visitors, especially children, and allowed them to release the birds. Most of the hummingbirds would sit calmly in the palms of their holders. Some had to be encouraged to fly away. Other species seemed very eager to leave.
This is Nancy holding, I believe, a lesser goldfinch.

The next few pictures show a beautiful mature painted bunting.

Charles displaying a beautiful mature male painted bunting.

This angle better shows the yellow on the bird's back.

Both of these birds are painted buntings, and both are male. The difference is age. The bird on left is a very young male, while the one on the right is about 6 years old.

And here's one final angle to compare the young and old. This is a truly beautiful bird.

This is one device used to collect birds. This is a wire cage surrounding a hummingbird feeder. There is a small opening on the left. The birds get in easily enough, but have more trouble getting out.

This man is waiting to collect some birds from the hummingbird feeder next to the house. He is holding several small yellow mesh bags in his left hand. Each bird goes in to a bag to hold it until data is collected and a band placed on its leg.

It was a fun day. Charles made 2 trips to the river to collect birds trapped there in nets. Several visitors went along each time. I would like to have gone, but there simply was not enough room in his truck. There were quite a few visitors for this session. Nancy would press a small hummingbird against our ears so that we could listen to its rapid heartbeat.

If you enjoy birds, this is something worth investigating. Perhaps you can find some sessions somewhere near where you live.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Skunk and Some Monsters

For the most part, it's been a quiet week for Donna and me.

On Thursday, daughter Courtney brought our 3 grandsons for a visit. They stayed the day, arriving about 10 AM and leaving about 5 PM. I'm glad they left when they did because the two little ones were going into monster mode.

On my walk Friday morning, a skunk crossed the road in front of me about a quarter mile from my house. I would guess this is the same skunk that I've been seeing for the past month or so. I posted a picture of the little guy in a recent entry (see "A Morning Surprise and Other Things"). Before that, it crossed the road in front of me about the same place it did on my Friday walk. I've also smelled it on numerous occasions. I suppose it has a den in the pasture behind our development. I know that some people set out food for animals, especially the wild cats that roam the area, and it may be that the skunk has discovered these buffets and is helping itself.

We tried a new restaurant on Wednesday, Jalapenos Locos on East Avenue K. We both tried the shrimp tacos. Neither of us really cared for this dish, but we liked the place in general enough to agree to try something else at another time. I usually order cheese enchiladas on my first visit to a Mexican restaurant, but upon inquiry I learned that they use red sauce on their enchiladas, and I just really don't care for that. I prefer chile con carne on my enchiladas. We did enjoy their salsa; it had a nice bite to it.

The weather has been fairly mild for San Angelo. I think we have hit triple digits only once this week. We have been able to sit out some almost every evening and be comfortable. The humidity has been a bit higher than we like. We've not had any rain in San Angelo, but surrounding areas have received a sprinkle here and there.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Color at RCW

The recent rains have been a true blessing in our area. As I said in a previous post, the rains haven't been plentiful enough to really improve our lake levels, but they have kept the grass in lawns and pastures growing and they have helped the area farmers.

On my walks about the neighborhood, there has been some pretty good color lately, especially with the purple sage. I think I enjoy the purple sage more than any other plant in the desert. As a boy, I read Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage (and I've read it several times since), and fell in love with the descriptions of the desert and the horses running through the purple sage. When sage is in its height of color, the purple is so vivid. My experience has been that if you regularly trim the plant, the blooms are even thicker and richer. But my pictures of purple sage in bloom never seem to capture the deep richness of the purple. And people seem to disagree about when sage blooms. Some folks argue that the sage predicts rain, and blooms just before the rain falls. I find that the blooms follow the rain. Whatever, it is a beautiful plant when in bloom.

Below are some pictures I snapped during my walks in RCW in the last few days. Some of the pictures were taken just as the sun was coming up, so the light was not at its best for picture taking. Still, I believe it will show some of the color of the desert plants around RCW.

I spotted these deer between 2 houses across the street from ours. Notice the purple sage on right. Behind our development is ranch land.
This is taken just to the right of the previous picture. You can see the same purple sage at far left. I love the color along this house. I can not name all the plants in this picture, but the purple, orange, and yellow hues blend nicely, I think.
These two houses also have some nice blends. 
Several desert plants in this photo, including the Mexican bird of paradise (orange flowers). This is the same plant as in other pictures. It is quite popular, colorful, and easy to care for. It is not to be confused with the bird of paradise.
There are a number of desert plants with yellow flowers, and I get them confused, so I won't venture a guess as to what these are. Notice the sage to the left. RCW has a mix of yards. Some are low maintenance (rock yards) while others do have grass. We are considering removing the grass in our front lawn and replacing with rock, but keeping the grass in our back.
Here are some sage plants lining the back of a house. Again, pictures do not do justice to the rich purple.
Here is another house with some beautiful sage.
These sage plants are just across the street from us, so we are able to enjoy their beauty throughout the day. These are regularly trimmed as opposed to those in the preceding pictures.

There is quite a variety of desert plants in this picture.

What a beautiful sunrise. This picture was taken near the entrance to our development.

I don't have the camera for taking night pictures, but I did want to share this shot of the moon Donna and I saw last night. It was a beautiful orange color, much like a harvest moon. The light spot near bottom center is the top of a street light.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Pretty Good Week at RCW

It's been a pretty good week at our home in Rio Concho West. Donna and I have been pretty lazy and haven't done much other than eat and relax.

On the evening of July 4th, a storm blew in from the north. It wasn't as violent as our previous storm (see "Stormy Weather") a week or two earlier, but it had some force. We had 60+ mph winds. There was no real damage in our area, at least not like the previous storm. The good news is that we had some good rain from this storm. I recorded an inch of rain. For the year, we are only an inch under the average for this time of year, so we aren't doing badly. The grass is green and lush for early in July. The rain we've gotten hasn't been enough to restore our lakes, but it has kept everything alive.

One of our favorite grocery stores, Lowe's, has changed its name to Food King. We have 2 of these stores in town, and over the years they run some of the best sales in town, especially on canned goods and vegetables. We are eagerly awaiting the opening of a new H.E.B. store. We like H.E.B. and we buy most of our meat there. But I like many of the H.E.B. store products as well. The current store is at a busy intersection a few miles from our house, but the new store is only a half mile from the entrance to our housing area. That will be nice. We also have a Super Mercado as well as 5 Walmarts (3 super centers and 2 neighborhood markets). Last but certainly not least, we have Market Street, formerly Albertson's. Market Street is part of the United chain, based in Lubbock. And if I'm not mistaken, United is a subsidiary of Albertson's. Market Street is probably the nicest grocery, though it's prices are usually not as competitive as H.E.B. and Walmart.

There is a lot of road construction around the new H.E.B. store as well as along the north loop between Sherwood Way and North Bryant. As a result, we tend to avoid those areas when we get out.

We tried a couple of different restaurants this week. Neither establishment has a web site.

First up, we went to What Da Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant. We ate there once right after it opened about a year or so ago. Donna really liked her meal at that time, though I didn't particularly care for the pho I ordered. This time we both ordered pho ga, which is similar to chicken noodle soup. Pho ga uses rice noddles. The soup is served with a large platter of basil leaves, bean sprouts, peppers, and lime. You add these to the soup as you eat. We both enjoyed the meal. The restaurant is rather small, but that makes it quaint. We intend to go back. Service was excellent.

On our second restaurant outing, we ventured to a recently opened place called Cajun Creations. Donna ordered a grilled shrimp plate, which consisted of 5 shrimp, cole slaw, hush puppies, and dirty rice. I opted for the shrimp po boy, and requested grilled shrimp rather than fried shrimp. They were happy to accommodate me. I also enjoyed the same sides as Donna. The food and service was good, and we will certainly go back. They have daily lunch specials at a fair price. Like What Da Pho, Cajun Creations is a small establishment.

Other than a few shopping trips to our local farmers' market and grocery stores, that is about all we've done this week.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New Header

You may have noticed the new header above. The old picture was no longer relevant, so it was time to say goodbye to it. The former picture, shown below, was taken in June 2015 at South Llano River State Park, and showed our travel trailer resting in site 58. If you look carefully, you can see one of us sitting under the picnic table cover to the left; you can click the picture to enlarge it.

Site 58 at South Llano River State Park, June 2015
But since we no longer have the trailer, I thought it was time to replace that picture. The new header was taken by my brother Larry when he and his wife Nancy came out for a visit in June 2014. Larry, Nancy, Donna, and I had driven up to Big Spring to meet our daughter Courtney and her band of wild Neanderthals for lunch. Before meeting them, we visited Big Spring State Park, which occupies a high spot on the southern edge of the city.

That picture of our camp at South Llano brings back good memories. I do miss camping when the weather is good and there are things to do. But I'm glad we no longer have the trailer. I was reading a story in our local paper yesterday regarding the violent storm we had a week ago. The story contained several pictures of overturned RVs at San Angelo State Park. The damage was pretty bad. I am so thankful we never ran into anything that bad. You can see some of the pictures on the website of our local paper, the San Angelo Standard Times.

Friday, June 30, 2017

RCW Anniversary

Time has a way of slipping away, doesn't it. Although Donna mentioned something recently regarding this, I sort of let our 1 year anniversary at Rio Concho West get by me somehow. Yep, we've lived out here for just over a year now.

It's been a good year at RCW. Life is easy here. It's nice not to have to worry about things. During the recent storm, for example, there was no worry about clean up; after all, that is what RCW does. If damage had been done to our home, it would have been the responsibility of RCW to make repairs. Indeed, the crew has been busy this week cleaning up debris, cutting fallen trees, and making other repairs. The place is just about back in order now.

We really enjoy our home, and we are very comfortable in it. It's one of those homes that just seems to fit our lifestyle. The kitchen is light and spacious, as is the den/living area. We enjoy the big windows in our den that allow us to look out onto the street towards the clubhouse. Throughout the day, we can see our neighbors taking walks, riding around in their golf carts, and going to and from the clubhouse. It's a peaceful, relaxing environment with a strong small community feel about it.

We feel very fortunate to live here. I'm so happy that Donna investigated this place. I don't know of another place of this quality for the money.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Short Trip and 4 Restaurants

On our shortened trip to East Texas last week, we were able to squeeze in 4 restaurants. 3 were old favorites and one was a new one for us.

The first leg of our trip was to my hometown of Fairfield, Texas. Travelers on I-45 have been stopping at Sam's Original Restaurant for years, and most of them stop for the buffet. If you've ever seen it, you'll know why. It's arguably one of the best buffets you'll find in a small town. But I've never had the buffet there. They did not start the buffet until after I graduated from high school, and anytime I came home, my mind was on one thing, the BBQ. Now, Sam's BBQ may not be the best BBQ in Texas, but it is consistently good. I've said before that my favorite BBQ is what is served up in the Central Texas meat markets, such as in Luling and Lockhart. But Sam's BBQ never disappoints. The brisket is always trimmed so that on the brisket plate, you never have any fat, which you often get in the meat markets. The last time I ate in Lockhart, my brisket order was probably one-eight to one-fourth fat. Now, I realize fat adds flavor, but I don't want to eat the fat. The Sam's BBQ comes with 2 sides, dill pickles, and a thick slab of onion, as well as your choice of bread. I like the mini bread loaf, which is the traditional serving. I always order the potato salad as one side. Normally I opt for the pinto beans as the other side, but this time I got cobbler as a side, and it was great and generous. Sam's is also known for homemade pies. Sam has been dead for a number of years, but the restaurant is still family operated by his son, Ponte. Next time I go, I'll order the same thing.

Our second stop was another old favorite, Little Mexico in Palestine, Texas. I started eating at Little Mexico when I was in junior high. At that time, the restaurant was a very small café in a shop across from the courthouse downtown. But as its reputation and popularity grew, it moved to a bigger location. For the last 20 years or so, I've felt that it just wasn't as good as in the old days, but it was still very good Tex Mex. On this trip, I felt that the quality had slipped a bit more while the prices had risen a bit too much. I ordered the Matador Plate, my old standard, which comes with 2 enchiladas (cheese for me), a tortilla chip covered with chili con queso, beans, rice, and a wonderful taco. Now, I still think their tacos are great, but the enchiladas just didn't have the flavor they once had; I feel the ones I get in San Angelo are actually superior. Now don't get me wrong; the food at Little Mexico is still very good, but it just doesn't measure up to my memory, and that may well be my memory's fault. But as we drove away, I told Donna that I did not feel the need to return, especially considering the price.

Our next stop was a place we've been eating for 10 or 15 years, Athena's Greek and Lebanese Grill in Shreveport, LA. This turned out to be another minor disappointment, for 2 reasons. First, the new location on the Shreveport Barksdale Highway was closed. On our last visit, we ate the buffet there and enjoyed it. Not only was it a buffet, but it was considerably closer to the casino we frequent. But that location was closed on this trip. The original location on Line Avenue (at least, original for us) was still open, so we went there. Donna ordered the gyro salad while I had the gyro plate. The meat was definitely different this time, and we both noticed it. We didn't care for it as much. The salad, the hummus, and other items were fine, but the gyro is what we really look forward to, and it just didn't please us. Again, as we drove away, we discussed whether to return. We may give Yeero! Yeero! another try. We used to eat here frequently until we discovered Athena's.

Our last eatery was in nearby Early, Texas (Brownwood). In all our years of passing through Brownwood, we've usually just stopped for fast food (Chicken Express or Schlotzsky's, for example) with the exception of a few stops at Underwoods. But we've noticed the Prima Pasta for several years now and had been wanting to try it. Donna suggested we stop there this trip, and I'm glad she did. It was quite good. Donna had spaghetti with mushrooms while I had baked ziti. Both were good. The sauce on Donna's spaghetti was rich and thick, not watery, and the cheese blend on my ziti was delicious. The salad was good, as was the bread. And since we ordered off the lunch menu, our price was reasonable, the least expensive of the 4 restaurants discussed in this entry. We will definitely stop here again.

Restaurants change over time; our tastes change over time. I'm glad that I still enjoy Sam's, and I'm glad we found a new restaurant, especially one not too far away. Since we pass through Brownwood/Early frequently, we'll be stopping in from time to time.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stormy Weather

In my last post, I mentioned that we cut our trip to East Texas short because of bad weather in the form of Tropical Storm Cindy. Little did I know that by coming back home, we were going from the frying pan into the fire.

Our local weather forecast predicted a 30% chance of rain coming with a cool front. Yesterday, our high topped at 109 degrees, setting a record held since 1969. So, we were looking forward to a cooling trend.

Around 7:00 PM or so, we noticed the wind picking up, along with a light rain. We looked outside and were greeted by the smell of rain on a hot summer day. Then the wind increased, as did the rain. I was working on the computer, and Donna was watching a movie on Netflix. Normally, when the weather turns bad, Donna starts shutting things down, so I was a bit surprised that the TV was still on. Then the wind really picked up, and the rain began splattering with some velocity, and she began turning things off. Just before she turned off the TV, though, we caught a local weather alert, which indicated winds had reached 80 to 85 mph in the area, mainly north of here, I think.

The power then went off for several minutes, but came back on shortly. A few minutes later, the power shut down again, this time for much longer. We gathered our emergency items: flashlights, battery powered radio, candles, etc. We glanced outside and saw the north wind bending over all the trees. Our neighbor's flag, which we watch regularly for wind direction, was whipping boldly. The flag pole-- which extends above the neighbor's roof -- would soon snap at the base like a match stick.

Our power stayed off until 10:30 or so. The house was getting somewhat warm compared to the 72 degrees it was now outside. I was able to go out on our back patio once the rain eased and cool off out there and watch the most fabulous lightning show to the east I've ever seen. Streaks of lightning would fill the eastern sky, reaching in all directions. It was magnificent.

Finally the wind eased, and the rain ended. After the power returned, we crawled into bed and had a good sleep. For more info on the storm, complete with pictures, go to San Angelo Live.

This morning, we took a drive around Rio Concho West and I snapped the shots below. We sustained no noticeable damage at our house, so we feel very fortunate. I cannot tell you how much rain we received, though, for the wind blew the rain gauge away. I retrieved it from the yard this morning and remounted it.

Our neighbor's flag pole, which I mentioned above.
Debris covered the streets in the old section of our development.
This tree just split. It fell between 2 houses. I do not know if either house was damaged.
Another split tree, similar to the one above.

I'm not even going to venture a guess as to how this golf cart ended up between these 2 rows of houses. Several residents have golf carts, but they keep them in their driveways or garages. Notice the downed limbs.
Another split tree, this one at our club house, The Oak Tree Club. It looks as if the tip of the tree just brushed the building on its way down.
Luckily, this ripped tree fell into the street rather than on the house.
Down by the nearby Walmart, this sign for a medical care center was damaged, but crews were already repairing it.
The wind is still blowing today and skies are overcast, but nothing is on the radar at the moment. We do have a 30% chance of rain right now, increasing to 50% tonight. We'll see.