Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas morning, 2011...


and so it came to pass at 7420 in little a-town, that most precious of all happenings.  family gathered from hither and yon and that most rare of occurrences... snow on Christmas morning.  and even more rare, more perfect, that snow is falling straight down.

to add a bow atop this snow Christmas gift, the rarely seen at our back yard bird feeder, Horace, the Christmas cardinal.  no other gift need me given to the lady of this house.

as for me i am content, with family gathered 'round and the hush of falling snow muting the hustle and bustle of the day, it just doesn't get any better than this.

my wish for each of you and yours is a picture perfect day just like the one we are having here.  and a blessed new year filled with peace and the the wonder of discovery a new year brings. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Monday, December 5, 2011

it's snowing...

as usual, the weather gurus have it wrong again.   the prediction was for snow, "up to an inch on the west side of of little a-town" and tapering off as it passes to the east. it started to snow as i was going to bed last night. as the hour approaches noon, it continues to snow pretty hard at times and accumulation here at 7420 is likely close to 3 inches, give or take. there's nothing wrong with that, we need the moisture.

in general, i object to feeding the birds; particularly in the summertime when there should be plenty of food about. i have a particular prejudice against the common sparrow, the first bird species to move into the neighborhood when we built our thirty odd years ago.

over the years more and different species have come around. i remember our excitement the first spring we saw robin red breast come to call.

my wife (being a buckeye by birth) just about came unglued when she saw the first cardinal flitting about the yard in the spring/summer of '10. this past summmer she watched as juvenile cardinals grew into adulthood.

this morning, with snow on the ground and snow still falling at times, watching the variety of birds gathering for some free seeds and suet at the feeders, (including a beautiful, bright red cardinal btw) my objection to feeding the birds makes little sense.

i can hear them as they feed "chirp, chirp". loosely translated they're saying "thanks, ohio buckeye lady, many thanks".

Monday, November 14, 2011

the spectacle...


Every time I think of Halloween Night 2011 I find myself misting up.  To say I'm extremely proud of our middle son and his Halloween goings on would be a profound understatement.

That merry band otherwise known as the Krewe du Coeur Maudit staged their 5th annual Halloween event, this year a true parade, down Riverside to Congress and over to 6th Street ending the march on arrival at sponsoring clubs Elysium and Red 7.
                                    (photo by Jerry Howard)
Each year this event has grown bigger, each year better.  This years edition in moving into the streets to be seen as a fully fledged parade-- the "Circus of the 7 Dawns" was nothing short of spectacle.  The expansion of the zombie drum line into the "Dead Music Capitol Band" and the addition of the fantastic brass groups-- "Best, Best, Best Friends" and "Major Mayhem" upped the ante, topping the sum of the four previous marches by a wide margin. 

one word--fantastical-- might best describe the night! The giant puppets "Gertie",  a wraith "giraffelant" and the smoke breathing "skelerex", a fortune tellers booth, Franken-Berry, a menagerie of ghouls and goblins paraded along, stepping in time with the music of the bands, handing out doubloons commemorating the occasion. There was an amazing big top, a clutch of clown-bats all aflutter, a ghoulish group of marching girls with batons atwirl and flags afurl, the mesmerizing flickering of colored balloons, show girls with skirts aswishing and bringing up the rear a sight was seen that will be remembered long-- "Pennywise" the clown-clown and his accoutrement of scary clown propellers.  And as the cherry on this very delicious Halloween treat, high atop "Pennywise", complete with ginormous foam cowboy hat, the clown wrangler-- Ely.

So it seems that Krewe DCM has hit it out of the park again this year.  What will the amazing minds of Cap DCM and Ben the Wonder Welder conjure up for 2012?  I can't say but it's sure to be another, extra special, Halloween treat aimed at entertaining the masses and doing it's part in keeping Austin weird. 

I can't wait.

p.s. more pictures and video can be viewed from


Friday, September 16, 2011

annual night of frights...

as the days ease their way through september, my anticipation for the "Circus of the 7 Dawns" grows exponentially in its keenness.   Halloween night 2011 draws near.

in each of the past four years, a different, themed, halloween march has been staged along congress avenue and 6th street, austin,tx.; with its credo "keep austin weird"  big a town is never without spectacle of one stripe or another. halloween night in austin has to be seen to be believed. 

the usual austin fright night weirdness has been taken to a whole 'nother level with the goings on of the Krewe de Couer Maudit.  moving from the sidewalks into the streets of Austin in 2011, this years themed march is "Circus of the 7 Dawns".  members of the krewe and special guests are being encouraged to let their imaginations run long in finding circus, or carnival themed, costumes with an eye toward the weird, the macabre if you will.


from the site (and the fertile mind of Chris McMillan) --

"It has been said that every few years, once Autumn arrives, when days are still warm but the wind blows cool at night... if you turn your face to that chill breeze, take a deep breath and listen closely, you might hear the sounds of a far off carnival.  The cries of long dead beasts from exotic lands, the fleeting smell of sawdust, the snap of canvas on rigging... they come on the late October wind and anyone both wise and wary knows the Circus of the 7 Dawns will soon roll into town.  When the new moon dawns seven days from the end of October, from 7 dusks to 7 dawns, the spectre grows stronger.  On the eve of Hallowmas, the apparition is finally visible and anyone brave enough to attend is amazed by the sights and sounds of the only circus of its kind in the world.  From the Brass Orchestras, the Human Marvels, the Illusionists, the Travelers and Fortune Tellers, the Coterie of Clowns...  all are there to perform one last time, reminding us all to enjoy life's wonders while we still can. At sunrise the Circus of the 7 Dawns disappears... leaving behind only the myth and mystery that brought them in with the Autumn wind."

If I've piqued your curiosity even a bit, you can check out some amateur video of past years marches at  , listen to songs for  this year's march at or make a donation to the cause at  (look to the tope of your screen for a link to these sites, when you left click on an address)


Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years ago today...


America and the world pause today to remember the events of a decade ago.  today's agn has multiple articles from local folk with a more direct connection to the horrors of that day.  i have no personal connection with anyone who died, or who lost loved ones on that awful day.  still i am in tears watching, hearing those left behind as they recount their loss and share memories of that day and the days and years since.

safely ensconced in the anonymity of little a town, i watched in horror as the events of that day continued to unfold.  i am grateful for the relative isolation of small town America and the relative safety that comes with it.  certainly there are targets of potential interest to terrorists here.  yet being ensconced in the heart of this great land, the isolation inherent to our location remains a buffer against an attack here.

after 9-11-2001 there was an upsurge in patriotism.  i expect that will be the case after today. the light at the base of the flagpole here at 7420 burned out weeks ago. old glory has not been flown here in the interim.  watching coverage this morning moved me to raise the flag again, to replace that bulb in order that come dusk our flag can continue to fly, in memory of 9-11 heroes, and in honor of the men and women here at home and abroad who serve to keep this great country safe from those who would do us harm.

it is important to hold on to the feeling we had on that awful day ten years ago. we must never forget the images etched into a collective psyche.  the past years must not lull us into a false sense of the security.  the big bad wolf is there-- planning, conniving, busily plotting the next move.  hate is the fuel terrorists will use in their search for a way to hurt our nation, to strike another blow against all the United States of America stands for. 

pray for those whose job it is to find these terrorist schemes, for those who man the guard towers of freedom around the world. pray for the US of A.  Pray for us all.        aio                                                                                           


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

what is that i hear, dear...


in the spring, the wife hung humming bird feeders in the back yard in hopes of attracting the little fliers. day in, day out, week in and week out she watched; she changed the "nectar" faithfully but to no avail.  as spring gave way to summer she gave up. it's hard to give up on hope.

this morning as i looked at the back door, what to my wondering eyes did appear?  a hummingbird!  attracted by one of the wife's colorful geegaws hanging in the tree, a humming bird, barely the size of my thumb flitted here and there, landing at last in the safety of the tree.  of course, by the time the wife gets off the phone the bird was gone.

perhaps this signals the hummingbird migration to the south.  perhaps, if the wife hangs the feeder again, her efforts will be rewarded this time.  i hope so, that little flier sure was cute. aio  she should be so lucky!

Monday, August 29, 2011

some day, the rains goinna come...

as i went to bed last night, i could hear that it was still sprinkling a bit as noted by the slow pit-a-pat on the skylights.  a check of the rain gauge this morning showed 1/4 inch of rain collected there.

the flooding caused by that bad girl, irene, is in the news today.  people by the 100's of thousands are without electricity this morning and are likely to be for days yet to come. it will be weeks or even years before some semblance of normalcy can be restored to the region reeling from irene's wrath.

today marks the sixth anniversary of another bad girl, one named katrina. she treated new orleans, la. and the surrounding region with the same disrespect, dealt the same miseries the people in irene's wake are feeling this morning. 

six years later, the big easy is regaining some of it's old rhythms.  the wife, just returned from there, reports "everything" is under construction. streets, buildings, a way of life is still under repair all these years later. and so it will be with the carolinas and the states of new england.  misery dealt so swiftly takes time to mend.

our hearts go out to the families who've lost loved ones in irene's wake. our prayers are with a region who's job ahead is to regain what katrina's victims are still working on--six years later. god be with you all. aio


Sunday, August 28, 2011

the perfect evening....

my second favorite pro football team on sunday night football (aka the New Orleans Saints), Texas raised tenderloin and corn on the cob from the grill, gulf of wal-mart shrimps sauteed in fresh garlic and butter, ore-ida sweet potato fries from the oven sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, nutmeg and a dash of ground red pepper, a big glass of Vintner's Selection Signature White from LLANO and the love of my life by my side adds up to a perfect little a by sunset evening. 

Now if the rain indicated on radar will just hold together long enough to grace 7420, all will be right with the world. (that would be the vino talking) aio

Friday, August 12, 2011

the jinx is on...

we started the day with a 40% chance of rain across the region, which in my mind virtually guarantees we won't get a drop here at 7420.  the skies were completely devoid of clouds until mid afternoon. 40%, yeah, right! 
as i was leaving work at 7, heavy blue clouds adorned the sky to the northwest. when i got home, a quick check of the radar showed a solid line of thunderstorms from one side of the panhandle to the other, headed south.  well, solid if you don't take into account the big gap in the line that would pass over the bulk of little a-town.  it brought to mind an old bob dylan/stealers wheel song "rainin' to the left of me, rainin' to the right, here i am, stuck in the middle with none."   yet again. (apologies to the artists) aio  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

what is that falling from the sky???


i would imagine every single citizen in little a-town was grinning from ear to ear this morning when, after a tremendous clap of thunder, the skies opened up and heavy rain began to pour from the recalcitrant clouds.  at least, i know my smile was so big my face began to hurt after a bit.  the rain didn't last nearly long enough, there was less than 1/4 inch in my rain gauge when i got home tonight.  but maybe, just maybe, the jinx is broken.  one can hope.  the possibility of rain is in the forecast for the next few days.  in the midst of this record breaking drought, one can't ask for more than that, i reckon.  pray for rain folks.  thanks!  aio   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

snake bit...


i'm beginning to think i've been snake bit.  poisoned. storm after storm has come close but as yet-- no joy.

i thought it was going to happen for sure this afternoon.  radar indicated a significant storm barreling straight down I-40 from the west, taking dead aim as it seemed for little a-town and more importantly 7420. how could it miss, i was asking myself. but it did, sliding just to the north at the last minute, raining barely enough to partially wet the sidewalk, here.

"doppler" dave has a chance of rain in the forecast every day for the next 6-7 days.  if i get nothing at 7420 out of all those chances i'll know it to be true-- i'm snake bit for sure. pray for rain, ya'll, pray for rain and i'll thank you very much. aio                                                                                                                                                     

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Texas", the musical...

the wife and i went to visit some old friends last night.  it's been a few years since we've spent time with Calvin Armstrong and Elsie McLean, Uncle Henry and Aunt Anna McLean, Tucker Yelldell and Kate Lucas and Parmalee Flynn, Dave Newverry and the talented cast and crew of the musical, "Texas". the "story" relates the trials of settling this vast and empty land.  it is a tale of sacrifice, of a vision for what could be and the hard working men and strong women who persevered to overcome the obstacles the harsh and uncompromising land presented and the roadblocks stubborn, headstrong characters placed in the way of the realization of those dreams.

locals seldom visit the play, which is staged in the magnificence of the palo duro canyon, unless visitors from out of town come 'round during the summer months.  "Texas" is always a good bet to fill a pleasant evening when comapny comes to call.  with the canyon as a backdrop, taking in the play can be a fun, awe inspring way to make their visit a-one.

we've not had anyone passing through for some years.  the kids are scattered to the winds.  with a burn ban on across the state we thought we'd check out the new "water show" put in place of the traditional fireworks display staged at the end of each performance.  i'm a sucker for fireworks but the new addition was pretty cool, featuring red, white and blue colored water jetting high into the panhandle night.  the six flags of Texas raced from left to right, held high by mounted horsemen. A rider brought Old Glory onstage, the cast and audience sang "America the Beautiful".  Not fireworks, but still a nice way to finsih off the evening.

whether it's you first time, or you've seen "Texas" before, folks let me tell you, a visit with this cast of characters is like connecting with good friends you've not seen in years. it's comfortable, easy, picking up again like it was only esterday.  there has been changes in the staging since we last saw the play; back then, they had added real flames to the "fire dance" scene.  this year they've taken that idea a step further, adding a stunt actor engulfed in real fire. Yikes!!

to start the evening, we chose to partake of the steak dinner catered by the Big Texan Steak Ranch.  It was not a great meal, although i have to give credit to the BTSR, or the production staff, for serving watermelon and grapes on the salad bar. what a sneaky, but delicious, way to get a bit of extra hydration into their guests, particularly in light of the 90+ temp at show time. Still my preference would have been  to have a pre-show dinner from yesteryear i.e. some of that great Sutphen's barbecued beef, potato salad and Sutphen's signature coleslaw, with cobbler for dessert.  Now that was some good eatin'.

speaking of connecting with old friends, we got to visit for a few minutes with Vince Hernandez, now executive director of the texas panhandle heritage foundation and we visited a bit with Shelley Cunningham after the show.  we had a ton of fun playing with them both in shows at the amarillo college summer arts festival lo so many years ago.  if only we'd had more time with them to catch up. 

in all, it was a good eveing.  the threat of rain remained at bay making way for the storm staged with "lightning" against the canyon walls and the symphony of a real thunderstorm recorded right there in the canyon.  the lightning strike splitting the tree at the end of the first act remains a highlight.

it was not the same show we've seen in the past, but like a new bride in taking something borrowed and something new, when the two are combined it makes for a grand night in the palo duro under a panhandle sky so starry you could almost reach out and scoop up a hatful.  aio

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

20% chance of showers...

each day that goes by without rain, the collective spirit of our drought stricken state sags a little lower.  last night and today the local weather gurus were touting a 20% chance of some rain this afternoon and into the evening hours..  it's been so long, i've become afraid to even hope.

still a dry land cotton farmer at heart, i keep an eye to the sky most days, watching the cumuli forming and fizzling into nothing.  at noon today there was not a cloud in the sky but as the day went on the cumuli appeared, growing larger and grayer, as they built a faint ray of maybe grew with them.  as i was finishing up the yard work just now, while shedding my sweat soaked work clothes i heard the rumbling voice of an old friend. it was thunder, back again with the graying cumuli, tantalizing, teasing as has been too often the case this summer.

the first thing i did, once i got back in the house, was check the radar. sure enough there are a few little pockets of activity developing to the west and moving this direction.  nothing to shout about yet but still, the maybe could build into rain, at least for some folks.

whether or not the cumuli will favor 7420 remains to be seen. after all the flip side of a 20% chance of rain is an 80% chance that it won't happen here.  still, i have hope, thin at best, but hope.  aio

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

one lucky bird...

                                                                                                                                         one may have the tendency to forget that the kitty curling itself around your feet, head butting you for attention and coughing up hair balls onto your freshly cleaned carpet was a wild animal back in the day. okay, "the day" was quite a long time ago but the instincts that allowed survival then are still around, deeply dormant maybe, but still there.from time to time we get a reminder that sweet little lucy is a huntress at heart.

we had a bit of drama around 7420 this morning as sweet miss lucy, and her sidekick ellwood, captured and brought into the house a half grown starling. it could have been a scene from the wild kingdom tv series-- the huntress capturing her prey, the pray managing to escape unleashing another wild melee aimed at capture again.

the starling, desperate to escape, flew to the light of the window, lucy racing low to the ground, anxious to capture the bird again. fortunately, for the bird anyway, i was able to beat lucy to the punch.  the bird, mostly unscathed except for the horrendous scare it received, lay calmly in my hands.  i could feel its heart beating like a trip hammer., it's  mouth was open, gasping for air.  i took the bird outside, held it high, loosened my grip and watched it fly away to live another day.  lucy meantime is prowling room to room in search of the elusive bird, mewling from time to time "where are you my pretty. i won't hurt you. i promise".

yeah, right! aio  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

and the heat goes on....

another week of dry heat.  another week of watching anemic systems carrying scant rain slide by, passing through from every imaginable direction.  one system, loosely associated with tropical storm don, passed by to the south but moving from east to west.  i found that odd. it has to be extremely rare.  most systems come through from SW to NE or NW to SE.  a few, like the storm that dropped softball sized hail on the city a few years back, traveled from NE to SW. 

watching the radar this afternoon i see a few showers trying to form; the problem is they are building to the north of the city and moving away to the north.  another near miss in the making.

no drought lasts forever.  the dry spell starting in 1953 lasted only three years, until 1956.  i'm hoping this one is not of a like mind.

despite my skeptic heart, it will rain again and (borrowing a line from JMB's article in today's AGN) when it does "i'll raise my walker in celebration. 

i'm praying for rain.  if you pray too, maybe the rains gods will stand and deliver. aio  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

even the cacti are wilting...

skimming the agn sunday edition, i came across yet another a piece commenting on the extreme heat and dirth of moisture across the great state of texas.  while  it will certainly become the worst drought on record if things don't change, the drought is not singling texas out in particular as a big part of our great nation is suffering the wrath of extreme heat and dryness.

the article noted that "on average, there has been less than six inches of moisture across the state through june."  the good folks of the panhandle wish it were otherwise but the region is a major contributor toward that low number.  rainfall/moisture of any kind has yet to come even close to the 2 inch mark for most folks around little a town.  Welp, you have to discard silverton as an anomaly in that average as a recent storm dropped 10+ inches there in one day. go figure!

i was around during the years 1953-56 when the record for least rainfall was set.  however, not having reached my 10th birthday those days aren't exactly etched into my memory banks.  but i'll bet you a dollar against a hole in a doughnut this year will be with me for the remainder of my days. 

ya'll pray for rain!  aio   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

phoenix sandstorms...

all the fuss in the news of late re: the dustups/sandstorms in the phoenix area have me thinking, really?  is that the best you can do?  and who knew sandstorms have a name--  haboob?  haboob is apparently what they call a sandstorm over there in the arabic part of the world.  why, we need to call a good old american sandstorm by that moniker, beats me.
"haboob" ransom canyon, texas
the good folks of arizona should check out spring time in lubbock, lynn, dawson and the surrounding counties on the south plains of texas. the folks around there know sandstorms.  kaboobs, not so much.  aio

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


it's been more than a host of yesterdays since i last sat on the metal seat of my dad's old john deere.  afternoons like this one take me back to that time.  mowing my lawn in the heat of the day is not the smartest thing to do but i have just enough of the farmer mentality left in me that's when i choose to do it, as often as not.


as in those days, today the sky was dotted with popcorn clouds. cumulus to be more precise, or the cumuli as i've taken to calling them most recently.  out and back and out again, the rows are a lot shorter doing the yard, still i found myself hoping the sun was up for a game of hide and seek.

i think my new mower could take that old deere in a quarter mile, that is if i could keep up with the craftsman for that distance without a stop.  full throttle, it runs almost too fast to walk behind it but not fast enough to make me break into a jog.

today, as in those days, the sun did it's best to wring  from me my last drop of sweat.  before i left for the field i'd fill a gallon jug with water.  my mama had carefully fitted several layers of cloth to the outside which was wetted through. the idea being evaporation, and carefully moving the jug into any available shade at the completion of each round, would keep the water "cool".   by quittin" time, the cloth was mostly dry, the jug was close to empty, the water tepid at best.   what i wouldn't have given for and "igloo", if there was even such an animal in those days. 

but you go with what you know.   necessity may be the mother of invention but my being here today gives testament to reality.  a cloth wrapped gallon jug can keep a dry land farmers kid from turning into a sun dried prune.  thanks mom, if i forgot to tell you back in the old days, many thanks. aio

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the end... at last.

if you believe there's something unnatural about a middle 60's aged man being a huge fan of the harry potter phenomenon, read no further.

the problem, if you can call it that, is that harry, hermione and ron came along too late in my life.  too late, that is, to blame my fascination with harry and the gang on humoring my kids.  by the time the series came along, my kids were well on their way to adulthood.  without that excuse, my excuse is, i have none.  but with the reading of the harry p and the sorcerer's stone, i was hooked.  i've marked the years with keen anticipation of the next book. and so it was with the movies. 

the sorcerer's stone, the chamber of secrets, the prisoner of azkaban, the goblet of fire, the order of the phoenix and the goblet of fire-- all great movies.  but, the deathly hallows part 1 left an awful taste in my mouth; thus it was with anxious anticpation i've waited for the release of dh part 2. 

we saw it today, in imax real-d 3d.  in a word, WOW!  the movie was at once, funny, touching and in all, extremely satisfying.  an awesome finish to a great run.

hp's fandom adopted this cast of characters as their own, watching them grow from neophyte wizards, watching with excitement as with each new edition the young wizards become more a force to be reckoned with, and in the end formidable wizards each in their own right.  the fans have soldiered alongside harry and his band through every trial and triumph, rooting hard for good and even harder against the evil voldemort and his vile minions.

the journey that is harry potter is complete for me, but it has not reached it's end. it is not over.   the books, the movies are there waiting for generations yet unborn to buy a ticket on the hogwart express, to be swept up and away into the fantastical world of magic and wizardry, into the amazing world of harry potter. what a ride it was.  what a ride it will be, again and again!  aio  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

and the heat goes on...

so the empty promise of the cumuli earlier in the week has come to the same dead end.  another week of triple digit temps continues to bake this part of a thirsty earth beyond redemption.

the city fathers have implemented a voluntary water rationing programme asking that the good citizens of little a town refrain from watering lawns more that 20 minutes, twice weekly.  the fathers are unaware of my re-sodding the front and side yards last fall leaving my front lawn less than fully mature and that, even with watering more frequently than proscribed, the lawn has been a study deepening shades of brown.

still, wanting to do my bit for the good of all, i dialed the sprinkler control back to three times a week.  or so i thought.  as the browning accelerated over these last hotter than hell days, i became increasingly alarmed.

checking the system last night i found i had somehow dialed the controller back to zero.  instead of being set to water thrice weekly, it wasn't set to water at all! days have passed without watering!   thank you city fathers.  between the two of us we've managed to put my poor lawn in critical condition.  even if i drained the ogallala, i'm afraid my lawn is so far gone the sum total of that aquifer's magic potion would fail to bring it back from the brink.  should i be watering to make up for lost time?  or should i just let it die and save all that water for the city fathers to use on their already/still lush green carpets?

damn, we need rain, and soon.  aio

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

accumulating cumulus...


it seems i've spent a good part of my life hoping for rain. many summer days in my youth were spent walking the rows of cotton with a hoe in hand, or riding that old john deere out and back and repeat. on days like today i'd have an eye to the sky.  dry land cotton farming is a make or break situation completely dependent on the rains.

if you looked outside today you'd see a good many cumulus clouds-- puffy and white with a tinge of blue at the edges.  they remind me of my cloud watching on those summer days long ago, their presence a tease-- of possibility, of hope for building into something more substantial.  puffy and white, not a chance of rain but with a tinge of blue deepening to a solid gray, came a better chance.  if, and only if it started to rain, or with the threat of thunder and lightening, did i get to knock off early, throwing that old deere into road gear, hoping to outrace the coming storm to the house.

the panhandle, even with recent rainfalls, remains it's driest since the 1950's.  and so on days like today i take up again the habit of my youth.  i watch the clouds, hoping for cumulus, praying that this round is something more than pretenders; that these will build, climbing high, becoming heavy and too weary to hold their treasure any longer, losing their grip, spilling rain onto a thirsty and grateful land below.  maybe today will be the day. i certainly hope so. if not today, perhaps tomorrow. i'll be keeping an eye to the sky, just in case.   aio

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the fourth of july, laser style....


with the area drier than a powder keg and with the ban on sales, or use, of fireworks it was with keen anticipation that i gathered with some 5000 of my closest friends awaiting the 57th annual amarillo globe news fourth of july celebration. in past years a fireworks show has been choreographed with a "canned" musical program.  a welcome wrinkle for this year's celebration was the addition of the amarillo symphony orchestra (resurrecting a very popular program with a labor day fireworks display sponsored by cellular one) playing a pre-program of familiar tunes and a patriotic program to accompany the choreographed laser show.

recipe for an all-american fourth.  let's run it down.

beautiful weather, hot with a gentle breeze and no chance of rain. check
fire department honor guard posting the flags (nice touch). check 
the symphony playing the star spangle banner, conducted by agn man of the year and symphony icon, eddie melin. check.
hot dogs, hamburgers and apple or cherry pie. check
keen anticipation of sunset. check
symphony ably playing a patriotic program conducted by maestro kimbo. check
breathtaking fireworks display. (maybe next year)
laser program to accompany music. check
a good time had by one and all. check


when one thinks of the fourth of july, a traditional fireworks display likely comes to mind. still, i applaud the globe news for wisely going a different direction for this year's celebration.  was the laser show as exciting as a fireworks display would have been? perhaps not, but it did provide a spark that in the end carried the day. aio

Monday, July 4, 2011

happy birthday america...

as we mark the 235th birthday of what has become a beacon to the world, let us take this time to celebrate the men and women serving at home and abroad, each sacrificing the comforts of hearth and home in order that we all may enjoy them.


to all those who serve-- army, navy, air force, marines, national guard, coast guard and first responders on this 4th of july, 2011.  Thank you! aio

Sunday, July 3, 2011

my new favorite word...

i've always loved the smell of rain.  folks who live in climes that are not subject to the ravages of drought may not have ever been privileged to the smell of rain after a long dry spell.  until tonight i didn't know there is an actual word for it.  that word is petrichor-- defined as the smell of rain on the earth after a long dry spell.  a good number of us here in the ultra dry panhandle were treated to that most delicious smell tonight as a wide band of rain moved in from the north at a snail's pace. watching the front approach on radar it seemed that it might not ever reach 7420 but at last it did and with it that wonderful smell, absent for so long, but instantly recognizable and a reward in itself.

the good thing about this system is that it wasn't a ferocious downpour like we sometimes see, but more of a steady, slow moving soaker. on radar it appears that the system is just about past us as it moves on down the way, sharing it's blessings as it goes. 

standing in the dark living room, the tinkling on the skylights tell me it is still sprinkling just a bit.  sprinkle or downpour, when it's as dry as it's been, we'll take any rain we can get.  if it rains so much i never smell petrichor again, i would miss it but i guess that would be alright too. aio 

Friday, July 1, 2011

three eared wind rabbits...


wind, the movement of the atmosphere, steered by forces unseen has been a part of my life since my first memories.  growing up in the middle of the dry land cotton patch, in springtime, the force of the wind picked up the sand turning the sun a reddish brown.

having lived square in the middle of the panhandle for the past forty years the wind is as omnipresent as in my youth, a bit less visible perhaps as the soil up this way is tighter, more clay than sand.  on a particularly windy day around here i've been heard to remark, "it's a great day to not be in the hub city". on any windy day in the panhandle there might be dust in the air and on the horizon but further south a windy spring day can be equal to a sand blaster.  legend has it that a persnickety friend of mind, whose travels often take him through my home town and down into the oil patch, has more than once had to have one side of his car re-painted after suffering the effects of pushing the speed limit compounded by a brisk spring time "sand storm".

with the advent of alternative power sources, in particular wind generators, i've developed a keen interest in the possibility of earning untold fortune by allowing wind turbines to grace the family acreage in lynn county.

with that in mind, on my trips to big a town i've paid keen attention to the proliferation of the "three eared wind rabbits".  from post and on down to sweetwater each trip i've witnessed the turbines are apparently as fertile as the bunnies.  spreading as fast as a panhandle wildfire, the increase in their numbers is stunning as is the construction of the heavy duty transmission lines to carry the electricity that is the result of these lazy spinners.


i've commented before that many of the "wind rabbits" are located in the middle of cotton fields and not on the edge of mesas as one might think is necessary.  thus the cause of my excitement.  we have a cotton field.  i have 18 years of anecdotal proof that the wind is ever present across it's acres.  the only snag that i can see is that there is not an accessible transmission line in sight of those acres (not yet ) but with the way the "three eared wind rabbits" are breeding, i'm hoping it won't be too long before there is. ya'll hope with me please, please and pretty please.  i'm not too good to beg!  aio

Thursday, June 30, 2011

music to my ears...

Is it the lure, the mystique, the "live music capitol of the world" rep?  Just what is it about Austin that draws untold numbers of aspiring musicians?  For how many does the dream come to fruition? How long in the  trenches, playing small clubs and to scant audiences before the dream begins to fade? How long before hope dims and being in the scene becomes all there is?

Some might tell you this naysayer can't tell shit from Shinola and they'd probably be right in most cases, but I do know what I like.  This past weekend I had occasion to hear the Coffee Sergeants.  Even to this unpracticed ear it is obvious this group has the "it factor" in spades.

As I'd not heard the Coffee Sergeants play before I was curious enough to do a bit of digging. (okay I went to their web page  It seems this group of accomplished musicians and songwriters has been hanging around the Austin scene "for decades.". The Sergeants have released a goodly number of albums, have regularly scheduled gigs and so on; it makes one wonder how it is the Sergeants have failed to make it onto the larger world stage.  They've been favorably compared to Bevis Frond, the Green Pajamas, and Ghost (all of whom I also had not heard of before reading tCS's reviews but all of whom have apparently gone on to play before larger audiences outside Austin) yet the Sergeants remain largely a local wonder.

Something I read in one review may have hit upon why they have not gone on to wider renown.  They don't tour!  Eureka!  Those singular words, "don't tour" may be the very reason many extremely talented and entertaining bands simply die on the vine. 

Most every musician in Austin has a day job, or two, or three which they endure to support their aspiration to play live music.  It  can cost a butt load of money to tour but even if the money to tour was there, most employers-- even in the "live music capitol of the world", are likely reluctant to let an employee take off for months on end in order to tour the country trying to earn a larger following.

In the case of the Coffee Sergeants, the rest of the world's loss is Austin's gain.  If, like me, you enjoy hearing talented musicians meshing like they've played together for decades (and they have), singing interesting lyrics crisply so that even the hearing challenged can understand the story their telling (and they do), the Coffee Sergeants should be on a bucket list of groups to hear before the final curtain call (theirs or yours).  You can find them at the Carousel Lounge in Austin the first Tuesday of every month from 7:00-9:00 or at the Whip-in the second Friday of every month from 8:00-10:00.  For other play dates check their web page.

The above bit is brought to you in the name of the Krewe de Coeur Maudit (but without their fore-knowledge or approval, so don't blame them).  Check them out at  aio  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

halloween 2011...

one reason for leaving little a town for big a town was to get to some cooler temps, but the main reason was to support c.'s fundraising efforts for the 5th annual                 krewe de couer maudit halloween parade (and to hear the devils play).
 it was a rawkin' good time at the red 7 club. 

those attending were treated to sets from the coffee sergeants, twin prisons and
the town hall devils. there was some great food provided by friends of the krewe, happy hour pricing at the bar-- what's not to love.

if you happen to be in our capitol city on halloween night 2011 you should take in the krewe dcm parade.  for more information check out the krewe  at--                or or

there are more pictures of the event on facebook--  like this one.  for a better idea of the fun had by one and all go to the krewe's facebook page.  see you on halloween, the march is a funtastic time. aio

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

oh, my goodness...


we ducked out of town late friday night with the thought that we wouldn't have to spend the better part of saturday driving down to big a town to see c. and c. and the animals. still it was about 2 p.m.  when we pulled up at 1514 cattle trail. 

in a post last year i commented on our grand state being green from top to bottom and east to west.  fast forward to 2011.  as brown and sere as it has been 'round these parts i expected to see a sea of tinder dryness from here all the way to there. 

conditions have been dry all over the state but about as soon as we dropped off the caprock, at Post, things started greening up some; the further south we got, the better things looked.  the hill country south of Goldwaithe was mighty close to pleasing to the eyes.  in point of fact, c. related that big a town had received 21/2 inches from one system that moved through there recently.  life, and the fickle weather, is just not fair.

in another post last year i opined as to how the key to getting rain around here was for us to leave town.  if i recall, the night before we got back from that trip there was generalized flooding as a system dropped 61/2 inches in a short time. 

we just pulled in the drive from making our way back to little a town.  as luck would have it, we got rain early this morning.  not a flood like last year, and for sure the drought is not broken, but we are grateful to have received .49 inches to bring the total for the year to 1.15.  winds were reported at 59 gusting to 70 mph with the system.  i believe it, the front yard is littered with limbs and leaves.

i'll be interested to see where channel 10's rain gauge shoot out stands after this latest addition to the totals. normal rainfall for june is 3.25 inches.  at 1.15 inches we are well behind the average for june, and so far from the average rainfall to date of 9.25 inches we may not see that much for the whole year.

i'll leave town every weekend from now on if that's what it takes to get some significant moisture in here.  whatever the sacrifice, i'm up for it.  aio  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

fading past...


picking up on the thread of monday's post at the monkey heart discourses, "not fade away", the monkey heart mentioned my growing up south of lubbock, tx-- the hometown of buddy holly.  buddy holly and the crickets were nowhere on my radar screen at the passing of my 10th birthday.  i'm not sure we even had a radio in those days. probably we did, but if so it would have been tuned in to a country station of my daddy's choosing.
somewhere into the 60's i got my first pocket transistor radio.  i remember trying to listen to it while i was riding tractor but the noise of that old poppin' johnny was too loud to make that very practical.

as i recall there was a single ear bud in those days. alkaline batteries were still 25 or 30 years away.  the fact that batteries in those days lost their charge quickly and money to buy them was scarce meant that the hours in the hot sun dragged on forever as the fireball crawled lazily across the sky.

such was the life of a dry land cotton farmer's kid.  as the days crept into august, this boy couldn't help but start wishing for the school year to begin.  there was always plenty of heat left as the days slipped into september.  windows in the classroom would be wide open in case some errant breeze decided to favor us with it's passing.  those classrooms were anything but cool, still the kids who'd spent their summer out in the fields were glad to be indoors.  as hot as it was inside, at least it was out of the blazing sun. 

ah, yes the good old days; or were they, really?  maybe not so much, take it from me. aio

Monday, June 20, 2011

say, what???...

i read with some interest each day a column by Dr. Gott re: medical questions.  often his piece is about alternative treatments for common maladies.  the topic for today was warts.  the first suggested solution for warts-- chalk.  for you younger ones who only know chalk in the form of colored sidewalk chalk, i'm referring to the white sticks of calcium carbonate teachers used to write on the board at the front of the classroom before the advent of dry erase boards and markers. dr. gott opined that the chalk acted as a drying agent, causing the wart to drop off after some time.

he went on to review some other "home remedy" type treatments for removing warts.  one method included involved mixing a small bit of "tang" (orange drink of the astronauts) with a bit of water, placing the "tang" poultice on the wart and covering it with a band-aid.

that seems a bit odd to me but my question is this.  how does one decide that using "tang" and a band-aid is going to be an ideal remedy for removing warts?  i admit to having less than a scientific mind. but still, "tang"?

i spent a good part of my youth growing up in the 50's.  modern medicine was still out there on the horizon.  i do remember my granny mac "mopping" my sore throat with a mixture of turpentine, coal-oil and grease.  whoever hatched up that nasty remedy was just a tad this side of demented.  yuck!  i think the idea might have been that i'd find the treatment so bad i'd stop whining about how much my throat hurt. 

back in the time my dad was coming up doctor's were few and folks were forced to come up with their own answers to vexing problems.  it was a process of trial and error i'm assuming.  here, let's try this.  well that didn't do any good, how about we do this, and on and on until some concoction seemed to ease the pain, redness, swelling-- whatever the complaint might be.

the human body is resilient and able to absorb tremendous insult.  grandma's throat mop or a "tang" poultice register barely a blip on the radar screen of healing.  still, what kind of mind conjures up "tang" and a band-aid as a remedy for warts.  maybe it's me who is lacking the vision for dreaming up such a novel approach to common problems like a sore throat or an unsightly wart.  maybe it's just me. aio

Sunday, June 19, 2011

remembering camp kowakani...

i somehow let myself be talked into serving as "camp nurse" starting with the second year my baby girl signed up for Camp Fire's "Camp Kowakani".  my first morning on the job was uneventful but as the temp climbed toward the 100's i racked my brain for an idea as to how i could get the campers to drink lots of water, thus staving off potential heat related problems.

the "brilliant" idea i hatched was this.  i'd re-word familiar songs with the theme being, "kids drink your water".  i don't recall what that first song was, but i do remember the boos from the campers when i was called to stage for the second.  and so it went for the rest of the camp, they would boo, i would "sing".  something must have clicked, we had no heat related issues to deal with.

fast forward to year two as camp nurse.  i about dropped my teeth when as i was called to the stage to be introduced. a  resounding chorus rang up from the campers... "song, song, song, song. and thus a tradition was born. i became part of what made "camp kowakani" a fun (and safe) experience.  i even went to camp for a couple of years after my daughter had lost interest in the camp fire experience.

comments after the latest posting at suggested i should sing some of those songs to share.  I even went as far as downloading a voice recording program onto my computer and "singing" my campy version of marty robbin's, "streets of laredo".  shall we say, i soon realized why the campers were booing.  there'll be no posting of my singing onto the world wide web to be available via the ethernet forever and ever, amen. no, thank your very much.

i will venture to share my bastardization of marty's famous tune and lyrics.

as i walked out on the streets of kow'kani
as i walked out in kow'kani today
i saw some young campers, they looked mighty thirsty
they looked mighty thirsty, their tongues like baked clay

i told those young campers that they should drink water
i told those young campers they looked awful dry
and most of those campers, they did as i'd asked them
they drank all their water and so weren't so dry...

on hot, dry and windy days like we're having here in the texas panhandle it's important to stay hydrated. remember this, if you wait until you're thirsty to start drinking, you've waited too long. hydrate early and hydrate all day long. water is the best-- even cacti need a drink now and then. don't make me torture you with another cheesy camp song.  aio    

Saturday, June 18, 2011

better than any old tie, father's day gift...

have you ever given any thought to whether any of the wisdoms you flung against the wall that is your child as it grows actually stuck or made any impression at all?  were they even listening to, much less retaining, your efforts at passing along the benefit of your experience?

at least in the case of my youngest, i think she was listening, at least part of the time. 

i received an early father's day present in the form of her latest posting on her blog.( ) her posting may well be the best pap's day gift ever. 

my take on child rearing has much to do with growing up the son of a hard drinking, dry land cotton farmer.  it was rare that i ever saw any hint of affection from him.  i don't recall ever hearing an "i love you son" from him, or from my mother, for that matter.  being raised in an affection vacuum can have a positive affect, even if the benefit is to the next generation.

the years of my youth were without the pleasantries my children enjoyed. they suffered the unfortunate circumstance of being born into a middle class family, to a dad who grew up in the meanest of situations.  given that happenstance their appeals for this, that or the other thing "all the other kids had" often fell on unsympathetic ears. there is a difference between "wants" and "needs", after all.  attempts to impress upon them how good they had it at 7420 were met with poorly concealed skepticism.

while they may not have been granted every wish, they did grow up in a home where affection-- hugs, kisses and "i love yous" were common.

i'm sure they all grew tired of hearing me harp on ad nauseum about how good they had it.  still, it appears my favorite daughter retained some of my tired truisms and she made the old man cry in the remembering of those good old days.

thank you, baby! XOXOXO. i love you. aio

Friday, June 17, 2011

the human brain, such a delicate flower...

the human being and all that is involved in making each of just that, human, is for most of us never given the slightest, most fleeting, even casual, thought.  we just are. no consideration given to the intricate and complicated blend of cosmic plasma that's involved in making each of us tick.  not a whit of worry given to-- are things are running as they should, until something goes amiss, that is.

consider for instance the human brain, the computer system of our being. it hums along without missing a beat until catastrophe happens. 

a motorcycle rider speeds along, not a care in the world, sans helmet-- the wind blowing through what's left of a now balding pate, not a care in the world-- that is until a car stops unexpectedly in front of the rider and without any other viable option the biker lays his machine down. bike and rider are propelled ahead at the speed of the bike, by forward momentum, into certain injury the result of which is most certainly an uncertain and possibly altered future.

it is not my intent to pick on bike riders.  it is their right to straddle that crotch rocket and without the protection of a car's exterior to carom along at, or above the speed limits innocently assuming home will see their return. sometimes fate has other plans. 

the human brain is such a delicate organ and even a minor bump can upset the apple cart resulting in a bleed into the brain; or, after 60 years of pork sausage every morning for breakfast that final smidgen of plaque seals off the pinhole of circulation remaining, resulting in an embolic stroke of potentially massive proportions.

brain injuries of any source are not something i'd wish on my worst enemy. in the blink of an eye what was a heartbeat beforehand a perfectly capable and functioning specimen from the top of the food chain, can in an instant be reduced to a mute, confused and slobbering wreck, left unable to eat or bathe unaided and without the ability to preclude pissing or shitting himself. catastrophe neglects no race, gender or socio-economic strata, dealing misery without discretion across the board.

it is human nature to live in a state of denial, denying to the very end that any  untoward thing will ever visit itself upon you.  take it from me, it can happen, and does to some unsuspecting soul with every tick of the clock, here, there and all around the world forever and ever, amen. bad things could be coming to a neighborhood called you at anytime and when you would least expect it. on that note, i'll climb off the soap box, at least for now.

ya'll be careful out there, ya' here me? aio   

Monday, June 13, 2011

oh baby, it's hot outside....

It was a balmy 99, panhandle of texas, degrees as i finished up jog-walking 4 miles at noon today.  As the day progressed into mid-afternoon, the temp topped out at a scorching 105.                                                             

All this heat and not a rain cloud, or an oasis for that matter, in sight.  the weather gurus bravely hang their hats on a 20% chance of rain in parts of the area.  kenemac translation = "it ain't gonna rain here today."

i paid the water bill today, which was knocking on the door of a c-note, and it's barely the middle of june.  yikes, something's gotta give, but it doesn't look like the sun is gonna be the one cryin' "uncle" any time soon. 
i'm almost afraid to get the electric bill, there's no telling how much it might be. whatever it is, i guess i'll pay the piper.  after all it was 105 out there today and the a/c is doing it's thing to keep it from being that hot inside. what ever the cost, it'll be a small price to pay. i do like me some cool. aio                                                                                                                                               


Sunday, June 12, 2011

a wider audience....

deluding myself is what i do best. birthing "pearls" of wisdom on whatever piques my interest sometimes seems a waste of my time and that of the handful of faithful readers of this space. nothing very deep or especially erudite will be found within these confines.

i suppose i'm carping about my limited readership; however any words you find here that perhaps bring a smile or causes one to pause a moment, to ponder, i hope are not a total waste.

the agn printed an appeal for opinions about banning the sale of fireworks this 4th of july holiday.  i submitted my last post, called "ban the bomb", for possible inclusion on the op ed page.

today's page included that piece as the lead opinion on the subject.  it saddens me somewhat to think that more people will likely read in one day those words, first posted here, than will have read all the words posted at kidsdonegone since it's inception. still, i can't help feeling just a little bit proud that the opinions page editor found those words worthy of inclusion.

a senior (aged) blogger has to take his victories as they come. aio

Sunday, June 5, 2011

ban the bomb...

five days into june, hot, dry and extremely windy continues to be the norm around these parts.  most every day is a "red flag" day and this far into the year, 2011 remains the driest since 1956.

with the heat, wind and multiple "wildfires" seen around here this year the "hot topic" in view of the current conditions, and the fast approaching 4th of july, is whether to ban the sale of fireworks.

it seems like a no-brainer to me. the area grasses are more than tinder dry and can burst into flame at the smallest spark; whipped by the pugnacious panhandle winds, that hint of a spark can be fanned into a massive wildfire, racing ahead of the wind, leaving fear, danger and destruction in it's path .


tens of thousands of acres have burned, scores of homes and other properties have been consumed.  firefighters have lost their lives.

banning the sale of fireworks for this fourth of july is the right decision. failing to step up, to make that hard choice, would be irresponsible.  deciding authorities, do the right thing, for the good of all. aio                                                                

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

rain, rain, stay away...

a few of the regulars were gathered at the life center for our regular noon time "run" yesterday.   some were gathered around the tv's watching commentary on the devastation wrought in joplin, mo.  someone commented on how dry it is is this part of the world.  there's been just over 1/2 inch of moisture recorded at the weather station since the first of the year.  i agreed that we need rain, but was moved to opine "if an f-anything tornado is what it takes to get some rain here about, i think i'd just as soon stay dry."

with temps into the 90's and winds sustained at 30-40 and gusting higher the new sod we had rolled out last fall is looking a little worse for the wear. still i'll take that hit and anything else the dry weather wants to deal my way.

all these huge tornadoes, first in tuscaloosa, then joplin and last night in oklahoma, kansas and arkansas have me a tad bit antsy. we need rain, that's true, but if a tornado of any size is the price for getting it,  i say thanks-- but no thank you. 

i think i'll just take up cactus farming. aio                                                                                                                                            

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a little too sensitive, perhaps...

i received an e-mail from one of the guest artists at ASO's season finale, recently. she took exception to my comments re: her physical appearance that evening, going on to school me as to the timbre of Mahler 2, making note as to how lucky the ASO was to have procured the other guest artist for these last performances.

i went back and read again the piece titled, Resurrection.  granted the comments in question are a bit snarky but please, ma'am, it's not like i berated your instrument. perhaps you should choose your dress more carefully and maybe get a hair cut and style.  you looked nothing like your head shot that evening.

in her response, she made note of mahler 2 as being a somber piece and not appropriate to be wearing "over the top formals and bling."   i will cede that point, still one could dress to fit the mood of the piece without wearing something that looked like it might have been sewn from the sun faded sheers taken down when new drapes were hung. something like your co-guest artist was wearing perhaps.

i may be wrong about this and maybe i have a chip on my shoulder but in my mind certain artists and companies, consciously or not, have a tendency to "phone in" their performances, being of the mind that "amarillo is lucky to get" their services. that's bullshit.  whether performing in amarillo, or on broadway, the audience is your pay check and as such deserve a best effort, not some mealy mouthed excuse in the "amarillo, texas-- where the hell is that?" vein.

that's imho. aio

Friday, May 13, 2011

american idol, final four...

wednesday night i watched performances by american idol's final four 2011.  each of the four gave amazing performances.  i had no idea which of the four would be eliminated.

thursday night, one of the four learns if he/she get's the axe.  would it be lauren alaina, hailey rinehart, james drubin or scotty mccreery.  as the evening progressed first lauren and then hailey was announced as being safe and part of the final three.
that left scotty and james, one of the two would survive to sing another night.  for the other, the journey toward a dream come true would come to a gut wrenching, horribly disappointing end.  as the two stood, each with an arm across the other's shoulder, each hoping against hope that it would be he chosen to go on, each hoping against hope that he would not be the one leaving, i knew.

in the moments before the announcement i somehow knew it would be james going home.  james with the hard rock creds.  james who didn't have one bad performance in all his appearances. it would be him going home and i think i know why.  of the remaining four he is the only one without a smile flashing perfect teeth, his ears are "funny looking", he wears a dangly feather ear ring in the left ear and although not a bad looking guy, he is perhaps not the best looking guy this season. that said, believe this-- damn, that boy can sing.

the other three, with perfect teeth, perfect smiles, perfectly "good looks" got more votes.  whether that was a conscious or an unconscious decision on the part of the voters, i can't say.  i hope it's not the case but it appears to me to be a case of prettiness prejudice. james received fewer votes because he is less a looker than the other remaining three.

admittedly it's just a theory on my part.  i have faith that, though he did not win the 2011 american idol title, he will be offered a recording contract. randy, jennifer and or steven will see that he gets a deal.  i have to beleive that. 

that leaves my favorite for this season, scotty mccreery still in the hunt. go, scotty! aio