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