A Blank Screen…


beeStaring here at an empty screen
desperately searching for a theme
of something to interest my empty thoughts
something to write where their currently is nought
I really should be working outside
but the temperature is way to high
to spend time on just the trivial things
the important ones have already been seen
done early in the morning before it’s too hot
before the thermometer has climbed a lot
close to one hundred degrees in the sun
and the work outside has been done
Texas summers are a brutal thing
and go on forever or so it seems
and for those that spend their days outside
their work goes on just as decried
me, I am no longer in demand
retired from work just as I had planned.

Written 8/15/2018

Finally, Rain…


Rainy Day on the Coast

Rainy Day on the Coast

Finally, we got some rain here in my part of Texas. A little more than 2 inches of a steady downpour. Not enough to flood but a nice gentle rain that the hungry soil greedily soaked up with very little run off.

I walked around the garden the next day and was totally amazed at how quickly everything that a couple of days ago was really sorry looking and drooping like it was on its last legs, had recovered. Nature is so amazing and so resilient and it helps that I have all native plants in my garden. The reason for the rain was the most recent Tropical Storm named Gordon off the coast of Mississippi that managed to dump enough rain to make it a very welcome guest. Today the high temperature so far has only reached 92 with yesterday’s high the same. Maybe, just maybe we are all through with the 100 degree days of the past few weeks. So far this year, 2018, Austin has seen 49 days of 100 degree heat a long cry from 2011 when there were 90 days of it. Incidentally, this is the first year that I did not hook up the soaker hose system mainly to see what the end result would be without it. The only watering was to the plants in containers on the deck.

As you can imagine, not only is 100 degrees bloody hot, it is also very tiring and difficult to work outside especially for us older folks. Back in the day, when I was a lot younger, I worked Construction  when I first arrived in Texas and even though it was very hot, it didn’t bother me as much as it does now I am an old fart. I have spent these past few weeks indoors working on my blogs and a couple of other indoor projects and attending to the ponds early in the mornings. I have managed to put together a whole list of projects that I need to do and would normally have been done if not for the heat. These I will work on as soon as it cools to around 90 degrees and lower. Needless to say, I have not even thought about going hiking and as tough of an old bird that I am, even I would probably pass out in the heat.

These are the joys of living in the Lone Star State. At least we don’t get much of a winter which almost makes up for the heat.

Written 9/5/2018

Too Darn Hot…


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I looked at the weather forecast for my part of Texas in Austin just to see what the weather was going to be like for the following day. There appeared to be a lull in the almost incessant 100 degree temperatures with a  forecast high of only around 95 degrees. Well, I thought to myself, I can handle that and made plans to take a hike the following day.

I got up earlier than I normally do in the hope of getting to the park and enjoying an easy walk on one of the trails but unfortunately, something came up necessitating my attention and I did not arrive at the park until close to 11:30 am. I chose to walk at Reimers Ranch mainly because of the river and the hope for seeing some of the wildlife that abounds the area. On the way in, I noticed that the Park people had been doing some more of their controlled burns and many of the Live Oak tree canopy was brown and charred. I wondered if they will survive as the damage looked pretty extensive.

I parked the truck at the furthermost parking lot with the view of walking the Turkey Trail heading to the end of the Park and then coming back along the river past the rock climbing area. I stepped out of the truck and was hit by a wave of hot air as by now, the temperature was in the low 90’s. I walked around  the Parking Lot for a bit and then decided that it was way too hot to be out in this temperature and maybe I should put this off until tomorrow or another day.

The wuss in me won out and I jumped back into my truck (and the air conditioning) and found a shady spot to park and then proceeded to spend an hour listening to my latest Audiobook, The Outsider by Stephen King which I found much more enjoyable than sweating it out on the trail. I am definitely growing old if I pass the opportunity of a pleasant walk with my two cameras at the ready and choose to listen to an Audiobook instead notwithstanding the quality of the story which, by the way,  is excellent and hard to put down.

I decided to head home but to take an alternate and more scenic route back into Dripping Springs as I need to purchase fish food from the Tractor Supply Store located there. As I rounded one corner I saw what looked like some sort of a problem or maybe an accident up ahead and as I got closer, could see that one of the Telephone poles on the side of the road was broken and that the cable was hanging low across the road. I immediately pulled up, turned on my flashers and acted as a traffic cop as it was impossible to get through for about 30 minutes until the local Fire Department arrived to take over.

With my help no longer needed, I turned around and drove back the way I had come and took a different road into Dripping Springs and the feed store only to discover that they were out of fish food and to “Come back in a couple of days”. I drove the rest of the way home uneventfully.

Tomorrow, I plan on getting up early (for me) so that I can get that walk in.

Written 8/6/2018

Texas Summers…


AR-305199922

Another hot day in my part of the land
Austin in Texas the place in hand
another hot summer just like before
hotter than the last by a goodly score
one hundred degrees is sometimes the norm
and several days each summer is how it performs
to have consistent one hundred degree days
is not a bit unusual in so many ways
the most days with temperatures this high
was in Wichita, Texas I tell you no lie
when the number of days at 100 degrees
was 100 that the temperature reached
in Austin which is downstate aways
the record stands at 83 days
all of this was in 2011
since then its been like heaven
we have probably had ten days or more
of this temperature but who’s keeping score
all we know when we go outside
is it’s hot out there enough to be fried
but the Texans are a pretty tough bunch
it does not deter them and I have a hunch
that they need to prove to the rest of the land
that a little heat even though not planned
will keep them from doing anything outside
as they know it is normal and they do not hide
instead slap on the lotion and then wear a hat
drink lots of water and be grateful that
although in the summer it gets very hot
in my part of Texas winters are not
one day of snow and a little frost
and winter is over and nothing is lost
so give me the summers in Texas today
and you keep the winters, I prefer it this way.

Written 7/22/2018

This and That…


child_games_in_wonderful_soccer_dreams

I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018

 

Summertime


west_tx_summer_sky

Summer is here with all that it brings
as the temperature climbs as though it has wings
going higher and higher with each passing day
topping out around a hundred too hot to stay
outside in the heat for long and instead
stay where cool air blows overhead
keeping us cool the dogs and me
as we each do our thing quite comfortably
the dogs are quiet each with their spot
it must be nice to sleep such a lot
and its instant the minute their head hits the floor
except when I get up to go out the door
they are awake  and right by my feet
in case they miss something maybe a treat
I have learned here in Texas a long time ago
that the heat from the Sun will make your skin glow
and sunburn is the most painful thing
when all it takes is a hat and to cover the skin
with lotion especially made for the task
without it your life will surely not last
Texans are pretty tough more than most
we’re used to the heat is something they boast
as the summers are not for the faint of heart
as A/C and cool drinks each play their part
around the end of September it will start to cool down
by then the Sun will have parched the ground
unless we are lucky and had some rain
which sometimes happen when a hurricane
moves in from the sea and onto the shore
and we get rain lots of rain sometimes more
than we need as it floods the rivers and lakes
and then it is gone which is all it takes
to make things grow the following spring
as Natures design covers everything
it may be hot more hot than I like
but I would not change it for a cooler life
instead of the heat the frosts I can’t stand
and the snow and the ice which covers the land
in winter making six months obsolete
to me is far worse than the Texas heat.

Written 7/1/2018

 

Summer is Here


DSC_2304
Our bit of Spring has come and gone
with warmer weather and birds on a song
green leaves and wildflowers bursting forth
to show off their colors for all they are worth.

Too short a season is our Spring
and all too soon hot weather will bring
temperatures in the hundred degrees
enough to bring a man to his knees.

Yet we manage every year
to live with the heat and to appear
that it doesn’t really bother us
used to it all with little fuss.

We work outside or play our games
or take long hikes no thought remains
that inside is where we should really be
trying to feel cool in the A/C.

For being outside in the Summer heat
is not really an impossible feat
you just have to think ahead
a hat and sunblock and water instead.

Do I like one hundred degrees
compared to say a winter freeze
and I would really have to say
I’ll take the summer in Texas any day.

Written 5/27/2018