Saturday, April 19, 2014

Community Garden is a Sociable Plot

A first for River City
It's all good down at the Smith Street Community Garden, the first ever community garden here in River City. An idea long overdue, this town plot came into being right at the tail end of Stage Four water restrictions imposed because of the longest, driest drought in River City memory. Seems we had the space in which to grow; just no water to apply.

A test well was drilled last week. Sampling from the well shows the water to be safe for the community garden to use. With this final water hurdle cleared, plans for the plots are again moving toward opening the gardens to folks eager to put seeds in the ground.

The Paper this morning ran a pretty good piece on our community garden, "Gardens reinforce fabric of society." I would have liked it better had The Paper given credit for authorship where credit is deservedly due.

Perhaps I haven't been paying attention, but I find it somewhat sad that this Smith Street project seems to be one of River City's best kept secrets. The physical infrastructure for the garden plots have been in place since November of last year when the project was officially blessed and dedicated by all parties concerned.

Selling plots to actual patrons, however, remains on hold, last I heard, until a water distribution system to deliver water from the well head and from stored rain water to individual plots is worked out. If anyone else out there, Dear Readers, has heard differently, please let me know. I do appreciate it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Water We Thinking!?!

Read in The Post this morning how one of my favorite cities in America flushed an entire reservoir -- 38 million gallons -- of clean water because some kid peed in it. Is it just me, Dear Reader, or has the entire country gone bat crap crazy over water?

Peter Gleick, author of The Post piece Throwing Away Good Water seems to think so. "This incident shows, in many ways, why our relationship to, and understanding of, our water system needs to change."

Nowhere is that more true than right here in River City. After all, we are whom Americans are watching, because we will soon be drinking our own pee, right? Hell, the Big Boys from The Weather Channel are in town as I type documenting our delimmas.

About this widely held hysteria over "drinking potty water"; Get Over It! While we are up to our asses in alligators, the last thing we need is hysteria.

Fact is, folks the world over have been recycling and consuming so-called waste water daily ever since there have been folks. We can't help it; it's the nature of the system we call the water cycle.

If we had a decent education system -- one that works half as well as our water cycle -- everyone would know this basic science stuff. I used to introduce my primary students at River Bend Nature Center to the water cycle by asking a simple question: Did you know that you brushed your teeth with dinosaur pee this morning? First, it got their attention. Second, they quickly grasped how water works on their home planet.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Grandma's Lye Soap

Says here in The Paper this blessed drought we're enjoying is a boon to little boogers most of us would rather not think about. Yes, Dear Reader, we Texomans are facing flea and tick season.

When it comes to beating down little nasties like fleas and ticks, it's tough to know which is worse, the disease or the prescribed cure. Our man-made go-to chemical arsenal contains a plethora of toxic products specifically designed to target pests on pets, in the home and on the lawn. But do we really want to bombard our patch and our loved ones with a Cold War mentality of mutually assured destruction?

So, suppose I told you there is a simple solution to stemming the tide of pet pests that is totally non-toxic yet no less lethal. Would you buy it? What if I told you this solution has been used and proven effective for hundreds, if not thousands of years? Are you ready for it?

Grandma's lye soap!

I must insert a disclaimer here: IF you should decide to whip up a batch of lye soap in your kitchen, you will do well to read up on it more here. Lye is a highly alkaline, highly caustic compound that will eat the flesh from your fingers if you do not know what you are doing.

Bottom line is, you can control fleas and ticks on pets and around the house by following a few simple and basic practices. Regularly run the vacuum over the carpets, wash down pets and pet bedding with soap and water, keep your lawn clipped short.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ode to Old High

The Tired Hand

Postcard 1911

Aye, tear her brick and mortar down!
Long has she stood, Old High!
Many a voice has shouted proud
For black and red banners in the sky.
Her halls have sung with Coyote Pride,
Tears shed for fallen sons;
She’s nurtured her charges for 90 years.
Now, they say, her time is done?

Her walls have sheltered Faith City’s hope.
Her banners they held high.
Like loving arms, she welcomed all
And taught them how to fly.
But well worn tiles shall bear no more
The throng of student masses;
No longer shall her signal bells
Rush stragglers to their classes.

Oh, better that her brick so red
Should fall to the wrecker’s ball!
Let sons and daughters claim them then
To mark her final fall.
So cheer, you Coyotes, cheer!
Cheer with all your might!
Buildings in time must tumble down,
Yet Old High spirit goes not gentle into that good night.

So tear her brick and mortar down!
Long has she held us nigh.
We will not forget, no, never forget

Our beloved Wichita Falls High.

Don Cowan to 'Stay With Us'

"I talk to God but the sky is empty." Sylvia Plath

Take a kid raised Hardshell Baptist from birth. Give him a mind equipped for critical thinking, and plant within him a passion for reading. You either get one deeply conflicted and confused sociopath, or the kid finds folks who help him find his way along that lonesome valley.

One of those folks was a music man from Minnesota who rode the U.S. Air Force into River City, fell for a pretty dancer at the old YWCA, decided to stay and began teaching choral music to the first generation of Rock 'n' Rollers.

I am proud to say that Don Cowan remians a friend of mine going on 51 years.

We learned some months back that Mr. Cowan, 81, had been diagnosed with cancer. Multiple cancers, as it turned out, no doubt linked to that iconic pipe he had been sucking on ever since those early days at S.H. Rider High School.

Well, I tell you it wasn't so much that Don got cancer. Once word spread by social media and by word of mouth among The Legacy, it was more like we ALL came down with cancer. His challenge became our challenge. Like so many times before, we would rise as a family to this latest challenge, and together we would overcome it.

Prayers went up immediately and continue to this day. We were kept informed all along the way. First would come a series of chemotherapy treatments. This would be followed by radiation treatments, if necessary. Should that fail to clear out all the malignancies, the rest would be cut out. Not exactly a trip to the Magic Kingdom, but the prognosis for survival was good.

"Talk about being hit with a ton of bricks when my Dr. told me I had cancer," Don told me. 
Then he said 'Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.'

"That is exactly what I did. One test, one x-ray, one CT scan, one MRI, one chemo treatment at a time. I had family and friends who came by the fusion lab where I had my chemo, and they sat with me. The support, emails, cards, phone calls and letters have been so welcome and supportive. How could I not defeat this?"

Now, I've never been big on prayer, personally. Not that I'm above asking for help; it's just that I have my doubts anyone "Up There" is actually there, much less listening to our puny wants. To my mind, the Lord helps those who help themselves. That said....

Word came from Don last week that his cancer is gone. He had a session with his radiologist which included a CT scan. Nothing cancerous showed up anywhere in his body. A few chemo treatments; no radiation, no surgery, nothing more than several hundred former choral singers still considered his "kids" praying for their mentor and friend.

"Whatever you believe, I believe that those prayers and my knowing that I had the Lord's support, helped me beat this insidious disease," Don affirmed.

Good Lord willing and Holliday Creek don't rise, those of us who can will gather together one more time here in River City to celebrate Don's 82nd birthday June 21.

Thank you, Lord!