Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thoughts on Praying for Rain

Common sight around River City

THEY say rain is on the way. Ever wonder what folks in River City, your neighbors and mine, are doing behind all the Pray for Rain yard signs? Me, too. Walk with me ….

I’m sitting on some 100 gallons of collected rainwater, and that’s not saying much for a roof the size of ours. We could easily harvest five, six times that in one little thunder shower, given the storage capacity to handle it. Getting by on Social Security and two part-time pay checks, my catchment system is eight or ten 5-gal. cat litter tubs.

Where would we be without crazy cat ladies, praise the Lord.

[Crazy cat lady Annie waves]

Main storage is two 32-gal. “trash” cans, and I could use a couple more.

Don't get me wrong; I've nothing at all against prayer. But I was taught and brought up to ask the Good Lord's blessing, then knuckle down and do the work.

Western Wall and Rain Garden in progress

Excavation over here along the western fence is to remove hardpan clay for a rain garden catchment basin. What I take out of here is crushed and used as fill dirt for a small yet persistent sink hole over in the southeast corner. The clay stays on site in various other applications, as well, and is remixed into building soil.

Granddad Saunders was a Primitive Baptist deacon, as was his daddy, John, before him. His faith taught him to go to the Father and let his needs be known him. Then, get up off your knees, roll up your sleeves and deal with the situation at hand as best you can.

However, W.P. would have been the last man on Earth to put a sign in his yard about it.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,
and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;
and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Matthew 6:6 KJV

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Little River Bend Redone

Somewhere on the Little Wichita
We called it Tree in the Middle of the Road Park.

That’s what our five-year-old Brian dubbed it back when we first discovered this patch of a park hugging the Little Wichita River. The tree stands to this day, some 30-odd years on; but the road has been moved aside, no doubt an effort to protect the undriveworthy from their own self-destructive idiocy more than for the safety of the tree.

While the good folks of River City flooded the polls Saturday to put down a proposed school bond issue, A.D. Porter, the afore-mentioned Kid (now 42) and myself escaped to the TMRP for an overnighter and a chance to see just how much city one can purge in a mere 24 hours.

This little patch just off of highway 281 officially, at least, still exists as Shoshone Park owned by the City of Wichita Falls. City of Wichita Falls took possession of the land while constructing Lake Arrowhead and opened Shoshone as free public-access, something of an informal park, if you will.

Anyone could see Shoshone Park would be a maintenance issue for the city; these few acres of riparian wetland, lying some umpteen miles south of town in a neighboring county.
The city put in a hard-surface road, a concrete boat ramp and placed several trash barrels in strategic locations. A minimalist effort, perhaps, yet a righteous plan for a quiet retreat beside the river.

Nor did it take long to be discovered after Arrowhead was impounded in 1965.

Shoshone was a fishing hot spot for crappie, sand bass and catfish. There was ample space for primitive camping -- no drinking water nor potties on site -- a large open meadow where kids and dogs could run wild, and easy access to the river all along the road. Families, fisherfolk, birders, boaters as well as young folk looking to get lucky flocked to Shoshone.

Deep ruts after a rain hamper vehicle access to some sites.
Today Shoshone is an overgrown, tangled thicket of its former status. It's as if no one save a few old codgers with long memories go out there anymore; she's the forgotten, abandoned park, the neighborhood haunted house.

And that just tickled us to death! For A.D., Brian and me, this was like discovering our secret spot all over again. With few remnants of city-park trappings left, nature had worked a serious makeover.

For the record, the land still is owned by the City of Wichita Falls and it remains open to public access without any fees. Archer County Sheriff's Dept. routinely patrols the area. The boat ramp is in place, but it does not reach to the river channel at this time. And, yes, folks are rediscovering this good old park.

Here's praying, Lord, we don't lover her to death all over again.

The Kid (front) kicks back while A.D. (rear) tries to recall what the humpy, cloth-covered thingie is for.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When All My Green Has Gone to Weed

A Stage Five fright, flight or fight song

'Twas the damnedest thing I've ever seen,
when my manscaped lawn took the turn toward mean.
It's been dry most days, and some drier in between,
now weeds are eatin' up my green.

[RECITATION, in the manner of Arlo's "Alice"...]


[Some soft, kicky, road-trippy kinda strum riff wafting through the background]
[.... Waitin' for the music to come 'round....]

I say, friends... and neighbors. Yeah, Tea Baggers, too....
This here is a little song that came to me... or should I say, started coming to me on a warmish payday hump day while sweeping up desiccated aborted mulberries deposited on my driveway by the so-called fruitless mulberry tree that lives... you guessed it... ride beside my drive.

Friends.... Ain’t nothing in this world…. fruitless.

[....just waitin' for the music, again....]

I was sweeping up the desiccated aborted mulberries like rat turds and recalling a day,
not more than a few years ago,
a day when that mess of mulberries literally writhed with feeding butterflies.
Red Admirals
Mourning Cloaks
Fritillaries and Painted Ladies.
Yeah, even some Monarchs came through. At least one or two.....

[....You should be catching on about now. Unless you're a Congressman.....]

That set me to noticin' that the irises lay limp with heavy heads and that other various and sundry green-producing flora on or about my measley half-acre patch decidedly were lookin' the worse for wear what with a million-year drought, empty reservoirs and city fathers..... and mothers!.... sayin' I can no longer fling and flood water, good city water, on or about my property in any manner that I see fit while THEY keep a full-blown over-priced water wonderland rollin' merrily along through the teeth of another hundred-plus summer.

I love my city council!

As I say, friends, this here song started coming to me... or at me.... you decide....
and that one verse you see at the top there, that's as far as I got before I knew I had to get that verse down on paper, as it were, before I lost it.

Not to mention....

By half past ten it was too discomforting to be outside manually tuggin' dry yellow crackly weeds out of the driveway cracks, anyway, which I tend to do when my mind is set on cruise control and ambling on down the imagineering highway.

And here it is near eleven and my other self is due down at the dealership. So I'm leavin' it up to you, friends. Cast aside your chores for a moment or two and tack on a few more verses....a chorus would be nice, too....Anybody know how to write music? How to read it, once it's wrote?

Just think on When All My Green Has Gone to Weed and let yourself go. I look forward to reading and making snarky comments about your lyrics!

Pray for Rain, people, whether it helps or not, 'cause it sure as hell can't hurt!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Living Green in Wichita Falls: Some Upcoming Events of Interest

I'm away from my desk at the moment, but in the mean time, here's a spot on the interweb you really need to check out.

Living Green in Wichita Falls: Some Upcoming Events of Interest

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Troubles", Right Here in River City

The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Training jets scream over the playful rap of dogs chasing and being chased in circles, round and round and round again. Sitting in the backyard, taking a personal "sick" day, and it's more than sinus congestion and urban infections that plague body and soul. Lord, I suspect today I'm just feeling...old.

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.

As I sit here with dogs and birds and shade and Wordsworth and the endless whine of rubber tires on ancient asphalt, two issues are all the talk around River City Facebook circles. Clean water and new schools.

We're one week out from a bond election that would finance school infrastructure projects, and my old-age absentee ballot lies where it landed by snail mail a month ago. 
My mind has flipped and reflipped over this one so many times; let's just say I'm torn, still, on this one.

Lazlo leaps into my lap! Ah, the joys of writing outdoors. His primary issue is a simple, "Play with me!"

The other, perhaps more pressing, certainly more distressing issue is the water thing. As noted here more than once, River City may soon -- as in a matter of two or three years -- run out of water.

Now, too many folks have entangled the water issue with the school bond issue. These two are linked purely by coincidence and timing. The school bond is a school district issue; water is a city issue. Passage of the school bond  will not affect River City's water supply nor the lack thereof.

Yet, one still hears (reads), "Well! What good is a multimillion dollar megaschool gonna do us if there no water to drink! Huh? You'd think 'they'ed have sense enough to use that money to build another lake!"

Build another lake. Building another lake as a municipal water resource absolutely cannot be done with school district money. Period. End of discussion.

Build another lake. I could get in my car right now and drive to no less than half a dozen lakes within a couple of hours that are all but dried out. So long as this drought continues, folks, what good would another multimillion dollar -- NOT school money -- dry hole in the prairie do us, huh?

Then, too, there are no end of "dead horse" floggers. They SHOULDA built that lake when they had the chance! They COULDA let the Corp of Engineers dredge the old lake for free! We all WOULDA been a lot better off now if they hadn't been running things back then!

WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA never solved a damn thing, People. We need creative, thoughtful, workable solutions to meeting our water crisis going forward, not reliving old sins from the past.

Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Open Letter to Kellogg

Raisins gotta go!
Sometimes you simply have to take the bull by the berries, as it were. So it was this morning I sat down beside my bowl of raisin bran and composed the following letter:

Kellogg's Raisn Bran Omega~3 with Flax Seed is quite possibly the greatest innovation in cereal since the birth of Tony Tiger. Personally, I swore off cold morning fare as soon as I was old enough to vote, particularly anything that went limp in milk. However, my lovely AnniePie got on a raisin bran kick some weeks back, and out of curiosity more than anything else, I pinched a sample of the flakes. OMG!!

Nothing in this world is perfect, though. I do have one issue with your cereal. Okay, two scopes worth of issues, namely, the raisins. You see, I don't like raisins, never cared for them never will, simply will not abide raisins on my palate. Every morning -- yes, I am that regular; your bran flakes keep me going -- I meticulously plck each and every raisin from my breakfast bowl, storing them in an old spice jar (but now even the birds are refusing to eat them).

Therefore, I respectfully suggest you immediately put into production Kellogg's Raisin Bran with Omega~3 Flax Seeds Sans Raisins. I mean, we have the scientific savvy to remove glutten from bread; surely you can extract the raisins from the bran. Here's a hint: Just don't put them in in the first place!

One devoted flake fan

I was fully prepared to do right by the company, going to their website,, to retrieve their email address. After all, it is only common courtesy to praise in public and critique privately. All I can say, folks, is that I tried and failed to penetrate their corporate fire wall. Fortunately, they did tout their Facebook Page. Seemed as good a place as any to offer my suggestion.