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between busy moments [Aug. 24th, 2016|09:31 pm]
I find myself busy at work. But I catch myself thinking about Saturday. I do not like to live in the future. I like to live in the present, which featured Church's Fried Chicken, Kellogg's Corn Pops, Boston Market turkey, 6,200 steps, several Eastern Bluebirds, and a call about deer.

My little sister turned 52 today, which is cool but hard to believe.
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orange line blues [Aug. 23rd, 2016|09:47 pm]
Monday the traffic attending the first day of school in the area proved more than manageable. I worked a solid day, and had a lunch of soft chicken tacos and a dinner of cube steak. I got some necessary paperwork mailed, and sorted out some issues.

This morning I kept waking in two-hour intervals. I got up at near the right time, arrived at the Parker Road Station, and caught an Orange Line train to downtown Dallas. I arrived in good order. The metal detector folks preferred to insist I put my things in my computer bag rather provide me with a basket. That is no big deal, though it slowed me a bit. But later, on the train back, I found that my day pass had gone missing during the upheaval. This proved less than entirely fun when the ticket-checker came by. But I soldier on.

For lunch I ate soft chicken tacos and went back to work. I worked until 6:35 p.m. and headed home. I walked in Suncreek Park,which had lots of immature Eastern Bluebirds on the trees. We dined tonight on pork cutlets and grilled asparagus.
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the passing of a generation [Aug. 21st, 2016|06:28 pm]
Last night we went to Texas Land and Cattle Company and met up with my brother, his wife, and our nephew. We all had a nice dinner together. I liked my filet mignon with broccoli crowns.

This morning I got up and ate Corn Pops cereal with skim milk. I checked my social media, where I learned that my Uncle Ivan passed away. Uncle Ivan was my late mother's older brother, born in 1931. I liked Uncle Ivan. I last saw him on March 30th of last year, when we went out to a memorial service at my cousin Bill's place for my Aunt Virginia. He and my cousin Bret and I had a fine breakfast together at the assisted living place where he lived. He was a kind and interesting fellow. His passing, coupled with previous departures, feels as if a generation has gone from my life--that group who were kids during the Great Depression and World War Two and
young adults in the 1950s.

Uncle Ivan studied engineering at Louisiana Tech. He wound up as a petroleum engineer at Kerr-McGee in Oklahoma City. He studied law at night at Oklahoma City University. He became a regulatory lawyer in the Kerr-McGee legal department, though I think his highest corporate title was something along the lines of Chief Engineer. He had my late grandfather's gift for affable conversation and for treating each new acquaintance as a potential and presumptive friend. When he retired from Kerr-McGee, he had a cool job as a kind of facilitator at Oklahoma City University. He and my Aunt Virginia eventually retired to Georgetown, Texas, about forty miles north of Austin. A few times,when I had driven to a hearing or meeting in Austin, I'd stop by and say hello. I liked their little house, where a Mule Deer might pop up in their retirement-community neighborhood.
Uncle Ivan might take me to pick up a burger, or we'd all sit and talk. My Aunt Virginia had health issues later in life, after a stroke-like event affected some component of her short-term memory. I do not know all there is to know, but my uncle seemed to do well as a caretaker.

Five months ago, Uncle Ivan married a woman at the cool assisted living place at which he lived. I had met her the day I last saw my uncle. I was pleased for them. But in very recent days, I had gotten a note or two that he had but weeks to live. One note, by his eldest granddaughter, capably told all his friends and families in admirable and unsentimental detail what was happening, as if to answer all questions that folks could have.

He passed away within a few days. I am sorry he is gone. I am relieved that it sounds as if he did not suffer, despite having one of those acute things that sometimes causes pain. He was a good fellow, and he leaves behind two sons who are also good fellows, and a foursome of likable grandchildren, as well as his widow. So passes another link to the past.

This morning I walked on the Chisholm Trail in Plano, near Orlando Street. Then I went to Weight Watchers, where I was down 2.4 pounds. I decided to attend Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Plano. The church was extremely well-attended, as this was the last Sunday before back-to-school. I liked the Blessing of the Backpacks, and the Communion of Water, in which lots of members brought water from their vacations, family visits and social justice work all over the country and poured it into a common little pitcher, telling the story of each sample. That made things linger on a bit, but it was fitting, and an interesting non-sacramental way for a non-creedal church to experience something communal in the same way as a sacrament.

I went to Subway for a turkey sandwich on wheat and baked chips. Then I headed to Celebration Park in Allen. Rather than walk in this huge, open field park, I hopped on the Celebration Pass. This was a sidewalk walk of 2.6 kilometers from Celebration Park to another park called Stacy Ridge. The sky was blue for the first time in days. The temperature was cooler than is seasonal but still quite warm. I got some cool pictures of a Cooper's Hawk. I talked to two men about my age who were walking two large dogs. We talked about all the birds in our area, and I showed them my hawk picture. One man had moved here from California, so he could tell me about the lovely Mandarin Ducks he had seen.

As I walked back to my car, a woman on a bicycle and her Chocolate Labrador Retriever came up. The lab, a bit soggy from a dip in some waters, originally wanted to stay "hi" to me, but she encouraged him to "come on, Tango, just keep moving", so I said something similar to Tango, who did, indeed, just keep moving.
I love dog-watching.

My wife returned from picking up some things. We had hoped to dine on chicken from El Pollo Loco, a much-beloved southern California chain moving into our area. But the restaurant does not fully open until next week. So we will dine on sandwiches, view the series finale of "Inspector Lewis" and enjoy the weather.
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no running, no hiding of heads [Aug. 20th, 2016|03:13 pm]
The weather guy said that our average high lately is 14 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the average high. Then he gave a useful statistic--the highs this week resemble the average high on September 20th. We have had rain for days--never too much, unlike folks in Louisiana, who are inundated.

Yesterday I left my rain windbreaker in my car at lunch, after a lunch of a Subway sandwich and a walk among the Eastern Bluebirds at Breckinridge Park. A somewhat imperfect tree was cut down by the park staff--it was probably safe and good husbandry to cut it, but I will miss it. When the end-of-the-work-day heavy rains came in, I ran through them to get to my car. I got soaked. As ever, the experience felt fun but the aftermath proved less than ideal.

Last night we ate in, dining upon some tasty stuffed Hatch chiles. I like that the state o New Mexico gets so much attention with the "Hatch Chile" marketing angle, though the chiles originate from more areas than Hatch, New Mexico, and the various similar but not identical chiles elude definitive differentiation. When I go to southern New Mexico, the less touristy, arguably more fun part of the state, the chiles used tend to be hotter and more interesting. But I do not know those chiles' names. I like the idea that the chiles all descend from the agriculture of the Pueblo-dwelling first peoples, followed by refinement by a series of folks associated with New Mexico State University, including Dr. Fabián Garcia, in 1894.I'd like to take another New Mexico vacation someday--perhaps to Ruidoso, which stays cool in the Summer.

I signed up for the early morning bird walk scheduled for today at Lake Ray Roberts Park, Johnson Branch, but heavy rain at dawn convinced me that the walk was unlikely to take place. So I took my own walk on the Watters Creek Trail near our neighborhood. The creek, usually a shallow flow, rushed due to the rain. I saw 14 species of birds, among whom a flock of House Finches reminded me that late Summer is here. I took Beatrice for a walk, which she enjoyed.

I ate lunch at Whichwich, where I was disappointed that sauerkraut is no longer a side I may order with my turkey sandwich. I am a creature of habit, who will order the same things over and over. But perhaps change is good. I did try a "Smartfoods" popcorn in lieu of chips.

This afternoon I am working on practical family paperwork things. I took a break to start my laundry, only to learn, to my delight, that the woman who cleans our home twice a month did much of it already. That makes my day easier.

I got an email with a detailed letter from a first cousin, once removed, which helpfully explains something of concern. I like a thorough, factual approach like that.

Lately I want to create musical instruments out of household things, guided by a
book I own on how to do just that.
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LL [Aug. 18th, 2016|10:17 pm]
Yet another warmish day with light intermittent rain. The break in the heat delights me. Tonight I gave free legal advice in the Dallas Volunteer Attorney program, after a solid day of work of the paying kind. I ate Corn Pops for breakfast, Church's fried chicken for lunch, and grilled chicken from Golden Chick for dinner.

I got some bad news about an ill relative, which dampened the week a bit. The TV is playing the movie Rio Bravo. My sister went to the LL Bean factory and shipped me a shirt. She told me a tale of my late grandfather having a shoe custom made there for him. My late grandfather, a man who went from wood mill to wood mill to buy railroad cross ties, loved to wear LL Bean.
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productive day [Aug. 17th, 2016|09:11 pm]
I like days like today when I get a lot of work done.

Today I ate:
a. kix cereal and skim milk;
b. broccoli, sliced carrots, and dill pickles with two slices of sausage pizza
c. baked salmon, brussels sprouts and smashed potatoes, as well as
d. little mini snack bars and almonds.

I enjoyed yet another day which was as if we were teleported to a rainy place north of us in early Autumn.

I walked in:
a. Heritage Park (saw a Loggerhead Shrike and four immature Scissor-tailed Flycatchers)
b. Allen Station Park, where I watched an Eastern Phoebe flit from tree to tree.

Now I am watching Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, on a CNN town hall. I like her pretty well in terms of her seeming like she means well, but she has fallen far short of convincing me to vote for her.
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dive bombed [Aug. 17th, 2016|07:19 am]
The weather here remains somewhat cooler than normal, with pleasant rain. To our southwest, flooding in Louisiana displaces people from their homes and leads to rescues by boat. The contrast between extremes of weather in contiguous regions are palpable.

Monday I sat in one of the chairs in our back patio. Juvenile Northern Mockingbirds cried out to their parents for feeding. As I sat in the fading light, a male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird hovered in mid-air, not five feet from my face. Then it zipped off.

I bought an issue of Linux Voice at Barnes & Noble. I had to wait five minutes for a fellow a good bit older than I am to tell long anecdotes to the 20something cashier after he made his purchase. Later, she apologized, but said she could not figure out a polite way to shuffle him off to Buffalo. I agreed with her--there was no need to be impolite.

I dined on a TKY sandwich, baked chips, and vegetable soup from Potbelly. I drove to Breckinridge Park, to see the Barn Swallows in the rain.Tonight in Green Park I saw a fledgling Northern Mockingbird working on trying to fly. I gave it a pretty wide berth, but as I walked away, I turned and saw an adult bird coming at me in proverbial "dive bomber" posture. I continued to walk away, feigning ignorance. I fell asleep during the Olympics. My wife watched episodes of "Homeland" and stayed up late.
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green birds and corn pops [Aug. 14th, 2016|09:47 pm]
Today the weather proved cooler. I walked Beatrice at 7 a.m. I walked myself on the Chisholm Trail. I went to Weight Watchers, where my weight was neither up nor down.
I went to church, where the sermon was about communal connections over the "me" orientation of the obsession with individual experience. I went to Casa Taco for two beef soft tacos. The fellow at the register felt embarrassed when he could not get the register to open.

I went to Bethany Lakes Park, where I counted more than 15 species, and good pictures of an Eastern Phoebe and of a Green Heron. I drove to Suncreek Park, where I watched Eastern Bluebirds, Carolina Chickadees and Eastern Phoebes. I stopped by Kroger for Kelloggs' Corn Pops cereal, bananas and clementines.

In the afternoon I rested. I picked up sandwiches for us at Subway. We watched the penultimate episode of "Inspector Lewis". I will hate to see that show depart. Though I often disapprove of series based on novels I enjoy, and often disapprove of non-canonical TV episodes not based on actual novels or stories, I always enjoy both "Inspector Lewis" and "Endeavor".

I thought of a few quick images from the weekend--cosplay attendees to the Dallas Anime Festival standing in costume outside the Dallas Sheraton downtown as my train stopped at the Pearl Street Station; the fellow at Subway telling me how successful the new location across the street from the old one had proven to be; the fellow at the register at Kroger asking if it was, as he believed, too cool in the supermarket; and looking up places to visit on the way up on a planned visit to Tulsa next month. I also got on a reading jag about McGregor, Texas, on a "what if?" about what I would do if I took a train there.

Now the movie "Ghost" has come on television, which we both enjoy. I have a weakness for afterlife stories, provided they do not involve children whose near-death experiences confirm their parents' need for publicity.
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great art great day great guide [Aug. 13th, 2016|08:53 pm]
My wife woke me up at 6:35 a.m., which gave us just enough time to get ready to catch the DART Red Line train to downtown Dallas. We stopped on the way to get my wife a coffee at Starbucks. Then the DART train took us from the Parker Road Station in Plano some 33 kilometers to Union Station in Dallas. Then we caught the
8:50 a.m. train for the 55 kilometer train ride to the ITC station in Fort Worth.

We like the Fort Worth ITC station because it links up (true to its "intermodal" acronym) with buses to the Fort Worth attractions, bicycles for rent, and even to Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses all over the country. We caught the 7 bus to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. When we first arrived, we heard and saw Carolina Wrens singing. We walked in the gardens for an hour, which were lovely.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced a huge onset of rose rossette disease, which has devasted almost all local roses. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden replaced its rose garden with a pleasing assortment of other red flowers. The strategy worked, as the "rose garden" is now an "all sorts red garden", or so I christen it.

I took a photo of a dark swallowtail butterfly on milkweed. After I got home, I tried to sort out its species, as there are 4 similar dark swallowtails (3 imitate the 4th, as the 4th, the Pipevine Swallowtail, tastes bad to birds). When I took the photo, I thought it was a dark morph Tiger Swallowtail female, but after looking at guides on the internet I am now fairly certain it was a Spice Bush Swallowtail.
We caught a bus to the Kimball Museum. This was perhaps our only error, as we could have walked to the museum in the time we waited for the bus. But we did make it to the Kimball, and had a great meal at its Buffet, a kind of one-plate limited-menu meal.

After lunch, we went to the Amon Carter to see the exhibition of Norman Lewis works on show. We arrived just as a guide expertly led a tour. We found the
exhibition amazing. We felt fortunate to see it. We caught our buses and trains back home, picking up some food at Market Street on the way. We had a grand day.
Now we hope the clouds clear tonight or tomorrow so that we can try to see the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower.
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cloudy and fine [Aug. 12th, 2016|10:14 pm]
On my way to work, I stopped to walk on those suburban sidewalks that make up the shady Chisholm Trail. Overhead, I saw a Mississippi Kite. In the brush near the creek, I saw two Carolina Wrens.

At work, my assistant had picked me up breakfast in honor of my birthday. I had already eaten, but I was sufficiently touched to eat again. I thought of my father at my age, and how full of life his remaining life proved to be. I hope I am so fortunate, but without the more energetic adventures he experienced.

One of my law partners was back from watching a gifted grandson golf in Lubbock. Panhandle plateau town Lubbock, home of Buddy Holly, sometimes gets slagged as bleak and hot in Summer. But my partner discovered the Panhandle secret I learned already--it cools in the evening in the panhandle. I love the Texas Panhandle--seemingly mildly roly-flat and tundra-ish but then oh, my! what canyons and wildlife.

A huge rainstorm moved in unexpectedly this afternoon. On August 12 in north Texas, this is like Texas. I hope this is an early break in our relentless heat. I drove in a park where I could see dozens of Cliff Swallows.

I ate a chopped turkey salad without dressing for lunch. I walked in Timber Narrows Park in Murphy after work. We dined at Dickey's BBQ for dinner. We plan a train trip and a museum visit tomorrow, weather permitting. We walked Beatrice in the wonderful post-rain air.

I hope the clouds lift enough for me to see Perseids this weekend, but things are good.
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