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approaching rain

When I drove home tonight, I saw a pop-up storm fully-formed to my west. Our relatively flat landscape makes these purple-cloud extravaganzas a fun sight off in the distance. The rain pulled down like blue threads.  Soon I had driven into the rain.  Once I got to Collin County, I turned north on a side street, exiting the George Bush Freeway. I stopped at a Taco Bueno for soft chicken tacos, to stay out of the rain for a bit.

When I got to Allen, it was as if it had not rained at all. I put Beatrice's leash on, and walked her around Glendover Park. She had a great time.  I had a nice chat by phone with my wife. Now I am watching one of the Superman movies, and relaxing.

Breakfast: skim milk and organic frosted flakes
Lunch: turkey sandwich, baked chips and vegetable soup from Potbelly
Dinner: three soft chicken tacos.

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Blue (Potato) Sunday

When my wife leaves town, I take charge of watering her back patio potted plants. My favorite plants are succulent plants.  The Christmas cactus in our downstairs bath rarely needs water, existing mostly on shower mist and indirect sunlight. The large tropical succulent in our bedroom thrives on very little water or sunlight.  My wife's plants require more care.  This year they include an annual tree that dries easily, a hanging plant with flowers that dries even more easily. and some small pots that require some water are not as thirsty.  On the brighter side, the milkweed in our garden bed requires light watering. I hope this year it again gets a Fall crop of Monarch butterfly caterpillars.

I went outdoors this morning and drenched my wife's potted plants. I used the little green watering can devoted to that purpose. I also spread birdseed for the birds on the little stone bench. I got a late start to Weight Watchers. I made up the time by  walking in small Green Park near my home. Immature American Robins abounded. August is the least bird-ful month in our area. The nesters are largely finished with their nests. Only the first hints of migration are in evidence. Lots of birds are in the shade, hiding from the heat. Some form feeding flocks which flock about. Still, Green Park was fairly active.

At Weight Watchers I was up .4 pounds. That is immaterial. I walked in Hoblitzelle Park. Then I went to church at Suncreek UMC. I liked the sermon, about expectations.  I thought about someone whom I perceive cloaks his or her thin self-confidence with a bluster of narrative. I thought to myself how my outlook was too harsh on the person, who faces severe and difficult challenges I do not face. I felt badly about how judgmental I have been, and realized that I should stop being that way.

In the afternoon, I got my oil changed on my car. The oil change came with a power wash. My car was not empty so I asked them to do the outside only.  I liked the pattern of the soap on my window.

I also I had a good call wiith my sister, and a great call with my wife. I picked up some food to make for dinner.

I wanted to cook some of the blue potatoes I bought in Oklahoma. I cut the little new potatoes in half, and added in broccoli crowns.
I put both in a plastic container, and covered it with plastic. I then microwaved it to "steam" the vegetables.  As the container cooled, I heated the cooked ham steak, after Google answered my question directly when I asked Google Voice how long I should microwave it (its advice was 5 minutes, but I thought it was ready in 3). The meal tasted great. The blue potato flesh was a bit blue.

I went for an evening walk in Glendover Park. I saw lightning in the distance.




 
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revisited ghosts of belle starr

I hit the road  to southern Oklahoma at 6:30 a.m. During the nearly three-hour drive, I passed small towns in very rural areas. Non-chain businesses had names like Big Foot BBQ or Six Feet Under Gun Shop.  Every small town had a football field with a sign that said "Home of the [team name]".  A Greater Roadrunner ran in front of me. A horse in a very rural place was loose on the grass. I wanted to phone somebody, but then I realized I had no idea what town I was near or what county I was in. The horse did look reasonably safe and comfortable and not near the road. I spent most of my day in the Choctaw Nation.

I arrived in Wilburton, Oklahoma at 9:25 a.m.  Wilburton is a town of 3,200 adjacent to the San Bois Mountains. I liked its vibrant downtown, and the brick buildings of its small university, Eastern Oklahoma State University. I drove to the Belle Starr lodge. I stayed there once when my mother took my siblings and I there when I was 11 or so. I remember enjoying that trip. I paddled a kayak on lovely Carlton Lake on that trip. It was my first time to kayak. I can hardly imagine a more lovely or safe place to do a first kayak then little Carlton Lake..

Robbers Cave is amid small mountains.  The San Bois chain is the western end of the Ouachita Mountains, It is what happens when a mountain range moves west and drops huge boulders of sandstone.

My old friend Gene drove down from northwest Arkansas. We linked up and drove to the park store. There we got maps of where to go and some good guidance. We drove my car to a parking lot and parked it.  Then we headed to the cave trail.  The cave is a small cave, not one of those caves with stalactites and stalagmites. It was instead reputed to be a hideout during the 19th Century for outlaws like the James Gang and Belle Starr. Belle Starr was killed by gunfire mysteriously not that far away. We enjoyed the 8/10th of a mile trail. It involved lots of huge boulders. I wore my walking shoes and not my hiking shoes. Once I fell because a rock was too slippery. I seem to be okay. Hiking in prairie made me forget to wear my hiking boots to this rocky hike.

The cave was smaller and less steeply placed than I remembered as a kid. But it was great to see a vista of the San Bois Mountains from the top.  The park was lovely--lakes with stone panoramas, deep woods, and lovely hiking. We hiked the short learning center trail. We took a longer hike on the Belle Starr trail to Coon Creek Lake, which involved lots of climbing down and climbing up.

We headed into town for lunch. The Chinese place had a sign that its owners were gone for 3 weeks. The bakery reputed to have great sandwiches was not open.  But Adelita's, the Mexican place, was open and great. I had caldo de cameron. After I ordered, the young server repeated my order, "shrimp soup".  My soup was great--just the right amount of hot seasoning.

We both headed home after lunch. I took the wrong little country highway, a bit by accident and a bit on purpose. In one rural area, I passed a sign that said "Farmer's Market" and "this is the real kind--we grow everything on our farm".  I pulled over onto a gravel road. At its end, a small house and a smaller building that served as the vegetable market were there. I went in. It was air-conditioned and full of fresh produce. But nobody was inside.  I looked at the great wares---watermelons and tomatoes and onions and blue potatoes. I decided to buy blue potatoes. They were five dollars for a sack.  A hand-written note signed "Liz" invited buyers to buy what they want and leave the money in a little locked box. I slipped a five into the box and took my potatoes. A camera apparatus in the store made it all less quaint than a picture-book but it was charming.

My on-star navigation service could not get a good cell to give me a map home, but ultimately my Verizon phone gave me a google map. I had lost a little ground in my wandering but only a little.  I drove on lovely rural roads until I got on Highway 69. I found myself driving by massive Lake Eufaula. I decided to stop at Arrowhead State Park, near Canadian.  I had hiked there with my friend Gene four years ago.

A nice volunteer at the state park office told me how he felt a bit weary but he was still there. "That's the spirit", I said, but he said "I'm not sure I have that spirit". He gave me great directions on where to hike.  I hiked for 90 minutes. The last 45 I switched from trail to road to try to see more birds. I did not see many, but I saw more on the road than in the woods.  This is not unusual--Summer birds like to flit from tree to open space to catch insects. 

The afternoon turned a bit hot. The road was longer than I expected. I kept passing signs for the Narcanon rehab facility on site. I also passed great sets of families having fun on the beach, on playground equipment, or, in the case of two fellows, walking down the road with fishing rods. Lake Eufaula is a lovely large foothills lake. I saw Barn Swallows waiting for a cooler evening by hanging out on telephone wires. I drove to Atoka Lake. I did not spend much time there. I did see a small wild canine. I thought at first it was a fox. But then I decided it was an immature coyote--more than a pup but not very far grown.  It ran to cover before I got a photo. I wish I had a picture to be sure.

All told, it was a grand day. Now the closing credits of Pearl Harbor are scrolling, I threw Beatrice's stuffed red lobster doll.

breakfast: frosted flakes and skim milk
lunch: caldo de cameron and chips
dinner: 3 pieces fried catfish, a roll and green beans.
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Edith Piaf and Michele

My wife  caught a plane to Kansas City early this morning. She had to make a last-minute airline switch when normally-dependable  Southwest canceled an early morning flight and offered alternatives that did not fit her plans. She found a decent last-minute fare on American and took the Super-shuttle out to the airport. I got on a long call to Kansas City for a meeting my wife attended and I "attended by phone". I liked the meeting, but parts of it seemed to squeeze one hour of content into two hours of presentation. I usually flatter myself that only lawyers do that, but I am wrong in so flattering. A Facebook casual acquaintance posted something about how "most lawyers are slimy" which makes me think of tadpole ponds.

I wrapped up the day at work a bit after 6 p.m. I grabbed a sandwich at Subway. The afternoon was quite pleasant, in the low 80s. So I took Beatrice for a walk. She maintained her aloofness around other dogs, although feigned disinterest is closer to the right term.  She had a good time. She got close to a rabbit.

I bought 2 albums on bandcamp by artists I like, Lee Rosevere and C. Reider. I wanted to buy today because today Bandcamp donates proceeds to the Translaw Center.

I watched a video last night of Sparks performing "Edith Piaf (said it better)", the kind of song that reminds me why I listen to Sparks after 40+ years.

My friend Michele had her birthday today. I first met Michele when she was 18, 2 and 4 years, respectively younger than her son and daughter are now. She dated a close friend of mine for years, which close friend has since passed away. My friend did not treat her well, while she treated my friend extremely well. Michele married someone else, which was probably a good decision and in hindsight looks very wise. Michele is one of life's good people--kind and a bit sunny, but not pollyanna-ish.  Her outdoors hobby is bicycling. I wish her every happiness.

I drive early tomorrow, camera and binoculars on board.  I hope I see things--and not "dead people".

breakfast: gorilla munch cereal and skim milk
lunch: 2 slices pepperoni pizza, broccoli, carrots and dill pickles
dinner: turkey sandwich and baked chips






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before that

Tonight I made some great plans for Saturday to spend time with an old friend.  Before that, I walked in Bob Woodruff Park, where I listened to the Ask Noah podcast and took photos of Cottontail Rabbits and American Coots. Before that I worked until the early evening.  Before that, I had an afternoon of conference calls and drafting. Before that, I ate lunch and walked near my work. Before that I worked a solid morning. Before that I spread birdseed for the birds. Before that, I woke up after falling asleep again. Before that, I got up early and ate breakfast cereal, while slipping Beatrice mini-milk-bones, balancing them on my knee.

breakfast: organic frosted flakes and skim milk
lunch: whichwich turkey sandwich and baked chips
dinner: two fried chicken breasts, green beans, a roll and corn on the cob

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light rainy day

August 2 felt a bit like May 2. Last night a feather-light rain fell. I walked in Shawnee Park in Plano and in Heritage Park in Sachse. We took Beatrice for a walk in Glendover Park in the dark.

I sent an old friend an invitation to get together on Saturday. I got some family paperwork done this morning. We watched a show about wild nature footage in Ireland.

breakfast: organic frosted flakes and skim milk
lunch: turkey sandwich and baked chips
dinner: 2 chicken sliders and a salad

spotted sandpiper

The news tonight had video of an attack by teens and young adults upon a man on a DART train (i.e., the local commuter rail). The attack took place on late Sunday night. The perpetrators look young, and reportedly were high.  I felt the incident was unfortunate, and also that the DART Police need to make solving this crime a priority. The attackers are readily visible on the film, so it should be a solvable mystery.

I tried to go to Travis Farm Park at lunch, but it was being mowed.  After lunch, I walked near my office instead.  After work, I walked on the Chisholm Trail.  I saw my first Spotted Sandpiper of the year. Its non-breeding plumage features very little in the way of spots.
That brings my Collin County bird species count for 2017 up to 103. Facebook reminds me that a year ago I was in Yoho National Park in Canada. I saw a Spotted Sandpiper near Canmore a year and a day ago.

The temperature was not cool, but it was cloudier and cooler today than the prior heat. As I drove home, a bit of sprinkled rain fell--a rarity in early August.

I am still busy, but it is fun to be a bit busy.

breakfast: gorilla munch cereal and skim milk
lunch: grilled chicken, green beans and a roll
dinner: chicken and salad

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national mutt day

I walked around the shopping center near my office during lunch. Back at home this evening, I let Beatrice know she is very important in this household.  I walked in Glendover Park before dinner.

Breakfast: organic frosted flakes and skim milk
Lunch: garden vegetable soup, turkey sandwich and baked chips
Dinner: low-fat hamburger pattys on sliders



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a little less warm

I  woke up too early.  But I managed to get back to sleep. I took a morning walk on the Chisholm Trail. I went to Weight Watchers where  I was down a pound and a half. I walked in Suncreek Park on my way to church.

At church, the kids and teens led the service. This was apparently a kind of logical conclusion to the Vacation Bible School.  They all sang and made hand gestures with enthusiam. The fellow who works at a children's healthcare center in Honduras spoke about raising money for his mission endeavors.

In the afternoon,I got a haircut at Classic Cuts in Plano. Then I walked in Crowley Park. I took lots of pictures of an Eastern Phoebe. The temperature stayed a little cooler than in prior days.
At night, we watched an episode of "Grantchester" and a DVD of an episode of "Foyle's War".

breakfast: gorilla gulp cereal and skim milk
lunch: two pieces of fried catfish, green beans and a roll
dinner: two pieces of grilled chicken, corn tortillas, pinto beans and broccoli.



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wing nut installation

I got up this morning with the intention to hop in my car and drive to a rural state or county park. But in the event, I felt starting the morning with a walk with Beatrice provided a better start to the morning. Beatrice and I walked in nearby Glendover Park, a short walk from our home. The walk takes a mile and a tenth of a mile to traverse. Beatrice used to take half an hour to do this circuit. Today, as is the routine lately, the walk took fifty minutes. I cannot testify with certainty whether this new timing is all the physical effects of old age, or in part the wisdom of old age. We got a mild break from the heat today, though a "cold front" here translates into hot but not quite as hot rather than cool.

During our walk, we passed near the trunk of a tree. A fox squirrel clung to the tree, a few feet up. Beatrice felt excited to see this creature, but through my efforts, Beatrice got denied the chance to make a proper leap.

I went back home, did a bit of work, and began listening to music. I listened to ambient music in the main. In the late morning, I went to Home Depot. I had missed last week on a couple of nut and bolt purchases to do minor front fender repair on my bicycle. But in my failed effort, I had gotten the right width to put a bolt and wing nut.  I acquired that bolt and wing nut, and got checked out by a nice woman whose ID badge said Edna.

At home, I successfully re-affixed the fender to the frame. This repair replaced the stick that replaced the stick that replaced the stick that did years of service as a repair stopgap. I was delighted with myself for getting it right.  In our family, my wife is the handy and efficient one. I wish I could say I am completely inept, but the truth is more time-consuming. I can do many handyman things, but I am slow and a bit more subject to trial and error.  So I feel the need to slog in, but in slogging I am not rapid.

When I saw the bike was in such better shape, I felt I had to try it out. I headed out at 11:55 a.m. for a ride. I rode on the Watters Branch Trail and the Urban Center Loop Trail. I rode for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I saw a few bird species. I only got one decent picture of a Great Egret.
I thought I saw a White-Eyed Vireo, but camera work suggests it is either an Eastern Phoebe or an Eastern Wood PeWee. I must parse it out a bit.

I went to Taco Bell for lunch. After lunch, I went home and listened to more music. I got into a discussion on Twitter with a Twitter person I follow about the day job v. the artsy job issue.  I am grateful that I like my non-artsy day job.  I know not everyone has the good fortune of a job or a job they like.

My wife had gone to see the new Charlize Thereon action movie "Atomic Blonde" with a friend. I passed on that movie because it looked too violent to me.  When she came home, we headed to El Pollo Loco for dinner. The staff at El Pollo Loco seemed a bit overwhelmed on a busy evening, but the chicken was good. 

We walked after dinner in Glendover Park. Now we are watching an episode of "Foyle's War".  This has been a good day.

breakfast: frosted flakes and skim milk
lunch: three soft shredded chicken tacos
dinner: two grilled chicken breasts (skin removed), one grilled chicken wing, two corn tortillas, broccoli


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