Today the odd men came with their window tinting material to render our home a bit less sun-afflicted. It is unlike us to hire this type of thing in the "on" season, which may give a clue to the extent of the heat and drought here. I noticed our most recent water bill, though, indicated that we are well under the 10,000 gallons per family per month the local authorities have imposed (using penalty rates over that amount). We are green by nature, I suppose.
I stopped by the new Tandoori grill and picked up a chicken tikka boti wrapped in a slice of naan to go, and then drove over to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in nearby Plano. I had not been in a few years, although this place makes me happy. Lately, I spend time remembering things nearby that make me happy, so that I shorten my drives somewhat. Driving rural roads itself makes me happy, but I am trying to be slightly greener.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is an unexpected delight. Plano, one town south of me, is a city of a quarter million people which serves as Dallas' "high tech" suburb. It attracted numerous corporate headquarters by offering cheap land, tax concessions, and a "can do" attitude to attracting businesses. The city fathers wisely asked the corporations "what do you look for us to have to induce you to come?". The answers included "great schools" and "lots of parkland". Thus, Plano, for all its cookie-cutter corporatism, features a dedicated system of parks and trails.
Arbor Hills preserves (or rather, semi-preserves, because it is not pristine) a small upland forest, a riparian forest, and prairie remnants (though, sadly, not much original prairie). It's a joy to hike there, where it has gentle rolling hills and actual shade trees, things not always available in southern Collin County.
I brought my digital camera along, and took this panorama of what Arbor Hills looks like:
I also figured out how to use my 25-dollar cheap digicam to make one of those "time delay" pictures. I hope you'll pardon me posting this one, which is of no particular advantage in portraying me, as I am pleased with myself that I figured out how to make the function work (and I omit here the discussion of all the great time-delay pictures I now have of shirts and hands).
I loved a noon walk at Arbor Hills, where the trails and walking sidewalks are more developed than a couple of years ago, when last I visited. I saw lots of cardinals, black-eyed susans, and
lots of sun-drenched plants. Few pioneers were rolling their Canestogas (read: mountain bikes and perambulators) at the park, due to the heat, and I liked the sense of almost-isolation.
On the way back home from the park, I stopped in Half Priced Books, the local chain used bookstore. I got a hardcover (library edition, but with a cover diagram) of John E. Muller's "Forbidden Planet", which I will give to asphalteden after I have read it, if he lacks this classic. I got John Whitcomb Riley's "Riley Songs of Summer", a book of poems and pictures. Riley says:
"There is ever a song somewhere, my dear;
There is ever a something sings alway:
There's the song of the lark when the sky is clear,
and the song of the thrush when the skies are gray"
and I could not agree with him more, although I would have proceeded with an extra stanza about the songs in motorbuses and water treatment plants, and the great interconnectedness of it all.
I also got a DVD called "Easy Origami", a three dollar book called "What's a Synthesizer", and another called "What is a mixer?", a biography of Douglass Adams, and a book which chronicles the early days of techno music.
I stopped by a brand new toy store, and picked up some music-related things, such as a thing called a "Bontempi Trumpet", which is not a trumpet at all, but instead one of those things whose name now escapes me in which one holds down notes like piano keys while one blows. It irritates me when I cannot remember something, although the word "harmonium" is coming to me (and yet, isn't a harmonium a keyboard ancestor mostly used in Indian music now?), but I will just write out my bout of memory loss rather than covering it over with google.
When I returned home, my wife was out on an errand, so I used the music toys to make samples, sampled them in my sampler, pulled down an electro-drum-sample from ccmixter, and created a song which visits that obscure sub-genre, the electronica sexy break-up song. I love break-up songs, particularly if they are quirky, but so few of them address the longing when a relationship has not entirely lost its zing, but has lost its ability to work. The resulting song doesn't really fully capture the idea, but was fun to put together. I posted an ambient version at my absurdmusic.com and the "beats" version at www.ccmixter.org. It was interesting creating the "sigh" samples by recording my own voice and then pitch-shifting it upward.
We went for seafood yet again at a place we had not tried, Ocean Seafood, where I had wonderful grilled shrimp and angel hair pasta. Then I took the dogs into the back yard to honor a suggestion that my dear friend Greg W., one of the truly stand-up guys in the universe, made--to
post snaps of our dogs. Here is a quite amateur picture of Teddy, assuming the "hop up" stance with a "smile" on her face:
Here is a rather small snap of Bea with a ball, which is her favorite past-time, or, rather, second favorite past-time after the more popular "chasing field mice":
A good day, and now I have good books. Anther weekend day awaits.