Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pushing Electrons

I fear that my attitude is lousy today.  I guess I've been doing way too much office work lately.  That's just not my thing.  I need to be out talking to customers or potential customers.  I need something besides pushing electrons to keep me engaged.

I laugh at that thought.  When I'm on the road for week-after-week I get sick and tired of that too.  I shouldn't complain.  I have one of the best jobs imaginable.  I get to do lots of different things.  I travel.  I pretty much set my own schedule -- subject of course to industry functions, etc.  I can delegate a lot of projects to others -- but, some can't be delegated.  In fact, I've said before that I would have the perfect job if I could be home every night.  It just usually doesn't work that way.

"Pushing electrons" is what made me laugh.  I used a manual typewriter in High School.  They wouldn't even let us use the electric ones in typing class.  Then, at college, I started learning about computers by writing code and punching cards.  I saw some of the very first desktop computers when they came out.  From Apple.  Then there were the Texas Instruments versions.  IBM held off entry into that market until others had pioneered it.  Now, laptops and smartphones are the thing.  Couldn't do without 'em.

I guess I ought to quit complaining.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesdays are Choir Days

It's Wednesday and I am not traveling.  That's actually fairly rare during the biggest part of the year.  I frequently travel during the middle of the week.  It varies, of course.  There are times that I miss part of the weekend on the road, but, for the most part, my travel starts on Monday and ends on Friday.

It doesn't seem like a big deal that I am home on Wednesday, but, it is the day we have choir rehearsal for the church choir.  I usually make it for Sunday service but, frequently miss rehearsals during the middle of the week.  I am fortunate in that I make enough rehearsals that I've usually at least seen the piece(s) we are doing on Sunday but, sometimes that isn't the case.  There have been a few times I am sight-reading on Sunday morning.

I enjoy choir.  It is an escape.  Having rehearsal in the middle of the week is great because it is an interruption in the ho-hum that allows me an hour and a half of enjoyment (when I can make it).  You see, for those of you who don't sing, music is the language of the soul -- the heart.  It is a way to touch something divine for just a short period.

When we listen to music we want it to be good.  When we sing, it is often far less than perfect.  But, in a choral setting that doesn't really matter as much as you might think.  The combined voices often mask individual imperfections and the overall effect can be excellent even when the individuals involved are not. 

It's too bad that choral music is rarely heard any more.  Most churches have gone to praise bands.  Don't get me wrong, I like praise and worship music, but, often as not, praise bands aren't all that good.  They become exclusive because there are so few in the ensemble that only the "top" singers are selected to sing in them.  That leaves many very good singers out.  Choirs are not that way.  It is only in the very largest of churches that there is a level of exclusivity because of numbers.  In which case tryouts determine who joins and who does not.

Any way.  Tonight is choir practice.  I get to enjoy a tiny slice of the divine for awhile.  Maybe I'll even know the music!

"Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing."  Psalms 100:1-2


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Don't you hate it when the world conspires against you?  OK, that might be a little bit strong.  It was only a minor glitch.  I just don't like to say, "stop."

I managed to volunteer (I use the term loosely) to set up a series of meetings across the state for educating cattlemen.  We did a few of these meetings last year and they went over well.  A group of private companies along with some industry organizations cooperating to bring programs for educating cattlemen on new technology isn't a new thing, but, we did it in a slightly different way than had ever been done before.  It worked.  The people involved were happy and the cattlemen felt like it was time well spent based on the feedback we received.

This year I drew the short straw.  I was put in charge.  It seems strange, because generally I like to be in charge, but, I didn't want to head up this project.  Scheduling 12 meetings in 12 different locations on 12 different days over a 2-month period and coordinating speakers for 6 different time slots -- oh, not always the same speakers -- is challenging to say the least.  Plus, the world doesn't stand still so, these had to fit into already packed schedules for all involved.  And, we got a late start.  Maybe that was my fault.  Maybe it was just circumstances.  I don't know.

Anyway, to make a long story short, one of the meetings for the first week is going to have to be re-scheduled.  Circumstances beyond my control -- or, for that matter, beyond the control of anyone involved -- for a change.  I'm more of a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" type.  But, that strategy won't work this time.  Oh, well.  One out of 12 isn't too bad.....


Monday, June 27, 2011

Editing Video Clips

This afternoon was spent doing something that was new to me.  I was editing video clips.  Or, rather, I was directing the process of editing video clips.

Some time back (I think I posted about it) I was involved in the recording of about 2 1/2 hours of testimonial video from one of our customers.  The recording, etc. was funded by one of our suppliers who then used that video to create promotional DVD's about what we do.  They recently gave us access to the raw footage so that we could use it for our own purposes.

I am trying to do a couple of things with the video.  The first is to make a brief testimonial video that we can hand out to prospective customers.  Secondly, I want to cut a number of very brief -- 10 to 30 second -- sound bites from it to use in presentations or on our website.

It was a very interesting exercise in listening.  I would listen to the video and then stop the technician when there was a sound bite that I wanted to keep.  There are plenty that are great illustrations of points that I use in presentations.  The problem was more in discarding rather than in keeping.  The DVD needs to be brief.  When our supplier made their original DVD, they reduced the 2 1/2 hours of material to about 22 minutes.  I wanted something in the neighborhood of 3 to 6 minutes.  I got it down to a little over 9 minutes.  I don't know what else to cut!

It was an interesting process watching Rick (the technician) clip the video snippets that I wanted to keep.  He even took out a single word that didn't belong at one point.  I was impressed.  It went much more quickly than I anticipated.

Now, Rick will send me a link to the file that I can further evaluate.  I probably will change the order of some of what was said and think about how we will insert voice-over transitions in a few spots.  All-in-all, it was a much better afternoon than I expected.  I honestly dreaded it.  Sometimes it's good to be wrong....


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Healing Reign

I had resolved a few weeks ago to quit writing about the extreme heat and wind.  I'm breaking my resolution.  At 3:53 p.m today it was 110 degrees in Amarillo with winds at 21 gusting to 31 and relative humidity of 4%.  I'm seriously considering a trip to Phoenix to cool off.  It is miserable outside.

I walked outside earlier to take care of a couple of things that needed done and decided to beat a retreat back in the house.  I don't think I left any skin, but, in a matter of minutes I probably lost 3 lbs. through evaporation!  I think it would be a cinch making jerky out there.  Just hang it on the fence for a couple of hours......

I was thinking earlier that it was probably a lot like this during the dust bowl.  There were a couple of differences then; the air was filled with blowing dirt because of poor farming practices and they didn't have air conditioning.  I'm wondering if maybe we shouldn't do some plowing to increase the particulate matter in the air so maybe a raindrop would have a chance of forming!  Well, with 4% humidity that's not likely.  Especially when you consider the dew point is at 20 F.  I don't think it's going to form any dew tonight let alone a raindrop.

Water restrictions are becoming common across the area.  So far most cities and towns are at stage one.  It won't be long until they move to stage 2 though if the weather doesn't break soon.  That will mean mandatory restrictions. 

Floods in the north, tornadoes across the eastern half of the nation, unprecedented drought in Texas and other parts of the Southwest; sounds a bit apocalyptic doesn't it?  Perhaps it is a sign that God wants us to turn to Him for relief.  I know that in this part of the world the prayers are going up pretty regularly.  The problem is, it is mostly prayers for rain, not a true healing of this land.  Maybe God would listen more if we didn't look to Him as a "Genie" to grant our wishes and instead saw Him as the sovereign Creator that He is.  We need to seek forgiveness and healing, not just rain.  That will come when we fall to our knees before Him and submit to His reign -- not our own.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trees, Birds and the Heat

We have a number of different trees on our place -- all planted.  Nothing native.  Oh, there are no trees native to the Texas Panhandle.  It's no wonder in a year like this.  Nothing can survive without supplemental care.

It has been a challenge keeping enough water on my trees this year so, I was out this morning giving them a drink before the heat became unbearable.  I decided to call it good at 11:00 a.m. when the temperature hit 99.3.  I figured that's warm enough.  Besides, they all got a drink that needed the extra.  It's expected to hit as high as 108 today.  Yuck.

A few weeks ago -- back when it wouldn't hit 100 until around 4:00 p.m. -- I built berms around my pine trees so it would be easier to get extra water to them.  Here's a photo:

Notice how dry the pasture is around it and in the distance.  Not much green until you hit town in the distance where there are trees growing.

But, in reality, I guess I do have a few trees on the place that weren't planted by me or the previous owner.  The birds plant them.  Here's a photo:

This is a Russian Olive.  They are considered a nuisance tree by most people.  However, I like the way they look, they are hardy and they help form a good windbreak.  Notice how this one is growing in the fence row.  It's because that's where the bird sat that planted it.  These trees are great for wildlife because of the small, hard olives that they bear.

The birds eat the olives.  The passage of the seed through the acids in their alimentary canal softens the coat so that, given adequate water and soil, it will sprout and grow another generation. 

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" __ Matthew 6:26

Kinda cool huh!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

We all need a surprise at times.  We need something that interrupts the hum-drum ho-hum of the day that frequently is the mode in which we operate.  Something that breaks the routine can change one from uninspired automaton to a smiling dynamo.

It often doesn't take much to flip that switch.  It can be an unexpected smile or a compliment.  It can be a phone call that is upbeat and positive, or, it can be a chance encounter with someone you haven't seen in awhile.

Knowing the positive impact those little surprises can have on you, do you take the time to spring them on those around you?  Do you put a little sunshine into other people's lives upon occasion?  If not, why not?  It doesn't take much effort and the rewards can be great.  After all, I've noticed that it's contagious.  It might just come back to you.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Day In The Office

It was back into the routine today.  I guess.  Although it might be argued that I don't have much of a routine.  Unless you consider too much travel to be routine!

What I mean is that I spent the day in the office.  Or, at least, my temporary office while we are waiting on new carpet to be laid so that I can get into a more permanent setting. 

Since I started working from home -- only logical because of all the travel -- I have been in a temporary setup while we completed a re-model project.  It is taking a lot longer than intended.  Carpet.  Ordered.  Delayed.  Wrong.  Re-ordered.  Waiting.  Frustrated.

After being gone for a week and a half, I spent a big chunk of the day just getting through all the e-mails that had received only cursory treatment while on the road but, that needed more.  Then, at one point this morning, I had 32 new e-mails hit within a very brief span of time.  I guess all the ones I was sending out, along with the junk I can't seem to get stopped, received responses all at once.  Crazy.  Is the rest of the world all on the same clock and it's only me that's different?

It seems like no matter how much I am able to deal with from the road there are always things that need an office to get done.  Oh, well.

A few days and it will be back to a manageable level.....


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mobile blogging.

I'm gonna see how well this blogging from my cell phone works. I got out earlier this morning and took a drive. It is cool and rainy and not the ideal for outdoor activities.

The cattlemen are starting to arrive here at the hotel. It is refreshing to see the hats in the Sheraton lobby. I suspect they don't see many hats -- except the trendy kind.

Aren't trends funny? It amazes me how fads come and go. I guess people are just like sheep. They like to hang together, be told what to do, and follow a so-called leader without question.

You know, on my drive this morning I took the perfect photo for this short blog....

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Adventure Worth It

I believe in having adventures.  I mean, what would life be without a little adventure thrown in now and again.  Boring.  Just plain boring.

Now, most people dread adventure because typically that means something went wrong.  You know, getting lost, or having some kind of mishap.  So, most people tend to stay on the beaten path.  The easy way.  The highway.

Me, I like the dirt roads.  The back roads.  The, uh oh, there's grass growing in the middle kinda roads.  So, I took one today.

It was Forest Road 895 in the Routt National Forest, just a few miles south of the Wyoming line.  I headed, north, no south.....anyway, it wound around and around.  I had my trusty Garmin with me so I figured I could just keep following forest roads until the next highway on the way to Steamboat.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Garmin, but, I've found that it is nearly useless when you get off the well-traveled path.

I was doing great.  The road was good.  There was no one around -- which was perfect.  So I went on and on and was probably about 10 miles off the highway.  The Garmin showed that I would wind around awhile and end up on the highway I started on but, a good bit further south.  I didn't notice the North Platte River on the map.

The further I got, the less well-traveled the road appeared to be.  There have been recent rains and there were occasional rivulets of water (probably snow melt) and sometimes a pothole or rut filled with water.  But, the Garmin said all was good.  I kept going.

I crossed a cattle guard and the road was even less traveled but, still not too bad.  The occasional pothole with water became more frequent but, I was able to go around.  The scenery was gorgeous.  Open meadows surrounded by aspen and fir.  The occasional mud holes were getting a little worse and I was beginning to think I should turn back.  But, Garmin said it's good!

Then, I reached another cattle guard beyond which was a muddy morass.  I backed up until I could turn around and started back to the highway in defeat.  Oh, well, it was worth it just for the scenery and the quiet.  Then, ahead of me was one of those mud holes that worried me a bit on the way in.  I knew that if I kept to the high side I should be OK.  So, on I charged when, whoomp! the bottom fell out and I was stuck.  Not just a little stuck.  Seriously, to the frame, stuck. 

I got out and assessed my options.  Not good.  There was plenty of downed wood and rocks so I thought maybe I could dig down enough to build a bed in the bottom of the mud hole with the rocks and possible get enough traction to get out.  However, I was high centered and that presented a problem I wasn't sure how to address.  But, optimist that I am, and it being a long hike back to the last place I saw a human being, I started to dig and see if I could get unstuck.

I worked and worked and worked but, as fast as I could scoop the mud out of the hole, the more flowed in.  After about an hour I decided it was hopeless and started walking.

I walked about 3 miles before I met a Wyoming native in a 4WD Nissan Titan pickup.  I flagged him down to see if he would give me a ride into town (quite a few miles) to find someone to come pull me out.  He thought he could do it with his trusty Titan but, I doubted it given the depth of the hole that I was all too familiar with.  So, we drove back to where I was stuck and he said, "I think I can pull it out.  We'll hook onto the back with a chain (he just happened to have 2) and see if we can't pull you out the way you went in."  He then maneuvered around me on the high side and I got down in the mud and hooked the chain.  I think I need a Titan pickup.  It pulled me out without even spinning a tire.  I was impressed.

I then had to drive around the mud hole -- which I was able to do -- and back to the highway.  I offered to pay Matt (my Good Samaritan) but, he wouldn't take anything.  He then followed me to the highway to make sure I stayed out of any more mud holes.

Oh, did I tell you?  When I was walking up the road, I came upon a young moose munching Aspen leaves on the side of the road.  I walked to within about 100 ft. before she took off in her crazy, awkward gait into the forest.  A few photos of the trip below.  No, none of me stuck....

The moose.

A beaver lodge.

Just some scenery.

I think it was worth getting stuck.


It's Been Awhile

I am in Laramie, Wyoming, this morning.  I was just thinking about the last time that I was here.  I was twelve years old.

It was a memorable trip.  We had gone to see my grandmother and other family in Oklahoma.  My uncle and his family were preparing for a trip to Yellowstone.  They convinced my parents that we should go too.

We made a Walmart run.  Probably the first Walmart I had ever been in.  They were not nearly as wide-spread at that time.  We bought camping supplies that my uncle didn't have extras he could loan.  Then we loaded up the cars and drove.  And drove.  And drove.  Kids sleeping in the floor or on top of luggage.  We were piled in pretty tight.

We stopped in Laramie for lunch along the way.  I ate my first buffalo burger.  That is my memory of Laramie.

The time camping in Yellowstone was memorable.  It would take too much space to write about it here, but, perhaps I will add to the story in time.  Let me just say that we fished, we hiked, we saw wildlife and mountains, we were rained on, we chased off bears, we had a great time. 

Laramie.  It sure doesn't look like I remembered it.  It's kinda grown up a bit.  Much bigger.  I think the population sign showed something over 27,000.

From here I head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  I am looking forward to the drive and plan to take my time.  Maybe tomorrow there will be photos for the blog.  It will depend on the weather.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Day

It was another day of calling on potential customers.  As I drove along I couldn't help but enjoy the green.  It is beautiful here.  It rained last night and early this morning.  The high temperature was in the upper 70's.  It was absolutely perfect weather except for a little wind.  But, I'm used to wind.

I keep hearing reports from home of temperatures over 100 and winds at 20 - 30 mph and gusts even higher.  That kind of blast furnace heat is sucking what little moisture there is out of the soil.  Cities and counties are banning fireworks and starting to implement water restrictions.  Living in the country, with very dry grass all around me, I am thankful for the fireworks ban and not really affected by the water restrictions except that maybe it will leave a little more in the aquifer for the future.

Well, I don't have anything much worth saying so I guess I'll end here.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Learning Process

Selling a new product is always an interesting task.  The roll out involves months of preparation and research so that when the product is actually ready, the sales force can hit the ground running.  If the product is good and the marketing department has done their job well, it should be a joy for the salesman to begin his rounds introducing the product to his customers and prospects.

The problem is that it never goes quite like expected.

Even the most thorough market research rarely is perfect.  Sometimes, it is even misleading.  If the questions aren't crafted correctly, or if there is the slightest deficit in industry knowledge by those creating the marketing program, the sales force may be in for a challenging time.  So, I try to warn young sales people that they should spend more time learning about their product as they introduce it than they actually spend time selling it. 

What I mean is that the first few weeks of sales calls with a new product should be as much about listening and getting feedback from the potential customers than about getting them to buy what you have.

This week has been a case in point.  Part of the reason for my week of sales calls is that we are rolling out a new service in our business.  We have implemented it into our offering and for the most part, worked out the operational "kinks" that come up with anything new.  Now we are getting feedback from our customers.  That feedback will allow us to more effectively sell the product.  Yeah, I know that sounds backward to most of you who might read this, but, the real world "ain't perfect" and it proves the fact over and over again.

There was only one thing perfect that ever walked this earth and all us imperfect people hung Him on a cross.  So, I suppose I should expect glitches.....


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Expecting the Extraordinary

Most of us travel through life missing the majority of what is going on around us.  It's the rut syndrome.  We get in our little groove and go, go, go, day after day, doing the same old things and not really thinking about or, observing what is going on around us.  That's sad, because there are extraordinary things nearly everywhere.

OK, most folks will think that "extraordinary" may be going a bit far, but, I don't think so.  I am constantly amazed by what people do and have done, but, more importantly, I expect God to reveal something amazing to me every day and He frequently does.

But, for today, I'm going to stick with people-made extraordinary things.

It was another day of sales calls in rural America.  Small towns are full of creative people with big visions for their small towns.  I was "blown away" by what I saw today in Concordia, Kansas, on the side of the building that was apparently the "Cloud County Museum Annex and Travel Center."  The series of photos below will explain better than I ever could.....

I don't know how it was done, whether cast stone, or carved into the stone, but, it was a beautiful piece of art in a small town in Kansas.


Monday, June 13, 2011

A Surprise Around the Corner

Yesterday was spent on the road -- or at least a big chunk of yesterday.  I made sales calls today. 

I love making sales calls, but, management responsibilities prevent me from getting out in the country as much as I would like.  It seems there are always e-mails and reports and paying bills and personnel issues and new projects and on and on and on.....that make it difficult to get out and make sales calls.  But, I decided a few weeks ago that this week would be devoted to calling on prospective customers.

One of the things that make my job enjoyable is that most of my travel is in ranch country.  I love ranch country.  I love the wide-open spaces and the people.  I love the small towns that sometimes only have a few hundred people for population.  But, most of all, I just like to see the miles and miles of wide-open spaces dotted with cattle or.........what I saw today.

I had just made a call on a feed yard and plugged in the address of my next stop into my Garmin (I honestly don't know how sales people found some of these places before Garmin) and the directions had me turn north on a gravel road.  The gravel soon gave way to dirt and then sand.  Fortunately, it was a damp morning and the sand was OK for travel.  I was watching the screen to see what was ahead and the windshield to see if the Garmin knew where it was taking me.  It looked to me like the road was getting narrower and the occasional weeds in the middle made me wonder if I might be headed for a dead end.  In fact, ahead of me it looked like the road disappeared into a pasture.

I was wrong.  It just turned.  Below is what I saw.....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Birds in the Yard

As I'm sitting here at the computer trying to compose my thoughts into some orderly manner, I am listening to a Western Meadowlark right outside the window.  It is distracting to me.  I actually hear him nearly every morning -- either him or one of the others that hang around our place.  I enjoy his song even though it is somewhat repetitive.

There are 3 or 4 variations that he sings.  I wish that I could describe them but, it's just not possible with words.  He sings early when there is little wind.  As the winds rise he falls silent.

There are several kinds of birds that hang around our place.  Besides the Meadowlark, we have several Western King Birds.  They are the fearless midget warriors of the plains.  They will attack hawks in mid flight.  They catch grasshoppers and pin them to the barbs of a barbed wire fence.  They will dive at you if they think you are going to go near their nest.  We also have a couple of Mockingbirds that hang around.  And occasionally we see a few Bobwhite Quail.  I always enjoy the quail.  Especially when one sits on top of a fence post calling to his tribe.

Of course there are other birds.  There are numerous varieties of sparrows, the occasional cowbird, lots of grackles, and a few hawks.  There are species that migrate through annually such as robins and the occasional bluejay.  I really enjoy seeing the "rare" ones for our area though.  Like a cedar waxwing, cardinal, house wren, or hundreds of others that I can't name.  We have a couple of bird identification books that are kept near at hand.  When we see a bird we don't immediately know we try to identify him from the books.

I wonder why birds interest us so much?  Is it their song?  Is it the mystery of where they have been and where they are going?  Is it that we long for their freedom?  Could it be that we envy their flight and their seeming joy as expressed in their songs?  I don't know, but, I do know that birds facinate me just as they do many people.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" -- Matthew 6:26


Friday, June 10, 2011

Pondering Blogging and Neighbors

I decided last Saturday morning to try and post something every day on this blog.  This is day number seven.  A week isn't very long and yet it has sometimes been difficult, even in that short span, to come up with something new to write about each day.

When I first started the blog, on February 8, 2007, I resolved to post something every day for 30 days to establish the habit of blogging.  I missed very few days for the first year.  I guess part of my struggle with what to write each day is that over time since that beginning, I have posted (counting this one) 590 entries and it is very easy to be redundant.

This morning, one of the things that comes to mind is Facebook.  Earlier this morning I was having a Facebook chat with Hama, our guide when I went to Niger in 2009.  He is now working as a translator for a Children's Hospital in Niamey.  I also had a message through our graduating class group regarding plans for a reunion this summer.  Yesterday, I traded messages with a classmate that I haven't seen since our 10-year reunion -- which was more than a few years ago.  Also this morning, I exchanged comments with a friend who is passing through Boston and then wished a happy birthday to a musician friend who just got back from a tour.

When I stop and think about those things I marvel at the wonderful utilization of technology.  With a laptop computer, the Internet, and a social networking site like Facebook, the world is literally at my fingertips.  Yet, in many ways we are out of touch with the people next door.  It seems that it is easier to chat with a friend in Niger over the Internet than it is to walk over to the neighbor's house and say, "Hi!"  Just something to ponder......


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morning Ritual

In goes the water,
Then come the grounds.
I'm listening to
The percolator sounds.

I smell the aroma
Filling the air,
Then sip the first cup
As I sit in my chair.

I take a deep breath
And let out a sigh,
I guess I'll drink coffee
'Til the day that I die.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Artistic Bent?

Those of you who know me well, know that there is a little streak of the "artistic" in me.  No, I can't paint (except in broad strokes from a can) or draw (well, do stick figures count?), but, I like the arts.

I suppose the fact that I write probably gives away the "artistic" streak in me.  Writing (non-technical) is certainly considered part of the arts.  Especially poetry -- although one might consider most of my "poetry" as more of a rhyming prose than the elegant stuff of "real" poetry.  And I admit, most of it is average at best, but, occasionally, like the monkey at the typewriter, I'm bound to produce something of merit just out of sheer volume.

But, back to the "artistic" nature.  I've always seen art in the world around me.  To me, trees can be a tremendous representation of God's art.  Especially those that are twisted and bent by the elements.  Of course, flowers, mountain scenery, seashores and the like also come to mind when one thinks about art in nature.  But, I also see art in some oddball things.  Take for instance the photo below.

OK, you say, what is artistic about that?  (Disregard examples of modern art that you've seen hanging in galleries throughout the world.)  I don't know if I can answer that question.  But, when I look, I see art.  Others just see a piece of wood to which various layers of paint are still sticking after it has been scraped in preparation for a new coat.  Oh, well.  I guess it's kind of like the old saying that "one man's junk is another man's treasure."  It's all in the eye of the beholder.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Opening of "Texas"

One of my favorite places in the country is Palo Duro Canyon which is conveniently located about 20 minutes from where I live.  The photo above was taken from the overlook before driving down into the canyon this past Saturday for the season opening performance of Texas.  We went with a friend and his wife from Wellington, Texas, and one of his co-workers from Australia.  The performance, as usual, was outstanding.

We went early and enjoyed the steak dinner before the show (which, if you go, I highly recommend that you get tickets for the dinner as well as the show).  Our friend from Australia remarked that portions in the U.S. are unusually large.  In Australia, restaurants serve much smaller portions.

This year's program is filled with the art of Jack Sorenson of Amarillo.  You can view his web page here.  It just so happened that Jack was at the performance and signing autographs.  I was sitting next to him and his wife Jeanne.  They were very open and friendly and a joy to meet.

The play this year was very impressive and the talent outstanding.  It had been a couple of years since I saw the play and the changes to the script are excellent.  One scene gave me a little heartburn though.  The prairie fire.  I know it was well contained, but, with all the fires we've had this year and the extremely dry conditions of the area, I was more than a little nervous as the very realistic fire scene played.

People from all over the world view the play "Texas" each year in Palo Duro Canyon.  At each performance they give away a small gift to the person who traveled the farthest distance to be there.  In fact, Dave Yurik, the Director, announced that in the history of the performance, the prize has never been given to someone from within the United States.  We felt certain that our friend, who is from Brisbane, Australia, would win the prize.  He didn't.  It went instead to a couple from South Africa.

Y'all go see it!


Monday, June 6, 2011

A Scheme or Something Else?

Have you ever noticed that once you start into a repair project you almost always find something else needing repair?  Many times in this blog I've written about to-do lists, re-modeling, or things of that nature.  But, for some reason, this year I can't seem to whittle the list down -- it keeps getting longer instead.

I look back at the things that I have gotten done in these last few weeks/months and feel gratified that progress has been made -- many projects completed or well on their way (perhaps waiting on someone else to do their part -- like the carpet we ordered and are waiting on).  Yet, I look at my list of projects and it seems that for every one that I have completed, there have been 2 or 3 added.

There's got to be a life lesson in there somewhere.  I'm trying to figure out just what it is.  It's almost as if we are discouraged from trying to make things better because work begets work.  Hmmmm......maybe that's it.  The devil doesn't want us improving our lot in life so, when we do something positive, he hits us with discouragement.  Or, maybe it's something more mundane like the natural decay of everything with the passage of time.....and the aches in my muscles warn me that I'm not immune......

Just thinkin'......


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cargo Shorts

I'm not one to wear short pants
For me it's boots and jeans,
But sometimes in the summer months
It's just too hot it seems.

So I got some cargo shorts
With pockets everywhere;
They're fairly long and only worn
At home where I don't care

Who might see my pale white legs
That connect me to my feet
That sometimes sport some sandals
To make my outfit complete.

But, yesterday, it seemed the thing
As I worked out in the yard
To wear those shorts and sandals
While toiling oh, so hard

Beneath the beautiful sky so blue
With high thin clouds above
And of course the crazy wind
That I have grown to "love".

And I kept thinking through the day
These shorts ain't too bad!
They're so much cooler than the jeans
I'm known for since a lad.

But last night when I took a shower
My legs and feet did sting
That until the water hit my hide
Felt fine as anything.

And now I see them red as beets,
Not legs so much as feet,
In funny splotches patterned by
Those sandals and the heat.

And I remember why I don't
Wear shorts out in the sun.
The sunburn there upon my skin
Really isn't fun.....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Those Waskley Wabbitts!

The drought here has had a definite impact on the cottontails and jackrabbits around our place.  They have nothing to eat out in the pasture.  It still looks like the dead of winter and contains no moisture.  In fact, I have it so short that most of them have moved on to the neighbor's places because there is no cover for them on my small acreage of grass.

To the south of me though, is what was once CRP that has been taken out of the program and has been the home to 8 horses and a jack for the past couple of years.  It still has some grass -- in clumps -- where the jackrabbits and cottontails can hide.  They can't quite reach the water in the tank from which the horses drink though, so, they come to the one place where they can get moisture -- my lawn.

I have the green oasis in the midst of the unbroken sea of amber that surrounds me.  It is green because my sprinkler system (I am so thankful for an automatic underground system) keeps it that way.  But, each morning, it also forms a dew thanks to our cool nights.  So, the rabbits come on over for breakfast and a sip of water.

My lawn shows the damage.  Of course, I don't have to mow as frequently because of their foraging, but, they don't eat it evenly.  It seems they like certain areas better than others.

Those of you who know me know that I grew up where rabbits weren't necessarily looked upon as cute little bunnies but, as full-blown pests.  That attitude has stayed with me through the years.  I guess the words of my grandfather sum it all up when he once told me, "Five jackrabbits will eat as much grass as a cow.  I can't make any money feedin' jackrabbits."

So, I keep my sons' pellet gun by the back door.  I can't even seem to thin 'em out!  I guess what they say about the reproductive capabilities of rabbits must be true......

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Hint of Moisture

There was the smell of rain
On the air last night
And a touch of cooler weather

The promised moisture
Only came near
But, left us dry as ever

And today again
The wind does blow,
The sun is bright as ever

But, finally now
We've had a glimpse
Of perhaps some better weather