Friday, July 24, 2015

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Second Wave of Wildflowers

Trip buddy Pat Angeley arrived right on time. We were looking forward to the second wave of wildflowers in the Hill Country, myself having enjoyed the blue bonnets earlier. Bland overcast skies followed us, which kept me from wanting to stop every five minutes to take a picture of the yellow buttercups dotting the ditches. I have come to realize that clouds add so much interest to the photo composition, so a plain sky makes it easier to just keep on driving.

Which we did; kept driving, I mean, and this is what we saw:


Later we sort of cheated and found flowers at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg.
We also came across these pink flowers and have no idea what they are. But they looked pretty.
Blue bonnets were still out, but the red gaillardias and various yellow flowers were coming into their own.
In Kingsland I have found a hidden place that is always good for a photo op, digging up an occasional cactus, and catching a glimpse of a white flag as white-tailed deer flee the scene.
Courthouses are always interesting, especially the older ones. We saw this one in Johnson City, county seat of Blanco County,
and then discovered this rather plain one in the city of Blanco, also in Blanco County. Turns out they moved the county seat from Blanco to Johnson City in 1890, and the original court house was forgotten. Sometime in the recent past, it has been turned into a visitor’s center, offices, and events venue. A few trees and a little landscaping would dress it up considerably.
As we left the Hill Country on the way home, we passed big patches of wine cups like we are used to seeing patches of blue bonnets. I had never seen this many together before and again was tempted to take a picture each time we passed yet another batch of them.
And then the closer we came to Muleshoe, the more yellow buttercups we saw again, our answer to blue bonnets.
These little purple flowers, which I have heard called Tahoka daisies, but which I think are a wild aster, could also be found close to home.
So if we look, we can enjoy wildflowers right here in West Texas.

But road trips are always seductive, and since the grass always seems greener elsewhere, or in this case, the wild flowers seem brighter in the Hill Country, I suspect wild flower trips will never go away.

And that’s not a bad thing. You can never see too many wild flowers.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Welcome to Lifetree Cafe

We have a new program at our church, First United Methodist Church in Muleshoe, a Monday night gathering for people to come and visit with people they know, people they haven’t met before, people they may know but not well, people who aren’t there to judge them, but to talk, visit, discuss, and perhaps find insight to issues that affect their lives or might just be interesting topics for discussion.

This is not a cafe that serves food, although snacks and drinks are available. This is a cafe that strives to provide interesting stories and thoughtful conversation. Food for the soul, if you will. Sometimes we all feel lost  or undecided when facing issues and dilemmas in our lives, and talking about them, unloading the hurt in our hearts, considering perspectives from other angles can many times help clarify how to deal with those issues. And sometimes it is just nice to visit, to talk to someone who is not there to be judgmental or solve your problems for you, but to just allow free discourse that may take a burden off your shoulders and give you some relief.
Lifetree Cafe meets in our transformed parlor on the north side of the building. You can enter by the back door facing the back parking lot or the front door on the north and people will be there to steer you in the right direction. I think the front door by the sanctuary may also be open, but I always come in the back door, so I’ll admit, I am not sure! Dress is casual, come as your are; the important thing is to be there, not to worry about a dress code.

A leader takes the group through a video which presents a topic and then group discussion and participation follows. All kinds of topics are discussed; some that have already been considered were overcoming tragedies in your life; how to deal with the loss of a loved one, how do you realize what it is that God wants you to do with your life, what makes relationships tick, even pros and cons of gun control.  The rest of this month discussions will cover these topics:  Can God Love a Mess Like Me?; Where’s the Justice?; How to Pay Attention; and Low-Cost-No Cost Adventures.
The conversations start at 7 pm on Monday evenings, First United Methodist Church, 507 West 2nd Street. You don’t have to be a member of our church, or any church. You don’t even have to have an abiding faith in God. Come as your are, have some refreshments, make new friends, visit with old friends, be prepared to laugh, exchange viewpoints and ideas without criticism or pressure, and yes, sometimes cry a little to get the weight of the world off your shoulders. You will be out in an hour, but feel free to hang around and just enjoy a little unstructured socializing afterward.

And don’t worry about being expected to answer to roll call, join FUMC or give a love offering. That is not part of the agenda.

Come and give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Consider the Forgotten Phone Book


I needed a phone number for a business in Kingsland the other day, so I picked up the Picayune Area-Wide Phone Book we had brought home with us from the lake, went to the yellow pages under Satellite systems, and Boom, there it was, a listing for the business I wanted. Easy as pie.

Then just this week as we were driving to Lubbock, Bill needed a number for a person in Muleshoe, so I reached behind the car seat and retrieved a Muleshoe phone book we carry in the car for just such occasions. Turned out the person in question was not listed, so the alternative was to use my relatively newly-acquired I-Phone (which I have a like-hate relationship with) and find the number in the white pages on the Internet. A process I am sure is easy for those of you younger than I, or those of you who think smart phones are the greatest inventions since sliced bread-oh, wait, even that reference dates me- took from Sudan to Littlefield for me to finally find the number in question. Then I couldn’t get out of the white pages to look for something else. As I said, I haven’t had the phone too long and am still learning and don’t avail myself of its many options because I still find it easier to do things the old fashioned way-like use a phone book-which is easier and faster.

The thing is, while I had that phone book out, I flipped through it and rediscovered the wealth of information phone books contain. Information which people who scoff at the lowly, old-fashioned phone book will never realize is right there at their fingertips ready to be of service without losing one’s patience and gaining a headache in the process. Phone numbers and addresses of the general population and businesses are a given, but if you bother to look, all kinds of listings are included that from time to time will come in handy. Phone numbers and addresses for schools, city, county, state, and federal government offices, government officials, local and national area code maps,  local area street maps, a street index, emergency numbers, hospitals, and other things, all right there for easy access. All you need to know to use the phone book is the alphabet, and I know you know that to use your smart phone. What you don’t have to know is all the tricks and steps and icons and crap, not to mention being in a strong service area, to make the fancy phone work.

The problem with phone books now is that as the world goes to cell phones, not all phone numbers are listed in the old phone books, and that’s the catch. I don’t know this for sure, but I am guessing that cell phone numbers can all be found on the Internet, so that’s where people now look for all numbers, foregoing the tried and true paper phone book. And I know the city street maps in phone books can be ignored in favor of Google maps, but looking at a map on a small cell phone screen is just not as effective as seeing the area in question on a bigger map. And Google maps don’t always show you what you need to see anyway.

So let’s say you become frustrated with your elected officials and wish to register a complaint. Don’t use the lame excuse that you don’t know how to get hold of them, or don’t even know who they are- and yes, I know some of you don’t-all you have to do is pick up a real phone book, look under the table of contents, find your person under Government Officials, and make that call. And while you have the book out and open, take the time to look through it and be amazed and surprised at all the information you never knew was there.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Greenest Green

Took a little trip to the Hill Country last week. Spring hits earlier there than here, and the usual photo op involves scores of wildflowers. Blue bonnets were in attendance, but it was the fifty shades of green that had me making predictably unsafe stops along the highway trying to capture and document them all. And this is one of my very favorite shots.

Green was everywhere, and I was seduced at every turn with yet another shade, another stunning masterpiece of color that would be fresh, bright, and lovely today, only to turn to darker, more mature greens tomorrow. The first colors of Spring don’t last long, you know; I guess that’s why it is such a precious season of the year.

These alpacas were just too cute to pass up, and they also had a nice green pasture, so I had to stop and take their picture.
Robert Frost knew of what he spoke; nature’s first green truly is gold.

And it is definitely fleeting. I hope you haven’t missed it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Yes, We Have Snow!

Weather reports are saying we were blessed with five inches. Drifts are even deeper. and flurries are still coming and going. Mari and Porche were suffering from severe cabin fever, so I had no choice but to bundle up and brave the cold, camera in hand. Or stuffed into the front of my jacket for protection until a photo op presented itself. So let me share with you what our world looks like right now.
This is the Wyoming cactus bed. No doubt they feel right at home under all this.
My work bench is under the shed, but that didn’t stop the snow from covering it.
As I was taking these shots, it was 10 degrees with wind chill that made it feel like –1 degree. It has actually warmed up now to 14 degrees and wind chill of just 2 degrees! I can’t imagine what it must feel like in places like North Dakota whose snow puts ours to shame. The sun is not out, but it is so bright out there right now that if I took another picture, the whiteness would overexpose the picture. The reflection off all that white is so much that it is not pleasant to look at it. Where did I leave my sunglasses?
Snow is snow, and yet every year I take more snow pictures. Because just like every snow flake is supposed to be unique, every snow fall creates a new world to save in pictures. And I always seem to be up to the task.