Monthly Archives: January 2012

Rain fills pond

Three days ago rain came to the area and I received about 4.5 inches of moisture.  The pond, seen above, rose three feet from run-off water.  Many areas of Texas, not just central West Texas, received sufficient rain to fill lakes and ponds.  The run-off was severe and water flooded roads.  Burn bans have been lifted.  I have read news reports that the drought has been lifted.  My pond has not been this full in over two years.

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Filed under Weather

Wind and flag football

URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX 206 PM CST SUN JAN 22 2012 …A WIND ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR MOST OF NORTH TEXAS THROUGH 7 PM… .A POTENT UPPER LEVEL SYSTEM MOVING NORTH OF THE REGION IS SPREADING VERY STRONG AND GUSTY WINDS FROM WEST TO EAST ACROSS THE REGION. WEST TO SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL BE SUSTAINED FROM 20 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS OF 40 TO 50 MPH. THE STRONGEST WINDS WILL OCCUR IN THE AREA GENERALLY ALONG AND WEST OF INTERSTATE 35/35E.

I read the weather forecast last night, fearing an outbreak of fire with such oxygen rushing through dry brush and grass.  From the back porch, I see eight miles to the Cross Timbers hills and ridge lines toward Stephenville and Hannibal.  Neither smoke nor fire can be seen, only dust and the affect of wind.

I seek to take photographs that will reflect the aridity, the drought conditions as well as today’s fierce wind.  As I have written before in another post, if you wait for the wind to die down or cease in Texas to work, you will never get anything done.  True.  A good pair of sunglasses and sunscreen provide protection as well as a sense of humor to work and play here in central West Texas.  To play hard and lose one’s self, one forgets the wind.

In the 1970s, at holidays with family in the Panhandle, near Canyon, Texas, we played football after dinner (served at noon), and we played with windy conditions.  Across a large front yard providing turf for, say, forty yards of a playing field, we had to compensate for the strong prevailing winds out of the southwest or northwest — low, short passes.  The teams were co-ed and young wives and female cousins ran and fought for every yard along side their husbands and relatives — one female cousin became a colonel in the Marines.  Touch football rules prevailed, sometimes flag football with a bandanna hanging out of our blue jeans.  The wind begone, we played anyway.  Of course, we forgot about the cold and wind as we played together at Thanksgiving, Christmas and once in the summer.

Here at the ranchito, the wind blows today, but there are no contests in the front yard, only birds tucked fast in the branches of the live oaks or nestled in pasture grass.  Here are some photos I took about an hour ago.

This view is towards the southwest, showing the dust in the distance and the leafless trees.

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Wind whipping grass blades on terrace.

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View towards Lilly's rock cairn and the Blue farm beyond the mesquite tree line.

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Looking towards the west.

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From the back terrace, I shot a thirty-second video of the landscape to the southeast.  Not much excitement in the footage, but it’s the middle of Winter.

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Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Recollections 1966-1990

Succulents at Boyce Thompson Arboretum by Rebecca

Photo by Rebecca in the Woods blog at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Phoenix, Arizona (2012).

I like succulents because if I don’t I’ll be surrounded by plants I don’t like out here in central West Texas.  On the positive side, succulents adapt and survive in harsh climates, reflective of every species on earth at one time or another.  Natural selection, I think it is called.   Rebecca of  Rebecca in the Woods blog snapped several photographs of succulents at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, near Phoenix, Arizona, a couple of weeks ago.  The link above will take you to her blog where you can see more photographs of succulents.

I have yucca on every terrace outside my house.  At last count, I had about one-hundred pale-leaf yucca sprouting blossoms in the spring time.

Rebecca has, within the last year, relocated to Wisconsin from Georgia.  She studies nature and this last holiday season she sojourned to Arizona and other places in the Southwest.

From her ‘About’ page:

A small-town girl from Ohio, Rebecca Deatsman received her Bachelor of Arts in zoology and environmental studies from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2009.  After graduating, she worked on bird research in rural Saskatchewan and the Australian Outback before returning to the U.S. to pursue a career in environmental education.  She began blogging in March 2010 as an outlet for her love of writing and natural history. Currently she is working toward a Master of Science degree in natural resources – with an emphasis in environmental education – at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, through an off-campus fellowship program at Conserve School in the Land O’ Lakes area.

Elsewhere on the internet, she can be found on Twitter as @rebeccanotbecky.

Her blog is worth a visit and a visit and a visit…

Here are some of my photographs of succulents outside my backdoor:

Pale-leaf Yucca, Flying Hat Ranch, Texas, photo by J. Matthews.

Pale-leaf Yucca, Y. pallida, photo by J. Matthews.

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Filed under Succulents

Notes face-down: bipedalism and scanning the savannah

(Contrary to the suggestion proposed by my daughter, Wendy, I will not be making the accompanying photograph in this post my latest profile picture.)

Bipedalism came first, then the large brain among the history of primates.  The upright stance allowed man to scan the savannah, edges of forest and plains, or wherever he had wandered for food and predators.

I haven’t posted since December 27, 2011, mainly because I have had eye problems (really, only the left eye) since December 25th, Christmas morning, and a “Ho, ho, ho,” Christmas gift I desire to return, but can’t!  I woke up that morning with blurred vision caused by a macular hole in my left eye.  This last Tuesday, January 10th, I received a vitrectomy at Arlington Day Surgery Center, under the skilled hands of Dr. David Callanan (Dr. Wu administered the pharmacological agents — much appreciated).

I may still be bipedal, but I have assumed the position of a face-down recovery period lasting five days or more so that I neither can scan the savannah nor see the quacking ducks on my pond.  I cannot have any hard spirits during my ten-day recovery, but that is not as painful as it may seem to some.  I have this nature blog and like to go out into the field, but the only nature I see are house plants, two dogs and trees outside my living room window.  I take a new interest in bugs that infrequently cross the floor.

I took a picture with my iPhone immediately after surgery and this is what I look like.  I spend most of my days face-down in a specially-designed “chair” and a bedside rest for my face that is like those contraptions in massage parlors for your head as you get your massage.  Dr. Callanan predicts a 90-95% recovery of vision in my left eye with another operation for cataracts in about a year (cataracts — Nile River, Egypt). 

So, I will not be hiking the grove or taking photos of juniper any time soon.  Medical technology and habitat adaptations, however, have come a long way since primates first scanned the savannah.  I’m in a safe wikiup, been worked on by medicine men and women, have taken drugs and have nature outside my window.  My hearing and tactile senses are sharpened.  I listen for the Sandhill Crane that may fly overhead.  I brush my canine that barks at strange sounds at the edges of camp.  Although I question that human society has progressed, today with the skills brought to bear in my life I think in some areas we have progressed.

(Note:  please do not show this photo to your children as it may cause nightmares or sleep unrest.  Oh, go ahead, give the little primates a scare and make up a good narrative while you are at it.)

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Filed under Christmas, Sandhill Crane