Tag Archives: Texas Wesleyan University

68 degrees with light wind — Palo Pinto County South 20 APR 11

Please link and refer to the Texas Forest Service updates, Department of Public Safety and county law enforcement officials for up-to-date information.  I am unable to enter the restricted areas and the official pronouncements have the final say in operational policies during these wildfire events.  That being said, I stand by my field observations as described herein.

At about noon, I drove to Caddo by way of SH 717 from Ranger, turned east and drove US 180 to Palo Pinto, and then back home.

The winds blew light, not brazen as they have the last few days, and the temperatures never climbed above 70 degrees for the two hours I traveled along the southern edge of the Possum Kingdom Complex Fire.  The skies are overcast and early this morning a mist fell briefly.  As I drove the F-250 near the Macedonia Cemetery on SH 717, the temperature dipped to 64 degrees.  I saw one plume of smoke west of SH 717, and then as I sped past Caddo and down the Palo Pinto Mountains towards Palo Pinto, the hot spots I have seen in the last few days were calm.

Sadly, that was not the case farther east.  I saw smoke north of US 180 east of Possum Kingdom Lake, and the Highway Patrol blockaded SH 4 out of Palo Pinto towards Graford and SH 16.  I saw power company trucks carrying new poles to replace those that had been burned.

I read that the firefighters still labor at fire lines near Graford and Possum Kingdom East.  Despite overcast skies and lower temperatures, the fight continues.  See the Texas Forest Service updates on the right sidebar of the blog.  Click on their website for additional information.

From US 180, going south on SH 919, back to the ranch, all appeared clear of wildfire and smoke plumes.  Gordon, Texas, schools were open and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway construction and repair crews were assembling machines and materials adjacent to the Gordon Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Responders.  Stowe Ford Company displayed their vehicles on their lots, a King Ranch F-250 looked especially nice.  The Stowe Ford Company in Gordon is the second oldest Ford dealership in Texas.

* * *

My wife teaches at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, and the University sent an e-mail message yesterday, April 19, 2011, to the faculty.  The Methodist Church at Possum Kingdom Lake burned and the Methodist Conference has undertaken relief efforts to the area for all inhabitants, Methodist or not.  If you are thinking about donations for the Possum Kingdom Lake Complex Fire relief, I quote the e-mail below.  I have seen the Red Cross and Salvation Army stations set up at Strawn, Gordon and Palo Pinto.  They seem to be moving with the activity and need, so there also would be an opportunity to help.

The e-mail message I quote:

More than 1,000 firefighters are involved with the situation, 21 homes are reported burned as well as Cedar Springs United Methodist Church. Rev. Jim Senkel, pastor at Cedar Springs, reports the church has burned to the ground. People are still not permitted into the burn area, but you can help in this situation. The Weatherford, Brownwood and Fort Worth districts have been asked to supply 1,500 health kits to help the firefighters and those displaced from their homes. Health kit items include:

·         1 hand towel 15” x 25” to 17”x 27” kitchen (cleaning and microfiber towels are not acceptable)

·         1 washcloth

·         1 comb (comb must be sturdy and at least 8” long/no pocket combs or picks/rattail combs and combs without handles are acceptable)

·         1 metal nail file or clipper (no emery boards or toenail clippers)

·         1 bath size soap (3 oz. and larger sizes only in original packaging/all brands are acceptable)

·         1 toothbrush (adult size only/do not remove from original packaging)

·         6 adhesive bandages (¾” to 1“ size common household sizes)

·         One tube of toothpaste

·         1 plastic bag (one gallon size – sealable bags only to hold all the items)

We are asking everyone to help out with all of the other needs. Priority 1 and 2 list items are needed IMMEDIATELY:

1.  Firefighters & Police: Water, Gatorade, chapstick, non-perishable food items, chips, cheese & crackers, Wet Wipes, hand sanitizer, aloe vera lotion, sunscreen

2.  Victims: Immediate needs are personal items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, Wet Wipes, hand sanitizer, aloe vera lotion, sunscreen

3.  Victims: Long-term needs are household items.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Weatherford District office at 1-888-423-5378 or Laraine Waughtal, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, at 254-595-1503.

Susan Briles

Mission Ministries

Central Texas Conference

464 Bailey Avenue

Fort Worth TX 76107



817/338-4541 fax


20 APR 11 Map of region traveled today. SH 717 is far west, north of Ranger to Caddo.


Correction: map caption changed. Distance legend should be 0.0 to 6.0 miles. SH 717 location identified.


Filed under Wildfire

Happy New Year! What Are We Going to do Next?

In preparation for Christmas and the New Year, stock tanks must be filled to the brim for horses, cattle, and deer.  Olivia Gywn Needham poses while filling the Pecan Tree Pasture water trough.  On this day in late November, she incessantly asked, “What are we going to do next, Grandpere?”  I ran out of chores before she ran out of energy.  Chores are play at this time in her life.  Being with Olivia makes chores enjoyable, festive, and less burdensome.  I have seen, as you have, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, bring the child into the tasks of the day that must be completed before the dark.  Integrating the child with what we have to do gives them a sense of belonging and purpose to the day, and, I think, it gives us a sense of renewal that the world just might continue to endure with a piece of us after we depart.

This young woman is Jennifer Connell, my daughter-in-law, and she is engaging Star, Sweet Hija, and Fanny (looking over Hija’s withers).  Jennifer is in her second year of law school at Texas Wesleyan University.  Recently married to my step-son, she also works at Wesleyan to help defray expenses.  As we were walking back to the ranch house, she said that she wants horses again in her life, as she had been around them growing up in north Texas.  The New Year for Jennifer will be difficult, attending school, settling into her marriage, and working.  But, beneath the stress and grind, she prevails into the year, performing in class and rewriting her notes for clarity.  The New Year for her and Michael, her husband, will bring accomplishment of goals that will set their path for the future.  Star, the paint, when Jennifer visits, will lower her blood pressure and give companionship that only a horse can do.  “There’s something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a woman.”  And, a man.

This is Brenda, my wife.  While in Santa Fe she noticed that several shops had closed and that inventory stock was down at several businesses.  Our stay in Santa Fe this year was a rest from teaching and tending our ranchito (anything less than 2,560 acres is not a ranch, see John Wesley Powell).  The New Year for Brenda will be, like mine, sacred and profane, toil and rest, sky-high and ocean-low.  Like Olivia and Jennifer, in the photos above, we will endure and with some deliberation, maybe we can occasionally play through our days and nights, finding a self-loss in the rhythm of nature’s beauty out here in the West.

To my friends, to my fellow bloggers, to my family, to my dogs and cats and horses, trees and grasses, and the wildlife of the American Southwest:

Happy New Year!


Filed under Horses