Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Saucer Runneth Over


Here at the Boggy Thicket we have three Saucer Magnolias (magnolia soulangeana) of various sizes in the yard.  I was really afraid we had lost them all to the drought this summer.  When we returned from our trip, all of them looked terrible, but the smallest looked the worst; it had dropped all but four of its leaves, and one of them was turning brown.  The other two magnolias looked bad, but not that bad – they were at least planted where they had the benefit of full shade most of the day.

Once home, we started watering them all daily, and hoping against hope that somehow they might survive.

Then the little one began to bloom!

That smallest Saucer Magnolia may be the most important plant in our yard.  It was given to us as a remembrance when our daughter passed away, and Honey and I both refer to it as “Shanna’s Bush.”

I wasn’t sure at first whether the blooms were a good thing or not – were they a sign of renewal or the last gasp of a dying plant?  I’m hopeful now - the blooms have fallen and there are a few new leaves opening on the stems.

The other two have now bloomed as well.  All of the blooms had slender petals that made the flowers really sad and scraggly looking, but I’m not complaining  If they all do survive – and it looks like they might - it will be a minor miracle.

Monday, August 29, 2011

La Mordida


The Boggy Thicket’s closest source for fast food is New Caney, Texas, about eight miles west on FM 1485.

Yesterday, I noticed that we have a new taqueria sandwiched in a strip center between Godfather’s Pizza and Subway.  I’m sure we’ll try it eventually - the closest decent Mexican food is another 10 miles away - but I have some serious reservations. 

The problem is that the owners have named their new place La Mordida.

Now, I am not as fluent in Spanish as I should be, but I do know that from here to Mexico, mordida most commonly means a bribe to a corrupt official. 

Literally, mordida means bite, but it often carries a very negative connotation. Just plug the word into Google image search and you’ll get pictures of sharks, snakes and dogs biting people, and lots of images of people biting people, images of vampires and cannibals.

I have to wonder why they chose that name from all the infinite variety of things they could have named their restaurant.  When I build up my nerve, I guess I’ll have to go find out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Enough For You?

Well, looks like we made it after all. 

According to this morning’s on line edition of the Houston Chronicle:

It's another scorcher for the record books: Houston tied its all-time high temperature Saturday as the mercury soared to 109 degrees at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Only once, on Sept. 4, 2000, has Houston recorded such a torrid temperature. The sweltering day capped an August that was the city's warmest month on record with 26 of the 27 days reaching at least 100 degrees.

The warmth blanketed southeast Texas on Saturday.

Even Galveston reached 100 degrees, something that's only happened about a half-dozen times in that city's long history. Beach crowds had thinned out considerably, but officials weren't sure if it was the weather or the return of school year that kept families home.

The Weatherbug app on my laptop only showed a high of 108° at IAH, but Id rather take the Chronicle’s word for it- if it’s going to be that darn hot, we should set a record.  I do know that, in spite of relatively cool temperatures in the morning that made us doubt the chances of a record setting day, it did get very hot in the afternoon and early evening – and it was still 88° at midnight.  The light breeze seemed to work just like the little fan in our convection oven.

Saturday, August 27, 2011



Last night the weathermen were predicting a high today of 106° – with a possibility of matching or even exceeding Houston’s all-time record high of 109°!

As of 10:45, it’s only 91° and the predictors have backed off to a measly 104° – It is still going to be miserable, but no chance for a record.  Might as well be reporting the temperature in Celsius.

Friday, August 26, 2011



As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, a member from Virginia posted a question on the RV Net Forum this morning asking where would be the best place to park his new motor-home.

The first (and probably the best) reply he got was - - -


Thursday, August 25, 2011



Yesterday evening the sky turned black, the wind gusted to 40+ mph, limbs fell and we lost our lights momentarily.  Horizontal lightning danced across the sky from horizon.

Finally, when we were sure this was going to be another false alarm, the rain began to fall.   We heard that it rained once in July, but we were out of the state and didn’t actually see it.  This was the first precipitation we’ve actually witnessed since – when was it?  January?

It rained hard for about half an hour, then settled down to a slow light rain that continued for a couple more.  It was actually sprinkling when I got up this morning, and I am hearing a frog singing outside the window for the first time in months. 

I’m not sure it is enough to save the  yard and the azaleas – it may be too little, too late – but I’ll bet we see our first mosquitoes of the summer before the week is out.

Speaking of rain, here is an excerpt from an article Greg Fish wrote in his BLOG.

Let’s say that you and a friend go outside and he insists that if he stands in one exact spot, it will never rain in your city. He’s sure because he read it in a book which said that rain can be warded off by humans standing on some exact geographic coordinate and that book was completely accurate because it said that it was in a lengthy preface. You decided to take him on his challenge and wait if it will rain. Sure enough, a few hours into this exercise, rain comes and your friend gets soaked. Gee, that didn’t work, you say. Your friend says that he probably just got the instructions wrong, goes back to the book, stands in a new spot, and waits. Again, rains come as he keeps repositioning himself, rereading his book over and over again. Meanwhile, you start doing some experiments and talking to meteorologists, and find out that where someone stands in a city hasn’t the slightest effect on whether it rains or not. Newly educated, you return to your soaked friend and tell him that he doesn’t have to do what he’s doing anymore because you did a lot of research and discovered that his ideas won’t work, so he may as well come in, dry off, and you can do something else. But your friend growls that you must be too lazy to help him confirm his notions which is why you went off and found a way to say that it’s just impossible and that all he needs as proof of this assertion is that you changed your mind.

Now, normally, you’d call your friend obstinate and proceed to criticize his ideas as erroneous. Sure, you may have thought it was possible at first but you learned, you changed your mind based on evidence, and you can now move on to other things. He’ stuck and insists on being stuck, angry at those who decided that his ideas are very unlikely to work. And funny enough, few people will object and come to your hypothetical friend’s help by praising his devotion to his notions when the topic is influencing rain. Change it to religious beliefs and all sorts of justifications are invented for the friend in question. How dare you call him obstinate? How dare you call him stuck in the past? Can’t you see how devoted and passionate he is about his faith? Can’t you do the right thing and respect his beliefs by not telling him about what you found? Why do you insist on challenging his cherished ideas with something you recently found out? Who asked you to go and find things out anyway, can’t you see he’s happy the way he is? Despite how much we seem to prize learning new skills and trying a new concept every now and then, when it comes to religious matters, learning is suddenly the enemy and an engaged, curious mind looking to learn something new and update what it knows is viewed as a poison. We change what we think we know every day on almost every possible topic. And yet somehow, we decided that all this learning must now cease when religion is brought into the picture. Why? Because we said so.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pets, Health and Longevity

puppies 2[2]

For years we have seen articles telling us that pet ownership can add years to our lives, but today there is a piece that says that ain’t necessarily so - Here.

We love our pups, and 90% of the time they bring joy to our lives, whether that add years or not.  Of course, the other 10% of the time, they’re a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We have a pair of donkeys that have been roaming the neighborhood since we got back home to Boggy Thicket.  They are a pair only in the sense that there are two of them and they’re always together; one is tall and slender with a short sleek coat, while the other is very short and stocky – it may be a miniature - with a shaggy coat that would look more appropriate in the dead of winter.

Their home pasture is about 1/2 mile north of us and visible from our back yard, but they don’t stay there anymore.  They are more likely to be at the O'Donnell's  across the street, where the tall one has learned to tilt the bird feeders to empty all the seeds; or next door at the Graff’s, enjoying a cooling dip in their pond.  So far, they seem to be wandering the neighborhood in search of green grass and water each day, and then returning home each night.

So why are they wandering, and why are they not getting what they need at home?  I got the explanation from a kid who was borrowing my floor jack to change a tire.  “They belong to my uncle,” he told me “but right now he is in jail for setting his house on fire…He was having some family problems.”


Monday, August 22, 2011

EMAIL from Malaga

Not much to talk about today – just the ongoing heat and the drought, and I’m sick and tired of even thinking about that.

The most exciting thing that’s happened here is that I got an email this morning from Celia Yeary, an author from Central Texas whom I’ve never met, but who follows my blog as I follow hers.

I opened the email to read:

Hope you get this on time,I made a trip this past weekend to Malaga,Spain and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it.The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport,I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills.Unfortunately for me, I can't have access to funds without my credit card, I've made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one.I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in.I really need to be on the next available flight.

The email, obviously a scam, went on from there. 

We’ve all probably seen things like this before, but the thing that bothered me most is that the hacker undoubtedly stole her entire mailing list and there is nothing about this that makes me special at all.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Balancing Truth, Opinion and Plain Old B-S


I often wonder how anybody could be expected to form an intelligent opinion on anything if they are limited by the information available to them in the media.

Today’s example is a well researched and well thought out paper by three scholars from Columbia University on the subject of extraterrestrial intelligence – whether it exists, and the implications of various scenarios if it does.

You can read the 30-page document HERE.

One internet news outlet,  TG Daily, pulled a single line from the document to post a story headlined “Global warming 'could trigger alien attack.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

High Pressure and Hurricanes

The huge dome of high pressure continues to hover over Texas, and we continue to have record high temperatures and drought. 

I don’t know if it has anyone seriously praying for a hurricane yet– though there have been lots of joking references to that – but just about anyone who has lived through this summer would probably welcome a tropical storm.

Actually, this is historically a good day for Texas hurricanes;  not one, but two hurricanes made landfall on the Texas coast on August 18 – Alicia in 1983, and an unnamed storm (they didn’t name them back then) in 1916.

For a small storm, Alicia did an awful lot of damage, but it did bring some much-needed moisture.


On Aug. 18, 1983, the center of Hurricane Alicia moved over the Texas coast about 25 miles southwest of Galveston. It was the first hurricane to strike the Continental USA since Allen in 1980. That was the longest period in this century that the U.S. mainland had gone without a hurricane landfall (Tropical storms did hit within that time).
Although Hurricane Alicia was a small to medium-size hurricane, it was notable for the delayed post storm evacuation of Galveston Island (since the eye of the storm traveled the evacuation route up I-45 from Galveston to Houston). The hurricane was also notable for the shattering of many windows in downtown Houston by loose gravel from the roofs of new skyscrapers and by other debris.

Twenty-three tornadoes were reported in association with Alicia.
The hurricane reached a minimal Category 3 status as it hit land. Aircraft observations indicated that only a 60-mile section of the coast, extending northeastward from Freeport experienced hurricane force winds. Despite its small size, Alicia caused over $2.4 billion in damage.

On Aug. 18, 1916, a Category 4 hurricane  struck South Texas (landfall was south of Corpus Christi) coast. It was the fourth hurricane and third major hurricane of an active 1916 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricanes of that time were not given names but the 1916 storm was the strongest hurricane to hit the Texas coast since the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, and it caused 24 fatalities


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heartland Ag Report


On our recent trip from Southeast Texas to Upper Michigan and beyond, we saw many thousands of acres of crops in the field, and with the exception of a few places – mostly in South Dakota – where flood waters had drowned crops or prevented planting, everything looked great.

We saw fields of wheat and soybeans, potatoes and sugar beets and popcorn, rice and peanuts, and hay fields full of sorghum and alfalfa. 

And we saw miles and miles of corn fields – already being harvested in the South, and just beginning to tassel in the Upper Midwest.

In those corn fields we saw sign after sign for Ethanol and/or Bio-Diesel.  Almost makes you wonder if there will be any left to eat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Again

Back home Sunday afternoon, and things are almost back to normal.  Trips to the Post Office and the grocery store yesterday while Honey spent most of the day washing clothes – still have to make a run to the pool supply for chemicals and mow what’s left of the yard.

Haven’t posted in a while – either because no Wi-Fi was available, or just didn’t have time.  Still trying to decide whether to re-commit to daily entries.

I left quite a few pictures from our trip posted on

Picassa.  If you’d like to see them.  (Click Here.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Peace Garden

Looking from the Peace Garden entrance toward the Tower

Visited the International Peace Garden this week.

Located on the US-Canada border between North Dakota and Manitoba, it is a beautiful idea that unfortunately fails to live up to the inspiration.  It is so far out in the middle of nowhere that it doesn’t get enough visitors to generate income sufficient to maintain the gardens as well as they should be.  It’s not ugly, but it should be better.

Still, it is a nice place to spend a few hours.  I’m glad we saw it.

The Peace Tower is on the 49th parallel half of it in North Dakota and half in ManitobaThe Peace Tower in the Garden.  Located on the 49th Parallel, the tower and the gardens are half in the US and half in Canada.