Wondering about wild grapes

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wandering down to the non-swamp.

I was asked a few weeks ago what my swamp/lake was looking like.  I decided to take my camera and let you all see it.  On the way down there I spotted where something had a meal:

It was a small animal.  What do you think it was?  It could be a rabbit, a coon, a possum, a skunk, or something else.  The skull was a little too large to be a squirrel.  This next picture is of the deepest part of the whole place.  It still has moisture in the bottom but it is more like pea soup.  To the upper left you can see the bones of what used to be a huge pig.

Here is a picture of what used to be the deepest part until I dug way down with the tractor:

Compare the above to a picture taken a few winters ago of the same area:

Enough of that, they are hoping that a tropical disturbance in the Gulf will move far enough west before turning north to give us some rain later in the week. Going to cross my fingers.

Yesterday, I stopped at the local hardware store and purchased a new 40 gallon hot water tank and a dolly to handle it with. Since I worked on the old one, it has been heating water just fine but the water has never cleared up; it is still red. I have high acid water here and also iron ore under the top soil and clay, so we have always had that problem, but the old hot water tank just does not seem to want to clear up. I thought that leaving it sit for the three weeks that we were on vacation would have let stuff settle out, but it seemed no better and in fact maybe even a little bit worse. So as soon as I post this, I am going to go drain the old one and try to get it out of the house and the new one in. They weigh more than I can lift, so will have to use my head instead of my back, or not.

Hope you all will have a better day than I am planning on having.

After Lunch Update

OK, I have been hard at work all morning trying to get that old hot water heater out of my house. I have not been able to do it. It fits in a tight opening both width and height wise. That was no big problem getting it all undone. Disconnected the water in and out and the gas and the flue. Then I tried to get it out. Has to be tilted about 30 degrees to get it out, no problem yet. Then I sees that it will not clear the gas pipe nor the water pipes that come out of the floor. Bummer for sure. I have tried blocks and pry-bars and maybe even a little bit of cussing. I give up for awhile. Will have to come up with a plan. Take down a wall maybe. . .
Even if I get it out, how will I get the new one in?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wondering about my coffee.

I like coffee and I love good strong coffee. My wife and I are opposites when it comes to coffee. She likes her coffee weak, at least to my standards. Of course, not too many people like coffee as strong as I do. The only reason I don’t order espresso is that they serve it in such a small cup and if you order 7 or 8 of them it goes over my budget.

I usually buy 100% Columbian ground and roasted coffee. I used to grind my own, but I am getting lazy. Went grocery shopping yesterday and they were out of my coffee!! I have enough for awhile, but not for too long. May have to ration it, or worse, drink regular coffee. I keep a jar of instant coffee, Kava, around to add to the regular coffee my wife makes if I don’t want to take the time to do my own. Makes a pretty good cup of coffee.

When we are on the road in the RV, we make coffee two ways. The first is coffee bags. They are just like tea bags only have coffee in them. Quick, easy, and no mess when you are going down the road or at a quick stay at a rest stop. Boil water, pour into a cup, and put a bag in the cup; two in mine. When I have time, I make my Columbian by the drip method. We have these funnel shaped things that fit over the top of a coffee cup and a coffee filter fits into them. Just put in the desired amount of your favorite coffee, pour in some boiling water a little bit at a time until the cup is as full as you want, and presto, you have coffee. In fact I use that method at home for my good, strong coffee.

I usually put four to six spoonfuls of ground coffee into the funnel’s filter, depending on the size of the cup. Sometimes, not often but just when I want something a little different, I add a spoonful of French Vanilla coffee to my Columbian. Now that makes a special rich tasting cup of Joe.

OK, now I want a good cup of coffee. Going to make a good strong cup and sip on it as I read some more blogs. Tell me what coffee you like the best, what strength, and how you make it. You all have a great day now and sit back with a cup now and then.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wondering about space travel

We got our first television way back when I was 7 or 8 years old. Of course back then there was only one TV station that we could get at the time. Since we lived just south of Butler, PA, it was KDKA channel 2 out of Pittsburgh. Even back then, my favorite programs were science fiction. I grew up having no doubt what so ever that some day man would explore the universe. Of course at that young age I had no idea how large the universe is and to think about it, I still don’t. Unless some magical never thought of type of super transportation is developed or the sci-fi teleporter can actually be perfected, we are stuck to our own solar system and then probably only to our closest neighbors, the moon and Mars.

I believe that the best chance of life elsewhere in our solar system would be on Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Europa is an ocean world covered by a layer of ice. The gravitational interaction between it and Jupiter heats Europa enough to keep the ocean liquid and a perfect place for life to form. Jupiter puts out very strong radiation that would be bad for humans and doesn’t do electronics very much good unless they are will shielded.

No matter how tough we think we are; man is fragile. Once you get up over 10,000 or more feet you will understand that you feel much better closer to sea level. Our earth’s atmosphere and magnetic flux shield us from the Sun’s dangerous radiation. The solution, let robots or machines do our exploring for us. They can go more places with less shielding and life support than man could ever dream of going. They have gone close to the sun and have either landed or flown by all the major things in our solar system and sent back information and pictures from these places. Without these machines, we would not know much about the solar system.

Speaking of these machines, how many of you remember when the two Voyager space craft were launched back 34 years ago? Do you know that they are still sending back data? They are so far away that it takes over 12 hours for their radio signals to reach us here on earth. In fact, Voyager 1 will become the first spacecraft to cross the boundary of the heliosphere and into interstellar space. BTW, the heliosphere is a huge bubble of charged particles from the sun that surrounds our solar system.

Just think, if a young astronaut, say at age 25 had been on that flight, he would be almost 60 years old by now. So now, maybe you will understand that machines are, for the time being, our best way to explore places higher than Mount Everest.

You all have an out of this world week, you here?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wondering where our visitor went.

First off, let me tell you that it got to 109 officially yesterday in Houston and since I don’t have a recording thermometer, I don’t know if it got any hotter than that here. We are usually a couple of degrees hotter in the summer and a couple of degrees cooler in the winter because we are just a little bit further from the Gulf. They are predicting a cooler day today of only 108. We will see. It was cool this morning, around 72 degrees. That is the coolest temperature I have seen in a long, long time.

OK, now about my visitor. Mr. Onion Head from Pennsylvania stopped in for a visit. He was a real sweet guy, that Mr. Head. He was just so sweet that I hoped he would stick around awhile. He was a real character, even dressed up in “Texas” style cloths to try and impress us. Here is his picture:

He didn’t need to dress up to impress us, because we know way down deep inside he was real sweet.  He didn’t stick around here very long.  I am wondering where the heck he is.  I don’t remember seeing him leaving.  This is quite a mystery; maybe you can help us solve it:

You all have a great day now, you hear?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wondering how hot it will get.

Hurricane Irene over there on the east coast is affecting us here in east Texas.  How, you say?  Well, it seems that it is causing some hot, dry wind to blow in here.  As you all know, I live in Cut and Shoot, which is north of Houston.  It always seems to be a couple of degrees warmer here than the official temperature at Houston’s big airport.  How hot is it going to get here today?  The weathermen are predicting 107 to 110 up my way and in Houston:

Therefore, I am going to keep this blog post short so we can get to the flea market early before the heat gets unbearable. I know that I shouldn’t, (and I am not going to) complain about the heat when some people are getting battered by Irene. The last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike, and I remember it well. Still can show you damage from it on my place. There are almost always tornadoes that spin off hurricanes and I believe that most of the damage on my property was caused by a tornado.

I hope all you who live on the east coast take all the precautions necessary to keep you and your family safe. Evacuate all the low areas. My property is not low but I left. My son and grandson stuck it out and wished they hadn’t.

Good luck to all in Irene’s path.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A good visit with a friend.

I told you before about the lady that we met at the flea market just up the road from us who was just visiting her son here in Texas but lived just a couple of miles from my Aunt in Pennsylvania. It is a small world. I also posted a picture on one of my blogs of her and her husband when we visited them during our trip to Pennsylvania. Remember that blog:
Well, she is back down here in Texas for week or so and we spent most of the day with her yesterday. Took her around to a few shops, stopped back at our place and had a good visit, then took her to her son’s house in time for her grandkids to come home from school. She has the cutest grandkids, a little girl just starting out in school and a boy who is a few years older. They are both smart and talented. Real nice kids and I get a kick out of them.

Yesterday was the coolest day we have had for the last few months. It actually stayed under 100 degrees, but that will not last long. Be back up over 100 today and they are predicting 106 for the weekend. I guess I should not complain, knowing what is going to happen to the east coast of the USA. That is a big storm they got heading their way,.

You all have a good day now, you hear?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wondering what that wet stuff is.

It rained, it actually rained!!!!! I can’t believe it. Last evening some light showers moved through here and we got a whole quarter of an inch of rain. I was so happy. Then this morning about 05:30 a thunderstorm hit here with some hard rain and we are still getting a light rain with thunder in the distance. It looks like it may continue for awhile. So far, we have received an inch of the wet stuff. This has answered a lot of prayers, for sure. It is probably way too late to save a lot of things, but it will sure do a lot of good for what is left alive.

For some reason, the big high pressure dome moved a little bit to the west allowing some rain to get to us. It may move back, but till then we may be getting more rain. The weather man says that the computer programs did not predict this rain and that is why it was not in the forecast. Glad to know that Mother Nature out smarted their computers.

It is only 75 degrees right now, so maybe it will stay under a hundred if the clouds and rain stick around for the rest of the day. I can’t remember a day that it didn’t go over 100. It has been way over a month or so. Even if that doesn’t happen, I am ecstatic that we finally got some rain. Maybe this broke the cycle. Let us hope so. We need a lot more rain. We normally get 40” or so of rain a year. We are about at least three feet shy of that mark and only have four months to go in this year. Who knows, maybe we will have floods the rest of the year. Texas is known for its extremes.

I am real thankful for what we got and are getting. Hope the rest of the drought ravaged areas get some rain soon.

You all have a good day, I am already having a good day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wondering where that dang skunk is living?

Every morning, the last few days when I take the dogs out, we are greeted with that warm, pungent unmistakable odor of skunks. I know the drought has been really hard on animals, but I hope the skunks I smell have not taken up residence under my home.

I was planning on setting my live trap for the critter or critters that raid my garbage cans, but now I am hesitant, since the last thing I want to catch in my live trap is a skunk. That is one problem I would rather not deal with. I would have no idea of how to get a live skunk out of my trap. A few years ago, I used it to catch possums, which I relocated four or five miles away. I swear that they kept coming back; was tempted to paint their tails a bright color so I would know if they were returning or if I just had a whole bunch of them around my place.

Man has always had to share this planet with animals. Animals were around before man and they will be around after man is gone, so we should learn to live with them in a peaceful coexistence. Sometimes this is very hard if not completely impossible. Just remember what we had to go through just to let “The Pig” share our property with us. I still expect to see her when I go out at night. But no pig and I am glad no others have taken her place. I am sure wild pigs still pass through my place, but so far, none have taken up residence. Before the swamp dried up completely, I saw pig tracks around it.

That big old pig did do some good. It cleaned out most of the underbrush and snakes. I haven’t seen any snakes for a couple of years and I used to see them all the time. I used to see cotton mouths, copper heads, coral snakes and all kinds of non-poisonous snakes, but that was before the pig took up residence here. BTW, there are rattle snakes around this area, but I have not seen any since I lived here.

After reading all the comments on the blog I posted yesterday, I am getting hungry for breakfast. Now, what should I have?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wondering; what’s for breakfast?

What is your usual breakfast? There are so many different things people like to eat in the morning, from steak and eggs to cereal and juice.

I can eat anything for breakfast but for the last year or so I have been eating the same thing. I make up a mixture that I eat with my fingers while blogging in the morning. In fact, I just now finished a bowl. Here is what I do. I start out with Rice Checks (which my dogs beg for so loose some of them) and add walnuts, dried dates, pineapple, banana chips, and oat bran sticks. This is a mixture that I really like. When I have fresh bananas I will also eat one of them first, and then my mixture. Today, I just had my mixture and it was just as good as it always is.

Have you ever had a breakfast that stood out in your memory? One time, back in late 1980 or early 1981, I flew from Houston to Indianapolis in the company jet to look at some new equipment that we were thinking about purchasing, and they served us breakfast of filet mignon and eggs on the flight up there. A nine or ten mile high breakfast on a private jet with a pilot who was a son of an astronaut doesn’t get any better than that!! We flew above all the commercial air traffic and a lot faster. It was a breakfast to remember.

But I am just as full now after my “mixture” and today’s breakfast was probably better for me. Now, tell me what you had this morning or what your usual breakfast is.

PS, in answer to Frann’s comment yesterday where she said, “I guess for a channel cat you need a channel!”  Well Fran, I would imagine that it would increase your chances if you fished in a channel and dipped the lure in Chanel #5. (grin)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wondering about catching a catfish.

I was reading Billy Bob’s Travels yesterday about him catching a big ole catfish on a spinning lure being trolled behind his bubba-boat. Here is a link to that sight: http://billybobsplace.blogspot.com/2011/08/yo-billy-bobare-ya-tired-yet.html
Well, let me tell you it ain’t as rare as you might think. I had almost the same thing happen, except I was not trolling. My buddy and I were fishing the rocks at the dam on Lake Conroe one time. I had on a Rapala lure and was trying to entice some huge lunker bass out of the rocks and deep water by casting up against a rock and retrieving it back to the boat. My buddy and I didn’t usually fish this area, but were not having any luck that day and we decided that it may be productive.

Just as I was starting to wonder if all the fish had been mysteriously taken out of the lake by a shimmering beam of light from a flying saucer (a fisherman has to have some good excuses for not catching anything), I got a big hit. I set the hooks and the fight started. I told my buddy that I had a big bass on and maybe we would need the net. It fought real hard, running this way and that and diving deep and coming up and flashing near the surface. Wow, it got my heart going and really expected to bring in a hog bass. Nope, it was a channel catfish.

As far as catfish go, they are the prettiest. If you cut their head off, they look like a trout. . . well, almost. Here is a picture of a typical channel catfish, you can judge for yourself:
This has me itching to go a fishing.  Maybe I should go purchase my fishing license.  Of course, where the heck would I find any water to fish in?  All the lakes are low or dried up, except the one that Billy-Bob is fishing on.  In this 100 plus degree heat, maybe it is better just to sit in the AC and dream about fishing.  What do you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wondering about nitrates and nitrites in my food.

I enjoy eating but I try to watch what I eat. I try to eat stuff that is good for me. I am finding out that is harder than I would have ever guessed. Let’s just take one example, nitrites. Why then, you ask, does my title include nitrates? The answer is that nitrates can turn into nitrites during digestion.

Nitrites are added to processed meats to kill bacteria, especially the kind that causes botulism. Unfortunately, nitrites also combine with amines, the natural breakdown products of proteins, to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. OK, so let us just eat vegetables. No, that will not work either. Nitrites and nitrates are found everywhere in plants, including vegetables and grains.

Here is a paragraph from http://www.ehow.com/list_5939063_list-foods-high-nitrites.html that tells what vegetables contain nitrates and nitrites:

"In terms of vegetables, green leafy ones and root vegetables contain high levels of nitrate that are converted to nitrites on ingestion. Vegetables such as beetroot, radish, lettuce and spinach have high levels of nitrate which can convert into nitrites. Lettuce and spinach have especially high levels of nitrate. You will also find nitrates and consequently nitrites in carrots as well. The levels of nitrates depend upon the age of the vegetable and how much of a nitrate based fertilizer was used on it."

Well, dang, I am hungry. Guess I will go have my nitrites and nitrates and whatever. .

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gonna go wander around the flea market

Dang, where did this week go to? I must have missed a day or two in this past week; it just can’t be Saturday already, can it? Well yes it is and it is “flea market day”. Saturday is not the “big” day at the flea market, Sunday is. There are at least twice as many vendors set up on Sunday as there are on Saturday. I am not sure why that is, but then, I am not a flea market expert.

The attraction is the unknown. When you go to Wally-World you know what to expect to see and they usually have the same things week after week. I have to admit that sometimes I find surprises there, but rarely. The flea market is different; you just never know what you are going to see. There may be a treasure or a bargain just beyond the next table. I have found quite a few bargains and so has my wife. I guess it is like hunting, fishing, and gold prospecting, it is the hunting that is enjoyable and the finding is just the icing on the cake.

Last Saturday the Indian Artist, that I like, was there. He is the one that teases me when I walk by his table by calling me Billy Gibbons. Last Saturday I stopped and told him about what happened to me in Pennsylvania when I was driving out of an RV park in my Jeep. A fellow stopped me and ask if I was from Texas. I told him yes I was. He then asked me if I played the guitar. I told him yes I did. He then pointed at me and said. “Billy Gibbons”! I said yes I am and rolled the window up and drove off laughing. I don’t know if he believed me or not and I will never know. Maybe I made his day.

Well, I am not going to take any more time on this blog today. Going to go get something to eat and then head off for the flea market. Do you all want to come along?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wondering about Root Beer and Ginger Ale.

After reading the blog that Hermit Jim posted yesterday, memories from long ago visits to Roanoke Island came popping into my head.  My first taste of that island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina came when I was kid and my parents took me to that area where we rented a beach front cottage which was shared by my uncle and his family.  That was the uncle that owned the old Gibson guitar that I posted about.

That was the first time that I saw the play about the Lost Colony. Later in life, I took my family to the Outer Banks for many vacations and took my wife and sons to see that play. And no, in case you were going to ask, I am not old enough to have rented the cottage from the English settlers from the colony. (grin)

I remember also going to an “Indian Village” set up on Roanoke Island and hearing about some of the history of that area. One thing that I remember them telling us was how bad the drinking water tasted in that area at that time. (It didn’t seem that much better to me when I was there, either) They told us that the Indians showed the English settlers how to put flavorings into the water to make it more palatable. The Indians used roots (probably Sassafras) and then the settlers started using ginger. Being from England, they were familiar with beer and ale, and therefore they named them root beer and ginger ale.

I have no reason to doubt what I was told. It made perfect sense to me and why would they make up something like that. The so called “Indian Village” was run by archeology students to earn some money to help them with excavations in that area. Everything else that we were told was based on the facts, so I also believe that there were enough facts to base the story on of how those names came about. I am sure, as with all unwritten history, there is some amount of conjecture. What do you think? Do you think it is true? We may never know for sure, just like we may never know what happened to the settlers.

You all have a good day now and don’t drink to much ginger ale or root beer. . .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wondering Why We Cook Food

Why do we cook our food? There is more than one answer to this question and there are old and new alternatives. I believe the main reason we cook food is to kill off the bacteria to make it safe to eat. Another would be to tenderize it. Some foods are just so tough that you would have a very hard time chewing them. Some other reasons would be taste, appearance, to make some more palatable. Can you think of any other reasons?

What are the old alternatives? Smoking meat comes to mind. Remember the old smoke houses that every farm used to have? Oh that’s right, I am probably al lot older than you are. Another was canning. My grandparents canned almost everything. How about salting? Salting was used mostly for fish and meats, whereas pickling was used more for vegetables, although meat was also pickled.

What are some of the modern methods of preserving food? Freeze dried comes to mind. Radiation of food works, but is not too popular with the general public. Additives to the foods give them a long shelf life. Not sure if it does the same thing to us. . . But the one most used, I believe, is freezing.

So, what will be the future methods? Anyone have any good ideas? I read about a new idea that some scientists are working with. The process is nothing out of a sci-fi movie but just plain old pressure. This fellow subjects food to 100,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. This scientist is putting an old pressure chamber to use that was originally made to make industrial diamonds. This system he uses has two chambers. The lower one has hydraulic fluid and the upper one, separated from the lower one by a piston, contains water. He puts his test subject (food) into a plastic bag and drops it into the water in the upper chamber. The hydraulic pumps are turned on and it tries to compress the water, which in turn puts the pressure on the food. As the article in Discover magazine says, “Something really surprising happens to many foods when subjected to this sort of megapressure: nothing.” The foods stay perfectly intact as do the bacteria, except the bacteria are all dead. This process doesn’t work too well for every thing, like strawberries end up squashed to oblivion.

If you enjoy very rare or raw meat, this is a blessing. You need to get one for your kitchen. The only problem is it would cut way deep into your food budget since a machine to do this process costs in the neighborhood of three million dollars. So, only large food processing companies use this system for a couple of brands of deli meat and packaged guacamole.

I think it is a great way to protect foods without destroying them or changing their taste, except for strawberries and the like. What do you think?

You all have a good day now and be careful what you eat, you hear?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I am just so brain dead.

Wow, I actually slept in some this morning; didn’t get up until 07:00. I read blogs and commented on some. But this morning, I am just so brain dead that I can’t think of good subject to write about. I was just not going to post a blog, but didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I know if some of you that post daily skip a day, I worry about you.

Yesterday it got up to 103 again here with no rain. They are putting restrictions on watering your lawn. Heck, that don’t matter here, all my grass has dried up and gone. I see rabbits looking all over the place for something to chew on. I really feel bad about all the wild-live and native plants and trees that are affected. We are now in our tenth month without rain. Actually, we got half an inch back in the winter, but a half inch is not even a drop in the bucket when you consider that we normally get three feet by now.

Sorry for such an un-interesting post today. Of course I post a lot of non-interesting blogs. I have not been doing anything interesting lately. The only outing we get is a trip to the post office to mail a card to my aunt and to get our mail.

You all have a good day and do something special for me, OK?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wondering About the Finished Painting

A couple of days ago, Sunday to be exact, I posted a blog with three of my latest paintings shown on it, two completed and the last one with just the background first coat. I told you that I would post the finished painting later, after it was done and dried enough to put in the scanner.

I am now wondering what you all think of this one, now that it is done. I call it “Arizona Desert in the Gloaming”.

I don’t think that I will paint anymore for awhile. I just paint in short spurts, two or three paintings and then it seems that I can’t find the time to do it or just don’t have any ideas. I am much better at sketching and drawing with pencils, but for some reason, I really enjoy painting; or should I say trying to learn to paint. I much prefer oil paint, but my wife can’t stand the smell of them in the house. Oil paintings are the easiest, acrylics are next, and water colors are the hardest. They all take a special technique and I suppose this list would be in a different order for different folks.

Tell me what you think of the finished painting and also tell me which painting medium you think is the hardest. Give me your list.

Now you all have a great day now, you hear?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wondering about guitars, etc.

In a recent blog I told you about the old Gibson I had the privilege to hold in my hands. It was the one that my Uncle bought back in the 1930’s and his eldest son now has it. I failed to get a picture of it at the time but my cousin was kind enough to take a couple of pictures and send them to me. He had put new strings on it before he brought it to the reunion and I used my electronic tuner on it and got it tuned perfectly. He said that it is still in tune.

Here is a picture of the body of the old Gibson:
The next picture is of my cousin holding his Dad’s old Gibson:

And remember the picture of his Dad with the same guitar?

Did you check out his footwear? Pretty sharp, that must have been what he wore when he played in his small band.

OK, since I had never taken a picture of my Ovation, I did so last night.  It is an old one, but not near as old as my cousin’s Gibson.

Twenty or twenty five years ago, I bought that Ovation used from a friend of my eldest son, who had bought it off someone else, etc, etc. Therefore, I do not know the history of it other than it had been played a lot but was good condition. I sure have enjoyed it and wouldn’t give it up.

The picture of the painting I had attempted of the misty forest at sunrise was painted using a photo out of a book as reference. I would glance at the photo from time to time to see what I had missed. I didn’t try to replicate it in its entirety, but just tried to paint something that looked close to it. Here is the photo out of the book:

As you can see, I didn’t get it all that close. Compare it with my painting that I posted in yesterday’s blog.

You all have a great day now, you hear?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wondering about some new paintings

I purchased some small 8” x 10” canvases, and decided that I would try to start painting again.  I figured that using the small canvases would be easier and quicker.  NOT SO!  It takes a lot longer to do the fine detail because you have to use such small brushes.  For example, this first one is suppose to be an up close view of the bottom of an old fence post with barbed wire and vines wrapped around it.  I added a little mushroom to give it some contrast.  I think the barbed wire ant the vines look the best.  This picture took as long to do as a bigger one would have.  The only advantage is that it would fit in my scanner and the other ones would not.

I then decided to try something different.  I wanted to try to paint a misty or foggy forest.  That seemed to work but the painting seemed too dark and needed something to brighten it up.  So I really got bold and added a rising sun peeking through a couple of trees.  That made quite a contrast and I am not sure if it helped the painting or distracted from it.  What do you think?

I just started another small painting, but this time I decided to do something a little different. My subject would be the desert and mountains of Arizona at sunrise or sunset. You know, in the gloaming; the period of time between day and night.

I decided that I would make this painting simple and easy. I took a big two inch brush and put the first layer of paint on the small canvas. It took no time at all, just a few minutes. In fact, it took a whole lot longer just to get the paints mixed to the colors that I wanted.

Like I said, this painting has only the background layer (the first layer) on it and it was done quickly and roughly. Now I will start to do the detail work, but I plan to keep it simple. Of course I don’t know what it will look like when it is done. As usual, I will probably ruin it (grin). Here is the first coat which I left dry and maybe I will start on the details today or maybe not.

Any comments or suggestions, positive or negative, would be appreciated, like the last time I put some paintings on the blog for your critique. By the way, the last two pictures were influenced from actual photos that I saw in book.  Don't forget that you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

You all have a great day now, you hear?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wondering about the drought

Since it is Saturday, I am going to cheat a little and just post one of the daily poems that I write to put in the cards my wife makes to send to my Aunt in the nursing home in Pennsylvania. Remember now, that I mass produce these (five a week) so my poetry is not very good. I just wanted to post this because it explains just how dry it is in this area. We are down over 30 inches of rain so far and still no relief in sight.

OK, here is the poem for what it is worth:

It is so very dry!!

It is so very dry here it is hard to believe
Such a sad situation, we all need to grieve.

Plants and animals are dying off, it’s such a shame
It is a terrible drought with no one to blame.

It’s so dry, writing with ink you don’t need a blotter.
And restaurants are not allowed to serve water,

Unless the patron specifically asks for a glass.
And what used to be pretty lawns now have no grass.

So if you find dust in this card, don’t be too surprised
Down here, a well with good water is really prized.

We drove through lots and lots of rain on our way back home
Just to find in Texas a large, dry hot air dome.

If we get too dry and thirsty, may come to your door.
For a large glass of water, maybe two or more.

You all have a good weekend now, you hear?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wondering about Food Poisonings

We are, or should be, very careful when handling raw meats when preparing a meal. This has been taught to us since we were kids. But what about raw vegetables? We eat a lot of raw vegetables at my house. I love salads and like to have a huge variety of stuff in them. Maybe I am playing Russian roulette.

Just in the last few years there have been recalls on packaged lettuce and salad mixes, not just meat like this recent ground turkey recall. So it doesn’t seem to matter if it is animal or vegetable, we have to be careful.

Let us look at one of my favorite salad ingredients, bean sprouts. Just this spring, Europe had a serious outbreak of food poisoning that was traced to bean sprouts. Almost 4000 people were infected and 752 suffered kidney failure.

Do you think that is an isolated incident? Since 1996 there have been 30 food borne illness outbreaks associated with bean sprouts. That doesn’t sound that bad, does it? Well yes, that means in the last 15 years the average has been two outbreaks a year and that is a considerable amount.

Another one of my favorite things is salsa and guacamole. Last year, 1 in 25 was the proportion of food-poisoning outbreaks in restaurants that could be traced to these two things. So maybe we should skip the veggies and go with the meat. . .

Some of the above information came out of the Sept. 2011 issue of Discover magazine.

You all have a good day now and don’t forget to eat your veggies.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wondering – I got heeled.

Well it was time, my old boots were just getting good and broke in and the dang heels got worn way down. The nails were coming through and I figured that it wouldn’t be too long until I would lose one and I didn’t want to feel like a heel for completely loosing my heel, but my boot will not heal itself. Loosing one’s heel isn’t as bad as loosing your soul or sole. I lost a sole once while fishing, it got off the hook somehow. It must have been the sole sole in that area of the ocean. Or maybe it was the sole survivor of a better fisherman than I was. Now I still didn’t want to loose my heel, because it would make me heel over a bit to the side.

OK, I am getting confused. So I am going to look the word sole and the word heel up in the dictionary. Be right back. . .

OK, it took up a half a page. There are many different meanings and it looks like I just scratched the surface. Again, I must say as I have in the past, “Don’t you just love the English language?”

Have a good day and don’t feel like a heel if you didn’t like my posting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wondering about an old Gibson

I mentioned in one of my blogs when I was on my last trip that my cousin was bringing the old Gibson guitar that his Dad had played way back in the 1930’s. My uncle and some other musicians put together a group and played at a lot of events and dances. I told you that I was in awe to just hold it, but I even got to play it some. What a thrill. I do have to admit that my Ovation is easier to play or maybe it is just that I am used to it. The old Gibson had a unique, smooth tone. It is a treasure from the past and what makes it even more special, it has been in the family since it was purchased new.

I was so in awe of this beautiful sounding and beautiful looking piece of history that I plumb forgot to get a picture of it. I wanted to have a picture of my cousin playing it to put on this blog, but at this time, I do not have one.

I do, however, have some old pictures. I couldn’t find all the ones that I had, so my cousin was kind enough to send some of his to me. This first one is my Uncle standing on the railroad tracks holding the Gibson with the Allegheny River in the background:

And here is one where he allowed his sister (my aunt), to hold it.  As far as I remember, she never played the guitar, but I was not alive back then so do not know for sure.

It is always nice to have a little bit of history about your family in a form that you can touch, feel, and even play. That was a big thrill for me and I want to thank my cousin for going to all the trouble of bringing it up from Virginia to the reunion in Pennsylvania. I really did enjoy it.

You all have a good day now, you hear?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wondering what is messing with my garbage

When I got back from our trip, something had gotten into the one garbage can that had stuff left in it. I had thought ahead and tied the lid on, but that didn’t prevent whatever it was getting into it. It was knocked over and a corner of the lid was pried up and stuff scattered around. Of course that attracted every ant in the neighborhood. I blamed it on coons.

This morning the same garbage can was knocked over and even though the lid was tied on tightly, a corner was pried up again and some stuff scattered around. I spotted it first thing this mornitn in my security monitor, and figured that I would take care of it after I wrote my blog. Turned on the computer and walked out to the kitchen to get a drink of water and when I was coming back into my office I spotted in the monitor a big red dog at the garbage can. It looked somewhat like a golden retriever but with a tint of red.

Now I don’t know if that dog is the culprit or if something else, like a coon, knocked it over and pried up the corner of the lid and the dog just came by to investigate. I don’t see how the dog could pry up the lid, but I am sure it is possible.

I have plastic garbage cans. I may switch to metal ones if I can find any. I haven’t seen any metal garbage cans for sale for a long time. I might try some of the hardware stores. If I can’t find a metal can I will build a containment area to prevent them from being knocked over. The containment area seems like a better idea because the culprits may be able to get the lid off a metal can, also. The advantage of a metal one is that the lid is stiff and after tying it down the animal may not be able to pry up a corner. (Now how can you have a corner on a round garbage car?)

Also, the dang ants got into the pressure switch for the pump on my well. When it tried to switch on, it hit ants and didn’t make complete contact. It looked like it had arced a couple of time and burnt the contact pads, and this is a new switch. I cleaned it out and got the pump running again. Phew, I thought at first my well had gone dry. The fix didn’t last long, the ants came back. The second time I doused it with insect spray (after turning off the power). That was late yesterday afternoon and so far, it is still working. I think I will purchase a spare switch today.

You all have a great day and stay cool. Going to be another hot dry day here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wondering about the Pillars of Creation.

We all were awed by the photos that the Hubble Space Telescope has taken, and for that matter, still does.  I believe that the most popular and the one that showed up on all news media was the cold hydrogen gas clouds that were called the Pillars of Creation.  You remember that one, don’t you?  In case you forgot, here is the picture from NASA:

Now that I have refreshed your memory I would like to pass on some information that I just recently learned from reading last months Astronomy magazine. I guess that I never thought about the density of the gas cloud since the picture was so beautiful and awe inspiring that I was mesmerized by it. Look at the pillar on the left, the biggest one. It looks so solid and thick, but things can be deceiving.

The reason it is deceiving to us is that we are not used to looking at things at that scale. These clouds are not measured in miles, but in light-years. A light-year is the distance that light travels through space in one year. Now tell me that a distance like that is easy to comprehend?!?! OK, now let’s put some numbers on that cloud. It measures around 3 light-years and is around a half a light-year thick. The contrast between the pillars and the space around them makes them look almost solid. That is not the case.

The density of that cloud is about 4000 particles per cubic centimeter. Air density at sea level has more than 10 to the 19th power, or 10000000000000000000. That makes the air 2500000000000000 times more dense than that gas cloud. In fact, 4000 paricles per cubic centimeter is far lower than the best vacuum we can achieve here on Earth. The reason it looks so solid is that we are looking through a half light-year of particles. It is the huge scale of the pillars that makes them appear so solid. And, I guess compared to the area around them, they would be considered solid. . . or maybe not.

They are still a wonder and I will keep on wondering about them, how about you?

You all have a good week now, you hear?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Remembering the end of my wandering.

We left off yesterday in a heavy rain in West Virginia.  These storms that we drove through were very heavy but small enough that we would drive out of them in a short time, but while in them it was hard to see the road in front of you.  A few miles on down the road (actually it was up and down and up and down) it was completely dry.
And still going up.
Here we are crossing the Kanawha River in Charleston, WV.
We stayed at a KOA located on
Foxfire Road
near Huntington,
Going through Kentucky and getting near where they hold the Kentucky Derby you see a lot of horse ranches.
And I think that this may be an entrance to the Derby track, don’t know for sure.
And of course a castle; don’t most people have one of these?
Back out on the open road and still in the hills.
We spent the next night at a KOA at Horse Cave which is near to Mammoth Cave National Park.  When leaving, my wife took a picture of this old barn.
Passing through Nashville, we got a few pictures of it and here is a skyline view.
We spent the next night just southwest of Birmingham/Bessemer area in a campground behind a Loves truck stop in a little town of McCalla, Alabama.  Headed west on I-20 and wouldn’t you know it, ran into rain again.
The less expensive place that we stayed was one of the nicest and well kept RV parks.  The reason it was so inexpensive was that it was part of hotel, riverboat gambling complex and they figured (wrongly) that we would go spend a lot of money gambling.  Here is picture of part of the RV park.
Pulled out of the campground, made a left turn and then a right turn onto the bridge crossing the old Mississippi River.
After driving through another state we finally got back to Texas.

We decided to stay one more night before going home.  We stopped at a small RV park off route 59 that turned out to be a really nice .

And of course there had to be a souvenir and antique place right across the road from the RV park entrance.  Somehow we managed to turn left toward Cut & Shoot and didn’t stop.

We really enjoyed the trip and taking it slow and easy made it a restful trip, also.

You all have a good day now, you hear?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Remembering my wanderings – Part 6

It was time to start heading home, but we were in no hurry and we really didn’t want to go back the way we came.  Those terrible rough roads in Indiana and Ohio just about shook us apart and anyway I wanted to see some scenery instead of mostly flat farm land.  Illinois was the only state that had some good scenery and just a few spots in other states.  I decided to go home the long way around down through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and back into East Texas.  So we started out.  Didn’t go far the first day and stayed in an RV park in Pennsylvania that was located along a pretty creek:

It was nicely wooded with large camping spots:


But the next morning we woke up to rain.  For all of you who live in Texas and are trying to survive the drought and don’t remember what rain is, I took some pictures of it for you:

Just for your information, we drove through lots of rain, some really heavy, between Pennsylvania and Texas, but just as soon as we crossed the Texas line, the rain abruptly stopped.



We went around the east side of Pittsburgh, trying to stay away from the worst of the urban areas. I personally do not like cities. Villages are OK and small towns are passable, but cities I can’t stand. Doesn’t the view out my side window look better than tall buildings?

We saw lots of wind turbine blades on trucks in south western Pennsylvania and north eastern West Virginia.  We never seemed to have the camera available when one was spotted.  This is the best picture that we got and it only shows part of it.  They are a lot longer than the ones one the turbines here in Texas.

We actually spotted some wind turbines on a hill:

Did you see them?  If not, here is a cropped and enlarged view:


Continuing on I-79 somewhere in southwest PA or eastern WV.

And a typical hill-side farm:

And three crosses on a hill.  We see these same exact type crosses all across the country.

And just to be mean to my fellow Texans, I am going to leave you with this last picture of one of the many rain storms we passed through.  This one was in the mountains of West Virginia.


More to come, and I hope I am not boring you.  You all have great day now, you hear?  We are off to the flea market.