Monday, May 26, 2008

Out There

This Memorial Day morning, I was out there. Pedaled around for a couple of hours before everyone started assembling out here on the prairie. We have a family gathering planned for the traditional Memorial Day cook-out.

There weren't too many photos this morning. Not because there wasn't anything there. More because my mind was occupied. In addition to being "out there" in the great outdoors, one might say I was "out there" in the spiritual realm. Had a few things to talk over with my Father. You'll be pleased, no doubt, to know that He is still in control of things and recommends that we let Him carry some of our burdens...especially those over which we have no control.

Somehow, between thoughts I suppose, I noticed this again on a familiar route and finally stopped to capture it.

In Texas, some of our fence posts are so big, they come with hood ornaments.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pedaling in Pollen River

Unlike the creek shown above, the forceful, south wind was a mighty, pollen river. Pedaling, upriver as it were, against the current was not speedy. Those of us with seasonal allergies will tell you this river is massive and its been flowing for days. As is the common practice, the Saturday loop began upriver. There was plenty of time to look forward to the down current easy return. But ease and speed are not the goal, and even traveling against the current had it's rewards.

There was a time, not long ago, when speed was the goal. In those days, pedaling with a purpose meant head down and focusing on the digital display on top of the bars. When the speed dropped, effort and focus must increase and pedaling against the current sometimes meant frustration and exhaustion. Not so today. Pedaling against the current, even in Pollen River, meant pleasure and celebration. It was a balance of effort with noticing the landscape. It was a peaceful taking of what the situation offered...a kind of "count your blessings" opportunity. Here's just a few of them.


To the lady in the aircraft carrier-scaled old green car who passed me in time to brake hard at the stop sign and offer no turn signal, I offer my sincerest apology. I should have been more patient and less interested in maintaining my momentum for the upcoming climb. Given your apparent haste, I underestimated your reaction time. I hope that your lecture and name-calling efforts didn't cause you to miss your appointment by 5 seconds.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rolling Again


Consistent followers of this blog might notice that there was a post yesterday. The plan was for me to be in Reno this week, but that didn't happen. I was plagued by the annual sinus infection, felt crummy enough to go see a doctor, and cancelled my trip. I felt so crummy I didn't even ride the bike. Instead, I laid around the house with the furry rascals to the point I decided to see if I might be able to help one out the door. Today, however, I'm feeling much better. Still slightly weak I rolled around the 3-mile loop, took a short diversion down a gravel road, and returned home.


It was great to be outdoors again, great to be pedaling my bike, and (now that I'm almost well) great to still be in Denton County, Texas.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moving Marcie

Janet keeps bringing these forlorned, pitiful creatures into my house. This one's name is Marcie, the Rat Terrior. Marcie, like the whole lot of 'em, is a furry rascal.

Janet thinks Marcie likes me. She keeps referring to Marcie as, "your dog". Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I don't have a dog. I don't need a dog. I don't want a dog. There are...well, I don't exactly know how many, except to say TOO MANY...dogs in MY house already.

The thing is, Marcie does like to curl up and nap on my pajamas laying on the floor in my closet. She does greet me at the door when I come home. She sort of runs up to me and flops on her back trying to get me to rub her tummy. If I back up a few steps, she'll scoot along on her side and roll onto her back again, showing me her tummy. Persistent about that, she is. Marcie tends to find whatever piece of furniture I'm sitting on and joins me there.

Well, I guess if that means anything maybe she does have some fondness for me. I can't figure out why. I certainly have not encouraged it. Sometimes, you've just got to put an end to a relationship before it gets out of hand. Take this time for instance. It's time to move Marcie.

Normally, Janet does a pretty good job of finding homes for these furry rascals. In this case, however, I think she's a little amused by Marcie's behavior and not really putting out her best effort. It's time for a man to take matters into his own hands. That is why me and Marcie had a little photo session today. These photos were contrived to make her look as cute and adorable as possible so someone out there might be smitten by her charm (as if she had any) and seek to adopt her. I told Marcie I was going to put her photos on my desk at work so she'd cooperate. She doesn't need to know that you can find out more about adopting Marcie (and making my life simpler)by going to Petfinder. I don't think Marcie really wrote all that stuff about herself, but it is amazingly accurate.

Janet says Marcie is my dog, but really she's just a furry rascal.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Clown Bike Farewell

No...I'm not planning to rid myself of the clown bike. At least, not yet.

Instead, it appears that I've developed an unintentional habit. Before an out-of-town business trip, I like to take a few minutes for one last spin around the 3-mile loop...and document it here.

So today, as I reluctantly prepare for a multi-day trip away from the pleasant rolling hills of north Denton County (and worse, away from my beloved), I took the clown bike for a short excursion.

As we speed toward June at full speed, it has become apparent that the shade is becoming more desirable. Things are heating up around here in the mid-afternoon. These wildflowers won't be around much longer. The hot and dry of Texas summer is starting to take control. It looks like early Saturday morning rides will be replacing the Sunday afternoon rides of cooler months.

It's farewell for now, but I look forward my return home...and my return to early morning excursions across the north Texas prairie.

A Single Roundtrip Commute

The distance of 20 miles one-way is a little longer than ideal. But the route is outstanding. I like to ride the bike to work when I can. A few days ago, I took a few photos of my trip in and back. I didn't get any in town, so this doesn't tell a complete story. I hope to do another post later that presents a photo every 5 minutes that would better convey the route. Nevertheless, here are a few snapshots from a recent commute to/from work.

I reckon there are worse routes, eh?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

When all you have is a hammer...

...everything looks like a nail. At least that is how I think the saying goes.

If so, it seems wise and it applies to my current earthwork project. Clearly, I haven't a clue about what I'm doing. I've got a tractor and I need to move a little dirt from here-to-there. Simple, huh? Not for a city-boy. If you've been following this blog, you'll know I've already admitted to being the object of hilarity as I try to figure out rural life. I'm guessing that there is some tractor implement and/or special technique that I do not have.

What I do have is a small tractor with front-end loader, a mower, and a box blade. I've already tried leveling my driveway with the front-end loader. Hilarious. I figured I'd just scoop off the high spots and drop 'em in the low spots. Nope, not me. The result was a saw-tooth pattern in the driveway that looked and felt a lot like what we used to call on the motocross track "whoop-de-dos" or "whoops" for short. Whoops, indeed.

I can learn a lesson. This time, I'll use the box blade (my hammer). The project (nail) is to fill-in a low area on the north side of my concrete driveway. The plan is to move dirt from a broad area further north, build-up a small berm along the driveway, and shape a swale that will intercept drainage from as far as the county line and direct it around my house. Old Gilmer built himself a fine house, but he put it in the middle of a prairie drainage-way.

Here's how the hammer works. I lower the four teeth that are part of the box-blade, drop the blade to ground level, and drive the tractor toward the driveway. The teeth sink an inch or so into the ground, loosen the dirt, and the blade drags some of it along. I raise the blade somewhere near the driveway, go back to the borrow area and repeat...about ten-thousand times. After several hours work, here is what it looks like.

I think if I had an implement (plow? disk? good ol' common sense?) that would really help "till" the soil and get the vegetation out of the way. Four 3/4-inch teeth, an inch deep, is slow going. I didn't expect the box-blade to scrap the top layer of vegetation off, and it certainly didn't. Experience with the swale, where vegetation was removed, suggests I can move dirt much faster without vegetation. Maybe, you'd suggest, I could be more productive if I had some skills. Yep, fancier tools and a little know-how would be nice, but I don't have either.

So if you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear 'em. That is AFTER you've quite finished laughing AND chosen to omit any clever sarcastic comments that will no doubt come to mind.

Going On A Cruise

Part 1

At a business lunch this week, the two other gentlemen in the party revealed that they each had plans to take a cruise this year. One will be leaving for Alaska soon. The other will be flying to Spain to begin a Mediterranean cruise in September. They spoke of prior cruise vacations. They spoke of the places they'd see and the things they'd do. They spoke of travel logistics. They contrasted the two eagerly anticipated trips to exotic locations. I couldn't add much to the conversation. At one point, one of the gentlemen turned to me and asked, "Chris, have you ever been on a cruise?"

"No", I said, "but I hear they can be quite pleasant." Then I think I mumbled something about there being plenty of food. He turned back to resume his conversation with someone who knew of which he spoke. I took another bite of my lunch and listened.

Part 2

This morning, while the birds were singing at peak volume, I opened the back door, let in the cool, morning air, and the coffee finished brewing. I pulled a small, familiar cup from the cabinet. When the coffee flowed slowly from the decanter, aromatic steam rose up and filled the space bounded by face, cup, and decanter. The hot brown liquid swirled...and then settled, but the fragrance continued to rise up and stir the senses. Pleasant, earthy contentment. Then, there was a realization. Perhaps, during that lunch meeting, I mis-spoke.

Actually, I've been on thousands of cruises. In fact, this old saddletramp has another land cruise planned very, very soon...and the anticipation gives me great joy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Twilight Snapshots

Just a few photos of the short trip around the famous 3-mile loop. This is what it looked like, at this time of day, today. Starting out on FM 2450...
A little farther down the highway...
After turning off the "busy" highway onto Chisum Road...

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A short video (listen for the bird chirp)...


FALAOWTAHC stands for First and Last Annual One Way Tailwind Almost Half Century.

Basically, last Saturday I had a lunch appointment with a good friend a little less than 50 miles southeast from my house. There was a 15-20 mph wind blowing steady from the northwest. Since I had also planned to watch my nephew's little league baseball game that same evening, Janet planned to drive down. That means I had transportation for the return trip back home late in the evening. That also means that I could enjoy a nice (almost) half century ride, from point-to-point, on a nice cool, spring day, with a massive tailwind. Hence...the First and Last Annual One Way Tailwind Almost Half Century.

Happy bike after arriving at Anamia's Tex-Mex in Southlake, Texas.

Baseball action (our hero is the catcher) before the lights came on...

It was a delightful 3+ hour ride. It was a delightful and delicious lunch with a dear friend. It's a shame that it was the "First AND Last Annual...". If I could figure out how to duplicate the conditions of that ride, along with the entire afternoon and evening, I think I'd do it again.

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