Ah, summer. When you can’t go outside in the afternoons and evenings and expect to be able to hear yourself think.

We have cicadas around here, especially in towns. Grasslands don’t have many places for them to latch on to when they molt, but tree trunks, brick houses, and the like are perfect. They are annual, not episodic, and loud. Very, very loud. And startling if you have not met one before. Continue reading


Macbeth Weather

“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” or as they are known around here, high base thunderstorms. I called them something else when I was flying – high base b@stards, because you could fly under them but only if you knew for certain without any doubt that they’d already dropped any major downdrafts and microbursts. Otherwise…

I don’t remember when I first heard non-productive storms called Macbeth weather. I heard them called “heat lightning” first, meaning you could see the lightning, but you never cooled off and never got rain. Continue reading

Rural Roads

Ah, rural roads, county roads, blacktops, “pave,” Farm-to-Market roads… All the ways to get geographically challenged when you are going from the North Forty to the Back-of-Beyond. (Not to be confused with the back of Burke, which everyone knows you cannot reach unless you are going somewhere else. If you pass a large, black stump, you are near the Back of Burke. And in Australia.)

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Somewhere in all that, there’s a playa

This has been a good year for plants around the playa lake beside the county blacktop* on the way where I work. The playa and surrounding land really needs a good burn, or to be grazed down, or both, but the proximity to the road precludes that, at least for the moment. Plus a burn-ban, so now is not the time.

A whole lotta grass and forbs) and sky.

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Silesian Jerusalem

Wambierzyce, Poland, lies in the low mountains south of Wroclaw, in Silesia. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Poland, although not one of the better known outside of Poland.  It’s now on the border (almost) of Poland and the Czech Republic. Officially the church is the Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin, but it popularly called the Silesian Jerusalem.

Did I mention the rather imposing facade? Photo by Jacek Halicki, Used under Fair Use Creative Commons 3.0.

The Madonna of Wambierzyce dates to the 1100s at least, and according to tradition, was first placed in a tree for veneration, then moved to a small church. Which grew. And grew. And is now an absolutely enormous basilica, except that the shrine is not a basilica in the architectural sense. Instead it is small and round, and is based on the Temple in Jerusalem, thus the informal name. If you are confused, no worries. So was I, in part because the great facade of the church was covered in scaffolding when we got there. So no photos of the front, which dominates the little town.

The miraculous Madonna is in there.

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The Bird Walk

Thursday night-Friday morning, Redquarters got over half an inch of rain in a rather loud and dramatic fashion. We’re in that season where, if the forces of weather cooperate, rain from the southwest monsoon continues southeast down the high plains and sweeps over the area. We’d had a really big storm pop up Thursday afternoon and drench one part of town, but Redquarters remained low and dry. Then along comes the 0200 light show.

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Sweet Summer Sunrise

A cool front came through two weeks ago, knocking down temperatures and changing the sky.

We’d had clear, hazy white skies, the sort I remember very well from spending summers in Houston. The sky would be pale blue in the morning, then grow white-blue. The sun just set, without any color. Cicadas rasped their songs all day long, a sound I associate with heat. High pressure had settled in, and the best thing to do was stay out of the sun and fan. And drink cold stuff.

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