August ’17 Playa Report

I was away in June, and July was a “wee bit” busy writing. Plus the construction season is upon us, making getting to the playa of record a little bit of a pain. However, the road is more open, and the playa has gotten over two inches of rain in the last four days.

For those readers new to the blog since the last playa report, I’ve been informally chronicling a rainwater lake, or playa, for a year or so now. Playa lakes are a vital feature of the Llano Estacado and High Plains. No one knows how they formed, and some are tiny, while others cover almost a square mile. Many are “dry” and only get water from rain and snow, while a few have springs in them, or had them before the water table dropped. They are refuges for wildlife, migratory birds, and native plants, and are considered an endangered land form of the Great Plains. Developers think they are a pain in the patoot, home owners who discover that the developer put their houses in the bottom of a playa think they are [censored, censored censored], ranchers like then, and farmers tried to level them out, or converted them into tail water pits for irrigation. Continue reading

Turning the Yellow River Yellow

One of the assumptions, or perhaps tropes is a better word, of certain parts of the environmental movement is that only Western countries, or only capitalist economic systems, cause environmental degradation. Or they might stretch it to argue that only countries that have experienced the Industrial Revolution destroy their physical and biological environments, because it takes steel and machines to really ruin the landscape. This idea comes in part from where the modern environmental movement originated, in part because of lingering fumes of the “noble savage” idea, and in part because English, French, German, and Spanish-language sources are a lot more common and easier to work with for most researchers. However, in the past 15 years or so, people have been looking outside the European sphere-of-influence, and digging into archaeological and geographic information to show that no, humans have been “degrading” their environment for a very long time. Continue reading

The August Norther Arrives

The High Plains of Texas woke to low grey skies and cool temperatures. At ten AM it was still only 68 in the Amarillo city limits, with a light, chilly breeze trickling through the trees. The birds slept in, as did your humble hostess. (I was recovering from playing extrovert at Ama-Con. I don’t vert well.) The Grey Norther has arrived, breaking summer’s back. Continue reading

Monday Amusement

 From the up-coming urban fantasy collection, to be released later this month.

Morgana gave Smiley a warning look as Dolores threw herself into the chair beside them and groaned. “Dare I ask?” Dolores’s Eurasian eagle-owl, Isabeau, spread her wings. Morgana ducked to the side.

“Neither Cinders nor Isabeau like the rain because we can’t let them out. New grass seed at the neighbor’s place. And Patrick is in the last-chapter push. At least, I hope he is. Otherwise he died in his office and there’s a revenant poking at the computer and snarling about foot-notes and conclusions and conflict theory.” Dolores straightened up in the chair and ran a hand over Isabeau. “The food disappears and I hear sounds from the office, but Cinders isn’t talking.”

“We should all be so blessed,” Jaramillo sighed as he came in, an enormous overstuffed folder under one arm and Dog the Iguana on his shoulder. Dog had headphones on and was either rocking out or having serious balance problems. The warlock thumped the papers onto the table, lifted Dog off his shoulder and onto the stack, and sat. “Dog discovered Midnight Oil and started chanting along.” Continue reading

“As the light of the morning, when the sun riseth…”

Monday night we got a good rain – steady, a little heavy at first then just long and steady, with very little wind. It overflowed the gutter and filled one cistern and boosted the other one, but didn’t flood much in my part of town. The clouds lingered almost until dawn.

And then the sun rose. A high layer of sheets of ice shifted from grey to soft pink, washing the sky. Lower clouds to the west blushed before darkening to near purple. Below the high pink, smaller, lower storm remnants glowed like gilded jewels, ruby in liquid gold settings, a scatter of gems against the rose-gold sky. The rose shifted again into soft gold but the rubies remained hanging above the fresh emerald world below.

The cool, sweet air smelled clean, looked clean, washed of dust and pollen. The world was alive with the morning, singing and pure, full of life and every good and glorious thing. Is it any wonder I broke out in song?

Samuel 23: 3-4 “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, ‘He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.’ ” (KJV)

The second section at :50 – 2:20.

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic Part 7

The caravan forms…

Chapter Seven – Road Wary


Tycho studied the other men and they returned his regard. “He has seal and transport, his own beasts, and a beast-mage. Is he known to ought here?” the lead guard asked the other caravan members.

“Aye, by sight and reputation. He’s good, and he can fight.” Jens Hemprat, the ealdorman, nodded to Tycho. “He’s good for the road.”

“You’re in, then,” the senior guard said. He strode out of the group, going instead to confirm details and weapons with the other hired men.

Jens clapped his hands together once. “So. It has been agreed that we follow Vlaatport law while we are on the road. All know and understand?”




The merchants all signaled their understanding. Having one basic code made life easier, and everyone knew already what was legal and what wasn’t. Vlaatport was not too different from Rhonari in matters of travel law, so Tycho recalled. The ealdorman spoke for the group if needed, and the group acted together if threatened by bandits or others. Any differences were settled within the group while on the road, and of course local market rules applied at the market cities. Each man was responsible for his hired men and beasts.

“We have sixty wagons, ninety three men, a hundred great-haulers more or less.” That generated some knowing laughter and a few sighs. “We rotate. Draw for positions tonight, then rotate down the lines, travel in double line.” Jens looked at the men. “Who here can fight with staff?” All the hands went up. “And sword?” Two-thirds of the hands stayed up. “Knife?” A few hands rose, most lowered. “Anything else?”

“Flip sling. I hunt with it.” Someone in the back, a man from Corwin Tycho guessed.

“Good to know. We will have weapons practice at night when we are outside of walls.” Tycho grumbled a little at the news but had to agree. Skills unused were useless. Continue reading