Sunday, August 31, 2014

Downpour in South Texas - finally!

Roger here... The title of this post is not something that would draw most people in.  I can hear your thoughts.  Oh yeah, like I want to devote any of my precious time to look at pictures of rain.  

If you live down here, you will understand.  Perhaps a little set up is required.

The day before the splash down we were experiencing one of our ongoing 100 degree days.  A gust of wind (not uncommon) tipped over a can of insect repellent that was sitting on the oil cloth that was covering our outdoor bar.  No big deal.

Later in the day I picked up the can.  Oops.  Looks like the oil cloth melted underneath the off.  Guess we won't set anything on the bar for a while.  A rain storm might cool things off so crap won't melt on the bar.  A rain storm might give me a break in the required daily watering of the potted plants.  A rain storm would be a diversion from the non-changing weather.  Bring it on.

All the weather channels said there is a 70 percent chance of rain.  Promising.  A fifty percent chance means that the clouds split just before they get to us, depositing moisture on both sides, but not on us.  A 60 percent chance means that we might enjoy a 6-inch rain (six inches between each drop on the pavement that is measurable before it evaporates).  But a 70 percent chance!  Now that is somethun!

I am going outside with my my radar-equipped cell phone to watch for the impending storm.  Good news:  yellow, orange and even red blotches are moving toward us on the map.

Oh no, it looks like the front is curving and will miss us, again.  The radar says we are in a blue area and should be getting rain, but we are not.  Clouds are everywhere, but it is not raining.  I should probably get the hose out for the daily watering of the potted plants.

Wait!  What is this?  Water droplets are coming down that actually cover the concrete before evaporating.  It truly is raining.

Dianne came out to join me under our covered porch area.  Yes, it has come to this, we are actually having fun just watching it rain.  

The wind is blowing and the rain is coming down in sheets.  The rain is exploding onto the deck with such force that we can see the water splashing upward in cylinder shapes that rise a couple of inches from the surface.

Ok, that is thunder.  AND that is  lightning ---very close lightning.  Dianne asks, "Do you think it is safe?"  I reply, "You do realize we are sitting on metal chairs."  We go inside.

I walk to the front of the casita and take this picture of the street through the bedroom window.  Lots of water and mud is flowing down the street and into the oversized storm drains.  

I walk into the bathroom and find my dog, Bandido, hiding behind the toilet.  He is shivering with fear.  Poor baby.
He hates thunder.  He also hates July 4th.

Tequila hears me comforting Bandido and runs straight to the bathroom.  "Hey!  What about me?  I don't like the thunder either.  You always liked Bandido best!"  

Don't think for a minute that Dianne was not lovin' on the dogs, too.

After 2.5 to 3 inches of rain, the storm clouds move on.  The thunder continues to sound for another hour.  It is a constant boom, much like that of a long freight train --- nonstop without gaps.
The ominous clouds drift to the west.

Dianne and I venture out to check out the puddles and the clouds.  

We notice that the underground irrigation hose from our underground watering system is no longer underground.  I see a trip to get more mulch in the future.

Now that the storm has passed, the light outside is amazing.  Parts of the sky are still black, while the sun is shining through in other places.  The sunlight that streams to the ground seems more intense than usual.  Lots of bright colors and dark shadows.  

Our pepper plant got a good drink.  The small purple (and hot) peppers seem to pop in this strange light.

Bandido ventures outside to enjoy the sunshine when the thunder finally subsides.  The temperature has dropped to 76 degrees.  

The empty space to the east of us takes on a mysterious aura --- black sky, bright trees and ground.

There should be a rainbow with this kind of sky.

And there is.

The rainbow begs for multiple photos.  
What a beauty.

The sky continues to put on a show as the sun sets.

I go inside and take one last picture before retiring to a good book.  The reflection through the window shows the images, both inside and outside.

The night passes.  We awaken to temperature forecasts that are 10 degrees lower than what we have been experiencing.

Rain is forecast for this day after the storm, but there is only a 60 percent chance which means sprinkles.  Sprinkles of rain are all we get, but we do get something else.  What a spectacular sunset!

Another night has passed and it is now two days since the storm.  Life has returned to normal.  It is time to swim some laps, read my book, walk the dogs, and find some mulch.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Family, Friends, Road Trip (for me)

Roger here...  The opening picture was taken at our friends' house in Indiana.  It really is that amazing.  However, lots of things happened before the picture was taken.


Our oldest daughter, Robyn, and her boyfriend, Atul, flew out to see us in Mission, TX.  Their time with us was short, but we managed to fill it with great times.

They arrived in the early morning.  We ate breakfast at the Diaz Diner. After a nap, Retama Village friends took us on a three-hour pontoon boat trip on the Rio Grande River.  (Robyn wore my hat after hers blew into the river.)  Robyn will insist that I emphasize that this was not her hat :-).

The weather was warm, the company was good, and the scenery was interesting.  We were happy the the Texas Highway Patrol was not looking for us.  

We intended to take a segway tour of the National Butterfly Center the next morning, but due to a communication snafu the segways did not arrive.  We did walk among the butterflies and found this guy (definitely not a butterfly).

Also not Robyn's hat.  She is not a cowboy hat kinda girl, but she did not want a sunburn.

Later we taught the kids how to play Mexican Train.  Robyn won every hand -- in fact, she had no points against her at all until the very last hand.  It's just not right!  (Sorry for the very poor quality of the picture.  We were having too much fun and did not know that the only picture was so bad.)

Dianne fixed a big breakfast during their last morning with us.  We almost got breakfast on the patio before the temperature got uncomfortable.

The iced mimosas helped make it feel a little cooler.

Hopefully, the time between our visits with Robyn and Atul will go quickly.  We miss seeing them.


Our 42nd wedding anniversary arrived shortly after Robyn and Atul left.  We decided to celebrate at Alberico's in McAllen.  Always great food and good wine there.

ROAD TRIP (for me)

The local Mission/McAllen weather guy has an easy job in the summer.  He seldom has any need to change his weather board.  (Hot and Breezy --- like blowing a hair dryer in your face)  This was a perfect time for me to hop on a plane to the cooler weather of Indiana.  (This is an annual trip so that I can do a little consulting for my former employer).

Dianne had plenty of genealogy research to keep her busy in our air conditioned casita.  Honestly, I think that she was looking forward to some quiet time.  


I will not bore you with the work that I did, but I did have plenty of time for fun.  The first weekend in Indiana found me camping with friends.  

I stayed with our camping buddies, Chuck and Cindy, in their fifth wheel.  Unfortunately, I was welcomed by a banner from the wrong Indiana university.  We are great friends anyway :-).  The focus of this annual weekend at Turkey Run is a 10-mile kayak trip on Sugar Creek.  The weather was ideal.  We saw a bald eagle.  The paddle down the creek was excellent.  No pictures this year --- didn't want to get my phone wet.  (There are usually a few tips into the water, as documented in prior blog entries from years past).
Jessica, Chuck, Pat (in the shadows)

Morgan, Cindy, Audrey

Chuck's breakfast juice was also a
highlight, as well as Sophie 
(Chuck and Cindy's) and Ranger
(Pat and Audrey's)

The focus was the kayak trip, but the highlight was spending time with friends.  

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS --- time with Amanda

Our younger daughter, Amanda, recently moved from Florida to Evanston, Illinois with her daughter.  Since I had a day and a half of down time during the trip, it was a no-brainer that I would drive to Chicago from Indy to see her.  Unfortunately, our granddaughter, Kaia, was in Michigan with her aunt and cousins, but it was so nice to have some one-on-one time with Amanda.  It was a four-hour drive.   Fair Oaks Farm, between Lafayette and Chicago, was a mandatory stop for picking up some cheese and enjoying a toasted cheese sandwich and ice cream.

After a few wrong turns in Evanston, Amanda greeted me at the front door.  (Her dark-brown hair is now mysteriously red).

Her twelve-year-old beagle, Cinnamon, actually cried when she saw me.  She then rolled on her back for a tummy rub.  

We walked a couple of blocks to the Firehouse Grill for lunch and then again for dinner.  The outside seating area was dog-friendly, and Cinnamon accompanied us for both meals.  She entertained everyone (at least they were smiling) by doing a beagle howl every time another dog walked by.

I intended to drive back to Indy in the early evening and actually started the drive back.  It was early rush hour at the time.  After a few minutes of heavy traffic, I made the wise decision to turn back and spend the night with Amanda.  The late morning drive along Lake Shore Drive the next day was a snap.  I  was so happy to have some quiet time with Amanda.


As in my past sojourns to Indiana, our dear friends Jay and Nancy graciously opened their home to me.  The garden photo at the start of this post was taken in their back yard.

They are such good grandparents.  The picture below shows Jay cleaning their fish pond under the watchful eyes of three of his grandchildren.

Bonge's Tavern in Perkinsville IN (a central Indiana experience) was the site of a delicious meal that we shared one evening.

Jay visits his businesses as the clown, Pops, occasionally to help raise money for charity.  He actually appeared at an Indiana Pacers game last year.  I was lucky enough to see Pops as he kicked off a campaign to raise funds for Outfitters (a charity group that raises money to provide school clothes and supplies for the underprivileged kids in the local community.)  Since Nancy was busy at a Habitat for Humanity meeting that night, I got to spend the evening with this clown.  Thankfully, he removed the grease paint before dinner.


A weekend trip to Jay and Nancy's vacation home on a lake in southern Indiana is always a treat.  My brother (and only sibling) drove over from Mansfield, Ohio to join us.

The cool and sometimes wet weather did not dampen the fun that we had.  Lots of laughing drifted over the lake while playing Mexican Train outside under a shelter.  

Here is a decent picture of three Sigma Nu brothers from Purdue.  Jay (seated), my real brother Dick (on the left), and me.


My two weeks in Indiana with family and friends were fun, but as everyone knows, it is great to get home.  Dianne met me at the airport in McAllen (20 minutes from our casita).  Not much changed during my two-week absence, with the exception of the vines that we had planted along the lattice next to our back yard.  Two weeks ago the view was mostly white.  Obviously, the vines have taken over.  Plants do grow well down here in the subtropics.  The flower in the second photo is one of the  passion flowers on one of the vines.


Dianne insists that during my absence Bandido often waited for me to return at the front door.  She also imagined that Tequila watched for me through the fence on the back patio.

I miss you, Daddy!