Almost through the week morning muse…

I see that even though the Blue Ridge Mountains are having a couple of days of early spring weather again they are looking a bit dry. Checking out Ray’s Weather Page today he closes his forecast with a warning about the lack of moisture and the chance of fires…But with maybe a frost in the forecast, my how nice it must be…coffee on the deck anyone?

Drought conditions continue to worsen in Western North Carolina with no relief in sight. Winter was very dry, and while we have had a few rainy days, Spring has been exceptionally dry as well. We are in the neighborhood of 50% of normal rainfall this year. Going into early summer, dry ground conditions will tend to reduce our normal afternoon and evening shower/thunderstorm activity. Our only hope at this point for drought relief is tropical activity later this summer. Be extremely careful with fire! The forest fire in Linville Gorge a couple weeks ago may just be the precursor of things to come. For more details about drought conditions across the country, see www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html.

Source: Ray’s Weather Center – Valle Crucis – booneweather.com

Kate at Cider Press Hill commented on the fact that the bird population in her area was down and posted on the connection to West Nile. I stumbled across this article this morning at the Washington Post…

Experiments had predicted that certain birds might be especially vulnerable to West Nile infection, and earlier tests on birds found dead on the ground appeared to confirm that some species were suffering a significant toll. But the new analysis is the first to track populations directly, species by species and year after year at the same locations.

It shows that the post-1998 declines were greatest at times and places in which the virus was especially prevalent — as indicated by the number of human infections diagnosed. As expected, American crows were among the worst hit, suffering declines of as much as 45 percent in some regions and wipeouts of 100 percent in some smaller areas. Other species that suffered included the blue jay, the tufted titmouse, the American robin, the house wren, the chickadee and — unexpectedly — the American bluebird.

“These are not the rare, vulnerable populations we think of as being at risk due to introduced species. These are our everyday, backyard country birds,” said Shannon LaDeau, an ecologist at the bird center who led the study with Marra.

Looks like we are in for a rough ride for the next few decades no matter what form of disastrous outcomes floats your boat…Global warming, imported diseases, bugs and plants let loose in damaged ecological niches. They all cause unforeseen consequences we have to live with.

Source: Bird Species Plummeted After West Nile – washingtonpost.com

Here is another shot from Monday. I stopped under the bridge on 1462 over the Brazos River and took this shot. You can tell from the red color of the water that the rains have been falling quite a bit far upstream. The dirt down here isn’t that color. And from the fact that the water is as high as it is, a whole lot of rain must of fallen. Normal water level at this point is probably 20 feet or more lower than this with a lot of sand showing in the bed of the river.
Time to hit the road…Y’all have a great day…

From Monday Afternoon


I had a visit scheduled on Monday with the Doc, so naturally, I scheduled the whole day as a holiday…After the Doc and a slow meander home along the bay I had a quick lunch and took myself off to see if I could find something to photograph. I had been meaning to stop along the road here for a while since I pass it almost every day and just hadn’t done so. Monday I did. I hope you enjoy the shot…

“How do I find country roads?”

More from Leon Hale’s Column last week along with more pictures of Sundays Country Road Trip…

I’ve had Houston people ask, “How do I find country roads? How do I start?”

Just pick up a road map and get out of town. Drive up to Huntsville or Navasota or Giddings or Brenham or Columbus. Go to Hallettsville, La Grange, Eagle Lake, Yoakum, Cuero. Or up to Cleveland, Livingston, Saratoga, Woodville, Jasper.

But get off the big highways and onto the narrow blacktops. Then watch for dirt roads that look inviting.

My partner and I have roamed dirt roads in Washington and Fayette and Austin counties for years, and we still find roads we’ve never been on and broad fields of wildflowers we’ve never seen before.

Source: Hale: Dirt roads are Texas treasures | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Country Road Vistas of Washington County, Texas


“How do I find country roads?”

More from Leon Hale’s Column last week along with more pictures of Sundays Country Road Trip…

I’ve had Houston people ask, “How do I find country roads? How do I start?”

Just pick up a road map and get out of town. Drive up to Huntsville or Navasota or Giddings or Brenham or Columbus. Go to Hallettsville, La Grange, Eagle Lake, Yoakum, Cuero. Or up to Cleveland, Livingston, Saratoga, Woodville, Jasper.

But get off the big highways and onto the narrow blacktops. Then watch for dirt roads that look inviting.

My partner and I have roamed dirt roads in Washington and Fayette and Austin counties for years, and we still find roads we’ve never been on and broad fields of wildflowers we’ve never seen before.

Source: Hale: Dirt roads are Texas treasures | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Country Road Vistas of Washington County, Texas


Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

I was reading what President Bush had to say in the Rose Garden yesterday. The dichotomy between what he says and what is happening has always been a factor with this man. From the days he was Texas Governor till today, he has a streak of self-denial as wide as Texas.

“I do fully understand the anguish people go through about this war,” Bush said about adviser Matthew Dowd, who has deserted him. “It’s not just Matthew. There’s a lot of our citizens who are concerned about this war. But I also hope that people will take a sober look at the consequences of failure in Iraq. My main job is to protect the people, and I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”

“Failure in Iraq”, from the day we went to “War” in Iraq it has been a failure. Mr. Bush, your main job is not to protect the people, if it was your record of failures would place you in uncharted territory of failure. I won’t even start to enumerate here. Mr. President, your main job is to lead. If you can’t show the leadership the American People require of their President they will turn away from your chosen path. You have one choice at that time. You can change your direction and get out in front and lead, or you can keep doing what you were (and are) doing and watch the gap between you and the country grow into a chasm.

Your obstinacy doesn’t show character. Whoever told you it did, did a disservice to you and this country. You claim to feel our anguish…Show it. Show some guts, really listen to your critics. Hear what they are actually saying and not just the criticism in the way they say it. Getting your back up every time someone asks a critical questions serves neither you nor this country.

Mr. President, grow up.

“Congress shouldn’t tell generals how to run the war,” he said.

And for the record, Presidents shouldn’t tell Congressmen how to run the government. Oversight belongs to the Congress. When they do not exercise that duty they do both themselves and the Executive Branch a disservice. Mr. President, you should be thanking the members of Congress for faithfully executing the duties of their office. If it sheds light on failures in your offices, that is the reason the oversight was designed into our system of government. Thank them for the help…I do.

Source: For Bush, Fighting Democrats And Doubts – washingtonpost.com

From Sundays Backroad trip…Both sides of the road. Washington County, Texas.


Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

I was reading what President Bush had to say in the Rose Garden yesterday. The dichotomy between what he says and what is happening has always been a factor with this man. From the days he was Texas Governor till today, he has a streak of self-denial as wide as Texas.

“I do fully understand the anguish people go through about this war,” Bush said about adviser Matthew Dowd, who has deserted him. “It’s not just Matthew. There’s a lot of our citizens who are concerned about this war. But I also hope that people will take a sober look at the consequences of failure in Iraq. My main job is to protect the people, and I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”

“Failure in Iraq”, from the day we went to “War” in Iraq it has been a failure. Mr. Bush, your main job is not to protect the people, if it was your record of failures would place you in uncharted territory of failure. I won’t even start to enumerate here. Mr. President, your main job is to lead. If you can’t show the leadership the American People require of their President they will turn away from your chosen path. You have one choice at that time. You can change your direction and get out in front and lead, or you can keep doing what you were (and are) doing and watch the gap between you and the country grow into a chasm.

Your obstinacy doesn’t show character. Whoever told you it did, did a disservice to you and this country. You claim to feel our anguish…Show it. Show some guts, really listen to your critics. Hear what they are actually saying and not just the criticism in the way they say it. Getting your back up every time someone asks a critical questions serves neither you nor this country.

Mr. President, grow up.

“Congress shouldn’t tell generals how to run the war,” he said.

And for the record, Presidents shouldn’t tell Congressmen how to run the government. Oversight belongs to the Congress. When they do not exercise that duty they do both themselves and the Executive Branch a disservice. Mr. President, you should be thanking the members of Congress for faithfully executing the duties of their office. If it sheds light on failures in your offices, that is the reason the oversight was designed into our system of government. Thank them for the help…I do.

Source: For Bush, Fighting Democrats And Doubts – washingtonpost.com

From Sundays Backroad trip…Both sides of the road. Washington County, Texas.


Red Dirt Roads

Last week in a column Leon Hale had a lot to say about dirt backroads of Texas. This week I have photos…

Too bad Kinky Friedman didn’t win the governor’s race. I intended to go to Austin and ask him to proclaim every April Country Roads Month in Texas.

He would have done it, too.

But since Kinky didn’t win, I’ll just go ahead and do the proclamation myself and see if it has any effect.

The aim of Country Roads Month is to get people out of the cities and onto the dirt roads of our state, to roam about, breathe some unpolluted air and get the feel of the land.

I bet we have taxpayers in Houston who’re 40 years old and have never rolled along a country road. If they’ve done all their rolling on federal and state highways, they don’t really know what Texas looks like.

This is shaping up as a good year to get the country roads movement going. We’re having a nice spring. We’ve had decent rain after years of dry weather. The land is happy, and green, and getting greener by the hour.

Within the next six weeks, the Texas countryside will be looking better than it’s looked in several years. So it’s time to move. Stir a little dust.

I’m not talking about driving up U.S. 290 to look at wildflowers planted on the shoulders by the highway department.

Getting out of town to see spring wildflowers is a long-standing tradition in this state, and that’s fine, and I think we’re going into a good year for roadside blossoms. In Washington County, where we spend time at the Winedale place, bluebonnets are early and going strong.

For those who are unsure what a country road is Leon offers this definition…

My definition of a country road is one that’s not paved. A farm to market blacktop where people drive 75 is not my notion of a country road. I’m talking about a dirt road that leads off into the woods and is not shown on your highway map.

I’ve had friends tell me, “Yeah, but who knows where a road like that goes?”

Then take it and find out. Go slow, roll the windows down, experience the country when it’s waking up, turning green, smelling fertile. Maybe you’ll get lost for an hour or so. Good. That won’t hurt. Eventually you’ll come out of the woods somewhere.

I have always followed that advice when out traveling, much to the chagrin of my family. They never know when we will drive a half hour down a back road only to have it end so we can backtrack to where we began.

Source: Hale: Dirt roads are Texas treasures | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Here is one of Leon’s Country Roads in Washington County with some of the blooms along the fence you see to the left in the picture.



More photo’s to come…

Country Roads In Texas

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the possibility of a road trip. The weather stayed iffy even as we left the house at Noon. The wife, youngest daughter and I piled into the car and hit the road anyway. Both of the women in the party were not feeling well but could not be talked into staying behind.

I was really beginning to feel worried as we drove north and west on Texas Highway 36 thru Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties. The wildflower crop thus far consisted of Indian Paintbrushes and a few clumps of Buttercups. Austin County started to bring a few clumps of Bluebonnets mixed into the Paintbrushes.

Then we hit Washington County…And the views were spectacular. This was our first stop. All of these shots were taken within 20 feet of each other.

All photos are taken with a Nikon D80, processed through Photmatix and PhotoShop…More to come this week.