December 2015 Archives

Ch-ch-ch-changes
December 29, 2015 11:30 AM | Posted in:

I'm pretty sure David Bowie wasn't thinking about someone in our situation when he recorded that song in 1972, and it's a stretch beyond my capabilities to make the lyrics apply completely. Nevertheless, changes are coming to Casa Fire Ant. MLB and I are retiring...sort of.

2015 was the fortieth year of our professional careers. *sigh* There's no honest way to soften the blow of that reality, other than to admit that we've been incredibly blessed during those four decades, and we really aren't sexagenarians in our own minds.

Anyway. We had planned to retire on April 1, 2016, a date that worked for us for some financial and insurance reasons, and we had informed our management of that decision last summer. [Oh, for those who don't know it, my wife and I work for the same company. This is the second time we've done that, by the way, but that's another story for another time.]

But, things change. (Sense a theme here?) A few weeks ago, we were approached by management with the idea of working part time, rather than leaving cold turkey. As it turns out, because of the collapse in oil prices - you may have heard inklings of that at one time or another - the company had instituted a "soft" hiring freeze, meaning that vacancies couldn't be filled. Obviously, the work we were doing wouldn't stop because we retired, but they wouldn't be able to hire someone else to do it. So, we were pitched the idea of working reduced hours.

Frankly, this is an attractive option for us, for a number of reasons that we don't need to get into, and we accepted the offer after a very short period of contemplation. So, beginning next week, we'll be working three days a week, and enjoying a four day "weekend," for the duration of 2016.

It's an exciting change, and not quite as anxiety-producing as the idea of complete retirement. It does mean that we'll be sticking around Midland for at least another year, despite the increasingly alluring siren song of the Texas Hill Country. It's likely that we'll be traveling there more often, but it will also give me more time for some of my neglected hobbies, like photography and blogging. 

The latter should strike fear into your heart.

Winter Storm Goliath: A West Texas Pictorial
December 28, 2015 10:13 AM | Posted in: ,

On Saturday night, December 26, the immense winter storm known as Goliath began to edge into the Permian Basin. MLB and I first encountered it ten miles east of Monahans at about 8:00 p.m. while driving back to Midland on I-20 from Fort Stockton, where we'd cut our Christmas visit with family short in an attempt to beat the weather. We didn't quite make it.

From the moment we left Fort Stockton we were treated to a lightning show in the north...the direction we were headed. We drove in and out of a slight drizzle, and while water was running in the streets in Monahans, it was no longer raining and we began to think we'd missed the the worst of the line of thunderstorms that had apparently preceded us. We were wrong.

As we passed the turnoff to the Monahans Sandhills State Park, traffic started to slow and we could see a line of flashing tail lights stretching to the horizon. Shortly thereafter, patches of ice began to appear on the highway. The ambient temperature was still 38ยบ so the presence of frozen water was puzzling.

The further we drove, the worse the conditions, until we were traveling at speeds of 40 mph and less. Sleet was falling steadily; the good news was that the temperatures continued to remain above freezing. Still, we saw plenty of disabled cars on the shoulder, and one pickup on its side in the median. By the time we got to Penwell, we'd seen at least a dozen emergency vehicles with flashing lights heading west toward Monahans. Something serious had apparently happened behind us (we never learned what).

By the time we got to the Caprock, the sleet had turned to rain, and traffic began to move a little better. However, occasional patches of ice kept us from becoming complacent and we kept our speed between 50 and 55 (making the 18-wheelers who continued to pass us doing 70 seem all the more insane). Then, about five miles from Midland, the rain gave way again to sleet, the hardest we've ever encountered. I began to wonder at what point sleet was more properly described as hail. The sound of the sleet hitting our truck was almost deafening.

Despite the drama, we made it home safely, and we really didn't experience any close calls...just long periods of intense nervousness. It was a relief to pull into the garage around 9:00 p.m.

A layer of ice coated everything when we awoke on Sunday morning. Almost every church in town had already canceled its services, so we prepared to spend the day indoors, as the forecast called for increasingly bad weather. Sure enough, the snow began falling at mid-morning, and continued throughout the day. We eventually accumulated between six and seven inches - not a record, but among the top ten heaviest snowfalls in Midland. It was a good day to stay inside with the gas log burning and cheesy movies on TV.

However, I couldn't resist venturing out with my camera later in the afternoon to document the rare weather phenomenon.

Snowy pasture
Near white out conditions - looking toward Midland Country Club

Snowy stream
We have our own snow-fed "mountain stream."

Snow-covered yuccas
The yuccas were not amused.


Ducks in pond
The south pond is always beautiful when surrounded by snow.

Geese
Our resident geese like to stand on their pedestals, towering over the ducks.

Hawk in flight
While photographing the pond, a movement caught my eye and I was amazed to find this image on my camera.

Hawk in tree
It was a red-tailed hawk, seen resting here in a tree.

Christmas lights on house
We didn't have a White Christmas, but this was the next best thing.


Snow on a sunny morning
The sun came out the next morning, and the snow was beautiful.

Rabbit tracks in the snow
I suspect the bunnies didn't think the snow was so great.

Of course, heavy snowfall won't keep people from having fun outdoors, and this was the opportunity of a lifetime for some young kids who may have never seen this kind of weather before. I looked out the front door in time to see this heading down our street toward the end of the cul-de-sac, and grabbed my video camera for the return trip.

God With Us
December 25, 2015 9:00 AM | Posted in:

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would some day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered,
Will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary, did you know...?

The blind will see,
The deaf will hear,
And the dead will live again.
The lame will leap,
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb...

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is Heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the great
I AM!

"Mary, Did You Know?"
Words by Mark Lowry, music by Buddy Greene

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2015 is the previous archive.

January 2016 is the next archive.

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