Wine tasting, thunder, and thieves

In last night’s blog I mentioned the wine tasting to occur at my house tonight.  I have never seen so many bottles in one place.  Take a look.  At one point someone counted and said there were 64 bottles.  Since there were over 100 people in attendance…and left overs everywhere.








About two hours before the event, dark clouds appeared on the horizon.  I turned on the TV; severe thunder storm warnings slid continually across the screen; it began to sprinkle. Oh, no.  The storm went around, guests showed up, and they could even eat outside on the patio.  About half way through the party, the smoke alarm went off.  Market Street, the party sponsor’s grill apparently smoked too much or my alarm system is very sensitive.  A friend grabbed a broom, pushed a button, and it stopped, only to repeat the process several times.

The boxes on the left in the photo below contained approximately 100 wine glasses.  The procedure:  get your own glass, walk to the bar, pick a wine and try it.



Several people wanted some empty glasses, one for a friend’s craft work and another for herself.  She makes her won wine.  Here are the bottles I rinsed and lined up for her to pick up later in the week.



In the end after nearly everything was packed up and the garbage bagged and in the garage, a few of us sat around and drank some of the friend’s homemade wine.  Hobby, the Market Street wine guy, had set aside a copy of my poetry book to purchase and have me sign.  He looked where he put it.  We looked around; nothing.  Apparently we had a poetry book thief at the party.  Who would have thought.

About ten minutes after everyone drove away,  lightning zoomed across the sky, the thunder boomed, and the tempest finally stuck, the perfect ending.






Panhandle Weather

After many rainless months, it decided to rain and won’t stop it.  Yesterday I wrote about a nice gentle rain, a rarity here.  Today came the deluge.  It rained over an inch in one hour.  The rain hit the west windows of my house so hard that at first I thought it was hail.  When I watched, it looked like a giant bucket of water poured on them continuously.  Then the water falls started.  When I first moved here nearly six years ago, a lot of rain brought only one giant waterfall most of the time.  More recently a lady built a house closer than I would like.  She cleared off a lot of native grass, various native bushes, and a number of juniper trees.  Even with the grass she planted, water runs off her property onto mine in a little river.  It runs so rapidly it is creating a small arroyo which gets deeper each time it rains.  Since they predict thunderstorms for the next few days, if it keeps this up we might have a chance to catch up a little on the rain.  Hopefully, next time the rain will flow more gently.  When it gushes like this afternoon and evening, rocks, dirt, debris wash onto my drive.  After the first round of rain, dirt lay more than an inch deep in some places and rocks lay scattered about.  I managed to clean off the worst of the dirt before the rain began again.

Living here in the Panhandle of Texas demands an new attitude about weather.  Expect anything.  I’ve seen it drop 50 degrees in an hour, go from 40 at night to 80 plus the next day, rain dirt, blow dust like fog, snow two feet and a couple of days later reach 55.  To an outsider, this may sound dreadful but I find numerous pluses:  the sun shines most days; it is not humid; summer days can be a bit of heaven on earth even if hot during the day–perfect evenings for lounging on the patio with food, friends, and wine; winter does not last forever and neither do the winter clouds.  Winter in the Midwest is downright gloomy.  Not here.

Now I am going to bed, hoping lightning streaks and thunder rolls do not awaken me at 3 in the morning.


Gradually, the clouds increased and the weather forecaster predicted rain tonight and tomorrow–a 30 per cent chance and even better chances toward the weekend.  After months of rainless days and nights, dust storms, and weather extremes, I hardly believed it.  On the way home from work, I stopped to buy two guara and one rosemary to replace those that died over the winter, an unusual occurrence; both usually make it through.  After feeding Rosie, I decided to plant them in case the forecaster’s predictions held.  Not really believing rain would come, I watered them, adding root stimulator.

The sprinkles started, but only a little, what people here call a “12 inch rain”–one drop every 12 inches.  It stopped, the wind blew harder, and a brown dust fog filled the canyon.  I shut the windows.  I almost went out to start the sprinkler.  Suddenly, lightning struck somewhere near the house, thunder boomed.  The sprinkles continued to start and stop with intermittent lightning and thunder.  After having two TVs struck by lightning in the last six years even with surge protectors and turned off, I’m a little leery about lightning storms.  I left the TV and computer off and initially wrote this by hand.

Just as I started to walk outside, having given up on real rain, it started, not the crashing, thunderstorm rain we usually receive, but a gentle, steady, back East kind of rain.  I opened the windows, inhaling the rain smell.  As I write this, the rain continues; it’s now been nearly an hour with writing and interruptions from phone calls and me checking to make sure it is not raining in the windows or the French doors to the patio.  It plays a staccato tune on the green steel roof.

Three miles down the road in front of a house at the intersection of two country roads, a sign stands:  “In the name of Jesus pray for rain.”  Perhaps they have been praying hard.


Last night I planned to reblog this, my very first blog post from over three years ago.  However, a big lightning and hail storm arrived; I turned off my computer.  I did not want a lightning strike to ruin it.  Lightning struck my house twice in the six and one-half years I have lived here; once it destroyed my TV.

Abraham Lincoln said we choose–or do not choose–happiness.  When I was twenty something, I chose happiness, not the sappy, syrupy, cheery, but the deeper joy of cherishing the small, the unique, the everyday, smiling with sunsets, the song of the mockingbird in the spring, my horses running free, the nearly invisible bobcat climbing the canyon wall, the taste of fine coffee at the first wakeful moments in the morning, cooking for friends, taking a “property walk” with my grandson, laughing with the teenagers I teach.  I am driven to do very little; obsessions, compulsions do not run me.  I choose.  Choose life, choose joy or choose whining, choose lamenting.  But choose!!  Be who you want to be; do what you want to do.  Be YOU!!

Photograph is copyright of Anabel McMillen.