Tag Archives: nature

Winding It Down 17

English: Country Club Plaza (view from 47th St...
English: Country Club Plaza (view from 47th Street at Wornall Road), Kansas City, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From My Mother’s Journal 1970:

Monday August 17

Stopped at a Ramada Inn for lunch($8.91). They are consistently good.

On to sister Betty’s in Hickman Mills, Kansas City, Missouri. Got there in the late afternoon. Ate supper with Betty and went with them to pick up their grandsons. We took them to the airport and while we were there fire engines and police cars rolled up. A big jet was having trouble with its landing gear, so everyone was on emergency. What a lot of excitement. We watched as the big jet came in and the pilot set it down as if there were eggs on the pavement. The landing gear was down and it held so everything was okay after all. Then we drove around to all the houses in Kansas City, MO where John and Betty lived at one time or another. I remembered many of them from previous visits. The Country Club Plaza is still a beautiful place – the buildings and plazas and fountains patterned after  Seville, Spain.

Saw a few dirty hippies but not enough to ruin the scenery.

Miniature Golf ($1.50) Stuckey’s gifts and candy ($9.30), gas $3.60), coffee (.15).

Took the little ones back to their father. He is recuperating from being hit over the head in his front yard two weeks ago by two colored men. The cut on his scalp required 52 stitches. He has purchased a German Shepherd guard dog for any future encounters.

We parked the camper in Betty’s driveway and set up.

Tuesday August 18

R worked on the car all day because it is getting such poor gas mileage. Car parts ($16.00) Repaid Jon cash ($5.00)

Wednesday August 19

Same thing. Wednesday night went and got the little ones and took them to Jacamo Lake. Jon and Jeff fished. It was a pleasant place with a new campground up on a hill. Took the little ones back home and drove back. The light of Kansas City are still beautiful at night.

Thursday August 20

Woke up to rain but it is nice and cool. Groceries ($6.49) Film ($4.92) Went to Nelson Gallery of Art($1.25) and spent four hours. Got some prints and books on design($12.85). The Gallery has beautiful Chinese and Japanese vases and things. I remembered the painting with the water droplets on the leaves of a plant – they look so real you want to reach out and brush them off. That painting is still there.

Uncle John
Friday August 21

mileage 58,639

Left Kansas City and Betty and John’s house around 2 P.M. Jeff especially wanted to stay longer. Betty had given us a really restful time. The dinner Thursday night with shish-kabob and fancy dessert made by Margaret was wonderful. Robbie and I stayed up until 2 A.M. this morning talking to Betty and John.

Jon enjoyed his Aunt Betty’s because he got a chance to run a riding lawnmower all over the place. Becky and Jeff enjoyed their three motherless kittens. R and I really rested and the talk with Betty and John was especially appreciated. We need someone to talk to more often.

R just reminded me that I owe Betty a dollar for a phone call I made from her house.

Went to a K-Mart for oil and a lamp bulb for the car ($2.91) Kansas Turnpike 5:25 PM $2.90 toll to Wichita.

Ramada Inn because the rain is coming down in sheets.

Saturday August 22

Overnight charge, delicious seafood supper and breakfast ($43.31) Last night Jeff ate his seafood at 7:30 PM began vomiting at 10:30 and didn’t stop – five times – until 12:30. It made us all a little queasy but no one else got the food poisoning that he did.

Saturday morning we got up late about 10:30 and ate breakfast at 11. Jeff stayed in the room and drank a coke. Robbie and I had a very lumpy mattress. It was the worst on the entire trip. We are both hurting this morning. They didn’t seem concerned when he told them at the front desk. They said they’d check the seafood. We will take note and never use this one again.

The Kansas toll roads cost us $4.35 for about 125 miles which is pretty expensive. Entered Oklahoma at 1:30 P.M. It hasn’t rained here yet but was all through Kansas it was very rainy and the roads were awful slick.

Arrived in Ponca City, OK at 2:30 and ate a hamburger and checked into Quo Vadis Motel – very firm mattresses.

Betty and Hudson Smith and their girls came to visit. They brought coffee and cake. The kids went swimming at the motel pool.

Ate a late supper (9PM)

Sunday August 23

Up at 8 AM. Betty and Hudson and girls came to join us for breakfast this morning. (motel, supper and breakfast $37.96)

We realized while on the road again that Betty and Hudson left us $5.00 for breakfast. We didn’t see it until they had gone. (MUST remember to write them.) They brought us a tape of a gospel message from Miles VanDerkroll. This was excellent to listen to in the car. There was no gospel hall here in Ponca City. Three families meet in a home. Two of the families were on vacation this Sunday.

Left at 12:30 for Texas. Mileage 58,984 charged 14.7 gallons at 41 cents a gallon. Perry, OK at 1:30. Ate a steak lunch in Norman, OK. ($16.05 with a dollar tip) The traffic between Norman and Davis is horrible with the road torn up and being repaired. The new 35 through the Davis Mountains is extremely pleasant. The highway engineers cut through a lot of solid red rock to make the road. Mileage at Marietta, OK 59,168

Entered Texas after almost 9 weeks on the road, at 6:15 PM Sunday August 23. Souvenirs, stickers, drinks at Stuckey’s ($3.45) Toll road between OK and Dallas ($.30)

Stopped at Holiday Inn NW in Dallas at 7:30 PM and ate supper at El Chico.

Rebecca and her mother, Mary Louise



Night by Mary Louise Thompson

I see through gossamer folds of mist

the Moon pauses above the lake.

Elm leaves wave dark patterns between the moon and I

almost like a tickle at about my ribs. I smile.

A firefly twinkled among lake shore grasses.

The frogs take their choir turns while

a distant cow bell charms.

Crossed elm branches set to groaning so

the dog growls in his sleep on the step.

I close the door on that kind of peace

And call it a day.

New Things in the Yard

Male Carolina Anole with partially expanded de...
Male Carolina Anole with partially expanded dewlap. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



It isn’t news that the Mexican White Wing dove has flown its Mexican coup, probably because of the violence, and is now setting up huge colonies in the Houston area. I have just discovered an astounding fact. The white-wing dove eats the seeds of the Chinese Tallow Tree!


Now, it has been my contention all these years that the Tallow tree is totally worthless. Okay, save for the fact that it might be the only tree in Houston that truly turns into colors in the fall. So for all those of us native Houstonians who have bemoaned the lack of fall color in our landscape – look around at the Tallows. I just saw a purple one yesterday. They do turn purple, red, orange and yellow sometimes all at once, and on one tree. Other than that bit of something, the Tallow being a non-native to America has never contributed to the wildlife food chain. Nothing will nest in it, except a perhaps a newbie crow or some such bird who learns soon enough not to ever do that again. Brittle Sticks! But now, these new big doves eat the seeds. Nothing else eats the seeds, nothing else uses the tree, for anything.


It’s like a huge deal. This is big news. Big.


The other new thing is the brown lizards. I don’t even think they have a name. I’ve been researching them. Can’t find them. They are too new for a name, I suppose. They must have a name somewhere but not in Houston. Here in Houston we have green Anoles, we used to call them chameleons because they change color. You know the lizard they magnified in the old movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth? That’s what the Green Anole looks like. They’re cute. We have horny toads, too, though rare. Don’t laugh. They are stickery. Then we have the relatively new Japanese House Gecko, which looks nothing like the Geico gecko. These have clear skin over their stomach and you can see their insides. They chirp. They run really fast, like a roach. And the fact that they come out at night and crawl across the porch ceiling doesn’t help their image. They came over on cargo ships like many of our non-natives species come, whether intentionally or not. Obviously lizards were not an intentional shipment.


The new brown lizards are small, fast and hang out in the heat of the day like a desert creature might. Their colors range from dark to light and they have some light markings. The distinguishable coloration is the light strip down a bony ridge of a backbone. Unlike the Green Anole, their mouth is blunt tipped. I haven’t seen any leave part of their tail behind when chased like the Green Anole does.


I wonder what the brown lizard’s impact will be on the biodiversity of my yard. Is it a predator of insects like the other lizards or is it a predator of other lizards? I have seen a decline in the Anole population but that can be due to the hugely wet summer and then the long dry spell we are experiencing now. Will the brown lizard wreak havoc on the toad population? I haven’t seen many toads at all. Will the brown lizard ever receive a name? Has anyone else seen them?


And will the abundant and voracious white-wing dove eat the brown lizard? I’ll just have to watch to find out.