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A Big Lake in Autumn

I’ve been a little out of it the past few days, in the wake of an inadvertent encounter with Chinese Five Spice Seasoning, with which I’ve tangled before. Which of the five is the culprit remains a mystery, save that it’s unlikely to be either cinnamon (Chinese or otherwise) or cloves. No matter. I’m a caveman, not a gourmet, and spices regularly cause me various kinds of grief. (This time it was a bad migraine.) All better now. Hey, is that a giant beaver over there? Where’s my club? I’m hungry.

Anyway. We took a quick trip to Lake McConaughy last weekend, to find a lake just a few feet from full. All that beautiful lake bottom is now underwater, as it should be, but for almost ten years the lake was as much as fifty feet down due to drought in the watershed. I didn’t get photos of the crib when the water was at its lowest, but the two photos below (taken last weekend and about thirteen months earlier) will give you a sense for the magnitude of the change. In one year, the water rose over thirty feet, and once the winter rains begin methinks the spillways will see their first use in quite awhile.



We’ve had a slightly cool autumn, but Saturday took a foray back up into the mid-80s. Carol broke out her bikini and we got a little more than knee-deep in the 70-degree water before deciding that the season was indeed a little past its peak for swimming. So we ran the Pack along the beach, pausing now and then to fish burrs out of their paws and get photos of the fall foliage.


MicrowaveTower-10-2010.jpgWhile driving a Nebraska county track to the south shore, Carol noticed something odd in the dry cornfields to either side: The corn had been harvested from the top halves of the stalks but not the bottom halves. This seemed consistent (we stopped to look) and had a machine-like precision about it, suggesting that corn is harvested at various times depending on how dry the cobs need to be. We passed an evidently abandoned microwave tower, which provided a natural cover photo for a short novel concept I’ve been saving for a NaNoWriMo November when I don’t have to travel. It certainly won’t be this year.

We’re shopping for a new vehicle to replace Carol’s increasingly cranky 1995 Plymouth Voyager. The Ford Flex fascinates me, as it seems designed to maximize interior space, which is always handy when you’re transporting dogs in bulk. It’s AWD (which we need given where we live) and it can park itself. Precisely how (and how well) it pulls that trick I’m not sure, but given that flying cars will not be an option in my lifetime, I think I’ll take that and be glad of it.


  1. Erbo says:

    Ford is also the only one of the U.S. automakers who didn’t have to be bailed out by the government, if that matters to you.

    It certainly appeals to me. Which is why we’ll probably be looking for a Ford Taurus for our next car, whenever that may be. That, and Sabrina just likes Ford Tauruses. 🙂

  2. Esther Schindler says:

    It isn’t too surprising that you’d be allergic to a spice; I think they’re among the common allergies. At least it isn’t as irksome as Bill’s allergy to olives and (worse) olive oil, which is really hard to avoid in restaurants.

    Chinese five spice powder is, according to Wikipedia, made from: “The most common is bajiao (star anise), cloves, cinnamon, huajiao (Sichuan pepper) and ground fennel seeds. Instead of true cinnamon, “Chinese cinnamon” (also known as rougui, the ground bark of the cassia tree, a close relative of true cinnamon which is often sold as cinnamon), may be used. The spices need not be used in equal quantities.”

    With all the midwest German food you’ve encountered I’d be a little surprised if the problem was the fennel seed, though you guys are spice-wimps enough that it’s still a possibility. Sichuan peppercorn and star anise are foreign enough for you guys that they’d be my first bet.

    But I wouldn’t count out the cinnamon, as there are several types. You might be fine with one and allergic to another. Cinnamon is the bark of a tree — and one of the odd things I’ve learned in the past few years (as Bill got into woodworking) is that EVERYONE is allergic to at least ONE type of wood. (In Bill’s case, it’s alder that made him break out in hives; that’s fine because he’s never had the least interest in working with it.)

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