This post  is about arid. It turns out, this is something about which I know a little bit.

Arid isn’t a place. It isn’t a special piece of ground. It isn’t always flat or sandy. Arid means just one thing:  the annual amount of rain the area gets is minimal. Everything else is tangential. An area can be arid yet support significant amounts of wildlife including trees and animals. The Sahara was not always a dry wasteland — it was made that way by human farmers a very long ago time.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Aruba, for example, doesn’t have any aquifer. No “running water.” But it does get rain and it has always been part of the Island’s culture to catch all the rain and save it against the days when the rain does not fall. Now, I think, they have desalinization and I have had it for a long time.


I spent nearly five years at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. One of the most important projects was trying to convince farmers in the northern part of Israel to not use chemical fertilizer. Almost all of Israel gets at least some rain (a few spots, like Eilat, do not), but it is an arid region. The amount of rain expected is typically less than the amount needed to wash away pesticides and fertilizers. To this end, our crew of experts in air, water, earth went out to convince (okay, beg) the farmers to please not use those fertilizers. We offered them alternatives. Insects that would kill the weevils and stuff they could add to the soil to make it more fertile.

They didn’t listen. Before the mid 1980s, the aquifer in Israel died.


A dead aquifer does not revive. Once gone, it stays gone. After that time, Israel went along using solely the water in the Sea of Galilee for drinking. As the population increased, water use got increasingly dodgy. Finally, many years after they should have been built, desalinization plants arrived and now there is water. It’s a small country, so sending water from one place to another isn’t so difficult. Not like it would be here, in this big half of a continent. Their pipes don’t have to run from the Great Lakes to the center of the hottest part of the south.

Not like the United States.

The first time we were in Arizona, I remember hearing people saying no one needed to worry about the lack of water because “they” would send water down from the Great Lakes.


How did that go? Anyone start those pipes yet? I was glad to see, when we were back last year that the state had done a lot to protect the land. The big cacti are protected and grow everywhere. Arizona is working hard to keep the water they have and use it effectively. A lot of the “fancy gardens” I remembered were gone. Home gardens grow sensible plants — mostly cactus. The air is better, too.

Someone listened and something good was done.

This year has been a good for water. Too good, with a lot of flooding. Still, there has been plenty of rain and the big lakes where water is held for drinking are full.

Until the next drought.


The American southwest including California and Utah is arid. It isn’t arid because “nothing grows there.” Things will grow there if you give the land a little more water. But reality doesn’t change. You can’t keep sending in more and more people to an area with severely limited water resources. Arizona doesn’t even have an ocean from which to draw water via desalinization.

There is a limit to how many people the area can support and I’m pretty sure it has already been breached. This year, there is water. What about next year and the year after that?



It’s Academy Awards weekend and the buzz is on about the contenders. Who’ll win, who should win, who’s been snubbed, who’ll be wearing what, etc ad nauseam. It used to be an exciting period for me as a life long movie lover. Not any more!

We haven’t seen any of the nominated films this year. I can only judge by word of mouth. I know “La La Land” is everyone’s favorite, with 14 nominations. It’s a hot ticket with Hollywood heavyweights because it pays tribute to the golden age of movies. We should go see it.

Yet, therein lies the rub.

I grew up watching movies from the golden age. Almost all the legends were live and working. I read fan magazines about John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and other iconic figures. Stuff about their home life and upcoming projects. Lux Radio Theater carried adaptations of film hits featuring the likes of Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd and Myrna Loy. Billboards featured Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Clark Gable.

New kids on the Hollywood block included Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman. Sid Caesar made fun of Brando’s method school mumbling on his “Show of Shows” skits. Grownups snickered at Brando, saying “his kind” would never replace greats like Ronald Coleman and Leslie Howard.

My parents refused to buy me the motorcycle jacket and cap Brando wore in “The Wild One”. Geez, they were so cool and I desperately wanted to look cool. I copied John Wayne’s laconic walk and measured speech pattern. It made me feel 6-inches taller.

Movie stars were truly larger than life in those days. You didn’t see them often. Guest appearances on radio and television were special. I recall watching one Oscar telecast. It might have been 1953. The black and white images sparkled with shots of stars in the audience. Everywhere the camera turned, there were famous faces. It was wonderful to see “old” stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Lillian Gish and Mae West. There were the veterans like Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Fredric March, to name a few.

I got a kick when they focused on the newer, more “hip” stars like  Newman, Dean, Brando, Poitier, James Garner, Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron.  My jeans stiffened when I saw closeups of Mamie Van Doren, Edie Williams and Rhonda Fleming. Lordy! Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas did a song and dance act that stole the show. The applause was long and deafening. The smiles from Kirk and Burt could’ve lit up a dozen cities. Bob Hope was funny as usual, joking about being snubbed by Oscar. It never occurred to me that someone other than Bob Hope could host the Academy Awards show.

Mom, my frequent movie date, smiled widely as she watched the stars. I think she was recalling her youth. I might’ve noticed a tinge of sadness but it was fleeting.

All those images are filed away in my sense memory this Oscar awards weekend. I don’t know many of the stars. George Clooney, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio are now veterans.

Dare I mention that so many of the “new” celebrities all look alike? My wife says it’s all about plastic surgery. Yet there are plenty of serious  stars. The Streeps, Washingtons, Berrys. The new old timers — Pacino and DeNiro. They’re no younger than we are. Some are older. They aren’t getting big roles, either.

So, rather than disparage the youngest group of stars, I shall simply admit time has left me in the dust.

How did this happen?


This morning. I got up. Grabbed the door knob. It came off in my hand. It was just another one of those things.


After the election, I spent November in shock. Literally. Shock. Waiting for someone to tell me this couldn’t possibly be true. When December came, I tried to ignore it. If I didn’t believe it, it couldn’t be true, right? I failed. Although almost half the people in this country do not believe in facts, I am not one of them. My not believing simply didn’t work. For me. This year. There are a lot more years to come and you never know. I may discover that simple denial will do the job. Anything is possible, isn’t it?

In January, I thought I was going to explode. I have a heart with a replaced valve and other stuff. I was sure I was going to expire. I didn’t die, so I wrote more. Everyone wrote more. When February came. I continued to write stuff, until the other day, I woke up and realized my brain had died.


Completely.  Absolutely.  Dead. As a door nail, though why a door nail should be deader than, say a chair leg, I have no idea.

The weather turned delicious yesterday and we went out with cameras and took pictures. I came home, looked at Serendipity and realized I was very glad I take pictures. Until my brain wakes up, there are going to be a lot of pictures.

So here I am, telling everyone I don’t have anything to say. All I want is a lovely spring that doesn’t include several million caterpillars. Except I know about the caterpillars. They will be back and somehow, I will deal with them, though I am sure I don’t know how. But isn’t that what life is all about these days?


We are living in a world that makes no sense. It’s full of things so horrible, I feel like I should cry while I laugh. So as if Scrotus isn’t bad enough, I’m going to have to deal with Scrotus and a zillion hideous, hairy caterpillars eating every last leaf on about a thousand oak trees.

Is there no justice in life?


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – February 24, 2017


It was a good day to take some path pictures. First time in a while that you could actually see the steps without the snow mostly blocking everything.



These little steps lead up to the top of the passage. You can't see them well in the summer because of all the brush, but it was visible yesterday. The true sign of an old dam.

These little steps lead up to the top of the dam. They are no longer used. You can’t see them in the summer because of the brush, but it was visible yesterday. A true sign of an old dam.


In case you aren't sure, follow the sign. There's a river there!

In case you aren’t sure, follow the sign. There’s a river there!

Everyone was out walking on such a nice day.

Everyone was out walking on such a nice day.