Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Name That Smell

Twice this week during our visits to Waco, Texas, my mother and I enjoyed eating lunch out. With the economy in such a flux, I’m trying to find ways to cut costs whenever it’s necessary to spend money. So, I ordered a glass of water with my meal. As I lifted the glass to my lips, I noticed a most unpleasant odor. Against my better judgment, I took a sip. “Ooo!” I said to my mother, “What’s that smell?!”, wrinkling my nose and holding my glass out in front of me. “It smells….GREEN!”

Mom explained that Waco is known for its bad-tasting water. I called the waiter over to our table and asked for a Diet Coke, thinking that would take care of the problem. But, it didn’t! My soda tasted as bad and “green” as my water. I was puzzled, but didn’t think much about it until we had lunch at a different restaurant yesterday. The soda I ordered at the second restaurant tasted equally as bad.

As I began my investigation, I learned that the "Bag-in-Box" soda fountains combine the soda syrup with carbon dioxide and water to make a soft drink. Then, I ran across several more articles about the horrible taste of Waco water. The Waco Water Utility Services Department cites algae as the primary source of taste and odor problems with its water.

“The five-year Lake Waco Comprehensive Study preliminary results identified a significant Cyanobacteria (Blue-green algae) population existing in Lake Waco and dominating the lake system, even in cold weather. This is due to the cyclic nutrient loading from the watershed. The Cyanobacteria produce the compounds that result in taste and odor problems in the drinking water system.”

Well, that seemed to explain the “green” smell. Algae = Green.

But, then I came across another explanation – dairy farm runoff. Ewww…

“It has never been proven the runoff from the dairy farms in the northern counties is the sole blame for the bad taste in Waco's drinking water but it is a contributing factor.” says Sara Talbert in an online article for KXXV-TV News.

As I read this, I began to wonder if the Branch Davidians, who followed cult leader David Koresh, were all drinking the same Kool-Aid made with Waco water. Seemed to make sense to me! I bet they all had Mad Cow Disease!!

But, an article in the Baylor University online magazine, The Lariat, ties together the two problems – algae and cow manure runoff. “The story starts about 30 years ago. In the 1970s, as part of a national trend, small dairy farms in Erath and Comanche Counties began morphing into large, commercialized entities. Farmers from across the nation - even from out of the country - began moving into central Texas and setting up their farms.”

“Erath County, touted as "The Dairy Capital of Texas," saw such an increase in dairy farming that by 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Bosque River "impaired and severely polluted" due to the dumping of such large amounts of manure by upstream dairy corporations.”

“And that's when some say the water started to smell.”

“But Pete Schouten, Hico dairyman and chairman of board of directors of Texas Association of Dairymen, said, according to his sources, Waco's water was terrible before the dairy farms increased on the North Bosque.”

“Larry Holze, Waco's public information officer, said the nitrogen in the manure causes phosphorous to form, which has created algae in Lake Waco. As the algae decays, it emits geosmin, a foul gas that affects the smell and taste - but not the quality - of water.”

Nobody is going to convince me that the quality of Waco water is acceptable, even if the smell isn’t. I, for one, am not drinkin’ that Kool-Aid!

A tourism website I discovered stated:

“The Waco Indians settled on the banks of the Brazos River in the late 1700's and believed these spring-fed waters held the magical protection of the Indian spirit, Woman Having Powers in the Water.”

Perhaps that spirit was a woman scorned and maybe even an ancestor of Hilary Clinton!

Actually, my mom’s conclusion about the unsavory water of Waco seems the best of all. She says, “Maybe they don’t do do do right.” (See 2/17/09 blog entry, “How Do You Do?”)

Don’t Drink That Waco Water, Y’all!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Do You Do?

On our way back to the Ranch from Waco this afternoon, we spotted a truck with a sign on the back that said:

Mr. B’s Plumbing
McGregor, TX
“We Do Do Do Right”

My mother read the sign out loud to me as the truck passed us by. Otherwise, I might’ve missed it. We do “do-do” right?!! ROTFLOL! I sped up behind the truck, so I could read it again. Now, there’s a plumber that’ll make you laugh as you write out that hefty check!

Watch For The Signs, Y’all!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Life's A Gas

The other morning after my mother had gone on her walk and while I was still in my jammies catching up on my Facebook buddies, I heard a truck drive up to the ranch house. I looked out my bedroom window and panicked. It was an Airgas truck with large, metal cylinders in the back used for welding. My father, who’s been suffering from a memory loss, can’t be entrusted to convey accurate information. So, fast as a jackrabbit, I stripped off my pajama bottoms and whipped on a pair of jeans, yanked on a jacket and stuffed my feet in the nearest pair of shoes.

I walked out on the porch to meet the country fella headed towards me. How could I tell he was a country boy? It could’ve been the bowlegged swagger or the dusty, worn boots. But mostly, it was the scruffy, long mustache with ends that hung down low past the corners of his mouth, nearly to his chin.

The Airgas man smiled a toothy grin and said, “Boy, am I glad I found this place!” I looked again at the truck unsure why he was here. “Uh...could you excuse me for just a minute?” I walked inside the house and asked Dad if he’d called the Airgas company. Rising from his chair, Dad looked outside and said, “I don’t remember calling them, but perhaps I did.” I returned to the front porch and asked Mr. Airgas if he was perhaps at the wrong location. “This is the Murray place, isn’t it?” “Yep, you’re in the right place. Why are you here?” He explained he was picking up some used cylinders, so I motioned him to drive around back to the barn.

Dad was already at the barn, opening up the large sliding door as Mr. Airgas backed up his truck. As I entered the barn, I saw the two old cylinders to be picked up. My cell phone rang and it was my mother. “That truck is here to pick up two metal cylinders in the barn.” “Yes, I know,” I replied, “He’s loading them up now. Did you call them?” She did, but had forgotten to tell us. Dad was relieved. With his memory fading, I’m sure he gets worried and frustrated by the details he can’t recall. I guess between the three of us, we can figure it all out around here.

As he rolled the heavy metal cylinders around to the truck lift, the country boy began telling us how he drove his Harley out here on our county road sometimes. “Oh, so you’re the one who’s been messin’ up our peace and quiet.” I said, jokingly. Mr. Airgas, who really was full of it, went on to tell us how nice it is to take somebody on a ride out here in the country. Then, he asked if I was the Murray’s daughter, and I said I was. “Well, I didn’t know there were any single gals out here!! Maybe you and I can go for a ride sometime.” “No thanks,” I replied. “I sold my Harley a few years ago and have had my fill of motorcycles.” “Well, lemme know if you change your mind,” he said. “I’ll have my Harley paid off in three months. My car is paid for, and my house is all paid off.” TMI…too much information! At least he didn’t ask me to marry him.

I walked over to the barn door and made like I was going to slide it shut. Mr. Airgas seemed to get the drift, and after strapping the cylinders down, he finished up the paperwork and pulled his truck out of the way of the door. I slid the barn door shut, locked it, and then hooked arms with my father as we walked back to the house. I just had to shake my head and laugh. You just never know what unusual events await you out here in the country, especially these days.

So, how many Murrays does it take to work with a service man? I dunno. I forgot.

Make a Happy Memory, Y’all, Before You Forget!!