Open Thread - Thurs 27 Jan 2022 - Droughty Thoughts

Drought! Drought? Drought...

When did you first experience drought? For me, my first experience is what made me aware of climate change. It was back in the mid 70's. I was maybe 13 to 15. And California, where I was born and grew up, had its worst drought in memory - at least, 1970's memory. A bit later I read James Lovelock's book about Gaia and paid attention to his predictions and the predictions of others who followed different theories and principles, but basically said humans were killing the earth as we know it. And so, I became a 'green' and as much of a climate activist as possible throughout my life.

So back to the drought in California in the mid-70's. 1977 was, at the time, the driest year ever in recorded California history. The reservoir near where I grew up, Lake Lexington, is situated a bit above Los Gatos, CA, in the Santa Cruz mountains. It dried up during the drought. It was shocking to me; I didn't know at that time that lakes could dry up like that. I eagerly learned to conserve water, to only flush toilets now and again (drives my husband nuts), to never water the lawn unless it's rained recently, to wash clothes sparingly, to collect rain water, and more.

The drought was scary. So many plants and animals died, so much withered away. And this was in CA, when lots of stuff 'died' in the summer and the entire state turned brown every year. Going down the mountains on Highway 17 in the bus to high school, next to Lexington Reservoir, made for very serious thoughts. As the lake dried, two small towns were revealed. That was shocking. I had no idea that 'we' drowned towns, forcing out all the inhabitants, to make water for Silicon Valley (then the fruit bowl of the California). It was surreal to see the roads that led to nowhere, the foundations of the houses and shops, to think of the lives that lived there, the kids like me that grew up there, the pets... I think these were some of the first serious thoughts I had about humans and the often very important impacts of some of our decisions.

Here's a song about the making of another reservoir, this one in Maine. I have to admit, I choke up hearing this sometimes - Below, by Slaid Cleaves.

Slaid writes and sings some wickedly good songs, often about recent history. Here's a couple more, ending with a non-historical funny one!

Quick as Dreams:

This one is long, because it's live. Recorded at the Tractor Tavern. I think I might have been at this show. The song is inspiring, sad, and strangely enough, fun. So, here's Breakfast in Hell.

Horses:

Slaid's got quite a few albums, these songs are just a sample. And yea, I've no idea why I, still a punk, goth type, picked country/folk punk to feature here today. I've got broad (and strange?) musical tastes, like so many others here, I guess.

So, here's the Open Thread! Whatcha thinking about? Remember, everything is interesting if you dive deep enough!

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Lookout's picture

The power company built a nearby lake on the Coosa River in the mid-60's. Several people lost their family farms. Many committed suicide. Under the lake is the probable site of Chief Coosa's large town which DeSoto visited and robbed...leaving a small pox infected slave behind.

Wasn't familiar with Slaid...I like his music. Thanks for the intro!

Y'all have a good day. Headed to the 50's today, before dipping back to highs in the 30's over the weekend. Planning to harvest most of the remaining cabbages tomorrow before the over night teens bite them.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Sima's picture

@Lookout Amazing how much 'we' take from others and disregard the consequences. Yes, the reservoirs have to be made, I actually agree with that. But... destroying people's home and lives without thought? Without care? I don't know the answer.

Thanks for reading, and glad you enjoyed the Slaid Cleaves tunes! I first heard them about 10-15 years ago, when I was listening to an online radio station dubbed 'country western punk'. No idea if that's really a thing, but I heard a lot of new artists that way.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

QMS's picture

I remember well the draught you describe around 1977. was hitchhiking / backpacking up the west coast that summer. It was very hot, so I decided to find a watering hole to cool off. I do not remember the name of the reservoir I spotted on my map, but hiked inland for several miles to get to it.

Once cresting the rim, I was aghast at the sight. The reservoir, maybe a mile across was a small pond. Thought, oh well, I came this far and hiked down toward the marina. The problem was the docks were high and dry, sitting in the muck at a 45 degree slope. Not one to give up easily, I was desperate for a swim. Tried walking into the muck toward the little pond in the middle only to sink up to my knees.

Bummer. So close, but so far away logistically. Scraped off the mud, did a 180 turn around and headed back to the coast. Always thought the California valleys were a strange construct after that so avoided them in my subsequent journeys.

Thanks for the story and music!

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Sima's picture

@QMS Oh my gosh, the mud. I remember that well. My brother decided he could walk on mud or something, went running into it. Yes, you sink in and it's everywhere, gooey... ick! Glad you made it out without too much problem!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

that takes me back.

Waay back.
I first saw Slaid at a little basement bar on Main Street in Brunswick Maine close tofifteen yrs ago. A good friend(now dead) dragged me back to my old stompin grounds to see this ‘new guy’ perform.
Good set of music, Very nice artist. Just plain ‘Good People’.

Thanks for the retrovisit!

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Explain Bldg #7. . .

If you’ve ever wondered whether you would have complied in 1930’s Germany,
Now you know. . .
Sign at protest march

Sima's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly Lucky You! I managed to see Slaid once or twice in Seattle. Good shows, very good shows. I think seeing him in Maine, where he originated (now he's in Austin), would just rock.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

enhydra lutris's picture

I can't say with certainty 'cause -- I was raised in San Diego. My folks, though conservative were somewhat environmentally conscious and we kids were taught early on that all of San Diego, right down to the bay and ocean, was technically desert, and probably even in a drought much of the time. The expanded lecture included the fact that, in fact, most of California was technically desert at least most of the time. Hence it was obligatory to conserve water by all means possible all of the time, using minimal water for each necessary use.

Anyway I'm certain that actual droughts were used to pound this lesson home. OK, I was born in the summer of '46 and there was a drought in California from '47 to '50, so I'm sure many lectures were lectured, but I was only 4 in 1950 so I'm not sure how much sunk in. The lectures no doubt continued throughout my childhood, so at some point they took hold. There was another drought in '59-'60, so I'm sure that the second it was announced that we had one coming or were in one I was made aware by my folks, my teachers and all the local media, but it doesn't stand out, because 1) I was pre-indoctrinated, 2) It was fookin San Diego, fer gawd's sake ( a) always quasi drought & b) "I'm bored, let's go to the beach") and 3) my dad was in the rangers (yes, those rangers) in WWII and did the whole North African thing giving him a huge appreciation for the desert, so we spent a good chunk of our weekend & vacation time just a bit to the east out in the real, hard-core, desert and were quite hip to all that anyway.

FWIW, I also learned all about California's "Lakes". There are actually a few real ones (Tahoe comes to mind), but plenty beaucoups, especially in SoCal are artificial.

Thanks for the tunes.

Be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Sima's picture

@enhydra lutris San Diego. Yep, I always thought of that area as desert too. My grandparents lived there for a time. I think, growing up in CA, it was hard to completely ignore climate and the environment. Maybe it's that way growing up everywhere, but the aspects to worry about are different, I don't know.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

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Sima's picture

@humphrey That is so ironically funny, and so true!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

in a couple of hay fields I either owned or leased. In a good year, I would get 4 cuts. During those years, I was lucky to get 2 cuts. I was not selling the hay commercially, but using it for my cattle and horses. It was an annual crap shoot. It was not uncommon for Texas ranchers to buy hay and have it hauled here to Texas from Oklahoma.
Very risky if you were actually in the business of commercial hay.
My vegetable gardens, grown to enjoy fresh food, and to perhaps save money, often would up costing a lot, due to the water bill! Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
All this drought, right in the Texas Oil Patch. Is there possibly a connection?
At any rate, when I get time, Sima, I will give the music you posted a listen. There are so many great musicians out there that I have never heard of. I always enjoy the pleasant surprise!
* edit for misspelling

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Sima's picture

@on the cusp Slaid's worth a listen when you get time, that's for sure. He's in Austin now :). I thought the Horses song might get a little laugh out of you, too.

Hay's crazy right now. We feed our goats on pasture, which is great for spring, summer and part of fall, but it's very wet here in the winter, oftentimes. And so the pasture isn't good then. The goats get hay then, and it's so danged expensive now due to the drought. And a lot of hay growers in WA, OR and CA pre-sell their crop to Japan and China! Gads. It's nuts.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

@Sima @Sima in some 6th St. venue, he will be easy to find.
And, I wouldn't mind spending a weekend in Austin in any event.
I never raised goats, lots of pals did. They are much less complicated to feed. They can eat most anything. Cows can't, since they only have bottom teeth. Horses had better not get experimental, if they want to see tomorrow.
I remember throwing out hay of whatever I grew, to the cows. But my horses, like, the best friends I ever had, would get some alfalfa, which is not grown locally. Always expensive.
My last two horses were both rescues. I won ribbons on them in dressage competitions, and when I went out in the yard to water the garden, they would come and keep me company. I didn't need to halter them to load them in my horse trailer. They wanted to go where I was going. Can't say how many times they gave me kisses on the lips.
RIP Dennie Debonair, and Hamilton, esq.

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Sima's picture

@on the cusp Goats are funny eaters for sure. I'd been warned over and over when I first got my goats about things goats will eat, but should not eat. My goats? They try everything, but if it makes them feel bleh after a bite or two, they quit. Now, if they were really starving, who knows? I believe that's what happened to others around here who've lost goats to eating poisonous plants (like rhododendrons). So ours eat hay, grass, blackberries, many weeds, many trees, and any kind of vegetable I want that they came across when they escaped their fencing and headed to the vegetable garden. They do not eat scotch broom (darnit, that crap is everywhere), rhodies, rhodie related plants, the cores of apples, withered cherry, prune, apple leaves and so on.

Your horses, Dennie and Hamilton, sound wonderful, they must have been so much comfort and fun. I've goats that are the same in a way, they stick with me, eat what I show them to eat (bye, bye, brambles), love to give and receive cuddles and hugs, and lead the herd as they follow me around. Cows? I dunno. No experience there really. My neighbors have some pretty smart cows. Once saw them pick up a coyote with their horns and throw it into the air after the coyote ran away from my dog, who was protecting my goats. That coyote ran off never came back around after that flight through the air!

I had horses when I was young, and loved them. They continued to live with my father and mother on their property after I went to college. I learned how to care for and use draft horses after I acquired this really small micro farm, but never got any. That's a big regret for me, I have to admit.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

zed2's picture

Its still there, just (Usually) covered with water. It used to be on Dry Creek Road.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@zed2

once, but the campground's water was all fubar somehow.

be well and have a good time

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

zed2's picture

The Panamint Valley, east of San Diego, next to Death Valley, is beautiful. Especially its few Oases the native habitat of Californias iconic palm species. Its so flat and you can see for very long distances there, sometimes. There are cholla and sugaro cactuc.. prickly pear, etc. Its the Sonoran Desert ecosphere. One of the warmest and most subtropical in the US.

Spectacular flowerage if you are lucky enough to visit after the rare rains. Its getting hotter, so much so that it will soon be dangerous to human life in the Southwest and possibly lethal to the poor because of very high heat and lack of money for air conditioning. Its getting so hot the asphalt on roads starts to melt in the summer.

Water evaporates very rapidly at 120 degrees. I know what its like when its that hot very well.
I've spent a lot of time around there. Both exploring amazing ancient ruins and visiting friends and family.

You can wash the clothes, then hang them up, take a shower and they are dry in just a few moments.. usually before you're done washing your body.

There is not much rainfall. Its very nice as intense heat goes, because its so dry. As long as you have water. If you don't, you wont last long in that heat. You'll be dessicated.

This is about the concerns they have in Phoenix, Az.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/27/phoenix-arizona-hottest-...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@zed2

goes by Trona, "Armpit of the Universe". Well acquainted with the place. One time we were awakened by a bunch of wild burros tramping around and had to crawl up into the bed of the pick-up to be sure we didn't get stepped on.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Sima's picture

@zed2 I agree, the desert out there can be gorgeous. Too hot for me now though, I've lived in the Puget Sound area too long. Even 75 feels 'hot'. On the other hand, I was outside in shorts today, and it topped out at 42 or so! The roads around the valley remind me of Roman roads, long, straight, going 'nowhere'.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

dystopian's picture

@zed2 @zed2 @zed2 Maybe a little geography and bio-geography is in order?

The Panamint Valley, east of San Diego, next to Death Valley. There are cholla and sugaro cactuc.. prickly pear, etc. Its the Sonoran Desert ecosphere.

Just a couple minor details...

I am not sure what an ecosphere is. I am familiar with terms like life-zone, or biome, and bio-geographic region, or eco-region, used to describe biologically unique identifiable habitats, like the Sonoran Desert, or Mojave, Sahara or Gobi Deserts.

The Saguaro cactus is often considered a flagship indicator species of the Sonoran Desert eco-region or biome. As is Gila Monster. The Sonoran Desert encompasses much of Sonora, Mexico, the southern part of Arizona, and extreme southeastern California. There are some few Saguaro in CA right along the lower most Colorado River, but not vert far from it.

This is a decent rough range map for Saguaro cactus from da wiki:
saguaro-range.jpg

Here is a good idea of where the Sonora vs. Mojave Deserts are from da wiki:
Mojave_Sonoran_deserts.jpg

The difference in the above two maps in SE CA... note some consider the far SE CA desert the Lower Coloradan Desert, and a seperate subregion of or from the Sonoran Desert. It is missing Saguaros for starters, and has Mojave tendencies.

Here is da wiki where the Panamint Valley is in east central California: San Diego is roughly due south over a couple hundred miles (too far/off this map).
EasternCAvalleys.jpg

The Panamint Valley is between Death Valley and the Owens Valley. Fairly due north, not east, of San Diego, about 250 miles. It would be due east of about Porterville, Tulare, and Visalia, to the north of Bakersfield.

It is at the northern end of the Mojave Desert. There are essentially no Saguaro in the Mojave Desert (naturally, any are cultivated). The Mojave Desert flagship indicator species would be the Joshua Tree. They are very different deserts, habitats, and eco-regions, or biomes. I spent many hundreds of hours studying the biology in both. Not sure there is a place where Joshua Tree and Saguaro can be found together naturally. Don't think so and doubt it. That is how different the biomes of those two adjacent deserts are. From the biggest most common plant you see on down. I certainly do not recall ever seeing a Saguaro in the Panamint Valley. Nor in the Mojave Desert for that matter, that wasn't obviously planted/cultivated in/at civilization.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

zed2's picture

Are very dense with life, palms, green things.

Because its dry everywhere else around there. You can smell/feel the humidity in the air where there is any.

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zed2's picture

Around a thousand years ago there was a long drought that lasted long enough for a forest to grow. Maybe a hundred years or more. The trees were covered up by water when it ended and still stand there, they never rotted because the water in the alpine lakes is so deep and cold. Now the trees, many hundreds of feet tall, are still down there, festooned with fishing line and fishing lures. People have explored these submerged forests with submersibles and divers have dived down to them.

Stanford University is studying one of them, Fallen Leaf Lake.

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QMS's picture

@zed2

when the lumberjacks harvested the forests in the northern regions of Michigan and Wisconsin, they
tried to float them down to Chicago, in great bunches, to get to market. Invariably, some would get loose. Left to their own devices, many sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan. Divers have found some of these great trunks of virgin timber and have been able to extract them. Their worth is phenomenal as they did not break down over the centuries. In an almost pristine condition. Nature cares for her own. Now valued as specimens of ancient growth for the scientists and cocktail tables for the very rich. Hmm, trees.

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zed2's picture

This rattler was as big around as my leg. Must have been at least ten feet long. Scary!

The hot springs at Dry Creek were a sacred place to the Indians of that area.

I miss the hot springs and the healing green MUD. Sucks all the bad (?) out of your body as it dries. Good for your soul, for sure.

My friends and I used to go up there from San Francisco for the day. This was way back when when you could rent a studio in the Western Edition for $150/mo . Easy living. (Not skanking)

Long long long time before the Googles and the Facebooks and Twitters.

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zed2's picture

Have any of you ever been there? I have only been there once and it was in the middle of the night. For a full moon party back in the early 1990s. "Back in the day"

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enhydra lutris's picture

@zed2

upper Crystal Springs Reservoir. Went once to check it out, pretty cool as I recall, but no real desire to go back.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Good to see you again. And topics that are pretty meaningful to me. I grew up in Texas on a small family farm so water and drought years were at the front of our thoughts. I moved to Seattle and then longer in Oakland/Berkeley/SF where I became kind of intrigued by the recent history of water in California.
The Owens valley and LA vs Hetch-Hetchy and SF (speaking of man-made reservoirs that flooded a very special valley); and the perceived difference in the drought years that us Northern California residents were scrimping in saving water while the folks in LA were still hosing off their driveways etc.
Now here in Oregon, there are serious water fights. Two are really heated: the Klamath basin where the Native Americans, Farmers and Salmon fishermen all have competing stakes in too little water. And in Eastern Oregon near Bend. Farmers with historical water rights (and still using flood irrigation in the dessert!) fighting against newer farmers with little to nothing, even though they are potentially more productive, fighting against the golf courses and the resort industry (manmade water ski lakes--in the MFing dessert)...

Also, thanks for the Slaid Cleaves! I had not heard of him, but I really like him and will listen to him more. Kind of feels like John Prine mixed with Christy Moore with maybe a hint of Gordon Lightfoot. I listen to John Prine type music when I'm cleaning the kitchen for some reason, Celtic Punk when I'm exercising and then mostly classical with a bit of Jazz/funk/rock/blues the rest, so..I can relate to your taste.

All the best.

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Sima's picture

@peachcreek Southern Ca water - As a northerner, that always got me. Even when I was only 14 or so. THEY get the water, and have their green lawns and so on, and WE have to go around scrimping. I know it's changed, but even then I could understand the urge to split the state in two, or three even. Of course, there's the huge central valley, which needs water to grow a lot of the food the USA eats...

Heh, eastern Washington, is like eastern Oregon, I think. Dry, grows a lot of grain, and of course, fruit. The Columbia River supplies so much water for that agriculture. And the rivers flowing down the eastern sides of the Cascades. But... with climate change, there are the fires, and the droughts, and stuff that never really happened much before.

Very happy to have introduced you to Slaid! I think we have a lot in common in musical tastes... celtic punk!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so