With 107 degrees today (June 10), it seems the "Dog Days of Summer" have arrived early. At any rate, it is what it is until we finally get our big, long overdue soaking rain that will show up eventually. Meanwhile, a variety of things cross my mind as I consider all the buzz that's happening in our fair city.

First of all, the Southwest Kansas Live On Stage organization will soon be selecting the concerts and shows for our 2014-15 season. Our annual meeting was held Sunday evening, and the board of directors, including several new members, will get together Aug. 16 to make the choices. The first concert of the 2013-14 season will be Sept. 11, with six others to follow, all for the low price of $55 per member or $135 per family.

Unfortunately, some folks here in "the Garden Spot" and southwest Kansas, don't even know or have forgotten about Live On Stage and all the wonderful, incredible entertainment it has brought us since its formation in 1946 (formerly the Community Concert Association).

Originally, the programs were mostly classical music, but now we have a wider array of presentations in hopes of reaching those who appreciate more variety.

In short, Live On Stage adds to the quality of life of our community and the area. It's a super entertainment opportunity and a big, big bargain for your pocketbook. Kudos to our friend, Carlene Schweer/Lightcap, as president these past five years, and to her board and worker members, for a great job well done! Send your checks to LOS, Box 1827, Garden City!

Beef Empire Days activities these past 10 days have made the city seem more like a beehive, rather than the "Buckle of the Beef Belt," its previous advertising slogan. The Commerce Bank pancake feed, the parade and other events reportedly went well, so we appreciate all the work and efforts of the BED board and other groups that create such a successful event each year.

With all the new commercial construction, road and sidewalk work being done, one would swear our city is much larger, especially when being involved in any noon-day traffic at almost any spot.

Last month we took a jaunt to East Village Hot Springs, Ark., to visit an artist friend, Terry Odell, and his wife. Then a shorter, extended trip to Starkville, Miss., to touch base with my high school '49er classmate, Bill Parrish, and spouse, Helen Sue. He's now a retired MSU history professor. We enjoyed seeing a new collection of President Ulysses S. Grant artifacts, now at the MSU library, as well as an incredible collection of original music record players by Edison and the Victrola Co., some of which we got to hear.

In Arkansas, a round of golf, some exceptionally delicious catfish, a trip to Hot Springs proper, including the 200-foot-plus observation tower, added to our delightful visit. Odell is a talented classical guitarist, water colorist and potter. Luckily, he plans to be here for Art In The Park on Sept. 21, so folks will have a chance to see and buy his beautiful art.

The countryside was incredibly green and lush most of the way down and back, with cattle often belly deep in the grass, their calves almost invisible. All the ponds, creeks and rivers, including the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers, were near full to running over! We, of course, were truly jealous about all this excessive moisture and requested that our friends put out a bucket to catch rainwater and ship it to us for use as a primer the minute it gets full!

News of increasing theft of cell phones by muggers reminds me of the experience related by our son-in-law recently: While he and Sabrina were walking a friend's dog, they followed the owner's instructions to carry a "poop scooper" and plastic bag to clean up after the pooch along the way. A strange-looking fellow accosted them, demanding to use their cell phone. Being suspicious of his attitude and erratic demeanor, they advised, actually truthfully in Tom's case, that they didn't have a phone with them. The fellow disputed that answer, insisting that they hand over their phone! Concerned they were about to be assaulted, Tom proffered up the only item he had available to give: the bag of dog poop, definitely not a "concealed carry" item! Dumb, but not stupid, the would-be thief ran off leaving our dear son-in-law "holding the bag!"

Duane West, a longtime resident and former mayor of Garden City, is a member of The Telegram board of contributing writers.