Wondering about wild grapes

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Just going to show you a few things around my home and swamp that I haven't shown before. This first picture is of Elephant Ears planted next to our deck. They grow well there since that is where the pipe ends that comes from the air-conditioning unit. That AC drain supplies enough moisture to allow this plat to flourish.

I did not know that they bloomed, but they do. Here is a picture showing the bloom of this plant.

You have to look closely at this picture. Right in the very middle of it, just above the water's edge, is a bear spot of dirt. Sitting on top of that small dirt mound is a Nutria. It is the darker brown colored spot. Couldn't get any closer or it would have dove under the water or would have ran into the brush. They look like huge rats or over-grown Muskrats. They easily get over 12 pounds. Some people raise them for food. I just like to watch them in the wild. Since they are mostly nocturnal, it is hard to get good pictures of them.

And it got too late for pictures of Nutria, but the swamp is still visible.

Nothing starts the evening off better than the moon lighting your way.

This is a Pileated Woodpecker. They are the largest woodpecker in America. As large or larger than a crow. They can be heard before they are seen. They have a shrill, rasping call, and of course it sounds like someone hammering a board when they start searching for insects. Very unique bird. They usually are seen in twos or threes. Very rarely are they completely alone.

The wonder of nature!!! I love to be out-doors and close to nature. Man-made objects and structures can never compare to what Mother Nature can do. There is beauty in everything, no matter how small. Even a blade of grass, if you take time to look. It is amazing the life that goes on in just one square foot of your back yard!! Take time to look.

Friday, July 30, 2010


And a good TGIF day to you. As promised yesterday, I will tell the rest of the pig story, starting from the beginning. It all began back in the Fall of 2006. I discovered a lot of rooting around my place and didn't like pigs tearing up everything, so started to carry a gun with me while out walking around. I spotted this small pig under a big Oak tree and before I could get my gun up, it was gone. . . and I mean, it ran faster than a deer. Never did get a good shot at it. Only time I could have, it was in line with a neighbor's house and I couldn't shoot.

My son lives on the back of my property and he said he had seen the little pig rubbing up against his fence with one of his dogs on the inside and the pig on the outside. In jest, I told him he ought to let the pig in. A few days later I was walking past his place and saw the pig in with the dogs. I phoned him at work and said "I see that you took my advice and let the pig in the fence". Well, he said that he definitely did not!

Seems that little rascal some how got under the fence. From then on, it thought it was a dog, I do believe. And for some reason, his two big dogs took to it, but his little Yorkie, did not. This picture was taken in October, 2006:

It started growing, but stayed in the fence with the dogs. We could hand feed it, but it didn't like people and got real nervous if it could see more than one person at a time. This next picture was taken in May of 2007. She had started to grow.

She got real nervous when there were more than one person around and would hide if that person was not my son or me. As she grew she seemed to get less satisfied and finally broke out. She kept returning now and then for food and to sleep under his porch, but the visits became less frequent and far between, until she reverted back to wild again. This pictures was taken just at the edge of the mowed part of my back yard:

My four dogs did not like her. At first she didn't bother with them, but as time went by, she tried to break in to either get them or to play with them. Either way, it would be very dangerous for the small dogs. Now, everytime the pig shows up, I have to run out and bring the dogs in before she comes through the fence. Which she does quite ofter

OK, not only was she a wild girl, it looks like she was a "bad girl", too. This next picture was taken in May of 2009, and she had developed milk and it looked like she would have a litter some time soon:

Yep, she had eight little black piglets. She liked to come up in my back yard and nurse them. Here is picture of a few of the piglets nursing:

The piglets disapeared, and later I saw that my son had a pig trap and must have caught them. Mama was too smart for that. So she is still around. The following picture shows her after she broke down the dogs fence standing at the foot of the stairs to my back porch. She seems to be wanting to come in, or is she wanting us to come out and "play"?

This last picture shows here earlier this year after she broke into the fence. You can see one of the posts that she pulled out. She puts her snout under the fence and raises it up. But sometimes she just busts through. She has even broken off a couple of the posts. Looked like they were sheard off at ground level.
Because of her beginning, I am hesitant to do away with her. But, I must admit, it would be better around here if she were not here, but it would be less exciting. . .

You all enjoy your weekend, you hear?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Good morning, hope today brings you all more good things than expected.
I was watching an old TV show last night, Gunsmoke. The Western channel has brought back some of the oldies, like Maverick, Cheyenne, Have Gun Will Travel, The Virginian, Cimeron Strip, etc. They sure bring back memories. Anyway, I head Festus (on Gunsmoke), use the word "cabbage" in a way unrelated to the vegetable. It was the second show that I heard him use that word. He used it to mean "get away from doing something", I believe.
This got me to thinking about all the different local sayings and the unique way different words are used for a meaning that only the local people understand. Now, as I said before in one of my blogs, I may have lived a protected life and that is why things surprise me when I hear them, but I don't think I am that different than most people my age. First let me explain that back when I was young, the majority of people grew up, went to school, got a job, raised a family, and died within 30 to 50 miles of where they were born. That is probably why I was so surprised at the different meaning put to words and the different words that I heard in different localities.
Let me start out with my first year (the Fall of 1961) at Pennsylvania State University. Penn State is located in central Pennsylvania and I was raised in western PA up north of Pittsburgh. So Penn State was not that far away but it had students from all over the state.
I told a couple guys that I had to get back and "red up" my room. They asked if I was going to paint it red. In my neck of the woods, "red up" means to tidy up, clean up, neaten up, straighten up, and I have also heard "rid up". My first taste of "the rest of the world". I am sure I learned a lot more words at college than I ever heard at home (grin), but that was my first experience of finding out that word usage was different in different places.
I moved to Michigan much later in life. There, they pronounced words a lot different. My boss told me to check out a problem on the roof. I had to ask him a half dozen times where he wanted me go. He pronounced roof as "rough" or like a dog barks, "ruff". There were a lot of new words to learn, also.
Moved to Texas in 1980. Now, that was a whole new world of language. In fact, you could purchase a book on how to speak Texan. The first word problem I ran into was again at work. When I asked a co-worker a question, he told me to"boogie" on over and ask Joe. I was bewildered. "Boogie", I thought was some kind of dance. Heck, I didn't know Joe well enough to dance with him (grin). Well, as all you Texans know, he wanted me to "go" over and talk with Joe.
Worked a few years on a project in North Carolina. To start off with, when you say BBQ in Texas, it means beef and usually brisket, but in North Carolina it means pork. So right off had a language problem. But this phrase got me when I was told to "get up with" Joe over in the tool room. What the heck did they want me to do with Joe??? I found out that it meant to meet or talk with someone.
There are a lot more and I am sure a lot that I haven't heard (since I live this protected life). So, please let me hear what different and/or strange local sayings you have been confronted with.
Now, dang it, I have to go mend the dog's fence in the rear of my house. The local feral hog just tore it down again. This pig is huge and seems to get bigger and more aggressive every year. It is not afraid of dogs, since she grew up with a couple of them (a story for another time), but returned to the wild at a young age. If you saw the blog I posted on my swamp, you would see why this pig loves my place. She is not going to leave peacefully.
Here is a picture I took early this year of her next to the dogs' fence. That fence is 48" high. That will give you some idea of how huge she is. I don't know how to estimate a pig's weight, but she must weigh at least as much as four men, don't you think? Let me know what you think she weighs.

Remember, you should be able to enlarge the picture by clicking on it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wandering to Special Places

During my wanderings I have been to some very special places. Almost everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc., but some are not very well known and not too many people have visited them. Today I want to talk about a place I found by word of mouth. Maybe everyone else had heard of this place and one of its special desert dessert treats, but not me. What, do you think I live a protected life? (grin)

OK, guess you thought that I didn't know which way to spell the word I wanted, so I typed both desert and dessert above. No, it is correct. Although there is surely more places, this place is the only place I have heard of that sells a dessert from the desert. Yep, prickly pear ice cream, and is it GOOD!!!! We are going to go to Tortilla flats, Arizona this morning and have some of their goooooood BBQ and a prickly pear ice cream cone. Sounds good to me, let's go. . . .

This place is special, not just because of the ice cream, but because of the scenic views and twisting road that takes you there. I suppose that I am the only person in the world that hadn't heard of Tortilla Flats in Arizona'a Superstition Mountains. Have all of you heard of the place and have any of you been there?

We are starting the trip by heading north out of Apeche Junction on route 88, here we go:

One of the many curves, some of which have deep drop-offs without any guard rails:

Looking down on Canyon Lake from afar:

A closer look at the lake:

And looking across the lake at the water line:

Destination in sight. See the little yellow star? Right below it is Tortilla Flats. Look close, it is just a little village:

Look, we made it!! Now we stop and have that BBQ and go over to the General Store and get some of that Prickly Pear Ice Cream:

Another view of the place:

Heading back out the way we came in. This is a view of the lake from the other side:

Almost back to Apache Junction:

Now, wasn't that a nice trip with some good eats? Maybe some day I can meet you there and we can haave some of that prickly pear ice cream.

You can pick on the pictures to enlarge them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Having Problems

OK, I have been having troubles with posting my blog today. I must have woke up this morning all thumbs, bucause I had to upload my pictures time and time again. While moving them and deleting empty spaces, it seems somehow I managed to delete the pictures. Not just once, but many times. I am disgusted with myself, aftger 4 hours of trying, I am going to give up for today.

I thought that I had it all perfect and BINGO, wiped out two more pictures. Then things got all scrambled up. Mentioning scrambled reminds me of scrambled eggs and also reminds me that I was so intent on getting this to work that I missed breakfast. Dang, the world might come to an end!!!

Just image that there is a very well composed and nicely written blog posted here with just magnificent and beautiful pictures. . . . OK, I guess that is asking too much, but it was worth a try.

Tune in tomorrow for another try. Maybe a different subject? Maybe even a blog!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Along the River

Got to thinking about some old experiences. The "Fat Man Adventures" http://ofmadventures.blogspot.com/ blog posted late last night showed pictures of wooden boats. Barney likes and has kayaks and I have and like canoes. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania in small railroad towns, Foxburg and Phillipston. My paternal Grandpa was a conductor for the B&O and my maternal Grandpa was an engineer for the PRR. Foxburg was unique because it had a double-decker bridge, cars on the lower level and trains on the upper level.

This is an old 1950 picture showing the Foxburg bridge and a B&O engine. The cars used the lower portion. There was a lot of public pressure to restore this bridge, but they lost out a couple of years ago when it was demolished and replaced by a new cement automotive bridge, no more RR.

Just down the river a few miles was the city of Parker. At one time, it held the title of the smallest "City" in the U.S.. I am not sure what the rules are to determine if a place is a city, a town, a village, etc. Do you know?

Anyway, it had a bridge that had a steep incline from one side to the other. Back when I was a boy, it was the only bridge of it's size that did so.

A lot further down the river is Phillipston. It, too, was a railroad town that had a round table for turning engines around, a maintenance shop, and living quarters for the railroad crews.

OK, got off the subject some. What I want to say is I spent a lot of time on the river and most of it in canoes or row boats. In fact, I was in a canoe before I could walk. I inherited a Kennebec and an Old Town, both fabric covered. Toward the end of their lives, I exchanged the fabric for fiberglass. I remember one time before the fiberglass, when I was putting new fabric on the Kennebec, I got the idea on how to get it real tight. I went to our local small airport and got some of that dope that they used to shrink the fabric on airplanes. (Are you old enough to remember fabric covered airplanes? I have been in a few). Boy was that a mistake. It did too good of a job, pulled the fabric loose from the gunnels and dang near buckled the canoe. Live and learn.

This is not where I planned to go with my blog this morning. Got way off the track, but hope you enjoyed it anyway. I was going to tell you about a few unusual places that I have been, that was, until I read Barney's blog and saw the wooden boat pictures. Just sort of brought back some memories. I really had a good time when I was a kid. Would do it all over again at the drop of a hat, if I could.

And remember, save all those wooden nickels that nobody else wants. You may need them some cold, damp morning to start a fire.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wondering About The Night Sky

I like being out side and I like to be out at night. The being out at night started me wondering about the night sky. Well, with raising a family and trying to make a living, it sort of got pushed to the back burner, the doing something about it, not the wondering. Then one day I purchased a magazine off while out shopping. It was "Astronomy". I read it from cover to cover, then subscribed to it. I am still getting it and am still reading it from cover to cover.

Then one day I took my wife to some yard sales and one of them had a small telescope for sale at a "give a way" price that I just could not refuse and it found a home with me. It had a 5" diameter tube, but only about a 3" diameter main mirror. Not a "big" scope by any means but one that worked and would open up a whole new world to me.

Spent a lot of time with that scope. It had a long focal length and was on an equatorial mount. It really was a nice scope. I saw some amazing things. Of course the fist time you see Saturn, it is awesome, and Jupiter with all it's colors and moons. But my favorite things to view were, and still are, globular star clusters and nebulae.

I did have some once in a life time experiences and maybe even greater odds than that. The first one was I was intently gazing at a emission dust cloud and all of a sudden a lighted window with a person in it flashed by. I jerked away from the eye piece with shock until I realized what really happened. I live around 20 miles or so (as the crow flies) north of the biggest Houston airport. A plane had taken off and must have done just a gradual ascent and passed my scopes field of view at a fairly low altitude or it was business jet coming into or leaving the Conroe airport which is only a few miles from my. Either way it was a shock. . .

The other experience was even better, cause it most likely will not happen again soon, if ever. And, I didn't realize what I had seen until the next day. Well, what happened was that I was observing Jupiter and admiring all the bands and spots and then I saw a flash near the edge of the planet. I later found out that it was the comet that broke up and hit Jupiter. Yep, over the next few weeks I kept going back and looking at all the dark marks on Jupiter's surface caused by the pieces of comet. What good luck I had.

I guess I am rambling on too much, but do have to tell the rest of the story.

I decided that I needed a bigger scope. I checked the adds and found a Meade Dobsonian with a 16" primary mirror. My wife asked if I purchased it, where would I store a big thing like that. Well, at the time (never have seen one in person) I pulled out a tape measure and showed her 16 inches and that it would probably be about 4 foot tall and could just sit beside the fireplace.

I was working a project at a manufacturing plant when my wife called and said an eighteen wheel truck driver called and wants to know where he can unload a shipment for me. Great, I thought, here comes my telescope. I called him back and we both agreed it would be easier for him to unload at the loading dock at the plant I was at. Well, what a surprise I had, when the fork lift brought out two huge crates. They put them in my truck and I took them home to find it was a little bigger than I had imagined. Here is a picture of the pieces:

The mirror alone was about 100 pounds, more or less. Well, I managed to get it put together:

And get it outside to use. Had to build a cart to move it around on:
In 2003 I went to my first "star party" and Lake Whitney State Park. That State Park had an air port and that allowed for a better view of the sky.
And here are views at the star party, setting up and waiting for night fall.
I went back in 2004. Sorry to say I have not been back since.

There are a couple of reasons why I don't use it as much as I used to, other than getting old and lazy. One is the weight and size, shipping weight was 265 lbs. The other is transportation. When I owned a pick-up truck with a cap, I had a weather tight place to haul the scope around. I no longer have a truck and I have no way of transporting it.
The newer models break down into pieces. I was wondering if I could cut the middle out of the tube, cut some lightening holes or slots in what is left and use aluminum tubing to hold it together with some system to always get it back together in the same exact place. I sketched up this idea. What do you think:

You only need two tools in life ~ WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Deck/Porch

The "Flying Tortoise" requested some pictures of my home and my motor-home. Well, being late as usual, I will today try to fulfill the first part of that request, but first, a wondering.

I always wonder what goes on inside the minds of animals. Although it is nigh on to impossible to know what lurks in the mind of mankind, the animal would should be a little simpler, or maybe not. I know my pets think, understand commands, plan, love, hate, and when I give out treats, I am sure they can count. "Hey" the one dog says, "you gave them two more than you gave me". Well, she didn't actual speak that to me, but I could see it in her eyes and body language. What do you all think about what goes on inside your pet's mind. Let us know.

Did you ever see the TV clip on the The Texas Country Reporter about Skidboot, the smartest dog in the world?

OK back to the Tortoise's request. I don't have a lot of pictures of my house, but I do of the deck and porches and they show part of the house.

I have three doors that I call the front, side, and back. I have no picture of the front door and very seldom use it. Let us start this grand tour at the back door. It is a sliding glass doors that open up onto a screened in porch that has two ceiling fans with lights:

The same porch looking in from the outside:
And from another angle:

And this picture is of the same porch taken from outside at night:
This is looking in at the side door and the open, but roofed, porch:

And at a different angle:

And light up at night:

Enough of that. As you probably guessed, the home is "double wide" that has over 2500 sq feet of living area, with four bedrooms (turned two of them into offices) and three full bathrooms. The exterior is "Hardiplank", a cement fiber siding that really helps to sound proof the home. It sits back on my 12 acres and is almost impossible to see from the road. Part of the property is a half acre that is only 60 feet wide which gives me access to the road. I, therefore, only have 60 foot road frontage.
It is quite isolated, and I like it that way. In an earlier post I showed my swamp. I love going out on the back porch and listening to the frogs and owls.
I will end this blog with a proven remedy: If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Old Lincoln

OK, I am back wondering again. Yep, just thinking about automobiles and the progress in design and technology. Have we really come that far?

In my lifetime I have seen a lot changes in style and performance. Some good and some bad.

Let's take style. We went from a box shape to flowing shapes to fins to big to small, just about any style and shape imaginable. Now, it seems we are going back to small box shapes.

When I was very young, my Dad had a car that I wish I had today. It had sleek, flowing lines and a powerful engine. It was 12 cylinder Lincoln.

The first picture below shows a rear view of the car with my Mother standing beside it and me in the driver's seat:

Now, don't tell me that doesn't have flowing lines. . . The next picture shows a front view and my Dad holding me. Notice it has a one piece windshield.

Yep, I was cute at one time.
Now let's discuss performance. Let's see, it had a V-12 engine that was very fuel efficient but had extreme power and quick acceleration. Nothing like that produced in this country. I have a V-10 in my motor-home. It may have more torque, but the old V-12 was a quicker engine.
What is your opinion on the subject? It seems we have gone in a circle and ended up somewhere near the beginning. Or maybe this Dizzy guy is just going around in circles. . .
Remember, you can't run in a circle fast enough to catch your tail if you don't have a tail.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Fuel Drag Racing

Sorry, I am a little late getting today's blog on. Got a call last night and actually got a paying job. Worked last night and finished up this morning. Paid for the groceries this week. Had to do something, Ben and I didn't win the lottery. (grin).

I love NHRA Top Fuel Drag Racing. It is the only sport that I watch on TV and the only sport that I attend in person when the tour comes to the Houston area. I am HOOKED on it. Have the same three seats for the past 4 years at Houston Raceway Park on the west side of Baytown.

It is something that you can not explain to someone. You have to be there in person to feel it. And feel it you do. The hole earth shakes and you feel it clean down to your bones. The top fuel dragsters and the top fuel funny cars run about 8000 horse power. Yes I said eight thousand!!! They burn pure nitro-methane. Here is a picture of the top of drum of that stuff:

For the last couple years, since Scott Kalitta ran off the end of the track in New Jersey and was killed, they have shortened the length to the finish line for the two nitro burning classes. They now only run a 1000 feet, not the normal quarter mile (1320 feet). They still get over 300 mph in less than 4 seconds. Normal runs for the top fuel dragsters are about 3.88 seconds and 310 mph. They hit speeds of 280 mph in the eighth mile (660 feet). They are the fastest accelerating vehicles, including jets and rockets, that man has ever ridden in. Not only the feeling, but the sound, the smells (burnt rubber and nitro), the excitement. Below are two pictures of burn outs. The first is a top fuel dragster and the second is a top fuel funny car.

Nitro fumes will choke you up and make your eyes water if you get too close when they test fire the cars in the pits. Yes, you can get up and personal in the pit area. You can meet the drivers and watch them completely rebuild their motors after every run. They are given a maximum of 75 minutes to get back to the starting line.

And a funny car driver, Ashley Force Hood, the daughter of John Force.

I have a lot more pictures, but I think you get the idea. They also run Pro Stock, Pro Mods, Top Alcohol, and more. It is an all day affair and one I look forward to every year. Check out the NHRA website: http://www.nhra.com/

A note for Ben, You say you didn't hit the lottery yet. We just can't understand that. They say that the odds are close to getting hit with lightning and you had that happen three (3) times!!! Did you hear about the lady in Bishop, TX that won it three (3) times. Do you think she was hit with lightning three times, also????