Wondering about wild grapes

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birch Bark Canoes

My cousin took a vacation to Maine and on his trip he stopped at the Penobscot Marine Museum. He was kind enough to send me a few pictures and gave me permission to post them here. Since Maine is way far away, I will probably never get back there (was there when I was 5 or 6 years old). He also sent other pictures of his trip that I enjoyed. Guess I will have to ask him if I can share some of them with all of you. He went to one other place that was unique and it made me laugh.

This first picture is of an old Birch Bark canoe. Not really in too good of shape. I guess pieces of it could have been used as fire starters. . .

Now, the museum is building a new one. The next two pictures show the project in process:

Did you know that in America, the Birch Bark canoe originated in New England? But, did you know that early Europeans made them? Take a look here.

I mentioned toward the end of an older blog (http://dizzydick.blogspot.com/2010/07/along-river.html) about the two canoes that I had and how good ideas on how to re-canvas them didn’t turn out too well. On down the road I fiber-glassed them. They are both gone now, but for awhile the ribs of one appeared above the water of my swamp and looked ever so much like a dinosaur skeleton. I got a store bought plastic one now, I believe it is a Coleman.

Have you ever seen white birch trees, especially in the Fall, when all the leaves are turning color? It is a beautiful sight. Get some Maples mixed in with the birch and you get shades of yellow, orange, and red – black trunks mixed in with white trunks. Quite a view, kind of makes me homesick for the Appalachian Mountains in the autumn. . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

Local Foods

A lot of the blogs I have been reading lately are showing or talking about food. It kind of got me a wondering again. You used to be able to tell where you were just by the food that was being served and the smells of it cooking. You know, like flying into an airport and smell the food cooking. Back 30 years or more, food was more localized then it is now.

Let’s go way back to the Civil War. The Yankees didn’t burn the fields of “cow peas” because they thought they were only good for cattle feed. I smile about that every time I enjoy a bowl of black eyed peas, with maybe some purple hull peas mixed in. That Yankee mistake helped feed some of the southern families.

Let me give you another example from my personal experiences. Back when I first moved to Texas around 1980, I didn’t know what a lot of things listed on the menu were. For instance, what the heck is “chicken fried steak” or “corndogs”? Made sense after I saw what they were, but you wouldn’t believe what all was going through my mind trying to picture what they were. And another thing, at that time period in Pennsylvania, no one ate catfish. Myself, I was only familiar with mud-cats. Didn’t know what a channel cat was. But my first taste was a joy and a very pleasant surprise.

And Tex-Mex foods, what a treat. Mexican food served in restaurants up north was a pitiful laugh when you could find it. When I first moved to this area, one of the workers brought in some home-made tamales and offered me one. Everyone in the office was watching me and when I tried to bite into one, they all started laughing and laughing. Someone was nice enough to tell me that the corn husks should be removed before you ate them.

Of course a Texan of that time period would be equally confused with a menu in Pennsylvania. Things like Pierogi, Kolbasa, and Goulash. Of course he would have to wash it down with Iron City Beer instead of Lone Star Beer.

The examples could go on forever and for different locations, but you get the idea. What do you think; is the ethnic food types spreading and diluting as time goes on?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Got Her Done

As you know, if you read yesterday’s blog, I tore into my computer. I had this computer built for me to my specifications (I thought), as I do all my computers except the laptops. On this last one, the sound card never worked properly and the sound was distorted. I was busy and didn’t get a chance to get back to the computer store where I got it for a couple of weeks. When I did go back to complain, they were out of business. No one there. I bet that they used up any old thing lying around to put together my computer, knowing that they would be gone in a few days. Wonder what else may be below standard?

Anyway, changing out sound cards sounded pretty easy to me, so I went and got my tools. See picture below:

The trick was getting the case open. My last computer was build in a “Cooler Master” case, which has umpteen more fans than a regular case and easy to take apart. Not so with this one. Well, I got all the screws out but couldn’t get any part of the case to slide out of lift off. Even tried a little prying, not with the crow-bar shown, but was getting ready to get a really big hammer. Just then a side panel falls off and exposes just what I needed to see. (The threat of the really big hammer must have worked.) Took the screw out, removed the old sound card, put the new one in the now empty slot, and replaced the screw. See, I was right, it was easy. Put the case back together and put it back on my work desk.
Now, I had all these wires to put back in place, and by golly, they all seemed to fit somewhere. Ain’t this job going well? Actually, it was going too well.
Fired it up and everything came on fine, I thought. I am running Windows XP Pro on this machine and when I went to pick the box to open my settings, the curser would not move. Hey, the mouse isn’t working. How long has it been since you tried to navigate into programs and such with only a keyboard. Kind of brings back old memories of the good old days.
I finally got signed in and since I already had the CD with the driver for the sound card in the player, I went ahead and loaded that and got it set up. For some reason that I can not explain, my OS couldn’t find the mouse or its driver. I unplugged it and plugged it into a different USB port and low and behold, it found the new hardware. Disconnected it and plugged it back in where it was and all still works. And, the icing on the cake is that I got real sound now, just like when I put my hearing aids in my ears.
I finally got signed in and since I already had the CD with the driver for the sound card in the player, I went ahead and loaded that and got it set up. For some reason that I can not explain, my OS couldn’t find the mouse or its driver. I unplugged it and plugged it into a different USB port and low and behold, it found the new hardware. Disconnected it and plugged it back in where it was and all still works. And, the icing on the cake is that I got real sound now, just like when I put my hearing aids in my ears.
We have had some drier air around here for the last couple of days and it sure felt better. But, this morning when I stepped outside, that dang humidity is back. Oh well, in another three or four months it will be cooler, maybe. . .

Have a nice day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ham Breakfast

Going to cut this short today, am off to a Ham breakfast. No, not ham and eggs, well maybe ham and eggs, but Ham is for Amateur Radio. Our local Hams have a breakfast once a month to get together and chat. Don’t make a lot of sense, since we chat on the air all the time (grin). It puts faces to the voices.

When I get back, I am going to tear this old computer apart and change out some stuff. If you don’t hear back from me, you know I didn’t do it right. It is easy, right? Just unplug and slide stuff out of slots and slide stuff back in and plug in. OK, now maybe I am a bit confused . . . but think I will do it anyway. Last time I had a computer geek out here it cost me money and he didn’t fix a thing. Twenty minutes after he left, everything went back to where it had been.

OK, got to run.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fishing for . . . . What?

Yes, I know, you are getting tired of fishing stories, but this is not quite the usual fishing story. Bear with me while I try to tell this just as it happened.

It was back a few years ago, probably around 15 or 20 years ago, I decided to take a break and go catch me a big ole bass out of my swamp. It was still daylight, so just put a big old plastic worm on the hook with a worm sinker. Figured that I would just go down to what we called the dam area. Sometimes I spelled it differently (grin).

It was quiet and the water was smooth as glass. I walked softly over to where the woods came into the water. There were some tall weeds to my right that created a wall that couldn’t be penetrated with a fishing lure. So, I cast the worm over some low water plants and out into the open water. Got a strike on the first cast, but missed it. Sometimes the smaller bass go after those big old worms and only get the tail, so figured that is what happened.

Not another bump on the next half dozen casts, but then I got a whopper of a hit. Bent my casting rod dang near double. I set the hook real good and got ready for a good fight. Good fight indeed!!! “This had to be the Mother of all bass, a real hog, probably mated with a whale at some point”; my mind was trying to comprehend this whopper on the other end of my line.

Then I got it worked close enough to shore so I could get a glimpse of it. It was no fish, but a big ole Cotton-Mouth Snake!!! Well, I was not going to be outdone by a snake, so I kept fighting it until I got it into the shallow water where those water plants and grasses where. Well, he (or she) wrapped itself around all the weeds it could get a hold of. I pulled as hard as I could and had the pole doubled over.

Then my mind remembered a small part of a movie I had seen. Do you remember the 1988 film with Chevy Chase called “Funny Farm”? There was a part in it where Chevy was fishing in the tank (farm pond) and yanked in a big ole snake that wrapped around his neck and he had to fight it off. Well, I admit, I may not be as smart as Einstein, but at that moment I was being dumber than the character Chevy Chase was playing in that movie. So, just as I was coming to my senses and was contemplating cutting the line, it saved me the trouble and broke. If those weeds the snake had wrapped itself around had pulled out or broke off, I would have had a poisonous, mad snake wrapped around my neck instead of a movie prop. I’ll bet the writers for that movie would have never guessed that something like that could happen in real life.

Ok, now I will promise not to have another fishing story for you tomorrow. . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ole Ben Got me a Wondering

Ole Ben’s blog yesterday got me to a wondering and reminiscing about some of my old fishing experiences and stories I have heard. Now, I want to state that everything in this blog is true unless stated otherwise. . .

I worked a contract job on the east coast of N.C. and one of the fellows that I worked with and whom I considered a good friend, loved to go offshore fishing. He had a big Maco open fishing boat just shy of 30 feet long with two 150 hp Evinrudes. Long enough to usually be able to get on top of two or more waves at a time and that makes for a smoother ride the 25 or 30 miles out to the Gulf Stream and the same back in.

Anyway, let me get to the point. Ben mentioned Cobia in his blog and that reminded me of my friend’s story. I may not remember it correctly, but I know one of my readers may know this story and he has my permission to correct it.

The way most offshore fishing trips start out is the catching of live bait. In the inland water-ways inside the inlet at Carolina Beach, there were always schools of Menhaden around. My friend would spot a school, head toward them, and stand on the bow of the boat with his net while the boat drifted up to the school. He had a huge throw net, much larger than anything I could handle, but he could throw it and it would open up and land over the schools of fish.

Although I can not remember if it was him or one of his fishing buddies that threw the net in this story, I am inclined to believe it was him because very few people could handle such a huge net.

There is a rope that you attach to your wrist with a slip knot that keeps you from losing the net. The net was thrown with perfect precision over the school of Menhaden, but was not known to the thrower was that a large Cobia had been feeding off the school and that is why they had come to the surface. The net fell over the Menhaden and also over the large Cobia. As the lead weights around the edges took the net down and over the fish, the rope was yanked hard to close off the bottom of the net.

Then all “H” broke out. The poor fellow didn’t expect what was to happen next. He was yanked right off the bow of that boat and into the water. Of course that Cobia headed down into deep water, dragging the guy along behind. The force of the large fish pulling this fellow tightened the rope around his wrist and he could not get it loose. He fought and fought and when he had used up all the air in his lungs, he thought that he was going to drown. One last huge effort, and he got loose and headed up and broke through the surface gasping for air.

He lost his expensive net and it took him awhile and at an expense to replace it, but at least he survived to fish again. Wonder what goes through his mind every time he throws that net after that experience?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fish & Sunsets

Wish I had pictures of some of the fish that my sons and I caught when out fishing. One time on Grapevine Lake we paddled up a creek and my oldest son caught two whoppers out of the same brush pile. We kept them and the two totaled just slightly over 16 pounds. Really nice. I am glad I have good memories of him, since he was killed 11 years ago in a highway accident. OK, the first part of this ole blog is for Billy-Bob since he commented on my last blog asking where the pics of the fish were.

He got me a WONDERING why I don’t have any pictures of fish that I have caught. Good question, I guess there were multiple reasons. Maybe it is because back in the old days a camera was not part of the fishing tackle and then too, we usually fished at night. As far back as I can remember, my Dad and I fished out of an old Kennebec canoe at night for bass that were in by the shore feeding. A big ole bass caught in shallow water on a surface plug is a joy to behold. My Dad brought home an old Old Town Canoe the day before he died. Both canoes are memories, and now I have a plastic one, but it works.

Probably had some old pictures of fish on film or slides, but I can’t find any. Then the last few years, I mostly caught and released. Some, I released in my swamp. You know, to give the bass new blood.

Wish I had pictures of some of the fish that my sons and I caught when out fishing. One time on Grapevine Lake we paddled up a creek and my oldest son caught two whoppers out of the same brush pile. We kept them and the two totaled just slightly over 16 pounds. Really nice. I am glad I have good memories of him, since he was killed 11 years ago in a highway accident.

His son, my grandson was fishing my swamp one day a couple of years ago and I took this picture of two that he caught.

I have a lot of fishing and hunting stories to tell, some of them are really funny. Like Ben says, remind me someday and I will tell you about them.

I think I will close this blog today with pictures of sunsets.

These first three pictures were taken from the BJ's RV Park at Terlingua. The first one is looking through the Ocotillo.

This next one was taken looking over Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania.

The next four pictures were taken at Galveston State Park looking west along the Gulf shore.

The next four pictures were taken in Arizona. Seems there is a sunset in every State.

And the last pictures were taken from my place in Cut & Shoot, TX.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

McKinney Falls State Park

Hurricane Ike was on its way and we were getting ready to hunker down, but then got to thinking, both my house and my motor-home where sitting here beside each other. I could move the motor-home but not the house. So we decided to pack up and hit the road. Headed for Bastrop State Park, since we had been there and liked it.

When we got there, we were told because of all the tall trees, it would be closed until after the storm passed. OK, where to now? They said to try McKinney Falls State Park just outside Austin. OK, we went on to Austin.

At McKinney Falls State Park, the park rangers were really nice and all sites were free for those running from the storm. It turned out that the park was beautiful, the weather was nice (considering what was happening at home), and we actually enjoyed are flight from the storm.

Let me give you a quick tour of the park. This first picture is of the pool below the falls:

Looking across the pool to the falls, you ask, where is the water? Well, it had been a dry spell and not much was going over the falls. This was good, because it revealed the beautifully carved stone.
And looking across the falls:

A closer look:

And from the other side:

This was our parking space. We decided to take a hike one evening and found a beautiful trail behind the parking spot.

Along the path there were interesting shaped trees.

Remnants of an old stone wall.

Of course, cactus:

As it was getting late, we headed back. The moon was coming up, which put a finishing touch to our walk along the trail:

Nice park, we plan to go back again some day when we don't have to worry about a hurricane. Want to join us?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Favorite Foods

OK, just a wondering about our favorite foods and why do I have such a hard time finding some of the ones I like. Yes, I know that I sometimes like what some people think is odd. Like I grew up loving liver and spinach. Now, if you ask any body they will tell you that when they were kids they hated both and probably still do. I found a restaurant one time that served the best grilled liver, and you could order it done the way you like, treated just like steak. Boy, it was good. Now, my wife tells me it isn’t good for me.

Now, I like almost everything. The things I don’t like are all in the dessert category. OK, speaking of dessert, what is your favorite ice-cream? Mine is Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. The only one I have bought in years. I don’t have it all the time, first because it isn’t on my diet and second is sometimes I can’t find it. You know how it is when you got your mouth set on something and then you can’t find it!!

Speaking of not finding something, I was in Wall-Mart the other day and went to where I usually pick up my package of boudain. Panic attack!!! There was none there. I just love boudain with eggs. Usually say I will only eat one with a meal but always end up eating both. See package:

I stopped a Wal-Mart employee and she said they moved them and showed me where they were. Whew, that was close and what a relief!!

The other thing that I eat everyday is also sometimes hard to find. I try to keep a spare on hand for those times when it can’t be easily located in the stores. Here is a picture:
Yep, Almond Butter, and I prefer the crunchy vs. the creamy, but either will do. Since my wife and I started watching Doug Kaufmann’s TV show “Know The Cause” and going to his web-site http://www.knowthecause.com, we do not eat corn or peanuts anymore, so found this to substitute for peanut butter and now think it is so much better tasting.

One other thing has me upset. I love habanero pepper sauce made by Tabasco. Seemed richer, tastier, and hotter than all the rest that I have tried. I love the taste, but sometimes the heat gets a little too much. Anyway, I don’t know if they quit making it or what. I looked in Wal-Mart, Krogers, and HEB but none had it. If I ever find it, I will buy enough spares to last a while. Funny that the best habanero is made by Tabasco.

Tell me about your favorite foods.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Second Taste

Now, for a second taste of Texas.

OK, let me start out by saying I have had a home here in Texas for 30 years, and I like it here. I spent my first 35 years in Pennsylvania, a year in Michigan, and the rest here, although not in the same area. Worked a project in N.C. that lasted a little over 2 years, but I kept my home here in Texas. I have always been able to find things I like everywhere I have been, but being a “country boy”, I prefer, if at all possible, to stay away from cities. Which brings me to my subject for today, hunting and fishing.

I have not hunted for quite awhile. I love “the hunt”, don’t really enjoy killing but just love the taste of venison, squirrel, and such and when fishing, usually let what I catch go free.

When I started my job as manager of engineering at Conroe Forge and Mfg, the vice president and I decided that we needed more help. He said that he had previously looked at a person that he believed would fill the bill. After our discussion, I believed him to be right and would hire this fellow, so had him come in for “a second interview” with me. He came in and seemed quite nervous, so I thought that I would ease his nerves by asking him non work related questions. (He still didn’t know he was to be hired.) I asked him if he liked to bass fish and he answered yes. I could see his attitude change immediately, so kept going. I then asked him if he had a bass boat. He answered that he did and described it to me. I then asked him if he had any reason why he wouldn’t take his boss fishing. He answered “no” and I said “you are hired”. Now that is what both of us called a good job interview. He and I became good fishing and hunting friends.

One weekend after deer season was over, he asked me if I wanted to go up to his deer lease and see if we could get some feral hogs by night hunting. (That is legal; the ranch owner wanted them removed.) I decided, while waiting on hogs, to try calling in predators by blowing up a balloon and making squealing sounds by stretching the neck sideways with both hands.

I made my first mistake by the choice of weapons, carried a 30-06 rifle with scope and a 357 revolver with a scope in a shoulder holster. My second mistake was where and how I waited. I picked a mowed path that was about 20 feet wide that went through thick bottom land trees and brush. I sat down with my back leaning on a tree at the edge of this cleared path and laid the riffle across my lap, put my spot light on the ground next to me, and got out my trusty balloon.

I squealed it two or three short squeals, and stopped and listened for awhile. Kept repeating this with long pauses in between squeals. It was not long until I heard a noise behind me. I held the balloon with my left hand and picked up the light with my right. Turned it on and there was Bob Cat, less than 50 feet from me. It looked at me for a few seconds, turned, and was gone. Right then, I knew I had a problem; I only had two hands and couldn’t hold the balloon to keep it from noisily zooming away, hold the light, and use a firearm at the same time.

I squealed it a couple of more times and got buzzed by an owl; actually had to duck. No, it was an owl, not a duck.

Went back to my calling and across the cleared strip there was a loud noise of something busting through the brush and heading right at me. I squeezed off the air of the balloon with one hand and grabbed my light. Turned it on just in time to see this huge coyote trying to slide to a stop. It got stopped right on top of me. Even got some drops on my face off his tongue. I don’t know which of us was the most shocked by this, but he turned and was gone. This all took about a half second, but seemed like an hour. Needless to say, I gathered up my stuff, got up in an elevated deer stand, and spent the rest of night in a “safe” place up out of harms way. Didn’t fire a shot but brought home a lot of experiences that turned into great memories.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Taste of Texas

Remember that C&W song, “The First Taste of Texas”? Think I will reminisce a little and think back to when I got my “first taste of Texas”. Actually, my first taste was when I flew down from Yankee Land to Houston for a job interview.

The first thing that hit me was the view out of the airplane’s window as we were descending for a landing at Houston’s big airport. All those trees, rivers, and lakes; where are all the mountains, deserts, and wide open spaces that I saw on all the “cowboy” shows?

After landing, I didn’t need to go outside to get to the hotel there at the airport. All the terminals and the hotel are connected by underground tunnels. Checked into the hotel, had dinner, and decided to step outside to take a look around. It was October and I did not expect what was about to happen. As soon as I stepped out that door I got hit in the face with air that must have escaped from a run-a-way sauna. Could not believe the humidity and heat, and it was way after the sun went down. Started thinking, “what am I getting myself into”. Needless to say, that during that first winter in Texas, I was in shirt sleeves when everyone else was wearing Woolrich and other heavy hooded coats. Now, I am the one wearing the coat.

It was not just the weather that surprised me, but the insects! I had spent the first 36 years of my life living in Pennsylvania and then I moved to Michigan to take a great position. In the short time that I was there, I did try to fish and canoe some of the rivers, but found out that the mosquitoes were so bad at times that you couldn’t breathe without inhaling them. Had to run back to the vehicle for protection, so I knew about bugs. But, roaches were another story. Up north, the only place I had ever seen a roach was in an old barn and they were small and quick to disappear.

Before I go on, let me fill you in on some history. I first came to Texas without my family to find a place to live. Pulled a pop-up tent camper that I lived in until I found a place. The company I came to work for was Richmond Tank Car Company and the Baytown area seamed like the closest place to find temporary living quarters. My youngest son came down to join me and we finally found a town house type of apartment that had two floors with two bedrooms up and one down.

OK, back to the bugs. The first Texas size roach I saw was at work out in the shop in a “men’s room”. It was huge; I had never seen anything like it!!! I ran over and stepped on it. It was so big that I skated across the floor on what was left of it, YUK!!!!

Now, back to the apartment; my son and I moved in and since we had been living in a tent camper, we didn’t have a lot of furniture. We took the mattresses out of the camper and put on the floor, brought in the small TV, and lawn chairs to sit on. Not quite the typical bachelor pad (grin). The first evening there after supper, my son and I settled down to watch a little TV. All of sudden I saw one of those huge roaches run up the wall, then another, then another, etc.

The first thing the next day I complained to the management. They said someone moved out of the unit next to me and it was sprayed, so the bugs must have ran into my place. (Yeh, right.) They said that they would get an exterminator in as soon as they could, but it would take awhile.

Well, they say when you get hit with a sour lemon, make lemonade. I stopped at a store on the way home the next day and saw some toy pistols that shot those darts with the suction cups on the end. I purchased two of them and that night, my son and sat there watching TV, and when a roach ran up the wall, BANG. Hey, it was fun and my son enjoyed it. Of course we didn’t hit everyone that we shot at but we had a good time. Of course when my wife and other son finally came, she asked what the marks were on the wall. We didn’t know???????

I bored you enough for today, will continue with some more “first tastes” in a later blog. Had a lot to learn.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Good morning. My four alarm clocks (my dogs) allowed me a few extra minutes of sleep this morning. Wonder why, they are never later waking me than 06:30. Oh well, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

For a few days, I just had my computer system here plugged into the wall outlet, with a small surge protector. I have an UPS (uninterrupted power supply) that I traded a large pen / pencil plotter for. It is humongous and noisy. You have heard the old saying that it takes two men and a boy to pick up, well with this UPS unit, that is very correct and the three of them would be straining. It takes a lot of fan power to cool all those batteries, thus the noise part. The inverter / charger may have something to do with it also. The quiet was appreciated but with all the threats of afternoon thunder storms, I plugged it back in.

Anyway, to get to the point, I am running Windows XP Pro as an operating system. It seems to run Inventor and AutoCAD much better than the other ones, but it is slow loading. I don’t like to sit and do nothing while I am waiting, so I picked up a big dictionary, closed my eyes, opened it and pointed my finger. I figured maybe whatever word it landed on, could be the inspiration and topic of my blog today. Didn’t quite work out like I wanted. This is unbelievable, out of all the words in that book, I had to land on one that I had never heard of. Can you imagine that?

The word was “monochasium”. Have you ever heard that word? Well I have not, kind of makes me feel stupid, not knowing the first word I picked in the dictionary. Then I read the meaning and felt more stupid than before. The meaning (other than the Greek) was, “a cymose or determinate inflorescence having only a single main axis”, HEY, I know what axis is!!! But, what is inflorescence, maybe something that shines? Boy, I am feeling dumber and dumber as this goes on.

OK, I dare you to look up cymose. . . Yep, I did, and it means: “1. of or like a cyme; determinate. 2. bearing a cyme or cymes.” Kind of puts you back where you started, doesn’t it. Kind of like a closed loop. OK, I looked up cyme and it cleared it up. But what about inflorescence?

Now why should I take all your fun away, you look them up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garbage Day

Today is garbage day, and it is also the day they pick up the garbage. Yep, you guessed it, I ain’t got nothing good to say today. I woke up this morning with a dang jingle going through my head. Just the chorus of “Christmas times a coming”, now why oh why would that song be going through my head?!?!? Tell you what, you think of that song and maybe it will pop out of my head and into yours. . .

Back to the garbage pickup day, that took up a big portion of my morning. Had to make sure all the garbage and throw-away stuff was out in the cans. (Why do they still call them garbage cans when they are made out of plastic?) Then, it is a long way to where my driveway comes out at the road. For example, the portion of my property that faces the road is a half acre. There is 43,560 sq. ft. in one acre, so one half acre would be 21,780 sq. ft. The lot is 60 feet wide, so it is 363 feet just to my gate. Actually, my gate sits back further than that. And you can’t see my gate from my house. It sits back another three or four hundred feet or so.

So now you see, it takes some effort to take the garbage out for pick-up, and I am too dang stubborn to put it in the Jeep. Figure that I need the exercise. Yeh, right. . .

OK, I told you my blog was about garbage, and it turned out that my blog was (is) garbage. So, I had better quit now before I get any deeper in the stuff. .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Billy Bob's Boat

While Billy Bob was over in Georgia visiting with his family, he kept talking about fishing and such. Yep, ole Billy Bob just don’t fish from the bank, he goes out in a boat, and the way I heard it told, that it was not just an ordinary boat, but a big old fancy one. I do think that ole BB likes boats. I hear he even lived on one.

I ran into him the end of last April down at the Terlingua Ranch. You know, down in that area there is just not a lot of water lying around, but he still had a big ole fancy riverboat with him. See:

I wonder if’n he ever fished out of that boat in Georgia or if his grandkids took it off his hands and launched it?

The Old Texan, Ben, was also down there a visiting with Bill Bob, so via email, I set up a meeting to buy them lunch at The Grub Shack. Well, I guess ole Ben just got too fidgety and left for his home just about a half hour before I was to meet up with them. Dang Ben, you missed a good, free lunch.

While I was down in that area I got to see a lot of stuff and meet some great people, including John Wells of the Field Lab. I will, sometime in the future, do a post on my trip to that area, but for now just let me say a little about it.

Terlingua, the ghost town has a lot of history and old adobe structures. Here is a picture looking through a window of one such structure:

And you can’t go to Terlingua without stopping at the Starlight where I enjoyed a great meal consisting of an Axis Venison burger with chipotle sauce. Yum, Yum.

And here is the RV park that we stayed at, just outside of Terlingua.

Got to get back there sometime soon. I really liked that area and would like to live there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everything Went Black

You see, I was just sitting there enjoying a couple of my favorite TV shows. ( I got me a whole long list of favorites, don’t you see) These Monday night shows are Pawn Stars and Pickers. (Yes Billy Bob, I spelled it right. It is “Pawn Stars” not “Porn Stars”.) Now that I got your interest up, may I proceed?

Yep, just watching the old boob tube (No, that wasn’t part of Porn, I mean Pawn Stars). Maybe I need to start this again.

Anyway, everything just went black. I mean EVERYTHING. I stumbled around until I found my flash light and went out side to take a look. I walked to where I could see and there were no signs of lights in any direction. Guess this was a fairly wide spread power outage.

My wife loves these artificial candles that you put batteries in and they flicker and look just like real ones. She has purchased quite a few from QVC (Kathie, you know QVC) and some from local stores. We got them hanging on the walls, sitting on the mantel, on shelves, on the table, everywhere. So, this was her opportunity to shine, literally. In no time at all she had our home flickering away with soft light everywhere. Got to admit, it was really nice.

Well getting on toward 22:00, we were thinking about what to do if the power didn’t come on before we headed off to dream land. The main two things was the stuff in the refrigerator / freezer and my oxygen generator that I use at night. I have been on oxygen at night for a lot of years.

The solution: take the food stuff out to the motor-home and put it in the refrigerator out there and since I have an oxygen generator already out in the motor-home, we could just move in there for the night.

The refrigerator runs on either ac electric or propane, so it is always on (unless I turn it off or run out of gas). But the oxygen generator must have ac power. So the solution to that is simple, fire up the generator. Anyway, I would want to run the air conditioner.

Of course, after I carried two bags of food stuff out to the motor-home and started stuffing it into the freezer, wouldn’t you know, the power came back on. Carried everything back in and all returned to as normal as it gets around here. Sorry no pictures, dark is hard to get a picture of, unless you leave the lens cap on. I should have taken some of the house all lit up with imitation candles. It did look warm and cozy. Maybe the warm part was because the air conditioning was not running. . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Climate and Direction

It is another Monday morning, a start of another work week for some. Maybe I ought to check my email to see if I have any work to do, will be right back.

Well, that was quick, nothing. Been that way since back in July, but that is OK with me. I read The Old Fat Man Adventures and am envious. The weather conditions that he described just made me drool. Looked out the window at the motor-home and asked myself what the heck am I doing here!?!? By 06:30 this morning it rained a little and the temperature is at chilling low of 78 degrees (and going up fast). Who in their right mind living in this area would pay good money for a sauna when all they need to do is step outside? The day before yesterday it sprinkled rain and the temperature was 99 degrees. I stuck my head outside and it hurt to breathe. Then yesterday it was 102 degrees in the shade and I don’t even want to know what the weather forecast is for today.

Not going to head to cooler situations just now. I have too many things up in the air.

I was just wondering about the “sense of direction” that some people have and some do not. My family moved to the country before I started to school, so I must have been 5 or 6 years old. I spent almost all of my outdoor time in the forest behind our house. It was no little plot of trees, but covered many square miles. I knew every inch of it and never got lost. As I aged, and went hunting, I still retained my sense of direction.

My sense of direction was only good in the woods. You could drive me to a spot where I had never been, park the car, get out and walk around hunting half the day, and I could turn around and walk right back to the car without giving it a second thought. Must have sub-consciously kept track at every turn and what direction the car was after the turn.

Get me out of the woods and I get lost all the time. I got lost in a “two traffic light” town, I have been lost in towns and cities of all sizes, and I went the wrong way across a whole State one time. What you say? Yep a whole State.

I was working a project for G.E. Nuclear Fuels and Components on the east coast of N.C. and my home was (and is) in Cut & Shoot, TX. Well, one time my wife wanted to go back to Texas and I wanted to change vehicles so that I could have the 4-wheel drive at the beach. My son and a friend drove the 4w drive from Texas and my wife and I from N.C. and met in eastern Alabama where we spent the night at a motel. I got up to a cloudy, overcast morning and decided to head back before everyone else was ready. So headed off on down the Interstate, that is, until I saw the sign welcoming me to Mississippi. WHAT, how did that state get on east side of Alabama.

Well, at the next exit, I turned around. A while later, I saw my other vehicle coming toward me in the west bound lane. I flashed my lights, honked my horn, and waved at them. When they went by I saw their surprised looks and their mouths hanging open. Almost could hear them say “what the heck!!!”.

If I were a bird, I would migrate north in the autumn and South in the spring or East and West or . . . who knows, I am lost already.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Spelling. I guess by now you have figured out that I don’t do too well in that subject, unless of course, there is a spelling checker and then sometimes I am so far off, it doesn’t help. So, this makes me wonder why I am such a bad speller.

The first thing that comes to mind is my mind (or brain). You see, my brain leans more toward mathematics and science. The science part falls apart when you get into “string theory” and quantum mechanics and the math part falls apart after I run out of fingers and toes.

Let me be a little plainer. I need rules to follow, good simple plain and to the point rules. In English, since that is the only language I know except for a couple of Latin words left over from a high school Latin class, there are rules but it seems there are more exceptions than not. As an example, one rule states that in a word a vowel followed by a consonant and then the consonant followed by a second vowel, the first vowel is pronounced long. (bite vs. bit) (mite vs. mitt) (mute vs. mutt) You get the picture. But how about “water”, shouldn’t that be pronounced the same as “waiter”? Shouldn’t it be spelled “watter”? And the same thing with “awe”? Maybe it is the w that gets in the way and messes things up. OK, then how about “caper” with the long a vs. “capital” with a short a? I get so confused.

There are other rules that fall short, but I will not bore you with any more. Maybe it is the way I learned. Did you learn spelling with phonetics or flash cards? I used to try to memorize all the words for spelling tests in grade school. Somewhere along the line I fell short of learning all the words in the dictionary. I now try to sound them out using the rules (grin). But plane and plain sound the same, as do hundreds of others. I took the plain plane and landed on the plane. (yep, more than one meaning for the same word is also confusing to me.)

Let’s face it, thank Microsoft for spell checkers, I am beyond any help. In fact, I am getting worse.

I type with the keyboard balanced on my upper crossed leg. It rocks back and forth and when I type, sometimes my fingers get on the wrong keys. When that happens, I usually spell the word right. . .
(or is that write?)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wondering About NASA

I have been wondering what will become of NASA since a lot of its funding has been cut back. The first time I toured NASA was back in 1980, that was 30 years ago. The last time that I was there was in September of 2002 when my cousin and her husband came for a visit. I really enjoy out-of-state visitors; it gives me a chance to see some of the local things that I probably would not see otherwise. Places like Moody Gardens, a Fort guarding our coast that was last used in WW2, the port of Galveston, etc.

Anyway, the second tour was quite different from the first. The first time you had to check in at the office and give identification and could actually walk around and see different things. In 2002, it was commercialized, you paid to get into a building with exhibits and you could get tickets for a tour. You were much more restricted in the areas that you could walk and the things that you could see.

OK, enough, let us get on with the tour by showing you the building with mock-ups for training the astronauts. I believe the first three are for the space station:

Hanging from the ceiling is a model of the space station:
The next couple are of the shuttle:

Sorry, I don't remember what this was, may be a robotic arm?

Now, let us go outside and get up and personal with the Saturn V. Those engines are huge:

And to get an idea of how large the whole rocket is:
Let us hope that they will continue with advancements like in the past, that have affected each and every one of us. It is probably a good thing that private endeavors are taking up some of the load. Since we have put men on the moon, things have slowed way down.

I will leave you with a picture of the control panal inside the shuttle:

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Friends & Visitors

I have a few friends that come and visit with me. Some are shy and some are not, but they all are a wild bunch. Most, if not all, of my friends have more than two legs and some have none. No, they are not freaks with extra limbs nor are they paraplegics, they are my wild-life friends that come by. Some fly and have big eyes and I swear he or she is smiling at me. What do you think:
Now, wasn’t that a cute dragon fly. It didn’t look like a dragon to me, but it sure could fly, in all directions, like a helicopter.

This next visitor just climbs right up my walls in search of flies and bugs. Not an unwelcome visitor:
And another visitor, one without legs. It is welcome, also, since it does a lot of good catching small rodents. Maybe this visitor is why the last one was climbing the walls:
OK, now we have covered guests with six legs and wings, four legs and Velcro feet, and no legs, so what is next? Oh yea, eight legs:
Now, this next guest is unknown to me. It has six legs and wings, but something I have not seen before. Maybe you can tell me what it is. The next two pictures are taken at different angles:
Now this guy, not sure if he was invited to the party. I know I didn’t invite him. Oh well, he says he can do what ever he wants:
Some of my visitors have good camouflage, but when they are out of their environment, they stand out like a sore thumb. This is a walking stick. I always thought that they were vegetarians, that is until now. Kind of reminds me of a Praying Mantis, but it isn’t. Check out the next three pictures:

There is always someone at the party that snaps at you when you ask them questions or get too close to them. One of my guests is like that. Good thing he is a small one:

Well, I hope my visitors entertained you. When they left here, they said they were all heading over to your house.