Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lost Trails

It started with an article in the Sand Springs Leader, a typical small town newspaper, that told of a series of trails, not walking but driving trails, called the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma.  Each trail ,or loop, promised scenic beauty and a diversity of wildlife for our viewing pleasure.  Interested in such a map, I did a Google that took me to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation web site.  Under the Contact tab was a link to request a map that read mhickman@zoo.odwc.state.ok.us. I click the link, my mail opens, and I politely ask for a map, thank you very much.

The next day I have a reply from someone named Jennifer that informs me that if I want a map, to go to the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma website. Yes, there are some maps on that site, teeny, tiny ones that are non-printable and so small can you can't ever read the name of the towns.

I reply to Jennifer how I was led to believe that a paper map was available and did a cut and paste from the web site with the mhickman link,  mhickman@zoo.odwc.state.ok.us



Jennifer fires right back with the following and I quote:

If you would like a map, please send you mailing address to mhickman@zoo.odwc.state.ok.us

Hmmm.  I had flashbacks to the old Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke. "What we got here is a failure to communicate."

I note Jennifer's e-mail address: info@odwc. etc. etc. I then hover my mouse over the mhickman address on the website AND Jennifer's e-mail and lo, a little window pops up. Seems the mhickman mail is being redirected to who? Yep, ol' rude Jennifer. What could I do but reply?

Dear Jennifer,
FYI: Clicking on the mhickman address brings up a substitute address, yours apparently, at info@odwc.state.ok.us.


 I am so sorry that we slow witted folks over here on the east side of the state didn’t catch that error on your link. I do apologize for wasting your time. Thank you for all your courtesy and understanding in this matter.

Sincerely,
Warren

Is there any doubt that Jennifer is now praying that I get lost on the Great Plains Trail and die a horrible death of thirst and starvation?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bad Day, Good Day

First, the Bad Day.  Today was the funeral service for Dennis Quetone, my ex-son in law and father to two of my grandchildren and grandfather to baby Rio.  I always liked Dennis, especially his sense of humor.  Never saw the guy in a bad mood although I"m sure, like everyone else, he had his share of them. What I really appreciated about Big D was his dedication and support of his daughter's activities; dance recital, cheerleading competition (those were really awful), marching band, you name it, Dennis would show up.

 It was a nice service, lots and lots of family and friends were there. I scanned about 50 photos and put a little slide show together, something I hope someone will do for me when that time comes.  An older gentlemen representing the Kiowa tribe, said some words and sang a hymn. Nice. The preacher presiding over the main service started off well enough, having people in the audience stand and share a few memories of Dennis, but at the end he relapsed into the standard, and apparently obligatory, call to Jesus.  All you "men of the cloth" listen up please.  Do your recruiting on Sunday morning.  Do not use an occasion of mourning as an opportunity to add us sinners to your converts list. We in the audience would much rather hear anecdotes or maybe the favorite tunes of the dearly departed than your pitch to join up with Jesus.
But maybe that's just me.

Now for the Good Day part. Today is the 51st wedding anniversary of me and old what's-her-name.  On the way home from the funeral, I asked her if she wanted to do anything special, maybe have a nice meal somewhere.  She said all she really wanted to do was to go home, put on her "elastic", eat some homemade soup, and have a quiet evening doing not much of anything.

That's why I love that woman.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Real War

As I have told anyone that will listen, I recently finished writing a novel titled No Refuge.  Due to the overwhelming success in sales (10-12 copies, maybe more),  I felt compelled to write another one although I would have bet good money that would never happen.  I'm hoping that the experience gained from No Refuge will carry over for a better reading experience on the latest project.  I mention this because I read a lot, every evening in fact, at least a chapter or two before the sandman comes along.  It's from these books that I get inspiration and ideas.  The down side is that many of these writers are SO damn good that's it's discouraging.  Their talent with words blows me away. I will never, repeat never, achieve the level these guys are on.

 It's a little like watching golf if you're not a golfer. You see someone like Tiger Woods bend a shot around some trees, knock it 250 yards, and watch it roll up a foot from the pin. A non-golfer might say something like, Oh that was pretty cool. But a person that actually plays golf would be going, OH MY GOD. DID YOU SEE THAT? UN-FREAKIN' BELIEVABLE! That's how I am with good writers. Often I call on the Missus to listen to me read something that I think is an amazing paragraph.  She smiles, nods, and goes back to petting her cats.

I'm currently reading WAR by Sebastian Junger, a  documentary of the time he spent with our troops in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, arguably the most dangerous part of that country.  Junger is the guy that wrote The Perfect Storm which was later made into a hit movie. Junger is my Tiger Woods. This guy can put you there, right in the middle of the firefights, make you duck when the shells come in, make you cry when a man is lost.  When I saw that Blockbusters was offering an online movie titled Restrapo (the name of one of the men to die in an ambush there) I had to watch the movie.  I could actually feel my gut getting tight as the men I'd just read about appeared on the screen, knowing they weren't going to make it home. 

When the movie ended, I continued to sit there for a while, staring at the black, wondering; do we really need to be there, are we sacrificing these outstanding men and women for nothing?  Sebastian Junger would describe my moment there in the easy chair as a "confused silence."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bad Cat, Bad!

Just when you think there is peace in the valley, another cat problem pops up.  It only stands to reason, when you think about it, that with four felines, the cat consequences will quadruple.  I compare them to a bad case of gonorrhea, the gift that keeps on giving.

As if killing birds, coughing up hair balls, destroying furniture, and trying to eat their humans wasn't enough, now we have a cat that is urinating in non-appropriate areas, the ultimate sin.  This time it's the gray cat called Blue that causing problems.  Why it's not called Gray has always been a mystery but as we all know, cats are mysterious by nature.  Even Saint Ruth, in all her forgiveness, will not tolerate cat piss on the furniture.  In the spirit of non-partisanship, I immediately volunteered for sniper duty but no, the Missus goes to the Internet for answers.

 Two "solutions" were the most common.  A: The cat has a urinary tract infection or B: Kitty is suffering from physiological stress.  I don't know about A but B is a slam dunk. This is the cat who once had a seizure right before me, yowling and scratching and running and twisting and biting until she more or less passed out.  Ever since then, her favorite pastime has been to search the skies for UFO's.  At least that what it looks like when she stares upward, swiveling her head at every possible angle, much like a fighter pilot looking for bogies.

The other three cats, sensing mental illness, attack ol' Blue every chance they get in order to eliminate the weakest of the species and let the strong survive.  By now, it should be obvious why I'm leaning toward answer B. 

The Internet did not have a solution for B, at least one that dealt with three other predators in the house.  At this point, I"m for locking the whole damn bunch in a small room for about a week with no food and let natural selection take its course.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Four Cats, One Dog, and Me

The Missus is still out there, somewhere in the backwoods of Missouri, fulfilling her self appointed role as caretaker of all who are sick or injured. Meanwhile, back here at the cat ranch, I valiantly struggle to keep the place in working order, cats fed, dog watered, and litter boxes cleaned.  I hate to admit this, but I have sunk to a new low of self respect; I now feed the cats before I put the coffee on.  It was just easier that way...and safer.

As any cat owner knows, when a feline wants your attention, they make sudden left turns directly into your path of movement. It's a cat thing. I saw the same behavior with the big cats in Africa.  A lion or cheetah runs beside the prey, trips it up, then bites it on the neck, and holds on, thus choking off the air supply.  House cats are no different. All they lack is the physical size to clamp around your jugular, the intent however, is the same.

What with the frigid temps of last night, all four of the man eaters stayed in the house last night.  This is not a good scenario. For one thing, I cannot get a good night's sleep knowing that fangs of death are prowling around in the darkness. What's that? Close the door you say? Oh, foolish, foolish person. Won't work. Why, because somewhere between one and two a.m you will be awakened by the sound of claws scratching the paint off the bedroom door, demanding entry.

Then there's Brat Cat, A.K.A., the problem child. The other cats are, for the most part, laid back. They sleep, they eat, and they use the littler box. Brat stands out from the pride. Brat attacks her own kind, anytime, any place, any time of night. Mostly it's a playful attack but there are times when fur flies and guttural growls rumble through the abode. It's a game she likes to play called Survival of the Fittest.

Last night; 3 a.m. I hear a scratching on the door.  Not my bedroom door but the door leading to the garage and the dog.  It was obvious, at least to me, that Brat had bigger game in mind.  What was kind of cool about it was that I discovered that I could throw a pillow from my bed, never having to get up, through the bedroom door, into the hall, and ker-plunk, smack the Brat Cat, an action unheard of if the Missus were here.

Give me time. I'm learning how to deal with this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cat Care (or lack of)

This Missus is out of town for a few days, actually an unknown number of days, on another mission of mercy, caring for a relative with recent surgery.  We don't call her Saint Ruth for nothin'.  Naturally, the entire household is out of sorts, our precious routines shot to hell. The cats, all of them, are walking around with glazed eyes, knowing full well that things just aren't right. The dog spends his every waking moment staring at the front door, ears pricked for the sound of a Honda coming up the driveway.

It's not that I don't know what to do with all this livestock.  After all, I have a list of instructions, carefully thought out, typed in an easy-to- read font with large black letters, to show exactly what I should do from day to day, including any animal emergencies that might pop up.  An example of such an emergency would be the disappearance of a cat for more than oh, 30 minutes.  In such a case, my instructions read:  Go to both the front and back doors, and in a loud voice, yell "KITTY, KITTY, KITTY.  Thank God, that crisis hasn't happened yet.

There's the medications of course, the eye drops for the yellow cat and the Rymadil for the dog. Did you know that cats hate having someone stick gook in their eyes? I do now.

Naturally, the whole crew is off their feed; nobody's eating like they normally do. Bowls of uneaten pet food sit everywhere. There's Friskies Seafood Dinner in the kitchen and bathroom (each cat  has it's own private dining area you see) while the shredded tuna and turkey and giblets await in the laundry room and on the patio.  Maybe the Missus throws that perfectly good food away after a day or two, but I'm thinking along the lines of "eat it or die".

I'm also told to supply fresh water every day. I did that. Well, every other day maybe.

 But then you have the dirtiest duty of all, the litter box or in our case, boxes, as in plural.  Morning AND night, twice a day, (and in between if the need arises say the instructions) that's the cleaning schedule. What a way to start a day, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingling with the stench of a litter box.  There's nothing quite like the smell of cat shit in the morning.

At this point I'm more than ready to join the dog in his vigil at the front door and listen for that Honda coming up the drive.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Last One

This is the last time I'll comment on all the goofiness about the Tulsa Christmas, oops I mean Holiday, Parade. I promise. It's best not to get involved, not to get all bent of shape about it, and to ignore the whole thing, though Sen. Jim Inhofe is hard to ignore. As a friend said, all it does it get you angry and make you want to kick the cat.  But how can you ignore it when we have national media making a laughing stock out of Tulsa and Oklahoma? Check this little video clip from comedian Jon Stewart.

What's wrong with Holiday?  After all, one definition of Holiday is Holy Day.  Go with that if it makes you feel better. I recently learned that an imperfection in a painted surface is also called a holiday.  How about a parade dedicated to imperfections? Now there's something we could all identify with cause nobody's perfect right?   Well, except Jim Inhofe of course.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There He Goes Again.

Our illustrious senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, is in the news again.  This time for denying parade watchers the thrill of seeing him ride down the street and merrily waving to all his constituents.  "Why," cried the masses, "are we being deprived of this honor?"  Well, it seems that ol' Jim is miffed that the organizers of the parade are no longer calling it the Christmas Parade of Lights, but have switched to the more neutral Holiday Parade of Lights.

Hold it, hold it. I don't want to hear all the arguments about it being Christ's birthday and how we're all going to hell because so many have dropped the Christ from Christmas. Let's not go there, okay?  The point is, the parade is made up of volunteers, working on their own time, using none of the city's monies, and are under no obligation whatsoever to call it the Christmas parade.  It's their parade!  They can call it the Ebeneezer Scrooge Parade if they want.  You don't like it? Don't go. Simple as that. Stay home.  Watch any number of parades on the TV. Or better yet, start your own parade.

Course you could miss seeing Mr. Inhofe if he changes his mind, there's that.

Psst. Jimbo, did you see the piece in today's Tulsa World about how 2010 is going to be one of the hottest years in history with unprecedented glacier melt in Greenland, record temperatures in Russia, major floods in Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia? No such thing as climate change Senator? It's all a big fraud, right? Ho, ho, ho.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sometimes you get lucky.

It didn't happen, not this time. As we all know, appliances are engineered to fail at exactly one minute after midnight on the last day the warranty covers it. When my Sony TV went black recently, right at the end of the Dallas Cowboys game, I knew I was screwed with the warranty; it's just the way the world works.

Imagine my delight when, miracle of miracles, I discovered I had a whopping two weeks left on the coverage. Boy, did somebody screw up or what? At 9:01 the next morning I'm on the phone to the repair people. At the very least, I'm expecting a two week delay to order the part and an even longer wait to be scheduled for a house call. Keep in mind, the Big 12 game of the year between OSU and OU will be happening the next day, forcing me to watch on my emergency, minuscule, 17 incher. The conversation went like this:

Repair Guy: Sony huh? Went black on you? Probably lost the projection lamp.

Me: How long will it take to get the part?

Repair Guy: Oh we have those in stock.

Me: Really? Okay, how long before you can come out?

Repair Guy: Umm, let me look. How about today at 4?

Me. I think I love you.

Repair Guy: Sir?


The guy didn't show up at 4, he came at 2. Twenty minutes later I had big screen football.

There is a God.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Commercially Speaking

Are we agreed? Don’t we all hate commercials on TV? Maybe not all commercials. The techno kid for e-Trade still cracks me up. But for the most part, AAARGGGHHHH! For the record, I did the research for you and used my stop watch to time the number of minutes per hour of commercials and program content. On the average, 20 minutes, one third of every hour long program, is devoted to boring, loud, obnoxious, aggravating, frustrating, annoying, maddening infuriating, mind-numbing commercials.

And that’s not counting those cursed little pop-up promos that race across your screen during the actual show.

Wasn’t there something in the news recently about volume limitations on commercials? Have you noticed any difference? How about that all time favorite Keystone Chevrolet?

THIS WEEKEND ONLY! WHILE THEY LAST. WE’LL SAVE YOU THOUSANDS, MAYBE MORE. JUST SIGN HERE.

Now, commercials precede anything you want to look at the Internet. Click on a story line on the MSN homepage and watch a 30 second spot for whatever before you’re allowed to see the item. Outrageous. This is our lives they’re stealing from us people, our time on earth, minute by minute, wasted.

Yeah, yeah, the money on ads pays for the programming, I know. It’s just that I don’t want to deal with it. Better to go outside and watch a sunset I think, free too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Keeping It Simple

The ice maker in the fridge has been dead for oh, two weeks now. It just sits there, in the cold and the darkness, doing absolutely nothing. At least once or twice in the past, it fixed itself, a miracle if there ever was one. But not this time. No more miracles.  I know, in an earlier post I had promised to smash the cursed device with a large hammer into tiny, tiny pieces with the theme from Apocalypse Now playing in the background, but there was an another delay in the delivery of the replacement. This time, of our choosing, not Whirlpool. The Missus claims she couldn't deal with a Friday Thanksgiving meal and refrigerator swapping on the same day.

In the meantime, there was that nagging little problem of no ice for the toddy, nothing for the evening spooker, no frozen cubes on which to splash a wee bit of bourbon as the sun goes down. Two options; buy it by the bag at ridiculous prices and then have to chip it apart into manageable chunks as needed or use ice trays. Ice trays, remember those? And wonder of wonder, we had three of them, probably saved as mementos of  our youth.

Fill em' up. Wait a while. ICE! No gears to jam, no valves to stick, no switches with dirty contacts, no thermocouples to fail, no heater element to quit, no nothing. Just dump the ice in the bucket, repeat. The simplicity was fascinating, calming in fact.  Nothing to worry about, nothing all, just let nature take its course.

Hello, Whirlpool? Stick your product where the sun don't shine. Who needs it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hey Whirlpool, UP YOURS.

"Mr. Williams?"

"Yes."

"This is (mumbles) from the Whirlpool Corporation. That refrigerator you ordered, the one that we promised to deliver on Friday? Well, there's a little problem."

"Why am I not surprised?"

"Sir, that refrigerator will not be available for delivery until Nov. 26."

"Is that the same November 26 that's the day after Thanksgiving, the one where every kitchen in the freakin' United States of America uses their refrigerator the most?"

"Uh,yes sir. That is our first available date."

"What happened to my previous available date, the day after tomorrow?"

"Sir, that date is no longer available for the model you purchased."

"I have an idea. One of the stores I shopped at had three of those models in their warehouse. Go get one of theirs and then replace it at the first available date."

"Mr. Williams, I'm sorry but we can't do that."

"Lady you work for a huge company. I think you folks are big enough to do about anything you want to."

(silence)

"Tell  you what, why don't the Missus and I bring our family over to your house for Thanksgiving dinner? Assuming you have space available of course."

"Thank you for buying Whirlpool Mr. Williams. Goodbye."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No, not again!

For the umpteenth time, the refrigerator ice maker here at the humble abode has failed to produce. Stopped, no workee. How can this be? It's not like it's a computer with nearly unlimited abilities to perform requests upon demand. No, it has one stinkin' job, one simple task, to make little chunks of frozen water, spit them out, repeat. That's it. Yet, this damn thing has had more problems than the NASA space shuttles.

To review:  I've cleaned the water valve, burnished the relay contacts, douched the water line, cussed it, bitch slapped it, pleaded with it, asked forgiveness, made promises (but didn't keep) and the stupid thing still quits on me. Not only that, but it quits at the most critical time of the week, the Sunday Morning Bloody Mary time. And after all I've done for it too. It's soooo hard to find good help these days.

For the record, the ice maker is being replaced, fired, dishonorably discharged. In fact, when the new one arrives, some time this week, I'm planning on a simple but appropriate ceremony whereupon I take the largest hammer I can find in the tool box and beat that son of a bitch into pieces too small to be seen by the naked eye. There will be no service afterward.

Excuse me while I go look for some old fashioned ice trays.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

The subject over lunch with friends was how we would react if our home was invaded. Assume you have a gun (everybody in Oklahoma has a gun, usually several) and you're awakened by a noise, the crash of glass or the creak of a door. OMG. Someone's in our house! Calling 911 is always a good idea of course or hitting the panic button on your car alarm, but the for the sake of drama, let's pretend those options arn't there for you. Your spouse is frantically whispering, "Get the gun. Get the gun." So you do, but first you have to:
A: Get it out of the gun vault. What was than damn combination again?
B: Or if not in a vault, remember where you've hidden it. Under the mattress? In a drawer? Shit! Where did I put it?
C: Do A and B in the dark while your heart is beating like a jack hammer.

But you find it, jack a round in the chamber, and head down the hall when THERE HE IS, right there, ten feet in front of you. Oh Sweet Baby Jesus. What do I do now?

Now we're at the crux of the matter. Do you shoot? Can you shoot? Are you shaking so bad you couldn't hit the inside of a barn if you were standing in the middle of it? We've all heard stories of a highly trained police officer and a bad guy, having a shootout in a small room, and emptying their weapons without one single hit.  In addition, I don't think I'd be far off in guessing that 99% of us are not mentally prepared to shoot someone, to take a life. Granted, that decision would be a lot simpler if you or your family was believed to be in mortal danger and shooting was necessary to protect yourself or your loved ones, but what if it wasn't as clear cut as that?

Lets say you flip on the light and it's a kid, a teenager, no visible weapon, who thought the house was empty, and was looking for some dope money. Say he sees you, turns, and runs. Do you blow him away? As it was explained to me by an officer of the law, legally, it can get very sticky at this point. A court could decide that when the boy turned to run, he was no longer a threat, and by shooting him, you are now in deep doo-doo. But let's say the law decides it was a righteous shooting, you were justified in your action. You're home free. Hold on. There's the matter of the family of the recently deceased. In all likelihood, they are going to sue your ass in civil court and guess what? They might just win.

Then there's the matter of your own psyche, your mental health in the aftermath of taking a human life. How long would it be, if ever, that you could get a full night's sleep without dreaming of  the thunderous boom of the gun, seeing a man fall, and all that blood spreading over your carpet?

Let's go back for a moment on being mentally prepared. A recent event in Tulsa had a good Samaritan investigating an alarm in his neighbor's apartment. He had a gun with him but had the misfortune of meeting up with the intruder. The intruder took the man's gun away from him, shot him, and killed him. The good neighbor was murdered because he was not mentally prepared to use his weapon in the event of a common burglary. Simple as that.

Johnny Cash said it best:
Don't take your guns to town son.
Leave your guns at home Bill.
Don't take your guns to town.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Night Stand

I spent one night in a motel in Cherokee, Oklahoma (alone) and the next morning standing on a chilly observation tower on the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge waiting with a camera for some Sandhill Cranes to show up. And show up they did, thousands of them. Actually, they were already there as they come into the refuge to overnight and then fly out to feed during the day. Not all of them of course, some sleep in, others stand around and rest, chatting among themselves on their favorite topics; food, the recent flight, and the weather.

The cranes breed in Canada and Alaska and then, as any sensible bird would, fly south for the winter. Salt Plains is but one stopover point. The Platte River in Nebraska is another well known resting spot. They're big birds, impressive, about 3 and 1/2 half feet long with a wingspan of six to seven feet. They have a unique call. Folks more knowledgeable than I describe it as a long, wooden, rattle, a sort of bugle. To me, it sounds a little like a Mourning Dove trying to gargle.

Not only was it cold that morning with a strong northwest wind and the temperature around 40 degrees, but the early light wasn't lining up for the best photography. The Sandhills take off into the wind which meant I was getting a lot of butt shots and very few where the bird was well lit. Challenging but still a lot of fun.

I had visited the same spot the previous evening at sundown when conditions were less harsh. As far as I could tell, there was not another human being around.  I had the entire area to myself, well, me and 20,000 birds. A thin band of clouds in the west hinted of a colorful sunset as I stood and watched and listened as flock after flock of cranes flew overhead and across the horizon. Some landed close, within a hundred yards, while others continued  to the far side of the lake for the safety of an island. Shorebirds skittered along the bank in front of me, dipping their fragile looking bills over and over, hoping for one last morsel of food before dark. The ducks were there as well, landing  with a loud whoosh as hundreds of webbed feet made contact with the water.

At some point, the light was finally gone and after taking just a few more shots of the cranes silhouetted against the orange sky, I turned the cameras off and made the short walk back to the truck. I laughed as two armadillos practically ran into me as they scampered across the trail. It was a good day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Time Is It?

I've never been a big fan of the time change; Spring forward, Fall back, that crap. For one thing, there's all those clocks to deal with.  Bedrooms; three clocks. Kitchen; two clocks. Office; two clocks. With the exception of one tick-tock here in the Man Cave, all the rest are digital which means you have to use your Sunday morning, fogged up brain, to figure out how to reset the damn things. Two of the clocks, of their own free will, decided to adjust to a whole new time about a week ago when the time change used to take effect. Whassup with that? Wasn't it president W. that screwed that up; decided it wasn't right to go with the change on the customary dates? Something about saving money? For who? Can't recall that it saved me any dough. So now we have that little reset to deal with as well as the official reset.



There's the clock on the cable box, but it changes automatically thanks be to whoever controls that function. And wonder of wonders, my little ol' Casio wrist watch, total cost $34, is tuned to some atomic clock rumored to be in Colorado, also switches to the correct time (to the second I might add) exactly at the stroke of 2:00 a.m. or is 3:00? Spring back, Fall forward? It's so confusing.

Then there's our internal clocks, the ones that tell us when it's time to wake up and when to go beddy-bye. How do you adjust that little time piece at 2 a.m. in the freakin' morning? Answer is, you don't. You wake up, the light outside is different, somethings wrong, it's a Twilight Zone thing. Something strange has happened during the night but you can't put your finger on it, not early on a Sunday morning anyway. It's three hours and a half a pot of coffee later that you realize your life pattern has changed and will stay that way for what, another six months when you have to suffer through it all over again?

And what about this? Did you damn time changers just once consider us Sunday Morning Bloody Mary drinkers? Huh? Thousands, maybe millions of us, whose routines have now been thrown into shambles? I think not. Oh, the humanity!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wild Sounds

Unless you're in a national park where the animals have become accustomed to throngs of people, getting a photo of a truly wild animal can be quite challenging. I can't speak for other states but here in Oklahoma, the sight of a coyote or bobcat throws the locals into a state of blood lust whereupon they grab their weapons from the gun rack or behind the seat of their pickups and blast away. No surprise then, that our wildlife avoids the presence of humans if at all possible, running for their very lives at the sight of one. The animals seldom stop to look to see if its a camera lens or a gun barrel that's being aimed at them.

I started thinking about using a predator call to bring in some of the critters. There's dozens of them on the market, mostly designed for hunters of course, but no reason they couldn't just as well be used for photography. And although I would use it only for photos, there is still a bit of an ethical problem. Wild animals, in order to survive, must take in as much energy as they burn. For them to use that energy to find the source of what they think is potential game and then find nothing but a piece of plastic with a speaker on one end, is troublesome. The national wildlife refuges do not permit electronic callers to be used on refuge property for that very reason.

 However, I'm trying to justify using one, if only in my head, based on the conditions of plentiful food and mild weather. To lure a coyote through waist deep snow for instance, would be much more stressful than calling him in across an Oklahoma plain, or so it seems to me. Then there's always the hope, though remote, that a good photo of say, a bobcat, would make some potential shooters think twice and maybe even consider taking up a camera instead of a rifle. Their "trophy" could be a beautiful photo on the wall rather than a bloody carcass or a mount that eventually gets ratty and moth eaten only to eventually be thrown in some attic.

With all that in mind, I began shopping the Internet for a caller. Finding one in my price range, I studied the reviews to check on the quality of the product. That turned out to be a little disturbing. Dozens of users told of calling in the "yotes" (coyotes) and dropping them within minutes of turning the caller on. Another young man related how two raccoons and a skunk showed up on his first night out which he promptly shot and killed, proudly displaying their corpses on the tailgate of his pickup. I don't get it. Hunting for the dinner table or for survival or to control over-population or to protect livestock is one thing, but killing a coon or skunk just to watch it fall? What's up with that?

Maybe I'm getting soft and sentimental in my old age, but in my opinion, calling in a wild animal, in season or not, for no other reason than using it for target practice is not only unethical, it's just plain disgusting. Again, I don't get it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Red Zone

Turn on the TV during football season and you hear a lot of talk about the Red Zone. For the non-fans, it refers to a portion of the football field between the end zone and the 20 yard line. Announcers like to talk about this zone a lot. Somehow its become a measuring stick on how efficient a team is when then can score from that particular area. But that's not the Red Zone I want to talk about.

The Zone I'd like to give a little coaching on is red due to the tomato juice in the glass. Yes, I"m talking about a drink, an alcoholic beverage, the famous Bloody Mary. The origin of the name is disputed. Some say it was named after Queen Mary of England, others claim it was Mary Pickford, the actress. Doesn't matter. The important part is the recipe of which there are many. This is where the coaching come in.

Okay, listen up. Forget those spicy concoctions you buy at the stores, they'll eat a hold in your gut. Way too harsh. We're in this for the long haul. Start with a simple, healthy blend found on the shelves of any grocery. It's called Spicy Hot V8 made by the folks at Campbell's. It's 100% vegetable juice people! How can this not be good for you? Ingredients include, among others, tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, and even a little spinach just like Popeye eats. There's enough vitamin C here to keep you healthy for a week.

Next choice, and this is important too, is the vodka. I strongly recommend a quality brand vodka such as Absolut. You'll not regret it.  Buy the cheap stuff to sneak into the punch. And yes Virginia, there is a difference. Maybe not so much in the taste but the after effects. We're talking hangover and headaches here. I'm told it's all in the filtering process but lets not get into that, just take my word for it.

The last critical part of the mix is the Worcestershire sauce. Get a bottle of Lea and Perrin's. Don't even consider anything else. "What about celery?" some are saying. Go ahead if you feel you must. Why don't you just get a little umbrella for it too? Hmmm?

Putting it all together: Half a glass of ice, one oz. of vodka (okay 1 and 1/2), add the Spicy V8, and then the Worcestershire sauce. Hold it! Did I say sprinkle it in? No, I did not. Two or three drops. That's it! Not one drop, not four or five or six. Two or three. Now is when you sprinkle, but with salt and pepper. Yes, you can use celery salt, sea salt, low salt, or no salt but you can't skip the pepper. Let me take you back to step three for a moment, the addition of the V8. If you're opening a new bottle, you MUST stir it while still in the bottle. No, shaking it will not work. There simply is not enough room in a full bottle to get a good shake. Use an ice tea spoon. Get down there as far as it will go and stir the crap out of it. Failure to follow advice at this juncture will ruin the drink and you'll have to start over.

Go ahead, take a sip. Huh? Huh? What'd I tell you? Oh, you nearly drained that baby didn't you? Let me freshen that for you. Note that I threw out all that old used ice in the glass. Never, never mix a Bloody Mary with used ice. There you go. Now, what say you and I take our drinks and step out on the back deck and watch the cats chase the birds for awhile? I knew you'd like that idea.

(I'll talk to the rest of you folks later.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cat Emergency...again.

Call 911, alert the media, call the neighbors, run up and down the street hollering "kitty, kitty, kitty" at the top of your lungs, OMG a cat is missing...again.

The lost cat scenario is not uncommon here at the abode. With the present population of four felines, an emergency once every two or three weeks would be about the norm. Usually the crisis lasts no longer than 20 minutes or so but with every tick of the clock past that, the tension rises. Overnight absences are the worst. All manner of horrible events can befall a cat when the sun goes down, both real and imagined. The Missus operates under what I call "The Asteroid Theory". No matter how unlikely the possibility that an asteroid could smash through the atmosphere and hit her cat, it's still a possibility and right along with bobcats, coyotes, bear, and the Sasquatch, is not to be easily dismissed.

On at least two occasions I could tell you about, the cats were found the next morning, asleep, and curled up at the bottom of the hall closet where some inconsiderate, insensitive, a-hole (that would be me) shut the door without first checking the whereabouts of all the cats.

Today's crisis began when Minnie le Mew (Minnie seems to be getting a lot of press lately)  was last seen sunning on the back deck when once again, the neighbor's pit bulls came over to visit. (Will those people EVER get their fence fixed?) Cash and Lucky were eventually escorted home by their owner but Minnie was lost in the wilderness just as the last time when the dogs came around.

One hour into the search and still no Minnie. I voiced the opinion that hunger would overcome fear and Ms. le Mew would show up at suppertime if not before. Do I really need to tell you how that was received? A short time later, I hear a shout of relief, "I found her. She's in a tree." For Minnie to climb a tree is not an unremarkable feat as this cat has no front claws. The de-clawing was part of an agreement after the animal had destroyed a large section of door insulation, not to mention being responsible for a moon-sized crater in the carpet after some jerk (again, me) had shut her in the bedroom. Now, the fear was that, sans claws, poor kitty would not be able to safely descend.

Ladder Man to the rescue. At the risk of  life and limb and fully expecting to be, at the very least, de-boweled, Minnie was snatched from the limb, and delivered safely to earth without incident.

Until next time, stay tuned to The Drama That Never Ends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Da book is on da Kindle

My novel, No Refuge, appeared on the Kindle web site this morning. Kinda cool! And only $5.95. Such a deal. Don't own a Kindle reader? Not a problem.  With the appropriate app, Kindle books can be downloaded to PC's, iPhones, iPads, Blackberry's, and Androids. Get your copy now!

http://www.amazon.com/No-Refuge-ebook/dp/B0049B2C66/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1288196795&sr=1-1

Note: The above is a shameless example of crass commercialism using a blog. The devil made me do it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mondays

Mondays


Usually Mondays aren’t so hot, especially if you’re among the working class as I was for more years than I want to think about. But now, for us old retired guys, Mondays aren’t much different than most other days; except today.

I had spent most of the day working on the computer to prepare my so called novel, No Refuge, to prepare it for publication on Amazon’s Kindle books. The price was right. No fees, but Amazon gets a percentage of each sale. Fair enough. I started around ten this morning, ran into the usual computer glitches changing the text into an html format, resizing the cover photo, and coming up with enough search words and a description to make any potential reader leap at the chance to read this book.

By four o’clock, I’d finished. The book, according to the Kindle website, would be ready for the public in 36 hours. My eyes were burning, my brain was fried, and all I wanted to do at that point was to pour two fingers of bourbon, top it off with a splash of water, and sit on the back deck to contemplate the universe.

It was a wise choice. The thermometer read 78 degrees. The barometric pressure was dropping, suggesting rain in the near future. Clouds were thickening and moving in from the southwest while wind gusts rose and fell. As I settled in, sipping my spooker, leaves dropped and swirled, taking their rightful place among their fallen comrades. Here at the humble abode, I left the back half of the property, a mere half acre, in its natural state; no lawn to mow, no weeds to kill. Granted, a half acre isn’t much and I can easily see the fences of my north and south neighbors, but it’s enough. Directly to the east, that neighbor, bless his soul, also chose to let two of his acres grow as nature intended, in tall grass and natural beauty.

It occurred to me, during the second spooker, that this was the reason I had moved from the city with its traffic, crime, sirens in the middle of the night, and 747’s roaring overhead. Here, I had only the wind, the leaves, the clouds and their kaleidoscope of colors, a setting sun, and the occasional mourning dove settling in to sample whatever seeds had been kicked out of the bird feeders that day.

Mondays, sometimes, are the best days of the week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cats! AAARRRGGHHHH

The day is coming soon when I will be forced, well, more like an obligation to the public, to add a few additional chapters to my little book "Cat Consequences". You see, the consequences here at the humble abode just keep stackin' up. Consider:

The cat known as Minnie le Mew has taken a liking to  developed a fetish for my computer keyboard. This condition became known a few nights ago when  a loud crash was heard sometime around 3 a.m. Seems that Minnie, with all her excess poundage, decided to make a flying leap (for the mouse?), landing somewhere between the Caps Lock and Enter keys,bringing down the keyboard and slide-out drawer, rails and all. In fact, even as I write this, a fluffy orange and black tail is dangling over Ctrl and Tab.

Then there's the preventive maintenance aspect which has gotten completely out of control.

Me: Hon, have you seen my hearing aid? I left in on the dresser last night.
Missus: (mumbles something)
Me: What? I can't hear you.
Missus: (Yelling now) I put it in your sock drawer so the cats wouldn't eat it.

Then there's the matter of the open door/closed door policy. Certain doors must remain open at all times to allow access to the litter box, food bowls, water bowls, cat toys, and favorite sleeping spots. Others, but not many, remain closed, denying entry to such places as closets, certain bedrooms, and may God Have Mercy on your Soul if you leave the door to the attic stairs open. Why? Because the little darlings could dash up the steps, fall into the insulation, be trapped, and die a horrible death. Or so I'm told.

Now I may have explained the conditions here before but it needs to be repeated. I know, all you macho types are saying, "Why, I'd shoot them damn cats." You do not understand the situation. My choices are.

A. Deal with the cats or
B. Pay alimony and live under a bridge down by the river.

I knows my place Baby and it ain't #1.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Da Book

If there is anyone left in the civilized world that I've haven't told about writing a novel, this is for you. It was quite an experience; frustrating, overwhelming, confusing, perplexing, maddening, and sometimes fun and satisfying. But like the dog that chases a car and catches it, I don't know what to do now. The book, No Refuge, is presently in the hands of Lulu.com, a print-on-demand outfit, but sales are, shall we say, less than impressive.  But with zero promotion, I suppose that's to be expected. What I did expect was that Lulu would have the title in their search engine by now, but nooo. You can find it by typing in Warren Williams if you're so inclined.

If one goes to Google search, and enters How to get Your Book Published, dozens of companies pop up, each of them more than happy to "help" you get your book on the shelves. Their "help" comes after you pay them such things as evaluation fees, editing fees ($35-65 an hour), text layout fees ($7-25 per page), proofread ($35-60 an hour), Cover Design ($650-$1,500). In fact, the whole process can easily run into thousands and thousands of dollars and while I do like to play a little blackjack from time to time, gambling that amount of money would keep me up at night. Way too much stress on this old man.

However, here's how you can help: If any of you know a publisher (surely there's someone out there) that would be willing to take a peek at my effort and possibly offer a contract, please, please give me a name. A movie offer would be considered as well. Or here's another idea, just buy a copy of the damn book. I would be sooo grateful.

(note the new convenient links on the side bar)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My (Weed) Garden

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And a lot of other damn weeds.
 
I know just how Mary feels. The intention was to raise some wildflowers in a small patch of dirt on the south side of the house but somehow, things went horribly wrong. The idea was to attract butterflies and birds for the camera and to make prize winning photos but nooo, what I got was weeds, lots of weeds.
 
Yes, I followed the instructions from the seed company last fall. Lightly till the soil so as not to awaken the bad weed seeds. Plant the flowers no more than 1/8 inch deep and mash the seeds into the dirt. Water as required. What could possibly go wrong? What happened was I got a crop of oats that I could have fed half the city of Tulsa with. I know, right now you're saying, where did the oats come from? The oats came from the year before last when I foolishly bought some straw bales to hold moisture for the newly planted Bermuda grass seed. What I didn't realize was that the straw contained about 3/4 billion oat seeds that contaminated the lawn, my neighbors lawn, and possibly a few showplace lawns in various locations between here and Texas.
 
This year would be different. I bought a product called Round-Up that not only kills weeds but everything with even a  hint of green. I mixed a batch, doubled it, and sprayed liberally all the while mumbling something like, die you little bastards, die. But there was still the matter of the seeds below the surface that Round-Up couldn't touch, patiently waiting for just the right conditions to take life, sprout up, and laugh in my face.
 
But the secret weapon, the coup de grace, was the plastic; a sheet of clear plastic, weighted down, and large enough to cover the entire flower plot. The theory was that the heat of the sun would come through the plastic and be held there, sort of  like a little bad seed oven set on High, and fry those little oats and weeds to a crisp, never to be seen again.
 
A few weeks later I removed the plastic and viewed the scorched earth. No growth, nothing. One could almost imagine a few small animal skeletons, the bones bleached from the sun. Once again, I planted the wildflowers according to specific instructions, watered, and waited.
 
Today I have a lush bed of the greenest, healthiest oat sprouts you've ever seen in your life. If there's a flower in there somewhere, it will never see a single ray of sunshine.  Tomorrow I'm calling the Quaker Oat people and see if they could use another farmer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bassin' with Barbara

As noted in a previous entry, Arnold and I hired a guide for a morning of fishing on Lake Fork. Now I had used a guide before but on a different lake and in pursuit of a different variety of fish. The lake was Texoma, the fish were  striped bass (stripers), and the guide was a large male that guzzled beer, wine, or champagne, whatever he happened to have on board that day.

When our guide for Lake Fork turned out to be female, I wasn't sure how the inevitable and often urgent need to go pee-pee was going to play out. Arnold and I had decided beforehand to fore go the beer that morning (the only wise move of the day) but even drinking nothing but water, there was the question of proper etiquette if the need arose.

After a couple hours of fishing and learning that Barbara was just plain folks like us, we asked about the problem. "Well, as you know," she said, "it's no problem for the guys. I just face forward until I hear an all clear. But for me, it gets a little more complicated." She explained how her clients were paying good money for their time on the lake with a guide and to have that guide pull them off a hot spot for her to go to the bank when nature called, wasn't good for business. "I just rely on my male guests to be gentlemen and fish off the front of the boat while I step to the rear." But that arrangement didn't always work out. She told of the incident where she was in the back with her pants down when the boat hit a stump, dumping her in the water. "So there I was with my jeans around my knees, treading water, and trying to protect my modesty all at the same time. I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that morning and when the guys swung around to pick me up, they grabbed my by the hood and pulled. The problem was, not only couldn't I get my pants up, I couldn't breathe either as the shirt was around my neck. But they finally got me out of the water and we had a good laugh about it."

We asked about other guests and if any of them made a pass at her while on the lake. "Yeah, there were a couple but I got control of that in a hurry. I do keep .38 pistol there in the glove box."

She told us about some other customers that were less than friendly. "I had a bunch from New York once. They were okay I guess but they were a little different than the fisherman I usually get. They would ask things like "What's up with all these people you meet on the road waving a finger at you? They'd never seen the one finger over the steering wheel wave before. It started raining really hard with lots of lightning when we were out and I took them to a covered dock that belonged to an acquaintance while we waited out the storm. The guy that owned the dock saw us there and brought out drinks and sandwiches. The New Yorkers were incredulous, "You're not going to eat that sandwich are you? That guy might have done something to it."

"Then there was the lawyer who repeatedly told me that if he were injured in any way while on the lake, he'd sue me and own my boat before it was over. After listening to his threats for half a morning, I'd had enough, took him to the shore, and told him to get his ass out of my boat."

Needless to say, fishing with Barbara was a hoot. And not once did she pull her gun on us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Lake Fork Lure

The ad on the Internet read: "Your home away from home." It was describing the facilities at Benner's Lodging on Lake Fork, Texas, the place that Arnold had chosen to rent for our fishing trip.  Frankly, I was skeptical about the facilities. I could believe that the place had a deck, a TV, towels, and some toiletries, but then came the outlandish claim that the kitchen would be stocked with such items as; orange juice, milk, soda, cereal, ice tea, eggs, bacon or sausage, bread, lunch meat, cheese, cheese & crackers and chips. No way. I've stayed in many such places in my time, but eggs and bacon in the fridge? Nope, it was trick, had to be. Nothing more than a vicious lie to lure us dumb fishermen in, not unlike a bass to a spinnerbait.

Upon arrival, you can imagine my surprise as I swung open the refrigerator door to find exactly what was promised. Not only that but there were two kinds of milk, low fat and whole. The orange juice was quality stuff, not your cheapo variety. There was salad dressing, spices, and a loaf of bread. A variety of cereal lined the counter alongside a pound of fresh coffee. I kept looking for little attached price tags such as you find in a hotel mini-bar but there were none.  But the capper was a fresh brewed pitcher of iced tea, chilled, and waiting for us. Unbelievable. I had to talk to these people.

Arlene and Jerry Benner welcomed Arnold and I as we were bringing in the rest of our gear. Arlene related how the people in the lodging business told her she would go broke stocking their rental places like she did, she wouldn't last through the season.  "That was 13 years ago," she said. "We're still in business." One would be hard pressed to find a nicer couple.  I'd forgotten that people who treat strangers like that still existed.

I could think of only one other possible amenity for the cabin. A few cold brewskies might have slid down even better than the iced tea.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

cats and ice makers

What do cats and ice makers have in common? They both cause problems. The cursed ice maker is overflowing again, filling the little tray with water, sticking all the cubes together, and making it damn near impossible for a fella to get ice for his evening toddy. The stupid device has been working perfectly after the last overhaul, about two months ago, and now...

It's not rocket science. A motor turns a gear that turns a cam that closes a switch that opens a water valve for a few seconds. What could possibly go wrong? And why are men supposed to know about these things? We are not born with this knowledge folks. I've never known a woman to work on an ice maker. Why? Their answer to problems such as this are always the same; buy a new one. Simple solutions to complex problems right?

The second major problem of the day happened when I opened the door and the cat known as Minnie le Mew dashed outside to lie in the autumn sun. Not a big deal, she does this a lot and stays close to the house. Then, from out the window of the man cave, I see a large animal in the back yard, a pit bull it turns out. I know the dog, he lives across the street and his name is Lucky. Lucky may be the friendliest pit bull I've ever met but Lucky is not so friendly toward cats. I step out to check on Minnie's welfare and see a flash of orange dashing over the river and through the woods moving at a speed that would leave a cheetah in the dust. The Missus was away, doing whatever she does, in town and under such conditions, I am responsible for the welfare of the cats. In that respect, I'm like the convicted felon, my record with cats is not so good and when bad things happen to them, I take the blame, guilty or not. It comes with the territory.

A half hour later, I finally persuade Lucky to terrorize some other part of the neighborhood while I begin the search for the missing feline. Not that I think the cat would actually leave home, it has it made here and knows it, but there would be that matter of dealing with the wrath of Ruth for not making at least a token attempt to find it. On the second loop around the property, I catch a flash of color and sure nuff, the cat is sitting in the tall grass alternately looking at me and for Lucky.

It was time to pry some ice out of the freezer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fishing With Arnold; Another Chapter

Lake Fork in Texas, just a ways east of Dallas, was our destination. At one time, maybe a decade or more ago, Lake Fork was the hottest bass lake in the country. Lunkers, monsters, hawgs, whatever you want to call big fish, were coming out of Fork in numbers that would make anyone with a fishing pole drool. I had never fished that lake so when Arnold called me with the proposal to spend four days there, I accepted knowing full well that there would be some mishaps, some incidents, possibly life threatening, but the temptation to catch a trophy fish, a wall-hanger, overcame my fears.

Halfway through the first morning and having caught only a couple fish not much bigger than our bait, the boat began to emit a long beeeeep sound, an alarm. The same thing had happened with the boat on my last trip with Arnold but was thought to be a low oil warning. The addition of a few pints of oil seemed to have cleared the condition. We checked the oil level, the reservoir was full. Not the problem. We make a phone call to Tulsa to son Mark. Check the Internet we say and see what a long beep means on a Mercury outboard. Arnold had a motor manual but it was back at the house for safe keeping.  Turns out it's a heat warning, the motor was getting hot. Not good. We make it back to the dock, haul the boat to the nearest repair facility where the mechanic tells us that the problem is most likely the impeller in the water pump. He would be happy to fix it for $140 he says. We have little choice but to agree to the pirate's terms and make him happy.

Now you would think such a setback would be enough drama for one trip but when you're fishing with Arnold, the adventure has only just begun. While sipping a wee bit of bourbon that evening with the newly repaired motor and boat parked at the lodge, we decided it would be a great idea to hire a guide, if only for a half day, to show us a few hot spots, the honey holes, where we could later return in search of Ol' Grandad Bass. Arnold makes a few calls and finds a local guide to take us out the very next morning. The guide, a lady guide as it turns out, will meet us at a place called The Minnow Bucket at 6:30 sharp. Arnold tells her where he's calling from, or so he thinks, and learns the meeting spot is just down the road from the public boat ramp. Do we drive to the designated rendezvous and confirm the location? No.

At 5:00 a.m. we are up and drinking coffee, excited at the prospects of the day, when Arnold is hit with a sudden attack of diarrhea. We leave the lodge at 6:15. It's still quite dark and to complicate matters, a thick fog blanketed the roads.  At 6:40 we are still looking for The Minnow Bucket. Turns out there are many, many, public boat ramps on Lake Fork. Finally we find a convenience store with the lights on and learn that the Minnow Bucket, another convenience store, is at least ten miles from the place where we sit. Luckily our guide, sweet, understanding lady that she was and having dealt with fishermen of our type in the past, was waiting for us with a smile on her face. But despite the professional help, nary a lunker was landed.

Other noteworthy incidents during the trip were the time when Arnold noticed the boat was almost out of gas when we were miles from the ramp. (We made it back on fumes.) I made my own contribution to the weekend by driving the boat over a few submerged rocks, making a neat little ding in the very expensive, stainless steel prop. Arnold mumbled something about how he would have to get it all straightened out before the out-of-balance prop destroyed some sort of seal thingy in the innards of the motor. Arnold, the rocks were UNDERWATER, how was I to know? Sure I was quite close to the bank with similar rocks, quite large ones actually and yes they were quite conspicuous but again, who knew?

With no luck catching any fish to brag about, we decided to forego fishing on the morning of departure. At seven o'clock I stepped outside the cabin to dark skies and thunder. Arnold, says I, we need to hook up to the boat before it rains. We did so, but before we could pack our gear and suitcases, the skies opened up. It was like the proverbial cow urinating on the flat rock. We waited for it to let up, and waited, and waited. Several cows and several flat rocks later, we decided to make a dash for it. We used garbage bags to protect our duffels and my camera gear and ran to the truck only to find that the windows were DOWN. Seems that Arnold had lowered them in order see better as he backed the truck up to the boat and forgot to put them up again. Two hours of downpour were in the cab. On the floor, in a pool of water only slightly smaller than Lake Fork, lay a digital camera (his) and a GPS unit (mine). Status of said instruments are unknown at this time. We sat on still more garbage bags for the trip back home while I made frequent comments on how a ruined GPS should cancel out a little ol' ding in a fancy prop.

At home, as I pulled my wet gear from the truck and piled it on my lawn to dry out, Arnold caught my eye.

"You wanna go again in the spring?"

"Oh hell yes. We'll slay em' next time."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fishing with Arnold, the series.

Past recipients of e-mails know about my fishing trips with Arnold but I didn't have a blog spot with a larger audience such as now. Adventures with Arnold need to be shared with as many as possible, if for no other reason than as a public service for water safety, not to mention saving peoples lives. Listen and learn. The life you save could be your own.

In the past, I have related previous experiences on several lakes where Arnold and I have, at various times:

1. Set the boat on fire.
2. Tore the prop off the motor.
3. Ran out of oil in the middle of the lake
4. Overhauled the motor on the bank of an island.
5. Embedded fish hooks in various parts of our anatomy.
6. Lost hundreds of dollars worth of gear overboard.
7. Narrowly avoided head-on collisions with other boats.
8. Endured gale force winds and torrential rain while bailing water with a Wal-Mart tackle box.
9. Getting drunk
10. Getting lost

I could go on...but you get the picture. Fishing with Arnold is a life changing event. So why did I agree to go to Texas and fish with him again on a date that is approaching with frightening speed? Gotta be a death wish, pure and simple.

For those so inclined, a prayer may be in order. I need to cover all the bases.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bears

Not sure if this is a rant or not, maybe just an opinion. Oh hell, let's make it a rant.

Headline: Tulsa World: Black-bear season ends quickly. The article tells us that 31 bears, some weighing as much as 600 pounds, were killed in southeast Oklahoma in one day. The article goes on to say that most were killed by crossbow rather than the compound bow. No guns are allowed but the hunters do have permission to bait the animals. Come on in bear. Smell that? Good stuff. A little closer now. THUNK!

I have a simple question. Why do we need to kill bears in Oklahoma? Have the black beasts been attacking toddlers in their yards? No. There are no reports of OK bears attacking people where they live, at least that I know of. At a camp, in the woods, with food around? Yes, there was an incident a year or two ago where a bear came into a camp but no people were harmed. Yes, bears do raid bird feeders and are quite happy to clean up any dog food left outside, but what do you expect when you choose to share the same woods where bears live?

Are OK bears killing livestock and depriving the farmer of a living? No. Well, unless you count the one time during 18 year of record keeping where a bear took out a pig. I wouldn't think that predation was that big of a problem

So who decided that our bear population was so out of control, that we need to eliminate 31 of them every year?

Have you ever seen a black bear in Oklahoma? I haven't and I spend a considerable amount of time in the outdoors with my camera. I'd love to see a bear! What a thrill that would be.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against all forms of hunting. I'm not a PETA member. I've hunted myself, many times; deer, quail, pheasant but my justification was this; the game was plentiful, it ended up on the dinner table (I'm told bear tastes terrible), and I enjoyed the camaraderie, the challenge, and a few sips of bourbon before that meal of fresh venison was served up. The only part I didn't like was pulling the trigger, the killing part. That's why I gave it up. An excellent book on this subject is titled Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt, by Ted Kerasote.

No, my gut feeling on bear hunting in OK is not that we have too many bears, but that the politicians in this state, looking for that good-ol-boys vote, pushed for a bear hunting season so their constituents could feel that satisfying rush of adrenalin, that pulsating testosterone thrill, that dominance of man over animal feeling, at the moment they see that magnificent creature fall and die at their feet.

"They were all beautiful bears" said a manager of the Department of Oklahoma Wildlife after the recent hunt.

I suppose they were. Most of us will never know. One thing's for sure. They're damn sure not beautiful now.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is it just me?

Is it just me or have even the most simple of tasks become incredibly complex and frustrating? For instance; I was at the Bass Pro Shop cashing in a gift certificate, actually it was a prize gift certificate that my fishing pardner Arnold and I had won while at a bass fishing tournament last spring. I know, hard to believe that Arnold and I could win anything while we were so busy just trying to stay alive on the lake, but that's another story.

Anyway, I'm checking out the aisles when I see a nifty rain suit with the label Frogg Toggs. Arnold has one and I had admired the quality: water proof, breathable, and light weight. I find my size, check out with my certificate, and drive 25 miles home where I discover that the jacket and pants are of different sizes. I may have put on a few pounds but XXL is way, way, TOO big.

Next day I grumpily drive 25 miles back for the exchange. I find the same color on the rack, a snazzy sky blue, and head for the returns counter, making absolutely sure I have matching sizes. I notice a scowl on the clerk's face. "These are different prices," she says. "This one is ten dollars cheaper than the original suit you bought."

I"m as puzzled as she is, then it hit's me. "Let me take a look." Aha, it's the same brand, same color jacket and pants, but the pants are not of the bib variety. To me, bibs on rain paints are essential. If you've ever been in a driving rain storm, on the lake, with Arnold, and you bend over to keep the rain from hitting you in the face, you will find that without the bib, the water runs off your back and down the crack of your... well, let's say pants.

Another trip down the aisle. See, what I mean? Complications. Nothing's easy anymore. And to top it all off, no sky blue in my size with a bib. But I did find a brown one and that's okay, maybe even better. This one matches my eyes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This is a rant. This is not a drill.

Rant alert. This is a rant alert. This is not a drill.

The longer I watched the National Geographic program on Tue. night concerning oil exploration in America and the continued desire of the oil companies to drill on the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, the angrier I became. While it's true that I, nor many Americans, will ever have the opportunity to visit that refuge, I strongly believe in it's preservation.

Consider this: The native residents of that particular land took a poll, asking whether they should vote to allow exploration. Even though each and every one of them would become rich by allowing access, the poll showed they wanted to bar the oil companies and preserve the land of their ancestors and for their children.

Yes, we need oil. We always will. Wind farms and solar energy help and should be developed but we will always need oil to preserve our present way of life. Oil is used for billions, yes billions, of the products we use everyday. One set of tires for our cars needs 22 gallons of oil to produce.

The U.S. uses 20 million barrels of oil daily. We produce less than half that. Will ANWR fill the gap? No! ANWR comprises only 5% of Alaska's North Slope. The Prudhoe Bay pipeline is now pumping less than 1/3 of the original flow. Alaska's entire oil production is 1/2 what it was ten years ago. It has been estimated that ANWR would supply the petroleum needs of the U.S. for less than six months. Do we really want to damage this pristine wilderness for such a drop in the oil bucket? Remember, it's believed that offshore Alaska contains as much oil as half of the entire lower 48. So should we rape ANWR so that that some oil company CEO's can buy a new yacht? Because that's all we, the common people, will see from it. If you believe the price of a gallon of gas will drop due to wells drilled in the middle of the caribou migraton path, I got some beach area in Arizona I'd like to sell you.

It's not only caribou, the polar bear is slowly losing it's habitat as well due to ice melt. Twenty percent of the ground there is frozen tundra that is slowly melting and releasing CO2 into the air. One third of Earth's carbon is frozen in the ground. This carbon will, sooner or later, be released into the atmosphere, exacerbating the problem unless something unforeseen happens.

Oh no, Senator Inhofe, there is no climate change. It's all a hoax by the scientists just as you claim. As Forest Gump might say, I'm not a smart man Jenny, but when I see that in the 1850's, Glacier N.P. had over 150 glaciers and only 26 today and expected to disappear completely by 2030, I say hmm, something must be going on. When I take a tour of Glacier Bay and see photos taken by early explorers such as John Muir and see how the edges of those glaciers have drastically retreated by miles and miles, I say why? There has to be a reason. Granted, some of it may be cyclic but surely, some is due to the atmosphere where we dump tons and tons of contaminants every day. Whatever the cause, to deny that nothing is happening, to say that it's a hoax, to me, borders on dementia.

So go ahead, Sen. Inhofe, keep on airing those folksy campaign commercials where you walk through the fields of Oklahoma in your shiny new denim work shirt as America The Beautiful plays in the background, tell us once again how you are right and the best scientific minds of America are full of crap. The truly pathetic part is, you'll win the election in another landslide just as you always do.

Me? I'm voting for the bears.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I gotta get out of this place

Cool temps, sunshine. no gale force winds, can this be Oklahoma? One of the finest seasons of the year for us Okies has arrived! I gotta get out, somewhere, and take some photos, burn some pixels. I'm filled with guilt and ashamed, ashamed I tell you, to be sitting here in front of some damn computer screen at the absolute best season possible. Chilly mornings, almost jacket weather, with warm afternoons, and fluffy clouds. Some some call it call it bluebird weather, a perfect description.

But where do i go? Yes, there are parts of OK I've never seen, a very few. But I'm looking for majestic, sweeping vistas of color, mountains, clear streams flowing over lichen covered granite boulders, large animals, elk or bison, grazing on acres and acres of cinnamon colored grass. Where do I find that in Okie land? Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge? Comes close but been there, done that, many times.

Right now I'm thinking Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Done that too, but never with a digital camera. The Bosque has Sandhill Cranes by the thousands, ditto Snow Geese, always a few coyotes, and a wide variety of ducks. Nothing new mind you, but the wildlife is there. And where there are animals, there are photo opportunities. Thing is, prime time for the Bosque is Nov. through Jan.

Must be patient. Must force myself, in the meantime, to settle for Okie critters; pelicans maybe, at Salt Plains. Or migrant birds coming through the Tallgrass Praire. Or new backyard birds. No, that's out. The cats are out there...waiting. There's that. Not an option.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fotos and Football



After watching OU squeak by yesterday, I've never felt so uncertain about an unbeaten Oklahoma team. Today it's the Dallas Cowboys, winless so far. Could be a long day. Might need a Bloody Mary to get me through it. Thinking of becoming a roller derby fan.

Received a late birthday present last week, a wall sculpture that I had admired in a magazine and unbeknownst to me, been ordered by the Missus. It depicts five shore birds, sandpipers of some kind, all in a row, and seem be walking along the beach with some vegetation in the background. Very cool! Problem is, where to hang it?

Although I take a lot of photos, printing them is another matter. There are only so many walls in a house on which to diplay your efforts. As you might imagine, the wall space here at the humble abode is at full capacity. The arrival of the sandpiper sculpture upset the whole scheme of things. Big changes were in order.

Hooks were taken down, replaced, and moved. Measurements were taken. Frames were centered over couches and between doorways. In the end, it was clear that something had to go. It was not an easy decision, difficult in fact. It was a little like deciding which one of your children to give up for adoption.

After much thought, I pulled the black and white image of an egret in full flight, wings extended downward, displaying every feather, with a small catfish in his beak and all in beautiful light. But the job was done. The sandpipers look great over the mantle and the rest of the pictures found their own little niche.
NO! I couldn't take it. I was not happy. The egret now lives back here in the man cave. Yes, it's hidden from the public eye, but at least it's not in the back of the closet with the other 4522 photos that didn't make the cut.










Thursday, September 23, 2010

Woo Hoo!

Despite my misgivings with the sadistic treadmill technician at the cardiologist's office, I received notice today that my tests are back and I'm...are you ready?...NORMAL! What does that mean? Normal for an old man who will fall over graveyard dead the first time he picks up a snow shovel?

I was also informed that I have uniform radiotracer uptake in all myocardial segments, wherever they are, and my calculated ejection fraction is 64%. Oh Joy. I can't tell you the nights I've lain awake worrying about my ejection fraction. Go ahead make your dirty jokes. But sixty four percent mind you! Does that mean the old ticker is pumping out blood at a rate of only 64%? What's happening with the other 36? Is it pooling up somewhere? Possibly in my stomach? Cruel people would point to my waist size, snicker, and say yes, that's obviously where it's going.

The report continues with there was no evidence of stress induced ischemia. Well, that's a relief. I could have sworn I felt some ischemia just the other day. Or was that what I had for dinner the other night?

Lastly, there was no prior evidence of myocardial infarcation. I think that's a good thing. It sounds a little like when the heart passes gas.

All in all, it was good news. Thing is, now, when the Missus shoves that vacuum cleaner my way and nods toward the carpet, I can no longer grab my chest and loudly proclaim, "I think this is the big one!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ka-thump, ka-thump

I have a weird heart. Instead of pitty-pat, pitty-pat, mine has this unnerving hesitation; pitty-pat, pitty……pat. It doesn’t do it all the time mind you, usually I don’t even notice, but I have observed a relation between missed beats and stress, mental stress, such as dealing with the wife’s cats. However, the Missus does not deem my condition serious enough to reduce the cat population here in the humble abode. There is such a thing as priorities you know.

The family doctor, on the other hand, took note of the pitty…pat during my last visit and when I mentioned feeling some discomfort in my chest from time to time; he decided we should do a test called a Myocardial Perfusion Scan. It works like this: First you go to the waiting room and wait, hour and half minimum, before they call your name. A lady then comes in with a fat needle and they inject a radioactive isotope INTO YOUR BODY! And all this time, I thought radioactivity was something to be avoided. You then are led into a room with a mean-looking machine made of steel and iron and other cold, scary things where you are told to lie down and be very, very still for 13 minutes. Being still was not a problem. I was too intimidated to move.

Next up was the treadmill, the dreaded treadmill. It started well enough; a pleasant and not unattractive woman pasted the necessary wires to my chest and hit the start button. The pace was leisurely at first. She watched my pitty-pats on the monitor as we chatted over the usual trivia. I asked what her title was. “I’m a treadmill technician,” she said. Now those that know me very well, know that I have an embarrassing lack of social skills. I’m aware of it and should have shut up, but I didn’t.

“So this is all you do, all day?”
She shot me a look and nodded.
“So it’s sort of like working on an assembly line?”

I felt a sudden chill in the room as I saw her reach for the speed control on the treadmill. The pitty-pats shot upward. Then the damn thing got steep, very steep, as she increased the incline to at least 45, maybe 50 degrees. A minute later, I’m panting like a lizard, keeping one eye on the monitor for any missed beats and the other eye on the hallway where I expected to see a team of ER personnel running toward me with a gurney.

A number appeared on the screen. “That’s my target rate isn’t it? That’s where the test ends, right?”

I swore I saw her smirk. “Oh, we need to keep you at that for just a while longer.”

Maybe it was her training as a caretaker to have compassion for the elderly that took over, but she did, at last, turn the treadmill off. She managed one last gotcha as she jerked the suction cups and what little chest hair I have, loose from the skin leaving angry red marks like I’d been attacked by an octopus.

One more 13 minute session with the mean machine and it was over.

The results aren’t in yet, but somehow I have the feeling that no matter what the figures say, the treadmill technician will make sure I flunk that test.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taco Who?

It was a simple task. All I had to do was deliver a chair to the granddaughter’s house. The Missus had bought a new one at an estate sale to replace the brown chair being used in the guest room that didn’t fit in with the d├ęcor. Not that anyone would notice because the brown chair was perpetually covered by an old sheet, a cat sheet. Cat sheets are a common sight around here, their function being to keep cat fur and hair balls off the furniture. The new guest room chair exactly matches the drapes, or so I’m told. I’ve never seen the true color of it as it is sheltered with the exact same cat sheet as the old brown chair. But I digress.

“You remember where her house is don’t you,” the Missus inquired.
“Well of course I remember. I’ve been there before if you recall.” Can you imagine, a woman questioning the directional driving ability of the male species?

With said chair in the back of the pickup, I mentally reviewed the route. East on 11th street, go past the light at Delaware, turn south at the Mexican food place; first house on the right. Got it. I found the place easily, drug the chair from the truck, trudged up the front steps, and rapped on the door. A young man I didn’t recognize opened the screen and smiled. Thinking he was another of my granddaughter’s many friends, I mumbled something like, “Hey, how you doin’” and started to edge myself and the load through the entrance.

The man blocked my way. “Can I help you?” he said with a tone suggesting he had dealt with the mentally unstable before. I got a look at the living room. Hmm, did not look familiar. In fact, I’d never seen this room before in my life. I could sense the man of the house weighing his options; should I call 911 or just get my 9 mm Smith & Wesson?

Now on the verge of panic and total embarrassment, I asked the perfectly logical question. “Cheryl doesn’t live here does she?” The man slowly shook his head in a negative manner. His smile had disappeared. Red-faced and mumbling every apology I could think of, I backed away from the house, hurriedly shoved the old brown chair back into the pickup, and swallowing my manly pride, called the Missus.

“I don’t understand,” I moaned. “I turned right at the Taco Bueno just like I did the other time I was here.”

“Taco Bell, that’s where you turn, it’s another six blocks or so down 11th.”

Damn Mexican fast food joints. They all look alike.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dents

This time the traffic jam was not due to the 37 million orange barrels on the streets of Tulsa right now, the cause was a City of Tulsa work truck dealing with a street lamp pole that had been felled by another of our Okie drivers. Would you care to guess how a person can run into a pole, in plain sight, and a good ten feet or more off the road?

Oh how about drunk or texting.

Good guesses. With that in mind, I started counting the number of dents in guard rails, bent reflector posts, and other smashed light poles for the remaining four miles to my house. Guess again.

I guess five, maybe six?

No, no, no. How about 17? Seventeen severely damaged, dinged, or destroyed roadside markers, rails, and lights in only four miles of highway with a 55 mile per hour speed limit. Go figure. Who is doing all this damage? Are there that many drunken or inattentive drivers out there with us?

Wanna see something really scary? Next time you're on the Interstate and cruising along at 75 mph, check out the number of black marks on those concrete highway dividers. Those are made by the drivers of the megaton semi's when that 18 wheel Goliath rubbed against them. How would you like to have been beside that big boy when that event took place?

As for me, I'm staying home; back here in my man cave where it's dark, quiet, and safe.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sleeping With Wolves

Some of you may have missed it (ignored it?) but yesterday was my birthday. I had this idea, sort of, to do something a little different for that special day. Sure the birthday dinners are nice, everyone sings that song, and you smile while opening the cards, but you're secretly thinking, shit I'm getting old.

The idea came when I read about a cabin for rent at a place called Safari's just outside Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Safari's is an animal sanctuary for mostly exotic animals that have nowhere else to live, homeless critters, many of whom have been given up by ill-advised owners on the joys or lack thereof, of having a wild animal in your home. There are tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats, alligators, lemurs, and wolves to name but a few of the inhabitants.

The hook was that the cabin, a remodeled 1800's vintage cabin, was located right next to the wolves enclosure, less than 10 yards away from the bedroom window. How cool is that? As it turned out, I took a few photos of the wolves, some lemurs, an alpaca, a camel, a fat blond--yes blond--raccoon, and a few parrots. At sundown, I poured about three fingers of Crown Royal into a short glass filled with ice and waited for the wolves to get active and sing me a song, hopefully the Happy Birthday song. It didn't happen. The entire pack walked around for awhile longer, peed, and sniffed, and eventually found their own little niche in the pen for the night, curled up, and went to sleep. I drowned my disappointment with a little more Crown and thinking the wolves had a pretty good idea there, turned in as well.

At 3:03 a.m. the bedroom sounded like the entire Yellowstone wolf population was trying out for a singing competition. Howls, yips, and barks bounced off the walls and ceiling while I tried to figure out if I was delusional from the whiskey or having a bad dream. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window trying to see what all the commotion was about and verify that none of the wolves were actually in the room as I would have sworn they were, but as far as I could tell, it just one of those wolf things. Apparently, once or twice a night, one of them starts in with that eerie howl and all the rest say, "What the hell, might as well join in." The chorus lasted no more than five minutes then it was back to bed for everyone, although the heart of yours truly beat a little faster for slightly longer.

It was a good birthday. And best of all, I didn't think once about getting old.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be afraid, be very afraid.

By now you you've heard more about the upcoming 2012 doomsday (12-21-12 to be exact) than you wanted to know. That's the day that the ancient Mayan calendar ends and has been seen by many as an omen of impending doom. Dumb ol' Mayans. What did they know?

But wait. Did you catch the NBC evening news a couple days ago? Two meteorites passed between the earth and the moon and we had not a clue they were headed this way. One of them was 65 feet wide. That's big enough to put a good sized dent in the hood of your car. But bumping into things from outer space isn't the only thing that could change life as we know it, not by a long shot. Consider the following, all being discussed as the source of the 2012 prediction.

Super Volcanoes: Our own Yellowstone National Park sits atop one of the largest super volcanoes on earth. It's erupted before on the average of every 600,000 years. It's been 640,000 years since it last blew up. Big deal you say? Just another volcano? No, this one would coat Nebraska with two to three feet of ash. And tests show that the ground under Yellowstone is more active now than in recorded history. Hmmm.

Polar Reversal: Yep, that's happened before as well. The north and south magnetic poles swap fields. What's that gonna do for that GPS in your new car?

Rare galactic alignment: Also predicted to happen near the end of the year 2012. Nobody knows what would happen with this one.

Solar Flare: Of all the scenarios for the doomsday, this one actually has the most merit. A giant flare could take out our protective ozone layer and fry us all like worms on the sidewalk. Solar flares happen all the time, just not big ones. Logic would tell us it's just a matter of time.

Then there's the meteors and asteroids. Twice now, in the past couple years, we've had sizable objects pass between the earth and the moon. In space distances, that's like a bullet that misses your head by about an inch. In both cases, there were only a couple days warning. Not that it makes much difference. Where you gonna hide?

Kind of makes you think twice about buying that extended warranty on your new dishwasher doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Old and getting older.

As my birthday approaches (it's next week if you want to start thinking about my gift) I seem to fall into one of those melancholy moods and start thinking about how many more I have left. Not that I'm complaining about the ones gone by, overall it's been a pretty good ride, but it's easy to get into that bucket list mentality at this age.

At my last class reunion (the 50th) there was a presentation of photos of classmates that are no longer with us. We had a large class, around 700 if memory serves, and it took a good 45 minutes to go through the list of the dearly departed, all of them my age or close to it. Now that will start you to thinking.

My philosophy? Live every day doing what you want to do. While that's not always possible (there is that reality factor), it's as good a thing to have on your bucket list as any.

Gotta go. Wasting time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Life is Now Complete

Somehow, over these many years of mine, I've always had the feeling that something was lacking in my life, something I'd missed despite my age and experience, and last night, I discovered what it was; WOMEN'S ROLLER DERBY! Oh yeah, you young folks probably don't remember roller derby but it was quite popular on TV for a time. Menacing men wearing scowls and pads and throwing elbows and pushing opponents over the rail, all the while whizzing around an oval rink at breakneck speed. Now that was entertainment.

Last nights experience with the lady rollers lacked the ferocity of the men but there was lots of pushing and stumbles and falls although there was no rail to flip over. That was a little disappointing. My presence there was prompted by an invitation from a friend of mine who has a daughter that's a member on one of the teams and skates regularly. See what a college education can do for you kids?

Actually, I kind of enjoyed watching them. I learned about Jammers and Pacers and Blockers. Points are earned when Jammers pass members of the opposing team. Other than that, I have no clue about the rules. A man dressed in black with a handheld microphone, walked around the rink urging the crowd to yell and cheer and saying things like "Give it up for Criminally Insane". Yes that was the name on the back of one of the Jammers shirt. Other names were Torch Her, Severe Lisa Distik (sound it out) and Death by Kitty. Some wore face paint. The best makeup of the night had one lady looking a bit like the Joker from the Batman movie.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the evening was the attire of one of the officials. A guy who looked to be at least six feet four and sporting full beard and mustache, was wearing ladies black mesh hose under his shorts. I asked my friend about it and said the guy always dresses like that.
Cross dresser? Getting in touch with his feminine side? Or just plain weird? In any case it was all part of the fun of roller derby.

And so emotionally satisfying. The hole in my life had been filled. I slept like a baby.