Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not Cool

It is now 8:40 a.m. as I impatiently wait for the AC repairman to appear once again after another stifling night with fans as my only source of cool air. Did I mention that I spent a great deal of money (at least for me) to get a brand new unit installed just slightly more than six months ago?

The house, the yard, everything but the trees, was new ten years ago. That's when we had the home built and moved in. The AC fan motor had to be replaced in the first month. The motor was replaced again about five years later. The compressor went out during the seventh year. It lasted for three years. That's when the completly new unit was installed and now, more problems. We lived in our previous house more than thirty years. That home was built in the 50's and we had zero problems with AC for nearly fifteen years. There's a lesson there somewhere.

Somehow, the cats are to blame for this, I'm sure of it, just haven't figured out how. Probably cat fur clogging something up or maybe bird bodies jamming a fan.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not good, not good at all.

The weekend started off really bad Friday night when I noticed hot air coming out of the AC vents here at the humble abode. This unit is only 6 months old, cost a fortune, and now...the damn thing quits. Fans were still blowing, just not cold. Shut it off, waited, turned back on. Still hot air, turned it off and left it off. Sat. morning I had cold air again but by late afternoon, same problem. Check the outside unit and it has frost all over the innards. Ah, usually a sign of low refrigerant. Call the AC dudes who installed this piece of junk. Turns out that although, I have a ten year warranty, parts and labor, that doesn't include weekend calls. Those cost $120. "Tough it out or pay up, sucker"

Not only that, but the timer on my little pond pump quit. More expense.

Then I watched the Dallas Cowboys last night, they looked broken too.

Supposed to hit mid nineties today. Not good, not a good weekend at all.

(Isn't that pathetic? To sit here and whine when there are millions of people on this planet that have never once in their lives felt the comfort of cold air coming from an AC.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feeder update

Put on a fresh coat of deck stain this morning. Looks better. Second coat to follow.

While out there, I observed that the supply of bird seed is at normal levels. No more coon raids even though I've unplugged the fence charger a few days ago. An added benefit of this arrangement is that the squirrels have been discouraged as well. Maybe I should start a new business.; call it Feeder Zapper or somehing. Just send me $20 and receive plans on how to protect your feeders forever.

Of course there's that little technicality where the homeowner's heart stops when he gets hit with the Zapper because he forgot to turn if off before replenishig the seeds. There's that. Maybe I could include an asterisk at the bottom of the instuctions. Fine print of course.

*Not responsible for premature death.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Have you noticed all the earthworms that have been crawling out of the grass and on to the driveways and sidewalks only to end up looking like little black curly fries? Why do they do that? We know they have nerve endings because of the way they wiggle when we put them on a fish hook. So what are they thinking?

"Hey guys, I gonna crawl off this dirt and out of the grassy shade and venture across that white area out there where the heat waves are boiling up like a waffle maker. Looks like fun to me."

I mean, what kind of logic is that? After the first inch of delicate worm skin hits that 100 plus degree pavement, wouldn't you think he'd go "Uh, oh. Something wrong here."

But no, he doesn't back up, he doesn't do a U, he just lays there, maybe thinking he's somehow crawled onto a beach in Miami, Florida and will soon meet up with some worm babes. Or, "Hey, what a great spot for a tan."

At some point he has to be doing the Wicked Witch of the West thing, "I'm melting, I'm melting." But by then it's too late isn't it?

I don't understand worms.

Cat problems, AGAIN.

Awhile back I told you that we would eventually have to talk about the cats. Now is one of those times. The cat called Brat Cat, the holy terror, the born killer, the pest, the aggravation of my life, has commited another dastardly deed. I happened to catch sight of the little monster as I passed a window yesterday afternoon. She was sitting among a stand of flowers near the front door. Not doing anything, not even sleeping, just sitting there. I'm thinking smart cat, found a cool place in the shade.

A few hours later, I glance out the front door and Brat Cat is playing with an object of some kind, pushing it around on the cement and occasionally flipping it up in the air. It looked to be a big moth or a cicada but a closer look revealed the shocking truth, it was a hummingbird; a dead hummingbird. Her former position among the flowers wasn't for shade at all, it was an ambush point. As I said, natural born killer.

Oh I can hear the bird lovers now, "I'd get rid of that cat so fast." The thing is, you don't understand the problem. You're not seeing the big picture. While I am a bird lover, the Missus is a cat lover. Actually, the term cat lover doesn't cover it. More like cat fanatic bordering on feline related mental illness. To get rid of one of her cats is akin to selling one of her children into white slavery. Seriously. She can be watching film of the death camp at Auschwitz and if a kitty comes into view, she'll say "Oh that poor cat." Seriously.

Two possible solutions come to mind. One, cut down the flowers and two, start shopping for a kitty taser. Hey, electricity worked on the raccoons.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Raccoon Update

Although Mr. Coonie was seen under the bird feeders late last night, not a single sunflower seed, not one milligram of millet, not one minuscule trace of milo, was missing come the dawn. One can only conclude that science and technolgy ( a new fence charger) has triumphed over basic coonie skills (at least for one night). But something tells me that this battle is not over.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Curses. Foiled Again!

The coonies raided the feeders again last night despite the electrified wire. I caught one in the act with one foot on the hot wire and the other foot hanging on to the ground side, munching away. Clearly, the charger is defective despite reading 30 volts with a meter. ( I have no idea what it should read.) When hit with the powerful spotlight, he looked up for about one second as if to say "What's your problem Bud?" and went right back to chowing down.

However, a new charger is but a few miles from the humble abode. There WILL be a new device in place by this evening. I refuse to be defeated in this. I have the will. I have the technology. Confidence is high, repeat, confidence is high.

Victory will be snatched from the jaws of defeat. Revenge will be mine.

Okay, that's all the corny stuff I can think of for now. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Morning After

An eerie calm fell over the backyard feeders as the first rays of light revealed the aftermath of the electrified wire project. There were no raccoon bodies, no dead birds, no cats. Most of the feeders looked untouched even though I did catch sight of mama coon and three little ones eating seed from the ground around ten last night. They ran off when the light hit them but here's the thing, it looks like, and I can't be sure of this, but the middle feeder with the open tray seems to be missing way more seeds than what the birds might have eaten.

Tonight I'm going for documentation. I have a trail cam that I'm setting up. You've seen them, they're activated by motion and can take infra-red photos in the dark. Again, stay tuned. Photos tomorrow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Owner Fights Back

There comes a time when enough is enough. One can suffer only so much defeat and humiliation before reaction and revenge come surging to the surface. So it is with the coonies. The damn raccoons are licking the bird seed platter clean each and every night leaving nary a scrap for my feathered friends. The birds are giving me some strange looks in the mornings.

"We fly in here, risk our lives evading hordes of death dealing cats, searching for the tiniest morsel of sunflower seed, but what do we get? Zilch. Nada. There are other bird feeders in town you know."

Just to review, the only and I mean only, way of keeping out the coonies that has worked so far is the electric fence charger. I went to great lengths and expense rigging PVC pipe, wire, and grounding rods to electrify one feeder. But it worked. And continues to work even without the charger being plugged in.

So, today I cut two pieces of PVC pipe to use as insulators, attached the hot wire to the middle strand holding the feeders, and grounded both ends. A voltmeter confirmed it, we are HOT baby. Volts and amps, silently wait for the first coonie to step across the insulator and hopefully light his little fuzzy ass up. No, it's not lethal but as the original rig demonstrated, it will get their attention.

Tonight will be the first test. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

e-mail scam

Had this message in my e-mail inbox today. The name that was used is a relative of mine.

Hey! I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us. We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance..Please, Let me know if you can help us out? Am freaked out at the moment!!

I've read of this scam before. It's been around for awhile. Who could fall for that?

But the guy from Algeria that wants to share his fortune with me if only I will help him with some legal fees sounds interesting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Every morning, I try to do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. There's two of them but I pick the easy one. Why the easy one? I just said, because it's morning. I am not a morning person. I used to be a night person but now I'm too old for that as well. Now, I'm more of ten to two guy with a nap thrown in.

I've been doing that puzzle for years and have become quite familiar with the clues, many times the same ones being used over and over again. Takes me about ten minutes, fifteen max. But to further stimulate the old brain cells, many of them dead and dying from too many beers, I sometimes try to so the Scrabble words. There are four words to solve, the letters jumbled, and you are to make six or seven letter words from the jumble.

I fail, miserably, almost every day. My programming does not recognize the answers. I need a new download, a new driver, an update, more RAM, something. The words aren't usually that hard. The solutions, revealed in the next day's paper, are fairly common words ending up with the old head slap and saying "I knew that word!" What's aggravating though, is when the sadist that authors that puzzle comes up with one like he did yesterday morning. The word was "upwaft".

No that's not a misspelling. "Upwaft". It's like asking Elmer Fudd what he felt when he put his head out the window on the 25th floor. "An upwaft, a vewy stwong upwaft." Bugs, the wascally wabbit, probably felt the upwaft as well.

That was it. No more Scrabble for me. I'm sticking to the crossword.

Th, th, tha, that's all folks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

They're Baaaccckkkk

The raccoons are back, raccoons as in plural, as in baby raccoons, a whole damn family of them, maybe more than one family. All I know is that of the five bird feeders that I have strung across the back yard, four of them were empty, bare, not one seed in them this morning. The thieves were spotted around midnight last night when the Missus opened the door to check on her cats. She said there were so many coons out there, it sounded like a stampede when the light came on.

Do you think the cats lifted a paw to defend their territory or to sound the alarm? NOOOO. Would you like to know why the fifth feeder remained untouched? Well, I'll tell you why. Because that feeder had the distinction of being wired with an electric fence charger that's why. Now the charger hasn't been plugged in for a month, but nary a seed was touched. Obviously, a lesson was learned and remembered for that particular dispenser.

The live trap doesn't work anymore. They remember that too.

Tonight, I'm calling the cats together for a meeting to remind them where their groceries are coming from and how a little cooperation will keep that tuna coming.

Stay tuned for results of that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The blog today has been cancelled due to lack of interest.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another great Saturday

Yeah, it's still hot but I'm alive and kickin'. I used to hear that expression a lot among the farm folks in Kansas. Trouble is, most of those farmers that I knew aren't kickin' anymore. I suppose there's not that many farmers anymore either.

I can remember how Saturday nights were a pretty big deal back then. My folks would sometimes get together with four or five other families for a big night of Canasta. For you young whipper-snappers, Canasta was a card game played with pardners. If you're team won, you moved up in the ranking until you were playing for the Saturday Night Championship at the Head Table. Win or lose, if you made it to the Head Table, you had a good night with the cards.

If there were no Canasta parties scheduled on Saturday Night, we would head to the town of Horton, Kansas, about a fifteen minute drive. There I would be given a quarter, twenty-five cents to spend any way I wanted. My choices never varied, a ticket to a movie (15 cents) and a comic book (ten cents). I spent many an hour agonizing over which comic book to buy. But nine times out of ten, Superman or Batman would win out.

The ride home in the back seat of our old Ford was the perfect way to end the day; slowly drifting off to sleep, listening to the sound of the tires while the folks quietly chatted about the latest news in the community. I always wished that road were fifty miles long instead of the short five that it actually was.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Rant

Recent item in the newspaper: Seventeen year old girl in pickup crosses center line killing a 20 year old girl. Hmmm. Blowout or inattentiveness? My guess; texting on a cell phone. C'mon people, this practice is beyond stupid, it's tragic.

Then there was the story about the vandals that ripped the arms off a tree stump sculpture depicting a boy waving. The carving was in Utica Square, an upscale shopping center. The artist was a well known chain saw sculptor. Could someone explain to me the motivation behind this? How about all the media attention these jerks got? First a big article in the newspaper followed by television coverage. Can't you just see them pointing at the screen and giggling. "That's us. We did that! Hey guys, what do you want to destroy next? Maybe we'll get national coverage next time!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Hooray! Hooray!
There's ice today
Little white cubes,
Piled up in the tray.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ice maker woes

I promised I would keep you up to date on the ice maker problems so here's the latest. You did want to stay informed, right? I swapped out the present device with an old ice maker I had in the attic. See, some of you would have thrown that away wouldn't you. Admit it. Anyway, the replacement didn't leak, kicked out the ice, but did not refill with water. There was only one thing to do. No, not buy a new one, that's the easy way out. What you do is tear the old one apart and poke around.

I should tell you that I spent almost my entire working career working on things with switches, relays, and blinking lights so I am not without poke around experience. Sho nuff, found a bad switch. Cleaned the contacts. Put it back together... although there was one little spring whose proper location was in question. Filled tray with water. Waiting. Updates to follow.

Folks, you just can't find blogs like this anywhere.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday follow up.

You would have been proud of me; out of bed at dawn, got coffee to go, grabbed the camera, and headed out to the big, beautiful world to catch the morning light. Okay, so I only drove out to the Keystone Lake dam, about 20 minutes, but I did get out. Since we've had no rain in who knows when, naturally there was no water coming through the turbines which means no fish which means no birds eating fish. Oh there were birds, egrets, herons, and vultures by the hundreds, but no activity. With few exceptions, all were standing on the rocks, chatting about their families and the weather, with one eye on what little water there was in hope that a thunderstorm upstream might boost the level up an inch or two.

The icemaker I referred to in yesterday's post? You did read it didn't you? Well, it still drips. I'll get back to you on that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Still hot, another Monday.

Those of you who have been anxiously awaiting the results of installing a new fuel filter on the lawnmower, can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Mowed the entire lawn without a flame out. Today, I tackle the problem of an over-flowing ice maker in the fridge. The excitement never ends around here.

Checked on the Mississippi Kite nest this morning. Both of the young birds were in their usual place so the cats didn't get one after all. I suppose I should have apologized to them for the accusation but I didn't. Will be so glad when this oppressive heat wave moves on so I can get out and shoot some photos without the viewfinder fogging over from sweat and humidity. I suppose I could turn the AC in the pickup on high and shoot out the window. There's that. Wait, that's just wrong on so many levels.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Birds and books

There was only one Mississippi Kite youngster in the nest yesterday evening. Hopefully the other one has reached the stage where it can fly and has not fallen from the nest to become a victim to predators. My wife's cats have been seen in that neighborhood from time to time and cannot be ruled out, but no one is talking.

Did I mention that I received a few preliminary copies of my so called novel, No Refuge? It was printed by Lulu.com and I thought they did a good job with the possible exception of having the title a little too high on the cover. But maybe that was my fault. In any case, I have to admit to a certain amount of satisfaction and pride to have the finished product on my coffee table.

A couple of people, known for giving honest opinions, are reading it as we speak. Depending on their reviews, a decision will be made as to whether more editing is needed in hopes of a real publication, or simply chalk it up to experience. It's hard for me to believe that it has been two years since I started working on it. That's not writing every day of course, there were several weeks when I got burned out and didn't touch it, but all in all, it was a worthwhile experience. Just not sure I'll ever do it again. Truth is, I'm a much better reader than writer.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday, with sprinkles.

A little rain this Sat. morning but not enough. The grass is turning brown but I'm too cheap to water the lawn as I should. Living outside the city limits has its disadvantages as we folks out here on the edge are charged, no penalized, by outlandish water rates. But get this, my house is less than a mile and on the downhill side from an enormous water tower owned by the city. The water has to travel much further to reach Sand Springs than it does to my house. By logic, I should get a reduced rate, don't you think?

My computer monitor went belly up. Well, not actually dead, but in need of intensive care. It began with a little bit of a flicker on power-up and steadily degraded to black screen for five minutes followed by another five minutes of flicker. Thing is, its only a little over two years old. Yeah, there's a warranty but for parts only. I have no clue what the labor and shipping would be. No doubt close to the original cost.

As old timers like to say, "They just don't make wide-screen, high definition, LCD monitors like they used to."

Friday, August 6, 2010


I was most relieved when the neighbor lady picked up the stray dog yesterday afternoon, as were the cats. Hopefully the little thing will have a future but a dog with questionable ancestry doesn't have much chance of adoption it seems. Here's your old man lecture of the day folks; spay and neuter!!!. Yeah it costs a little money but you're doing the animal and the rest of the community a great service. Tell your kids that animals aren't like video games, to play with for awhile and then forgotten.

The dog may be gone but the young Mississippi Kites are still here and on the nest, though not for long. This morning, the two youngsters were sitting out on a limb, their fuzzy white heads having changed to a light brown and now sporting dark streaks across their breasts. It won't be long; days, maybe hours, before they take to the skies. According to my reference books, the adults will continue to feed them for a few more weeks, sometimes in mid-air. Now that's a photo I'd love to get.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Puppy Saga Continues

I got to give her credit, the lady who dropped the puppy off at our house yesterday did indeed come back to get it that afternoon. Just one hitch, she brought it back this morning. She related a quite familiar story of how she had spent the entire day on the phone, trying to get anyone or any organization to deal with the little critter. Animal Aid was finally persuaded to take the dog but the lady had to agree to a period of servitude and to act as a sex slave for an undisclosed amount of time.

The reason this whole scenario is like a recurring bad dream, is that another neighbor had a similar experience. Found a dog, brought it to Ruth's Rescue Service with the understanding that she would find a home for it and that it was a very temporary solution. In a sense she did find a home, the dog stayed here for six months before another sucker, I mean animal lover, came along. In the meantime, Saint Ruth took it to the vet, got shots, all that expensive stuff, fed it of course, and let it roam the house where it proceeded to destroy nonessential items such as doors, gates, couches and comfy easy chairs.

The dog in the backyard now is about the same size as the previous occupant, small, white, with perky ears. Hell, it may be the same dog!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No, not another one.

When your doorbell goes off at 6:45 a.m. it's like the phone ringing in the middle of the night, you know it can't be good. This morning, a neighborhood lady stood at my front door with, you guessed it, another stray animal, this time a puppy. Now, I've looked for it and can't find it, I'm sure it's there somewhere, but there has to be a sign in my yard that says RUTH'S RESCUE CENTER---BRING ANY ANIMAL YOU FIND HERE.

The lady had been on her way to work when you saw the puppy in the middle of the highway, dodging cars. We have five animals living here, four cats and a dog, all were strays that were given a home. Some quite reluctantly, but that's the case. We're full up, no vacancy, no room at the inn. Here's the problem; we don't live in the city limits of either Sand Springs or Tulsa where they have facilities for taking care of things like this. We live in Osage County. Osage County does not have an animal shelter. The options are few. It's either keep it, try to find a home for it, kill it, or re-dump it.

There's not a month that goes by that a new stray dog doesn't show up somewhere in this neighborhood, an ongoing problem that Osage County ignores. This is the same county that has forced me to change my address twice in the last nine years; another indicator of how efficient they are over there at the court house.

In the meantime, the lady has promised to pick up the dog after work. What happens from there? Who knows? But like the rude awakenings in the dark, it can't be good.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Cats

I may as well introduce you to the cats. Sooner or later, we'll have to talk about them. My wife has four cats. Please note that I did not say we have four cats. I want to be very clear about this. I do not own a cat... but I tolerate them. In return, they and the Missus let me live here.

There's Yellow Cat, the oldest and with the most seniority, the only male. For quite some time Yellow was known as the al-Quida cat for his propensity to terrorize the neighborhood pets as well as any wildlife that foolishly wandered into his territory. These days, Yellow is getting long in the tooth and prefers to simply watch over his domain from the back deck and let the younger ones due the fighting. Not that he won't mix it up now and then but that's another story.

Then there's the gray cat named Blue. Why it isn't called Gray, I'll never understand. Blue was a stray of course, just as they all were. Like most stray cats, they just show up on your doorstep one day and demand to be fed; Blue was no exception. The unique thing about the Blue cat is that she is bi-polar and delusional. If you watch for awhile, she will sit down on her rump and stare at the sky, constantly swiveling her head as if watching for Japanese Zeros to come out of the sun. I'm sure the Missus would like to take her to a cat psychologist but that hasn't happened...yet.

Brat Cat: As the name implies, this cat gets into any and everything. If it moves, it's not safe from the Brat cat. Phone cords, a leaf, a grasshopper, or your toes are fair game. She teases the other cats and constantly wants to play fight even though it's 100 degrees in the shade. My suggestion for permanent solitary confinement for this troublemaker has been dismissed without negotiation or arbitration.

Lastly, and the latest addition is Minnie Le Mew, a calico cat that eats, sleeps, and uses the litter box. That's it, that's all she does. It wasn't always that way but again, that's another story.

I have a lifetime of experience dealing with cats and their consequences. Feel free to call on me for advice. In fact, I put together a little guide on that very subject and is available for download at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/cat-consequences/2620748?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1

Think of it as a public service. You're welcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Yeah, it's hot but it could be worse. If you are stationed in Baghdad, it's 113 degrees as we speak. One of my most miserable stints in the service was when I was assigned to a naval air station in Beeville, Texas. I worked on the flight line as plane captain of an F-11 fighter jet. South Texas is usually not as hot as Baghdad but when you added in the reflection of the sun's heat off the tarmac and the exhaust blast from the jets, it did get a tad warm. One big difference, I wasn't being shot at like our troops overseas.

I gotta tell you a quick story about my recently departed cousin Ron that flew A4 bombers in Vietnam. I asked him once what it was like to land that plane on the deck of a carrier at night. He thought for a moment and said "You're so puckered up they couldn't pull a needle out of your ass with a tractor."

Now that, my friends, is puckered.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings are nothing like Saturday mornings. Sundays are for laying back and chilling out. Some go to church but a lot of us just hang out in the living room or, if weather permits, the back porch, and read the Sunday paper or watch movies on the TV or read a good book. I fall in the latter category.

The Missus, on the other hand, and good Christian that she is, goes to a place of worship nearly every Sunday, hopefully to pray that my many sins are forgiven and I will not go to hell if I don't change my ways as she so frequently reminds me. I have resigned myself to take my chances on that. No, this little blog will not get into religion or politics. There are no winners in debates of either subject, only hard feelings, possibly losing friends along the way. I am reminded of a couple quotes by the columnist Dave Barry:

"People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them. "


"The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes."

Nuff said on that subject.