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 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,

Jennifer fires right back with the following and I quote:

If you would like a map, please send you mailing address to

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

 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.


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.