Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Saturday Morning Breakfast Dance

One of the great things I like about Saturdays is breakfast. For six other mornings, I choke down a variety of tasteless cereal or gooey oatmeal but Saturday is the big one.  That's when the Missus goes all out with eggs, bacon, and get this...hash brown potatoes. All topped off with home made toasted bread and a steaming hot cup of black coffee. As the good ol' boys say, "It jest don' git any better than that."

However, this tasty treat does not come without a price. It all started a number of years ago, I'm not sure when (old folks have trouble remembering you know) but it was after just such a gourmet meal that I performed a little dance to show my appreciation. I did a little side-step shuffle such as the vaudeville stage performers were famous for and with elbows swinging high and side to side and with a stupid grin plastered all over my silly looking face, I made up the following song:

Oh, it's a Saturday morning breakfast,
a Saturday morning breakfast,
The greatest little breakfast in the land.

A Saturday morning breakfast,
A Saturday morning breakfast,
Cooked especially for me by Ruth Ann.

This was followed with a flourish, one foot forward, stretched toward the audience, arms wide to welcome the applause. We both a good laugh over it.

But on the following Saturday the skillet was nowhere in sight. The eggs were lying there, cold and unbroken.  One lonesome potato sat on the counter, the skin intact. My first thought was that I had once again done something to offend the Missus, failing to pet a cat perhaps. That wasn't the problem.

"Where's my Saturday Morning Breakfast Dance?"
"The Dance, like you did last week. I want to see it again.  It's my price of cooking breakfast."

The encore performance was noticeably less enthusiastic but it got the job done.  However, a pattern was firmly in place.

Somehow, Saturday mornings aren't quite what they used to be.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Blue and Gray

Although it's hard to believe, yesterday I actually left the sanctity of the Man Cave, ignoring the college hoops on TV, and ventured westward to the town of Yale, Oklahoma. The Saturday Tulsa World had an article about a Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Round Mountain to take place at Jim Thorpe Park. If you have never seen one of these, they’re kind of a hoot. History buffs gather up in full costume of the period, Confederate and Union, and play out the battles with as much accuracy as possible. They set up campsites with amazing authenticity using canvas tents and even iron kettles for cooking. It’s a family hobby with these guys; as the wives and kids join in the fun with their own old timey clothes. I dressed up as a photo geek with two cameras hanging over me and strolled around the camp snapping pics of the soldiers. Everyone was quite cooperative in having their photo taken, especially the kids.

The battle itself started with the explosion of canon fire which scared the bejesus out of all the dogs that spectators had brought along. I think I lost what little hearing ability I have left. The reenactment on this day was not quite what you would see in the movies. The Rebels would advance along a line, kneel down, and fire off their powder filled rifles and muskets and then the Union boys would move up and do the same. I noticed that a lot of the fat boys out there were the first to be “killed” as they got to lie down and rest while the others continued with the skirmish. There was no hand-to-hand fighting except for a very brief encounter where two guys brandishing long sabers, dared to ride their horses into the opposing camp and wave their weapon around.

When the battle ended, I had shot a couple hundred photos, some of which you’re gonna have to look at in the coming days.

Oh, and about this blog. My number of “followers” has been stagnant for as long as I can remember. How am I to establish a cult without more followers? If you enjoy these ramblings, pass it on. Tell your friends and neighbors. Appreciate it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Bird Bath

The bird bath in the backyard has not been without its problems. I bought it a few years ago at a statuary place in Skiatook.  I liked the design; a faux wood with a cute little squirrel at the base. The first problem was from a raccoon (although it could have been a cat) when I found the bath lying on the ground one morning with a huge chip out of the base causing stability problems. A few well placed rocks helped to get it back in service.  But a few days ago, when the ice melted, I noticed that the bath no longer held water.  Well it did, but only for a day or so.  Then it was lug a bucket out there or unreel the garden hose. Obviously an unsuitable situation. The thing is made of cement you see, and apparently the years of cold weather and the recent 6 below had taken its toll.
I wasn't all that upset as the bird bath had some inherent design flaws.  It was too deep for the little birds; chickadees, wrens, and such but the blue jays and cardinals loved it. Then, during hot weather, the Oklahoma wind and heat sucked the water out of it at the rate of about a gallon a day requiring constant maintenance.  It was time for a change.

The idea was to come up with a suitable spa for the birds that did not require a bucket or a hose, in other words flowing water.  Now I've had a little waterfall fixture back there for quite some time; nothing fancy mind you, just some rocks piled up with a pump and a piece of tubing.  What I had in mind was to create a flat area, with varying depths, suitable for the different species of birds. This proved to be beyond my skill levels.  Try as I might, I couldn't figure out do it and keep the water level where I wanted it and at the same time, contain said water in the intended area without flooding Osage County.  My best idea, theoretically, was to make a mold from whatever and with a bag of instant cement, make my own basin. But then there was the matter of the spillway, how to control that. It was all sooo much trouble.

It was then that I remembered that my friend Bill had given me a piece of pond liner from his water project (his looks great) and used that as my starting point. Much to my surprise, it was none other than the Missus who came up with the idea of using the old bird bath basin as part of the new design. A few well placed rocks and some gravel provided the variance in depth. Turns out, all I had to do was chip out a portion of the concrete on the old bath and I had my spillway. Didn't matter that it leaked a little, the liner would catch it and divert it down the waterfall.

A half day of back breaking labor and voila, a free flowing birdbath.  I brought the Missus outside to admire my work.

"Nice," she said. "The cats will love it.  Now they only have to jump half as high to get a bird."

I"m bringing in the bulldozer tomorrow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Revenge of the Chickens

Headline: DELANO — A California man attending a cockfight has died after being stabbed in the leg by a bird that had a knife attached to its own limb.

Finally, after millions, no billions, of chickens have sacrificed their lives to feed us fat people, one poor chicken gets in a lucky shot for the chicken kingdom of the world. "Take that you bastard. That's from all of us!" I suppose one should not make light of some poor soul losing his life in a freak accident, but hey, he was at a cockfighting event, one of the most cruel "sports" ever invented by the many twisted minds of humanity.

  Cockfighting was legal in Oklahoma until 2002 when a vote by the people outlawed the practice, but only by 56% of the voters. I guess that means 44% enjoyed seeing animals, outfitted with knives on their legs, slash each other to ribbons. "Hey Bubba, did you see how far the blood flew from that old Red Rooster there? Hand me another beer." Yeah, that's great Saturday night entertainment all right.

Proponents of cockfighting fought long and hard against the bill.  Some of the reasons cited was that the ban was too vague, would confiscate cockfighters' property without compensating them, and that the ban would have a negative impact on the state's economy.  I suppose the same could be said for growing marijuana or constructing meth labs. I still remember an interview with one old man who was practically in tears when the law was passed. "My whole family was cockfighters and I raised my grandson to be a cockfigher. Now that tradition will be lost forever." Yeah, and maybe your grandson won't grow up to be a serial killer either.

Yet, in a strange sort of way, my own mother was a cockfighter, well, actually a hen fighter as in hand to hen combat. Now this was back on the farm you understand, in the days before electricity and indoor bathrooms. (yes, damn it, I'm old enough to remember those things). When mom wanted chicken for dinner, there was no such thing as driving over to Charlie's Chicken and picking up a load of drumsticks. Instead, I was handed a wire coat hanger with one end bent into the shape of a hook. This device was logically known as a chicken catcher.  After catching the chicken, and this was pretty easy as chickens are notoriously dumb, my mom would take the hen and with a couple whacks from a sharp knife, CUT THE CHICKEN'S HEAD OFF!


It was the familiar phrase running around like a chicken without a head  but this was up close and personal and in living color. A scene to make a life long impression on young minds let me tell you. Then came the pan of scalding hot water for feather plucking. Oh, the smell.  Finally, the dismemberment, followed by throwing the poor fowl into a skillet of hot lard. It was years later when it hit me,  my mother was a chicken sadist. The cooking was only an excuse, a facade for her  hidden blood lust, using helpless animals to satisfy her dark, uncontrollable urges.

Thing is, that fried chicken was soooo damn good and I'm so grateful that none of those hens were wearing sharp knives on their legs.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Strangers in the Night

The doorbell rang at 9:30 last night.  Unusual at my house any time of year but with waist high snow drifts on my front porch and  an outside temperature of 17 degrees, the ding-dong was a little scary.  All the cats went on full alert and scrambled for a dark place to hide.  This can't be good I think. I cautiously crack open the front door to see four men standing in my yard in deep snow.  All are wearing coveralls with a camouflage pattern. What the hell is this? A raiding party going from house to house, raping and plundering, stealing food and ammo? C'mon, we've only been snowed in for what, two days?  Is the situation that desperate already?

"Shovel your drive Mister?" the youngest and most innocent looking of the bunch asked.

The men weren't carrying any guns that I could see but they weren't carrying any shovels either. I thought of calling 911 but knowing the cops couldn't get to my house anyway, I played along.

"How much? I ask.

The young hoodlum gave me a price, an outrageous price I might add, but one that I had to consider. My driveway from street to garage is probably forty-five, maybe fifty feet long  and steep.  I can usually get down it in most conditions, no problem, it's the getting back up that's the bitch. Then there was the matter of my poor old aching back.  And the heart attack factor, don't forget that. 

I countered with a lower price and we met in the middle. The men vanished into the darkness only to reappear minutes later with two all terrain vehicles--perfectly suited to elude police by charging through thick woods--but these had snow blades mounted on the back. Fifteen minutes later no mo snow.

Thanks to these enterprising young men, it is now possible to take my vehicle to the end of the driveway and back.  The street, you see, is still ass deep in white stuff.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yes, it's another snow story.

Did I mention that I LOVE being retired? Back in the day, and after a snow storm, I had to get to work at good old Southwestern Bell and once there, brave the elements to do various telephone related repair jobs.  But no more. Those days are past.  Did I mention I HATE snow? Why I live in Oklahoma still puzzles me.

When the storm that blew through here yesterday dropped around 14" of that white junk, I was fully prepared with  food, shelter, and booze;  ready to watch TV and play with Photoshop until spring if need be. Retirement and being old  has its advantages you know. The temperature dropped to 5 degrees last night and that's cold for Oklahoma so I don't what to hear from you northern guys about your 40 below weather, okay?  The day started as usual with my morning visit to the throne but there was a problem, the toilet tank did not refill. Uh oh. Tried the water in the sink, nary a drip. Another uh oh.

This has happened before with no ill effects but  with the forecast of an eight below zero night looming ahead such as we have now, things are getting dicey. Now we're talking about pipes breaking and if warm weather ever returns, water spewing behind the walls and into the house. Thinking I should be prepared to shut the water off in the event of a rupture, I went out this morning and dug through a drift of a couple feet until I found the cover for the water meter and the shut off valve below.  The location being good to know if you're watching TV in the living room and your feet suddenly feel cold and wet. 

Thing is, the house has a slab floor with most of the plumbing inside the slab so there shouldn't be a problem. Did I mention I HATE my home builder even more than I HATE snow?

Once it warms up, I'm sure I will have to deal with the dreaded sight of another plumber's ass crack but who you gonna call?