Thursday, January 31, 2008

My parent's new TV.

Now before I start, I know that there's some of you that have already heard/read this story elsewhere... so just read it again and like it while all the rest read it for the first time. The reason that I'm telling this again at all is... there's a new turn of events because of it. So, it's lengthy, but if you've got aging parents I think you'll enjoy it.

This whole thing took place a few days before Christmas 07.


My folk's watch a lot of television and had, until a few days before Christmas, a giant of a television. About 7 or 8 years ago Dad bought a monstrous rear projection television, the complete focal point of their living room, mind you it's a huge living room, but still. We used to joke that if they'd just turn the thing around we could see what they were watching from our house. We live 10 miles south of them. Anyway about a couple months ago Sally and I were over there and the picture was all hinky on their TV.

Me: "What's wrong with your television?"

Mom: "Nothing, why?"

Dad: (A little panicked) "What do you mean what's wrong with the television?"

Sally: "It's got double images that are blue"

Mom: "I don't see anything wrong"

Dad: (on the edge of his recliner now)"I think I see 'em."

Mom: "What are you all talking about?"

Me: "Your picture is all screwy, everything is in doubles only blue"

Dad: "It's gone now"

Sally: "No it's not."

And so on and so on... this continued until I said "I'm wrong, it looks good to me" and then I'm sure we talked about medicine or gas prices or how to cook deer meat. (which my Dad can go on about for like a half hour at a time, complete with hand gestures of applying salt, pepper and turning the meat in the skillet.)

The next Thursday morning the phone rings at the crack of dawn.

Dad "You need to come up here this morning, I want you to look at the television."

Me "Okay... it'll be a little later this afternoon"

Dad "What time?" (cause he wants it nailed down to an exact time so as not to interfere with one of his naps)

Me "When you see me"

So I go up later on and Dad leads me to the TV..... 'cause I can't find that monstrosity by myself, they move it around all the dang time just to surprise me when I come over.

I mess around with the thing for awhile trying to decide what's haywire. I ask Mom if she's got a pre-recorded Video somewhere in the mess.

Mom "What do you mean pre-recorded?"

Me "Like store bought, Mom. A tape with a movie already on it"

Mom "I haven't got a clue"

Me "Who would? Is there someone I could call?"

NOTE: Sarcasm flows heavily in my family

Mom toddles over to the bookcase by the TV and pulls out a VHS of First Knight and hands it to me.

Mom "I have no clue where this came from... I've never watched it. It's just always been there."

Me "We got it for you for Christmas once."

Mom "Oh, maybe I'll watch it someday"

Me "Now?"

Mom "No."

So I put the tape in and that eliminated the last thing.

Me "Okay guys, your TV is shot. Time for a new one"

Dad "What'll you give me for the old one?

Me "I wouldn't give you 2 cents for it."

Dad "I paid $2300 for that television"

Me "I bought a new truck in '78 for $7200. The Price is Right is over."

The next things that happened add to the entertainment of that day. My Dad wants me to look at one of the heaters (they have baseboard electric heat in their home) in the living room. I pull the cover off and check it with a meter. It's junk and needs replaced. Dad cusses and says... "Okay I want you to look at the woodstove in the basement and see what's wrong with it" I look at it and it's all juiced up with creosote. I tell Dad that he bought the real wrong wood stove for the way he likes to use em, he likes to have little 2 hour fires and nothing ever really gets hot. Dad cusses some more says "Well that one's for sale, I'll take $600 for it and I just paid $1300 for it last year" Then he says "The carbon monoxide detector needs a battery in it cause it's going Beep (long pause) Beep (long pause) Beep. I tell him to go get a new one cause it ain't got a battery, the module is going dead in it. Dad cusses some more.

Dad "You need to go back home now"

Me "You're the one that wanted me to come up here and look at your stuff"

Dad "I know, but all my stuff is broken and all you're doing is telling me it's broken"

Me "Sorry. I didn't break it. Maybe Mom did it."

Dad "Go get me a new TV, I'll pay you for it. Just get the biggest one."

Me "10-4!"

I love shopping for expensive things on other peoples money.

Fast forward to me dragging in a 47" Phillips flat screen monster TV. I get the thing all set up and trying to hook up the ultimate in technology to an antiquated VCR, satelite and misc other TV crapola, and having just one hell of a time getting it all figured out. Meanwhile this is going on behind me.

Dad (in his recliner with 3 remote controls on his lap waiting for new TV glory to come) "Okay so this new remote is blah blah blah and the old one done this like blah blah blah and I don't know what this one is for. Shirley, do you know what blah blah blah?"

Mom (who is laying on the couch watching me and carrying on her own conversation) "Jace blah blah blah and blah blah blah and Christmas and blah and television and blah blah blah and VCR and my program blah blah blah"

Me (disparately trying to think)" Mom, you need to be quiet for a little bit"

Mom "Well, when can I talk again?"

Me "When you see me put my coat back on to leave"

Dad "SEE SHIRLEY? I told you so"

I don't know what that meant but it cracked me up.

Mom "I want to talk now"

Me (just staring at the television but not really seeing it at this point)

It was then that God pushed a button on the remote control I had in my hand and the VCR came to life on the television.

Dad "I'll be damned! There comes another snowstorm out of the west for tonite!"

Mom "I'm tired of snow"

Me "Dad, Mom... that's the weather that you taped for some reason the other nite. It's playing on the VCR."

Mom "Giggles"

Dad "Well I was gonna say......"

In the end, their new TV works, they can make it do what it's supposed to do and currently there's not another damned snow coming out of the west.

Oh and they made me Oatmeal Raisin cookies too!


More to come later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Things you'll see in a single guy's house.

We've got a friend, single divorced for quite awhile, so he's pretty settled into "being a guy" and doing things how he likes to do 'em. Biff (not his real name)(LOL) came by the other evening and visited with Sal and I for awhile and it reminded me of a Biff occurrence a couple years ago. (there are many. MANY.)

Now keep in mind that I owned a gunshop for 18 years and had a fairly large custom ammo business along with it... meaning I've seen a whole lotta things concerning guns and stuff and etc. So I'm pretty hardened to all things that are about guns, shooting, and all that.

Anyhow, couple of years ago I stopped by Biff's house, just to shoot the breeze a little while I was in the neighborhood. Biff's place is kinda like walking into a time warp, you could describe his decorating style as 1969 Brady Bunch Commando. Kinda weird, kinda cool. In all honesty, the place is just like it was when he acquired it, he just didn't see any need to go to a bunch of trouble redecorating.

In the course of my visit I needed to use the bathroom, so I strolled down the hallway to the guest bath and flip on the light and there is a rifle set up on the vanity. I stood there for a minute letting it all soak in, take care of business and then just sorta stand there for a couple more minutes. It was a curious sight.

I walk outta the bathroom and back in the living room.

Me: Biff, there's an FN FAL rifle sitting on your bathroom vanity.

Biff: Yes

Me: How come?

Biff: I was working on the front sight

Me: In the bathroom?

Biff: Yeah, the lights in there are really bright.

Me: Nice gun.

Biff: Thanks man.

Me: Looks pretty dang cool in there like that.

Biff: It's just temporary.

Me: Cool. Biff, I'm getting my camera.

Biff: Again?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ahhhh Summertime.

This morning it started out in the low 60's, right now on my weather station it's 21* BELOW zero with wind chill. Sheesh! "Global Warming" my butt.

So for anyone freezing half to death tonite, I'll relate a story from when I was about 16 and it was a nice hot summer, Missouri day... and we'll see if we can get your mind offa that teeth chattering thing that's happening with you.

As a young man I abused myself fairly badly with a variety of motorcycles and with those motorcycles the accidents that go along with them when you're young, stupid and bulletproof.

On this particular day I was riding along happily on a two lane blacktop road near where I lived. The sun was shining, it was most likely in July or August... I don't remember that part. Probably all the brain damage.

As I rode along thinking about nothing in particular, I noticed that I was gonna be going by the Bentley Girls house. Now the Bentley girls, 2 sisters, were some quite fine specimens of lovely teenage ladies and this day.... this day I was in luck. As I approached their house, low and behold, there were the Bentley girls out in the driveway, washing their mothers car... in bikinis.

"Dear Lord, thank you for this moment in my young adolescent life and please make me look cool on this motorcycle. Amen"

I sorta laid into the throttle a bit, adjusted my posture, turned my head towards them and gave the most laid back, non committal, but oh so cool wave that a hormone driven young man can give. They both stopped what they were doing and waved exuberantly to me and watched as I rode by.


It was at this point that I turned my head back around and saw the curve in the road that I was already halfway into. I very probably muttered something to myself such as "oh heck" or "darn".

Let me describe this curve to you. It was a sharp curve, probably about 40 mph in a car and it was banked fairly steeply, like you'll see on Missouri back roads. Halfway thru this curve there was a gravel road that T'd into it. What this left, between the curve and the gravel road was a fairly large area, the shape of a triangle that was grassy. The drop off the steep curve to this grassy area was probably 15 feet or there abouts.

There was no way to get that fast moving bike around that curve and instead of laying it down I made the split second decision to launch it off the curve. Yes I did.

As I soared through the sky like a Dove or a carefree little Sparrow , seemingly gaining altitude with each passing second, several things went through my mind. First and foremost was "This one is really gonna hurt when I land." Second "The Bentley girls are watching this from their driveway... not cool." And third, I think I saw my deceased Grandma walking through the clouds of Heaven, as I sailed ever so high into the sky, with her hands on her hips and shaking her head at me as if to say "You're in trouble this time Mister!". The whole slow motion thing had set in, and I was up there watching the Earth pass below me in a surreal fashion, just sitting on the seat of my motorcycle like I had good sense.

And then, the Earth started closing in. I leaned back on the seat, tugging at the handle bars and then a miracle happened. A thing that very rarely happened to me when I was in a situation like this. I nailed a picture perfect landing. Perfect. Now I hit hard 'cause motorcycle suspensions were not what they are today way back then. But it was perfect.

As I was riding the rest of the way across the grassy triangle to the gravel road, I had time to once again reflect on things and the thing that I reflected on mostly was. "THAT HAD TO LOOK SO FREAKIN' COOL TO THE BENTLEY GIRLS!" I thought about turning around and going back up to their house just to chat with 'em and give them the chance to tell me how cool it was and all and then my Grandma thumped me.

See... there was this steel culvert that passed under that gravel road that protruded into the grassy triangle and it was totally obscured by... grass. I squared the end of that culvert with the front wheel of the bike and like a big ol hunk of meat flipped on the grill... I just flopped upside down in the middle of that gravel road, motorcycle on top of me.

Now this is the point where it just wasn't such a cool thing anymore and as briskly as I could I got up, checked for arterial bleeding, picked up the bike, started it, and rode off with about a 30 degree twist to the front forks and handle bars.

To this day, I don't know if the Bentley girls saw the whole thing. I doubt if they knew it was me, I had a helmet on... maybe they did, I dunno. Nothing was ever said if they did know it.

I Don't know where those girls are today, but I can still see them washing that car on that summer day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Prosperity is just around the corner!

If y'all remember back here at this post my friend Gary and I we're looking forward to being on our way to being millionaires. Today... we're $233.65 closer to that goal!

Yesterday afternoon Gary and I stumbled around in the brush and weeds and trees, chainsaw in hand, at the wheel of the tractor, good intentions in our hearts, a song on our lips and beer in the truck. The object of our attention and wanton desire, you ask? A half buried, tree surrounded, mouse infested, rotten tired John Deere pull type combine.

It was love at first sight.

This piece of Americana was soon to be our trial run (and hopefully not simultaneously, our swan song) into our foray of becoming Junkyard Millionaires. 2 hours of flailing away at trees, yanking it outta the woods, bouncing it offa small trees, spinning alternate tractor tires on semi frozen Missouri clay, while Gary cheered me on, chainsaw in one hand raised beer in the other. It was beautiful man. Beeee you tiful.

We got it up to the road, pulled out the acetylene torch, hacked it in half in about 10 minutes, flipped it upside down and loaded her up on the newly aquired 16 foot tandem axle trailer. Good Lord it was magnificent.

Just look at it. Makes you kinda misty don't it?

We proudly pulled this combine to the recycling place to sit in a line of other junkyard millionaires....... 3 city blocks long. We were just a little amazed at this. And yes... $233.65 is what she brought. How do they pay you for a load of fineness such as this you ask? With green cash. Deniro. Moola. Franklins. Yesiree Bob, that don't require 2 ID's and your mom's signature.

We're on our way. Wednesday will be our next load. Yeeeee Haaaaawwwwww.

On another note, our dear friend Judy L. sent me an email tonite which simply asked "Jace can I borrow your picture for my blog?" Now Miss Judy's little blog is read pretty far and wide by a fairly large following of quilters... and I was a bit curious as to why gracing her very nice blog with my photograph would enhance things for her. LOL

As they say... "Hoo boy!"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pete... It was our honor.

In one of those bizarre twists of life that blind side you and turn you inside out... we lost 2 pets in as many days. We're still reeling from the shock of it all and the quietness that our "children all grown, empty nest" lives have suddenly been struck with.

This is about Pete, a Border Collie of such impeccable standing, his presence would have been welcomed anywhere. He never met a stranger that he couldn't creep into their heart in the span of mere minutes. His ice breaker was to bring the new person that came into our yard a stick, lay it at their feet and give it the Border Collie stare at it until he willed them to toss it for him so that he could return it. It was his pleasure to give people this joy... people that he didn't even know, but I guarantee no one forgot Pete once they met him.

Pete came into my life in 1998 when Sally and the kids moved to Missouri and Sal and I started dating. The first time I met him was a repeat of the scene that I described above. He had made a couple of moves with Sal, but was still a young dog and so full of life... you just wanted him with you at all times so that you could watch him. The kids nickname for him was "Hockeydog" from the time that he was with them in MI, he'd be with them on frozen ponds and played Hockey with them for hours, until he decided that it was time to go home. He'd just pick up the puck and go to the house. Game over. Pete wins.

He loved to ride in the truck with me, but not in the back, he rode in the front seat, sitting up like a person watching the world go by him, hoping to see another dog in a yard or a rabbit make a hasty retreat out of the road, he had eyes like an eagle and reflexes fast as lightning.

His biggest joy, like most Border Collies was to be able to herd something... anything, it didn't matter to him. He'd move the sheep around, up at the farm he'd get around the cattle and put them where they needed to be. He'd herd the cats around the yard, we had chickens for several years and he'd herd those stupid chickens out of the barn and back in and back out, just to herd them. No other reason.

Once when I bought 3 new Angus bulls, it took Pete a solid week to "whip" one of them. A good Border Collie doesn't bite an animal it wants to herd unless they, as a last resort, need a nip. Pete in typical BC fashion would go into his crouch, his hunker... and lock eyes with the other animal until he would make them so uncomfortable with his stare, they'd do what he wanted. 2 of those bulls fell for his bluff right away and did his bidding, the third it was a battle. I have a picture that I can't locate of Pete, all 40 pounds of him, locked up nose to nose, literally touching, with an 1800 pound Angus bull, not the least bit fearful because he knew who the winner would be before he started. And after a week, he did win and bossed that bull wherever he wanted him to go.

Another time Pete went for a ride in my truck without me. I'd left it idling in the driveway to warm up, Pete had loaded up and was sitting in the passenger seat and didn't want to get out when I went back in the house to wait until it got warm. No sooner had I got back in the house than I looked out the window and there goes my truck, rolling backwards out the driveway, across the highway and into the gateway across the road where it hit the only thing that there was to hit for 40 acres, one lone osage orange fence post. I'll never forget the look on Pete's face through the windshield of the truck while he went for that ride. He looked rapidly side to side a few times then just sat and stared straight forward, until it crashed, with a disgusted "what the hell?" look on his face. Thinking about it right now gives me a smile.

This family has more smiles from that old dog than could ever be counted. You just smiled when you were with Petie.

The years were rough on him, he was an active dog. His hips were all but worn out from miles and miles of running... his teeth were broken and worn down like happens with farm dogs. His vision, once razor sharp was all but gone and the last few months he had a different look to him. His hearing was almost gone, only hearing the loudest of sounds... and he had cancer.

Pete went home to the Lord last night, I wrapped him in a quilt that Sally had done and buried him in the corner of the yard this morning.

Pete was a king among dogs... not just because he was ours, he was a king.

June 25 1995
January 25 2008

We'll see you later, boy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Governor Called At 11:59

So I mentioned a few days ago that I had a cow that was down, in the barn. A "down" cow is a cow that won't or can't get up... this one is a weird one, even for me.

One week ago today, I was feeding and I noticed an older cow limping in one front foot, so I pulled up beside her and Uncle Robert pulled up in his truck too. It was bitterly cold that morning and really, all I wanted to do was just get in where it was warm... but....

Robert: What do you think?

Me: I dunno. You notice her limping before today?

Robert: Nope. What now?

Me: (gritting my teeth) Let's take her to the barn.

So off we go, moving the old girl about 1/2 mile across the pasture and down the road to the barn. Now mind you, she's just not that bad, but I'm an old softy and I hate to see anything suffer if I can help it. About 20 minutes and a frozen face later, she's in the barn. Robert runs her down the back pen and back up the alley to the squeeze chute and I catch her.

She's in there and pretty good natured about the whole ordeal so far, I drop the kick panel on my side of the squeeze chute and pick up her foot and can't see a thing in the whole wide world of sports wrong with it. Nothing. It's swollen a little, but no cut, nothing stuck in it, nada. So, because I gotta do something for her, I clean her foot and squirt some Coppertox on it and give her a dose of LA-200... just because.

Now right here is where it goes all weird in Cowguy Land. I open up the headgate on the chute, she starts to step out, stumbles, falls and there she is. That's it. She won't/can't get up.

In all my years, and there's a lotta years, of working with cattle I have never seen anything like this before. Ever. She walks in, mostly healthy and falls out in paralysis. We mess around with her for quite a while and decide... to just let her stay there for awhile.

Day 2 is no different, she seems to enjoy having ground corn and hay and water brought to her. Her appetite is normal. She poops and pees like a cow should. No fever. No cough. No nuthin' that is abnormal other than she can't make her front legs work.

A call to the vet brings a "Huh?" response. That's comforting. The vet then says that something had to happen in the chute that caused swelling on her spinal cord. I've got no clue how that would've happened... but he says just to let her be and maybe if there's no damage other than some swelling somewhere, she'll get up in a day or two.

Let's just move on to today, it's been a week. We walk in the barn with the now usual routine of taking care of her needs and we're both standing there.... thinking the same thing. Sometimes life is a little harsh on the farm, but that's part of it.

I've cried over losing a cow before and probably will again before I'm done being a farmer.

Robert: So.....

Me: Yeah....

Robert: So....

Me: You know it's been a week now.

Robert: Yeah. I don't think she's gonna get up.

Me: Me neither. She's gotta be 'bout 10 years old by the looks of her mouth. I think it's time for her to go on home.

Robert: *nothing*

Me: I'll go to the truck and get my gun...

Folks, what happened next was nothing short of amazing. Before I had even turned to go to the truck..... she stood up.

Yes she did. Just like that.

She faltered around a bit and fell back down, but she stood up on her own and held it there for about 5 seconds.

I looked at Robert and he looked at me. We looked at the cow, we looked at each other. I said "I think that's the governor on the phone."

We'll see how it goes...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm Frozen

It was so miserable cold here today all I could think about is warm weather. Feeding the cows this morning just plain hurt. I was in such a funk about the cold I would've traded all the cold in Missouri for a roomful of horseflies... and horseflies make me crazy. I've never heard of anyone making a trade like that and I dunno if it's feasible, but by golly I'd have done it. If you know anyone that's got a lot of horseflies and plenty of heat, send 'em my way. I'll deal.

The thing with horseflies is they can land on you and you can't feel 'em. I have no clue how the hell they pull this off, the things are huge. And it's not just landing on me that bugs me, I could deal with that... it's the biting thing. They bite so hard you bleed, literally, they make you bleed. They'll even bite thru a shirt. I'd like to see a horsefly's mouth under a microscope 'cause I'd bet $3.50 they've got buck teeth, or vampire teeth or something.

Anyway, we get these things for about a month in late summer and they make it darn hard to work outside in the late afternoon for that month span. They'll also cause you to go just a little insane.

I ran across this video the other day. In the midst of insanity from the dang things, I caught a horsefly, then I made a little lasso for him, then I played "round 'em up." There's no sound so just hum the theme from Rawhide.

Thinking it over after all this, maybe I'd rather have the cold. Ask me tomorrow morning when I'm cold again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A blog of note!

My daughter just started blogging and seems to be off to a running start with her blog titled "Fud Or Something Like It". She's a helluva cook, "gifted" would be the correct term, and she's also somewhat gifted as a smart ass... and quite proud of it. I have no clue where she learned that from.

She's witty, has cute babies, cooks like crazy and I love her a lot. Give her a click and and she'll mail you a pie.

Watch Out For The Ones That Appear Dead...

Right now we've got a cow in the barn that defies all explanation as to what has happened to her, but she's on day 5 of getting special treatment and seems to be getting to the point of just enjoying it and has no interest in getting better. More on her later I'm sure.

But I was thinking about another cow that was sorta like this one a couple years ago and the miraculous recovery she made.

This old girl had pretty much gone south on us, been catching her in the squeeze chute every other day for the past 5 or 6 days and loadin' her up with antibiotics, and a couple times before that as well. Had her at the vet's once and he came out once, so we'd pretty much thrown a whole tub of money at her in hopes of a recovery or at the very least, to feel good about her death.

So this particular morning I ran up to the farm to give her another load of LA 200, and she'd sorta gone past the point of being nice about wanting to go into the chute, she'd developed some pretty doggone rude behavior, but in she went and I loaded her up with LA and let her out. So now, my Uncle Robert and I are standing in the big open door of the barn that is open to the front corral, and I said that it looks like a done deal and we might as well throw some dirt on her to get her used to the idea. And Robert is just standing there nodding in agreement, 'cause folks, it really does look like the genuine last round-up for this old girl.

So while we look at her from about 25 feet away and talk about her, this usually gentle cow drops her head, digs in and here she comes with "Today is your day to die farmer man" in her eye.

Totally taken by surprise by this attack I yell an abrupt pleasantry and pick a direction to run, which just happens to be the opposite direction that Robert picks. So in true 3 stooges fashion, we run into one another, face to face, stagger backwards a couple steps, and then we both go in the other opposite direction.

By the time I jump behind a gate I've broken out in a case of the giggles and then I look out in the corral and there's Robert. We had one of those weird December frosty fogs that morning and everything you touched was slicker than snot on a doorknob, even the gate that Robert chose to climb up... Robert would put one foot up on the gate, lifted the other foot to get up on it and the other one would slip off, leaving him to start all over again with these short little "hops". This happened like 4 times before he gave it up.

Mind you, the cow had lost all interest in killing human beings and was just standing there with as quizzical of a look on her face as a cow can get, trying to catch her breath from her sudden outburst.

And me, the ever faithful and polite nephew... I was completely useless because I could no longer see thru the tears from laughin my hind end off. hanging on to the top of that gate and just spinning his legs like some kinda crazy Roadrunner man.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cow Woes All Over The Stinkin' Place

So this morning I went to feed the cows as usual and the cows loved me like cows should for feeding them primo hay and unrolling it for 'em so they can gorge on it faster. I got back to the house on the Tractor Of Doom and Robert pulls in behind me. He'd went down and checked the cattle tank and had the grave announcement that the cows had got the tank outta it's area, knocked upside down and down the hill with the water just running out.

Great. This again. Did I mention how much I hate broken water things in cold weather? I did? It was 10* here this morning. Gah.

So I grab some stuff and we go over there and it's a mess. The poop/pee/water/ice pond is there again and I have no boots with me. So, we just turn around and I go the 10 miles back home, get my boots and some tools and head back up there. Not enough tools, and not the correct tools, but I bring some tools.

Back at Robert's place, I'm throwing stuff in the truck that I think I'll need to fix this mess and I notice a big ol honking weed burner (I dunno who that guy is in his pajamas burning up that dirt or whatever he's doing.)and I ask Robert if he's got a BBQ tank with some gas in it and he does. SCORE!

I gotta stop and tell you a little factoid. My uncle Robert holds the value of good tools way down here... 'bout ankle high. Any tools that he owns are the ones that I've bought for him, mostly out of despair of having nothing to work with at his place. The man is embarrassingly tooless.

So once again, as in this post I ask about "something to chop with like an ax"... 'cause I'd neglected to grab anything at our house... and midway thru that request I cringe because I know what the answer will be before I finish asking the question.

Robert: "You remember the other day when the wedge came out of the ax while you were chopping the crap and you flung the ax head way down the hill?"

Me: "yeah"

Robert: "Well... it's still missing the wedge"

Me: "So, it's like a stick?"

Robert: "Heh heh"

Me: "Anything else we can chop with?"

Robert: "I've got that Chopper 1 woodsplitting maul..."

Me: "The monstrosity with the broken handle sitting by the door in the barn?"

Robert: " Heh heh... yeah."

Uncle Robert FOUND this thing in the road once. And, I've heard the story about how he shoulda just left it laying there, but in a Jack Handy twisted self reply it's always "But hey! Free ax thing!"

Here's what this thing looks like when it's new. It's a horrible piece of equipment invented in some bizarre military experiment by a group of Chimps eating tabs of acid like they were Mentos. The one that belongs to Robert is worse. It's got half a handle, broken off all jagged like. Surefire tool to cause injury.

We get to the pee/poop/ice/water pool and I fire up the weedburner and twist it up on "magnum" and start cooking the pee/poop/ice/ so I can chop it up a little easier with the ol Chopper 1. *sigh* I turn this job over to Robert and wade out into the pool with about 2 inches of waterline below the tops of my boots. What a mess. Gah gah blech.

I'm working with the tank getting it back where it's supposed to be and getting it fastened in place and notice the waterlevel is going down. Ahh the weedburner is working and what a lovely aroma is coming from our little area... it'd make a possum faint. Seriously, it's pretty ghastly.

Anyway, we get the nastiness drained away again, the tank set in place and fastened down, the water reattached to the tank and thirsty cows, once again quenched. I get back home finally about 11:30 and throw every article of clothing I'm wearing in the washer, hit the shower and start the day again.

Shopping list* Ax and shovel.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Junkyard Millionaires

Okay, so me and my buddy Gary (you remember Gary from this post) decided, in some incomprehensible state of logic, that we needed to get rid of loads and loads of scrap iron and junk that has accumulated around our farms. And actually what is driving this plan is the fact that scrap steel has hit the unheard of, astronomical price of $150 per ton. There's a recycling place about 7 or 8 miles from my place here and our house sits on one of the routes to this joint and I see about 40 or 50 loads of scrap iron go by my house every single business day. That's a lot... and got me and Gary wondering what the heck. Well it's $150 bucks per ton of "what the heck" that's what the heck!

What further caused us to get to checking into it was the fact that when we started seeing junk go by the house here it was all real bad trailers and barely rolling trucks going by with this stuff. NOW it's brand new trailers with 2007 and 2008 trucks pulling 'em. Those guys are already millionaires... I'm sure of it.

So... today we went trailer shopping and Gary came home with a new to him, but 2 year old, tandem axle, 16' flatbed trailer. Yes, we're gonna be junkyard millionaires in no time flat. We're gonna be so dang rich and snooty we'll have to rent each others time just to have a friend. That's rich.

Actually Gary was wanting a trailer for his lawnmower and 4 wheeler, but you don't really need a tandem axle 16 footer for that. :-) But he got a deal so it's cool. (man logic)

We've still got some preparation to go into this endeavor, and to be honest I dunno quite how we're gonna work this whole new temporary occupation into our already pretty tightly filled days... but we'll figure it out. We're gonna be rich. Dirty filthy, scrap iron and aluminum rich.

Sal says "One or both of you guys are gonna get hurt for certain." Sheesh... More later I'm sure.

Sal snapped this pic today on our way up to the farm. We get lotsa bald eagles wintering here, and a few stay year 'round.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just a cow picture.

Just a picture tonight. I was flipping thru the zillions of pictures we have taken and have stored on many many CD's and the file name that Sal had given this one caused me to stop and take a look. I sat and looked at it for awhile and then noticed the cow to the right.... I sorta lost it for a minute. The file name? Class Clown

(click it)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hardware Store Week. Day 5

I'd like to subtitle this with "Things I've Seen In The Parking Lot". Almost everywhere Sal and I go, there's a camera handy, mostly because when we don't have a camera is when we see the best stuff! Here's a few things that I've seen in hardware/Lowes/HD/Lumber places, parking lots.

The first item is an old Chevy truck that I spotted in the Columbia, MO Lowes/Sams Club parking lot. Fact is, I spotted this thing from the highway, it looked so odd. The color seemed to just soak up all light that hit it and created it's own Black Hole, and when we got closer, the thing had texture. Seriously. The truck was "fuzzy", like a cheap Elvis painting. I dunno how the guy had achieved this look, but it was impressive. Well... to me anyhow, that's just the way I am.

Click the pics to make 'em bigger. ;-)

And you can get a good look at the velvety texture of this treasure at this angle. Nice wheel covers too!

Next is just an old Chevy truck that I watched pull into a Home Depot, an old guy rolled out of it and sauntered off to do his business. He left the window down and I took a look inside... 100 percent original, looked like it was a daily user and this was last summer. Kinda cool actually.

Next is a the car that I call the "things we don't touch" car. I spied this old Ford at a Lowes. Looking at how the other cars were parked around this beauty was humorous in itself, it was like it garnered it's own personal space, either through fear or respect. Eh, probably fear.

It'd had a real super nice paint roller paintjob at some point in time, but the owner must have been a very fast driver... 'cause it looks like the paint was just 'bout blown clean off of it. The Chevy truck hubcaps on opposite corners was a nice touch.

And through the dirty winshield of our truck... Earl Scheib, eat your heart out man.

And I've saved the best for last. Not because it's a beauty or anything like that, but because it defies any and all explanations that you can think of that might cause a scene like this to happen. Once again, in the Lowes parking lot in Columbia, MO.

I'll give you a guided tour. First it's a Ford Tempo that is so badly wrecked, I can't imagine that anyone would want to or try to resurrect it. Hell, most Tempos just weren't that great to begin with. (I apologize for that cheap shot you Tempo drivers) (sorta) The car was obviously launched onto that sorry excuse of a trailer by one of the Duke boys, in between takes with the General Lee. The trailer... I can't even begin. It's a horror show. But the thing that really catches your attention, as I'm sure you is that ginormous satellite antenna dish flung on top of the whole whorie mess and strapped on tight. I can't tell you how many times I wished I'd had the courage to walk over and look under the dish... just to see, but I wasn't packin' a gun that day, so I erred to better judgement.

Sheesh, enough talking huh?

Pretty freakin' cool huh? LOL

There's probably a reason why things like this seem to show up more in hardware store and lumber place parking lots, but I don't know what it is. Maybe they're everywhere and that's just where I notice 'em. I dunno..

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hardware Store Week. Day 4

Okay, I'm gonna have to whoop out the Way Back Machine on this one... had to be about 1978. It's not that it's all that remarkable of a story, it's just always stuck with me and gave me a little smile now and then.

Used to be a little hardware store in town that also sold auto parts, or vice versa, which ever way you wanna look at it. At any rate, they had both. Pretty cool little place... whole lot of testosterone leaking out from under the front door and stuff. Anyhow, I'm in there one morning, standing at the counter getting something or another with a few other guys doing the same. Couple of guys working behind the counter doing what they do.

The store had a graveled parking lot and when you parked you pulled the front of your car/truck up next to the side of the building. Anyway we're in there and an old Ford car comes sailing in the driveway in a cloud of dust and KABBAAAAMM! smacks right into the side of the building. I mean it really shook the crap out of the whole store, knocked some stuff off the wall on that side of the shop and about 10 guys hollered "Sonofab****!!" in unison.

Me, along with every other soul in there, including the 2 clerks walked out the front door to see what the hell had just taken place. The guy in the old Ford, backed away from the building, didn't appear to have done any visible damage to the wall, but had kinda mussed up his front bumper a touch. He gets outta the car, walks up to the front of it, rubs the bumper, rubs the wall, turns and walks towards all of us standing there with our mouths open, but no one saying a word.

He gets to us, we all kinda part, he walks thru the middle of the crowd and goes over to the parts counter and sits down on one of the stools there, like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

Don, the guy that managed the place walks back behind the counter and asks him what he needs. Still no mention of the guy running into the building.

The guy sits there for a few seconds and deadpans...

"Need a set of brakes for a 67 Galaxy 500."

Don was in mid-sip of his coffee and I can still to this day picture him spitting it all over the big grey cash register there on the counter.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hardware Store Week. Day 3

Good Lord it got cold here last nite, and supposed to be even colder the next 2 days... but then you didn't come here to read 'bout the weather huh.

Day 3 of Hardware Store week. Days 1 and 2 are here and here.

Now, onto this installment.

Several years ago I went into the Columbia, Missouri Home Depot store to pickup a whole house attic fan, a bunch of lumber and... to return a large spool of coax cable, that I didn't use any of. At the time you just left whatever you were returning at the checkout when you came in and they took care of your returns when you checked out. Now they've got the separate return counter. Anyway, I'm returning the coax and they do the credit and ring up my other stuff and I look at the receipt and they'd credited me $60 too much on the coax wire. I pointed this out to em and the clerk sent a handy pimple faced mouth breather in an orange vest, to go look to see if I was lying to em about it. (geesh)

Said mouth breather comes back and says, "No that's right." I said "No, you're wrong, go look again" The guy takes off, this time with his obvious, but slightly slower, twin brother. They come back in about 5 minutes with (insert a long "Uhhhh" before anything else is said) "We think something may be wrong with the bar code on the spool." To which I reply "you think?". So the clerk calls the manager over and now 4 people are trying to decide if I'm lying to em about them trying to give me too much money back, or if I've got brain damage, OR if in fact... something is screwed up with the bar code.

The manager, in a daring and breath taking move, makes a break for it from his own brain and declares "I think he's right, it should be $XXX.XX instead of $XXX.XX, we need to ring it up again.

Well hallelujah.

Okay... so everyone leaves now except me and the original clerk, whom I have discussed most everything on earth with in the past 20-25 minutes and just don't have anything more that I wanna discuss with em. But then, because the big orange box that he works for has trained him to ask, no matter what... he asks me, "Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

I said "Yeah, there is. How 'bout throwing me in a Home Depot cap?"

You'd have thought I asked for a date with his mom, his sister AND his grandma, from the look of utter disbelief that fell on his face.

He said "Those are only for Home Depot employees sir, they arent for sale" I said... "I didnt say I wanted to buy one, I thought you might just throw one in today." He said "No." My happy, pleasant, non-chalant, carefree, ever so patient and honest face.... fell.

I stood there for a bit, just letting it all soak into Lester punkinhead across the counter from me and then said, "You mean to tell me, I come in here to this store and spend close to $1000 dollars today, I THEN save you $60 bucks by pointing out your clerical error only to be ridiculed and made to feel like an idiot because of it, THEN I stand here for most of my life while you all hold court and decide that maybe I AM right.... and after all that you won't give me a $3 dollar ugly orange hat with this company's logo on it that i am willing to proudly wear and advertise for free for y'all? Is that what I'm understanding here?

The poor guy just stood there, probably wanting to just go home and have a couple of drinks and forget all about "coax wire guy", and finally he said very softly... "Yes sir, that's correct."

I told him he was doing a fine job for the company, took my stuff and left and never entered another Home Depot for about 3 years.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hardware Store Week. Day 2

So after the episode I had in Hardware Store Week Day 1, naturally other things happened, and I know you're just dying to know.

As I said, word spread pretty fast and I'd get smart aleck remarks about it from friends on the street and in town and not quite stiffled giggles. And then our friends and nearest neighbors, Dale and Linda came by one evening. Linda was obviously containing something within her that was just 'bout to make her bust and after a bit of chit chat she blurted out. "Jace, I've got you a little present." Well hell, If ever there were a man on earth that liked presents, it's me! I'm all about presents and the receiving of 'em and stuff.

With tightly pursed lips and eyes that were almost tearing up, Linda produced a little package, handed it to me and said simply "Here." I don't think I've ever seen anyone that was so proud of the gift that they'd chosen to give someone, as Linda was that evening. I opened the package and inside was something of a "homemade" gift set.

Yes, 3 of them. All individually packaged in baggies for easy, convenient carry. Linda even made sure that she included some instructions, 'cause if ever there was a man on God's green earth that needed instructions and guidance... by golly that'd be me.

And yes, that dear woman thought of everything and every situation that might arise. A moistened towelette pilfered from KFC. The smiling face of the dear old Colonel in this little kit just 'bout ruined me.

After a time, you sorta get used to these things happening to you. Sorta...

Stay tuned for Day 3 of Hardware Store Week!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Hardware Store Week. Day 1

With the nature of my business I spend a whole lotta time in hardware stores and the likes of Home Depot and Lowes as well. In the course of hanging out in these fine and not so fine establishments I've witnessed and been part of some pretty interesting things...and I'm just gonna dedicate this whole week to the revelations of some of these.

I seem to be able to ingrain myself in my community with stories that start with "Did you hear about Jace...." with some regularity. My feelings on that, "It's good to be regular". Keeps Grape Nuts and Milk of Magnesia in business and cousin, that's good enough for me! And with that, I'll stay on the same note and give you the one thats' asked about the most.

A couple of winters ago, Sal and I are in Columbia and I return some stuff to Home Depot once again and buy some other stuff and get the now obligatory 2 foot long receipts in duplicate and a sales receipt. We leave and go to Lowes.

We walk into Lowes and upon hitting the doors of the store I have a call to nature that falls into the category of "more than quite urgent". I do a trippy little half stride half scoot, sweaty speed walk, pause... and then tiptoe clench walk some more, to the far far far far corner of the store, where the restrooms are located, just in the nick of time, and do what I went there for.

I have never in my life seen, before or since what I saw in that stall at that moment. Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lechter could have been standing on either side of me, locked up in a kiss with one another and it wouldn't have frightened me as bad as what lay before me.

The huge double 10 pound rolls of toilet paper that should be there.... are not.

The first situation is over. A second situation has taken the lead and I'm unarmed as the case may be.

Back in the days of little rolls of TP in public restrooms, I always checked for a roll of paper before entering. Now in modern times nearly every public room in the country has 20 pounds of harsh TP hanging in the stall. Rolls so immense they hardly turn by just pulling on the paper, you have to reach up inside the dispenser to help 'em spin or you just get one sheet of paper at a time.

Now men have a code of silence in restrooms, we don't speak to one another for whatever reason, we don't socialize, gather, or hang out in the restroom... so asking someone else in there to hand me some toilet paper is 147% out of the question. So I sit there thinking... and remember the receipts from Home Depot that are wadded up in my hooded sweatshirt pocket.

I pull them out of my pocket and examine them and contemplate very carefully about what I'm about to do. If I remember correctly, I think I prayed over them as well.

I know that there is most assuredly some sort of deep anti-commercial meaning with how I used those receipts from Home Depot in a Lowes bathroom, but I don't think you'll find many sociologists that will spend a lot of their time doing a study on it.

If you really gotta know, yes... it got me to the next stall where there were 2 full 10 pound rolls of paper.

I became legend in my community in less than a week. Thank you Sally.

Here's to a great week! :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kansas City Today

Got up this morning and drove out to Kansas City and visited my daughter and son in law and had a great time. My son in law, Val had me reduced to tears with first a story about having to pay a cousin $50 for a goat because the cousin was broke... lol to another story about a schizophrenic family member that stole silverware and dishes wherever he ate to a faux suicide attempt by the same family member that went like this.

Val looked out the window and saw his Cousin Ernie (cause I can't remember his name and it doesn't matter anyhow) standing in the sun with his nose pinched tight with his fingers and his eyes closed. Val said he watched him for quite a while and finally went out there to see what the heck the poor man was doing.

Val: What are you doing man?

CE : I'm ending it all Val, I'm suffocating myself to death. I'll be dead soon.

So Val said he watched him for a bit, breathing through his mouth while he pinched his nose tightly.

Val: Ernie, you're doing it all wrong.

CE: No, I can feel it coming. I'm nearly dead.

Val said he then put his hand over Cousin Ernies mouth and held it there. Ernie stood there for a little bit, then tried to gasp a couple of times, his eyes opened wide and he jumped back and yelled at Val "Good God man, you're going to kill me!" and stomped off.

We went and ate lunch at a Mongolian Barbeque... Holy mackerel was that a blast. It's like a buffet of raw meat and vegetables and other stuff and you go 'round and gather up your fixin's. In the center of the restaurant is a huge round iron grill with about 8 chefs standing at it. You walk up, hand 'em your bowl of raw things, one of 'em throws it on the giant iron thing and they start whaling the tar out of your food with these cup shaped knife things. Whipping it all around and tossin' it and spanking the crap outta the giant iron thing with their knife things... all the time entertaining you with clever repartee in an effort to get you to stuff some bucks in the tip jars. The food was EXCELLENT!

Another thing, on the stretch of I-70 that I travel from Columbia, MO to Kansas City, you will never see a higher concentration of Adult Video, Porn Store, Live Nude Dancers, and "Novelty" (wink wink) advertising and places of business anywhere else in the midwest. It's amazing. I'd guess that at least every 6th or 7th billboard is for one of these joints and the number of stores is pretty incredible too.

I thought that surely someone has created a webpage or done something about it on the wide wide world of internet so I Googled it. When you Google something such as this, I gotta tell you that you're gonna get some funny results. Yesiree Bob. Wow.

I lost interest in it after a couple of hours.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Family Heirloom

I do furniture restoration and often times I have to create a piece of furniture out of a pile of crap that chickens have been roosting on and suddenly folks want this hunk of firewood in their home... where they eat. *gah* You know why? I'll tell you why, it's 'cause it's a rare family heirloom. It's true.

You would think that a family heirloom would be a wonderful something or another that great great granddad Ezekiel built from what was left over from the arrow ridden covered wagon after fighting Indians for 7 days out on the plains. Or maybe a cherished rocker that has been lovingly watched over for a 150 years by members of the family. Or even a whatsit that your mother got at an auction the first year her and your dad were married and though it wasn't much, she loved it her whole life. Well, you'd be correct. But there's another kind of heirloom.

Here's the scenario as I've seen it played out countless times, being in this business.

1963: Mom gets a brand new space age, chrome and red vinyl kitchenette dining set and promptly hauls the 3rd handed, nailed together and wired together table and chair set out to the smokehouse and literally hurls it all in the back corner with hatred. Every dress she owns has been snagged and torn nearly every time she sits down in one of the chairs. She hates it, but your Dad won't let her burn it. You are 5 years old and your biggest concern in life is "candy".

1969: The smokehouse is converted into a hen house because your Mom is tired of storebought eggs. The table and chairs are left in the "smokehouse", now new chicken house.

1985: Mom and Dad move to town but still have the farmhouse for when the kids come home and picnics and such.

1986: A storm comes through and blows the old maple tree down... right on the smokehouse/hen house... flattening it completely

2006: Mom and Dad are both gone now and you and your brother go out to the old farm and there's that old kitchen table and chair set just lying in the weather, half covered by the smashed chicken house, turning into a big ol pile of crap. You look at your brother and with teary eyes say. "Oh remember how much Mom loved that set that her and Daddy set up housekeeping with? We should take them to that furniture guy and get them "restored"."

VOILA! Heirloom. Just like that. Ba Da Bing.

I'm serious, I've seen this more dang times than I can count. Not word for word, but so close to the same events that it's predictable.

Let me show you an example. This cabinet (and I use that term loosely) came to me in this EXACT condition that you see.

I'm serious. That's it. If it were mine, I'd have burned it without a second thought. One side missing, bottom doors missing. Upper doors tore all to smithereens by trolls, no doubt. Some quite lovely brass grate jabbed in the doors. *gag* Bottom of the legs rotten, ever single glue joint completely trashed and glueless, and a partridge in a pear tree.

But it's an heirloom... and I'm the furniture guy.


Here's the non existent right side, now existing and re-invented thru the miracle of modern medicine and beer.

And after a lot of fabrication, all new doors built with glass in the uppers, a new side, a bottom, some shelves, rotten legs sawn off. All tinted and stained to look like wonderful aged cherry... and VOILA!

Momma/Daddy's favorite cabinet!

Some days I get to work on real furniture.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Embrace My Redneckness

The good Lord knows I love classic rock, and guns and swiggin' beer from a long neck while sitting on my endgate with a couple of buddies. Cheap cigars, a nice big fire and things that go fast rate real high too. You know why? 'Cause I'm a redneck. I can't help it, it's just what I am, partly because of where I live and partly because of my upbringing and the rest is just because I like it and I'm good at it.

This part of the world is literally swimming with rednecks, good ol' boys in the 3rd degree, and most of 'em are my friends, but every once in a while a line is crossed that even hard core folks here just sorta blink at and go "what the....".

A couple weeks ago I picked up the local bargain ad paper as I left the hardware store and came across this ad that went beyond breaking this boundary. It went through it with the front hubs locked in and killed 4 chickens, a possum and a mailbox in the process. I clipped it out, here tis, unedited except for the blacking out of the phone number.

Where oh where does one begin when picking apart a wonderful discovery such as this? Really... Is it the fact that this is 2008 and this gentleman is selling his 1976 model Chevy for, how much? $1750 American? Is it the fact that it has a "14 inch lift kit" but no brakes that make it go beyond the bounds of good redneck etiquette? Maybe it's because it's missing the hood and there's absolutely no mention of that whatsover, like that's a standard feature on this model. Maybe it's because it's dotted around the ad so you've got a little guide to run your scissors on when you clip it out (I know.. "I" did) and save it for when you're drunk enough to call the guy about it. I mean after all it DOES have Super Swampers, that right there sweetens this little deal right up, if you're into Super Swampers. The "Runs like a scolded dog" comment, now THAT is classic. I love that line, really helps me visualize just how good this beauty must run. A side note, I've added that line to my regular vocabulary just because it makes me laugh to even think it. I'm laughing right now.

The fact is, any one of these things would be acceptable by themselves, but put them all together and cousin, that just busts down that redneck acceptable barrier.

We've got standards you know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sheep 101

It's not often you'll find a cattleman that also has sheep, and if you do find one he usually vehemently denies it in public or the company of strangers. I'll just throw this morsel of personal information out there for you.

I have 3 sheep.

It's true. These 3 sheep have one purpose in life and that is to keep me from mowing about half the yard. They do a real good job of keeping it ate down with very little sheep maintenance on my part. Seriously... these 3 sheep get sheared a couple times a year and the rest of the time they just wander around eating and pooping and eating and pooping. It's like their lives are just so consumed with busyness that they can't take a break from eating to go over somewhere and poop... it's like watching a factory. Consumables in, some wallowing of mouth parts, take another bite, a swallow, a burp, some more swallowing, take another bite and then onto the conveyor belt inside of a sheep that hauls it all out the back end. I can't imagine how much more humans could get done on earth if we were as intense with our jobs as sheep are with eating. (and pooping)

So I started this post with "sheep 101", so I'm gonna give you everything that I've learned about sheep in 10 years of owning em. Here it is... ready?

Regardless of how advanced modern veterinary medicine is and how much money you have to spend on sick sheep, it's a moot point. From the moment you notice that a sheep is sick to the point that it dies is on average, 23 minutes. Sheep die. That's most of what I know for certain about sheep.

See the thing is, when I notice I've got a sick calf or a cow bloats up, I got some time to throw some hard earned money at it before it dies. AND it rarely dies, usually either me or the Vet can save it. Sheep? Not so much.

Here's our 2 white sheep (I'm sure there's some high falootin' breed name for 'em, but I refuse to own up to knowing it) the Psycho Sisters, Dummy and Stupid. That's Dummy on the left. They are both insane and dangerous.

And this is Ruby. Ruby is antique in the world of sheepdom, as near as we can figure she's 14 years old and is also a genius and a legend.

Okay back to sheep dieing. My classic dead sheep story is about a Buck (that's a boy sheep with the jewelry still attached, for you city folk) we had named Randy. He got named after he was here for awhile... the ol boy got around. Anyhow, one morning I left to go to the farm and when I got in the truck there was Randy standing at the orange gate just looking at me leave. 2 hours later I get back home and walk in the house and it went like this.

Sal: Randy's dead

Me: No he's not, I just saw him standing in front of the orange gate 2 hours ago.

Sal: Well, he's dead now.

Me: Where?

Sal: In the barn, he's just in there dead.

Me: You sure he's not just sleepin'?

Sal: *rolling her eyes* Yessss Jacccccceeee. He's a dead sheep.

So I go out to the barn and sure enough, there's ol' Randy, dead as dead can be. And that's the way it goes with sheep, kind of a weird thing. You got sheep they're either alive or dead, there's no in between.

I got one more picture of Ruby... this crazy ol' sheep thinks I'm 'bout it. I give her treats, leftover salad, cut up apples, jello, gum. She's my best buddy and gets it in her little pea brain that she's part dog. I'll let her out and after she get's thru gorging on yard grass she'll just follow me around like she's on a leash. Go figure. I got my best sweatshirt on for this pic.

If any of my cattle owning buddies saw this, it'd most likely be the end of any credibility that I have.


Monday, January 7, 2008

The Tower Is Up

Yesterday was the day we went over to my buddy Gary's place and planted his new TV tower. It was quite an experience with a few scary moments, lots of excitement and fun.

I'll back it up a bit. Gary is always looking for a "deal" and he found a humdinger with this tower, bought it used somewhere down around Kansas City. He got it home and then spent the better part of a month bouncing ideas off me about just how the heck to get it up in the air without killing any of us. With a pond immediately behind his house, putting it together on the ground and then pulling it up was out of the question. Finally he devised this plan to set up scaffolding and hang a block and tackle on it and we would pull it skyward 10 feet at a time with his pickup truck. At each 10 feet he would slide another section under it and bolt it up. We had it passing through a loose chain on the edge of the roof, that would steady it there, then we had 4 cables fastened to the very top. My son and I would hold these and keep the thing vertical (hopefully), and then they would be the guy wires when it was fully erected.

We did put together 3 sections on the ground and I started it up while Jake and Gary pulled it up from the rooftop. That's 30 feet with another 10 foot pipe on top of that, that can be slid up another 10 feet if need be. Here's the first section standing up. This is also when the wind kicked up with some 20-25 mph gusts giving us a few hairy moments.

And here's Gary's dog, Max with a worried look on his face. Dog's can sense things you know.

The catch phrase for the day for me and Jake was to quote Raymond's dad with loud and intermittent screamings of "HOLY CRAP!" Everytime we did it Gary would turn into a statue for about 3 seconds and then yell at us "WOULD YOU GUYS STOP THAT?!?!" Of course we didn't and kept it up for the entire adventure.

You gotta get your entertainment where you can find it, you know.

About 2 hours later, we had all 7 sections up and bolted down with the guy wires attached too. Not bad, eh?

We were all kinda in awe of just how insanely tall this thing is that we just stuck up in the sky... pretty ridiculous considering the Yaa Hoos that put it up. Gary's place is off the beaten path somewhat, his internet connection is dialup only and no chance of getting anything faster hardwired in 'cause all of his neighbors are Amish... and well, they don't have much need for internet and the phone company ain't too interested in being a non-profit organization. So, he concocted a deal with the local wireless interenet company to poke this giant tower up and they could put a signal repeater on it in exchange for free high speed service for Gary. They went for it. LOL

He's gonna put a good HD tv antenna up on it as well, 'cause he's far enough out in the sticks he doesnt get local programing. I think it's high enough.

I had a video of the whole thing, but that didnt' work out... but I've got one last picture. As we left their house, we took a picture from the main road. A giant tower that appears to just jut out of the trees.

Okay, I can add this to my resume!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Crud, TV Towers And An Outhouse. That's All

Got a touch of the crud here today, hit me yesterday evening and kept me up most of the night. We take a lot of Airborne and it does a real good job of keeping us healthy, but I lapsed on it a few days and got the snotty nose and cough and ucky feeling. So I've had it about 24 hours now and I'm ready for it to be gone. I'm real patient with the crud.

We got the Christmas decorations and lights all taken down off the house today, real warm all day long so it was the perfect day for doing this. I'd take days like today for the rest of winter, but that ain't gonna happen, we've got January to deal with.

Tomorrow after chores I'm helping my buddy Gary with putting up his new TV tower. He got a screaming deal on a (get this LOL) 85 foot tower. I think Sal is gonna be videoing this trainwreck. Neither one of us has done this before, so it oughta be good... we usually have fun.

Gary is the guy that needed an outhouse for his hunting camp. I'm the guy that owned an outhouse... a rare commodity in this day and age, indeed. Gary came over with his tractor and loaded the crapper on the back of his tractor. Meanwhile he spotted an old air compressor tank in my pile of goodies that he thought would make an excellent BBQ grill or something like that, at the camp as well. We threw that in the bucket of the loader on the tractor. Then we took pictures of him as he drove off with a backhouse strapped to the back of his tractor... 'cause, well... that's what friends do you know. This is one of the presentable pictures where he's not giving me the hand signal for "You're number one!".

Looking at this picture just makes me wish I had more outhouses to give away, the comedy potential is endless.

Welp, here's to high adventure and overwhelming entertainment tomorrow! :-)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ice And Cattle Tanks

Went up to the farm this morning to feed and check the cows, check the water tank... etc. We keep a huge rubber like stock tank behind the ponds on our place, a water line takes water off the bottom of the pond and it just runs all the time into the stock tank. The water coming off the bottom of the pond is nice and warm and with it running and all, it never freezes. Well, this morning it looked like there had been a whole lotta tequila drank around that watering tank by a bunch of surly and unruly cows. I don't know how it happened but the unbreakable, 5 year warrantied tank that was about 6 months old, had the whole dang end busted out of it and was doing a pretty lousy job of holding water. I really despise working on water things when it's cold out. It affects me....

Off to town to get a new tank at the Farm Store. The kid informs me that I've made an excellent choice, like he's my cow tank steward or something. He touts the virtues of it having a 5 year warranty and that they can take all kinds of abuse. I tell him that when I get that one set, I'm bringing one in that some cow ran another cows head through it in a bar fight.

As soon as the kid quits staring at me and stops the exagerated blinking of his eyes, we put the new tank in the back of the truck in silence and I head to the farm.

I wanna stop right here for a moment and ask y'all something that bothers me. I've got a decent sense of humor but it seems the older I get the more I get a fairly common response from younger folks. Tell 'em something funny and they stand there trying to decipher if I'm a senile old fart, an idiot or if it was something they should laugh at. If you ask Sal my wife, she'll say "yes" to all three, in reference to me... but she's biased. Do you people increasingly have to laugh at your own jokes just to make the joke work?

I thought so.

Okay, back to the story. My uncle drives his truck out there and we get the old tank pulled outta the hole and plunk the new one in there, refix the waterline to it and all's well for thirsty cows on January 4 2008.

Now around the water tank there's gravel, lots of gravel, like several truck loads spread out to keep it nice and solid for the cows to stand on while they're drinking. Unfortunately when it's this cold the outside edges of this area, ice starts to build and makes an ice dam all around that gets higher and higher and it starts to make a little pond of water, poop and pee around the tank. I know, you're thinking right now "Mmmmm mmmm!" Well, you'd be wrong 'cause it's pretty dang nasty.

I ask my uncle if he's got anything in the truck to dig with and he doesn't, so we head back to the house to get implements of dam destruction. I ask him if he's got an old axe laying around that I can chop some of the frozen ice dam away with, and a shovel. He produces what appears to a razor sharp double bit axe. I make sure that he wants me chopping the things I'm gonna be chopping with it and he says "Just use the worst edge". There is no worst edge, they both appear to be shaving sharp. Oh well... a poop chopping I go!

We get there and I head to the ice dam with the axe and make a couple worthy chops and then the next swing yields nothing but axe handle hitting the icy poopy pee water. I raise the thing up to eye level and examine the ax-less handle and for a split second wonder "what the...." and waaaaayyyyyy down the hill I hear "clang". I musta got a good 100 feet or more for distance on that axe head! Go me! My uncle says to me in infinite wisdom "wedge musta fell out". Why yes, I believe it has. Please shut the screen door on the submarine on your way out.

Anyway, the cows ended up with water today, the water poop pee pond got drained after some shovel flanging at it and all is well for the time being.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Well Son Of A Gun, It's 08

I'm amazed to the point of being breathless that we've blown thru 2007 like a political promise in the back of the local watering hole. What in heaven's name did we do with those 365 days that we were alloted? I'd like to proudly stand and state my name like at an AA meeting and proclaim that I spent my days wisely with goodness and mercy and lots of laboring and other stuff. Truth is, I used 'em up like a fat kid with 3 bucks in a candy store. Gone, with nothing much to show for it but a good sugar buzz.

But I enjoyed myself.

Had a couple of little hitches in 07 that I'm glad are behind and probably won't ever be forgotten, but shoot, that's life. Life ain't all Pop Tarts with an extra squeezer of frosting in the box, sometimes it's weird Aunt CeCe's lemonade and a pickle, and I for sure had some of that sugarless lemonade.

Oh well... I'd rather step in it than be it.

Anyway, had a great new years and the oldest grandaughter, being a January 1 baby, celebrated her 4th birthday this year. I'm "PaPa" and man do I ever love hearing that word come past those little girl's lips. I'd just 'bout buy her a train and the railroad to run it on just to hear her say it. Spoiled? No way! Spoiling a grandkid would mean doing crazy stuff like stickin' a lit candle in a silly birthday hat just so she could blow out PaPa's fire.

Okay, so they're a little spoiled... no need to make big deal out of it.

Changing direction just a bit, I gotta show you one of my favorite Christmas presents. This came late, New Years Eve to be exact, but still. My wife just loves a good post Christmas sale and shares some of the weird sense of humor that makes this house run. Evidently whatever store they were in, they had their "Christmas food items on a stick" marked way down to almost free and she needed to get this for me. Honest to God, I can't look at this thing without laughing my hind end off.

I'm calling him Smooshy The Special Snowman. No, I can't bear to eat him. :-)

Here's to a great year friends!