Recently we've been overrun with black beetles. Scores of them on the grass, driveways and porch. Even inside on the shop floor. Our mild winter spawned a plague of cut worms that made extra food for the beetles. What does the rest of the summer portend?
These have a curious habit; besides showing up in your sneaker before you put it on. They seem to simply give up on life, roll over and wave at the sky. The newspaper says they live two or three years. But when their time is up they're ready to go belly up. I tried gently rolling a couple of them back on their feet. But almost instantly they flopped over and resumed the death posture. It was like one or two of their legs grew too long and worked out of sync with the other legs to make them keel over constantly. But that's just a observation. I didn't get out the yard stick to measure.
They are starting to thin out now. Can't say I'm going to miss them. Even the birds won't eat the stinky things. They give rise to a blind eye observation or two. These black invaders remind me to keep both feet on the ground and not to paw the sky when laying on my back. A person sure doesn't want to get mistaken for something that invites everyone to stomp all over them.
"I think I can. I think I can. At any rate I'll make lots of smoke and noise." That's my Ford 8N tractor in action. I inherited it back in '94 from my dad who bought it used in the 1970's with the better part of 20 years on it at that time. This thing's been around the barn so many times the headlights point up and down. But still it runs. Yes, we converted it over to 12v from the original 6v system. And reworked the wires, plugs, distributor, capacitor, ignition, tires, radiator, brush hog, shoehorn, bedpan, etc... And I'm sure the transmission and power take off need a little attention. But who's keeping track of such details? Unfortunately, not me.
This beast gets hungry. It will devour garden hoses (with the brush hog blade -- a tangled mess), water spigots (a muddy mess) fence posts, and wire rope (a glancing blow, fortunately). Most every outing is marked by one of two eventualities -- blood and/or breakdown. So far these have been minor in scope but major in irritation.
At any rate, a good tractor is like a good yard dog; there when you need it and elsewhere when you're mad.
From 60 to 0 mph in much too little space. Thankfully, along with brake lights, the truck ahead was sending up tire generated smoke signals. It pays to be fluent in most of creation's turn-tale languages.
An empty nest fallen to the ground. Did it fill it's purpose or get cut off in the midst of duty? Where are the builders? Where are the occupants? The simplest things give cause for reflection. Last time I looked, that spot on the driveway was vacant and swept clean. Home is where adversity takes you.
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ”
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
I was looking at a T-ball game for 4 to 7 year olds last evening. However, I'm not sure what all I was seeing. There's the batter that swings all the way around in one or two circles with each attempt. We live on a round planet spinning like a top each day and circling the sun every year. Round and around we go -- all of us. Maybe he was just trying to straighten himself out.
Many of the runners assumed they had to slide into home base every time no matter where the ball was getting mishandled on the field. They hopped on to first base. They cruised past second and third, but they always slid into home. Seems there's more recognition when you leap up off the ground and jump around as your own personal cheer leader knocking the dirt off your pants.
There's something about the dirt that fascinates many. They stir it with their hand. They put it on top of their hat. They throw it in the wind for others to enjoy. The only thing missing in the dirt is the inconsequential location of the ball, batter and runner.
Day dreams. Sky, spectators and fellow teammates hold more interest than most anything happening on the field. Someone yells for a player to pay attention to the ball coming their way. The result? That player turns to look at the yeller while the ball or runner zooms past behind them.
The dug out has enough action to dig in several feet deeper. Helmets, bats and gloves have to vie for attention with snacks, water bottles and fence climbing. One little brother wandered into the dug out and came running out in tears. No one is quite sure what happened in that den of knees and elbows.
How 'bout those fans in the bleachers? There's mom with several other brothers and sisters who is never quite sure when her budding major leaguer is up for action. Refreshments at hand are far more interesting than plays on the field. One baby can hold the attention of two rows in front and behind. I guess you have to keep a scout's eye out for the up and coming players.
You can't miss the adults in charge. They're busy giving high fives, lining up the players, counting things and enforcing the rules. They have a special gift -- as do most of the other T-ball enthusiasts. That's the ability to look at everything that's there and to see primarily what should be there. Let's play ball!
It's not your usual name. Who would name their horse ''Bad Girl?'' Won't she believe she's always in trouble? Will she ever know when things go right? I would think Bad Girl is a candidate for psychotic horse of the year. She lives in the pasture just across the fence and likes to hang out nearby at the property line. I like horses, so I stop by often to say ''hi.'' Like a true bad girl she's good at ignoring me. So I started a subtle and persistent training program. The lesson: this man is not to be ignored.
We used to keep two equines on our untamed mesquite ranch, so I have a few sleeves up my trick.
First I tried outright bribery, but I discovered she doesn't like apples or carrots -- bad girl. When she came out of her shelter to stand in a corner near the fence line, I figured she was trying to be sociable. But when she always pointed her back side toward me I figured again -- bad girl. So I tried a little trick to get her attention. And that's when things went from bad to silly.
First I tried the blind spot bother. That's where you stand directly behind a horse so they can't see what you're doing -- comfortably out of hoof range. They'll automatically turn the head to see what's happening. Then you step aside slightly in the other direction so they still can't see you. More nervousness as they look around in the other direction. So you step aside again to the opposite direction to remain out of sight. Now the horse gets frustrated and turns around to see what you're up to. At this point, Bad Girl walked up to the fence and let me scratch her ears, begrudgingly.
Now I don't profess to know much about women. I've just been married to the same lady for over 40 years so my exposure is somewhat limited. But I think you can learn some good lessons from a horse named Bad Girl. Next time I approached this four footed female, I stepped back into the rear view blind spot. Nothing. No reaction. So I reached down and rattled the barbed wire fence. That got her attention. Once again she turned around and let me pet her. I simply had to up the ante. Same thing for the next encounter. No reaction from the blind spot and the fence rattle. These had become too predictable. So she just ignored me. Now what? In the dust at my feet were some small pebbles. I picked one up and lobbed it onto Bad Girl's rump. Jolt, turn around, scratch time. I saw the pattern here, small escalations were needed every visit.
Now what would it take for the next encounter? This time I picked up two pebbles. And instead of lobbing one on her rump again when she ignored me, I rattled them together in my hand. Uh, oh, something new. This noise got her attention and she turned around and sniffed my hand for clues. You can tell a lot about a person (or critter) by the company they keep. Me with a self centered ''Bad Girl'' and she with someone she prefers to ignore.
Next visit she acknowledged the pebble rattle with a mere skin twitch. Most visits end with her ignoring me. I usually get a simple head turn, tale swish, or ear twist. You have to learn to live with less. But the pebble rattle still raises her anxiety.
I really don't want my relationship to Bad Girl to be based on irritation and hostility. That's a sure invitation for frustration. I'd rather she come up voluntarily for a scratch on the ears rather than turn and run or worse yet attack. In short, I want this bad girl to feel good about me. ''Come here and let me scratch your ears. Scratch, scratch, scratch,'' is a dialog I use to appeal to her willing generosity as I hold my hand and wiggle my fingers -- this in association with using the words, ''scratch, scratch'' every time she does choose to come up and let me scratch her head. Positive, meaningful association during a fun thing coupled with positive, meaningful association when I call her -- the two are beginning to work together better than escalating botheration.
In all of this the big question is how much translates into practical advice? I'm not entirely sure. Sometimes the more you talk, the less you say. The more you do, the less you accomplish. But I'm not left without hope. I plan to inquire further with the lead scout of the Male Search Party for Female Logic. That's sure to have all the goods on a bad girl.
# # #
PS -- This report is now past history. I sure wish I had gotten a picture of Bad Girl before her owner sought greener pastures elsewhere (without even letting me say good-bye which could have taken weeks the way the two of us communicated). The miniature pony above is the latest tenant to arrive unannounced with two other buddies. He already took an apple bit from my hand. Stay tuned for future life affirming observations.
When it's time to celebrate your promotion to a lower station, you'll want to find a truly festive wake. Listen for the silent echos and maintain your reckless caution. As they have yet to say in Latin, Tempus forgetaboutit.
...on your side of the fence. This year the grass is cutting teeth (without a smile). Last year drought, this year deluge. It's like each grass blade is a Sequoia tree on steroids. My walk behind mower knows it's a suicide season. Its motor knocks like a team of bill collectors on straight commission. My brush hog knows it's a lost cause. Its tractor is as dead as roadkill. I won't say I'm dreading the mowing job, but a backward colonoscopy might be more inviting. The small patches I tackled first are already on a third cutting. Might as well row down the south Atlantic ocean and across the Amazon river in a bath tub toy boat. Sure a fresh cut lawn is a sign of civilization. But this year I may have to settle for urban jungle. Looks like there's no escaping the inevitable. What's grown will cause me to groan. Nature is great. But right now, the only good grass blade is the one underneath my mower blade.
Few relationships are filled with such tranquil pandemonium. One partner is looking for a smooth road, while the other is blind to the potholes. Remember your uncapped limitations and always give of your best contrived reality. Love is a co-singularity wrought in a fair weather frenzy. I used to remain lost in discovery, but gradually learned to appreciate sunrise at dusk. No relationship can long endure as a revolving door stop, but a successful marriage is always held to a higher sub-standard.
You really need a blind eye observer to make full use of a friend. Who else is going to be there when life runs away like a self propelled walker? Friends help you stay fired up and think outside the matchbox. When a true friend calls, abandon the deserted crowd and step out into the protective shadows of the wind. And remember, your best friends often come from the Unified Brotherhood of Non-Conformists.
For blind eye observations, road trips can be alot of fun -- if you leave your two brothers behind. But somehow mom and dad don't see it that way. I'm already 8-months old and you'd think people would listen to what I have to say a bit more. My name is Katie and they tell me I'm new around here, but I've known this family all my life.
Let me tell you what a car trip looks like from my depth of experience and lofty perspective. We'll take a really important journey -- like a trip to gramma's. First I have to load up all my supplies in a big carry-on bag, or maybe two for starters. Sure don't want to leave anything important behind. Brother Larry, age 4, and brother Justin, age 11 also have to bring along their valuables in their bags. But they call them pockets.
I get my own special seat in the car. But even though mom has had a full 8 months to figure the thing out, she still keeps putting me in backwards. I don't know what's so difficult about this seat. But almost every time she straps me in, mom makes a funny face and runs back into the house to get something she's forgotten. It sometimes takes her two or three trips to get everything she needs to hold me into that car seat. Facing backwards isn't so bad. I can keep a good eye on where we have been in case we have to turn back in a hurry for some reason. Larry and Justin get told they might need to go back quite a bit. Once we're breezing down the road I can start watching all the interesting sights we don't care to stop at disappear out the back; like the tree tops, powerlines, overhead signs and street lights. I really need to stop and examine those things sometime.
Elbows. I've learned alot about those from my fellow passengers in the back seat. Elbows really don't taste very good and they don't feel very good up side of the head either. But I'm sure they're good for something. Justin once told me they were used for cleaning out your ears. Guess I'm not big enough for that yet. Mine don't reach. Maybe I should start with Larry's ears first. I see about as much of elbows in the car as I do of the treetops.
A great roadtrip requires a great collection of toys. There's your round colored ring for putting in your mouth, your cloth book for putting in your mouth and your brother's Leggos for putting in your mouth. Sometimes the more fun a toy is the more everyone jumps at me from all directions to take it away. It's always good to share. That's why I try to toss as many of my toys up to the front seat as possible.
One of my favorite pasttimes in the back seat is napping. I'm really quite good at it when you let me pick my own times. The trip to gramma's is great for nodding off. That way I don't have to listen to mom and dad trying to decide how fast to go or which side trips to take.
Everybody should share a good roadtrip from time to time. I've come to really appreciate these adventures to gramma's place all the way across town over 12 miles. It's as least as good as my next bottle of milk which I don't have to share with my brothers. Buckle up everyone, let's go see what we're leaving behind.
Blind eye observation is a matter of perspective. That became ever so clear when we took a short trip to Mexico; a land filled with sea and sky.
The wife saw my para-sailing adventure from below where I saw it from above. This is a relatively new sport where they strap you into a modified parachute and hook you behind a speed boat with a long rope. Why did it feel like the unstoppable force connected to the unmovable object? The goal is to let the boat pull you off the beach and into the air before it drags you into the ocean. They give you 15 or 20 feet to make this happen. Usually that's enough when there's a head wind. This day there wasn't much wind at all. The fellow who strapped me into the life vest and harness seemed to have some reservations. He looked at my height and weight, put a finger up to the calm breeze, tapped me in the mid section and simply shrugged. Fortunately he shrugged in Spanish so I didn't know what he meant.
They signaled for the take off. The boat roared out to sea gobbling up all the slack rope on the beach. Then I took two or three strides forward and sat down on the harness straps. There must have been enough wind and air speed to fill the para-sail because I was able to look down on the place where the sand met the surf rather than up. If there wasn't enough wind, I was prepared to make some more by hollering.
The rest of the experience could have been perfect. In fact the flight itself was. It's always exhilarating to sail through the air held up by a support you cannot see and propelled by a force you cannot control. I get the same feeling every month when we pay the bills.
When we turned to come back into shore I realized how much I wanted to stay in the air. Seems they had cinched the straps so tightly across my legs that all the feeling was going out of them. I wasn't sure they would hold me up again.
By now we were making the final approach back toward the beach. They had told me to watch for the red flag below. When they held it up I was to pull on the cord over my right shoulder to guide my flight out over the land once again. When they lowered the flag, I was to release the cord while the boat slowed down to lower me back to the ground. What I failed to tell them was that I am partially color blind and don't see reds all that well. While I was approaching the shore everyone seemed to be lowering and raising red flags. Maybe the leg straps were blurring my vision.
When I finally spotted the flag bearer and started pulling on the strap nothing happened. When they say pull, they really mean tug, yank, strain or jerk. That one narrow strap was holding up my entire body and firmly fixed in place. And it wasn't about to be moved by one little hand. So I used two or more. Now the flag bearer was getting equally energetic. If I didn't pull longer and harder, I might come down in the water. They sure didn't want that. Something very unfortunate might happen. When I was finally far enough over the beach, the boat stopped. The flagman lowered his flag. I dropped the overhead cord and slid down into the arms of four anxious Mexicans. Everything was secure. The gringo was standing in ankle deep water and their precious cargo, the para-sail was high and dry on the beach. I could dry off in a matter of minutes. But their precious para-sail would take hours to dry before they could make money with it again. Once it was out of the way of the next incoming wave, everyone was happy again.
That same day we bought my son a small toy fashioned after the para-sail. It has a hollow little man that flies along with it. Now I feel a real kinship with that figure. Maybe we're both empty headed.
Since life is little more than a train wreck in waiting, this blog is about the real life fiction we all face. With precise ambiguity, we'll explore the no brainer imponderables you need to maintain the fire in your bellyache. You never know when a blind eye observer is watching you. So remember, always take a chance on a sure thing unless otherwise misdirected.