Friday, May 25, 2012

Live bug, dead bug

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.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The little tractor that should

"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.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No know

With seven grandchildren in the same community, survival is on a need to no-know basis.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Brake smoke

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.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Nest no more

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.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

“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!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Full as a tack and sharp as a tick, life gets right to the point.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The good ''Bad Girl''

Good girl, ''Bad Girl.''

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.

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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.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When out in the weeds

Sometimes it pays to venture out into the weeds. You never know what will find you.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Powder puff pin point

When life gets as painful as a powder puff pin point, it's time to become as serious as a toy.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Always Enjoy...

Always take time to enjoy those once-in-a-lifetime everyday events.

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