Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rain Dance Time

Last night, a series of rain storms traversed the state from west to east. They passed about 10 miles to our north, and I talked to one guy who said it rained for 3-4 hours. We didn't get a drop.

Tonight, a series of lighter showers crossed the state about 10 miles to our south...and once again we didn't get a drop.

Since the long range forecast predicts no rain for at least a week, it appears I'll be dragging sprinkler hoses around the yard again tomorrow.

I might need smelling salts when the water bill arrives!

Monday, June 29, 2009

State of Seige

Instead of posting tonight, I'll just provide this link to a very interesting story on another blog. I hope it's not prophetic.

State of Seige

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Retirement Observations

You’d think that after being retired for 12 years, I’d be well rested and bored to tears with nothing to do, but actually, I can’t even seem to keep up with all the little jobs it takes to maintain and improve a house and yard. I’ll never understand how I was able to get anything done around the house while working a full time job, often with lots of overtime, and then putting in one or two weekends a month in the Air Force Reserve. I know I don’t have the drive I had when I was younger, but except for my morning coffee run, I don’t feel like I’m goofing off that much. I only wish my energy level matched some of my coffee drinking friends.

One is a retired Exxon executive who was recently elected mayor of Lindale. The job pays nothing, and despite being in his seventies, he usually puts in a full day conducting the city’s business.

Another friend is in his early seventies, and he decided to take a job substitute teaching. Now, that’s a job that wears out even a young person, and our district doesn’t pay substitutes very well, so it’s certainly not the lure of fast money.

Another over-seventy buddy is a retired college professor and lately he’s been spending his day on a Caterpillar, felling trees and clearing a road around his lake.

I sure wish I had the energy level these guys have. They manage to do the usual household chores, plus a lot more. Maybe when the weather gets cooler…or maybe not.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Curse of Threes

Once again the curse of threes has hit the entertainment world, as three celebrities have died in the past few days.

I never watched the Tonight Show, so I really know nothing about Ed McMahon’s entertainment career, but I do know he was a Marine fighter pilot and retired as a Brigadier General in the California ANG. That’s all I need to know to have respect for the man.

I know even less about Farrah Fawcett. I recall that she was one of the original Charlie’s Angels, but I seldom watched the show, so I don’t have an opinion about her acting skills. I vaguely recall her in a movie or two, but nothing memorable, and I honestly didn’t find her that attractive. However, I feel sorry for anyone who suffered from cancer that long.

Michael Jackson’s death was sort of a shock, but no matter how much talent he had, I find it difficult to feel much sympathy for a child molester, drug user, and scam artist. The poor devil looked like the main attraction in a carnival freak show and obviously had serious mental problems. No surprise that the mainstream media is all atwitter, but I did find it odd to see a full hour of Fox news covering the story. Thank goodness for digital recorders that let you fast forward through a show.

I guess I’m becoming callous in my old age, but the trials, tribulations, and demise of celebrities is not something I waste my time contemplating. I was far more affected by accidentally killing a mockingbird today. It flew across the road in front of me, but then turned around and tried to go back again. There was no way I could dodge it. A few months ago, I hit a male cardinal in a similar fashion and it really bothers me when that happens.

On a brighter note, a male ruby-throat hit the window tonight and was knocked out. I was certain it was dying, but Judy held him for quite a while and then placed him on the patio table. He apparently recovered, as he was gone when I checked a half-hour later.

I don’t know what else we can do to keep hummingbirds from hitting our windows. We applied some special decals that are supposed to make it easier for the bird to see the glass, and I also hung a fern in front of the window, but they still fly into it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boy Scouts a Hate Group?

As I’ve mentioned before, I visit several discussion forums every day. Most are related to cars, or racing, or politics, but I also spend some time at a couple of writer’s forums. I don’t often participate, preferring to quietly absorb anything I can to improve my writing skills. One particular forum is rife with political discussions, and as expected, most of those who fancy themselves writers, are of the liberal persuasion.

A thread on that forum was discussing whether or not the Boy Scouts of America is a hate group. Of course, the idea is laughable to anyone with a shred of common sense, but the liberal template is that if the organization doesn’t embrace the views of gays and atheists, it’s a hate group.

Perhaps some of them will eventually come face to face with an organization like al Qaeda or the Taliban, and then they might learn the true meaning of organized hate. In my humble opinion, leaving a trail of burned and broken body parts is a bit more hateful than helping old ladies cross a busy street.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer is Here

As surely as the summer solstice arrives, our breeze shifts to the South, the clouds put on a disappearing act and our temperatures slowly inch up the scale. After a comfortable spring, with temps in the 80’s and 90’s, we’re now seeing high 90’s and today it flirted with 100. That will likely be the story for the next couple of months.

After driving the convertible down to have morning coffee with the old guys at Pop’s, I managed to finish cutting the lawn before it got too hot. My new riding mower sure makes life easier than walking behind the old mower.

So far, I’ve not seen a single snake in our little development, but yesterday I found a long, thin skin that a night visitor sloughed off in the woodpile. The shape told me it didn’t belong to any poisonous species, and I’m glad of that. I think it was either a rat snake or a black snake. Whatever it is, I hope it stays away from our nesting birds.

Speaking of birds. This evening, I was sitting on the patio and a male hummer decided to check out the flowers and me. He hovered about 3 feet from my face for several seconds before flying over to the windowsill to check out the anole that was strutting. Every time the anole would do his pushups and display his red throat, the hummer would move closer...and closer he got, the more the anole pumped and displayed. The hummer certainly wasn't scared, as he got within a foot of the little lizard.

Lots of other summer things making themselves known. Last night, I saw a firefly in the back yard, and two Whip-poor-wills were calling to each other from across the road. Almost any time of night you can hear the coyotes yapping, and sometimes the beautiful wolf-dog hybrid that lives down the road will join in with a howl that puts the coyotes to shame.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Internet Hoax

Last week, there was a report from Cleburne, TX about a record Diamondback rattlesnake that was found on the municipal golf course. It supposedly matched the 9'1" snake that has held the record for years, and was also considerably heavier.

Today, the news is that the whole thing was a hoax. Not that I'm hoping for a record rattlesnake anywhere near, but I wonder what it is that makes people do things like that?

Knock on wood, but I have yet to see any kind of snake in our development. A flattened blacksnake on the county road a mile from here, is the only one I've seen, and I'd like to keep it that way. I know tame hogs will kill snakes, so maybe the numerous wild hogs keep the population down. If so, that's about the only thing they're good for.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Agriculture Report

Next on the harvest list will be the onions. As you can see, the tops are already bending over, so I should be able to pick some in a couple of weeks.

These onions are a local variety called "Noonday". The small town of the same name is famous throughout East Texas as the onion capitol. However, like everyplace else, the invasion of housing developments has taken hundreds of acres out of production and in a few years there will be no commercial growers left.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Harvest

If a thief doesn't get it, I should be harvesting the first vine ripened tomato tomorrow. The variety is called Big Beef, and it's bearing faster than the old reliable Early Girl. I just hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Lots of small tomatoes and buds, so I hope we have a good crop this year. Last year, the plants wouldn't set fruit early in the year and then the pests got to them.

A volunteer melon of some kind has also set fruit and is growing quickly. It climbed a tomato vine, so I don't know if the melon will continue to hang there, or if it will drag the tomato vine down after it gets heavier.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Where is the America of our Founders?

When did things start going bad in the USA? I’ve been trying to think of a specific event that started the ball rolling downhill, but it eludes me. Yet here we are…divided and angry. We haven't been this divided since the war between the states.

The war in Vietnam changed a lot of things, but once it was over and the hippies grew up and got jobs, the country appeared to be getting back to normal. The election of Ronald Reagan was the one event that gave the country purpose and pride again. The usual left-wing whiners did their best to vilify Reagan, but the man was too good to be taken down by the Maoists and Leninists disguised as Progressives. Those were good times.

George H.W. Bush was sort of a blip on the face of history. Except for Gulf War I, he seemed to blend into the fabric of the curtains in the oval office. I recall a few highlights of his presidency…but very few. Despite his shortcomings, I’m sure the spark that has led to the deterioration of America didn’t arrive on his watch.

Clinton was a disgusting excuse for a president, and an even more disgusting excuse for a man, but his political acumen was brilliant and as long as the conservative Congress let him take some of the glory, he went along with their relatively responsible fiscal behavior. It was almost like having a Republican president as far as policy was concerned. However, I believe the demise of American excellence took root at some point in the eight years the Debaucher-in-Chief occupied the White House.

George W. Bush was a frustrating president. Despite the meanspirited drivel the media spouted, I don’t think a more honest, caring man has ever held that office. He loved the country and tried his best to do the right things, but while he tried to please everyone, he eventually reached the point where he pleased no one. The country festered under the last years of his administration and he was unable to correct its direction. If the Republicans in Congress had stood up to Bush when he was wrong, and not tried to out-spend the Democrats, we might not be in the mess we find ourselves in today. However,they were too desperate to be loved, and they lost their moral compass. They let the Democrats snooker their every move and eventually herd them into a huge loss at the polls.

Now we have a zealot, totally void of economic good sense, trying to remold the country into a soviet-style nanny state. He’s going out of his way to divide the country and to destroy the economy. His administration’s assault on the Constitution is jaw-dropping and recent polls say that over 60% of the American people think his policies are hurting the country, yet in the same polls he gets good marks for the job he's doing. Go figure! It has to be a fear of saying anything negative about a non-white president.

I didn’t think I’d ever see it in this great country, but I’m now convinced there will be blood in the streets before a new Congress can be elected and an end put to the economic carnage. Our founders would be in tears to see the destruction of the great country they built.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Where are all the Records?

When claims concerning Obama's birth records were first raised, I wasn't anxious to jump on any bandwagon that might be based in rumor and innuendo. However his steadfast opposition to release any information about his birth and school records, certainly fuels the controversy.

I also resisted the Manchurian Candidate gossip, but the horrendous damage he's done to our economy and our rule of law are almost too much to attribute to stupidity alone.

This link I found on: http://www.conservativeoldhippie.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4895 does a good job of consolidating all the issues concerning Obama's records.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surprise Summer Storm

To my surprise, we had an inch of rain last night. The forecast was for scattered showers, but a nasty storm front developed in West Texas very quickly and raced across Fort Worth through Dallas and then hit our area. The winds were strong enough to knock down lots of small branches and a few million leaves, but no damage here. However, we learned this morning that a tornado touched down about 2 miles to our north. Several trees were blown down, but no reports of property damage. That's the 2nd tornado to hit there in the past three months.

At least I won't have to water the lawn for a few days.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Truth in Advertising...and Home Improvement Shows

There should be a law against running those home improvement shows without a disclaimer stating the reality of what they are doing and what actually results. You can make any house or yard look pretty for a camera, but when you live with it, it takes on a different appearance.

We were watching one where a backyard was completely revamped, but it was entirely impractical for everything except looking cute on television. The homeowners dutifully uncovered their eyes and politely oohed and ahhed for the cameras, but in a few weeks,I'm certain reality hit. Anyone trying to maintain that landscaping would be cursing a blue streak. They applied a mulch made from old tires that was separated from the lawn by an measly one-inch-high bender board, and the woman said that besides a mulch, it could serve as a sandbox for their kids. Right! Within seconds of the kids starting to play, the lawn would be full of hard rubber pellets just waiting for a lawn mower to throw them all over the entire back yard, or to break a window, or to smack the neighbor's poodle. However, you could always tell the kids to clean the pellets out of the grass when they get through playing…couldn’t you?

They also had big flower pots and a picnic table and chairs sitting on the grass. How would you like to drag a heavy table around everyt time you wanted to mow the grass beneath it? And can’t you just see the gouges made in the lawn by someone dragging the table? Of course, you could always find someone to carefully lift it away and then carry it back into place. Anyone who thinks that will happen has never mowed a lawn!

In the days before home improvement television, dad always cursed magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, for showing all the cutesy cabinets and built-ins that took forever to build and were impractical. Unwitting homeowners wanted their project to look just like the one in the magazine, but had no idea how expensive or impractical it would be, and they wouldn’t listen when you tried to tell them.

And they say car dealers mislead customers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our New Bird Neighbors

In our efforts to maintain a manicured landscape, we frequently manage to destroy many natural nesting places for birds, and I’m as guilty as anyone of over-zealous yard cleanups. When a tree dies, I’m usually out there with a chain saw removing the ugly skeleton before any of the neighbors can spot it and begin to question my landscaping dedication. However, this year I left the remains of two dead trees standing and nature took the opportunity to show me why we should do that more often.
The first photo is of a small Hickory tree in our side yard. The core rotted out and a winter storm broke off the top half. It was located in an area where I hadn’t done any landscaping, so my procrastination allowed the tree to stand long enough to be claimed by a pair of Tufted Titmice. They didn’t seem to care that it didn’t have a roof as long as there was a ledge inside where they could build a nest.

Last month, I thought the parents had been killed, or that they had abandoned the tree with baby birds inside. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I found a baby bird that had left the nest too early and perished. I didn’t see the adult birds for some time, but they eventually returned and are now raising a second brood. I’ve been watching them carry food inside the tree for the past three days, so all is well for the time being.
The second photo shows the home of our newest bird neighbors…a pair of Red bellied Woodpeckers. The tree died last fall and a winter windstorm broke a large branch. To protect a nearby fence, I cut the rest of the rotten branches off, but left about ten feet of good wood standing, intending to give it to a friend for firewood later this year. I didn’t want to cut it down and store it on the ground, as it will rot and be invaded by termites if it touches the soil. Then a few weeks ago, the woodpeckers began chipping an entrance hole near the top, and now have a nesting area almost complete. There are enough chips below the tree to make you think they’ve been using a chain saw.

I hate to cut down two perfectly good nesting places, so I guess we’ll just have to put up with a couple of ugly stumps for a while.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why We Need Tea Parties and Oathkeepers

Would anyone like to make a bet on the political beliefs of the HOA president that sent this Marine the letter?

I'm ashamed that such a thing could happen in Texas. Stupidity like this is not only a wonderful argument for more Tea Parties, but also the resurrection of tar and feathers parties.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Get a Clue, Republicans!

The more I watch our spineless Republican politicians wallow around in mushy mediocrity, the more inclined I am to re-register as an independent. It's driving me nuts to witness such incompetence from our elected officials.

Since most who read this blog don't get the Tyler paper, this is a letter I recently wrote to the editor.

"Our senators and the Republican Party hierarchy seem convinced the recent tea parties and the seething voter anger that permeates the country will work to their advantage in the 2010 elections. Well, before stepping ankle-deep in drool, I'd suggest you take a moment to get a clue.

Last month, I wrote both our Texas senators expressing my displeasure over their political timidity and a perplexing obsession with mundane issues while the country is being driven off a financial cliff by big-government loving liberals. I suggested they take a national role in furthering real conservative solutions to our social and financial turmoil, and that they become highly visible leaders rather than just two minority votes in the Senate. However, either they don’t understand what leadership means, or they are content to fiddle while America’s economy burns.

Senator Hutchison didn’t even bother to respond with a form letter, but I imagine she’s too busy kissing Austin’s political derrieres as she seeks the governorship, to be bothered by national calamities.

Senator Cornyn’s only response was a subscription to his e-newsletter, so now I've learned his concerns about such critical issues as television’s switch from analog to digital. Unfortunately, he didn’t directly respond to any of the concerns I raised, but he hinted that he’s going to vote like a Republican.

Dang it, Senator, put some starch in your skivvies. We need a voice. I want to see you throw a body slam on Senator Schumer every time he sprints toward a TV camera. Fight for some air time! Wrestle him for the microphone, and don’t be afraid to use your knee to raise his voice a few octaves…he’d do it! I’d suggest our Republican delegation learn how to become hard-nosed conservative leaders by emulating Rep. Gohmert.

Furthermore, Senator Cornyn, please quit picking fights with Rush Limbaugh. Save your pique for Harry Reid. You won’t win elections without Rush and you certainly won’t win elections by being nice to the leftist media.

Perhaps you need a challenger in the next primary to test your conservative credentials. It seems to have awakened Mr. Good-hair."

I'm not the only Texas conservative who has become frustrated with the GOP, and we're letting the leadership know we're done being their loyal lackeys.