Monday, November 30, 2015

Under Two

Our “family car” is a 2007 Dodge Ram 3/4 ton pickup with a 5.9 Cummins Diesel engine.  We bought it just before we retired to pull our camper, and planned on it being our last vehicle purchase – so far, so good.

This past weekend, I bought fuel for $1.99 a gallon – the first time since we got the truck that I have been able to fill up – 30 gallons for less than $60.

Shortly after we got the truck, I did buy Diesel once at a pump that said $1.32 - but those were Canadian dollars, and the price was per liter.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Well, Duh!

Several times a year, we see reports of a new scientific study proving something so obvious we can only shake our head in wonder.  The latest of these BLOCKBUSTER Studies made the news this morning.

Reading in Bed A research team from the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, released the results of a study that found that children with dogs suffer from less anxiety that kids without pets. 

My first thought was “They needed a Study for that?”

In case you’re wondering, the name of the place does not indicate any pro-dog bias.  It’s named after Mary Imogene Bassett, and old maid doctor and daughter of doctors who practiced in Cooperstown. They practiced in a house that still stands on lower Fair Street and treated their patients for $6-$12 week -- including room and board!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Starting to feel a little more human today. 

Honey is actually out walking for the second day in a row.  I’m not ready for that, but then again, I don’t enjoy walking and never walk as far as she does even when I feel great.

I have managed to get through the last two days without taking any allergy medication.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Cup Runneth Over

As it turned out, Honey was feeling better yesterday, but I was feeling worse.  The decision to stay home for Thanksgiving seemed more than justified.

Since we had not planned on being home, our holiday feast was not exactly typical, but it was close.  Instead of a turkey, we had a spatchcocked chicken. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, Spatchcock is a word from 18th century Ireland that describes a way of cooking poultry, and you may have been doing it already without knowing what to call it – it involves removing the backbone and laying the bird flat on a grill before placing it in the oven. 


In addition to the chicken, we made a big pan of dressing and some giblet gravy, and Honey made the broccoli rice she had intended to make for Cheryl. We ate around three o'clock, and had way too much food for two people. 

Then just after dark, as we were trying to decide whether to go for leftovers or ice cream, the door bell rang.  Knowing that we had been under the weather, the Graffs, our next-door neighbors, had brought over dinner.  The plates included ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, devilled eggs and more, and there was another plate with slices of pumpkin and pecan pie.

If you’re hungry, feel free to stop by.  We have enough leftovers to feed an army.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015


That is Jean Ferris’s painting of the first thanksgiving. 

Normally, we would be on our way to Bertram and Liberty Hill for the day, but we have both been a little under the weather and decided to stay home this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Place Holder


I just don’t feel like writing anything today, so if you were breathlessly waiting for today’s blog post, here it is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Our house has one water inlet (from the well) and three outlets – one to the septic tank, one from the kitchen to a grease trap with its own field lines, and one that is just a pipe that drains the washing machine out into the woods.  It is a system that has served us well for almost forty years.

Over that time, I have had to use a roto-rooter on the septic field lines once or twice, and have had to empty the grease trap several times, but until this weekend the washing machine drain had never been a problem.  I was washing my sheets this weekend when the drain decided not to drain anymore and soapy water filled the utility room and most of the kitchen.  I caught it  while the machine was still about half full, but a gallon of water can go a long way.

After mopping up the mess, I tried using water pressure to open the drain, and thought that it worked.  The rest of the wash water drained without incident, but then, when the rinse cycle ended, it flooded again.

At that point, I went out and dug up the end of the pipe, then ran a water hose up the pipe from that end.  Kneeling in the mud with my arm shoulder deep in freezing water and shoving a water hose up the pipe ain’t fun.  Okay, it wasn’t freezing, but 36° is close enough! 

I think it’s okay now, but I’m going to work on it some more this afternoon to be sure.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Our hummingbird feeders are in storage for the next few months, and this is one problem we have never experienced.

hbirdfeederWe have had raccoons, and honeybees, and a couple of birds other than hummers, but never a horse.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday, and will bring with it the usual arguments about the best way to prepare the turkey – roasted or fried, corn bread vs. white bread stuffing, etc.

A contributor on an internet forum I follow posted this bird that he prepared for a Thanksgiving party on the beach.  A few well-placed pieces of aluminum foil before the bird went in the oven resulted in:

florida turkey

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Troubleshooting 101

Whether you’re talking about the family car, a washing machine, or a widget, if you want to fix it, you first have to pinpoint what is wrong. 

That means you have to be able to recognize and eliminate what it is doing right.

At one point in my career, I wrote and taught a basic, generic troubleshooting class.  It was designed for copier repair technicians, but I wrote it without any references to copy machines. 

I taught that you have to understand what the machine is supposed to accomplish, and to be able to break the process into a sequence of individual steps.  Then, you have to be able to identify the step where the process went awry.  Once you’re there, finding the source of the anomaly is usually easy – seldom more complicated than choosing between two components.

If you can do that, you can fix anything.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Color

Folks from Texas go to New England, or at least to Arkansas, for a glimpse of fall color, but you don’t have to go that far.

lost maples This picture, taken one year ago today, is from the Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool, Texas.  gold treesAnd this is from Tyler State Park this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


wheelWe picked up chicken on the way home yesterday, something that seems to give me very vivid dreams.  Last night, I dreamed that Houston’s defensive end, J. J. Watt appeared on Wheel of Fortune.  He won, but was unable to solve the bonus round and only came away with $12,600. The other contestants were people I should know, but I can’t remember their names this morning.

Even more frustrating is that I watched the entire show but can’t remember any of the puzzles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I saw an amazing natural display this morning – something I had never seen before.  I’m not sure what to call it, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to describe it well enough, but it was something to behold.

It was foggy this morning, and the sunrise was nothing special – no brilliant colors on the eastern horizon - the day just transformed from dark to light.  An hour or so later, I was standing at the back door looking east when the fog began to dissipate. 

We think in terms of fog lifting, but in this case it was falling, falling in an absolute deluge of droplets so small they should have been invisible.  They were visible, though. Each miniscule droplet became a lens that picked up, amplified and projected the light from the rising sun.

It only lasted a few minutes, but it was a remarkable experience.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


For the past several days local weathermen have been warning about the potential of a major weather event.  A huge dip in the polar jet stream was expected to join up with the southern jet stream over our area.  That, combined with a major storm moving in from the Rockies was supposed to create conditions that would bring heavy rain, hail and a strong possibility of tornadoes.

When we went to bed last night, the front was expected to move in about 3:00 a.m. and be out of the area by early afternoon.  It is now almost 10:00 a.m. and the front still hasn’t arrived.  Not looking forward to severe weather, but I’m getting tired of waiting.  I’m ready for it to be over.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Really Monday

DentalHygiene2 Since we have been retired for several years now, Monday’s aren’t the hassle here at the Boggy Thicket that they are for folks who are still punching a clock.  Usually, Mondays are pretty much like any other day.

Today was a bit of an exception.  Honey had a dental appointment (for a cleaning) and we had to get up in time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get the garbage out to the street in time to make it to Huffman for the first appointment of the day – not difficult, but it gave the morning a sense of exigency that we don’t normally feel.

Then, as we were eating breakfast, the Dental office called.  The hygienist was not going to be in the office – she was home caring for a sick child. Honey rescheduled her appointment – another Monday, but this time at 11:00 a.m.

No longer under any pressure to get somewhere on time, everything went back to normal, but it took a while for it to feel that way.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Equal Time

There were reports yesterday that said ringleaders of the recent demonstrations on college campuses were upset because the ISIS attacks in Paris had pushed their movement out of the headlines.

I’m sorry they are upset, so am doing my part to remedy the situation.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Created Equal?

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal”

Wait!  Stop!  I’m calling BS! 

While all men (and that’s a generic, gender-neutral men) may have been created equal, nobody actually believes it. Everyone either thinks that they are superior, or secretly fears that they are inferior to everyone else, and the drive to be better than their fellow man is what has driven civilization since the stone age.

That competitive drive is the impetus that led to the founding of nations, of religions and of high-school cliques.  It has been the cause of untold evil in the world, but it is also what led to the scientific discoveries that brought us to where we are today. 

Recently, unscrupulous leaders have set about to create and to empower a new class of people, convincing them that they do not have to play the historical competitive game - at least not by the established rules. They tell them that they no longer have to seek to improve themselves, just demand whatever they think they want in the name of justice. They tell them that they are entitled to special consideration because they have been bullied, disenfranchised, discriminated against, or, most recently, simply offended. 

What’s really scary is that it seems to be working.

I’m still trying to decide if this movement is the antithesis of historical progress or only a clever ploy designed to give its members a bigger club in the fight.  Either way, I see it as a disturbing trend.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


stabwith squirrel

This headline has me bemused
And frankly a little confused
Did she catch them in the act?
Was the squirrel the weapon with which she attacked?
Either way, the squirrel should have refused

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day


At the invitation of the President of the United States, I served in the Army from 1966 to 68.  I attained the rank of Specialist 5, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for my work with the Ft. Hood Public Information Office.

To those who say I’m not a real veteran since I never was deployed in a war zone, I will remind you that the Viet Cong never got anywhere near central Texas during my tour of duty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We haven’t seen a hummingbird in a couple of weeks, so I’ll probably be taking our hummingbird feeders down later today.  Very little, if any, sugar water has been consumed since the last time they were filled.

On the subject of sugar water, we use a 1:4 mixture in our feeders most of the year.  If swarms of bees show up, we’ve found that cutting the concentration to 1:6 causes them to lose interest.  Hummingbirds still like it, but the bees go somewhere else. 

When mixing up the solution, we always add a few drops of red food coloring, and that is the source of today’s mystery.  We have three feeders out and the sugar water in the two plastic ones is still bright red, but in the one with a glass reservoir the solution is clear.  I noticed a few days ago that it was pink, but today it looks as though we never added any food coloring at all.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Simple Math

A six-year-old’s answer to a question on a math quiz is all over the internet.  Posted by a proud mom, it has gone viral.

If you haven’t seen it already, here it is:


Saturday, November 7, 2015



I got my first horse for my first birthday. That is a fact, and it is a story that I have enjoyed telling - particularly to folks from out-of-state who had unrealistic ideas about Texas and Texans.

The horse was a four month old Shetland pony we named Lucky, and although we sold him when I was five years old, I do have several vivid memories of life with Lucky. 

For example, Lucky once got into a bin full of sweet potatoes and ate his fill.  He almost died - blew up like a weather balloon, had trouble breathing and could hardly stand.  Watching my dad give my pony an enema with a garden hose is a scene that nobody is likely to ever forget.

I don’t actually remember the best Lucky story, but I’ve heard it often. Here’s what happened: 

Shortly after Lucky arrived, our next door neighbor stopped by.  He said that his milk cow had suddenly gone dry, but only on her left side – the teats on her right side were still functioning normally.  He asked my dad if he had ever heard of such a thing, and of course, he said that he had not.

The mystery was solved a few days later when my mom saw the neighbor’s cow standing at the property line allowing Lucky to nurse through the barbed wire fence.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Middle Child

Over the years, psychologists have written reams of reports about middle child syndrome, and the problems of growing up with older and younger siblings.  My problem was a little different.

A couple years before I was born, and after several miscarriages, my mother gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I’ve seen pictures, and beautiful is not an understatement – she was one of the prettiest babies I’ve ever seen.  They named her Dana Lynne.

Everybody and his brother came to see them in the hospital, and someone gave her a cold, which developed into pneumonia.  She died before she ever left the hospital.

When I came along, I was loved and cherished and spoiled rotten, but my mother always continued to mourn that perfect little girl.  It’s hard to compete with someone who died before they ever had a chance to do anything wrong.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Paid Patriotism

fake patriots

A report just released by Arizona’s two US Senators reveals that many of those patriotic displays we see at professional sports events were actually bought and paid for by the Military. 

The figures – for fiscal year 2013 – show the Houston Astros got $25,000 from the Texas National Guard and the Dynamo got $15,000 for allowing Guardsmen to act as color guards at some of their home games.  During the same time period, the Atlanta Hawks raked in $230,000!

The 6.8 million dollars they quote may be a drop in the bucket in the overall military budget, but I think it is reprehensible. 

I know that professional sports is a business - and the business of business is to make money - but Patriotism should never be for sale or rent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Birthday


I am, and I treasure every day we have together. 

Happy birthday, Honey.  You truly are the love of my life.

Monday, November 2, 2015


No, my parents were not related, but they met when they both went to visit a mutual cousin. Her name was Mildred, and I guess she would be my double second cousin.  Her parents were my mother’s father’s brother and my dad’s mother’s sister, and they lived in Groveton, Texas.  I don’t know if it was an actual case of love at first sight, but  dad is supposed to have told mom that summer that he was going to marry her when she grew up.

Both of my maternal grandparents grew up in that area, and years ago, while traveling through Groveton, I talked to an old man who knew them both when they were young.  I had stopped at a gas station to buy a coke to drink with my lunch, and struck up a conversation with an old-timer who was sitting in a cane-bottom rocker outside.

He told me that my grandmother and her twin sister (fraternal twins that didn’t look a thing alike) were the prettiest girls in the town.  I asked about my grand-dad and his brothers, saying “I’ve heard those Boyd boys were pretty rowdy.”

He thought for a minute, then replied, “Well, them Boyd boys was what you might call noticeable.”

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Mob

Well, the weather cooperated and our neighborhood hay ride went off without a hitch.  The rain (we had 5-plus inches overnight) stopped just before noon, and the trailer-loads of goblins showed up at our place a little after five o'clock. 

I left the house to go grocery shopping at noon – thinking that many would still be waiting for the water to recede, and I would beat the crowds.  Boy, was I wrong!

I drove through high water – never more than two or three inches – a dozen times or more on the way to the store, only to arrive to find the HEB parking lot totally full and only about a half dozen shopping carts available.  I have never seen the store so full – not even when folks were stocking up for a hurricane. 

I guess everyone was going stir-crazy, and got out of the house as soon as they could. The good news was that everyone was in good spirits and they were all friendly and courteous.