Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hemerocallis fulva

One of the sights that most impressed me on our recent trip was the bright orange day-lilies blooming wild in the ditches from Kentucky to Virginia.  My experience with day-lilies told me that they are just that -  the blossoms only open for a day, so I was amazed that there were so many in bloom.
A bit of research on line tells me that these are Hemerocallis fulva, among the first day-lilies imported from China 100 years ago and that they are particularly hardy.  If you look carefully at the picture above, you will first notice the flowers in full bloom, but then you'll see buds that have not yet opened, and the folded petals of flowers that bloomed yesterday.  They are prolific bloomers, which explains how a day-lily could seem to be in bloom for weeks or months.
I also learned that they are edible.  Chinese eat the bulbs, while Americans are said to prefer eating the blossoms.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Wasp

Cranked up my old tractor yesterday for the first time since before we went on vacation.  
The good news is that it fired right up.  
The bad news is that a family of wasps had decided it was theirs, and in the six weeks or so since I last used it they had built a home under the little tool box mounted on the left fender.
One of them was quick to demonstrate his displeasure, and I was stung on the hand before I realized they were there.  I went and got the wasp spray, and made short work of the nest, so I guess you could say that I won.
It didn't feel that way, though.  The original sting hurt like the dickens.  That fiery first burning sensation was followed by swelling - a soft lump about the size of a hen egg.  All around the periphery of the lump itched like the very devil, and it continued to itch for several hours.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mc Cain

It was announced last night that Arizona Senator John McCain is suffering from a Glioblastoma - an aggressive and almost certainly fatal form of brain cancer.  The announcement says they are exploring treatment options and that he hopes to return to the Senate.
I have never been a fan of the Senator, but I do wish him well.  
As far as returning to the Senate, the right thing to do would be to resign now.  This would allow Arizona's Republican Governor to appoint a Republican  to take his place.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Brainer


I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks, and the other day, I got a reminder in the mail saying this year it is time to renew my Texas Driver's License.  I have now had a Texas Driver's License for over 60 years.  I took the written exam and the driving test on my 14th birthday. 
The letter gave me two options - I could:

  • Drive 23 miles to the nearest office
  • Search for a parking space
  • Stand in line for an hour
  • Fill out the forms
  • Pay $24 to get a new license
Or I could:
  • Fill out the form on line
  • Pay an extra dollar
  • Get my new license in the mail
Decisions, decisions... This is so difficult... 
How can I possibly be expected to choose?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sodom's Song

I'm not sure I could define my religious belief with any degree of specificity.  
Some would say I am a Christian, while many would argue that I am not.  I did grow up in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, and (with a few exceptions) still hold to a Christian definition of what's right and what's wrong.
I say this because I see our society on a high speed slide into debauchery.  I'm not saying that people are doing anything today that hasn't been done for centuries; they're not.  The difference is that now acts that were considered abominations in the past are accepted as normal.  In the name of equality and inclusion, we are told we must accept whatever the latest perversion might be or be branded as hateful.
This descent into the cesspool may have started earlier, but I mark its start from late 1995 or early 96 when Bill Clinton claimed oral sex was not sexual intercourse and the media (and every horny teenager in the country) bought into his claim.  Things have gone steadily downhill from there.
Two items in the news sparked my column today.  The first was Cosmopolitan Magazines series of articles on ANAL SEX FOR BEGINNERS, and the second was the use of the term Bro-Job - a term for homosexual encounters between heterosexual men.  
I had never heard the term Bro-Job before, but it is sort of self explanatory. I didn't really need to look it up, but I did.  I learned that there's even an App for that - BRO - that's been around since January of 2016.
I'm not a Puritan, and I have no desire to return to a repressive society.  What you do to/with yourself or your partner is none of my business.  That being said, I do think it is time we stopped promoting alternative lifestyles and dragging them into the mainstream.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Shared Pages

Well, no I don't - but I can't help wondering why couples choose to have shared profiles.  It is not like they have to double up to save on the cost of two separate Facebook pages. 
And- it's remarkably common - I can think of at least five of my own Facebook "Friends" who are actually couples.  
Normally, it isn't a problem, but just in the past week three of them had birthdays.  The little reminder  on my Facebook page told me something like "It's Fred and Ethel's birthday today."
What?
Whose birthday? 
 I can hardly remember my own birthday. Do they just assume that everybody on Facebook will know and remember which one of them was born on this date?
What is the proper etiquette?  
Do I just post "Happy Birthday" and hope the right one gets the message?

I know there are a lot of more serious issues in the world - like why in the Hell did that woman in England put 27 contact lenses in her eye - but this one has me in a quandary today.
 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tomato Perfection

Saw this on line this morning, and had a good chuckle.  It is just (barely) true enough to be funny.  It also reminded me of one of the nicest things that happened to us on our recent trip.
As I mentioned in the trip report when we got back, the worst stop on our journey was at Roosevelt State Park in Mississippi. You can read about it HERE.  On top of all the problems getting into our campsite, we were across the road from a huge extended family.  They weren't unruly, but they were loud, and had one dog that preferred our campsite to theirs.  They probably seemed worse than they were because we had already had a very bad day and were not in the best of moods.
About six o'clock, one of the women in the group crossed the road to our campsite and asked "Would y'all like some fresh tomatoes?  Mama said we brought too many and she doesn't want them to go to waste."
We took a couple and thanked her for bringing them over.  Later, we sliced one up to eat with our supper and OH MY LORD.  It was ambrosia - in the original sense of food for the Gods.  
I had completely forgotten how good a fresh-picked, vine ripened, home grown tomato could taste.  It bears no resemblance to those tomato-looking things you can buy at the store.  It's hard to believe that they are even related. 
I made a trip across the road to thank her mama again, but that didn't seem like nearly enough.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fool Me Once...


Those of you who follow my blog may remember that we tried to switch insurance carriers last year with near disastrous results.  If you don't remember, you can read about it HERE.
This week, we were approached about changing our Medicare Supplement Policy.  The new policy is with a well known company, and could save us a lot of money.  Basically, it involves switching from plan F to plan G, something United Health Care does not offer in Texas.  
As I said, the coverage is essentially the same, and the savings are substantial, so the decision should be a No-Brainer.  
Still, after last year's fiasco, we can't help being worried.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

White Squash

One of my all-time favorite vegetables - certainly one of my favorite varieties of squash - is white squash, also sometimes known as white scallop squash.  
It is great baked, but even better fried.  Unfortunately, it has become almost impossible to find at the grocery store.
Our local stores carry multiple varieties of squash - yellow crooknecks and zucchini, acorn and butternut, and because of the Mexican population, they always have chayote. The one squash they never have is the big white squash I crave,  The closest they come is patty-pan squash, which is shaped like what I want, but much smaller and comes in a variety of colors - usually yellow or green - seldom white.
We have grown our own in the past, and its beginning to look like that may be my only option if I ever want to eat white squash again.
 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wildfires

Watch the evening news any day in the last few weeks, and you'll see a story about Donald Trump and Russia, and another about wildfires in the American West.  
Unlike most of the Trump/Russia stuff, the fires really do exist.
 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Something In My Ear

About a dozen years ago or so, I was still teaching Ikon technicians how to service office equipment, when my hearing got to the point that I had difficulty hearing my students' replies.  I didn't want to, but I broke down and bought hearing aids.
They worked fine, but they were uncomfortable, and I never got used to having something stuck in my ear canal.  If I lasted that long, I usually removed them shortly after I got home.  Once I retired, I quit wearing them almost entirely.
That told Honey that whatever she had to say was less important to me than what the guys said in class.  I never felt that way, but the evidence sure seemed to say so.  It caused friction, to say the least.
The Miracle Ear folks used to call me to come in and have my hearing aids serviced, but the last time they called, Honey told them, "I can't even get him to wear the damn things.  You might as well stop calling."
Yesterday, out of the blue, I amazed Honey (and myself) by visiting my nearest dealer and having my hearing aids cleaned and adjusted.  They did a full hearing exam - the hearing in  my right ear had continued to decline - and adjusted the devices for optimum hearing.  They replaced the batteries and the tubes that go from the aid into my ear, and they did it all for free.  
Hearing aids aren't cheap, and they are not covered by Medicare or most insurance, but Miracle Ear does offer lifetime maintenance as part of the price.
Anyway, I'm starting all over again - trying to get used to something in my ear canal - so far, so good. But... wish me luck.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shane's Buck

My across-the-street neighbor, Shane Simpson, posted this picture on Facebook yesterday.  He was washing his car, and looked up to see this fellow at the edge of the woods.
 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ka-BANG

Honey and I have always shared household chores.  She worked and I worked; it just seemed fair.
A couple days ago, I had accumulated enough dirty clothes for a load, so I threw them in the washer.  After the washer stopped, I put them in the drier as usual.
That's when things got LOUD.  
Every time the drier compartment would rotate, we'd hear a loud bang.
I opened the door, and pulled everything out of the drier, expecting to find something that was causing the noise.  I knew it was too loud to be loose change, but I knew there had to be something.  I actually checked twice and didn't find a thing.
I went to my bedroom and realized that my pocket knife was not on the dresser.  Aha! I thought, I left it in my jeans.
One more search through the drier, and I found my pocket knife in the right front pocket of a pair of jeans, and in the left front pocket were my car keys!
I knew the key's electronics had to be ruined, but I pushed the panic button and the truck's horn started honking out in the garage.  I'm not sure how, but my keys are definitely cleaner and, apparently, no worse for wear.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Pa;indrome Job

There once was an unruly mob
That was run by Otto and Bob.
They rejected Steve,
Welcomed Anna and Eve
And pulled off the palindrome job.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Claw Hammer

I mentioned yesterday that we didn't bring anything back from Coushatta Casino that we didn't bring with us when we arrived.  That wasn't entirely true.  I did leave with a hammer.

It was an Estwing claw hammer like this one, about 23 bucks at Lowes or Sears.  It wasn't quite this clean, but almost, and it showed little or no wear.
I was sitting outside the camper enjoying my first cigarette and first cup of coffee of the day when the Coushatta employee came around picking up garbage.  He found the hammer in the garbage bin, and asked if it was mine.  I said "No, but I'll take it if you don't want it." and he handed it to me.
Later, I was showing it to Honey, and speculating on why someone would throw a perfectly good hammer away.  She said, "Maybe it's a murder weapon." 
It doesn't have any bloodstains, but just in case she is right, here's my note to the Kinder, Louisiana police:
If you have a recent bludgeoning victim, and are looking for the weapon, I may have transported it across the State line to Texas.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Part Three - Home

We have had several people ask us if we went to Noah's Ark on our trip.  The answer is yes and no.  
If you are thinking about the religious amusement park with the big wooden boat, we did not.  It was only a few miles north of the Kentucky Horse Park, but we never made it up there.
If, on the other hand, you were asking about the animal rescue  place in Georgia that Honey follows on Facebook, we did go there and it was definitely worth the trip.
From Bryson City, we headed south to High Falls RV Park in Jackson, GA. and while there we toured High Falls State Park and the Noah's Ark Rescue Center.
 This is Baloo - one third of B/L/T - a bear, a lion and a tiger who were confiscated as cubs in 2001 during a drug raid in Atlanta.  The three were inseparable, and all shared thee same enclosure until the lion died earlier this year.  Their story is what got Honey interested in Noah's Ark to begin with, and she has followed their Facebook page for several years.
All of the animals are rescues of some kind, many from bankrupt zoos and circuses and several from folks who thought it would be cool to have a wild animal until it got too big.

 
 There's a lion on the roof and a tiger in the hammock.
 
This looks like a Grizzly, but it's a Syrian Bear.  Related, but a quite a bit smaller.

We got to Noah's Ark in the morning, and were the first through the gate when they opened.  By the time we had walked through the entire place, an hour or so later, there were so many buses full of school kids already there or just arriving that it took me two tries  to make it out of the parking lot.
Our next stop was Capital City RV Park in Montgomery, AL.  Just an overnight stop - nothing to report here except we had our first bad weather of the trip and drove most of the way in the rain.
From Montgomery we went to Roosevelt State Park in Morton, MS.  When I was making reservations here, I learned that we had a forgotten credit for a cancelled reservation at a Mississippi Park, so we got a 50 amp full hookup campsite for $4.80.  That sounds like a great deal, but we had such a hassle getting into our campsite that I would have gladly paid to be almost anywhere else.  The whole shebang was one huge comedy of errors.
When we checked in, the girl at the gate gave us a campground map, and said turn left on the road right past the gatehouse, then follow the map.  The map showed us taking the first right to get to our campsite.  What she failed to mention was that the map didn't start at the gatehouse, it actually started two miles down the road on the other side of the dam.  That first right led us down a road to lakeside cabins with no way to back up and no place to turn around!
After a half hour or so of trying to maneuver, a park ranger showed up to help.  He made one of the folks who had been standing around watching move his truck and boat trailer, and we were able to back in there and pull back on the road.  He then escorted us to our campsite, where we had to get someone else move their boat so we could back into our campsite.  By the time we got set up we were both exhausted.
They had a massive 4th of July celebration going on in the park, with a huge fireworks display that night.  To see the fireworks, we would have had to carry chairs in the rain down to the lakeside (in somebody else's campsite) but by that point we were not interested.
Our dogs hate fireworks, so I spent an hour and a half sitting in the trailer with two miniature dachshunds cowering on my lap.
Roosevelt Park has a nice lake, a huge convention/event center, a big swimming pool with water slides and a disc golf course.  I'm sure it is a very nice place, but we'll be more than happy to never see it again.
The next, and last, stop was at the Red Shoes Campground in Kinder, LA.  It is part of the complex at Coushatta Casino so our campsite was "comped,"  Our visit to the casino was less than successful, but we did have fun.  
The only ones who left with more than they had when we arrived were our dogs.  They came home with hundreds of fleas, and we've spent the last couple of days shampooing them, washing their beds, treating them with flea killer, vacuuming carpets, etc.
It looks like things are just about back to normal today.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trip Report Part Two

From the Kentucky Horse Park we headed east. Our first stop was Meadow Bridge, West Virginia, which allowed us to add the state to our list of places we've camped.  We took a side trip to New River Gorge, a National Scenic Landmark.  The roads to the overlook at Hawk's Nest State Park are a motorcyclist's dream - lots of 20 mph curves and 7 and 8% grades, even one 10% grade for a mile and a half - not something I would want to take with the trailer in tow, but a beautiful drive.
When we got to Hawk's Nest, the overlook viewing area was occupied.  There was a wedding going on with a bride and groom who had to be in their 70s.  Judging from the size of the wedding party it had to be at least the second time around for each.
 On the way to Hawk's Nest, we stopped at Babcock State Park, which features a working Gristmill - almost.  The sluice was destroyed in last year's disastrous flooding, and was almost rebuilt.  They told us they would be selling cornmeal again within a week.
Our next stop was Surry, Virginia, and Chippokes Plantation State Park.  The park is the site of one of the first plantations in the US, and just across the James River from Jamestown and Williamsburg.  With the free ferry across the James, it made an ideal spot from which to tour the area.

There were Ospreys nesting on the pilings at the ferry landing.  If you look closely you may see one of the two baby birds in this nest.
Jamestown is a National Park, so with our Inter-agency Senior Pass (that "Geezer Pass" is one of the best deals I ever got) it only cost us five dollars for both Jamestown and Yorktown.  We were lucky enough to take a guided tour led by a young man who is an archeologist on the staff.  His knowledge of the site was encyclopedic, he was a great speaker, and remarkably funny.  This tour was one of the highlights of the trip.
 Of course, there are the obligatory statues of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas.
We did one day at Colonial Williamsburg, which has grown considerably since our first trip there 30 something years ago.  It was interesting, educational, and hot as blazes the day we were there. 
We toured the Peyton Randolph house.  Randolph was one of the leaders of the revolution that you've probably never heard of - he was attorney general of the colony of Virginia and was scheduled to attend the Continental Congress.  He died just before it happened and was replaced in the delegation by John Hancock.
From Virginia we headed to North Carolina.  Just before we got to Bryson City, I-40 came to a halt.  We saw a sign that said there was construction ahead in seven miles and we were only seven miles from our exit.  It took almost two hours to make it to our exit, and the interstate was still a parking lot as far as we could see.  We eventually made it to our destination.  There was a little confusion when we arrived - the park was full and they had our reservations in Shelton's name - but it all worked out.
We stayed at the Deep Creek Tubing Center and Campground.  It was cool - lows around 50 and highs in the mid 70s - and of course the water was COLD, but there were tubers all over the creek.  They got in the water a few miles upriver within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and rode down - some of them all the way to the campground.  Honey and I really loved this place - it reminded us of New Braunfels, Texas forty years ago - back before Schlitterbahn.
Bryson is only a few miles from Cherokee, NC, and we visited the Oconaluftee Indian Village, and Harrah's Cherokee Casino. The village was interesting and educational, the casino not so much.
All along our route, from Kentucky on, we saw hundreds of bright orange day-lilies growing wild in the ditches. In North Carolina, the state had planted huge beds of yellow day-lilies at highway interchanges and roadside parks.
 We can't leave Bryson City without posting this sign from the RV Park:

 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Our Latest Trip

Well, we're back from our latest trip, safe and sound, but oh so tired.  I hate to admit it, but we may be beginning to feel our ages.
We took a 3810 mile loop through the southeastern USA, and we can now add West Virginia to our "camped there" map.  We had stayed in all the states surrounding the Mountain State, but somehow failed to stop there until this trip.
Our first stop was just south of Texarkana at the COE park on Wright Patman Lake.
Honey had recently completed a patriotic jigsaw puzzle.  I sealed it between two sheets of plastic, and we used it to decorate our campsites along the way.
 Our traveling buddies, the Sheltons, blew a hydraulic line on a slide-out and ended up having to turn around and head for home.  We were able to celebrate Travis's 76th birthday with dinner in Texarkana before we parted ways.
Next stop was Memphis, and the Graceland RV Park - Thank you very much.  We took the Graceland tour, mostly because we were there, but I found it more interesting than I expected it to be.

From there we headed to Nashville and an overnight stop at another very nice COE Park - the Anderson Road Campground on J. P. Priest Lake.  We were a few miles north of there the following morning when we experienced our first bad moment - a blowout on the 5th wheel!  It was a big one - I heard it, felt it, and looked back to see all sorts of debris flying off the side of the trailer.  A call to Good Sam Roadside Assistance got the tire off and the spare down, and we were back on our way.  Yes, it took over two hours, but they got it done.
Our next stop was a true destination stop, the Kentucky Horse Park.  The RV park is very nice - large campsites with lots of well tended grass - but nothing in the park is level. We literally had no place to set a camp chair that wasn't headed down hill.  The park itself is fabulous, and the statuary and the live horses are fantastic.
Several famous horses are buried in the park.  This is the grave of Man O' War.
While we were there, we also made a side trip to a historic Shaker Village.  We learned a lot about this religious community, for example, the Shakers believed that the second coming had already occurred, and they should conduct themselves accordingly.  The village had three leaders - two men and a woman - who made all major decisions for the entire group.
 See the thing sticking out of the roof?  This was the cistern house, and the water reservoir was filled by pumping water from about 1/8 of a mile away. When the reservoir filled the flag would float up signaling when it was time to quit pumping.
One of the Shaker's communal residences from the 1800s.  Men lived on one side, and the women on the other.  Our guide didn't offer any hints about how or when they ever got together, so maybe that's why the cult eventually died out.
We still had that blown out tire, so I went to Walmart for a replacement.  When I went to pick it up, the salesperson who helped me pick it out scanned the work order and said there's been a mistake.  He said they listed the new valve stem and the tire install, but they didn't show the tire itself, and I don't know how to fix it.  He thought for a while, then eventually said "Well Hell, everybody could use a break once in a while." and charged my credit card $14.82.
That has us about halfway along on our trip.  I'll tell you more tomorrow.