Author Archives: RB3

December So Far

Downy Female

Basically, the only thing interesting on this gloomy, warmish December day is my nearly falling on my keister, due to a surprising amount of ice build up on the railroad track, while walking the dog. Of course he chose that moment in time to lunge ahead and enhance my flailing about. I quickly looked around to see if anybody had observed my antics, as this was the main intersection of our small town, and got several smiles from cars going by, one guffaw from the guy staring out the bank window and a singular thumbs up from the old dude in the city pickup across the street. That’s the thing about being new in a very small town, do something stupid and it will be talked about by just about everyone, there’s not that many of them to begin with, and people will know you in no time.

Hairy Male

Part of the fun of living large in a small town is getting invited to a thank you for volunteering/Christmas party at the Senior Living Center, better known as South Grove. The wife and I did some mandatory volunteer work there, the first week we hit town. Mostly it was helping the wife’s Mom, who lives at South Grove, with the annual cookie sale. That wasn’t too bad, we got fed lunch and all the cookies we could handle. The not so happy part came after that and, well, that’s a story for another time. Anyway, since we volunteered so good, we got told to show up at 6pm to get fed, appreciated and entertained.

The dining room, where the event was held, was pretty full of people when we got there and I did not get to choose my seating, a fact the I would come to very much regret as the evening wore on. The food wasn’t bad and we met new people and chatted with them, having to explain, briefly but concisely, what led us to Grove City, long story, and which house did we buy again? It is collectively known as the Dean Smith house and/or the place with the cow painted on the garage door.

Downy Male

About the time we were starting to repeat ourselves, the entertainment showed up and proceeded to take about a decade and a half of our very valuable time, singing every lame, old, obscure song they could remember to do. Small town entertainment at its most Minnesotan. About 3/4’s of the way through, I must have looked somewhat discontent as the lead singer was belting out Feliz Navidad, badly. He suddenly stopped the song and informed the audience that, yes, he couldn’t speak or even sing in Spanish, but by the look on my face, he could tell I was bilingual, fluent in South of the border speak, and it was making him nervous. I have always loved being the butt of jokes and this time was no different. People for the next 10 minutes would crane their necks to get a look at the Mexican that was sitting next to my wife. It was about this time, not sitting next to an exit looked to be a unfortunate oversight on my part. Next up was Harry Belafonte’s Banana boat song and so on. It eventually came to an end, like glaciers eventually do, but I still have the song, Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille, waking me up in the in the middle of the night and intruding into my happy thoughts at odd times of the day and I’m not real happy about that.

A plague of Sparrows

On the house versus us front, we finally have the cat smell, which started off at toxic levels, eradicated. I was not sure that day would ever come. I also have the living room floor sanded to the point where we put down an old victorian floral rug that fits the room perfectly. And more importantly, we have all the leaks, washing machine valve, kitchen sink, upstairs toilet, and upstairs shower, fixed. Finally, no more dripping. I can’t quite imagine how the rental people were able to pay the water bill from all the rapid dripping that was going on. The only thing I couldn’t fix myself was the boiler going out the first week we lived here, on a Saturday night, naturally. This not being our first rodeo with that kinda thing, we had a plan B in our back pocket and lived in warmth until the boiler fix it guy showed up on Monday morning. The best part is he showed me how to fix the thing, under the “teach a man to fish” clause, and basically worked himself out of a job.

We were feeling so good as to how things were going, that we invited the wife’s mother over tohave lunch with us and watch the Vikings lose, which they did. Just like old times. The best part is Mom in law brought rhubarb pie, under the “a good guest always brings a gift to the party” clause. Sweet Pea just loves Grandma and spent the majority of the time leaning on her and being a general nuisance, which is pretty much his job description.

All in all the transition from Kansas to Minnesota has not been too bad. But, it hasn’t gone below zero yet, like I remember the first weeks of December did, back in the old days. The wife has already informed me that she’s not gonna drive if there is snow on the highway. We’ll see how long that lasts when she runs out of frozen yogurt. Hard time’s a comin’.

Small Towning it

I put a bird feeder up, and made sure that I could see it from my seat at the dining room table, just like the setup I had in our Kansas house. It’s the little things that make a home, don’t cha know. It took about a whole 10 minutes before a Nuthatch showed up and it’s been Chickadee and Nuthatch central ever since. My intention with the bird feeder was to provide an alternate lunch for a certain Downy Woodpecker that’s been rat ta tap tapping on my house. Today Woody finally shows up but really couldn’t puzzle out how to get food out of the feeder. Pecking everywhere on the clear plastic tube, but never in the opening where the seed was. I stood at the window shouting at him “No you idiot! Quit pecking at the clear part, look for the hole, you moron!”

I wasn’t the only one watching this spectacle. The neighborhood Finches were hanging around, with their beaks agape, marveling at a bird that couldn’t find food at a feeder. Picture Helen Keller stuck on a sneeze guard, groping around for the buffet. Finches have notoriously short attention spans and after a full minute of watching this, swooped in, kicking Downey Dunce right off the feeder, who promptly went back to chewing on my house.

Small town living, they said, would be “different” than living in the remote wilds of Kansas. Since we had a stone house in Kansas and couldn’t see our neighbors, if a stupid woodpecker tried pecking at our stones, I don’t think I would have heard it, ‘cause our walls were 2 feet thick. But if I did, I’d dust him right off the house with my kitchen 12 gauge. Not saying I don’t have that same 12 gauge installed in our kitchen here, but the Grove Citians (we live in Grove City, pop 637) frown on that kind of thing in the frozen and civilized North. Comes under the Minnesota Nice rules, which ironically is another dang reason why we can’t have nice things.
All of which has got me singing “All I want for Christmas is a pellet gun, a pellet gun, a pellet gun. All I want for Christmas is something silent and sneaky, so I can wish a retarded woodpecker a Merry Christmas.” Yeah, I was reaching on that last verse, but I’ve always been a function over form kinda guy.

New Zip Code

Yeah, I know, it’s been awhile. Being without internet has certain drawbacks to one’s life style. Oh, who am I kidding, it just plain sucks. You’re left with reading the local papers and watching TV for drawing clues as to how far off into the rhubarb our society has gone. The good news is I still have most of my hair. I had the Mrs cut it short so I couldn’t yank it out while screeching at the boob tube. The bad news is the “Smart” TV has threatened to sue for hostile work place conditions. Such is entertainment in the frozen north.

Yup, we made it to Minnesota in one, slightly bedraggled piece. And a very big thanks to Paul and Julie Sutton and Bill and Carla Barnard for helping to load up a 26 foot U-Haul that got stuffed to the gills with all of our things. Some of the boxes that came out of the back of the shop had been patiently waiting to be unpacked since 1998. I figure they’d waited this long, another couple of months should be no big deal. Just imagine their (the inanimate contents of the boxes) surprise when they find out 19 years have gone by and, what do you know, we’re still in Minnesota, about 7 miles from where they got packed up originally. Probably another hostile workplace in the making. Take a number, buddy and the line starts behind the TV.

So, what have we been doing and where did we land? Let’s answer the second question first. The wife’s mother lives in the little tiny town Grove City, MN. She also has a sister and her husband that live there. And housing is quite affordable in little tiny towns of Minnesota, compared to big, sophisticated places, like say Litchfield. Grove City’s population is 635 and Litchfield’s is around 6648. And Litchfield has grocery stores and modern things like that, hence housing is so much more pricey. So the Mrs told me we are going to live in Grove City. I asked were the grocery store was. She said Litchfield, which is 7 miles to the East. Hmm. As I was starting to give her my frowny face look, she popped up with Grove City has a bar AND a liquor store. Well then, let’s start unpacking.

And that brings up where we are staying. The other day, our insurance guy asked us where we were sleeping or were we just homeless. Sarcasm up here, is as natural as breathing. So, I told him he pretty much nailed it, we are mostly homeless, but insured. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that we are staying with the wife’s sister, for which we are very grateful. Technically, we are homeless until Nov 2nd, when our nephew sells us a house that is currently a rental. Yes, our nephew lives around here too. I figure all the family together has a sizable percentage of the population for this little town. Plus all the people that we know and knew from 20 years ago. The trite little saying of “you can never go home again” might be true, but you can get pretty dang close, if you ask me.

Our soon to be new house was built in the Craftsman style, around 1910 or so. I’ve been told it’s in good condition and still has all the built-ins and woodworking that these houses are known for. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs and plumbing in the basement for another bathroom. New roof, new boiler, new windows, new block foundation. It also sports 2 one-stall garages and a large yard. One of the big got to haves in Minnesota is living close or on lake. This place has lake side access and a beautiful view of Chicken Lake, so check that one off the list. I honestly have not seen anything but the outside of this house, but my wife assures me I will love it. This is starting to feel like an HGTV segment of let’s buy a house you haven’t seen and, did I mention I ended up selling most of my woodworking tools cause I couldn’t fit them in the moving truck. Do much more with much less, will be the name of the show.

Well, that brings you up to date, without delving into the gnarly details and you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to yell at the TV again. I just about consider it an aerobic exercise with all the shouting and wild gesturing I end up doing.

Fat Lady wants to sing

And that’s a wrap, folks. All things requested by the buyer are completed. As I was coming off the ladder, a fat diva marched up to me and demanded a stage so she could sing her finale. I told her “Sorry toots, we got no stage and I’m not building one just for you. You can check with the Mrs in the house to see if dishes need done or something useful like that.” You can imagine how that went.

Yesterday, the mail man drove up and wondered just what the heck the long yellow strap was holding down. I told him that it gets windy in these parts and I wanted the roof to stay on until the new owners took possession. It was actually holding my ladder from sliding off the roof. I was going to use rope but these straps hold 3300 lbs and the rope we found was only rated for 200 lbs. Since I had 3 straps, 27 feet each, I hooked it to the ladder and ended up anchoring it to the wife’s vehicle. The chimney install turned into a day and a half of more fun than you can throw a stick at. In fact, so fun, I’d rather not do that particular job again, ever.

At the end of the first day I made sure the wife knew not to drive off without checking first to see if the car was connected to the house. She assured me that that would never happen, but earlier in the day, we saw a picture on the internets of some chick driving down the freeway with a gas hose still connected to her car. The wife then told me she almost did that once, hence my harping about making sure to drive away without dragging the house down the road, with her.

So yeah, I know, it’s been awhile since I posted anything. I’ve been busting my butt to get done and get outta here and not much time for anything else.

About a week ago, started training the dog to put away his wild coyote ways and transition him into a town dog. The first few days were confusing, but he’s always been good about learning new things and so far, he’s still a good boy. He developed a habit of mournful howling when he got left outside and wanted to come in. Since my idea of a town dog is a good boy and quiet to boot, we bought a training collar that prevents barking. It’s from the same people that made a training collar for long range control. We’ve already been through that program and this new collar is just like the old collar. Since dogs think somewhat logically, dog logic, this new collar, in his mind is the old collar with new features. The moment I put it on him, he became A Good Boy. Meaning, no running off, smelling this or that. Just sticking close and listening to me.

I have been putting it on him first thing in the morning and it wasn’t until yesterday morning that he discovered the new, no bark or howl feature. The collar has a learning algorithm and steps up the correction only if it needs to. Ole Sweet Pea was outside, in the early morning dark and decided to mournfully howl, just a bit to express his displeasure at being left out too long. I was upstairs, putting some heat on my back and heard him start his routine, which suddenly cut off, after about the third note. He didn’t make a peep after that. And since the collar had learned his voice, today when he tried to howl, he got a half howl out and stopped. Since he’s not yelping, I know he’s getting a vibration that doesn’t hurt him. Just like the other training collar. So we’ll end up with a good boy that’s quiet and well behaved and everybody else’s dog will be barky, jumping on ya, and general pains in the butt. Living in town is like that.

Win some – Lose some

After living rent free in my head for 8 years or so, I can cross the tile job off my list. It went way easier than it did 25 years ago, when I last lifted a notched trowel. Instead of damp sponging after applying the grout, we sprinkled dry grout over what I had just finished and rubbed it in with a towel. Did that twice for each go round, there were 3, and sat down at the finish line to have a cool refreshing barley beverage. If I’m not careful, I may just work myself out of a job soon.

Continuing on the winning streak… Are you tired of winning yet? The 3 orphan windows, with big sad eyes, found new forever homes, replacing the horrid combination pieces of crap, in the upstairs west bedroom in the wood side of the house. And the beauty thing of it was, I could do the whole removal and install from in the house. When I was 30, I thought nothing of hoisting a 300 pound roll of carpet on my shoulder and trotting up 3 flights of steps. Now, when I’m within spittin’ distance of 60, I tend to think twice about crawling up ladders with a 50 pound window clutched in my arm with the busted shoulder. Time and gravity will do you in, if you’re not careful. So, with age and experience, comes conniving and plain old cheating. Remember kids, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

Got the 3 windows in, painted the sills and it was all done before the fat lady even came out of her dressing room. Fat Diva’s are really quite useless at home remodeling.

But, there was still a gnat in our brandy, so to speak. My truck was still in the shop and the mechanic was telling me he needed just one more drive around town to make sure it was working. Every time he drove it, something new popped up. My original complaint was with cruise control on, the overdrive engaged, all by itself and disabled the use of cruise control, which just plain sucks when you are driving the long and winding roads where we live. I told him the lack of truck was holding up the whole show. One more drive he said, and then come and get it. I did and on the way home, wait for it, set the cruise control and 90 seconds later, my old friend, Mr Overdrive, took charge and the rest of the trip home was laced with some inventively blue language.

So I can drive the dang thing if I don’t use cruise control which is kinda like living in Cuba, I’d wager.

Details for Jesus

One last door this time, sweet Jesus
What? Another door in line?
Wrapping my finger with duct tape, it’s bleedin
Just one last door this time.

Jesus was a carpenter, so I think it all works.
Those lines popped into my head and wouldn’t let me go back to sleep. Being 2:30 AM, that was a little inconvenient. At least the wife thought so.  And if you kids haven’t heard the song, here’s the real deal. One toke over the line

To say I am sick of installing doors would be an understatement. We are in the final stretch of getting this project finished and because my truck has still not come home from its summer vacation with the mechanic, I thought I would take this time to punch out some of the minor details needing to be done. Our original timeline had us running up to Menards with the truck to get the underlayment and vinyl for the dining room and a final piece of cement board for the tile in the living room. None of which fits into the wife’s SUV and without my truck, we be out of luck.

So close to finishing this project but can’t get the supplies needed to finish it. Without too much effort, I think I could wrangle a hit country song out of this deal, but I sing like a donkey braying and the dog howls in harmony, and who needs an earful of that, eh?

One of the other small details was the mudroom floor. It had not been installed with any degree of finesse and had then been treated poorly. The Mrs and I decided to try some self leveling floor and from the literature it sounded like it would do everything but whiten our teeth. We went about the job, mixing up small batches, ‘cause I don’t own a big enough drill to mix the whole bag, like the bag said I should. Doing what yah can with what yah got. Turns out the small batches didn’t like each other much and tended to ride over the top and well, all the holes and cracks got filled in and some of the floor even leveled out, but not enough that you’d notice it. I let the stuff dry overnight and sanded the ridges and filled in the voids with 20 minute hot mud. Then we went whole hog and splurged on a garage floor epoxy, with sprinkles, and now it looks pretty dang sweet, or as my Dad would say, “Like a diamond in a goat’s butt.” He always had a way with words.

Called the mechanic and he said what with the 4th o’July holiday, parts would be

late in coming and the truck wasn’t ready yet. Hmm. I had 2 storm doors waiting in my shop and they were next on the punch list. They always say that the first one you do is learning. You are getting schooled on how to put up with goofy instructions, missing parts and what to do when you have to make it up as you go along. And boy howdy, it was all that. The box says a 30 minute install. It took me all damn day. Shimming the door frame to make the new storm door fit was a lot of fun. The next day, second verse, just like the first, but now we got storm doors.

And if the truck don’t come home tomorrow, 3 orphan windows with big, sad eyes, are living in my shop, hoping for a new home. They might not have long to wait. At least it will be a glorious break from doors. Thinking strongly about renting when we finally move.

Portents in the Sky

I noticed an unusual cloud formation yesterday afternoon. The weather nerds had been claiming basketball sized hail, biblical rains and tornadic winds, like they always do, and as it almost always does, the sure to cause damage to life and limb weather missed us by a country mile. I wandered out to get a better look at the clouds and brought my camera, ‘cause if you don’t have pictures, it didn’t happen. Pro Tip garnered from numerous internet forums.

We have a whole passel of buzzards that like to hang around our place, and this year a breeding pair of Red Tailed Hawks has set up shop somewhere in our forest. That’s what the 1st Realtors claimed our place had. A forest. Only trees in the whole area, the one realtor chick claimed. The way they talked, I was wondering if I could maybe interest one of them big companies that clear-cut entire mountains to make a bid on our “forest” and we could skip the whole selling the place and live in high style with the…

Yeah, maybe not. Which is what I told them when they came back and wanted to list our place.

So, I was wandering down the driveway, looking at this cloud and next thing I know, I’ve got 7 buzzards floating directly over my head at a somewhat alarmingly low altitude, with the Red Tail Hawk just above them, screeching “Hey Dude!” For a moment there, I was wondering if the wife was going to collect that hefty chunk of life insurance I had taken out for moments very similar to this. Nope, turns out, the buzzards along with their new little buddy, “Gilligan” the hawk, were out for their usual afternoon patrol. They had launched off our silo and hadn’t quite hit a thermal to lift them high in the sky. Or, they were just being neighborly and saying “Howdy” before heading out for a snack.

I’m not quite sure how the hawk fits in with these guys. They eat old dead stuff and he likes live things that he has processed himself. None of them would sit still enough for a decent photo. I don’t really blame them, as I find it hard to sit still when I’m hungry too.

Gonna miss the friendly neighbors when we move. No, not enough to stay, well maybe if the Weyerhaeuser Company comes through with the big timber contract, but probably not. We don’t have chiggers in Minnesota and the catfish that everybody raves about down here, gets buried in the garden up there, where it belongs.

T Minus 2 Weeks and Holding

Houston, we may have a problem…

A slight hitch in our giddy up with the house this week. While I was rolling last week, I built a new back door to replace the 1910 version that had been beat like a rented mule and had seen better days probably about 3 decades ago. The bottom panels, which had both split, were about a quarter inch in width and tended to let more in than they kept out. I think all the doors in the stone part of the house had been store bought and purchased at the same time. Every one of them are much thinner that you would think for that time period and they all had chatter marks in the wood from a dull wood planer blade. I suppose, like everything else, they were offered a choice between good, better and best for doors and other household things. The homeowners here either were very frugal or didn’t have much for walking around money. It was about 25 or 30 years since the house had been built and it was time for a little remodeling. 100 years later, we show up and think the same thing. I am sure the 1910 owners would be surprised to see not much had changed since their time, about as surprised as we were at least.

And since I go by the old Red Green saying “If the ladies don’t find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy” this house was dang near full time employment for a guy that couldn’t afford a better door, but could dang sure build one. The Mrs and I dropped by one of the big box stores, ok, drove 32 miles ‘cause we live way out in the sticks, and picked out 3 of the straightest 2×6’s, came home and started making sawdust. Made a decision early on to go old school with the bottom panel. The old door had raised panels that were embedded in the door and a bitch to fix when they crack and they always crack. Instead, I milled up some moldings from barn wood to capture a 3/4 inch plywood panel I used. That baby ain’t gonna split and you’ll break your foot trying to kick it in. I got bonus Gaia love points for reusing glass from an old window that we had replaced in the bedroom. Painted her brown like the old one and stuck it in the hole, and if one door is good, 2 doors are gooder, I built a screen door to go with it. The material came from a door of a greenhouse that I had built on the South side of the house 3 or 4 winters ago. It needed just a few tweaks and bingo, now it’s a brown screen door.

So the mudroom exterior doors are finished and next up was tile around the brick wall for the wood stove. The living room floor kinda rolls around a bit, as does the ceiling, so installing the cement board was interesting, but nothing new. They didn’t worry too much about level, square or plumb back when they built the place, and I just followed the curves and hummed really loud. Something must have took umbrage with the lack of plumbness or my humming, ‘cause the next day my back had filed a hostile workplace grievance and we were not on speaking terms for a good couple three days. About the same time, my faithful Dodge truck, which has moved us to and fro for the past 2 decades, came down with a bad case of the rats. As in rats chewing wiring, again, and causing my cruise control and overdrive mysteriously to cost me more money. Into this life, a little rain must fall. My Dad was not a mechanic, so I never learned the mysterious art of making broken vehicles work, but he wasn’t much of a carpenter either, so I musta got that from my Mom.

Back sucks, truck’s broke and the work is waiting. Finally could bend a bit on Saturday and popped in the majority of the tiles. The Mrs helped with the laying part, which is nice so I didn’t have the danger of possibly going blind by going lone-layer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I had been a flooring contractor way back when and had done this kind of thing, oh, about 25 years ago, but it’s like falling off a bike. You never forget how. I had a friend ask me how my knees are doing compared to 25 years ago. I didn’t really think about it, when I have to get on my knees to do something, I get on my knees. They are holding up quite a bit better than my back, which tends towards high maintenance when it’s not feeling the love. A neurosurgeon that had looked at the problem a while back had stated that I appeared to have been stupid most of my life. “No,” I said, “just blue collar.” I think he might have mumbled, “same thing.” I was quite late on paying his bill.

Next up is the mudroom floor, *sad oboe*. It also looks rode hard and put away wet and we were advised to maybe spruce it up a bit. Our new realtor loved everything else, but was hatin on the mudroom floor. I flat out forgot where I put my dynamite, so I’ll resort to putting some floor leveler on it and maybe a garage floor top coat. We’ll see. More lipstick for the pig.


I grew up with an interest in nature. I think most kids from my childhood did, and I credit my Mom for telling me to get my hinder outside and don’t come in until supper. Just you, a couple of your besties from the neighborhood and the great outdoors. Mandated by our Mothers, we were forced into freedom to be kids and it was glorious. However, for every freedom given, there’s a bit of penance due. When it was supper time, I trudged into the house, muddy and quite often bleeding, but smiling all the same. A vigorous wash up was inflicted upon me, and the family sat down to supper, which mostly consisted of a hamburger something and canned vegetables. I didn’t mind so much the beef component, but mushy canned veggies were no bueno in my book and I spent some long, lonely hours at the table, sullenly staring at the hideous things until my dear old Dad would tell Mom to give it a rest and let the boy just go to bed. My dear Mother, being 102 pounds of rompin stompin German, did not always relent with demure grace.

Kinda got side-tracked a bit there. Let’s see, nature, meaning bugs and furry/feathered/scaly things. I like ‘em. So does the Mrs. She’s the only woman I know that likes spiders and snakes. I’ve brought, more than once, so called deadly serpents into the house to show her, and she just about gave me that “come hither look.” The flip side of that is that I’ve had grown men visibly quail at the mere mention of snakes and I’ve been forced to take a notch out of their Man card because of their Nancy boy ways. I have a feeling that those dudes might have liked canned vegetables a little bit too much in their youth.

Living in an old house, out on the wild Kansas prairie, requires lots of work. If you’re lucky, sometimes you’ll get a local or two showing up to help out and that’s much appreciated. We just put new windows in the stone part of the house and these modern things only have half a screen that likes to hang tough on the bottom half of the window. I like half screens because I quite often am taking pictures of some cool thing through the window and glass is a whole lot more transparent than a screen plus glass. The down side to that is when the screen is in the upright and locked position of the upper half, it leaves a small gap between the 2 window panes, where enterprising bugs can wiggle through. And lately that’s been fire flies. We get fire flies in the kitchen when I get up at some ungodly hour and next thing you know, they are blinking right in my face, which is sorta cool, but not when you get a half dozen of them hanging around waiting for dark and looking a lot like cockroaches. (Editor’s note: fire flies are what some of us call lightning bugs.) (Author’s note: people who like to pretend that they’ve been magically born and raised in the South and/or like to use Southern euphemisms to put on aires, are kinda silly.)

Anyhow, I was working myself up to a “final solution” when a cute little hunting spider crawled through the bug gap and proceeded to dine on excess blinky bugs. You can’t turn down help like that and he was invited to stay. Now and then, he would tend to wander, but a little judicious spider wrangling was employed and now he lives in the North kitchen window and handles all our minor bug problems.

The outside of the house had a volunteer, in fact 2 of them. Our South side door has an old wooden deck that hides lots of crawly things that just love to sneak in the house. Sweet Pea would take an interest, now and then, but lately, it’s been too hot and he just lays around all wilted from the heat. I stepped outside the other day and just about stepped on our 1st helper, a collared lizard. These guys drive the dog crazy, but they must have some German in them, as they are still hanging around, looking surly. Since this big and truculent looking bad boy showed up, the amount of buggage that has tried to enter the house has dropped to only wasps and hornets. I don’t mind them, cause it’s lots of fun running though the house, swinging at whatever flying menace has dared to enter the zone of doom. Bugs may fly in, but they get carried out, most often in kleenex.

The second guy that showed up to help (this is almost getting like a Home Depot parking lot) was something that most of you will loose your sh*t over, but you needn’t be so silly. He was on the path from the house to the parking area. A path created mostly by my wife, because she is convinced that chiggers, the bane of our rural existence, are in all the grass and hence she walks this path enough to practically make it dirt. So, this guy was in the path when she went out to get the mail. She ran back in and said come out quickly to see this, and I did. A beauty of a gopher snake was placidly sunning himself and I asked if he was from around these parts. He didn’t say much, just stuck his black forked tongue out a few time and I took that for a yup. Since I had him in a chatty mood, I mentioned that we happen have lots of mice and rats that needed killin. Again with the tongue. These boys are not noted conversationalists, but we struck a deal and that is good, cause my truck is in the shop again for something chewing on wires, and that is starting to rile me some. These snakes are the most common in Kansas and eat lots of mice and rats and many other pest-like things. Probably the most beneficial animal on the whole property, not counting my wife of course. You take your help where you can find them and be dang thankful that these guys are local and you don’t have to worry about them getting weirdo ideas like trying to change our home and ways to their home and ways, which they left. You may be thinking Californians and they’re a problem, but home grown, no matter how goofy. We’re moving to Minnesota and nobody wants to talk about the elephant or camel in the land of 10,000 lakes. Oops, did that slip out? I thought I was talking to myself again. Gonna be an interesting move.

I’ll leave you with more info on this cool snake. Try to not act like you’re 3 again and monsters are going to eat you. You’ll have a lot less stress in your life. You’re welcome ;~)

The Gopher Snake, also known as the Bullsnake, is harmless. It is the largest snake in Kansas, growing up to 8 feet in length. It has keeled scales; a pattern of 33–73 large brown or black blotches on a brownish yellow body. Tail with alternating yellow and black bands. Belly yellowish with variable black mottling. Young same as adults. Lives in open grasslands as well as open woodland and woodland edge; common in cultivated fields where there is an abundance of rodents. Active from April to November; generally diurnal, basking in the sun or foraging for food, but becomes nocturnal during hot summer months. Number of eggs per clutch ranges from 3-22. Constrictor. It is the most economically beneficial snake in Kansas, consuming large quantities of rodents and saving farmers from much grain loss; also eats pocket gophers, rabbits, ground squirrels, birds and bird eggs. Emits a loud “hiss” when disturbed or frightened.

T minus 3 weeks and counting

This is it, the final offensive. The push to break our enemy, to drive him before us, and to hear the lamentations of his women, or just get the damn house finished, sold and move North. We called a local Realtor, one that had a pretty good rep for selling country property. Both the Mrs and I have been Realtors in a past life. We’re not talking reincarnation or anything hand wavy like that. Our time in Missouri, or Misery as I like to call it, was not built on the sound foundation of happy memories. Being a Realtor can do that to a guy. The people in the business had a saying, “Buyers are liars” to which I added, after having some experience in the field, “As are sellers and Brokers and so on…” Sure, it’s all supposed to be on the up and up, but so is the Government. You get my drift.

Anyway, our Realtors said they would be out in a week to see the place. Hmm. A week. Could it be these guys are so busy that it would take that long to come see the place and get a contract. Or maybe, they weren’t all that hepped up to come out and see another old house. Everybody knows everybody in these parts, and sure as heck these guys knew this place and had already formed an opinion from seeing it when the last people lived here. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

We let it ride and see what would come of it. 3 of them showed up, late, and did a brief tour of the place, didn’t ask many questions and didn’t really look the place over much. Said they would crunch some numbers and get back to us as to what the place was worth. A week later, a single Realtor showed up and told us what they thought the value of the property was, and that value was something just a bit North of what we paid for the place, 10 years ago. The Mrs glanced at me and I saw her tense up a bit. Back when we had horses, we mostly dealt with Arabs and Saddlebreds. Never had much truck with Quarter Horses but lots of people like ‘em. Arabs will let you know, early, if you and he are gonna have a problem. Like sometimes before you got out to the barn. Saddlebreds were pretty easy going, they had their moments sure, but tended to calm down quickly and not hold a grudge. In Kansas, we got our first Quarter Horse. I had always heard that you could never tell with them, until the last damn second when all hell broke loose, if you and him were gonna butt heads. Turns out to be true. Our Quarter Horse was Mr Congenial until he wasn’t. I’ve been told I’m a pretty laid back kinda guy, until I’m not. The Realtor found out I more resemble a Quarter Horse when push comes to shove. She left with us promising to talk about things and maybe call her, sometime.

We had a pow wow and decided to quit messin’ with the local yokels. The next day, Mrs Former Realtor called somebody in Wichita and he showed up the following day. He gets out of the car, Sweet Pea cuddles up to him and we spent maybe 15 minutes chatting, acting like we’re old friends, out in the front yard. He loved the place, took notes, admired my drones, talked about guns and hunting, and then we sat down to brass tacks. What do I have to do to make you happy, he asked and I told him. Mamma always said, if you get a chance to go, go big and so I told him what I wanted. He didn’t say no, just that it would take some time. I know we are not going to get what I want for the place, but given the time, I think this old boy might just get us what we need. I told him I needed about 3 weeks to tie up loose ends. He called today to ask how things are going. I told him I was in the process of breaking my enemy and hope to soon drive him before me. “So, right on schedule, then?” Yup, I said. He laughed and told me to keep him in the loop.