Category Archives: General

Anything square thing that does not fit in the round hole.

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.

Locals

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.

Kitchen Impediment

Our kitchen, newly revamped, gussied up and painted, has a particular problem. It had the same problem before we went to all of the trouble of spiffing things up to sell. And to be honest, it’s partly our problem because we insist on using the kitchen as our primary living space. If you ask the wife, she’ll tell you it’s really just my problem, but really, it’s not that much of a problem for me. I mean, I’m just sitting there, doing my own thing, not bothering anybody, well, unless the Mrs walks by and I feel it’s necessary to handle the goods, by which I mean, anytime she gets within arms reach. What’s the point of being married to a hot, retired hippie chick if you don’t at least make some effort?

Got distracted there. Back to the issue at hand. We call it the long dog syndrome. Ole Sweet Pea, when he stretches out, spans a good portion of the wife’s cooking area. And being I am the guy that has taken him on long walks, thrown sticks that never seem to come back, helped him put the kibosh on rats hiding under things that he can’t get at, well he likes to lay at my feet. And stretch out, all the way to the stove. Which causes the Chef to mutter some choice words when trying to choreograph the morning breakfast. We just look at her with What? in our eyes and can’t figure out who put a gnat in her orange juice. One would think that her solution would be a shorter dog, but nope. Her stated opinion on dogs with short legs is “what’s the point”? I nudged Ole Pea and told him that maybe irritating the person who feeds him, might be a non-winning idea. He scooched his one leg in, maybe an inch or so, and that was his concession to compromise. This boy has had a habit of being a bit hard headed. I gave him a Pro Tip that the lady of the house is just as hard headed and not to push his luck. He told me not to worry, hippies are non violent. I barked out a laugh and told him that was 40 some years ago, and it never seemed to slow her down when her inner Skandi Viking got her blood up. He gave me a hard look and right after that, his legs got a lot shorter.

Running on Fumes

It started out, as most days do, with an early morning wake up and a quick check of the weather. These days, my 4am is what most people’s 7am is. The early morning is a quiet time, with occasionally just a whisper of wind. Living in Kansas, you treasure those still moments, and that also makes it the best time to see fireflies. Saw my first one of the season, last week, and he announced his presence with a glaring neon green flash right in front of my nose.

Of late, we’ve been looking for still mornings with a few clouds to add some zing to the sunrise. Smooth talker that I am, I badgered the Mrs into trying her own drone on for size. She was a bit apprehensive at first, but gamely strapped herself in for a little aerial photography. And today was perfect. A nice mix of clouds before sun up, to add some drama for picture taking.

I got her all set up and she pushed the Go Fly button and off her drone went. Next I sent my drone on the same Greet the Sun mission, but at 400 feet vs her 150 foot altitude. While I generally create any excuse to bump into my wife, head on collisions in mid air loses a bit on the romance scale. Things went well and we came back in the house to have a cup of tea and view our sun rise photos and post them on FaceBook. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it? One would think that should have set the tone for the rest of the day, however…

Her plan was to head to Ark City, pick up the grandkid and go shopping and maybe see some chicks and ducklings at Orschelns, a local farm store that coincidentally stocks farm stuff. Not always a given in these strange and modern times. My plan was to use a jig I made to mortise a door I was building. An hour of so later, I’m out in the shop, covered in sawdust and muttering curses at my mortising attempt, when I get a call from the Mrs. saying what a bust the trip turned out to be.

No grandkid because the people in charge of the grandkid were still drooling into their pillow and it’s now 10am. A 4 year old little girl answered the door and seemed to be the most level headed individual in the whole crazy house. She informed the Mrs that those concerned had not yet roused from their wild living induced slumbers and thanks for coming. It seems modern youths, 4 year old females excluded, don’t seem to know the value of keeping their word or even being awake when life comes knocking at the door.

I, on the other hand was having communication issues with my router and door frame material. Which caused me to go to Plan B and a few less angry wood chips to grind under my heel. After confirming Plan B was a go, I decided to change venues and mow the pasture before it rained again. The 2N Ford fired right up, after sitting all winter and we went to mowing. And of course, the mower deck decided that it was such a beautiful day, what say we throw a bearing and grind that outside blade gearing to dust. Why not, it was a bit breezy and my eyes were starting to itch, sounds like a good idea. Of course, I had a plan B for this too. You do have a plan B for your projects, don’t you? Mine’s a brush hog, what’s yours?

The lady of the house gets home, we bitch about our setbacks and have a fine lunch. During lunch, I mentioned that I needed more gas for the tractor, weed whip, chainsaw and things of that nature and also needed to pick up 3 pieces of black pipe from the boys at WISCO, our local industrial hardware purveyor. So we set off for town and ended up running into road construction on the North end of the entry to town. Kansas is famous for vague and confusing cone placement. New Mexico has the same problem, but we live in Kansas now. We get flagged to a stop, cool our heels and watch the flag lady get sunburned. A seemingly long time later, we get waved through to the other side, where the flag dude is waving for us to hustle it up. So I did, and failed to notice where the hell the lane we were supposed to drive in, was. So I improvised and picked what I thought was the right way to go. By the time I hit the first cone barrier, blocking my way, the Mrs helpfully mentions that maybe we weren’t supposed the be in this lane. I glanced in my review mirror and noticed all the rest of the sheep dutifully trundling along in the correct lane. Well, screw that, when you’ve chosen your path, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission and stepped on the gas. I slalomed through 3 successive cone barriers of some very tight openings between the cones. I gotta say, when it comes to sticking a rampaging 7 foot wide Dodge Ram truck through a 6 and half foot opening and not bobbling either cone, I still got it.

We laughed all the way to the South end of town, non rule following rebels that we were, and stopped to put some gas in my 2 gas cans I had in the bed of the pickup. That went well until I slid the very full plastic gas containers, standard 5 gallon gas cans, sold all over the US of A, as approved for fuel storage and transport, to the front of the truck bed. I didn’t push hard and the second one just kissed the front of the truck and, wait for it…. busted. The bottom corner of the plastic gas can broke and started burbling highly flammable gas all over the back of my truck. Mom always told me there’d be days like today.

I jumped up into the truck and tipped the gushing gas can upside down. Which stopped the gushing part from leaking, much, but the spout end started dripping. Now, I’m not a guy to freak out over a five gallon gas can spilling its guts all over a gas pump that sits on top of a tank holding a couple thousand gallons of highly explosive fuel and insist that other people share in my misery. No sir, I like to keep and handle my troubles to myself. I made a command decision to get away from the apocalyptic scenario playing in my mind where the gas station and South end of town goes up in a whump, and take our ticking fumey time bomb next door to a very large parking lot. The Mrs, another cool head in a jam, suggested we get another gas can and transfer said loose fuel to an unbroken gas can, rather than leak 5 gallons of gas all over a hot muffler and go boom. I endorsed this as a winning idea and she trotted off to procure a brand new gas can. I stayed with the vehicle, to prevent Mr John Q Public from walking near by and flipping a cigarette in my local direction. From past singed experience, I had learned that fumes travel an amazingly long way on a hot tar surface. I phoned the Mrs and said maybe a couple gallons of water would be a good thing too. Roger.

She comes out, and I saw how she paused to see if the parking lot was on fire, and heads to the truck. I took one gallon of water and doused the bed of the truck and used the empty gallon jug for a funnel. Now, my idea of fun on an 88 degree day, is not pouring gasoline out of a broken gas can into a shiny new gas can in the middle of a public place. There was some spillage that added to the fun, but I got the gas from one can to another without going up in flames and noted that only about a gallon of fuel got loose. Took the other gallon of water and doused the bed of the truck. Pro Tip: Did you know that gasoline turns milky colored when mixed with water and floats on top, but will still burn?

The wife, in her authoritative mother voice, informed all in earshot that maybe a time out for me, the truck and gas fumes would be a good idea. I didn’t argue, this time, and so we took a walk around the shopping mart and grabbed a few more gallons of water. After a good 15 minutes to let the majority of the gasoline smell dissipate, headed back to meet our fate.

As we were at the checkout, I told the wife that if we notice a yellow orange glow coming from the parking lot and lots of screaming, just act nonchalant and head back in and grab some hotdogs, buns and mustard. Call it my plan B. Didn’t need it, so we doused the truck with a few more gallons of water and decided to leave now before the EPA and FEMA got involved. I told her to not buckle up when we drove off, just in case. Murphy musta been busy with someone else, because we were able to leave the parking lot and a somewhat large puddle of watery gas without any sort of kaboom.

Made it to the North end of town and WISCO, totally unsinged, and the boys got a laugh at my story of a soon to be Superfund Site near the South end of town. As we headed home, still not buckled in for luck, I mused that any gas spill you can walk away from, without your hair on fire, is a good one. On the way out of town, we waved to the road construction boys as their faces showed recognition of the crazy Dodge Ram Slalom contestant. The East German judge marked us down a couple of points for excessive gas fumes, but whatever, man.

Eggs and History

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, reading a fascinating web article on the Industrial Revolution and the premise of if the British had dropped the ball, how soon would it happen again. The consensus was, probably never.

My slightly svelte and totally delicious Mrs Chef, is whipping up breakfast as I bend her ear on my take of what I have read. She has a history degree from some hippie commune University on the Left Coast and we tend to have some interesting chats about historical things. I have always had a keen interest in the past, fostered by my Mother’s taste in books. She had a collection of Elizabethan murder mysteries that I burned through after mastering the mysterious black magic of making letters into words. The Weekly Reader was a hard core favorite of mine, and as soon as I got my first library card, pestered the Librarian with my eclectic tastes in reading material. I more than once was told that a particular book that I had requested was “beyond me” or not appropriate to my reading level. It was here, my disdain for authority bloomed. In fact, my mother had to intervene, more than once, by telling the blue haired nazi to “give him the damn book so he’ll shut up about it” or words to that effect. In later years I was the go-to guy for the Trivial Pursuit game.

All of which brings us to this morning’s conversation. After prattling on for a good 10 minutes, I took a breath and informed my wife that I recently awarded myself a Master’s of History and other odd stuff degree. I paused, looked at the wife and asked, “I can do that, right?” She responded, while sliding the eggs onto the toast, “I don’t see why not, when they’re handing out posthumous degrees and sh*t like that.” Alright then. It’s a done deal. Pass the rooster sauce, please.

Birthday Boy

Today is Sweet Pea’s 5th birthday. And as a dog that likes to live each day as the best day ever, he started early by eating some lizards and barfing all over the dining room floor in the wee hours of the night. It has become a spring ritual of sorts. First bunnies, lizards, wood rats or what have you of the warm season, over-indulge and spend the next few weeks with you and the alpha dog that opens the door to let you out, getting less sleep than optimal. No worries though, you’ve got a comfy couch and fluffy pillow to power nap on, and hit the afternoon like you mean it. The alpha chick that cleans up after him, had a bit of curl to her lip this morning. Consequently, dog and I will be spending the majority of our day communing with nature, for our health, dontchaknow. Scandi babes on the warpath are not to be trifled with.