Sunday, February 28, 2021


Shut down in 2018, 1.8 GW of Texas coal-fired capacity, headed for the scrapyard. Could easily supply 500,000 homes; give or take. All the infrastructure still in place.

China has 2,363 coal fired- building 1,171 more... Total = 3,534
USA has 15      - building 0 more...     Total = 15  



Go ahead, turn on the news!!

The combined world has got be laughing their asses off at us.



The bride's foot surgery went as planned. Trip home fine. Pain meds good. 

I am not a fan of spiders and snakes. Now add to that a steel pin in one of my wife's toes that the doctor has adorned with clown nose. Pin goes in somehow somewhere for awhile and then is taken out. How in the hell does that happen?  

I am paranoid while helping my wife move around, that we catch that pin on something, she will fall and her foot will come off. My wife will scream and I will faint dead on the floor. Sooooo, we are ohhhhh so careful. She will not share her meds. 

Next appointment tomorrow for a look see and re-bandage. 

I think Texas has some of the best everyday folk and neighbors in the country. Breakfast casserole was delivered Thursday night (with instructions) for Friday morning. Pineapple-banana energy boosting smoothie, too!  No cooking for me. 

Her brother, from Dallas, came out a day early to help his wife deliver brisket and a pot of Mexican soup with chips. No cooking for me. 

We have several wonderful, just down the road, neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Cattleman and Mr. and Mrs. Dallas. 

Mrs. Cattleman and Mr. Cattleman brought over the breakfast casserole. Then Mrs. Cattleman's mother's recipe meatballs, potato casserole and peaches and whipped cream dessert.  Mrs. Cattleman and my wife are like two junior high girls who cannot help but constantly laugh and giggle in each other's company. Mr. Cattleman and I are on our own during any visit. We do just fine with man talk, but watching my wife having fun in a purest form puts a smile on my face. 

Mrs. Dallas made and Mr. Dallas brought over home made soup for lunches. Lemon vodka shots just in case (heh). No cooking for me. 

I have let everyone know that I will be very sick starting the middle of this coming week and will not be able to cook. Have said how much I like prime rib and home made spaghetti. Warm homemade apple pie has always helped me heal so much faster. 

In all honesty, if I told Mrs. Cattleman this, with a straight face, there would be prime rib at our door step this coming week and she would have that shit eating grin on her face to let me know she is not a gal to ever come in second on anything. To include a practical joke. I would have no come back. Game over!!

So life is good this past week in east Texas. Wife on the mend having two new foot repairs in two years. She brags there is nothing left to fix. 

I have not said a word!!


Rain this past week. A couple inches after planting strawberries and radishes. I think my lemon trees are not going to make it. The hard freeze, even though inside the shed with heater, did not helped. Some bugs/blight and I have been treating as recommended. Just don't know. 

I may have saved the onion crop. Trimmed off all dead frozen tops. Stalks look green and strong. We will see.

More greens being advertised in the local feed stores. Time to get them planted too. I am behind.

Been a gigantic month for blog hits here. A little over a thousand or more a month the norm. This past month, 8200 hits. Anomaly?

Already March. Clocks turned up one hour soon. Sun higher and higher each day. Except for un-foreseen events, winter in east Texas lasted 10 days. 

Thanks for the visit.

Sunday, February 21, 2021



Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli. Excellent video and music.


Found on I think the Bettye LaVette version is gold! 

Take 5 minutes of your time and crawl into the music and lyrics with her. How far down do you have to reach inside to sing like this?


Shared via a friend up north from his cousins in AR. Thank you Dennis and Kim and your sense of humor. Great story telling. 


I stopped by at our local chain grocery store after checking the mail Friday. I was curious more than anything. They were not overly busy. 

A lot of empty shelves. Meats (except some pork) all gone. Most all dairy and eggs gone. Some bread, one loaf per customer. Fine. 

Feeding a family was still doable. Canned goods, frozen goods and other assorted food items to get through a few more days. Not sure how all of this held out through this weekend. 

I talked to one of the gals working there and she said they were not going to get a shipment until Monday. 

Generally speaking, the normal shipping of goods and services has been challenged here in Texas. Probably going to take some time to get back to normal. 

Snow and ice melting into the mess that follows storms like the ones passing through this past week. Friday was the last "hard freeze" from this event.

From what I have seen, folk here in east Texas and the Piney Woods have not lost power. 

I have learned that all the roads in and out of Dallas and surrounding towns are fine. Our small area still has snow covered roads now on the melt this weekend.

One of our neighbors says that he has never seen weather here in East Texas like we had last week. Never that much snow and never the extreme cold. Covers the past 75 years. 



We were treated to a gallon of raw milk, three inches of cream settled on the top and a dozen and a half of fresh brown eggs "from up north of here." There has been an exchange of foods within the neighborhood during this storm. Neighbors checking on neighbors. Kitchen cooking is a way to pass time and the sharing gets folks out of the house and down the road to visit. 

The raw milk memories of 60-70 years ago instantly brought back at the receiving of an ice cold gallon of fresh from the cow, milk. A few quick shakes and the cold glasses of milk are heaven. Just heaven. Full flavor and body. 

Fried fresh eggs glow in the frying pan and are in of themselves another treat. 


HT to The Feral Irishman. Thank you.

And thankyou to you for your visit today. 


Friday, February 19, 2021


Before you read the blog today, open this, full screen, sound up. Maybe you have seen it, maybe not. Regardless, it never ever gets old. 


Find the driveway and the main road. Snowing again, although hard to tell in this pic. (earlier this past week)

Several things I knew for sure leaving NH and moving to Texas was that I would never ever have to deal with snow and freezing temperatures. I had heard that February in Texas was winter, but for the most part, a no never mind. 

I also knew with great certainty that I would not need nor want the Dodge truck and thus left it behind on the first trip south. There would be no need to do man maintenance things/build things/fix things and haul things. Nope, all of those days were behind me. 

We were gonna travel and eat our way through the southern states. Answer to no one. Some chest pounding when the left shoulder would allow. 

Wellll; any kind of self sufficient living nearly impossible without a pickup truck in Texas. And this week, again mucking through snow clearing paths, and working new home systems to keep them running. Hands so cold coming back into the house that I cannot unzip my boots. 

The wife helps unfurl old NH winter clothes we had brought with us. Wet clothes into the dryer and a hot cup of tea to bring my fingers back. Snowing again because it can. Storm #2, bless its heart!
Complaining? Nope! Story telling. 

Would not change a day in this passing year for love nor money. We are happy as clams at high tide. But it does appear that a few of my original assumptions are in an adjustment stage. The old adage of never say never is as true as ever. 

With advice from friends up north and the help of a great neighbor, our pipe freezing problem was soon solved and hot/cold water back on line. Advice from the company that installed the septic system provided a cure and within an hour the purging of the clear water from the sprinkler system was working. I am not sure that it wasn't probably working that whole time. 

Regardless, now know the system better for winter watch.

Old school fix. Those old 100W incandescent light bulbs used because they give out just enough heat to prevent freezing and not damage equipment. 

My parents use to hang a 60W bulb behind the old wash machine in the garage and it always kept it from freezing.


Pathways shoveled, cars cleared of snow load and running for a half hour each. 

Wife's brothers have been hours and hours without power because of rolling blackouts in Dallas. Other problems will persist into the thaw. Millions without power, and so many not prepared. The hundred year storm that is sometimes talked of, happened this week across Texas and bordering states. 

Locally our largest food outlet store did not open early in the week due to employees and trucks not being able to show up for work. Other shops also closed. Roads snow covered like the empty fields they border. Local chain outlet from where I top off our small tank propane; out of fuel with no idea on next delivery. East Texas days in a holding pattern.

Three "fattyfatfatso" (my bride's bird identifier) birds came to the front porch a couple days ago. Now all of their friends are showing up throughout the day. Just fine with us. We do love the little creatures and will also improve on their winter feeding stations. For now it is some seeds and oatmeal on the edge of the porch. 

Local road conditions mid week. No snow plowing of any kind here.


There has always been "prepping" talk regarding the food supply chain. This past week across the south and up the east coast, this chain has been challenged and compromised for at least 3 full days, more likely 5. Shelves empty, no trucks arriving for re-supply and minimal staff to work. 

Longer term, add the loss of future food production due to this past weeks storm, spikes in fuel shortages and higher prices for gas, propane and electricity. 

Here in the after it has been chicken and beef soup, homemade bread and eating everything we had in the fridge. Chopped, sliced, cooked, spread, seasoned and added to the table. We have taken treats to neighbors and have had treats delivered our door step. All with a smile and is there anything you need? People are awesome and wonderful. 

Wx station frozen all of last week.

Friday morning sun finally! Warm up on the way.

Compared to many folks, we weathered all of this quite well. More to follow as the thaw ends this mess with its own mess. 

Thanks for the visit this week.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021


My guess you can hang your plumbing shingle in any town Texas, work your ass off for the next few months and make enough money to make it all worthwhile. You will sleep well at night, too.

Other plumbers will be hiring. Get your foot in the door!

Other trades, building, repair, clean up and so forth also needed. 

Worker bees only. If you carry a lot of personal baggage, stay home. 

The market is ripe for those who can and want to. 

Maybe there is no such animal now as an out-of-work plumber. Hmmmmm....

Minus 1.5 here this morning. Fridge water flow apparently frozen. Not sure about the hot water heater. All faucets are set to hot and on the drip. So far, they are all working. 

We are fortunate and have not yet been a part of any rolling power outages. Living in the outlands is working this issue just fine - so far. 

Home heating system working to capacity and keep the house comfortable. Propane fire place supplements to raise the temp to combat the extreme low temps. We are in a daily/nightly holding pattern. 

The septic system - we have questions. It is some kind of design where the clear water fills and then a sprinkler system empties all of that at the edge of the back woods. Works just fine until the sprinkler heads freeze. They are snow - and likely ice - covered. We have been told we will be ok, just minimize use. So only toilets and warm wash cloths. No laundry, no dishwashing, or washing of anything. Toilets #1. But I know that plumbers and those who have installed and maintain these kind of systems will soon be overwhelmed.. 

And not just Texas. This storm and the new one following in its path today and tomorrow have negatively impacted many other states all the way into New England.

Walmart has closed some 360 stores just here in this state. A perfect storm brewing. Think supply chain break down. Stores were emptying out just before the storm hit. They, too, are as affected as each home and apartment building is. Their employees also having the same issues, plus having to get to work and leaving frozen/dark homes behind. Or not! Staying to protect and monitor a valid excuse, me thinks. 

The big thaw is coming this weekend. But still four to five days more before some things start to openly fail from thawing and melting. Add to all of this a shortage of goods and services across many states. All hitting at once. Getting back to normal. How long will that take? 

Add crop loss plus other food production loss to this. 

We are hearing and seeing a lot of stories that on one saw this coming. To include "the after." We thought we saw it coming. 

Today will be another day of staying indoors, checking the above outdoor wx station all too often, pot of beef soup on the simmer, another loaf of homemade bread and working the abnormal.

Good news is that we have 6 months worth of coffee, damn near a year of tea and enough cream for two weeks. Basics goods into spring. 

Helpful neighbors whom we check on daily and they on us. 

The bride said that she can take laundry to the laundromat as she has before. 

Then her face made that surprised look realizing that may not be a choice either.

Damn sure not worried about C19 or the talking heads.  

Thanks for stopping by. More updates by week's end. 


Monday, February 15, 2021

EAST TEXAS WINTER FwordFwordFWord UPDATE 0800 021521


back yard

off porch view looking sw

carport shop

Heating system on constantly to keep the home 68 degrees. Propane fireplace helps kick that up if we want. Rolling blackouts coming so propane use will be saved for whole house generator use. We have been told our tank will run it for three days straight if full. It is. Blackouts start today. 


Crops lost. Heard a cat meow a dozen times on the front porch around midnight. Looked and only saw prints in the snow. Crap!! Not sure if the lemon trees will survive even though they are in the metal shop with one electric heater on them. 

The bride is worried about her rose plant, the one I gave her last Valentines Day. We are told they are hearty. This little plant has already proved itself here. Have written about that a few times. My bet is that it will be a survivor.

Neighbor called and checked in. Said he was heading out to check on and feed his cattle. Matter of fact and all in a days work!

Wife's brother just noted that they have been w/o power where he lives in Dallas now for 3 hours.

When we moved to East Texas we knew we would never ever have to deal with ice and snow again. 

So how is that working out for us?

Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, February 14, 2021


Meme found on Ace of Spades blog.

The rose below has since been covered. Coldest temperatures since 1899 coming to this part of Texas along with 2-4 inches of snow.

Small plants for starting the growing season are in the pantry and the metal garage has a small electric heater on til this is over; and a small propane heater on during the day. It helps, but in no way warms the shop enough for protecting. 

Main propane tank topped off hopefully soon. Mostly to have the ability to run the generator in case of power outage for a few days.

Rumors that the local peach crops are in danger this season due to coming winter weather.


I was 8 years old. Old enough to be given my first pocket knife. A big moment in a young boy's life, given by his grandfather. 

I have written of my grandparents here early on when I started “the after” blog posting. They played an important part in my youth. Also time on their ranch and our weekend visits.

Grandpa fled Czarist Russia. Left as an “old” boy, a young man. My grandmother Rose, too. They both left their country very young, on their own, to make a life in this country. They came in through the front door. So did my father from Norway.

Grandpa was a designer/builder of all things. I spent many an hour in his make-shift foundry and metal-working shed where all things farm-related were heated, hammered into shape and attached into working machinery. Many hours in his company doing “manly” work. Milking cows, riding on the fender of his Ford tractor, tending the land and assorted barn chores.

Grandfather made everything. Metal-working, wood-working, even basket-weaving and shoes for his children. Everything. A hundred percent self- sufficient.

Cedar logs would break free from log rafts and floated up the river next to their home. Grandpa would snag one of these giant logs. A dog was set into the end of the log and it was dragged onto the shore at high tide. Grandpa now owned the log.

He would cut them into blocks from which he would hand-split cedar shakes for his barn.

I sat down next to him on one of the blocks and watched. The cedar shakes would split and make a popping noise when the froe was set and the wooden mallet swung. Each cedar shake was a project in of itself. Hundreds of them. A beauty to watch. Works of art.

He set his tools down, sat next to me that day and picked up a freshly cut Willow limb. Inch in diameter or so. Using his pocket knife, he whittled off a six-inch piece. It was time for me to learn how to make my own whistle from a tree limb. He had given me one earlier as a gift.

When the Willow sap runs, the bark and wooden can be easily separated. But the making of a whistle took some skill and I understood this was taught to him when he was a young child. Now, it was my turn.

After the small tree limb was in hand, my grandfather took his pocket knife by the blade and started tapping the bark all round the small cut limb. He was saying “umpa-lala, umpa-lala, umpa-lala.” He turned the small limb and again lightly tapped the whistle to be, explaining with a slight grin that saying “umpa-lala” was the magic that needed to be said during this procedure. He insisted. Again, more tapping, more turning and “umpa-lala.”  

Within minute or two, the bark was freed of the inner limb. It could be twisted back and forth while maintaining its shape and form. But this part of the procedure was delicate. To be done lightly with a touch. Once and if the bark was broken or cracked, the whistle had to be started all over.

Once the bark was loose, the embouchure hole was notched. (Had to look that up). A taper was whittled where the bottom lip would be placed.

The wood limb slid smoothly from the bark. Both pieces were noticeably wet with sap.

The notch in the wood slide was cut off to become the mouth piece. A small flat was cut off the top to allow air to enter the whistle. It was then set back inside the bark.

Then the remaining piece of wood was slid back into the bark and became the slide, that when moved, would change the sound pitch.

Like magic, a little carving with a pocket knife, “umpa-lala” and a patient touch resulted in a handmade wooden whistle for his grandson. A wonderment. 

The lesson was not done.

A branch was set on my lap. Grandfather told me to get out my new pocket knife and make a wooden whistle.

We sat there together, me carving/notching and grandfather explaining the dos and don'ts of using a pocket knife, “umpa-lala, umpa-lala” and time passing in perfect moments.

When was all said and done, I placed my whistle between my lips and made music. A musical instrument, with the ability to change sound during the playing. All made from a tree branch, using a pocket knife and my own hands.

To this day,  that moment is as bright as a morning sun.

As a VocEd teacher, I got to recreate a thousand moments like this, over and over. I would teach a procedure, do the procedure, complete the procedure.

And the fun invariably came when I turned the new procedure over to 25 students and guided them through start to finish.

The smile on their faces and the look in their eyes were always great moments for me. I saw myself in those eyes.......

Grand old days.

Damn!! Those kids are in their 40's now.

Umpa-lala” works. Try it!

I found this YouTube video that is similar to grandpa's whistle lesson some 67 years ago.


                                     (too much information in the photo below))

The doctor told my wife that he will shave off part of the bone here, break this bone and the other one in the big toe. Twisting the big toe, he explained that he would use staples there on the outside. The next toe he will shorten and put in a pin. He was moving her toe(s) around asking if this hurt, or does this hurt or how about his. It did.

Entering the orthopedic facility was an exercise in going into the belly of the beast. Sign in, temperature taken, masks on all and the passing through of doors.

Environment sterile, no magazines to look at, signs on chairs saying do not sit due to social distancing. Pictures on the walls were of wrinkled paper in various forms. Artsy fartsy stuff. 

Everyone was very helpful, but hard to hear words through masks. The fix was always to pull the mask off, say it all again, then put the mask back on. Office workers in the back rooms were working with masks off and looked guilty as sin when they saw us see them. That very same look when getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar.

The doctor was younger, polite, professional to the “Nth” degree, well documented in his profession. There was not any personal interaction beyond the business of getting my wife's toes examined and setting in motion the repair. 

My wife joked through her mask, several times. Little jokes. Little humor. But the doctor never entered into the conversation. Once he made a remark, my wife joked back and he had to note that what he said to her was not meant in any negative way. He had to qualify that saying some folks would have taken offense at the honesty/friendliness of his comment and medical opinion. So, no personal interactions. Just business. Just the facts. An appointment made soon.

The younger nurse who initially checked us in asked if there was anything else we needed before the doctor would arrive in the room. I asked for a cup of black coffee and an egg, bacon cheese croissant. And damned if she did not just joke back with me. Made me laugh out loud. Humor in daily living/working is there but sometimes we have to pry a little bit.

Day surgery upstairs, the bride will be put out, maybe an hour or hour and a half. No weight-bearing for a few days. Come back and see me in a couple days, a week or two and then a few more weeks to take out stitches and pin. Then a few months of healing and taking it easy.

Do you have any questions?”

And off we went to shop and lunch around the outskirts of town. Filled the coolers with good meats, a large paper towel and jars of this, boxes of that.

Chinese take out for lunch and surprisingly good. I told my wife that she and I could eat our way through Tyler Texas quite easily. Take a year or two, though.

Tyler is a small Dallas. Still easy for us older folk to navigate and offers everything under the sun. Great economy booming and easy to see once one enters the ring-road around Tyler. 

The packing of small businesses in every nook and cranny was a sight to see for us country folk. And Tyler is just far enough away. 

Roads home quickly turn into America 30 years ago. Fields to the horizon, lakes and farmland all leading to our speck of the place we call home.

There waiting for us in the driveway were two young men with a tall ladder and walking towards our front porch. We arrived two minutes late from the appointed time for them to change out heating/AC filters in our high ceilings.

We owned that day trip to Tyler, but damned if were not late to my wife's appointment and late getting home. We are folk who both have always been early to each and every appointment/social gathering our entire lives. Being two minutes late puts us on edge. We are never never ever late. Arriving early is a fault we have to always manage.

After things settled and the shopping was put away, I told my wife that I will be waiting for her when she comes out of surgery. A cold vanilla milk shake in hand. She smiled.

Now I know why I have those shooting pains between my right eye and ear. Probably no more than a spring adjustment.



A reoccurring theme in the weeks ahead.  For years, this blog has taken aim at days like we are living now. Never really knowing exactly what was coming nor how it would rear its ugly head. But any of us can look around us these days and plainly see we are in "the after." And, this it is just beginning. 

No hidden agenda anymore. Living in several different Americas. We are pitted against each other and I am most impressed at how well the upheaval in our daily lives has been orchestrated by the upper crust. The noise is getting louder and louder. 

Advice now?? That, too, has changed. Do this? Plan this? Put some of this away? Consider...? What about...? the list is long. But giving any advice now would take pages rather than quickie comment or two. I use to get away with that. And in all of this, it is still one man's opinion.

As for me, I am just trying to keep up with the crazy. Every day. The absolute insanity that the human species can go to such lengths to inject chaos into every breath of fresh air. To negate every iota of goodness and common sense. To negate everything my eyes, ears and taste buds are telling me is real. That the color of our skin and what hangs or does not hang below is up for debate and change. Normal is everything but just that.

My God, does anyone really think that wearing more masks is an answer to self protection? How has the American become so easily convinced to jump into the out of control Tsunami. No seeking high ground and thinking. Just jump in and damned to those raising their hand with "...I have a question...?"  

Violence is ok and a methodology openly promoted, mainstreamed and the only out for everyday common folk is the "off" button and stay away from crowds. 

And the rabbit hole deepens so I am turning around now and re-surfacing. 


Cold cold weather upon this Sunday morning with snow and ice just off to our left. Propane topped off yesterday. Gas tanks filled. Fresh bread baked. Pot of soup on the warm. Two layers of clothes with the heaviest of New England winter socks taking care of these old feet.  

We are as ready as we can be here in the Piney Woods and the bride wants Swedish pancakes for Valentine's morning breakfast.

Thanks for the visit this week.

Monday, February 8, 2021


Many say "No way!" "Can't be done."
Have you ever heard that before?

How many businesses in your neck of the woods have signs posted, like the one below, on their front entrance door? 

The next door Mrs. brought over a homemade coconut cream pie. My wife had earlier mentioned that this is one of my favorite pies. The next day this pie was starting a very short life span in our kitchen. 

No more difficult to make two batches of bread than one. The loaf was delivered to same neighbor for no other reason beyond these are just some of things we do living in east Texas as a no never mind. Besides, gives us an opportunity to chat awhile about much of nothing. 

The Mrs.' husband had just returned from a few days bird hunting in West Texas with stories of how three of their dogs got hit hard by porcupines. He said he now has dog sedatives and tools to do the work himself. Folks are seriously self sufficient here in the Piney Woods. 

Removing porcupine quills is a nasty job and one has got to have a heart for the poor dog going through the one at a time extraction. Make that three dogs. 

He is a fan of our homemade bread.


Not much ranting and raving this week. To what end? 

We are "off grid" now completely from all TV media. The off button still works wonderfully and in all honesty, none of it is missed. Blogs keep me updated on stuff in general and the headlines suffice most of the time. I am most likely repeating this too often here.


We have witnessed what a daily dose of constant watching news tv, coupled with home self-imprisonment for months, can do to the once healthy mind. The rejection of many human interactions and sociability have become outwardly apparent. Masking rules and social distancing rules have taken root.  

There is no substitute for visiting/sharing ideas and the give and take that used to come from conversations and general banter among long time friends.

I have learned and pondered a million things from the conversations I have had over my lifetime with like-minded and not like-minded folks. It is very healthy to explore many points of view for living a life. It has worked well for 75 years.

In all fairness we all can still live a life we want to live and we should. But I for one miss the old interactions, laughing, joking, socializing and gatherings among long time friends from times gone by. 


It is easy now to get lost in chores and housework maintenance, baking, cooking, garden building, weed pulling and afternoon napping. A cold beer here, glass of white wine there, morning pot of coffee and spending time with new neighbors laughing and visiting. 

Time to plant lettuce, strawberries, onions and radishes. But coldest temperatures yet forecasted here are coming and we do not want to lose our initial planting to frost.

Wife has planted some Pampas grass out front and it has taken off. We will be completing a line of that along the yard/woods line. Actually looks quite nice.

White clover covering of small front yard just after this coming freeze, too. We are told it takes over and weeds are not a problem. 

So, no lack of things to do for the body and mind. East Texas living!

Appreciate the visit this week.