Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday, February 21, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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
PINEY SNOWY WOODS UPDATE
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.
Local news say STAY OFF THE ROADS/IN THE HOUSE/DRAPES CLOSED TO KEEP HEAT IN/MINIMIZE HEATING AREA IE., JUST ONE MAIN ROOM/SERIOUS
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
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.
OFF TO SEE THE DOCTOR
(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.
IN THE AFTER NOW
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.