Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Milagro Beanfield War

A group of down-and-out Chicano farmers are struggling to make a living in a patch of New Mexico desert. They raise sheep, they grow beans, they drink to excess, they laugh and screw and murder one another. They and their ancestors have been doing this for 300 years or so, and that's just sort of the way it is.

Except that's not the way it's going to stay, because about 40 years ago somebody passed a law and half the town of Milagro lost all its water rights. Things have been a lot harder since; the only ones left are the ones living on inertia and welfare. Surprise, there's a land baron who owns pretty much all the land around Milagro, wants their land too, and has no problem getting water and grazing rights. His grandfather started putting the squeeze on the community, he's still up to it two generations later, and just can't seem to get rid of the Chicanos.

This next law's gonna do it, though. A new dam and land conservancy will make property values (and property taxes and user fees) skyrocket. In another ten years the only residents will be the ones cleaning the resorts our villain plans to build.

Except one day Jose Mondragon, who always was kind of a troublemaker, takes it into his head to illegally irrigate his father's dry old field and plant him some beans...

Between all the sub-plots involving Pacheco's wayward sow, Herbie Goldfarb the profoundly misplaced VISTA volunteer, the apparently immortal Amatante Cordova whose pistol is bigger than he is, Onofre Martinez' mysteriously missing arm (the literate one, alas), Pancho Armijo's insanely oversexed dog Esperanza, Nick Rael's crazy mother's habit of pelting his customers with rocks, the gunfight that never happened, the Smoky Bear santo riot, Charley Bloom the cowardly lawyer, and too many more for this poor head to remember, the book sometimes wanders from the plot just a tad. But it's pretty funny while it's doing that.

And there's not a superhero or a lecture in 600 pages, which puts it on my list for pretty darned good freedomista lit.

Stirring the pot

I think I'm going to name him Bueller.

No, not the puppy. Two mornings running I'm making breakfast or cleaning up after breakfast, look out the kitchen window and see a plump little cottontail working on the grass that grows around my gray-water pool. Just outside the Lair. Just as if there weren't three big, carnivorous-as-hell dogs hanging around all about me. And he just loiters out there, with not a care in the world. This morning I went outside to dispose of some cans, and he moved out of the way so sluggishly I could have killed him with a rock if I'd wanted to.

Used to be you never, ever saw rabbits near the Lair. No rabbit is ever likely to be a Nobel Laureate in mathematics, but they're not that dumb. Either this one really is that dumb, or my boys are really, really slowing down.

If all goes according to schedule, the new puppy (puppy name TBD) is due to arrive tomorrow morning or afternoon. If that doesn't stir things up on the dog front around here, I surely don't know what would. I like the peace and quiet, but too much of a good thing is just plain bad. I think maybe a few things around here could use a good stir.

Granted that in another six weeks or so if all goes according to plan (and no such thing has gone to plan yet) it'll all be moot. Soon there'll be other people here, and other dogs. That will sure as hell stir things up, and I'm coming to the belief that that'll be good all around. I can't seem to rouse myself to get much work done anymore, either physical or literary; all I want to do is play with the dogs, read and nap. Even if it's aggravating as hell at first, the dogs aren't the only ones around here that need to get their somnolent asses in gear.

So bring it on, Bueller. Let's see how long you last in our sleepy little desert world after we've stirred the pot just a little!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


One of my favorite things about the spring is the return of the hummingbirds. We've got'em all here: Ruby-throated, Rufous, ... oh, who am I kidding? I'm no gorram ornithologist, I just know they're pretty, they're dumb as rocks, they're basically bees with feathers, they entertain me, and they're pretty. Haven't seen one around the place yet, but S&L had their feeder up and running last weekend and already had a couple of customers so this morning I decided it was time to get my own going.

Now, you can buy hummingbird nectar, of course, and some folks do. But it's simple as pie to make your own; all you need is to dissolve some sugar in four times as much water, let it cool, and you're in. Hummingbirds are drawn to bright color; the first time I bought a feeder I got dive-bombed before I'd even put any nectar in the damned thing. Store-bought nectar has red food coloring in it, and you can do that if you want to. But if the feeder is already bright red that's good enough; they'll come. Funny thing; the expensive ones you buy at garden and birding stores and the like are really pretty, with lots of cool filigree and such, but they come in subtle, muted colors and don't attract birds terribly well. There's nothing subtle about a hummingbird; all he cares about is bright red or yellow. The cheap dollar-store feeders work best but the crappy plastic doesn't do UV very well and they come apart in a season or two. If you get an expensive one, use the food coloring.

The trouble with hummingbird nectar, as I learned my very first spring here, is that it's also the very perfect ant bait. It's just sugar water, but sugar water is an ant's idea of heaven. Leave a drop anywhere and they'll come for miles to drown in it, drown happy. If you offered an ant a delirious, sweaty, sex-filled afternoon with whatever ants use for Milla Jovovich, if only he'd leave your hummingbird feeder alone for that one afternoon, he'd sigh unhappily and turn you down flat. Then he'd stalk purposefully off and drown in hummingbird nectar. Happily.

So when you're making your nectar and filling the feeder with it, it is vitally important to be very, very neat. Don't splash that shit around, or you'll be up to your armpits in the industrious little bastards. After you fill the bottle but before you carry it out to the pole, you wanna wash the outside in warm water, get all that spilled sugar off the outside. Even then you'll need to clean rafts of dead ants - all of whom died stoned - out of the thing when you go to re-fill it, but at least you can keep the mess to a necessary minimum.

The hummingbirds come here for some sweaty sex of their own, and when they get going the males put on a helluva show. They park their lady loves on a juniper branch, then demonstrate their ardor and skill by flying straight up till you can barely see them, turning around and power-diving toward her; pulling up at the last second, flying straight up, then turning and doing it again. And again. All the time buzzing and chirping like demented ... well, hummingbirds. There's always some alpha male who tries to keep every other hummingbird except his own mate away from the feeder, and I've spent hours laughing at the greedy little SOB as he works himself into a hysterical lather diving at all the other birds, all the time they're getting more and more worked up while queuing for their turn, until finally he gives up his vain efforts and watches helplessly as a cloud of them descend. Seems like he get less of it than anybody.

Sure do love watching the little critters. Last year I had to get a taller pole, because Butch the tomcat worked out a perfect hummingbird-catching protocol. He'd tried running at the feeder from every possible angle, but they'd just hover till he was sailing through the air and then contemptuously flick away at the last second. But he figured out that if he crouched directly under the feeder they'd forget he was there: Then when one was in a perfect position he could spring straight up and he'd snag it every other time or so. Sometimes he lost it on the way down, before he could get his teeth in play, but still all too many very dead hummingbirds were ending up inside the lair. Butch wouldn't do useful things like catch rats - that was beneath him - but he loved him some hummingbirds. So I got a taller pole, which he considered a terribly dirty trick on my part, and the problem went away. This spring, of course, Butch himself went away so I guess that's the last of that.

Kinda wish I missed him more than I do, I must admit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just got back from some shooty goodness...

My friend J has his mother and her friend visiting, and he invited me to join them at the range for some loud fun. He brought his Bushy M4 and a new Charles Daly pump 12-gauge, along with a nearly-new wonder-nine that (if I remember correctly) is on semi-permanent loan from H's mother. J apparently hasn't spent much time with shotguns; he was very interested to see what a slug will do to a 2X4. Well, J, it blows a hole through it that you can wiggle your finger in, that's what it does. He's got a couple of little 38 Special snubbies that he and H carry around their hacienda, and he was starting the ladies out on those for some reason. They were getting a bit discouraged with an inability to hit anything, so I suggested maybe the nine would be a better starter-upper. It's a S&W, didn't catch the model, but it's as heavy as my 1911 and only shoots these little nine millimeter thingies so maybe they won't flinch so badly and between that and the longer sight radius...yeah, they started hitting the target with that.

Practice has been an issue for me for several months, what with the price of ammo and my extremely limited cash income. Sure I've got stored ammo, but that stuff doesn't breed no matter how tightly you pack it so every time I empty a magazine it feels like I'm donating an organ, y'know? But it must be done; must be done.

BTW...a bit of gory strange on the Click/rodent front this morning. Does anybody know if there's any significance to a feline practice of leaving two mouse ears on your sitting bench? Nothing else - just the ears. I have to admit that weirded me out just a tiny bit. Maybe it's ... I don't know, like a prize of some sort?

Thanks for all the responses!

I do appreciate you folks' answering my query concerning content. It's encouraging. TUAK ain't going anywhere. I've also got a line on a new donated camera, so hopefully we'll be in full-color again soon. Otherwise coming up with $100+ dollars would probably have taken months. Thanks, Unnamed Benefactor!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Click the Prolific, Magnus the Lucky!

I was up and down last night with an upset stomach brought on by too much actual food. So this morning's normal rising time came and went without too much notice taken by me. Magnus and Fritz didn't mind this very much; Ghost was getting a bit testy about it.

At maybe eight in the morning, a time when I've normally been up for three or four hours and usually out of the lair for at least one, Click came in through her little door and started tossing something about. The noise and movement was unusual, so I looked up from my book (Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth) to find Click bouncing a dead - or nearly dead - field mouse off the furniture. I wasn't the only one paying attention. Magnus looked up from where he had barely stirred all morning - bladder like a cistern, that boy - and roused himself just as Click gave a mightier-than-was-good-for-her toss and momentarily lost the mouse up on my sitting bench. Magnus knew just what that was all about, and apparently decided little Click could use some help retrieving her toy. He surged off the couch, padded to the bench, reached over, and ... crunch.

She just looked disgusted and went back outdoors. Later in the morning I found TWO mice drowned in the dogs' water bucket. One isn't real unusual, but I never saw two in the same night. The body count rises, heh heh.

BTW, there's a puppy update! Our new little friend is coming to live with us later this very week, probably Friday. I sent the pet carrier to the city with my weekender neighbors, S&L, and they'll be bringing him here. It's the all-black Akita/Shepherd/Doberman(?) mix. Unfortunately no pictures available at present. It was down to two, and the owners decided that, we having traded some emails, the pretty brown & black one was too shy for our purposes. Probably wise; I fear too shy more than too rambunctious. Though my other neighbors D&L recently got a puppy from hell that's got me re-thinking the wisdom of the whole enterprise. Geez, that little guy has a tightly-wound spring. I hate that. But here we go anyway...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ohhhhh...Rich Food....

Yeah, excess indulgence in free food is not a good idea. I'm gonna go find a blackboard so I can make myself write that 100 times.

A typical breakfast for me is a pot of oatmeal, or maybe an egg sandwich. Because I eat what I store, my diet is generally very basic and rather bland. It's what I've grown used to. Because I rarely bestir myself to hunt, I'm basically a vegetarian; not by inclination, just by circumstance. Which is why rich food can hit me like a thermonuclear gut bomb.

It happened that I was just cleaning up after some oatmeal this morning when I got a call from my weekender neighbors, S&L. "Had breakfast yet?" The honest answer was yes, but...well, hey. Free food. I was planning to take the boys for a walk up their way anyhow, so let's go! Yum. French toast, sausage, spicy potatoes, watermelon salad. Gooood stuff.

And that would have been fine, except that I had also been invited to a neighborhood barbeque later in the day. Just got a ride back from that, because I didn't feel up to walking yet. Steak, bratwurst, potato salad, get the idea.

"Hey, Joel?"


"Yeah, hey, this is your large colon, dude. Just wanted to give you a heads-up. Is there a bathroom, like, very close?"

"Uh...yeah, there's one right over there."

"Okay, my advice would be to run in that direction. Now."

Sigh. Sure tasted good, though.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bag of Weed

Now, I don't indulge in the sacred herb, myself. In fact as far as I know I don't know anyone who does. Got nothing against it, ain't no prude, just never was much exposed to it. My poison was always bourbon.

But I was blogcrawling after Snacky Time and found this on Bill St. Clair's site. This is just some kinda funny, right here. Was this really on the TV show? I never watched it, so I don't know.

Spring is here, spring is here...

...Life is skittles and life is beer
I think the lovliest time of the year is the Spring
I do. Don't you? 'Course you do.

And Spring means sweating like a pig during the morning Walky, and then waiting for the wind to pick up and blow us all to Kansas. But there I go bitching about weather again.

Got an early start this morning; I meant to water the trees yesterday but forgot, so decided to get it done while I was thinking about it. Lately for some reason my new coffee-maker seems to kill the electrical power just when the brew is finishing up, so while I was re-booting I started the generator and plugged in the well pump. Cistern's only about half full anyway. Turned on the flow to the meadow hose and let the basin around the apricot tree fill. When I went down to change trees I helped the boys chase a skinny white cow away. The trees are starting to leaf now, and that draws the frigging cows like flies to shit. Nice tender buds.

I've recently lost the washing machine to my greedy, avaricious landlady who moved to a place where she could use it. She decided she wanted her own property back; can you believe the nerve? Fortunately my friend I has access to a truck with a lift gate, plus it freed up a hose. I got a new spray nozzle last weekend, and extended the hose to the Lair. The stovetop had gotten so disgusting by the end of the winter that I couldn't get it clean without flooding the kitchen, so I took it off, propped it on some sawhorses and gave it a good scrub. Now while I was thinking about it I propped open the Jeep's hood; the coolant has run low again and I can use the hose and the last of the stored coolant to fill it. Also want to blast out the black-water tank before coiling the hose again and setting up the garden sprinkler.

I started a bunch of herb seeds in these little plastic greenhouse thingies from Home Despot, and I'm hoping my landlady will agree to let me clear out some of the strawberry vines that spread like kudzu but never produced any berries. She should be visiting in a week and a half, and I'll ask her then. If not I'll see if I can't amend the soil near the Lair's gray-water pool and plant them there - assuming they sprout at all, of course. Ol' black-thumb Joel.

Time for walkies. We've been staying away from the roads lately, getting over the winter "let's just take a quick walk" habit. Climbed the neighboring ridge, crossed it till we got to the cliff-face, then paralleled it for a while till we came to the fence that bisects the ridge. There's an easy way down there, and a big meadow between the cliff and the wash. Follow the fence to the wash, do a u-turn, and follow the fence back to the cliff. The junipers are high enough and close enough there that there's lots of shade. I'm doing all right, but the dogs are looking for a chance to cool down a bit. They dig in under the branches and I wait ten or fifteen minutes till their respiration rate falls. It's true, what I was reading in a book recently: Whole-body sweat is a much better strategy for dumping excess heat than panting is. This is why humans rule the earth and dogs don't. That and thumbs: dogs will never abandon us while we hold the can-opener monopoly. Up the cliff, which hugging the fence is still an easy climb, over the ridge, down and into our wash, and away home. The boys queue up at the water bucket, and now the big fellas are hiding in the cool of the workshop next to the scriptorium and settling down to their morning snooze.

It always seems to take a good bit of time while it's going on, but when I get home and look at a clock the total elapsed time is almost always less than an hour; sometimes far less. I'm such a wimp: When we go on a good multi-hour hike my stump is so sore at the end that I'm good for nothing for the rest of the day. That, as much as my natural indolence, is what keeps me from being a serious hiker here in this place that cries to be seriously hiked.

Whew. Now it's time to start feeling guilty for not being at the build site, pouring concrete. I really, really must get to that, but damn. My back just healed from buying the stuff and getting it here. I'm too old for this shit, but it must be done.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Click the Magnificent, the Sublime...

...God-Empress of the Desert Realms. Behold her beauty and despair, ye mortals! Behold her mighty jaws and fear - for the finish of your bathtub.

Click was coming out of her shell for a couple of months before Butch took the Long Trip. She was catching mice and rats again, spending afternoon time down off the loft, and generally getting back to what passes for normal around here.

But other things have changed besides Butch, of course. God-Emperor Kwai Chang Cain set off, condescending to rule heaven (in a truly bizarre event - remind me to tell you about it sometime) and Click's sister Point (Yes, Point and Click - bite me) disappeared during their six-week sojourn in town last summer. We've had a veritable epidemic among the cats until only Click remains. All of this - except for the business about Butch, whom she despised with righteous passion - sent Click into an emotional tailspin that lasted for several months.

But as I said she had been coming around in the past couple of months. Then Butch disappeared, and all was well with her universe. She is now THE cat, she is THAT cat. She has ascended the Topaz Throne, and wants her subjects to know it.

The dogs, as I've mentioned, were literally raised by a cat. They love and differdefer to all cats, even Butch, even though Butch hated them all. Okay, toward the end they didn't exactly differdefer to Butch - they often stopped him from pushing Click around but that's my point. They would not allow harm to come to their cats when they could help it. Now Click is the only cat. You can imagine how she behaves around the dogs. They are her dogs; her loyal, devoted subjects.

She has also become extremely active at night, and by active I mean viciously predatory. She sleeps all day, becomes active in the evening, disappears after dark and by the time I wake at first light she's snoozing comfortably in my bed or in the loft. I must then go see (and clean up) what carnage she has wrought - it's gotten to be a normal morning routine. She and Point used to catch rats daily; they'd behead them and bring the otherwise unmolested bodies into my neighbors' lair. But Click doesn't settle for death; she must also have destruction. And dinner. So I don't pick up rodent bodies, I scoop up heads and tails and entrails and I mop up pools of blood: There's very little left.

Most commonly, she has the courtesy to confine her slaughter to the bathtub. I don't know her reasoning for this, but I do appreciate it. The goop goes into a paper towel, and I can just wash body fluids down the drain. Not always, though. When I rise in the morning it's dark, and I hop about the lair one-legged. I've had to learn to do this more carefully: Yesterday morning I managed to hop right into a soggy mass of innards right in front of the toilet, which the day before had been decently contained within a large rat. Can't say I appreciated that very much.

Nevertheless, I'm happy she's back. She's happy, the dogs seem very happy to have her back, and I guess that's what counts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A word about content and request for feedback

When I started blogging here back in the first part of December, I had in mind to post my day-by-day impressions of the 'gulching life'. There were two problems with this; first, while I'm currently the only one here I'm not the only one involved, and everybody's very privacy-oriented. They were amused and supportive of my little blog, but also concerned about security. I am too and have tried to keep it always in mind, but there have been posts that I modified or removed after emails flew. There are things going on that you haven't read about here, and that you won't. Not mine to share.

Second, most of my day-to-day activity is simply boring to read about. Today I took a walk with the dogs. I finished laying pipe to the barn's salvaged water heater, then learned that the frigging inlet pipe not only faces the wrong way but is apparently cemented into place with JB Weld, forcing me to do bizarre things with the pipe routing and consequently run out of pipe 99% of the way from the finish line. We've finally had three warm days in a row. Jesus, I'm putting myself to sleep.

The fact that, to my surpriseshock, in its brief existence my little blog has actually developed a loyal readership is kind of a problem in that regard. I started this as much as a way to get through the winter as anything else, and never expected much of a readership. We're not exactly in Lew Rockwell territory, but still quite a few people come here every day. I feel obligated to post every day regardless of whether anything interestingly gulch-related actually occurred. Also, my camera died. So if it seems to you that I've been leaning pretty heavily on news links and other blogs for content, well, I have. This was not my original intent, because you probably already know how to read the news. My take on various news items can be a bit...skewed, and I do try to keep it entertaining. But still, there are lots and lots of link blogs out there. You don't need this one.

So I'm asking those of you who do read here regularly for input. Is the way this has been going of value to you? Do you really care what-all Magnus is up to today? More boring gulch items? Less? Have I been wasting your time? Please respond.

Tragic. Tragic!

Thomas Patrick Destories, a 68-year-old Phoenix man, was booked into Maricopa County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder after he made "incriminating statements," Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.

Doug Georgianni, 51, was shot Sunday night as he operated a photo radar van on a Phoenix freeway and later died at a hospital.

Hill said investigators believe Destories pulled up behind the van and then slowly pulled alongside it and fired a gun multiple times, hitting Georgianni in the driver's seat. Investigators don't believe Destories knew Georgianni.
Authorities said they found Destories less than 24 hours after the killing because a Department of Public Safety officer recognized the suspect vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban, in video footage taken by the photo radar camera.
"While we don't know at this time what the motives were for this senseless killing, many have understandably speculated that it was due to anger against the speed cameras," [Rep. Sam Crump of Anthem] said. "To the extent there is any truth to that, I call on all individuals to reduce the war of words on this topic. Whatever the motives for this crime were, there is absolutely no justification for such a heinous act."

I quite agree. It's senseless. I mean, c'mon. He used his own vehicle? And spoke to the cops after he was arrested? Show a little sense, people!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Okay, I'm getting really creeped out now.

Guess who Our Divinely Anointed Maximum Leader (ODAML) just tapped as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Go ahead; guess. Hint: It ain't L. Neil Smith.

The Detroit auto crowd is, of course, intimately familiar with Mr. Hurley's MADD antics and have grown to just love him. If, by love, we mean really really despise:
His nomination on Tuesday sent shudders down the spines of everyone who considers motoring a special part of the joy of being American. If his prior record is any indication, we can expect more in the way of arbitrary interference with the way the car companies do business at a moment when they can least afford the burden of bureaucratic meddling.

And drivers can expect a ratcheting up of the low-grade harassment they already endure on a daily basis — in the form of more obnoxious regulations, pullover "safety" checks and very possibly lowered speed limits, ala Claybrook’s 55-mph national limit on federal interstates.

All of this will be imposed on states in the time-honored Washington way: Those that fail to comply will lose vitally needed highway funds.

As the head gauleiter of MADD since March 2005, Hurley led the group — already considered one of the most unreasonable and totalitarian-minded "special interests" in all of D.C. to even new vistas of reactionary Puritanism.
That's okay, of course: The Obama adminstration already owns the auto industry, so who gives a shit what Detroit thinks? Right?

And ditto about the opinion of every driver in the country. No ticky no washy, America. We've got your "highway funds." Sit, doggy. Roll over. Now beg!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

REALLY reactive targets

One thing happened during my daughter's visit that I'd forgotten about until this morning, when I happened to walk down to the short range.

Daughter and AtH wanted to do some shooting while they were here, and brought fun targets with them. Some cute bunny-face paper plates, and a bunch of dollar-store cans of shaving cream. That last one had honestly never occurred to me. Do you know what happens when you shoot a shaving cream can with a rifle? makes a mess. It makes a big, instantaneous mess. Very entertaining. And the good news - I'm happy to say, since I didn't know how long the mess was going to last - it does eventually go away on its own, so all you have to clean up is the cans. Though if you have to pick up the cans right away, you've got some really, really gooey clean-up in store.

Wish my camera still worked. It's impressive.

Ghost the Misguidedly Aggressive

Ghost has two aggressive modes. When he goes down to the meadow and barks, I don't pay it much mind; he's very possessive of his territory (a virtue in a watchdog) and sometimes feels the need to express his ownership to the neighboring critters. There may or may not be a specific reason for this; if the coyotes start singing, he's certain to put on a show but sometimes he does it for no discernible cause.

But then sometimes he shoots himself like an arrow, without making a sound other than the drumming of paws. This means he's going into battle, and that as a proper nanny I'd damned well better gun up and find out what he's getting himself into.

Often it's just cattle. Cattle used to be a problem, because he'd lead the whole pack into battle against the invading hordes and somebody could get hurt. If the cattle didn't do it, the rancher damned well might if he happened to see or hear it. They may by law and will by inclination shoot cattle-chasing dogs. While in my heart I don't really blame them for this, it is imperative that they don't take it into their heads to shoot MY dogs. So when I see bad stuff going down, I really need to get my elderly ass down off the ridge and head off trouble.

This morning I happened to be in a position to see the whole thing go down. We were headed from the barn to the Interim Lair. Ghost saw a couple of cattle in the little triangle of meadow across the road, maybe 300 yards away. He went into Instant Hyperdrive. I swore in irritation, looked again harder, and then started running as best I could. There were three cattle down there, and one was a calf. Momma cows act completely different when there's a calf involved.

Sure enough, instead of heading off or ignoring the whole brouhaha, as they usually do, a big black cow turned and started heading right at Ghost. Okay, that one's the mother. Now: Will Ghost have sense enough to realize how much he just bit off? Alternately, can I get within pistol range before he becomes a moist spot on the meadow? Dammit, why didn't I grab my rifle? This is why I keep it handy.

As it turned out, Ghost had no intention of either giving in to the (now very motivated) cow or getting stomped into a tortilla by her. He was in heaven, dodging and dancing around her while she worked herself into a slobbering, stamping mass of pissed-off beef. If she'd had two brain cells and a synapse hidden somewhere in that thick skull she might have figured out that Ghost wasn't paying any attention to her baby at all; he was just having fun getting a rise out of her. That wouldn't stop him from becoming an ex-dog if she got her way, but by that time I and the two BIG dogs were obviously approaching. That was enough opposition to get through to her: She and the second cow bumped the terrified calf and headed for the wash. Ghost ignored my shouts enough to follow, though he didn't chase. He'd had his fun, and finally came at my call and we went for a walk in the other direction.

Little shithead.

April 19, when things just seem to happen...

Some call this "Patriots Day" - I've never quite figured out what a patriot is, but I'm pretty sure I'm not one. Nevertheless 4/19 is just about the only date I tend not to miss, just because historically things do seem to happen on this date:

1529 - At the Second Diet of Speyer, a group of rulers and independent cities protests the reinstatement of the Edict of Worms, beginning the Protestant movement.

1775 - The Battle of Lexington and Concord begins the American Revolutionary War.

1861 - Baltimore riot of 1861, a pro-Secession mob attacks United States Army troops marching through the city.

1933 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces the abandonment of the gold standard.

1943 - The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins.

1961 - End of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. (Oops)

1993 - Eighty-one people are slaughtered by fire, gas and gunfire by forces of the Federal Government at the end of the siege of the Branch Davidian building outside Waco, Texas.

1995 - The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, is bombed, killing 168.

And lots of other stuff. Happy Interesting Times Day!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Yeah, funny mood this afternoon.
I've been out wandering
In foggy country
Out where strange things exist
The edge of magic
The edge of science
Meet and merge in the mist

And I've come back with a book full of songs
A handful of tactics for righting old wrongs
And all you can say is I've been gone too long
You don't know me at all

I've been out wandering
In hidden country
Out where your rejects reside
Where dreams are solid
Where words are fire
Out where the free thinkers hide

And all you tell me is you don't care
You can't put a meter on sunlight or air
You've got no use for the new world out there
You don't know us at all

Guess I'll go back there
With all I'll get here
All that will help us go on
That country's growing
With every outcast
You'll never notice we're gone

And when you've won all those games that you play
You just might see there's no one left to pay
We'll have the whole world that you threw away, and
We won't know you at all
- Leslie Fish

Private to Ghost...

I understand that you enjoy chasing trucks. I really do. I don't like it, it worries me, I wish you'd stop, but I do understand.

But, dude. Biting the tires - that's just dumb.

Watch this video

It's longer than I usually post here, and it's not at all frivolous. Watch it anyway, then spread it around.

H/T to David Codrea

Hey, I'm getting good at this!

UPDATE: The article linked in the post immediately below has been expanded and revised. It now contains even more and better lies. The paragraph mentioning military bases is no longer present.

In other news, George Orwell sues the Washington Post for theft of Intellectual Property. Can I call it, or what? ;-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nobody's safe when rulers get together...

So I understand that, though Our Divinely Anointed Maximum Leader (ODAML) doesn't plan to do anything dastardly to gun owners himself he is being forced, quite against his will, to bow under the crushing weight of international opinion and will now "push the U.S. Senate to ratify an inter-American arms trafficking treaty designed to curb the flow of guns and ammunition to drug cartels and other armed groups in the hemisphere."

This is a treaty originally signed by Bubba - er, that is, the Divinely Concupiscent Maximum Leader - and ignored for all the decades since. Suddenly, however, ODAML finds the dusty relic to be simply inescapable. He tried, he really did: He begged, he pleaded, he threatened nuclear war against Mexican President Felipe Calderon because he is just so fervently devoted to the rights of American Citizens. But President Calderon reportedly overpowered ODAML's security guards, knocked ODAML to the ground and tortured him with feathers until he was forced to give in on this one tiny, itsy bitsy point. You'll understand.
"The Obama administration's commitment to seek ratification [of the treaty] is important because stemming the number of illegal privately-owned firearms which flow into Latin America and the Caribbean - well, anywhere - is a high priority for the region our rulers and would-be rulers and addresses a key hemispheric concern relating to people's their personal security and well-being," said a senior Obama administration official who wished to remain anonymous so his name wouldn't appear on the post-revolution indictments.
Yeah, I fixed it for them.

I especially enjoyed this bit, which apparently slipped past the government copy editor:
Many of the guns used by the drug cartels travel south from the United States. Some assault rifles recovered by Mexican authorities have been traced back to U.S. military bases.
Doubleplus ungood! Minitrue malquote military bases rectify rewrite fullwise upsub antifiling...
Many of the guns used by the drug cartels travel south from the United States. Some assault rifles recovered by Mexican authorities have been traced back to U.S. gun stores.
Ah, that's better. Whew. I'm going to step outside for a Victory Cigarette.

UPDATE: The link above now leads to a completely different article, containing more and better lies. The paragraph mentioning military bases is no longer present.

In other news, George Orwell sues the Washington Post for theft of Intellectual Property. Can I call it, or what? ;-)

More $%&! Snow

Yeah, I know. Half the readers are going, "What the hell is he whining about?" as they shovel the latest foot of white stuff off their porches.

For years before I left Kali I firmly intended to. The only thing I didn't completely hate about Socal was the weather. I knew Kalians who actually complained about it; said it was boring. Hey, I'm from a winter state; boring is good. So I always used to joke, "I don't know where I'm going when I leave here, but I know that wherever it is I'll never stop bitching about the weather." So far, so good.

All day yesterday I hunkered down through a non-stop windstorm. It was mostly sunny, but sometime during the night it clouded up and dumped a bunch of snow. Now it's already melting off and I know it'll be gone everywhere but the shadows in another hour, but still. It's officially late April and we're back to numb fingers and frozen toes. Give it a rest, gods. This is the desert; let's have some frigging heat.

Heh - a month from now I'll be bitching about the heat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Montana - Here's a bit of good news!

For some strange reason I just don't understand, two interesting developments in Montana haven't been getting a lot of press.

Two Montana legislative bills, HR 228 and HR 246, have been kicking around for quite some time. 246, in particular, has been talked about for months on the gun blogs because it's a tenth amendment states-rights challenge that goes far beyond toothless "resolutions." According to today's release from the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA), which wrote the bill's wording,
HB 246 declares that any guns and ammunition made and retained in Montana are not subject to ANY federal regulation under the authority of Congress to regulate commerce “among the states.
The Montana legislature passed the bill, and - to my shock - the governor signed the thing today.

The bill becomes effective on October 1, and the MSSA release goes on to suggest that nobody rush right out to take advantage of it because there's no freaking way the feds are going to let this go by unchallenged. There's a big court circus in this law's future. Even so, Way To Go Montana!

(H/T to Bill St. Clair's End The War On Freedom)

The other, related Montana law is HB 228, which expands the legally-recognized right of self-defense and - if I'm reading this correctly - establishes Vermont/Alaska-style carry law to Montana where it damned sure belongs. I gather there's a fight in the legislature, adding and removing an amendment that would strip that part from the bill.

As I said, there's not a helluva lot of news available about this business, so I'm not sure about HB 228's status. (Can you believe I'm doing web research about a law? I think I need to go take my temperature.) I know I've got at least one Montana reader - can you fill me in?

Anyway, congratulations MSSA and Montana on sticking up for Montana-made guns and ammo! Here's hoping the rest of the fight goes well.

UPDATE: HB 228 has passed both houses, I'm told. Along the way it lost Alaska carry, alas, though it explicitly permits open carry and every other good thing in it is intact. It awaits the gov's signature, which apparently it will almost certainly get. Y'know, that place is getting more and more attractive - except for all that frigging winter.

All Kidding Aside...

The supposedly radical statement "Taxation is Theft" is not nearly radical enough to suit me. Theft is evil; taxation is far worse.

But don't take my word for it. Let's listen to the Great Teacher:
The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: 'Your money, or your life.' And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful 'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you. He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
- Lysander Spooner

Der Tag!

Today's the day! The happy, happy day on which all loyal Americans express their love, appreciation and support of their Glorious Nation! This is a great day! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

And should you have any difficulty fulfilling your fiduciary duty to the State, never fear! Our courteous, professional staff is at your disposal, ready to assist in any way.

They'll even take care of your pets for you, while you deal with necessary matters. They wouldn't want you to be distracted.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Only one more day!

And in case you're feeling resentful about your joyful patriotic duty to pay your fair share, maybe this will cheer you up:
On these taxing days, when we become a defiantly bipartisan nation of whiners convinced that we are handing over to the Internal Revenue Service our blood and sweat and mother’s milk, our pound of flesh and firstborn young, maybe it’s time for a little perspective.

Legions before us have donated all these items and more to the public till, and not just metaphorically speaking, either. Benjamin Franklin was right to equate paying taxes with a deeply organic behavior like dying. It turns out that giving up a portion of one’s income for the sake of the tribe is such a ubiquitous feature of the human race that some researchers see it as crucial to our species’ success. Without ritualized taxation, there would be precious little hominid representation.
Yes, paying taxes is not merely a patriotic duty, not merely a way of keeping Uncle Sugar's Legions from damaging your front door, household pets and furnishings, or sphinctal diameters - it's a biological imperative! Birds do it, fish do it, and you'll by god do it if you know what's good for you. Otherwise, how would you know you live in the Land of the Free? Hmm?

Oh, My Aching... Pt. 2

I have now acquired nearly everything I need for the foundation of Joel's Secret Lair, Final Edition. Yes I know it's taking a long time. In previous posts I may have given the impression that I am merely a lazy, feckless so-and-so. This is not true. I am most sincerely a lazy, feckless so-and-so.

Right at the moment I am a lazy, feckless so-and-so with a really sore back and knees, and that's before I've mixed a single bit of concrete.

Twenty. Eighty. Pound. Bags. I'm too old for this.

AtH The Assassin

Saturday morning I welcomed my daughter and Ari the Husband to my little patch of paradise. This was indeed a joyful visit, as I haven't seen either of them since their wedding over two years ago. Daughter hasn't changed a bit; she's still the same sassy, self-motivated little $#@! that used to drive her mother and me (especially her mother) crazy when she was a little girl. Gad, I love her.

Anyway, AtH decided that while he was in The Great Outdoors, he wanted to fulfill a previously-unsuspected lifelong ambition of coldbloodedly murdering a cute fuzzy little bunny. I represented all the world's voices of moderation and sensitivity by lending him a rifle and showing him where he was most likely to flush rabbits. Saturday the weather was not really conducive to rabbit flushing, but he persisted and on his third outing he did indeed come back with a cruelly-slaughtered innocent.

At this point I have to give a serious shout-out to my one-and-only son-in-law, AtH. A city boy, raised by stereotypical Southern California upper-middle-class liberals, I expected that if he actually succeeded in shooting a rabbit the "yuck factor" would end the experiment right there. Instead he borrowed a book on game butchering and a couple of sharp knives and proceeded to skin, clean, butcher and cook little Thumper as if he'd been doing it all his life.

Tasted pretty damned good, too. Way to go, AtH!

Of course if I really liked him, I'd have warned him that not all rabbits are quite so easily taken...

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm a HERMIT, ok?

Actually got an email this morning, asking if I was still alive. Er...if I wasn't alive, I wouldn't be able to send a reply attesting to my death. Right?

It has been a crazy, crazy week. One of The Stakeholders was here at the beginning of last week, and stayed a couple of days. Very cool - hadn't seen him in quite a while. Then my daughter and Ari the Husband came for a three-day stay. Very, very cool - haven't seen my daughter in over two years. Waved them on their way this morning - just a few minutes ago, in fact - and now must get things ready because my friend The Stakeholder is coming back here this afternoon with a whole bunch of things that need doing, all of which involve heavy objects.

All much beloved people, all a delight to see, not complaining in the slightest. Don't get me wrong.

I'm exhausted. I'm frazzled. This is more people than I've seen in months, let alone entertained as guests. As soon as daughter and AtH's car disappeared over the rise, even the dogs collapsed in a collective, rather relieved heap.

I have stories to tell: Got the materials for The Secret Lair's foundation, AtH killed/butchered/cooked and shared his very first rabbit, more on the mystery rocks. But I just don't have time right now. I'm behind on my chores and The Stakeholder is due in a few hours. Also, a third of a rabbit is not a complete breakfast and I'm starving.

More later. Possibly a couple of days later. But yes, I'm alive.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oh, My Aching...

Yeah, I hauled out my ALICE pack like an idiot and headed back for the plateau. Figured I'd cheat and take the Jeep over the ridge and far enough in that I could get around the worst of the little canyon between me and that impressive pile of rocks. The boys were delighted, neither knowing nor caring that Uncle Joel was setting himself up for physical trauma. To my delight I actually located the pile of rocks (a worry since everything looks just like everything else and it wouldn't be the first time I couldn't find a particular spot on unfamiliar ground, especially coming at it from a different direction) and then like a complete idiot I took off the pack and filled ... it ... with ... rocks.

And then like a totally self-destructive fool I lifted the pack ("Oh, my god!), slung it on my ("What the hell are you doing to me?") back, adjusted the straps and began to ("Uh! Ow! I'll talk, I'll talk!) walk.

I wish I owned some sort of scale. Probably that sucker didn't weigh a lot more than seventy or eighty pounds. I don't have any trouble schlepping 50-pound dog food sacks, so it was more than that. And I must say that for a mid-fifties, one-legged smoker I could be in worse shape. But it was down to the wash, over the rocks, down into the gorge, up out of the gorge, who the hell put that second gorge there, I don't remember that one, please god let the Jeep be where I think it is for maybe half a mile, with every other step trying to drive my whole body into the socket of my plastic leg. There's a reason I don't carry heavy objects for a living, there really is.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my back and my wind held out nicely. It's just my legs that found the matter insulting. I went to bed last night wondering what new price I'd be paying in the morning, but seem to have escaped without consequence. No new aches and pains. Even so the pack didn't hold even a major fraction of the rocks that need to be moved. I'm waiting for the rest till I get some younger, stronger assistance.

I'm having some battery-related problems with my camera, so no pics. I'm hoping it's a problem with the battery charger and not with the camera. It's a very nice little camera, a wonderfully generous gift from an old friend, and I've only had it a few months and have treated it gently. Really hoping it's the charger, but I won't know till I get to town for some new batteries. Really, really hoping it's the charger.

Only five more days!

Do you know where your calculator is?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Yowza, what a morning!

Our morning walky turned into a marathon, as it sometimes does. We worked our way through a "which way do you want to go, boys?" course that ended up on one of the peaks of the big ridge. On the far side of the ridge is a huge plateau that covers I dunno how many square miles, so you don't have to go down anywhere near as far as you just climbed up. A friend has been wanting some good examples of a particular kind of rock, often used for decorative purposes, which while not uncommon around here is usually found in tiny weathered shards. I'd promised to keep an eye out for some good examples, so since we were already there we headed out onto the plateau where the terrain looked promising.

To my pleased surprise, within minutes I'd discovered a couple of really fine pocket-sized specimen. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and we were actually on our way back to the ridge when I saw another...and then another...and then a really big one...and I realized we were standing in a field of the stuff! And not just the tiny scraps you find so commonly on the slopes, this was a mother lode! It was beautiful, it was mind-blowing, it was...impossible to carry home. The nearest navigable road was on the other side of an impressive canyon. What...I do?

Oh, my aching plastic leg. I've got some backpacking in my future. Well, I can always use the exercise.

I also got an email from my daughter, with some excellent news. I've been trying to get her and Ari the Husband to come visit me for two years, but scheduling conflicts always interfere. It seems they've found themselves with some freed-up mutual time during a period when they're not completely broke, so they're coming to visit! Superior! I'm very excited.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


At long last, after many fits and many starts, the workshop/scriptorium furnace is complete and ready to be piped up for propane.

This propane furnace, slightly overspeced (100,000 BTUs to heat a space of maybe 400 sq. feet) was one of those really expensive freebies you encounter from time to time. The furnace, we got free. The custom ducting and plumbing, the cutting and trying to get it to fit in its place, the pricey special tools I'll never use again, the pain and anguish of trying to figure the whole thing out, the tumult, the trials, the travail... Oh, what the hell. The damned thing's done. Now I move on to the next step, tearing out some perfectly good wallboard so that I can plumb for the free water heater that sits next to the expensive free heater. (The propane guy said to me, "Uh...Why'd you sheetrock the walls if you were going to put in plumbing?" Because, okay? Just because.)

Also, I heard from the lady with the puppies this morning. We're down to two candidates, both from the Akita dad. Yes, I'm going with a male so folks! Please stop emailing me about how wrong I am, okay? Of course I'm wrong! It's a momentous decision and I always get those wrong! D'ye think I became a desert hermit because my previous life was so placid and wonderfully well-ordered? Geez, give me a...

*ahem* Excuse me. I'm okay now., really, I'm all right. Put down the net.

Heh - seriously, I don't think I've ever gotten so many comments on one post, both here, in email and in person, unanimously telling me how wrong I was to specify a male dog. The hubris I'm showing in ignoring all these messages will almost certainly carry a heavy price. But anyway, as I said we're down to two candidates, either a black one or a (GORGEOUS!) brown-and-black one. I wrote back that my preference was based on temperament; if one is markedly calmer, I want that one.

One more month, and we'll hear the pitter-patter of little paws in the gulch!

The Free And The Unashamed

With a hat tip to Wendy McElroy's blog, this:
= A Declaration of Separation =

==== To The Governments & People of Earth: ====
We claim the right to exist, and we will defend it. We do not seek to overthrow anything. We do not seek to control anything. We merely wish to be left alone. All we ever wanted was to live in peace with our friends and neighbors. For a long, long time we bore insults to our liberty; we took blows, we did what we could to avoid injury and we worked through the system to get the offenses to stop. That has now changed.We no longer see any benefit in working through the world’s systems. At some point, working within a system becomes cowardly and immoral; for us, that point has arrived. Regardless of the parties in power, their governments have continued to restrict, restrain and punish us. We hereby reject them all. We hereby withdraw from them all. We hold the ruling states of this world and all that appertains to them to be self-serving and opposed to humanity. We now withdraw our obedience and reclaim the right to strike back when struck. We will not initiate force, but we do reserve the right to answer it. We did not choose this – it was forced upon us.

It goes on at substantial length; I read it all, which in itself is unusual because there are many such things floating around the tubz and I almost always hit some philosophical roadblock or the writer just exceeds my boredom threshold. But I did read this one through, and then again more carefully, and can't honestly say I found anything much to quibble with...except.

Except, well, what's the point exactly? I don't do manifestos. I really don't know what they're for. If an established group were seceding from a larger group, then a statement ala the Declaration of Independence makes sense. But an anonymous declaration, in the name of an amorphous "we" - I'm not sure I get it.

Still, as I said, I found little in the actual content with which to quibble. You might want to give it a read. Some people I know to be good folks are commenting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nuke the Fence, Boys!

Magnus has busted out of Gitmo before. Given time, he could dig a trench and wriggle his enormous bulk under the fence; we knew that when we built it. After eighteen months or so, piles of rocks and other heavy objects here and there along the fenceline attest to his various Steve McQueen impersonations. But the motivation had to be pretty strong. Even when he escaped he generally just found a tree to snooze under, and Fritz and Ghost stayed inside.

It used to be that a sojourn of a few hours or even most of a day in Gitmo was no big deal: It's big, it has sun and shade and food and water and is always preceded by a Snacky, and they were used to it because it happened fairly often. Leave the boys alone for a day, whether you're there or not, and mostly they just lay down and take a long nap anyway. The presence of a fence is irrelevant to the location of a nap, right? But lately Gitmo hasn't been working so well, I think just because it has become so rare that any stay there is a big deal, and so unacceptable.

Yesterday evening Magnus didn't defeat the fence; he nuked the sucker.

I had an overnight houseguest, and we decided to go into town and have dinner at a restaurant there. We visited some neighbors on the way out, so altogether we were gone for maybe a bit less than three hours. When we got back to the property, all three dogs were outside the fence waiting. They seemed very pleased with themselves.

Considering the extent of the property damage they caused, and since lacking opposible thumbs they couldn't have used tools to cause it, I suppose by their standards they had reason to be proud.

*sigh* Excuse me - I have to go haul some really big rocks now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Public Service Message

Remember, Folks! Only nine filing days till the deadline!

This has been a public service message from TotallyLegalInEverySingleConceivableWayDesertHermits, Ltd. Our motto: "Please don't kill our dogs, it's in the mail! Honest!"

Our Moment of Cultural Linkage

:-) If you call this culture!

I got some photos from my daughter; seems she threw a Firefly-themed party for Ari the Husband.

No, I don't know if the spelling is deliberate. I hope so, secretly doubt it, and don't plan to ask.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What about ending the heartbreak of psoriasis?

Has Our Divinely Anointed Maximum Leader found the great issue that will at last separate him from accusations that his administration is only a clone of his fallen predecessor's?

If so, is Our Divinely Anointed Maximum Leader a self-deluded megalomaniac, or only a closet idiot? Say what you will about his stated and reputed policy positions, he never came across as an idiot before. But now...

Obama to call for nuclear-free world

PRAGUE (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will call for the elimination of all nuclear weapons across the globe, in remarks on Sunday he hopes will lend credibility to his message in atomic disputes with Iran and North Korea.

Visiting Prague during an eight-day visit to Europe, Obama plans to deliver what his aides have billed as a major speech on weapons proliferation.
Obama, a former U.S. senator who succeeded President George W. Bush in January, has long shown interest in the issue of halting weapons proliferation and wants to make it a signature foreign policy issue for his new administration.

"The president has been very focused on these issues of proliferation for many years," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told reporters.

"Tomorrow, I think you'll hear the president, in a very comprehensive way, outline many of the things that he's been talking about and working on for some time," McDonough said.
George Perkovich, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, said that unlike issues such as the economic downturn and the Iraq war, the proliferation agenda is not an issue he inherited from the Bush administration but one he is actively promoting.

"This is one of the few things that is not part of his inheritance," Perkovich said.
The main talking point Obama's sock puppets stress in this Reuters story isn't the joys and blessings of world peace, but how This Isn't Something Bush Was Doing. They state firmly that this has always been a major Obama concern, far more important to him than the U.S. economy and the name of the new White House Puppy. Strange that I don't recall him ever once mentioning it during the entire course of the long, long, endless, exhausting and also very long campaign. 'Course, I wasn't paying that much attention to what he said so he may have snuck it in here and there.

But like Bush's late-term and almost psychotically futile claims of imminent Israeli/Palestinian peace under his leadership, it seems strange that Our Divinely Anointed Maximum Leader would actually choose or be persuaded to expend substantial political capital on something that is so transparently never going to happen. Why not promise to do something believable, like end all crime? To cure all disease and AR rifle system jamming problems forever? To make it rain Skittles and unicorns? Is he this desperate already? Is his administration really this empty?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

One of these days, Alice...

Pow! Zoom! To the moon, Alice!

In between strange weather phenomena, I'd finally completed the layout for the concrete piers to be poured under Joel's Secret Lair, Final Edition. Got the batter boards up and level (and you'd laugh if you saw how uneven their heights had to be, to achieve "level" on the long sides of the site.) Got strings pulled for the borders and center pier locations. Good work, thought I.

Yeah. Should have marked those locations with something more substantial than the intersections of jute string. I know my companions' ways. Totally my fault.

So this morning I get up, dress, eat, start looking for my favorite gloves. My $17.95 doeskin-palm work gloves that I couldn't afford but just had to have. My very best gloves. The one pair of gloves I absolutely should never have forgotten at the build site just before last night's windstorm/thunderstorm/snowstorm. Gah!

Suddenly an early walky seemed like just the thing to do, before all that snow melted. Off we went, to the delight of the boys who would have been terribly disappointed in me if I'd waited till the temperature climbed as I usually do. They were so delighted, in fact, that they were still frisking and gamboling about when we got to the site, where that clumsy, bumbling, blundering, disaster-area-in-a-fur-coat hippopotamic land-mass of a Fritz thundered right through my so-very-carefully laid-out spiderweb of string as if it wasn't even there, breaking every single...

He didn't even notice, and had no dreaming clue what I was so mad about. Next time I use kevlar trip-wire, though I doubt they sell it at our little town's sad excuse for a hardware store.

Private to my landlady: It was an effort, but for you I let him live.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Beloved Husband & Father...and Friend.
And a nice motherfucker.

Blessings and peace be upon you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Story of the Last Lasagna

I've spoken often here of T., my best friend and landlord who passed away almost exactly a year ago. T was, among other exemplary things, a fantastic cook but his cooking had one amusing peculiarity: He Couldn't Cook Small. Everything he made, he made in sufficient quantities to feed an entire cell block. He often said there was a self-explanatory reason for this; don't ask. He may have been joking.

Anyway, some months before his death he catered a family reunion of some of our neighbors, and baked lasagna. T's lasagna was absolutely to die for. It was also all the bad things you've heard lasagna is supposed to be: a heart attack in a pan. Anyway, he made two of these ludicrous lasagnas, and the whole assembly only ate one. Our friends froze the other one, planning to have it later. Then T died. We probably should have thawed it out for the wake, but we didn't and it sat in a freezer for over a year. They brought it out for the anniversary dinner, but freezer burn had set in. They left it with me; it took three days to thaw. I had instructions to feed it to the boys. (Slightly OT: There's a standard joke about the boys. No matter what question you ask them, what they actually hear is "Want some cheese?" The answer is YES.)

Anyway, I heated some up and it wasn't as far gone as all that. But I could only eat about half of mine because I've grown used to a basic and rather bland diet and this stuff is rich. It was delicious but kind of upset my stomach. I'm not sure I could even eat pizza anymore, and I love pizza.

The boys had no such problems. They were in heaven. Now my problem is to keep it away from them to keep them from making themselves sick or fighting over it.

Lasagna: Nature's Most Perfect Food. Especially this lasagna.

Does anyone really care about this?

Look, I open Yahoo to check the weather forecast and this is all the news they show me. Clearly someone thinks it's important. I'm perplexed.
I'm going to assume the answer is yes, people do care. That show has been around for a long time now - or at least it seems so - and people do talk about it like they care.

I've never seen it, and I'm really not trying to go all Edward Abbey self-righteous on peoples' asses here. I just genuinely don't understand. It just seems so dumb. Why do people care about this? Can someone tell me?

Yet Another Walky Post

Well, yesterday's weather was everything advertised and more. Any day in April where you never lower your hood indoors or out, where you have to tack against the wind just to get across your yard, is no day for a lot of outdoor activity.

But overnight the wind blew itself out and the clouds blew away, and the day dawned unbelievably gorgeous. Magnus and Ghost are feeling better, and it was clearly no morning for hanging around the lair. So off we went to the Short Canyon.

Look close and you can still see Ghost favoring that hind leg on the rocks, but it didn't stop him playing canine mountain goat.

C'mon, Uncle Joel! Quit fiddling with the shiny thing and let's go!

The Short Canyon is a pleasant walk; not too hard, not too long, lotsa nice scenery. It's not quite a tame walk, but not something you know you'll have to drag yourself back from.

We got to the water hole, but it was empty; not a big surprise, it only fills with more precip. We haven't had that much snow. Then it can stay full for a week or more.

Fritz found a nice melt hole further on, though. Rock holds a little water better than sand does, duh.

And on the way back, everybody had a party. The pause that refreshes!

First Pics of the Puppies

About a week and a half ago I mentioned that I might be adding a pup to the pack. This morning my friends S&L sent me the first glimpse I've had of the litter. This is a quandary.

The mama is the one they're clustered around in the first picture. If she's a pure Shepherd I'll eat her paws with chili sauce. She looks more like a Shepherd/Doberman mix. The father is an Akita - I'm told. Every web picture I could scrape up of Akita Shepherds shows a mixed bag in regard to appearance, and this litter certainly fits that rule. Two of them look like Aussies.

They want me to pick! What's to pick from? Eeny meeny miny mo? Yike!

UPDATE: Mystery solved! If I'd scrolled down and read the whole email, I'd have known the answer. It seems there's a polyandry going on here; very reverse Mormon. Heather, it seems, Has Two Daddies. One's an Aussie, the other might be American Akita or a mix; he's definitely not Akita Uni. Any of those latter pups would serve; they'll be big and aggressive but not crazy. I think Anonymous is right: Male and calm around noise is the way to go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rats in the pantry

I really hate rats. Especially in the food, I hate rats.

The boys, on the other hand. They love rats. Rats are food.

"Sure, Seymour! 'I found this great place for our new nest,' he says. 'Food for a lifetime,' he says. Just one little catch you failed to notice, Seymour. My mother was right about you; I should have married that kangaroo rat near the wash! Then I wouldn't be in this mess!"

Ghost Update

When Ghost ripped off a rear claw last week, it left the inner pulp in place - a sort of bright-red mini-claw that was obviously sensitive as hell. He limped around on three legs, and for possibly the first time in his life he swore off walkies for the duration. Saturday when our neighbors S&L came in he snuck off to visit them as he usually does, but it was clear that mile-long walk through the rocks was hard on him. My other neighbor L, more knowledgeable about animals than I, told me earlier that the pulp would come off in time and he'd feel better, and then the claw would grow back over the next six weeks or so.

Well, yesterday he finally lost the vestige and it did prove an immediate relief. He's now got what looks like a healthy little wound there, and he's mostly back on four legs. This morning he militated for his walky for the first time in a week and was almost back to his old self - though you could really tell when he hit that boo-boo on a rock. So my neighbor's comforting prediction is proving true, and Ghost is getting back to his old self.