Published in the Rains County Leader on August 6, 2019:
In a First World Country like the United States, we tend to take the availability of safe, potable water for granted. Sure, there are complaints about chemical additives and other impurities in our tap water, and we spend millions on water filters and bottled water. In fact, we have specialty waters like artesian water, iceberg water, mountain water, mineral water, flavored water, vitamin water and so forth. But still, we assume water will come out of our faucets – until it doesn’t.
Last week I was coming home from a grocery store run when I passed some work in progress on the side of the road around the curve from our place. There was a backhoe as well as several city trucks that said something about “distribution” on the side. They were working in front of a house-in-progress, so I assumed they were bringing in water. As it turned out, I was right. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on July 30, 2019:
Kitty is not a celebrity who seeks the spotlight. She is more like Greta Garbo, the Swedish-American movie star of the 1920’s and 30’s who is famous for the line, I want to be alone. Unlike some family pets who never meet a stranger, Kitty hides under the bed when visitors come, and even though she tries to sneak outside occasionally, she seems to prefer watching life go by from behind a pane of glass. However, the rules and regulations of society don’t favor the sensitivities of the recluse, and this week she had to go out into the world.
When she makes it outside, Kitty seems to be a prime target for fleas and other insects that make a furry feline itch. Even when she stays indoors, the pests seem to make it inside, possibly hitching a ride on jeans or shoes. Regardless of how they get there, Kitty is very aware of their presence, and so are we when she chooses to scratch in the middle of the bed at 3:00 am or when she evicts the little varmints into the couch or the carpet. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 28, 2019:
When I left you last week, David and I were both tired and sore from a week of climbing and crawling around on a ladder and porch railings to paint and to mount sheets of foam insulation on the ceiling of our new front porch. This week we had several days to rest and recuperate.
Monday we drove to Fort Worth to attend our grandson’s jazz band concert. An amazing performance was presented by all the students, especially by Mattias who I still can’t believe is in high school. We spent the night to avoid getting home well past the witching hour. It also allowed us to visit over breakfast and lunch before heading for home.
The schedule for the rest of the week was full, but by Saturday we were out of excuses. Well, I had one excuse – an online book event that required a bit of promo work. While I was on the computer, David put on his work clothes and headed outside. It wasn’t more than five minutes when I heard him calling me. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:
Florida requires that, when developers put in new subdivisions, they leave a certain percentage of the land in its natural state. We were blessed to have a retention pond right behind our house and a screened-in porch – better known as a lanai by the natives – where we could sit and watch the wildlife. Some of the wildlife, like the alligators, was a little too wild, but the large variety of birds was fascinating.
One in particular caught my eye. It was a rather large black bird with a long neck. It would dive under the water and stay for a long time. Then it would surface and stretch its neck straight up so it could swallow whatever tasty bit of marine life it had snagged before disappearing into the water again. When its tummy was full, it would climb out of the water and sit on a log or rock where it would spread its wings and sit for a spell before flying away.
No one in our household of transplanted Texans could shed any light on this bird and its unusual habits, so I went to the Internet. I found a wildlife site that had a place for questions, and I described our visitor. I received a prompt reply that I was watching an Anhinga or Snakebird. The reason it spread its wings after a swim was that, unlike other aquatic birds, it didn’t have any oil on its feathers. It had to spread out in the sunshine so it could dry off enough to fly.
I have felt somewhat like a Snakebird lately, especially Wednesday of last week. It has been so wet this spring that everyone I know is checking their feet for webbing, and companies that make mildew removers are making a fortune. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 30, 2019:
“All roads lead to Rome” is a proverb of unknown origin that has come to mean that everything you do and everywhere you go will eventually lead you to the center of things. In the days of the Roman Empire, this was true because all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city.
In present day consumer-driven American society where trends come and go at the speed of teenage whimsy, it’s almost impossible to determine where the center of things lies from moment to moment. However, I believe I have verifiable evidence that, at least during this past week, this small town was that center and that, indeed, all roads did lead to Emory. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 19, 2019:
When I say that Kitty keeps us straight, I don’t mean that she keeps us on the straight and narrow. What I mean is that, because she is a curious cat, and she always wants to be where she’s not, we have learned to put things away and batten down the hatches.
Like most cats, Kitty enjoys batting small objects around the floor before knocking them under the grandfather clock or between the refrigerator and cabinet. Then, she stares mournfully after the lost toy until I put my laptop aside and retrieve the toy. She thanks me by either knocking it back into hiding or marching away with her nose and tail in the air. (more…)