General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com

Thursday, May 08, 2003
Woodpeckers, Squirrels and Other Varmints

I seem to have beaten the squirrels in the war of the birdfeeder. I bought one of those rounded shields, put it on a steel post and strategically placed it away from any trees, roof eaves or other jumping from places. I then hung the birdfeeder from an arm on the post. After a month, the squirrels still haven't managed to get around the shield.

The king of the birdfeeder is a BIG redheaded woodpecker. When he arrives, everyone else leaves. He flies from the feeder to a hole in a dogwood tree and seems to be hiding sunflower seeds in a bole of the tree. This morning, there was a smaller breed of woodpecker pecking away at the hiding place. This may be interesting.

Speaking of varmints, old Wally is late this mornig, the one morning when I needed to be out meeting with a client. Of course, Wally is far enough in to the job that I have to keep him around until it is finished. This is the first time he has ever been late, so I guess I will forgive him.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003
This is certainly a fine day. The weather guys are saying we have a fair to middlin chance of being blown away by mid-afternoon and here I am diligently working on producing a really spectacular piece of work for the federal government. I will turn it in tomorrow and it will most likely be ignored. Oh well, it's a living.

I have been trying to fix a drainage problem around the house and each "fix" seems to make it worse. It rained so hard yesterday that the water flows are well marked by debris and I may be able to put my drains and berms in the right places to direct the water to the drainage ditch and give it a good start on its way to the Gulf. The idea is to get the water on its way but leave my grass and soil here. We'll see.

A Little Continuation of the Trailer Story

The Summer Semester ended but I stayed in Jacksonville since I had a second job delivering the B'Ham News. Things were quiet after "Johnny" and "Amy" left. I got a new roommate when "David" returned from doing his six months active duty tour with the National Guard. David was another guy whom I had never before met but he turned out to be a really nice guy and probably the best roommate I had. The trailer was another story. Everything was going good until it turned a little cold in November, probably dipping into the 40s. In one night, we went through 55 gallons of number 2 heating oil. Now, in 1967, heating oil cost about 15 cents a gallon but we were getting paid a big $1 an hour working on campus. We couldn't possible feed the furnace and still eat ourselves. We tried adjusting the furnace only to have it quit entirely. If it was set so it would burn, it drank the oil at a truly stupendous rate. Either we could have heat or we could eat.

We finally decided that we could make it until the end of the semester in mid-January by spending a lot of time in the student union building and anywhere else they would let us hang out and by turning the electric oven to its highest setting and leaving the door open.. We would then rush into the trailer, jump in bed fully clothed, undress under the covers and do the reverse in the morning. By showering in the college gym, we made it through the semester.

Neither of us has ever again lived in a trailer.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Terry over at Possumblog has written about his time living in a trailer. I had a similar adventure while in college at Jacksonville State here in the fine state of Alabama. Of course, my adventure was many years if not decades prior to Terry's and I am approaching senility and barely remember my own name, so I can't tell you the brand of the trailer or remember the address within Mrs. Boozer's trailer court. I remember it was 8 feet wide and about 40 feet long and had two bedrooms on opposite ends. I had a roommate who I did not know all that well but it was Summer Semester and I needed someone to share the rent.

The trailer was everything you could hope for, cramped, no AC and in the middle of a trailer park inhabited by college students. A real fine place to live. I learned a lot in my few short weeks there. I had barely moved in when Mrs. Boozer who owned the Court started coming over to see me almost everyday to complain about the constant traffic in and out of my trailer and to let me know she did not approve of boys and girls mixing so freely. Well, that was certainly a revelation to me since I was working as a cook in the college dining hall and my day started at 4:30 AM and ended after 6:00 PM. I went to class between meals and usually managed to catch a little study time in the PM at the trailer which was when Mrs. Boozer caught me. I hadn't seen any of these "boys and girls" she was talking about.

One morning around 6:30 as I worked on frying my daily 6 hundred eggs, one of the girls from the serving line came over to my grill and asked if I had found her "boyfriend's" wallet in my trailer. I was a bit taken back since I had no recollection of her being in my trailer nor did I know her "boyfriend". After I grilled her for a few minutes, she reluctantly told me that "Johnny" (my roommate) was letting her use the trailer to entertain her boyfriends from Ft. McClellan and he was taking a cut of the proceeds.

Johnny and I parted ways right after that. I told "Amy" that she would have to find a new venue for her business venture and I moved into a real house. Funny thing is: "Amy" went on to teach highschool social studies. I suppose that was appropriate.

A really big storm here today. In the small area I can see from my house, there have been a big oak down across one street and several limbs blown into our yard. The county has now removed the oak, but it is still raining and all the seed I sowed on Saturday have departed on a trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Again this year, my lawn is better traveled than I am.

Wally is back working on the bathroom and I expect to have him around again all day. I think I am going to have to do a bit of the work myself since each hour he works moves my retirement farther away.

Monday, May 05, 2003
My Weekend: as told by Larry

Saturday was the day to move several truckloads of good old Alabama red clay around, fill in around the workshop I recently built, build some low berms to control rain runoff and generally improve the layout of the old homestead. Fortunately, I had a backhoe and a real operator so it went pretty well. The heavy lifting was done by the machine and the only hand work was raking and smoothing the berms so I could sow grass seed. Now if it will only come up before we get ot the heat of Summer.

I had the good sense to get the backhoe guy to move a couple more tons of rock from the big stack back of my house over to where I need to use them. I am really hoping the stack of rocks is on the developer's property because there is a big old sinkhole there and it looks like the farmers who owned the land for a couple hundred years piled their field rocks in as they found them. There must be about 30 cubic yards of rock in that hole.

Saw two pair of Red-Breasted Grosbeaks on my birdfeeder. I know they aren't supposed to be this far down, but it has been real cool here so maybe they think they are up North.

Sunday was spent in unproductive searches for things that may not exist. First, we set out to find a place to take my m-in-law for mother's day. Can't be any of the national chain places because they do not fit her criteria for a fit place to eat. All Mexican eateries are out because she spent a year in Mexico 70 years ago and is an expert on Mexican cooking and the restaurants run by genuine Mexicans here in Alabama are not "authenic" according to her.

She prefers places where she can see the food before ordering so we do a lot of cafeterias and buffets when she is along. Easter, we took her to a nice upscale place that has a buffet on Sundays and she really liked it. I am really for a return trip since if my M-in-law is not happy, my wife is not happy and....... But yesterday, we went looking for some new and different place to eat. Tried an "Italian" buffet. Not a good idea. The place always has a lot of business and yeaterday, I found out why. Lots of calories at a low price. Everything was swimming is olive oil. A little olive oil is a good thing but this place must buy it in tanker cars. Even the grilled chicken was marinated in olive oil; after it was grilled. I do have to admit that the pizza was good and the softserve ice cream was ok.

Afterwards, we set out to find a cell phone for my wife. She has been using an old 3.5 watt analog phone for several years strictly as an emergency device. The battery finally died and now she needs a new phone. Did you ever try to find something like the "right" phone for a person who really doesn't want one to begin with. Not a good plan. I think we will go with a prepay plan since it appears to be the cheapest for someone who doesn't plan to use the phone.

We then went in search of a new TV for my m-in-law who is basically blind and can't see her old TV. See what I mean by hopeless causes? Well, we actually succeeded in finding a TV to buy. It meets the basic criteria: Cheap, bigger screen and large remote buttons. Now all we have to do is go back and pick it up.

I have been looking at recumbent exercise cycles for several weeks and finally settled on one at a local big box sporting goods store. Went in, stood by the machine for 30 minutes and the one employee they seemed to have on the floor never made it by. I will try again one day this week. I like how the big stores operate. Roll into town, put all the small stores out of business by under-cutting them on prices then cut their own staff to eliminate any semblance of service.

Today, I have Wally in working on the house. You may have read about Wally over at The BBQ Emporium. He does good work and he shows up on time. I am having the world's most expensive electric bathroom heater installed. The heater didn't cost all that much, but Wally is having to disassemble the house to put it in. $10 for the heater and $10,000 for Wally's labor. He is thinking about retiring after he finishes this job.

I guess I had better get to paying work since I have to support Wally for the next few days.