I’m Tellin’!

Just when you thought it was safe to read emails again, here’s the latest post from That Idiotic Tractor.

I’m sure if you grew up with siblings around like I did, you heard that headline a lot.  It was essentially a non-violent, first line of defense used to keep one’s siblings in line.  Example, your brother threatens to dig into your share of the Easter candy, “I’m tellin’!”  In my case there was always the older (idiotic) brother and then my younger (less idiotic) brother.  Unfortunately for me, the middle son (not idiotic at all), this defense tool was inoperable on the idiotic brother and very useful to the less idiotic brother.  The problem with the idiotic brother was that for a combination of reasons he was immune to the IT defense.  Jim was bad, my parents knew he was bad, and there was nothing that they could do to him that bothered him.  He just didn’t care, and so he just kept on being bad.  On the other hand, I was the “good” son, and therefore, I had a reputation to defend.  So when my less idiotic brother would threaten me with the IT defense, well I was vulnerable. (1)  By the way, I was able to protect my “good son” reputation all the way up until that unfortunate incident with the bourbon when I was in high school.

I only mention all of this by way of explaining why it doesn’t bother me to “tell” on myself (like the idiotic brother, I just don’t care anymore), as I did in the last post, or as I’m going to do next.  A little while back The Princess bought a thing called a depillatater, not sure of the spelling there. (2)  It’s a battery operated thing for hair removal.  Now you might think that because I’m nearly bald, I don’t need to worry about hair, but I do.  In fact, even though I’m bald on top, I’m fairly hairy on the bottom.  So I was thinking that since I’m in bike shorts so much and for hygiene and comfort purposes, it might be a good idea to run the “tater” over my bottom.  Even though above and beyond the call of duty for a wife (let alone a Princess), I asked The Princess if she might do me a favor and mow my butt.

Right away I should have suspected something when she jumped at the idea.  So, up in my bathroom I leaned forward on the counter and assumed the position.  The next thing I felt might have been the depillatater, but it felt more like a cattle prod.  I jumped about 6 inches off the floor.
“Holy Moses, take it easy with that thing.”
“Oh for crying out loud, don’t be such a sissy.”  Well, she went at me twice more, I mean barely touching my sensitive heinie, and each time, “youch,” I jumped probably even higher than the first time, I guess because I sensed it was coming.  That was that.  As she mumbled something about how men just can’t handle pain, she took that nasty tater and left.

You might think that that’s the end of the story, but if so you’d be wrong.  In the mornings, I shave in the shower, by feel only, no mirror.  I only lose a major piece of my face maybe once every six months.  Last Sunday I was having a leisurely soak in the tub and noticed my razor lying there on the edge.  Hmmm.(3)  Just like every six-year-old cuts his own hair with a scissors (at least once) I was inexorably drawn to that razor and the idea that while lying there in the tub I could easily shave my butt.  I went at it.  Over and over again I raked that razor over my posterior until it felt as smooth as, well…a babies butt.

Everything seemed great until I got out of the water.  Jeez, that feels a little raw I thought.  Within half an hour I had a raging case of razor rash.  About two hours later I went on a three-hour bike ride and that riled it up even more.  Treatments of lotion and baby powder have had some minimal effect.  Now several days later as the new hairs start to grow in I’ve got another sensation, as if I’m sitting on a pin cushion!  You should see me shift around in a chair trying to get comfortable.  Ok, “bottom” line, this was an incredibly bad idea.  If just one person has been saved disfigurement and pain by reading this, well then my experience will not have been in vain.  Remember, as tantalizing as an idea may be, whether your six or sixty-six, if it involves your butt, and something sharp-edged, think twice about it.

Moving on.  I’ve got Pony news.  When I took the carb apart, I found that the needle valve was “hanging-up,” that is, when the float would drop, the needle wouldn’t.  Turns out that the Chinese had put a rubber tip on the needle which on exposure to gasoline got more “gummy” as time went by.  Maggie sent out an all metal needle to replace the faulty one, and after installing it, I’ve got the carb put back together.  Here are a few pictures of the needle valve.  Remember, you can click on any of these to make them bigger.

The first shot shows the needle stuck in the up position, the second, the way it should be, and the third a shot of the needle itself with the offending rubber tip.

Gene and I have never had an easy and accurate way of turning the engine over slowly, so using some plumbing pipe and a 5/16th inch bolt I made a crank.  Here are a couple of shots of that.

The crank was useful in measuring the valve tappet gaps, which is the job we tackled next.  And holy buckets, we found that the No. 4 cylinder exhaust valve had loosened-up and had a huge gap.  See photos below.

That gap was around 1/4th inch and was supposed to be .012.  Between the carb problem and this tappet issue, I’m feeling pretty good that we have found and solved the power issues we we’re experiencing last fall.

Finally, on the last trip out to visit the Pony, I cut, reshaped and rerouted the gas line from the sediment bowl (fuel filter) to the carb (see pic below).

new fuel line

Then, in the category of housekeeping, although no Cost-O-Meter expenses have been incurred (4), the GuineaPig-O-Meter got a little bump.  I visited my friends in UNC’s EPA lab, and I made another sputum donation ($50).  On top of that, I got another little surprise.  The Princess noticed that an old broken earring I found on a bike ride (and which had been in Poodie’s (5) possession) was 14k gold.  Good eye, Princess, $18.

I believe that’s it for right now.  I’ll keep you posted on the Pony, as we should be cranking him back up soon.  Happy holidays and thanks for reading.

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(1)  My psychologist and TIT contributor, Dr. Reinhold Boehmke, advises that this situation is just one of the many factors contributing to what he calls “mittel Kind all gescrewed-up syndrome.”
(2)  Not a “tater” from Depilla, or Oregon, or anywhere else.
(3)  Ahhh, the germ of an idea.  If I could only have known then how bad it was.
(4)  Don’t bug me about the cost of the new crank ($13).  That’s a tool, so doesn’t count.
(5)  If you don’t remember our Poodie shrine of stuff found on bike rides, here’s a photo of him.
Poodie

It’s Hoops Time!

I was wondering, is there a blogging rule on how often the subject of “pooping” is fair game?  I mean can one go to that “well” too often?  Because of some concern on this point I went back and checked my old posts and discovered that my previous poop post was published on November 4, 2012, “How Low Can He Go.”  Heavens, I missed pooping on the entire year of 2013!  Ok, so surely under anyone’s rules, another poopy post should be allowed at this juncture.

It was a couple of weeks ago that I threw caution to the wind and broke a cardinal rule established following the last poopcident (described in that earlier post).  The rule is:  Never eat two donuts before or during a bike ride.  It was a cold on a recent Sunday morning, and since I had to wait for the day to warm up, I had a lot of time to goof off first.  The first nail in the coffin of that Sunday was my trip over to Monuts Donuts.  Of course, nails two and three were the delicious frosted hoops I consumed before leaving on my ride.  Then I suppose you could say that nails four and five, (the fried chicken and sticky bun consumed at the half way point of my ride) pretty much cinched it that I was going to go DOWN.  I didn’t know it then, but the process had been set in motion, and now it was only a matter of when.

I’m not going to draw this out, so I’ll just cut to the unfortunate and painful denouement.  About 10 miles out I began to feel the unmistakable first signs of “intestinal distress,” and as I approached the outskirts of Chapel Hill the cramps were severe.  I was now in the city though, and started to panic.  Where could I bail to and do my duty without making a display of myself.  Then, along the road I saw a group of three big telephone switch boxes, fabulous!  I hopped off the bike, dragged the bike into the brush and headed behind one of the big boxes.  Oh the relief!  I tidied-up a bit and feeling better started to head back to the road.  Ah no, not just yet.  Rushed back behind another one of the boxes and, well, you know.

Just when I was feeling MUCH better I heard a vehicle pull up and stop.  What the “&^@$” is going on?  You’ve never seen a guy hike up his drawers so fast.  Now, after having soiled the area around two of the three boxes I charged out of the weeds, grabbed my bike and saw the vehicle.  Unbelievable, it was the AT&T guy, in his van, come to work on the boxes on a SUNDAY?  Just as I saw him, he saw me.  I mean, poop, we made eye contact, so I couldn’t very well just leave and let the poor guy step on a roadside IPD (improvised poop device).  Can you imagine the damage one of those could do!?  So, as demeaning as it was, I walked up to the guy’s door, he rolled down the window, and I admitted my crime.  “I just took a ‘dump’ behind your boxes,” I said, ” so watch your step back there.”  The guy did NOT look happy, but had said nothing by the time I was up on the bike and peddling down the road.  Thank god that in biking gear and helmet, all of us bikers look the same.

Alright, that should take care of us for another year, but along those lines… hey, let’s talk about toilets.  The Princess got a bit too energetic with the cleanser recently and scrubbed the laminated finish right off the toilet seat in her bathroom.  So, after pestering me for a couple of weeks, we finally went out to Lowe’s to buy a new seat.  This is the kind of project that you think is going to be easy, but turns out to be a big huge pain.  There were at least twenty (probably more) seats displayed on the wall.  How do you choose?  Well, first you cull out all the circular ones (our toilet is oval), then all the cheap plastic ones, and the colored ones, and the squishy ones and the wood-grained ones and then you’re still left with about half a dozen.

We finally picked one out, brought it home, and since I didn’t read the instructions (naturally, I mean how hard could it be?) it took me way longer than it should have to install the stupid thing, and in the end, I’m not even sure if I got it right.  I guess if I hear screaming from the “biffy” I’ll know something’s amiss.  But job done, I gave the thing a try, and holy poop, it’s the neatest thing.  Turns out we bought what they call the “Whisper Close” option.  The box, now that I looked at it, says that this feature eliminates slamming and pinched fingers…well ok.

I can’t really properly explain how cool this is, so I made a short YouTube video for you, which you can access by clicking right here. Ladies, if you have a guy around the house who refuses to put the seat back down for you, this baby is the ticket.  I like watching this seat close so much, that I find myself going into The Princess’s bathroom to pee, just so I can watch the cover close.

Pony News
I did go out to Gene’s last week and got reacquainted with the Pony.  He was a bit miffed at the lack of attention, but I’ll start making up for lost time soon.  In an attempt to get to the bottom of the “lack of power” issue that came up at the end of last season, I tackled the fuel system first.  I removed the sediment bowl and gas line to the carb, drained the gas tank, and removed the carb.  Next I’ll be taking the carb apart and checking the jets.  Then while the carb is off, Gene and I are going to check the gaps on the valve tappets.  I’ll let you know how that all goes in the next post.

But I’ll leave you with this little limerick:

Just one donut, gives reason to lament.
Certainly two would be heaven-sent.
But I’ve got a suggestion
That’s good for digestion.
Give up that second one for Lent.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

“OHHHHH!”

What a week.  When we’re in the middle of winter’s nastiness, I always tell people not to worry, the daffodils will be up on February 15.  Then we got six inches of snow last Wednesday, and even I began to wonder.  But here’s a little sequence of photos taken from last Weds to this Weds.

The first was taken out the back door of our place on the 12th (32 degrees).  The second was taken with my phone while out on Sunday’s bike ride (52 degrees).  And the last one I took with the phone again just this afternoon (72 degrees).  You may recognize the old log cabin from a shot I included in the blog last spring.  So, groundhog schmoundhog, we got our daffys pretty much right on time.

I came in the door from today’s “morning 40,” and The Princess was watching Olympic curling on the TV.  Now there’s something crazy.  Who decided that pushing little bean pots with a stick was worthy of the Olympics?  Good Grief!  I’d say on the basis of that we ought to add the Morning 40 event to the next summer games.  Anyone want to bet on me winning that one…well maybe not…but at least I could relate to it.

An investment Olympic event, that would be a good one for me.  Imagine it kind of like figure skating.

The commentator:  “He’s really doing well folks, he’s bought back into the market at a low,  his investments are doing well as the market moves up, and OHHHHH, he missed that quad trade on Apple stock, if only he’d just tried the triple.  He’s having a hard time getting his footing back, but now he seems to be skating smoothly again.  Everything is clicking, and OHHHHH, he loses ground trying to time the market during the fiscal cliff sow kow.  The judges are going to hate this routine…and the scores…for technical difficulty, a 9.9.  Man, he shouldn’t even be trying this stuff, and for execution, OHHHH, 3.2.  Boy did they whack him!(1)

Other things I like about the Olympics, and don’t get me wrong here, I don’t really have a feeling about them one way or another.  I just like the way they role off the tongue when I say them.  In reverse order of preference:
Putin, Sochi and my favorite…Pussy Riot!  I love the Olympics.

Moving on.  The police log in the UNC student rag, The Daily Tar Heel, boy, I go there first in the morning if I want a chuckle.  We had two good ones recently.  The first one went something like this:  someone broke and entered a residence a 473 Egolf St.  Reported missing was a piece of cheese valued at $5.00.  Wow, that’s scary.  I’m sure they’ll be bringing Wallace and Gromit in for questioning.  The other one, from this morning’s edition, and this one is really scary, because it occurred less than a mile from here:  someone broke and entered and stole various items of furniture including a couch and dug a large hole in the back yard.  Hmmm, this one really has me flummoxed, but if any of you have a plausible explanation I’d love to hear from you.  And then, put the damn couch back!

“Binge-watching,” is another phrase like “Polar Vortex” that came into its own during the last year.  It results from the new tactic some TV channels are following of putting a whole season of a particular television show up for viewing on a particular date.  We binge-watched multiple seasons of Doc Martin.  We binge-watched the first season of House of Cards, and then we binge watched all three seasons of the British version of House of Cards.  We’re now in the process of reeling through all of the second season of the U.S. Version.  For anyone not familiar, where have you been, under a rock?  The shows are fictional political dramas, with incredibly ruthless characters.  These politicians think nothing of jumping in the sack with anyone and everyone, blackmail, murder, you name it.  Something interesting (frightening actually) has happened to me after watching all these violent shows.  In the episode we watched last night, the plot called for a prostitute to be hidden away, so that she could not make damaging statements about the now Vice President.  They’ve been moving this gal around for weeks, at great expense, with a good degree of risk and I finally said to The Princess, why don’t they just kill her?  Yikes, I’ve become a MONSTER!

Finally, I’ll leave you with this.  The Princess asked me today what the dates for hurricane season are.  I’m not sure, but I think its something like June to November (2), but it got me thinking about the upcoming season.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s going to be a ferocious season.  Lots of great big ones slamming into great big cities and causing a real mess.  I’m also going to predict that when the season is really in full swing and folks are looking to lay blame, the three prime targets will be the “polar vortex,” God and Obama.

Hope it’s getting warmer where ever you are too.  Thanks for reading.

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1.  The routine is actually much longer than the portion of commentary quoted, as it’s the “long” program.  Suffice to say, however, that the degree of difficulty remains high throughout, and the execution  continues to smell up the place.
2.  Throwing you a curve here.  This is a real fact as confirmed by Wikipedia; the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.  Who says you can’t learn sumpin in this blog.

Why Aren’t We All Italian?

I was pulling up my jeans (yeah, one of the new pair) yesterday, and I’m not sure why, but this thought crossed my brain, if Darwin was right with his “theory of evolution” why aren’t we all Italian?  Over the millions of years that man was evolving, wouldn’t the hairiest of the species have become dominant?  The hairier of the species should have taken over the world, because they had more protection from injury, insects and the sun and were insulated against the cold.  And yet here we are, all seemingly on equal footing survival-wise, and all of us, even the Italians, wearing clothes. (1)  If there are any anthropologists out there who can explain this to the Pony and me, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Since I personally am losing more hair every day, thereby relying ever more on clothing and warm temperatures, nothing has been going on out in the garage.  Thursday morning it was 7 degrees here which tied the record low for the day.  Sheesh!  This year’s super-low temperatures have now been explained away as having something to do with the catch phrase of the 03/04 winter, “polar vortex.”  How did we ever get along before, on those cold days in winter, without being able to blame the pv?  I’ll tell you how, we all blamed God.  “God, it’s cold out here.” or “I hope to God it gets warmer,” or “What in God’s name is up with these cold temperatures?”

Just an aside, but in this year of the polar vortex, would you ever have guessed that there would be two major news stories where a vortex took center stage.  Well, it happened right here in Raleigh folks when even before the polar vortex slid into town an amusement ride at the NC State Fair named…The Vortex…malfunctioned and seriously injured a bunch of folks.  Since stuff tends to happen in threes, I’m anticipating something else yet of a vorticular nature, maybe a cult of folks that like nothing better than to run around in circles, oh wait, that’s called congress.  Oops, sorry, not going there….

Before I leave weather altogether, you folks in the north will absolutely fall off your chairs.  Snow was predicted for us for sometime late Tuesday.  They cancelled school that afternoon, even though the sun was still poking through the clouds, and it didn’t start snowing until about 10:00 that night.  When it did snow, we got a total overnight snowfall of one inch, and I’m being generous there.  Holy Moses!  Schools have been closed now for two additional days.  If schools up north acted similarly, I’m thinking kids in Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc would be illiterate.

In keeping with this week’s Super Bowl mania (and this being the last day of January) I’m ready to report on the final score of the Super Mug.  That was the game that pitted Starbucks against me in a contest to see who’d make out better monetarily from my drinking “free” coffee from their $75 mug for the month of January.  Drum roll please…  Over 31 days I filled the mug 43 times, so at an average cost of $4 per refill I got $172 worth of coffee, plus the mug, for which they ordinarily charge $20.  So, the final score:  Idiotic Author $192-Starbucks $75.(2)  As I sit here sipping that 43rd refill a few observations, thoughts and musings:
1.  During the month I drank everything from cappuccino to their latest coffee extravaganza, the caramel flan latte, but never just plain brewed coffee.  My favorite turned out to be the Americano, with an extra shot of espresso.  So, my earlier bias for strong, unsweetened coffee was confirmed.  The only time I enjoyed a sweetened drink like the caramel flan latte was when after “the morning 40″ I was craving lots of calories.
2.  I noticed a couple of disturbing trends that if they continued could tilt the longer term more in favor of Starbucks.  Although in the past I’d simply order a “tall” (small) brewed coffee and sipped on it all morning, for the last month I have been ordering “grande” espresso drinks and slamming them back within an hour or so of purchase.  That’s more coffee, stronger coffee and more expensive coffee.  Uh oh…  So the question is, have I won the battle, but lost the war?
3.  I’ve become a Starbucks “groupie” having taken to hanging-out at my favorite Starbucks.  I bring a crossword puzzle along and try to fill-in the little squares with my caffeine jittery hand.  So now the puzzles are both mentally and physically challenging.
4.  One day I was standing around waiting for the barista to make my drink and I saw this little scenario play out.  Two guys come in.  They snag two of the most comfortable chairs in the place, and then one of them goes up to the barista and asks for some hot water in his used Starbucks cup.  He takes the cup back to his friend and shares half the water with him.  Then he reaches into his back pack, takes out a jar of instant coffee and stirs some into both cups.   Crazy!  What good does it do, to go to a Starbucks and drink your own crappy coffee?  Is the flavor of the crappy coffee somehow improved by the placebo effect of drinking it in a Starbucks?  If I was scoring this one I’d call it a 0-0 tie.

Due to the pseudo-scientific nature of this post, you will have observed notations in the text which refer to footnotes found at the end of the post.  Read them at your peril.

My wish for you is that Groundhog Day fulfills your hopes for global, scratch that, I meant gradual warming and that your Valentines Day brings the heart warming we all long for.  If neither of those work out, head on over to Starbucks and order a grande Americano with and extra shot (it’s now called the Brucio) (3), hell do it anyway, can’t hurt.  Thanks for reading.
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(1)  The Idiotic Author has no proof whatsoever that Italians are hairier than any other nationality, but he’s sure they are anyway.
(2)  Some might argue that the Mug bowl should be scored based on the cost that Starbucks has invested in the coffee and the drink, not the prices it charges for them.  The author disagrees, it’s his game, and he’ll score it anyway he wants.
(3)  Brucio is pronounced the hairy, Italian way like this:  brewcheeoh.

Starbucks Files for Chapter 11?

Happy New Year.  I’ve managed to wrest control of the blog back from that conniving Pony.  He thought he was pretty hot stuff after doing the December post all on his own, but it’s a pathetic cowboy that can’t control his horse, so I  forced him back into his stall in the garage.  Talk about kicking up a fuss!  Good news though, it looks like warmer weather is on the way, so I too may be back in the garage shortly.

In the meantime, various stuff for your consideration.
1.  From Bruce’s Book Corner, a recommendation.  Based on her reading of my blog, one of my loyal readers suggested a book that I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed.  I’m fairly certain that if you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll enjoy the book “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger.  It’s a novel set in small town Minnesota in 1961 and tells the story of what happened there during that summer.
2.  For most of my life I’ve had two pair of jeans.  A nice pair for things like going out to dinner and then a ratty pair (really just the last nice pair) for dirty work.  I can’t count the times over the years I’ve stood by the dryer waiting for one of those two to come out, never mind if the rivets are so hot they leave little burn marks around my waist.  Last week, I don’t know what came over me, but I told The Princess, “Come on, life’s too short, we’re going to Kohl’s and I’m gonna buy some jeans.”  I walked out of the store with not one, but two pair of brand new Levis.  I’m wearing a pair right now, and I’m telling you, I now know what it feels like to be rich.  For the rest of my days on this planet, I will have a clean pair of jeans whenever I want them.
3.  Public Service Announcement.  Yeah, you know what’s coming…that’s right, I’ve discovered another great donut shop.  It’s a cute little place in downtown Durham called Monuts Donuts.  Early on a Saturday morning when I stopped in, the place was a hub of activity.  I brought an assortment home for sampling purposes, and I found several of the raised, glazed and frosted ones to be outstanding.  In particular I’d like to applaud the maple bacon bourbon donut with bacon bits sprinkled on top as being far superior to the bacon donuts I used to get out in Saxapahaw before the baker out there quit.  Can you imagine a donut with more fun stuff in it and on it than that?  Well maybe, if you’re in Colorado.  And don’t forget, as mentioned in my nutrition post, like all donuts, they’ve got lots of vitamin D (as in donut), so they’re good for you.  Ok, ok, so they’re not actually good for you, but by golly I sure feel better after eating one!
4.  This is what a $75 coffee cup looks like.

Starbucks cup

Now, I know you’re thinking, this guy doesn’t just feel rich, HE IS RICH!  No way, but in this cup I saw a real opportunity.  First, it’s a really great coffee holder.  It keeps stuff hot for a long time and it seals so tightly that if it slips off the roof of your car (not saying that actually happened) it won’t spill a drop.  Now here is the beauty thing.  All during January I can fill it up as often as I want with whatever drink I want for no additional charge.  At an average cost of $4 per refill, as of today (Jan 14), with 19 refills I’ve more than paid for the mug.  So for the rest of the month, I’m “in the black,” and Starbucks is “carrying me.”  Woo hooo!  Thus, the headline of this post, which was actually suggested by son Andrew.  Of course, another headline might read something like,  NORTH CAROLINA MAN SUES STARBUCKS OVER COFFEE ADDICTION!  Because when this month is over, I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard to ween me off that stuff.
5.  I was wandering around in the Kohl’s store waiting, and waiting, and WAITING…while The Princess shopped.  Rarely has this ever been a profitable way for me to spend time…until now.  I was in the middle of the Jennifer Lopez clothing section, don’t ask me why, and I looked down and there on the floor was a crumpled up dollar bill.  Thanks J-Lo!  I picked up the buck and continued…WAITING…and then had an idea.  I took the crumpled-up buck over to a sale rack in the men’s department, found a shirt with a pocket on it, and tucked the buck nicely down into it.  I told The Princess what I’d done, and she said, “Boy, that doesn’t sound like you.”  But I don’t know; what I was thinking about is the expression on a guy’s face some day in the future when he wears that shirt for the first time and finds that buck.  Just imagining that is worth a buck to me.

Finally, as we sit on the door step of a new year, don’t you wonder, what’s in store for us?  To me it’s mind-boggling, scary, but also kind of hopeful, like having a present and wondering what’s inside.  Here’s hoping that next December after you’ve read yet another Christmas post penned by the Pony, you’ll be able to say, “Ya know, that was a pretty good year.”
Thanks for reading.

Nine-Two-Two, A Christmas Story

Hey folks, this is the Pony writing.  Bruce asked that I write this post, so that he can get his Christmas chores out of the way.  He did prime me (no pun intended) with a few things he wanted you to know.  First, going back to that Thai tree, he and The Princess kept that thing for about two weeks fussing over it, but then decided it would look better back on a hillside in Thailand than in their living room.  Pretty comical watching them try to stuff that tree back into its box, but the job was done, the tree is gone and the old 9 footer is back up in the living room for another year.  Even with her numerous trips up and down the ladder, The Princess reports no serious injuries.  Here are a couple snaps.

Christmas treetractor ornament

I thought you’d enjoy that shot of the best ornament on the tree.

Another thing Bruce asked me to pass along  (don’t shoot the messenger), but breaking long-standing tradition, there will be no Christmas card mailing this year.  He suggested that you accept this “Christmas letter” from me, in lieu thereof.  That’s heaping a lot of pressure on me, but I’ll try to forgo the usual carping and snide comments and keep this on a higher plane than previous years.  So, you can thank Bruce for speeding along the demise of both the greeting card industry and the US Postal Service.  Oops, sorry, I already forgot about the “no snide comments” thing.

Third, he hasn’t spent a single minute out in the garage since before Thanksgiving, so I’m not only lonesome (there goes the “no carping”), but there’s no Pony news to report.  It is pretty cold out here though, so I don’t blame him (much).  I’m not sure if you ever noticed this, but Bruce likes to limit his blog posts to around a thousand words each, so that leaves me about 700 words to tell you a story.  Bear in mind that you’re getting this story second-hand, and from a tractor, but what follows are the facts (to the best of my recollection) of a story I heard a reasonably trustworthy looking guy tell Gene out in the garage a couple of years back.

Every year it seems things get weird around Christmas and 2007 was no exception.  Due to some financial reversals I’d been forced to move back in with my parents.  This had been the situation for about six months, and although we’d settled into a reasonably amicable routine, the trust level between them and me wasn’t real good.  I mean think of me in the shower after a  dirty, hard day out in the December cold.  I was just starting to feel the muscles relax under the hot shower and I sensed something change, I think maybe the light.  I look up and here they both are, heads above the shower curtain, peering in at me.
“Hey son.”
“Hi Honey, you’ve been in here a long time, so we thought we’d better check on ya.”
Turns out they were each standing on a chair, gawking and talking.  “Confound it, leave me alone will you.  Can’t a guy get any peace and privacy in this house.”
“Oh honey, we just worry about youuu.”
“Get out, get out, get out!”

I relate that part of what was said, not because it has anything to do with the rest of the story, but so that you can see that I was paying attention, still have a good recall of details, even after several years, and so that you sense the weirdness that was part of this guy and part of his holidays as Christmas approached.

It was Christmas Eve.  We were working a shortened day.  I was foreman of a road crew laying fiber optic cable along Jones Ferry Road.  We’d planned to knock off around 2:00 pm and it was approaching that, so I told the guys to start wrapping it up for the day.  I was leaning into the cab of my pick-up to grab my two-way radio when behind me I heard what sounded like something crashing into the trees.  When I turned I saw one of the guys, Lenny, standing gape-mouthed facing the woods and the ass-end of a big doe disappearing fast into the woods.  My brain didn’t have more time, but if it had it would have reminded me that more than likely right behind that doe there’d be a buck in hot pursuit.  Well sure enough, before you could say Merry Christmas, I heard hooves on the asphalt behind me, and in a flash that buck flew by me, but apparently didn’t see Lenny in time and I mean absolutely tore through him like he wasn’t even there.
Lenny went “ass over tea cups,”
for a good 15 feet only stopping because his poor broken body made good solid contact with a a cedar tree at the edge of the woods, an audible whoosh of air exploding from his lungs.  Jim and Terry had been about a hundred feet down the road, but arrived out of breath just as I leaned over Lenny to assess the situation.  You know that scene in Ground Hog Day where after Bill Murray drives the stolen pick-up…and the stolen ground hog…off the cliff, and the truck hits the floor of a quarry upside down with a crash.  The TV camera man looks over the edge and says, “He might be ok.”  But then the pick-up bursts into flames and he says, “Well no, probably not?”  That’s the kind of thought process I went through as I looked at the unconscious Lenny, and then saw blood pulsing out of a deep gash in his arm.  The damn buck must’ve caught him with an antler tip.
Not a word from the guys as I mumbled, “Oh God, oh Jesus, we gotta do something quick.
I reached for my cell and nervously fumbling with the thing jabbed at the numbers 9-1-1.  Cell reception is notoriously spotty as far out as we were on Jones Ferry, but when the ringing stopped and it sounded like the line had been answered I shouted into it our situation and our approximate location.  When I had finished, there was static on the line, but no voice, nuthin.  I told the guys I wasn’t sure I’d gotten through, gave Jim the phone and told him to keep calling until he actually got a voice on the line.  I told Terry that I wasn’t even sure if Lenny was alive, but that if we didn’t stop that blood flow fast, he for sure wouldn’t be.
“Find something we can use as a tourniquet,  I mean quick.”

In 30 seconds Terry was back with a dirty t-shirt he’d found in the back of the pick-up.  I went once around Lenny’s arm, up as close to the shoulder as I could, and made a knot as tight as I could get it.  The blood flow slowed, and as I looked away from Lenny for the first time, I saw a guy on a bike come over the rise.  I must have looked like I was in real trouble, because when the guy got across the road from us he got off his bike, walked over and said, “Maybe I can give you a hand here.”

Alright, I see now that I’m well over the 1000 word limit, but I’m thinking you probably don’t want me to leave this thing hanging open until the next post, so I’ll try to wrap it up.

I still heard no sirens off in the distance and hope was fading that I’d even gotten through earlier.  Jim kept trying, but was having no luck.  I thought, crap, I hope this guy on the bike knows something.  Amazingly he did.  “Nice tourniquet guys.”  After some initial assessment, the guy asked if anyone had a jack-knife.  I pulled out mine, and he went into action.  Before I knew it he’d sliced a length of tubing from some kind of drinking gear on his back, poked a hole in Lenny’s chest and slipped the tube in.  For the first time since the buck took him down, I saw Lenny’s chest rise and fall as he started to breathe easy.
The guys scraped out the rear of Jim’s pick-up, and the four of us hefted the still unconscious Lenny into the bed.  Jim roared out onto the road with Terry riding shotgun and the biker in the back, Lenny’s head in his lap.  My hands were still shaking as I quickly worked to close down our work site for the day.  Exhausted, I hopped in the truck and headed for the hospital wondering “who was that guy?” and hoping the best outcome for Lenny.
Jim and Terry were at the ER, and they assured me that everything looked good.  Lenny was conscious and his arm would be “ok.”
“Where’s the biker?” I asked.
“You know that’s a funny thing.  In the confusion that reined when we pulled in here we kind of lost track of that guy.  His bike’s gone from the back of my truck and so is he.”
“I’ll be…well if that ain’t that the dangdest.”
I sat in the ER waiting room pondering the events of that Christmas Eve, mindlessly holding my cell phone, and noticed that I had a text message.  The message had come in about two hours earlier at about the time all the excitement started.  The message was from the number 9-2-2 and simply said, “I’ll be there in a minute.”
I’ll never fully understand what happened that day, and I think it’s probably useless to try.  But I’m never going to forget the Christmas Eve when a doe, a buck and a biker changed everything.

Well, back to the present.  No post should ever end without a little “art.”  Here’s a photo of Bruce shamelessly sucking-up to the “big guy,” and both of them looking forward to Christmas.

Santa 2

Merry Christmas everyone from Bruce, The Princess and me.  Thanks for reading.  

Two Turkeys

That one lone photo of the Pony’s new pivot pin in the last post seemed a pretty meager offering.  Always wanting to give my readers plenty of “art,” I’m just sending along this quick post to make sure you had a good visual of some turkey as you go into Thanksgiving.  We were taking a late afternoon walk yesterday, and with the sun getting low in the sky The Princess caught this photo of two turkeys.

two turkeys 1a

Both will be stuffed on Thanksgiving, I’ll just be stuffed a little later than my friend here.
Happy Thanksgiving…again.