Big Yellow Taxi

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Do you remember Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi? I was in 7th grade when it hit the charts back in 1970. In 1970, I could find my earrings. That’s proving to be a challenge in 2012.

It’s relatively quiet here on the ranch.  We’re about half way through the drilling process. It’s mostly me and the mud trucks and the tankers and the coyotes and a skunk and a few delivery and service calls from 12 – 5 a.m.

It’s the calm before the storm. Next week, work swings into high gear on a production facility in one direction and another pad is being readied for a second drilling rig in another.

I’ve had Big Yellow Taxi in my head for days. I’m a long way from a taxi, but now I think I know what set my subconscious singing:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone

I did know what I had, but it’s gone. For some reason (this is a relatively recent quirk), I’ve taken to putting one earring in as I get ready for my day/night and carrying the other one around (often between my lips) while I start doing something else.

I have no idea why. It’s not like I’m running late for work or my hands are busy pulling up nylons. Tonight I found the renegade earring by the baby carrots.

And then there was the night, not long ago, that my knitting needles got hung up on a pearl stitch. Yep.

And, wouldn’t you think that if you live in a small space, it would be nearly impossible to lose things? This should be particularly true since Heidi and I are both borderline OC when it comes to neatness.

However, I have to confess, there’s rarely a day (well, night in my case) that I don’t temporarily misplace something. I blame it on the gate, but that’s weak. I might lose a thought when the bell starts ringing, but my camera (twice tonight already)?

And then there’s the issue of the pen. We have dozens, but they disappear like socks, so Heidi devised a Velcro strip to stick in on the board. When one pen wears out, we just stick on another one.

And I’m forever losing my phone – inside. I turn the volume off when I go to bed since I use it as a clock. I almost never remember to turn it on when I get up, so it’s no good having Heidi call it so I can find it.

After losing my Kindle for an entire month (it was in the magazine rack, opposite the phone in the chair cushion in the above photo), I’ve been relegated to bright colors.

I now have Heidi’s Kindle cover which is bright orange (mine was a nice book brown). I have a bright blue phone, a bright red mouse and a coffee cup with a red hand print, a yellow footprint (very impressive Dan and Elissa) and green letters that say We Love You Grandma. They must have seen this coming before I did! 😀

I fully expect to wake up some afternoon to find my bright orange gate guard vest covered in Velcro with all of my gadgets hanging on it.

In my defense, I never lose my keys. We have a hook for the keys. I would like to think if I would just come up with a designated hook for everything, I’d quit losing things.

But then there is a designated hook (hole) for my earrings, so maybe not…

I’m including Big Yellow Taxi, not as a political statement, but because it’s stuck in my head and I love to share. 😉

(I have no idea what the foreign language words say. Hopefully nothing about New York taxis.)

Year in Review Part 12 – Happy New Year

As before, Word Press won’t allow me to post anything new here but I can copy and paste old posts. This one was written just after the 3rd month of gate guarding. I’d forgotten how many things scared me back them. Wow!

Happy New Year!

It looks like Fork will be stuck in 2011 for another week or so. I wish you all a joy filled 2012!

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I didn’t used to be afraid of the dark. As recently as 4 months ago, I was fairly fearless. Apart from my arachnophobia, I’ve  always been moderately brave (or not quite sharp enough to be afraid). I’ve stood on the front porch and watched tornadoes and stood on the beach to watch 30 foot swells. I may even have been a bit under-afraid. But there are nights out here in very rural southern Texas when I’m just a little uneasy. These are some of the things that have happened in 3+ months of gate guarding that make me jumpy after midnight.

1. The potential rattlesnake napping under the RV when I go out to talk to a driver

2. Henry suddenly dashing to the door with fur and ears standing straight up

3. The smell of cigarette smoke in the middle of the night when I’m 1/4 of a mile from the rig

4. The raccoon sitting on my front step looking in at me at 2 a.m.

5. The barrage of  large, unidentified insects flinging themselves like hail on the screen door

6. The screams and screeches of feral pigs, bickering coons and other unnamed nocturnals

7. The snorting, stomping and very loud mooing of many mad bulls

8. The great white sharks

9. The sudden knock on the door when no traffic has rung the bell to alert me

10.The bats falling off the awning onto my head (has only happened once)

11. The pickup idling for an hour with lights off, sitting on the road but never coming to the gate

12.The continual snapping of brush and branches

13. The yipping and  howling of circling coyotes

14. The tarantulas who want to be my friend

Of the afore-mentioned, all except an occasional green beetle or moth have been courteous enough to stay outside. The raccoon almost made it in but was scared off by my camera flash. All except the sharks.

According to the American Movie Goer Consumer Research Group, the primary target market for movies these days are 16-24 year old males. Based on what’s hot at the cinema, that’s believable. I’m speculating that this is also Snicker’s target market.

In this Snickers commercial, animated great white sharks are participating in a focus-group. A pleasant lady asks them in a blind taste test of people they’ve just eaten/sampled, which one they liked best. The sharks preferred Steve who had eaten Snickers Peanut Butter Squared, over Lisa who had eaten a peanut butter cup.

As I sat down to write tonight I Googled the ad and found it’s been pretty controversial. I was surprised at how strongly people felt. Some have sworn off Snickers forever.

Others thought it was the funniest thing they’ve seen on TV. As I read the reactions, it struck me as interesting that the people who, for a variety of reason, don’t care for the ad, were accused of having: no life, no brains, and no sense of humor.

All that over disagreement about a 30 second commercial. Can you imagine a debate something substantial like the terrorism returning to Northern Ireland or Libya’s oil industry? Possibly that would be less intense. Hard to say.

I like Snickers. I’ll probably continue to buy the one or two bars a year I usually buy. I don’t like the commercial. I don’t think there’s a correlation between this and my hobbies, my intellectual prowess or my sense of humor. I just have enough things that might bite me, sting me, charge me or land on me at night to not want to add something that wants to eat me, too.


As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have an extra-active imagination, but I’m in danger of develop one. Desert or not, add sharks to the screaming and mooing and screeching and slithering and stalking and it starts getting down right creepy. It’s well after midnight and shapes are shifting  in the shadows of the mesquite and mossy oak. Might be a good time for a Reese’s peanut butter cup!

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’.
I see bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.

~Creedence Clearwater Revival

Do you remember this CCR classic? I was 13 when Bad Moon Rising hit the charts in 1969. If you follow Fork, you know that I really love the moon (Good Night Moon, I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me etc…).

As a gate guard, working the night shift, the moon is my friend. Or so I thought.

To establish the setting, after 7 days in Smiley, my alien giant botanical plants continue to flourish. The temperature had finally dropped from 106 to a ‘cool’ 91 just after midnight. In this particular part of Texas it’s really humid, unlike up in the panhandle. The Lantern 17 guys who just moved down from there are really struggling with the humidity.

The moon is full and beautiful right now. The coyotes seem to engage in nightly ritual of approach avoidance behavior. The barking and howling comes near and then stops. A little while later, faintly in the distance, it picks back up. Stops. And then resumes, very near again.

Adding howling and humidity to the heat makes caliche clogging a little less appealing than I may have made it sound, although it is more practical, logistically, than Pole Dancing or Zumba. When the temperature dropped again to a cool 88 degrees around 1:30, I decided to get my clogging in early.

The last of the guys were back on site from their pilgrimage to the small WalMart and H.E.B.  in Gonzales. The coyotes were doing their distant howl so the timing seemed right.

I stepped outside and headed toward the gate. One at a time, these giant alien plant forms began to bend over and then rise back up. At first I thought I was just imagining it as I stood, transfixed, staring in the moonlight. Then they began to bend in pairs. Disappearing and suddenly springing up as the next set bowed.

It would have been a little less disconcerting if the motion had been one of retreat. But just like in a horror flick, whatever it was, seemed to be on a course that would end with me. At that point, having emotions that ran stronger than my curiosity, I began walking backwards toward the RV. I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors. I know to never turn your back on animated plants.

When I backed into the little wooden table and Harvey, the not invisible Pooka, rattled to the ground, the plants froze in place. I left Harvey to keep his lateral sentinel watch, slipped (literally) into the RV, locked the door and explained to Henry that the door would remain locked until dawn so there would be no drinking from the water bowl on full moon nights between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.