There’s a Hedgehog in My Shower

The fox has many tricks, and hedgehog only one, but that is the best of all.  ~Archilochus

On the other side of Bountiful, there’s a hedgehog in my shower. That’s the back side of a blessing. It falls under Bountiful, because I thought it was a rat, or at least a very big mouse.

Henry doesn’t take much to toys, but my sister gave him a hedgehog, which he loves.

Heidi was playing fetch with him with when she gave the unassuming little hedgehog a mighty fling into Henry’s water bowl. He was hanging out in the shower to drip dry.

BUT, after having a very lively furry face to face just a couple of nights ago in the restroom, and the fact that I was using only the green glow from my cell phone for light, he gave me a start. All eyes can look beady at 3 a.m. in the soft green phone glow.

Particularly in light of other recent events. It was around 11 when Josh, the night pusher, came pounding on the door to tell me they’d called 911.

The transformer, which is at most 50 yards away, had begun a mini fireworks display, shooting sparks into the still moonless night sky. As many of you pointed out during the deliberation process, there are some obstacles to a quick get away in a 5th wheel. Whatever comes to mind, magnify that by the darkness and the fact the giant green septic wagon is parked directly in front of us.

Taking the RV and making a run for it was out of the question. The temperatures are cooler, but we’ve still had almost no rain, so the fire threat seemed very real.

The only question was whether or not to wake up Heidi and get ready to hit the highway.

In my typical aggressive style, I stood at the door and watched until the sheriff came, and maybe 30 minutes later, the electric company. They didn’t seem to be having much luck. After an hour and a half, I had finally decided we were too close for comfort and was just stepping away to wake her up when I heard a loud pop! and out went the transformer light and the sparks stopped! On the other side of  Bountiful, there was no fire!

I wouldn’t have hesitated to get her up except we’d had company the night before and she was up late and was pretty tired. You gate guards know how it can be when you get off schedule.

It started when the bells rang and no one was there. I stepped outside and out of the dark came a guy with a BIG backpack, yes big enough for big guns, who said his ride was on the other side of the gate and the company had sent him home for the night since they weren’t ready to run the casings. Hmm… He was heavy enough to ring the bells and that’s saying something!

There was another commotion at the door an hour later. No bells at all this time. The visitor arrived unannounced and refused to leave.

I’m still not certain how he got stuck there since it was pretty cold and both doors had been shut all day. Clearly he did not heed the WARNING sign on his way up.  He made a Trip to Bountiful as we opened the door and he dropped to the ground, living to re-enter another day.  And all the mice in the neighborhood continue laughing!

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…

I knew something was different. The air smelled strange, the sky wasn’t blindly bright and cool water came out of the cold water tap.

But I never expected this.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane – oh my gosh, it’s rain!

Could it be? Am I still in Texas?

For the first time since last December, we’re mucking in mud! And it’s lovely.

Well, not really. As some of you who’ve been with me from the start know, I really don’t like dirt – and mud is a very wet dirt.

I particularly hate it when it sucks my shoes off and I have so much forward momentum going that I can’t stop, so it takes advantage and tugs on my socks and isn’t satisfied until it’s filling in the gaps between my toes.

Of course, there’s always a driver whose left to wonder whether to drive around the shoe or wait for me to retrieve it.

Past experience (in Tilden) has taught me that there’s no truly graceful way out of this. It’s not like when you think someone is waving at you and you wave back and then see that they’re really waving at someone else.

When that happens you have options. You can wave at someone else, too, pretending that you were really waving at the other person all along – confusing not one, but two strangers. Or you can just stretch and reach back and flip your hair, or if you’re a guy – oh never-mind – if you’re a guy you probably aren’t waving anyway.

Back to the rain. Whatever slight amount of inconvenience and/or public humiliation it presents for me, I can’t, even for a second, complain about rain in this parched, drought stricken state.

In addition to the rain, we had some truck traffic on our carpet again since the semis were backed up  right in front of us for about 6 hours.

I now see the pretend grass as an essential part of gate guarding. I’ve found people do try not to drive on your lawn, while I’m not certain they hold the same compunction about driving into metal things – thus the light on the ground.

By the way, the above photo shows Heidi heading off to WalMart for more sticky traps. I posted too soon last night. 4 so far. Kevin sent the suggestion of adding rope lights. I don’t know it works but it would be pretty!

As the sun was setting the most remarkable thing happened. I apologize for the poor photography.


It started as a bright pink streak, shooting up from the ground.



As it grew, the clouds took on a hue I don’t believe I’ve ever quite seen in the sky before.



Then, in just a few moments, the whole sky turned pink and turquoise and purple.

The drivers got out of their trucks. We all just stared. I felt like clapping, or at least doing a happy dance, but that would have meant losing another shoe.



All in all it was pretty awesome. I’ve never seen a rainbow start from the ground up.  And I’ve almost never seen it rain in Texas so it was a double miracle!



It must have been a grand view from up top!



The sun set here on the ranch to a whole lot of oohs and aahs from tired drivers and muddy gate guards. It was October’s version of  the 4th of July, a little understated and really quite lovely.

Pray for Rain

Everywhere you look, the buzzards are circling. Not a good sign. I’m afraid to stand still for fear they might mistake me for something dead and delicious.

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.  ~ John Updike

We’re getting precariously close. Today is officially our 35th straight triple digit day. According to one of the ranchers at the second-hand grocery store, in the ten or so miles between Nixon and Smiley, we’ve had 2.4 inches of rain in 11 months. Another said that’s an exaggeration – 2 tops.

I passed the chicken houses on my way to the post office. They’re silent except for the constant hum of the giant fans. The drought is hostile to all but my alien foliage.

In Austin, only watering by hand is permitted during the day under current Stage 1 rules. The next stage would further limit watering to once a week, shut down the city’s fountains and allow water to be served in restaurants only upon a customer’s request.  Water bills are running as high as electric bills for Austin residents, prompting the city utility service to initiate a summer extended plan.,8599,2087489,00.html#ixzz1UhAo3Hui

There’s nothing left of the fields but dirt. Even the cactus are dying. Three summers ago, I left a city underwater. Cedar Rapids is still struggling to recover. I don’t know what it will take for Texas to recover. The ranchers said they’ve quit praying for rain. They’re praying for a hurricane. They said  that may be the only thing that can save them.

I’m not a Texan. My own daily gate guarding life is a little hotter and a little dustier than it would otherwise be. An inconvenience, not a devastation. But you can’t live in a community of people, even temporarily, without your heart breaking for their suffering and their loss. If you’re given to praying, would you pray for rain?