Of the Ilk of Cerberus

We are of the ilk of Cerberus. You’ve probably seen him around.

According to the Encyclopedia Mythica he’s quite a beast:

In Greek mythology, (he is) the three-headed watchdog who guards the entrance to the lower world of Hades. It is a child of the giant Typhon and Echidna, a monstrous creature herself, being half woman and half snake.

Originally, the dog was portrayed having fifty or hundred heads but was later pictured with only three heads (and sometimes with the tail of a serpent). Cerberus permitted new spirits to enter the realm of dead, but allowed none of them to leave. Only a few ever managed to sneak past the creature…

In Roman mythology, the Trojan prince Aeneas and Psyche were able to pacify it with honey cakes.

As most of you know, my colleagues and I are hired to guard the gate by oil companies in various stages the process, from exploration to completion and beyond (don’t ask, I don’t know, they never say).

We’ve actually only had one gate. That one was on a hunting ranch outside of Tilden.

We usually just guard cattle crossings, although you never know what the next job, should there ever be one, might bring.

To those of you who have been kindly asking, no we still aren’t working. We knew the day we arrived here in the yard what our next assignment was to be. The only surprise has been the length of time it’s taken to get it.

This is a photo of the gate we were on a year ago today. Those big trucks took their toll.

With the repair work finished, we returned to the lot on Monday Feb. 27th, just in time to replace some Winter Texans that were leaving on the 29th. That was two weeks ago. They changed their minds and are staying until the rig finishes the hole and moves on to the next one. We just found out today that the move will take place on Tuesday! Hurray!

I was thinking we must be getting pretty poor. I wasn’t surprised when Heidi made homemade bread because she likes to do that.

I was surprised when she started making pudding and jello and even coffee creamer from scratch! I’d decided if we didn’t get back on the payroll next week, we’d be churning our own butter.

Then Heidi tells me tonight that it’s not the lack of fat in the budget, it’s the fat in my diet, that she’s tackling. OK. Well, I do think coffee is a condiment for creamer. 😀

And that brings us back to Cerberus and honey cakes.

We aren’t exactly in the ilk of Cerberus – although we did have Festus, the fierce guard donkey once.

And, there is the fact that Heidi was a high school English teacher. I have no idea why that is as terrifying as a 3 headed dog, but it seems to have the same effect on people. Don’t even TRY running her gate!

As for me, there was a time when I might have been open to a honey cake, but, alas, not now on my new, made from scratch without fat diet.The pudding is pretty good. The jello is a little unusual. As for the coffee creamer. I think it’s time I learn to drink it black. ;D

A Year in Review Part 15 – It’s On Like Donkey Kong

This is my last re-posting from our first year of Gate Guarding. I’ll write a few more posts about the interesting visitors we’ve had, the guys on the rig and, of course, the great state of Texas and then I’ll get back to the present.

The present, for this past month, has been a gate between Westhoff (population 410) and Cuero (population 6500) . Cuero is about a 25 minute drive and is a big time city. It has a H.E.B. and a Walmart!. We’re just subs for the regular gate guards so we anticipate going back to the holding tank  in a week or so to once again, wait for an assignment.

My final re-post and my final title snafu was It’s On Like Donkey Kong. That was a night I won’t soon forget.


According to the Urban Dictionary It’s on like Donkey Kong is a phrase that denotes that it’s time to throw down or compete at a high level; or that something is about to go down.

Back in the early 80’s,  Donkey-Kong swept the arcades. DK highlighted the adventures of a large ape named Donkey Kong and a plumber, Mario, who was constantly dodging fireballs and barrels thrown by DK.  In the sequel, DK had buddies.

With a one year old and another baby on the way when the game came out in 1981, I wasn’t into hanging out at arcades. I do remember seeing Donkey Kong at Chucky Cheese when the kids were a little older. I never played it. I remember a lot of barrels, and jumping and rolling and shaking as Mario ventured into the native jungle of Donkey Kong and his fellow protagonists.

I hadn’t thought about Donkey Kong in a really long time.

It was around 1 a.m. when the RV started rocking. I looked out the front window at the tree (there’s only one), and could see that there wasn’t any wind. Still, the rocking continued. I’d done the research. I knew we  aren’t on a major  fault line.

The rocking was joined by thumping and soon there was a sound resembling a belt being lashed against the side of the RV. I looked out at the little mesquite tree, again. No branches were in reach. The night before, a  persistent, inebriated man with a large dog on a rope, came  pounding on the door at 3 am determined to get a job on the rig. It took me quite a while to convince him to walk home and sleep it off. So my guard was up.

I grabbed my camera.

Ever since my success in scaring away that raccoon that was clinging to the screen with one flash from my point and shoot, I’ve become overly confident about the protective powers of my Olympus Stylist. In retrospect, the pepper spray hanging by the door, or even my Grandpa’s cane might have been wiser.

As the RV continued to rock, Henry’s ears stood up. This is generally not a good sign. I walked to the door, camera in hand and pushed. Nothing. Something pushed back. In a rare moment of bravery and stupidity, I gave the door a mighty heave. As it grudgingly gave way, I tumbled out of the RV onto a very startled calf.

It’s on like Donkey Kong: they were everywhere and it was definitely going down. And just like Mario, I’d wandered into their jungle. There were Long horns and no horns, steers and heifers, brand new calves and teenage calves… too many to count.

And there was also Festus, the guard donkey, that lives with the cattle on this ranch. Festus is no ape, but he is fiercely protective of his herd.

Guard donkeys are fairly common around here. Did you know that donkeys and mules have the unique ability to kick in all directions? Hmm…

Festus is very people friendly and loves peppermints, but in true guard donkey style, he hates wolves, coyotes and domestic canines (poor Henry – just add it to the list).

As I stood, dazed, in my white tennis shoes, faded jeans and white t-shirt, I apparently looked like an over-sized mobile salt lick. The young calves, having recovered from my startling entrance, circled and began to nose and lick me. I found this to be both bewildering and slightly unnerving. I felt like ET, except I already was home and apparently so were they.

I stood in the midst of the herd taking pictures.

By the way, in case you’re inclined to try my approach, cows aren’t the least bit deterred by a camera flash. They’re nothing  like the raccoons. Cows pose.


This became less entertaining when a teenage steer pulled off  one of the leather wheel covers and started to carry it to a more comfortable snacking location. We had a brief tug of war . He grudgingly gave it up. Another inquisitive calf found my satellite cable to be extra tasty.

I was at a loss as to how to un-invite my curious visitors before they ate everything portable. I tried reasoning with them.

I eventually dispersed the crowd with persistent waving and gentle shoving of the broom. That caused them to relocate a whole 10 yards away.

In the end, after I’d rescued two tire covers, 1 bird feeder and placed the ladder over the TV cables to serve as a cattle crossing, I came in and told the whole tale of how it went down to Henry. I told him: It’s on like Donkey Kong

Pad Sweet Pad

Do you remember when it was cool to say: Hey man, let’s chill and hang out at my pad tonight!

Me either, but I’ve heard it in movies.

Clearly these were not movies made on a drill site in Texas in June.

I know this for 2 reasons.

1. You don’t chill here.

After 6 months in southern Texas I’ve lost all realistic perception of the weather.

Another 5 degrees and I’ll have to start wearing those cooking- mits with thumbs  to open the RV door and to fasten my seat belt (which by the way, leaves burn marks).

I’m so disoriented, I start to pull my sweatshirt out of the closet when the temperature dips below 85.

As I begin to write tonight at 10:10 it’s still 92 degrees. This next weeks’ forecast is 99,99,99, 100,100,100,99.

I know I’ve undergone a mind melt when I watch the weather forecast and any time they say today will be in the mid-90’s, I think it’s cool. Please don’t write and tell me that the average temperature next month and the month after and the month after that will be 113. I know that already.

All the guys who’ve told me that: I need a gun; rattlesnakes live under RV’s; tarantulas start bouncing right before they bite; and wild hogs plan sneak attacks in the dark –  have already told me all about the summer weather.

2. You don’t hang out at our pads. Well, there are exceptions.

These poor cows are going through their second relocating for the third time. We’re rigging down and by this time tomorrow, the derrick will be 4 miles east as we begin drilling at a new site.

But a second pad has been prepared. A new crew will soon be on this new pad and Festus will have an even more difficult job keeping his herd together.

He spent 20 minutes, blocking traffic this morning, fiercely braying and refusing to move in-spite of all the honking and gesturing from the drivers.

Even for a donkey, this seemed to be unusually stubborn. The herd had already crossed and had disappeared in the mesquite. He wouldn’t budge.

He steadfastly held his ground until one little calf finally wandered out into the open.

Festus escorted him across the road to join the rest of the herd and the rig down continued.

You don’t hang out at our pad because we just aren’t in a destination location. Even the people who have to be here can’t wait to leave. And since you have to give us everything but your birth certificate to get in, it isn’t much of a party place.

On the rare times we get visitors, it’s a treat. We’ve had 5 in 5 months.

Today Kit and Jerry stopped by on their way back from Corpus. In Texas you don’t say Corpus Christi – you say Corpus. I have no idea why.

Their blog was very influential in getting us in this mess to give gate guarding a try. Since I’ve never done any on-line dating, I’m unaccustomed and a little leery of making friends via the computer. Kit and Jerry seem so nice in their blog...

They’re even nicer in person! It was great fun to finally meet! They brought us fresh fruit and water and even biscuits for Henry and treats for our guys. They did hang out at out pad for a couple of hours! Swell folks!

Tomorrow we move to a new pad. It’s 4.2 miles east of this one. I’m sure there’ll be many new lessons and many new tales, some taller than others.

We’ll be moving  closer to Smiley and to the dueling banjo road of dead pigs skinned and hung on fence posts. I told Heidi I’d take down the pictures and put pillows in the cabinets while she’s sleeping so I’d better get started.

Our new pad awaits. It doesn’t look like much now, but just wait until we get our 1997 Jeep and our water/diesel wagon and the giant green septic container in place. It’ll be one cool place to hang out then, man!