In nearly a year of working as a gate guard in southern Texas, the one thing I’ve almost never done is guard a gate. 😀

We started last December on a hunting ranch outside of Tilden. For 3 1/2 weeks, we did have a mighty big gate to open and shut with each truck.

Heidi at the gate in Tilden

Since then, it’s been all cattle crossings and nary a one with a gate to open and close. Even here on the Broken Star, although there’s no cattle crossing, the gate has remained wide open. The cattle are all safely fenced in.

After Greg from Canrig came and went (out by 7 p.m.) my instructions were to not let anyone back in until “dawn”. With all but the last remnants of Lantern 17 gone, tonight, for the first time, I shut the gate.

Then came my great dilemma. To light or not to light?

Although there is a gate, there’s no lock since we never use it. I’m happy to stay up all night and do my due diligence – keeping all who would dare to enter out. But do I turn the lights on? We’re a long way from anywhere light, so it’s really dark.

At first I turned the lights on as usual –  the big one on the RV and the two sets of bright halogen gate guard lights.

Then I thought maybe not. It seemed like the outside lights might be saying we’re open for business, so I went out around 10 and turned them off. The nearly full moon smiled.

Around 1:30 I didn’t hear anything. So, with the aid of the yellow flashlight with dying batteries (I couldn’t find the one that actually has new batteries), I went out to make sure everything was OK. Don’t ask me why. I just did.

I saw nothing. I mean I saw nothing since the moon had quit trying and even the stars were covered with clouds.

Back on with the lights.

Now it’s 4:30 and there’s still no moon. The weather forecast is for storms today. I’m thinking I might go out and turn the lights off anyway since there are several empty semis on the lot and I can’t let the drivers in until Jack gets back.

It’s like I’m sending out a cosmic S.O.S.   · · · — — — · · ·

If you’re in the area tonight or tomorrow night – just ignore the flashes.
Three sets of lights, two on the ground, one on the RV.  ON · · ·  OFF — — — ON  · · ·

I Miss the Moon

The mosquito crop has hatched in Houston (in such mass numbers that they made the San Antonio news).

They found their way to Wharton, thirsty. Until now, apparently largely due to the drought, that’s the one insect we’d been spared.

I’m hoping they drift on over to Austin where the bats under the bridge are decreasing in number, which is affecting tourism.

If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. ~ Betty Reese

I’m a bit under it again (the weather, not the bed – that’s where the mouse is). It’s not a good thing to be under the weather when you’re a gate guard at night if under it means frequent restroom visits. As before mentioned and attested to by other gate guards, a nocturnal trip to the restroom is guaranteed to ring bells.

I thought I was safe because there’s no moon at all – we’re in the zero moon phase. Maybe the moon and the tides are impacted in reverse in Texas? It’s been a moonless full moon kind of night and it’s only 1 a.m.

First the bells were rung by an older man, dressed for a date (who was with him), soaked in cologne, which still failed to cover the smell of alcohol. He said he was here to pick up a mug (I think he meant mud) logging truck. He held up traffic for a good while, looking for the cigarette he dropped somewhere inside his truck. I got a flashlight but to no avail. His lady friend took this all in stride.

He finally decided to just let it burn itself out. Hmm… He did another check of his paper work to make sure he was in the right spot and went on in. I was contemplating another trip to the restroom when he came back out, wrong rig indeed.  He didn’t want directions. He said it was too dark to drive anyway.

I had just ventured back toward the restroom when the bells began ringing and ringing and ringing. A semi driver had parked on the air hose, which didn’t alarm him at all. I don’t think he could hear the ringing over his diesel and his iPod. He was nice about moving when he finally heard me knocking.

I took another long look at the night sky, now filled with stars but abandoned by the moon.

This time I was only considering a trip upstairs when Lacey from Lafayette Louisiana arrived, exhausted, after driving for 15 hours down back roads. As I filled her coffee mug she told me she’d been given directions approaching the rig from west Texas (which would be a very round about way to get here from Louisiana). She said the back roads were so dark… Yep, no moon.

She also said, while she was lost in the panhandle  she heard that it’s supposed to snow there tomorrow. It was 90 here yesterday. The forecast for tomorrow is a high of 66. I’m not complaining. I like the cool temperatures, but do you see what I mean? These things didn’t happen when the moon was doing her job.

Finally, the coast seemed to be clear. Just as I entered the restroom, removed Heidi’s baby booster from the foot pedal and seated myself, a mouse ran in from the bedroom, took one look at me, and headed back under the bed (as far as I could tell, after waking up Heidi while I did a pre-Halloween sweep around the bedroom with a broom). I guess the past two nights of under-the-sink-quiet were misleading.

It’s late and the traffic has stopped. I think I’ll have a little dinner.

I don’t know why since I’m certain it will want out as soon as I put it in, but I feel compelled by hunger and the blackness of the night to pursue this misguided course of action.

I miss the moon.

Night’s black Mantle covers all alike.  ~Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas



I have to admit, you’ve got me stumped. Isn’t that an odd saying?  I can’t find the origin.

If you’re a politician, a stump is a campaign stop. If you’re from Iowa, like I am, there’s a whole lot of stumping up there.

If you’re a tree, well, I guess being stumped doesn’t bode well for your future, unless you’re The Giving Tree, where all stumps are redeemed.

Many years later, the boy, now an old man, returns and the tree sadly says, “I’m sorry, boy…but I have nothing left to give you.” But the boy replies, “I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest.” The tree then says, “Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest.” The boy obliges and the tree was very happy.

Like the tree, I’m happy to give but I’d like to know more of what you want.

For the first 5 months, I posted daily. For the past 2, it’s been a few times a week. I just scrolled through the list of subscribers to Fork. I know 9 of you personally, none of whom are gate guard or live in Texas so I’m pretty sure that’s not why you read. A few of you I know through your blogs and the rest, well… hmm… And since only about 1/5 of you readers subscribe, I’m completely in the dark.

At this juncture, I thought it might be a good idea to ask you why you read Fork? It’s such an eclectic blog that I’m fairly certain the interest value for you must vary widely from post to post.

I’d like to know what you’d like more of?

Are there topics, within my limited areas of experience (note here that I’m saying experience, not expertise) that you’d like addressed?

Do you have questions about something from a previous post that I can answer, or attempt to answer?

I know some of you read because you’re interested in gate guarding. If there’s something you’d like to know about that, I’ll try to answer or send you on to other blogs that might help.

Since I’m not aspiring to get Freshly Pressed (you bloggers know that one) I’m not limited to by topic or style, so I’d welcome your input.

I will add one caveat. The web is such a public arena, so there’s a limit to how much personal information I want to share. After my last post you probably know more than enough about me anyway! 😀

I’m very open to making this a more interactive site. It’s always more interesting when other people comment.

I’ve heard from one person about what he doesn’t want here – politics and religion in particular.

I’m not well enough informed to offer political commentaries and I started my grace blog as a place to express the things I’m thinking about that reflect that aspect of my life.

So now’s your chance. What are some roads, well-traveled or overlooked, that you’d like to traverse here.  If I don’t hear from you, my next post is going to be about how I’m afraid of the man in my phone – so if you want to be spared that one, write a comment and let me know what you’re looking for when you click on Fork.

Not all arrive here via a search engine, but I’ll close with the things folks have typed in this week to land here. It might help explain my lack of direction.

As always, I’m honored that you read Fork. It truly mystifies me, but I’m honored. I appears that if I could just be a gate guarding,snake handler on the moon, this blog would be a smash! 🙂 ~dlb

2011-07-08 to Today

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