A Midsummer’s Night Sleep Deprived Sugar High

Now, until the break of day  Through this house each fairy stray. ~ Oberon                      A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Funny how I had almost no trouble adjusting my sleep patterns to working nights, 10 months ago.

Now, however, after a 3 week break, I’m lucky to sleep 6 hours during the day. That, I’m sure, is contributing to my jumpiness.

Have you ever noticed how simple innocuous sounds, when heard in the day time, take on a more ominous ring at night?

I’ve been working nights now since January. I’ve gotten used to the sounds of the rig: the guys shouting, the casings clanging, the horns blowing, the bells ringing and the semis rumbling.

I’m used to the sound of Brahmas lashing the living room with their tails and manic raccoons lunging at the screens. I’m used to the nightly cacophony of  the feral pigs and hungry coyotes.

I’m even used to the giant kamikaze bugs that fling themselves into the blinding halogen glow, bouncing like hail off the sides of RV.

However, I’m not used to the sounds of a wrestling match taking place in the cabinets under the island at 1 a.m. or the sudden whir in the ceiling at 2.

Every new house comes with new noises. This one came with new noises and what I suspect might be a few fairies mistaking early October for Midsummer.

As you know, October 1st was my birthday. Heidi very kindly made apple dumplings – my favorite.

She used my Mom’s recipe, which should serve 8 or 10,  but really turns out to be 6 giant dumplings.

They’re so big, they had to be cooked in two separate pans.

My birthday was 4 days ago. Heidi’s eaten one half of one. I’ve eaten 4 1/2. 😀

SO, it could be a combination of sleep deprivation and a sugar high that caused me to leap out of my seat when the pots and pans began rattling under the center island in the quiet middle of the night.

I looked. Nothing. I closed the cabinets. 5 minutes later the pans rang out again. The day before there was a half of a Dorito on the floor by the dresser.

Last night there was a half of a Dorito under the sink. We don’t eat Doritos.

We do have little bags of chips we give the guys when they head home. Checking the grab bag, yep, one little bag had one big hole. This no doubt accounts for the symphony under the sink. The solution for that (I hope) is in the JIC closet. That doesn’t explain why the ceiling began whirring.

Around 2:00 a.m., shortly after the pan noise abated, I heard a new, strange noise. I looked up and the ceiling seemed to be readying for take off – all on its own. The dome opened and the blades picked up speed.

I spent the next 10 minutes turning on and off and on and off again, every switch I could find. Nothing interfered with the lid lift.

I came to the obvious, sleep deprived, sugar induced conclusion that it was a mouse escape route and that they’d somehow bounced on a secret button.

The fan is considerably too high to reach, even on a chair. At this point the pots started banging again and I  knew I had to go to the JIC closet and take action (no, not the gun, I’m not that tired).

I opened the doors to get a flashlight to go out to the truck to get the 3-step stool, when I saw a control that I’d never noticed.

It’s big and white so I’m afraid that mostly speaks to my continual state of fatigue over the past several weeks and my highly keen observation skills.

Sure enough, it says Fan and Dome and Exhaust and Intake. I couldn’t get it out of its holder…

But I was able to push the off button on the fan and the close button on the dome.

The question of how those buttons suddenly got turned on at 2 a.m. remains a mystery. Tomorrow the mouse traps come out. Henry has  been on high alert all night. His ears are probably cramping and I’m a very tired woman, pumped and plumped with dumplings. We need our rest.

If we shadows have offended,  Think but this, and all is mended,  That you have but slumber’d here  While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme,  No more yielding but a dream,  Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon we will mend.  ~ Puck,    A Midsummer’s Night Dream

Week End Jumble

It’s Sunday night as I write this. Weekends are generally, but not always, slower for us on our site. For one thing there are rarely any sales folks, which cuts out quite a bit a day time traffic.I thought I’d write a really short post and try to answer some dangling questions.

1. So your  Company Men really live in Penthouses? (a real qt – no kidding) Well, not on the site. Everyone lives in some kind of a trailer.

Our 2 CM (a night and a day man) share the second tan trailer. They have an office in the front and their living quarters take up the rest. The Oil Field House Keeping folks come on Wednesdays.

The situation for the guys varies. The floor crew share a trailer, in this case with 12 beds – 6 at each end. They work 12 (at least) hour shifts and share their 1/2 with the other guys on their shift.A lot like dorm life expect everyone is older and it’s really crowded.

As with most gates, we have guys coming and going all day and all night, so I have no idea how any one gets any sleep. Again, a lot like dorm life.

I took these pictures this morning while walking Henry. He was unusually antsy (possibly literally) so I’m blaming the poor quality of the photos on my attempt to take one handed shots while he hopped around.

We’re with a really big rig that typically does vertical, then horizontal drilling.

At this site, we’re just drilling vertically – 15,000 feet. That’s one deep hole.

I admire people under real pressure who dig deep.
– Heather Small

And as it is with all of life, the deeper you go, the more issues you run into.

2. The gun. Folks have been writing and asking why I have a gun?

In England, if you commit a crime, the police don’t have a gun  and you don’t have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say “Stop, or I’ll say stop again.” ~ Robin Williams

I don’t know about England, but this is Texas folks and everyone has a gun, or 5 or 6. It a part of being a pretend Texan. And, as mentioned before, it’s just a BB gun, but a very serious looking BB gun.

You know that old  saying “If looks could kill” ? Well, it applies here, since only it’s looks could kill. I’m content to flash it around when the appropriate situation presents itself.

Peculiar to Paris

I’m giving myself 30 minutes to write a quick post in response to email threats about my lackadaisical postings and when the timer goes off, I’m off to get some sleep before another exciting day of turnpike driving!

Once again, it’s been quite a day! After checking with our Company Man to make sure he hadn’t taken such a shining to our sub that we were out of a job, we left Cedar Rapids for Texas Monday (yesterday).

It was a gorgeous day.  It took a while to get going, which I’ll write about in another post, so we took it easy and only drove 230 miles from CR to Eagleville, MO. We found the one and only campground in a 100 mile stretch of I35, pulled through and there we sat, sort of.

Hooking up went fine, except there wasn’t any water coming out of the sinks. It wasn’t coming out of the faucets but I could hear it running.

After some great investigative research, I determined that the whirling noise seemed to be coming from the toilet. So I did the natural thing. Flushed it. Yep.

You know how there are two different places you can connect your white hose? Sure does make a difference which one you use!

Fortunately, we’ve only had the 5th wheel for a week and we had dumped at the county park yesterday morning. Also fortunate was the fact that the washer works swell since it was quickly filled with sewer soaked towels and clothes. The bathroom walls wiped down nicely, as did I.

Next came the hour-long futile attempt to get the little MP1 satellite working to watch Dancing with the Stars.

Exhausted, but clean, we gave up on the satellite and heated up a wonderful homemade dinner of meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and Iowa corn on the cob (off the cob) courtesy of our friend, Cathy. We ate dinner on warped red plastic plates (ours) in the laundry room (theirs) sitting on damp towels (ours) after removing the cat (theirs) – the RV park owners have a cat who lived on top of the TV in the laundry room during the day- they took her home for the night.

I’m allergic to cats and somehow thought the damp towel would serve as a shield of protection …

We sat on the broken sofa across from a  slightly tipsy trucker who sat on the broken down love seat with a beer in each hand, and we all watched DWTS.

I felt like I was back at the rig already. After all that excitement, I came back to the RV and Google mapped the route for today. I decided to aim for Tulsa but ended up in Paris after a bit of an extended stay in Peculiar.

Just as an aside, I have to say, I would love to live in a town called Peculiar. I thought Why, Arizona was a great name, but Peculiar, Missouri takes the cake.

It also takes a long time to get gas in Peculiar.

Of course, that was mostly because I was in the Semi lane (the truck will accept either size diesel nozzle) but when it was finally my turn, I didn’t have a DOT number to enter to start the pump.

A bit embarrassed, I pulled around and waited at the designated RV pump. I went in to pay, only to find out I didn’t really need a DOT number and should have just pushed enter a bunch of times.

Getting gas in Peculiar

Hey, the whole thing was peculiar to me.

The timer has gone off and I’m off to bed. We drove 555 miles today and had some true adventures. Another 300 should land us in Livingston tomorrow but one never knows.

Having very little pride, I’ll share more details of the past week with you once I get back on nights. If you’re curious, just think of all the things that you’ve ever been afraid you might do if you’re an RVer, and yep – did that this week:

1. towel rack stuck in slide,  jamming it completely so it wouldn’t open or close

2. dropped the 5th wheel in the truck bed (UNHOOKING!)

3. couldn’t find a station that sold diesel and ran out of gas

4. hit an orange construction cone

5. back flushed the septic system in my face

6. can’t light the oven

7. had my credit card denied

8. didn’t get a ticket or have an accident, but still have 450 miles to go…

8. too tired to proof read, done for and done in

9. more to come

10. thanks for all your kind comments – I’ll try to start answering tomorrow or the next day

Bob – thought I’d better post and save you a trip down south. Mr A – I should have listened to you!

Trucks

He who runs behind truck is exhausted, he who runs in front of truck is tired.

Please don’t take offense, all you truckies, but I don’t like trucks.

I liked my Camrys (that was back before the brakes decided to be accelerator pedals) and I loved my Jeep, but I never wanted a truck.

Maybe I have some bad, suppressed childhood truck memories.

I don’t know.

That’s one reason I didn’t even look at 5th wheels 3 years ago – I just didn’t want a truck.

So how ironic is it that I spend my days counting trucks? Big and little and humongous trucks. My entire world is filled with caliche and trucks.

After 9 months of gate guarding, maybe the caliche finally soaked into my brain and I really do have a brain cloud, just like Joe?

~

~

I’m at a loss to explain it apart from the Texas heat and living in a caliche cloud, but today is the day I buy a truck.  (I’ve already paid for it, today is the day I pick it up.)

It’s a Chevy. Heidi loves trucks and but doesn’t like Chevys. She always wanted a Ford. I’m an indiscriminate truck dis-liker. Heidi says that’s a form of prejudice. It’s prejudice when they all look alike. I argued that not liking Chevys is  more prejudicial, singling out a specific type. Regardless – we’re buying a Chevy and I guess we’ll both have to get over it!

To answer your questions, kind of. It’s a 2006 Chevy Silverado, 1 ton dually diesel with 44,000 miles and no rust. Oh, and it’s grey with suicide doors and a leather interior. That’s all I know about it. I sat in it yesterday. Yep. It’s a truck. Here’s a picture of it – but that’s not my RV in the background. It’s in the shop getting a washer and dryer and a second air-conditioner. Hooray!

~

The truck has other things, besides a hitch for the 5th wheel, of course, that I don’t understand yet. The original owner had it customized to pull a 40ft  DoubleTree Mobile Suites. It has funny gauges, and extra fuel tank and other things I don’t understand but will be getting lessons on from Heidi’s son this weekend (who used to own his own trucking company).

Here’s the extra irony. We drove 1250 miles from Texas to Iowa to trade RV’s at our hometown dealer– and guess what we’re getting? A Texas truck! No kidding! It even has a longhorn emblem in the back window! Maybe that’s a sign it was simply meant to be!

Folks still remember the day ole Bob Riley came bouncing down that dirt road in his pickup. Pretty soon, it was bouncing higher and higher. The tires popped, and the shocks broke, but that truck kept bouncing. Some say it bounced clean over the moon, but whoever says that is a liar. ~ Jack Handy

Gone Fishing!

Looks like we finally caught a break in the weather! After 2 months+ of triple digit heat, Monday’s high temperature is supposed to be 68 degrees!

Can you believe it? I can’t even remember 68 degrees. That’s 40 degrees cooler than it was just 3 days ago. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps!

And the low! Oh the low is predicted to be 47. I don’t even know where my sweatshirts are, but looks like I’m going to be needing them – where I’ll be Monday, in Iowa.

We received a phone call Friday with 2 surprising bits of information. The deal that we’d all but given up on to trade in our motorhome in on a 5th wheel (yes, and a truck) went through. That was the first bit. The second was that we had to sign the paperwork no later than Tuesday. This was Friday, in Smiley, where the nearest place that will overnight anything is 75 miles away.

Since Monday is Labor Day,  overnighting paperwork just didn’t work, so we’re overnighting ourselves. We called our company and Jamie graciously found us a sub and we’ll take off whenever he arrives this morning to begin the 20+ hour drive straight to Cedar Rapids.

We have a couple of weeks to visit our wonderful families in Iowa and Minnesota, see as many friends as possible, transfer all our earthly possessions, and take driving lessons.

From Iowa, it’s off to Livingston to become official Texas residents even though we’ll never  be real Texans. Then it’s up to Wharton, we think, to rejoin Lantern 17.

The majority of you (by a slim margin) voted for a 5th wheel in the poll. I’m trusting you knew that of which you spoke because that’s what we’re getting. When we bought the Mirada, our entire driver’s ed lesson included each of us driving 1 mile on a country road and watching as they hooked up the Saturn to the tow bar.

I think we’ll require a little more instruction this time and, based on your comments, a lot of  practice parking.

Unlike Heidi, who writes her Good Life posts a week in advance, I’m a last-minute blogger so my posts will be spotty at best. After almost 9 months, you can finally count on getting a bit of a breather!

By the way, I have a nice 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale with only 206,000 miles on it if you’re in the market! 😉

It’ll be sitting here in Smiley, on a ranch of a friend. I’m counting on the calves to keep it clean while we’re gone.

Set out from any point.  They are all alike.  They all lead to a point of departure.  ~Antonio Porchia

I don’t really get it either, but it sounds profound. 😀

My Un-Bucket List

You know the Bucket List?  The list everyone is supposed to make of all the things they want to do before they die. Where did this name come from? I’m guessing the concept is a combination of the  Honey-Do List (things we want someone else to do before we kill them) and the rather odd euphemism for dying:  Kick the Bucket. This is purely speculative on my part.

I’m uncertain of the origin of kick the bucket. Maybe Shakespeare?

Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.  [to gibbet meant to hang]                    ~ William Shakespeare, Henry IV

Anyway, I recently read about a guy who just marked the last thing  – number 1000! – off  his bucket list. At 28, his life is fulfilled… But that’s not my point.

It started me thinking. People are always sharing their bucket lists – some are empty of all but wishful thinking and some are so full they’ve had to switch to a barrel.

But, how often are we really honest about our Un-Bucket list? That list we all have of things that we’ve done that we’d hoped we’d never do, or at least, that we’re surprised we’ve done, and we’re not even dead yet.

In a spirit of light-heartedness and minimal self-revelation, I’m sharing my list (this may require additional posts at some point). Keeping it simple, this list is composed entirely of things I never thought I’d do as recently as just one year ago:

1.  Go to jail to get  finger-printed

2.  Become a Gate Guard in Texas

3.  Consider my new single-ply toilet paper to be thick and luxurious

4.  Kill spiders with my naked fingers (being very arachnophobic, I usually just do this when I mistake them for the beetles that drop down from the ceiling into my shirt)

5.  Rip off my shirt (hoping no one comes to the gate right at that moment), throw it on the floor and stomp on it to kill the odd array of bugs who’ve begun co-habitating with me

6.  Eat breakfast at 11 at night while watching Good Morning America

7.  Talk to the animals in Doolittle fashion: buzzards, cows, armadillos, donkeys, raccoons etc…

8.  Look forward to winter

9.  Live someplace where we’re all speaking English but between the drawl and the chew, I still have no idea what is being said and hope that smiling and nodding is universally appropriate

10. Remove drowned cockroaches from my freshly washed towels

11. Discover I’m a random dyslexic

12. Put Tabasco on my french fries because Sonic Burger (forget McDonald’s), doesn’t have ketchup

13. Quickly forget Sonic Burger and realize that, in small towns, all fast food is requires hot sauce

14. Throw bowls of water on calves who eat my satellite cables, wheel covers, septic hose etc…

15. Recognize people by their license plates and their tattoos

16. Deem any temperature with less than 3 digits, quite comfortable

17. Consider creating caliche art

18. Play Angry Birds on my phone at 4 a.m. while listening to, but not watching, re-runs of Cheers, which I like simply for the theme song

19. Take a shower 7  3 times a week because it takes 2 days in-between to recover from the 2nd degree burns caused by the perpetually hot water

20. Make people spell four letter words for me like TOOL and CAN’T  because I think they’re saying TOE and CAINED

That’s just the tip of the bucket. I’ll add another 20 some other day. Until then…

The driver’s lament: The sun has riz, the sun has set, and here I is, in Texas yet.

I’m Alive!

As the drought and heat continues here in Smiley, Texas, I’m beginning to get uneasy on my early morning walks. There used to be a buzzard or two circling in the distance. Then a few began to gather in the trees on the other side of the giant alien weeds.

Then there were more. Now there are many.

I counted 34 yesterday morning. They’re restless. I can sense it. I can feel their beady eyes on me as I walk. I stopped to take a picture and the fluttering began.

I knew I’d stood still too long.

I went back into the RV and changed out of my plain black t-shirt into a bright orange Life is Good shirt with a purple coffee mug, begging Fill Me Up!

Uncertain if this was animated enough I began walking up and down the road, shouting verbosely: I’m alive! I’m alive!

Heidi joined me for some early morning caliche clogging. We’re about a half a mile from the rig so I continued my I’m alive chant with growing enthusiasm (she’s very tolerant and wasn’t really quite awake yet) until I heard the bell ring.

A car, a nice car, pulled up out of nowhere. Transforming instantly into the professional gate guard that I am, I went to the window and asked his name? Ken. Company? Forest.

Oh.

Are you relieving Mike (the Company Man)?

No. I oversee all the drilling on all of the Forest rigs.

Oh.

I’ve heard a lot about you two.

Oh.

I don’t know what he’s heard, but he probably heard me talking to the  buzzards …

~

While I’m poking  a bit of fun at myself, I’m not making fun of the seriousness of the drought here in Texas. If you’re interested in more thoughtful reading, here’s a link to yesterday’s Time magazine online post: Why Texas’ Drought May Have Global  Consequences

स्वागत आहे – WELCOME!

स्वागत आहे  – That’s how most blogs start – Welcome!

I started Fork over 8 months ago so I thought I’d say it differently this time.

स्वागत आहे – that’s welcome in Marathi which is the official language of Maharashtra  in western and central India. It’s the 15th most spoken language in the world. I’ve never heard of it before.

I can barely speak Texan. I just picked it because I thought it looked interesting and it seems welcome is in order.

Fork is a small blog. I only average about 175 views per day.

When the numbers exceed 300 on a day I didn’t post anything new, I know something is up.

Following your path to the fork in the road, it appears most of you who were new to Fork yesterday, are interested in gate guarding at an oil/natural gas site.

Brief recap: We began working as gate guards back in December of 2010. That doesn’t seem like that long ago, unless you’ve been living in Texas this summer where we’re approaching 2 months of 100+ days in a row!

Before I get into any other details, if you’ll scroll down the right side of the page, I’ve listed all the gate guard blogs I’m aware of. We’re scattered across the state, work for different companies and have different experiences, so you’ll want to check out these other blogs.

I’m  preempting my regularly scheduled post (which is fine since I haven’t written it yet anyway) to try to make it easier for you to find the information you may be looking for.

While I’d love to have you read the whole blog, that would be remarkably tedious. I think most of the information you’re looking for is covered in the hot links on the Gate Guard Info page (upper right hand corner).

I’ve tried to lay out the basics in the Joe series there, as well as share with you the pros and cons from other gate guards.

Contrary to what some of you may have read in forum sites, we are all provided with a basic set up that varies a little between companies. GGS supplies our septic (not shown in this pic) diesel, generator, non-potable water, bell, air hoses and lights and vest. We provide the RV.

George is a gem and has us set up in no time.

They check on us regularly to make sure everything is filled up and running well.

Our only equipment responsibility is to check the oil in the generator every few days.

We began in Tilden, Texas in December but have been in Gonzales county ( app. 70 miles south of San Antonio) since we began working for this oil company in January.

As a result of a series of  life changes, Heidi, my best friend and former business partner in Second Wind Wit – a training and public speaking business – and I bought a motorhome and decided to try full-time RVing, with the hope of continuing SWW from the road. That proved a little less doable than we’d hoped.

Jim, our mobile repair guy, replacing the burned out converter

We’ve worked as work campers at  private resorts in CA and OR and at 2 state parks on the beautiful southern Oregon coast. We were both working as managers at a lovely coastal resort when a staff member took a job as a gate guard and encouraged us to give it a try. So here we are. In Texas. A long way from home and a long way from WalMart (if you decide to do this, you’ll get that one).

Although I was born in a small town in northern Indiana, I spent my adult life in Cedar Rapids, IA – population 260,000 (including Marion and Hiawatha).

Unlike Heidi, who spent her young summers on an Iowa farm, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve even ridden in a truck.

To say that this is a strange new world for me is a massive understatement.

At Fork, I do write about life as a gate guard, but not only about that, so again, take a look at the other blogs listed here. I write about everything that’s new to me which includes just about everything.

I write about the guys we work with.

The ranchers we work for.

The weather we work in.

The wild life that does its regular meet and greet.

The challenges of full-time RV Living.

Surprisingly, to me most of all, I write about that fact that I really like the job.

There are days, like a couple of days ago when it hit 112, that I like it a little less. But mostly, I like it.

It’s not for everyone. Read through the pros and cons. But I would encourage you to get your information from gate guards, not just from forums. It seems as though many write in there and share quite a few opinions but haven’t ever actually worked as gate guards.

Sorry I lost your head, Big John…

Ask questions of any or all of us. Every gate guard listed here will be glad to tell you about their experiences.

Most of us have question sections on our blogs – and most of us also list an email address if you have something you want to ask that you’re too shy to post.

If you read the Gate Guard Info section and I haven’t addressed your question, someone else is probably wondering the same thing.

The work isn’t hard, the key to gate guarding, I think, is attitude. If you’re optimistic and generally pleasant, so is the job. If you’re not, I doubt if you’ll find the job is either. That’s kind of life though, isn’t it?

I hope this has been of some help.

Next post – we had a blowout, or blowback. I have to look up the official term before I write about it.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Debbie

आभारी आहे (thank you)

(I have to add that it just baffles me that the spell checker knows the word आभारी आहे but doesn’t catch it when I spell the, hte…)

Dial 211

You can dial 211 to reach Help in Texas. I thought about dialing it yesterday to report a potential cosmic disturbance but there isn’t a category for that in their index.

It was 211 112 (same difference) degrees here yesterday. It’s supposed to get down to 106 today. This seems to have caused a serious atmospheric shift. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I realize that those of you who live in vacations spots like Lake Havasu City, AZ wouldn’t blink at 112. Just another day in paradise. I remember reading that Lake Havasu City has the hottest average summer temperatures in the US. I Googled it just to check – and yep – it’s hot there.

I had to smile at the info that popped up on Google:

Arizona Vacation Spots – Unique Vacation Ideas – Lake Havasu City

Have an Arizona vacation with affordable hotels, condos and rentals. The ideal spot for family fun vacations, Lake Havasu offers sunny skies

Climate data for Lake Havasu City AZ
Month Jun Jul Aug
Record high °F (°C) 128
(53.3)
126
(52.2)
123
(50.6)
Average high °F (°C) 106.3
(41.28)
111.3
(44.06)
110.0
(43.33)
Daily mean °F (°C) 91.7
(33.17)
98.3
(36.83)
97.2
(36.22)
Average low °F (°C) 77.0
(25)
85.1
(29.5)
84.3
(29.06)
Record low °F (°C) 60
(15.6)
68
(20)
71
(21.7)

Well, yes, I can see the uniqueness of vacationing someplace where the average temperature is 111. The reason is lost on me, but not the uniqueness.

If any of you are reading this in Lake Havasu City, please don’t take offense or send hate mail. I’m one of those few odd ones who really, really doesn’t like hot weather. That’s why I moved from the beautiful Oregon coast where it never got over 75 to Texas.

Anyway, back to the cosmic disturbance. Did you see the reports about the earthquake last week where dogs and lemurs knew it was coming and got upset moments, or in the lemurs case, hours in advance?

Something like that happened here yesterday when the temperature began climbing.

It started with Henry who was insistent on making constant eye contact. No matter what I bribed him with, he was continued to stand on my neck and put his nose about an inch and a half from mine.

He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he knew something was amiss.

Then there were the calves who were determined to get on TV.

I missed my shot of Heidi throwing her red mixing bowl of water on them. She was a blur. About the time one would leave, two more would take his place.

She splashed them until they left for dryer pastures – which is just about anywhere.

But Henry still wasn’t settled.

He continued the stare down as the temperature climbed. Before long the ground began to shake.

I thought, possibly, it had simply gotten so hot that it was cracking up, just like the rest of us in the deep south (that’s what the call this on TV).

Remember my alien weeds? They continue to survive and thrive (as you can see in the above photos). Most of them now tower over us.

That may give you some perspective on what, combined with the 112 degree temps caused to the earth to shake as he grazed directly outside our door. I thought poor Henry was going to burst a bark, but he just kept the stare down going.

To say this a whole lot of bull would be grossly understating things.

To say the earth shook isn’t even an exaggeration.

To say that it was a heat related, cosmic event might be stretching it a little.

To say that Heidi wouldn’t move off the top step to take the pictures would be to make fun of her bolvinaphobia.

Heidi wouldn’t move off the step to take pictures.

She gave me very specific instructions:  keep an eye on Henry and a hand on the door so I could swing it shut behind her if he charged.

To say the Brahma was completely indifferent would be completely true.

Maybe today when it’s only 106, the earth will stop trembling and we’ll let Henry out to dampen the caliche… maybe…

Angry Birds

Angry Birds are everywhere. They may not be much of a factor in your life, but they’ve become a huge deal in mine!

In Angry Birds, players control a flock of multi-colored birds that are attempting to retrieve eggs that have been stolen by a group of evil green pigs. On each level, the pigs are sheltered by structures made of various materials such as wood, ice and stone, and the objective of the game is to eliminate all the pigs in the level. Using a slingshot, players launch the birds with the intent of either hitting the pigs directly or damaging the structures, which would cause them to collapse and kill the pigs. ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angry_Birds

Angry Birds has been sweeping the nation  world since it’s advent for Apple in December of 2009.

If you know about Angry Birds, there’s no need to explain more and if you don’t you probably aren’t all that interested.

Before I elaborate on my relationship with Angry Birds, I need to add some disclaimers.

I’m not a gamer. When I bought my Verizon Droid very smart phone in 2010, it came with 3 games – Tilt, Bejeweled and Angry Birds, none of which had I even heard of. Tilt was pretty easy to master, so I moved on to Angry Birds. At that time I was a manager at a beautiful resort on the Oregon Coast. Because I was the front desk supervisor and guest service manager, I was always pleasant – always.

At the end of the day, I would go to bed and play Angry Birds. Maybe there was something cathartic about pulling back a virtual slingshot and flinging birds at walls of wood and stone and ice to kill green pigs.

I was on level 5 when, after moving to Texas to become a gate guard in the wilderness, I had to switch to a less smart AT&T phone which not only didn’t come with Angry Birds, but for which the app wasn’t yet developed. Clearly not a student of the game or of the strategies, I never did know why the birds were so angry.

I have a different phone now which is only slightly smarter and I did recently buy Angry Birds for a couple of dollars. I haven’t played it much since I had to start at level 1 with my new phone,  but I did find out why the birds are angry. Somehow the green pigs (which have only heads – and sometimes helmets, but no legs) managed to steal the eggs (which are golden) from the birds. This, understandably, made the birds very mad.

As unlikely as the scenario might seem, the task was no doubt made easier for the pigs by the fact that the birds are wingless. Fascinating concept: disembodied green pig heads stealing golden eggs from wingless birds.

All this leads to my latest personal crisis. The local feral pigs have taken up serious nighttime screaming. This starts sometime after midnight. They rotate with the coyotes. This was already semi-creepy. Then about 3 nights ago, around 2-3 a.m. a persistent thumping ritual has begun, moving back and forth across the RV roof.  We’re sitting in the middle of absolutely nothing, unless you count the giant alien weeds.

It’s a LONG way to a tree and the ladder is too high off the ground for a raccoon. I’ve seen some bats at dusk but unless they’re also forming a Union, I’m left to conclude that the screaming pigs have managed to, once again, steal the golden eggs, causing very angry birds to flock to my roof.