racquetball Pictures, Images and Photos

Reading this blog  must be akin to being a spectator, standing in the middle of a racquetball court. You never know which wall the ball is going to come flying off of! I get it. I’ve got the racquet and I can’t see it coming either!

I was hoping that I’d find my voice, develop a steady style and land in some niche somewhere. I don’t see that happening.

I’m resigned to the fact that I have eclectic interests. In this past week, I’ve written about: Mighty Mouse, the Moon, Shaving in the Shower, Tarantulas, Blogging and Drilling a Well. It’s no wonder someone typed never turn fool at the fork in the road yesterday in their search engine and landed in an oil well in Texas! I added a new category tonight: You Betcha! for posts like this one that even I can’t tag.

I hadn’t planned on writing tonight. That all changed over a jar of Creamy Jiffy Peanut Butter. Heidi bought creamy by mistake.

Ron is one of our drillers.

Not only did he share his crock pot tarantulas, he also gave us a sack of squash that he brought back from his garden at home in Louisiana.

I stopped him on his way back in from town to see if he wanted the PB. He took it, drove a few yards and then backed right back up.

Look what’s in the road, he says. Maybe he’s a tarantula magnet? Of course, it could be me. There was that incident with the tiger shark in Oregon.

I came inside, grabbed my camera and started taking pictures, which is semi-remarkable since I’m rather terrified of spiders in general, even real little ones.

This particular tarantula was not only photogenic but seemed to be interested in establishing a relationship. I walked toward him and he rushed happily up to greet me. I thought they were suppose to be shy?

Photo op complete, it became apparent he had designs on the RV. Heidi strongly objected.

Ron, knowing that arachnophobs like me, don’t bond well with arachnids, jumped out of his truck, got a can and scoped him up.Sorry for the poor photography. It wasn’t my finest moment.

About an hour later, Ron made another trip to town. When he came backed, he pulled up and shut his engine off. If you’ve been following Fork, you know what that means. I’ve learned to just come back inside and get my camera before I even ask.

I knew you’d want to see this, he says.

As we were examining the snake, 2 scorpions scurried around his feet. One crawled into his slipper which he promptly kicked off his foot, straight at me (he apologized later).

We move to a new site tomorrow. It’s only 4 miles away. However, it’s not in a wheat field. I’m hoping our menagerie here is partial to wheat. I’m writing this at 10:30 pm. That means I have 8 more hours of darkness ahead and many trips to make out to the road.

All this time I thought the rustling I heard was the wheat blowing in the wind, even on the nights there wasn’t any wind. Now I know better.

I promise this is the last post with spider pictures unless I see one as big as a dinner plate (like my Sis did in her driveway in Tuscon). For a change of pace, I plan on writing on grief tomorrow night, of course, that could change.

Be prepared to duck!

Things That Don’t Belong Together

There are some combinations that  just seem wrong to me. I’d love to hear what you think. I’ll start things off with a few combos that popped into my head tonight:

Ignorance and Bliss: Absolutely not. Ask any Midwesterner who, like me, has spent 6 hours surf fishing in the ocean on a cloudy day (of course this may fall under the next pairing as well).

Common and Sense: Clearly an oxymoron.

Water and Popcorn: I have a  friend who drinks water with popcorn. I just don’t get it.Popcorn requires pop, or if you’re not from the Midwest, soda; or if you’re from Texas, Coke (the generic name for all soft drinks). I forgot where I was last week and ordered a medium pop at the DQ. The very sweet girl who waited on me said they don’t sell pop, but they might have some at the liquor store.

Black Cords and Cats: I use to run into this combination a lot before switching to blue jeans. I’d spend the day looking like a giant lint roller.

Reading and Driving: I’ve seen people driving while reading books, newspaper, magazines, Kindles etc… scary.

Weather and Forecaster:  Just kidding.  🙂

Mentos and Diet Coke: I take that one back, too. They won’t stay together but it’s great fun to watch!

If you follow Fork, these won’t come as a surprise. Here are some of the combinations that haven’t worked well for me since moving to Texas:

Scrambled Eggs and Prickly Pear Cactus: It was so nice of you Steve, I just couldn’t get past the texture.

Yarn and Velcro: I think this one is self-explanatory.

Caliche and Wind: If you don’t get it, just come on down!

Raccoons and Screen Doors: Honestly guys, wait for an invitation.

Tabasco and Pancakes: Check out Texas IHOPs.

Snakes and Trees: I’m just not coordinated enough to be looking up and down and walking around, all at the same time.

And tonight I have a new one to add:

Tarantulas and Crock Pots: This one requires a bit of explaining.

Most folks around here drive trucks, loud diesels trucks. Although lots of guys stop to talk, no one ever turns off their engine, so you spend a lot of time hollering back and forth.

If a guy turn off the engine, it almost always means he has something to show us or something to give us. Sometimes, it’s something really sweet like dinner or 4 dozen donuts. That’s quite a lot of donuts for 2 people so, of course, we gave them to the guys, still it was a nice thought.

You’ve already heard about the rattlesnake that got lost in the back of the pickup. That was an engine stopper for quite a while.

Tonight, Ron pulled up and turned off the engine. He walked around to the back of his truck and picked up a crock pot. I thought he was bringing dinner. But no, inside were 2 black tarantulas. He caught them, and a 3rd one that’s hiding in his truck bed, in the wheat field across the road.

I’m putting the picture I took at the very bottom so you can read this post without looking at it if you don’t care for spiders. I’m such an arachnophob that I’m slightly creeped-out by Grand Daddy Long Legs and they aren’t even real spiders, so it could just be me, but I don’t think tarantulas and crock pots belong together.

Are there any combinations that you’ve run across that seem a bit odd? I’d love to add to the list!

Holy Flapping Fangs, Batman!

I have arachnophobia. Henry has bovinaphobia. Heidi’s pretty much just afraid of  TV shows with serial killers. We spent the last 3 years on the ‘Wild Oregon Coast’ where the most dangerous thing I ever encountered was a sneaker wave. I’ve been in Texas for a little over 3 months. I think I’m adjusting pretty well. I work the  night shift as a gate guard for an oil rig. I live in a 32′ RV in an environment where what doesn’t want to shoot me, wants to eat me, or at least take a sample.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m surrounded by wild boars and feral pigs; rattlesnakes and copperheads; tarantulas and black widows; scorpions and free ranging mad bulls. Tonight I’m adding bats and rats; and horned (lizard) frogs and alligators (one of the roughnecks just told me we have alligators both our ditches and displayed on fence posts).

NewsWatch 12 reported unusually high bat activity in the area. There are always a good number of bats in Texas, but it appears they’re on the upswing. Oklahoma and Texas are the only 2 states in the nation that have an Official State Flying Mammal. Both claim an out-of-stater: the Mexican free-tailed bat. Holy Flapping Fangs, Batman! Really? An Official State Flying Mammal?

In Austin you can go on Capital Cruises’ internationally famous bat watching excursions. You board the boat at dusk and take a ride under the Congress Avenue Bridge to see, as you might expect, bats. Actually, you’ll see the largest urban bat colony in the United States. A ticket for this exciting event is only $10 unless you want to customize your excursion with dinner and cocktails.

It’s hard to image a more enchanting evening than floating gently down the river, eating ‘Pan Roasted “Broken Arrow” Axis Deer – served with forest mushrooms and organic wheat berry and roasted corn pilaf’ and a nice glass of Chardonnay, while gazing at the enormous flock of bats alternately flapping and hanging overhead.

Friday, I folded a spider in my underwear at the Laundromat. In spite of my neurotic fear of spiders, I shook it out and gave it a stomp. It wasn’t a tarantula or I would likely have just left the Laundromat, donating all our clothes to the next patron.

This might be a good time for a disclaimer. If that statement offended you because you think spiders are people, too, you probably ought to quit reading this blog. While I will concede that all of God’s creatures have a purpose, they have no business in my underwear and I wasn’t willing to chance that something that fast with 8 legs might take a quick spin around the post and scurry back in the pile as soon as my back was turned.

Holy Ram Invasions, Batman! Before starting this job, about all I knew about Texas was that it’s BIG. I didn’t know that every creepy Reptile, Amphibian and Mammal living in North America would be snacking in my neighborhood! I was reminded to today to check the wiring in the RV and the Jeep since we have a significant rat population. There are even Rat Rescue Groups, yes, really, and the Rat Association of Texas welcomes all rat enthusiasts.

After the late night news, I read a bit about the horned frog (technically they’re lizards, but frog worked better for TCU). 26 states have official state reptiles. I have no idea why. In Texas it’s the  horned(lizard) frog. Texas Christian University has chosen the Horned Frog as it’s mascot. Initially I thought that was a little wimpy (not as wimpy as the Upper Iowa Peacocks, but still…) until I began to read about horned frogs.

Purple, White, Horned Frogs Fight
Victory, Victory, Right, Right, Right


Although they aren’t poisonous, the horned lizard frogs have earned their bad guy reputation by being exceptionally aggressive, as in attacking animals many times their size. And yes, I’m told they do live on this ranch. Horned frogs have extremely wide mouths and steel-trap jaws. In the Midwest, the greatest danger I ever faced from a frog was a wet hand and mythological warts (although I think the warts are more toad-ish).  A frog with steel-trap jaws, seriously?

I’ve read that they lie in wait, springing out and fearlessly chomping down on their chosen prey, or any unsuspecting trespasser that happens to spook them.

There’s a simple lesson here: try never to startle a horned frog.

To top it off, they also bellow like bovines.

Poor Henry.

Looks like I’m going to have to start carrying him on his walks.

When I moved to Texas, it was the heat I thought might kill me.

Now I’m pretty sure it’s the neighbors.

Deep In The Heart of Texas, Yankee Style

It’s Monday and time for another Texas tribute. Can there any better way to pay tribute than through a song? There are a whole lot of songs about Texas. Perry Como, from Pittsburgh, took Deep in the Heart of Texas to the top of  Hit Parade Chart for 5 week in 1942. Personally, I prefer the rendition sung by America’s ‘original singing cowboy’, Gene Autry, a Texan through and through.

You know a song is a classic when you hear it in a stadium. The Owls and the Astros sing it, right after Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch. The Longhorns, Cougars and Horned Frogs all perform it for football fans to bolster enthusiasm.

These are the original lyrics for those who didn’t watch the above clip or are from north of the Mason/Dixon line:

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The stars at night are big and bright

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie sky is wide and high

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The sage in bloom is like perfume

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of the one I love

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail along the trail

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The rabbits rush around the brush

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The cowboys cry, “Ki-yip-pee-yi”

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The doggies bawl and bawl and bawl

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

I love the (clap, clap, clap, clap)! It’s like going to a live performance of Grease where the whole audience does the Hand Jive. OK, well, that’s a little more complicated, but it’s still crowd pleaser.

You can’t improve on a classic.

This is just a Yankee version: same tune, same refrain, and definitely the same classic clapping:

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Red eyes at night gleam creepy bright

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie heat will melt your feet

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The wild hogs bloom like skunk perfume

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of buzzards above

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The mad bull wails along the trails

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Rattlesnakes hush around the brush

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The boars huge tusks shine white at dusk

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Tarantulas  crawl and crawl and crawl

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

I hope I did the song Yankee proud. Y’all come back now, ya hear?