Friday, April 6, 2018

A Hundred Little Things or Maybe It's Just Nothing At All

I came up with a new word the other day.  "Spitulate".  It'll be in a dictionary some day.  As contributed by the big Ambigui.  It's a combination of spitball, you know, when you're making semi-uninformed stuff up on the spur of the moment; "Hey, I'm spitballing ovah here!"

I've been primarily substituting it for "speculate", but I've also found it can be substituted for any number of other "thinking" type verbs.  Such as calculate, confabulate, cogitate, formulate, postulate, hypothecate, matriculate, perambulate, pontificate, and one of my very most favorites but rarely ever used circumambulate.

Besides being way too hard to pronounce who the hell knows what it means?

I get the circum part.  It could be as simple as trying to draw a line with a marker around a beach ball.  Or trying to go around the globe in a thirty foot ship in the 1600's.  Or it could have something to do with that scary traditional thing they do to men's penis's when they are completely innocent little babies.

"Hey, kid.  Just let me cause some excruciating pain to a soon to be most favorite appendage as a way of welcoming your chaste little body and soul to the world."

It's the ambulate part just after you've circumed that I'm skeptical about.  I'm not sure ambulating is even legal.

Did anybody else out there read the somewhat recent AARP article about how to fall safely?

I found it rather illuminatingly scary.  I mean, they show you with pictures how to drop and roll, but they say the best way to learn to do it properly is to practice.  Think about that.  They're advising people like me, old farts in their sixties, to practice falling. 

That article was probably sponsored by the wheel chair industry.

Speaking of falling and wheel chairs, I FINIALLY got the MRI done on my left knee, four and a half months after the initial injury.  (And I have decent health insurance.)

"There is a complex tear involving the posterior horn and adjacent posterior root attachment of the medial meniscus..."

And so on and so forth.  There's a lot more.  It's pretty tore up.

Baker's Cyst?  Fuck that nurse practitioner.  I don't have time to make shit up and I don't habitually take pain pills.  Surgery will be scheduled for late May to early June.

If you read this blog from time to time you may have noticed I've been away from the keyboard for a while.  Well, something somewhat unexpected has come my way that looks like it's going to take me away to the business world once again.

It all has to do with an invention related to marijuana harvesting.  It's going to be called "The Deresinator".  If you've ever trimmed marijuana you'll comprehend the value and necessity.  If you've never trimmed marijuana or even know what marijuana is I may have already said too much.  And yes, it is possible I may have been remotely involved with the medicinal marijuana industry here in California for a few years now.

There's nothing like "The Deresinator" on the market today.  It's will save trimmers and growers time and money.  And mess.  And rather than try and enter an extremely regulated and expensive burgeoning and exploding green gold rush market, we're making unregulated but really useful and not so expensive shovels.  Those familiar with the 1850's real gold rush here in California will understand that analogy.

We plan on entering the market with a beta model this fall, and then ramp up for production and release on 4/20/2019.  Those familiar with marijuana will understand the significance of that date.

It's been an education to say the least, starting with a design concept.  We (my son and I are partners, actually now through a newly formed LLC) initially went through a design and concept firm in Minneapolis.  And that took some research just to find them.

The internet is rife with sharks and thieves that would part would-be dreamers from their hard earned money.  A lot of people think up a lot of things, apparently, and there are a lot of other people that would offer promises and solutions but not really follow through.

Fortunately my intuitive bullshit radar still works from my previous tenure in the business world.  Apparently my prolonged recess here on the hill has not dulled all of my say what? veracity.

I left a message at an 800 # from an invention website.  Pick a site.  There's a slew of them.  And when homeboy returned the call, he stated he was there to facilitate my dreams.  My dreams?  What has that got to do with the reality of the situation?  Red flags started exploding.

I put him off.  I'm still good at that too.  And then I started delving.  The government's patent office website has a ton of useful information: USTPO.GOV.  And inventor beware, there are a ton of inventor scam sites out there.

At any rate, I found one of the good guys, and we got a provisional (one year) patent through them.  But then there's the utility patent, and getting all the internal working mechanisms actually functioning and so on and so forth.

So the next story has to do with a business trip my son and I took up to The Dalles, Oregon this last January to meet with the gentleman who is doing the final engineering and design work to bring our product to the utility patent and testing phase.

Anyway, we had a very productive meeting and then my son and I went on a research mission.  You know, visiting one or two of the many retail pot shops that are in and around Portland these days.  I mean, when you look at Portland on weedmaps.com it looks a lot like Amsterdam...if you know what I mean.

We did discover that most of the retail marijuana for sale was hand trimmed, which is good, because that's what our invention will service.  There are many different kinds of machines that will actually trim the buds (or flowers), but the majority of retail customers and connoisseurs prefer the hand manicured buds.  Machines tend to rape and pillage, and the buds do not reflect that pain well.

We checked in to a motel near PDX around 4 PM and took a brief respite before considering dinner.  My son, handy with the smart phone, started looking for restaurants near to where we were.  I would have been in the phone book-if they still have one-because I don't have a smart phone.  I still sport a flip phone.

So a Famous Dave's BBQ joint was nearby.  They're good, but they're a chain.  I think my lovely wife and I dined there somewhere in Tennessee one time.  They were an option, but then he stumbled upon "Wild Bill's Steakhouse", boasting the finest food west of the Rio Grande.

And they even had frog legs on the menu, something my son has never had.  I figured that was a pretty big (and weird) boast, touting the Rio Grande when we were a mere mile from the mighty Columbia.  But what the hell, we had to check out that boast.

When we got there it turned out Wild Bill's was more of an old fashioned sports bar than steak house.  But they did have some top notch looking meat on the menu, only no mention of frog legs.

So my son inquired.

And the waitress, getting a rather puzzled look on her face, said, "Um, no."

We shrugged.  That omission was certainly not going to blow the deal. 

So he ordered a $15 filet mignon.  I ordered an $8 burger.  They were both great.

When we returned to our room we discovered the Wild Bill's he was looking at was located in Missouri.  I have since discovered there are probably about a hundred Wild Bill's eateries scattered throughout the US.  Apparently a lot of Bill's boast beef.  Go figure.

Things around the old homestead are still chugging along.  I hope to get a few more garden areas on automatic drip this year, including the orchard.  I have also been working feverishly to get the last bit of ground around the house landscaped.

Then my ultimate master plan will be completed.  I will be able to walk around the entire house barefoot and not act like I am walking on hot coals anywhere.

While I am not giving up this blog entirely, you may be happy to know I will soon be blogging primarily for a new website, cleantrimming.com.  It's not quite up and operational yet, but should be within a month or so.  I will keep you posted.

Marketing for this product should be a gas, besides the blog there will probably be some U-Tube videos.  Hilarity in marketing will accompany the extreme functionality of our new product.

And with that I wish you a happy Spring, as current April showers dance upon the awning outside my window.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Meniscus, Menascus, a Green and Yellow Casket

I went grocery shopping the other morning.  I had a very specific list with about two dozen items for two different grocery stores.  I know the stores almost like the back of my hand so I can draft up a pretty concise list based on route strategy and best prices.  Being an old fart I always shop for the deals and steals too.  All that is also calculated into my list.  For both stores.  It takes a good thirty minutes to draft.

It's a problem, I know.

I lost the list about two minutes in to the first store.  I retraced my route several times.  It couldn't have been on the floor for more than thirty seconds.  I guess kudos could be given towards the fastidiousness of the produce team, but I sure wished they gave me a full minute.

I think I did pretty well, considering, but I guess I'll never know until I reach for the Pop Tarts and they're not there.  Kidding.  Do they still make those things?  I haven't had a Pop Tart since 1970.

Kernal Klutz experienced another incident the other day.  He actually took a few pictures this time so hopefully both you and he will understand it was just a total freak accident.  Total. Freak.  Accident.  Just like all the others.

So, I was going to make bean soup with some leftover ham from the holidays. I decided the crock pot would be the ideal medium with which to accomplish this.

I ambled down to the pantry where the crock pot is stored.  This cock pot, by the way, was just purchased in December.  The old one had cracked and was leaking.  So I hurriedly bought the new one cause we needed it for meatballs at our holiday party.
Here is the pathway into the kitchen from the pantry.  I generally deploy the crock pot on the counter to the left near the paper towel dispenser.  Notice the butcher block to the right with the hanging pot holders.

Notice the hangers on which the pot holders and dish towels are hanging.

Notice how-even when you are ambling by at a snail's pace, like an old poop just getting up in the morning, scratching his ass and meandering downstairs to start the coffee-the end of the crock pot cord can catch quite easily in a hook.  Apparently.  By golly.  Which is what happened. 

And since the cord is only like, fifteen inches long, it didn't take long-even at a snail's pace-for resistance to be met.  Since I was carrying the crock pot by the handles with which one normally carries a crock pot, and since said handled part is essentially the base unit that the cord is also attached to, that part stayed in my hands as my forward movement was thwarted.  That was fine. 

The unattached ceramic insert and hard plastic lid went airborne though. Which was still fine.

But when they eventually hit something solid, like the floor, that part didn't go as well.  They both sorta crashed and burned.

I have no idea if that's my story but I'm sticking to it.

In another WTF event I tore the medial meniscus in my left knee back in November.  At least I'm about 99% sure.  An actual diagnosis from an orthopedic surgeon will be forthcoming.  Someday.    But first he's gonna want an MRI.  So there goes another couple weeks.  So I'll get an official diagnosis about four months after the injury incident occurred.  Good thing it's not life threatening.  

Oh, and by the way, I do have decent health insurance.

In the meantime, I've been walking around this planet like Festus in the old Gunsmoke TV series, in pain ranging from a two to an eight at any given moment.  I know.  I'll bet you're wondering what the hell is going on and how did this saga begin?

First of all, I'm Gettin Old.  Just waking up, let alone moving about can cause all sorts of physical complications.  So my first recollection of knee pain doesn't really correspond with any catastrophic event. I apparently just got out of bed.

But then there was an event on a ladder.  Actually off a ladder.  I had been pruning the rose arbor, and when coming down I mistook the second rung for the first.  While not an extreme distance, dropping two rung elevations to the ground rather than an expected one can catch you off guard and many times have detrimental consequences.  I ended up coming down very hard on my left leg, twisting my knee in the process.  Which in turn dropped me to the ground in excruciating pain. 

Ay Carumba!

Actually, I'm pretty sure my vocabulary didn't stray to a foreign tongue.  I'm pretty sure it stayed  a lot closer to the gutter.

Let me check.

Yep, my memory concurs.  The only thing it doesn't recall is how many times that word starting with "f" and ending in "k" was dealt.  In between the gasps for breath.  Fifty?  A hundred? 

That word doesn't have to be stated loud to be effective by the way.  You can mutter it through searing pain.  It helps.  Somehow.

I couldn't get up for five minutes.  No one was home nor was a human around for at least a few hundred yards.  Not even close enough to offend or alert if I had been shouting. 

The next day I slipped on some wet leaves.  I managed to stay afoot, however, I re-twisted the already sore knee in the process. 

Ah Chi Mama! 

There I go again.

I ended up on the wet ground anyway, for another five minutes, uttering the "f" fucking bomb all the way down.  Actually, I have recently developed an entire colorful collage that goes something like this; "Fuckity fuckity fuckity fuckity fuckity fuckity fuck fuck fuck."

I repeat as necessary.  Once in a while I might add a few other expletives for color.

It was about this time I figured out the complication, whatever it was, was not going away quietly.  It had been a couple weeks, it was time to see the doc.  You see, as I mentioned above, there are constant aches and pains.  I'm getting old. 

So when some new ache or pain comes around I give it some time to dissipate on it's own.  Do some home remedy.  Could just be an old man thing.  But if it persists after a couple weeks and is exquisite enough, time to see the doc.

So the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I call and my doc's schedule is full.  Go figure.  But I could get in and see his nurse practitioner.  In pain I acquiesced, even though the last NP I saw almost killed me with her missed diagnosis. 

"Oh, you have pleurisy.  Here's some Ibuprofen."

No, actually, I had appendicitis.  Ten days later, after it had perforated, that was confirmed.  You can read all about that right here: Angels on my Barcalounger.


Ibuprofen, by the way, does not come close to touching the pain of appendicitis.

Besides the pain on the medial side of the knee, there was and still is a pretty large swollen sac behind the knee.  The NP focused on that, just like the other NP focused on my lungs after I mentioned it also hurt when I took a breath.  The current NP said I probably had a Baker's Cyst.  She did order X-rays and gave me a script for Norco though, so I had that going for me.

I got the X-rays done that same day and then spent the holiday weekend at our wonderful daughter's gimping around.  Cruised over to San Francisco on Black Friday, Union Square was packed.  There also must've been three hundred cops, plus a fucking Swat Humvee.  Just in case. 

Crowded public places.  Cops with machine guns.  The new norm.

I'm not big on Norco, but it serves a purpose.  I also won't take more than one per day, and that's gotta be late in the day.  Cause, like, otherwise, how am I going to get anything done?  So that left the better part of each day hobbling around here like a one legged Civil War vet taking care of things that constantly need taking care of when you live in the country.

The week after Thanksgiving I had to follow-up and call the NP for the X-ray results. She didn't bother to follow-up and call me with results like my real doc's assistant ALWAYS does.  I had to leave a message.

When the NP's assistant returned my call she informed me the X-rays came back negative.  What a surprise.  Ligaments, tendons, meniscus's and tears thereof only show up on MRI's. 

After she informed me the x-rays were negative, I think she thought we were done.  It was, after all, just a Baker's Cyst.

Until I asked, "So what do we do next?"

"Oh. You want more?"

"I can't walk without pain, you idiot.  Yes, what's next?"

I didn't really say the "idiot" part, but I'm pretty sure I must have been thinking it since it ended up here in print  .

"I guess we could do an ultra sound'.  I'll talk to (the NP) and get that going," responded the idiot.

An ultra sound?

"Yes.  Please. Thank you,"  I replied.

In the meantime, as I waited, and meandered about in pain, I discovered my lovely wife's hair dresser had also recently experienced a torn meniscus.

The meniscus, by the way, is a cartilage like gasket thingy that lies between a couple moving parts in the knee.  It tears or breaks sometimes for a variety of reasons.

So she ended up going to the ER, somehow saw an actual orthopedic surgeon who was on call that day, got an MRI, a cortisone shot (which alleviates the pain) and arthroscopic surgery scheduled.  She was still a month away from her surgery, but she was pain free.

My lovely wife was tired of seeing me in pain.  After she told me her hairdresser's story she was convinced it was the way to go.  I had an ultra sound scheduled-why I still don't know-but it was two weeks away.  She figured at the very least I could get a shot of cortisone and be pain free while we waited.

The morning after she relayed the story we had an argument.  I really did not want to go to the ER, she was adamant.  I conceded.  Holy cow.

I was, after all, tired of being in pain.

After checking in, it was a long, three hour wait.  And I don't wait well.  And I don't even have a smart phone to waste time on.  Good thing I was in pain.  That kept my patience in check.

I finally got in and a visiting female doc bitch with absolutely NO bedside manner and a red nose larger and brighter than Rudolph's basically stated she couldn't do anything.  She couldn't order MRI.  She said it wasn't an emergency.  Why were we wasting her time?

I don't think she even touched my leg.  My lovely wife was in tears.

My lovely wife asked if I could at least get a cortisone shot. 

The visiting female doc with nosacea said no.  The bitch.

She said she had no idea who we were.  She didn't arbitrarily give cortisone shots to just anyone. 

WTF?  I'm a sixty-three year old cortisone addict?  It was if we had asked for heroin.

Three hundred dollar co-pay and over three hours wasted.  Gone.  Poof.  Nothing.  Not even sympathy.

Don't get me wrong,  While that experience was extremely negative, when I went in with a perforated appendix, even though I had to wait two and a half hours, I had a five star ride.

So I went home and awaited the ultra sound.  I have no idea why.  My knee's not pregnant.  This exercise may show a cyst, but that's only a symptom.  Holy cow.

Neither an X-ray or ultrasound will show a torn meniscus, but the NP ordered them anyway.  When the results of the ultrasound came back the NP's assistant reiterated it was a Baker's Cyst.  I was ready to scream.  Then she said they were referring me to an orthopedic surgeon.  And I was relieved.

It's where I wanted to be, but it took almost two months to get there.  And another week of leaving messages at the ortho's office until I finally got through to a live human. Apparently there was another ortho office in town that recently closed so this new one is rather overwhelmed.  Small town.  The receptionist was nice, but the soonest I could get in was the twelfth.  Of February. 

And I was out of pain medication and my back and butt were starting to hurt because I was gimping weird.  And I got another month and a half to go?  Even before they order an MRI?  Holy shit.

So I called my doc's office to see if I could at least re-up the pain meds for another month.  And they can't do that over the phone anymore because of the opioid epidemic.  But somehow, someway, I was able to magically get in and see my doc, not the NP.  My real doc.  You know, a physician.  With a degree and everything.

I love my doc.  He's a great guy.  Smart guy too.  Easy to talk to.  Good sense of humor too.  Has to.  He's deals with me. 

I gave him the sweetened, condensed version.  Apparently the NP and her assistant had not been consulting with him about my situation as the assistant said they had.  No wonder things had not been progressing as they should have been.

He was also a little surprised about the ultrasound, but did say a Baker's Cyst is many times a symptom of a medial meniscus tear.  Which I probably had. 

I had been sent out to wander aimlessly in the wilderness with no resolution for two months by the NP and in five minutes I was totally dialed in with my doc.  He gave me a cortisone shot AND more pain meds, which hopefully I won't have to be taking much longer.  My knee's still pretty banged up a few days after but I'm hopeful the shot will work.

The upshot of all this is that I will NEVER see an NP again.  They're out to cripple or kill me.  Had I seen my doc originally chances are I could have had a cortisone shot much sooner (like a month ago) and no doubt saved the whole cost and time of the ER visit.  Plus the argument with my lovely wife.

The cortisone shot is only a bandaid, of course, but a much appreciated one.  If indeed it is a torn medial meniscus I will need some arthroscopic surgery to repair.  Which generally is not a big deal.  I think the MRI will be worse.

Since I've turned sixty-three a seemingly casual, yet constant parade of klutz capades, accidents and mishaps have been occurring, but there's nothing glaringly apparent that I am aware of that I am doing different.  Shit just seems to be more disturbed about me now than before. 

Yet I am still the calm, concise, peaceful and jovial fool I have always been.  At least I think so.
I hope it's not a new norm for me, but if it is, watch out.  As I may have already mentioned somewhere, I wouldn't trust me with anything more fragile than a pair of socks.

I have been, of course, working on a plethora of projects around the old homestead here, some of which might make it into print.  Good thing none of them involve dynamite.

Happy Winter!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Another Lake Tahoe Offensive and the Rise of Kernel Klutz

So I just had a tooth pulled the other day.  The day after it felt like there had been a mixed martial arts bout in there.  Wile Coyote and the Roadrunner going a couple rounds.  A case of Acme dynamite going kaboom.  Once this all settles down I guess I'll be getting a bionic tooth.  I should be able to gnaw through steel once that's in place.

The fractured tooth that came out has been acting up for a little while.  And of course, it really had to start acting up on a Friday, when my dentist wasn't in his office and when we also happened to be on our fall getaway in Lake Tahoe.

We were planning on going to the Disneyland of the Sierras this fall, you know, Yosemite.  We had such a wonderful time last fall touring Yosemite's Red Headed Step-Cousins we thought we'd give the real deal a go go.  Autumn in the Sierras is generally nothing short of spectacular.

We also just got our lifetime National Park Pass and wanted to give that some use.  But apparently you now need to book a room or campsite near Yosemite a year or two in advance, even in the off-season.  When did that happen?

You can get a room a hundred or so miles away, but who wants to do that?  Might as well just stay in Kansas.

So we ended up staying at a five star lakeside resort in Tahoe for less than a three star Best Western motel near Yosemite would have cost.  I mean...it was kind of like, London or Cabo?

And even though high mountain hiking is quite relaxing (at least the way we do it), I can also handle room service.  It has been a frantic summer and fall here, when this little fall getaway comes around I really enjoy not doing much.  This old body needs a breather.

Folks wonder why I enjoy this time of year so much.  Frankly, it's cause I can finally relax a bit.  Talk to anybody that lives in the country.  Once summer and the heat hits, it's sun up to sun down, twelve to fourteen hours a day.  Once we get a little rain and the days shorten up a bit we country folk can catch our breath.  And go to Tahoe.

I found this deal on Expedia.  Not my usual travel site, but what the hell.  I'm a tramp, I'll go anywhere that can save a few bucks.  Anyway, we ended up at The Landing Resort and Spa and are we ever so happy we did.

Before I forget, I MUST mention that on the scenic couple hour drive to Tahoe we played our two new Mikel Paul CD's.  We had the pleasure of dining with Mikel at my sister's house a couple weeks ago.  Besides being a very engaging and funny soul, he's also a very talented musician.  His music and style remind me of Michael Franks and Randy Newman.  Here's a nice tune by Mikel: The Way a Woman's Body Goes.  Check him out.

When we pulled up to the resort we were greeted by one of the hardest working Bellman-Valet-Driver and nicest all round guys at Tahoe, Jason.   He grabbed all the bags and then ushered us inside where my lovely wife was offered a complimentary glass of champagne while we checked in. 

Nice touch.

The room was a king suite with a gas fireplace, fridge, fifty-five inch TV, Jacuzzi tub, heated bathroom floor and toilet seat and complimentary bathrobes.  With a lake view.  And room service.
And no where to go with nothing to do.  For four days.  I was in heaven.

That evening we decided we wanted burgers.  We got a great referral to the Lucky Beaver bar and grill.  We shuttled on down to the Beaver with Jason, who also gave us instructions to simply call the resort for a return shuttle trip back to the resort when we were ready to return.

We were seated quickly and ordered almost twice as quickly.  There were burgers and sandwiches galore.  I chose a burger with Applewood bacon, an onion ring, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a pickle.  Only, you know, since I'm lactose intolerant I told our waitress specifically to omit the cheese.  I'm pretty sure she wrote it down on the ticket.

When my burger came, with me silently salivating all the while it was being made, I noticed it was smothered in cheese.  Well, aargh.

A minute goes by before I can get our waitress over and tell her there is cheese on my specifically ordered no cheese burger.  She takes it back to the absolutely apathetic kitchen where I am certain the lazy schmuck simply scraped the cheese onto the floor and it was good to go.  Only when she brought it back it was now missing the bacon and onion ring, cause, you know, he left that shit on the floor too.  Another minute or two later I was able to get her attention to the very important missing ingredients.

She comes back with a side of cold brittle bacon and an onion ring with the consistency of Elmer's Glue.  I suppose maybe it was an off night for the cook, but what the hell?  You never know when a critic with a large following of two might be a patron.  They get a star.  The beef was good.  And no tip, since something should have been comped.  A soda?  A beer?  Something.

The Lucky Beaver, by the way, is located at Stateline near Harrah's and right next door to Dotty's and Trapped in Tahoe.  Why, just what the heck are these two interesting places I've just mentioned, you may ask?  Well, I just can't wait to tell you.

Dotty's is a casino of sorts.  It's really small compared to Harrah's or Harvey's, like about the size of a Denny's or Ihop or other chain type coffee shop, more or less.  However, it may be a formula that works.  I just discovered there's like a hundred "Dotty's" scattered throughout Nevada.  I wonder if they're all the same?

South Shore Dotty's might just be the only place on the planet where I witnessed four addictions being fed simultaneously.  Meth-addled chain smoking four toothed human silhouettes drinking cheap vodka while pressing buttons or pulling the handle on one cent slot machines.  Which I think was all Dotty's had on hand to play.  One cent machines.  No tables, no dice, no quarter slots.  No Keno.  About a hundred one cent machines.  For the BIG spenders.  The place reeked of stale smoke and alcohol, but was certain to be a place where you could score speed if you needed to.

After we spent two and a half minutes touring the entire casino, we went back outside and my lovely wife made the call to the resort for our shuttle ride back. Once that was done we had another ten minutes to hang out and explore.  It was then we wandered next door to Dotty's and discovered Trapped in Tahoe.

Trapped in what?  Who did where?  Yeah, this is a place where you pay them money to get trapped in one of four themed 8x8 rooms.  You get an hour to figure how to get out.  That's like paying someone to beat you up. 

We immediately thought of our Paris and Amsterdam traveling companions if we were to do it, they are both quite intelligent.  But then we found out later these were NOT like Disneyland or Sherlock Holmes or even Gestapo themed rooms.  They were more like Saw I through Saw 4 torture chamber rooms.  And since my beautiful sis-in-law and I are both claustrophobic and all four of these 8x8 Saw rooms are underground, I'm thinking we wanted no part of this.  Besides, who wants to give up a limb if we don't have to?

As we sat there marveling why anyone would want to pay forty bucks to be trapped in a closet and voluntarily cut off an appendage, I noticed a black SUV with tinted windows pull up to the curb close to where we were sitting.  A tall, fit gentleman in a large black overcoat hopped out and kind of eyed us over.  He looked like Jason Statham and had subtle black op mercenary written all over him.  He was ten feet away.

My radar immediately went up.  I silently wished I had my trusty terrorist stand-by with me, you know, my ruck sack full of orange marmalade.  I had nothing but my wits.  I kept my eye on him, casually yet warily.

Jason looked about, surveying the surroundings.  Then he started fiddling with his phone. 

"He could be setting off a bomb", I thought.  "Or he's coordinating something with someone, somewhere.  Or maybe he just pulled up to the curb, hopped out rapid fire and started playing a game for no reason at all, like Angry Birds II."

I can be cynical some times.  Especially with me.

"If he pulls a gun I'll dive for his legs.  Take him down.  Put an elbow through his wind pipe.  If he doesn't shoot me first.  I'm a ninja.  I'm a ninja."

I've found it helps to shamelessly lie when trying to bolster my confidence while I am mentally preparing for impossible physical body movement.

Just then my lovely wife's phone rang.  She looked down at her phone and, not recognizing the number, exclaimed, "Who the hell is this?"

And then Jason turned towards us and said, smiling, "It's me, your driver."

"Or, maybe he was making a phone call," I continued. "Boy is he lucky I didn't have my ruck sack..."

Apparently Jason Statham was filling in for the real Jason, who was tied up elsewhere with the shuttle.  No torture chamber pun intended.  I thought Jason Statham was just a helper bee but it turns out he's the operations manager of the resort.  We discovered this the following night when we ran into him and the GM, Henri Birmele, on our way to dinner.

We shared a laugh over the Trapped in Tahoe deal that we had discussed the night before and then he introduced us to the GM.  We took that opportunity to let him know that every single employee we had thus far encountered at the resort was extremely gracious, caring and kind.  Even the maintenance dudes.  Henri was genuinely happy to hear this.

He then expounded a bit about the Trapped in Tahoe deal because he knew about it.  Apparently it was a big hit and he wants them to open up a branch near another restaurant he runs in Mammoth Lakes.  We had a lovely conversation and then went off to the resort's posh restaurant, Jimmy's.

Our server, Brittany was nothing short of marvelous.  Knowledgeable and attentive, she educated us on the difference between pate and foie gras.  Cause here in the states you mostly hear those two items together.  Pate Foie Gras.  And so it is that Foie Gras is the actual duck liver, pate is something that is many times made with the duck liver as well as other ingredients.  So Pate Foie Gras is ground up duck liver with olives and onions and stuff.  Similar to Spam, only different.

The meal was fabulous, the dessert even more so.  Since Jimmy's is a Greek themed restaurant I simply had to try their Baklava.  The piece of which was about two inches thick and five inches square.  It was about four times the normal size one would normally receive for dessert.  It was massive.  I even commented on its massiveness, although I wasn't threatened by it.  At all.

Brittany said she told the chef numerous times the portion was too big, she was always throwing some away.  She'd never seen anyone eat an entire piece.  She didn't think it was possible. 

I proved her wrong.  I may have broken up with Little Debbie, but I can still shimmy with sugar when the need arises.

Plus, half that portion was consumed for research's sake.  I think I make better Baklava, but I did get a couple ideas from Jimmy's that I will incorporate this year to make mine even better.

Jimmy's also boasts a 2,000 bottle glass enclosed wine cellar featuring over 250 labels from around the world.   The wine ranges in price from $35 to $2,500 and even features a couple of wines from Lebanon.  Who knew they grew wine in Lebanon?

Jimmy's get five stars.  They got it all.

We shopped, we hung out, we went on a couple strolls, we had no where to go and nothing to do.  It was glorious.

We even had massages at the resort's spa.  Let me say this; Carly, my masseuse gave me the best darn massage I've had in thirty years.  She found and kneaded one major sore muscle on my back.  I've only had one other masseuse be able to identify and work out sore spots with that kind of effectiveness.

One evening we decided to hit Harrah's for dinner.  But since the steaks were about eighty bucks at the top floor restaurant and the line for the buffet was four miles long, we went across the street to Harvey's and ate quite casually at the Hard Rock Cafe.

When we were done with dinner I put about four bucks into an old style quarter machine with cherries and stuff and pulled fifty bucks back out.  My lovely wife put about ten bucks into some super whammy new fangled penny machine.  Which are really kind of misleading.  Cause most of the time you got multiple pennies on multiple lines and every pull is at least a buck.

There was all sorts of commotion going on with every pull, but we had no idea what it was.  Lights and sirens, bells and whistles.  Nothing made sense.  It was all probably designed to keep an addict interested.  I'm sure there've been studies.  The bottom line was something really good soon happened and she pulled about a hundred bucks out.  Being that far ahead and maybe not so affected by bells and whistles, we skedaddled.

But before we left we made another observation.  The big casinos at South Shore used to be glamorous.  I remember going there in my twenties and thirties and wearing a sport coat and carnation.  I think my lovely wife wore a fur coat before it became fashionable to spray paint them. Now it just looks like the patrons at either of Oroville's two casinos made a field trip to Tahoe. Middle aged pokey folks in levis and tennis shoes.  Gambling their lives away.

Thank goodness there's more to Tahoe than casinos.  I like just sitting there and breathing in the fresh high mountain air.  Luxuriating in Tahoe's glorious and scenic vistas and views.  Tahoe has always been a go to place for us and always will be.  And why not?  It's one of the loveliest locations on the planet.  And The Landing just may have become a go to spot at our go to place.

The only complaints I have are thus: there were a couple scuff marks on one wall.  And a small stain on the carpet.  Annnnd, that's about it.

The location and personnel are fantastic.  Everyone we encountered from maintenance to the GM was extremely cordial and sincere.  The staff at the spa quite competent and gifted.  The on site restaurant is magnificent.  And the room; quite comfortable, roomy and elegant.  Plus the bathroom floor and toilet seat are heated.  This is a very easy place to relax and let it all go.   Five and a half stars.

Speaking of things that can go wrong, I'm pretty sure I already had my mid-to-later-in-life crisis.  I think.  That was a few months back, like a couple years ago, when I decided I'd like to go by the nick-name Kernel.  You can read about that right thar.  I think I may have entered a new phase, and if I'm not careful I'm going to be called Kernel Klutz for the remainder of my aging life.

A couple events have transpired over the last couple months that have led me to this potential conclusion.  Careful, this isn't going to be pretty.

The first one had to do with my fantastic father-in-law's 85th birthday.  He's a pie kind of guy and had about a half dozen available for this soiree.  Since there were only a dozen or so family members present and since I have broken up with Little Debbie and can only realistically eat half a pie anymore, there was obviously a little bit of leftover pie.

One of them happened to be chocolate cream, and obviously not the biggest hit since about three quarters of it was left.  When the last guests departed I was involved with the clean-up crew.  I put myself in charge of putting the chocolate cream pie in the fridge.  I have no idea why.

The only available space in the jam-packed fridge was on top of some can of something, a jar of jam and probably some Tupperware.  Maybe even a jar of pickles was involved.  It doesn't matter.  Whatever I gently placed the pie on top of decided it did not want to provide a stable environment for said pie.  No sooner had I backed away from the gentle pie placement that the pie decided to launch into a slow motion chocolate cream filled waterfall slide all the way to the floor.

Oh, did I mention the gentle pie placement was on the top shelf of the fridge?  Four chocolate cream pie shelves later I had a heap of a mess on my hands and the floor.

Wait.

I can top that.

About a month after that horrendous event I made some amazing tri-tip chili.  It was so amazing I went in for seconds. After I filled the bowl I turned to make my way back to the table.  It was on this turn that somehow the chili filled bowl decided it wasn't going with me. 

I wasn't in a hurry.  Most of my senses were about me.  I'm certain.  But somehow, just like a second baseman might lob the ball to the short-stop in the execution of a double play, the bowl went airborne in a soft arc and then, again in excruciating slow motion and detail, proceeded to crash to the floor.

It gets better.

It was upon this crash to the floor that most of the contents of the bowl, the amazing tri-tip chili, which was quite red by the way, proceeded to erupt like a volcano and somehow make its way three feet up in the air.  While a miniscule half a cup landed politely on the counter top, the remainder of the bowl began a slow, deliberate descent down the face of our WHITE cabinets, eventually ending in a tri-tip and red bean puddle on the floor.  The bowl was in eight thousand pieces and just about everywhere.

It took forever to clean that one up.  Cause just like with a chocolate cream pie it's really not a good idea to vacuum chili.

Until further notice, I wouldn't let me near anything more fragile than a pair of socks.

I hope you all shared some great hugs for Thanksgiving.

Happy Hanukkah,  Merry Christmas and Kwanzaa to you.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our Summer of Rock

Okay, so maybe it can't quite compare to some of those summers in the Bay Area in the 1970's as far as rock summers are concerned.  Hell, one Day on the Green back then would completely obliterate this summer of rock.  But you know, all things considered, we're not doing too bad for a couple in their 60's.  We went on out this summer and caught us a couple of shows.

First up on our hit parade was a local show by The Psychedelic Furs, you know, that English rock band founded in London in 1977.  Led by singer Richard Butler and his brother Tim on bass guitar, the Furs are one of the many acts spawned from the British post-punk scene. Their music went through several phases, from an initially austere art rock sound and later touching on new wave and hard rock.

I was originally turned on to them through that legendary San Francisco radio station KFOG and this tune: Ghost in You

We were going to see them at Tahoe a couple years back but my dang appendix decided to burst.  That kind of precluded me from doing anything for a while.  If you haven't read about that fun experience you can catch it right here: Angels on My Barcalounger.

The Furs line-up this time around was a bit different than the above Ghost in You link.  Besides the Butler brothers there was a different guitarist, different drummer, a midget on sax and a Boy George dress alike on keyboards.  Only, you know, she was a real girl and pretty darn good looking. Which Boy George was not.  Either.  Actually.

The show was at the 900 seat Grass Valley Vets hall, about ten minutes from the house.  We parked across the street for free in a friend's commercial lot.  The sheer magnitude of the convenience was off the hook.  Our seats were pretty good too.

Bleacher bucket seats.  Front row.  Right smack dab in the middle of the auditorium, right behind the sound board and about eighty feet from the stage.  The sound was awesome.


We saw Crosby and Nash in the same auditorium a few years back.   We were in, like, the fourth row.  We could see the color of their corneas.  Crosby was wearing contacts.  Those front row seats were great for Crosby and Nash.  But I kinda figured the Furs would attract more of a rowdy on your feet kinda crowd.  I wanted to be able to rock freely but also be able to sit and still see when necessary.  I mean, at 63, our mosh pit days are definitely over.

The isles and stage were eventually rushed about midway through their set, my concern was substantiated.  We rocked on completely unfettered.

Richard Butler, the lead singer, besides making all the notes shine, was magnanimous and gracious.  He was all over the stage, shaking hands and playing to every nook in the cranny as he sang.   His brother, the guitarist and the midget on sax were also quite generous with their antics.

The drummer and Girl George pretty much stayed in place.  I mean, can you imagine how hard it would be to lug a drum set around the stage?

The Furs ran through a litany of hits and had the joint jumping   My lovely wife may have just turned 63, but that girl can still rock and roll like she did in her 20's.

Next up on our summer hit parade was at a larger venue about forty miles away at the Toyota Amphitheater in Wheatland.

My lovely wife bought me pre birthday tickets to see Fitz and the Tantrums.  Fitz and the who what?  Yeah, they are an American indie pop band from LA that formed in 2008.  Another KFOG turn on, these guys (and incredibly sexy girl) put on one hell of a high energy show.  You can check them out right here: Out of My League.

The Toyota Amphitheater, while located in the middle of absolutely no freaking where is a very nice 18,500 seat venue.  It was constructed by Bill Graham Presents in 2000 and it was based on the model of Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.

We arrived about an hour before the show and had no trouble getting a decent free parking spot.  You can pay twenty bucks for preferred parking, but I don't think you'd ever get out after the show.  With one four lane road coming in from the south and the same from the north, the traffic out after a show there is legendarily fucked.  Typically it takes an hour or so just to get five miles to a freeway.  And then your forty to ninety mile ride home.  Because remember, this venue is in  the  middle  of   NO    where.

I was a bit concerned about this before we even left for the show.  Hell, at our age we're lucky enough to still be awake at the end of a show let alone having to deal with a two hour journey home afterward.  Might as well just sleep over in a motel.  Oh yeah.  This venue is in the middle of freaking no where and is MILES from any over night accommodations.  Might as well just book a room in Kansas.  Or just sleep in the car.

The security lines were quick and friendly, and I was completely amazed at all the concessions that were available.  There was one souvenir booth, three food booths and about three hundred forty-seven booze booths.  One right next to another.  It looked like Bourbon Street in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.  And the drinks did not come cheap.

My lovely wife had a twenty dollar double Margarita (made with real Patron tequila) and I had a six dollar Arnold Palmer (made with real Lipton tea.)

The booze was a lot cheaper at those Days on the Green.  Besides the fact they were forty some years ago and booze was a hell of a lot cheaper, they also did not sell booze at rock shows.  Ever.  I guess they figured most everyone was frying on psychedelics and didn't need any alcohol.    I guess they finally figured out folks could do both.  We'd always bring our mix own in.  Along with the acid.  And copious amounts of weed. 

What can I say?  It was the seventies and we were young.

Since cans and bottles were not allowed, we'd fuel inject a watermelon with vodka.  Then we'd make a dozen or more Harvey Wallbanger oranges, shooting up each orange with a shot of vodka, a shot of Galliano and a half shot of Grenadine syrup.   At least we were healthy drunks.  And nobody ever confiscated our fruit!

At the current venue my lovely wife and I shared a fifteen dollar tri-tip sandwich, and then had some form of Asian taco for another fifteen bucks.  I know, Asian and taco usually don't go together in the same sentence.  It's like Ravioli Foo Yung. But they did that night and they were actually quite good.

And as we sat dining on a lovely, shady piece of lawn, I began to notice my lovely wife and I were close to being the oldest people at the show.  There were lots of kids in their teens and quite a few thirty and forty something adults chaperoning those kids. 

It was definitely NOT the same sort of crowd that attended those Days on the Green or Winterland shows.  I was really hard pressed to see any kind of puffing of any kind of sort going on anywhere.  And no one, not nobody, was freaking out on psychedelics.

I brought my handy dandy very discreet vape pen.  It got me by on the streets of London, I figured it would get me by at an apparent almost teeny bop rock show.  Hell, back at those Days on the Green my compadres and I would always bring a stash of ten to sixty joints.  Pre-rolled, ready to go.  Besides the acid.  Or mushrooms.  Or mescaline.  And every one around us was toking and tripping too.  It was glorious.

This time around I had to pretend to be a responsible adult, taking very discreet, casual, puffs at opportune moments.  Good thing I had my sunglasses on.

Being about the only sixty somethings in the crowd reminded me of the time my lovely wife and I went to see Stevie Wonder at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.  We were, quite possibly, the only two white people in the room.  Out of about twelve thousand.  It was a fabulous show.

Turns out Fitz was number two on the bill, some group (I had never heard of) named OneRepublic was headlining.  And some way too loud douche bag named James Arthur opened.  I don't know what he was trying to over compensate for, but he was almost making our ears bleed.  And we've been to some loud shows. 

He's got a couple catchy songs getting air play, but he was really loud.  My lovely wife went off and got some ear plugs from first aid.  They helped immensely with his set, they weren't necessary for Fitz or OneRepublic.

Our seats were almost as fabulous as the Fur seats were.  Second row center behind the sound board.  The sound was great as were the visuals.  Until the tall guy with the big head in a baseball cap sat down in front of me. 

I was never that tall, even at my zenith, and now I am shrinking.   I was once 5' 8", and now I'm something like 5'61/2''.  Something like discs compacting.  Or arthritis.  Just Gettin Old.

Or maybe I've been jumping up and down at too many rock shows.

I took a measurement.  The top of my shoulders were about even with the top of the chair back.  And I wasn't even slouching.  The top of the jolly green giant's shoulders were about eight inches above the top of his chair back.  Same chairs.  Same back.  And then there was his jolly big head.  The size of a basketball.  How does a short guy deal with that?

It reminded me of the time I went to a reggae show at The Wilturn Theater in LA.  We had great fourth or fifth row seats until a guy with an afro the size of Mars sat down in front of my friend's partner.  There was no way to see around that, and there was no way to see above Lurch.   I had to continually lean from side to side for a visual.

They should make a rule that if you're over six feet tall you're not allowed in the first few rows.  Anywhere.  For anything.  The same should be said for those crew cab pick-ups with the massive trailer hitch on the back.  They only get to park in the back two rows where they can considerately take up the two spaces they actually need so they don't stick four feet out into the driving space.

Fitz was marvelous.  Noelle incredible.  They were toe tapping upbeat and flawless.  Fabulous flowing vocals as well as great harmony and chemistry between the two.  And then there was another short guy on sax, a bass guitar, drummer and keyboard.  No guitar.  How about that?

Fitz, Noelle and the midget were also quite generous with their antics.  All over the stage, both singers were moving and dancing throughout the entire set.  They were also quite gracious, thanking the crowd for helping them live their dreams.    

I have to say, most every one there came to see OneRepublic.  The young eighteen year old girl sitting next to me had never heard of Fitz.  She was totally there to see OneRepublic

It was her fifth rock show.  It was somewhere in the one hundreds for us.  I mean, we are in our 60's and have been rocking for over forty years.  She was incredulous when I said my lovely wife and I used to go to shows in the 70's on acid.

One Republic was very professional.  They are an American pop rock band formed in Colorado in 2002 by lead vocalist Ryan Tedder and guitarist Zach Filkins.  Tedder was all over the stage, working the crowd.  And most of the crowd knew every word of every song. 

I hadn't even heard of one of the songs.

I know they have scads of hits, and I have heard a couple of them here and there.  But we left after the sixth song, they all sorta sounded the same to me.  We didn't quite get it, besides we wanted to be sure we wouldn't have to spend the night in the car.

Fortunately, everyone was still inside singing along to tunes I didn't understand when we made our escape.  I'm very glad we left when we did.  There were scads of kids in bright orange vests waving flashlights like they were 4th of July sparklers.  If there were more than one car converging someone was probably going to die.  I think they thought they were directing traffic.

Speaking of Traffic, next up on the Summer of Rock tour was Steve Winwood at the Fox Theater in Oakland.


Now I know what you may be thinking.  Why the heck didn't we go see him in Reno?  It's a lot closer and we could get room service.

Good thought, but my father/daughter date was way overdue.  As a matter of fact, our last date was a Giant/Dodger game in 2015.  Or was it 2014?  See how derelict I can get?

And since she lives in Oakland I though I'd check out what was happening at the Fox Theater.  And Winwood was.  On September 6th.

I asked her if she'd like to go see a rock legend for our date this year.

She said, "Sure".

I asked, "How does Steve Winwood sound?"

And she replied, "Ooh, wasn't he with the Eagles?"

I blame myself.  Apparently I skipped the Winwood lessons.  Oh well.  Better late than never.

She has seen a couple other legends on her own, like Trent Reznor and David Bowie.  I am also happy to say we saw the Dead together while Jerry Garcia was still alive.  So there's another one.  And then both the kids first show was Fleetwood Mac, unfortunately after the pop duo had joined.  But they did get to see Fleetwood and Mac, along with Christine McVie.  And I suppose the pop duo of Buckingham/Nicks is almost legendary, but not to me and I am digressing.

The Fox Theater is a lovely, 3,000 seat venue.  Beautiful inside, the sound is also quite good.  I splurged on tickets, we were front row in the balcony, just off from center.  No big heads this time.  Once again I figured the front rows of the main floor would get a little rowdy, they did.

Especially when he launched into "Light Up or Leave Me Alone."  As a matter of fact, the first few rows, which already harbored a number of dancing patrons, got real lively.  The air in the auditorium also got quite lively with that old rock concert standard, marijuana.

Ahhhhhhh, I was back in familiar territory.

The crowd apparently did not want to leave him alone, so quite a few lit up.  Including us.

The show opened with Lily Winwood, Steve's daughter.  A blossoming folk artist, she is touring in support of her first CD.  I'm pretty sure that's why Steve is touring too.  In support of her first CD.

She has a lovely voice and is an accomplished guitarist.  Midway through her short set she asked if every one was ready to rock and roll.  After a resounding cheer from the audience she then said she had a few more sad folk songs to sing first.

The girl has a sense of humor too.

The Winwood set on stage was small and compact.  They were using about a third of the stage.  In contrast to the last show with Fitz and One Republic.  Who used up the entire stage.  The difference being one was a rock show and the other a rock concert.  More familiar territory.


Steve didn't disappoint.  He also didn't need to dance around.  His music spoke for itself.  He's primarily known for his work on the Hammond organ, but he is also quite an accomplished lead guitarist.  He also had this other guy on guitar named Jose Neto

Wow.  Just wow.  A tall, thin guy, Jose was attired like some sort of a wino derelict in casual sweat pants, baggy shirt and stocking cap.  But when he began to play you knew.  Both his hands sashayed all over the face of his guitar like two wild rabbits playing tag in a field of daffodils.


There was another guy that was an all round utility musician.  Sax, flute, clarinet, organ.  A handy guy to have on your team.  He was exceptional too.  And then there was a conga drummer and a regular drummer.  No bass.

The "high" points for me were "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys", both singalongs with the mostly greying crowd.  As a matter of fact, we'd gone to another extreme at this show.  My darling daughter, at 37 was probably the youngest person in attendance.

"Dear Mr. Fantasy" also garnered a lot of vocals.  Old folks singing along to tunes they listened to on the sofa during psychedelic exploration.

The band was tight, the music exceptional.  They'd get lost in jams quite a bit, and more than once the conga and drummer probably spent too much time bopping back and forth.

I kinda wish they spent a little less time on their jams and maybe included a couple more hits from the 80's.  While a little bit of a pop slick era for Steve, that decade long catalog has quite a few catchy tunes, like "Valerie", "Arc of a Diver" and "While You See a Chance".   They only played "Higher Love" from the 80's. 

They mostly played tunes from his Blind Faith and Traffic days, with a couple Spencer Davis and a couple jazzy new songs mixed in.  Blind Faith and Traffic?  Tunes from two legendary bands played by the original composer?  Yeah, I can settle for that.

We were just at a local Farm to Fork or Whatever the Fuck event.  It was fun.  Good food too.  They also had a three piece band in cowboy hats do a very rudimentary version of  "Gimme Some Lovin."

Winwood played it much better.

That pretty much concludes our Summer of Rock.  Since it's almost fall.  Thank goodness.  it got hot here this year.  We do have a date with Garrison Keillor in October at the GV Vets.  My lovely wife's Valentine's present.  Some folks might think that's more our speed, but we still do it all.

Homestead Update: The new rooster in the hen house, Bruce, appears to be acclimating nicely.  He's already trying to jump on a few of the hens and is garnering a surrounding harem when he perches up for the night.  It must be good to be king.





Friday, August 25, 2017

Ding Dong the Rooster's Dead

Well, it had to happen, eventually.  The impetus for this blog, which eventually led to the completion of my first book, "Late Night Letters to the Moon" has passed on to that great Cock a Doodle Do in the sky.

How do I feel about that?  A little bittersweet.  He was, as I said above, a motivating factor in my life.  But then he was also a great big massively huge fat pain in the ass.  A beautiful bird, but a pain in the ass.

Goldie was five and a half years old.  The average life span for a rooster is five to eight years.  Some live longer, some less.  He's right in there, and he's damn lucky he lived to see his first birthday.

This last winter when it got wet he started this weird high stepping walk.  It was like his feet were bothered by the wet ground.  So he'd lift them high and then put them down ever so slowly.  Hinky jerky like.  I thought it could be arthritis, but never pursued it.  The fact that he was not walking well meant he was not threatening me.  When things dried up his walk went back to normal and he started attacking again. 

Fucker.

Then a couple months ago he seemed to slow down a bit and started this really loud, obnoxious squawk.  Only, apparently, for me.  Nobody else, just lucky ol' me. 

As soon as I'd get in their yard he'd start, "Squaaaaaaaaaaawk squawk squawk squawk squawk".

"SQUAAAAAAAAAAAWK squawk squawk squawk squawk."

"SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWK..."

See how annoying that is?  And it'd get longer and louder, just like above.  Only you have no idea how freaking loud it was.  That squawk could drown out the Foo Fighters.  But his music would make my skin crawl.  I prayed he'd get well, shut up and start attacking me again.  That would have been a relief.  Fingernails on a chalk board sound like Braham's Symphony No. 4 in E Minor compared to that squawking feathered banshee from hell.  

Then about three days before he died I noticed he wasn't perching up with the hens.  He was inside the cage but stayed below on the ground.  Apparently he could not make the leap.  But he showed no overt signs of distress.  And if he did, I doubt I would have tried to fix him.  I'm sure I would have just shot him instead.

Nature took care of his sorry ass.  I went up a week or so ago in the early afternoon to fill their puddle and give them their corncicles when I noticed him down.  And gone.  Still limp and warm, so I'm thinking I might have missed him by mere minutes.

My first impulse was a pang of sorrow.  And then I started dancing a jig.  He was a constant source of agitation for me.  I put up with him for years because the hens seemed to like him.  I don't know why.  He had to be a rough, lousy lay.  He'd jump on their back for three seconds and was done.  In his prime he was doing two to three hens an hour.

But they'd preen him and tussle a bit to get in the prime perch spots around him at night.  He also engaged in a couple predator attacks with a hawk and bobcat.  So he was protective of his girls.

But for roughly 4,015 visits to their domain over the last five and a half years I always had to be on guard.  I'd kick him back six feet and he'd charge for more.  I couldn't turn my back on him or he'd be on me in seconds.  He pecked my lovely wife numerous times as well as our darling granddaughter once.

He almost got his neck rung on that one, but I let him ride.  My lovely wife and I even hand held and nursed him back to health a couple years back.  Did that stop his antagonistic attacks?  Hell no.  He was back at it as soon as he was able.

I have learned this though.  It's a waste of time to try and reason with a rooster.  They may appear to be listening, but even if they are, they don't care.  At all.  It's like trying to teach a pig to sing.  Wastes your time and annoys the pig.

When he started his squawk thing I threatened to cut off his head numerous times.  But then some peaceful easy feeling would float gingerly through my cranium and I'd let him slide.  Although I did start wearing my wood cutting ear muffs.  Yet even those did not totally drown out that ungodly noise.

I buried him up on the hill with our three cats, Tom, Joe and Sammie.  I gave him that respect.  I felt like squirting lighter fluid on him and dancing around the flames like a Chippewa, but it's fire season. I didn't want to burn down the neighborhood just to get my ya ya's out.  Now if it was the middle of winter...

The flock actually seems to be flowing a little easier now that he's gone.  Even they seem to feel less agitation.  Or maybe it's just me.  Nah.  A couple of them were starting to peck at his dead head when I arrived on the scene.  Respect for your rooster apparently only lasts a very short while after death in poultry culture.  Or their memory only lasts about a second. 

"Damn rooster.  Wish he'd get off me."

"Oh look.  Dinner!"

I wonder if those thoughts ever ran through the mind of one or two members of the Donner Party?

"Damn Henry.  Wish he'd get off me.  I'm so hungry."

"Oh yum, Henry's got some mighty tasty thighs."

It was quite a bit quieter around the old homestead for a while.  I actually took a leak in the middle of the night and didn't even activate a rooster.  That bird had some ears.  I could go in the furthest bathroom, at least a hundred feet and several walls from his perch, not turn on a light and he would still hear me tinkling and crow.

He was also a pretty good "watch" rooster before we put up the gate.  He'd always make an announcement when a vehicle arrived.  He was usually quite protective of his flock and took quite an exception to the human male.  He wasn't especially nice to women, but he was a rabid monster to men.  Our son hated him.

How do I really feel about the rooster leaving the henhouse?

I think our son said it best in response to the text I sent informing the family of the rooster's demise, "Damn sorry.  Fuck him though.  LOL."

Well, the henhouse was without a rooster for about a week.  I mean, we do have that Bruce Jenner or whatever the hell bird but he still hasn't come out of the closet.  In the meantime, meet Gorgeous Bruce, the newest addition to the flock.


A friend with a large flock waaay out in the country took in this fabulous fellow from someone who could not harbor him.  But he wasn't fitting in with a wild country flock and appeared to be a bit more domesticated.  To the point where he would invite himself in the house whenever the opportunity arose.  Fearing for the rooster's safety and not wanting a rooster pooping on his mantle, Bruce came home with me.

Bruce is a gorgeous, adolescent Rhode Island Red, and so far not a threat of any kind.  As a matter of fact, he has been picked on by many of our hens, including the youngest.  He was in the companion cage for a few days, but one morning flew that coop and then initially spent most of his time hiding out in the henhouse.

But he' slowly venturing out now, and I think the natural order of things will eventually fall into place.  He's already established his morning vocal duty, a pretty clear "Cock a doodle do" has been greeting us at dawn for about a week.  

My lovely twin sister-in-law had her best night's sleep here during a visit while we were cock-a-doodle-do-less.  I fear that will be no more.  There's a new rooster in the hen house.