2021

Endless Salad & A Kitty at Olive Garden

We assembled at the Olive Garden to celebrate Colton’s birthday. He’s our daughter Abbie’s boyfriend, a hard worker and good guy. Since it was his birthday, he got to choose the restaurant, so the Olive Garden it was. As we were diving into the famous endless salad, my Beautiful Mystery Companion noticed a tiger-striped kitten outside our window amidst the shrubbery. It was clearly a stray, a tiny thing with big ears and white-mitten paws. She gave me that look. Oh boy, I thought. Here we go. Another rescue animal in her sights. Sure enough, after the leftovers were packed and the bill...

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Getting Past the Dog Days

The first day of autumn arrives on Sept. 22, just a dozen days from now. In East Texas, that doesn’t mean much, since temperatures still hover in the 90s and will continue to do so for days ahead, according to the weather app on my phone. The dog days linger, while we search for a sign – any sign – of a break in the heat. It does feel a bit cooler in the morning lately, perhaps a harbinger of autumn. Our daughter Abbie for the second year decorated her apartment with fall-themed items in late August, in the vain hope this would spur up arrival of the actual season. It hasn’t worked yet,...

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Hogs Going Wild on Our Farm

The damage in our front yard was immediately apparent Monday morning: several yards of grass trampled and rooted through, leaving a mess. It was along the drainage ditch by the driveway, which is still too wet to mow. I’m beginning to think there is a spring that has sprung back to life because of the spring rains. At first, I thought the damage was caused by armadillos, but it was too much. I had just mowed the previous afternoon, so I knew the damage was fresh. Feral hogs apparently weren’t content to hang out in the woods near Glade and Wicher creeks, which run through the south and east...

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Maybe Tonight, I’ll See the Barred Owl

I have yet to see the barred owl that lives in the woods behind the barn/shop. Not a barn owl, but a barred owl. My Beautiful Mystery Companion has seen the owl twice and says it has an impressive wingspan. The other night, while I was working in the library, she said the barred owl perched for several minutes on the roof of the shop, perusing the terrain below for dinner: field mice, snakes, small dogs… That is why at night when we let our two small dogs out — Rosie and Mollie — we stay outside there with them, even with the backyard newly fenced. Rosie weighs about 15 pounds, Mollie...

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Taking Pleasure in Arranging Books

Despite giving away more than two dozen bank boxes of books to daughter Mere and the Estes Library at LeTourneau University, where I began working in person again this week, the collection I kept filled all the shelves in the new home, as well as the bookcases we brought here. As I said previously, building a barrister bookcase remains high on the woodworking to-do list. Buying books is a habit I do not intend to break. Putting up books is always a pleasure, this ritual of renewing acquaintances with old friends. I took my time, trying to better organize them, keeping multiple books by authors...

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Learning to Acquire Patience

Acquiring patience has been a lifelong struggle. One reason I took up woodworking was to learn patience. One cannot get in a hurry building furniture without messing up or losing a finger. However, it’s been a decade since I have had the space to actually build stuff and haven’t really needed to do so. Now I have a dream shop on our country place. It’s huge, insulated and far enough from our only neighbor to run power tools, such as my planer, without disturbing anyone. And I have several projects in mind for our House on A Hill — a toy box for Molly the Maltese; a barrister bookcase to house...

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Burn Pile a Necessity in the Country

We have a burn pile at the new place out in the country, left by the previous owner. Actually, we have two burn piles, which is one more than necessary. I mowed a tight circle around the grass at the burn pile closest to the shop’s outside spigot, then thoroughly watered that grass so the burn pile would not turn into a raging grass fire. I don’t really want to get acquainted in that manner with the volunteer fire department. Actually, I haven’t figured out who provides fire service out here north of town. Probably need to do that. I was burning boxes not fit to save for another move....

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Adventures in Country Mowing

Our move into the country was completed last Friday. Unpacking and arranging will take a while, likely weeks, to get everything in its proper place, pictures hung, etc. The first order of business on Saturday was mowing the approximately five acres of Bahia grass that surrounds our house and back toward the woods. A zero-turn mower was delivered on Friday, a 54-inch Bad Boy. Yup, that’s the name of it. It fits. A zero-turn mower, often used by yard-maintenance crews, doesn’t have a steering wheel. Instead it has two levers to operate with your hands to go forward, backward and turn. It takes...

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The Hobby Farmer Adventure Begins

It is moving day. Actually, it has been moving day for a few weeks, but by the time you read this (fingers tightly crossed), we should be beginning the process of unpacking and getting used to our new abode, a few miles north of Longview, on 57 acres. The tract is mainly hardwood timber, but there is plenty of grass to mow. The grass will eventually provide sustenance to a hobby farm’s worth of critters. We might even buy a buffalo, because, well, we like looking at them. No horses, though. I still recall what a North Texas horse breeder told us while giving a tour of beautiful, high-dollar horse...

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Music Keeps Me Together

Two of our favorite musicians headlined benefit events in the past few weeks, to which my Beautiful Mystery Companion kindly bought tickets as part of our 10-year wedding anniversary celebration, which we stretched into a month of fun. First, we saw Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris perform at Café Momentum in downtown Dallas. Gauthier (pronounced Go-Shay) has long been one of my favorite singer-songwriters with soulful lyrics and a distinctive voice. Harris is a fresh face, originally from Waco, who opened and then played lead guitar and sang backup while Gauthier performed her set. Before the show...

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