Monday, December 31, 2012

Spending Christmas With Your Family Can Save Your Life

We have a mechanic down the road from us.  D. is one of those guys that can fix anything from a blender to a D-8 Cat. He has worked for years from a little shop he built with the help of friends.

A couple of years ago he and his wife built a lakeside retirement home. They did away with the trailer they had near by and D. moved a little travel tralier in for a place to stay during the week. He would arrive Monday morning and be gone by noon Friday.

We have been having a pretty bad drought the last couple of years and a lot of trees have died. Every time we have high winds we lose a few more dead branches. A really big wind storm can knock down dead trees.

Where am I going with this, you might asked? Just a reminder that spending Christmas Eve and or Christmas day with your family can save your life.

That tree is on top of what used to be the bedroom.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing one and all a Merry Christmas

The Mayans Got It Right In A Small Way

I never really worried about the Mayan Apocalypse.  When December 22 arrived it wasn't a surprise to us here at HomePlace.  It wasn't until we went out Saturday we discovered not everyone had made the trip.

Seven years ago my granddaughter and I found a special of straight run bandy chicks. We came home with twenty five of the little fuzz balls.

Bandys are very creative and these proved to be accomplished escape artist. In time they had established themselves as free rangers. The problem with free range birds is that their numbers tend to dwindle. By the end of the second year the only survivor was Antonio Banty-Deras (named by my wife).

Antonio defined the word feisty. For the next five years he dodged all dangers, and courted all chicken women in their pens. The full sized roosters that occasionally escaped could never catch him. The Dogs and porch cats were led a merry chase. Even the grandkids couldn't trap him. You could tell by watching he was having a ball.

Helene found him the morning of the 22, the victim of a raccoon or Owl. For him, the Mayans got it right. Antonio would have been pleased they went to all that trouble.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Time to get myself into trouble

It has been too long since I posted here. Again, no excuses. I have been wondering how I was going to get back into the fray.  How about by getting in trouble with half the folks out there.

Like everyone else I was horrified by the shootings at Sandy Hook. I am not alone in acknowledging there isn't a gun law in the world that would have prevented this tragedy. This 'person' broke a bag full of laws to do what he did, and they didn't accomplish a thing.

There is a basic problem with the approach society currently takes.  When most people see a sign that says GUN FREE ZONE they think "I can't take a gun in here". That includes me. When monsters like the 'person' at Sandy Hook see these signs then think, "SAFE HUNTING GROUND".

Assist. Principal Myrick didn't like this situation. His actions, that probably got him fired in liberal happy day and age, prevented one such tragedy.

I think we can prevent a lot more!

Just about every school in the country has on it's staff and faculty former police and military with weapons training. Many of them would be more than willing to keep weapons in a safely secured location in their class room. The students need not know the weapons are there, unless...

We already have teachers willingly sacrificing their lives to defend their students. Why don't we give them the means to save their lives as well?

I imagine if this were to happen some schools would allow the staff to be armed, and others would not.

Which schools do you think the monsters would pick. I know which schools I want my grandchildren in.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Hate Cathaeters

I hate cathaeters!
I understand what they do.
I understand why they are important in the type of surgery I had.
Perhaps having one for a couple of days wouldn't be too bad.
Having one for fifteen days
If you have never had a cathaeter
Hit the prayer bones and give thanks.
I have worked out the hours until this thing will be romoved on October 30th.
After I publish this I will work out the minutes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More Fun and Games with the Electric Company

More Fun and Games with the Electric Company

            Sunday afternoon the power went down.  Here we go again.

            Living where we do, Helene and I make a point of keeping a phone that doesn’t need a power unit.  I called the electric company to report the outage and was told according to their records (by recording of course) that the power had been out since 9:40 PM and they expected power to be restored by 6:00 PM.  They added that for more information I should go to their website, less call it w.cluesess.

            Helene and I were still discussing the electric company thinking the power had been out since the night before when the phone rang and it was my buddy, the electric company recording, telling me that according to their records the power had gone down at 4:21 PM (much better) and that including us 2100 customers were affected.  They still expected power to come back on by 6:00 PM. Once again they ended by saying that for more information I should go to their website, w.cluesess.

Normally I would fire up the generator, but since the surgery I’m not suppose to lift more than ten pounds until further notice.  I’m not sure how resistance on the recoil starter is, but since I have been known to move the 100 pound plus generator pulling it I figured we had best call Matt.

            About twenty minutes later the lights came back on – for all of thirty seconds.  A minute later my friend, the recording was back on the phone telling me that according to their records the power was back on.  If we were still without power I should call them at the following number.  I did so and went through the normal endless menu only to be told there were now some 1800 people without power, and now their records showed us to be among them.  They still estimated we would have power back by 6:00 PM.  Again I was advised that for more information I should go to their website, w.clueless.

            This was repeated at least twice more with the only change being the estimate for the lights coming back on being pushed back to 8:00PM.  Of course we were advised that for more information I should go to their website, w.clueless.

            This was when we made a disappointing discovery.  Usually I switch out the gasoline in the generator every three months.  But combination of drastically reduced income, sky rocketing fuel prices and uncovered surgery cost I haven’t been changing fuel.  This is my bad, but it meant this time around we were actually at the mercy of the electric company.  What a revolting development.

            Then two things happened.  The lights popped on for another thirty second teaser, and my friend the recording called to tell us we were among 1400 people without power, and they were now guessing the lights might be back on by 10:00 PM.  Again, for more information I should go to their website, w.clueless.

            This was the last straw.  I do not worship air-conditioning as much as most, but these days I have surgical incisions healing.  I’m not sure how what effect a night in the sauna we call Central Texas would have on them.  I could also see that Helene was suffering.  For the first time since we came to HomePlace we bugged out due to a lack of air conditioning.

            I will close with a challenge to the fool whispers among my readers.  Do any of you feel up to the challenge of explaining to the electric company – I imagine you can pick one at random- the problem of “for more information go to their website, w.clueless.”


Be prepared to talk slowly and use little words.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Back in May I announced I had Prostate Cancer.  The doctor also said I was too heavy to have surgery to remove the prostate.  That launched me on a diet.  The first one I have ever taken seriously in my life.

As time went on I slipped off the straight and narrow from time to time but made a discovery.  The success of the diet wasn't so much a testiment to the supervised fast I was on as it was an indictment of the way I used to eat.  One piece of fried chicken became a guilty pleasure.  I didn't need four, with two mashed potatoes...and gravy.

By September I has lost sixty five pounds.  The Doctor scheduled me to have a prostatectomy on October 15.  We arrived at the Medical Center at 5:30 AM and got all the paperwork taken care of.  Finally I went in to the little room, changed into the hospital gown and put my fate in the hand of the doctors and God.

The surgery was prefromed as scheduled.  I had a superb team working on me.  I expected great discomfort when I woke up, but that didn't happen.

This was mainly due to the pain meds I know, but they did it right.  Most of Monday was spent drifting in and out of lala land.  I have no memory of many of the folks that came to see me.  Sorry about that folks.  Because of that fuzzy state of affairs I wasn't sure what I had heard from the doctor until he came back on Tuesday to look me over one more time before sending me home.

Something I have not shared here earlier was that I had been told I was not looking at a cure, but a long fight.  Due to the aggressive nature of my cancer, and the size of the mass that appeared on the sonogram it was probably not contained in the prostate.  This was going to be round one.

Fine - bring it on!

But the report from the doctor was that the female hormone implant (Yes guys, you too can exerience hot flashes!) had done a good job of shrinking the tumor and the prostate.

What I hadn't expected to hear was that there was on sign of the tumor penetrating the prostate wall.  It appeared to be cantained.  The doctor took a number of samples, and found nothing malignant in the ones he had recieved results on.  I don't want to jinx it, but he may have gotten it all.

The doctor is good, and I take nothing away from him.  I also think the prayers, candles, drums and good thoughts from family and friends went a long way toward helping me out here.  I've been like the guy in the fox hole that is wearing a cross, a star of David, Ankh, Turkish moon, and Pentagram.  I'll take all the help I can get.  I want to thank everyone who appealed to the powers that be on my behalf.

I go back in two weeks for the follow up.  I'll let you know what I learn then.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Two Photograpys

I found this on Facebook a couple of days ago. It reminded me of another photograph I had seen a while back.

The W.A.S.P. were one of the great sucess scories of World War Two.  The flew everything - and flew it well.

Imagine if these women, and others like them, had been allowed to keep flying military aircraft in an unbroken chain from this photograph to the first one. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We Did It

This is just a quick note to tell everyone that we made it. What was gathered on the fund raising site, along with what came to us dirrectly from local friends, and our own efforts raised the required funds.

I went to the tax offices of the two counties involved today and got everything paid up to date. In addition to our paperwork I got an extra copy for our "friends" at the bank that I will deliver tomorrow.

Posting this fund raiser was one of the most difficult and embarissing things I have ever done. I am both humbled and graitifed by the response of friends and strangers alike. I want to thank the folks who came forward, and those who helped get the word out.

In happer times have given to such fund raisers. God willing I will again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good By S-10

Good by S-10

It was right around Christmas of 2010. I was finishing up some shopping in Bryan, Texas and getting ready to head home. I pulled the Chevy S-10 out of Sam’s Club and was and was just building speed to enter Hwy. Six when the damn thing died. Being a standard I tried a rolling restart but no go. As speed bled off I timed my entrance to the Cinemark parking lot (thank you dead stick landing drills from another lifetime). If it weren’t for the other vehicles on the road and lights in the parking lot I would have been looking for the UFO.

By eleven that night we determined the truck was not going to be an easy fix and our son came with a trailer to pick the two of us up. That night was the last time the S-10 moved under its own power in almost a year. 2011 was the year of transportation hell. I will spare you details, mostly.

We have always considered our isolation here at HomePlace a great asset. Lack of mobility went a long way toward wreaking our finances. Having to depend on other people for transportation is a losing battle.

Suddenly getting to jobs, getting to meetings, Helene’s substitute teaching assignments, even selling young rabbits at Easter was either difficult or impossible. Few things are more heart breaking than turning down a job because I can’t get to it. Our isolation had become a huge impediment.

Finances got harder and we cut corners, made partial payments and delayed what could be delayed. We made a point of staying up to date on property payments. I will be the first to say getting behind on property taxes is stupid, but went faced with groceries and utilities the delay didn’t seem that bad. We had already worked out a schedule with the taxing entities to get caught up. With only a few years left on the note the bank is latching onto the tax situation for a land grab.

We are beating bushes, already black and blue, to raise the needed funds. Not that a new complication was needed but my prostate cancer (under control) has made it necessary to travel back and forth to the doctor frequently. Our son has lent us a truck until our ford’s engine is rebuilt, but the S-10 has resisted all attempts at repair. The two times we got it running it lasted less than twenty four hours before going down again.

So the treacherous Chevy is being sacrificed for the cause. We pulled the fuel tank, hauled it up on the trailer, and then removed the tires. The battery wasn’t powering the windows so in order to exit the vehicle once it was on the trailer the driver’s window was broken out.

Yesterday I took it to the crusher and added the funds received to the tax kitty. This is just one of many paths taken to save the property. Another was a difficult choice, requesting assistance through a fund raising site called Indiegogo. I have been surprised and humbled by the response and generosity of both friends, and people we have never met. I am posting a link to that site here;

Followers of this Blog have come to know me after a fashion. Other come here from Face Book and are learning who I am. If you have ever listened to anything I have said, please pay attention now.

I do not want ANYONE to feel obligated to do this.

If this fund raiser strikes a cord with anyone, we would be grateful for whatever you felt like sending. If you would rather not, please don’t.

We will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I have a mental image of some guy that has been beat with-in an inch of his life rushing up to this sigh with a ladder.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Got Hacked

A few days ago James at hellinahandbasket got hacked. Luckly he got everything back up the next day.

Today it was my tern, only this time it was my facebook acount. I got a call from my adopted sister about an hour ago scolding me for upseting a another friend. Evidently the third party got an IM from "me" asking for a loan and "I" didn't react well to being refused.

When Charlie (my adopted sister - long story) told me I had sent the message earlier tonight I knew I had been hacked. My last message had been sometime on Tuesday.

So, I think this is restricted to facebook - but maybe not. I have a favor to ask.

If any of you get a message from me asking to borrow money, suggesting we join the French Foreign Legion or challenging you to a duel check with me before you send your second to HomePlace to discuss terms please.

I would be grateful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Eye Protection

A few days ago I recieved the following E-Mail from Paul at Lucky Gunner:

Hey Art
Andrew & I tested both cheap and expensive ballistic eye protection,
"box-o-truth" style, to see how well they stand up to hardcore damage.

Many sryofoam heads later, we learn't that older lenses are much more
easily broken (probably because of exposure to UV light), and cheap eyepro is
cheap for a reason!

Because of these tests, I have decided to upgrade the cheap eyewear I carry
in my range bag for guests.

If you think your readers would find this interesting, perhaps you could
share it on your blog.

Kind regards,

It certainly makes me think twice about the eye protection my guest and I have been using here at HomePlace. I believe you will find this well worth checking out.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

English .65 Double Barreled Flint Lock Handgun

.One of the joys of the Internet (for me anyway) is a weekly E-mail from INTERNATIONAL MILITARY ANTIQUES listing wonderful specials I usually can't afford but love to look at. I think of it as a weekly visit to a museum. Personally I think there is an advantage to IMA's website. At the museum you look at the objects behind glass. You have no way to turn it this way and that to look for details.

IMA gives us eighteen beautiful, large images of this icon exposing loads of detail.

Perhap it isn't as good as actually holding the weapon, but how often will a museum let you do that?

OK, some of the smaller museums...maybe.

This week one of the offered items was, as the title suggest, an English .65 Calibur Double Barreled Flintlock Handgun.

The barrels are about nine and a half inches long.

The weapons over-all length is fifteen and a half inches.

The weight isn't listed, but one look and you know it isn't going to be light.

As ono of my old friend used to say, if it wasn't love at first sight it was very serious lust.

This beauty would have been a personal purchase item for a British Officer. They were built in the Napolenic Wars and saw service for some years after.

The maker was Durs Egg of London.

I confess to a second reason for being so fascinated by this weapon.

Of late I have been re-reading S.M. Stirling's Nantucket series.

I can't help wondering if Mr. Sterling had seen one of these before writing, or while researching the books.

You can bet Marian had.

If anyone is interested, it's available. I don't recall the exact price, but it was between $14,000.00 and $15,000.00. I won't be inquiring about it at this time.

Should International Miltary Antiques object to me using these photos let me know and I will take them down at once.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strange Bed Fellows

Apologies for my absents of late friends and neighbors. I won't bore you with excuses, I have been a touch preoccupied. An incident occured a few minutes ago that got my heart racing. Once I calmed down a bit the thoght came to me "This would be an interesting blog." So here it is.

Being a plesant Texas day of not terribly over 100 degrees I became restless and could think of nothing that would be more relaxing than shooting holes in something. Running down the list of hole punching aids I thought of my trusty Colt 1917 revolver.

This loyal companion currently spends most of it's time under my pillow where it is readly to hand in the evenings should the need arise. Before any of you say anything, there are no children of any age allowed in our bedroom, so no lectures about gun safes and trigger locks please. But I digress.

I walked down to the bedroom to fetch the colt for our outing. Most of the time I would simply run my hand under the pillow to get it. I am SO glad I didn't this time and picked up the pillow instead.

The main difference between this photograph and real life is that the scorpion was under it, right in the path my hand would traveled to get to the revolver. Here's a better look.

This boy and girls is the Bark Scorpion, a well known villian in these parts. I have lived in the West and South West all my life and have encountered these guys on a regular basis. I never got stung until we came here to HomePlace. My poor, long suffering Helene has been stung twice.


In this case the villian was dispatched by the enthusiastic, adrenaline driven application of another battle tested weapon, the house shoe.

Helene frowns on me shooting anything on our bed. By the time I was finished the vile creature was an unrecognisable stain on the sheet, which is now in the washing machine. I'll go shooting once I get it into the dryer.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remember and Treasure

This post is unforgivably late. Several thing that demanded my attention bottle necked and chose today to do it.
We set aside this day to remember our fallen Military Hero's be they family, friends or strangers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. When we think of those who went before us it's impossible to not include others who never wore a uniform. I don't think the service men and women mind that we honor all of our fallen at the same time.
One way I chose to spend the day is to treasure the loved ones still with us. Make sure the children know the stories of generations before them. Remember family is more than blood.
Most of all don't assume those here today will still be here the next time you want to see them. All too often they are not. Don't be lulled into believing age has anything to do with the time a person has left. I wish it were that simple. We all have things we have been intending to say to loved ones be it a child, friend, parent or wife.
The only time you're sure you have is now.

Friday, May 25, 2012

One for the Money DVD

Last week the DVD of One for the Money was released. Helene and I got our copy a couple of days ago. Finding a time to watch it was no problem. TV offerings of late have been sad at best.

Even if you saw the movie in the theater and weren’t planning to get the DVD, at least rent one and check it out. Quite a bit of footage has been edited into the DVD that, we at least, didn’t see at multiplex in January. It felt like a different movie.

For years theaters and theater chains have edited down films for a number of reasons. Usually, it’s to be able to get in an extra showing in a day to increase revenue. The most extreme case of this that comes to mind is the war epic MIDWAY that was released in the 1970’s. It felt ‘choppy’ when I first saw it at the theater in Amarillo. When HBO ran the film a year later I found out why. The movie site claims only 33 minutes were added to the film but it felt much longer. The entire Battle of Coral Sea was taken out. Should you ever get a chance to see the entire film it will make much more sense.

What happened to One for the Money didn’t feel that extreme. At the theater in College Station, Texas it was listed as running one hundred and six minutes. The DVD runs ninety one minutes. I’m guessing that means they took out around twenty minutes to get in all the between the film fillers, commercials by any other name. The slightly longer scenes and little extras in the DVD give the film a much more polished feel. It’s a pity we couldn’t have seen this version on the big screen.

Sadly, this movie didn’t set the theater world on fire. Realistically I don’t think having this version on the big screen would have made any difference. I loved the film, as did my wife and all of the Plum fans we have talked too, but for whatever reason OFTM just didn’t grab the public. I think it will live on forever as a cult classic, like FIREFLY, but I will be surprised if there are any more Stephanie Plum movies. Pleasantly to be sure, but surprised.

I really hope I’m wrong.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday At Camp Hearn POW Camp

This Saturday (05/19/2012) Helene and I spent a very pleasant day at the Camp Hearn POW Camp Museum open house. An Amateur Radio Club from College Station had come out with a portable Antenna and radios. In the course of the day they talked to other Ham Radio Operators all over the world.

The Museum is in a newly constructed barracks building of the type that housed German POW’s during World War Two. Helene and I were in the first room of the museum with a display of firearms that would have been used in and around the camp by the American Guards. Another gentleman brought a World War Two Jeep that delighted the crowd. In addition to answering questions about the guns I also shared stories about the Second World War, both the war it’s self and the home front.

One of the highlights of the day was an address given by former POW, Mr. Heino Erichson. Mr. Erichson was a serving with the Africa Corps when captured by British Forces. Due to overcrowding in British Camps he was send to the United States. After a short time in Camp Hearn he ended the war in a POW Camp in Kentucky.

If you find yourself anywhere near Hearn, Texas you might consider stopping at the Camp Hearn POW Camp Museum. Its well worth your time to stop and explore a part of history seldom covered in the detail it deserves. They are open Wednesday thru Saturday 11:00AMto 4:00PM.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I remember watching monster movies as a kid. King Kong and Godzilla didn’t scare me that much. They were sixty feet tall for crying out loud! You could see them coming for miles. I figured anyone they caught had it coming.

Vampires and Werewolves scared the hell out of me. They could hide under my bed or in my closet. That didn’t keep me out of the movies (still doesn’t) but I paid for it.

What’s with this business about Vampires having to be invited into your house? Once they are, you can’t keep them out. Then I saw an old movie when I was a kid in Nevada where a vampire looked down a door mat that said "Welcome" and replied "Thank you" and went in. I don't think my Mother ever knew why our door mats that said welcome either disappeared or got something spilled on them.

Those monsters were scary, but they were fun. Other monsters are not. I do what I can to guard against home invaders and have shown folks how they can protect themselves against stalkers. Regardless how well you prepare bad things still happen.

There are other monsters, one that has haunted me since I was old enough to grasp its existence. This one puts Godzilla, and Vampires, and even home invaders to shame.

Cancer is the monster that hides inside me. I had known of it even as a child, but it was something terrible that happened to someone else. There are different kinds of cancer. In my twenties I watched a friend in his thirties get eaten alive with it in a matter of months.

A few years ago I sat in a hospital room and watched my Mother die by inches. Her last week she was gone, but the body was still breathing. I held her hand, looked into sightless eyes, and remembered the woman she had been.

Not long ago I got the news myself. It was all I could do not to go screaming into the woods when the doctor told me I was positive for prostate cancer. The good news (and trust me friends and neighbors – that was a hard sell) is that prostate cancer is very slow moving. I now realize that rather than months I still have years even if it goes untreated. I will assure you all now I have not wasted any time with my doctor even discussing not seeking treatment.

The doctor assures me we caught it early enough for treatment. He says I’m young (nice to know someone considers 59 young) and in reasonably good health. We discussed options.

To me, the only realistic option is surgery, but the doctor assures me I am too fat to survive it at the moment. I guess he knows what he’s talking about.

So…I am now on the Nutrimed diet system. This is more a supervised fast than a diet. My regular doctor assures me it’s better than starvation. I’ll get back to you on that. The most telling aspect of the situation, for folks who have known me, is that I haven’t been tempted to cheat – even once.

I don’t plan to make this blog a place to whine about my problems, but there will be a new topic heading that deals with my new battle from time to time.

I promise the next post will be much more fun and interesting.