Friday, November 24, 2017

On Thanks...

Green salad, double-smoked ham, and Abuela Foster's mac 'n cheese.  A half-finger of Knob Creek Rye, to remember all those who have served, are serving, or never made it home.  For their sacrifices, I am thankful.

For family, those at home, and those living far away...
 Los Tres Amigos!  

For know who you are, and you are like unto family to me.
The tree, the symbol of a promise of long ago, and the promise yet to come.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Beauty in the midst of fall

If my slow internet connection would ever get around to sending the individual pics to my laptop email, I could load the pictures here... aargh!

This is a Beautyberry bush.  Apparently you can make a drink akin to lemonade from the berries.  They are rather astringent if you just chew one up.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The best laid plans...

The plan had been to have some fun with our bonfire yesterday.  However, evil reared its ugly head yesterday, in Sutherland Springs TX, and put a damper on everyone's mood.  Oh, we still lit the fire, we needed to burn the scrap wood off, but we cooked no potatoes, the kids went in early, DH didn't stay long either, so I ended up sitting in a camp chair, watching it burn down low.  Just to be safe...

It became a thoughtful time, out there in the dark, with only the fire and my thoughts--thoughts on those poor souls murdered during worship, thoughts on how similar both churches in my life are, to that little Baptist rural church, thoughts on the historical significance of Guy Fawkes day, and other such musings.

I have been feeling nudges to do certain things to preserve life, recently.  Things I felt before the awful events of yesterday.  It makes me wonder if God is trying to tell me something...I do try to pay attention to these nudges.  They tend to be important.

I want to be prepared to respond to crises in my life.  Which brings us to the Threat Matrix.  Everyone has one, and everyone's is different, but most folks don't think much about it.   A Threat Matrix is simply you considering the bad stuff that can happen to you in life, and then logically considering its effects on you, and the likelyhood that such a thing will happen.  Then once you have ranked such events, you list out what actions you can take to ameliorate the perceived danger.

For example:  I live in Tornado Alley.  Several significant tornadoes have struck in my area.  I have family I wish to protect. 
What is the threat?  Severe weather (large hail, high winds, tornadoes). 
Is it likely?  I would rate it moderate to highly likely to occur. 
What are the effects of such a storm?  Property loss, injury, loss of life.
What can I do about it?  Maintain home insurance.  Have a first aid kit and communications.  Have a storm shelter.
This is my storm shelter.   There are many like it, but this one is mine...

That is how a threat matrix works.  You can consider any threat, from terror attack, to home invasion, to a slip on the ice.  It allows you to rate and rank threats in a more logical, less emotional way, which will hopefully lead you to more reasoned responses.  The more likely you think an event will occur, or if the effects are too damaging to your life, then you are more apt to allocate funds to prevent the incident from occuring.

First aid is a prime example of a perceived need in my mind.  Yes, we have "some" first aid supplies at home.  No, I am not obsessive about it, merely 'well prepared'.  But I would like to enhance my portable supplies.  I want to order one of these kits:  TACMED DOK  It would live in my shoulder bag where I keep spare cell phone  batteries and cables, pens, etc.  That bag tends to go with me to Co-op, and on road trips.  Just in case...I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

Stay frosty, my friends.  Stay safe.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bonfire Day

Being of English/Irish extraction, I grew up with a passing familiarity with Guy Fawkes Day, as celebrated in the UK (at least how it was described to me by my father).  Living in the country now, we can have a bonfire wherever there is no burn ban in effect.  This is handy, especially since we are heating with wood this winter, and have a fair bit of scrap from the trees we've been cutting.

So last week we began to pile up the burnables, in order to have our Nov. 5th bonfire, though we won't have a dummy to burn in effigy (too much hassle, and far too many politicians to choose from!)  I might even wrap a couple potatoes in foil to cook 'em in the coals.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gettin' His Mad On...

Somebody didn't have a good week at work--too many trips 2 hrs west because of orders... in a work van with bad tires and crapped out suspension.   Tends to make the hips unhappy.

So DH decided to go for a PR on squats last night.  Here he is coming up out of the hole with 365# on his back!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Work day

Since we installed our fireplace insert this past spring, I have been eagerly awaiting the turn of the weather, aka Winter Is Coming.  Finally, this week has seen chill mornings for NTX, and it has been nice to learn to use the insert.

The insert is an older model, think non-freestanding wood burning stove...that fits into your existing fireplace and seals it off.  It came with a rather large, and clunky looking blower, to move cold air around the fire box, heating it, and blowing it back into the room.  Blessedly, it is VERY quiet, yet puts out a fair bit of air.

Having subscribed to a couple wood burning forums, I did pick up a cool tip on how to keep the insert glass clean.  If it gets smoked up/creosoted, you take a damp paper towel, dip it in cold ashes, and wipe the crud off the cold glass.  Don't do it to warm/hot glass though.  But it works like a charm!  And is essentially free.  I like free.

Since we split so much of our firewood sized for the old fireplace, which was huge, we need to re-cut a goodly amount of our existing woodpile to fit the insert.  Today, as it was only a sunny calm 69degrees out, I decided to break out the chain saw and hydraulic splitter and get some work done.
A small pile pulled from the cord and re-cut.

Cut logs, not really worth splitting.

Stacking work for the Monkeys.  I'm sure they will be thrilled! NOT!
After around 2 hours, I had the above cut, and split.  It did take awhile for the splitter to start up, but once it caught, it ran fine.  I suppose it would be helpful to download an operations manual for the thing, right?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sunrise, Sunset....

Sunrise, sunset,
Sunrise, sunset. 
Swiftly fly the years, 
One season following another, 
Laden with happiness, 
And tears.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Small watercraft advisory

There is a small flat bottomed boat up here, that gets used sometimes to go out on the pond to fish from.  This year the paddle was broken, and the pfd is floating somewhere in the pond, growing moss I believe.

DH and I picked up a new paddle at Cabela's and we tested the waters, so to speak.  This of course inspired two Monkeys to beg for their own chance to paddle the pond!  They all swim well, and are not allowed tip boat without direct supervision, so we were not too worried.
Just a bit nervous!

Initially Monkey3 got in and was too scared to do much. So her big brother, who had one paddle Texoma at Cub Scouts camp had to take his turn.  He did rather well, and this convinced his sister to go again, overcoming her great and successfully navigating the pond near shore.

Like an old pro!

Second time's the charm.

Let's go fishing!

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Promised Lan(d)

A wee play on words and someone's guest Wi-Fi.  Seriously though, this place is near and dear to our hearts.  Thank you to the RPCNA for allowing us to share this beautiful place.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

It's been one of those weeks...

To start off the week, I broke my cell phone.  As I use it for many tasks, including as my training log for weightlifting, not having it, has been disruptive!  I did co-opt Monkey1's phone for the duration, until I can get my replacement, so people who know me, can call or text me.  But everything else I use the phone for is kaput!

Then this week saw the return of Homeschool Co-op!  The kids were excited.  I, as the parent, get to teach a class.  I got lucky and my entry of Strength and Conditioning was picked.  Alas, I cannot do barbell training with the kids, as I don't want the liability, and it's far to labor intensive to disassemble, transport, reassemble, etc, my power rack, and several hundred pounds of iron!  So we are doing bodyweight conditioning to start, and adding dumbell/kettlebell weights as we progress.

Since I mostly do cycling and barbell training, my high-rep endurance is suffering.  Yes, my own class kicked my butt today!  At least I was able to do the work though.  Hopefully, my own class will help me up my conditioning level, though it won't help me for strength.

This morning, before Co-op, I got an email from my 3rd hour instructor for yong kids Archery class.  He wasn't going to be able to be there today, and would I, the assistant, take over?  Of course, but since he has all the targets, we ended up playing kickball, and freeze tag instead.  Ayt least they burned off some excess energy.

Finally, the North Texas Giving Day went well for TIRR Rescue.  I want to take a moment to thank eveyone who donated in support of TIRR.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  This rescue is near and dear to my heart--all our dogs have come through TIRR.  And your support of TIRR Rescue means a lot to me!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Help TIRR Rescue via North Texas Giving Day 09/14/2017

This Thursday is the annual North Texas Giving Day.  TIRR Rescue has participated for several years now, and it has proven to be a great help in funding the needs of the many dogs at TIRR.  Anyone can donate.  You need not be in north Texas to give.

If you feel led to donate, I thank you!  If you cannot donate, please share the link to this blog, or copy and paste the donation link in the letter below, with your friends, and on social media.  Every share, and every donation means the world to these folks, and to these dogs.

Below, is TIRR's posting about Giving Day, and their plan for any funds donated.

From TIRR Rescue:

TIRR Rescue is, once again, participating in the North Texas Giving Day which is on Thursday September 14.

This fundraising event is enormous for TIRR Rescue – it is one of the prime fundraiser we participate in each year. 

Each year we try to target something that we need more than anything else.  We always have many needs and wants for the dogs we take in.   This year we have taken into our program many dogs that other rescues could not accommodate.  Currently we have 5 dogs that are Heartworm positive and in need of Heartworm treatment.   It is not uncommon for us to take in many HW positive dogs in the span of the year.  If you are a TIRR follower, supporter, volunteer, enthusiast or simply a dog lover watching from afar, you know that when we take a dog into our program, we take them for “their life”.  So we know that each dog we take could potentially have heartworms or other health issues.  Although we in the dog world are so familiar with heartworms, how they are contracted and how they are prevented – there is a huge population of people with dogs that are not knowledgeable and/or can’t or don’t provide the prevention.  We are hoping to have enough funds for treating the 5 dogs we have now and also to assist with other medical needs these dogs may have and also for medical issues TIRR encounters with future dogs coming to the Ranch.

Hurricane Harvey was a devastating event for people and animals of all ages, and continues to be an opportunity we can offer assistance, whether direct rescue and/or indirect rescue.  One of the best ways local rescues can help is to assist in getting dogs moved out of our local shelters to secure spots from those coming from the disaster areas in South Texas.  Unlike other disasters of this nature, the shelters in South Texas did an amazing job preparing for the influx of dogs/cats they would receive.  TIRR Rescue and Etosha Rescue joined efforts in supporting the needs of the people and shelters that would provide immediate safe harbor for the massive number of animals rescued.

Here is the link to our page on the North Texas Giving Day website.  We are asking for your financial support and TIRR will ensure that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the care of the dogs and the facilities they enjoy daily.  Having air conditioning and heat, in addition to a respect for their needs is the ultimate gift to a dog that has been abused, neglected, scared on the streets or left  in the back yard with no respect for the love they could and would offer.

Roy and I both want to thank you personally for your support during this fundraising effort.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

More fun fishing!

Yesterday we went out to our friend's pasture to fish her ponds.  We knew there were some big bass, and she said it was ok if we took a couple home.   We caught 15-20 fish between us all I'd guess, and took 5 home.

Here's a look at some of what we got!  God bless Texas farm ponds!

3# 11oz

Scale pic has weight.

Weight of fish above.
And DH send me this picture of dinner that night!  Fresh fried bass, and hushpuppies!  MMMmmm, good!

Friday, September 8, 2017

She will fly again!

The Grumman Guardian undergoing restoration at Toco TX.  I spoke to a woman who was cleaning one of the aircraft there at the airfield.  She told me that yes, the Burchinals are restoring the Grumman to flight status!  Once done, it will be the only flying example of the Guardian in the world.

As seen above, the air frame has been stripped and primed, and the prop remounted.  I was told the plane was trucked to Toco in several large pieces, as it was not flightworthy at the time.  As you can see, it has been reassembled.  I can't wait to see how this project comes together!

The SNJ is still flying apparently too!  I got these nice pics of it at Toco.  It was parked just across from the Grumman.  I am pretty sure it is the same SNJ referenced in this blog post by someone who took lessons at Toco back in the 1970's.  Soloing the Mustang.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Not So Laborious Day

Today was Labor Day, but we didn't labor much!  DH spent a lot of time on a call-out ticket that took two days to resolve, and that thrashed most of his weekend.

So, when our dear friend from the Metromess and his beloved Hairy Monster dog arrived yesterday, we simply took it easy.  Burgers and sausages were grilled.  Tasty beverages were consumed.  And the Hairy Monster got groomed...lots!

First though, Monkey3, my dessert chef in training, decided to make the Ghirardelli Chocolate Crackle cookies.  DH had found the recipe online that my mom had been raving about.  It was simple enough.  It was also insanely tasty, especially with my cuppa coffee at breakfast!
Then today, we headed out to the range for some fun.  There were a lot of butterflies around.  This one took a liking to our friend's rifle!  It must've sat there for 20+ minutes, just hanging out.
 Eventually, we packed up and headed home to cool off, and let the pups outside.  All in all, a fun way to spend the last big weekend of summer!

Monday, August 28, 2017

High 'n Dry for now, up here.

We have been blessed to not be in the active rainfall zone for H/TS Harvey.  We have clouds from it, but no rain.  At least not until later in the week.  Then it might rain a lot.  Time will tell.

We have been watching the activities in the affected zone with interest, as we have friends who live there.  So far, they are safe, if not totally dry.  It could be much worse for them.

Much has been made of the conflicting advice in the media, from Gov. Abbott, and the Mayor of Houston.  Abbott advocated "get outta Dodge if you can", and the Mayor advocated "shelter in place".  Initially, I would side with Abbott, if you can evacuate safely and early enough, do it.  Pack your $h/7 and get moving.  But the Mayor also pointed out the last time they tried to evac Houston all at once, it didn't go very well!  H. Rita, again, anyone?  Yeah, that evac killed 100+ people, just through the evac process.  Folks stranded for hours and days on the flooding roads...and this event with Harvey is worse.  Much worse on flooding.  I suspect far more than the 5 thus recorded fatalities, would have occurred during evacuation.  I can see wisdom in both approaches.

I would like to thank, though, all the first responders, the Cajun Navy, the tree cutters, linemen, telco guys, the ham radio folks, the various formal disaster services, Texas Guards (National and State), the neighbors helping neighbors, the internet folks trying to coordinate aid and assistance, the weather folks for getting it real damned accurate this time (Steve McCauley!) Red Cross, Salvation Army and anyone else who is helping those in need whom I have failed to mention in specific.  Thank you!  This is what makes America great.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Canine adventure, and goodbye

Some of you may know we have been fostering a dog for our local shelter.  His name is Sarge.  He is a Harrier hound mix, and very good natured.  He has been with us nearly 6 mo, with no adoption prospects in sight.

Yesterday I got word, on short notice, that a place on the Rescue Wagon had been secured for Sarge, and he would be going to a shelter (no-kill) in Cheyenne WY.  Apparently they have a nice community program, and a much larger adoption pool for Sarge to find his Forever Home from.

It would've been very easy to foster-fail him.  He fit into our pack and routine so easily.  He's very gentle and loving, and not a big barker either.  We had a good handle on his separation anxiety.  But...if we had kept him, we would have to opt out of fostering any other dogs.   We are maxed out at 4 dogs (3 Ridgebacks and 1 foster).  As is, with DH's probable hip surgery coming up, having one less dog in the house should make it easier for him to navigate whilst recovering.  We are planning on helping walk dogs that have been pulled for rescue groups, that are housed offsite.  It's a way we can help out, without bringing another dog home after DH's surgery.  Once all that is cleared up, we may well do short term fosters.  That makes space and pens available, for intake, and helps reduce the euthanasia risk.

Sarge, I will miss you!  I wish you all the best, in finding your forever family.  It was hard to let you go, but I have to trust the process.  I hope you love the change in climate, and discover snow!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It never fails...


Yep, more rain is on the way.  It even rained yesterday on us, up in Kansas, ruining our eclipse viewing.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Psalm fits today

Psalm 64. (NIV)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.
5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
    “We have devised a perfect plan!”
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
9 All people will fear;
    they will proclaim the works of God
    and ponder what he has done.
10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grumman Guardian!

DH's friend in KC who is both a trainspotter, and planespotter, knew right away what the mystery plane at Toco was!  This is the ultra rare Grumman Guardian!

The Grumman Guardian was the original USN anti-sub warfare plane built specifically for that purpose.  It came in two different airframes, the Hunter (aka Guppy) and the Killer (aka Scrapper).  This particular plane is a Killer.  Note the bomb bay doors which are opened.  The Hunter variant had a radome underneath instead.  There were only 193 planes in the Killer configuration ever built.

A few weeks ago, this plane was in full Navy colors.  The tail color is more likely the dark navy blue, not black.  It also had the distinctive 4 bladed prop mounted at that time.  Apparently, someone is refurbishing her.  I'd love to get a serial# off her because there are only 5 known surviving Guardians.  This one is none of them, as far as I can tell.

Airworthy  (source Wikipedia)
On display
  • 123100 - National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. It was the seventh AF-2S produced. The aircraft was operated as a firefighter until 1978. It was acquired by the museum in 1980. It is displayed in the colors of its first Navy assignment, though still carries the number "30" on the cowling, which for many years was the aircraft's call-sign as a firefighting aircraft;[14]
  • 129233 - Pima Air MuseumTucson, Arizona. This aircraft is displayed as it appeared while serving as an aerial firefighter with Aero Union in California. During this period the distinctive empennage with twin vertical stabilizers on each horizontal tail were removed to make a more conventional appearance.[15]
  • 126731 - Static display at the Commemorative Air Force's Mesa facility in Mesa, Arizona as a memorial to VAdm James B. Stockdale, who flew this aircraft early in his Navy career.[16][17]

What she is doing in Toco, at a tiny airfield, (besides being refinished apparently) is unclear.  Why in Toco?  What is here, that drew the owner to bring an ultra rare plane here?  I know there is an extensive warbird history at this field, but that was a LONG time ago.  I don't know if she flew in here, or was trucked in, but I bet there is a good story in there somewhere!


Per a wise gentleman on the web, who linked me some information on this plane, I know this is #126792 previously based in Ocala FL.  Also known as N9995Z, and based on the newest registry of record, it now makes sense why she is in Toco.  Mystery solved!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

November 255 Sierra

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, this plane, parked in a field on the edge of Hwy 82 at Toco.  There's a couple small hangars and some light aircraft, like Cessnas, in the back.  But this big ol' girl just sits there, intact, but showing the wear and tear of the unsheltered in Texas, her paint fading, her tail holier than swiss cheese now.

Today, on the road home from a doctor visit in Sherman, I could resist the siren call no more.  I turned down the barely paved road that runs past the airport, such as it is...

I was hoping to get a tail number off her, and maybe if I was lucky, to see the blue Navy warbird that has been parked outside one of the hangars, for most of this year.  Neither DH nor I could ID the Navy bird, so I was hoping to photograph it.

Despite her condition, I find her rather photogenic.  I was rushed to take these shots, and being limited to my cellphone for a camera.  As I pulled down the road beside her, I was able to make out that most-essential bit of information, her tail number.  November 255 Sierra.  Now I had her!
The plan was to look the number up online, and see what I could find.  Little did I know what a fascinating set of links this mere number would unveil!   While I was there, I managed a longer range shot of another aircraft.  I couldn't pull a tail number off it, and it's obviously not flight worthy at this moment, as it is missing the prop!  Still, I can see it was apparently once military, there being a white star in the faded blue on the wings, and the SM in the black on the tail.  However, I don't recognize what type of plane it is.  Do you?  If you do recognize it, please let me know in the comments section.
I tried a reverse image search on this plane, to no avail.  Any help would be much appreciated.

Once home, I used my Google-fu, and discovered the history of N255S.  What was so fascinating was not so much the plane, as the place!  The Flying Tiger Air Museum used to operate out of this little dirt strip field (yes I know the runway is somewhat paved...).

The man who owned and ran it, was a former stunt pilot, with a bit of Hollywood history to his resume.  He also had quite the collection of flight worthy warbirds!  On top of it all, the planes were not just to look at, like static displays--oh no, you could FLY THEM!  Yes, plunk down your money, and Mr Burchinal could teach you to fly warbirds!  At various times, there was a B-17, a B-25, an SNJ, a T-6, a P-38, F-86 Sabre, a Corsair, and the creme de la Creme, a P-51 Mustang!  How many of these were flight ready I am unsure, though I did find a link to a lengthy write up of one man's experience studying under Mr Burchinal and eventually soloing the Mustang.  Sadly, such a flight school could no longer exist in today's litigious world...

Alas, the museum eventually closed, Mr Burchinal passed away, and the aircraft were mostly sold off.  A little piece of Texas history, and American history died with it.  I wish I had been around here, back then, to see it all.  It would've been glorious!