Waiting For The Electrician, Or Someone Like Him

That’s the title of the first album by the crazy Firesign Theatre audio troop, cut back in 1968. It also describes me over much of the weekend, which is part of the price you pay for living in the Texas Outback.

No power again this morning, so I’m writing the first draft on actual analog paper, with a physical pen – can you believe it?

Yesterday, a transformer blew before noon, going off like a shotgun, which I reported to the proper authorities at the CenterPoint Energetic Monopoly of Houston. Unfortunately for us (in this case) our modest, aging and eclectic neighborhood lies 36 miles outside the megalopolis.

So yeah, two and a half hours rolled by and yet no CenterPoint crews had set foot in the neighborhood, notwithstanding their regional facility just down the street. One grows used to such fate on the fringes, so one hauls out the propane generator, fires it up and prevents the food in one’s fridge and freezer from spoiling. Then one might contemplate the wondrous beauty of an incredible fall day for another couple of hours until, somewhere around 4:30, utility crews actually show up and fix the problem.


Until 8:30 the following morning (today), when we repeat the whole exercise because, well, just because.

I don’t know why, but I am reminded of a day many years ago, 1985 to be exact, when I patrolled the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains as a roving country reporter in South Carolina. And lo! after many decades, a tiny village area tucked away down a small road from “civilization” finally was hooking up with The World electricity-wise. And it turned out an elderly man of nearly 90 years was discovered to have lived all his life in the rural community. And a reporter was tasked with asking the gentleman how he thought his life might change now that he finally could hook up to the grid.

“Ain’t ever needed electricity before,” he said, or something approximate. “Don’t see what I need it for now.”

Posted in Country Life, Energy, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Dogs Are Never Ashamed

No matter how badly you might think you’re humiliating them, no worries! because dogs are never ashamed. Still, I figure that’s no reason not to help your canine friend look her best.

We had decided that, even though she has excellent conformation, hunting drive and very cute spots, we would not breed Boudin, our 9-month-old Catahoula. We would have her “fixed.” Which is a pretty awful thing to say, really, if you think about it, but that’s what people say. More correctly, we have decided to have her broken. We will pay a veterinarian to break her reproductive system so that she cannot have puppies.

But there’s a waiting list and, at present, Boo isn’t scheduled to have her operation until mid-November. And things being what they are (chaotic, odds seemingly against us) she went into heat a couple of weeks ago while waiting for the vet procedure.

This was pretty much inconvenient all around, especially since I’d finally gotten Boo signed up to start a dog manners class in a couple of days and now I was going to have to call up the woman running the class and tell her we would have to withdraw because, in heat.

But no, the trainer said, Boo is going to have to learn to behave in heat or out, and the other dogs in the class are going to have to learn to behave well toward their classmates regardless. You just, she said, need to put the dog in some bitches’ britches. That is what the woman said.

Well, I was fresh out, but when I found out what they are, I bought a pack at the local dog products emporium (Walmart) and discovered they are exactly like the diapers I used to put on my children except more poorly made and with a hole punched in the booty area for the dog’s tail. Boudin looked ridiculously old to be wearing diapers, they hiked up around her thighs, the available colors were horrid and she didn’t like them. It took her less than 120 seconds to rip off the first pair.

Then I did what fashion doctors everywhere recommend for the sporting girl-pup: I went out and bought a pack of 2T-3T size toddler boy’s underwear, in assorted stylish color patterns. You put them on the dog “backwards,” which causes the pants opening to face upward, so the dog’s tail can poke out quite comfortably.


We find they do the job, stay on snugly and look just bitchin’.

Posted in Critters, Family

Slapstick Gardening

The Sicilian squash known as cucuzza reigns as jokester king of the vegetable world. Here’s how it works: You had more of these 3-foot-plus squash than you could possibly eat or give away last time, and so a couple of falls ago you just dumped a couple of the drying gourd-like bodies at the end of a garden bed, figuring if the seeds inside took root they would quickly die in the ensuing winter.

That was 2013. The seeds didn’t take root. That year.

This august a couple of them did. By this time prickly pear cactus was growing over the top of the new squash seedlings, a condition they quickly reversed. By the time I spotted them, they were about 8 feet high, jumping (in the vegetative sense) from the cactus to the lower branches of a pecan tree.

Seven or so weeks later, the cucuzza vines stretch about 35 feet up into the 45-foot pecan tree. It became really noticeable when the underside of the tree canopy started sporting fat green baseball bats.


Cucuzza is tasty, served up in a variety of ways you aren’t allowed to experience unless you marry a Sicilian. I could tell you, but you can imagine what would happen to me if I did.

This year’s big cucuzza joke is that the vines are loaded with delicious fruit, almost all of which are so high in the tree that they cannot be harvested, even with a ladder. It’s true that I have been able to find a way to nab a very few of the elusive squash. Just this morning I climbed atop my longest ladder and used a long-handled fruit-picking gizmo to separate two cucuzzas from their stems. Whereupon they promptly fell out of reach and onto the ground, each cracking in half.

You could sense mirth emanating from the nearby cucuzza tendrils. Pretty sophomoric, really.

Posted in Food, Garden, Vegetables

Dog Bowling On The Open Prairie

What cloud appears on yon horizon absent a silver lining?

To be brief: The Catahoula is a hunter and herding dog possessed of unusual drive and strength even at a tender 8 months and 45 pounds. Should one encourage such a beast to frolic at high speed through the brush in order to test one’s LG G4 mobile camera, one risks canine over-stimulation for which, alas, there are no brakes, apparently.

Yeah, I got her wound up, and the dog decided that rather than juking and leaping past as usual, she would just lower her shoulder into my legs like so many bowling pins.

Silver lining: Somehow my phone camera snapped this picture as it (and I) hit the ground. For the record, this hurt a lot. But the dog indicated she was real sorry.


In one fell swoop, it turns out I’ve probably invented a new mobile photo category that I am nearly sure will catch on virulently: The Falling Selfie. Ask me how it’s done.

Posted in Country Life, Critters, Duh Files

End Of An Era

Bosco, our 11-and-a-half-year-old Catahoula, had been suffering from bone cancer for the past several months, and gradually became close to an invalid. Things got worse yesterday, and our wonderful old veterinarian made a house call in the evening, and very gently sent the dog into the Next World. My son Nick and I assisted, although no real assistance was needed and Bosco slipped peacefully and painlessly into the deep sleep from which one does not wake up.

We buried him as night fell, just outside our back gate, where he liked to stand sometimes and watch the river go by below.

It was the end of an era. As a life-long dog owner, I think our human lives are segmented into eras marked by the boundaries of our canines’ corresponding lives. Our two youngest children grew up in the Bosco era. We renovated this house on the river during the Bosco era, too, and I retired during the Bosco era. Now another era has begun, marked by yet another dog, but it won’t be the same. All eras are different, and there’s no looking back (except when you use your memory to suspend time).

Of the many dogs I’ve lived with, Bosco was easily the best. I used to privately pat myself on the back for doing such an outstanding job training him, but later realized that Bosco simply figured out, without much help from me, what I liked him to do and what I didn’t like him to do. He made up his own mind but lived within those parameters, as a favor. He was not overly aggressive and in fact was gentle with children, but he would guard us with his life. He put himself between us and harm or what he believed was harm more than once, and when I went to work or ran errands and told him to “guard the fort,” I knew the family had nothing to fear from the outside world. He took on anything that dared trespass, and kept the home and the farm free from all vermin, no matter how fierce. Inside the house, he knew which rooms he was allowed to enter and kept out of the others. He knew better than to put his face up to the kitchen counters or the table, and although he loved human food, he didn’t beg, even for salmon, which he dearly loved. He would wait patiently by the grill as I cooked the fish, removed the meat to a platter and left him the steaming hot, fatty skin.

Other than that, his big twice-weekly treat came when I allowed him to accompany me in the early morning darkness when I opened the gate and pulled the big dumpster down the front driveway and out to the road on garbage day. This morning I made that trip by myself for the first time in more than a decade.

I’m going to miss that dog.

Posted in Critters, Family, Metaphysics, Uncategorized

Clean-Up On Aisle Four

Yeah, this just happened:

Tree Fall Go Boom
One of two main trunks on this approximately 80-foot-tall, 100-year-old pecan tree creaked and cracked, cracked again and then thundered into the ground literally right in front of me, pretty much filling up my entire back yard.

So yeah, I can get you a deal on some of the finest barbecue smoking wood available anywhere. Just bring a chain saw and your pick-up…

Posted in Be Afraid, Country Life, Nature, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Green Grass Of My Childhood

I’m late with this, of course, just as I’m lately late with all my writing. Events happen and you sit down and report on them immediately while the details still stick in your mind, so I was taught, so I thought. But events also happen and the details run together in a multi-dimentional mental patina that flavors the memories and, perhaps, ages them well as with fine wine.

Or could that be a load of toro de caca?

We flew to Northeast Ohio, my nuclear family and me, to visit Mom, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews and a couple of old friends. We hadn’t been in a long time – long enough that my youngest son and daughter didn’t remember the old Dunn abode or the lakes or the swimming beach.

I had a great time at my brother’s place, more absorbing the vibes and pieces of conversation than actually saying anything profound, just sitting back with a couple of beers and good barbecue, surrounded by siblings and a parade of tiny toddlers I’d never seen before, but with whom I apparently share some DNA, playing Bocce Ball badly but having a blast anyway.

It was odd, as usual, to haunt the old fishing holes and walk the streets of the old neighborhood and see the last of my wooded childhood haunts turned into backyards for houses busy churning out memories for strangers. But it was great, too, hanging with mama and the others, collating the changes and the samenesses, adding another layer to the patina, reveling in the lush, cool gardens and greenery, where 102 degrees Fahrenheit is nothing more than a bad idea.

Of course I took pictures. Too many, as is my normal. I’ve saved a few in a new gallery over here, if you care to take a peek…

Posted in Family, Kids