Friday, September 8, 2017

Run Away, Run Far Far Away!

I'm running away. Or the blog is.

I've moved this blog and my other ones over to Wordpress. The link is

Everything that was here is there as well, and I won't be updating this one.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Loki: The Cat

During the kitten season of 2015 we took in a lot of kittens with 

medical issues. Cases that weren't deemed to be too contagious to 

our older, healthier cats we put in cages in the house. We had a 

number of single crates as well as a three-level cage and a ferret 

cage in the living room and kitchen. The shelter also had a bad 

outbreak of ringworm, so we took in as many of those as we 


Terrie Lynn (Cat Dancing) was using an enclosed room in the 

carport as her stained-glass shop. It was finished inside and had a 

window a/c unit, so it could be made pretty comfortable as our 

ringworm ward. My office, which was in an old office trailer 

beside the carport also did double duty as the feline leukemia/FIV 


Ringworm isn’t a worm, but a fungus. In cats it shows up as 

sometimes circular areas of scabby skin causing hair loss. 

Treatments vary, sometimes involving anti-fungal dips and 

ointments. One of the better topical treatments we've found 

involves cutting the hair around the area and applying Miconazole 

7 ointment. Miconazole 7 is actually sold as a yeast infection 

cream under many brand names, but is equally effective and fairly 

cheap when purchased under the store brand.
There were a good many kittens of various ages in the ringworm ward. I helped to take care of and medicate them since I passed by that room on the way to my office many times a day. Some of the crates held kittens with very bad ringworm and U.R.I. as well, I believe. U.R.I., or upper respiratory infection in cats is much like it is in humans, involving bronchitis like symptoms but it also involves eye infections that can become very serious and cause blindness or eye loss. For the U.R.I., medicated eye ointments are used, as well as nebulizer treatments with and without Albuterol. We built various combinations of boxes, such as litter buckets with air holes, and cat carriers wrapped in plastic or towels to contain the cats/kittens and allow the nebulizer vapor to flow inside for treatment. I jokingly referred to the first of these boxes as a “Schrodinger Box.”
One of the crates in the ringworm ward held two very sick kittens, barely weaning age. They were both covered in ringworm and pitiful looking. I admit I had to force myself to touch them and put salve on them, they looked so bad. I almost cringed to touch them. It is possible to get ringworm from cats, but as long as you take care and wash your hands, etc. it's pretty safe. In large part I just wanted to get done fast and get out. 
One of the kittens, though, wouldn't let me. He was missing a lot of hair, but he was a black and white tuxedo kitten with a black nose and very affectionate. In fact he craved affection. When I was feeding them and medicating the other kitten he would climb the cage and try to get out. I finally started letting him roam the top of the cage and explore a bit, but what he wanted the most was to crawl up on my shoulder and rub against me. 
The first several times, like I said, I was like “ewwww! Leper!” and shied away. He was so insistent, though, that he won me over and I began to cuddle him and pet him more when I visited. I gave attention to all the cats, of course. They were all adorable, but sick. He, however, stole my heart with his plucky spirit and affection.
 I named him Loki, since, even in his limited surroundings at the time he was mischievous, into everything, and irrepressible!It seemed it took forever, but soon he and the others healed and we looked for adopters. As usual some went to rescues, and some to adoption events. Loki ran loose in the house for a couple of weeks with the other cats and was still as mischievous and affectionate as ever. Of course, we already had “too many” cats and soon we found an adopter for him. We were sad but convinced that we had found him a good home. 
A short time passed and we heard from the adopters. Loki had hidden the entire time he was at their house. They finally decided it wasn't a good match and brought him back. He was covered in soot. They had found him hiding in the fireplace. As soon as he got back in our house he jumped straight up onto my shoulder and snuggled against my neck. He made it quite obvious that we were his family and no other would do. We bowed to necessity and Loki became another of our “foster fails”. 
Loki is still with us. He grew out of his shoulder sitting phase, although he still will make a token leap up there just to remind me, I think. He’s quite a load when he lands now! There is also rarely any warning! He is still into everything. His black nose and black pattern on his face give him sort of a squinty appearance reminding me of the actor French Stewart in “Third Rock From The Sun.”

 He lives up to the name “Loki”. His other nicknames are “Loki Nose” and “Loki Pokey”. He is very definitely his own character and gets along quite well with the other cats.
I admit that I have a soft spot for these guys. I was sick with asthma almost every winter as a child. I missed a lot of school and was in the hospital quite a bit. I was also for all practical purposes a orphan. I knew my parents but was raised by my grandparents and my status as “not theirs” was made clear. These hurt and orphaned kittens pull at my heartstrings every time. When I pet Loki I remember again how sick and lonely he was and my heart melts all over again. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


 How do these things ever begin? I love animals and have always had pets. In my last bout of bachelorhood, though, I decided not to have any. I had a fairly nice mobile home at the time. Yes, I know. That's not the accepted term for them now. The dealers at least want you to call them “manufactured housing” or even nothing different from just “house”. It took me a long time to get past calling them “trailer houses” though, and it's getting a bit late to change for me. 

Anyway, I decided on no pets. They were allowed in the park I lived in. However, I enjoyed not having dependents for once. Over something like 33 years I had been married twice and raised five children. I was fairly recently divorced and the kids were mostly grown. 

I had a short commute to work and was enjoying the ability to eat out, go to movies, even take a long weekend away from home without needing to arrange care-taking for pets or kids. 

I missed my kids, definitely. I missed them a lot. I missed my wife bitterly. It was a bad break-up for me. Still, it was a new experience for me to have no commitments for once except to myself. I still had the occasional company of an affectionate Siamese cat that lived in the neighborhood, so I wasn't totally bereft of furry friends. 

 I actually had a couple of years of bachelorhood before two things happened, almost simultaneously. My mother moved in, and I fell in love. A cynic might say that the first thing may have forced the second. I won't speculate. My mother had mobility issues and needed a place to live. I had never actually lived with her after I was about 4 years old, so it seemed nice to get to know each other. I turned over the master bedroom and bath to her and she settled in. 

About the same time I met Terrie Lynn (AKA Cat Dancing). We were both members of the same email group, though we hadn't met before. We had crossed paths a couple of times without meeting. She noticed my email address in my response to another member and liked it so we started emailing and set up a meeting. It was only partially a disaster. In fact it was pretty much love at first sight! 

 Things progressed and got serious and eventually I moved out of my house and turned it over to my mother. I moved about an hour away. She later got into a subsidized housing arrangement and I sold the mobile home. 

Back to pets. 

Terrie Lynn had a son, Michael, three cats, (Simba, Isis, and Salem) and a dog (Sky) when we got together. While we lived there Isis was killed by dogs and Sky disappeared. We also adopted two kittens. A black named Panthera and a siamese named Pongo. Pongo ultimately was also killed by dogs or maybe coyotes. All three losses were pretty traumatic for us. 

In 2011 we moved over near Bastrop, Tx. We rented a place with six acres and a nice little house. We also built our own vending booth at Sherwood Forest Faire, a rennaissance faire nearby. Cat makes Intarsia wood art, and I make flutes, mostly of the Native American Style. 

 Cat became aware of conditions at the Bastrop County Animal Shelter. This was a kill shelter but volunteers were able to take at-risk animals and foster them to adoption. Cat took in a cat named India that needed medical attention and became friends with several of the staff and volunteers. 

Over time we fostered more and more cats. A few them became “foster fails”, or as I call them “Velcro Cats”, as they velcro themselves to your heart and are hard to let go! 

We worked a lot with Bastrop Animal Rescue and after a time Cat teamed up with a friend and started Bastrop C.A.T.S. a non-profit TNR organization. TNR stands for Trap Neuter Return. They help people trap ferals and strays, get them neutered free or cheaply and return them to where they were if possible. As such, in addition to the regular fostering, we often overnight feral cats on their way to or from neutering. 

These organizations as well as other volunteers have brought down the numbers of euthanized animals at the shelter considerably in the last few years. 

Over time we’ve reached a point where we don’t directly foster as many cats ourselves but network with other volunteers and rescues to manage it. With lots of friends who also foster or donate time and funds we manage to cover the need. Currently we’re toward the end of kitten season and we have a few visitors. 

We, ourselves have a resident population of around 20 cats, a few of which are outdoor cats. Some of them have medical issues that make them hard to adopt out. Others we just couldn't bear to part with. We also have a wonderful dog and two less wonderful macaws, all rescues of one sort or another. 

 And chickens. We have chickens. 

In future posts I plan to tell the stories of some of our furry family, in no particular order, just as they occur to me. 

Stay tuned! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Slowly Apocalypsizing

I haven't posted for awhile here. A situation has come to my attention that I felt I needed to warn everyone about:
Climbing Turtles

Yes. You heard me, climbing turtles. It started as a small, even funny happening. A couple of children walking home from school came across this bizarre and troubling sight:

"That's cute!", you say. That's what everyone said. And it was; as long as it was only one seemingly innocent turtle. However, as the days passed, more and more turtles began climbing fences, and trees, and who knows what else?

Well, I know what else! Before long they were reaching even higher!

  And higher!

It was only a matter of time before they began flocking, even roosting!

It's becoming a common sight. And, notice, they are targeting microwave towers especially! 

I know, I know. You're saying "that's ridiculous"!

Well, I say it's the beginning of the end. A scourge worse than the zombie apocalypse. Tell the truth now, haven't you noticed your internet signal getting slower? Your cell signal getting weaker? This is just the beginning.

Before you know it, it will all shut down from turtle overload! I'll be right here, okay, maybe not right here, but somewhere I'll be saying "I told you so!"

Take warning before it's too late!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Camber of Culdi

Camber of Culdi Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is actually a re-read of an old favorite. The Culdi series by Katherine Kurtz is a wonderfully rich historical fantasy. I love every installment I've read. i consider it a must-read. Set during the time of the Inquisition, Camber is the patriarch of one of several families of alien origin who have integrated among humans. This story involves how he and his family survive in an atmosphere of growing discrimination and paranoia from The Church and Establishment.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Best Knife

    There is a truism that answers the age old question "What is the best all around knife to have." The answer is "the one you have with you."  The thing is, it doesn't matter what knife you have, fancy or plain, expensive or not, if, when you really need it you aren't carrying it for whatever reason.
    The one I rely on most is one like the one pictured above. An inexpensive Kamp King knife made by Imperial.
    Please note, the one above is not my knife. I took the easy way out and filched a photo from online. It's a good pic, but somebody did a really bad job of sharpening that blade!
    I'm not sure of the genealogy involved, but Imperial also made several types of Boy Scout and Cub Scout knives. This model is almost an exact copy of the official Cub Scout knife I once owned. The official Scout knives were a bit pricey for a poor country boy to own, but I did have a few. For some reason they were also easily lost. They were very good knives. Imperial sold the Kamp Kraft for a fairly low price at numerous outlets. I seem to remember this exact knife being offered at Walmart in a blister pack for around three dollars back in the '70s and beyond.
    What I've found is that the cheaper knife compares favorably with the more expensive ones for everyday carry. And, at the cheap price, I didn't mind losing one so much, therefore, of course, I stopped losing them! There seems to be an inverse square law about these things. Those things you can least afford to lose you are more likely to, and vice versa.  Nowadays, though, they have fallen into the range of "vintage" and go for a bit more when you find them. Not exactly rare, you can expect to pay five dollars and up for one on eBay. 
   The steel is good. It holds an edge well. For a handy person like myself, the few extra tools included are very welcome. The scales tend to break with age, and the joints get wobbly over time with mis-use. Used responsibly though, you can get a lot of mileage out of one. One of these resides in my work pants all the time. I tend to carry a smaller, sleeker more modern version of this in my "town" pants.
      You must remember, I said above, "country boy".  I suspect it's much the same now, but a country boy of my generation especially just did not ever go anywhere without some sort of pocket knife in his possession. It was a tool in constant use all day every day for uncountable chores. Therefore, whatever I'm doing I always have at least one pocket knife on me.     
    I'm retired now, but I usually wear some form of work attire. Bib overalls, jeans, coveralls or cargo pants, since I am often repairing things, doing woodwork, gardening or whatever. At this moment I'm sitting here in my bib overalls, my Kamp King knife in my pocket and a larger lock-back knife clipped into the long tool pocket on my leg. 
   I had a career once and worked in an office. Of course I had a small pocket knife, of the "penknife" variety in my pocket. A city bred co-worker who had been raised in Florida remarked seriously that I must be some sort of hoodlum, since I carried a pocket knife. I and others were quick to counter with the facts of life, Texas style. 
   Even in grade school, it was a sure bet that every male student, and some of the female ones, carried a pocket knife. It wasn't viewed as a weapon at all. As usual I saw many fights during my school days, but I don't remember anyone ever pulling out his knife. That was a serious breach of etiquette! 
    I like knives, I even collect them. My collection consists of pocket knives, lock-back knives, sheath knives, and even a couple of swords. I only collect inexpensive ones, though. I never paid more than twenty dollars for one, most fall in the "under five dollar" range. The few more expensive ones were gifts or inherited. I like the variety, and ingenuity of design. I even have at least three of the above mentioned Kamp King knives.
    I have no official Scout pocket knives, though. Alas. I do also have an authentic Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox, and a couple of copies of same. I don't carry them. The copies aren't that good, and as for the actual Swiss? See the passage about always losing expensive knives above! I don't risk it. I can MacGyver just as well with my Kamp King.
    If you ever wind up in a survival situation you can make almost everything you need to live with the aid of a good knife. If you don't have one, perish the thought, one of your first chores is to make a blade of some sort. 
    Don't leave home without it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Literally a Milestone

   Things are not always what they seem. Memory isn't either. 

   When I was young I lived at a place called Seward Junction. Literally a crossroads. We lived upstairs over a Texaco (later Exxon)  gas station at the intersection of Texas Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 183 in Williamson County somewhat between the towns of Leander and Liberty Hill. The location is now, I believe, within the Liberty Hill City limits, for whatever that is worth. 

   My father's family, the Sewards, had owned the property surrounding the intersection since sometime in the 1860's, hence the name, Seward Junction. It was pretty rural. For most of the time I lived there the nearest non-family neighbor was about a quarter-mile away in any direction. The piece of property my grandparents owned was about five acres at that time, including the service station and some land around it. Dad, (my grandfather) ran the garage and he and Mom (my grandmother) ran the store with some help from me as I got older. 

   We did some mowing from time to time. A little ways behind the store we had an overhead water tank made of stone that stored our well water. The water often had oil in it, so the overhead tank gave it a chance to separate out before the water went to the house. Every time we mowed we always had to steer around a large triangular flat rock lying on the ground near the water tank. Therefore, almost every time we mowed back there I heard the story of that rock and how it came to be there. Realize, now, that this is in limestone country, rocks are not rare. But a solitary large rock lying in the way like that on top of the grass seemed out of place. 

   It seems that the two roads were there in one form or another for a long time back into history. Highway 29 led from the Junction to Georgetown to the east and Burnet to the west. Georgetown was, and is, the county seat so it had some standing as a destination. Highway 183, on the other hand, ultimately ran from Refugio, Texas (almost Mexico) to South Dakota. When both of the highways were expanded and paved in the '30's signs were erected. There was an old stone standing near the road to Georgetown that said something like "Georgetown, 12 miles." The story went that the words were carved on the face of the stone. The road crew put it aside and my  great grandfather asked for it. Ever since then it had lain facedown near our water tank and we mowed around it. 

   In my senior year of high school, 1968, Mom and Dad sold the store and we moved to the other end of the property where there was a house. We built a new garage for Dad and of course we had to move a lot of stuff. One day we got a couple of strong guys to help and we went to move that old milestone we'd been mowing around. We used a crowbar to raise it up from where it had sunk into the ground and flipped it over. There was nothing on it on either side! All this time we had been protecting a plain piece of rock! Dad was stumped. I felt a bit cheated.

   Thinking about that I am often led to think of the impermanence and frankly untrustworthiness of memory. My son turns 40 today. Talking to him sometimes and remembering things in the past it often strikes me that we often remember the same events quite differently. This isn't about which is right. (Though of course I am. This is my blog, after all, he can be right in his blog! Lol!) What it is about is that we each have our own realities built from our own memories of events that may vary widely! 

   When I was very young I remember my grandmother singing and chanting children's verses to me. One was "This Little Piggy" playing with my toes. I'm sure everyone has heard some variation. Mom's was almost the same as the one in my Mother Goose book I had at the time. "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, this little piggy cried "wee, wee, wee all the way home!"

   Fast forward a generation to when my son was a baby. Mom played with his toes as well. All of a sudden, her poem was "This little piggy says 'want some corn', this little piggy says 'where you gonna get it', this little piggy says 'master's barn', this little piggy says 'I want some', this little piggy cries 'wee, wee, wee, can't get over the door step!"

   I was confused. I asked her "where did that come from?" Her response? "I've always said it that way!" I was puzzled. When I recited the way I remembered it she professed to have never heard that version. Now I was absolutely floored! Was she right? Was I? I now have no idea. There were other similar instances where she recited a children's song or poem I remembered from childhood but one or two verses were greatly different. I stayed confused. 

   I guess it all comes down to the fact that our experiences shape our realities, and our experiences are not the same, even if we shared the same ones and we think they are engraved in stone.

   And I'm always right!