Thursday, December 16, 2010

I was ten years old, happy as I'd ever been in my life, runnin' free in the Missouri woods when this tune came out in 1971.

Those days seem a million miles away now. Like someone else's life. Summers spent deep in the thick, green woods, shooting arrows at anything that moved, building tree houses and forts, pretending to be soldiers, or hunters, or Indians on the warpath. Anyone other than who we were. After the crud I'd been put through in England, Kansas City was paradise.

My friends, Mike Hinkley, Greg Rogers and I spent our winter days wondering at the magic of the ice storms that coated the trees, running in the deep snow, slipping and sliding on the frozen creek that ran behind our houses and sliding down the tall hill on our sleds. It's funny how, when prompted, the mind jumps to those warm, fond memories.

It was ages later, long after I'd memorized all the words, before I learned the sad inspiration for the song... That Mclean was singing about Buddy Holly, among other things. I still love it, and still sing it to myself at the top of my lungs when I hear it in the car. I'm instantly taken back to those good times. It's wild how music can do that to ya.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Other weekend drama.

Aside from mom's birthday and all the left-overs from Thanksgiving, Denise and I had a few more little dramas over the weekend.

First, Friday night, as we were beginning to drift off to sleep, I heard one of the cats making a weird noise. It was a strangely muffled but loud meow. I got up from the bed in time to see my little buddy Tiger...

This is him, a week or so ago, sacked out in my chair. he's my buddy. The only one of the six cats that I feed that acts like he loves me. He was the runt of the litter, shoved around by the others when they were kittens. I'd always make sure he got to eat, so he learned to love and trust me early on.

Anyway, he was makin' this weird noise that night, like he was meowin' with a full mouth. Sure enough, he had a rat in his mouth, and he'd brought it in to me to show it off. Thing is, as soon as I got out of bed he dropped the little offering, and it scurried off into the darkness of the living room. Of course, this isn't the first time one of the kids had done this. But it's been a hell of a long time.

When I first moved in here, in 2003, they used to do it all the time. They'd bulldozed the field in front of the house to build the HEB, and there were rats and critters all over the neighborhood. the boys had a field day. I used to leave the front door cracked, like I did at my last apartment, so the cats could come and go at will. But pretty soon after movin' in it got to where I had to leave the doors closed. I was sick of the chase.

By the time I put in the cat door in the guest bedroom, this sort of thing was long forgotten. I felt sure the cats had killed everything in sight. Still, every now and then we find the pieces of a bird carcass, usually a pile of feathers, in the guest room. The dead rats, when we find them, are found out in the back yard. Recently though, instead of finding them in the yard, the kids have gotten into the habit of bringing them in and finishing them off in the house. Denise will wake me up some days with that look on her face and say "You need to get up NOW!" I always know what that means.

I usually laugh as I'm putting the poor dead critter in a plastic bag, tyin' it shut and walking it out to the dumpster. And there's always a part of me that wants to chase her around with it, if only briefly. But I've learned that that can get out of hand really quick. I thought she was gonna have a heart attack on me a while back. And that was just with a little dead garden snake. Again' a present from the boys.

Anyway, so I turned on the lights in the living room and located the rat, which was hiding under my stair machine. Tiger was pointing the way. When I leaned the StairMaster over it skittered out and under my recliner, Tiger in hot pursuit. He was watching every move that rat made.

I lifted up the recliner and there he was, shifting from one side of it to the other. It's little rodents life must have been flashing before it's eyes. I put the chair down again and went and got my BB pistol, thinkin' I'd plink the little dude when I lifted up the recliner again. But when I did, he bolted, and tiger bolted after him.

That was the last I saw of the rat. Next thing I know, Tiger is relaxing in the guest bedroom, seemingly unconcerned that his dinner has escaped, and I have no clue where the little bastard is. I looked all over the living room while Denise sat there in bed, watching.

"Well, where is it? Did you get it?" she asked as I strolled back into the bedroom. "Uh, nope. No clue," was my response. "Well, close the door," she said. "It can't get in here can it?" "Naa," I said, lyin' my ass off. I put a towel down on the floor by the door. I reassured her that there was no way the little dude could get into the bedroom, or into bed with us (shiver me timbers), and put my trust in the cats. I figured that when all the commotion died down, they'd come back in the house and do what cats do.

The next morning, there was no sign of ether the cats, or the rat. I hoped that some time during the night, the cats had done their duty, but there was no obvious sign of it. Then, some time Saturday afternoon, Denise noticed something under the footrest of my chair. I looked and sure enough, there sat about the last inch or so of a rats tail. Yep, something like a death struggle had gone on while we slept. But it wasn't until late Saturday night that I found the real evidence.

It was when I went in to the hallway bathroom, to make an evenings offering. I was sittin' there on the throne, checkin' out the deals in the latest C.I. catalog, when I saw a little swath of something crimson there on the tile next to the magazine basket (which normally sits in the corner, up against the bathtub and wall). Blood on the floor tile. When I pulled back the basket, the full scope if the carnage was revealed.

Look closely. You can even make out little bloody rat footprints, and what might be the last scatological offerings that were involuntarily given as the feline hunters took their fatal bite. Yep, I live with some deadly ninja kitties, fer sure. I just wish they'd do their killin' outside.

The other drama this last weekend was much less bloody, but much more expensive. By the time we returned to the house Saturday night, after having that nice Birthday dinner with mom, I walked down to the road to get the mail and noticed a lot of water in the gutter. I soon discovered that water was gushing out of my water meter box.

It was a gusher. I called the city water department and they sent someone out to turn off the flow. I could have done it myself, but I thought you needed that special tool to do it. you know, the one they always have. I now know I could have used a wrench. Live and learn.

The city water guy turned off the water and dug out enough mud to see that it was going to be my problem. The pipe that was busted was mine, and not the cities. Also, he told me that I'd have to pay for all that water that had been gushing out into the street for God knows how long. We'd left to go to mom's about 4:30, and returned at about 10PM, so that could be a LOT of water.

I assumed it was broken PVC, and though about fixing it myself. But I don't trust myself to do it right. I called my usual plumber Sunday morning, but they don't work weekends. Eventually, after calling around, I finally got someone to come out and deal with it.

It turned out to be pretty simple problem, right there in the meter box. There was no serious digging required. I dodged a bullet on that one. Having watched the dude do the fixing, I think I could fix it again myself if it ever breaks again. It was just this piece of angled PVC, which had become unglued and popped out, causing the gusher.

When I rubbed some of the mud off of it I saw a hair line crack in it's side, which probably contributed to the failure. God thing is, it's probably the original item, put in place in 1996 or so when the house was built.

Thing is, the first time he fixed it, the bond didn't hold up to the pressure. I was sanding there, about to take a picture of the fixed pipe when WHOOSH, the seal burst open and the water sprayed out, and he had to jump in and turn off the water again.

It took the dude three tries to get it to hold, but in the end it was fixed. At least, it's still holding. We'll see how long it lasts. There's something like a two year warranty on the work... $485 later. Just what I need right now, and unexpected expense. Next time I'll do it myself. Cheers!