Saturday, June 30, 2007


Well, we made it to Montgomery, AL, despite very heavy traffic on the interstates. And despite heavy showers from Victoria to Houston, and then intermittently the rest of the way.

We passed a LOT of folks pulled over by other folks who have flashing red and blue lights on top of their cars. Fortunately I was not one of those pulled over. I say fortunately, because although I was "going with the flow" of traffic, there were a number of times when the flow was going along at about 10 miles over the posted limit. Heck, I was pulling a trailer (camper). I certainly wasn't hot-rodding around.

All is well, so far. Tomorrow begins our three days of golfing heaven (weather permitting). Not much else to tell. Or that I'm WILLING to tell.

Like Kenju says, "Imagine what I'm leaving out!"

Later, all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Alabama - Reprise

For all of you long-time readers... Remember last year around the 4th of July holiday? Carol and I took our camper to Montgomery, Alabama and played golf at Capitol Hills, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail site in Prattville, near Montgomery.

If you don't remember, doesn't matter. Point is, we're doing the same thing again this year!

I'm working tomorrow, but then taking vacation Friday through July 4. We'll drive to Alabama, set up "camp," (running water, air conditioning, wi-fi, the works!), play unlimited golf for three days at a pro-quality venue consisting of three 18-hole courses all at a fixed "summer special" price, and then drive home again. Ahhhhhh!

I may get to blog and read blogs while we're there, or not. But don't worry. As Governor Arnold S. always says, "I'll be back." Hopefully to soon regale you with tales of the wild links, wildlife, (and maybe some wild life of our own!)

Hey, we're old but we're not dead, y'know?

So, later, dudes and dudettes. Hasta la vista, baby! "FORE!"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Green Heron Update

Remember the baby green herons? The ones all covered with baby fuzz Carol found in the bush?

You know. . .these guys:

(Refer back to my post of June 6 if you don't remember.)

We read that within 35 days of hatching, these birds are big enough to fly off on their own. Hard to believe!

Well, just three weeks after that picture above was taken, here's what they look like now.

No Kidding! If you zoom in real close you can still see the baby fuzz on top of his head!

We won't be going back to the golf course for two weeks, so by the next time we're there we probably won't see any more green herons. At least not from this brood, unless they decide to stick around for the summer.

And they might, because the hunting is pretty good in all the water hazards around the course.

We'll let you know.

Friday, June 22, 2007

You Can’t Be Too Careful

Everybody says so, right? It’s only logical.

I say: Horse Manure!

This is one of those little things that get under my skin. Somebody at work made that comment today, and I jumped on it.

“Oh,” I said, “so you advocate lowering the highway speed limit to, oh, about 3 mph? Statistically, anything higher will lead to injuries and deaths. So, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get somewhere, as long as you’re careful to the extreme. Because you just said, ‘You can’t be too careful.’”

“No,” was the reply. “That’s ridiculous. The speed limit is set as a safe maximum. If you drive no faster, you’re being careful.”

“But are you being careful enough? People get killed driving the speed limit. And driving a lot slower, too. Are they being careful enough? After all, aren’t ALL accidents preventable?”

He thought for a bit. “No, they’re not. Because no matter how careful you are, some things are beyond your control.”

I pressed in. “So to avoid being hurt or killed you ought to stay off the roads altogether? If you’re being REALLY careful?”

He thought again. “Okay. I guess some risks are necessary. If you were careful in the extreme, you’d never do anything. Is that your point?”

Anxious not to appear smug, I conceded, “I understand what you meant. People shouldn’t take needless risks, or risks that don’t have a reasonable chance of having a good outcome. And yes, we all need to be careful. But if you really believed that ‘you can’t be too careful,’ you’d quit breathing and die. Because even breathing or moving is accompanied by some risk.”

He smiled and said, “Damned literalist!”

I grinned. “Yup.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trimmer update!

Good news! In my attempt to make my string weed-trimmer run, I'd cleaned the wrong parts.

The shop mechanic told me the exhaust system (muffler) was plugged up, not the air cleaner or spark plug as I had suspected.

So no parts were bought, and only a half-hour of labor was charged for the cleaning. It runs good as new now!

(And Karyn had the nerve to accuse me of keeping items far past their normal useful life!)

Of course, next week the trimmer head will probably fall off when the rusted-through shaft breaks, but I'll get another week out of it!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For Jan

(Note: This is in response to Jan’s comment on my previous post.)

Dear, dear Jan,

(SIGH . . .)

I’m really not surprised. I mean, I’m constantly running across people who don’t understand, haven’t “seen the light,” fail to grasp the global—nay, universal—nature of this phenomenon. People who for some inexplicable reason can’t seem to process what their senses tell them and put it all together.

You have indeed "joined the party late." That’s not your fault! I can’t really blame you for NOT checking out all of Schnoodlepooh’s blogroll, especially since my space here is called “Romantic Ramblings,” which sounds as if it has nothing at all to do with dogs.

So, at the risk of unleashing a new wave of terror upon the world, I shall forthwith initiate you.

(Forgive me, please, if I whisper a bit. I’ve found that sometimes—not often, but occasionally—the ycaripsnoc does not seem to become activated by a soft whisper (or occasional sdrawkcab spelling) of its name.

The formal name of this phenomenon is Resistentialism. (It’s a real word. Look it up.) And all my regular readers know that it exists. Some people tend to laugh it off by little sayings, such as, “Bad things always happen in sets of threes,” or, “It never rains but it pours,” . . . things like that. They just don’t understand the insidious nature of the problem.

Well, here it is:

Simply put, all so-called inanimate objects are linked together by a natural tendency to break, fail, or otherwise malfunction at the worst possible time so as to cause humans the maximum amount of expense and inconvenience. Surely, if you think about it, you've noticed this? Of course you have.

Well, there’s more! These objects COMMUNICATE! With each other! Both of like and unlike kinds!

Example: two years ago the cold water supply line under my master bathroom sink just came apart one morning when no one was even in the bathroom, let alone using the water! I happened to be nearby (it was a Saturday morning), heard the roaring, spraying water, and managed to get the supply to the house shut off before all my carpets were soaked.

Okay, I fixed (replaced) that line along with its twin on the hot water side. But the plumbing wasn’t through with me. Oh, no! Next, the guest bathroom toilet began leaking around the wax ring on the floor. Then, after Michelle (“southernbelle” from South Arfica) warned me, based on her own experiences, to be careful of garden taps outside, one of our hoses that we use to water the back yard burst, narrowly missing soaking Carol.

I then went through problems with house wiring, two kitchen appliances, my commute-to-work car, and (of course) my computer! (Some have theorized that computers are really the "brains" or the controlling force behind these outbreaks, especially since they seem to be cantankerous and irritating by nature, but I think it's something deeper and more devious!)

As I detailed these problems on this blog, my faithful readers (BOTH of them, mind you!) related that THEY were experiencing similar breakage and failures. By alerting them to the issue, it seemed I was causing the problems to spread like wildfire! Around the world! Peter has documented its existence in Australia. Rob has done so in the UK. I tell you, this thing is EVERYWHERE!

We determined that the (ahem) "inanimate" objects communicate through the electrical wiring or the pipes in the house, and thence through the electrical and plumbing grids to the rest of the world. What about cars, you ask? Well, cars have radios! So there you are!

Anyway, we began calling this phenomenon (forgive my whisper) “the Conspiracy.” It will wait quietly, seemingly dormant (or perhaps actually resting and gathering strength) until SOMETHING sets it off! That "something" might be just a mention of its name, or cosmic forces caused by sunspots. We don’t know for sure, but it always comes back and no one is immune from it!

We ARE sure of its existence, and its nearly Satanic power! It can bankrupt a person if it gets out of control, causing the replacement of many expensive items all at once (or over a short period of weeks).

So BEWARE the “C.” Mention it at your extreme peril.

I only bring it up from time to time as a public service to my readers. Especially when a new outpouring of its wrath seems imminent or in progress.

(Or when I’ve been off my meds for a few days.)

Yours in hopes the "C" will leave you alone for a time,


(Where ARE those damned pills?!)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is it starting again?

A few weeks ago my 15-year-old riding lawn mower bit the dust.

Why do I have a riding lawn mower? Because I'm a wimp? Well... there's that. And, I live where it's really hot in the summer (which lasts from April through October most years.) And my house is built on a 2/3 acre lot, which took three hours or more to mow with the walk-behind mower I started out with.

Anyway, the blade housing had rusted through a year ago, and I had patched it with a piece of sheet metal and some duct tape. But then I drove it across the water-meter casing lid in the front yard, just as I had done at least 500 times before. But this time the front wheel caused the meter lid to tilt up, and the paper-thin blade housing hit it.


The blade housing was bent back interfering with the blade. I was able to bend it clear, like pulling your front fender away from the tire when you've crunched into something so you can drive your crippled car away from the scene of the wreck. A new blade housing would cost $400 (!!). Plus the mower needed new tires, a new blade, and other parts.

I replaced the mower. Gave away the old one to a man who said he'd like to try to patch it up and get some more use out of it. Spent well over $2,000 to get a nice, hydrostatic drive, zero turn radius Cub Cadet. Heck, in past years I've spent less than that for a car!

But it's a REALLY NICE mower! I'm going to take very good care of this one, and try to make it last a loo-oo-oo-ong time. It runs faster than the old one, and has a wider cut, so I can mow the whole lawn -- front, back, and sides -- in about one hour!

But then this past weekend, my string trimmer started running rough and didn't have enough power to cut the thicker weeds around the edges of the fence. My fancy new mower gets fairly close to the edges, but I have to use the trimmer to get a really nice, finished look.

I tried cleaning the air cleaner. I cleaned the spark plug. I dumped out the fuel and mixed up some new gas and oil mixture. It starts, and it runs, but it has no power.

Today I took it to a shop to get it fixed. It'll be ready, they tell me, in about two to three weeks. Okay, fine.

But this is making me wonder . . . what's next? The car? Maybe one of my home appliances?

After this long peaceful period during which I have forborne from mentioning the "C" word, is it rearing it's ugly head?

Well, what do you think? Are YOU being affected? Is it time to warn everyone again?

Or should I just keep quiet?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Different day - different game

No 39 today. 45 on the front 9, and 47 on the back. About average for me. (We're talking golf, in case you didn't read yesterday's post.)

But, no rain today! And there was a breeze for most of the round. All in all, a pretty good Fathers' Day.

(And thanks to those of you who commented or emailed good wishes for the day!)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relief -- sort of

From the heat, for a while. Very temporary.

As usual on a Saturday afternoon, Carol and I were on the golf course. We had played the first 9 holes in typical early summer conditions: temps in the 90s, very high humidity, and (worst of all) almost no wind. My shirt was wet and I was towelling my face several times each hole.

Towering cumulo-nimbus clouds were visible in the distance in several directions. I had been watching them to determine which direction they were moving. Looked like south-to-north.

Carol gets irritated when she notices me watching the clouds. Like she thinks that I'll bring the rain if I look for it. She gets especially irritated when I predict, "That one over there looks like it's going to get us."

She'll say sarcastically, "Well, do you want to go home now? I mean, if you think it's going to rain on us we might as well leave."

I knew better, but since I'm the forgetful type I made the comment, pointing at a building cloud mass to the south of us and a little to the west. She made her predictable reply, and I apologized. "No, let's keep playing. It might go around us to the east. Or it might not keep building up."

She gave me a look, and turned toward the next tee box. I then remembered to sneak glances at the clouds only when she was addressing the ball.

By four holes later, half-way through the back nine, the entire southern half of the sky had turned menacingly dark, and low rumbles of distant thunder were getting very frequent. As we played the fifth hole the leading edge of the cloud mass passed over us giving us some blessed relief from the blazing sun. Then the cool downdraft wind hit us. Ahhhhh!

We walked off the green toward the sixth tee, thinking we might get in one more hole before we had to seek shelter. Carol hit first; her best drive of the day -- long down the middle with a slight draw. Then the golf course staff blew the air horn signaling all golfers to clear the course. Lightning was approaching.

We walked in while our playing companions Ruth and Donnie drove their cart to the shed.

There's always another day, and usually I don't mind having a round interrupted by weather. Today was different. I had shot a 39 on the front nine. Six pars and three bogeys. I NEVER shoot under 40, and rarely shoot under 45.

I wasn't doing quite as well on the back, so maybe the rain prevented me from ruining what had started out as a memorable round. If nothing else, it provided us about 15 minutes of cool breeze. That was welcome.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How hot???

Oh, roughly 96 degrees in the shade. In my backyard! (You've heard of NIMBY? Well, this is IMBY.)
At 5:00 p.m.
I don't care what the calendar says, I think summer has arrived.
(But just wait until August!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vicarious adventure

I had to go to Austin (again) for a day of meetings yesterday. This was my third trip to the Texas capital city this year. I drove up the night before and stayed at the downtown Omni hotel. A classy establishment (read: pricey).

Having become familiar with Badabing’s Badaboom’s seemingly routine bizarre/humorous adventures at various hotel bars while on his business travels, I thought I’d check out the bar scene at the Omni. I spent an hour there nursing a Corona, waiting for something to happen.

I came to a conclusion. Either Badabing knows enough to go to hotel bars where’s the action is, or he has a much better technique than I do for finding interesting experiences to write about.

Other than myself and the guy I was attending the meetings with there were only two other patrons in the whole place. They, like us, were engrossed in the wide-screen TV over the bar tuned to the Spurs second game in the NBA finals. (It was the second quarter, and the Spurs were walking all over the poor Cavs).

In retrospect, I realized that it WAS a Sunday night after all. Plus, our hotel was only two blocks from Austin’s 6th street, which is probably the live music bar and entertainment capital of the capital. So if there WAS any action worth writing about, it was probably happening a very few blocks away.

My meetings the following day were likewise predictable in their lack of exciting content. The best part of the work-day was getting out by 4:00 pm and beating the infamous Austin rush hour traffic out of town.

But the smartest thing I did on the entire trip was stop for carryout Italian food at a Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurant on my way out of town. Carol was quite happy to see me get out of the car two hours later with the large distinctive carryout bag in hand.

So in the future, I’ll get my hotel bar thrill vicariously from Badabing. Probably better that way. And a LOT less expensive.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thanks, Mike!

From Hale McKay, AKA the Pointmeister.

(These are, uncannily, almost real! I mean, I've seen the proof of these in person!)

The Laws Of Golfing

LAW 1: No matter how bad your last shot was, the worst is yet to come. This law does not expire on the 18th hole, since it has the supernatural tendency to extend over the course of a tournament, a summer and, eventually, a lifetime.

LAW 2: Your best round of golf will be followed almost immediately by your worst round ever. The probability of the latter increases with the number of people you tell about the former.

LAW 3: Brand new golf balls are water-magnetic. Though this cannot be proven in the lab, it is a known fact that the more expensive the golf ball, the greater its attraction to water.

LAW 4: Golf balls never bounce off of trees back into play. If one does, the tree is breaking a law of the universe and should be cut down.

LAW 5: No matter what causes a golfer to muff a shot, all his playing partners must solemnly chant "You looked up," or invoke the wrath of the universe.

LAW 6: The higher a golfer's handicap, the more qualified he deems himself as an instructor.

LAW 7: Every par-three hole in the world has a secret desire to humiliate golfers. The shorter the hole, the greater its desire.

LAW 8: Topping a 3-iron is the most painful torture known to man.

LAW 9: Palm trees eat golf balls.

LAW 10: Sand is alive. If it isn't, how do you explain the way it works against you?

LAW 11: Golf carts always run out of juice at the farthest point from the clubhouse.

LAW 12: A golfer hitting into your group will always be bigger than anyone in your group. Likewise, a group you accidentally hit into will consist of a football player, a professional wrestler, a convicted murderer and an IRS agent -- or some similar combination.

LAW 13: All 3-woods are demon-possessed.

LAW 14: Golf balls from the same "sleeve" tend to follow one another, particularly out of bounds or into the water. (See Law three)

LAW 15: A severe slice is a thing of awesome power and beauty.

LAW 16: "Nice lag" can usually be translated to "lousy putt." Similarly, "tough break" can usually be translated "way to miss an easy one, sucker."

LAW 17: The person you would most hate to lose to will always be the one who beats you.

LAW 18: The last three holes of a round will automatically adjust your score to what it really should be.

LAW 19: Golf should be given up at least twice per month.

LAW 20: All vows taken on a golf course shall be valid only until the sunset of the same day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Baby Green Herons

This is a green heron flying. Note the long neck.

This is a mama green heron watching her nest nearby. Note that her neck is NOT extended. (How do they DO that?)

Here she is again, watching the nest VERY closely. Why, you ask?

Well, take a look...

The nest was deep in a bushy tree hanging out over the water. Thus it was very hard to spot, much less to photograph through the branches, leaves, and the grape vine that intertwined.

Take a closer look. I'm only showing three below, but we counted five.

That guy in the back stretched his neck out for a better look at Carol.

Just LOOK at those necks!

When mama made a noise that sounded like a cross between a "cluck" and a "gulp" (weird noise!) the babies became very still in the nest. It must have been a warning call.

We have no idea how old these were, but they were fuzzy little critters.

Cute, no?

We noticed that when mama wasn't around, the kids, though they could not fly at all, would get out of the nest and climb around in the tree.

How did they keep from falling? Like this...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bambi revisited

In Job 39:1-2, God asks Job, "Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth?"

Well, I know that around here it's usually in May and June.

How? Because every year at our local golf course, that's when the new fawns appear.

No interview this time, just some pictures. (This little guy wasn't old enough to talk yet.)

Not very steady on his feet.

Psalm 42:1 "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God."

A little shade is a good thing.

Doin' the Moon Walk?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My first YouTube try

I think this is funny.

Okay, it's because he is my two-year-old grandson. So sue me for being proud.

The video quality is horrible, because I had to convert it from one format to another, and I'm still learning the YouTube parameters. I'll get better (I hope).

But if you can stand to watch it for the first three minutes you'll be laughing, and I'll bet you'll keep watching till the end.

Try it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Interview with a squirrel (with an attitude)

(The four-legged variety of squirrel, that is.)

Romantic Ramblings: Hello! Excuse me, Mr. Squirrel... Do you have time to answer a few questions?

Squirrel (Speaking very fast in a squeaky voice): What? You talkin’ to ME? A few questions? Yeah, I know all about your questions. But have you got time for my answers? That’s what I want to know!

I mean, I saw you talking to that big white bird over there, and takin’ his pictures and all. He thinks he’s pretty special, doesn’t he? He’s always got his big nose way up in the air, on the end of that long neck of his.

And I heard all that crap about his imitations of angels and airplanes and stuff. Ha! Birds always think they’re so high and mighty. A bunch of bird-brains, I say. And they can’t do half the things somebody like ME can do.

You think he's flexible? Oh, yeah, his neck will tie in a knot (which is knot a bad idea... Ha! Get it? “KNOT” a bad idea? Hahahahaha!)

Anyway, I can do better stuff than THAT!

I mean, come on! He doesn’t even have any teeth. If you gave him a nut, do you think he could eat it? No way!

Oh, sure, he can catch little fish and eat them, but who would want to? Then he takes off, tucks that long neck in tight, and flaps off like he’s so proud of himself.

And he calls himself a “GREAT Egret!” Oh, bro-THER!

Now, you wanna talk about nimble? We squirrels are nimble! We can climb like no other creature on earth.

And we’re smart! We hide the nuts we don’t need right away by burying them in the ground. And then, later, we find them by smelling them out. Do you think a big bird could do that?

RR: Why thank you for all that information. But I’d like to ask you some questions—

Squirrel: HEY! Don’t interrupt! It’s rude, dude! Now, as I was saying . . . What WAS I saying, anyway? You derailed my train of thought.

Oh, yeah, I remember. Sometimes we leave those nuts buried a long time, and you know what happens? They sprout and become trees! We plant more trees than all you humans ever thought about planting.

You’re so proud of Johnny Appleseed. Ha! He was a piker compared to us!

And if I ever catch one of you big people cutting DOWN any of those trees I plant... Well, I’ll just punch him in the mouth!

I’m real strong for my size! You want a piece of me, buster? Huh? DO you?

Oh, yeah, and you talk about balance. You humans think you’re so great because you stand up on two legs. Well, you’re not the ONLY ones who can do that!

Heck, I could stand here all day if I wanted to!

Oh, yeah, and getting back to that big white bird. You kept gushing about all the control he had, and his “feather definition.” B-i-g DEAL!

Have you seen what we squirrels can do with our tails? We can fluff them out, or make them look thin.

And if, say, a mockingbird (now THERE’s a REALLY stupid bird. You know those mockingbirds; all they do is fly and hop around and make noise. LOTS of noise! And they never have anything original to say, they’re just saying what the other birds say. Whatever they hear, they repeat. Dumb, really dumb!)

Anyway, like I was tellin' ya, if a mockingbird tries to dive-bomb me I can fluff out my tail and hold it over my back and head so he can’t peck me! Even when I run for cover! I’d like to see that egret cover himself with HIS little tail!

And speaking of running for cover, did you know I can go from flat on the ground to the top of this tree in about 15 seconds? And I can run around the trunk with my head up, or down, or sideways – makes no difference.

I can even cling to a tiny little branch like this.

See? No problem! I can just wrap my fingers around and hold on.

So you see? There’s no way a hawk can catch me—or a cat or weasel or anything else—as long as there’s a tree around.

So, anyway, I hope that’s answered all your questions because I’m pretty busy right now and haven’t got time to just hang out and chit-chat, y’know?

I mean, YOU may have time to cruise around and talk to those stupid birds, but I’VE got things to do. So, later gator, and all that.

RR: But. . . Mr. Squirrel. I wanted to ask you some questions. . .

Squirrel: Hey, buster! Chill out! What part of “I’M BUSY” don’t you understand?

You know what those ads for Radio Shack say... “You’ve got questions—we’ve got answers?” So go call a Radio Shack!

(Scurries up the tree and out of sight.)