Recent Entries to this Blog Another Garden Lesson
Posted: 15 Dec 2019
Posted: 11 Oct 2019
For The Love of Cows
Posted: 10 Jun 2019
A Family Adventure
Posted: 03 Jun 2019
RV Living
Posted: 17 May 2019

All Entries

The Eclectic Garden

Making a little bit of everything look just right.

Another Garden Lesson

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:07 pm

I planted two rows of onioins in my garden yesterday. This is a big deal to me for two reasons:
1) It's the first garden that I've started since the hurricane forced us off of our property in 2017.
2) It's the first time that I've actually felt excited about starting a garden since probably 2015.

I always used to love working in the garden, but somewhere along the line it lost its lustre and I simply started going through the motions. It became more of a chore than a leisure activity and I got to where I was doing it because that was what I had always done, not because I really wanted to. It wasn't until I lost the opportunity to garden that I actually started to appreciate it again.

Hmm... I feel a life lesson coming on here.

We do the very same thing throughout our time on this earth. We fail to appreciate something that is right in front of us because we allow our senses to be dulled by the routines of life. Ask yourself these questions, "Is there something, or someone, that you are taking for granted? How would you feel if that something, or someone, were taken away? Has your daily routine become so mundane that you are failing to recognize the beauty around you?"

Those are piercing questions, but ones that I think we should contemplate. It's funny to me that sometimes, no most times, my deepest life lessons have come from gardening. There's just something about digging around in the dirt that brings about an appreciation of life and all that it has to offer.

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Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:23 pm

A few months ago one of my co-workers came across a stray dog on the side of the road. She has a heart for dogs and couldn’t just leave him there, so she brought him home with the intention of finding his owners. Unfortunately, no one came forward so she set out to find him a good home. Marion County was absolutely no help at all because the dog wasn’t chipped. Her problems were compounded by the fact that she had found the dog and couldn’t claim ownership. Needless to say, three months later, despite not being the owner, she still has him.

Her ordeal was still fresh in my mind when my wife showed up the other day with a little Jack Russell that she had found on the roadside. Now, I don’t want any dog to go without a home, but we already have two of our own and we are currently living in an RV. It’s not like we have a lot of extra room. The dog was dirty, seemed to be injured and was definitely old. Where my wife saw a poor, helpless animal that was hurt and needed attention, my mind immediately went to the worst case scenario. Dollar signs flashed in front of my eyes like mini strobe lights and, I hate to admit it, but I got angry that she had picked this hapless creature up. To make matters worse, she had a class that she was running late for so she said, “Can you take care of her for a couple of hours until I get back?”

Suddenly, I was at home by myself, taking care of a dog that I didn’t want, wondering how it all happened.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my stories that I am more of an animal tolerater than I am an animal lover. The last thing I wanted to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was take care of a dirty, stray dog. For all of you animal lovers out there let me reassure you that I could never hurt an animal so she wasn’t mistreated in any way. In fact, inside the RV I did my best to make her comfortable. She drank some water and looked up at me with big dog eyes as if to say, “Thanks.” She was a gentle, loveable dog, but the dollar signs were still strobing in my peripherals in anticipation of the vet bills that were sure come and I still wasn’t sure what to do about putting her with our other two dogs.

I looked on Facebook and found the LOST AND FOUND PETS OF OCALA/MARION COUNTY FLORIDA page. Once I was granted privileges I posted a picture, a description of the dog and where we found her.

The very first response I got was an introduction to a world that is waaay outside of my comfort zone. It read:
“SWP and HOPE for this precious little furbaby so heartbreaking”.

First, I’m not even sure what SWP means. Second, I had no idea that adults, or anyone for that matter, referred to dogs as furbabies. My mind was still trying to comprehend this when my phone rang. It was my wife and she was having a bad case of vertigo. It was so bad that she couldn’t drive back home, so I had to put the little dog in our spare kennel and go pick her up. She went into the kennel without a fuss and once again pierced my soul with those big, thankful eyes.

When I finally got the chance to look at Facebook again the excited owner of the dog had reached out to me. The dog’s name was Pixie and the owner’s husband had been riding up and down the highway trying to find her. So, shortly thereafter a grateful husband and his son came to our home to pick her up. We didn’t have a chance to be with her for long, but little Pixie made a lasting impression on me.

A funny result of all this is the response that has been given on the Facebook post. For a person who simply tolerates animals for the sake of his family I was suddenly made to look like a hero. Since I posted that Pixie found her way home over 90 people have either responded with comments or likes. One person wrote:
“…thank you to the finder for getting her to safety, posting and reuniting!”

My wife rolled her eyes at that one because she knows the truth of the situation. Honestly, she is the one who was the hero in all of this, not me. She saved her from the dangers of the highway while I reluctantly took little Pixie inside and then posted for purely selfish reasons because I didn’t want to be stuck with another animal and the costs associated with it.

Looking back, I’m finding that I was wrong about that. There’s something to be said about a heart that beats for animals. Perhaps I have kept my heart a little too shielded from the love and joy that can come from loving a dog. Maybe I should lighten up and start really accepting the unconditional love that our pets give us every single day. Who knows, maybe one day soon I’ll start referring to our dogs as “furbabies”.

Somehow though, I’m drawn back to the words of that great philosopher and theologian Mr. Grinch, “Too much, too fast.”

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For The Love of Cows

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:55 am

I can't believe some of the things that I have done for my children. This is not a complaint, or an expression of regret; it is more a statement of wonder than anything else. Let me give you an example:

When my daughter was probably ten or so, we had an incident where my cousin's pregnant cow became sick. The vet was called out and they did what they could, but the next morning when we looked out in the field the poor thing was dead. My daughter, who has a heart for animals, ran out to check on the cow and came back excitedly, " I saw the baby kick Daddy, you gotta do something to help it!"

Now, I seriously doubted that the baby had actually kicked, but she kept pleading and begging with me until I made my way out into the field with her.

When we got there it was obvious that rigormortis had set in. The legs were stiff and the eyes were nothing but glassy orbs staring blankly off into space. I tried to explain to her that she could not have seen the baby move, that the cow had died in the night and the baby with it, but she could not bring herself to believe it and insisted that she saw movement in the dead cow's stomach area. There was no consoling her. In her mind the baby was in danger and we were in a race against time to save it. She pleaded through teary eyes, "You gotta do something Daddy!"

A decision had to me made. Should I walk away, knowing that I was right? Or should I do something to prove it to my daughter? It was an easy decision.

I ran back to the house and came back with the sharpest knife that I could find. Then, I knelt down by the stiff and lifeless cow, placed the knife against it's hide and proceeded to do my first, and last, cow Cesarean section.

I wish that I could say that it was an easy operation, but you have to know that I am not a cow expert. In fact, if there were a cow hater's club then I would belong to it. In addition, to be perfectly honest, I had no clue what I was doing and, to make matters worse, the knife was not as sharp as I had hoped.

The hot morning sun started to bear down and a bead of salty sweat found its way over my eyebrows and into my eyes. I wiped it away and began to cut at the place I thought the baby should be. After a few minutes it was clear that I had managed to locate the stomach.

I tried again in a different area, cutting the tough hide away, all the while listening to my daughters pleas of, "Please hurry Daddy, please hurry."

After about fifteen minutes, I finally found what I thought was the right place, but then the blade of the knife hit the bladder, and a flow of urine flooded over my knife and hand. My stomach heaved and I had to stand up to get away from from the disgusting smell. Let me add that this was not the first smell that had sent my stomach into convulsions.

I was ready to give up, but I somehow managed to press on. I got back to work, and eventually found the right place. I peeled the hide back to the point where I could see the calf inside through the sheer wall of the birth sack. I actually found myself hoping beyond hopes that it was alive, but it was not to be.

I cut the sack open and pulled out the baby, a stream of fluids and smells coming along with it. My daughter saw the lifeless calf and was finally convinced that it was dead. She cried even harder.

I look back on that situation and, even though it was gross and disgusting, I believe that I did the right thing. A father needs to be a hero in his children's eyes, and that day, despite the queasy stomach and the fact that I couldn't eat for the rest of the week, I felt like a hero to my daughter.

But, if the situation arises again... she's going to have to do it herself.

Last edited: Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:11 pm

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A Family Adventure

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:22 am

Despite the fact that I am not an animal lover, it seems my life is forever intertwined with them. Here is something I wrote a number of years ago about one colorful animal adventure:

It was a nice day and we decided to take a family walk down our dirt lane. The lane runs beside a 30 acre tract of land where a local farmer keeps his cows. We were walking beside the cattle field when we noticed a cow on the verge of giving birth. She was standing up and we watched as the delivery took place. Like a sack of potatoes, the calf came out and plopped to the ground. After that, the mother walked away as if nothing had happened and just left it there. Normally, the mother cow cleans the calf off and then gently urges it to stand up, but this one didn't. Left where it was, on the ground and still in the birth sac, the calf would soon die.

My wife, knowledgeable in animal birth from our own experiences with goats, saw the calf was in danger right away. On the other hand, I was standing there dumb and happy, totally oblivious when she startled me with, "We've got to get it out of the sac!"

From the panic in her voice I knew something was wrong and I listened as she quickly explained the danger. She wanted to go out into the field, but there were a few obstacles in our path and, as often seems to be the case in times of animal emergencies, the job fell on me.

I climbed the cattle fence, crawled through the barbed wire fence and gently stepped through the underbrush and briars until finally making it to the fallen calf. The fact that I was wearing shorts and was barefooted made it just a tad difficult (and painful). After finally getting there, she yelled instructions to me from the fence line.

First, I had to break the sac open and clean around its mouth and nose. I swept my fingers inside of the mouth to clean out anything that might be blocking the airway. I won't go into detail other than to say it was slimy and disgusting. After that, the calf still was not breathing.

Next, I picked it up by the legs and swung it back and forth, trying to clear out its lungs and force it to start breathing. That didn't work either.

Finally, my wife yelled out, "You have to give it mouth to mouth!"

To which I responded, "What??!!"

"You have to get some air into its lungs!"

It was at this point that I regretted suggesting a walk down the lane. I really had no desire to put my mouth on the mouth of a calf that still had fresh afterbirth all over it.

I yelled back, "And how am I supposed to do that?"

"Cup your hands together, put them over its nose and blow."

That didn't sound quite so disgusting, but it still wasn't something that I wanted to do. Hesitantly, and with increasing anxiety, I got on my knees and took the calf's wet head into my lap. Then, I cupped my hands, placed them into position and started blowing. To my great
surprise, it worked and it wasn't long before the calf was breathing and moving around. About this time the mother strolled over as if to say, "Thanks for doing the dirty work, but I'll take it from here." I backed away and she started taking care of her baby.

I tip-toed back through the briars, crawled through the barbed wire fence and over the cattle fence to my excited family where I received a hero's welcome (just call me Mouth to Mouth Calf Resuscitation Man).

After basking in my fifteen minutes of fame, however, I went home, brushed my teeth for about ten minutes and took a long, hot shower.

Last edited: Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:46 pm

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RV Living

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 9:55 am

I mentioned in the previous post that we are currently living in an 36 foot fifth-wheel RV. This is totally by choice for two reasons:

1) My parents purchased a manufactured home and moved back onto the property and since we help take care of them we wanted to be close.

2) It's paid for. No rent!

Number 2 definitely helps us try a little harder. It certainly isn't a utopia and we are having to adjust in many ways, but it's just the two of us and we are trying to make it work.

My daughter came to visit for Mother's Day this past weekend and brought her two oldest boys, ages 4 & 5. The boys could hardly contain their excitement about "camping" at Mia and Opa's house. Actually, they didn't call it a house. They called it a "camping car". It's funny how their little minds think. They had a good time and the youngest cried when it was time to leave. Hopefully they can come back soon.

This blog entry has been viewed 151 times

Time For Healing

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 4:10 pm

I have been away from this site for quite a while. Hurricane Irma destroyed our home on September 11, 2017. I thought we were going through a disaster then, but in December of the same year we lost my wife's dad in the most tragic, senseless way imaginable. A prank phone call sent the police to his home in the early hours of the morning. All of the details aren't clear, but before it was over he was lying on his front porch with multiple gunshot wounds from an AR-15. He did not survive.

So, after that, the destroyed house didn't seem nearly as important. It has been a long 20 months and we are still in the process of healing in many ways. Just this week we moved back onto our property and are living in a 36 foot RV. I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen next, but we are taking it one day at a time. Maybe I can get back to gardening soon. Lord knows I could use its therapeutic effects.

Last edited: Tue May 07, 2019 4:21 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 153 times

My Dad

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:35 am

I don't like saying this, but I don't think my dad will be with us much longer. He has kidney problems and they have been slowly shutting down. He sleeps the vast majority of the day and hardly drinks any water. We visited with him recently and he clearly wasn't with it mentally. He was born on October 11, 1936, so he just turned 81 last month. This isn't something that I want to prepare myself for, but I can't ignore the signs.

I wish I could say that I have a close relationship with my dad, but it's just not true. He's always been around, but we never really bonded as father and son. He coached my baseball team when I was a kid and I worked with him for nearly four years. In all that time I can't remember one really in depth conversation. I have no doubt that he loves me. Somehow we just never built a relationship. That's really a sad statement.

This blog entry has been viewed 243 times

Hurricane Joke

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:39 am

This isn't really a jokes, but something happened after the hurricane that have made me question the goodness of mankind.

We had an adjuster come out nearly two weeks ago. He took pictures and told us that he would let us know when he submitted his report to the insurance company. When we hadn't heard anything after nearly a week we started calling and finally found out that he quit before ever turning in our paperwork. In fact, he never turned in any of his claim paperwork. So, twelve days after the first adjuster came out we were at the house again talking to a new adjuster. Two weeks wasted! So frustrating. I blame the first adjuster for quitting, but I also blame the insurance company for not following up with his clients.

Last edited: Tue May 07, 2019 4:20 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 177 times

After The Hurricane

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:39 am

I feel like I have been in a time warp since Hurricane Irma hit us on September 11th. We are still dealing with the insurance, but I don't see how the house could be anything but totaled. When the tree fell onto the living room it shifted all of the rafters in the whole house, blew out the front picture window, knocked out the rear sliding glass door, bowed out the back porch windows and even separated all of the kitchen cabinets from the walls. The more I look at the house the more structure cracks I see. The building inspector told us to get what we needed and get out.

We had an insurance adjuster come out eleven days ago. He was super nice. He took pictures and told us that he was going to write everything up and send in the report. When we didn't hear back from him I started calling. I finally got through to him this past Saturday and he told me that the company had moved him out of the area and that we would be getting a different adjuster. I was shocked, disappointed and just a bit angry. I have since learned that he never even submitted his report. What in the world? So, today another adjuster is coming out. I just went back to work yesterday and now I have to take time off to deal with it.

To say that this whole ordeal has been a nightmare would be an understatement. The stress has been unbearable, family tensions are running high and everyone's emotions are on edge. I try to look at the good side and be thankful that no one got hurt. I try to think about how this could actually help my family financially but, to be honest, none of those things seem to help. I just want it to be over so that we can move on with our lives. One thing is certain, our lives will be different from here on out. My wife and I have both determined that we do not want to live in the same location that we were living before. There are painful, personal reasons that I don't wish to get into driving that. Hopefully, this visit from the insurance adjuster will start us on the road to recovery

This blog entry has been viewed 111 times

MRI Results

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:43 pm

So, all is well with my brain. My wife may disagree, but according to the doctor everything looks good with the gray matter. No signs of stroke. No abnormalities. Of course that is good news and I am thankful for it, but it doesn't explain the visual problems that I have been having. Seeing as how the opthamologist says my eyesight and eyeballs are in great shape I can't help but wonder what's causing it.

The doc says it could be stress. I can see that with my friend's death, my son moving to Canada and a stressful situation at work. Hmm... maybe I could eliminate one of those stressors by quitting my job. Somehow, I think that would only make things worse.

This blog entry has been viewed 270 times

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