Connected through time and space


I hammered this together with a couple of nails to hold it while I attached the bolts.

…and a couple of well placed nails.

Sometimes I just want to use a nail. It’s been decades now that I and many others have been using screws and drills to attach and build everything. It’s so easy — just zip, zip, buzz, buzz, click, click and it all goes together nice and tight and sturdy. It’s faster than nails. It’s more secure than nails. It’s easier to remove than nails (as long as you don’t strip the heads, of course).

But sometimes I miss nails. Building things with nails is one of the connections I have with the past and with my father who died in 1995. He was a civil engineer and when I was growing up in rural Louisiana we built many things together — with nails, but also with lag screws and carriage bolts and cables and chains. I loved drilling the holes with the brace and bit in addition to driving the nails.

I know screws and nail guns are nice but I enjoy the directness and the not-having-to-be-plugged-in-ness of attaching something with a couple of nails. Not having to depend on electricity is a big part of what I like. Dad and I could build things anywhere — out in a field somewhere, by the pond, in the woods. Availability of electrical power was one thing that was never even on our minds.

So today when I added a little extra support to my workshop in my ninety-three year old garage, I thought about the way I used to do it as a kid and just for fun I used some of the old tools. It was just a few nails, a couple of holes and some cuts with the hand saw. The best part, though, was that I felt my dad there with me the whole time.

We had a great time.

This old brace and bit can still the simple jobs done pretty darn quick.

This old brace and bit can still get the simple jobs done pretty darn quick.

Bliss done right

Charlie gives me another lesson in a blissful way to spend the afternoon.

Charlie gives me another lesson in a blissful way to spend the afternoon.

Cats have this wonderful way of actively sleeping, working so hard at resting and yet still achieving it in a natural way. It never seems forced. My favorite thing about resting cats is the sense of calm that they impart on me. Their bliss becomes my bliss.

Charlie's relaxed repose becomes my bliss.

Charlie’s relaxed repose becomes my bliss.

Results are in, Spring still my favorite season

I was thinking of putting "Your Ad Here" on the stone next to my rain gauge.

I was thinking of putting “Your Ad Here” on the stone next to my rain gauge.

Much of what I think about water these days has to do with rain. When I grew up in south Louisiana, I took water for granted. It rained a lot, we lived right next to a bayou and there was water nearby in every direction.

Now I appreciate every drop. Gardening viability, tree health, drinking water supplies — these things are on my mind frequently. The first real post on this blog was about rain.

This is a rain gauge that Julie gave me for our anniversary. Who knew that 21 years is frog yard art! So far I’ve been very glad to see this little garden helper get plenty of action. The frog seems okay with it too.

This frog and I love the same things - being in the garden and rain.

This always ready frog and I love the same things – being in the garden and rain.

Critter Avenue


Critter Avenue
Down past the feral cat village and the compost pile lies the bamboo grove. The mysterious path, best navigated if you are less than a foot tall, winds on down Critter Avenue past the tree where the pair of Great Horned Owls share their song on even the darkest of nights. In the daytime hawks and crows cast unfriendly glances toward each other and each evening the possums and raccoons hurry along in route to the scroungers buffet. Who knows what else traverses this urban nature passage…

This path is an urban wildlife thoroughfare.

This path is an urban wildlife thoroughfare.


Time to just jump in

One thing about this blog that I need to make clear (probably most of all to myself), is that it a part of what I am doing is learning, experimenting and exploring. So in my stubborn way, I’m currently enrolled in the WordPress Blogging U. Writing 101 class for the third time, hoping to further my communication skills and thus increase the quality of this blog.

The kind of communication that I’m interested in is dialogue — probably because I’m not much of an expert on anything. So I figure we can at least talk about it, right? One thing about blogs, though, if the blogger isn’t speaking then they won’t have much luck finding anyone who wants to talk  to them. 

I can be a very thorough and detailed person, wanting to follow all the steps of any project I’m working on and unfortunately this has been my downfall in my previous attempts at taking Writing 101. I always come up against that one assignment that holds me up. And since I get stuck there, that is where I stay. Then I get into this painful spiral of watching the assignments come in each day, sometimes thinking, “Oh boy, I could really knock that one right out!” but never moving past my sticking point on the previous assignment.

At least two things about this are a very sad comment on my psyche. One is that this doesn’t matter much in the huge scheme of things. There are no grades, the feedback is unfailingly positive and encouraging and this is just something that I wanted to do in the first place. The very fact that I do any of the assignments at all makes this a success on some level — it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some who sign up for these courses and never give it another thought. I know from other Blogging U. courses that not being able to finish a particular exercise or skipping around or spending more time on something hard is just fine. There are no stocks and rotten veggies waiting for me in the town square.

The second sad thing about not completing these courses is that the sticking assignment has never been one that was too difficult or that I couldn’t think of anything to do. Every time it has been one where I immediately had ideas and could have finished easily if I had just jumped in — but those assignments that have held me up were ones that I could see multiple ways to approach. It wasn’t a lack of inspiration, it was the inability to just pick one idea and work on it. And that is probably a sad state of mental affairs more worthy of the stocks and rotten fruit than simply being too busy to complete the course.

I enjoy writing. I enjoy communication and dialogue with fellow bloggers. I try to approach these assignments with a willingness to learn and improve. And that is why I have decided to just dive in.

It's nice that no one will mind if I do a belly flop

It’s nice that no one will mind if I do a belly flop

There’s always a choice

When I got home from work, Julie was waiting for me. She had a sheepish look on her face and we both smiled at each other. As she told me that she had done something and wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, I already knew exactly what she was talking about. She told me to follow her into the back yard and she would show me.

As I went out the back door, I spotted the pet carrier in the yard and my knowledge was confirmed. I knew that the momma cat that no one was able to catch had just had another litter and that Julie was going to go check it out that day. That’s why I knew the moment I walked in the house and saw her face that we had just gotten ourselves a new kitten. What I didn’t know yet was how much this cat would become a part of my life.

What's not to love about this little tiger.

What’s not to love about this little tiger.

I stepped into the yard and this tiny blue eyed kitten came running towards me. He seemed to be smiling at me and Julie told me that she had named him Wiley. I liked the name and I loved the cat — it was love at first sight. This tiny creature had more personality ounce for ounce than anything I had ever seen. That very moment that I first saw him, my choice was made. I said to Julie, “We are keeping this cat!”

She wanted to know if  I was sure and whether or not I was just being accommodating, but I assured her that the choice had been made and it was real. With this kitten, I was totally smitten.

Wiley and I bonded immediately. Every morning  I would get up and mix some kitten food and water and watch him lap it up with his front paws inside the food. I had to wipe him off after meal. Every time I sat down on the couch (and a few other places too), he would jump into my lap. It became a daily ritual and it went on for over 14 years. I had to have my Wiley time and he had to have his Karl time. For much of his life, he would come running whenever I called him — not necessarily normal for the independently minded feline.

He was my little buddy and he has brought me much comfort in my life. A few years ago I was giving a presentation to about 200 people (on a subject I knew well) and my entire preparation consisted of sitting with Wiley in my lap for 30 minutes and listening to him purr. I have never been closer to any creature of a species different than mine.

Now I am faced with another choice concerning Wiley and this one is not so easy. Wiley is terminally ill and I am faced with the decision to let him go. He doesn’t appear to be suffering but he is headed down a short road of no return. That is certain. Our vet will come to our house so that Wiley’s last moments can be here in his comfortable surroundings and not in the cold, clinical atmosphere of the doctor’s office (which has always been very stressful for Wiley).

Last night at work, I thought of Wiley and thought about what his life is like right now and the light finally came on in my mind. When there is a humane way out, am I keeping him around for him or me? The answer was clear. After all he has brought to my life, I owe him this.

So once again the choice concerning Wiley is made. It’s time to let my little buddy go.

Wiley in his prime

Wiley in his prime