“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby…”

I don’t like fakeness in people, in automobiles, or anything else.

Because of regulations, environmental concerns, auto makers do more with less.

Smaller engines, with fewer cylinder configurations, abound.

More economical, with the same power as before. Eco-friendly, the sound not the same, as before when big hulking V8’s ruled the road.

What about electric vehicles? Electric vehicles make little noise. For pedestrian safety, some electric vehicles have artificially generated noise.

Certain automakers pipe fake engine noises through radio speakers. Is this because of manufacturer’s inferiority complexes? Economical engines made wimpy sounds? Was that what the public wanted?

What’s with large fake chrome exhaust tips? Powerful dual exhausts on everything. Some had tiny exhaust pipes in them, some were all show and no go.

When I grew up in the sixties, neighborhood bicyclists had “Mattel, Vroom, hot Rodder Engines” attached to their bike frames. Turning a knob increased the volume and tempo of motorcycle noises–until the batteries ran down. I carried on with playing cards in the spokes.

My bike sounded mean. Motorcycle noises increased to a loud “braaap” the faster I rode. I don’t think I fooled anyone. It was pure fantasy. Will there come a time when automobile engine sounds can be chosen? Like smart phone ring tones. Available at extra cost–of course.

Freeze/Thaw

Emerged from the deep freeze, just a few days ago. It was below zero, with an ice storm, followed by two snow storms. The storm that battered Texans made its way here. Felt isolated without transportation for five days.

The snow was up to my dog’s belly. Being a southern dog, he wasn’t accustomed to such weather extremes. He acquired a taste for freshly fallen snow. Will that mean I’ll have to purchase sno-cones for him this summer?

Followed just as quickly, came late winter thaw. Thawed mud oozed from jagged edges of asphalt pavement, road wounds. Waves of torrential rain washed away road salt.

Unseasonably warm today, with thunderstorms. Midwesterners knew, that meant unsettled weather, with possible tornadic activity.

Satellite internet has been sporadic at best. Good news–I got my first Covid vaccine this past Monday. Our eight-county part of the state seemed underserved, with only three sites. There seems to be positive movement with additional vaccination sites.

A Rainy Day With Friends

The congenial local weather “odds maker” gave a 100% chance for rain.

A good day for oversleeping, overeating, and overthinking.

Who put trash in the bin without a trash bag? There were only two in the household. Tossing around wild accusations was a bad way to start the day.

Satellite TV and internet would be in-and-out the entire day. Annoying pop-up ads, as always, would find their way through.

It had already started. “I wish there were some places to go. This was so boring.”

That was more a rhetorical statement than anything. Pandemic realities didn’t allow for unnecessary visits.

Scotty, Johnathan, and Nick–You Tube how-to channels would assuage my mind today.

How had Johnathan managed to get a vintage ’52 construction crane running, let alone, moving under its own power?

Freed from swampy overgrowth, boom protruded from the front, through a machinery storage building, to the side of the nearest highway for extraction.

The entire process done with dogged determination and gumption. Skeptical at the first appearance of the rusted, battered, mechanical behemoth, my opinions were changed.

From North Carolina, to Quebec at Nick’s garage. Nick began the tear down of a 1968 Dodge truck engine. His videos always full of sage advice. He disassembled the big block Chrysler to the crankshaft in an hour.

This had been the most rain experienced, from one storm, since moving to Western Kentucky. A creek formed in the valley where a trickling stream formerly resided.

Properly attired in waterproof coat, rubber galoshes, and umbrella, prepared to retrieve mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. It was an adventure–knees dampened from wind-driven rain. Gusty winds battered the umbrella. “Not this time,” I declared defiantly.

Mail secured with little damage. Debtors would receive their just due. Junk mail deposited in the trash can, where it belonged.

Briefly, glimpsed sunshine around 2:07 PM. The cowardly sun retreated a few minutes later. The remainder of the day filled with rainfall and subdued winds.

House Cleaning With a Robot

“Honey, you need to vacuum, so the new robot vacuum doesn’t have to work too hard?”

I didn’t say it out loud, but thought, “Why did we have the robot vacuum? Wasn’t it supposed to be a labor-saving device?”

“I know dear. I was worried about there being too much pet hair.”

It was a Christmas gift from our children. Probably, a few million people received robot vacuum cleaners, this year. The robot vacuum’s trial run in the master bedroom was sketchy. After travelling back-and-forth under the bed, it muttered something unintelligible, returned to home port, docked itself.

What had it said? “I quit? This was above its pay grade? Too may dust bunnies? Pet hair? Batteries not fully charged? I needed the heavy-duty model?” Many questions generated. A few days later, and things were much improved. Of course, after I’d pre-vacuumed.

The cyber contraption meandered through the master bedroom, into the bathroom. Twisted, turned, pirouetted, around solid objects. Mapping–that’s what it did, as it labored its little cyber guts out.

Room layouts, would no longer be secret. It had little difficulty hopping over bathmats and area rugs. Never liked sharing things that should be kept secret. Will the abode remain in a perpetual state of improved tidiness?

I distrusted this little device, that resembled a fifties sci-fi flying saucer on wheels. My faithful dog, would be at my side. He already despised the regular, person-powered vacuum.

At this moment, Max and I are sheltered in my office, with the door closed. Barred from intrusions from cyber-technical household devices. Home computers excluded, of course.

January 1, 2021

Because of inclement weather or pandemic fears, New Years Eve was relatively quiet. Max, the mutt, and myself slept peacefully last night. This was the first quiet New Years, I can ever remember.

Just returned from a peaceful morning walk in the farm field next to my property. The sun’s return, brightened up early morning. A flock of robins pecked through leaf litter, along with cardinals, and other winter birds.

The highlight, a herd of five deer, that walked across the county road, north, along the far edge of the clearing. Max, solitude interrupted, ears erect, prepared, to give chase.

“Max, don’t do it,” I warned. Max is as old, as I, in dog years. I’m 72. Neither of us are physically capable of chasing anything. Nonetheless, the fresh air, exercise, traipsing through mud from recent rains, was invigorating.

I felt encouraged. More encouraged than in recent weeks. How much bad news could a person take? My wife’s health concerns weighed heavily on my mind. She is scheduled for surgery one week from today.

The importance of regular health checkups and mammograms reinforced. A small cancerous lump detected early. With advances in treatment, recovery will be less traumatic.

I feel optimistic. Hoping for a better 2021 for everyone!

2020 Happy Holidays

Christmas 2020, for reasons not necessary to explain, had none of the usual anticipation. I’m waiting for others in the household to awaken. There are plenty of things about which to reflect on from this past year.

I’m alive and doing well. With the global pandemic, it has been difficult to remain positive. The old adage, “If you couldn’t think of anything good to say, it was better to say nothing at all.”

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, for 2020! I believe better days are ahead.

A Little Night Music

After darkness fell, the music started. Was it someone from the neighborhood with outdoor speakers, serenading, others with their music collection?

It became apparent, the music came from a live band. There were too many improvisations. The music, was “greatest hits” from the eighties. My daughter and her boyfriend, grew up during that time period.

A challenge followed, to name songs, bands that popularized songs. I did quite well. I liked quite a lot of music during that time period–even though, as the step-father, it would have been most uncool to admit it.

I later found out, the music was performed by a local band, hired by someone in the neighborhood. It was an annual event, for everyone’s enjoyment, before the benefactor left to winter in the sunny south. I would like to thank this person, as it was quite enjoyable, and lasted till around eleven PM on a cool Saturday night.

Post-Relocation Reflections By Full Moonlight

What if the new owners decorated the walls with hunting trophies? It didn’t matter.

Business was business. Friendships were another matter. Negotiations sometimes made me want to scream.

During the first few years everybody seemed to get along.  Maybe it was because they had to.  It was a new subdivision.  Everyone was from somewhere else.

As properties changed hands, new people were added to the mix.   Some were outgoing and friendly, some not as much.  Neighborhood parties became less frequent.

When moving day came, true friendships shone through. Those that never cared to say goodbye will be forgotten.

There were some wonderful moments.  Some moments, terribly frightening.  Waiting out Hurricane Katrina, while winds howled all day.  The night it rained nearly 24 inches. Water lapped against the bottom of the sun room’s door, until it seeped in.

It hurt to dispose of material things. What couldn’t be given away or donated, wasn’t that important in the long run.

This is still true a few months later. With the added irony of Hurricane Sally’s arrival after our departure, on the sixteen year anniversary of Hurricane Ivan’s direct hit. Ivan struck shortly after we’d moved to the Gulf.

The Day the Beeping Stopped

I couldn’t hear it. My wife heard it–a constant beeping noise, coming from somewhere. “You probably think I’m crazy,” My wife said. The “C” word never entered my mind. If it had, the battle would have been on.

Twenty questions and speculation began. That was worse than the noise. Maybe it was the smoke alarms? Batteries changed. The noise continued. I still couldn’t hear it.

Only women could hear the elusive beeping. Our friend that helped us move heard it. Our daughters heard it. It was an annoying, sexist noise. Males couldn’t hear it. The previous homeowner divorced his wife. Maybe he’d installed something to drive her mad? 

From where did the sound emanate? Was it in the attic? In the crawl space? Was it the address sign out front with dead batteries? Someone thought it came from the gas fireplace in the living room. No, not necessarily, because the sound seemed to move about the room.

Finding an annoying noise I couldn’t hear, proved to be quite a challenge. The solution came this past weekend–after five months of consternation. Our daughter and her boyfriend visited for my birthday.

Our daughter web searched for, something to this effect, “locating annoying undetermined beeping noises after moving to a new location.” Somewhere in the vast web universe, another person had the same problem.

For them, the solution was in a gas fireplace. It had both a remote, and a receiver, each with batteries. Remote batteries, were easy to locate and change. That hadn’t stopped the beeping for me. 

There were no instruction manuals.  No instructions given by the previous homeowner.  The receiver, located inside the fireplace cabinet, had worn out batteries.  Which continuously beeped their death knell to clueless humans.  On my hands and knees, right next to the unit, I heard the beeping.

Fresh receiver batteries installed, the bloody beeping, I previously never heard, ceased. Maybe, since I’m a year older, I should be less skeptical of things found on the internet? No, that will never happen.  It’s selfish to say, but sometimes hearing impairment was a blessing. 

Save Room For Last Minute Miscellaneous

Getting rid of attic junk was much worse than I thought. Bruises on my forearms have healed, from sliding heavy boxes down the folding attic stairs. 

This picture was taken before. Found things not seen since we moved in fifteen years ago.  Some things given away, some recycled, sadly, some discarded.

Shedding excess electronics, gadgets, began shortly after the Holidays.  It will end this coming Tuesday, when the movers are here.  There will be two closings this week–one for the house we are leaving on Tuesday, one for the new house on Friday.

There will be no more postings from this location.  It was kind to me, in that, it was a non-stop source of material.  I’ve learned to appreciate the kindness of neighbors during these difficult times.  See everyone on the other side, from a new location in a different part of the country.