Spouseinbox and I are having quite a summer.   I will skip most details, but tell you like I said at work yesterday – “I’m tying a knot and hanging on.”  Let me back up a bit.  There are two bits of information key to the story.  We work in Kairos prison ministry and I am in charge for this coming fall.  That being the case, it’s up to me to set all the meeting locations, times, and get ready the materials for the education of all volunteers.  I felt the need to add an additional short meeting to the front of the schedule, but only half a day.  Some fussed, but I held my ground as that is what I thought I was supposed to do.  This comes under one of those spiritual things, where you do something as you believe it needs to be done, but have very little to explain that impression.

Next issue is spouseinbox.  My lovely spouse is a cardiac surgery patient from decades ago.  Actually, it had been long enough that we decided to ask about a cardiac specialist to check the area and found one in Big City, Tx.  As specialists go, this one followed suit and requested a bunch of testing to better look at the areas in question.  This involved three trips to Big City to do all the testing requested.  As results returned, the reports were disseminated to the various other specialists according to what was found.  One item noted was a spot on the thyroid.  This was sent to the endocrinologist who wanted a visit.  Of course.  That visit was made and this time the endocrinologist stated he wanted a biopsy of the area.  This was scheduled and we went recently to that procedure.

As this is happening, we are fighting bed bugs in the house, bagging up every piece of cloth to be processed and still preparing for the coming Kairos meetings.  This seems to be like the nursing adage “everything only happens all at once.”  The first meeting for the Kairos was set for this Saturday.  I received a text from spouseinbox saying, “call me!!” and thought, “Oh crap.”  This was not a normal occurrence.  I went to the back window for better reception and to be left alone for a moment.  Spouse inbox said that the endocrinologist called and informed us we were looking at thyroid cancer and the recommended plan was thyroidectomy.  Ike.  Talk about having shakes and emotional state which is hard to describe.  I came away looking through an invisible parka hood.  You remember those from Alaska designed to keep ones face from freezing off?  I leaned on the nurse station and was lost for a bit in what had just been poured on us while other regular daily needs kept coming at their usual pace.

I have a great crew.  They allowed me a minute to start processing and then I tried to get back into the daily routine.  It wasn’t a usual day.  There was a professor many years ago showing two cervical cups utilized for contraception.  The professor asked why the difference in size and stated the larger one was for usage after birth.  “After certain events, there is no going back.”  As I had a moment, I called the surgeon who spouseinbox sees and told them to be ready for the information from the endocrinologist as we would need to schedule a visit.  Not too long later my desk phone rang.  It was the surgeon’s office.  They would definitely see spouseinbox and had an opening this Saturday at 1230.  You know, that is the time I had the meeting scheduled to end.

I started to realize the coincidences involved and let you know God is in charge.  The cancer was found “incidentally” by a scan for a completely different issue and will be checked on a date given by a doctor on the same day as our meetings set up three months ago on a time when we could be free.  It was also discovered in a small enough stage that the survivability odds are really good.  Amazing.  God is.

and ask, “Did I really do that?”

We have a flag pole.  It is a 20′ pole which is sunk about 2′ into the ground with a sleeve and concrete base.  Theoretically, that means the pole can be removed.  In practical life, I tried and couldn’t budge the thing.  Oh well, for the most part it worked.  Then we had a storm.  It bent the aluminum pole.  I bent back the pole and bought a galvanized steel pipe to fit into the middle of the aluminum pole and made a plastic ring to provide a joint between the two at the top.  The bottom just set into the sand which was place under the concrete per instructions.  This set up has worked rather well.  When the rope got worn, I cut it, taped a new rope to the old one and pulled through the new one.  That procedure occurred twice until the last rope, being smaller, got stuck in the side of the pulley and broke.  Well, crap.  Now the flag was just above half mast and there was no way to raise or lower it.  A storm remedied that problem.  The flag was down, but there was no rope and no gold ball on the top of the pole.  Well, after letting it sit for a couple of weeks, I decided it wasn’t going to get better by itself and the uncomfortable job needed to be done.

The ladder was not quite tall enough for the pole, so an additional height was needed.  The truck was utilized for this purpose and once up, the ladder had to be secured.  This required the car to be placed to the right side of the ladder and a tow rope secured with a tie-down strap to that side of the ladder.  A gift from siblinginbox was utilized on the other side.  This was a rope which was tied to the other side of the ladder and extended to the fence post by the gate.  The rope was long enough to return to the ladder and then the front post of the house.  That provided three directions of security.  I was guessing that with my weight, the ladder should not move towards the truck.  Well, the gold ball was placed in a pocket and the rope pulled through a belt loop and up the ladder I went.  Once past the middle point, the pole bent more for every step I took.  My nervousness increased at the same rate.  About 4′ from the top, I stopped and backed down the ladder.  Another tie was applied from the pole to the front bed of the truck.  Now everything was held in 4 directions.  truck with ladder

The next time up the ladder, I made it to the top and screwed the gold ball up there.  I didn’t match the threads well and was not able to unscrew the thing, so said, “scrap it,” grabbed the wrench, and tightened it there.  The rope was next.  I tried to get it through the pulley bracket cover and it kept getting stuck.  After several attempts and biting a bend in the rope, I managed to get it through the opening.  Yea!  Remember that I’m holding on with one hand and trying to pull the rope with the other.  Well, gravity worked.  The pulley lowered the coefficient of friction and the rope ended up on the ground.  Trip three was planned.

On the third trip, I taped a bread tie to the end of the rope and pulled the thing back through the belt loop.  On arrival back at the top, it took several tries and readjustments with my mouth of the bread tie, but finally went through the pulley and this time I had a better grip on the long end of the rope.  Job done.

I guess life is just one little step after another.  That’s how it feels at times.  I have been after this project over a couple of weeks, and just have the unit assembled, mostly, and running.  What is this unit?  I have put together a sun powered water pump to run the irrigation in the garden. There is a 100 watt solar cell on the roof to power a battery and charging module which in turn provides power to the 12 volt water pump which has a pressure switch already installed.  That saved me another part.  Well, to keep the pump safe, a filter was needed.  I found one on line with a stainless steel filter allowing a long term usage of the part.  Next is the pump operating on 12 volts and having its own pressure switch to shut off about 50 psi.  When I first tried it, the pump was going on and off constantly as the garden is plumbed with drip tubing.  To keep the pump from continuously cycling, I added a pressure tank and a pressure regulator.  All these were mounted on a couple of legged stands and as I didn’t have enough hose to properly mount the filter, the assembled parts ended up looking like this:

sun powered pump

It’s not the neatest, but it does work, so I am pleased.  I still need to mount the solar cell and put the battery box in a more permanent position.  I’m thinking just under the eve where it will be out of the rain, but accessible.

Imagine you are throwing a rock.

Imagine you are throwing a rock hard enough to dent a roof vent.

Imagine you are throwing a rock hard enough to dent and make a crack in a roof vent.

Imagine you are throwing a rock hard enough to dent and make a crack in a roof vent 13 feet in the air.  You may get something looking like this:Photo06251821

You see the rock still there.  I was looking at the roof damage from the recent storm and on return to the ladder noted the vent didn’t look happy.  On closer examination, I was just left with “wow.”   We did have quite a bit of wind the other night…

Happy Father’s Day to those practitioners of this much maligned and devalued profession.  There was a joke a couple of decades ago.  It went something like this: On Mother’s Day, the kids call the mom, give flowers cards, take her out to eat and express appreciation.  Father’s Day is a Graham Rudman Mother’s day.  Does anyone remember Graham Rudman?  We can see how well that one turned out.  Back to the subject.  There are two points which need to be made especially for today.  1.) men are required as the backbone of civilization, 2.) it takes a man to make a boy into a man.  I can hear some screams of disgust at my choice of the two topics, but for anyone who wishes to continue, I do have some relevant thoughts.  There is only one maternally oriented society of which I have knowledge – Iroquois.  (I looked up the subject and found that link listing some others)  The foundation of the society is the family and the backbone of the family is the dad.  That’s not to say that mothers have a lesser role, or no authority.  I’m just acknowledging the natural flow of authority and note that Biblically speaking, that is correct.  God will ask the man about his family.  The man was given authority, therefore the man is responsible.  Let me demonstrate this using this country’s inverse of the situation.  Welfare was promoted with Lyin’ B Johnson saying that he would have those N*&^& voting for the democrats for the next 200 years.  What has happened to the black families when it was profitable for the females to remove the fathers from the house?  Next, how has the black population fared behavior-wise and prison population-wise when the man is not available to turn the boy into a man?  Look at the prison population and ask the question – how many of you had an active father?  You know the answer.  I have stated previously and will enter it again at this point – the removal of the father from the family is placing government as the dad.  One lady to whom I made that pronouncement scoffed at the idea and I followed with the question – who do you call when the child is unmanageable?

As for the second point, I was suggested a book a few years ago – Iron John – which was an interesting read.  The subject was turning boys into men as a sociological study where the author observed rituals and passages through various cultures to find a common theme among them.  After all, if something occurs in different contexts and a multitude of cultures, it must be fundamental.  Once you remove the window dressing, there were two salient points.  One, the boy became a man with the direction and tutelage of men.  Two, it was a painful process.  From the book there are a couple of illustrations.  In one tribe, the boys were sent off on their own for three days to forage and be alone – to become hungry and desirous of companionship.  At the end of three days, all the men would be gathered around a fire and would cut themselves and bleed into a cup which was given to the boy to drink.  From that point on, the boy was under training from the men.  As a baby, the boy was receiving milk from the female.  Once grown, the boy would then become a man and would receive blood from the men.  There were other variations of that same theme.  As for pain, some would inflict it as part of the ceremony – as in knocking out a tooth which was done in another tribe.  But no matter what population group, those two points were noted.

Going back to the first illustration, you can see where I’m going with this.  The government, by removing men from the home, has created the situation where boys aren’t provided the training they need to become real men.  The population is skewed accordingly by that deficit.  Therefore, for those men who have stuck with your families and taken the cultural and media darts to provide your leadership and proper training, my hat’s off to you.  Those children coming behind us need your role model and care.  Kids are benefited by your presence, love, and touch.  I benefited from a father who had a rough childhood, survived war, and still offered his loving touch and direction to the family.  Thanks dad.  All you did was appreciated – and even more so now that I’m older.

A bit over a week ago, spouseinbox and I went on a short trip to the coast.  The plan was to camp on the beach and do – nothing.  Well, we did have to eat, so took a Coleman stove and a cooler of food.  A camera and the appropriate camping outfit rounded out the load in the car.  Getting to the area was interesting as the road did one of those turns at an intersection and the straight road continued with another designation.  We figured out the dilemma after about half a mile and discovered that the city beaches allowed no camping, but on return to the main route, the state beach did.  All told it was $20 per night to camp on the beach with the only provisions provided being a port-a-potty, and a cold water tap.  There were no designated camp sites, however, we did find an open picnic table and claimed it for our camp site.  There were sand dunes right there and an open area in one of the dunes at about 80 feet away was where the port-a-potty and water tap were.  All those in proximity seemed like a good choice.  We set up camp.  The water was about 20 feet away from the front zipper of the tent.

The water had a bunch of seaweed in it for about the first 50 feet out and then it cleared a little bit.  It was sort of walking on a coarse carpet.   Spouseinbox discovered that the seaweed also thinned a bit to the South about 200 feet away from our campsite.  There were a few things we noted: spouseinbox found three crabs – 2 hermit crabs in shells about 1″ wide and a baby (what I think was a) blue crab smaller than my fingernail.  There were clams about 1/2″ – 3/4″ in width in the sand such that walking had an interesting feel under the feet.  There was the soft sand and pieces of hard gravel-like mixed.  It was interesting to think that each piece of “gravel” was actually a clam which would stick out its muscle to the side to help push and then slightly open and close to work itself down into the sand.  The wave would wash a top layer of sand and the remaining sand with now exposed clams would then “boil” while the clams worked into it.

There were the sand crabs on the dry ground who could run incredibly fast sideways and poorly frontwards and backwards.  It seems like they have a simple programming – eat, make more crabs, dig holes.  As for the first and last, one could see the tiny claws picking through the sand and picking up towards the mouth on the underside of the crab.  The crab would also pull out sand from the hole, get to the rim of the hole and toss it.  On arrival, it looked like there were a bunch of umbrella holes in the sand.  Actually, there were a bunch of crabs digging.  The crabs weren’t alone in digging, there was also a pregnant ground squirrel.  She had prominent nipples and a fat abdomen – the reason I believe she was pregnant.  This character had several tunnels through the dunes and would stop, stand, watch us, then dive back into a hole.  Spouseinbox was in very close proximity to her as she approached and came to the edge of spouseinbox’s chair.

Also noted was that the gulf is rather noisy.  When one hears of the wave simulator, there is a quiet pleasant woosh sound which comes and goes in volume.  The actual thing is a bit higher on the decibel scale and constant in volume.  The volume is apparent when sitting on the side of the car which made a wind/noise break.  The difference was impressive.  It isn’t hard to accommodate the nose, and I was informed that I slept through a midnight storm.

There were also several varieties of birds and one gave me a thought.  It was flying at water level with its lower beak in the water scooting along at flying speed while fishing.  What occurred to me was that the birds were drinking sea water.  There was not fresh water to be had.  That means there must be a difference in the osmolarity in the bird to allow ingestion of salt water.  Just a thought.

I was not thinking about my feet.  I had a hat for my head, swimsuit, and plenty of sunscreen.  This was applied to the shoulders, back and a bit on the arms.  After all, we were going into the water.  Well, my feet got plenty of sun and I paid for ignoring them.  It was painful to sleep on my left side due to that foot and by Sunday about noon, spouseinbox and I realized that we were just hiding in the shade as the weather had become so much hotter and with the sunburns we didn’t want to go into any more sun.  A retreat back to large city was executed and we relaxed with a cool room and actual shower.  Will we do this again?   Probably.  I will wear more sunscreen next time.  No sense simulating a lizard a week later.

I know my blogging tends to be in the lower end of the volume scale.  The basic reason is that I blog for fun when the rest of life is caught up to such a degree that I can, or I just have sore feet like tonight and am giving them a rest.  We have three felines and that means a lot of litter, food and water supply.  Two automatic feeders now have positions in the house, so all I need to do is fill the hoppers once a week or so.  The water was an issue as it was on the bathroom floor where we walked and keeping it filled required a bit of attention.  The dogs had an automated bowl outside and I thought that might be a good idea for inside as well.  As ideas go, this one had babies and we are now sporting a set of “L” shaped shelves in the corner above the toilet with the lower shelf being the cat access area.  On the short shelf towards the window, there is a second shelf with a square hole cut and a downspout mounted.  This means that the hopper is removed from the serving bowl.  The cats can no longer steal from the machine before the next feeding.  The water bowl was a good idea, but as good ideas go, there were unplanned problems.  Being water, and plumbing, we had leaks.  I tried to tighten the fittings, I changed fittings, I reset fittings, I cut off the tubing and reset it twice and there was still a leak.  This evening, I tried to reset the tubing again.  This involved cutting off the end, putting plumbers seal on the plastic barb and reassembling the unit.  I put some toilet paper under it to detect leaks and after about an hour, there was water there.  I haven’t determined the offending location yet.  Oh well.  Plumbing.  I prefer electric – done by myself.  There usually are fewer problems that way.

Anyways, while going back and forth with the plumbing issue, spouseinbox started on the food for supper.  We had a spaghetti squash which I cut and put in the microwave one half at a time for 10 minutes each section.  This was done in a microwave pan with an inch of water and covered with plastic wrap.  Spouseinbox used some of our tomato sauce canned last year and mixed up a spaghetti sauce for the squash.  Once done in the microwave, I took a fork to each half and made noodles for each plate.  One squash fed three of us until our meters pegged.  The remainder of the sauce was mixed with more ground beef and onion and some cauliflower which was buzzed in a food processor to make it a substitute for rice.  This was mixed in the meat and sauce mixture and then stuffed into green peppers which had been boiled for about 3 minutes, then cooled.  That only used about half of the mixture, so I took the remainder of a box of large pasta shells and cooked and stuffed them as well.

We had more meat available, so spouseinbox took a can of salsa canned last year, and mixed that into another pound of meat.  After the mixture cooled, I took some and rolled it into corn tortillas to make enchiladas.  These three dishes were placed in the freezer for later use.

While I am sitting here typing, spouseinbox went into the bathroom to examine the piece of toilet paper placed under the plumbing job.  It’s wet.  We’re not done yet.  Yuk.  I so prefer electric.

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