Friday, August 29, 2008

Armadillos This Far North

Armadillos are tropical mammals (that's right, mammals!), but they've been in southern Missouri for several years, working their way up Interstate 44. Three years ago I saw an armadillo on Highway FF. Told the feed-store owner's son, and he said he'd seen one in the area also, but nobody had believed him. Finally, today, one turns up as road kill right where Highway FF meets F. I apologize for such a sad photo. It's just proof that armadillos do come right up to the northern edge of their range when they want something. (This is latitude 38 degrees 25 minutes North.) This one might well have been drinking from the creek. They need a lot of water. My 1946 Webster's unabridged dictionary states flatly, "Their flesh is good food."

To protect themselves, armadillos will roll up into an ball. But when startled by oncoming cars, they jump -- vertically -- which is almost always fatal. This one had a laceration along its back and down the side. Close-up, it's an almost Martian creature: blend of pig, tank and turtle, with an opossum's face and a rat's tail. But unfortunately, it's very slow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Man Kisses Bass

Out fishin' on a spit of land stuck into a lake in St. Charles County, and catching nothing, I saw a single fisherman, a stranger, in a johnboat coming toward us. He drew up and asked in his nice rusty-sounding Missourah accent, would I take a picture of him and the bass he'd just caught. He had a disposable camera...

He was an old, thin man wearing a shirt printed with colorful fishing flies. Could have been my dad, if dad had lived and got skinny; or, your dad, left alone on his own; sometimes strangers are angels in disguise. I said yes, of course, and pulled his bow up onto the gravel a bit, and grabbed the camera offen him. And from the water he ups a beautiful, heavy, live largemouth bass about half as long as I am tall. And he wanted me to take a photo of him kissing it.

So he kissed it and I did. He wanted to talk; he was lonely. I recognize that right away in a person, and tolerate it as long as I can. He offered us the fish to take home. I said no. He said, well, you put it back in the water, then, and handed it over. Now I had never before held such a big fish. I could look right down the fish's throat and see all the way into it -- its needly white bones and ribs. I held it by its tough wet lip. The poor thing flapped -- the air was burning it. Awestruck I hesitated and the man said, bringing me around, "Turn 'im back into the water." So I did. Off it went, with an amazing story to tell to its friends and family. Off went somebody's lonely dad. And I had felt the real weight of real life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Debbie the Housekeeper

Meet Debbie, who visits the Divine cabin every month for a full day and helps get it clean and organized. Her family's lived in Missouri a long time. She charges me $12/hr and needs more work than her current clients have. She supports her mom and attends community college. Email me if you are in the STL area and have some work for her. She'll use your cleaning implements and potions. She has no car so she'll need a ride back and forth if she can't take public transportation. She's a self-confessed cleanin' fool and I enjoy her work and her company!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Too Tight!

Lawnmower was balky. Cleaned the air filter and bolted it back on. Mower would run for 2 minutes and quit. David poked at it and said, Definitely an air/fuel mixture problem. And he fixed it in one stroke by loosening the bolt that held the air filter. When I'd bolted it on I'd made it -- too tight!

In Jan. 2007 I was workin' my 50-year-old abs to the max, and had a beautiful six pack (in my case, a four-pack). Trouble is, one day I stretched and tore a big sheet of muscle -- my rectus abdominis muscle -- in two places -- rip! rip! near the groin. It got inflamed and I saw 6 doctors and had scans, tests, medicines, 4 misdiagnoses (diverticulitis, hernia, spine, psychosomatic), physical therapy, and chronic pain for 11 months until I went crying to a chiropractor, and she broke up the big lumps of scar tissue that were crippling me. I'd made my abdominal muscles -- too tight! (That's why they call it "ripped"!)

Branch loaded with tomatoes breaks off because when I staked it I tied it -- too tight!

I make and sell jewelry for fun and the #1 reason I have to redo necklaces, anklets, and bracelets is because I pull the "tiger tail" jewelry wire -- too tight!

The fishing line snaps because it's too tight! You get indigestion because your waistband is too tight! You get Morton's neuroma foot pain and calluses and corns because your shoes are too tight! I've learned from experience 100 times now -- don't pull anything or anybody too tight!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fire and Rain

As an example of Missouri's always extraordinary weather, here's a photo taken last Thursday of a cloudburst of rain that fell in sheets while the sun set. Photo faces southwest.

I Learn to Fish

Got the urge to buy the $12 Missouri license and go fishin'. Came on suddenly. Haven't fished for years and was never very knowledgeable about it.

Yesterday David took me fishin and I brought my two rods: a bamboo fishing pole and a beautiful lightweight fly rod with an open reel. I was tryin with the fly rod, but he said neither of my rods was right for the pond fishin we were doin. Esp. if were were going to catch the bass that was teasin us by jumpin up and down in the reeds.

So David and I went right down and he bought us a both rod & reel, plus tackle and fattest night crawlers in Jefferson County. Went back to the pond. He showed me how to use the reel, which kind of split shot to use as weight, how to cast the line overhand, what knots he uses, how the floater is attached, how to reel it in. On his first cast he caught a bass perhaps 1.5 - 2 lbs. It was a keeper but he used the pliers to pull the hook from its throat, and let it go.

They say you learn something new every day. Well now I'm thrilled to report I know something about fishin'. From newbie to novice in one day. This means anyone can do it. Get you a Missouri fishing license and have fun.