Almost A Wonderful Story

Marie and I were at the Wags-to-Wiggles store (over towards Gatlinburg) for our weekly check-in.  A vehicle pulled up out front and a young woman in a bathing suit got out, ran in, and said; “Can you help us, PLEASE?”
The short version is: they found a parakeet wandering the parking lot at a McDonald’s in Gatlinburg, it is very friendly and obviously someone’s pet.  They called the local Police, Animal Control, Sevier County’s animal shelter, all said they could not help.  These folks were from Georgia, here on vacation, and on their way to go white water rafting.  They can’t keep the bird and don’t know how to help find it’s owner.
Gwen, the store manager, gave us a wicker picnic basket from store stock to put the cute lil feller in.
She also called Stacy, the Manager at the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport, to see if she could take it.  Stacy asked, “Is it orange and green?”
“Yes!”
“I have a lost bird report on him.  His name is Arty.  His owner’s number is …”
“Gwen called the owner.  She lives in West Tennessee and lost Arty 17 days ago while on vacation in Gatlinburg.  She put up fliers, and notified shelters, but had to go back home.  She was coming back out next Monday to search some more.  She has a good friend who lives in Newport who can care for him until she arrives.
We’re all boggling!  What are the odds?
So Marie and I took the bird-in-a-basket back to Newport and into the shelter where The Friend was to meet us.  We were especially careful to not let “Arty” out of the basket because there are several shelter cats who wander the halls and sleep on beds or chairs.  Supposedly they are on vermin patrol, but I never see them hunting.  I think they’re scamming the shelter.
When the friend showed up she was ecstatic that Arty had been found, but asked to see him before she took the basket.  She peeked inside, “Oh … that is NOT Arty.  That’s a parakeet.”
“Yeah …”
“Arty is more of a parrot – much bigger.”
We all glared at Stacy.  “What?  I didn’t know?  We don’t even DO birds here, I put up the flier as a courtesy.”
The friend left to give Arty’s mom the bad news.  A shelter volunteer set Not-arty up in a cat carrier with some water and bird seed (the finders bought him a small bag of seed) and Stacy began calling people who might have birds, or know someone who has birds, or might want to have a bird.
Turns out Stacy hates birds … ever since she watched Hitchcock’s The Birds, she’s had a deep fear of birds and wants nothing to do with them.
Well … it was almost a wonderful story to tell.

Note To My Fellow Dinosaurs

I was at my veterinarian’s office and I quipped that if they were an airline I’d be getting frequent flier miles as often as I find myself going in there.  The lady behind the desk said, “We have a rewards program.  You need to be on it, it will save you a lot of money.  Just go to our website and download it.”

I went looking for Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital’s rewards program.  I found it and was sent to the PetDesk web site where I found:
.      What devices does the app work on?
.             PetDesk is available on IOS and Android devices (Mobile or Tablet).

Not available for a Windows laptop.  Rats!  I felt like lodging a complaint for discriminating against us dinosaurs who don’t have a smart phone.  I decided instead to gripe about it to my best bud: Electro-Man Mike.

Mike is a retired network engineer who knows computers, networks, and security stuff inside and out.   Mike told me that Android emulators are available to run Android aps on a windows machine.  He even gave me a link to a web page that listed and reviewed a fair number of them.  I went with BlueStacks, the top rated emulator.  Top rated and free … can’t beat that!

I installed BlueStacks, booted it up, went to the Google store from within the emulator, located the PetDesk ap, and installed that.  When I booted up PetDesk it asked for a small amount of information and WHALA: my veterinary records were sitting there in front of me.  It was kind of spooky how easy that was.

So if you encounter any other of us dinosaurs who don’t have a smart phone but want to use one or more aps made for an Android phone, tell them to Google “BlueStacks Android Emulator”.  And try not to get stuck in a tar pit.

Mustang Memories

It’s funny the tracks our minds take sometimes.  I don’t normally sit around thinking about the Mustang automobile, but today is has been on my mind quite a bit.

It started with a discussion with artist Donna Gregg about the artwork she’s doing for the Dogwood Days event coming up in May.  That event is centered around a classic car show.  I sent Donna a picture of a 1953 Skylark to use in her drawing.  She asked if a ’65 Mustang would work — she learned to drive in her dad’s ’65 Mustang and  it has always had a special place in her heart.

That got me thinking about the 1964, ’65, and ’66 Mustangs.  And the article I wrote about the 1967 Mustang Wagon.   Then I remembered my most recent encounter with a Mustang.  It was late on a dark and chilly night, at a truck stop on the edge of nowhere.  And I was given the opportunity to help some people out of a pickle.

The Mustang’s Tale

Marie and I were to meet the HEARTS LLC animal transport truck at the Pilot truck stop on the edge of Bulls Gap Tennessee, about an hours drive from us, to put one of our foster dogs aboard for his ride to New Hampshire.

Their instructions said that we should arrive at the meeting place early in case they caught a tail wind and were running ahead of schedule.  They would wait at each stop no more than 10 minutes.  We left home a little extra early in case we encountered any problems along the way.  There were no problems and we arrived in time to watch a group of young men push their snazzy Ford Mustang up the road and into a parking spot at the McDonalds which serviced the truck stop.  The driver got out and they all went inside.  Tough way to go out for a burger!

We were still waiting when these guys came back out.  They stood leaning on the car, one of those modern-retro Mustangs, talking and joking around.  I figured they were waiting for someone to come with a gas can or something.

After a little while one of the fellas approached our truck, I rolled the window down, and he politely asked if I had a set of jumper cables.  Pah!  Do I?  I always carry jumpers, a tow chain, flash light, small gas can, basic tool kit … I’m old school.

“I sure do.”

“Do you think you could give us a jump?  Our battery died.”

I checked my watch, we still had about ten minutes before the time the transport was expected, “Yes, I have time for that.”

So as I backed the truck out, they pushed the car across the drive so it was nose-out in a parking spot and I sidled up in front.  I got out a flash light, we hooked up the cables, and they gave it a try.  No go.  That battery wasn’t just dead, it was necrotic.

I revved up my engine a little, they waited for a couple of minutes and tried it again.  Their engine turned over a few times then caught and a throaty growl burst forth as the engine flared to life.  A cheer went up!

We cleared away the cables, buttoned up the hoods and I got out of their way.  They wasted no time getting on the road home.  Probably a wise move.

That transport truck never did arrive.  They’d had a flat tire and sent someone in a car out to retrieve their passenger and bring him to them.  As it turned out, we were going to go right past the place they pulled off the interstate and could have met them there.  But we didn’t know that until she was already there to get Spartacus.

So it was a late night of multiple adventures that all turned out well … as long as those boys got home okay.

Drinking Coffee Through a Straw

Yesterday I was treated to a new experience. I tried flying. Unfortunately I had no wings and the landing was poor. Let me explain…

Luna
Luna the Large Lab

We have a foster dog named Luna, who is a Black Lab-Great Dane mix.  She’s almost 70 pounds now (will be 80 to 85 at proper body weight) and quite strong.  I’ve been taking Luna out of the yard and along the edges of the woods to cater to her “need” to potty in the underbrush. Someone (probably someone with children) has trained her not to defile the family play yard.  But the increasing number of Feral cats around here has made that problematic because her need to chase cats has smashed me into more than one tree as she takes off suddenly after spotting a fur-blur in the woods.

She spent Friday in her kennel because every time I took her out to potty she got distracted by tracking a cat and forgot why we were out there. Having done nothing towards emptying out made her dangerous to take in the house. Although she did nothing in her kennel, either: this girl can really hold it!  But she had to be getting uncomfortable.

Saturday I resolved that we would stay in the yard and she would learn to use that, like all the other dogs. Late in the morning I had her out on her 20 foot lead – believing that if I wasn’t hovering over her on a 6 foot lead, she’d be more likely to avail herself of the grass. We walked around and around the yard with no results. At one point we were standing on the walkway beside the house, looking out over the play yard and the other dogs playing in the yard.  Something (probably one of those Feral cats) aroused the attentions of the other dogs and they went charging across the yard to investigate.

Luna decided to join them.

Had I had her on a 6’ lead I’d probably have been able to stop that charge with nothing more than a painful jerk to my arm. But because she was on a 20 foot lead and I was unprepared, she hit the ground running and had both traction and momentum on her side. She jerked me clean off the walkway, I went heels over head crashing to the slope below the walkway, landing on my right shoulder and the back of my neck. I did at least one complete rolling somersault down that slope before thinking to flatten out to stop that roll. Had I not thought to do that I might have continued rolling down the slope like an old tire.  I came to rest flat on my back about 25 feet from my starting position, Luna still trying to tow me out into the yard.

I laid there for a few moments, unable to move at first, then slowly, carefully wiggled things to be sure all the parts were still connected and nothing was broken. There was a good deal of pain, but everything seemed to be in working order, so I slowly got to my feet and put Luna in her kennel.

My right shoulder and neck hurt A LOT, and continued to do so that whole day. In fact I could not move the shoulder of my coffee drinking arm at all without intense pain. Everything I did the rest of the day was done via elbow and wrist alone.

Normally day two and day three of an injury are actually MORE painful than day one, so I was not looking forward to Sunday. But, probably because I launched into an aggressive campaign of anti-inflammatory pain killers immediately after the injury, I’m actually feeling better this morning. I am able to get my arm up on my desk to type, at least. So I think I’m going to be okay. And I am really grateful that I didn’t land any more on my neck than I did, because that could have resulted in life altering injury. They say God watches over saints and fools, so “Thank you God for watching out for this old fool.”

Oh, and Luna and I wandered the yard (on a SHORT lead) for a looong time last night, with her going from gate, to gate, to gate, until she finally relented and “did her business” in the yard. There is hope I’ll get that penchant worked out of her yet.

Weirdness

My truck died this evening.

dead truckIt’s been running fine. At least it has since the last time I had it towed in and repaired.  That’s been a few weeks.  I moved it so I could mow the driveway (yes, I mow my driveway) and when I went to move it back it started up, started to move then went completely dead. I mean big blue rock dead. Nothing at all, not even an idiot light lit up.

To make this short(ish) I fixed it. But what I found to be wrong is SO bizarre I have no idea how it got that way and was running at all.

It is running now. I told my boss that I do plan to be at work tomorrow after all. But if I don’t make it, check for reports of alien spacecraft sightings! Continue reading “Weirdness”

Tale of the Toolbox

Last week there was a fence/gate repair job that needed doing at work.  A co-worker, Bobby, and I were asked to take a look at it and see what we could do.  The boss had some parts that might help.  They even had a toolbox … of sorts.

Bobby had recently been assigned the task of cleaning out several junk drawers, finding all the tools and putting them into a donated toolbox, sorting through the rest: toss the detritus and sort the usable “stuff” into big plastic bags by category.  So our task now was  simpler.

However, the toolbox consisted of 3 hammers, a half-dozen badly abused screw drivers, and a pair of pliers.  We decided to bring tools from home and do the job the next day.  Bobby wasn’t there the next day, so I accomplished the job with the tools I brought.  All I was missing was a set of deep sockets (which I didn’t have but Bobby did) and a ratchet.  But I did the job with a crescent wrench.  The sockets do the job faster and with fewer bloody smears on the fencing, but a crescent wrench will do in a pinch.

I wanted to double the hinge at the top of the gate (which is at least 8 feet wide, maybe more) to keep it from twisting the hinge again.  I lacked one part and a couple of bolts to do that.  I picked up the hardware on my day off.  I also decided to assemble a usable toolbox.

My Toolbox History

Continue reading “Tale of the Toolbox”

Adventures in Dentistry

Another article from my moldy-oldies file, but when originally published folks did find it entertaining, so I’ll pop in in here.

Yesterday I renewed a relationship that has for many (many) years been neglected.  No, not neglected: avoided;  stringently and purposefully avoided.  I made a trip to a dentist.

You see when I was a wee lad, long (long) ago, my parents would take me to the dentist every year for a check-up.  And it seems he would always find a cavity or two to drill out and fill.  Early on they used Novocain and I don’t remember it as being particularly torturous – not fun by any means, but not like being stripped naked, covered with honey and tossed into a fire ant hill. Continue reading “Adventures in Dentistry”

For a Peek Inside

This tale was written years ago, filed, lost, found, lost again,  recovered again, and now posted here. For friends and relatives who often jump to conclusions, this is ancient history:
I am not sick.

medical emergency, doctor, hospital, testing, costThe small pick-up truck hurled along the winding, bumpy mountain highway, the tighter turns and bumpiest spots elicited increased groaning from him.  The driver looked away from the road just long enough to glance at him and ask, “Are you alright?”

He was curled up in the passenger seat clutching his belly.  He reached over and gently patted her arm, “Just ignore the screaming and wailing from this side and get us there as quickly – and safely – as you can.”

Eyes back on the road she steered through another curve and retorted, “If it gets too bad, I’ll just turn up the radio to drown you out.”

“Good girl.”  Continue reading “For a Peek Inside”

This Was My Locky Day

Today I took Mom to a doctor’s appointment in the Big City.  This building has 2 handicapped parking spaces just outside the main door to the parking lot – which is nice.  But they are not sized like handicapped spots: they’re just regular parking places with the blue and white wheelchair emblem painted on.  The one next to the curb was occupied, the other one was available.  I nosed in but stopped where I could get Mom’s door open and her wheelchair in place to get her out, then I’d pull in, shut it off, and lock it up.
As she was lifting herself from car to wheelchair the window slid down (power windows) and she mentioned it in case I’m blind or something (hey, it happens).  I raised the window and closed the door.
car door lockI rolled her up onto the patio outside the entryway and went to pull the car the rest of the way into the parking slot — but I found the doors locked.  And the keys are inside.  And the engine is running.  And I’m sort of blocking the driveway.  Oh Bother!

Continue reading “This Was My Locky Day”

The Baldface Encounter

home of baldface hornetsI killed a big Baldface hornet’s nest Wednesday evening.  It was just inches outside our play yard fence in a forsythia bush and was hidden from view until I trimmed the branches out of the fencing.  I deliberated on this killing.  I don’t kill just to kill.  They’d been there a while and have not been an issue … except once that I know of. Continue reading “The Baldface Encounter”