A Trip to My Ford Dealer


As I wrote in a previous blog, I have the good luck to own a new Ford 150 truck that I bought a few months ago. It really is a nice piece of equipment and very comfortable to drive. I tend to spend a lot of time in it just driving around and listening to Audiobooks.

It does have a few drawbacks that I wish I could do something about but somehow, I can’t see that happening. I don’t know if any of you may have noticed but the size of regular pickup trucks especially the double wide cab has increased dramatically. When I first drove it home, I did as I have done for years with my other vehicles and that was to open the garage door and drive it in. As I slowly made my way into the garage, it was obvious that this truck was going to be a tight fit if there was any fit at all. When the front of the truck was touching the far wall and the back was still sticking out beyond the overhead door, I knew I was in trouble.

I backed the truck out of the garage and from that point on, the truck has had to sit outside. The good thing about it is that I have a lot of free space in the garage now that the truck is not there. Bad news is the truck is already super heated with our Texas temperatures by the time I want to get into it for any reason and it seems to get dirty a lot quicker. The other problem that I have is in parking the darn thing. I’m not talking about the actual process of parking but about the fact that I cannot see the front of the hood and have no idea how close I am to anything in front of me. I have to park, get out and take a look and then make the necessary adjustments if they are needed. The truck is fitted with what Ford calls a “back up assist” which is essentially several cameras located in the rear bumper that show a picture on the dashboard screen. I used to have front ones installed on the Escape that I traded in but I guess I didn’t get the right model for front cameras on the truck. Oh well, I will just have to back in to all of my future parking places.

The reason for writing this particular blog is due to the fact that I keep getting a message on the little screen telling me to “Change oil very soon”. So, I am currently sitting in my Ford dealership waiting to get the truck serviced with an oil change and tire rotation. They told me when I came in that it would take at least two hours they were so busy. If you think that is a long wait for an oil change, I was here yesterday both in the morning and afternoon and both times was told there was a four hour wait to get the service work done. Needless to say, I declined both times and was about to drive on my way when one of the Service Reps came out and gave me her card and told me to call ahead next time and she would be able to tell me the estimated length of the wait. They have this flag system so that the Service Reps have a rough idea of the time. The black flag means around four hours, the green flag around two hours and the white flag means come back some other time. I had followed her instructions and gave her a call and she had told me to “Come ahead” which is Texas talk to get here as quickly as you can because the situation may change. It is a thirty minute drive from my house to the dealership and any number of vehicles could drive inline in front of me in that time.

So, I am in the waiting room sitting in front of my Surface computer and writing away hoping that the promised two hours will be a lot shorter. It does allow me time to write so it is not all bad. Wait, I hear someone calling my name. It is my service guy telling me that my truck is ready. I quickly made my way to the front desk to settle up my account very pleased that in fact, it had only taken forty five minutes and I will be on my way.

Not bad at all. Now to face the rush hour traffic which will be stop and go for a large part of the way home. I know of a Starbucks just around the corner so a Grande Latte will sure help as I sit in that traffic along with all of the hundreds of frustrated drivers.

Written 6/8/2018

When I was a kid…


Jeeps Everywhere

Jeeps Everywhere

I got to thinking about the difference in the generations between mine as a kid and the modern day kids. I tried to put myself in their shoes but found it impossible to wrap my mind around the huge differences between us.

When I was a kid, admittedly time and circumstances were different as it was wartime for some of my youth, but even so, everything was at a much slower pace. I lived on a road that was named Huggletts Lane and although the name conjures up thoughts of a dirt road leading to nowhere, in fact it was a tarmacked (blacktopped) road but still leading to nowhere. The road did eventually turn into a dirt road and then into a footpath leading to the next community a couple of miles down the road which is how it was with many of the small villages that dotted the countryside.

There were several kids on my street all about the same age and we spent most of our free time roaming the woods and fields and playing outdoors communing with Nature although we didn’t think of it like that. To us, the great outdoors was our playground and all that we learnt and shared was a normal part of growing up as a kid back in the 1940’s. The fact that there was a war going on and that we occasionally had to take cover from an enemy aircraft as it flew over in the early part of the war was a part of life as we knew it. We were right on the enemy flight path as they flew towards their targets and then back home.

Life was not normal because of the war but it was to us. Things like food rationing and dogfights and flying bombs that we called Doodlebugs and masses of troops of all Nationalities, tanks and armored vehicles and jeeps by the hundred tore up and down the roads and country lanes and signs of war were everywhere. We accepted this as normal because we were kids growing up in troubled times.

The closest school to us was three miles away and we generally walked as a group every day picking up others kids along the way. We were of all ages as our school ages started at five or thereabouts and went on through fifteen which was the normal graduating age at that time. We were split up into different age classes but all housed under one roof in several different classrooms. There were no organized sports other than the playground where we made our own entertainment. Coming home was a bit different as we tended to split into individual groups and we all had different agendas. Because of our closeness as kids generally speaking, things like Mumps, Measles, Chicken Pox and what are considered normal childhood diseases, tended to affect all of us one after the other. If one caught it, we all caught it. We had a Country Nurse that rode a bike from house to house checking up on the sick kids  and we would write notes to each other that she would gladly take and deliver for us. Doctors, in real emergencies made house calls and were glad to spend time with the patients and most babies were born at home with a Doctor and Midwife in attendance.  I remember that I had to have my tonsils removed which required spending a week in hospital in Uckfield. Any surgery  was treated as a big deal back then and was a risky business.

Home life was also much different. Families tended to do things together such as always eating together, taking long walks and listening to the radio. Food was pretty plain and simple and as we all had large gardens that required the entire family to help with the garden chores like weeding and planting or gathering the vegetables for the evening meal. The women and girls in the family helped with the cooking and cleaning and the boys fed and cleaned out any animals and chickens that every house had and also did the heavy garden work like digging and planting. Sometimes, on really special occasions like Christmas, we would kill one of the chickens as a special treat. Very rarely did we get to eat Turkey and never at my house. My only taste of turkey was at one of my wealthier friends house where I had been invited over for Christmas Dinner.

The radio played a big part of our lives as this was how we got most of our news about the war. Then there were radio programs like Happydrome and The Archers and all kinds of mysteries and thrillers that entertained the entire family in the evenings. We sat and listened to it just like people do today watching their TV sets as the radio actors with their magical voices kept us entertained. We had a phonograph to play 75 rpm records of which we had a small collection.

We never had a phone, ever. The nearest public phone was a couple of miles away and most people either were afraid or did not know how to use one. My Dad went everywhere on his bike and as we grew older, we also had bikes and that became our new form of entertainment as bikes opened up new horizons. We could now get to places that were not available before such as the local Market on Wednesdays or the Movie House in Heathfield about 7 miles away or even to one of the local football (soccer) games to watch the hometown team.

As kids, we learned to entertain ourselves without getting into trouble except maybe for stealing apples from Mr Jones Orchard or getting chased by a very upset horse for us getting into his field and stuff like that. We learned to entertain ourselves making the most of what was available to us mostly from our immediate surroundings. Nature played a huge part in our lives and we are all the better for what we learned.

Compared to today, our lives back then were dull and uninteresting. Not to us of course as it was our life and the only one we knew.  We never had TV to entertain us and we had to use our own imagination and brains to keep us busy.  Cell phones had not yet been invented and we were no worse off because of it. Hardly anybody owned a car as we all relied on public transport, bikes or shank’s pony otherwise known as walking, to get us anywhere. Food was plain and simple and some of it pretty heavy stuff like Roast Beef with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding on Sundays, Liver and Onions through the week and Fish and Chips on Fridays. There was always Mashed Potatoes and lots of vegetables from the garden. For deserts, there was Rice Puddings, Treacle Pudding and Apple Pies. A lot of it was homegrown and there was no such thing as fast food. Milk was delivered every day in one pint bottles with a thick layer of cream on the top and the Baker made deliveries once a week.

Bath night was always a very interesting time in most houses. We didn’t have a bathroom and we made do with the kitchen. Yes we did take baths but it was not as simple as turning on a tap (faucet) and hot water came out.  We didn’t even have hot water to our sink and all hot water had to be boiled in a kettle. although we were modern enough to have an electric kettle to do this. In the corner of our kitchen was what was called, a “Copper” that was comprised of a very large copper tub with a wooden lid built in to the wall with a fireplace underneath that probably held thirty to forty gallons of water. This normally was used to boil the clothes on wash day before hanging them on the line to dry but on bath nights, was used to heat the water.

The bath was a galvanized steel tub about five feet long which was dragged in from where it was hanging, once a week so that everyone could have a bath. The hot water from the “Copper” was dipped out and poured into the bath and suitable cold water added to bring it to a bearable temperature. The men were all ordered out of the kitchen and banished to the furthermost parts of the house while the ladies, starting with the Mom and then followed by any girls in the family, would take their baths one after the other all using the same water which was kept at a suitable temperature with the addition of hot water from the “Copper”.

Then, when the ladies were through and decent, the Father and the boys would take their turn  adding more hot water as required until finally, all were sufficiently clean to last another week. The Bath was then dragged to the door and unceremoniously upended and the restored to its normal hanging place on the wall. You can imagine that the lowest boy on the totem pole by age (me) may have had misgivings about this particular ritual especially if there was a large family. Invariably, the boys would be reminded to “wash behind their ears” as though this was also apart of the bathing ritual. Not sure why so much emphasis was placed on this particular action but it always came up. Of course, we always answered in the affirmative whether we had or not. Even our toilet, which adjoined the kitchen, was reached by going outdoors although it did have a chain pull to flush it.

These are some of the things I remember as I was growing up, so different from modern day America and although I have never been back, probably modern day England. Was I better or worse off for my younger life as compared to the kids of today? I can’t really answer that as all I know of a modern day family is what I read and surmise. I am concerned that most modern day kids do not spend time outdoors. I am not sure if they even know how to entertain themselves without getting into trouble or without TV, Xbox and their phones or having organized entertainment. There is no doubt in my mind that modern day kids are probably much smarter and in some ways, much further ahead in their academic work than we ever were but they are missing out on the basics of life.

If I had to make a choice and had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have to say that I would choose my life back then as opposed to being a kid in this modern world.  I was very happy even in the difficult times and because I didn’t know any better was content with my lot. I do not like what we have become, our reliance on gadgets or the need to be entertained and although I use some of the technology, I do not like what the end result is in the younger generation or come to that, their parents.

I can’t change any of it and will live out the rest of my days living in the past with my many memories as I transcribe them to my modern computer hoping against hope that this modern day world in which we live does not not implode with the Global Warming that all of this modern day technology has caused…

DSC_6728

Written 4/13/2018

 

My Friend


I had a friend come and stay
with me just the other day
which really caught me by surprise
when the phone rang and his voice disguised
trying desperately hard to sound like a Yank
with his British accent it really stank
“George”, I said, “What are you doing here”?
as I heard his voice full of good cheer
He said, “I’m staying just up the street
maybe tomorrow we can meet
I can fill you in on the reason why
I left old England and said goodbye
for the second time in my life
leaving behind without any strife.
I stayed over there almost a year
living with friends which became very clear
was not working out the way that it should
as I could not settle or do anything good
the weather was wet with the usual rain
with little sun and no tan to gain
and I could not find a team
to coach, which really was my dream
so I hopped on a plane and made the short trip
from England to Texas the best place to hit
where I hope to pick up my former life
and maybe even find me a wife
so that I can settle down
no more to roam as I have come back home”.

I met with George the following day
and as he had no place to stay
brought him back to live with me
if only temporarily
until he can find that team to coach
he has a few leads and he has spoke
to one of his friends whom we met
at the fields, where else, who told George to “Get
his bag and to come home with me
to San Antonio and we shall see
about that team and a place to stay”
as they left to go on their way.
I hope things work out for my old friend
and that he lives his dream until the end
as growing old is both our way
always looking to see the following day
living our lives and chasing our dreams
our minds filled with improbable schemes.

Written 4/7/2018

My Three Dogs


Ginny the new girl

Ginny, the last one remaining of the original pack…

Those of you that have been following my blogs for a while know that I recently have had some losses on the pet scene, much more than I ever dreamed would happen so close together. My large population of pets, both cats and dogs, some through old age and others through acts of nature was depleted down to Ginnie, the stuck up little Mini Dachshund. I was able to increase those numbers with the addition of Mikey who I adopted from the Bastrop Animal Shelter who was also the subject of a previous blog. You can read about him at this link.

DSC_1693

The new little boy, Mikey

I was still on the lookout for at least one more addition to the pack and spent some time touring the different Animal Shelters around the area and finally found what I was looking for in the shape of a Yorkie. He was already spoken for when I was at the Shelter and another family was also checking him out but they decided that he was not the right dog for them. I spent some time with him and then put my name down on the list just in case he didn’t work out with the other adopters.

Less than a week later, I received a call from the Shelter asking if I still wanted him as he had been returned back to the Shelter. I immediately jumped in my truck and made the 40 mile drive back to Georgetown to pick up our new addition. The Shelter people told me that his name was Charlie and/or Gizmo as he answered to both. They fitted me up with a collar and leash and his own special food plus a couple of squeaky toys, one as big as the dog and with him sitting on my lap, we were on our way.

DSC_6684

Gizmo

True to form, Ginnie tried very hard to ignore the new addition preferring instead to go back to bed. Mikey, on the other hand was overjoyed at having another little male dog that he could play with. I forgot to mention that Gizmo, as that is what we settled on, is also 10 years old and is pretty energetic for an older guy and in no time flat had acclimatized himself to the garden although he didn’t quite know what to make of the ponds. Turns out he is house trained and it only took him a couple of days to figure out the doggy door although sometimes especially at night, he will stand and whine to be let out even though he is right next to the aforementioned door. So I let him out and he has no trouble coming back in through the doggy door. Go figure.

So now we are at three with room for at least one more, preferably a female Dachshund. Both Ginnie and Gizmo are a bit careful around Mikey as he is a little on the rambunctious side. He is a little bigger than both of them but is also only a couple of years old and has way too much energy. He tends to do everything at top speed which is not the other two’s style. Apart from that, things seem to be working out just fine. They have each got their allotted spot on the King Size bed at night with Ginnie having the prime spot right next to me under the covers, Mikey curled up against my feet and Gizmo off to one side surrounded by a half dozen squeaky toys and a host of half eaten chew sticks.

Today, I took Gizmo to the the Groomers for his first haircut since moving in with us. Haircuts are not something that I have had to worry about these past few years since Mini and Manley both passed on. After the two of them, it has been short haired Dachshunds and Chihuahua’s that hardly shed at all but both Mikey and Gizmo are going to need to be trimmed periodically to keep them looking sharp and to stay clean (sortof).

Below is a picture of Gizmo after his haircut. You can now even see his eyes.

DSC_1880

Gizmo after his haircut

Dogs, Man’s best friend and companion since time immemorial over all others including wives and members of the opposite sex.  How can you not help but love them.

Written 3/27/2018

Thoughts About Dogs


DSC_1693

The new little boy, Mikey

Following the death of my fat little Chihuahua, Pete from untreated heart worm caused by his previous owner not taking the necessary precautions, I spent most of the week visiting many of the Animal Shelters around Austin including the one at Bastrop.

I was looking for a small dog of any breed that would keep Ginny  and me company. Not that she really cares that much as she spends most of her days under the covers of my bed, fast asleep in a world all of her own. Occasionally, she rushes out through the doggie door to do her business and if the weather is warm, she may stay outside for a couple of hours or more. Her favorite spot is at the bottom of the garden, sitting in the grass, warming in the sun and barking at anything that moves on the other side of the fence. When she does come back in, she heads straight for the bed again and disappears under the covers. Not exactly what you might call a companionable dog. She interacts with other dogs only when she has to like warning them away from her food or treat. I love her dearly but she is not the greatest of company. This is OK with a couple of other dogs around but when she is the only one…..

When our pack was at full strength a few years ago with Manley, a male Maltese, BeBe, a female Dachshund, Minnie, a female Scottie, Danielle, a female large breed mix, Abigail, a female Dachshund, Richie, a male Dachshund and her, she fitted in just fine getting along with all of them in her own snotty way. I think that was because there were so many of them and they were all established when she arrived. BeBe, Manley, Minnie, Danielle and Abigail were all laid back and could care less about the pecking order and when Richie arrived, he quickly established himself as the leader of the pack.

Minnie and Danielle went to that Doggy Heaven in the sky  due to age related illness and Manley had a heart attack and died in my arms leaving Abigail, BeBe, Richie and Ginny three females and the Pack Leader. Disaster struck and Abigail fell into the septic tank and drowned while we were doing work on the system. BeBe wasn’t acting right so I took her to the Vet’s where she died in my arms in the waiting room leaving just Richie and Ginny. All of a sudden, my house that had been so full of dogs before was suddenly very empty and way too quiet and peaceful.

I had a neighbor call me to see if I would be willing to take another rescue, this time a fat little Chihuahua named Pete and of course I immediately agreed. As it happens both Pete and Ginny got along well with each other so the deal was done. Those of you that follow my blog are aware of the circumstances leading to Richie’s death from the rattlesnake bite and then last weekend, little Pete was struggling with his breathing and I took him to the Vet’s where he died overnight from Heartworm complications . We thought we had treated the recurring heartworm at Pete’s last physical and check up but apparently, his little heart had been damaged and just gave out.

Now that leaves Ginny who not being a super active dog, is not the best of company for either myself or herself so when Pete died, I started to look for another to fill the voids. My Neighbourhood Watch was a great place to start and I visited a couple of people with dogs that were looking for new homes for some reason or another. I took Ginny with me as she was the final test. If she didn’t like them, it didn’t matter what my feelings were as they were not coming into her house and that was that. As it happened, she didn’t approve so we were still the two of us.

I decided to visit the local shelters to see what they had to offer and what I saw made me feel very sad. All of those wonderful dogs just looking for a fresh start. They too had been dealt a raw hand (in their case, paw) in their lives and it was not their fault of their current situation.

The primary breeds in the big dogs were Pit bull or Pit bull Mix and in the small dogs, Chihuahua’s or their mix except at Bastrop where the Big Dog breed was Great Pyrenees. I was not sure if I wanted to replace both Richie, a Dachshund and Pete, a Chihuahua with another of the same breed as neither of them were replaceable in my eyes and heart. I knew that although there were so many dogs to choose from, the right one would eventually choose me.

I received a call from BJ, my very good friend who was looking at the dogs over at the Bastrop Animal Center when they had twenty eight dogs come in all at one time. She called to tell me of the new dog shipment they had received and that I should drop everything and rush on over. When I arrived, they were very busy but the Director took it upon herself to personally give me a guided tour and even though it was a bit of a mad house with the dogs being unloaded and immediately getting their shots, took the time to show me around the facility. It was not the time to be choosing a dog but from what she showed me, it looked like we might find Ginny a buddy out of this batch. The Director told me that these dogs would be available on Friday and Saturday so I told her I would be back.

Friday rolled around as it always does on a regular basis and I was at the Animal Center bright and early as soon as the doors opened. I wandered the aisles of the different kennel buildings and saw several dogs that I might be interested in. With help from one of the kennel attendants, I finally settled on a little long haired Dachshund and Chihuahua mix. The attendant carried the dog whose name was Matthew to the front whilst I went to get Ginny from the truck so they could do a meet and greet. All went well as they both more or less totally ignored each other which was good as at least they were not trying to tear each other apart.

Back at the Office, the Director helped get the paperwork done and held Ginny while I had Matthew. She followed me out to the car and we put Matthew in a crate for the ride home as I was not sure of his reactions in a truck. I made a stop at my friend BJ to show her the new puppy and she was immediately taken with the dog. We spent a couple of hours visiting and Matthew spent almost the entire time in her arms making himself right at home. I should mention that BJ had taken it upon herself to help in finding another dog and for that, I am forever grateful.

On the trip back to my house, Matthew, who previously had been very shy, sat in the front with Ginny and myself and it wasn’t long before both of them squeezed onto my lap for the ride home. At least Ginny didn’t complain or try to go after Matthew so that was a very good sign but it was a little difficult to drive.

Matthew has been renamed Mikey as I could not for the life of me remember his name and so far, has settled in nicely. Except for the occasional growl over her food bowl, Ginny has accepted Mikey as one of the family. Whether she really warms up to him time will tell but as she is not an affectionate dog by Nature, tolerance is probably the best we can hope for. Mikey has discovered that he likes to cuddle especially at night and sleeps as close to me as he can. With Ginny on the one side and Mikey on the other at least I am not cold but it is tough to roll over and as for hitting the bathroom the three or four times a night, the downside of growing old as a male, I have to be very careful when getting out of bed. I think that Mikey sees me as his knight in shining armor after rescuing him as he is never very far away from me at all times.

As for me, I think he is going to work out just fine. We have several challenges ahead like bathroom training, leash training, stop jumping and other simple commands but they will be fun and yet another challenge. Is the pack complete? Hardly as two is not a pack and I would still like to see a couple more dogs around but we can work on that in the weeks to come. Maybe there are more dogs that need rescuing and would like a home with the three of us. Not maybe, a certainty. But that is in the future.

 

You can read more about Richie at these links.
Richie and the Snake
Memories
and Pete at these links.
An Addition to the Family
More Sadness

Written 2/7/2018

I Bought Me a Truck


cq5dam.web.1280.1280

In a fit of madness I went to the lot
just to see what  they have got
in the way of new trucks which I am told
that my plans for the future will really involve
my car that I have had for a while
which I really like for its style
can’t do the things I have planned
like getting ready a piece of land
and hauling brush and clearing trees
a Tiny Home is what I need
and sell this house and move away
for something smaller where I can play
I will be sad to leave my friends
and the ponds I built and to this end
but the house is way too big for me
and would suit a larger family
as my needs are so very few
the space I need to live like I do
a Tiny Home in so many ways
where I can live the rest of my days
will I ever make the move
and make my Little House dreams come true
well I bought the truck so thats a start
the land comes next to play its part
water and gas and electricity too
and a septic system for the loo
hopefully by this time next year
my life will have a whole new veneer.

Two months later and things have changed
no land no little house but in exchange
I plan to buy a trailer home
to visit the Parks and be alone
to spend time away just me and the pups
and walking the trails and taking cups
of coffee or some other fine brew
under the stars with only a few
other campers doing the same
as we play the Nature Game.

Written 11/10/2017
Amended 1/21/2018

 

Meandering Thoughts


IMG_20180114_0003

Samantha, Fats at the back, Whiskey Bean, Manfried is the Maltese in front and then Ennery. plus two cats.

I just finished writing a blog
an exercise in thoughts you might say
as I had to remember back fifty years
when the first dog came my way.

In it’s own way it was fun
remembering back all that time
and the memories of all of the dogs
stirred other thoughts of a different kind.

Of time spent in the country where I was born
and the people there that I knew
the life I lived and the jobs that I had
and the wives of which there were two.

A childhood romance when we were young
not knowing what life was all about
bringing into this world two beautiful sons
before life filled us full of doubt.

Into another’s arms her love to feel
with struggle and strife along the way
and finally making it all worthwhile
as off to America a new life a new way.

Sadly America was not the cure
for after ten years of married bliss
all of the dreams came tumbling down
my world fell into the abyss.

Another lady filled the void
with her life was full as it could be
after fifteen years of married bliss
once more back to misery.

I decided I was not the marrying kind
and spent the next twenty five years alone
except for the dogs of which there were many
everyone important as though to atone.

For the fact that I make a terrible mate
but a friend to the dogs is not very hard
and the love for a woman seemed not to be there
but I love all dogs with the highest regard.

If I could live my life again
there would be many things I would change
but there is one thing of which I am sure
my love for all dogs is stronger than before.

Wives would have no part of that life
as they only bring trouble and strife
instead my life would be full of dogs
with wagging tails and sloppy tongues.

And love so strong it is a shame
their lives are so short and sweet
but another is ready to take it’s place
with instant love as soon as we meet.

Written 1/19/2018

Link to the other blog here.