Monthly Archives: August 2007

Amish For A Day

Ok, you can still wear stuff with zippers and buttons if you must.  But I need some help here at Coyote Creek.  I need to build a round pen, and I need to do it over a weekend.  So, I will need one crew on Saturday, Sept 8, and another on Sunday, Sept 9.  Two people on the auger, two on the saws for one day.  Then, roughly the same number to set the rails after the Quick-Crete has hardened.  It will be relatively easy work, but many hands is key.  I will provide tamales and beer, or soda if you must, and of course material and tools, though, if you have a decent hammer, bring it.  Saturday’s crew will mark and set posts, hang the gate.  Sunday’s crew will hang the rails, and set railroad ties and spread footing.

This could be the first ever blogger joint effort day!  If you think you can help, please leave an email in the comments, or send mail to me via freespeech43 over at yahoo.

Outside work.  Sweat.  Tamales.  More sweat.  Plenty of suds.

What the hell else could you want?

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Feisty Lady

lady.jpg

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High Holy Mass Of Equine Contradictions!

I threw some food on the kitchen counter for the kids, wrote them a note, and headed East.  I was excited and nervous and running late.  I was on my way to ride “Little Miss Thang”, a 9yr old mare whose owner needs to thin her herd a little.  I had already met Miss Thang, she had impeccable ground manners and was pretty well trained.  I drove up the gravel drive, towards the barn, and her pack of large pit-bull looking dogs announced my arrival.  We were to ride together that day, but circumstances changed and I would be riding alone, in a strange place, on a strange horse.  We headed to the barn, where Miss Thang was waiting in a stall.  We brushed her, saddled her, and up I went.  This is when it got real.  Apparently, I was her first man.  She had nothing but female riders, and she decided that I was to be tested.  She immediately broke into a cantor, then on to a full gallop.  I pulled hard on the right rein and brought her around ok, but when I instructed her to head back where we came from, she brought both of her front feet off the ground, and my sphincter tightened a bit.  It seems I was too loose on her reins, and she was determined to show me how unwise that was.  After a few minutes, she reluctantly agreed to what I asked her to do, and we proceeded thru the gate, out onto a narrow trail, fraught with peril.  Uneven creek beds, slippery rocks, low slung branches and numerous spider webs awaited.  She negotiated all of this in a sure footed manner, but I just know she was having a bit of fun running me close to jagged branches so I’d have to lay flat across her withers.  At some point, I think, we reached an agreement about how much reining she needed.  I was exhausted in minutes, so I turned her around and we walked briskly back, thru the gate, and out onto a rocky, neglected pasture.  Back on the ground, she was again the epitome of good manners, she kept a respectful distance, stopped when I did, and kept her eyes on me at all times.  I took her back to the barn, removed her tack, and let her join her friends out in the front pasture.  I’m torn.  I like this horse.  She, like another I have, came from an abusive home, so she has some issues.  She is not for the feint of heart to ride.  On the ground, she does everything but fix you a glass of sweet-tea.  Do I have the patience and experience to make her a dependable rider?  I don’t know.  I’d love the challenge, but I’m slightly concerned about introducing yet another mare into our herd.  I need to think on this awhile.

However, Tomorrow is the day Feisty Lady arrives.  We traded for her last month, and she is scheduled for delivery on Monday!  I’ll post a pic if I can borrow B’s camera.  Yeah!

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Impress Me

Oh, Internet.  Heres a big chance to justify what I spend for broadband…I need to be hooked up with an artist.  I need a person who can hear me describe what I want to do in my yard, and then draw it for me.  I guess this person would be called a “landscape artist.”  I need one, fast.  Anyone that KNOWS someone good please let me know.

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Wayne’s World (Newton, that is)

Bridgett wrote about this yesterday, (I think Aunt B told her to beat me to the punch) and “scooped me”. Tiny Cat Pants linked to this and there was much discussion about who is to blame. Sure, there are many forces at work; financially illiterate buyers, unscrupulous mortgage companies and brokers, builders and speculators, mortgage bond issuers and credit reporting agencies.

And the numbers are scary. The trends are terrifying. I think those numbers will rise even more when people realize they can no longer heat and cool those 5000 sq ft monsters. Which brings me to Las Vegas. (8% increase from JUNE, 1 filing for every 199 households). I mean, when one thinks of speculative markets, Florida and California spring to mind (though why anyone would live in Florida escapes me). But Vegas? When I lived there, I rented. This was just prior to the boom in new casinos that fueled the boom in the housing market.

Las Vegas, for those of you that have never been there, is smack dab in the middle of possibly the least hospitable desert on the planet. It gets a little hot there sometimes. You must travel through Death Valley to get there, if that helps. Triple digit heat is the norm pretty much from March thru December. Man wasn’t really supposed to live there in any kind of numbers. Yet, there it is, a picture-postcard of sprawl if there ever was one.

I miss the old Las Vegas. I’ve been going there since I was a kid. It used to be different. Nice Italian families from places like New York and Kansas City owned the casinos. The local Mormons ran them. The food was dirt cheap, and delicious. Local women would come to the casinos and keep homesick visitors company in their rooms. In short, all anyone could ask for.

It seems most of those old Italian families “retired” and sold their interests in these fine gambling halls to Corporations that now referred to them as “gaming venues.” They brought in their Waspy bean counters and determined that the previous owners were not extracting maximum profit from every square foot of space. Back in the day, slot machines were considered a necessary evil, designed to keep the wives placated while their husbands, you know, gambled, and they were relegated to the rear of most joints. The bulk of the casino floor was taken up by tables, staffed with personnel trained to deal cards or spin wheels and calculate payoffs and house rakes. Pouty blondes in push up bras roamed the area, bringing much needed refreshments to the customers.

Now? Vegas is slot machine hell. Stacked high and wide, these so called “one arm bandits” rule the roost. (it should be noted, they don’t even have one arm anymore, just fun-less buttons to push in this new digital age. Fuck you, Bill Gates) I do blame the accountants, but sometimes I wonder if the casinos were just prescient about our declining ability to do basic math. See, with slots, there is no strategy involved. One simply deposits a portion of your paycheck into them, pushes a button, and watches as the tiny digital fruit or cars or whatever spin around and line up, or, more likely, don’t line up so that it is time to deposit more money into them. Once in a while, some tourist from Dubuque gets lucky and wins. But even winning isn’t the event it once was. Before, you could tell when someone hit a jackpot, it’s arrival was announced by bells, whistles, and falling coins. The sound of coins hitting the metal tray underneath was a noisy reminder that you too can win! Now? No more noisy than your average ATM transaction.

You used to have to get your change from an attendant. It was Vegas’ version of the entry level job. If you won, you took your coins or chips to the “cage” in a plastic bucket, where another worker would count it and pay you off. Now, you simply swipe your card in the machine, or deposit cash, and when you are ready to quit, a paper receipt is dispensed and you take that to another machine which converts it back into cash. In fact, I believe it’s possible to spend hours in a casino, gamble away your life savings, and never once deal with an employee of the place. That strikes me as seriously wrong. But thats another post, now, isn’t it?

See, I guess I always knew people lived there, but never saw any evidence of it. As a tourist, you stay on the Strip. When I lived there, I rented a place within walking distance of my job. I was so close to the strip, I lived on the corner where gunshots ended Tupac’s thug life. Everyone rented, I thought. Apparently, people began to flock to Vegas for all kinds of reasons. Retirees came for the weather and the cheap food. Others were drawn by the State’s lack of an income tax. I’m not sure what prompted families to move there, but they did, and they bought houses. Lots and lots of houses. Soon, as Vegas morphed from Sin City to a desert DisneyLand, it became impossible to escape the traffic. It finally got so bad, the City Officials closed the Strip to traffic altogether.

To (mercifully) get back to my point, all of this happens in a place that wasn’t intended to support human life, at least not comfortably. Electricity is expensive. It will get a lot more expensive in the future. There are already newspaper articles about residents not being able to afford to pay for their utilities. I am concerned about those families that may not be hurt by a mortgage crunch, but will definitely feel the heat (literally and figuratively) of fast rising utility bills. Sam Kinison used to have a bit he did about people starving in Ethiopia and in his rant he would scream “we have deserts here too, we just don’t live in them!” (it’s a little ironic to me that Sam died on a road between Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada.) At some point, I fear that people should have heeded his warnings. Maybe they can sleep in the casinos…

Edited:  Ha!  Stream of consciousness, anyone?

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I’m Glad Gore “Lost.”

Otherwise, this man would be in the White House.  underislamo.jpg

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Just When I Thought I Was Out…

copy-of-pull_in.jpgYears ago, when I first moved to the South, I met a bear of a man named Jimmy. Jimmy is Greek, came to America as a young man to take part in what he then called the greatest economy in the world. His English was decent, but spoken with an accent so thick we sometimes resorted to hand gestures to communicate. Anyway, I love this guy. He was gutting a building to turn into a Italian/Greek restaurant, and I wandered in one day, looking for work. We hit it off immediately. I started the next day, and though we fought like cats and cats, sometimes all day, come time to eat, all was forgiven. This man loved to eat.

Already an imposing 300 plus pounds, Jimmy had that wonderful European approach to meals, which is to say that they are to be taken seriously, and slowly. Typically, we’d start with a couple of pounds of shrimp, sauteed in butter and spices, and accompanied by a mountain of pita bread, cut into triangles and piled high on a platter. Of course, there was fresh pasta, usually sprinkled with some combination of butter/lemon zest and served in a large bowl. He usually consumed two bottles of wine at each meal, one with the food, and another while we compared notes on our progress afterward. Then came the meat. Jimmy liked chicken and beef, and would usually eat a lion-sized portion of each, and it was him that introduced me to Praise Allah spice. Next came the fresh green salad, roughly a pound of feta cheese, and, of course, dessert and coffee. I would sit across from him and just marvel at his ability to put away food.

Jimmy lives his whole life like he eats. He wants to do it all. His commute to work back then was 106 miles ONE WAY. Yet, sometimes, when we were all done, he would want to sit around and play poker, or just chat. He had unlimited stamina.

When I decided to open my own place, it was Jimmy who encouraged me, and, to help me get started, he let me have a few of his key employees. During my first year, he booked a couple of huge private parties for his crew and spent lavishly, and the cash flow really did bail me out of some sticky financial situations. Sometimes, he’d stop in, play a game of pool, order a drink, and toss 40 bucks on the table when he left. I can’t tell you how many servers I had to mow down to get to the table first.

Both of our businesses thrived, and we had children just weeks apart. We seldom socialized, as he lived 106 miles away, but we remained close for these last 12 years. When he expanded, he would toss me work designing his bars, writing his S.O.P. manuals, and training his staff. I liked nothing better than helping get his vision off the ground, then going back to my own life. He was determined to open similar places throughout the Atlanta area, and his first project was a monster. He designed, built, staffed and opened two huge (5000 sq ft plus) restaurants simultaneously. He was leveraged to the hilt, but he bought into the whole “economies of scale” perspective, and though driven and talented, he could not keep them both open after a year. He closed one, and seems about to close the other. No matter, he has gone back to his roots, and has some new smaller operations that are doing quite well.

We had many late night arguments about his desire to open new stores in the Atlanta area. I wanted nothing to do with Atlanta, I loathe the place, and anyway I was preparing to move to Nashville and farm a bit. Eventually, he came to realize that retro-fitting old buildings and injecting new ideas and ways of doing business into them was clearly the way to go, and if you do a little homework, you can usually find undervalued property in towns that will support a good restaurant.

Thats a little background. See, he calls yesterday, and has apparently decided to look for buildings in this area. What did I do? Open my mouth, of course, and sing the praises of my little county, which I believe is chock full of old chain restaurant buildings that can be turned into viable businesses. The whole process appeals to me, especially since I saw TGIF raze a beautiful old building down in Rivergate and build a horrible looking chrome and glass behemoth in it’s place. What a waste of material, I thought. So Jimmy says, “great! When can you start?” Sigh.

Friday, I said. So off I go today, to meet with the broker, check to see if the old owners left walk-in freezers and fridges, hood vents, grease traps, etc. I’ll take measurements, draw out a rough template and fax it all to Jimmy. It won’t matter, really, once he gets the bug, he is coming, full speed ahead. The thing is, he is expecting me to get involved beyond the initial negotiation, retrofit, and subsequent staffing and training. One does not simply tell Jimmy “no.” But I have no interest in running a restaurant again. I don’t even have much interest in eating in a restaurant again. I’m a gentleman farmer dammit!

Oh shit. I just had an idea. The thought of opening a restaurant and serving only locally grown fare does appeal to me. I wonder if I can sell him on that idea….I gotta go make a phone call.

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Big Love In Greenbrier

It turns out that I have been driving around in this 1 ton flatbed truck all week with the fuel line steadily pissing gas (at 2.67 a gallon) directly onto the hot intake manifold. Yes, of course I smelled it, but I assumed the carburetor (manufactured in 1986) was in need of a re-build. I have mad karma points banked, apparently, otherwise I’d be a filler story on WKRN’s traffic report. Or, worse, a Tennessean headline: Suspected Illegal Immigrant Sets Self, Truck Ablaze In Protest.

I own machines. Lots of them. I am pretty damn conscientious about maintenance. I change oil. I lube things. I think I am the last guy on the planet that still packs wheel bearings on my trailers. At some point, though, I must have reached my personal Peter Principle. This is where you come in. I’ve determined I need some additional wives. Or, maybe half-wives. Heres why:

Being a stay at home Dad is a role I have embraced enthusiastically. I dare say I have gotten good at it. I know where everything is at my local grocery store. I can get in and out with a week’s worth of groceries in about 20 minutes, even if I am forced to stop and jaw with a neighbor about how damn hot it is. I can cook. Ok, I can heat stuff up, but my kids eat a fairly balanced diet, and they come running when I call them for dinner, so I must do alright. I separate fabrics and colors when I do laundry. I actually move the fridge and stove out when I clean. I even manage to vacuum often, even though this sets the Pomeranian into a complete meltdown when I do. In short, I make those bitches over at Home Ec 101 look like amateurs.

The thing is, the outside chores are being left undone. I’m so far behind with everything, why, I barely have time to blog! Oh sure, I whiz around to the 1/2 dozen or so blogs I enjoy, leave a condescending comment or two, then bail, and I even read a few leftist/Marxist/traitorous news sites in the morning, but thats about it.

I can blame some of this slackership on the fact that triple digit heat makes it dangerous to work outside for long periods, but shit, Sarcastro is crawling around in people’s attics in this weather, and surely I am tougher than him, right? I thought I wanted to be a gentleman farmer. I envisoned lumbering around a little on my tractor, stacking a few bales of hay in my barn, maybe growing a medium-sized garden. I wanted to smile contentedly while my children laugh and spin on a tire swing. But mostly I wanted to sit atop my fence in a pair comfy jeans, drink some sweet tea and smoke Winstons while I gaze out at my kingdom. (Think Robert Redford in “The Horse Whisperer.”)

It’s not working out that way. Oh yeah I get to toodle around on the tractor a little, but the damn things are hell to maintain, every part weighs more than a compact car, and I know as much about a diesel engine as Glen Dean does about original thought. (Once, though, Ginger and Big Bad Ivy helped me put an implement on my tractor, which really set me to thinking about the whole “I need more wives” thing) Gardens, it turns out, are not self-weeding. That tire swing? Yup, got one, it’s attached to the only tree on the property that hasn’t fallen from eroding soil or been hit by lightning. And the Winstons? 40 cents more a pack, so I have resorted to fishing other people’s butts out of public ashtrays and crossing my fingers that their herpes are in remission.

All of which is to say that I need help. Now. I have enough connections in the Southwest to ensure a steady flow of Mexicans arrive at my farm, but that won’t work, since Aunt B is here alot and she keeps chasing them around until they BEG me to drop them off with Daron Hall. Apparently, there isn’t a single unemployed white guy in this county, since not one responded to my posts at the library’s bulletin board. (thats where unemployed white guys go, right?)

So, I am looking for “wives.” I use quotation marks because it’s important for me to make clear that this is no traditional wife-like role. I’m not seeking additional sex-partners. As a Coyote Creek Honorary Wife, you are expected to keep a supply of boyfriends/girlfriends/lovers that you see on your own time. Please do not bother me with whatever petty physical needs you may have, I’m a busy man, with a rapidly diminishing sperm count, and I am usually asleep by 8:00 pm anyway, sloughing off any remaining testosterone as I slumber. So, do what you have to do.

The wives selected will enjoy unfettered access to well over 90 acres of hayfields and hollers, creeks and cabins, silence and solitude. Grow what you like to eat. Smell the wildflowers. Photograph the deer, or coyotes. Ride the horses. Or, sit your ass in front of the tube and watch the women’s porn channel, HGTV. I don’t care. Just do your share of chores ’round the place, and you’ll get no shit from me. The Primary wife has earned the right to paint or carve gourds all day if she likes, she is to be left undisturbed at all times.

With enough suitable candidates, each will have just a few things to do. Maybe only one. There could be the Shopping Wife. Another could be designated the Cooking Wife. The Help-The-kids-With-Homework Wife. Use your imagination. Once we get caught up, and this place runs like a well-oiled machine, I could then go about my ministry again. (you didn’t know I even had a ministry, didja?) Well I do. I won’t go into it right now, but it basically involves me saving the world.

That can wait.

To apply, send me an email, with a detailed explanation of why I should pick you over any others. Please keep it to under 600 words. Attach a photo, a copy of your Equifax report, your 06 tax returns, (I did mention you will still have to work a regular job, right?) and at least three letters of recommendation. Wiccans need not apply. (It’s not that I don’t love you guys and your wacky rituals and everything, but y’all are a lazy bunch.)

I’ll be in touch.

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Help Wanted: Bloggers

I know MusicCity Bloggers and Nashville is Talking are both looking for bloggers to help fill in for the “regulars”, and there seems to be a movement afoot wherein local bloggers cross-post on each other’s blogs, so there may be a shortage of people with the time, inclination, and talent to do so.  How else do you explain this Tennessean Blog?  I would have thought the Tennessean would have demanded some experience with basic grammar, if not a grasp for the subject matter at hand.  It seems neither is required.  I stopped reading the Tennessean long ago, but I stumbled across this moron’s writings completely by accident, and now I am hooked, like racing fans, because I know a fiery wreck is inevitable.

So, am I left wondering if the Tennessean’s standards are indeed that low, or if we have a Nashville version of Jeff Gannon running around…who’s this guy, um, buffing?

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I Didn’t Put Them There

I have 36 messages in my “bulk” folder.  Just sayin.

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